Premier League team news and more: weekend football countdown 2019

Andy Hunter, Football, Minute by minutes, News, Premier League, Simon Burnton, Sport, Tom Davies, UK Sport


 though Goal’s Neil Jones reports the player has declared himself fine.

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain has been playing for Liverpool’s Under-23s against Derby. He was expected to play for the first half but was taken off four minutes before the break. Carl Markham, the Press Association reporter at Derby’s training ground, says “he was maybe holding his right hamstring”.

This just in from the Associated Press, regarding Chelsea’s two-window ban, which Fifa has refused to delay:

Fifa says its appeals committee has denied a request from Chelsea to freeze a one-year transfer ban while the club challenges the punishment.

Chelsea could now ask the Court of Arbitration for Sport to grant an interim ruling, which would allow players to be signed in the close season.

Chelsea was banned from registering new players until January 2020 for breaking rules designed to protect teenage players. The club denies wrongdoing.

In previous similar cases involving top Spanish clubs, Fifa granted provisional measures which meant transfer bans were not enforced during the appeal process.

The Fifa appeal panel chairman, Thomas Bodstrom, joined soccer’s governing body after those Spanish cases were decided.

Hello again! Simon here, taking the baton back for a bit. Here’s a little preview of Crystal Palace v Brighton:

News snippet from Scotland: Rangers’ Alfredo Morelos, who’s been collecting goals and cards in more or less equal measure this season, has signed a contract extension tying him to the club until 2023. “He is a competitive individual and he is a winner. He is what Rangers needs,” trilled his manager, Steven Gerrard.

Premier League match previews and squad sheets are beginning to drop in. Here’s Newcastle v Everton:

 

The Times are reporting that Watford have written to the FA asking to be kept informed about the investigation into Manchester City’s approach to Jadon Sancho, and that they could seek compensation from City if it is decided that improper payments were made to Sancho’s family and agents when he moved from Hertfordshire to Manchester at the age of 14. The two clubs meet in the Premier League tomorrow.

 

Swiss Ramble’s take on Wolves’ 2017-18 financial results is worth a read. They key details are that they made a £57m loss, but also got promoted. The thread starts below:

Monchi, Roma’s sporting director but frequently linked with Arsenal in recent months, has left the Italian club.

Here are a couple of key reads if you want to get up to speed on the Monchi story:

All league matches in Albania have been suspended, after the decision of the referee’s association to pull out of officiating matches in response to violence against one of their members.

The referee’s association said it wants police to control stadium security after the “failed experiment” with private firms.

The federation expelled FK Kamza and three of its officials from this season’s championship and fined the club following violence against a referee last weekend. Elder Jan Hamiti was hit several times at the end of a league match against KF Laci, which ended 1-1 after the visitors were awarded a late penalty.

Here’s another highlight from that interview. Great stuff:

If you’re a good footballer but don’t know how to respect others, you’re nobody. Sometimes it’s difficult but we are humans before we are footballers. We should respect each other. On the pitch, off the pitch – why should it be different?

Hytner has met Son Heung-min, who spoke at length about his childhood and his father’s rather intense coaching. Here’s a snippet:

“My father says this and I agree, as well,” Son says. “When you marry, the number one will be family, wife and kids – and then football. I want to make sure that while I play at the top level, football can be number one. You don’t know how long you can play at the top level. When you retire, or when you are 33, 34, you can still have a long life with your family.”

It is put to Son that most European managers prefer their players to marry and settle down. “Yeah, because there are many opportunities to do things off the pitch, like drinking or something like this,” he replies. “But I am not the type that likes doing this stuff.

“I just want to make sure that I make everyone happy by playing at the top level. For example, when I play for Spurs at Wembley, how many Korean flags do you see? I want to keep my level as high as possible for as long as I can, to pay back to them. This is very important for me.”

Here’s Jamie Jackson’s take on Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s press conference this morning:

Here’s a story from Reuters about Crystal Palace’s Luka Milivojevic, whose international career isn’t going so well:

Crystal Palace midfielder Luka Milivojevic has been axed from Serbia’s squad for their Euro 2020 qualifying campaign after falling out with coach Mladen Krstajic over their group stage exit at last year’s World Cup.

“Luka is no longer ready to play for Serbia because we have failed to come to terms and put certain issues behind us,” Krstajic told a news conference on Friday. “Serbia is bigger than either Milivojevic or myself and our priority is to create a good atmosphere for what lies ahead.”

Krstajic and Milivojevic fell out after the midfielder criticised the coach’s tactics and team selection in a 2-1 defeat by Switzerland, in their second group stage match at the World Cup in Russia.

Assistant coach Milan Obradovic then accused Milivojevic of plotting a “coup” against the staff during the tournament and the Palace captain was subsequently left out of Serbia’s Nations League campaign, having denied their allegations.

Krstajic and his assistants said they met with Milivojevic in London last month in a bid to resolve the conflict but the midfielder was adamant he would not apologise for his remarks.

“We failed to find common ground despite the fact that both parties said they only wanted what’s best for Serbia,” said Krstajic after naming his squad for a Euro 2020 qualifier against Portugal on March 25 and the friendly against Germany in Wolfsburg on March 20. “It’s no longer open for discussion.”

Mauricio Pochettino will not be on the bench when Spurs visit Southampton this weekend. Here’s what he thinks about it:

 

Jurgen Klopp has said Mohamed Salah is a fundamental reason why Liverpool are challenging for the Premier League title as he dismissed concerns over the Egypt international’s recent form.

Salah will equal Alan Shearer’s Premier League record of scoring 50 goals in the fewest number of games for a single club should he convert once against Burnley on Sunday. The 26-year-old would also shatter the Liverpool record held by Fernando Torres in the process. Torres required 72 matches to hit the half-century for Liverpool while Sunday represents Salah’s 66th league appearance for the club.

Liverpool’s 20-goal leading scorer has not scored in four games, however, and despite being deemed “unplayable” by Klopp against Watford he endured a difficult afternoon at Everton last weekend. Salah has never gone five appearances without a goal for Liverpool and his manager insists he is satisfied with the forward’s contribution.

“We very often have talks,” said Klopp. “Of course, when you are a striker or offensive player and you have chances in the game, you want to score with them in the game – that’s clear. But as a manager, I’m more than used to that players don’t score all the time. That’s how it is.

“He has an unbelievable record. His goals brought us where we are – not only, but it was a big part of it. No, we didn’t really speak about it because it’s completely normal. We have to create chances. In a very difficult game against Everton, we had four or five proper chances. We had less than that in games when we won against Everton, to be honest. This game, always one Everton leg was in between us and the goal or Pickford. That’s the situation, but nothing else.”

Liverpool welcome back Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain from an 11-month injury lay-off today when the midfielder returns for the under-23s at Derby County. Klopp also expects to have Joe Gomez back after this month’s international break although James Milner and Dejan Lovren are doubts for Burnley.

The Liverpool manager added: “It’s a rather positive moment. Dejan trained yesterday for the first time completely normal. Joe is now running with 100% of his weight. Most of the things will be around after the international break, for example, Joe. Dejan was out for a while so we have to see how his fitness is exactly. He’s not injured, he’s fit, but how to fit we have to see.

“Rhian [Brewster] trained, looked really good, but he’s in a situation Ox was in maybe three weeks ago. Milly, we will have to see. It’s Milly, so everything heals quicker; he was already outside yesterday. He had a little bit with a muscle issue but still three days to go until the game and I think if you ask Milly he will say I will be ready.”

Scottish football news now, and Rangers have announced that Alfredo Morelos has signed a new four-year contract at the club. The 22-year-old has scored 16 goals in 24 league games this season. Steven Gerrard had this to say about the news:

It’s always important at big clubs like this one to make sure your top players are secured long term. Alfredo has been excellent for Rangers and his scoring record tells you he is in tune with what we are trying to achieve.

The last time Liverpool played Burnley Joe Gomez’s leg was broken and Jurgen Klopp was very angry and said that Burnley’s sliding tackles turned football into 10-pin bowling:

The injury threat is massive. That was hard. You get the ball, nice, but it’s like bowling because you get the player as well. It happened four or five times

There is nothing to say about that any more. I say what I said at the time, nearly three months ago. We are human beings, we react in the moment. I made a lot of mistakes in my life, and most of the time I regret them. For me, the game is a special situation and in different circumstances, you can imagine what is said in and around the game.

From my point of view, I don’t think there is anything to regret but I’m not sure. I have no bad feelings about that game because of something which happened in the past. It was an injury, it happened then and he [Gomez] is still not playing. That is all you can say.

Philip Billing, Huddersfield’s 22-year-old midfield colossus, has been asked if his future lies at the club. And here’s what he said:

Yes for the last nine games, for sure it is. Whatever happens in the summer or next season, I don’t know. Anything can happen. We might go down, I might stay, I might leave, who knows? But as it stands now I’m still a Huddersfield Town player.

We’re working hard in training to give everything in our last nine games. Whether we’re relegated or stay up, we’re going to fight for each other and see what happens. But of course in football you always kind of play a bit for yourself as well to make sure in the future you have a better chance of staying in the league you want to stay in. But staying together as a team and focus on the nine games. That’s the main focus now.

e got this right, Uefa essentially does their own VAR of the VAR decisions,” writes Oliver. “What happens if they determine the decision by VAR and the referee was wrong? Does the game get replayed?”

I think VAR decisions will frequently be questionable but will very rarely be entirely inexplicable, which is probably all Uefa need.

Neil Warnock has insisted he is the best man to lead Cardiff, after criticism of the job he is doing at the club and with the former players Danny Gabbidon and Nathan Blake both questioning the team spirit after they dropped into the relegation zone on the back of three successive defeats.

If they’ve been in the dressing room when I’ve not been around I don’t know. When you lose three games like we have, you are flat. Your body language is flat and training is not the same. I don’t think there’s any rift whatsoever. If I thought it’d be better to have somebody different in the place, I’d say good luck to them. But I think I’m the best one to get us over the line this year.

I can also offer you some moving pictures of Brendan Rodgers. Moving as in literally moving, they are not particularly emotional.

 

Here’s today’s Rumour Mill, featuring a Real Madrid fallout update and the Juventus shopping spree latest:

 

Camden Town Ladies FC has unveiled a rather striking new kit for International Women’s Day, celebrating some notable Camden-linked women:

Jürgen Klopp is holding his pre-weekend press conference, and has been asked what kind of impact trailing Manchester City in the league will have on his players:

The plan is clear. We have to win football games. It’s difficult enough. Probably we will know their result before we start our game. There’s no reason to make a big fuss of it. It’s like this. We are in a position we like to be. We liked the position before. We always said, we want to be in a position to fight for the top spot in the league and we are still in it and that’s all we need to be positive, to be optimistic, to be excited about the challenge. Our only problem this weekend is Burnley, actually, and that’s enough.

Uefa have released “additional information and elements that were taken into consideration by the VAR and referees” during key incidents in this week’s Champions League games. And this is what they say of the Manchester United penalty at PSG:

Presnel Kimpembe of Paris Saint-Germain handles the ball
Presnel Kimpembe of Paris Saint-Germain handles the ball after a shot by Diogo Dalot of Manchester United during the Champions League match at Parc des Princes.
Photograph: Chris Brunskill/Fantasista/Getty Images

The VAR, after checking various different angles available to him, recommended to the referee an on-field review following the penalty area incident.

Given that the referee did not recognise the incident clearly during live play (referred to as serious missed incident in the VAR protocol) an on-field review was conducted.

Following the on-field review, the referee confirmed that the distance that the ball travelled was not short and the impact could therefore not be unexpected. The defender’s arm was not close to the body, which made the defender’s body bigger thus resulting in the ball being stopped from travelling in the direction of the goal. The referee, therefore, awarded a penalty kick.

All the above-mentioned decisions were made in full compliance with the VAR protocol.

In other words, it was the correct decision according to Uefa’s VAR protocol.

We have an exclusive interview with Barcelona’s Toni Duggan, after England’s triumph in the she believes Cup:

We want a major honour, and we’re good enough to win one so it is just the start. I think we’ve always had it but the proof is in the pudding and what better way to go into the World Cup than knowing you’ve come from behind against two of the top nations in the world? There will be times when we do go behind, hopefully not, but if there are we can draw on this experience together and pull through.

Manchester United injury update: Solskjaer said that Anthony Martial is ready for action, while Nemanja Matic and Ander Herrera could also be available for Sunday’s trip to Arsenal. Paul Pogba, who missed Wednesday’s win over PSG because of suspension, will be in the squad.

 

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is holding his weekly press conference, where he has inevitably been asked about his own future, given media reports that he is about to get the job on a full-time basis.

That’s just the media. I’m not here to get excited, I’m here to do my job. And of course you cannot have two contracts when you’re a manager, so that contract [with Molde] was terminated. So I’m contracted to Man United until the end of June. We’re looking to pre-season and also we look at players and hopefully the ones the club will sign will play here for many, many years. I love managing these boys. I love working here, and as I’ve said so many times, I’m just doing the best I can every single day. If and when it comes to a decision to be made, we’ve got to think about that.

With Crystal Palace playing Brighton this weekend, here’s an article I wrote a few years ago about the genesis of their rivalry:

There’s a football match happening right now, and here’s a great photo from it. Western Sydney Wanderers lead Brisbane Road 3-1 at half-time, as eighth plays ninth in the Australian A-League.

Tarek Elrich of the Wanderers and Eric Bautheac of the Roar

 

Tarek Elrich of the Wanderers and Eric Bautheac of the Roar challenge for the ball during the round 21 A-League match between the Brisbane Roar and the Western Sydney Wanderers at Suncorp Stadium.
Photograph: Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images

And here’s a superb goal from the same game:

Another Friday dawns, and it is thus nearly the weekend, and so not far away from almost being verging on the run-up to actual football being played. Here, then, are this weekend’s Premier League fixtures (all kick-offs 3 pm GMT unless stated):

Saturday
Cardiff City v West Ham
Crystal Palace v Brighton & Hove Albion (12.30pm)
Huddersfield v Bournemouth
Leicester v Fulham
Manchester City v Watford (5.30pm)
Newcastle United v Everton
Southampton v Tottenham Hotspur

Sunday
Arsenal v Manchester United (4.30pm)
Chelsea v Wolverhampton Wanderers (2.05pm)
Liverpool v Burnley (12 pm)

And here are 10 things to look out for in this top-flight weekend:

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