Anjorin offers Chelsea another option
Jamie Carragher was tasked with selecting a second-string Chelsea side that could compete in the Premier League during his most recent appearance on Monday Night Football. It demonstrated why he feels Frank Lampard boasts the greatest squad depth that might even take Chelsea to a first Premier League title since 2017.
Absent from the second XI was Tino Anjorin, but the 19-year-old showed during Tuesday’s 1-1 draw with Krasnodar that he will be ready when called upon this season. Chelsea were below par and struggled to get out of third gear having already got the job done in Group E, but Anjorin took his chance to impress Lampard.
- Chelsea 1-1 Krasnodar – Match report and ratings
Comfortable in possession, the England Under-19 international completed 40 of his 45 passes with 39 of those entering the opposition half. Anjorin combined well off the left flank with Emerson and frequently popped up on the right too.
Lampard wanted to end the group stage on a high, and while his makeshift side were unable to see off stubborn opponents in Krasnodar, Anjorin’s contribution certainly offers him food for thought heading into the festive period.
On Anjorin, Lampard added: “In training, he’s shown since last season a real ability to step straight into the level. He showed it today, the way he moves the ball quickly and his physical attributes.
“He’s had some fitness issues, it’s a work in progress, but the more he trains with us the better he gets. With injuries we have, in short-term he will spend more time with us. He grew into the game as it went along.”
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Assured Champions League debut from Steffen
Zack Steffen’s only previous appearances for Manchester City had come in the Carabao Cup against Burnley and Bournemouth earlier this season but with Pep Guardiola’s side already qualified for the last 16 as Group C winners, the USA international was handed his Champions League debut on Wednesday night.
Steffen, a summer signing from MLS outfit Columbus Crew in 2019, only joined Guardiola’s squad this season following Claudio Bravo’s departure to Real Betis and having spent last year on loan with Bundesliga side Fortuna Dusseldorf.
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The 25-year-old had a busier evening than he might have expected at the Etihad Stadium – at least in the first half. He made several saves during that period, including a smart near-post stop which prevented an angled effort from Pape Gueye putting the visitors in front.
Steffen was a bystander for much of the second half as City began to dominate proceedings, and while he had one awkward moment on the ball, sending a pass out of play in the first period, he looked assured overall, completing 18 of his 20 passes in total.
Steffen will be back among the substitutes when Ederson returns for Saturday’s Manchester derby, live on Sky Sports, but on this evidence he is certainly capable of filling in when required. He will hope to return to the side for City’s Carabao Cup meeting with Arsenal later this month.
Fabinho shows his importance to Liverpool
While Jurgen Klopp named Liverpool’s youngest ever Champions League XI in their 1-1 draw against Midtjylland, he still included some of his senior players and perhaps the most important of those was Fabinho at centre-back.
Yes, Fabinho only played 45 minutes but it was his absence in the second half that really demonstrated just how big of a role he played as Midtjylland refused to sit back and play by the script. They wanted to end their maiden Champions League season with a famous victory.
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- Midtjylland 1-1 Liverpool – Match report and ratings
The Brazilian was there to make crucial blocks (1) and clearances (5) and this was epitomised when he cleared off the line from Sory Kaba’s header. The misfiring Midtjylland striker nodded over Caoimhin Kelleher at the near post but the goalkeeper was saved by a confident clearance from Fabinho.
Fabinho was replaced by debutant Billy Koumetio in the second half and despite some good early touches from the 18-year-old, he looked more nervous as the game continued and Midtjylland’s attack did not let up. They had 15 second-half shots to five in the first half and Fabinho’s absence played a big part.
Credit must also go to Fabinho’s first-half partner Rhys Williams too, who again looked assured in defence. He made the most tackles (10) of the Liverpool team and joint-highest number of clearances (2). He also led the way for successful passes (46) and won nine of his ten aerial duels.
With Virgil Van Dijk and Joe Gomez out for much of the season, Williams will be a vital part of the squad. But it was Fabinho’s solid first-half performance and his noticeable absence after the break demonstrates his huge importance in the coming months.
Champions League last 16 draw
The line up for the last 16 is now complete, with the following teams through to the knockout stage:
The draw will take place at 11am on Monday, December 14 in Nyon. You’ll be able to follow it across Sky Sports’ platforms.
There will be two seeding pots: one consisting of the eight group winners and the other of the eight runners-up. No team can at this stage play a club from their own association – meaning no all-Premier League clashes just yet.
The ties will take place over two legs, with seeded group winners playing away in the first legs in February and at home in the return matches in March.
February 15/16 & March 16/17, 2021: Round of 16
April 6/14, 2021: Quarter-finals
April 17 & May 5, 2021: Semi-finals
May 29, 2021: Final (Istanbul)
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