Would you like to read more?Register for free to finish this article.Sign up now for the following benefits:Four FREE articles of your choice per monthBreaking news, comment and analysis from industry experts as it happensChoose from our portfolio of email newsletters To access this article REGISTER NOWWould you like print copies, app and digital replica access too? SUBSCRIBE for as little as £5 per week.
RelatedPosts Runarsson joins Arsenal on four-year deal Aguero could be out of action until November, Guardiola says Martinez completes £20m Aston Villa move Aston Villa vs. Man City Venue: Wembley stadium Kick off: 5:30PMThe first major trophy of the 2019-20 season will be decided this afternoon when Aston Villa take on defending champions Manchester City in the EFL Cup final at Wembley. Just seven weeks on from Man City winning the corresponding Premier League fixture 6-1, Villa will be looking to pull off a major shock in order to claim their first silverware since 1996. European matters have dominated the headlines surrounding Man City in recent weeks given their two-year ban for breaching Financial Fair Play rules and the famous victory over Real Madrid at the Bernabeu on Wednesday night. However, attention now comes back to the domestic game and, while it seems to be a case of when rather than if they will relinquish their hold on the Premier League title, there is no doubt that they remain the dominant force in cup competitions. Including the Community Shield, Man City have won seven of the last eight domestic cup finals available to top-flight teams and not since February 2018 – more than two years ago – have they been knocked out of the League or FA Cup, a run of 18 successive ties without elimination. City have been especially dominant in this competition, lifting the trophy in each of the past two seasons and putting themselves within 90 minutes of a third successive crown – a feat only Liverpool, with four in a row between 1981 and 1984, have ever achieved before. Indeed, Pep Guardiola’s side are already only the third team to have reached three successive EFL Cup finals, and their stellar record stretches back even further with four of their six titles coming in the last six seasons. City have certainly not been guilty of taking his competition lightly, then, and in recent times that is no doubt down to the desire of Guardiola to win every trophy he can. Today will be the Catalan’s 25th final as a top-flight manager and he has won an incredible 20 of the previous 24, including all five of his Wembley appearances as Man City boss when silverware has been on the line. Guardiola has also won the Champions League at Wembley during his Barcelona days and so enjoys a superb record at England’s national stadium, although Aston Villa are no strangers to it either. Despite a trophy drought which stretches back 24 years, today will be Villa’s fifth Wembley appearance in six seasons, most recently overcoming Derby County in the Championship playoff final last May. Avoiding an immediate return to the second tier will still be the priority for many fans, but silverware is always welcome and there will be thousands who travel down from the Midlands in the hope that Villa can upset the odds and rekindle their affinity with this competition. Today’s showdown will be their ninth appearance in the League Cup final – a tally bettered only by Liverpool – while their record of five wins is only behind Liverpool and Man City in the all-time list. Indeed, while there are a plethora of daunting recent statistics which Man City can boast in this competition, Villa still hold the distinction of being the team to have won more League Cup matches than any other team in history (140). It is the more recent form which is likely to prove most relevant, though, and in those stakes it threatens to be a one-sided affair at Wembley. Whereas City are going into the game off the back of that unforgettable late comeback win away to Real Madrid, Villa have lost their last three matches to sink to within one point of the relegation zone with 11 games of the league season remaining. Indeed, Dean Smith’s side have lost every game since booking their place in the final, although January’s dramatic 2-1 triumph over Leicester City in the semi-finals, which sealed a 3-2 aggregate win, does provide cause for optimism that they can pull off another shock this weekend. Villa’s whole run to the final should give them belief, in fact, with a 6-1 hammering of Crewe Alexandra in the second round being followed by victories over Premier League opposition in the form of Brighton & Hove Albion, Wolverhampton Wanderers and Liverpool, although the latter was against the Under-23s while Liverpool’s senior team was at the Club World Cup. Regardless, the history books will show a very difficult run to Wembley and so claiming the scalp of Man City too would complete a memorable EFL Cup campaign which, coupled with Premier League survival, would make for a hugely successful season. Man City’s own route to the final has been relatively straightforward with victories over Preston North End, Southampton and Oxford United before being drawn against local rivals Manchester United in the semi-finals. A 3-1 triumph at Old Trafford in the first leg of that tie looked to have wrapped things up, but Guardiola’s side were given a scare in the second leg and only scraped through after a 1-0 United win at the Etihad – City’s first defeat in this competition since losing to the same opposition by the same scoreline in October 2016, ending a run of 16 successive wins. City have not lost back-to-back League Cup games since 2010 and will be overwhelming favourites to avoid that fate this weekend, although Villa will be hoping for some kind of hangover from the euphoria of Wednesday’s win at the Bernabeu. Aston Villa possible XI: Nyland, Konsa, Mings, Hause, Guilbert, Nakamba, Luiz, Targett, El Ghazi, Samatta, Grealish. Man City possible XI: Bravo, Cancelo, Otamendi, Fernandinho, Mendy, De Bruyne, Rodri, D Silva, Mahrez, Aguero, Sterling.Tags: Aston VillaEFL CupManchester CityWembley Stadium
___The Pittsburgh Steelers are holding back a portion of their ticket inventory for the 2020 season to be ready in case social distancing measures are required in stadiums this fall.Individual single game tickets went on sale Friday. Team spokesman Burt Lauten says the club withheld 50% of the allotment as a “proactive” measure should the NFL use social distancing guidelines.The NFL released its 2020 schedule last month. The Steelers will play 10 games at Heinz Field, beginning with a preseason meeting with Tampa Bay on Aug. 14. The Steelers will make full refunds available “if the NFL or the team cancels a game and it cannot be replayed, or if it is played under conditions that prohibit fans from attending.” If games are postponed or rescheduled, the tickets will be valid for the new date. The season-ending Finals in Guangzhou is one of five tournaments in China at the end of the year. That is not including the Hong Kong Open in November.The Asia championships scheduled for April in Wuhan have been canceled and the European championships remain without a new date after being suspended since April.The BWF says it is still working on how to unfreeze the rankings and make necessary changes to Olympic qualifying.___Washington Wizards point guard John Wall is starting the “202 Assist” program to help with paying rent for people in the nation’s capital affected by the coronavirus pandemic. A small number of players worked out at Chase Field in downtown Phoenix and Salt River Fields, their spring training facility about 20 miles away in Scottsdale. The players were separated as much as possible to follow league-mandated guidelines, and the workouts were cleared by Major League Baseball.The baseball season was put on hold in early March due to COVID-19, two weeks before Opening Day.___ The governing body for Texas public high school sports says it will allow on-campus summer strength and conditioning programs as the state gradually eases rules put in place to limit the spread of the coronavirus.The University Interscholastic League canceled its spring sports championships, which were interrupted just as the boys’ basketball tournament was getting started in March. Schools have been closed for about two months. ___More AP sports: https://apnews.com/apf-sports and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports,Tampa Bay Lightning advance to face Dallas Stars in Stanley Cup finals, beating New York Islanders 2-1 in OT in Game 6 May 22, 2020 Rules for summer conditioning programs require workouts be voluntary and students should be allowed to participate virtually from home if they want to. No showers or locker rooms can be used and there should be at least one staff member per 20 students to ensure proper social distancing, hygiene and safety measures.Schools must provide hand sanitizer or hand-washing stations. All equipment must be disinfected throughout the day.Schools are also encouraged to pre-screen any students or staff prior to workouts for any signs of illness.___Milwaukee Bucks guard Pat Connaughton raised over $200,000 for COVID-19 relief during an 11-hour radiothon. Abbott has already issued new rules to allow youth sports leagues to resume in June and for some professional leagues to hold events without spectators. But the state rules have so far not touched college sports.“Once we get to college football season, our goal right now is to have college football season start as planned, with fans in stands,” the Republican governor told Austin television station KXAN. “What we don’t know is what the capacity level would be.”The University of Texas announced this week it would open campus to students for the regularly scheduled Aug. 26 start of the fall semester. But officials have not detailed social distancing plans or how the school will handle residence halls and athletics.___A group of Power Five coaches led by Michigan’s Erik Bakich is proposing a later start to the 2022 college baseball season. Associated Press Under the proposal, there would be nine weeks of preseason practice instead of five, the regular season would run from the third week of March to the third week of June and the College World Series would wrap up the last week of July. Currently, regular season begins the third week of February and the CWS ends the last week of June.Past efforts to move back the season were rooted in cold-weather schools’ concerns about competitive equity because they had to travel to the South or West to play games the first month of the season.The impetus this time is finances. In the last two weeks, Bowling Green and Furman have dropped baseball to trim costs. Moving the bulk of the season into warmer months would reduce travel costs for northern teams, help increase attendance and revenue from concessions and merchandise for most schools and allow players to miss less class time.Bakich says Division I coaches have given widespread approval to the proposal. He says the next step is to recruit athletic directors who will take up the cause, bring it to faculty athletic representatives and presidents and get it entered into the NCAA legislative process. The John Wall Family Foundation set a goal of raising $300,000 over the next month.The program is named for Washington’s area code and will work with the city to find those in need and disperse funds.Wall is a five-time NBA All-Star who was drafted No. 1 overall by the Wizards in the 2010 draft. He sat out all of the 2019-20 season after tearing his left Achilles tendon.His foundation donated 2,300 masks and hundreds of meals to front-line workers in Washington and in his home state of North Carolina in April.___ Permitted actions are limited by the NCAA to voluntary activities supervised by strength and conditioning personnel.___Badminton is aiming to begin its revamped schedule in mid-August at the Hyderabad Open in India.The world tour would resume at the Taipei Open from Sept. 1-6 in an updated calendar released by the Badminton World Federation.The Thomas & Uber Cup Finals in Denmark are confirmed on the new dates of Oct. 3-11 and the World Tour Finals have been pushed back a week to Dec. 16-20. Connaughton was on the air on 94.5 ESPN Milwaukee and 100.5 ESPN Madison throughout the day Thursday. He was joined on air at various times by Bucks teammates Giannis Antetokounmpo, Donte DiVincenzo and Kyle Korver as well as coach Mike Budenholzer, general manager Jon Horst and co-owner Marc Lasry.His guests on the radio show included Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers, Packers coach Matt LaFleur, Milwaukee Brewers players Christian Yelich and Josh Hader, Brewers manager Craig Counsell, and Wisconsin men’s basketball coach Greg Gard.Connaughton’s show raised $205,859 for Feeding America Eastern Wisconsin, Second Harvest Foodbank of Southern Wisconsin, and Connaughton’s With Us Foundation. The $205,859 total included a match of all donations by Herb Kohl Philanthropies.___Texas Gov. Greg Abbott says he thinks college football will return on schedule with some level of fans in the stands. Share This StoryFacebookTwitteremailPrintLinkedinRedditThe Latest on the effects of the coronavirus outbreak on sports around the world:___The Arizona Diamondbacks have started individual workouts as baseball begins a measured return to play from the coronavirus pandemic. ___The Southeastern Conference is allowing voluntary athletic activities to occur on each of its campuses starting June 8, at the discretion of each university.SEC officials noted the workouts would take place “under strict supervision of designated university personnel and safety guidelines developed by each institution.”The SEC had suspended all athletic activities through May 31 due to the pandemic. SEC officials consider June 8 the start of a transition period allowing student-athletes to adapt gradually to full training.The SEC decided to resume athletic activities June 8 with the guidance of the league’s task force on medical guidance and return to activity. That task force includes public health, infectious disease and sports medicine professionals from each of the league’s 14 member schools. The task force prepared a series of best practices for screening, testing, monitoring, tracing, social distancing and maintaining clean environments to serve as a guide for each school. Novak Djokovic is planning to set up a series of tennis tournaments in the Balkan region while the sport is suspended amid the coronavirus pandemic.The top-ranked player’s media team says the Adria Tour will start in Belgrade on June 13 and end on July 5 with Djokovic’s exhibition match against Bosnian player Damir Dzumhur in Sarajevo. The other events are scheduled for the Croatian Adriatic resort of Zadar, Montenegro and Banja Luka in northern Bosnia.Djokovic will play in all of the round robin tournaments. The other participants are to include Dominic Thiem and Grigor Dimitrov.Organizers left open the possibility that the “humanitarian” tour could be played in front of spectators.No professional tennis tournaments have been played since March. The French Open has been postponed and Wimbledon has been canceled because of the coronavirus. The Latest: Diamondbacks begins individual workouts
Burnley are the latest club to be linked with Everton and Ireland midfielder James McCarthy.According to the Sun the move could involve a swap deal for defender Michael Keane.Newcastle have also been linked with McCarthy in recent weeks. Photo © Pixabay Meanwhile hosts Russia take on Portugal in Group A of the Confederations Cup in Moscow at 4pm this afternoon.European champions Portugal opened with a two-all draw against Mexico while Russia beat New Zealand.Mexico take on New Zealand in Sochi at 7pm.