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Football Team News

» Gary Neville: John Stones and Nicolas Otamendi will cost Man City the Premier League title
The former Manchester United defender criticised the pair after City's Premier League defeat against Norwich
» PSG chief Leonardo makes Neymar admission following goalscoring return
The Brazilian striker scored a stunning stoppage-time winner for the French champions in his first game of the season
» Jamie Carragher says one Man City star is not good enough for Pep Guardiola's side
The defending Premier League champions suffered their first defeat of the season against Norwich on Saturday
» Arsenal and Germany goalkeeper Bernd Leno 'sets up own eSports team'
The Germany international has reportedly recruited five players to represent his FIFA 20 team
» Paul Merson blames Arsenal's collapse at Watford on one man
The Gunners had to settle for a draw at Vicarage Road after letting a two-goal lead slip
» Aston Villa boss Dean Smith reacts to Anwar El Ghazi headbutt on Tyrone Mings
The two players were involved in an on-pitch row during Villa's 0-0 draw with West Ham
» Jurgen Klopp's brilliant two-word description of Napoli in win over Liverpool last season
Liverpool were defeated 1-0 in the Champions League meeting between the pair at the Stadio San Paolo last term
» Bernd Leno insists Arsenal must not change despite defensive shambles at Watford
The Arsenal goalkeeper insists they must continue following Unai Emery's blueprint, despite the Vicarage Road shambles
» Trent Alexander-Arnold delighted Liverpool find themselves as Champions League targets
Liverpool kick off the defence of their European crown against Carlo Ancelotti's Napoli on Tuesday night
» Jurgen Klopp following Sir Alex Ferguson's mantra to take Liverpool to further glory
Liverpool begin the defence of their Champions League crown with Jurgen Klopp's men facing Napoli in Italy
» Aston Villa 0-0 West Ham: Player ratings as Villans left frustrated by 10-man Hammers
Tyrone Mings and Anwar El Ghazi went head-to-head while Arthur Masuaku was sent off for the visitors at Villa Park
» Ex-Premier League and SPFL boss Jim Jefferies suffers serious heart attack playing golf
The 68-year-old Hearts legend and ex-Bradford City boss is recovering in hospital after the incident in Gullane, Scotland
» Aston Villa's Anwar El Ghazi headbutts teammate Tyrone Mings and pulled apart in on-field row
The pair had a disagreement between themselves during the Villains home clash with West Ham
» Bernard Arnault's LVHM Group deny reports of '£890m takeover bid' for AC Milan
The Louis Vuitton owner was said to be preparing to dip into his £86 billion fortune to make an offer for the club but the claims have been denied
» Jurgen Klopp responds to claims new Liverpool contract on hold due to English weather
Jurgen Klopp has set the story straight on suggestions the weather is holding up a potential new contract at Anfield
» Pornhub legend Mia Khalifa responds to claims she's switched Premier League team
Khalifa was at Vicarage Road on Sunday for Watford's 2-2 draw with Arsenal
» Gary Neville hopeful new Man Utd contract can help David de Gea rediscover best form
De Gea's contract was due to run out at the end of the current season causing speculation around his future
» Pep Guardiola has work to do with Manchester City's defence suddenly looking schoolboy
Aymeric Laporte is injured, Vincent Kompany is gone and Manchester City's defence is suddenly more giving than ever before
» Henrikh Mkhitaryan move from Arsenal to Roma leads to missing child being found
Mkhitaryan has joined the Serie A club for the remainder of the season and has already achieved something special
» Liverpool suffer injury scare as key player doubtful for Champions League clash with Napoli
The Reds have already travelled to Italy without the injured Divock Origi and now have another problem
» Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's challenge behind David de Gea's new £97.5million Man Utd contract
The Manchester United No.1 has inked a mega-money £375,000-a-week contract at Old Trafford
» Frank Lampard insists Tammy Abraham would be key to Chelsea even without transfer ban
The Blues' forward netted an impressive hat-trick at the weekend to make it seven goals in his last three matches
» James Maddison sends Man Utd fans wild with Old Trafford Instagram check-in
The Leicester City midfielder is on the Old Trafford club's radar and fans are calling on him to join Manchester United
» Divock Origi injury and how long he'll be missing confirmed by Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp
The Belgian international was withdrawn from the 3-1 win over Newcastle at the weekend with an ankle injury

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Other sport news:

» Jürgen Klopp’s Liverpool land in Italy intent on defending their crown

Napoli handed Liverpool a late defeat in last year’s group stage but manager insists a triumphant campaign has only made his squad hungry for more

One might expect Liverpool to return to the Champions League stage with an air of superiority 108 days after winning the club’s sixth European crown. Not Jürgen Klopp. He sees a team that feels it still has something to prove to the outside world. On that basis the Stadio San Paolo is the perfect spot for the European champions to launch the defence of their title.

Related: Premier League: 10 talking points from the weekend’s action

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» Frank Lampard wary of Valencia threat despite off-field uncertainty
• Chelsea manager warns of threat posed by ‘fantastic’ side
• Spanish club sacked Marcelino Garcia Toral last week

The situation feels almost too perfect for Chelsea. There is a buzz around the place after the 5-2 victory over Wolves on Saturday, Tammy Abraham is scoring goals for fun and their first game back in the Champions League pitches them against a side whose preparations could hardly have been more chaotic.

Related: Tammy Abraham revels up front but Chelsea need to tighten up at the back

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» Arthur Masuaku sees red as West Ham hold out for a point at Aston Villa

West Ham arrived here on a quest for the victory that would have lifted them to third in the table but they ended up relieved to take a point. They did not deserve more. Nor did Aston Villa, and that was frustrating for the hosts, who spent the last portion of the game mostly failing to trouble 10 men after Arthur Masuaku was sent off.

Related: Premier League: 10 talking points from the weekend’s action

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» Arsenal’s Daniëlle van de Donk breaks stubborn Manchester United resistance

Manchester United’s Casey Stoney said she was “gutted” and her team “devastated” after a desperate late Daniëlle van de Donk goal, snatched on the rebound amid relentless Arsenal pressure, denied a stunningly resilient home team the first point of their maiden Women’s Super League campaign.

Related: Women’s Super League: talking points from the weekend’s action

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» Manchester City and the perils of playing out from the back – Football Weekly

Max Rushden, Barry Glendenning, Sean Ingle and John Brewin discuss a shock at Carrow Road, more Arsenal defensive woes, a Seedorf scores in Scotland, a 16-year-old scores for Barcelona and Daniel Farke lookalikes

Join the conversation on Facebook, Twitter and email.

We take a look back at the weekend of football just gone, starting with Norwich City’s shock 3-2 win over reigning champions Manchester City. Liverpool, meanwhile, keep up their 100% record – we try to work out when they’ll first drop points.

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» Leipzig cling to Bayern juggernaut and show way ahead for Nagelsmann

Bundesliga title pretenders were battered by the champions but stole a draw and know now how much they must improve

It had promised so much, and yet had been such hard going. “It was,” said Leipzig’s coach, Julian Nagelsmann, “like a run in the forest without much football” for his team. For all the pre-match excitement that they might be facing Bayern Munich at the right time, catching them before they were settled into their season stride, much of this felt ominously familiar for those hoping for a meaningful Bundesliga title race again. The leaders versus the champions looked, for a large chunk of early Saturday evening, like the also-rans against the lords of the manor.

This was no evening for anybody to dust down their cliches about Bayern-Dusel, though – the luck of the perennial champions. Any flecks of fortune had been left back at Säbener Strasse, as was clear from the moment when David Alaba pulled a hamstring in the warm-up, leaving Niko Kovac to an impromptu rejig of his XI. Jérôme Boateng came in, with Lucas Hernández being pushed out to left-back. It proved a significant adjustment.

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» Former Hearts manager Jim Jefferies recovering after heart attack
• The 68-year-old fell ill while playing golf on Monday
• Coach also managed Bradford in a long career

The former Hearts and Bradford manager Jim Jefferies is recovering after suffering a heart attack, his club, Edinburgh City, confirmed. The 68-year-old fell ill while playing golf on Monday.

Related: Celtic’s James Forrest sinks Hamilton while Rangers return to winning ways

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» ‘My future is fixed’: David de Gea signs new four-year Manchester United deal
• Spanish goalkeeper’s deal runs until 2023
• De Gea moved to Old Trafford in 2011

After 18 months of complex negotiations, and amid considerable interest from European rivals, David de Gea has committed himself to Manchester United by signing a four-year contract extension.

The 28-year-old Spain goalkeeper has agreed an improved deal reportedly worth £350,000 a week – including an option to extend for a fifth season – after evidently resolving to try and help restore United to former glories.

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» 'A star is born': Ansu Fati announces himself and changes his world | Sid Lowe

This wasn’t one of those things that just happens. It wasn’t something you watch; it was something that takes you with it

This story starts in a self-proclaimed communist utopia, a tiny village in the Andalucían countryside where Che Guevara looks out from the sports ground, Republican flags adorn the town hall and political murals are painted on walls; a small, isolated place with no police where much of the 2,626 population live in identical homes they built themselves and the town’s seal depicts a dove of peace with an olive branch; where they organised raids on supermarkets to feed people, public salaries are equal, collectives work the fields, land confiscated from the aristocracy, and the mayor is fond of Che’s line: only those who dream will someday see their dreams become reality.

Which is appropriate, even if this reality wasn’t the dream they had. One hundred and one kilometres east of Seville, Marinaleda is, as the title of Dan Hancox’s fascinating book calls it, the village against the world. The mayor since 1979 is Juan Manuel Sánchez Gordillo, who has the kind of beard you’re supposed to have when you’re a founder of the Collective for Workers’ Unity, an instigator of hunger strikes, and the political leader of a place like this – described as Spain’s Robin Hood – when you’ve been jailed seven times and the target of at least two assassination attempts.

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» McCabe v Prince Abdullah: how battle for control of Sheffield United unfolded
A long battle for taking sole charge of the club has been played out in court and on Monday the judge ruled in favour of Prince Abdullah, a Saudi royal

This summer, as Sheffield United prepared for their first Premier League campaign in 12 years, the future of the club was being decided in the high court regarding who controls them. At the centre of the argument were the co-owners Kevin McCabe and Prince Abdullah bin Mossad Bin Abdulaziz al-Saud, a Saudi royal who bought half of the Blades in 2013 for £1, in exchange for £10m investment. On Monday the judge’s verdict arrived and he ruled in favour of Abdullah.

Two weeks of arguments were made on both sides, plenty of it extremely heated. Abdullah was accused of bribery, which he denied and the claim was dismissed as “fanciful” by the judge. Mr Justice Fancourt found overwhelmingly in favour of the prince, dismissing the claims brought by McCabe.

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» Women’s Super League: talking points from the weekend’s action

Chelsea need to be more ruthless, Spurs secure first victory and City’s Pauline Bremer is like a new signing after return to fitness

Lacklustre defending punished Chelsea at Brighton, with Aileen Whelan stabbing home late on before Adelina Engman rescued a point at the death. It is turning into a familiar tale, and one that dogged them so often last season: not being clinical enough in the opposition box and not being watertight in their own. It is something Emma Hayes was desperate to improve on but they need to be much better defensively, in particular.

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» Italian football pundit sacked for racist on-air remarks about Romelu Lukaku
  • Luciano Passirani said only way to stop him is ‘give him bananas’
  • Telelombardia says he will not appear on the show again

An Italian TV pundit has been sacked for saying that the only way to stop Romelu Lukaku is to give “him 10 bananas to eat”. Luciano Passirani, an Italian football journalist, was a guest on the Qui Studio a Voi Stadio show when he made the racist remark and the director of the Telelombardia show reacted immediately by saying that he would never appear on the programme again.

The show was debating Lukaku’s impact for Inter so far since joining Manchester United in the summer and Passirani said: “Lukaku is one of the best signings that Inter could have made. I don’t see another player like him on any other team in Italy. He is one of the strongest, I like him a lot because he has that strength: he is the twin of [Dúvan] Zapata at Atalanta.”

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» Juventus 'ultras' leaders arrested over alleged ticketing racket

Investigation linked to alleged mafia infiltration into ultras’ ticket touting

Twelve leaders of hardcore Juventus “ultra” football fan groups have been arrested on suspicion of criminal association, money laundering, violence and aggravated extortion in connection with ticket sales.

The suspects allegedly threatened to sing racist chants during matches if the Italian Serie A champions’ ticketing officials did not hand over blocks of reduced-price tickets that the ultras could then sell on to fans. The threats came after Juventus stopped distributing blocks of tickets for sale in 2017. Clubs are fined and can have points deducted over racist chanting.

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» Arsenal captain Granit Xhaka says team were ‘scared’ in second half at Watford
• Gunners let slip 2-0 half-time lead and just hung on for a draw
• Xhaka adds that the side had to ‘show more character’

Granit Xhaka reignited the debate about Arsenal’s mental toughness when he said his team had been scared during the second half of the 2-2 draw at Watford.

Arsenal led 2-0 at the interval – courtesy of goals by Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang – despite an error-strewn display. But they lost their way in the second half after a calamitous defensive mix‑up allowed Tom Cleverley to pull a goal back. Sokratis Papastathopoulos was the Arsenal player chiefly to blame, misplacing a pass when attempting to play out from the back.

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» Pep Guardiola believes Manchester City can learn and refocus after humbling

• Norwich’s entire squad cost less than a City substitute
• Guardiola: ‘These boys gave me the prestige I have in England’

It did seem odd that, in the aftermath of Manchester City’s defeat to Norwich, there was talk of the champions needing to strengthen. By some accounts, Norwich’s entire squad cost less than a single City substitute, but yet – after the 3-2 reverse – it was the visitors who were felt to have a glaring absence in their team.

The name being uttered with a sigh was that of Aymeric Laporte. The “most solid and incredible defender that we had in the previous season”, in Pep Guardiola’s words, was missing from the City team with a knee injury and will continue to be missing until the new year. In his absence, the feeling went, City fell to pieces at the back. Coming under particular scrutiny was the partnership of John Stones and Nicolás Otamendi in central defence. With both players making prominent errors would Guardiola really persist with them, with so much at stake and Liverpool already five points clear in the Premier League?

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» James Maddison has Brendan Rodgers eulogising about his potential
• Leicester manager compares Maddison to Philippe Coutinho
• ‘He is a humble boy, has a lovely swagger, a lovely arrogance’

James Maddison’s turn as a roving No 10 was the standout display as Manchester United broke a three‑game run without a win at Old Trafford. Leicester City may have lost to Marcus Rashford’s early penalty but their 22-year-old midfielder lit up the contest via a performance that illustrated how he would immediately make Ole Gunnar Solskjær’s side better. Maddison embodies the type of quick-minded, technically astute player the United manager wants.

To hear his manager, Brendan Rodgers, say Maddison has a “swagger” and is reminiscent of “Philippe Coutinho” strengthened that sense while also highlighting the situation vacant at United marked “playmaker”.

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» Bournemouth’s Callum Wilson fires double to sink lacklustre Everton

It is these kind of frail and lukewarm performances that make it nigh on impossible to take Everton’s top-six aspirations seriously.

Marco Silva overhauled his squad to the tune of more than £115m this summer, undoubtedly bolstering his attacking riches but his side’s defending here left a lot to be desired as Callum Wilson started and completed the scoring to earn Bournemouth a second win of the season. Ryan Fraser stepped off the bench to help the hosts regain the lead after Dominic Calvert‑Lewin’s equaliser, his first Premier League goal for 971 minutes, before Wilson seized on lax defending to seal victory. A passive Everton side flattered to deceive and a Bournemouth team brimming with vim duly punished them.

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» Arsenal's Lia Wälti: 'The summer showed us what we had to work on'

The Arsenal midfielder is eager for a return to action after a painful spell in which she suffered serious injury

Lia Wälti is no stranger to pain. The small tattoo behind her ear, the earth with a Saturn-style ring around it, was the result of a bit of a fascination with the feeling.

“Oh no, don’t ask me, I’m not a tattoo person, I don’t know why I did that,” she says with a laugh. “I wanted to see how it feels, you know, because everyone says it is so painful, but it wasn’t. I’m glad I can’t see.”

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» Premier League: 10 talking points from the weekend’s action

Buendía the architect of City’s bad day, Arsenal were woeful in defence and Maguire deserved better from Leicester fans

The way in which Norwich turned a negative into a positive was quite something. With nigh-on a full team of players out injured, the odds of stopping Manchester City looked insurmountable. Instead Daniel Farke’s men gave their best performance of the season by far, not only cutting the champions open but looking solid at the back for the first time. There was kudos for the debutants in defence, Sam Byram and Ibrahim Amadou, but also for more seasoned Norwich players. Emi Buendía and Marco Stiepermann were central to a buccaneering style in the Championship yet had struggled to bring that form to the top flight. With the gauntlet down, however, they delivered. Buendía contributed two assists and regularly sprung the City press. Stiepermann sparked several counter attacks and crucially reestablished his understanding with Teemu Pukki. Paul MacInnes

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» Tammy Abraham revels up front but Chelsea need to tighten up at the back
Striker is profiting from Chelsea’s openness in attack as he showed in the 5-2 win at Wolves but it is leaving them vulnerable in defence

Youth products scoring goals. A verve and excitement in forward areas. Goals, fun, joy. It was all there for Chelsea at Wolves on Saturday. Fikayo Tomori was a revelation stepping out from a rejigged defensive line. Tammy Abraham scored a hat-trick to take his tally to seven in three games. Mason Mount again found space and devastating angles in the final third.

And yet when Romain Saïss’s 69th-minute header found its way in via the hands of Kepa Arrizabalaga and Abraham to make it 4-1, Wolves’ players were rushing to get the ball back to the centre-circle; it seemed like more than consolation. When, with the score at 4-2, the board went up to signal six minutes of injury time, there was a great roar from the home crowd: they felt there was a real chance of a famous comeback. With this Chelsea side, you suspect, no lead will ever seem quite safe.

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» Watford look like their old selves now Quique Sánchez Flores is back | Nick Ames
After a comeback to draw against Arsenal, having been two down, the faithful welcomed the return of a familiar face

Is it still called a “new manager bounce” when the manager is not particularly new? Whatever this was, it had Vicarage Road feeling far better about things and Watford looking considerably more akin to their old selves. From the jaws of defeat came what, on the basis of a ferocious assault on Arsenal’s goal in the second half, felt by the end like a 2-2 thrashing. Quique Sánchez Flores came back for afternoons like this and the home support, numbed by the atrophy of late-era Javi Gracia, would happily get used to more of them.

“Calm down, calm down,” Flores gesticulated to his players in added time, which came to an unwelcome close in the throes of a finale packed with barely credible levels of incident. He was concerned Watford were about to let their good work slip, with Joe Willock having failed to spot a fine opportunity to play Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang in for the winner.

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» Rejuvenated Kieran Trippier making a quick impression at Atlético Madrid

The former Spurs right-back hinted he was unwanted at his old club, but is making the most of a fresh start in Spain

A few months ago, Kieran Trippier was mingling in the stands of the Wanda Metropolitano. It was the end of the Champions League final and Liverpool had claimed the trophy, but Trippier seemed reluctant to leave the field, lingering at the side of the pitch and commiserating with stricken Spurs fans. It was, many observers felt, his way of saying goodbye.

On Wednesday the Champions League anthem will be playing at the Metropolitano once more and Trippier will be there again. It turned out that the 28-year-old was performing some kind of farewell, although recently the course of events that led him to become an Atlético player have come up for debate. One thing is for sure, though: despite the short period Trippier has been in Spain, he has already made an impression.

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» Zidanesque: roulette round the keeper for stunning goal in Portugal U-19s match – video

An U-19 women's international football match in Portugal was lit up by a stunning roulette from Francisca Nazareth in a game between Portugal and Turkey. Portugal ran out 5-0 victors. 

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» Tammy Abraham 'has to sustain it' after hat-trick at Wolves says Frank Lampard – video

Frank Lampard praised Tammy Abraham after his Chelsea side were 5-2 victors away at Wolves. The Blues have had a mixed start to the season so far, however it was the performance of the young striker that caught the eye. 'He has to sustain it and has to get even better, he has to be hungry,' said Lampard. The former England international added that he was 'delighted to come here and score five goals - not many teams do that' 

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» 'We want to play better than this' says Solskjær after 1-0 win over Leicester – video

'The performances have been miles better than this' were the words of Ole Gunnar Solksjær after his side snuck a 1-0 victory over Leicester City. An early penalty kick from Marcus Rashford was the difference. In a game that saw a number of key players missing for Manchester United. The manager insisted that his side 'want to play better than this' 

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» Non-league footballer scores spectacular goal from inside own half – video

Whickham FC midfielder Dale Burrell scored a stunning equaliser from well behind the halfway line against Bishop Auckland in their Northern League Cup tie. Burrell spotted the keeper off his line before making an audacious attempt reminiscent of David Beckham's famous goal against Wimbledon. Whickham, who play in the ninth tier of English football, scored again in stoppage time to win the match 2-1

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» Christian Eriksen 'happy' at Spurs despite transfer speculation, insists Pochettino – video

Christian Eriksen is settled at Tottenham Hotspur despite failing to secure a move out of the club in the summer transfer window, manager Mauricio Pochettino has said. Eriksen is in the final year of his contract and had reportedly set his sights on a move to Spain. But Pochettino insisted the contract situation would not impact his playing time, saying: 'His qualities are important for the team … we believe that he deserves to play'

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» Gareth Southgate: England were both ‘outstanding’ and ‘poor’ against Kosovo – video

Gareth Southgate admitted that he was concerned with England's performance after they beat Kosovo 5-3 at St Mary's in Southampton. The England manager said that 'poor individual mistakes, a poor start to the game' after Kosovo took the lead in under a minute. However, it was a good night for England's attacking trio. Southgate singled out Raheem Sterling in particular, saying, 'He's been almost unstoppable, his awareness of where defenders were, his ability to ride challenges, his vision and desire to get in on goal, and unselfish play as well, so I couldn't speak highly enough of the way he played'

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» After 552 days, Juventus finally knocked off their Serie A perch | Nicky Bandini

It is far too soon for early-season standings to really matter. And yet, at the same time, they do

In Italy, the Serie A table is always front-page news. On Saturday, Sunday and Monday, La Classifica appears on the cover of all the nation’s major sports papers. This season is only three games old but readers want to see those numbers. And especially on a weekend when Juventus have been knocked off their perch.

The Bianconeri had occupied first place – or at least a share of it – for 552 consecutive days, dating back to March 2018. That sequence ended after they drew 0-0 away to Fiorentina, leaving room for Inter to overtake by extending their own perfect start with a 1-0 victory over Udinese.

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» PSG fans don't want to hear it, but Neymar is their best route to success

PSG ultras are unwilling to forgive Neymar, but he remains the team’s best weapon in Ligue 1 and the Champions League

By Adam White and Eric Devin for Get French Football News

It had to happen this way. On Saturday evening at the Parc des Princes PSG battled for 92 minutes against an obdurate (and dangerous) Strasbourg side, making hard work of a team that held them twice last season – including a 2-2 draw at the same venue in April. Had it not been for the brilliance of new goalkeeper Keylor Navas, who saved twice from Ludovic Ajorque on his debut, the home side would not even have dared to dream about winning the game.

PSG were missing two of their best forwards in Kylian Mbappé and Edinson Cavani. Ángel Di María played like a man who had been traipsing across the world with Argentina in the international break, even though he hadn’t. And Mauro Icardi, who arrived at the club on loan from Inter on deadline day, was given his debut but clearly has some ring rust. Failing to beat Strasbourg would have been a mere bump in the road domestically, but it could have affected the team psychologically before their match against Real Madrid in the Champions League on Wednesday.

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» Héber: from partnering Firmino in Brazil to replacing David Villa in NYC

Heber played alongside ‘Alberto’ Firmino in his teens before spells in Armenia and Croatia earned him a move to New York

By Joshua Law for Yellow & Green Football

Héber didn’t have to think twice. He had received a phone call from Srecko Juricic, sporting director of Croatian club HNK Rijeka, who told him that New York City FC were preparing to make a bid. “I said I’d go,” recalls the Brazilian forward. “The scout from New York City went to Rijeka and showed me the project. It was an easy decision.” Six months on, it is not one he regrets. Héber has scored 14 goals in 17 starts in MLS, including a spectacular late winner against local rivals New York Red Bulls in August, and confirmed himself as this season’s breakthrough star.

Héber’s move to the US is is just the latest step in a winding and sometimes difficult career that has taken him from the Amazon to New York via the Brazilian lower leagues and the outer reaches of European football. He seems delighted with his new club. “The league is really good, the infrastructure is great, the stadium is always full,” he says.

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» Valencia sack Marcelino before key clashes at Barcelona and Chelsea

• Marcelino guided La Liga club to Champions League last season
• Valencia are 10th in La Liga on four points after three games

Chelsea’s Champions League opponents Valencia have been thrown into chaos after the club’s owner, Peter Lim, announced the sacking of Marcelino García Toral six days before their visit to Stamford Bridge. Marcelino has been replaced by the former Spain Under-21s manager Albert Celades, after a crisis that has been growing steadily over the last year and was played out publicly during the summer finally exploded on Wednesday. Valencia face Barcelona at the Camp Nou on Saturday night before travelling to London.

Related: The Fiver | A man who had just fallen backwards down a water chute with a beer in both hands

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» International football: 10 talking points from the latest round of games

Kosovo showed why people have been showering praise on them while Mick McCarthy has plenty to think about

Kosovo came into their match against England second in Group A and being talked up by everyone, Gareth Southgate included, as dangerous opponents. It didn’t feel that way by half-time with the hosts leading 5-1, but Kosovo came out not only fighting but reorganised, and gave England an actual scare. Valon Berisha was the stand-out, bagging a well-taken double, but forward Vedat Muriqi provided strength and awareness (not to mention the whipped left foot pass that split England’s defence for Berisha’s second) while Swansea’s Bersant Celina added guile. Perhaps the pivotal contribution, however, came from coach Bernard Challandes. His switch to 4-4-2 put England’s creaky centre-backs under more pressure than they had endured in the opening period, and it made the difference to a second half in which Kosovo lived up to their billing. Paul MacInnes

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» The USA-Mexico rivalry will remain decidedly one-sided for a while yet

Much work is to be done in US men’s soccer before they are able to compete with El Tri, let alone make an impact at the World Cup

Imagine you have a Formula One team, and you hire five-time champion Lewis Hamilton with much hoopla. Then you hand him your grandmother’s old station wagon to race.

US men’s soccer coach Gregg Berhalter may not be Lewis Hamilton. But the US men at the moment are, if not an old station wagon, then a machine that needs a good deal of tinkering before it can keep up with regional rival Mexico, let alone make an impact at the World Cup.

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» Is MLS blessed with brilliant attackers ... or are its defenders just terrible?

Goals are up this season in MLS and players such as Zlatan Ibrahimovic are thriving. But are they just feasting on easy pickings?

Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s 50th game in Major League Soccer came earlier this month. The LA Galaxy suffered a soul-crushing 4-3 defeat to the Seattle Sounders, conceding in the 89th minute, but not before their Swedish frontman had contributed a goal and an assist, bringing his tally in his first 50 league appearances to 55 combined goals and assists.

Ordinarily, this would be an unprecedented achievement, but Ibrahimovic’s productivity had already been all but matched by Josef Martinez and Carlos Vela who both managed 54 combined goals and assists in their first 50 MLS games. These are three very different players playing for three different teams, but as a trio they are setting a new standard.

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» French games should not be stopped for homophobia, says FFF president

• Noël Le Graët ‘not interested’ in homophobic chanting
• Anti-discrimination groups call on Le Graët to resign from post

Anti-discrimination groups have urged the French Football Federation president, Noël Le Graët, to resign after he said that matches should no longer be stopped when there is homophobic chanting.

Several league games in the top two French divisions have been halted by referees this season but Le Graët wants referees to let play continue if there are more homophobic chants, starting from this weekend.

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» Euro 2020 roundup: Ronaldo gets four, France stroll it, Czechs bounce back

• Ronaldo takes international tally to 93 in 5-1 win over Lithuania
• Czech Republic leapfrog Kosovo with 3-0 victory in Montenegro

Portugal captain Cristiano Ronaldo took his international goals tally to 93 when he scored four times to give the European champions a 5-1 win away to Lithuania in their Euro 2020 qualifier on Tuesday. Playing in his 161st international, the 34-year-old notched his eighth hat-trick for his country and the 54th of his career to help Portugal through what had threatened to turn into a frustrating evening.

The midfielder William Carvalho completed the rout in stoppage time as Portugal stayed second in Group B with eight points, five behind the leaders Ukraine with one game in hand.

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» Dani Ceballos: ‘I’ve hardly noticed any difference between Real Madrid and Arsenal’
The midfielder on settling at Arsenal, why Anfield stunned him and how rain, snow and Christmas fixtures will not put him off

It starts with a song. Dani Ceballos listens back, laughs, then looks down a little bashfully. “Surprising,” he calls it. Arsenal fans knew he was good, or hoped so – he had come from Real Madrid, after all – but you don’t leave there unless someone wants you to and few expected anything quite this good, this soon. Even he didn’t. Two assists, more touches, passes and dribbles than anyone and that moment when he turned full circle, fell and still escaped with the ball obediently by his foot led to a supporters’ serenade. And a Spaniard wondering if that was really his name he could hear.

Oh, Dani Ceballos.

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» Paul Scholes and the wonderful aesthetic appeal of the perfect pass | Nick Ames
The former Manchester United legend showed on Wednesday night why so many of us love a wonderfully executed pass

In discussions about the art of the pass, it is never wrong to afford Johan Cruyff the final word. “Technique is passing the ball with one touch, with the right speed, at the right foot of your teammate,” he famously said, instantly creating a blueprint for a generation of players and coaches everywhere.

Related: The most perfect camera angles of great football moments

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» Steve Clarke surveys latest damage to a Scotland narrative in freefall | Ewan Murray

Manager admits he is on an international management learning curve as dismal home defeats by Russia and Belgium sink in

This doesn’t feel like a time for learning curves, even if Steve Clarke concedes that is precisely what he is in the midst of. Scotland’s meek capitulation against Belgium on Monday means Clarke now presides over a team who sit fifth in their European Championship qualifying section. San Marino spare the Scots from last place: hardly a promising scenario.

To say Clarke is now in a different movie to the one he was recently starring in is a gross understatement. Having guided Kilmarnock to third place in last season’s top flight, there was a perception the 56-year-old had the Midas touch as he swapped Rugby Park for international football in May. Belgium’s 4-0 canter means Clarke has lost three of his first four matches in charge of Scotland, with the fact that the opposition has been stern doing little to dispel criticism. For Clarke, a coach previously immersed in club football, the month until Scotland’s next match will be a test.

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» The Fiver | Norwich hoisting Pep Guardiola and his men by their own petard

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Following a maiden season in England in which his expensively assembled Manchester City team won nothing, Pep Guardiola was labelled a charlatan by fans of opposition teams who saw this failure as proof his fancy-dan foreign ways would never catch on in the Premier League. The same fans have since been forced to eat their words on numerous occasions, never more so than on Saturday when a Norwich City side sticking fairly rigidly to the Guardiola blueprint, showed that intensive pressing high up the pitch coupled with a confident tiki-taka style of possession football can be extremely effective indeed, hoisting Pep and his men by their own petard and causing a seismic shock across the Premier League landscape. Not bad for a plucky team of church mice assembled for a total cost of £6.45m, a mere £399.65m less than the side they vanquished by the odd goal in five.

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» The Dozen: Guardiola's grief and David Luiz's lunge – the best Premier League pictures

Our picture editors choose their favourite images from the weekend’s matches

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» Football transfer rumours: Toni Kroos to Manchester United?

Today’s tell-all is very calm and assured

German newspaper Bild say Manchester United want to sign Toni Kroos from Real Madrid and are willing to pay up the thick end of £67m to make a Premier League player of the central midfielder. Despite having failed to sign Paul Pogba in the summer transfer window, Madrid have not given up on prising the Frenchman away from Old Trafford and may use United’s interest in Kroos as leverage in the next round of tedious negotiations between the two clubs. According to the Times, United are also interested in signing James Maddison from Leicester City.

In news that will strike terror into the hearts of more highly-strung Liverpool fans, Spanish news outlet AS say Barcelona and Madrid are preparing to duke it out in a bid to employ both Jürgen Klopp and Virgil van Dijk. While it would be rather weird if both Spanish sides weren’t interested in getting either or both men on board, the mere fact the story’s “out there” is bound to be a source of concern at Anfield. Expect Klopp to laugh off the notion of him leaving Liverpool any time soon when he faces the media before his side’s Champions League opener at Napoli on Tuesday night.

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» Football quiz: early season sackings

The first international break of the season is a precarious time to be a football manager. Just as Javi Gracia

Javi Gracia was sacked on Saturday just a few months after he had led Watford to the FA Cup final. Watford's form dipped at the end of last season and he was only given four games this campaign to turn things around. Which manager was sacked after just four games in charge of a Premier League club?

Chris Hutchings

Bob Bradley

Frank de Boer

Les Reed

Gracia joins a long line of managers who have been sacked by Watford. How many days did Billy McKinlay last as their manager in 2014?





Huddersfield sacked Jan Siewert last month after a run of one win in 19 games, replacing him with Danny Cowley. What was Cowley’s profession before he became a full-time manager at Lincoln City?



PE teacher

School caretaker

Gus Poyet was sacked by Brighton in the summer of 2013. What was he doing when he found out the news?

On his honeymoon

Working as a TV pundit

At his child’s birthday party

Playing a charity football match at his former club Chelsea

Ethiopia sacked Iffy Onuora in 2011 after just nine months in charge because he had been critical of the team’s training facilities in the press. What was his main gripe?

The team were unable to train on a grass pitch

He had to remove cows from the training ground before a session

There was no security so the public kept interrupting training sessions

There were no posts at the training pitch so they had to use jumpers for goalposts

Wimbledon were ninth in the Fourth Division when Dave Bassett joined in 1981. By the time he left in 1987, they were riding high in the top tier. However, it could have been very different. Which club did Bassett agree to join in the summer of 1984, before rejecting their offer a few days later and sticking with Wimbledon?

Crystal Palace


Swansea City


Which former Tottenham player was sacked as the club’s manager a few games into the season after a particularly damning 3-0 defeat to Notts County in the League Cup?

Tim Sherwood

Terry Venables

Glenn Hoddle

Ossie Ardiles

Why were the League Managers Association especially disappointed by Charlton’s decision to sack Les Reed in 2006?

He had moved his family over from the US a few days earlier

They sacked him on Christmas Eve

He had won his last five games in a row

The club’s chairman had said on TV the day before that he “would never sack Les”

Ian Porterfield was the first manager to be sacked in the first season of the Premier League. In which month did Chelsea give him the boot?





Roberto Di Matteo won the FA Cup and Champions League while in charge of Chelsea. How many months did he spend as their manager (either as a caretaker or in the job full-time).

Four months

Eight months

Twelve months

Fifteen months

1 and above.

Ah well.

2 and above.

Ah well.

3 and above.

You gave it a good go

4 and above.

That's a respectable score

5 and above.

That's a respectable score

6 and above.

That's a fine score

7 and above.

That's a fine score

8 and above.

That's a very fine score

9 and above.

That's a very fine score

0 and above.

Ah well.

10 and above.

Incredible score

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» David Squires on … England, Scotland and Owen v Shearer

Our cartoonist checks in as the international break takes hold, plus a beef distraction

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» Women’s Super League: talking points from the weekend’s action | Rachel Brown-Finnis
Record crowds only added to the excitement on an opening weekend where newcomers Manchester United and Spurs both impressed despite losing

I’ve played at World Cups and in Olympics, been at tournaments where attendances and TV viewing figures have been amazing, and as players you’re thinking: “What effect is this going to have on the domestic league, and on my club?” And then a few weeks later you’re playing in front of a few hundred people, and reality hits. There have been a lot of false dawns, but it looks like this year might be different.

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» The Dozen: the weekend's best Premier League photos

Our picture editors choose their favourite photos from the weekend’s Premier League action

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» Premier League, La Liga, Bundesliga, Serie A and Ligue 1 top scorers 2019-20

Keep up with the top scorers in European football’s leading five leagues, updated throughout the season

7 Tammy Abraham (Chelsea)
7 Sergio Agüero (Manchester City)

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» Emile Heskey: ‘I was on the floor and started crying. Then I found a barber’ | Jamie Jackson
The former England striker talks about homesickness in Liverpool, falling asleep during Gérard Houllier’s meetings and picks his favourite player from the ‘golden generation’

Emile Heskey exudes a Zen-like calm whether discussing criticism of his goalscoring or recalling crying. The former Liverpool and England striker is at the Alderley Hotel in Cheshire to discuss his new book, Even Heskey Scored. The title was chosen because, he laughs, this is “what everyone said”.

Yet if his career numbers are low for someone who played most of his career as a No 9 – seven goals from 62 caps, 110 in 516 Premier League games – his 53 assists in the top flight is a clue to his real worth. The figure stands at only two fewer than the vaunted master-creator Paul Scholes. And when Heskey’s seventh place in the all-time appearance chart is factored in, alongside a 21-year, seven-club career that ran from 1995 to 2016 and took in Leicester City, Liverpool, Birmingham City, Wigan Athletic, Aston Villa, Newcastle Jets and Bolton Wanderers, there is further evidence of why he was so successful.

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» Per Mertesacker: ‘I want to make an impact on young people’s lives’

Arsenal’s academy manager talks about his parents’ influence, Mesut Özil and what he wants from his players

How did you find the experience of writing a book? It was a good exercise for me to reflect on 30 years within football and different experiences. Because I wasn’t regarded as that talented, I always wanted to find out what did it make within me when people said: ‘You’re not good enough.’ And my upbringing ... as my dad sat next to me negotiating a contract and saying: ‘No, no, this is too much’ – he refused to take that money. I was really angry at that time with him but he was sending me messages which were really important moving forward. I look back to those moments and think they had a bigger impact on me than I expected.

Related: Per Mertesacker: ‘It gives you the goose bumps ... on the pitch you see actual joy’

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» Football appears too self-important to bother itself about climate emergency | Louise Taylor
Choosing to stage Euro 2020 in 12 different countries is a decision that seems to be lacking in common sense

Imagine a series of outline maps spanning England, Europe and, perhaps even, the world. They feature clearly highlighted contours and country boundaries but the neatly printed place names that customarily adorn atlases and globes are missing.

It is safe to assume that, asked to fill in the blanks and pinpoint specific towns and cities, a lot of people might make some embarrassingly bad guesses. But what price football fans proving the geographically literate exceptions?

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