Kelechi Iheanacho

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Africa Cup of Nations moved, Premier League clubs impacted

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The 2021 Africa Cup of Nations in Cameroon has been moved and it is likely to impact several Premier League clubs.

In a statement the African Football Confederation (CAF) confirmed the switch, as they had previously agreed to hold the tournament in the summer (just like in 2019) but due to the hot weather conditions in host nation Cameroon in the summer time, the Cameroon Football Federation has switched the dates to Jan. 6 to Feb. 6, 2021.

The deputy general secretary of CAF, Tony Baffoe, revealed more details about why the dates have been switched.

“We have reviewed the period of the competition as requested by the Cameroonian party due to unfavourable climatic conditions during the period initially slated. After listening to the various arguments and viewpoints – and in particular from the Cameroonian meteorological authorities, the coaches and players – the representatives of the AFCON organising committee, which received the mandate from CAF Executive Committee to take the decision, has granted this request. A detailed reported shall be presented to the members of the Executive Committee during its next session on 6 February.”

That means the likes of Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane, Riyad Mahrez and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, to name a few, would be missing for over a month of the 2020-21 Premier League season.

Liverpool would be the Premier League most impacted with Salah and Mane potentially joined by Naby Keita, while Leicester City would potentially lose Nigerian duo Wilfred Ndidi and Kelechi Iheanacho, plus Southampton’s Moussa Djenepo and Sofiane Boufal would be unavailable.

Of course, this over a year out and teams haven’t even qualified for the tournament yet, but this will seriously impact the plans of Premier League clubs.

AFCON tournaments have previously been held in January to February but switched to a summer model for the 2019 edition in Egypt, with clubs across Europe delighted by that decision as they were losing star players at a key part of the season.

Redemption: Saints stun Leicester

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Southampton beat Leicester City 2-1 in a wild clash at the King Power Stadium on Saturday.

The victory tasted even sweeter for Saints after their 9-0 humiliation at home against Leicester earlier this season.

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Dennis Praet gave Leicester the lead but Stuart Armstrong made it 1-1 and Danny Ings went close on several occasions before he sealed the win late on.

Saints had a penalty kick chalked off by VAR and Kelechi Iheanacho and Johnny Evans were both denied goals by the technology as Ralph Hasenhuttl‘s warm embrace with Brendan Rodgers at the final whistle showed a man who has come back from the brink.

With the win, their sixth in their last nine games, Saints remain in 12th but are on 28 points and just three points off seventh. Leicester sit in second but could slip down to third by the end of the weekend.


3 things we learned

1. Redemption for Southampton: This victory will be sweet for every single person connected with Saints. They were humiliated 9-0 by Leicester earlier this season and Hasenhuttl’s side dominated this game throughout. They should have won easily but dug in and showed amazing character, just like they have done since that mauling, to keep their amazing recent run going.

2. Leicester running out of steam: The Foxes have now lost three of their last five games and the wheels are starting to come off a little. They missed the injured Wilfried Ndidi badly and Vardy and Maddison only showed flashes of their quality. The Foxes would have to have a dramatic collapse to finish outside the top four, but it looks like a top two finish could be out of the question.

3 Unlucky Ings strikes again: He hit the bar twice in the first half within 30 seconds and was denied brilliantly twice by Kasper Schmeichel and it looked like it wouldn’t be his day. But he delivered late on to take his amazing run to 10 goals in his last 11 games. Ings is on fire and so are Southampton and he will be called up by England in March. A gutsy display by Ings who could barely run in the final moments.

Man of the Match: Danny Ings – Scotsman Stuart Armstrong put in an amazing shift in midfield and probably deserved this award, but the work Ings put in and the way he kept going summed up his, and Southampton’s, superb return to form in recent months. What a story.


Saints should have taken the lead early on as Harvey Barnes gave the ball away and Ings was clean through on goal but Kasper Schmeichel denied him twice.

Leicester made the most of that reprieve as Ayoze Perez’s quick free kick found Jamie Vardy who crossed for Praet to finish at the back post.

But Southampton, much to their credit, kept plugging away and hit back in the first half as Armstrong’s shot took a big deflection off James Maddison and snuck in to make it 1-1.

Ings then came so close to scoring twice for Saints as he first hit the crossbar with a flicked effort at the near post, then moments later smashed the bar from distance as Leicester were pinned back.

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Caglar Soyuncu then cleared off the line from Jack Stephens as Saints continued to look the more dangerous side.

Armstrong smashed over the bar and then a big movement of controversy arrived. Long was played in and was clean through but Caglar Soyuncu brought him down.

However, VAR intervened as Long was slightly offside when he was played in so the penalty was not given.

Che Adams came on and set up Ings to make it 2-1 as he nutmegged Kasper Schmeichel amid wild celebrations from the away fans.

The in-form striker should have wrapped it up again as Nathan Redmond played him in but Ings had a good effort which was brilliantly tipped wide by Schmeichel.

Demarai Gray was then denied by Alex McCarthy and Leicester thought they had grabbed a point when Johnny Evans nodded home in the 90th minute but VAR was used, again, and the goal was chalked not given as he was offside.

Leicester, Villa draw League Cup semi first leg

Leicester City and Aston Villa League Cup 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.

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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.

Gorgeous goals lead Leicester City at Newcastle

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James Maddison and Hamza Choudhury scored audacious goals as Leicester City smashed injury-ravaged 10-man Newcastle 3-0 on Wednesday at St. James’ Park.

The Magpies were down to 10 men shortly after halftime due to three injury-forced substitutions by half and a Fabian Schar 46th minute leg ailment.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

Ayoze Perez also scored for Leicester City, who move onto 45 points. That total is 20 better than the 12th place Magpies.


Three things we learned

1. Magpies mistakes again put them under fire: Former Newcastle striker Perez scored 42 Premier League goals for Newcastle, and the Florian Lejeune made sure the Spaniard felt right at home. The Frenchman made a horrible mistake to gift Perez his opener, then another bad pass that set up Maddison for his remarkable goal. Speaking of which…

2. Talisman Maddison delivers: Maddison’s sixth goal of the season and first six matches was sensational. The Foxes are now 7-1-1 in league play when the 23-year-old ex-Norwich City man scores or assists.

3. Injuries hamper any comeback bid: It’s unlikely that Steve Bruce‘s preferred three subs to chase a result were two fullbacks and a tempo-keeping midfielder. Injuries to Jonjo Shelvey, Javi Manquillo, and Jetro Willems meant that the Magpies used all of their subs by the start of the second half. That’s when Fabian Schar pulled his hamstring. Scathing fixture list comments forthcoming, we’re sure.

Man of the Match: Maddison, with a nod to Wilfred Ndidi.


Leicester sounded the first alarm of the match, forcing Newcastle’s Martin Dubravka to make an in-tight save.

Dubravka made another save in the 15th on Youri Tielemans, and Federico Fernandez cleared the danger.

Joelinton ran onto a long ball and poked over Kasper Schmeichel, but the ball bounded off frame to add to the Brazilian’s near season-long frustrations.

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The Foxes made another horrible defensive error to let Leicester in front. Florian Lejeune played a silly cross 18 pass that Perez picked off and put behind his former goalkeeper.

Lejeune made another huge mistake to set up Maddison with moments, though the English attacker had plenty to do in hammering the second goal past Dubravka.

Shelvey tried to help Newcastle answer with a terrific cross moments later, but Miguel Almiron’s header attempt was poor.

Kelechi Iheanacho should’ve had it 3-0, but Fabian Schar and Dubravka conspired to keep the ball out of the goal.

Youri Tielemans set up Ayoze Perez for a long break with Iheanacho, and Dubravka made superb saves on both players in succession to keep the Newcastle’s deficit at two.

Then, this. Please Hamza, don’t hurt ’em (Layers of meaning there, yeah?).

Much-changed Leicester City wins at West Ham

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Ayoze Perez set up a pair of goals as Leicester City rebounded for a 2-1 defeat of West Ham United at the London Stadium on Saturday.

Kelechi Iheanacho and Demarai Gray supplied the goals for the Foxes, who move four points clear of third place Man City.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

Pablo Fornals scored for West Ham and under fire manager Manuel Pellegrini, whose side sits just one point ahead of 18th place Aston Villa.


Three things we learned

1. Rodgers rewarded for risky rotation: Brendan Rodgers changed nine men from the group embarrassed by Liverpool on Boxing Day, and the makeshift XI very much deserved the three points. Demarai Gray missed a penalty kick and a few other chances were left for dead, but overall the Foxes had every claim to the win.

2. Hammers a real relegation threat: Manuel Pellegrini’s defense has been woeful, and his star attackers couldn’t bail them out Felipe Anderson did assist on Fornals’ goal, and was lively on the left wing, but Sebastien Haller has not been able to sharpen his attacking acumen since an early season hot streak and neither Manuel Lanzini nor a trio of substitutes combined to deliver much threat.

3. Ayoze the assister takes the reins: Longtime Newcastle star Ayoze Perez is a mere component of the King Power Stadium attack. He drove the attacking bus on Saturday in the absence of Jamie Vardy and James Maddison, the latter replacing him in the 64th minute after assists on both goals. He was two for two on dribbles and drew three fouls in a very strong performance.

Man of the Match: Perez.


Lukasz Fabianski gave away a terrible penalty to Kelechi Iheanacho, but then made a save on Demarai Gray’s poor penalty to keep it 0-0.

Iheanacho put Leicester in front when Ayoze Perez made an athletic play to keep a ball in bounds for a near-post headed goal.

Gray then tore into a shot from 12 yards that was nowhere near the mark.

West Ham had a nice chance bound wide when Sebastien Haller’s header was off frame, and the equalizer came moments later through Fornals.

The Spaniard arrived on the scene for a Felipe Anderson cutback to cue the bubbles.

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Gray made it 2-1 in the 56th minute, running onto a Perez through ball and curling around Fabianski.

Wes Morgan came close to making it 3-1 with a quick turn off a post-corner kick scrum, and Hamza Choudhury missed an 86th minute bid.