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Beware City the wounded beast

Manchester City
ESPN FC  By ESPN staff

Real Madrid, Manchester United battle for Athletic Bilbao's Aymeric Laporte

ESPN FC's Gab Marcotti explains the reported move of Gabriel Paulista to Arsenal, where the 24-year-old defender would prove to be a valuable additional to the Gunners' defence.

The winter window is now open, and that means the LIVE transfer blog swings back into action. Find out the latest news, gossip and deals here.

TOP STORY: Real, United to battle for Bilbao's Laporte

Manchester United have been linked with young Real Madrid centre-back Raphael Varane due to his struggles for first-team football at the Bernabeu. Even though Real Madrid have one defender struggling to find time, the Daily Mail reported this will not stop Los Blancos' rivaling Manchester United for...

 By Mike Wise

Australia Ratings: Trent Sainsbury tops in semifinal win against UAE

Trent Sainsbury scored Australia's opener in the semifinal win against the UAE and was a calm presence at the heart of the hosts' defence.

Host nation Australia took another step towards their maiden AFC title with a 2-0 win over the United Arab Emirates at a rain-soaked Newcastle Stadium on Tuesday night.

Socceroos defenders Trent Sainsbury and Jason Davidson became the ninth and tenth goalscorers for Ange Postecoglou's team at the 2015 Asian Cup, killing off the game within 15 minutes of kick-off.

United Arab EmiratesUnited Arab Emirates
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Australia's semifinal victory sets up a tantalising final against Group A rivals South Korea in Sydney on Jan. 31. The Socceroos will...

 By David Mooney

Write Manchester City off at your peril as Pellegrini plots Chelsea downfall

ESPN FC analyst Craig Burley believes Manchester City's loss to Middlesbrough in the FA Cup was deserved as Manuel Pellegrini's side travelled to the Middle East and arrived back far too close to their weekend clash.

It's not even 10 years ago that Manchester City's motto would have been better as wallow in self-pity rather than pride in battle. Only City could mess up in ways previously unknown to the sport.

There was no reason for the fans to think that a bad run of form would come to an end -- and it was always a surprise when they went away from home and put three past a slightly better team.

Maybe it's wishful thinking based on a flimsy string of recent evidence, but there's been a shift at Eastlands in...

 By Rob Brooks

Australia in Asian Cup Kruse control as they reach final against South Korea

Tim Cahill's goalscoring heroics were not required as defenders Trent Sainsbury and Jason Davidson popped up with a goal each.

The Socceroos defeated the UAE 2-0 in the Asian Cup semifinal on Tuesday night and booked their final showdown against South Korea.

Here are three points from their comfortable victory in Newcastle:

1. Supporting cast takes leading role

It is incredibly rare in this era for the Socceroos to be so decisive in front of goal, and win with such relative ease, when Tim Cahill plays so little part. But that was the case as Australia booked their place in a second straight Asian Cup final.


 By Chris Wright

Google poke fun at Tottenham's "lackadaisical" defence

Tottenham fans who are aggrieved at the relatively hefty amount of goals their side are shipping lately might want to give Google's dictionary a bit of a wide berth at the moment.

Some jaunty scamp out there (and we're going to go out on a limb and suggest it may have been an Arsenal fan in Google's tech department) has altered the definition of the word "lackadaisical" on the search engine's auto-dictionary function in order to have a cheeky dig at Spurs' porous back four!

What happened to Steven Defour and Standard Liege's golden generation?

Steven Defour was sent off on his return to his old club as Standard Liege beat Anderlecht 2-0 in a heated Belgian Pro League encounter.

It would take a very hard heart indeed to not have sympathy for Steven Defour after his weekend. The Belgium midfielder has always been a forthright figure, to say the very least. If you skimmed a news summary noting that he had been sent off for kicking the ball into the crowd on his return to former club Standard Liege with his current team (and Standard's arch rivals) Anderlecht, you might have silently nodded in recognition to yourself.

There was a pretty major footnote, though. Defour was greeted...