Mourinho confirms Man United trio available for Manchester Derby

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Jose Mourinho will be able to call on Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Phil Jones and Nemanja Matic for this weekend’s “special” Manchester derby.

Old Trafford hosts the most hotly-anticipated match of the Premier League season as Pep Guardiola‘s swashbuckling side attempt to extend their lead at the summit to double digits.

United are desperate to cut back Manchester City‘s eight-point advantage on Sunday, when their chances are bolstered by the timely return of three key players – and perhaps also Marouane Fellaini.

“Zlatan is available, Jones is available,” Mourinho said. “Fellaini I have to wait until tomorrow.

“(Michael) Carrick is not available, (Eric) Bailly is not available. (Nemanja) Matic is injured but he plays.”

Such options are a welcome boost given star turn Paul Pogba starts a three-match ban.

Earlier this week the France midfielder conceded this was a must-win game for United and, while not necessarily believing the champions will come from Manchester, Mourinho is aware of its importance to the city.

“No, I think we can but I think other teams can be champions,” Mourinho said of the title credentials of the Manchester clubs.

Paul Pogba 1

“I live a little bit isolated from society, I don’t feel it so much (the rivalry). It’s about training ground and hotel, my day off after CSKA (Moscow) I went home.

“So I really don’t have that communication, but I don’t need that to know a derby is something special for the people.

“For us, in the end, it’s three points but honestly I think for the people born in the city and feeling the colours in that good, positive rivalry, I think it is a special match.”

Mourinho was curt on the whole in the pre-match press conference, but opened up when asked about the impact of the clubs on a city brought together by May’s terror attack.

“These are the beautiful things that football can do,” Mourinho said.

“We could fill in that period that the clubs were ready to work together for the city. That’s no doubt.

“It would be really sad if that was not the case.

“Now, this is a football match, an important football match where I wish that everything goes well in relation to the fans.

“I think if taken in the right way, the derbies are a beautiful thing – same city, different colours.

“Friends they support different colours, even under the same roof. In some families they disagree on the passion for the colours.

“I think if taken in the right way, I think it is a beautiful thing.

“So I hope that tomorrow, before the game you have a city full of colour, red and blue, and after the game, the same and during the game that’s a football match where everyone wants to win.”

Guardiola has suggested United’s height advantage and physicality could be an advantage, but Mourinho laughed that off.

“I think it will be easy for (Vincent) Kompany to compete against (Juan) Mata in the air,” he said bluntly as the press conference came to a close. 

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Man United target Rose says talk of a rift with Pochettino is 'silly'

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Danny Rose has rubbished talk of a rift with manager Mauricio Pochettino.

Tottenham defender Danny Rose has played down fresh talk of a rift with manager Mauricio Pochettino, calling for an end to “silly” rumours after he was substituted against Apoel Nicosia.

The England player was taken off in the 70th minute at Wembley on Wednesday after a tussle with Roland Sallai left him needing stitches around the top of his left eye.

After returning from nine months out with injury in October, Rose is desperate to regain fitness and he reacted to his withdrawal by disappearing straight down the tunnel but re-emerged soon after to take his place on the bench.

Rose, linked with a move to Manchester United, was fined by Tottenham in the close-season and forced to apologise for an interview in which he criticised the club’s wage structure and hinted he wanted to leave.

Last month he admitted he was “fuming” at being left out of the squad for Tottenham’s 2-0 defeat at Arsenal but the defender said there was nothing in this latest incident and is fed up with talk of a rift.

“This is getting silly now,” he said. “The manager said it was best I came off and I didn’t want to come off. That was it.

“I’ve seen already that people are saying we exchanged words. There is no issue between me and the manager. There has never been an issue. And people trying to put stuff in the media is not welcomed.

“For the last three-and-a-half years, four years, the manager has been my biggest fan. He’s given me nothing but love and respect.”

Pochettino himself played down any problems after the match, admitting Rose was unhappy at coming off but saying he had needed treatment.

Rose said Spurs were confident they could beat any team in the Champions League after they topped Group H, finishing in front of European champions Real Madrid.

“I wouldn’t like Bayern,” he said. “But we don’t fear anybody. The manager would prefer us to have one of the top teams. He relishes those sorts of games.

“We’ve proved this season that we do turn up in these games in the group stage and we’ll be looking forward to the draw.”

Spurs will be one of five English teams in the hat as Manchester City, Manchester United, Liverpool and Chelsea also made it through to the knockout rounds.

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Barcelona target Coutinho refuses to commit his future to Liverpool

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Philippe Coutinho

Philippe Coutinho has pledged to continue to do his best for Liverpool but refused to commit his future to the club.

The Brazil international was frustrated when his transfer request was rejected in the summer as the club rebuffed three bids from Barcelona.

Since then speculation has continued to encircle the 25-year-old, who captained the side and scored a hat-trick in the 7-0 demolition of Spartak Moscow which booked their place in the knockout stage of the Champions League, with his Catalan suitors reportedly ready to make another approach.

“I am at Liverpool and I always do my best when I have the opportunity to play, respecting the jersey and the supporters,” said Coutinho, who has scored nine goals in 13 appearances this season.

“I do not know how the future is going to be. What will happen in January, we will know it in January. I do not know if there will be an offer.

“Last summer there was a job offer in the same way that happens with any employee and I was interested in it. Since I stayed I have played with will and desire.

“Of course a lot happened in the summer but my will is always to play and do the best wherever I am – that has not changed.

“I am here (at Liverpool), we have a lot of games and I try to do my best to help.”

Coutinho’s hat-trick was his first for the club and he hailed the achievement of making the latter stages of the Champions League as a significant moment.

“It was a special night due to the result and because I had the armband in such an important game playing for a club like Liverpool,” he added.

“For sure this is my most important hat-trick. In the Champions League it was my first one, I scored one for Brazil but this was more important.”

Hat-trick hero Coutinho is committed to doing his best for Liverpool.

Hat-trick hero Coutinho is committed to doing his best for Liverpool.

Defender Joe Gomez believes Europe’s top clubs have every reason to fear Liverpool.

They finished the group stage with 23 goals – second-highest in the all-time list behind Paris St Germain’s 25 from the current campaign – and although they avoided the likes of PSG and Barcelona, potential last-16 opponents include Bayern Munich, Juventus and Real Madrid.

“We believe we can beat anyone and we have to have that mentality,” said Gomez.

“We have great quality and they can be scared of us the same way we can be wary of them so that’s good.”

Liverpool have kept seven clean sheets in their last 12 matches and that could come in handy when they host Merseyside rivals Everton and their new manager Sam Allardyce on Sunday.

“I think they will probably be fired up and motivated,” said Gomez.

“I think we have seen some teams come to Anfield and sit off but I think with the derby I don’t think they’ll come too defensive-minded.

“We want people to come here and for it to be difficult for them to score and hopefully we can continue that.”

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