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Early goal sinks Brentford as Leicester advance to FA Cup fifth round



Soccer Football - FA Cup Fourth Round - Brentford v Leicester City - Griffin Park, Brentford, Britain - January 25, 2020 Leicester City's Kelechi Iheanacho celebrates scoring their first goal with teammate Demarai Gray REUTERS/Dylan Martinez
Soccer Football – FA Cup Fourth Round – Brentford v Leicester City – Griffin Park, Brentford, Britain – January 25, 2020 Leicester City’s Kelechi Iheanacho celebrates scoring their first goal with teammate Demarai Gray REUTERS/Dylan Martinez

A much-changed Leicester side progressed into the fifth round of the FA Cup thanks to an early strike by Kelechi Iheanacho at Brentford.

Brendan Rodgers called upon the former Manchester City striker with Jamie Vardy injured and he delivered to keep them on course for silverware in two competitions this season.

Next up for the Foxes is a Carabao Cup semi-final second leg against Aston Villa and they go into it after this 1-0 win where most of their regulars were rested.

Thomas Frank also made various changes with Brentford in Championship action against play-off rivals Nottingham Forest on Tuesday and saw his young XI struggle early on before pushing the Premier League outfit all the way.

In total 18 changes were made by both clubs – nine each – but it did not dampen the spirits of the home fans, who belted out a rendition of Hey Jude by the Beatles prior to kick-off.

Vardy was absent with a glute injury so Iheanacho replaced him up front and he put Ayoze Perez through on goal inside 20 seconds, but a superb clearance from Luka Racic stopped a certain opener with Luke Daniels rounded by Leicester’s number 17.

This was brief respite for Brentford because in the fourth minute the breakthrough occurred following a slick move.

Dennis Praet was afforded too much space in midfield and produced an exquisite crossfield ball across the floor out to James Justin and he crossed in for Iheanacho to open the scoring with his seventh goal of the season.

It could have been two for Vardy’s deputy with quarter of an hour gone, but Daniels was able to block well before Brentford created an opportunity of their own a minute later.

Jan Zamburek found Emiliano Marcondes inside the area and yet the hero of the third-round win over Stoke could only fire into the side-netting.

Brentford were boosted by the chance and produced another excellent move in the 20th minute with Dru Yearwood involved, but Halil Dervisouglu curled wide after some neat footwork and the promising opening had been wasted.

Frank’s young side, with six players aged 20 or below, stuck to their principles of playing out from the back although they were reminded of Leicester’s threat when Perez was brilliantly denied by Daniels just before half-time and Marc Albrighton headed the rebound over.

One of Brentford’s regulars, Kamohelo Mokotjo, was forced off with an injury at the break and replaced by fellow usual starter Josh Dasilva.

It was the fringe players who very nearly fashioned the equaliser with 62 on the clock, but the woodwork saved Leicester.

Marcondes whipped in a delightful cross, which Dervisouglu got the faintest of touches to and yet he saw his effort hit the post and Christian Fuchs managed to clear the danger at the back post.

The substitution of Iheanacho with 22 minutes left at Griffin Park further highlighted the Foxes priority this week being the Carabao Cup semi-final second leg away to Aston Villa on Tuesday.

Midfielder Kiernan Dewsbury-Hall was introduced in his place, with Rodgers eager for his side to see out the final exchanges with no last gasp scares.

He did not get his wish with Marcondes’ corner finding Racic and the defender volleying towards goal, but fortunately for the visitors Danny Ward produced a strong hand to tip the effort over.

Frank’s final roll of the dice was to bring on 11-goal man Bryan Mbeumo and he did find the net, but he was correctly ruled to be offside and Griffin Park bid farewell to the FA Cup after a 1-0 loss to Leicester, with Brentford set to move into their new stadium in the summer.

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Freddie Ljungberg accuses Arsenal players of being ‘scared’



Arsenal’s interim manager Freddie Ljungberg (Adam Davy/PA)
Arsenal’s interim manager Freddie Ljungberg (Adam Davy/PA)

Freddie Ljungberg accused his Arsenal players of being “scared” as defeat at home to Brighton condemned the Gunners to their worst run of form in over 42 years.

A 2-1 reverse at the Emirates Stadium means Arsenal have gone nine games without a win, a streak not matched since 1977.

Neal Maupay’s late header sealed a deserved victory for the Seagulls, who had led through Adam Webster’s first-half effort as Alexandre Lacazette temporarily levelled for the beleaguered hosts.

Ljungberg replaced Unai Emery on an interim basis after the Spaniard was sacked last week, but has so far been unable to address an alarming slide in form.

Arsenal have not won since October 24 and Ljungberg admits confidence is rock bottom as he looks to turn things around heading into the packed Christmas schedule.

“They look very short on confidence,” he said.

“In the first half they were scared to get the ball and a bit scored to move, they were just standing still.

“That’s something we need to talk about. They need to have a win, we need to dig out a win and get them some confidence.

“They can do it because they showed it in the beginning of the second half and they did it really well for 20 minutes.

Thursday nights at Arsenal are great
Graham Potter

“It’s hard to say that when you lose at home, but they were very good in that little spell.”

For Brighton, this was a first-ever victory away to Arsenal and a maiden win on the road against an established “top six” opponent.

It also meant boss Graham Potter was able to repeat his Europa League triumph over the same opposition at the Emirates with Swedish minnows Ostersunds in February last year.

“Thursday nights at Arsenal are great!” smiled Potter.

“Hopefully the Premier League will arrange more games on a Thursday.”

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Arsenal’s Granit Xhaka (centre) battles for the ball with Brighton and Hove Albion’s Aaron Mooy (left) and Leandro Trossard (Adam Davy/PA)

Brighton’s second away win of the season lifted them above Aston Villa, West Ham and Bournemouth into 13th.

Potter added: “We showed great quality and great courage, so overall I’m delighted with the players. It’s fantastic to get three points and play like we did.

“Given the quality up front they have, everything can change, but credit to the players, they managed the situation well, and there was a bit of quality from us as well.

“We’ve had a tough batch of games so it’s nice to come away from home, win, and play well. It gives us a bit more confidence on the path to going somewhere.”

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Pep Guardiola believes it is ‘crazy’ for Manchester City to think about title



Pep Guardiola was pleased with Manchester City’s win at Burnley but is not thinking about the title (Martin Rickett/PA)
Pep Guardiola was pleased with Manchester City’s win at Burnley but is not thinking about the title (Martin Rickett/PA)

Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola claims it is crazy to think about the title after allowing Liverpool to open up a big lead in the Premier League.

The champions beat Burnley 4-1 on Tuesday to move back up to second place in the table but they remain eight points behind the Reds, who have a game in hand.

Guardiola, speaking sarcastically at first, said: “The title is over. From what I read nobody gives us a chance. It’s done.

“I don’t believe it, but it is not about whether I believe it or I don’t believe it. It is about the next game.

“Our team is stable and that’s what we want. For the distance we have against Liverpool it would be crazy to think about the title, honestly.

“We have to think about the (Manchester) derby (on Saturday), game by game. There are other competitions – the FA Cup, Carabao Cup and Champions League. It is important to take this rhythm for the next games.”

Gabriel Jesus, starting in the absence of the injured Sergio Aguero, ended a run of eight games without scoring by netting City’s first two goals in impressive fashion.

Rodri, producing his best performance for City, struck a thunderous third and Riyad Mahrez also scored before Robbie Brady grabbed a consolation.

Guardiola said: “It was a good result, thanks to our performance. We played really well. We are so satisfied with the way we played and the way we’ve played the last games.”

Asked about Jesus’ performance, Guardiola said: “We’ve lost an incredible striker in Sergio so we need him, he needed to score these two goals. These goals will help him and the team. He scored two incredible goals.”

There was a moment of humour in the post-match press conference when Guardiola slapped his head after referring to City as his former club Bayern Munich when asked about the quality of Rodri.

He said: “It was outstanding the way he played, not just with the ball. He was so clever moving right to left. That’s why the reception for the players up front was easier and quicker.

“He was in the right moment for the transitions. Always he helped us. He’s adjusted and he’s perfect for this league.

“I think Bayern Munich – Bayern Munich! I don’t know what I said! – I think Man City bought an incredible player for the next years.”

Burnley manager Sean Dyche conceded his side were outplayed.

Dyche said: “In the first half we tried to keep it tight, we know it’s difficult if you open up against these sort of sides.

“They scored a worldy to get their noses in front and then in the second half we didn’t turn up at all. We didn’t lay a glove on them physically. We didn’t keep the ball and they did.

“They’ve been getting a lot of question marks but when they turn up they really do. They were by far the better side.”

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