As we approach the end of today’s football countdown, here’s The Fiver. And what an uplifting title this week.
Peter Oh comments –
“The statistics (see 16:52) don’t bode well for Arsenal but never fear, there is one player who has done well for the Gunners in prying open the United defence. Mesut Özil! … Oh.”
What might have been/could still be?…
How about this – Amazon has added seven years of gloriously incongruous Masters Football highlights to its online offering. Simon Burnton takes a look.
The latest quiz of the week opens with a couple of football questions but then you’ll have to show your all-round sporting prowess. Have a go here…
If you’ve not listened to this week’s Football Weekly podcast yet, tune in for these latest hot topics…
After scoring the 10,000th goal in Liverpool’s history, Diogo Jota is feeling pretty good about life. An exclusive interview with the ex-Wolves man has just popped up on liverpoolfc.com.
On the quality of his teammates in training: “That’s a massive difference; the quality every single player has at this club. When we do rondos, possession or finishing, everybody has immense quality. I think that is the characteristic of Liverpool, so everyone is ready to make a difference.”
His old team, Wolves, are in action tonight in just under three hours’ time. Perhaps they’ll read this and feel somewhat slighted.
A few Opta stats to peruse ahead of the Man Utd v Arsenal showdown – historical head-to-heads, Sundays, home stutters and what has happened to Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang?
- Manchester United are unbeaten in their last 13 home league games against Arsenal (W8 D5) since a 0-1 loss in September 2006.
- Manchester United have the best win percentage (54% – 152 of 280) and points-per-game ratio (1.9) of any Premier League team when playing on Sunday (min. 3 games).
- Manchester United are winless in their three home league games so far this season (D1 L2), last failing to win any of their first four at Old Trafford in 1972-73. In fact, the Red Devils are winless in their last five league games at home, their longest such run since February 1990 (6).
- Arsenal’s Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has gone five league matches without a goal for the first time since November 2014, while playing for Borussia Dortmund. During this five-game streak, the striker has attempted only five shots in total and failed to land a shot on target on three occasions.
Real Madrid have lost their last two homes games – a 1-0 reverse to Cadiz and a 3-2 Champions League game loss to Shakhtar. No wonder Zinedine Zidane sounds rather cautious for the visit of newly-promoted and winless Huesca on Saturday.
Match preview of Sheffield United v Manchester City. Looks like Raheem Sterling will be used as a central striker again…
Another picture of Nobby Stiles. The highlight of his time at Old Trafford where he spent 11 seasons and made 311 league appearances.
Nobby Stiles celebrating England’s World Cup win…
Sad news to report. Nobby Stiles, one of England’s 1966 World Cup winning heroes, has died aged 78 after a long period with prostate cancer and advanced dementia.
Our Andy Hunter has slotted in Rhys Williams to play alongside Joe Gomez in his match preview of Liverpool v West Ham.
Here’s what Jurgen Klopp said about the teenage centre-back in his press conference today: “I cannot say too much about his progress in the last few years, to be 100 per cent honest. But I can say a lot about his progress in the last few weeks or months since he was with us [the first team]. This is pretty exceptional, but he was already a really good kid when he arrived here. The situation was one of the benefits of having Vitor Matos in the coaching staff because he made us aware of him and said, ‘He is really good, take him in training.’ So that’s what we did and he looked good.”
Stat: Arsenal have won as many league titles in the last 40 years as they have won league games away at Manchester United. Steven Pye investigates…
And now some quotes from Southampton boss Ralph Hasenhüttl.
Here he is revealing that Moussa Djenepo, Will Smallbone and Mohammed Salisu will miss the Villa trip.
“They are all back in team sessions so far but not back fit to play. For this game it is a little bit early, I think, but they are on a good way. It’s not so easy to come into the team at the moment, but that raises the quality of the sessions and this is what we want to see.”
And a few lines on Theo Walcott’s return: “I’m very happy to hear that he likes it here and enjoys what we are doing here. I think it is the same in what I have seen so far on the pitch – normally you get a feeling for how much a player enjoys his play here. I’m happy he is available again for the weekend. It’s important that he steps into the team, learns very quick and is open-minded for this new stuff we try to implement. Let’s have a look at how much he helps us. I’m very positive that he will.”
Thanks Luke. Hello again. Aston Villa are third in the table although boast a better points-per-match ratio than top two Everton and Liverpool. Boss Dean Smith has been talking about the home game with Southampton on Sunday.
On team news: “The idea of the game is making sure players are all pushing for a place in the team. We’ve started the season really well and had a 40-minute blip against Leeds last Friday. I’m sure the players who haven’t been in the starting line-up will smell a little bit of blood and want to get into that starting line-up. Everyone who was fit for Leeds is fit for Sunday.”
On responding to 3-0 defeat by Leeds: “They were disappointed obviously. We’d spoken in the days before about how we didn’t want to turn it into a game that favoured Leeds – end-to-end. They’re renowned for their intensity and their fitness levels and as soon as they scored that first goal, we got drawn into the trap of going toe-to-toe with them. There was no getting high and no getting low. We haven’t been too high after the four straight wins at the start of the season and we won’t get too low over a poor 40 minutes.”
Brighton & Hove Albion manager Graham Potter says there is ‘an outside chance’ that Davy Pröpper will be involved with the squad this weekend for Sunday’s encounter against Spurs.
Potter said yesterday: “He is getting better and better, closer and closer.
“There is an outside chance of him being involved at the weekend.”
Thanks Dave. Hello again everyone. Now, some news about the Premier League league leaders, hot off the news wires:
Everton will be without James Rodriguez for Sunday’s trip to Newcastle as the Premier League leaders look to return to winning ways. Carlo Ancelotti speaks: “We have back Jonjoe Kenny and (Jarrad) Branthwaite. James will not be available, and we have (Seamus) Coleman out and Richarlison and Lucas Digne suspended. He (Rodriguez) has played all the games. He had a little problem, so he needs to rest for this game and he will be available for the next game.” (PA)
And now a musical interlude. Here’s a song about birthday boy Diego Maradona. Kicks in at 0:47s if you’re thinking it’s just a man talking over a drum. While it plays, I’ll hand back to Luke…
Some Pep Guardiola now as he discusses Manchester City team news for the game against Sheffield United.
It seems as if Gabriel Jesus and Nathan Ake are nearing a return but Sergio Aguero and Benjamin Mendy are still sidelined.
“They are getting better. Now we have a training session, so we will have an update after. Gabriel is getting better, Nathan is getting better, Mendy hasn’t started training with the squad. Sergio is progressing. Still not available to train with us but progressing.”
Excellent piece here from Bill Hern and David Gleave on Dennis Walker.
Sheffield United mean business against Manchester City on Saturday lunchtime. And to prove it, they’ve put a pic of Chris Wilder looking determined in a tweet. With some quotes.
Nuno Espirito Santo comes up against Roy Hodgson tonight as Wolves and Crystal Palace kick off the weekend Premier League action. He has some nice words to say…
“Crystal Palace are a very good team, fully of talented players. Roy is a gentleman that I really admire. It will be a pleasure to be with him tomorrow again. I can learn a lot of things [from Hodgson]. I wish I had the chance to have a proper dinner, hours to speak and to share with Roy. He’s been a manager in so many countries, he’s seen and worked with so many different players. He managed big clubs; Inter, he’s managed national teams; England, Switzerland, so he has such a rich experience, I wish I could have time to share. But sometimes it’s not easy, even before and after the games, all these regulations are there, so it’s not easy for us as managers to share with an open mind. It has to be in a proper place with silence, and a good conversation would be amazing.”
And a final bit of Klopp on the fitness of midfield duo Thiago Alcantara and Naby Keita.
“Both are on a good way, that’s how it is with rehab or recovery. You saw the incident, how it happened, with Thiago so that obviously needs now a little bit of time to settle. Nobody can say exactly how long because nothing is ruptured and nothing is broken or stuff like this. He’s desperate to make the next steps. If he will be ready for tomorrow, we will see. Same with Naby, just a different kind of injury I would say.”
More from Jurgen Klopp as he explains away Jordan Henderson’s half-time withdrawal against FC Midtjylland.
“Jordan Henderson did not have a fitness problem. Responsible is maybe the better word for [the substitution]. I can count a little bit and so I can count the games we played, I can count all the games the players played and we have to try to get through this period. If you have a look at the schedule then you see the month like October is a month like a usual December and November is a month like a usual December. Then December is still December, so that means we have the intensity of the most hectic schedule, which we have every year in December [but] we have it now already and that’s why we have to make these kind of decisions. We will make them as long as we can make them. The boys are ready to go.”
Mourinho was also asked about Gareth Bale, and has reiterated that the Welshman cannot be expected to replicate the form that initially earned him a move to Real Madrid:
“I repeat the same – seven years is a long, long, long gap,” Mourinho said. “So which player in the world is the same as he was seven years ago? Sometimes they’re not better or worse, they’re just different players. For example you look to Ronaldo and Messi, and compare them with seven years ago. They play in different areas, different positions. They transform their qualities to try and explore their qualities in other responsibilities in the tactical system of their teams. I think it happens with the majority of the players, so for sure he is a different player. Every word that I told on Wednesday I believe in them because he is working very, very hard. He is improving. He doesn’t have one single injury since he came back from the last one. He didn’t miss one single training session. To play 90 minutes is still hard, to play high intensity is still difficult, but he is improving. He is improving, and hopefully he will be back to a better level soon.”
The Tottenham boss Jose Mourinho says his side missed Tanguy Ndombele during the 1-0 Europa League defeat by Royal Antwerp, reports PA. “Tanguy felt just a little sign of fatigue in a muscular area and he was also protected,” Mourinho said. “Normally Friday he is training as normal and is ready to play Sunday, and to be honest we missed him – because he gives speed to the team. Thinking quick, thinking fast, moving the ball quick and fast, we missed him.”