Loftus-Cheek inspires as Chelsea edge past Aston Villa in Carabao Cup

    Chelsea advance to fourth round of Carabao Cup on penalties

    Thomas Tuchel’s Chelsea had to rely on a 4-3 penalty shootout win against Dean Smith’s Aston Villa outfit at Stamford Bridge tonight after the Blues could not turn their dominant performance into a win in normal time as both sides fought to a 1-1 draw after 90-minutes.

    https://twitter.com/ChelseaFC/status/1440781372436615168?s=20

    Up next for Chelsea is another home encounter in the fourth round of the competition when they host Ralph Hasenhüttl’s Southampton who also needed penalties to work their way past Sheffield United at Bramall Lane yesterday evening after a 2-2 draw.

    Timo Werner found his way on the scoresheet nine minutes after the restart before Villa drew level through 19-year-old Cameron Archer ten minutes later.

    Loftus-Cheek turns back time in brilliant display

    On a night where Cobham product Trevoh Chalobah won many plaudits for his 90-minute display at the Bridge, England international midfielder Ruben Loftus-Cheek turned the clock back in a fantastic display at the heart of the Chelsea midfield.

    Deployed as the midfield anchor in an uncharacteristic utilization, Loftus-Cheek was at the center of all phases of play for Chelsea on both sides of the ball in a performance that included an 88% pass completion rate, 100% dribble success rate, 8/11 ground duels won, and 3 chances created which included 1 big chance.

    For Loftus-Cheek, player that was very much on the outside looking in this summer when many expected the native of Lewisham to follow Tammy Abraham to the eternal city in a move to AS Roma, his vintage display could have well given Tuchel something to think about after Saul Ñíguez has not started brightly in his season loan from Atlético Madrid.

    Ruben Loftus-Cheek dazzles as Chelsea edge Aston Villa on penalties

    LONDON, ENGLAND – APRIL 18: Ruben Loftus-Cheek of Fulham in action during the Premier League match between Arsenal and Fulham at Emirates Stadium on April 18, 2021 in London, England. Sporting stadiums around the UK remain under strict restrictions due to the Coronavirus Pandemic as Government social distancing laws prohibit fans inside venues resulting in games being played behind closed doors. (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)

    The former Fulham (2020-21) and Crystal Palace (2017-18) loanee has every chance to work his way back into his managers thinking given Chelsea’s lack of options in the center of the park as just N’Golo Kanté, Jorginho, and Mateo Kovačić are the only long-term midfield options at the club.

    Mikel Arteta reveals why Charlie Patino did not feature against Wimbledon

    Arsenal march on

    Mikel Arteta’s Arsenal side made it three wins on the spin with a 3-0 victory over League one outfit AFC Wimbledon in the Carabao Cup third round.

    The Gunners took the lead through an Alexandre Lacazette penalty in the opening ten minutes, but were made to wait well into the second half for the comfort of a second goal, with Emile Smith Rowe turning in from close range. Just moments later, Eddie Nketiah added gloss to the result with a lovely backheeled finish to give the scoreline a comfortable look.

    As a reward for their performance, Arsenal have been drawn against fellow Premier League side Leeds United in the fourth round of the competition, one both sides will take seriously as they look to finish the season with some form of silverware.

    Patino a notable absentee

    Many Arsenal fans were excited to see the sort of lineup that the Gunners were going to field, with the youth team talk of the town having beaten Chelsea 6-1 at the weekend. Cheif among those that fans wanted to see was 17-year old Charlie Patino, yet when the lineup was announced, he was a notable omission from the squad.

    Speaking after the game, Mikel Arteta outlined the reason that Patino was not given a run out this evening, saying:

    “He was very close, but in the end we decided that some players needed some minutes,” said Arteta after the game.

    “It will happen in time.”

    “Charlie’s been good. He played a practice match at Colney and he was really good.

    “Again, give him time and we will prepare him.”

    [Quotes via Football.London]

    Could we see Patino, at the tender age of just 17, make his Arsenal debut this season, or will 2021-22 come too soon for the young prospect?

    Read more:

    Amid suggestions of imminent Arsenal debut, Reiss Nelson tips ‘best ever’ Gunners talent Patino for stardom

    3 things we learned as Arsenal dispatch Wimbledon in Carabao Cup third round

     

    West Ham handed another Manchester tie in Carabao Cup 4th round draw

    Carabao Cup heats up

    After another enthralling night of Carabao Cup action, the competition is down to just 16 teams.

    With Manchester City and Liverpool both going through on Tuesday night thanks to big wins over Wycombe Wanderers and Norwich City respectively, the other four sides in the Premier League’s “big six” were in action this evening.

    In the biggest shock of the evening, a strong Manchester United side were dumped out by West Ham, a side they had beaten just three days prior, to make it two defeats from three games for the Red Devils.

    Resting Cristiano Ronaldo, Solskjaer could still call upon Jadon Sancho and Jesse Lingard among other first-team players, but an early goal from Manuel Lanzini was one that ultimately proved decisive, meaning that Manchester United’s search for silverware this season will have to take a different direction.

    Arsenal were on the right side of a comfortable 3-0 scoreline against League 1 side AFC Wimbledon, while Tottenham and Chelsea both came through penalty shootouts against fellow Premier League sides Wolves and Aston Villa to take their place in the draw.

    Elsewhere, Brighton, Leicester City, Brentford, Burnley, Leeds United and Southampton all made it through to represent the Premier League. In addition, Sunderland, Queens Park Rangers, Preston North End and Stoke City all made it through from the football league.

    Fourth Round Draw pits Premier League sides together

    With just 16 teams left, including four of the big six, big ties were sure to be thrown up. And so it proved to be, with West Ham’s reward for beating Manchester United a game against their noisy neighbours, and current Carabao Cup holders, Manchester City.

    Chelsea vs Southampton

    Arsenal vs Leeds United

    Stoke City vs Brentford

    West Ham vs Manchester City

    Leicester City vs Brighton

    Burnley vs Tottenham Hotspur

    QPR vs Sunderland

    Preston North End vs Liverpool

    Elsewhere, Arsenal will be hosting Leeds United, who have struggled so far this season but remain a strong side, while Tottenham travel to Burnley for another all Premier League tie.

    There will also be at least one non top-flight side in the quarter-final, as Queens Park Rangers face Sunderland.

    Are you happy with your team’s draw?

    These ties will be played in the week commencing the 25th October. 

    Read more:

    Man United fans react to Dion Dublin’s claims about Anthony Martial

    3 things we learned as Arsenal dispatch Wimbledon in Carabao Cup third round

     

    Anthony Martial criticized by fans after support from Dion Dublin

    Dion Dublin backs Anthony Martial; fans disagree

    Manchester United are in the midst of their Carabao Cup third round clash with West Ham at Old Trafford tonight, and at the time of writing, the Red Devils are 1-0 down with just minutes to play. French international forward Anthony Martial was given a run out in Ole Gunnar Solskjær’s match day XI tonight, leading the line in a front three along with summer signing Jadon Sancho and in-limbo England international Jesse Lingard.

    With United struggling to find a breakthrough against David Moyes’ resurgent Hammers outfit, former Coventry City and Aston Villa standout Dion Dublin backed Martial to succeed while on BBC 5 Live Sport on match coverage;

    “Martial can be a top striker for United. He just needs to work on his finishing!”

    However, most fan responses on Twitter were rather contrarian and characteristically in blunt fashion.

    Falling short at Old Trafford

    Martial has hardly been the picture of consistency since joining United from AS Monaco back in 2015-16.

    Man United fans react to Dion Dublin’s claims about Anthony Martial

    Manchester United’s Anthony Martial celebrates scoring his side’s first goal of the game during the Premier League match at Old Trafford, Manchester. (Photo by Nick Potts/PA Images via Getty Images)

    The full French international and Olympique Lyonnais youth graduate has only embarked on one bright season in his six years at Old Trafford when he hit 17-goals and added 7-assists in a highly effective Premier League campaign in 2019-20.

    Despite two other domestic campaigns that saw him eclipse double figures in the goal charts, Martial has truly never been viewed as dispensable at the club, with constant doubt surrounding his tenure at the Theatre of Dreams.

    Another disappointing performance for the Massy-native will hardly do the Frenchman any favours as he continues to try to find his niche at England’s biggest club during a season that included two big additions to the forward line in Cristiano Ronaldo and Jadon Sancho.

    3 things we learned as Arsenal dispatch Wimbledon in Carabao Cup third round

    Arsenal take on Wimbledon

    Arsenal won 3-0 at The Emirates Stadium against League One side AFC Wimbledon in the Carabao Cup third round. An early penalty from Alexandre Lacazette settled any nerves, but the second goal would not come until late in the second half, when Emile Smith Rowe turned in from close range.

    The third followed just moments later, when Eddie Nketiah, who is set to leave Arsenal next summer when his contract expires, netted with a beautiful backheel. Barring any sensational turnaround, the Gunners will be through to the fourth round of the Carabao Cup.

    Here are three things 101 picked out from the encounter 

    1. Ingenious Arsenal fans

    Arsenal fans bemoaned the  lack of television coverage, with the game not being broadcasted whatsoever no matter where in the World you were.

    Although available via the radio, there was no television option, something that Arsenal fans have not experienced in decades.

    However, where there is a will, there was a way. Not content with this, Arsenal fans convinced several inside the Emirates stadium to live stream the match via Twitter, something that many took the opportunity to do.

    At points, as many as 80,000 people were watching the match via these streams, more people than there were fans in the ground. While eyebrows will be raised at the method, serious questions must be asked about how fans of a worldwide sport are not able to watch their side play every time.

    2. Lokonga and Tavares impress

    While the summer signings that the Gunners have made have received much scrutiny, they have more than justified their additions to the side. A pair of them, in Sambi Lokonga and Nuno Tavares, both showed just what they could offer Mikel Arteta in the performances they put in against the League 1 outfit.

    Of course, the quality of the opposition must be taken into account, but the pair certainly look like very competent backups, and at 21 years old, both have plenty of opportunities to break into the first team in due course.

    Big drop off from first XI to second

    Despite the pair impressing, there was little else to note from the performance of other reserve players, who for much of the game struggled to break down their opponents. Only the additions of Bukayo Saka and Emile Smith Rowe added some much-needed tempo and quality to proceedings, while Martinelli and Lacazette impressed individually but seemed on different wavelengths.

    That, of course, is to be expected from a side that rarely plays together, and there are signs that the aforementioned players could slot into the first XI, but as a unit they appeared far less cohesive than the seniors who Arteta will field on Sunday.

    Most importantly, however, the Gunners are through to round 4 of the Carabao Cup, with the draw being made later this evening.

    Read more:

    Aaron Ramsdale now Arsenal’s no.1 as Gunners look to cash in on Bernd Leno in January

    Why Thomas Partey was handed a surprise start against Wimbledon

    Chelsea fans react as academy star shines in first half against Aston Villa

    Chelsea face Aston Villa

    For the second time in ten days, Chelsea and Aston Villa are locked in action, this time in the Carabao Cup third round. Following the Premier League clash, which Chelsea won 3-0 largely thanks to a brace from Romelu Lukaku, two much-changed sides faced each other this evening.

    Currently, the Blues are 1-0 up on the Villians courtesy of a goal from German forward Timo Werner, and will be hoping to hold onto the lead in order to progress through to the next round of the competition, as they target additional silverware after Champions League success last time out.

    Chelsea fans react to Chalobah’s first half

    One man who stood out to Chelsea fans on social media was none other than their own academy product, Trevoh Chalobah. The youngster has featured in the Premier League already this season, and offered another strong showing in the opening 45 minutes, which did not go unnoticed on social media.

    Read more:

    Revealed: Thomas Tuchel’s plans for Trevoh Chalobah following impressive pre-season with Chelsea

    Chelsea handed massive boost ahead of Manchester City clash with duo ruled out

    UEFA speak out against biennial World Cup with 'serious concerns'

    What was said as UEFA cite ‘serious concerns’ for biennial World Cup

    The following is UEFA’s media release regarding the growing movement to establish a biennial World Cup amidst an already congested footballing calendar via talkSPORT.

    UEFA is disappointed with the methodology adopted, which has so far led to radical reform projects being communicated and openly promoted before having been given, together with other stakeholders, the chance to participate in any consultation meeting.

    There are real dangers associated with this plan:

    • the dilution of the value of the n.1 world football event, whose quadrennial occurrence gives it a mystique that generations of fans have grown up with; 
    • the erosion of sporting opportunities for the weaker national teams by replacing regular matches with final tournaments; 
    • the risk to sustainability for players, forced to engage in summer high intensity competitions every year instead of longer recuperation breaks in alternate years; 
    • the risk for the future of women’s tournaments, deprived of exclusive slots and overshadowed by the proximity of top men’s events. 

    These are just some of the serious concerns that the FIFA proposal provokes at first glance and they cannot be dispelled simply with unsubstantiated promotional slogans on the supposed benefits of a thicker calendar for final tournaments.”

    UEFA is of the opinion that the future of the international calendar should be the subject of genuine consultation and exchange between FIFA, the confederations and key stakeholders of competitions, kicking off with an open discussion on perceived problems and considering a range of solutions that will be identified in the course of the debate, taking into account the interest of the game and the legitimate point of view of the different parties. On 14 September, UEFA and its 55 member associations asked FIFA to organize a special meeting with them to be able to voice their concerns on the impact of such plans. UEFA and its 55 member associations have to-date not yet received a reply from FIFA on this request.”

    Divide along federation lines regarding calendar revamp

    Former Arsenal boss Arsène Wenger – FIFA’s Chief of Global Football Development – is one of the chief advocates for the establishment of a biennial World Cup tournament. And though many league federations across UEFA remain staunchly against it, including with the open criticism of the notion that players being treated like they are machines, there is a divide amongst FIFA federations when it comes to the idea of fully exploring the proposal.

    FIFA’s two strongest federations – UEFA and CONMEBOL – remain firmly entrenched against any plans to move forward, but both CONCACAF and AFC “continue to look at these proposals constructively, with an open mind, and in the spirit of positive engagement.”

    UEFA remain adamantly against proposed plans for biennial World Cup citing ‘serious concerns’

    El Salvadors players pose before their Central American qualification football match against Saint Kitts and Nevis for the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 at the Cuscatlan stadium in San Salvador on June 15, 2021. (Photo by Marvin Recinos / AFP) (Photo by MARVIN RECINOS/AFP via Getty Images)

    With Qatar 2022 in the not so distant future, the divide amongst the future of international football and its long-reaching effects on the club side of the game looks set to continue.

    Why Thomas Partey was handed a surprise start against Wimbledon

    Arsenal host Wimbledon in Carabao Cup 3rd round

    Following their 6-0 demolition of West Brom in the second round of the Carabao Cup, Arsenal play host to League 1 outfit AFC Wimbledon this evening. The Gunners are looking to build momentum after back to back 1-0 wins that kickstarted their season following an international break spent at the foot of the Premier League.

    There was a great deal of hope that the weaker opposition and nature of the competition, traditionally one in which youth is fielded, would see Mikel Arteta offer game time to some of the more impressive members of the U-23 side, such as Charlie Patino.

    However, as was the case against the Baggies, the Spaniard opted for a strong starting XI, which includes Bernd Leno, Rob Holding, Ainsley Maitland Niles and Alexandre Lacazette. While all could be classed as backup players, none offer the excitement of youth that the Arsenal faithful were craving. Nevertheless, should they get the job done there will be no room for complaint.

    Why Thomas Partey started

    One of the more surprising players named to begin proceedings this evening however was Ghanaian midfielder Thomas Partey. Having proved so crucial to the Gunners, and with the North London derby just four days away (a game which he limped out of last season), fans were understandably left confused as to why he was risked in this tie.

    However, Football.London journalist Chris Wheatley shed light on the situation, revealing:

    “Thomas Partey asked to play tonight as he looks to fine tune his match fitness ahead of Sunday’s north London derby.”

    Should the midfielder come through unscathed, it would be a massive bonus to him to have further game-time under his belt. Should he pick up an injury, however, more than a few Arsenal fans will begin pointing fingers.

    Read more:

    Pep Guardiola pleads for Manchester City fans to attend games following Leipzig demolition

    Aaron Ramsdale now Arsenal’s no.1 as Gunners look to cash in on Bernd Leno in January

    Aaron Ramsdale now Arsenal's no.1 as Gunners look to cash in on Bernd Leno in January

    Ramsdale the revelation

    It is safe to say that Arsenal’s prolonged pursuit of Aaron Ramsdale raised more than a few eyebrows across the footballing world. The Sheffield United goalkeeper, relegated in back to back Premier League seasons, never set the world alight during his time in the Steel City and the hefty 24 million pound price tag (plus a potential six million in add-ons) left the Gunners open to criticism.

    It is far too early to tell just how effective the signing could be, but the newest addition between the posts is yet to concede a goal in Arsenal colours across three games, making some vital stops on the way.

    And while Mikel Arteta refused to reveal who his number one was going forwards, the answer was laid bare this evening.

    In the Carabao Cup third round, it was Bernd Leno, not Ramsdale, who was selected in goal, alongside a string of other reserve players such as Cedric and Pablo Mari. Ramsdale, by contrast, was given the night off, not even selected on the Gunners’ bench.

    Arsenal look to cash in on Leno in January

    Now seemingly demoted within weeks of Ramsdale joining the club, and with 12 months left on his Arsenal contract come this summer, Leno is unlikely to want to stay.

    As per 90.min, the Gunners are happy the German to stay until the summer, but they also claim that:

    “Arsenal have informed Leno that they will not stand in his way and would be prepared to let him go as soon as the next transfer window in January.”

    With a World Cup in just over 12 months time, Leno could push hard for a January exit as he looks to cement his position in the Germany squad, something that sitting on the Arsenal bench will not do.

    Read more:

    Aaron Ramsdale throws down gauntlet; challenges Bernd Leno for number one status at Arsenal

    Arsenal negotiate Carabao Cup third round without Hale End starlet

     

    Mikel Arteta fields strong Arsenal XI against AFC Wimbledon in Carabao Cup clash

    Arsenal to focus on domestic cups with strong Carabao Cup matchday XI

    Mikel Arteta has pulled no punches tonight when choosing his preferred XI as Arsenal negotiate the third round of the Carabao Cup against aFC Wimbledon at the Emirates stadium tonight.

    Arsenal negotiate Carabao Cup third round without Hale End starlet

    Arsenal’s French striker Alexandre Lacazette celebrates scoring their third goal during the English Premier League football match between West Bromwich Albion and Arsenal at The Hawthorns stadium in West Bromwich, central England, on January 2, 2021. (Photo by Rui Vieira / POOL / AFP) / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE. No use with unauthorized audio, video, data, fixture lists, club/league logos or ‘live’ services. Online in-match use limited to 120 images. An additional 40 images may be used in extra time. No video emulation. Social media in-match use limited to 120 images. An additional 40 images may be used in extra time. No use in betting publications, games or single club/league/player publications. / (Photo by RUI VIEIRA/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

    The Spaniard opted to select a very strong cup side against much lesser opposition, with clear intentions to take the cup competition seriously in a bid to add to the Arsenal trophy cabinet in a 2021-22 campaign that will not feature any European involvement.

    Both Thomas Partey and Sambi Lokonga were selected in tonight’s XI, while Alexandre Lacazette, Eddie Nketiah, and Pablo Mari were also given run outs.

    https://twitter.com/Arsenal/status/1440734043016810501?s=20

    However, questions can and should be raised about some of the selections made given current issues in and around the team regarding both fitness as well as contract disputes, and the team also fails to feature a number of promising Hale End products who are vying for long-term roles in the current regime.

    Questionable team selection

    But some have voiced concern over a missed chance to give highly-rated youngster Charlie Patino a run out tonight against Wimbleton after the England youth international has turned heads at the club with his recent chance to train with the Arsenal first-team.

    Patino was not selected in the squad at all, with Mohamed Elneny being named as the only central option on the bench tonight. Further concerns can be levied about the inclusion of Thomas Partey considering his recent fitness concerns, and with the North London Derby just around the corner, many would have assumed that the Ghanaian international would have been focusing on a full return against Spurs.

    Folarin Balogun was also left out of the XI in favor of Eddie Nketiah, who is all but likely destined for a departure from Arsenal in the summer after still failing to sign an extension in north London after a move in the summer window failed to materialize.

    Read more:

    Why Thomas Partey was handed a surprise start against Wimbledon

    Aaron Ramsdale now Arsenal’s no.1 as Gunners look to cash in on Bernd Leno in January

    Spezia star trolls Juventus with Cristiano Ronaldo celebration

    Juventus struggle without Ronaldo

    After a disappointing season last time out, in which 29 goals from Ronaldo could only help Juventus finish 4th courtesy of a final-day victory, the future without the Portuguese maestro was supposed to be brighter.

    That has proved far from the case, however. After four games, the old lady are yet to pick up their first win of the season, and sat in the relegation zone ahead of the clash with 14th placed Spezia.

    With a gap of ten points (having played a game more) already between Juventus and last season’s title winners Inter Milan, it looks as if it could be another year at least before the Turin side get their hands back on the Scudetto.

    In a bid to halt the slide, the old lady are currently locked in Serie A action with 14th placed Spezia, and in fact took the lead through returning forward Moise Kean just before the half-hour mark.

    However, with half-time approaching, Spezia found an equaliser with a fine finish, handing new Juve boss Max Allegri an altogether more difficult team talk. Should Juve fail to win, they could well remain in the relegation zone of the Italian league were results to go against them.

    Spezia star trolls Juventus with Ronaldo celebration

    It is safe to say that Cristiano Ronaldo’s celebration is iconic. The “Siu” combined with the jump has been echoed in stadiums across the world, and is perhaps the celebration most synonymous with any single player.

    However, it was stolen today by Spezia’s Emmanuel Gyasi. Cutting in from the left flank, he fired the ball into the roof of the net to equalise for Spezia, before letting loose with Ronaldo’s celebration in front of a jubilant home crowd.

     

    Chelsea handed massive boost ahead of Manchester City clash with duo ruled out

    Early repeat of the Champions League final

    Chelsea host Manchester City this Saturday in an early-season repeat of last campaigns Champions League final. Despite the Manchester outfit winning the Premier League last season, the Blues boast a brilliant record under Thomas Tuchel against Pep Guardiola, having won all three of the games between the pair, most notably to lift the Champions League last May.

    The Blues have made a fantastic start to the Premier League campaign, picking up thirteen points from a possible fifteen across their opening 5 games, with the only blemish on their record being a 1-1 draw with Liverpool, against whom they played 45 minutes with 10 men.

    Manchester City, on the other hand, have ended up off the early pace set by Manchester United, Liverpool and Chelsea. A loss to Tottenham, combined with a 0-0 draw with Southampton, means that they sit on 10 points, and could find themselves 6 points away from the early runners should they lose to the Blues at Stamford Bridge.

    Chelsea handed early initiative with injury news

    However, Chelsea have been handed a massive early boost in their aims to pull clear of Guardiola’s side just six games in. Although Thomas Tuchel is sweating on the fitness of goalkeeper Edouard Mendy, he will have been bouyed by the news that Manchester City have injury concerns of their own.

    These come in the form of defenders Aymeric Laporte and John Stones, both of whom picked up injuries while on international duty with Spain and England respectively. As per Mike McGrath of the Telegraph, neither player is set to be available for the next fortnight, which includes the trip to Chelsea, as well as games against Paris Saint Germain and Liverpool.

    This means that Nathan Ake and Ruben Dias are the only recognised senior defenders at Guardiola’s disposal. Could this be something Chelsea look to target with new signing Romelu Lukaku?

    Read more:

    Liverpool given the go ahead to move forward with Anfield expansion plans

    Anfield expansion to move ahead

    Premier League giants Liverpool are set to go ahead with their planned expansion of Anfield, with the iconic ground primed for a £60million redevelopment.

    As reported by the Liverpool Echo, the Anfield Road stand will add another 7,000 seated capacity, taking the total size of the ground to 61,000.

    https://twitter.com/LivEchoLFC/status/1440703685785317376?s=20

    With Buckingham Group Contracting Ltd. hopeful of completing the Liverpool project in time for the 2023-24 Premier League season, club managing director Andy Hughes spoken on the timing needing to be spot on before the project could move ahead;

    “We have been clear from the beginning that in order for this expansion to go ahead we needed the co-operation of local residents and the community, to successfully navigate the complex planning landscape and to ensure the project is financially viable.

    We needed certainty for this project to progress and are now in a position to be able to move forward. We began this journey in 2014 and are grateful to everyone for the contributions they have made to bring the project to this stage.”

    Project to aid local community

    Plans to expand Anfield are not just about the status of Liverpool, but community growth is very much at the forefront of the project as well.

    Part of the redevelopment’s remit is as follows; “Principal contractors Buckingham will work directly with Liverpool’s Red Neighbours initiative on a range of activities with the local community and schools, in line with the club’s current activities across food poverty and education and opportunities for young people.”

    Liverpool to begin Anfield redevelopment starting next week

    Liverpool’s Diogo Jota (center of group) celebrates scoring his side’s third goal of the game with team-mates during the Premier League match at Anfield, Liverpool. (Photo by Paul Ellis/PA Images via Getty Images)

    Additionally, further employment opportunities will be established upon completion of the redeveloped stand will add a further 400 matchday roles at the ground, while the project developer Buckingham has committed itself to offering 35 work placements as well as over 800 apprentice & training weeks during the duration of the construction period.

    Official: James Rodriguez departs Everton for Qatar outfit

    James Rodriguez departs

    Following a Jekyll and Hyde 12 months with Everton, the Toffees have confirmed that Colombian star James Rodriguez has departed the club to sign for Qatar outfit Al Rayyan.

    Signed from Real Madrid in the summer of 2020, Rodriguez was a clear statement of intent from the blue side of Merseyside. Joining up with former managerial favourite Carlo Ancelotti on Merseyside, who managed him in Spain, Rodriguez hit the ground running.

    The creator hit three goals and three assists in his first six games for the club, helping Everton into an early lead of the Premier League table, and was for all the world looking like a brilliant addition to the Toffees side.

    However, it all began to unravel, with James recording just a further 3 goals and 1 assist in the remainder of the 38 game season. By the end, the Colombian had dropped out of Ancelotti’s plans completely, and upon the arrival of Rafa Benitez after Ancelotti rejoined Madrid, was frozen out.

    With speculation rife all summer about his next destination, no move across Europe was forthcoming, leaving a move to Asia or to the MLS as the only two viable options for the 29-year-old.

    And it was the former that Rodriguez has opted for, joining Al Rayyan for an undisclosed fee.

    Who are Al Rayyan?

    With the World Cup of 2022 set to be played in Qatar, the domestic competition could be thrust into the limelight in the next few seasons.

    Al Rayyan are currently managed by ex France international Laurent Blanc, and have taken 2 points from their opening 2 games in the Qatar Stars League. Rodriguez will link up with one time Everton transfer target Yacine Brahimi, and becomes the second high-profile player to depart England for Qatar this summer, following the sale of Toby Alderweireld.

    Will Rodriguez see out his career in the middle east, or is this simply a stop gap until a return next summer?

    Read more:

    FIFA 22 Ultimate Team: Best budget Premier League centre-backs, left-backs & right-backs

    ‘I am not the first and I won’t be the last player who will experience that.’ AC Milan’s Mike Maignan speaks out against racism abuse in Juventus clash

    Mike Maignan speaks candidly about racist abuse suffered against Juventus on Sunday

    Maignan opens the lid on racism in football

    AC Milan keeper Mike Maignan is the latest Black footballer to suffer targeted racial abuse during a match when I Rossoneri paid a visit to Juventus at the Allianz Stadium on Sunday.

    Rather than try to do his words justice, maybe it is better if you hear it from the man himself;

    Sunday night, at the Allianz Stadium, some Juventus fans threw racist insults and chants around me. What do you want me to say? Do you want me to say that racism is bad and that these fans are stupid? It’s not about that.

    I am not the first and I won’t be the last player who will experience that. As long as we will look at what happened as ‘isolated incidents,’ history will repeat itself again, and again, and again.

    What do we do to fight racism in the football stadium? Do we really believe it is effective? I am in a Club that strives to be a leader in opposing every type of discrimination. But we need to do more and all united in this battle against a societal issue bigger than football itself.

    Do the people who take decisions know what it feels to hear insults that portray us as animals? Do they know what it does to our family, to our relatives who just can’t understand why these things keep happening in 2021?

    I am not a ‘victim’ of racism. I am Mike, standing up, black and proud. As long as we will be able to raise our voice and make a difference, we’ll do it.” [quotes via Juvefc.com]

    The hard truth about racism and discrimination

    Racism and discrimination of any kind – against any group – is very easy to understand; it is rooted in ignorance. An unwillingness to understand. A willingness to make assumptions and believe nothing more than stereotypical rumors or beliefs about a particular race, creed, or any group without doing your due diligence to educate yourself.

    As a Black man who has experienced racist abuse in many walks of life – be it in school, in football, in my career, or in various social situations – the prevailing understanding on the receiving end is that those who will easily abuse either deny the very existence of racism, or, assume it is easy to move past. It isn’t.

    Though Mike Maignan is correct in his sentiments that it is vital that people stand up to it while remaining proud of their respective heritages, the reality is a hard pill to swallow; that it likely will never change.

    Racist rhetoric and feelings of prejudice and discrimination are rooted in hundreds of years of ideologies that has never been appropriately addressed. The institutions that continue to label incidents as isolated – as Maignan mentions – only serve to perpetrate the issues.

    ‘I am not the first and I won’t be the last player who will experience that.’ AC Milan’s Mike Maignan speaks out against racism abuse in Juventus clash

    BUDAPEST, HUNGARY – SEPTEMBER 02: Declan Rice of England drinks from a cup that was thrown at Raheem Sterling after scoring their first goal during the 2022 FIFA World Cup Qualifier match between Hungary and England at Stadium Puskas Ferenc on September 02, 2021 in Budapest, Hungary. (Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)

    The abuse suffered by England trio Marcus Rashford, Bukayo Saka, and Jadon Sancho is just but one example. Hungarian fans vocally attacking Raheem Sterling and Jude Bellingham is another.

    Then there is Glen Kamara, who was abused by Ondrej Kudela on the pitch, or the countless examples in years past cited by Samuel Eto’o, Didier Drogba, Sully Muntari, and others.

    While things can change…and must change…it is hard to see just when, how, and where change will originate from. Until that is known, it is likely these incidents will keep continuing until football federations care enough to crack down in the harshest manner possible.

    Jorge Sampoali outlines what Arsenal are missing this season with William Saliba report

    Saliba’s questionable time at Arsenal

    William Saliba, a 27 million pound signing in 2019 from French side Saint-Etienne, is yet to play a minute of senior football for Arsenal. In perhaps one of the oddest transfer stories, the man once hailed “one of the most promising young centre backs in France” has spent the last three seasons on loan in Ligue 1, with three different clubs.

    Following stints with Saint Etienne and OGC Nice, the defender has since joined Marseilles for the 2021-22 season, and has been quick to impress. In their opening five games, he has helped limit the goals conceded to just 5, which has resulted in his side reaching second place in the table at the early stages.

    Still only 20 years old, he is very much learning his trade, but with the addition of Ben White to Mikel Arteta’s squad, fans are questioning where the youngster fits into the North London clubs’ plans.

    Sampaoli full of praise for Saliba

    One major winner of the whole situation, however, are Marseilles. Saliba has become a massive part of new coach Jorge Sampoali’s defensive group, stationed on the right-hand side of a back three.

    And, speaking ahead of their tie against Angers, who have also had a fantastic start to the season, the Marseilles boss was quick to heap praise on his loanee, saying:

    “He’s a top player at his post. We had the chance to bring him on loan, it was not easy.

    He is good at marking but he has a good recovery too. It’s a great future. of French football, he is very good at the recovery. He has adapted well to the defense at 3, and his performance is also linked to the team which likes to start from behind. “

    [Quotes taken from RMC Sport via Sports Witness]

    With two years left on his contract at the end of this season, could Arsenal rue the treatment of Saliba, or could he prove a fantastic addition to their side next season, with another full campaign under his belt?

    Read more:

    Juventus preparing swap offer for Arsenal’s Granit Xhaka

    Arsenal fans think they’ve worked out who club’s new vice-captain is and they’re not happy

    FIFA 22 Ultimate Team: Best budget Premier League centre-backs, left-backs & right-backs

    FIFA 22 Ultimate Team

    FIFA 22 is now finally here! The game is available to play on a 10- hour trial via EA access from the 22nd of September.

    Those who have pre-ordered the Ultimate Edition of the game can then start playing the full game from the 27th of September, whilst the full game is out for those who buy the standard edition from the 1st of October.

    One of the biggest selling points of the FIFA franchise is, of course, Ultimate Team. This is a game mode within FIFA that allows players to create their ultimate team, hence the name, through buying players on the transfer market within the game, earning them through objectives or buying packs with either FIFA points or in-game coins.

    Best budget Premier League players on FIFA Ultimate Team

    The key to having a successful Ultimate Team throughout the game cycle generally starts with an effective budget team.

    The Premier League is one of the most popular leagues to build your starter team with, due to the number of quality players across the division.

    And now, ahead of the full launch of FIFA 22, 101 have put together a series of articles to inform you of the best budget Premier League players on FIFA 22 Ultimate Team.

    FIFA 22 Ultimate Team: Best budget Premier League strikers

    FIFA 22 Ultimate Team: Best budget Premier League wingers

    FIFA 22 Ultimate Team: Best budget Premier League midfielders

    Best budget Premier League centre-backs & full-backs

    This article will highlight the best cheap Premier League centre-backs and full-backs on Ultimate Team this year.

    Left-backs

    Junior Firpo, Leeds (78 rated)

    Junior Firpo should be one of the better budget left-back options this year if you cannot afford the likes of Kieran Tierney and Sergio Reguilon.

    Firpo has all of his passing, dribbling, defending and physical stats in the 70s, with 80 stamina also solid.

    The only drawback with Firpo is that his 81 pace is not the best. But this can be improved upon with a chemistry style.

    James Justin, Leicester (77 rated)

    James Justin’s base card is a left-wing-back, but it should only cost around 200 coins to convert him to a left-back.

    And, like Firpo, Justin has a decently well-rounded card, with one more pace than the Spaniard. He also has a four-star weak foot and is fairly tall for a left-back at 6ft.

    Maxwel Cornet, Burnley (75 rated)

    The final budget left-back you may wish to sign is Maxwel Cornet of Burnley.

    The Ivorian is the fastest of the three left-backs on this pitch with a very respectable 86 pace.

    However, Cornet’s main drawback is his 67 defending, though this can be improved upon with the sentinel chemistry style.

    Right-backs

    Nelson Semedo, Wolves (80 rated)

    Nelson Semedo, whose base card is a RWB but can be converted to a RB for cheap, is a very well-rounded card for such a low-rated player.

    75 defending should be fine for an early game full-back and he will be helped out by his impressive stamina and jumping.

    Semedo is also a capable dribbler and has decent short passing and crossing.

    Ryan Fredricks, West Ham (76 rated)

    Ryan Fredricks’ defending and physical attributes are lower than Semedo’s.

    However, what makes Fredrick an attractive option is his 91 pace, which should allow him to keep up with most forwards early in the game cycle.

    Centre-backs

    Caglar Soyuncu, Leicester (80 rated)

    The main plus points of signing Caglar Soyuncu is his 76 place and his 84 standing tackle, which is one of the most important stats for a centre-back.

    He is also fairly strong and aggressive and has acceptable shorting passing at 76.

    Soyuncu has a four-star weak foot, which will help when playing out from the back. He does only have a medium defensive work rate though, which is not ideal.

    Davinson Sanchez, Tottenham (79 rated)

    Davinson Sanchez is a very similar card to Soyuncu and the pair would likely make a decent centre-back duo early game.

    Where the pair differ, however, is that Sanchez’s weak foot is much worse at two stars, though he does have a high defensive work rate.

    The Colombian’s standing tackle is also slightly worse at 80, but his overall defensive stats are solid so that should not be too much of an issue.

    Davinson Sanchez

    LONDON, ENGLAND – MARCH 02: Davinson Sanchez of Tottenham Hotspur battles for possession with Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang of Arsenal during the Premier League match between Tottenham Hotspur and Arsenal FC at Wembley Stadium on March 02, 2019 in London, United Kingdom. (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)

    Nathan Ake, Manchester City (78 rated)

    If you are a player who likes to have one right-footed and one left-footed centre-back in your side, then Nathan Ake is likely to be your best left-footed option.

    The Dutchman’s 76 pace, 81 standing tackle and medium/high work rates make him a good option early on.

    The main issue with Ake, though, is his physicals, with his strength only 76 and aggression only 72.

    Wesley Fofana, Leicester City (78 rated)

    Wesley Fofana is the only non-rare centre-back on this list. So, in theory, he should also be the cheapest.

    Fofana has a fairly similar card to Ake, though he does have slightly better physicals and is a bit taller at 6ft 3.

    One thing to be aware of when looking at Fofana is his medium defensive work rate.

    Ezri Konsa, Aston Villa (78 rated)

    Ezri Konsa is the fastest centre-back on this list with 73 acceleration and 81 sprint speed. So, if you are all about pace, he is probably your man.

    However, if you do opt for Konsa, you will be gaining pace but also sacrificing some defensive/physical abilities as he only has 77 strength and 77 stand tackle.

    FIFA 22 Ultimate Team: Best budget Premier League midfielders

    FIFA 22 Ultimate Team

    FIFA 22 is now finally here! The game is available to play on a 10- hour trial via EA access from the 22nd of September.

    Those who have pre-ordered the Ultimate Edition of the game can then start playing the full game from the 27th of September, whilst the full game is out for those who buy the standard edition from the 1st of October.

    One of the biggest selling points of the FIFA franchise is, of course, Ultimate Team. This is a game mode within FIFA that allows players to create their ultimate team, hence the name, through buying players on the transfer market within the game, earning them through objectives or buying packs with either FIFA points or in-game coins.

    Best budget Premier League players on FIFA Ultimate Team

    The key to having a successful Ultimate Team throughout the game cycle generally starts with an effective budget team.

    The Premier League is one of the most popular leagues to build your starter team with, due to the number of quality players across the division.

    And now, ahead of the full launch of FIFA 22, 101 have put together a series of articles to inform you of the best budget Premier League players on FIFA 22 Ultimate Team.

    FIFA 22 Ultimate Team: Best budget Premier League strikers

    FIFA 22 Ultimate Team: Best budget Premier League wingers

    Best budget Premier League midfielders

    This article will highlight the best cheap Premier League midfielders on Ultimate Team this year.

    Central attacking midfielders

    James Maddison, Leicester (82 rated)

    On paper, James Maddison looks to be the best budget central attacking midfielder in the Premier League this year.

    The Englishman has a four-star weak foot and four-star skill moves. Maddison has excellent passing and dribbling, both 84 overall, whilst this 83 shot power and 80 long shots should make him a decent goal-scoring threat when given the chance.

    75 overall place is also fine for a CAM, providing you are not using him in a 4-2-2-2.

    FIFA 22 Ultimate Team: Best budget Premier League midfielders

    MANCHESTER, ENGLAND – SEPTEMBER 14: James Maddison of Leicester City during the Premier League match between Manchester United and Leicester City at Old Trafford on September 14, 2019 in Manchester, United Kingdom. (Photo by Robbie Jay Barratt – AMA/Getty Images)

    Martin Odegaard, Arsenal (82 rated)

    Martin Odegaard is a similar asset to Maddison when it comes to his passing and dribbling.

    Odegaard does, though, have more pace than Maddison at 77 with 80 acceleration. He also has five-star skill moves if that is something you are looking for.

    Where Odegaard falls down compared to Maddison, however, is that he only has a two-star weak foot and slightly worse shooting.

    Nikola Vlasic, West Ham (80 rated)

    If you are looking for a pacier CAM on Ultimate Team, then Nikola Vlasic is probably the best budget option.

    The West Ham man has an overall of 83 pace, making him a fair bit faster than the two players above.

    Vlasic also has a five-star weak foot, which, in our opinion, is a huge plus and much more important than five-star skill moves.

    Vlasic, though, is slightly worse in the passing and dribbling department than Odegaard and Maddison.

    Central midfielders & defensive midfielders

    Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg, Tottenham (83 rated)

    Despite being 83 rated, Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg should be fairly cheap on FIFA 22 Ultimate Team.

    The main reason for this is that he only has 60 pace. However, if you play him in a 4-1-2-1-2 and tell him to stay back while attacking, his pace should not be that much of an issue.

    As for the rest of his card, he is most certainly the best CDM on this list with 81 defending, 82 physical and some nice passing stats – including 83 short passing.

    Donny van de Beek, Manchester United (81 rated)

    Donny van de Beek probably doesn’t have the best stats to be used as a defensive midfielder. However, he should be perfect as a box-to-box midfielder in formations like 4-1-2-1-2 and 4-3-3.

    All of the Dutchman’s stats are in the 70s apart from his pace which is 68. He is also 6ft and has high/medium work rates.

    He also has decent stamina at 83, which is crucial for central midfielders.

    FIFA 22 Ultimate Team: Best budget Premier League midfielders

    MANCHESTER, ENGLAND – NOVEMBER 24: Donny Van De Beek of Manchester United reacts during the UEFA Champions League Group H stage match between Manchester United and İstanbul Basaksehir at Old Trafford on November 24, 2020 in Manchester, England. Sporting stadiums around the UK remain under strict restrictions due to the Coronavirus Pandemic as Government social distancing laws prohibit fans inside venues resulting in games being played behind closed doors. (Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)

    Abdoulaye Doucoure, Everton (79 rated)

    Abdoulaye Doucoure is one of the most well-rounded cheap midfield cards of FIFA 22.

    The Frenchman’s stats are all in the 70s, apart from his physical which is 81.

    And with a high/high work rate, Doucoure could be used effectively as both a CM or CDM.

    Jean-Philippe Gbamin, Everton (77 rated)

    If Doucoure is out of your price range, then Jean-Philippe Gbamin is likely your next best option. 73 pace, 73 passing, 73 dribbling, 77 defending and 77 physical and medium/medium work rates suggest that the Ivorian will be a very solid CM for the early weeks of the game.

    His main drawback, though, is his 57 shooting, which is pretty dire even for an early-game card.

    Ozan Tufan, Watford (76 rated)

    Whilst Gbamin offers you a solid defensive-minded midfield option, Tufan is slightly more attack-minded.

    All of the Watford man’s stats are in the 70s, apart from his physical which is 82.

    However, Tufan’s defensive capabilities are not that great, with just 70 defensive awareness and 70 standing tackle.

    Enock Mwepu, Brighton (75 rated)

    The final budget midfielder you may wish to sign is Enock Mwepu.

    Like Tufan, Mwepu is lacking in the defensive department somewhat due to his 70 defensive awareness and 74 standing tackle.

    The big plus point of the Brighton man, however, is his 82 pace, which is excellent for a CM/CDM.

    Southampton dealt major Jack Stephens blow ahead of Wolves

    Southampton see off Sheffield United

    Southampton and Sheffield United went head-to-head in a 3rd round League Cup tie on Tuesday.

    The tie was level at 2-2 following the 90 minutes, after Sheffield United goals from Enda Stevens and Oli McBurnie cancelled out strikes from Ibrahima Diallo and Mohammed Salisu.

    As a result, the game would go straight to penalties, where Southampton would emerge as 4-2 victors.

    Southampton must now turn their attention to the Premier League, where they will face off with Wolves this weekend.

    Ralph Hasenhuttl’s side are yet to pick up a single win in the league this term, though they have drawn four in five, with their latest point coming against champions, Manchester City.

    As a result, they are likely confident of getting something from the game against Bruno Lage’s men.

    Jack Stephens blow

    One player who will not be taking part in the game vs Wolves, or any of Southampton’s clashes for a while, is Jack Stephens.

    The defender had been a regular feature for the south coast outfit so far this term. However, he was forced off after just 37 minutes during the aforementioned clash with Man City last weekend:

    And now, Ralph Hasenhuttl has confirmed that Stephens will be out for around 10-12 weeks, a big blow for Southampton:

    “We have now with Jack Stephens a player who is long out, 10 to 12 weeks maybe, so we need every centre-back.

    “A long-term injury is always a blow to us. The tendon on the knee is disrupted, so it’s a tendon injury. It takes, I don’t know how long, but it will take time.”

    Quotes via Southampton’s official website.

    Read more:

    Manchester United vs West Ham United live streaming: Watch Carabao Cup online

    Chelsea vs Aston Villa live streaming: Watch Carabao Cup online

     

    The latest on Leeds duo Patrick Bamford & Luke Ayling

    Leeds edge past Fulham

    Leeds United were in League Cup action on Tuesday evening.

    The Whites would face off with Championship outfit Fulham in a 3rd round tie.

    The game itself was pretty dull, with neither outfit able to find a winner inside 90 minutes.

    As a result, the clash would go straight to penalties, with Leeds coming out on top after Rodrigo Muniz missed the deciding penalty for Fulham.

    Bamford & Ayling latest

    Before the game, Leeds would provide a rather concerning injury update.

    The Peacocks confirmed on Tuesday afternoon that both Patrick Bamford and Luke Ayling would miss the Fulham game due to injuries picked up in the 1-1 draw with Newcastle United last Friday:

    Bamford is of course one of Leeds’ standout stars and one of their only decent options at centre-forward.

    Luke Ayling, meanwhile, has been Leeds’ main right-back for some time now and was forced to fill in at centre-back vs Newcastle due to the Yorkshire outfit’s centre-back woes, which have seen Marcos Llorente and Robin Koch sidelined with injury and Pascal Struijk suspended.

    So, losing Ayling as well would of course be a big blow for their clash with West Ham this weekend. However, when quizzed on the pair post-Fulham, Marcelo Bielsa did not give much away.

    When asked how Patrick Bamford and Luke Ayling are, the Argentine stated:

    “Bamford has an injury in his ankle and Ayling in his knee.”

    Then, when asked if he is hopeful that neither injury is serious, Bielsa stated:

    “It’s subject to the evolution that they have.”

    Quotes via Leeds Live.

    Read more:

    Manchester United vs West Ham United live streaming: Watch Carabao Cup online

    Chelsea vs Aston Villa live streaming: Watch Carabao Cup online

     

    FIFA 22 Early Access: What time is it out and how can I play it?

    When is FIFA 22 out?

    FIFA 22 is now finally here! The game is available to play on a 10- hour trial via EA access from the 22nd of September.

    Those who have pre-ordered the Ultimate Edition of the game can then start playing the full game from the 27th of September, whilst the full game is out for those who buy the standard edition from the 1st of October.

    What time is FIFA 22’s EA Access out?

    Though it is now September 22nd, FIFA 22’s early access is not out just yet, but do not worry, it will be released later today.

    As reported elsewhere, the EA Help Twitter account has already confirmed the FIFA 22 EA Play early access trial starts at 10:00 PT, 13:00 ET, and 18:00 BST.

    How do I get EA Play?

    The FIFA 22 early access trial is available through EA Play, but how do you get it?
    You can subscribe to EA Play on Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S, PS4 and PS5 and will have access to a 10-hour trial when it is released later today.

    Those who already own an Xbox Game Pass Ultimate will also already have access to EA Play without having to purchase a separate subscription.

    But for those who do not have access to this, a regular EA Play subscription costs £3.99 per month, or £19.99 annually.

    Web App & TOTW

    The FIFA 22 Web App and first Team of the Week for FIFA 22 are also expected to go live today as well. No official time has been provided for the Web App yet, whilst TOTW is generally released at 18:00 BST.

    For more information on FIFA 22 Ultimate Team and the best budget Premier League players, check the links below:

    FIFA 22 Ultimate Team: Best budget Premier League strikers

    FIFA 22 Ultimate Team: Best budget Premier League wingers