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» Ole Gunnar Solskjaer reveals what Paul Pogba has changed to alter Man Utd's form
The Frenchman has netted nine times since the Norwegian took over and played a strong hand in United's improvements
» Rob Holding set to be offered new Arsenal deal despite long-term injury
The centre back isn't due to return to action until September after suffering a knee injury in December
» Jordan Henderson names the one player who embodies Man Utd's resurgence
The Frenchman has helped transform United under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer
» The one reason Jordan Henderson is worried about Man Utd vs Liverpool
The Reds could move three points clear of Man City at the top of the Premier League if they beat United on Sunday
» Dirk Kuyt reveals full story behind Craig Bellamy and John Arne Riise's golf club incident
Welshman Bellamy infamously struck the Norwegian with the golf club on a team bonding trip to Spain 11 years ago
» Jamie Carragher exclusive: Liverpool legend trolls Man Utd fans ahead of game
EXCLUSIVE The Reds will be hoping to replicate the 4-1 annihilation of United at Old Trafford 10 years ago on Sunday
» The three reasons Sir Alex Ferguson wants to give Ole Gunnar Solskjaer Man Utd job now
EXCLUSIVE The legendary United chief has been impressed with his former striker's job so far - which has seen 11 wins from 13 games
» Why Mesut Ozil is key to Arsenal reaching Champions League, according to Granit Xhaka
The German has only managed 14 Premier League appearances this season due to illness and minor injuries
» The shock player Pep Guardiola is set to name in Man City's Carabao Cup final XI
Aro Muric is ready to be thrown in against Chelsea ahead of Ederson and the injured Claudio Bravo
» Why Man Utd stars Paul Pogba and Marcus Rashford turned down Brit Award tickets
Liverpool duo Daniel Sturridge and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain did go to the music bash at the O2 Arena this week
» Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink names the reason Chelsea will lose Carabao Cup final to Man City
The Blues face Pep Guardiola's men at Wembley on Sunday but are on a poor run of form after recent defeats to Man Utd and City
» Kevin De Bruyne sets Man City target to eclipse Man Utd feat
EXCLUSIVE City could pick up their first piece of silverware of the season on Sunday and are well placed in the Premier League, FA Cup and Champions league
» Why Ole Gunnar Solskjaer doesn't want Man Utd to be like Liverpool
The Norwegian won six Premier League crowns during his time as a United player, while the Reds haven't lifted a league trophy since 1990
» What Jurgen Klopp will allow Liverpool stars to do if they beat Man Utd
Man City sparked an angry clash with United's dressing room after celebrating too loudly last season
» Ajax block Arsenal's swoop to make Marc Overmars technical director
EXCLUSIVE The former Gunners star has 18 months left on his contract at the Dutch club
» Man Utd squad vs Liverpool revealed as Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's men arrive at hotel
The Red Devils are staying the night at the Lowry Hotel in Manchester ahead of Sunday's clash with Liverpool
» Gary Neville believes what Jurgen Klopp does in games could cost Liverpool title
The Reds are battling it out with Manchester City for top honours
» Watch Lionel Messi's 'best goal ever' as Barcelona star sends fans wild
The Argentine ace scored his 50th career hat-trick in Saturday's 4-2 win against Sevilla
» Liverpool stars arrive at training ahead of crunch Premier League clash with Man Utd
The Reds will reclaim top spot if they avoid defeat at Old Trafford - and are clearly leaving nothing to chance
» Arsenal predicted line-up vs Southampton as Unai Emery makes changes
The Gunners could move back into the top four if they beat the Saints at the Emirates
» Liverpool handed huge Champions League boost ahead of Bayern Munich showdown
The last 16 tie is finely poised after the first leg ended goalless at Anfield on Wednesday
» What Ole Gunnar Solskjaer said when asked if Liverpool are better than Man Utd
The two rivals lock horns at Old Trafford on Sunday afternoon in a crunch Premier League clash
» Eric Cantona picks his Manchester United player of the year so far
The Man Utd legend has identified the member of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's squad that has impressed him most
» Mauricio Pochettino to apologise to referee Mike Dean after post-match outburst
Tottenham's title bid took a dent at Burnley sparking a hostile exchange between Mauricio Pochettino and referee Mike Dean at the final whistle

Football resources

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Other sport news:

» Jürgen Klopp says a win at United will still be worth only three points

• Liverpool manager plays down Old Trafford showdown
• Solskjær: ‘I think all of Manchester will be supporting us’

Jürgen Klopp does a great line in deadpan humour. Asked, rather irritatingly, if he was aware of the significance of Liverpool’s visit to Old Trafford on Sunday he replied: “Of course. It’s the only game we have at the weekend.”

Related: Solskjær: beating Liverpool would be ‘worthy of Manchester United history’

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» Ross Barkley refuses to let 6-0 drubbing darken Chelsea’s glory bid

‘Bad days don’t always stay,’ says midfielder as Chelsea look for revenge against Manchester City in Sunday’s Carabao Cup final

This might not have been the most harmonious weeks in west London but Ross Barkley certainly has no intention of hiding when he arrives at Wembley on Sunday. A fortnight ago, it was the England midfielder’s careless header back into his own penalty area that gifted Sergio Agüero the second goal in Manchester City’s 6-0 demolition of Chelsea, with Pep Guardiola’s side now hot favourites to retain the Carabao Cup after that scintillating performance at the Etihad Stadium.

Related: Chelsea’s transfer ban forces club to make major decisions on recruitment | Dominic Fifield

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» Nathan Redmond: ‘The last two years have been the biggest learning curve’

The Southampton winger is finally recovering his confidence after enduring a torrid time since his England debut

“There’s nothing worse than not being able to get past a certain point, which I thought was never ending,” Nathan Redmond says. Over his shoulder, the skies are starting to darken at Southampton’s impressive training ground on the fringes of the New Forest. Fresh from another demanding session after a week in Tenerife under the watchful eye of his club’s workaholic manager, Ralph Hasenhüttl, Redmond is reflecting on a challenging period of his career that saw him miss the decisive penalty for England against Germany in the European Under-21 Championship semi-finals as well as be booed off by his own club’s supporters.

“I wasn’t doing anything right, I hadn’t scored a goal and was not performing for my team,” he says. “There were so many things going on and I wasn’t doing anything to change it. I guess I had to go through all of those things to realise how fortunate I am to be playing football. But at the same time I don’t want to end up being somebody who wastes something I’ve been blessed with.”

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» Burnley’s Ashley Barnes sinks Spurs then Pochettino confronts referee

Perhaps Mauricio Pochettino should have been wary about describing this game as a cup final for his players. Everybody knows Tottenham rarely last long in the cups and defeat at the hands of a more determined Burnley should now bring an end to talk of the title run-in turning into a three-horse race. The Spurs manager admitted as much and is likely to face an FA charge after venting his fury at the referee at the final whistle.

Spurs did not look much like title contenders, unable to convert 70% of possession into clear threats on goal and short of inspiration when tasked with breaking down Burnley’s dogged lines of defence. Harry Kane played and scored but with limited chances the home side finished better and deservedly took the points with goals from Chris Wood and Ashley Barnes.

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» Manchester City beat Arsenal in penalty shootout to win Continental Cup
• Continental League Cup final: Arsenal 0-0 Manchester City
• City win 4-2 on pens; Karen Bardsley saves two penalties

The Manchester City manager, Nick Cushing, was full of praise for Karen Bardsley after her two penalty shootout saves gave Manchester City a Continental League Cup final win against a depleted and exhausted Arsenal.

“She is an incredible goalkeeper and an incredible person. I know when we play KB she comes out with big saves in big moments,”said Cushing.

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» Bournemouth’s Josh King misses penalty to let Wolves off the hook

Joshua King missed an 85th-minute penalty as Bournemouth were forced to settle for a point against in-form Wolves in a contentious game containing three spot-kicks.

King struck his late effort against the right post having earlier given the Cherries a first-half lead from 12 yards. Raúl Jiménez earned the visitors a share of the points by calmly converting the second penalty of the afternoon with seven minutes remaining.

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» Manchester United’s golden child Marcus Rashford finds his lost lustre | Barney Ronay
It’s been three years since the forward burst into Manchester United’s first team and he looks better than ever now José Mourinho has been sent packing

There is a famous photo of Marcus Rashford lining up with his teammates before an England Under-16s fixture. Glancing down the row of likely lads you notice an adorably baby-faced Joe Gomez, the youthful Dominic Solanke, looking pretty much the same as the adult Dominic Solanke, and towards the far end a gap in the line where a face should be.

Except, look closer and there is someone there, almost blocked from view by the looming outline of the small girl standing in front of him. Yes, it’s Rashford. And yes, he’s tiny, peeping out between the schoolkids with the same sense of quiet poise that has carried him through the past three years, almost to the day, since his debut for Manchester United.

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» Wilfried Zaha’s Palace double puts Leicester’s Claude Puel in trouble

On a day when Roy Hodgson became the oldest manager to take charge of a team in the Premier League, his side won a contest that left many Leicester fans believing Claude Puel’s reign has gone on too long.

This result was a vital boost in Crystal Palace’s fight against relegation and exposed Leicester’s manager to more flak. Boos at the final whistle confirmed as much. This time two years ago Leicester were making their way back from a Champions League knockout tie at Sevilla, now they appear to be heading nowhere fast. Seven defeats in nine matches is no kind of haul for a club who aspire to returning to Europe. Puel insisted his team deserved better and pleaded with fans to keep faith.

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» Miguel Almirón sparkles on home debut as Newcastle down Huddersfield

When the floodlights were turned on in the second half it seemed almost unnecessary. This was less to do with dusk still being some way off than the sense that Miguel Almirón already appeared to have flicked a switch and illuminated the entire stadium.

Admittedly, he missed a few chances and Huddersfield did play most of the match with 10 men but the Paraguay playmaker’s home debut proved little short of electrifying. When he was replaced by Christian Atsu in the 80th minute it was to a standing ovation with Atsu’s enthusiastic clapping as he waited to come on amusing the fourth official, Martin Atkinson.

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» Sheffield United rise to second as Kieran Dowell header sees off West Brom

Sheffield United maintained their hold on the second automatic promotion place in the Championship after Kieran Dowell’s first-half header extended West Brom’s increasingly unproductive home form.

Darren Moore’s team may have started the day as the division’s leading scorers, having secured eight wins from their last nine away games, but they have now not won at the Hawthorns since Boxing Day as they missed the chance to overtake their promotion rivals.

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» Football League: Norwich win a thriller, Paul Scholes's Oldham lose again
  • Benrahma’s majestic hat-trick helps Brentford thump Hull
  • Leeds maintain promotion push with freak winning goal

The leaders Norwich City twice came from behind to beat in-form Bristol City 3-2. Two high-class goals from Kenny McLean gave Norwich victory in an excellent game at Carrow Road that also included a glorious, elegant solo goal from City’s Callum O’Dowda.

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» Maurizio Sarri heads to Carabao Cup final as Chelsea’s dead man walking | Dominic Fifield
Wembley appearance will do little to kill the sense of inevitability over the Italian’s future at Stamford Bridge

Maurizio Sarri strides out at Wembley a dead man walking. He can cling to football’s capacity to shock, and even convince himself an appearance in the Carabao Cup final will shrug Chelsea out of their slump in form. Theirs should be the greater motivation, after all, given the wounds are raw from the six-goal pummelling inflicted by Manchester City only a fortnight ago. Yet, in truth, there is a sense of inevitability about where this is heading.

Passage was negotiated safely, in the end, beyond Malmö in the Europa League on Thursday, with Dynamo Kyiv to come in the last 16, yet the respite seems temporary. The home support, so vociferous in their dissent a few days previously as the team’s FA Cup defence petered out against Manchester United, had barely acknowledged their head coach, instead joyously latching on to Callum Hudson-Odoi’s rare start or the welcome distraction of the cameos delivered by Ruben Loftus-Cheek and Ethan Ampadu off the bench. It would be a surprise if any of that trio start on Sunday.

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» Bernardo Silva: Manchester City's rising star beloved by Pep Guardiola

Pep Guardiola has said the Portuguese playmaker is ‘a joy’ to coach and one of the best players in England this season

Bernardo Silva’s status with Pep Guardiola is clear. “I love him,” says Manchester City’s manager, who last month warned Kevin De Bruyne that while injured he had lost his place to the Portuguese.

To inform City’s best player of last season that he has a fight to be selected over Silva illustrates just how good the Lisbon-born playmaker has been. At 24 Silva is the future and present of City, a player Guardiola can play in at least four positions.

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» Manchester United v Liverpool: match preview

After beating Tottenham, Arsenal and Chelsea on the road Ole Gunnar Solskjær can further strengthen his case to be made permanent Manchester United manager by registering the result fans prioritise: a home win against Liverpool. That this would also be in a blow to Liverpool’s bid to claim a first championship in 29 years would further delight the support and be one more high-point of the former forward’s return as caretaker boss. Jamie Jackson

Sunday 2.05pm Sky Sports Premier League

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» Javier Hernández on hand as West Ham recover from early blow to beat Fulham

Fulham have only themselves to blame for their season, confused decision-making and erratic management probably sending them straight back to the Championship. But on this one occasion they can feel genuinely aggrieved that their fate was unfairly decided by someone else.

They were ahead and playing well against West Ham, when Javier Hernández punched home a goal and changed the course of a game that ended in defeat for Claudio Ranieri’s side.

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» Watford in seventh heaven as Gerard Deulofeu hat-trick sinks Cardiff

Gerard Deulofeu, once one of European football’s brightest hopes, is finally fulfilling his potential to give Watford supporters hopes of their very own continental adventure.

The former Barcelona prodigy used the Cardiff City Stadium pitch as his playground as he scored a hat-trick in this striking win for Javi Gracia’s men.

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» Chelsea may turn to England coach Steve Holland if Maurizio Sarri is sacked
• Holland has worked at Chelsea and assists Gareth Southgate
• Holland the favoured option to take charge till summer

Chelsea would consider approaching their former coach and current England assistant manager Steve Holland to help steady the ship on an interim basis if they call time on Maurizio Sarri’s tenure at the club over the next week.

Sarri, who is seven months into a three-year contract, is clinging to his job despite the team’s progress to the last 16 of the Europa League on Thursday. Recent humiliating defeats by Manchester City and Bournemouth have eroded confidence in the Italian, who faces pivotal games against City in Sunday’s Carabao Cup final and Tottenham in the Premier League on Wednesday.

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» Manchester United result will not decide title, says Jürgen Klopp
• Klopp worried about ‘too much pressure’ on his players
• Liverpool manager backs Solskjær to land United job full-time

Jürgen Klopp has said Liverpool will be under “too much pressure” should they consider Sunday’s visit to Manchester United a defining moment in the title race rather than an opportunity to inflict a first Premier League defeat of Ole Gunnar Solskjær’s reign.

The Liverpool manager is acutely aware of the perception that Old Trafford is the most difficult assignment remaining, on paper at least, in his team’s pursuit of a first league championship for 29 years. Liverpool will move three points clear of Manchester City with a first win at United since their last title challenge in 2014, but Klopp believes it would be self-defeating to consider the wider implications of Sunday’s outcome.

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» Solskjær says beating Liverpool would be ‘worthy of United’s history’
• United have lost only one of caretaker’s 13 games in charge
• Anthony Martial and Jesse Lingard could return on Sunday

Ole Gunnar Solskjær believes if Manchester United beat Liverpool at Old Trafford on Sunday it will be another step towards making his side one “worthy of club history”.

The interim-manager has won 11 of his 13 games in charge, losing just once, to Paris Saint-Germain in last week’s Champions League last-16 first leg. Three of those victories were at Tottenham, Arsenal and Chelsea, moreover.

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» Alexander-Arnold: ‘I use last year’s loss at United as a learning point’
The Liverpool right-back returns to Old Trafford keen to atone for chastening defeat by Manchester United 11 months ago

“Don’t get complacent or big-headed” was the direct but well-meaning advice from Cafu to Trent Alexander-Arnold when the two-times World Cup winner attended an awards ceremony in Monaco this week. Listening to the Liverpool defender relive his uncomfortable afternoon at Manchester United last season underlines why his club and country do not – and Brazil’s most-capped player should not – worry about ego.

Old Trafford, where Jürgen Klopp’s team head in search of the Premier League leadership on Sunday, staged what Alexander-Arnold describes as the hardest moment of his career last March. The Champions League final defeat by Real Madrid would claim that low mark two months later but United’s 2-1 victory, and the lessons from it, are seared on the 20-year-old.

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» ‘Big surprise’: Hakeem al-Araibi feels the love as he returns to football club

Bahraini refugee in the spotlight during Pascoe Vale’s first home game of the season despite not getting any playing time

It hardly mattered that Hakeem al-Araibi didn’t make it on to the pitch for his homecoming match.

The Bahraini refugee, whose recent imprisonment in Thailand shone an uncomfortable spotlight on the intersection between human rights, diplomacy and sport, was always going to be the focus of Pascoe Vale’s first home game of the season.

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» Willie McKay is not an agent, so why was he working on Emiliano Sala deal?
A key question from the tragedy involving Cardiff’s £15m signing relates to the role of McKay, who is not a registered intermediary

The agent Willie McKay has been unusually public about the central role he played in the transfer of Emiliano Sala from Nantes to Cardiff City, given the player’s tragic death in the fallen private plane in the Channel on 21 January.

Mark McKay, Willie’s son, had a mandate from Nantes to sell Sala to a UK club for 10% of the eventual £15m fee, and Willie McKay told the Guardian that he worked feverishly to interest Cardiff, persuade Sala to sign and cement the deal. His work included arranging two private flights for Cardiff’s manager, Neil Warnock, to watch Sala play for Nantes.

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» Christian Atsu: ‘Sometimes what’s happened to me seems like a miracle’

Newcastle winger remains close to his roots in Ghana and takes inspiration from ‘father figure’ Rafael Benítez

It is a very long way from Ghana’s Ada Foah to Hillsong church on Newcastle’s Westgate Road – and not merely in miles. Christian Atsu has made that transformative journey, swapping an existence as one of 10 children whose late father eked out a living fishing and farming on the junction of the Volta River and the Atlantic Ocean, for a new life on Tyneside.

Almost everything has altered but one constant remains: the Newcastle winger’s Christian faith. Church was a central part of Atsu’s childhood and worship at Hillsong, a short walk from St James’ Park, binds the Ghana international to his new habitat.

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» The in-form young footballers in 2019

Kylian Mbappé is making 2019 his own, but teenagers Jadon Sancho, Ibrahima Konaté and Nicolo Zaniolo are also thriving

By Martin Laurence for WhoScored

Peter Bosz’s arrival as Bayer Leverkusen head coach just before Christmas has had a galvanising effect on a number of his players. Kai Havertz has certainly profited from the Dutchman’s possession-based approach. The teenager, now operating in a midfield three, has scored in three of his last four leagues games and boasts a pass accuracy of 87.4% in 2019. Rating: 7.42

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» Mauricio Pochettino: Spurs are no longer title contenders – video

Tottenham Hotspur manager Mauricio Pochettino admits his side can no longer consider themselves in the Premier League title race after slumping to a disappointing 2-1 loss against Burnley at Turf Moor. The result ends Spurs' fourteen-game winning streak against bottom-half opponents and leaves them five points adrift of league leaders Manchester City and Liverpool, who have a game in hand

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» Zenit fans give team fiery welcome before Europa League tie – video

Zenit fans gave a stirring welcome to their team as they approached the stadium on Thursday. Zenit were heading towards the Gazprom Arena in St Petersburg for their Europa League tie with Fenerbahce. A must-win game for them after a 1-0 defeat away, and perhaps it made all the difference the home side going on to win 3-1 on the night

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» Klopp: Solskjær has made Manchester United a threat again – video

Liverpool manager Jürgen Klopp says Ole Gunnar Solskjær has brought 'all the things Sir Alex Ferguson stood for' back to Manchester United, ahead of their Premier League clash at Old Trafford on Sunday.

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» Solskjær wants to build team 'worthy of Manchester United's history' – video

Ole Gunnar Solskjær will be hoping his unbeaten start in the Premier League continues if his side can see off Liverpool on Sunday. Speaking prior to the game the Norwegian said that he wants to create a side 'worthy of Manchester United's history'.

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» 'I won five Champions Leagues and these guys zero': Ronaldo taunts Atlético despite defeat – video

Cristiano Ronaldo’s return to Madrid was an unhappy one with his Juventus side losing 2-0 to Atlético in the Champions League. Ronaldo received plenty of abuse from the home fans and reacted in the mixed zone after the match displaying five fingers to the media, one for each Champions League title he has won.

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» Pep Guardiola: 'Still we are not ready to fight for the Champions League' – video

A late Raheem Sterling strike was the difference as Manchester City came from behind to win 3-2 away at Schalke. The home side were awarded two penalties in the first half after Sergio Agüero opened the scoring. City went down to 10-men after Nicolás Otamendi was shown a second yellow, the first awarded after a controversial VAR decision

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» Inquiry into Stajcic sacking ruled out as Milicic names first Matildas squad
  • New coach says he has his predecessor’s support
  • FFA keen to move on from turbulent past few weeks

The specifics of the controversial sacking of Alen Stajcic are still unknown – and are likely to remain so – after David Gallop insisted his and new coach Ante Milicic’s focus is steadfastly on the upcoming World Cup and not the turbulent past few weeks that have rocked the women’s game in Australia.

Gallop confirmed Football Federation Australia would not conduct an inquiry into the decision to dismiss Stajcic, despite the former coach’s calls for a review to be undertaken, as he and Milic faced the media in Brisbane for the first time since the former Socceroos assistant took the job.

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» Mauro Icardi, Internazionale and the return of unwelcome headlines | Paolo Bandini

Inter dug deep to see off Sampdoria, but without their forward after he was stripped of the captaincy

The first time the big screen cut to Mauro Icardi, it stayed with him for only a few seconds. He had arrived just before kick-off for Inter’s game against Sampdoria, taking a seat beside his wife, and agent, Wanda in the stands at San Siro. Neither seemed to notice when the cameras picked them out, provoking brief jeers from the home crowd.

But the camera lingered a little longer the second time around. Play had stopped, and the mood inside the stadium was restless, with the score still goalless after the interval. This time the whistles were ear-splitting. Wanda glanced up at the screen, and quickly cast her eyes back down.

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» Fear and loathing without Aspas as 'pathetic' Celta drift towards the rocks | Sid Lowe

Their talisman is injured and Celta Vigo are slumping badly at the wrong time, just as others are arresting their slides

Celta de Vigo’s fans saw hope disappear before their eyes. An hour had gone and José Luis Morales had just scored Levante’s third but it wasn’t only what was happening on the pitch that brought the fatalism flooding back at Balaídos, it was what was happening alongside it. There had been applause and anticipation when Iago Aspas, their captain and their everything, stepped into the sunlight and began warming up, tracksuit off ready to return after six weeks away; now there was silence as he ducked into the shadows and sat down again, worry and resignation written across his face and theirs.

Back on the bench, boots off, mission aborted, Aspas watched powerless as the fans clapped Morales and whistled everyone else. He watched team-mates argue over an irrelevant 88th-minute penalty to make it 1-3, the tiniest flicker of life immediately extinguished when Borja Mayoral scored Levante’s fourth seconds later. He listened to supporters call for the president to resign – which is exactly what Carlos Mouriño, pointedly ignoring the mayor up in the directors’ box, would do if he could find someone to pay him enough to buy the club. And he watched another defeat and more disillusion, the final whistle blown to emptying stands. While he watched, he occasionally reached down and rubbed his calf.

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» Thomas Hitzlsperger makes swift impact at struggling Stuttgart | Andy Brassell

Though there is no heavy-handedness about the new head of sport, he is already having an influence

There was, at last, a feeling of partial satisfaction and some optimism. A sixth defeat in seven games for lowly VfB Stuttgart is no reason for breaking out the party bunting but the manner, if not the result, felt like it might be a departure in the right direction.

To an extent, it’s an indication of just how bad it’s been around the place in recent months. On the final day of last season, as they gleefully threw cake, jelly, and whipped the tablecloths off at Bayern Munich’s title party with a 4-1 win, Stuttgart had positioned themselves at the gates of Europe. But then a late summer flounder became a full-blown autumnal panic, coach Tayfun Korkut was replaced by Markus Weinzierl, and the former Schalke boss had been unable to bring any sense of calm in nearly four months.

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» Pro Piacenza beaten 20-0 after naming team of just seven teenagers
• Club would have been thrown out of league for forfeiting match
• All seven were teenagers; Hicham Kanis scored six for Cuneo

Serie C’s bottom club Pro Piacenza have endured a tough season, resulting in point deductions and forfeiting matches, but their latest setback was almost beyond belief as they were able to field only seven players in a 20-0 defeat at mid-table Cuneo.

Related: Sergio Ramos sent off as Real Madrid’s resurgence is ended by Girona

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» Monaco may regret sacking the man who revitalised the club

Vadim Vasilyev made Monaco the model of a sustainable, profitable club. But he has paid for their disastrous season

By Adam White and Eric Devin for Get French Football News

Until recently, mistakes were rare at Monaco. In just five years, the Russian duo of billionaire owner Dmitry Rybolovlev and vice president Vadim Vasilyev led the club from the second tier to the Ligue 1 title. But the club collapsed this season and the owner has now acted, sacking Vasilyev. “Now it is time for change,” said Rybolovlev in a statement on Valentine’s Day. “I have made a personally very difficult decision to release Vadim Vasilyev from his post as vice president and CEO of the club.”

Initially appointed as an advisor in January 2013, Vasilyev was quickly promoted to CEO and vice president, becoming the club’s spokesperson and spearhead. His strategy centred on realism, revenue and hardball negotiating. He knew Monaco were working within certain restraints and that copying PSG’s model simply wasn’t sustainable. “You need more than money and ambition,” he explained. “You need to be in a big town, to have a population around you, play in a big league. There are several elements which just don’t exist [here].” With a population of just 40,000 and the smallest crowds in Ligue 1, Monaco would have to do things differently.

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» Is promotion and relegation any closer in US soccer?

America’s international teams go through ups and downs but the issue of promotion and relegation in domestic leagues refuses to die

A year after Carlos Cordeiro was elected US Soccer president in a free-for-all that threw everything in the sport up for debate, the federation convened for a much quieter annual meeting over the weekend. Hall of Fame player Cindy Cone was officially declared vice president, a foregone conclusion after she was the only candidate to secure a nomination.

In Cordeiro’s first year, the national teams and youth soccer have drawn plenty of attention. But the issue of promotion and relegation in America is still a matter of debate throughout the country’s soccer communities. Here’s how things stand at the moment.

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» FFA get the right coach for Matildas job, the wrong way | Richard Parkin

Amid the current febrile atmosphere, being an ‘outsider’ to the women’s game becomes a strength rather than a weakness

In recent times when an A-League club needed a new head coach two phone calls were placed. One was to Ange Postecoglou, the other was to FFA HQ. Who is the best coach out there? Who has shown promise coming through the national team ranks?

The logic behind poaching an Under-17s, Under-20s or Under-23s national team coach is clear – you’re getting a coach with access to the best resources, best facilities and best players in the country. In the microcosm that is Australian football, with few professional head coach roles going around, every time one pops up the same names emerge. Western Melbourne Group need a new coach? Ante Milicic. South West Sydney need a new coach? Ante Milicic. And the reason his name is always first on the list? Because he’s the best credentialed available coach in the Australian system.

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» Sergio Ramos sent off as Real Madrid’s resurgence is ended by Girona

Real Madrid’s resurgent La Liga run skidded to a halt as they fell to a shock 2-1 defeat at home to struggling Girona on Sunday in which Sergio Ramos was sent off in added time, leaving them nine points adrift of leaders Barcelona.

Real looked on course for a sixth consecutive league win when Casemiro leapt highest to meet a Toni Kroos cross and head them in front midway through the first half.

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» Refereeing of women’s football needs work. Here is the plan to tackle it | Suzanne Wrack
Full-time officials for Women’s Super League and a fast-track pathway for female referees are among the ideas

Consider these three incidents: the Chelsea midfielder Drew Spence cynically scything down Arsenal’s Kim Little, breaking one of Little’s legs, but picking up only a yellow card; David McNamara’s rock, paper, scissors debacle; and Phil Neville questioning two penalty shouts and a disallowed goal against Australia.

This season the standard of refereeing in the women’s game has been under the microscope. Except now, with a fully professional top division and more televised coverage than ever, there are a lot more eyes peering through that microscope.

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» Leroy Sané emerges from chaos to rewrite City’s knockout nightmare | Nick Ames

Manchester City’s comeback was sealed exuberantly enough to postpone some awkward Champions League questions

Perhaps, if Pep Guardiola learned anything from a chaotic night in Germany’s industrial heartland, it was that you cannot keep a good narrative down. Leroy Sané had been left on the bench for his return to the Veltins Arena and, aside from any tactical considerations, it did not seem an unreasonable decision given the imperative that Manchester City went about their business quietly and clinically. Then he set off a rocket and, given the quandary his team had landed themselves in by that point, cool logic could wait for another day.

Related: Raheem Sterling gives Manchester City crucial advantage over Schalke

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» Where is Gordon Taylor’s PFA review? No doubt he’s beavering away | Marina Hyde
The world’s highest-paid union official promised a review in November but it appears to be moving at a glacial pace

I don’t know the Latin for “look busy and it’ll die down” – but whatever it is, it could do with being carved above the lintel of the Professional Footballers’ Association’s office in Manchester.

This is the stronghold of the organisation’s chief executive Gordon Taylor, who has been in charge for just the 40 years so far. That is slightly shy of someone like Cameroonian dictator Paul Biya, who has notched up 43 years of tireless service to his subjects. But as far as comparisons with other bosses in the humanitarian sector are concerned, there’s really no one to remotely touch him in terms of longevity. Certainly not since Mother Teresa left us.

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» The Fiver | Sentencing Chelsea to a short period of mild inconvenience

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“The protection of minors,” Fifa wrote in a statement issued today regarding Chelsea’s apparently repeated and flagrant flaunting of regulations concerning the international transfer and registration of players under the age of 18, “is a key element in Fifa’s regulatory framework relating to the transfer of players and effective enforcement of these rules is paramount.”

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» Football transfer rumours: Marcus Rashford wanted by Barcelona?

Today’s fluff is broadly fine

Marcus Rashford is good at football! To the surprise of no one apart from José Mourinho, the Manchester United ace is capable of doing lots of goals and assists! All he needs is an arm round the shoulder, a few words of encouragement and a regular run of games up front! Then watch him fly. Watch him go. Watch him go all the way to Barcelona!

That’s right: Barcelona have decided to make the United forward their top summer target. With Luis Suárez showing signs of decline, the Spanish champions have identified Rashford as a replacement for the Uruguayan forward and are willing to pay top dollar to get him. They’ll have to be fast, though, because United are on the verge of handing the England international a new long-term deal.

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» The Fiver | It was nice to see Diego Simeone bucking that trend

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The punditry career of Robbie Savage. The reboot of Magnum PI. The Independent Group extemporising philosophically on roundtable debate shows. There’s enough unnecessary, inexplicable, depressing nonsense on television to be dealing with these days without getting worked up about VAR. So hats off to Pep Guardiola for shrugging his shoulders last night and declaring himself “a big fan” of the much-maligned, pernickety officiating system which has only tarnished three Big Cup knockout matches and one World Cup final so far. “I trust VAR!” he trilled with the magnanimity one can only afford when your team has dodged a bullet and it might be best to keep your powder dry so you can properly kick off when the video ref awards Real Madrid a preposterous last-minute penalty in the next round.

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» David Squires on … Tottenham's grand designs for their new stadium

Our cartoonist looks at Spurs and their protracted renovations to move back into their ground

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» What is the longest gap between two meetings of the same football teams? | The Knowledge

Plus: sent off after scoring a hat-trick, outscoring your age in a season and putting a corner flag to different use. Mail us or tweet @TheKnowledge_GU

“When Newport played Manchester City in the FA Cup, it was the first time that the fixture had been played for more than 56 years,” writes Mark Meadowcroft. “The last match, on 24 October 1962 (2-1 to City at Maine Road in the League Cup) was at the height of the Cuban Missile Crisis and the week after Love Me Do first charted. Is there a longer gap between two meetings of the same opponents?”

Yes there is, Mark. Our first suggestion comes from Simon Cook: “Arsenal played Brentford on 26 September 2018 in the League Cup, 71 years after their last meeting on 26 May 1947.”

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» The Dozen: the best FA Cup fifth round pictures

Images from around the grounds as teams vie for a place in the quarter-finals

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» Golden Goal: Steve McManaman for Liverpool v Celtic (1997)

The midfielder was the Merseyside club’s most consistent attacking threat for a decade and dazzled in Glasgow

If there is a phrase that sums up Steve McManaman’s time at Real Madrid, a four-year spell in which the Spanish club won La Liga and the Champions League twice apiece, it was perhaps the one delivered by an unlikely source. “El socio del todos” – “a partner to everyone on the pitch”– is how Johan Cruyff described the Merseyside-born Madridista, and he meant it neither sarcastically nor begrudgingly.

Cruyff’s assessment was instead genuine and warm-hearted, underlining the understated yet important role the midfielder played in Madrid’s success at the start of the millennium, linking defence to Galácticos attack. This was the era of Raúl, Luis Figo, Zinedine Zidane and the original Ronaldo, and McManaman’s role was to give them the ball as often as possible.

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» Sports quiz of the week: managers, money, metal medals and monikers

Who defied his age? Who scored quickly? Who made a packet?

Matt Kuchar earned $1.3m in prize money for his victory at the Mayakoba Golf Classic. How much did the golfer pay his caddie?





Why does Anthony Joshua’s next opponent, Jarrell Miller, go by the nickname “Big Baby”?

He takes a cuddly toy with him wherever he goes

He weighed 10 pounds at birth

His first opponent called him that before the opening bell – and was quickly knocked out

He lost a bet

Joshua is fighting Miller on 1 June. Which other sporting event is taking place that night?

The last game of the Six Nations

The Cricket World Cup final

The men’s singles final at Wimbledon

The Champions League final

Who scored a hat-trick in 30 minutes this week?

Sergio Agüero

Eden Hazard

Roberto Firmino

Jonny May

Paul Scholes made his managerial debut this week. Which footballer announced his retirement on the day Scholes made his playing debut way back in 1994?

Bryan Robson

Gary Lineker

Diego Maradona

Glenn Hoddle

Gordon Banks, who died this week aged 81, is most famous for winning the World Cup with England in 1966. In which country did he play his last game as a professional footballer in 1977?

Republic of Ireland




Declan Rice says he wants to play for the England football team. Why has his decision gone down badly with some Irish supporters?

He grew up in Northern Ireland and played for their Under-21 team

He was born in the Republic of Ireland

He has already played three matches for the Republic of Ireland

He was in the Republic of Ireland squad for Euro 2016 but didn't play

The organisers of next year’s Olympics in Tokyo say the medals will be made from…

Metals mined from below the stadium in Tokyo

Old phones and computers

Shipwrecks found off the Japanese coast

Metal found in the Acropolis in Athens

Where is the best team in the southern hemisphere meeting the best team in the northern hemisphere this weekend?





Matthijs de Ligt captained Ajax against Real Madrid this week in the Champions League. What is remarkable about that?

He only made his debut in August

He has already signed to play for Real Madrid next season

He is still a teenager

His brother captained the team in their previous match

1 and above.

Nine wrong answers in a multiple-choice format. Impressive

2 and above.

Eight wrong answers in a multiple-choice format. Impressive

3 and above.

Chin up. There's always next week

4 and above.

Chin up. There's always next week

5 and above.

That's a fine score. Well played

6 and above.

That's a fine score. Well played

7 and above.

That's a fine score. Well played.

8 and above.

That's a super score. Well played

9 and above.

You star. Have a great weekend

0 and above.

Ten wrong answers in a multiple-choice format. Impressive

10 and above.

You legend. Have a great weekend

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» Everything’s a little too cosy in football’s game of family fortunes | Daniel Taylor

Why do managers keep signing their sons and using them as agents? And just what persuaded Cardiff to give contracts to Willie McKay’s twins?

By now, I expect you might have seen that old video clip of the time Harry Redknapp was hosting a question-and‑answer session at West Ham and taking a bit of heat from someone in the audience who seemed to suspect they might have taken their reputation as a family club a little too far.

The irate fan didn’t seem to care when Redknapp said the 18‑year‑old sitting to his right was destined for the “very, very top”. That player was a young Frank Lampard. “Not good enough,” complained the punter. Why, he wanted to know, was Lampard getting a game? Why had the manager’s nephew been fast-tracked into the team when a better player by the name of Scott Canham had been let go for peanuts?

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» Ryan Giggs: ‘It didn’t work for United but Van Gaal was brilliant for me’

The Wales manager discusses the loneliness of his job, what Manchester United should do next and why he turned to a psychologist

“I think every manager feels that loneliness,” Ryan Giggs says as he identifies the usually unspoken difficulty at the core of his work. The manager of Wales since January 2018, Giggs has had nine games to get used to the isolation.

“I’m lucky to have great staff around me and, during the week, you’re constantly in meetings and on the training ground. But it’s that hour before the game, when the coaches take the lads out to warm up, that you feel it. You’re alone in the dressing room and you’ve done everything you can. That’s a lonely time. There’s nothing left to do. You’re on your own.”

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» PSG and Dortmund sing it with pride as home crowds wallow in age of rage | Barney Ronay

Noisy away ends at Old Trafford and Wembley offered something of a throwback to several decades ago when fans revelled in their own identity rather than disdain for others’

There was an exciting announcement this week about a new style of shoe “inspired by 1980s terrace culture”. The idea behind the new shoe, an Adidas press release explained, is to capture the sights and sounds of English football 30 years ago. And who knows, it could work out well. Perhaps the new Adidas Widespread Racism will go on to become a huge hit.

This is of course a joke. The new shoe isn’t called the Adidas Widespread Racism. That would be ridiculous. Not to mention an insult to the hard-working team of marketeers and product developers behind the Adidas Piss Stink and its companion shoe, the Adidas Dart In The Eye.

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» Sportswashing and the tangled web of Europe's biggest clubs

Governments wield power over many Champions League clubs and the ties that bind owners, sponsors and Uefa are striking

The game is about glory, a wise man once said. For many years it has been about money, too. Right now an updated version of Danny Blanchflower’s famous quote would point out something else: that the game is also about politics and placement, about soft power, about presenting a face to the world.

As the Champions League knockout stage kicks in, this element of Big Football is primed once again to take the main stage, the executive arm of a sport that has never looked so tangled.

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» Leicester City 1-4 Crystal Palace: Premier League – as it happened

Wilfried Zaha scored twice as Leicester capitulated in the second half at the King Power.

And that’s your lot. Paul Doyle was our man at the King Power. Here’s his verdict. Enjoy, and thanks for reading!

Related: Wilfried Zaha’s Palace double puts Leicester’s Claude Puel in trouble

Claude Puel talks. “We made a good performance in the first half, with good chances, good play. And then we conceded this goal, I think it was not a fair result at half time. It was difficult to find a solution because they played a deep block. But we tried a lot of good moves, without success. We came back in the game with the goal from Jonny, but after we conceded the second goal on the counter attack we did not manage the game. It was difficult to keep a structure. I think it was not a foul before their first goal. We were unlucky in this moment. Of course it is a worrying time. We have played a few games with quality, without getting the result, and now we are in difficulty. It will be tough, but we have to build confidence. It’s a young team. We need a positive attitude. It’s a difficult period in the season, but we must keep going.”

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» European roundup: Messi hits hat-trick for Barcelona; Bayern Munich win
• Argentinian scores three as Barcelona beat Sevilla 4-2
• Bayern go level on points with Borussia Dortmund

Lionel Messi scored his 50th career hat-trick to fire Barcelona to a 4-2 win at Sevilla after the champions had twice fallen behind, giving the Catalans a 10-point lead at the top of La Liga.

Sevilla, who have only won once in the league in 2019, took the lead midway through the first half through the winger Jesús Navas but were soon pegged back by an unstoppable volley from Messi. The home side capitalised on sleepy defending to retake the lead before half-time when Gabriel Mercado pounced in the area.

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» Newcastle 2-0 Huddersfield, Sevilla 2-4 Barcelona and more – as it happened

Miguel Almiron enjoyed a sparkling debut and Lionel Messi bagged the 50th hat-trick of his career

And that’s all from me. It’s been a blast – I hope you’ve enjoyed. Ta-ra!

Related: Bournemouth’s Josh King misses penalty to let Wolves off the hook

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» Manchester City beat Arsenal on penalties to win Continental Cup – as it happened

After a hard-fought 0-0 draw at Bramall Lane, City lifted the Continental Cup thanks to two superb saves from Karen Bardsley in the penalty shootout

That’s it for today’s blog. I’ll leave you with a match report from Bramall Lane. Thanks for your company and emails, bye!

Related: Manchester City beat Arsenal in penalty shootout to win Continental Cup

The inspirational Steph Houghton lifts the Continental Cup as Hey Jude blares out through the tannoy. Congratulations to them; commiserations to Arsenal, especially their superb keeper Sari van Veenendaal.

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» Burnley 2-1 Tottenham Hotspur: Premier League – as it happened

Harry Kane returned, but couldn’t stop Spurs from sliding to a defeat that puts a dent in their title challenge.

And that’s your lot. Paul Wilson was our man at Turf Moor. Here’s his take. Thanks for reading!

Related: Burnley’s Ashley Barnes hits Spurs’ title hopes with winner after Kane goal

And we haven’t forgotten about Sean Dyche! “The relentless nature, the will and determination, has come back to us. We’re asking more questions of the opposition. The number of times we put their back four under pressure! They’re a top side, we’re not making any bold claims. But the best thing of all was our calmness when it went 1-1. The first goal, if it’s a corner or not, is a tough one to call, a ricochet. My gripe about theirs is, not only does it go out this side of the halfway line, it then gets thrown in eight yards the other side, and also the fourth official grabbed the ball and gave it back to them, so he plays it quickly. And that leads to a goal. That’s the gripe. That’s really frustrating. A massive moment, and that went against us. Other than that, I though the officials had a good game.”

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» A-League: Melbourne Victory 1-1 Melbourne City – as it happened
  • City fail to capitalise after being a man and a goal up
  • Kosta Barbarouses cancels out Jamie Maclaren’s opener

Maclaren is right it’s a point gained, but it’s also two lost given the amount of time City had an extra man. They played some nice football in parts, but lacked the nous to break down a resolute Victory defence and a cutting edge to find the back of the net. When they did find a way past Thomas in goal, on two occasions, they were denied by the woodwork. It wasn’t to be their night. Warren Joyce may well be trying to shut out the noise over his job, but it will get even louder after this result. For Victory, you have to give them credit for fighting back after Neidermeier’s moment of madness, but a point surely isn’t enough for them to sustain a challenge for the premiers’ plate. Indeed, the big winners tonight are Perth Glory, who now seem a sure-fire bet to finish top.

That’s all from me. Let’s file that one away under “forgettable derbies”. Until next time.

Warren Joyce: “We’ve come here wanting to win the game. The only pressure on me is the pressure you put on yourself. [The sending off] disrupted our play and press. [Barbarouses’ goal] is not really a shot. I just think he’s hit it as hard as he can.”

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