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Aitor Karanka leaves Nottingham Forest after one year

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After just one year at the club, Nottingham Forest has released manager Aitor Karanka despite the club challenging near the top of the Championship table. According to a statement by the club, Karanka “asked to be released from his contract” and was granted his wish.

Forest currently sits seventh in the Championship standings, just four points back of the playoff positions and 12 points behind leaders Leeds United. They are also coming off a 4-2 win over Leeds that saw the team fight back from a one-goal deficit.

However, before that result the club had gone five matches without a win, allowing the teams in playoff positions to build a slight cushion.

According to many reports around the club, Karanka was clashing with ownership and the front office, and according to Sky Sports, Karanka became fed up with “outside influence disrupting his day-to-day team management.” Sky also states that the 45-year-old Spaniard “felt the lack of stability, control and constant speculation was affecting the club’s progress and players’ mentality.” That latter part could be in reference to heavy speculation surrounding his job status throughout December.

Karanka came to Nottingham Forest from Middlesbrough where he managed through a season of promotion to the Premier League followed by a relegation campaign that led to his departure in March of 2016 with the club in the bottom three, a position they would not recover from. He joined Forest in January of 2018 with the club in 14th position, and they would finish in 17th last year.

Karanka is known for bringing defensive tactical strength to his squad, but as a result, they often lack in attacking threat. The club has conceded 29 goals in 26 Championship matches this season, the sixth-best defensive record in the league, but they have 12 draws so far, the most in the league, and have won back-to-back Championship matches just once all year.

His departure means Nottingham Forest will begin to search for its 11th permanent manager since 2011, a notoriously high rate of turnover that is beginning to upset club supporters.

League Cup wrap: West Ham scores eight; Spurs, Arsenal join 4th round

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The League Cup delivered the goods again, at least when it comes to entertainment, as London clubs were center stage on Wednesday.

[ MORE: Pulisic shines in BVB blowout ]

Spurs and Chelsea had to work hard for their berths in the fourth round, but Arsenal and West Ham found life a bit easier.

Tottenham Hotspur 2-2 (4-2 PKs) Watford

Isaac Success scored just after halftime to give the Hornets a lead at the Stadium MK, where Spurs hosted the encounter thanks to construction delays at their new stadium and an NFL game at Wembley Stadium.

Dele Alli converted a late penalty in the 82nd minute, as Watford went down to 10 men via a Christian Kabasele red card.

That wasn’t the end of the scoring, as Erik Lamela put Spurs in front in the 86th only to see ex-Tottenham man Etienne Capoue lock the score at 2 in the 89th.

Paulo Gazzaniga saved efforts from Watford’s Capoue and Domingos Quina, and Dele converted the deciding penalty in the win.

Nottingham Forest 3-2 Stoke City

Forest scored five minutes before and after halftime in building a 3-0 lead en route to the next round. Benik Afobe and Saido Berahino pulled goals back for the Potters, but an equalizer did not arrive at the City Ground.

Liverpool 1-2 ChelseaFULL RECAP

Eden Hazard‘s sensational late goal capped off Chelsea’s comeback at Anfield, where Emerson Palmieri had earlier scored to cancel out the advantage sourced by Daniel Sturridge.

West Ham United 8-0 Macclesfield Town

This one went according to the script, with Michail Antonio, Robert Snodgrass, and Lucas Perez scoring before halftime as the Irons cruised into the next round.

Snodgrass scored another to join debutant Grady Diangana in bagging braces, while Angelo Ogbonna and Ryan Fredericks also scored finished chances in the blowout.

Arsenal 3-1 Brentford

Danny Welbeck scored in the 5th and 37th minutes, but Arsenal’s neighbors pulled one back with the goal of the afternoon via Alan Judge. Alexandre Lacazette scored late to complete the score line.

League Cup fourth round qualifiers

Arsenal
Blackpool
Bournemouth
Burton Albion
Chelsea
Crystal Palace
Derby County
Fulham
Leicester City
Manchester City
Middlesbrough
Norwich City
Nottingham Forest
Tottenham Hotspur
West Ham United
Everton -or- Southampton (Oct. 2)

USMNT back Lichaj finds new home in Championship

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Eric Lichaj is going to bring his Premier League promotion dreams to a new Championship club.

The 29-year-old USMNT fullback has been a key part of Nottingham Forest to the tune of 188 appearances since moving from Aston Villa in 2013.

[ MORE: Sampaoli defends Messi ]

But he’s on the move, joining Nigel Adkins at Hull City on the heels of a three-goal season at Forest. He famously scored a pair of goals in a 4-2 FA Cup win over Arsenal, then naming his new dog Gunner.

“It’s a fresh start for me and I want to repay Hull City for the faith that they have shown in me by bringing me here. I’ll be working my hardest, as I always do, every day in training and on matchdays.”

The versatile American can play left or right back, and has pushed his way back into the national team picture. Lichaj has 15 caps with a goal for the USMNT.

Also, #AStarInStripes? We see you, Hull

Retailer removes T-shirt from sale over Hillsborough links

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LONDON (AP) A British retailer has withdrawn a T-shirt from sale in its stores and online following complaints that its design could be associated with the Hillsborough soccer disaster.

[ MORE: Liverpool, Man City drawn in UCL quarterfinals ]

Topman had on sale a red shirt with a large “96” on the back and the phrase “what goes around comes around” underneath. The word “Karma” is written on one of the sleeves.

Ninety-six people were crushed to death in the Hillsborough stadium disaster, which happened in Sheffield in April 1989 at an FA Cup semifinal match between Liverpool and Nottingham Forest.

Topman said it “apologizes unreservedly for any offense caused by this T-shirt” and that the “garment has been removed from sale online and in stores.”

The retailer said the design was inspired by a Bob Marley track, with the number referring to the year of the re-release.

His name is Gunner: Lichaj gets his dog despite no hat trick

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Oh, the magic of the Cup…

Eric Lichaj‘s greatest wish in life — to welcome a brand new member, of the canine variety, into his family — has finally come true.

[ MORE: Wenger says no approaches for Alexis Sanchez… yet ]

After scoring a brace (including this stunning volley from the edge of the box — WATCH HERE) in Nottingham Forest’s 4-2 victory over Arsenal in the third round of the FA Cup on Sunday, Lichaj told the post-game television interviewer, “My wife told me that if I score a hat trick this year, I can get a dog. … I was trying to get the penalty, but Vaughany (David Vaughan) told me politely to go away.”

On Monday, the entire footballing world — from fans of Forest, to fans of other clubs and even teammates — got behind the cause and helped Lichaj promote the #getericadog hashtag.

It worked. (Look away, Arsenal fans, for the newest member of the Lichaj family is named… Gunner. Yes, really.)

Relax, it was just banter.