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Report: Chelsea may ask Abraham to play through injury

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Chelsea has so far come up empty in its search for a striker, so desperate times may call for desperate measures.

Tammy Abraham, who has been a revelation this season with 13 Premier League goals, went down with an ankle injury late in the 2-2 draw with Arsenal last weekend. The club has tried desperately to find a striker before the Friday transfer window closes, and while the Blues have been linked with Edinson Cavani and Krzysztof Piatek they so far have not had any success in finding a replacement.

Therefore, according to Matt Law of The Telegraph, Chelsea may ask Abraham to play through his injury against Leicester City this weekend. The match is a vital one as Chelsea, sitting fourth in the Premier League table, looks to put separation between themselves and Manchester United while also chasing the third-placed Foxes who sit eight points clear.

The thinking appears to be that Chelsea has a 16-day break between the Leicester City match and their subsequent game against Manchester United in mid-February thanks to the Premier League’s two-week break at the start of the month.

Earlier this month, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer admitted regret for not resting a banged up Marcus Rashford, choosing instead to bring him off the bench in an FA Cup match against Wolves. Reports after the match confirmed that Rashford was carrying a single stress fracture in his back at the time of the appearance, and he was hauled off 16 minutes later with scans after the match showing his appearance against Wolves worsened the injury. He now he faces two to three months on the sidelines.

Abraham has also slowed of late after being so heavily used this season. The 22-year-old has logged a massive 2,359 minutes across all competitions this season, including 1,843 out of a possible 2,160 in Premier League play. Abraham scored his first 11 Premier League goals in his first 14 matches of the season, but has just three goals in the last 10 games.

Chelsea has Michy Batshuayi as a natural replacement for Abraham up top, but Frank Lampard has used him as solely a bench option the entirety of this season. Batshuayi has made 14 Premier League appearances this season, but has logged just 138 minutes across those matches. When used as a starter in cup action, Batshuayi has four goals in four domestic cup starts. Olivier Giroud is also on the roster, having made just five Premier League appearances this season.

Trezeguet sends Aston Villa on to Wembley in Carabao Cup

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In a wildly entertaining game, with massive chances for both sides, it’s Aston Villa who goes through to Wembley for the Carabao Cup final, topping Leicester City 2-1 at Villa Park for a 3-2 aggregate victory. The winning moment came as late as it possibly could, with substitute Trezeguet finding the back of the net in the 93rd minute of regulation with penalties looming.

The start of the match was intense. In the opening minutes, Jack Grealish‘s cross was stopped by the right foot of Kasper Schmeichel before down the other end James Maddison nearly put Leicester City in front but for a wonderful fingertip save by Orjan Nyland. Maddison again just missed in the seventh minute, firing just wide right with a left-footed volley.

Leicester City would rue those misses, as Aston Villa would go in front on 13 minutes as Matt Targett found some space on the left side of the six-yard box and fired past Schmeichel for the opener. The finish was emphatic and professional after the Leicester defense opened up by a brilliant run and turn by Grealish.

The Foxes were again thwarted by Nyland who acrobatically tipped a vicious shot from Youri Tielemans off the crossbar, a wonderful, shimmering save.

After halftime, Villa came close to a second through Grealish who just missed with a 54th minute shot as the hosts began to pour it on. Targett also came close but fired a long-range effort wide to the right. Again they almost had the all-important game sealer, but debutant Mbwana Samatta somehow whiffed in front of net as Grealish delivered a spectacular ball to the doorstep.

The Foxes began to push in the final 20 minutes with Jamie Vardy brought onto the pitch. Kelechi Iheanacho proved dangerous, coming close minutes before firing Leicester City level with 19 minutes to go. Harvey Barnes drives past his defender Frédéric Guilbert and fired a sumptuous cross to the far post where Iheanacho was waiting to roof the ball. Oddly enough, Barnes – essential in the creation of the equalizer – was about to be withdrawn by Leicester City manager Brendan Rodgers with Demari Gray ready on the touchline, but after the goal, the substitution was reconsidered.

Leicester nearly won it with 11 minutes to go, but somehow, with Aston Villa completely unable to clear the ball from their own penalty area, the Foxes were unable to find the back of the net. Iheanacho headed the ball across the face of goal where nobody was waiting until it reached Vardy at the far post who sent it back towards the top of the six-yard box. Iheanacho then whiffed at the cutback before Maddison fired over.

The Carabao Cup does not feature extra-time, so with the score level at 1-1 and the aggregate even at 2-2, penalties were on the horizon, but Aston Villa had other ideas. The home side booked its place to Wembley on a relatively simple effort, with the Egyptian connection coming through. Ahmed El Mohamady sent a looping, long-distance cross to the far post where Trezeguet was waiting, with a simple left-footed finish before the ball hit the ground.

Overall, Jack Grealish once again showed his fabulous class, carrying Aston Villa throughout the match, proving dangerous both in transition and in the half court. Leicester City, though, will be overly disappointed having won the shot count 22 to nine and holding two-thirds of the possession. Maddison missed countless good opportunities and Vardy’s inclusion did little to help in front of net.

Villa will play in the Carabao Cup final for the ninth time in the club’s history, going for its sixth League Cup title. They will play either Manchester City or Manchester United, with City holding a 3-1 advantage going into the second leg tomorrow at the Etihad.

LIVE, League Cup semifinal: Aston Villa v. Leicester

Aston Villa v. Watford match recap and highlights
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Aston Villa host Leicester City in the second leg of their League Cup semifinal on Tuesday (kick off, 2:45 p.m. ET) at Villa Park.

[ LIVE: Villa v. Leicester ]

The score is locked at 1-1 after the first leg at Leicester as struggling Villa will hope home advantage can play a big part in upsetting the Foxes.

Brendan Rodgers and Leicester are the heavy favorites to advance to the final (their first in over 20 years) where they will face either Man City or Man United.

Dean Smith and his injury-hit Villa have been buoyed by recent results and will be dangerous with Jack Grealish leading the charge.

This will be a tight, tense Midlands derby as local pride and a place at Wembley is on the line. With the potential for penalties, if needed, it could be a long night in Birmingham.

In team news Samatta makes his Villa debut, while Leicester’s star striker Jamie Vardy is fit enough for the bench.

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

LINEUPS

Premier League January Transfer Window 2020: When it closes, notable players, more

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The Premier League January Transfer Window closes in just a few days, and clubs are still facing half a season with glaring needs all over the pitch. So far just $49 million has been spent by Premier League clubs this winter, and that could climb sharply as the window nears its conclusion. Below is all you need to know about the 2020 January transfer window deadline.

When is Transfer Deadline Day?

The January window slams shut on Friday, January 31st at 6 p.m. ET (11 p.m. GMT). Coincidentally, that’s also the exact same time the windows in Germany, Spain, Italy, and France all close as well. The Portuguese window closes on February 2nd.

What teams and players are likely to be involved?

Many of the top Premier League teams have something to fight for and may look for help from around Europe and beyond. Manchester United and Arsenal both continue to need defensive help, with both teams relying on flawed players like Phil Jones and David Luiz for much of the season. Tottenham is looking for a Harry Kane replacement, while a number of teams near the bottom look for help in avoiding relegation. Chelsea is also looking for an option at striker with Tammy Abraham suffering an ankle injury, although so far they have come up empty.

Who has already brought in players?

Early in the transfer window, Liverpool snagged RB Leipzig midfielder Takumi Minamino, who has already made an impact in the Reds’ injury stricken midfield. Tottenham Hotspur recently brought in Benfica midfielder Gedson Fernandes, Watford snagged Udinese winger Ignacio Pussetto. Newcastle picked up a loan for former Spurs youth product Nabil Bentaleb from Schalke, and Aston Villa purchased Mbwana Samatta from Belgian club Genk.

Players around Europe like Emre Can, Thomas Lemar, and Krzysztof Piatek could be in high demand for Premier League teams looking for midfield or attacking reinforcements.

How to watch Transfer Deadline Day coverage?

Watch the Transfer Deadline Day show from 6-8 p.m. ET on January 31 live on NBCSN or live online at NBCSports.com. There will be analysis on all of the late deals and how each Premier League club fared during the January window. Rebecca Lowe will host the show, with studio analysts Kyle Martino and Robbie Mustoe. Arlo White and Graeme Le Saux will also appear from their station in the UK, and Sky Sports chief reporter Bryan Swanson will be a guest on the show. There is also extensive coverage from Sky Sports.

What were the major 2019 January Deadline Day deals?

The winter transfer window last season was a flurry of activity. Newcastle secured Miguel Almiron from Atlanta United on this day last season, while Leicester City snagged Youri Tielemans on loan from Monaco, a deal which they later made permanent. Burnley grabbed Peter Crouch on loan from Stoke City before the storied striker in the summer. Fulham desperately tried to shore up its porous defense with a loan move for Havard Nordtveit from Hoffenheim, but it was too little too late.

FA Cup fifth round draw

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The draw for the FA Cup fifth round has been made and a potential clash between Chelsea and Liverpool has been set up.

[ LIVE: Follow all the FA Cup scores here ]

If Liverpool’s youngsters (sans Jurgen Klopp and their first team) get past third-tier Shrewsbury Town in their fourth round replay they will travel to Chelsea, while holders Man City will travel to second tier Sheffield Wednesday.

Man United will travel to either Northampton Town or Derby County as they could face former United legend Wayne Rooney, while Portsmouth (the lowest ranked team left in the competition) will host either Bournemouth or Arsenal.

Southampton or Tottenham will host Norwich City in the only guaranteed all-Premier League last 16 clash.

To help ease fixture congestion for Premier League clubs and due to their week off for a mid-season player break (even if if didn’t work out like that for Liverpool, Tottenham, Southampton and Newcastle United due to fourth round replays) the fifth round will be played across three midweek evenings on Mar. 3-5.

There will also be no replays from the fifth round onwards in the FA Cup, as the games will go to extra time and penalty kicks, if needed, if the scores are level.

Below is the draw in full for the fifth round.


Sheffield Wednesday v. Manchester City
Reading or Cardiff City v. Sheffield United
Chelsea v. Shrewsbury Town or Liverpool
West Bromwich Albion v. Newcastle United or Oxford United
Leicester City v. Coventry City or Birmingham City
Northampton Town or Derby County v. Manchester United
Southampton or Tottenham Hotspur v. Norwich City
Portsmouth v. Bournemouth or Arsenal