Freddie Ljungberg is keen to get record signing Nicolas Pepe on track after a misfiring start at Arsenal.

Pepe moved to Emirates Stadium from Lille for £72million in August, but the 24-year-old winger only has a solitary goal to show for his efforts in 12 Premier League appearances.

During Ljungberg's first game as interim head coach, Sunday's 2-2 draw at Norwich City, Pepe looked on as an unused substitute and he last started a top-flight match against Crystal Palace at the end of October.

Nevertheless, with Brighton and Hove Albion the next visitors to north London on Thursday, Ljungberg wants to help the Ivory Coast international reboot his fledgling Gunners career.

"Nico is someone who is a very, very good player. Sometimes when you come from a different league it takes time to adapt – on the pitch and off the pitch," the ex-Highbury favourite told reporters.

"I plan on having a little chat with him about how he feels. He's an important football player but that [the content of the conversation] will remain between me and him.

"I just think it's a new country, a new way of playing. I'm just going to have a little chat with him about what I expect from how I want to play."

While Pepe's problem is his form at Arsenal, Ljungberg's concerns for 20-year-old striker Eddie Nketiah centre on his lack of game time during his ongoing loan spell at Leeds United.

Nketiah's 11 Championship appearances and three league goals for Marcelo Bielsa's side have come from the bench and Ljungberg, who worked in Arsenal's youth setup before stepping up to the first-team coaching staff this season, questioned the benefit of his current predicament.

"I need to be careful [about what I say]. I think Eddie is a great football player," he said, with Arsenal drawn to face Leeds in the third round of the FA Cup next month.

"People who go on loan, we want them to play football and get minutes, otherwise they can maybe be here.

"The minutes are why we want them to be on loan. I feel a bit sorry for him because he's a great, great player. The future of this club.

"When he's had his chance he's scored goals. That's what Eddie's about."

Whether a recall for Nketiah or new signings are on the agenda, Ljungberg is not keen to involve himself in any January transfer window planning at this stage, given the temporary nature of his role.

"At the moment I'm just looking at the next game. We have Brighton," he added.

"I don't look at the transfer window. If I'm there at that time then maybe it's a discussion to be had.

"But I'm here on a game to game basis and that's what I'm trying to fix."

A delighted Frank Lampard hailed his Chelsea players for returning to form following their miserable loss to West Ham with a vastly improved performance in Wednesday's 2-1 win over Aston Villa.

Goals from former Villa loanee Tammy Abraham and Mount proved enough to ensure Chelsea got back to winning ways after successive Premier League defeats, while the hosts should have won by a wider margin after creating a host of chances in the second half as Willian excelled.

Although Chelsea were unable to claim a third goal, their manager was buoyed by an encouraging display more in keeping with their general form this season, after they had struggled badly in Saturday's home defeat to West Ham.

Having seen his side strengthen their hold on fourth place, Lampard said: "I thought we were great. It was a really good performance.

"We played our game and I'm really, really pleased. That was us again. We had a blip against West Ham. We haven't had many of those this season. Even if we've lost, we've shown a lot in a lot of these games.

"The blip wasn't us at the weekend and today we were back. The disappointment of the day is we don't win by two or three clear goals, at least."

Mount, whose winning goal came courtesy of a delightful volley, agreed with the assessment of his boss.

Asked if Chelsea needed to deliver a response after their poor showing against West Ham, the England midfielder said: "It was something that we spoke about before the game.

"We knew that performance wasn’t good enough and we knew we needed to start winning more games at home and [producing] dominating performances.

"I thought we did that. We were aggressive, winning second balls and in the second half we really came alive and could have had more goals.

"I think all-round today it was much better. After the last performance at home, we knew we needed to up it and that's how it went."

Jose Mourinho might well have had empathy for his Manchester United successor Ole Gunnar Solskjaer had Tottenham raided Old Trafford for maximum spoils.

The Portuguese knows more than most about the scrutiny and pressure that comes with the United manager's job, himself seen off by an awful stretch this time last year that provided neither style nor substance.

For Solskjaer, Mourinho's return will be followed by a trip to Manchester City, and the twin fixtures looked a daunting dual threat to a team and manager who before the Tottenham game were winless in three across all competitions.

At kick-off, Solskjaer was second favourite with the bookmakers to be the next Premier League manager sacked, trailing only Marco Silva, the struggling Everton boss who could not ended his team's Anfield derby hoodoo.

But rather than bury the United great, Spurs - this uncharacteristically unpredictable early Mourinho outfit - granted Solskjaer a reprieve, with his future prospects also belatedly boosted by a determined home display.

Supporters certainly seemed to have Solskjaer's back, still raucously chanting his name throughout, and United had, in Marcus Rashford, the star of the show.

Greater concerns surely belonged to Tottenham fans.

The usual stingy defending of a Mourinho team has not yet replaced the haphazard backline efforts of the final throes of Mauricio Pochettino's reign, while even the encouraging attacking endeavours of matches one, two and three - 3-2, 4-2 and 3-2 wins - did not materialise here.

Dele Alli scored a masterful 39th-minute equaliser, teed up with a touch reminiscent of his breathtaking 2016 goal against Crystal Palace, but the rest of his work was of underwhelming 2018-19 humdrum.

Unable to get his recent star performer into the game, just about everything went against Mourinho besides that leveller.

At the same end of the stadium where little over a year earlier, three weeks before his departure, Mourinho fumed at a Rashford miss against Young Boys and drew the ire of United commentators, the England striker laid early siege to Paulo Gazzaniga's Spurs goal.

Rashford's first strike provided the opener, creeping under Gazzaniga at the goalkeeper's right-hand post. A free-kick from Rashford was then whipped wide, and Gazzaniga touched a magnificent long-range effort against the crossbar before batting away a fourth attempt from United's main threat.

Mourinho, meanwhile, took a blow to the knee as Harry Winks cynically chopped down Daniel James in front of the dugout - an incident that granted the Spurs head coach a greater role in proceedings to that point than Alli, stifled and increasingly frustrated.

The attacking midfielder's stunning strike should have roused Tottenham but half-time intervened, and then so too did Moussa Sissoko, a man who painfully knows a thing or two about conceding penalties early in halves.

The felled Rashford tucked away the spot-kick for his 12th club goal of the campaign and, again, it was difficult not to be reminded of Mourinho's failure to get the best out of such a gifted player. The striker represents one check next to Solskjaer's name.

Much huffing and puffing followed from both teams, with United just about on top, but neither outfit truly convinced that their issues are behind them.

Unlike at times under Mourinho, United were indeed united, battling until the final whistle - led by Fred and the returning Scott McTominay - to protect the advantage secured by Rashford. Three points should ensure Solskjaer sees out the week, while a reality check might serve Tottenham well.

There is work to do for both United and Mourinho, long since separated, but each at least seem happier than at this time 12 months ago.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer hailed a dominant first-half performance from Manchester United against Tottenham, describing it as his side's best display "for a long time".

United were winless in three in all competitions coming into a first meeting with Jose Mourinho since his sacking as their manager at Old Trafford.

But Solskjaer's men ended Mourinho's winning start at Spurs with a 2-1 success, scoring early in both halves through the inspired Marcus Rashford.

Dele Alli scored a wonderful equaliser six minutes before half-time, which Solskjaer acknowledged was tough to take after controlling the game to that point.

"Especially first half, that's probably the best we've played for a long time," he told Prime Video. "We dominated the game and could have, should have finished the game there and then.

"There were some great saves by their keeper, but they get the goal right before half-time and you think about getting in here, settling all the heads and going again."

The United manager added: "We're best when we're on the front foot, we're best when we attack quickly, we're best when we're aggressive. I thought the boys followed the plan and executed their skills all night."

Solskjaer praised a "fantastic performance" from Rashford, who drew several further saves from Paulo Gazzaniga.

Rashford was delighted to deliver against another 'Big Six' side, although he recognised United must still make progress against lesser opponents, having drawn with Sheffield United and Aston Villa in their previous two league matches. 

"I think that's the hardest we've had to work to get a result," he said. "But with the position we're in now, we want these games.

"We want to show people we can play against the top teams. We know we need to improve against the other teams. Game by game, we're trying to improve."

Divock Origi and Sadio Mane starred as Liverpool stormed to a 5-2 victory in a frantic Merseyside derby, handing Jurgen Klopp his 100th Premier League win.

Six goals were scored in a remarkable first half, with Liverpool - who started with Mohamed Salah and Roberto Firmino on the bench - supremely clinical in attack, Origi striking either side of Xherdan Shaqiri's first goal of the season.

Origi's second came after Michael Keane had pulled one back for Everton, but Mane - provider for Liverpool's first two goals - made it 4-1. Richarlison reduced the deficit again in first-half stoppage time, but it was not enough to inspire an Everton comeback after the break. 

Instead, Georginio Wijnaldum's late strike rounded out the scoring, leaving Marco Silva's future looks increasingly uncertain as Klopp's side extended their unbeaten league run to 32 matches, a new club record.

Origi, Liverpool's hero in the corresponding fixture last term, wasted little time in getting things started, coolly rounding Jordan Pickford after latching onto Mane's exquisite pass.

Mane was the recipient of an even better pass for Liverpool's second goal - Trent Alexander-Arnold picking out the winger with a sensational diagonal - that saw Shaqiri slide a low effort across Pickford and into the net.

Keane's neat finish over Adrian hauled Everton back into the contest in the 21st minute, only for Origi to restore Liverpool's two-goal cushion.

Liverpool rounded off their rampaging first-half display when Mane slotted in from the edge of the area at the culmination of another sweeping counter, yet Everton had a second when Richarlison diverted Bernard's cross home via his shoulder.

However, the second half did not match the frantic pace of the first. Substitute Moise Kean had a glorious chance to make Mane pay for missing two golden opportunities, but drilled wide when one-on-one with Adrian.

Wijnaldum showed no such profligacy, however, dealing the final blow to Silva's team as Liverpool remain eight points clear at the top thanks to a victory that sends Everton into the relegation zone.

 

What does it mean? Record-setting Klopp marks a stark contrast to despairing Silva

Just over a year ago, Everton - who have not won at the home of their neighbours in the top flight since September 1999 - were Liverpool's equals for much of the Anfield derby, only to be outdone by Pickford's calamitous error. 

But now, with Everton in the bottom three, Silva looks all set to be heading for the exit door. Opposite number Klopp, meanwhile, is the second quickest - after Jose Mourinho - to reach 100 Premier League victories.

Origi's derby run rolls on 

Liverpool's Champions League hero seems content with a back-up role, yet he seems to be the man to call on when it comes to derbies. The Belgium forward has managed five goals against Everton, leaving him behind only club legends Robbie Fowler and Steven Gerrard in the Premier League era.

Sidibe the fall guy for Silva's desperate roll of the dice

Djibril Sidibe had a torrid 35 minutes defensively, with Mane capitalising on the acres of space afforded to him by Everton's wing-back. In response, Silva elected to switch systems completely, replacing the France international with Bernard 10 minutes before the break, though it did little to stem the tide.

What's next?

Liverpool travel to the south coast to face struggling Bournemouth on Saturday, with Everton hosting Chelsea at Goodison Park.

Liverpool have set an outright record for the longest top-flight unbeaten run in their history after a 5-2 Merseyside derby victory over Everton extended their stunning Premier League streak to 32 matches without defeat.

Domestic runners-up to Manchester City last term, Liverpool sit eight points clear of Leicester City at the top of the table courtesy of a pulsating triumph over their local rivals as six of the seven goals in Wednesday's clash at Anfield came in the first half.

Jurgen Klopp's men have now surpassed the stretch of 31 unbeaten matches achieved under Kenny Dalglish from May 1987 to March 1988. Only Arsenal (49) and Chelsea (40) have managed longer runs without losing in Premier League history.

Wednesday's win also saw Klopp reach a notable milestone as he brought up his 100th Premier League victory in his 159th game in charge - becoming the second-fastest to the landmark ahead of the likes of Alex Ferguson (162), Arsene Wenger (179) and Rafael Benitez (181).

Jose Mourinho needed only 142 games to record 100 wins during his first stint as Chelsea boss, while Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola is on course to comfortably break that record. Tuesday's 4-1 win at Burnley was Guardiola's 97th Premier League win in just his 129th match.

 

Fastest managers to 100 Premier League wins

Jose Mourinho - 142 matches

Jurgen Klopp - 159

Alex Ferguson - 162

Arsene Wenger - 179

Rafael Benitez - 181

Claudio Ranieri - 187

Gerard Houllier, Kenny Dalglish, Mauricio Pochettino - 197

Marcus Rashford netted a double as Manchester United earned a 2-1 Premier League win at home to Tottenham on Jose Mourinho's return to Old Trafford.

Spurs had won their three matches across all competitions since Mourinho was appointed as Mauricio Pochettino's replacement last month, but they slipped to defeat on Wednesday after a below-par showing.

Rashford put United ahead and, after a superb individual effort from Dele Alli levelled the scores, the striker converted a penalty to end United's three-game winless run.

Victory moves Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's men above Spurs and into the top six in the table, denying Mourinho - sacked by United a year ago - the chance to be the first Tottenham manager to win his first three Premier League games in charge.

United took the lead in the sixth minute, Rashford profiting from a series of ricochets to beat Paulo Gazzaniga at his near post, the goalkeeper making a poor effort to keep the shot out.

Gazzaniga improved by blocking a Mason Greenwood strike before tipping Rashford's swerving long-range drive on to the crossbar as United continued to dominate.

Spurs equalised out of nowhere before the break, though, Alli's sensational first touch deceiving both Fred and Ashley Young, with the midfielder then slotting in his fourth goal in three games.

Rashford restored United's advantage early in the second half, tucking away a penalty he won himself by being clumsily brought down by Moussa Sissoko.

Fred made a good block to repel a Son Heung-min shot, but it was United who continued to make the running, Gazzaniga denying Daniel James twice in quick succession.

David de Gea was called into action late on but comfortable saves from Serge Aurier, substitute Tanguy Ndombele and Alli ensured United closed out victory.
 

What does it mean? Mourinho suffers first Spurs loss

Spurs had a perfect record under Mourinho, but in this game they were well off the pace, needing a moment of magic from the resurgent Alli to undeservedly go into the interval all square.

But Sissoko's lack of concentration immediately after the restart allowed Rashford to restore United's lead and thereafter the result was not in doubt.


Reliable Rashford maintains hot streak

Anthony Martial's latest injury meant Rashford played off the left to accommodate teenager Greenwood in a central role, but the England striker continued to be United's main man in attack.

In his past 10 games for club and country, Rashford has scored nine times, drawing only two blanks.


Gazzaniga tries in vain to atone for error

Still deputising for injured captain Hugo Lloris, Gazzaniga made a series of saves that would usually have made for a good individual performance. Unfortunately, his misjudgement of Rashford's early strike left Spurs with it all to do at Old Trafford.


What's next?

Solskjaer's side make a short trip for a derby clash with Manchester City on Saturday. Spurs host Burnley on the same day.

Tammy Abraham claimed a goal and an assist against former club Aston Villa, while Willian excelled, as Chelsea responded to back-to-back Premier League defeats by deservedly beating Aston Villa 2-1 on John Terry's return to Stamford Bridge.

Abraham, who scored 26 times on loan to help Villa to promotion last season, returned from a hip injury on Wednesday and claimed his 11th Premier League goal of a brilliant breakthrough campaign to put Chelsea ahead after 24 minutes.

Trezeguet rounded off a fine move in somewhat comedic fashion to pull Villa level before the break, but a wonderful Mason Mount volley - from Abraham's chested lay-off - restored the home side's lead early in the second half.

With Willian superb, Chelsea were unable to claim the additional goals they merited as a host of further chances went begging, but boss Frank Lampard could still be happy with a much-needed three points in the wake of successive losses to Manchester City and West Ham, his only real concern being the sight of Abraham limping off in the closing minutes.

Villa, sitting perilously close to the relegation zone, were far too passive early on and could have few complaints when they fell behind. Abraham, absent for his side's below-par display against West Ham, was left unmarked to head home a Reece James cross, having been played onside by Ahmed El Mohamady.

Chelsea struggled to build on their breakthrough, though, and they were punished shortly before the interval. A flowing Villa move ended with El Mohamady delivering a teasing ball, which Trezeguet fortuitously bundled into the net after initially heading down on to his own legs.

It took less than three minutes of the second half for Chelsea to retake the lead, Mount showing superb technique with a volley after Willian's cross had been chested down by Abraham.

The hosts could have scored several more as Willian continued to run Villa ragged and the Brazilian was only denied a goal of his own when Tom Heaton - Villa's best player - made a spectacular save to tip a free-kick onto his left-hand post.

 

What does it mean? Chelsea back on track as Terry returns

Chelsea needed a victory after underperforming badly against West Ham and they got one despite spurning a number of chances. Before the game, there was an understandably rousing reception for club legend Terry, who was back at his beloved Bridge as the assistant manager to Dean Smith at Villa.

Wonderful Willian the star performer

Willian was a constant threat down the Chelsea right, where he was well supported by James. The pair repeatedly combined to cause Villa left-back Matt Targett all kinds of problems and it was no surprise that both home goals came from right-wing crosses.

Villa drop far too deep

This was always going to be a tough test for Villa, but they arguably showed their opponents too much respect as they sat painfully deep at times, inviting cross after cross.

What's next?

Chelsea have a short turnaround before facing Everton at Goodison Park in Saturday's early kick-off. Villa host high-flying Leicester City the following day.

Jurgen Klopp started with Mohamed Salah and Roberto Firmino on the bench for Liverpool's derby clash with Everton at Anfield.

Liverpool headed into Wednesday's Merseyside showdown - the 234th meeting between the local rivals and the first of potentially nine matches for the Reds in December - eight points clear at the top of the Premier League.

Everton, meanwhile, were sitting 17th, and a defeat, combined with a Southampton victory over Norwich City, would see them drop into the relegation zone, with Marco Silva under huge pressure at Goodison Park.

Liverpool boss Klopp, however, opted to shuffle his pack, with Salah and Firmino, who have featured in 12 and 14 league games respectively this term, both starting as substitutes.

Sadio Mane retained his place, with Xherdan Shaqiri coming in for his first start of the season and Divock Origi leading Liverpool's line.

Liverpool made five changes in total, with James Milner and Adam Lallana coming in for midfielders Jordan Henderson and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, while Adrian replaced goalkeeper Alisson, suspended after receiving a red card in the 2-1 win over Brighton and Hove Albion on Saturday.

"One change we had to do in Adrian for Alisson, and the other four we wanted to do, just to respect the game, to respect the intensity of the game first and foremost," Klopp told Liverpool's official website.

"We did it because we can do it. I have to show the respect for the boys and I’ve said a lot of times how much I like the squad and now we have to use it. That's the line-up for today because we think the game will be really intense and for this you need kind of fresh legs and we try to bring them in."

Silva, meanwhile, stuck with the Everton side which started in Sunday's 2-1 defeat to Leicester City.

Mason Greenwood replaces the injured Anthony Martial in the Manchester United team as Jose Mourinho returns to Old Trafford for the first time since his sacking.

Martial was substituted towards the end of United's last match, a 2-2 Premier League draw with Aston Villa, and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer told MUTV the France forward could be out for "a little while".

Taking Martial's place in the United attack is 18-year-old striker Greenwood, who starts a Premier League game for the first time this season, while Scott McTominay is fit to come into midfield.

Juan Mata, Andreas Pereira and Brandon Williams drop out of the team that started against Villa, with Ashley Young, McTominay and Jesse Lingard drafted into the XI.

Menwhile, Mourinho's selection sees Harry Winks return to the Tottenham midfield at the expense of Tanguy Ndombele, who drops to the bench.

Eric Dier has also been left out following the win over Bournemouth at home, Lucas Moura coming into the team instead.

Emmanuel Adebayor left the door open to a Premier League return by saying "anything can happen" following his departure from Turkish Super Lig club Kayserispor.

The 35-year-old striker spent almost three years in Turkey after joining Basaksehir in January 2017, playing for the Istanbul club for two-and-a-half seasons before signing for Kayserispor in August 2019.

He scored two league goals in eight league appearances this term including one in his final game - a 4-1 defeat at Besiktas on Monday.

After the game, he announced his departure, telling reporters: "These are tough decisions and [it] was tough for me. One of the most important decisions of my life.

"I tried to give my energy and will to this team since I arrived. I gave my best but sometimes you have some issues in your personal life.

"You think about your family and have to make decisions about your future. And that decision should be fast. I have decided not to continue my career here. Even though I am leaving physically, my heart will always beat for this team."

Adebayor has strong links with English football, having scored top-flight goals for Arsenal, Manchester City, Tottenham and Crystal Palace.

His most prolific season in England came in 2007-08 when he scored 24 league goals in 36 Premier League appearances for Arsenal, and he did not rule out a move away from Turkey as he seeks a new club.

"I cannot say that I'm leaving Turkey for good," said Adebayor. "Anything can happen in life.

"I have to rest and spend some time with my family. I had three great years here and I think that the Turkish league is among the best leagues in Europe."

Gabriel Jesus credited Manchester City and Brazil team-mate Fernandinho for helping him to get back on the goal trail.

Jesus netted an impressive brace in City's 4-1 Premier League win over Burnley on Tuesday, ending a run of 10 matches without a goal for club and country that featured two missed penalties.

A pair of assured finishes suggested a return to form for the 22-year-old, who is expected to lead the line for Pep Guardiola's men once again in Saturday's Manchester derby, as Sergio Aguero remains sidelined with a thigh injury.

"I had a talk with Fernandinho. He has been helping me a lot. He has always been very important since I arrived at the club," Jesus said.

"With his experience throughout his career, he is giving me advice. The day before the game, we had a nice chat.

"He always looks after all of us, especially the young ones. As a countryman, he came to talk to me and tell me to remain calm.

"I was calm, more confident and I managed to score two goals, that was very important to me."

Following Jesus' brace, City's record signing Rodri crowned his best performance for the club with a blistering 22-yard strike.

The Spain international turned in an accomplished display in the holding midfield position Fernandinho – now operating at centre-back – had made his own under Guardiola.

Ahead of Wednesday's Merseyside derby between Liverpool and Everton, City cut the deficit between themselves and Jurgen Klopp's league leaders to eight points.

A run of one win in five matches across all competitions before their trip to Turf Moor meant it was a victory worth celebrating.

"We needed this victory,” Rodri told reporters. "It was a good performance.

"Sometimes when you lose or draw, your confidence can go down, and after this victory, we were really having a party in the dressing room because we needed it to bring up the mentality and confidence of the team.

"Everyone is human, and when you don't get the results, you need to get people's confidence up. This was an important victory. We will fight until the end because that is our mentality and identity."

UEFA will ask football's lawmakers to introduce a margin error for offside calls in a bid to clean up the VAR "mess", Aleksander Ceferin has confirmed.

Players, coaches and supporters have criticised the implementation of technology since its infiltration of the Premier League for the 2019-20 season.

Disallowed goals for extremely marginal offside decisions have proved particularly contentious, with controversial incidents arising on a regular basis.

UEFA president Ceferin said he understood the frustration of fans and would take up the issue with the International Football Association Board (IFAB), the body responsible for the Laws of the Game.

"If you have a long nose, you are in an offside position these days," Ceferin told the Mirror.

"Also, the lines are drawn by the VARs. So it's subjective drawing of objective criteria.

"So our proposal will be that it is a tolerance of 10-20 centimetres.

"Second thing, we had at UEFA the top coaches two weeks ago, in Nyon. There was Jurgen Klopp, Pep Guardiola, Max Allegri, Carlo Ancelotti, Zinedine Zidane.

"All the top coaches of European teams and our referee officer, Roberto Rossetti, shows a handball. He says: 'Handball or not?'

"Half the room said yes. Half said no. So tell me how clear the rule is. We don't know anything!"

Ceferin admitted he was "not a big fan" of VAR but confirmed it would be in operation at Euro 2020.

"Look, we simply have to, because the teams will all complain when there’s a mistake against them," he said.

"Respect, respect, respect" was the call from Jose Mourinho that echoed through football the last time he was involved in a Manchester United versus Tottenham clash at Old Trafford.

Here was a manager on the cusp of a crisis, in full confrontational mode at a post-match news conference that passed boiling point - riled when it was pointed out many home supporters had walked out before the final whistle.

Here was Mourinho defending his patch ferociously, standing up for his players, for the supporters and, lastly, for himself. Showing three fingers, and pointing to how he has won three Premier League trophies.

United's 3-0 home defeat to Spurs in August 2018 was a result that demanded answers and Mourinho had plenty.

Conspiracy theorists might contend otherwise, but Mourinho would maintain he intended to see out his United contract, if not stay for longer. That he was planning to still be in charge today rather than take his leave early, sacked by Christmas last year with a tidy pay-off banked.

Therefore, another theory goes that he is in some way a reluctant Tottenham head coach, and would sooner, in a perfect world, be commandeering the home side than Spurs on Wednesday.

His United service was due to run until the end of this season, yet Mourinho will be in the enemy trenches as he brings Tottenham to a familiar parish.

Here is a look at what Mourinho might expect on his return as a rival manager.

UNITED ARE A CHANGED TEAM

Under his successor, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, the start of a United clear-out occurred in the off-season, and four of the players who played a part in Mourinho's final game have moved on.

Romelu Lukaku, Matteo Darmian, Ander Herrera and Marouane Fellaini, who was a substitute in Mourinho's sorry 3-1 swansong defeat at Anfield, have new homes, and Solskjaer has changed the face of the first team.

Appropriately, it is baby-faced in places, with the manager putting his trust in the likes of young Welsh winger Daniel James and pricey but promising full-back Aaron Wan-Bissaka, along with raw teenagers such as Brandon Williams and Mason Greenwood. Harry Maguire, finding his feet, is a player Mourinho wanted but could not get.

Whether the facelift has done the craggy model any favours, however, is already up for question. James has consistently looked the part, and other newcomers have shown top-level ability in flickers.

But 18 points from 14 games is a shabby return for a club of United's status, and Mourinho will know United are ripe to be still sitting on that same haul after their 15th game.

 

"THE BEST JUDGE IN FOOTBALL ARE THE SUPPORTERS"

Moments before his demand for "respect" last year, Mourinho stood up for United's supporters and pointed out how they had appreciated United's efforts in the heavy defeat to Spurs, and it was true enough - especially before the goals flowed.

This time they will judge him, and it remains to be seen how Mourinho is greeted on his Old Trafford return.

He was received enthusiastically when back as a television pundit earlier this season, but now that his allegiance has switched so the affection for the Portuguese could be in short supply.

The United faithful willed Mourinho to do well, and many bought into the sense of siege mentality that pervaded the latter stages of his reign, but with time and reflection comes clear thinking and reasoned reckoning.

Solskjaer is now the man they are willing to succeed, and any warmth towards Mourinho may well prove short-lived.

THE NEW HOME'S AN UPGRADE

Never mind swapping a five-star Manchester travel tavern for London's home comforts, there might be another thought that strikes Mourinho when he arrives back in the north-west on Wednesday.

When he walks out at Old Trafford, he will surely notice how 20th century it looks compared to the gleaming Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.

It is hard to avoid the conclusion Mourinho has landed on his feet with a supreme opportunity, inheriting a team equipped to compete for honours and a club with their compass pointing to progress.

Tottenham have been built for success, largely by Mauricio Pochettino and Daniel Levy, and Mourinho might get them over the line with a trophy.

Another Old Trafford statement result by Spurs would go some way to persuading sceptics that Mourinho still has what it takes to deliver silverware to his new club. Along with three points, a polished performance would positively demand respect.

For struggling Solskjaer, such an outcome would bring reminders United are no strangers to December dismissals.

Paul Pogba remains on the sidelines but his club future is at the centre of the rumour mill.

According to a new report, Zinedine Zidane wants the Manchester United midfielder "at all costs".

Links between Pogba and Real Madrid have long been established, but it seems not all in the Spanish capital are keen on the move.

 

TOP STORY – ZIDANE WANTS TO POACH POGBA

Zidane views compatriot Pogba as "the final piece of the puzzle" for Madrid and has implored the club to secure his signature, reports Marca.

The Los Blancos boss reportedly made Pogba's arrival his only demand when he returned to the Santiago Bernabeu in March for a second stint as head coach.

However, Madrid executives are said to be sceptical about splashing at least €120million for a player who would potentially take a first-team spot from the improving Federico Valverde.

Zidane and Pogba had a "chance" encounter in Dubai in October, where the 26-year-old was undergoing warm-weather rehabilitation on his injured ankle.

ROUND-UP

- Paris Saint-Germain have been impressed with Mauro Icardi and will look to tie the on-loan striker to a permanent deal, claims CalcioMercato. The Ligue 1 champions can reportedly land the Inter outcast for €70m.

- Arsenal, West Ham and any other Premier League teams aiming to appoint Rafael Benitez would have to pay £20m to release him from his Dalian Yifang contract, says the Daily Mail.

- Copa Libertadores champions Flamengo could pull the plug on a bid for Gabriel Barbosa after growing frustrated with the forward's reluctance to finalise the arrangement, according to Fox Sports Brazil. 'Gabigol' is on loan from Inter and reportedly coverts a second chance in Europe.

- CalcioMercato reports Milan are plotting to sign PSG left-back Layvin Kurzawa when his contract expires at the end of the season.

- Jose Mourinho's Tottenham hope to capture Norwich City centre-back Ben Godfrey in January for around £25m, reports Football Insider.

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