Man Utd’s worst home start since 1930 as Declan Rice underlines Arsenal importance – Carabao Cup hits and misses | Football News

Man Utd home form leaves Ten Hag with nowhere to turn

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Highlights from the Carabao Cup fourth-round match between Manchester United and Newcastle

Old Trafford is no longer the place it used to be. In more ways than one.

The leaky roof made a timely appearance as Gary Neville criticised the running of the club in his post-match analysis of Sunday’s derby defeat to City. “We need Daniel Radcliffe, not Jim Ratcliffe,” he mused.

After five defeats in their last eight home games, it does feel like Erik ten Hag needs to conjure up some magic to turn things around at Man Utd. Their home form hasn’t been this bad after 10 games since 1930.

It’s also the first time United have lost successive home games by three goals or more since October 1962.

Last season’s success was built on home form. Just two defeats, both in the early stages of Ten Hag’s tenure, ensured the fear factor returned to Old Trafford. That’s a distant memory now though.

Even in the five games they have won, there was an element of fortune in all but one. That was against a Crystal Palace side that had made wholesale changes in the Carabao Cup third round.

Fans come to the stadium expecting disappointment now. With more than 20 minutes to go of Wednesday’s 3-0 defeat to Newcastle, Neville could sense the mood of the supporters.

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Paul Merson claims that Erik ten Hag is under serious pressure at Manchester United and adds that it appears he’s lost the confidence of his players

“You can just start to hear the conversations in the crowd: ‘Shall we nip off? Shall we beat the traffic?’,” the former United captain said on co-commentary.

When things got tough last season, Ten Hag and his players could always fall back on their home form. Now there is nowhere to turn. A season that promised so much is turning into a nightmare.
Zinny Boswell

Rice return shows his importance to Arsenal – and how West Ham are moving on

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Highlights of the Carabao Cup fourth-round match between West Ham and Arsenal

Declan Rice was centre of attention at the London Stadium despite starting the game on the bench. His absence only showed his already-established importance to Arsenal since his summer arrival, while West Ham went some way to demonstrating how they are moving on without their talisman and captain.

The Gunners looked short on drive in the middle of the park with Jorginho ineffective, Fabio Vieira was on the fringes until his injury-time assist and Kai Havertz – clearly lacking confidence – couldn’t get into the game.

But that was in part due to the feistiness of the West Ham players, who were determinedly hounding down Arsenal in possession and physical in tackles as they looked to nick the ball away. Edson Alvarez was relentless, Lucas Paqueta made more tackles than anyone on the pitch, while Rice’s old partner Tomas Soucek was dominant in the air.

This was a game which showed why Arsenal need Rice – but also how West Ham are moving positively into a new era without him.
Peter Smith

Nunez’s magic shines through again

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Highlights from the Carabao Cup fourth-round match between Bournemouth and Liverpool

On Wednesday night, those who could still see through the torrential downpours witnessed the good side of Darwin Nunez.

Only on the pitch for 28 minutes, he scored a stunning winner for Liverpool at Bournemouth, and provided the build-up to what could have been the third with some lovely footwork on the half-way line.

Over the last seven days, we’ve seen the good, the bad and the ugly from the Uruguayan – most notably his scintillating 25-yard run to present an open goal against Toulouse last Thursday, before missing the target altogether.

But he still ended up on the scoresheet in that game, as well as Sunday’s routine win over Nottingham Forest.

On the south coast, he showed only the good side and, yet again, what an asset he can be for Jurgen Klopp this season.

Not only is he a handful, both to the opposition and at times himself, but this is the third game of this campaign already where he has made a vital contribution on the scoresheet – after netting both against Newcastle in August, and the second to put Liverpool back ahead against West Ham in September.

You look at the options the Reds had in reserve in attack even when they won the league in 2020, when Divock Origi was their highest-scoring forward behind the Salah-Firmino-Mane triumvirate.

Nunez is on a different planet. And he might not be a reserve too much longer should he keep on with these kinds of showings.
Ron Walker

James fitness will be key for Chelsea

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Highlights of the Carabao Cup fourth-round match between Chelsea and Blackburn Rovers

It showed the importance of Reece James that the moment Chelsea doubled their lead on the night against Blackburn, Mauricio Pochettino immediately removed him from the pitch.

The right-back had a very productive hour on his first start in nearly three months, looking lively down the flank and at times their main goal threat from open play, while also as solid as ever in defence.

There are so many ways he will be pivotal to this Chelsea side, and it is essential they do all they can to keep him fit for the rest of the season.

“The plan was to check how he felt at half-time,” said Pochettino. “15 minutes after that he started to feel tired.

“The temptation is to send him out for 90 minutes. But we need to be careful how we manage him. The plan is to go little by little with him.

“When they’re your captain you need them to stay fit. He is an amazing player, one of the best footballers in the world.”
Simeon Gholam

Resurgent Everton expose Burnley’s flaws

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Highlights of the Carabao Cup fourth-round match between Everton and Burnley

After years of struggle, the smiles may slowly be returning to the faces of Everton supporters.

Five wins across seven games in all competitions have lifted the Toffees five points clear of the drop zone in the Premier League and into the last eight of the Carabao Cup.

The only sad note from Wednesday night’s routine 3-0 victory over Burnley was that former chairman Bill Kenwright was not there to see it following his death at the age of 78 last week.

Kenwright was remembered pre-match and his players paid a fitting tribute by easing into the next round – and showing that this could perhaps be more than a season of scratching around. Fulham at home next in the Cup seems a very decent draw.

The defence has stiffened up, not that it was overly tested by a meek Burnley, mind you, with former Clarets centre-half James Tarkowski doing more work in and around the opposition box than his own, powerfully heading in the opening goal and then assisting the second for Amadou Onana with a cushioned header.

Dwight McNeil and Jack Harrison were threats on the wing, while Dominic Calvert-Lewin highlighted once again how valuable he is when fit, with his physicality often too hot for Burnley to handle as the visitors looked vulnerable playing out from the back. Beto, who replaced Calvert-Lewin late on, was a livewire, too, setting up Ashley Young’s strike in stoppage time.

Everton are on the up, with Burnley very much heading in the opposite direction. The side that were a cut above in the Championship last year could very well end up back there next year if they keep dicing with danger at the back and cannot find a cutting edge up top.
David Ruse

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