League Cup Roundup: Manchester United embarrassed by Milton Keynes, 4-0

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Manchester United fans could be forgiven for summoning the spirit of Dante Hicks and bemoaning “I’m not even suppose to be here today.” It was the League Cup second round, a phase the team’s league finish normally allows them to miss, but after an embarrassing result Stadium mk, the Red Devils were given another reminder of how bad things have become.

With two goals each from William Grigg and Benik Afobe, Milton Keynes Dons, currently 51st on the English ladder (League One), posted a 4-0 victory over a United team that included David de Gea, Jonny Evans, Shinji Kagawa, Danny Welbeck, and Javier Hernández. Going 72 minutes without a shot on target, Louis van Gaal’s side exits the competition at this early stage for the first time in 19 years.

To the embarrassment of fans, they did so in what was often comic fashion. The first goal resulted from an Evans giveaway deep in this own half. Failure to hold the ball also allowed Ben Reeves to set up Afobe’s first, while a Marnick Vermijl giveaway (succeeded by three poor tackles) allowed MK Dons to pile on the feeble favorite.

In the long run, being rid of the League Cup may prove a blessing for a rebuilding squad, but on a day that started with elation, Manchester United was handed one of its most striking results in recent memory. For as bad as things got under David Moyes, the Scot never delivered this kind of result.

The loss was so bad, United blog The Busby Baby posted a nine-word review: “Help us, Angel di Maria. You’re our only hope.” The only thing accompanying the analysis? A video titled “The Exploding Whale.”

Other Premier League results

United wasn’t the only top-tier side to bow out early:

  • After penalty kicks, West Ham United lost at the Boleyn Ground, with third-tier Sheffield United scoring another upset for League One (1-1).
  • Andrew Mangan’s first half goal for Shrewsbury Town allowed the fourth division side to win at Leicester City (1-0), …
  • while a late penalty converted by Atdhe Nuhiu saw Sheffield Wednesday down Burnley, 1-0.

Elsewhere:

  • West Brom got the better of their trip to penalty kicks, defeating Oxford United 7-6 after extra time ended at 1-1;
  • Bafetimbi Gomis’s first competitive goal for Swansea City put Garry Monk’s team into the third round (1-0);
  • Southampton’s first victory under Ronald Koeman saw Saints win at Millwall (2-0);
  • John Egan’s own goal allowed Newcastle to claim a 1-0 result at Gillingham;
  • while Crystal Palace got a hat trick from Dwight Gayle in a 3-0 win at Walsall.

Full results

Port Vale 2-3 Cardiff City
Middlesbrough 3-1 Preston North End
Huddersfield Town 0-2 Nottingham Forest
Swansea City 1-0 Rotherham United
Watford 1-2 Doncaster Rovers
Millwall 0-2 Southampton
AFC Bournemouth 3-0 Northampton Town
Brentford 0-1 Fulham
Scunthorpe 0-1 Reading
Derby County 1-0 Charlton Athletic
West Ham United 1-1 (p.k., 4-5) Sheffield United
Swindon Town 2-3 (a.e.t) Brighton & Hove Albion
Leicester City 0-1 Shrewsbury Town
Crewe Alexandra 2-3 (a.e.t.) Bolton Wanderers
Gillingham 0-1 Newcastle United
Norwich City 2-1 Crawley Town
Nurley 0-1 Sheffield Wednesday
Walsall 0-3 Crystal Palace
West Bromwich Albion 1-1 Oxford United
Milton Keynes Dons 4-0 Manchester United

Wednesday’s matches

Burton Albion vs. Queens Park Rangers
Stoke City vs. Portsmouth
Birmingham City vs. Sunderland
Bradford City vs. Leeds United
Aston Villa vs. Leyton Orient

Live, UCL last 16: Spurs v. RB Leipzig, Atalanta v. Valencia

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One Premier League has already found life in the Champions League knockout stage tougher than anticipated. Now, another takes the field hoping to fare better.

Spurs take the field looking to earn a hard-fought result against Bundesliga title contenders RB Leipzig at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium at 3:00 p.m. ET. Jose Mourinho has spent much of the week reminding everyone how many obstacles the Spurs squad has faced after the news that Heung-Min Son could potentially miss the rest of the season with a broken arm, joining Harry Kane on the injured list.

[ LIVE: Champions League scores ] 

Mourinho’s men have won three Premier League matches in a row, in good form coming into this match. They take on an RB Leipzig squad that sits just a point back of Bayern Munich in the Bundesliga title race but has won just once in its last four league games, a 3-0 victory over Werder Bremen last time out. Striker Timo Werner, who is rumored to be of interest to Liverpool, has not scored since January 18, a five-match drought across all competitions. Leipzig is also struggling with missing players as Dayot Upamecano is suspended and both Ibrahima Konate and Willi Orban are injured, so Chelsea loanee Ethan Ampadu is selected.

Meanwhile, Atalanta makes its Champions League knockout stage debut as the Italian side “hosts” Spanish club Valencia. The Serie A side was not allowed to play in its home Stadio Atleti Azzurri d’Italia as it does not pass UEFA regulations, so they are playing all Champions League home games at the San Siro.

Chelsea loanee Mario Pasalic starts for Atalanta in midfield with rumors of a permanent move this summer to help fund the Hakim Ziyech deal. Since December 22, the Italian side has won five while losing just one in Serie A play, including a 2-1 win over Roma last time out that saw Pasalic score the winner.

Valencia counters with Uruguayan striker Maxi Gomez up front supported by Ferran Torres and Goncalo Guedes. The Spaniards are without Ezequiel Garay, Francis Coquelin, and Gabriel Paulista all through injury. Still, they managed a 2-2 draw with Atletico Madrid last time out in La Liga play on a 59th minute equalizer by Geoffrey Kondogbia’s first goal of the season.


Wednesday Champions League action

Tottenham Hotspur v. RB Leipzig
Atalanta v. Valencia

LINEUPS

Tottenham: Lloris, Aurier, Alderweireld, Sanchez, Davies, Winks, Fernandes, Lo Celso, Alli, Bergwijn, Lucas Moura.

RB Leipzig: Gulacsi, Mukiele, Klostermann, Halstenberg, Angelino, Laimer, Ampadu, Sabitzer, Nkunku, Schick, Werner.

Atalanta: Gollini; Toloi, Palomino, Djimsiti, Hateboer, de Roon, Freuler, Gosens, Pasalic, Ilicic, Gomez.

Valencia: Domenech; Wass, Diakhaby, Mangala, Gaya, Kondogbia, Parejo, Soler, Torres, Goncalo Guedes, Gomez.

Watch Live: Man City v. West Ham

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Manchester City looks for a reaction in its first match after the UEFA sanctions were announced as they host West Ham at the Etihad on Wednesday (Watch live at 2:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com).

The Citizens will want to finish this season strong given the future uncertainty surrounding the club, and with Leicester City nipping at their heels, a strong performance will be imperative. Man City sits just a single point above the third-placed Foxes and a poor result could leave them vulnerable for when the two meet on Saturday.

[ STREAM LIVE: Man City v. West Ham ]

Man City’s lineup sees John Stones, Ilkay Gundogan, and Fernandinho all sat on the bench. Nicolas Otamendi partners with Aymeric Laporte at the back with Rodri covering them in midfield. Kevin De Bruyne and David Silva start in the middle with Bernardo Silva in the attacking midfield role, while Gabriel Jesus and Sergio Aguero both start up front.

The match is massively important for West Ham as well, with the Hammers sitting 18th in the Premier League table a point off safety. The Hammers counter Man City’s attacking lineup with three at the back as Declan Rice provides cover per usual and captain Mark Noble partners with Tomas Soucek in midfield.

LINEUPS

Man City: Ederson; Walker, Otamendi, Laporte, Mendy; Rodri, De Bruyne, Silva; Bernardo, Jesus, Aguero.

West Ham: Fabianski; Fredericks, Diop, Ogbonna, Cresswell, Masuaku; Rice, Soucek, Noble; Snodgrass, Antonio.

Solskjaer admits Rashford’s season may be over, Euros in jeopardy

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Ole Gunnar Solskjaer admitted Wednesday that Manchester United striker Marcus Rashford suffered a setback in his recovery from a stress fracture in his back, and that he may not return before the end of the Premier League season. In addition, Solskjaer admitted there is a chance that Rashford’s availability for England in this summer’s Euro 2020 tournament could be in jeopardy.

Speaking ahead of United’s visit tomorrow to Club Brugge in Europa League action, Solskjaer said that he hopes Rashford can make a return, but that it’s certainly in question as he will be out “another few months definitely.”

[ MORE: McTominay, Lindelof back fit ]

“It will just be touch and go towards the end [of the season],” Solskjaer said. “Hopefully we can get through this tournament and prolong the season. It takes time, I’m not a doctor. I was hoping he would recover quicker than what it looks like he’s going to be out for.”

When asked about his potential availability for selection at the Euros this summer, Solskjaer said, “If he’s not fit enough he won’t go.”

It seems that Manchester United expected Rashford to be back “He had a scan and it was maybe more severe, that fracture, than what we hoped for and expected, he felt fine the few days before that. And I’ve never had anatomy in school, so I didn’t know it just takes that time to recover.”

[ MORE: Neymar upset with PSG for extra rest ]

News of a potential injury to Rashford cropped up during the Premier League match against Norwich City game on January 11, when he was withdrawn after 59 minutes. Solskjaer admitted later that Rashford needed rest, but decided to risk the 22-year-old England international anyways against Wolverhampton Wanderers in an FA Cup replay four days later, a decision he later came to publicly regret. Rashford came off after just 16 minutes and it was later announced that he had aggravated his injury from a single stress fracture to a double stress fracture.

After the Wolves match, Manchester United announced a 2-3 month timetable for Rashford’s return, meaning he could be back by late March or early April. Now it seems he could be done for the year, and England’s Euro adventure may suffer as well.

Braithwaite to Barcelona imminent, could debut Saturday

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Barcelona is taking the controversial step of signing Leganes striker Martin Braithwaite outside the January transfer window, reportedly set to trigger his $19.4 million release clause. According to a report by ESPN, Braithwaite has already agreed to terms and will join the club immediately, possibly soon enough to make his debut on Saturday against Eibar.

The Catalan club was given an exception by La Liga after Ousmane Dembele was ruled out for the season, leaving the squad with just three healthy first-team forwards in Lionel Messi, Antoine Griezmann, and 17-year-old Ansu Fati. The injury to Dembele, which follows a long-term injury spell for Luis Suarez, led La Liga to allow Barcelona 15 days to sign a forward outside the window, provided it was either a free agent or a player already registered in the Spanish top flight.

Reports from all over Europe state that Barcelona attempted to negotiate with Leganes, but they held out for Braithwaite’s full release clause and Barcelona had little choice but to relent. The ESPN report states that Barcelona had come to an agreement with Getafe for Angel Rodriguez but Barcelona manager Quique Setien stepped in with a preference for Braithwaite due to his positional flexibility.

The controversial part of the situation is that Barcelona somewhat put itself in this spot by offloading forwards Abel Ruiz and Carles Perez in the January window without replacing them, and now have been saddled with an injury crisis. Many are upset that a big club like Barcelona is being bailed out by La Liga while Leganes suffers the loss of its leading scorer having already seen  Youssef En-Nesyri depart in the January window. Guillem Ballague reports that Leganes will appeal to La Liga for its own exception to sign an emergency player but as the rules stand, they cannot add a replacement for Braithwaite. The league office can authorize exceptions on a case-by-case basis, which they did for Barcelona, although policy has been to grant exceptions for long-term injuries.

The 28-year-old has scored eight goals across all competitions this season while Leganes has struggled at the bottom of the table all year long. They currently sit 19th in the La Liga table, two points clear of safety.