Ole Gunnar Solskjaer said Manchester United's fixture schedule will be "physically impossible" for his players in the wake of their progress to the Europa League final.

Despite losing 3-2 in the semi-final second leg on Thursday, United secured their place in a cup final for the first time under manager Solskjaer with an 8-5 aggregate win over Roma.

United started with a strong side in Rome despite their 6-2 first-leg win, with Edinson Cavani scoring in each half to help the Premier League giants progress despite goals from Edin Dzeko, Bryan Cristante and an Alex Telles own goal.

The Red Devils must now return for a hectic run of three Premier League games in five days. They visit Aston Villa on Sunday, host Leicester City next Tuesday and tackle Liverpool next Thursday in a match that was postponed from last weekend due to supporter protests against the owners.

Solskjaer appeared resigned to the fact his players are unlikely to be able to play at their maximum against three tough opponents.

"It's unheard of," he told BT Sport. "[The decision] was made by people who have never played football at this level. It's physically impossible for the players.

"We have not been dealt a good hand. We are going to need everyone for these four games. It's a short turnaround, but we have to be ready."

United had lost their previous four semi-finals under Solskjaer, including in last season's Europa League, and they needed Cavani's goals and 10 saves from goalkeeper David de Gea to keep Roma at bay amid a somewhat erratic performance.

"It feels good to be in the final," said Solskjaer. "We played one very, very good half at Old Trafford, which has taken us through. I'm disappointed we lost, especially the way we played in the second half.

"It could easily have been 8-6 to them. It was a strange game. We kept giving them the ball but luckily we have one of the best keepers in the world. We are in the final and are looking forward to May 26."

Captain Harry Maguire accepted United gave up too many opportunities in the Italian capital and was full of praise for Cavani's clinical scoring touch.

"It's a great achievement to get to the final," he said. "We didn't win the game and that's disappointing but we did the hard work in the first leg.

"We started the game a bit edgy. It was end to end like basketball and we gave them too many chances in the second half.

"Now we've got to go to the final and win it. Edinson scored two great goals and his movement and work rate without the ball is excellent.

"His second goal is typical of him and what he has done throughout his career."

Harry Maguire defended John Stones after bailing out his centre-back colleague's error with a late winner in England's 2-1 World Cup qualifying victory over Poland on Wednesday.

England's 100 per cent start in Group I was seemingly about to end after Harry Kane's first-half penalty was cancelled out just before the hour by Jakub Moder.

Stones was robbed just outside his own box by Moder, who nudged the ball to Arkadiusz Milik and quickly received a return pass before emphatically firing beyond Nick Pope with the first shot on target England had faced in the group.

But Maguire lashed in a fierce effort of his own five minutes from time, latching on to a knock-down by Stones at a corner, ensuring the Three Lions made it three wins from as many games on the road to Qatar 2022.

It stretched England's winning run at home in World Cup and European Championship qualifiers to 20 matches going back to October 2012, and Maguire was keen to downplay Stones' initial mistake.

"John [Stones] has been brilliant this year," Maguire told ITV Sport, alluding to the Manchester City defender's emergence as a key player for Pep Guardiola's runaway Premier League leaders.

"Defenders make mistakes and when we do we get scrutinised. He's had a great year, a great camp as well. He made one little mistake but made up for it with a great header at the back post, that's what he's there for.

"I said to him to just keep going, keep going and we'll get the win and we managed to do that."

While Stones' technical talents have never been in doubt, the former Everton defender has been prone to the occasional lapse in concentration throughout his Premier League career.

Since joining City before the 2016-17 season, only six outfield Premier League players have made more mistakes leading to shots than Stones (12) has across all competitions, while Granit Xhaka (eight) and Dejan Lovren (seven) are the sole individuals to have brought on more goals with mistakes than the England man (six).

But this season Stones appears to have turned a corner, with the 26-year-old yet to see any error of his lead to a shot or goal for City.

As such, Maguire does not believe Wednesday's mishap is anything more than a blip.

"We're defenders, we always make mistakes," Maguire added. "Obviously, we don't like making mistakes but sometimes we are at fault for goals. We're not perfect, by any means, and John obviously had a little blip tonight.

"He will come back strong. He's in great form club and country, he's been brilliant over this camp and apart from that little mistake, which I'm sure he won't make again soon, it was a big performance from him to come back strong with the reaction he made and getting the assist is important for the team."

England manager Gareth Southgate echoed that sentiment, applauding Stones' response.

"He managed to compose himself for the rest of the game and had a part in the winning goal which was important - you can fold in those moments and he didn't," Southgate said.

"He's been having a good season and he's made a mistake tonight, he knows that but he bounced back during the game and he's got to keep doing that."

Harry Maguire bailed out what looked set to be a costly John Stones error as the Manchester United defender scored England's late winner in a 2-1 victory over Poland on Wednesday.

Gareth Southgate's men, who had begun a new World Cup qualifying campaign with wins over San Marino and Albania, just about did enough against a Poland side without the injured Robert Lewandowski.

The Three Lions were good value for their lead amid a commanding first-half display, Harry Kane becoming England's all-time leading penalty scorer on 10 as he converted after fine play by Raheem Sterling.

Stones gifted Poland a chance that Jakub Moder capitalised on in the 58th minute, though he played an important role as Maguire's goal maintain England's unblemished start in Group I.

 

England played the ball around with swagger during the early exchanges and almost opened the scoring in the eighth minute, only for Phil Foden to head Ben Chilwell's cross over after Mason Mount carved the Poland defence open.

Nevertheless, England did not have to wait much longer to take the lead, Kane confidently dispatching a penalty having seen the lively Sterling clumsily tripped by Michal Helik.

Kane was then denied a second just past the half-hour mark, latching on to Foden's clever first-time offload and forcing Wojciech Szczesny into an applaudable save down to his right from 20 yards.

But England were pegged back before the hour, Stones – who had put England in trouble a few minutes earlier only to be bailed out by Nick Pope – was robbed just outside his own penalty and Moder applied an emphatic finish after being fed by substitute Arkadiusz Milik.

England's response was meek, the home side's urgency showing little sign of improvement as the seconds ticked away – Foden's weak right-footed shot in the 69th minute causing Szczesny no bother.

There was to be a final hurrah for the hosts, however, as Stones made up for his earlier blunder by heading a corner delivery back into the danger zone and Maguire smashed past the helpless Szczesny to seal the points.

Gareth Southgate is set to bring up 50 games in charge when England start their qualifying campaign for the 2022 World Cup.

San Marino are the visitors to Wembley Stadium for the milestone match, with Southgate the seventh to make it to a half-century at the helm for England.

His record so far is impressive: 29 wins, 10 draws and 10 defeats. He has also introduced some notable names to international football, many of which will form the backbone for the Three Lions in this year's delayed Euro 2020 tournament. 

In total, 42 players have made their senior debuts under the current boss. Plenty have made an impact, though some have fallen by the wayside since getting a taste of the senior team. 

HITS 

Jesse Lingard 

Lingard is the only member of the current England squad to have made his debut in Southgate's first match in charge, a 2-0 win over Malta in October 2016. The 28-year-old was a key member of the 2018 World Cup squad but has not featured for his country since the Nations League Finals nearly two years ago, having struggled for minutes at Manchester United. 

However, a January loan move to West Ham has paid off. No player has been involved in more goals – Lingard has scored five while also providing two assists – since his debut for the Hammers in February. Southgate – who advised the player to remain in the Premier League – has duly taken note, handing him a recall. 

Harry Maguire 

Maguire made his first England appearance against Lithuania in October 2017, when he was playing for Leicester City. The centre-back quickly established himself in Southgate's side for the World Cup semi-final run, while he has continued to be a mainstay since for the national side.  

Indeed, the Manchester United defender has missed just 14 possible outings for club and country since that maiden outing, starting 28 out of England's 30 matches. 

Kieran Trippier 

Paris was the setting for Trippier's bow, the full-back handed a chance in a 3-2 friendly defeat against France that saw him start alongside then-Tottenham team-mates Eric Dier, Dele Alli and Harry Kane. 

Now playing his club football in Spain with Atletico Madrid, the 30-year-old continues to be a key attacking outlet for Southgate's teams. His total of 55 chances created since June 2017 is comfortably the highest for England, with striker Kane second on the list with 37. 

Jordan Pickford 

No player has both played and started more games for England under Southgate than Pickford, whose debut came in November 2017.  With 30 appearances, he sits one ahead of Maguire.

The Everton goalkeeper will not be involved as his manager celebrates his 50th match at the helm, though, as an abdominal muscle injury sees him missing for March's World Cup qualifiers. His absence also offers some of his rivals for the starting job an opportunity to stake their claim to be considered number one, with Pickford's form having been somewhat unconvincing for a while.

Declan Rice 

Rice's introduction to action for England came via a substitute appearance during a 5-0 win over the Czech Republic two years ago, replacing Alli just after the hour mark. 

The midfielder started all six of the Nations League qualifiers in 2020-21, including scoring his first international goal in a 4-0 triumph over Iceland. As for his club career, only Rio Ferdinand and Joe Cole played more minutes in the Premier League for West Ham than Rice before the age of 22.


MISSES 

Nathaniel Chalobah 

Having represented England through the youth levels from under-16s upwards, Chalobah has so far played one solitary minute for the senior team, with his late, late opportunity coming against Spain in October 2018.  

Since then, the former Chelsea midfielder has started just 42 league games for Watford. This season he is plying his trade in the Championship, contributing three goals and an assist as the Hornets aim for an immediate return to the top flight. 

Dominic Solanke 

Solanke was part of the England squad that won the 2014 European Under-17 Championship, including scoring in a final against the Netherlands that was eventually settled by a penalty shoot-out. 

His senior debut came against Brazil in November 2017, but he has not been involved since. The striker signed for Bournemouth in January 2019 but failed to score in his first 38 Premier League appearances for the club, a barren run finally ended with a brace against Leicester in July 2020. He has been far more prolific in the Championship, getting 11 goals.

Lewis Cook 

Cook had success with England at youth level, captaining the squad that went all the way at the Under-20 World Cup. Solanke was also involved in that tournament, along with full internationals Dominic Calvert-Lewin, Ainsley Maitland-Niles, Dean Henderson - who was not first choice in goal - and Fikayo Tomori. 

The midfielder's maiden appearance for the senior side earned his grandfather a tidy windfall through a winning bet, but that outing as a substitute against Italy at Wembley remains his only cap. Since then, he has started 58 games for Bournemouth, scoring once. 

Jack Cork 

Another to be handed a late cameo by Southgate, Cork featured for all of four minutes in a friendly with Germany in November 2017. A young line-up that included new faces Pickford and Ruben Loftus-Cheek managed a 0-0 draw at Wembley. 

The midfielder – who was part of the Great Britain squad coached by Stuart Pearce at the 2012 Olympic Games in London – was a regular at Burnley before injuries hampered him in the current season, restricting him to just nine league outings for Sean Dyche's team in the 2020-21 campaign. 

Lewis Dunk 

Dunk has helped Brighton and Hove Albion rise from League One to the Premier League, with his performances earning him an England opportunity against the United States in November 2018. He started in a 3-0 win that saw Wayne Rooney make his 120th and final appearance for the Three Lions. 

The centre-back has not featured since, however, despite remaining a mainstay for his club. Since August 2018, Liverpool's Virgil van Dijk (10) is the only defender to have scored more Premier League goals than Dunk's impressive total of nine.  

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer hopes Paul Pogba can give Manchester United a "big boost for the rest of the season" after he made an instant impact on his return from injury.

Having not featured in United's previous 10 games, Pogba scored within three minutes of coming on as a substitute against Milan in the Europa League, his goal securing a 1-0 victory in the second leg at San Siro.

The result was enough to see the Premier League side progress 2-1 on aggregate, meaning they will be in Friday's quarter-final draw.

Solskjaer was delighted to have the France international available again, particularly as he had been in such outstanding form prior to suffering a thigh problem against Everton in early February.

"We've missed Paul. He's been out for over two months and any team would miss a player like Paul Pogba," Solskjaer told BT Sport.

"He was just getting into his best form. He's very important for us and will give us a big boost for the rest of the season. Today, he made a very, very big difference."

United had conceded a late equaliser in the first leg at Old Trafford, yet this time they held firm to keep a clean sheet against their Italian opponents.

Goalkeeper Dean Henderson produced an excellent save to deny Zlatan Ibrahimovic an equaliser, while Victor Lindelof and Harry Maguire excelled in defence for the visitors.

The centre-backs both made five clearances, plus the same number of interceptions each, though Solskjaer was pleased with how the whole team had worked so hard to keep Milan at bay.

"You give yourselves a chance to win games of football [with clean sheets]," the Norwegian said.

"Dean had a fantastic save towards the end, from the big lad (Ibrahimovic). I'm very pleased with everyone and their defending, right from the front.

"Dan James, Mason [Greenwood], Marcus [Rashford] and Bruno [Fernandes] - the front four pressing like they do.

"We always know that the back six – with Scott [McTominay], Fred and the back four – always give everything."

Solskjaer felt United should have had an early penalty following Fikayo Tomori's challenge on James, the referee's decision to refrain from awarding a foul ultimately not costly.

But Solskjaer said it demonstrated just how cup ties can hinge on key decisions.

"You've got to be spot-on in cup competitions. Anything can happen," the United boss said.

"Today, I think it's a penalty on Dan James in the first minute, or five minutes, whatever. Sometimes you get it, sometimes you don't. If you get that against you, anything can happen in cup competitions.

"We are through, we're confident and we're looking forward to the draw."

The Red Devils have an FA Cup quarter-final against Leicester City to come at the weekend, their last fixture before the international break.

A second coming for Cristiano Ronaldo in the Spanish capital?

After a trophy-laden spell with Real Madrid, Ronaldo made the switch to Juventus.

But Madrid's all-time leading goalscorer is reportedly keen on a second stint at the Santiago Bernabeu.

 

TOP STORY – RONALDO EYEING MADRID REUNION

Cristiano Ronaldo wants to return to Real Madrid, according to the frontpage of Saturday's Diario AS.

Ronaldo's future with Juventus has been placed in doubt following the club's Champions League last-16 exit.

The five-time Ballon d'Or winner, who left Madrid for Juve in 2018, has reportedly been in contact with Los Blancos for months.

 

ROUND-UP

- New Barcelona president Joan Laporta will offer superstar captain Lionel Messi a fresh contract in the coming weeks, reports Mundo Deportivo. The deal would include Messi – heavily tipped to join either Paris Saint-Germain or Manchester City as a free agent at the end of the season – becoming a club ambassador after retirement. Laporta is also set to push ahead with moves for Bayern Munich's David Alaba, Borussia Dortmund sensation Erling Haaland and City forward Sergio Aguero.

City lead the race to sign Haaland, according to the Daily Mail. Haaland is a player in demand, linked with Manchester United, Chelsea, LiverpoolJuve, PSG, Barca and Madrid.

Joao Felix is also an option at the Etihad Stadium. Cuatro claims the Atletico Madrid star is a target if Aguero leaves City.

- Le10Sport claims PSG remain in talks with Neymar over a four-year contract extension. A deal is believed to be some way off.

Harry Maguire wants United to sign an English-speaking defender, reports The Transfer Window Podcast. The Red Devils have been linked with Madrid captain Sergio Ramos and team-mate Raphael Varane, Sevilla's Jules Kounde, RB Leipzig centre-back Ibrahima Konate and Napoli star Kalidou Koulibaly. But Brighton and Hove Albion's Ben White has emerged as a target.

- TMW Radio says Atletico could be set to make a move for Napoli midfielder Fabian Ruiz. The Spain international has been previously linked with Barca and Madrid.

Manchester United captain Harry Maguire paid tribute to the "brilliant" job Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is doing as manager, adamant he has overseen an improvement in their fortunes.

Maguire is in his second season at United, having joined in 2019 in a reported £80million deal, making him the most expensive defender of all time.

Solskjaer guided United back into the Champions League last term, though their third-place finish with 66 points was still seen as somewhat underwhelming given the significant amount of money spent on the team and the fact title-winners Liverpool ended up with 99 points.

Although the Red Devils failed to get out of their Champions League group, with Paris Saint-Germain and RB Leipzig going through instead, United do look likely to improve significantly on their haul of 66 points – after 28 Premier League games, they have 54 following the weekend win over leaders Manchester City.

That 2-0 victory probably came too late in the season to do any real damage to City's march towards the title, with Pep Guardiola's men still 11 clear at the summit, but Maguire believes there are clear signs of progress under the Norwegian.

"We have a great relationship," Maguire told UEFA about Solskjaer ahead of Thursday's Europa League last-16 first leg visit of Milan.

"I feel he's done brilliantly – he's cool, calm, but he's also got the side of him where he can turn when he needs to and when the players need a little telling-off.

"We're close. We speak a lot before training, before games. I give my ideas to him and how I feel the group is and the mentality of the group and what we can improve on and where we can go as a club, and he's exactly the same.

"We've definitely improved. I joined two years ago, and people didn't think we'd get in the top four. We got in the top four, and then you start the next season and people don't think you'll get in the top four [again].

"But then when you find yourself, let's say, sitting second in the table, people then say: 'Well, Manchester United should be second in the table; they should be challenging for the top.' So, everything… it's just the demands, the demands, the demands.

"The mentality has changed. We're more consistent now. Obviously, it was disappointing to get knocked out in the Champions League, but we've found ourselves in a position in the Premier League where now we've got to kick on."

United are in the knockout phase of the Europa League for the second successive season – in 2019-20 they made it to the semi-finals but were beaten by Sevilla.

The omens are not great for United this time around, either – they have been eliminated from four of their five knockout ties with Milan, with no team knocking them out of European competitions more often.

Nevertheless, Milan's recent record in the last 16 of European tournaments is poor, being defeated at this stage in six of seven previous occasions they have gone this far into a continental competition.

Manchester United star Bruno Fernandes insisted "people will always complain about everything" after scoring in the derby win away to Premier League leaders Manchester City.

Fernandes was on target in Sunday's 2-0 victory over City, converting a penalty after just 101 seconds at the Etihad Stadium as United snapped the hosts' 21-match winning streak.

The Portugal international was in the spotlight prior to United's success against City – his record against 'top six' clubs criticised following his performance against Chelsea in the goalless draw last time out.

Tottenham were the only club among the established 'top six' that Fernandes had found the back of the net against this season – a penalty in Octobers 6-1 humiliation at home to Spurs – before opening the scoring versus City.

"Every penalty has the same pressure for me," Fernandes, who has 16 goals and 10 assists through 28 games this Premier League season, told MUTV when asked if he felt the weight of expectation. "It's always pressure to take a pen, doesn't matter if it's against City, or another team. It's always pressure to take the pens.

"I like that kind of pressure. It's good pressure. I knew what I had to do. I did it in the right way with the right power and I'm happy to score, of course.

"Honestly for us it's about winning. People will always complain about everything. Today it will still be Bruno never scores in big games.

"They will put open play no goals, it was a penalty [and say] it doesn't count! So for us the most important thing is winning the game.

"It doesn't matter how you score, when the ball touches the net it's a goal. I will be happy and it doesn't matter if it's me or another one scoring."

Luke Shaw was also on target five minutes into the second half as United extended their unbeaten streak away from home in the league to 22 games.

United have won three consecutive away games in all competitions against City for the first time since a run of four between November 1993 and November 2000.

But United remain 11 points adrift of City atop the table with 10 matches remaining.

"I think it was almost perfect," added Fernandes of the performance. "We created a lot of chances where maybe we could finish better, or play a better last pass or last shot.

"When we create chances it's always good because if you create it's a sign you're playing well and trying to do something different.

"I think we played a little bit better in the second half because in the first half they pressed as well. We had more counters but in the second half we are clearer and we take more control of the game at times.

"They have more of the ball than us, they pass more times with the ball. Anyway, [in terms of] opportunities I think we had the best ones and for me the most important in the game is the result. The result for us is on our side, so it's perfect."

United captain Harry Maguire said post-game: "We have brilliant coaches and a brilliant manager and brilliant analysts as well.

"Credit to them because they are the ones who sent us out in that formation and those tweaks when they have the ball. We knew they were going to keep the ball at times and the positions that they find themselves in, they have a lot of possession.

"We've seen that in recent games, so we had to be patient at times, but we had to make sure we kept getting up to the ball, kept getting contact, keep making tackles. I felt that we did that really well. 

"For sure we can improve, we can do better in parts of the game. But it's an important win, an important performance after a disappointing trip to London in midweek. Now we have to dust ourselves down and go again. We've got another big game on Thursday [against Milan in the Europa League last-16 first leg]."

At various points during the early stages of this Premier League season, Manchester City and Manchester United had their defensive capabilities called into question by television pundits.

As soon as the opening weekend 3-1 defeat to Crystal Palace, in fact, Gary Neville emptied a bucket of cold water upon transfer speculation surrounding Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's squad.

Speaking on Sky Sports, the former England and United defender gave a damning assessment of Harry Maguire and Victor Lindelof's centre-back capabilities

"You can talk about Jadon Sancho all you like, but until they get a centre-back in that can run and defend one on one, you're never going to win the league," he said.

A weekend later, City were hammered 5-2 at home to Leicester City – a result that immediately preceded the club-record arrival of Ruben Dias from Benfica.

The Portugal international's debut came in a harum-scarum 1-1 draw at Leeds United, after which beIN Sports' anchor Richard Keys offered a more radical solution to Pep Guardiola.

"It can't be that hard, he could go and watch Roy Hodgson work. Or he could bring Sam Allardyce in on a temporary basis."

Things have changed a little since then. City head into Sunday's top-of-the-table clash 14 points clear of United in second and aiming to extend a 21-match winning run across all competitions.

Central to that, and untouched by the hand of Allardyce, is a water-tight defence and the supreme alliance formed by Dias and a rejuvenated John Stones.

Silk and steel

In the 14 Premier League games Dias and Stones have started in tandem, City boast 13 wins and a draw, keeping 11 clean sheets

Goals for each man in last weekend's 2-1 win over West Ham mean they are responsible for four goals at the other end during these matches – one more than the three they have conceded overall.

In his debut Premier League season, Dias boasts a win percentage of 75 per cent thanks to 18 victories from 24 matches.

Stones' own win rate leaps to a frankly absurd 94 per cent, finishing on the winning side in 15 of his 16 Premier League outings in 2020-21. Guardiola's men have only conceded four times with him on the pitch.

Though Keys opined that Guardiola might have been sacked for his "reckless" spending before settling upon Dias, acclaim for the Catalan tactician and his first-choice central defenders has otherwise been close to universal.

Over on the red side of Manchester, however, Neville still isn't happy.

Drawing blanks and protecting keepers

Despite being the centre-back pairing in each of United's five 0-0 Premier League draws in "big six" encounters this season, last month Neville described Lindelof and Maguire as a "problem" to one another on account of their individual attributes.

Demanding defensive changes for a team who have just run up three consecutive goalless draws in all competitions might, on the face of it, look like a fairly off-target conclusion.

However, outside of those matches that were as high on anticipation as they proved low on goals, another picture emerges.

In 20 Premier League games together, Lindelof and Maguire have seven clean sheets this term – only two outside of big-six encounters. United have won half of those games, drawing eight and losing two, leaving them way down on City's 92.9 per cent success rate when Dias and Stones start together.

Overall, United have conceded nearly double the amount City have let in across the Premier League season, with 32 set against 17.

Expected goals on target (xGOT) numbers collected by Opta – figures that illustrate the overall quality of chances faced  - show City's first-choice goalkeeper Ederson is better protected by his defence than United number one David de Gea.

Ederson has conceded 15 times and has an xGOT of 18.61, meaning he has conceded fewer goals than expected, something that cannot be said for De Gea, who will sit out the weekend game after returning home for the birth of his child.

An xGOT figure of 25.9 is outstripped by the 27 the Spain international has let in. Although his negative goals prevented score of 1.1 does Maguire, Lindelof and those others in front of him a slight disservice, he is being given more taxing work to get through than Ederson.

Building from the back

It is not the case that Stones and Dias are flying into numerous last-ditch challenges to spare their goalkeeper, much as they appear to relish that work when it arrives.

A chunk of their value to Guardiola stems from how they are each able to get City swiftly back on the front foot.

Every 90 minutes, Dias averages 16.3 progressive carries, with Stones on 14.7. On this metric, despite his noted ability with the ball at his feet, Maguire tallies 11.8, with Lindelof down on 9.8.

Building play from the back is another non-negotiable for Guardiola's defensive players and City's 161 build-up attacks – open play sequences featuring 10 or more passes that end in a shot or a touch in the opposition penalty area - are the most in the Premier League this season.

Despite the apparent risk they run of playing themselves into trouble, 120 high turnovers against and 14 shot-ending high turnovers are once again the best results in the division.

By contrast, United have conceded 35 shots from high turnovers – the second-worst in the league – from 205 such instances. Solskjaer's men have attempted 91 build-up attacks, suggesting his team create too many problems for themselves.

Stones and Dias have managed their shutouts compilation despite City having the highest defensive line in the Premier League, starting attacks an average of 45.2 metres from their own goal. United's 42.9m is third behind Liverpool, although the lack of pace Neville has highlighted in Solskjaer's first-choice pairing might be encouraging a measure of caution.

Even if Maguire and Lindelof are able to wheel out their effective spoiling act to thwart the City juggernaut this weekend, Neville is right that the bigger picture needs better solutions at his old club. Although, probably nothing as outlandish as suggesting Sam Allardyce as a specialist defensive coach.

Luke Shaw and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer will not face action from the Football Assocation for their comments about referee Stuart Attwell after Manchester United's 0-0 draw at Chelsea on Sunday. 

United felt hard done by in the first half at Stamford Bridge when the video assistant referee (VAR) brought to Attwell's attention a possible handball by Callum Hudson-Odoi in his own penalty area. 

The incident occurred just before a tussle with Mason Greenwood, who subsequently also appeared to touch the ball with his arm. 

Attwell was advised to review Hudson-Odoi's action on the pitchside monitor, yet no penalty was given despite replays appearing to show the Chelsea wing-back's hand in an unnatural position when coming into contact with the ball.

Shaw claimed in a post-match interview with Sky Sports that Attwell had told United captain Harry Maguire giving them a penalty would "cause a lot of talk after". 

United later clarified that Shaw misheard Maguire's conversation with the official. 

While Solskjaer refused to explicitly repeat Shaw's accusations, he was aware of what was said and made no attempt to shut them down, before also insisting it was "100 per cent" a penalty. 

He then went on to accuse Chelsea of influencing referees via content published to their website ahead of the match, with Maguire's recent VAR brushes the focus of the article in question. 

Yet despite the comments made by Shaw and Solskjaer, neither is set to face any disciplinary action, with the FA not considering them to be in breach of the rules and regulations. 

Luke Shaw claimed referee Stuart Attwell told Manchester United captain Harry Maguire that giving a penalty in Sunday's draw with Chelsea would have "caused a lot of talk".

The Red Devils saw their unbeaten Premier League run away from home stretch to 20 matches following a 0-0 stalemate at Stamford Bridge.

In the first half, Attwell checked on the pitchside monitor to see if a penalty should have been awarded to United when a bouncing ball struck the raised hand of Callum Hudson-Odoi, who was tussling with Mason Greenwood.

The official stuck with his initial decision not to give the spot-kick and, according to Shaw, he indicated to Maguire that changing his mind could have caused controversy.

"At the time I saw a handball and didn't know if it was Mason or Callum," Shaw told Sky Sports.

"I didn't know it was a potential check and that they needed to stop [the game] if it wasn't going to be a pen.

"But I heard the ref say to H [Maguire]: 'If I give a pen, it's going to cause a lot of talk after'. H was told it was a pen by VAR, but I'm not going to moan."

Speaking on Sky Sports, former United captain Gary Neville said the penalty would have been given before the guidance on handball incidents in the box changed in the Premier League earlier this season.

"There's no doubt earlier in the season that this would have been a penalty," he said. "Hudson-Odoi's panic is the fact that his arm shouldn't be there. I think it is a penalty."

However, Chelsea boss Thomas Tuchel said awarding a penalty would have been nonsensical as the ball also struck Greenwood's arm, though it hit the Man United forward second.

"How can this be a VAR intervention? The player in red plays the ball with the hand and then we are checking for a penalty? Why does the referee have to see this?" he said.

"I've seen it on the iPad, I don't understand why the referee has to check it but I'm glad it was no penalty. That would make it even worse."

The draw saw United move a point above Leicester in second in the table, although leaders Manchester City are 12 points clear.

 

Manchester United captain Harry Maguire has been impressed by Thomas Tuchel's work at Chelsea but is determined to "spoil" the Blues' unbeaten run when the sides meet on Sunday.

Chelsea have drawn two and won six of their eight matches in all competitions since Tuchel replaced Frank Lampard in the Stamford Bridge dugout on January 26, scoring 10 goals and conceding just twice.

Tuchel's men have moved to within six points of second-placed United, who enter the clash at Stamford Bridge on a club-record 19-game unbeaten streak on their travels in the Premier League.

That run started with a victory in this fixture 12 months ago and Maguire is hopeful of picking up another triumph in west London this weekend, with United going in search of back-to-back league wins at Stamford Bridge for the first time since 1995.

"Chelsea's obviously going to be a tough game but we went there last year and won and we will be looking to do that again," he told the club's official website. 

"They are keeping their position very nicely and build up really well and not conceding many goals, so it is a good start. We are hoping to spoil that.

"It is a great reaction [to the change of manager]. They are a great group of players with tons of talent and the money they spent in the summer, they are starting to gel, starting to tick, but we have got to look at ourselves, first and foremost.

"We go into the game full of confidence, full of belief. We will make sure we play to the ability of what we are capable of and go and get the three points."

Maguire was an unused substitute for the goalless draw with Real Sociedad on Thursday - a result that saw United advance to the last 16 of the Europa League as 4-0 aggregate winners.

The England international has started every league game for United this term and is eager to help his side prolong their eight-match unbeaten run in all competitions.

"Every three or four days you've got to be focused and mentally prepared to go and get the three points," he said.

"You have got to be prepared to keep winning, winning, winning and finding that consistency to enable us to get to where we want to be. If you want to get to where we want to be, you have got to be consistent."

United have won their last three away games against Chelsea in all competitions, having also prevailed at Stamford Bridge in the FA Cup and EFL Cup, but they have never previously won four on the spin.

Donny van de Beek is back in contention to feature after missing United's last two matches through injury, but Scott McTominay has been ruled out while Edinson Cavani and Daniel James are major doubts.

Harry Maguire and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer were left confused as to why West Brom's opener in Manchester United's 1-1 draw on Sunday was allowed to stand after an apparent foul.

United dropped points for the fourth time in five Premier League games, as the Red Devils were unable to make the most of their dominance at The Hawthorns.

Bruno Fernandes got United's goal on the stroke of half-time, taking him to 38 goal involvements for the club in as many league games, a record bettered by only Andy Cole (46) in his first 38 Premier League games.

But United failed to build on that as they struggled to break West Brom's packed defence down, meaning Mbaye Diagne's early goal consigned them to another disappointing result.

But there was more than a hint of controversy around Diagne's goal, which stood despite the striker clearly catching Victor Lindelof in the face with his hand.

The situation left Maguire and Solskjaer baffled.

Maguire, who had a goal of a similar nature disallowed against Burnley, told Sky Sports: "We created a lot of chances - enough to win the game.

"It was tough for ourselves with the goal we conceded - for us it was a foul. We played the game in their half. We can do more and improve but it's disappointing. It was a tough job against a team that defends deep."

Speaking to beIN SPORTS, Solskjaer added: "I'm an ex-forward, so it's not as if I'm going to say it's a big foul against Victor, but why did Harry's goal against Burnley – and I know I'm going back a bit here – [get disallowed] … Where's the consistency here? There's absolutely no consistency in any of these decisions.

"If Harry's against Burnley is a foul, that is miles worse. As a striker you say well done, because if that had been taken away from me I would have been disappointed, so it's just the consistency we're looking for."

The draw put United second again but meant they were seven points adrift of leaders Manchester City, who also have a game in hand.

Manchester United's players must demand success of each other in order to win their first silverware under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, according to captain Harry Maguire. 

Solskjaer's side advanced through to the quarter-finals of the FA Cup on Tuesday, recording a 1-0 extra-time win over West Ham thanks to Scott McTominay's strike. 

It was the Scotland international's seventh goal in 30 appearances for the club this season - as many as he managed in 84 outings in previous campaigns. 

United also have a Europa League last-32 tie with Real Sociedad to come later this month and are five points behind leaders Manchester City in the Premier League, albeit having played a game more. 

After reaching the semi-finals of three competitions last season, as well as losing at the same stage to City in the EFL Cup last month, Maguire is determined to get over the line this time around. 

"Last season, it was disappointing to lose in the semi-finals like we did, but we've got to win trophies," he told MUTV. 

"We've got to demand that of each other. We do. We demand that we win trophies and it's vital the team starts winning trophies, for the club and the fans as well."

United's clean sheet against West Ham was their sixth in 10 matches and Maguire felt his side were good value for the win at Old Trafford. 

"We got there in the end and we deserved it," he said. "We felt comfortable on the pitch.  

"I felt in the first half we played with intensity and dominated the game, played the game in their half and had chances where we should be one, two, three up." 

Victory for United was the ideal response to Saturday's 3-3 league draw with Everton, a defensive display Maguire concedes cannot be repeated. 

"When we've conceded, we've conceded too many - when we concede one it seems to be two. It was three against Everton. That's not good enough for this club,” he said. 

"We were disappointed at the weekend. We felt we deserved the three points but we couldn't feel sorry for ourselves.  

"We knew we had to come here tonight and bounce back and get that momentum back on our side ready for Sunday [against West Brom]." 

The Red Devils have won their last nine FA Cup matches at Old Trafford - their joint-longest home winning run in the competition, equalling their nine in a row between 1908 and 1912. Maguire is hoping they will get to play at their own ground again when the draw for the last eight is made on Thursday. 

"Yes, of course. We love playing at this ground, and we've got to make it tough for people to come here and get results," he said.  

"We need to get better and we seem to have improved a little of late. But no, obviously, we want a home game. 

"We fancy our chances against anyone. We just need to look after ourselves, perform well and assure that we start winning trophies at this club."

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer believes the pain of the late collapse against Everton inspired Manchester United to edge past West Ham in the FA Cup fifth round.

Scott McTominay's goal, seven minutes into extra-time, earned United a 1-0 win over the Hammers in a match the Red Devils dominated, leading the shot count 17-3.

Three days earlier, Solskjaer's side let a 2-0 lead slip and then conceded a stoppage-time equaliser in a 3-3 draw against Everton that dented their Premier League title bid.

Following some soul-searching after dropping the precious points at Old Trafford, Solskjaer believes United responded in the best way possible to advance to the FA Cup quarter-finals.

"We needed to have a good result and a good feeling today because we were low after the Everton game. It's hard to take but they were really focused and did the job," Solskjaer said.

"Of course you want to win every game. We want to challenge and we want to go to the final. That's what we're here at Manchester United for.

"Sometimes you're lucky with draws in the cup – we haven't been that lucky – but obviously we move another step closer to the final."

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