Roy Keane believes Manchester United fans have "had enough" and predicted further protests after Sunday's game with Liverpool was postponed due to scenes at Old Trafford and in the city.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's side were due to face the reigning Premier League champions at home at 16.30 local time, but kick-off was delayed due to demonstrations against the club's owners, the Glazer family.

After protestors assembled outside the ground, some gained access to Old Trafford and entered the pitch, while others gathered outside the Lowry Hotel where the United squad stay prior to home matches.

Around an hour after the game had been due to kick off, United announced it had been postponed "due to safety and security considerations around the protest". The clubs will agree to a new date with the Premier League.

United fans have long been vehemently opposed to the Glazer ownership due to the significant levels of debt added to the club following their leveraged takeover in 2005, but the failed attempt by the Red Devils and the Premier League's 'big six' to join a breakaway European Super League has fuelled animosity in recent weeks.

While the Super League appears dead in the water for now after the six English clubs withdrew from the plans, anger towards executives such as the Glazers and Arsenal owner Stan Kroenke has abated little among supporters.

Former United captain Keane believes Sunday's protests were just the start, telling Sky Sports: "The United fans have had enough and they're doing it because they love the club.

"It's not just as a result of what's happened the last two weeks with the Super League... it's been building for a number of years. They've come to the end and feel enough is enough. It's a huge statement for the game to be called off. 

"There's been a build-up in tension, whether it be about ticketing, poor communication, things going on in the background.

"The leadership of the club has not been good enough. When they look at the owners, they feel it's just about making money. The United fans have looked at the Glazers and thought 'enough is enough'. 

"They're doing it because they love the club. Some people won't agree with it but sometimes you have to put a marker down for people to take notice.

"This will go out all over the world, and hopefully the owners of Manchester United will sit up and take note. These fans are deadly serious and there's more to come, and this is just the start of it from United fans – I guarantee it."

Fellow former captain Gary Neville, who was scathing over the proposed formation of the Super League, said: "I think it's a warning to the owners of the football club that, ultimately, they're not going to accept what they've done in the last couple of weeks.

"Beyond today, it should be about reform. Protesting is the right of every single person in this country, we must retain that, but beyond today, it's about making sure that fans across the country unite to make sure there's reform in English football, or else [these protests] will be a waste of time.

"There are people protesting in London today against the government trying to stop protests! We have to allow protests, but there is always the potential of there being a flashpoint because there will always be one or two people who may have had a drink, they might just be coming to antagonise, or they might be coming for ulterior motives. That will always happen.

"The reality is that what happened two weeks ago has ignited the United fan base into life again. It's brought them back to life.

"Fifteen years ago, there were a lot of fans who were upset, and every one I speak to are absolutely disgusted by what happened a fortnight ago. United were leading this thing, as were Liverpool, two weeks ago. They are the biggest clubs in this country."

Manchester United's home match against Liverpool was postponed after Red Devils fans earlier entered Old Trafford in an anti-Glazer protest.

Manchester United and Liverpool do appear set to face off at Old Trafford despite anti-Glazer protests resulting in a delayed kick-off, with the two sides naming starting XIs as planned.

United supporters entered the Old Trafford pitch to protest against club owners the Glazer family after earlier gathering outside the team's hotel ahead of Sunday's home game with Liverpool.

United's involvement in the breakaway European Super League, which swiftly collapsed, has reignited lingering resentment of the ownership at Old Trafford.

The Glazers, who acquired the club through a leveraged buyout in 2005, have long been unpopular but have become the subject of increased criticism in recent weeks.

Fans surrounded The Lowry Hotel, where United stay before home matches, on Sunday, letting off red smoke bombs and leading anti-Glazer chants.

The demonstration did not end there, however, with some supporters gaining access to the stadium and then the pitch, with flares hurled towards the directors' box and press area – spectators are not currently allowed at Premier League stadiums due to the coronavirus pandemic.

As such, it was thought there was a possibility of the match being cancelled due to COVID-19 bubble breaches.

The Premier League has confirmed that action has not been taken, with kick-off instead delayed. However, a new time has not been decided.

When it does eventually get started, United will be out to avoid suffering the defeat that will hand neighbours Manchester City the title.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has made few changes to the team that thrashed Roma on Thursday, though Edinson Cavani – a scorer of two goals in that game – is dropped to the bench in favour of Mason Greenwood in the only notable alteration alongside Dean Henderson coming back into the team.

As for Jurgen Klopp's Liverpool, there are few surprises in their starting XI, though Roberto Firmino joins Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah in attack – Diogo Jota has to settle for a spot on the bench.

 

Manchester United supporters entered the Old Trafford pitch to protest against club owners the Glazer family after earlier gathering outside the team's hotel ahead of Sunday's game against Liverpool.

United's involvement in the breakaway European Super League, which swiftly collapsed, has reignited lingering sentiment against the ownership at Old Trafford.

The Glazers, who acquired the club through a leveraged buyout in 2005, have long been unpopular but have become the subject of increased criticism in recent weeks.

Fans surrounded The Lowry Hotel, where United stay before home matches, on Sunday, letting off red smoke bombs and leading anti-Glazer chants.

The demonstration did not end there, however, with some supporters gaining access to the stadium and then the pitch.

Spectators are not currently allowed at Premier League stadiums due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer said this week: "When the protests are going on, it's important that they go in a good fashion and that we keep it peaceful."

Defeat for United against bitter rivals Liverpool on Sunday would see neighbours Manchester City handed the title.

Jurgen Klopp has made clear Naby Keita remains part of his long-term plans at Liverpool, despite the midfielder enduring another stop-start season at the club.

Injuries have hampered Keita ever since he joined from RB Leipzig. The Reds showed patience to finally get one of their primary transfer targets, completing a deal in August 2017 that saw the player spend one final season in Germany before heading to Anfield.

There have been flashes of his obvious talent since arriving, but Keita has seemingly been stuck in a frustrating cycle of fleetingly good moments followed by spells out of the team.

This campaign has been no different: Keita has made just nine starts in all competitions, the last of them coming in a 3-1 Champions League defeat at Real Madrid that saw the Guinea international substituted before half-time.

"It was not about Naby, but I did it and now I'm not happy about it because we talk like it's Naby's responsibility. It was not. It was tactical," Klopp said about the change.

The German coach has not started the talented 26-year-old since, a decision he revealed ahead of Sunday's clash with Manchester United was due to the need for stability in selection, particularly with the upheaval in defence.

With Virgil van Dijk, Joe Gomez and Joel Matip all out, there has been a rotation of different options used at the heart of the back four, including midfield duo Fabinho and Jordan Henderson, who is now sidelined himself.

"A lot of things have been tricky this year. We've had to change so often and then you have to in the moment try and go for stability, that's what we really need," Klopp told reporters while previewing the trip to Old Trafford.

"For example, take Manchester United, where the last line [of defence] has played together for nearly 20 games now. Then you can make changes everywhere because you have a proper base.

"We never had that. On top of that, making two or three changes in midfield just doesn't work out. People say to try it, and I would if I could only be nearly sure that it would work out, but you need stability in a football team.

"Other teams are just too good for you to make eight or nine changes. That has hit a few players this year, some of them have been injured and coming back."

Keita has played 683 minutes in all competitions this season. There have been just seven league starts, and in five of those he was taken off.

A positive coronavirus test in October forced him to isolate, while thigh and knee injuries have kept him away from the first team too.

There been no goal involvements amid such limited opportunities, but he has created 10 chances at an average of 1.32 per 90 minutes, a rate just below regular Roberto Firmino (1.38) and better than both Diogo Jota (1.06) and Curtis Jones (0.88), two potential rivals for spots in the first XI.

Circumstances outside his control have worked against him, but Klopp has no intention of seeing the Liverpool cut their losses with Keita, who was a club-record signing at the time his move was confirmed.

"Naby trains really well, I have to say. Really well. Like a lot of other players, he looks really good in training," the Liverpool boss said.

"But this year we need stability. We will make changes from time to time, definitely, but it's not like we can take out seven, eight or nine players to change and say maybe we can win like this.

"The long-term future of Naby Keita, from my point of view, is here."

Jurgen Klopp believes dwindling confidence in front of goal is at the root of Liverpool's ongoing struggles this season, as opposed to bad luck.

Although their active defence of the title has long since ended, Liverpool could formally end their stint as Premier League champions by claiming a much-needed victory over rivals Manchester United at Old Trafford on Sunday.

If Manchester City beat Crystal Palace on Saturday and their neighbours lose to Klopp's men, Pep Guardiola's side will be crowned kings of England for the third time in the past four seasons.

That development might not be overly surprising, but the distance from which Liverpool have watched it unfold – having been the main counterpoint to City's pretentions of dominance over the previous three years – certainly has been.

The Reds are sixth in the table, four points shy of fourth-placed Chelsea with five games remaining heading into the weekend, meaning anything other than three points against United would make their chances of Champions League qualification increasingly remote.

Long-term injuries to key defenders Virgil van Dijk and Joe Gomez have taken a significant toll but a misfiring attack has been under the spotlight over recent weeks.

Firing blanks

In three consecutive draws against Real Madrid, Leeds United and Newcastle United, Liverpool had 54 shots – including efforts blocked, as per Opta – and scored twice.

"We had a really detailed look at all the situations that we created over the last seven or eight games just to get an overview," Klopp told Sky Sports. "It is not unlucky. There are moments where we are unlucky. But if you are unlucky so often there must be something else.

"Sometimes it sounds a little boring, but we know we have to improve. The one thing we have to keep working on is the finishing. We have to finish the situations off. We have created [many] chances in the last three games and scored twice. That is obviously not enough.

"The performance around that shows you that something was right in the game. We had really good spells, but the important moment is the last moment. We cannot expect it to change overnight but we will not stop working on it.

"It is not exactly the football of last year, maybe, but it is all fuelled by that one moment. Either you score or you don't score. We have to keep working. We don't have to change inside out, 360 degrees or whatever. We only have to improve and to make it click."

Mane and Firmino under pressure

Such problems were unforeseeable at Christmas after Liverpool routed Palace 7-0 to go clear at the top of the table.

In the 19 Premier League games since, Liverpool have scored 19 times despite amassing an expected goals (xG) figure of 30.3. An xG underperformance of -11.3 is comfortably the worst in the division over this period.

Mohamed Salah has scored seven times in the top flight since December 25 and remains in the hunt for the Golden Boot on 20, one shy of Harry Kane. However, his attacking allies Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino have managed three and one in 17 appearances apiece since then.

Salah and Mane are converting those opportunities Opta classes as "big chances" at 23.5 and 23.1 per cent success rates over the period in question, with Firmino languishing on 12.5 after netting one out of eight.

Compared to the trio most likely to feature in United's forward line this weekend, the lack of efficiency is stark. Since Christmas Day, Marcus Rashford has put away 37.5 per cent of his big chances, with Mason Greenwood and Edinson Cavani snaffling 40 and 50 per cent respectively.

"We can see the boys are not confident enough in the moment," Klopp said. "They don't use their first touch. They want to make sure the ball is in the right position and then it is too late, the defender jumps in.

"There are a lot of things. After not scoring for a while, you do not use some situations for finishing. That is normal because we are not flying."

Big six appeal

Funnily enough, the Untied game might be just what Liverpool need.

Shelling points to the likes of Leeds and Newcastle, due to late equalisers from Diego Llorente and Joe Willock, has been symptomatic of their season.

In games between the Premier League's 'big six' this term, Liverpool have won five, drawn two and lost two to claim 17 points – a level-best points haul from those matches alongside City.

"It is about talking to them, helping them to find solutions," Klopp added. "You can do that in training. All that is fine but then the game starts and the first ball does not go in, the second ball does not go in and the third ball does not go in. It is like a wound that is bleeding again.

"That is what you can see on the pitch. But a missed chance is information. You have to use it. The things we did to get in the position were right, so do it again but just adapt a little bit. Keep going. Stay positive."

Liverpool's trip to Manchester United on Sunday will likely be the most watched and fiercely debated match of the weekend in the Premier League, but in a sense there is feeling of it being something of a damp squib.

Perhaps it would be different were fans allowed into Old Trafford, but for the time being they remain absent.

Make no mistake, both teams still have particular ambitions to achieve this season. It's not quite a dead rubber.

But regardless of achieving their respective current targets – reach the top four for Liverpool, and United securing second place in the assumption Manchester City won't suddenly capitulate – there will still be a sense of unfulfillment.

United want more, Liverpool expected more.

Realistically the best Liverpool can hope for now is fourth, and even then that looks a tough ask, while United will seemingly have to settle for second. Although by no means a poor season for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's men, the Red Devils' fans will surely never be entirely happy with second, especially when it's their neighbours finishing above them.

City have, for the majority of the season anyway, been considerably better than the rest. So what can United and Liverpool do to potentially bridge the gap next season?

MAN UNITED

Seek more from the right side of the defence

In recent years, when United have had issues with their team they have perhaps been too willing to chuck a load of money at the issue – maybe that's the solution here, or maybe there are young talents coming through who are ready for the next level, only Solskjaer really knows that.

Nevertheless, an area where United can improve is the two right-hand berths of their defence.

While Aaron Wan-Bissaka has proven himself a very capable defender, it's fair to say he's still lagging behind in the attacking department. His 26 chances created isn't horrendous, but there's undoubtedly a lot of room for improvement.

For example, Wan-Bissaka's 78.7 touches per 90 minutes this term is only slightly fewer than Luke Shaw's 82.2, but the left-back has played 130 (196 compared to 66) more passes into the penalty area. He's far more forward-thinking and at the moment that gives United a certain predictability in the final third.

No one would say Wan-Bissaka is a lost cause, but currently he has no competition. Shaw's improvement since having Alex Telles to put pressure on him has been considerable – perhaps such encouragement would work for the right-back as well?

Wan-Bissaka's lack of effectiveness in attack is certainly not their only issue in defence, however – Victor Lindelof appears to have hit a ceiling.

Although stylistically he seems a decent fit for Solskjaer's system as he is comfortable in possession – as evidenced by his 13 goal-ending open-play sequences being bettered by only Maguire among Premier League centre-backs – teams tend to target him because he's far less domineering.

Not since 2016-17 has Maguire averaged fewer than three aerial wins per game: Lindelof's never even reached three, while there have also been concerns about the Swede's positioning.

That's highlighted by the fact he averages considerably fewer interceptions per 90 minutes compared to Maguire (0.9/1.8).

Get an actual right winger

Again, it remains to be seen whether United's move here would be to buy or trust youth – after all, they did spend a small fortune on Amad Diallo last year, though his influence has been minimal at most since linking up with United in January.

Mason Greenwood seems their best option on the right at the moment and his form has picked up significantly of late after an underwhelming first two-thirds of the season. His ineffectiveness at times this term paved the way for Daniel James to get back into the side, and few United fans would consider the Welshman to be anywhere good enough as a long-term, first-choice option.

While Greenwood has certainly been an effective presence out on the right at times, he's not exactly been an effective creator – nine players (to have featured at least 10 times) in the United squad can better his chance creation frequency of 0.8 per 90 mins.

Now, perhaps that's partly skewed by his early season form, yet only Bruno Fernandes (3.3) averages more shots than Greenwood (3.2) each game.

With Edinson Cavani reportedly set to stick around for another season, United might opt to begin moulding Greenwood to become his replacement, thus freeing up the right-wing slot for someone else.

Facilitate a Pogba and Fernandes partnership

You'd think this would be simple, and recent evidence has strongly suggested they can coexist – after all, both were excellent against Roma on Thursday.

But since Fernandes joined, United have only won 55.2 per cent of games across all competitions in which they've both featured, as opposed to 72.2 per cent when one or the other has been missing.

Few would disagree that they are United's two most talented players, but occasionally squeezing them both into the side has resulted in Pogba being shunted out wide. While still functional there, that's clearly not the best use of his talents.

Developing their partnership may require Solskjaer to loosen the strings of pragmatism a little. He likes to play Fred and Scott McTominay together in the midfield when some feel they might be better off with just one of them.

Now, whether that's because he doesn't truly trust Pogba and Fernandes off the ball, or if he's actually not convinced enough by Fred nor McTominay defensively, only he knows.

But allowing Pogba and Fernandes to consistently thrive in the same team would surely work wonders for United in the final third.

LIVERPOOL

Provide better cover for Alexander-Arnold

If there's one Liverpool player who's shouldered the most criticism in this underwhelming title defence it's arguably Trent Alexander-Arnold.

But some of the flak has been a little harsh, whether it's been focused on his attacking productivity or defensive positioning.

Granted, his chance creation is down from 2.5 to two per 90 minutes and that's understandably been reflected in an assists decrease from 13 to five.

But the flipside to that is in 2019-20 he massively over-performed his xG value of 9.7, whereas this term there's only a 0.8 difference (five assists, 5.8 xG). This suggests that, where he was benefiting from his team-mates' brilliant finishing last term, in 2020-21 that's not been the case.

As for his defensive output, there's little evidence to suggest he's doing worse. On the contrary in fact, he's actually averaging more tackles, tackles won and interceptions than in 2019-20, while only one perceived error by Alexander-Arnold has led to a shot this season. He was guilty of three in the title-winning campaign.

The key thing we have to consider when analysing Alexander-Arnold's season, however, is the extent of Liverpool's defensive injuries.

It would be fair to assume that he's not been quite as much of an attacking threat because he's been playing in an often-makeshift defence, holding back a little because the threat of an opposing attack is greater without the likes of Virgil van Dijk.

Presuming Van Dijk and Joe Gomez stay fit next season, that in itself is a much more solid base. That may, in theory, provide Alexander-Arnold with the necessary assurances that encourage greater attacking impetus.

Get more from Thiago

Another Liverpool player whose ability has been called into question a lot this season is, remarkably, Thiago Alcantara. A key cog of Bayern Munich's all-conquering 2019-20 side, but on Merseyside he's had to contend with plenty of doubters.

While he was initially seen as the final missing weapon to Klopp's arsenal, the kind of player who could provide greater creativity in a midfield that beforehand was more functional that fun, many have since gone full revisionist.

Many of the concerns have related to suggestions he's not the right fit for Liverpool's intense style of play, particularly how high up the pitch they press.

But there is very little evidence to back such claims up. PPDA data suggest it's actually nonsense. PPDA is the number of opposition passes allowed outside of the pressing team's own defensive third divided by the number of defensive actions by the pressing team outside of their own defensive third.  

Liverpool's this season is 10.6 whereas Bayern's last season was 9.8, indicating that Die Roten actually press slightly higher than the Reds.

No, the far likelier cause of Thiago's underwhelming season is probably the human side of football. It can be easy to forget sometimes that footballers are people too. Having your first season at a club mired by injury problems, which also affected you, and contracting coronavirus cannot be the ideal situation.

We'll surely only get a better grasp of Thiago's suitability at Liverpool next season.

Refresh the frontline

As Mohamed Salah continues to thrive, his excellence not only highlights himself, but also casts a shadow of doubt over Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino.

While critics have been unconvinced by Firmino for some time, despite clearly offering a lot to the Reds when at the peak of his powers, questions over Mane are a rather newer phenomenon.

In 2019-20 he had a hand in 25 Premier League goals (18 scored, seven set up), but he's on less than half of that at the moment (eight goals, five assists).

Having outperformed his xG by 4.4 last season, he's now 3.9 under his xG value of 11.9 for 2020-21. Firmino's under-performance in 2019-20 was five, this term it's 4.4.

For Mane, this means that where he was proving to be remarkably deadly in 2019-20, he's now wasteful – Firmino is spurning more opportunities than he should, again.

Nevertheless, Mane's form over the previous two seasons probably has him quite a lot of credit in the bank – if anyone's at threat, it's Firmino.

Diogo Jota has proven a versatile and dependable alternative to all of the front three, but Klopp might prefer more of a focal point at the tip of the attack in the long run.

If there's anywhere in the team attack where the Reds might feel that can get someone better, it's probably in the place of Firmino.

A fine week could yet get better for Manchester City, who may clinch the Premier League title this weekend.

But any celebrations will take place in their living rooms, rather than on the pitch.

If City win at Crystal Palace on Saturday, they will be keenly watching on Sunday as Liverpool travel to Manchester United.

A peculiar development could see reigning champions Liverpool beat their bitter rivals to hand their own crown to City.

It would be the sixth time the Premier League title has been settled at Old Trafford, the most of any stadium, while City's 2017-18 success was also confirmed by a United home defeat – to West Brom on that occasion.

This could be the 11th occasion in the competition's history the championship has been secured with the victors watching from elsewhere.

Using Opta data, we run through four of the most memorable examples.

Arsenal 0-3 Middlesbrough: Gunners giftwrap United's title

It was a case of when not if United would win the title in 2000-01, but rivals Arsenal might still have preferred to put up more of a fight.

A quite remarkable defeat to Middlesbrough saw the Gunners score two of their opponents' three goals for them. It is one of just two occasions in Premier League history Arsenal have scored two own goals in the same game (also v Blackburn in 2011).

Brazilian pair Edu and Sylvinho were the guilty parties, meaning this remains the only occasion two non-British players from the same country have scored own goals for the same team in a Premier League match.

Arsenal 2-3 Leeds United: Highbury delight again for Fergie

United's run of three straight championships was ended in 2001-02 with defeat against Arsenal at Old Trafford, but the Gunners' own home was the setting again 12 months later when Alex Ferguson's side reclaimed their crown.

Ian Harte grabbed one of three Leeds goals, scoring direct from a free-kick at Highbury for the third season running. No other player in Premier League history has done so in three straight away games against an opponent.

United's triumph was sealed by Mark Viduka, though, his 88th-minute winner the latest from an away player at Highbury since Roy Keane's August 1999 effort for United. Arsenal did not concede a decisive goal as late again at home in the Premier League before their 2006 move to Emirates Stadium.

Chelsea 2-2 Tottenham: Spurs implode to prompt Vardy party

Sunday's match at Old Trafford comes five years to the day since the 'Battle of the Bridge', an epic affair that had Leicester City's players celebrating a stunning success from Jamie Vardy's house.

Tottenham needed to win to keep their hopes alive and raced into a two-goal lead at the home of Chelsea, champions a year earlier but awful in their title defence.

An extraordinary collapse followed. Spurs had nine players booked – one of them, Mousa Dembele, was later suspended for six games for an eye gouge – as the Blues battled back and Eden Hazard's first home league goal in a day shy of a year sealed Leicester's triumph.

Chelsea 2-1 Manchester City: Blues at it again at the Bridge

Stamford Bridge provided the scene again last season as Liverpool's first Premier League title win was confirmed. It meant three of the past six titles had been decided at Chelsea's home, including the Blues' own triumph against Crystal Palace in 2014-15 and the Tottenham game the following season.

With Chelsea also sealing the title with a win at West Brom in 2016-17, they have been involved in four of the past six clinching matches.

Willian's penalty secured the points after a Fernandinho red card, and Guardiola will be glad to this year avoid a late-season trip to SW6, where he has a joint-high four away defeats in his coaching career. City do still have to welcome Chelsea to Manchester, though, and each are well-placed in their respective Champions League semi-finals.

Liverpool head coach Jurgen Klopp says he will treat the Europa League with respect should the Reds qualify for the second tier continental competition.

The 2019-20 Premier League champions are currently sixth on the table, four points behind fourth-placed Chelsea in the final Champions League qualification spot with five games to play.

As a result, Liverpool appear destined to play in the Europa League in 2020-21 for the first time since 2015-16.

"Since I am in England we have only played in the Europa League once and we went to the final [in 2016 against Sevilla], so it was good apart from the final," Klopp said. "Last night I saw a Man United team enjoying the Europa League a lot.

"It depends obviously which competition you are in and the circumstances around it, but it was always like this. We will not think 'my God now we have to play that'.

"It is a great competition and I haven't thought it through to the end because I know even though it is not likely that there is a little chance [for the Champions League] as well, so let's give a try and think about what happens next season."

The Reds take on second-placed Manchester United on Sunday in the league as they bid to keep alive their top four aspirations.

"Five wins won't be enough, it depends how the other teams do obviously, but without five wins we don't have a chance," Klopp said.

"Man United still think they can become champions, rightly so, so we think we can still go to the Champions League, but we need results in other games. We know that."

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has urged Manchester United supporters to "keep it peaceful" with their protests against the club's owners.

A demonstration by disgruntled fans is expected to take place before Sunday's Premier League clash with Liverpool at Old Trafford.

The Glazer family's ownership of United has not been popular for many years, but the club's involvement in the recent European Super League plans saw confidence in the hierarchy take a further hit.

United signed up but then withdrew from the competition 48 hours after the league was launched, along with domestic rivals Manchester City, Arsenal, Chelsea, Tottenham and Liverpool. 

Executives and owners of those clubs have taken flak from fans who objected to the 'breakaway' nature of the Super League. There have been supporter protests at various grounds around the country, and now United's stadium could see a big turnout from disenchanted fans.

"It's important the fans' views are listened to and we communicate better," Solskjaer said.

He added: "When the protests are going on, it's important that they go in a good fashion and that we keep it peaceful."

Solskjaer was unsurprisingly not inclined to criticise the owners, instead pointing to the support he has found when looking to strengthen the United squad.

"My job is to focus on the football side," said the Norwegian, whose team sit second in the Premier League and have one foot in the Europa League final.

"I've been backed, I've had great support from the club and the owners, and I'm sure I will get the backing again to go one step further."

United's 6-2 win over Roma on Thursday in the first leg of their Europa League semi-final should mean the return game in Italy is as near to a formality as such matches can be.

Now United have a chance not only to tighten their grip on second place, but also to dent Liverpool's Champions League qualifying prospects.

Jurgen Klopp's Premier League champions have seen their crown slip this term, and they trail fourth-placed Chelsea by four points with just five games to play.

Defeat at Old Trafford would be a hammer blow to those hopes, but Solskjaer dismissed the idea it could be on his players' minds.

He said: "We're just thinking about winning ourselves. Whatever that does to Liverpool cannot be of our concern.

"Throughout the season you have games you look forward to and this Liverpool game at home is one of the biggest games of the season.

"It doesn't matter if we're first or second or third or fourth. No matter what, this is a massive, massive game."

Jurgen Klopp has seemingly dented Liverpool fans' hopes of seeing Virgil van Dijk in action again this season after acknowledging he is still "quite a way" from returning to first-team training.

Van Dijk has missed much of the season having suffered an anterior cruciate ligament injury against Everton in October, ruling him out ever since.

His was just one of numerous defensive injury issues Liverpool have had to contend with this season, and it has subsequently wreaked havoc with their season as they go into Sunday's trip to Old Trafford against Manchester United four points adrift of fourth.

Van Dijk's leadership and imperious attributes made him a huge part of the Reds' Premier League title triumph last season, playing all 38 matches.

Only one defender in the league bettered his 191 aerial wins, he attempted – and completed – more passes than any of them and Trent Alexander-Arnold was the sole defensive player to have more than his 3,624 touches of the ball.

His excellence did not only help keep them solid at the back but his influence stretched to their wider philosophy on the ball as well, yet they have been without that for most of 2020-21.

And, despite videos of Van Dijk running emerging on social media on Thursday, Klopp is urging fans not to get over-excited.

"I don't have enough English words to say the same thing that often," Klopp told reporters. "Yes, he is running like Hendo [Jordan Henderson], Joe [Gomez] and Joel [Matip], that's all good. Rehab always starts with straight-line running.

"There's a lot of things to come. You go through a lot of steps until you are finally ready to join team training. They are all quite a way.

"Nobody told me, fasten your seatbelt, the boys will be ready and in team training next week, but they are in a good way."

Sunday's meeting with bitter rivals United comes at a potentially pivotal moment, with the Red Devils still hopeful of pushing Manchester City all the way in the title race and Klopp's men needing a boost to their top-four hopes.

Although United were in action as recently as Thursday, beating Roma 6-2 in their Europa League semi-final first leg, Klopp doubts Liverpool can count on much of an advantage in terms of freshness.

"Whatever situation you are in, when you're a Liverpool player or manager, this is the game," he continued.

"Is it the best place to go after watching them score five in one half? I don't know. A lot of things can happen, we just make sure we are ready for it.

"They looked pretty good last night and we have to be ready but we have trained well this week. We will have the right legs to go and see what we can make of it.

"[Marcus] Rashford, [Mason] Greenwood, [Paul] Pogba played a good game last night. Whoever we play, they cannot and won't make massive changes. It's tough but we've had these types of fixtures in other seasons, so it's just a fight. We have to fight.

"When you play Thursday then Sunday… Man United have got used to it but it doesn't make it better. It's a tough challenge for them.

"Today is recovery, tomorrow second recovery and then they play. No chance to change things but I don't think they want to really at the moment.

"It will be a tough game, intense. We saw last night – they are good! Especially when you let them play.

"They were flying. I am pretty sure United still feel they have a chance [for the title]. Both teams have to win it which is a good recipe for the game."

Five high-profile club executives have resigned from their roles on Premier League sub-committees following the European Super League debacle.

Stats Perform News understands Manchester United executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward and Liverpool chairman Tom Werner have stepped down from the club broadcast advisory group, while Chelsea chairman Bruce Buck has left the audit and remuneration committee.

Arsenal chief executive Vinai Venkatesham and his Manchester City counterpart Ferran Soriano have both resigned from the club strategic advisory group.

The moves came to light just 11 days after these clubs, and Tottenham, declared on April 18 they would be joining a new Super League competition, which faced scorn before it was formally announced after news leaked out in the preceding hours.

It provoked fury, with the 'closed-shop' element of the proposed new competition set to see six of the Premier League's biggest clubs guaranteed riches far beyond those available to their domestic rivals.

Within 48 hours, the project had collapsed as the Premier League clubs withdrew, but by showing they had been willing to join in the new league, and doing so without consulting others that may be affected, domestic rivals were left incensed.

There were calls for points penalties or financial punishments to be imposed, but those now seem unlikely.

By losing their executive representation on the sub-committees, at the apparent behest of the 14 aggrieved clubs, the influence of the 'breakaway' teams is diminished for now.

It was reported by Sky News last week that Premier League chief executive Richard Masters contacted each of the affected executives and asked them to step down.

Tottenham did not have a representative on the sub-committees, ESPN reported.

United's Woodward is due to leave his Old Trafford role at the end of the year, a decision that was announced following the Super League fiasco but was said by sources not to be a consequence of that episode.

Managers including City's Pep Guardiola and Liverpool's Jurgen Klopp spoke out against the Super League concept, along with many players, fan groups, major football bodies, politicians and even royalty.

The Premier League has made no official comment on the resignations of the executives.

Will Lionel Messi commit to Barcelona or move on? 

The Argentine is out of contract in June and suitors are swirling. 

Paris Saint-Germain appear poised to make a bid. 

 

TOP STORY – PSG LINE UP MESSI BID

PSG are prepared to offer Messi an "unbeatable" contract to make a sensational move from Barca, according to a report from TNT Sports. 

The report claims the Ligue 1 outfit will offer Messi a two-year deal with an option for a third year. 

The club will attempt to convince Messi that joining PSG will give him more chances to win titles. 

 

ROUND-UP 

- Jurgen Klopp could turn to his former club for a boost if Mohamed Salah leaves Liverpool, as Bild reports a bid for Borussia Dortmund's Jadon Sancho a possibility for the Reds. Manchester United also are eyeing Sancho after a failed move for him last year.

- United also remain interested in reuniting Erling Haaland with Ole Gunner Solskjaer, according to the Telegraph. Haaland, now with Dortmund, played for Solskjaer as a teenager at Molde. 

- Tottenham are looking at a pair of options in the shape of Celtic midfielder Ismaila Soro and Fulham centre-back Joachim Andersen, according to the Daily Mail. 

- Juventus centre back Mathhijs de Ligt could be headed to Barcelona, reports Sport, which also says Villarreal goalkeeper Marc Vidal is a possibility for the Camp Nou club. 

Will Cristiano Ronaldo still be at Juventus next season?

Ronaldo's future appears to depend on Juve's Champions League participation.

Manchester United and Paris Saint-Germain loom large for the Portuguese superstar.

 

TOP STORY – MAN UTD OR PSG FOR RONALDO?

Cristiano Ronaldo is weighing up whether to return to Manchester United or join Paris Saint-Germain if Juventus fail to qualify for the Champions League next season, according to Tuttosport.

Ronaldo's future has dominated headlines amid speculation the five-time Ballon d'Or winner is set to leave Serie A giants Juve at the end of the current campaign.

Initially linked with Real Madrid, Ronaldo is reportedly eyeing either United or PSG in order to play in the Champions League.

 

ROUND-UP

- Fabrizio Romano reports RB Leipzig head coach Julian Nagelsmann is set to replace Hansi Flick at Bayern Munich. Despite interest from Tottenham and other clubs, Nagelsmann has agreed a five-year contract with the Bundesliga champions, who must negotiate a fee with Leipzig.

Raphael Varane wants to leave Madrid amid links with Chelsea, United and PSG, claims Diario AS. The France international defender is contracted to the Santiago Bernabeu until next season but Madrid are believed to be willing to cash in on Varane as they look to fund moves for PSG's Kylian Mbappe and Borussia Dortmund sensation Erling Haaland, who has also been linked with Liverpool, United, Manchester City, Juve, Bayern and Barcelona.

- Manchester Evening News says United are interested in Slavia Prague's 21-year-old forward Abdallah Sima.

- The Sun reports England centre-back John Stones is in advanced talks with Premier League leaders City over a new five-year contract.

- Antonio Conte is dreaming of prising Udinese star Rodrigo De Paul to Inter, says Calciomercato. The Argentina international has also been linked with Napoli and Leeds United.

A week on from the drama, controversy and anger surrounding the European Super League, it felt like football – rather than its potential ruin – was at the front of the agenda this weekend.

However, the spectre of the Super League continued to loom over much of the action, with many of the so-called "big six" seeing it used as a stick to beat them with as they largely stuttered to underwhelming results.

Of those in league action over the weekend (Manchester City beat Tottenham in the EFL Cup final), only Chelsea emerged victorious, as Manchester United and Liverpool were held, while Arsenal lost at home to Everton.

Using Opta data, we look at some of the quirky facts from the latest Premier League matches…

Liverpool 1-1 Newcastle United: Reds to join exclusive list?

It was another underwhelming weekend for defending champions Liverpool, as their 1-1 draw at home to struggling Newcastle United saw them lose further ground in the fight for Champions League places.

Jurgen Klopp's men are four points adrift of Chelsea in fourth, after the Blues beat top-four rivals West Ham 1-0 at the London Stadium.

Liverpool have five matches to close the gap otherwise they face the prospect of an ignominious achievement.

Only five times before have the reigning Premier League champions failed to qualify for the Champions League the season after winning the title.

Manchester United were the first in 1994-95, also doing so in 2013-14. The other teams do this were Blackburn Rovers (1995-96), Chelsea (2015-16) and Leicester City (2016-17).

Wolves 0-4 Burnley: Wood and New Zealand join the United Nations of hat-tricks

Chris Wood enjoyed a weekend to remember as he netted his first Premier League hat-trick in Burnley's 4-0 win over Wolves.

In doing so, he became the first New Zealand national to score a treble in the competition, meaning there have been hat-tricks scored by 46 countries in the Premier League.

New Zealand has joined Gabon, South Korea, Venezuela, DR Congo, Japan, Israel, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Paraguay, Iceland, Sweden, Costa Rica and Serbia on one.

England, unsurprisingly, leads the way with 154 hat-tricks from 69 individuals. Joint second with 18 each are Netherlands and Argentina, while France (17) and Spain (11) are the only other countries into double figures.

Leeds United 0-0 Manchester United: 'Boring, boring Man United'

Fans expecting a repeat of Manchester United's 6-2 thrashing of Leeds United will have been sorely disappointed, not just with the 0-0 draw, but also given it was a fairly drab encounter.

Sure, United have excited on occasion this season, that previous win over Leeds and the 9-0 demolition of Southampton immediately coming to mind.

But Sunday's stalemate was United's seventh 0-0 draw of the season, more than any other team in the Premier League.

On top of that, 2020-21 has now seen United play out more goalless draws than any other Premier League season.

They previously played out six in 2004-05 and 2016-17, but 2020-21 now leads the way.

West Ham 0-1 Chelsea: Tuchel's at home on the road

Thomas Tuchel has made a fine impression at Chelsea since replacing Frank Lampard in January. The achievements seem to be piling up.

Chelsea's latest win saw them leave London rivals West Ham with a 1-0 win that moved them back into the top four at the expense of David Moyes' boys.

As such, he became the first Chelsea manager to avoid defeat in his first 10 away games across all competitions.

The previous club record was set by William Lewis over 100 years ago in 1906-07, when they went nine unbeaten on the road.

Tuchel also matched the record set by Luiz Felipe Scolari for the number of clean sheets (10) in his first 14 Premier League matches.

What's even more impressive about that is it's a league record, rather than just relevant to Chelsea.

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