Player ratings as Foxes jump into second place with battling win over Saints

Leicester City battled to a hard-fought 2-0 victory over Southampton on Saturday evening, lifting themselves into second place in the Premier League table.

The Foxes came under some pressure in the first half, but they broke the deadlock on 37 minutes, when James Maddison slipped his marker, charged into the box and fired a vicious shot beyond Alex McCarthy.

Southampton pressed Leicester in the second half, but the hosts defended well and kept the Saints quiet for long periods of the game.

The visitors could not find a way through the Foxes’ stubborn backline, and a late Harvey Barnes strike meant that a 2-0 win propelled Brendan Rodgers’ men into second place in the Premier League table.

Let’s check out the player ratings from a gritty evening at the King Power Stadium.

Kasper Schmeichel (GK) – 8/10 – Couple of nervy moments with the ball at his feet. Got a good hand to a fierce Bertrand shot, even if he got a touch lucky that it sailed over the bar. Solid.

James Justin (RB) – 8/10 – Impressed in front of the watching England boss, hardly putting a foot wrong in any of his duties. Gareth Southgate must have been satisfied.

Wesley Fofana (CB) – 7/10 – Pretty solid but picked up a yellow and looked destined for a red throughout his tussles with Adams and Walcott. Substituted early in the second half – potentially took a knock.

Jonny Evans (CB) – 8/10 – The sensible, steady head alongside the aggressive and front foot defending Fofana. Kept his calm, even in the hairier moments of the game.

Timothy Castagne (LB) – 7/10 – Got stuck in and did an excellent job at nullifying Saints’ wide players, stopping crosses and supporting his wingers.

Wilfred Ndidi (CM) – 7/10 – Leicester always look so much better with Ndidi in the side. Helped the Foxes get a foothold and stopped the combative Diallo from pulling Saints up the pitch.

Youri Tielemans (CM) – 8/10 – Slipped the ball through to Maddison with great timing and weight. So classy in possession and rarely wastes a pass. Got the assist for the second, too. A lovely player.

James Maddison (CM) – 8/10 – Great run and powerful finish from an acute angle to open the scoring. Had a couple of other cracks at goal, too. Just what Leicester needed.

Mark Albrighton (RW) – 7/10 – Provided his usual industry at both ends of the pitch. Picked up a yellow for a naughty challenge at the end of the first half.

Jamie Vardy (ST) – 7/10 – Made plenty of darting runs in behind as Leicester looked to counter against tiring legs. The chances never quite fell for the wily fox, though. Next time…

Harvey Barnes (LW) – 8/10 – A constant threat throughout. Ran his marker ragged, and managed to get plenty of crosses in, even when marked extremely tightly. Killed the game in injury time with a calm finish.

Çağlar Söyüncü (CB) – 7/10

Ayoze Perez (CM) – 6/10

Yan Valery (RM) – N/A

Alex McCarthy (GK) – 6/10 – Will be disappointed to have been beaten at his near post by Maddison’s strike, but it was expertly struck. Exposed for the second.

Kyle Walker-Peters (RB) – 6/10 – Endured a tough afternoon against Barnes on that flank, but did as best as he could to reduce the pacy winger’s damage.

Jan Bednarek (CB) – 7/10 – Defended well, and headed brilliantly off the line to deny Barnes in the latter stages, keeping Southampton in the contest.

Jack Stephens (CB) – 5/10 – At fault for Maddison’s opener, allowing the midfielder to turn and wriggle free of his grip in the penalty area. Can’t be letting that happen.

Ryan Bertrand (LB) – 7/10 – Almost brought Southampton level with a thunderous strike at goal, but Schmeichel just about kept it out.

Will Smallbone (RM) – 6/10 – Hit a curler which tested the Leicester keeper. Forced off through injury midway through the second half. Fingers crossed it’s nothing serious.

Ibrahima Diallo (CM) – 6/10 – Felt he was fouled in the buildup to Leicester’s first-half strike, but his pleas were ignored. He probably had a point. Lucky not to get a second yellow for another bookable offence in the second half.

James Ward-Prowse (CM) – 7/10 – Put in some wicked deliveries from set-pieces. Kept Saints ticking over in midfield, rarely gave the ball away and used his time in possession wisely. Becoming a master of the art.

Stuart Armstrong (LM) – 7/10 – Thundered a tremendous shot against the crossbar as Southampton began to create chances late on.

Theo Walcott (ST) – 6/10 – Missed a difficult chance on the rebound, but couldn’t quite adjust his feet in time.

Che Adams (ST) – 6/10 – Busy, as always. Darted around, pressed and put his body on the line. Final decision making just not quite there at crucial times, however.

Dan N’Lundulu (ST) – 6/10

Shane Long (ST) – 6/10

Kelechi Iheanacho (ST) – N/A

Jose Mourinho refuses to answer questions about possible Dele Alli exit

Tottenham head coach Jose Mourinho would not comment on the future of Dele Alli in his latest press conference, amid continued speculation that a loan move away from north London is on the cards.

The 37-cap England international has been a peripheral figure at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium throughout the 2020/21 season, despite initially recapturing his best form after Mourinho succeeded Mauricio Pochettino as boss in November 2019.

Dele has played just 12 games in all competitions, but crucially has appeared just four times in the Premier League. Instead, he has seen the majority of his action in second string Tottenham sides used in the Europa League, and played just 65 minutes of the FA Cup third round tie against eighth tier Marine before he was sacrificed for Gareth Bale.

A reunion with Pochettino at Paris Saint-Germain has been mooted, but Mourinho remained tight lipped when probed about his future ahead of Spurs’ Premier League clash with Sheffield United.

“It’s not a question that I’m comfortable to answer you,” Mourinho said. “Of course, I will know how to answer you. But I’m not ready to answer, I’m not ready to make public my my vision of the situation. I’m sorry about that, but I’m not going to answer.

When asked whether Spurs would like to replace any player who leaves, Mourinho remained defiant – suggesting the remark put to him was merely another way to get an answer about where Dele’s future may lie.

“You are asking that question in a general way. But you are, of course, speaking about Dele so the question that you are asking me is if I would let that go without getting a player in exchange? And I’m not going to answer that question to you.

Mourinho then fielded questions around Dele’s general happiness, after a picture posted on the player’s Instagram page after the midweek draw against Fulham suggested the 24-year-old was rather fed up with life. The Portuguese boss simply said that every dressing room has players who aren’t pleased with their situation, but some choose to react and behave differently to others.

“I think in every dressing room are unhappy players. For sure, if any one of my tribe tells you that in his dressing room are only happy players, I don’t think is true. Or somebody is so so lucky to have a miracle in his hands, because I believe that in every dressing room, there are unhappy players.

“Then you can have an unhappy professional and the unhappy professional is the one that is unhappy, but feels that his duty is to work, work, work and work. And there is the unhappy that believes that is not his job, to fight and to work every minute for the squad and for the club. But unhappy players you have everywhere in every club. I promise you that.”

Mourinho concluded with a word on Bale, who has failed to hit the ground running during his loan spell back at the club after a succession of injuries. Again though, he remained coy on specifics, and instead praised the Welshman’s character by speaking fondly of him as a person.

“Gareth Bale is a player I always loved. In fact, he went to Real Madrid one season later because I spoke with with the president when when I was there. He is a guy that I like very much as a person, is a really really nice guy and a dressing room. The reasons why he didn’t reach in this period the level that Tottenham supporters remember him is a complex, complex answer.

“I believe that if Gareth was here on my side we could we do try to speak a little bit about it, but just by myself I’m not comfortable.

Real Madrid may have been woeful in Athletic Club defeat, but Eden Hazard’s performance is reason to smile

When Real Madrid signed Eden Hazard from Chelsea in 2019, there was a real belief that he could be the catalyst for future success.

After a trophy-laden period which saw Zinedine Zidane’s side notch no fewer than three Champions League crowns in as many years, the departure of Cristiano Ronaldo in 2018 spelt the end of an era at Santiago Bernabeu.

Naturally, the loss of the superstar saw Real encounter some teething problems, and in their first season without the Portuguese goal machine Real finished a disappointing third in La Liga and were dumped out of the Champions League in the last 16.

The arrival of Hazard was hardly a knee-jerk reaction to their poor campaign – Los Blancos had been courting the Belgian for some time – though he was still seen as the man to bring the spark back to the capital.

18 months on and Hazard has mustered a measly 22 La Liga appearances in the famous white of Madrid, notching just two goals in the process.

Admittedly, injuries have plagued the 30-year-old’s time in Spain, and even this season he’s managed little over four hours of league football. However, his appearance in the Spanish Super Cup semi final against Athletic Club on Thursday night was his fourth game in little over a fortnight – just the second time since arriving in Spain that he’s played more than three consecutive games.

In a week where Zidane sanctioned the departure of Luka Jovic to former club Eintracht Frankfurt, Madrid’s attacking options suddenly look threadbare, but – despite a truly abject team performance – Hazard’s display against Athletic was a timely reminder that he still has a huge part to play at the club.

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The former Chelsea man looked lively from the off, stinging the fingertips of Athletic goalkeeper Unai Simon before a beautiful give and go with Casemiro which very nearly broke the deadlock, only for Hazard to be denied with a last-ditch challenge.

One thing which became abundantly clear as the game wore on was that the Belgium international was playing with the sort of swagger and confidence that we’d become so accustomed to seeing during his time at Chelsea.

Far from being stuck out on the left wing, Hazard drifted across the forward line all game, picking up little pockets of space on the half-turn where he could probe and look to cause mischief.

He very nearly helped give Madrid a foothold in the game when his clever movement saw him elude the opposition backline, before showing the presence of mind to cut the ball back to Marcos Asensio, only for the Spaniard to rattle the post with his left-footed effort.

The movement and the intelligence to pick out his teammate was top class, and in truth it deserved so much more.

While Zidane’s side were absolutely woeful on the night, the one shining light for them was the display of Hazard. He lasted just short of 70 minutes – his second longest run out of the season – and it was abundantly clear that there’s still magic in those boots.

If Hazard can continue to play regularly, it won’t be long before he’s back to full fitness and he can be a huge part of Real Madrid’s season.

Player ratings as Spurs labour to yet another draw

There was an overwhelming sense of déjà vu at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium on Wednesday night as Fulham came back from a goal down to grab a well earned draw with Spurs.

The first half saw Tottenham dominate possession and create a handful of chances – drawing two fantastic saves from Fulham keeper Alphonse Areola. It took a brilliant swinging cross from flying full-back Segio Reguilon which was met by Harry Kane to break the deadlock.

However, It was Fulham that started the second half the brighter of the two teams, with Ruben Loftus-Cheek, in particular, causing problems for the Tottenham back line.

Fulham brought on frontman Ademola Lookman with just over 20 minutes remaining and his impact was almost instantaneous. The tricky winger beat Davinson Sanchez to the line before hanging up a tantalising cross which Ivan Cavaleiro willingly headed home.

Here are your player ratings from Tottenham Hotspur Stadium…

Hugo Lloris (GK) – 7/10 – Untroubled for large parts of the game, nothing he could have done about the goal and denied Loftus-Cheek late on

Serge Aurier (RB) – 6/10 – Loose in possession at times but put in two wicked crosses for Son and Kane. Potentially caught out of position for the Fulham equaliser.

Davinson Sánchez (CB) – 5/10 – Made a vital block but was beaten too easily by Lookman for the Fulham equaliser.

Eric Dier (CB) – 6/10 – Read the game well and made several important headers, his distribution from the back was wayward at times and he lost Cavaleiro when it mattered.

Sergio Reguilón (LB) – 8/10 – Had a chance early in the game which he should’ve converted, but delivered an unbelievable cross for Kane’s goal. Caused Fulham problems whenever he burst forward (which was often).

Harry Winks (CM) – 6/10 – Kept the ball ticking over well but didn’t have the effect on the game which he would have liked.

Emile Højbjerg (CM) – 6/10 – Did what he does best and cleaned up after others, and also provided a wonderful pre-assist for Kane’s goal. He did, however, miss a big chance to win the game.

Tanguy Ndombele (CM) – 8/10 – Ran the show until half-time. When Spurs dropped deeper he struggled to get on the ball and make any real impact.

Moussa Sissoko (RW) – 6/10 – Brilliant running from Sissoko dug Spurs out of hole on a few occasions, but the question remains whether he is the right man in games like this.

Son Heung-min (LW) – 5/10 – Harsh? Maybe. But Son needs to take chances when they come his way. Simply put, he was wasteful on Wednesday evening.

Harry Kane (ST) – 7/10 – Produced some brilliant touches all over the pitch and a great headed goal. He should’ve made it two shortly after, but we can forgive him for that because of all the hard yards he put in on the night.

Erik Lamela – 6/10 – Lots of energy – and sliding tackles – but the game had become scrappy by the time he was introduced.

Carlos Vinicius – 5/10 – Again, lot of energy but Spurs had lost their rhythm by the time he was introduced.

Alphonse Areola (GK) – 8/10 – Kept Fulham in the game with some brilliant saves on the night.

Ola Aina (CB) – 6/10 – Looked comfortable throughout.

Joachim Andersen (CB) – 6/10 – Looked comfortable in possession and managed the threat of Kane and Son well in the second half.

Tosin Adarabioyo (CB) – 6/10 – Gave away possession cheaply in the first half which almost cost Fulham, but grew into the game in the second half.

Tete (RWB) – 6/10 – Put in a good cross for Loftus-Cheek at one point, but lost Reguilon for the Spurs opener.

Harrison Reed (CM) – 6/10 – Tidy in possession, broke up play well and made clever fouls when he needed to.

André-Frank Zambo Anguissa – 7/10 – Picked up a booking in the first half but was solid throughout.

Antonee Robinson (LWB) – 7/10 – Great energy throughout the match and his marauding runs kept Aurier busy.

Bobby Decordova-Reid (RW) – 6/10 – Had a quiet game by his standards.

Ruben Loftus-Cheek (ST) – 8/10 – Fulham looked a threat when he was in possession. The big midfielder (turned striker) looked confident on the ball and caused Spurs problems all night; could he make a late break for the England team?

Ivan Cavaleiro (LW) – 8/10 – Held up play incredibly well despite the limited service, and took his chance with a great header when it finally came.

Ademola Lookman – 7/10 – Came on and made an instant impact, beating Sanchez to the line and putting in a lovely cross for the equaliser.

Josh Onomah – N/A – Was only on the pitch for three minutes.

Player ratings as Pogba strike sends Red Devils top

Manchester United went top of the Premier League as Paul Pogba’s deflected second-half volley gave them a 1-0 win over Burnley at Turf Moor on Tuesday night.

The first half was dominated by VAR controversy and little else. First, Robbie Brady’s yellow card – which was being checked for a possible red – was overturned when a Luke Shaw foul was spotted in the buildup.

Soon after, Harry Maguire had his header ruled out by referee Kevin Friend, with the technology failing to overturn what looked like a harsh decision.

After the break, United were much improved and got their reward when Pogba volleyed home Marcus Rashford’s cross via a Matt Lowton deflection.

Here are you player ratings from Turf Moor…

Nick Pope (GK) – 7/10 – Made one exceptional save from Anthony Martial in the first half. Was impressive throughout and there was nothing he could do about the goal.

Matt Lowton (RB) – 6/10 – A fairly solid display. He was unlucky to deflect Pogba’s shot past Pope.

James Tarkowski (CB) – 6/10 – Did his job well, dealing with balls in the air and on the floor. Fluffed a massive chance to equalise in the dying moments.

Ben Mee (CB) – 7/10 – His flying overhead kick to try and keep Maguire’s header out was nothing short of heroic.

Erik Pieters (LB) – 5/10 – His slack marking allowed Rashford all the time in the world to pick out Pogba for the goal.

Johann Berg Gudmundsson (RM) – 6/10 – One of the only Burnley players to try to travel with the ball, but to no avail ultimately.

Josh Brownhill (CM) – 6/10 – Did well to limit United’s progression in the first half, racking up two interceptions. Struggled to contain Pogba and Fernandes after the break.

Ashley Westwood (CM) – 6/10 – As above, although he went about his business in a less eye-catching fashion.

Robbie Brady (LM) – 6/10 – His archetypal ‘taking one for the team’, last-ditch tackle in the first half was beautiful. One of his only contributions of note.

Chris Wood (ST) – 5/10 – His one good chance was well blocked by Bailly. Starved of service.

Ashley Barnes (ST) – 5/10 – Worked hard and tried to battle for possession in deep areas. Did not have much joy.

Dwight McNeil – 5/10 – Struggled to assert himself.

Matej Vydra – 6/10 – Added some vibrancy to the Burnley attack after coming on, however, was overexcited and snatched at his chances.

Jay Rodriguez – N/A

David de Gea (GK) – 6/10 – Very little to do. Did not even make a save.

Aaron Wan-Bissaka (RB) – 6/10 – Not caused any problems defensively. Was okay going forward.

Eric Bailly (CB) – 8/10 – Made several important blocks to keep the Clarets at bay. Very impressive stuff.

Harry Maguire (CB) – 7/10 – Denied a brilliant, headed goal by the referee before the break. Possibly fortunate to not be penalised for handball.

Luke Shaw (LB) – 7/10 – Previous decisions suggest he should have seen red for his first-half challenge. Whipped in a few dangerous balls, including the one for Maguire’s disallowed goal.

Nemanja Matic (CM) – 7/10 – Kept things ticking over and offered protection on the rare occasions that Burnley countered.

Paul Pogba (CM) – 8/10 – When he drove through the lines, he was unplayable. His goal was superb as well.

Bruno Fernandes (AM) – 6/10 – Some clever passes and turns in the second half after a slow start. Was a little too eager to shoot at times.

Anthony Martial (RW) – 6/10 – Denied a great goal by Pope just before the break. Spurned a couple of half-chances thereafter. His late hamstring injury is a worry ahead of the Liverpool game.

Edinson Cavani (ST) – 6/10 – Failed to convert a straightforward opportunity just after the break. Was not his day in front of goal.

Marcus Rashford (LW) – 7/10 – Struggled to click with his teammates for much of the game but made up for it with a pinpoint cross that led to Pogba’s goal.

Mason Greenwood – 6/10 – Not given enough time to get involved.

Scott McTominay – N/A

Axel Tuanzebe – N/A

FA Cup history & head to head record

We’re about to get a double dose of Manchester United vs Liverpool.

The famous rivals will face off in the Premier League next weekend, and now, thanks to Peter Crouch’s cup draw tekkers, they will clash again a week later at Old Trafford, in the fourth round of the FA Cup.

English football’s two most successful sides have had more than their fair share of battles over the years. They’ve won 41 league titles between them, taking it in turns to dominate English football – whether it was Liverpool’s success under Bill Shankly, Bob Paisley and Kenny Dalglish or Manchester United’s rise to prominence and Sir Alex Ferguson.

But while their hammer-and-tongs league history has carried over into the 2020s, with Liverpool taking the initiative under Jurgen Klopp, cup meetings between the side have been fewer and farther between.

When did Liverpool and Manchester United last meet in the cup?

While the two actually most recently met in the 2015/16 Europa League, their last meeting in a domestic cup competition, came back in 2013, when a strike from Javier Hernandez sent David Moyes’ team through to the fourth round of the League Cup.

To find their last meeting in the FA Cup, you have to go back 20 months further, when they met at Anfield in – you guessed it – the fourth round.

Daniel Agger and Dirk Kuyt, who loved a goal against the Red Devils, sent United packing on their way to the final against Chelsea, which would be Kenny Dalglish’s final match in charge.

FA Cup Head-to-Head Record

Delve any further into the FA Cup history between the two clubs, however, and things start to look a little hairy for the Reds. That Kuyt-inspired win was one of just four FA Cup meetings between the two Liverpool have won in their entire history. United have won nine.

If you’re worried that’s a bad omen, then look away before we get into their away record against United in the FA Cup.

Astonishingly, Liverpool haven’t beaten their rivals away in the competition since 12 January 1921. The draw for this year’s fourth round was made in 11 January 2021 – one day shy of being exactly 100 years on.

One of the most famous FA Cup meeting between the teams came in the final in 1977. Paisley’s Liverpool were the favourites, having already won the league, but were caught out by Tommy Docherty’s United, who ended any hopes the Anfield giants had of finishing the season with a treble.

That started a long run of FA Cup hoodoo for Liverpool, who wouldn’t beat United again in the competition until 2006.

United also won the only other FA Cup final featuring the pair, when Eric Cantona’s strike won the game in 1996.

As the two prepare for a present day cup classic, neither team looks quite like the dominant force they have been in the past, yet it has rarely been more finely poised.

Their meeting in the Premier League, which comes a week earlier, might well determine who goes in as favourite,. But where these two are concerned, form can be safely thrown out the window.

It’s their first FA Cup meeting in almost eight years and it should be a cracker.

Brighton defeat Newport on penalties, Leeds shocked by Crawley & more

Brighton required penalties to defeat League Two Newport County during an eventful day on FA Cup third round action.

In the 90th minute, Brighton thought they had won it when Solly March whipped a wicked effort past the impressive Tom King. However, six minutes into second half stoppage time, Newport equalised when Adam Webster diverted the ball into his own net.

Extra time could not separate the two teams with 52 league places between them at kick off, meaning things had to be decided by penalties.

After five spot kicks each the scores were level at 2-2, sending the shootout to sudden death. In the second round, the game was finally settled when Webster made up for his previous error by rolling home the winning penalty, taking advantage of Scott Bennett’s miss.

Elsewhere, Leeds suffered an embarrassing defeat at the hands of League Two Crawley Town, with second half goals from Nick Tsaroulla, Ashley Nadesan and Jordan Tunnicliffe earning the Reds a famous 3-0 win.

There was never much danger of Tottenham suffering a similar fate at the hand of eighth tier Marine. After their hosts rattled the bar midway with 20 minutes played, Spurs made their extra quality count with Carlos Vinicius netting a hat trick and Lucas Moura curling in a free kick before half time.

After the break, Alfie Devine added another to seal a 5-0 win, becoming his side’s youngest ever goalscorer in the process.

Manchester City made similarly light work of Birmingham City as Bernardo Silva (x2) and Phil Foden grabbed the goals, while Chelsea were also victorious, besting Morecambe 4-0 thanks to strikes from Mason Mount, Callum Hudson-Odoi and Kai Havertz, as well as a first goal in 13 games for Timo Werner.

Elsewhere, Barnsley defeated Tranmere Rovers 2-0 and a late Chris Martin stunner gave Bristol City a 2-1 win over League One Portsmouth. Cheltenham also progressed, beating Mansfield Town 2-1 after extra time.

For the teams that made it through, attention now turns to Monday’s draw for both the fourth and fifth round. The ties will be determined ahead of West Ham’s trip to Stockport County with the event kicking off at 19:10 (BST).

The fourth-round fixtures are set to be held across the weekend of 23 January, while the fifth round will take place on Wednesday 10 February.

Bayern Munich blow two-goal lead to lose 3-2 to Gladbach

Bundesliga leaders Bayern Munich lost their first game since September on Friday as they threw away a two-goal lead to lose 3-2 to Borussia Monchengladbach.

Hansi Flick’s men were stunned by Hoffenheim four months ago as Andrej Kramaric’s double inspired the underdogs to a shocking 4-1 win, but Bayern made up for that defeat by embarking on a 20-game unbeaten run in all competitions.

It looked like Bayern were going to make it 21 when Florian Neuhaus’ handball was spotted and punished with a penalty, from which Robert Lewandowski made no mistake. Europe’s top marksman now sits on 20 goals from just 14 games.

The good times kept on flowing as Bayern made it two in the 26th minute through Leon Goretzka, whose finished off an excellent one-two with the fantastic Leroy Sane with a rifled strike from long range to ease the pressure on Bayern’s shoulders.

However, it might have done too good of a job of that as Flick’s side were soon punished for taking their foot off the gas pedal. Jonas Hofmann got the comeback underway shortly after the half-hour mark, firing home to ensure Bayern’s run without a clean sheet extends to ten Bundesliga games.

Hofmann snatched another on the stroke of half-time, and it was Gladbach who were frustrated to see the referee blow his whistle for the interval as they could sense Bayern had been rattled.

Whatever Flick said during the break, it obviously didn’t work as Gladbach were ahead after just four minutes.

Niklas Sule’s tame pass was intercepted by Hofmann, whose lay-off allowed Neuhaus to atone for his earlier error with a glorious strike which nestled into the top-right corner of Manuel Neuer’s goal.

The defeat continues a worrying trend for Flick’s side, who have now fallen behind in their last nine Bundesliga games. While they’ve only gone on to drop points in three of those, it’s obviously something which the boss will be keen to fix.

Bayern remain top of the Bundesliga on 33 points, two points ahead of second-placed RB Leipzig. Julian Nagelsmann’s side could jump up to the top spot with a victory over Borussia Dortmund on Saturday.

FIFA 21 Team of the Year nominations have been revealed

FIFA have released their shortlist for the UT Team of the Year, with a whole host of the world’s top players vying for a place in the final XI.

And the best part is you can have your say in who you think should be included in the squad. But don’t waste time sifting through each category as you aimlessly look for your favourite players – we’ve got the list of every player in each category for you right here.

So enjoy as we provide you with a rundown of all the nominees for the FIFA UT Team of the Year.

Only seven shot-stoppers have been named on the shortlist for the position of goalkeeper in the Team of the Year, but they’re a pretty decent bunch we’re sure you’ll agree.

European champion Manuel Neuer makes the cut (obviously) while Premier League duo Alisson and Ederson are also named among the nominees, with Real Madrid goalkeeper and former Chelsea man Thibaut Courtois also an option.

Goalkeeper nominees:

Thibaut Courtois
Lukáš Hrádecký
Steve Mandanda
Keylor Navas
Manuel Neuer

No fewer than three Liverpool defenders have been nominated in the defender category, with Virgil van Dijk joined by teammates Andy Robertson and Trent Alexander-Arnold.

Sergio Ramos also makes the cut though there’s no room for his Real Madrid colleague Raphael Varane, while 20-year-old Bayern Munich wonderkid Alphonso Davies is in.

Defender nominees:

Francesco Acerbi
Trent Alexander-Arnold
Jordan Amavi
Alphonso Davies
Stefan de Vrij
Matthias Ginter
Theo Hernandez
Mats Hummels
Jesus Navas
Jordi Alba
Presnel Kimpembe
Aymeric Laporte
Andy Robertson
Sergio Ramos
Thiago Silva
Virgil van Dijk

This has surely got to be one of the hardest categories to make a choice in. How do you even begin to go about deciding who is the best out of the likes of Bruno Fernandes, Kevin De Bruyne and Thiago?

The midfield category is packed with stellar names, with Joshua Kimmich, Puskas Award winner Son Heung-min and Real Madrid midfield maestro Toni Kroos all in the running.

Good luck picking your final choices from these lot.

Midfield nominees:

Houssem Aouar
Bruno Fernandes
Kevin De Bruyne
Nabil Fekir
Papu Gomez
Robin Gosens
Raphaël Guerreiro
Jordan Henderson
Joshua Kimmich
Mateo Kovacic
Toni Kroos
Luis Alberto
Mikel Merino
Dani Parejo
Renato Sanches
Marcel Sabitzer
Son Heung-min
Lars Stindl

Now this is the really fun part.

Let’s be honest, we can indulge in the joys of midfielders and defenders all we like, but the forwards are what we’re really interested in.

No surprise to see Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi yet again fighting it out for a place in the XI, while Neymar and Kylian Mbappe aren’t bad options to have either, and no forward list would be complete without Robert Lewandowski.

And if none of the above take your fancy, you can even vote for former Stoke and Newcastle striker Joselu….

Forward nominees:

Andre Silva
Wissam Ben Yedder
Karim Benzema
Francesco Caputo
Cristiano Ronaldo
Angel Di Maria
Paulo Dybala
Jack Grealish
Erling Haaland
Ciro Immobile
Danny Ings
Lorenzo Insigne
Joao Felix
Harry Kane
Andrej Kramarić
Robert Lewandowski
Romelu Lukaku
Sadio Mane
Kylian Mbappe
Lionel Messi
Mohamed Salah
Raheem Sterling
Luis Suarez
Jamie Vardy

Manchester City turn in second complete performance in space of four days

Last time Manchester United met Manchester City at Old Trafford, it was an absolute waste of a Saturday evening.

We’d all whiled many tedious hours during lockdown, but this really was taking the mickey.

Even Roy Keane – usually so shy and retiring when it comes to voicing his opinion – was furious.

The former Manchester United midfielder lambasted the absence of yellow cards and the presence of hugging (not a COVID related concern, he was also incredulous about the shared smiling and chatting).

It was a game that epitomised lockdown: flat, banal, monotonous.

United were fresh from their disappointing Champions League elimination, while City were struggling to consistently hit their irresistible form of previous campaigns.

Fast forward less than a month and the Manchester rivals are suddenly two of the form sides in the Premier League, and they served up a thoroughly entertaining 90 minutes in the Carabao Cup semi finals. It was end to end, intense and high quality.

City emerged victorious thanks to goals from John Stones and Fernandinho and were well worth their place in April’s final. For the second time in four days, Pep Guardiola’s side were absolutely outstanding.

On Sunday, City were back to their sharp, effervescent best as they confidently dispatched of Chelsea within 34 ruthless first half minutes.

United put up more of a fight on Wednesday evening, but eventually succumbed to City’s class.

The central defensive partnership of Ruben Dias and Stones were so solid, United largely restricted to half chances from range. The duo have conceded just one goal in their eight starts together – Dias bringing a defensive maturity far above his tender 23 years, and Stones playing with a real newfound self-assuredness.

Building from this solid defensive base, City have begun to return to their exciting, creative attacking best. Phil Foden, having seen his playing time restricted slightly more than would have been expected this season given his post-lockdown form and the departure of David Silva in the summer, followed up his impressive Chelsea display with another eye catching performance.

The way the City academy product can see the most acute of angles and pick passes is a joy to watch. Everything is so sharp and crisp – his low cross to find a marginally offside Ilkay Gundogan inside the first five minutes epitomising his keen eye for a pass and inch perfect delivery to match.

Driving City forward time and time again was the imperious Kevin de Bruyne. When he marauded forward with the ball you were always confident that he would pick the right pass, make the right choice and cause United problems.

An infuriating inconsistency has been a telling theme for the majority of Premier League teams this season – understandable given the congested fixture schedule and unique pandemic circumstances. For City to have turned in two complete performances in the space of four days is a real statement of intent from Guardiola’s side.