League Cup

Leicester City manager Rodgers reacts to draw
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Leicester’s Rodgers: Slow start ‘my fault,’ credits Choudhury for revival

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Leicester City’s Wembley status is far from settled after the Foxes struggled to break down Aston Villa on Wednesday.

The Foxes drew Villa 1-1 at the King Power Stadium and will have to win at Villa Park on Jan. 28 to earn a place in the March 1 final.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ]

Leicester City boss Brendan Rodgers said the performance was rough, but that the tie is “set up perfectly” for the Foxes.

“It was all a bit slow,” said Rodgers, via the BBC. “We didn’t press the game enough. The goal we conceded we have to be stronger. But we stayed calm and speeded up the game, made more runs off the ball. Second half we were very good, they made some great blocks to stop us winning the game. Credit to them, they made it very difficult.”

The Foxes had their excuses for a rough night. Portions of the match were played in a downpour, and one of the club’s ever-present forces missed out.

Wilfred Ndidi missed the match for Leicester City and will be absent for the next month. Rodgers said he made the wrong move in adjusting to life without Ndidi. He rectified that at halftime, pulling Dennis Praet for an enforcer.

Hamza Choudhury made a huge difference, it’s my fault that I didn’t start him tonight,” Rodgers said, via the BBC. “We could see that we needed him and he gave us our identity back. Wilfred Ndidi is so good for us, he’s colossal, and we were too slow and not aggressive without him or Hamza.”

Choudhury should prepare to be busy, and his 22 years should allow him to deputize for most if not all of Ndidi’s absence.

The Foxes have a soft January which includes Southampton, Burnley, and West Ham in league play and a second leg against Villa.

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.

[ 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.

LIVE, League Cup semifinal: Leicester v. Aston Villa

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Leicester City host Aston Villa at the King Power Stadium on Wednesday (kick off, 3 p.m. ET) as a tasty Midlands derby takes place in the League Cup semifinal first leg.

[ LIVE: Leicester v. Aston Villa ]

Brendan Rodgers‘ side, who sit second in the Premier League table, are heavy favorites to advance past injury-hit Villa and reach their first major final in 20 years.

The Foxes beat Villa 4-1 in December and although they’ve slipped up a few times in recent weeks, they will be delighted to have avoided Man City or Man United at the semifinal stage as they are red-hot favorites to reach the final at Wembley.

As for Villa, this competition is a bonus for them as Dean Smith‘s side focus on Premier League survival as they’re embroiled in a relegation battle.

Click on the link above to follow all of the action live, while we will have you covered here on Pro Soccer Talk with analysis and reaction of the first leg clash.

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.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ]

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. 

Must-See Goal: Bernardo Silva

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There’s scoring goals, and then there’s doing what Bernardo Silva just did.

The Portuguese international collected a pass in the right channel, dribbled in towards the box and unleashed a perfect curling strike into the far corner to put his Manchester City up 1-0 over Manchester United at Old Trafford on Tuesday evening in League Cup action. Man United goalkeeper David De Gea had no chance, despite making  all efforts to parry the shot.

Silva’s shot had everything. Pace, precision, timing. It was just what Man City needed on the road and it appeared to demoralize Man United. As of halftime, it’s 3-0 to Man City on the road.

Heres a look at Silva’s exquisite strike: