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Megson wants Wembley performance repeat

Manchester United striker Romelu Lukaku will face no action for his alleged kick at Brighton's Gaetan Bong, sources have told ESPN FC.

Lukaku appeared to kick out twice at Bong during the second half of the 1-0 win over Brighton at Old Trafford on Saturday.

The incident was not included in referee Neil Swarbrick's match report and, after reviewing video footage, an FA panel failed to come to a unanimous verdict, meaning the 24-year-old will not be charged.

Lukaku could have missed miss games against Watford, Arsenal and Manchester City if he was charged with violent conduct and given a three-game ban.

Cameras caught the Belgium international appearing to aim two kicks at Bong in the build-up to Ashley Young's deflected winner.

The first one did not make any contact but the second seems to catch the Brighton defender in the stomach.

Lukaku has scored 12 goals in 20 games since arriving from Everton in a £75 million deal in the summer but after starting his United career with 11 goals in his first 10 games, he has scored just once in his last 10.

Rob is ESPN FC's Manchester United correspondent. Follow him on Twitter @RobDawsonESPN.

Having secured a deserved point from Saturday's enthralling encounter with Liverpool at Anfield, Chelsea manager Antonio Conte has every reason to feel positive about the Blues' upcoming, if somewhat cluttered, fixture schedule.

In the race for the Premier League title, the 1-1 draw on Merseyside may have seen third place Chelsea fall  behind Manchester United and leaders Manchester City, who both won at the weekend, but Conte will pay no heed to the many pundits claiming the club's chances of retaining the trophy they won in fine style last season are all but over.

With Liverpool out of the way, the Italian will be eyeing the Blues' run of league games to the end of the year with relish. Swansea (home), Newcastle (home) West Ham (away) Huddersfield (away), Southampton (home), Everton (away), Brighton (home) and Stoke (home) have to be viewed as a significant opportunity to harvest the full 24 points available. It won't be easy -- it never is. But Conte proved last year when Chelsea won 13 top flight matches in a row that winning streaks can be put together, and his side are already on a decent run of form which has brought four wins and a draw from their last five league outings.

Reeling in Manchester City, who have an 11-point advantage over Chelsea, may seem like a tall order for Conte, but City have a showdown with near neighbours Manchester United looming on the horizon, and they also face Tottenham before the year is out.

The Blues' boss has an excellent squad of players to work with. And while good fortune will play a part in Chelsea's stars remaining injury-free, there is no need to rely on luck when it comes to team selection and tactics. Conte's tactical nous and shrewd use of substitutes has paid dividends on countless occasions, and his relentless work ethic sees him constantly striving to find ways to give his side the edge.

At Anfield, Conte set Chelsea up perfectly to counter Liverpool's high-tempo pressing game and stifle the threat posed by the top flight's leading scorer, Mohamed Salah. The recent shift from 3-4-3 to 3-5-1-1, which has stealthily corresponded with the Blues' upswing in form, was deployed once more and worked perfectly until calamity struck, and the Italian will have been left as frustrated as many Blues fans were by Tiemoue Bakayoko's error that afforded Salah the opportunity to add to his tally and give the Reds the lead.

Such mistakes come with inexperience, and 23-year old Bakayoko is painfully still finding his feet in England following his high-profile £40 million summer move from Monaco. Conte clearly believes in the young France international's ability, but that hasn't spared the player from being on the receiving end of the now expected spate of vitriolic criticism that speedily gets whipped up on social media in the wake of a poor performance.

Ironically, it was Willian, another recent target for the Internet boo-boys, who for the second time in a week proved his worth to Chelsea. Having started, scored twice and won two penalties that were converted in Wednesday night's 4-0 Champions League rout of Qarabag in Baku, Willian came off the bench at Anfield and leveled the match with a spectacular goal. The Brazil international is certain to be given plenty more minutes over the coming weeks as Conte looks to minimise the risk of fatigue and injury to star man Eden Hazard, and it will be no surprise to see the 29-year old's name among Chelsea's goal-scorers.

As well as a busy Premier League program, before the year is out Conte also needs to plan for Chelsea's final Champions League Group C match and a League Cup quarterfinal tie with Bournemouth. The Blues face Atletico Madrid at Stamford Bridge knowing that victory will guarantee top place and a potentially more favourable opponent in the round of 16. Such a scenario means Conte is unlikely to be satisfied by the fact that Chelsea have already qualified for the next phase of the competition. He will be expected to field a full strength side against Atleti and give Blues youngsters such as Ethan Ampadu and Charly Musonda another chance to shine at the Bridge against Bournemouth in the League Cup.

With FA Cup involvement set for January, come the New Year, Conte will be aiming to ensure that Chelsea are still in full contention for the four trophies they set out to contest at the start of the campaign. Between now and then there's a lot of football to be played, and there is every reason to be very optimistic about the Blues' chances of winning silverware. This season is far from over.

Mark Worrall is one of ESPN FC's Chelsea bloggers. You can follow him on Twitter: @gate17marco

Liverpool have had a lot of varied criticism thrown their way in the opening four months of the season, and much of it resurfaced following Saturday's 1-1 home draw with defending Champions, Chelsea. Disappointment at failing to hold on to another lead is understandable, yet much of the wailing and gnashing of teeth afterwards is not.

The Reds played well against a team that most would consider to be superior. A draw was a fair result but Chelsea needed Willian's fluke goal to deny Liverpool. So why all the criticism? This time it was Simon Mignolet being blamed (unfairly), as well as Jurgen Klopp for resting Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino. Klopp's tactical switches and in-game use of substitutes also came in for heavy fire, yet without Willian's strike those pragmatic moves would have been hailed as sensible and professional.

It's a fine line that Liverpool walk these days and perhaps only Arsenal come in for the same degree of micro-scrutiny from their own supporters.

Liverpool fans have a long list of gripes:

The centre forward doesn't score enough goals. The midfield don't score enough and they don't protect the defence as well as they should either. The centre-backs are poor and need replacing. The left-back is an accident waiting to happen. The team can't defend set-pieces. They can't close out games. The goalkeeper is a weak link. The manager's use of substitutes is poor.

Those are just the more common ones, the list could easily drag into another couple of paragraphs.

These complaints do have varying degrees of validity and none are totally unjust, yet if things were as bad as supporters often seem to think they are, Liverpool would be Everton.

Another gripe that rears up after every disappointing result or performance is that Jordan Henderson isn't a suitable captain. Again, there is merit to that if you're comparing him Liverpool's great leaders of the past; men like Tommy Smith, Emlyn Hughes, Graeme Souness, Steven Gerrard and others. Henderson clearly does not come into that category, but if there was anyone at Anfield who did then Henderson would not have the job.

There isn't though. Like it or not, Henderson is the most suitable captain Liverpool have. He doesn't tick every box but he ticks more than any of his current teammates do. Firstly, he is in the team every week when fit and that is important. He has the respect of his teammates, he's a model professional and he's also one of the only players Liverpool have who is prepared to get in the ear of the referee and put his team's case forward.

That doesn't make him the perfect choice but it does make him the best one from the group of players, so complaining about his leadership capabilities when there is nobody better to replace him is all a bit pointless.

It would be more understandable if Liverpool's rivals were all blessed with inspirational leaders. They aren't. The closest thing to a traditional captain is Vincent Kompany at Manchester City, but he's hardly ever available due to ongoing injury problems. Who is City's captain in his absence? Anyone know? Anyone?

How about Manchester United; who is their skipper? A lot of you reading this won't know, and the chances are some won't know who Arsenal's captain is either.

For the record, United's captain is Michael Carrick, who isn't guaranteed his place in the team and has the armband due to long service and being a good pro. Are United fans continually bemoaning that he isn't Bryan Robson or Roy Keane? Perhaps they are, but any hysteria about United's captaincy doesn't seem to be as widespread as the continual Henderson bashing.

Arsenal's captain is Per Mertesacker. In his frequent absences, Laurent Koscielny usually has the armband, while Arsene Wenger has recently suggested that Aaron Ramsey is in line to one day inherit the captaincy. Tony Adams and Patrick Vieira have long since left the building.

Tottenham are skippered by their goalkeeper, Hugo Lloris, which is a little odd given that they are the one top club that are blessed with genuine captain material in Jan Vertonghen and Harry Kane.

Gary Cahill leads Chelsea, but he falls squarely into the Henderson category. Good pro, England regular, but there are plenty of his own supporters who would happily see their team go out and find an upgrade on him, captain or not. The truth is there are no great captains anymore and this is not just a Liverpool problem.

Not so long ago the captains of the "big six" clubs were iconic figures whose names rolled off the tongue. Gerrard, Roy Keane, Patrick Vieira, John Terry, Ledley King and, erm ... Richard Dunne. The game has changed a lot in recent seasons (especially at Manchester City) and leadership now comes more from the touchline than it does from the pitch and this is why the continual singling out of Henderson is unfair.

Liverpool supporters need to realise that Souness or Ron Yeats will not be walking through the door any time soon. Henderson doesn't compare favourably with his predecessors but if you look around the league you'll see he's not alone in that.

Dave Usher is one of ESPN's Liverpool bloggers and the founder of LFC fanzine and website The Liverpool Way. Follow him on Twitter: @theliverpoolway.

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