Liverpool 0-0 Manchester United: Player ratings as table topping clash ends goalless

Manchester United remained top of the Premier League table with a 0-0 draw against Liverpool on Sunday, in which the Reds dominated possession but their opponents had the better chances.

Liverpool had the better of the first half, registering 67% possession and firing off nine shots. However, it was United who went closest to opening the scoring with Bruno Fernandes’ whipped free kick inches away from nestling in the back of the net.

It was a similar story after the break. Once again, Liverpool enjoyed far more of the ball, while United would have the best chance. Fernandes was at the centre of things again, prodding a cutback straight at Alisson with 15 minutes left to play.

Soon after, Paul Pogba had the best chance of the match, but the Frenchman could only a power a close ranged effort straight at the Reds’ keeper.

Here are your United and Liverpool player ratings from Anfield…

Anthony Martial, FabinhoAnthony Martial, Fabinho
Fabinho excelled at centre-back | Michael Regan/Getty Images

Alisson (GK) – 8/10 – Swept up United’s through balls well and dealt with all shots that came his way. Two big saves in the final ten minutes were vital.

Trent Alexander-Arnold (RB) – 5/10 – Nowhere near his best display. Looked a little shaky in his defending and his creative influence was minimal.

Fabinho (CB) – 8/10 – Class personified. He picked off Fernandes’ through balls with ease and ensured the United frontline were starved of service.

Jordan Henderson (CB) – 8/10 – An impressive display, particularly considering his limited experience at centre-back.

Andy Robertson (LB) – 7/10 – Burst forward frequently and took up some promising positions. Also defended solidly.

Liverpool won the midfield battle in the first halfLiverpool won the midfield battle in the first half
Liverpool won the midfield battle in the first half | Pool/Getty Images

Georginio Wijnaldum (CM) – 6/10 – Instigated some intricate triangles on the edge of the box. Sometimes guilty of loose passes.

Thiago Alcantara (CM) – 7/10 – Ran the game in the first half, looking a cut above every other player on the pitch. Forced a save from De Gea with a long range effort late on.

Xherdan Shaqiri (CM) – 6/10 – His inclusion raised eyebrows but he did okay. Showed good industry early on but faded after the break.

Mohamed Salah, Luke ShawMohamed Salah, Luke Shaw
Shaw had the better of Salah throughout | Michael Regan/Getty Images

Mohamed Salah (RW) – 5/10 – Wasteful before the break, losing possession six times. Also guilting of panicking when presented with a scoring chance.

Roberto Firmino (ST) – 4/10 – A few poor misses in the first half. Does not seem to be clicking with Salah and Mane at the moment.

Sadio Mane (LW) – 5/10 – He had a quiet game, mainly thanks to Wan-Bissaka’s solid marking. Only fired off one shot.

Curtis Jones – 6/10 – Little influence after coming on.

Divock Origi – 6/10 – As above.

James Milner – N/A

David De GeaDavid De Gea
De Gea was rarely called into action, despite Liverpool’s dominance | Michael Regan/Getty Images

David de Gea (GK) – 7/10 – Was not required to make too many saves. Did his job with minimal fuss when called upon.

Aaron Wan-Bissaka (RB) – 8/10 – Defended very well, limiting Mane’s influence. Registered four tackles and also covered well.

Victor Lindelof (CB) – 7/10 – His lack of pace was rarely exposed. Made one excellent interception in the box late on.

Harry Maguire (CB) – 7/10 – A few shaky moments when he was isolated with Salah out wide. Largely though, he did well.

Luke Shaw (LB) – 7/10 – Dealt with Salah’s threat fairly comfortably. Zero attacking contribution but then again, that was never going to be his role.

Bruno FernandesBruno Fernandes
Fernandes nearly converted a free kick early on | Michael Regan/Getty Images

Scott McTominay (CM) – 5/10 – Chased shadows in the first half with Liverpool’s quick combinations proving too much for him to handle.

Fred (CM) – 6/10 – Fared better than his midfield partner. His clever exchange led to United’s first chance of the game and he limited Liverpool better in the second half.

Bruno Fernandes (AM) – 7/10 – Come closest to scoring with a first half free kick. Perhaps could have done more defensively in the first half.

Paul PogbaPaul Pogba
Pogba had the best chance of the game in the final minutes | Pool/Getty Images

Paul Pogba (RW) – 5/10 – Despite his recent upturn in form, he struggled. Forced his passes and often dribbled his way down a dead end. Spurned a great chance in the dying minutes.

Marcus Rashford (ST) – 4/10 – Timing of his runs was horrific. Overall, he was caught offside on five occasions. Decision making was also poor.

Anthony Martial (LW) – 5/10 – A frustrating afternoon. Barely involved before being substituted after an hour.

Edinson Cavani – 6/10 – Won a free kick in a dangerous area minutes after coming on.

Mason Greenwood – N/A


Arsenal issue injury updates on Kieran Tierney, Gabriel Martinelli and Pablo Mari

Arsenal have confirmed Gabriel Martinelli and Kieran Tierney are back in contention to feature against Newcastle on Monday evening.

Tierney had been a near ever-present for the Gunners this season, missing just one league game before he was forced to sit out the 0-0 draw against Crystal Palace during the week.

Martinelli, meanwhile, has been out since he was forced off against Manchester City in the Carabao Cup.

There was concern with both players, given each have a history of long-term injuries, but the club have confirmed both players are recovering well. The Brazilian is is back to full fitness, while a decision is yet to be made on Tierney.

A club statement reads: “Gabriel Martinelli – Right ankle. Now back in full training and is available for selection.

“Kieran Tierney – Right calf. Kieran has recovered from his tight calf and is back in training with the squad. Kieran will be assessed and tested ahead of Monday’s match.”

As for defender Pablo Mari, he was also absent against Palace after returning from the cold to start their previous three league matches. The summer arrival from Flamengo is nursing a calf injury, but seems doubtful to return in time to face Newcastle on Monday.

On Mari, the statement reads: “Pablo Mari – Right calf. Pablo has sustained a mild strain to his calf and will continue to rehabilitate in the coming days.”

Arsenal go into Monday evening’s clash high on form. Their 0-0 draw with Palace was their third straight clean sheet in the Premier League, while they have taken ten points from the last 12 available, as they look to recover from an abysmal start to the season.

A win on Monday would put them to within five points of the top six, which would have been the minimum expectation set out by Mikel Arteta at the start of the season.


Would Eddie Howe be a good fit for Celtic?

As everything else crumbles around them, the prospect of a new manager arriving in the summer is a small light at the end of the tunnel for Celtic.

The fact that Neil Lennon is still in a job is nigh on miraculous, but even miracles have their limits, and after this season is over and done with, the Irishman will surely be disposed of.

This campaign has been a disaster of epic proportions, and the scars of it will be felt decades down the line. They were within a season of immortality, but we’re halfway through January and it has all gone to hell.

But while the task of picking up the pieces isn’t an enviable one, it still has its pull. Way out at the front of the queue, if reports are to be believed, is former Bournemouth boss Eddie Howe.

This time a year ago, the idea that Howe could ever be managing in Scotland would have seemed fanciful at best. Even after he was dismissed by Bournemouth in the summer, it was thought he could take his pick of Premier League jobs. But over time, his stock has cooled, and a move to Parkhead for the former EFL Manager of the Decade is seeming like a more and more realistic prospect.

Of the two big questions that remain over his viability, one of them is fairly easy to answer.

Would be be interested? Of course he would.

Mark Burchill, who worked under Howe at Bournemouth, basically said as much, and the reasons for that are obvious. A massive club, in need of a top-to-bottom rebuild, with the platform to get him back to where he wants to be. Howe isn’t arrogant enough to rule out Celtic before giving it some serious thought.

The other question, though, isn’t as cut and dry.

Would he be a good fit? Well…

At face value, sure. He ticks most of the boxes. An exciting, young manager? Check. Track record of building from the ground up? Check. Long-term appointment? Check. Not Neil Lennon? Check, check, check and check.

None of that, though, guarantees success. For while Howe is a high calibre coach with credentials that frame him as something of a no-brainer, managing on either side of the Old Firm divide is like almost nothing else in football.

Par for the course of managing Celtic is handling pressure. It doesn’t matter how well you’re doing, you are only ever a bad result or two away from being put under the microscope. That’s why good managers, such as Ronny Deila, have failed, while inexperienced coaches with the right mentality – such as Steven Gerrard – have hit the ground running.

Gerrard is on track for his first trophy as managerGerrard is on track for his first trophy as manager
Gerrard is on track for his first trophy as manager | Ian MacNicol/Getty Images

There is a big question mark over Howe, fresh off a year out of work having walked away from a job so safe that even relegation didn’t prompt the board to sack him.

He had earned that, of course, by single-handedly taking Bournemouth from League One to the Premier League and keeping them there. He’d need to quickly learn how to operate without that security: something he may relish, but may not be prepared for.

He would need to prove, and prove fast, that he can adapt to winning trophies on a regular basis. And that’s far more difficult than it looks…even at Celtic.

Yet just because he hasn’t proven he has the cutthroat mentality for the top job at Parkhead doesn’t mean he lacks it. Brendan Rodgers was a screaming success despite having never won a trophy prior to his move to Glasgow, and you could argue that sustained silverware at Bournemouth was never in question.

Howe may have something within him that only a job like Celtic could unlock.

On balance, then, many would advise them that it’s a risk worth taking. But it’s down to the Parkhead board to make the call.

Get it wrong? They’re back where they started a year down the line, while Rangers continue to pull away.

Get it right? Well, 2021/22 could be the most memorable season of the SPFL era.


Fernando Torres is coaching Diego Simeone’s other son in Atletico Madrid B

Club legend Fernando Torres has moved up the coaching ranks at Atletico Madrid, having re-joined the club last year.

Torres came home Atleti in September 2020 after retiring from playing in Japan with Sagan Tosu the year prior.

The World Cup winner completed his Pro coaching licence with the Spanish Football Federation during the summer, alongside former Spain teammate Alvaro Arbeloa.

Fernando Torres, Isaac CuencaFernando Torres, Isaac Cuenca
Torres during his spell at Sagan Tosu | Masashi Hara/Getty Images

With the plan to get his first coaching experience, Torres started working under Ricky Alonso in Atleti’s academy. However, according to Marca, he has already moved up to work with the B side from this week.

Marca notes that Atletico have been ‘amazed’ by Torres’ impact on the training pitch.

Torres knows Atletico’s academy well, having come through the same system back at the turn of the century.

Fernando TorresFernando Torres
Torres was a fan favourite at Liverpool before a £50m to Chelsea | Alex Livesey/Getty Images

After graduating to the first team at the old Vicente Calderon, Torres scored 91 times in 244 appearances before a £20m move to Liverpool in 2007.

After further spells with Chelsea and Milan, Torres returned to Atleti in 2014/15, scoring 38 more times in a further 160 appearances during his second stint. He also helped his boyhood club to the 2018 Europa League.

Torres faces a particularly important challenge as a coach in the B team, as he will be tasked with developing the youngest son of first team manager Diego Simeone: Giuliano Simeone.

Diego Simeone, Giuliano Simeone, Gianluca SimeoneDiego Simeone, Giuliano Simeone, Gianluca Simeone
Simeone with his sons back in 2018 | Quality Sport Images/Getty Images

The 18-year-old scored on his Atletico B debut in Sunday 1-1 draw with Poblense with a poacher’s effort just seconds into the second half.

The young striker signed his first pro contract with the club back in September and could have a bright future under the guidance of Torres… and his dad, of course.

All three of Simeone’s sons are forwards despite the manager himself playing much deeper in midfield during his own playing career.

Oldest child Giovani (25) plays for Cagliari in Serie A, while Gianluca (22) is at UD Ibiza Islas Pitiusas in Spain’s lower tiers.


Mesut Ozil confirms imminent Fenerbahce transfer & reveals squad number

Arsenal midfielder Mesut Ozil has confirmed that he is soon set to travel to Turkey to seal a move to Fenerbahce.

The Gunners have reached an agreement to terminate Ozil’s contract six months earlier than scheduled, with Mikel Arteta keen to offload the exiled midfielder and his enormous wage packet.

Mesut OzilMesut Ozil
Ozil has been completely exiled at Arsenal | Chloe Knott – Danehouse/Getty Images

A move to Fenerbahce has long been seen as the most likely route away from the Emirates Stadium for Ozil, who has been flirting with the Turkish side on Twitter ever since news of his imminent move away from Arsenal came to light, and he has now confirmed the move on Turkish TV.

“I am so happy,” he told NTV. “I’m a Fenerbahce fan. God wanted me to play football in Fenerbahce. I’m proud.

“I am coming tonight with my family to Istanbul, thank God who gave me the opportunity to represent this club. I will wear the shirt with pride.”

Mesut OzilMesut Ozil
Ozil will be in Turkey on Monday | Harriet Lander/Copa/Getty Images

Ozil is due in Istanbul shortly after midnight on Monday morning, when he will travel to Fenerbahce for a medical and put pen to paper on a contract which has already been agreed in principle with the German’s represenatives.

Earlier on Sunday, Ozil took to Twitter to post the number ’67’, which is believed to be a reference to the shirt number he has chosen. According to Fanatik, he has gone with 67 because that is the beginning of the postcode of his hometown of Zonguldak.

It now seems like just a matter of time before Ozil’s turbulent spell with Arsenal comes to a close. The highest-paid player in club history has not turned out for Mikel Arteta’s side since March 2020, with the club’s official line always being that the German is dealing with a back injury.

Ozil is now set to leave the Emirates with a total of 254 appearances for Arsenal under his belt, in which he bagged 44 goals and 77 assists to earn himself a reputation as one of the Premier League’s most mesmeric creators.

Concerns about Ozil’s work rate have dominated headlines for months and have only been amplified by his high wages, but Arsenal now appear set to confirm his departure and bring an end to all the off-field drama.

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