A rapidly growing gaming and tech publishing house is to create 30 new jobs to further enhance Manchester’s reputation as an economic powerhouse in digital and creative industries.
The new jobs in multimedia and digital content follow a successful investment round completed by the team at By Gamers for Gamers.
The Manchester-based firm, which announced its move to popular workspace Use Space in September 2020, raised significant monies via angel investment to facilitate working growth capital and support its acquisition ambitions.
As a result, it is now commencing a major recruitment drive to attract talented people from across the UK to support the development of its growing online media outlets, which include WePC.com, PCGuide.com and EsportsVerdict.com
The company intends to tap into Manchester’s potential for growth and help ‘level up’ the economic North-South divide.
Co-Founder Craig Kirkcaldy, who headed up the investment round, said: “Manchester is an exciting, growing and vibrant place with a burgeoning digital and creative business scene coming together to produce a collective force.
“The latest investment means we can push ahead with our plans to increase the talent in our business and create 30 new jobs.
“We are looking to recruit the best people from across the UK and introduce them to Manchester and the North, maybe for the first time.
“The digital landscape of the UK is changing fast with some of the biggest names in media heading North, not least with the BBC who have invested heavily in Salford already. We aim to be in the vanguard as Manchester powers forward as it will as we emerge from the pandemic.”
By Gamers for Gamers, founded in April 2019 by brothers Andrew and Craig Kirckaldy and Will Blears, comprises a team of experienced, passionate individuals dedicated to bringing readers the best in unbiased PC tech, gaming, and Esports news.
With millions of readers each month, its continued purpose is to provide readers with hands-on reviews and practical buying advice as well as tips to get the most out of their tech and gaming setup.
Its network of sites, all work together to form a tight-knit family of consumer-focused brands with one goal: empowering readers.
Craig added: “We are lucky to already have a team comprising gamers from all walks of life that share a passion for the technology they play on, and now we want to enable others to join that team and be part of an excellent workplace culture.
“Being in Manchester and being in a warehouse-style space which includes an immersive racing Sim and a virtual reality station we have a workplace to match the lifestyle that people can enjoy in the North.
“We want to accelerate the momentum of Manchester being a leading digital and creative hub of the UK. We have further ambitious plans for recruitment and growth. Manchester offers some incredible opportunities.”
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Man United are aiming to retake top spot in the Premier League as they travel to west London to face Fulham this evening.
Leicester City’s 2-0 win over Chelsea last night saw the Foxes go top of the table, but United play their game in hand this evening and will leapfrog Brendan Rodgers’ men with a victory.
As for Fulham, Scott Parker’s side have looked more impressive of late after a poor start to the season, but they are struggling to turn draws into wins as they sit four points away from safety – albeit with games in hand over fellow strugglers Brighton and Newcastle.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s United are likely to meet a stern test tonight despite Fulham’s position in the table – and the Cottagers’ recent draw at Tottenham will serve as a warning that they can compete with some of the best forwards the League has to offer.
With kick-off at 8:15pm GMT, follow all the latest team news and match action with Simon Collings live at Craven Cottage.
Man Utd: de Gea, Wan Bissaka, Bailly, Maguire, Shaw, Pogba, Fred, Greenwood, Bruno Fernandes, Martial, Cavani
Subs: Mata, Rashford, James, Henderson, Alex Telles, Matic, van de Beek, Tuanzebe, McTominay
Simon Collings at Craven Cottage
Joe Bryan doing some pre-match media, so he will – as expected – be starting for Fulham.
We are around 10 minutes away from team news, so watch this space…
Premier League table as it stands
Here are how things look tonight…
Parker: Goals now the key
Parker says the next task for Fulham after tightening up their defence is to start putting the ball in the back of the net.
“We’ve got draws, we now need to turn some of those draws into wins. That’s the next big challenge for us. We’ve been able to stay in games, give ourselves a platform, become a lot more solid.
“The fine margins of this division, you need to take your opportunities when they come. To do that, you’ve got to do the hardest thing in the game and that’s put the ball in the back of the net.
“We have one recognised striker in the building in Mitrovic. We understand where we are a little bit light. But this window is a tough window and time’s not on our side, really. We’ll work relentlessly hard to try and improve our attacking play.”
Parker: Fulham no longer a ‘laughing stock’
Scott Parker thinks Fulham have been transformed from a Premier League “laughing stock” to the battling side they are now.
“We’ve done remarkably well considering where we were at the start of the season,” said Parker. “We were probably the laughing stock in terms of how people were portraying us – never was that the case in-house.
“We’ve done remarkably well to be fighting and punching away like we are – not just with determination and grit, but with a real style about us. It’s clear that you can see a real drastic improvement in our overall game.
“There was a narrative around us at the start of this season and that narrative was probably helped by the previous time we were in this division. We lost two games by more than two goals, that narrative was instantly in people’s heads, ‘Oh look, it’s the same Fulham’.
“I just think people were blurred a little bit by the last time we were here. I can understand why. It was certainly an area we needed to address.”
Solskjaer impressed by Shaw
One player who has gone under the radar a little at United recently is Luke Shaw, who has kicked on and improved following added competition from Alex Telles – including an excellent display against Liverpool at Anfield last Sunday.
Solskjaer said of the left-back: “Luke has immense quality. He has got very good technique, good quality.
“You see the few times against Liverpool he takes the ball and drives forward. It’s something that I’ve pushed him more to do because we know he can do it.
“It’s generally down to the boy himself. He’s mentally very good at the moment. He has become a dad, he’s physically very good, his fitness is so much better. He keeps beating his high intensity stats, his total distance stats.
“I think he’s been consistently up there with what a full-back should be doing. And when you have the talent of Luke, when that fitness and mental bit is sorted, you are always going to get good performances.”
Bruno Fernandes expected to start
So, will Bruno Fernandes get a rest tonight? It doesn’t sound like Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is going to bench his star man…
Speaking on Tuesday, Solskjaer told reporters: “His form is very good, He was just voted Player of the Month. He’s not tired, no. No chance. He is one of the players who runs and covers the ground in every single game. Very good at recovering, very good at recharging his batteries.
“If he’d scored his free-kick or just had a little air on the ball when Luke (Shaw) put the cross in, he would have been lauded as the best player in the Premier League again.
“Since he’s come in, he’s been absolutely immense. No, he’s not tired. If I ask him there’s absolutely no chance he’ll say he’s tired.
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Watch some of the best goals, key matches and memorable moments from the 2008/09 season, the only time Liverpool and Manchester United have both finished in the top two in the Premier League, as the current top two prepare to go head-to-head on Sunday.
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Watch Match of the Day on 16 January, 22:20 GMT on BBC One, BBC iPlayer & the BBC Sport app.
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Scott McTominay celebrated captaining Manchester United for the first time by scoring the only goal in a 1-0 FA Cup third-round victory against Watford on Saturday. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer made nine changes to his team, who could go top of the Premier League on Tuesday, when they take on Burnley.
The home side started strongly at an empty Old Trafford, with Daniel James impressive on the left side of the attack, and were rewarded when McTominay gave them the lead in the fifth minute.
The Scotland international, who recently scored two early goals against Leeds, headed downwards from an Alex Telles corner and the ball went in off the post.
United were largely in control and Juan Mata saw an effort saved following a fluent team move and sumptuous flick by Donny van de Beek.
But McTominay’s header proved the only goal of a first half in which Watford threatened intermittently. Adam Masina’s effort was blocked by a mixture of United goalkeeper Dean Henderson and Axel Tuanzebe.
The opening period ended with United defender Eric Bailly being replaced by Harry Maguire after he was clattered by team-mate Henderson.
The second half at Old Trafford was dull and uneventful, with Watford failing to create clear-cut chances to threaten.
Solskjaer threw on Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial with just over 20 minutes to go but United were unable to extend their lead.
“The most important thing in the cup is that you go through, so that will make everyone happy, but the first 15-20 minutes I think were the highlights of our game, Solskjaer told the BBC.
“I think we played some very good stuff, created chances and then we let them back into the game but we are through.”
He said the multiple changes allowed his fringe players to make a case for themselves and achieve match fitness.
“We will need all of them over the season and that was part of the reason we made changes,” he added.
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Pep Guardiola, wearing a LEGEND BELL t-shirt, talks to Sky Sports. “This is for him, for his family. This person helped to build something special for this club. It is an incredible victory for us, to beat United away, to reach the final, and of course this is for him. The team is ready. It was an outstanding performance. We were tired, they had two more days off to rest, but we achieved something incredible. I know the Carabao Cup is not the Champions League, but four times in a row to reach the final is incredible. I’m so impressed by the boys. The final is not next week. Tottenham is a top, top team but we will have time to think about it.”
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer speaks to Sky. “City can score many great goals and you can accept that. But when you concede two set-piece goals, simple ones we should have cleared, you are very disappointed. We were just not good enough in those moments. We didn’t do enough to win the game, didn’t create enough big chances ourselves, we didn’t have the extra finesse in the games we’ve had in the league lately. We played against a very good team, they played well, and when they play well you have to play really well to beat them. That’s just the reality of where we’re at. We were just lacking that little bit. They deserve it. But we are getting closer. This is a much better version of Man United than a year ago. That’s positive, but that’s not enough. It’s not psychological, you meet good teams in semis and we just didn’t have enough. They are probably the best team in England. We wanted a final to look forward to, but it’s not going to happen. There are loads of things to play for.”
City’s goalscoring hero John Stones speaks to Sky Sports. “I’d like to send our condolences from everyone in the dressing room to Colin Bell and his family. How we played today was a reflection of him. A great moment for us, and I’m sure he’s looking down on the game today. Another final and another great occasion, and a derby won against a top team. They caused us problems but we dealt with them and had so many chances. Set pieces are vital in big games and it was good to get something on it.”
Manchester City celebrate their victory with great feeling. A huge team huddle, followed by backslaps and hugs all round. They’ll face Tottenham Hotspur in the final, to be played on Sunday 25 April, all going to plan. If they win that, they’ll equal Liverpool’s record of eight League Cup victories, as well as their record of four consecutive wins, set all the way back in the early 1980s. More history there to be written by Pep Guardiola’s remarkable side, who have rediscovered their form in some style. But let them enjoy tonight for now: another derby win, and a lovely way to say farewell to the great Colin Bell.
City reach their fourth League Cup final in a row! They were the better side and deserve their reward. A huge grin plays across Guardiola’s face. His opposite number, a grim-faced Solskjaer, walks off to contemplate a fourth semi-final defeat in a row.
88 min: Shaw is doing his level best to goad his old foe Cancelo into a reaction that would earn him a second yellow. A couple of sly shoves in the chest, just on the right side of legality, as they compete in a tight space. Cancelo, who snapped fairly easily earlier, does well to keep his cool.
84 min: City celebrated that goal in the grand style. United had been asking a few questions, but that was some response. Guardiola beams broadly. Yet another League Cup final is within touching distance now.
GOAL! Manchester United 0-2 Manchester City (Fernandinho 83)
De Bruyne has a dig from the right of the D. The ball’s deflected out for a corner on the right. De Bruyne takes. Wan-Bissaka clears, but not with any power. The ball drops to Fernandinho, just to the left of the D. He meets it sweetly, threading a sensational fizzer into the bottom left, a flat-footed Henderson left with no chance!
81 min: Greenwood garrinchas in from the right and nearly dribbles into shooting space. Dias intercepts, just in time, and City launch a counter through Sterling and De Bruyne, the latter crossing to nobody in particular.
77 min: United have enjoyed 77 percent of possession during the last five minutes. City seem perfectly happy about it, playing United at their own game, hoping to soak it all up and break dangerously if the chance presents itself.
74 min: It’s a good spell for United, who push City back. Suddenly Martial dribbles his way through a couple of gaps down the middle and enters the box … before falling to ground over a non-existent challenge by Dias. Martial claims a penalty; a furious Dias demands retribution for the dive. Referee Martin Atkinson takes the diplomatic route by waving both claims away. We play on.
68 min: Fernandinho has a shot that has enough welly to knock Maguire to the floor. The deflection loops harmlessly into Henderson’s arms. This doesn’t feel like it’s going to end 0-1. But who scores next?
67 min: Fernandes drifts in from the left and shapes to curl one towards the top right. He telegraphs his intention, and the resulting floater is easy meat for Steffen. United have responded well to falling behind.
64 min: Some space for Martial down the left. His low fizzing cross forces Dias to stick out a telescopic leg and poke the ball out for a corner. From the set piece, Maguire rises highest, but under pressure from Stones, can’t steer his header anywhere hear the goal.
62 min: Fred has the ball stolen off his toe in midfield by Sterling. He feeds Mahrez, who opens his legs, strides down the middle, and powers a curler towards the top left. Henderson tips over spectacularly. Great football all round, with the exception of Fred, whose leisurely faffing nearly cost United dear.
60 min: Martial contests a high ball with Zinchenko in the City box. It clanks off Martial’s chest for a goal kick. Martial claims the ball has hit Zinchenko’s hand, but neither ref nor VAR shows any interest. Then City break upfield, Sterling nearly rounding Henderson on the right, only for the keeper to snaffle just in time.
58 min: Foden crosses from the left. Sterling heads towards the top corner. Henderson claws it out. From the resulting corner, the ball’s worked to Cancelo out on the right. He whips towards the far stick. Foden is a toenail clipping away from poking home. Goal kick.
54 min: That’s the first goal United have conceded in this competition this season. But they’ve not been too shabby at recovering after conceding first this season – 18 points gained from losing positions in the Premier League illustrate that – so there’s no need for the hosts to worry quite yet. City are on top right now, though, playing with something of a swagger.
52 min: … and nearly doubled, as Cancelo drops a shoulder to glide in from the right and pearls a vicious rising shot towards the top left. Henderson can’t get anywhere near it, but the ball shaves the paint on the top of the bar. So close! That would have been a screamer.
GOAL! Manchester United 0-1 Manchester City (Stones 50)
It’s dangerous all right. Foden curls it in. The ball makes it all the way to the back post, where Stones – who accidentally trundled the ball into this very net early on – trundles another one into the bottom right off his thigh!
48 min: Fernaninho slides in on Pogba from behind, unnecessarily so. The City player receives a double-whammy of punishment: a yellow card, plus he’s clouted on the follow-through as the players tangle on the turf.
United get the second half underway on a chilly night. No changes made by either side. Yet. So will either side finally get round to scoring after three consecutive goal-free halves in Manchester derbies? “What happened to ‘deadly strikers’?” wonders Phillip Wainwright. “It’s a shame that modern tactics lean toward the absence of a ‘proper finisher’ in a team. Even Cavani, arguably someone under this umbrella in modern times, misses a hatful of clear/easy chances every season. See also Rashford, Martial, Bamford, Bergwijn, Sterling, Werner, even Son at Spurs… Is it just my rose-tinted view or did Van Nistelrooy, Henry, Shearer, Fowler etc not miss as many easy chances? I am an enormous fan of Rashford, on and off the pitch, but if him and the enigmatic Martial were to not miss as many easy chances, Man Utd would be an infinitely more dangerous prospect. Imagine if they had Kane/Son.”
43 min: Rashford whips a ball into the City box from the right. It rears up and smacks Stones on the arm. Stones had been clumsily leaning into the ball, so there’s a big penalty shout, but his arm was just about in a natural position, and he gets the benefit of the doubt.
36 min: Fernandinho sends a glorious diagonal ball towards Sterling on the right. Sterling is in acres, and romps into the box. He just needs to jink past Shaw to make room for a shot from close range … but clumsily runs slap-bang into the stationary defender, and doesn’t get the penalty he screams for.
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Former Manchester City and England midfielder Colin Bell has died aged 74 following a short illness, the club announced Tuesday.
Bell scored 152 goals in 492 appearances for City during a 13-year career with the club after joining from Bury.
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“Colin passed away peacefully this (Tuesday) afternoon after a short, non-COVID related illness, aged 74,” said a club statement.
“He leaves behind wife Marie, children Jon and Dawn and grandchildren, Luke, Mark, Isla and Jack.”
Bell was a member of the City side that won the old First Division title in 1967/68 and the FA Cup in 1969.
He also helped City win two trophies in the 1969/70 season — the English League Cup and the European Cup Winners’ Cup.
In addition to his City honours, Bell won 48 England caps and was in the squad for the 1970 World Cup in Mexico during a career cut short by a knee injury.
City said “few players have left such an indelible mark” on the club as Bell, nicknamed “The King of the Kippax” after one of the terraces at their former Maine Road home.
Such was the respect in which Bell was held at the club that City fans voted to name a stand at the Etihad Stadium after him in 2004.
City chairman Khaldoon Al Mubarak told the club’s website: “Colin Bell will always be remembered as one of Manchester City’s greatest players and the very sad news today of his passing will affect everybody connected to our club.
“I am fortunate to be able to speak regularly to his former manager and teammates, and it’s clear to me that Colin was a player held in the highest regard by all those who had the privilege of playing alongside him or seeing him play.
“The passage of time does little to erase the memories of his genius.” Meanwhile, his former City teammate Mike Summerbee paid tribute to “a lovely, humble man”.
“He was quiet, unassuming and I always believe he never knew how good he actually was,” Summerbee told the club’s website.
“He was just the greatest footballer we have ever had.
“Kevin De Bruyne reminds me a lot of Colin in the way he plays and the way he is as a person.”
Former England international Summerbee added: “He was adored by the City fans and for our supporters to say he is the best they have ever seen, you don’t get a better compliment than that, do you?”
Manchester City legend Colin Bell has died, aged 74, after a short illness, the Premier League club have announced.
The former England midfielder made 501 appearances for City between 1966 and 1979, scoring 153 goals. He won 48 caps for his country.
“Few players have left such an indelible mark on City,” said a club statement on Tuesday.
In 2004, Manchester City fans voted to name one of the stands at Etihad Stadium in Bell’s honour.
“Colin Bell will always be remembered as one of Manchester City’s greatest players and the very sad news today of his passing will affect everybody connected to our club,” said City chairman Khaldoon Al Mubarak.
“I am fortunate to be able to speak regularly to his former manager and team-mates, and it’s clear to me that Colin was a player held in the highest regard by all those who had the privilege of playing alongside him or seeing him play.
“The passage of time does little to erase the memories of his genius.”
After starting his career at Bury, Bell moved to Manchester City – then in the second tier – midway through the 1965-66 season in a £47,500 deal.
He helped Joe Mercer’s team win promotion that season and was instrumental in the Blues winning the First Division title two years later.
During his 13 years as a player at Maine Road, he also won the FA Cup, League Cup and Cup Winners’ Cup.
However, his career was hampered by a serious knee injury he suffered in a League Cup tie against Manchester United in November 1975, when he was 29.
After making a comeback later that season, he was injured again against Arsenal and out for another 18 months.
Bell regained fitness and received an emotional ovation on his return at Maine Road on 26 December 1977.
However, he did not have the same freedom and mobility as he had done and played only a handful more games.
Bell finished his career with a brief spell in the United States playing for San Jose Earthquakes.
In 2004, he was awarded an MBE for his services to football and remained a regular presence at City games in recent seasons.
‘De Bruyne reminds me a lot of Colin’ – tributes pour in for the ‘King of the Kippax’
Former City team-mate Mike Summerbee, who was part of their ‘Holy Trinity’ alongside Bell and Francis Lee in the 1960s and 1970s, described Bell as “just the greatest footballer” the club has had.
“Colin was a lovely, humble man. He was a huge star for Manchester City but you would never have known it,” said ex-forward Summerbee.
“He was quiet, unassuming and I always believe he never knew how good he actually was.
“[Current City midfielder] Kevin de Bruyne reminds me a lot of Colin in the way he plays and the way he is as a person.”
Summerbee, 78, was among a number of former City players to pay tribute to Bell, along with celebrity fans including former Oasis frontman Liam Gallagher.
Bell would “always have a smile” and “meet and greet everyone” he knew, said former City midfielder Michael Brown.
“He’s done lots of charity work and always tried to help people,” added Brown, who first met Bell as a youngster having come up through City’s academy.
“It’s a huge loss. To have done so much and be so low key was admirable.”
Ex-City defender Micah Richards said Bell was “one of the nicest men ever”, while their former full-back Pablo Zabaleta added he was “absolutely devastated” by the news.
The Times’ chief football writer Henry Winter said Bell “oozed class, skill and glamour” as he was “flowing across rutted pitches, taking people on, creating and scoring”.
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The Uruguayan Academy of Letters has denounced a three-game ban given to Manchester United’s Edinson Cavani, calling the sanction for alleged racism an example of English football’s lack of “cultural and linguistic knowledge”.
The Football Association guidelines prohibit players from including references to race, colour or origin in their social media posts
The Spanish langauge academy says references to skin colour, weight and physical characteristics are commonly used among friends in Latin America
Anti-racism campaigners say foreign players should be educated about appropriate language and behaviour when they come to England
The 33-year-old Uruguayan used the word “negrito” (Spanish for ‘little black person’) when replying to an Instagram comment after the club’s victory over Southampton on November 29, before taking it down and apologising.
He said it was intended as an expression of affection to a friend.
The FA said the comment was “improper and brought the game into disrepute”, fined Cavani 100,000 pounds ($177,133) and ordered him to complete “face-to-face education” as part of his punishment.
The FA said the social media post breached its guidelines as it “included a reference, whether express or implied, to colour and/or race and/or ethnic origin”.
The academy, an association dedicated to protecting and promoting the Spanish language used in Uruguay, said it “energetically rejected the sanction”.
“The English Football Association has committed a serious injustice with the Uruguayan sportsman … and has shown its ignorance and error in ruling on the use of language, and in particular Spanish, without noting all its complexities and contexts,” the academy said in a statement.
“In the context that it was written, the only value that can be given to negrito, and particularly because of the diminutive use, is affectionately.”
Words referring to skin colour, weight and other physical characteristics are often used among friends and relations in Latin America, especially in the diminutive, the academy said.
In that context they are expressions of tenderness and are often used independently of the subject’s appearance.
It is not the first time that English football has grappled with the use of the term by a Spanish-speaking footballer.
Manchester United moved level on points with Premier League leaders Liverpool as a Bruno Fernandes penalty saw off stubborn Aston Villa.
Fernandes drilled his 11th league goal this season – and his fifth from the spot – into the bottom corner to punish Douglas Luiz’s clip on Paul Pogba and hand United an eighth win in 10 games.
Bertrand Traore’s calm finish underneath David de Gea had deservedly drawn Villa level, cancelling out Anthony Martial’s stooping first-half header for the hosts.
But Fernandes’ penalty extended United’s hold over Villa – they have now won 32 and lost just one of the past 44 league meetings between the sides – and leaves Liverpool top only by virtue of goal difference.
The spot-kick award angered Aston Villa boss Dean Smith who claimed Pogba “tripped himself” and that the video assistant referee should have asked on-pitch official Michael Oliver to review his decision.
“I don’t see why Michael couldn’t have looked at it. That’s what VAR is for isn’t it?” Smith told BBC Sport.
“I thought it was a penalty at the time, but I looked at it after the game and saw he tripped himself. I don’t think it’s a penalty.
“I think there’s enough doubt there to send the referee over to the screen.”
Smith’s side were perhaps unfortunate not to have left Old Trafford with at least a point from a thoroughly entertaining game but they also needed several fine saves from Emiliano Martinez to keep them in it.
After Fernandes’ spot-kick put United back in front, Martinez superbly tipped a stinging 25-yarder from the Portuguese on to the crossbar as well as denying Martial a second.
Martinez’s counterpart David de Gea was just as busy, with a late save from Matty Cash’s long-range strike preserving the points, not long after Tyrone Mings had headed wide a glorious chance to level.
United proving they mean business
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side have displayed their ability to grind out points at Old Trafford in recent weeks, as evidenced in 1-0 home wins over both West Bromwich Albion and Wolves.
But they have also shown a willingness to go toe-to-toe with teams who are happy to open up the game and, while this was not quite the shootout of the 6-2 win over Leeds, it was just as easy on the eye.
A number of fluid first-half moves produced chances before Martial’s opener as the France forward saw a curler tipped over by Martinez, while Fernandes and Wan-Bissaka were narrowly off target with similar efforts.
Martial stole between Mings and Ezri Konsa to nod the Red Devils ahead from Wan-Bissaka’s inviting cross for only his second league goal of the season on his return to Solskjaer’s starting line-up.
While Luiz was unfortunate to be penalised for what might have been an accidental clip on Pogba, there was enough contact for the penalty to be given and Fernandes continued his excellent record from the spot.
United were nine points behind Liverpool after a 1-0 defeat by Arsenal at Old Trafford on 1 November but have made up that gap in just two months to set an intriguing title race into motion.
A minute’s silence before the game paid tribute to former boss Tommy Docherty, who famously prevented Liverpool claiming the treble by leading United to an FA Cup win over the Reds in 1977.
And while talk of foiling a second successive Liverpool title might be premature, moving alongside them at the Premier League’s summit will give Solskjaer’s side even more confidence as they eye up a trip to Anfield on 17 January.
Villa impressive even in defeat
While Villa were ultimately outgunned by their hosts, their brave display was further evidence of the progress Smith’s side have made this season.
They held their own in the first half, causing United a number of problems down the flanks, with playmaker Jack Grealish prompting and probing to show why the hosts have long considered a move for the Villa captain.
But they were even more impressive in the early stages of the second period, Grealish crossing for the Watkins header that was saved by De Gea before collecting a quick free-kick and finding Traore to tuck home the equaliser.
Luiz’s foul on Pogba came with Villa very much in the ascendancy and while they then had to ride a storm the visitors still came close to pinching a point as Mings beat fellow England centre-half Harry Maguire to a free-kick only to nod wide.
With Ross Barkley’s return from a hamstring injury imminent, this performance should keep Villa optimistic even if defeat halted a five-game unbeaten run and saw them slip a place to sixth, behind Chelsea on goal difference.
And while their rotten record at Old Trafford continues – just one win in 34 visits since 1983, which came courtesy of a Gabriel Agbonlahor header in 2009 – they have still only conceded five times in eight away games this campaign.
‘We have improved a lot in a year’ – what they said
Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer told BBC Sport: “You are always delighted with three points. The performance was good and we created chances.
“It was maybe a little too open and we wasted chances. We tried to play the Hollywood pass instead of securing the first one and using the space that was there.
“We are happy with what we are doing. We have shown we have improved a lot in a year. We lost to Arsenal away last New Year’s Day. We have improved immensely.”
Aston Villa boss Dean Smith told BBC Sport: “I wasn’t happy with the first half. We were miles off the levels where we have been. It felt like a testimonial pace then they deservedly had the lead at half-time. I told the players we needed to be upping our levels.
“We competed a lot better [in the second half], showed more quality and created chances. I’d take the second-half performance all day long. A dubious penalty has lost us the game.
“When you look at our performances and results, it shows we are very competitive in this league now, which is what we wanted it to be.”
United’s hold over Villa goes on – the stats
Manchester United are unbeaten in their past 16 Premier League matches against Aston Villa (W12 D4).
Aston Villa have lost 13 of their past 15 away Premier League games against Manchester United at Old Trafford (W1 D1).
In Premier League history, the only player to be directly involved in more goals in their first 30 appearances in the competition than Bruno Fernandes (33 – 19 goals, 14 assists) is Andrew Cole (37 – 28 goals, nine assists).
Anthony Martial has now scored on all seven days of the week in the Premier League for Manchester United, becoming the fifth player to do so, after Ryan Giggs, Andrew Cole, David Beckham and Wayne Rooney.
Only Tottenham’s Harry Kane (10) has assisted more Premier League goals this season than Jack Grealish (7), while the last Aston Villa player to assist more than seven Premier League goals in a season was Ashley Young in 2010-11 (10).
Since Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s first Premier League match in charge of Manchester United in December 2018, the Red Devils have taken (27) and scored (21) the most Premier League penalties.
Manchester United host local rivals Manchester City in the Carabao Cup semi-finals on Wednesday (19:45 GMT) and welcome Watford in the FA Cup on Saturday 9 January (20:00 GMT). Their next Premier League game is away at Burnley on Tuesday 12 January (20:15 GMT).
Aston Villa host Liverpool in the FA Cup next Friday (19:45 GMT) before returning to Premier League action at home to Tottenham on Wednesday 13 January (20:15 GMT).
Player of the match
Bruno FernandesBruno Fernandes
Squad number10Player nameGrealish
Squad number26Player nameMartínez
Squad number2Player nameCash
Squad number7Player nameMcGinn
Squad number15Player nameTraoré
Squad number21Player nameEl Ghazi
Squad number4Player nameKonsa
Squad number5Player nameMings
Squad number6Player nameDouglas Luiz
Squad number11Player nameWatkins
Squad number18Player nameTargett
Squad number39Player nameDavis
Squad number41Player nameRamsey
3BaillyBooked at 55mins
5MaguireBooked at 49mins
23ShawBooked at 89mins
39McTominaySubstituted forMaticat 65′minutesBooked at 90mins
English football greats, commentators and current players have contributed to furious backlash against a decision to punish Edinson Cavani for using a racist term.
The Manchester United forward was banned for three matches and fined $180,000 by the Football Association announced on Friday in a decision that’s shocked the game.
The 33-year-old summer signing had produced a matchwinning display at Southampton on November 29, providing an assist for Bruno Fernandes before netting two goals in a 3-2 comeback win.
Cavani posted a social media message on Instagram shortly after the match, replying to a message of congratulations using the Spanish term “negrito” (small black person).
The Uruguayan swiftly deleted the post and issued an apology after being made aware of the connotations, but the FA felt compelled to take it further.
“A comment posted on the Manchester United FC striker’s Instagram page was insulting, abusive, improper and brought the game into disrepute,” the FA said in a statement.
“The post also constitutes an ‘aggravated breach’ … as it included reference, whether express or implied, to colour and/or race and/or ethnic origin,” the statement added.
But many in the game have described the ban as a massive over-reaction.
Ex-Liverpool player John Barnes, a Jamaican-born English international, was vocal on Twitter.
“The exchange between Cavani and his friend is one of mutual love and respect and can’t be interpreted or misinterpreted in any other way,” he wrote. “This does nothing to either promote or solve the issue of racial equality.”
Media heavyweight Piers Morgan also spoke out. “Ridiculous that Cavani has been banned for using a term to a friend that’s considered inoffensive in his own country,” Morgan tweeted. “No racist intent, no offence felt by recipient. Dumb over-reaction by the FA. A quiet word about language sensitivities would have sufficed.”
Ander Herrera, a former teammate of Cavani, leapt to the defence of his friend on Instagram.
The Spaniard, 31, blasted: “If they ban you for that. The world is going to s***. Big hugs and stay strong Edi.”
Uruguay’s Spanish language academy even weighed in, saying the words “negro” or its diminutive “negrito” — similar to “gordo” (fatso) or “gordito” and “flaco” (skinny one) — are commonly used as terms of endearment.
“In the Spanish of Uruguay, for example, in couples or among friends, between parents and children, one often hears and reads expressions such as… gordito, negri, negrito…” the Academia Nacional de Letras said in a statement.
“In fact, a person so addressed is not necessarily overweight or dark-skinned.” The academy issued its “strongest rejection” of the sanctioning of Cavani, and said the federation’s “questionable resolution” was the result of “poverty of cultural and linguistic knowledge.”
The statement concluded the FA had “committed a serious injustice to a Uruguayan athlete of the highest international level and has exposed ignorance… regarding the use of language and in particular Spanish, without taking note of all its complexities and contexts.”
Cavani responded to his suspension with class. “Hello everyone, I do not want to extend much in this uncomfortable moment for me,” he wrote on Instagram.
“I want to share with you that I accept the disciplinary sanction knowing that I am foreign to English language customs, but I do not share the point of view.
“I apologise if I offended someone with an expression of affection towards a friend, nothing further was my intention.
‘Those who know me know that my effort is to always seek the simplest joy and friendship!
“I appreciate the countless expressions of support and affection.
“My heart is at peace because I know that I always expressed myself with affection according to my culture and way of life. I send you a sincere hug.”
Fellow United star Marcos Rojo offered words of support, writing: “Those who know you know the kind of person you are!”
Manchester United issued a statement saying Cavani was not aware his words could have been misconstrued and “sincerely apologised” for the post and to anyone who was offended.
“Despite his honest belief that he was simply sending an affectionate thank you in response to a congratulatory message from a close friend, he chose not to contest the charge out of respect for, and solidarity with, the FA and the fight against racism in football,” the club said.
United said they hoped the independent regulatory commission appointed to decide the sanction would make it clear in its written reasons that the former Paris Saint-Germain player “is not a racist, nor was there any racist intent in relation to his post”.