Bailly will add steel to United

OGS hopes de­fender shores up rear­guard

Bangkok Post - - SPORTS - REUTERS/AFP

LON­DON: Ole Gun­nar Sol­sk­jaer is hop­ing the re­turn of Eric Bailly will shore up Manch­ester United’s leaky de­fence af­ter they shipped three goals in their Premier League opener against Crys­tal Palace last week.

United’s cen­tre-back part­ner­ship of Harry Maguire and Vic­tor Lin­de­lof came un­der fire fol­low­ing their dis­play against Palace, with the 3-1 de­feat high­light­ing the club’s need for a more dy­namic pres­ence in the heart of the de­fence.

A knee in­jury lim­ited Bailly to 11 ap­pear­ances last sea­son but the Ivo­rian looked as­sured in United’s 3-0 vic­tory against Lu­ton Town in the League Cup on Tues­day.

“Eric is fit again, a big big plus and look­ing for­ward to see­ing him de­velop and play more games. We’ve been wait­ing him to be fit and play more reg­u­larly,” Sol­sk­jaer told re­porters ahead of today’s trip to Brighton.

“I think last sea­son proved to us how we can de­fend at our best. Last week wasn’t fan­tas­tic, we con­ceded sloppy goals. But I think our de­fen­sive record from last sea­son with Eric and Harry shows how good a part­ner­ship they were.”

Today’s game will be the first of a dou­ble header against Brighton, with United set to visit the Amex Sta­dium for their League Cup fourth-round tie next week.

“We have to take it one game at a time, the Premier League first and all our fo­cus is on that,” Sol­sk­jaer said.

The Red Devils des­per­ately need three points at Brighton but the Seag­ulls have shown enough in their open­ing two games to sug­gest United face a far tougher test than when they won 3-0 on the south coast in June.

Brighton lost 3-1 to Chelsea on the open­ing week­end but bounced back with a com­pre­hen­sive 3-0 win at New­cas­tle.

UN­LUCKY 13

Manch­ester City boss Pep Guardi­ola claims to have just 13 fit se­nior play­ers for to­mor­row’s Premier League clash with Le­ices­ter.

Ser­gio Aguero, Bernardo Silva, Joao Cancelo and Olek­sandr Zinchenko have been side­lined by in­jury, while Ilkay Gun­do­gan has tested pos­i­tive for coronaviru­s and Aymeric La­porte’s pre-sea­son was also de­layed when he con­tracted Covid-19.

Guardi­ola turned to youth for Thurs­day’s 2-1 League Cup vic­tory over Bournemout­h and ex­pects to have to call on the club’s acad­emy re­sources again.

“The sit­u­a­tion we have right now, we have just 13 play­ers avail­able in the first team,” said Guardi­ola. “We need the acad­emy, not just for the train­ing ses­sions. They can be se­lected dur­ing the games.”

CON­FI­DENT ARSE­NAL

Mikel Arteta be­lieves cham­pi­ons Liver­pool are get­ting “bet­ter and bet­ter” but says Arse­nal must go to An­field believ­ing they can win af­ter two straight vic­to­ries against Juer­gen Klopp’s men on Mon­day.

“We know the stan­dards they have set in this league, how con­sis­tent they have been and that’s be­cause they dom­i­nate al­most ev­ery as­pect of the game,” Arse­nal boss Arteta said yes­ter­day.

“So we need to be at our best, we need to com­pete re­ally well against this team and hope­fully the boys are ready to do that on Mon­day.

“They have fewer weak­nesses. They are a fan­tas­tic side.”

Arteta said it was eas­ier to play at an empty An­field than in front of Liver­pool’s pas­sion­ate sup­port­ers but pointed out that Klopp’s side were in fine form.

FIX­TURES

(kick-offs Thai time)

Today

Brighton v Manch­ester United (6.30pm), Crys­tal Palace v Ever­ton (9pm), West Brom v Chelsea (11.30pm), Burn­ley v Southamp­ton (2am, Sun) To­mor­row

Sh­effield United v Leeds (6pm), Tot­ten­ham v New­cas­tle (8pm), Manch­ester City v Le­ices­ter (10.30pm), West Ham v Wolves (1am, Mon)

Mon­day

Ful­ham v As­ton Villa (11.45pm), Liver­pool v Arse­nal (2am, Tue)

STAND­INGS

REUTERS

Manch­ester United’s Eric Bailly, left, in ac­tion against Lu­ton in the League Cup.

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