Phil Jones can be Manchester United's ideal centre-back, says Jose Mourinho

Simon Peach 28/08/2017
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Phil Jones can be Jose Mourinho’s ideal centre-back at Manchester United, provided he stays fit.

The 25-year-old has started the new Premier League campaign alongside Eric Bailly at the heart of a United defence that is yet to concede a goal in their three opening victories.

Jones was brought to Old Trafford by Sir Alex Ferguson as a teenager in 2011 and two years later the Scot declared he “could be our best ever player”, but a spate of injuries and uncertainty over his best role have ensured he is yet to get anywhere near such lofty predictions.

The fitness concerns remain ahead of Jones linking up with the England squad, though Mourinho is confident he has all the attributes to thrive as a centre-back.

“He’s potentially a very good player,” Mourinho said.

“He’s still young. He’s still in a learning age but for years and years and years he was injury-prone.

“He has a problem now. He’s complaining about an ankle problem so he’s the kind of player where we need to have him always in our hands with a lot of care from the medical department, from the fitness coach, from my assistants, in the gym, working always on prevention, on recovery.

“If we manage to have him safe and protected from injuries, I think potentially he’s everything I like in a central defender.”

That was the area of the field Mourinho first addressed when the transfer window reopened this summer as he recruited Benfica’s Victor Lindelof.

The Swede, yet to appear for United in the league and missing from two of the matchday squads, has been promised an outing alongside Chris Smalling against Basle in the Champions League next month due to Jones and Bailly’s suspensions.

“Smalling is in very good condition and Victor is improving every day,” Mourinho declared.

“Against Basel, Jones and Eric are both suspended so we will play Victor and Smalling and there will be no problem at all.

“The squad is good and the mentality of the players is very good.”

United have enjoyed a perfect start to the new term, winning three from three, scoring 10 and not conceding in the process.

Continuing in that manner is now the challenge for Mourinho, whose team have seven fixtures in 22 days upon their return from the international break.

“If I have one week to prepare a match, my team is always very good because you have time to organise a week of work, going through every item of the game,” Mourinho said.

“When you start playing every two, three days, it’s more based on what you build during pre-season. From now, (there are) no more clean weeks, from now every week has a midweek match until the moment we are out of one of the cups.

“Now my team is also the mirror of the work we are doing in clean weeks where we can train five days and close to every item of the game-plan.”

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Liverpool duo Roberto Firmino, Sadio Mane score vs Arsenal again - Seven deadly stats from 4-0 win

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Liverpool and Arsenal have thrown up goal-laden fixtures in the past, and this was no different – although this time, the goals were entirely on one side, as Liverpool shredded the Arsenal defence in a 4-0 win.

It was yet another disappointing display for Arsenal in an away game against one of the rest of the top six, especially at Anfield, while for Liverpool it was another fearsome display against a rival.

Here are seven deadly stats from the game:

FIRMINO AND MANE TORTURE ARSENAL AGAIN

Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mane came into this game looking to extend prolific records against Arsenal – for both, the Gunners are something of a favourite opponent. And the duo duly obliged.

MANE’S HOT START CONTINUES

 Before Sunday, only two Liverpool players had scored in the first three matches of a Premier League season. But what with Mane’s hot start to the season and his love for scoring against Arsenal, it was always likely that the Senegalese would join Daniel Sturridge and Reds legend Robbie Fowler on that list.

LIVERPOOL’S LIGHTNING-QUICK COUNTER

Arsenal took to the second half looking for an early goal that would reduce their deficit and give them a fighting chance to take something from the game. They ramped up the attacking pressure and earned a corner. Twelve seconds later, the ball was in the back of the net. Their own net.

CAN STARS AS ATTACKERS RUN RIOT

Emre Can starred for Liverpool during their Champions League qualifier against Hoffenheim, and although he didn’t find the back of the net against Arsenal, he did just about everything else in a brilliant performance. The German pulled the strings and ensured Liverpool controlled the midfield, letting the front three run riot.

ARSENAL’S AWAY DAY BLUES VS TOP 6 CONTINUE…

Arsenal have notoriously struggled on their travels against the rest of the teams that finished in the top six last year, with their last win coming against Manchester City in 2015. Since then, it’s been only misery for Arsene Wenger’s side against the rest of the Premier League’s big guns.

…ESPECIALLY AGAINST LIVERPOOL

The Gunners especially don’t like travelling to Anfield. Liverpool are developing a tendency of sweeping Arsenal aside with the Anfield crowd in full voice, and Sunday was just a continuation of the trend. 

RELEGATION FORM AT THE BACK?

Only one team has faced more shots on target in the Premier League in 2017 than Arsenal – and that team is no longer in the Premier League: Sunderland. 

The Gunners have allowed 120 shots on target this year, which is simply not good enough form at the back to sustain a challenge for the top six, let alone the top four or the title. If they’re serious about returning to the Champions League next season, they should start by cutting out the shots. 

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'This is not my Arsenal' - Fans react to Liverpool humiliation at Anfield

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Arsenal’s early-season problems mounted at Anfield on Sunday after they were condemned to a miserable 4-0 defeat by Jurgen Klopp’s rampant Liverpool.

Not even the return of Alexis Sanchez could inspire Arsene Wenger’s side as they fell to goals from Roberto Firmino, Sadio Mane, Mohamed Salah and Daniel Sturridge.

Arsenal fans have understandably been left distraught with the performance and plenty took to Twitter to react to it.

Here are some of the best tweets that portray the emotions of the North London side’s supporters.

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