Neymar has sparked speculation over Lionel Messi's future.

Paris Saint-Germain's Neymar enjoyed a successful period alongside Messi at Barcelona before leaving in a world-record deal in 2017.

Now, Neymar wants to team up with Messi again.

 

TOP STORY – MBAPPE OUT, MESSI IN?

Paris Saint-Germain will have to sell Kylian Mbappe if they sign Barcelona superstar Lionel Messi, according to Diario AS.

Messi has been linked with a move to Ligue 1 champions PSG after former Barca forward Neymar expressed his desire to reunite with the six-time Ballon d'Or winner.

If Manchester City target Messi arrives in the French capital, it could send Mbappe closer to LaLiga champions Real Madrid.

 

ROUND-UP

- Madrid captain Sergio Ramos has not ruled leaving the Spanish giants, reports El Transistor. Ramos is out of contract at the end of the season and he has been linked with PSG, Juventus, Milan and Manchester United.

Mauricio Pochettino has been contacted by Madrid to replace under-fire head coach Zinedine Zidane, claims Sport. Pochettino, who has been out of work since he was sacked as Tottenham boss last year, has also been linked to United.

- Diario AS says Atletico Madrid are lining up a January bid for Napoli's Arkadiusz Milik. The Poland international has been frozen out since making it clear he will not re-sign with the Serie A side. Tottenham, Everton and Roma have also emerged as possible destinations.

Romelu Lukaku is on Pep Guardiola's shortlist of forwards at City but Inter insist the Belgian star is non-transferable, according to Calciomercato.

- The Telegraph reports Chelsea's plan to sign West Ham midfielder Declan Rice rests on the success of off-season recruit Ben Chilwell.

Arsenal are reportedly lining up a move for Isco in January, while Barcelona and Liverpool are also eyeing a defender.

Isco is seemingly getting close to a Real Madrid exit as he struggles for minutes with the LaLiga champions.

The playmaker's next move could see him in the Premier League.

 

TOP STORY – ARSENAL WANT ISCO

Arsenal want to sign Real Madrid midfielder Isco on loan in January before buying him ahead of 2021-22, according to Defensa Central.

Isco has been at Madrid since 2013, but is linked with a move as he seeks more game time.

Previously linked to Everton, Isco is wanted by Arsenal and the report says Mikel Arteta has already asked for the 28-year-old to be signed.

 

ROUND-UP

- Facing injury problems in defence, Barcelona and Liverpool could be set to make signings in January. Sport reports former Valencia and Madrid defender Ezequiel Garay, a free agent, has been offered to both clubs.

- Impressing at Milan, Hakan Calhanoglu is out of contract at season's end. Sport Bild reports the midfielder is almost certain to join Manchester United ahead of next term.

- In red-hot form for Borussia Dortmund, Erling Haaland's future continues to be a talking point. AS says the striker – who has scored 17 goals in 13 games this season – is considered a luxury item for Real Madrid, who will fight half of Europe to sign him. It says Haaland's value is growing and is already at €100million.

- Linked with Chelsea and Manchester City, Nicolas Tagliafico has agreed to extend his contract with Ajax until 2023, according to De Telegraaf. The report says the defender will finish the season with the Eredivisie giants and he can then pursue his dream of playing for a top club.

- Yet to make a Premier League start this season, Christian Benteke is out of contract at Crystal Palace at the end of the campaign. But the Evening Standard reports the striker has been offered a contract extension at Selhurst Park.

With coronavirus restrictions to be eased and fans allowed back into (some) stadia next month, matchday 10 will hopefully be the last of this season's Premier League where every game is behind closed doors.

With that in mind, this weekend is likely to become something of a cut-off point in 2020-21 in terms of assessing how players and teams are faring, and whether the absence of fans has helped or hindered.

In other words, if anyone likes playing in front of empty stands, this will be their last chance to really enjoy themselves – and rack up some fantasy football points for the discerning manager.

Using Opta data, we've come up with our latest weekly selection, which might give some of you an edge heading into the festive period...

 

KARL DARLOW

Newcastle United fans might not be fully behind Steve Bruce, but one most can agree on is that goalkeeper Karl Darlow is enjoying career-best form.

The 30-year-old has filled in admirably for Martin Dubravka this season, making more saves (41) than any other Premier League goalkeeper. In fact, only Edouard Mendy (87.5 per cent) has a better save percentage than Darlow (72.2 per cent).

Goals are usually at a premium when Newcastle play Crystal Palace – only seven have been scored in the previous seven meetings – so a Darlow clean sheet could well be on the cards.

 

MATT DOHERTY

Matt Doherty is one of only three defenders to have scored and assisted four Premier League goals since the start of 2019-20.

The Tottenham man has had 98 touches in the opposition box in that time, a tally bettered only by Andy Robertson when it comes to defenders.

However, nobody beats Doherty for shots on target over that time frame (17). As a defender for a resolute Tottenham side, he's always worth including.

 

MICHAEL KEANE

Dominic Calvert-Lewin has been plundering the goal trail this season, but Michael Keane might just be Everton's most clinical finisher.

No Premier League defender has scored more than Keane (three goals) since June 2020, and those goals have come from only seven shots, giving him the best conversion rate (42.9 per cent) among defenders to score more than once in the competition in that time.

Everton have struggled for clean sheets lately but Keane at least could offset those defensive issues if he nets against Leeds United.

RIYAD MAHREZ

Burnley do not like playing Manchester City. They've won once in 12 Premier League meetings and lost the previous six in all competitions by an aggregate score of 23-1.

They are also sick of the sight of Riyad Mahrez, who has scored four goals in his most recent three league games against the Clarets. They are his second favourite opponents, behind Watford (he has seven goals against them).

Pep Guardiola could well rotate his side as the schedule continues to pile up, and Mahrez will be eager to impress.

 

BRUNO FERNANDES

Where would Manchester United be without Bruno Fernandes? Well, they'd be winless this season - he's scored the winning goal in each of their four league victories in 2020-21.

In fact, Fernandes has been involved in more Premier League goals (24 – 14 scored, 10 assisted) than any other player since his debut. In the same period, only Kevin De Bruyne (74) has created more chances than the Portugal star (56).

Facing Southampton away is a tough challenge for any side at the moment, so a decisive Fernandes display could be crucial for United.

DOMINIC CALVERT-LEWIN

Dominic Calvert-Lewin leads the way for goalscoring this season, with 10 in nine games.

If he scores against Leeds United, he will become only the second player to score more than 10 in his side's first 10 games, after Les Ferdinand, who hit 13 in 1995-96.

Leeds will be no pushovers, but Calvert-Lewin will take some stopping.

 

TAMMY ABRAHAM

Chelsea striker Tammy Abraham is looking to score in three consecutive Premier League games for the first time since last September.

Abraham has actually scored twice as many goals (18) as any other Blues player since the beginning of last season.

Frank Lampard has plenty of attacking riches at his disposal, but Abraham is out to prove a point to his boss.

Everton have confirmed Lucas Digne is set to undergo surgery on an ankle ligament injury sustained in training this week.

Left-back Digne has made an impressive start to the season, with his link-up with James Rodriguez – who has played predominantly on the right flank for Everton with the freedom to drift inside – a crucial part of Everton's attack.

From eight Premier League appearances this term, Digne has created 16 chances, second behind only James (18) in regards to Everton players, while the former Barcelona man has registered four assists, including two in a 3-2 win over Fulham last time out.

Digne has started every league game he has been available for this term, with the 27-year-old having been suspended for a defeat to Newcastle United following a red card in a 2-0 loss to Southampton on October 25.

Niels Nkounkou replaced Digne in that match, and the youngster would seem the natural replacement for his fellow Frenchman.

Everton added that Digne will go under the knife on Monday, before starting his rehabilitation process. No timeframe has been placed on his return, though it is expected he will be out of action for around two months.

That will keep him out of a hectic festive period, which includes an EFL Cup quarter-final tie with Manchester United.

Since Digne signed for Everton under Marco Silva in August 2018, the France international has missed just seven league games, appearing 78 times in the top flight.

Everton, who face Leeds United have only managed two wins from those seven games, conceding an average of 1.9 goals per game, compared to 1.3 with Digne in the side.

While Digne is solid at the back, the Toffees will be missing a huge creative influence going forward – he has created more chances than any other Premier League defender since the start of the 2018-19 season, while only Liverpool pair Trent Alexander-Arnold and Andrew Robertson (26 each) have more assists among defenders in that time.

Digne also ranks the highest for assists (15), interceptions (109), crosses from open play (357) and tackles (160) in Everton's squad since his Premier League debut.

Is a Manchester United reunion on the cards for Cristiano Ronaldo?

Ronaldo's future at Juventus has dominated headlines this season.

But returning to Old Trafford is reportedly not in the pipeline.

 

TOP STORY – NO UNITED REUNION FOR RONALDO

Juventus superstar Cristiano Ronaldo will not be returning to Manchester United, according to journalist Fabrizio Romano.

A report earlier this month claimed United were looking to re-sign Ronaldo, who won three Premier League titles and the Champions League in six years at Old Trafford before joining Real Madrid in 2009.

But Romano says United are focusing on different players and not Ronaldo – also a reported target for Ligue 1 champions Paris Saint-Germain.

ROUND-UP

Barcelona are monitoring Hoffenheim centre-back Melayro Bogarde, claims Sky Italia. The 18-year-old has also captured the attention of Milan.

- Calciomercato reports Milan want to sign Real Madrid's Lucas Vazquez at the end of the season. Vazquez is out of contract following the 2020-21 campaign.

Everton are in pole position to sign Juventus outcast Sami Khedira, says Calciomercato. The German midfielder looks set to leave the Serie A champions. Carlo Ancelotti's Everton have also been linked with Madrid midfielder Isco. It comes as Football Insider claims the Toffees are eyeing Tottenham trio Dele Alli, Harry Winks and Paulo Gazzaniga.

- The Express reports Liverpool could sell duo Divock Origi and Xherdan Shaqiri in January. Origi and Shaqiri have struggled for regular game time at Anfield, where the Reds are desperate to bolster their defence amid an injury crisis. Liverpool have been linked with Schalke centre-back Ozan Kabak and Ajax's Perr Schuurs.

- Estadio Deportivo claims Real Betis are eyeing Madrid winger Takefusa Kubo, who has struggled for game time on loan at Villarreal.

Milan are a "serious candidate" to sign Arsenal forward Nicolas Pepe, reports Milan Live. The Rossoneri are considering an initial loan offer.

Liverpool made light work of Leicester City to move level on points with Premier League leaders Tottenham on a day that saw a couple of records broken at Anfield.

Inspired by another impressive Diogo Jota showing, the Reds eased to a routine victory to keep their positive momentum going at a time when their squad is getting more depleted by the week.

Merseyside rivals Everton were also victorious in Sunday's top-flight action with a narrow win at Fulham, while West Ham saw off Sheffield United and 10-man Arsenal were held by toothless Leeds United.

Using Opta data, we take a look at the key facts from the day's four Premier League fixtures.

 

Fulham 2-3 Everton: Calvert-Lewin at the double as Toffees inflict more capital punishment

Dominic Calvert-Lewin maintained his impressive scoring run with a couple of goals as Everton returned to winning ways in the early kick-off at Craven Cottage.

The England international scored after just 42 seconds – the earliest league goal Everton have netted since April 2017 – before Bobby Decordova-Reid's temporary leveller.

That made it goals in back-to-back home league games for Decordova-Reid for the first time since April 2018 when he was playing in the Championship with Bristol City.

Calvert-Lewin restored Everton's lead for his 10th league goal in nine outings this term, Lucas Digne setting up both that goal and Abdoulaye Doucoure's six minutes later.

Since making his competition debut in August 2018, only Trent Alexander-Arnold and Andy Robertson (both 26) have more assists among defenders than Digne's 15.

A struggling Fulham side wasted a chance to get back into the game when Ivan Cavaleiro became the latest player for the south London side to miss from the penalty spot.

They have missed five of their past eight top-flight penalties, including the previous three, which have each taken by different players (Aleksandar Mitrovic, Ademola Lookman and Cavaleiro).

Ruben Loftus-Cheek did pull one back but Everton, who have conceded twice or more in six straight league games for the first time in 12 years, held on for a third straight league win in London – their best such run since April 1987.

Sheffield United 0-1 West Ham: Blunt Blades still seeking first victory

Sebastien Haller scored from outside the box for the first time in his top-flight career, on what was his 190th such appearance, to earn West Ham a slender victory at Sheffield United.

The striker, who has also previously played in the Eredivisie and Bundesliga, scored from range after 56 minutes for his sixth goal in all competitions this season – double the number of any other West Ham player.

United were unable to respond and are now without a win in 13 games in all competitions, making this their worst run since October 2013.

Chris Wilder's men have lost four top-flight matches in a row and are only the third side in Premier League history to pick up one point or fewer from their opening nine games, after Manchester City in 1995-96 and Sheffield Wednesday in 1999-2000.

West Ham are now unbeaten in their past 12 Premier League games against sides starting the day bottom, winning five in a row, and they are the first London club to win at Bramall Lane in the competition in 12 attempts since October 2006.

Leeds United 0-0 Arsenal: Hot-headed Gunners fire another blank

Arsenal failed to score for the fourth time in five Premier League outings as they played out a stalemate with Leeds at Elland Road.

Firing blanks has become the norm for Arsenal but there was nothing usual about the scoreline from Leeds' perspective – only their third goalless draw in 101 league games under Marcelo Bielsa.

Leeds now have 41 clean sheets across those 101 matches, not including play-offs, which is more than any other side in the top four tiers of English football in that period.

The Gunners have scored just nine league goals in the same number of league games in 2020-21 – their lowest tally at this stage since 1986-87 when scoring six times.

Mikel Arteta's side had to play almost an entire half with 10 men after Nicolas Pepe was given the first red card of his career in Europe's top five leagues, this being his 146th such appearance.

That was the fifth red card Arsenal have received in the league since Arteta took over in December 2019 – at least two more than any other club.

A point can be considered a good result on the balance of things given Leeds had 25 shots – the third most a team has managed in the Premier League this term, behind only Manchester United v Newcastle United (28) and Leeds v Aston Villa (27).

Liverpool 3-0 Leicester City: Rampant Reds win again at fortress Anfield

A lot has been made of Liverpool's depleted backline but makeshift centre-back pairing Fabinho and Joel Matip withstood everything Leicester chucked at them, the Reds keeping a fourth clean sheet in seven games and conceding only three times in that run.

Jonny Evans' own goal after 21 minutes put Liverpool on their way – the sixth time the former Manchester United defender has put into his own net in the Premier League, which is behind only Richard Dunne (10), Jamie Carragher and Martin Skrtel (both seven)

Jota doubled the hosts' advantage before half-time against his favourite opponents to become the first Liverpool player ever to score in his first four home top-flight league appearances.

It was a special goal in more ways than one, too, as it came after a sequence of 30 passes – the most in the build-up to any goal by the reigning champions since Opta started collecting data in 2006-07.

Jurgen Klopp's side added a deserved third goal to their tally late on through Roberto Firmino, who has now scored in two of Liverpool's five home league matches this term, compared to one in 19 such outings in 2019-20.

The routine home win makes it 64 home league matches without defeat for Liverpool – now officially the longest run in the club's history, with 53 of those games ending in victory.

It was another unhappy reunion with Liverpool for their former boss Brendan Rodgers, meanwhile, as he has lost all three league encounters with the Reds since taking charge of Leicester, conceding nine goals in the process.

Sami Khedira wants to realise a childhood dream by playing in the Premier League as he nears a Juventus exit.

The Germany midfielder does not appear to be part of Andrea Pirlo's plans at Juve, with the World Cup winner potentially set for a January switch.

World Cup-winner Khedira has denied reports he refused to sign a termination agreement with the Serie A champions, but he is set to leave and England's top flight is his desired destination.

"When I was a child, it was always a big dream of mine to be a Premier League player," the 33-year-old, whose contract expires at the end of the season, told Sky Germany.

"I am really happy and satisfied with my career until now but one thing is still missing because I always had this dream and it has never come true… to be a part of the Premier League.

"I have watched so many Premier League games since I was young; even now I am following the Premier League a lot.

"I enjoyed always to play with my teams to play in the Champions League against the English clubs. The atmosphere, the style and idea of football has always impressed me.

"If it is possible, it will for sure be a really big dream [come true] and honour to be a part of the Premier League."

Though he gave no indication of his preferred club, Khedira spoke highly of Tottenham coach Jose Mourinho, a man he worked with at Real Madrid.

Explaining his respect for the Portuguese, Khedira said: "Because of his personality, he is always honest, direct, clear in his mind and a great coach.

"Many people talk about him [being] too defensive, but he is a winner, he is a champion. That is why he impressed me the most."

But Mourinho is not the only coach in the Premier League who has won the admiration of Khedira, with Everton manager Carlo Ancelotti also coming in for praise.

"I really enjoyed working with Jose Mourinho but there are many coaches who I would like to work with," said Khedira.

"I would never say no again to Jose Mourinho but it is not the only guy who I would say I would like to work with again.

"There are many coaches, even in the Premier League that I respect a lot. Ancelotti is doing a great job at the moment and is a great personality.

"He is one of the coaches who impressed me also."

Joao Felix apparently has no plans to leave Atletico Madrid for Paris Saint-Germain.

Joao Felix, 21, is enjoying a fine campaign with the LaLiga giants, having struggled during his first season in 2019-20 after his arrival from Benfica.

The playmaker has attracted interest from PSG.

 

TOP STORY – FELIX WANTS ATLETICO STAY AMID PSG INTEREST

Joao Felix is not thinking about leaving Atletico Madrid amid Paris Saint-Germain's interest, according to Record.

Signed by Atletico for a reported €126million last year, Joao Felix has started to star for Diego Simeone's side.

Only Mikel Oyarzabal (six goals and two assists) has been directly involved in more LaLiga goals than Joao Felix (five goals and two assists) this season.

Joao Felix has also created five big chances – the second most behind Sergio Canales – for Atletico, who are unbeaten in LaLiga ahead of hosting Barcelona on Saturday.

 

ROUND-UP

- Out of contract at Bayern Munich at the end of the season, David Alaba is expected to leave the Bundesliga champions. Marca reports the defender is an option for Real Madrid and a move is not dependant on Sergio Ramos' future with the LaLiga giants.

- Another Madrid defender, Raphael Varane, is also linked with a move. The Manchester Evening News says Manchester United may again look at the defender, who is contracted at Madrid until 2022.

- Isco's time at Madrid could finally be coming to an end. El Confidencial reports Isco, who is in his eighth season at Madrid, is on the market. Everton have been linked with the attacker.

- A decision about RB Leipzig defender Dayot Upamecano's future could be close. Bild says a call could be made in January amid links to United and Liverpool, with his €45m release clause reportedly too much for Bayern.

- Mariano Diaz may be set for a Madrid exit. The Daily Mail reports West Ham have been offered the chance to sign the forward, potentially on loan initially.

Harry Maguire's dominant display in Manchester United's 3-1 win over Everton drew praise from Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, who also lauded Fred and Scott McTominay's midfield partnership.

United bounced back from successive defeats to Arsenal and Istanbul Basaksehir by claiming a vital win at Goodison Park, relieving some of the mounting pressure on Solskjaer.

Bernard put Everton ahead, but a quickfire double from Bruno Fernandes turned matters around before the break.

Everton toiled for an equaliser in the second half, but the contest was settled in added time when Fernandes, who has now been involved in a Premier League record 15 goals (10 scored, five assisted) in his first 10 away games in the competition, teed up Edinson Cavani for his maiden United goal.

MAGUIRE LEADS UNITED DEFENCE

While Fernandes made United's attack tick, captain Maguire put in an excellent performance at the other end, standing firm against the league's joint-leading scorer Dominic Calvert-Lewin.

Maguire was dominant in the air as Everton – still shorn of the suspended Richarlison – attempted to pick out their often-isolated forward, with the England defender making one tackle, one interception and seven clearances, the most he has managed in a league match this term.

After a difficult start to the season for Maguire, it was a display which delighted Solskjaer, who told a news conference: "I thought Harry's performance was top, of course.

"Against for me one of the best in the world for aerial play – Calvert-Lewin, with his timing in the air, his jump, his spring, his athleticism.

"I thought we defended very well against him. Really pleased with Harry, and the rest of them back there." 

Having used a midfield diamond in United's defeat to Arsenal last Sunday, Solskjaer switched to a 4-2-3-1, with Fred and McTominay in a double-pivot.

The duo excelled, attempting a combined 112 passes and making three tackles between them, with McTominay also intercepting two passes – a game-high.

Fred had the most passing attempts (63) and completed passes (57) of any United player, with his 90.5 per cent success rate the best among their starters.

"Scott and Fred have done brilliant together, they're a great partnership," said Solskjaer, who left Paul Pogba on the bench until the 82nd minute.

"Of course, they didn't play during the week, Scott played 45 minutes in Turkey, but you can see they had fresh legs. 

"We had Bruno and he scored his goals, but Scott and Fred, with that energy, in that engine room, they're always key for us so our creative players can go on and create chances, show their magic.

"They're so disciplined and I'm very pleased with the two of them."

TOFFEES COME UNSTUCK YET AGAIN

While Solskjaer revelled in a much-improved performance, Ancelotti was left to reflect on a third straight league reverse.

November 2006, at Milan, was the last time Ancelotti endured such a run, while Everton have conceded at least two goals in each of their last five league games.

"The problem was that after we scored we were not able to defend well, and they took advantage," Ancelotti told BT Sport.

"They were able to score easily. We said before the game we had to defend better and we did not defend good enough. We were slow at the back, we have to improve.

"I hope that after the international break we will back in a different shape. It is not only a problem of the defenders, it is all of the team.

"I know how to manage difficulties, every year you have them. We can start again after the break, we are really bad at the moment but we started well."

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer raged against the Premier League schedule after Manchester United's win at Everton, claiming: "They set us up to fail." 

United won 3-1 at Goodison Park on Saturday thanks to two goals from Bruno Fernandes and Edinson Cavani's first for the club, after Bernard had put the Toffees ahead in the first half. 

The match kicked off just over 48 hours after the United squad had arrived back in England from Turkey, where they had lost 2-1 to Istanbul Basaksehir in the Champions League. 

Solskjaer said on Friday that a request to move the Everton game to a later time had been turned down as he described concerns for the welfare of players during a packed schedule made worse by the disruption caused by the coronavirus pandemic. 

The Red Devils manager seemed determined to keep all focus on the "absolute shambles" of the fixture pile-up after beating Carlo Ancelotti's side, rather than discuss the positives of a performance that will ease some of the pressure on his shoulders. 

Indeed, Solskjaer confirmed Luke Shaw suffered a hamstring injury and Marcus Rashford was left struggling towards the end of the match, issues he blamed on the quick turnaround. 

"We were set up to fail," he told BT Sport. "I said to you before, when I talked to you about the kick-off time, it's set up the boys to fail. 

"We got Luke Shaw injured today because we've been to Turkey, we've played loads of games this season already, and we've been to Turkey Wednesday night, [and] come Thursday morning we're back in, we're playing Saturday lunchtime kick-off. It's an absolute shambles and I can't praise the boys enough for that character they've shown. 

"That's all I want to talk about today. Those boys deserve better than being thrown out here to fail today. 

"Authorities set us up to fail. How can they set us up, after a Champions League game, Wednesday night, in Turkey, and set us a Saturday 12.30 kick-off? 

"You've got Liverpool and [Manchester] City – fair play, they play against each other – played on Tuesday and they play on Sunday. Who's responsible? We've had enough of that. I've had enough. 

"Players, this season, I said it yesterday, you have to understand how these players, in these times, how mentally draining, physically draining this is, and you set them up like this? We've lost Luke Shaw because of that. 

"Set us up on a Sunday. There's absolutely no problem, there's an international break after. No argument whatsoever [about a Sunday match]. It's just a joke." 

Asked about the performance of Fernandes, who scored twice and set up Cavani's goal, Solskjaer said: "Brilliant. Absolutely top, fantastic, after Thursday morning coming back. They're not gonna have the pleasure of seeing us lose again.

"[Cavani] is getting better and better, sharper and sharper, today was just trying to finish the game off, because we did well."

Solskjaer confirmed Shaw's injury could be a lengthy one, while he said Mason Greenwood did not travel with the squad after reporting that he felt unwell.

Bruno Fernandes says it is the responsibility of every Manchester United player to be a leader for the team after inspiring his side to a 3-1 win at Everton.

The Red Devils eased some of the pressure on manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer at Goodison Park on Saturday as they bounced back from consecutive losses to Arsenal and Istanbul Basaksehir.

Bernard put Everton ahead after 19 minutes but United responded well, with Fernandes heading in Luke Shaw's cross to level the scores.

The Portugal international put the visitors in front when his cross went in off the post after Marcus Rashford had tried to glance it in, the goal coming at the end of a 20-pass move, the second-longest sequence leading to a goal in the Premier League in 2020-21.

United defended stoutly in the second half, with Everton failing to record a shot on target after their opener, and Edinson Cavani settled the contest with his first United goal after Fernandes set him up on the break.

Fernandes has now been involved in 15 goals (10 scored, five assisted) in his first 10 away games in the Premier League, which is a record in the competition.

In his 21 league appearances overall since joining from Sporting CP in January, Fernandes has scored 13 times. In the Premier League era, only Ruud van Nistelrooy, Robin van Persie (both 16), Dwight Yorke (15) and Zlatan Ibrahimovic (14) have scored more in their opening 21 top-flight games for United.

His display belied criticism from some former players that United lack leaders, but Fernandes himself said it is up to all of the squad to show those qualities.

"We know, inside the dressing room, what we have to do, the players we have, and everyone needs to be a leader," he told BT Sport.

"Some of them are the, I don't know how to say it in English, but the [quiet leader], you know? They don't talk too much and they're doing the right things. Others need to speak a little bit more, to be more inside the game, to feel more part of the game.

"The point is, at the end of the game, taking the three points is for everyone, not just for one player."

Fernandes has been credited with United's second goal even though Rashford appeared at first glance to have got his head to the cross, but he would be happy to see his team-mate claim it.

"I don't care! If Marcus touched it a little bit, it can be his goal. It's no problem for me," he said.

"The most important [thing] for me, as a number 10, is serving my team-mates, as I did in the end for Edi. I had the chance to shoot and maybe look for the hat-trick, but I see Edi along and he had the chance.

"If Marcus can take the second goal, it's not a problem for me."

Bruno Fernandes scored twice and Edinson Cavani opened his Manchester United account in a 3-1 win at Everton that will ease the pressure on manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.

After back-to-back losses to Arsenal and Istanbul Basaksehir, Saturday's Premier League clash at Goodison Park was viewed by some as a must-win match for Solskjaer amid increasing speculation over his future.

Things looked worrying for the Red Devils boss when Bernard put Carlo Ancelotti's side ahead, but Fernandes scored twice before half-time and Cavani struck at the death to deliver three valuable points.

Anthony Martial, back from a three-game domestic suspension, dragged a shot wide from a promising position as United sought a positive start.

The visitors were behind 19 minutes in, though, as Bernard squeezed an effort into the bottom-left corner through Aaron Wan-Bissaka's legs after Dominic Calvert-Lewin had helped on Jordan Pickford's long kick.

Fernandes equalised in the previous meeting at this ground and he drew United level again, powering a header beyond Pickford after running into the box to meet Luke Shaw's delivery.

The Portugal international then put his side ahead, his cross at the end of a 20-pass sequence going in off the right-hand post after Marcus Rashford had tried to glance it in.

United captain Harry Maguire wanted a penalty when Pickford and Michael Keane clashed with him after the Everton goalkeeper had dropped the ball, but neither the officials on the pitch nor those using VAR agreed.

Rashford smashed another strike at Pickford as United failed to find a third goal on the break, although they kept the home side at bay despite the Toffees controlling possession in the second half.

As Everton poured forward in injury time, Maguire's interception sent Fernandes away on the break, and he waited before teeing up Cavani to sweep home.

What does it mean? Solskjaer keeps wolves from the door

Defeat here was highly unlikely to spell an immediate end to Solskjaer's time in charge, but this was an important result to quieten some of the recent mounting criticism.

The fact it came against a side unbeaten in three games against United, at a ground where they lost 4-0 in April last year in their worst display under the Norwegian, made this performance more impressive.

United are on 10 points from seven matches and three behind Everton, whose manager has now suffered three consecutive league defeats for the first time since November 2006, when he was at AC Milan.

Fernandes leads from the front

No player has managed as many goal involvements as Fernandes (15) in their first 10 away matches in the Premier League.

Beyond his double and assist here, he was an important presence in pressing the Everton midfield, winning three tackles – more than anyone else in red.

James kept quiet

James Rodriguez struggled to influence matters from the Everton right, creating no chances and attempting no shots before being replaced by Cenk Tosun.

What's next?

United host West Brom after the international break on November 21. On the same day, Everton travel to Fulham.

Ederson has rejected the criticism aimed at Jordan Pickford after the Everton goalkeeper's rash challenge on Virgil van Dijk left the Liverpool defender with a serious knee injury. 

England's number one clattered into the Dutchman in the early stages of last month's Merseyside derby, with Van Dijk subsequently undergoing surgery as he faces up to a prolonged spell on the sidelines. 

Pickford – who was left out by Carlo Ancelotti for the Toffees' loss to Newcastle United last time out – has come under fire from many quarters, but Manchester City goalkeeper Ederson has sympathy for the 26-year-old. 

Speaking ahead of City's crunch clash with Premier League champions Liverpool on Sunday, Ederson said: "First and foremost, I don't think any player steps on the pitch looking to injure an opponent. Sometimes you have a fraction of a second to make a decision.

"Unfortunately, Jordan Pickford had that clash with Van Dijk and it ended up resulting in a serious injury. That's part of football; sometimes it happens.  

"It could happen to any of us. I don't think it was Pickford's intention to injure Van Dijk and in the same way I don't think it was [Sadio] Mane's intention to do that when he clashed with me in our game a few years ago. 

"You have such a short time to make a decision and it could happen to any of us." 

Van Dijk's absence is undoubtedly a boost for City's prospects at the Etihad Stadium this weekend, with Fabinho also set to miss out for the visitors. 

But Brazil international Ederson knows Jurgen Klopp's side will still carry a threat as City seek a fourth consecutive home league win over the Reds for the first time since 1937. 

"Their best centre-back, Van Dijk, is out," he said. "Fabinho has been playing really well this season and he's out too. But we mustn't forget that Liverpool still have great players. 

"Their absences aren't going to be a big disadvantage for them or a big advantage for us. We don't focus on the players that aren't going to play, or a specific absence, we focus on Liverpool as a whole team."

The match will see Ederson come up against a familiar face, with compatriot Alisson in between the posts at the other end. Despite competing for a starting spot for their country, the two are friends. 

“I have a good friendship with Alisson. He is an incredible guy," he said. "Our rivalry is only on the pitch, off the pitch that doesn't exist. We are good friends. 

"I hope we both can have a good game on Sunday. Our style is very similar. Perhaps I play more with my feet, but so does he. 

"Liverpool have more or less the same style of play and he is an incredible goalkeeper." 

Alisson faces a tough task, with Liverpool having failed to keep a clean sheet in any of their past 10 away league games against City, conceding 26 goals in that run. 

City, who are looking to win back-to-back top-flight games for the first time this season, have been victorious in nine of the their past 10 Premier League games against the team who were reigning champions.

Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer insisted he has no concerns over his position amid speculation, claiming he is working on a long-term plan with the struggling Premier League club.

Solskjaer has overseen United's worst start to a season at home of any manager since 1972-73 following last week's 1-0 loss to rivals Arsenal in the Premier League.

United followed up that defeat with an insipid 2-1 defeat away against Turkish hosts Istanbul Basaksehir in the Champions League, heaping further pressure on Solskjaer.

While United have upstaged Champions League finalists Paris Saint-Germain and humbled RB Leipzig, the Red Devils have lost to Crystal Palace and Tottenham – who humiliated the English giants 6-1.

Former Tottenham boss Mauricio Pochettino has been linked with a move to Old Trafford, but speaking ahead of Saturday's crucial trip to Everton, Solskjaer said: "I am going to say all my conversations with the club have been planning long term.

"Of course we want results short term but I've had positive good dialogue with the plans we have put in place.

"We have planted a seed, the tree is growing. Some clubs just rip up that tree and see if it is still growing and see if it is still getting water underneath.

"For me I have had a backing all the way since I've come in on the bigger picture. And the club needs to look at the bigger picture, we can't go thinking and reacting to one or two results, we have got to look further back and [ask] what is the direction we are going."

United languish 15th in the Premier League with just two wins from six games, nine points adrift of leaders Southampton.

Solskjaer's United have won more Premier League games against Everton than any side has won against another in the competition's history (36), per Opta.

Meanwhile, their 16 wins at Goodison Park is the joint-most away wins for a club at a specific venue in the competition (United also 16 at Villa Park).

United have also won each of their last six Premier League away games – only between April-August 1993 (seven) have they won more consecutively on the road in the competition.

Solskjaer, who replaced Jose Mourinho on an interim basis in December 2018 before being permanently appointed in March last year, added: "The culture and the mentality in the group has improved immensely. They do really have the mindset of improving all the time and winning. 

"Yes, every time you lose a game there are critics out there everywhere. I have no complaints about the mentality."

Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer believes he is the right man for the club despite pressure building on him ahead of Saturday's trip to Everton.

United were beaten 1-0 by Arsenal at Old Trafford in the Premier League last weekend before Wednesday's humbling 2-1 reverse to Istanbul Basaksehir.

The nature of that performance in Turkey in particular has prompted further scrutiny over Solskjaer, who has overseen the worst start to a season at home of any United manager since 1972-73.

Impressive performances, such as victories over Paris Saint-Germain and RB Leipzig, have been undermined by embarrassing losses at home to Crystal Palace and Tottenham, and they have not scored in their previous two league matches.

Another defeat at Goodison Park, where they have not won since January 2018, would cast further doubt on Solskjaer's future as speculation builds around the club having sounded out Mauricio Pochettino and Julian Nagelsmann as possible replacements.

But Solskjaer, who had overseen a club-record 10 consecutive away wins in all competitions before the Basaksehir loss, says he has no reason not to be confident in his own strengths.

"Why shouldn't I be?" he said on Friday. "If I don't trust my beliefs and values and my staff's quality and players' quality, who else should? I don't look at one or two results and fall like a house of cards. 

"I think there's been too much made of, say, not scoring against Arsenal and Chelsea because there was more or less nothing in those two games and it's not long ago we were the best things since sliced bread when we beat RB Leipzig and PSG. 

"There's ups and downs in football and you have to have belief in yourself and the players the club has been very positive and they've shown strong character and leadership. 

"I've always had a very good, open, honest, positive dialogue with the club and they've shown strong leadership. I don't expect the wind to turn. Of course, there is always pressure and expectations on us, but I've grown up here or became a man at Manchester United and learned how to deal with good and bad times."

Solskjaer believes the disruption caused by the coronavirus pandemic, including matches being held behind closed doors, is not helping players when it comes to recovering from defeats.

"Every game lives its own life and it's fine margins," he said. "Results create the headlines and the backdrop and in games that you win at times you're praised and 'that was a fantastic performance' and sometimes you lose, and you're criticised and it's not that black and white.

"No-one has been in the situation the players are in now. They've had months and months of playing with the uncertainty of the virus and the pandemic and sometimes it's easy to sit at home and think football is the same. We have to look after them, both physically and mentally, and these are things I think about a lot. 

"I'm a definite believer in these boys and they will come back and show that they care.

"You have to be mentally strong, of course, there are demands on a Man United player and coach and manager and an expectation because we're at the best and biggest club in the world and you don't expect to have anything but criticism. It's how you deal with that setback and the boys have been very focused since we came back and ready to give a response. 

"You don't have to be happy to stay positive. You know that, on difficult days, in life, there will be better ones coming and I know these players well enough and I trust them enough to have a response, going out there enjoying wearing the shirt and playing a good team, which is always another personal pride as well."

Page 1 of 27
© 2020 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.