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Dublin: 1°C Saturday 23 January 2021


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With the first international break of the season over, the shadow boxing of the early weeks of the season out of the way and European football back from Tuesday, the pace of the season quickens from today. 

Liverpool are showing no signs of relenting at the top, coming from behind to beat Newcastle 3-1 at Anfield in the lunchtime kick-off.

Man City will get their chance to respond against an injury-ravaged Norwich at 5.30pm. 

But before we get to that -  there’s a healthy slate of 3pm kick-offs, which we’ll be keeping you bang up to date with here. 

Here are the fixtures, with three of the traditional top six in action:  

Manchester United v Leicester 

Sheffield United v Southampton

Brighton v Burnley 

Wolves v Chelsea 

Spurs v Crystal Palace 


We say ‘traditional’ top six as Leicester are at Old Trafford to prove they can disrupt the hegemony this season. 

We’ll be paying particular heed to proceedings in that game, but you’ll be kept up to date with the key moments in those other games. 

Get in touch below the line, or email

We’ll have team news for you in a moment…

Team News 

United have their injury problems, and are without Shaw, Pogba, Lingard, and Martial against Leicester. Wan-Bissaka is fit, however, having initially been in doubt. 

Without wanting to be unfair to some of those drafted in – it’s a pretty uninspiring selection. 

David De Gea; Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Victor Lindelof, Harry Maguire, Ashley Young; Scott McTominay, Nemanja Matic; Andreas Pereira, Juan Mata, Daniel James, Marcus Rashford

Here’s the Leicester line-up, meanwhile: 

Kasper Schmeichel; Ricardo, Jonny Evans, Caglar Soyuncu, Ben Chilwell; Wilfred Ndidi; Demarai Gray, Youri Tielemans, Hamza Choudhury, James Maddison; Jamie Vardy


Brighton v Burnley 

Some good Irish news here – Shane Duffy is back in the starting team, having been left out of the battering at Man City a fortnight ago, while Aaron Connolly is on the bench once again. 

Brighton: Ryan, Webster, Duffy, Dunk, Burn, Gross, Stephens, Propper, Maupay, Murray, Marc
Substitutes: Bong, Bissouma, Mooy, Button, Baluta, Connolly, Alzate.

Burnley, meanwhile, have Jeff Hendrick and Robbie Brady among their replacements. 

Burnley: Pope, Lowton, Tarkowski, Mee, Pieters, Lennon, Westwood, Cork, McNeil, Barnes, Wood
Substitutes: Brady, Hendrick, Gibson, Rodriguez, Hart, Bardsley, Vydra

Sheffield United v Southampton 

Callum Robinson isn’t back to fitness in time to start this game, having missed Tuesday’s friendly with Bulgaria, but David McGoldrick is good to go. John Egan and Enda Stevens is in action too. 

Sheffield United: Henderson; Basham; Egan, O’Connell, Baldock, Lundstram, Norwood, Fleck; Stevens; McGoldrick, McBurnie
Substitutes: Luke Freeman, Sharp, Robinson, Mousset, Osborn, Moore, Besic.

Southampton, meanwhile, have Shane Long on their bench. 

Southampton: Gunn; Yoshida, Vestergaard, Bednarek, Cedric, Romeu, Hojbjerg, Djenepo, Ward-Prowse, Boufal, Adams
Substitutes: McCarthy, Stephens, Long, Ings, Armstrong, Bertrand, Valery.


Spurs v Crystal Palace 


Vertonghen and Eriksen start for Tottenham. 

Spurs: Lloris, Aurier, Alderweireld, Vertonghen, Rose, Sissoko, Winks, Lamela, Eriksen, Son, Kane
Substitutes: Wanyama, Dier, Alli, Gazzaniga, Lucas Moura, Ndombele, Davies.

James McCarthy, meanwhile, only makes the Palace bench. 

Crystal Palace: Guaita, Ward, Cahill, Sakho, van Aanholt, Townsend, Milivojevic, Kouyate, Schlupp, Zaha, Ayew
Substitutes: Tomkins, Meyer, Hennessey, Benteke, McCarthy, Victor Camarasa, Riedewald.

Wolves v Chelsea 

Wolves haven’t won yet this season, and Matt Doherty is fit only for a place on the bench having missed Ireland’s recent games. 

Wolves: Rui Patricio, Traore, Vallejo, Coady, Dendoncker, Jonny, Joao Moutinho, Neves, Saiss, Jota, Jimenez
Substitutes: Doherty, Pedro Neto, Cutrone, Gibbs-White, Ruddy, Ruben Vinagre, Kilman.

Frank Lampard, meanwhile, has taken a gamble by swapping to a back three. 


Chelsea: Arrizabalaga, Christensen, Rudiger, Tomori, Azpilicueta, Mount, Jorginho, Kovacic, Alonso, Willian, Abraham
Substitutes: Barkley, Pedro, Caballero, Zouma, Giroud, Pulisic, Batshuayi.

Some pre-game reading ahead of kick-off at Old Trafford: is this the day Rodgers’ side show they are actually ahead of United at the moment? 

We’re underway! 


Early chance for United – Daniel James is fouled by Ricardo Pereira, and his United namesake Andreas whips a free-kick goalward that’s superbly clawed away by Kasper Schmeichel. He clattered against the post for his trouble, but should be ok to continue. 


Oof, at the other end – De Gea blocks a Maddison shot with his feet, after Lindelof was caught out by a bouncing ball. The ball was diverted for a corner, which United dealt with. A lively start! 


Penalty Man United! 

And livelier still – Rashford is taken out by Caglar Soyuncu, and United have a fourth penalty in five games. Pogba’s out, so no doubt who takes this…

Flag 7Mins

GOAL! Manchester United 1-0 Leicester (Rashford, penalty) 

And Rashford sends Schmeichel the wrong way! What a start for United, and they take an early lead. 


Elsewhere today – Tottenham take the lead against Palace, through Son. 


Here’s a stat for you – Man United have won 40% of the penalties awarded in the Premier League thus far this season. 


For a second time in the opening 15 minutes – De Gea blocks a Maddison shot with his feet. 


Ahead of kick-off, the Leicester fans were singing mean things about Harry Maguire, adding that “We don’t need you, we’ve got Soyuncu.” 

Given Soyuncu fouled Rashford the penalty that leaves his side behind – they might be feeling slightly bashful about all of that, now. 

Then again – they almost certainly won’t be. 


Johnny Evans heads another United free-kick away and behind for a corner. This has been a pretty impressive opening quarter from Solskajer’s side. 


Spurs are cruising against Palace – they are now 2-0 up. Aurier’s cross is deflected off Van Aanholt and into the net for an own goal. 


It’s getting better for Spurs – it’s gone 3-0 already. Another Aurier cross, but this time its volleyed in by Son. 


Few chances of late at Old Trafford, but United are dominant. They can also take succor from their Old Trafford record in league games in which they’ve taken the lead – they’ve won 122 of the last 133, and drawn the other 11. 


Poor Soyuncu has been totally unsettled by Rashford’s pace thus far, and fouled him thrice already. 


Chilwell! A Leicester corner is spooned back to the left-back on the edge of the box, and his half-volley is tipped over the bar by De Gea! 


Chelsea take the lead against Wolves – defender Tomori bends the ball into the far corner. 


At Old Trafford, the subsequent corner is cleared. That was a good effort by Chilwell, and a reminder for United of Leicester’s threat. While United have been the better side in the opening half-hour, they have been sloppy on the ball at times in midfield. 


Chelsea double their lead against Wolves – Tammy Abraham finds space on the edge of the six-yard box and rifles the ball in. His fifth goal in three games! 


Leicester are slowly growing into this game. Although he has been maligned of late, De Gea has shown glimpses of his match-salvaging form of the last couple of seasons this afternoon, particularly in clawing away that Chilwell shot from earlier. 

Rodgers’ side are otherwise failing to create many clear-cut chances; the latest failed attempt a Gray cross into the penalty area that wasn’t close enough to Vardy. 


Blimey – Chelsea now 3-0 up against Wolves. It’s another goal for Tammy Abraham, a header from 12 yards. He’s in spectacular form!


Aaaand Tottenham go one better than Chelsea – they’re 4-0 up against Palace, and it’s not even half-time. Erik Lamela this time; a horror-show for Palace. 


The ball falls kindly for Soyuncu, but his shot is comfortably saved by De Gea. 


United have taken their foot off the gas slightly in the latter half of the opening 45 minutes, and seem content to try and pick Leicester off on the counter. Daniel James fired a warning in that direction a couple of moments ago – but neat play by Juan Mata didn’t end in the kind of pass needed to pick him out. 


There’s the half-time whistle, and United lead through Rashford’s early penalty. They bossed the opening quarter but have allowed Leicester earn a foothold since. David De Gea has been more than equal to their few efforts on goal thus far, however. An encouraging half overall for United, but they still have plenty of work to do. 


Here are the half-time scores across the Premier League. Remember the bit of this liveblog that talked of the “traditional” top six and wondered whether a few of the lower-ranked renegades were ready to shake that established order up? Erm, yeah. 

Brighton 0-0 Burnley 

Manchester United 1-0 Leicester 

Sheffield United 0-0 Southampton 

Spurs 4-0 Crystal Palace 

Wolves 0-3 Chelsea 


Peeeep! We’re back underway!


United have contrived to lose half-time leads against Southampton and Wolves already this season, so they have something to prove here. 


Brighton take the lead at home to Burnley – Neal Maupay makes Burnley, um, pay. 


Daniel James is becoming a kind of Arjen Robben, but this time he narrowly misses another trademark goal. He cuts in from the left – inside Ricardo – but his shot was slightly too high. 


United sweep forward again – Wan-Bissaka picks out Mata, who checks back onto his left but sees his shot pawed away by Schmeichel. 


United sat too deep toward the end of the first half, but they’ve done anything but in the early stages of the second. They’ve carved out two decent chances already.


A fourth Chelsea goal against Wolves, and Tammy Abraham has his hat-trick! 


Big chance here for Leicester. McTominay gives away a free-kick six yards outside the box, and James Maddison looks interested…


…and he has whipped it just wide! 


Chance for Harry Maguire! He meets Ashley Young’s corner, but Schmeichel clutches on to the ball. 


Brendan grows bolder: Ayoze Perez is brought on for Choudhury. 



It’s all Leicester now. Great defending by Maguire denies Ricardo, as he broke into the box. Right before that, a dangerous Tielemans cross evaded Evans in the penalty area. United under the cosh…


The last remaining goalless game is goalless no more – Southampton lead Sheffield United 1-0, through Djenepo. 


If you remember Fred – he is about to come on for United, as Solskajer tries to stem the bleeding. After that brief flurry of chances at the start of the half, they’ve been totally outplayed. 


Matic makes way for Fred. Perhaps he can keep hold of the ball and earn United a break. Not that there’s compelling evidence from his United career so far showing that he can make a difference…


Wolves have a goal back against Chelsea – Roman Saiss heads beyond Kepa. They’re still 4-1 down, mind. 


Another change for United: Chong comes on for Juan Mata. 


Mata went off holding his neck after a hefty challenge with Ndidi. Solskajer’s reshuffle sees Chong go to the left, James to the right and Andreas slot in centrally behind Rashford. 


Those couple of substitutions have helped distort the rhythm of the game, and United are slightly more comfortable than they were. What helps is the subs’ aggression – Chong hassles Schmeichel, Fred then does the same to win the ball from Ricardo. Daniel James, however, can’t capitalise and he puts his shot into the stand. 


Wan-Bissaka gambolls down the right, but his cross has been well-cleared. United have found a more positive spark – a big closing 15 minutes await! 


To break off briefly - Irish U21 striker Adam Idah is on the bench for Norwich against Man City this evening, 


Pretty disappointing stuff from Leicester so far – they should be chasing this game but, at the moment, are going nowhere fast. 


And in further Irish news – Aaron Connolly has come off the bench for Brighton for a second game in a row, either side of his U21 heroics in midweek. 


Oh, so close for United! Rashford thwacks a free-kick from 25 yards against the angle of post and bar at Old Trafford; inches away from sealing the win. He has a litany of awful free-kicks behind him all season, but that was a terrific effort. 


Wolves have another goal back: Patrick Cutrone, set-up by our own Matt Doherty. It’s Wolves 2-4 Chelsea…surely not? 


Here come Leicester: they have a corner. It’s whipped in by Maddison, but put behind. It seemed to come off Fred, but the referee said it came off Ayoze Perez and De Gea has a goal-kick. Fair to say Perez doesn’t look too enthused. 


Solskjaer now happy to see this out: Axel Tuanzebe is about to come on. 


Jeff Hendrick scores a corker for Burnley! On his hundredth Premier League appearance, he has hauled his side level in added time against Brighton. Cracking strike!


Tuanzebe on for James. Four minutes of added time for United to hold on…


Ha! Schmeichel is going bananas – he has sprinted forward for a corner, only for Leicester to take it short. It comes to nothing. 


Ooof. Leicester keep pressing, the ball falls nicely for Ndidi 12 yards from goal, and his volley flies narrowly past the post. All of a sudden, United are clinging on a bit…


It’s kicking off here. McTominay is on the ground clutching his face, having ran the ball into the corner to wind down the clock. Cyuncu and Rashford square up, and Martin Atkinson rushes in to try and defuse tensions. United almost there… 


Mason Mount gets another goal for Chelsea – they lead Wolves 5-2. 


Full-time! Manchester United 1-0 Leicester City 

United hold on, and consign Leicester to a first defeat of the season. It was far from perfect, and were outplayed for vast tracts of the game and again didn’t keep the ball well enough – but Rashford’s penalty along with decisive interventions by Maguire and, most, notably David De Gea, earn United an important win. 

Let’s leave you with the full-time scores from the 3pm kick-offs. 

Brighton 1-1 Burnley

Manchester United 1-0 Leicester 

Sheffield United 0-1 Southampton

Spurs 4-0 Crystal Palace 

Wolves 2-5 Chelsea 

Thanks for following; bye! 

About the author:

Gavin Cooney


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