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Author Archive for BBC Sport - Football

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Romelu Lukaku: Striker says it is time to 'move on' from controversial chant

Manchester United striker Romelu Lukaku

Manchester United striker Romelu Lukaku says he wants the club’s fans to “move on” from their controversial chant about him.

Anti-discrimination group Kick It Out have described the lyrics, about the size of the 24-year-old’s penis, as “offensive and discriminatory”.

“Great backing since I joined #MUFC,” Lukaku was quoted as saying on United’s official Twitter account.

“Fans have meant well with their songs but let’s move on together.”

The tweet ends: “#RespectEachOther”.

“Racist stereotypes are never acceptable, irrespective of any intention to show support for a player,” said Kick It Out earlier this week.

United posted on social media ahead of Wednesday’s Carabao Cup win over Burton Albion – in which Belgium forward Lukaku was an unused substitute – that “action will be taken against any offensive behaviour”, reminding supporters of the club’s commitment to racial harmony.

Midway through the first half a chant was heard at Old Trafford about Lukaku but with fans having appeared to tweak the words.

Lukaku joined United for an initial £75m from Everton during the summer in a deal that could rise to £90m.

He has scored five Premier League goals in five games for his new club as well as finding the net in the 3-0 Champions League group win over Basel.

Lukaku also scored in the European Super Cup against Real Madrid last month.

‘Uncomfortable situation’

Analysis: Simon Stone, BBC Sport

All parties will hope Lukaku’s intervention will draw the curtain on a rather delicate and uncomfortable situation.

The song in question was heard again at Old Trafford on Wednesday, yet it seemed to be in defiance at being told not to do something rather than fans really believing it is a chant worth persevering with.

Some fans felt it was a major issue, others thought there was nothing wrong and the song was genuinely funny.

United wanted it stopped, yet wondered privately if there was any legal grounds on which to do so, which made their position difficult to say the least.

The brutal truth is, however distasteful, other offensive songs have been sung at Old Trafford in the past – by home and away supporters – without attracting anything like the same level of attention

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Women's Super League 2017-18: New calendar, new names and new goal alerts

While England are searching for a new manager for only the second time since 1998, the Women’s Super League is also about to embark upon a new era with the start of its first winter season.With a new calendar, new teams and new signings, the 2017-18 WS…

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Motherwell beat Aberdeen to reach semi-finals

Motherwell's Peter Hartley (right)

A buoyant Motherwell comfortably beat Aberdeen to secure their place in the League Cup semi-finals.

An inventive flick by Louis Moult was helped into the net by the usually reliable Aberdeen goalkeeper Joe Lewis.

Lewis was at fault again when he allowed Peter Hartley’s downward header to squeeze into the net.

Allan Campbell hit both posts for the hosts before Moult’s superbly finished ninth of the season wrapped up a memorable night for the home fans.

It was Motherwell’s fourth consecutive Fir Park win and they reach their first League Cup semi-final in seven years.

Young midfielder Campbell set the tone for this match in the opening minute, hassling and pressing Aberdeen into conceding an early throw-in.

Much has been made of the 19-year-old’s impressive, battling performances of late and his hounding was a hallmark of the hosts’ play for the rest of the game.

Aberdeen did have one early chance before Motherwell took over – Gary Mackay-Steven’s effort deflected wide by Chris Cadden after Ryan Christie’s shot had been pushed away by goalkeeper Trevor Carson.

Soon after, the Steelmen were ahead. Kenny McLean lost out to Carl McHugh in the middle of the park, and the Irishman released Ryan Bowman, who skilfully located Moult for the unorthodox flicked finish.

Moult had his back to goal when he put the ball over his own head and it might not have even been going goal-ward, but it shocked Lewis enough and the Englishman flapped it into his own net.

One goal became two quickly, with McLean conceding a free-kick out wide and Stevie Hammell curling in a lovely, deep delivery for Hartley to head in his first goal for the club. But Dons goalkeeper Lewis was at fault again – the downward header straight at him but somehow squirming through.

Motherwell's Louis Moult (second right) scores the third goal<!–

Cadden had been causing Mackay-Steven all sorts of problems as the Motherwell man attacked down the right and it caused Dons manager enough concern to make a first-half substitution and tactical switch, with Adam Rooney replacing the former Celtic man.

Cadden and Bowman went close to making it three before the break and McInnes sent his men out five minutes early for the second half.

The flow of chances continued to be in Motherwell’s favour as Moult had a shot blocked by Andy Considine then another beaten away by Lewis.

Rooney watched his half-chance be spurned and soon after a goal-line clearance was required from Aberdeen captain Graeme Shinnie from another Hartley effort.

A superb solo run by Christie forced a great save from Carson as the large away support sensed a revival, but then Motherwell hit the woodwork – twice – as Campbell’s nice volley hit one post, rolled along the line and then hit the other upright.

Motherwell did get their third, though, when Moult – high on confidence – capitalised on Considine switching off to latch onto a long ball and lash the ball home from a tight angle.

Line-ups

Motherwell

  • 1Carson
  • 2Tait
  • 21KipreBooked at 42mins
  • 6Hartley
  • 3HammellBooked at 59mins
  • 7CaddenBooked at 77mins
  • 8McHugh
  • 22Campbell
  • 15RoseSubstituted forGrimshawat 70′minutesBooked at 87mins
  • 12BowmanSubstituted forFisherat 87′minutesBooked at 90mins
  • 9MoultSubstituted forTannerat 90+2′minutes

Substitutes

  • 4Grimshaw
  • 5Bigirimana
  • 11Frear
  • 13Griffiths
  • 14Plummer
  • 17Fisher
  • 27Tanner

Aberdeen

  • 1Lewis
  • 2Logan
  • 5O’Connor
  • 6ReynoldsSubstituted forArnasonat 52′minutes
  • 4Considine
  • 18BallSubstituted forTanseyat 67′minutes
  • 22ChristieBooked at 88mins
  • 7McLean
  • 3Shinnie
  • 11Mackay-StevenSubstituted forRooneyat 37′minutes
  • 83May

Substitutes

  • 8Stewart
  • 9Rooney
  • 10Maynard
  • 14Arnason
  • 15Wright
  • 16Tansey
  • 20Rogers
Referee:
Kevin Clancy
Attendance:
6,430

Match Stats

Home TeamMotherwellAway TeamAberdeen
Possession
Home48%
Away52%
Shots
Home8
Away9
Shots on Target
Home5
Away3
Corners
Home5
Away4
Fouls
Home18
Away13

Live Text

Posted at

Match ends, Motherwell 3, Aberdeen 0.

Full Time

Posted at90’+3′

Second Half ends, Motherwell 3, Aberdeen 0.

Substitution

Posted at90’+2′

Substitution, Motherwell. Craig Tanner replaces Louis Moult.

Posted at90’+2′

Louis Moult (Motherwell) wins a free kick on the right wing.

Posted at90’+2′

Foul by Andrew Considine (Aberdeen).

Posted at90’+1′

Richard Tait (Motherwell) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

Posted at90’+1′

Foul by Ryan Christie (Aberdeen).

Booking

Posted at90′

Alex Fisher (Motherwell) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.

Posted at90′

Foul by Alex Fisher (Motherwell).

Posted at90′

Shaleum Logan (Aberdeen) wins a free kick on the left wing.

Booking

Posted at88′

Ryan Christie (Aberdeen) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.

Posted at88′

Richard Tait (Motherwell) wins a free kick on the left wing.

Posted at88′

Foul by Ryan Christie (Aberdeen).

Substitution

Posted at87′

Substitution, Motherwell. Alex Fisher replaces Ryan Bowman.

Posted at87′

Foul by Louis Moult (Motherwell).

Posted at87′

Graeme Shinnie (Aberdeen) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Booking

Posted at87′

Liam Grimshaw (Motherwell) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.

Goal!

Posted at85′

Goal! Motherwell 3, Aberdeen 0. Louis Moult (Motherwell) right footed shot from the right side of the box to the high centre of the goal. Assisted by Chris Cadden.

Posted at83′

Hand ball by Ryan Bowman (Motherwell).

Posted at81′

Hand ball by Carl McHugh (Motherwell).

Posted at81′

Peter Hartley (Motherwell) wins a free kick on the left wing.

Posted at81′

Foul by Stevie May (Aberdeen).

Posted at79′

Ryan Bowman (Motherwell) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Posted at79′

Foul by Kári Arnason (Aberdeen).

Booking

Posted at77′

Chris Cadden (Motherwell) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.

Posted at77′

Foul by Chris Cadden (Motherwell).

Posted at77′

Stevie May (Aberdeen) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Posted at75′

Louis Moult (Motherwell) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

Posted at75′

Foul by Andrew Considine (Aberdeen).

Posted at74′

Allan Campbell (Motherwell) hits the left post with a right footed shot from the centre of the box.

Posted at72′

Allan Campbell (Motherwell) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

Posted at72′

Foul by Kenny McLean (Aberdeen).

Posted at71′

Foul by Steven Hammell (Motherwell).

Posted at71′

Kári Arnason (Aberdeen) wins a free kick on the left wing.

Substitution

Posted at70′

Substitution, Motherwell. Liam Grimshaw replaces Andy Rose.

Posted at68′

Foul by Carl McHugh (Motherwell).

Posted at68′

Ryan Christie (Aberdeen) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Posted at67′

Corner, Aberdeen. Conceded by Steven Hammell.

Substitution

Posted at67′

Substitution, Aberdeen. Greg Tansey replaces Dominic Ball.

Posted at66′

Corner, Aberdeen. Conceded by Trevor Carson.

goal

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Premier League predictions: Lawro v Kingsman actor & Arsenal fan Mark Strong

We are five games into the new Premier League season and Crystal Palace are yet to score a league goal, let alone register a point.Will that change when they travel to joint-leaders Manchester City on Saturday, or is that game a dead-cert for a home wi…

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Man Utd chief predicts Facebook and Amazon Premier League interest

Romelu Lukaku in action for Manchester United

Manchester United chief Ed Woodward expects Facebook and Amazon to “enter the mix” when the next Premier League TV rights deal is negotiated later this year.

Earlier this month, Facebook failed with a £445m bid for digital rights in the Indian Premier League auction.

Amazon paid £37m to live stream the 10 Thursday night NFL games this season.

Woodward said: “Absolutely I think they will enter the mix and we would welcome the interest.”

In the long-term deal they announced earlier this month, the Football League said that from next season major broadcast partner Sky, plus the clubs themselves could live stream any midweek match.

The rise of Premier League TV income<!–

On an investors’ conference call to talk through United’s latest annual results, executive vice-chairman Woodward was asked what plans the Premier League and Uefa had to maximise income from live streaming of games.

He said: “Anecdotally there was strong interest in the last cycle.

“We are hearing it round the Premier League table now and from a European perspective as well in terms of the Champions League rights and Europa (League).”

Woodward said it was difficult to gauge the extent of the sums available as there was no direct comparison in football.

However, he said he had heard of “very big numbers” being offered for IPL and noted “with interest” Major League Soccer’s 22-match deal with Facebook for the 2017 regular season campaign.

He said: “We are going to see an increasing engagement from these organisations and it is going to be increasingly important to digitally engage with fans.

Biggest TV deals
Competition Annual cost Total cost Duration
NFL (American football) $4.95bn (£3.24bn) $39.6bn (£25.95bn) 8 years (2014-22)
NBA (basketball) $2.6bn (£1.7bn) $24bn (£15.73bn) 9 years (2016-25)
MLB (baseball) $1.55bn (£1.02bn) $12.4bn (£8.13bn) 8 years (2014-21)
Premier League £1.7bn £5.14bn 3 years (2016-19)

“We think we can be complimentary to partners like this.”

The Premier League are due to send tender documents out for their next rights cycle, which runs from 2019-2022.

The current domestic and overseas broadcast deals are worth a combined total of £8.3bn.

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Diego Costa: Chelsea agree terms with Atletico Madrid

Chelsea have agreed terms with Atletico Madrid for the transfer of striker Diego Costa back to the Spanish club.The move, which will be completed in January, is subject to the agreement of personal terms and a medical.Atletico said the 28-year-old, who…

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Mark Sampson: England manager sacked – MP says FA systems 'flawed'

Media playback is not supported on this device

The Football Association has been heavily criticised after the sacking of England women’s manager Mark Sampson.

MP Damian Collins has questioned why it took so long to look into evidence of Sampson’s “inappropriate and unacceptable” behaviour with female players in a previous role.

“The system is flawed,” said Collins, who chairs the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee.

Ex-England captain Karen Walker said: “They have made a right mess of it.”

The FA says it was made aware last week of the full details of safeguarding allegations made against Sampson in 2014 relating to his time as Bristol Academy manager.

A 2015 FA assessment found Sampson did not pose a risk.

The 34-year-old Welshman was also cleared this year of wrongdoing following discrimination allegations made by England players, including Chelsea and England striker Eniola Aluko.

Mark Sampson<!–

Call for independent review

Senior FA executives were already set to face questions next month from the committee headed by Collins, after Aluko initially raised a “bullying and harassment” grievance against Sampson in response to an internal cultural review.

Sampson, who denied Aluko’s claims, became England head coach in December 2013 after leaving top-flight side Bristol Academy, now renamed Bristol City Women.

The FA statement said: “The full report of that [2014] investigation was only brought to the attention of the current FA leadership last week.

“It is our judgement that it revealed clear evidence of inappropriate and unacceptable behaviour by a coach. It is on this basis that we have acted quickly to agree a termination of Mark’s contract.”

Collins told BBC Radio 5 live: “Why was it only last week this came to light? You have to look at the Football Association and say its systems are not working.

“The system is flawed and I think it needs a wider, independent assessment not just of who knew what and when in the Mark Sampson case and why it took people so long to come forward and action to be taken.”

Former centre-forward Walker, who was capped 83 times between 1988 and 2003, said the treatment of Sampson had been unfair.

“It does seem like a bit of a witchhunt to bring up something from how many years ago that’s already been looked at. It doesn’t seem right,” she said.

Women In Sport announced Sampson had been removed as patron of the charity following the FA decision.

What the FA chief said

FA chief executive Martin Glenn, speaking to BBC Sport’s Richard Conway

Why have you taken this decision today?

In 2014 there were concerns raised about Mark’s time at Bristol Academy. These were investigated by the FA’s safeguarding unit and Mark was cleared in terms of his suitability to continue in football in early 2015.

Let’s be clear, Mark is not deemed to be a safeguarding threat in football. The problem is that when I read the full report of that just last week, the issue became one of Mark’s conduct and it’s really around the boundaries between a player and a coach.

On reading that report, I felt that what I saw was incompatible with the standards that we’d expect for someone to work at the FA.

Many people will look at this and perhaps think this is a convenient way to get rid of Mark Sampson given the ongoing scrutiny he is under over Eni Aluko’s allegations – what do you say to that?

I can understand why people would say that but they are two very different things.

The concerns Eni Aluko raised were about perceived bullying and perceived racism. We have investigated those properly, there have been two separate investigations actually which have broadly concluded there’s no systematic evidence for that.

This is a different issue, this is about his conduct before his time at the FA which we judge just isn’t consistent with the standards that an FA employee needs to show.

Is Mark Sampson fit to work as a coach in football generally in your opinion?

Mark Sampson is absolutely clear to work as a coach in football.

But you don’t think it’s appropriate to work as the England coach when he can work elsewhere?

I think that’s for other people to make their mind up. In terms of the standards we set at the FA and what we know about what happened, we are very clear about our decision.

Reaction to Sampson’s sacking

A spokesman for Bristol Academy said: “In 2014 the club was made aware of the FA’s investigation into allegations surrounding Mark Sampson.

“Bristol Academy Women co-operated fully with that investigation, which found that Mark Sampson did not pose a safeguarding risk working in the game. The club has had no further contact from the FA on this subject in the intervening years.”

Minister for Sport Tracey Crouch said: “This situation is a mess and raises very serious questions about whether the historic processes that the FA had in place around the recruitment of coaches were appropriate, for something like this to have been missed.

“The FA are right to have taken action but reassurance is needed to make sure this does not happen again at any level of coaching.”

Sampson’s England side beat Russia 6-0 in a World Cup qualifier on Tuesday and he led the Lionesses to successive semi-finals at major tournaments.

Last year Sampson signed a new contract to remain in charge until 2019. He has had his contract paid up in full by the FA.

Media playback is not supported on this device

How we did we get here?

December 2013: Sampson becomes England manager having left Bristol Academy

Early 2014: Complaint against Sampson made relating to his time at Bristol

March 2015: FA safeguarding review panel concludes investigation and in October 2015 he is cleared to continue working in football.

May 2016: England forward Eniola Aluko is asked to participate in a cultural review of all England teams by the FA’s technical director Dan Ashworth.

December 2016: An independent investigation, led by barrister Katharine Newton, hears Aluko’s claims that during a meeting in 2015, Sampson made a “highly inappropriate remark”.

March 2017: The independent review clears Sampson and his staff of wrongdoing but it is understood that Aluko was paid £80,000 in a confidentiality agreement.

13 September 2017: FA says it received the full safeguarding review panel report on the allegations against Sampson.

14 September 2017: The FA says it could re-open its investigation into racism claims against Sampson after further evidence is submitted.

20 September 2017: Sampson sacked by FA

FA investigation

Last week, the FA announced it was to re-open its investigation into separate discrimination claims against Sampson, first made in 2016.

Sampson was alleged to have asked mixed race England midfielder Drew Spence whether she had been arrested during a tournament in 2015, a claim which he denied.

Media playback is not supported on this device

The claim was first made by Spence’s England and Chelsea team-mate Aluko, and Spence has now submitted written evidence to support it.

In a further separate allegation, Aluko said Sampson told her to make sure her Nigerian relatives did not “bring Ebola” to an England game at Wembley in 2014.

Two investigations – one internal FA inquiry and one independent review led by barrister Katharine Newton – cleared Sampson of any wrongdoing.

Aluko, who has 102 caps and is a qualified lawyer, and fellow England forward Lianne Sanderson have been invited to give evidence to the select committee hearing planned for mid-October.

Media playback is not supported on this device

Eniola Aluko<!–

Support for ousted manager

England captain Steph Houghton came out in support of her head coach earlier in September but said the allegations had “hit the squad very hard”.

“Since Mark has been in charge I’ve enjoyed every moment,” Houghton, 29, told BBC Sport.

Meanwhile, on the eve of England’s opening World Cup qualifier against Russia, striker Jodie Taylor said the squad had been brought “together” by the allegations.

Former England women defender Alex Scott told BBC Radio 5 live that Sampson had “the most open-door policy” she has ever experienced.

Scott, who is of mixed race and played 140 times for England, added: “If anyone ever had a problem he was open to new ideas.”

Who’s next to coach England?

Tom Garry, BBC Sport

Not only for his recent success at Manchester City, but for his desire to bring through English players, Nick Cushing will be a strong candidate, having won the WSL title in 2016 and the Women’s FA Cup in May with a squad built largely with Lionesses.

Chelsea Ladies boss Emma Hayes is the most successful current female boss in the WSL, winning the double in 2015 and the Spring Series in June, but she can be outspoken and may not see eye-to-eye with all at the FA.

Reading boss Kelly Chambers is popular with many current Lionesses, while former Arsenal boss Laura Harvey – currently head coach of Seattle Reign – would be viable, along with ex-Leeds boss Gemma Grainger – part of Sampson’s coaching team.

Alternatives include the current Canada women national team boss John Herdman – from County Durham – who has earned good credit for lifting Canada up to fifth in the world, while Englishman Colin Bell won the 2014-15 Champions League with Frankfurt.

You can now add WSL 1 alerts for goals and results in the BBC Sport app.

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Fifa investigates Man City and Chelsea over youth signings

Chelsea flag at Stamford Bridge

Chelsea and Manchester City are being investigated by Fifa over their recruitment of young players.

This is the third time football’s world governing body has looked at Chelsea, and in 2009 they were banned from making signings for two years.

In May, the Premier League fined City £300,000 and banned them from signing academy players for two years.

Fifa has stringent rules in place for signing players under the age of 18 to prevent exploitation and trafficking.

When asked by BBC Sport about Chelsea and Manchester City, it confirmed an investigation was “ongoing”.

City are adamant they have done nothing wrong, while Chelsea insist they “comply with all Fifa statutes and regulations when recruiting players”.

In 2009, Chelsea were banned from signing players after being found guilty of inducing Gael Kakuta to break his contract with Lens, though the sanction was lifted on appeal.

They were also scrutinised last year for the 2014 signing of Bertrand Traore from Association Jeunes Espoirs De Bobo-Dioulasso.

City’s punishment, meanwhile, came after they were found to have approached the family of two young players who were registered with other clubs.

In January last year both Real Madrid and city rivals Atletico were banned from signing players for two transfer windows after breaching Fifa rules relating to the signing of minors.

Real had the sanction halved on appeal but Atletico had theirs upheld by the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

Fifa’s rules on the transfer of under-18s

Fifa bans the transfer of under-18s to different countries unless they meet strict criteria. It brought in the rules to help protect children from exploitation and trafficking.

Under-18s can only be transferred abroad if:

  • The player’s parents move to the country in which the new club is located for non-footballing reasons.
  • Both clubs are in the European Union or European Economic Area and the player is aged between 16 and 18. Even then, the buying club must meet more criteria relating to education, training, living conditions and support.
  • They live within 100km of the club.

Analysis – ‘This won’t be the last time’

BBC Sport’s Simon Stone

Chelsea and Manchester City are adamant they have done nothing wrong, but in merely admitting investigations are ongoing, Fifa is again shining a light on the recruitment of young players.

Chelsea and City have established themselves as having the best young players in England. Chelsea have won the past four FA Youth Cups, beating City in the past three finals.

But it would be naive to think outstanding young players arrive at those clubs by chance.

Huge amounts of time and resource are put into recruitment, both at home and abroad.

As the cases of City and Liverpool proved when they were fined by the Premier League last season, clubs do not always play by the rules. And English clubs are not operating in a vacuum.

As the professional desire and financial incentives for winning increase, even if Fifa’s latest probe unearths nothing, it is fair to assume it won’t be the last time they will feel the need to make sure regulations are not being broken.

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'Could English football survive without Carabao Cup? Maybe'

English clubs in Europe could benefit by not playing in the Carabao Cup, says Manchester United boss Jose Mourinho.The Portuguese manager made nine changes but still fielded a strong side as the holders beat Championship side Burton 4-1 on Wednesday ni…

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Holders Man Utd to visit Swansea in Carabao Cup

Manchester United will play away at Swansea City in the fourth round of the Carabao Cup, while Chelsea will be at home against Everton.Manchester City have been drawn against Championship Wolves, with Tottenham hosting West Ham in a London derby.Arsena…

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Holders Man Utd to visit Swansea in Carabao Cup

Manchester United will play away at Swansea City in the fourth round of the Carabao Cup, while Chelsea will be at home against Everton.Manchester City have been drawn against Championship Wolves, with Tottenham hosting West Ham in a London derby.Arsena…

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Batshuayi hat-trick sees Chelsea past Forest

Chelsea's Charly Musonda celebrates scoring his first goal for the club

Michy Batshuayi grabbed a hat-trick and Eden Hazard marked his first Chelsea start of the season with two assists as the Premier League champions crushed Nottingham Forest to move into the fourth round of the Carabao Cup.

Blues boss Antonio Conte made nine changes from the side that drew 0-0 with Arsenal on Sunday but a strong and vastly experienced line-up proved way too strong for their Championship opponents.

Elsewhere, it was a night devoid of shocks as Manchester United overpowered Burton Albion, Everton eased past Sunderland and Arsenal beat Doncaster Rovers 1-0.

The closest to a shock came at the Hawthorns as West Brom scored a 72nd-minute equaliser against Manchester City before losing to Leroy Sane’s second of the night.

At Stamford Bridge, Hazard looked sharp in attack and Cesc Fabregas and Tiemoue Bakayoko dominated the midfield, with the former having a hand in all three goals before the break.

Fabregas was involved in a sweeping move that led to Brazilian wing-back Kenedy volleying the opener and he won possession in the build up for Batshuayi’s close-range strike to make it 2-0.

Reaction from Stamford Bridge

And the Spanish midfielder’s cute reverse pass played in the impressive Charly Musonda, who drilled in number three on his full debut five minutes before the break.

Batshuayi’s second, after some brilliant selfless approach by Belgian team-mate Hazard, made it 4-0 soon after the interval and he completed his treble from on the line after Kenedy’s fierce strike had hit the frame of the goal.

Forest, who themselves made eight changes from the team beaten by Wolves on Saturday, almost scored at 2-0 down when on-loan Everton midfielder Kieran Dowell hit the bar with a clipped 20-yard free-kick.

Michy Batshuayi<!–

Dowell was also narrowly off target with a first-time effort in the second half, while substitute Ben Brereton smashed an effort wide with his left foot.

Forest’s noisy 4,000 travelling support finally had something to cheer in stoppage time when Tendayi Darikwa netted from close range following a swift break.

Hazard too hot to handle

Hazard, who broke his ankle in June while on international duty, has made three substitute appearances in Chelsea’s past three matches and looked fit and strong as he lasted the full 90 minutes.

He was not involved as Brazilian wing-back Kenedy cleverly side-footed home the opener from Antonio Rudiger’s cross.

But he was a central figure thereafter, showing typical strength and power in possession, and his usual tricks and flicks despite clearly not being fully match-fit.

Hazard played a fine pass to tee up Batshuayi’s first goal and he ran through before cleverly dummying and setting up the striker for Chelsea’s fourth in the second half.

He also hit the post with a right-foot strike from 18 yards as Chelsea continued to make the most of the space created by Forest having to chase the game.

Chelsea finished the game with three teenage British substitutes on the pitch – Welsh defender Ethan Ampadu, 17, Jake Clarke-Salter, 19, and England Under-19 international Dujon Sterling.

Line-ups

Chelsea

  • 1Caballero
  • 2Rüdiger
  • 27ChristensenSubstituted forClarke-Salterat 71′minutes
  • 24Cahill
  • 21ZappacostaSubstituted forSterlingat 76′minutes
  • 4FàbregasSubstituted forAmpaduat 56′minutes
  • 14Bakayoko
  • 16Kenedy
  • 17Musonda
  • 23Batshuayi
  • 10Hazard

Substitutes

  • 9Morata
  • 15Moses
  • 22Willian
  • 35Clarke-Salter
  • 37Eduardo
  • 44Ampadu
  • 66Sterling

Nottm Forest

  • 30Henderson
  • 42Worrall
  • 25HobbsBooked at 21mins
  • 4Mancienne
  • 2Lichaj
  • 31Bouchalakis
  • 11Osborn
  • 20DowellSubstituted forCloughat 74′minutes
  • 13FoxSubstituted forDarikwaat 59′minutes
  • 35Cummings
  • 34WalkerSubstituted forBreretonat 65′minutes

Substitutes

  • 10McKay
  • 16Clough
  • 17Brereton
  • 18Carayol
  • 27Darikwa
  • 39Vellios
  • 43Smith
Referee:
Chris Kavanagh
Attendance:
40,621

Match Stats

Home TeamChelseaAway TeamNottm Forest
Possession
Home66%
Away34%
Shots
Home16
Away16
Shots on Target
Home9
Away4
Corners
Home9
Away3
Fouls
Home7
Away13

Live Text

Posted at

Match ends, Chelsea 5, Nottingham Forest 1.

Full Time

Posted at90’+2′

Second Half ends, Chelsea 5, Nottingham Forest 1.

Goal!

Posted at90’+1′

Goal! Chelsea 5, Nottingham Forest 1. Tendayi Darikwa (Nottingham Forest) left footed shot from the centre of the box to the bottom right corner.

Posted at90’+1′

Attempt saved. Kenedy (Chelsea) left footed shot from the left side of the box is saved in the top centre of the goal.

Posted at90′

Foul by Antonio Rüdiger (Chelsea).

Posted at90′

Ben Brereton (Nottingham Forest) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

Posted at87′

Attempt saved. Jason Cummings (Nottingham Forest) right footed shot from outside the box is saved in the top centre of the goal.

Goal!

Posted at86′

Goal! Chelsea 5, Nottingham Forest 0. Michy Batshuayi (Chelsea) with an attempt from very close range to the centre of the goal.

Posted at85′

Kenedy (Chelsea) hits the bar with a right footed shot from the left side of the box.

Posted at84′

Charly Musonda (Chelsea) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Posted at84′

Foul by Ben Brereton (Nottingham Forest).

Posted at83′

Attempt missed. Andreas Bouchalakis (Nottingham Forest) left footed shot from outside the box is high and wide to the left.

Posted at81′

Attempt missed. Zach Clough (Nottingham Forest) right footed shot from very close range is too high from a direct free kick.

Posted at80′

Foul by Antonio Rüdiger (Chelsea).

Posted at80′

Ben Brereton (Nottingham Forest) wins a free kick on the left wing.

Posted at78′

Attempt missed. Michy Batshuayi (Chelsea) header from the centre of the box is high and wide to the right.

Substitution

Posted at76′

Substitution, Chelsea. Dujon Sterling replaces Davide Zappacosta.

Posted at75′

Corner, Chelsea. Conceded by Ben Osborn.

Substitution

Posted at74′

Substitution, Nottingham Forest. Zach Clough replaces Kieran Dowell.

Posted at74′

Corner, Chelsea. Conceded by Joe Worrall.

Posted at72′

Davide Zappacosta (Chelsea) wins a free kick on the right wing.

Posted at72′

Foul by Eric Lichaj (Nottingham Forest).

Substitution

Posted at71′

Substitution, Chelsea. Jake Clarke-Salter replaces Andreas Christensen.

Posted at70′

Corner, Chelsea. Conceded by Joe Worrall.

Posted at69′

Attempt missed. Ben Brereton (Nottingham Forest) left footed shot from the left side of the box misses to the right.

Substitution

Posted at65′

Substitution, Nottingham Forest. Ben Brereton replaces Tyler Walker.

Posted at65′

Corner, Chelsea. Conceded by Michael Mancienne.

Posted at62′

Corner, Nottingham Forest. Conceded by Davide Zappacosta.

Substitution

Posted at59′

Substitution, Nottingham Forest. Tendayi Darikwa replaces Daniel Fox.

Posted at58′

Attempt missed. Andreas Bouchalakis (Nottingham Forest) right footed shot from outside the box misses to the left.

Posted at58′

Attempt blocked. Jason Cummings (Nottingham Forest) right footed shot from the right side of the box is blocked.

Posted at57′

Charly Musonda (Chelsea) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Posted at57′

Foul by Eric Lichaj (Nottingham Forest).

Substitution

Posted at56′

Substitution, Chelsea. Ethan Ampadu replaces Cesc Fàbregas.

Posted at56′

Attempt missed. Kieran Dowell (Nottingham Forest) right footed shot from the centre of the box misses to the left.

Posted at55′

Corner, Nottingham Forest. Conceded by Kenedy.

Posted at55′

Attempt blocked. Kieran Dowell (Nottingham Forest) right footed shot from outside the box is blocked.

Goal!

Posted at53′

Goal! Chelsea 4, Nottingham Forest 0. Michy Batshuayi (Chelsea) right footed shot from the centre of the box to the centre of the goal. Assisted by Eden Hazard following a fast break.

Posted at51′

Attempt blocked. Jason Cummings (Nottingham Forest) left footed shot from outside the box is blocked.

Posted at49′

Attempt missed. Antonio Rüdiger (Chelsea) right footed shot from outside the box is too high.

goal

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Batshuayi hat-trick sees Chelsea past Forest

Chelsea's Charly Musonda celebrates scoring his first goal for the club

Michy Batshuayi grabbed a hat-trick and Eden Hazard marked his first Chelsea start of the season with two assists as the Premier League champions crushed Nottingham Forest to move into the fourth round of the Carabao Cup.

Blues boss Antonio Conte made nine changes from the side that drew 0-0 with Arsenal on Sunday but a strong and vastly experienced line-up proved way too strong for their Championship opponents.

Elsewhere, it was a night devoid of shocks as Manchester United overpowered Burton Albion, Everton eased past Sunderland and Arsenal beat Doncaster Rovers 1-0.

The closest to a shock came at the Hawthorns as West Brom scored a 72nd-minute equaliser against Manchester City before losing to Leroy Sane’s second of the night.

At Stamford Bridge, Hazard looked sharp in attack and Cesc Fabregas and Tiemoue Bakayoko dominated the midfield, with the former having a hand in all three goals before the break.

Fabregas was involved in a sweeping move that led to Brazilian wing-back Kenedy volleying the opener and he won possession in the build up for Batshuayi’s close-range strike to make it 2-0.

Reaction from Stamford Bridge

And the Spanish midfielder’s cute reverse pass played in the impressive Charly Musonda, who drilled in number three on his full debut five minutes before the break.

Batshuayi’s second, after some brilliant selfless approach by Belgian team-mate Hazard, made it 4-0 soon after the interval and he completed his treble from on the line after Kenedy’s fierce strike had hit the frame of the goal.

Forest, who themselves made eight changes from the team beaten by Wolves on Saturday, almost scored at 2-0 down when on-loan Everton midfielder Kieran Dowell hit the bar with a clipped 20-yard free-kick.

Michy Batshuayi<!–

Dowell was also narrowly off target with a first-time effort in the second half, while substitute Ben Brereton smashed an effort wide with his left foot.

Forest’s noisy 4,000 travelling support finally had something to cheer in stoppage time when Tendayi Darikwa netted from close range following a swift break.

Hazard too hot to handle

Hazard, who broke his ankle in June while on international duty, has made three substitute appearances in Chelsea’s past three matches and looked fit and strong as he lasted the full 90 minutes.

He was not involved as Brazilian wing-back Kenedy cleverly side-footed home the opener from Antonio Rudiger’s cross.

But he was a central figure thereafter, showing typical strength and power in possession, and his usual tricks and flicks despite clearly not being fully match-fit.

Hazard played a fine pass to tee up Batshuayi’s first goal and he ran through before cleverly dummying and setting up the striker for Chelsea’s fourth in the second half.

He also hit the post with a right-foot strike from 18 yards as Chelsea continued to make the most of the space created by Forest having to chase the game.

Chelsea finished the game with three teenage British substitutes on the pitch – Welsh defender Ethan Ampadu, 17, Jake Clarke-Salter, 19, and England Under-19 international Dujon Sterling.

Line-ups

Chelsea

  • 1Caballero
  • 2Rüdiger
  • 27ChristensenSubstituted forClarke-Salterat 71′minutes
  • 24Cahill
  • 21ZappacostaSubstituted forSterlingat 76′minutes
  • 4FàbregasSubstituted forAmpaduat 56′minutes
  • 14Bakayoko
  • 16Kenedy
  • 17Musonda
  • 23Batshuayi
  • 10Hazard

Substitutes

  • 9Morata
  • 15Moses
  • 22Willian
  • 35Clarke-Salter
  • 37Eduardo
  • 44Ampadu
  • 66Sterling

Nottm Forest

  • 30Henderson
  • 42Worrall
  • 25HobbsBooked at 21mins
  • 4Mancienne
  • 2Lichaj
  • 31Bouchalakis
  • 11Osborn
  • 20DowellSubstituted forCloughat 74′minutes
  • 13FoxSubstituted forDarikwaat 59′minutes
  • 35Cummings
  • 34WalkerSubstituted forBreretonat 65′minutes

Substitutes

  • 10McKay
  • 16Clough
  • 17Brereton
  • 18Carayol
  • 27Darikwa
  • 39Vellios
  • 43Smith
Referee:
Chris Kavanagh
Attendance:
40,621

Match Stats

Home TeamChelseaAway TeamNottm Forest
Possession
Home66%
Away34%
Shots
Home16
Away16
Shots on Target
Home9
Away4
Corners
Home9
Away3
Fouls
Home7
Away13

Live Text

Posted at

Match ends, Chelsea 5, Nottingham Forest 1.

Full Time

Posted at90’+2′

Second Half ends, Chelsea 5, Nottingham Forest 1.

Goal!

Posted at90’+1′

Goal! Chelsea 5, Nottingham Forest 1. Tendayi Darikwa (Nottingham Forest) left footed shot from the centre of the box to the bottom right corner.

Posted at90’+1′

Attempt saved. Kenedy (Chelsea) left footed shot from the left side of the box is saved in the top centre of the goal.

Posted at90′

Foul by Antonio Rüdiger (Chelsea).

Posted at90′

Ben Brereton (Nottingham Forest) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

Posted at87′

Attempt saved. Jason Cummings (Nottingham Forest) right footed shot from outside the box is saved in the top centre of the goal.

Goal!

Posted at86′

Goal! Chelsea 5, Nottingham Forest 0. Michy Batshuayi (Chelsea) with an attempt from very close range to the centre of the goal.

Posted at85′

Kenedy (Chelsea) hits the bar with a right footed shot from the left side of the box.

Posted at84′

Charly Musonda (Chelsea) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Posted at84′

Foul by Ben Brereton (Nottingham Forest).

Posted at83′

Attempt missed. Andreas Bouchalakis (Nottingham Forest) left footed shot from outside the box is high and wide to the left.

Posted at81′

Attempt missed. Zach Clough (Nottingham Forest) right footed shot from very close range is too high from a direct free kick.

Posted at80′

Foul by Antonio Rüdiger (Chelsea).

Posted at80′

Ben Brereton (Nottingham Forest) wins a free kick on the left wing.

Posted at78′

Attempt missed. Michy Batshuayi (Chelsea) header from the centre of the box is high and wide to the right.

Substitution

Posted at76′

Substitution, Chelsea. Dujon Sterling replaces Davide Zappacosta.

Posted at75′

Corner, Chelsea. Conceded by Ben Osborn.

Substitution

Posted at74′

Substitution, Nottingham Forest. Zach Clough replaces Kieran Dowell.

Posted at74′

Corner, Chelsea. Conceded by Joe Worrall.

Posted at72′

Davide Zappacosta (Chelsea) wins a free kick on the right wing.

Posted at72′

Foul by Eric Lichaj (Nottingham Forest).

Substitution

Posted at71′

Substitution, Chelsea. Jake Clarke-Salter replaces Andreas Christensen.

Posted at70′

Corner, Chelsea. Conceded by Joe Worrall.

Posted at69′

Attempt missed. Ben Brereton (Nottingham Forest) left footed shot from the left side of the box misses to the right.

Substitution

Posted at65′

Substitution, Nottingham Forest. Ben Brereton replaces Tyler Walker.

Posted at65′

Corner, Chelsea. Conceded by Michael Mancienne.

Posted at62′

Corner, Nottingham Forest. Conceded by Davide Zappacosta.

Substitution

Posted at59′

Substitution, Nottingham Forest. Tendayi Darikwa replaces Daniel Fox.

Posted at58′

Attempt missed. Andreas Bouchalakis (Nottingham Forest) right footed shot from outside the box misses to the left.

Posted at58′

Attempt blocked. Jason Cummings (Nottingham Forest) right footed shot from the right side of the box is blocked.

Posted at57′

Charly Musonda (Chelsea) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Posted at57′

Foul by Eric Lichaj (Nottingham Forest).

Substitution

Posted at56′

Substitution, Chelsea. Ethan Ampadu replaces Cesc Fàbregas.

Posted at56′

Attempt missed. Kieran Dowell (Nottingham Forest) right footed shot from the centre of the box misses to the left.

Posted at55′

Corner, Nottingham Forest. Conceded by Kenedy.

Posted at55′

Attempt blocked. Kieran Dowell (Nottingham Forest) right footed shot from outside the box is blocked.

Goal!

Posted at53′

Goal! Chelsea 4, Nottingham Forest 0. Michy Batshuayi (Chelsea) right footed shot from the centre of the box to the centre of the goal. Assisted by Eden Hazard following a fast break.

Posted at51′

Attempt blocked. Jason Cummings (Nottingham Forest) left footed shot from outside the box is blocked.

Posted at49′

Attempt missed. Antonio Rüdiger (Chelsea) right footed shot from outside the box is too high.

goal

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Rashford double for holders United

Marcus Rashford

Marcus Rashford scored twice as holders Manchester United overpowered Burton Albion at Old Trafford to reach the fourth round of the Carabao Cup.

Championship Burton made nine changes and were 1-0 down when Rashford dinked the ball over keeper Connor Ripley.

England forward Rashford made it 2-0 with a 20-yard finish before Jesse Lingard’s deflected shot found the net.

Anthony Martial added the fourth from a Rashford assist, Lloyd Dyer scoring a stoppage time consolation.

Reaction from Old Trafford

More to follow.

Line-ups

Man Utd

  • 20RomeroSubstituted forCastro Pereiraat 78′minutes
  • 36Darmian
  • 2Lindelöf
  • 12Smalling
  • 17Blind
  • 21Herrera
  • 16Carrick
  • 14Lingard
  • 8MataSubstituted forShawat 45′minutes
  • 11Martial
  • 19RashfordSubstituted forMcTominayat 64′minutes

Substitutes

  • 4Jones
  • 9R Lukaku
  • 18Young
  • 23Shaw
  • 27Fellaini
  • 39McTominay
  • 40Castro Pereira

Burton

  • 13Ripley
  • 8Lund
  • 12Flanagan
  • 15Naylor
  • 6TurnerSubstituted forWarnockat 45′minutesBooked at 71mins
  • 11Dyer
  • 4AllenSubstituted forMurphyat 45′minutes
  • 21AkpanBooked at 42minsSubstituted forAkinsat 78′minutes
  • 19Palmer
  • 20Mason
  • 16Varney

Substitutes

  • 3Warnock
  • 5McFadzean
  • 7Murphy
  • 9Scannell
  • 10Akins
  • 17Sordell
  • 24Campbell
Referee:
Graham Scott
Attendance:
54,256

Match Stats

Home TeamMan UtdAway TeamBurton
Possession
Home68%
Away32%
Shots
Home16
Away10
Shots on Target
Home11
Away3
Corners
Home5
Away2
Fouls
Home11
Away14

Live Text

Posted at

Match ends, Manchester United 4, Burton Albion 1.

Full Time

Posted at90’+2′

Second Half ends, Manchester United 4, Burton Albion 1.

Goal!

Posted at90’+1′

Goal! Manchester United 4, Burton Albion 1. Lloyd Dyer (Burton Albion) left footed shot from the centre of the box to the bottom right corner.

Posted at90’+1′

Joe Mason (Burton Albion) hits the bar with a header from the centre of the box. Assisted by Luke Murphy with a cross.

Posted at90′

Corner, Burton Albion. Conceded by Victor Lindelöf.

Posted at88′

Attempt missed. Anthony Martial (Manchester United) right footed shot from outside the box is close, but misses to the left from a direct free kick.

Posted at87′

Jesse Lingard (Manchester United) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

Posted at87′

Foul by Luke Murphy (Burton Albion).

Posted at86′

Attempt missed. Lloyd Dyer (Burton Albion) left footed shot from the left side of the box is just a bit too high. Assisted by Joe Mason.

Posted at85′

Jesse Lingard (Manchester United) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Posted at85′

Foul by Tom Flanagan (Burton Albion).

Posted at83′

Anthony Martial (Manchester United) wins a free kick on the left wing.

Posted at83′

Foul by Matthew Lund (Burton Albion).

Posted at80′

Scott McTominay (Manchester United) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Posted at80′

Foul by Matthew Palmer (Burton Albion).

Posted at79′

Attempt missed. Anthony Martial (Manchester United) left footed shot from the left side of the box is close, but misses to the right. Assisted by Jesse Lingard with a through ball.

Posted at79′

Jesse Lingard (Manchester United) wins a free kick on the left wing.

Posted at79′

Foul by Matthew Lund (Burton Albion).

Substitution

Posted at78′

Substitution, Burton Albion. Lucas Akins replaces Hope Akpan.

Substitution

Posted at78′

Substitution, Manchester United. Joel Pereira replaces Sergio Romero.

Posted at77′

Michael Carrick (Manchester United) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Posted at77′

Foul by Matthew Lund (Burton Albion).

Posted at74′

Attempt missed. Hope Akpan (Burton Albion) header from the centre of the box is too high.

Posted at74′

Foul by Ander Herrera (Manchester United).

Posted at74′

Hope Akpan (Burton Albion) wins a free kick on the left wing.

Booking

Posted at71′

Stephen Warnock (Burton Albion) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.

Posted at71′

Scott McTominay (Manchester United) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

Posted at71′

Foul by Stephen Warnock (Burton Albion).

Posted at67′

Corner, Manchester United. Conceded by Hope Akpan.

Posted at67′

Corner, Manchester United. Conceded by Stephen Warnock.

Posted at64′

Foul by Scott McTominay (Manchester United).

Posted at64′

Tom Naylor (Burton Albion) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Substitution

Posted at64′

Substitution, Manchester United. Scott McTominay replaces Marcus Rashford.

Posted at63′

Corner, Manchester United. Conceded by Matthew Lund.

Posted at62′

Attempt blocked. Marcus Rashford (Manchester United) right footed shot from the right side of the box is blocked. Assisted by Matteo Darmian.

Goal!

Posted at60′

Goal! Manchester United 4, Burton Albion 0. Anthony Martial (Manchester United) right footed shot from the centre of the box to the centre of the goal. Assisted by Marcus Rashford with a through ball.

Posted at58′

Attempt saved. Anthony Martial (Manchester United) right footed shot from the centre of the box is saved in the bottom right corner. Assisted by Marcus Rashford.

Posted at56′

Foul by Jesse Lingard (Manchester United).

Posted at56′

Hope Akpan (Burton Albion) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

Posted at50′

Chris Smalling (Manchester United) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

goal

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Wayne Rooney: Everton forward fined two weeks' wages

Wayne Rooney

Everton have fined Wayne Rooney two weeks’ wages and will donate the money to charity following his drink-driving conviction.

Everton intend to give the entire sum – thought to be about £300,000 – to local projects through their Everton in the Community scheme.

Rooney, 31, was said to be apologetic after being told of the punishment.

He was in court on Monday after being arrested on 1 September for driving while three times the legal limit.

The former England captain was banned from driving for two years and ordered to perform 100 hours of unpaid work as part of a 12-month community order.

Rooney was also ordered to pay £170 costs.

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Mark Sampson: FA chief executive Martin Glenn explains why England manager was sacked

[unable to retrieve full-text content]FA chief executive Martin Glenn explains the decision to sack England women’s manager Mark Sampson.

0

Fifpro World XI: Harry Kane the only England player on shortlist

Tottenham striker Harry Kane is the only England player on the 55-man shortlist for the Fifpro World XI.Thirteen Premier League players are shortlisted, with Wales and Real Madrid forward Gareth Bale the only other British player nominated.Real are the…

0

Mark Sampson set to leave as England women's manager

Mark Sampson is set to leave his role as England women’s manager amid a row over discrimination allegations.It comes after his side beat Russia 6-0 in a World Cup qualifier on Tuesday.The 34-year-old took over in 2013 and led England to successive semi…

0

Nikita Parris says her goal celebration with manager Mark Sampson was a statement

Nikita Parris said her celebration with manager Mark Sampson was a statement of how ”united” England are as a ”team”. Sampson has denied allegations of bullying and racism and Parris said it’s been a ”tough time for them all”.Available to UK user…

0

Why De Bruyne's excellence is proof of Guardiola's magic

Match of the Day

Watch highlights of Manchester City v Crystal Palace and seven other Premier League matches on Match of the Day at 22:25 BST on Saturday night on BBC One and the BBC Sport website.

Manchester City are often accused of simply trying to buy success, so is it time we gave their manager Pep Guardiola some credit for improving his big-name players too?

Kevin de Bruyne, who has gone from a goal-grabbing attacker into someone Guardiola described this month as being a “complete player,” appears to be a prime example of a top talent he has enhanced further.

In assists alone, De Bruyne’s statistics in his new, often deeper role speak for themselves, but they have come in tandem with some rave reviews from observers about his overall influence on matches, not merely in the final third of the field.

It seems he has become the kind of player Guardiola has always wanted to control his midfield, going back to his days in charge of Barcelona, when he nurtured several of them.

But while the Belgian’s recent stellar form has seen him make the headlines, the evidence suggests he is not the only world-class City player the Spanish coach has taken to a new level.

Kevin de Bruyne assists<!–

‘Guardiola takes good players, and makes them great’

Among those dishing out the plaudits to De Bruyne include Guardiola himself, who said last week the 26-year-old is “one of the best players I have ever seen”.

You could argue De Bruyne should be that, given he cost City £55m in 2015 – at the time the second-highest fee paid by a British club, and still a club record despite their summer spree to strengthen their squad, amid the recent inflation in the transfer market.

De Bruyne was clearly no slouch before Guardiola got his hands on him and the former Chelsea player also possessed the attitude and ability to adapt his game.

But his manager has played a part in that process – and has helped others to make similar progress.

Kevin de Bruyne and Man City boss Pep Guardiola<!–

“I 100% think De Bruyne has become a better player under Guardiola,” says Pat Nevin, who was at Vicarage Road for BBC Radio 5 live on Saturday and saw City destroy Watford 6-0.

“But he is not the only one that has improved a lot in this City team. I look at Raheem Sterling and think he is monumentally better now than he was before. Sergio Aguero has clearly added to his game under Pep too.

“So whereas everyone else is talking about individuals, I am looking at Guardiola and thinking I love your system, I love your attitude and I love your ethos – in the way you are taking very good players, and you are changing them to make them great.

“That is quite unusual, because a lot of managers would think I have got a really good player who does a certain thing very well, so I will just let him play.

“You can tell that is is not good enough for Guardiola, though. The way he has worked with those three players is pure Pep, really.”

‘Pep is building a more holistic thing’

Man City XI v Watford<!–

Compared to last season, not an awful lot has changed for De Bruyne.

In his first year at the Etihad Stadium, under previous manager Manuel Pellegrini, De Bruyne was typically one of the three players operating behind striker Sergio Aguero in a 4-2-3-1 formation, either out wide or as the number 10, but that changed when Guardiola took charge in the summer of 2016.

The Belgian began the 2016-17 campaign operating in a deeper role, usually as part of a 4-1-4-1 formation that – much as he does now – saw him help out City’s holding midfielder when his team did not have the ball, but also act as a springboard for launching attacks when they won it back.

But Nevin points out that De Bruyne does not just have one position in this City team – and neither do his fellow midfielders.

“It really is not that simple with Pep,” Nevin explained. “It is a much more holistic thing he is building.

“De Bruyne played on the right of midfield against Watford but, in their previous league game against Liverpool, he did a lot of work across the pitch. Against Bournemouth at the end of August he was mainly on the left. Who knows where he will play next week.

Kevin de Bruyne touches against Bournemouth, Liverpool and Watford<!–

“I think that is what Guardiola has been trying to do with him, and the rest of City’s midfield too.

“If you can play, you can play anywhere in his teams. If you look at his Barcelona side, Xavi and Andres Iniesta were not on the right or left, they were just players.

“It is the same at City now too. If you asked David Silva, I don’t think he would care where he is asked to play. De Bruyne and Sterling won’t either.”

Kevin de Bruyne in the Premier League
2015-16 2016-17 2017-18
Games (starts) 25 (22) 36 (33) 5 (5)
Minutes 2,003 2,883 426
Goals 7 6 0
Assists 9 18 3
Mins per goal 286 481 N/A
Mins per assist 223 160 142
Passing accuracy 78% 82% 84%
Mins per tackles/interception 44 38 36

‘City are miles ahead of last season’

Guardiola talked last season about De Bruyne’s willingness to adapt, and it appears the player has also bought into his manager’s philosophy that the team is more important than personal glory.

When asked in April about the change in his ratio of goals and assists, he said: “I think the things I am doing this year are more collective, while probably last year individually was maybe better for me.”

That must be music to the ears of a manager who, according to Nevin, “wants team players, who are part of a group”.

City’s current form suggest Guardiola has found what he was looking for.

Top of the Premier League<!–

They are joint-top of the Premier League and their win over Watford came at the end of a week where they found the net 15 times in three matches.

“That was the first time I had seen them live this season,” added Nevin. “A lot had changed because all their players had great understanding of each others’ positions and utter belief in each other and the team.

“Everyone wanted the ball and everyone was good on the ball, and they were all confident. The biggest difference is that now there is no-one in that team who does not look capable of playing the way Guardiola wants.

Media playback is not supported on this device

“City had a great start to last season too, of course, but they are miles ahead of where they were then.

“Some of that is down to the players they bought over the summer – against Watford, left-back Benjamin Mendy looked like a professional playing against an Under-15 side. They could not get near him and his delivery was pretty damn good too.

“But right through the team, they have all bought into their manager’s ideas, so their whole system – or, to be more accurate, systems, because they have more than one – is working better now than before.

“The players looked very comfortable, which helps them look better too. In fact, along with Manchester United, they look a class apart at the minute.”

‘Every City midfielder can control the game’

Most Premier League chances created 2017-18
Player Chances created (assists)
=1. Henrikh Mkhitaryan (Man Utd) 17 (5)
=1. David Silva (Man City) 17 (4)
=3. Kevin de Bruyne (Man City) 15 (3)
=3. Mesut Ozil (Arsenal) 15 (0)
5. Cesc Fabregas (Chelsea) 14 (0)

Listening to lavish praise from Guardiola is nothing new to De Bruyne either.

This time last year, his manager said he rated him as highly as any player he has managed, with the exception of Lionel Messi.

But while Guardiola’s latest comments have continued the conversation about whether De Bruyne is world class, Nevin is at pains to point out that City do not rely on him to make them tick.

“As well as he is playing, the spotlight is on De Bruyne at the moment because his manager is saying again how brilliant he is,” added Nevin.

“But I think part of the reason he is doing that is just him trying to get the best out of him.

“Of course he has been playing really well – his creative play, in particular, has been fantastic.

“But on Saturday there was no doubt in my mind that Sterling was the best player on the pitch. The week before that, against Liverpool, it was probably David Silva.

“My point is that every single one of City’s midfielders can be their best player and the controller and main influence on a game.

Raheem Sterling and Man City boss Pep Guardiola<!–

“Without a shadow of a doubt, De Bruyne is maturing and coming into the best period of his career and, yes, he is one of the best creative players around.

“But is he that far ahead of everyone else in this City team? Well, no. Absolutely not. I think that is harsh on Silva and Sterling, not to mention Aguero and Gabriel Jesus.

“So I am looking at it with a little bit of perspective. If he keeps playing like this he will be in the running for Player of the Year, but let’s not get carried away because the same could be said of a few other City players too.”

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