EPL

BREAKING NEWS: Van Dijk set for surgery on knee injury

By Sports Desk October 18, 2020

Liverpool have confirmed Virgil van Dijk has damaged ligaments in his knee and is likely to miss most of the rest of the season.

The Netherlands international is set to undergo surgery on an injury sustained in the first half of the 2-2 Merseyside derby draw following a challenge by Everton goalkeeper Jordan Pickford.

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  • Solskjaer 'delighted' with Tuanzebe's versatility and leadership qualities Solskjaer 'delighted' with Tuanzebe's versatility and leadership qualities

    Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has praised Axel Tuanzebe for his display against Paris Saint-Germain and backed the defender to have a long and successful career at Manchester United.

    Academy product Tuanzebe earned rave reviews for stifling Angel Di Maria, Kylian Mbappe and Neymar in Tuesday's 2-1 Champions League win at the Parc des Princes.

    The 22-year-old was playing for the first time in 10 months after battling back from injury and started on the right of a three-man defence, alongside Victor Lindelof and Luke Shaw.

    He made an unrivalled seven clearances – Layvin Kurzawa and Scott McTominay's four being the next best total on the pitch – and won both of his aerial duels in an impressive defensive performance in Paris.

    Solskjaer has now challenged Tuanzebe, who has previously spent time on loan at Aston Villa, to maintain that level to become a first-team regular at Old Trafford.

    "It was a great performance by a kid who's not played for 10 months," he said. "I'm delighted for him because he is such a professional character.

    "He wants everything, he works really hard, has been really, really thorough in his rehab, and I am very pleased for him.

    "Now it's about getting consistency in his performances – he's also got to stay injury-free, so we have to manage that.

    "That's my job, his job and the physio staff's job, of course. But I think he can kick on."

    Tuanzebe has made 10 Premier League appearances for United since his debut in January 2017 and has averaged 2.19 interceptions per game in that time.

    That is more than any other current United player, with Eric Bailly (2.11) and Harry Maguire (1.93) next best from 44 and 42 games respectively.

    He also tops the charts in terms of his tackle-success rate, albeit from far fewer matches than his team-mates, all of which Solskjaer believes stands him in good stead.

    "He can do most things and is such a leader," Solskjaer said ahead of Saturday's home league meeting with Chelsea.

    "He can play right-back, centre-back, central midfield – he can play many positions and he's a boy who takes responsibility for his own development 

    "I'm sure he's doing everything he can to have a long career at United. So hopefully we can get that consistency."

    Donny van de Beek is another who will be hoping to start this weekend as United look to win three straight top-flight meetings against Chelsea for the first time since 1965.

    The Netherlands international has been restricted to four substitute appearances in the Premier League so far and Solskjaer reiterated the importance of giving him more time to settle.

    "Donny is fit enough but of course it's about competition for places," he said. "It's about giving him time to settle in and adjust to his new team-mates. It's a new league.

    "He's an absolutely top footballer and top personality. So humble and hardworking, but also he's of course eager to play more. 

    "You'll see him throughout the season – it's going to be a long, long season and you'll see him. He has impressed me."

  • Win over 'big rival' Chelsea would be huge for Man Utd, says Mata Win over 'big rival' Chelsea would be huge for Man Utd, says Mata

    Juan Mata feels a win over Chelsea would take on added importance for Manchester United as they continue to fight back from a difficult start to the season.

    Away victories against Newcastle United and Paris Saint-Germain have boosted Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's side as they look to put the 6-1 home humbling against Tottenham behind them.

    United host Frank Lampard's team on Saturday and are looking to win three consecutive top-flight meetings against Chelsea for the first time since September 1965 under Matt Busby.

    The Blues are winless in their last seven Premier League outings at Old Trafford, but Mata is aware of the threat posed by his former club, particularly after adding Timo Werner, Kai Havertz, Ben Chilwell, Hakim Ziyech and Thiago Silva in a busy transfer window.

    "Of course we are aware of their dangers, as we know they have signed many very good and important players," Mata told the Pitch to Post podcast.

    "Attacking-wise, defending-wise they have got a great squad. So we know what they are capable of and we need to be ready for that.

    "But also we need to think we are playing at home and if we play our football hopefully we'll have chances and create scoring opportunities to get the three points. 

    "And of course, they're a big rival for us because they're challenging for what we're challenging. A victory against them will be important, although we know it's difficult."

    Mata also praised his old team-mate Lampard, adding:  "You could feel from the first day that I arrived to Chelsea's dressing room that he was a very intelligent man.

    "He knew a lot about football and he understood the game really well as a player. You could imagine that he would be a very good manager, like he's showing now."

    Only once in their league history – in 1930 – have United lost each of their opening three home league games, but Mata is more confident after wins in the top flight and on the continent.

    "It was exactly what we needed after the defeat at home," he said about the Newcastle and PSG triumphs.

    "You want the next game to come quickly but unfortunately there was the international break, so we prepared really well, we trained hard over that week and then we got two very good performances.

    "So we're very happy with the week – but we want to keep this momentum going."

  • Ex-Man Utd players don't know what they're talking about – Solskjaer defends 'fantastic' Greenwood Ex-Man Utd players don't know what they're talking about – Solskjaer defends 'fantastic' Greenwood

    Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has denied reports that young forward Mason Greenwood has been overlooked for selection recently after repeatedly turning up late for training.

    Greenwood was not part of the squad for United's victories over Newcastle United and Paris Saint-Germain, owing to what Solskjaer put down to a "niggle".

    The 19-year-old was sent home from England duty last month for breaching coronavirus protocols and subsequently dropped by Gareth Southgate for this month's triple-header.

    Reports suggested Solskjaer had grown frustrated with the teenage academy product and warned the youngster about his punctuality.

    However, speaking ahead of Saturday's clash with Chelsea, the United boss dismissed those claims and took aim at the media.

    "I'm not concerned at all with Mason making a target for himself," Solskjaer said. "He came in, played fantastic, played in the league for the first time against Tottenham and was brilliant. 

    "He kicked on and he makes a mistake for England and suddenly the English press go after him. He's never ever late for training. I've seen some ex-United players talking about him and they don't know what they're talking about. 

    "He's got a good family behind him and he's a good trainer. I cannot believe all these stories about him not being professional. That's something we have to deal with many players, many other players at United have had that."

    Greenwood has made 37 Premier League appearances for United since his debut in March 2019, scoring 10 times, assisting one and laying on 10 chances for his team-mates.

    Solskjaer confirmed the youngster is back in contention to face Chelsea this weekend, while new signing Edinson Cavani is in line to make his debut and Harry Maguire is also fit again after missing the trip to PSG.

    "I hope and expect all three of them to be available," he said. "We've got a training session this morning which is the last chance of preparation. They've all got a chance.

    "Edinson needs to tick all the boxes that he's gone through in his programme to be ready and make an impact. I'll have a discussion with him, Mason and Harry today."

    United are playing at Old Trafford for the first time since losing 6-1 to Tottenham three weeks ago – their joint heaviest defeat in the Premier League.

    They have since beaten Newcastle and PSG in back-to-back away games, but Solskjaer admitted nothing will exorcise the demons from the humiliating loss to Spurs.

    "I don't think anything will erase that memory – it'll always be in the history books and we have always got to live with having that result," he said. 

    "You can look back at different reasons why we had that result but we have got to move forward.

    "It's happened so many times at this club that you have results out of the blue or setbacks, so far we have bounced back well.

    "It's very important for players that if you lose games you're determined to win, to bounce back, and I saw that focus at Newcastle and PSG.

    "It gives you more belief and confidence, two good performances and results but the next game is what we're focused on."

    United are unbeaten in their last seven league meetings with Chelsea and won this corresponding fixture 4-0 on the opening weekend of last season, but Solskjaer is anticipating a difficult game.

    "We know it’s gonna be tough against Chelsea – two teams that know each other really well," Solskjaer said.

    "Addressing our home form is key. The whole lockdown period has made us do things differently at home so we may need to find a different way to beat them."

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