Guzan's impressive displays this season have seen top PL clubs knocking on the door.

Premier League Team of the Week: Ozil and Aguero shine

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There were a number of classy performances in last weekend’s Premier League, led by the stunning hat-trick of assists by Mesut Ozil and the derby day brace by Sergio Aguero.

Goalkeeper: Brad Guzan (Aston Villa)

The American put forth yet another sensational match in goal for the Villans, keeping their first clean sheet in 28 matches by parrying a top corner-bound shot by Gary Hooper in the 87th minute.

Defender: Vincent Kompany (Manchester City)

It was a master class performance by Vincent Kompany in Sunday’s derby victory over United, shutting down Wayne Rooney during the run of play and unleashing a beastly dummy run that opened up Samir Nasri to thump home the Citizens’ fourth goal of the match.

Defender: Dejan Lovren (Southampton)

The arrival of Dejan Lovren has been the difference at Southampton this season, shoring up a central defense that had a tendency to leak goals last year. On Saturday the Croatian led the Saints back line that kept Liverpool at bay and nodded home the match-winning header in the 53rd minute.

Defender: Leighton Baines (Everton)

Leighton Baines produced two incredible free-kicks to help Everton to help claim all three points from West Ham on Saturday. The full-back swerved the first into Jussi Jääskeläinen’s right corner and the second, from the nearly identical distance of 22 yards out, into the left corner.

Midfielder: Morgan Amalfitano (West Bromwich Albion)

Steve Clarke’s late acquisition of Morgan Amalfitano on loan from Ligue 1 side Marseille proved a shrewd move as the Frenchman throttled home West Brom’s third goal of the contest with a powerful far-post strike that tore the side netting.

Midfielder: Stephane Sessegnon (West Bromwich Albion)

Speaking of shrewd moves by Steve Clarke, the West Brom manager snagged what may well prove to be one of the deals of the transfer window when he spent $10.4 million (£6.5m) to snap up Stephane Sessegnon from Sunderland. In the Benin international’s first match with the Midland’s club, he made Sunderland pay for their sale by scoring the opener that would prove to be all the Baggies needs to put the Black Cats away.

Midfielder: Mesut Ozil (Arsenal)

Three goals for Arsenal on Saturday and three assists for Mesut Ozil. Pretty standard, really.

Midfielder: Robbie Brady (Hull City)

Robbie Brady is proving himself quite the tricky little customer at Hull City. He’s quick, skilled and plays the game with a chip on his shoulder. And if he keeps scoring goals for the Tigers, you can expect the former Manchester United product to become a wanted man come next summer.

Forward: Loic Remy (Newcastle)

Loic Remy snagged himself a brace in Saturday’s 3-2 home loss to Hull City. The goals came through precise positioning as Remy looks to play that classic poacher role. But really though, the Frenchman should’ve had the equalizer – and his hat-trick – when he missed a sitter in the 91st minute.

Forward: Sergio Aguero (Manchester City)

Sergio Aguero makes goalscoring an art. His opener on Sunday showed fantastic positioning, technique, concentration and balance. His second was testament to how well the Argentine reads the game. Aguero remains one of the world’s most potent finishers and will be near the top of the Premier League goalscoring list come next May.

Forward: Libor Kozak (Aston Villa) 

It took only two minutes for Libor Kozak to open his Premier League scoring account, poking home Aston Villa’s match-winner. Look for the big Czech to make an impact again next weekend as Christian Benteke’s hip injury may prevent him from taking part in the match against Manchester City.

LIVE: Man City, Stoke, Everton face second-tier teams in League Cup quarters

Kevin De Bruyne, Manchester City FC
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Three of the four Capital One Cup quarterfinals take place on Tuesday with three Premier League teams facing second-tier opposition.

“What’s that, did somebody say banana skin?”

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Manchester City host Hull City at the Etihad Stadium with Manuel Pellegrini‘s side hoping to have David Silva back in the starting lineup but Joe Hart is still out injured so Willy Caballero will continue in goal. Steve Bruce‘s side drew 1-1 at the Etihad last season when they visited City before being relegated from the Premier League. The Tigers are fighting for instant promotion back to the big-time and knocked out Leicester City on penalty kicks in the last round.

Everton face a tricky trip to the Riverside Stadium as Roberto Martinez and the Toffees play Middlesbrough. Aitor Karanka’s side lost in the play-off final to Norwich last season but are looking good for promotion this term as they sit second in the second-tier and knocked out Manchester United on penalty kicks in the last round. Can Everton sort out their defensive frailties?

A third PL club has a tricky test coming up on Tuesday as Stoke City’s reward for beating Chelsea on PKs in the last round is a home game against Sheffield Wednesday. This will be no stroll in the park for Mark Hughes‘ side as the second-tier Owls comfortably knocked off Arsenal in the last round and this game has “cupset” written all over it.

Below are the fixtures for Tuesday as you can click on the link above to follow all the games live.

League Cup quarterfinals


Manchester City vs. Hull City – 2:45 p.m. ET
Middlesbrough vs. Everton – 2:45 p.m. ET
Stoke City vs. Sheffield Wednesday – 2:45 p.m. ET

FIFA sponsors demand “independent oversight” of reforms
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LONDON (AP) Five of FIFA’s sponsors have written to the executive committee of soccer’s scandal-battered governing body demanding “independent oversight” of the reform process.

[ MORE: Chelsea’s new stadium plans ]

Sponsors were originally promised places on the FIFA reform committee. But instead of being invited into meetings discussing the overhaul of the organization, they have only been offered seats on an advisory board which is yet to be appointed.

The sponsors’ letter was sent from Adidas, McDonald’s, Coca-Cola, Visa and Budweiser brewer Anheuser-Busch to FIFA’s ruling body ahead of meetings this week.

[ MORE: Chelsea, United battle for Muller

The letter, which was obtained by The Associated Press, says it is “clear to us that such independent oversight needs to run long-term through the implementation and evolution of the reform process.”

The reform committee was established following the indictment of soccer officials by American authorities.

VIDEO: Gerrard returns to Liverpool for training in MLS offseason

Liverpool v Sunderland - Premier League
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Steven Gerrard is back at Liverpool.

[ MORE: Chelsea’s new stadium plans ]

The legendary midfielder, 35, has returned to the Reds just six months after leaving his hometown club for a new adventure in Major League Soccer with the LA Galaxy.

Gerrard spent a glittering 17-years at Anfield, guiding Liverpool to the UEFA Champions League title and winning every other major title except for the elusive Premier League crown.

[ MORE: Chelsea, United battle for Muller

After suffering an early exit from the 2015 MLS Cup playoffs with the Galaxy, Gerrard is now back in England and he’s using his time at home to train with Liverpool’s first-team and help out in any way he can as Jurgen Klopp has allowed him to come back into the dressing room he called home for nearly two decades.

“It’s a good situation,” Klopp said. “Everybody had a smile on their face when they saw Stevie. It’s good to have him here and we hope we can help him, and he can help us for sure with being in the dressing room. It’s cool.”

Below are photos and videos from Gerrard’s return as Klopp once again quashed any rumors regarding a loan move for the former Liverpool skipper who will enter his first full MLS season in 2016 with the Galaxy.

French PM says Benzema has no place on national team

Karim Benzema, France
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PARIS (AP) The French prime minister joined in the criticism of Karim Benzema on Tuesday, saying the Real Madrid striker “has no place” on the France team at the European Championship in the wake of a blackmail scandal.

[ MORE: Chelsea’s new stadium plans ]

Benzema is one of France’s key players as it gets ready to host the Euro 2016 tournament, but the forward faces charges of conspiracy to blackmail relating to an extortion scam over a sex tape. He is suspected of having played an active role in pressuring France teammate Mathieu Valbuena, a case that has badly damaged his reputation.

“A great athlete should be exemplary,” Prime Minister Manuel Valls told French radio Europe 1. “If he is not, he has no place within the France team.”

The investigation, centering on wiretap evidence, started when Valbuena took legal action after being contacted by a man claiming to possess an incriminating sex tape.

In a case that could drag on for months, Benzema’s involvement has not yet been fully determined. But investigators who charged him in October believe he was approached by a childhood friend to act as an intermediary and convince Valbuena to deal directly with the blackmailers.

“If a minister was handed preliminary charges, he would no longer be part of the government,” Valls said.

Benzema denies any wrongdoing but his arguments were undermined last week when Valbuena spoke directly about his attempts to pressure him in an interview with Le Monde newspaper.

[ MORE: City now valued at $3 billion ]

The French football federation has also joined the case as plaintiff.

“There are so many kids, so many youngsters in our suburbs that relate to great athletes,” Valls said. “They wear the blue jersey, the colors of France, which are so important in these moments.”

Preliminary charges under French law mean magistrates have strong reason to believe a crime was committed, and allow time for further investigation. The charges may later be dropped. In 2010, Benzema was handed preliminary charges for soliciting an underage prostitute but was acquitted in a case that lasted more than three years and tarnished his reputation.

Benzema’s image was further dented last month when he spat on the pitch after the national anthem was played at Real Madrid’s Santiago Bernabeu stadium in a tribute to the 130 fatalities of the Paris attacks ahead of a match against Barcelona.

Benzema’s action ignited a wave of criticism on social media, prompting his lawyers to issue a statement in which they condemned “the scandalous interpretation” of the incident. Benzema, who has 27 international goals, had posted several messages in support of the victims in the days that followed the attacks.