Ole Gunnar Solskjaer hailed Harry Maguire's "magnificent" contribution for Manchester United after the defender's winner against Norwich City.

Maguire tucked away a close-range winner in the 118th minute as United recorded a 2-1 win at Carrow Road on Saturday to reach the FA Cup semi-finals.

An £80million signing from Leicester City last year, Maguire helped United stretch their unbeaten run to 14 games in all competitions and Solskjaer was full of praise for his captain.

"Harry has been magnificent since he's come to the club," the United manager told a news conference.

"His leadership skills are there to be seen, he helps us with the build-up and I think he won every header and every single challenge, so I'm very pleased with Harry."

After Todd Cantwell cancelled out Odion Ighalo's opener, Norwich were reduced to 10 men when Timm Klose was sent off in the 89th minute.

United used Paul Pogba, Anthony Martial, Marcus Rashford and Mason Greenwood off the bench and Solskjaer was pleased with the contributions of his substitutes, with Brandon Williams and Nemanja Matic also coming on during the clash.

"I thought Anthony came on and did really well. I think he made the little bit of difference," Solskjaer said.

"He made runs down the channels, he made some great sprints, he was direct and positive.

"When you're against 10 men, we spoke about it at full-time that we had 30 minutes, we don't have to panic, we just have to keep prodding and chances will come and we need to take them. All the subs played their part."

Sixth in the Premier League, United visit Brighton and Hove Albion on Tuesday.

Captain Harry Maguire scored a late extra-time winner to secure Manchester United's place in the FA Cup semi-finals with a 2-1 victory at Norwich City.

United forward Odion Ighalo and Norwich midfielder Todd Cantwell scored with their respective sides' first shots on target as an entertaining second half followed a forgettable first.

Norwich took the contest to extra time despite seeing Timm Klose receive a straight red card in the 89th minute.

The game looked destined to be decided by penalties but Maguire popped up in the 118th minute to book United's place in the last four at Wembley.

 

 

Harry Maguire has got his sights set on becoming the first outfield player to complete every minute of a Premier League campaign for Manchester United since the 1994-95 season.

The England defender is aiming to follow in the footsteps of fellow centre-back Gary Pallister, who managed two ever-present seasons with United.

United face Maguire's former club Sheffield United on Wednesday and still have seven top-flight games to play after that.

But even with a packed fixture list, truncated by the coronavirus-enforced shutdown, skipper Maguire is hopeful of being involved throughout as United chase Champions League qualification and he looks to equal a feat achieved by Pallister in 1992-93 and 1994-95.

"Yes, it's going to be hard work with games coming every three days or so," he told the club's matchday programme.

"But, no, I'm in a great position – physically and, mentally, I'm fresh and ready to go. I hope, with every player coming back, we don't want anyone to pick up any injuries due to the amount of games we have coming up.

"Fingers crossed for all players out there – we don't want anybody picking up injuries so there are fully fit squads and everyone going full throttle at it, playing football. It's what we love to do.

"I've seen, on Sky, the fixtures and how many games are being shown every day really, so it's going to be a great time for the fans to sit back and watch.

"They will be disappointed they can't go to stadiums to support the lads, but it's the best we can do at the minute.

"I am sure it will still be a great time for fans and, hopefully, for the players as well."

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's side marked their return to action with a 1-1 draw at Tottenham and face another potential top-four rival on Wednesday.

Chris Wilder's men have stumbled in their first two games back, drawing with Aston Villa and suffering a 3-0 loss against Newcastle United.

The Red Devils sit fifth, five points behind fourth-placed Chelsea and two ahead of the Blades, with whom they drew 3-3 at Bramall Lane.

Manchester United captain Harry Maguire warned his team-mates they must improve when the Red Devils go head-to-head with Sheffield United in a blockbuster Premier League showdown.

United – fifth in the standings – will welcome seventh-placed Sheffield United to Old Trafford on Wednesday, with Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's men two points better off in the race for Champions League qualification.

Maguire and United are two points behind Chelsea, who occupy the fourth and final Champions League spot after Friday's 1-1 draw at Jose Mourinho's Tottenham.

United have already faced Sheffield United this season, playing out a thrilling 3-3 draw at Bramall Lane in November following Oli McBurnie's 90th-minute equaliser and Maguire has called for an improved performance.

"It was a crazy game," Maguire, who played for boyhood club Sheffield United between 2011 and 2014, told The United Review. "We were really poor in the first half. No doubt about it, it was one of our poorest first halves of the season.

"We managed to find ourselves two goals down but then got in a great position and looked like we were going to win.

"They didn't really create any chances in the last 20 or 30 minutes of the game and then, obviously with the last kick, they found space and it was a good finish from Oli McBurnie.

"In the end, it was a tough result to take but I don't think we deserved any more on the day than a point. We weren't good enough and know we have to perform better in this game."

The Blades' visit to the Theatre of Dreams will be the first at Old Trafford behind closed doors following the coronavirus pandemic.

"It's disappointing not to play in front of your fans but, one day, they'll be back," said England defender Maguire. "And, when they're back, I am sure the atmosphere is going to be even better and louder than it normally is at Old Trafford – if you can beat that.

"We're going to miss the fans. Home and away, they follow in great numbers and the support is incredible. But we know they're going to be in front of their TV screens, watching us, shouting us along, and the main thing is we want to put smiles back on their faces."

United have gone 12 matches undefeated in all competitions since losing to Burnley in January and Maguire added: "Maybe it does take away the home fans making the atmosphere uncomfortable for the away team, but it's still about the 11 players who turn up on the day.

"There is enough talent in our squad to go and beat anyone. We're fully focused on ourselves and are not looking at it being home or away. We're just seeing every game as a chance to try to get the three points and perform at our best."

Roy Keane said he was "sick to death" of David de Gea and "staggered" by Harry Maguire after their part in Steven Bergwijn's first-half goal for Tottenham against Manchester United.

The Red Devils went 1-0 down in north London in their first Premier League match since the coronavirus pandemic forced the competition to be suspended in March.

A simple long ball headed away by Luke Shaw came to Bergwijn, who ran straight past Maguire before firing a shot at De Gea that the United keeper failed to parry away.

Former captain Keane was left furious with the manner of the goal and claimed he would not have allowed them to travel home with the team if he were still playing.

"I'm shocked at that goal," he said at half-time on Sky Sports. "To give away that goal… I'm fuming here watching Manchester United.

"I can't believe Shaw, heading the ball up in the air and then running forward. I'm staggered at Maguire, staggered that an international player can just get done like that.

"And I'm sick to death of this goalkeeper. I would be fighting him at half-time. I would be swinging punches at that guy.

"This is a standard save for an established international goalkeeper. I am flabbergasted.

"Maguire and De Gea – I wouldn't even let them on the bus after the match. Get a taxi back to Manchester. They are established international players. We can analyse this until the cows come home. You just do your job.

"We are trying to get in the top four here, not win leagues. God forbid about winning trophies. I'm disgusted with it. Maguire, De Gea, you should hang your heads in shame."

Keane added of De Gea, who made a fine one-handed save to stop Son Heung-min making it 2-0: "He is the most overrated goalkeeper I have seen in a long time."

Manchester United captain Harry Maguire said he felt "so safe" as the Premier League giants returned to training amid the coronavirus pandemic.

United were back at Carrington on Wednesday after Premier League teams received the green light to resume training via small groups on Tuesday.

The 2019-20 Premier League season has been suspended since March due to the COVID-19 crisis – United were fifth and three points outside of the Champions League places through 29 games.

Maguire was delighted to be back training with the club, telling United's official website: "It's been a strange few months, but it has been a protocol which the club has followed. It seems such a safe environment.

"It's our first day back today, but it seems so safe and everyone is respecting it so well, so long may that continue and I'm sure no one will have any problems."

"There is a lot less people at the training ground when we go in," Maguire said. "Today [Wednesday] I was in a group of four, working with one coach, so not many people. You've got a lot space, big areas, not going really close to anyone, but the main thing is getting the work in and it was a tough session, [then] go home and now I'm relaxed and it's all in the bank and I'm looking forward to tomorrow."

Maguire added: "The safety, it seems really well organised. We all got tested before we came in, so everyone in the changing room has a negative test.

"Every morning we get our temperature taken before we get to the training ground, so obviously they're checking the temperature. We all have an app where we fill in to see if we've had any symptoms throughout the day. It's such a safe environment and it's an environment which is there to be built on. At the moment we're all just taking it phase by phase, step by step, and that's the only thing we can do at the moment.

"I think it's just taking it day by day. Like I said, the main thing is getting the physical work into our legs and it helps you mentally as well: being at the training ground and seeing familiar faces."

The Premier League season could restart in June and Maguire said: "Well, first and foremost, it's the first step. I think at this moment in time we've just got to take it step by step. We're in phase one, let's get through this phase without any troubles.

"I'm sure with the way things are set up and organised that should be done and then hopefully we can move into phase two and go from there. It's step by step, it's day by day. It's only the first day, but it's been a good start for me. To see the organisation has been really pleasing."

Manchester United captain Harry Maguire labelled Marcus Rashford the most talented player he has ever played with.

Rashford, 22, was enjoying a fine season, scoring 19 goals in 31 games, before suffering a serious back injury in January.

The England forward has continued to improve and Maguire lauded his United team-mate's talent.

"I think as a club, you should have a captain and rely on him, but you need to spread the onus of the leadership in the group," the defender told UTD Podcast.

"Marcus is there and he battles through every game. Obviously he's had a bad injury but he's battling hard to get back. He very rarely misses games.

"He's always wanting to make himself available. I think you can see around the place, on and off the field as well, he's excellent with his charity work, which is great to see.

"On the pitch, like I said, he's amazed me. He's the most talented player I've ever played with."

Rashford, who also has 10 goals in 38 games for England, was enjoying his most prolific campaign for United, reaching double-digits in the Premier League for the second straight season.

While Maguire hailed his team-mate, he was wary of putting too much pressure on Rashford.

"I've always spoken so highly of Marcus when I have been with him in the England squad. I can't speak highly enough of him. I think he's going to go on to have an exceptional career," he said.

"I don't want to put too much pressure on him but I think he's going to be a wonderful player for Manchester United, as he is now.

"He's the best six-a-side player I've played with. Marcus is in my team and I know he'd be banging in goals left, right and centre."

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has been key to most of the improvements that have been made at Manchester United since Jose Mourinho left, according to Luke Shaw.

Solskjaer was brought in as Mourinho's replacement on a temporary basis in December 2018, but after inspiring a significant upturn in form, he was given a full-time contract in March.

Performances and results dipped dramatically from then until the end of last season and issues seemed to remain at the start of 2019-20, but United had hit their best run of form since Solskjaer's appointment before the coronavirus pandemic led to a suspension in March.

United were unbeaten in 11 matches across all competitions, a run that included two wins over Manchester City, a 2-0 defeat of Chelsea at Stamford Bridge and back-to-back 5-0 triumphs in the Europa League against Club Brugge and LASK.

Shaw – who has been at Old Trafford since 2014 – highlighted the unity that has developed in the squad, suggesting it has been even more evident during the lockdown.

"It's great to see everyone helping each other out," he said in a diary entry on United's official website. "Carras [Michael Carrick, first-team coach] was on the group call the other day, praising us for looking after ourselves because everybody looks the same [in terms of physical assessments] as before lockdown, so he's happy.

"Everyone's working hard, we're pushing each other with our runs and helping each other out. Hopefully everyone can be back working together at the training ground soon.

"There really is a great feel about this group of lads now, and that has been the case for a while. I've seen a lot of changes during my time at United and I have to say that Ole has been responsible for a large amount of the improvements around the place.

"When he came in, he knew what was needed, what had to change to get things up and running again. He's signed people who aren't just good players, but also really good lads as well. They've integrated in the squad really well and brought a bit more energy and togetherness in the group."

Harry Maguire has been credited with having a particularly impressive impact off the pitch, with the pre-season signing from Leicester City already becoming club captain following Ashley Young's move to Inter in January.

Shaw feels Maguire's efforts have been focused on creating a better mentality in the group, with players agreeing to a code of conduct that sees them accept a fine if they miss bonding activities.

"He [Maguire] is really trying to make sure we get more things done together as a group going forward," Shaw continued. "Young was brilliant, really tried his hardest, but sometimes it was difficult to get things done as a group.

"Now we've made a pact that whenever a team bonding thing happens, we all have to do it or we get fined. It's great for the team to be together and do things together.

"In some groups, sometimes, there are people who just don't get on, which is natural when you've got big groups, but I honestly believe that in our squad everyone gets on really well.

"We all love each other, we all want to push each other to be the best and, of course, to get United as a club back to where it needs to be."

Saturday should have seen Barcelona host Atletico Madrid in LaLiga and pit Antoine Griezmann against his old club once more.

Griezmann left Atleti for Camp Nou in the second most expensive transfer of the previous close season, his €120million move eclipsed only by Joao Felix, the man bought to replace him.

Neither player has exactly enjoyed a resoundingly triumphant season, which is an affliction to hit many of the top 10 most expensive transfers of 2019.

We look at each of those players and whether their signings have, until now, been a hit or a miss...

 

JOAO FELIX: Benfica to Atletico Madrid (€126m)

Benfica and Portugal's golden boy scored in pre-season victories over Juventus and Real Madrid to give Atleti fans reason to believe the post-Griezmann future was bright.

However, just six goals in 28 competitive appearances later, doubts have been growing as to whether the 20-year-old forward will ever truly suit Diego Simeone's system.

VERDICT: MISS

ANTOINE GRIEZMANN: Atletico Madrid to Barcelona (€120m)

Griezmann vowed to stay at Atletico in 2018 only to change his mind a year later, and his performances for Barca are in keeping with a man not quite at ease in his surroundings.

Only Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez better his goal involvements for the Blaugrana in LaLiga this term (eight goals and four assists), while he is second only to Messi for chances created (26), but fans were entitled to expect more from the club's latest mega-money forward.

VERDICT: MISS

EDEN HAZARD: Chelsea to Real Madrid (€100m)

Chelsea fans feared the worst when their star man was lost during a transfer embargo, but things have hardly gone swimmingly for Hazard at the Santiago Bernabeu.

Injury problems have restricted him to just nine starts and a solitary goal and assist in LaLiga. He has also only created 14 chances, as many as James Rodriguez (who has started just four league games) and Lucas Vazquez (who has started six).

VERDICT: MISS

HARRY MAGUIRE: Leicester City to Manchester United (€87m)

The world's most expensive central defender might not be thought of as the world's best, but that should not detract from his impact on Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's side.

He leads the way for duels won, aerial duels won, blocks and interceptions among United defenders in the Premier League this season, helping them to eight clean sheets. Oh, and he's already been made club captain.

VERDICT: HIT

MATTHIJS DE LIGT: Ajax to Juventus (€85m)

The most coveted centre-back of the window after Ajax's remarkable Champions League run, De Ligt delivered a dreadful performance on his Juventus debut in a 4-3 win over Napoli.

He has won the most aerial duels and has the pass success rate of any Juve defender to feature more than five times in Serie A this term, but there are already doubts about his long-term suitability to Maurizio Sarri's side.

VERDICT: MISS

LUCAS HERNANDEZ: Atletico Madrid to Bayern Munich (€80m)

Bayern smashed their transfer record to sign defender Hernandez, but injuries have made it difficult to assess whether the money will prove to be well-spent.

A knee problem in September was followed by a serious ankle injury that kept him out for nearly four months, meaning he has started only nine games in all competitions for the Bundesliga champions.

VERDICT: MISS

NICOLAS PEPE: Lille to Arsenal (€80m)

Pepe was something of a symbol of Unai Emery's problematic final few weeks in charge as he struggled badly to find form for the Gunners.

He has certainly shown signs of improvement in 2020 – only Mesut Ozil (38) has created more chances in the league than Pepe (34) for Arsenal – but fans will have hoped for more from their record signing.

VERDICT: MISS

FRENKIE DE JONG: Ajax to Barcelona (€75m)

Another Ajax star who became coveted by clubs across Europe last year, De Jong opted for Barca and immediately became a regular in midfield.

He has not quite adapted to life in LaLiga - Ernesto Valverde's exit and Quique Setien's arrival as coach did not help - but, in turbulent times for the club, he looks to be a safe bet as the beating heart of Barca for years to come: he had created more chances (24) than any other Barca midfielder this term and only Sergio Busquets has more recoveries and interceptions.

VERDICT: HIT

RODRI: Atletico Madrid to Manchester City (€70m)

Manchester City's record signing has proved a smart bit of a business given midfield-anchor supreme Fernandinho has spent much of this season in defence.

Rodri has attempted more passes (1,996), recorded a better passing accuracy (92 per cent) and more recoveries (181) than any other City midfielder in 2019-20. He looks very much at home in Pep Guardiola's system.

VERDICT: HIT

ROMELU LUKAKU: Manchester United to Inter (€65m)

Lukaku's move to Inter seems to have been that rarity in modern-day transfers: a deal that has worked out well for everyone concerned.

United's attack is taking the more fluid shape Solskjaer wants, Antonio Conte at last got the forward he tried to bring to Juventus and Chelsea, and Lukaku has looked in the form of his career, with 17 goals and two assists in Serie A as part of a fearsome partnership with Lautaro Martinez.

VERDICT: HIT

Harry Maguire expects Paul Pogba and Bruno Fernandes to improve when the World Cup winner returns for Manchester United.

After a lengthy transfer saga, Fernandes arrived at Old Trafford from Sporting CP in January in a deal worth up to £67.6million (€80m).

The Portugal international made an immediate impact at United, scoring three goals and assisting four more in nine appearances in all competitions.

Maguire believes Fernandes provided something new in midfield for the Red Devils and thinks he and Pogba, who has featured just eight times this season due to foot and ankle injuries, will continue to improve through competition.

Asked about Fernandes, Maguire told Sky Sports: "He's been brilliant since he's come in. He's been brilliant off the field, around the training ground.

"He's a leader who wants to win. Everything he does, he wants to win. You can tell he's been brought up with that attitude.

"He's given us that little bit more life, a little bit more creativity in the middle that United fans have said that we've missed over the years.

"It's a start. I'm sure there are a lot of aspects of his game that I'm sure he will improve, and I'm sure he will. I'm sure he will get better for this club.

"We've got Paul to come back as well, who will probably lift his game even more. We've got good competition in central midfield now – they know they're going to have to be on their game to keep their spot. I'm sure we will see the benefits."

United had hit a rich vein of form before the season was suspended in March due to the coronavirus pandemic, going unbeaten in 11 and conceding in just two of those games.

An improvement in defending set-pieces and consistency in selection at the back were key factors, according to Maguire.

"It's been a great run of form for clean sheets," said Maguire. "Sometimes, you defend better in games where you concede one or two goals, but you manage to keep clean sheets, maybe David [de Gea] pulls off one or two great saves, and then everyone praises the defence.

"One thing we have shored up on at the moment is defending set plays. If you look back at our record before this run of clean sheets, for defending set plays we were up there as one of the worst in the league.

"If you can't defend set plays and [you are] not scoring at the other end from them, you're not going to stand a chance in getting where you want to go.

"We've just gelled together more. It's a new back four, obviously Luke [Shaw] has been playing really, really well of late. Aaron [Wan-Bissaka], me and Vic [Victor Lindelof], Eric [Bailly] is coming back and pushing for their place, which makes everyone up their game because, when he has come in, he's done well.

"We've got a settled back four, learning each other's games really well."

Manchester United are not content with challenging for the Champions League spots because they want titles, and Harry Maguire feels they are on the right track to achieve that.

After being the dominant force in the Premier League under Alex Ferguson, United have failed to top the table since his departure in 2013.

Louis van Gaal steered the Red Devils to the FA Cup in 2016 and Jose Mourinho masterminded an EFL Cup and Europa League double the following year.

United sat fifth, three points adrift of fourth-place Chelsea, when the coronavirus pandemic brought a halt to the season in March.

Maguire, who arrived from Leicester City in an £80million transfer in August, believes Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has the team on course to return to the top of English football.

"I think you can see from the start of the season, we look a lot more like a team. You can see where we want to go, where we want to head," Maguire told Sky Sports.

"I knew when I first came to Man United, Ole said to me loads and loads that it's a building process but we will get to where we want to be. I can see where we are heading and the style that he wants to implement on our team.

"Don't get me wrong, there are still plenty of aspects we need to improve upon to get to the top, which is where we want to be. We don't want to be challenging for Champions League spots, we want to be challenging for titles.

"We know there is still a lot of improvement to get there, but we are on the right track. I’m sure we will eventually get there."

Maguire has been a key figure for United this season and was made club captain when Ashley Young departed for Inter in January.

Asked if anything has surprised him at Old Trafford, the England international said: "The expectation. Playing for Manchester United, every game is so big.

"I knew that before coming to the club, I'd spoke to ex-players – I spoke to Jonny Evans a lot, who fully recommended such an unbelievable club.

"It's more than a football club, I think you see that with the way they've acted during this crisis. It's something that works well in the community, in Manchester. You've seen that with the things they've done."

While the football world may be at a standstill due to the coronavirus pandemic, that's not stopping transfer rumours from swirling in their usual manner, with Sevilla's Diego Carlos a name persistently mentioned of late.

A Brazilian centre-back recruited from Nantes last year in a reported €15million deal, the 27-year-old is enjoying a fine debut campaign in LaLiga, quickly establishing himself as a fan favourite and key member of Julen Lopetegui's team, who are third in LaLiga.

An impressive physical specimen, athletic and comfortable with the ball at his feet, Diego Carlos has been most intensely linked with Liverpool – Jurgen Klopp is said to be a big fan and has apparently identified him as a potential partner for Virgil van Dijk.

But Barcelona and Real Madrid have also been mentioned as admirers, having been able to have a close-up look at him in LaLiga.

With a €75m release clause, Diego Carlos certainly won't come cheap – but we've examined Opta's data to compare him with 16 of Europe's best centre-backs…

THE HOLLYWOOD PASS

The Sevilla team Diego Carlos plays in is quite direct, as such it's no surprise to see he plays a large portion (229) of his passes long – of our select group, only Van Dijk (281), Leonardo Bonucci (249) and Mats Hummels (235) have attempted more.

That undoubtedly impacts his overall pass accuracy of 83 per cent, the worst of the 17 players examined. However, Sergio Ramos has attempted only 10 fewer long-range passes, yet his overall completion rate is significantly better at 91 per cent.

His accuracy is even more unimpressive in the opposition's half, as it comes down to 64 per cent, compared to Ramos and Clement Lenglet at 87 per cent. Nevertheless, Sevilla's vertical style of play is significantly different to the setups of Real Madrid and, in particular, Barcelona, while the data does not take into account how difficult each pass was.

Regular Sevilla watchers will tell you Diego Carlos has a penchant for an eye-catching cross-field pass, but the data doesn't lie – many don't reach their target.

Only 48 per cent of his long-range passes find a team-mate, which again is the worst of the players analysed. It poses the question as to whether such a direct system is suited to Diego Carlos' attributes.

He is less prone to giving the ball away when distributing short – as you would expect most players to be – as he finds a Sevilla player with 90 per cent of those passes, but only Harry Maguire (89 per cent) has a lower record in this scenario, the highest being Presnel Kimpembe (96 per cent).

MUSCLE FOR A TUSSLE

Don't let his clean-cut, well-coiffed exterior fool you - one thing Diego Carlos certainly cannot be accused of is shying away from collision. He has been involved in 196 duels this season, with only Maguire (287), Van Dijk (247), Ramos (213) and Mats Hummels (205) from our select group recording more.

The Brazilian's success rate of 56 per cent in those duels is middling, though. Van Dijk leads the way here, coming out on top 75 per cent of the time in such situations.

But Diego Carlos does come off fairly well with respect to tackling, having attempted 30 and been successful 19 times. That gives him a success rate of 63 per cent, better than 10 others in this select group, including Van Dijk (55 per cent) and Ramos (62 per cent).

Diego Carlos isn't dribbled past very often either, with only eight occurrences of that this term. Six of the chosen group have better records, though three of them are on seven and only one – Leonardo Bonucci (two) – has been beaten fewer than six times.

GET RID!

The clearances metric is where Diego Carlos performs best. He has found himself in the right position to clear danger 128 times in 2019-20, the third best among defenders in LaLiga.

Only Van Dijk (135) and Maguire (132) have a better record in this area from our group, though it's worth bearing in mind the likes of Barcelona, Bayern Munich, Paris Saint-Germain and others do not find themselves in defensive situations as often as Sevilla.

He also leads the way in terms of headed clearances in LaLiga with 71, just shy of Maguire's 80, while Diego Carlos' 25 interceptions is a solid effort as well, though it is some way behind the Manchester United captain's 53.

While it's fair to say Diego Carlos still has areas of his game that can be improved, it's worth stressing that some data points reflect – or are influenced heavily by – the team's setup.

Although the accuracy of Diego Carlos' long passes – a feature of Sevilla's direct system – leaves a mark against his name here, as an out-and-out defender, he is not disgraced when compared to a group of centre-backs most would consider the elite, an applaudable feat given this is only his fourth season in one of Europe's top-five leagues.

Defenders included in the select group: Virgil van Dijk, Harry Maguire, Sergio Ramos, Gerard Pique, Clement Lenglet, Raphael Varane, Presnel Kimpembe, Marquinhos, Dayot Upamecano, Benjamin Pavard, Mats Hummels, Manuel Akanji, Matthijs de Ligt, Leonardo Bonucci, Milan Skriniar, Kalidou Koulibaly

 

Manchester United have donated medical equipment, food and gifts to local medical centres, with Alex Ferguson leading the praise of the NHS and the response to the coronavirus pandemic.

The Premier League club's foundation have delivered protective equipment, other medical supplies and over 3,500 United gifts to staff at NHS Foundation Trusts in Salford and Manchester.

United also said they would be willing to allow the NHS to use Old Trafford's facilities and 16 vehicles belonging to their foundation, while 30,000 items of food and drink stored at the stadium have been sent to food banks, hospitals and charities.

Former United manager Alex Ferguson, who had emergency surgery after suffering a brain haemorrhage two years ago, expressed his appreciation for the health service.

"I'm delighted we are now recognising the importance of our NHS - as I experienced two years ago after they saved my life," Ferguson said on United's official website.

"The response to this pandemic has been magnificent and has made me proud of the way the club and the British people have rallied round to help. Well done."

Those words were echoed by Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, one of Ferguson's successors and the current incumbent of the United job.

"The NHS staff and the volunteers fighting the virus are putting themselves at risk to keep everybody safe and doing a truly amazing job," Solskjaer added.

"They deserve thanks and praise from everybody for their work and their efforts every single day."

On Wednesday, Premier League players announced the creation of a fund to help health services, with United captain Harry Maguire coordinating the effort from Solskjaer's squad.

"On behalf of all the players, our thoughts are with all those that have been affected by this terrible virus," the England international said.

"It has been heart-warming to see the nation come together to show their appreciation to the NHS and other critical workers."

Manchester City are without the injured Kevin De Bruyne for the derby against Manchester United, with captain Harry Maguire passed fit for the hosts.

De Bruyne suffered a shoulder injury after coming off the bench during last week's 2-1 EFL Cup final win over Aston Villa.

Pep Guardiola has opted not to risk the Belgium playmaker – whose 26 Premier League appearances this season have yielded eight goals and 16 assists – as City head into a busy period, including the return leg of their Champions League last-16 showdown with Real Madrid.

Maguire rolled his ankle in training this week and sat out the FA Cup win at Derby County but returns alongside Aaron Wan-Bissaka (back) and Daniel James (knock).

United are unbeaten in nine matches across all competitions but have only won one of the past eight Premier League derbies at Old Trafford.

Boyhood City fan Phil Foden, man of the match at Wembley last weekend, enjoys his first start in the fixture, while right-back Joao Cancelo features in a Premier League starting XI for the first time since mid-January.

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