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Good afternoon and Merry Christmas! It’s one of the busiest sporting days of the year as nine Premier League games are down for this decision, and we’re bringing you all the coverage from Old Trafford as Manchester United host Huddersfield Town.

After a dream start to Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s interim reign at Cardiff, the former United striker takes charge of his first game at the Theatre of Dreams on St Stephen’s Day.

United will be confident of picking up another confidence-boosting victory this afternoon against bottom-of-the-table Huddersfield, as Solskjaer bids to reverse the club’s fortunes following the departure of Jose Mourinho.

There’s a festive atmosphere around Old Trafford this afternoon, and we’re following all the action from 3pm. Stick with us through your turkey dinner! 

The scene is set.

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TEAM NEWS: In his first home game in charge, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer hands forgotten man Fred a start in midfield, as he makes three changes from the 5-1 thrashing of Cardiff.

Juan Mata and Diogo Dalot also come into the United starting XI, with Ashley Young and Ander Herrera dropping to the bench and Anthony Martial misses out altogether.

Man United XI: De Gea, Dalot, Lindelof, Jones, Shaw, Fred, Matic, Pogba, Lingard, Mata, Rashford.

TEAM NEWS: As for Huddersfield, the Premier League strugglers have also made three changes from their defeat to Southampton last time out.

Erik Durm, Elias Kachunga and Laurent Depoitre are the players drafted in, with Juninho Bacuna, Chris Lowe and Steve Mounie all dropping out.

Huddersfield XI: Lossl, Jorgensen, Schindler, Kongolo, Hadergjonaj, Durm, Billing, Kachunga, Pritchard, Mbenza, Depoitre.

After the weekend’s demolition of Cardiff, and now a home fixture against relegation fodder Huddersfield, Solskjaer could not have asked for a better set of fixtures to start his reign as Manchester United manager, with Bournemouth next up at Old Trafford on 29 December.

There is certainly a renewed sense of optimism and cheer around the red side of Manchester since the former striker’s appointment, and another big win this afternoon would only add to that as United bid to reel in the top four.

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There are nine Premier League games on today’s schedule, with the early kick-off between Fulham and Wolves having just ended in a 1-1 draw. Here’s what’s on the St Stephen’s Day menu.

  • Fulham 1-1 Wolves (FT)
  • Burnley v Everton
  • Crystal Palace v Cardiff City
  • Leicester City v Manchester City
  • Liverpool v Newcastle United
  • Manchester United v Huddersfield Town
  • Tottenham Hotspur v Bournemouth
  • Brighton v Arsenal (5.15pm)
  • Watford v Chelsea (7.30pm)

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has been speaking to Sky Sports ahead of kick-off:

“You have to pinch yourself. It’s a game we have to perform as well as we did against Cardiff. We can’t rely on that one performance. I’m actually quite calm now, I’m looking forward to it. A lot calmer than I thought I was going to be.”

The United boss also confirms Anthony Martial is ill, but is expected to be available for the weekend’s visit of Bournemouth. 

Which way do you see this afternoon’s game going?


Poll Results:

Man United (317)
Huddersfield  (22)
Draw  (18)



Solskjaer on Martial’s absence: “He must have had a bad chef over Christmas — he has fallen ill. If it is food poisoning or if it is something else, I don’t know.

“Hopefully, he will be fit for the game on Sunday. The other two [Diogo Dalot and Fred in for Ashley Young and Ander Herrera] are just changes that I think are right for this game.”

Manchester United haven’t lost a home league game on St Stephen’s Day since 1978-79 (0-3 versus Liverpool), winning 14 and drawing three since.

Meanwhile, Huddersfield are looking for their first away win against United since September 1930, when they won 6-0 in a top-flight clash. 

The teams are out at Old Trafford, and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer receives a huge ovation from the Stretford End as he makes his way to the dugout. We’re just about ready to go. 

2Mins

2 mins – Sloppy from Fred, who has been recalled to the side, as he gives possession away and Huddersfield have the game’s first attempt, but it was never going to trouble David de Gea. United yet to get going.

6Mins

5 mins – Crackling atmosphere inside Old Trafford, but United are just taking time to settle into proceedings as they knock the ball around. Not a whole lot to report from the opening minutes. 

8Mins

8 mins — Chance! Huddersfield should be ahead at Old Trafford. The long throw comes in from the left, it’s flicked on at the near post and Terence Kongolo finds himself unmarked, but can only scoop his effort over the bar from close range. The visitors have started very well. 

13Mins

13 mins – United seeing plenty of the ball but haven’t done a whole lot with it, as Huddersfield continue to apply a high press to good effect. 

18Mins

17 mins – United beginning to turn the screw as Lingard has his first sight of goal of the afternoon, but his long-range strike is comfortable in the end for Lossl.

21Mins

21 mins – Huddersfield have come to Old Trafford intent on packing the midfield areas to prevent United from playing through them centrally, and they’ve done an excellent job so far.

The hosts — who have had 75% possession — have looked to use Luke Shaw on the left to get down the sides of the Huddersfield rearguard, but to no avail with Dave Wagner’s side remaining firm in defence. 

23Mins

23 mins – That’s as blatant a foul as you’re likely to see. United look to break through Marcus Rashford, but the England forward is chopped down cynically by Elias Kachunga as he looked to get away. Jon Moss correctly books the Huddersfield defender. 

26Mins

26 mins – Chance for United here. Pogba is fouled on the edge of the area and referee Moss awards the hosts a free-kick 30 yards out. The French international steps up to take and his effort comes off the top of the wall and goes over for a corner.

Flag 30Mins

28 mins — GOAL! Man United 1-0 Huddersfield (Matic)

And there’s the breakthrough! The corner is whipped in from the left, Lindelof flicks it on at the near-post and Nemanja Matic is on hand to tap it home to give United the lead. 

29Mins

29 mins – That goal was coming as United had added pace and precision into their attacking endeavours in the last few minutes, but Huddersfield will be disappointed to have conceded from a set-piece so cheaply. 

30Mins

30 mins — Yellow! Fred has had a sloppy start to the game in the United midfield and he goes into the book for a rash challenge on Pritchard, as he caught the Huddersfield man in his follow through. 

35Mins

35 mins – United firmly in the ascendancy now as they press for a second before the break. That was Matic’s first goal in 23 matches, by the way. His last effort came against Crystal Palace back in March. 

38Mins

38 mins — Close! After a succession of corners, United very nearly double their lead as Rashford skips down the left and whips in a delicious ball, but Dalot can’t divert his effort on target. 

43Mins

42 mins – Rashford’s pace and direct running is causing Huddersfield problems, and after Matic steals possession in midfield, the United forward tries his luck from a tight angle on the right and very nearly finds the far corner. Good effort. 

44Mins

44 mins – Rashford again heavily involved in the latest United move, but his curling strike is easily saved by the Huddersfield ‘keeper. The visitors will be happy to get to the break just 1-0 down. 

Flag 46Mins

Half-time! Man United 1-0 Huddersfield

And that’s it for the first period at Old Trafford. United are full value for their lead at the break, thanks to Matic’s close-range finish from a corner. All smiles from Solskjaer so far. 

45Mins

What did you make of that first half? United have looked dangerous going forward and have created a number of chances, but Huddersfield have caused problems at the other end and could have drawn level just before the break. 

Flag 46Mins

KICK OFF! The teams are back out and we’re up and running again at Old Trafford.

46Mins

46 mins – No changes made by either manager at the break. 

47Mins

47 mins – Wagner’s side have been a threat in attack this afternoon and have started this half on the front foot, as Durm chips a cross towards Depoitre, who holds off Lindelof and attempts an acrobatic effort which ultimately goes wide. Promising signs for Huddersfield though. 

53Mins

51 mins – It’s all Huddersfield, and they’re getting closer. Mbenza nips in to steal possession off Dalot and after a powerful surge, pulls it back for Kachunga, but he’s unable to test De Gea from the edge of the area. Wagner applauds on the touchline. 

54Mins

52 mins – Solskjaer has responded with a double change as Ashley Young and Ander Herrera are introduced for Dalot and Fred. Fair to say the latter didn’t seize his starting chance in midfield. 

54Mins

54 mins – United win a free kick on the edge of the area on the left, and as they load the box, Rashford looks to catch the ‘keeper out at his near post but Lossl is equal to it.

57Mins

57 mins – Huddersfield are making their first change, as Wagner introduces Chris Lowe for Kachunga.

60Mins

58 mins – Much better from United as they very nearly open Huddersfield up for a second time. Matic slips a ball down the side of the defence for Rashford, who finds himself in space but is unable to get his shot away. 

62Mins

60 mins – United not entirely convincing defensively. Lingard does well to get back to cover the danger but a sloppy clearance puts his side under pressure and Jones has to come across and block the corner out for a corner. 

61Mins

61 mins — Save! Huddersfield are very nearly level, but De Gea produces a stunning save to deny the visitors. From the corner, the ball is pulled back towards Depoitre, and the striker hits it first time, only to see his goalbound effort clawed about by the United ‘keeper. 

Flag 65Mins

63 mins — GOAL! Man United 2-0 Huddersfield (Pogba)

And United strike almost instantly at the other end! Rashford and Mata combine down the right, before the ball is pulled back to Herrera in the box and he tips it on to Pogba, who strikes it low into the corner from 14 yards out. 

67Mins

66 mins – A crucial goal from Pogba — his first in nine — gives United a 2-0 lead, moments after De Gea’s brilliant stop. Can Solskjaer’s men cut loose in the final 20 minutes now?

70Mins

68 mins – Shaw is down and requires attention, but looks okay to continue. On the restart, the fullback ventures forward and the ball falls to him on the edge of the area. He strikes it sweetly but it’s straight at the ‘keeper. 

78Mins

77 mins – United are in cruise control now and heading towards a second win under Solskjaer.

Flag 78Mins

78 mins — GOAL! Man United 3-0 Huddersfield (Pogba)

And it’s three! Patient build-up from the hosts on the edge of the area and Mata lays it back for Pogba, who takes one touch and fires a low effort into the corner past the ‘keeper. A brilliant strike. 

79Mins

79 mins – An effortless goal from Pogba and he just stands there and nods his head in approval. The French midfielder has now scored more goals this afternoon than in his previous 17 games for club and country combined. 

81Mins

81 mins – A big moment for 18-year-old Angel Gomes as he’s introduced for his second Premier League appearance in place of Mata. 

83Mins

82 mins – Paul Pogba has now been involved in four goals in two Premier League games under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer (2 goals, 2 assists), the same total he had registered in his last 12 games under Jose Mourinho (1 goal, 3 assists).

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Flag 89Mins

88 mins — GOAL! Man United 3-1 Huddersfield (Jorgensen)

Frustration for United as they fail to keep a clean sheet. A free-kick is floated in, its headed on and Mathias Jorgensen is on hand to finish past De Gea from close range. 

91Mins

90 mins – There will be three minutes of added time at Old Trafford.

Flag 93Mins

Full-time! Man United 3-1 Huddersfield

Three and easy for United, and it’s two from two for Solskjaer as his reign gets off to a dream start. Nemanja Matic set the hosts on their way with a first-half strike, before Paul Pogba’s second-half double sealed the points.

United move within five points of the top four, with both Arsenal and Chelsea to play later. 

Thanks for joining us this afternoon. Full report and reaction from Old Trafford to come on The42 imminently. Until next time, goodbye! 

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About the author:

Ryan Bailey

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