Matic to Man Utd: Should Chelsea be selling him?

Matic to Man Utd: The Serbian midfielder is close to a reunion with Jose Mourinho, but are Chelsea making the right decision to sell him to Premier League title rivals?

Matic to Man Utd: Pro’s for Chelsea

The reported fee for Matic to Man Utd is £40m. A similar amount to what Chelsea have paid for Tiemoue Bakayoko, meaning the Blues would break even in terms of transfer spend.

Antonio Conte is stamping his mark on his squad for the new season. He is signing the players he wants and allowing those he doesn’t want to leave the club. So if he is able to do so while balancing the books, he’ll be even happier.

Matic to Man Utd: Con’s for Chelsea

Chelsea are losing an established midfielder. At 28 Matic is in his prime with plenty still to offer. He’s also won two Premier League titles with Chelsea over the past three seasons.

Matic’s replacement is unproven in the Premier League. Bakayoko may need time to adapt to his new surroundings and has far less experience.

Chelsea’s squad depth will be tested unless they sign more midfielders. Conte has already allowed Ruben Loftus-Cheek and Nathaniel Chalobah to depart the club. With the demand of more games this season compared to last, Chelsea are going to need to ensure their squad can handle the busy schedule.

Matic to Man Utd: Pro’s & Con’s for United

Signing Matic will work for United. He is a grafter and will free up the likes of Paul Pogba to have more of an impact on the game in the final third.

Matic registered seven assists for Chelsea in the Premier League last season, more than any other Manchester United player. This shows his creative edge even though his main job is to provide extra cover for the defence. Plus, Mourinho knows Matic well. The Serbian has played a total of 90 games under the Portuguese head coach in the past.

However, another midfielder gives Mourinho a selection dilemma. He has at least four players who can play in a similar role. So adding Matic to the squad could lead to some discontent among those vying for a place in the starting lineup.

Photos of Matic in Man Utd training wear have appeared online over the weekend, suggesting a deal is all but done. Although the legitimacy of these is yet to be stated, it certainly looks like Matic has played his final game for Chelsea.

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Should Mourinho be looking to replace Martial with this £40m Premier League champion?

Jose Mourinho will no doubt ring the changes at Manchester United this summer. His first season in charge has been steadily improving but he needs to bring more quality to the squad in order to compete for the title in 2017/18.

One man who has struggled more than most under the Portuguese manager is Anthony Martial. He’s struggled to make much of an impact throughout the current campaign and while he is still young, he has offered little to show Mourinho that he is the best winger for United next season. Fans and pundits alike know Mourinho is ruthless and if he sees the potential to cash in on an underperforming player, he’ll do it.

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Jesse Lingard has been included in the matchday squad more times than the Frenchman – 38 times to 36 – and considering the money spent to bring him to the club, that is a worrying statistic for Martial.

A potential replacement for the former Monaco man could be Chelsea’s Willian. The Brazilian has seen his game time limited this season at Stamford Bridge and has found himself second choice to the in-form Pedro. Mourinho is a huge fan of Willian and would no doubt love to sign him for United.

The 28 year old won the Premier League with Mourinho at Chelsea and would be an ideal fit for United. He is a set-piece specialist and would offer the Red Devils more than their current options for free-kick and corner duties.

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Willian’s is currently valued at just below £30 million by transfermarkt and United would have to pay a little over the odds for him from a rival club. An offer of £40m should be enough to secure his services if Mourinho can persuade him to leave and Chelsea to sell in the coming months.

Would Willian be an ideal fit for United? Is he a better option than Martial?

Mourinho should be doing all he can to persuade one of these strikers to be his number 9 next season

Manchester United will have no doubt starting looking into replacements for their number nine spot. Zlatan Ibrahimovic has taken the Premier League by storm but the Swede is yet to sign a contract extension and at 35 he is not a long-term option. Jose Mourinho will be assessing options to replace Ibrahimovic whether that is this summer or in transfer windows to come, so he should be doing all he can to persuade any of these elite goal-machines to sign for United…

Antoine Griezmann

Easily one of the most sought after strikers in Europe, Antoine Griezmann would walk into practically any elite side. Atletico Madrid manager Diego Simeone has admitted there is uncertainty in the prolific Frenchman’s future at the club and wouldn’t stand in his way if he decided he wanted to move on. The 26-year-old striker has constantly been linked with United and he would be joining up with fellow internationals Paul Pogba and Anthony Martial if he were to make the switch to Manchester. He has netted 22 goals this season and is only going to get better.

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Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang

The Gabon speed-demon has been causing havoc in the Bundesliga this season. He has averaged a goal a game and suits a number of systems. While hold-up play isn’t his game he is capable in the air but his main threat is pace on the counter. When Aubameyang gets going there is no stopping him and he is consistently providing in both domestic and European competitions.

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Alexandre Lacazette

Another Frenchman Mourinho should be looking at is Alexandre Lacazette. The Lyon striker possesses both pace and power in his approach as well as the ability to sniff out a goalscoring chance. He has netted 29 goals in 35 appearances in all competitions this season and is another forward being tipped for a big move in Europe. A transfer to any of the top six Premier League sides would be tempting for Lacazette considering much of an influence the competition has on players.

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Should United make any of these three their number nine for next season? Does Mourinho need to sign more than one forward in the summer?

Have Manchester United gone backwards under Mourinho?

Manchester United’s season has been filled with ups and downs so far. Jose Mourinho’s side are trailing the top four by six points but do have two games in hand. As we know, they have already won the League Cup and remain on course to reach the quarter-finals of the Europa League but their exit from the FA Cup to Chelsea crushed their hopes of a cup treble. Many United fans remain happy with the appointment of Mourinho but have they gone backwards since he took over last summer?

By comparing how they performed last season under Louis Van Gaal it is clear to see there have been a huge number of changes at United and with plenty of games still to come, their 2016/17 campaign still has a lot to unveil.

Premier League

Last season United missed out on the top four on goal difference. Although they qualified for Europe it wasn’t for the competition they were hoping for. They are 17 points off their total tally of 66 reached in the 2015/16 campaign but they do have 12 games left in the league, a possible 36 points to play for. If United were to win every game to the end of the season they could even be within a chance of winning the league, but the reality is their form has been too inconsistent, hence why they’ve been outside the top four for so long.

The Premier League has been fiercely competitive again this season and the race for a Champions League finish is being hotly contested by six teams. United have spent nearly £160 million since Mourinho took the job and he needs to improve on last year’s 5th-placed finish but at this stage of the season that is up in the air.

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FA Cup

The Red Devils won the FA Cup last season. Although cup competitions are luck of the draw, United will be disappointed not to have reached the semi-finals and another trip to Wembley. While it is very difficult to consistently win domestic cups, by not reaching the next round Man Utd have failed to equal their performance levels of last year’s FA Cup run.

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Europe

United are on course to reach the quarter-finals of the Europa League. Realistically this may be their best chance of qualifying for the Champions League next season and Mourinho will be aware he has two chances to get the club back in the mix with Europe’s elite. If United are to win this competition, that and the League Cup would be an obvious sign of progression at the club.

They can better last season’s performance in Europe, where they failed to make it out of their UCL group and were knocked out in the round of 16 in the Europa League.

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League Cup

Mourinho’s record in the competition speaks for itself. While it may be United’s only competitive silverware this season, it’s still a trophy worth winning. By comparison, there is a good chance that this trophy alone will see United end the season with more silverware than a number of their rivals and they improved on their League Cup performance from last season where they exited the competition in the fourth round.

There is still a huge amount of work for Mourinho to do at United to get the club back to the highest level and if he were to win the Europa League as well as a domestic cup that is undoubtedly a successful season. However, United will be at a standstill if they are to miss out on qualification for the Champions League again, with a single EFL Cup win a poor return for a team boasting that much quality under Mourinho’s leadership.

Is Mourinho making progress at Manchester United or are they going backwards?

United vs City: Are the Manchester clubs set for failure this season?

It’s no secret both Manchester Untied and Manchester City are not living up to the high expectations set by the fans, pundits and club in general so far this season. Both sides are currently outside the top four more than halfway through the domestic campaign, which is no where near where they expect to be, so are the two set for failure this season? Lewis Addley explores… 

Ten games into the Pep Guardiola era at Manchester City things were looking like a foregone conclusion for the season ahead. The former Barcelona and Bayern Munich boss looked to have bought his style of play to England with success, winning ten games on the bounce, but fast-forward to January and City are struggling in 5th place.

Things are not much different domestically for Jose Mourinho at Manchester United either. The Red Devils remain outside the top four and look a long way behind league-leading Chelsea.

Both clubs have reached the knockout stage in Europe, City in the Champions League and United in the Europa League, which surely will be the focus of their seasons respectively come the return of the competitions in a few weeks. United are on the brink of reaching the final of the League Cup, but that alone will not be enough to reduce the pressure on Mourinho, with more always expected of the Manchester giants.

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So are both of these clubs set for failure?

In a word, no. There are plenty of games for the league table to continue to change. But the competition for the top four is so intense that it is difficult, with current form in mind, to think both sides will make the cut. United had just began to pick up form but their consecutive draws suggest they’re still one step away from troubling the sides above them on a consistent basis.

City on the other hand seem to have no league form whatsoever, they’re fast becoming a side who look beatable from the off and Pep is going to have to change something. They’ve gone from having a powerful, tight backline to a nervy outfit who look like they will concede with every shot, something Claudio Bravo is picking up an unwanted affiliation for, having conceded the last six efforts on goal he has faced.

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As previously mentioned United are on track to reach the League Cup final but given the current nature of expectancy, that trophy alone is not enough for a title-chasing side. Both Manchester clubs are still challenging in the FA Cup, a tournament they are going to need to reach the latter stages in at least, such as the regard winning it is held in.

European action offers contrasting situations, City face PSG in the Champions League, while United drew Saint-Étienne in the Europa League. City’s performance last year was their best effort to date in the competition and given the strength of the sides they can pull in the latter rounds if they are to progress, winning it would be some feat, although not impossible given the quality of players available to Guardiola. 

United’s progression in the Europa League wouldn’t be something Mourinho is bothered by, if you’re to believe his stance on the competition, however winning it would guarantee them a place in the Champions League next season regardless of their league finish. With that in mind United have to take it seriously, no doubt they will.

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There is no doubt both Manchester clubs have the ability to win some silverware this season between them, but domestically it isn’t looking overly promising. With track-record in mind, many have been surprised with the struggles the two have endured in their first season. In the modern game transitional periods are becoming less and less acceptable, especially considering the amount of money that’s being spent on transfers. Perhaps not the first season of the Mourinho and Guardiola era their fans would have had high hopes for?

Is it too early for the word failure to be thrown around or have Mourinho and Guardiola not lived up to expectation so far? 

Premier League Preview and Prediction: Manchester United vs Tottenham Hotspur

Competition: Premier League – Manchester United vs. Tottenham Hotspur

Venue: Old Trafford – Sunday, December 11 – 14:15 GMT (09:15 ET)

Match Odds: Manchester United 6/5 – Draw 23/10 – Spurs 23/10

Match Preview

Manchester United welcome Tottenham Hotspur to Old Trafford on Sunday in the standout fixture of the Premier League action this weekend.

United know they’ve got a game on their hands with the visit of Spurs, this meeting usually offers an exciting tie, but given recent league form for United a draw would be far from surprising.

Jose Mourinho’s side are frustrating their fans. They’re creating well in games but are missing hatfuls of chances and aren’t strong enough defensively to hold out when they take the lead.

Despite the negatives, United are unbeaten in five in the league (W1, D4). Their draw last weekend at Everton was a disappointing result considering they looked to have the points wrapped up, but it’s another game unbeaten nonetheless.

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Tottenham will be full of confidence coming into this game. They thumped Swansea 5-0 at home last weekend and it could and probably should have been nearer double figures.

Mauricio Pochettino’s men are six points ahead of United in the league. They sit 5th, three points outside the top four and six points off top spot, they’re well in the mix.

Spurs need to win this game to keep pace with the top four. If results go in their favour they could end the weekend in third place.

The North London side have lost just once in their last 14 outings. They’re in fine form and are scoring freely, so they have to start with their usual high-press and intensity to put United on the back-foot from the word go.

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Team News

Manchester united are still expecting to be without Chris Smalling and Luke Shaw for this tie. Eric Bailly could be in line to start his first Premier League game in six weeks, he played 90 minutes in the Europa League in midweek. Wayne Rooney is available again after serving his one-match suspension.

Tottenham have just three injury concerns ahead of this tie. Erik Lamela and Vincent Janssen are both expected to remain out, while Ben Davies is a doubt. Toby Alderweireld could make his first Premier League start since October 15 after he featured in the Champions League on Wednesday.

Key Points

Manchester United’s last five: D/W/D/D/D

Tottenham’s last five: D/D/W/L/W

Key Stat: Manchester United have won just once in their last nine Premier League games.

Key Player: Harry Kane – The Spurs talisman is in fine form. He has netted seven league goals this season and will be excited at the prospect of getting at a nervy United defence. He will have to outshine Zlatan Ibrahimovic to ensure Spurs take all three points here.

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Score Prediction

Manchester United 1-2 Tottenham Hotspur – United to fall to another unfavourable result against one of the top sides in the league. Spurs know they have the chance of taking all three points at Old Trafford, but just because United are out of form by no means makes this an easy tie.

Three players Mourinho needs to drop at Manchester United

Jose Mourinho’s start to life as Manchester United manager has not been as smooth as he would have hoped. While this is not a time to press the panic button, it was apparent his side were lacklustre and out of ideas in the 4-0 loss at Chelsea. Lewis Addley explores some potential changes he can make to freshen things up and stop his side from carrying passengers…

Being coached by Mourinho is something a whole host of the world’s best players have enjoyed since he put his name on the map as Porto manager 14 years ago, but the same cannot be said at this moment in time, as his ongoing struggles at Manchester United are not improving.

Mourinho admitted himself that life in Manchester has been difficult to adapt to and his time away from football is something he is not familiar to, living in a hotel and separate from his family.

While United are only six points off the top of the Premier League table in what already looks set to be the most competitive season ever, there is plenty of work to do to get the 20-time champions firing again.

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A number of Mourinho’s marquee summer signings haven’t yet clicked into place and the squad appear to be disjointed and out of ideas, even more so apparent after going 1-0 down to Chelsea without touching the ball on Sunday.

Mourinho has a squad full of talented players and just three changes could potentially make a difference in terms of unpredictability, solidity and energy.

So let’s have a look at those three potential changes…

Forward play: 

Regardless of how many career titles and goals he has to his name, Zlatan Ibrahimovic has struggled in his last few appearances. He started the season well, scoring four goals in his first four games, but the big Swede needs a rest. He clearly has the ability to cause havoc to any opposition defence, but he seems to be getting lost and committing more fouls than creating chances.

He will be the last thing defenders want to see if Mourinho gives the 35-year-old legend a rest and brings him into a couple of games on the bounce with half an hour to go after some of his younger, more energetic teammates have worn down the opposition.

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Verdict: Rest Ibrahimovic and play Rashford in his natural position as a striker. The Englishman will bring in more energy and pace to the attack, leaving the option for Ibra to swoop in for the kill later in the game.

In the middle: 

Everybody knows Mourinho loves a holding midfielder to dominate games with strength and the ability to break up play. But at the moment, the United midfield as a whole have failed to get to grips with fast-paced games, and they’re not being streetwise enough to stop counter attacks as well as creating moves of their own.

Mourinho should look at pulling Marouane Fellaini out of the side. Yes, the big man can cause chaos in the box offensively, but he isn’t doing it. Fellaini has features of his game that make for a player who can have an influence, but he is not a controlling midfielder, he doesn’t dominate games and doesn’t bring an atmosphere of calm to the side.

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Verdict: Drop Fellaini for Michael Carrick or Bastian Schweinsteiger. Mourinho won’t want to backtrack on his decision to ostracise Schweinsteiger from the squad but these two players have unparalleled experience compared to their teammates and can instil a sense of calm to any top-class midfield.

The world’s most expensive player:

An awful lot has been made of Paul Pogba’s slow start to life back in Manchester and it is so obvious he needs some help. While he may be the most expensive player in the world, the Frenchman didn’t ask for that price tag and it is weighing him down. The pressure becomes more intense in each game he underperforms.

Pogba will clearly become a great, he has the talent, personality and is likeable, but he needs a bit of time out of the side to find his feet again. His confidence has been rocked and now is the time for Mourinho to offer him support, like he has done down the years with key players everywhere he has been.

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Verdict: Make Pogba work for this place by pulling him from the starting XI, get an arm around him to make him feel valued and under less pressure. Bring Juan Mata back in, he has plenty of Premier League experience and the creative edge to his game Pogba hasn’t yet shown.

There is work to be done at United, but if they can get on a run of form they will soon silence their critics and despite some poor results, they can close the gap on the title chasing pack.

Should Mourinho make these changes at United? Who do you think should be recalled to the starting XI?

Premier League Preview and Prediction: Watford vs Manchester United

Competition: Premier League – Watford FC Vs. Manchester United

Venue: Vicarage Road – Sunday, Septemer 18 – 12:00 BST (07:00 ET)

Match Odds: Watford 5/1 – Draw 3/1 – Manchester United 8/15

Match Preview

Watford welcome Manchester United to Vicarage Road in the first game of an action packed round of Premier League fixtures this Sunday.

The Hornets picked up their first win of the season last weekend as they came from 2-0 down to beat West Ham 4-2.

Walter Mazzarri will be delighted with how his side responded in that tie, they could have easily let their heads drop and been on the receiving end of a thumping.

This is going to be a tough tie for Watford but they will be looking to exploit Manchester United’s defence, who have looked suspect at times this season.

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Manchester United come into this tie having lost in the Manchester Derby and Europa League in midweek, two results they would not have expected.

The response from United in the derby last weekend was positive. Despite not taking anything from the game they looked likely to be pushed back into an embarrassing defeat for large parts of the first half.

Jose Mourinho needs his side to bounce back with a convincing win here to avoid risking more criticism, United have been bemoaned for a lack of quality by many pundits and fans alike already this season.

United need their big-name players to step up and perform. They are giving opponents far too many opportunities in games at the moment, but it is going to take time for all their summer changes to fall into place.

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Team News

Brice Dja Djedje is Watford’s only injury concern ahead of this tie.

Manchester United have two doubts for this one as Luke Shaw and Henrikh Mkhitaryan have knocks, while Wayne Rooney, Antonio Valencia will return to the squad after being left at home for their Europa League tie.

Key Points

Watford’s form: D/L/L/W  

Manchester United’s form: W/W/W/L

Key Stat: Manchester United have won their last eight matches against Watford in all competitions.

Key Player: Marcus Rashford – The United starlet would have given the City defence more of a headache last weekend had he not been on the bench to begin with. He may not start in this one but he certainly has the class to make an impact in any game.

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Score Prediction 

Watford 1-3 Manchester United – Watford’s winless run against Manchester United to continue. They definitely have the players and ability to get at the United defence, but with the squad depth and world-class players at Mourinho’s disposal, they should be winning this game. If United lose this tie and results go against them, they could be as many as six points behind the leaders.

Premier League Preview and Prediction: Hull City vs Manchester United

Competition: Premier League – Hull City vs. Manchester United

Venue: KCOM Stadium – Saturday, August 27 – 17:30 BST (12:30 ET)

Match Odds: Hull 7/1 – Draw 16/5 – Manchester United 4/9

Match Preview

Surprise early season high-flying Hull City welcome Manchester United to KCOM Stadium as one of these sides will lose their 100% record this weekend.

Hull have defied the odds in their opening two games, winning both, and are one of only four teams to have picked up six points.

Their last Premier League outing was against Swansea, where some ruthless finishing in the last quarter of an hour saw them come away 2-0 winners.

At some point Hull’s squad will begin to feel the pressure due to a lack of depth and injuries, but for the moment they can enjoy each game and they’ll be full confidence. A strong start to the season is all Mike Phelan would have hoped for and he has got exactly that.

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Manchester United have looked very comfortable in their opening two games. They are giving off the real impression of a typical Jose Mourinho side and although they will be expecting a tough tie, they’ll feel anything less than three points this time out is not good enough.

United will be keen to push their way to the top of the table as early on as possible this season, they trail City on goals scored but have the same goal difference as their neighbours. Mourinho loves his side to be pace setters rather than chasers.

Mourinho’s new signings have dovetailed nicely with the rest of the squad so far and their direct approaching is working well.

United have scored at least two goals in their last four Premier League outings and you wouldn’t bet against them repeating that this weekend. They have a strong bench to change things up if they aren’t getting any joy in this tie.

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Team News

Hull City are still light on the ground. Centre back partners Alex Bruce and Michael Dawson remain injured, while Moses Odubajo and Allan McGregor are also both still out. Josh Tymon, Harry Maguire and Greg Luer are all doubts.

Manchester United have no injury concerns so we can expect a very similar lineup from Mourinho in this tie.

Key Points

Hull City’s last five: W/W

Manchester United’s last five: W/W

Key Stat: Manchester United have never lost to Hull City in the Premier League, winning eight and drawing the other.

Key Player: Zlatan Ibrahimovic – The big Swede has been exactly what United needed in his opening two league games, he’ll be itching to keep his scoring run going and prove to any doubters why they are wrong.

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Score Prediction

Hull City 1-3 Manchester United – Hull deserve a lot of credit for their performances so far this season and they’ve been good value in front of goal but they’ll be able to do little to stop the power of United here. An entertaining one with a result many would predict.

Weekend focus: Arsenal, Hull & Spurs – what to expect

We’re closing in on another action packed round of Premier League fixtures. The ‘weekend focus’ series picks three games and looks at what to expect. This time around we’re looking at Arsenal‘s trip to Watford, whether Hull City can keep their run going and if Tottenham Hotspur can overturn Liverpool at White Hart Lane.

Pressure on Arsene Wenger: 

Arsenal have picked up just one point from a possible six so far and their trip to Watford on Saturday afternoon isn’t going to be an easy one.

The Gunners have drawn their last four away games in the Premier League.

Arsenal managed just four shots on target in their game against Leicester last time out, their defensive performance was much better than their opener but they looked sluggish and out of ideas in the final third.

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Verdict: The pressure will pile on Wenger if they fail to win again. He will have just under five days left to make any signings by the time they have played on Saturday.

Can Hull remain 100%?

Hull City have stunned pundits and fans alike with their opening two performances of the season, winning both games. They’re one of only four clubs to have a 100% record in the league so far.

The Tigers haven’t beaten United in eight attempts in the Premier League, losing seven and drawing one, so this is going to be a big ask.

The last meeting between these two was a 0-0 draw, a result Hull would settle for in this one. However this tie ends up they’ve had a great start to the season and they’ll be full of confidence.

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Verdict: Hull to find this a very difficult tie against a United side who will be expecting to take all three points. 100% record to come to an end.

Will Spurs put an end to their winless run against Liverpool?

Tottenham Hotspur haven’t beaten Liverpool in the last seven meetings between the sides in the Premier League, conceding 19 goals along the way.

Harry Kane has never scored a Premier League goal in August in nine games but he’ll be feeling confident of facing Simon Mignolet – the Liverpool ‘keeper has conceded the last five shots he has faced.

Spurs have lost just one of their last nine home games in the league, picking up 20 points along the way, they’ll be itching to bring that winless run to an end.

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Verdict: Spurs have lacked cutting edge in the final third in their opening two games, while Liverpool have been conceding goals they have also scored nine in all competitions. Draw.

What do you think will happen in these three games?