The Premier League has confirmed rearranged dates for three fixtures that were postponed over the festive period.

In total, 18 matches were postponed over Christmas as rising coronavirus cases at clubs across the league led to large-scale disruption.

The issues have continued into the new year, with the first leg of the EFL Cup semi-final between Liverpool and Arsenal having to be pushed back, while the Reds' FA Cup clash with Shrewsbury Town this weekend is also in doubt.

Three top-flight games were rearranged last week, with Southampton versus Brentford, Everton versus Leicester City and West Ham versus Norwich City to be played on January 11 and 12.

Now, three more games have been confirmed to be taking place the following week, including fixtures for Manchester United and Tottenham.

Brentford host United on January 19, while Leicester and Spurs face each other in the day's other fixture.

January 18 sees Burnley host Watford and Chelsea visit Brighton and Hove Albion.

The latter game was set to take place in February, but has had to be moved forward due to the Blues' participation in the FIFA Club World Cup. The teams drew 1-1 at Stamford Bridge on December 29.

Arsenal's match with Burnley that was planned for Saturday, January 22 has now been pushed back to January 23, with the Gunners set to play Liverpool in the rearranged EFL Cup fixture on January 20.

The first heavyweight tussle of the new year in the Premier League did not disappoint as Chelsea and Liverpool played out an entertaining 2-2 draw at Stamford Bridge.

The Blues were held at home for the fifth time in six league games, a run that includes three straight draws in the top flight for the first time since February 2016.

But Thomas Tuchel's side can be happy with a point after recovering from two goals down as they extended their unbeaten run against the Reds in the league to four matches.

While there was nothing to separate the sides sitting second and third, Brentford, Brighton and Hove Albion and Leeds United were all victorious on Sunday.

Here, Stats Perform unpacks the pick of the Opta data from another eventful day in the Premier League.

Chelsea 2-2 Liverpool: Blues hit back after Salah strikes again

Sadio Mane opened the scoring in a Premier League game for the 37th time since joining Liverpool in 2016-17 – only Tottenham's Harry Kane (40) has done so on more occasions.

However, some will argue that Mane was fortunate to be on the field at that point after catching Cesar Azpilicueta with his elbow after just six seconds.

Mane was instead issued a yellow card with 15 seconds on the clock, making it the earliest booking in a Premier League game since Opta started recording such data in 2006-07, nine seconds faster than the previous quickest caution for Scott McTominay against Newcastle United in December 2019.

Mohamed Salah went on to double Liverpool's lead with his fourth league goal against Chelsea, which is the joint-most any player has scored against the Blues after playing for them, along with Manchester City's Kevin De Bruyne.

Chelsea responded brilliantly with two goals in the space of 245 seconds through a Mateo Kovacic stunner and Christian Pulisic's well-taken strike, ensuring they remain a point above their opponents having played a game more.

This was the fourth occasion in this season's Premier League that a side has failed to win a game in which they have led by two goals, with Liverpool accounting for two of those occasions, having also drawn 2-2 with Brighton in October.


Leeds United 3-1 Burnley: More Maxwell magic not enough

Leeds scored three times in a Premier League game for the first time this season on their way to ending a four-game run without a victory, putting distance between themselves and Burnley in the final relegation spot.

Previously with just one win to their name in the competition since the end of October, Jack Harrison squeezed home for Leeds to open the scoring at Elland Road before Maxwell Cornet equalised through Burnley's first direct free-kick goal since Boxing Day 2017.

That was Cornet's sixth Premier League goal in 10 appearances, the most by an African player in their first 10 games since Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang for Arsenal in April 2018 (also six).

Stuart Dallas restored Leeds' advantage on his 250th appearance for the club in all competitions, becoming the first United player to reach that tally since Lucas Radebe in November 2003.

The much-needed victory was sealed by Daniel James in added time, meaning Leeds are unbeaten in 10 Premier League games against sides starting the day in the relegation zone (W8, D2) since returning to the top flight last season.

As for Burnley, they have now won just one of their last 20 Premier League matches and are winless in 11 on their travels, their worst such run on the road since 17 without a victory between August 2016 and April 2017.


Everton 2-3 Brighton and Hove Albion: Mac Allister inspires soaring Seagulls

The highest-scoring game of the day in the Premier League took place at Goodison Park, where Everton suffered defeat in their opening league game of a calendar year for the fifth year running, their worst such streak since a run of seven between 1957 and 1963.

Brighton's opening goal via Alexis Mac Allister after two minutes and 43 seconds was the Seagulls' fastest-ever away from home in the competition, and their third-fastest overall.

Dan Burn doubled the visitors' lead on Merseyside, shortly before the returning Dominic Calvert-Lewin became the 22nd different player to miss a Premier League penalty for the Toffees – only Arsenal (23) have more.

Anthony Gordon scored his first senior goal to give Everton a bit of hope, only for Mac Allister to register for a second time as Brighton moved to 27 points after 19 games – their joint-best return at this stage of a top-flight campaign alongside 1981-82.

It was another afternoon to forget for Rafael Benitez, however, with Everton having now picked up only 19 points from 18 games, which is their worst return at this stage since accruing 17 from 18 matches in 2005-06.

Brentford 2-1 Aston Villa: Bees bounce back again

Comeback experts Brentford hit back to beat Villa late on thanks to goals from Yoane Wissa and Mads Roerslev after Danny Ings had opened the scoring in west London.

Only West Ham (12) and Everton (11) have won more points from losing positions in the Premier League this term than Brentford, who have now recovered nine points in total.

That is in complete contrast to a Villa side that have lost more games in the competition since the start of last season after scoring first than any other side (eight).

Ings has now opened the scoring in more different English top-flight games since the start of 2019-20 than any player (18), but that early strike was not enough for Steven Gerrard's men.

Wissa's equaliser was Brentford's first Premier League goal from outside the box and full-back Roerslev, who set up that strike, completed the turnaround to become the second Bees player to score and assist in the same game in the competition for the club after Ivan Toney.

Chelsea scraped past Brentford 2-0 in the EFL Cup quarter-finals after Pontus Jansson scored an own goal and Jorginho converted a penalty in the final 10 minutes. 

Just as they did in the Premier League meeting between these sides back in October, Chelsea dominated possession but struggled to create any decent openings. 

Kepa Arrizabalaga did well to keep out Yoane Wissa and Mathias Jensen in the first half, with Thomas Tuchel forced to call upon senior players as he chased the game in the second period. 

The game looked destined for penalties until Jansson put through his own net in the 80th minute and Jorginho put the result beyond doubt when he slotted home a spot-kick. 

West Ham have been handed an EFL Cup quarter-final trip to Tottenham after dumping long-time holders Manchester City out of the competition.

David Moyes' men beat City on penalties on Wednesday to ensure the Premier League champions will not win the trophy for a fifth year in a row, and now a London derby awaits them for a place in the last four. Tottenham reached this stage by eliminating Burnley.

Three of the four ties will be played in the capital, with Arsenal drawn to face League One outfit Sunderland, the only EFL team left in the competition, and Brentford given a home game against Chelsea.

Sunderland knocked out QPR in a penalty shoot-out to reach the last eight, while Arsenal saw off Leeds United. Brentford were victorious at Stoke City, and Chelsea edged past Southampton on spot-kicks.

Liverpool's 2-0 win at Preston North End sets up Jurgen Klopp's team for a shot at Leicester City, with the Reds drawn at home for the tussle with Brendan Rodgers' team.

All ties are due to be played in the week commencing December 20.

Liverpool are looking to win the competition for a fourth time in the 21st century, and for a record ninth time in all. The Reds and Manchester City currently have the most titles in this competition, with eight apiece.

Leicester have won the EFL Cup on three previous occasions, most recently in 2000 when they beat another Merseyside club, Tranmere Rovers, in the last EFL Cup final to be played at the old Wembley Stadium, prior to its demolition.


EFL Cup quarter-final draw:

Tottenham v West Ham

Arsenal v Sunderland

Brentford v Chelsea

Liverpool v Leicester City

Defending champions Manchester City will travel to West Ham in the EFL Cup fourth round, while Arsenal host Leeds United.

Pep Guardiola's men are in search of an unprecedented fifth successive triumph in the competition and they will face Hammers, who beat City's rivals Manchester United 1-0 in round three on Wednesday.

Arsenal cruised to a 3-0 victory over League One AFC Wimbledon and they take on Leeds at the Emirates Stadium next after Marcelo Bielsa's side edged past Fulham on penalties.

There are five all-Premier League ties in total, with Leicester City pitted against Brighton and Hove Albion after being defeated at the weekend in the top flight by Graham Potter's men.

European champions Chelsea needed penalties to sneak past Aston Villa and they will host Southampton, who also required spot-kicks to defeat Sheffield United.

Burnley crushed Rochdale 4-1, but a much tougher task awaits them as they face Tottenham after their shoot-out triumph over Nuno Espirito Santo's former club Wolves, while Brentford meet Stoke City away from home in the next round.

Liverpool make the trip to Deepdale to do battle with Championship side Preston North End, who demolished Cheltenham Town 4-1 on Tuesday.

There will be at least one non-top-flight side in the last-eight stage as Sunderland face Queens Park Rangers after Mark Warburton's men upset Everton.

The fourth-round clashes are set to take place during the week commencing October 25.

EFL Cup draw:

Chelsea v Southampton

Arsenal v Leeds United

Stoke City v Brentford

West Ham v Manchester City

Leicester City v Brighton and Hove Albion

Burnley v Tottenham

Queens Park Rangers v Sunderland

Preston North End v Liverpool

Real Madrid's desire to sign a new forward is not a secret.

The Spanish giants missed out on silverware in 2020-21, much to their dismay.

Carlo Ancelotti has replaced Zinedine Zidane as head coach with big expectations.

 

TOP STORY - MADRID TARGET SALAH IF MBAPPE FAILS

Ancelotti has told Real Madrid president Florentino Perez he wants to sign Liverpool's Mohamed Salah , reports Fichajes.

The Italian believes Los Blancos needs another forward, with Salah seen as his back-up plan if they fail to land Paris Saint-Germain's Kylian Mbappe.

Madrid's financial situation is complicated, with the club not making any major signings in 2020-21 amid the fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic, but they appear determined to land a major forward this off-season.

 

ROUND-UP

- 90min reports that Manchester United's Jesse Lingard has emerged as a target for Spanish champions Atletico Madrid, having caught Diego Simeone's eye during his loan spell at West Ham United.

- Chelsea have shopped around striker Tammy Abraham and Arsenal are interested, according to The Telegraph.

- The Athletic believes Tottenham may make a move for Roma midfielder Lorenzo Pellegrini, although he has a £26m (€30m) release clause.

-  Poor relations between Spurs and Southampton, stemming from 2020's Pierre-Emile Hjobjerg deal, may scupper a proposed move for Danny Ings, according to Standard Sport.

- Newly promoted Brentford are set to splash a club record transfer fee of £13.5m to land Celtic defender Kristoffer Ajer, claims The Telegraph.

Lionel Messi lifted the Copa America on Saturday in Brazil.

But back in Europe, rumours continue to swirl about his future.

The 34-year-old forward is out of contract though the latest development suggests a resolution is in sight.

 

TOP STORY - NEW BARCELONA DEAL LOOMS FOR MESSI

AS reports that LaLiga have authorized Barcelona to register Lionel Messi despite the club's financial concerns.

Messi became a free agent last week with Barcelona working on a new deal, pending their financial constraints having been impacted heavily by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Paris Saint-Germain had been linked with a swoop for Messi but the approval of the authorities to register Messi is a strong indication he will stay.

 

ROUND-UP

- Highly sought-after Saul Niguez is being considered in a swap deal between Barcelona and Atletico Madrid, which would include Antoine Griezmann, claims Football Espana. Liverpool were linked with Niguez earlier this week.

- Chelsea have joined the race for Rennes teenage talent Eduardo Camavinga, alongside Manchester United, Arsenal and Real Madrid, according to Le Parisien.

- Manchester United are ready to spend £17m to sign Napoli's right-back Giovanni di Lorenzo following the Euro 2020 final, reports Il Napolista.

- Fabrizio Romano reports that veteran Italian defender Giorgio Chiellini will sign a new one-year extension with Juventus after the completion of Euro 2020.

- Newly promoted Watford are keen on Udinese's Danish star Jens Stryger Larsen after he impressed during Euro 2020, reports 90min.

- Newly promoted Brentford are preparing a £10m bid for Liverpool's Harry Wilson claims The Sun.

Jamaica international and Swansea City forward, Jamal Lowe, has admitted that missing out on promotion to the English Premier League (EPL) was a major heartbreak, following a tough loss to Brentford on Saturday.

Swansea were in the automatic promotion spots for most of the season but fell away in the closing weeks.  Against Brentford, whose 2-0 secured their promotion to the topflight English football for the first time in the club’s history, it was more of the same. Ivan Toney put away a coolly struck penalty to give them the lead early on before a cool Emiliano Marcondes strike increased the lead.  Swansea perhaps, overawed by the occasion, offered no reply. To add insult to injury Jay Fulton was sent off midway through the second half.

Taking to social media, Lowe acknowledged that the loss had been difficult but insists the team’s resolve was not shaken after failure to return to the topflight.

“Been an emotional few days.  But this feeling can only fuel us for next season!  Thank you for all the support and welcoming in my first year at the club.  Recover, recharge and go again,” Lowe posted to Instagram.

Lowe scored 14 goals for Swansea this season and played in all 49 league games.

 

Brentford captain Pontus Jansson heaped praise on Leeds United manager Marcelo Bielsa after the Bees were promoted to the Premier League for the first time.

Ivan Toney's penalty, swiftly followed by a fierce first-time strike from Emiliano Marcondes, secured a 2-0 win for Brentford in the Championship play-off final against Swansea City.

Brentford lost to Fulham at the same stage last year, Jansson's first with the club after leaving Bielsa's Leeds, who were promoted as champions and have this term enjoyed a spectacular return to the Premier League, finishing ninth.

But, speaking to Sky Sports, Jansson explained how what he learned from Bielsa played a pivotal role in Brentford ending a 74-year absence from the top flight.

"Last year a lot of Leeds fans was against me, this year so many Leeds fans have been with me and with Brentford, probably because they are already there and they wanted me to come and join them," Jansson said.

"I love Leeds, Brentford fans know I love Leeds, Leeds is one of the favourite clubs I have, of course I love Brentford as much, I'm so proud, I'm so happy, I could go home to Sweden and retire because this is what I've dreamt of for such a long time since I came to England, finally of course I will not go home, I will stay here and hopefully play Premier League football.

"I'm so thankful to Bielsa for what he gave me at Leeds, he gave me so much knowledge that I actually brought to Brentford and Brentford was so willing to listen to me and my ideas that I took from Bielsa.

 

"I thank him a lot because he's one of the best coaches in the world. People think mine and his relationship is not the best but it is, I'm so thankful to him."

Brentford scored 79 goals in the 46-game Championship season, the most in the division, increasing the tally for the campaign to 84 with their efforts in the play-offs.

The Bees scored 73 non-penalty goals across 49 matches, underperforming their xG of 74.4 but playing an expansive style of football reflective of what Jansson experienced at Leeds.

 

Toney was the talisman behind their promotion, his spot-kick taking him to 33 goals in a remarkable campaign. Twenty-two of those goals came from 135 non-penalty shots with an xG of 20.7.

Asked about what he could do in front of goal in the top tier, Toney replied: "I don't know, who knows what's to come.

"I'm a Premier League striker now and I can't wait to score goals in the Prem."

Brentford secured promotion to the Premier League for the first time in their history with a 2-0 victory over Swansea City in the Championship play-off final.

The Bees lost at this stage last season to London rivals Fulham but were in no mood to be denied this time around and were 2-0 up inside 20 minutes.

Ivan Toney's 10th-minute penalty, his 33rd goal of an amazing campaign, opened the scoring and Brentford's lead was doubled by Emiliano Marcondes just under 10 minutes later.

Swansea were much improved in the second half, but Jay Fulton's red card effectively sealed victory for Brentford as they clinched a first promotion to the top flight since 1935, ending their 74-year absence from the highest domestic level having been relegated back in 1947.

Toney had scored all 10 of his previous penalties this season and never looked likely to err after goalkeeper Freddie Woodman felled Bryan Mbeumo when he was played in by Sergi Canos' superb reverse pass.

He duly made it 11 from 11 by calmly slotting beyond former Newcastle United team-mate Woodman and into the bottom-left corner, with Toney's record from the spot the best of any player in England's top four tiers in all competitions.

Swansea struggled to respond to that early setback and they were soon given a mountain to climb when Mads Rasmussen expertly picked out Marcondes at the end of a counter-attack and the Dane rifled a fine finish into the bottom-right corner.

And the Bees were almost out of sight as Toney cracked a spectacular volley against the underside of the crossbar, with Woodman grateful to see the ball bounce on the line and out.

Swansea did stem the tide thereafter and went close in the final minute of normal time in the first half as Andre Ayew sent a header off the top of the bar before starting the second half by skewing a diving header wide from Connor Roberts' cross.

Jamal Lowe crafted some promising openings for the Swans but Fulton was shown a straight red card for a reckless challenge on Mathias Jensen, giving Brentford fans cause to start the celebrations early on a landmark day for the club.

What does it mean? Brentford make it a half-century of Premier League clubs

Swansea were looking to end a three-season stay in the second tier following Premier League relegation in 2018, but Brentford will instead make their debut in the division, becoming the 50th different club to grace the league since its inception in 1992.

Their 86 years between promotions to the top flight is the second-longest gap behind Bradford City, who ended a wait of 91 years in 1999.

Ivan sets the tone

The composure Toney displayed in converting from the spot showed him to be a player ready for the magnitude of the occasion and only the woodwork prevented him from magnificently ending the game as a contest in the first half.

Just one player, Cambridge United's Paul Mullin (34), has scored more goals in all competitions than Toney this season. Brentford will hope his prolific form translates to the Premier League as they bid to stay up next season.

Woodman gets it wrong

Woodman had to be sure he was going to get the ball when he came off his line to challenge Mbeumo. His misjudgement swiftly swung the game in Brentford's favour. Though he could do little about the second goal, this was a day to forget for a goalkeeper likely to be in demand in the transfer window.

What's next?

Brentford could start the season against the European champions, with games against Manchester City and Chelsea on the horizon. For Swansea, it's another term in the Championship, with the likes of Peterborough United and Luton Town lying in wait.

Kylian Mbappe wants time to make a decision on his future as Real Madrid await a signal from the Paris Saint-Germain star.

Mbappe, 22, has been linked with a move to Madrid and his contract at PSG ends in 2022.

But will the forward end up at the Santiago Bernabeu?

 

TOP STORY – REAL MADRID WAIT FOR MBAPPE

Real Madrid are waiting for a signal from Paris Saint-Germain star Kylian Mbappe, according to Marca.

The report says Mbappe has asked for time to decide his future.

While Madrid have been most strongly linked with a move for Mbappe, Liverpool are also reportedly interested.

ROUND-UP

- Staying at Madrid and Fabrizio Romano says a new contract for midfielder Luka Modric is imminent. The Croatian midfielder's current deal expires at the end of the season.

- Dele Alli's future is set to be a constant talking point until at least the end of this transfer window. ESPN claims Tottenham chairman Daniel Levy is reluctant to let the midfielder leave for PSG. Romano reports Spurs are still looking for a replacement and were working on re-signing Christian Eriksen, but Inter wanted a loan fee and the midfielder's salary paid in full.

- Lyon star Houssem Aouar was linked to Arsenal last close season, but the midfielder could head elsewhere. Gianluca Di Marzio reports Juventus are looking at the 22-year-old as an option ahead of the 2021-22 campaign.

- Lucas Torreira seems set to move on from Atletico Madrid. Diario AS says Monaco are favourites to sign the midfielder, who is on loan at Atletico from Arsenal.

- Said Benrahma has made an impression at West Ham. Sky Sports reports West Ham have converted their loan for Benrahma from Brentford into a permanent move, paying £20million plus add-ons. The report says West Ham are also in talks to sign RB Leipzig forward Hwang Hee-chan.

Jose Mourinho labelled Son Heung-min a "special player" after Tottenham reached the EFL Cup final on Tuesday.

Moussa Sissoko and Son scored as Spurs recorded a 2-0 win over Brentford, who were reduced to 10 men after Josh Dasilva's late red card.

Only Harry Kane (17) has scored more goals in all competitions this season than Son (16) among Premier League players.

Mourinho lauded the forward, who had more key passes (three) and shots on target (two) than any other player against Brentford.

"That's the humility of a player. That's Sonny. That's the human nature. He's like that. Some other guys they are not like that. For him it's the team," the Spurs head coach told a news conference.

"For him, for [Harry] Kane, for Lucas [Moura], for many the team is first and of course we depend a lot on the characteristics of some players. Sonny is one of them.

"He had two chances. He had a good volley. I saw the ball in the net but unfortunately, I was wrong and the ball went out. Then he faced the keeper in a difficult moment of the game, where the game is open.

"The opponent is trying and pushing and he goes and he kills the game. So special player but also a special human being."

Spurs' next outing is a trip to non-league side Marine in the FA Cup on Sunday.

Jose Mourinho hailed a win of huge importance after Tottenham overcame Brentford 2-0 to reach the EFL Cup final.

Moussa Sissoko and Son Heung-min were on target to see Spurs past their Championship opponents, who finished with 10 men after Josh Dasilva was dismissed for a challenge that left Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg with a gashed shin.

Tottenham have not won a piece of major silverware since lifting this trophy back in 2008 and it is a competition Mourinho has won four times.

The last of those came with Manchester United in 2017, with his former club taking on holders Manchester City in Wednesday's semi-final.

"It's a game that takes us to a final. Probably, I hope not, but probably an empty Wembley final but a Wembley final," Mourinho told Sky Sports, casting doubt on the EFL's ambitions to have a crowd at its rearranged April showpiece.

"I'm very, very happy with that. Of course we had matches this year against the biggest clubs in the country, we had London derbies, but this one is one that got us in a final

"I would consider that a very important match for us. Now we have this final in the pocket for a few months.

"We have to forget it and focus on what we have to play in the FA Cup, the Premier League and Europa League."

Brentford fell foul of a marginal VAR offside call when Ivan Toney thought he had equalised after the hour and Mourinho conceded it was not a vintage Tottenham display.

"Solid enough to win," he said. "The game was way under control. They had an offside goal and one penetration on the right-hand side.

"We did not play brilliantly with the ball. Sometimes the wrong decision, sometimes one more touch and not that soft control that allows you to play fast.

"But the game was always under control against a team who are probably coming here next year to play in the Premier League."

Tottenham booked a place in the EFL Cup final as Moussa Sissoko and Son Heung-min got the goals in a 2-0 victory over Brentford.

Thomas Frank's Championship promotion-chasers headed into the match bolstered by a 16-match unbeaten run and victories over four other Premier League sides in this season's competition, but Sissoko's 12th-minute header punctured any early enthusiasm.

The visitors posed enough questions of Spurs in their usual eloquent style and Ivan Toney had a 63rd-minute header disallowed for offside.

Son then streaked clear of their defence to hammer home his 16th goal of the season and grant Tottenham boss Jose Mourinho his latest shot at silverware.

Brentford finshed with 10 men after Josh Dasilva's ugly lunge caught Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg.

They had given themselves an uphill task by allowing Sissoko far too much room to glance home Sergio Reguilon's left-wing cross in a first half of few chances.

Toney outmuscled Davinson Sanchez to get on the end of Bryan Mbeumo's floated 34th-minute delivery, although Hugo Lloris was equal to a looping header.

The Brentford striker arguably caused his own goalkeeper more discomfort when Lucas Moura's header from Son's corner spun off Toney, with David Raya saving superbly as he tumbled backwards to his left.

Serge Aurier made a vital last-ditch challenge to thwart Toney after Mbeumo got the better of Sanchez five minutes into the second half.

Aurier and Son spurned presentable chances and Toney thought he had equalised for Brentford, only for a VAR review to show he was fractionally offside.

That close shave roused Spurs from their second-half torpor and Harry Kane combined with Tanguy Ndombele for the latter to slide Son through for an emphatic finish.

A spirited Brentford were sapped by that strike and needed another impressive intervention from Raya to prevent Kane from adding further gloss to the scoreline.

Dasilva was deservedly dismissed six minutes from time after leaving Hojbjerg with an ugly gash on his shin.

What does it mean? Mourinho's League Cup love affair continues

Mourinho has lifted the three-handled trophy on four occasions and it was his first honour in English football with Chelsea back in 2005. It was also the last major prize Spurs were able to collect, back in 2008. Victory over either of the other semi-final combatants - his former club Manchester United or Pep Guardiola and holders Manchester City - would surely by richly enjoyed by Mourinho if he and his players can complete the job at Wembley in April.

What's next?

Both sides turn their attention towards the FA Cup this weekend, with Brentford hosting Championship counterparts Middlesbrough and Spurs travelling to non-league Marine in the most intriguing tie of the third round.

Teams will be allowed to make five substitutions from nine players on the bench for the EFL Cup semi-finals and final. 

The change in the rule was introduced following consultation with Manchester United, Manchester City, Tottenham and Brentford, the four semi-finalists in the 2020-21 competition. 

VAR will also be introduced, having not been involved in previous rounds. 

The EFL added in a statement on Monday: "Each team is only permitted a maximum of three opportunities (excluding half time, full time and half time of extra time) to make substitutions during normal time. However, if a tie goes to extra time, an additional opportunity to use a substitute(s) will also be permitted but only from the five substitutes allowed." 

The decision comes despite Premier League clubs voting against the option of using five substitutes in a single game in England's top flight, a rule which has been adopted in other major competitions across Europe this season. 

City boss Pep Guardiola has been among the more vocal in his criticism of not continuing the five-sub rule, which was temporarily introduced into the Premier League following the resumption of the 2019-20 season after the coronavirus-enforced shutdown. 

City face United at Old Trafford on Wednesday, with Spurs hosting Brentford 24 hours earlier. 

This season's semi-finals will be one-legged and go to extra time and penalties if required, rather than the traditional two-legged ties, due to the congested fixture schedule caused by the disruption to the football calendar. 

The final was moved from February to April, when it is hoped some fans may be allowed to attend.

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