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Hits and misses: Sancho shines in No 10 role

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Hits and misses: Sancho shines in No 10 role thumbnail

Sancho shines in No 10 role

Manchester United's Jadon Sancho celebrates

Manchester United’s Jadon Sancho celebrates

Jadon Sancho has never really found his position at Manchester United.

He was heralded as the man to bring balance to United’s attack and run defences ragged with his pace down the right wing. After a lengthy pursuit which culminated in United paying Borussia Dortmund £73m for his signature, it became clear that wasn’t going to be the case.

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Sancho’s talent is unquestionable, but misunderstood. He thrives on the inside in small pockets of space and has a knack of threading those eye of the needle passes to split a defence. He doesn’t, though, have that same rapid pace that allows Marcus Rashford to motor away from defenders out wide. The 22-year-old’s quickness comes from his speed of thought.

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FREE TO WATCH: Highlights from Manchester United’s win against Leicester in the Premier League

It was a welcome surprise, then, that Erik ten Hag brought Sancho on in a No 10 role against Leicester on Sunday and shuffled his attacking pack to move the forward into a central area behind the striker. As was evidenced in his goal, Sancho thrives in a transition and can be so much more deadly through the middle.

Sancho’s time away from the first team has given him a chance to catch his breath having arrived at Old Trafford at a turbulent time for the club with the weight of the world on his shoulders. In Erik ten Hag, Sancho has a manager that he can trust. The results are clear: Sancho has already surpassed his goals tally from last season in 16 games fewer and scored two in four since his return.

Jadon Sancho celebrates after scoring Manchester United's third goal against Leicester

Jadon Sancho celebrates after scoring Manchester United’s third goal against Leicester

The Dutchman’s fluid forward line suits Sancho and can see him rotate across all three positions behind the striker, but the No 10 might just the one that works best for him.
Zinny Boswell

Leicester show they can cause Arsenal problems

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Leicester manager Brendan Rodgers reflects on his side’s 3-0 defeat at Manchester United and says he was disappointed with the way they let the game get away from them

There were 45 attempts on goal in this game, the most in any Premier League encounter this season, and Leicester – especially in the opening period – played their part.

The 3-0 scoreline flattered Manchester United, and had Marcel Sabitzer been shown a red card for a raking challenge on Wout Faes before the interval, Erik ten Hag would have had a problem to solve.

Brendan Rodgers rued profligate finishing for his side’s defeat at Old Trafford, and had both Kelechi Iheanacho and Harvey Barnes taken those first-half chances, the Foxes might well have been reflecting on a third straight win.

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Rodgers told Sky Sports: “It was a disappointing result in the end. I thought in the first half we were excellent. We created the best opportunities and we looked a real threat.

  • Rashford: I don’t feel like slowing down | Ten Hag: New contract a priority
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“Today it just wasn’t to be but we created chances and if we could have taken one or two of those in the first half, it would have been a different game.

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Graeme Souness believes Marcel Sabitzer was lucky to still be on the field after only picking up a yellow card for his tackle on Leicester defender Wout Faes

“We’ve taken six points from nine in what were three tough games. Now we go back home again and we’ve got a tough game against Arsenal but the supporters will be right up for it. We’ll be getting ready for that but it should be another great day hopefully for us.”

Scoring goals hasn’t been a problem until now for Rodgers’ side, but he will want his defence to tighten up with 10 conceded in their last five Premier League games, one more than in their previous 11 matches beforehand. In fact, only Bournemouth (44) have conceded more goals than the Foxes in the Premier League this season (41).

Arsenal too were made to look vulnerable defensively at times by Aston Villa, and with James Maddison still producing flashes of brilliance on Sunday, Mikel Arteta can expect another very tough assignment next weekend.
Ben Grounds

Moyes should regret lack of ambition in north London

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FREE TO WATCH: Highlights from Tottenham’s win against West Ham in the Premier League

West Ham have spent more than £50m on new strikers this season yet still found themselves starting Michail Antonio – now nearly 33 and with just two Premier League goals to his name this season – as their lone front man.

Admittedly Gianluca Scamacca was only fit enough for the bench after a knee injury, but the continued reluctance to start £15m January signing Danny Ings is curious.

  • Tottenham 2-0 West Ham – match report and highlights
  • How the teams lined up | Match stats

The former Aston Villa striker was only called upon at Tottenham once the hosts had gone two goals ahead, and even then he came on in place of Antonio, rather than to partner him up front.

Antonio recorded no shots, no touches in the box and just two final-third entries during his 72 minutes of action, and his performance was indicative of a West Ham side that showed very little ambition.

The approach was strange given Spurs had only three wins in their last seven games, and the hosts’ tepid first-half display may leave Moyes with regrets that he did not instruct his side to show more ambition against their London rivals.
Joe Shread

Skipp’s impressive display eases Bentancur fears

Tottenham's Oliver Skipp during the quarter final English League Cup soccer match between Tottenham Hotspur and West Ham at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in London, England, Wednesday, Dec. 22, 2021. (AP Photo/Rui Vieira)..

Oliver Skipp impressed for Tottenham against West Ham

One of Tottenham’s top performers this season has been Rodrigo Bentancur, so when it was confirmed the midfielder would miss the rest of the season due to a knee injury it was a huge blow.

Step forward Oliver Skipp.

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The 22-year-old shined in the 2-0 home win over West Ham in a performance that backed up his impressive display against AC Milan in midweek to give Spurs hope they can cope without Bentancur.

Despite picking up a ninth-minute yellow card against the Hammers, Skipp showed real maturity and kept a cool head in a feisty London derby to help win the midfield battle for Spurs.

He made the joint-most tackles (4) and won the joint-most duels (8) for Spurs as he combined his combativeness with some neat passing and clever play to drive the team forward.

Such a tidy and composed display earned praise from Spurs stand-in boss Cristian Stellini.

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Cristian Stellini could not understand why Tottenham were not awarded a penalty during their 2-0 win against West Ham

“When Skipp is in confidence he’s a young player with a great mind,” the Italian said in his post-match press conference.
“Skippy is an intelligent player for that it seems older than his age.

“We had to wait for the right moment. He’s a young player that needs confidence, needs to feel everything is perfect around him and he needs to play.

“We can give him all the love we can, but he needs to play and to stay in confidence.”

Skipp will certainly take much confidence from his performance against West Ham – and the standing ovation he received from the Spurs fans when taken off late on will give him and Tottenham fans real belief that he has the quality to step up in Bentancur’s absence.
Declan Olley

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