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Football Team News

» Liverpool must now overcome 91-year record to retain Premier League title
The Reds did just enough to get the job done against West Ham on Saturday night, but their leaky start to the season means they must overturn the form book if they are to defend their title
» Premier League stance and UEFA plans after Boris Johnson's lockdown update
The Prime Minister has confirmed that a national lockdown will be imposed from the early hours of November 5, lasting until December 2
» Jota opens up on Liverpool role after he comes off the bench to bag Reds' winner
Diogo Jota came off the bench to fire home Liverpool's winner against West Ham but is not concerned by his cameo role at Anfield
» Comeback victory reaffirms why Liverpool remain favourites for Premier League
It was by no means a vintage performance, but the Reds showed the mentality of champions to recover from 1-0 down and snatch a late 2-1 victory against West Ham
» Diogo Jota forces "concerned" Graeme Souness into major Liverpool rethink
Liverpool moved to the top of the Premier League table with a hard-earned 2-1 win over West Ham at Anfield after a late Diogo Jota winner
» Liverpool player ratings as subs combine to secure comeback win over West Ham
LIVERPOOL 2-1 WEST HAM UNITED: Pablo Fornals scored the opening goal inside 10 minutes at Anfield, before Mohamed Salah equalised from the spot at half-time and Diogo Jota struck the winner
» Klopp matches 40-year Paisley record in Liverpool victory over West Ham
The Reds left it late to sink the Hammers at Anfield, while there was further cause for celebration as Klopp equalled a long-standing record set by Liverpool icon Paisley
» Five talking points as sub Jota saves Liverpool in comeback win over West Ham
Diogo Jota scored late on as Liverpool came from behind to win all three points at Anfield after Mo Salah had cancelled out Pablo Fornals' early West Ham goal
» What Boris Johnson's latest Lockdown restrictions mean for the Premier League
The Premier League was suspended for over three months after the first national lockdown was implemented in March, while the United Kingdom will now head into a second period of heightened restrictions
» Mikel Arteta's William Saliba plan becomes clear with latest Arsenal decision
The central defender signed for the Gunners from Saint-Etienne in the summer of 2019, before going back to the French club on loan last season
» Lampard hails Ziyech as Chelsea star lives up to Hazard comparison
Morocco winger Ziyech opened the scoring at Turf Moor with a 26th-minute strike and provided an assist for Timo Werner during a complete performance for the Blues
» Former Leeds and Hearts defender Marius Zaliukas dies age 36
The Lithuanian, who also represented Rangers but captained the Edinburgh side to Scottish Cup glory, has passed away after a battle with illness
» Solskjaer delivered damning Paul Pogba warning ahead of Arsenal clash
Manchester United host Arsenal looking to build on their thumping Champions League win over RB Leipzig, a game Paul Pogba started
» Lampard provides Pulisic update after Chelsea star's latest injury
The Blues ran out 3-0 winners against Burnley but forward Pulisic was replaced in the starting line-up after suffering an injury during the warm-up at Turf Moor
» Troy Deeney urges Dele Alli to learn from Kevin De Bruyne amid 'lazy' claims
Dele Alli's Tottenham future is in major doubt as he struggles to perform under Jose Mourinho and Troy Deeney feels the midfielder needs to emulate one of Manchester City's star names
» Liverpool boss Klopp explains decision to start Phillips vs West Ham
Nathaniel Phillips is making his first Premier League start for Liverpool with Jurgen Klopp struggling for defensive options against West Ham
» Pulisic injury, brilliant Ziyech - 5 things you missed from Burnley 0-3 Chelsea
BURNLEY 0-3 CHELSEA: Hakim Ziyech, Kurt Zouma and Timo Werner were on the scoresheet in a comfortable win for Frank Lampard's men at Turf Moor
» Van Dijk absence played down as "pivotal" Alisson praised after Liverpool return
Liverpool will be without Virgil van Dijk for a lengthy period following the injury he sustained against Everton but the return of Alisson is a huge boost for Jurgen Klopp
» Jordan Henderson praises Liverpool fans for response to PPV "negativity"
The Reds captain has hailed his side's supporters for turning "negativity into a positive" after the Premier League implemented plans to air certain matches for a fee of £14.95
» Ozil's pointed declaration over "struggles" in latest message to Arsenal fans
Mesut Ozil continues to be a peripheral figure at Arsenal having been left out of the club's Premier League squad by Mikel Arteta but the German has posted defiantly on social media
» Liverpool vs West Ham live - Team news, TV channel and live stream details
Liverpool are without several key first-team stars as they welcome West Ham to Anfield for their Premier League showdown
» Liverpool legend lambasts Ferdinand over Upamecano "schoolboy" assessment
Ferdinand was highly critical of RB Leipzig centre-back Upamecano after his performance in the 5-0 defeat to Manchester United in the Champions League on Wednesday
» Man City pip Man Utd to transfer despite Ole Gunnar Solskjaer scouting mission
The winger was heavily linked with a move to Manchester United in the summer window, with some reports claiming a deal had been agreed
» Juventus boss Andrea Pirlo makes Cristiano Ronaldo decision after Covid return
Cristiano Ronaldo is again available for Juventus having recovered from coronavirus and Andrea Pirlo is ready to bring the Portuguese star back into the fold this weekend

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Other sport news:

» Liverpool go top and equal home record as super sub Diogo Jota sinks West Ham

Who needs five substitutes when two will do? Jürgen Klopp may be championing the return of the five substitutes’ rule but all Liverpool required was the potent introduction of Diogo Jota and Xherdan Shaqiri to complete another comeback victory, move three points clear at the top of the Premier League and equal a club record of 63 league games unbeaten at Anfield.

West Ham had good reason to rue the quality on the champions’ bench. David Moyes’s side defended tenaciously, attacked dangerously – whenever they were able to gain possession from Liverpool, that is – and delivered a performance that underlined the progress they are making this season. Yet they still ended up suffering the same fate as 28 of the previous 29 Premier League visitors to Anfield. Defeat.

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» In this strange season, Harry Kane and Son Heung-min put Spurs in title mix | Jonathan Wilson

Defensive solidity plus a lethal forward pairing may be all it takes for Tottenham to be considered serious challengers

This has already been a deeply confusing season. Nothing makes much sense and as the impact of the virus and the compacted calendar continues to be felt, nothing is likely to any time soon. But still, particularly given how the opening weekend went, there can be few details weirder than Tottenham, who host Brighton on Sunday, would have gone into this weekend top of the Premier League had they not let slip a 3-0 lead against West Ham.

Related: Lanzini's late gem completes stunning West Ham fightback at Tottenham

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» Hakim Ziyech on the mark again as rampant Chelsea swat aside Burnley

The new arrivals Hakim Ziyech and Timo Werner were on the scoresheet and established performers such as Reece James and N’Golo Kanté were also impressive as Burnley found themselves outclassed and Chelsea moved up to fourth.

Tottenham had to work extremely hard for a win here the start of the week, but a star-studded and fluent Chelsea side made it look easy. Burnley were never in the contest, Chelsea’s passing rendering their usual physicality and directness superfluous, and though he will not find himself up against lavishly funded Champions League teams every week, Sean Dyche must be worried with only a point to show from six matches and no goals scored at home.

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» Guardiola quells fears of Manchester City exit after Walker blunts Blades

There has been a slight end of empire feel about Manchester City and Pep Guardiola this season, but appearances can deceive. Without ever being quite at their best, City comfortably did enough to ensure they headed back across the Pennines having silenced those who interpreted the sight of Guardiola sitting alone in the dugout well before kick off, staring moodily at the empty stands, as confirmation of a manager in crisis.

Instead, that mantle passes to Chris Wilder. His side have one point from seven games and after taking the top tier by storm last term appear to have developed full-blown second-season syndrome. The electronic signs warning visitors entering Sheffield to maintain “very high alert” relate to coronavirus levels, but they could apply equally to the danger confronting the Blades.

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» Hearts dedicate Scottish Cup semi-final win to former captain Marius Zaliukas
  • Liam Boyce’s extra-time penalty seals poignant win over Hibs
  • Zaliukas, who lifted Cup with Hearts in 2012, has died aged 36

Hearts beat Edinburgh rivals Hibernian in extra-time at Hampden Park to reach the Scottish Cup final, and dedicated their victory to former captain Marius Zaliukas, who has died at the age of 36.

“Everyone at Heart of Midlothian FC is devastated to learn of the passing of Scottish Cup winning captain Marius Zaliukas,” a short statement on Twitter read. “A full tribute will follow, but for now we send our love to Marius’ family and friends. That win was for you, skipper.”

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» European roundup: Real Madrid and Bayern Munich return to summits
  • Hazard scores first goal in more than year against Huesca
  • Bayern edge past Cologne; Gervinho hits two at Inter

Karim Benzema scored twice as Real Madrid moved back to the top of La Liga with a 4-1 victory over Huesca. Eden Hazard and Benzema netted just before the interval and Federico Valverde made it 3-0 before David Ferreiro’s reply with little more than 15 minutes to go. Benzema added his second late on as Zinedine Zidane’s side went two points clear of Real Sociedad, who face Celta Vigo on Sunday.

Related: Kyle Walker lashes Manchester City to victory over Sheffield United

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» Championship: Wycombe win sets Owls adrift, Pukki pair earns Norwich victory
  • Wycombe 1-0 Sheffield Wed; Bristol City 1-3 Norwich
  • Swansea up to second, Watford beaten at Barnsley

David Wheeler earned Wycombe their first Championship victory, as they beat Sheffield Wednesday 1-0 to leave the Owls adrift at the foot of the table.

With manager Gareth Ainsworth watching from hospital after undergoing back surgery, assistant Richard Dobson oversaw a brilliant second-half defensive display to repel the lacklustre visitors and kickstart their maiden second-tier campaign.

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» Rodrigo Riquelme hits first goal for Bournemouth to deny Derby

A glass-half-empty character might argue that Derby failing to kill off opposition for a third successive game is a worrying trend but Phillip Cocu, while pragmatic enough to acknowledge his team remain in a sticky situation, pointed to the positives and a pivotal next week after Bournemouth rallied to ensure they remain the only unbeaten team in England’s top four tiers. Rodrigo Riquelme, a baby-faced winger on loan from Atlético Madrid, stepped off the bench to score his first goal for the club and deny Derby a vital victory.

Jason Tindall, the Bournemouth manager, introduced Joshua King at half-time in place of the injured Junior Stanislas and David Brooks with 20 minutes to play but it was the live-wire Riquelme who made a telling difference as Derby retreated. Mel Morris, the Derby chairman who remains in talks to sell the club to a cousin of the Manchester City owner, Sheikh Mansour, has cited injuries as an aggravating factor in Derby’s slow start to the season and, while the summer signing Kamil Jozwiak was absent through injury, here Cocu welcomed Krystian Bielik back among the substitutes and Wayne Rooney lasted an hour on his return.

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» Mark Lawrenson on Nobby Stiles: I owe my career to his coaching

The former Preston, Brighton and Liverpool defender relates how Nobby Stiles moved him from the wing and put him on the path towards football glory. Interview by Barry Glendenning

I wouldn’t have achieved anything in football without Nobby Stiles. As a kid trying to make his way at Preston, I wouldn’t even have got another contract, let alone moves to Brighton and then Liverpool. Without Nobby I would have disappeared and probably ended up playing lower-league football. I certainly wouldn’t have played in the top flight or won a European Cup.

Related: Nobby Stiles obituary

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» Everton's Hayley Raso: 'I've learned not to take football for granted'

After fracturing three vertebrae in 2018, Hayley Raso had to learn to walk again but is now looking forward to Everton’s FA Cup final on Sunday

“The girls didn’t even think I was real,” says Hayley Raso with a laugh when recounting her long-awaited meeting with her Everton teammates. The Australia winger was recruited in January having agreed a six-month deal but her arrival on Merseyside was delayed first by an international camp then by surgery on a broken nose.

Now, though, she is readying herself, alongside the players who had started to doubt she would ever show up, for Everton’s first Wembley cup final on Sundayand their attempt to win the FA Cup for the first time since 2010.

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» 'He was daring, brave': the story behind Ferran Torres's rapid rise

Manchester City forward with an ‘I refuse to sink’ tattoo was fast-tracked but not always memorable to teammates

The usual routine here is for a former teammate to talk about how good Ferran Torres was, how he made an immediate impact and everyone knew that he was going to be a star from the very first day, especially him. How he came on for his debut and left everyone open-mouthed. Things, though, don’t always turn out as you expect. “I can’t even remember, to be honest,” says one member of the Mestalla side the day the 16-year-old played his first game with them in Spain’s third tier, a 2-0 defeat by Mallorca B in October 2016.

He didn’t stand out, then? “Not with us he didn’t,” the player says, and then starts laughing. “Seemed a nice kid, quiet. Very good in training, I do remember that. To be fair, he wasn’t with us long.” Soon Torres was moving on: fast-tracked into Mestalla, Valencia’s B team, he was moved to the first team quickly too, long identified as the player in an academy with an impressive record of producing players, including Jordi Alba, Isco and the man Torres admired as a kid and whose No 21 shirt he took at Manchester City: David Silva.

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» Jürgen Klopp criticises Premier League chief over substitutes' rule
  • Liverpool manager says five replacements should be allowed
  • Pep Guardiola and Ole Gunnar Solskjær support Klopp view

Jürgen Klopp has accused the Premier League chief executive, Richard Masters, of a lack of leadership over the decision to abandon the five substitutes’ rule, with anger growing among managers at the rise in muscle injuries this season.

The Manchester City manager, Pep Guardiola, condemned the “sporting directors, the presidents (and) the chairmans” who voted against persisting with five substitutes in the Premier League following its temporary introduction during Project Restart. Frank Lampard, Steve Bruce and Ole Gunnar Solskjær have also voiced criticism after a report by Premier Injuries showed a dramatic 42% increase in muscle injuries already this term.

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» Wolves up to third after debutant Rayan Aït-Nouri helps sink Crystal Palace

Wolves have progressed in every season under Nuno Espírito Santo and look well set to continue that trend despite injuries and summer sales. Crystal Palace were certainly unable to stall them, the visitors comprehensively beaten by effervescent hosts whose goals came from the excellent Daniel Podence and an impressive teenage debutant, Rayan Aït-Nouri.

Palace ended up ragged and raging, with Luka Milivojevic sent off late on by Martin Atkinson for a studs-up tackle on Joäo Moutinho.

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» Arsenal's head of football operations departs as shake-up continues
  • Huss Fahmy’s exit marks new stage in restructure
  • Edu and Per Mertesacker now key decision-makers

The Arsenal head of football operations, Huss Fahmy, is to depart in the latest stage of their executive restructuring.

Fahmy joined Arsenal from Team Sky in 2017 and has been instrumental in dealing with contractual and recruitment issues. But his role has been less well defined since the club executed a boardroom shake-up over the summer, parting company with the former head of football Raul Sanllehi and giving Mikel Arteta a greater say in matters away from the training pitch by bestowing him the title of first-team manager.

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» Everton must prove they can win without Richarlison, says Ancelotti
  • Brazil forward suspended for trip to Newcastle
  • Lucas Digne and James Rodríguez also ruled out

Carlo Ancelotti has said Everton must react to losing their unbeaten record at Southampton by proving they can win without Richarlison.

Everton’s defeat last Sunday was their first this season and the latest demonstration of their reliance on the Brazil international, who is serving a three-match ban for his dismissal against Liverpool. Richarlison has missed six Premier League games out of a possible 82 since arriving from Watford in 2018 and Everton have not won in his absence.

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» Mourinho tells Spurs fans to expect a 'different' Bale from first spell
  • Manager points out Ronaldo and Messi have changed too
  • Mourinho says team missed Ndombele’s speed in Antwerp

José Mourinho has affirmed his belief that Gareth Bale will thrive in his second spell at Tottenham but told fans to expect the forward to contribute in different ways from his first period at the club.

“Seven years is a long, long, long gap,” the manager said. “So which player in the world is the same as he was seven years ago? Sometimes they’re not better or worse, they’re just different players.

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» 'Dealt with internally': Solskjær praises response to hammering by Spurs
  • Three wins, one draw for Manchester United since ‘brutal’ loss
  • Manager says Paul Pogba ‘can do everything on a pitch’

Ole Gunnar Solskjær has praised as fantastic Manchester United’s response to their “brutal” 6-1 hammering by Tottenham, his side having won three matches and drawn one since.

On Wednesday United beat RB Leipzig 5-0 in their second Champions League group game. The defeat of last season’s semi-finalists followed a 2-1 victory the previous week at Paris Saint-Germain, the losing finalists. In the Premier League Newcastle United have been beaten 4-1 and Chelsea drawn 0-0.

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» Aston Villa v Southampton: match preview

After gripping and ripping through their first four games, Aston Villa came up well short against Leeds despite having the upper hand in the first half. Dean Smith’s side created chances but failed to apply the finishing touch. A surprising development considering the hammering sent via Asgard that Liverpool received at Villa Park. Southampton are arguably an even tougher test than Leeds as Danny Ings will score if given the same room to attack in as Patrick Bamford and co. On the other side Jack Grealish will want to flash his considerable technical and creative abilities for Gareth Southgate’s perusal before England’s upcoming internationals. The quality in both sides easily makes this a contender for game of the weekend. Graham Searles

Sunday noon Sky Sports Box Office

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» Newcastle v Everton: match preview

Rafael Benítez paid £12m to sign Jacob Murphy for Newcastle from Norwich in 2017 but he experienced a slow start to life on Tyneside. Indeed, following loan stints at West Brom and Sheffield Wednesday, Murphy was expected to be sold to a Championship club this summer but instead was a surprise inclusion in Steve Bruce’s Premier League squad. It looked an excellent call when an apparently reborn Murphy shone at right-back before scoring a late equaliser as Newcastle drew at Wolves last week. Bruce now says he does not dare drop him against Everton. Maybe Benítez’s judgment was right after all. Louise Taylor

Sunday 2pm Sky Sports Premier League

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» Manchester United v Arsenal: match preview

Ole Gunnar Solskjær wants Manchester United to be consistent and following the 6-1 humiliation by Tottenham they have been – defeating Newcastle, Paris Saint-Germain, and RB Leipzig, while drawing with Chelsea with an aggregate score of 11-2. For the same period Arsenal’s record shows Sheffield United, Dundalk and Rapid Vienna all beaten with a defeat at Leicester for a 7-4 record overall. Yet on Sunday it will be a month since Arsenal’s last Premier League win so the home side, surely, start as firm favourites. Jamie Jackson

Sunday 4.30pm Sky Sports Premier League

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» Tottenham v Brighton: match preview

Harry Kane and Son Heung-min’s influence on results this season has been huge. José Mourinho paid the price for resting them against Antwerp but they will be back to face Brighton. Graham Potter’s task is simple but incredibly difficult. Shut them down. Potter would be wise to take a leaf from Burnley’s book last week and sit back to negate their explosive quick breaks forward. Unfortunately for Brighton there is little worse in this world than a Mourinho scorned. He will have his midfield at peak ferocity as Tottenham aim to cleanse their shock Europa League defeat. Graham Searles

Sunday 7.15pm Sky Sports Box Office

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» Fulham v West Brom: match preview

Scott Parker thinks Fulham are “moving in the right direction” but that needs to start translating into results. Defeat to West Brom, themselves in need of a first win, would bode particularly ill and this already has the feel of one that could define their season. “I think this game has a little bit extra,” Parker said. West Brom are in decent nick after a draw at Brighton but Slaven Bilic’s relationship with his board remains tense after the controversial sale of Ahmed Hegazi. Nick Ames

Monday 5.30pm Sky Sports Premier League

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» Leeds v Leicester: match preview

As befits a stranger to indecision, Marcelo Bielsa usually decides his Leeds lineups well in advance of games but the competitiveness, and versatility, within his squad dictates a rare dilemma before Leicester’s visit. “I don’t know my team, any of 22 players could start,” said the Leeds manager. It would be more major bombshell than mere surprise were the suddenly free-scoring Patrick Bamford to be omitted – particularly in the wake of his hat-trick as Bielsa’s team prevailed 3-0 at Aston Villa. Louise Taylor

Monday 8pm Sky Sports Premier League

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» As Liverpool seek Anfield record how do they compare with Paisley greats? | Andy Hunter

Saturday’s win against West Ham meant Liverpool equalled a club record of 63 home league games unbeaten set from 1978-81

Jürgen Klopp has wished to avoid the subject of late – his reticence fuelled by a combination of a defensive injury crisis and a reluctance to tempt fate – but Liverpool’s comeback win over West Ham on Saturday meant they equalled a club record of 63 league games unbeaten at Anfield. The record was set by Bob Paisley’s defending champions between 25 February 1978 and 31 January 1981 and covered the entirety of two consecutive title-winning campaigns, another feat their successors are seeking to emulate. We look at how the runs were achieved …

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» In praise of Masters Football: a forgotten phenomenon | Simon Burnton

With little fanfare Amazon has added seven years of gloriously incongruous Masters Football highlights to its online offering

“It’s been some year for the city of Manchester,” trills the narrator, and my mind immediately performs an involuntary scroll through headlines about coronavirus, care homes and Nightingale hospitals, about lockdowns, tiered restrictions and demands for assistance from mayors and footballers. But then it remembers that this programme comes from another reality where none of these things has happened, being as it is the first sentence of the 2011 Masters Football Grand Finals highlights, new to Amazon Prime.

Related: Arsenal have specialised in failure at Old Trafford for decades

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» Nobby Stiles was an enforcer who pioneered the holding midfield role | Paul Wilson

One of the most popular of England’s World Cup-winning team, his years as a regular encapsulate his country’s finest hour

Nobby Stiles was one of the most popular of England’s 1966 World Cup winners, not least because his toothless grin, dishevelled appearance and carefree cavorting around Wembley with the Jules Rimet trophy provided delight at the time and images to last for many decades longer.

Related: Nobby Stiles, 1966 World Cup winner with England, dies aged 78

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» The cult of Diego Maradona – in pictures

As Maradona turns 60, and 30 years since Napoli’s last Scudetto win, photographer Paolo Vezzoli discovers the cult of the ‘God of Naples’

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» Manchester City's Chloe Kelly: 'We aim to win two FA Cups in one season'

Winger on Sunday’s final against her former club Everton, cage football with five older brothers and the chance to make history

The restrictive weight of tier-three local lockdown rules govern Chloe Kelly’s home life in Liverpool and her Manchester‑based job but the England winger welcomes one particular emergency regulation.

Although it has nothing to do with the government’s coronavirus suppression strategy, Kelly finds herself the beneficiary of a unique measure designed for unprecedented times. After swapping Everton for Manchester City during the summer she feared being cup-tied for the final rounds of the delayed 2019-20 FA Cup and was immensely relieved to learn that, for one edition only, it is possible to play for different clubs in a cup straddling two seasons.

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» Nobby Stiles obituary

Robust Manchester United and England footballer who made a memorable contribution to England’s 1966 World Cup victory

Of all the players who contributed to England’s World Cup victory in 1966, Nobby Stiles, who has died aged 78 after suffering from prostate cancer and dementia, was the most unlikely of heroes. But, with his socks round his ankles and his false front teeth left in the dressing room, he was a formidable opponent, a robust tackler and an implacable marker, as he showed in a memorable and crucial performance in the semi-final against Portugal, when he comprehensively – and fairly – squeezed the life out of the great Eusébio.

Related: Nobby Stiles, 1966 World Cup winner with England, dies aged 78

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» Next Generation 2020: 60 of the best young talents in world football

The ‘Tanzanian Mbappé’, Juan Pablo Ángel’s son and the next Kai Havertz are among our players born in 2003. Check the progress of our 2019 selection | 2018 | 2017 | 2016 | 2015

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» Next Generation 2020: 20 of the best talents at Premier League clubs

We pick the best young players at each club born between 1 September 2003 and 31 August 2004, an age band known as first-year scholars. Check the progress of class of 2019 | 2018 | 2017 | 2016 | 2015

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» From Ødegaard to Mastour: what happened to Next Generation 2015?

As we prepare to publish our Next Generation 2020 selection, we say goodbye to the class of 2015. So how did they get on?

This is what the Guardian’s Andy Hunter wrote about his 2015 Liverpool player for our series the Next Generation, where we pick one player from each Premier League club in the first-year scholar age group and follow their developments for five years.

The 16-year-old has received rave reviews not only from Liverpool and England coaches during a rapid rise up the ranks but also from Steven Gerrard, his boyhood hero, in the former Anfield captain’s new autobiography. Gerrard reveals he asked Pepijn Lijnders, the first-team development coach, to always include Alexander-Arnold in his group when taking his ’B’ Licence course, and handed him the captain’s armband during a comeback game in Liverpool’s Under-18s side last season. “It was my way of telling Trent that I believed he could make it for Liverpool one day,” Gerrard writes.

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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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» Nobby Stiles: A look back at the 'Toothless Tiger's' memorable life – video obituary

England's World Cup-winning midfielder Nobby Stiles, whose robust game earned him the nickname the 'Toothless Tiger', has died aged 78 after a long battle with illness, his family said on Friday. The former Manchester United player was an uncompromising competitor who won 28 caps for England, lifting the World Cup in 1966. He provided one of that final's most iconic images as he danced around the Wembley pitch after the hosts beat West Germany with the trophy in one hand and his false teeth in the other

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» 'My time at Barcelona is over': Guardiola quells Manchester City exit fears – video

Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola has said 'the time to come back to Barcelona as a manager is over' after reports linked him with a return to his former club. 'I'm getting old ... you have to have a special energy', Guardiola added, saying his focus is on delivering for City this season.

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» Bartomeu resigns as Barcelona 'agree to join European Super League' – video

Josep María Bartomeu’s last act as the president of Barcelona was to announce the club’s participation in a European Super League. The former president revealed that Barça had signed up to the proposal during a 35-minute speech to confirm his resignation on Tuesday night. 'I can announce some extraordinary news,' said Bartomeu. 'Yesterday we accepted a proposal to participate in a future European Super League, which would guarantee the future financial sustainability of the club.'

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» Labour peer tells House of Lords of his mother's 'panic' over school meals – video

Lord Griffiths told of the 'mounting panic' his mother faced ahead of school holidays when he was a child as he shared his experiences of receiving free meals. 'I can still taste and smell it, the mounting panic ahead of school holidays because the income we had could not stretch to feeding two boys and a mother in that day,' he told the House of Lords. 

Lord Griffiths likened his experiences to that of footballer Marcus Rashford, who also grew up on free school meals and was awarded an MBE last month for his campaigning on the issue. 

'Marcus Rashford and I have this, and probably only this, in common. We remember not in our heads, but in our whole bodies. An old Etonian, of course, can’t be expected to have had the same experience.'

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» I don't consider Spurs title contenders, says Mourinho after win at Burnley – video

José Mourinho says he does not view his Tottenham side as being in title contention. 'I will never consider ourselves title contenders,' said the manager, 'I assume that every match we will play, it doesn't matter where and it doesn't matter against who, we go to win.' Mourinho was talking after Spurs' 1-0 win at Burnley. His side have just one defeat from their opening six Premier League games and are currently fifth in the table.

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» Ighalo calls Nigerian government 'shame to the world' as athletes condemn police brutality – video

Manchester United striker Odion Ighalo says he is ashamed of the Nigerian government after reports that soldiers opened fire on those protesting against police brutality in the country's largest city, Lagos.

Nigerians have been demonstrating nationwide every day in recent weeks against a now disbanded police unit, the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (Sars), which has been accused of extrajudicial killings and abuse.

Ighalo said in a video message on Twitter that while he rarely talks about politics he could not stay silent about events back home. He was joined by several other athletes, including boxer Anthony Joshua, basketballer Chiney Ogwumike and footballer Victor Osimhen, in condemning the violence

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» San Siro has 'no cultural interest' and can be demolished. Sorry, what?

The Italian heritage authority has no objections to San Siro being flattened. They don’t know their history

By Martin Dunlop for The Gentleman Ultra

The Italian heritage authority concluded earlier this year that San Siro has “no cultural interest” and can be demolished. Milan and Inter have been proposing a new stadium for a while, but surely they would rather refurbish than demolish. Apparently not. Although some parts of the ground may be retained as a landmark in a new sports and entertainment district, the stadium itself is likely to be replaced with a brand new 60,000-seat arena. Moving to a state-of-the-art and, crucially, club-owned ground hardly did Juventus any harm, but knocking down San Siro would be like flattening a cathedral.

The stadium takes its name from the San Siro district, which sits three miles north-west of Milan city centre. It opened in 1926 and, in its earliest days, consisted of four separate stands. San Siro hosted three matches at the 1934 World Cup, which Italy won. Originally owned by Milan, the ground was sold to the city in 1935. Ten years later, Inter joined Milan in playing their matches at San Siro, which, by this point, had been redeveloped to consist of one fully enclosed tier.

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» Penalty polémica hides Barça's vanishing act as Zidane finds a way | Sid Lowe

The fallout from Saturday’s clásico has focused on VAR but the real story is a familiar one: Zinedine Zidane getting the better of a muddled Barcelona team

“I’m just pissed that we lost,” Sergiño Dest said. His teammates had already disappeared down the tunnel, swiftly ducking out of sight, and now he was alone: a 19-year-old American in an empty arena trying to explain how Barcelona had been beaten in the clásico again. “I think we deserved more,” he said, which he at least probably did, standing there in front of the TV camera at the end of an afternoon in which he might have been Barça’s best player. “We had chances, they had chances,” he offered. “They were just a bit sharper in taking them, and that was it.”

Only that wasn’t it and never is. When the final whistle went a minute or so after Luka Modric had scored the third in a 3-1 Real Madrid win, Barcelona manager Ronald Koeman had shaken hands with Zinedine Zidane and then waited by the tunnel for the referee, Juan Martínez Munuera. “Why,” he wanted to know, “is there only VAR against Barcelona?” When Sevilla had brought down Lionel Messi in the last minute the VAR had not intervened, he noted. When Getafe might have had two red cards, it hadn’t either, he said: had the referee not been watching last week? Now when Ramos had fallen to the floor, it had. “Someone has to explain VAR to me,” he insisted.

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» Insigne brothers trade goals as Roberto gets moment against Napoli | Nicky Bandini

Lorenzo Insigne’s comeback from injury was perfectly timed to coincide with Napoli’s visit to his younger brother’s club

One day after he sustained an injury that forced him off the pitch in tears last month, Lorenzo Insigne was on the phone to his brother Roberto. “I’m going to make my comeback against you,” he said. On the other end of the line, he heard laughter. “Must you?” came the reply.

It cannot always be easy living in your brother’s shadow. We are talking figuratively, here. Roberto e stands an inch or two taller than Lorenzo, but where the latter has made more than 270 Serie A appearances for Napoli, the former is only this season getting his first real opportunity to make a mark in the Italian top flight.

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» Lille have their sights set on challenging PSG for the Ligue 1 title

Eight games into the season, Lille are the only unbeaten team in Ligue 1. Could they go all the way?

By Adam White and Eric Devin for Get French Football News

A mishit shot from Gervinho was enough for Lille to beat Sochaux 1-0 on 18 May 2011 and secure their first league title in 57 years. There was pandemonium at the ageing Stade Metropole as a side containing Eden Hazard, Moussa Sow, Yohan Cabaye, Adil Rami and Mathieu Debuchy won the Ligue 1 title with two games to spare. They also lifted the Coupe de France that season, beating PSG in the final thanks to a last-minute winner. Nine years and several disasters later, Lille are still waiting for another trophy. This could be the season they make an unexpected charge for the title.

Having delivered the club to such success and a futuristic new stadium, their outspoken president Michel Seydoux sold up to Luxembourgian businessman Gérard Lopez in 2017. Lopez quickly restructured the club’s management, recruiting Marc Ingla from Barcelona to work as a general manager and, crucially, bringing in Luis Campos as sporting director after he left Monaco.

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» 'What we do isn't rocket science': how Midtjylland started football's data revolution

The Danish champions – who play Liverpool on Tuesday – have been the poster child for using metrics to gain an advantage, with some techniques in common with their English counterparts

Think of it as the Moneyball derby. Not so long ago, the idea a club could gain a vital edge using mathematical models – let alone employ a theoretical physicist or track key performance indicators (KPI) – would have left real football men choking on their meat pies and Bovril. But when Liverpool host Midtjylland in the Champions League on Tuesday, it will not only be a meeting between the champions of England and Denmark, but one between the twin vanguards of the sport’s analytics revolution.

Midtjylland became the movement’s poster child in 2014 when they started using deeper metrics – such as expected goals and pre-assists to an assist – to better evaluate player performances, find undervalued bargains and to shatter myths and easy narratives.

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» Ajax set new Eredivisie scoring record with 13-0 trouncing of hapless Venlo
  • Lassina Traoré scores five goals and makes three assists
  • Previous record was Ajax’s 12-1 win over Vitesse in 1972

Ajax set an Eredivisie record when they scored 13 goals past 10-man VVV-Venlo to move to the top of the league on Saturday, with seven different players on the score sheet. The previous record for an Eredivisie game was also held by Ajax after they beat Vitesse 12-1 in 1972.

Related: European roundup: Lewandowski hits hat-trick as Bayern thrash Eintracht

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» European roundup: Lewandowski hits hat-trick as Bayern thrash Eintracht
  • Polish forward has 10 goals in five Bundesliga games
  • Quagliarella and Sampdoria shock Atalanta

Robert Lewandowski bagged a hat-trick as Bayern Munich thumped Eintracht Frankfurt 5-0. In a typically ruthless Bayern performance, the forward struck twice in the first half-hour and added a third after half-time, before the substitutes Leroy Sané and Jamal Musiala completed the rout. The only disappointment for Bayern was an early injury to Alphonso Davies, who had to be carried off after twisting his ankle. Bayern later confirmed he would out for up to eight weeks.

Bayern are now in second with 12 points from five games, one behind RB Leipzig, who beat Hertha Berlin 2-1 thanks to Marcel Sabitzer’s late penalty. Jhon Córdoba fired Hertha into an early lead, but Dayot Upamecano showed persistence to provide a quick response. Hertha brought on Deyovaisio Zeefuik at the break, but the Dutch defender was booked almost straight away and sent off with his second yellow card in the 50th minute. Córdoba conceded the penalty for a foul on Willi Orban before Sabitzer decided the game in the 77th minute.

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» 'How can it be?': Piqué tears into Barcelona over Messi situation
  • Defender says treatment of Messi ‘really gets to me’
  • ‘The new stadium should be named after him’

The Barcelona defender Gerard Piqué has torn into the club over their handling of the Lionel Messi contract situation, which resulted in the forward attempting to leave.

The criticism comes on the eve of the first clásico against Real Madrid this season and two days after the 33-year-old Piqué signed a new three-year deal, with a vote of no confidence against the board also imminent.

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» Hope, joy and 'Tetris': a new start after the fall of Deportivo La Coruña | Sid Lowe

Depor, Spanish champions 20 years ago, are now in the third tier but have been able to welcome fans back to Riazor after a seven-month absence

When at long, long last it comes, the roar rips right through you, taking you back to a better place. Suddenly there’s a release and in that moment all is right again. It’s just a goal, but it’s not. It’s the 97th minute and it’s the winner, dramatic and desperate, but that’s not it either. It shouldn’t be this good, maybe shouldn’t be good at all, but bloody hell it’s good. Time slips away, tension tears at them, and then it happens: the ball comes from the right and Eneko Bóveda heads it into the net. Deportivo La Coruña have beaten Salamanca on the opening day and there is an explosion, briefly returning everything to where it belongs.

This weekend, for the first time since March, football fans returned to stadiums in Spain. It is tentative, not welcomed by everyone with Covid-19 cases rising, and it is limited, just a small step forward. But it is something. Something big, as it turns out; bigger than you imagined. It is hard not to be carried along, not to get lost in the emotion, to share it. That sound, that feeling, that release: how we’ve missed it.

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» Marcus Rashford shows how football can be a force for unity and good | Sean Ingle

The Manchester United attacker has risen from sportsman to statesman with his campaign for free school meals

First Marcus Rashford put in a decent shift on the pitch. Then came an even more impressive one off it.

Barely 45 minutes after a pallid, punchless 0-0 draw with Chelsea on Saturday night, the Manchester United striker was back working his second job: a three-hour magic set in which dozens of cafes, churches, restaurants and ordinary folk all promised him they would donate free food to the poorest children in society during this half-term.

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» Diaries, astuteness and work ethic: the making of Solskjær the manager | Jamie Jackson

In an extract from his new book about Ole Gunnar Solskjær, Jamie Jackson finds a future foretold during the Norwegian’s time as a Manchester United striker

See the three figures out on the green grass of Manchester United’s Carrington training base. Working in the hot June sun. Two are together, one stands apart. The two are practising finishing – the other encouraging, coaching, feeding them endless balls to try to score with. They are relentless in their quest to become better. They are Ole Gunnar Solskjær and Ruud van Nistelrooy. They are being schooled by René Meulensteen, a Dutch skills coach who will one day manage Manchester United reserves and have Ole as his assistant. Then one day René will be part of Sir Alex Ferguson’s inner circle, becoming first-team coach. For now, he is drilling Ole and his countryman Van Nistelrooy ahead of their coming internationals.

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» Kevin McCarra: a pioneer who changed football journalism

The former Guardian football correspondent, who has died aged 62, was crisp, prescient and transformative in his writing

It was around about 1990, long before journalists had mobile phones. Kevin McCarra, the former football correspondent of the Guardian who died from Alzheimer’s disease on Saturday aged 62, was travelling from Glasgow to cover a game at Easter Road for Scotland on Sunday when his train got stuck somewhere near Falkirk. Time passed. It became clear Kevin wasn’t going to make kick-off. Still the train didn’t move. He wasn’t going to make half-time, either.

Unable to contact his desk but knowing they had a space to fill and needed copy, he composed a piece about being on the train with frustrated fans, filed when he was finally able to disembark and somehow produced something true and insightful, and far more memorable than anything that had been written at the game itself.

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» The Fiver | One relentless grind of vacuous and self-inflicted tedium

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Nobby Stiles, one of England’s 1966 World Cup-winning heroes, has died aged 78 after a long period with prostate cancer and advanced dementia.

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» Man Utd v Arsenal, Ali's debut and the incredible Didrikson Zaharias | Classic YouTube

Also featuring George Best, ‘Hitman’ Hearns and the late, great Ron Pickering on We Are The Champions

1) Manchester United meet Arsenal on Sunday, and it seems the two clubs have enjoyed some acceptable tussles in the past. Here’s a Friday night special from November 1984; Norman Whiteside booting David O’Leary and friends all round Old Trafford in January 1987; EVERYTHING that NO ONE wants to see, the brawl of October 1990; David Rocastle’s brilliant goal in October 1991; Arsenal’s crucial win in March 1998; and Keown v Van Nistelrooy.

2) Mildred “Babe” Didrikson Zaharias is one of the greatest athletes of all time. In the 1932 Olympics, she won gold in the javelin and 80m hurdles, plus silver in the high jump. Although she was also great at baseball and basketball, she went to golf next, where she fought discrimination to win 10 LPGA majors. Here’s a look back at her career, and another, and another.

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» David Squires on ... Marcus Rashford v the Tory government

Our cartoonist on the striker’s mission to provide meals for children in need, and the grimly predictable obstacles in his way

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» Two spells at the same club: who waited longest between debut goals? | The Knowledge

Plus: captaining your country on debut, second-tier England reunions and the club who signed a resident poet

“Grant Leadbitter scored the winning penalty against Peterborough for Sunderland the other week, his first goal since returning to the club,” tweeted Craig a couple of weeks ago. “It was 5,111 days after his original debut goal. Have any other players gone longer between debut goals for a club?” Not many, but there are a few examples.

5,421: Both Tom Aldous and Richard Harland suggest Wayne Rooney, whose name was remembered when he scored for Everton against Arsenal on 9 October 2002, and whose second debut goal came on 12 August 2017 against Stoke.

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

Bamford continues to prove doubters wrong, Van de Beek should be unleashed and Saints find perfect pairing

Jamie Vardy proved his importance to Leicester City just as much when he was in the stands as he was on the pitch. The Foxes were flat from the off, without a functioning plan B to put into operation in Vardy’s absence. The team is so used to utilising the striker’s clever running in behind a defence, they seem to lack other creative ideas when he is not spearheading the team. Considering they ripped Manchester City apart just weeks ago, it will concern Brendan Rodgers that he cannot get his side to repeat that perfect performance, suffering home defeats to West Ham and Aston Villa in the two games that followed. Vardy’s arrival on the pitch enlivened Leicester, with his teammates looking more confident in the company of their talisman who duly scored a late winner. Rodgers might be best finding a striker in the mould of Vardy to ensure they can maintain the status quo whenever he is absent; otherwise they are just one tweaked muscle away from mediocrity. Will Unwin

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

Arsenal juggernaut rolls on, Russo shines for Manchester United and Everton lose 100% record after refereeing shambles

Another week, another big win for Arsenal, now the only side with a 100% record and doing it in style. They are battering teams – this was their second 6-1 win, to add to last week’s 5-0 victory over Brighton and a 9-1 thrashing of West Ham – and if the league does go down to the wire they are already well placed, with a significant goal difference advantage. Vivienne Miedema scored a first-half hat-trick to move ahead of Nikita Parris and become the WSL’s all-time leading scorer and the Gunners are profiting from having a good group of players – Beth Mead, Katie McCabe, Kim Little, Daniëlle van de Donk – who have been at the club long enough to develop that understanding and synchronicity that good players get over time.

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» Golden Goal: Lakhdar Belloumi for Algeria v West Germany (1982) | Simon Burnton

Belloumi, a great denied a move to Europe by age and violence, stunned an overconfident West Germany at the World Cup

This year the Premier League posted a video compilation of the fastest goals from kick-off. They were all scored within seconds of the game starting, ignoring the mid-match instant post-kick-off goal, but give a taste of the genre as a whole, populated as it almost entirely is by defensive blunders and hopeful hoofs, goals that almost all rely on a convenient ricochet or two at some point in the buildup.

In 1982, against West Germany, Algeria scored a goal similar in its speed following a restart, but here there are no hoofs or ricochets, just 23 seconds of teamwork and precision. They produced this in the most exacting circumstances: immediately after conceding an equaliser against massively favoured European giants, in their country’s first World Cup finals fixture. “We were,” the goalscorer, Lakhdar Belloumi, later said, “the Brazilians of Africa.” And for at least half a minute in Gijón, the world saw it.

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» Buy a classic sport photograph – Cantona bosses Liverpool

The latest in a Guardian Print Shop series featuring classic sports images. This week’s picture captures the joy of Leeds United beating Liverpool in a seven-goal Charity Shield thriller, on the eve of the first ever Premier League season

When Leeds United and Liverpool met in the Charity Shield in the curtain raiser for the inaugural Premier League season in 1992, Leeds were the reigning First Division champions and Liverpool, winners two years prior, were the FA Cup holders. Leeds arrived at Wembley boasting a formidable squad including the likes of Gary McAllister, John Lukic, Gordon Strachan, Gary Speed, Lee Chapman and Eric Cantona. The enigmatic Frenchman (pictured here) would guide Leeds to a 4-3 victory with a hat-trick, and weeks later would become the first player to score three in a single Premier League match. However, Leeds would ultimately lose Cantona to Manchester United in November that season – an irreconcilable loss – and limp to a 17th-place finish, only narrowly avoiding the drop; meanwhile, Liverpool would finish sixth and endure a further 27 years of domestic heartbreak before landing the big one last term. Now, these two rejuvenated titans will face one another in the league for the first time in 16 years, as the 2020/21 Premier League season gets underway.

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» Dimitar Berbatov: 'When I saw what Sir Alex had written I had mixed emotions'

The former Manchester United striker on being omitted from the biggest match of his career, practising with basketballs as a kid – and refusing to change his style

Dimitar Berbatov is talking about the most disappointing day in his football career but he is in a conciliatory mood. In May 2011 the Manchester United manager, Sir Alex Ferguson, told him that he would not be in the starting XI for the Champions League final against Barcelona. Even worse, he was not even in the squad.

For Berbatov it was an almighty blow and one he did not fully recover from at United: a year later he was sold to Fulham. However, when writing his autobiography, called My Way and out in English this month, he reached out to his former manager and asked whether he would write the foreword. Ferguson said yes without hesitation. Not only that, he apologised for leaving Berbatov out of the squad and admitted that he got it wrong.

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» Existentialist players and quarterback coaches: the sound of crowd-free football | Paul Doyle

From Coady to Klopp the game’s true voice can be captured by switching off the canned chants and cheers on television

Please do not rush there right now, but there is a video on YouTube consisting of eight hours of vacuum cleaner noise. It has been viewed, or listened to, more than 10 million times. Apparently people find it soothing, the logic being that a monotonous drone shields sensitive souls from the shock of unexpected sounds. There is little scientific support for this theory and no academic has confirmed publicly that it explains Steve McManaman’s commentary career, but we can probably say, if only because anyone likely to object will not hear us, that it is for similar reasons that some folks choose to watch matches these days with canned chants and cheers. There is comfort in the seemingly familiar.

Such people do not know what they are missing. Empty stadiums are a challenge that reveal much about players and coaches. How to fill the silence?

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» Arsène Wenger: 'A sense of anger, humiliation, hate … every defeat is still a scar on my heart' | Donald McRae

Former Arsenal manager reflects on his 22 years in charge of the club, how hurt he was by malicious rumours when he first arrived and how he has managed to move on from his life’s obsession

Arsène Wenger still believes he could milk a cow but, as he says with a smile: “I haven’t tried for a long time. I might have lost the technique a little bit.” Wenger is one of the most humane and original thinkers in football and so it is not surprising that, moving beyond his “obsession”, we should spend 100 minutes talking about much more than the game that consumes him.

Whether describing how he learned to milk cows as a boy in the Alsace village of Duttlenheim, or reliving his first memory as a five-year-old watching his local football team while clutching a prayer book, Wenger stresses his life has been built on the pillars of hard work and faith. “It’s amazing that you make your life with the values from childhood. I think all the champions I have met have been the same. They had the root of their motivations in childhood.”

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