Tranmere Rovers 5/6 to score over 1.5 goals against Southend United in Friday’s League One battle

Competition: League One

Market: Tranmere Rovers to score over 1.5 goals

Odds: 5/6 @ Bet 365

Continuing to embark on a woeful start to the new League One campaign, a struggling Southend will make the trip to Tranmere on Friday night.

Starting with the hosts, putting in a season-best display and picking up a 1-0 win away at play-off contenders Coventry last weekend, Tranmere appear to be finding their feet after dealing with some public off-field issues. Now securing back-to-back victories across all formats and handed the chance to extend their buffer over the drop zone, there is no doubt that Head Coach Micky Mellon will be most impressed by his side’s free-scoring run on home soil. Led by leading marksman Stefan Payne, Tranmere have scored two or more goals in five of their last six matches at Prenton Park and they should be confident of extending that run on Friday night.

As for the visitors, still searching for a new boss and suffering a humiliating 4-1 hammering at home against fellow strugglers AFC Wimbledon last weekend, the mood around Roots Hall feels incredibly low. Already sat seven points adrift of safety and a huge favorite for the drop this season, the Shrimpers have lost their last four matches on the bounce and have continued to show some glaring issues at the back. Along with shipping four goals last time out, the Essex outfit have already conceded 32 League One goals this season, comfortably the worst defensive record in England’s third-tier.

Bet: Tranmere Rovers 5/6 to score over 1.5 goals against Southend United in Friday’s League One battle @ Bet 365

Solskjaer hints at two January signings for Man United

Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer hinted the club could make a couple of signings in January as they look to recover from a difficult start to the season.

United have endured their worst start to a league campaign for 30 years, winning two of eight games to leave themselves languishing in 12th with nine points.

That means they go into Sunday’s Premier League clash with bitter rivals Liverpool 15 points adrift of Jurgen Klopp’s pacesetters, suggesting United might even struggle to finish in the top four.

United spent approximately £140million on the pre-season signings of Harry Maguire, Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Daniel James, though many have argued they are still well short of having a squad deep enough to achieve their goals.

Those suggestions have been exacerbated by United’s numerous injury problems this term and, although Solskjaer does not regret letting Romelu Lukaku and Alexis Sanchez leave, he did confirm the club are looking at potential January reinforcements.

“In one-off games, you think we could’ve had a number of extra players with experience. Alexis and Rom [Lukaku] are goalscorers and good players but, at the moment, we made those decisions and they were the right decisions,” Solskjaer told Sky Sports.

“That’s the only way you’ve got to look at it. All the players here want to give everything for the club and for the shirt – that’s a big thing.

“Every day that they come in training, and every day that they put the shirt on, they’re going to give everything that they have. So, you can’t really say, ‘oh I wish I didn’t do that’.

“We know we haven’t had the results that we wanted, but I wouldn’t have kept the players we sold. It was the right decision.

“We’re looking at one or two new signings. We’re one or two players light, and we’ve said that, but if the right ones are available in January then we might do something. If not, these players will give everything.

“January is a difficult window, anyway, but if there are players available and at the right price, I’m sure we will spend. There might be some experienced players who can come in and help the younger players – that might be worth the money.

“So, it depends on who is available. I’m not going to go down the route of bringing players in on big contracts and big fees if they’re not the right ones for the whole group and for the future.

“The money is there. We’ve been looking at players and we were close to a couple, but it’s not right if you don’t get the right players. The money is there to strengthen in January and in the summer [in 2020].

“We’re planning and we’re looking. We’re refining our targets, but just before the summer transfer window ended, the ready-made players weren’t there. But the resources are there if the right players are available.”

Arsenal enquire about Daniel Podence, renew interest in Lucas Vazquez

Arsenal might be pursuing two wingers in the upcoming transfer window: Olympiacos’s Daniel Podence and Real Madrid’s Lucas Vazquez, reports Mirror, citing sources from the continent.

Olympiacos would reportedly be willing to let go of the 23-year-old for around £21.5million. However, Gunners would not be alone in their attempt to secure the Portuguese winger, as another – undisclosed – Premier League club are also said to be interested in signing him.

Podence, who started at Lisbon’s Sporting at the age of 10, joined Greek Olympiacos in July 2018 on a five-year contract. He famously helped his club come back from Tottenham’s 2-0 lead in the group phase of the Champions League in September, which eventually ended in a 2-2 draw.

Another one of Arsenal’s possible targets is Real Madrid’s Lucas Vazquez, which comes as no surprise as Gunners were already linked with him during the summer transfer window. The 28-year-old has found himself behind teammates Vinicius Junior and Rodrygo this season, and already has several other clubs – including Arsenal, Roma and Bayern Leverkusen – queuing for him. The transfer would cost his future club around £13m.

Big Match Focus: Manchester United v Liverpool (Sunday 16:30 BST)

Liverpool could equal an English top-flight record in grand fashion when their title assault takes them to a wounded Manchester United on Sunday.

The Premier League leaders are sure to target three points knowing victory against their bitter rivals would be the perfect way to level Manchester City’s benchmark of 18 consecutive wins at this level.

Recent trips to Old Trafford have not been particularly profitable but the Red Devils, beaten 1-0 by Newcastle United last time out, look to be little more than a mid-table outfit at present.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s men will not have won a match inside 90 minutes for a month in all competitions by the time the game kicks off, and the expected absence of David de Gea presents a further hurdle.

 

POTENTIAL BREAKTHROUGHS FOR KLOPP AND SALAH

Liverpool have won five Premier League matches at Old Trafford but none under Jurgen Klopp.

The German’s three draws and single defeat in four attempts add up to his longest winless streak in away games against a Premier League opponent.

He might never have a better opportunity to halt the trend.

United are lurching from one bitter blow to another and have laboured in home games against Crystal Palace, Astana, Rochdale and Arsenal this season, losing to the Eagles.

Those subpar showings, coupled with Liverpool’s own outstanding form, will have Klopp’s men supremely confident of delivering victory for their manager.

But with the missed chance of last season’s 0-0 draw still fresh in the memory, there will be pressure on the visitors to take the initiative in attack.

Mohamed Salah, who is recovering from an ankle injury, will hope to be fit as he, like Klopp, has something to prove in this fixture.

Though prolific since his arrival on Merseyside, the Egyptian has failed to either score or assist a single goal in each of his four Premier League appearances against United.

jurgen klopp - cropped

HEAD-TO-HEAD: SCOTT MCTOMINAY V FABINHO

Scott McTominay this week shared insights into his warm relationship with Jose Mourinho, and the Scotland international will hope to make his former manager proud in a key battle.

His opposite number, Fabinho, provides just the kind of shield United’s defence will need if Salah, Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino are to be kept quiet.

Liverpool’s midfield anchor has won 12 tackles this term, five more than McTominay, at a success rate of 60 per cent.

McTominay’s tackle success rate, at 44 per cent, is less impressive and, while the 22-year-old has certainly been one of United’s best performers this season, his numbers lag behind Fabinho’s in several departments.

The Brazilian has created three more scoring chances in 61 fewer minutes on the pitch and his passing accuracy of 87 per cent is comfortably superior to McTominay’s 81 per cent.

Scott McTominay and Fabinho - cropped

FORM GUIDE

Liverpool’s long Premier League winning streak dates back to March and includes away wins over Southampton, Burnley, Chelsea and Sheffield United this season.

James Milner’s last-gasp penalty kept the run alive in a hard-earned 2-1 triumph over Leicester City at Anfield before the international break.

United, meanwhile, are searching for answers following a string of lacklustre performances since outmuscling Chelsea on the opening weekend.

The four goals scored that day hinted at a bright future but United have failed to net more than once in any of their subsequent 10 matches in all competitions.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer

HISTORY SAYS…

Victory will not come easily for Liverpool, who have not travelled to Old Trafford while top of the table since October 1996.

On that occasion, a David Beckham goal gave United a 1-0 win.

Results more recently have been similarly close, with four of the past six Premier League meetings ending level.

Liverpool, the heavy favourites, must snap a five-match winless streak in away games against United in order to preserve their perfect start in the league.

Rumour Has It: Allegri ´very close´ to Man United, but Spurs remain interested

Uncertainty surrounds Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer after a woeful start to the season and he could find himself in danger of dismissal.

United have won only two of their first eight Premier League games of 2019-20 and head into Sunday’s visit of Liverpool 15 points adrift of the pacesetters.

While Solskjaer insists he still has the board’s backing, there have been suggestions the club has identified a replacement.

 

TOP STORY – ALLEGRI ‘VERY CLOSE’ TO UNITED

Former Juventus coach Massimiliano Allegri is said to be a primary target for Manchester United.

Italian publication Tuttosport claims contact with Allegri – who left the Old Lady at the end of last season – has “intensified” in recent days.

They go as far as saying Allegri is “very close to United”, with the contest against Liverpool seemingly crucial.

However, United are not the only club interested in Allegri. Tuttosport also believes Tottenham are keeping tabs on him.

Mauricio Pochettino is another man under pressure following a difficult few months, though the report suggests Spurs will have to make their minds up quickly if they are to gazump United.

 

ROUND-UP

– The Daily Mail believes Solskjaer is relatively safe despite Allegri’s lurking, however. It says United are looking to bolster the squad with six major signings over the next two transfer windows. Among the targets are Mario Mandzukic, Saul Niguez, Moussa Dembele and James Maddison.

Mandzukic‘s wage demands could prevent a move to Old Trafford, however. Despite being 33 and entering the twilight of his career, the Croatian wants to be the club’s fourth highest-paid player, according to the Sun.

Arsenal‘s plan for the future, according to AS, involves persuading Real Madrid to sell Dani Ceballos, a deal that would result in Mesut Ozil being sold.

– Meanwhile, the Daily Mail also claims the Gunners also want to sign highly-rated Athletic Bilbao centre-back Unai Nunez, 22, with Everton set to rival them for the £30million-rated defender.

Paris Saint-Germain are hopeful of securing new deals for Juan Bernat and Marquinhos, L’Equipe believes.

Roma are set to bid farewell to Javier Pastore in January, with the Serie A side telling him he is free to leave, as per Calciomercato. A move to China, Brazil or his native Argentina appears likely.

Hudson-Odoi supports England team stance on racist abuse

Callum Hudson-Odoi has supported the idea of walking off the pitch as a team in response to racist abuse at football grounds.

The Chelsea winger suffered abuse on his first start for the Three Lions in Montenegro last May which he described as “evil” at the time.

The 18-year-old is hoping to force his way into the Gareth Southgate’s Euro 2020 squad as he makes his way back from an Achilles injury suffered last season.

Hudson-Odoi scored twice in a 5-1 win for England’s under-21s against Austria on Tuesday and said he was proud of the solidarity shown by the senior players and coaching staff when questioned about the unsavoury scenes in Bulgaria.

“It’s disgusting to hear or see players getting discriminated against,” he told reporters.

“It’s not right. I say to myself whenever that happens you have to stick together as a team, which the boys did.

“I am really proud to see the boys stick together in those situations where they say they would walk off the pitch. It is right because no player should be treated differently.

“We’re all equal and it’s an equal game, so we have got to stay strong. Hopefully everything will be sorted out properly by UEFA.”

Robertson relishing Old Trafford battle with ´excellent´ compatriot McTominay

Liverpool defender Andy Robertson is relishing Sunday’s battle with Scott McTominay and says his Scotland team-mate has been “excellent” for Manchester United this season.

The international colleagues will come face to face when Liverpool travel to Old Trafford in the Premier League this weekend.

McTominay has started all eight league games of a disappointing campaign for United, who are down in 12th place after winning just two of those matches.

Despite his club’s on-pitch struggles, the 22-year-old has been hailed as a shining light by compatriot Robertson.

“He’s been excellent all season in a United team that has had its critics. I think he’s carried himself very well,” Robertson said, quoted in several British newspapers.

“I’ll be looking forward to facing him on Sunday. Obviously, I hope to come out on top.”

While United have struggled in Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s first full campaign, bitter rivals Liverpool are flying at the top of the table after making a perfect start.

However, the Reds are winless in their last five away league meetings with United – something Robertson is keen to put right.

“I think what makes the fixture so special is that it’s historic,” he said. “There have been such great battles down the years.

“And they’ve always had top teams who have always fought against each other for everything on the pitch.

“It’s always like that. And it’s genuinely a different atmosphere when you play against them. It’s one game that we always look forward to.

“Since I’ve been a Liverpool player, we’ve not managed to get a result at Old Trafford. So hopefully that changes on Sunday.”

Danilo back in Juventus training ahead of Bologna match

Danilo has returned to full training with Juventus after recovering from a thigh injury

The 28-year-old, who joined from Manchester City in August, was forced off during the 2-1 win at Brescia on September 24.

However, the club announced Danilo took part in Wednesday’s session at Juventus Training Centre. He may now be involved in Saturday’s home league clash with Bologna.

Aaron Ramsey, who missed Wales’ Euro 2020 qualifiers against Slovakia and Croatia because of a slight muscle injury, also took part in light training.

Right-back Mattia De Sciglio and winger Douglas Costa are on personalised training programmes, Juventus announced on their website, while Rodrigo Bentancur and Miralem Pjanic were granted an extra day off following their international exertions.

Juventus are top of Serie A after making a seven-game unbeaten start to the campaign.

Longstaff to be offered new contract

After the entire summer we have been hearing about Manchester United wanting to sign Sean Longstaff, the player stayed at St James’ Park. Then the rumours started again about his potential move to Old Trafford in the January transfer window, but now it looks like it is Matty Longstaff who is taking the spotlight for once.

Newcastle United are set to offer the youngster a new contract following his debut goal for the Magpies, according to the Daily Mail. To make things even more interesting, the younger of the Longstaff brothers scored that important, match-winning goal against Manchester United and now Newcastle are hoping to tie him down with a new long-term deal.

This deal would run through June 2024, which is a very important move for Newcastle, having in mind that Matty Longstaff’s current deal is set to expire in the summer. It looks like he will be staying in Newcastle, but who knows if Sean will too.

Lanterna rivals want Marko Pjaca

Both Genoa and Sampdoria have started the season pretty badly and now they are going after the same player. After a tough beginning of the campaign, Sampdoria have sacked Eusebio di Francesco and appointed Claudio Ranieri, as they are sitting at the last place in the standings. Genoa are not much better than them, just one place ahead of them and both Genoese clubs want to get out of the relegation zone.

Now it looks like both clubs are after Marko Pjaca. According to Calciomercato, the Derby della Lanterna rivals are chasing a deal with the Juventus player, as the Croatian is currently out of contention. Pjaca is rehabilitating from a surgery and is expected to return to the action in 2020.

Genoa and Sampdoria believe that they could land Pjaca at least on loan, to help them out until the end of the season, but they might not be the only clubs chasing him. Cagliari and Bologna are also interested in the midfielder, who will have no shortage of suitors when he is finally healthy again.