Sky Blues host Forest Green as the best and worst defensive records go head to head.

Forest Green look for their first win since August in their first ever matchup against the seventh placed Coventry City.

Coventry are hoping to bounce back from their first loss in five games, losing 1-0 away at Accrington Stanley. Despite this, City have made an impressive start to the season boasting the best defensive record in the league conceding only seven goals.

This is in stark contrast to the Rovers who hold the worst defensive record, conceding 30 goals in only 13 games with a whopping -20 goal differential. This leaves the club sitting one point above bottom of the league.

Forest Green boss Mark Cooper told Green Devil TV he was “Shell-shocked” at their 4-0 thrashing away at Newport County. However, a bright spot for the Rovers as there is no new injury news, although Cooper may look to start German striker Omar Bugiel tonight with his side struggling to score goals.

The German’s three league goals have earned five of the six points Forest Green have won this season.

The Sky Blue’s are hoping midfielder Liam Kelly could make a return after foot injury which saw him miss out on the 1-0 loss to Accrington Stanley after failing a late fitness test.

Coventry Manager Mark Robbins could look to hand starts to Stuart Beavon and Mark McNulty after the club failing to find the net in the last two league games, scoring only 14 times in the league all season.

In team news, the midlands club have also secured the contract extension of academy graduate Jordan Willis this week.

The defenders contract was due to expire in June 2018 but will now run up to June 2019. The 23 year old has made 139 appearances since 2011.

https://twitter.com/Coventry_City/status/920273954169851904

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Is grassroots football a dying art?

In the UK, football has always lead the way for being the most watched and played sport. From grassroots to academy and then elite football it is a huge part of life in the UK.

Despite this, does a lower standard of football receive the care and attention necessary to get the most out of the people who are playing it?

In just 2014, the government released a statement claiming they would be a £50 billion price boost into grassroots funding in order to “build state-of-the-art facilities and develop the next generation of England football talent.”

This was also backed up by FA chairman, Greg Dyke saying on Gov.UK, “Significantly improving our grassroots football infrastructure is vital. Everyone playing the game at every level deserves the best opportunity to reach their potential.”

Speaking to members of local Sunday league football side Yeadon A.F.C, it seemed funding in grassroots football is still a major issue despite the government’s promises to improve it.

Local 20 year old player, Joel Shear said “I’ve been playing a long time, nearly ten years now, and I’ve never played on a nice football pitch.”

This was also backed up by 19 year old local Sunday league player Danny Baxter saying, “I think personally their needs to be more groundsman.”

He continued “The state of these pitches, there’s bobbles everywhere and how are you meant to enhance your ability as a football player when you’re playing on pitches like this.”

With teams paying from £600 to £1000 per year, it’s clear the players want a change in the conditions of the local pitches.

This was also supported by local 20 year old referee Brandon Blackham saying “Having refereed for a couple of years now, it’s hard to think of a single match I walked off and thought ‘well that pitch was in good condition’ because it’s such a rarity.”

“Not only does it damage the chances of improving their ability, but some of these pitches are dangerous and could easily break someone’s ankle if you’re not careful.”

Despite this, organisations like the FA and Football Foundation still claim to pride themselves on funding grassroots football, although Saturday and Sunday teams up and down the country miss out on games week in, week out due to terrible conditions of football pitches.

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Monaco Vs Man City – Match Review

Manchester City were dumped out of the Champions League knockout stage last night after losing 3-1 (6-6 on aggregate) to Monaco at the Stade Louis II.

After a hectic first half which saw Monaco come out firing, the home side had a 2-0 lead after 29 minutes thanks to goals from 18 year old Kylian Mbappe and Fabinho putting them firmly in the driving seat.

The 18 year old has been the topic of much conversation recently and he came back to haunt City again with his 11th goal in his last 11 appearances in all competitions.

Mbappe

Despite Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola promising to go to the second leg and attack Monaco in order to cancel them out, City failed to record a shot on target in the first half of the game.

Although the first half was controlled by Monaco, City started the second half much brighter and Leroy Sane turned the tie on its head in the 71st minute latching on to a loose ball in the six yard box.

With that away Goal City had enough for qualification into the quarter finals, although 13 minutes from tie Monaco struck again. Thomas Lemar free kick allowed Tiemoue Bakayoko to head in Monaco’s crucial third goal six minutes after City scored.

Monaco went on to win the game 3-1 putting them into the quarter finals on away goals. This defeat marks the first time in Guardiola’s managerial career he has not reached the semi-finals of this competition.

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Guardiola said after the game “I couldn’t convince them to attack” as he took responsibility for City’s defeat. He went on to tell BT sport:

“We played exceptional second half but we forgot to do that in the first. We wanted to defend aggressively. We were better in the second but it wasn’t enough.

“Normally we play to a good level but here we didn’t. We will learn. The team does not have a lot of experience.

“We will improve but this competition is so demanding. Sometimes we have to be special and be lucky. We were not.”

This leaves Leicester City to be the only English team in the last 8 of the competition in their debut season in Europe.

 

Monaco Vs Manchester City Preview

Manchester City travel to Monaco tonight in hope of progressing to the Champions league quarter final for the second consecutive season.

After a thrilling first leg tie at the Etihad, Monaco are looking to overcome a 5-3 deficit on a night which could be hugely affected by a Manchester City own goal which Pep Guardiola has said his team a “very aware of this”.

It was clear prior to the first leg that goals would be the key to this game. Monaco are the highest goal scores in Europe’s top five divisions with 81league goals (123 in all competitions) and Guardiola’s new look City side have come under a lot of scrutiny due to their lack of defensive quality. This is despite spending £50 million on John Stones in the Summer.

Regardless it’s clear City’s attacking quality has the ability to drag them out of a trouble as it did in the first leg, dramatically coming from 2-1 and 3-2 down to win 5-3 in a Champions League game that will live long in the memory of many Mancunians.

As for team news Monaco are without attacking midfielder Boschilia and forward Guido Carillo. It is expected that first leg goal scorers Radamel Falcao and 18 year old wonder kid Kylian Mbappe will lead the line for Monaco. This is something Pep Guardiola will have to be very wary of after the destruction shown in the first leg and throughout the season.

For City the only two noticeable absentees are Gabriel Jesus (foot) and Ilkay Gundogen (knee). A huge boost for Pep’s men could be the return of Captain Vincent Kompany for the first time since November. It is also expected for Willy Caballero to regain his number one slot after Claudio Bravo returned to the side in a 2-0 win over Middlesbrough in the FA Cup on Saturday.

Pep Guardiola told The Telegraph yesterday it would be a “huge mistake” to go there and try and defend their first leg lead.

Despite this season’s heavy criticism on Guardiola’s defensive tactics, he went on to say “Monaco are able to score from many different ways. The best way is to score goals, take the ball and attack as much as possible, it’s the only way to beat a team like this.”

If this game is anything like the first leg and Guardiola sticks to his words of needing to attack then it should be a spectacle. Monaco must win 2-0, 3-1 or 4-2 to progress to the quarters, a game which could be heavily influenced by a Manchester City away goal.615661704

Manchester City Vs Huddersfield Town

Manchester City came from 1-0 down to thrash Huddersfield Town 5-1 in the FA Cup last night in a dominant display at the Etihad stadium.

Guardiola started several big name players such as Sergio Aguero, Fernandinhio and John Stones whereas Huddersfield made 9 changes prior to their weekend game against Championship table toppers Newcastle United.

Despite the convincing score line, City’s shaky defence was at question again last night after just seven minutes when Huddersfield took a shock lead through Harry Bunn.

City’s fiery attack then dragged them out of trouble with goals from Sergio Aguero, Pablo Zabaleta, Leroy Sane and Kelechi Ihenacho took the wind out of Huddersfield’s sails.

Pep Guardiola told BBC after the game “”I think this is their best chance of silverware this season.” He then went on to comment on the performances of Sergio Aguero and Claudio Bravo saying “”It’s the best Sergio Aguero ever. Today the performance was amazing. The runs were at the right moment and the right tempo. His performance was top – the same with Claudio Bravo, his performance with the foot helped us build up.”

Regardless of Guardiola’s positive feedback and City’s impressive attacking display, their defence was still a major talking point after conceding an early goal in the 5th round replay. Claudio Bravo, who was at fault for the first goal when Harry Bunn’s effort crept under the City goalkeeper.

Bravo had previously conceded 16 goals in 24 shots in the premier league before coming under a lot of scrutiny and being dropped for second choice keeper Willy Caballero.

Although the city Keepers have taken a lot of criticism, it’s been clear the defence has not lived up to expectations including £50 million man John Stones. After a number of high profile errors it’s clear that Stones and Nicholas Otamendi haven’t lived up to their considerably large price tags.

Although they still maintain a respectable position and the table and are very much still competing in the FA cup and in Europe, it’s clear the defence needs tightening up having only kept just 13 clean sheets all season.

It has commonly been suggested that Guardiola’s obsession with his style of play has come as more of a priority than the basics of defending. Despite this Pep told Sky Sports “”It is not about the system,” after their 4-2 loss at Leicester in December.

Sevilla Vs Leicester City

Leicester City have kept their Champions’ League dream alive with that crucial away goal in their 2-1 loss to Sevilla. It could also potentially kick start their woeful Premier League campaign.

After last season’s fairy-tale of winning the title and confirming Champions’ League football for the first time, this season has not at all lived up to the 2016 heroics. Despite this, Jamie Vardy’s 73rd minute goal may just be the thing to put the spark back in the club.

After going 758 minutes without scoring, and being 2-0 to a very dangerous looking Sevilla side, last season’s talisman Vardy confidently slotted home Danny Drinkwater’s superb cross and take a vital away goal to the King Power Stadium.

That was Vardy’s first shot in 380 minutes and his first goal since the beginning of December.

Kasper Schmiechel was Leicester’s hero on the night, making an important penalty save when the score was 0-0 as well as making a number of stops throughout the match, which saw Sevilla maintain over 70% possession.

Schmiechel told BT Sport “We lost the game, that is disappointing. We certainly are not celebrating. 2-1 away from home in the Champions’ League? We will take that.”

It is no doubt that filling N’Golo Kante’s position was a huge task and he has been massively missed but throughout periods the tie there were glimpses of last season’s Leicester. There was tireless running, tackling, intercepting and heading against a team who were technically a lot better than them, something which epitomized them Leicester season.

To stand any chance in the return leg, the Foxes will have to be a lot more organised and anticipate Sevilla’s attacking ability. A 1-0 win would be enough to send them through to the quarter-final but one away goal can completely change the balance of the game.

Coverage of UK Snooker Championship

In the other final 16 game, Luca Brecel takes on Stephen Maguire. After a couple of convincing performances in the earlier rounds, Brecel takes on his biggest challenge yet against 19th in the world Stephen Maguire. Maguire breezed through the first two rounds losing only three frames, but was then pushed to the limit in the 3rd round winning 6-5 against Fergal O’Brien .

Mark Williams takes on Liam Highfield in order to face five time winner Ronnie O’Sullivan in the UK Snooker Championship. Highfield, who turns 26 today, occasionally practices with O’Sullivan and has already guaranteed himself £15,000 in prize money which could go up to £22,500 if he manages to pull off a shock against Wales-born Mark Williams.

Earlier:

16:55

Jones snookers Gilbert very impressively to which he cannot avoid a foul shot and it’s all over. Jones comfortably wins the match 6-2 and breezes through to the quarter final of the UK Snooker Championship alongside John Higgins who also wins comfortably 6 frames to 3.

16:45

Jones misses a pink that would of seen the frame out. Gilbert needs a snooker to get back in to this. Jones in the driving seat.

16:42

Jamie Jones starts to crack slightly under the pressure playing a couple of poor shots. Gilbert right back in this after back to back pots.

16:32

Jones looking comfortable here leading 5-2 in the 8th frame and 49-8 in the current frame.

16:29

Elsewhere in the other round of 16 match, David Gilbert takes on Jamie Jones to see who will join John Higgins in the quarter finals.

16:25

John Higgins beats Mark Allen 6 frames to 3 in the round of 16 at the UK snooker championship in York. Allen watches on as John Higgins completes the ninth frame with ease at 113-0. Higgins holds off an honorable comeback from Allen to get one step closer to the final of the championship.

16:22

Higgins really hitting his stride in this frame after Allen squanders his chance to get back into this match. 59 ahead with 71 remaining.

16:18

Allen decides to take on a risky shot instead of playing safe, gifting a big chance for Higgins to make him pay.

16:16

Higgins starts off the ninth frame with a very impressive black ball pot as the game is firmly in Higgins’ control.

16:14

Welcome to live coverage of the last 16 match between John Higgins and Mark Allen.