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Manchester United unbeaten run is masking a problem that is going to hold them back – Manchester Evening News

Man Utd are now 18 games unbeaten in all competitions but that streak is hiding an issue in Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side.

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The good news is that the Manchester United attack, for so long a concern this season, is now firing on all cylinders. The bad news is that the defence is struggling to match the level of improvement shown at the other end of the pitch.
United have now plundered 48 goals in 18 unbeaten games and the triumvirate of Anthony Martial, Marcus Rashford and Mason Greenwood have scored 58 goals between them this season. Their numbers and performances, with notable contributions from Bruno Fernandes and Paul Pogba, are looking worthy of a side ready to mount a title challenge.
But the bigger problem facing Ole Gunnar Solskjaer now comes at the other end of the pitch. Those 18 unbeaten games in all competitions have actually produced 12 clean sheets, but when United are breached they can look leaky defensively and it’s a back four that isn’t as convincing as the front three are.
The weight of shut outs is difficult to argue against but Solskjaer has never hidden his ambition to take United back to the very top of the game, so he shouldn’t and won’t shy away from confronting the difficult truth of whether this defence is good enough to sustain a title challenge.
We’ve seen the impact Bruno Fernandes has had on United’s attack, transforming the style of play and the creativity in the side since his switch from Sporting Lisbon. At times it’s looked like Harry Maguire will have the same impact on the defence, but the suspicion remains that this is a defence being held together by a sticking plaster for now.
The £80million centre back has emerged as a captain of substance and is still clearly United’s best central defender, but he’s looked flustered at times and there have been occasions recently when he hasn’t defended with the confidence and the composure of someone billeted as the world’s most expensive centre back should.
He was beaten too easily by Steven Bergwijn at Tottenham and by Junior Stanislas for Bournemouth’s first goal at Old Trafford. He wasn’t responsible for either of Southampton’s goals in last night’s 2-2 draw, but there were moments of impetuosity that could have been costly, notably when bundling Danny Ings over near the byline in the first half and then just about stopping short of doing the same to Stuart Armstrong in the penalty area in the second half. Gary Neville had it right when he called it “rash” defending and it all looked a little too harum-scarum for a centre back who should be a calm and commanding presence.
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Alongside him Victor Lindelof continues to have moments when he doesn’t look up the job. He was rash at times against Southampton and his decision making is still uncertain, while the Swede has never quite shaken off the idea that he can be bullied by strikers. He did have competition from Eric Bailly before the season was suspended but Bailly was shaky when called upon against Norwich City and conceded an unfortunate penalty against Bournemouth after replacing Lindelof at half-time.
United would have hoped spending £80million on Maguire would have fixed their defensive problems, but centrally too many questions remain. It would be no surprise if they are forced into the transfer market again before emerging as genuine title contenders and it might be that it becomes an issue that needs solving this summer, considering the strides forward that have been taken in midfield and attack.
At full-back United appear to be better served. The draw with Southampton wasn’t Aaron Wan-Bissaka’s best night, but he has shown enough this season defensively to show his value and he’s improved going forward. The lack of competition may become an issue, however, if Diogo Dalot doesn’t improve.
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Luke Shaw has been one of United’s better performers in 2020 and he’s been a starter in every one of those 18 unbeaten games, although that status will be challenged after he was forced off against his former club. Until then he had been United’s best defender and it looked dangerous when getting into attacking positions.
It was with Shaw and his replacement Brandon Williams off the pitch – the latter with a nasty cut to his head – that Southampton managed to steal a point. For the second successive Old Trafford game United had conceded twice to opposition from the South Coast and this time their attack didn’t get them out of the mess.
After the 5-2 demolition of Bournemouth there was an acceptance defensive mistakes had been made, but they were made again on Monday night. They could yet prove costly to United’s ambitions for next season.

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Coronavirus: Arsenal propose 55 redundancies amid financial struggles – Sky Sports

Arsenal have confirmed they are proposing 55 redundancies due to the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on the club’s finances.

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Arsenal have confirmed they are proposing 55 redundancies due to the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on the club’s finances.
In a statement released on the club’s website on Wednesday, head of football Raul Sanllehi and managing director Vinai Venkatesham said one of the key reasons cutbacks are being made is to “maintain investment in the team”.
The 2019-20 Premier League season was suspended in March, before finally resuming – without fans in the stadiums – in June, leaving clubs without…

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Not pitting Hamilton late “a mistake that almost cost us dearly” – Mercedes – GPfans

Mercedes has admitted leaving Lewis Hamilton out after Max Verstappen’s late pit-stop in the British Grand Prix was a strategic mistake that almost cost them the race.

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Mercedes has admitted leaving Lewis Hamilton out after Max Verstappen’s late pit-stop in the British Grand Prix was a strategic mistake that almost cost them the race.
Following a puncture for Valtteri Bottas on lap 51, Red Bull immediately pitted Max Verstappen for fresh rubber to score the extra point for the fastest lap, knowing it was also guaranteed second place.
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That extended Hamilton’s advantage in front to over half a minute, leading to the team opting to…

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Angus Kinnear details Leeds United’s transfer advantage over Brighton with Ben White – Leeds Live

Marcelo Bielsa and Victor Orta want Ben White back at Elland Road

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Ben White loves Leeds United. Ben White loved playing for Leeds United. Ben White loved his Leeds United team-mates. Leeds United have an advantage.
Chief executive Angus Kinnear has outlined the clubs pursuit of Brighton & Hove Albions defender and how the Whites may yet get him back to West Yorkshire.
As well as how much White enjoyed all aspects of his experience at Elland Road, Kinnear also points out the guaranteed Premier League pitch time White will get under Marcelo Bielsa.
Liverp…

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