Tuesday, October 22, 2019

Neymar & Luka Modric excluded from 30 man Ballon D'or shortlist as Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo and Virgil van Dijk top nominations

PSG/Brazil star Neymar Jr. and last year's Ballon D'or winner Luka Modric have been excluded from the 2019 Ballon D'or nominee list released Monday night with favorite Virgil Van Dijk competing against Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi for the France Football organized award.

The Ballon d'Or has been awarded by the French magazine, France Football, since 1956 and sees their editorial staff put together the initial 30-man shortlist.

Modric beat Messi and Ronaldo to last year's gong following his impressive run at the FIFA 2018 World Cup and Real Madrid's Champions League win but his omission this year makes him the first player in history to miss out on nomination the following year after winning it. Arsenal striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang was included on the 30-strong shortlist, along with World Cup winner Kylian Mbappe, Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi, who have both won the Ballon d'Or a joint-record five times.

Below are the nominated players for the 2019 Ballon D'or award.

Sadio Mane - Liverpool
Sergio Aguero - Manchester City
Frenkie de Jong - Ajax/ Barcelona
Hugo Lloris - Tottenham
Dusan Tadic - Ajax
Kylian Mbappe - PSG
Trent Alexander-Arnold - Liverpool
Donny van de Beek - Ajax
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang - Arsenal
Marc-Andre Ter-Stegen - Barcelona
Cristiano Ronaldo - Juventus
Alisson - Liverpool
Matthijs de Ligt - Juventus
Karim Benzema - Real Madrid
Georginio Wijnaldum - Liverpool
Virgil van Dijk - Liverpool
Bernardo Silva - Manchester City
Heung-min Son - Tottenham Hotspur
Robert Lewandowski - Bayern Munich
Roberto Firmino - Liverpool
Lionel Messi - Argentina/Barcelona

Sheffield United Stun Arsenal

Sheffield United claimed a stunning win over Arsenal to move into the top half of the Premier League.

Lys Mousset marked his first start for the Blades with the decisive goal in the first half, turning in Jack O'Connell's knockdown from close range.

Arsenal's £72m signing Nicolas Pepe had earlier skewed a golden chance wide from six yards.

Granit Xhaka forced Dean Henderson into an excellent save but the Blades closed the game out superbly for a famous win.

The victory was Sheffield United's biggest result since their return to the Premier League as they moved up to ninth, four points clear of the relegation zone.

Defeat for Arsenal, meanwhile, means they missed the chance to move back into the top four. They are fifth, two points behind Chelsea in fourth.

Sheffield United have certainly shown plenty of grit on their return to the Premier League and have been particularly impressive in not rolling over to sides in the top six.

They battled from two goals down to draw 2-2 at Chelsea in August before pushing Liverpool close at the end of last month, only to be undone by a single goal from a mistake by Henderson.

Against Arsenal they again took the game to their opponents from the outset. David McGoldrick's technical ability combined with Mousset's pace posed a troubling front line for the Arsenal defence.

Chris Wilder had challenged his new-look forward line to give the Blades the cutting edge they have lacked this season and Mousset did just that, making the most of being unmarked inside the box to sweep home.

From then on, it was all about the Sheffield United defence. The hosts, incredibly, have not lost a league game when leading at half-time since 2014 and they managed the remainder of the game superbly, with their back three of O'Connell, Chris Basham and John Egan forming a formidable barrier.

"I have so much respect for Sheffield United's back three," BBC Radio 5 live summariser Chris Sutton said. "They have come up through the leagues together, they are well oiled and well drilled.

"It is the best defence in the Premier League this season, along with Liverpool."

The Gunners went into the international break in a good place in the Premier League.

They sat third after beating Bournemouth 1-0 at the Emirates, extending their home record so far this season to four wins and one draw.

But away from home Arsenal remain unconvincing.

Their only win on the road in the Premier League came in their season-opener when they beat Newcastle 1-0 but since then they have scraped draws against Watford and Manchester United and lost to Liverpool and now Sheffield United.

Arsenal have won just four of their last 17 games away from home - a statistic Gunners boss Unai Emery will need to improve quickly if they are to challenge for the top four.

Super Eagles youngster, Samuel Chukwueze nominated for top international award

Super Eagles youngster and Villarreal winger, Samuel Chukwueze has been nominated for for the second edition of the Kopa Trophee.

The 20-year-old was named by France Football on Monday night (Oct.21) in a shortlist of 10 players contending for the award.

The award named after former French footballer Raymond Kopa is presented to the best performing player under the age of 21. France supersar, Kylian Mbappe won the maiden edition last year.

See complete list of nominees below:

João Félix -Atletico Madrid

Jadon Sancho -Borussia Dortmund

Moise Kean -Everton

Samuel Chukwueze -Villarreal

Kang-in Lee -Valencia

Matthijs de Ligt -Juventus

Vinicius Jr -Real Madrid

Kai Havertz -Bayer Leverkusen

Mattéo Guendouzi -Arsenal

Andreï Lounine -Real Valladolid

Monday, October 21, 2019

Aribo Eager To Keep Improving On Top Form For Rangers and Nigeria

Nigeria midfielder Joe Aribo is determined to keep improving his form after earning plaudits for his recent performances for both club and country.

Aribo, 23, has enjoyed a promising start to his career with Scottish giants Glasgow Rangers few months after his transfer from Charlton Athletic.

The talented player has cemented a place in Steven Gerrard’s team despite doubts over his potential upon arrival at the club.

Aribo returned to the Gers starting line-up in Sunday’s 1-1 away draw against Hearts after missing the last three games as a result of head injury.

On the international scene, he has been impressive for Nigeria scoring in his first two games for the Super Eagles.

He scored a sublime goal in the 1-1 friendly draw against Brazil last Sunday.

“I am just thankful to God that I am able to be back and to be playing again, I just want to keep performing and keep playing as I can,” Aribo told Rangers TV.

“It was a wonderful feeling (playing against Brazil) and one of the highest I have been in football and I am just happy that I am out there and playing, I just want to improve.”

Liverpool stars Sadio Mane, Virgil van Dijk and Roberto Firmino on Ballon d'Or shortlist - so far

A raft of Liverpool's Champions League winners, including Sadio Mane, Virgil van Dijk and Roberto Firmino, have been included on the Ballon d'Or's 30-man shortlist, which will be completed later this evening.

Mane was among the first five nominees revealed by France Football on Monday, with team-mates Alisson, Georginio Wijnaldum and Trent Alexander-Arnold also being named.

Manchester City pair Sergio Aguero and Bernardo Silva made the cut too, alongside Champions League runners-up Hugo Lloris and Heung-Min Son from Tottenham.

Arsenal striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has also been included in the 30-strong list, as have World Cup winner Kylian Mbappe and five-time Ballon d'Or winner Cristiano Ronaldo.

So far, 20 players have been announced ahead of the ceremony on December 2 at the Theatre du Chatelet in Paris, with Luka Modric breaking the Lionel Messi and Ronaldo stronghold on the trophy with his 2018 victory.

The full shortlist

Sadio Mane (Liverpool)
Hugo Lloris (Tottenham)
Dusan Tadic (Ajax)
Frenkie De Jong (Barcelona)
Sergio Aguero (Man City)
Trent Alexander-Arnold (Liverpool)
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (Arsenal)
Kylian Mbappe (PSG)
Marc-Andre Ter Stegen (Barcelona)
Donny van de Beek (Ajax)
Cristiano Ronaldo (Juventus)
Alisson Becker (Liverpool)
Matthijs de Ligt (Juventus)
Karim Benzema (Real Madrid)
Georginio Wijnaldum (Liverpool)
Virgil van Dijk (Liverpool)
Bernardo Silva (Man City)
Heung-Min Son (Tottenham)
Robert Lewandowski (Bayern Munich)
Roberto Firmino (Liverpool)

It's my toughest time at Tottenham - Harry Kane

Harry Kane admits Tottenham are going through their toughest period since he established himself in the side. Spurs have endured a terrible start to the season, winning just three times in 12 games. They needed a late equaliser to draw 1-1 at home to Watford on Saturday and go into Tuesday's Champions League game with Red Star Belgrade on the back of a 7-2 defeat to Bayern Munich in their last game in the competition.

Asked if this was the worst phase of his time at Spurs, captain Kane replied: "Yes, probably, I'd say so. When you look at the results it's not been easy. Poch not concerned by 'rumours' Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino insists he's not affected by 'rumours' around the club, but hints that his job could be on the line if performances don't improve.

Tottenham boss Mauricio Pochettino hints his job could be on the line if poor performances continue

"Of course every player wants to win, we all want to be winning games, the manager wants to be winning games.

"But it's another challenge, it's another challenge in my career, in the team's career, so it's just about trying to overcome that.

"It's not going to be a straight path to success. There's going to be bumps along the way. At the moment we're at one and we've got to overcome that."

Spurs' hopes of reaching the knockout stages of the Champions League will be all but over if they lose to the Serb champions.

They only have one point after two games and would fall five behind Red Star if they were to be beaten. Speaking ahead of the game, Kane was asked to comment on a report that the players felt Pochettino's training sessions were too demanding.

"There's going to be speculation when things aren't going well, when you're not winning games, people will look from the outside for excuses," he said.

"From our point of view we work hard every day. We have worked hard since the manager came here to improve as players and as a team, that hasn't changed.

"We need to carry on doing what we have always done and that is keep working as hard as possible."

Oliseh: Don’t write-off Manchester United after Liverpool draw.

Following their display against the league leaders at Old Trafford, the ex-Super Eagles coach thinks the Red Devils can still challenge top teams. Former Ajax and Juventus midfielder Sunday Oliseh believes Manchester United should not be underestimated in this campaign after holding Liverpool to a 1-1 draw in Sunday’s Premier League encounter.

Prior to their outing against Liverpool, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side has had an unconvincing start to the season, winning just one of their last five matches in the English top-flight.

A late Adam Lallana strike cancelled out Marcus Rashford’s opener to deny the hosts maximum points and their first league win since September 14 (against Leicester City).

Manchester United currently languish in the bottom half of the league table with 10 points after nine games, seven points adrift of the Champions League qualification zone.

Despite the dropped points at Old Trafford, Oliseh was satisfied with the overall team performance to match Jurgen Klopp's team.

“Pleased to see Rashford and Man United play at such a high level vs Liverpool. Don't write off Man. Utd for the season after today!,” Oliseh tweeted.

Manchester United will be looking to maintain their inspiring form when they visit Partizan Belgrade for Thursday’s Europa League fixture.

Manchester City players must help defence - Pep Guardiola

Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola says he needs all 11 players to contribute for a successful defence. City have conceded nine goals in the Premier League this season yet kept a clean sheet against Crystal Palace on Saturday, despite fielding two central midfielders at the heart of their defence.

Guardiola revealed centre backs John Stones and Nicolas Otamendi are fit to face Atalanta on Wednesday amid injury concerns, but admits the team as a whole is responsible for the defensive performance.

The Spaniard said: "We are good enough, we are strong enough, I think we believe in that. When you play these kind of games and believe in that 'OK, we are going to defend well because we are good'.

"Last game [against Palace] shows when you play good you defend less. When you don't play good you concede a lot. It's not about having two players who are going to defend for the 11 players.

"What happens is when we make an incredible fluid game from the build-up, we concede few. When our build-up is wrong, you make a mistake in the first pass.

"Against Wolves our build-up was not in our mind, we didn't train it. It was my mistake. That happened and we concede a lot - that's why it's related.

"It's not about we defend well and after it's enough - no. When you play good in some departments, pressing high is good and intense, we concede really few."

Guardiola guided Barcelona to Champions League success in 2009 and 2011, yet despite being considered as one of the best managers in the world, he has an eight-year drought in Europe's elite competition.

The 48-year-old, who reached three semi-finals with Bayern Munich, has not made it past the quarter-finals in three attempts with City and admits there is no guarantee they will make it further this season.

Asked whether he thinks City can win the Champions League ahead of their third Group C fixture against Atalanta, Guardiola replied: "I don't know.

"I answer this question how many times about that for the first year. I answered in the first press conference here when I arrived four years ago about this question.

"I answer many, many times and I have the same opinion. We are going to try but I don't know who is going to win. If we win I'll be happy - if we do not win we will try again next season.

"I never play one game as a football player or manager thinking I cannot win. At the same time, I play every game as a football manager or football player thinking I can lose.

"I can't anticipate what is going to happen in a football game but honestly I don't know. I would like to say we are going to win but I don't know honestly. We are going to try. We try from day one until the last day but honestly I don't know."

Bayern very happy with Coutinho transfer - Rummenigge

The Allianz Arena chief is pleased with how quickly the Brazilian has adapted to life in the Bundesliga since his loan switch from Barcelona. Bayern Munich chief executive Karl-Heinz Rummenigge has been "very satisfied" with Philippe Coutinho's performances since his summer arrival from Barcelona.

The 27-year-old completed a season-long loan switch to Allianz Arena on August 16, after spending just one full season at Camp Nou.

Coutinho joined Barca from Liverpool after five successful years at Anfield for £140 million ($184m) in January 2018, but has failed to live up to expectations in Spain. Ernesto Valverde deemed the Brazil international surplus to requirements ahead of the 2019-20 campaign and Bayern pounced on his uncertain position, which has, so far, proved a shrewd piece of business.

Coutinho has scored two goals and laid on three assists in seven Bundesliga outings, showing flashes of the brilliance which turned him into a household name at Liverpool.

Rummenigge has been delighted with the playmaker's contribution in the early stages of the new season, as he told German publication Kicker: "Philippe is a high-quality player.

"Philippe has no star attitudes. He is a very pleasant person and he is very popular throughout the club.

"We are very satisfied with the transfer." Bayern have the option to purchase Coutinho on a permanent deal at the end of the season for £120m ($156m), but Rummenigge claims a final decision on his future will not be made until next year.

“We will decide about that when the right point in time has arrived,” the 64-year-old added.

Coutinho retained a spot in Bayern's starting XI for their trip to Augsburg on Saturday, which saw the visitors held to a disappointing 2-2 draw.

The result meant Niko Kovac's side missed the chance to move to the top of the Bundesliga after leaders Borussia Monchengladbach suffered a 1-0 defeat at Borussia Dortmund over the weekend.

The German champions will now look ahead to a Champions League group stage encounter against Olympiacos in Greece on Tuesday night.

Bayern are top of Group B on six points, having already recorded comfortable wins over Red Star Belgrade and Tottenham.

Roma tweet apology to Sampdoria's Ronaldo Vieira for racist boos from fans

AS Roma have vowed to ban the fans responsible for aiming racist abuse at Sampdoria midfielder Ronaldo Vieira during a 0-0 Serie A draw on Sunday and took to social media to apologise for the incident.

Italian news network ANSA reported that the 21-year-old was targeted with monkey chants by travelling supporters at the Stadio Luigi Ferraris.

Roma's official Twitter account said: "AS Roma would like to apologise to Ronaldo Vieira for the racist boos he was subjected to.

"Roma does not tolerate racism of any kind and the club will support the authorities in identifying and subsequently banning any individuals found guilty of racially abusing the midfielder."

The chants were heard coming from the away end, occupied by around 2,000 Roma fans, during the first half. The abuse continued and was noted by fourth official Antonio Giua.

"I heard it but I don't want to talk about it. This happens too often, it shouldn't be this way," Vieira told Rai Sport.

Corriere dello Sport reported that an announcement was made on the stadium loudspeaker warning fans that the match would be suspended if the chants continued.

Vieira was born in Guinea-Bissau but has represented England at youth level, having moved to the country at a young age.

He joined Sampdoria from Leeds United in 2018.

Last month, Roma banned a fan for life for sending racist insults to defender Juan Jesus on social media.

There have already been several incidents of racism in Serie A this season.

Inter Milan striker Romelu Lukaku received abuse from Cagliari fans in September and a game was briefly suspended when Fiorentina defender Dalbert said he had been racially abused by Atalanta supporters.

This is my 'toughest' time at Spurs - Harry Kane

Tottenham Hotspur striker Harry Kane has said that the side's recent struggles marks the "toughest" period in his time at the club.

Spurs escaped with a late draw at home to Premier League strugglers Watford on Saturday, following a controversial Dele Alli equaliser.

Boss Mauricio Pochettino has come under pressure following a poor start to the Premier League season that has seen just three wins, including losses to Brighton, Leicester and Newcastle.

"It's hard to put a finger on exactly what's wrong," Kane said at a news conference on Monday. "Sometimes when you're having a run of form like this, things don't always go your way in games. It's about sticking together and if we win tomorrow night that can kick start us.

"It's probably the toughest time since I've been here. It's just another challenge though. The road to success will always have bumps and this is just one of them."

Pochettino maintained that his side are just low on confidence, saying: "For many of our players this is the first time they've been in a tough period.

"For 99 per cent of our players they were in a very good period in the past five years, it's a very new thing for them."

"It's natural that when suffer a defeat like we suffered [7-2 loss to Bayern Munich]. When it should have been 3-1 to us in the first half and then we conceded like we did in the second half that is tough. It affects your confidence and trust.

"Then Brighton came so quick and it's normal that we're in a period where we're fragile."

Spurs, who reached the final of the Champions League last season, will look to end their poor form in the competition this season when they face Serbian champions Red Star Belgrade at the Tottenham Hotspur stadium on Tuesday.

Manchester City Are 'Still Not Ready' To Win The Champions League, Says Pep Guardiola

Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola has argued that his side are not ready to lift the Champions League crown as they aren't ruthless enough in front of net.

The defending Premier League champions bounced back from their shock 2-0 defeat against Watford with a 2-0 victory over Crystal Palace on Saturday.

Gabriel Jesus opened the scoring in the first half and David Silva doubled their lead minutes later, but Guardiola was far from convinced with the display at Selhurst Park.

The City boss was critical of the 22-year-old Brazilian striker in the dying stages of the match after he chose to shoot instead of setting up the unmarked Kevin De Bruyne for his side's third.

According to Guardiola, City's missed chances against Palace showed why his side could miss out on the Champions League crown again this season.

"The last action... like when he has to pass to Kevin, he has to do it," Guardiola said.

"But he is so young. We missed a lot of chances and also lost a lot of chances in the box. We have to be clinical.

"The people say about the Champions League, that target. We still are not ready.

"We create a lot, don't concede, but can improve.

"We've scored a lot over the last two seasons and I don't have doubts about that, but we have to keep going, work on that."

City's mistake of not capitalising on chances almost came back to haunt them, but the in-form Ederson pulled off a sensational save to deny Christian Benteke.

Guardiola has been heavily criticised for not winning Europe's elite club competition since lifting his second Champions League with Barcelona in 2011.

The 48-year-old Spaniard, who was appointed City boss in 2016, has failed to progress past the Champions League quarter-finals with his current side.

City are second in the Premier League and are six points behind league leaders Liverpool, who dropped points in a 1-1 draw against Manchester United on Sunday.

Guardiola's men will resume their Champions League campaign when they host Atalanta at the Etihad on Tuesday.

Jose Mourinho Trolled Jurgen Klopp For Complaining About Manchester United’s 'Defensive' Approach

Jose Mourinho has fired back at Jurgen Klopp's claims that Manchester United were overly defensive by suggesting his anger came from 'never beating them at Old Trafford.'

The Red Devils led 1-0 before half-time after Marcus Rashford neatly finished from Daniel James' cross, despite VAR controversy surrounding Victor Lindelof's challenge on Divock Origi in the build-up.

But Adam Lallana scored a late equaliser to rescue a point for the Reds at Old Trafford.

Klopp argued after the match that United had only "set out to defend," but Mourinho has slammed the Liverpool boss' comments.

When the 'Special One' was asked for his verdict on Klopp's frustrations towards United's playing style, he responded: "Because he never beat Manchester United at Old Trafford.

"He didn't like the menu.

"He likes meat and got fish, so he was not happy.

"They are, of course, much stronger playing against opposition that gives them chances for transitions and counter-attacks.

"Of course, United with the limitations they have at this moment played a different profile of game.

"They tried to be solid in the back, they tried not to give chances of transition, they always kept three centre-backs in position plus [Scott] McTominay and Fred, they were always compact.

"They [Liverpool] didn't like the menu."

Following on from the match, United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer took a dig at Liverpool after photos emerged of their players playing basketball ahead of the clash.

United legend Roy Keane argued after the match that the club must make a move for Tottenham striker Harry Kane, while ex-Spurs midfielder Rafael van der Vaart lambasted marquee summer signing Harry Maguire.

The Red Devils, who have struggled with consistency this season, are in 13th place after their opening nine league matches.

Meanwhile, Klopp's title-challenging side remain top of the league and hold a six-point lead over defending champions Manchester City.

Solskjaer's men will now resume their Europa League campaign on Thursday with a trip Partizan.

Champions League holders Liverpool will also be in action this week when they travel to Genk on Wednesday.

Roy Keane Hilariously Destroys Gary Neville And Graeme Souness With Harry Kane Claim

Roy Keane has urged Manchester United to sign Harry Kane and in doing so, he hilariously destroyed both Gary Neville and Graeme Souness on Sky Sports.

Neville and Souness got involved in a back-and-forth exchange about United's attacking woes and Keane brilliantly chimed in to give his opinion.

The pair of pundits were talking about United's lack of striking options with the former Liverpool man bringing up Mason Greenwood and lambasting United's decision to sell Romelu Lukaku without replacing him.

The ex-United captain defended Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's decision to offload the Belgium player with Keane getting involved in their heated argument by singling out the England skipper.

"Go and get Kane," Keane said. "Just go and get Kane from Spurs."

"You'll be popular with Spurs fans," Neville responded. Keane then added: "Just go get him. What are you all staring at?! United are in disarray, go get him."

Keane's simple answer became the talking point of the online football community.

"Roy Keane is just brilliant. 'What are you all staring at??" One Twitter user wrote.

A second Tweeted: "Roy Keane the absolute legend."

A third Tweeted: "Roy Keane easy best pundit around."

Another social media user wrote: "Roy Keane is epic. Imagine playing against him."

Kane has been linked with a move to United for some time now. He has been a prolific goalscorer in England's top-flight ever since breaking into Spurs' first-team.

Should United go all out and snap up Kane in the summer? Let us know what you think.

Sunday, October 20, 2019

David de Gea starts, Mohamed Salah out

David de Gea is fit to start for Manchester United on Super Sunday, but Mohamed Salah is not in the Liverpool matchday squad.

De Gea has made a swift recovery after suffering a groin injury on international duty with Spain, but Salah failed a late fitness test after picking up an ankle problem in Liverpool's 2-1 win over Leicester before the international break.

Divock Origi replaces Salah in the Liverpool starting line-up, while Alisson Becker returns in goal for the first time since August.

Marcus Rashford leads the line for Manchester United, with the returning Anthony Martial among the substitutes, while Fred joins Scott McTominay in midfield and Axel Tuanzebe is included in the defence.
Team news

Manchester United: De Gea, Wan-Bissaka, Lindelof, Maguire, Tuanzebe, Young, McTominay, Fred, Pereira, James, Rashford.

Subs: Romero, Mata, Martial, Rojo, Greenwood, Garner, Williams.

Liverpool: Alisson, Alexander-Arnold, Matip, Van Dijk, Robertson, Wijnaldum, Fabinho, Henderson, Mane, Firmino, Origi.

Subs: Adrian, Lovren, Milner, Keita, Gomez, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Lallana.

Etebo Celebrates Stoke City Second League Win Of The Season

Super Eagles midfielder Oghenekaro Etebo is in cloud nine following Stoke City’s 2-0 home win against Fulham in their Sky Bet Championship clash at the Bet365 Stadium on Saturday. It was the Potters second league win of the season following last weekend’s 2-1 away win at Swansea City.

Tyrese Campbell opened scoring for the home team in the 16th minute, while Lee Gregory added the second 10 minutes from time.

“Another three points.Well done lads and thanks to all the Amazing fans of city for their support,” Etebo wrote on his Twitter handle.

Etebo was in action for the entire 90 minutes in the game.

It was the former CD Feirense of Portugal midfielder 10th league appearance for Nathan Jones’ men.

Messi voting me The Best shows how far I've come - Mane

The Liverpool winger has enjoyed another impressive start to the season with five goals in eight league games

Sadio Mane admits it was a "great compliment" to be Lionel Messi’s number one vote for The Best FIFA Men’s Player award.

The Liverpool winger received Messi’s top vote for the award last month, with the Barcelona winger eventually picking up the prize himself, with Mane coming in at number five.

Mane’s team-mate Virgil van Dijk finished in second, ahead of Juventus forward Cristiano Ronaldo and fellow Reds winger Mohamed Salah in third and fourth respectively.

Messi also voted for Ronaldo and his new club-mate Frenkie de Jong, but it was Senegal international Mane who took the number one vote from the Argentinian forward.

“It’s a great compliment when Messi votes for you,” Mane said in an interview with The Sunday Times.

“If you look at where I’ve come from, it shows I’ve come quite far. Without being for a long time at an academy, I got here.

“All I can say [to kids] is to keep working hard and go for your dream.”

And on whether or not he would return the favour for Messi if given the chance, the Liverpool winger joked: “Yes, for sure...after Virgil [Van Dijk]. No, Virgil is a great, great player but sorry Virgil, it has to be Messi before you.”

Having shared the Premier League Golden Boot last season with fellow African stars Salah and Arsenal striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Mane has made another blistering start to the current campaign.

The 27-year-old already has five league goals to his name, as well as scoring the opener in his side’s dramatic 4-3 Champions League victory against Red Bull Salzburg earlier this month.

He says the decision to join the Reds was "the best of his career" after making the move from Southampton three years ago, but admits that meeting Jurgen Klopp for the first time was slightly overwhelming.

“He was talking too much and I said, ‘Wow, this is going to be tough for me because I’m a little bit quiet.'

“Klopp is a really nice guy. Everybody loves him and that is more important, to be honest [than all the talking].

“He is a bit of a funny guy but at the same time he is a serious guy.”

Mane will be looking to continue his fine start to the new campaign as Liverpool look to maintain their 100 per cent record in the Premier League this term when they visit old rivals Manchester United on Sunday.

Akpeyi's replacing Alisson as the best keeper in the world - Kaizer Chiefs fan appreciation

Earlier this season, the Nigerian stopper claimed he was not loved by football followers in South Africa but all that has changed

Kaizer Chiefs beat Cape Town City on penalties in the Round of 16 of the Telkom Knockout Cup on Saturday.

With the match ending 1-1 at full-time, Amakhosi keeper Daniel Akpeyi became the hero in the shootout, as his saves dramatically won the match for the visitors.

Even though the Nigerian produced a number of good performances earlier this season as Chiefs topped the PSL table, the fans were still calling for the return of Itumeleng Khune.

When Khune got injured soon after returning, the supporters realised they have to get behind Akpeyi.

The hurt keeper has recently stated he is his only supporter in South Africa as he felt left out from the fans' affection due to the overwhelming preference for the popular Bafana Bafana keeper.

From South African social media on Saturday night, we notice Akpeyi is beginning to win over many Chiefs fans now. He's turned them around thanks to his match-winning performances and there's no better way to silence your critics than on the field.

Though, there are still a few fans who thanked him with a photo of Khune, or found a reason to criticise a few moments during the game.

You can enjoy the Twitter reaction, including a video of the fans at the Cape Town Stadium, thanks to Chiefs' media officer Vina Maphosa.

Mourinho is still the Special One - Ibrahimovic.

The former Sweden striker played under the Portuguese at Inter and Manchester United, and believes he is far from finished at the top level

Zlatan Ibrahimovic has backed Jose Mourinho to prove a success in his next position, but the ex-Barcelona striker remains less enamoured with Pep Guardiola.

Mourinho and Ibrahimovic forged a strong bond during spells together at Inter and Manchester United.

The divisive former Chelsea and Real Madrid boss has not held a managerial job since parting ways with United in December 2018 but appears to be edging closer to a coaching comeback.

Mourinho recently rejected the chance to hold talks with Lyon as he "has already chosen another club," the Ligue 1 side's president, Jean-Michel Aulas, said earlier this month.

And Ibrahimovic is adamant the Portuguese's next employers will enjoy the best of his abilities.

"He had an incredible impact on my career," the LA Galaxy striker told Gazzetta dello Sport.

"He is still 'the Special One', a winner. I hope he will back on a bench soon and I am sure he will start winning immediately."

Guardiola, however, does not occupy the same place in Ibrahimovic's heart.

The pair shared a famously dysfunctional relationship over the course of the Swede's single season with Barca, which featured 16 La Liga goals and a title triumph.

"We never had a direct confrontation because of him," Ibrahimovic said of Guardiola, who is now in charge of Manchester City.

"When we faced each other, he hid. He waited for me to leave and then left the dressing room. As a coach he is a phenomenon, but as a man..."

Ibrahimovic is set to be on the search for a new club with his contract in Los Angeles set to expire at the end of the MLS season.

He has been linked with a return to Old Trafford while the man himself has not ruled out a move back to Serie A.

Ndidi Dedicates Leicester City Home Win Vs Burnley To Late Foxes Owner

Leicester City midfielder Wilfred Ndidi has dedicated Saturday’s 2-1 home win against Burnley to the club’s late owner Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha.

Chris Wood gave Burnley the lead early in the game before the Foxes rallied back with goals from Jamie Vardy and Youri Tielemans.

Srivaddhanaprabha died on October 27, 2018 after an helicopter carrying him and four other crashed shortly after take-off from the King Power Stadium.

The club’s officials and players have been in sober mood, reflecting on his exit and offering a moment of silent in their clash against Burnley as they prepare for his first anniversary at the end of the month.

“Forever in our hearts 💙… 3points 💼 ,”Ndidi tweeted after the game.

Ndidi has made eight league appearances for Leicester City this season and scored twice.

Leicester City maintained third position in the table following the win.

Super Eagles B Lose 4-3 On Aggregate To Togo, Crash Out of CHAN 2020

The Super Eagles B failed to qualify for the 2020 African Nations Championship (CHAN) billed for Cameroon despite a 2-0 win against Togo in the second leg of their final qualifying round fixture at the Agege Stadium Lagos on Saturday night.

The Imama Amapakabo’s charges lost 4-3 on aggregate to the Hawks having earlier lost the first 4-1 in Lome.

The Home Eagles mounted pressure on the Togolese right from start and were rewarded for their positive approach when Lobi Stars’ forward Sikiru Alimi broke the deadlock with an eighth-minute goal.

Alimi went close again in the 25th minute, but his goal-bound effort was cleared off the line by a Togolese defender.

Ibrahim Sunusi nearly added the second goal five minutes later but his shot missed target.

The Eagles got their second goal in the 72nd minute through Alimi who fired home from outside the box.

The Eagles however failed to find the much needed third goal despite the centre referee adding additional 10 minutes.

Ajayi Wins Al Ahly September Goal Of The Month Award

Nigerian forward Junior Ajayi has won Egyptian club, Al Ahly’s goal of the month award for September.

His first goal in Al Ahly’s 3-2 win against rivals, Zamalek in their Super Cup clash on September 20 was adjudged by the club as the best for the month.

Ajayi bagged a brace in the encounter played at the Borg El Arab Stadium.

The 23-year-old has scored two goals in three league appearances for Al Ahly this season.

Injury limited his appearance for the Egyptian champions last season when he scored four goals in 15 appearances for the club.

Real Madrid unbeaten stat ended by Mallorca

Real Madrid's unbeaten league start was ended as they were stunned 1-0 by promoted Real Mallorca.

Barcelona's 3-0 win at Eibar earlier in the day had relegated Real to second place, and Zinedine Zidane's side failed to reclaim top spot as Lago Junior's seventh-minute strike proved decisive. Real's misery was completed 17 minutes from time when right-back Alvaro Odriozola was sent off for a second bookable offence.

Odriozola had been walking a tightrope from the 19th minute, and he slipped off it when he foolishly challenged Lago Junior and left Real one man short.

Mallorca had to defend for long periods, especially in the second half as a white-shirted wave came towards them, but Real lacked a cutting edge and rarely tested home goalkeeper Manolo Reina.

It was Mallorca's best win since their promotion from the Segunda Division and moved them out of the relegation spots and into 14th place.

Real were without injured trio Gareth Bale, Luka Modric and Toni Kroos, and summer signing Eden Hazard was also missing after his wife had given birth.

So Luka Jovic made his first league start in nearly a month to join Karim Benzema in attack. Isco tested Mallorca goalkeeper Reina with an early effort but Real were soon behind.

Odriozola allowed Lago Junior to cut inside him onto his right foot and curl a splendid shot past Thibaut Courtois - his first La Liga goal coming two seasons after he was playing in the third tier for Malaga.

Mallorca thought they had doubled their lead after 14 minutes when Ante Budimir drove home but the assistant referee had correctly flagged for offside.

Real dominated as the half wore on with Benzema striking the crossbar from close range and Reina holding Marcelo's powerful 20-yard shot.

Mallorca sent on full-back Lumor Agbenyenu for the second half and he tried his luck from distance within 30 seconds, his rising shot just clearing Courtois' crossbar.

But the pattern of the first half was soon re-established as Real set up camp in Mallorca territory.

Reina held Benzema's deflected strike and Sergio Ramos sent a 25-yard free-kick over the bar.

However, Real often lacked composure around the edge of the penalty area as Mallorca got bodies around the ball.

Real were still struggling to create clear-cut chances when Odriozola dived in to stop Lago Junior to receive his second yellow card.

Reina had to collect Eder Militao's header when James Rodriguez floated a free kick into a crowded penalty area.

But, in truth, Mallorca saw out the closing stages in comfort and well worth their unlikely victory.

Hawk-Eye company apologises for VAR confusion.

The company that provides the Premier League's video assistant referee (VAR) technology has apologised to Tottenham and Watford fans after an incorrect graphic was sent to the big screen during Saturday's 1-1 draw.

Dele Alli rescued a point for Spurs after a VAR review for handball decided the goal had been correctly awarded.

However, initially the big screen wrongly indicated a 'no goal' verdict.

Hawk-Eye Innovations said it will work with the league to avoid future issues.

The company said: "Hawk-Eye apologises to Spurs and Watford fans for the confusion caused.

"We are working together with the Professional Game Match Officials Board [the body responsible for professional match officials in England] and the Premier League to understand the root cause of this problem and propose a series of measures to ensure it won't happen again."

Watford, who had a strong claim for a penalty turned down by VAR in the first half, remain winless at the foot of the Premier League table.

Saturday, October 19, 2019

Cristiano Ronaldo makes more money on Instagram than playing for Juventus - New Report

Fresh reports and data have confirmed that Cristiano Ronaldo apparently earns more from Instagram than he does from playing soccer for Juventus.

The 34-year-old pockets an annual $47.8 million from paid Instagram posts, according to a study by social media firm Hopper HQ on Buzz Bingo. In contrast, his salary at Juventus is reportedly $34 million, according to Goal.com.

Ronaldo's reported income from Instagram makes him the platform's highest earner, ahead of Lionel Messi and Kylie Jenner.

Receiving a reported average of $975,000 per advertised post, Ronaldo's Instagram earnings far eclipse the world's biggest celebrities, including Kylie Jenner, Selena Gomez, and Emily Ratajkowski. He also beats footballing rival Lionel Messi, who is said to have earned less than half of Ronaldo's total with $23.3 million.

Amongst the brands Ronaldo has represented on Instagram are Clear Haircare, Nike Football, and Six Pad Europe.

    "Ronaldo is the most followed human on Instagram (with 186 million followers) so companies are paying almost $1 million for posts to access his insane reach.

    Due to his status as a celebrity and football star, his earnings from Instagram break away from typical influencer partnerships, as many of his promotional posts will be part of wider sponsorship deals, such as Nike.

    You only need to go on his Instagram to see how many paid partnerships he does outside of the sports market" Hopper HQ marketing executive Nicola Cronin told Business Insider.

Bulgaria head coach Krasimir Balakov resigns following racist abuse of England players

Krasimir Balakov, the head coach of Bulgaria has resigned after the racist abuse of England's players during their Euro 2020 qualifying match in Sofia on Monday night, (Oct. 14)

The 53-year-old also confirmed he is resigning from his role as president of the Bulgarian Football Union, while the entire BFU Executive Committee also stepping down from their respective positions.

Speaking on Friday, Mihaylov said: "My decision to step down has nothing to do with prime-minister Borissov asking for my resignation the day after the game vs England. My patience is over.

"We did what we had to do regarding the security during the game v England. Bulgaria is not a racist country."

This comes after Borislav Mihaylo, the president of the Bulgarian Football Association to resign from his position. 10 Bulgraian football fans have also been arrested since the racism scandal.

At the Euro 2020 qualifying clash, Bulgarian fans directed shameful ' Nazi salutes and racist chants at Three Lions players in Sofia. The match was halted on two separate occasions by UEFA officials due to abuse aimed at England players despite their 6-0 victory in Bulgaria.

UEFA has opened disciplinary procedures against both Bulgaria and England for their fans' behaviour during the game.

Sergio Aguero Crashes Range Rover While Driving To Training

Manchester City star Sergio Aguero was involved in a minor car crash while driving to training on Wednesday morning.

The Argentine was on his way to Etihad Campus facility on when he crashed his £150,000 customized LUMMA CLR SV Range Rover Sport.

The 31-year-old was fortunate to walk away from the crash unhurt – but the same cannot be said of his LUMMA CLR SV Range Rover Sport SUV.

The gun-metal grey British-made Range Rover Sport Utility Vehicle suffered serious damage to the front-right wheel.

Aguero later posted a photo of his damaged Range Rover SUV on Instagram and said:

“What a great morning”

The £250k-a-week (₦117 million) City ace still have a Lamborghini Aventador to drive around Manchester.

The 218mph Lamborghini is Aguero’s fastest car. It can hit 0-60mph in just 2.9 seconds

Aguero also has luxury rides like custom-wrapped Nissan GT-R and a Ferrari GTC4 Lusso supercar in his fleet.

This is not the first time that Aguero has been involved in a car crash.

Two years ago, the Argentine star suffered broken ribs after the taxi he was travelling in crashed into a lamppost in Amsterdam.

While initial reports suggested that the Manchester City star would miss up to six weeks, Aguero returned to action two weeks after the accident.

Sergio Aguero will be available for selection when City travel to Selhurst Park to face Crystal Palace on Saturday.

He has nine goals and two assists in eight matches in all competitions for City this term.

Man City needs their talisman as Pep Guardiola’s side look to keep up with rampant league leaders Liverpool.

Top 5 Greatest Players In The History Of Football

The long football history has seen the growth of many talented players from all countries over the world. As a result, if you ask a random person who is the best footballer of all time, you will get a large number of different answers.

Therefore, we have created a list of the five best players based on their ability, technique, and contribution to their teams without any bias.
The best football players checklist (until 2019)

5. Lionel Messi 

Although Messi still has a few years left in his top-notch age, his rank in the temple of legends has been already ensured.

This Argentine player has been awarded 5 Ballon d’Or and scored the highest number of goals in Europe in different five years. During his 14-year career in Barcelona FC, he has scored around 600 goals and 50 hat-tricks – these are really respectable numbers! Particularly in 2012, Messi made a record of scoring over 90 goals.

As a devoted one-club man, Lionel has carried remarkable titles to Barcelona, such as nine league titles, six Copa del Reys, and four Champions League.

In 2009, he was the right-hand man of Pep Guardiola to win the treble and, adopting the “Tiki-Taka” playstyle. Since Pep retired, Barcelona is less overwhelming, and depend more on Messi. However, he is still proving his limitless ability to carry the whole team.

4. Johan Cruyff

As a visionary footballer and later a coach, Johan Cruyff used the “Total Football” by Rinus Michel very successfully at Ajax. He brought about six league championships to the Dutch team from 1966 to 1973 in addition to three national cups and three consecutive European Cups.

In 1973, the Dutch superstar moved to Barcelona and helped the club to get the first league heading after 14 years and later the first European Cup ever. Plus, he gave them a unique identity as well as playstyle that helped the club make itself among the top European teams, too.

More importantly, he created the outline for the short and swift attacking football style, a.k.a “tiki-taka,” which is still the brand of the team from Catalan up to now.

During that tournament, Johann also introduced the famous move “The Cruyff Turn” to the world, which is still bearing his name.

As a robust and distinguished man, upon his death in 2016, people mourned Cruyff not only as a footballer but also as a manager who spent his life beautifying football.

3. Diego Maradona

Diego Maradona World Cup 1982

Known as the superb club football player in European countries, Diego Maradona was a tiny genius with mastery dribbling ability as well as passing skills, along with an excellent vision apart from continuous ball control.

Besides, he also had a low center of gravity and a strong body to surpass several footballers simultaneously and make them chase after him. Perhaps his most well-known goal was the one he netted for Argentina in the quarter-final of World Cup 1986 with England. It was when he accelerated from his team’s half-way line to defeat six other players.

In Britain, Maradona is most remembered with his “Hand of God” goal when he made the ball past by Peter Shilton by hand. Also, in 1983, he came to Barcelona and won the Copa del Rey.

Yet, it was what he did at the Serie A that made him legendary in Italy. Diego, almost by himself, brought them the first-ever Scudetto heading in the season 1986 – 1987, and the second just three years later.

Moreover, he also carried the Italian Cup and the UEFA Cup as the only European honor of Napoli to now.

2. Alfredo Di Stéfano

Regarded as the greatest player ever, Alfredo Di Stéfano must be ranked even above his Argentina fellows – Diego Maradona and Lionel Messi.

Strongly associated with the mighty Real Madrid FC, who won five consecutive European Cups from 1956 to 1960, Di Stéfano had not even joined European football until he was nearly going to enter 30. Unlike other famous footballers, he spent his early career years with the club River Plate in his hometown before going to Colombia to serve Millonarios.

Nevertheless, in spite of his 12 Championships throughout his career in South American, Real Madrid FC was where he became a legend. Only in 11 seasons, apart from the European Cup victories, Alfredo Di Stéfano brought them to win eight league headings as well as the reputable Copa del Rey, netting 308 goals only in 396 appearances for Los Blancos.

He had everything to be the greatest player of all – speed, mobility, trackback skills, strong heading ability, robust shooting power, spot, and pass any obstacles. That’s why people also know him as “The Blond Arrow”.

1. Pelé

As a monument on the pitch, Edson Arantes do Nascimento, or so-called Pelé started to go pro in Santos at the age of 15. Only one year later, Pelé became the top scorer in the national league of Brazil.

At the age of 17, he brought the first major heading to Santos and became a world-class star of the national Brazil team when they lifted their first World Cup.

On returning to Brazil, Pelé helped Santos win five league championships consecutively during the period from 1961 to 1965. Three years later, their sixth championship came up. At that time, they also got two Copa Libertadores and an Intercontinental Cup.

If we count all of his goals in both official and unofficial matches, Pelé had scored well over one thousand goals during his career.

He was good at netting goals with either foot and playing in the air in spite of his poor height. In addition to his magic dribbling ability, Pelé was visionary, mastered ball control, and played balanced yet skillfully.
Final Words

So we have just gone through the list of five greatest players throughout the history of football. However, even though we are not biased and have carefully considered the different elements of each player, this may still be our subjective opinion.

Therefore, please comment with your own opinion and specify why that player is better than a player on our list. Thereby, we can have further discussion.

Chukwu: ‘How I Was Revived In London Hospital Without Surgery; Feel I Can Play Again; Otedola Is Angelic’

Christian Chukwu, MFR, has exclusively revealed to us that he did not pass through the surgeon’s knife last May when he traveled to London, United Kingdom for medical treatment.

Chukwu was flown to London, on May 15, 2019, for treatment following prolonged health challenges with billionaire oil business mogul, Femi Otedola, picking up the $50,000 medical bill.

The former Green Eagles captain and coach has now disclosed that contrary to earlier reports, his ailment did not require surgery and as such, he was not operated upon at the Wellington Hospital London where doctors did not carry out any surgery on him.

“I must say that my treatment or healing started immediately we landed at the (Heathrow) Airport in London,” said the now lively, soft spoken coach nicknamed ‘Chairman’.

“This is because the environment, the atmosphere and everything were something else. You really feel you are in some kind of different place from where you had been all along.

“NFF President, Amaju Pinnick had arranged everything before we arrived and as soon as the airport formalities were over, we were driven to the hospital.”

Chukwu, who during his playing days won the 1977 Africa Cup Winners Cup with Rangers as captain and Africa Cup of Nations in 1980 with then Green Eagles, said things changed at the hospital.

“Before we left Nigeria, the thought was that I was going to London for surgical operation to correct my ailment,” the former Harambee Stars of Kenya and SAFA FC Lebanon coach continued.

“But that was not to be. I was not operated upon. Instead, I was given only injections after several tests.

“The doctors said what they were told as regards my ailment was not actually the case and that it does not require operation. So after like about two days injections, I felt like I could start playing again.

“So, it was injections all through and afterwards, rehabilitation followed.

“You can’t believe it that the doctors recommended that I didn’t need to stay in the hospital bed. In their opinion, the situation didn’t require it and so, it was going to be unnecessarily expensive, like €150 per day.

“An apartment was quickly arranged and I moved in, going from there to the hospital for treatment. For (Femi) Otedola and the NFF President, it was not about money, but my recovery. However, based on the doctor’s recommendation, I had to be taken to a private apartment”.

“Otedola is like an Angel that ‘visited my life in the likeness of man’. I did not know him from Adam. And I believe that he could be a kid when I was still playing.

“And for him to put down his money for my treatment, such a heart of human milk, I cannot describe it. I’m overwhelmed.

“I cannot thank him enough, for him to have put down his $50,000 for my treatment. This is a clear message to everyone, even the younger generation of players to always put the nation first.”

Chukwu continued: “He [Otedola] is a very humble young man, with golden heart. It was when he visited me in London (hospital) that I realized how humble he is.

“When I was told he would be visiting, I was expecting a flamboyant figure of a person, with flowing “Agbada”, but that was not to be the case. Instead, what I saw was one very simple in his dressing, clad in a pair of jean trousers and T-shirt. That simplicity, and mind you, his driver in London is a white man.

“I really wish most of our leaders and wealthy men could emulate him. It was in the course of the visit that he told me that he had also offered to foot the medical bills of another former Nigeria player, Peter Fregene who is currently in India for treatment. This is noble, I must say.”

“He made the public aware of my ill health. He solicited for financial assistance to raise $50,000 to enable me travel to United States of America for treatment. I can’t thank him enough, honestly,” he said.

Aside Otedola and NFF President, Amaju Pinnick, Chukwu picked out Enugu State government led by Rt. Hon. Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi and his childhood club, Rangers, for praises.

“As you can see, do I look like one who receives N500,000 monthly?,” asked the 1985 Golden Eaglets FIFA U16 World Cup winning assistant coach rather rhetorically.

“There is nothing like that, I can assure you. As far as I’m concerned, I see the promise by Amaju during the period before my departure to UK for proper treatment as ‘political’.

“But I would want to state for the records that it [not fulfilling the N.5m monthly salary promise] does not take anything away or belittle the critical role Amaju played during that period and I’m most grateful for all that he did.

“He recommended the hospital in London and it was a World class hospital I must tell you and I would grateful to him for everything.”

Friday, October 18, 2019

Chelsea's Frank Lampard criticises Didier Deschamps over N'Golo Kante injury

Frank Lampard has said that France's handling of N'Golo Kante's groin injury during the international break was "not a laughing matter."

Kante suffered an injury while warming up ahead of France's Euro 2020 qualifier against Iceland last Friday, a game his nation went on to win 1-0, and the midfielder then sat on the bench during France's 1-1 draw with Turkey on Monday. The injury has ruled the 28-year-old out of his club's Premier League match against Newcastle this Saturday.

France manager Didier Deschamps said earlier this month: "Frank rang to ask me not to pick N'Golo for last month's matches. Fine, but sometimes it should go the other way too ... I have two important matches coming up, maybe I should ask him to play Olivier [Giroud] more!"

But Chelsea boss Lampard said on Friday that communication from France's side could have been better.

"We all have our selection problems, but the Kante one was not a laughing matter," Lampard said.

"It was clear that he wasn't fit to play the [Turkey] game and he sat on the bench.

"I think it could have been handled better. It was clear that he wasn't fit.

"Things weren't coming back to us as we expected them to come back. I understand when players are on international duty they're [the nation's] players, but ... I would always try to have open lines of communication with an international manager."

Lampard also said midfielder Mateo Kovacic is in contention to play against Newcastle, with the Croatia international having trained this week.

He added that Ross Barkley is "fine" after the England midfielder picked up a calf issue against Bulgaria this week, and that defender Andreas Christensen will likely be out for another two weeks with a hamstring problem.

Antonio Rudiger is also progressing towards a comeback from injury, according to Lampard.

Summer decisions have harmed United - Ole Gunnar Solskjaer

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has said the Manchester United manager's job is not too big for him, but admits summer decisions have "harmed" his team.

United could end the weekend in the bottom three if they lose to Liverpool on Sunday, but Solskjaer said he believes he can handle the mounting pressure at Old Trafford.

"I've never felt it's too big for me," Solskjaer told a news conference on Friday.

"I'm confident in what we're trying to do and with my staff, I've been so impressed.

"We have a plan and we have made some decisions in the short term that we knew would harm us but in the long term would benefit us, and that's part of the plan.

"Results are always the main thing and we can move forward quicker with results and performances."

Solskjaer said he stands by his decision to let Romelu Lukaku and Alexis Sanchez leave without signing replacements, despite a struggle for goals that has seen United net just five times in their last seven games.

The Norwegian is hopeful of having Anthony Martial back from a thigh injury to ease the problem, but goalkeeper David de Gea remains a doubt after suffering an abductor injury on international duty with Spain.

Paul Pogba, meanwhile, remains sidelined with a foot problem amid fresh speculation of a move to Real Madrid after he was pictured with coach Zinedine Zidane in Dubai.

"Paul is part of our plan," Solskjaer said.

"He's been playing through the pain barrier, but when he came back against Rochdale and Arsenal he wanted to play, but it was too painful. He's on the way back and he's recovering."

Of the photo of the France international and Zidane, he said: "It's a picture and when you play for Manchester United you have pictures taken and there's speculation. I don't have any problem with that at all."

Liverpool can match Manchester City's record of 18 straight Premier League wins with victory over United, although they have only won once at Old Trafford in the last 10 years.

Solskjaer is searching for just his sixth win as permanent manager after a dismal run of form that has contributed to their worst start to a season for 30 years, but the 46-year-old said United can match Jurgen Klopp's table toppers.

"They're doing well in the league, that's for sure," Solskjaer said.

"We're looking forward to this game. I think it's the perfect game for our players, the perfect game for our fans. We've had a tough time, a difficult time lately, but I'm sure we'll give them a good game."