FA Cup third round draw: Man Utd take on Gerrard's Villa, Leicester face another Ranieri reunion

By Sports Desk December 06, 2021

Related items

  • Tuchel expresses admiration for Barca outcast Dembele Tuchel expresses admiration for Barca outcast Dembele

    Thomas Tuchel has spoken of his admiration for Ousmane Dembele amid reports the Barcelona outcast could be a transfer target for Chelsea.

    Dembele looks to be on his way out of Barca due to a contract stand-off that has turned sour.

    The France winger warned the Catalan giants that he would not be "giving in to any blackmail" after Barca director Mateu Alemany ordered him to find a new club "immediately".

    Dembele is only under contract with the Blaugrana until the end of the season and Alemany declared he expects the 24-year-old to move on before the transfer window closes at the of this month as "we want to have players committed to the project."

    Tuchel saw Dembele's talent first-hand when he played under the Blues boss at Borussia Dortmund in the 2016-17 season before the former Rennes man joined Barca for an initial fee of €105million.

     

    The Barca contract rebel's chances created per game average of 2.36 this season is better than any of the Chelsea squad who can play in the same position, while his dribbles completed (6.69) also compares favourably.

    Dembele has also had more shots per game (4.46) and made more crosses from open play (6.69) than the likes of Hakim Ziyech, Callum Hudson-Odoi and Christian Pulisic.

    And while Tuchel stopped short of declaring his interest in his former player, the Chelsea head coach is well aware of what he is capable of.

    "He is a very good player when he is at his top level," Tuchel said. "I am very fortunate to have trained him in my time at Dortmund.

    "It was only one year; it should have been longer. I needed to leave and he decided to leave. From there we are not in closest contact.

    "We met here and there because of his duties for the French national team and of course I was in Paris so this was more or less when they were preparing for national duties."

    Chelsea face a big Premier League derby with Tottenham at Stamford Bridge on Sunday.

  • Guardiola doubles down on Ward-Prowse wizardry: 'He's the best free-kick taker in the world' Guardiola doubles down on Ward-Prowse wizardry: 'He's the best free-kick taker in the world'

    Pep Guardiola reiterated his admiration for the free-kicks of James Ward-Prowse, insisting the Southampton midfielder is the world's best over dead balls.

    The Manchester City manager described Ward-Prowse as the best free-kick-taker he had ever seen in December 2020 after his side won 1-0 at St Mary's Stadium.

    The England international scored a spectacular long-range goal in the 3-1 loss to Wolves last week that took him to 12 goals from direct free-kicks in the Premier League, a tally bettered only by David Beckham (18) in the history of the competition.

    Since the start of 2012-13, Ward-Prowse's first in England's top flight, only Hakan Calhanoglu (14), Miralem Pjanic (15) and Lionel Messi (33) have scored more often directly from set-pieces. His 12 goals have come from just 90 attempts, though, giving him a 13.3 per cent conversion rate, a figure only bettered by Paulo Dybala (13.5 per cent) among players to score at least 10 such goals in that time.

    Ward-Prowse's repertoire goes beyond spectacular goals, though: he has created 224 chances from set-pieces over the past 10 seasons, providing 19 assists, numbers only beaten by Calhanoglu and Dani Parejo in Europe's top leagues.

    Ahead of Saturday's match on England's south coast, Guardiola again drew attention to the threat the 27-year-old poses.

    "He is the best taker I have ever seen, right now in the world," he said. "No player is a better taker than Ward-Prowse.

    "He is so good, maybe we miss a little bit this quality of a football player: a guy who adapts in the same position, a team player, great quality without the ball, with the ball, understanding the game.

    "Set-pieces and corners are exceptional. We need to pay more attention."

    Beating Southampton away on the final day of the 2017-18 season saw City win their first Premier League title under Guardiola and become the first side in England's top tier to score 100 points in a single season.

    Their latest visit offers the chance of another moment of history, as a draw will see Guardiola reach 500 points since he took charge in 2016. City have already accrued at least 38 more than any other team in the competition in that time, and 108 more than Manchester United.

    However, when asked about the milestone, Guardiola said: "I'm not thinking of this when it hasn't happened. It will happen sooner or later. Southampton.

    "We struggled in the first game last season when we played there. When we played home, we won, but we struggle in the actions. Southampton are a tough team. A real tough team."

    Guardiola, who confirmed Riyad Mahrez has been given a week off after Algeria exited the Africa Cup of Nations, has seen his side build up an 11-point lead at the top of the table with one game to go until the Premier League takes a two-week break.

    He said there will be no warm-weather training camp in Abu Dhabi during that interval due to concerns around coronavirus.

    "We spoke with the club and it’s not safe to go all together with the virus," he said. "Instead, we decided everyone to go for themselves with family and friends."

  • Real Madrid draw Barcelona's conquerors Athletic Bilbao in Copa del Rey quarter-finals Real Madrid draw Barcelona's conquerors Athletic Bilbao in Copa del Rey quarter-finals

    Real Madrid will face Barcelona's conquerors Athletic Bilbao in the pick of the Copa del Rey quarter-final ties.

    The one-legged fixture at San Mames is a repeat of last week's Supercopa de Espana final, which Madrid won 2-0 to secure the first silverware of Carlo Ancelotti's second spell.

    Madrid will now look to take advantage of record 31-time winners Barca's last-16 exit to Athletic, with Iker Muniain's extra-time penalty eliminating the holders in a 3-2 defeat. 

    Friday's draw, which was conducted by Spain legend David Villa, also pitted LaLiga high-flyers Real Sociedad and Real Betis.

    Betis are third in the Spanish top flight after enjoying a sensational campaign thus far, while Sociedad are fifth and themselves in contention for a Champions League spot.

    Valencia will take on Cadiz, meanwhile, and Rayo Vallecano are up against Real Mallorca in the other all-LaLiga quarter-final fixture.

    All four ties will take place in two weeks' time, with the first leg of the semi-finals scheduled for the following week. 

    Copa del Rey quarter-final draw in full:

    Athletic Bilbao v Real Madrid
    Real Sociedad v Real Betis
    Valencia v Cadiz
    Rayo Vallecano v Real Mallorca

© 2022 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.