Jonny Evans

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Chelsea, Leicester: ‘Happy to have a break’

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LEICESTER — To make sure you have every angle covered for the marquee Premier League games, our new feature “In the Mixed Zone” will take you behind-the-scenes and into the tunnel areas to hear from the star players moments after their magic has decided games or drama has ensued.

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The idea is to set the scene of being inside the tunnel area in Old Trafford, by the dugouts at Stamford Bridge and in the swanky new players area in Tottenham Hotspur’s stadium as Premier League stars walk out of the dressing room and break down the game with media members around the world.

We will tell you what they are saying and the kind of antics going on amid the hubbub of the mixed zone as players from both teams have their say on the 90-plus minutes of action we’ve just witnessed.

[ MORE: 3 things we learned

Here was the scene from in the tunnel area of the King Power Stadium after Leicester and Chelsea drew in an entertaining game in a big top four battle. The main theme from both players: “We cannot wait for the international break!” as they need a break after struggling in recent weeks.


WHAT THEY’RE SAYING

Mason Mount and Tammy Abraham stopped with the media for a chat and they were fairly happy with how Chelsea played but Abraham admitted they needed a break as he’s off to Dubai on holiday for a few days to recover. Pedro, Marcos Alonso and Kepa were the first three players out and many of the Chelsea players were wearing casual clothes as they were set to jet off on holiday or to see their families. Cesar Azpilicueta (probably the nicest bloke in football) wishes everyone a good winter break as he skips away in his jeans and sneakers. “Enjoy your holiday!”

Mount adds that “a point each was deserved” and that Chelsea’s confidence is “high” and Abraham says he “can’t wait” for the winter break: “We are all buzzing.”

Harvey Barnes and Ricardo Perreira also stopped for a chat, with Youri Tielemans stopping for Belgian TV. Barnes was sporting a cut lip and he handed his pizza to a security guard as he discusses his goal, a potential England call-up and his recent good form. He revealed he has been working hard on finishing and he has been paying close attention to Jamie Vardy in training. Barnes has scored four in his last six games.

 


ALL ABOARD THE BANTER BUS

Hamza Choudhury walked past Mason Mount while he spoke to us and made the England midfielder laugh with a little whisper in his ear. Lot of young English players on both of these teams and clearly a lot of respect, too.


INJURY NEWS

Abraham is off to rest and recover in Dubai but said he isn’t planning to take a physio with him, while Leicester’s Jonny Evans limped through the mixed zone saying he had sore shins and James Maddison was hobbling in and out sporting a bright silver backpack and a rascal jean jacket.


MIXEDZONEOLOGY

Michy Batshuayi was on FaceTime as he walked through, which is a good way to get through without being stopped. Premier League players take note if you don’t want to speak to the media. Michy is an innovator.

Callum Hudson-Odoi was trying to find his parents, and was very concerned to find them, as he was showed into the Leicester family room by accident. The English winger eventually found them outside.

There was a nice moment as Frank Lampard went back into the stadium and gatecrashed Brendan Rodgers‘ press conference to say goodbye as the Chelsea bus was leaving for London. Rodgers was a coach of Chelsea’s academy during Lampard’s playing days with the Blues, so they go way back.

Rodgers was then wandering around the tunnel area saying hello to old friends and staff at Leicester, as the mixed zone closed.

Leicester, Chelsea draw in thriller

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LEICESTER — What a game. Leicester and Chelsea played out an entertaining 2-2 draw at the King Power Stadium on Saturday as the two top four teams when toe-to-toe in the Premier League.

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After Chelsea had the better of the first half, all four goals came in the second half as Frank Lampard‘s side took the lead through Antonio Rudiger but then Brendan Rodgers saw his side come roaring back as Harvey Barnes and Ben Chilwell scored in quick succession to make it 2-1. Rudiger scored his second header of the game to level it up again and Leicester missed plenty of chances to win it late on.

With the draw Leicester stay in third on 49 points, while Chelsea are in fourth on 41 points and the teams below them could close the gap to just four points.


3 things we learned

1. Both teams low on confidence: Heading into this clash both teams were lacking in confidence and it showed. The amount of missed chances, giveaways at key times and lack of quality on the ball was almost identical from Leicester and Chelsea. After great starts to the season they have hit slumped and both are limping towards the finish line. Momentum is a hard thing to regain and it seems that both of these young squads have run out of steam.

2. Chelsea’s striker shortage a concern: Was Lampard making a point when he subbed out Tammy Abraham late on and brought on a midfielder for him? Batshuayi was on the bench but after not bringing in a new striker, or anyone, in the January transfer window, perhaps Chelsea’s manager was sending a message to those above him. ‘You need to spend money on this squad if we are going to be a top four team’ is what Lampard is saying. Abraham missed a few chances and looked leggy after his recent spell out with injuries.

3. Top four battle set to get tighter: This draw is better for Leicester than it is Chelsea and it tightens up the top four battle. Tottenham and Man United or Wolves could close the gap to four points with wins this weekend and with the title all but wrapped up, all eyes will be on the race to finish third and fourth. Leicester and Chelsea aren’t in their best form and both know there is a chasing pack getting closer as Wolves, United and Spurs all improved their squads in the transfer window.

Man of the Match: Harvey Barnes – He just gets the edge over Rudiger because he was a constant menace. He deserved his goal and should have won it late on. Barnes is a proper old school winger and kept getting behind Chelsea’s defense.


Chelsea started well as Jonny Evans headed clear and the Blues launched several counters from out wide.

Cesar Azpilicueta pulled the ball back but Abraham slipped at the vital moment as a big chance came and went. Moments later Reece James whipped in a superb ball but Abraham couldn’t quite get on the end of it, then Abraham went down in the box under a challenge from Soyuncu but no penalty kick was given after a VAR check.

Leicester then woke up as Willy Caballero brilliantly denied Vardy and then Youri Tielemans just failed to find Vardy on another counter as both teams gave the ball away cheaply.

Kasper Schmeichel then tipped a lofted effort from Pedro over the bar as Chelsea pushed hard for the opener but Leicester had their chances as Ben Chilwell fired just over from a tight angle. Mason Mount had a shot blocked just before half time as Chelsea again failed to make the most of key chances, while Ayoze Perez clipped a ball to the back post but it was cleared from a corner and Hamza Choudhury headed inches wide from that set piece.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]

Less than a minute into the second half Chelsea took the lead as Mount’s corner was headed home at the back post by Rudiger who wheeled away in delight.

Moments later Caballero scrambled to save down low as Leicester got behind the Chelsea defense. The Foxes did equalize moments later as Barnes got in again down the left and his deflected shot looped into the far corner.

Then Leicester went ahead as Caballero was caught out of position, scrambled back towards his goal but a cross to the back post found Chilwell who swiped home with this right foot to send the home fans wild.

Chelsea hit back almost immediately from another set piece situation as Rudiger sent a beautiful header from deep into the top corner but it was then Leicester who looked the more likely to win it.

First Jonny Evans headed wide when unmarked six yards out, then Vardy found Barnes but he scuffed his shot inches wide. Late on Rudiger looked to have handled after Barnes crossed into the box but no penalty was given as a wild second half ended level.

Burnley snaps losing skid with scrappy win over Leicester

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Burnley snapped a four-match Premier League losing streak with a 2-1 win over Leicester City at Turf Moor on Sunday.

Jamie Vardy missed a penalty for the Foxes, who are 2-2-2 in their last six matches. Leicester’s 45 points are three back of second place Man City.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

Burnley climbs to 27 points on goals from Ashley Westwood and Chris Wood, with Pope’s save of Vardy the moment of the match. The point total is good enough for 14th on the table, five points ahead of the drop zone.


Three things we learned

1. Barnes roasts Mee twice, but Pope offers clemency: Burnley goalkeeper Nick Pope had a strong day between the sticks, and the performance was required stuff as center back Ben Mee opened the door twice. Pope could do nothing about Barnes’ first goal, which came with Mee far too slow to react to a dribble. The second came when Mee hauled down Barnes, and Jamie Vardy came to the spot for what looked to be a surefire penalty winner. No, sir, as Pope guessed correctly to stop one of the better penalty takers in the leader.

Mee also could’ve conceded a penalty (see our third thing) on an uncharacteristically poor day.

2. Burnley as pesky as ever: The Clarets play scrappy football. They don’t care much for the ball and manager Sean Dyche demands fight in the air and on the ground. Burnley has let him down with poor defending this season, but the players remain feisty when following his plan of finding his forwards on the counter and through set pieces. The problem? Those opportunities are conditional, and the Clarets have not been finding them enough.

Of course, they did that twice on Sunday. Ashley Westwood’s long corner did not find Kasper Schmeichel at his best, and Westwood then scored when Jonny Evans also made an uncharacteristic error.

3. Leicester’s luck leaves them: The Foxes probably should’ve had a penalty. As far as we know, VAR did not have a closer look at Mee jutting his elbow out to block a shot late in the second half. Replays begged a penalty, but no review was signalled via television or referee.

Moments later the Foxes cringed as Evans, a decent enough defender, made a careless error to allow Westwood to thump home from close range.

Not only that, but Praet appeared to be fouled in the build-up to the opening goal. VAR didn’t find anything.

Man of the Match: Pope. He was fantastic, left for dead on Barnes’ opener but able to stop Vardy from the spot and then again point blank in the 78th minute.


Harvey Barnes fired a shot to Nick Pope from 10 yards within 35 seconds of the opening kickoff.

It was predictably all Leicester early, the Clarets again content to hemorrhage possesion in favor of counter attacking danger.

Barnes put the Foxes in front with a run down the gut of the Burnley back line, Ben Mee barely presenting an obstacle on the route to Pope’s doorstep.

It remained 1-0 into the break.

[ MORE: Premier League stats ] 

Pope made a great save on Dennis Praet within two minutes of restart, then collecting a stray through ball before Jamie Vardy could reach it.

Wood leveled it with a typical Burnley goal, Mee nodding down a corner into the six for the Kiwi to prod over the line.

Mee was in the mix again as Leicester City took control back. Barnes roasted the center back to draw a penalty. Vardy doesn’t miss many of those, but Pope was there to stop the Premier League’s leading goal scorer from the spot.

Mee’s awful day should’ve gotten worse when he leaned to block a shot with his arm, but VAR didn’t see an error and the Clarets raced down the pitch to score soon after.r

It was Westwood, one of the league’s unsung contributors, who pounced on a Jonny Evans error in the 79th minute.

Transfer Rumor Roundup: Leicester chasing Demiral, Chelsea favorites for Zaha

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With the 2020 January transfer window still just a few days young, there is still much to do as teams identify needs and look for targets that may be available. The winter transfer window often proves difficult with available players few and far between. Still, there are options and some teams are hoping to pry players from their current homes while others hope to cling to important members of the squad.

According to Sky Sports, Leicester City has seen an initial bid of $33.4 million rejected by Juventus for defender Merih Demiral. The 21-year-old Turkish international is a wanted man this winter having appeared just three times this season in Italian league play. The Foxes are in the market for a center-back with 32-year-old Jonny Evans having already racked up 2,159 minutes this season and partner Caglar Soyuncu at just under 1,900.

The Foxes will be facing heavy competition for Demiral’s signature, with Borussia Dortmund reportedly seeing a larger bid rejected as well. The Sky Sports report states that Leicester City actually prefers to bring Demiral in on loan before committing a heavy investment of funds, and they have looked to fellow Turkish international Soyuncu to convince Demiral of life at Leicester City.

A report by The Daily Mail claims that Crystal Palace whiz Wilfried Zaha has made a change in representation that could boost Chelsea’s chances of securing a deal. The report states that Zaha has fired his current agent and hired Israeli agent Pini Zahavi who has a close relationship with Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich. Zahavi was instrumental in Abramovich’s successful acquisition of Chelsea back in 2003 and also was a major player in Chelsea transfer dealings that summer.

Zaha has been an ever-present figure in transfer rumors over the past few seasons, and is reportedly frustrated at his inability to secure a move away from Selhurst Park. The Mail report states Crystal Palace wants a bid of over $100 million for the 26-year-old, but it has seemed their high valuation of Zaha has warded teams off over the last few years. Zaha’s contract runs through the summer of 2023, so the club still has plenty of control over his future.

Sheffield United has impressed this season, proving a difficult opponent for top sides as they sit eighth in the table despite just being promoted this summer. They have one of the best defenses in the league, and while they have scored timely goals to earn results, the offense has lacked at times. That has seen them look for attacking reinforcements, and according to Algerian outlet DZFoot, they have interest in former Marseille frontman Billel Omrani who currently plays in the Romanian top flight for CFR Cluj.

The 26-year-old Omrani has six goals in 16 Romanian top flight games this season, and scored another six in eight Champions League qualifying games as the club was eventually downed by Slavia Prague before the group stages. They now remain in play in the Europa League round of 32, and he recently impressed against Celtic.

Aston Villa is playing hardball with creative star Jack Grealish, and manager Dean Smith went on record to say the club is pushing hard to keep him at Villa Park. Smith admitted there has been heavy interest in the 24-year-old who has eight goals and six assists this Premier League season, but said emphatically, “People can keep looking but they can’t touch. We want to keep our best players and he’s showing he’s one of the best in the Premier League.”

Premier League January transfer needs

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The January transfer window is now open in the Premier League and there are already plenty of managers talking about doing business this month.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule

Who needs what?

We break that down below and assess the top transfer needs for each PL club between now and when the window shuts on Jan. 31 at 6 p.m. ET.


Arsenal
Center back, central midfielder: Linked to Jerome Boateng already, the Gunners are on the hunt for a new central defender after Calum Chambers ruptured his ACL. Any international caliber defenders Mikel Arteta can get his hands on will surely be snapped up. If Granit Xhaka leaves they could also add another central midfielders.
Possibility they will add players: 90 percent


Aston Villa
Goalkeeper, striker, center back: They may well be the busiest team in January, just like in the summer, as two huge injuries to Tom Heaton and Wesley have hit Villa hard. Dean Smith would have been looking to add defensive reinforcements anyway and Villa will need to do well, probably in the loan market, to cope with their lengthy injury list and stay up. They’ve added Danny Drinkwater on loan and that is a good start with John McGinn also out injured.
Possibility they will add players: 100 percent


Bournemouth
Central defender, striker: With so many injuries, Eddie Howe‘s hand may be forced into buying new defenders. It will also be a necessity as Bournemouth are in the bottom three and struggling to score goals. Nathan Ake could depart which would be another massive blow. All in all, Bournemouth probably need a few new faces to give them a little more squad depth as they battle against the drop. Ryan Fraser‘s contract runs out in the summer, so maybe Bournemouth will cash in?
Possibility they will add players
: 70 percent


Brighton and Hove Albion
Striker: The Seagulls probably don’t need to buy in January. They’ve been really good so far this season, with Trossard and Maupay making a big difference since their summer arrival. Aaron Connolly has been like a new signing after his emergence from the academy, but maybe they will try to bring in an experienced forward as they don’t score enough goals given the chances they create.
Possibility they will add players
: 20 percent


Burnley
Central midfielder: Having let Danny Drinkwater go back to Chelsea after his loan spell ended, you have to think Sean Dyche has something else lined up for Burnley’s midfield. Defensively they’ve been fine and going forward Wood, Barnes and Rodriguez have enough goals in them, but in midfield they’ve struggled to control games this season. 
Possibility they will add players
: 30 percent


Chelsea
Center back, striker, winger: It is safe to say Chelsea will be busy as they aim to keep their top four hopes going and recover from a summer transfer ban as all of that money is burning a hole in Frank Lampard‘s pocket. They’ve been linked with so many players but their biggest need is in defense as Ake could return. Timo Werner, Jadon Sancho and Wilfried Zaha all seem more likely to arrive in the summer, but with Pedro on his way out and Willian not signing a new deal, maybe now is the right time for Zaha to arrive?
Possibility they will add players: 90 percent


Crystal Palace
Striker, winger, defenders: Basically, Palace need to add an extra player in each area of the pitch. Roy Hodgson has already said that and he hopes the owners back him. It all depends on whether Zaha is allowed to leave in January as to how busy the Eagles are. Adding one more striker to help Ayew manage the load seems the biggest need, as some of their defensive injuries will start to clear up. Could Batshuayi head back to Palace on loan? The Eagles always seem keen to add players later in the month and hang on for a good deal. They can afford to do that again as they are well clear of the drop zone, for now.
Possibility they will add players
: 60 percent


Everton
Central midfield, full back: A bit of extra cover in midfield and wide area will be key for Carlo Ancelotti and previously getting a central striker in would have been their biggest need. But with Dominic Calvert-Lewin doing the business, there’s no need for that right now. Adding Rabiot in midfield would be great business. 
Possibility they will add players
: 50 percent


Leicester City
None: Another forward option in case Vardy is fatigued would be smart but Perez and Iheanacho have stepped up superbly recently. No need for the Foxes to buy.
Possibility they will add players
: 5 percent


Liverpool
Winger: And they’ve already done their business. Takumi Minamino has arrived from RB Salzburg in a bargain deal and that should be Liverpool wrapped up for the window. If they suffer any more defensive injuries then Jurgen Klopp could jump into the market but they seem all set.
Possibility they will add (more) players: 5 percent


Manchester City
Center back: Their biggest need for about 12 months and City haven’t done anything about it. Seems crazy given their status as one of the richest teams on the planet. Nathan Ake would be a good buy, so too would Caglar Soyuncu or Jonny Evans but all three would be tough deals to do in January. Pep is unlikely to do business in the January window unless a wonderful deal presents itself.
Possibility they will add players: 25 percent


Manchester United
Central midfield: As injuries pile up in central midfield Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has admitted that is where he is looking. Gedson Fernandes has been linked and United need an attacking playmaker who can control the tempo of the game better. That has been their biggest need all season, especially with Pogba’s injury problems. With Harry Maguire now out injured too, maybe some extra cover in defense is needed.
Possibility they will add players: 50 percent


Newcastle United
Defenders, striker: Joelinton has scored once and Newcastle have a lot of defensive injuries to deal with. Steve Bruce‘s side are running out of steam after a fine start and the Magpies will try to kick things on by bringing in some new faces in January. Expect Bruce to convince a few of his ex players to join his project at St James’ but don’t expect anything too flashy from Newcastle.
Possibility they will add players: 60 percent.


Norwich City
Defenders, striker: Someone to help out Pukki would be great and so too would some upgrades at center back but Norwich are already in that situation where they may save their money instead of spending big, as they know relegation is likely. Sad but true as they could make a lot of money on Pukki, Buendia, Aarons and Cantwell in the summer. Norwich have been linked with a loan move for Hertha Berlin’s attacker Duda. 
Possibility they will add players
: 20 percent


Sheffield United
None: They added Jack Rodwell as a free agent to provide some depth but apart from that they look set. They have options in every position and Chris Wilder has rotated the squad well this season. 
Possibility they will add (more) players
: 5 percent


Southampton
Full backs: Ralph Hasenhuttl has already said he wants to sign some new full backs. Cedric is out of contract this summer and Ryan Bertrand has been linked with a move away. Expect some young full backs to arrive who will ease themselves in and be starters next season. Kyle Walker-Peters and Joakim Maehle have been mentioned as potential new right backs, the former on loan.
Possibility they will add players: 60 percent.


Tottenham Hotspur
Defenders, striker: Harry Kane’s injury may force them into buying a new striker. Vertonghen may leave, while Aurier continues to be a problem at right back. Jose Mourinho is not happy with their defensive displays and Spurs need to add quality rather than quality in defense. Daniel Levy must loosen the purse strings if Spurs are to keep their top four hopes alive. Christian Eriksen could leave before his contract runs out, so maybe Spurs will look to sell him and bring in a new playmaker. Plenty of work to be done. Piatek could arrive to help with Kane’s absence.
Possibility they will add players: 70 percent.


Watford
Striker: Honestly, they are pretty set. Another striker to push Deeney and Gray hard would be nice but Nigel Pearson has inherited a decent squad and now has them well organized and hungry. The Hornets don’t need to spend despite being in a relegation scrap. They always seem to buy a young players from somewhere, or at least loan someone from the Pozzo owned clubs.  
Possibility they will add players
: 20 percent


West Ham United
Midfield, defenders: David Moyes has been linked with Gedson Fernandes and West Ham need a little something extra in midfield with Rice and Noble keeping things tight. That said, defensive improvements would be nice but Moyes has a lot of expensive new-ish signings to work with. West Ham will not want to spend much.
Possibility they will add players: 50 percent


Wolverhampton Wanderers
Defenders, striker: Raul Jimenez needs some help and Patrick Cutrone has done okay but hasn’t set the world alight. Getting in some decent young players should be the aim as Wolves’ relatively small squad has to cope with Europa League, FA Cup and the Premier League. If they get this right in January they could finish in the top four.
Possibility they will add players: 60 percent