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Premier League

The Warm-Up: Bruno Fernandes, the Portuguese wizard

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Bruno Fernandes celebrates

Image credit: Getty Images

ByBen Snowball
01/07/2020 at 07:14 | Updated 01/07/2020 at 09:47
@BenSnowball

Erm… Manchester United are good again.

WEDNESDAY’S BIG STORIES

Man Utd are good?!

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Ole Gunnar Solskjaer: A foul on Bruno Fernandes for Man Utd's penalty

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New challengers have emerged in the race to finish second behind Liverpool in next season’s Premier League. And it’s all thanks to one man. Nope, not you, Ole.

For so long under Solskjaer, Manchester United would wait… wait some more… bit more waiting… wait for it… then WHAM. Hoof. Counter. Occasional goal. It was all so predictable until a Portuguese magician touched down in the North West.

Bruno Fernandes has many qualities, the greatest being his ability to elevate those around him. United can suddenly keep the ball. They don’t lose any more. Anthony Martial is a ruthless No.9. David De Gea can catch again. Paul Pogba is injury-free.

Some credit must go to Solskjaer, whose decision to recruit players who actually want to play for United – a simple but sadly necessary approach – has given the fans a team they can get behind. And with Fernandes, they’re now actually pretty tasty.

Mason Greenwood (barely an adult) and Marcus Rashford (feeder of the nation) are superb outlets on the flanks, Aaron Wan-Bissaka has realised he can venture beyond the halfway line and Harry Maguire looks at least half of his £80 million price tag.

With Chelsea still requiring defensive reinforcements and Manchester City’s future unclear, United could be our best hope of forcing a title challenge next season. Which means we might as well congratulate Liverpool now.

Arsenal do the devil's work

Just when you thought Arsenal were the biggest pushovers in football, they perform the ultimate act of s***housery.

Saint-Etienne have released a gloriously scathing statement blaming the Gunners for stopping the on-loan William Saliba playing in the French Cup final. In an article titled 'William Saliba deprived of the final by Arsenal', they don’t hold back…

"AS Saint-Etienne was pleased to learn yesterday (Tuesday) that Mikel Arteta, Arsenal coach, was ready to leave William Saliba at the disposal of the club until the final of the Coupe de France, on July 24," it read.

"William Saliba had been training for several days with Claude Puel's group and was obviously very enthusiastic about the idea of ​​finishing his course in Green with such a match.

Alas, ASSE, which simply wanted the extension of the initial loan until July 24, could not find an agreement in the evening with Arsenal to allow the defender to properly prepare and play this meeting, the English club imposing absolutely unacceptable sports and financial conditions.

Minutes after the Warm-Up clicked publish, Arsenal released a statement of their own, hinting that they were being asked to make some kind of financial payment - with reports on Twitter suggesting it was around €2.5 million.

"As William is returning from injury, we asked that St Etienne follow a clear training plan with William in close collaboration with us, to ensure he is fully fit for the start of next season," the club said.

"To our surprise we were unable to reach agreement to this plan which was proposed by our medical experts, and we are simply not prepared to risk the welfare of an Arsenal player.

"While it was not our primary concern, and ultimately not relevant as our training plan was not accepted, we also expected not to be financially disadvantaged by extending the loan. This was also not acceptable to Saint-Etienne."

And in other major news at the Emirates, Bukayo Saka is reportedly putting the “finishing touches” on a long-term contract. We look forward to seeing how Arsenal ruin him and Saliba.

William Saliba (Saint-Etienne)

Image credit: Getty Images

In-Sane bargain

Bayern Munich’s Frugal Society has struck again. Fresh from failing to agree a £100 million deal last summer, the Bundesliga champions have now picked up Leroy Sane for a very affordable, erm, £55 million. And it could be even less than that if he fails to activate certain add-ons.

It certainly boosts Ed Woodward's hopes of signing Jadon Sancho for £50 million...

HEROES AND ZEROES

Hero: Lionel Messi

He may have cut a figure of frustration after Barcelona’s 2-2 draw with Atletico Madrid – just a hint, but maybe listen to the manager’s instructions next time – but 700 career goals is still a tremendous achievement.

And to achieve it with a Panenka? Saucy.

Zero: Quique Setien

For introducing €120million signing Antoine Griezmann in the 90th minute of a must-win match, then having the cheek to say this in his post-match address:

It's difficult to put Griezmann on without destabilizing the team.

Actually, we understand why you ignored him, Lionel…

IN THE CHANNELS

The sequel to Steve McClaren: England v Iceland.

RETRO CORNER

Now Manchester United fans are dreaming on new legends at Old Trafford, let's take one final look back at Sir Alex's Old Trafford farewell.

COMING UP

It’s Wild Wednesday as FOUR Premier League matches are served up. Bournemouth v Newcastle, Arsenal v Norwich and Everton v Leicester get us started at 6pm, then West Ham get pumped by Chelsea in the 8:15pm kick-off.

If that's not too much excitement, Andi Thomas will be here tomorrow with all the gossip from West Ham 1-8 Chelsea.

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