Devils on cloud nine as they look to maintain momentum


FOLLOWING a shock home loss to bottom side Sheffield United last week and a dire goalless draw at Arsenal on Saturday, Man Utd bounced back in style as they hammered sorry Southampton 9-0 in midweek.

Given their poor form at home, where they had lost six times at Old Trafford in all competitions this season, this was a welcome result and display, albeit against a Southampton outfit, who ended the match with two players sent off.

Man Utd sit second in the Premiership table, three points behind neighbours Man City who also have a game in hand.

With the leaders taking on Liverpool tomorrow, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side have the chance to close the gap if they can overcome Carlo Ancelotti’s Everton at the Theatre of Dreams in today’s late fixture.

It was encouraging to see Solskjaer’s side get back that hunger and desire and keep a clean sheet against the Saints in midweek.

Anthony Martial ended an eight-match goal drought with a brace, while the impressive Luke Shaw showed again why he had been the most consistent player in the squad with another noteworthy performance.

“Confidence is one thing but it was about the mojo and spark — the X-factor, ” said Solskjaer after the Southampton rout. Indeed his side must continue to show their ruthlessness in front of goal starting with the Toffees today.

Everton laboured to a hard-fought 2-1 win over Leeds on Wednesday to erase the painful home defeat at the hands of a modest Newcastle side last Saturday.

The sixth-placed Toffees are a dangerous side when they are on song and are chasing European football after a three-year absence.

Striker Dominic Calvert-Lewin has been key to Ancelotti’s side’s success and he made a return to goal-scoring form in the win at Leeds after seven league games without a goal.

Arsenal return to the West Midlands to face Aston Villa on Saturday, after they were beaten at Wolves in midweek.

The Gunners, who had David Luiz sent off in the midweek defeat, ended the match with nine men after goalkeeper Bernd Leno was dismissed for handling the ball outside the penalty area.

Both Leno and Luiz will be unavailable today.

Arsenal had gone into Tuesday’s game on an unbeaten run of seven Premier League matches but with the defeat, stay in 10th spot, eight points behind fourth-placed Leicester City in the final Champions League qualification spot.

On the plus side, Mikel Arteta’s side do look a tough nut to crack and will be bolstered by the return of captain Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang while recent loan signing Martin Odegaard may start the match.

Villa were poor in their midweek 3-1 loss at home to West Ham who condemned them to a fifth defeat in seven games in all competitions.

Dean Smith’s side will have to show an improved performance if they are to come away with anything from today’s early kick-off.

Wolves won for the first time in nine Premier League games against Arsenal in midweek and their match against Leicester tomorrow has all the ingredients of a thriller.

Wolves, who won the reverse fixture at the Emirates 2-1 in November, are still missing main striker Raul Jimenez and will rely on new signing Willian Jose to get the goals.

Leicester strengthened their position in the Premier League’s top four with victory over Fulham on Tuesday as Brendan Rodgers’ side continue to surprise with eye-catching displays despite the absence of main man Jamie Vardy.

On-form James Maddison has been outstanding. The Englishman has been directly involved in 12 goals in his past 12 appearances in all competitions for the Foxes and with defender Wesley Fofana and Vardy likely to be fit, expect the Foxes to come out winners at Molineux tomorrow.

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