Manchester United 3-0 Basel


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Man United beat Basel comfortably at home, as they made a winning return to the Champions League.

United were always going to dominate possession, but it was all about turning that possession into goals. Henrick Mkhitaryan came close early on with a header which went over.

Soon after that, Paul Pogba went down with a hamstring injury, with Marouane Fellaini coming on for him. Pogba’s injury will be a blow to United, as he could be out for more than a month.

Mkhitaryan missed another great chance to put United in front. After Romelu Lukaku had gone past his man, he squared it to Mkhitaryan, whose first shot was saved onto the post by the keeper, and his follow-up was blocked.

Basel hardly threatened all match, but they nearly took the lead, with Luca Zuffi firing wide from an unmarked position in the box.

In the 35th minute, United took the lead through Fellaini. From Ashley Young’s cross on the right, Fellaini jumped highest to head home. He showed that United won’t have to miss Pogba too much.

Mourinho had said earlier in the weak that he feels “weaker” without Fellaini and his performance in this game would’ve supported Mourinho’s claim.

In the second half, United continued to dominate and Anthony Martial forced the keeper into a save, with a deflected shot which bounced up. From the resulting corner, United doubled their lead.

Daley Blind played a one-two from a corner, before crossing into the box. Lukaku rose highest to head home. It was Lukaku’s Champions League debut.

Basel came very close to scoring after that goal. Mohamed Elyounoussi turned Victor Lindelof, before firing towards the roof of the net but, David de Gea pulled off a fantastic save to thwart him.

Marcus Rashford finished off the scoring in the 84th minute. From Fellaini’s pull-back, Rashford fired home. He has now scored on his first appearance in the Champions League, Premier League, Europa League, FA Cup, League Cup and for England.

The scoreline could have been even greater for Jose Mourinho’s dominant side, but they will be satisfied that they managed to get the 3 points on their first appearance in the Champions League since 2015.

Even though Fellaini has been very poor in the past, I have to admit that United won’t be that much worse with him in the team instead of Pogba.

In the other game in Group A, CSKA Moscow beat Benfica 2-1 in Portugal. Next up for United in the Champions League is a trip to CSKA Moscow on Wednesday, the 27 September.

Next up for United domestically is a home game against Everton, where Wayne Rooney will return to the club where he is the club’s all-time top goalscorer. Hopefully we can carry on our good form with 3 points.


Preston 3-0 Cardiff City


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Preston outplayed Cardiff at Deepdale, as the Bluebirds lost their unbeaten record this season and their place at the top of the table.

Preston started brightly, with Sean Maguire testing Neil Etheridge. Next to test Etheridge in goal was Jordan Hugill, with Maguire’s rebound being blocked by Joe Bennett’s well-timed challenge.

From the resulting corner, Ben Davies headed narrowly wide. The only time City came anywhere near scoring was when it was 0-0, with Joe Ralls’ shot deflected just wide of the post.

In the 38th minute, Preston took the lead through Josh Harrop. They were awarded a free-kick 25 yards from goal and Harris stepped up, curling low into the bottom right corner. It was his first goal since his summer move from Manchester United.

Maguire could’ve doubled the lead before half-time, but his header was straight at Etheridge. Preston could’ve scored early on in he second half, with Darnell Fisher forcing Etheridge into a save.

With City struggling, Neil Warnock made a double substitution, bringing on Lee Tomlin and Liam Feeney for Loic Damour and Junior Hoilett.

But, Preston doubled their lead in the 70th minute through Maguire. Tom Barkhuizen played in Maguire, who finished from a tight angle.

Cardiff huffed and puffed but couldn’t find a way past a defence which has only conceded two this campaign. In the 78th minute, Alan Browne finished it off, as he lobbed Etheridge, who was off his line. But, Etheridge got a touch on the ball and should’ve stopped it.

The scoreline was the same scoreline as last season, when they suffered the same fate under Paul Trollope.

With Leeds winning against Birmingham, they replace Cardiff at the top of the table, while Preston rise to fifth.

Next up for the Bluebirds is a home game against Sheffield Wednesday on Saturday, the 16 September. Hopefully we can get back to winning ways.

Stoke City 2-2 Manchester United


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A brace from Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting earned Stoke a point against Man United, which ended their 100% start to the season.

For most of the first half, there weren’t many clear chances, with Marcus Rashford coming close, having a couple of efforts saved by Stoke goalkeeper Jack Butland.

In the 43rd minute Stoke took the lead through Choupo-Moting. It was poor defending from United, as Mame Biram Diouf was given too much space on the right to cross in for Choupo-Moting, who Eric Bailly lost. It was a good finish from Choupo-Moting.

That was the first goal United had conceded in the league in 535 minutes. But, United conceded less than three minutes later through Marcus Rashford. From a corner, Nemanja Matic headed the ball on and Paul Pogba’s header went on off the back of Rashford.

In the second half, in the 57th minute, United took the lead through Romelu Lukaku. From Henrick Mkhitaryan’s through ball, Lukaku had a shot saved, before firing in the rebound with Jack Butland on the floor.

But, like Stoke didn’t hold on for long in the first half, United didn’t hold on for long in the second half. In the 62nd minute, David de Gea pulled off a magnificent save to deny Jesé from close range. From the resulting corner, Phil Jones lost Choupo-Moting allowing him to head in and draw Stoke level.

In the 81st minute, Lukaku had an excellent chance to put United in front but he fired over from close range from Antonio Valencia’s cross.

Then in stoppage time, Jack Butland, who was brilliant, prevented an own goal by Kurt Zouma. He dropped low to his right to palm the ball away.

Since Sir Alex Ferguson’s retirement, United have not won on this ground. They had kept a clean sheet in every game this season but, defensive mistakes cost them the victory in this game which will frustrate Jose Mourinho.

During the second half, there was a heated moment between Mourinho and Stoke manager Mark Hughes. Hughes had told Mourinho to get out of his technical box and after the game, Mourinho didn’t want to shake Hughes’ hand.

When asked about the incident after the game Hughes refused to speak about it and said that it was a bad question.

United remain in top spot by goal difference and Stoke are in 10th spot. Next up for United is a home game against Basel in the Champions League. Hopefully we can start the Champions League campaign with 3 points.

Their next game in the league is a home game against Everton. Hopefully we can get back to winning ways in the Premier League.

Fulham 1-1 Cardiff City


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Cardiff lost their 100% record but, they stayed unbeaten thanks to a late header from Danny Ward to remain top of the Championship.

During a first half which Fulham shaded, Ryan Sessegnon came close to scoring with two left-footed shots which went wide. On his debut for Fulham, Yohan Mollo fired a free-kick just wide. Neil Etheridge had to be alert, first to deny Stefan Johanssen, and then to deny Floyd Ayite on the follow-up.

Cardiff came close through a Sean Morrison header which was saved in the bottom corner. It was always going to be tough to carry on the 100% record against a good Fulham side but, City did show very good organisation to defend against Fulham’s dangerous attack.

In the second half, Ayite came very close to opening scoring with a shot which hit the post. Etheridge nearly gifted Fulham a goal, after a sliced clearance fell to Johanssen, whose effort was blocked by Joe Bennett.

In the 75th minute, Sessegnon gave Fulham the lead. After Bennett blocked Ayite’s effort, Sessegnon cane in to slot the ball past Etheridge from close range.

It looked like that goal had ended City’s 100% record. But, in the 83rd minute, substitute Liam Feeney, crossed into the box and Ward headed past Fulham goalkeeper David Button to equalise for Cardiff. It was his first competitive goal since joining in the summer.

Neil Warnock has never won at Fulham and this game extended that run. But, Warnock seemed satisfied with this point. For large parts of this game it was attack v defence and the Bluebirds were very organised.

City remain top of the table with 16 points, whilst Fulham are 13th with 7 points. They have only won 1 in 11.

Next up for the Bluebirds is a trip to Preston on Tuesday, the 12 September. Hopefully we can keep up our great start with 3 points.

Wales 1-0 Austria


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Substitute Ben Woodburn scored a fantastic goal on his debut to revive Wales’ hopes of qualifying for the World Cup 2018.

The first half was scrappy with Austria playing the better and coming the closest to opening the scoring. Marko Arnautovic skied the ball, when he was in a very good position. Marcel Sabitzer also gave Wayne Hennessey an easy save when in a very good position.

Wales did have a few efforts on goal, with Aaron Ramsey firing narrowly over. Wales were overrun in midfield, as Austria had an extra man in their midfield.

At half time, Chris Coleman made a change from 5-4-1 to 4-2-3-1 through bringing on Andy King for Jazz Richards. Wales needed something as this was a must-win game if I wanted to still have a chance of qualification for the World Cup.

Wales came out with more fight and motivation in the second half and looked like they wanted to win. Ramsey came close to scoring, having a shot blocked from close range. Gareth Bale, who had missed the last game in Serbia through suspension had a long-shot saved.

The referee was having a fairly poor game and after Ramsey had a shot saved, he gave a goal-kick, much to the despair of the Welsh players and fans. Nothing seemed to happen for the Welsh.

In the 69th minute, Coleman made another change, bringing on Woodburn and Hal Robson-Kanu for Tom Lawrence, whose first competitive start it was and Sam Vokes respectively. Both had worked extremely hard but nothing seemed to happen for them.

The moment of brilliance, which Wales so desperately needed, came in the 74th minute. Woodburn brought down a ball in the air with a brilliant touch, took another touch, before curling a delightful strike away from the keeper to spark the Welsh fans into madness in celebration.

A few minutes after the goal, Austria came really close to equalising, with Ashley Williams, who was immense in this game, blocking Arnautovic’s shot off the line.

Wales did hang on for the remainder of the game but, they could’ve extended their lead. Robson-Kanu fired over when he could’ve passed to Bale, who would’ve been one-on-one with the keeper. Bale had a over-head kick saved by the keeper. Robson-Kanu hit the post with a low shot.

Before this game, their hopes of qualifying for the World Cup next year in Russia were hanging on a thread after five draws in a row. But, after this win, coupled with Ireland drawing 1-1 at Georgia, means their hopes have been lifted.

With only the group winners getting automatic qualification, play-offs could be the main hope, with Wales four points off leaders Serbia and two points off second-placed Ireland.

Next up for Wales is a trip to Moldova on Tuesday, the 5 September. Ireland are playing Serbia, so at least one of those teams will drop points. We can still qualify.

Needing victory to maintain a realistic prospect of qualifying automatically, Wales were overrun by Austria in a goalless first half

With Serbia’s victory over Moldova strengthening their position at the top of Group D, Wales remain four points behind the leaders with three games left.

However, Chris Coleman’s side have narrowed the gap on the second-placed Republic of Ireland to two points following a draw for Martin O’Neill’s men in Georgia.

They travel to face the Moldovans on Tuesday – while Ireland host the Serbs – before a trip to Georgia and a potential decider with the Irish in Cardiff next month.

Only the nine group winners in Europe’s qualifying procedure automatically earn a place in next year’s tournament in Russia, while the eight best runners-up enter the play-offs.

And although Wales’ hopes of qualifying automatically remain out of their hands, the fact they still have any chance at all – and the manner in which Woodburn ensured that was the case – made for a delirious atmosphere in Cardiff.

Even before they appeared to be heading for a stalemate against Austria, Wales’ chances of qualifying were already hanging by a thread having drawn their five previous games.

Coleman had said they needed to win their remaining four fixtures to be in contention for automatic qualification and, knowing even a draw could be terminal

Whether Wales reach the finals in Russia or not, Coleman has said this World Cup campaign will be his last in charge of his country, though he claimed thoughts of his future had not entered his mind in the build-up to this vital fixture.

Wolves 1-2 Cardiff City


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Cardiff continued their perfect start to the Championship, whilst ending Wolves’s.

City came closest in the first half, with Junior Hoilett having a low shot from outside the box saved. From the resulting corner, Sol Bamba hit the bar from a couple of yards out with a header.

Wolves also came close in the first half, with Bright Enobakhare shooting just wide. This game was always going to be a tough game for the Bluebirds, as Wolves spent so much money in the summer.

Both benches were involved in an angry exchange in the first half, after Loic Damour’s foul on Romain Saiss – for which the Cardiff midfielder was booked.

City opened the scoring in the 54th minute through Joe Ralls. Hoilett beat his man on the left before squaring it for Ralls, who slotted it into the corner.

Kenneth Zohore was denied a fine solo goal by the Wolves keeper. It kept his team in the game and that proved decisive, as Wolves drew level in the 67th minute.

After City keeper Neil Etheridge could only push out a shot from Ivan Cavaleiro, Diogo Jota crossed it in and Barry Douglas’ shot across goal was tapped in by Léo Bonatini.

But they only held on for ten minutes before Nathaniel Mendez-Laing scored his fourth Championship goal in four games to put City back in front. Zohore, who had a class game played it to Mendez-Laing, who drove it home past John Ruddy.

This victory set a new record for City. Before this season we had never won our opening three games of the season and we’ve now won four.

Cardiff proved last week that they could hold their own with the teams who have spent heavily over the summer and this is another example. They also beat Aaron Villa, who have spent a lot, last weekend.

Next up for the Bluebirds is a home game against QPR. Hopefully we can continue our perfect start to the season and get another win.

Swansea City 0-4 Manchester United


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Romelu Lukaku scored again as Man United won 4-0 once again, with three goals in four second-half minutes, which finished Swansea off.

Right at the beginning of the game, Swansea nearly scored with Jordan Ayew, who hit the bar. But then, United counter-attacked, with Lukaku missing a chance.

Shortly after, Phil Jones came very close to scoring, hitting the bar with a header from close range. United were struggling to break down a resilient Swansea side.

There was some controversy surrounding Paul Pogba in the first half. He got a yellow card for a strong challenge on Tom Carroll and then fouled Martin Olsson shortly after but the ref gave Pogba the benefit of the doubt.

Just before half time, United took the lead through Eric Bailly. From a corner, Paul Pogba had a header brilliantly saved by Fabianski onto the bar but, Bailly was the first to react to the rebound to poke home.

Throughout the second half, United struggled to break down their opponents but, didn’t look at all like conceding. They had 66% possession but struggled to kill the game off.

Only in those four minutes towards the end of the game did they break them down and kill the game off. The first came from Lukaku in the 80th minute. From Henrick Mkhitaryan’s pass, Lukaku slotted past Fabianski to double the lead.

Two minutes later, Pogba lifted the ball over Fabianski for a third. To cap it all off, in the the 84th minute, substitute Anthony Martial calmly slotted in after a swift counter-attack.

This was Swansea’s first game since selling playmaker Gylfi Sigurdsson and they struggled without him. He, alongside Fernando Llorente, who is injured at the moment, carried Swansea last year, so it looks like they will be in another relegation battle this year.

United completely controllled this game and deserved to win. With the signing of Matic, Pogba is free to roam and he looks like he could have a very good season.

Jose Mourinho has never failed to win the league title in his second season at a club. United are looking like could put on a much better challenge for the title than last year. Both the Manchester clubs are looking like the strongest teams, after heavy spending in the summer.

Next up for United we are at home to Leicester next Saturday, the 26 August. Hopefully we can continue the perfect record with another win.

Manchester United 4-0 West Ham


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Man United started the Premier League season emphatically against West Ham, with Romelu Lukaku scoring two.

United started strongly and looked a constant threat. They had an extra pace in their play which they lacked last season. They had a couple of half-chances and Lukaku was a constant threat.

The breakthrough came in the 33th minute through Lukaku. Nemanja Matic, who was also making his Premier League debut for United, made an interception in the middle of the pitch, which fell to Marcus Rashford. Rashford ran at the West Ham defence, before playing Lukaku through, who scored off the post.

West Ham were poor throughout the game and offered little threat to United. But, in the first half they came close, with Edimilson Fernandes forcing David de Gea into a save from the edge of the box.

Lukaku doubled his tally and United’s lead in the 52nd minute with a glancing header from a Henrick Mkhitaryan free-kick. It was almost inevitable that Lukaku would score against the Hammers, as he has scored 9 in 10 games
whilst playing for Everton.

He could’ve had a hat-trick, only for Pablo Zabaleta to slide in to block his effort. West Ham came close in the second half, but new signing Marko Arnautovic’s header hit the bar. They offered little going forward.

Rashford, who played very well, came very close to scoring. He curled an excellent shot against the inside of the right-hand post, but it didn’t go in. The victory was sealed in the 87th minute through substitute Anthony Martial, who slotted home after being played through by Henrick Mkhitaryan.

Paul Pogba added some gloss with a low finish from distance in the 90th minute. It was a very encouraging performance from United to start the new season.

United spent £150million in the summer on Lukaku, Matic and Victor Lindelof in a bid to sustain a stronger title challenge than last season. Lindelof didn’t make the team for this game but, Matic and Lukaku very much impressed.

This new team was outclassed in the Super Cup final against Real Madrid but in this game they looked menacing. Lukaku scored in that game and in this game he looked like he could be a revelation this season.

He was fantastic in this game and will be looking to add goals to a team which has lacked goals in the past few seasons. Another striker making their debut for their team in this game was Chicharito, who was stupidly sold by Louis Van Gaal. He didn’t make as much of an impact as Lukaku but he could be a good signing for West Ham. He was given a warm welcome from the United fans.

United have now lost only one of their 14 opening-day Premier League fixtures at Old Trafford. The fans will be demanding a better performance than last season, when although they won the League Cup and Europa League, they came sixth in the league. There is plenty of encouragement for them.

Next up they are at Swansea on Saturday, the 19 August at lunch time.

Cardiff City 3-0 Aston Villa


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A brilliant Cardiff City comfortably beat promotion favourites Aston Villa to maintain their perfect start to the Championship season.

Villa nearly scored inside five minutes, after a poor header by Sol Bamba gave Scott Hogan a chance, but Cardiff goalkeeper Neil Etheridge saved his one-on-one.

Moments later Junior Hoilett shot from long-range, with Villa keeper Sam Johnstone nearly having a howler failing to catch the ball first time, but he grasped it at the
second time of asking.

With about quarter of an hour gone, Kenneth Zohore had a chance, only for Johnstone to thwart him. In the 21st minute, Nathaniel Mendez-Laing opened the scoring for City. From Hoilett's cross, Mendez-Laing got above the Villa players to head past Johnstone.

Zohore had an effort, similar to his first, saved by Johnstone again and from the rebound, Loïc Damour's shot was blocked by Neil Taylor.

Right at the beginning of the second half, Mendez-Laing could've doubled his tally and City's lead, but Johnstone stopped the shot. Once again, Zohore had another shot, similar to the others, saved by Johnstone.

Villa's best chance came when, from a corner, James Chester's header bounced up onto the bar. Apart from that it was all Cardiff. The Bluebirds finally doubled their lead when, after taking the ball past Chester, Zohore delightfully chipped the ball over the keeper for Hoilett to head home.

And the Bluebirds finished the game off through Mendez-Laing's second off the game. He picked up the ball from Aron Gunnarsson, before wrong-footing Chester through some step-overs before curling the ball into the far corner.

It was a dominant display to put down a marker for this season. This win puts them top of the table on goal difference. Hopefully we can put up a serious promotion challenge.

Next up we are at home to Sheffield United on Tuesday, the 15 August. Hopefully we can maintain our perfect start.

Manchester United Season Review


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After a disappointing Premier League season in which United failed to finish in the top four, the season ended with silverware and Champions League qualification after winning the Europa League.

United had a new manager for this campaign, with Jose Mourinho joining straight after winning the FA Cup last season. He brought in four big signings in the summer. They were Paul Pogba, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Henrick Mkhitaryan and Eric Bailly. He broke the transfer record for Pogba, paying £89million.

Their season started before the Premier League had begun in the Community Shield. Ibrahimovic scored the winner in a 2-1 victory. The Premier League season began brightly, winning the first three games in the league. They won every game in August. 

There was a sense that Mourinho was bringing back the success from Sir Alex Ferguson’s time. Ibrahimovic scored three goals in his first three games. He scored against Man City in their first game in September but, they couldn’t carry on their winning run and lost 2-1.

They started their Europa League campaign in September, but they lost to Feyenoord 2-1. Also in September they beat Northampton 3-1 in the EFL Cup to progress to the next round. Their Premier League form dipped a bit, losing to Watford as well as City.

During this season United struggled a lot at scoring against smaller teams who came to Old Trafford, despite having a large amount of shots. In October this happened against Stoke, where they drew 1-1, and against Burnley, where they drew 0-0. Against Burnley they had 42 shots, with Ibrahimovic having 12 of them.

During November, they drew more games at home, letting a late goal to draw against Arsenal and drawing 1-1 against despite dominating. What was once thought of as the Theatre of Dreams, where teams would fear was now becoming a stadium where teams wouldn’t feel as scared.

In December another late goal cost them the three points against Everton. They needed to draw at Zorya Luhansk to progress to the last 32. They won the game 2-0 so they were through. They had an unbeaten December and after the Everton game won five league games in the league.

They extended their winning run in the league with a 2-0 win at West Ham at the beginning of January. That run ended in the following game with a 1-1 draw at home to Liverpool. 

Wayne Rooney became joint all-time leading scorer with Sir Bobby Charlton through scoring in the 4-0 win in the third round of the FA Cup. Rooney did break the record, with a sensational stoppage-time free-kick. It was his 250th goal for United to overtake Charlton.

United made it through to the final of the EFL Cup with an aggregate win over Hull City. They won the first leg 2-0 at home. They scraped through in the second leg after losing the game 2-1, which ended their 17 match game unbeaten run in all competitions but, they won the tie 3-2.

Another draw at home against one of the smaller teams came at the beginning of February against Hull with a 0-0 draw. They stayed unbeaten in the league but were dropping valuable points in the race for the top four. But they could qualify for the Champions League through winning the Europa League. They progressed to the Last 16 with a 4-0 aggregate win over Saint Etienne.

At the end of February Mourinho won his first trophy as United manager in the EFL Cup against Southampton. They went 2-0 in the game through Jesse Lingard and Ibrahimovic but, Southampton pulled it back through two goals from Manolo Gabbiadini. It looked like Southampton were going to score another but in the 87th minute Ibrahimovic won the game for United. It was what United had bought him for.

In March once again they drew at home to a smaller team through drawing to Bournemouth 1-1. They were knocked out of the FA Cup against Chelsea in a 1-0 loss. Ander Herrera was sent off which made the task very difficult and N’Golo Kante scored the winner. Also in this month they progressed to the quarter-final of the Europa League with a 2-1 aggregate victory over FC Rostov.

April was a packed month with nine games. They drew three games at home in this month and it was looking like winning the Europa League was their only hope of qualifying for the Champions League. They scraped into the semi-final of the Europa League. After drawing against Anderlecht in the first leg, an extra-time goal from Marcus Rashford gave them a 3-2 aggregate victory.

United made it into the final of the Europa League with tense 2-1 aggregate victory over Celta Vigo. They survived a huge late scare with ex Man City player John Guidetti missing a tap-in right at the death. United also had to make do without Eric Bailly in the final, as he got sent-off for a little push on Guidetti, who made a meal out of it.

United’s unbeaten run in the league ended, with a 2-0 loss at Arsenal. By now Mourinho was concentrating on winning the Europa League. He was resting the players who would be playing in the final. 

In the final game of the Premier League season against Crystal Palace, Mourinho gave full Premier League debuts to four players: Joel Pereira, Demetri Mitchell, Scott McTominay, and Josh Harrop. Also, 16 year-old Angel Gomes came on for Rooney. This game could be his last game at Old Trafford where he has scored plenty of goals over the years. During the first half Harrop had a dream debut, scoring an impressive goal.

United’s last game of the season was the Europa League final against Ajax. This was their biggest game of the season and a must-win otherwise the season would be deemed a failure. Goals from Pogba and Mkhitaryan gave them victory and there were big celebrations at the end, with Mourinho being thrown in the air.

Overall, I don’t believe this was a successful season, as they came sixth in the league and only qualified for the Champions League through winning the Europa League. They will definitely need to improve in the league next season.

They will need to sign players in the summer and they have already signed centre-back Victor Lindelof from Benfica, who could be good partnering Eric Bailly at the back. They are linked with Alvaro Morata, Ivan Perisic, Fabinho, James Rodriguez and more. They definitely need a striker after not offering a new contract to Ibrahimovic.