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FA Cup upsets, Serie A shocks and Nigerian forwards getting on the scoresheet. Here are some of the top stories in the beautiful game over this past weekend.  

Liverpool Lose to Brighton In FA Cup 

The Reds fell to Brighton on Sunday as their poor season continued. Harvey Elliott had put the holders ahead on the half-hour mark, but Lewis Dunk pulled the hosts level just 9 mins later. Kaoru Mitoma’s composed finish in the 92nd minute sealed the win for De Zerbi’s side, as Liverpool’s chances of finishing the season with a trophy suffered a major hit. This was Brighton’s second win over Jürgen Klopp’s side in three games with their first meeting ending in a 3-3 draw at Anfield, and we might be witnessing the birth of Liverpool’s new Bogey Team. Mitoma, the star of the show, completed his 10th dribble against Liverpool this season – the most by any player against them – with half of those coming directly against Trent Alexander-Arnold.  

 Nigerian Forwards Shine  

It was a good weekend to be a Nigerian forward in Europe, with some of its most notable names scoring important goals. Napoli forward, Victor Osimhen – arguably the hottest striker on the planet right now – continued his impressive form with a world-class goal against José Mourinho’s AS Roma as the Neapolitan side secured their 17th win in 20 league games and maintained their 13pt lead on top of the Serie A. Osimhen leads the league in goals with 14 scored so far, and his valuation is now reported to be £120m as he continues to attract interest from England.   

Victor Osimhen transfer plans up in smoke for Erik ten Hag as Fabrizio Romano spills beans on why striker doesn't fancy Man Utd

Second on the Serie A scoring chart is Osimhen’s countryman, Ademola Lookman. The Atalanta forward is having the season of his life and with 15 goal contributions (12 Goals, 3 assists), only Osimhen (14 goals, 3 assists) is having a better statistical season than he is. Atalanta – who beat Sampdoria 2-0 – are now up to 4th, just 2pts behind 2nd place Inter.  

Elsewhere, Kelechi Iheancho found the back of the net for Leicester City as they managed a 1-0 win over Walsall. Since his FA Cup debut in January 2016, Iheanacho’s 17 goals is the most by any player in the competition, with the Nigerian striker winning the tournament with The Foxes in the 2020/21 season. 

AC Milan Stunned By Sassuolo  

Milan’s recent struggles against Sassuolo continued as they suffered a heavy 5-2 defeat at home – their 3rd loss in 5 games to the visitors. This was only the first time since April 1997 (1-6 vs. Juventus) where AC Milan have conceded at least 5 goals at home in the league. This loss was also the Rossoneri’s third in a row – the first of such a run since September 2019 under Marco Giampaolo.  

Sassuolo were 2-0 ahead in the 21st minute through goals from Grégoire Defrel and Davide Frattesi before Olivier Giroud pulled one back for Milan. However, 3 goals from Domenico Berardi, Armand Laurienté and Matheus Henrique put the game beyond reach before Divock Origi grabbed a consolation goal for the home side. The result and scoreline presents a new worry for Milan, who have now conceded 18 goals in 7 games (in all competitions) in 2023 – the most by any side in Europe’s top 5 leagues.  

Man City Knock Arsenal Out of FA Cup 

A Nathan Ake cool finish meant The Gunners suffered a 1-0 defeat to Manchester City in their first meeting of the season – the host’s first FA Cup win against Arsenal since February 1904 having lost 4 games in a row to the 14-time winners. You wouldn’t be entirely mistaking if you thought Arsenal manager, Mikel Arteta, wasn’t going all-in for the win on Friday night.

Man City knocks out Arsenal 1-0 in the FA Cup - The San Diego Union-Tribune

Thomas Partey was taken off at half-time, while Bukayo Saka was pulled out in the closing stages as they searched for an equalizer; two somewhat puzzling decisions. The defeat for Arsenal was their 13th in 14 games (W1) in all competitions against Manchester City including each of their last 6. It was also Pep Guardiola’s 18th win against Arsenal, the most he’s had against any side in his managerial career.  It was a close game, as the scoreline suggests, and sets up an even tastier clash in the Premier League on the 15th of February.  

Monza Complete Historic Double Over Juventus  

Following their 15-point deduction last weekend, Juventus’ nightmare start to 2023 continued as they lost 2-0 to Monza in Turin. It was the first time a newly promoted side had completed a league double over the Old Lady, and the result saw the visitors move to 11th on the table while a leapfrogged Juventus dropped to 13th. Monza surprisingly controlled possession with 55% to Juventus’ 45%, but it was their efficiency in front of goal (3 shots, all on target) that set them apart as the host racked up 22 shots but barely bothered Monza shot-stopper, Michele Di Gregorio.  

Reims Draw With PSG, Now 12-Unbeaten In League  

Arsenal loanee, Folarin Balogun scored his 11th Ligue 1 goal of the season – his 12th in all competitions – as Reims secured a very late draw against the defending champions. PSG went down to 10-men before the hour mark as Marco Verratti received his marching orders just 14 mins after coming on. Prior to the red card, Nyemar had put them 1-0 up, and they looked set for a routine win.

The photos from the encounter in Riyadh | Paris Saint-Germain

However, the red card expectedly signalled a change in momentum and from then on, Reims pilled on the pressure with 17 shots in total on the night. The 41 shots faced by PSG against Reims this season was the highest faced by a single team since the QSI era began in the 2011-12 season and it seemed a matter of time before the Parisians cracked, which they eventually did. Folarin Balogun waited till the 96th minute to break PSG’s hearts – the latest goal PSG had conceded in Ligue 1 since Opta began to collect this data in 2006/07. With the other 3 teams behind PSG all drawing their games, the result wasn’t that much of a let-down, but for 30-year-old Reims manager, Will Still, it’s one he’ll cherish for a while.   

Alfred Schreuder Sacked By Ajax 

Following 4 successive 1–1 results in the league, Ajax had let go of their manager Alfred Schreuder. The former Club Brugge manager who had taken over from Erik ten Hag in June had a good start in the Eredivisie, but an abysmal performance in the UEFA Champions League – where they lost 4 of their 6 games – raised eyebrows. The 4 successive draws which came after the FIFA World Cup confirmed those doubts as Ajax, who were now 7 pts behind league leaders Feyenoord, had to cut their losses. Reserves Team manager, John Heitinga took charge of the team on Sunday as they returned to winning ways with a 4-1 win at Excelsior where they enjoyed a jaw dropping 80% possession to go with their 879 passes (compared to the host’s 212). 

Bayern Held To Third Draw In A Row 

Speaking of consecutive 1-1 draws, Bayern’s 3rd in a row has seen their 7 pt lead in the Bundesliga cut to just one by Union Berlin, who themselves have recorded 3 straight wins. The Bavarians were held by Frankfurt at the Allianz Arena following draws to RB Leipzig and Koln over the past week as criticism of Julian Nagelsmann begins to grow.

Alaba 'disappointed and upset' with Bayern Munich as contract stand-off continues | Sporting News Canada

Jamal Musiala, who leads Bayern in both goals and assists in the league, had a good game as he created 3 key chances but the Europa League holders managed not to break with Randal Kolo Muani scoring a second half equalizer to cancel out Leroy Sané’s first half opener. With games against Wolfsburg, Bochum, Gladbach and Union Berlin coming next, there are understandable concerns that this title could slip out of Bayern’s hands.  

Barcelona Move 5pts Clear in LaLiga 

Real Madrid’s 0-0 draw against Real Sociedad on Sunday meant Barcelona’s 1-0 win over Girona a day before was enough to widen the gap at the top of LaLiga. In Robert Lewandowski’s absence, the Catalans recorded their 3rd successive 1-0 win in all competitions, though it came at the cost of Ousmane Dembélé suffering a thigh injury expected to keep him out of action for at least a month.  

Barcelona confirm Robert Lewandowski eligible to play against Espanyol despite red card in previous match

At Santiago Bernabéu, Carlo Ancelotti’s men searched for a winner, but it just wasn’t meant to be. Vinicius attempted 21 dribbles (9 completed), the most in a LaLiga game since at least the 2005/06 season, but it was Sociedad goalie, Alex Remiro who stole the show with a series of spectacular saves.  

 João Cancelo To Join Bayern On Loan 

In one of the most bizarre transfer news of the winter window, Manchester City’s João Cancelo is set to join Bayern till the end of the season with an option to make the move permanent for £61.5m. The Portuguese fullback has seen his game time at the Etihad suffer a significant reduction since the Qatar World Cup was over, and he’s been an unused substitute in 3 games while playing 45 mins or fewer in 2 other games. In the only two games in which he completed 90 mins, Manchester City have suffered losses (vs. Manchester United & Southampton) and Pep Guardiola is said to be unhappy with the versatile player.  

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