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About Alan:

Newcastle United legend Alan Shearer is the Premier League's all-time top scorer with 260 goals and a leading TV pundit from the BBC's flagship football programme Match of the Day. Euro '96 Golden Boot winner Alan will be sharing his thoughts on all things football every week throughout the 2016/17 season.

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Shearer Says: “Old Trafford stalemate gives some hope to United fans”

Old Trafford stalemate gives some hope to United fans – but don’t get carried away!

It was a much better performance for Manchester United on Monday evening but one in which the result does not do an awful lot for them. The performance though does more than the result. When have we ever said in the past few years that 0-0 at home for United is a good result?

It was a performance which had something different to what the last four months has had. You could not compare it to how they played at Stoke because there is no comparison. There was definitely a change in the system, players were passing forward and were prepared to run forward with the ball.

Britain Soccer Premier League

It will probably give them a bit more belief in the manager and galvanise them. They certainly did not seem to have any belief in what they were doing at Stoke and it wasn’t a performance from a group of players who were fighting for their manager.

You also have to bear in mind that United were playing a team placed 16th in the table and a side which did not have a recognised centre forward. I would not get too carried away but there were encouraging signs that United were prepared to be more positive, which the fans are used to. The manager may have learned that being positive is the only way which is acceptable, not by playing possession football or knocking it sidewards.

Their next two games are against Swansea and Sheffield United in the FA Cup so on paper are two very winnable games. Confidence is a massive thing in football as we all know. But I no longer expect United to just win those games though because they played Bournemouth, Norwich and Stoke, games you’d expect them to pick up points in and they got beaten in all three.

World class keepers the highlight in goalless draw

Manchester United v Chelsea - Barclays Premier League - Old Trafford

It’s a better result for Chelsea than it was for United. They played without a centre forward but they still created good chances. Whatever you think of these two teams, they both have world class goalkeepers in De Gea and Courtois. De Gea had an excellent game and I thought the save from Courtois was just brilliant.

Chelsea had a big chance with Matic to go and win the game and I thought it was a sitter but he did not take it. I expect both teams to be active in the window to try and improve their squads.

Spurs go under the radar with title bid

Up until now, Spurs have been very quiet and they have sort of crept under the radar. They have an unassuming manager. The Chairman does not say a lot. They have a very young squad, and one with depth, apart from the centre forward position, so they can win the title but I don’t expect them to. I think a more realistic target would be to finish in the top four which would be a great achievement.

Watford v Tottenham Hotspur - Barclays Premier League - Vicarage Road

Tottenham have a very strong spine to their team. Like United and Chelsea, they have a world-class goalkeeper in Hugo Lloris. They played three centre-halves against Watford to nullify the threat of Deeney and Ighalo and it worked for them. Dele Alli has been superb for them this season and they have a red hot striker in Harry Kane.

Breathtaking Ozil would be a dream to play alongside

The way Arsenal got beaten at Southampton on Saturday was a concern but the good thing for them was they did not need to sit on that result for a week. They got it out of their system with a win over Bournemouth where Mesut Ozil was just breath-taking

A centre forward at Arsenal playing with Ozil should get a minimum of 25 league goals a season with the amount of chances the German creates. He can pick you out not only from a central position but also out wide.

Arsenal v AFC Bournemouth - Barclays Premier League - Emirates Stadium

You can tell he just oozes class and I would have loved to have played in a side with him. When you make a run, he’ll pick you out 10 times out of 10. He is just sensational and a dream to play with.

Stoke show quality with Christmas six-pointer

Stoke have only scored 20 goals this season and obviously four of those came on Monday. What they have though with Shaqiri, Bojan and Amautovic is unpredictability. They have players that can produce pieces of brilliance that win you football matches. They did that at Everton.

Look at the first goal, the way they created it and finished off by Shaqiri with the side foot. Defensively they are normally solid. I know they conceded three goals against Everton but generally they are good at the back. The last couple of games they have been brilliant with good wins coming over Manchester United and Everton.

Everton v Stoke City - Barclays Premier League - Goodison Park

What Mark Hughes has done at Stoke is not too dissimilar to what Sam Allardyce did at Bolton all those years ago when he brought in the likes of Djorkaeff and Hierro, foreign players who had played for big clubs. Mark is a big name around the world as he played for Manchester United and Barcelona so I am sure they know who he is and that helps attract those big names.

Everton, who were on the wrong end of that 4-3 game, concede too many goals. Going forward is not a problem for them. I watched Lukaku against Stoke and Newcastle and he is a top class centre forward. His game has improved so much. Unless they stop shop shipping goals though, Everton are going nowhere. They have a very young back four but they have to grow up and learn quickly because if you make mistakes at this level, you will be punished.

Any one of six could join Villa and Sunderland in relegation trouble

In the relegation battle, I think Villa are more or less down. They can’t even get the basics right. Sunderland look in trouble. Let’s not forget, Villa and Sunderland have performed miracles for years because if you don’t go and spend big and sign the right players for this league, eventually you will get in trouble.

Tottenham Hotspur v Newcastle United - Barclays Premier League - White Hart Lane

Newcastle are in a dog fight. Steve McClaren keeps saying they are a good side but they are third bottom and they are there for a reason. They are not playing well. It looks like it could be one from six teams who will join Villa and Sunderland for the drop.

Guaranteed a MotD laugh with Wrighty!

We had a good laugh on Match of the Day on Monday evening. We could not stop laughing for the last five minutes of the show. Gary asked Ian Wright what he thought of Saido Berahino and his response was “he loves his mum.” We were in hysterics. We might as well have shut up shop for the last minutes of the show. You are always guaranteed a laugh with Wrighty!

All the best for the New Year,
Alan.

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