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Final showdown: Arsenal vs Everton

Make sure you have a comfortable seat on the sofa on Sunday afternoon (4pm UK time) because that is when the two matches kick-off. Monday’s…

Make sure you have a comfortable seat on the sofa on Sunday afternoon (4pm UK time) because that is when the two matches kick-off. Monday’s fixture saw Arsenal win at Manchester United which was considered to be the tricky banana skin which could have seen the Gunners slip to defeat. Plunging on through an African style thunderstorm, Arsenal proved once again that they can conjure up a result at any time and against any team.

A desperate defeat for Erik Ten Hag but applause for Mikel Arteta and his well-trained superstars. Arsenal’s 27th Premier League win of the season is a club record in a 38 game season.

Against Everton, Arteta’s backline of William Saliba, Gabriel and Thomas Partey will attempt to keep their 12th clean sheet of the season. This will be Arsenal’s sixth win in a row and it is difficult to see back to form Dominic Calvert-Lewin breaking through this defence. Everton are safe being three places above the relegation zone and have little to achieve but Sean Dyche’s teams never give up easily. Arsenal hope to be unchanged for the sixth consecutive game. Fans know that City have one hand on the trophy already but nothing will stop them from trying and in football anything can happen

Manchester City vs West Ham

Get ready City fans because I cannot see De Bruyne, Rodri and co letting the title slip through their fingers. Erling Haaland will again start upfront having scored twice against Tottenham without being particularly influential throughout the game. Rodri is set to rule the middle of the park and Pep Guardiola, who never leaves anything to chance, has worked his players well in training without being too demanding in order to contain Jarrod Bowen, Michail Antonio, Mohammed Kudus and Lucas Paqueta  in a match which see David Moyes taking part in his final game as coach of West Ham. I just cannot see the Hammers defence line of Zouma, Ogbonna, Emerson and Coufal stopping Haaland, Foden, De Bruyne and Silva from running riot with the addition of Doku, Grealish and even defender Gvardiol chipping in with their contributions. Pep Guardiola and his team know that victory will give them an historic fourth title in a row and that is motivation enough for this superb team.

Players in and players out as Spurs strengthen

Tottenham Hotspur are ready to back Ange Postecoglou with an open chequebook for signings in three important positions. Up to seven players could be sold to balance the books and keep within the financial fair play rules. Two wins in the last eight matches have underlined Spurs need for a new striker to replace Harry Kane. In addition the coach wants a new centre-back and midfielder to strengthen the squad. Tottenham have a buy younger players policy who are aggressive, strong and able to control the game in Postecoglou’s high-risk, possession-based football. He has already ear-marked Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg, Emerson Royal, Giovani Lo Celso, Ryan Sessegnon and Bryan Gil to be sold and both Yves Bissouma and Richarlison would be available if suitable offers were made. Richarlison is admired in Saudi Arabia. Bissouma’s promising start to the season has dropped off alarmingly.

Mason Greenwood’s future in the balance

The furore which saw Mason Greenwood departing Old Trafford for a loan period at Spanish club Getafe looks to have died down and two Premier League clubs are interested in signing him. His United contract runs until 2025 but the club can extend it by one year. He has scored ten goals in 31 appearances in La Liga this year. United want £40 million for Greenwood but if they are not offered that amount they could once again loan him to another club. Getafe definitely want to keep him but cannot afford the high loan price United want for next season. Italian giants Juventus are interested and might be able to afford the fees but if that fails the INEOS company owners of United might bring him back to the club despite earlier comments that he could never again play at Old Trafford.

Kalvin Phillips: a good player suffering confidence

I genuinely feel pity for Kalvin Phillips. His career was flowing in an upwardly direction at Leeds, he was in the England national squad and life was perfect. Since then his transfer to Manchester City has been a dismal failure ending in loans away from the Etihad. The latest team to take him, West Ham, suffered with poor performances from Kalvin and he was dropped for England’s matches against Brazil and Belgium. For such a gifted player to suffer a crisis at 28 years of age is disappointing but it is likely City will sell him in the summer unless Pep Guardiola comes up with a brilliant career rescue plan for the midfielder.

Southgate enters United coaching rumours

As the Ten Hag “will he be sacked or won’t he?” saga continues a new name has been circulating at Old Trafford this week. England manager Gareth Southgate has entered the frame.

Southgate’s name has even been discussed in the dressing room by a senior player. Owner Sir James Ratcliffe is a fan of Southgate but he has refused to discuss his intentions in public but weighing heavily in the argument to sack Ten Hag is United’s possible worst ever Premier League finish and they exited the Carabao Cup and the Champions League early on. When I tried to get a response from Southgate he was clearly not intending to comment on possibly landing the United job but stressed that his thoughts are on the upcoming Euros and they are his priority. However, his England contract is up in December and he has already hinted that a return to club management is part of his agenda.

Ipswich Town coach Kieran McKenna is also on the new shortlist. Ex-United and Tottenham 1st team coaching assistant, the Northern Irishman has taken Ipswich up from League 1 to the Premier League in two seasons and he clearly has the potential but perhaps lacking elite level experience but United clearly have him in their sights either for this summer or in the future.

Is Hojilund good enough to lead United?

There is much talk around Manchester this week that whoever is in charge of United next season, is Rasmus Hojlund the man to lead from the front. He has been well supported by Erik Ten Hag who believes he is one of the future stars for the club. Hojlund is only 21 years of age and his performances have ranged from excellent to poor but at the moment there is no one to challenge him for his position. Hojlund lacks what Brentford’s Ivan Toney has in abundance…he finds it difficult to outmuscle and beat centre backs to give himself that extra yard in order to create a goal scoring chance. He has had his moments such as joint top scorer in the Champions League and his six goals in five matches just after Christmas but since then he has scored just once. Fans are suggesting that if United do want to succeed in rebuilding that once great team they need the equivalent of a Ruud van Nistelrooy, Dimitar Berbatov, a Robin Van Persie or an Eric Cantona. Can you honestly say, they claim, that Hojlund is in that class?

 

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