The Fiver is live and it’s not even five o’clock! Get your tea-timely fill of
cutting edge satire here:
Here’s a bit more from Mauricio Pochettino on an eventful week for Son Heung-min, who was left visibly shaken after André Gomes’s injury last weekend, which led to him receiving a red card, which was later rescinded. He then scored twice in midweek against Red Star Belgrade:
He was affected like everyone during the [Everton] game and after the game. He was involved, there was a bit of confusion in the action, with the decision to show the red card. He felt responsible, then when we concede with 10 men. But he wasn’t guilty for the injury, and he showed that he is in a good state and mental level. Of course he is sorry about Andre, like everyone, but it was a big relief with the message from Andre on social media, which was good and positive, and Son is now training and recovering well.
And here’s our match preview for tomorrow’s game against Sheffield United:
Ever since we published our Miracle of Burnley piece a few weeks ago, Sean Dyche’s team have shipped nine goals and lost three games on the spin. They won’t get a better chance to turn things around against a West Ham team who haven’t won a match since 22 September. Here’s what Sean Dyche had to say about West Ham’s visit:
We need to turn it around because the first half [in the 3-0 defeat at Sheffield United] is unacceptable. Second half we get a tiny bit of credit in that we kept going and tried to do the right things, certainly more so than in the first half. There is a lot of honesty in the group and I don’t think they will need too much to affect their own response without my words. I think there will be an adjustment this week in the mentality for the next game, that is certainly what I will be looking for.
There was good news for Dyche and Burnley on the eve of the game against the Hammers as Chris Wood joined strike partner Ashley Barnes in agreeing a new contract. Barnes committed his future on Thursday and on Friday, Wood signed up to the end of 2023. “It feels exactly like home and it’s a nice settled place for me,” Wood told the club’s official website. “I am very happy to have it signed and looking forward to the future.”
Anyway, here’s a picture of Sean Dyche’s head carved out of wood in a Burnley pub’s beer garden.
Here’s a video wrap of both Jürgen Klopp’s and Pep Guardiola’s press conferences before the ding-dong clash at Anfield on Sunday.
The Football Supporters’ Federation are inviting fans to cast their votes in 11 categories ahead of their annual awards ceremony on 16 December.
The 11 categories are as follows:
- Men’s Player of the Year
- Women’s Player of the Year
- Commentator of the Year
- Fan Media of the Year
- Newspaper of the Year (*Cough … Guardian! … *Cough)
- Online Media of the Year (*Cough … David Squires! …*Cough)
- Football Podcast of the Year (*Cough … Football Weekly! … *Cough)
- Pundit of the Year
- Radio Show of the Year
- Writer of the Year (*Cough … David Conn or Suzanne Wrack! … *Cough)
- The Safe Hands Award
Here’s a little more from Guardiola earlier on his rivalry with Klopp which, let’s face it, is hardly Clough v Revie, or Fergie v Wenger. He says as much too:
I don’t think we can compare anyone with the rivalry of Sir Alex Ferguson and Arsene Wenger, because they are absolute legends at their own clubs and for more than one decade, two decades there. I will wait to see if my hair grows in the next 20 years, because they were more than 20 years together.
A view on whether City losing Ederson is a game-changer for them:
I think the fear for City fans is how much Ederson’s distribution will be missed in a match when their backline will be pressed far more intensely than they were by Liverpool at Wembley. Bravo can play out from the back but Ederson’s passing is incredible for a goalkeeper and his accuracy makes it so much easier for City’s defenders when they receive the ball. If Bravo’s passing is slower, or not quite as accurate, it will play into Liverpool’s hands.
The weekend is fast approaching and so are our match previews. The latest to land hot off the press are Newcastle v Bournemouth and Chelsea v Crystal Palace:
“I love that Klopp is exhorting even the Anfield hotdog vendors to give it their all this Sunday,” writes Peter Oh. “Fantastic (condi)mentality! I relish seeing the Opta stat of how many frankfurters are sold. Tasty.”
Having sampled an Anfield hot dog, I too would like the hot dog vendors to raise their game, Peter.
Xhaka ‘not feeling good enough’ to play for Arsenal
Unai Emery has confirmed that Granit Xhaka is still not in the right frame of mind to play for Arsenal. The midfielder, who has not played since reacting to jeers from Arsenal fans as he left the field against Wolves, has been linked with a love to Newcastle and even with Dani Ceballos out injured, Arsenal cannot call on him to join the matchday squad for a huge test at Leicester.
I spoke with him. I spoke with him on Tuesday about how he’s feeling now and how he is in his mind. He’s working well, he’s training well, but he said to me that he’s not feeling good enough at the moment to play. We are going to wait.
Mesut Özil, however, might be brought in to face Leicester:
He’s training well and I think he’s now being consistent in the training, he’s also helping and he’s also positive. I am thinking about him for tomorrow, for the possibility to play. Now [Leicester] have a six-point difference with us and tomorrow is a very big challenge, a very good opportunity also for them and for us. I am looking forward to seeing how we can respond tomorrow.
Ole Gunnar Solskjær believes Mason Greenwood, who scored in the 3-0 win over Partizan Belgrade last night, is going to be a top, top player:
Mason is going to have a very good career, he’s a natural finisher and he’s just as composed in front of a crowd of 60,000 as he is kicking a ball about with his mates, but if it takes a couple of years for him to become established we are fine with that.
Perhaps we shouldn’t expect him to start against Brighton at Old Trafford on Sunday, though.
There’s a tasty West Midlands derby between Wolves and Aston Villa at Molineux on Sunday. It’s a difficult one to call. Wolves are coming into it on the back of a energy-sapping Europa League win, while Villa will want to put behind them the disappointment of losing very late in the day against Liverpool last weekend. Dean Smith may be without Jack Grealish again, though:
He’s 50/50 at the moment. I expected him to be training now but the bleed on his calf is bigger. He’s certainly physically OK, he’s been doing an awful lot of work in the swimming pool, we just need to make sure he can get through a training session tomorrow. The masseurs have been working on it. We’re hopeful of him training tomorrow.
Let’s hear it for Cosmin Moti!
If you have nothing planned next Thursday why not come and heckle the Guardian’s head of sport and a collection of writers as they delve behind the headlines after a stellar year of sport. Tickets are available here:
Mauricio Pochettino has been speaking about the challenge they face when the buoyant Blades visit north London tomorrow. He’s impressed by the job Chris Wilder is doing:
It is fantastic. I think everyone has seen how he has been working. It is going to be very difficult. They work so hard, what impressed me the most is their belief and togetherness. They have the spirit like a rugby team that fight for each other. That is fantastic to see in a football team. That is why they have done so well, they have a good squad, good organisation, a great manager and coaching staff. They fight for each other, they have good players, that is the key of Sheffield United, they are doing so well, they have lots of points and are in a good position in the table.
He says there is a question mark hanging over Giovani Lo Celso’s fitness but says the Premier League gives you no time to think when injuries strike:
The problem in the competition in the high level, you don’t have time to miss people. It is like now with [Erik] Lamela, or [Jan] Vertonghen, how you sit in the chair and cry because you miss someone. You miss the person, the professional, but the competition does not allow you to cry. You have to move on quick. It is a bit cruel, but you have to move on and try to win the next game. If you ask me like an MP, not as a coach, you miss the person when they are not involved, or close to you. Everyone provides different energy, but you cannot be affected. It is so important.
Everton play the first of two games against teams below them when they face Southampton on Saturday and a win is essential for under-pressure manager Marco Silva. The Saints can take heart from their performance last week against Manchester City, though. Here’s our match preview:
Kanté back in contention for Chelsea v Crystal Palace
A few injury updates from manager of the month Frank Lampard before Chelsea’s game against Crystal Palace tomorrow.
He said that Ross Barkley is out with an ankle injury and could have to withdraw from the England squad. Meanwhile Antonio Rudiger has had surgery on a groin problem and will be out for three weeks – the German has only played once this season.
More positively N’Golo Kante should start tomorrow and Mason Mount, who injured an ankle in the 4-4 draw with Ajax, is in the squad.
Lampard doesn’t have much to choose from this weekend. The intrigue is whether he starts Reece James at right-back and moves Cesar Azpilicueta to the left. My instinct is … he won’t. But would be a huge test for James against Zaha.
Lampard named Premier League manager of the month
Lampard’s doing a very decent job isn’t he? He’s pipped Jürgen Klopp to the gong for October having led his young pups to three wins in a row over Southampton, Newcastle and Burnley. Lampard is the first manager other than Pep Guardiola or Klopp to win the award since Solskjær scooped it way back in January when things were rosy for a few weeks at Manchester United. Other contenders were Leicester’s Brendan Rodgers, Aston Villa manager Dean Smith and Brighton’s Graham Potter.
Here are some more extensive quotes from Jürgen Klopp as filed by our man on Merseyside, Andy Hunter.
On Sean Cox, Klopp says he hopes to meet him on Sunday:
When it happened to Sean it was probably really the lowest point for me in my whole time at Liverpool because that is something that should not happen, in general, in life and it should not happen around a football game. It happened around a football game.
The love for Sean and his family have for this club and football I hope it gave him strength and power in his recovery time – we know it is not finished yet and there is a long way to go – but having that we can give him the opportunity to come back to watch a really big game, and he wants to do that, for me, coming from a low point, is one of my highlights since I’ve been here.
It is so nice and I am really looking forward to it. I hope we can organise for me to see him before the game for a couple of minutes – I really want to – because how the Liverpool community dealt with it I hope he feels that. We don’t normally sing ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone’, we really live that, and in this specific situation it was very important to show that. I really hope they felt that the whole time and they will feel it in the future and we can help them in this recovery.
And on concerns about the Manchester City coach, Klopp says:
“I’m a big believer of fan power – in the stadium. That’s completely different. [The coach incident] was a senseless thing. If somebody at Man City is concerned still, then it’s our fault. Not that we did it all together, we all didn’t thrown the bottle or whatever it was, but it was one of us. That’s why we are responsible. All of us have to make sure that something like this will never happen again.
It’s long ago and since then nothing has happened. I don’t think it was Man City specific. After the punishment we got, we haven’t had a similar situation – the positive outcome of something like this. Actually, we used to enjoy that [the coach welcome], when we come in, it’s impressive. It’s a nice part of football, but if you overstep the line then it’s not allowed that you do it anymore. That’s how it is.
I wish I could say it will never happen again but unfortunately I can’t. But what I can say is we will do everything that it will never happen again. Everybody agrees to feel this responsibility that it won’t happen again. That’s why I say – go in the stadium, nothing to do outside, have your food, go in, wait for the team, we will come, let’s make a pretty special game of it. In football, you never know what you get for it. But we know what we have to do for it. Let’s make sure that we show that.
It’s Der Klassiker this weekend, with Dortmund heading to Bayern for a 5.30pm GMT kick-off. Marcus Christenson sets the scene:
Bayern welcome Borussia Dortmund for the season’s first Klassiker and they do so in fourth. True, they are only four points behind the leaders, Borussia Mönchengladbach, and a single one behind Saturday’s opponents. Short term Bayern are surely able to recover from their rocky start but long term there is a question about where the club is heading.
Here’s some more Pep. He wasn’t happy when the Guardian’s Jamie Jackson asked him a question about whether he can really trust Claudio Bravo when he himself chose to replace him with Ederson after his first season at the club:
Why should I doubt any player in my team? Why do you ask these questions? You have to respect this guy, he has won trophies and the Copa América. In his first season the team was not at the top level. All the players in our squad are [there] because we have incredible confidence in them.
And on the challenge posed by Liverpool:
For me as a manager, last season when we won the league, [Liverpool were] the best contender I ever faced in my career. Right now they are one of the strongest teams in the world. We are going to try to [carefully] follow the plan in this game. When Klopp took over the team they were not a contender but in three or four years he built something marvellous.
And is the title-race over if Liverpool win and go nine points clear?
I don’t know. In November it is never the end. The experience in the squad is to fight until the end … on Sunday and in the rest of the games. Liverpool lost only one game last season and none this season … but a lot of situations can happen.
Ederson is ruled out of Liverpool v Manchester City
Pep Guardiola says Ederson is not fit to face Liverpool on Sunday:
He’s not able to play. I don’t know [when he’ll be back]. We have another top keeper. Claudio Bravo can do it [play out from the back] too. We won the Carabao Cup and FA Cup thanks to Claudio.
I missed this earlier but it appears that Steve Bruce has already hit one of his targets at Newcastle this season:
I think some of us look at October and November and think ‘we’ve got past that hurdle of getting the sack!’ I Shouldn’t say that …”
It’s not exactly breaking news, but Manchester United probably aren’t going to win the league. Here’s Ole Gunnar Solskjær explaining why:
The Premier League trophy is out of our reach, we’re too far behind the top teams. Any trophy you can get your hands on, we’re going to go for. But we need to improve our league form, definitely.
Ewan Murray has been tapping away furiously to give Stoke fans an optimistic taster of what they can expect under their new manager Michael O’Neill:
Stoke’s attraction to O’Neill is obvious. He maximises resources by creating an environment players relish. The Northern Ireland squad remained firmly behind their manager even when early results were bad. Call-offs remained at a premium, as did retirements … attention to detail for squad gatherings became wonderfully intense, whereby every aspect of opposition was bestowed on players and in various forms. O’Neill didn’t care about outsiders learning his selection – in order to give maximum preparation time, he would lay out plans at the earliest opportunity.
Unless City suffer another calamity on Sunday we probably won’t be seeing Kyle Walker in goal, which is a shame, because few things in football are as much fun as seeing an outfield player thrust between the sticks. One of our picture editors, Steve Bloor, has put together a collection of some of the best examples of this over the years here:
And a question for you: which player would you most like to see suffering an existential meltdown in goal? For me, it would have to be Cristiano Ronaldo.
Klopp was very keen that everyone at Liverpool plays their part in helping his side to victory over Manchester City on Sunday. And he means EVERYBODY!
If you want to climb you have to take top spot where City is. For us, it is obvious the improvements the boys have made [against them]. We have to play our best game, everyone. The guys who sell the hotdogs have to! That’s what I wish for.
He also spoke about the emotional impact Sean Cox’s injury had on him. Cox will be at Anfield on Sunday for the first time since being attacked by Roma fans outside the ground in 2018 and suffering life-altering injuries.
When it happened, it was the lowest point for me here at Liverpool. Because it should not happen in life or football games. The love Sean and his family have for this club, I hope it has given him strength and power in recovery. How the Liverpool community dealt with this, I hope he feels that. You’ll Never Walk Alone – they sing it and live it. I hope he felt that the whole time. We can help him.
‘Guardiola is the best manager in the world’
The Klopp-Guardiola rivalry is certainly no Fergie-Wenger, is it? Jürgen Klopp has been lavishing praise on Manchester City’s manager before Sunday’s match.
I couldn’t respect him more. For me he is the best manager in the world. Wherever he goes he has a proper impact on the team. Now he’s at Man City and it’s not too bad. I don’t have a negative relationship with anyone on the sidelines. It might look like that but it is respectful. Very respectful.
Klopp also spoke about the concerns City have about the greeting their team bus might receive.
If someone at Man City is concerned still, it is our fault. We didn’t throw the bottle but it was one of us. We all need to make sure if doesn’t happen again. It was a long time ago, nothing happened since. If we overstep the line, we cannot do it [the bus greeting] anymore.”
Women’s Champions League quarter-final ties
Atlético Madrid v Barcelona
Lyon v Bayern Munich
Glasgow City v Wolfsburg
Arsenal v PSG
Quarter-final ties to be played on 24-25 March and 1-2 April 2020.
Semi-final ties to be played on 25-26 April and 2-3 May 2020.
In the draw for the semi-finals, the winner of Glasgow City v Wolfsburg will play the winner of Atlético Madrid v Barcelona, which means Arsenal or PSG will face Lyon or Bayern Munich.
Arsenal v PSG
The English champions play the 2016-17 runners-up.
Glasgow City v Wolfsburg
Glasgow City face the two-times winners.
Lyon v Bayern Munich
The reigning champions will play the Germans, who have never won the tournament.
Atlético Madrid v Barcelona
The first quarter-final in the Women’s Champions League is an all-Spanish affair.
Michael O’Neill confirmed as Stoke manager
It’s hardly the biggest secret, but Stoke and the Irish FA have confirmed that Michael O’Neill has agreed to take the reins at embattled Stoke, who are bottom of the Championship table. He has signed a three-and-a-half year contract but will stay on for at least a couple more matches and juggle responsibilities. The club said in a statement:
O’Neill, who has signed a three-and-a-half-year contract with the Club, will take charge of City at Barnsley tomorrow after he oversaw his first training session this morning.
Michael is now fully focussed on preparing the team for the trip to Barnsley and will speak to the media for the first time as manager of Stoke City after the game in South Yorkshire.
The Irish FA added:
He will remain in charge of the Northern Ireland senior men’s team for the remaining two matches in UEFA Euro 2020 Qualifying Group C and any Euro 2020 play-off matches in March 2020.
Women’s Champions League draw! Right, this is due to get under way any second, so hold tight folks. Remember, nobody wants to draw Lyon. They have won it four times in a row and guarantee almost certain death.
Glasgow City are the minnows in the pot. They’re the only team without a men’s “parent team” and play at a sports centre. Suzanne Wrack wrote a fascinating piece about them this week:
It’s not long until the Women’s Champions League draw for the quarter-finals and semi-finals. Here’s the draw procedure, courtesy of Uefa:
- The quarter-final draw is without restriction. In each case, the club drawn first will play the opening leg at home
- For the semi-final draw, four balls are prepared: Winner of Quarter-final 1, Winner of Quarter-final 2, and so on. The draw is without restriction, following the same principles as the quarter-final draw
England’s Demi Stokes has been talking about the cross-sport solidarity between female athletes that has helped inspire each other.
When you see Jessica Ennis, Dina Asher-Smith or Nicola Adams you think: ‘God, if they can do it then I can.’ You want to see everyone win.
You can read the full article here:
Here’s a Liverpool fan’s view on Sunday’s game from below the line:
I agree, it would feel very different if City were ahead by six or nine points. Liverpool’s busy schedule and experience of letting a lead slip last season makes the title-race feel much closer than it would if Pep Guardiola’s side were top.
What a strange career Armand Traore has had: Arsenal, Portsmouth, Juventus, QPR, Nottingham Forest, Cardiff, Çaykur Rizespor, and now he’s back at Cardiff again. The 30-year-old made four appearances for Cardiff during a loan spell in the 2017-18 season. Here’s Neil Warnock confirming the news:
Armand has signed as cover. He’s been with us six weeks and he’s just about got up to fitness. It’s a short contract in case anything happens. Fans know him. He’s got a very good left foot and loads of ability. He has trained really hard in the time he has been with us. It’s an appearance-based contract as well, so it’s up to him.
Two claret and blue sides on the slide meet at Turf Moor on Saturday. Here’s Paul Wilson’s match preview:
Merseyside Police have released a statement making it clear that they are aware of the social media post calling on Liverpool fans to line the streets of Anfield with their “pyro and pints” before the match. They seem to be confident the match will go ahead without any bus-bothering trouble, as it did last year.
Merseyside Police is working with Liverpool FC and Manchester City ahead of their Premier League match at Anfield on Sunday, 10 November 2019 to ensure fans of both clubs have a safe and enjoyable afternoon.
Superintendent Paul White said: “As with any match, a comprehensive and appropriate policing operation has been put in place ahead of Sunday’s game and we have liaised with both clubs and their supporter groups.
“We are aware of one poster on social media regarding a bus welcome. The corresponding last fixture ran smoothly and we are working to ensure this game can be enjoyed safely by all as well as minimising any disruption to local residents and roads.
“As with all Premier League fixtures at Anfield, we will have officers on duty at the ground, both uniformed and plain clothed, supported by mobile CCTV, provided by Liverpool City Council, and specialist resources including the Dog Section, mounted police and the National Police Air Service. We will also have a city centre policing plan in place throughout the day. This is standard procedure.
“We know that this will be a busy operation and we hope that fans attending the match will act as ambassadors for their clubs. As usual we would ask fans with tickets to arrive at the ground as early as possible. Fans without tickets should not attend at all; they will not be allowed entry into the stadium.”
The Women’s Champions League quarter-finals and semi-finals draw takes place in 45 minutes’ time. Here’s the rundown of the teams who will be in the pot in Nyon but in short, everybody will want to avoid Lyon, whose striker Ada Hegerberg became the all-time top scorer on 53 goals last week.
Previous best: winners (2006-07)
Quarter-final record: W6 L6
Previous best: first quarter-finals
Previous best: final (2018-19)
Quarter-final record: W2 L3
Previous best: semi-finals (2018-19)
Quarter-final record: W1 L1
Previous best: quarter-final (2014-15)
Quarter-final record: W0 L1
Previous best: winners (2010-11, 2011-12, 2015-16, 2016-17, 2017-18, 2018-19)
Quarter-final record: W10 L0
Previous best: runners-up (2014-15)
Quarter-final record: W3 L1
Previous best: winners (2012-13, 2013-14)
Quarter-final record: W5 L2
Quarter-finals: 24-25 March and 1-2 April 2020
Semi-finals: 25-26 April and 2/3 May 2020
Final (Viola Park, Vienna): 24 May 2020
If Joel Matip is not fit for Liverpool this weekend, who will Jürgen Klopp pick in his place? Joe Gomez or Dejan Lovren? He’s tended to favour Lovren in recent weeks and I expect he will do so again on Sunday, perhaps because of his experience. When Gomez and Alexander-Arnold have played on the right this season, that side has looked more exposed. Whoever he chooses, City will likely get more chances than they would against the hugely impressive Van Dijk-Matip partnership.
It’s Der Klassiker tomorrow, with Bayern Munich hosting Dortmund at 5.30pm GMT. Jadon Sancho and Marco Reus are likely to miss out through injury but Bayern’s caretaker manager, Hansi Flick, still expects a huge challenge from the second-placed visitors, who are one point ahead of Bayern. Flick wants to tighten his side up at the back.
We will undertake one or two changes. The way we have been conceding goals is not very Bayern-like. It is important for the team to be active. We have to defend from the front and try to get the ball back as quickly as possible. Those are the points we want to address.
On reflection, letting Mats Hummels return to Dortmund probably wasn’t the best move was it? Both sides enjoyed midweek Champions League wins, with Dortmund’s 3-2 comeback victory against Inter the most impressive.
Forget first versus second, what about last versus second-bottom? It’s happening tonight when Norwich host Watford, who are still without a win in the league this season … but there is still hope for Quique Sánchez Flores’s side. Here’s Martin Laurence to explain why:
Sheffield United, in sixth (sixth!) visit 11th-placed Spurs tomorrow looking to extend their four-match unbeaten run in the league. It’s hard to know what to expect from Tottenham. They were bereft of confidence and disjointed at Everton but in midweek against Red Star they were full of beans and the football was flowing again as they won 4-0 in a bear-pit atmosphere. Chris Wilder reckons Spurs will soon bring that kind of form into their league campaign:
Sometimes things happen and people don’t start in the fashion they’d have wanted to, but scratch beneath the surface and what you’ve got is one of the world’s top managers coaching an unbelievable group of players. I’ve always had a lot of admiration for what Tottenham have done and the work they do on the training ground. Whatever system they play they have an identity but they mix it up – three centre-halves, diamond, all kinds of different systems. Whatever they do they have world class individuals and one result will get them up and running. They can’t fail with the amount of quality they’ve got. But it’s also another great afternoon for us to pit our wits against top-class individuals. We’ll be fearless in our approach.
There’s a sell-out crowd expected for England v Germany at Wembley tomorrow, which will be a record attendance for a women’s game in England – and it’s only a friendly! The sheen has worn off Phil Neville’s side since the run to the World Cup semi-finals, though, and Louise Taylor has looked into some of the reasons why here:
England will come up against an extraordinary talent in Dzsenifer Marozsán. The Lyon playmaker will be pulling the strings for Germany but she is just grateful to be playing at all having just recovered from a life-threatening pulmonary embolism:
There’s an intriguing match at St James’ Park on Saturday, where Newcastle host Bournemouth. It’s like the clubs have traded places in terms of style. Bournemouth are the stingy counterattacking side these days (like Rafa’s Newcastle last season), having kept three clean sheets on the bounce. They have scored only once in those games, mind. Newcastle tore West Ham apart with some freewheeling football last weekend while having a wobble at the back in the manner of the Cherries in seasons past. Newcastle will be without their former Bournemouth player, Matt Ritchie, who has had a setback while returning from an ankle injury. Bournemouth boss Eddie Howe wants more of the same from his side after the 1-0 defeat of Manchester United last weekend:
Last week was great. We were really pleased with the performance, but the most important thing now is to hit that mark each week. Newcastle have some exceptional individuals. What we know is that we need to produce that Manchester United performance and if we do that, we can do well. We need to show the same mentality we have in recent weeks. I have been really pleased with that side of our game, we have had a steeliness which has made a big difference and we want that to become part of our DNA.
Mo Salah is playing down talk of Liverpool being nailed on for the title if they win on Sunday. He’s been speaking to Sky about the title race:
They were talking about that in December last year. Six points, seven points, it’s not much. It’s just three games. It’s too early to talk about the Premier League [title].
Perhaps he has a point given how stacked Liverpool’s fixture schedule is in December. If this match was in January perhaps a nine-point lead would look insurmountable.
Can Liverpool v Manchester City be accepted as England’s biggest game? asks Paul Wilson. Well, can it?
Arsenal have suffered an injury blow before their visit to Leicester on Saturday evening. Dani Ceballos has been ruled out with a hamstring injury, and with the mightily miffed Granit Xhaka’s future at the club uncertain, it leaves Unai Emery’s options in central midfield a little light. If Arsenal want to finish in the top four, they really have to win this game. If they don’t, a gap could open up between the top four and the rest. It’s hard to see the Gunners improving enough to topple Leicester away, though. Brendan Rodgers’ side have been brilliant this season, both tactically and in terms of motivation and a win for the Foxes would surely heap more pressure on Emery.
There is some concern at Manchester City about the welcome their team bus might receive from Liverpool fans before Sunday’s match. A social media post doing the rounds is urging Liverpool supporters to line the streets around Anfield before Sunday’s game in the way they did before the Champions League quarter-final first leg in 2018, in which the City bus was damaged by bottles and other bits and pieces that were thrown its way. The post doesn’t encourage that sort of behaviour, though, and does not mention the City coach at all, but the club has sought assurances from Liverpool that the coach will be given safe passage to the ground. Here’s Jamie Jackson’s story:
Some managerial news from the Championship now, where it is being reported by Sky that the Northern Ireland manager Michael O’Neill is taking a training session at Stoke ahead of being announced as their new boss. It’s understandable why they would want him to get his hands dirty so quickly. They’re bottom of the table, on eight points, and face second-bottom Barnsley – who are a point ahead of them – tomorrow. He’s been brilliant for Northern Ireland, but is he the right choice for Stoke? He hasn’t managed a club side for eight years – and he’s only managed two in his career: Shamrock Rovers and Brechin City.
Unless you’ve been living under a rock this week, you may have heard there’s a match taking place at Anfield on Sunday. It’s the biggest Premier League match of the season to date by a stretch. Liverpool are six clear and could extend their lead to nine points, or they could be pegged back to three if City record their first league win at Anfield since 3 May 2003, when the Reds were undone by two goals from one of their former players, Nicolas Anelka, who was partnered in attack by the one and only Robbie Fowler. And who was the manager? Mr Kevin Keegan.
Will Ederson be fit for Sunday, though? We may find out at 1.30pm, when I’ll bring you news from Pep Guardiola’s press conference. Maybe Kyle Walker is his No 1 now. He does like a ball-playing keeper doesn’t he? Jürgen Klopp will face the press at 12.30 GMT, which is when the Women’s Champions League draw will be taking place. I’ll bring you news of the quarter-final lineup and the eight teams will find out who they may face in the semi finals, too.
The eight teams in the pot for the Women’s Champions League draw are as follows:
Arsenal, Atlético Madrid, Barcelona, Bayern Munich, Glasgow City, Lyon, PSG, Wolfsburg.
And here are the Premier League fixtures this weekend:
Norwich v Watford (8pm)
Is it too early to call tonight’s match a relegation six-pointer?
Chelsea v Crystal Palace (12.30pm)
Burnley v West Ham (3pm)
Newcastle v Bournemouth (3pm)
Southampton v Everton (3pm)
Spurs v Sheffield United (3pm)
Leicester v Arsenal (5.30pm)
Manchester United v Brighton (2pm)
Wolves v Aston Villa (2pm)
Liverpool v Manchester City (4.30pm)
If you’re wondering what to look out for in the matches above, this should help:
I’ll bring you any news from Germany on Der Klassiker, too. Managerless Bayern, in fourth, host second-placed Dortmund at 5.30pm GMT on Saturday. It’s a big one.