Man Utd concede more goals in 17 Premier League games than entire 2017-18 season

Manchester United have now conceded 29 goals in the Premier League this season, equalling their defensive record for the entirety of the 2017-18 campaign.

It has taken the Red Devils just 17 games to equal the tally, two games before the halfway mark, and it is the most they have conceded at this stage of a season since 1962-63

Jose Mourinho’s side built a reputation for robust defending and being hard to break down on their way to a second-place finish last term, losing out only to Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City.

Liverpool, who finished fourth last season, have now taken up United’s position as the main challengers to champions City and moved back to the top of the league as they put three goals past the Red Devils on Sunday afternoon.

Sadio Mane gave Liverpool the lead at  Anfield, although the visitors came back with a Jesse Lingard strike to make it 1-1 going into the break.

Two second-half goals from substitute Xherdan Shaqiri gave Jurgen Klopp’s side a commanding lead, however, as Liverpool racked up an incredible 36 shots on goal as they cruised to victory.

The defeat means United are now 11 points off of the Champions League qualification places after fourth-placed Chelsea beat Brighton 2-1.

United’s defence did suffer a blow before kick-off when Chris Smalling, who signed a new contract on Saturday, suffered an injury in the warm-up and had to be replaced by Eric Bailly.

Bailly started in a back five for the Red Devils although Mourinho opted to switch to a back four in the second half, bringing on Marouane Fellaini for Diogo Dalot at the interval.

The manager was critical of his club’s failure to sign a centre-back last summer as they saw efforts to secure the services of defenders like Harry Maguire and Jerome Boateng turned down.

Mourinho has reportedly made Napoli defender Kalidou Koulibaly his top target in January as he aims to shore up the Red Devils’ problems at the back.

United have three games left before the window opens, as they travel to promoted Cardiff City next weekend before home games against Huddersfield and Bournemouth over the festive period. 

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Arthur Masuaku hails West Ham United’s win over Fulham

Arthur Masuaku has showered encomium on West Ham United after their 2-0 victory over Fulham in Saturday’s Premier League game.

Goals from Robert Snodgrass and Michail Antonio helped Manuel Pellegrini’s men extend their winning run to four games and moved to the ninth spot in the log with 24 points from 17 games.

The defender made his 13th league appearance in the encounter and impressed to ensure that the Hammers kept a clean sheet.

Following their outstanding showing, the Congo DR international took to the social media to salute his side for the performance.

“Another great win, well done everyone, West Ham United,” Masuaku tweeted.

West Ham will hope to continue the outstanding form when they clash with Watford on December 22 and the defender will be expected to play a part in the tie.

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‘Don’t sack Mourinho!’ – Liverpool fans call for under-fire Man Utd boss to stay during Anfield win

Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho may be under pressure, but he received a vote of confidence from the stands on Sunday – albeit a rather unwelcome one.

Mourinho and United suffered their second defeat in the space of four days at Anfield as Liverpool ran out 3-1 winners in a one-sided match. 

The loss leaves the Red Devils a whopping 11 points behind fourth-placed Chelsea, while they have already conceded more goals than in the entirety of the 2017-18 Premier League season. 

Such adverse form has raised expectations that Mourinho will soon be moving on, confirming once more the ‘third season curse’ that has followed him across his managerial career. 

Home fans at the weekend, however, gave him an unexpected show of support. 

“Don’t sack Mourinho!” was the cry from the Anfield faithful as their rivals slumped to defeat, words that will be of little comfort to the ‘Special One’ as Champions League football, let alone a title challenge, looks an ever more distant dream even at this early stage of the season. 

United were on the back foot from almost the first minute on Sunday, with the visitors rarely venturing out of their own half to face a Liverpool team looking for three points that would return them to the Premier League summit. 

That conservative approach made little difference early on though, as Sadio Mane swooped to give Jurgen Klopp’s men the lead 24 minutes in with a smart volley steered past David de Gea. 

The away team then received a shock lifeline, as Alisson spilled an innocuous cross into the path of Jesse Lingard to equalise towards the end of the first half. 

Xherdan Shaqiri, however, was to prove deadly off the bench, scoring twice in the space of 10 minutes following his late entry to seal victory for the title-chasing Reds. 

It is a further blow for United, who went down to Valencia on Wednesday in the Champions League to squander a chance to take top spot in their group ahead of Juventus. 

And, with five defeats in the Premier League already this season, the Anfield crowd may soon be heading for disappointment if their rivals move to remove the struggling boss.

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Emery ponders January signing after Bellerin injury

Unai Emery admitted Arsenal have limited scope to address their defensive headaches in January after Hector Bellerin joined a long injury list during the loss to Southampton.

Right-back Bellerin could be unavailable until the new year after sustaining a suspected calf issue shortly before half-time in the 3-2 defeat at St Mary’s.

Emery described the problem as “small” but expects his Spanish compatriot to have “some weeks off” in another blow to a backline which lost Sead Kolasinac to thigh tightness before Sunday’s match.

Rob Holding is already out for the season and Konstantinos Mavropanos has not been sighted this term, while Laurent Koscielny appeared well off the pace in his first Premier League start since April.

Shkodran Mustafi and Sokratis Papastathopoulos have, however, served their one-game Premier League suspensions and Emery may have to make do without further reinforcements.

“I don’t know now because we don’t have a lot of possibilities in January, but maybe we can think of someone to sign to help us,” the Gunners boss told reporters.

“[But] only if we think they are the player that can give us good performance. It’s not easy. I don’t believe a lot in this transfer window because it’s not a big possibility with players.

“The club is working and only if some player can help us with a high level [will we make a signing].”

It was hoped the experienced Koscielny, recently recovered from a long-term Achilles injury, would add strength to a makeshift three-man defence against Saints, but his marking was persistently poor as Danny Ings notched two first-half headers before Charlie Austin nodded in an 85th-minute winner.

Emery defended the former France international and insisted his unconvincing combination with Granit Xhaka and Stephan Lichtsteiner was not to blame for the end of Arsenal’s 22-game unbeaten run, which came despite Henrikh Mkhitaryan’s double.

“I think today is very good news for Koscielny, physically he can play this match 90 minutes. Xhaka played well and Lichtsteiner played well,” the Spaniard said.

“We conceded chances today but we also had more chances to score than the two goals. The difference is this. Our game today was similar to what we played before, but the result was different.”

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Sarri plays down Hazard injury fears

Maurizio Sarri has played down concerns over an injury Eden Hazard sustained in Chelsea’s 2-1 win over Brighton and Hove Albion. 

Hazard scored and set up another in Sunday’s Premier League encounter but was forced off late on following a heavy challenge by Dale Stephens.

But Sarri has confirmed that the change was precautionary, which will come as a boost for Chelsea ahead of a hectic festive schedule.

“Eden is okay. It’s only a knock, only a knock,” Sarri told a news conference. 

“I spoke with the doctor and it’s not a big problem. Maybe one day to rest, two days at most.”

Like in Chelsea’s previous Premier League outing, Hazard was deployed in a central role by Sarri and made an early impact by teeing up Pedro’s opener.

Hazard got in on the action himself shortly after the half-hour, racing clear of Brighton’s defence before coolly slotting home, but Sarri stressed that the Belgian can still improve.

“I think that, for us, he could be very important in this position,” Sarri added.

“He’s very able to come out and play with his team-mates, very able to create spaces.

“Now I think that, in that position, he has to improve in attacking the box.”

Chelsea squandered a gilt-edged chance to add to their lead early in the second half, with Marcos Alonso hitting the woodwork before Solly March’s effort gave Brighton hope.

And Sarri believes that Chelsea are at their most vulnerable when overconfident.

“I think we could have won better because we played very well for 60 minutes,” Sarri said.

“We conceded a goal in a moment in which we were in full control of the match. We could have won really very better.

“I think that when we have the feeling of being in full control of the match, we are dangerous for ourselves.

“Suddenly the level of application and attention is lowered. The feeling when we are in confidence, when we are sure of being in control of the match, is dangerous for us.”

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