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Football | The Guardian



Football news, results, fixtures, blogs, podcasts and comment on the Premier League, European and World football from the Guardian, the world's leading liberal voice



Published: Tue, 26 Sep 2017 15:15:05 GMT2017-09-26T15:15:05Z

Copyright: Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. 2017
 



Champions League: previews for the big matches this week

Tue, 26 Sep 2017 12:36:27 GMT2017-09-26T12:36:27Z

The form guide and team news for Borussia Dortmund v Real Madrid, Monaco v Porto, PSG v Bayern and Atlético v Chelsea

By Martin Laurence for WhoScored?, part of the Guardian Sport Network

A regular Champions League fixture nowadays, Borussia Dortmund and Real Madrid go into Tuesday’s encounter under very different circumstances, despite both winning at the weekend. Dortmund are top of the Bundesliga, having scored 19 goals in six games, but they are still looking for their first point in the Champions League after their defeat to Tottenham at Wembley. Real Madrid are top of the Champions League group following a comfortable win against Apoel but they are sixth in La Liga, seven points behind Barcelona after just six games.

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Freddy Shepherd, former Newcastle United chairman, dies aged 75

Tue, 26 Sep 2017 13:15:20 GMT2017-09-26T13:15:20Z

• Shepherd was chairman between 1997 and 2007
• Alan Shearer among the first to pay tribute

The former Newcastle chairman Freddy Shepherd has died, his family has announced. He was 75. A pivotal figure in the St James’ Park club’s rise during the 1990s, he was chairman for 10 years from 1997.

Shepherd eventually sold his share of the club to Mike Ashley and recently, along with brother Bruce, was granted the freedom of the city of Newcastle. “Freddy Shepherd, former chairman of Newcastle United and chairman of Shepherd Offshore Group and Triple S Sports & Entertainment Group, sadly passed away peacefully at his home last night,” his family said in a statement. “At this difficult time the family have asked that their privacy be respected.”

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How supporting Everton made Liverpool mayor’s role in new ground a tricky one

Tue, 26 Sep 2017 12:20:00 GMT2017-09-26T12:20:00Z

Joe Anderson has come under fire for giving financial backing to the club’s new stadium but as a man described as a ‘divisive figure’ explains in an exclusive book extract, the decision was made for right and proper reasons

On the wall of Joe Anderson’s resplendent waterfront office is a copy of an oil painting by Walter Richards entitled Modern Liverpool, 1907. Amid the dark industrial colours of Victorian squalor, you can see St Nicholas’s church and its green lawn where bodies were once buried in a plague pit. You can see the red bricks of the nearby Grade II listed Albion House where five years later the names of Titanic’s deceased were read out from a balcony. Nearly all the notable landmarks are there too: the Albert Dock back when it was a working dock rather than a tourist destination as it is now, Lime Street Station and the railway lines leading out towards the soot-covered roofs of Wavertree; the magnificent St George’s Hall and the overhead railway.

What isn’t there is either of the city’s two cathedrals, nor – most significantly – the Cunard Building, where Anderson’s office is currently located. Anderson is taking me around the image, pointing out the changes. “See, the two buildings next to an open plot of land where the Cunard is, are the Port of Liverpool and the Liver Building,” he tells me. “When they went up people objected to them because they were too high. Now, the three buildings are called the Three Graces”.

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The unlikely rise and fall of the strangest village football club in Europe

Tue, 26 Sep 2017 09:07:04 GMT2017-09-26T09:07:04Z

Chmel Blsany – a club from a tiny Czech village – won seven promotions in 25 years, reached the promised land and then disappeared on their 70th birthday

By Andrew Flint for These Football Times, part of the Guardian Sport Network

It was hard to tell what was more disconcerting: the abrupt sign warning that firearms were banned or the eerie emptiness that enveloped the ground. Although piercing sunshine blazed all around, an uneasy chill could be felt at the disrepair and neglect surrounding what must have been the main entrance of the ground. Ticket office windows were smashed, rusting roller shutters were clinging to their fittings and the souvenir shop had clearly not been opened in some time.

Just finding the stadium had been a challenge. Stepping off the bus in the deserted main square, there wasn’t the slightest sign of life, never mind a sign to the home of the local football club. Despite the glorious golden summer drenching the whitewashed church and cobbled pavement, not a soul breathed and not a leaf stirred. A small cluster of plastic tables lay unoccupied outside the only bar in sight as a lone tractor grumbled and rumbled on down the hill, seemingly intent on leaving the sleepy vacuum behind.

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England women look to move into new territory after the Sampson scandal | Suzanne Wrack

Tue, 26 Sep 2017 09:52:44 GMT2017-09-26T09:52:44Z

The huge media attention generated by the England manager’s sacking has demonstrated women’s football is now operating at a different level

As spring drew to a close, many opinion pieces sang about this being the breakthrough summer for women’s sport. With Euro 2017, the women’s Rugby World Cup and the cricket World Cup taking place unobscured by a major men’s competition, coupled with some of the most competitive England teams in recent history, expectations were rightfully high. And the sport did not disappoint. Thrilling performances took place in all three as coverage of women’s sport reached an all-time high. Each England team came away from this summer with their heads held high. Rightfully, the relevant sporting bodies hoped to capitalise on an increase in interest in their sports at the domestic level.

Related: Mark Sampson departs amid a flurry of FA buck-passing and confusion

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Eden Hazard’s portrait of his ideal player: Terry’s leadership and Benteke’s heading

Tue, 26 Sep 2017 10:10:16 GMT2017-09-26T10:10:16Z

From game vision to free kicks, the Chelsea and Belgium forward selects the attributes which make up his perfect footballer

As Eden Hazard prepares to face Atlético Madrid in the Champions League on Wednesday, the Chelsea and Belgium forward has been asked to select a portrait of his ideal player in a feature for France Football magazine. Made up of some of the leading stars in modern football including Cesc Fàbregas and Christian Eriksen, here is a selection of his answers.

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Liverpool and Manchester United fans warned to behave or face ‘long stay in Russia’

Mon, 25 Sep 2017 17:17:02 GMT2017-09-25T17:17:02Z

• Russian Football Union security chief takes tough Champions League stance
• Security teams from English clubs working with Spartak Moscow and CSKA

Liverpool and Manchester United supporters have been warned they face “a long stay in Russia” should trouble occur at their Champions League fixtures in Moscow this week.

The north-west rivals are both in action in the Russian capital, with Jürgen Klopp’s team facing Spartak Moscow on Tuesday and José Mourinho’s side playing CSKA on Wednesday. Security teams from Liverpool and United have been working with their Russian counterparts in an attempt to avoid problems for the estimated 2,000 away fans expected in Moscow.

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Harry's game: the stats firing Kane's ambition to match Messi and Ronaldo

Mon, 25 Sep 2017 21:30:24 GMT2017-09-25T21:30:24Z

The Big Two have rewritten the record books and redefined the concept of productivity, but the Spurs striker is fast achieving superstar status too

To Harry Kane it is a numbers game and, like every football fan in Europe, the Tottenham Hotspur striker is in awe of those posted by two players in particular. You know who they are. There was a time when a goalscorer would be feted for getting 20 in a league season; for reaching a ratio of one in every two matches. That was in the era before Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo.

The Big Two have redefined the concept of productivity. What they have done and are doing is, quite simply, freakish. Messi, for example, has scored 96 goals in 116 Champions League games; Ronaldo 107 in 141. And what about their records in La Liga? Since Ronaldo joined Real Madrid from Manchester United in 2009, he has scored 285 goals in 267 matches. In the corresponding period, Messi has 304 goals in 279 games for Barcelona.

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Homeless Shakhtar Donetsk target another Champions League upset | Barry Glendenning

Mon, 25 Sep 2017 21:26:43 GMT2017-09-25T21:26:43Z

The Ukrainian side, who last played in their own stadium three years ago, shocked Napoli in the first round of games and now travel to Manchester City

Shakhtar Donetsk took little time to hurl the cat among the pigeons in a Champions League group most observers expected to be dominated by Napoli and Manchester City, with the Ukrainian side and Feyenoord making up the numbers. While the Dutch champions duly crumbled at home against City in the last round of fixtures, the Ukrainian side’s 2-1 victory against the Italian league leaders was one of few surprises across the competition.

Shakhtar still have plenty more to do to break the perceived duopoly established at the group stage draw in Monaco a month ago. Next up are City and bookmakers make Paulo Fonseca’s side big-priced outsiders to secure even a draw at the Etihad Stadium against a team who put four past Feyenoord and average more than three goals a game in the Premier League.

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Premier League TV rights: Simon Green backs BT to fend off Silicon Valley threat

Tue, 26 Sep 2017 07:29:36 GMT2017-09-26T07:29:36Z

BT Sport’s main man doubts digital giants such as Facebook, Amazon and Netflix are ready to try and muscle into the broadcasting-rights market

If Simon Green is concerned about the prediction that Premier League TV rights are about to get billions of pounds more expensive then he is not showing it. The head of BT Sport is noticeably anxious but only because it is the broadcaster’s busiest live night in history.

At its cavernous studios on an industrial park in east London, runners and producers buzz around as Gary Lineker records the opening sequence, pausing briefly to pose for a photograph for his Instagram feed. It is the first round of the Champions League with Chelsea, Manchester United and Celtic all at home and a crack team of pundits assembled. Frank Lampard and Rio Ferdinand are already in makeup with Steven Gerrard hurrying down from Liverpool slightly later because he has been coaching the club’s under-18 team.

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Football transfer rumours: Everton now switching sights to Edinson Cavani?

Tue, 26 Sep 2017 08:05:57 GMT2017-09-26T08:05:57Z

Today’s fluff is drawing rings around the world

At some point on Tuesday, a selection plate of M&S sarnies, a couple of jugs of tap water and a sense of weary resignation will be delivered to a conference room somewhere in Goodison Park for the second day in a row. Following them will be Ronald Koeman, various scouts and suits, who will all sit down to work out quite how they managed to spend nearly £150m this summer without bothering to sign a striker who can score goals.

Next on the agenda will be how they did not manage to sign Diego Costa from Chelsea for £70m, if the Daily Mail is to be believed. Third will be whether to dangle a bale of cash over Parc des Princes in the hope of landing Edinson Cavani with their bait – or at least that’s what Tutto Mercato are saying. Finally, they will discuss who takes the club’s penalties if they’re successful.

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The Oumar Niasse appreciation edition – Football Weekly

Mon, 25 Sep 2017 15:39:13 GMT2017-09-25T15:39:13Z

Max Rushden and co review the weekend of Premier League football, the key action around Europe and look ahead to another packed midweek fixture list

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

Max Rushden’s coming fresh out the kitchen to discuss the Premier League weekend just gone, flanked by Barry Glendenning, Gregg Bakowski and Barney Ronay.

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Alexandre Lacazette double earns Arsenal nervy win against West Bromwich Albion

Mon, 25 Sep 2017 23:37:00 GMT2017-09-25T23:37:00Z

With Romelu Lukaku and Álvaro Morata blazing attacking trails since their spotlight Premier League moves, Alexandre Lacazette perhaps would have felt the burn of expectation when he stood over the ball contemplating how he should strike a penalty that seemed like it would be decisive. With Arsenal leading 1-0 against a dogged and aggrieved West Bromwich Albion, who wondered how they had not had a penalty of their own earlier in the game, all eyes were on Arsenal’s new French forward.

Lacazette stood behind the spot wearing the expression of a man contemplating what colour socks to wear that day. If he felt any pressure he certainly did not show it, and duly slammed the ball low and fiercely into the goalkeeper’s bottom-left corner. A pair of predatory goals to win a tense match does Lacazette the world of good as he continues to work his way into Premier League life.

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Sadio Mané returns in Moscow but Klopp puts Liverpool balance before art

Mon, 25 Sep 2017 21:30:24 GMT2017-09-25T21:30:24Z

• Mané, Coutinho, Firmino and Salah all available for Spartak match
• Klopp says Moscow fixture is not the place for ‘all the artists’

Jürgen Klopp seemed genuinely excited by his first visit to Moscow and the formidable police presence that greeted Liverpool’s arrival at Sheremetyevo Airport. The prospect of finally unleashing his most talented attacking quartet provided another adrenalin-rush but Spartak Moscow away, he cautioned, might not be the place for “all the artists”.

Bans, Barcelona and back injuries have prevented the Liverpool manager fielding Philippe Coutinho, Sadio Mané, Roberto Firmino and Mohamed Salah from the start of a competitive fixture this season. They shared seven minutes on the pitch in the opening Champions League draw with Sevilla but not since the defeat of Bayern Munich in the Audi Cup on 1 August has the fluid foursome opened a contest for Klopp. That may change at the Otkrytie Arena, home of the struggling champions of Russia, although there was a pragmatism to the Liverpool manager as he considered his impressive options for the second game in Group E.

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England players to be questioned over Mark Sampson racism allegation

Mon, 25 Sep 2017 19:06:45 GMT2017-09-25T19:06:45Z

• Key witnesses to alleged comment will finally give evidence
• Barrister appointed by FA has already spoken to Drew Spence

Katharine Newton, the barrister in charge of the controversial inquiry into Mark Sampson’s conduct as England Women’s manager, has changed her position behind the scenes and intends to interview the three players who have been identified as key witnesses but were overlooked for her initial investigation.

Newton has already spoken to Drew Spence as part of the reopened inquiry and the Guardian has learned the barrister, heavily criticised for her initial three‑month investigation, will now meet two Manchester City players, Jill Scott and Izzy Christiansen, and Reading’s Jo Potter, to establish what Sampson allegedly said in a meeting during the China Cup in October 2015.

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Kyle Walker happy Sergio Agüero is in same side as ‘facing him was nightmare’

Mon, 25 Sep 2017 16:35:39 GMT2017-09-25T16:35:39Z

• Agüero needs one goal to equal Eric Brook’s Manchester City scoring record
• Argentinian likely to be rejoined by Gabriel Jesus against Shakhtar Donetsk

Sergio Agüero needs one more goal to equal Eric Brook’s 78-year-old Manchester City scoring record and there are not many people at the club who imagine the Argentinian is going to hang around for long on his present tally of 176.

No one is a bigger fan of the striker than Kyle Walker, who says it a joy to be playing behind Agüero after years of struggling to contain him.

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Crystal Palace’s Christian Benteke set to miss six weeks with knee injury

Mon, 25 Sep 2017 16:24:44 GMT2017-09-25T16:24:44Z

• Belgium striker sustained minor ligament damage on Saturday
• Palace face striker shortage after failing to sign back-up option

Crystal Palace’s hopes of recovering from their abysmal start to the Premier League season have been dealt a blow with news that their record signing, Christian Benteke, is expected to miss around six weeks with the knee injury he sustained in the loss at Manchester City on Saturday.

The Belgium forward limped out of the 5-0 loss at the Etihad Stadium after 72 minutes, with Roy Hodgson confirming afterwards that he will miss the trip to Old Trafford this weekend. Benteke was sent on Monday to see a specialist, who has confirmed that the player purchased last year from Liverpool for an initial £26m has sustained minor ligament damage and is likely to be out for more than a month.

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Chelsea’s Antonio Conte: I miss Italy and I’ll be home before long

Mon, 25 Sep 2017 11:46:51 GMT2017-09-25T11:46:51Z

• ‘Italy is my homeland – I’ll be back,’ says Chelsea coach
• Conte bemoans ‘hardest Champions League group’ with Roma and Atlético

Antonio Conte has admitted that he misses Italy and plans to return to his homeland in the near future, saying that though his experience with Chelsea has been overwhelmingly positive there is “not a doubt in my mind that I will be home before long”.

During an interview with the Italian radio station RadioUno, Conte spoke at length about his feelings for Italy. “I miss it, that’s beyond doubt,” he said. “Italy is my homeland, so once I have had some good experiences, formative experiences, important and life-changing experiences, I’ll be back. I don’t know when but that’s the aim.”

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Drew Spence puts Mark Sampson saga to one side to inspire Chelsea win

Sun, 24 Sep 2017 12:37:19 GMT2017-09-24T12:37:19Z

• Midfielder scores opening goal in 6-0 thrashing of Bristol City
• Spence is at the centre of investigation into sacked England manager

Chelsea Ladies thrashed Bristol City in their opening game of the Women’s Super League season as questions accumulated for the Football Association over its handling of the Mark Sampson saga.

Drew Spence, one of the women at the centre of the investigation into discrimination allegations against the sacked England manager Sampson, scored the opening goal as Chelsea beat Bristol 6-0.

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Fifa set to reverse controversial poppy ban for home-nations teams

Sun, 24 Sep 2017 21:30:04 GMT2017-09-24T21:30:04Z

• Decision would allow shirts or armbands to display poppy symbol
• Ban could be lifted in time for England’s proposed friendly against Germany

Fifa is set to lift its controversial ban on the home nations teams wearing poppies on their shirts or armbands in time for England’s proposed friendly against Germany the evening before Armistice Day.

There was widespread annoyance last year when the world game’s governing body fined the English, Scottish, Welsh and Northern Irish football associations after all defied the ban and players wore poppy-printed armbands during World Cup qualifying matches.

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Thibaut Courtois confident resurgent Chelsea are hitting form at right time

Sun, 24 Sep 2017 21:30:04 GMT2017-09-24T21:30:04Z

• Champions face Atlético Madrid and Manchester City this week
• Eden Hazard still easing back from the bench after ankle injury

If there were any Chelsea fans still worrying whether they would make a better fist of defending their Premier League title than the previous attempt, the clinical way in which Antonio Conte’s side dispatched Stoke City on Saturday has surely dispelled those doubts.

A third successive away win courtesy of Álvaro Morata’s brilliant hat-trick ensured they remain within touching distance of the two Manchester clubs at the top of the nascent table, even if Conte will be more than happy to remain the shadows for now.

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Oumar Niasse finally measures up for Ronald Koeman’s underachievers

Sun, 24 Sep 2017 21:29:04 GMT2017-09-24T21:29:04Z

• Niasse arrives from bench to give Everton win over Bournemouth
• His attitude was perfect, says Blues manager Koeman

Oumar Niasse collected his man-of-the-match award and left Goodison Park wearing an Everton tracksuit on Saturday. Nothing remarkable there – he is, despite Ronald Koeman’s best efforts, still an Everton player after all – although the striker’s attire underlined the speed of his transformation from outcast to saviour. Unlike his team-mates, Niasse does not have a club suit to wear.

The Senegal international was not part of Koeman’s squad when they were fitted for suits in the summer but Everton have ordered one for their £13.5m signing in time for Burnley’s visit on Sunday. It is the least they can do. The manager should ensure it is tailored to perfection, and leave a thank you note in the pocket.

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European roundup: Milan beaten by Sampdoria as Serie A struggles go on

Sun, 24 Sep 2017 18:35:00 GMT2017-09-24T18:35:00Z

• Duván Zapata and Ricky Álvarez condemn Milan to defeat
• Barcelona claim sixth win, Dortmund top Bundesliga

Milan’s problems with consistency continued as a poor performance saw it lose 2-0 at Sampdoria in Serie A on Sunday. Milan didn’t even have a shot on target as late goals from Duván Zapata and substitute Ricky Álvarez condemned the Rossoneri to their second defeat of the season.

“Samp were superior to us and deserved the victory,” the Milan coach Vincenzo Montella said. “We didn’t perform. We were insufficient on a mental level and in our determination as well as technically. It’s a defeat which hurts us and we will have to understand why it happened. We’ll need to analyse everything without hiding ourselves.”

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Football League: Alfred N’Diaye winner sees Wolves keep pace at summit

Sat, 23 Sep 2017 18:34:33 GMT2017-09-23T18:34:33Z

• Wolves, Leeds and Cardiff all win to create four-point table-top buffer
• Shrewsbury are Football League’s last unbeaten side as Exeter finally lose

• These are still early days, yet it is hard to ignore the four-point cushion the top three sides have built themselves. Leeds, Wolves and Cardiff all survived close calls, and ultimately all won, to find themselves level on 20 points with the rest looking up. Leeds benefited from a slice of fortune when Bartosz Bialkowski, Ipswich’s goalkeeper and player of the season last term, spilled a corner over his goal-line and a flash on referee Geoff Eltringham’s watch confirmed the error. That put Leeds 3-1 up at a time when Ipswich had their hosts under pressure and, despite Joe Garner’s reply, the home side held on for a 3-2 win.

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A weekend of football passion, rivalry and animosity – photo essay

Mon, 25 Sep 2017 15:41:48 GMT2017-09-25T15:41:48Z

The Guardian photographer Tom Jenkins takes in three emotionally charged football matches over three days and captures all the colour and passion as AFC Wimbledon take on MK Dons, Tottenham Hotspur visit West Ham and Sheffield Wednesday face Sheffield United in the Steel City derby

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Federico Chiesa a chip off the old block as Serie A youngsters flourish | Paolo Bandini

Mon, 25 Sep 2017 12:14:50 GMT2017-09-25T12:14:50Z

The son of Enrico Chiesa shone in Fiorentina’s draw with Atalanta to further justify optimism in Italy about the young talent emerging there

The bar has always been set high for Federico Chiesa. At 19 years old, he is a fixture of Fiorentina’s starting XI and has already played one unofficial friendly with the Italian national team. And yet, during an interview with La Repubblica, he suggested it may be some time before he considers himself a top-flight footballer. “My dad once told me: you become a Serie A player when you have made at least 300 appearances,” he observed.

An outrageous standard, albeit one founded on personal experience. Federico’s father Enrico played 380 games in the domestic top-flight, representing Fiorentina but also the likes of Sampdoria, Parma and Lazio. Along the way, he won 17 caps for the Azzurri and was named Serie A’s player of the year in 1995-96 by the magazine Guerin Sportivo.

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Marco Silva’s proactivity and patience are key to Watford transformation | Lawrence Ostlere

Mon, 25 Sep 2017 13:40:42 GMT2017-09-25T13:40:42Z

The anticipation of half-time changes by Swansea and being prepared to wait for his resulting new system to bed in while giving instructions from the sideline could be a defining weapon

How many other Premier League managers would have done what Marco Silva did? Watford were 1-0 up and looking comfortable against Swansea City on Saturday when half-time came. In the home dressing room at the Liberty Stadium, Paul Clement prepared two substitutions in an attempt to turn the game. In the away dressing room, Silva anticipated the changes and reacted by ditching the four-man defence Watford had used in every minute of the season so far to play three at the back.

“We changed at half-time as we know they will do this change to three up front,” Silva reflected. “They started to react in the last minutes of the first half. They changed in the second half to two strikers with [Jordan] Ayew in behind – three strong players to challenge in duels. We changed things in half-time as well, to prepare for this situation.”

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Diego Costa and the new Atlético. Same as the old Atlético | Sid Lowe

Mon, 25 Sep 2017 09:36:56 GMT2017-09-25T09:36:56Z

For the first time, Diego Simeone is playing the rotation game. It also reflects something deeper, something seen more as the beginning of a transition

At 9.30am, the same time they started serving breakfast at Atlético’s, Diego Costa walked into a Majadahonda clinic across the other side of Madrid, but he wasn’t going to be kept from them for long. He had barely been in the country 15 hours, touching down just before five on Friday, and he was only in the clinic 60 minutes or so, most of it spent getting reacquainted with familiar faces. There were no photos, shirt off, suckers on, thumbs up, and when he was asked if he had passed his medical he pointed to the doctor and said “I don’t know, he knows”, but he was beaming. He stopped for a snap with a Málaga fan nursing a broken and bandaged arm and leg, like something out of a cartoon, then climbed into the car and set off 33km round the M40.

Outside the Wanda Metropolitano some were still drinking hot chocolate and eating churros, offered in an attempt to get them there early ahead of the 1pm kick-off on Saturday, while others had moved on to beer. Not far away lay the plaques dedicated to Costa and everyone who had played for Atlético 100 times; he hadn’t seen his yet, but fans gathered taking photos. Inside, friends waited. As he had touched down the day before at Barajas – the only airport named after a member of the A Team – Costa said he was coming “home”. Tiago was at the gate, Diego Godín greeted him in the tunnel – “Welcome, my friend. You’re home now,” he tweeted – and Filipe Luís was delighted too. Afterwards, he said: “I’m immensely proud Diego has chosen Atlético.”

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

Mon, 25 Sep 2017 07:53:11 GMT2017-09-25T07:53:11Z

Sean Dyche was worked up about nothing, Mark Hughes hopes life for Stoke will get easier and Ronald Koeman played his last cards to get Everton out of trouble

If Brighton survive this season – and they survived this game thanks to several Newcastle misses and some good goalkeeping – there is every chance we will be talking about the signing of Pascal Gross as a masterstroke. The German midfielder with a picture-perfect delivery has been involved in all of Brighton’s Premier League goals, and was instrumental again at the Amex in the 1-0 win over Newcastle when his free-kick homed in on Dale Stephens, who headed down for Tomer Hemed to finish. The value of an accurate set-piece taker cannot be overlooked in a squad short on goalscorers and one suspects there will be plenty more of those well-rehearsed moves. Ingolstadt were relegated despite Gross creating more chances than any other Bundesliga player; Chris Hughton will hope his creative streak delivers safety for Brighton. Lawrence Ostlere

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Bayer Leverkusen's identity crisis nearing an end as entertainers emerge | Andy Brassell

Mon, 25 Sep 2017 11:29:11 GMT2017-09-25T11:29:11Z

After a season close to the abyss, Bayer Leverkusen’s rebuilding job has begun in earnest this season and is slowly showing signs of promise

For a long time, we’ve known exactly what Bayer Leverkusen are about. They impress, they entertain, they qualify for Europe and achieve to a certain level without actually getting it over the line. The old ‘Neverkusen’ epithet from the Klaus Toppmöller days has endured well.

Last season, and the summer that followed, changed all that. The Roger Schmidt era, which had given Die Werkself a firm on-pitch identity, fell to pieces and the club dropped the ball badly in appointing Tayfun Korkut as his successor – at exactly the point where a strong personality was needed to galvanise the players. In between wan performances, poor results and players meeting angry fans to appease them, Leverkusen came worryingly close to the drop.

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For New York City FC, there's literally no place like home

Mon, 25 Sep 2017 16:59:03 GMT2017-09-25T16:59:03Z

NYCFC’s ‘home’ game 110 miles from their temporary home ground reaffirmed the fact that one of the league’s star clubs are still without a permanent home

It was billed as a home game, but it was the loosest definition of the term. Even Patrick Vieira admitted as much. “We treated it like an away game,” the New York City FC head coach said.

On Saturday, New York City fans endured up to seven-hour round trips to East Hartford, Connecticut, for their ‘home’ game against the Houston Dynamo, a match they drew 1-1.

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Sheffield United's derby delight prompts questions over Wednesday's attitude

Mon, 25 Sep 2017 09:39:23 GMT2017-09-25T09:39:23Z

As good as Sheffield United were in trouncing their Steel City neighbours 4-2, Sheffield Wednesday’s tendency to disappear in big games is a concern

With a few minutes remaining of the first Sheffield derby in five years, Chris Wilder congratulated and high-fived everyone on the United bench. By that point the job was done, the scoreline at 4-2 and Wednesday’s spirit crushed: this was United’s most comprehensive derby win in 25 years and the first time they have scored four at Hillsborough.

Unsurprisingly Wilder, a Blades fan who watched his first derby from the terraces 37 years ago, described it as the proudest moment of his career.

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Brighton’s Chris Hughton serves up reminder of lost art of defence | Jonathan Wilson

Mon, 25 Sep 2017 07:00:07 GMT2017-09-25T07:00:07Z

In the 1-0 win over Newcastle both managers set up their teams not to lose and, while their organisation was impressive, it was at the cost of attacking flair

Sometimes straightforward virtues are the best. In a Premier League that at times seems to have all but given up anything resembling traditional defending, there was something almost comforting about a clash between two sides who play in such a familiar, unpretentious way. This was a reminder of simpler virtues, a world in which the greatest aspiration is to be compact, and produced a sort of mutually assured self-neutralisation, a game in which flair was all but absent and, where it did exist, confined to a tiny sliver on the flanks. That the one goal came from a set piece was entirely appropriate.

The free-kick that produced the goal five minutes into the second half was in part a result of the Brighton left-back Markus Suttner pushing forward and linking with Tomer Hemed on the left, which always looked the most likely source of a breakthrough for Brighton. There seemed a fairly clear plan from the start to isolate DeAndre Yedlin, the Newcastle right-back, against Solly March. It was the 23-year-old’s cross, after Newcastle had been opened up by a burst from Anthony Knockaert, that led to the Pascal Gross shot that cannoned to safety off Knockaert and then his cross-shot, cutting inside, that drew an awkward sprawling save from Rob Elliot.

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Jürgen Klopp’s wide-eyed entertainers likely to win more admirers than medals | Jacob Steinberg

Sun, 24 Sep 2017 21:30:04 GMT2017-09-24T21:30:04Z

Liverpool’s helter-skelter win over Leicester was a thrilling spectacle but suggested a side lacking the ruthless streak that defines title-winners

As selection headaches go, it is not exactly as nagging as having to choose between Fabio Borini and Rickie Lambert. Nor is it like living in fear of Fernando Torres picking up an injury that leaves David N’Gog as the squad’s only fit forward. Unlike his predecessors Jürgen Klopp is not weighed down by such concerns. Instead Liverpool’s manager has what he might describe as the rather cool dilemma of working out how to make the most of his enviable attacking options now that Sadio Mané is free from suspension and Philippe Coutinho is showing why Barcelona targeted him in the summer.

Klopp will have terrific fun arranging his forwards. Whom to leave out? Coutinho, the scorer of a stunning free-kick in Saturday’s 3-2 win over Leicester City, looks untouchable. But Mohamed Salah, who scored the opener with a header from Coutinho’s cross, is electric on the right, Mané’s potent speed terrifies defences and Roberto Firmino knits it all together with his slippery movement off the ball. The extra competition even seems to be stirring Daniel Sturridge, who came off the bench at the King Power Stadium to set up Jordan Henderson for Liverpool’s decisive third goal. Maybe the solution is to restore Mané against Spartak Moscow on Tuesday and turn Coutinho into Liverpool’s Andrés Iniesta by pulling him into midfield at the expense of Emre Can or Georginio Wijnaldum.

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Slaven Bilic feeling the heat after Spurs shine glaring light on West Ham flaws | David Hytner

Sun, 24 Sep 2017 21:30:04 GMT2017-09-24T21:30:04Z

Coach retains fans’ goodwill but the way his side flirted with humiliation against Tottenham was ominous for a man aware of the harsh realities of his profession

Slaven Bilic knows how it goes in his line of work. Once a manager is in danger, once the narrative becomes entrenched, it can begin to feel like the long kiss goodbye. “Once that’s opened, then it basically doesn’t stop,” the West Ham manager said after his team’s 3-2 home defeat against Tottenham Hotspur on Saturday. “Game by game or two games by two games – it’s the way it is in modern football. Once you open that page …”

Bilic turned that page last season, when only a 1-0 win against Spurs with three games to go persuaded the West Ham hierarchy to stick with him. But three successive Premier League defeats at the start of this season ensured that the mention of his name were prefaced by words like “under-fire” and “beleaguered”.

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Manchester United’s ugly win the perfect preparation for CSKA Moscow mission | Ben Fisher

Sun, 24 Sep 2017 17:08:48 GMT2017-09-24T17:08:48Z

Southampton victory shows José Mourinho’s men have rediscovered their ruthless streak just as a testing month of fixtures looms

For more than half an hour, José Mourinho sat waiting on the Manchester United team coach outside St Mary’s doubtless basking in the comfort of a job well done after extending his side’s unbeaten run to eight matches. They displayed a callous efficiency and a charming stubbornness in an unforgiving and occasionally ugly performance that earned United victory and a fifth clean sheet in six Premier League matches. Romelu Lukaku, though, was still stationed inside in doping control, and, such is the ruthlessness of this United team at present, they left for Southampton airport without him.

Lukaku was ultimately the match‑winner but this was a result built upon steely foundations. Chris Smalling and Daley Blind offered late reinforcements and by the end United had six defenders on the pitch and sometimes eight, nine or even 10 men behind the ball. Lukaku was left estranged for large parts of the second half as a rejuvenated Southampton penned in the visitors.

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Liverpool's Jürgen Klopp baffled by bizarre Spartak Moscow press conference – video

Tue, 26 Sep 2017 13:47:46 GMT2017-09-26T13:47:46Z

The Liverpool manager Jürgen Klopp appeared frustrated and bemused as he answered several strange questions in the press conference to preview the Spartak Moscow game. Klopp was asked whether he 'loves' his players, a reference to a comment made by Mauricio Pochettino in which he said that he is 'in love with' Harry Kane.

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'We've not had a penalty for over a year,' says West Brom's Tony Pulis – video

Tue, 26 Sep 2017 10:39:52 GMT2017-09-26T10:39:52Z

In the wake of his West Brom side's 2-0 defeat to Arsenal on Monday night, manager Tony Pulis started his post-match press conference by saying he did not want to discuss the referee Bobby Madley, before criticising several of his decisions. Pulis pointed out that West Brom have not been awarded a penalty for over a year, and bemoaned several decisions which he implied cost them the chance to win the game.

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'Liverpool are not the Harlem Globetrotters,' says Jürgen Klopp – video

Sun, 24 Sep 2017 14:25:39 GMT2017-09-24T14:25:39Z

Following Liverpool's back-and-forth 3-2 win over Leicester, Jürgen Klopp made no apologies for his team's mistakes but made it clear that winning is paramount, above 'playing beautiful football'. Leicester's Craig Shakespeare betrayed a little annoyance at being told his team had been part of a 'great game'

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This is just the start, says Mourinho after Manchester United win again – video

Sat, 23 Sep 2017 18:09:57 GMT2017-09-23T18:09:57Z

José Mourinho insists it is ‘just the start’ after Manchester United’s win at Southampton on Saturday, the club’s fifth in six league games so far this season. Romelu Lukalu scored the only goal of the game as United ran out 1-0 winners on the south coast

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Tottenham's Pochettino: 'I'm in love with Harry Kane' – video

Sat, 23 Sep 2017 15:26:02 GMT2017-09-23T15:26:02Z

Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino praises Harry Kane following the club’s 3-2 win over West Ham on Saturday saying he is ‘in love’ with the striker. Kane netted twice in the win and now has four league goals this season. ‘I am in love, the fans are in love, teammates are in love,’ says Pochettino

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Harder to miss: striker in Romania fails to score from two yards – video

Thu, 21 Sep 2017 15:45:11 GMT2017-09-21T15:45:11Z

Salim Cissé, striker for Romanian side Politehnica Iasi, can't believe his bad luck in managing to miss a chance from two yards out in the Liga I meeting with Botosani on Wednesday night. With his team 3-2 down late on, Cissé looks certain to score but the ball hits his thigh and balloons over the crossbar. Much to his relief Politehnica Iasi salvaged an equaliser shortly after and the game ended 3-3

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FA chief executive explains Mark Sampson sacking – video

Thu, 21 Sep 2017 09:06:13 GMT2017-09-21T09:06:13Z

Martin Glenn, chief executive of the Football Association, explains why Mark Sampson was sacked as manager of the England Women’s side. Glenn says the decision was taken in relation to Sampson 'overstepping the boundaries between coach and player' while in a previous role at Bristol Academy. 'The complaint that was dealt with was seen through the lens of safeguarding,' he adds

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Rio Ferdinand announces move into boxing – video

Tue, 19 Sep 2017 14:34:05 GMT2017-09-19T14:34:05Z

Former Manchester United footballer Rio Ferdinand is to start training to become a professional boxer. He will be trained by former World Boxing Council super-middleweight champion Richie Woodhall, who expects Ferdinand to slot into the cruiserweight division, one below heavyweight. His training will be supported by Betfair for its 'Defender to Contender' project 

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The best and worst social media transfer announcements – video

Fri, 01 Sep 2017 13:06:54 GMT2017-09-01T13:06:54Z

Announcing new club signings with quirky and inventive videos on social media was the hottest trend of the summer transfer window. Here we take a look at some of the more memorable examples, from John Terry’s invitation to join the Aston Villa Whatsapp group to Jesús Navas being ‘kidnapped’ at Sevilla

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Transfer deadline day: how it all unfolded – video report

Thu, 31 Aug 2017 22:55:40 GMT2017-08-31T22:55:40Z

From Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain joining Liverpool to Alexis Sanchez and Ross Barkley staying put at Arsenal and Everton respectively, recap all of the biggest deals from transfer deadline day

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Marcelo Bielsa loses his cool as Lille's season goes from bad to worse

Mon, 25 Sep 2017 13:40:33 GMT2017-09-25T13:40:33Z

Lille have slipped into the relegation zone after their 4-0 defeat to Monaco but Marcelo Bielsa is not for quitting

By Adam White and Eric Devin for Get French Football News

Lille’s 4-0 defeat to Monaco on Friday leaves them 18th in Ligue 1 with no wins and just a single goal since the opening weekend of the season. They began the campaign the way they finished last season – by beating Nantes 3-0 – but they have been blunt, lethargic and brittle since then. Their manager has taken a lot of criticism from the press but he came out fighting this weekend: “I will not leave this club, even if we have to fight relegation until the last day of the championship – unless I am relieved of my responsibilities by the club. I am ready to deal with whatever I will be faced with, because I know what it means to suffer in defeat.”

Bielsa’s reputation for eccentricity has only intensified in the last few seasons. He resigned from his job at Marseille just before the start of the 2015-16 season and he left Lazio after just two days in charge last summer. When asked last week if he would quit at Lille, like he had done at Marseille, he was insulted by the question: “If I resigned from Marseille three days before the beginning of the league, it is because Marseille’s owner’s lawyer, a Russian man, and another man named Philippe Perez, came to tell me that I would have a 10% salary reduction, without providing any argument for it. ‘But do not take it personally, because it is not against you. We will take away 10% from your colleagues.’ So I responded with the following question: ‘Are you sure about what you are doing? You represent the president and owner of the club?’ They responded: ‘Yes sir.’ Very well then, thank you very much. So I left.”

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Ashley Cole still burns: forgotten man will not forget his English foes | Ewan Murray

Sun, 24 Sep 2017 09:30:41 GMT2017-09-24T09:30:41Z

The LA Galaxy left-back is living a relatively quiet life in Hollywood but still blames the English press for the negative perception of him in his homeland

Confirmation that LA Galaxy have failed in their quest to reach the MLS play-offs may arrive on Sunday. If not, such news will not have to wait much longer. Twenty-nine regular season games thus far have returned just 27 points. Galaxy are second bottom of the Western Conference, an embarrassing scenario for a club defined by celebrity and success, to the point where almost $4m per year is currently bestowed upon Giovani dos Santos as a base salary and five MLS Cups are housed at the StubHub Center, where David Beckham used to be their most celebrated playing star.

Galaxy’s latest capitulation took place here in Atlanta on Wednesday, where they were 4-0 – and a man – down by half-time. Atlanta United, such a success on and off the field in this, their debut MLS season, did not need to bother adding to the scoreline. Sigi Schmid, who has endured a fraught time since returning as Galaxy’s head coach in late July, bemoaned a “lack of focus” in a defence that was pulled apart by Atlanta’s menacing front four.

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Outrage as Sam Kerr omitted from Fifa world player of the year shortlist

Sat, 23 Sep 2017 02:41:55 GMT2017-09-23T02:41:55Z

The Matildas striker has starred for club and country but her omission has sparked anger from fellow players and fans alike

Forget Messi v Ronaldo, the big controversy about Fifa’s world player of the year award is that Matildas star Sam Kerr has not made the final shortlist for the women’s award.

Related: Matildas win hearts of nation with heady mix of fight, grit, heart, skill and passion | Ann Odong

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'Sunil Gulati has an agenda – to stay in power in US Soccer and that is it'

Fri, 22 Sep 2017 15:35:43 GMT2017-09-22T15:35:43Z

Eric Wynalda, the former USA forward turned commentator, says he is ready to ‘roll up his sleeves’ and challenge Sunil Gulati for the role of US Soccer president

Eric Wynalda doesn’t yet know if he will run for president of the United States Soccer Federation next year but he does know something has to change at the top of the sport in America.

Wynalda, apparently, is not alone. After 11 unchallenged years as USSF president, incumbent Sunil Gulati will face at least two – and possibly more – declared rivals at an election in February.

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Real Betis keep their heads to leave Real Madrid assessing early-season damage | Sid Lowe

Thu, 21 Sep 2017 13:21:47 GMT2017-09-21T13:21:47Z

Thirty-five different teams over 73 games stretching back almost 18 months had tried and failed to stop Real Madrid scoring. Real Betis went one better

Manchester United couldn’t do it, Manchester City couldn’t do it and Bayern Munich couldn’t do it. Juventus couldn’t do it either. Nor could Borussia Dortmund, Napoli or Sporting Lisbon. The other Sporting, from Gijón, couldn’t do it. They came from Mexico, Japan, Poland and Cyprus and failed too. Barcelona tried four times but they couldn’t do it. Sevilla and Atlético had five goes each. Nope, no good. Along came Valencia, Deportivo and Celta, Osasuna, Espanyol and Villarreal, but they couldn’t do it and nor could Las Palmas, Eibar, Athletic, Cultural, Granada, Málaga, Alavés or Leganés. Real Betis, on the other hand, could. In fact, on Wednesday night they only went and did something even better.

Thirty-five different teams from eight different countries had tried over 73 games and six competitions stretching back almost 18 months and none of them had stopped Real Madrid scoring, but Betis were almost there. There was still time for it to slip away, especially against the team with a thing for agonising late goals and they were nervous but they were near. It was 11.47pm and the scoreboard at the Santiago Bernabéu, like scoreboards everywhere, had stopped on 90 minutes – information denied when it’s most needed. Alongside, it read: Madrid 0-0 Betis. The board went up: five minutes, one last bugle call, a record awaiting, fans screaming at them to pour forward.

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Napoli have never looked more ready under Sarri to challenge for Serie A title | Paolo Bandini

Thu, 21 Sep 2017 11:14:16 GMT2017-09-21T11:14:16Z

The brilliance of Napoli’s front three – Dries Mertens, José Callejón and Lorenzo Insigne – should not blind us to the quality running through the side

Maurizio Sarri did not feel anxious as he headed for the tunnel. His team was a goal down to an in-form Lazio, who had already beaten Juventus and thrashed Milan in the past six weeks. And yet, the Napoli manager told his players to change nothing. Just keep doing what you’re doing, lads, and things will turn out right in the end.

Or, at least, that’s the way he told it afterwards. Only those individuals present in the Stadio Olimpico’s away changing room can know whether Sarri’s team-talk truly was as zen as he claimed. What we can say is this: he was entitled to have faith in his team.

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James Rodríguez shows value to Ancelotti in Bayern stroll at Schalke | Andy Brassell

Thu, 21 Sep 2017 10:01:32 GMT2017-09-21T10:01:32Z

Now, perhaps, James Rodríguez is the way by which Carlo Ancelotti will finally impress a version of his personality on Bayern Munich

The Bundesliga’s first Englische Woche – as they call a midweek programme of fixtures in Germany – of the season always hands out a few opportunities to unlikely heroes, as head coaches mix it up in the midst of a busy programme. Carlo Ancelotti, with a prestige Champions League meeting against former club Paris Saint-Germain, is no different, and accordingly made six changes for Bayern Munich’s Tuesday trip to Schalke, the standout fixture of the round.

One was enforced, with Sven Ulreich taking his position between the posts on the day it was announced Manuel Neuer would be out until January with another foot injury, suffered in training on Monday and which has required surgery. Yet if most eyes at the Veltins Arena were trained on the replacement goalkeeper (who began this week with a grand total of seven Bundesliga appearances for Bayern since arriving in summer 2015), the limelight was quickly wrested away from him by one of the other stand-ins.

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Carlos Tevez: Chinese players ‘aren’t skilled’ and ‘even in 50 years, won’t compete’

Thu, 21 Sep 2017 12:00:20 GMT2017-09-21T12:00:20Z

• Shanghai Shenhua forward hits back after chairman suggested he was unfit
• Tevez has scored only three goals in 13 CSL appearances

Carlos Tevez has hit back at suggestions from Shanghai Shenhua’s chairman that he is unfit to play, describing Chinese players as “not naturally skilled” and doubting whether they will be able to compete with the best nations “even in 50 years”.

Related: Carlos Tevez's big-money move to China has proved an expensive mistake

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Zinedine Zidane rues missed chances as Real Madrid lose at home to Real Betis

Thu, 21 Sep 2017 08:29:56 GMT2017-09-21T08:29:56Z

• Antonio Sanabria winner leaves Real seven points behind Barcelona
• ‘The ball just didn’t go in,’ says Zidane as 73-match scoring run ends

Zinedine Zidane lamented Real Madrid’s home form as the defending Spanish and European champions slipped to a surprise 1-0 defeat by Real Betis on Wednesday.

The result means Real are without a win in their three league games at the Bernabéu this season, having also drawn with Valencia and Levante. Zidane’s side are seventh in the table, seven points behind the leaders, Barcelona, who are the only side left in La Liga with a perfect record after five games.

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Matildas win hearts of nation with heady mix of fight, grit, heart, skill and passion | Ann Odong

Wed, 20 Sep 2017 18:00:11 GMT2017-09-20T18:00:11Z

They are role models for young girls but their attributes have also appealed to young boys, made converts of sceptical men and made women all over proud

Australians love a winner. What they love even more is a winner who competes in the Australian way; a winner who demonstrates fight, grit, heart, skill and most of all passion for the green and gold jersey and its crest.

That is the Matildas. That has always been the Matildas. Since they played their first international match back in 1979 against Trans-Tasman rivals New Zealand, the players who pulled on the Australian women’s national team jersey did so for a love of the game and representing their nation.

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FA’s Dan Ashworth must answer questions and not vanish from Mark Sampson saga

Sat, 23 Sep 2017 18:59:24 GMT2017-09-23T18:59:24Z

The technical director is up to his neck in this tale yet he ducked the press conference on the sacking of the England Women coach

Nobody can say we weren’t warned. Football at its highest level has always been run differently from your average major business and this is hardly the first time that the people who profess to run the sport have turned on a spit of public ridicule. “Beware of the clever, sharp men who are creeping into the game,” William McGregor, founder of the Football League, put it in League Football and the Men Who Made it. And that was in 1909.

It has certainly felt that way watching the Football Association stagger through the various stages of the Mark Sampson debacle and the considerable feat of Martin Glenn’s inadequate regime to add several new layers to a story that already featured racism allegations, hush-money payments and the unmistakable stench of a cover-up going all the way to the top of the organisation.

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The making of Gabriel Jesus: how the humble kid from São Paulo became a superstar

Fri, 22 Sep 2017 11:34:18 GMT2017-09-22T11:34:18Z

The Manchester City striker has risen from the favelas thanks to two guiding lights, his mother and his first coach, who have kept his feet firmly on the ground

Gabriel Jesus’s childhood football coach, José Francisco Mamede, was the least surprised of anyone when the boy‑faced wonder exploded on to the Premier League scene with Manchester City in February against West Ham United.

“I always knew he would turn out to be a top professional. When we had him as a boy I predicted he would turn pro, play for Brazil and get a big overseas transfer. It all happened exactly as I knew it would. Well, it looks like I need to make another prediction now: Gabriel Jesus will win the Ballon d’Or within three years.”

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England’s alternative history: World Cup winners under Alex Ferguson | Barney Ronay

Fri, 22 Sep 2017 16:13:05 GMT2017-09-22T16:13:05Z

For all the soul-searching about the English game’s institutional failings, the mood might be very different if Alex Ferguson had left Manchester United for England in 2002

It is probably not a date many people have inked into their pocket diary. But last week brought the 10th anniversary of the last time Michael Owen scored for England, the Chester goal ace bagging twice in a 3-0 trouncing of Russia as Steve McClaren’s golden lions sent a war cry across the bows of Euro 2008 qualification Group E, and a quiver of fear through the pigeon-chest of continental Europe itself.

Except of course it didn’t quite work out like that. England were good against Russia at the FA’s excitingly matt-grey new Wembley, an arena fit to stage the 2018 World Cup final and definitely not only loads of tinny pop concerts and musicals. Owen scored his 39th and 40th England goals, bringing closer the inevitable reeling in of Bobby Charlton’s England record, probably in a World Cup final or something.

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The Fiver | Implementing a two-for-one discount across his agricultural-produce range

Mon, 25 Sep 2017 14:56:20 GMT2017-09-25T14:56:20Z

In today’s Fiver: Dr Arsène, tiny coffees and getting knacked while celebrating

It’s more than two decades since a stranger arrived in the north of London Town, pulled up his wagon outside Highbury Stadium, and started to shift bottles of Dr Arsène’s Amazing Restorative Hydrogen-and-Oxygen-Flavored Polar Inorganic Compound™ from the back. As he launched into his sales spiel – “It’s the taste!” – suggestible members of the local soccer team gathered round to sample the miracle elixir. “Coo!” they thought as they began to feel some strength return to their legs, their temples started throbbing a little less alarmingly, and that strange dull stabbing sensation in their side went away. As they cheerfully emptied their pockets to purchase as many bottles of the magical liniment as they could afford, Dr Arsène gathered up the falling coins and quietly asked his assistant to dig out his old rainmaking kit, and maybe mark up that old crate of broccoli by 400% while he was at it.

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Football transfer rumours: Everton to splash out £65m on Giroud and King?

Mon, 25 Sep 2017 08:10:46 GMT2017-09-25T08:10:46Z

Today’s piffle has felt better

Having watched his Everton side transformed from a pedestrian pudding into a pesky and punchy force with the introduction of Oumar Niasse’s pace on Saturday, you’d have thought a cartoon lightbulb might have pinged into view above Ronald Koeman’s golden locks. But no, the Everton manager apparently wants to be the first to take a walking football team into the top six – and he plans to do this by returning to Arsenal in January with £40m for Olivier Giroud, a player who is 31 this week and about as mobile as Wayne Rooney. And it says here that Niasse – who says he has never had it easy under Koeman – will be cast out again and told to find another club in January, with Bournemouth’s Josh King – who scored against the Toffees on Saturday – a possible £25m target.

Down the M62, José Mourinho won’t be satisfied with his Manchester United midfield until it resembles a field of towering young trees. The latest big man on the club’s radar is Lazio box-to-boxer Sergej Milinkovic-Savic. But the Serbia enforcer, who measures up at almost 6ft 4in, wouldn’t come cheap. He’d cost a cool £75m. Or maybe that is peanuts these days. Your poor old Rumour Mill just can’t keep up. There’s some fluff wafting around here that says Juventus playmaker extraordinaire Paulo Dybala is on Ed Woodward’s shopping list too. But Juve would want £155m for him – and even we know that’s a big number. But we just can’t see that one happening. No way José. He’s only 5ft 9in tall. He’d suit Barcelona, where he’d resemble a giant. And apparently, the Catalans are keeping a watchful eye.

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Said & Done: ‘That consistency, that trust people have in us, is core to any FA’

Sun, 24 Sep 2017 08:30:40 GMT2017-09-24T08:30:40Z

The week in football – also featuring: Fifa 2.0, Christian Constantin, and why fat bribes don’t work

Martin Glenn – saving face for “the grown-ups in the FA”. His vision when he took over in 2015: “The reputation of The FA isn’t where we would like it to be … [But] we will grow in influence across the game – not by things we say, but by things we do.”

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Which football team has played a 'home' game the furthest from home? | The Knowledge

Wed, 20 Sep 2017 09:00:02 GMT2017-09-20T09:00:02Z

Plus: widely shared stadiums, the four English domestic champions sharing the same letter, and more. Send questions and answers to knowledge@theguardian.com or tweet @TheKnowledge_GU

“With Syria drawing against Iran to book a place in the World Cup qualifying play-offs against Australia on 5 October and their home fixtures scheduled to take place at the Hang Jebat Stadium, Malaysia (roughly 7,660km from Damascus as the crow flies) where they have already played some qualifiers, I was wondering has any team played a home fixture further away from their natural home?” asks Chris Allen.

Well Chris, the first team that sprung to mind was Shakhtar Donetsk who, after the 2014 conflict in east Ukraine, were forced into exile, playing their home fixtures many miles away in Lviv. But a quick calculation of that distance has it at a paltry 1,062km. Mind you, for a club with a healthy local following, that’s a fair old schlep. There are international teams who have played home games further from home (which we’ll get on to in a bit) but there is a club who have travelled further for a competitive “home” match. Step forward Anzhi Makhachkala who, while being bankrolled by billionaire Suleyman Kerimov in 2013, played competitive games 1,554km away at Saturn Stadium, in Ramenskoye, on the outskirts of Moscow after Uefa banned the club from hosting European fixtures in Dagestan because of political turmoil. Can any club side beat that? Do let us know.

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The London Monarchs, weigh-in shenanigans and underarm serves | Classic YouTube

Thu, 21 Sep 2017 09:15:30 GMT2017-09-21T09:15:30Z

This week’s roundup also features pre-Sky Jeff Stelling, Kasper Schmeichel as a toddler and a dog stealing the show1) Now in its 10th season, the NFL International Series bandwagon rolls back into London for the first of its four-game run on Sunday. Before the annual helping of Jacksonville Jaguars, UK gridiron fans had to make do with NFL Europe and its predecessor the World League of American Football. The Union Jags have a long way to go before they are afforded the affection of the UK’s original franchise, the 1991 World Bowl champions London Monarchs. It is hard to understand why they were such a monumental flop based on their wonderfully 1990s series of TV ads. The Monarchs also provided Jeff Stelling a break as a jobbing sports reporter for Channel 4 and played host to the American football career of outspoken NBA dad Lavar Ball. Perhaps the biggest success story of NFL Europe is former Amsterdam Admirals quarterback, and collector of bizarre weaponry, Kurt Warner. A year later he was Superbowl XXXIV MVP and the star of the Greatest Show on Turf but Classic YouTube is sure the 1998 season, where Warner led NFL Europe in passing yards and touchdowns as the Admirals fell short of the World Bowl, is what he dreams about at night. Meanwhile, from more recent times in the NFL, this from Tod Gurley is quite the hurdle, and here is an example of the peril that cheerleaders subject themselves to.2) Billy Joe Saunders defended his WBO middleweight belt against Wille Monroe Jnr last weekend but it was Saunders’ son who got in the first dig at the weigh-in, delivering a low blow to Willie. Pre-fight shenanigans are nothing new of course and back when he was still fighting other boxers Floyd Mayweather Jr was a master. This clip from before his 2007 superfight with Oscar de la Hoya makes you wonder how Conor McGregor would have reacted to a live chicken. MMA’s creep into boxing’s territory is partially fuelled by its ability for pre-fight promotion. If Sean O’Connell was half as good a fighter as he is an entertainer he’d be a superstar. Sadly, with a UFC record of 2-5, he’s not. Continue reading...[...]


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Birmingham press panic button and sack Redknapp with no sign of a plan | Nick Miller

Mon, 18 Sep 2017 08:50:05 GMT2017-09-18T08:50:05Z

After being allowed to overhaul his squad the manager was dismissed after the defeat by Preston – who showed Blues what institutional stability can achieve

With 10 minutes remaining of Birmingham City’s 3-1 defeat by Preston North End on Saturday, the defender Michael Morrison casually passed the ball to his left – but rather than going to a colleague it dribbled straight out of play, a few yards in front of his manager. Harry Redknapp puffed out his cheeks in a manner that suggested he wondered why he was bothering.

Just under two hours after the final whistle, that dilemma was taken out of his hands. “Sacked in the morning,” sang the Preston fans, which turned out to be too optimistic by about 12 hours. Birmingham, perhaps spooked by the enormously uncomfortable scrape of last season when they allowed Gianfranco Zola’s tenure to drift to within a hair of relegation (which Redknapp saved them from), decided six defeats in a row and being second-bottom of the Championship simply would not do.

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The Recap: sign up for the best of the Guardian's sport coverage

Mon, 15 May 2017 11:00:43 GMT2017-05-15T11:00:43Z

With the best of our sports journalism from the past seven days and a heads-up on the weekend’s action, you won’t miss a thing

Let our team of editors be your guide to the best of the Guardian’s award-winning sport coverage from the past week. We’ll email you the stand-out features and interviews, insightful analysis and highlights from the archive, plus films, podcasts, galleries and more – all arriving in your inbox at 12pm every Friday. And we’ll tee you up for the weekend and let you know our live coverage plans so you won’t miss a thing.

Sign up below to start receiving our weekly email – you can see the most recent edition here.

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Golden Goal: Scott Sinclair for Plymouth v Barnet (2007)

Thu, 14 Sep 2017 10:00:39 GMT2017-09-14T10:00:39Z

The much-travelled Celtic forward first made his name with a wonder effort in the FA Cup at Barnet, during a spell on loan at Plymouth from Chelsea

It was quite the calling card. With his team a goal up but under the cosh against lower-league opposition, a 17-year-old with fewer than 50 minutes of first-team football to his name was summoned from the bench and proceeded to settle matters with his first senior goal. And how – seven or eight seconds of carefully controlled chaos, it was one of those show-stoppers worthy of a more prestigious platform, but many among the 5,204 present on that perishing January afternoon left the ground speaking of little else but the moment of improvised brilliance with which this hitherto unheard-of teenager had put the fourth round FA Cup tie beyond the home side.

A decade, a host of clubs and millions in earnings later, the boy who scored has grown up, spending several of the intervening years flitting between the shadows and the tabloid glare. He continues to enjoy what is by most standards a stellar football career as a much loved staple in a team of all-conquering champions. But despite his success, the prevailing and possibly unfair view seems to be that at the age of 28 his is a talent that remains resolutely unfulfilled. Only Scott Sinclair knows for certain when he felt happiest and most alive on a football pitch, but around 4.42pm on 27 January, 2007 at Underhill is probably as good a guess as any.

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The Joy of Six: Matt Le Tissier | Nick Ames

Fri, 22 Sep 2017 09:00:43 GMT2017-09-22T09:00:43Z

From announcing himself in the 1989-90 season with a sublime hat-trick to his firecracker to send off The Dell, half a dozen of the Southampton icon’s best

If the early years of Le Tissier’s Southampton career had flickered, the 1989-90 season was when he began setting the old First Division ablaze. Chris Nicholl is generally viewed in Saints lore as an overly conservative manager but, for one year only, a team of tantalising prospects cut loose and finished seventh, scoring 71 times. Alan Shearer was beginning to serve notice of his talent but the star was Le Tissier, whose 20 league goals matched his age at the beginning of term.

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Knowledge and nonsense – in the studio with Guardian Football Weekly

Sat, 23 Sep 2017 08:00:11 GMT2017-09-23T08:00:11Z

Recording unscripted with a pool of stellar contributors means the hit podcast is free to work the angles and never takes itself too seriously, says its host

On Monday and Thursday mornings, at around 11 o’clock, I wander into an airless room with four microphones. Three other people walk in. We all say hello, and then we talk about football for about an hour or so. Some smart people edit out all the mistakes, and stick the results up on iTunes that afternoon.

And that is how we make the Guardian Football Weekly. It isn’t complicated, it isn’t scripted, and that’s probably why it works.

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Martin Glenn’s next step after sacking Mark Sampson should be to resign | Barney Ronay

Thu, 21 Sep 2017 17:06:16 GMT2017-09-21T17:06:16Z

The holes in the FA’s version of events make a case for its chief executive to stand down on the Lady Bracknell principle of administrative bungling

The FA chief executive, Martin Glenn, has acted decisively – if confusingly and belatedly – in dismissing Mark Sampson from his post as the manager of the England women’s team.

Glenn’s next step should be to offer his own resignation. Again this should be done promptly, and with an acceptance the public expects more from the governing body of its national sport than bungled attempts at spin and reputation management, or moral principles that appear to bend with the weather vane of bad publicity.

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Attention (some) Manchester United fans: all racial stereotyping is racist | Marina Hyde

Tue, 19 Sep 2017 12:05:59 GMT2017-09-19T12:05:59Z

The song about Romelu Lukaku’s penis is not just ‘banter’ because the trouble with supposedly positive stereotypes is that they tend to be accompanied in the minds of those who hold them by distinctly less complimentary ones

Why is it racist to say Jews are careful with their money? Why is it racist to say Asians are good at maths? Why is it racist to say black men have 24-inch penises? Guys, these are compliments! Your lot are never satisfied, are they?

And so to some Manchester United fans’ chants about their striker Romelu Lukaku, which a totally encouraging number of people simply cannot see are racist. To be super-clear (and apologies to those who realised this in 1964 or whenever): any assumption about someone made solely on the basis of that person’s race is racist. It may also be banter – but it is racist banter. And if anyone’s still struggling with the logical underpinnings of that incredibly simple rule of thumb, we’ll be diving deeper into why in a minute.

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David Squires on … the Premier League, trapped bats and Roy Hodgson's return

Tue, 12 Sep 2017 09:18:45 GMT2017-09-12T09:18:45Z

Because he can, our resident cartoonist melds the English top flight’s return after the international break with a roundup of the latest offbeat click-bait news

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Arsenal 2-0 West Bromwich Albion: Premier League – as it happened

Mon, 25 Sep 2017 20:53:06 GMT2017-09-25T20:53:06Z

Alexandre Lacazette scored twice to earn the points for Arsenal, though West Brom will point to an early penalty that never was.

Related: Alexandre Lacazette double earns Arsenal nervy win against West Brom

Just enough time for Ainsley Maitland-Niles to come on for Aaron Ramsey. A few seconds of running about for Maitland-Niles, and that’s his lot! Arsenal were the better side, and deserved their win. One massive caveat, though: on another night, West Brom would have been awarded an early penalty, after which things might have panned out differently. But they weren’t, and they didn’t, and Arsenal move up to fifth. West Brom, having acquitted themselves well, drop to 12th. It’s been a blast. Thanks for reading. Nighty night!

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