Manchester City 1-2 Manchester United: City outwitted by United on the counter-attack in the first-half

Following a brilliant and much needed win against Tottenham Hotspur, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s Manchester United travelled a short distance to the Etihad to face rivals City in the Manchester Derby.

United were facing a greater challenge than on Wednesday, but Pep Guardiola’s side going to the match had been plagued with varying defensive issues and needed a win as much as if not more so if they were to reduce the gap between themselves and League leaders Liverpool.

City set up in their usual 4-1-4-1, with John Stones and Fernandinho as the centre-backs; Fernandinho has started as a centre-back in every league game he has played this season. Gabriel Jesus started up front and was flanked by Bernardo Silva and Raheem Sterling.

United once again started in a 4-2-3-1 shape, with Jesse Lingard linking midfield and attack. This time however oversaw Luke Shaw and Anthony Martial replace Ashley Young and Mason Greenwood respectively. Daniel James would retain the width on the right side.

United v City 2

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Manchester United 2-1 Tottenham Hotspur: United’s left-side got the better of Spurs’ right

The game that many had been waiting for since Tottenham Hotspur’s appointment of Jose Mourinho. Mourinho came up against his former club and his successor Ole Gunnar Solskjaer as Manchester United looked for their first league win in three matches.

United set-up in a 4-2-3-1 with Ashley Young at left-back. The line-up also saw the return of Scott McTominay in midfield alongside Fred. Mason Greenwood started up front and acted as a foil for Marcus Rashford who started in an inside-left position.

Spurs started with their nominal 4-2-3-1, which had been noted for changing shape in recent games, becoming a 3-2-5. Serge Aurier v Rashford was likely to be a key battle down Spurs’ right, whilst Dele Alli was in-between midfield and attack looking to receive the ball between the lines.

Man Utd v Spurs

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Valencia 2-2 Chelsea: Exciting game with goals and key build-up v press battles

Valencia faced Chelsea in a potentially group table-deciding tie; going into the match, both Chelsea and Valencia as well as Ajax were all tied on 7 points in Group H.

The home side, now managed by Albert Celades following the early season sacking of Marcelino, set up in their expected 4-4-2 but forward Rodrigo had more positional freedom to drop deeper and drift out wide, while Daniel Wass, usually a full-back, being shafted into midfield – although not an unfamiliar position and not for the first time this season. Wass was partnered in the centre with captain Dani Parejo who was expected to pull the strings.

Frank Lampard’s Chelsea on the other hand set up in a 4-3-3 as they have done in Europe so far this season, opting for it over the 4-2-3-1 adopted in the Premier League. Reece James started at right-back, with Cesar Azpilicueta shifting to the left, whilst Andreas Christensen was drafted in at centre-back ahead of Fikayo Tomori.

Valencia v Chelsea

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Flamengo 2-1 River Plate: Comeback in dying minutes turns game on its head

This year’s Copa Libertadores final, contested between Flamengo of Brazil and River Plate of Argentina was a unique one from the outset in that it was decided by one match at a neutral ground rather than over two legs. After dominating for the majority of the match, River Plate succumbed to a comeback from Flamengo in the dying minutes that the game really needed to come to life.

Flamengo are coached by Jorge Jesus. Previously at Benfica and their first European boss since 1950, Jesus has helped Flamengo become highly regarded in Brazil for their possession-based game and intensity without the ball. The side was lined up by the media as a 4-4-2, but was at times arguably much closer to a 4-2-3-1, with an attacking trio in behind a centre-forward. The two full-backs – Rafinha and Filipe Luis were expected to overlap but both being aged 34 brought concerns as to how effective this would be.

Marcelo Gallardo’s an astute tactician and is the most successful coach in River Plate’s history having won 10 titles since his appointment in 2014. River were the holders of the title going into the match and set up in what seemed much like a 4-diamond-2, more notably without the ball. Nicolas De La Cruz was seen as one to watch on the left of midfield prior to kick-off.

Flamengo v River

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Midfielders key to Sheffield United’s rise in the Premier League

Sheffield United’s adaptation to the Premier League has been nothing short of remarkable with majority of the credit going to Chris Wilder. Wilder’s system that was honed the Championship is one of great interest, largely due to the unusual overlapping centre-backs that work in aim to push numbers forward to combine in attack and dominate the final-third.

These centre-backs are also part of a well-organised back line and system that are hard to break down, and although the side don’t tend to dominate possession, they use the ball well when they have it and, in the process, have produced some free-flowing attacks that have led to goals.

And as well as the defenders, the midfield as a collective and the individual roles of each midfielder are key to how United set up both with and without the ball, too. The regularly starting three-man midfield of Oliver Norwood, John Lundstram and John Fleck in the 3-5-2 adopted this season following a 3-4-1-2 helping gain the side promotion offers United both balance and routes to score goals.

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Pulisic in fine form on Chelsea’s left-wing

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The beginning of the season oversaw Christian Pulisic struggle to get into the Chelsea starting XI, with new manager Frank Lampard opting for varying options in wide areas in back three and back four systems.

Pulisic made his first start against Liverpool in the UEFA Super Cup final yet afterwards was for a time in and out of the side, perhaps whilst Lampard tried to figure out the best XI and system.

But after impressing as a substitute in a 0-1 win against Ajax in the Champions League, Pulisic was thrown into the starting XI in the following league game against Burnley. Positioned on the left-side of a 4-2-3-1, Pulisic scored three of Chelsea’s four goals in a 2-4 win.

Pulisic continued this newly found momentum with another goal in Chelsea’s next game against Watford. Ever since, it’s been expected that Pulisic is one of the first names on the team sheet, with the Blues’ last two games – against Ajax and Crystal Palace also displaying the qualities Pulisic offers to this Chelsea side.

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After Daniel James tactic dealt with, United struggled to pose threat against Bournemouth

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Whilst looking for a third consecutive win, Manchester United suffered their fourth defeat of the league season after losing 1-0 to Bournemouth in a game that had its mood set by Bournemouth counter-attacking against a United side that would have perhaps been better off doing that themselves. Instead, United were afforded the majority of possession as the game progressed and struggled to produce end product.

Ironically, it was Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side that had the better start to proceedings, with some sharp passes in behind the defence to meet the runs of Daniel James on the right-wing.

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