Madrid tops Espanyol to move to the top in Spanish league | French players Raphael Varane and Karim Benzema scored a goal in each half as injury-depleted Real Madrid defeated Espanyol 2-0 to move ahead of Barce

Madrid tops Espanyol to move to the top in Spanish league

Madrid tops Espanyol to move to the top in Spanish league

Madrid tops Espanyol to move to the top in Spanish league

Madrid tops Espanyol to move to the top in Spanish league

Madrid tops Espanyol to move to the top in Spanish league

Madrid tops Espanyol to move to the top in Spanish league
Madrid tops Espanyol to move to the top in Spanish league
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Benzema delivers again as Real Madrid cruise past Espanyol

Benzema delivers again as Real Madrid cruise past Espanyol

MADRID: Real Madrid were without Eden Hazard and Gareth Bale on Saturday but Karim Benzema stepped up again to ensure they beat struggling Espanyol in La Liga .

Benzema scored one and set up another in a 2-0 win at the Santiago Bernabeu, where Madrid wore an all-green kit to show support for this week's Climate Summit in the city.

Man Utd chief Ed Woodward should make Ole Gunnar Solskjaer decision if Man City win derby

Man Utd chief Ed Woodward should make Ole Gunnar Solskjaer decision if Man City win derby

Manchester United fans at Old Trafford on Wednesday night may have been chanting Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's name at the final whistle after securing an impressive 2-1 win over Jose Mourinho's Tottenham, but that could pale in comparison if they manage to defeat defending champions and arch rivals Manchester City today (5.30pm). In contrast though, defeat could put Solskjaer back to square one and the club may have to make a definitive decision on who they want leading the club forward.

For the first 20 years of the Premier League era, it was City having to watch on as United dominated the English top flight with The Citizens merely described by rival fans as "the noisy neighbours".

But that has shifted over the last decade, with City now taking charge with United struggling to rediscover the glory years they experienced under Sir Alex Ferguson.

Mourinho won trophies during his reign with the club, but ultimately couldn't get the fans on his side with some criticising his style of football.

Old Trafford hero Solskjaer was appointed, at first, as a temporary replacement. But his incredible start to life in the hot seat at United led to the club handing him the position full time.

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Ole Gunnar Solskjaer had the support of the Man Utd crowd after the win over Tottenham

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer had the support of the Man Utd crowd after the win over Tottenham (Image: GETTY)

It looked as though the likes of Paul Pogba and Marcus Rashford had rediscovered their best form under Solskjaer until there was a worrying dip in form in the final few months of the season.

That led to some scepticism from United fans on whether the club had in fact made the right decision with making Solskjaer their permanent choice.

The results haven't improved so far this campaign and, when Mauricio Pochettino was sacked by Tottenham, there was a massive clamour to see the club do everything to try and persuade the Argentine to join in place of Solskjaer.

That still remains a possibility with Pochettino yet to decide where his next move will be - like a cloud which will continually hang over Solskjaer's head until he does.

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There was a small shift though this week when United put in a stellar performance at home to defeat top four rivals Tottenham.

Fans could be heard chanting, "Ole, Ole, Ole" at the final whistle as Solskjaer marched down the tunnel with his now trademark fists raised and a smile etched across his face.

Now they face one of their biggest fixtures of the season with a chance of rectifying mistakes over the past few months against City.

The defending champions have had bragging rights over their rivals for several years now and the City fans have made their voices heard in past Manchester Derby's.

Ed Woodward may have a decision to make after the Manchester Derby

Ed Woodward may have a decision to make after the Manchester Derby (Image: GETTY)

11 points separate the two sides before kick off with United not expected to challenge their rivals in terms of league position.

But bragging rights mean a lot in derbys, as evident in the Merseyside clash between Liverpool and Everton this week which ultimately led to Marco Silva being sacked.

While Solskjaer isn't quite in the same position Silva found himself in at Everton, a win at the Etihad could be the turning point the club have yearned for over the past 12 months.

And Pep Guardiola's side have been far from invincible this season with their only home defeat of the season in the league coming in surprising circumstances against Wolves in October.

Norwich too have taken three points away from City with Liverpool opening an 11-point lead over Guardiola's team at the top of the table.

A good or bad result could have huge ramifications on Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's future

A good or bad result could have huge ramifications on Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's future (Image: GETTY)

That, coupled with United's recent win over Tottenham, has led to some optimism from Red Devils fans that they might be able to regain bragging rights over their rivals - if only for a short while.

Defeat however could put quickly squash that hope and leave Solskjaer once again in a position of trying to lift his troops in what could soon turn into a hostile atmosphere.

While the fans seem more willing to give Solskjaer time, the board have proven in the past since Ferguson retired that they're willing to move on when they feel the need.

Pochettino won't be on the market forever, with some of Europe's biggest clubs hoping to snap him up.

And defeat at City may be the final push which forces the United board into putting all their energy into going after the former Spurs boss.

Real Madrid ready to offer two stars in mega swap deal to seal Paul Pogba Man Utd transfer

Real Madrid ready to offer two stars in mega swap deal to seal Paul Pogba Man Utd transfer

Real Madrid are set to take their interest in Paul Pogba to the next step by making an offer of two players in return for the World Cup winning midfielder, despite Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s stance over the Frenchman’s importance at Manchester United.

Spanish outlet Eldesmarque has claimed that the La Liga side are ready to put deals for James Rodriguez and Gareth Bale on the table as they try to convince Solskjaer and Ed Woodward to sell.

Both Rodriguez and Bale have fallen out of favour for spells under Zinedine Zidane as he puts faith in the younger duo of Rodrygo and Vinicius Junior.

The three-times Champions League winning boss has been open about his desire to bring Pogba to the Bernabeu since he returned to the club, and failed in an attempt to signing him in the summer.

Pogba is currently out of action through injury but is expected to return before the end of the calendar year, with Solskjaer keen to utilise him in the busiest part of the season.

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Real Madrid ready to offer two stars in mega swap deal to seal Paul Pogba Man Utd transfer

Manchester United could be tempted by a mammoth Real Madrid offer (Image: GETTY)

"Of course, Paul's going to play when he gets his fitness," Solskjaer said.

"He's one of the best players in the world when he's in form. We just need to give him time to be 100 per cent fit.

“It might be 45 minutes, the first game. It might be half-an-hour, it might be 90.

“It depends on what game he comes back in and I'm looking to get Paul back to where I had him a year ago."

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Real Madrid ready to offer two stars in mega swap deal to seal Paul Pogba Man Utd transfer

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has insisted that Paul Pogba is part of his plans at Man Utd (Image: GETTY)

“Every player is allowed to be injured when he’s injured and Paul is working hard to get back,” the United boss added last week.

“No one can doubt his professionalism, his willingness or his desire to play football.

“He’s one of the best midfielders in the world and it’ll be like signing a new player before the transfer window opens. And, of course, we’ve missed him when he’s been away.

He added: “Of course, that’s going to be a new signing for us. He’s not really been able to play.

Real Madrid ready to offer two stars in mega swap deal to seal Paul Pogba Man Utd transfer

James Rodriguez and Gareth Bale are out of favour at Real Madrid (Image: GETTY)
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“So when we get him back it’ll be like a new world-class signing, a new world-class midfielder, so of course we want him back as soon as possible.”

Super agent Mino Raiola insisted back in the summer that Pogba would be leaving United for a second time, but failed to organise a move.

He told The Times: “Everyone knows the willingness of Paul to move on.

“We are in the process of that. Everyone knows what the feelings of Paul are.”

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