Three things we learned from Leicester vs. Man City

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Leicester City dug-in and battled out a scoreless draw against Manchester City on Tuesday, as the Foxes enter 2016 second on the Premier League table.

A favorite to get relegated when the season began, Leicester’s run has been one of the most amazing stories in Premier League history.

[ MORE: Premier League standings ]

On the other hand, Manchester City sit third on the table but will be disappointed with their play as of late, as it is title or bust for Manuel Pellegrini‘s men.

Here are three things we learned at the King Power Stadium.

LEICESTER EYEING TOP FOUR FINISH

Claudio Ranieri has been coy on his ambitions with Leicester City, consistently saying 40 points and Premier League survival was the goal. Now with 39 points at the midway point of the season, the Foxes have proven a top four finish is in their reach.

Ranieri decided to switch up his usual formation against Manchester City, opting to give Gokhan Inler his first start in more than three months. By putting the seasoned veteran in the middle of the pitch, Ranieri showed respect to City’s attack and understood a draw would be a good result, leaving Jamie Vardy as a lone striker. With the match still scoreless an hour in, Ranieri took off Inler and put on a striker in Leonardo Ulloa, going back to his preferred 4-4-2 formation as the Foxes pushed on for a win.

[ MORE: Three things we learned from Manchester United vs. Chelsea ]

If Ranieri wanted to, he could have gone for the win from the start, but he instead played for a result to stay tight towards the top of the table. Tonight’s performance showed Leicester can put in gritty performances against the best in the league.

MANCHESTER CITY’S POOR AWAY FORM MUST BE FIXED

Manchester City’s last win away from home came back on September 12 at Crystal Palace, and that match saw a stoppage time winner give City all three points. After Tuesday’s scoreless draw at Leicester, the Citizens’ record away from home is 3-3-3, tied for the worst away record of teams in the top half of the table.

City have scored just one goal in their last five away matches, and have only scored a total of eight goals on the road all season. The only teams to score fewer away goals than City are Newcastle, Swansea, and West Brom. If Manuel Pellegrini wants to win the Premier League title this year, which is the only option in the eyes of the City board and supporters, their away form must improve tenfold in the second half of the season.

AGUERO’S HEALTH KEY TO MAN CITY

Sergio Aguero is one of the elite strikers in Europe, and is the reigning Golden Boot winner in the Premier League. However, he has struggled throughout his career to stay fit, as he has missed nearly half of City’s matches this season.

[ MORE: Everton’s Steven Naismith set to join Norwich City in $12 million move ]

The Argentinian only managed 60 minutes against Leicester in just his second match back from a heel injury. It was clear Aguero is still trying to find his feet, as he was nowhere near top form on Tuesday. When Aguero is healthy, he causes all sorts of problems for an opposing defense. Not only is he a top goalscorer, but he also occupies the attention of the back-line, creating more space for the likes of Raheem Sterling, Kevin De Bruyne, and David Silva. With the recent struggles scoring away from home, a healthy Sergio Aguero could be a quick fix to those problems.

Goalkeeper goal seals knockout stage spot in UEFA Youth League

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Club Brugge goalkeeper Senne Lammens may just be 17 years old, but he just lived every goalkeeper’s dream: to score a dramatic equalizer in the dying seconds of a game to send the club through to a European competition’s knockout stage.

The young goalkeeper came forward on a corner in the 94th minute of a game against Real Madrid in the UEFA Youth League Wednesday morning in Belgium. With the visitors leading 2-1 and added time just about expired, Brugge needed to score an equalizer to secure passage to the knockout stage, lest they be left at the mercy of Galatasaray’s match against PSG.

Lammens delivered. The corner swung in to the top of the six-yard box and the youngster was on hand to head home a pinpoint effort inside the far post.

The header was quite literally the last act of the game, with stoppage time already creeping more than 60 seconds past the minimum three added minutes.

Lammens has shuttled back and forth between the youth squad and the senior squad this season serving occasionally as an emergency third goalkeeper behind Simon Mignolet and Ethan Horvath. Mostly, though, he’s been with the youth squad appearing in five of their six UEFA Youth League games, with three wins and a draw.

Report: Arsenal not interested in Ancelotti “profile”

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According to The Athletic reporter David Ornstein, Arsenal is not interested in a manager of Carlo Ancelotti’s “profile.”

The Italian was recently let go by Napoli after a disappointing first half of the season despite qualifying for the Champions League knockout stage.

Ancelotti has won a Premier League title, three Champions League titles, and a Scudetto during his career but apparently a manager with his resume does not interest the Gunners, who may be looking for a more youthful boss with a longer-term strategy and potentially stronger club or domestic ties.

At 60 years old, Ancelotti has been fired from posts at Real Madrid, Bayern Munich, and now Napoli over the last four years. Over those four seasons, he has just one league title, the 2016/17 Bundesliga crown he won with Bayern in runaway fashion, and has exceeded expectations in very limited capacities, instead seeing things turn sour at each job relatively quickly. This season at Napoli, the club sits seventh in the Serie A table, mired in a horrible seven-match winless run that has seen them tumble further from the Champions League places.

Ornstein’s report also touched on the timeline of a potential hire, with the club apparently still deciding on whether to see out the season with interim manager Freddie Ljungberg or make a mid-season appointment. He states that the club “want situation settled asap” but also prefer “right man over quick decision.” He does not identify who the number one target is, but suggests that if that person is available at this point in time, they will make the hire mid-season, otherwise there will be a waiting game.

Jorge Sampaoli resigns as Santos boss

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Brazilian club Santos confirmed Tuesday evening that manager Jorge Sampaoli has resigned as boss.

Sampaoli, who won the 2015 Copa America in charge of Chile but could not recreate that success with the Argentinian national team, signed on with Santos a year ago and guided them to a second-place finish in the Brazilian top flight, 16 points behind runaway champions Flamengo. His contract had another year, expiring in the winter of 2020, but with reports of offers from multiple clubs, he has stepped down.

The most widely reported destination is fellow Brazilian club Palmeiras, whom many believe Sampaoli has already entered talks with. He has also been linked with Argentinian club Racing, and his name has cropped up on occasion with the Arsenal vacancy, although that seems like a longshot. It was said in late October that Sampaoli had an offer from an unnamed La Liga club, but those rumors have cooled.

His reason for leaving Santos after just one successful season in charge is unconfirmed, but rumors are circulating that Sampaoli had incredibly ambitious transfer plans for the offseason, and when club president Jose Carlos Peres could not guarantee his support, the relationship became strained.

The 2019 season was mostly successful for Sampaoli at Santos, finishing second in the league table, but the secondary competitions were somewhat disappointing. They received a tough first-round draw in the Copa Sudamericana, falling to River Plate on away goals. They were also ousted from the Copa do Brasil in the Round of 16, falling 2-1 to an Atletico Minero side that finished 13th in the league table.

Tierney out months as Arsenal injuries pile up

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According to multiple reports, including Mark Mann-Bryans of PA Sport and Charles Watts of Goal.com, Arsenal full-back Kieran Tierney could be out up to three months after dislocating his shoulder in the 3-1 win over West Ham on Monday.

Tierney was withdrawn in the 29th minute after an awkward fall, using the bottom of his shirt as a makeshift sling. The club is still deciding on whether he will require surgery, according to Mann-Bryans, and that decision will ultimately determine the length of time he will miss. Still, even without surgery, it could leave him sidelined for a month or more.

The 22-year-old has struggled with injuries since joining the Gunners this past summer, missing the first seven games of the year with a hip injury. He has seen action in just five Premier League games thus far, and again could be sidelined for a significant spell. He could also end up missing Scotland’s critical playoff match against Israel in late March depending on his recovery timeline and fitness level.

Tierney’s injury is not the only one Arsenal is currently sweating. Granit Xhaka will miss the Europa League group stage finale against Standard Liege with a concussion, while Hector Bellerin is struggling with a hamstring problem. “Hector had a feeling in his hamstring during the warm-up [before West Ham] and we took the decision,” said interim manager Freddie Ljungberg after the win over the Hammers. “Not going to force anyone to play if they don’t feel 100%.”

Dani Ceballos is still sidelined with a hamstring injury suffered against Vitoria in October Europa League play and won’t return to training until later this month, while Rob Holding is a question mark this week after missing the West Ham game thanks to a bruised knee.

Arsenal, currently sitting ninth in the Premier League table and is scheduled to host Manchester City this coming Sunday following the trip to Belgium. They have upcoming games against Everton, Bournemouth, Chelsea, and Manchester United through the festive period.