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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: Thu, 18 Jan 2018 14:37:27 GMT2018-01-18T14:37:27Z

Copyright: Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. 2018

Theo Walcott: the great hope who failed to kick on in Arsenal comfort zone | Amy Lawrence

Thu, 18 Jan 2018 13:40:37 GMT2018-01-18T13:40:37Z

Walcott leaves for Everton as a symbol of the later Wenger years, his flashes of undeniable talent mixed with unreliability and always being same old Theo when new Theo was required

In the end the writing on the wall was spelled out boldly enough for Theo Walcott to recognise the comfort zone was not really that comfortable at all. Perhaps the most surprising thing about the departure of a forward who spent more than a decade at Arsenal, mostly in this strange space where he grew older and signed new contracts while being judged about how far he was – or ever could reach – on the potential fulfilment scale, is that he uprooted at all. Walcott has in some ways been a perfect symbol of the later Wenger years: flashes of undeniable talent mixed with unreliability, a sense of sticking with the same old familiar tune rather than finding a way to fire up the rhythm.

Walcott always looked like the last person who would want out of Arsenal. It was a good life for him and his family, and as a decent and polite sort he tended to prefer to play safe rather than agitate. The message this season, however, encouraged him to make a break for it and seek a new challenge. He couldn’t get more than 63 minutes of Premier League football during a period where the team have struggled. Last weekend at Bournemouth, with no Alexis Sánchez, Mesut Özil or Olivier Giroud, the manager picked Danny Welbeck and Alex Iwobi to support Alexandre Lacazette in attack. Last season Welbeck and Iwobi scored four goals each. Walcott delivered 19. They were trusted to start and he wasn’t. There wasn’t much comfort to be found on that bench.

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VAR games, Alexis Sánchez and what next for Newcastle? – Football Weekly Extra

Thu, 18 Jan 2018 14:08:43 GMT2018-01-18T14:08:43Z

Max Rushden and co have their say on VAR’s latest outings, dig into some transfer rumours and uncover a secret about the retiring Ronaldinho

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

Max Rushden is joined by Barry Glendenning, Lars Sivertsen and debutant John Brewin for a morning-after-the-night-before chat on the use (or not) of VAR at Stamford Bridge, where Premier League Champions Chelsea needed penalties to beat Norwich and progress to the fourth round of the FA Cup.

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A letter to Cyrille Regis … my dad’s hero, who gave me the belief to follow my dreams | Liam Rosenior

Thu, 18 Jan 2018 11:31:13 GMT2018-01-18T11:31:13Z

You helped convince my father he could be a successful, black footballer and your courage gave the generation beneath you (including me) the confidence to push forward

Dear Cyrille Regis, I’m writing to you now because your untimely death means that there are things I didn’t get the chance to say to you and because I want you to know the extent of how positive your influence has been on my life and that of my family.

Every Saturday was by the far the most exciting, memorable day I remember as a young boy growing up with my dad, Leroy, being a professional footballer. My happiest memories as a child were waking up in our flat in Streatham, south London, putting on my West Ham shirt with my brother Daron (more often than not before we brushed our teeth) and sitting in awe with Dad as he ate his pre-match fry-up in preparation for his big game at Upton Park in the late 80s.

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‘Lack of respect’ – Borussia Dortmund hit out at Arsenal over Aubameyang

Thu, 18 Jan 2018 12:43:39 GMT2018-01-18T12:43:39Z

• Michael Zorc unhappy with Arsène Wenger’s comments
• There has been no contact with Arsenal, says sporting director

Borussia Dortmund’s sporting director, Michael Zorc, has hit out at Arsène Wenger after the Arsenal manager spoke admiringly about Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.

The Dortmund striker has been heavily linked with a move to Arsenal and Wenger, asked about the Gabon international’s character, said: “Yes, a character can be very positive or very negative. Overall you look at achievement over career and if he has done well the character has been used in a positive way.”

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We will need time to get used to VAR and Alan Shearer’s childish comments don’t help | Simon Burnton

Thu, 18 Jan 2018 11:56:09 GMT2018-01-18T11:56:09Z

On Tuesday, VAR was praised and a day later it was widely ridiculed. But it is a new thing and to rush to furious judgment now would be infantile, whatever the conclusion

And so the VAR debate rages on, with rage now being the apposite word. After the widely praised decision on Tuesday night to overturn a close on-field offside call and allow Leicester’s second goal against Fleetwood Town – “VAR at its best,” trilled Michael Owen – came a contrasting experience during the FA Cup replay between Chelsea and Norwich on Wednesday. On this occasion Willian fell over Timm Klose’s outstretched leg inside the penalty area shortly after the start of extra time, and instead of pointing to the spot the referee booked the Brazilian and gave the visitors a free-kick. When the VAR failed to overturn the decision Alan Shearer, part of the BBC’s panel of pundits, was apoplectic.

“I was very doubtful about it and now it’s a shambles,” he raged. “We all think it’s a clear and obvious penalty. That’s why it’s all wrong, because it’s someone else’s opinion and that’s why it’s a shambles.”

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Manchester United to rival Manchester City’s attempt to sign Jean Michaël Seri

Thu, 18 Jan 2018 14:14:58 GMT2018-01-18T14:14:58Z

• Nice midfielder has less than 18 months of his contract remaining
• City and United both interested in signing Seri at end of season

Manchester United are ready to rival Manchester City’s attempt to sign Jean Michaël Seri from Nice, with José Mourinho keen to go head to head with Pep Guardiola once again to sign the Ivory Coast midfielder at the end of the season.

Seri came close to joining Barcelona last summer, only for the deal to collapse when the Spanish side withdrew their bid at the last minute. The 26-year-old was understood to have been devastated and has struggled for form in Ligue 1 this season after being awarded the Marc-Vivien Foé trophy for the best African player in France.

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Sánchez-Mkhitaryan deal ‘likely to happen’, says Arsène Wenger

Thu, 18 Jan 2018 09:21:42 GMT2018-01-18T09:21:42Z

• Manager admits Alexis Sánchez is likely to join Manchester United
• Wenger interested in Aubameyang but Malcom unlikely to join

Arsène Wenger has made it clear that he expects to swap Alexis Sánchez for Manchester United’s Henrikh Mkhitaryan, as he described this transfer window as “more disturbing” and “more destabilising” than ever for Arsenal.

The manager was unusually open when discussing transfer business on Thursday, which reflected his level of certainty on a number of issues – chief among them Sánchez and Mkhitaryan.

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Neymar was superb but PSG’s 8-0 win raised more questions about unity

Thu, 18 Jan 2018 12:57:41 GMT2018-01-18T12:57:41Z

Neymar scored four goals for Paris Saint-Germain as they thrashed Dijon but his attitude does not make things easy for his manager

By Adam White and Eric Devin for Get French Football News

On Wednesday evening at the Parc des Princes, Neymar spent the match terrorising a Dijon side who looked decidedly underwhelming. Having missed a nervy win over Nantes at the weekend, the Brazilian was perhaps overly eager to show his ability and he wowed the crowd with four goals and two assists. However, the last of these goals has already earned him some more scrutiny.

Edinson Cavani had already scored once in the match – his 156th for Paris Saint-Germain, which drew him level with his former team-mate, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, as the club’s all-time top scorer. With just a few minutes left to play and Paris Saint-Germain leading 7-0, Cavani was brought down in the box by a clumsy challenge from Cédric Yambéré and the crowd showed their excitement as referee Olivier Thual pointed to the spot.

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Transfer window January 2018 – every deal in Europe's top five leagues

Fri, 29 Dec 2017 11:12:28 GMT2017-12-29T11:12:28Z

All the moves in the top leagues of England, Spain, Italy, France and Germany as well as club-by-club guides for all the ins and outs in January

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If you like tight title races, these are the European leagues to watch | Barry Glendenning

Thu, 18 Jan 2018 12:01:13 GMT2018-01-18T12:01:13Z

Unlike the Premier League, in Greece only five points separate the top four teams in the Super League while the top flights in Poland and Israel also look tighter than a drum

Despite their reverse in the thriller at Anfield on Sunday, Manchester City still lead the Premier League title race by 12 points from a posse that has at times seemed so incapable of organising a successful chase its members would not look out of place in a Blazing Saddles remake. City are far from alone in dominating their domestic league; in Scotland, Celtic are eight points clear of Aberdeen, while the Welsh Premier League is all over bar the shouting as New Saints FC enjoy a regal procession to their inevitable coronation. Northern Irish football fans have a Premiership title race to enjoy, albeit a two-horser involving Crusaders and Coleraine, who are separated by a solitary point after 24 games but well clear of the best of the rest.

Related: Barcelona lose unbeaten record while PSG fans boo four-goal Neymar

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The Forgotten Story of … when Diego Maradona 'signed' for Dundee

Thu, 18 Jan 2018 10:00:11 GMT2018-01-18T10:00:11Z

With Claudio Caniggia at Dens Park and matches being screened live in Argentina, ambitious owners tried to seal the ultimate coup for the club

Diego Maradona’s road to Dundee began, in a way, in Luton. Ivano Bonetti had played in a European Cup final with Sampdoria in the early 90s but by the summer of 2000 he was perhaps best known to British football fans as the victim of Grimsby manager Brian Laws’ flying chicken wings at Kenilworth Road in 1996. The incident left him with a fractured cheekbone and a battered reputation – one that was little repaired by a two-game spell in the bizarro world that was Attilio Lombardo’s Crystal Palace two years later.

He returned to Genoa and drifted around coaching in the lower leagues. That seemed to be that. But in the SPL, Dundee had ambitious new owners who wanted to infuse a little glamour and excitement into the club. Raise the profile. Make a few waves. By June 2000, the steady hand offered by manager Jocky Scott was no longer the order of the day. They wanted more and, having interviewed Bernd Schuster and spoken to then France Under-21 coach Raymond Domenech, opted to take a punt on the inexperienced but well-connected Bonetti, whose only management experience had come at Sestrese of Serie C.

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Doubts over Reuben family involvement in Newcastle takeover

Wed, 17 Jan 2018 21:38:47 GMT2018-01-17T21:38:47Z

• Uncertainty surrounds bid by Amanda Staveley
• Staveley reported to have made £250m offer in November

A major British family investor, the first to be named by the businesswoman Amanda Staveley as a financial backer of her £250m bid to buy Newcastle United, has said they are not now planning to invest in the club. According to both parties, the Reuben family did agree financial terms to support Staveley’s bid in December, but after her offer was rejected the family has not been involved with it since.

A representative of Staveley, asked by the Guardian how she is proposing to fund the planned takeover of the club from the Sports Direct owner Mike Ashley, said on Wednesday that he had been authorised to reveal that the London-based Reuben family is one of her co-investors. Before that, Staveley had not publicly named any backers; sources close to her had said she has £28bn under management from investors worldwide but that she might mostly pay for Newcastle herself.

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Antonio Conte: VAR official made ‘big mistake’ over Chelsea penalty shout

Thu, 18 Jan 2018 00:40:19 GMT2018-01-18T00:40:19Z

• Willian should have had penalty for Klose challenge, says Conte
• Pedro and Morata deserved yellow cards for diving, says Italian

Antonio Conte has suggested the video assistant referee, Mike Jones, was guilty of a “big, big mistake” after opting not to flag up a potential penalty as Chelsea’s third round replay victory over Norwich City descended into farcical scenes in extra-time.

The hosts, who would prevail on penalties, were reduced to nine men following the dismissals of Pedro and Álvaro Morata, who were both shown one of their two yellow cards for diving. Willian was also cautioned for going to ground in an incident with Timm Klose.

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Gary Speed 'one of four players coached by Bennell to have killed themselves'

Wed, 17 Jan 2018 15:48:40 GMT2018-01-17T15:48:40Z

Former Wales manager hanged himself years after playing in team coached by Barry Bennell, court hears

Gary Speed was one of four players from Barry Bennell’s junior football teams who killed themselves later in life after being coached by the man now charged with multiple sex offences against young footballers, the jury at Bennell’s trial was told.

Speed, the former Wales manager, hanged himself in November 2011, at the age of 42. One man whom Bennell admitted abusing in 1998 told the court he knew of other boys from the same teams who had been left destitute, suicidal and addicted to drugs or alcohol.

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Barcelona's unbeaten run ends while PSG fans jeer four-goal Neymar

Wed, 17 Jan 2018 22:51:09 GMT2018-01-17T22:51:09Z

• Messi misses penalty in 1-0 defeat to Espanyol in Copa del Rey
• Neymar booed - seemingly playfully - in 8-0 thrashing of Dijon

Lionel Messi had a penalty saved as the triple Copa del Rey holders Barcelona endured a surprise 1-0 defeat against Espanyol in a quarter-final first leg on Wednesday, ending an unbeaten run of 29 games in all competitions.

Espanyol’s academy graduate Oscar Melendo scored the only goal of the game in the 88th minute after Messi had his spot-kick turned away by the former Real Madrid goalkeeper Diego Lopez earlier in the second half.

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Wigan sense repeat of history after crushing win over Bournemouth

Wed, 17 Jan 2018 21:55:21 GMT2018-01-17T21:55:21Z

Paul Cook admitted everything fell Wigan Athletic’s way as they defeated Bournemouth in a third-round replay again to evoke memories of their 2013 FA Cup triumph.

The League One leaders recorded a 3-0 victory over the Cherries at the DW Stadium after Samy Morsy’s early strike was added to by goals in quick succession from substitute Dan Burn and defender Callum Elder.

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Hazard penalty puts Chelsea through against Norwich on dramatic Cup night

Wed, 17 Jan 2018 23:06:41 GMT2018-01-17T23:06:41Z

The anarchy into which this tie descended through extra-time actually made Chelsea’s eventual progress feel almost incidental. Antonio Conte had cause to celebrate Willy Caballero’s fine save and a perfect quintet of penalties in the shootout, but he was still a man on the edge long after the final whistle. So much of this had been the stuff of nightmares.

He could curse Norwich City’s hugely merited equaliser deep into stoppage time at the end of the 90 minutes, a flicked header from Jamal Lewis which thrust the hosts into an extra period they must have dreaded given their cluttered schedule. But then there were the trio of home players booked for diving, and the dismissals for Pedro and Álvaro Morata – two of those who had gone to ground – for second bookable offences in the last three minutes. The second red card prompted one irate home supporter to encroach on the penalty area to berate the referee, Graham Scott.

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Ronaldinho: a player so good he made you smile

Wed, 17 Jan 2018 14:11:00 GMT2018-01-17T14:11:00Z

The Brazilian has retired after an extraordinary career but his wonderful talent will be remembered for ever. ‘He changed our history,’ the Barcelona midfielder Xavi said

Ronaldinho. See? You’re smiling already. Just thinking about the things he did and the way he did them, the way he was, gets you giggling. Look him up on YouTube and maybe you’ll fall for him all over again, a bit like all those defenders. Watch for long enough – it won’t take long – and you might even feel like standing to applaud, just like the Santiago Bernabéu did, an ovation for a Barcelona player, as if for all the rivalry they hadn’t so much been beaten by his genius as shared in it. Sergio Ramos was on the floor, they were on their feet. Cameras zoomed on a man in the north stand with a moustache and a cigarette hanging limp from his lip: Bloody hell, did you see what he just did?

Related: Golden Goal: Ronaldinho for Barcelona v Chelsea (2005) | Daniel Harris

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Farewell Ronaldinho, bobsleigh thrills and Dustin Johnson's miracle drive | Classic YouTube

Thu, 18 Jan 2018 10:50:07 GMT2018-01-18T10:50:07Z

This week’s roundup also features a Robbie Fowler dink, a memorable ODI between Australia and England and all of Boca Juniors’ goals from 2017

1) Farewell Ronaldinho, you were a lot of fun. Here are all his goals for Barcelona, some tricks and flicks, futsal magnificence, keepie-uppies with a crossbar, that goal against Chelsea, trick tackling and oh David! To show he’s human there’s also this.

2) En route to winning the Tournament of Champions Dustin Johnson came within inches of a hole in one on a par four after a 430 yard drive. It would have been the longest in a professional tournament but there have been some par-four aces caught on camera: Andrew Magee, Richard Green, Minjee Lee, Rahil Gangjee, Chip Beck and Ha Na Jang. Fine but robot holes in one are better.

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Nessun Dorma: the podcast that celebrates 1980s and 1990s football

Thu, 18 Jan 2018 10:24:51 GMT2018-01-18T10:24:51Z

If you associate 1990 with Italy, 1992 with Denmark and 1997 with England winning Le Tournoi, you’ll enjoy Nessun Dorma

Football has changed. The modern game is both richer and poorer than the one we grew up watching. You know the kind of thing we’re talking about: sandy pitches, exquisitely tight shorts, X-certificate tackles that occasionally merited a yellow card, Elton Welsby on ITV. It was almost a different sport.

As we spend half our life talking about the good old days, we decided to start a podcast talking about the good old days. Nessun Dorma is an unashamed celebration of football in the 1980s and 1990s. We build each pod around one main topic, with additional rotating features such as Legend of the Week, Journeyman of the Week, Underrated Player of the Week and Great Players You’ve Never Heard About.

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Never managed and didn’t apply: how the FA made Phil Neville its No 1 | Marina Hyde

Wed, 17 Jan 2018 11:26:14 GMT2018-01-17T11:26:14Z

Surprising frontrunner for the job of England women’s manager sums up the FA’s continuing bumbling approach

What an amusing inevitability to learn that Phil Neville is the frontrunner for the job of managing the England women’s side. I very much enjoyed my colleague Louise Taylor’s report into the matter, which stated: “It is understood the 40-year-old’s name was initially suggested to the Football Association in a lighthearted manner by a well-known broadcaster at a drinks reception last month.”

This is my favourite How Job Applications Work story since George Osborne’s friends asked the former chancellor for his advice on their pitches for the Evening Standard editorship. Sorry, guys – he had a look at your proposals, but in the end the opportunity was just too good to pass up. A failed candidate for the Times’s graduate trainee scheme back in the day, he proceeded straight to newspaper editor.

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Theo Walcott’s £20m Everton move spells trouble for Lookman and Vlasic | Andy Hunter

Wed, 17 Jan 2018 18:08:17 GMT2018-01-17T18:08:17Z

Sam Allardyce says Theo Walcott ‘should be at the peak of his career’ and he is an experienced goalscorer but his arrival is bad news for Everton’s youngsters

Sam Allardyce believes Theo Walcott “should be at the peak of his career” at 28 and with the experience of 397 games played over a dozen years at Arsenal behind him. Should be. It is a career in need of revival instead, and a £20m relocation to Everton offers no such guarantees.

The transfer suits club and player in many respects. The squad assembled by the director of football, Steve Walsh, and former manager Ronald Koeman at Goodison Park is imbalanced. It desperately lacks pace and width, even with Yannick Bolasie available after a long-term knee injury, and there appears an obvious place for Walcott to reclaim a regular starting role in the Premier League, his form and perhaps even an England recall in World Cup year on the right of Everton’s attack.

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The 100 best footballers in the world 2017

Tue, 19 Dec 2017 11:00:24 GMT2017-12-19T11:00:24Z

Our panel of 169 experts from 63 nations compile a list of the greatest male players in 2017. Click on an individual to read more about their year.

Messi edges Ronaldo to No1 | The data behind our 100 | Watch: our top 10
Meet our panel of judges for 2017 | 2016 edition | 2015 | 2014 | 2013 | 2012

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Next Generation 2017: 60 of the best young talents in world football

Wed, 04 Oct 2017 09:00:05 GMT2017-10-04T09:00:05Z

From Vinicius Júnior, who has already signed for Real Madrid, to ‘the Romanian Donnarumma’ the Guardian identifies 60 of the best players in the world born in 2000

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The Guardian footballer of the year 2017: Juan Mata

Mon, 01 Jan 2018 10:00:07 GMT2018-01-01T10:00:07Z

Manchester United midfielder’s Common Goal project, in which players and managers donate 1% of their salary to charity, makes him a worthy recipient

The Guardian Footballer of the Year is an award given to a player who has done something truly remarkable, whether by overcoming adversity, helping others or setting a sporting example by acting with exceptional honesty. The inaugural winner was Fabio Pisacane in 2016

Each time you meet Juan Mata it’s a surprise how small he appears in person. You never expect a giant of a man to be only 5ft 7in tall, and to cut such a slight figure or to flash a warm smile, but the Guardian’s Footballer of the Year for 2017 has always made a habit of confounding expectations about himself and the game he loves.

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Ronaldinho retires: his most memorable moments – video

Wed, 17 Jan 2018 15:09:35 GMT2018-01-17T15:09:35Z

Ronaldinho has retired from playing football, it was announced on Tuesday. The Brazilian's glittering career saw him crowned both a World Cup and Champions League winner. He was also awarded the coveted Ballon d'Or trophy in 2005. Here are some of the most memorable moments from his career

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José Mourinho 'relaxed' on Alexis Sánchez's potential transfer – video

Tue, 16 Jan 2018 12:03:04 GMT2018-01-16T12:03:04Z

Following Manchester United's 3-0 win over Stoke in the Premier League, José Mourinho said he feels 'relaxed' over the potential transfer of Alexis Sánchez from Arsenal. Sánchez has been linked to both Manchester clubs, with United seemingly pushing ahead of City in the race to sign the player in recent days

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Former West Brom and England striker Cyrille Regis dies aged 59 – video obituary

Mon, 15 Jan 2018 10:47:50 GMT2018-01-15T10:47:50Z

The former West Bromwich Albion and England striker Cyrille Regis has died aged 59, it was announced on Monday. Regis was a pioneer for black footballers in England in the late 1970s at West Brom where he played between 1977 and 1984. He also won five caps for England and lifted the FA Cup with Coventry City in 1987

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Liverpool's Jürgen Klopp: thank God I have a really good football team – video

Sun, 14 Jan 2018 20:23:42 GMT2018-01-14T20:23:42Z

Jürgen Klopp is delighted after watching his Liverpool side beat Manchester City 4-3 at Anfield in the Premier League on Sunday. It marks the first league defeat of the season for Pep Guardiola’s team but the City manager is philosophical in defeat saying his players must move on and focus on the next game

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Philippe Coutinho completes transfer from Liverpool to Barcelona – video

Mon, 08 Jan 2018 15:13:57 GMT2018-01-08T15:13:57Z

Philippe Coutinho completed his move to Barcelona on Monday and signed a five-and-a-half-year contract at the Camp Nou. The transfer could be worth up to £142m to his former club Liverpool. 'I'm very happy, very glad to be here. It is my dream,' the Brazilian said

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Allardyce responds to Firmino incident: 'Anything outside football is for the authorities' – video

Sat, 06 Jan 2018 14:38:47 GMT2018-01-06T14:38:47Z

Everton manager Sam Allardyce and Liverpool counterpart Jürgen Klopp speak to the press after a fractious Merseyside derby, in which Everton defender Mason Holgate appeared to accuse Liverpool's Roberto Firmino of using a racist term.

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Inter keen on signing Liverpool’s Daniel Sturridge on loan

Wed, 17 Jan 2018 17:11:25 GMT2018-01-17T17:11:25Z

• The 28-year-old is surplus to requirements at Anfield
• Liverpool would prefer a permanent transfer for forward

Internazionale are the latest club to register interest in Daniel Sturridge but may need Liverpool to accept a loan deal to secure the striker this month.

Sturridge has found himself surplus to requirements at Anfield this season, making only nine league appearances this season, and Liverpool would prefer permanent offers for a player who can earn up to £150,000 a week on a heavily incentivised contract.

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Meet Jon Bakero: the MLS SuperDraft prospect with ties to Johan Cruyff

Wed, 17 Jan 2018 10:30:51 GMT2018-01-17T10:30:51Z

The son of longtime Spanish international José Mari Bakero is one of the most intriguing prospects heading into Friday’s MLS SuperDraft

It isn’t common practice for the son of a World Cup starter to enter the MLS SuperDraft.

Once seen as a vital way to acquire affordable starting talent, the draft has seen its stock take a hit in recent iterations. An increase in league-issued allocation funds has improved the quality of the majority of each MLS lineup, leaving fewer places for domestic players. In general, this hits hardest for young players who went to college in the United States and Canada. Where a promising prospect used to be thrust into the lineup for a trial by fire, they instead are blocked by Scandinavian veterans, returning US internationals and respected veterans from overseas.

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Nineteen proves unlucky for disengaged Real Madrid as fatalism takes hold | Sid Lowe

Mon, 15 Jan 2018 15:38:53 GMT2018-01-15T15:38:53Z

Zinedine Zidane’s side have dropped more points than in the whole of last season and are 19 points behind Barcelona after Villarreal won at the Bernabéu – at their 19th attempt

Sergio Busquets probably felt like hiding behind his hands. “The ghosts appeared,” he said. It was a cold, dark night and everywhere he looked they were there. If he looked left, especially. Blue and white figures flew past. Over the other side, on the touchline, Ernesto Valverde pulled his jacket up tight and peered through the pouring rain. “You must have thought: ‘again’,” he was asked afterwards, when it was finally over – the match, the curse, probably the title, too. “Exactly,” he said. Everyone did. The day before, Barcelona’s manager had described this as the “worst place” – there was something about it that haunted Barcelona, had a hold over them, something that defeated them, or so it goes. Now, that seemed confirmed.

Between them, Pep Guardiola, Tito Vilanova, Tata Martino and Luis Enrique won six leagues, five Copa del Reys and three European Cups, 25 trophies in all, but not one league game at Anoeta. It had been more than a decade since Barcelona won there. Only Leo Messi and Andrés Iniesta were left from that day in May 2007, and Messi hadn’t appeared yet while Iniesta was sheltered on the bench – for his own protection, Valverde admitted, and for theirs, too. Except there was no protection from Real Sociedad, from Sergio Canales, Willian José, Xabi Prieto and Álvaro Odriozola, and Barcelona, unbeaten in 27, not defeated since the Super Copa was over and the season began, were losing.

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Malcom is stuck in the middle of a crisis at Bordeaux

Mon, 15 Jan 2018 15:29:19 GMT2018-01-15T15:29:19Z

Bordeaux endured an awful run either side of Christmas but their young forward has remained a bright spark throughout

By Adam White and Eric Devin for Get French Football News

Goats are becoming a common sight in French football. Two seasons ago Marseille fans held huge pictures of goats aloft at the Vélodrome to mock their team’s abject form. Now the prominent Bordeaux fan website, Girondins4ever, has plastered their Twitter profile with a team of goats dressed in the club’s iconic chevron in response to the unfolding disaster at the Stade Matmut Atlantique. Bordeaux’s 1-0 win at Troyes on Saturday was only their second victory since their demoralising 6-2 thrashing at Paris Saint-Germain in September and it proved, once again, that they could yet be in real danger without Brazilian starlet Malcom.

Related: Football transfer rumours: Gelson Martins to Liverpool? Malcom to Arsenal?

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Borussia Dortmund's plans for new start hit by same old Aubameyang problem | Andy Brassell

Mon, 15 Jan 2018 12:26:49 GMT2018-01-15T12:26:49Z

Dortmund wanted to return from the winter break with a clean slate but Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s exclusion ruined that

A new year, a new Borussia Dortmund. That was the plan after a fractious, difficult and sometimes traumatic 2017, which took in the stress of parting company with two head coaches and – more seriously – the horror of the attack on the team bus in April before the Champions League quarter-final with Monaco. Following the exit of the influential head scout Sven Mislintat to Arsenal, still affected by being marginalised under former coach number one Thomas Tuchel, the failure of former coach number two, Peter Bosz, is still being unpicked by his replacement Peter Stöger.

Looking at the team sheet for Sunday’s resumption of their Bundesliga campaign at home to Wolfsburg, the freshness of a new start felt tangible, with teenagers Alexander Isak and Jadon Sancho – with the latter first Englishman to play for Dortmund – included in the XI for the first time in the league. The young pair made their respective presences felt, each coming close to breaking a frustrating goalless deadlock by hitting the woodwork.

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FFA settles on shortlist for new Socceroos coach

Tue, 16 Jan 2018 00:20:13 GMT2018-01-16T00:20:13Z

  • Small number of local and international names in frame
  • Formal interviews with candidates to begin soon

The next Socceroos coach will be appointed in mid-February after Football Federation Australia confirmed it was in the final stages of its selection process. FFA chief executive David Gallop said a final shortlist of candidates has been drawn up with formal interviews to begin imminently.

Names on the shortlist have not been released but the likes of Graham Arnold, Marcelo Bielsa, Slaven Bilic, Bert van Marwick have been previously linked with the job.

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Luis Suárez inspires Barcelona fightback against Real Sociedad to end curse

Sun, 14 Jan 2018 22:08:32 GMT2018-01-14T22:08:32Z

• Barça recover from 2-0 down to retain unbeaten record in La Liga
• Paulinho, Messi and Suárez double cancel out Sociedad’s lead

Barcelona fought back from two goals down at Real Sociedad to secure their first La Liga win at Anoeta in 11 years as the leaders kept their unbeaten record intact.

Barça had lost five of their previous seven La Liga games at Sociedad and were trailing 2-0 when Willian Jose’s header and Juanmi’s deflected shot put the hosts in charge.

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Bundesliga round-up: Aubameyang suspended for Dortmund draw with Wolfsburg

Sun, 14 Jan 2018 19:17:36 GMT2018-01-14T19:17:36Z

• Gabon striker dropped for missing team meeting before 0-0 with Wolfsburg
• England prospect Jadon Sancho makes full league debut for Dortmund

Borussia Dortmund misfired in the goalless draw against VfL Wolfsburg on Sunday after suspending their leading striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang for a disciplinary offence.

The Gabon international, who has scored 13 league goals, was dropped just before the game after he missed a team meeting on Saturday in his latest disciplinary offence. Sporting director Michael Zorc later admitted he was frustrated with Aubameyang’s attitude, with some reports linking him with a move to Arsenal in this transfer window.

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Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s media war could play into Arsenal’s hands | Ed Aarons

Tue, 16 Jan 2018 19:23:00 GMT2018-01-16T19:23:00Z

Striker suspended by Borussia Dortmund for the third time has a deteriorating relationship with the German press

Even a decade after he left to join Milan as a 17-year-old apprentice, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang still regards the picturesque medieval town of Laval in western France as his home. Last summer the Borussia Dortmund forward, who could replace Alexis Sánchez at Arsenal, had just beaten Robert Lewandowski to finish as the Bundesliga’s top scorer with 31 goals when he was spotted wearing a shirt he had exchanged with Antoine Griezmann as he played a game of five-a-side with his friends in the Park de Saint-Berthevin.

“It allows me to maintain my shape,” he explained. “Every time I leave Laval, I feel really good, my body is rested. I’m going back to Dortmund full of energy.”

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Paul Lambert may not be a sexy name for Stoke but his CV suggests survival | Paul MacInnes

Tue, 16 Jan 2018 10:30:22 GMT2018-01-16T10:30:22Z

The Scot initially worked miracles at Norwich but was the victim of bad timing at Aston Villa and is not undeserving of another crack at top-flight management

There were many replies under the tweet announcing Paul Lambert’s arrival as Stoke City manager. Quite a few contained the cry-laughing emoji, more than one offered season tickets for sale at a knockdown price and a single definitive statement declared “that literally might be the worst managerial appointment I’ve ever seen”. There were other examples, but you get the general gist.

Social media being what it is, the Stoke hierarchy are unlikely to have to turned to Twitter expecting bouquets and acclaim. But Lambert’s appointment as successor to Mark Hughes has certainly not been met with universal praise. This is not least because the Scot was at best fourth in the club’s list of preferred candidates, Stoke having been previously unsuccessful in approaches to Gary Rowett, Martin O’Neill and Quique Sánchez Flores.

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Football transfer rumours: Chelsea chasing Jean-Michaël Seri?

Thu, 18 Jan 2018 09:21:44 GMT2018-01-18T09:21:44Z

Today’s fluff is meditated by direction

Chelsea want to bolster their midfield with another player who isn’t as bad as Tiémoué Bakayoko, and have clearly learned from the experience of expensively signing a sought-after midfielder from a club on the French Riviera only to be disappointed by his performances. This time they have identified, um, a sought-after midfielder from a club on the French Riviera, in the shape of the £35m Jean-Michaël Seri, who plays in Nice, a scant 20km from Bakayoko’s Monégasque former employers. Paris Saint-Germain and Manchester City have also been monitoring the 26-year-old’s performances but according to the Sun his preference would be a move to England.

Internazionale, having so far this season scored nine fewer league goals than Napoli, 13 fewer than Lazio and 14 fewer than Juventus, want a striker who can help engorge their goals-for column and have identified Daniel Sturridge as the man to do it. Liverpool, however, will want £30m or “a hefty loan fee” before they green-light the deal, demands so hefty that they “scared off Real Betis”.

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The Fiver | The luxurious carpet of investment whipped from under their feet

Wed, 17 Jan 2018 15:59:17 GMT2018-01-17T15:59:17Z

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Our city-boy cousin Buy Sell Buy Sell Red Braces Fuel-Injected Convertible Front-Tail Extension Smug Square-Jawed Floppy-Fringe-Covered Extremely Smackable Face Fiver is down on his luck right now. He’s currently living in a wet cardboard box in Kings Cross, with only old copies of the FT for insulation and Berliner-sized copies of Big Paper for food. Yes, he’s yesterday’s man, having lost his job as a result of an allergic reaction to the new plastic £10 notes, which bring him out in a strange white-dotted rash around the base of his nostrils, so he maintains, court case pending. But ever the professional, this sorry predicament doesn’t stop him from keeping up to speed with the latest business news, and only on Monday afternoon he was telling us to brace ourselves for Newcastle United making some major big-money transfers this month, once Mike Ashley sells the club to billionaire-backed investment guru Amand … oh Buy Sell Buy Sell Red Braces Fuel-Injected Convertible Front-Tail Extension Smug Square-Jawed Floppy-Fringe-Covered Extremely Smackable Face Fiver! How could you?

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Which is the least successful English footballing city? | The Knowledge

Wed, 17 Jan 2018 10:00:50 GMT2018-01-17T10:00:50Z

Plus: the greatest of escapes and managers playing against their former clubs. Mail us your questions and answers or tweet @TheKnowledge_GU

“The beautiful city of Bristol has had two league clubs pretty much consistently since 1920, combining for a total of 212 years of league football, with only three Football League Trophies and one Welsh Cup to show for it,” mails Andy Field. “Does this make it the least successful multi-club city?”

Paul Levay thinks Stoke-on-Trent can challenge Bristol. “I admit that Bristol has a pretty rubbish record but Stoke-on-Trent is a competitor for the country’s most inglorious multi-club footballing city,” he says.

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Italy a land of opportunity as Juventus add weight to Women’s Serie A | Suzanne Wrack

Tue, 16 Jan 2018 10:00:21 GMT2018-01-16T10:00:21Z

The arrival of Juventus has boosted the Italian top flight and WSL players are finding it an attractive place to improve their technical level

As major clubs such as Paris St-Germain, Barcelona and Manchester City have added women’s teams to their portfolios, the take-up in Italy of the women’s game by clubs with global profiles has been slower. Instead the women’s leagues have consisted of independent teams and sister sides of smaller clubs.

But that is changing. Italy is starting to catch up: the independent ACF Firenze were taken over by Fiorentina in 2015 and this year the most successful side in Italian football, Juventus, have entered the fray – with their purchase of Cuneo putting them straight into Serie A.

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Liverpool spoil Manchester City's party, while Stoke and Wales have new arrivals – Football Weekly

Mon, 15 Jan 2018 16:56:51 GMT2018-01-15T16:56:51Z

Max and the pod talk Liverpool’s attacking verve, Arsenal’s no-hopers, new arrivals at Wales and Stoke, Cyrille Regis, VAR (again) and Cambridge United’s French connection

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

Max Rushden is joined by Barry Glendenning, Jonathan Wilson and Sachin Nakrani to look back at a packed weekend of football, starting with the end of Manchester City’s unbeaten streak.

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

Mon, 15 Jan 2018 07:52:47 GMT2018-01-15T07:52:47Z

Arsenal have hit an all-time low under Arsène Wenger, Chelsea could go for Andy Carroll and Sam Allardyce needs a result

Chelsea have endured three successive goalless draws for the first time and it is inconceivable the scouting department is not exploring forward options. Something has clearly put them off the pursuit of Alexis Sánchez, whom they courted in the summer. Perhaps they believe he is set upon a reunion with Pep Guardiola at Manchester City. Maybe they feel they cannot compete with the financial package Manchester United could offer. Possibly they deem the costs excessive. Yet, if that avenue is blocked, and with Crystal Palace unlikely to entertain offers for Christian Benteke, there remains the possibility Chelsea will explore Andy Carroll’s availability. Antonio Conte had hoped to secure a targetman over the summer and is apparently an admirer of Carroll, for all the 29-year-old’s patchy injury record. Such a move would once have seemed outlandish. Yet times may have changed. Dominic Fifield

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Said & Done: ‘What women will put up with is a bit different from guys’

Sun, 14 Jan 2018 09:30:23 GMT2018-01-14T09:30:23Z

The week in football – also featuring: Coutinho, Fifa and Onésimo

Martin Glenn on what the FA learned in 2017: “I think culturally what women will be prepared to put up with has been a bit different from guys. I guess banter would be a case in point.”
• His core message on the FA’s diversity agenda, three months after he called racially discriminatory remarks made by Mark Sampson “inappropriate banter”: “We’re there to set an example.”

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Australian Open memories, sporting proposals and a singing goalkeeper | Classic YouTube

Thu, 11 Jan 2018 10:15:18 GMT2018-01-11T10:15:18Z

This week’s roundup also features Jofra Archer’s absurd caught and bowled, a quarterback making a touchdown pass to himself and more dawdling darts 1) It’s Australian Open time, so a trip down random memory lane: 1976 and the battle of the moustaches; Pete Sampras goes two sets down to Jim Courier, breaks down in tears after being reminded of his coach who had just been diagnosed with cancer, comes back to win; before 1990 nobody had been disqualified from a grand slam since 1963 – then John McEnroe got a bit testy; at 4-6, 0-4 down in the 2002 final against Martina Hingis, things didn’t look good for Jennifer Capriati – things picked up after that; and a quick reminder that Serena won this last year, without dropping a set while two months pregnant.2) Alabama stunned Georgia in overtime to win their fifth college football national championship in nine years. But arguably, for center Bradley Bozeman, the highlight of the night was proposing to his girlfriend amid the celebrations. He isn’t the only one to capitalise on a victorious moment in recent times: the Astros’ Carlos Correa got down on one knee after winning Houston’s first World Series, junior linebacker Deion Pierre went for a more musical approach with the help of his Samford team-mates, Chinese diver Qin Kai proposed to silver medalist He Zi during a women’s diving medal ceremony at the Rio Olympics – the Games also saw Brazilian rugby sevens player Isadora Cerullo receive a proposal from her girlfriend Marjorie Enya. Just remember sports fans, it doesn’t always go to plan. Continue reading...[...]

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Cyrille Regis: a pioneer on the pitch and the leader of a generation | Richard Williams

Mon, 15 Jan 2018 12:58:53 GMT2018-01-15T12:58:53Z

As a player, Cyrille Regis used his strength and control to burst through the defences. As a man, he endured unspeakable abuse in order to ease the way for others

The sun was shining on the Baseball Ground, which didn’t seem to happen very often at a ground traditionally reduced by early winter weather to a bog of sand and mud. But on that Saturday afternoon at the end of the 1970s – the exact details, including the score, don’t matter – even the climate seemed to be welcoming the visitors, Ron Atkinson’s West Bromwich Albion.

Out they came, into the sunlight. Cyrille Regis, Laurie Cunningham, Brendon Batson, Ally Brown, Len Cantello and the rest. They were wearing their change strip, to avoid a clash with Derby County’s white and black. Their shirts were broad vertical stripes of yellow and bright green. Their shorts were that same green, their socks yellow. They looked like Brazil. And that, sometimes, was how they played.

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Manchester United spending a fortune to get Alexis Sánchez at 29 makes sense

Mon, 15 Jan 2018 16:33:49 GMT2018-01-15T16:33:49Z

United would benefit from a ready-made prime-career star and the signing of Sánchez would bring an intriguing meeting of sporting souls with José Mourinho – a shared dark lust for glory

It isn’t hard to pick out the moment Alexis Sánchez began to say his long goodbye. Last season’s Champions League last-16 tie against Bayern Munich is still a tender spot for Arsenal fans, one of those episodes of Total Collapse that have marked out springtime in the late Wenger years.

With 11 minutes gone in Bavaria Arsenal were 1-0 down, the defence apparently astonished to find Arjen Robben has a thing for dipping his shoulder, cutting inside and shooting. By the final whistle it was 5-1 to Bayern. But it could have been seven, or eight, or 12. In between times, as his team-mates curdled and turned green, Sánchez went nuts.

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My 50 years of football reporting, from Hurst and Moore to VAR via Le Tissier | Jeremy Alexander

Fri, 12 Jan 2018 12:33:15 GMT2018-01-12T12:33:15Z

After half a century covering the game in all its guises, with escalating wages and silly celebrations, it is League Two that provides the perfect swan song

Leicester City 5, West Ham United 4: it was quite a match to kick off half a century on the highways and byways of football, writing more as a neutral fan than hard-nosed reporter. The ground was Filbert Street, the date 27 August 1966, four weeks after England won the World Cup. Ron Greenwood’s pledge to attack meant “Banks saw nearly as much of Moore and Peters as he did at Wembley”. Hurst beat him twice but it was not enough. Players did not have Christian names then. Now they have forenames. And games may be goalless.

The 70s began at Craven Cottage “in some ways just like the early 50s for there was Haynes, a hair or two greyer, still turning on a sixpence and spraying out passes like stars from a catherine wheel. Who would have thought 18 years ago the coin might pass from circulation before the master?” There was also “a brief delay while the referee sent for a skewer to fix a goal-net. A foot, with man attached, briefly substituted.” The game moves on. Now there are fourth officials and VARs in waiting.

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'By changing football, he changed the country': our readers on Cyrille Regis

Tue, 16 Jan 2018 13:14:05 GMT2018-01-16T13:14:05Z

Cyrille Regis was not just an international footballer. He was a special man who touched the lives of the people he met

Football fans across the country have been united in grief by the news that Cyrille Regis has died at the age of 59 after suffering a heart attack. Regis, who won five caps for England, was perhaps best known for his “Three Degrees” days at West Brom and for winning the FA Cup with Coventry in 1987. But he was more than a player; he helped changed attitudes in the game and in the country, as our readers have been recalling.

We published a range of pieces about Regis yesterday – an obituary, an interview from our archive, a short video featuring him in action and some memories from Richard Williams – and our readers responded in kind by contributing their own stories. Here are a few of their memories:

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Chelsea beat Norwich on penalties, Swansea 2-1 Wolves, Wigan 3-0 Bournemouth – as it happened

Wed, 17 Jan 2018 22:47:40 GMT2018-01-17T22:47:40Z

Chelsea were pushed all the way by Norwich, but won on penalties and join Swansea and Wigan in the fourth round

Chelsea have the good grace not to celebrate too wildly. The champions of England were pushed all the way tonight by Championship side Norwich City, at one point losing their heads to the extent that they ended extra time with only nine men. But they regained their composure during the penalty shoot-out, and a home time against Newcastle United in the fourth round is their reward! Hats off to Norwich, though, for making it one hell of a fight.

Related: Hazard penalty puts Chelsea through against Norwich on dramatic Cup night

Related: Wigan sense repeat of history after crushing win over Bournemouth

Related: Jordan Ayew’s quality finish offers Swansea Cup relief against Wolves

Penalties: Chelsea 5-3 Norwich. Hazard rolls his spot kick into the bottom left, and Chelsea will host Newcastle in the fourth round!

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Jordan Ayew’s quality finish offers Swansea Cup relief against Wolves

Wed, 17 Jan 2018 21:48:40 GMT2018-01-17T21:48:40Z

A splendid Jordan Ayew goal was the highlight of a miserable evening at the Liberty Stadium where Swansea City recorded a rare home victory – only their third of the season – to overcome the dismal conditions as well as the Championship leaders and secure a place in the FA Cup fourth round.

Ayew’s goal was totally out of keeping with a scrappy game and drew comparisons with the moment of brilliance that Ricky Villa produced in the 1981 FA Cup final replay, when the Argentinian weaved his way through a sea of Manchester City defenders to score for Tottenham. Although the stakes were not nearly so high here, and the crowd was nothing like as big – only 8,294 braved the elements on a sodden night in South Wales – it was still a terrific goal from Ayew as he wriggled his way past five Wolves players before finishing with aplomb.

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Everton’s Cenk Tosun targets goals as Theo Walcott completes £20m move

Wed, 17 Jan 2018 17:02:53 GMT2018-01-17T17:02:53Z

• Turkey striker hopes to fill Romelu Lukaku void
• ‘I want the club to push to the next level,’ Walcott says

Cenk Tosun believes he and Theo Walcott can fill the void created by Romelu Lukaku’s departure from Everton after the winger completed his move from Arsenal for an initial £20m.

Everton have spent more than £40m overhauling their attack this month with an initial £21m paid to bring Tosun from Besiktas followed by the arrival on Wednesday of Walcott. The England international ended a 12-year Arsenal career to become Sam Allardyce’s second signing as Everton manager. He is expected to earn £110,000 a week plus bonuses at Goodison Park – matching his Arsenal salary – over a three-and-a-half year contract.

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