Chelsea's season has to "start now" according to Frank Lampard, whose side wasted chances and endured VAR frustration as they lost 2-0 at home to Manchester United.

The Blues, who face Tottenham next, have now won just one of their past six Premier League matches after Monday's defeat at Stamford Bridge, with their place in the top four under serious threat.

Manchester City's ban from the Champions League – should it be upheld – will mean fifth place could be enough for a Premier League side to qualify for Europe's top-tier competition for next season.

However, just seven points separate Chelsea and Arsenal in 10th in what has become a congested race for Europe.

Lampard felt aggrieved that VAR was not on Chelsea's side against United, with Harry Maguire escaping a possible red card for a clash with Michy Batshuayi and the Blues seeing two goals disallowed in the second half, but he again pointed to his side's profligacy in front of goal as a factor in their defeat.

"It's tough to take on lots of levels, some footballing, some others," Lampard, who was without leading scorer Tammy Abraham due to injury, told Sky Sports.

"It's frustrating, but that's life. I'm not upset with the work ethic or input. Their heads are down in there and I have to correct that. It's not a 2-0 game but the reality of football is that it is a 2-0 game because of moments. 

"We have a feeling of Groundhog Day, whatever you want to call it. There are footballing things, which get clearer every week.

"There's always work to do every day. At the minute, we're fourth and the season starts here. There are things I can criticise; I'm not soft. If we're not going to have productivity to finish, it's very difficult to win games."

Anthony Martial gave United a half-time lead but Kurt Zouma thought he had restored parity early in the second half, only for the goal to be ruled out for a foul by Cesar Azpilicueta, who was deemed to have pushed Brandon Williams.

Olivier Giroud's header was then disallowed for offside after Maguire had made it 2-0 from a Bruno Fernandes corner.

"Maguire should get a red card and then he scores the second goal, and the game changes off that," Lampard, who also confirmed N'Golo Kante had suffered an adductor injury, said in a news conference.

"That's a major part of what VAR was for. The referee can't see all the angles and if you're not going to use the monitor, I don't understand it.

"The Zouma goal should have stood. Azpilicueta gets shoved in the first place. It's certainly not clear and obvious. It's just a wrong decision, isn't it, which is harder to take with the presence of VAR than it would have been before.

"Love it or hate it, if something happens and they don't make the right decision, it's very confusing to say the least. Everyone I've spoken to has said the same thing."

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer does not intend to speak to Paul Pogba over Mino Raiola's comments on social media.

United defeated Chelsea 2-0 at Stamford Bridge on Monday, with Anthony Martial and Harry Maguire on target in a win which took Solskjaer's side to within three points of the Blues.

Pogba, who is still out injured, was once again not involved, though his agent Raiola caused a stir prior to kick-off when he took a swipe at Solskjaer on social media.

"Paul is not mine and for sure not Solskjaer's property, Paul is Paul Pogba's. You cannot own a human being already for a long time in the UK or anywhere else. I HOPE Solskjaer DO [sic] NOT WANT TO SUGGEST THAT PAUL IS HIS PRISONER," Raiola wrote in response to the United boss saying he was sure the France star was "our player and not Mino's".

Solskjaer dismissed the possibility of discussing the comments with Pogba, while also saying he would speak to Raiola directly rather than through the media.

"Probably not!" Solskjaer told Sky Sports when asked if he would speak to Pogba. "No. That's not my area. Paul and Mino have their conversations.

"I don't have to comment through the media on Mino and what he says. I can probably speak to him myself.

"You know the media and you cannot control that anyway. Anyone has a voice and an opinion. There's things being said about us where you want to comment, but you would rather not. And it's more clever you don't comment on many different things."

Raiola said last week he and Pogba would decide whether the World Cup winner will remain at Old Trafford at the end of the season, having stated the midfielder would be open to a return to Juventus.

The 26-year-old has made just seven Premier League appearances this season and has been sidelined with an ankle injury since December.

Gary Neville and Roy Keane have called for Manchester United to stop doing business with Mino Raiola and let Paul Pogba leave the club following the agent's latest comments.

United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer said ahead of the Premier League clash with Chelsea the midfielder was "our player and not Mino's".

Those comments prompted a response from Raiola shortly before United's 2-0 win at Stamford Bridge.

With the Red Devils struggling in the race for Champions League qualification prior to a precious victory, the agent said Solskjaer "has other things to worry about".

In their roles as pundits for Sky Sports, former United favourites Neville and Keane were each asked about Raiola and the situation with Pogba, who has been sidelined by an ankle injury since December amid repeated talk of a move away from Old Trafford.

They each expect Pogba to depart, with Neville saying: "It will end with Paul Pogba leaving Manchester United.

"What needs to happen is that club taking a stance on that agent. That agent has messed them around now for years with Pogba and other players.

"Why they allow themselves to be played by him I'll never know. He's a serious thorn in the side for them. Manchester United should just stand strong and say, 'If you're represented by him, we won't deal with you'."

Keane added: "If it's not right for the club and people are almost laughing at you, these agents, let these lads go.

"Look at the bigger picture. We're talking about a great club like Manchester United. Don't go chasing after these agents and these players who, I think, the bottom line, don't really want to be at the club.

"The agents don't want them to be there, I don't think Pogba wants to be there. Just shake hands and say, 'Off you go'.

"He'll go this summer. He'll go in the summer, 100 per cent."

Harry Maguire has explained he did not intend to kick Michy Batshuayi after an incident in the first half of Manchester United's 2-0 win over Chelsea.

Maguire scored United's second goal at Stamford Bridge on Monday, heading home from Bruno Fernandes' corner as the visitors moved to within three points of Frank Lampard's side.

However, Chelsea were angered midway through the first half when Maguire avoided any punishment after appearing to kick out at Batshuayi as both tumbled over the sideline.

There was a VAR check for violent conduct, but Maguire was not penalised and the England international claimed he had not intended to hurt the Chelsea forward.

"I can see why [it could be seen as a kick]. I knew I caught him," Maguire told Sky Sports.

"I thought he was going to fall on me, my natural reaction was to straighten a leg, so if he was to fall on me, it was to hold him up. It probably looks worse than it was.

"It wasn't a kick out, there was no intent, it was just my natural reaction to straighten my leg and if he was going to fall on me, to hold him up. I did catch him, I knew at the time but I think it's the right decision.

"I didn't have an intent to hurt him or kick him. It was just a natural reaction to straighten my leg, it wasn't a kick. I've got studs on my boot, makes it a little bit worse. I apologised to him but it was nice the referee has seen sense."

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was also adamant his captain was innocent.

"You want the right decision to be made and you're happy that they are made and they weren't made without that help and it's been shown a few times that we needed that help," Solskjaer told Sky Sports when asked of the major officiating calls, with VAR also ruling out two Chelsea goals.

"I wouldn't think [it was a red card]. I think he's just protecting himself there, looks like he's getting a lad over him and he's put his leg where it does hurt."

United are up to seventh, with the race for Champions League qualification becoming increasingly congested, and Maguire stressed the importance of carrying on their form.

"This season we've been far too inconsistent," he said. "We won at Manchester City, beat Chelsea at home, got a point against Liverpool.

"But we've let ourselves down against the teams when the pressure is on to break them down. Next Sunday we've got Watford at home, we're not getting carried away because it's a massive game and we need to get the three points."

As Manchester United got off the coach and made their way into Stamford Bridge for a huge Premier League clash with Chelsea on Monday, the Paul Pogba saga took its latest twist.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer last week rose to the bait so frequently dangled out by Pogba's agent Mino Raiola, who once more told the media of the World Cup winner's interest in returning to Juventus.

The United boss' response that "Paul Pogba is our player, not Mino's" clearly did not sit well with Raiola. Prior to kick-off he fired back in scathing fashion on social media.

"Paul is not mine and for sure not Solskjaer's property, Paul is Paul Pogba's. You cannot own a human being already for a long time in the UK or anywhere else. I HOPE Solskjaer DO NOT WANT TO SUGGEST THAT PAUL IS HIS PRISONER," Raiola wrote.

He went on to suggest that Solskjaer turn his attention to other things and, on the evidence of United's 2-0 victory over Chelsea, it is advice that may well be worth heeding.

Why get involved in an unbecoming game of tit for tat with Raiola over Pogba's future when United already have Bruno Fernandes excelling in the position the France international covets?

United received criticism for taking two transfer windows before finally prising Fernandes away from Sporting CP in a deal worth up to €80million – €30m less than the package they agreed to bring Pogba back from Juve in 2016.

After an encouraging debut against Wolves, Portugal international Fernandes appeared to have thoroughly benefitted from a training camp with his new team-mates in Marbella during the mid-season break.

Operating in the hole behind Anthony Martial – who headed in the opener on the stroke of half-time – and Daniel James, he displayed great energy, be that looking for a quick pass to knit the play together or running beyond the strikers.

Fernandes got involved all over the pitch and, after going close to opening his United account with a free-kick that struck the base of the post, delivered his first assist for the club with a corner that was headed home by Harry Maguire in the 66th minute.

Solskjaer has an exciting, creative talent that appears more than capable of providing with the sort of ingenuity it was hoped Pogba would bring. What's more, Fernandes is clearly happy to play for him and has had a positive impact on the atmosphere at the club.

"It's a difficult game against Chelsea, a great team and we needed a win to keep fighting. We need to keep working in this way," Fernandes told Sky Sports after the match.

"I think we can do much better on the ball, but it was a good game against a good team. We played our game. I feel good, obviously. I play for the biggest club in England, I'm really happy, it's a dream come true."

Maguire said of Fernandes: "You can see [the difference] he's made, the quality on the ball, his technical ability. He's a presence as well. He demands off players, he's a leader and he's nice to have around the dressing room. Long may it continue."

The victory over Chelsea lifted United into seventh and closed the gap to fourth-place Chelsea to just three points – a two-season European ban for Manchester City may open up fifth position as a route into the Champions League, of course – which could prove significant for Solskjaer.

Talk of a replacement being lined up will fade further into the background if the Red Devils can build on this result and put together a good run in the Premier League and Europa League, where Club Brugge await in the last 32.

The Pogba situation will linger for the rest of the season, but in signing Fernandes United have ensured they will be in a decent position should the France star finally get his wish for a new challenge.

Manchester United closed ground on the Champions League places as Anthony Martial and Harry Maguire struck to claim a vital 2-0 win over Chelsea, who were twice denied by VAR.

Despite heading into Monday's meeting at Stamford Bride having taken just four points in 2020, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's side moved to within a win of their opponents as they completed a Premier League double over Chelsea for the first time.

Martial continued his excellent form against Chelsea to get United off the mark, with the Blues denied an equaliser through Kurt Zouma by the video review system.

United made their luck count in the 66th minute with captain Maguire – who was perhaps fortunate to be on the pitch after an earlier clash with Michy Batshuayi – heading in Bruno Fernandes' corner and United held firm to secure valuable points after Olivier Giroud also saw a goal disallowed.

Chelsea were inches away from taking a sixth-minute lead when Reece James lashed wide, but Frank Lampard's side were dealt a blow when N'Golo Kante was forced off through injury in the 12th minute.

Maguire was lucky to go unpunished for kicking out at Batshuayi, who subsequently squandered a brilliant chance after terrific work from Mason Mount.

Yet for all Chelsea's threat, it was United who had the lead when Martial headed in Aaron Wan-Bissaka's excellent cross.

Chelsea thought they had equalised when Kurt Zouma tucked home from a corner, only for VAR to disallow the goal for Cesar Azpilicueta's push on Brandon Williams.

And, after Fernandes had struck the woodwork with a superb free-kick, Chelsea's frustrations were compounded as Maguire headed beyond Willy Caballero.

Giroud's header seemed to have set up a grandstand finish, but VAR again came to United's rescue. Mount then hit the post as the Blues' efforts proved fruitless, with Caballero preventing substitute Odion Ighalo netting a debut goal in stoppage time.

 

N'Golo Kante's injury-hit campaign continued after the Chelsea midfielder was forced off early on against Manchester United on Monday.

Kante, who was out with a hamstring problem in January and missed several games earlier in the season with groin and ankle issues, made way after 12 minutes at Stamford Bridge. 

It was not clear what the problem was for the 28-year-old, who has made 18 Premier League appearances for Frank Lampard's team and was replaced by Mason Mount.

The injury comes ahead of important fixtures for Chelsea, who face Tottenham on Saturday and Bayern Munich in the first leg Champions League of their last-16 tie three days later.

Manchester United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer should be worrying about things other than Paul Pogba, according to the player's agent Mino Raiola.

Raiola said last week he and Pogba would decide whether the World Cup winner will remain at Old Trafford at the end of the season, having stated the midfielder would be open to a return to Juventus.

Solskjaer responded by saying he was sure the 26-year-old, who has been sidelined by an ankle injury since December, still wanted to play for United. He added: "Paul is our player, not Mino's."

Raiola hit back at the Red Devils manager on social media, suggesting he focus his attention elsewhere amid reports United are lining up potential replacements as manager.

"Paul is not mine and for sure not Solskjaer's property, Paul is Paul Pogba's. You cannot own a human being already for a long time in the UK or anywhere else. I HOPE Solskjaer DO NOT WANT TO SUGGEST THAT PAUL IS HIS PRISONER," Raiola wrote.

"BUT BEFORE Solskjaer makes comments about things I say he should inform himself better about the content of what has been said.

"I am a free citizen who can think and express my thoughts. Until now I was maybe to [sic] nice to him. Solskjaer should just remember things that he said in the summer to Paul.

"I think Solskjaer may be frustrated for different reasons and is now mixing up some issues.

"I think that Solskjaer has other things to worry about. AT LEAST IF I WAS HIM I WOULD."

Eric Bailly was set to make his first start of the season after being named in Manchester United's line-up to face Chelsea, who were without Tammy Abraham.

Bailly has been gradually making his way back from a knee injury sustained in pre-season and was included in Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's XI for Monday's Premier League clash at Stamford Bridge.

The Ivory Coast defender replaced the unwell Victor Lindelof for his first appearance of the season across all competitions and his first in the top flight since April 2019.

Bailly was named alongside Harry Maguire and Luke Shaw in what appeared to be a back three for United, with Daniel James partnering Anthony Martial up front and Odion Ighalo on the bench.

United, who beat Chelsea 4-0 on the opening day of the season, have also been boosted by Abraham's absence for the home side, with the Blues' leading scorer missing out due to an injury suffered in a 2-2 draw with Arsenal in January.

Abraham played with a painkilling injection in Chelsea's draw with Leicester City prior to the mid-season break but did not make the cut this time and Michy Batshuayi came in for his first league start of 2019-20.

Frank Lampard also kept faith with Willy Caballero in goal as Kepa Arrizabalaga once again started on the bench, while Mateo Kovacic and Willian replaced Mason Mount and Callum Hudson-Odoi respectively.

Arsene Wenger backed the ban UEFA handed down to Manchester City for breaching Financial Fair Play (FFP) regulations but acknowledged some "evolution" is needed in the rules.

UEFA announced on Friday that City had been handed a two-season suspension from European competition and a €30million fine for breaching their FFP framework.

The club have since confirmed they will appeal the decision at the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS).

Former Arsenal boss Wenger is in favour of capping finances but believes further work is needed to ensure there can be no questioning the legality of certain actions.

However, he was in no doubt that clubs deemed to have contravened the regulations deserve punishment.

"I was always for control of the financial rules. Let the clubs work with the natural income they have," said Wenger, who now works for FIFA as its chief of global football development.

"I'm convinced that there is an evolution to be made in the way the rules are at the moment. But they are what they are and you have to respect them.

"People who don't respect them and are caught trying to get around the rules in more or less legal ways have to be punished. If it's proven that this has been done on purpose then this cannot go unpunished.

"Sport is about winning by respecting the rules. If there's no respect for the rules, it's not real sport, which is what I think is most important."

The ban imposed by UEFA has led to speculation over the future of some of City's star players, as well as coach Pep Guardiola.

However, Guardiola has reportedly told the players he will remain at the club regardless of the outcome of the appeal to CAS.

Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has challenged loan signing Odion Ighalo to earn a permanent stay at the club.

Ighalo joined United on a temporary deal on deadline day, as the club desperately sought a short-term solution to Marcus Rashford's serious injury, which is expected to keep him out until April.

While Bournemouth's Josh King was considered by United, with Eddie Howe confirming the club made an approach, Shanghai Shenhua-owned Ighalo was the striker they chose.

Although the Nigerian only joined on loan, Solskjaer sees no reason why securing a permanent contract should be seen as beyond the 30-year-old.

"It's a loan, but when you're in the door, and if you impress, it gives you a chance," Solskjaer said. "That's exactly the same for everyone who signs.

"If it's permanent or if it's a loan, if you impress as a player, if you impress as a person, if you can help this group improve, of course there's a chance we'll look at extending things.

"That doesn't just go for Odion but, yes, his incentive is to play as well as he can and it's up to us to make sure he wants to stay, if we want him."

United critics suggested Ighalo was a desperate last-ditch signing by the club, particularly given they were said to be chasing the sought-after Erling Haaland prior to his Borussia Dortmund move.

But Solskjaer dismissed that notion and is optimistic Ighalo will hush his doubters.

"Don't go down that route now," Solskjaer responded. "He's a loan player that we're very happy with having here. Hopefully he'll prove to you what I think he will. He's a proven goalscorer, so he'll do all right.

"I'm very happy with the two guys we brought in and it's not just us and Chelsea. But to finally have got Bruno [Fernandes] over the line, to have signed him after following him for so long, and just seeing what he can give us and what he will give us, has been great. And it will be great to integrate Odion as well."

Ighalo is expected to make his United debut against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge on Monday but is not thought to be in contention for a starting spot after training away from the first-team squad due to coronavirus fears.

Steven Gerrard is "really, really interested" to see if action will be taken against Manchester City amid reports a Premier League punishment could see them stripped of their 2013-14 title.

On Friday, City were hit with a two-season ban from European competition and a €30million fine by UEFA for "serious breaches" of its Financial Fair Play regulations.

The club have denied any wrongdoing and immediately announced their intention to lodge an appeal against the ruling with the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

A domestic punishment is one possible outcome as the Premier League conducts its own investigation to see if its rules were broken in the four-year period in question, between 2012 and 2016.

The Citizens won the Premier League in 2013-14, finishing two points ahead of Liverpool, meaning any potential retrospective points deduction could benefit the Reds and their former captain, Gerrard.

But with the process set to be a lengthy one, Gerrard is not getting ahead of himself.

"I read that myself," the Rangers manager told reporters when it was put to him that City could face domestic action as a result of their alleged indiscretions.

"We will wait and see. From a UEFA point of view, it is obviously a real strong sentence or punishment. I'm sure they will appeal so we will wait and see what the outcome is on that.

"Then we will see whether the Premier League act from there, but if you look at the severity of the punishment from UEFA, something has gone badly wrong.

"So, I'm really interested to see the outcome of that. Until the [potential] punishment from the Premier League, I won't comment further. But I'm really, really interested in it...for obvious reasons.

"It's all ifs and buts. It is what it is. Manchester City were champions. As I sit here right now, congratulations to them. They are champions. Until things develop, if they develop, it's all ifs and buts.

"I've got nothing to say on the matter. All I say is I'm very interested because of the severity of what UEFA have put out there."

The probe into City's financial affairs was prompted by a series of allegations published by German magazine Der Spiegel in November 2018, which drew on documents purportedly obtained by whistleblowers Football Leaks.

Following an investigation, the Adjudicatory Chamber of UEFA's Club Financial Control Body found City guilty of "overstating its sponsorship revenue in its accounts and in the break-even information submitted to UEFA between 2012 and 2016", allegations the club denied.

Virgil van Dijk is the key reason Liverpool have surpassed Manchester City in the Premier League pecking order, according to Ruud Gullit.

Netherlands international Van Dijk has been an inspiration for the Reds since joining them from Southampton for a reported £75million in January 2018.

He helped Liverpool to Champions League success last season and the club now lead champions City by 25 points in an extraordinary top-flight campaign, with the defender an ever-present in their 26 matches.

His compatriot Gullit, speaking ahead of the Laureus World Sports Awards, believes the crucial aspect has been Van Dijk's play, coupled with City's struggles to find a reliable defensive option.

"In order to win, all the best teams have a good defence," Gullit said to Omnisport. 

"At Barcelona, with Carles Puyol at the back, they had a good defence. 

"If you don't have that then you can attack all you like but you're always conceding a lot of goals. 

"Pep Guardiola bought four central defenders and they couldn't do it. That was unlucky also with injuries but it is a stable factor to have defenders that can do the things that you need to do.

"A lot of teams don't defend well. So, with Van Dijk, that was an issue that was done [solved]."

He added: "Van Dijk was an example that I was right in Holland. If I say you have to learn how to defend people say, 'You're always with the defending' and things like that.

"But that's where it all started. Now they say you're right, [you can have success] if you have a good defender, and the good thing is it was a Dutch defender." 

Liverpool are away to Atletico Madrid on Tuesday in the first leg of their Champions League last-16 tie after their 1-0 away win at Norwich City last time out.

Former Manchester United goalkeeper Harry Gregg, a survivor of the 1958 Munich air disaster, has died at the age of 87.

Gregg, who had only been at United for two months at the time of the crash, became known as the "Hero of Munich" after returning to the burning wreckage to rescue Vera Lukic, the pregnant wife of a Yugoslav diplomat, and her young daughter.

He went back to pull out team-mates Bobby Charlton and Dennis Viollet, while assisting manager Matt Busby and fellow Northern Ireland international Jackie Blanchflower.

His death was announced by the Harry Gregg Foundation on Facebook.

"It is with great sorrow that we inform of the death of Manchester United and Northern Ireland legend Harry Gregg, OBE," a statement read.

"Harry passed away peacefully in hospital surrounded by his loving family."

United posted on Twitter to say: "It is with deepest sadness that we have learned of the passing of former player Harry Gregg OBE. 

"The thoughts and prayers of everyone at the club go out to Harry’s family and friends."

The disaster occurred when a plane carrying Gregg and his United team-mates – known as "the Busby Babes" – crashed in heavy snow after several aborted take-offs.

In total, 23 people died including eight United players and seven of the club's backroom staff. Eight newspaper journalists were also among the victims.

United signed Gregg from Doncaster Rovers for a then world-record fee for a goalkeeper in December 1957 and he made 247 appearances for the club.

Gregg also represented Northern Ireland at the 1958 World Cup, where he was named the best goalkeeper of the tournament.

Pep Guardiola's future at Manchester City continues to dominate discussions – and it seemingly still remains unclear.

Talk around the Spaniard has intensified after City were handed a two-season Champions League ban by UEFA for "serious breaches" of Financial Fair Play rules, although they deny wrongdoing and intend to appeal.

But will Guardiola, who is contracted at the Etihad Stadium until 2021, stay or go?

 

TOP STORY – GUARDIOLA TO STAY AT MAN CITY DESPITE BAN

Guardiola will remain at City next season whether they have their ban overturned or not, according to the Mirror.

However, Tuttosport reports the chances of the former Barcelona head coach leaving City are "70 per cent".

Guardiola has reportedly suggested previously he intends to honour his contract at City.

ROUND-UP

- Chelsea are making their move for Jadon Sancho. France Football reports the Premier League club have started talks with the Borussia Dortmund star, who has attracted interest from numerous European giants, including Manchester United.

- Staying at Stamford Bridge and Chelsea are set to pay £23million (€27.7m) for Inter midfielder Matias Vecino at the end of the season, according to the Daily Express.

- After strong links during the close season, Bayern Munich's interest in Manchester City attacker Leroy Sane has cooled, according to Kicker. Sane tore his anterior cruciate ligament in August.

- Staying at Bayern and Kicker reports the Bundesliga giants are keeping tabs on Liverpool's interest in RB Leipzig forward Timo Werner. Werner has been linked with the European giants after scoring 20 goals in 22 Bundesliga games this season.

- Alexander Isak's form for Real Sociedad this season is leading to interest, but Mundo Deportivo reports clubs wanting the forward at the end of the campaign must pay €70m. Former club Borussia Dortmund reportedly have an option to buy Isak for €30m, but that only comes into play in 2021.

- Real Valladolid defender Mohammed Salisu has impressed this season and the 20-year-old is on Atletico Madrid's radar, according to Marca.

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