All posts by Daniel Feliciano

Ralf Rangnick can find out exactly where Manchester United stand against Arsenal

Manchester United play host to long-time rivals Arsenal at Old Trafford in the Premier League tonight, and it’s the start of a new era.

The Reds have seen two games go relatively well results wise since Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was sacked following a poor run, with a 2-0 win over Villarreal followed up with a 1-1 draw at Stamford Bridge vs Chelsea.

Michael Carrick has been the man in charge of those fixtures, and has vehemently denied that new interim manager Ralf Rangnick had any input on team selection and tactics.



But after being officially announced as the interim manager until the end of the season, Rangnick will surely have input on this game despite not being in the dugout for it.

The German is still working through the visa process and won’t be able to officially take charge of the team against Arsenal, but reports say he has already been looking at training tapes and analysing previous games to be able to hit the ground running when he does eventually take charge.

But with that time edging ever closer, it won’t be beyond the realms of possibility that he has a big say in team selection and training methods leading into this game.

Even if he isn’t though, this is a game where he will finally be able to see what the team is truly made of and the size of the task he has taken on. While Villarreal are a good team in their own right, United are supposed to be beating them.

Head coach of Manchester United Michael Carrick and Forward of Manchester United Cristiano Ronaldo during Champions League match between Villarreal...

Chelsea are a team right now that would cause any team to adapt their tactics slightly too, so it’s no surprise United went extra defensive in that sense.

But against Arsenal, at Old Trafford and with a win desperately needed in the Premier League, they have to go for it. The fans will be right behind them, the players should be up for it to impress the new boss and they are playing against a team who have their own issues.

This isn’t an Arsenal team that have been particularly impressive recently, despite their results. Mikel Arteta is still learning on the job and while his side have started to somewhat resemble what he has been speaking about since being in charge almost two years ago, they still have glaring weaknesses.

On paper, the United squad is considerably stronger than Arsenal’s and they have the ability to put this team to the sword if they are firing. But that’s a big ‘if’ considering recent form, and Arsenal will be raring to go against a wounded animal.

Jadon Sancho of Manchester United celebrates scoring their first goal during the Premier League match between Chelsea and Manchester United at...

If United can show their true level they should win this game. If they perform below it, then it’s very possible they get beaten and fall even further down the table in the race for a top four place.

But one thing that will be sure, is that Rangnick will have a much better idea of his task after 90 minutes at Old Trafford. Whether he can turn it around or build on it, is a different question entirely.

UFC Vegas 44: Jose Aldo looking to earn himself dream bantamweight bout

There is an argument to be made that Jose Aldo is one of the very best of all-time and has had the storied, fairytale career that many fighters dream of.

After being crowned featherweight champion during the WEC days back in 2009, he was promoted to UFC’s featherweight champion when the organisation completed a buyout in 2010.

As the UFC’s crown jewel at 145lbs, Aldo dominated the division for the best part of four years. He beat everyone there was to beat at the time, until he ran into Conor McGregor’s violent left hand.



It seemed that knockout at UFC 194 in 2015 was the start of a downward spiral that every great fighter seems to have these days.

It marked the start of a run of six losses in nine fights, which was remarkable considering he didn’t taste defeat for over ten years prior to that fight.

It was a defeat to now featherweight champion Alexander Volkanovski that sparked a change for Aldo though, who decided to drop down in weight to 135lbs to try and challenge for the bantamweight title.

In a back and forth battle with Marlon Moraes, it started with a defeat that many disputed. Ultimately though, it was yet another loss on his record as part of that run.

The performance was enough to convince the UFC to give him a title shot for the vacant belt though after TJ Dillashaw was suspended for using banned substances and stripped of his reign.

Petr Yan of Russia celebrates after his TKO victory over Jose Aldo in their UFC bantamweight championship fight during the UFC 251 event at Flash...

He went up against Petr Yan and ultimately fell short at UFC 251, with the Russian using superior boxing skills to eventually wear the older Aldo down and earn a TKO victory in the fifth and final round.

Since then though, the Aldo we have seen at 135lbs has been nothing short of excellent. Another fun scrap between himself Marlon Vera got him back on the winning trail at UFC Vegas 17, before facing off with Pedro Munhoz at UFC 265 and coming out on top in a three-round war.

Now ranked at number four once again, Aldo takes on Rob Font for a chance at possible redemption against Yan in yet another title fight.

But more than that, a win over Font could set up a dream fight between Aldo and Dillashaw that many wanted to see years prior.

While both men reigned supreme at the bantamweight and featherweight divisions, neither seemed keen to switch into the other’s path.

After his last win though, Aldo called Dillashaw out for his return bout only for him to instead fight Cory Sandhagen and win. That seemed to set him up for the next title shot, only for knee surgery to set him back a few places.

Jose Aldo of Brazil poses for photos during the UFC Press Conference inside MGM Grand Garden Arena on December 9, 2015 in Las Vegas, Nevada.

With Aljamain Sterling set to defend against Yan in their highly anticipated rematch early in 2022, Dillashaw may need another bout to keep himself active before potentially getting that shot again.

If Aldo can earn the victory at UFC Vegas 44 over Rob Font, he will be perfectly placed to finally get that fight that he has wanted for a long time.

Should he manage to get that fight and get the win that he is so sure he can deliver, then the only logical next step from that would be another shot at UFC gold.

It would mark yet another chapter in the fairytale of Aldo’s career to date and whether he was successful or not, it would cement his legacy and add even more certainty to the argument surrounding his G.O.A.T status.

Kevin Lee released by the UFC

Former lightweight interim title contender Kevin Lee has been released from his UFC contract after eight years with the company.

Lee has lost his last two fights and four of his last five, with his only win since May 2018 coming via a head-kick knockout against the then-undefeated Gregor Gillespie at UFC 244.

‘The Motown Phenom’ was recently suspended for six months by USADA after failing a drug test, which he attributed to medication he takes for ADHD.



Lee was a popular figure on his rise through the promotion, racking up a record of 16-2 at one point with notable victories of Francisco Trinaldo and Michael Chiesa via submission.

Those victories earned him a lightweight title fight against Tony Ferguson at UFC 216, where he was submitted in round three after coming into the bout with a staph infection.

He bounced back from that with a win over Edson Barboza in a main event bout, but his poor run followed that. His most recent appearance came at UFC Vegas 35 where he was beaten via unanimous decision in a welterweight bout by Daniel Rodriguez.

Lee’s inactivity in recent years has been an issue, fighting just four times since 2019 and just once in each of the last two years.

The decision to release him from his contract certainly comes as a shock to many, but at 29-years-old he still has plenty of time to rejuvenate his career elsewhere and potentially make a return.

His name still has star power and somewhere like Bellator or ONE Championship will surely be interested in bringing him in now that he is a free agent.

Rafa Benitez must give Everton fans a reason to love him

One of the big stories in the summer was that of Rafa Benitez joining Everton as manager to replace the departed Carlo Ancelotti.

After the Italian re-joined Real Madrid in a shock move to surprise Everton, the Toffees took their time to appoint his replacement.

There were talks with Frank Lampard, Eddie Howe and Nuno Espirito Santo but ultimately, the decision of the owner Farhad Moshiri was to bring in Liverpool fan favourite Benitez.



Immediately fans protested the decision, letting it be known that they were not happy with his involvement in the club considering the brilliant history he has with their fiercest rivals.

Benitez famously won the UEFA Champions League in 2005 as Reds boss while also leading them on a title charge as they competed with Manchester United and Chelsea in the late 2000’s.

Despite some ugly scenes before he was officially announced in the role, Benitez took over officially before the season started and took charge of pre-season where he signed the likes of Andros Townsend and Demarai Gray.

The season started well too, with three wins from the opening four Premier League games as well as progression in the Carabao Cup against Huddersfield. Since then though, it’s been a bit of a nightmare.

Everton manager Rafa Benitez greets his players after the Premier League match between Everton and Southampton at Goodison Park on August 14, 2021 in...

A 3-0 defeat to Aston Villa on September 18th was the start of seven defeats in ten games, with just one win in that run that has led them to tonight’s Merseyside derby against their in-form city rivals.

A video from the away section of their defeat against Brentford at the weekend showed just how angry Everton fans are right now, and considering Benitez was fighting a losing battle when he took the job initially it hasn’t got any easier for him now.

Something that would undoubtedly get Blues fans on side would be a victory against the Anfield side, who have long been labelled as one of the very best teams in the world currently.

One of those classic defensive performances with some strong counter-attacking threat and a potential upset win, would be the perfect remedy for the fans and go some way to showing exactly where his loyalties lie these days.

Everton manager Rafael Benítez during the Premier League match between Wolverhampton Wanderers and Everton at Molineux on November 01, 2021 in...

Whether it comes against Liverpool or in the following games against Arsenal, Crystal Palace or Chelsea, Benitez needs to do something and quickly.

The longer this stretch of bad form goes on for, the less likely it is that the fans will be forgiving to him as the season becomes harder and harder to resurrect.

The same way Benitez endeared himself to Liverpool fans by winning big games and trophies, the Spaniard must find a way to make Everton fans love him.

Rob Font can finally break into contender status at UFC Vegas 44

The UFC returns from a two week break to close out the year with some heavy main events, starting off with bantamweights Rob Font and Jose Aldo going head-to-head.

The two top five ranked 135-pounders will meet at UFC Vegas 44 this weekend in a bout that will decide whether it’s time to usher in a new generation of title contenders, or whether one of the best ever is still good enough to compete at the highest level.

For Font though, it stands as much more than just beating one of the best champions in the history of the UFC.



After making his debut with the company way back in 2014, Font’s boxing skills were always on show for all to see.

His first fight with the organisation ended in a brutal first-round knockout win and performance of the night bonus, but he then missed over a year of action following injuries that forced two separate bouts to be scrapped.

He finally returned in January 2016 and KO’d another opponent, before a decision loss to John Lineker. That would be the first of just three losses to date in the UFC, with the others coming against Pedro Munhoz and Raphael Assuncao.

Despite 12 fights in the organisation, Font has never lost consecutive fights in his UFC career. He has a 9-3 record against elite opposition and a 19-4 record overall throughout his career.

Yet only now, after four wins in a row against Sergio Pettis, Ricky Simon, Marlon Moraes and Cody Garbandt is he being recognised as a potential threat to the throne currently occupied by Aljamain Sterling.

But at UFC Vegas 44 he will step into the cage against one of the true greats of the mixed martial arts world. This is his chance to become a household name and break through that glass ceiling that has been silently holding him back throughout his career.

At 34-years-old, it isn’t quite now or never for Font. Aldo is 35-years-old but his career has seen much higher highs and much lower lows, while also going on for much longer.

Despite being ranked number four in the world, Font doesn’t have that marquee name on his resumé as of now. He’s beaten good guys, including former champion Garbrandt, but it was a ‘No Love’ who had one foot in the flyweight division as hasn’t been himself since losing the title.

A win over this Aldo, who is past his best and yet still has managed to climb his way back up the title ladder by beating some solid guys and recovering from losses, would be the top layer of the cake for Font.

Rob Font reacts after defeating Cody Garbrandt in their bantamweight bout during the UFC Fight Night event at UFC APEX on May 22, 2021 in Las Vegas,...

He has a great chance to cement himself as one of the very best 135-pounders in the world currently with a win. With Cory Sandhagen suffering back-to-back losses and TJ Dillashaw recovering from knee surgery, a statement victory could put Font right in line.

Sterling will fight Petr Yan early in 2022 to unify the division, but after that the next contender is up for grabs. If Font can secure a stellar performance and victory, it will be very hard for the UFC to deny him his chance to claim gold for the first time.

Leeds United desperate for Marcelo Bielsa to find his mojo again

After 17 years away from England’s top flight, Leeds United returned to the Premier League last season and were a breath of fresh air under Marcelo Bielsa.

The legendary South American oversaw a stellar Championship campaign with the Yorkshire side that saw them promoted as champions, with expectations among the fan base relatively high following their return to the grandest stage.

It was a great season too for the Elland Road faithful, as Bielsa’s extraordinary man-to-man tactics worked well and secured the club a ninth placed finish with a positive goal difference.



It was a nudge in the right direction for Leeds, who many neutrals were delighted to see back in the big time and performing well.

They play with swashbuckling attacking intent, often prepared to concede goals if it means they’re able to score a few more at the other end of the pitch.

They all trust each other on the ball and are comfortable and confident when it comes to playing their way out of tight situations. All the fortune that their bravery brought last season was well deserved, but this season has been nothing short of a nightmare.

After a 5-1 thumping on the opening day of the season by rivals Manchester United, Leeds have managed just two wins from the following 12 Premier League games so far.

Marcelo Bielsa, Manager of Leeds United looks on during the Premier League match between Leeds United and Leicester City at Elland Road on November...

They are languishing three points above the relegation zone, with just 12 goals scored and 20 conceded. Starting striker Patrick Bamford has missed a chunk of the campaign through injury, while Raphinha hasn’t quite hit the heights he did last year.

Kalvin Phillips also seems to be suffering with a Euro’s hangover after helping England reach their first major international final since 1966 during the summer. Overall, the performances have just been poor for the most part and fans are beginning to worry.

But beyond them all it’s Bielsa who seems to have lost his spark the most. He isn’t nearly as animated on the touchline as he has been in the past, and while he has made decisions to make substitutions early in games he seems to lack the decisiveness he usually possesses.

A team that clearly thrives on confidence, Leeds are bereft of it currently.

They’ll take on a Crystal Palace side next who are still transitioning into their full potential under Patrick Vieira but have started the season well. Only Chelsea, Man City and Liverpool have lost less games than Palace and they’re also one of only seven teams in the division to not have a negative goal difference.

Kalvin Phillips of Leeds United applauds the Leeds fans after the Premier League match between Tottenham Hotspur and Leeds United at Tottenham...

If Leeds are to start building momentum to survive this season, there is no time like now. They have seven games left in 2021 and four of them comes against the top three and Arsenal.

They need to win some games and sharpish, or they’re at a very real risk of being relegated at the second time of asking after fighting so hard to get back to where they believe they belong.

If anyone can provide a win for Leeds, it’s not the players on the pitch. It’s their leader off it and their tactical genius of a coach. He has all the tool and qualities to come up with something different for the team to get it to click again, and it must happen now.

Lionel Messi wins record seventh Ballon d’Or

Lionel Messi has won the Ballon d’Or for the seventh time in his career, extending his record as the player to win it the most times.

The Argentine captain capped off a wonderful year for himself by pipping Robert Lewandowski and Jorginho to the award, making him the first Ligue 1 player to win the honour since Jean-Pierre Papin in 1991.

Messi had previously won each of his six awards with FC Barcelona, the club he played his entire career for before a summer move to Paris Saint-Germain.



The award was met with a mixed response from fans, with many believing Bayern Munich and Poland striker Lewandowski deserved the honour.

But in the end, Messi’s victory in the Copa America and Copa Del Rey as well as finishing as the top goalscorer in both tournaments and La Liga was enough to secure him the record breaking achievement.

Lewandowski finished second while Chelsea’s Jorginho rounded off the podium in third, having helped his club win the Champions League and led Italy to winning Euro 2020 in the summer.

Karim Benzema finished fourth, while N’Golo Kante finished fifth. The Premier League continued to dominate the top ten as Cristiano Ronaldo finished sixth, Mohamed Salah finished seventh and Kevin De Bruyne finished eighth, while PSG stars Kylian Mbappe and Gianluigi Donnarumma completed the top ten.

FIFA ensured that Lewandowski didn’t go home empty handed however, as the inaugral “Striker of the Year” award was given to the man who scored 64 goals in 54 games last season en route to yet another Bundesliga title.

Chelsea were crowned the inaugral “Club of the Year” winners, while Pedri was confirmed as the Kopa Trophy winner -given to the best Under-21 player in the world.

Messi’s victory moves him two clear of Ronaldo in the record hunt, as the Portuguese legend finished outside of the top three for the first time since 2010.

Conor McGregor reveals expected return date

The UFC won’t be without the Notorious one for much longer, after Conor McGregor revealed when he expects to be able to compete once again.

The former two-weight world champion is coming off the back of successive losses for the first time in his career, following defeats to Dustin Poirier at UFC 257 and UFC 264 in July.

However the most recent loss was marred by a gruesome leg injury at the end of the first round which forced the fight to be stopped by doctors.



McGregor landed a kick to the body of Poirier but his shin caught the elbow of ‘Diamond’. As he placed his foot back down to throw a strike, his leg broke under his weight and he collapsed to the canvas in pain.

The doctor stopped the fight but McGregor was adamant that he would return for revenge against Poirier, who made it 2-1 in their trilogy after previously earning a KO win in January.

After months of back and forth with several people on social media, McGregor was now revealed that he expects to be cleared for full sparring in April and should be able to return to action soon after.

The 33-year-old had immediately been earmarked for a return in the summer of 2022 following his injury, but there had been reports that his recovery had been going better than expected.

It now seems that those reports were wide of the mark though, with the timeline for his recovery seemingly in line with initial expectations.

His next fight is up in the air though. His wish for an immediate fourth bout with Poirier seems unlikely given that he will be challenging for the lightweight championship on December 11th, while Justin Gaethje is already essentially confirmed as being next in line for the winner of that fight with Charles Oliveira.

Beneil Dariush and Islam Makhachev are confirmed to be fighting each other in February now, which leaves open potential bouts against Michael Chandler or even Max Holloway for the summer.

Cristiano Ronaldo is Manchester United’s poison and medicine

Manchester United secured a huge point away to Chelsea at Stamford Bridge on Sunday, but bigger than the result was Michael Carrick’s decision to drop Cristiano Ronaldo.

United started the game in a 4-3-3 shape with Marcus Rashford and Jadon Sancho flanking Bruno Fernandes as the striker, with all of Fred, Scott McTominay and Nemanja Matic playing in midfield.

The Reds took the lead in the second half as Sancho pounced on a Jorginho error to slot past Edouard Mendy, before the Italian converted a penalty to ensure a nervy finish.



Ronaldo wasn’t on the pitch when United went ahead but had been called upon by Carrick before the penalty decision, while he was largely anonymous on the field for the rest of the game.

Carrick implemented a high press to try and force Chelsea into errors higher up the pitch, but the home side managed to cope fairly well for the most part.

While some speculated that the incoming Ralf Rangnick may have had something to do with the team selection and decision to drop Ronaldo, Carrick completely ruled that out and it was pretty clear from the style that the German had no involvement.

But what it did offer up were some questions about how Ronaldo will fit in going forward.

Manchester United's Portuguese striker Cristiano Ronaldo replaces Manchester United's English striker Jadon Sancho in the second half during the...

The Portuguese forward is the club’s top goalscorer this season with ten goals, but the Premier League has proved tough for him with just four goals in nine appearances so far. His lack of defensive nous means United are often a man down when it comes to the transitions and keeping clean sheets.

Despite that though, he has proven to be United’s saviour on several occasions already. He scored twice on his debut in a 4-1 win over Newcastle, scoring the opening and go-ahead goals in the game.

He scored the equaliser against West Ham, the opener against Young Boys, the winner against Villarreal at home, the winner in the home game against Atalanta, the opener against Tottenham, both goals in a 2-2 draw with Atalanta away and the opener in the return game against Villarreal too.

All of his goals to date have been meaningful and contributed towards United winning points. So how is it that someone so important can also potentially be a hinderance to the current United squad going forward?

Ultimately, that is the case. His defensive frailties don’t help the side whatsoever on the pitch, but going forward you can’t just ignore how good he is when it comes to being clinical and winning you games.

Forward of Manchester United Cristiano Ronaldo celebrate after scoring the 0-1 goal with his teammate during Champions League match between...

With Ronaldo now 36-years-old, you get what you’re given with him at this point. United knew what he offered when they signed him and they did it anyway. To his credit, he has performed too.

For United and Rangnick now, the task remains the same. They need a cohesive defensive unit on the pitch, which also contains Cristiano Ronaldo in attack to have the perfect balance to win games, especially at the highest level.

The Portuguese legend is currently both a poison and a medicine to the Manchester United squad, but United must now find a way to perfectly balance the doses of each.

Liverpool proving they can win without Mo Salah firing

It says something about the strength of the Premier League right now that three of the top four teams in the world right now are plying their trade in England’s top flight.

Alongside Bayern Munich of the Bundesliga, Man City, Chelsea and Liverpool are running riot as the best and most effective teams in the world right now.

In those teams are some of the best players in the world right now, but arguably the best of the bunch currently is Anfield hero Mohamed Salah.



The Egyptian has been in the form of his life so far this season, registering an amazing 17 goals and eight assists in 18 games in all competitions.

But as Liverpool played host to Southampton on Saturday afternoon, for once he wasn’t firing on all cylinders. Even despite that though, Liverpool were able to run out 4-0 winners thanks to goals from Diogo Jota, Thiago and Virgil Van Dijk.

Salah did register an assist, but the overall performance for Liverpool was very encouraging against a good side in Southampton.

The full-backs were flying once again, with both Andy Robertson and Trent Alexander-Arnold registering assists, while the midfield were able to dominate the ball and also chip in with creativity too.

It was the performance of Portuguese forward Jota that would have been most encouraging for Jurgen Klopp though, as he continued his excellent form with two goals early in the first half.

For a player who was initially signed as cover for the famous front three, Jota’s form and performances have pushed him firmly into consideration for a regular starting role in the team ahead of Roberto Firmino.

One of the big things for Liverpool’s attack was that all three players didn’t need to be firing for them to be influential on the result of a game, but Firmino’s drop-off over the last 18 months had essentially taken one of their weapons away.

Jota’s work rate means Liverpool are able to restore the feeling without Firmino, but his added quality in attack means they are back to having a three-pronged attack that is capable of rotating and going toe-to-toe with any defence in the world.

For Liverpool that can only be a good thing. It means that when a team does manage to halt the momentum of Salah, or even Sadio Mane for that matter, they still have one more weapon in their arsenal to punish the opposition.

It’s amazing for Liverpool and just another reason why they’re among the best teams in the world currently.