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Trezeguet sends Aston Villa on to Wembley in Carabao Cup

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In a wildly entertaining game, with massive chances for both sides, it’s Aston Villa who goes through to Wembley for the Carabao Cup final, topping Leicester City 2-1 at Villa Park for a 3-2 aggregate victory. The winning moment came as late as it possibly could, with substitute Trezeguet finding the back of the net in the 93rd minute of regulation with penalties looming.

The start of the match was intense. In the opening minutes, Jack Grealish‘s cross was stopped by the right foot of Kasper Schmeichel before down the other end James Maddison nearly put Leicester City in front but for a wonderful fingertip save by Orjan Nyland. Maddison again just missed in the seventh minute, firing just wide right with a left-footed volley.

Leicester City would rue those misses, as Aston Villa would go in front on 13 minutes as Matt Targett found some space on the left side of the six-yard box and fired past Schmeichel for the opener. The finish was emphatic and professional after the Leicester defense opened up by a brilliant run and turn by Grealish.

The Foxes were again thwarted by Nyland who acrobatically tipped a vicious shot from Youri Tielemans off the crossbar, a wonderful, shimmering save.

After halftime, Villa came close to a second through Grealish who just missed with a 54th minute shot as the hosts began to pour it on. Targett also came close but fired a long-range effort wide to the right. Again they almost had the all-important game sealer, but debutant Mbwana Samatta somehow whiffed in front of net as Grealish delivered a spectacular ball to the doorstep.

The Foxes began to push in the final 20 minutes with Jamie Vardy brought onto the pitch. Kelechi Iheanacho proved dangerous, coming close minutes before firing Leicester City level with 19 minutes to go. Harvey Barnes drives past his defender Frédéric Guilbert and fired a sumptuous cross to the far post where Iheanacho was waiting to roof the ball. Oddly enough, Barnes – essential in the creation of the equalizer – was about to be withdrawn by Leicester City manager Brendan Rodgers with Demari Gray ready on the touchline, but after the goal, the substitution was reconsidered.

Leicester nearly won it with 11 minutes to go, but somehow, with Aston Villa completely unable to clear the ball from their own penalty area, the Foxes were unable to find the back of the net. Iheanacho headed the ball across the face of goal where nobody was waiting until it reached Vardy at the far post who sent it back towards the top of the six-yard box. Iheanacho then whiffed at the cutback before Maddison fired over.

The Carabao Cup does not feature extra-time, so with the score level at 1-1 and the aggregate even at 2-2, penalties were on the horizon, but Aston Villa had other ideas. The home side booked its place to Wembley on a relatively simple effort, with the Egyptian connection coming through. Ahmed El Mohamady sent a looping, long-distance cross to the far post where Trezeguet was waiting, with a simple left-footed finish before the ball hit the ground.

Overall, Jack Grealish once again showed his fabulous class, carrying Aston Villa throughout the match, proving dangerous both in transition and in the half court. Leicester City, though, will be overly disappointed having won the shot count 22 to nine and holding two-thirds of the possession. Maddison missed countless good opportunities and Vardy’s inclusion did little to help in front of net.

Villa will play in the Carabao Cup final for the ninth time in the club’s history, going for its sixth League Cup title. They will play either Manchester City or Manchester United, with City holding a 3-1 advantage going into the second leg tomorrow at the Etihad.

Season restart preview: Brighton and Hove Albion

Brighton season restart
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With the 2019-20 Premier League season soon to restart, let’s focus on all 20 clubs and see where they stand ahead of the final nine matches of the season.

Brighton is next.

[ MORE: Remaining PL schedule in full ]

Let’s take a closer look at all things Seagulls when it comes to the season restart.


Outlook: If there’s a team whose results don’t show the way they’ve played, it’s Brighton. Graham Potter’s Seagulls have the sixth-best possession percentage in the league, are a tidy seventh in passing, and are mid-table in tackles per game, interceptions per game, and shots per game.

[ MORE: Ranking every Brighton player in 2019-20 ]

The expected goals stats show even less reward for good work, with Brighton scoring 8.35 goals less than expected in open play and 4.38 less from corner kicks.

Despite all these good things, Brighton is two points clear of the drop zone with nine matches to play and has a terribly challenging schedule especially at the Amex Stadium.


Tactical analysis: Graham Potter has put the Seagulls in myriad formations this season, though he’s been utilizing at least four at the back since the calendar turned to 2020. He’s ready to attack but pragmatic given the club’s hopes of staving off the teams below it in the fight for PL survival.

[ MORE: The 2 Robbies assess Brighton’s chances ]


Possible XI (4-2-3-1) 

—– Ryan —–

— Montoya — Webster — Dunk — Burn —

—– Propper —– Mooy —–

— Trossard — Gross — Alzate —

—– Maupay—–

Glenn Murray and Alireza Jahanbakhsh are excellent weapons to have on the bench, and Brighton’s also got a very good center back in reserve in the form of Shame Duffy and an underrated center mid in Dale Stephens who will see playing time, too. On paper, this team is too good to go down.


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Remaining schedule
Home: Arsenal, Man City, Liverpool, Manchester United, Newcastle
Away: Leicester, Norwich, Southampton, Burnley

Predicted finish: They’ll do enough to get by, though that home fixture list is simply brutal. Safe before the final weekend.

Social media wrap: All 20 Premier League clubs, many players stand against racism

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The protests in the United States have inspired anti-racism statements from around the world, including all gestures from all 20 Premier League clubs and many players and managers.

There have been ongoing protests and horrible violence in the U.S. since the May 25 killing of George Floyd, a handcuffed black man who died after a white police officer pressed his knee into his neck for nearly nine minutes even after he stopped moving and pleaded for air in Minnesota.

Newcastle United’s American defender DeAndre Yedlin issued an emotional thread (below) as one of a great deal of players to express hopes for change and solidarity, while Schalke’s Weston McKennie explained his wearing a black armband reading “Justice For George” in the Bundesliga this weekend.

[ MORE: Remaining PL schedule in full ]

From Ancelotti to Zaha, Antonio to Yedlin, Arsenal to Wolves, we’ve collected many of their sentiments below in what we hope serves as universal disdain for racial prejudice.

Some players like Leicester City’s Wes Morgan and even entire clubs (Arsenal) changed their online identity photos to reflect these troubled times.

All PL clubs issued messages of solidarity, many using the Black Lives Matter hashtag and making no bones about where they stand.

And we’ll start with a longtime PL club currently in the Championship, who blasted a season ticket holder’s rejection of their unifying Tweet.

Here are some other clubs and players worldwide to have noticed what’s happening in the United States.

 

Season restart preview: Bournemouth

Bournemouth season restart
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With the 2019-20 Premier League season soon to restart, let’s focus on all 20 clubs and see where they stand ahead of the final nine matches of the season.

[ MORE: Remaining PL schedule in full ]

Let’s take a closer look at all things Bournemouth when it comes to the season restart.


Outlook: Tough sledding for the Cherries, who face zero of their fellow bottom-six sides (though 13th place Newcastle and 14th place Saints both visit the Vitality Stadium).

There’s been an element of bad luck to Bournemouth’s woes, with its expected goals stats showing Ryan Fraser, Joshua King, and Callum Wilson have deserved better end product and that the Cherries’ 14 goals from open play should be closer to 22. The defense has been bad and xG says it could’ve been worse, too. Injuries had hit Bournemouth’s defense corps in a big way, too. How much better will they be after the break?

[ MORE: Ranking every Cherries player in 2019-20 ]


Tactical analysis: Eddie Howe utilized a 4-4-2 with two defensive midfielders for much of the early season, but has gone between a lone striker with a packed-in midfielder and a 4-3-3 when he thinks an opponent is exploitable.

Howe started a 4-4-2 against almost all of the Cherries’ remaining opponents, choosing a 5-4-1 against Wolves and Man City. There’s no guarantee he’ll continue that, especially when some matches may dictate a draw or limited goal differential damage over wins.


Possible XI (4-3-3) 

—– Ramsdale —–

— Smith — S. Cook — Ake — Rico —

—– Lerma —– Billing — L. Cook —

— Fraser —– C. Wilson —– King —–

Howe prefers to attack when at all possible, but the points will be at a premium against some very challenging opponents. It’s a safe bet that he’ll ask a lot from his forwards while trying to deploy his three relentless midfielders together whenever possible. The question here is whether Aaron Ramsdale returns quickly from his COVID-19 positive test, or if it’ll be Artur Boruc or someone else between the sticks.


[ STREAM: Every PL match live ]

Remaining schedule
Home: Crystal Palace, Newcastle, Spurs, Leicester City, Southampton
Away: Wolves, Manchester United, Man City, Everton

Predicted finish: The Cherries stay up, just, as King and Callum Wilson deliver the goods in front of a determined and improved midfield.

Premier League clubs will reportedly be allowed preseason friendlies

Premier League return
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Premier League clubs will be allowed to play preseason matches ahead of the 2019-20’s restart season later this month.

There will be strict protocols due to the coronavirus pandemic, however, and the matches will likely be officiated by club coaching staffs (We have so many Jose Mourinho as ref quips to make here, but let’s keep going anyway).

[ MORE: Remaining PL schedule in full ]

Sky Sports says clubs will be limited to opponents within 90 minutes of their venue, and that players will have to drive themselves to the stadiums and go directly to the field in uniform.

With the League One and League Two seasons still hanging in the balance, it’s likely PL sides will be limited to each other and Championship sides. Presumably clubs will not want to meet others still on their fixture list.

We assume some players will get dressed in their vehicles outside the ground, but allow yourself some levity in these challenging times and imagine a fully kitted-up Virgil van Dijk driving the roads from Liverpool to Wigan Athletic.