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» Ralf Rangnick finally takes Bruno Fernandes advice Ole Gunnar Solskjaer chose to ignore
Manchester United interim boss Ralf Rangnick has revealed that he considers Bruno Fernandes' best position to be as a No.8, rather than the No.10 he has played as since arriving at the club
» Liverpool fans mock Ben White after Diogo Jota ends Arsenal's Wembley dream
Ben White's exaggerated celebrations at Anfield have now come back to haunt him, as Liverpool fans have mocked the Arsenal defender as his side were knocked out of the Carabao Cup
» Arsenal sent Dusan Vlahovic transfer message after Carabao Cup defeat to Liverpool
Arsenal have been knocked out of the Carabao Cup by Liverpool after they lost 2-0 at the Emirates on Thursday, and they now have been urged to get a deal for Vlahovic over the line
» Arsenal transfer round-up: Dusan Vlahovic blow as Mikel Arteta forced to alter plan
Arsenal have been dealt a significant setback in their transfer pursuit of Fiorentina's Dusan Vlahovic, while Mikel Arteta may be forced to adjust his January strategy
» Liverpool transfer round-up: Reds eyeing moves for two highly-rated teenagers
Liverpool appear to be planning for the future following reports that they are targeting two highly-rated teenagers while a familiar face has returned to the club after his loan was cut short
» Arsenal's transfer dilemma could be the biggest obstacle yet in Mikel Arteta's tenure
With Arsenal's top transfer target Dusan Vlahovic seemingly reluctant to move this month, Mikel Arteta may have no choice but to bide his time to snap up the Serbian hotshot
» Man Utd transfer round-up: Deal for Zakaria 'very unlikely' as Dembele up for sale
Manchester United have surprisingly been quiet in the transfer window so far, but with more than a week to go, there is still time for Ralf Rangnick to add to his squad
» Chelsea transfer round-up: Ousmane Dembele contact as Blues 'crazy' for Matthijs de Ligt
Chelsea have reportedly made contact with the representatives of Barcelona contract rebel Ousmane Dembele, while Matthijs de Ligt is also said to be a target for the Blues
» Man City transfer round-up: Theo Hernandez and Gavi contract updates
Theo Hernandez and Gavi have both been linked with Manchester City in the past, although reports on Thursday suggest the duo are close to agreeing new deals with AC Milan and Barcelona respectively
» Diogo Jota shoulders Mo Salah burden as Liverpool make transfer decision
Diogo Jota's brace saw Liverpool advance to the League Cup final after a 2-0 win over Arsenal, while the Reds have made the decision to recall Rhys Williams from his loan at Swansea City
» Gabriel Martinelli outshines Alexandre Lacazette as Arsenal midfield gamble fails
Arsenal struggled for consistency in attack during their 2-0 loss to Liverpool on Thursday, while Thomas Partey was sent off after only returning from the Africa Cup of Nations earlier in the day
» Ralf Rangnick's Anthony Elanga U-turn as Cristiano Ronaldo's Man Utd 'whinging' defended
Ralf Rangnick has confirmed a YouTube video prompted a change of mind on Anthony Elanga, while Ally McCoist has defended Cristiano Ronaldo after post-substitution strop against Brentford
» Diogo Jota masterclass prompts identical reactions from Jurgen Klopp and teammates
Diogo Jota scored both goals as Liverpool beat Arsenal 2-0 to reach the Carabao Cup final and the Portuguese's tremendous performance had manager Jurgen Klopp waxing lyrical - just like his teammates
» Jurgen Klopp goes out of his way to double down on Gabriel Martinelli praise
Jurgen Klopp has not been shy in dishing out praise, once again, to Arsenal's Gabriel Martinelli after the Brazilian took on his Liverpool side in the Carabao Cup semi-final
» Mikel Arteta's response to Thomas Partey red card just hours after flying back from AFCON
Thomas Partey was only on the pitch for around 15 minutes before being sent off against Liverpool - having only flown back from the Africa Cup of Nations earlier today
» Trent Alexander-Arnold's warning to Chelsea after Liverpool reach Carabao Cup final
Liverpool advanced to the Carabao Cup final where Chelsea lie in wait after seeing off Arsenal with Trent Alexander-Arnold acknowledging the Reds have waited a while for success
» Liverpool set up Chelsea showdown with Emirates victory as Arsenal end with 10 men
Liverpool saw off Arsenal at the Emirates Stadium thanks to two Diogo Jota goals as they set up a Carabao Cup final with Chelsea next month
» Arsenal 0-2 Liverpool: 6 talking points as Diogo Jota's brace sends Reds onto Wembley
Diogo Jota scored a goal in each half to set up a Carabao Cup final meeting with Chelsea at Wembley as Liverpool ran out 2-0 winners over Arsenal at the Emirates
» Arsenal pave the way for Bernd Leno transfer exit with 'strong' replacement bid
Arsenal are making move to sign New England Revolution goalkeeper Matt Turner which would free up Bernd Leno to leave the Emirates having slipped down the pecking order
» Harvey Elliott complicates Liverpool transfer pursuit with Jorge Mendes also involved
The Reds are rumoured to be keeping tabs on an exciting young Fulham prospect by the name of Fabio Carvalho after being scouted those at the top of the Liverpool hierarchy
» Diego Simeone's angry reaction as fans attacked Atletico Madrid team bus
Atletico Madrid's bus was attacked before their Copa del Rey clash with Real Sociedad as the home fans targeted the vehicle which resulted in an angry reaction from Diego Simeone
» Arthur's new Juventus status leaves Arsenal treading a fine line in transfer pursuit
The Brazilian midfielder appears to have played his way back into Massimiliano Allegri's plans in Turin which could in turn spell both good and bad news for the Gunners
» Jesse Lingard and Man Utd's difference of opinion over Newcastle transfer proposals
Manchester United want to offload Jesse Lingard on a permanent deal this month but the player is only interest in a loan exit amid interest from Newcastle United.
» Inside Edu's transfer meeting with Arthur's agent as Arsenal face stumbling blocks
Arsenal are hoping to seal a deal to bring Juventus midfielder Arthur Melo to the Emirates before transfer deadline day and technical director Edu has been in talks with his agent
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» Diogo Jota double sinks Arsenal and sends Liverpool into Carabao Cup final

Now you see him, now you don’t. Liverpool surged into the final of the Carabao Cup on a chilly evening in north London, and will face Chelsea at Wembley at the end of February. By then they will almost certainly have Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mané to call on again, and so Diogo Jota will simply be able to retreat once more into the background, which is how you suspect he likes it. Jota is the sort of player you tend not to notice until the critical moment, which is exactly how he managed to hurt Arsenal here.

Jota popped up with an early goal to settle Liverpool’s nerves and a second late on to settle them again, both expertly assisted by the scintillating Trent Alexander-Arnold. In between, however, the second leg of this semi-final was fiercely and evenly contested, as Arsenal threw everything at their last chance of a trophy in 2022 and Jürgen Klopp’s side mustered all their street-fighting experience to hold them at bay.

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

Steven Gerrard and Duncan Ferguson renew hostilities, a crunch clash at Vicarage Road and another Chelsea-Spurs showdown

Norwich’s hopes of following up on last weekend’s win over Everton by prevailing in Friday’s crucial six-pointer against Watford suffered a blow when it was confirmed Tim Krul would miss the game with a shoulder injury. While one goalkeeper’s misfortune is another’s opportunity, Norwich fans won’t take much confidence from Angus Gunn’s most recent spell deputising for Krul between the sticks, when it could be argued he could have done a lot better for four of the eight goals Norwich conceded in games against Arsenal and Crystal Palace over the festive period. “Gunny was disappointed with the results that we had in the two games that he played in,” said Dean Smith. “He has been working hard to get that opportunity back again and it has presented itself now, so he knows he has got to go and play well.” No pressure, Angus. BG

Watford v Norwich City, Friday 8pm (all times GMT)

Manchester United v West Ham, Saturday 3pm

Everton v Aston Villa, Saturday 12.30pm

Chelsea v Tottenham, Sunday 4.30pm

Southampton v Manchester City, Saturday 5.30pm

Arsenal v Burnley, Sunday 2pm

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» Athletic Bilbao strike in extra time to dump Barcelona out of Copa del Rey
  • Iker Muniain’s penalty earns win after 2-2 draw in 90 minutes
  • Carlo Ancelotti angry at schedule after extra-time win at Elche

Iker Muniain’s extra-time penalty earned Athletic Bilbao a 3-2 win over Barcelona in the Copa del Rey last 16, with last season’s beaten finalists gaining revenge on the holders in a thrilling encounter.

Having opened the scoring in the second minute of the match, the Athletic captain stepped up to beat Marc-André ter Stegen from the spot in the first half of extra time. The penalty was awarded by the VAR after Jordi Alba was judged to have handled a cross in the area.

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» Watford and Norwich under pressure in Premier League survival showdown

Claudio Ranieri and Dean Smith were brought in to keep their teams up and they meet in a Friday night six-pointer

How big is the Friday night fixture between Watford and Norwich? “It’s very big,” says Claudio Ranieri. “We all know how important it is,” says Dean Smith. The two managers are “fighting” against adversity (Smith) and will “crash” into each other in the quest for three points (Ranieri). In the end, however, “the Premier League doesn’t stop”, as Ranieri puts it, or at least not until “the most important part … after 38 games”, in the words of Smith. So maybe it’s not that important after all.

Smith and Ranieri were brought into their clubs mid-season to help reverse downward trends, but are still in the relegation mix. It’s a mix made all the muddier by 22 Covid-induced postponements which mean last-placed Burnley have played four games fewer than Norwich and two fewer than Watford, who are 17th but could fall into the bottom three should they lose to the Canaries at Vicarage Road.

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» Wayne Rooney would be the perfect manager to revive Everton | Karen Carney

There is far more than romance to make the case for Rooney’s Goodison return after the way he has coped in a storm at Derby

There is a lot of romance in the idea of Wayne Rooney returning to Everton to become manager – and I am in love with the thought – but it makes a lot of business sense, too.

After Rafael Benítez’s brief, unhappy spell, the club need to reconnect with the fans, and the appointment of a hero is a good way of going about it. It is fair to say a lot of the fanbase were not enamoured of the appointment of a former Liverpool manager, so going in the opposite direction would be a smart move to get the supporters back on side.

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» Africa Cup of Nations: Pépé caps Ivory Coast win to send dismal Algeria home
  • Champions finish bottom of group, Equatorial Guinea second
  • Tunisia through despite loss to Gambia as Mali top Group F

Ivory Coast thumped Algeria 3-1 to send the defending champions crashing out of the Africa Cup of Nations finals following a disastrous Group E campaign.

Nicolas Pépé’s fine solo goal early in the second half put the game out of sight, the Arsenal winger advancing into the penalty area and curling the ball into the far corner with his left foot. The Elephants led 2-0 at half-time thanks to Franck Kessié’s opener and an Ibrahim Sangaré header from Serge Aurier’s free-kick.

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» Tottenham in talks with PSG over sending Tanguy Ndombele on loan
  • Midfielder would welcome chance to join French club
  • Wolves reject £15m Spurs offer for Adama Traoré

Tottenham are in talks with Paris Saint-Germain over a deal to loan Tanguy Ndombele to the Ligue 1 leaders. The midfielder is keen on the move, which could include an option for PSG to buy at the end of the season.

Discussions are being held over what percentage of Ndombele’s salary, if any, Spurs would pay. The transfer would reunite the 25-year-old with Mauricio Pochettino, who made him Tottenham’s record signing for an initial £55.45m in July 2019 and is now in charge of PSG.

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» Ousmane Dembélé insists he will not be ‘blackmailed’ by Barcelona
  • Forward told by club to leave after failing to agree new deal
  • Dembélé responds with strongly worded statement

Ousmane Dembélé has insisted that contract negotiations at Barcelona continue and warned that he will not be “blackmailed” after he was left out of the squad and told to leave with immediate effect.

In a strongly worded statement that left open the possibility of his staying but revealed the severity of the breakdown in relations with the club, Dembélé said he would “not allow anyone to attribute intentions to me that I have never had” or “speak for me or my agent, who I trust entirely”. He also insisted that he “will not allow anyone to say I am not committed to the sporting project” – precisely the accusation aimed at him by Barcelona’s director of football, Mateu Alemany.

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» Cádiz cast off their anti-hero in yellow specs for uncertain future in La Liga

Álvaro Cervera, lauded by fans as the club’s greatest ever manager, has moved on with the club struggling for survival

Álvaro Cervera had the look. He also had the T-shirts, the slogan and even the sign, a symbol all of his own. Not for him a bat beamed across the sky but a pair of stylised yellow specs, like some sort of short-sighted superman. Which he kind of was and always will be now, even for those who accepted it was time to let go: a cult figure in Cádiz, city of carnival and comedy. This great counter-cultural anti-hero who changed them and let them change him too, if maybe not quite enough in the end. ‘Mr Glasses’, Salvi Sánchez called him.

Salvi knew what he had done, they all did. Born in the province, across the bay in Sanlúcar de Barrameda, Salvi had been at Cádiz when Cervera turned up as an unknown and unlikely coach in April 2016 and he was still there when he left last week, sacked after six years and bidding farewell to appreciative applause. Back then, Cádiz were in the Second Division B, Spain’s 80-team, regionalised, third-to-seventh division, and on the edge of the abyss; by the time he had gone, they had been promoted twice and were a top-flight team, having returned at last in 2020.

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» Up for the cups: Jürgen Klopp ends Liverpool’s wait for Wembley final | Andy Hunter

Liverpool manager’s commitment to domestic cups has been questioned but his delight at semi-final win was clear

To become a “true legend” at Liverpool, Pepijn Lijnders had claimed on the eve of the rearranged Carabao Cup semi-final, “you need to go for the national cups as well.” Jürgen Klopp’s assistant was not downplaying past glories but talking up the future of a Liverpool team that has evolved to the extent he expected it to punish Arsenal even without the cutting edge of Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mané. Lijnders was talking of Liverpool’s hunger too, and it appeared he had written the script.

A 2022 Carabao Cup winner’s medal will not define the Liverpool legacy of Trent Alexander-Arnold, Virgil van Dijk, Jordan Henderson or any other player who ended the club’s 30-year wait for a Premier League title and delivered a sixth European Cup to Anfield. But this Liverpool team should have more honours to its name. Six years without a Wembley appearance is too long for a squad of such talent. The desire to correct both flowed through a commanding victory at the Emirates Stadium where the experience in Klopp’s side toyed and tormented the youth of Arsenal. Their celebrations at Anfield a week ago did indeed prove premature.

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» Women’s transfer window January 2022 – all deals from Europe’s top five leagues

Latest deals and club-by-club guides for the WSL and leagues in Italy, France, Germany and Spain

There are more and more transfers in women’s football as more resources are put into the clubs, although the January window is usually quieter than the summer one. Still there are exciting title races to be had in the WSL, Division 1 Féminine, Frauen-Bundesliga while in Serie A Femminile Juventus are running away with the title, as are Barcelona in the Primera Iberdrola.

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» Men’s transfer window January 2022 – all deals from Europe’s top five leagues

All of January’s Premier League, La Liga, Bundesliga, Ligue 1 and Serie A deals and a club-by-club guide

Women’s transfer interactive: all the latest moves

The January transfer window is not normally where the big clubs, such as Real Madrid, Barcelona, Bayern Munich and Manchester City, do most of their business, but there are times when reinforcements are needed.

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» Unvaccinated Chelsea players could be barred from match at Lille
  • No French exemption for unvaccinated professional athletes
  • Chelsea due to go for Champions League last 16 second leg

Chelsea may be forced to leave at home any players not vaccinated against coronavirus for the second leg of their Champions League last-16 tie against Lille in March.

France has toughened its Covid rules and there is now no exemption for unvaccinated professional athletes wishing to enter the country.

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» Robinho’s appeal against nine-year sentence for rape dismissed
  • Former Milan player handed jail sentence in Italy in 2017
  • Brazil does not extradite citizens sentenced abroad

The former Brazil forward Robinho had a nine-year sentence for the rape of a young woman upheld by Italy’s top court on Wednesday.

Brazil does not extradite its own citizens when they are sentenced in other countries, although Robinho risks being arrested if he travels abroad to a country that has an agreement with Italy — nearly 70 nations, including the United States, Argentina and anywhere in the European Union — and Italy issues an international arrest warrant.

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» Misogyny towards women’s sport common among male football fans, study finds
  • Survey discovers ‘openly misogynistic masculinities’
  • ‘There was a pronounced anti-feminist backlash’

Researchers have claimed that more than two-thirds of male football fans harbour hostile, sexist or misogynistic attitudes towards women’s sport.

A study led by Durham University, based on a survey of almost 2,000 male football supporters, detected what it terms “openly misogynistic masculinities”, irrespective of age.

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» Rangnick told Ronaldo he withdrew him ‘in the interests’ of Manchester United
  • Portuguese substituted in United’s 3-1 win at Brentford
  • ‘I didn’t want to make same mistake as at Aston Villa’

Ralf Rangnick was forced to explain to Cristiano Ronaldo why he was substituted after the forward questioned his decision during Manchester United’s 3-1 win at Brentford that Thomas Frank claimed was “unbelievably lucky”.

While the visitors were uneven before the break, they scored three times in the second half, through Anthony Elanga, Mason Greenwood and Marcus Rashford before Ivan Toney got a late goal back for Frank’s side.

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» Bergwijn’s injury-time double snatches Tottenham stunning win at Leicester

This game may not have won Tottenham the Premier League just yet but, as Antonio Conte celebrated his side’s never-say-die attitude, it was also the latest a team has been trailing in this division only to end up winning since Martin Tyler screamed ‘Agüero’ in May 2012 and Manchester City beat QPR 3-2 at the death to clinch the Premier League title. The first of Steven Bergwijn’s two goals came – after Leicester had led courtesy of James Maddison– with the clock on 94 minutes and 52 seconds and momentum is with Spurs now as they moved to within one point of the top four.

In the most incredible finish imaginable, Bergwijn, on as a 79th-minute substitute, could even count himself fortunate to still be on the field after he had been booked for shoving Caglar Soyuncu in playing for a penalty as this topsy-turvy game entered stoppage time.

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» Ralf-shaped universe takes shape as Manchester United find togetherness | Barney Ronay

Mason Greenwood’s goal at Brentford came straight from the Rangnick playbook of swift turnovers and direct running

With 62 minutes gone at the Brentford Community Stadium something startling happened.

Ralf Rangnick’s Manchester United – this collection of jumbled limbs, soldered and bolted together on its gurney – sprung unexpectedly to its feet, arms raised towards the light.

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» David Squires on … the Matildas’ bid for continental supremacy at the Asian Cup

Our cartoonist looks forward to the tournament in India but wisely steers clear of the upcoming reunion with former boss Alen Stajcic

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» Bergwijn brilliance and the inside story at Derby County – Football Weekly Extra

Max Rushden, Barry Glendenning, Jonathan Liew, Nedum Onuoha and Kieran Maguire discuss the Premier League action and the state of Derby

Rate, review, share on Apple Podcasts, Soundcloud, Audioboom, Mixcloud, Acast and Stitcher, and join the conversation on Facebook, Twitter and email.

On the podcast today: Spurs score twice in injury time away at Leicester in one of the most dramatic finishes to a game since Manchester City 3-2 QPR in 2012, which one of our panel happened to be playing in.

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» Digital fans represent football’s future so should clubs start listening? | Paul MacInnes

Online supporters are seen as a group to make money from but their opinions rarely count in a sporting sense

In 2020 the European Club Association conducted research into what it called the “Future Fan”. A survey across seven countries asked 14,000 people about their interest in football and how they interacted with the game. The survey recorded that among all fans only 40% regularly watched professional football in a stadium. Meanwhile 51% said they played Fifa at least once a month.

This research caused a degree of consternation in the ECA, especially with its then president, Andrea Agnelli, who believed that “many traditional assumptions about fans need to change” and that the game may need to adapt to meet them. Within months, however, Agnelli’s thoughts had been rendered moot because he had been forced out of the ECA for embracing that most radical of changes: the European Super League.

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» What have been the closest TV score abbreviations for two football teams? | The Knowledge

Plus: long runs of leagues won by non-domestic managers, players and refs colliding, and playing in all 11 positions

When Chelsea met Chesterfield in the FA Cup third round, the preferred hashtag was #CHECHF rather than the more accurate and frankly soul-stirring #CHECHE. But this act of cultural vandalism did at least facilitate a decent question, and give our readers the opportunity to burst with trivia.

“When Colchester United knocked Crystal Palace out of the League Cup two years ago I thought it was just your everyday shock,” writes Neil O’Sullivan. “However, the full significance is apparent as the abbreviations for the two teams differ by just one place alphabetically: CPL v COL.”

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» ‘We are worried’: how Reading hit crisis point on and off the pitch

Points deduction, Cup exit at Kidderminster and 7-0 thrashing by Fulham sum up struggling Championship club’s problems

A club statement when Reading supporters are desperately seeking greater transparency from the hierarchy would ordinarily be greeted with open arms. Only the seven paragraphs published on Saturday – when some fans were on the motorway back from Middlesbrough – posed more questions than answers. Hours after conceding a 95th-minute goal that condemned Reading to a fourth defeat in five matches, the club confirmed Liam Moore had been stripped of the captaincy and the owner, Dai Yongge, effectively offered the under-pressure manager, Veljko Paunovic, the dreaded vote of confidence.

It capped a miserable week for Reading, who suffered a record-breaking 7-0 home defeat by Fulham last Tuesday, three days after being dumped out of the FA Cup by sixth-tier Kidderminster. Save for Andy Carroll’s equaliser at Boro and his spectacular disallowed goals against Fulham – an overhead kick and a preposterous chest-and-volley from outside the box – the only reason Reading fans have felt compelled to get off their seats recently is to vent their anger. The bad news is Carroll’s contract expired on Saturday.

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» 'I didn't expect him to hug me': Rangnick on Ronaldo's reaction to substitution – video

Ralf Rangnick was forced to explain to Cristiano Ronaldo why he was substituted after the forward questioned his decision during Manchester United’s 3-1 win at Brentford.

'It was the right decision. Cristiano is a goalscorer but it was more important to be compact at this moment,' Rangnick said after the game. 'I have no issues whatsoever with Cristiano. I’ve been here six weeks and never had any issue with him – none whatsoever.'

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» 'We were killed': Mikel Arteta defends Arsenal's call to postpone the North London derby – video

Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta has defended the club's decision to request the postponement of the North London derby against Tottenham, calling it a 'no-win situation'. The Spaniard said Arsenal still had 'issues' but is hopeful they will be able to host Liverpool on Thursday. 

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» Rafael Benítez's unpopular Everton reign ends after six months – video report

Rafael Benítez has been sacked by Everton after six months in charge. Despite a good start to the season, Everton had won just twice in the past 15 league games leaving them six points above the relegation zone. Benítez wasn't a popular appointment with Everton fans, having previously managed rivals Liverpool, with many voicing their displeasure throughout his tenure. An away defeat to bottom of the table Norwich proved to be his final game in charge, with Wayne Rooney and Roberto Martínez rumoured to replace him.

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» Steven Caulker on representing Sierra Leone at Africa Cup of Nations – video

Former England international Steven Caulker has spoken about switching to represent his grandfather's country, Sierra Leone, at the Africa Cup of Nations in Cameroon.

After a 26-year absence, Sierra Leone is back at Afcon and started the tournament with draws against reigning champions Algeria and Ivory Coast.

Caulker has returned to football after facing problems with alcohol and gambling. He is now doing charitable work in Sierra Leone alongside playing club football in Turkey. 

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» Jamshedpur FC's Greg Stewart scores spectacular, bending free-kick in ISL – video

The former Rangers and Birmingham City midfielder Greg Stewart scored from an unlikely angle in Jamshedpur FC's Boxing Day clash with Kerala Blasters in the Indian Super League. He caught keeper Prabhsukhan Singh Gill off guard as he curled a free-kick into the top corner.

The game finished 1-1, leaving Jamshedpur in fourth place, in position for a place in the play-offs, halfway through the league season

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» 'We don't like it': Tuchel irritated by Romelu Lukaku interview – video

Romelu Lukaku has caused controversy with comments about his dissatisfaction with his role under Thomas Tuchel were released by Sky Italia on Thursday. The interview has irritated the Chelsea head coach, Tuchel, who said: 'We don’t like it,. It brings noise that we don’t need and it’s not helpful.'

Lukaku has no intention of leaving Chelsea despite saying he was 'not happy' with his situation at Stamford Bridge this season. The manager would not confirm whether Lukaku would face disciplinary action

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» Paco Gento, Real Madrid legend and six-time European Cup winner, dies aged 88
  • Winger won 12 league titles in long career at the Bernabéu
  • ‘His speed was terrifying … It was impossible to stop him’

When Paco Gento arrived in 1953, he thought Real Madrid were too big for him but that was nowhere near as big as he would make them. He joined a club that had not won the league in two decades, since before the civil war; by the time he retired 18 years later, it was the biggest, most successful in the world and he had set a record still unmatched half a century later and likely never to be beaten.

Nicknamed La Galerna, the Gale, after the wind that tore through the Cantabrian coast like he tore through defences, Gento died on Tuesday, aged 88. In a career spent almost entirely at Real Madrid he won 12 league titles and six European Cups. No footballer can match that; only two clubs have won more and one is the institution he helped transform, where he was the honorary president.

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» Cameroon top Africa Cup of Nations group despite draw with Cape Verde
  • Vincent Aboubakar scores for hosts in 1-1 draw
  • Burkina Faso also through after Ethiopia tie finishes 1-1

Cameroon gave up a second-half goal to the Cape Verde as they were held to a 1-1 draw on Monday but the hosts still finished top of Group A in the Africa Cup of Nations.

The Cameroon captain, Vincent Aboubakar, scored his fifth goal of the tournament to put his team ahead in the 39th minute before the half-time substitute Garry Rodrigues equalised in the 53rd minute.

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» Focus shifts from performance to results as Matildas eye Asian Cup success | Joey Lynch

Pressure is mounting on Australia’s women to shake off spluttering form and show they are on the right path to 2023

Though their relationship on the international calendar means the two have always had a connection, the 2023 Women’s World Cup looms particularly large over this year’s AFC Women’s Asian Cup, which kicksoff on Thursday evening when China take on Taiwan at the Mumbai Football Arena.

The tournament serves both as the forum to crown a continental champion and for World Cup qualification. Expansion from 24 to 32 nations at next year’s global showpiece event means that five of the 12 competitors in India this month will secure direct qualification, while another two will be able to book places in a 10-team intercontinental play-off for one of three more berths.

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» ‘False rumours’: Gabon’s Aubameyang says Afcon exit due to medical reasons
  • Rumours of a disciplinary breach are denied by striker
  • Cardiac lesions found after Aubameyang contracted Covid

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has insisted he departed the Africa Cup of Nations due to medical reasons amid speculation of a disciplinary breach.

The Arsenal forward did not feature in either of Gabon’s opening two games at the finals, missing the win over Comoros after contracting coronavirus and then being ruled out of Friday’s draw with Ghana due to a heart concern. Gabon announced last week that Aubameyang, along with team-mates Mario Lemina and Axel Meye, had been found to have “cardiac lesions”.

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» Esteban strikes as Equatorial Guinea shock reigning champions Algeria
  • Belmadi’s side at risk of elimination
  • Ivory Coast 2-2 Sierra Leone, Tunisia 4-0 Mauritania

Esteban Obiang scored 20 minutes from time as Equatorial Guinea pulled off one of the great Africa Cup of Nations finals upsets with a 1-0 win over Algeria, the defending champions, in Douala on Sunday.

Obiang struck from a corner as the tiny nation of 1.4 million ended Algeria’s run of 35 unbeaten internationals, inflicting their first defeat since October 2018. The shock Group E result leaves Algeria bottom of the standings and needing a win in their last group game against Ivory Coast on Thursday to stand any chance of advancing to the knockout stages of the tournament in Cameroon.

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» Modric helps Real Madrid beat Athletic Bilbao to win Spanish Super Cup
  • Spanish Super Cup final: Real Madrid 2-0 Athletic Bilbao
  • Modric in first half, Karim Benzema doubles lead in second

“The plan? I don’t know ... to win,” Carlo Ancelotti had said, and that was what happened. Real Madrid have their first trophy of his second coming. It is a minor one, sure, taken from Spain to Saudi Arabia, but it seems unlikely to be the last. Not least because of the way they claimed the Super Cup: goals from Luka Modric and Karim Benzema inside the first hour were ultimately enough on a night where they had seemed to be easing their way to success, and then Thibaut Courtois appeared just at the moment when it looked like, actually, they might not.

The Belgian had just made a couple of saves from substitute Nico Serrano as Athletic Bilbao rebelled against a fate that seemed pre-written and looked for a lifeline in the final 15 minutes. They had been getting a little closer with every minute, “warming me up” as Courtois put it afterwards, and now it seemed they had it when Eder Militão blocked Raúl García’s header with his hand and was sent off. There were five minutes left and Athletic had a penalty. “If they had scored that we would have had seven or eight minutes of heart attacks,” the goalkeeper said.

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» European roundup: Inter drop points as Mourinho’s Roma end winless streak
  • Atalanta 0-0 Internazionale; Roma 1-0 Cagliari
  • Rennes thrash Bordeaux 6-0 in Ligue 1

Internazionale dropped points in Serie A for the first time in more than two months as Atalanta held the league leaders to an entertaining 0-0 draw on Sunday to end their eight-match winning run.

Atalanta’s goalkeeper Juan Musso produced a spectacular save in the first half, before his Inter counterpart Samir Handanovic responded with two crucial interventions of his own after the break.

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» Juric’s death metal approach has made Torino a devilish team to face | Nicky Bandini

Ivan Juric has brought the energy of his musical taste to Torino – who are reaping the rewards of a more destructive style

It has been 12 years since Ivan Juric told an interviewer from Rolling Stone magazine that footballers “don’t know shit about music”. The Croatian was enjoying the final days of his playing career at Genoa, soaking up knowledge from a manager, Gian Piero Gasperini, who would become his greatest influence as he prepared to make his own move into coaching.

Still, Juric harboured one regret. “The only other metal-head I have played with in a 15-year career was an Argentinian goalkeeper at Crotone,” he said. “I started at 14 years old with Metallica and Megadeth, then I moved on to more aggressive things. Death metal is my passion, bands like Napalm Death, Obituary and Carcass.”

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» Sommer’s heroics not enough as Gladbach left looking over their shoulder | Andy Brassell

The Switzerland goalkeeper saved two penalties but Borussia Mönchengladbach still lost out to old rivals Bayer Leverkusen

He should have been a hero for a second straight week, but that’s just not how things are working out for Borussia Mönchengladbach right now. Yann Sommer had already flexed his considerable goalkeeping muscles last week, keeping Bayern Munich at bay to help bring home a famous win. This week, the Switzerland star perhaps even bettered himself.

In Saturday’s late game with Bayer Leverkusen, a perennial rival for the Champions League places in recent years, Sommer saved not one but two penalties in the second half, and they were both great stops, first plunging to his right to deny Patrik Schick and then later to his left to fingertip Kerem Demirbay’s effort. He became the first goalkeeper to deny two penalties in a Bundesliga game since FC Nürnberg’s Raphael Schäfer kept out efforts from Domi Kumbela and Ermin Bicakcic in February 2014. The difference there was that Schäfer’s heroics helped Nürnberg win the game. For Sommer despite that and another of other stops, notably an excellent double save from Amine Adli to keep hope flickering for Gladbach as time ran out, there was no such reward.

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» Relegation fears will grow for Everton unless Moshiri learns from mistakes | Andy Hunter

Sacking of Rafael Benítez has given billionaire owner a clean slate to make structural changes but staying up is the priority

When announcing the departure of Marcel Brands as director of football on 5 December Everton revealed that: “a strategic review of the football structure will now take place which will inform the best model for the club to proceed with in the long-term.” A clean slate to implement the findings has materialised at a most inopportune moment but Farhad Moshiri must capitalise all the same.

As the threat of a relegation fight grows increasingly real at Goodison Park Everton find themselves lacking not only consensus among the hierarchy, a clear football plan and sufficient character within the dressing room. They also have no director of football following the exit of Brands, eight months after he signed a lucrative three-year contract, no head of recruitment and development nor a manager of scouting and operations after the previous incumbents, Gretar Steinsson and Dan Purdy respectively, decided to leave with the Dutchman.

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» ‘I was in shock; it was crazy’: Armando Shashoua on his journey from Spurs to Atlético Baleares

Former Harrow schoolboy has helped his third division side beat two La Liga teams in Spanish Cup and is all set to upset Valencia

The way Armando Shashoua remembers it, the story starts in an abandoned warehouse somewhere in Russia. When it is almost told, the former Tottenham midfielder asks a question of his own. The interview has just finished without inquiring about men such as John McDermott, Justin Cochrane, Matt Wells or Scott Parker, so he says something that says as much about him as it does about them, to which the answer can only be of course: “Is it OK if I talk about the coaches I’ve had, because they’ve been really important to my journey?”

At 21, it’s a journey which has a long way to go: next stop Sunday’s Copa del Rey last-16 tie against Valencia for Atlético Baleares, the Mallorcan side who are the only third-tier club left in the competition, who already knocked out two primera teams. It is also unusual, multinational. Shashoua has Egyptian, American, Venezuelan and Spanish heritage, was born in London, and attended one of the most English institutions of all, a former boarder at Harrow like Lord Byron and Winston Churchill. And his first football memory comes from Syetun, Moscow.

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» How Coventry United battled back from brink of extinction

The Women’s Championship club appeared doomed before Christmas but support from fans and new owners have given them renewed hope for the future

When the players of Coventry United were told training had been cancelled and they should join an online meeting with the club’s directors at 10am two days before Christmas, they had little idea about what was to follow. Sitting one place off the bottom on goal difference, the Championship side had been struggling, but why call this meeting now?

The reality was far worse than anything they could have imagined. Also on the call were accountants from BK Plus, who had been instructed to assist the formal process of putting the club into voluntary liquidation.

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» The Fiver | The most preposterous stoppage-time turnaround since Agüeroooooooo

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A different referee, less out of puff, might have sent off Steven Bergwijn for shoving Caglar Soyuncu in the chest after play-acting for a penalty towards the end of the match between Leicester and Spurs on Wednesday night. But thankfully – although Foxes fans are permitted to demur – Jon Moss, blowing hard after 93 minutes of non-stop action, had little appetite or energy for digging deep into his pocket for the red card, and merely brandished yellow instead. Cue the most preposterous stoppage-time turnaround since Mario Balotelli teed one up for Agüeroooooooo. If only Martin Tyler had been commentating.

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» Football transfer rumours: West Ham leading chase for Ben Brereton Díaz?

Today’s rumours had a communication malfunction

West Ham need a back-up striker for Michail Antonio and David Moyes has identified Blackburn’s Ben Brereton Díaz as a potential target. That’s all well and good, but considering the Stoke-born Chilean superstar has already chipped in with 20 goals to help Blackburn’s promotion push this season, Blackburn are extremely unlikely to let him leave Ewood Park any time soon. Leeds, Brighton and Sevilla are also interested in Brereton Díaz, whose current employers value their man at £25m.

Moyes is also interested in Nat Phillips, who has made just three appearances for Liverpool this season and will be allowed to leave in the current window. Watford have also enquired about the £15m-rated central defender, while Liverpool are about to recall Rhys Williams from a loan spell at Swansea in order to provide cover for a player sick of providing cover.

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» David Squires on … Rafa Benítez’s sacking and the Merseyside blues

Our resident cartoonist on the Spaniard’s Everton departure and the general mess at Goodison Park

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

The two Manchester clubs are on the rise while Arsenal have made signings in an attempt to stop the rot

West Ham battled well to claim a 1-1 draw with Tottenham on Sunday night after Hawa Cissoko put her team in the worst possible position. The Hammers were 1-0 down after 54 minutes and Cissoko, who was responsible for the tackle that led to Spurs’ penalty, was sent off two minutes later for a second yellow card. But West Ham managed to claw back a point in the dying moments through a Kate Longhurst header in the 92nd minute. The comeback highlights the team’s progression as last season they could well have sunk being a goal and a player down. But the resilience displayed in the second half shows how far they have come under Olli Harder and the potential they have for the future. Sarah Rendell

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

James Ward-Prowse enters Beckham territory, time ticks down for Christian Pulisic and Villa Park discovers a new local hero

Expectations were high when Chelsea’s executives shook hands on the £58m deal that brought the much sought-after signature of Christian Pulisic, the man who the club’s director, Marina Granovskaia, hoped would “become an important player for many years to come”. Three years and 95 Chelsea appearances later, the American is yet to match that description and has too rarely given the impression that he might ever do so. At Manchester City he was a non-presence, seeing little of the ball and doing nothing with it when he did. City are about as tough as opponents come but big money demands to be repaid on big occasions. Pulisic has the talent and temperament to deliver in such fixtures – his elegant goal against Liverpool this month was proof of that – but too often he seems content to exist on the periphery of matches rather than bend them to his will. At 23, time is on his side – though the Chelsea hierarchy are not exactly known for their patience. Alex Hess

Match report: Manchester City 1-0 Chelsea

News report: Martial denies refusing to be included in squad

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» Football quiz: three decades of the Premier League

The football writer Richard Foster has set 20 quiz questions for you based on his new book Premier League Nuggets

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» Golden Goal: Ronaldo for Internazionale v Lazio (1998) | Daniel Harris

The 1998 Uefa Cup final witnessed a goal that was probably the greatest moment of Ronaldo’s greatest game

Growing up as a football obsessive, by the time I was 17 I thought I’d seen pretty much everything the game had to offer me. You can probably see how I became a sportswriter.

Around then, I was also spending most weekday evenings hanging about parks, alleyways and pubs to state-alter in one way or another, often under the guise of watching a game. So in the summer of 1996, my parents – who’d spent a decade resisting my pleas to get Teletext – signed up to Sky, sagely rationalising that beaming industrial quantities of sport into our front room would inspire me to take school more seriously.

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» Football quiz: snipers, XXX and the Simpsons – the game on screen

Our friends at The Blizzard have published a new football quiz book. It’s tough. Good luck

Think you know your football? In the first weeks of lockdown The Blizzard started running online quizzes, the result is The Quizzard: The Blizzard Quiz book, which is available in print or digital form. This quiz is a selection of the sort of questions you can expect. It is deliberately hard – this is The Blizzard, after all. Guardian readers can buy a copy of The Quizzard for the reduced price of £6.99 (print version) or £5 (digital) by entering the code GQUIZ at the checkout. Good luck.

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» The strange joys of watching from afar as my U’s conjured up an FA Cup shock | Max Rushden

Seeing Cambridge United stun Newcastle, alone in the middle of the Australian night, I felt every one of the 10,475 miles away

Cambridge United’s goalkeeping hero Dimitar Mitov hoofs a goal kick straight out of play deep in the Newcastle United half. The five minutes of injury time are up. Kieran Trippier throws it infield to Jonjo Shelvey and receives it back – the 39-year-old Wes Hoolahan doing shuttle runs between the two. Finally, the referee blows the full-time whistle – after holding on for those agonising final 20 minutes or so, the U’s have secured perhaps their most famous victory. The camera focuses on the bemused-looking goalscorer Joe Ironside. He grins uncontrollably before being enveloped by his teammates.

I jump out of my chair, clench my fist and just manage to stop myself from emitting the involuntary full-volume “yesssssssssss come aaaaaaaaaaaaaan, fucking get in there” that coincides with any rare moment of Cambridge United success.

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» Kylian Mbappé’s graphic yearning for Real Madrid lays bare PSG’s joyless state | Jonathan Liew

Striker’s open desire to move to Spain is at least partly attributable to the lack of any real fun at Paris Saint-Germain

Over the years, footballers agitating for a transfer have concocted all manner of schemes and ruses in an attempt to secure their dream move. The well-placed media briefing: classic. Refusing to turn up for pre-season training: an old favourite. Few players, however, have gone to the trouble of commissioning and writing a 220-page graphic novel purely for the purpose of earning a move to Real Madrid.

You didn’t need to a be a literature scholar to glimpse the subtext of “Je M’Appelle Kylian”, the comic-book autobiography released by Kylian Mbappé in November in collaboration with the illustrator Faro. The young Mbappé makes no secret of his desire to play for Real Madrid when he is older, to the point where in one early passage he is even visited in a dream by Cristiano Ronaldo and Zinedine Zidane. In the dream, Ronaldo and Mbappé do keepie-uppies while Zidane hands him a freshly laundered white Madrid kit. Later, Mbappé is invited to Madrid for real, an experience he describes as “the best of his life”.

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» Celtic’s latest Japanese buys look a bargain and could set a Scottish trend | John Duerden

Postecoglou has returned to a market he knows well to take Hatate, Maeda and Ideguchi for a total of about £3.5m

‘It is good for us that the owner is Thai,” said Teerasil Dangda not long after he arrived in England in 2007, one of three players from the Land of Smiles to sign for Manchester City. Sven-Göran Eriksson was also grinning, albeit with some bemusement, as he lined up alongside the striker, Suree Sukha and Kiatprawut Saiwaeo, all holding up blue shirts that they would never wear on the pitch. If it was good for Teerasil, now a legend of Thai football, who said he learned a lot in his short time out west, it could have been better. Instead of being brought to Europe by his country’s former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra, he could have been signed by Ange Postecoglou.

Celtic’s manager has brought another Asian trio to a British club, and Daizen Maeda, Reo Hatate and Yosuke Ideguchi, all Japanese, should have more impact at Celtic than their Thai predecessors did at City. The Australian, who led Yokohama F. Marinos to the 2019 J League title, knows exactly how good these players are.

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» The Guardian Footballer of the Year Simon Kjær: ‘Football has become secondary for me’

Denmark and Milan defender reflects on a year in which he helped to save Christian Eriksen’s life and reached a Euros semi-final

The Guardian Footballer of the Year is an award given to a player who has done something remarkable, whether by overcoming adversity, helping others or setting a sporting example by acting with exceptional honesty.

Through the window behind Simon Kjær, a grey November afternoon is dimming and the lights across the Øresund strait are starting to flicker. Boats carry commuters home between Sweden and Denmark, or in reverse; the view is striking and simultaneously mundane, a confluence of inexorable nature and everyday business. Inside, Kjær is reflecting on 12 months in which barely anything came to feel familiar. “Positive, negative, we’ve been through everything,” he says. “All the register of emotions. We had it all.” A pause; a repetition. “We had it all.”

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» Next Generation 2021: 60 of the best young talents in world football

From ‘the next Alphonso Davies’ to Dortmund’s Moukoko, we pick 60 of the most talented players born in 2004. Check the progress of class of 2020 | 2019 | 2018 | 2017 | 2016 | 2015

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» Next Generation 2021: 20 of the best talents at Premier League clubs

We pick the best youngsters at each club born between 1 September 2004 and 31 August 2005*, an age band known as first-year scholars. Check the progress of class of 2020 | 2019 | 2018 | 2017 | 2016

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» From Jadon Sancho to Alexander Isak: what happened to Next Generation 2016?

With the Next Generation 2021 picks out this week we look at the final updates for the class of 2016. How did they fare?

There was a time when going abroad wasn’t cool. It was a time when British footballers stayed at home, worried about how they might fare in Europe and beyond.

Gary Lineker helped to break the mould with his switch – and success – at Barcelona in the 1980s but Ian Rush’s struggles at Juventus around the same time seemed to put off many players.

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