Mason Greenwood could be Manchester United's next Robin van Persie, according to defender Luke Shaw.

Greenwood has enjoyed an impressive breakout season at Old Trafford, scoring 12 times and laying on four assists despite 20 of his 36 outings coming from the bench.

Writing in his weekly lockdown diary on United's official website, Shaw marvelled at the 18-year-old's potential and sees shades of Van Persie – the Netherlands great whose prolific debut season at Old Trafford in 2012-13 inspired Alex Ferguson's farewell Premier League title triumph.

"He’s had a fantastic first season in the first team. He’s clearly a natural goalscorer," Shaw observed. "This season – even though he doesn’t start all the time – his goals return and his stats are great, and he’s got some assists too. For someone so young, in their first season, he’s done brilliantly.

"He’s still got so much to learn, but if he carries on working hard and pushes himself every day then I don’t see why we can’t see him turn into another Robin van Persie or a player of that style that’ll score lots of goals for us."

Greenwood's most notable trait is his two-footed capabilities and Shaw knows what a considerable challenge this can present for defenders.

"Purely the fact that he’s so two-footed, it’s unbelievable," the England international said.

"When I was younger, when I played youth football, there was a young lad called Lewis Baker who played with Chelsea, he was always both-footed.

"Him and Mason are probably the only two pure two-footed players I’ve seen. When I was at Southampton, Adam Lallana could also use his left and right very well.

"Also Ravel Morrison was very strong on both feet and we’ve seen a lot of people talking about his potential in recent weeks, but I’d say Mason is stronger on that front."

Manchester United look destined for the Europa League quarter-finals after cruising to a resounding 5-0 victory over LASK in the first leg of their last-16 tie in Linz on Thursday.

In a match that was played behind closed doors due to the coronavirus outbreak, Odion Ighalo used his third start for United to take his tally for the club to four with a stunning effort in the 28th minute.

Ighalo then set up James to score his first goal since August, ending a run of 32 games and 2,527 minutes without hitting the back of the net in all competitions, before Juan Mata slid home a lovely pass from Fred.

Substitute duo Mason Greenwood and Andreas Pereira hit the back of the net within the space of 85 seconds in stoppage time to cap an impressive victory for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's side, who are now 11 unbeaten in all competitions.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer said the arrival of Bruno Fernandes at Manchester United has "given everyone a boost" after the midfielder scored his first goal for the club in a 3-0 victory over Watford at Old Trafford.

Fernandes was outstanding throughout on Sunday as United clinched a second consecutive victory in a run of three unbeaten Premier League matches and moved them up to fifth in the table.

After scoring from the penalty spot to give United the lead, Fernandes created the opening for Anthony Martial to score their second and got the assist that teed up Mason Greenwood for a stunning third.

Solskjaer later paid tribute to the 25-year-old's pace and his uplifting effect on the Red Devils squad after he followed up an impressive outing in Monday's 2-0 win over Chelsea.

"Bruno Fernandes is quicker than he looks," the United manager told BBC Sport.

"[We're] very excited by having him in. He has come in, given everyone a boost and wants to conduct a game."

Solskjaer continued: "[Bruno] loves playing football, he wants the ball, he's got the personality and character to demand it all the time, wanting to take the penalty.

"He takes it the way he does to show he is a Man United character, not just a very, very good footballer."

"[It was] a very good win, two good wins and two clean sheets, some goals to celebrate. Now, we want to kick on," added Solskjaer, whose side entertain Club Brugge in the Europa League on Thursday ahead of their trip to Everton in the Premier League three days later.

"There are big games coming up now."

United defender Luke Shaw said the victory had given his team-mates hope of catching Chelsea and qualifying for next season's Champions League.

Chelsea are fourth in the table, three points clear of United, after following up their loss to the Red Devils with a 2-1 victory over Tottenham.

Shaw told Sky Sports: "We got what we needed and that was three points. Let's keep pushing.

"The most important thing is we closed the gap to Chelsea.

"This club is known for playing in the big competitions. We all miss the Champions League nights so much – that is what we want next season.

"We need to fight and earn it."

Bruno Fernandes is determined to propel Manchester United back into the Champions League after he scored his first goal for the club in an impressive 3-0 victory over Watford at Old Trafford.

The Portugal international was inspirational for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's side on Sunday, scoring their first from the penalty spot and then having a hand in goals for Anthony Martial and Mason Greenwood as the Red Devils moved up to fifth in the Premier League table.

Fernandes, who sent Watford goalkeeper Ben Foster the wrong way with a skip in his run-up, was delighted to get a first home triumph with his new club – and hopes there are plenty more to come this season.

"This is the day every player wants to have," Fernandes said. "I had the luck to score and win the game. We all gave our best and gave an excellent game, finally my first win at home.

"Everyone knows we want to take a Champions League place. It's not new for anybody. I'm just here to help the team to conquer this place and keep winning games."

On his penalty technique, he added: "It's the way I shoot a penalty. I feel confident shooting this way. I don't shoot just in that way but today I think it was the best way to score, so I just tried and was lucky enough to score."

Fernandes aimed a friendly dig at team-mate Martial, who denied him an assist in the process of scoring United's second.

Martial received the ball from Fernandes and fired a shot that Foster saved, only for the France international to chip the ball beyond the keeper at the second attempt.

Fernandes did set up Greenwood to score with a rocket of a shot, and he pointed out that it could easily have been two assists.

"I hope Anthony scores more goals when I pass the ball to him and not him miss the goal and take the ball again, because if he scores it's two assists," said Fernandes.

"Last week he said he never scores on my assist, but I think it's not my fault!"

He added: "I just need to help the team. This is what I want to do and what I need to do."

Bruno Fernandes scored his first goal for Manchester United and created two more as the Red Devils extended their unbeaten run to six matches in all competitions with a 3-0 Premier League victory over Watford.

The £62million January signing from Sporting CP put in a performance that made his fee look like a bargain, winning and scoring a first-half penalty to break the deadlock against a battling Watford team before creating superbly taken goals from Anthony Martial and Mason Greenwood.

United survived some nervous moments and Watford had an equaliser ruled out for handball before Martial doubled their advantage, but the invention and craft of Fernandes has given Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's men an edge they lacked for so much of this season.

Defeat leaves Watford in the relegation zone and without a win in six matches in all competitions, but manager Nigel Pearson will take some comfort from a strong attacking performance that might have delivered a different outcome but for some poor finishing.

Troy Deeney might have put Watford ahead after three minutes when Nemanja Matic and Harry Maguire allowed Victor Lindelof's blocked pass to run through to the Hornets captain, but he hesitated, and Luke Shaw dispossessed him just in time.

Abdoulaye Doucoure hit the side-netting from a tight angle as Watford continued to prise open a faltering United defence and, when the hosts countered, Aaron Wan-Bissaka missed from 12 yards after Ben Foster parried Dan James' angled drive.

The pace of the game slowed before exploding into life five minutes before half-time when Fernandes burst into the Watford box where Ben Foster sent him sprawling, and the Portuguese midfielder's hopping run-up and cool low finish put United ahead from the spot.

Watford had the ball in the net five minutes after the restart when Maguire lashed it into the roof of his own net under pressure from Deeney, but Craig Dawson playing the ball with his arm in the build-up meant the goal was ruled out.

Six minutes later, Fernandes turned provider, threading a pass through to Martial whose drag-back fooled Etienne Capoue before his immaculate chip saw him beat Foster at the second attempt.

United's third was the pick of the goals, Greenwood starting a move that ended with Fernandes rolling the ball to him just inside the box and he cracked an unstoppable shot into the top corner of the net off the frame of the goal.

Solskjaer sent on Odion Ighalo for his home United debut against his former club and he hit the post six minutes from time but by then the game was comfortably won as hopes of a possible Champions League return continued to grow around Old Trafford.

 

What does it mean?

One win in three home league matches hardly feels like great form but United are just three points behind fourth-place Chelsea, while Watford, who are 19th, remain one point adrift of safety and still without a league win at Old Trafford in their history.

Fernandes brings out United's best

The arrival of Fernandes has given the likes of James and Greenwood a creative lynchpin and, after showing his finishing prowess, the 25-year-old brought the best out of Martial and Greenwood.

Deeney made to rue early miss

Sluggish and sloppy in the opening 20 minutes, Deeney eventually grew into the game but only after he had missed Watford's best chance of the game.

What's next?

Watford host champions elect Liverpool at Vicarage Road on Saturday before United's trip to Everton on Sunday. The Red Devils are in Europa League action against Club Brugge at Old Trafford three days earlier.

Each close-season transfer window has a defining 'saga' and everything points to the next revolving around Jadon Sancho and Manchester United.

Media reports began to circulate on Wednesday claiming Sancho is set to leave Borussia Dortmund at the end of the season, having emerged as one of world football's next great hopes since joining from Manchester City.

The England international seems likely to return home later this year and United are rumoured to be leading the chase, ready to pay £120million for his signature.

United's issues on the flanks are nothing new. For several years they have seemingly operated with a bizarre square-pegs-round-holes policy, assigning numerous players who clearly aren't wingers to wide roles.

We looked at the data to understand how Sancho stacks up with United's current attacking options.

A PROLIFIC CREATOR

It's difficult to imagine Sancho joining United and not having a swift and decisive impact. The only other genuine winger in their squad is Daniel James, and while the Wales international has enjoyed a solid debut season after a shock move, he has faded recently and clearly lacks a certain presence.

After Andreas Pereira (31), Fred (30) and Marcus Rashford (24), James (23) has created the most Premier League chances for United this term and his haul of six assists isn't matched by any of his team-mates.

By comparison, Sancho has laid on 47 opportunities for team-mates in the Bundesliga this season, the fifth-highest in the division, and his haul of 13 assists is the same amount as James, Anthony Martial and Rashford combined.

SUBTLETY IN THE FINAL THIRD

The United squad isn't exactly blessed with lots of physical attackers renowned for their aerial ability, which suggests hooking hopeful crosses into the box does not represent a fertile route to goal.

For the most part, United forwards aren't desperate to cross, with Pereira (28), Rashford (19) and Martial (7) often looking for alternative ways to penetrate the box, but James (79) is the 11th most-frequent crosser in the league, even if he's some way off Trent Alexander-Arnold (159).

Sancho fits in more with the former group, supplying only 22 crosses this season. Perhaps such a low figure is justified by the fact only five per cent were accurate.

Nevertheless, this does suggest Sancho is more subtle and deliberate with his creativity, and given he has crafted comfortably more chances and goals than the United contingent, it is difficult to argue he should alter his style.

A KEY INFLUENCE

As someone who creates so many opportunities, it wouldn't be unusual to expect Sancho to be somewhat wayward in possession, given the necessity to take risks.

But 80 per cent of his 496 passes into the final third have been accurate. Of the 284 Bundesliga players to play at least 50 passes into that part of the pitch, only 11 have greater accuracy than Sancho, though none of those attempted more than 308.

Martial, Fred, Mason Greenwood, Luke Shaw, Juan Mata and Jesse Lingard have all been more accurate in the final third, but Sancho has attempted far more passes, while none of them have got anywhere close to the Dortmund star's chance creation record.

DEADLY WHEN IT MATTERS

Sancho's not just a creator, however.

As well as his 13 assists, Sancho has also chipped in with 12 Bundesliga goals this season, a figure bettered by only Robert Lewandowski (22) and Timo Werner (20).

Those 12 goals came from 37 attempts, meaning he is averaging almost a goal every three shots, comfortably better than Martial (17 per cent of 48 shots) and Rashford (19 per cent of 74 shots).

A complete player in attack, Sancho offers an all-round threat that United simply do not possess.

He also appears to be the ideal player for United stylistically, with his attributes and dynamism similar to the likes of Martial, Rashford and Greenwood, around whom club seem intent on building their future.

Will Sancho be the next to join that trio?

Manchester United must resist the urge to place too much importance on Mason Greenwood so early in his career because to do so could have lasting negative results similar to those suffered by Michael Owen, according to Rio Ferdinand.

Greenwood broke into the United first-team squad last season and made three appearances, including a debut start in the defeat to Cardiff City on the final day.

His role in the squad unsurprisingly increased this term after the departure of Romelu Lukaku, with the 18-year-old making 32 appearances across all competitions.

A recent injury to Marcus Rashford means he could find himself a more regular starter in the final months of the season, but former United captain Ferdinand is concerned over-reliance on Greenwood too early could see him suffering a decline like Owen.

Former Liverpool, Real Madrid and United striker Owen came through the academy at Anfield in the 1990s and became a superstar as a teenager, then winning the Ballon d'Or in 2001, but he was ravaged by injuries and fitness issues later in his career.

Speaking at the launch of BT's 4-3-3 Home Nations campaign, Ferdinand said: "The kid [Greenwood] is a fantastic goal-scorer.

"All through the youth levels as a kid, he's always found it easy scoring goals. He plays off both feet – he's a fantastic talent, but he needs to be nurtured correctly.

"You can't expect him to come in and play every game just because there's an injury to Marcus and then put it all on his shoulders.

"A good yardstick is to look at someone like Michael Owen. He came through as a 'boy wonder', huge expectations [on him] and he played far too many games from a young age.

"I think that was a big factor in him having big injuries later on in his career, slowing him down. That's something to look at, to make sure we don't have the same mistake with Mason - nurture him the right way."

Ferdinand is also concerned about Greenwood potentially being under too much pressure at United, particularly if he does take on a more important role with Rashford injured and Anthony Martial failing to convince in a central role.

"It [coping with the pressure] is difficult if he's got no one around him with the experience to guide him," Ferdinand continued.

"You just hope he's got players or staff in there that can help him and guide him through that period and allow him to understand the pressure isn't [on] him. He's too young.

"There's other players in there that can take on that pressure on their shoulders and are experienced enough to do that. It's up to other people to do that."

 

BT's 4-3-3 Home Nations strategy will use the power of football and technology to release the potential of para and disability, grassroots, and women's football communities across England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer told Manchester United supporters unhappy with the club's owners that the Red Devils must "stay together" after his players disappointed those hoping for an FA Cup upset by thumping Tranmere Rovers 6-0 to reach round five.

United arrived at Prenton Park having lost back-to-back Premier League games against Liverpool and Burnley and the club's plight prompted some in the away end to reprise the disgruntled atmosphere that filled Old Trafford after defeat to the Clarets four days earlier.

Goals from Harry Maguire, Diogo Dalot, Jesse Lingard, Phil Jones, Anthony Martial and Mason Greenwood lightened the mood among the United faithful as Solskjaer's men breezed past League One opposition, and the manager praised his side's approach after they avoided a potential banana skin.

"If you go into the trap of playing long balls and making this game a fight, we're not used to that," Solskjaer told BT Sport. "They would have been better suited than us. We just asked our players to play and it went well.

"I think the players played football the way it should be played. It was an exceptional performance at times. It was a very difficult pitch.

"It wasn't just the Tranmere people who wanted an upset, there were a lot of others. We've just got to stay together and keep working.

"Every game you win is a good one for your confidence. Every time you score a goal and perform well, it's good.

"The attitude was spot on. That's all you can ask for. When the attitude is right, you can't fault them."

Maguire, who opened the scoring for United with a powerful 20-yard drive, and then provided the assist for Lingard to score their third in a display full of guile and attacking intent, said his first goal for the club was long overdue.

"It's been a long time coming," said Maguire. "I've had a lot of chances this year without finding the back of the net. It’s nice to help the team get into the next round.

"It was really important to get the win, coming off the back of a bad performance and result against Burnley.

"We set our stall out to put in a positive performance for the fans. We're in the next round, which is what we came to do."

Diogo Dalot scored his first goal for Manchester United and there were rare strikes from Harry Maguire and Jesse Lingard as the Red Devils routed Tranmere Rovers 6-0 to reach the fifth round of the FA Cup.

A goal glut and a morale-boosting victory was just what Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's men needed after suffering back-to-back Premier League defeats, and the United boss watched a fluent performance from his charges despite a cut-up pitch at Prenton Park.

Maguire opened the floodgates with a long-range strike into the top corner and goals from Dalot and Lingard soon followed to put the visitors 3-0 up inside 16 minutes.

Phil Jones headed United's fourth and Anthony Martial's deflected shot made it 5-0 before Mason Greenwood scored a penalty in the second half to wrap up a win that affords under-pressure Solskjaer some breathing space.

After 10 cagey opening minutes, United found space to exploit around the Tranmere box and Maguire strolled forward with the ball before cutting onto his right foot and sending a crisp drive into the top right corner from 20 yards, a slight deflection helping it on its way.

Three minutes later Dalot played a one-two with Martial and skilfully cut inside his marker before hammering an angled drive low into the far corner of the net to double his side's advantage.

Maguire continued his attacking forays and created space on the edge of the box for Lingard to curl United's third into the bottom corner with aplomb, and five minutes before half-time Jones met an Andreas Pereira corner with a looping far-post header over goalkeeper Scott Davies.

Martial rendered the second half a formality when he scored from the left corner of the Tranmere box with a shot that took a wicked deflection and curled just inside the right post.

Substitute Tahith Chong was scythed down by Davies early in the second half and Greenwood rolled his penalty into the bottom left corner.

Dalot broke down the right and lashed a shot towards goal that Davies could only parry away at the near post before Morgan Ferrier missed a one-on-one with Romero at the other end.

Lingard might have scored what would have been just his third goal in 42 games when he tried a bending shot from the edge of the box, but it flashed narrowly wide as a seventh strike eluded United.

 

What does it mean? Trouble averted - in some style

Any sort of victory would have suited Solskjaer here, with anything less likely to have ramped up the pressure on the manager's position towards breaking point.

But in tricky conditions he coaxed a display full of energy and invention from his side in difficult conditions against a side who were not without goal threat despite their lowly status.

Maguire leads by example

United's slow starts have been a problem for them this season, but captain Maguire led the charge into attack from the early stages and showed his team-mates how to take the game to their hosts.

Danns goes missing

The experience of former Leicester City man Neil Danns helped Tranmere beat Watford three days earlier, but United found it all too easy to breeze past the 37-year-old in the middle of midfield.

What's next?

United will hope to be as sharp in front of goal on Wednesday as they aim to overturn a 3-1 deficit in the second leg of their EFL Cup semi-final against Manchester City, while Tranmere entertain Sunderland in League One on the same evening.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer wants to see Marcus Rashford, Anthony Martial and Mason Greenwood take up the mantle of Manchester United's last ruthless front three of Cristiano Ronaldo, Carlos Tevez and Wayne Rooney.

One of United's finest modern forward lines led Alex Ferguson's side to two league titles, an EFL Cup, the Club World Cup and back-to-back Champions League finals, one of which they won, between 2007 and 2009.

Ronaldo and Tevez left for Real Madrid and Manchester City respectively that year and United have struggled since to form a similarly effective trident in attack.

However, there are encouraging signs around Rashford, Martial and Greenwood, who have scored more goals combined in all competitions this season than Liverpool trio Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino.

Solskjaer thinks it will take time to match the understanding of the Premier League leaders' attacking players but, ahead of Sunday's trip to Anfield, he believes in the potential of his forwards.

"The front three that they've got have been playing together for ages, not ages, but for seasons now," he said. "You can see the rotations, movements, the understanding between them, and we hope that our three get that understanding. I've probably only started them once together, the Newcastle United game, so we've got a way to go to get to the level of the three [at Liverpool], the understanding and consistency they have. But we scored four goals in that game [against Newcastle], so it's probably something I've got to look at more often.

"I believe in ours. We're going to add to them as well, definitely, but in the years to come I'm sure we'll see lots of them three. But Liverpool have scored more goals than us outside the front three so I'm not going to say ours are better than theirs or theirs are better than ours.

"We've got them on long contacts, developing into a very, very exciting front three. Ronaldo, Tevez, Rooney were different, floating, but that's what we want as Man United supporters - you want to see them express themselves, go to places like Anfield and put fear into their defenders. But we've got Dan James as well, who adds to that, so I'm very excited about it."

Solskjaer agrees that United's goalscoring threat belies the insinuation made by Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp, after the 1-1 draw at Old Trafford in October, that the Red Devils are overly defensive against their fierce rivals.

"I don't think it's an accusation. You take it as a compliment that they didn't create chances against us," Solskjaer said. "When the opposition manager is frustrated, that's a good sign for you as a manager. Of course, I think we've been closer to winning both those games, so I don't know what the problem has been."

Ashley Young is set to join Inter provided he passes a medical on Friday and Solskjaer confirmed there were no plans to sign a replacement full-back.

For now, the United boss is putting faith in young Brandon Williams to rise to the challenge of playing at Anfield.

"Does he look like I need to speak to him? I don't think so," Solskjaer replied when asked if Williams might need guidance ahead of a traditionally tempestuous match.

"He's been absolutely outstanding since he's come in. Every challenge we've put in front of him, he's tackled head on and he's only 19, had 10, 11 starts. He reminds me so much of the mentality of Gary Neville and I think he'll enjoy going to Anfield, put it that way."

There is continued speculation United are trying to finalise the signing of midfielder Bruno Fernandes, but Solskjaer would only say: "I can't tell you about any players that play for other teams. We're focusing on this game at the moment. That's my only concern."

With United's arrival expected to be greeted by Liverpool fans outside the ground, Solskjaer says he has no particular concerns about a hostile atmosphere.

"No safety fears, no," he said. "They want to try to intimidate us but as long as it's within the boundaries. I've been sat in a coach going into Europe or Anfield and whatever they shout and scream at you, you don't really notice.

"We need a very, very good performance to go there and win, but we beat Manchester City last month, we had the Paris Saint-Germain game – we need to get to the level of those performances definitely when you go away to a team that's top of the league.

"The last two performances we've had against Liverpool, we've played at Old Trafford twice, drawn twice and been closest to winning both those games, so we've got games to look back at that will give us lots of belief.

"if we perform to our best, we've got a chance to win."

With Liverpool looking likely to end a title drought stretching back to 1990, Solskjaer thinks such an unexpectedly long gap between league triumphs for their bitter rivals should serve as a warning to United.

"We're working hard to make sure it doesn't happen," he said when asked if he feared United, who last won the title in 2013, could experience a similar dry spell. 

"Let that be a lesson for us. They've been close a few times and we can't let ourselves for another 24 years without winning the league. I'm sure we won't. I believe in this club. We've started something that takes a little bit of time, but we'll get there."

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer tempered the excitement surrounding Manchester United talent Mason Greenwood, adamant it is too early to be thinking of potential England involvement at Euro 2020.

United academy product Greenwood has enjoyed a breakout season, making 17 Premier League appearances – all but two of them from the bench – after being introduced to the first-team fold by Solskjaer last term.

The 18-year-old has four goals in the league this season, plus another five across the EFL Cup and Europa League, in which only four players have scored more.

With Harry Kane a doubt for the Euros after suffering a torn hamstring that required surgery and Jamie Vardy unavailable for selection following his international retirement, Greenwood has emerged as an option for England manager Gareth Southgate.

Greenwood made four appearances for the England Under-21s last year and for the time being Solskjaer thinks he should be allowed to focus on United and Young Lions duty.

"I think Mason will have a top and long career," Solskjaer said ahead of Wednesday's FA Cup third-round replay with Wolves.

"Let the boy settle in now first, before we talk about England and the Euros.

"His focus has to be on playing more for us and improving, and when he plays more for us, that [and England call-up] will happen by itself.

"He's just been picked for the England Under-21s, so he's focusing on his football."

Greenwood is just one of three forward thriving at United this season, with Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial also enjoying strong campaigns.

Rashford already has 19 goals from 30 matches across all competitions, while Martial has 11 in 22 outings – but Solskjaer does not think he deserves a pat on the back for their respective improvements.

"I don't want credit for getting more out of them," he said. "They're working hard to improve their game, I think they've all done well.

"Of course, Mason is in his first season, so to have nine goals is fantastic. Marcus is really growing and improving all the time, and Anthony has missed about six-to-eight weeks.

"I'm impressed by them. They're working well, working on their finishing patterns, we want consistency and I think we'll see more and more of them as they're still very young."

Liverpool continued their relentless march towards the Premier League title with a 1-0 victory over Tottenham while Sergio Aguero sent records tumbling in Manchester City's resounding win at Aston Villa.

The Reds moved 16 points clear at the top thanks to Leicester City's defeat to Southampton – as Danny Ings kept up his superb form – though the gap was reduced slightly when City thrashed Villa on Sunday.

Meanwhile, Manchester United ended a three-match winless streak with a resounding 4-0 triumph over lowly Norwich City.

We review the key top-flight matches with the help of Opta data.

 

CHAMPIONS-ELECT SET NEW BENCHMARKS AS TITLE TILT CONTINUES AT PACE

Barring a collapse of epic proportions, it seems certain that the Premier League title will be Liverpool's for the first time come the end of the season – or earlier, at this rate.

Roberto Firmino's fifth goal in his past six appearances handed Jurgen Klopp's side the points at Tottenham, who lost successive league matches for the first time this season, and have also conceded 20 goals in 13 matches under Jose Mourinho.

Liverpool sit on 61 points at the top of the pile, the most any side has ever registered after 21 matches in a single season across Europe's big five leagues.

Klopp's team have amassed 104 points across their past 38 Premier League games, winning 33 times and drawing on five occasions; this is a record total by any team across a 38-match run in the competition's history.

It is 38 league games since Liverpool last suffered a defeat. In the same amount of time, Spurs have lost 16 matches – including three defeats to the Reds.

AGUERO SMASHES RECORDS IN SIX-GOAL ROMP

It was a waltz in Villa Park for City on Sunday, as Aguero's hat-trick and a masterclass from Kevin De Bruyne propelled Pep Guardiola's side to a 6-1 win and up into second place.

With his second goal – which came early in the second half to put City 5-0 up – Aguero became the highest-scoring non-British player in Premier League history, moving ahead of Thierry Henry.

Aguero moved onto 177 top-flight goals when he thumped in his third, making the former Atletico Madrid forward the outright record holder for hat-tricks in the Premier League with 12 to his name – one ahead of Alan Shearer's tally of 11.

After his first-half double and assist for Aguero's hat-trick goal, Riyad Mahrez is the only Premier League player to both score and assist 20 goals or more since the start of last season in all competitions. 

De Bruyne, meanwhile, is now on 15 assists for this campaign after teeing up two of City's goals.

INGS KEEPS GETTING BETTER

Two of the Premier League's leading scorers went head-to-head at the King Power Stadium, but while Jamie Vardy failed to inspire Leicester City to victory, Southampton's Ings proved the match-winner as the Saints gained revenge for their 9-0 defeat in the reverse fixture.

Ings' effort nine minutes from time was his 14th of the season and his ninth goal in his past 10 top-flight appearances.

It means 40 per cent of Ings' 35 Premier League goals have come in this campaign, while he is also the highest-scoring Southampton player since Jay Rodriguez in 2013-14.

Dennis Praet put Leicester ahead and is the 14th different player to have scored for the Foxes in the Premier League this term, while Brendan Rodgers suffered successive home defeats for the first time since he took over.

UNITED'S FORWARDS RUN RIOT IN OLD TRAFFORD ROUT

Missing leading scorer Teemu Pukki, Norwich City never looked likely to trouble United, who cruised to a convincing win to lift themselves into fifth place.

It is the first time United have scored four goals in consecutive home games in the league since September 2017, while the Canaries have not won in nine Premier League matches.

Marcus Rashford scored twice and is now on 19 goals in all competitions this season – only Raheem Sterling, with 20, has more among Premier League players.

Juan Mata set up two goals, the first time he has provided two assists in a league match since October 2012 – also against Norwich – while Mason Greenwood has scored four top-flight goals this term, more than any other teenager in the competition.

Manchester United bounced back from defeat to Manchester City in emphatic fashion, as Marcus Rashford and Juan Mata inspired a comfortable 4-0 win over rock-bottom Norwich City.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's men were woefully inept in the 3-1 EFL Cup semi-final first-leg loss at Etihad Stadium, but on Saturday they found their groove, playing some eye-catching football en route to a straightforward win.

Norwich, who were without injured talismanic forward Teemu Pukki, rarely troubled United in a first half dominated by the home side, who went into the interval 1-0 up after Mata teed up Rashford.

Rashford got his second from the penalty spot early in the second period, before Mata – starting only a third Premier League game since the start of October – set up Anthony Martial to extend the lead and Mason Greenwood finished Norwich off, as United held on to fifth place to stay five points adrift of Chelsea.

Despite establishing control almost immediately, United struggled to create clear chances during the early exchanges.

But Juan Mata carved the Canaries open in the 27th minute, cutting in off the right flank and playing a lofted pass towards the back post for Rashford to turn in.

Norwich highlighted the precariousness off United's slender lead just before the break, when David de Gea just about reached Todd Cantwell's curling effort.

Tim Krul was less impressive at the other end just after the break, however, rushing out and sending Brandon Williams tumbling in the box, allowing Rashford to sweep home the resulting penalty.

Martial got in on the act two minutes later, heading in Mata's right-wing cross after Norwich switched off at a corner.

Williams should have increased the lead when he blazed over from a couple of yards out, but there was to be another moment for United to savour, as Greenwood – Rashford's replacement – drilled into the bottom-right corner from 20 yards to wrap up the win in 76th minute.

What does it mean? Solskjaer can rest easy… For now

After the loss to Pep Guardiola's men, and the manner of the defeat, the pressure on Solskjaer was ramped up once again, as it was a third successive match across all competitions without a win.

There is no denying United were massively improved on Saturday, with the midfield trio of Nemanja Matic, Andreas Pereira and Fred using the ball much quicker than perhaps they have been known to, but with a trip to Anfield on the horizon, Solskjaer cannot assume he is completely safe.

Mata makes it happen

Given United's problems breaking many teams down this season, it is surprising Mata has only been afforded six Premier League starts. Against Norwich, he made two key passes and both lead to goals, making a decisive impact.

A day to forget for Krul

While there was not a great deal Krul could have done for most of the goals, his decision to rush out and foul Williams for the penalty was unnecessary and left Norwich with a mountain to climb.

What's next?

United return to FA Cup action on Wednesday, as they host Wolves in their third-round replay, before going to league leaders Liverpool four days later. Norwich host Bournemouth next Saturday.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer said Erling Haaland "knows what he wants to do" amid increasing speculation about the Salzburg striker joining Manchester United, who drew 1-1 at home to Everton on Sunday thanks to Mason Greenwood's equaliser.

Solskjaer described Greenwood as "different class" in his post-match news conference, but discussion soon turned to 19-year-old Norway international Haaland.

Reports suggest the United boss could be given the resources to bring his compatriot to Old Trafford after impressing in Salzburg's ultimately unsuccessful Champions League campaign.

"I don't comment on those speculations," Solskjaer said of the transfer talk. "[Haaland] knows what he wants to do, and he knows what he's going to do, so I don't have to give any advice to any other team's players."

Discussing Greenwood after the teenager followed up a midweek Europa League brace with another goal, Solskjaer said: "It's so natural for him. He just knows exactly what to do.

"Too many chances are missed with strikers rushing the finish, stressing, but the best ones have that little extra half a second, and he does."

Greenwood's strike rescued a point for United and extended their unbeaten Premier League run to six consecutive matches, but they could not break down Everton.

Solskjaer felt his side did not deserve to go behind in the first half, claiming United goalkeeper David de Gea was fouled before Victor Lindelof's own-goal, and expressed his disappointment that the VAR did not bring about a different decision.

"It's a foul. It's as clear as that, but there's no point me complaining," he said. "It [VAR] will be better next year, for sure. We'll have to look at it. That's a clear and obvious foul.

"They got the goal and had something to hold onto. I don't want to go down the route [of saying] that we always struggle against teams that lay low, because we don't.

"It's a work in progress and these young boys are learning. The tempo of the ball wasn't good enough and it has to move quicker, but these boys will learn that."

Reflecting on his first 12 months in charge at Old Trafford, he added: "I've really enjoyed it. I feel that we're on the right track. I'm looking forward to going into work tomorrow because these boys want to learn and improve."

Mason Greenwood scored 13 minutes from time to salvage a 1-1 draw for Manchester United and deny Everton caretaker boss Duncan Ferguson a second consecutive Premier League victory.

United went into the game hoping to claim a third consecutive league win for the first time since January but David de Gea's failure to clear a first-half corner led to Victor Lindelof putting through his own net.

Everton defended resolutely as they sought to build on their 3-1 victory over Chelsea at Goodison Park, and the commitment shown by a side lacking a number of key players will raise inevitable questions about Ferguson taking the manager's job on a permanent basis.

But United substitute Greenwood produced the cutting edge in attack that the hosts had been lacking and his strike ensured Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's men extended their unbeaten streak to six league matches.

Jesse Lingard dragged a shot wide on the turn from eight yards after United swept forward from the kick-off.

Marcus Rashford and Daniel James both went close, feeding on incisive long passes Lindelof and Scott McTominay, before Jordan Pickford parried a dipping Rashford free-kick away from danger as Everton continued to come under pressure.

Without the pace to hit United on the counter-attack, the visitors took a more patient approach and were rewarded when Leighton Baines' corner was misjudged by De Gea and the ball grazed the goalkeeper's knuckles before bouncing off Lindelof's leg and into the unguarded net.

Luke Shaw surged down the United left after an hour and fired a powerful drive that Pickford did well to parry away, and nine minutes later Lindelof curled a shot over the crossbar from the edge of the box with Everton pinned back.

United's late pressure paid off when James found Greenwood on the edge of the box and the teenager tucked a low drive into the bottom corner of Pickford's net to spare United's blushes.

What does it mean? Low press remains a problem for Solskjaer

Manchester City's open, attacking play created space for United to play in when they won the derby, but Everton's packed rearguard proved trickier for Rashford and James to unpick until Greenwood's intervention.

Meanwhile, Solskjaer still cannot rely on the composure of a defence that has conceded in 12 consecutive league games – the first time United have done so since 1971.

Holgate and Davies fill the gap

With Gylfi Sigurdsson and Djibril Sidibe falling ill before the game, responsibility in the middle of Everton's midfield fell to Tom Davies and Mason Holgate, who coped admirably in protecting the back four and breaking up play.

Lacklustre Lingard highlights Pogba absence

Neither Juan Mata nor Lingard have made convincing claims to be United's first-choice attacking midfielder in Paul Pogba's enforced absence this season, and the latter was too often a bystander here while his team-mates struggling to turn the game.

What's next?

After Colchester United visit Old Trafford in the League Cup on Wednesday, Manchester United travel to Watford in the Premier League while Everton entertain Leicester City in the cup and Arsenal in the league.

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