Manchester United 3-0 Stoke City

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15 December 2018

Paul Pogba was exceptional as Man United comfortably beat Stoke City, who had new boss Paul Lambert watching in the stands.

It was mostly comfortable for United, but Stoke did threaten a few times. United could’ve had a penalty early on when Anthony Martial fell in the penalty area but, the referee didn’t give it.

In the 9th minute, Antonio Valencia gave United the lead with a wonderful strike. After picking up the ball from Pogba, he cut inside onto his left foot, before curling the ball into the top left corner.

Cher dan Shaqiri tried a fantastic overhead kick which David de Gea comfortably saved. Stephen Ireland, who was starting his first game since April 2015, had two similar chances to score, but he fired both wide. Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting had a close range effort blocked by Phil Jones.

But, in the 38th minute, Anthony Martial doubled United’s lead with another brilliant goal. From another Pogba assist, as he found Martial with a neat pass, Martial curled a superb finish past Jack Butland from 20 yards.

Just before half-time Shaqiri had a really good chance to half the deficit but, de Gea got down to push away his low effort after finding space for a shot.

Juan Mata came close to extending the lead during the second half, as he fired narrowly wide after being set up by Jesse Lingard.

In the 72nd minute, Romelu Lukaku added a third. Lukaku had worked really hard during the game and his hold up play had been excellent, so he deserved a goal. He managed to make some space past two Stoke defenders in the box, before firing low and hard past Butland.

Butland had to prevent substitute Marcus Rashford from adding a third, before de Gea had to deny Mame Biram Diouf, who fired the rebound wide, to preserve his clean sheet.

As it looks like Alexis Sanchez could be heading to United, things are looking positive. Where Sanchez would fit in is a big question. All the attacking players worked well together in this game, so it would be interesting to see which player Sanchez would replace.

United remain in second place, but the gap to City has been cut to 12 points after they lost their unbeaten league record against Liverpool. Stoke remain in the relegation zone, a point adrift of fourth-bottom Southampton.

Next up for United is a tough away trip to Burnley next Saturday, the 20 January. Hopefully we can continue our winning form.

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Cardiff City 4-0 Sunderland

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13 December 2017

Cardiff City ended a four-match Championship losing run with a comfortable win over 10-man Sunderland.

There wasn’t much action in the first half, with few chances in an even half. Joe Ralls had an effort from the edge of the box brilliantly saved by Robbin Ruiter and Hoilett curled a free-kick narrowly wide.

But, the first 10 minutes of he second half was full of action. In the first minute of the second half, Ralls’ corner found Callum Paterson who headed in via the underside of the crossbar.

It went from bad to worse for Sunderland, who had Didier Ndong sent off in the 49th minute for a challenge on Junior Hoilett. There wasn’t much hope for Sunderland as they were a goal down and a man down.

City went two goals up in the 55th minute through Ralls. From a Sunderland free-kick, Cardiff cleared the ball. The ball got to Kenneth Zohore, who shrugged off Jake Clarke-Salter, before squaring to Ralls, who emphatically swept the ball past Ruiter with a first-time finish.

Paterson added a third in the 80th minute as he slotted in with his weaker foot after Zohore’s free-kick had deflected into his path. And at the end of stoppage time, new loan signing Yanic Wildschut, who came on as a substitute, squared the ball for Anthony Pilkington to tap in from close range. This was City’s biggest winning margin since the 3-0 win over Aston Villa back in August.

Defeat made it a disappointing return for Chris Coleman to a stadium where he had managed Wales and had seen some great moments. But, the Cardiff fans saw the other side of him, which is that he is from Swansea, so they jeered him.

City were briefly in second after this game but, went back down to third after Derby’s win at Birmingham. Meanwhile, Sunderland remain bottom of the table, with a lot of work for Coleman to do.

Next up for City is the FA Cup replay at Mansfield next Tuesday, the 16 January, with a home tie against Manchester City at stake. Next up in the league is a trip to Sheffield Wednesday next Saturday, the 20 January. Hopefully we can continue our winning form and keep up our push for promotion.

Manchester United 0-0 Southampton

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30 December 2017

United lacked any spark as they were unable to break Southampton down at Old Trafford.

The first half didn’t have much action, with both teams struggling to create clear-cut chances. Romelu Lukaku came close to scoring, heading over after Juan Mata had crossed the ball into him.

But, in the 14th minute, Lukaku went off with a head injury. He was stretchered off the field. He had played every minute of every game of this season prior to that match. Having scored 11 in his first 10 matches, he has only scored 4 in his last 19.

Southampton came close to scoring early on, as James Ward-Prowse forced David de Gea. But it was a moment after that that caused Jose Mourinho to be frustrated after the game.

The ball clearly struck Maya Yoshida’s arm in the box but, the referee didn’t give it. Southampton were very lucky not to concede a penalty.

During the first half Juan Mata forced Alex McCarthy, who replaced Fraser Forster for this game, into a save and Jesses Lingard headed wide when in a good position.

The second half was a similar story, as a lacklustre United failed to break down Southampton. But, it was Southampton who came closest to scoring as de Gea somehow pushed Shane Long’s effort onto the bar and over.

Late on, Paul Pogba had the ball in the net, but he was in an offside position. The ball might’ve still gone in if Pogba had left Nemanja Matic’s effort, which could’ve gone on off the post.

I believe that Mourinho has to stop having a go at other people and have a look at himself. The penalty was for one goal, United should be beating Southampton comfortably,

Mourinho has been talking a lot about money in the past few days, especially regarding Liverpool paying £75million for Virgil Van Dijk but, a United starting line-up worth £378million could not break down a Southampton team without Van Dijk at the back.

United drop to third after Chelsea beat Stoke 5-0, whilst Southampton are 13th, just two points above the relegation zone after going eight games without a win.

Next up for United is a trip to Everton next Monday, the 1 January. Hopefully we can get back to winning ways.

Cardiff City 0-1 Preston

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29 December 2017

Preston scored in the 90th minute to hand Cardiff their third successive defeats, as they failed to move back into the Championship top two.

In a first half lacking quality, Joe Ralls had an effort from outside the box, which went narrowly wide after being deflected, whilst Preston had a couple of penalty appeals turned down.

Cardiff were lacking the spark that has been there all season in a game was lacking any sort of spark. It was always going to take one goal to win the match.

The goal came in the 90th minute through Tom Clarke. From a corner Paul Huntington had a free header which went straight at City goalkeeper Neil Etheridge, who palmed the ball away. Then, in a goalmouth scramble the ball fell to Clarke who headed in.

Rhys Healey forced Chris Maxwell deep into stoppage time but, in the end Preston held on to move within a point of the play-off spots. On Neil Warnock’s 1400th game as a manager, his team fell to a third successive defeat.

Cardiff had never lost three successive games under Warnock and we are now fourth, after Derby, who have climbed to second, beat Ipswich 2-1. We are now 11 points off Wolves, who beat Bristol City. We are one point off Derby and behind third-placed Bristol City on goal difference.

Next up for the Bluebirds is a trip to QPR next Monday, the 1 January. Hopefully we can get back to winning ways.

Bolton 2-0 Cardiff City

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Bolton scored two late goals to inflict a fourth Championship defeat of the season on Cardiff City and end City’s six-game unbeaten run.

There wasn’t much goalmouth action in the first half. Sol Bamba had an effort saved after Junior Hoilett’s free-kick had been flicked on by a Bolton defender.

Hoilett thought he had scored during the first half but he was in an offside position when he received the ball from Omar Bogle.

Bolton took the lead in the 75th minute through a Gary Madine penalty after a Sol Bamba handball. It was slightly harsh as Bamba was right by the Bolton player who headed the ball at his arm but, his arm was in an unnatural position.

Then, in the 88th minute, Josh Vela doubled Bolton’s lead. After some poor defending which allowed Bolton to split the defence open, Madine squared for Vela to tap-in from close range.

In the end, City weren’t able to break Bolton down, with Bolton frustrating City throughout. Neil Warnock even subbed off substitute Lee Tomlin after he had only been on for 10 minutes but, Warnock said that it was because he didn’t want Tomlin, who was on a yellow card, getting sent off.

Cardiff remain in second, but are now seven points off leaders Wolves. Wolves should remain at the top all season with the amount of money they have spent and probably will spend. Meanwhile, Bolton are 23rd, one point away from safety.

Next up for the Bluebirds are Fulham at home next Tuesday, the 26 December.

West Brom 1-2 Manchester United

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17 December 2017

Man United moved back to within 11 points of Premier League leaders Manchester City by overcoming West Brom.

United started strongly in the first half. In the 27th minute, United opened the scoring through Romelu Lukaku. From a Marcus Rashford cross, Lukaku headed in to give United the lead. Once again his celebrations were muted, but they might’ve been in respect for his former club.

United doubled the lead in the 35th minute through Jesse Lingard. From the edge of the box, Lingard’s shot was on target, but beat West Brom keeper Ben Foster via a Ahmed Hegazi deflection.

In one of West Brom’s only times attacking United, Jake Livermore managed to test David de Gea from outside the box. But, United were looking comfortable.

West Brom were better in the second half, attacking United more. Rashford came close to extending United’s lead, as he fired narrowly wide. Lingard also had an effort on goal, firing straight at Foster following a counter-attack.

West Brom felt that they should’ve had a penalty when Ashley Young blocked off James McClean, allowing de Gea. McClean felt as if he had been barged to the floor.

West Brom pulled a goal back in the 77th minute, as Gareth Barry tapped in after a scramble in the box following a corner. Jay Rodriguez came close to equalising, but he headed a Chris Brunt cross wide.

West Brom came close again to equalising, with another scramble following a corner but, this time the ball ended up in de Gea’s hands. In the end, United held on for the win.

United manager Jose Mourinho said his side would fight until the end after moving back to within 11 points of Man City. He said that he would go on holiday if he felt it was impossible to catch City.

It was less routine than it was supposed to be for United, but a win’s a win. All United can do is keep winning and hope that City falter at some point.

If Lukaku starts scoring again that will help United get more wins. He has now scored 15 times for United and three in his past four appearances.

United remain in second, 11 points off runaway leaders City. West Brom are in the relegation zone in 19th place, two points away from safety.

Next up for United is a trip to Bristol City in the EFL Cup next Wednesday, the 20 December. Next up in the league is a trip to Leicester next Saturday, the 23 December. Hopefully we can continue our winning form.

Cardiff City 1-0 Hull City

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16 December 2017

A goal from Sol Bamba gave Cardiff a narrow victory over Hull to keep up the pressure on Championship leaders Wolves.

Cardiff were quite poor in the first half, as we over-played quite a few times. Nouha Dicko tested Neil Etheridge early on, but it was a comfortable save for Etheridge. Dicko came very close to scoring soon after that, as he hit the post from a difficult angle.

With about half an hour played, Lee Tomlin had an effort saved from close range. If he’d hit it either side of the keeper it would’ve gone in but, he hit it straight at the keeper. Tomlin had another very good chance in the first half, but this time he sliced the ball over the bar from inside the box.

Cardiff came out much stronger in the second half, and Junior Hoilett came very close to heading in after Sol Bamba had headed across the face of goal.

In the 57th minute, Cardiff took the lead through Bamba. From a Tomlin cross, Anthony Pilkington flicked it on to Bamba, who headed in past Allan McGregor, who was on loan at Cardiff last season. Bamba was fantastic all game.

The closest Hull came to an equaliser was a wayward long-range effort from Sen Larsson. Only a Michael Dawson block prevented Tomlin from doubling Cardiff’s lead.

In the end Cardiff held on to extend the unbeaten home record and to remain only four points off leaders Wolves. The Bluebirds did really well considering they have nine first team players injured.

Whilst Cardiff are second, Hull are 19th, five points above the relegation zone. Next up for the Bluebirds is a trip to Bolton next Saturday, the 23 December. Hopefully we can continue our winning form.

Reading 2-2 Cardiff City

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11 December 2017

Two goals in seven minutes from Cardiff rescued a dramatic draw to stay within four points of Championship leaders Wolves.

It was a very poor first-half performance from Cardiff, as Reading went 2-0 up. The first was a Callum Paterson own goal, as there was a lack of communication from goalkeeper Neil Etheridge, with Paterson heading in from a corner.

The second also came following a corner. After a corner had been cleared to the edge of the box, Mo Barrow fired at goal, with the ball deflected off a City player past Etheridge.

Cardiff were much better in the second half. Reading had a couple of chances, but it was mostly Cardiff. Junior Hoilett should’ve scored after Nathaniel Mendez-Laing had crossed the ball into him but, he headed the ball into the ground and over the bar.

Omar Bogle, who didn’t play too well, twice failed to finish off chances in the penalty area. It looked as if it wasn’t going to be City’s day and it was going to be Reading’s day.

But, we came back in the last 10 minutes. In the 83rd minute, Joe Bennett volleyed in excellently to set up a tense finish.

And in stoppage time, Lee Tomlin’s shot just crept over the line after hitting the underside of the bar after Sol Bamba’s header had hit the bar. It showed great character to come back from two goals down after a very poor first half.

It had looked like being a forgettable night for Cardiff when manager Neil Warnock was sent to the stands by referee Steve Martin with 13 minutes remaining, having shown his frustration on one occasion too many. But, Warnock was very angry about it after the game.

City remain second, four points off leaders Wolves. Reading climb to 14th after extending their unbeaten run to five games.

Next up for the Bluebirds are Hull City at home next Saturday, the 16 December. Hopefully we can get back to winning ways.

Manchester United 1-2 Manchester City

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10 December 2017

Nicolas Otamendi scored the winner for Man City, as they extended their lead at the top of the table to 11 points.

There wasn’t many chances during the first half, with City testing de Gea a few times. Gabriel Jesus felt that he should’ve been awarded a penalty when he thought he’d been tripped, but the referee didn’t give it.

But, the game opened up in the last few minutes of the first half. In the the 43rd minute, City took the lead through David Silva. After a corner had come into the box, the ball came off Romelu Lukaku to Silva, who hooked the ball into the net.

But City’s lead didn’t last long as United equalised in the second minute of stoppage time through Marcus Rashford. The ball had been crossed in towards Rashford, with Fabian Delph, who should’ve dealt with it comfortably, missing the ball, allowing Rashford to slot in.

In the second half, once again a mistake from Lukaku from a Man City set-piece led to City regaining the lead in the 54th minute through Otamendi. Lukaku, who had a poor game, lashed at a clearance which hit one of his team-mates, and falling to Otamendi, who finished the opportunity.

Jose Mourinho was very annoyed after the math because of the incident in the 79th minute, when Ander Herrera was giving a yellow card for diving in the box, when it appeared that there was contact from Otamendi.

United continued to press, with City goalkeeper Ederson making a double-save to deny Lukaku and Juan Mata. They should’ve scored. But in the end City held on to make it 14 Premier League victories in a row.

Both managers, especially Mourinho, had a lot to say after the game. Mourinho said that United’s title hopes are “probably” over because referee Michael Oliver failed to award the penalty when Herrera was tripped. He also called City “lucky”.

Pep Guardiola hit back after Mourinho had said that City players go down too easily. He also said that they were the team who wanted to play more and that it was the same last season when Mourinho again had a go at the referee.

United struggled to mount a lot of pressure on a City team who have only dropped two points in 16 league games so far. They are the first team to win 14 successive English top-flight games in a single season.

This result ended United’s 40-match unbeaten run at home – which stretched back to City’s win here in September 2016.

The more games City’s rivals lose, the further they fall away, which makes it look very hard for teams to catch City. City’s fans stayed in their seats long after the game, taunting United.

United’s line-up looked attacking, but they struggled to threaten City. This result is a critical blow to United and gave Guardiola the victory over rival Mourinho.

United remain second, 11 points adrift league leaders Man City. Next up for United are Bournemouth at home next Wednesday the 13 December. Hopefully we can get back to winning ways.

Arsenal 1-3 Manchester United

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A brilliant tactical performance from United, including a magnificent performance from goalkeeper David de Gea, helped United to be the first side to win a league game at Arsenal since January.

In what was a breathtaking game throughout, United took the lead in the 4th minute. Laurent Koscielny played a poor cross field pass which was intercepted by Antonio Valencia, before he played it to Paul Pogba, who gave it back to him, and Valencia finished under Petr Cech.

After another defensive mistake in the 11th minute, Jesse Lingard doubled United’s lead. After robbing Skhodran Mustafi, he linked up with Romelu Lukaku and Anthony Martial, before side-footing past Cech.

Those goals meant United had scored as many goals in 11 minutes as they had in eight away fixtures against the Premier League’s so-called ‘big six’ clubs.

It was a breathtaking first half, with 20 shots on goal in total. Alexandre Lacazette hit the bar from close range, with Granit Xhaka firing narrowly wide in a goalmouth scramble. De Gea, who was simply fantastic, denied Hector Bellerin, Sead Kolasinac, and spectacularly keeping out a Romelu Lukaku own goal.

But, de Gea was finally beaten four minutes after the break, as Lacazette pulled a goal back for Arsenal. The ball was played over the top to Aaron Ramsey, who tapped it off to Lacazette, who had a simple finish.

One of the best saves that de Gea made was a double save, which denied Lacazette and then Alexis Sanchez. First, he got down low to stop Lacazette’s effort and then was able to get his leg back up to deny Sanchez’s follow-up.

But, with Arsenal pressing and only allowing United 26% possession in the first 15 minutes of the second half, United counter-attacked Arsenal brilliantly to open up a two-goal lead again. After Pogba had burst into the box, he squared it for Lingard, who tapped in his second of the match.

Pogba was sent off for a stamp on Hector Berellin in the 74th minute but, that didn’t affect United, who held on to stop Arsenal recording 12 straight league home wins and to secure a first win for Mourinho in his past 12 away fixtures against the ‘big six’.

Arsenal could’ve had a penalty late on, as Danny Welbeck was caught by Matteo Darmian, but by then, the 10 men of United had managed to weather the storm that Arsenal threw at them.

The only negative that came out of one of the matches of the season is the fact that Pogba will now miss three games, including the Manchester Derby next weekend.

Arsenal will wonder how they only managed to score once, but de Gea was simply incredible in goal. He was praised after the match by both managers.

United remain in second place, eight points off leaders Man City, whilst Arsenal drop out of the Champions League qualification places into fifth.

Next up for United is the Manchester Derby next Sunday, the 10 December. Hopefully we can continue our winning form.