Player ratings – AC Milan 1 – 0 Inter: Donnarumma’s dream debut

AC Milan came out on top in the Coppa Italia quarter-final clash against Inter thanks to a goal in the 104th minute by Rossoneri wonderkid Patrick Cutrone.

After both teams failed to score over 90 minutes despite both sides having enough chances to seal the victory, in the end, AC Milan finally broke the deadlock when Patrick Cutrone took advantage of a mistake in the Nerazzurri defence. Given how the match played out, it was a deserved victory for Gattuso’s Milan who looked like they wanted to win more, whilst Inter looked tired and were on the back-foot but the Nerazzurri had their chances, with Joao Mario squandering an absolute sitter.

AC Milan:

Antonio Donnarumma – 7,5: What a debut by the AC Milan third-keeper whose performance was anything but that of a third-keeper. Shaky start but grew into the match and in the end gave a Man of The Match performance.

Ignazio Abate – 6: Did his duties well both offensively as well as defensively, especially in the first half. Had to be brought off early in the second half due to an injury.

Leonardo Bonucci – 5.5: The weakest link in the Rossoneri defence, missing simple passes, as well as being caught out of position time after time. Former AC Milan coach Fabio Capello said about him that “he is a good passer of the ball, but he does not how to defend.”

Alessio Romagnoli – 7: Was Milan’s defensive pillar and cleaned up behind Bonucci time and time again. Kept Icardi quiet for the entire match, which says it all.

Ricardo Rodriguez – 6,5: A solid performance by the Swiss international. Missed one or two crosses where he should have done better, but overall did well.

Franck Kessie – 7: Lungs of steel. Ran tirelessly throughout the entire match illustrating why Milan broke the bank to sign him from Atalanta. Best performance since signing for Milan.

Manuel Locatelli – 5.5: Did not have a great evening, losing a lot of balls in midfield as well as being too rash in challenges which forced him to concede unnecessary free-kicks. Brought off in 73rd minute.

Lucas Biglia – 7: Starting to look like the player Milan thought they had signed from Lazio. Hardly put a foot wrong, dictated the tempo of the Rossoneri’s midfield and demonstrated the intelligence he has. Gave his best performance in a Milan shirt.

Suso – 6,5: AC Milan’s own Mr. Derby lived up to the expectations in a derby yet again. Although not as dominant as is previous derbies he oozes class, brilliance and possesses the ability to do the unexpected.

Nikola Kalinic– 6: Had a decent first half where he forced Handanovic to make a couple of good saves. As the match wore on, he grew more and more tired resulting in him being more and more anonymous. Brought off in the 76th minute for Cutrone.

Giacomo Bonaventura – 6: Played 1-1 vs Joao Mario in missing an absolute sitter. Is an irrational player, but struggled offensively so instead he put in a decent shift to help the team.   

Substitutes: Davide Calabria (6,5), Hakan Calhanoglu (6), Patrick Cutrone (7).

Inter:

Samir Handanovic – 6: Did what he needed to do but like rest of Inter looked tired causing him to make simple mistakes. No chance on the goal.

Joao Cancelo – 6.5: Inter’s best player on the night. Starting to show his qualities offensively as well as defensively. Form is on the rise.

Andrea Ranocchia – 6: The former Inter captain did well, keeping things simple as well as keeping a cool head. Solid performance.

Milan Skriniar – 5,5: Given the high level of performances he has spoilt Inter fans with this season, last night was a step in the wrong direction. 

Yuto Nagatomo – 6: Matched Suso preventing the Spaniard from giving a stellar performance in yet another derby. Has been Inter’s best and most consistent left full-back so far this season.

Roberto Gagliardini – 5,5: Not at all the type of performance Inter needed to see from the former Atalanta player. Brought off in 75th minute for Marcelo Brozovic.

Matias Vecino – 6: Such an important player for Inter, linking up defence with attack and despite not having the best of nights he never stops trying.

Antonio Candreva – 5: Usually Inter’s Mr. Derby, but was completely out of form throughout the night. The fact that he wasn’t the worst Inter player of the night speaks volumes as to the Nerazzurri’s performance. 

Joao Mario – 4: Absolute shocker. Painful to watch. Had his chance to prove why he should play more but probably played himself out of the starting line-up for a long time, if not forever, if transfer rumours are to be believed. Replaced in 67th minute by Borja Valero.  

Ivan Perisic– 4.5: Probably his worst performance since joining Inter. Unable to do anything of consequence despite playing 120 minutes. Should be benched until he regains his form, but unlikely given the lack of squad depth.

Mauro Icardi – 5: See above re Perisic. Inter need their captain during the most critical part of the season, who instead looks tired and out of form.

Substitutes: Borja Valero (6), Brozovic (5.5), Eder (5).

Leeds United simply don’t need Genoa defender Aleandro Rosi

Leeds United are said to be chasing yet another right-back in the January transfer window.

According to a report on TMW, Leeds United are hunting Genoa defender Aleandro Rosi, ahead of the January transfer window.
Leeds are expected to invest in the new year, and Rosi is said to be on the Whites’ wishlist.
Rosi has caught Victor Orta’s and Thomas Christiansen’s eyes, with his performances in Seria A this season.

But it is not exactly clear why Leeds would need to add another right-back to their squad.
Although Rosi does possess a lot of experience and a high amount of pedigree, it is hard not to believe his signing would be completely pointless for Leeds.
Christiansen already has Luke Ayling and Gaetano Berardi in his squad at Elland Road, and the pair are exceptional right-backs at Championship level.

Leeds also have enviable options on the right hand side of their defence in reserve, with Lewie Coyle an exciting prospect for future years.
And, as a result, Christiansen would surely be better off looking elsewhere, rather than bringing Rosi to Elland Road in January.

Boxing Day preview: Tottenham v Southampton

Tottenham Hotspur host Southampton in the Premier League on Boxing Day, and there is no shortage of connections between the two clubs.
For instance, Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino previously managed Southampton, while players such as Victor Wanyama and Toby Alderweireld have joined the north London club from the Saints in recent years.
This meeting between Tottenham and Southampton at Wembley is set to be an interesting encounter, and here’s a look back at some of the recent games between them.
March 19 2017 – Tottenham 2 Southampton 1
In the final meeting between these teams at White Hart Lane, Tottenham took the lead through Christian Eriksen and then doubled their advantage when Dele Alli found the net from the penalty spot.
Although Southampton reduced the deficit when James Ward-Prowse found the net, Tottenham held on for victory.
December 28 2016 – Southampton 1 Tottenham 4
Southampton went ahead after just two minutes courtesy of Virgil Van Dijk, but Tottenham seized control thereafter.
Alli hit a brace, with Son Heung-min and Harry Kane also getting on the scoresheet in a comprehensive win for Pochettino’s team.
May 8 2016 – Tottenham 1 Southampton 2
Tottenham, whose hopes of winning the Premier League title were already over, fell to a disappointing defeat at home to Southampton on this occasion.
Son had put Tottenham in front but a Steven Davis brace proved to be the difference for Southampton.
December 19 2015 – Southampton 0 Tottenham 2
Tottenham were too strong for Southampton in this game.
Kane and Alli were the scorers as Tottenham took all three points with an impressive display.
April 25 2015 – Southampton 2 Tottenham 2 
An entertaining meeting between the two teams saw Southampton take the lead through Graziano Pelle, with Erik Lamela levelling for Tottenham. 
Pelle struck again to give Southampton hope of a victory but Nacer Chadli’s effort ensured that the game ended even.
Overall
Tottenham have had the upper hand against Southampton of late, winning three of the past five meetings, and will be determined to prevail again on this occasion.

What former Leeds United manager David O’Leary has said about returning to football

Former Leeds United manager David O’Leary was present at Elland Road once more at the weekend a year after his revealing interview with the Telegraph in which he suggested he was open to the idea of returning to football.
O’Leary, who has been without a job now for six years now, was interviewed by Leeds after watching the 1-0 win over Norwich City on Saturday from the Legends Lounge.

It was not the first time he has attended a fixture this season having been invited back to his former club for lunch and a match previously by owner Andrea Radrizzani, who is aiming to bring all elements of the club closer together, as shown by his decision to further integrate the Ladies team yesterday.

He admitted that Leeds fans have continually asked him about his plans for the future and whether or not he will ever return to the Elland Road dugout.
“When are you coming back! It’s embarrassing really”.
“I’m so privileged that they still remember me.
“It’s just so nice and I always knew that I had their support, and I appreciate their support even more now. Twenty years and they still remember me – I can’t believe that!”

Michael Duff left frustrated as Burnley Under-23 clash abandoned

BURNLEY Development squad boss Michael Duff was disappointed to see his side’s clash with Hull City abandoned on Monday night as the wait for an Under-23 game goes on.
Burnley were leading 1-0 thanks to a Rahis Nabi goal when fog enveloped Curzon Ashton’s Tameside Stadium causing referee Leigh Doughty to abandon the game after just 34 minutes.
Duff’s side do not play again until the new year having last completed a game on November 20.
“The referee’s given it a chance,” the Clarets U23 boss said of Monday’s postponement. “He’s given it a go. From what you could see the lads did okay, winning the game 1-0.

“It’s just disappointing because we’ve waited a long time for a game. It’s been almost a month since we’ve played and you get that and then it’s another two or three weeks before the next game.
“But there’s not a lot you can do about the weather.”
Burnley return to action away at Leeds United on January 5 with a new date for the Hull game yet to be announced.
Burnley: Stone, Birch, Flowers, Clarke, Mpofu, Bayode, Nabi, N’Guessan, Chakwana, McNeil, Wood. Subs: King, Metz, Cropper, Younger, Limb.

Manchester United player Paul Pogba has found his role

Jamie Carragher called him a ‘defensive liability, Frank Lampard was unsure of his best position while Paul Merson even suggested that he would rather have Jordan Henderson in his team. Seriously.
To be fair to Lampard, at least, his criticism back in March was not that outrageous; Paul Pogba had not looked all that comfortable in United’s rigid 4-2-3-1 up until that point.

For a player who has always played in central midfield, thousands of words and hundreds of heat maps were used to try and discern Pogba’s best position.
But some overstepped the mark.
“It is not his fault that some pundits are in real trouble with their lives and need every coin to survive while Paul is a multimillionaire,” Jose Mourinho later hissed.

And he had a point. As well as being the world-record transfer holder, up until August, the 24-year-old became an easy target given his flamboyance and style.
That is partly why Garth Crooks, Eamon Dunphy and Graeme Souness, three throwbacks to grittier times, have been so keen to offer their two cents – even when Pogba has been United’s best player this season.
Unlike Souness, for example, Pogba hates the tactical side of training, particularly work on defensive shape, and loathes drills without the ball.
Crooks, meanwhile, berates the France superstar’s hairstyle – of all things – on a weekly basis. God knows what he will make of his bleached goatee when he walks out at Ashton Gate!
But that pre-match ritual, of visiting the barbers, is certainly not an issue for United fans anymore. Or Pogba’s habit of standing to admire those Hollywood passes. Or even his social media antics.

Atletico star opens up on future of Man Utd, Barcelona target Griezmann

Atletico Madrid goalkeeper Jan Oblak has admitted he is in the dark over the future of in-demand forward Antoine Griezmann.
The France forward is expected to leave the Wanda Metropolitano at the end of the season – and it’s believed the player has a straight choice between Barcelona or Manchester United with the two clubs both willing to meet his €100million exit clause.

Slovenian shot-stopper Oblak is another player in demand, with the likes of PSG reportedly plotting a move for him next summer, and speaking as he won Marca’s Goalkeeper of the 2016/17 season award on Monday, the 26-year-old was questioned about the future of his teammate.
“In the future with Griezmann, nobody knows,” Oblak said.
“For now, he is totally committed to use and we see this in matches and training, he is a huge part of this team.
“We want to be fighting for the title at the end of the season and right now we are taking things one game at a time but we are in a much stronger position now than a month ago.”

PSG boss takes aim at Real Madrid over Neymar pursuit and issues sharp Cristiano Ronaldo retort in response

PSG sporting director Antero Henrique has taken aim at Real Madrid president Florentino Perez, saying perceived attempts to unsettle Neymar have only managed to serve another purpose: unsettling Cristiano Ronaldo.
Portuguese chief Henrique has opened up a potential war of words between the two big-spenders, who face off in the Champions League last 16.

Brazilian superstar Neymar only joined PSG for a world record transfer fee (£200million) in the summer, but has already been linked with a return to Spain amid suggestions of problems settling into life in the French capital.
Neymar had a very public falling out with Edinson Cavani earlier in the season, while reports continue that he doesn’t see eye-to-eye with coach Unai Emery – despite playing a direct hand in 30 goals (17 goals, 13 assists) in just 19 matches.
Neymar snapped at reporters when asked about interest from Madrid after a 7-1 win over Celtic in the Champions League, declaring: “For f*** sake, have you got nothing else to talk about?”

Mikel Arteta linked with Arsene Wenger’s job but Arsenal gig comes too soon

It was, perhaps, only a matter of time before Mikel Arteta’s name got mentioned as a possible successor to Arsene Wenger as Arsenal manager.
The Spaniard is, by all accounts, doing an excellent job as an assistant to Pep Guardiola at Manchester City, where he’s learning from the best manager in the game.
So it was no big surprise when the Telegraph reported on Tuesday that Arsenal are keeping close tabs on their former club captain with the feeling “he will eventually be the perfect candidate for the job of manager.”
But surely “eventually” is the key word here. While there is a good chance of the Arsenal job opening up in 2019 when Wenger’s contract expires, it’s unlikely that Arteta would top the list of candidates at that stage.
Let’s not forget the midfielder is only 35 and has never held a head coaching job. The day Wenger does step down, that vacant seat will be the most coveted managerial job in football. The Arsenal hierarchy will be able to pick and choose from a massive pool of talented young (and not so young) managers, and there are many whose credentials far outweigh Arteta’s.
There’s no doubt the Spaniard has a very bright future as a coach and he is already highly regarded by Guardiola and the rest of City’s staff, partly because of his ability to work with players on the training ground. And this season he is getting a first-hand look at what it takes to build a title-winning team. If Guardiola’s perfectionism, attention to detail and tactical acumen rubs off on Arteta, he has every chance of emulating his countryman and taking the step from successful player to successful manager
But going from being an assistant at a top club to managing a top club is a journey that will likely require a few other steps in-between.
Guardiola was only 37 when he took over Barcelona — the same age Arteta will be in the summer of 2019 — and that it was his first senior management job after coaching the club’s B-team. And that he won the treble in his first season in charge.
But Barcelona had made 10 coaching changes in the 20 years prior to Guardiola’s appointment and had a history of hiring former players like Johan Cruyff, Carles Rexach and Frank Rijkaard. In 2019, Arsenal will have gone 23 years without hiring a new manager, and Wenger’s shoes will be a lot harder to fill than Rijkaard’s. Not to mention the fact that Wenger’s successor will not inherit a squad that includes Lionel Messi.
While many fans would love to see a former player take over, Arsenal will surely have learned from Manchester United’s struggles to replace Sir Alex Ferguson that a more experienced hand is needed to fill such a massive void. The United job was too big for David Moyes, who had spent more than a decade managing a Premier League club. The Arsenal job will undoubtedly be too big for anyone who hasn’t spent a day managing any club.

This is by no means a dig at Arteta. The Spaniard is getting the best education any young coach could hope for at City, and will put it to good use in what promises to be a long and successful coaching career.
When the time comes to take the next step, he’ll have no shortage of suitors among clubs who are hoping to unearth the next Guardiola. But he would be wise to start out at a slightly smaller team in England or Spain where he can learn on the job — a luxury that Arsenal can’t afford to give him.
If that’s the path he chooses, he could indeed become the perfect candidate for the Arsenal job. Eventually.

Jurgen Klopp told Liverpool FC should sign 29-year-old in ‘no-brainer’ January deal

Alan Smith has urged Liverpool FC to sign former Manchester United defender Jonny Evans from West Brom in the January transfer window.
The Reds have struggled defensively throughout the 2017-18 season so far to undermine their brilliant attacking prowess.
Liverpool FC have the Premier League’s leading goal-scorer, Mohamed Salah, after the summer signing scored 14 times in his opening 17 top-flight games as a Red.

However, the Merseyside outfit have conceded 20 times in the Premier League this season due in part to the poor performances of Dejan Lovren and Ragnar Klavan.
The 18-time English champions attempted to sign Southampton captain Virgil van Dijk in the summer transfer window but the Saints refused to sell the Netherlands international.

Liverpool FC have been linked with a fresh attempt to sign the former Celtic centre-half in January to help bolster their top-four challenge.
However, ex-Arsenal striker Smith believes Northern Ireland international Evans would be a fantastic addition to Klopp’s squad.
Asked whether he could see Evans at Liverpool FC, Smith told Sky Sports News on Friday:
“Yes I could (see Jonny Evans signing), definitely, definitely. I think it will be hard for West Brom if the money was right.
“Jonny’s a really solid citizen as well, you know what you are getting with him coming into the dressing room. He’s a good lad, highly experienced, knows what it’s about playing for a big club at Manchester United. It’s a no-brainer for a few managers I think that.”
Evans spent 11 seasons at Manchester United and won three Premier League titles with the Red Devils before he completed a switch to West Brom in 2015.
The Northern Irish defender has been linked with a potential switch to Arsenal or Manchester City over the past 12 months or so.