Monthly Archives: November 2016

Liverpool into EFL Cup semi-finals after victory over Leeds

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Liverpool entered the League Cup semi-finals for a record 17th time after a solid second-half performance earned them a 2-0 victory over Championship club Leeds United.

It was also a night to remember for Welsh teenager Ben Woodburn, who eclipsed Michael Owen as the youngest goalscorer in Liverpool’s history to help seal a hard-fought victory for Jurgen Klopp’s side over Leeds United.

Replacing Kevin Stewart with 23 minutes remaining, Woodburn was given a moment to cherish when Divock Origi and Georginio Wijnaldum combined inside the Leeds area to present him with a free shot from close range. The Wales youth international obliged with an emphatic finish into the roof of Leeds keeper Marco Silvestri’s net and the semi-finals beckoned once again for Liverpool.

Origi had earlier scored the first goal for the Reds, punishing hesitation by Silvestri and behind the Leeds defence to sweep in Trent Alexander-Arnold’s right-wing cross from close range, thereby scoring his second goal in four days.

Jurgen Klopp had claimed earlier this season that Liverpool had “unfinished business” in the EFL Cup, but this competition is clearly not the German’s priority this season as the Reds show purpose in their pursuit of both the Premier League title and a Champions League return.

The former Mainz and Dortmund manager has remained staunch in keeping his team selection similar to the earlier rounds, rotating his team by bringing in fringe players and a handful of youngsters, though that was arguably forced in part by the absence of Philippe Coutinho, Roberto Firmino, Daniel Sturridge and Adam Lallana through injury.

Still, Klopp also pledged to protect Ben Woodburn in order to help him fulfill his potential as a player.

“It’s all good,” Klopp said. “We know what Ben is capable of and what he is already able to do.”

“(But) My first job is to help these boys to be the best, in this case Ben Woodburn. There is a lot to do, especially to keep the public away for as long as possible.”

“That is quite a difficult thing to do but on the other side we only brought him on because we want to use him so that means when he is on the pitch he is absolutely allowed to score goals, to prepare situations and to make crosses like Trent [Alexander-Arnold] did, for example. It is all good.”

Wenger refrains from using key players in Southampton clash

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Arsene Wenger will not field his regular lineup for the EFL Cup quarter-final at home to Southampton.

Wenger has used his squad players in both rounds of the competition so far – against Nottingham Forest, when the team won 4-0 away from home, and Reading – and it appears that he will not deviate from the policy for Southampton’s visit.

Emi Martinez will once again start in goal while Wenger will change the entire line of defense that played in the Bournemouth game.

“We want to go to Wembley, we want to go all the way,” said the 24-year-old Argentine keeper. “I dreamt of winning it the first day. We’ve only got three more games now so I’m really looking forward to playing Southampton at home.”

With Laurent Koscielny, Shkodran Mustafi and Nacho Monreal rested and Mathieu Debuchy out with injury, Wenger is expected to start with Carl Jenkinson, Gabriel Paulista, Rob Holding and Kieran Gibbs in defence.

The manager will also be resting his three most potent offensive players – Mesut Ozil, Theo Walcott and Alexis Sanchez – and has decisions to make across midfield. He will choose from Mohamed Elneny, Francis Coquelin, Alex Oxlade‑Chamberlain, Alex Iwobi, Aaron Ramsey, Granit Xhaka, Jeff Reine‑Adelaide and Ainsley Maitland-Niles.

“We will have a mixture of youth and experience but still 90% of a first-team squad,” Wenger said.

“Debuchy is out and (Olivier) Giroud has a slight problem – he’s out, too. Perez is in the squad and Jenkinson will play. I rested Carl completely against Bournemouth because he had played in two big games [against Manchester United and Paris St-Germain] and I felt he needed a breather [having only recently returned from a nine-month injury lay-off].

“Sometimes, mentally, three games in a week demands a lot. Carl’s back in and we’ll put Gabriel in the centre.”

Prediction:

Arsenal (1) – (1) Southampton

Gareth Southgate set to be appointed as England Manager

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Gareth Southgate’s appointment as the England manager is expected on Wednesday, while an official announcement could take some more time.

Southgate has been in interim charge of the England national football team since Sam Allardyce left in September after just 67 days in charge, having been caught up in a newspaper investigation into corruption in football.

In his four games in charge Southgate was unbeaten, winning two and drawing two, including a win against Scotland this month that left England top of Group F in the World Cup qualifiers. England also defeated Malta and drew 0-0 in Slovenia before a 2-2 friendly draw with Spain in Southgate’s last game.

Following the end of his tenure as interim manager for England, Southgate spoke to a five-man panel at St George’s Park last week. The FA chairman, Greg Clarke, the chief executive, Martin Glenn, and the technical director, Dan Ashworth, the former England player Graeme Le Saux and the League Managers’ Association chairman, Howard Wilkinson, were involved.

The FA will also discuss Southgate’s backroom team with the future of Steve Holland on the agenda and reports suggest the Chelsea coach will be handed a full-time role with the senior national side. The 46-year-old has been combining his duties as Southgate’s No2, both with the junior team and during the latter’s four-game stint as interim senior manager.

The FA must also look at the age group setups with the under-20s manager, Aidy Boothroyd, having temporarily stepped up to replace Southgate with the under-21s. Boothroyd won his two games in charge to help the under-21s qualify for Euro 2017 in Poland with the draw made in Krakow on Thursday.

As England Under-21s manager, Southgate had then claimed that he did not feel ready for the senior job when it was available in the summer following Roy Hodgson’s exit after England’s poor run in Euro 2016. Under the same capacity role in Sam Allardyce’s England, Southgate also said the same thing.

When he takes charge of England, Southgate’s very first game will be in a testing friendly against Germany, before resuming the qualifying campaign against Lithuania, and Scotland a few months later.

Chelsea retains table lead as Liverpool takes Coutinho blow

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Chelsea stayed at the top of the Premier League table after the weekend as the Blues came from behind at Stamford Bridge again to inflict Tottenham’s first League defeat this season.

Spurs looked on course to recover from their midweek Champions League exit when Christian Eriksen’s superb 11th minute strike put them in front.

Mauricio Pochettino’s side was dominant until the closing seconds of the first half when Pedro curled in a spectacular right-foot effort to draw Chelsea level.

Spurs’ miserable record at Stamford Bridge was then extended to 30 games without a win – a record dating back to February 1990 – after Victor Moses scored what proved to be the winner six minutes after the restart.

Spurs keeper Hugo Lloris and Jan Vertonghen both got touches on Moses’s strike, but the ball maintained its trajectory as Antonio Conte’s Chelsea recorded their seventh league victory in succession.

It also invokes ghosts of nightmares past, as Chelsea were the ones who had extinguished Spurs’s title hope last season.

Still, celebrations for victory at the London derby would be short-lived as the Blues prepare to travel to Manchester; third-placed Manchester City waits after coming off a 2-1 victory against Burnley in be a top-of-the-table showdown.

On the other hand, second-placed Liverpool will have to keep up their title challenge in the absence of key playmaker Philippe Coutinho.

Liverpool extended their unbeaten run in the Premier League to 11 games with a 2-0 win against Sunderland, but could face a spell without Brazil International Coutinho, who was taken off on a stretcher at Anfield.

The Brazillian clutched his ankle after a challenge from Didier Ndong late in a first half where Liverpool failed to turn 80% possession into clear chances.

While further news on his condition will come after examinations, Reds manager Jurgen Klopp hopes to receive better news on Coutinho’s fellow countryman Roberto Firmino, who was also substituted late on against the Black Cats. It is unlikely the midfielder will require a scan after a kick on the calf.