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EFL Cup: Liverpool, Arsenal move on; Newcastle hangs six

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Five of eight EFL Cup quarterfinalists are set with three matches to come on Wednesday.

Liverpool, Arsenal, Newcastle United, and Hull City clinched spots in the quarterfinals with Tuesday wins. Leeds United took the fifth spot with a rousing match that ended in penalty kicks.

[ MORE: Ballon d’Or omissions ]

Wednesday will see Manchester United vs. Manchester City, West Ham against Chelsea, and Southampton versus Sunderland.

United States men Cameron Carter-Vickers (Spurs) and DeAndre Yedlin (Newcastle) started their respective matches. Gedion Zelalem played the final 10 minutes for Arsenal.

Arsenal 2-0 Reading

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain scored with a hard, low shot from a tight angle to give the hosts a lead, and then buttressed the score with a second half marker. Zelalem then replace “Ox” in the 80th minute.

Newcastle United 6-0 Preston North End

The “Rafalution” has Benitez’s Magpies atop the Championship, and they are thriving in the EFL Cup as well.

Mo Diame gave Newcastle an insurance goal after Aleksandar Mitrovic headed a Matt Ritchie free kick home to make it 1-0. In between those goals, Preston went down a man.

Spark plug Ritchie buried a penalty early in the second half to make it academic. Mitrovic added his second in the 55th minute, while Diame completed his brace with three minutes to play and Ayoze Perez finished the scoring in stoppage time.

Liverpool 2-1 Tottenham Hotspur

Daniel Sturridge went to the dirty areas to poke home a very Daniel Sturridge goal, the first of two on the night in a win at Anfield.

Sturridge gave American centerback Cameron Carter-Vickers headaches all day, and Spurs goalkeeper Michel Vorm helped keep the match within a goal.

But Sturridge beat Kevin Wimmer‘s offside track and walked in alone on Vorm to slot home for a strengthened lead.

A soft penalty off an Erik Lamela dive gifted Spurs the chance to draw within one, and Vincent Janssen converted the opportunity.

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 25: Daniel Sturridge of Liverpool (C) celebrates scoring his sides first goal with his Liverpool team mates during the EFL Cup fourth round match between Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspur at Anfield on October 25, 2016 in Liverpool, England. (Photo by Jan Kruger/Getty Images)
(Photo by Jan Kruger/Getty Images)

Bristol City 1-2 Hull City

There wasn’t much to like at Ashton Gate before Harry Maguire put the Tigers up before the break. That may have weakened the hosts’ resolve, and Michael Dawson netted right after halftime to double Hull’s advantage.

Lee Tomlin scored a goal for Bristol City just before the final whistle.

Leeds United 2-2 Norwich City (PKs, 3-2)

Longtime Spurs property Alex Pritchard has his first Canaries goal with this marker at Elland Road. Leeds had a goal pulled back for a handball, and then equalized properly through Marcus Antonsson. That 1-1 score line held up through 90 minutes

Pritchard then provided the assist on Nelson Oliveira‘s extra time winner, but Garry Monk‘s men responded through New Zealand striker Chris Wood to push it toward penalties.

Leeds advanced by converting three penalties to Norwich’s two.

Rumored Neymar for Bale swap: Who wins?

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Who would gain more of an advantage from the rumored, sensational Gareth Bale for Neymar swap: Paris Saint-Germain or Real Madrid?

Both players are currently problems for their clubs, though neither is known as a true rabble-rouser; Real Madrid boss Zinedine Zidane wants to be done with the newly-minted 30-year-old Bale, while PSG knows Neymar wants to leave and would love to satiate Kylian Mbappe’s appetite to be the man at their club.

[ REPORT: Man Utd, Leicester agree Maguire fee ]

Presumably some money would be headed PSG’s way in addition to Bale, and both clubs would be getting a motivated megawatt star.

Neymar doesn’t turn 28 until February, but the difference in age may be offset by the Brazilian’s track record of injuries.

In fact, his injury status last season combines with an off-field accusation of sexual assault and a red card for confronting a fan to overshadow his production: Neymar’s 23 goals and 13 assists in just over 2300 minutes last season, including five and two in the Champions League (and a goal and an assist against defensively-stout Liverpool).

Bale presents very few personality challenges, and PSG won’t have a problem with his massive wages (especially with Neymar off the books). His numbers have dipped in two of three seasons since his otherworldly 2015-16, but La Liga is a more difficult scoring league than Ligue 1.

Neymar has twice been a Ballon d’Or finalist and, presuming his legal troubles don’t persist, could be a title fight changer in La Liga. Imagine the Neymar, Eden Hazard, and Luka Jovic trying to outgun Lionel Messi, Antoine Griezmann, and Luis Suarez? Insane.

We’d say Real would be winning the straight-up swap, and that it’s pretty unlikely to go down that way. So it depends what PSG does with the relative Financial Fair Play freedom that would come with the money that also arrives from Spain. Is it Idrissa Gana Gueye? Someone else who helps take PSG’s Champions League hopes to the next level?

Manchester United in ‘concrete talks’ with Lille over Pepe

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Manchester United are reportedly in “concrete talks” to agree a fee with Lille for much-tracked playmaker Nicolas Pepe.

The 24-year-old attacking midfielder has been linked with Liverpool and Arsenal amongst others, and Lille has admitted he’ll be leaving the club.

[ REPORT: Man Utd, Leicester agree Maguire fee ]

United’s reported salvo was around $87.5 million. He’d give them a star who could play across from Anthony Martial or as an attacking midfielder under Romelu Lukaku.

Only Kylian Mbappe and Teji Savanier garnered better season-long ratings than Pepe in the 2018-19 Ligue 1 campaign, and Pepe’s 22 goals and 11 assists stand out from the pack. Only Mbappe had more goals and only Savanier more assists.

Pepe has four goals in 11 caps for the Ivory Coast, and made three starts in Les Elephants’ five-match run at the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations. He’s a fit for the Premier League, and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer‘s system. And if the Red Devils can keep him from Liverpool, well, all the better we’re sure.

Report: Manchester United, Leicester agree to monster Maguire fee

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Manchester United and Leicester City have agreed a fee for Harry Maguire, clearing the way for the English center back to join the Old Trafford set.

That fee is a whopping $100 million, according to Bleacher Report’s Dean Jones. That’s about $4 million more than the world record for a defender, set when Liverpool purchased Virgil Van Dijk from Southampton.

[ MORE: USMNT CB to West Ham? ]

Maguire has been a statistical monster for Leicester City, and he passes the eye test, too.

Manchester United has needed to upgrade its stable of center backs for some time, and now the biggest question is who will work best alongside the 6-foot-4 26-year-old.

The former Sheffield United, Wigan Athletic, and Hull City defender is now 20-times capped by England.

The move could have a ripple effect on the Premier League, as the Foxes have been expected to bid for Burnley star James Tarkowski should Maguire leave the King Power Stadium.

Transfer rumor roundup: USMNT’s Long to London, Newcastle linked with pair

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Could USMNT center back Aaron Long be headed to the Premier League?

The 26-year-old could join West Ham United’s stable of center backs, which includes Issa Diop, Fabian Balbuena, and Angelo Ogbonna.

Sky Sports says that the Red Bulls defender has drawn the interest of Lyon and Fiorentina, but been offered to the Irons should they match his $5 million release clause.

Unable to find a place with Portland and Seattle, Long spent a few seasons in the USL before earning a place with RBNY.

Now 11-times capped by the USMNT with two goals, Long could be bringing his talents to London’s Olympic Stadium.

Elsewhere in the Premier League, Newcastle United has the chance to sign oft-injured Danny Welbeck on a free transfer.

The longtime Arsenal striker, weaned at Manchester United, scored five times in 12 matches last season in a return to injury woes following a 43-match season the prior year.

Newcastle is also being linked with a former defender. James Tavernier has gone on to captain Glasgow Rangers, and the 27-year-old would cost around $10 million.

Surely Steven Gerrard would want more for the defender, but prices haven’t met quality for Scottish Premiership players as we’ve seen with Kieran Tierney at Celtic.