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LIVE, League Cup semi: Bristol City host Man City

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Bristol City host Manchester City in the second leg of their League Cup semifinal on Tuesday, with the Robins 2-1 down from the first leg at the Etihad Stadium.

The winner will play either Arsenal or Chelsea in the final at Wembley, with the London rivals locked at 0-0 as they play their second leg at the Emirates Stadium on Wednesday.

[ LIVE: Follow Bristol City-Man City ]

Lee Johnson’s Bristol City are the heavy underdogs, once again, but their fairytale run in the League Cup has seen them oust four Premier League opponents previously in Watford, Stoke City, Crystal Palace and Manchester United. Surely the runaway Premier League leaders won’t be Bristol City’s next scalp…

Pep Guardiola has named a strong starting lineup as he aims to reach his first domestic cup final as Man City boss, with Claudio Bravo replacing Ederson in goal the only major change.

Bristol City, who sit in fifth place in England’s second-tier, five points off the automatic promotion spots, have two absentees with goalkeeper Frank Fielding missing out, while defender Nathan Baker is only on the bench after late fitness tests.

We are all just waiting (and hoping) for Bristol City to score so they can put up an awesome goal GIF…

Click on the link above to follow the action live, while below are the starting lineups for both teams. We will have analysis and reaction on the semifinal second leg right here on Pro Soccer Talk.

LINEUPS

Bristol City: Steele, Wright, Flint, Magnusson, Brownhill, Pack, Smith, Walsh, Bryan, Paterson, Reid. Subs: Wollacott, Baker, Eliasson, Kent, Engvall, Taylor, Diedhiou

Manchester City: Bravo; Walker, Stones, Otamendi, Zinchenko; Fernandinho; Bernardo, Silva, De Bruyne, Sane; Aguero. Subs: Ederson, Danilo, Kompany, Sterling, Gundogan, Mangala, Yaya Toure

Judging the Premier League’s in-season managerial changes

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Stoke City, Swansea City, and now Watford have all made managerial changes in the last month, and await the long-term response of their players to new bosses Paul Lambert (so far, so good), Carlos Carvalhal (mixed, but a win), and probably Javi Gracia, respectively.

That means 40 percent of Premier League clubs have ditched their Opening Day bosses this season. Some were overdue, others were debatable, and the latest — Watford’s sacking of Marco Silva after denying Everton’s pursuit of the boss — is a real head scratcher.

[ MORE: Watford fires Silva, blames Everton ]

How have the moves worked so far?

Crystal Palace
Frank De Boer — 0W-4L
Roy Hodgson — 6W-7D-7L

Hodgson is actually on pace to outdo Sam Allardyce‘s 8W-2D-11L campaign to save Palace’s 2016-17 season. FDB’s short-lived campaign is difficult to judge, his lone win coming in the League Cup against Championship competition, but there’s little debate as to whether Hodgson’s discipline has worked at Selhurst Park.

Everton
Ronald Koeman — 2W-2D-5L
David Unsworth (caretaker) — 2W-2D-1L
Sam Allardyce — 3W-4D-3L

Everton’s entire season has been the same tale: beat the lower half clubs but fail to meet expectations against almost anyone of merit. That’s taken a dive in recent weeks, as Allardyce has drawn West Brom twice and lost at Bournemouth. Jury’s out, and Allardyce has a lot to prove as another team brings him in and spends dough on his behalf.

Leicester City
Craig Shakespeare — 1W-3D-4L
Michael Appleton (caretaker) — 1W
Claude Puel — 7W-4D-4L

It’s now two-straight seasons of poor starts dooming the Leicester City manager, and Shakespeare understandably did not get patience considering the Foxes fired the architect of their stored PL run in Claudio Ranieri (who has Nantes fifth place in Ligue 1). Puel got a rough ride from expectation-heavy Saints fans, who’d probably love to have him back right now. This is an unqualified success, and Leicester may just make it back to Europe.

Swansea City
Paul Clement — 3W-3D-12L
Leon Britton (player manager) — 1D-1L
Carlos Carvalhal — 1W-1D-1L

It’s hard to gauge whether Carvalhal was the right hire, but Swans’ record has improved in the five matches since he was fired and the lone losses are to Liverpool and Spurs. The firing, it seems, was the right call.

West Brom
Tony Pulis — 2W-4D-6L
Gary Megson (caretaker) — 2D
Alan Pardew — 1W-4D-4L

The wins still need to come, but West Brom do look a more promising side and Alan Pardew’s desire to play two strikers certainly makes for better entertainment than Tony Pulis’ unit. Like Everton, the jury is still out. If we had to judge, we’d say it’s the right move for a fan base which prefers a more fashionable style of play (but also prefers being in the Premier League).

West Ham
Slaven Bilic — 2W-3D-6L
David Moyes — 4W-4D-4L

So far, Moyes is doing wonders for his reputation while performing feats that Everton is still seeking from Allardyce; West Ham has spent some money, and Moyes is getting performances out of Marko Arnautovic and using his width well (Arthur Masuaku has been impressive at full back).

Stoke City 2-0 Huddersfield: Lambert bags debut win

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  • Stoke win their first game with Paul Lambert in charge
  • Huddersfield are winless in six PL games, losing three on the spin
  • Stoke climb out of bottom three; goals from Allen, Diouf

Stoke City beat Huddersfield Town 2-0 on Saturday at the bet365 Stadium with goals from Joe Allen and Mame Biram Diouf handing Paul Lambert a win in his first game in charge of the Potters.

Lambert’s men were the better team throughout and broke through twice in the second half in quick succession against a poor Huddersfield side.

With the win the Potters moved out of the relegation zone on 23 points, while Huddersfield slipped closer to the relegation zone and are just three points above the drop zone.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

Stoke started the better of the two teams as Charlie Adam flashed an effort just wide from long range, while at the other end Steve Mounie flashed an effort just wide. Huddersfield had some

Ryan Shawcross headed over and although Stoke dominated possession, they struggled to get in-behind a stubborn Huddersfield defense.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]

The Potters’ best chance of the first half came last. Xherdan Shaqiri raced free right on half time but Jonas Lossl made a great stop to deny the Swiss winger lobbing him.

[ MORE: Latest Premier League standings ] 

Shaqiri had an acrobatic effort ruled out for offside, yet Lambert’s men soon made up for their missed chances. Choupo-Moting’s cross from the right found Allen at the back post and he slotted home to send the home fans, and Lambert, wild.

Soon after Lambert was jumping for joy on the sidelines agains as Choupo-Moting’s pass found Shaqiri who teed up Diouf to finish and make it 2-0.

[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score ]

Stoke almost added to their healthy lead late on but they settled for a massive three points to breath new life into their battle against relegation and drag Huddersfield into the mire.

Premier League Power Rankings

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With the festive season over and things starting to settle down, now seems like a good time for our first batch of Power Rankings of 2018.

[ MORE: PL Power Rankings – 2017-18 ]

The last time we fired this baby up was in early December, and you can see the ranking of the clubs back then in the parenthesis after their club name in the list below.

We have some massive movement, both up and down.

Here is the latest batch of Premier League Power Rankings as we sort the 20 clubs based on their current form.


  1. Liverpool (5) — What a few weeks for Liverpool. They won four of their last five games and Mohamed Salah, Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mane are scoring goals, plus Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain is stepping up with Philippe Coutinho gone. Jurgen Klopp‘s masterplan is showing significant progress. With Virgil Van Dijk on board, Liverpool will be serious title contenders next season.
  2. Tottenham Hotspur (9)Harry Kane leads the PL in goals (shock) and is now getting plenty of help from Dele Alli, Heung-Min Son and Christian Eriksen. Spurs are pushing towards the top four and the only way they will not qualify for the UCL again is if their defensive lapses crop up.
  3. Manchester City (1) — A draw away at Crystal Palace and a loss at Liverpool has seen City stumble of late but they’re still going to win the league. Defensive lapses have cost them but Kevin De Bruyne and Co. still look like they will score two or three goals every game.
  4. Manchester United (2) — Jose Mourinho’s men are looking much better with Paul Pogba back in the team. Four assists in his last two games show Pogba’s importance and United have the best defense in the league.
  5. Crystal Palace (14)Roy Hodgson is working his magic and Palace are pushing for the top 10. One defeat in their last 13 PL games has seen the Eagles soar to 12th place after their disastrous start to the season.
  6. West Ham United (19) — The Hammers are flying under David Moyes with Marko Arnautovic and Manuel Lanzini in form up top. All of a sudden a top 10 finish is very doable.
  7. Chelsea (3) — Four-straight draws in all competitions and three 0-0 stalemates on the spin mean Antonio Conte is under pressure. Eden Hazard and Alvaro Morata’s partnership is struggling.
  8. Leicester City (6)Riyad Mahrez is the main man and Claude Puel‘s side began 2018 with a big win v Huddersfield and a draw at Chelsea, where they should have won. Leicester back to their best.
  9. Bournemouth (12) — Really good few weeks for Eddie Howe. Unbeaten in four PL games and big wins against Everton and Arsenal at home. The Cherries have rediscovered their scoring touch.
  10. Arsenal (4) — Wow. What a poor few weeks for the Gunners. One win in the last five in the PL, out of the FA Cup and Sanchez on his way. Ouch. Arsene Wenger is now allow back on the sidelines after his ban. Is that a good thing?
  11. West Bromwich Albion (18)Alan Pardew has his first win as West Brom boss and the Baggies ended their 21-game winless streak. They’re tougher to break down and have regained their threat from set pieces.
  12. Swansea City (20) — Plenty of confidence in the air in South Wales as Carlos Carvalhal has four points from his first three games in charge. Need new faces in January but Swansea have given themselves a chance.
  13. Newcastle United (15) — Solid and steady but badly need attacking reinforcements in January. Two wins and two draws in last five show how steady and tough to beat they’ve become but Rafael Benitez’s needs extra attacking flair.
  14. Everton (10) — No wins in six and just four shots on goal in their last five games has Sam Allardyce‘s boys bang out of form after a good start. Cenk Tosun and Theo Walcott should help them kick on again.
  15. Watford (7) — No PL team has picked up less points than Watford over their last 10 games. Another second half of season slump. Marco Silva‘s fine start evaporating.
  16. Huddersfield Town (16) — No win in their last five games and David Wagner‘s side have conceded seven goals in last two defeats. The Terriers are set for a proper relegation scrap.
  17. Stoke City (13)Paul Lambert has one heck of a challenge on his hands. Stoke in bottom three, have worst defense in Europe’s top five leagues and you struggle to see where their goals will come from. Not a great combo.
  18. Brighton and Hove Albion (17) — 1 win in last 12 games and they’ve failed to score in eight of those games. Ice cold. Slipping fast.
  19. Burnley (9) — Six games without a win and their goal threat has dried right up. Sean Dyche‘s still 7th, but they’re in a huge slump.
  20. Southampton (11) — On the current longest winless run in the PL. Mauricio Pellegrino‘s job will be in serious jeopardy very soon. They keep taking leads but throwing them away and look defensively fragile. Just one point above the drop zone.

Man United 3-0 Stoke City: Clinical Red Devils drops Potters

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  • Antonio Valencia scored on return from injury
  • David De Gea made an important save before halftime
  • United collected three goals on nine shots on target

Manchester United was clinical as they dispatched Stoke City with ease at Old Trafford 3-0 on Monday. Antonio Valencia started things less than 10 minutes in, while Anthony Martial and Romelu Lukaku were the men to see the scoreline out.

The Red Devils opened the scoring in the ninth minute when Valencia received the ball at the top of the box on a square pass from Paul Pogba, and he cut into the box and to his left to create space, and when the incoming defender over-committed, he belted a curler inside the far post, leaving Jack Butland with no chance. The goal is Valencia’s first since December 2nd, coming on his return to action from a hamstring injury suffered against West Brom in mid-December.

[ MORE: What to do with the emaciated Arsenal squad ]

Xherdan Shaqiri tried an audacious overhead effort minutes later hoping to get Stoke City back on level terms, but his shot was weak and straight at David de Gea from a tight angle. Steven Ireland came inches from tying things back up on 21 minutes, but as he unleashed his effort from the penalty spot with space to shoot, he slipped on the wet surface and yanked it wide left.

After Ireland’s miss, Stoke became the more attacking team, and it put Manchester United on its heels for a period of time as they were sloppy in possession. They failed to capitalize, and by the 35-minute mark, the hosts were back on top, and profited.

In the 38th minute, Romelu Lukaku used his strength on the right edge to get the ball centrally for Pogba, who cut left for Anthony Martial. The 22-year-old hit the ball first-time, and ripped it into the top corner just past the fingertips of a diving Butland.

On the stroke of halftime Shaqiri forced an important save from David de Gea down to his left off a volley, but the Spaniard was there to keep the two-goal lead intact. In the second half, United had a few half-chances early on. Martial nearly had a second just before the hour mark, but Butland smothered the chance on the doorstep. Juan Mata pulled the trigger two minutes later and fired just wide of the far post, and then again rifled over soon after.

Lukaku put the game away with 18 minutes to go as he received the ball from Martial with his back to goal and turned past two defenders and slid the ball into the bottom corner for a 3-0 lead. The win puts Manchester United clear into second place, three points above Liverpool and twelve behind Manchester City, who lost for the first time this season last time out. Stoke City, meanwhile, will hand the reigns to Paul Lambert who was in attendance for today’s game, taking over for the fired Mark Hughes.