Manchester United still have a soft centre, Leandro Trossard is proving a smart signing and Liverpool face a crucial week

For all the improvements Erik ten Hag brings to Manchester United, there remains a soft centre. Their record away from home against top 10 opposition could prove costly in the race for the Champions League. Though Newcastle United did not blow Ten Hag’s team away like Liverpool did last month, they were deserved, easy victors. Ten Hag might look to the steel in midfield that was the core of Newcastle’s win, with Bruno Guimarães outstanding and Sean Longstaff supplying artisanship and exertion alongside him. It was not a gala Sunday afternoon for the Bruno Fernandes fan club, and Casemiro was again glaringly missed, even if he was among the guilty at Anfield. Ten Hag’s late readjustment of his team, removing centre-backs to go for broke, backfired as Callum Wilson scored soon after. It is difficult to imagine Howe taking such high-risk gambles. His reward was revenge for Wembley and a tighter command of that top-four objective. John Brewin

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