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Football Team News

» Arsenal chief Edu 'to hold transfer talks' with Bruno Guimaraes' representatives
The Gunners have been linked with a move with the 22-year-old midfielder, who currently plays for Athlético Paranaense in Brazil
» Mikel Arteta backs Reiss Nelson to become "top player" for Arsenal
The 20-year-old is considered one of the club's most promising youngsters and has started in three of the Gunners' five games since Arteta took charge last month
» Liverpool win over Tottenham 'almost went ahead without VAR'
VAR played a prominent role once again as the Reds secured a 1-0 win over Jose Mourinho's side to extend their unbeaten start to the league campaign, with Roberto Firmino scoring the only goal of the game
» Bruno Fernandes on losing side in Sporting Lisbon 'farewell' as Man Utd transfer looms
Sporting Lisbon were beaten 2-0 by Benfica on Friday night with Bruno Fernandes tipped to leave the club for Manchester United
» Juan Mata warns Man Utd must ignore gulf to Liverpool in Anfield showdown
Manchester United make the trip to Anfield on Sunday and a defeat would see them fall 30 points behind fierce rivals Liverpool
» Jose Mourinho reignites Antonio Conte feud over Christian Eriksen transfer
Tottenham boss Jose Mourinho is angry with Inter Milan counterpart Antonio Conte for trying to unsettle Christian Eriksen
» Jurgen Klopp warns Liverpool he can't replicate Sir Alex Ferguson's Man Utd achievements
Liverpool are dominating in the Premier League this season, but boss Klopp doesn't believe the Reds will dominate for years to come in the same way Man United did under Ferguson
» Jurgen Klopp admits to using expletive when meeting Man Utd legend Sir Alex Ferguson
Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp has great admiration for legendary Man United boss Sir Alex Ferguson, and says it was "unbelievable" when meeting him for the first time
» David Moyes determined to justify choosing West Ham job over Everton return
David Moyes will come up against former club Everton on Saturday after holding talks over a return to Goodison Park
» Gary Neville piles the pressure on Harry Maguire as he's named new Man Utd captain
Harry Maguire was confirmed as Manchester United's new permanent captain following Ashley Young's transfer to Inter Milan, and took to Twitter to announce the news
» Paul Gascoigne blew £20million but turned life around with anti-alcohol pellets
EXCLUSIVE: England football legend Gazza insists he is finally at peace and is beating his demons after undergoing a stomach operation
» Arsenal sent positive Dayot Upamecano transfer message by RB Leipzig chief
Arsenal are keen on signing Dayot Upamecano this month as Mikel Arteta bids to strengthen his defence before the end of the window
» Sir Alex Ferguson 'held talks' with Man Utd transfer target Kalidou Koulibaly
Manchester United were in hot pursuit of Napoli centre-back Kalidou Koulibaly in the summer but opted to sign £89million Harry Maguire from Leicester City instead
» Harry Maguire confirms Ole Gunnar Solskjaer had plan for when Ashley Young left Man Utd
Harry Maguire has been officially confirmed as Manchester United's new permanent captain after Ashley Young completed a move to Inter Milan
» Inter Milan complete £1.28million transfer of Ashley Young from Man Utd
Inter Milan have confirmed the signing of Ashley Young from Manchester United, with the wing-back linking up with former Red Devils pair Romelu Lukaku and Alexis Sanchez in Italy
» Sergio Aguero pips Alan Shearer and Thierry Henry as best ever Premier League striker
Sergio Aguero has had an incredible career for Manchester City and keeps scoring goals under Pep Guardiola at the Etihad
» Mike Dean to be given pre-match presentation to mark 500th game as referee
Mike Dean will take charge of Arsenal's clash with Sheffield United on Saturday as he celebrates the milestone
» PSG 'set Layvin Kurzawa asking price' as Arsenal hold transfer talks
Arsenal are keen on signing Layvin Kurzawa this month despite the PSG left-back being a free agent at the end of the season
» Man Utd 'tested Aston Villa's Jack Grealish resolve' as he dropped transfer hint
Manchester United are keen to sign a new midfielder this January window, and have been linked with moves for Jack Grealish, Bruno Fernandes and Jude Bellingham
» Premier League managers write to FIFA asking to change handball rule
The current handball rule states an offence is made if there is any contact between hand and ball in an attacking phase of play
» Man Utd reasons for not signing Bruno Fernandes in the summer transfer window
Manchester United were strongly linked with a move for Portugal international Bruno Fernandes in the summer but eventually splashed the cash on Harry Maguire instead
» West Ham star Issa Diop "doesn't give a s***" about Chelsea and Man Utd transfer links
The centre-back has been linked with switches to both Stamford Bridge and Old Trafford, but he insists he's only thinking about West Ham
» Pep Guardiola responds to claim Man City stars 'partied with 15 Instagram models'
Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola admitted he knew his players organised a team bonding exercise following the win over Aston Villa, but says they were at a restaurant
» Jurgen Klopp admits Africa Cup of Nations reschedule is "a catastrophe for Liverpool"
The Reds boss was responding to the news that the 2021 tournament in Cameroon has been brought forward in January, affecting Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane and Naby Keita
From

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Other sport news:

» Will Klopp’s team become the GLOAT (Greatest Liverpool Of All Time)? | Jonathan Wilson
Since Shankly, via Paisley, Dalglish and Benítez, Liverpool have had several outstanding sides. But how do they measure up?

Statistically, this is likely to be Liverpool’s greatest league season, which for a club with 18 championships is no small achievement. The only season that could conceivably beat this one came last year, when they did not win the title – a reminder that statistics must always be considered in context. Greatness lies not only in numbers.

And in a world in which Juventus can dispense with their manager after five successive league titles, and Barcelona sack theirs after two straight titles while top of the table, in which 95+ points has come to seem standard for a Premier League champion, it’s as well to be aware that domination of a domestic league does not mean quite the same thing that it did in the past.

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» Handshakes, dark suits and money-glaze: welcome to the Mendes supremacy | Barney Ronay
The Portuguese super-agent is busy closing deals this month, but is he starting to wield too much influence in football?

When Jorge Mendes got married a few years back a story emerged that Cristiano Ronaldo had given football’s most potent agent a Greek island as a wedding present.

It is hard to know the real truth of this. But it seems fitting, given Mendes’s deep-state mystique, that the legend of Ronaldo island has been recycled admiringly ever since, gaining resonance, layers, compound interest. Either way it seems likely Mendes would have enjoyed his Greek island in the expected style: loaning it to Lazio for five years, setting up a complex series of loans for its outlying archipelago, then selling it on to Turkey for six times the original price. Cristiano. You know me so well.

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» Mourinho reignites Conte feud over Internazionale’s pursuit of Eriksen
• ‘Is it a question of respect?’ asks Tottenham’s manager
• Mourinho ‘surprised’ that Conte has spoken publicly

José Mourinho has reignited his feud with Antonio Conte by accusing him of meddling in Christian Eriksen’s proposed transfer from Tottenham to Internazionale. Spurs are ready to sell Eriksen to the Serie A club, with the midfielder having indicated he will not renew a contract that expires in June.

But Mourinho is frustrated at the stories that say Inter are confident of signing Eriksen and he believes that Conte is behind them. He suggested his managerial rival, with whom he clashed on numerous occasions when he was in charge at Manchester United and the Italian was at Chelsea, had broken a managerial code that relates to speaking publicly about a player from another club and he also suspects that Conte has briefed about Eriksen in private.

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» Dean Smith aiming to end Aston Villa’s tendency to ‘catastrophise’ | Paul Doyle

Aston Villa manager hopes experienced signings Danny Drinkwater and Pepe Reina can stiffen struggling team

Psychologists say one common symptom of anxiety is a tendency to catastrophise, meaning to expect the worst outcome in every situation. Dean Smith used the same word this week, not for the first time, when discussing the ailments Aston Villa must remedy if they are to clamber out of the Premier League’s relegation zone. Villa’s next three matches, starting with Brighton on Saturday, are against teams also fighting to avoid the drop. Smith’s men cannot afford to approach those games with a sense of impending doom.

Villa have played very well at times. But too often fear has appeared to render them timid and sloppy. “We can catastrophise goals too quickly,” said Smith in December, after the home defeat by Southampton. Last weekend they started promisingly against Manchester City but unravelled so badly after Riyad Mahrez scored in the 18th minute that they were 4-0 down by half-time, on course for a 6-1 defeat. Smith says his team must learn to remain confident no matter what.

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» Derby hit out at EFL and claim financial fair play charges are unlawful
• Club says Football League agreed to stadium sale arrangements
• Derby say EFL feels it made a mistake but should not take action

Derby County have strongly rejected the charges brought against the club by the English Football League relating to the £81m sale of Pride Park to their owner Mel Morris in June 2018, and accused the league of acting unlawfully in bringing the charges.

In a strong statement, Derby said the EFL agreed in advance that the sale and its valuation were acceptable, and approved all other aspects of Derby’s 2018 financial submission under the Championship’s “profitability and sustainability” rules.

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» Frank Lampard prepared to go without new Chelsea signings this month
• Manager wary of ‘kneejerk reaction’ to transfer ban being lifted
• Chelsea and West Ham sign up to IHRA’s antisemitism definition

Frank Lampard does not want to make kneejerk decisions in the transfer market and admitted that Chelsea may not sign anyone this month.

Chelsea are struggling to land their main targets during the January window and have gambled in this situation in the past, bringing in fading forwards like Radamel Falcao, Gonzalo Higuaín and Alexandre Pato on short-term deals. Yet Lampard, who is free to spend after the club’s transfer ban was lifted, does not want to buy for the sake of it.

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» Pep Guardiola: ‘We’re so far away, it’s not interesting to look at Liverpool’

• Manchester City manager focused on maintaining second place
• Central defender Laporte nearing fitness after knee injury

Pep Guardiola has admitted Manchester City are so far behind Liverpool he will not watch the league leaders play Manchester United on Sunday.

The champions have a gap of 14 points to Jürgen Klopp’s team, who also have a match in hand, and the Manchester City manager said his focus is on Saturday’s home game against Crystal Palace.

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» Nigel Pearson thought managerial career was over before Watford call

• Pearson: ‘I was semi-retired, more or less’
• Watford’s fortunes transformed by Pearson’s arrival

Nigel Pearson has admitted he thought his managerial career was on its last legs before he was asked to save Watford’s season and that the idea he would be facing José Mourinho and Tottenham on Saturday is something he could never have countenanced when he was out of work last year.

The turnaround in Pearson’s fortunes has been even more remarkable than that uptick he has overseen at Vicarage Road given that in February 2019 he was sacked as manager of the Belgian second-tier club OH Leuven. The following month he spent what was ostensibly a walking holiday in Gairloch, in the north-west of Scotland and reconciled himself to the idea his time in the dugout could be over.

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» Steve Bruce confident Newcastle can land ‘major’ signing after Ashley talks

• Manager hails ‘very, very decent’ transfer talks with Mike Ashley
• Bruce suggests any January signing may not be a forward

Steve Bruce has emerged from “very, very decent” transfer talks with Mike Ashley adamant that he will not be pushed into making a panic buy this month. Newcastle’s manager would rather take the risk of not signing a striker than waste money on a substandard recruit.

Newcastle are only five points above the relegation zone as they prepare for Saturday evening’s meeting with Chelsea at St James’ Park and the less than prolific Joelinton is their sole fit forward but Bruce – very much in the market for reinforcement in central midfield and on the wing – hinted his priorities could lie elsewhere. “We’re still quietly confident we can pull one major big one off,” said Newcastle’s manager before adding that the player in question is “not necessarily” a striker.

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» Mikel Arteta says Reiss Nelson no longer ‘confused’ and can shine at Arsenal

• Arsenal manager has faith in 20-year-old forward
• ‘Now I can see he really wants it’, says Arteta

Mikel Arteta has backed Reiss Nelson to become a world-class player with Arsenal, saying the young winger has overcome a “confused” period and is ready to play a pivotal role.

Nelson was 20 in December but, despite impressing for England’s Under-21s, his club career is yet to ignite. A loan spell in the Bundesliga with Hoffenheim last season brought seven goals and flashes of his considerable ability but also left question marks over his discipline. Arteta has charted his progress ever since overseeing some academy training sessions while his own playing days wound down and believes Nelson is ready to take a significant leap forward.

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» Transfer window January 2020 – every deal from Europe's top five leagues

All the latest deals and club-by-club guides for the top divisions in England, Spain, Italy, France and Germany.

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» Tosin Adarabioyo: ‘In five years I’d like to be Man City captain. It can happen’
Manchester City’s defender, on loan at Blackburn, discusses his future, how racism is getting worse and being spotted aged five

Tosin Adarabioyo may be on loan again from Manchester City but the 22-year-old remains focused on the boyhood dream. “In five years’ time I’d like to be captain of Man City and have won the Premier League and the Champions League. Definitely it can happen,” he says.

Here high ambition is married to a recognition of the hard yards required to reach the top. Sitting in plush seats at The Mere hotel in Cheshire, Adarabioyo can point to the decision to sign for a season at Blackburn Rovers after spending the previous campaign on loan at West Bromwich Albion.

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» Numbers game: Arsenal hope to see off Chelsea WSL challenge despite smaller squad
The Arsenal manager, Joe Montemurro, is down to 17 players before the crucial Women’s Super League game against Chelsea on Sunday

Arsenal are top of the WSL, yet still in need of reinforcements. Joe Montemurro’s side face third-placed Chelsea at a sold-out Meadow Park on Sunday in one of the most eagerly awaited games of the season and the manager knows that, long term, their squad is not big enough. This weekend, however, he will have to rely on the players already in the squad.

The Australia international forward Caitlin Foord is a player who has been “of interest for a while” and there are others too but so far this transfer window there have been only departures. Emma Mitchell has joined Tottenham on loan, Tabea Kemme has retired and forward Danielle Carter is a long-term absentee.

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» Premier League referees encouraged to use VAR monitors for red-card incidents
• Referees told to consult pitchside screens this weekend
• Jürgen Klopp welcomes greater use of monitors

After months standing idle at the side of Premier League pitches, VAR monitors look set to be called into action this weekend after referees were finally encouraged to use them.

The refereeing body the PGMOL this week spoke to Premier League referees and suggested they should in most circumstances consult their pitchside screens if VAR recommends a referee upgrade a yellow card to a red or change a sending-off to a booking.

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» Jürgen Klopp says Africa Cup of Nations move is a ‘catastrophe’ for Liverpool

• January switch may affect club’s transfer policy, says manager
• Klopp hopes Kane injury prompts FA action on fixture pile-up

Jürgen Klopp has labelled the switch of the 2021 African Cup Nations Cup from summer to January a “catastrophe” to continue his complaints against football’s global calendar.

Liverpool would lose three leading players in Sadio Mané, Mohamed Salah and Naby Këita for the African tournament, now set to run from 9 January to 6 February next year, having been previously scheduled for July.

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» Young's Manchester United captaincy goes to Maguire after Inter move
  • Young signs short-term contract with Serie A club
  • Ole Gunnar Solskjær named ‘leader’ Maguire new captain

Ashley Young has completed his move from Manchester United to Internazionale, with Harry Maguire replacing the 34-year-old as club captain at Old Trafford. Young’s €1.5m (£1.3m) deal with the Serie A club commits him to the club until June, with the option of a further season.

“Ashley Young is officially an Inter player,” Inter confirmed on their official website. “The 34-year-old English defender arrives from Manchester United and has signed a contract lasting until June 30 2020 with an option to extend for a further season.”

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» Arsenal look to sign PSG’s Layvin Kurzawa to ease full-back crisis
• Arsenal’s two left-backs are out injured
• Kurzawa, 27, out of contract in the summer

Arsenal are exploring the possibility of a deal for the Paris Saint-Germain left-back Layvin Kurzawa as Mikel Arteta looks to reinforce a defence ravaged by injury. Contact has been made between the clubs and, although a deal remains some way off, Kurzawa is the leading candidate to fill what has become a problem position.

The move could be completed before the January transfer deadline and would appeal for several reasons, one of which would be its low cost given the 27-year-old’s contract with the Ligue 1 champions expires in June.

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» Derby charged by EFL with breaching financial rules over sale of Pride Park
• EFL concludes club’s losses exceeded permitted amount
• Birmingham docked nine points for breaching rules

Derby have been charged by the English Football League with breaching the financial regulations of the Championship following a review of the controversial sale of Pride Park to the club’s owner, Mel Morris.

Breaches of the regulations can carry heavy penalties; last March Birmingham were docked nine points for exceeding the permitted levels of losses over the three-year period ending in 2017-18. Derby are 17th in the table, 10 points above the drop zone.

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» Crystal Palace keeper says she received sexist abuse from Coventry United fans
• Lucy Gillett says male fans abused her during Sunday’s game
• Coventry United and FA are both set to investigate incident

The Crystal Palace goalkeeper Lucy Gillett has said she was subjected to sexist abuse from male fans at Coventry United on Sunday.

The 25-year-old American has told BBC Sport that during the first half of Palace’s 3-2 Championship defeat a group of fans shouted the referee should “check the gender” of Palace players.

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» Watford v Tottenham: match preview

Watford are on an incredible run and huge credit must be given to Nigel Pearson and his squad for the potentially season-saving turnaround. José Mourinho needs to stop Troy Deeney from running rampant for Tottenham to stand a chance of not becoming their latest scalp. Mourinho’s forte is negative tactics but, without a goalscorer, a victory against any in-form side will be difficult. Hopes of Champions League football next season may begin to fade if Spurs’ fortunes continue to slide. They will be wary of potentially falling 12 points behind Chelsea. Graham Searles

Saturday 12.30pm BT Sport 1

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» Arsenal v Sheffield United: match preview

Arsenal’s woeful performance when these teams last met, in a 1-0 home win for Sheffield United on 21 October, was one of the showings that set Unai Emery’s demise in train. They have perked up since Mikel Arteta’s arrival but, in order to exact revenge on Chris Wilder’s side, will have to find a means of achieving something they have found exceptionally difficult over the past two years: winning a game without Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang. The captain is suspended and Arsenal’s other striker, Alexandre Lacazette, is suffering on a barren run. United’s David McGoldrick knows that feeling but Arsenal’s defence should offer chances to finally find the goal his performances so richly deserve. Nick Ames

Saturday 3pm

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» Brighton v Aston Villa: match preview

Aston Villa need to move on quickly from the 6-1 home thrashing by Manchester City and focus on how to get the better of their relegation rivals Brighton. Dean Smith’s side have a respectable 14 points from eight games against teams in the bottom seven so panic must not set in despite residing in the danger zone. A huge boost is Pepe Reina’s arrival between the sticks. His 285 appearances in the Premier League for Liverpool will provide guidance for the second-worst defence in the league – one goal shy of conceding two goals per game. Brighton will hope Reina’s advancing years render him a spent force at 37. Brighton would be well-advised to try to test him severely. Graham Searles

Saturday 3pm

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» Manchester City v Crystal Palace: match preview

Pep Guardiola is now talking of securing Champions League football as early as possible and, while Crystal Palace may be no walkover, victory would take Manchester City a minimum of 15 points clear of fifth place. This game is too early for Aymeric Laporte but the defensive lynchpin’s return is imminent to further brighten the mood at the Etihad. Jamie Jackson

Saturday 3pm

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» Norwich v Bournemouth: match preview

Teemu Pukki is available for the first time since New Year’s Day and how Norwich need their top scorer to step up. A defeat against fellow strugglers Bournemouth would leave them a minimum of seven points behind 19th. But can Eddie Howe rouse a performance from his injury-stricken side? Recent results suggest not. Bournemouth have four points from their past 11 matches, while Norwich have seven in the same sequence. It looks a possible warm-up for meetings in the Championship next season. Graham Searles

Saturday 3pm

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» Southampton v Wolves: match preview

After surging clear of the relegation battle, Southampton can afford to start looking up rather than down – and victory would put them level with Wolves and in the hunt for Europe. Ralph Hasenhüttl has no new injury concerns, while Diogo Jota is not quite ready to return for the visitors. Wolves could use extra firepower: they have scored twice in their five games since beating Manchester City, with Raúl Jiménez goalless since grabbing the equaliser in that memorable win. Niall McVeigh

Saturday 3pm

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» West Ham v Everton: match preview

It was hard to detect much enthusiasm from Evertonians when there was talk of bringing David Moyes back to Goodison Park. Everton ended up appointing Carlo Ancelotti and Moyes has since returned to West Ham, who are a point above the bottom three. West Ham, who are expected to start Darren Randolph in goal, have struggled at home of late. They need to perform against opponents who have won only twice on the road this season. Jacob Steinberg

Saturday 3pm

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» Newcastle v Chelsea: match preview

Appearances can be deceptive. Newcastle United might look safe in mid-table, with fans even having begun to chant Steve Bruce’s name but they are only five points above the relegation zone, on a poor run and their sole fit striker is the less than prolific £40m Brazilian Joelinton. With Chelsea anxious about qualifying for next season’s Champions League it could be a surprisingly tense evening on Tyneside where the drama seems set to be enriched appreciably by the expected return of Newcastle’s Allan Saint-Maximin following injury. Louise Taylor

Saturday 5.30pm Sky Sports Premier League

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» Premier League: 10 things to look out for this weekend

Two cerebral coaches meet at the Emirates, shaky Spurs head to Vicarage Road and can United really end Liverpool’s unbeaten season?

Gedson Fernandes started only three league games in 2019 – and was substituted at half-time in one of those – and though he is richly talented there is no guarantee he will enjoy more success at Spurs than his largely underwhelming compatriots Ricardo Rocha, Pedro Mendes (he of the disallowed goal from the halfway line at Old Trafford), Helder Postiga and José Dominguez, the entertaining if only occasionally effective winger who was a light in the darkness of the Gerry Francis-Christian Gross era. Fernandes’ fitness levels are unknown but there are easier debuts than against an in-form Watford side that have discovered their collective mettle. The former Tottenham midfielder Étienne Capoue is providing many of the qualities José Mourinho could use from the base of midfield. In their next four league games, Spurs play three of the current bottom four in Watford, Norwich and Aston Villa, an excellent opportunity to address the rocky form that has meant they won one and lost three of their last five league matches. But on current form, and with Harry Kane injured, there seems little to choose between these sides. SB

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» The goalkeepers’ union: why do they stick up for each other?

There are no union meetings, subs or walkouts, but goalies do share a sense of solidarity

By Will Magee for When Saturday Comes

James Shea tells a story that captures the fraternal spirit among goalkeepers. Back when he was a novice at Arsenal – before his meandering path from the wilds of non-league took him to his current club, Luton Town – new gloves felt like a luxury and, on an academy keeper’s salary, were still a significant expense. Shea asked Lukasz Fabianski if he could borrow a pair for training. A few days later, Fabianski turned up with a big box full of gloves with Shea’s name emblazoned on them.

It was far from a one-off act of kindness. There are many goalkeepers with similar stories. Football is so often a dog-eat-dog environment but many keepers testify to a different moral code. There is even a term for this tendency towards mutual support: the goalkeepers’ union. There are no subs, no union meetings and no walkouts, but many will bear witness to the sense of solidarity between the sticks.

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» ‘I felt tears in my eyes’ – how tiny Réunion team stunned French football | Paul Doyle
JS Saint-Pierroise, the amateur side from the Indian Ocean island, are the first club from a French overseas territory to reach the last 32 of the Coupe de France in 31 years

Until a couple of weeks ago JS Saint-Pierroise were best known, paradoxically, as a byword for footballing obscurity. They are the remote club from which a 38‑year‑old Roger Milla was summoned out of semi-retirement to take the 1990 World Cup by storm.

Since then several other dwindling strikers have followed in the Cameroonian’s footsteps but without the sensational late-career twist. Jean-Pierre Papin and Djibril Cissé decided a sojourn with the leading club on Réunion, an island in the Indian Ocean nearly 1,000km east of Madagascar, was a darling way to wind down their playing days.

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» Futsal: the thinking player's game that doesn't hurt the head

With a smaller, heavier ball, the game is played on the ground, which means less worry about head injuries

Gone are the days when primary-school children were condemned to wincing, eyes shut tightly in fear, as a heavy leather football smashed against their heads. But despite advances in technology making the balls lighter there is clearly more to be done to safeguard children. In Futsal, a Fifa-sanctioned version of five-a-side football, players use their heads more, even though the ball rarely touches it. Futsal is the thinking player’s game.

Related: Can heading a football lead to dementia? The evidence is growing

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» How Charlton fans united and ousted the club's unfit owner

After five years of turmoil, supporters at The Valley are now looking to the future with relief, apprehension and excitement

A film by Tom Brandhorst for Copa90

In January 2014, an unknown Belgian businessman called Roland Duchâtelet bought Charlton Athletic for £14m. With the club sitting 19th in the Championship, there was excitement among Charlton fans that, in the modern age of billionaire foreign owners, they might just be on the cusp of something great. But it wasn’t to be. Within two years, hundreds of Charlton fans were marching towards the Valley in a faux funeral procession, trailing behind a coffin that symbolised the death of the football club at the hands of its reckless owner.

To many Charlton supporters, Duchâtelet’s “regime” offers the perfect example of how not to run a football club: belligerently pursuing an unrealistic vision without any consideration for the fans until the club has been driven to ruin, both on and off the pitch.

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» Ismaïla Sarr aims to follow path of his Senegal ‘big brother’ Sadio Mané | Ed Aarons
Watford’s £30m record signing, who was nurtured at the same Dakar academy as the Liverpool forward, has become an integral part of the Hornets’ revival

The Watford bus was just about to leave Anfield but Sadio Mané had a message for Troy Deeney. “Take care of my boy,” the Liverpool forward urged. “He’s a shy boy, shy boy.” Standing awkwardly in the background with his hands in his pockets and peering down at the floor, Ismaïla Sarr looked exactly that. “He just needs to speak English, he’s working on it,” came the reply from Deeney. “He’s a good boy.”

Related: Watford sign Ismaïla Sarr from Rennes for club-record £30m

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» 'A catastrophe': Klopp laments decision to move Afcon back to January – video

Liverpool manager Jürgen Klopp believes the decision to move the Africa Cup of Nations back to its traditional January slot is a 'catastrophe' for his team. The tournament was scheduled to be hosted by Cameroon in the summer of 2021, which clashed with the expanded Club World Cup, but has been switched because of concerns over the climate in the country in July. It is due to be held from 9 January to 6 February.

That is likely to mean Klopp will be without Senegal’s Sadio Mané, Egypt’s Mohamed Salah and Guinea’s Naby Keïta for some or all of the six-week period that includes preparations.

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» 'We've got players coming through': Solskjær explains Ashley Young's United exit – video

Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjær said the club wasn't ready to offer captain Ashely Young a two-year contract, explaining why the time was right for the former England international to leave. Solksjær said Young had been a 'good servant for the club', as he turns 35 this summer and moves on to Inter, where he's signed an 18-month contract. 

Young is the third United player to join Inter in the past six months, with Romelu Lukaku and Alexis Sánchez also teaming up with Conte in Milan. The Manchester United manager then confirmed Harry Maguire as the club's new full-time captain, six months after his £80m move from Leicester, saying he'd been impressed by his strong leadership skills. 

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» 'Confidence has been a struggle': Harry Winks on Spurs' season so far – video

Harry Winks has admitted that confidence and consistency at Tottenham ‘has been a struggle’ this year after his side progressed into the next round of the FA Cup. Two goals from Giovanni Lo Celso and Erik Lamela earned Tottenham a 2-1 victory over Championship side Middlesbrough. ‘It feels like we get a run of a few good results, a few wins, and all of a sudden we have a run of poor results,’ said the midfielder.

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» Notts County's Michael Doyle scores stoppage-time winner from halfway – video

There was a stunning injury-time winner in Notts County's FA Trophy tie with Dagenham and Redbridge, as 38-year-old Michael Doyle's strike secured a 2-1 victory. After a poor clearance from Daggers goalkeeper Elliot Justham, the midfielder took a touch before striking the ball from just inside the halfway line into the net. 'In your life, in your career, Michael Doyle, you're 38 years old, have you ever scored a goal like that?' said the commentators. Well, he has, but this was still a beauty.

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» 'It was the only thing left I could do': Valverde apologises for cynical foul on Morata – video

Real Madrid midfielder Federico Valverde has apologised after his red-card challenge on Álvaro Morata in the Spanish Supercopa. Deep into extra-time, with the game tied at 0-0, the forward was running through on goal before he was cynically brought down by the Uruguayan. 'That was the only thing left for me to do, I tried other things but it didn't work out, he is a very fast player,' admitted the 21-year-old. Real Madrid went on to win 4-1 on penalties

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» Liverpool are 'probably the best team in the world', says Spurs' Mourinho – video

José Mourinho has said he is proud of his Tottenham players despite their 1-0 defeat to league leaders Liverpool. ‘We are talking about the best team in the world at the maximum of its potential,’ he said. ‘And in spite of that I think we deserved more than what we got’

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» David Squires on ... Melbourne Victory's coaching hot seat

Our cartoonist looks Marco Kurz’s dismissal and who may replace him in the long term

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» How Barcelona made a right mess of sacking Ernesto Valverde | Sid Lowe

The Barcelona head coach was eventually sacked late on Monday night after a day of waiting

Barcelona’s ex-manager took training on Monday morning, if only because he was not the ex-manager just yet. Besides, someone somewhere had to act with a little dignity. And what if it didn’t happen? He was certainly not about to make the decision for them, so Ernesto Valverde drove into San Joan Despí not long after 8am. At 11 he was out on the training pitch as normal, players gathered in a circle around him, which was one way to say: “Goodbye … probably.” By the time he drove out again he knew it was likely to be for the last time. But not because they had actually told him.

On Thursday night Valverde’s team had collapsed again. While they played better than they had so far this season, he got booed every time he appeared on the big screen. They were 2-1 up with nine minutes remaining against Atlético Madrid in the Spanish Super Cup in Jeddah – Barcelona lost 3-2. Echoes of Rome and Anfield, that recurring nightmare. Three times was too many. Two already had been but to almost everyone’s surprise the club did not act in the summer, instead keeping their coach. They did act now, just not particularly well. “A bit ugly,” was Andrés Iniesta’s verdict. “Unpleasant,” he called it.

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» Juventus evolution goes beyond Sarri's attire as they reach summit | Nicky Bandini

New clothes, ‘same dickhead’: for the third time in his career, Maurizio Sarri has his team in pole position at the halfway point

Maurizio Sarri had to update his wardrobe after taking over as manager of Juventus. A man who has always felt most comfortable in a tracksuit showed up for his first day of work in Turin sporting a shirt and tie. He soon confessed that his contract obliged him to wear such a uniform when representing the club away from the football pitch. For matches, a compromise was reached. Sarri’s sideline attire at Juventus has typically featured suit trousers and a zip-neck sweater.

Related: Barcelona in managerial limbo after Xavi Hernández turns down role

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» Monaco show PSG the folly of their Fantastic Four frontline

PSG started Mauro Icardi, Kylian Mbappé, Ángel Di María and Neymar against Monaco ... and conceded three goals

By Adam White and Eric Devin for Get French Football News

Ligue 1 finally had a showpiece occasion to be proud of on Sunday evening. The Olympico in November between Lyon and Marseille was fitfully entertaining, but the other big fixtures this season have been disappointing. The Classique was terribly one-sided, with PSG thrashing Marseille 4-0; Lyon’s 1-0 loss to PSG was a dour affair; and their derby defeat to St Étienne was no better. For all that Ligue 1 promised this season, the biggest occasions had too often been damp squibs. That was, until Monaco – playing their first league match under new manager Robert Moreno – rocked up at the Parc des Princes on Sunday night and drew 3-3 with PSG.

Having shifted away from Leonardo Jardim’s 3-5-2 formation, the former Spain boss lined his team up in what was either 4-3-3 or a 4-2-3-1, depending on whether one viewed Aleksandr Golovin as a No 10 or an advanced central midfielder. The change of formation allowed Monaco to play more on the front foot and use the pace of Keita Baldé and Gelson Martins on the flanks. The Portuguese winger was also liberated from the onerous task of tracking back, something that had undermined his performances as a wing-back.

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» Melbourne Victory's decision to sack Kurz a mystery as much as it was obvious | Emma Kemp

The German coach was not afforded a full A-League season to adjust to the rigours of a big-budget club but poor results told their own tale

There was a moment on the touchline during Marco Kurz’s Adelaide United tenure when the notoriously flammable coach furnished one poor fourth official with what he must have perceived as the ultimate insult. “You’re only a fourth official ... in Australia,” the German bellowed.

As of Wednesday, assistant referees across the land were breathing easier after Kurz was relieved of his duties by Melbourne Victory just 13 matches into his two-year deal. That particular official was merely one in a long line to be on the receiving end of the relentless pitchside wrath of Kurz, a genuine gentleman in just about every setting except during one 90-minute spell each week.

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» Jets' secondment of W-League coach for men's team should not escape scrutiny | Ella Reilly

The postponement of Newcastle’s game last week may have been serendipitous but the optics of the decision were never good

It was with a touch of serendipity that Newcastle Jets’ W-League game against Adelaide United, scheduled as part of a double header last Friday, was postponed due to air quality and temperature concerns; coach Craig Deans – who has taken the reins of the club’s A-League team following the dismissal of Ernie Merrick – would not have been at the helm of the women’s team had the match been given the green light.

Theoretically he could be back in charge of his side for the rescheduled match on 1 February which, by the form books at least, the Jets should expect to get something out of. But the fact the W-League team have not played since Deans was made interim coach of the men’s team has meant the decision’s true impact has been somewhat obscured and the optics of it have largely escaped scrutiny.

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» History repeats itself for Balotelli and Inter at the start of 2020 in Serie A | Nicky Bandini

Balotelli scoring, Inter leading and racist abuse gave the new decade in Serie A an eerily familiar feel to the start of the 2010s

For Italian football, the decade began with a little bit of history repeating. It was Mario Balotelli who scored the first Serie A goal of the 2010s, and on Sunday he delivered the opening strike of the 2020s as well: spinning away from his marker in the 18th minute of Brescia’s game at home to Lazio, before dispatching Stefano Sabelli’s long pass with a first-time finish off his left boot.

Why always him? In truth, the slogan no longer feels apt. Balotelli has dazzled us only intermittently, the highs of a Premier League win and European Championship final in 2012 obscured by too many nondescript seasons since.

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» New year, new Espanyol? Barcelona draw offers hope at last | Sid Lowe

Abelardo’s side sense a ‘turning point’ in their season. It needs to be: no team has survived on fewer than 12 points at halfway

“Maybe I’m a masochist,” Abelardo Fernández had said and maybe that explains everything: it explains why they called and why he came; it might even explain why this could just work. That, at least, is the hope and at least there is hope now. The noise had just about died down, supporters heading home happy, when Espanyol’s new coach appeared, their third in half a season. It was almost midnight, cold outside, and his throat was raw but he was smiling. “You have a bad time of it, you suffer, but you enjoy it,” he admitted, “and I tell them to enjoy it too.” This time, they had. Espanyol are still the worst team in Spain, and by some way, but it’s a new year, a new them.

Before Saturday’s Catalan derby an I Will Survive remix boomed round Cornellà; by the end, some had started to believe they actually might. As the whistle went on a 2-2 draw, another song went round: “Yes, we can!” they chanted. Unable to beat Barcelona in the league in the 2010s, Espanyol had been unable to beat them at the start of 2020 too, but this wasn’t the same. Sometimes a draw feels like a victory. When they’re top and you’re bottom, when you’ve barely even drawn at home all season let alone actually won a game, you’ve blown a lead and you’re losing with two minutes left, is one of those times. When you’re desperate, searching for something, anything, to hold on to definitely is.

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» US Soccer wants coaches. It's a shame the feeling isn't mutual

Raphael Wicky is the latest coach to defect from a job at US Soccer to MLS. It’s a worrying trend as the federation attempts to rebuild itself

Earnie Stewart already had a busy 2020 in store when news broke at the end of December that Raphael Wicky had been hired as the Chicago Fire’s new head coach. Wicky had only been the United States’ Under-17 men’s national team boss since March but the Swiss still decided to jump ship, leaving Stewart with yet another position at US Soccer to fill heading into the new year.

In fact Stewart, US Soccer’s sporting director, has no fewer than five head coach positions to fill. The United States’ men’s soccer programme currently has vacancies at U-20, U-19, U-18, U-17 and U-16 level with Gregg Berhalter and Jason Kreis the only two head coaches on the books at this moment. The landscape is much the same on the women’s side, with five head coach positions also to be filled in the youth ranks.

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» Next Generation 2019: 60 of the best young talents in world football

Eidur Gudjohnsen’s son, the new Paul Pogba and Barça’s Ansu Fati are among our 60 most talented players in the world born in 2002. Check the progress of our 2018 picks | 2017 | 2016 | 2015 | 2014

Photographs by DZfoot, BackpagePix, Club Atlético Belgrano, EFE, EPA, Getty Images, Uwe Gruen/Hoffenheim, AMA/Getty Images, Rex/Shutterstock, Zuma Press/PA, FIFA, Tigres, Damir Krajac/CROPIX, Alamy, Daniel Reyes/Ecuafutbol, Reuters, Atromitos, Imago/PA, fotoBERNAMA, New Straits Times, José Alonso Paredes Sánchez, Agencja Gazeta, David Price/Arsenal FC/Getty, AP, Asian Football Confederation, Danubio FC and Championat Asia

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» Next Generation 2019: 20 of the best talents at Premier League clubs

The Guardian selects the best young players at each club born between 1 September 2002 and 31 August 2003, an age band known as first-year scholars. Check the progress of class of 2018 | 2017 | 2016 | 2015 | 2014

Photographs by David Price/Arsenal/Getty Images, Neville Williams/Aston Villa/Getty Images, AFC Bournemouth, Paul Hazlewood/BHAFC, Paul Dennis/TGS/Shutterstock, Clive Howes/Chelsea/Getty Images, Danny Loo/PPAUK, Emma Simpson/Everton/Getty Images, Nick Taylor/Liverpool/Getty Images, Manchester City/Getty Images, Ash Donelon/Manchester United/Getty Images, Jason Dawson/Jasonpix, James Wilson/Sportimage, Simon Bellis/Sportimage, Robin Jones/Digital South/Southampton FC, Tottenham Hotspur/Getty Images, Alan Cozzi/Watford, Arfa Griffiths/West Ham United and Sam Bagnall/AMA

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» Next Generation: after five years, how has our first full class of picks fared?

From Rashford to Tielemans, we check in on how our initial Next Generation players have got on before the 2019 ones are announced this week

In 2014 we decided that it would be interesting to pick the best young players from each Premier League club – as well as 40 from around the world – and follow them for five years to see how they progressed.

The idea was to try to get a sense of how difficult it is to become a professional footballer despite being one of the best in that country at the age of 16 or 17.

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» Harley Willard: ‘Iceland’s a good place just to concentrate on your football’

The winger, who was part of the Guardian’s first Next Generation in 2014, talks about rebuilding his career after being released by Southampton

Harley Willard made one of those sliding-doors decisions that can turn anyone’s life around last December. He had arrived at Heathrow airport, packed and ready for the 14-hour slog back to Phnom Penh, and at that point another season at the Cambodian club Svay Rieng felt like a trade-off he could just about stomach. The football there offered few real prospects but he had enjoyed the lifestyle and, after such an uncertain year and a half since leaving Southampton, surely his happiness was the most important thing.

Related: Next Generation: after five years, how has our first full class of picks fared?

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» The story of professional fouls: from Willie Young to Federico Valverde

The red card shown to Valverde in the Spanish Supercopa can be traced back to a foul in the FA Cup final 40 years ago

By Steven Pye for That 1980s Sports Blog

When Atlético Madrid striker Álvaro Morata raced through on goal with a few minutes to play in the Spanish Supercopa final, the Real Madrid midfielder Federico Valverde knew what he had to do. Football constantly changes, but there is always room for classic shithousery. “It was something that I should not have done,” said Valverde. “I apologised to Morata, but it was the only thing I could do because he’s a very fast player.”

Valverde’s tackle may not have been in the spirit of fair play, but it worked out well for his team. He was sent off immediately but, by taking out Morata, he helped his teammates stay in the game and play for penalties. Real Madrid went on to win the shootout and Atlético were left wondering what might have been. Not that their manager blamed Valverde. “I told him that he did what he had to do at that moment,” said Diego Simeone after the game.

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» Camp Moo: Quique Setién goes from cows to Barcelona job in 24 hours
New Barça manager, who admits to having no CV or winners’ medals, on how he has always embraced the club’s philosophy

There are 3,537 people in Liencres, 9km west of Santander, or there were. Today there is one fewer. There are also a lot of cows. “Yesterday I was walking past cows in my home town; today I was at Barcelona’s training ground coaching the best players in the world, an enormous club,” Quique Setién said at his unveiling as the new manager at the Camp Nou in place of Ernesto Valverde. “I’m an emotional manand this is a special day,” he added, and it showed. There was humility, gratitude and at times even the sense that he was overwhelmed, still trying to digest the fact that this had actually happened.

Related: Barcelona appoint Quique Setién as head coach to replace Ernesto Valverde

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» Call the super-agent! How Arda Turan might try to get his career on track | Jonathan Liew

Arda Turan’s two-year loan at Istanbul Basaksehir has been cut short but he has no intention of returning to Barcelona. You can only imagine the conversation he might have with his agent …

At first Mino Raiola was surprised by the sound of his phone ringing. The fact that it was 1am was not the surprising part: as a football agent constantly on the move he had long since grown used to being called at all sorts of strange hours. Usually it would be one of his players with some practical issue: a leaky tap, no internet, a mysterious buzzing noise that would invariably turn out to be the fridge.

Some players wanted to talk business. A few – often players living abroad for the first time – just wanted to talk. One night, very late, Raiola answered his phone to Mario Balotelli, who in a meek voice explained that he was alone in his new house and desperate for company. So Raiola went round and together they sat on his sofa in silence, watching Michael Portillo’s Great Railway Journeys on BBC Four until Mario dozed off.

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» Football transfer rumours: Cavani to Manchester United or Spurs?

Today’s piffle is older than you think

While the world has been spinning Edinson Cavani has been quietly getting old in Paris. The once-galloping Uruguayan striker will be 33 in February! How did that happen? Cavani has been struggling with injury this season. Not that Manchester United seem to care. They would love to increase the average age of their squad by bringing the PSG forward to Old Trafford, particularly now that Ashley Young has downed tools to force a move to Inter. But there’s a snag. The brass-necked Parisians value Cavani – whose contract expires in the summer – at £30m! That’s a lot of a lolly. Spurs are interested too now that Harry Kane looks set for an extended spell in the treatment room.

One player who could pop up at Old Trafford this January is Bruno Fernandes, who seems to have been linked with a move to Manchester United from Sporting since the pre-internet days. It says here that he’ll be in the stands at Anfield on Sunday to watch his potential new team take on Liverpool. They might want to force him to put pen to paper on his £50m move before that one kicks off.

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» The Fiver | A square peg who has filled a dizzying array of Manchester United holes

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After the best part of a decade at Manchester United, it’s arrivederci to Ashley Young, who has departed for pastures new. Specifically, the verdant grass rectangle at San Siro, where he will line up for Internazionale. Young leaves Old Trafford with winners’ medals from the Premier League, Big Vase, FA Cup and Milk Cup a jingle-jangling in his pockets, a tidy haul considering he was signed towards the tail-end of the Lord Ferg era. Small wonder, then, that misty-eyed tribute has been paid on social media disgraces, with assorted United fans fondly recalling that time he slipped comically during a warm-up, that time he forgot how to take a throw-in against Tottenham and that time a bird flying high over Old Trafford did its business into his mouth.

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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

17 Jamie Vardy (Leicester)

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» Which footballers have suffered injuries playing other sports? | The Knowledge

Plus: top-flight careers over four decades, more big non-league gates and Garth Crooks presenting a politics show on BBC2

“After seeing Rory Burns miss an England cricket match because of an injury caused playing football, which footballers have missed matches playing other sports?” tweets Mattskating.

“Rangers’ Marco Negri suffered a serious eye injury playing squash with Sergio Porrini,” tweets Jono Bolton. “Before that, he’d scored 33 goals in 26 games.” Ah yes, February 1998 in Glasgow, with Rangers battling for a 10th consecutive league title. Negri takes up the story: “He was the wrong choice of playmate for squash because it should not have been a game in which winning became everything and yet with Sergio that was impossible … At a speed that felt like 100mph that sphere of hard, hot rubber cannoned off the concrete and straight into the centre of my eye.”

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

Bournemouth need to find goals fast, Aubameyang’s red card has caused a headache at Arsenal and Ings is in England form

Bournemouth’s defending left a lot to be desired as they crumbled against Watford but their failure to penetrate Nigel Pearson’s improving side was equally alarming. No team has scored fewer goals in the Premier League this season and those front–foot displays of yesteryear – they scored almost 100 goals en route to promotion in 2015 and more than any team outside the top six last season – feel a distant memory following a ninth defeat in 11 league matches. “Historically we have always been free-scoring and we have always had goals in us,” their manager, Eddie Howe, said. “We have always had the ability – even if we have conceded first – to come back and win games. That is probably where the feeling has gone missing, the creativity and that feeling we are going to score. We have to do better in that respect.” Ben Fisher

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

Hero tatts and upside down play in this week’s roundup of the best top-flight pictures

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» Football quiz: career paths of the past decade – can you guess the player?

These well-travelled footballers have been around the block more than once in the past 10 years - see if you can name them

Portsmouth > Burnley (loan) > Leicester City > Middlesbrough > Derby County > Preston North End.

Jimmy Bullard

David Nugent

Dean Windass

Kevin Phillips

Barcelona > Roma > Milan (loan) > Barcelona > Ajax (loan) > Stoke City > Mainz 05 (loan) > Alavés (loan) > Montreal Impact.

Tuncay Sanli

Jordi Alba

Bojan Krkic

Stefano Okaka

Tottenham Hotspur > Toronto FC > Tottenham (loan) > Sunderland > Bournemouth > Rangers (loan).

Peter Crouch

Luka Modric

Rafael van der Vaart

Jermain Defoe

Blackburn > QPR > Doncaster Rovers > Market Drayton > Carlisle > Arles-Avignon > Washington > Ashton Town.

Morten Gamst Pedersen

Chris Samba

Pascal Chimbonda

Steven Nzonzi

Liverpool > Galatasaray (loan) > Sporting CP > Atlético Madrid > Rayo Vallecano (loan) > Stuttgart.

Jay Spearing

Fabio Aurelio

Daniel Ayala

Emiliano Insua

Portsmouth > Milan > Schalke 04 > Milan > Las Palmas > Eintracht Frankfurt > Sassuolo > Barcelona (loan) > Fiorentina.

Kevin-Prince Boateng

Niko Kranjcar

John Utaka

Nwankwo Kanu

Chelsea > QPR (loan) > Wolves (loan) > Hamburg > Nottingham Forest > New England Revolution.

Adel Taraabt

Michael Mancienne

Paulinho

José Bosingwa

Arsenal > Barcelona > Roma (loan) > Vissel Kobe.

Vito Mannone

Thomas Vermaelen

Alexander Hleb

Marouane Chamakh

Birmingham City > Stoke City > Crystal Palace (loan) > Norwich City > Derby County > Goztepe.

Jordon Mutch

Gary McSheffrey

Cameron Jerome

Marcus Bent

Fenerbahce > Toulouse (loan) > Galatasaray > Olympiacos (loan) > Blackburn Rovers (loan) > Bursaspor > Feyenoord (loan) > Feyenoord > Celtic > Coritiba > Corinthians > Lobos BUAP (loan) > Veracruz.

Tugay

Colin Kazim-Richards

Amine Linganzi

Jamie O'Hara

10 and above.

You're the best! Lionel Messi-level quizzing. Congratulations!

9 and above.

Very, very good. If this quiz was a stadium, there would be a statue of you outside.

8 and above.

Congratulations on an exceptional performance. You've earned yourself a testimonial at the very least.

7 and above.

Well done! You missed out on the title but you're in the Champions League, at worst.

6 and above.

A very respectable effort. You are the James Milner of quizzes.

5 and above.

Not bad, not great. A mid-table season in the Championship.

4 and above.

Definite room for improvement. The board have issued a public vote of confidence.

3 and above.

Disappointing. Knocked out in the qualifying rounds.

2 and above.

Two better than zero, you are still destined to end up on loan at Trabzonspor.

0 and above.

Your career never even began. But you probably still lie about having a trial with Stoke City.

1 and above.

A one-hit wonder. You are being sent on loan to a non-league club in Siberia.

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» The Joy of Six: football and the outside of the boot | Rob Smyth

From Brazilian screamers to an extravagant shank via Peruvian insouciance, we celebrate one of football’s most difficult skills

NB: The point of the Joy of Six is not to rank things, only to enjoy them

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» Peter Shilton: ‘Maradona’s the greatest player in history but I don’t respect him’
England’s most capped player has never forgiven Diego Maradona for his failure to apologise for the 1986 Hand of God goal

Fifty years since his England debut, and 30 years since his final appearance as one of the great World Cup goalkeepers at Italia 90, Peter Shilton is in a reflective mood. Having played more times for England than anyone, Shilton retains an even more impressive world record for the most appearances made by an individual in professional football. From 1966 to 1997 he played 1,390 professional games – with his closest rivals being Brazil’s Rogério Ceni, who played in goal 1,234 times, and the midfield maestro Xavi who made 1,135 appearances – mostly for Barcelona and Spain.

Related: Peter Shilton | Small Talk

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» Gareth Southgate sweating over injured captain he cannot replace | Ed Aarons

The England manager will be hoping fervently that Harry Kane is fit for Euro 2020 given the lack of like-for-like alternatives

It’s a scenario that must be causing even the usually unflappable Gareth Southgate sleepless nights. José Mourinho’s revelation that Harry Kane may not be back until “next season” after rupturing a tendon in his left hamstring in the defeat to Southampton on New Year’s Day will have set alarm bells ringing for the England manager a little more than 150 days before their opening match of Euro 2020 against Croatia on 14 June.

The Tottenham head coach’s admission that he is in the dark about the prospective date of Kane’s return could eventually prove to be a red herring designed to prompt chairman Daniel Levy into action during the January transfer window. Yet such has been the influence of his captain during the evolution of this youthful England side that Southgate will be hoping Mourinho’s throwaway line at the end of his press conference to preview Tuesday’s FA Cup replay against Middlesbrough was just that.

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» ‘The men were screaming. They made me feel I should not be a referee’

Sanaa Darawsha overcame adversity and abuse to become Israel’s top female Arab official. Now she wants to help other women in the country achieve their dreams

Sanaa Darawsha is recalling the most violent experience of her life, the moment in 2013 when she had to break up a fight involving three footballers and, in the process, took a stray elbow flush in the mouth. “It broke my teeth,” she says. “I had them fixed … but I want to fix them more.”

Darawsha taps the teeth in question and laughs for the first time on a bitterly cold afternoon at De Montfort University in Leicester. It is as if she is finally able to relax, having spoken for an hour about everything she has been through. It is serious stuff and, as such, no surprise that up to that point she too has been serious in tone and manner.

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