Marcus Rashford believes there is a common winning mentality shared by Bruno Fernandes and Zlatan Ibrahimovic – something Manchester United must channel if they are to get back to winning silverware. 

Ibrahimovic is in line to return from an abductor injury when Milan host his former club in the Europa League on Thursday, with the round-of-16 tie all square at 1-1. 

The veteran forward, whose surprise return to international football with Sweden was confirmed this week, joined United on a free transfer in 2016 and was a talismanic figure during his first season in England. 

Across all competitions, Ibrahimovic scored 28 goals - including a brace in United's 3-2 EFL Cup final win over Southampton. 

The Red Devils also lifted the Europa League in that season under Jose Mourinho although by the time of their final triumph over Ajax, Ibrahimovic was sidelined by a serious knee injury. 

He returned to action ahead of schedule but departed to LA Galaxy midway through the following campaign. 

United now frequently look to Portugal midfielder Fernandes for inspiration. 

The former Sporting CP star has scored 35 goals – the most of any Premier League player in all competitions since his United debut on February 1 last year – and provided 21 assists in 65 appearances for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's side. 

"Yeah, you could say so," Rashford told reporters when asked whether Ibrahimovic and Fernandes were similar.

"Mentally they're both just winners. They want to win games, win trophies. 

"That's the atmosphere and the culture at this club. We need to start doing it now, winning trophies and taking steps in that direction. 

"The game against Milan is another opportunity for us to get one step closer. 

"Ever since we unfortunately got knocked out of the Champions League the focus has been to win the Europa League. We're not going to be happy with anything less than that." 

Longevity in the sport comparable to Ibrahimovic is something a long way away for the 23-year-old Rashford. 

The home leg against Milan was the first of United's games this season that the England international sat out after a minor injury he sustained during the derby victory over Manchester City, while he is also managing a shoulder complaint. 

Nevertheless, Rashford dismissed any concerns over burnout. 

"I know my body and I know what I can do physically," he said, with his availability an ongoing boost to Solskjaer after Edinson Cavani suffered a reaction in the final training session before the trip to Italy, forcing him to pull out of the travelling party. 

"I take one game at a time. It's the life of a footballer – we can rest when we retire. 

"I recover from games and injuries quite well, so I have no doubts or fears on that. 

"To be honest, I just focus on the next game at hand. That's how I deal with it. My focus is just on being available for games." 

Another player from the United production line that yielded Rashford, Teden Mengi, has signed a contract extension until June 2024. 

Mengi is currently on loan at Wayne Rooney's Derby County. 

Cristiano Ronaldo is one of football's all-time greats and cannot be blamed for Juventus' early Champions League exit, according to international team-mate Bruno Fernandes.

Juve were eliminated from Europe's elite club competition by Porto at the last-16 stage on Tuesday, crashing out 4-4 on away goals after extra time at the Allianz Stadium.

Sergio Oliveira scored the decisive goal late on from a free-kick that went straight through the Juve wall, with Ronaldo sheepishly turning his back on the effort.

Former Bianconeri boss Fabio Capello singled out Ronaldo on the back of the two-legged defeat, in which the five-time Ballon d'Or winner failed to find the back of the net.

Ex-president Giovanni Cobolli Gigli went as far to suggest Juve should never have spent €100million to sign the forward in 2018, meanwhile, but Fernandes has defended his compatriot.

"Cristiano is one of the greats in football history. His mentality inspires those who practice this sport," Fernandes told La Gazzetta dello Sport. "He has won a lot, but no one can win alone. 

"I understand that his presence at Juve had created enormous expectations for the Champions League, but when a team lose, the whole squad lose, not one single player.

"I'm not surprised [by the result]. Porto have a winning mentality. They play aggressive football and I expected them to create problems for Juventus."

While Ronaldo and Juve are enduring a difficult campaign, Fernandes is going from strength to strength at Manchester United.

The former Sporting CP star has scored 16 goals and assisted 10 more in the Premier League this campaign, which is the highest direct goal involvement of any midfielder in Europe's top five leagues.

Fernandes spent five years in Italian football with Novara, Udinese and Sampdoria, though it was not until joining Sporting in 2017 that his career truly took off.

"I had to complete my physical growth," Fernandes said of his time in Italy. "I was moving from one country to another.

"I didn't fully establish myself because the role of the attacking midfielder isn't easy in [Italian] football."

Fernandes cited the example of Juve attacker Paulo Dybala, who has often struggled for consistency, before explaining the differences between Italian and English football.

"The story of Dybala seems enlightening to me," he said. "Everyone expects something special from him, but we are always strict towards him.

"Udinese was, also for the years spent with the Friuli, the most important stage, but the change of coach didn't help me.

"It was too bad, because I had found a real teacher in Francesco Guidolin. If I had spent more time with him, it might have been different.

"Anyway, I can only thank Italy for what it has given me. I was happy, I lived an experience of growth, I measured myself with a country where the football is of the highest level."

He added: "There's a lot of intensity in the Premier League. The pace is high.

"The smaller sides have quality and they make you suffer. In Italy, the tactics are like a university of sport."

Fernandes is expected to start United's Europa League last-16 first leg with Milan at Old Trafford on Thursday in a battle between two historically successful European heavyweights.

Milan have not competed in the Champions League since 2013-14, while United have only made it to the quarter-finals of the competition once since the same season.

However, both teams are second in their domestic leagues and are among the favourites to go all the way in the Europa League.

"In some respects, [United] and Milan are the same," he said. "Two clubs with a prestigious past, with 10 Champions League trophies in the cabinet, both have gone through a phase of transition, but are returning to the top.

"At the beginning of the season, no one thought that Milan could fight for the Scudetto. We are in March and they are second. 

"They play well, have interesting young players and the added value of [Zlatan] Ibrahimovic's strength."

Thursday's game will mark the 11th time Milan and United have met in European competition, with all 10 previous encounters coming in the European Cup or Champions League.

United have been eliminated from four of their five knockout ties with Milan, with no side knocking out the Red Devils more often in European competition – Real Madrid having also managed it four times. 

All good things must come to an end, and that proved the case for Manchester City on Sunday.

Their remarkable winning run of 21 games in all competitions came to an end with a 2-0 defeat to Manchester United in the derby.

City hold an 11-point lead over their neighbours at the top of the Premier League, however, and the real battle seems set to be for Champions League places.

Tottenham boosted their hopes with a 4-1 thrashing of Crystal Palace, with Harry Kane and Son Heung-min combining for a record-setting goal, while Liverpool's dismal form continued as they suffered a sixth successive home defeat. Fortress Anfield is well and truly a thing of the past.

At the bottom, West Brom and Newcastle United played out a goalless draw. We take a look at the best Opta facts from Sunday's games.

 

Manchester City 0-2 Manchester United: Winning streak grinds to a halt

If there was one team City did not want their incredible run of wins to come to an end against, it would have been United.

It was the first time City have lost since November, when they went down 2-0 at home to Spurs, ending a run of 28 games without a defeat across all competitions. Pep Guardiola's team had won their last 21 in total, including 15 in the league, though Ole Gunnar Solskjaer seems to have the better of his counterpart.

United have won three consecutive away games in all competitions at City for the first time since a run of four between November 1993 and November 2000, and among the managers Guardiola has faced more than three times across all competitions as a top-flight boss, Solskjaer is the only one to have beaten the Spaniard (four) more often than he has lost to him.

Solskjaer is also the first manager in United's history to win each of his first three away meetings in all competitions with City. Since the start of the 2019-20 season, three of City's five home defeats in all competitions have come against United.

The Norwegian is now the only manager to have won three away games against sides managed by Guardiola.

Bruno Fernandes scored the opener from the penalty spot inside two minutes. Since his Premier League debut in February 2020, he has scored 12 of the 13 penalties he has taken in the competition. 

After just 101 seconds, Fernandes' penalty was the earliest goal that City have ever conceded in a Premier League match at the Etihad Stadium, and the first they have conceded within two minutes at home in the competition since Steed Malbranque's strike for Fulham at Maine Road in January 2003.

Liverpool 0-1 Fulham: Reds' Merseyside misery rolls on

It is hard to believe that before their defeat to Burnley on January 21, Liverpool had not lost a league match at Anfield since April 2017. 

Liverpool have now lost six home games in a row, their longest ever such streak, while they are the first side to lose six in a row on home soil in the Premier League since Huddersfield Town in February 2019 (seven).

The Reds' six league defeats at Anfield this season is their most in a single campaign since 1953-54 (also six), when the Reds finished bottom of the top-flight, with Fulham the first promoted team to win away at Liverpool in the top flight since Blackpool Town in October 2010.

Jurgen Klopp's side are winless in their last eight league home matches, only embarking on a longer winless top-flight run at Anfield once before – 10 games between October 1951 and March 1952. They have won just one of their last seven matches in the competition.

Fulham, on the other hand, are unbeaten in their last eight Premier League away games (W2 D6) – their longest run without defeat on the road in their top-flight history – and are now level on 26 points with 17th-placed Brighton and Hove Albion.

Excluding penalties and own goals, Liverpool have failed to score with each of their last 115 shots at Anfield in the Premier League (including 16 against Fulham). This is the longest such scoreless run of shots on home soil by any side.

Tottenham 4-1 Crystal Palace: Bale and Kane rampant as Spurs boost top-four hopes

Only leaders City (35) have earned more points at home in this season's Premier League than Tottenham (24), and Jose Mourinho's men were in fine form against Palace.

Gareth Bale scored either side of Christian Benteke's equaliser – since the 2012-13 season, only Olivier Giroud (32) has more headed goals in the competition than the Belgian – with both of the Welshman's goals teed up by the brilliant Kane.

Bale has scored in each of his last three home appearances in all competitions, the first time he has done so since September 2018 for Real Madrid (four in a row), and first time for Spurs since May 2013.

Kane then curled in a sensational third goal, before he headed home a fourth from Son Heung-min's cushioned cutback.

Son and Kane have now assisted one another for 14 Premier League goals this season, breaking Alan Shearer and Chris Sutton's all-time competition record of 13 set in 1994-95 for Blackburn.

Kane's second goal was also Spurs' 100th strike in all competitions this season, seeing them become the second club in Europe's "top five" leagues to reach that tally in 2020-21, after Bayern Munich (106).

Spurs talisman Kane is the first Tottenham player since Jurgen Klinsmann in May 1998 to score twice and provide two assists in a Premier League match, while he has been directly involved in 40 goals in 36 games in all competitions this season (24 goals and 16 assists), the most of any player for a top-flight club.

West Brom 0-0 Newcastle United: Bore draw does little for survival hopes

There was not so much in the way of entertainment in the day's early kick-off, as strugglers West Brom and Newcastle shared the spoils.

West Brom are unbeaten in three home league games against Newcastle (W1 D2) for the first time since January 2005, while only Southampton (seven) have gained fewer Premier League points in 2021 than the Baggies (10) and Newcastle (nine).

Newcastle have won just one of their last nine Premier League away games (D1 L7), failing to score in six of those matches.

West Brom had 13 shots at goal in the match, their joint-most attempts without scoring in a Premier League game this season (also 13 v Burnley in October).

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Manchester City saw their 21-match winning streak come to an end as Manchester United secured a 2-0 derby victory over the runaway Premier League leaders on Sunday. 

Bruno Fernandes converted a penalty after 101 seconds following a clumsy foul by Gabriel Jesus, while Luke Shaw was the unlikely scorer as the visitors doubled their lead in the 50th minute.

The result means Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has once again come out on top against Pep Guardiola, in the process becoming the first United boss to win each of his first three away trips in all competitions at the Etihad Stadium. 

City may still hold an 11-point cushion at the summit but missing out on setting a new club record of 29 games unbeaten will sting, particularly considering the opposition. This is their first setback since a 2-0 reverse at Tottenham on November 21, 2020. 

United had not scored in their three previous outings leading into the contest, yet were gifted the chance to end that barren run when Jesus – retained in the Guardiola's starting XI following a brace in the 4-1 win over Wolves – carelessly clipped Anthony Martial. 

The Brazilian was nearly bailed out by compatriot Ederson, yet the goalkeeper was only able to palm Fernandes' low effort from the spot into the net. 

Initially flustered at falling behind for the first time in 20 league games, City eventually recovered from the early setback to assume control of proceedings. 

Oleksandr Zinchenko tested Dean Henderson – again playing with David de Gea away on paternity leave – while Rodri struck the angle joining crossbar and post with a rising drive early in the second half. 

However, it was United who grabbed the pivotal second goal in the game. Shaw carried the ball from deep and then continued his forward run after giving possession to Marcus Rashford, allowing the left-back to take the return pass and drag a low shot through Rodri's legs and into the far corner. 

City huffed and puffed but were unable to find a way to blow the United defence down, not aided by managing to put just five of their 21 attempts on target. While seemingly destined to finish the campaign on top of the table, they were second best to their rivals here.
 

 

Bruno Fernandes is convinced the signing of Alex Telles is the key component behind Luke Shaw's dramatic improvement at Manchester United after the left-back won the club's Player of the Month award.

It was not so long ago that Shaw's United career appeared to be petering out to an underwhelming conclusion, particularly during Jose Mourinho's ill-fated reign.

In two-and-a-half years playing for the Portuguese coach, Shaw only made 33 Premier League appearances. While he did have injury and fitness problems, the manager's attitude seemingly did little to endear himself to the player.

Mourinho criticised Shaw publicly on several occasions, yet the left-back kept his head down and – to the surprise of very few – ultimately outlasted the 'Special One', kicking on brilliantly under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.

His five assists this season is already a personal high for a Premier League season, having only managed seven in total in previous campaigns, but that's just the tip of the iceberg – Shaw's chance creation frequency of 2.44 per game is almost double his previous best of 1.3 in 2016-17, and that was from just 11 appearances.

The only defender to lay on goalscoring chances at a better rate than Shaw is Ryan Fredericks (2.45), though his marginally improved record comes from 13 fewer games than Shaw's 23.

Liverpool's Andrew Robertson has previously been held up as something of a standard-bearer for full-backs in the Premier League, yet Shaw's 31 key passes from open play is just one less than his 32 from four fewer outings. Joao Cancelo leads the way (36), though he does count set-piece deliveries as among his strong points – the United man does.

Statistically, this season is an outlier for Shaw in almost every regard and highlights just how much of a step forward he has taken, but Fernandes is convinced there has been one major catalyst for this resurgence.

Speaking to the United website ahead of Sunday's derby clash with Manchester City, Fernandes said: "[Shaw]'s been playing really, really well in the last few months. I think he started a little bit slow like everyone did because at the beginning of the season we didn't start good.

"I think the competition between Alex and Luke has given both of them the chances to be better and to improve. This is really important because you know if you are not performing well you will be out of the team.

"I think Luke started to perform well when he had that pressure from Alex. At the same time, Alex when he plays has played really well because he knows that Luke is on the bench.

"So, the pressure between them is good but the relationship between them is better, I have seen that in the stands. Alex is always pushing to help everyone and I remember when I came off against Real Sociedad it was Luke in the stands and I saw a lot of times Luke pushing to help Alex.

"This is what we're about. You can be fighting for the same place, but you are fighting for the same achievements, you know.

"This has to be like that in every position in the team, we have to understand that whoever is playing it's because the manager thinks he's better for the team in that moment and the most important thing is the team.

"I think everyone is happy for Luke to win this Player of the Month award and I'm happy too because he deserves it, and I hope he can continue this form until the end of the season because he knows Alex is there to take his position."

Sunday's trip to City will see Fernandes go up against some familiar faces in Ruben Dias, Bernardo Silva and Cancelo, all of whom are colleagues of his at international level with Portugal.

All three have enjoyed fine campaigns individually and, as a collective, have helped City embark on a club-record winning streak of 21 games across all competitions.

Avoiding defeat again on Sunday will mean City are unbeaten in 29 matches, another new club record, and Fernandes made no secret of wishing his compatriots were not doing so well as a team.

"I speak with them regularly, we have a good relationship, but the relationships stay out of the game. They know me and they know that on the pitch we are not friends anymore," he said with a grin.

"At the same time I enjoy seeing them play and every one of them is doing well individually and I'm happy for them. As a team I was hoping to see them do a little bit worse than they are doing, but individually I am happy for them because they are good people and they deserve to be in the positions they are and playing in the way they are playing."

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is not concerned by Bruno Fernandes' waning impact in Manchester United's attack, believing his team-mates can profit from the midfielder's mere presence.

Fernandes has not provided a goal or an assist in his past three appearances in all competitions, each of which have seen United held to goalless draws.

Prior to his mini barren run, the Portugal international had averaged 3.8 shots and 2.9 chances created per 90 minutes, enjoying 83.4 touches, including 3.6 in the opposition box.

Over the three games since scoring and assisting against Newcastle United, he has averaged two shots and 2.8 chances per 90, touching the ball in the area at the same rate but seeing his overall involvement drop to 72.4 touches.

It is only a slight drop-off from Fernandes' lofty standards, but combined with United's underwhelming run – they have not had a single 'big chance' since their two against Newcastle – it has prompted discussion.

Solskjaer is not worried, however, calling on his other United stars to step up, starting against rivals Manchester City on Sunday.

"We expect everyone to be a leader, everyone to take that responsibility," Solskjaer said.

"Of course it might be Bruno, but I know that teams are trying to man-mark him at times and that's not a dig at anyone.

"That's just that sometimes in football they try to stop your best player. And someone else will have to step forward.

"Bruno might find a position, make space for others, create. He has created chances for others even when he has not touched the ball. And you see others have created chances for Bruno when they've not touched the ball.

"It's about the movement and creating space for your team-mate and taking that responsibility.

"We have had big moments in big games recently. Chances that we would normally put away and then everyone is rosy, everyone says we are the best thing since sliced bread.

"The away game against Chelsea wasn't far away from being almost a perfect away game. We should have had a penalty, we should have got the last counter-attack, one last pass away from winning the game.

"It is about taking the big moments and having some luck in the big moments."

Since Fernandes made his United debut in February 2020, he has been involved in 54 goals in all competitions, ranking third across Europe's 'top five' leagues behind only Robert Lewandowski (74) and Lionel Messi (60).

Only that superstar duo and former United sensation Cristiano Ronaldo have attempted more shots than Fernandes' 202.

Meanwhile, he tops the charts for chances created (158) over that span, just ahead of City's Kevin De Bruyne (156).

Manchester United midfielder Bruno Fernandes has defended his record against 'top six' clubs ahead of the derby against Manchester City on Sunday.

Fernandes has been a revelation at Old Trafford since his big-money move from Sporting CP in January 2020.

The 26-year-old has scored 15 goals and provided 10 assists in 27 Premier League games this season, but Tottenham are the only club among the established 'top six' he has found the back of the net against - a penalty in October's 6-1 defeat.

United will need Fernandes to fire when they face runaway leaders City at the Etihad Stadium on Sunday.

The Portugal international says it is unfair to suggest he has failed to rise to the occasion against stronger opponents.

He told Sky Sports: "I don't know what people mean by 'top six', because the teams are in top six in the table. I score and assist against some of them.

"I score this season against Tottenham. But some people say penalties don't count!

"I know people expect Bruno to score or assist in every game because when I arrived, I was playing really well. If you see my stats, everyone is thinking that Bruno has to score in every game, Bruno has to assist in every game.

"And I want to do that - it's the most important thing. But as a player, I don't look for the big six or the rest of the league. I look for every game in the same way.

"And I think the league is not a sprint, it's a marathon. So you don't have to score or win against the big six - you have to score and win against everyone.

"I see people talking about Bruno not doing so well against the 'big six'. People have said Bruno gives the ball away too many times when we lose a game.

"Also, in the game against Basaksehir, I scored two goals and I lost more balls than their team, but people said I was the best player in the game. So, what is the point?"

United take on a seemingly unstoppable City side having been held to three consecutive goalless draws in all competitions and Fernandes is aware he has not been at his best of late.

"I agree the last two games, I didn't play very well. And I don't need to see the stats to see if I play well or not. I know when I play well or not." he said.

"I saw an interview from Luke (Shaw) saying, 'people now care more about stats than the performance'. And this is the truth. Because now they're expecting from me just goals and assists, and not performances.

"They don't care about the performance of Bruno, they don't care about ball recovery or how many chances I create, because I can create 10 chances but if I don't score, people will say Bruno didn't play very well.

"But this is football. Football is in the moment. Some people have said I'm playing bad, and that I have to do better. And I agree, because we always can do better. But for me, it's okay. I can have that pressure on my back.

"I'm sure in some moments, I will score, I will assist, and I will perform. And that will help my team-mates to win the game."

Bruno Fernandes epitomises the quality Manchester United need to become "the most unstoppable team in the Premier League", according to Nani.

Fernandes has proven to be a stellar signing for United, the Portugal midfielder wowing with his performances since joining from Sporting CP just over a year ago.

He has 40 goal involvements – 23 goals and 17 assists – in 41 Premier League appearances ahead of Sunday's derby showdown with Manchester City at the Etihad Stadium.

And Nani is delighted to see his compatriot shining at Old Trafford, with the ex-United and Sporting winger insisting Fernandes can help Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's side overhaul City – if his team-mates can rise to his level.

"I'm so happy to see what he's been doing at Man United, because we had some conversations when we played together at Sporting and in one of the conversations it was to advise him to go to Man United instead of going to another Premier League team, and I'm so happy because we can see he has been performing fantastic," Nani told Stats Perform News.

"He has been a part of every goal of the team. He has been pushing the team to go get the results. When Bruno Fernandes doesn't appear, you have [Marcus] Rashford, you have other players, they have quality, but you don't see a player with the same attitude as him, with the same desire to go and make the same quality of passes.

"And if you don't have Bruno, it's very difficult to have another one. So in Man City, if Bernardo [Silva] is not there you have [Joao] Cancelo, if you don't have Canelo you have [Ilkay] Gundogan, you have many players who have more confidence and can make the same impact in the game.

"So at Man United you have players with so much power, maybe better than City I believe, much better than City, but they appear sometimes, and we want them to appear in these games.

"When they appear every time in these games, we will be the most unstoppable team in the Premier League. I'm so confident in that."

United will need to shrug off their recent malaise, which has seen them endure three goalless draws, with even Fernandes showing signs of fatigue in Wednesday's stalemate at Crystal Palace.

It was the 24th league match in which the 26-year-old completed 90 minutes for United but the first time he failed to attempt a shot at goal.

Fernandes' 15 top-flight goals this term have come at a rate of one every 153 minutes, with his total exceeding his xG (expected goals) of 11.89.

He compares favourably with City's man-of-the-moment Gundogan when it comes to creativity, with 10 assists to the German's one. Furthermore, Fernandes has an average of three chances created per 90 minutes, while Gundogan has 1.6.

It is nonetheless a huge task that faces United this weekend, with City unbeaten in 28 games in all competition – one shy of a club record.

Bruno Fernandes being hailed as the signing who turned around Manchester United's fortunes would have been difficult for Paul Pogba to take, according to Nani.

Fernandes has received rave reviews for his incredible performances since arriving at Old Trafford from Sporting CP just over a year ago.

The attacking midfielder has recorded 40 goal involvements – 23 goals and 17 assists – in 41 Premier League appearances, leading him to be touted as the player who can lead United back to the top.

Former United winger Nani, a four-time Premier League winner, thinks every United squad member would have had to take stock after Fernandes' stunning impact.

And adapting would have been particularly tough for Pogba, who was previously established as the star man.

Nani feels Pogba and the rest of the United players have adjusted well over the past year to increasingly incorporate Fernandes' individual brilliance into better team performances and results.

But he believes the connection between World Cup winner Pogba and Portugal international Fernandes must get stronger still.

Nani told Stats Perform News: "There are different [types of] players on the field - you have Bruno Fernandes, a smarter attacking player, and Pogba who can do a little bit of both [attacking and defending].

"Pogba can handle the game a bit for Bruno to go a little bit up [the pitch]. They have to try to have the connection. 

"It is not easy, when you [Pogba] are the player for the club, the midfield star, and another player arrives to the team and starts performing so well.

"And then [it is not easy] that everyone starts talking just about the player and, 'He made the team change, he made everything'. 

"All of that could have a little bit of an impact in every head on the team. 

"But what I see in the last games, the players adjust to that. They have confirmed [in ther minds] a little bit what Bruno can give to the team.

"And Bruno is part of the team so now they look like more of a strong team. 

"So I'm very confident about the next games until the end of the season. I think there will be a surprise to the end of the season because they are still in the Europa League. Let's see."

Pogba has just over one year left on his current contract and agent Mino Raiola said in December his client wanted to leave United.

While Raiola later backtracked somewhat during the January transfer window, he insisted he would still push for a transfer at the end of the season, though the club have talked about a new deal.

Nani was asked whether Pogba's continued presence in the headlines meant he had become a distraction for United.

"At this moment, I see him as one of the important players at Man United," Nani said about Pogba.

"But I don't know what he has on his mind, if he wants to leave or if all this news is making some problems in his head.

"I don't know if he has full concentration on the team, on the games, on the goals of the team. 

"I saw him when he was struggling with some injuries and then he came back and started playing, he was improving his performance. He was doing well. 

"He was helping the team, but we know Pogba can do much better, he can do much more because he is a top player in this position. He's not using all his strength, all his qualities. 

"But if he wants to stay at the club, for sure he will perform much better very soon. He needs to continue to improve his game, his confidence and try to help the team in the way he can."

Pogba has been out of action for a month since suffering a thigh injury in the dramatic 3-3 draw with Everton.

While United are unbeaten in seven games without him, four of those contests have been draws, including Wednesday's goalless encounter at Crystal Palace.

That was their sixth goalless Premier League draw of the season, their joint-most ever in a season, along with 2004-05 and 2016-17.

It is also the first time United have drawn three consecutive matches 0-0 in all competitions since October 2015, when they were playing under Louis van Gaal.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is weighing up whether to block Manchester United star Bruno Fernandes from travelling with Portugal during the international break due to COVID-19 quarantine.

Portugal are scheduled to play three World Cup qualifiers this month – at home to Azerbaijan (March 24), away to Serbia (March 27) and on the road against Luxembourg (March 30).

Linking up with Portugal would mean Fernandes would be subject to a 10-day quarantine in a government-approved hotel upon his return to the United Kingdom amid the coronavirus pandemic.

It would also leave Solskjaer without the services of Fernandes against Brighton and Hove Albion (April 3) and Tottenham (April 10).

Asked about the situation following Wednesday's goalless draw away to Crystal Palace, United manager Solskjaer told reporters: "We have not sat down and made a proper call on that one but it doesn't make sense if you lose your player for 10 days' isolation.

"We are the ones paying the players, from what I understand, that [being allowed to ban players travelling] is the rule. 

"FIFA have given the rule that they don't have to be released, so it is going to be a hard call to make to let them play in red-list countries.

"I want Bruno ready for Brighton and hopefully we will be through in Europe and against Tottenham after that break, of course I do."

United were held to their third successive scoreless draw across all competitions after firing another blank against Palace midweek.

Solskjaer's faltering United produced another toothless display at Selhurst Park, where the Red Devils slipped 14 points adrift of runaway leaders Manchester City ahead of Sunday's derby.

United registered their sixth goalless Premier League draw of the season – the club's joint-most ever in a campaign, along with 2004-05 and 2016-17.

The Premier League giants have also drawn three consecutive matches 0-0 in all competitions for the first time since October 2015 under Louis van Gaal.

"Of course we're not happy when you don't create chances enough to win a game," Solskjaer said. "Of course, it's been a week with no goals, and sometimes three games sounds a lot without scoring.

"It was not considered either but a week in a season like this sometimes is... yeah, you just don't hit the form that you normally had, that you have had for many, many months, so it's a bit of a worry. Of course it is.

"But, I know that the boys are given everything. And that's the thing with we play every three days, and I know they given everything they've got so attitude and approach I'm very happy with the quality. We need to get back to what we know we can do."

Manchester United left-back Luke Shaw teased Bruno Fernandes as he hailed the Red Devils star's "unbelievable" impact at Old Trafford.

Fernandes has taken United and the Premier League by storm since arriving from Portuguese giants Sporting CP in January last year.

The Portugal international has scored 15 goals and tallied 10 assists for second-placed United this season ahead of Wednesday's Premier League trip to Crystal Palace.

Fernandes has 40 goal involvements in his 40 Premier League appearances so far (23 goals and 17 assists). However, three of the last four matches in which the Portuguese has failed to register a goal or assist have been in London (against Chelsea, Arsenal and Fulham).

Shaw poked fun at team-mate Fernandes – who has netted 34 times in 61 matches across all competitions – telling Adidas: "We do talk a bit, but honestly the guy's numbers are unbelievable, what he's doing and how he's doing it.

"I said to him 'Bruno, I'll be honest, you weren't great [against Real Sociedad in the Europa League last-32 first leg] but you scored two goals. I just don't know how you do it!"

Shaw added: "I think people in football understand the game and how important that player is, who doesn't get many assists or goals, but a lot of the outside world is all about stats.

"It's understandable because they watch it and they want to see those things, but you've just got to deal with it."

United face Palace in London midweek, 15 points adrift of runaway leaders and neighbours Manchester City.

Only four clubs in English top-flight history have had a longer unbeaten away run than United's current 20-match streak (W13 D7).

United have not lost any of their last seven league games in London (W4 D3), last having a longer run without defeat in the capital between December 2011-December 2013 (13 games).

The Red Devils have never lost in 11 Premier League away games against Palace – the most one side has played at another without ever losing in the competition (W8 D3).

Chelsea manager Thomas Tuchel revealed Paris Saint-Germain tried to sign Bruno Fernandes before he joined Manchester United with devastating impact last year.

Speaking ahead of Chelsea's Premier League clash with rivals United on Sunday, Tuchel explained that during his time as PSG head coach from 2018 to late 2020, the Ligue 1 champions tried to lure Fernandes to Paris.

The Portugal international was captain of Sporting CP at the time, but eventually signed for United in January 2020 and has since scored 34 goals in 60 appearances across all competitions.

"With my first sporting director in Paris, Antero Henrique, a Portuguese sporting director, and he knew [Fernandes] very well," Tuchel told reporters.

"We fought hard to have a connection to him and to bring him to our team. I got made aware of him more in detail, so we watched more and more games about him and followed him and tried to be in touch with him to make it happen.

"Obviously, he decided [to sign for Manchester United] and I was never personally in touch with him, but we tried and he went another way. [It is] bad for us that we have to play against him."

Fernandes looms as a key factor in Sunday's clash against fifth-placed Chelsea, with both sides fighting to make the top four and secure Champions League berths.

The 26-year-old currently sits second for assists in the 2020-21 Premier League campaign with 10, only one behind Manchester City star Kevin De Bruyne and Tottenham's Harry Kane.

Fernandes provided his 10th Premier League assist of the season against Newcastle United last time out, becoming only the fourth different United player to reach double figures for both goals (15) and assists in a single Premier League campaign, after Eric Cantona (three times), Dwight Yorke (1998-99) and Wayne Rooney (five times).

Tuchel has been extremely impressed by Fernandes' impact since joining United, leading the club to a top-four spot last season before helping them move up to second this campaign.

"The impact he has had since he arrived at Manchester United is indescribable and unbelievable," Tuchel said.

"To come from Portugal, from a competitive team, a big club but not from the strongest league and stepping in a year to one of the biggest clubs in the Premier League and the strongest league in Europe and to have this kind of impact, I have nothing but the biggest respect for this guy.

"It is outstanding. He is one of the best midfielders in the world, attacking midfielders, and he has a huge, huge impact and to have this as a single person in football, you must be absolutely top level because this is almost impossible.

"But he has such a big influence on their game, on their attacking game and that it is a big key to defend against him, to be around him and close to him and he is a key player of Man Utd in a way that is outstanding."

United are second in the Premier League, 13 points behind runaway leaders City but six clear of Chelsea.

Paul Scholes was full of praise for Bruno Fernandes after the Portuguese playmaker once again underlined his importance to Manchester United.

A potentially tricky Europa League first leg against Real Sociedad turned into a rout thanks in no small part to Fernandes, who scored twice in Turin to help United run out convincing 4-0 winners over LaLiga opponents.

The result puts Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's side on course to reach the last 16 of the competition ahead of the return fixture at Old Trafford, which takes place next Thursday.

As for Fernandes, he has now scored 33 times in all competitions since making his debut for the Red Devils on February 1, 2020. Only four players within the top five European leagues can better that tally: Robert Lewandowski (53), Cristiano Ronaldo (40), Romelu Lukaku (38) and Erling Haaland (36).

Club legend Scholes is certainly a fan of Fernandes, applauding a "terrific signing" for the way he always seems to make an impact every time he plays.

"He's been sensational since the very day he signed really," Scholes said on BT Sport.

"He makes the team play football and, you have to say, every time you watch him play, every single game he plays, he affects it, which someone in that position should be doing. 

"With the quality that he's got, you feel like he's going to score goals, he's going to make goals. 

"He's been a truly, truly terrific signing."

Fernandes has nine goals in all European competitions for United; only Inter striker Lukaku (11) has netted more across both the Europa League and Champions League since last February.

The 26-year-old's brace against Real Sociedad helped lead to the biggest away victory by an English side against a Spanish opponent in the UEFA Cup/Europa League, surpassing Newcastle United's 3-0 win at Real Mallorca back in March 2004.

Marcus Rashford was also on target to take his tally in Europe to seven for the season before Dan James added a late fourth for United, who tallied 13 total shots despite having just 40.6 per cent of possession.

Bruno Fernandes urged Manchester United to keep maturing and increase their chances of winning trophies after inspiring their emphatic Europa League win over Real Sociedad.

The Portugal star scored twice before Marcus Rashford and Daniel James also got on the scoresheet in a 4-0 victory at the Allianz Stadium in Turin.

Fernandes has now been directly involved in 52 goals in all competitions since his United debut last February, 10 more than any other Premier League player in that time.

His latest decisive display ensured the Red Devils ended a nine-game winless run against Spanish opposition and put themselves in a strong position to reach the last 16.

And it is progress in as many competitions as possible that matters most to Fernandes as he bids to win his first silverware since leaving Sporting CP, having suffered three semi-final defeats in 2019-20.

"It's about winning. We want to win games and today I think we did everything well," he told BT Sport.

"The result is on our side, but we have the second leg. We still have a tough game at home. We know 4-0 is a good result, but we have to be aware of what Real Sociedad can do.

"I think we don't have to look at results, we have to look at performances. We know we don't perform well in some games, but still, in some games, we don't get the result we want and we perform well.

"We need to understand we have to grow up, we are getting better and better, and of course the most important thing is the results, to give you a little more confidence.

"My target is scoring the most goals I can and trying to assist my team-mates. I think the position I play is to do that, to assist and score when you can.

"Most important for me, my target is trophies. Winning trophies is more important than scoring goals."

United host Sociedad at Old Trafford next Thursday, after Newcastle United visit in the league this Sunday.

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