Ben Chilwell

Leicester City and Aston Villa League Cup first leg
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Leicester, Villa draw League Cup semi first leg

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Aston Villa had little of the ball but made one of its lone chances count in a 1-1 League Cup semifinal first leg draw with Leicester City on Wednesday.

Frederic Guilbert scored a 28th-minute goal with Villa’s first shot attempt at King Power Stadium, a lead that lasted on Kelechi Iheanacho‘s 74th-minute equalizer.

The sides meet again on Jan. 28 at Villa Park. Away goals are not weighted over two legs.

Leicester City outshot the visitors 21-3 and held 70 percent of the ball.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ]

Wilfred Ndidi missed the match for Leicester City and will be absent for the next month.

Villa’s teenage American striker Indiana Vassilev came off the bench for the second-straight match after making his first team debut in the FA Cup versus Fulham over the weekend.

Orjan Nyland made a wonderful save on James Maddison moments before Villa went in front.

The 29-year-old Nyland will be called upon plenty this season with Tom Heaton requiring surgery for knee ligament damage.

Anwar El Ghazi set up Guilbert’s clinical finish with a pass that left Ben Chilwell out to lunch. It hasn’t been a great few weeks for the England left back.

Leicester City was all over the Villans, who were buoyed by another standout day from center back Tyrone Mings.

The Villa man lunged to block Iheanacho’s late effort, but couldn’t get a piece of the ball on its way past Nyland.

Alexander-Arnold drives Liverpool thrashing of Leicester City

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Trent Alexander-Arnold had a goal and two assists as Liverpool wore down sloppy Leicester City 4-0 at the King Power Stadium on Thursday.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

Roberto Firmino scored twice to join James Milner on the score sheet as Liverpool moved 13 points clear of the second place Foxes, who’ve played one more match. The Reds are 14 ahead of Man City.


[ MORE: JPW’s Three Things ]


Notes from an onslaught

1. Alexander-Arnold at full bandwidth: Twenty-one years old and oozing with class, Liverpool’s English right back was nearly impeccable on Thursday.

The pinpoint crosses are nothing new, though they seem to grow in audacity, but the young Liverpool right back showed some show-stopping defensive chops in the first half when he raced back to cut out a Leicester City counterattack.

No one will be mistaking him for Philipp Lahm any time soon — he was dribbled by Caglar Soyuncu late, but Thursday’s showing was reason to believe he can become the total package.

2. Liverpool joins Man City in putting Foxes in proper place: Over two matches in four days, Leicester City did almost nothing to inspire belief that they are a legitimate threat to Liverpool or Man City.

There’s no shame in that; The Man City and Liverpool projects are a lot further along than Brendan Rodgers‘ efforts at the King Power Stadium, but the Foxes’ miraculous history had plenty prodding their second place status as the harbinger of something more.

Look at these numbers from Leicester’s three matches versus the Reds and Citizens this season.

City will drop into third place if Man City gets a point or more on Friday at Wolves, and it seems more likely they’ll have to worry about fending off Chelsea, Spurs for a Top Four place than dislodging either of the two teams above them.

3. Qatar awakening spurs Firmino forward: The Brazilian center forward scored in the Club World Cup semifinal and final, and made it four goals in three matches with his brace on Thursday. Firmino has not scored in the Champions League and has just one goal in his last 11 Premier League matches before leaving for Qatar. He’s back.

Man of the Match: Alexander-Arnold.


Liverpool didn’t look jet lagged in the opening minutes, flying out of the gates to trouble Kasper Schmeichel twice in the first 90 seconds.

Leicester had a rare look at a 10th minute counter attack cut out by Trent Alexander-Arnold for a corner.

Naby Keita then used a counterattack to set up Mohamed Salah, who shot clumsily into the outside netting instead of cutting back for Sadio Mane.

[ MORE: Premier League stats ] 

Ben Chilwell was exposed at the back post as Liverpool opened the scoring with a second chance ball off a corner kick. Alexander-Arnold served a ball to the back post and Firmino rose high to nod home.

The second half was essentially an exercise in wondering if Liverpool would find the second goal to erase thoughts of a dramatic equalizer. Firmino just missed turning a cross home in the 56th.

Jamie Vardy won a rare free kick in the 62nd minute, but James Maddison sent a wayward effort high and wide of the goal.

Caglar Soyuncu conceded a penalty in the 70th minute with a handball in the box, and substitute Milner did what he does from the spot.

Classy Man City humbles Leicester City

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Manchester City humbled second place Leicester City with a controlling 3-1 win at the Etihad Stadium on Saturday

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Riyad Mahrez, Ilkay Gundogan, and Gabriel Jesus scored for Man City, who pulls to within a point of the second place Foxes.

Jamie Vardy gave Leicester a surprise lead against the run of play, but the Foxes failed to make up ground on Liverpool.


Three things we learned

1. Lessons for Rodgers, Leicester City: The Foxes have been very good this season, no question about that, but for the second time this season they were shown how much work is left to keep up with the leaders. Liverpool barely beat Leicester in terms of the score line, but controlled the match.

This was worse for Brendan Rodgers‘ boys, who will meet Liverpool on Boxing Day.

Leicester was out shot 18-2 in the aforementioned loss to Liverpool.

This was probably worse. Man City had 63 percent of the ball and a 23-5 edge in shots. *Twelve* of those were on target as Kasper Schmeichel bailed out his men. Seventeen of the 23 attempts came inside the box.

Pep Guardiola surprised Brendan Rodgers by leaving Rodri out of the midfield in a bid to out-sly the Foxes, and Gundogan, De Bruyne, and Bernardo Silva were very, very creative. Wilfred Ndidi did his best to keep the group from being overrun, but the remaining midfielders were absent aside from Barnes’ great assist.

2. No one’s quite like KDB right now: There are better dribblers and players with quicker pace, but there is no Premier League attacker quite as complete as De Bruyne. The Belgian’s work on Man City’s deserved this goal showed just that. It wasn’t his only moment on the day, of course, but his show of power down the right side was unstoppable in setting up Jesus’ sliding goal. And the PL’s top assist man also strikes the ball about as pure as anyone.

3. Sensational Schmeichel saves Foxes from uglier outcome: Leicester City’s goalkeeper is the reason this one wasn’t a massive and deflating blowout for Brendan Rodgers’ Foxes. He stopped some pummeled shots from the champs, and kept Leicester alive for a point.

Man of the Match: Mahrez over De Bruyne and Schmeichel, but just.


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Man City came out of the gates with vigor, and was nearly rewarded with a goal when Kevin De Bruyne blasted the far post in the 13th minute.

Riyad Mahrez stung a deflected shot to Kasper Schmeichel soon after, the hosts all over the Foxes. The Algerian then set up Gabriel Jesus for a half-chance that Schmeichel did very well to slap away from the line.

Vardy scored out of nothing when Harvey Barnes, fresh off a miscue, hit a sensational outside of the boot pass to find the industrious English striker on the break.

Vardy had blazed past Fernandinho, and the Man City defender hoped his goalkeeper would save him blushes. Ederson charged out hard, but Vardy’s little chip was perfect and found its way into the goal.

Mahrez continued to have his way with Ben Chilwell to set up the equalizer, his drive taking a wicked turn to beat Schmeichel. The Leicester keeper then did very well to stop a De Bruyne rocket in the 41st.

Sterling chased after a loose ball when Mike Dean played advantage moments later, and the Englishman sidestepped Ricardo Pereira to win a penalty.

James Maddison swung a hopeful shot through traffic and Ederson did well to palm it wide of the goal.

WATCH: Barnes, Vardy team up for sensational goal (video)

Photo by Martin Rickett/PA Images via Getty Images
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Saturday’s Premier League match between Manchester City and Leicester City featured a straight-up soccer sucker punch in the form of a Jamie Vardy goal.

The Foxes were second best in every way when the league’s leading scorer put the visitors ahead at the Etihad Stadium.

[ STREAM: Man City v. Leicester City ]

Harvey Barnes, fresh off a miscue, hit a sensational outside of the boot pass to find the industrious Vardy on the break.

Vardy had blazed past Fernandinho, and the Man City defender hoped his goalkeeper would save him blushes.

Ederson charged out hard, but Vardy’s little chip was perfect and found its way into the goal.

Man City has since leveled the score line, as Mahrez had his way with Ben Chilwell and drove a deflected shot home at the half-hour mark.

The end line camera shows the brilliance of Barnes pass, as Vardy nabs his 17th goal of the season.

Chelsea transfer ban reduced after appeal

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Chelsea will be able to sign new players in January after their transfer ban from FIFA was reduced to one transfer window after their appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) was successful.

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The Blues had previously been banned for two transfer windows, summer 2019 and winter 2020, for 150 rule breaches involving 69 academy players over a period of several years, but they will now be able to sign new players from Jan. 1 when the next transfer window opens.

Despite having the ban reduced, Chelsea are far from happy with world soccer’s governing body as they released a scathing statement slamming FIFA’s handling of the situation.

“The approach taken by FIFA to this case has been deeply unsatisfactory, not least as FIFA chose to treat Chelsea entirely differently to Manchester City for reasons that make absolutely no sense to Chelsea. We respect the importance of the work undertaken by FIFA in relation to the protection of minors and has fully cooperated with FIFA throughout its investigation. However, if FIFA continues to impose inconsistent and unequal sanctions on clubs then it will not only undermine the very purpose of the regulations, but it will also bring into doubt the game’s confidence in FIFA being able to appropriately regulate this important area.”

They went on to add a bit more detail about why they were so angry at being banned from signing new players for one window.

“FIFA accused Chelsea of having breached Article 19 of the FIFA regulations in relation to 27 players, covering the period from 2009 onwards. Of those, 16 players were registered by Chelsea in exactly the same way as other Premier League clubs registered players at the time. Furthermore, Chelsea sought clarification from the Premier League in 2009 about whether it needed to apply for permission to register players in this category. The FA subsequently liaised with FIFA and it was confirmed to Chelsea that players in this category were entitled to register and that no special application was required (and in fact no special application process existed). Accordingly, the fact that FIFA brought charges against Chelsea for this category of player was perverse. We are grateful that this appears to have been corrected by the CAS.”

Chelsea manager Frank Lampard was obviously delighted with the outcome, as he can now reinforce his young squad and has plenty of cash in the bank after a no-spend summer (the deal for Christian Pulisic was sealed last January and Mateo Kovacic arrived permanently after his loan move saw a clause triggered which made it a permanent move).

“It’s a positive outcome for us,” Lampard said. “It allows us the potential to look at the market going forward. So I’m pleased from a footballing level. It was never my business to get involved in the reasons why or the legal side of it.”

Which areas should Chelsea strengthen in now they can buy again? And which players will be their top targets?

It is clear that left back is an area where Lampard will want to add a new starter as both Marcos Alonso and Emerson Palmeri are fine as back ups neither have made the position their own this season. Up top is another key location where Lampard will look to strengthen as Olivier Giroud seems to be on his way out of Stamford Bridge and that would leave just Tammy Abraham and Michy Batshuayi as the options at center forward.

Elsewhere, Chelsea look pretty set, although a new center back could be handy but isn’t necessary given the fact that Kurt Zouma and Fikayo Tomori have both been superb for most of this season and Andreas Christensen is also around with Cesar Azpilicueta also able to slot in at center back with Reece James developing well at right back.

After 12 months without spending and having transfer fees from the sale of Eden Hazard, David Luiz and Tomas Kalas and many other fringe players which brought in an incredible $180 million, Lampard will have money to spend.

Chelsea have been linked with moves for Jadon Sancho, Wilfried Zaha, Nathan Ake and Ben Chilwell, among many others, as plenty of star players will fancy a move to Stamford Bridge given Lampard’s promising start to life as their manager.

The big question now is: Given Chelsea’s great start to the season as they sit in the top four with their young team progressing together as a group, do they risk bringing in new additions to potential upset the team spirit? Is it better to wait until the summer when the likes of Pedro and Giroud, and maybe Willian, could all leave Stamford Bridge?