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Thursday, 13 December, 2018

Man United man forcing his way into England's World Cup reckoning

West Ham strife hurting team

Manchester United's Ashley Young
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Five things we learned from the weekend

1 Ashley Young could be a boost for Southgate
Marcus Rashford grabbed the headlines after scoring twice for Manchester United in their 2-1 win over Liverpool but the man who played behind him on the left at Old Trafford also deserves his share of the praise.

Ashley Young as a full-back in a Jose Mourinho team does not immediately spring to mind as a marriage made in heaven, yet at 32 he seems to have reinvented himself to such an extent the World Cup could well be calling for the former winger.

Gareth Southgate seems intent on using a three-man defence in Russia next summer and Young is definitely a wing-back option given he still knows how to perform the attacking part of the role as well as learning a new trade defensively.

Young nullified Mohamed Salah better than most this season to put him firmly in the England reckoning.

2 Unhappy Hammers causing problems
They may well be fighting a good fight against unlikeable owners but the friction between the West Ham supporters and club board went too far during the Hammers' 3-0 defeat to Burnley.

There was still plenty of time for West Ham to get something from the game after Ashley Barnes broke the deadlock with 24 minutes remaining but West Ham's players understandably lost focus once fans started coming on to the pitch.

West Ham's next two home matches are against direct relegation rivals in Southampton and Stoke and they need the fans back onside.

3 Mitrovic magic aiding Fulham
It was clear for some time that Fulham needed a goalscorer and they seem to have found the perfect centre-forward in on-loan Newcastle man Aleksandar Mitrovic.

The Serbian striker continues to make a major impact for the Sky Bet Championship promotion hopefuls, scoring seven times in his last five matches, including a double at Preston on Saturday.

Mitrovic is not bagging cheap goals either, notching the crucial opener in four of those outings.

Sky Bet Championship standings

4 Rochdale can win relegation fight
According to shot statistics and expected goal ratings there is no way Rochdale should even be in a relegation battle but they are finally beginning to pick up points as well as plaudits for their performances.

Keith Hill's men fully deserved their 1-0 triumph at in-form Rotherham and Millers manager Paul Warne was full of praise for the 22nd-placed visitors.

Warne told the Yorkshire Post: "I think we came up against an excellent team. I think their position in the league doesn’t say how good they are really. Me and Richie Barker watched them in midweek and we knew what a formidable team they were."

If Rochdale do slip out of the division, get them on the shortlist for League Two next season. They have a young squad who have been handicapped by a run to the FA Cup fifth round but those two ties with Tottenham will significantly boost the coffers.

Sky Bet League One standings

5 Hatters have idled in front
Bookmakers, punters and possibly even Luton's players have taken it for granted for some time that they would stroll League Two having led for so long but Accrington jumped above them thanks to a 2-1 victory at Kenilworth Road on Saturday.

Recent performances from the Hatters have been below par and it will be interesting to see whether that shock will result in a positive response, starting with Tuesday's tricky trip to Coventry.

Sky Bet League Two standings

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Young nullified Mohamed Salah better than most this season to put him firmly in the England reckoning
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