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Wednesday, December 1, 2021

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Defiant Solskjær vows to emulate Ferguson fightback at United – as it happened – The Guardian

5.54pm BST 17:54

And that is quite literally that. Thanks for reading, emailing and tweeting, as always, and good luck to your team this weekend. Have a good one!

5.51pm BST 17:51

We’re edging steadily towards the end of today’s weekend football countdown. The top lines?

The Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjær has vowed to fight to turn the fortunes of the team around and emulate Sir Alex Ferguson.

Chelsea manager Thomas Tuchel revealed that Mateo Kovavic sustained a hamstring injury in the last minute of training yesterday.

The Liverpool manager Jürgen Klopp, despite his unbeaten team hammering Man Utd 5-0 last weekend, says they have to defend better.

Christian Eriksen, meanwhile, may be forced to move on from Internazionale as he is not be permitted to play in Serie A with the pacemaker he had fitted after that cardiac arrest at the Euros.

5.45pm BST 17:45

Injury-hit Manchester City Women may have Vicky Losada and Hayley Raso available for selection for Sunday’s FA Cup semi-final against Chelsea, according to news on the official club site.

The teenage goalkeeper Khiara Keating has a fractured elbow, and Alanna Kennedy and Ruby Mace are cup-tied, while longer-term absentees Lucy Bronze and Ellie Roebuck remain sidelined.

5.39pm BST 17:39

If by some freak chance you missed it earlier, here’s 10 things to look out for in the Premier League this weekend:

5.38pm BST 17:38

“If the screen-watching, millimetre-hawkeyeing, line-drawing, mouse-clicking referees in the back room have any sense of humour, they would dress up in VARmpire costumes this weekend,” emails resident pun monster Peter Oh.

5.34pm BST 17:34

QPR kick off against Nottingham Forest in the Championship in a couple of hours. Courtesy of the match preview on the official QPR website, some thoughts from both managers:

Mark Warburton (QPR manager): “It will be a very good test, they (Forest) have a very good squad. You look at the backline, the midfield, with the likes of Colback and Yates, of course Grabban up front is very strong. The options they have from the bench as well, they are a very talented team, they have a huge amount of pace, Steve [Cooper] has come in, had a good run of games and done well, so we must meet a challenge.”

Steve Cooper (Nottingham Forest manager): “In the second half of last season, they (QPR) were as good as anybody in terms of form and the way they played. They have good experience in the team and players who have had success in the league, so it’s a tough away game, but one we are looking forward to.”

5.29pm BST 17:29

A piece here from a couple of days ago, by Richard Foster, on the hidden work done by football’s army of statisticians (featuring the thoughts of the top footie commentator, Peter Drury):

5.24pm BST 17:24

A little more from David Moyes below, who said earlier that he’s unsure of the latest news regarding Czech businessman Daniel Kretinsky’s rumoured investment in the club, but said ‘it sounds as if something is happening’. Asked about West Ham’s good form in general before Sunday’s meeting with Aston Villa, the Scot said:

“I’ve had the feel good factor here for over 12 months, ever since we got rid of the feeling that there was a chance of relegation,” said Moyes. “I think we’ve blossomed, and we’ve all become much better. I think it’s probably been hanging over West Ham for a couple of seasons, maybe longer, and I think we are feeling much better than that.

“We feel like we can be a side who can be different, a side who can be competitive in the league and hopefully in the cup competitions as well. The way I thought West Ham needed to go was I needed to try to make the team better. To grow the team. We needed to become a better side, and I’m sure there are people off the field who are looking at ways to make West Ham a better football club off the field as well.

“But at the moment my job is to try and get the team right. I couldn’t tell you an awful lot about the other stuff. I’ll wait with interest as much as you’re waiting.” West Ham head to Aston Villa on Sunday with Declan Rice and Michail Antonio back in the squad after being rested in midweek.

Updated at 5.26pm BST

5.18pm BST 17:18

The Norwich manager Daniel Farke believes he retains the support of his club in the wake of last week’s 7-0 drubbing by Chelsea. The Canaries are bottom and still searching for a Premier League win.

“I know that I’ve got the trust. We are working together nearly five years,” the German said of Norwich sporting director Stuart Webber. “We have had an amazing time together, we have created so much for this club and our relationship is always full of trust and honesty and we are there shoulder to shoulder …

“For us as a group it [the defeat by Chelsea] was not acceptable. We are not happy with just two points after nine games, we are not happy with position 20, and we are especially not happy with conceding seven in the last game. Each and every game on this level is difficult, especially for a newly-promoted side. But we know right now it’s a bit like a crunch time period for us. In these next games we need to win as many games as possible and the jury will be out after the season, not nine game days. It’s always where you are after 38 games, for that we haven’t given up hope. We are not happy with the status quo but we will keep fighting, keep going.”

5.10pm BST 17:10

“Emma Hayes has warned Chelsea not to be complacent when they attempt to reach the FA Cup final at the expense of struggling Manchester City on Sunday.”

It’s the prolific Jacob Steinberg again, this time with some news from women’s football:

Updated at 5.15pm BST

5.08pm BST 17:08

Jacob Steinberg talks to Antonio Rüdiger, of Chelsea and Germany.

“Pressing is a finely tuned skill. “It’s automatism,” Rüdiger says. “You have to do it in training and everyone has to be switched on. Sorry to say it, but there shouldn’t be any fuck-ups. Any little detail which you don’t put in, it can cost you a lot. When you press so high, somewhere there’s space on the pitch. If one sleeps it can be chaos.””

4.55pm BST 16:55

The Brentford head coach Thomas Frank admits he does not know how progressing to the Carabao Cup quarter-finals will affect his side’s Premier League form. The Bees, who booked their place in the last eight with a 2-1 win at Stoke on Wednesday, travel to Burnley on Saturday.

Brentford are unbeaten away and will face a side still searching for their first league win – but Frank harbours cup as well as league aspirations. “I just know one thing. We would like to do as well as possible in the League Cup. We’re now in the quarter-finals, why not try to win it?” he said. “There are some massive clubs there but we’ll do our very best. Last year we managed to get to the semi-finals even though we were in the Championship and played even more games in December than we are planning to do this year. I know my staff is so skilful everything will be planned, we’ll be on top of that, so if we’re not unlucky with injuries like I think we have been then I can’t see a reason why we shouldn’t give it a big shot.”

Brentford will be without first-choice goalkeeper David Raya, who sustained knee ligament damage in Sunday’s defeat by Leicester and is expected to be out for four to five months. Fellow Spaniard Álvaro Fernández, who signed on loan from Huesca in August, played on Wednesday and could make his Premier League debut this weekend. “100% [he is ready)]” Frank said. “Otherwise we wouldn’t have got him in the summer. We’ve got a lot of belief in Álvaro, I think he’s a very talented goalkeeper.

“He arrived a little bit late because of the Olympics, so he had a little bit of a staggered pre-season, but I’m pleased it’s now two or three months into it because now he knows our principles, the way we want to do it, the demands we have of him and his position, and he’s just gradually done better and better and better.” (PA)

4.47pm BST 16:47

Richard Jolly reports on Jürgen Klopp’s press conference earlier, in which he called on his unbeaten team to defend better:

4.40pm BST 16:40

Some fairly generic football-manager-pours-praise-on-one-of-his-own-players here from Brendan Rodgers, of Leicester, regarding Youri Tielemans. The 24-year-old Belgian Tielemans, they say, is attracting interest from Europe’s top clubs.

“I think he’s progressing well, he’s doing very well,” said Rodgers. “He came in January 2019 and he has progressed into one of Europe’s top midfielders. He’s only going to get better. An incredible professional. His mindset is to work at the highest level. He’s progressing and that’s what you want to see in your players. It will come with even more experience, even more games. He’s one of the best professionals I’ve ever worked with. His job is to create goals and score goals but he’s proven himself to battle physically in the league. He’s really worked on that aspect of his game.

“If you look across the board in terms of ideal footballers, being mentally tough, being intelligent, having bravery, having quality, he ticks every one of those boxes. At 24 years of age, he’s a brilliant player. He is so efficient in games.” (Quotes via PA Media)

Tielemans scored a screamer against Brentford last week. Photograph: Andrew Fosker/REX/Shutterstock Updated at 4.42pm BST

4.35pm BST 16:35

Celtic will be without injured Tom Rogic until after the international break, but the manager Ange Postecoglou hopes the rest will allow the midfielder to maintain his early-season form. The Australia international suffered a hamstring injury during the midweek win over Hibernian and will miss games against Livingston, on Saturday, plus Ferencvaros and Dundee.

Postecoglou said: “He had a scan on his hamstring. It’s going to put him out for at least two to three weeks. It’s not a major one but he definitely won’t be involved in these games. Then obviously we have the international window, and if everything goes to plan he should be available once we get back from that.” (PA)

4.33pm BST 16:33

Again, as we reported earlier, Liverpool’s Naby Keita is fit and firing despite that horror tackle by Paul Pogba of Manchester United last weekend. (Halloween puns R us.)

Fabinho is still out, and Thiago is nearing fitness, but again, won’t be fit for the weekend.

Liverpool FC (@LFC) 📋 The boss brings you the latest team news ahead of #LIVBHA ⤵️

October 29, 2021 4.29pm BST 16:29

Ole Gunnar Solskjær had a chat earlier, as you know. Here’s a snippet of his press conference. The poor guy is wearing a haunted look after a very tough week, which is all too appropriate for Halloween.

‘I’ll always give it a good shot’: Solskjær vows to fight back after Liverpool loss – video 4.27pm BST 16:27

Wolves had an open training session today, and great banter ensued when the players walked out sporting various Halloween masks:

Wolves Halloween training. It’s good, but it’s not Napoli’s official Halloween kit, which they’ve now worn twice in anger:

Official SSC Napoli (@en_sscnapoli) October 18, 2021 4.17pm BST 16:17

The Tottenham manager Nuno Espírito Santo is not concerning himself with the long-term futures of Dele Alli and Harry Winks. Alli was unable to make a nine-man bench for the midweek Carabao Cup win at Burnley, while Winks has barely featured under Nuno. Winks has been outspoken about his desire for regular action while Alli seems unlikely to allow another season to be wasted.

“They are our players, they are here with us,” Nuno said. “There’s nothing to be worried about. It’s a situation that we have to work, we have to improve all the players, build momentum on the performance of the players … We are talking about January, so far away, so far away. We have to focus on what we do now. With all of the players, all of the personal situations of the players, I address them personally … you will never see me in a press conference addressing issues with players. I deal with it personally.”

Regarding his Manchester United counterpart, Ole Gunnar Solskjær, who is under considerable pressure following last weekend’s heavy defeat by Liverpool, he added: “There’s no manager in the world that’s not under pressure. It’s part of our job … My focus is on what I can control and what I can impact. It’s on the players, on the squad, on the work we do, on the players when we are together, hours we spend here in the training ground … if you focus on that, that will go to your home also as you keep thinking what I should do the next day. Keep focusing on what you think about and ignore the noise.”

Bryan Gil will be assessed ahead of the game after picking up a hamstring injury at Burnley, while Ryan Sessegnon is definitely out. (PA)

Updated at 4.20pm BST

4.06pm BST 16:06

Here’s Nick Ames with some news from the WSL:

The Arsenal Women head coach, Jonas Eidevall, believes international football needs a shake-up to avoid overwhelming margins of victory that risk putting off the game’s burgeoning audience.

“Football is boring when the scoreline gets like that – I don’t think it’s entertaining to watch,” he said. “At the same time you understand the need to grow women’s football, that we need to have a lot of nations participating, but maybe you could do it in another format.”

4.01pm BST 16:01

“Just over a year ago, Solskjær fronted up after the 6-1 home thrashing by Tottenham, calling it his “worst day”. After Sunday’s 5-0 humiliation, he experienced his “darkest day”. He’s given himself nowhere to go.”

Gregg Bakowski is here with an Ole-themed The Fiver:

3.54pm BST 15:54

And yet more from Vieira, this time via the magic of the PA news wire:

Patrick Vieira insisted it was a “joy” to work with Chelsea loanee Conor Gallagher and believes that the youngster can continue to improve at Crystal Palace. Gallagher is on loan at Selhurst Park this season after coming through the Chelsea youth system, and has made nine appearances, scoring two goals. He is likely to be part of the team when Palace travel to Manchester City on Saturday, and Vieira was full of praise for the 21-year-old midfielder.

“Working with Conor, it’s a joy really because he is a player who wants to fill his potential, he wants to learn and he wants to work hard and he’s bringing this energy to the team,” Vieira said. “The staff and myself are really enjoying working with him. He comes in every morning with a big smile on his face and is leaving the training ground with a big smile as well. When he’s on the field he’s working hard every single day and he is a player that wants to fulfil his potential and I think that is a really important tool to have as a player, to improve yourself and keep challenging yourself.”

Vieira would not be drawn on whether the club would be interested in permanently signing Gallagher at the end of his loan deal next summer. “It’s really too early to talk about these kind of decisions,” he said. “We are really glad that he decided to come to our football club and I think we had the tools to attract him to our football club and I believe that he made the right decision, but what will happen in the future I think we have to wait a couple of months to talk about that.”

Patrick Vieira (left) and Conor Gallagher. Photograph: Sebastian Frej/MB Media/Getty Updated at 3.54pm BST

3.49pm BST 15:49

Words from Patrick Vieira before he takes Crystal Palace to the Etihad tomorrow:

“We have to be brave, try to play our game and play with personality. I want the players to take responsibility on the field and express themselves, because we have the talent to make it difficult for them.”

Crystal Palace F.C. (@CPFC) Bravery x personality. 💪#CPFC

October 29, 2021 Updated at 3.50pm BST

3.45pm BST 15:45

From the Premier League’s official Twitter: Robin van Persie was pretty, pretty good:

Premier League (@premierleague) 🔟 years ago Robin van Persie collected the match ball as @Arsenal and Chelsea played out a #PL classic #OnThisDay pic.twitter.com/SqgQx26vYk

October 29, 2021 Chelsea 3-5 Arsenal – 10 years ago today.

3.39pm BST 15:39

Can Newcastle build on last week’s point at Crystal Palace when Chelsea come to town tomorrow? Match preview:

3.37pm BST 15:37

The Wolves manager Bruno Lage is content with progress made during his tenure but has urged his players not to get too comfortable. Wanderers have collected 10 of 13 available Premier League points from their previous four fixtures after Lage lost four of his opening five top-flight games.

Wolves welcome Everton to Molineux on Monday and their manager is eager to continue accumulating points in order to ease pressure during a “very hard” winter, which includes seven league games in December and defenders Willy Boly and Romain Saiss potentially travelling to the Africa Cup of Nations in January.

“I am happy but I want more,” said Lage. “That’s what I say to my players every day. Every time I push them to their limits because I don’t want anyone to be comfortable in their position, I don’t want anyone to be comfortable in the way we are. Our mentality is to do always more. The players need to have that mentality: ‘I want more from my career, I want to improve to arrive to the next level’. I am happy but every time with the pressure that I want more from them. We need to conquer a lot of points now because the winter will be very hard because as you know we have a small squad and maybe we can lose some players for CAN (Africa Cup of Nations).” (PA)

3.32pm BST 15:32

Burnley v Brentford seems like a particularly tricky match to call. Sean Dyche is celebrating nine years in charge, but his team remain one of three winless outfits in the Premier League, along with Newcastle and Norwich. Burnley badly need a win but Brentford will not be easy opponents – even if they have most recently suffered two league defeats, by Chelsea and Leicester.

3.28pm BST 15:28

“The absence of the suspended Paul Pogba might not be a bad thing,” writes Stephen Hollis in his match preview for Tottenham v Manchester United:

Updated at 3.28pm BST

3.23pm BST 15:23

In France, galactico-studded Paris Saint-Germain are in action this evening, against the current champions Lille. PSG top the table with 28 points, while the title holders are languishing in 10th place, already 13 points adrift:


PSG v Lille


Metz v Saint-Étienne

Olympique Lyonnais v Lens


Angers v Nice

Bordeaux v Reims

Montpellier v Nantes

Strasbourg v Lorient

Troyes v Rennes

Brest v Monaco

Clermont v Olympique Marseille

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