Barclays U21 Premier League 2016: Monday Scores, Latest Standings and Fixtures

Gianni Verschueren@ReverschPassFeatured ColumnistFebruary 15, 2016

LEIGH, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 11:  Devonte Redmond and Joe Riley of Manchester United U21 celebrate the 1-0 victory after the Barclays Under-21 Premier League Division One match between Manchester United U21 and Manchester City U21 at  Leigh Sports Village Stadium on February 11, 2016 in Leigh, England.  (Photo by Matthew Ashton - AMA / via Getty Images)
Matthew Ashton - AMA/Getty Images

Manchester United continued their strong run in the 2015-16 Under-21 Premier League campaign on Monday, beating Reading 1-0 thanks to an own goal from the visitors.

James Weir fired a shot off the post in the second half, and in the confusion that followed, the ball came off a Reading leg before finding the net.  

Manchester City lost 1-0 at Leicester City, allowing Everton to pass them in the Group 1 standings with a 3-1 defeat of Southampton. Arsenal's match against Swansea City was postponed, as the Gunners' under-18 squad took on Coventry City in the fifth round of the FA Youth Cup.

Here's a look at Monday's results:

Premier League U21 Results
Everton3-1Southampton
Leicester City1-0Manchester City
Manchester United1-0Reading
Sunderland3-2Middlesbrough
SwanseaPostponedArsenal
WBA1-1Fulham
Source: BBC Sport

The latest Under-21 Premier League standings:

EPL U21 Standings
Group 1TeamPLWDLGPts
1.Manchester United U2114111234:1134
2.Sunderland U2115102328:1132
3.Everton U211465323:1823
4.Manchester City U211463525:1921
5.Reading U211663725:2821
6.Tottenham U211655633:3420
7.Chelsea U211143419:2015
8.Liverpool U211443716:2315
9.Southampton U211443722:3115
10.Middlesbrough U211234520:1813
11.Norwich U211433818:3112
12.Leicester U211433817:3612
Group 2TeamPLWDLGPts
1.Derby U2116102434:2032
2.Arsenal U211493229:1530
3.Aston Villa U211684419:2028
4.West Brom U211668219:1326
5.Stoke City U211781819:1925
6.West Ham U211773728:2824
7.Swansea U211362520:1320
8.Fulham U211554617:2119
9.Blackburn U211252518:1817
10.Newcastle Utd U211645723:2817
11.Wolves U2116231116:279
12.Brighton U211615109:298
Source: BBC Sport

Recap

Reading didn't make life easy on the Red Devils, but the Group 1 leaders pulled through in the second half of Monday's match to keep their lead at the top of the standings alive.

United made the bold decision to shift to a new formation, emulating the senior side with a three-man back line. For a team that has looked sensational in the attacking third of late, it was a risky move but one that could help a handful of prospects prepare for a step up to the first team soon.

Unfortunately, a change in formation will always have repercussions, and Monday's outing was no different. The Red Devils looked disjointed and uninspired during the first half, a shadow of the team that appears headed for the Group 1 title. The Manchester Evening News' Samuel Luckhurst was not impressed:

With Adnan Januzaj not playing on the right wing, Sadiq El Fitouri received the chance to impress, and the 21-year-old failed to provide the spark his Belgian predecessor did in the last few weeks.

With little movement out wide, United failed to create much, and the first real chance of the match fell to Reading's Jack Stacey, who fired wide. Matty Willock provided most of the danger for United, testing Reading stopper Stuart Moore with a hard shot.

Ro-Shaun Williams nearly handed the visitors the lead on a platter, playing an awful pass that allowed Reading to break before Joe Riley inexplicably missed United's best chance of the half, blasting the ball over the cross bar from close range.

At half-time, the Manchester Evening News' Twitter account designated for United couldn't help but take a shot at Louis van Gaal, the man in charge of the senior team:

United attacked with more verve in the second half, and Willock came close to opening the score, drawing a fine save from Moore. Willock's team-mate Weir eventually broke the deadlock, with the ball crossing the line after his initial shot hit the post.

Per Base Soccer's Doron Salomon, the ball came off a defender, and officials later changed the goal to an own goal from the visitors:

The goal seemed to wake United up, and the hosts started showing exactly why they lead the Group 1 standings. Marcus Rashford and Weir both came close to scoring but failed to hit the target from promising positions.

Some late pressure from Reading led to nothing, as United's defenders put together a strong showing in the second half and Joel Pereira looked excellent in goal.

Joe Dodoo scored the only goal in Leicester City's 1-0 win over Manchester City, a big setback for the Citizens, whose title bid seems to be over at this point. Sunderland remain United's closest competition, and they beat Middlesbrough 3-2 on Monday.

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