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Is a title challenge possible for Man Utd?

Manchester United
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Everton defend Fellaini against elbow allegations

Everton have defended Marouane Fellaini against wide-spread criticism after the midfielder was booked for elbowing Newcastle's Mike Williamson in the head on Saturday.

Television analysts claimed Fellaini was fortunate not to be sent off in the 1-0 defeat at Goodison Park and later highlighted previous similar incidents involving the Belgian international.

But Everton assistant manager Steve Round said on Monday: "That might have been a bit of frustration. It's a reactive thing, it was not malicious. He is not that sort of guy.

"He is a combative player, very physical and wants to take the fight to the opposition. It was just one of those things."

As he received a yellow card from Andre Marriner, Fellaini is unlikely to face any further action and Round feels a sending off would have been too harsh anyway.

He added: "A referee may have taken that view but I thought he got it right and a booking sufficed."

Another controversial challenge in Saturday's game from Everton's Jermaine Beckford led to Newcastle goalkeeper Steve Harper being carried off with a shoulder injury.

Of that incident, Round said: "I spoke to the (Newcastle) staff afterwards and they were not too critical. It wasn't really a malicious challenge. Steve Harper has gone over the top of the challenge.

"He [Beckford] deservedly got a booking but it was the way he [Harper] landed that caused the injury. We believe it is not too bad so hopefully 'Harps' will get better soon."

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