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Daniel Sturridge out a week or two with new hamstring injury

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Liverpool striker Daniel Sturridge – on loan at West Bromwich Albion – will miss a few more weeks of time after picking up a new hamstring injury just four minutes into the 3-0 loss to Chelsea on Monday.

Sturridge was withdrawn in favor of Jay Rodriguez after getting tangled up with Cesar Azpilicueta near the touchline.

The 28-year-old has been struck with a brutal spell of injuries in the past few years. Most recently, he missed six weeks after picking up a hamstring problem in training in early January. He had only just returned after moving on loan to West Brom, playing 78 total minutes through a trio of losses before re-injuring himself.

“We need him up and running as it’s goals we’ve struggled with,”West Brom manager Alan Pardew said after the loss to Chelsea. “He felt his hamstring after a 60-meter sprint in the first moments of the game. We’ll have to nurse him. He won’t play next week but hopefully the week after.”

Sturridge missed time with hip and hamstring injuries last season that sapped him of any type of consistency and form and leaving him to make just seven Premier League starts. The year before, he made just 11 Premier League starts while missing a full four months with knee, hip, and hamstring problems.

“It was a blow to lose Daniel on his first run,” Pardew said. “That didn’t give us the perfect start. We just can’t seem to get the goals that get us the wins, and they need to come, and come quickly, so Daniel’s recovery will be important now  we need to get him back.”

Arsenal joins Man City in League Cup Final

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  • Hazard scores early
  • Freak own goal makes it 1-1
  • Xhaka puts Arsenal ahead

Granit Xhaka‘s second half goals snapped a 1-1 tie and sent Arsenal into the League Cup Final, as Arsene Wenger‘s Gunners topped Chelsea on Wednesday at the Emirates Stadium.

A goofy double-deflection which will go down as an Antonio Rudiger own goal was Arsenal’s other goal, and Eden Hazard opened the scoring for Chelsea. The clubs played a scoreless first leg at Stamford Bridge two weeks ago.

Arsenal has won three FA Cups in four seasons, but has not won the League Cup since 1993.

Man City will be the opponent in League Cup Final on Feb. 25 at Wembley Stadium.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

Pedro had the ball in the goal five minutes into the match, but was offside when he darted onto Cesar Azpilicueta’s perfectly-weighted ball.

Hazard was within the rules when he cut between Shkrodan Mustafi and Laurent Koscileny to meet Pedro’s pass and it was 1-0 in the seventh.

Wily Caballero was injured two minutes later when he stopped Jack Wilshere‘s in-tight bid to equalize for Arsenal.

The Gunners did make it 1-1 in the 12th off the ensuing corner kick, as Monreal’s header turned off the heads of Marcos Alonso and Antonio Rudiger en route to goal. A freak play, but 1-1 nonetheless.

Willian was injured and Ross Barkley hit the pitch in his new blue No. 8. The ex-Everton star was then chopped down by a yellow-card earning Wilshere.

Mesut Ozil’s deflected effort in stoppage time, set up by Wilshere, just missed the far post.

Arsenal went ahead before the game was an hour old, as Xhaka got his boot between Caballero and the ball to prod home the Gunners’ second after Alexandre Lacazette‘s pass bounded into his path.

[ MORE: Latest Premier League standings ]

[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score ]

FA Cup: Chelsea, Swansea into 4th rd; B’mouth ousted by Wigan

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Two more Premier League sides booked their place in the fourth round of the FA Cup, courtesy of third-round replays, on Wednesday, bringing the PL’s total representation to 14 clubs…

[ MORE: Tuesday’s 3rd-round replay roundup ]

Chelsea 1-1 (5-3 PKs) Norwich City

Chelsea’s scoreless streak — for both themselves and opponents (three straight 0-0 draws across all competitions) — came to a merciful end on Wednesday, but not before surpassing the 300-minute mark. Michy Batshuayi — who, it must be said, struggled mightily in making just his third start (all in cup competitions) since mid-October — broke yet another scoreless deadlock in the 55th minute, ending the Blues’ scoreless run at 331 minutes.

With barely 30 seconds remaining in second-half stoppage time, 19-year-old left back Jamal Lewis brought the Canaries level with a thunderous header off the post.

Extra-time saw Chelsea reduced to 10, and then nine, men. Pedro was booked for diving just after the hour mark, and the Spaniard earned a second yellow card for a wild challenge in the 117th minute. Four minutes later, in second-half extra-time stoppage time, Alvaro Morata was booked for diving and proceeded to shout and gesticulate in the referee’s face. A second yellow was shown immediately.

Willy Caballero denied Nelson Oliveira on Norwich’s first attempt of the ensuing penalty shootout, giving the Blues the only cushion they’d need as Willian, David Luiz, Cesar Azpilicueta, N'Golo Kante and Eden Hazard all converted.

Chelsea will host Newcastle United in the fourth round on Sunday, Jan. 28.

[ MORE: Wednesday’s transfer rumor roundup | Tuesday | Friday ]

Swansea City 2-1 Wolverhampton Wanderers

Swansea faced the greatest threat of a Cupset on Wednesday but managed to come out on top, knocking off runaway Championship leaders and champions-elect Wolves. The Swans went ahead through Jordan Ayew in the 11th minute before the prolific Diogo Jota, who’ll be in the PL one way or another next season, brought Wolves back to 1-1 in the 66th. Three minutes later, Wilfried Bony bagged the winner to see Carlos Carvalhal’s side through to the next round.

Swansea will visit League Two side Notts County, who knocked off Championship playoff hopefuls Brentford in the third round, on Saturday, Jan. 27.

Wigan Athletic 3-0 Bournemouth

Bournemouth sat 32 places above Wigan in the English football pyramid when Wednesday’s replay kicked off, and it matter not a single iota, as Paul Cook’s side hammered the Cherries at the DW Stadium. Sam Morsy, Dan Burn and Callum Elder bagged the goals for the League One leaders (three points clear after 26 of 46 rounds played). Wigan have alternated each of the last four seasons, finishing 23rd in the Championship and leading/winning League One. It’s been five years since the Latics were relegated from the PL, in the 2012-13 season.

Wigan will host West Ham United in the fourth round on Saturday, Jan. 27.

Wilshere plays down latest injury in social media post

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You can forgive Arsenal fans for assuming the worst after Jack Wilshere left Arsenal’s League Cup match with Chelsea on Wednesday with a leg injury.

Luckily for them, and Arsenal as a whole, the injury is not as bad as once feared.

That’s according to Wilshere himself, anyway, who posted on his official Twitter account to thank the fans for their messages of support and to update everyone, stating he’d only be out “a couple” of days.

Wilshere appeared to hurt his ankle closing down Chelsea’s Cesar Azpilicueta about 10 minutes into the second half. After getting some quick treatment, Wilshere returned to the field only to fall back to the turf and need to be substituted off.

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger had already ruled Wilshere out for Sunday’s match against Bournemouth. Wilshere is coming off his first consistent string of 90-minute performances for Arsenal for the first time since early in the 2014-2015 season.

After Bournemouth, Arsenal is off during the mid-week as it prepares for Crystal Palace on January 20.

Wenger, Conte support VAR despite being a “cause of anxiety”

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Add Arsene Wenger and Antonio Conte, two of the most powerful managers in the game, to the list of notable figures who support the use of a video-assistant referee (VAR).

[ MORE: Man City come back to lead Bristol City, 2-1, in other semi ]

The VAR, which made its debut in the upper reaches of English soccer (Brighton & Hove Albion vs. Crystal Palace — FA Cup) on Monday, was available to referee Martin Atkinson during Wednesday’s scoreless League Cup semifinal first leg between Arsenal and Chelsea. While none of his initial calls were overturned by use of the VAR, Atkinson did consult the additional (off-site) assistant on multiple occasions — a non-penalty incident between Danny Welbeck and Cesc Fabregas, and a no-cards-shown extra-curricular confrontation between Calum Chambers and Cesar Azpilicueta.

After the game, Conte voiced his support of the fledgling system, even though it was his side which was not awarded a late, decisive penalty — quotes from the BBC:

“I think it was a good solution, when there is a doubt during the game the referee can check and see the situation again and make the best decision. It is right, in this way for sure the mistakes are less.”

[ MORE: Guradiola credits Bristol — “They came here to play” ]

While Wenger flat out said he “felt it took too much time” to resolve the Welbeck-Fabregas penalty shout (perhaps that had something to do with watching the game from the stands, at a distance), he admitted the system “worked well” overall — quotes from the BBC:

“It was interesting, a cause of anxiety as it took a bit of time to make the second decision with Welbeck and Fabregas, but overall it worked well.

“But between the penalty action or penalty not action, with the time taken it would have been strange to come back to the penalty.”

On the very grand macro level, it does seem absurd that the only person in the world who can’t immediately use replays to determine whether or not a call was made correctly or incorrectly, is the one person whose job is to make the calls and, in key instances, determine the outcome of the game.