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Crystal Palace have a succession plan to replace their king Wilfried Zaha after signing Eberechi Eze

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crystal palace have a succession plan to replace their king wilfried zaha after signing eberechi eze

There was a moment near the end of Saturday’s slog when the king of Crystal Palace called for a pass from the younger man in whom so much is expected. With luck, any succession plans involving them will go smoother than the subsequent delivery.

What was meant to be a crisp ping to the right was instead a scuff off Eberechi Eze’s boot straight into touch. Rarely one to conceal irritation behind false smiles, Wilfried Zaha, the intended recipient, was a little miffed.

‘F****** hell, mate,’ he shouted, and in this era of empty grounds the words travelled far and free. The language of football, of course, and we can reasonably forecast that a partnership between two players of such talent will blossom into something brilliant if given time.

Roy Hodgson hopes he will be able to build his team around Wilfried Zaha and Eberechi Eze

Roy Hodgson hopes he will be able to build his team around Wilfried Zaha and Eberechi Eze

Granted, that’s a rather weighty ‘if’ in light of Zaha’s aching desire for a move. But manager Roy Hodgson is still a dreamer at 73 and his hope is very much to build a team on both of these attacking forces, combined with the further loan addition of Chelsea’s Michy Batshuayi. After struggling so badly for goals last season, Palace’s outlook certainly seems brighter in that regard.

For now, Hodgson can be satisfied that Zaha looked more decisive in one game than he did across the majority of the 2019-20 season. It was his goal that beat Southampton in a scrappy fixture, and he had another disallowed for a fractional offside before he then left Jack Stephens for dead in a stoppage-time run.

It wasn’t Zaha’s most consistent showing, and it won’t coax an immediate offer north of £50million, but it felt closer to what we remember. As for Eze, the £20m recruit who scored 14 goals in the Championship for QPR last season, he only had 15 minutes off the bench on his debut. Yet, he still showed what may be to come – the swivel of hips that dropped Kyle Walker-Peters on his backside being the main one.

Eze only played 15 minutes off the bench on his debut but still showed what may be to come

Eze only played 15 minutes off the bench on his debut but still showed what may be to come

Hodgson can be satisfied Zaha looked more decisive than he did in the whole of last season

Hodgson can be satisfied Zaha looked more decisive than he did in the whole of last season

Hodgson said: ‘I’m expecting him (Eze) to kick on even further from the run of seasons he has had with QPR. He’s been a real star in the Championship – everyone recognised this – and we were not the only club that looked at him.

‘I’m expecting him to work hard and continue to progress his career and show the same level of ability in the Premier League that he has shown in the Championship. He’s a confident young man, because he does have a lot of ability. I thought that was pretty obvious even in that 15 minutes. It was a tough ask to come on then (at 1-0 up). He was very diligent in his defensive work, but he knows we’ve got to do some work with him as well.’

For Southampton boss Ralph Hasenhuttl, there was the frustration of creating so little from 70 per cent of the possession.

Midfielder Oriol Romeu said: ‘We couldn’t move the ball quickly enough to create chances. We would have deserved something if we’d taken our chances but we didn’t.’

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Thiago Silva must become Chelsea’s much-needed leader as he prepares for debut against Barnsley

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thiago silva must become chelseas much needed leader as he prepares for debut against barnsley

Exactly one month ago, Thiago Silva was playing in a Champions League Final for Paris Saint-Germain trying to keep Bayern Munich‘s Robert Lewandowski quiet.

The whole world was watching as the Brazilian centre-back’s side came within a whisker of winning the best club competition in football.

Yet as Silva prepares for his next challenge with Chelsea, the scene couldn’t be any more different. He will make his Blues bow in an empty stadium broadcasted on the Carabao energy drinks website, while the threat of the treble-winning Bundesliga side is now Barnsley – without a league win or a goal so far this season.

Thiago Silva (R) kept Robert Lewandowski (L) in the Champions League final four weeks ago

Thiago Silva (R) kept Robert Lewandowski (L) in the Champions League final four weeks ago

The defender is set to make his Chelsea debut in Wednesday's Carabao Cup tie with Barnsley

The defender is set to make his Chelsea debut in Wednesday’s Carabao Cup tie with Barnsley 

The side sitting 20th in the Championship travel to Stamford Bridge on Wednesday night for their third-round Carabao Cup clash with the Blues, with Silva likely to mark Tykes forward Conor Chaplin – a far cry from the 55-goal Bayern Munich striker he faced in Libson.

The former PSG captain moved to west London from Paris Saint-Germain earlier this summer as part of Lampard’s £200million overhaul of the Chelsea squad.

While focus will be placed on the mega-money attacking talent the club have signed, namely German duo Timo Werner and Kai Havertz, it is the free purchase of Silva that could make the biggest difference at the Bridge. 

In his trophy-laden career, Silva has won league titles at every European side he’s played in. He won Serie A in 2011, a feat the club has not managed since, while he won the Ligue 1 title in seven out of his eight top-flight campaigns in France. 

Silva was within touching distance of lifting a Champions League trophy in Lisbon last month

Silva was within touching distance of lifting a Champions League trophy in Lisbon last month

Now Silva is thinking about how to mark Barnsley striker Connor Chaplin on Wednesday night

Now Silva is thinking about how to mark Barnsley striker Connor Chaplin on Wednesday night 

He also has experience at winning at international level, lifting both the FIFA Confederations Cup and the Copa America with Brazil in 2013 and 2019 respectively. 

There are, of course, question marks over whether he is still capable of producing at the highest level at 36 years of age. Those fears, however, are not shared with the player himself.  

Speaking to the media ahead of his debut, Silva said: ‘Age is just a number on your document. I don’t worry it at all.

‘Physically, I feel very young and I’m very well prepared for this. People who know me know how much I love my work; how I put in 200%.’

The Brazilian (middle) will bring  title-winning experience at club level to Stamford Bridgez

The Brazilian (middle) will still bring title-winning experience at club level to Stamford Bridge

For Lampard, Silva’s main addition to the Chelsea squad will be defensive consistency, an aspect which has been hard to come by in the blue half of west London in recent months.

Despite having the likes of Kurt Zouma, Andreas Christensen, Fikayo Tomori as centre-half options, Chelsea have failed to nail down a regular centre-back partnership. 

This clear issue for Lampard has led to poor defensive performances in big games this calendar year, such as the 3-2 defeat to West Ham, the FA Cup final defeat to Arsenal and even Sunday’s defeat to Liverpool.

There are also leadership qualities that Silva can bring, with the player having played a senior role at every club he has been at. Cesar Azpilicueta has been dropped from the squad and Silva is expected to wear the armband in his absence. 

Despite only just joining the club, Lampard believes a leadership role at Stamford Bridge suits the Brazilian defender just fine.  

Frank Lampard (above) believes Silva will bring defensive stability and leadership to the club

Frank Lampard (above) believes Silva will bring defensive stability and leadership to the club

The Chelsea boss added: ‘Thiago Silva is a leader and I spoke to lots of people that have worked with him before he came and everybody said the same thing: he has an absolute commitment to being a winner, to helping his team-mates, to improving all the time.

‘I loved his statements about winning and winning and winning. But they’re easy to make those statements. It’s about how you train and your actions. 

‘He gives off the feeling of someone who will affect people around him, organise people around him and drive the team. Someone like Thiago will massively help in terms how they hold themselves day to day and how players around them look up to them.’ 

When the defender arrived as one of PSG’s marquee signings in 2012, the French side were similar in stature to Chelsea as the ambitious pretenders. 

The Chelsea head coach thinks Silva (left)'s presence will help other plays play to their best

The Chelsea head coach thinks Silva (left)’s presence will help other plays play to their best

The 36-year-old is an experienced defender having led his club and country to trophies

The 36-year-old is an experienced defender having led his club and country to trophies

Back then, PSG were spending lots of money but were not quite good enough to be league champions. They had just lost the 2011-12 league title to Montpellier despite the abundance of riches at their disposal, with a clear leader needed at the club. 

Though the Brazilian steadied the ship and PSG exerted their dominance on French domestic football. Other players like Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Angel di Maria, Neymar and Kylian Mbappe have all helped – but they didn’t bring in Silva’s leadership qualities. 

The thought taking Chelsea to the top is perhaps an argument for later in the Brazilian defender’s career.

For now, Barnsley awaits for Silva – with fans expecting to see a more robust Blues side on Wednesday night. 

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Carabao Cup fourth round draw, dates: Liverpool vs Arsenal could be played TWICE in one week

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carabao cup fourth round draw dates liverpool vs arsenal could be played twice in one week scaled

THE CARABAO Cup continues this week as the Premier League’s big boys join in the third round.

And the fourth round has already been drawn with some HUGE fixtures set to take place in successive Cup weeks.

 Mikel Arteta and Arsenal could be facing Liverpool twice in a week

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Mikel Arteta and Arsenal could be facing Liverpool twice in a week

When is the fourth round?

Ties will be played next week, commencing from September 28.

Should both sides win their third round games, there is the prospect of Liverpool vs Arsenal taking place TWICE in one week.

The teams also meet at Anfield on Monday, September 28 in a Premier League fixture.

Times and fixtures for the fourth round games will be announced following the conclusion of the third round this week.

The draw was made last week on September 17.

  • Lincoln City/Liverpool v Leicester City/Arsenal
  • Millwall/Burnley v Manchester City/Bournemouth
  • Brentford v Fulham/Sheffield Wednesday
  • Fleetwood Town/Everton v West Ham
  • Bristol City/Aston Villa v Stoke City/Gillingham
  • Leyton Orient/Tottenham v Chelsea/Barnsley
  • Newport County v Morecambe/Newcastle United
  • Preston North End/Brighton v Manchester United
 Who should Arsenal sign out of Aouar and Partey?

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Who should Arsenal sign out of Aouar and Partey?

What third round games are on this week?

  • Leyton Orient P-P Tottenham
  • Newport 3-1 Watford
  • West Brom 2-2 Brentford (Brentford win 5-4 on penalties)
  • West Ham 5-1 Hull
  • Luton 0-3 Manchester United
  • Preston vs Brighton (Tonight, 7pm)
  • Fulham vs Sheffield Wednesday (Tonight, 7pm)
  • Millwall vs Burnley (Tonight, 7pm)
  • Stoke vs Gillingham (Tonight, 7pm)
  • Morcambe vs Newcastle (Tonight, 7.45pm)
  • Fleetwood vs Everton (Tonight, 7.45pm)
  • Chelsea vs Barnsley (Tonight, 7.45pm)
  • Leicester vs Arsenal (Tonight, 7.45pm)
  • Bristol City vs Aston Villa (Tomorrow, 7pm)
  • Manchester City vs Bournemouth (Tomorrow, 7.45pm)
  • Lincoln vs Liverpool (Tomorrow, 7.45pm)

What have they said?

Mikel Arteta, Arsenal manager: “There is only one winner with the Premier League in this country with a lot of frustrated teams. So now, everyone wants to win a title.”

“We’re going to take the Carabao Cup seriously, that’s for sure. And, obviously, with the fixtures that we have, the number of games, it is very difficult.

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Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo omitted from Uefa Men’s Player of the Year shortlist for first time ever

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lionel messi and cristiano ronaldo omitted from uefa mens player of the year shortlist for first time ever scaled

LIONEL MESSI and Cristiano Ronaldo have missed out on the shortlist for the Uefa Men’s Player Of The Year crown.

On Wednesday, the three finalists were confirmed with Kevin de Bruyne joining Bayern Munich stars Robert Lewandowski and Manuel Neuer.

Cristiano Ronaldo only finished tenth in voting despite another league title for Juventus

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Cristiano Ronaldo only finished tenth in voting despite another league title for JuventusCredit: Getty Images – Getty
Lionel Messi paid the price for his trophy-less campaign with fourth place in the longlist

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Lionel Messi paid the price for his trophy-less campaign with fourth place in the longlistCredit: Getty Images – Getty

Polish forward Lewandowski is the hot favourite for the award, smashing 55 goals in all competitions from 47 appearances.

Those goals helped Bayern to a stunning treble despite having to sack coach Niko Kovac in November.

Vying for the honour with the Bavarian pair is de Bruyne, who won the PFA’s Premier League Player of the Year gong for 2019-20.

But the absence of either Ronaldo or Messi from the announcement was a first for the competition, which was created in 2011.

No player has won the Uefa trophy more than Ronaldo, honoured for 2013-14, 2015-16 and 2016-17 with nominations in six other years.

Messi, meanwhile, claimed the 2010-11 and 2014-15 crowns alongside his six Ballon d’Or wins.

KH SPORT GRAPHIC LIONEL MESSI TROPHY v4

Both men won the Uefa Club Footballer of the Year award that preceded this prize on one occasion.

Although Barcelona failed to win a trophy last season, the Argentine was on the verge of a nomination with the fourth-most votes.

Votes were cast by the 80 coaches in charge of Champions League and Europa League group stage sides, along with 55 top journalists representing each nation.

Level with Messi in fourth was Champions League finalist Neymar, who entered the top ten for only the second time.

Robert Lewandowski is expected to pick up the prize for his amazing goalscoring exploits

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Robert Lewandowski is expected to pick up the prize for his amazing goalscoring exploitsCredit: Reuters
Premier League award winner Kevin de Bruyne will hope to put up a fight for the crown

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Premier League award winner Kevin de Bruyne will hope to put up a fight for the crownCredit: Getty Images – Getty

Bayern dominated the top ten with Thomas Muller, Thiago Alcantara and Joshua Kimmich accruing a decent number of votes.

Kylian Mbappe took seventh with 39 votes, leaving Ronaldo in tenth after leading Juventus to another Scudetto.

Uefa’s award will be handed out on October 1, during the Champions League group stage draw.

VP SPORT GRAPHIC EU GOLDEN SHOE v2

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Lionel Messi becomes football’s second BILLIONAIRE as Barcelona star pips Cristiano Ronaldo in Forbes’ rich list

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