Category Archives: League Cup

Alexis Sanchez set to start for Arsenal despite Manchester City offer

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Alexis Sanchez is set to be included in the starting eleven for Arsenal in Wednesday night’s League Cup semi-final first leg at Chelsea despite Manchester City’s £20m offer to sign him.

The Gunners was dealt another blow in Mesut Ozil to an unspecified injury as the midfielder joins Laurent Koscielny, Nacho Monreal, Sead Kolasinac, Aaron Ramsey and Olivier Giroud on the injury casualty list ahead of the League Cup game at Stamford Bridge.

With the Gunners particularly stretched in defence, coach Arsene Wenger could include the new signing Konstantinos Mavropanos among his substitutes. Although the 20-year-old centre-half just arrived last week from PAS Giannina in Greece and Wenger’s plan was to loan him out.

“He’s not ready to play for us,” the manager said last Wednesday. “We’ll give him out on loan.”

While David Ospina will start against Chelsea — in place of the first-choice goalkeeper Petr Cech — Wenger will otherwise pick his strongest available team, including Sanchez.

City have wanted Sanchez and could sign him on a free by the end of the season, but the two-month injury blow to Gabriel Jesus blow could force City manager to get the deal completed earlier.

With City having opened talks with Arsenal and have indicated a willingness to pay £20m, Sanchez, who played under Guardiola at Barcelona, is now permitted to discuss terms with overseas clubs.

The Manchester club are the frontrunners for his signature despite interest expressed by other top European clubs such as Paris Saint-Germain and Bayern Munich. A contract worth £13m a season until 2023 – or £250,000 a week – is understood to have been offered to Sanchez’s representatives.

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.

West Ham rallies from two down to edge Tottenham

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West Ham United produced a scintillating display to rally from two goals down to beat Tottenham by 3-2 and reach the quarter-finals of the League Cup.

Things started in the worst possible way for them at Wembley, with the Hammers conceding after just five minutes as a high defensive line was exploited by Son Heung-min’s pass through to Moussa Sissoko to stroke home for Spurs.

Dele Alli then doubled the lead for Spurs just before half-time through a deflected shot to put West Ham’s London rivals in a comfortable position.

But the interval seemed to be what West Ham needed to rally from their awkward position, with striker Andre Ayew beginning the turnaround by converting after stand-in keeper Michel Vorm parried Edimilson Fernandes’ thunderous drive and the Ghanaian poked home the second following Manuel Lanzini’s cutback.

It was also the Argentine’s whipped corner into the box that was another important contribution which completed the recovery as Angelo Ogbonna rose highest to flick in towards the far post.

West Ham manager Slaven Bilic, who had been under close scrutiny after a drubbing by Brighton in the Premier League last Friday, lauded his team’s performance.

“To score three goals against them (Tottenham) — who do not concede goals — then be brave and compact and good on the ball, we deserved it and it is a big boost for us,” he said.

“The mood was down at half-time, but not as down as against Brighton. That result was bad but we played good football. We did not penetrate Spurs enough, were not good in the final third and we said things about what we should do when they and ourselves have the ball.”