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Leicester City FC

Leicester City FC

Leicester became the first team in English football to score a goal via a VAR decision as they overcame Fleetwood 2-0 in their FA Cup replay.

Kelechi Iheanacho scored in each half but it was his strike 13 minutes from time that required the intervention of the video assistant referee.

Referee Jonathan Moss asked to check if the striker was offside before finishing off Riyah Mehrez’s lovely reverse pass.

Replays showed Iheanacho was onside when the ball was played and the goal stood to see Leicester progress to a fourth-round tie away at Peterborough.

The Foxes made eight changes to the side that started the goalless Premier League draw at Chelsea on Saturday, although Mahrez was retained by manager Claude Puel.

Fleetwood boss Uwe Rosler surprisingly decided to rest leading scorer Devante Cole, with the 12-goal forward only among the substitutes.

As expected, Leicester dominated possession but their passing often lacked the tempo to trouble a well-organised Fleetwood team who were largely able to keep their opponents at arm’s length.

It took until the midway point of the first half for a shot on target but it came from the League One team. Eldin Jakupovic smothered a tame effort from Conor McAleny, who then brought a fine save from the Leicester goalkeeper with a curling effort from the edge of the area.

Mahrez clipped the outside of a post with a free kick but it was Fleetwood who were looking the most likely to score and Jakupovic was worked again after 37 minutes, getting fingertips on the ball to help a Kyle Dempsey shot over the crossbar.

It was a surprise when Leicester went ahead two minutes before half-time and the goal came from nothing. Christian Fuchs knocked a long pass down the line and the ball broke to Islam Slimani who played in Iheanacho.

A lovely first touch enabled him to run through one-on-one with Chris Neal and he coolly slid his finish beneath the advancing goalkeeper.

It was not only Leicester’s first shot on target of the evening, but the Premier League club’s first of the entire tie including the goalless draw at Highbury 10 days ago.

Slimani might have extended the lead at the start of the second half but he snatched at his chance and put the ball wide.

Iheanacho twice had the ball in the net during the second half. His first effort was rightly ruled out but on the second occasion after 77 minutes — when the flag again went up, Moss consulted with the video assistant referee — it was 2-0 to Leicester.

Jamie Vardy came on as a substitute against his former club with 10 minutes remaining, bringing applause from both sets of supporters as Leicester comfortably saw out the tie.

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Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang

Borussia Dortmund have suspended and plan to fine striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang for disciplinary reasons after the club’s 0-0 home draw with Wolfsburg on Sunday, sporting director Michael Zorc confirmed.

Aubameyang, 28, has scored 13 goals in 15 Bundesliga appearances this season, but was absent when the teams were announced for their home game against Wolfsburg on Sunday as the German league restarted after the winter break.

Dortmund tweeted the news but did not explain what had happened initially, though Bild reported that he had missed a team briefing after Saturday’s training session.

However, coach Peter Stoger confirmed the report, saying: “It was an important meeting. If he does not want to be part of that, another player will be get his chance. He briefly said that he forgot it, but we all know that’s not the case.”

And Zorc further explained the decision to omit Aubameyang to ESPN FC after the match.

“Yesterday, after the team training, the team had a joint meal and afterwards an important team briefing that did not only concern today’s match but also more general aspects, like our common goals and a code of conduct — and he failed to appear.”

Zorc added: “We held very intense talks with him today and ultimately suspended him. Obviously, also monetary sanctions will ensue. Tomorrow, the coach will welcome him back in training.”

Asked, whether Aubameyang may have taken a page out of Ousmane Dembele’s book, who successfully forced a move to Barcelona by staying away from team training, Zorc replied: “I don’t know about that, I rather stick to facts than surmising. Though I have to view this in a different context now, as it is not the first misdemeanour of this sort.”

Aubameyang was also temporarily suspended in November, with Zorc revealing that punctuality problems had led to the action. Bild reported that the striker had been repeatedly late for training, including turning up 20 minutes late for final preparations ahead of the trip to Stuttgart. The striker was also suspended in November 2016 when he missed a 1-0 win over Sporting Lisbon in the Champions League for an unapproved trip to Milan against then-coach Thomas Tuchel’s wishes.

“Currently, I don’t know what is going through his mind,” Zorc said: “I do not recognise him anymore, I have to frankly say. Over the years, he was always an extroverted guy but also always served as a prime example for professionalism. He has always worked disciplined and professionally but I cannot detect that at the moment.

“[Aubameyang's] explanation that he had forgotten the team meeting does not count in my eyes. Again, it’s not always easy for us to deal with that. After all, he has a hand in about 50 percent of our goals but at some point certain behaviour is no longer tolerable.”

Dortmund goalkeeper Roman Burki described Aubameyang’s behaviour as “idiotic,” telling Sky after the match that he fully supports the club’s decision to suspend him.

Burki said: “The rules apply to every player regardless of how many goals he scores or prevents. The rules have to be followed and I think he knows that. [His suspension] was a logical decision.”

Asked, if the team would welcome Aubameyang back with open arms or rather with scepticism going forward, Burki responded: “Of course we would welcome him with open arms again. All this is not because of his performances in training. He always gives his best in training.

“We need him, that once again became evident today. It would be pitiful if he was to miss more games due to such idiotic behaviour.”

Aubameyang’s absence stung double on Sunday night, as Dortmund’s abject finishing kept them separated from all three points against Wolfsburg.

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Chelsea FC

Chelsea FC

Bayer Leverkusen youngster Leon Bailey, who was once briefly on the Chelsea radar as a teenager, continues to take the Bundesliga by storm. In only his second season at the club, the 20-year-old winger/wing-back has 6 goals and 4 assists in 14 league appearances.

His strong performances have naturally drawn the attention of several top European club, including Chelsea, and all the usual suspects promising young players get linked with regularly these days.

Since Leverkusen have done a good job of playing down any such possibility, Bailey has taken matters into his own hands to add a bit of fuel back onto the fire. Here he is with the tease, sure to make his agent and his future paycheck very happy.

“Of course I have a dream club, but I will not tell. Basically England was and still is my dream. And if I keep working hard, I’m sure it will work someday.”

-Leon Bailey; source: Bild

Although Leverkusen are ready to reject any low-ball approaches for Bailey, a move to the Premier League certainly could be on the horizon if he manages to keep up his form. Stay tuned.

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Arsenal FC

Arsenal FC

Wenger made nine changes at the City Ground and his fringe players went down 4-2 to the mid-table Championship side.

The Frenchman criticised his team after the holders relinquished their grip on the trophy, with Wenger experiencing defeat at the third-round stage for the first time since taking charge of the north London club in 1996.

Wenger insists the Gunners, who last week signed Greek defender Konstantinos Mavropanos, will do further business during the transfer window in an effort to turn things around, but said no deals were imminent.

Arsenal transfer news: Who is Konstantinos Mavropanos? Profile on Greek centre-back Wenger has signed

“I cannot give you any news on any transfer because we are not close to signing anybody,” he said.

“We signed a Greek boy (Mavropanos) who looks quite good in training but apart from that, we have not done anything. Will we be out there to do something? Yes we will.”

Asked whether there could be developments this week, Wenger said: “Yes, because we are in the second week of January and, after that, it passes quickly.”

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The 28-year-old reveals the Brazilian made him fall in love with football and also targets victory in Saturday’s El Gran Derbi

Sevilla and Betis slug it out for the first time this season in Saturday’s El Gran Derbi – the most hotly anticipated fixture of the year. And Real Betis’s Cristian Tello and Sevilla FC’s Sergio Escudero break down how much the game means to Goal.

Q: What were your thoughts when you used to watch #ElGranDerbi (the derby between Sevilla FC and Real Betis) on television?

ESCUDERO: Whenever I watched Sevilla face Betis on television, I was always bowled over by the wonderful atmosphere and the rivalry between two teams from the same city with vocal fan bases that always get behind their side. It’s one of the most fantastic derbies in world football.

TELLO: As current LaLiga Santander players in the top flight, we constantly think about the fact that we now get the opportunity to savour such atmospheres from the inside.

Q: How would you explain what Sevilla v Betis means to a foreigner?

ESCUDERO: It’s very difficult to explain the feeling that’s entrenched in the game, both at the club and among supporters… You have to be wearing one of the teams’ colours to be able to fully experience it.

TELLO: It’s a spectacular city derby because of the atmosphere and the rivalry between supporters, which is fantastic to see.

Q: If #ElGranDerbi were a film, what would it be?

ESCUDERO:  I think it would be Star Wars, the goodies against the baddies. Of course, that depends on your allegiances (laughter), but as far as we’re concerned, we’re the goodies and they’re the baddies, and it’s the other way round for them.

TELLO: I’d go for 2 Fast 2 Furious.

Q: What do you like the most about Seville?

ESCUDERO: Above all, the people, who’ve treated me so well since I arrived and have always given me everything.

TELLO: I agree. What I like the most is the people because of the way they follow their football and the passion with which they live their lives.

Q: Who is your idol?

ESCUDERO: As a youngster, I always looked up to Roberto Carlos, because of the position that he played in and the fact that he was such an attacking full-back.

TELLO: Since I was little, I’ve always really liked Fernando Torres because of his pace and movement. Now I’d go with [Lionel] Messi, who is undoubtedly the best player in the world.

Q: If you weren’t a footballer, what would you be?

ESCUDERO: If I weren’t a footballer, I’d have liked to have done something in sport. Maybe I’d be a coach or a PE teacher. It would certainly involve sport.

TELLO: I think I’d have also done something connected to sport. I’ve always really liked sport since I was little and if I hadn’t been lucky enough to become a footballer, I would’ve done something else in the same field.

Q: What’s your prediction for #ElGranDerbi?

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Manchester United brought an end to a run of three successive draws as goals from Anthony Martial and Jesse Lingard secured a 2-0 victory over Everton at Goodison Park.

In a bright start, home keeper Jordan Pickford was quickly out to claim as Lingard threatened, and with four minutes gone Everton’s former United star Wayne Rooney almost grabbed the limelight when his shot was blocked by Phil Jones and spun behind.

But the game soon entered a scrappy spell, with the ball zipping around a wet playing surface on a rainy night and neither side able to gain much control.

On the quarter of an hour mark, Paul Pogba set out to change that as he fired in a low cross that eluded the waiting Juan Mata before Martial blasted over from long range.

As the tempo picked up, Everton’s Tom Davies had a 25-yard strike deflected behind for a corner, and when the ball fell to Nikola Vlasic his shot was wayward.

With 24 minutes gone, United were grateful to Marcos Rojo for a superb sliding block to deny Oumar Niasse as the Everton forward tried to make something of a through pass by Vlasic.

Pickford stopped a Rojo header and then blocked from Martial after Luke Shaw and Pogba had created the opening.

With the rain increasing as the half drew towards a conclusion, Jesse Lingard shot wide after a purposeful run and, in the final moments of the half, Rooney was booked for fouling Martial as the United man tried to break.

United began the second half strongly and Pickford tipped over a dipping Mata strike before the midfielder came even closer after 50 minutes, bending an effort past the keeper but seeing it rebound off the post.

Shaw’s low cross was cut out well by Cuco Martina with Lingard waiting in the middle, and then Pogba sent an angled effort past the post as the visitors began to totally dominate.

And after 56 minutes they broke through as Martial struck, Mata and Pogba combining to set him up on the edge of the area and a superb curling finish from the edge of the box giving Pickford no chance for his ninth goal of the season.

Home boss Sam Allardyce made a double change shortly after the hour, taking off Yannick Bolasie and Rooney and replacing them with Aaron Lennon and James McCarthy.

But United’s dominance continued, Pogba jinking into the area to force Pickford into more action, and seconds later Martial’s raking cross from the left was a fraction too high for the onrushing Pogba.

With 20 minutes to go, however, Everton were within a whisker of levelling as Mason Holgate’s cross from the right was diverted narrowly wide by Niasse who, unmarked, should have hit the target.

Holgate’s pull-back then gave Tom Davies a difficult half-chance, with United scrambling it clear as Jose Mourinho’s side faced sustained pressure for the first time.

As the final 10 minutes approached, Mourinho took off Martial for Marcus Rashford, and within moments Rashford was involved in a move that ended with Pickford making a superb stop from Lingard.

And United wrapped up the points with nine minutes remaining as Pogba found Lingard and he shimmied away from a challenge to curl a brilliant finish past Pickford.

Dominic Calvert-Lewin replaced Niasse late on for Everton, who had Holgate booked for a foul on Lingard, with United later substituting him for Daley Blind as the game ticked into its final seconds, with Mata going off to be replaced by Axel Tuanzebe.

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Riyad Mahrez

Riyad Mahrez

A tired-looking Leicester City slumped to defeat against Watford after taking the lead against Watford thanks to a Riyad Mahrez header.

But who, if anyone, impressed on the defeat and who did not? Here are our ratings…

Kasper Schmeichel: Will feel disappointed to be beaten from such an acute angle. Rating 6/10

Aleksandar Dragovic: Made his Premier League debut at right back and found it tough. 5

Wes Morgan: As a collective City must improve their defending of set-pieces and the skipper must play his part. 6

Harry Maguire: Booked very early on and had to be careful. Can switch off at set-pieces. 6

Ben Chilwell: Caused Janmaat loads of problems in the first half with his marauding runs from full-back, but defensively had some wobbly moments. 6

Andy King: Did a composed, controlled job in midfield. 6

Wilfred Ndidi: Time and again he got his foot in to win the ball back. Combative. 6

Riyad Mahrez: Kept up his excellent scoring record at Vicarage Road. 6

Shinji Okazaki: Didn’t do a lot wrong. Had one header tipped over the bar early on. 6

Marc Albrighton: Didn’t deserve to be on the losing team. Was at the heart of everything positive about City. 7

Jamie Vardy: Had a great chance to opening the scoring but he was uncharacteristically off target. 6

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Henrikh Mkhitaryan

Henrikh Mkhitaryan

Broussia Dortmund would need to be ‘imaginative’ in order to bring Henrikh Mkhitaryan home, according to the club’s CEO Hans-Joachim Watzke.

The Armenia international joined Manchester United the summer before last but has struggled to cement a place in Jose Mourinho‘s strongest XI.

Mkhitaryan was dropped from eight of the last nine Premier League matchday squads before he made a late substitute appearance in Saturday’s frustrating 2-2 draw with Leicester City.

The playmaker is said to have fallen out with his manager and the pair were reportedly involved in a training ground bust-up after a video analysis session highlighted a defensive mistake Mourinho claimed the player had made during a match against Brighton at Old Trafford.

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Chelsea FC

Chelsea FC

That’s according to former Blues captain turned Sky Sports pundit John Terry.

Antonio Conte’s side have struggled in their title defence this season, losing four times already as they sit 14 points shy of City in third place.

Jose Mourinho’s Manchester United lie in second, three points ahead of Chelsea.

But Conte came out on top when the two sides met at Stamford Bridge last month and Terry insists that despite his old side’s disappointing first half of the season, they’re still superior to the majority of the league.

“I think if you look at it, pretty much Chelsea haven’t done too much wrong at all,” he explained on Monday Night Football.

“I know City have gone there and won, which they would have been disappointed with.

“But I think on the whole when you look at it, great squad of players, and probably bar Man City the best side in the league still.

“Manchester City have just raised the bar and I think everybody’s got to catch Man City now, that’s the only problem.

“They’ve got some great individual players, great going forward, great defensively, great midfield.

“I think bar City, that are setting the tone and tempo of the Premier League at the moment, they are the best squad of players in the Premier League.”

Chelsea bounced back from a shock defeat at West Ham with two consecutive wins last week, which will breed confidence as they approach a busy run of games.

They’ll hope to continue their impressive form when they host Bournemouth in the Carabao Cup tomorrow (7.45pm) before travelling to Everton in the Premier League on Saturday (12.30pm).

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Arsenal FC

Arsenal FC

Arsene Wenger believes Mesut Ozil is enjoying his best run of form in an Arsenal shirt ahead of a hectic festive period which will see his side face West Ham, Liverpool, Crystal Palace and West Brom.

Ozil, who is currently involved in a contract stand-off with the Gunners, scored a spectacular winner against Newcastle United on Saturday to help Arsenal to a tenth league win of the season.

The German superstar now has three goals and five assists for the campaign and Wenger insists he is in the form of his life ahead of Tuesday’s Carabao Cup clash with West Ham and Friday’s Premier League fixture against Liverpool.

Asked whether Ozil was enjoying his most consistent spell for the club, Wenger said: ‘Yes. Certainly, I think he takes responsibilities and that is what you want from him.

‘He is mature, he guides the team, they are aware he is on the ball a lot – always your heart rate goes down when he has the ball.

‘Not only his goal but I would say more important is the quality and the influence he has on the collective game.

‘You cannot score a goal like that every week, but you can play like he plays usually every week. So that is more important. If he adds that to his game then that is even more important.’

Ozil is yet to put pen to paper on a contract extension at the Emirates but Wenger remains confident that the 29-year-old, who has been linked with Manchester United and Barcelona, wants to stay put.

And the French boss refused to be drawn into whether Ozil staying was more or less important than a clarification over Alexis Sanchez’s future.