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Dublin: 13 °C Monday 10 August, 2020


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Welcome along to The42’s live coverage of the latest episode of the unspooling farce titled The Race For Fourth Place, which has approached such levels of maddening underachievement that third place is open, too. 

Manchester United still have a glimmer of hope of Champions League football next season, but lie three points behind fourth-placed Chelsea with two games to go. They need to win their final two games, beginning with this afternoon’s trip to Huddersfield Town, who have spent virtually the whole season as ‘already-relegated.’

Chelsea are kicking off against Watford at the same time as things are getting underway at the John Smith’s Stadium, so we’ll keep you up to date with everything that happens in that game, too.

 Get in touch with us by commenting below the line, emailing or tweeting @gcooney93.

 Kick off is at 2pm, and we’ll have team news for you shortly…

Team news 

Three changes for the Terriers from last week’s 5-0 thrashing at Anfield. Aaron Mooy, Chris Lowe and Alex Pritchard come in; Tommy Smith, Steve Mounie and Jon Gorenc Stanković are out.  

United meanwhile, have rung the changes as per. There is a start for a…[checks notes furiously]… Alexis Sanchez. Scott McTominay and Phil Jones are in too, with Ander Herrera dropping to the bench and Romelu Lukaku dropping out of the squad entirely. 

The Ghost of David De Gea continues in goal. 

This will be the last Premier League game at the John Smith’s Stadium for a while, otherwise known as the only top flight ground dedicated to the generic names you find seeking the details of the Sale of Goods and Supply of Services Act on a Junior Cert Business Paper. 

United starred in arguably its best moment across the last two seasons, a 2-1 giantkilling for David Wagner’s side back in October 2017. 

That was a first Huddersfield win over United for 65 years, and inflicted on Jose Mourinho’s team a first league defeat of the season. They fell five points behind Man City as a result, and never recovered. 

Surely they won’t lose here again today? 

A reminder that Chelsea/Watford is kicking off at the same time as this game. Eden Hazard is playing for Chelsea, along with the famously lacklustre Gonzalo Higuain. 

Watford are more or less at full strength despite the fact the FA Cup final is hovering into view: Troy Deeney and Gerard Delofeu are up front for them. 

With Sanchez starting for United, Solskjaer is listing the injuries they are currently dealing with in that department: Jesse Lingard, Anthony Martial, Romelu Lukaku and Mason Greenwood. 

That Greenwood gets a mention might indicate how low down the pecking order Alexis finds himself. 

“An absolute mystery” says Gary Neville on Sky of what has happened to the Alexis at United. 

Huddersfield Town v Manchester United - Premier League - John Smith's Stadium Source: Anthony Devlin

Jan Siewert arrives. Is he already one of the most forgotten full-time Premier League managers? He may be up there with the likes of Alain Perrin, Les Reed and Ricky Spragia. 

The teams are in the tunnel here, we’re nearly ready to go. A reminder of the state of play…


This is a significant day for one of these sides, as after a wretched season the chairman is stepping down and the club is being sold.

That’s Dean Hoyle and Huddersfield, rather than United.


Early update: Pogba and Sanchez are wearing gloves. It’s really not that cold in Yorkshire. 


‘One Dean Hoyle’ sing the home supporters to their departing chairman. 

‘One Ed Woodward’ doesn’t come from the away end, oddly. 


Alexis is chopped down, and United win a free-kick in a central area, 30 yards from goal. Four United players standing around it…


…Rashford takes it, and hits it tamely into Lossl’s arms. 

Flag 18Mins

GOAL! Huddersfield 0-1 Manchester United (McTominay)

An early lead for United: through Scott McTominay but indebted to a feeble error by Jonas Lossl. McTominay’s left-footed shot from the edge of the box was pretty tame, but the Huddersfield keeper somehow managed to allow the ball pass through his legs.

A co-Lossl error….sorry. 


Close to a second for United! Alexis robs Durm of the ball on the touchline, and his cross for Rashford is dealt with by Kongolo for a corner. Said corner found Lindelof but his header was blocked. Another corner incoming. 


An even better chance for Lindelof! Young’s corner is floated deep to the far edge of the box for the centre-half, who found himself in a laughable amount of space. His chest control was too heavy however, and McTominay was adjudged to have tugged back Kongolo as he pounced on the rebound. 

Plenty of goals here for United, Huddersfield are a shambles. 


Bacuna fouls Rashford on the edge of the box. It’s slightly to the right-hand side, it may suit Mata’s left foot…


…the free-kick leaves Mata’s left foot, travels a few yards and thuds off a head in the Huddersfield wall. 


Another corner for United now, but it’s into the arms of Lossl. United have started well. 


At Stamford Bridge, it is still goalless between Chelsea and Watford. The hosts have lost N’Golo Kanté to injury, mind. 


United have won yet another corner, which Young curled out of play on its way into the penalty area. They are utterly dominant thus far, without really having to do a whole lot. 


A sighting of Alexis Sanchez. He plays a nice-one two with Pogba in midfield with the back of his heel, which leads to Pogba losing the ball. Alexis responds buy steaming into a tackle to win it back. His work ethic has been good so far, at least. 


Decent chance for Huddersfield. Mata loses the ball in midfield and Bacuna advances toward goal. Instead of slipping in Grant, however, he takes too many touches and curls the ball feebly wide of De Gea’s left-hand post. 

Grant was furious that he wasn’t picked out and he has a point: he had a lot of space. 


Gorgeous piece of play from United, as the ball is threaded through the feet of Alexis, Pogba and Rashford before Mata curls the ball wide. Alexis and Pogba are linking up reasonably well thus far. 


On that theme, Alexis makes a great run toward the right channel behind the Huddersfield defence. He is picked out, and floats a cross to the back post for Pogba, but the cross is slightly misjudged and the midfielder has to throw an acrobatic kick at the ball. It comes to nothing. 


United are strolling through this game, Huddersfield can’t get near them. Pogba and Rashford just played consecutive backheels in the box, but it came to nothing. Second goal an inevitability, you would feel. 


United forced into some defending! Pritchard picks out Grant in the box, and his cross is well dealt with by Lindelof. Pogba then conceded a free-kick for a high boot, which Bacuna whips wide…via a deflection. Huddersfield have their first corner. 


Rashford heads the corner clear. Much better from Huddersfield, though. 


Update: Alexis and Pogba have ditched their gloves. 


Phil Jones is booked for a hefty challenge on Hogg on the right-wing. 


McTominay clears Mooy’s free-kick. 


Something we’ve only just noticed: Paul Pogba arrives at the ground with two sets of headphones. 

Huddersfield Town v Manchester United - Premier League - John Smith's Stadium Source: Anthony Devlin


Huddersfield have been the better team for the last few minutes, as Lindelof is forced into cutting out a threatening Pritchard through-ball. He then hustles back to tackle Paul Pogba, to loud cheers. 


Big chance for United at the other end, but Mata’s pass for Rashford is slightly too far ahead of him. It would have set up a one-on-one, had the pass been played closer to the striker. 


Lindelof makes another important interception for United. Pritchard zips by Phil Jones and fires the ball across the box for Mbenza, only for Lindelof to intervene. 


Big save De Gea! Grant scorches the United defence with his pace, but his shot is blocked by the goalkeeper’s feet. “Classic De Gea” sings Gary Neville. 


Off the bar! Shaw whips a cross in for Pogba, who leans back and nods a superb, acrobatic header off the crossbar. Impressive skill from Pogba, and he’s unfortunate not to double United’s lead. 


More fine defending by Lindelof, as he heads away a Pritchard cross from his own six-yard area. United are being ripepd to shreds on their left-wing, with Phil Jones continually rushing out there to try and help Shaw. He’s being beaten too easily, however, and Lindelof has consequently been left alone in the box too often. 

He’s done well thus far, however. 


Jones does well this time to match Grant stride-for-stride as he threatened a counter attackl  from a Mooy pass. The resulting throw in ends with McTominay hoofing the ball for a corner. One last moment of concentration for United… 


The half ends with Rashford turning a cross behind for a corner for which there is no time to take. United are the better team , but having strolled through the game’s first quarter, Huddersfield have improved and are not without a threat. 

The visitors look more likely to score, however, and a second goal should kill this game. 

Elsewhere, Chelsea and Watford are goalless at half-time and the Blues have been booed off. A good day for Solskjaer thus far.

We’re back in 15. 


A change for the hosts: Eric Durm is gone through injury, Tommy Smith is on. 


Shaw picks out Alexis in oceans of room on the left, whose pull-back for Pogba instead breaks for United’s left-back, who then pulls a shot wide. 


A notable development elsewhere as Loftus-Cheek has put Chelsea ahead against Watford. 


Aaaand Chelsea have now scored again, through David Luiz. They lead 2-0, and are going third as it stands. That means Spurs go fourth, and just two points ahead of it stands. 


Oooh, Huddersfield break and a floated pass into the gambolling Kongolo is slightly too far ahead of him. A better pass and it would have been a heck of a chance for the hosts…


Close! It’s all Huddersfield. A dreadful pass by Sanchez for Pogba goes straight to Bacuna, who sprints to goal and slips the ball right for Grant. He stands up Jones, jinks left and curls a ball just over De Gea’s crossbar. United are still in the dressing room. 


…and Alexis is heading back there. He has limped off inured for Ander Herrera. 19-year-old Tahith Chong is in too, replacing Matic. 


Chong makes an instant impact, bursting forward and finding Mata, whose cross comes to nothing. Herrera then slices a shot miles wide. 


Gary Neville asks whether that’s the last we see of Sanchez at United, “limping down the tunnel at Huddersfield.” 

He is getting quite angry, now. He has been critical of Pogba’s work ethic – “look at him, he’s walking” – and has since said that United “aren’t a team.” 


United have definitely improved since the double-sub, and are zipping the ball about now with a bit intent. They’ve yet to create a whole lot yet, though. 


Alexis limps off for United, for perhaps the final time.

Huddersfield Town v Manchester United - Premier League - John Smith's Stadium Source: Anthony Devlin


GOAL! Huddersfield 1-1 Manchester United (Mbenza) 

Holy moly. Shaw wins a corner for United, which is whipped onto McTominay’s forehead, but it lands tamely into Lossl’s hands. He then boots the ball out of his hands over the United defence, to which the backtracking Shaw flung himself at in comedy fashion. 

He missed it, the ball ran through for Mbenza, who slotted the ball through De Gea’s legs. 

“Pathetic” spits Neville on commentary. It is hard to disagree…


“Nothing about this United group I like…just awful They are a despondent group of people.” 

Boy, Gary Neville is climbing from anger to sheer disgust. What’s next!? 


“He’s smiling! He’s smiling at them! They’re that bad” gasps Neville as the camera catches Solskjaer making a wry smile. 


The reason Neville is talking so much, by the way, is because we’ve not restarted. The corner flag was broken in Mbenza’s celebration and we are still fitting a new one. 


“I need a laugh” says Neville as two groundsmen make a complicated performance out of replacing the flag. We’re finally underway after a six minute delay. 


‘Huddersfield have replaced the corner flag, have United waved the white flag??’….or something better than that. 


Huddersfield resume on the attack: a Mooy free-kick was half-cleared by United. Bacuna then scampers down the left wing and shanks a cross behind. From the restart, Jones just passed the ball straight to Mooy. 

Heavens above, he has been poor today. 


Oh dear. Chong slides a ball through to the left channel for Pogba, who takes his touch, pauses…and blooters a cross over everybody to a pocket of empty space. Ironic cheers from the home support. 


Chong does well to harry for possession and win a free-kick wide left for United…


What a miss Phil Jones! Young whips a low cross behind the Huddersfield defence, and arriving onto the ball, Jones lets it bounce and then spoons the ball over from six yards with the goal gaping. 

Phil Jones: eeeeeeeeeeeeeeesh. 


Some stats: United have had one shot on target since the 15th minute. 

Huddersfield have won two home games all season, drawn another two and lost the rest. 


Another chance for United! This time Rashford slices wide by the penalty spot, one-on-one with the ‘keeper. He was picked out neatly by Mata. United’s finishing has been wretched, but the equaliser has at least shocked them into life. 


Chelsea 3-0 up against Watford: Higuain. 


Pogba dinks a ball over the top for McTominay, but it is met by the onrushing Lossl who punches clear. He caught McTominay’s head though, so now we have another stoppage as he receives treatment. 


McTominay is up on his feet and trots off. He looks like he should be okay to continue. 


United just passing it about now, no penetration at all. Can anyone make a difference? 


Nobody as of yet. Chong cuts in and plays a ball into midfield to nobody, Huddersfield break and Jones blocks an Mbenza cross behind for a corner. 


United clear the corner, but lose the chance to break when Mata misplaces a simple pass to Chong. Huddersfield come again, United clear and lose the ball again, and then an errant cross is left for De Gea to gather. 


Now United attack, Rashford jinks in off the left and blasts a shot to goal. Lossl parries it clear to Chong, who cuts onto his left and his shot is blocked. 


Final sub for United: Diogo Dalot on for Lindelof, who is off down the tunnel hinting at an injury.

Ashley Young and Phil Jones now at centre-back for United…


The ball is hoisted into the box for Rashford, who cleverly cushions the ball off his chest for Chong, who dinks it over him to…nobody. Pogba was loitering on the left…he should have made that run! 


Dalot’s finrst intervention: pulls a low cross across the box for McTominay, who tries to chest it goalwards. It went wide. 


The corner flag is replaced after Huddersfield’s equaliser.

Huddersfield Town v Manchester United - Premier League - John Smith's Stadium Source: Anthony Devlin


All sterile possession for United now, with Huddersfield deep. 


Save! Huddersfield venture forward but the attack breaks down. Rashford slips through Chong, whose shot is saved by Lossl! 


OFF THE BAR! Pogba curls a cross from the edge of the box off the bar, with Lossl beaten! So close! 


Save De Gea! Now Huddersfield break, and Grant’s shot is saved by De Gea’s feet! 


And breathe. Chong should probably have done better with a tame one-on-one, Pogba couldn’t have come much closer with the effort that cannoned off the bar, while United look so vulnerable to the counter. 

Diakhaby replaces Mbenza for Huddersfield, and we have eight minutes of added time. 



United pass the ball back and forth and back and forth and back and forth and Pogba says enough! And shots from distance over the crossbar. 


Lossl booked for timewasting. 


Young forces the ball from Mooy as Huddersfield looked briefly threatening. United break down the right, Chong pulls a pass into the box for Herrera which he miscontrols and then acrobatically volleys/scuffs at Lossl. Time slipping away for United. If they don’t score, their top four hopes are over. 


Goodness me. Herrera, for want of options in his own box, turns around and plays the ball to De Gea. 


Dalot has looked lively since coming on, and his cross into the box is blocked. Then…Rashford! His long-range shot is well held by Lossl. 


And that’s a wrap. A wretched draw for United that mathematically ends their hopes of a top four finish. Huddersfield leave the Premier League at the end of the week…but where are United going? 

Does anyone know? 

Thanks for following, bye. 

About the author:

Gavin Cooney


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