Mason Greenwood earned the praise of Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer after his match-winning impact against Astana in the Europa League.

United were toiling at Old Trafford in Thursday's opening Group L Europa League clash until Greenwood produced a moment of class to win the game with 17 minutes remaining.

Collecting the ball on the left side of the penalty box, the 17-year-old Greenwood tricked his way into enough space to rifle a shot through the legs of Astana's excellent goalkeeper Nenad Eric.

Greenwood became United's youngest goalscorer in European competition having netted his first senior goal for the club on just his second start.

"He's a natural finisher, a natural footballer," Solskjaer told BT Sport.

"He enjoys playing football and can play as a number 10 or wide so I'm pleased he's got his first goal.

"We always know in and around the box he's one of our best finishers. 

"I'm happy he got his goal and he'll go home happy tonight."

Tahith Chong and Angel Gomes also started and Solskjaer indicated some of his young stars could keep their places for Sunday's Premier League trip to West Ham.

"They show it every day in training, this is why they're here and ready to play a part," he added. 

"I made it difficult by making so many changes, I have to take some blame as it's easier to come into a settled team. But still, it's a good night for us.

"We think today was a great opportunity for them, we wouldn't throw them in if they weren't ready but they need game-time so they can get rhythm. They might play at the weekend or against Rochdale [in the EFL Cup] next week. 

"You have to handle the fans to make it at Manchester United, it's not easy on a night like this. Angel did well, Chongy showed glimpses so they'll be better for it."

Having spent much of his time as Manchester United manager promising to do so, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer finally unleashed the kids in their Europa League opener against Astana.

Mason Greenwood, Tahith Chong and Angel Gomes were all given their first starts of the season, while Axel Tuanzebe lined up in defence after making only one substitute appearance since returning from a fruitful loan spell.

As a contest, it certainly was not as straightforward as Solskjaer would have hoped, as United made hard work of overcoming the Kazakh champions.

Yet Solskjaer's experimenting was just about vindicated by Greenwood getting the only goal of the game 17 minutes from time - the forward bailing out his more experienced team-mates on a frustrating evening at Old Trafford.

Nevertheless, it was still a mixed outing for United's youngsters. We assess how they fared.

 

Mason Greenwood

United's next great hope was making his first start since the 2-0 defeat to Cardiff City on the final day of last season, though this contest will have felt like small fry compared to his only previous European outing, a substitute appearance in the famous 3-1 win at Paris Saint-Germain last term.

Operating initially from the right, he went extremely close to opening the scoring in the 16th minute after Marcus Rashford's clever flick, drilling a fierce left-footed strike just wide of the top-left corner. Solskjaer said Greenwood was one of the best finishers he has ever seen on Wednesday – it would have been easy to see why had he buried that opportunity.

However, Solskjaer's need for Greenwood – as United's only back-up striker – to prove a point and get a goal arguably spared the teenager from being taken off instead of Gomes in the second half, having failed to meet expectations.

The Norwegian's faith ultimately paid off.

For once, a United player didn't just do the obvious. Greenwood twisted and turned in the area and coolly slotted between the goalkeeper's legs for his first official senior goal, which will surely be a weight off his shoulders.

 

Angel Gomes

Almost two-and-a-half years on from his United debut, Gomes was finally awarded a first senior start and he looked eager to impress, dazzling a defender in the first minute before then winning a foul with a clever turn just a few moments later.

In the first half, Gomes looked the most likely to make something happen creatively, his quick feet winning a couple of free-kicks and providing the only defence-splitting pass just before the half-hour mark when releasing Diogo Dalot, whose subsequent cross was dealt with.

Gomes' ability in tight spaces continued to look like providing a potential route to goal in the second period – the attacking midfielder drawing fouls and creating space, but United refused to use him as often as they should have.

In the end, he was somewhat unfortunate to be taken off after generally justifying his selection. The fans will definitely be hoping to see more from Gomes in the coming weeks.

 

Tahith Chong

After looking bright as a substitute against Leicester City, it was not a huge surprise to see Netherlands youth international Chong make the starting XI.

While his display was a little braver than Greenwood's before the break, Chong did show he is still the rawest of the three youngsters in attack.

His touch was far too heavy on several occasions, while he lacked the power to really trouble the Astana defence, one early run aside.

He was unsurprisingly withdrawn for Jesse Lingard in the second half, having been largely disappointing.

 

Axel Tuanzebe

Following a solid season on loan at Aston Villa, Tuanzebe has moved well up the pecking order at Old Trafford and was a commanding presence on his first start for the club since May 2017.

The 21-year-old showed an effective blend of physicality and technical ability, one first-half moment typifying that when he recovered to outpace and outmuscle Dorin Rotariu, before taking the ball back and dribbling forward after the Romanian had flicked the ball over his head.

Otherwise Tuanzebe had little defending to do, with the centre-back often stepping forward into midfield given United's dominance, but his solidity was highlighted by the fact he won 75 per cent of his 16 duels.

 

Kieran Tierney and Hector Bellerin will make their returns to action for Arsenal Under-23s on Friday, Unai Emery confirmed.

Scotland left-back Tierney has been dealing with a groin injury he sustained prior to his reported £25million move from Celtic on deadline day, while Bellerin has been out since an anterior cruciate ligament rupture suffered in January.

Arsenal head coach Emery revealed the defensive duo had returned to training last week and they will edge closer to a return to the first team against Wolves U23.

Emery announced the date for their return following the Gunners' 3-0 victory over Eintracht Frankfurt in their Europa League opener on Thursday.

Bukayo Saka, 18, had two assists and a goal on his second start for the club, with Joe Willock and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang also on target at the Commerzbank Arena.

The goals from Saka and Aubameyang came in quick succession after the teenage winger drew a foul that resulted in Dominik Kohr's second yellow card with 11 minutes remaining.

It ensured Arsenal emerged triumphant from an open game and went top of Group F, with Standard Liege beating Vitoria SC in the section's other game.

"We know that match was difficult. They were very strong here. They're a very offensive team and defensively we needed to work, sometimes deep, sometimes with their full-backs very deep, crossing a lot to the strikers," said Emery.

"We spoke and worked on the transition if we were organised defensively and with good pressing. We did that.

"We had the possibility with the young players to create chances and help them, also sharing with experienced players. Their performance tonight was good. It's our way.

"We analysed that team and they are very offensive. They played with three centre-backs and full-backs who are wingers. We know they demanded a lot from us defensively.

"We did good work. They shoot a lot because they have a lot of attacking players."

Mason Greenwood's first senior goal earned a callow Manchester United team a stuttering 1-0 home win over Astana in their opening Europa League fixture on Thursday.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer put his faith in Greenwood, Angel Gomes and Tahith Chong, the trio's inclusion contributing to United's youngest XI in a Europa League or Champions League game since December 2012.

Yet with Marcus Rashford particularly inefficient in front of goal, the Premier League giants struggled to find a way to beat Astana goalkeeper Nenad Eric, who was in excellent form.

The hosts did at least claim victory. With 17 minutes to go at Old Trafford, Greenwood had the crowd off their feet with a stirring run and finish through Eric's legs to win the Group L game.

United's young side made a vibrant start with Fred's 30-yard strike rattling the crossbar before Rashford somehow hit a close-range shot straight at Eric.

Greenwood rifled a powerful drive wide and Rashford sprung Astana's offside trap again in the 21st minute but again found Eric blocking his way when it looked easier to score.

The 17-year-old Greenwood and Chong both arrived moments too late to convert Marcos Rojo's low cross as United tried to step up the tempo at the start of the second half.

A goalmouth melee saw the ball roll against the outside of Eric's left-hand post before Rashford thumped a free-kick just over the crossbar and Fred's 25-yard set piece was tipped wide.

Eric brilliantly tipped Jesse Lingard's speculative strike on to the woodwork with Diogo Dalot failing to convert the rebound, leaving Greenwood's moment of magic decisive.



What does it mean? You can't win anything with kids… or can you?

Solskjaer's decision to name such an inexperienced front line was partly forced on him by Romelu Lukaku and Alexis Sanchez departing for Inter with no arrivals signed to replace them. 

The virtually anonymous Chong and Gomes do not look ready to make match-winning contributions on this stage, although Greenwood certainly justified his inclusion with the winner.


A star is born

There has been a great deal of excitement around the potential of Greenwood, who was handed his second start for the club. For much of the game Greenwood operated on the fringes but he burst into life when it counted to ensure United avoided an embarrassing result.

 

Rashford wasteful as attack's leader

Easily the most experienced United attacker on show, Rashford could have had a hat-trick had his radar been in tune. He has only scored once since the opening weekend.

 

What's next?

Solskjaer's side go to West Ham United in the Premier League on Sunday, with their next Europa League fixture away to AZ on October 3, the day Astana host Partizan.

Emile Heskey has praised Chelsea boss Frank Lampard for his commitment to youth but predicted a rude awakening when Liverpool travel to Stamford Bridge this weekend.

Lampard has placed his faith in academy products Tammy Abraham, Mason Mount and Fikayo Tomori in the early stages of the season and results have been mixed.

Chelsea were beaten 1-0 at home by Valencia in the Champions League on Tuesday and have shipped 14 goals in their first seven matches under Lampard in all competitions, failing to keep a single clean sheet.

Liverpool have scored 17 goals in their opening seven games, meanwhile, and Heskey cannot see past an away win at Stamford Bridge on Sunday.

"I'd expect Liverpool to win," he told Omnisport. "I think Frank is doing a good job, in the sense that he's allowing the youth to play. He's giving them the freedom to go and play. 

"They haven't done necessarily great defensively and if you're talking about the best attacking side in the league, it's either Manchester City or Liverpool, and they're coming up against Liverpool, so it's going to be very, very tough for them. 

"When you've got [Mohamed] Salah, [Sadio] Mane and [Roberto] Firmino up front, it's going to be very, very difficult for Frank's side.

"You've seen that they do tend to make a few mistakes, as most young players will, and against the bigger teams and better teams they will capitalise on that, and I expect them [Liverpool] to."

Callum Hudson-Odoi has signed a new five-year contract at Chelsea, the club has confirmed.

The England international joins fellow academy products Ruben Loftus-Cheek and Mason Mount in committing to long-term deals since Frank Lampard's appointment as head coach.

Securing the teenager's signature is significant for Chelsea, who rejected several bids from Bundesliga champions Bayern Munich earlier this year.

The German giants made their interest known in January, reportedly leading Hudson-Odoi to submit a transfer request, and are said to have returned with a reduced £22.5million (€25.4m) offer as the winger entered the final 12 months of his previous deal.

Chelsea resisted Bayern's interest and have now tied the talented homegrown prospect to an agreement reportedly worth upwards of £100,000 per week.

"It's an amazing feeling," Hudson-Odoi told Chelsea's official website. "It's been a long wait but it's done now and I'm really happy about that. I've been a Chelsea player since I was eight and this is the right club for me to be at.

"I want to lift as many trophies as possible, win as many games as possible and contribute to as many goals as I can as well. As a team, we just want to work hard to achieve the best results we can.

"I'm delighted everything has been agreed and now I'm just looking forward to properly getting back."

Hudson-Odoi had to be patient before forcing his way into former boss Maurizio Sarri's starting XI in April, only for a ruptured Achilles to end his season in the same month.

The 18-year-old earned made his return in an Under-23 game against Brighton and Hove Albion last week and is nearing a return to first-team action.

England manager Gareth Southgate handed Hudson-Odoi his first senior international cap against Czech Republic in March.

"I have seen Callum come through and he's a fantastic talent," Lampard said. "He is going to be central for us on the pitch and that is the opportunity in front of him now.

"There are things as a young player that he will want to improve but he can be central to this team and for England. I want to work with him, I want to drive him forward and I want to improve him as a player.

"Callum can show, right here at Chelsea, the club he came through the academy at, that he is going to be a world-class player because I truly believe that."

It has been reported the Blues are also looking to tie down Fikayo Tomori and Tammy Abraham to extended new deals.

Mason Greenwood, Angel Gomes and Tahith Chong were all named in a youthful Manchester United side for their Europa League opener against Astana at Old Trafford on Thursday.

Solskjaer had confirmed in his pre-match news conference that 17-year-old Greenwood was set to be joined in the starting XI by out-of-favour Fred and young defender Axel Tuanzebe, but the selections of Gomes and Chong were slightly more surprising.

England youth international Gomes has been highly rated by United for several years and was an unused substitute in the 1-0 win over Leicester City.

Chong looked lively off the bench against the Foxes and is rewarded with a maiden start of the campaign.

Having made four appearances off the bench in the Premier League, Greenwood will lead the line in tandem with Marcus Rashford, while Gomes and Chong will be expected to provide the ammunition.

Brazilian midfielder Fred – like Chong – caught the eye as a substitute at the weekend and he gets an opportunity to kick-start his season after underwhelming last term following a £52 million move from Shakhtar Donetsk.

Similarly, right-back Diogo Dalot comes in for his first start of 2019-20, having struggled with a groin strain since the start of August.

Nicolo Zaniolo wants to fulfil the hopes Roma supporters have of him becoming the new Francesco Totti, even if his boyhood idol was former AC Milan star Kaka.

After scoring four goals in 27 Serie A appearances to help the Giallorossi finish sixth last season, Zaniolo has become an integral part of a squad with ambitions to break back into the top four this term.

The 20-year-old Italy international, who was playing for Virtus Entella in Serie B little over two years ago, is focused on staying grounded amid growing expectations on him at Stadio Olimpico.

"It's important to keep your feet on the ground at all times and I have a family behind me who do that, who understand football and who make sure I work my best at all times," Zaniolo told These Football Times.

"Beyond that, the only way to manage expectations is within myself. I can't listen to what others say, good or bad. I'm not Totti, but one day I hope to be as good.

"My hero undoubtedly was always Kaka, especially during his Milan years and for Brazil. I watched him a lot.

"For me, he was the perfect offensive midfielder: strong, technically perfect and capable of scoring and assisting. That is what I wanted to become as a kid and I still do now."

After impressing during his first season at Roma, Zaniolo signed a new five-year deal at the club amid reported interest in him from Tottenham and Bayern Munich.

The playmaker is competing with the likes of Justin Kluivert, Cengiz Under, Javier Pastore and Henrikh Mkhitaryan for a place in the line of three creative players that Roma coach Paulo Fonseca likes to play behind lone striker Edin Dzeko.

Zaniolo said the experience of playing alongside Daniele De Rossi last season helped to keep him humble as he rose to stardom.

"Daniele was always a leader and a fantastic person, so it's easy to learn from him and other experienced players," said Zaniolo. "In fact, if you can't, there's something wrong."

Sheffield United owner Prince Abdullah bin Musa'ad bin Abdulaziz Al Sa'ud says the club could take investment from the 'very respectable' Bin Laden family.

One of Saudi Arabia's most influential and richest families, the Bin Laden name will always be indelibly associated with Osama Bin Laden's terrorist acts.

According to reports, the Bin Laden family previously loaned Sheffield United £3million and Saudi Arabia's Prince Abdullah, who this week won an ownership battle with Kevin McCabe, could turn to them again.

"I really am offended when the Bin Laden family are given a bad name," Prince Abdullah told a news conference. "They are a very respectable family.

"It is a really good family. It had a black sheep, as most families do, but it's a really respectable family and if I do business with them again, I'd be happy to.

"It's not a disgraced name.

"The [Bin Laden] family were looking to buy Kevin's shares, and the money they put was a down-payment to give them time to do due diligence.

"If they decided not to buy, the money was to be used as a loan for a year without any interest.

"I'm usually tolerant but when people talk about Bin Laden as a dirty family I get offended. It's not my family to support but I think it's the right thing to say."

Prince Musa'ad bin Khalid bin Musa'ad Al Sa'ud, Prince Abdullah's 26-year-old son-in-law, becomes Sheffield United chairman after McCabe lost his battle for Blades ownership in the High Court.

Dimitar Berbatov has announced his retirement from football, saying: "I played the way I wanna play, and I scored the goals I wanted to score!"

The 38-year-old former Manchester United, Tottenham and Bayer Leverkusen striker played his last game for Kerala Blasters in the Indian Super League in February 2018.

He announced his retirement on the ninth anniversary of his hat-trick for Manchester United in a memorable 3-2 win over rivals Liverpool.

After starting his career at CSKA Sofia, Bulgarian Berbatov made a name for himself in the Bundesliga with Leverkusen and then enjoyed success in the Premier League with Spurs.

United paid £28million to take him to Old Trafford in August 2008 and he won two Premier League titles with the club, before going on to play for Fulham, Monaco, PAOK and Kerala.

In a post on his Instagram account, Berbatov said: "My last game was more than one year ago, so I think it's the right time now to stop and it's long overdue!

"Although when I think about it, it's never The End, because I will stay in the game in one way or another, the time has come to say that after almost 20 years playing football I am stopping with my professional ACTIVE football career!

"I will miss it! I will f***ing miss it! Everything! The games, trainings, the goals, preparations, the pressure, my teammates…the roar of the fans when I scored another banger.

"I was blessed and work hard to have the opportunity to play with one of the best ever and against some of the best ever! And coming from small country this makes it even more special for me!"

Berbatov reflected on the ups and downs of a career that included three Champions League final defeats – one with Leverkusen and two with United.

His most prolific spell came in Germany, where he netted 91 goals in 202 matches for Leverkusen, but he won his only league titles at United, along with the League Cup, the Community Shield and the FIFA Club World Cup.

He also netted 48 goals in 78 appearances for Bulgaria to become the country's all-time leading scorer before retiring from international football in 2012.

"I had my highs and of course some lows in my career, won my fair share of trophies, scored some goals along the way as well!" said Berbatov.

"I played the way I wanna play, and I scored the goals I wanted to score!

"Thank you to all the people who helped me develop, and became the player I always wanted to be!

"Thank you to all my former teams, my teammates and my coaches and staff! It was a pleasure! I know at times I was not easy to work with, but I always gave my everything for the teams I played for!

"I hope you all have enjoyed my game, and everything I gave to entertain you on the pitch!"

Peter Beardsley has been suspended from football for eight months after being found to have used racist and abusive language while in his role as Newcastle United's Under-23s coach.

An independent commission imposed a 32-week ban on the ex-England international and ordered him to undergo an education course after the Football Association (FA) charged him with three breaches of FA Rule E3 in March.

Beardsley, who denied each of the charges, left his post at Newcastle that month, having been placed on gardening leave in January 2018.

"The FA alleged that Mr Beardsley used abusive and/or insulting words, which were contrary to FA Rule E3(1) and constituted an 'Aggravated Breach' under FA Rule E3(2) due to reference of ethnic origin and/or colour and/or race and/or nationality, while employed as a coach of the club's Under-23s team," read an FA statement.

"All three breaches of FA Rule E3 were denied but subsequently found proven based upon the results and findings of Newcastle United FC's disciplinary proceedings.

"Mr Beardsley has also been ordered to complete a face-to-face education course."

The 58-year-old, who played for Newcastle, will be required to refrain from all football-related activity until April 29, 2020.

In a statement released via his legal representatives, Beardsley was said to be "very surprised and disappointed" by the outcome.

It read: "It was almost impossible for Peter to clear his name because of the serious flaws and contamination of evidence that occurred in the disciplinary process before Newcastle United and by the unusual fact that the FA rrules put the burden of proof on him to prove his innocence in the proceedings.

"After a long process which has been unnecessarily protracted, Peter feels vindicated that the commission has expressly found that he is not a racist.

"Peter and his legal advisers have been inundated with support from all over the country, both from fellow professionals of the highest repute including John Barnes, Kevin Keegan, Les Ferdinand and Andrew Cole, as well as other football professionals including managers, coaches, players, and football fans, all of which provided unchallenged evidence to the commission as to Peter's good character, the fact that he is not a racist and whatever was said, there was no intent to cause offence."

The statement added Beardsley acknowledges the commission's verdict and intends to resume his career in football upon the completion of the suspension.

Ilkay Gundogan welcomed the return to fitness of Benjamin Mendy as "a big boost" for Manchester City at a time when the club are without two key defenders.

Aymeric Laporte and John Stones missed City's 3-0 Champions League Group C victory over Shakhtar Donetsk on Wednesday with injuries and Pep Guardiola moved Fernandinho into central defence alongside Nicolas Otamendi.

Mendy came on as a second-half substitute to make his first appearance since City's Champions League quarter-final elimination to Tottenham in April and Gundogan highlighted the importance of his return.

"It was great to see Benjamin back and it is a big boost for us," Gundogan told the club's official website.

"Having him available again will be great for the team because we have missed him for the past five months and it's also good for him.

"His fitness will improve as he gets some more game time and last night was an important step forward for him.

"We have lost a number of players recently, so having an important member of the squad return is just what we needed.

"We are competing in so many competitions and every player has a part to play so I'm really happy to see him return."

Gundogan made his fourth start of the season against Shakhtar and put in an impressive performance as he played the full 90 minutes of the win.

After playing a role in Riyad Mahrez opening the scoring, Gundogan got City's second and spent the game pulling the strings alongside Kevin De Bruyne and Rodri in midfield.

He gave a modest assessment of his own performance while looking ahead to City's clash with Watford on Saturday, when they will hope to bounce back from a 3-2 defeat at Norwich City in their last Premier League outing.

"I'm happy but I know I can still improve," said Gundogan. "It was good to get a goal and also play the full 90 minutes because I think I needed that.

"It helps me, it helps the team and it helps everyone because we wanted to respond quickly.

"As you can imagine, the defeat at Norwich was very hard to take for us, that's why beating Shakhtar was even more important and we can take this win into Saturday's game against Watford which is already very close."

Mauricio Pochettino has no concerns over Christian Eriksen's form and commitment ahead of Tottenham's Premier League trip to Leicester City.

Eriksen was linked with a move away from Spurs during the close season and his contract is set to expire at the end of the current campaign.

The Denmark playmaker was benched for Tottenham's first two home games of the Premier League season amid such uncertainty over his future, although he returned to the starting line-up to open the scoring in the 2-2 north London derby draw against Arsenal.

Eriksen still appeared to be operating some way short of his brilliant best as Pochettino's side continued a mixed start to the campaign – giving away a two-goal lead, as they did versus Arsenal, to draw their Champions League opener 2-2 at Olympiacos.

"No, I am happy with the performance," Pochettino told a pre-match news conference on Thursday, in response to a question over Eriksen's recent output.

"Maybe Olympiacos wasn't his best game, like the team. The collective performance wasn't the best from us.

"I am happy with the commitment of Christian. He ran a lot and was very committed with the team. I am not concerned about him."

Harry Kane expressed frustration at Spurs' latest failure to hold on to a lead after the Olympiacos match.

"That's the hard part to get your head around because we’re not young any more, we’re not inexperienced," Kane told reporters.

"We've played in big games for club and country. I can see why the manager is frustrated because he’s been here for six years now and we're still making similar mistakes to the ones we were in his first year.

"We've got to find a way to get around it, improve and get better."

However, Kane insisted Spurs' problem is not one of mentality, and Pochettino agreed – choosing to focus upon the recent achievements of his team as he called for them to make further improvements.

"We need to improve in this type of situation - leading against Arsenal, leading 2-0 against Olympiakos," Pochettino said. "We are not talking about quality, we are talking to be in this type of situation to manage it better.

"Look, a few months ago we played the final of the Champions League, we were not talking about mentality because we played the final. We got a lot of praise because we played the final."

Where Pochettino appeared more frustrated in the immediate aftermath of the Olympiacos game was with an accusation that his players failed to "respect the plan", something he expanded upon before chasing back-to-back league wins for the first time this season.

 "We were talking at half-time that our positional game, the plan was different and that is why we changed after 20 minutes, we decided to play with Lucas [Moura] close to Harry Kane as a striker, with Christian on the right and Dele [Alli] on the left," he said.

"We all agree, for different reasons, we didn’t play in the way we planned to play, but this happens. It happens at Tottenham, it happens at different teams and the most important is to realise and to fix the problem."

Giovani Lo Celso (hip) and Ryan Sessegnon (hamstring) remain sidelined for the trip to the King Power Stadium.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer believes Victor Lindelof's strength of character and technical quality sets him up to be an influential figure in Manchester United's future.

Sweden international Lindelof agreed a new five-year contract on Wednesday, pledging his future to United until 2024 with an option to extend for a further 12 months.

The defender had been linked with Barcelona during the close-season transfer window but insisted he was "very happy" in Manchester, where he has become a regular starter.

At 25, Lindelof has been earmarked as a mainstay at centre-back alongside new signing Harry Maguire.

"Ever since I came in, I've been impressed by Victor, so now, to nail him down here, it's important," manager Solskjaer told his club's website.

"He's the modern centre-back – calm, composed and good on the ball. And, being a fellow Scandinavian, I know all about his mentality.

"You always get that mentality from Scandinavians, even though he's a Swede!"

Lindelof was not an immediate hit at Old Trafford, with the manager who signed him from Benfica, Jose Mourinho, seemingly unconvinced and unwilling to trust him with a regular starting berth.

Solskjaer has been more forthcoming with faith and chances, naming him for each of the club's opening five Premier League games of the 2019-20 campaign.

"The Premier League is a different animal to Europe," the United boss said.

"It took time for Victor, as he would admit himself now, but he's settling in. Last season, I thought he was excellent when I came here. His composure on the ball and leadership skills will be important."

Lindelof could be rested when the Red Devils begin their Europa League campaign at home to Astana on Thursday.

In-form winger Daniel James will miss the match after suffering a knock against Leicester City last weekend and is not guaranteed to face West Ham at the London Stadium on Sunday.

Solskjaer said: "Dan is touch and go. He missed training [on Wednesday] and might be [out for] longer than expected, but hopefully [he'll be back for] the weekend."

Chelsea and Liverpool never take each other lightly and on Sunday both sides will attempt to put Champions League defeats behind them.

Liverpool's winning start to the season came to an abrupt half in a 2-0 defeat at Napoli, while Chelsea suffered their first home reverse of the season when Valencia won 1-0 at Stamford Bridge.

It is little over a month since Tammy Abraham's penalty miss handed Liverpool a 5-4 penalty shoot-out victory after a 2-2 draw in the UEFA Super Cup in Istanbul, and Frank Lampard will be desperate for revenge now he has settled into his role as head coach.

Lampard is a central figure in the rivalry between Liverpool and Chelsea, having faced the Reds in three Champions League semi-finals and helped the Blues to 15 victories and four draws in the 31 Premier League matches he played against the Anfield club.

But this Liverpool team could eclipse the achievements of any faced by Lampard in his playing career, and the Opta data shows just what Chelsea can expect from Jurgen Klopp's title hopefuls.

 

STAMFORD BRIDGE A HAPPY HUNTING GROUND FOR KLOPP

If Liverpool claim all three points on Sunday, Jurgen Klopp will become the first Liverpool manager to have secured three Premier League victories at Stamford Bridge.

The omens appear to be in his favour, with none of Chelsea's last six managers having won their first league game against Liverpool, Carlo Ancelotti being the last Blues boss to triumph in his first encounter against them in 2009.

Indeed, Chelsea have won just one of their last nine league games against the European champions (D5 L3) and that came in May 2018 when Olivier Giroud scored in a 1-0 home victory.

They entertain a Liverpool side in the midst of the club's longest unbeaten run in the Premier League era (22 games), with Klopp's men having lost once in their last 44 top-flight outings.

But Chelsea at the Bridge are not a side to write off and they will not be daunted by the visit of Klopp's table-topping side: the Blues have beaten the team who topped the Premier League at the start of the day 18 times – three more than any other side.

HEAD TO HEAD: ROBERTO FIRMINO V TAMMY ABRAHAM

Abraham has buried the memory of his night to forget in Istanbul by scoring seven goals in his last three Premier League appearances - including a hat-trick against Wolves last time out - and on Sunday he is gunning for a record held by former Liverpool favourite Luis Suarez.

The only player to score at least twice in four consecutive Premier League appearances was Suarez, who achieved the feat in December 2013, and all eyes will be on Abraham as he aims to extend his streak.

In contrast, Roberto Firmino heads to the capital having scored just two league goals this season, despite playing 400 minutes compared to Abraham's 331.

Firmino has attempted more shots (19) than Abraham (15), and had more touches in the opposition box (36 v 21), but Liverpool have relied on Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane (4 goals each) for firepower.

In terms of creativity, however, Firmino is having a fine season, contributing three assists and creating five big chances, whereas Abraham has yet to register an assist and has carved just one big chance this term.

FORM GUIDE

Liverpool head to West London with a 100 per cent record in the Premier League this season, having brushed Norwich City, Southampton, Arsenal, Burnley and Newcastle United aside with very little fuss.

Chelsea have not had it so easy, suffering a 4-0 drubbing against Manchester United in their season opener before labouring to draws at home against Leicester City and Sheffield United.

But Lampard's men played some of their best football under his management in their 5-2 demolition of Wolves last weekend and a first home league win of the season against Liverpool would be a huge statement from a young Blues team.

Mason Mount sustained an injury against Valencia and is a doubt, but even without his dynamism in attack Chelsea will be confident of finding the net.

Liverpool have kept just one clean sheet in the Premier League this season, in their 3-0 win at Burnley, although they have only conceded four goals – joint lowest in the division alongside Manchester United and Leicester City.

HISTORY SAYS…

Liverpool have visited Stamford Bridge 27 times in the Premier League and only managed one victory in their first 16 of those trips.

But the Reds' last 11 games at Chelsea have been far more fruitful, delivering five victories, three draws and three defeats.

History says there will be goals in this one: Liverpool have scored in all but one of their last 10 league games against Chelsea, while the Blues have failed to score in only one of their last 20 clashes with Liverpool in all competitions.

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