Ben Chilwell succeeded in winning Thomas Tuchel’s trust at Chelsea and now faces old club Leicester

Ben Chilwell’s itinerary for the coming weeks includes a trip to Porto for the Champions League final against Manchester City followed by hopefully quite a few nights at Wembley playing for England at Euro 2020.

But none of those stellar occasions will make him quite as nervous as facing former club Leicester City in this Saturday’s FA Cup final.

‘The FA Cup against Leicester is the big one for me. To play against them in the final… there has not been a game in my career that I’ve wanted to win more,’ he told MOTDx this week.

Ben Chilwell has enjoyed an impressive first season in Chelsea colours and could end it by winning both the FA Cup and the Champions League this month

It was Frank Lampard who brought Chilwell in  from Leicester last summer in a £50m deal

It was Frank Lampard who brought Chilwell in  from Leicester last summer in a £50m deal

There were concerns over his place at first but Chilwell has won the trust of Thomas Tuchel

There were concerns over his place at first but Chilwell has won the trust of Thomas Tuchel 

Not enough time has passed since Chilwell’s £50million move from Leicester to Chelsea last August for it to be any other way.

The left-back is still close to his former team-mates and he admitted that losing to them at the King Power Stadium back in January was the low point of his Chelsea career so far.

That 2-0 defeat proved to be Frank Lampard’s final Premier League match in the Chelsea job.

Chilwell had been Lampard’s undisputed first-choice at left-back – unsurprising given he signed him – but for a short time when Thomas Tuchel came in, that looked in doubt.

The German manager wanted to give everyone a clean slate and that offers Marcos Alonso, frozen out by Lampard, a route back into the team.

By Chilwell’s own admission, Alonso was far better suited to playing as a wing-back in a defensive five.

Tuchel restored Marcos Alonso to the Chelsea side at first, favouring five at the back

Tuchel restored Marcos Alonso to the Chelsea side at first, favouring five at the back

But Chilwell has regained his place on the left, featuring in all of Chelsea's important games

But Chilwell has regained his place on the left, featuring in all of Chelsea’s important games

‘I’ve not really played in a back five before. I played the first game when he [Tuchel] came in against Wolves, didn’t have my best game, wasn’t really sure on positioning, where I was meant to be,’ he told Soccer AM this week.

‘So when I came out the team I just took it as an opportunity to learn in training. Learn off Marcos, what he is doing in games. Ask the manager questions, what he thinks I can do to improve my play.

‘It just gave me that little extra push to give that little bit more to show him you should be playing.

‘And when you get your opportunity to play, make sure you take it.’

It soon became apparent to Tuchel that Chilwell could do the business as a wing-back and he has been preferred in every game of any note since.

Tuchel thanks Chilwell after he scored the second goal in Chelsea's first leg win over Porto

Tuchel thanks Chilwell after he scored the second goal in Chelsea’s first leg win over Porto 

He also completed both legs of the Champions League semi-final win over Real Madrid

He also completed both legs of the Champions League semi-final win over Real Madrid

Chelsea fixtures 

May 15 Leicester City (Wembley)

FA Cup final

May 18 Leicester City (H)

May 23 Aston Villa (A)

May 29 Manchester City (Porto)

Champions League final

He played in both legs of the Champions League quarter-final against Porto and the semi-final with Real Madrid, against Manchester City in the FA Cup semi-final, and in big league games with Manchester United, Liverpool and Arsenal. First choice again, beyond all doubt.

So while there have been murmurings that Tuchel was so annoyed with his team’s performance in the 1-0 loss to Arsenal on Wednesday, chances are Chilwell will line up against his old club at Wembley.

Chilwell joined Leicester’s academy at the age of 12 and they gave him the perfect grounding in the game.

It was Claudio Ranieri that handed the teenager his first-team debut in a League Cup match during the 2015-16 title-winning season that propelled him and his team into immortality.

He was linked with a move to Liverpool in the summer of 2016 but instead penned a new five-year contract with Leicester. 

Chilwell pictured with Leicester manager Brendan Rodgers following a match last season

Chilwell pictured with Leicester manager Brendan Rodgers following a match last season

Chilwell scored a stunning goal for Leicester away to Watford shortly after the restart last year

Chilwell scored a stunning goal for Leicester away to Watford shortly after the restart last year

When Chilwell caught the eye on his Premier League debut against Everton in December 2016 he was a rare bright point in a season in which the reigning champions flirted with relegation.

Gradually, he displaced Christian Fuchs from the left-back position and would go from strength to strength in the three subsequent seasons.

His crossing developed during that time and the assists started to flow. His finishing, too, not least with the left-footed rocket he scored at Watford just after lockdown last season.

Such moments convinced Chelsea to make another swoop on Leicester and Chilwell duly followed N’Golo Kante and Danny Drinkwater in treading the path from the East Midlands to Stamford Bridge.

Chilwell (left) slides in to celebrate with Mason Mount and Christian Pulisic against Real

Chilwell (left) slides in to celebrate with Mason Mount and Christian Pulisic against Real

An awful lot has happened in the meantime but Chilwell has enjoyed a fine season and it could yet conclude with the first two medals of his career.

Not that Leicester are exactly struggling without him. They sit above Chelsea in the Premier League table following another positive campaign under Brendan Rodgers and will be doing their utmost to win the FA Cup for the first time.

The emergence of James Justin and then 19-year-old Luke Thomas in Chilwell’s old position has shown yet again Leicester’s ability to move on following big name departures.

But Chilwell has undoubtedly taken a step up and delivered the goods. He could be set for one hell of a summer.

Chelsea vs Leicester – FA Cup final: Team news, kick-off time, TV channel, live stream, odds

Chelsea and Leicester go head-to-head in the FA Cup final on Saturday evening as the pair battle it out for the last major domestic trophy of the season.

The match will be played in front of 21,000 fans at Wembley Stadium, in what is perhaps the most significant return to normality for British football since the coronavirus pandemic began. 

It is the first of two finals in the coming weeks for Thomas Tuchel, who has also guided his Chelsea side to the Champions League final in what has been an almost miraculous debut campaign with the Blues. 

They secured a spot in the FA Cup final with another benchmark win over Manchester City, who they will meet once again in the Champions League final on May 29. 

Meanwhile, Brendan Rodgers is hoping to land his first piece of silverware for Leicester, who have not won a trophy since the Premier League title back in 2016. 

The pair are both still also competing to ensure a top-four spot in the Premier League, with Leicester sat third and Chelsea fourth, and they’ll play again just three days after the final in another intriguing clash. 

With the highly-anticipated spectacle now quickly approaching, Sportsmail takes you through the all-important information. 

Chelsea and Leicester will battle for the prestigious FA Cup trophy on Saturday at Wembley

When is Chelsea vs Leicester?

Chelsea and Leicester go to battle in the FA Cup final on Saturday, May 15. 

The all-important match-up will take place at Wembley Stadium and will get underway at 5.15pm. 

After a successful pilot event in the semi-finals, where 4,000 fans were in attendance as Leicester defeated Southampton, there will now be 21,000 fans at Wembley for the final.   

How to watch the FA Cup final 

The FA Cup final between Chelsea and Leicester will be broadcast live on both BT Sport and BBC One, with programming starting at 3pm for the former and 1.45pm for the latter. 

BT Sport subscribers can watch the game on both the BT website and app. 

As for BBC, the match will also be available to watch on both iPlayer and the BBC Sport website, with highlights at 11.20pm, after Match of the Day has ended. 

Routes to the final 

Hakim Ziyech scored the all-important goal as Chelsea beat Man City in the semi-final

Hakim Ziyech scored the all-important goal as Chelsea beat Man City in the semi-final

Kelechi Iheanacho scored his fourth goal of the FA Cup and Leicester beat Southampto

Kelechi Iheanacho scored his fourth FA Cup goal of the season as Leicester beat Southampton

 Chelsea 

Round 3: 4-0 vs Morecambe (H)

Round 4: 3-1 vs Luton (H)

Round 5: 1-0 vs Barnsley (A)

Quarter-final: 2-0 vs Sheffield United (H)

Semi-final: 1-0 vs Manchester City (Wembley)

Leicester 

Round 3: 4-0 vs Stoke (A)

Round 4: 3-1 vs Brentford (A)

Round 5: 1-0 vs Brighton (A)

Quarter-final: 3-1 vs Man United (H)

Semi-final: 1-0 vs Southamptom (Wembley)

To put it simply, Chelsea have been simply phenomenal en route to the FA Cup final.  

It has to be said, they didn’t have the most challenging of routes to the semi-final, with relegated Sheffield United the only Premier League team they faced.  

But in beating Manchester City in the semi-final, Chelsea laid down a genuine marker. And having conceded just one goal in their five matches to date, Leicester are going to have to put in some performance to take the win on Saturday. 

Leicester have also been impressive on their way to the final, seeing off three Premier League sides in Brighton, Manchester United and Southampton. 

Their most eye-catching win is undoubtedly their 3-1 victory over Manchester United, where Kelechi Iheanacho scored two of his four FA Cup goals this season. 

Chelsea vs Leicester: The key stats 

Thomas Tuchel is guiding Chelsea into his first of two finals in the upcoming weeks

Brendan Rodgers is looking to claim his first piece of silverware as Leicester boss

Thomas Tuchel (left) and Brendan Rodgers (right) will go head-to-head on Saturday evening

 Chelsea

 League position: 4th

Top FA Cup scorer: Abraham (4) 

Most FA Cup assists: Hudson-Odoi (2)

FA Cup goals scored: 11

FA Cup goals conceded: 1

Last five league matches: 3W, 1D, 1L   

Leicester 

 League position: 3rd

Top FA Cup scorer: Iheanacho (4)

Most FA Cup assists: Tielemans (2)

FA Cup goals scored: 12

FA Cup goals conceded: 2

Last five league matches: 3W, 1D, 1L

Team news

The big news for Chelsea is that Tuchel has already confirmed substitute ‘keeper Kepa Arrizabalaga will start in goal, in a decision that may unsettle some Blues supporters.

Elsewhere, Tuchel has some lingering concerns in the middle of the park. Mateo Kovacic, who has missed Chelsea’s last nine matches in all competitions, is in a race against time to play on Saturday.

The midfielder was unable to feature against Arsenal on Wednesday, but Tuchel previously confirmed the FA Cup was a possibility.

Finally, Tuchel will be sweating on the fitness of N’Golo Kante, who missed out against Arsenal with an achilles injury.

As for Leicester, they will certainly be without winger Harvey Barnes, who is out for the season – and the Euros – with a knee injury.

Defender Jonny Evans is fighting to be available, however, having missed the last two games against Newcastle and Manchester United with a heel injury.

Chelsea vs Leicester: The odds

Despite Chelsea’s disappointing performance in their midweek 1-0 home loss to Chelsea, it’s Tuchel’s side who come into the final as the favourites among the bookies. 

The blues are favoured at 4/19 to prevail, while Leicester are the underdogs at 9/5. 

Meanwhile, Chelsea are at 10/11 to win inside 90 minutes, while Leicester are at 31/10.    

*Odds as per Betfair and correct at the time of publication.  

Europa Conference League: What is it? Which Premier League team will qualify? How does it work?

The world of football is becoming increasingly difficult to follow. There are seemingly changes in formats and breakaway leagues galore. Heck, most of us don’t even know what offside is anymore. 

And to add a further complication, from next season there will be three tiers of European cup competition, with the Europa Conference League sitting below the existing Europa League and Champions League formats. 

Yes, it’s all a bit confusing. But it also makes the final games of the Premier League season that bit more exciting, with the likes of West Ham, Liverpool, Tottenham, Arsenal and Everton now battling it out for three different competitions.   

In fact, in only 10 days’ time, will will know just who has secured a Champions League spot, who will be playing their football in the Europa League next season and who will be England’s test dummy and first-ever representative in the Europa Conference League.   

Below, Sportsmail explains everything you need to know about the new tournament. 

The newly-formed Europa Conference League is set to commence in the 2021/22 campaign

What on Earth is it? 

Now, this seems a sensible place to start. In addition to the Champions League and Europa League, we now have a third European club competition – the Europa Conference League.   

Essentially, the idea is that with another competition, more clubs will have the opportunity to play European football. 

To use UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin’s words, ‘the new UEFA club competition makes UEFA’s club competitions more inclusive than ever before.

‘There will be more matches for more clubs, with more associations represented in the group stages.’ 

Well, in England anyway, that’s not wholly true. The Premier League will still have a maximum of seven teams participating in European football, including the new format.  

The real benefit will be felt by those in leagues where they struggle to qualify for the existing two competitions.  

But how does it work? 

Just like the Champions League and Europa League, there will be multiple qualifying rounds to play before the tournament gets underway. 

In fact, there will be three – before a final two-legged play-off round.  

The English side who qualifies will go straight into the play-off round, which will be played on August 19 and 26, just five days after the 2021/22 Premier League season begins on August 14.  

Europa Conference League Qualification  
Round  First Leg  Second Leg
Round 1 July 8 July 15 
Round 2  July 22  July 29 
Round 3  August 5  August 12 
Play-off round  August 19  August 26 
*The English team will enter in the play-off round, while the Scottish team will enter in the second round 

So, who will make up the groups? Well, there will be eight groups of four, with teams earning a place via three distinct paths:

1) 17 teams will qualify via the main path, which is through the qualifying rounds shown in the table above. 

2) Five teams will qualify via the champions path, which is made up of those who have lost Champions League qualifiers and are then demoted to the Europa Conference League. 

3) 10 team eliminated from the Europa League play-offs will also join.  

Importantly, it’s now being ensured that 34 UEFA national associations get a minimum of one representative in the group stage of at least one competition. 

And specifically for the Europa Conference League, England, Spain, Italy, France and Germany all get one team. Scotland, Belgium, the Netherlands and Russia all get two.  

Who will qualify from the Premier League? 

Arsenal and Liverpool are among the teams who could qualify for the tournament

Arsenal and Liverpool are among the teams who could qualify for the tournament

Now, this is the all important question. And I’m afraid, it’s not the most simple of answers. 

Just to stress again, there is a maximum of seven Premier League teams who can enter European competition in any given season. 

And as things stand, it’s looking pretty certain that it will be the seventh-placed Premier League side who qualifies. 

Generally, it will be the winner of the Carabao Cup who earns a place in the competition. But this year – for the fourth consecutive season – it was Manchester City who lifted the cup, and they’ve already qualified for the Champions League. 

That means their spot is passed to the next highest-placed Premier League side who have not qualified for a European competition. 

However, this is also the case with the Europa League. Generally, the winner of the FA Cup will be granted a spot alongside the team that finishes fifth. But Leicester and Chelsea – who currently sit third and fourth respectively – are set to play in Saturday’s final. 

Assuming both sides stay within the top five, the team in sixth place would get a place in the Europa League, with the Europa Conference League spot going to the team in seventh. 

If the season ended now, West Ham and Liverpool would play in the Europa League, with Tottenham in the Europa Conference League. 

What about Scotland? 

Well, as mentioned above, Scotland will have two teams in the Europa Conference League. And this will go to the third and fourth-placed teams. 

This is now wrapped up in Scotland, meaning we know Hibernian and Aberdeen will join next season’s Europa Conference League in the second qualifying round.   

When will the matches be played? 

The Europa Conference League fixtures will follow the pattern of the Europa League, with matches on Thursdays, kicking off at either 5.45pm and 8pm. 

The group stages will be played between September 15 and December 9, with the knockout stages starting on February 17. 

The final, which will be played in Tirana, Albania, will be played on May 25. 

Europa Conference League Group Stage
Match day Match date
Match 1  September 16 
Match 2 September 30 
Match 3  October 21 
Match 4  November 4 
Match 5  November 25 
Match 6  December 9 
Europa Conference League Knockout Stage 
Round  First Leg   Second Leg
Knockout play-offs February 17 February 24 
Round of 16  March 10  March 17 
Quarter-finals  April 7  April 14 
Semi-finals  April 28  May 5 
Final  May 25  N/A 

What is the grand prize? 

So, what’s the point? Similarly to the Europa League, where the winner earns a spot in the Champions League, the winner of the Europa Conference League will also move up a tier. 

To put it simply, the winner of the Europa Conference League earns a spot in the group stages of the following season’s Europa League. 

That is provided the team has not already qualified for the Champions League, of course.  

The first final of the Europa Conference League will be played at the National Arena in Albania

The first final of the Europa Conference League will be played at the National Arena in Albania

What about the Europa League? 

While the introduction of the new format will have no impact on the Champions League, there will be some changes to the Europa League. 

The Europa League – notoriously an arduous competition –  will now be shorter, with fewer teams competing in it. 

The group stages in the Europa League will now have 32 teams, rather than 48, in eight groups of four. 

The winners will all automatically progress into the last-16, with the round of 32 now gone. Additionally, there will be a knockout round before the last-16, comprised of those who finished second in the group and third in the Champions League groups. 

Fernandinho admits it has been an ‘honour’ to captain Manchester City to the Premier League title

Fernandinho admits it has been an ‘honour and a privilege’ to captain Manchester City to the Premier League title – and insists his side will now focus on ‘bringing the Champions League home’ for supporters 

Manchester City captain Fernandinho has paid tribute to his team-mates after his side sealed the Premier League title when Manchester United lost 2-1 at home to Leicester City.

‘I am so proud and so happy with what we have achieved,’ the 36-year-old Brazilian said. ‘The Premier League is the hardest league in world football — every single game is tough.

‘To win it again means the world to me and the rest of the squad. To captain this team is an honour and a privilege because the players have given their all throughout the season, whether in training or in matches. The teamwork has been amazing.

Fernandinho (top) has paid tribute to his Manchester City’s Premier League title success

The midfielder (with trophy) has been key to helping City win the title three times in four years

The midfielder (with trophy) has been key to helping City win the title three times in four years

‘Football is everything to us and we strive every single day to be as good as we can be in the hope we can bring success to Manchester City. Winning the Premier League title is the ultimate fulfilment of our ambitions. ‘It’s what we all dreamed of as young players, so to do it is a wonderful feeling.’

Fernandinho also paid tribute to the City supporters and promised his side will now turn all their efforts to winning the Champions League final when they face Chelsea on May 29.

‘We have missed the fans so much,’ Fernandinho said. ‘We wanted to do this for them. We will enjoy this moment and we hope the fans do too.

But this is the first time Fernandinho has landed success while being captain of the side

But this is the first time Fernandinho has landed success while being captain of the side

City supporters celebrate their club winning the Premier League after Man Utd's defeat

City supporters celebrate their club winning the Premier League after Man Utd’s defeat

‘Rest assured we will continue to do everything we can to bring the Champions League home this season.’

Shortly after City’s title was confirmed winger Raheem Sterling tweeted: ‘What’s that smell? …IT’S THE CHAMPIONS BABYYYY’

There then followed a torrent of tweets from his team-mates celebrating City’s success.

‘Champions of England… again,’ wrote German midfielder Ilkay Gundogan who chipped in with 12 league goals. ‘I would have preferred to celebrate this moment after (our) own game, but I take it anyway — what a season!’

Kevin De Bruyne was more to the point: ‘Another One,’ he tweeted.

Raheem Sterling leads the celebrations after City are confirmed as Premier League champions

Raheem Sterling leads the celebrations after City are confirmed as Premier League champions

Sergio Aguero celebrated his fifth Premier League title with Manchester City on Twitter

Sergio Aguero celebrated his fifth Premier League title with Manchester City on Twitter

City defensive duo Aymeric Laporte (left) and Rodri (right) watched United's defeat at home

City defensive duo Aymeric Laporte (left) and Rodri (right) watched United’s defeat at home

And Sergio Aguero tweeted: ‘Champions! Proud of this team!’

Central defender Aymeric Laporte, who watched the match from home with team-mate Rodri, tweeted: ‘CHAMPIONNNNES CHAMPIONNNNES OLE OLE OLE’.

Former City midfielder David Silva, now at Real Sociedad, won four titles in a City shirt and he tweeted: ‘Champions!! Congrats guys!! Totally deserved it!!’

Gary Lineker was effusive in his praise. ‘Congratulations to Man City on winning the Premier League title,’ he said. ‘A truly superb team full of wonderful players, brilliantly coached by Pep Guardiola.’

Rio Ferdinand said: ‘Credit where it’s due. Pep went back to the drawing board, fixed things up and they came out flying. Deserved champions.’

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Guardiola hails toughest title after Manchester City lift third Premier League crown in four years

‘This was the hardest one… we will always remember this season’: Pep Guardiola hails toughest title of his career after Manchester City lift third Premier League crown in four years

  • Manchester City overcame a sluggish start with 15 consecutive league victories 
  • Leicester’s victory at Manchester United rubberstamped City as champions 
  • Guardiola paid tribute to a ‘special’ group of players after title triumph 
  • City have chance to make history by winning the Champions League final

Pep Guardiola has described this title win as the toughest of his career after Manchester City lifted a third Premier League crown in four years.

Leicester City’s 2-1 victory at Manchester United rubberstamped City as champions with three matches remaining.

After a sluggish start, Guardiola masterminded a run of 15 consecutive league victories to take charge of the division and never looked back.

Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola has claimed the Premier League title for third time

City have now won five of the last 10 league titles and victory over Chelsea in the Champions League final on May 29 would cement this season as the best in the club’s history.

‘This has been a season and a Premier League title like no other,’ Guardiola said. ‘This was the hardest one. We will always remember this season for the way that we won.

‘I am so proud to be the manager here and of this group of players. They are so special. To come through this season – with all the restrictions and difficulties we’ve faced – and show the consistency we have is remarkable.

Man City unfurled a 'Champions' banner outside the Etihad after United's defeat by Leicester

Man City unfurled a ‘Champions’ banner outside the Etihad after United’s defeat by Leicester

‘It is relentless. Every single day, they are there, fighting for success, trying always to be better. They have been so, so resilient.

‘That is equally true of each and every member of our backroom staff, who have worked tirelessly behind the scenes to ensure that our players are fully equipped to take on the unexpected challenges and new routines throughout such a turbulent year. Not forgetting, of course, all of the staff across our organisation who work to make this club the success it is.

‘Whether that’s been from the offices at the City Football Academy or working from home, the efforts of every employee in such trying circumstances have contributed to this achievement.’ 

Guardiola also paid tribute to one of the club’s finest players of all time, Colin Bell, who passed away in January. Bell won the old First Division with City in 1968, as well as both domestic trophies and the Cup Winners’ Cup during a 13-year stay at Maine Road.

City have been impressive this season and have now won the League Cup and Premier League

City have been impressive this season and have now won the League Cup and Premier League 

‘This one is really for our fans and for Colin Bell and all his family,’ the Catalan added. ‘It is so important to say a huge thank to all our fans. In our toughest moments, we couldn’t hear the crowd get behind us as usual, but we know they are with us everywhere we go and that has lifted us.

‘I promise them we sense their love, we appreciate it and we could not have done what we have done without it. I hope we can all celebrate together one day not too far away. It has been such a hard year for so many people.

‘At the start of every season, the Premier League is the most important title for us. This is the one where you have to be there every three days, playing all your rivals home and away. Only by being the very best, week in week out, can you win this competition. It is a huge success.’ 

In a quirk of fate, Tuesday was the second time under Guardiola that City have had a title confirmed by a United home defeat. West Brom won at Old Trafford in 2017, a surprise result that sparked an impromptu night of revelling in Cheshire for the squad.

It's been a remarkable campaign for the club, who could yet win the Champions League too

It’s been a remarkable campaign for the club, who could yet win the Champions League too

City now have the opportunity to make further history in the coming weeks against Chelsea in the European showpiece.

‘Rest assured we will continue to do everything we can to bring the Champions League home this season,’ captain Fernandinho said.

‘I am so proud and so happy with what we have achieved. The Premier League is the hardest league in world football – every single game is tough. To win it again means the world to me and the rest of the squad.

‘To captain this team is an honour and a privilege because the players have given their all throughout season, whether in training or in matches. The teamwork has been amazing.

‘Football is everything to us and we strive every single day to be as good as we can be in the hope we can bring success to Manchester City. Winning the Premier League title is the ultimate fulfilment of our ambitions. It’s what we all dreamed of as young players, so to do it is a wonderful feeling.

‘We have missed the fans so much. We wanted to do this for them. We will enjoy this moment and we hope the fans do too.’

Raheem Sterling leads the celebrations after City are confirmed as Premier League champions

Raheem Sterling leads the celebrations after City are confirmed as Premier League champions

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Solskjaer: Manchester United MUST strengthen to challenge Man City

Manchester United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer warns he must be allowed to strengthen his squad if they are to challenge Manchester City after Leicester City defeat hands their neighbours the Premier League title

  • Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has congratulated Manchester City on their title victory 
  • Their triumph was confirmed after Manchester United lost to Leicester City  
  • The Norwegian has warned he must be allowed to strengthen to challenge  

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer congratulated Manchester City on winning the Premier League title and admitted he needs new signings this summer to compete with Pep Guardiola next season.

Manchester United’s first league defeat in 15 games at home to Leicester City last night saw City crowned champions, and Solskjaer is already looking at how he can close the gap on his neighbours.

‘If you want to take up the challenge with them we need to strengthen our squad,’ said the United boss.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has congratulated Manchester City on their Premier League title victory

‘Congratulations to them. They’ve had a fantastic season but I’m very pleased with my boys that we have made it to the last 10 days with a City side ahead of us that are lauded as the best in Europe.

‘We want to take the next step and it might be that we need a couple more to strengthen the squad.’

Having tied Edinson Cavani to a new one-year contract, it’s understood that United are looking to bring goalkeeper Tom Heaton back to Old Trafford from Aston Villa on a free transfer – a move that would cast further doubt over David de Gea’s future at the club.

Solskjaer made 10 changes for United’s third game in six days ahead of Thursday’s clash with Liverpool who saw their top-four hopes dented by Leicester’s win last night.

Solskjaer was forced to make 10 changes from the weekend, and brought in Anthony Elanga

Solskjaer was forced to make 10 changes from the weekend, and brought in Anthony Elanga

However the Norwegian once again defended his team selection after giving league debuts to Amad Diallo and Anthony Elanga.

‘It can’t be like this again,’ he added. ‘It’s impossible and that’s the reason we made the changes.

‘It’s unheard of. It is impossible for the players to perform at this level going Thursday, Sunday, Tuesday, Thursday.’

Ironically, United conceded the decisive goal at a corner immediately after sending on Cavani and Marcus Rashford for Diallo and Elanga in the 66th minute.

Solskjaer admitted that it was the wrong moment to make substitutions, but felt that referee Craig Pawson should have awarded a throw-in instead.

The Norwegian admitted that making his double substitution at a corner was a mistake

The Norwegian admitted that making his double substitution at a corner was a mistake

‘That’s one of those golden rules isn’t it? You don’t make subs,’ he said. ‘First of all, it should have been thrown-in not a corner. But we should have done better of course.’

Earlier, the United manager confirmed that captain Harry Maguire faces a race against time to be fit for the Europa League final against Villarreal on May 26 after suffering ankle ligament damage in Sunday’s win at Aston Villa.

Maguire was on crutches at Old Trafford last night and Solskjaer said: ‘He’s obviously had the scans and the good news is there is no fracture.

‘There’s ligament damage but hopefully we will see him again this season. Hopefully, he’ll be ready for the final.’

Leicester boss Brendan Rodgers was delighted to see his team clinch three vital points in their bid for a Champions League place before they face Chelsea in the FA Cup final this weekend.

‘It’s a huge step,’ said Rodgers. ‘We’ve got to 66 points now but there are still two games to go.

‘We’ve done some great work to get to this stage. It’s amazing. We can get ready to take on the Champions League finalists and chance for history at the weekend.’

Solskjaer confirmed that Harry Maguire had sustained ligament damage on his left ankle

Solskjaer confirmed that Harry Maguire had sustained ligament damage on his left ankle 

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Manchester United vs Leicester – Premier League: Live score, lineups and updates

Manchester United vs Leicester LIVE: Red Devils make TEN changes and hand a debut to Anthony Elanga in midst of fixture pile-up as Foxes look to take advantage in push to reach the Champions League

  • Man Utd starting XI: De Gea, Williams, Bailly, Tuanzebe, Alex Telles, Van de Beek, Matic, Diallo, Mata, Elanga, Greenwood
  • Leicester starting XI: Schmeichel, Castagne, Fofana, Soyuncu, Albrighton, Ndidi, Tielemans, Thomas, Perez, Iheanacho, Vardy 
  • Manchester United are in middle of a hectic four games in eight days schedule
  • Leicester will hope to benefit from vulnerable Red Devils in bid for top four spot
  • Latest Premier League news, including fixtures and results  
  • Premier League table – as it stands 

Manchester United host Leicester City to get Tuesday night’s action underway as they battle their way through a schedule that sees them play four times in eight days.

Having faced Roma last Thursday and beaten Aston Villa on Sunday, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s squad now take on the Foxes before gearing up for another clash with Liverpool on Thursday.

The timing is ideal for United’s Champions League chasing opponents, with Leicester hoping to take advantage of a vulnerable Red Devils outfit to claim all three points at Old Trafford in the Premier League to strenghten their grip on a top four place.

Follow Sportsmail’s DAN RIPLEY for live EPL coverage of Manchester United vs Leicester, including scoreline, lineups and build-up for the 6pm BST kick-off. 

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Steve Bruce would ‘love’ Arsenal star Joe Willock at Newcastle on permanent deal

Newcastle boss Steve Bruce admits he’d ‘love’ to sign Arsenal’s Joe Willock permanently this summer after midfielder’s red-hot run of form has helped steer them clear of trouble

  • Joe Willock has made a significant impact since joining Newcastle this year
  • The midfielder scored for a fourth successive match in the win at Leicester 
  • Steve Bruce admitted he wants to try and sign Willock permanently this summer 

Steve Bruce has admitted he would love to sign Arsenal midfielder Joe Willock permanently this summer. 

The 21-year-old has been a standout performer for Newcastle since joining on loan from Arsenal back in February, playing a key role to help them climb up the table away from relegation trouble.

Willock scored in his fourth successive match on Friday as the Magpies shocked Leicester City with a 4-2 victory on the road.

In-form Newcastle midfielder Joe Willock scored for the fourth game in a row in Leicester win

The midfielder has also grabbed goals against Southampton, Tottenham, West Ham and Liverpool for Newcastle. 

Bruce, who has seen the pressure around his position relieved in recent weeks, thanks in part to Willock, said he will attempt to sign him in the summer. 

‘All of us would love to [make it permanent],’ Bruce told talkSPORT.

‘He’s 21, a midfield player and he’s got five goals since the turn of the year, so of course we want him – but we have to respect that he’s Arsenal’s player.

Steve Bruce admitted he will be trying to sign Willock permanently from Arsenal this summer

Steve Bruce admitted he will be trying to sign Willock permanently from Arsenal this summer

‘I’m sure Arsenal will have big discussions this summer, but if there’s a possibility that we can bring him back we’d love to do it.’

The Newcastle boss also insisted he would not sell star man Allan Saint-Maximin.

Discussing the winger’s future, he added: ‘I said when we signed him he was going to be someone who gets you off the edge of your seat and how often do you feel like that about an individual player?

‘He has wonderful natural ability and it wouldn’t surprise me if other teams are looking because his ability is there for everybody to see.

‘He is a very gifted individual and young, of course. The last thing we want to be doing is selling our better players that is for sure.’ 

The Newcastle manager also discussed the future of their star man Allan Saint-Maximin (right)

The Newcastle manager also discussed the future of their star man Allan Saint-Maximin (right)

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Edinson Cavani signs one-year contract extension with Manchester United

Edinson Cavani signs one-year contract extension with Manchester United after turning down Boca Juniors for an extra season in Europe

  • Edinson Cavani has put pen to paper on a one-year extension with Man United
  • The club are expected to announce the news of the fresh deal imminently
  • Cavani had the option of the extension but had reservations about staying on
  • The in-form Uruguayan has eight goals in his last seven games for the Red Devils

Edinson Cavani has put pen to paper on a one-year extension with Manchester United, following talks with the club.

Manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer had been forthcoming in recent weeks regarding his desire to see the in-form veteran continue at Old Trafford, and now an agreement has been reached.

Cavani, 34, has signed until the summer of 2022 after turning down an enticing offer from Boca Juniors in order to spend one more season in elite European football.

Edinson Cavani has put pen to paper on a one-year extension with Manchester United

It is expected that United will confirm the news imminently, ahead of their match with Leicester City on Tuesday evening.

The news arrives off the back of a dazzling run for Cavani, who recently hit a brace in Rome to book United’s place in the Europa League final, before coming off the bench to score against Aston Villa on Sunday.

The Uruguayan has now displaced Marcus Rashford as United’s first choice forward, though Solskjaer remains insistent that the minutes of the veteran star must still be monitored.

Cavani has adapted to English football and created an understanding with Bruno Fernandes

Cavani has adapted to English football and created an understanding with Bruno Fernandes

Earlier in the campaign Solskjaer told fans the club was in dialogue with Cavani, outlining: ‘We’re speaking to Eddy.

‘Edinson is a top striker and whatever he decides to do, let’s see. We’re in good dialogue with him.’

In late April, Solskjaer conceded that a return to more familiar settings in South America may have been on the cards for Cavani.

The United boss told reporters: ‘Edinson is not 100% decided on his future yet.

‘He’s not told me he wants to leave but I am very aware he might be going back home to South America. If that’s his decision, I will understand that.’

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer had make no secret of his desire for Cavani to prolong his United stay

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer had make no secret of his desire for Cavani to prolong his United stay

Now, however, a decision has been reached and Cavani will continue to wear the colours of United for at least one more season, as the club look to build on the progress of the current campaign and make an assault on the league title and Champions League. 

Cavani signed on a free transfer from French giants Paris Saint-Germain in October 2020, reportedly taking a 35 per cent pay cut to move to Old Trafford but netting a signing on fee in the region of £6million.

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Ole Gunnar Solskjaer hails Manchester United win ahead of Leicester and Liverpool games this week

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer hails ‘massive, massive result’ for Manchester United after they fought back to beat Aston Villa… as he insists confidence is high among his players going into huge week with Leicester and Liverpool to play before next weekend

  • Ole Gunnar Solskjaer praised his side after they came from behind to win 3-1
  • Aston Villa took the lead but Manchester United fought back to take three points
  • Victory kept confidence high ahead of matches with Leicester and Liverpool
  • United are now unbeaten in 25 matches away from home in the Premier League 

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was full of praise for his Manchester United side after they battled to a 3-1 over Aston Villa to keep the momentum going during a chaotic period of fixtures.

After overcoming Roma in the Europa League on Thursday, United extended their unbeaten run away from home in the Premier League to 25 matches with victory at Villa Park.

Solskjaer’s men now face Leicester on Tuesday before welcoming Liverpool to Old Trafford just 48 hours later, but the United boss was in upbeat mood looking ahead to the manic schedule.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer hailed Manchester United after their 3-1 comeback win over Aston Villa

Edinson Cavani sealed the win late on ahead of a manic week of fixtures for his side

Edinson Cavani sealed the win late on ahead of a manic week of fixtures for his side 

‘We can just go into the next one confident, go and enjoy it,’ Solskjaer told SkySports.

‘We know it’s going to be hard, and it’s going to be a physical test, these next three days, but we’ve got to make the most of it. 

‘It’s always going to be difficult after you’ve been in Europe, in Rome, and didn’t come back until half four, five o’clock in the morning on Friday. 

‘[It was a] great reaction at half-time again even though first half, I felt we were the better team. We created more chances, but we couldn’t get the goal.’

This was the 10th time that United have conceded the first goal away from home in the league this season, and once again they went in behind at the break.

United once again conceded the first goal as Bertrand Traore put Villa ahead in the first half

United once again conceded the first goal as Bertrand Traore put Villa ahead in the first half

But goals from Bruno Fernandes, Mason Greenwood and Edinson Cavani ensured another comeback win to all but guarantee the club’s place in the top four.

United have now won 31 points from losing positions, and their manager refused to criticise his side for another slow start.

‘I can’t blame them,’ Solskjaer said. ‘The advantage of being fresh going into a game like this is quite high. It’s coincidence.

‘We could have scored the first goal once or twice before they scored. They scored from nothing, good goal by the way. 

‘I’m pleased with everyone. I know how hard it is at the end of a long, long season.’

But Mason Greenwood scored to put United in front and on their way to another comeback win

But Mason Greenwood scored to put United in front and on their way to another comeback win

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