Tag Archives: FA Cup

Chelsea vs Manchester City – Women’s FA Cup Final Preview

One thing we have come to expect from both Chelsea and Manchester City is trophies.

Funnily enough, the two sides met in their first final against each other earlier this year – having met in eight semi-finals in the past seven years alone.

The last five FA Cups have been won by either Manchester City or Chelsea, and this is something that the most successful club Arsenal will be trying to change next season.



Both sides are seen as favourites whenever they get to domestic finals, but we know that this time there can only be one winner. When the two sides met in the Continental Cup Final in February, it was City that were victorious – coming from behind to win 3-1.

When Chelsea manager Emma Hayes spoke about what would be different between that final and this weekends final, she mentioned that it was a depleted squad that competed for that last cup, and with this one, she thinks they’ll be more like their true selves, both in terms of squad availability, but also just mindset and mentality.

City arguably have had one of the biggest injury crises we have seen in the WSL for some time – going as far as having to use their third-choice keeper as well as playing wingers at full-back and midfielders at centre-back.

Luckily for them, City have been able to bring most of their players back from injury over the past few months and will be at full strength essentially for the final.

The strength of both squads is what makes this battle between two great clubs even more interesting and harder to predict.

Both teams seem to have adopted a winning culture, and anything less than that appears to be a disappointment for both players and managers. And having met as many times as they have in the latter stages of competitions, it doesn’t seem that it’s necessarily about surprises on the day – the key here will be execution.

Both sides have huge game changers, which is what makes them such competitive teams at the highest levels.

With City, it’s their wide threat through wingers Lauren Hemp and the newly fit Chloe Kelly.

Prior to her ACL injury last season, Kelly was probably the most in-form winger in the league. She’s someone that has beens able to provide important goals and assists, as well as causing defenders problems with her dribbling and speed.

They’re also able to suffocate opponents offensively because their full-backs, particularly Lucy Bronze, are able to get involved offensively too.

To add to this, City have goal scoring midfielders such as Caroline Weir and Georgia Stanway makes them even more of a threat because for opposition teams, there’s very few players in the City team that you can afford space to because they can hurt you both in the centre of the pitch and in the final third.

For Chelsea, their game changing aspect seems to be more varied. Their strength comes in the depth they have in the midfield and their versatility within middle of the pitch.

Hayes. who has often times this season changed formation during the game, knows that she can rely on experienced midfielder Guro Reiten – who has been in fine form in this second half of the season.

She’s contributing to goals weekly whether that be through goals or assists, but also she understands Hayes’ system so well that when tactical tweaks have to happen, she slots in seamlessly.

Erin Cuthbert is the same. The Scottish midfielder has been deployed in numerous positions for this Chelsea side and still churns out very high levels of performance.

The tenacity that can be found in this Blues midfield is what separates them from most clubs in the country.

When it comes to winning second balls, defending the first phase of set-pieces and crosses, Cuthbert always seems alert. This is something that is of extreme value especially in the games that are closely contested.

I don’t think much more has to be said on Sam Kerr’s big game record either – both for club and for country.

She constantly scores important goals when it’s needed on the big occasion and it won’t be a surprise to see her do the same this Sunday. Kerr seems to just have a knack for knowing both where to be but more importantly how to put the ball in the back of the net.

What do we know? That it will be an immense showcase of the talent that available in the WSL. Whether that will be from Chelsea retaining their title, or from City once again showing that they’re an extremely difficult team to beat in the FA Cup.

Leicester shocked Chelsea but nobody else with FA Cup win

A new name has been added to the FA Cup winners list for the first time since 2013 as Leicester City toppled Chelsea at Wembley to win the trophy for the first time in their history.

The Foxes hounded the Blues throughout the 90 minutes, bettering them all over the pitch in individual battles before a stunning goal from Youri Tielemans in the second half sealed a memorable day in north-west London.

But while Chelsea were the favourites before the game, the result wasn’t really that shocking and all the credit for that should go to Brendan Rodgers and his players.

Over the course of Rodgers’ time in charge at the King Power Stadium we have seen a meteoric rise in the standard level of what to expect from Leicester.

They won the league in the 2015/16 season completely out of the blue but quickly found themselves back in their normal swing of things the following season, finishing in 12th place. They underwent a few transitions in that time, before bringing Rodgers in a little over two years ago.

Since then it’s just been progression, progression, progression. The former Liverpool and Celtic man has implemented a style of play that sees them take an attacking approach, looking to dominate the game and take it to their opponents.

They move the ball well, create plenty of chances and defensively are sound. But more than that, they’re constantly refreshing the talent in the side with young players that fit the mould of the club.

One of the biggest stand-outs of that recruitment policy is young defender Wesley Fofana, who has been absolutely phenomenal since joining from Saint-Etienne in a £36.5million deal. Many thought the fee was on the high side for a 19-year-old who had played just 30 senior games before he made the move.

But the French defender has been brilliant, showing great ability on the ball as well as leadership qualities and a great reading of the game too go with his heading and tackling abilities. It was a real gem of a find for Leicester’s scouts, to add to the likes of N’Golo Kante, Riyad Mahrez and Jamie Vardy in the past.

Rodgers has found a great blend of experience and youth, partnering Fofana with Jonny Evans in defence while Kasper Schmeichel continues to bark orders from in goal. Youri Tielemans, Wilfred Ndidi and James Maddison are all young but with plenty of experience in midfield, while Vardy is a wily old fox up front doing more than just scoring goals these days

Barring an almighty collapse this week they will add to their FA Cup glory by securing a top four place this season and will play in the Champions League next season.

They’ve already been able to lock up another young talent ahead of the new season, with Lille midfielder Boubakary Soumare ready to come to the Premier League in a £20million deal. With the manager also pledging his future to the club despite reported interested from Tottenham, all signs are positive right now.

Leicester will continue to build a momentous team with the backing of a wonderful owner who cares deeply about the club, fans and community and every bit of success the achieve is well deserved.

A proper club who does things the proper way, don’t be surprised by just how good Leicester are. I’m not.

Kevin De Bruyne injured as Manchester City quadruple bid crumbles

Manchester City saw their quadruple hopes crushed at the weekend after defeat by Chelsea in the FA Cup semi-final, but it was the injury to Kevin De Bruyne that they were most worried about after the game.

Thomas Tuchel’s side were excellent on the night as they completely nullified the City attack and progressed into their fourth FA Cup final in five seasons thanks to a counter-attack goal from Hakim Ziyech.

City struggled to create chances throughout the game and their chances were dealt a hammer blow when main man De Bruyne picked up an ankle injury less than five minutes into the second half and was forced off the pitch.

The Belgian superstar got a knock on the ankle in a challenge and stayed down, immediately signalling for a change to the subs bench.

After the game Pep Guardiola admitted that it “didn’t look good” and that he would undergo a scan in the coming days with fears that if he has suffered ligament damage he could miss the rest of the season.

As if going out in the semi-final of the FA Cup wasn’t enough, the Cityzens are scheduled to take on Tottenham in the Carabao Cup final before a two-legged Champions League semi-final against the scintillating Paris Saint-Germain side.

City were without De Bruyne for a spell earlier in the season and were able to maintain a spectacular winning run, but in recent games he has been the man keeping it all ticking over along with Phil Foden.

Ilkay Gundogan’s purple patch of goalscoring seems to be over, while Raheem Sterling has found himself dropped from the side for the most part due to his stuttering form. Without those or the legendary Sergio Aguero in form, City looked toothless for the most part against Chelsea and could struggle in the final stretch of the season.

With Jose Mourinho almost certain to set his Spurs side up in a defensive way in the cup final and PSG’s best chance of winning coming with a counter-attacking set up in the Champions League the lack of bite they now have in attack could be a problem.

It’s also an issue for Belgium, who will be terrified that they could be without one of their star men ahead of Euro 2020.

Eden Hazard has barely featured for Real Madrid over the last two years which puts his involvement at risk for Belgium, meaning De Bruyne’s role in the team has become even more important. If ankle ligament damage is confirmed, it would leave them with a huge creative conundrum.

City now must prepare themselves for the prospect of being without their main man for the final run in of the season, in their biggest games yet.

Manchester City quadruple run is set – will they do it?

The path is set for Manchester City to make history in English football with an unprecedented quadruple, with Pep Guardiola’s side having the remainder of their season planned out in front of them.

City are still in both domestic cup competitions, top of the Premier League and in the Champions League quarter-finals as we enter April and the squad is performing at a level that has teams beaten before they even step on the pitch to compete.

So will they do it? Could they do it? It’s hard to bet against right now.

The Blues made it to Wembley and booked an FA Cup semi-final with a 2-0 win over Everton at Goodison Park this past weekend, with late goals from Ilkay Gundogan and Kevin De Bruyne enough for them to beat off Carlo Ancelotti’s stubborn side.

It set up a semi-final with Thomas Tuchel’s Chelsea side next month, with the new German coach having a incredible impact since joining the Stamford Bridge side. It will be a tactical battle that the neutral is likely to enjoy, with both teams playing attacking football and not wanting to surrender possession of the football to the opposition.

The winner of that tie will face the winner of the other semi-final, which will consist of Leicester City and Southampton. The Foxes dispatched of Manchester United at the King Power Stadium thanks to a brace from former City striker Kelechi Iheanacho, while the Saints were able to navigate a tricky tie against Championship outfit Bournemouth with a 3-0 win thanks to Nathan Redmond’s double.

City are the favourites for the tournament and so long as they can see off Tuchel’s side, they will win the competition barring a complete collapse of a performance in the final. Beating Tuchel’s side is easier said than done though, with Chelsea having conceded just twice in the 14 games that he’s been in charge and only one of them was scored by an opposition player.

They beat Atletico Madrid home and away in the Champions League and the only dropped points they’ve seen were against Wolves in Tuchel’s first game, Manchester United, Southampton and Leeds. City’s defensive strength has been seen this season too with their own fantastic defensive run, so it’s likely to be a much more tense affair than you’d usually associate with a big game.

In the Carabao Cup, they’ve already set up a final with London rivals Tottenham later next month and with the current goings on at both cups it’s hard to see them not winning that one.

Jose Mourinho is of course always a factor, with his record in domestic cup competitions fantastic everywhere he’s been. But with his Spurs side in disarray after crashing out of the Europa League to Dinamo Zagreb and struggling in the league, it would be a huge shock to see them overcome such a dominant Manchester City side.

In Europe, the task is much harder. Not only because they’ve never won the competition before and have little experience in the latter stages, but also because their path to the cup is littered with tough fixtures.

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In the quarter-finals they have drawn against free-scoring Borussia Dortmund, with the second leg set to be played at Signal Iduna Park. They’ll have to stop the machine that is Erling Haaland, but also the likes of Marco Reus, Jadon Sancho, Thorgan Hazard and young England midfielder Jude Bellingham from shining.

For all Dortmund’s brilliance going forward, they are incredibly open defensively and that is a recipe for disaster against a Guardiola side. With their defensive excellence this season matched with the fact they have goals all over their side, it’s likely that City will be able to find their way through to the semi-finals for just the second time in their history.

There they’ll face the winner of the quarter-final clash between both of last season’s finalists, Bayern Munich and Paris Saint-Germain. The two powerhouses are to battle it out for a place in the semi-final and they’ve all been placed in the same side of the draw – making it a heavyweight affair regardless of which two of the four teams go through.

For all City’s dominance and ability, they’re likely to be underdogs if they come up against Bayern Munich. The Bundesliga champions and current Champions League holders are likely to be a super tough test and they have so far been the benchmark in Europe, winning 19 games in a row in the premier club competition stretching back to last season.

Even if City do manage to progress to the final, they’re sure to face one of Europe’s big boys again barring a shock. Chelsea are due to face off with Porto in the quarter-finals, while Liverpool take on 13-time champions Real Madrid in the other.

If City are to win the quadruple this season, nobody could say they won’t have earned it.

Nobody has ever been closer to winning all four competitions in a season than City are right now, and yet even now they’re still so far away.

Can Manchester United win a trophy with Solskjaer in charge?

It has been almost two years since Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was made permanent manager of Manchester United.

When he arrived as caretaker back in December 2018, he was taking over a side disillusioned with themselves after Jose Mourinho’s approach predictably became toxic.

Solskjaer has done a decent job in stabilising a side that looked like they were in free fall, but questions remain whether the Norwegian can deliver silverware to the club. It has been almost four full seasons without a trophy at Old Trafford and for a club the size of United it has started to become worrying.

After their recent bore draw with Crystal Palace, it had been over four hours since the Reds scored a goal and one win in their last five games. It’s times like this where players sometimes need their manager to provide leadership and guidance in the dressing room.

Solskjaer’s side bounced back though with a huge win over Manchester City at the Etihad Stadium, winning 2-0 thanks to a Bruno Fernandes penalty and a fine Luke Shaw strike either side of half-time. It snapped a 21-game winning streak for their rivals and extended their own unbeaten run away from home to 22 games.

The manager has had enough time now where it’s fair to start judging and criticising him. His hesitation to change personnel decisively is a popular and justifiable complaint from the fanbase.

There have been numerous times where the team have been desperate for a change to freshen things up and Solskjaer has waited until around 70 minutes to make them. Not only will he wait an eternity, but he’ll generally make straight swaps in personnel rather than switching the system or approach. Even more annoying, is he regularly won’t use his full compliment of subs despite the hectic schedule and performances that are taking place.

Manchester City v Manchester United - Premier League : News Photo

Another concerning trend that has developed is United’s shyness in front of goal against the top six. In this campaign they had only scored one goal against them prior to Sunday’s win over City, which came in the 6-1 defeat by Spurs at Old Trafford. When United play these sides, they too often batten down the hatches and retreat into their shell, more afraid to lose than go for the win.

There seems to be a reluctance from some supporters to criticise Solskjaer due to his legendary status at the club.

This has gifted him more time than others would have been afforded in the same circumstances. There has been some positive moments, including the emphasis back on the young and exciting players that the club is known to produce.

United are still second in the league table, which is likely the highest position they can finish barring a huge capitulation from Manchester City. But since when has finishing second place ever been good enough for this club?

The only realistic trophy targets for this season are the FA Cup and Europa League, of which they’re in the quarter finals in both at the time of writing. If United do manage a cup win, it’ll be less to do with Solskjaer’s tactics and more to do with the luck sometimes needed to go on a cup winning run.

Super Man City make it 21 wins in a row with win over Wolves

Manchester City made it a club record 28 games unbeaten and 21 wins in a row with a 4-1 win over Wolves at the Etihad Stadium.

The Blues were dominant against a Wolves side who were on a five game unbeaten game in the league themselves coming into the game and took a 1-0 lead in the first half after great work from Riyad Mahrez forced an own goal from Leander Dendoncker.

Wolves equalised with their first touch in the opposition penalty area from a Conor Coady header, before City turned up the pressure and scored three more times through Riyad Mahrez and a Gabriel Jesus brace.

While the club failed to get a clean sheet for the second consecutive game, they remain comfortably the best defence in the division with only 17 goals conceded in 27 games so far in the league. They also extended their place as the league’s top scorers too, moving to 56 goals scored despite star striker Sergio Aguero having not chipped in at all.

It means 21 wins in a row for the Citizens but the form has been so special at both ends of the pitch. The aggregate score over those games has City winning 55-8, an absolutely incredible number.

Defensively, the form of Joao Cancelo and Ruben Dias has been exceptional while John Stones’ resurgence has seen him back in contention for the national team for the first time in well over a year.

Further up the pitch, Guardiola has been able to count on all of Mahrez, Gundogan, Sterling, Foden, Bernardo Silva and Jesus in recent weeks for goals and assists. When adding to that the return to action of Kevin De Bruyne and Aguero, City seem a formidable outfit not only domestically but also on the continent.

They are now turning their focus to an unprecedented quadruple and it’s a very big possibility looking at the way the season is set up right now. They face a maximum of 21 games remaining and with one of those games being the Carabao Cup final against Tottenham and with the current gap at the top of the league being almost insurmountable, they can really prioritise the Champions League and FA Cup if they want to.

The games coming thick and fast across the season have allowed Guardiola to rotate and get his entire squad firing whenever called upon, rather than having some players going several weeks without a game.

The likes of Kyle Walker haven’t seen the amount of games they usually would but because of the schedule have still been able to fit in at least one game a week for the most part – meaning his sharpness is at the same level it usually would be and performances stay consistent.

The same can be said for the attacking players and while nobody is hitting the high numbers that are usually associated with a Guardiola attack, the goals are being evenly shared out among the squad.

Manchester City v Wolverhampton Wanderers - Premier League : News Photo

Last season Raheem Sterling got 31 goals on his own in all competitions as the club’s top scorer. This year he is currently sat on 13, joint highest with Ilkay Gundogan – who is having the best scoring season of his City career. Four other players have eight or more goals and 19 players in total have scored for the first team this season as part of their tally of 91 so far. Last season, only 16 players scored their tally of 149 goals in all competitions.

Despite some phenomenal teams in recent years, including the Centurions of three seasons ago, Manchester City now are in the best position they’ve ever been in to win the lot.

They’re comfortably the best team in the country and you can easily make a case for them being the best in Europe. So long as they haven’t peaked too early, which is possible but seems unlikely at this point, it will take something special to stop them right now.

Dominic Calvert-Lewin back firing for Everton after Lucas Digne’s return

Everton’s frantic cup tie with Tottenham saw them progress into the quarter-final of the competition with a 5-4 win after extra-time, in part thanks to Dominic Calvert-Lewin once again.

In an absolutely crazy game of football, Jose Mourinho’s team took the lead early on thanks to Davinson Sanchez’s header from a corner. They dominated most of the first half until Calvert-Lewin picked up on an error at the back and smashed past Hugo Lloris for his third goal in three games. Minutes later, Richarlison scored a low drive from the edge of the box to put Everton ahead before Gylfi Sigurdsson scored a penalty to make it 3-3 just two minutes after that.

Erik Lamela was able to pull one back for Spurs just before half-time with a fine left footed strike from inside the box to make it 3-2. Sanchez got his second of the game with a tap in from another corner to make it 3-3 in the second half, before Richarlison scored again to make it 4-3 and then substitute Harry Kane equalised late on to send the game to extra time.

Everton retook the lead in extra-time thanks to Brazilian winger Bernard’s strike and it ended up being enough to seal progression into the next round for the Toffees.

Calvert-Lewin went off injured in the middle of the second half as a precaution but his performance particularly in the spell where Everton ran away with the game was very impressive.

Physically he is a unit, but he has a delicate first touch, great speed and is a very good finisher once in on goal whether it be with his feet or his head.

But recently he had been going through a tough patch in front of goal. He scored just once in eight games between the end of November and end of January, which just so happened to coincide with the absence of Lucas Digne at full-back.

The French left-back picked up an injury following the 3-2 win over Fulham in November, where he got two assists and Calvert-Lewin scored twice. He wouldn’t make his return to action for Everton until a cup game in January against Rotherham and wouldn’t share the pitch with the striker until the 27th of January.

In that time, Calvert-Lewin would score just twice. He equalised for the Blues in the 1-1 draw with Burnley before a six game drought that ended with a goal against Championship side Sheffield Wednesday.

Since getting back on the pitch together, the 23-year-old forward has scored in each of his last three games now and looks set to get back on the track that saw him earn his England debut earlier this season.

He’s already matched his total for Premier League goals from last season and has already surpassed his best goalscoring season for all competitions too. He is en route for a 25 goal season in all competitions, which should be more than enough to secure him a place on the plane for Euro 2020.

The return to action of Digne and the return of form of Calvert-Lewin coinciding with each other isn’t a coincidence and Everton couldn’t be happier. They’re still in the race for top four with a game in hand and are now in the last eight of a cup competition.

With his mid-season dip seemingly over with and Digne back and flying again, Everton are gearing up for a great end to their season.

Will Gabriel Jesus ever be good enough to lead the line for Manchester City?

With Sergio Aguero’s Manchester City career on pause right now, all eyes have been on Gabriel Jesus in a blue shirt.

The Brazilian forward has been tasked with leading the line in Aguero’s absence, with the club’s all-time top goalscorer leaving big shoes to fill while he’s been out with injury. The Argentine hasn’t scored a league goal for the club since January 2020 and has made just five appearances so far this season for a number of reasons.

Jesus has struggled to take his chance though, with manager Pep Guardiola often leaving him out entirely and opting for a makeshift system with no natural striker.

He started in Wednesday’s FA Cup win over Swansea, scoring his 76th goal in 174 games for the club in a 3-1 win to see them through to the quarter-finals once again.

While his record on paper looks relatively good for someone who’s been a back-up player for the majority of his tenure at the club, but when you break it down some more you start to realise that it’s probably not as good as it seems.

16 of those goals have come in domestic cup competitions, while 15 have come in the Champions League. Even of those 15 in the Champions League, only four have come outside of the group stages and none beyond the last 16.

He seems to be a bit of a flat-track bully when it comes to goalscoring, but that doesn’t make him a bad player. He’s got excellent movement, a great first touch, good hold up play, fantastic link play with his midfielders and is a good finisher when he gets into those positions.

But he doesn’t have that nose for goal that the elite strikers do. During his time at Palmeiras and even now for the Brazilian national team, Jesus gets fielded out wide with the license to drift in-field and link up with the other attacking players.

His long-term future at City shouldn’t be at risk because he’s more than good enough to be a part of the squad and perform well in certain games, but he can’t be relied upon to be the main source of goals for the team.

With the way Guardiola sets his teams up, they are sure to score goals throughout the campaign. But having that one man you can rely on in a tight game is key for all the top sides in the history of the game.

Jesus isn’t that guy and probably never will be, so don’t be shocked to see City go big on a striker this summer with Aguero almost certainly finished at the highest level in a sky blue shirt.

Manchester United through to FA Cup quarter-finals despite poor display

It was a dismal affair that lasted 120 minutes, but Manchester United came away with a win over West Ham to progress to a record seventh consecutive FA Cup quarter-final thanks to a Scott McTominay goal.

The two sides cancelled each other out in 90 minutes, with Marcus Rashford missing arguably the best chance of the game in the second half when Lukasz Fabianski denied him from close range.

With United pushing for a winner in extra-time it finally came after a counter-attack and with the ball headed to Rashford by Thomas Soucek, the England man laid it off for an on-rushing McTominay to blast into the net for his seventh goal of the season.

United saw out the rest of the tie relatively comfortably and will be in the last eight of the competition once again.

It was another decent performance from the Scot, who has found some good form in recent weeks and has now matched Anthony Martial’s tally for the season.

It seems to be a new role for McTominay, with Solskjaer seemingly letting off the leash a little bit more and allowing him to break closer to the box more often. Being allowed to use his engine more and being closer to the box has seen him be able to use his great ball striking technique to greater effect too.

Defensively, McTominay is still a bit shifty. He isn’t the greatest when it comes to reading the game and often waits for far too long to close the opposition down or engage in a tackle. His skillset seems more accustomed to a box-to-box role rather than the holding midfield role we have seen him deployed in more often than not.

Fred had an absolute stinker in midfield during the game, with his pressing completely off and often misplacing passes that should have been relatively simple to complete. It was a real wonder that he was kept on the pitch for 90 minutes, as it was Nemanja Matic who was replaced as United chased the game.

Another disappointing performer was Donny Van de Beek, who got a rare start in the number ten role with Bruno Fernandes rested.

The Dutchman really struggled to stamp any sort of authority on the game and despite picking up some decent positions, he doesn’t have the aura around him that Fernandes does to demand the ball from his teammates.

Manchester United v West Ham United: The Emirates FA Cup Fifth Round : News Photo

It meant that he was often bypassed for the safer pass and meant his impact was minimal. He was substituted at the same time as Matic, with Fernandes coming on and instantly the team began to move the ball quicker and into more dangerous areas.

There was almost a feeling of a lack of trust between Van de Beek and his fellow teammates, whereas Fernandes has seemingly earned the status in the side that the team believe he can make something happen at any point and thus give him the ball no matter what.

With Paul Pogba out injured for the next few weeks with a thigh problem, this was the former Ajax man’s chance to stake his claim for a more regular spot but instead he showed many why Solskjaer’s decision to leave him out is justified right now.

Despite the poor performance, in a cup competition the result is always more important and progression to the next round is now secured. The Reds will travel to the Hawthorns on Sunday to take on West Brom and can expect a similar type of game, with their opponents likely to sit deep and defend for their lives.

United will need to be better than they were in this game if they want to break Sam Allardyce’s men down in that game and keep as close to Manchester City as they possibly can in the title race.

Manchester United show progress with win over Liverpool

Just a week after holding the champions to a draw at Anfield, Manchester United went toe to toe with Liverpool and came out on top with a 3-2 win in the FA Cup.

The Red Devils came from behind after Mohamed Salah opened the scoring thanks to goals from Mason Greenwood and Marcus Rashford to take the lead. Salah equalised for Jurgen Klopp’s side before substitute Bruno Fernandes smashed a free-kick in late on to seal progression for United into the next round.

It was a change of tact and intention from Solskjaer and one that worked in their favour, as they showed they can attack the top teams and do damage.

United’s big game form this season has been questionable, having failed to beat any of the other members of the ‘big six’ and having scored just one goal in games against them before this game.

Solskjaer had often opted for a pairing of Scott McTominay and Fred in midfield previously, looking to play on the counter attack while ensuring they didn’t lose with extra defensive protection. However against Liverpool, McTominay was paired with Paul Pogba and Solskjaer played with three attacking players behind the striker. He was going for it.

It was a pretty good display overall too, with many players putting in top performances all over the pitch.

In the past with United’s setup, when Salah opened the scoring the Reds would have been in trouble. They wouldn’t have had much creativity and would have been occupying ten yards deeper than normal. But with this front-foot approach, United were always in the game.

It showed progress in the mentality of the club right now, they now believe they can win these games and compete with the top teams.

A cup tie is different to a league game and if the mentality is carried into games in the future it will be a bigger sign that the mentality has shifted. But the performance was encouraging enough that it should definitely be considered for the upcoming fixtures.

The counter attack was still a threat, as seen with Greenwood and Rashford’s goals, but they created enough openings from keeping possession in the middle third and shifting side to side, as well as overlapping full-backs.

Solskjaer has got his side attacking well, defending well and competing in games against the big sides as well as sitting at the top of the Premier League. The only thing missing now, is a trophy.