Manchester United back to winning ways

Manchester United edge over West Ham with two Penalties from Paul Pogba.

Manchester United were victorious against West Ham United in their latest league bout .

Pogba had given the Reds a 19th-minute lead from the penalty spot but former City boss Manuel Pellegrini’s side wouldn’t lie down and came back to level in the second half through Felipe Anderson.

The Hammers almost went ahead, when substitute Mihail Antonio hit the crossbar and was then denied by a world-class save from David De Gea, but fortunately another spot-kick award got United out of jail. After his compatriot Anthony Martial was brought down, Pogba scored again with ten minutes to go to secure three points and keep the Reds on the coat-tails of Chelsea and Spurs.

West Ham had started the game as the more composed of the two sides and the more dangerous.

The Londoners thought they’d taken a 10th-minute lead through Felipe Anderson as he smashed in a Chicharito knockdown from close range. But the goal was quickly cancelled out as the referee’s assistant flagged for offside.

There was naturally disappointment for the visitors but seemingly few complaints at the decision.

The Reds had been getting a few crosses into the box but it always seemed to be the diminutive Juan Mata who was in the prime position, with little chance of connecting. But the service was more to the Spaniard’s liking when Anthony Martial passed to his feet inside the area after 17 minutes. Just as Mata went to strike the ball, he was taken out by a strong challenge from Snodgrass.

Referee Graham Scott had no doubts it was a spot-kick, despite the derision from the Hammers’ travelling support, and Pogba put all his power behind his hit as he beat goalkeeper Lukasz Fabianski with a piledriver virtually down the middle of the goal.

It was just the settler United needed after some difficult early moments. West Ham, though, were not downbeat and still caused the Reds some heart flutters at the back.

It was something of a disappointment that Pogba’s opener did not fire the Reds as expected and there was a fruitless struggle to get a second goal before the break, with only a wild effort from Diogo Dalot and a header from Chris Smalling giving some encouragement for the crowd.

West Ham, fortunately, didn’t produce much themselves with just an off-target swipe from Anderson and then a superb run down the right from the Brazilian that saw his low shot-cum-cross kept out by David De Gea’s outstretched leg.

The Reds were culpable when the West Ham equaliser finally came early in the second half.

Like the first 45 minutes, the visitors began the more confident of the two teams. But when De Gea gathered the ball in the 49th minute, it should have been the start of the Reds launching an attack.

However, the Spaniard bowled out a ball that was too heavy and caught Pogba by surprise. West Ham seized possession and their counter attack ended when Manuel Lanzini floated a cross to the far post and an unmarked Anderson steered home.

Solskjaer’s reaction to the leveller was to bring on Marcus Rashford for Mata in the 55th minute.

The sub’s introduction almost paid immediate dividends and credit to Chris Smalling as he burst forward out of defence to put the striker in with his pass. Rashford thrashed in a low shot that keeper Fabianski couldn’t hold and the ball squirmed away almost across his goalline with the loose ball crying out for a tap-in.

Rashford’s arrival was proving a potential match changer with the Mancunian then heading just over into the Stretford End after 63 minutes as the Reds began to look far more threatening.

The initial spark began to fade and Solskjaer made a double substitution in the 75th minute in a bid to lift his labouring side once again; Mason Greenwood and Andreas came on for Romelu Lukaku and Marcos Rojo.

West Ham boss Manuel Pellegrini made his own changes with Antonio coming on for Chicharito before Solskjaer’s swaps, and then Zabaleta made way for Fredericks.

But it was Antonio who made the biggest impact and rattled the Reds when his scorching shot had the cross bar shuddering and then a header needed a brilliant flip over the bar from De Gea to stop the Hammers going in front.

The double threat woke the hosts up and when Martial was clumsily brought down by Fredericks, the Reds were awarded another penalty.

Pogba versus Fabianski take two ended with the same result as the French midfielder crashed in from 12 yards to seal a much-needed win.

Manchester United are traveling to the camp Nou during the week and this win might as well be a big boost them.

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Tribute to Emiliano Sala

The football world was left in Shock after the crash and death of ex Nantes Striker Emiliano Sala so we at Halifsblog Blog have decided to give you all a summary of his illustrious carer.

Emiliano Raúl Sala Taffarel (31 October 1990 – 21 January 2019) was an Argentine professional footballer who played as a forward.
After playing youth football in Argentina and following a short spell in Portugal’s regional leagues, Sala began his professional career in France with Bordeaux, making his professional debut in February 2012. After struggling to break into the first team, he was loaned out to Championnat National side Orléans and Ligue 2 side Niort in consecutive seasons. He enjoyed prolific spells with both clubs, scoring 39 goals between them, before returning to Bordeaux. After initially being promised an increased role after his successful loans, Sala fell out of favour again, and instead, joined fellow Ligue 1 side Caen on loan.

In 2015, he signed for Nantes on a permanent basis. With Nantes, he made more than 100 appearances in Ligue 1, and achieved a successful goalscoring record, finishing as the club’s top goalscorer for three consecutive seasons. His form prompted a move to Cardiff City in January 2019, for a club record fee of £15 million (€18 million).

Sala died in a plane crash off Alderney on 21 January 2019. He was flying from Nantes to Cardiff aboard a Piper Malibu light aircraft. An initial three-day search covered 1,700 square miles (4,400 km2) across the English Channel. Two subsequent private searches were launched, resulting in the discovery of the wreckage on 3 February; Sala’s body was recovered four days later.
Below are his total statistics

Team. Appearances Goals. Assists

Nantes. 128. 48. 13
CAEN. 3 5 1
SM CAEN B 1. 1. 0
BORDEAUX 11. 1
BORDEAUX II 2. 0. 0

Over his illustrious career he never won a major Trophy for club or Country but his impact in World football won’t be forgotten.

Rest in Peace Emiliano Sala

Manchester City Demolishes Chelsea

Man City vs Chelsea saw the Citizens destroyed Blues armies 6-0 at Etihad
The win saw them go top on the Premier League standings with 65 points
Meanwhile, Chelsea dropped to sixth on the log with 50 points, level with Arsenal
Manchester City continued with their impressive run in the Premier League after embarrassing former Champions, Chelsea, 6-0 at Etihad Stadium on Sunday, February 10.
This was City’s third test in their push to reclaim the EPL title after an arguably gruelling week that saw them battle Arsenal last weekend and Everton in midweek.
Both encounters saw the Pep Guardiola-tutored side pick maximum points as they leapfrogged Liverpool into the first place on the standings
Knowing too well a win against the Blues would once again catapult his side into the top spot, Guardiola fielded a relatively strong side in the Sunday clash, with Sergio Aguero, Raheem Sterling and Bernado Silva starting upfront.
The lethal trio went on to play a pivotal part in City’s victory, with Aguero bagging a brace in the first half.
Sterling opened the scoring for the hosts within just four minutes of game play, with the Englishman capitalising on Bernado’s well-placed pass
Aguero nearly made it two four minutes later, but missed the sitter before finally scoring in the 13th minute with a deliciously curled shot into the top corner.
The Argentinian extended the lead six minutes later after Chelsea’s defensive lapse involving Rose Barkley and David Luiz.
Kepa’s goalkeeping blunder saw Gundogan score from the edge in the 25th minute as the first half finished 4-0 in favour of City.

In the second half, Aguero bagged a hat-trick from the penalty spot, after sending Kepa the wrong way to make it 5-0.

Sterling wrapped up City’s win from six yards off David Silva’s gorgeous pass in the 80th minute to put the game beyond the Blues.

The Etihad outfit now sit on the summit of the Premier League standings with 65 points as Chelsea dropped to sixth.

Manchester City beat Everton 2-0 to overthrow Liverpool at the summit of the Premier League table on Wednesday, February 6.

Aymeric Laporte and Gabriel Jesus scored a goal each to ensure the Citizens continued their title defence on a winning note.

Can City go on to win the League consecutively or will they let it Slip? I guess we just have to stick around to find out who will be crowned champions.

Sala confirmed dead

Local police confirmed that the body pulled from the English Channel this week is the former Nantes footballer

The body found in the wreckage of the plane carrying Emiliano Sala and pilot David Ibbotson has been identified as the Cardiff City striker, it was confirmed on Thursday night.

The UK’s Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) had confirmed on Wednesday that an unidentified body had been passed to the Dorset Coroner, having been recovered from the submerged plane.

The Piper Malibu aircraft disappeared with Sala and pilot David Ibbotson on board on January 21, with the 28-year-old en route to Cardiff after having completed a club-record transfer from Ligue 1 side Nantes.

A police statement issued late on Thursday read: “The body brought to Portland Port today, Thursday 7 February 2019, has been formally identified by HM Coroner for Dorset as that of professional footballer Emiliano Sala

“HM Coroner will continue to investigate the circumstances of this death supported by Dorset Police.”
An initial search and rescue effort was called off by Guernsey Police after three days on January 24.

Guernsey harbourmaster Captain David Barker said their chances of survival were “extremely remote”, but a number of high-profile football figures and members of the public answered the family’s calls to fund a private search operation.

The plane was located on the seabed off Guernsey on Sunday using a remotely operated vehicle, during which time a body was found amid what remained of the light aircraft.
A recovery operation was then launched following consultation with the families of Sala and Ibbotson, and the police.

The football world came together in grief and to pay its respects as the severity of the Sala story began to unfold, with floral tributes laid outside Cardiff City Stadium and vigils held in Nantes, where 42 goals in three-and-a-half seasons made him a fan favourite.

Following reports of a dispute between the two clubs this week, Cardiff chairman Mehmet Dalman confirmed the Premier League outfit was yet to pay the first instalment of Sala’s transfer fee.

“We must show respect to the family. There is a process for recovering the plane,” he said, prior to Sala’s body being identified.

“[We will pay] when we think it’s the right time to do it. I don’t think Cardiff said we were not going to pay.”

Lingard Called English Iniesta by Former Red devil’s Boss

Rene Meulensteen is not surprised to see an academy graduate shining in midfield, but believes defensive reinforcements are needed at Old Trafford

Jesse Lingard has been billed as “the English version of Andres Iniesta” by Rene Meulensteen, with the Manchester United midfielder considered to share many attributes with a Barcelona legend.

A 26-year-old academy graduate has not always enjoyed such lofty billing at Old Trafford.

Several loan spells were taken in before he was finally given his United break by Louis van Gaal in 2015-16.

Lingard has not looked back from that point, taking in over 150 appearances and recording 29 goals – including a number of vital efforts in Wembley showpieces.

He is now considered to be a key man at club level and with the England national side, with Meulensteen of the opinion that his creative qualities were always going to flourish at some stage.

Sir Alex Ferguson’s former assistant told 888sport: “Sir Alex always had a clear picture of what a good player looked like and they had to have quick feet, quick brain, and a big heart.

“That is basically everything that Jesse had but he was very slight for his age. I worked with him from the age of eight or nine and taking him abroad for tournaments and he was always having to fight battles because he was of a tiny build.

“But all things level themselves out and eventually those three things make a difference – quick feet, a quick brain, and a big heart. And he has done every so well.

“The fans always need to associate themselves with players who have come through the ranks.

“While I was there and Sir Alex was there it was so important to keep bringing young players through.

“The difference with Jesse is that he was always the English version of Iniesta. He can play in the pockets, he’s very mobile and very agile.

“He can beat a man and he’s good in combination play. The last few seasons he started to score important goals as well.”
The emergence of Lingard has helped to bolster the creativity ranks at Old Trafford, but United do still find themselves short in other areas.

Additions at centre-half have been pursued for some time and Meulensteen concedes that reinforcements are required to help complement the impressive development of Victor Lindelof.

The Dutchman said: “Stability is a big thing, especially in the back four. Most of the successful teams are able to play with a solid and stable back line, including the goalkeeper.

“It’s normal with a club like Manchester United that it takes some time for a player to settle in but you can see now that Victor has settled.

“He’s played a string of games so he’s starting to find his feet and learning what is required to play at this level.

“He’s done well but the defence is still an area which people are looking at critically. Antonio Valencia is getting on and Ashley Young is a bit older now but still doing a great job.

“There is a need for a really good centre-back alongside Lindelof who can lead from the back and stabilise everything.

“If you look at the firepower and the pace United have up front along with the variety of abilities they can scare any defence in the Premier League and across Europe.

“In midfield they are strong. You have Paul Pogba to the fore and getting better. Nemanja Matic is very strong with a lot of experience.

“But you could maybe do with another creative player there, a passer that can unlock defences from deep.”

 

Manchester united close in on Top four

The interim boss overtook Sir Matt Busby’s record thanks to Marcus Rashford’s goal on Sunday

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has equalled the record for the most successful start of any Manchester United manager in history after winning his first five league games in charge.

 

The Norwegian matched Sir Matt Busby’s record of five consecutive wins in the top flight when his side beat Tottenham at Wembley Stadium on Sunday.

 

Solskjaer took over in December following the sacking of Jose Mourinho at Old Trafford, although he is currently set to leave United at the end of the season with Gareth Southgate, Diego Simeone and Mauricio Pochettino among the front-runners for the permanent job.

 

Premier League victories against Cardiff, Huddersfield, Bournemouth and Newcastle, as well as a FA Cup third-round win at home to Reading, have seen Solskjaer’s stock rise, and the win over Spurs is his best result yet.

 

The fact the Red Devils beat Pochettino’s side made the win even more poignant given the Argentine’s strong links to the job.

 

United’s players have shown renewed energy levels and enthusiasm under Solskjaer after they had grown weary with the leadership of Mourinho.

 

Paul Pogba in particular had had a public rift with the Portuguese, but has shown excellent form since being given a leading role by his new boss and set up Rashford against Tottenham with a stunning pass that dissected the Spurs defence.

 

Rashford himself has also excelled after being chosen ahead of Romelu Lukaku to lead the line for the Reds and has now scored four goals in five Premier League games since Solskjaer’s appointment; compared to just three under Mourinho prior to the Portuguese manager’s sacking.

It means the Reds have kept three clean sheets in a row, and they have David de Gea to thank for that after the keeper made 11 saves in the second half – more than any keeper has made in an entire Premier League game this season.

Although United have not improved their league position since the Norwegian’s appointment, they have now drawn level with fifth-placed Arsenal on points which means they have bridged the eight-point gap that existed when Solskjaer took over.

Liverpool thrash Arsenal to extend lead on the table

Liverpool roared back from a rare Anfield deficit to move nine points clear at the top of the Premier League as Roberto Firmino’s hat-trick inspired a 5-1 thrashing of Arsenal on Saturday.
Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane were also on target as Liverpool’s front three all scored in the same league game for the first time this season.
Liverpool had trailed at home in the league for the first time in a day short of a year when Ainsley Maitland-Niles turned home Alex Iwobi’s excellent cross 11 minutes in.
However, the lead lasted just three minutes as Firmino profited from some calamitous Arsenal defending to level and then left Shkodran Mustafi and Sokratis Papastathopoulos on the floor to score his second goal in three minutes.
Mane and Salah’s penalty had the game wrapped up by half-time and Firmino completed his hat-trick from the spot as Jurgen Klopp’s men extended their unbeaten league start to 20 games and took another significant step towards a first league title since 1989/1990.
Win again in their next outing at Manchester City on Thursday and only a Liverpool collapse in the final months of the season can prevent an end to nearly three decades of hurt.
Champions City now trail the pacesetters by 10 points and even if they reduce that lead to seven with victory at Southampton on Sunday, they need to end Liverpool’s invincible season so far to get back in the title race at the Etihad.
Tottenham’s title ambitions suffered a huge blow as Wolves scored three times in the final 18 minutes to win 3-1 at Wembley earlier on Saturday to further embolden Anfield with belief before kick-off.
That confidence could have been shaken when after a bright Liverpool start, it was Arsenal who led when Iwobi’s teasing cross perfectly dissected Alisson Becker and Virgil van Dijk, to leave Maitland-Niles with an open goal.
The signings of Alisson and Van Dijk have been credited for Liverpool’s rock-solid defensive record with that goal just the eighth they have conceded all season in the league.
But that solidity is now being married with a return to the sort of form Salah, Firmino and Mane showed last season in smashing a combined 91 goals last season.
Firmino didn’t even have to look at the ball when he slotted the equaliser into an empty net after Sokratis’s attempted clearance rebounded off Mustafi into his path to quickly level.
However, the Brazilian did all the hard work himself two minutes later by jinking through Arsenal’s hapless central defensive pairing before drilling low past Bernd Leno.
Mane made it 3-1 on 32 minutes when Salah cushioned a cross perfectly into the Senegalese’s path to side-foot high into the net.
Arsenal were handed a let-off moments later by referee Michael Oliver when Granit Xhaka was only given a final warning rather than a second booking in a matter of seconds for kicking the ball away in frustration.
But Oliver gave Liverpool the chance to extend their lead just before half-time when Salah tumbled under pressure from Sokratis in the box.
Leno got a touch to the Egyptian’s spot-kick but couldn’t stop Salah moving level with Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Harry Kane as the Premier League’s top scorer on 13.
Liverpool could easily have had more after the break as only a poor touch from Salah allowed Leno to smother and the German ‘keeper also denied Fabinho, while at the other end Aubameyang’s blushes were saved by the offside flag when he fired over with an open goal gaping.
Salah gave up the chance to move clear in the race for the golden boot when Sead Kolasinac pushed Dejan Lovren 25 minutes from time and Firmino gratefully fired home the penalty to round off a five-star performance.

Liverpool go into the new year at the top of the table could this be the turn around year for the Merseyside team