We Met The Best Team In England, Solskjaer Admits After Fourth Semi-Final Loss In Two Years

Manchester United’s Norwegian manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer reacts at the final whistle during the English League Cup semi-final football match between Manchester United and Manchester City at Old Trafford in Manchester, north-west England, on January 6, 2021.
PETER POWELL / POOL / AFP

 

Manchester United coach, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer on Wednesday admitted that Manchester City were a better side following his team’s 0-2 loss to their city rivals in the semi-final of the League Cup. 

It was United’s fourth semi-final loss in two years with John Stones and Fernandinho the unlikely goalscorers for Guardiola’s men, who will face Jose Mourinho’s Tottenham in the final at Wembley on April 25.

READ ALSO: Manchester City Confirm Three More COVID-19 Cases

“It’s not psychological, sometimes you meet good teams in the semis,” said Solskjaer, whose side also lost to City at this stage of the competition last season.

“We met the best team in England and for me we didn’t have enough today.

“But we’re getting closer. This is a much better Manchester United compared to a year ago in those semis, that’s positive but not enough.”

 

Manchester City’s Spanish manager Pep Guardiola (C) and players react at the final whistle during the English League Cup semi final first leg football match between Manchester United and Manchester City at Old Trafford in Manchester, north west England, on January 6, 2021.

 

Mourinho was United boss the last time they lifted a trophy in 2017 and the Red Devils’ wait for silverware under Solskjaer continue.

Guardiola had also dedicated the victory to club legend, Colin Bell, a day after the City great died aged 74.

“That’s for him and his family. This person helps to build something for this club,” said Guardiola about Bell who scored 152 goals in 492 appearances for City during a 13-year career in which he won five major trophies.

“It is an incredible victory for us to beat United away and reach another final and, especially today, it is for him.”

City players warmed up in number eight shirts in honour of Bell’s old number.

A minute’s silence was held before kick-off with Bell’s former teammate Mike Summerbee reduced to tears as he watched on from the stands.

 

Tottenham Beat Chelsea On Penalties To Progress In League Cup

Tottenham Hotspur's English striker Harry Kane (L) and Tottenham Hotspur's Argentinian midfielder Erik Lamela celebrate victory after Chelsea's English midfielder Mason Mount missed his penalty during the English League Cup fourth round football match between Tottenham Hotspur and Chelsea at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in London, on September 29, 2020. Matt Dunham / AFP
Tottenham Hotspur’s English striker Harry Kane (L) and Tottenham Hotspur’s Argentinian midfielder Erik Lamela celebrate.

 

Mason Mount missed the final spot-kick as Tottenham beat Chelsea 5-4 on penalties to progress to the quarter-finals of the League Cup after a 1-1 draw.

Timo Werner’s first goal for Chelsea put Frank Lampard’s men in command against a much-changed Tottenham team playing the second of four games in eight days.

But Erik Lamela deservedly levelled for Spurs seven minutes from time and new Chelsea goalkeeper Edouard Mendy was unable to stop Eric Dier, Lamela, Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg, Lucas Moura and Harry Kane scoring from the spot.

Tammy Abraham, Cesar Azpilicueta, Jorginho and Emerson also converted their penalties as the first nine of the shootout were successful.

But Mount’s effort clipped the post to the delight of the watching Gareth Bale, who could be fit to feature in the last eight with the quarter-finals not till late December.

Mourinho claimed the fixture pile up gave him no choice but to prioritise Thursday’s Europa League tie against Maccabi Haifa given the financial incentive on offer for the club.

But despite making nine changes, he named a strong side, including captain Hugo Lloris, club record signing Tanguy Ndombele and new signing Sergio Reguilon on his debut.

Chelsea also handed a debut to Mendy and the early signs from the Frenchman were encouraging that he can solve the Blues’ problem position.

Lampard made eight changes, but Werner was one of those retained from the 3-3 draw at West Brom on Saturday and he took the opportunity to get his first goal for the club after a big money move from RB Leipzig.

Reguilon was twice at fault in the build up as he gifted possession to Azpilicueta and then dived in trying to block the Spaniard’s cross, which allowed the Chelsea captain to pick out Werner at the edge of the box to arrow a shot into the bottom corner.

Tottenham responded well to going behind as only a last-ditch intervention from Kurt Zouma denied Gedson Fernandes an equaliser.

Lampard had won his previous three meetings against his former manager Mourinho and the tensions between the two flared during the first-half as they exchanged angry words on the touchline.

On the field, Spurs were the better side as Mendy made important saves from Lamela and Reguilon either side of half-time.

Mourinho showed his intent by introducing Harry Kane from the bench with 20 minutes to go.

Moments later the Portuguese was marching down the tunnel after Dier as the defender made a dash to the dressing room before quickly returning.

Chelsea did not make the most of a brief period with an extra man as Callum Hudson-Odoi fired over and Werner’s fierce effort was saved by Lloris.

And the visitors were punished seven minutes from time when Lamela slotted home at the far post from Reguilon’s cross to send the game to a shootout and ultimately Spurs into the last eight.

 

AFP

Man City, Liverpool Reach League Cup Fourth Round

Manchester City’s Belgian midfielder Kevin De Bruyne (2nd R) shoots through players during the English League Cup third round football match between Manchester City and Bournemouth at the Etihad Stadium in Manchester, north-west of England, on September 24, 2020. Laurence Griffiths / POOL / AFP

 

Holders Manchester City needed a Phil Foden goal 15 minutes from time to see off Bournemouth 2-1 and reach the fourth round of the League Cup, while Liverpool ran riot in a 7-2 win at Lincoln on Thursday.

City have won the competition for the past three years, but Pep Guardiola admitted he had been forced to name a youthful side to prioritise their Premier League campaign due to a shortened pre-season and a series of positive coronavirus tests.

Liam Delap, son of former Stoke midfielder Rory Delap, took just 18 minutes to score on his City debut with a fine finish into the top corner from Foden’s pass.

However, the lead lasted just four minutes as Bournemouth’s Sam Sturridge spun inside the City box before firing into the far corner.

Guardiola introduced the artillery he had on the bench after half-time in Kevin de Bruyne and Raheem Sterling, but it was another first-team regular in Foden who made the breakthrough after Riyad Mahrez’s shot came back off the post. City will travel to Burnley in the last 16.

Manchester City’s English midfielder Phil Foden (L) celebrates with teammates after scoring their second goal during the English League Cup third round football match between Manchester City and Bournemouth at the Etihad Stadium in Manchester, north-west of England, on September 24, 2020. Laurence Griffiths / POOL / AFP

 

Liverpool will face Arsenal twice at Anfield in three days next week after Jurgen Klopp’s much-changed side hit Lincoln for seven with Takumi Minamino and Curtis Jones both scoring twice.

Xherdan Shaqiri opened the floodgates with a brilliant free-kick that clipped the underside of the bar.

Minamino curled home to double the Premier League champions’ lead before Curtis Jones struck twice in four minutes to make it 4-0 before half-time.

A minute into the second-half, Minamino had his second, but League One Lincoln responded to get two goals to remember the night by.

Tayo Edun finished off a great team move and Lewis Montsma headed home a corner.

But Liverpool continued to find the net at the other end as Marko Grujic briefly made it 6-1 before Divock Origi rounded off the scoring.

Bertrand Traore marked his Aston Villa debut with a stunning side-foot volley to score his side’s second goal in a comfortable 3-0 win at Bristol City.

Anwar El Ghazi opened the scoring 11 minutes in before Traore showed why Villa spent £17 million ($21 million) to sign him from Lyon last week with a cute finish from a narrow angle.

Another Villa new boy Ollie Watkins then grabbed his first goal for the club 17 minutes from time as Dean Smith’s men set up a last 16 clash with Stoke.

AFP

Tottenham’s League Cup Tie Postponed Due To Coronavirus

Son shone like a million star in the game. Photo: [email protected]

 

 

Tottenham’s League Cup tie at Leyton Orient was called off on Tuesday after several of their League Two opponents tested positive for the coronavirus.

Just two hours before Jose Mourinho’s side were due to play the third round match at the Breyer Group Stadium, the English Football League announced it had been postponed.

Orient had already shut down their training ground as a result of the virus outbreak in their first-team squad.

“Tonight’s Carabao Cup match between Leyton Orient and Tottenham Hotspur is not taking place this evening as scheduled,” an Orient statement said.

“Discussions are ongoing between the relevant stakeholders in regards to the implications of the fixture not taking place tonight and a further update will be provided in due course.

“Leyton Orient, the EFL and the relevant authorities are conducting a thorough review of the club’s Covid-19 secure procedures with the view to reopening the stadium and training ground as soon as possible.”

Reports said Tottenham could be awarded a bye into the fourth round against Chelsea or Barnsley under League Cup rules.

Orient are keen for the tie to be rearranged, but with the next round scheduled for next week there is little room to fit it in.

The fourth tier club had revealed the positive cases on Monday, with reports claiming Tottenham had paid for their opponents’ testing after Orient’s game against Mansfield on Saturday.

Football League clubs no longer have to conduct mandatory tests on their players and staff for Covid-19 on a weekly basis this season, as is still the case in the Premier League.

Tottenham may not be disappointed at the match being called off in the midst of a hectic spell of five games in 10 days that Mourinho had branded “crazy”.

They played on Sunday at Southampton in the Premier League and will travel to Macedonia for their Europa League third qualifying round tie against Shkendija on Thursday.

AFP

FA Cup Replays Scrapped For Next Season

The FA Cup trophy. Photo: [email protected] Emirates FA Cup

 

FA Cup replays will be scrapped for the 2020-21 season in a bid to ease the strain on clubs during the coronavirus pandemic, the Football Association announced on Thursday.

With a shortened season starting a month later than usual in September there is more pressure on an already hectic calendar.

The FA has taken the decision that all ties in the FA Cup will be decided on the day rather than allowing for the usual replay.

“In order to assist in easing pressure on the football schedule, there will be no replays for the 2020-21 season,” the FA said in a statement.

“After two seasons of record levels of prize funds, the Emirates FA Cup prize fund has returned back in line with 2017-18 levels due to the financial impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.”

Significant changes have also been made by the English Football League to the League Cup in a bid to help teams cope with the schedule.

The first four rounds will be compressed into consecutive weeks in September, with the fifth round held the week before Christmas to avoid clashes with the Champions League.

The two-legged semi-finals, often criticised by managers, will now be played on January 5 or 6, with the club drawn first benefiting from home advantage.

Premier League clubs will enter the competition in either round two, or round three for sides with European commitments.

AFP

Man City Retain League Cup After Aston Villa Win

Manchester City’s Spanish manager Pep Guardiola (C) celebrates with his backroom staff as City players celebrate their win after the English League Cup final football match between Aston Villa and Manchester City at Wembley stadium in London on March 1, 2020. Manchester City won the game 2-1. Glyn KIRK / AFP

 

Manchester City claimed the League Cup for the fourth time in five seasons by beating Aston Villa 2-1 at Wembley on Sunday thanks to goals from Sergio Aguero and Rodrigo.

Mbwana Samatta pulled a goal back for Villa, but their wait for the club’s first silverware since 1996 goes on as Pep Guardiola’s men have now won six of the last seven major trophies in English football.

Guardiola made eight changes from the side that won 2-1 at Real Madrid in the Champions League on Wednesday with Kevin De Bruyne among those left on the bench.

However, it mattered little as City had the luxury of recalling Aguero, Raheem Sterling and David Silva to the starting XI, and the gulf in class showed.

Guardiola’s raft of changes also handed a rare start to Phil Foden and the 19-year-old more than justified his selection.

Rodrigo’s fine pass picked out Foden to head back into the path of Aguero and the Argentine’s deflected effort beat Orjan Nyland in the Villa goal to open the scoring on 20 minutes.

Foden was then inches away from a goal himself with a deflected shot that flew inches wide.

Villa felt aggrieved when City were awarded another corner moments later after Jack Grealish fired the ball off Ilkay Gundogan for what should have been a goal kick.

Instead, City doubled their lead as Gundogan’s corner was met with a powerful downward header from Rodrigo.

Villa could barely even get a touch for the next 10 minutes as the holders threatened to run riot in a repeat of the 6-1 thrashing they handed the hosts at Villa Park last month.

Sterling had a glorious chance for his first goal of 2020 deflected behind by a brave block from Tyrone Mings.

But moments later the reason Mings is ahead of John Stones in the pecking order for England selection became clear as the City defender inexplicably fell to the floor to give Villa a lifeline.

A long ball forward eventually came to Anwar El Ghazi and from his cross Samatta headed low past Claudio Bravo to the delight of the travelling thousands from Birmingham and Villa fan Prince William in the stands.

The difference in the desperation for success between the supports was obvious as Villa were roared on vociferously throughout, while City failed to sell out their allocation.

That did not compensate for the difference in quality on the field as City quickly settled back into their rhythm and could then introduce De Bruyne for the final half hour.

However, City failed to turn their dominance into more goals as Rodrigo was denied by a fine save by Nyland from another corner before Aguero then fired into the side-netting to give Villa hope for the last 10 minutes.

And they were very nearly punished as the often-criticised Bravo had to make a brilliant save three minutes from time to turn Bjorn Engels’ header onto the post and maintain City’s grip on the competition.

AFP

Hip Injury Rules Maguire Out For Several Weeks

Manchester United’s Harry Maguire

 

Manchester United defender Harry Maguire could be sidelined for several weeks with a hip injury, according to British media reports on Wednesday.

Maguire missed United’s 3-1 defeat against Manchester City in the League Cup semi-final first leg on Tuesday as a result of the problem.

It was originally thought Maguire’s injury was a foot problem sustained in the goalless FA Cup third round draw at Wolves last Saturday.

There has been no official confirmation from United on a likely return date for the England international.

But Maguire, who joined United from Leicester last year, is not expected to feature in Saturday’s Premier League match against Norwich.

Given United’s key run of fixtures coming up, which includes a trip to Premier League leaders Liverpool on January 19, an extended absence for the £80 million centre-back would represent a significant blow for boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.

When addressing the issue following the defeat by City, Solskjaer had been optimistic Maguire would not be out for long, but it appears that is no longer the case.

“We don’t know (about Maguire). He’s not going to be long term, but I don’t think he’ll be ready for the weekend, but let’s see,” Solskjaer said.

AFP

Man City, Man Utd And Leicester Qualify For League Cup Semis

A photo combination of Manchester City, Manchester United and Leicester City players celebrating their qualification into league cup semi-final

 

Holders Manchester City booked their place in the semi-finals of the League Cup as Raheem Sterling’s second-half double warded off a shock by League One Oxford in a 3-1 win at the Kassam Stadium.

Manchester United ended fourth-tier Colchester United’s fairytale run with a 3-0 win at Old Trafford, while Leicester survived a second-half fightback from Everton to secure their place in the last four 4-2 on penalties after a 2-2 draw.

Aston Villa completes the semi-finalists after they thrashed Liverpool’s youngest ever side 5-0 on Tuesday with the European champions’ first team away at the Club World Cup.

READ ALSO: Firmino Strikes Late To Take Liverpool Into Club World Cup Final

City have won this competition for the past two seasons and Pep Guardiola showed his intent to keep hold of the trophy by naming a strong side.

Joao Cancelo’s first goal for the English champions opened the scoring midway through the first half, but City were momentarily stunned when Matty Taylor levelled a minute into the second half.

Sterling quickly restored the visitors’ lead as he tapped home a wonderful cross from Angelino.

But City men were put under intense pressure for a spell and needed Claudio Bravo to make a fine save from Tariqe Fosu’s shot.

Guardiola introduced Gabriel Jesus from the bench in a bid to kill the tie off and it was from the Brazilian’s cross that Sterling tapped home his second 20 minutes from time.

United patience pays off

Manchester United had to be patient before seeing off Colchester, who had beaten Tottenham and Crystal Palace to make the last eight.

Marcus Rashford was guilty of missing a host of chances in a goalless first half.

However, the England international made amends six minutes into the second period with a calm finish to register a career-best 14th goal of the season.

Rashford was also the creator of United’s other two goals as Ryan Jackson turned a cross into his own net before Anthony Martial stretched to convert at the back post.

Leicester travel to City in the Premier League on Saturday, four points ahead of the champions in second place.

And the Foxes will also have a semi-final to look forward to in the new year as they held their nerve from the spot after blowing a comfortable lead.

James Maddison and Jonny Evans struck in five first-half minutes to give the visitors a 2-0 half-time lead.

Ben Davies gave Everton hope 20 minutes from time and a sensational long-range strike from Leighton Baines sent the game to penalties.

Maddison then saw his spot-kick saved to start the shootout, but Kasper Schmeichel was Leicester’s hero with saves from Cenk Tosun and Baines before Jamie Vardy scored the decisive penalty.

AFP

Liverpool Yet To Resolve League Cup Dilemma, Klopp Admits

Liverpool Seek Swift Relief From Mounting Title Pressure
A file photo of Liverpool’s German manager Jurgen Klopp. Paul ELLIS / AFP

 

 

Jurgen Klopp admits Liverpool are yet to resolve their League Cup dilemma after holding talks over the fixture clash between the quarter-final against Aston Villa and the Club World Cup.

Klopp’s side will be in the Middle East for the Club World Cup when their League Cup tie at Villa was scheduled to be played in December.

Klopp had threatened to pull Liverpool out of the League Cup if the English Football League didn’t accomodate them by moving the last eight match.

He has considered fielding two separate sides to solve the fixture congestion, but it remains likely the Villa game will be pushed back until early January.

“We discussed it. We have to as there is not too much time to make that decision. But no final decision yet,” Klopp told reporters on Friday.

“If we did play while in Qatar it would be two different teams but we cannot leave any players at home for the Carabao Cup.

“We have two games there (in Qatar) in a very busy period. It is not that we can go there with 11 players and say these 11 guys play two games in Qatar and the other guys playback home against Aston Villa.

“It doesn’t work like that. We will make a decision but not yet.”

READ ALSO: Arsenal’s Xhaka To Miss Wolves Clash

Klopp believes the League Cup needs an overhaul if it is to remain in the calendar given the already hectic demands on the top Premier League clubs.

“It is obvious it is too much. Absolutely obvious. Everyone involved in the game will tell you that. Let’s have a look at how they deal with it,” he said.

But Klopp has doubts about whether the authorities are ready to listen to the managers who fear their players’ health is being put at risk by fixture burn-out.

“If you see the schedule coming up it is all OK,” he said. “Premier League: what a competition, sensationally cool. Then Carabao Cup: nice competition, what a wonderful game we had on Wednesday.

“But then there is still in January, after a very busy schedule in December, there is two (legged) semi-finals.

“It is an easy decision for me to say, ‘OK, if you keep that competition why have two (legged) semi-finals?’

“That is the difference to other countries. We are the only country where no-one wants to touch it.

“The FA wants to touch the League Cup, the Football League wants to touch the FA Cup but no-one wants to talk about it.”

AFP

Fourth-Tier Colchester Get Dream Draw With Manchester United

 

Fourth-tier Colchester United’s chairman expressed his delight at being drawn away at Manchester United in their League Cup quarter-final declaring “You come into football for days like this.”

Colchester — the lowest ranked side remaining in the competition — have lost both times they have faced United: 1-0 in the FA Cup fifth round in 1978-79 and 2-0 in the League Cup third round in 1983-84.

However, that did not diminish the joy at the prospect of playing at Old Trafford. Having knocked out last season’s Champions League finalists Tottenham Hotspur in the third round, Colchester are keen for another high-profile giant-killing act.

“Everyone’s delighted with the draw,” their chairman Robbie Cowling told the BBC.

“You come into football for days like this. We’re going to enjoy every minute.”

Holders Manchester City also face lower-league opposition as they travel to third tier Oxford United — who knocked out Manchester United in the fourth round of the 1983-1984 edition.

There are two all-Premier League ties with Aston Villa to host Liverpool and Everton at home to Leicester City.

After their thrilling win on penalties over Arsenal following a 5-5 draw, Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp threatened to call a halt to his side’s participation because the quarterfinal is too close to the FIFA World Club Cup.

Liverpool are due to play in the semi-finals in Qatar on December 18 and the League Cup quarter-finals are scheduled for that week.

However, the EFL — organisers of the League Cup — released a statement saying they were talking to Liverpool about an alternative date.

“The EFL is in discussions with Liverpool to identify an alternative date given the club’s participation in the FIFA Club World Cup competition,” they said.

Draw:

Aston Villa v Liverpool

Everton v Leicester City

Manchester United v Colchester United

Oxford v Manchester City

AFP

Tottenham Stunned By Fourth-Tier Colchester In League Cup

Tottenham’s Victor Wanyama (R) and Son Heung-Min (L) vie with Colchester United’s Courtney Senior during the clash. Chris RADBURN / AFP

 

Tottenham’s disappointing start to the season hit a new low as they suffered an embarrassing League Cup third-round defeat on penalties at fourth-tier Colchester on Tuesday.

Mauricio Pochettino’s side were held to a 0-0 draw in normal time before losing 4-3 on penalties against opponents currently 10th in League Two.

Christian Eriksen’s opening spot-kick was saved and Lucas Moura hit the crossbar before Tom Lapslie scored the winning penalty to spark a pitch invasion from Colchester’s jubilant fans.

It was the first time Tottenham manager Pochettino had been knocked out of a domestic cup competition against lower-league opposition.

The shock defeat extended Tottenham’s poor run, which included a 2-1 loss at Leicester in the Premier League on Saturday.

After finishing as Champions League runners-up last season, Tottenham were expected to kick on this season but instead, they have struggled to find any consistency.

Pochettino has grumbled about the distractions of the transfer window, with Eriksen and several other players linked with moves that never materialised.

As a result, Tottenham have looked a disjointed team, with two-goal leads squandered in draws at Arsenal and Olympiakos.

A surprise home defeat against lowly Newcastle was another blow and Tottenham are languishing in seventh place in the Premier League at present.

The upset was the biggest setback so far for Pochettino, who made 10 changes to his side but could still call on enough quality players to expect a win against a team 71 places below them in the football pyramid.

There were debuts for 17-year-old Troy Parrott and 20-year-old Japhet Tanganga, while Eric Dier made his first appearance of the season alongside Dele Alli in midfield.

But Tottenham laboured badly and could not find the breakthrough as Colchester followed up their second-round win against Crystal Palace with an even bigger scalp on a memorable night that ranked alongside the club’s famous FA Cup success against Leeds in 1971.

With Pochettino yet to win his first trophy as Tottenham boss and the club without silverware since the 2008 League Cup, this was another blow to their flagging morale.

AFP

Chelsea’s Kepa Fined, Apologises For League Cup Final Mutiny

Chelsea’s Spanish goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga reacts after saving the penalty of Manchester City’s German midfielder Leroy Sane in the penalty shootout at the end of the English League Cup final football match between Manchester City and Chelsea at Wembley stadium in north London on February 24, 2019.Glyn KIRK / AFP

 

Chelsea goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga has been fined a week’s wages by the club after defying manager Maurizio Sarri and refusing to be substituted during the League Cup final on Sunday.

“Although there was a misunderstanding, on reflection, I made a big mistake with how I handled the situation,” Kepa said in a statement on Chelsea’s website which announced the fine.

The club simultaneously published a statement from Sarri in which the manager said the pair had spoken following the row, which occurred in the extra time of the match which Manchester City won on penalties.

“He has apologized to me, his team-mates and the club,” said Sarri.

“It is up to the club if they want to discipline him according to the club rules, but for me, this matter is now closed.”

Sarri, who reacted furiously when Kepa refused to be substituted after needing treatment in the closing stages, said the incident had been a “misunderstanding”.

“There was a misunderstanding yesterday but (Kepa) realizes he made a big mistake in the way he reacted.

“The team performance as a whole was extremely positive and it is a shame to see how this incident has overshadowed our efforts in what was a very competitive cup final.”

Kepa, the club’s record £71 million ($93 million) signing from Athletic Bilbao, refused to leave the field to be replaced by Willy Caballero. Sarri then stormed off down the tunnel in anger before returning.

“I wanted to take the time today to apologize fully and in person to the coach, to Willy, my team-mates and to the club,” said Kepa, 24, whose fine will be donated to the Chelsea Foundation.

“I have done this and now I want to offer the same apology to the fans. I will learn from this episode and will accept any punishment or discipline the club decides is appropriate.”

Sarri is under increasing pressure with Chelsea losing four of their past seven games in a run that has seen them drop to sixth in the Premier League, crash out of the FA Cup and lose the League Cup final.

There is little time for Sarri and his team to regroup with third-placed London rivals Tottenham Hotspur visiting Stamford Bridge on Wednesday in the Premier League.

 

AFP