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

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

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

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

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

"I'll be looking forward to facing him on Sunday. Obviously, I hope to come out on top."

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

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

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

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

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

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

David de Gea's fitness will be assessed ahead of Manchester United's Premier League clash with Liverpool, which Paul Pogba will miss.

Goalkeeper De Gea appeared to suffer a groin injury during Spain's 1-1 draw with Sweden in Euro 2020 qualifying on Tuesday.

Pogba, meanwhile, has been hampered by an ankle injury this season and played only twice for United in September.

He had taken part in warm-weather training in Dubai this week but will be reduced to the role of spectator on Sunday as United aim to deal their great rivals a first league defeat of the season.

Solskjaer does not expect De Gea to be fit for the visit of the league leaders but will wait on the results of tests on the 28-year-old. Sergio Romero would likely deputise in his absence.

"No chance," Solskjaer said to Sky Sports of Pogba's hopes of playing in the fixture.

"Paul, he had an injury, came back, worked really hard, came back, played a couple of games, maybe played through the pain barrier.

"We had a scan after the Arsenal game and he needed a few weeks' rest in a boot. Hopefully he won't be too long but he won't make this game."

United go into this weekend's game in 12th position and 15 points behind Liverpool, who are eight points clear at the top having taken maximum points from their first eight league games.

David de Gea's fitness will be assessed ahead of Manchester United's Premier League clash with Liverpool, which Paul Pogba will miss.

Goalkeeper De Gea appeared to suffer a groin injury during Spain's 1-1 draw with Sweden in Euro 2020 qualifying on Tuesday.

Pogba, meanwhile, has been hampered by an ankle injury this season and played only twice for United in September.

He had taken part in warm-weather training in Dubai this week but will be reduced to the role of spectator on Sunday as United aim to deal their great rivals a first league defeat of the season.

Solskjaer does not expect De Gea to be fit for the visit of the league leaders but waill wait on the results of tests on the 28-year-old. Sergio Romero would likely deputise in his absence.

"No chance," Solskjaer said to Sky Sports of Pogba's hopes of playing in the fixture.

"Paul, he had an injury, came back, worked really hard, came back, played a couple of games, maybe played through the pain barrier.

"We had a scan after the Arsenal game and he needed a few weeks rest in a boot. Hopefully he won't be too long but he won't make this game."

 

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has confirmed David de Gea and Paul Pogba will miss Manchester United's Premier League clash with Liverpool on Sunday.

Everton midfielder Jean-Philippe Gbamin is facing a further three months on the sidelines after undergoing surgery on his right thigh, the Premier League club have announced.

The 24-year-old sustained a tendon injury in August and has featured just twice for Everton since joining from Bundesliga club Mainz.

Gbamin resumed light training earlier this month but suffered a setback on his return from injury and was operated on in France on Tuesday.

A statement on Everton's official website read: "Everton Football Club can confirm that Jean-Philippe Gbamin has undergone surgery on a tendon injury in his right quadriceps muscle, which will keep the midfielder out of action for around three months."

Gbamin, signed as a reported £25million replacement for Idrissa Gueye, will continue his rehabilitation with Everton's medical staff at the Finch Farm training base.

Marco Silva's side are 18th in the Premier League following just two wins in their opening eight matches.

Leicester City, West Ham and Valencia all tried to sign Mohamed Elneny from Arsenal during the transfer window, according to the midfielder's agent.

Elneny swapped Arsenal for Besiktas on a season-long loan in August after falling down the midfield pecking order at Emirates Stadium.

The Egypt international was also said to be wanted by other clubs, while reports in Italy this week suggested AC Milan may make an approach in the January window.

"He received a lot of offers last summer, led by Leicester City, West Ham and Valencia, but Besiktas managed to settle the deal with Arsenal," agent Alan Nazmy told Egyptian TV channel Time Sport.

"Milan and Roma previously tried to sign the player during the last winter transfer window, but the negotiations didn't work then, and he received more than one offer as well."

Asked about fresh rumoured interest from Milan, Nazmy said: "I can't talk about it."

Elneny made 89 appearances for Arsenal in all competitions after joining from Swiss side FC Basel in 2016, including 17 outings last season.

Arsenal boss Unai Emery allowed the 27-year-old to leave following the arrival of Dani Ceballos and emergence of academy product Joe Willock, but the door has not been closed on a return next year.

"Emery didn't ask for his departure from Arsenal because of his performance," Nazmy said. "He demanded that [Elneny] took a chance to develop his performance and return again.

"It is possible for him to play with Arsenal again. It still remains a strong possibility."

Eric Dier has called on everyone connected with Tottenham to "embrace" the situation of being labelled a crisis club as they fight to get their campaign back on track.

Tottenham entered the two-week international break on the back of a 3-0 loss to Brighton and Hove Albion, leaving them ninth in the Premier League.

Mauricio Pochettino's side were also beaten 7-2 by Bayern Munich in the Champions League earlier this month and were knocked out of the EFL Cup on penalties by League Two side Colchester United.

Tottenham return to action on Saturday with a home match against Watford, and Dier, who started his first league match of the campaign against Brighton, is determined there will be a positive response.

"To be honest, after Brighton, I wanted to play again the next day," Dier told the club's official website. "It's never nice going into an international break on that note and having to wait this long.

"At the same time, it gives you time to settle and put your emotions in the right place. Hopefully that's what we'll do, and we can all push through this as a club. We need everyone - players, staff, fans - to stand up and push through this.

"I don't want us to be one of those teams that allows a situation like this [to] escalate and eventually bring us down. I want us to all stand up and push through it and that's the feeling from everyone here.

"We’re a very realistic group, very realistic about our situation and we know we need to do better."

Last season's beaten Champions League finalists have won just three of their 11 matches in all competitions this term, but Dier suggested the recent talk of a crisis at the club shows just how far they have come under Pochettino.

"For me, the main thing is we've been working all together - okay, some people have gone, some people have come in - but working all together over the last five years to get to the point where this is the conversation when you lose two games on the trot," he said.

"We've wanted to get to the point where we are considered a team that if you lose two games like that, you come in for a lot of criticism. Now, we have to embrace the situation.

"We've got to this point and now we need to... as I said to the press after the Brighton game, we can't back down, we need to push forward, push through it, fight through it, everyone together.

"It's always been one of this team's strengths, coming together and getting ourselves out of difficult situations in games, in tough periods. We've shown that so many times and my drive, and everyone's drive, is to get us out of this situation as well.”

Sergio Aguero was unhurt after being involved in a minor car crash on his way to Manchester City training on Wednesday, Omnisport understands.

Aguero, 31, did not need medical attention and was able to train as normal ahead of facing Crystal Palace in the Premier League on Saturday.

He posted a photo on his Instagram account showing the damage sustained to his Range Rover in the incident.

The Argentinian striker's image shows the driver's side front wheel almost horizontal, while the wheel arch and front bumper sustained significant damage.

Aguero accompanied the image with a caption reading: "What a great morning".

Aguero was not involved for Argentina in the international break but has scored eight Premier League goals so far this season, matching Tammy Abraham for the most in the division.

Cristiano Ronaldo should be regarded as the greatest footballer in history after reaching 700 career goals, according to his agent Jorge Mendes.

The five-time Ballon d'Or winner brought up his latest milestone for club and country when he dispatched a second-half penalty against Ukraine on Monday, taking his Portugal tally to 95.

The majority of Ronaldo's goals came during a storied spell with Real Madrid, for whom he scored 450 times after netting 118 for Manchester United.

Although Ronaldo is entering the twilight of his career at the age of 34, Mendes sees no sign of him slowing down at Juventus.

And there is even more still to come, the agent suggests.

"He is the strongest ever. For him, the best is yet to come and will arrive with the Juve jersey," Mendes told Tuttosport.

"The numbers do not lie and they illuminate the overwhelming way in which Cristiano Ronaldo shatters the records, which elevates him to the category of the best player in the history of football and with a big difference compared to the second [best].

"He's in that position for all that he has achieved in the service of the different clubs that he represented, either in England or in Spain or now in Italy, but also with the Portuguese national team.

"And the fact is that, with Cristiano Ronaldo, Portugal has already played in three finals, winning two."

Liverpool full-back Trent Alexander-Arnold has officially entered the Guinness World Record book for his haul of 12 assists in the Premier League last season.

The 21-year-old became an undisputed starter at right-back in the 2018-19 campaign, featuring 29 times as the Reds narrowly missed out on the Premier League title to Manchester City.

Alexander-Arnold's performances earned him a place in the Professional Footballers' Association (PFA) Premier League Team of the Year and he has also become a regular at international level for England.

His effectiveness in the final third has drawn most acclaim and his remarkable haul of 12 assists is a new record for a defender in the Premier League, going one better than his team-mate Andy Robertson, who managed 11 in the same season.

Alexander-Arnold, who also shone in Europe to help Liverpool win the Champions League, described it as "an unbelievably proud moment" to have surpassed the record previously held jointly by Everton duo Andy Hinchcliffe (1994-95) and Leighton Baines (2010-11).

"He [Robertson] probably thought he had the competition wrapped up! Near the end of the season we both hit really good form, we were both getting lots of assists and it was good to help the team in those games that we needed to win," Alexander-Arnold said after being presented with his accolade.

"It's an honour. I've always wanted to go forward and help the team to create as many chances as possible.

"It's obviously down to the lads to put the ball into the back of the net, because football is a team game and without them this record wouldn't be possible.

"It's an unbelievably proud moment for me and my family, and something I hope will stand for a few years."

Manchester City's title defence has not started according to plan, with the champions already trailing Liverpool by eight points.

Jurgen Klopp's side have won eight from eight in the Premier League, while City headed into the international break on the back of a surprise home defeat to Wolves.

For Pep Guardiola, City's defence has to be a huge concern, even though the former Barcelona boss has insisted the club will not be looking to replace the injured Aymeric Laporte in January.

Laporte is set to miss the majority of the season after sustaining an Anterior Cruciate Ligament injury in August, while Vincent Kompany has left a sizeable void in City's defence.

Nicolas Otamendi has been largely unconvincing, while John Stones has his own injury problems and Fernandinho – arguably the Premier League's best defensive midfielder – has had to fill in at the back.

Ahead of Saturday's trip to Selhurst Park to face Crystal Palace, we use Opta data to assess how Guardiola can patch up City's struggling defence.

 

RELIANCE ON OTAMENDI A CAUSE FOR CONCERN

Guardiola has not been helped by a spate of bad luck with injuries, especially with Laporte, who has been mightily impressive since his arrival from Athletic Bilbao in January 2018.

Stones, meanwhile, has been in and out of the side due to both injuries and form, with Kompany preferred for the run-in last season. Otamendi looked set to join Kompany in leaving the club in the off season, though has been a mainstay of City's back line, making seven league appearances and two more in the Champions League. 

The Argentine does boast a passing accuracy of 92.52 per cent, which is higher than Fernandinho or Laporte, while he has also lost possession 148 times fewer than the Frenchman.

While Otamendi has only featured in 25 Premier League matches since the start of last season, he does have a higher tackle, duel and aerial duel success rate than Laporte and only conceded 16 fouls.

However, the former Valencia man showed clear weaknesses in the defeat to Wolves, recklessly lunging in on Raul Jimenez in the build-up to the opener, while it was his mistake at Carrow Road which led to Norwich City's third goal in a 3-2 win for the Canaries.

Of the players who have played at the back for City since the start of 2018-19, only Otamendi (2) has made errors which directly resulted in a goal.

KOMPANY'S IMPACT UNDERESTIMATED?

City reportedly moved for Harry Maguire in the off season, only to baulk at Leicester City's asking price, which was eventually paid by cross-city rivals Manchester United.

However, the decision not to replace inspirational former captain Kompany, who scored a stunning goal against Leicester as he led City to the title last term, seemed a risky one.

City did not lose a single game in all competitions last season in which Kompany started, with the Belgian having been named in 13 Premier League line ups.

Kompany played 1,223 minutes in the top flight last term, making no errors resulting in a shot at goal, while managing an impressive pass accuracy of 93.07% behind only Stones in terms of City's defenders.

The 33-year-old lost possession 93 times, though, perhaps due to a lack of pace, did concede 17 fouls – more than Otamendi or Stones despite playing fewer games.

He was dribbled past by an opponent on only one occasion and, from the 18 matches he started in all competitions last season, City claimed 17 wins, conceding just 12 goals.

SETTLE ON STONES UNTIL JANUARY

The simple answer to City's problems is likely to get Laporte back fit and firing as soon as possible, given they have an 82 per cent win percentage with the 25-year-old starting in the Premier League since the start of last season, compared to 75% without.

However, for now Guardiola must find a defensive pairing he can stick with until January. Fernandinho and Otamendi have featured in the last three league matches, but against Wolves their lack of pace was exposed.

Stones should soon return to action and, though the England international's form has been criticised, his statistics make for promising reading.

The former Everton man has a tackle success rate of 75%, higher than any of City's other centre-backs, and has conceded just six fouls since the start of 2018-19.

If Stones can stay fit, he should be City's first-choice centre-back until the new year, with Otamendi and Fernandinho vying for the other spot.

London is still something of a home for Jose Mourinho and another job in the English capital could be on the horizon for the ex-Chelsea manager.

With Tottenham struggling for form and reports of discontent in the dressing room, Mauricio Pochettino's position is far from certain.

Mourinho has been out of a job since he was sacked by Manchester United in December and the Portuguese is reportedly waiting in the wings.

 

TOP STORY – SPURS SOUND OUT MOURINHO

Tottenham have made contact with Jose Mourinho amid uncertainty over manager Mauricio Pochettino, reports SoccerLink.

Pochettino's future in London is up in the air following Tottenham's poor start to the season, highlighted by a humiliating 7-2 Champions League loss to Bayern Munich.

While Pochettino is not facing the sack, Spurs have sounded out Mourinho about whether the former Chelsea and Manchester United boss would be interested.

 

ROUND-UP

- While Spurs target Mourinho, Manchester United appear to be closing in on Massimiliano Allegri. With Ole Gunnar Solskjaer struggling at Old Trafford, the Daily Mail reports ex-Juventus boss Allegri is preparing for the job and wants Patrice Evra to join him in Manchester.

Real Madrid will play the waiting game for Kylian Mbappe as Marca claims the Spanish giants have set a 2021 target date of trying to sign the Paris Saint-Germain star.

- According to Le10Sport, Atletico Madrid will look to sign Paris Saint-Germain veteran Edinson Cavani to a pre-contract agreement in January. Cavani's deal runs out at season's end and the Uruguay striker has been linked to Juventus and incoming MLS franchise Inter Miami.

- ESPN FC says Manchester United are ready to spend during the January transfer window following their poor start to the campaign. United are languishing in 12th after the departures of Romelu Lukaku, Alexis Sanchez and Ander Herrera.

Bayern Munich are tracking Freiburg star Luca Waldschmidt, claims Calciomercato. The 23-year-old forward made his debut for Germany this month.

- According to Tuttosport, AC Milan want €20million-rated Turkey international Mehmet Zeki Celik from Lille. La Gazzetta dello Sport reports the Rossoneri are also interested in a January move for Arsenal's Mohamed Elneny, who is on loan at Besiktas.

David de Gea suffered an abductor injury during Spain's Euro 2020 qualification-sealing draw in Sweden, head coach Robert Moreno confirmed.

De Gea hobbled off after an hour of the 1-1 draw at the Friends Arena, where substitute Rodrigo Moreno came off the bench to snatch an equaliser in stoppage time on Tuesday.

The news comes as a huge blow to Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer ahead of Sunday's highly anticipated showdown against Premier League leaders Liverpool at Old Trafford.

"De Gea was treated at the break and decided to continue," Moreno explained after the United star appeared discomforted following a first-half clearance.

"He has a puncture in the abductor."

Spain generally struggled for their fluent best during this international break, with a 1-1 draw against Norway in their previous match coming in parallel circumstances as Josh King pegged them back through a last-gasp penalty.

"The same result, one day it tastes like victory and the other one like defeat," Moreno said.

"I am happy with the team's game and with the players I have. It was a difficult game against a rival that eliminated great teams in the World Cup. We are very happy "

Moreno took charge of Spain full-time after Luis Enrique stepped down in June to spend time with his family.

The former Barcelona coach's daughter Xana died in August aged nine, having suffered from osteosarcoma – a rare form of bone cancer.

"When you become a high-level team, like Spain, it is an obligation to qualify you," Moreno added.

"I want to remember Luis Enrique and his family and dedicate the qualification to them."

David de Gea was forced off through injury during Spain's Euro 2020 qualifier in Sweden – making him a huge doubt for Manchester United's weekend showdown with rivals Liverpool.

Goalkeeper De Gea made a number of fine saves at the Friends Arena on Tuesday, including a fabulous double stop that immediately preceded Marcus Berg's 50th-minute opener for the hosts.

But the damage appeared to have already been done at that stage, with 28-year-old appearing to be discomforted by his groin following a first-half clearance.

Chelsea's Kepa Arrizabalaga warmed up extensively during half-time and De Gea made way with an hour played.

De Gea has been an ever-present for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's men in the England's top flight this season, although Sergio Romero will now be on standby to step in for United against the Premier League leaders.

Claudio Ranieri does not fear history will repeat itself after comparisons were drawn between Sampdoria's predicament and the one he faced at Fulham. 

The 67-year-old has taken the reins at a club residing bottom of Serie A, with the Blucerchiati posting just three points from their opening seven games to cost Eusebio Di Francesco his job.

Fulham were also rooted to the foot of the Premier League table when the Italian took charge in November 2018, but he was dismissed after winning only three of his 17 games at the helm. 

However, Ranieri considers the task at the Stadio Luigi Ferraris to be vastly different from the one he took on at Craven Cottage. 

"Sampdoria are not Fulham. Don't forget, Fulham were a newly promoted club with players who had never been in the Premier League," he said.

"In the January transfer window, they followed the advice of algorithms. This is totally different. Sampdoria have played good football and are struggling, so now need the desire to fight hard.

"The quality towards the lower half of the table has improved significantly, which adds difficulties to us, but is also a sign that Italian football is returning to the top level."

It is Ranieri's birthday on Sunday and he will mark the occasion with a home match against his former employers and the club he supports, Roma.

"I am a Roma supporter, but have always appreciated Samp," he said, having also succeeded Di Francesco at Stadio Olimpico. 

"I was happy when they won the Scudetto [in 1991] and disappointed during the European Cup Final defeat at Wembley [in 1992]. I respect Di Francesco and hope he finds a new role as soon as possible.

"As for facing Roma on my debut – and my birthday – it's all wonderful. Naturally, when we step on to that pitch, there is no love, but only professionalism. May the best team win, we will try to give our best."

 

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