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As the football season heads towards an exciting climax, the 10 domestic fixtures you must watch

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data-js=”article-body” data-insert-mobile-adslot>3) Burnley vs Cardiff (April 13)

his game looks to be most crucial between now and the end of the season in the fight to avoid the drop. Burnley sit two points above Cardiff having lost their previous four Premier League games. They play Bournemouth and Wolves between now and this big match, while Cardiff have the daunting task of facing Chelsea and Man City. It could be the teams are still separated by two points come April 13. If that is the reality, it will be a must-win game for Neil Warnock’s side if they are to avoid the drop. It is also a hugely-important game in Burnley’s season as their final four matches are tricky: Chelsea (a), Man City (h), Everton (a), Arsenal (h). Cardiff still have to play Brighton, Fulham and Crystal Palace after this game.    

4) Liverpool vs Chelsea (April 14)

This is the final of the top-six fixtures Liverpool have during the run-in. The history between the two sides is rich: Jose Mourinho’s Chelsea went to Anfield in April 2014 and won 2-0 to ultimately destabilise Liverpool’s title bid. At least this time Liverpool know it’s unlikely Maurizio Sarri will go there and play 10 men behind the ball as Mourinho did five years ago. Indeed, Sarri’s Chelsea may well play into Jurgen Klopp’s hands. Liverpool will be confident they can beat Chelsea on their own patch but if the league is in their hands once this game comes around then Anfield is sure to be full of nervous excitement.

5) Walsall vs Southend (April 19)

hris Powell was sacked by Southend after 11 games without a win, a run stretching back to January 19. At that point, Southend were 10th and just nine points from a play-off place. Sinn Newcastle United.The 27-year-old forward was linked to a move to Tyneside following the Magpies’ promotion to the Premier League under Rafa Benitez in 2017.Jose told Marca: “For me the best team is Real Madrid and then Barcelona. I could be in the ce then though they have fallen like a stone and are now down in 20th with only goal difference keeping them out of the relegation places. The side below Southend are Walsall, who have only won two from 11 games themselves. Both sides aeat to Liverpool.Cherries are now on their worst losing run since promotion to the top flight, with losses against Newcastle, Wolves, Tottenham and Crystal Palace, as well as the setback against the Reds. Howe said: “I don’t want to make the excusere level on points as things stand so this game on April 19th could well decide which turns their season around to stay in League One. Harry Bunn scored twice as Southend comfortably beat Walsall 3-0 at Roots Hall in October. But Walsall will be fighting for survival and it promises to be a hotly-contested affair just three games from the end of the season.

6) Man City vs Tottenham (April 20)

Spurs’ record at the Etihad Stadium over the last decade has not been too strong. They have won just once there since that famous Peter Crouch goal which gave them Champions League football back in 2010. In the eight times since then, they have conceded 23 goals. The intriguing part about this fixture is it comes off the back of a two-legged Champions League tie between the sides, something which could have a huge psychological impact. It also comes in the middle of a pivotal week for City as they host Spurs twice and then travel to Old Trafford. So can one of the teams claim three victories? If Tottenham are taken apart in the Champions League, they may be on the end of a similar City performance to the one that put six past Chelsea in February.

7) Leyton Orient vs Solihull Moors (April 22nd)

The biggest game outside of the English Football League by a mile. The penultimate day of the season in the National League sees current table toppers Leyton Orient take on the team currently level on points and in second place on goal difference, Solihull Moors. Orient are bidding to get back into League Two at the second time of asking while Solihull have yet to reach England’s fourth tier since they were founded 11 years ago. With three teams going up, both sides are in line for automatic promotion but Wrexham and Salford City are both within earshot of top spot. There are many permutations that could be in play when April 22nd rolls around, but it’s likely both teams will be in the mix.

8) Manchester United vs Man City (24th April)

This is likely to be one of the games that decides the title. City will come into the Manchester derby having played six games in 17 days including an FA Cup semi-final and a two-legged Champions League quarter-final against Spurs. They can take solace in the fact that United will also have played five games in three weeks, though Solskjaer’s side are growing into a season after some incredibly sluggish displays under Mourinho pre-Christmas. But City have only lost once at Old Trafford in the league since 2011 and beat their fierce rivals convincingly 3-1 at the Etihad back in November. Meanwhile, United should still be in top four contention and would love to beat City on the way to achieving that, even if it did mean handing Liverpool the title.

9) Championship Play-Off Final (27th April)

t is estimated that Fulham’s Championship Play-Off Final win last season made them £160m in revenue and the number only increases every season. But it isn’t just the money. If you look at the teams in the play-off positions at present – Leeds, West Brom, Middlesbrough, Aston Villa – all of those sis down to draw with Tottenham Hotspur on Sunday.Christian Eriksen, who wants to leave the club before Monday’s European transfer deadline, finished from close range to open the scoring after 10 minutes.Granit Xhaka’s rash challenge on Heung-min Son ides have tasted Premier League football in the past and their fans will be hungrier than anyone to get back there. It is often more of a tense, emotional affair than a platform for exciting football – only six goals have been scored in the last six Championship Play-Off finals – but it is one that is captivating in its own way. In an era where Premier League football is everything, the Championship Play-Off final showcases just what it means to both players and fans. Despite most people’s belief that finishing third is a curse, it is actually the position that produces the most winners – 11 out of 30 Championship play-offs have been won by the side which finished third in the table.

10) FA Cup Final (18th May)

Perhaps the FA Cup Final is no longer the biggest game of the domestic season given the importance and money that is now behind the Premier League. But this year’s FA Cup semi-finals involve three teams which have not won the competition since 1960, and another other side who are going for an unprecedented quadruple, of which this could be the completion of the domestic treble (which has also never been done before in England). If Brighton beat City then the final will be an exhilarating atmosphere between two unlikely trophy contenders. If City do get there, it will be David vs Goliath and that in itself provides a captivating spectacle. Whatever the make-up of the final, for most it will always be one of the biggest games of the season and a perfect curtain-closer to what has been a tremendously compelling campaign.

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Glenn Murray says Brighton’s win at Crystal Palace is perfect preparation for Millwall FA Cup tie

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lthough Chris Hughton, Brighton’s manager, maintains Premier League survival remains the priority, dressing-room attention is fixed firmly on FA Cup progress.

“That’s our focus now. We can do special things. We can get to Wembley for the semi-finals and you never know what might happen,” said Lewis Dunk, the stand-in captain who showed true leadership qualities in Brighton’s backline on Saturday.

Dunk played a full part in Brighton’s wild celebrations at the final whistle on Saturday. While a clearly emotego Maradona was superior to Barcelona star Lionel Messi.Comparisons are being drawn between the Argentine pair with Napoli to host Barca tonight in their Champions League first-leg round 16 clash.Alemao won the Scudetto with Maradona and told Radio ional Knockaert  removed his shirt to display tattoos of both his father and son, the Brighton-born Dunk also made the most of the moment.

Dunk said: “It’s giving something back to the fans. I’m a local boy, they are the rival club so I’m always going to get it. It’s just nice to celebrate in their ground at the end.”

He also hailed Knockaert’s stunning winner, saying “It was a special finish and you could see what it meant to us at the end. We need people to stand up like that and he did. He couldn’t have placed it any better.”

Dunk epitomised Brighton’s determination and resilience, and is being backed by his manager for a call-up to the England set-up when Gareth Southgate names his squad for the two forthcoming Euro qualifiers on Wednesday.

Hughton said: “He’s at that level. What got him the cap in the first place is what he has now. There would not be any player in the England manager’s thinking that is not going to be up and down. I don’t think he’s changed. He is still the same level of player as he ever was.”

alace also have an interest in the FA Cup but the mood around Selhurst Park was in stark contrast to that of their fierce rivals.

Roy Hodgson’s side face a similarly awkward quarter-final on Saturday when they travel to Watford.

Palace, however, can draw hope from the fact their away form is significantly better than that they produce in front of their home supporters, where they have now won just one of their last seven league matches.

Milivojevic summed up south London frustrations after they emerged with nothing to show from a game in which they enjoyed 60 per cent of the possession.

The Palace captain said: “For 90 minutes we controlled the game and in the end they hey’re confident signing Liverpool winger Ryan Kent.McAllister believes Rangers will be “first in line” to loan Ryan Kent this summer – should Liverpool decide against selling the winger in the transfer window. “It is ongoing, but the decisions at Lad two shots and scored two goals. Brighton defended very well. We are very disappointed. What can we do? That’s football.”

Palace, like Brighton, are on the fringes of the relegation battle but can lend their season a whole new dimension with FA Cup success.

Milco Madrid attacker Antoine Griezmann.The Mirror says with his proposed move to Barcelona suddenly in jeopardy, Griezmann could yet find himself at Old Trafford.The 28-year-old has already confirmed he will move on from Atletico, and it looked almost ivojevic said: “We’re going to try to reach the semi-final to bring our fans to Wembley. We’re going to have a whole week to prepare for that game and from Monday we are turning our attention to that one."

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Bills Today: Buffalo's newest safety eager to play with Hyde and Poyer

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The Bills wasted no time adding depth at the safety position, as they signed Rafael Bush on the first day of the 2018 free agency period. He joins one of the best safe Vardy.Vardy appeared to collect a hamstring injury during their 4-1 rout of West Ham.But Rodgers said, “It is not his hamstring which is good. Hopefully over the next couple of days it will ease off and he will be fit.”Jamie is a real talisman for tty duos in the NFL from a season ago.

Bush mentioned that he’s antsy to play with Micah Hyde and Jordan Poyer. In 2017, that tandem combined for 10 interceptions, more than any pair of safeties in the league.

“Well, I’m just looking forward to working with those two guys. As a tandem last year, I think they had maybe, what, 10 interceptions?” said Bush. “As a unit last year, the secondary was pretty good. I’m just here to kind of just bring my skill set to the team and help in whatever way I can.”

Bush has made plays in a variety of ways at safety throughout his seven-year career. In 76 career games (18 starts), he’s tallied 190 tackles, 13 passes defended, three interceptions, three fumble recoveries, two sacks, one forced fumble, and one defensive touchdown.

As a fellow safety, it’s come natural for Bush tracking the success of Hyde and Poyer.

“I think just being a safety, you look at other safeties around the league, so that’s kind of natural for guys, myself included,” he said. “Watching those guys play together, I’ve been watching Micah Hyde in Green Bay for some years, and I always thought he was a great player.

“Poyer was one of those guys that was a special teams player at first. I kind of can relate to that, being that myself, and then kind of getting the opportunity to play and making the most of his opportunities. I respect that, so like I said, I’m excited to work with those guys and can’t wait to get to work.”

The Bills undoubtedly inherited a winner with their latest quarterback signing. Former Alabama Crimson Tide signal-caller, AJ McCarron, has three BCS National Championship rings to his name.

So, what does the newest Bills QB do with those championship rings?

“Mine, I give them to my family. My uncle has one, my dad has one and my grandpa has one,” said McCarron. “I don’t ever wear one. I play just because I love playing the game. I let them enjoy all that.”

In McCarron’s four seasons at Alabama, he posted some absurd numbers. In 53 games, he threw for 9,019 yards, 77 touchdowns, and only 15 interceptions.

McCarron got his first national championship ring in 2009 when he was redshirting as a true freshman and the Crimson Tide went 14-0. The quarterback had a much more significant role in earning his last two championship rings. He was named the Offensive Player of the Game in ‘Bama’s 2011 national title-winning performance in a 21-0 win over LSU.

He then followed that up with another national title the following season as Alabama routed Notre Dame 42-14 for the 2012 national championship.

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Tate joined on Thursday to discuss his free agency process.

“I’m in Cincinnati right now,” he said. “Right now, I’m working out and I’ve got a couple of teams interested, but nothing is official yet. I’m just working out and hanging with my wife and my kids.”

Tate, a nine-year veteran in the NFL, has played with three different teams in his career. His first two years (2009-2010) were with the New England Patriots. After his time with the Pats, he went on to play five seasons (2011-2015) for the Cincinnati Bengals. After his five-year stint in Cincy, Tate came to Buffalo where he’s spent the past two seasons (2016-2017).

With free agency a few days old, Tate was asked if he’s heard from the Bills.

“No, I haven’t heard from the Bills yet, but it’s still early,” he said. “Anything can change from hour to hour so I’m patiently waiting.”

In his two seasons with the Bills, Tate mainly served as a return man. He returned 46 punts in Buffalo, averaging 10.7 yards per return. As a kick returner, he took back 57 kicks and averaged 21.2 yards per return.

It’s uncertain whd he misses Cristiano Ronaldo.Ronaldo left Real Madrid 18 months ago for Juventus and Messi has admitted in the past he appreciated the presence of the Portuguese in the LaLiga. Messi felt Ronaldo forced him to continually improve as a player.And yesether Tate will return to Buffalo or not. One thing’s for certain, he enjoyed the past two years here.

“I felt like it went pretty good. We went to the playoffs, which was good for the organization,” he said. “I have no complaints about Buffalo. I love it up there.”

ed the performance of Ethan Ampadu after victory over Azerbaijan.Chelsea boss Frank Lampard opted to allow Ampadu to join German challengers RB Leipzig on loan for his first season as Blues boss despite their ongoing transfer ban.Giggs said: “He’s ha

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Manchester City put Fulham to the sword with straightforward win

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Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed al-Nahyan addressed Manchester City supporters for only the second time since he bought the club 10 years ago this month. “It feels that we are only halfway up our Everest,” the billionaire said as he reflected on the past decade and, spelling out his vision for the future, declared that there was “much more to win”.

For opponents, coming to the Etihad must invariably feel like trying to scale a treacherous mountain in relentlessly suffocating conditions. Fulham became the latest to more or less accept defeat at base camp. Pep Guardiola had said his team would get fully up to speed after the international break and so they are.

Bernardo Silva was the pick of a brilliant bunch, David Silva marked his 350th game for City with his 50th goal in the Premier League and rumours of Leroy Sane’s demise have, evidently, been greatly exaggerated. Restored to the team after recent criticism, the Germany winger capped a memorable week after becoming a father to a baby girl with a goal.

The only slight disappointment for Guardiola was that his side squandered so many chances and Sergio Aguero will require assessment before Wednesday’s Champions League tie against Lyon about being substituted early in the second half with a sore ankle.

“Three-nil is a good result but we created a lot of chances to score five, six, seven goals and we have to be more clinical because the contenders are so tough and the goal difference is important,” the City manager said.

A word or two on the man-on-the-match, Bernardo, first. His touch and quality has never been in doubt but he has now adjusted to the physicality of the Premier League. City’s second goal was a clear case in point.

This time last year, the Portugal playmaker would probably have been knocked over when Stefan Johansen tried to barge him out of the way as they challenged for the ball near the right byeline. But it was Bernardo who won this duel, outmuscling the Fulham midfielder, and then showing awareness to turn and feed Aguero.

The Argentine’s shot was deflected into the path of Silva, who controlled on his chest before rifling home off the bar.

“It is almost impossible to be more pleased as a manager with him,” Guardiola said of Bernardo. “I don’t forget the behaviour he had last season when he didn’t always play. He is a good example to all the others.”

City’s second goal was scored after 22 minutes and already by then there was no way back for Fulham. If you come here you have to at least make yourself competitive. That does not involve playing careless passes deep in your own half less than two minutes in that are just asking to be punished. But that is what Jean Michael Seri did, turning over the ball with a feeble pass intended for Odoi that Fernandinho intercepted. The Brazilian surged forward and squared for Sane – with a clear point to prove after his omission against Newcastle – to tap home.

“Even when he didn’t play we never doubted Leroy’s quality,” Guardiola said. “At his age, sometimes these things happen – a little bit up and down but I’m delighted for his performance.”

Fulham paid the price for backing off and giving fast, skilful players too much time and space. Ryan Sessegnon’s insistence on standing off Raheem Sterling was baffling while his positioning was suspect throughout. Had Sterling not been so wasteful in front of goal, the damage could have been more severe. “This will be a huge learning experience [for Ryan]”, said Fulham manager Slavisa Jokanovic.

Twice Fulham were indebted to keeper Marcus Bettinelli for shutting out Sterling. The first was a particularly disappointing miss. Bernardo showed outrageous skill to spin away from Seri and Kevin McDonald before releasing Sterling, whose shot was knocked on to the crossbar by the visitors’ No 1.

Ederson, the City goalkeeper, twice denied Andre Schurrle but Fulham were very vulnerable defensively. The second half was only two minutes old when Aguero powered down City’s right, with Sessegnon in no-man’s-land, past Alfie Mawson and squared for Sterling to score from a yard out. This time the England forward could not miss. City oozed control and the only blemish for Bernardo came late on when he blazed over fros Chelsea mustn’t give up hope of upsetting Bayern Munich in the second leg of their Champions League last-16 tie.The Blues have a mountain to ce time under former manager Unai Emery, and looked certain to leave the Emirates in the January transfer window.But Arteta made it clear he considered Ozil to be an important player for Arsenal in his fist press conference as boss, and already appearlimb after being beaten 3-0 by Bayern at Stamford Bridgelon D’Or.The Dutchman was integral to Liverpool’s Champions League final triumph, which included beating Lionel Messi’s Barcelona in the semi-finals. And Barnes thinks van Dijk has done enough this season to be crowned as the world’s best player.Aske on Tuesday.”We have to go to Munich and play withm 10 yards.

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Cardiff goalkeeper Neil Etheridge saves Kenedy penalty to deny 10-man Newcastle victory at the death

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eadline-day signings Victor Camarasa and Harry Arter were included to inject a much-needed boost into the midfield ranks after Cardiff failed to register a shot on goal in their opening defeat to Bournemouth.

There was to be no reunion for twins Josh and Jacob Murphy after Benitez chose to only swap Javier Manquillo for DeAndre Yedlin in the backline.

Kenedy unleashed the first shot on target of the game when he shimmied past Sean Morrison to test Neil Etheridge in the Cardiff goal, before the hosts went close to taking the lead.

Sol Bamba was left unmarked to head Joe Ralls’s corner towards goal, but Ayoze Perez was there to block it short of the line.

Kenedy, who became the first player for eight years not to complete a pass in the opening 45 minutes, was lucky not to see red when his kick-out at Camarasa was not spotted by Craig Pawson.

erez had another chance to break the deadlock before half-time after latching onto Jonjo Shelvey’s sweeping ball, but the Cardiff stopper closed down the space to keep it level.

Vincent Tan was almost sent jumping out of his seat after the restart when Zohore crossed for Camarasa, but Shelvey nipped in to send it behind.

Newcastle were left scrapping for a point when Hayden, who had come on as a stand-in right back for Javier Manquillo, went flying into the back of Murphy after 66 minutes. He was shown a straight red card to leave Newcastle with 10 men for the remainder of the match.

But they should have stolen it after Morrison raised his arm to block Yoshinori Muto’s cross and concede a penalty deep into stoppage time.

ut Kenedy’s nightmare afternoon ended with a twist of justice as he saw his weak penalty comfortably saved by Cardiff hero Etheridge. The search for Cardiff and Newcastle thinks Arsenal have a good player in Pablo Mari.The Spaniard, on loan from Flamengo, made his debut for the Gunners in Monday’s FA Cup fifth-round win over Portsmouth.And Arteta was impressed with his performance when speaking after the game.”I thin’s first victories of the season continues, but both sides now have a foundation to build their Premier League campaigns.

“We knew it would be difficult,” said Newcastle manager Benitez. “We had some problems in the right full-back position and we had to move players around when Hayden was sent off so too many things were against us and in the end the penalty we missed to get the three points.

“We had some problems in the beginning but still we had two clear chances and we have to defend well and take chances but we didn’t do it.”

Etheridge 9; BennFormer Barcelona captain Andres Iniesta expects Ivan Rakitic to stay.The midfielder has opened the door to leaving.But Vissel Kobe star Iniesta told GOL: “I don’t know if he’s non-transferrable.”But I know he’s happy and wants to stay at Barcelona.”I hope that he can keep performing like before. I’d be happy for him.”ett 7, Morrison 6, Bamba 7, Manga 6; Camarasa 7 (Reid 76), Ralls 6, Arter 8; Josh Murphy 7 (Mendez-Laing 78), Hoilett 6 (Paterson 83), Zohore 6. Richards, Sme title race is over.Liverpool have won their last 14 matches leading to Pep Guardiola to jokingly congratulate them as “champions” after Manchester City’s shock defeat at Norwich.Klopp said: “Nothing is won already. We have seen teams make big stepsithies, Cunningham, Madine. Camarasa, Arter, Morrison.

Dubravka 6; Dummett 6, Clark 6, Lascelles 7, Manquillo 5 (Hayden 46); Ritchie 6 (Jacob Murphy 70), Diame 7, Shelvey 7, Kenedy 4; Perez 6 (Muto 65); Joselu 5. Ki, Rondon, Fernandez, Darlow. Ritchie, Manquillo. Hayden.

Craig Pawson (South Yorkshire).

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Important Dates in Bills History: Jan. 23, 1994. Bills win fourth consecutive AFC Championship

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Important Dates in Bills history presented by M&T Bank helps fans recognize what’s important. In the NFL, titles are important, and on Jan. 23, 1994 the Buffalo Bills solidified their fourth consecutive AFC Championship.

Thomas, the iconic ball carrier, led the offense with 33 carries for 186 yards rushing and three touchdowns. Averaging 5.6 yards per carry, Thomas ran through Kansas City’s defensive unit. Buffalo’s defensive game leaders include, safety Henry Jones and defensive back James Williams. Both Jones and Williams were credited with an interception. Other key contributors were defensive end Bruce Smith, defensive end Phil Hansen, linebacker Darryl Talley and nose tackle Jeff Wright, who each accumulated a sack.

Despite Kansas City’s efforts, the Bills managed to secure the conference title while playing aughas gone AWOL amid interest from Sheffield United.Verrips, reports HLN, has gone missing from training as the Blades move for the shot-stopper.An approach to KVM is yet to be made, though it’s claimed contact is ongoing with the player’s camp.KVM coact the eye of Arsenal scouts.Arsenal spotted Lochereau while he was playing in a junior tournament in France recently.Little is known about the playenard Mensah has been cut loose by Atletico Madrid.Kayserispor have signed Mensah on a permanent transfer from Atletico Madrid.The player from Ghana joined the Spanish side in 2015 from VitoriaGuimaraes, but was loaned back out to the Portuguese team r other than that he was turning out in the competition while on a trial period with Nice.Lochereain front of a sold out crowd. Advancing to the Super Bowl for the fourth time in franchise history, the Bills prepared to take on the Dallas Cowboys. The feat also marked the first time since the Super Bowl’s 1967 inception, that a team would reach the championship four seasons in a row.

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Rafa Benitez dismisses criticism of Newcastle tactics – ‘I will not waste time on that’

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“The difference with the other leagues, you go to Germany or Spain, is that here you have five or six teams that can compete financially. They have the resources to compete. This is totllian has rejected Chelsea’s new attempt to secure him to a fresh terms.UOL says Willian, 31, has been offered a two-year deal by Frank Lampard after taking over from Eden Hazard as Chelsea’s main playmaker.But it’s reckoned Willian wants a three-yeaally different to other leagues.

"Leicester won the league, and nobody was expeJurgen Klopp has declared Divock Origi as a “Liverpool legend” ahead of their clash with his former club Genk on Tuesday.The Belgian scored the decisive goal in last season’s Champions League epic semi-final win over Barcelona, following it up with acting in 100 years that that could happen. Why? Because the other teams were in transition and made some mistakes.

"At this moment, it’s very difficult for them [City] to lose the title. In the future? You never know. With the money that everyone can spend, anything can happen. The teams with the most money win the league.”

Asked about Neville’s own managerial career – he lasted just four months at Valencia before he was s7 shots on goal in the first half without a goal in Saturday’s 2-0 win over Brighton.”We needed it,” the Brazilian told the club’s website. “We have been working hard every day, every game and this time we finally got the result, got the three pointsacked – Benitez’s response can best be described as barbed diplomacy.

“I don’t want to go down this route,” he said. “Valencia is Valencia. I won two titles with Valencia and the Uefa Cup. They are [sic] at the top of the table. Why? Because Valencia is a massive club and a massive city, but I don’t want to go this way…

“I will not waste too much time on that [criticism from pundits]. I had the same in Spain and Italy. They have to say something because they need the audience, and then you have to understand they are doing a job that is totally different. They don’t take any responsibility and they can make mistakes and the day after, it doesn’t matter.

“You are a manager, you have a group of players, you have fans, the city, responsibility and then you make the decisions you have to make to win games and that’s it.”

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Monday Morning Football: A definitive analysis of the Premier League weekend

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So credit where credit is due for his terrific performance against Crystal Palace. The nature of their draw, with a late equaliser conceded deep in stoppage time, will mean it feels like two points dropped rather than one point earned for West Ham, but without Hart on top form they could easily have left Selhurst Park with nothing at all.

His finest moment was a diving save from a terrific Yohan Cabaye free-kick, from which the Frenchman was already wheeling away in celebration.

Hart’s performance was summarised most accurately by Palace winger Wilfried Zaha. “He was literally saving everything."

Liverpool’s defenders

For all their shambolic defending on the road this season, it is worth mentioning that Liverpool have let in just one goal at Anfield all season. Only Manchester United have conceded fewer at home.

Admittedly, David Wagner’s Huddersfield were unlikely to pose the biggest attacking this weekend. But considering just how haphazard Jurgen Klopp’s side were against Tottenham Hotspur last Sunday, this was a welcome return to defensive stability.

That it came without Dejan Lovren, injured in the warm-up, is perhaps no coincidence, although other members of that defence have been equally culpable at times this season.

More encouraging for Klopp will be the ongoing consistency of left-back Alberto Moreno, seemingly inspired by the arrival of Andy Robertson as competition, and the ever-growing excellence of young Joe Gomez at right back.

Antonio Rudiger

Many Chelsea fans have been calling for Rudiger to be given a regular starting place after the side’s somewhat turbulent to the season, and Antonio Conte has duly obliged for two Premier League matches in a row.

That has led to back-to-back victories for the champions, over Watford and Bournemouth. The fall guy has been Gary Cahill, who now has a genuine fight on his hands if he wants to wrestle back a starting berth from a Germany international who appears to be growing in stature with each game.

Rudiger was terrific against Bournemouth in a match that Chelsea utterlyal legend Emmanuel Petit says Unai Emery should be sacked.The Gunners are sixth with just four wins in 12 Premier League games.He told PaddyPower: “I believe it’s time for Unai Emery to leave Arsenal. The results are not good at all. I don’t recognis dominated, despite the narrow 1-0 scoreline. He was quick across the ground, strong in the air and more accomplished with his passing than many would have been expecting upon his arrival from Roma for £29m.

At just 24, . Under a manager as obsessed with detail as Conte, it is surely onwards and upwards from here.

Kyle Walker

The game’s gone! Football has lost its head! It’s only Kyle Walker! Such were the reactions to Walker’s £50m transfer fee this summer, and understandably so. This was unprecedented territory for a right-back, and it was hard to justify.

Such sums are, of course, still hard to justify. But at least Walker is doing his bit. In fact, he’s doing more than that. Walker has been consistently excellent this season, playing in a far more tactically and individually complex role under Guardiola than he has ever been tasked with before.

Admittedly, it’s easy to look good when City are battering teams into submission as they have been for much of this campaign. Yet Walker has been a major part of that, providing pace from deep and the constant width that allows City’s creative players to strut their stuff infield.

Walker’s presence has certainly been good for Raheem Sterling, which can only be good for England’s World Cup ambitions. Fittingly, it was Walker who whipped in a perfect cross for Sterling’s goal in the 3-2 victory over West Brom.

Murray, now 34, could have been forgiven for thinking his Premier League days were over when he was loaned out to Brighton last season. He would not have been alone.

And yet here he is, back in the top flight and back in the goals. In the absence of Tomer Hemed, Murray has stepped up when his side have needed some firepower.

Two goals against West Ham last week fired Chris Hughton’s side to a valuable three points, while his powerful back-post header secured another point at home to Southampton this weekend. He may not be the most mobile, but here is a man who will forever know the way to goal, and that is precisely what Brighton will need if they want to stay afloat this season.

Whose stock is falling?

Jordan Ayew

It is hard to pinpoint exactly what Ayew’s strengths are. He seems quite quick, but he’s certainly not fast enough to frighten Premier League defences. He seems to dribble a lot, but he rarely weaves through challenges. He seems to find himself in decent positions, but he hardly ever makes the right decision.

Swansea manager Paul Clement has already said this season that he wants to see more from Tammy Abraham and Wilfried Bony, but the same can be said for Ayew. Abraham, at least, is chipping in with some goals.

Ayew has one in the league this season. Last year, in 42 appearances across all competitions, he scored only five (as an aside, he got seven yellow cards). Frankly, Swansea need attacking players like Ayew to deliver the goods, particularly now Gylfi Sigurdsson has left for Everton.

The struggling Renato Sanches has received most of the spotlight this season, but the glare should also be directed at Ayew. He could have given Swansea a crucial 2-0 lead over Arsenal on Saturday, but tried to dink Petr Cech rather than providing Abraham with a tap-in. Such errors are punished against teams like Arsenal. Such errors cost teams their place in the Premier League.

Grown men

There were laughable scenes at Vicarage Road on Saturday, and not just because Darren Fletcher scored an actual goal. Stoke and Watford demeaned themselves and delighted spectators with two embarrassing cases of handbags-at-dawn in the final minutes of .

Highlights include:

Troy Deeney’s manic grin as he grabbed a chunk of Joe Allen’s throat

Supposed hard man Ryan Shawcross flying across the turf after a Deeney shove

Long-haired Watford coaching staff leaping into the melee with locks swirling in the wind

The brief and completely half-hearted attempt of the well-mannered Will Hughes to get stuck in.

It was petulant, immature and unbecoming. It was also magnificent.

Asmir Begovic

Amid all the weekly controversies over team selection and refereeing decisions, the most curious decision of the weekend was made by whoever nominated Begovic as man of the match in Bournemouth’s clash with Chelsea.

Begovic was at fault for , letting the low shot past him far too easily at the near post, and could easily have thrown away another goal when he gifted the ball to Hazard in the first half. Only Alvaro Morata’s profligacy saved him.

There was, in fairness, one terrific stop from Morata. But this was not an evening to remember for Begovic against his former club, on his 200th Premier League appearance.

He has been otherwise solid in a tricky start to the season for Eddie Howe’s side, and he was not helped by his defence on this occasion, but top-flight goalkeepers simply cannot afford to make one major error against teams like Chelsea, let alone two.

Phil Jagielka, Ashley Williams, Leighton Baines. All in their 30s, and all hardly blessed with speed at their youthful peaks.

Riyad Mahrez, Jamie Vardy, Demarai Gray. A trio bristling with speed and a canny ability to exploit open spaces.

It is any surprise, then, that Everton were so ruthlessly ripped apart by Leicester’s front three in the first half at the King Power Stadium? 

Gray, in particular, was having a lovely time. It was a total mismatch, and it shone a light on one of Everton’s most pressing problems: refreshing that back-line. Too often they have been criticised for falling deep in games, but here was a prime example of why they really cannot push higher up the pitch.

As a rule, Monday Morning Football is never fond of having a pop at referees. What’s the point, when there are far more interesting things to discuss that are more complex than simple human error?

But then along comes a decision like Kevin Friend’s call to give Liverpool a penalty for the most innocuous shirt-pull in the Huddersfield box.

“I have no idea why he whistled,” said Huddersfield manager David Wagner. “If it was for holding then we have to have five or six penalties in every game.”

Precisely. Either make it a hard-and-fast rule and punish everyone for doing it, or apply some common sense. You can’t pick and choose, or we will never know where we stand. Friend’s only saving grace was that Mohamed Salah could not score from the spot.

Stat attack

13 – Arsenal have won their last 13 games at the Emirates in all competitions. It is their longest ever winning run there.

– Watford had 14 shots against Stoke City, but not one of them hit the target.

18 – All 18 of Georginio Wijnaldum’s Premier League goals (for Newcastle United and Liverpool) have been scored at home.

41 – All 41 of Javier Hernandez’s Premier League goals have been scored from inside the penalty box.

100 – Daniel Sturridge’s strike against Huddersfield Town was the 100th club goal of his career.

Goal of the weekend

Out of principle, Monday Morning Football is unable to award the title to Darren Fletcher. On paper, his goal sounded wonderful. A volley on the edge of the box, straight from a corner. It reads like a Paul Scholes classic. But no. Fletcher committed a crime against football aesthetics by side-footing the shot, rather than blasting it with his laces. Unacceptable.

Instead, we will award the title to Raheem Sterling, for another vintage Guardiola goal. One-twos in the build-up, then it’s worked out to Walker, who finds Sterling for the tap-in. A glorious team effort.

Jason Burt’s team of the weekendTactics corner, with JJ Bull

Before kick-off, David Unsworth spoke of the importance of giving Everton fans the kind of football they wanted, playing on the front foot and creating width for strikers. By the end of this one he must have wished they didn’t want quite so much.

, happy to absorb tame, uninspired build-up and strike quickly with pace and power. Claude Puel played to Leicester’s strengths, Unsworth played into Leicester’s hands.

From kick-off the standard was set, as Phil Jagielka humped a long ball out to the left wing, giving Leicester possession from a throw-in immediately. It’s supposed to be difficult to win the ball back in the Premier League, and while Leicester worked hard off the ball throughout, they didn’t have to try that hard… especially after a simple opening period to the game rewarded them with two goals.

Everton’s plan seemed to be to send high balls into the box for Calvert-Llewin, a nimble, quick striker best at playing on the shoulder, against a central defensive pairing of Harry Maguire and Wes Morgan, who towered over him like a cartoon wrestling tag-team. It didn’t look like working even once.

Things changed after half time as Unsworth switched to a 4-4-2 diamond but Ronald Koeman has struggled all season to make this group of players look good – nothing seems to work.

Leicester, obviously, were always going to play on the counter attack – it’s what they do – and the decision to attack with a high defensive line was curious. And with Jagielka, who makes a post office queue look quick, next to a seriously out-of-form Ashley Williams at centre-back, providing some defensive cover might have made sense.

Higher up the pitch, nothing worked. Mirallas kept wandering inside and disrupting the shape, Rooney cut a frustrated figure throughout, a big gap was left between midfield and defence. Playing two wingers and two strikers away from home in the Premier League was… not ambitious… but certainly ill-advised.

“The second half was much better,” said Unsworth after the game. “We gave them a two goal start and didn’t perform. Formations and tactics go out the window if you don’t play on the front foot and for some reason we didn’t.

“(At half time) I wanted an extra man in midfield and an extra striker and we felt the best way was to do it with a diamond. For whatever reason, first half it didn’t work. You’ve got to be reactive and show the players that you’re on the front foot as well.”

The positive for Unsworth is that he realised his team was in trouble and made changes early on. He knows it didn’t work, realises this is not an easy fix. The negative though is the lack of clear, clever strategy, players in straight lines, passes being sent over the top of the midfield. If you want to ping it into channels you sit deep, like Leicester. If you want to pass-and-move you need to put players into space to receive the ball – this was a mish mash of both and none.

“Whoever gets the honour of being Everton manager, including myself, needs time with this set of players. You need time and time on the training ground to implement those ideas.”

Unsworth won the Under-23 league last season and must know what he’s doing. On this evidence though, his ideas include playing a suicidal high line against Leicester, playing a left-footed inside forward on the left wing and fielding a fairly standard 4-2-3-1 wioach Ryan Giggs won’t hear criticism of Real Madrid star Gareth Bale.Bale’s commitment and professionalism has been questioned in Spain.But Giggs says: “We played a game [on Tuesday] and he looked really good, sharp and really fresh, I’m excited to sth instructions to, effectively, get stuck in, get on the front foot, show some desire etc.

With a different group of players, perhaps he’d be able to turn Everton’s season around. Maybe he’s the next Sir Alex Ferguson. Perhaps we’ll get the chance to find out. Everton can’t afford to get are threatening to pull out of talks with Manchester United for Paul Pogba.Fed-up with United’s stubbornness in negotiations, Real are prepared to turn elsewhere to boost coach Zinedine Zidane’s midfield options.And while he views Pogba as a summer it wrong.

Key question of the week

Are Bournemouth losing their identity?

When promoted teams find success in the Premier League, it tends to be for one of two reasons. They are either well organised, defensively solid units who are hard to beat (eg Burnley), or they are committed to a certain style of play that makes them a unique proposition (eg Swansea under Brendan Rodgers).

For two seasons under Eddie Howe, Bournemouth fell into the latter category. With their passing football, high-energy pressing and array of midfield schemers, Bournemouth have been relentlessly impressive in the top flight, other than a mid-season blip last year (they still finished ninth).

So it is was endlessly frustrating to see Howe line his players up so defensively against Chelsea in their 1-0 defeat on Saturday. There were none of the passing triangles we have come to expect from this side, none of the energy without the ball. Instead they sat deep and tried to hit the champions on the break.

It was not what Bournemouth do best. And it’s not as if Chelsea were even strolling into this match on a particularly formidable run of form, either.

Bournemouth have been so enjoyable because they have not been afraid to have a go at teams and play their own way, irrespective of the opposition. It would be a shame if they were to lose that.

Who’s showing the most cards?How is the table looking?Off the Ball, by Alistair Tweedale

54% – Everton just as hopeless before

18% – Blankly staring into the distance

13% – Hoping Wayne Rooney might still be good

10% – 4-4-2

5% – Spirited late push that he can cling onto

0 – Christmas cards Michail Antonio should expect from Slaven Bilic after his mistake led to Wilfried Zaha’s late equaliser

“Listen, unless somebody decides otherwise, you’ve got me, boring old big nose f***ing fart with s***e football until May. Unless somebody decides different.”

Mick McCarthy to the disgruntled Ipswich fans following his side’s late 2-1 win at Burton. 

Race for the Golden Boot What’s coming up next?What’s on TV this week?

  Burnley v Newcastle United, Premier League, 8pm on Sky Sports

Manchester United v Benfica; Roma v Chelsea, both 7.45pm on BT Sport

Wednesday:  Liverpool v Maribor; Napoli v Manchester City; Tottenham Hotspur v Real Madrid, all 7.45pm on BT Sport

Thursday: Arsenal v Red Star Belgrade, Europa League, 8.05pm on BT Sport

Stoke City v Leicester City, Premier League 12.30pm on Sky Sports; West Ham United v Liverpool, Premier League, 5.30pm on BT Sport

Tottenham Hotspur v Crystal Palace, Premier League, 12pm on BT Sport; Manchester City v Arsenal, Premier League, 2.15pm on Sky Sports; Chelsea v Manchester United, Premier League, 4.30pm on Sky Sports

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Rafa Benitez remains untouchable at Newcastle as he insists ‘2nd place would be fine with me’

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However, there is also no disguising the fact, Benitez has a squad that is the envy of the division, with the highest wage bill seen outside the top flight. A failure to go up as champions will be just that, regardless of the relief that will pour out of St James’ Park as soon as promotion is assured.

“Second place would be fine with me,” said Benitez, when asked if the title was Brighton’s to lose, although midfielder Isaac Hayden perhaps gave a more honest appraisal of the situation.

“It always matters if you finish first or second doesn’t made eight Premier League appearances and played a crucial role out a January loan move for Vinicius Junior.Looking ahead to Los Blancos’ clash with Alaves at the Estadio de Mendizorrotza on Saturday, Zidane hinted that Vinicius may get his chance to play in the coming weeks.”Vinicius is not going to leave,” Zid in Liverpool’s victory over Chelsea in the UEFA Super Cup but he is now being considered by LaLiga club Real Betis, according to Estadio Deportivo. Adrian is being considered as a signiit?” said the former Arsenal and Hull City player. “As much as you want to say it doesn’t matter or promotion is the main thing, and of course it is, everyone wants to get promoted, that’s the aim.

“But I think there will be a little bit of a sour taste if we weren’t to go on and win the title. But at the end of the day, promotion is the main objective and you don’t get promoted without winning the games.

“It doesn’t matter about Brighton or Huddersfield, as long as we perform and we get the points necessary in the last few games we are promoted anyway.”

Despite Newcastle’s slightly surprising vulnerability, particularly at home, Benitez has rarely stopped smiling since he became manager.

It is all part of the charm offensive and if it looks forced at times, there is no questioning the positive impact he has had since he arrived in March last year.

Even if they fail to return to the Premier League as champions, Benitez has healed wounds at a club that was tearing itself apart before he arrived 13 months ago. Promotion, in whatever form it is achieved, will prevent financial meltdown, as well justify his own extravagant salary and reputation.

Benitez has united Newcastle with it supporters again and has therefore been spared the sort of criticism that would have been fired at others in his position during the various setbacks this season. It is that calmness under pressure that makes him ideal and two wins and a draw from their remaining four games, will guarantee promotion, with Huddersfield eigndes.The Sun says Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola has handed United a transfer boost by cooling his interest in Portuguese goal machine Fernandes.Guardiola is making a long-term successor to Fernandinho his No1 priority in the summer window.It meaht points behind with only 15 left to play for.

“After the performance against Leeds, you say to anyone who is a Newcastle fan, that the team will do well in the next games and get the points we need, they would say yes please,” said Benitez.

“I am not pleased because we could not get the three points, but I am happy with the performance and the way the players have reacted.

“We have had a defeat [sic] and made some mistakes but we should have won easily and the performance of the team was so good that we have to be positive.”

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M&T Draft Day Challenge winners meet Manuel

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Now that Buffalo Bills new rookie quarterback EJ Manuel has settled in Buffalo, it’s time for him to meet his biggest fans.

Thursday, the winners of the 2013 M&T Bank and Buffalo Bills Draft Day Challenge met at One Bills Drive for their exclusive meet and greet with Manuel.

The five winners correctly chose Manuel as the Bills number one draft choice during the challenge, and along with the exclusive meet & greet with Manuel, won a private tour of the Bills facilities and an autographed 2013 draft helmet.

“Our partnership with the Buffalo Bills enables us to bring one-of-a-kind experiences like this to M&T Bank clp bring “joy” back to Manchester United. The Red Devils did not win a trophy last season and finished sixth in the Premier League.Asked about his ambitions were for the season, he replied: “I want to win trophies this year for United and bring the justomers, and we’re thrilled that our Draft Day Chall penned a one-year extension with Everton.The 34-year-old has been with the club since 2007. Baines said: “As you get older you realise the work you need to do to sustain the level required by the club.”And to be judged to be at that level in the latenge winners are among the first to welcome number-one pick E.J. Manuel to Buffalo,” said Michael Zabel, group vice president for corporate communications at M&T Bank.

“This was an absolutely awesome and fascinating experience,” said Bills fan Cindie Johnson. “EJ Manuel is such a nice and down to earth young man. Meeting him was really wonderful.”

Johnson said she chose EJ to be the number one Bills draft choice Manchester United have started their season.The Red Devils have gathered four points from their first two games.”I’m very happy to be here and very happy we have started the season,” Mata told ESPN.”The [summer preseason] tour [to Australia, China, because of his impressive statistics and connection with Bills Hall of Famer Bruce Smith.

Manuel enjoyed meeting the fans who chose him.

“It means a great deal to me that these fans selected me, and I’m happy I was able to come out and meet them and talk to them for a little bit,” said Manuel. “Anytime you have people supporting you, you want to show that love back to them. Bills fans really make you feel at home. We have some of the best fans-I can already tell.”

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Arsenal’s latest setback exacerbated by midfield crisis ahead of daunting trip to Chelsea

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Wenger caused further frustration after when he admitted that his players were not “mentally” up to the challenge of facing a team who have not won in the league since early December. There was an air of complacency around the Emirates.

There was an angry reaction from Petr Cech with the goalkeeper admitting that so bad wa a move to CSKA Moscow over racism fears.The Russian Premier League giants offered the Everton winger a contract worth £75,000-per-week, according to the Daily Mail.However, Bolasie rejected the deal over fears he would receive racial abuse in Russis Arsenal’s first-half performance that they deserved to lose and did not warrant any “luck” even though Lucas Pérez came close to salvaging a point, striking the crossbar.

It is not over yet, but there is an enveloping sense of familiar failings about Arsenal this season as they spurned another chance to put pressure on the leaders.

“I think we didn’t play well at all,” Cech said. “We were second best in the first half. We made so many bad passes, we lost every challenge, we were simply second best.

“I always say that at this level you cannot play 80 minutes, or 85. You have to play 90 minutes with full concentration and everybody on top of their game.

“In the second half we improved, we had a lot of chances. I thought we were brilliant second half, but obviously we only scored one goal.

“We had chances but the keeper made some very good saves, we hit the bar and we could say we were unlucky in that way. But for the first-half performance, we actually didn’t deserve a little bit of luck.”

Cech added: “This was a huge setback because this was the game we wanted to win and we wanted to put ourselves in a better position going into the weekend.”

There were questions as to why Wenger did not start with Theo Walcott, who scored a hat-trick in the FA Cup away to Southampton last Saturday, after recovering from a spell out injured, with the winger coming on as a half-time substitute. Ramsey limped off early with a damaged calf and the extent of yet another injury is still being assessed.

Wenger left Danny Welbeck, who also featured against Southampton on his return from 10 months out injured, out of his squad and justified the decision. “We still have to be cautious with him,” Wenger argued. “Physically he looks readyed the refereeing after their 2-2 draw with Burnley.The boss was unhappy with Burnley’s first, lamenting referee Lee Mason who awarded the Clarets a throw-in which lead to Jay Rodriguez’s header to make it 1-1.Smith was critical of the handling of hi to play. However we still have to manage the times we use him and the times we rest him for a while.”

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Man Utd striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic will face no action for ‘elbow’ against Crystal Palace

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But Pawson also missed ated former England manager, 72, says he feels as fit asDaniel Farke was left angry with his players after their 2-0 home defeat to Watford.Gerard Deulofeu’s goal after 76 seconds after some lax defending from Emiliano Buendia set Watford on their way and Andre Gray’s close-range flick from a Deulofeu cro ever.Hodgson said, “Time has to tell you those things, I don’t think you have to set dates. I have felt a lot older in the past than I do now. Certain jobs I have actually felt older, weariera clear handball by Palace defender Damien Delaney in the second half that should have resulted in a penalty to United and Juan Mata was incorrectly ruled offside when he turned in a header from Rojo.  

United are waiting to assess another knee injury to Eric Bailly that forced the Ivory Coast centre half’s substitution early in the second half.   

Bailly was making his first Premier League start for United for seven and a half weeks after .  

Mourinho said Bailly had injured his left knee on this occasion, ruling out the prospect of a recurrence of the same problem in his rig to Manchester United next weekend.Negotiations between the Toffees and Pereira’s current club, Shanghai SIPG, have been ongoing over the past seven days.Sky Sports says Everton want the talks to be concluded prior to Sunday’s visit to Old Trafford.Iht, but United will not know the full extent of the injury until he has been scanned. United will lose Bailly to the Africa Cup of Nations next month.

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Safety Ko Simpspon – 8/1

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PM Practice – August 1, 2008

 

Yes but the doctor said it had nothing to do with the injury. It was just a bone bruise and he said the injury that I did have, it didn’t have to do anything with that.

 

It was great for the MRIs to come back negative. It puts your mind at ease and to just come out here and move forward.

 

You can’t just worry about the injuries. You have to go out there and do your job. You just have to let that go and just play ball.lov is being linked with Chelsea and Crystal Palace this week.Christian Emile said on Nobel Arustamyan’s Youtube channel: “First of all, it depends on CSKA. Do they want to sell him? We must know the position of CSKA, because we respect the club. Thi Like some of the guys said when I first came back, just play and don’t worry about the ankle. That’s what I’m trying to do.

 

Yes, it’s a bone bruise and it didn’t have anything to do with the injury. They just said it’s a little bone bruise. They said it could have been the same thing on the other leg so just don’t worry about the United midfielder Paul Pogba has dropped a hint he will be soon back in action.Ole Gunnar Solskjaer confirmed that Pogba would miss out on United’s game with Liverpool as he failed to recover in time from a foot injury.Pogba took to Instagram workininjury and keep going.

 

Going in there yesterday I thought it was something to do with the ankle, I’m not going to lie. Fortunately it was just a bone bruise so I feel good.  I am just trying to move forward and am trying to help this team.

 

I was kind of nervous. It’s just getting back out there when something like this happens. You know you had the injury before but luckily it was just a bone bruise and hopefully the pain will go away in a couple of days.

 

No, actualls delighted hearing that Barcelona are keen to buy him back.The Spain international is the subject of a formal €35m offer from Barca this week.And Olmo has welcomed the development, telling L’Esportiu, “It makes me happy that the rumours have becomy it felt great. A lot of people asked me back home how I felt. I haven’t even been thinking about it. I’m just coming out here and playing. I’m lucky I just had a little pain with the bone bruise and I’ll just keep moving.

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Auburn vs. Mississippi State: Live stream, watch online, TV channel, kickoff time, odds, pick, prediction

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No. 7  is coming  off a big road win at Texas A&M and will be looking to keep the momsays Rangers and Roma have enquired about taking Phil Foden on loan.The City youngster has been the centre of attention in Glasgow and Rome ahead of the closing of the transfer window.Foden, one of the bright sparks of England’s otherwise disappointientum going Saturday night when the roll into town in a key SEC West battle. The Tigers defense was flat out nasty against the Aggies and only gave up just 2.7 yards per rushing attempt. That, coupled with the fast start from the offense, helped them build a big lead before alla defender Gabriel Paulista is on his radar.Gabriel is set to gain Spanish nationality in the near future and Enrique has revealed that the Valencia centre-back is among his options for La Roja’s defence.”I am aware of every player who could be calleowing a few late touchdowns to make it interesting on the scoreboard. The Bulldogs rebounded from the loss to Kansas State two weeks ago with a resounding win over Kentucky in Starkville, Mississippi, last weekend.

If Auburn is to keep its hopes of reaching the SEC and national title games alive, they will need to win tough conferences test like this down the stretch. The Bulldogs, meanwhile, could play spoiler in one of the deepest conferences in football once again.

What will happen Saturday night on The Plains? Let’s break down the game and make picks straight up and against the spread.

Storylines

 It’s safe to say that the Tigers’ defensive front is one of the best in the nation, and will keep them in every game they play. Because of that, and the rest of the rushing attack has been the centerpiece of an offense that is still building with true freshman taking the snaps. Nix is 13th in the SEC in passing with 161.3 yards per game, and coach Gus Malzahn has essentially ignored short and intermediate routes over the middle despite those typically being a big part of an RPO-based offense. The Bulldogs have given up 143.2 yards per game on the ground, which means that you’ll probably see more of the same attack from Malzahn.

Quarterback ‘ status is still in doubt heading into the matchup. What isn’t in doubt is that his backup Garrett Shrader was pretty solid in his first start last week when he completed 77.3% of his passes. Why was he so efficient? Because running back is an absolute monster. The junior has topped the 100-yard mark on the ground in all four games this season, ripped off 120 yards and three touchdowns last weekend and leads the nation with 20 rushing plays of 10 or more yards. The problem for the Bulldogs is that they’ve given up 4.5 yards per rushing attempt — 12th in the SEC.

Viewing information

: Saturday, Sept. 28 | : 7 p.m. ET: Jordan-Hare Stadium — Auburn, AlabamaESPN |    

Game prediction, picks

Auburn’s philosophy is simple — run the ball, play defense and pick spots for Nix to open things up just enough in the passing game to keep opposing teams honest. The same plan will work on Saturday night. Whitlow will wear down a Bulldogs defense thak-four has given his side more freedom.The Magpies blew West Bromwich Albion away by scoring three goals in the first-half of their FA Cup fifth-round tie on Tuesday.And Bruce thinks moving from a back-five has freed up his attacking players.He said:t lacks depth, allow Nix to work off play-action and lead the Tigers to an ugly, yet efficient win and cover. It might be sketchy deep into the second half, but the Tigers are just too much for these Bulldogs. 

AUBURN -11.5 S/U

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SMU vs. Houston odds, line: 2019 College football picks, predictions from expert on 62-32 run

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The are perhaps the most surprising club among the 10 undefeated teams left in Division I . They aim to keep their record unblemished when they visit the  on Thursday night. Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m. ET from TDECU Stadium in Houston. Southern Methodist (7-0, 3-0), which leads the AAC West Division, rebounded from a close call against with a 45-21 victory Saturday over a solid team. The Cougars (3-4, 1-2), who appear to be in rebuilding mode, scored a late touchdown to outlast downtrodden 24-17 on Saturday. SMU won last year’s matchup 45-31 as a two-touchdown home underdog. The Mustangs are 14-point favorites and the over-under for total points scored is 65.5 in the latest SMU vs. Houston odds. Before locking in your Houston vs. SMU picks, listen to whaArsenal hero Martin Keown has urged the club to move for Manchester United defender Chris Smalling.Smalling is currently on-loan with AS Roma.“Smalling is doing exceptionally well – £13 million, the price they are putting on his head, that’s not enough,” Keown said on BT Sport.”Arsenal could maybe do worse than to take him.”Smalling’s loan runs to June.t SportsLine expert Emory Hunt has to say.

Hunt is the founder and CEO of Football Gameplan, which has been supplying analysis of all levels of football since 2007, and a fo’s according to his agent, Crescenzo Cecere.He told AllMercatoWeb: “(Luigi) Sepe was hurt at the closing of the market, director (Daniele) Faggiano called us and he (Radu) didn’t hesitate for a moment to go to Parma.”Without Sepe’s injury, maybe hermer running back at Louisiana-Lafayette. He knows the game inside-out from a player’s and coach’s perspective.

The football analyst is enjoying another strong year for SportsLine members and enters this week with an incredible 62-32 record on college football picks against the spread, returning a profit of nearly $2,800 to his followers. Moreover, he has had a keen sense for the trajectory of these AAC programs, posting a 7-3 record on spread picks involving the Mustangs or Cougars over the past two seasons.

Now, he has analyzed SMU vs. Houston from every possible angle and locked in another confident against the spread pick. It’s available only at SportsLine.

Hunt knows the Mustangs can’t afford to look past a Houston club that will be inspired for a strong performance before a national television audience and its loyal fan base. Southern Methodist passed a test from Temple with perhaps its strongest all-around performance of the season. The Mustangs built a 10-0 lead in the first quarter and never looked back against an Owls club that didn’t have the firepower to keep pace.

transfer had perhaps his best game as a collegiate signal-caller. He threw for a career-high six touchdowns and 457 passing yards while completing throws to eight different receivers. Reggie Roberson had eight receptions for a career-best 250 yards and three touchdowns. He scored on plays of 33, 60 and 75 yards.

But just because the Mustangs are clicking on all cylinders doesn’t mean they will will cover the Houston vs. SMU spread on Thursday.

The Cougars had high hopes in theiratthew Langston.The 17-year-old defender put pen to paper on his first pro contract on Friday, which will run until the summer of 2022. “Me and my dad have a special bond,” said the teenager.“He has helped me a lot over the years and I want to sa first season under coach Dana Holgorsen, but saw their season take a turn for the worse following close losses to ranked teams in and . Following a 38-31 loss to the Green Wave, standout dual-threat quarterback announced he was going to redshirt in order to preserve a year of eligibility.

However, they have responded to win two of three in King’s absence, beating 46-25 as a touchdown underdog and getting past Connecticut last week. Houston was down to its third-string quarterback because of an injury to , but Logan Holgorsen, the coach’s son, threw a 58-yard touchdown pass to in the fourth quarter that held up as the game-winner.

Hunt has broken down this matchup from every angle and identified the critical factor that has him all over one side of the spread. He’s only sharing it at SportsLine.