With Barcelona and Real Madrid keen to strengthen their defences, one Inter star is attracting interest.

Milan Skriniar is reportedly wanted by LaLiga champions Barca and Spanish rivals Madrid.

Will Inter be able to retain the centre-back?

 

TOP STORY – SKRINIAR WANTED BY LALIGA GIANTS

Barcelona and Real Madrid have set their sights on Inter defender Skriniar, according to Corriere dello Sport.

Skriniar – contracted to Inter until June 2023 – has established himself as one of the world's best defenders since moving to Milan from Sampdoria in 2017.

The likes of Manchester City and Manchester United have also been linked to the 24-year-old Slovakia international.

 

ROUND-UP

Manchester United are desperate to strengthen their squad and ESPN claims the Premier League side have an eight-man shortlist, which includes Leicester City's James Maddison, Borussia Dortmund sensation Jadon Sancho, Salzburg's goalscoring machine Erling Haaland, West Ham midfielder Declan Rice, Bournemouth's Callum Wilson, Lyon forward Moussa Dembele, as well as Aston Villa pair Jack Grealish and John McGinn.

- Staying at Old Trafford and The Mirror says United are monitoring Sporting CP's Matheus Pereira, who is on loan at Championship outfit West Brom. It comes as The Sun reports the Red Devils could sign Gareth Bale and send Paul Pogba to Real Madrid.

- Bild says Borussia Monchengladbach have no plans to sell midfielder Denis Zakaria in January. Zakaria has reportedly attracted interest from United, Bayern Munich, Dortmund and others.

Manchester City are circling Inter midfielder Stefano Sensi, according to Calciomercato. Sensi moved to Inter on loan from Serie A side Sassuolo and the 24-year-old has starred at San Siro.

- Calciomercato claims Juventus are looking at Paris Saint-Germain's Thomas Meunier and Chelsea full-back Emerson Palmieri amid their injury crisis in Turin.

- Brescia sensation and Italy international Sandro Tonali is being chased by Serie A champions Juve and LaLiga side Atletico Madrid, reports Corriere di Torino.

Scott McTominay and Andrew Robertson have left the Scotland squad ahead of the final Euro 2020 qualifiers with Cyprus and Kazakhstan.

Bournemouth winger Ryan Fraser has also withdrawn, while Leeds United's Liam Cooper pulled out on Monday.

Midfielders Lewis Morgan and Graeme Shinnie have been added to the squad.

Manchester United midfielder McTominay damaged his ankle in the 3-1 Premier League win over Brighton and Hove Albion and had to be substituted.

The 22-year-old is expected to have tests on the problem later this week.

Scotland cannot qualify for Euro 2020 through Group I as they are 12 points behind top two Belgium and Russia with two games to play.

However, they will be involved in the play-offs in March after finishing top of Nations League C, Group 1.

Lionel Messi is seemingly in no rush to extend his Barcelona contract.

Messi's future is regularly talked about after it was revealed earlier this year the superstar can leave the LaLiga giants for free at the end of any season.

The five-time Ballon d'Or winner is contracted at Barcelona until 2021, though it remains to be seen if he wants to stay on beyond his current deal.

 

TOP STORY – MESSI IN NO RUSH OVER BARCELONA CONTRACT

Messi has no intention of discussing a contract extension at Barcelona until next season, according to Marca.

The 32-year-old plans to be at the club next season, the report says, but will not open talks regarding a new deal.

Messi has been at Barcelona during his entire professional career, winning 10 LaLiga titles and four Champions Leagues among numerous other trophies.

ROUND-UP

- Paris Saint-Germain are looking to the future. Sport reports the Ligue 1 giants are seriously considering a move for Real Madrid forward Vinicius Junior. Kylian Mbappe and Neymar have been linked with moves away from PSG and the 19-year-old could help the French club going forward.

- Manchester City and Real Madrid could be set for a transfer battle. The clubs are interested in Real Sociedad and Spain forward Mikel Oyarzabal, according to CalcioMercato. The 22-year-old has scored 29 LaLiga goals since the start of 2017-18.

- Unai Emery has some time. The Sun reports the under-fire Arsenal head coach will be given until 2020 to turn the club's form around. It also reports Manchester City would allow assistant Mikel Arteta – an ex-Arsenal midfielder – to head to Emirates Stadium, should his former club want to appoint the Spaniard.

- Liverpool could strengthen in January. TalkSPORT reports the Premier League leaders are in advanced talks with Bournemouth over a deal to sign winger Ryan Fraser, who is out of contract at the end of the season. Bournemouth may want Harry Wilson – who is on loan from Liverpool – as part of a deal.

- Struggling in ninth in Serie A, Fiorentina may be ready to move on from Vincenzo Montella. The club are ready to make an approach for former Inter coach Luciano Spalletti, according to Firenze Viola.

Sheffield United were the recipients of a harsh VAR decision but Chris Wilder's side battled back to draw 1-1 with Tottenham after Son Heung-min's opener on Saturday.

After Son - who was initially set to be suspended for this match but had his red card for a tackle that led to Andre Gomes' ankle injury overturned in midweek - put Spurs ahead, the Blades looked to have equalised until VAR disallowed David McGoldrick's goal.

However, George Baldock earned a share of the spoils for the Blades 12 minutes from time.

While Spurs are without a win in five league matches, their London rivals Chelsea are having no such issues under Frank Lampard, as they claimed a 2-0 win over Crystal Palace.

Elsewhere, Everton claimed a vital away win at Southampton, Newcastle United saw off Bournemouth 2-1 and Burnley returned to winning ways in style with a 3-0 triumph over struggling West Ham.

 

SON ON TARGET BUT BLADES OVERCOME VAR CONTROVERSY

Much has been made of Son's devastation after his part in Gomes' injury, but he had reason to celebrate after the forward proved his importance to Spurs in what was another impotent display from Mauricio Pochettino's side.

Tottenham successfully appealed Son's red card, and they benefitted from having the forward available when the South Korea international pounced on Enda Stevens' mistake just before the hour.

The Blades thought they had scored a swift equaliser through McGoldrick, only for VAR to come to Spurs' rescue as - after a lengthy VAR check - it was deemed John Lundstram, who also hit the post, was marginally offside.

But VAR would not deny the visitors again - George Baldock's cross-cum-shot looping in to secure a deserved share of the spoils and lift the Blades, for now, into fifth.

ABRAHAM STRIKES AGAIN AS CHELSEA MAKE IT SIX IN A ROW

Chelsea were frustrated by some stubborn Palace defending in the first half at Stamford Bridge, but Lampard's side made the breakthrough courtesy of Tammy Abraham's 10th league goal of the season.

A sublime team move culminated in Willian flicking it around the corner into Abraham, who took a superb first touch before slotting beyond Vicente Guaita.

Three deserved points were wrapped up 11 minutes from time - Christian Pulisic acrobatically firing home as Chelsea won a sixth successive league match and, temporarily at least, moved above Manchester City into second.

EVERTON CLAIM VITAL VICTORY AS BURNLEY CLATTER WEST HAM

Defeat - or even a failure to win - at St Mary's for Everton could have spelled the end for Marco Silva, but the Toffees came away with the points thanks to Richarlison's 75th-minute effort.

Danny Ings' goal five minutes into the second half had cancelled out Tom Davies' early opener, yet Southampton - who have now lost six out of their last seven league matches - could not keep up the momentum, with Richarlison having the final say as Everton held onto their first away win of the season.

Everton sit in 13th, a point behind Burnley, who ended a three-game losing streak by dismantling West Ham, whose boss Manuel Pellegrini may well be under pressure heading into the international break.

Ashley Barnes and Chris Wood - who has scored in all five of his Premier League games against the Hammers - had Burnley in control by the break, before Roberto Jimenez's calamitous own goal wrapped things up at Turf Moor. 

Liverpool produced yet another late show to beat Aston Villa 2-1 and maintain their six-point lead at the Premier League summit.

That margin could have been greater were it not for Manchester City's own fightback at home to Southampton, with Kyle Walker's goal four minutes from time sealing all three points for Pep Guardiola's side.

Manchester United reverted to type after a recent mini revival, slipping to an insipid 1-0 defeat at Bournemouth, while Chelsea were 2-1 winners over Watford at Vicarage Road.

Our Premier League Data Diary sheds some light on the detail behind the major stories from this weekend's big games.

 

LIVERPOOL LEAVE IT LATE AGAIN

Liverpool's stunning start to the season continued with a last-gasp win over Aston Villa.

The victory means Jurgen Klopp's side have earned 31 points from their opening 11 Premier League games. In English top-flight history, only Tottenham in 1960-61 (33, adjusted to three points for a win) have had more at this stage of a campaign.

Trezeguet looked to have sealed a famous win for Villa but Andy Robertson equalised three minutes from time. The Scotland international has now scored twice in his last six games – double the amount he scored in his first 88 appearances for the club.

That set the scene for yet another late show from the Reds, with Sadio Mane heading home deep into stoppage time. That was the 35th 90th-minute goal by Liverpool in the Premier League – 10 more than any other side in the competition's history.

AGUERO AND WALKER SAVE SHOT-SHY CITY

City were far from their fluid best against Southampton but late goals from Sergio Aguero and Walker ensure they remain within touching distance of Liverpool at the top.

James Ward-Prowse had earlier given the Saints a shock lead, taking advantage of a rare error from Ederson. Since the start of last season, only Danny Ings (11) has scored more Premier League goals than the midfielder.

An onslaught on the visitors' goal failed to materialise after that, with Aguero's leveller in the 70th minute City's first shot on target. That was the longest they have had to wait for their first shot on target in a league match since December 2016.

That goal was teed up by Walker, who went onto to claim the winner in the closing stages. After 272 appearances in the Premier League, it was the first time he had scored and assisted in a game.  

RED DEVILS SUFFER ANOTHER SETBACK

United's miserable start to the campaign continued on Saturday, with Bournemouth registering their first win against Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's side since December 2015.

They were undone by Josh King's first-half goal, the Norwegian ended Bournemouth's run of 358 minutes, three games and 50 shots without a Premier League goal.

That strike means United have failed to keep a clean sheet in their last 11 Premier League away games – their joint-longest run without one on the road in the competition (also 11 between August 2002 and January 2003).

United have amassed just 13 points from their opening 11 games of the campaign – their lowest tally at this stage of a league campaign since 1986-87 when they had 11 points.

BLUES INFLICT MORE MISERY ON HORNETS

Tammy Abraham and Christian Pulisic were on target for Chelsea as Frank Lampard's side extended Watford's winless start to the season.

The Hornets have now failed to win any of their opening 11 games to a league season for the first time in their history. They are the first team to do so in the Premier League since QPR in 2012-13.

Abraham got Chelsea on their way with yet another away goal. He has now scored seven in his six away appearances in the league this season – only Kevin Phillips in 1999-00, Edin Dzeko in 2011-12 and Sergio Aguero in 2016-17 (all eight) have scored more in their opening six away games of a Premier League season.

Pulisic then followed up his hat-trick against Burnley last weekend with the Blues' second. The American has now been involved in nine goals in all competitions this season (four goals, five assists) – only Abraham (12) has been involved in more.

An incredible day of Premier League drama saw both leaders Liverpool and champions Manchester City rescue all three points with late fightbacks.

Liverpool trailed at Aston Villa while City were behind at home to Southampton, although Pep Guardiola's men looked set to profit when they turned their match around as the Reds continued to flounder.

Andrew Robertson and Sadio Mane clinched a stunning away victory, though, and Liverpool remain six points clear of City at the top after both sides won 2-1.

Elsewhere, Bournemouth, Newcastle United, Sheffield United and Brighton and Hove Albion all won, while Wolves held Arsenal.

 

INCREDIBLE DRAMA AT THE TOP

Villa away and Southampton at home - particularly after the Saints' horror show against Leicester City - looked like straightforward enough fixtures for Liverpool and City respectively.

However, it appeared for long spells on Saturday as though both would come away empty-handed.

At Villa Park, Trezeguet netted after 21 minutes and not until the 87th minute did Robertson level matters. Liverpool still appeared set to see their advantage cut, only for Mane to strike deep into stoppage time.

City were also given a scare as Southampton led through James Ward-Prowse early on.

But Sergio Aguero struck with 20 minutes remaining and then Kyle Walker, like Robertson an unlikely scorer, stole victory with just four minutes left on the clock.

 

BOOS FOR EMERY'S ARSENAL AGAIN

At Emirates Stadium, pressure continues to grow on Unai Emery after a third Premier League game without a win.

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang - captaining the Gunners in Granit Xhaka's absence - put them in front, the striker scoring his 50th Gunners goal in his 78th appearance.

But again Arsenal dropped points despite leading, Raul Jimenez heading home Joao Moutinho's cross with 14 minutes to go to extend Wolves' unbeaten run to six league games.

Although Emery had restored fan favourite Mesut Ozil to the XI, boos rang out at full-time.

 

UNITED BEATEN BY BOURNEMOUTH

An entertaining day of Premier League action had kicked off with Bournemouth beating Manchester United, ending the Red Devils' brief resurgence.

After three straight away wins looked to have turned United's season around, former Old Trafford youngster Joshua King grabbed the only goal of the game at Vitality Stadium.

King turned away from Aaron Wan-Bissaka late in the first half, before slamming past David De Gea acrobatically for what proved to be the decisive strike.

 

NEWCASTLE HOLD ON, BLADES WIN BIG

Even the games on the slate not involving 'big-six' teams were full of thrills and spills.

Newcastle won 3-2 at West Ham, ending the match clinging on after dominating for an hour. They scored through Ciaran Clark, Federico Fernandez and Jonjo Shelvey, and the Magpies should have netted two or three more before the Hammers mounted something of a fightback, but ultimately fell short.

There was no such response from Burnley, as they went down 3-0 at Sheffield United, with John Lundstram on target twice as all three goals came in the first half.

Brighton ended the day all the way up in eighth after beating Norwich City 2-0.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer conceded he may have got his team selection wrong while admitting Manchester United "flattered to deceive" in the 1-0 loss to Bournemouth.

United were unchanged from their 3-1 loss at Norwich City six days earlier but were unable to record a fourth straight away victory in all competitions as Joshua King scored a first-half winner.

All of the outfield players in the starting XI featured against Chelsea in the EFL Cup in midweek, too, and there was a notable lack of intensity from Solskjaer's side.

"I don't think it's the effort or the want to do well," Solskjaer told reporters at a news conference.

"It's natural when you play Wednesday night and then [play the] early kick-off on Saturday that the physical stats might be affected.

"That's maybe my mistake, maybe I should have, could have, played a couple of others with fresh legs, but I thought the ones that played against Norwich deserved another chance."

Anthony Martial, who came off the bench at Stamford Bridge on Wednesday, once again operated as United's striker ahead of an attacking trio of Marcus Rashford, Andreas Pereira and Daniel James.

Yet none of that quartet came away with any credit, with Pereira and James both taken off while Martial and Rashford mustered a combined two shots between them.

"I think as the whole team, we started well but we were lacking a bit of that end product and the quality at the end," Solskjaer added when asked specifically about Pereira's below-par display.

"That just doesn't apply to Andreas. I thought the front four looked promising but just flattered to deceive a little bit today.

"It looked like we could create chances, but we just didn't have the last pass or finish. That's something we need to improve on."

With Paul Pogba still out injured and the transfer window not open for another two months, Solskjaer is hoping others in his squad can step up and solve his team's lack of creativity.

"To win games you need to score goals," Solskjaer said. 

"I'm sure Anthony and Marcus are going to get their share of goals. Anthony is going to improve but we need more creativity.

"But we've got loads of players here in the squad who could create more. It's not just looking outside, we have to deal with what we have."

Bournemouth had not scored for 358 minutes in the Premier League before King struck against his old club, while the Cherries also kept a third successive clean sheet in the top flight.

"I was very pleased with the players," Bournemouth boss Eddie Howe said in quotes published on his club's website.

“We felt we needed the win for our own confidence and impetus. It was a really key game."

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer saw Manchester United's recent improved form halted at Bournemouth and conceded his side took "a step back" in their 1-0 loss.

United arrived at the Vitality Stadium having won three in a row on their travels in all competitions.

However, they never looked like extending that run to four matches as United academy graduate Joshua King scored the only goal just before the interval.

The defeat left Solskjaer's side with 13 points from 11 Premier League games - their lowest return at this stage of a top-flight campaign since 1986-87.

"You are always very down when you lose and considering the form we were in, we were hoping to take the three points," Solskjaer told BBC Sport.

"It is a step back for us today, but we need to shake it off and go again.

"We could not capitalise on the good start and a moment of magic won the game for them, sometimes you just hold up your hands and say, 'Well done'."

Bournemouth had not scored a goal for 358 minutes before King struck when he swivelled and fired beyond David de Gea after spinning past Aaron Wan-Bissaka.

That proved enough to get the win as the Cherries recorded a third successive clean sheet after not doing so in their first eight Premier League games.

"We know we can score goals but in the past our problems have been keeping clean sheets," King told BT Sport.

"When you get the goal, they start coming. We've kept a clean sheet for three games now.

"We backed ourselves to score in the next few games and we managed it today."

There is a train of thought that Manchester United would be better off without Paul Pogba.

Move on from an inconsistent performer, cut your losses on your record signing, and perhaps United could benefit without 'the headache' of their World Cup-winning Frenchman.

Yet that theory gained little support on Saturday.

United, shorn of their only dynamic midfielder for a fourth successive Premier League game, reverted to type, displaying a lack of creativity and ideas in going down 1-0 to Bournemouth, whose winner was scored by Manchester United academy graduate Joshua King.

The Cherries had not kept a clean sheet prior to their last home game against Norwich City and yet their defence enjoyed a largely worry-free afternoon in the wind and rain.

A central-midfield three of Fred, Scott McTominay and Andreas Pereira might have impressed in the win over Norwich City on Sunday, but the trio epitomised everything that is wrong with this United, producing ponderous, pedestrian play and failing to conjure up anything of note in an attacking sense.

Pereira was the chief culprit. The Brazilian made only 25 passes and completed just 60 per cent of them - the fewest of any outfield United player. The most damning statistic, though, was that he failed to complete one pass to his team's centre forward Anthony Martial.

His performance was not an anomaly. Pereira has scored just once and contributed only two assists in 30 Premier League appearances, while making four big chances and providing one throughball.

Given he turns 24 on New Year's Day, you have to wonder whether Pereira is ever going to be good enough for United.

His infuriating moments on Saturday included failing to beat the first man from a set piece and overhitting what should have been a routine pass to Martial as he approached the Cherries' penalty area.

And when Solskjaer looked to his bench to replace his underperforming midfielder 68 minutes in, his only real option was the woefully out-of-form Jesse Lingard - a man who is yet to have a shot on target, provide an assist or deliver a throughball this season.

Solskjaer had spoken of the "good relationship" Fred and McTominay have in the build up to this game, but neither man is known for their creativity or flair.

Fred at least tried to take the challenge on, creating more chances than anyone else on the pitch on Saturday, but in seven appearances this season he not scored, provided an assist or a big chance.

The problem is, without Pogba, who can make something happen in that United midfield?

Saturday's showing should serve as a cautionary tale for those wanting Pogba gone.

Joshua King stunted Manchester United's form resurgence with the lone goal in a 1-0 win for Bournemouth at a wet and windy Vitality Stadium.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's men looked to have turned the corner following a morale-boosting run of three consecutive victories in all competitions but their failings on the road returned on Saturday.

Anthony Martial's presence in the starting XI failed to add potency and King ensured his former club's long wait for a clean sheet in a Premier League away game stretched to 11 matches.

The striker was afforded time to skilfully turn and shoot in the 45th minute, his clinical finish lifting the Cherries three points clear of a United side destined to end the weekend in mid-table.

United made a bright start under grey skies as Daniel James set up shooting opportunities for Andreas Pereira and Fred.

After a challenging first 15 minutes, Bournemouth appealed unsuccessfully for a penalty when Ryan Fraser went down under minimal contact from Ashley Young.

VAR approved the decision and decided against intervening following Jefferson Lerma's nudge on Martial in the opposite box.

United could hardly protest the opener as King chested down Adam Smith's cross, spun away from Aaron Wan-Bissaka and volleyed through David de Gea's legs.

The rain relented after half-time, helping Aaron Ramsdale to parry Pereira's long-range drive, and De Gea likewise had to be alert to block King's finish when a ball in behind broke kindly.

Solskjaer sent on two teenagers in search of an equaliser and one, Mason Greenwood, went close, but the forward's volley from Fred's cross came back off the near post.

What does it mean? Red Devils still searching for fluency

United might have sensed light at the end of the tunnel over the past week but fresh questions about where they are heading will now be asked of manager Solskjaer.

They again looked a team devoid of credible solutions to a robust defence, with Martial and Marcus Rashford unable to provide the answer.

Smith shines on rainy day

Their price tags are wildly different but Bournemouth right-back Smith offered all that might be expected of Wan-Bissaka and then some. Defensively secure, he got forward with purpose and supplied the cross for King's goal.

Lindelof's loose marking leaves United exposed

Wan-Bissaka did not cover himself in glory for Bournemouth's opening goal but Victor Lindelof deserves at least an equal share of the blame. The Sweden international wandered away from the danger area just as the ball was being delivered, outsourcing his defensive duty.

What's next?

United have two winnable home matches ahead, first against Partizan Belgrade in the Europa League on Thursday and then Brighton and Hove Albion three days later.

Bournemouth are back in action next Saturday, away to Newcastle United.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has given Manchester United a solid base for an encouraging future, according to Bournemouth boss Eddie Howe.

Scrutiny on Solskjaer's position as United manager has intensified during a mostly disappointing start to the new season.

While he has been praised for promoting academy players into the first-team picture, problems with goalscoring and a failure to replace Romelu Lukaku and Ander Herrera in the transfer window has led many to fear Solskjaer's long-term plan for the club will come at too great a cost in the short term.

However, a draw with Premier League leaders Liverpool and three subsequent away wins - the most recent a 2-1 defeat of Chelsea in the EFL Cup on Wednesday - has helped to restore confidence in Solskjaer's methods.

Howe has certainly been impressed with the way Solskjaer has begun to reconstruct the team with a view to turning the 13-time Premier League champions back into title-challengers.

"Certainly, looking at their last few games, which I have in great detail, I think they have played very well," Howe said on Friday. "The game against Chelsea was a very strong performance.

"They'll be pleased with their attacking play and defensive structures. Then, looking back at Norwich City, playing them away is a tough game and I thought they were very professional, did the job and got a really good [3-1] win.

"There's positive signs for them. They've got quality players, a very good manager who has given them real stability. He's working to the future to build a new Manchester United.

"I imagine it is [hard to work under that level of pressure]. I think he's handled himself really well and done an excellent job to this point."

United face Bournemouth on Saturday looking to extend a seven-game unbeaten run against the Cherries.

Their most recent visit to the Vitality Stadium was only settled by a 92nd-minute Marcus Rashford goal, though, and Howe is confident they can give United another stern test.

"Last year was a really tight game. It swung their way in the last few seconds, but we gave them a good match," he said.

"The game we won here in our first Premier League season, that was a historic moment for us. That gave us real confidence in a time when we needed it.

"We've had some tough games at Old Trafford, some difficult moments, but here [at home] we've been pretty good against them.

"We need a good start, we need the crowd absolutely with us and we really want this ground pumping."

Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer agrees Scott McTominay has become a leader at the club.

McTominay's form has been one of United's major bright spots during a difficult first three months of the season, in which the Red Devils have won only three Premier League matches.

The 22-year-old midfielder produced another standout display in the 2-1 EFL Cup success at Chelsea on Wednesday to help United to a third away win in succession, with Solskjaer's side having shown signs of recovery since their 1-1 draw with Liverpool at Old Trafford.

Some supporters have begun to discuss the prospect of a future captaincy for McTominay, who was brought into the first team by Jose Mourinho and even given a special 'manager's player of the year' prize at United's end-of-season awards in 2018.

When asked about the prospect of McTominay wearing the armband, Solskjaer told reporters on Friday: "He's been excellent. Him and Fred, they're working a good relationship, they have played well together.

"They did that last season: Paris Saint-Germain, Arsenal, there were quite a few games where they played together when we had some injuries. Now they're working as a pair.

"But Scotty has been excellent. He's a leader, he's a Man United boy, he's come through the ranks – you can see he's been a striker with the goal he scored against Norwich [City], on the half-turn – but he's developing into a very good midfielder."

United's win over Chelsea was secured by two goals from Marcus Rashford – a penalty and then a stunning free-kick.

The England international has now managed four goals in his past four appearances in all competitions, and Solskjaer is happy to see him thriving alongside fit-again Anthony Martial.

"Anthony's come back, Marcus has flourished as well, blossomed," he said. "He is probably happier facing goal, being direct, driving at people, taking players on, instead of being a target man with back to goal.

"But Marcus wants to master all the skills in the end. He's only 22, just turned 22, so I'm sure we'll see him up front as a number nine if he'd like, maybe as a two with Anthony, maybe now as a three like we did against Norwich, or wide like we did against Chelsea… there are different ways of playing with Marcus.

"It was important for him and for me that he stepped up and took that penalty against Chelsea."

United face Bournemouth on Saturday seeking to triumph in a fourth match in a row for the first time since the eight-game winning run they enjoyed when Solskjaer was named caretaker manager last December.

Solskjaer believes a combination of good work in the most recent international break, the return of some stars from injury and the boost from a positive performance against Liverpool have all contributed to their recent upturn in form.

"The international break came at a great time for us," he said. "We did some work and prepared well for the Liverpool game.

"When you get a decent performance and result against the league leaders, that gives you a bit more energy, and from then on the boys have just… they were happy with the work we did, maybe the change of system helped, so the coaches have done a great job.

"Every new game is an opportunity to show what you can do. I didn't play every game, so every game I played for this club was a chance for me to show the manager that I should play the next game. That's what these boys feel like as well now because we're getting players back – we don't just have the 11, 12, 13 fit ones.

"At the moment, the boys look like they're playing on instinct than having that extra split second to think, which I spoke about a few weeks ago."

Manchester United could be without Marcus Rashford, Harry Maguire and Victor Lindelof for Saturday's Premier League trip to Bournemouth.

All three players sustained knocks in the 2-1 EFL Cup victory at Chelsea on Wednesday, a result that stretched United's winning run away from home to three games in all competitions.

Rashford, who scored a penalty and then a stunning free-kick to seal the win, was seen with an ice pack on his knee after being substituted at Stamford Bridge, while Lindelof was replaced by Anthony Martial 66 minutes in and Maguire was seen limping in the closing stages.

When asked for an update on the trio on Friday, manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer told a news conference: "It's still early. Hopefully we can get them back on the pitch tomorrow.

"They had some treatment yesterday, a little more treatment today, a light session. Hopefully, they're ready. I can't tell you exactly now."

United will also be without Luke Shaw, Axel Tuanzebe and Nemanja Matic against Bournemouth, with Solskjaer not expecting them to be available until after the next international break.

"They are not ready for tomorrow. That's the update," he said. "[They will be back] Probably after the international break. That's always the risk, if you push them back too early.

"But if we have the two extra weeks, after the international break, they should be ready for then."

United head into the match in seventh place in the Premier League, ahead of Bournemouth on goal difference.

A win will move them to within four points of the top four before Chelsea's match away to Watford.

A superb second-half display helped Manchester City to a comprehensive 3-0 win over Aston Villa in the Premier League on Saturday.

Raheem Sterling, David Silva and Ilkay Gundogan were all on target after the break as Pep Guardiola's side closed the gap to leaders Liverpool to three points ahead of their game with Tottenham on Sunday.

Christian Pulisic was the star of the show as Chelsea beat Burnley 4-2 at Turf Moor, the American plundering a hat-trick after being recalled to the starting XI by Frank Lampard.

Elsewhere, a stoppage-time own goal by Lucas Digne condemned Everton to a 3-2 defeat at Brighton and Hove Albion and Sheffield United came from behind to secure a 1-1 draw at West Ham.

Meanwhile, Watford and Bournemouth played out a 0-0 draw at Vicarage Road.

 

STERLING SHINES AS CITY SEE OFF VILLA

The England forward followed his midweek hat-trick against Atalanta with another strike as City cruised past Villa at the Etihad Stadium.

Sterling latched onto Gabriel Jesus' headed flick-on before squeezing a low effort underneath Tom Heaton to open the scoring just 20 seconds into the second period.

That was followed in the 65th minute by David Silva's strike, the Spaniard's deft touch from Kevin De Bruyne's whipped cross given the green light after a lengthy VAR review.

Ilkay Gundogan then added a third 20 minutes from time, the German sending a fine half-volley past Heaton, before Fernandinho spoiled a fine performance with a second yellow card in the 87th minute.

 

PATIENT PULISIC MAKES HIS MARK

United States international Pulisic has had to be patient this season, with Lampard choosing not to start him in a Premier League since August.

He was chosen ahead of Callum Hudson-Odoi at Turf Moor, though, and repaid his head coach's faith in style as the Blues made it seven consecutive wins in all competitions.

The 21-year-old put his side 2-0 up at the break with a well-taken double before completing his hat-trick 11 minutes after the restart. Willian then made it 4-0 two minutes later with a clinical finish past Nick Pope.

Burnley finished on the front foot, with Jay Rodriguez and Dwight McNeil scoring in the final five minutes, but it was too little, too late for Sean Dyche's side.

 

SEAGULLS LEAVE IT LATE TO OVERCOME TOFFEES

Everton remain in trouble near the foot of the table after Digne's own goal four minutes into stoppage time handed Brighton a 3-2 win at the Amex Stadium.

Pascal Gross had put the hosts ahead with a thunderous free-kick after 15 minutes but an own goal from Adam Webster pulled the Toffees level five minutes later.

Everton looked on course for their first away win of the season when Dominic Calvert-Lewin stroked home with 16 minutes remaining.

However, Neal Maupay levelled from the spot in the 80th minute after VAR adjudged Michael Keane to have fouled Aaron Connolly inside the penalty area, with Everton's misery completed by Digne's unfortunate intervention late on.

MOUSSET THE DIFFERENCE AGAIN FOR BLADES

Lys Mousset's second goal of the week ensured Sheffield United left London with a point.

West Ham had taken the lead shortly before the interval when Robert Snodgrass fired low past Dean Henderson for his first Premier League goal of the campaign.

Mousset – who scored the winner against Arsenal on Monday – had the final say, though, finishing past Hammers goalkeeper Roberto Jimenez just six minutes after coming off the substitutes' bench.

Watford, meanwhile, remain rooted to the bottom of the Premier League after they were held to a goalless draw at home by Bournemouth.

A superb second-half display helped Manchester City to a comprehensive 3-0 win over Aston Villa in the Premier League on Saturday.

Raheem Sterling, David Silva and Ilkay Gundogan were all on target after the break as Pep Guardiola's side closed the gap to leaders Liverpool to three points ahead of their game with Tottenham on Sunday.

A stoppage-time own goal by Lucas Digne condemned Everton to a 3-2 defeat at Brighton and Hove Albion and Sheffield United came from behind to secure a 1-1 draw at West Ham.

Meanwhile, Watford and Bournemouth played out a 0-0 draw at Vicarage Road.

 

STERLING SHINES AS CITY SEE OFF VILLA

The England forward followed his midweek hat-trick against Atalanta with another strike as City cruised past Villa at the Etihad Stadium.

Sterling latched onto Gabriel Jesus' headed flick-on before squeezing a low effort underneath Tom Heaton to open the scoring just 20 seconds into the second period.

That was followed in the 65th minute by David Silva's strike, the Spaniard's deft touch from Kevin De Bruyne's whipped cross given the green light after a lengthy VAR review.

Ilkay Gundogan then added a third 20 minutes from time, the German sending a fine half-volley past Heaton, before Fernandinho spoiled a fine performance with a second yellow card in the 87th minute.

SEAGULLS LEAVE IT LATE TO OVERCOME TOFFEES

Everton remain in trouble near the foot of the table after Digne's own goal four minutes into stoppage time handed Brighton a 3-2 win at the Amex Stadium.

Pascal Gross had put the hosts ahead with a thunderous free-kick after 15 minutes but an own goal from Adam Webster pulled the Toffees level five minutes later.

Everton looked on course for their first away win of the season when Dominic Calvert-Lewin stroked home with 16 minutes remaining.

However, Neal Maupay levelled from the spot in the 80th minute after VAR adjudged Michael Keane to have fouled Aaron Connolly inside the penalty area, with Everton's misery completed by Digne's unfortunate intervention late on.

MOUSSET THE DIFFERENCE AGAIN FOR BLADES

Lys Mousset's second goal of the week ensured Sheffield United left London with a point.

West Ham had taken the lead shortly before the interval when Robert Snodgrass fired low past Dean Henderson for his first Premier League goal of the campaign.

Mousset – who scored the winner against Arsenal on Monday – had the final say, though, finishing past Hammers goalkeeper Roberto Jimenez just six minutes after coming off the substitutes' bench.

Watford, meanwhile, remain rooted to the bottom of the Premier League after they were held to a goalless draw at home by Bournemouth.

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