Daily Archives: December 20, 2017

Jose Mourinho may recall Henrikh Mkhitaryan in League Cup tie

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Manchester United coach Jose Mourinho he will consider recalling Henrikh Mkhitaryan to the team playing in the Carabao Cup quarter-final at Bristol City on Wednesday.

While the Armenian is yet to make an appearance this month and has played only once since United’s defeat at Chelsea on 5 November, Mourinho intends to rotate his squad as much as he can before the festive glut of fixtures.

“Henrikh has a chance — I intend to make a few changes for the match but not too many,” Mourinho said.

“Bristol City are one of the best teams in the Championship, and the Championship today is not what it was five or six years ago. Today the Championship is full of high-quality players, and you have to treat all its teams with respect.”

Aside from including Mkhitaryan, Ander Herrera could step down for the Bristol City game to make way for Paul Pogba, back after suspension. Zlatan Ibrahimovic, an unused substitute at West Bromwich Albion on Sunday, could also feature in Mourinho’s cup side.

Since the defeat at Chelsea United have only lost one Premier League game and are second in the Premier League. The other game was Manchester derby against League leaders City, which, as the game against Bristol at least gives Mourinho a break from being asked about whether he has given up hope of catching Pep Guardiola’s team in the league.

“There is nothing I can do about that situation except keep going,” he added. “That is what we intend to do.”

“People are saying the title race is over but I don’t think this is the time to go on holiday. We don’t want to go on holiday. We want to carry on winning as many of our matches as possible.”

Bravo the hero as Manchester City enters League Cup semi-final

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Manchester City has reached the semi-finals of the Carabao Cup following a penalty shootout victory over Leicester City.

City’s keeper Claudio Bravo, who saved two penalties in the previous round against Wolves, was the hero for City once more as he kept out Riyad Mahrez’s effort.

The home side had taken the game into extra-time and then penalties after scoring after Jamie Vardy slotted home a penalty, awarded when Demarai Gray was harshly adjudged to have been brought down by Kyle Walker.

“What I liked the most is how we reacted and overcame that situation,” City coach Pep Guardiola said. “It is a good indication for the future.”

However, while Guardiola is happy to secure a place in the semi-finals of the Carabao Cup and extend their unbeaten domestic run to 27 matches, he ruled out any possibility that his squad could pull off an quadruple.

“That is not going to happen. Of course not,” the former Barcelona and Bayern Munich coach said. “Come on, that isn’t real. What we’re living isn’t real. The situation of winning 16 or 17 games in a row in the league and qualifying for the Champions League before we finished the group stage and now we’re here playing with a lot of young players, that is not normal.”

“In football you drop points and you lose competitions. I am not thinking about how many titles, I am thinking about the next game.”

Both teams were fielding second-string sides at Leicester’s King Power Stadium, although City winger Bernardo Silva scored the opener in the first half by slotting home his second goal of the season following Ilkay Gundogan’s powerful run from the halfway line.

Earlier, Arsenal had also made it through to the League Cup last four by beating West Ham, while Chelsea host Bournemouth and Manchester United travel to Bristol City on Wednesday.

The draw for the semi-finals is scheduled to take place after the latter game, with the two-legged home and away semi-final ties set to be played in January.

Atletico Madrid reports FC Barcelona to FIFA over Griezmann approach

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La Liga club Atletico Madrid have reported their domestic title rivals FC Barcelona to FIFA for making an illegal approach for their French forward Antoine Griezmann.

Griezmann, 26, who signed a contract with Atletico in the summer lasting until 2021 to ward off interest from numerous suitors such as Manchester United amidst a transfer embargo placed against the Madrid club.

However, he became the subject of increased speculation over recent days after Barca’s director of institutional relations hinted it was “possible” that the club’s president, Josep Maria Bartomeu, had held talks with the 26-year-old’s family.

This goes in direct violation against FIFA rules, which say that a team interested in signing a player must first make contact with his club before being allowed to hold negotiations, with Atletico therefore taking the case towards the world governing body.

“Atlético Madrid have reported Barcelona for repeated contact with Griezmann and his people, contact which we are aware of,” a spokesman for Atletico told Mundo Deportivo. “He is a player with a contract with Atlético Madrid and a long contract at that.”

A FIFA spokesman has confirmed that the complaint had been received.

Griezmann has a release clause in his contract set at €100m (£88.4m) but a report last week suggested that Barca’s technical director Roberto Fernandez having already held talks with the Frenchman’s entourage, with Guillermo Amor later admitting the club are interested in signing him.

“If that’s what the newspaper said, it’s possible …” Amor told Movistar+. “Maybe there’s been a meeting and things have advanced, although I don’t know. Rumours are inevitable in football.”

“In the case of Griezmann, there are a lot of players we could be talking with, initiating some kind of relationship if there’s an opportunity. We’re obliged to have contact with players. It’s something which is done.”