Month: April 2017

Manchester derby ends in goalless stalemate

Manchester City and Manchester United fought out to a goalless draw at the Etihad Stadium to keep their hopes of a place in the Premier League’s top four alive.

Jose Mourinho would arguably be the happier man as Manchester United extended their unbeaten streak in the Premier League to 24 games — a record-equalling streak.

City would rue missing chances to win at their home turf as Sergio Aguero found the woodwork early on while substitute Gabriel Jesus had a later header correctly ruled out for offside.

Nonetheless, both teams would not come off the match unscathed as United midfielder Marouane Fellaini was sent off late on while City keeper Claudio Bravo may not play for the rest of season after leaving the pitch with an injury.

Bravo, 34, had to leave the pitch on a stretcher after hurting himself while catching a cross and clearing the ball, and was replaced by Willy Caballero. City coach Pep Guardiola said that he would probably be out for weeks.

On the other hand, Fellaini was shown a straight red in the 84th minute, seconds after being booked for tripping Aguero and a headbutt, but United held on to the goalless draw regardless.

The result meant that United remain fifth in the table, one point behind fourth-placed City and two behind Liverpool, who have played one game more.

While this somewhat solidify United’s quest for a top-four spot, two of the club’s final five games are away at sixth-placed Arsenal on 7 May and second-placed Tottenham on 14 May — and without Fellaini as well as several injured key players it could mean that Mourinho is facing very challenging fixtures with a depleted United team.

Manchester United showing “concrete interest” in Griezmann

It has been claimed that Manchester United has shown “concrete interest” in the signing of Antoine Griezmann, whose buyout clause at Atletico Madrid is priced at €100m.

The claim was made by the 26-year-old’s agent Eric Olhats, who also added that the buyout clause would limit Griezmann’s suitors to wealthy candidates only.

“We’re at the stage of gathering information from clubs who have a concrete interest,” Olhats said in a TV interview.

“There is an unavoidable €100m clause so that restricts the number of candidates. You have United, [Manchester] City, Chelsea, Barcelona and Real Madrid, (But) United were the first to come and see us and the most concrete in their wishes.“

The claims also comes after United, who are fifth in the Premier League, were reduced in their attacking ranks as their  top goalscorer Zlatan Ibrahimovic was ruled out for a lengthy period after injuring his cruciate knee ligament in their Europa League match against Anderlecht.

After Ibrahimovic, their next highest scorer was the injured Juan Mata with six goals, and 19-year-old Marcus Rashford who has five.

The Red Devils were also the team to have scored the least number of goals among the top six sides. It was obvious that to strengthen their attack, they need someone like Griezmann, who has scored 25 goals for Atletico Madrid so far this season.

Nonetheless, Griezmann himself had played down possibility on a move to United on a few separate occasions before, saying that he “felt great at the club and in Madrid”.

Mourinho: Ibrahimovic and Rojo injuries “fairly negative”

Jose Mourinho said that the prognosis of the knee injuries suffered by Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Marcos Rojo were “fairly negative”.

Both players had been taken off in stretchers in Manchester United’s Europa League fixture against Anderlecht, after Ibrahimovic landed awkwardly after an aerial challenge while Rojo had to be substituted just after 23 minutes following a collision with an opposition player.

Ibrahimovic, 35, has also yet to agree a new one-year deal at United there are fears that the Swede might never play for the club again should it prove a long-term problem. His top-scoring presence is needed as United continues to fight for a Champions League spot through placing in the Premier League top four in case they miss out on the Europa League trophy.

“I don’t think they are easy injuries but I prefer to wait until all the tests are done and then speak,” Mourinho said. “I can’t do that because I am a manager not a doctor. But the news is fairly negative, I think.”

However, Mourinho believed that Phil Jones and Chris Smalling to “be brave for the team” and try and accelerate recovery from injury to fill in the new gaps within the ranks of the Red Devils. Smalling has a knee problem and Jones a toe injury which appeared to rule them out until mid-May.

When asked how soon the pair might come back, Mourinho said: “(As a player) If it was me, tomorrow. But no, they cannot do miracles. But rather than mid-May make it early May.”

On the other hand, the Portuguese manager also showered praise on Luke Shaw as the defender refused to leave the pitch despite cramp at the end of normal time.

“Luke did something different. He told me: ‘I’m going to play 30 minutes with cramps, no problem — I’m ready for it. These things are what make me trust the players. I am tired but I imagine the players are tired more than me. But we still have the dream of winning the Europa League.”