Raheem Sterling

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Henderson, Bronze recognized as England Players of the Year

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Jordan Henderson and Lucy Bronze were named men’s and women’s England Players of the Year for 2019 on Tuesday.

Liverpool midfielder Henderson surpassed the 50-cap mark during the year, playing a critical role in England’s qualification for Euro 2020. He assisted a goal in the 5-1 victory over Montenegro in March, the same game in which he earned his 50th cap. Henderson also came off the bench for the Nations League semifinals loss to the Netherlands, arriving in the 77th minute and playing all of extra time.

It likely didn’t hurt Henderson’s case that he has captained Liverpool during the club’s most successful run in decades. The Reds won the Champions League final last summer and are on track to blitzkrieg their way to the Premier League title as it stands. Raheem Sterling finished second for the international award, while Harry Kane came in third.

Bronze was a critical figure for the Lionesses as they competed at the 2019 Women’s World Cup, reaching the semifinals. The full-back was constantly a dangerous threat up the flank, scoring against Norway in a 3-0 win and eventually earning the Silver Ball award as the tournament’s second-best player, finishing behind Megan Rapinoe of the United States.

Her success made her well-known, something she says has been difficult but also enjoyable. “We were successful [at the SheBelieves Cup] and I scored a couple of goals and I think my football life changed overnight,” Bronze said last summer before the World Cup began. “People knew my name and who I was, and I had a target on my back when I was playing, but it was something I enjoyed and always wanted.”

Since the World Cup, England manager Phil Neville has experimented with Bronze in midfield, likening her to Philipp Lahm who made a similar move under Pep Guardiola at Bayern Munich. The award the second of her career, also winning England Women’s Player of the Year back in 2015.

Man City supporter banned five years for Sterling slur

Man City supporter banned for racial abuse
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A Manchester City supporter will not attend matches for five years after racially abusing Raheem Sterling.

The fan admitted that he used a slur in celebrating a Sterling goal against Bournemouth last season.

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According to The Manchester Evening News, Sterling did not hear the slur but fans around the man did and alerted authorities.

The fan, 58-year-old Ian Baldry, immediately regretted his words according to his lawyer, who remarkably claimed Sterling is one of Baldry’s favorite players.

The news comes one day after a Sicilian man was banned from all sporting events for five years after racially abusing Mario Balotelli in the fall.

Football has seen a wide variety of racial abuse incidents this season.

These increasing hateful incidents have inspired many to speak out, and led Pogba made and distributed his own anti-racism bracelets.

League Cup: Man City rolls past Man United

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There’s no doubt anymore as to which color Manchester is these days.

Manchester City extended its bragging rights over their now not so noisy neighbors, with a 3-1 first leg win over Manchester United at Old Trafford on Tuesday in the League Cup semifinals. Bernardo Silva opened the scoring early with a wicked strike from outside the box and it was all up from there for the visitors. Man United showed some brief sparks in the second half, but despite Marcus Rashford’s goal, couldn’t find enough quality to get closer to Man City.

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The action moves to the Etihad Stadium for the second leg on January 29, though Man United will have a two-goal deficit to dig out of.

Manchester City mananger Pep Guardiola made the decision not to play a recognizable striker, leaving both Gabriel Jesus and Sergio Aguero out of the starting lineup. And yet, it quickly paid dividends as Man United’s backline of Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Phil Jones, Victor Lindelof, and Brandon Williams struggled to stay with players like Raheem Sterling and Silva.

Indeed, in the 17th minute, it was Silva who found a pocket of space off a short pass from Kevin De Bruyne and unleashed a blast from 28 yards out that had eyes for the upper corner. As good as the strike was, it was also noticeable that Silva easily took the ball past Fred while Jones didn’t jump forward to cover the space, leaving Silva with plenty of room to uncork the shot.

The goal was just what Man City was expecting and afterwards it confidently pinged the ball around midfield and into Man United’s defensive third of the field, threatening to score again. In the 33rd minute, Man City did just that, as Silva found Riyad Mahrez open in the box before Mahrez rounded de Gea and scored into an empty net to put his side up 2-0.

Man City made it 3-0 five minutes later as again Silva was the architect. He played Mahrez into space in the middle before the ball made its way out left to de Bruyne. His shot on goal was parried by de Gea but it went right into the body of Andreas Pereira, which ricocheted into the goal. Even before firing, de Bruyne’s switch to the left sent Jones flying, adding to his rough night.

After being played off the park in the first half, there was only one way to go in the second half for Man United, and it started to get a few minutes of possession on the ball at a time.

After Man City could have made it 4-0 through Mahrez, Rashford pulled one back for the hosts. In the 70th minute after a turnover, Mason Greenwood played a great pass into the run of Rashford, who lashed a strike past Claudio Bravo to make it 3-1.

This story will be updated. 

FOLLOW LIVE: Manchester derby in League Cup semifinals

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Manchester City meets Manchester United in a heavyweight Carabao Cup semifinal clash as the two do battle at Old Trafford in the first leg of their League Cup tie.

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Both teams have started a strong lineup, although it’s Manchester City that has gone completely full-strength with Riyad Mahrez, Raheem Sterling, and Bernardo Silva all starting up front without a main striker. Both Sergio Aguero and Gabriel Jesus are on the bench to start, while Ilkay Gundogan, Rodrigo, and Kevin De Bruyne control the midfield and Phil Foden starts on the bench.

For Manchester United, Morgan Greenwood looks to continue his excellent Cup form up front supported by Marcus Rashford wearing the captain’s armband. The injured Harry Maguire misses out completely with Phil Jones in his place at center-back. Fred looks to continue his good performances in midfield and the warrior Aaron Wan-Bissaka starts at full-back.

Manchester United came out victorious in their last meeting, back in December in Premier League play. They also have gotten the better of City in each of their last two League Cup meetings, in 2016/17 and 2010/11. They will need to contend with a world-class Raheem Sterling who leads the EFL Cup in goals involved since the start of the 2012/13 season with eight goals and six assists.

Pepe, Arsenal impress in dispatching haggard Man Utd

Pepe drives Arteta to first Arsenal win
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Arsenal gave Mikel Arteta his first win and it came against an age-old rival.

The Gunners controlled Manchester United 2-0 at the Emirates Stadium on Wednesday, riding an eye-opening show from Nicolas Pepe in the process.

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Pepe and Sokratis Papastathopoulos scored the goals as Arsenal moves 10th on 27 points. The Gunners are nine points back of the Top Four.

United whiffs in a bid to move within a win of fourth-place Chelsea, and remains fifth with 31 points.


Three things we learned

1. Arteta overwhelms injury-hit United midfield: The Red Devils midfield isn’t a league-winner at full strength, and not having Paul Pogba and Scott McTominay is a problem. The depth behind them is just not there, or too green. Nemanja Matic and Fred were easy starters, but Jesse Lingard‘s rough time continues and Andreas Pereira has been inconsistent.

Mikel Arteta knew this and was able to start Mesut Ozil, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Alexandre Lacazette, and Nicolas Pepe. It was less of a risk than usual because of the opposition. It became even less so given another fine showing from Granit Xhaka.

United should go shopping even if Pogba plans on staying, given Matic’s age. Both Matic and Fred were decent in a poor effort for United. Maybe Juan Mata was the play, as his cameo was okay.

2. Pepe embraces rare start, demanding more: Nicolas Pepe has been much more effective for Arsenal as a Premier League starter than a sub, and his first league start since Dec. 15 was right on the money. His first half: Goal, 25-of-25 passes, hit post, whipped-in corner that became 2nd goal, three dribbles, two aerials won, one tackle. 2-0 Arsenal. He was still subbed off in the 62nd minute, so, okay. He must be the worst training player on Earth, or hide everyone’s car keys.

To borrow Pep Guardiola‘s favorite phrase modifier, he was so, so good. And there’s room for more, as he’s a shade off when it comes to following his instincts in the final third. That’s something Mikel Arteta will have seen fine-tuned with Raheem Sterling and Gabriel Jesus at Manchester City.

3. Rashford runs out of steam: If we’re going to relentlessly praise Marcus Rashford‘s arrival, and deservedly so, we need to note when United’s key piece doesn’t quite have it. It’s understandable given the minutes and magnitude of contribution asked, but he won just one of nine first half duels. He didn’t get a shot on target during the frame and passed at less than 70 percent.

Man of the Match: Pepe only played the first hour, so we’ll give a nod to beleaguered goal scorer Sokratis Papastathopoulos. The ex-Borussia Dortmund man was the standout performer of a back four which seems to have a simplified plan under Arteta.


A bad Ainsley Maitland-Niles giveaway threatened to open up Arsenal, but Jesse Lingard didn’t handle the opportunity well.

Pepe put Arsenal ahead when Sead Kolasinac‘s cutback was deflected into his path. A clever adjustment later and the ball was in the back of the goal.

Aubameyang couldn’t side volley a Pepe cross home moments later.

The Gunners were all over the Red Devils, and Pepe slipped Lacazette into the box for the Frenchman to torch Harry Maguire but fire wide.

Pepe then curled an 18-yard shot off the far post.

The Gunners got a deserved second in the 43rd as De Gea saved Lacazette’s flick of Pepe’s corner, but Sokratis was at the ready to punch in the rebound.

Harry Maguire headed a free kick to Bernd Leno on the final play of the first half.

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United’s second half was improved at the outset, with Fred stinging Leno’s palms with a shot in the 55th but still no real threat on goal.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer removed Daniel James and Jesse Lingard for Mason Greenwood and Andreas Pereira in the 58th minute.

Matic set up Pereira for a shot in the 59th, but the Brazilian smashed into the outside of the goal.

Leno beat Rashford to Juan Mata’s cross in stoppage time to keep the clean sheet.