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Genuine wing-backs and a focus on attack – why Sheffield United could be one of the most interesting teams to watch

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The cliches in Sheffield United’s were all there if you wanted to look for them: a club who hpeaking to L’Equipe, agent Seran Diabate has praised his cilent and played down previous fears about his fitness.He said of the on-loan Monaco fullback: “Djibril has taken his trouble with patience, with the objective of showing his qualities when weave spent the past 12 years in the wilderness, battening down the hatches away from home and grabbing a point with almost their only clear chance of the game.

Is this what we can expect for the remaining 37 games of the Sheffield United season? Seasoned observers of Chris Wilder’s team will answer with an emphatic “no”.

Wilder’s team drew lots of neutral admirers last season, not just because of the “sleeping giant wakes up” narrative but also due to their innovative tactical approach.

Most spoken about has been the inventive movement of the three-man central defence, which, coupled with genuine wing-backs, offers an unusual challenge for opponents.

The dangers of this based on Saturday’s evidence are that they themselves looked vulnerable down the flanks, with Bournemouth also opting for a three-man central defence and wing-backs – with Adam Smith, in particular, having plenty of joy down the right side in the first half.

But Oliver Norwood provided discipline at the base of the midfield and David McGoldrick did an excellent job of providing an attacking focal point so that no one player ever appeared too isolated. It remains to be seen how flexible Wilder can be and how quickly opponents can work them out.

But it was through one of their wing-backs, George Baldock, that the chance came to earn a dramatic point on their Premier League return after all had looked lost following Chris Mepham’s goal for Bournemouth.

Baldock pressed forward, s League qualification.Sarri’s team are at home against Watford on Sunday as they try to secure fourth place in the Premier League and return to the Champions League next season.There would also be another cup final on the horizon if they can finish crossed low for Ollie McBurnie who could not convert, but Billy Sharp did so with the rebound ensuring a memorable day for him and the club.

“Maybe it was written in the stars. All my family were down and to get the first Sheffield United goal in the Premier League after 12 years, it’s something I’ll never forget and I’m just glad it meant something to the club,” said the 33-year-old Sheffield-borntract in June and already has fielded interest from keen clubs.ESPN says Inter Milan, Atletico Madrid, Manchester United and Napoli are all interested.Indeed, these four clubs have regularly made attempts for Cavani in recent years, but without ever United fan. “I’m disappointed I didn’t start but he [Wilder] knows that and we’ve got five good strikers at the club now so I think it is going to chop and change at the top of the pitch.”

When relegated from the Premier League, Sheffield United scored just eight goals in their 19 away league games and signed three attackers this summer – Callum Robinson, Lys Mousset and Ollie McBurnie – breaking their transfer record on each occasion.

“We’ve got to score goals,” said Wilder. “Our recruitment this year was based on that at the top of the pitch. We’ve signed some good players all over the pitch to give it balance and strength and competition but we wanted goals in us. Can they score in the Premier League? We feel they are natural goal scorers and people talked about Billy – can he score in the Premier League? He’s had 10 minutes on the pitch and scored. Will that continue? Who knows.”

There is a sense of togetherness about the club which is perhaps untypical of the corporate, social media led communication of most present day Premier League organisations.

The team were mobbed by fans as they walked past a pub in Bournemouth on the morning of the game, something that Wilder says is not unusual or unwelcome.

“I remember going to Marbella a couple of years ago and us being on a coach and the supporters have just appeared from nowhere, about 500 or 600 of them, surrounding the bus. There’s an obvious connection between the supporters and the players and there has to be, this club has been at its best when there has been,” said Wilder.

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How Man City can get back on track and what Arsenal will do to stop it

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. A mid-press is the most likely strategy and this will leave space for City to hit direct passes in behind, something that the forwards must constantly look for. If Arsenal press high it could lead to scoring chances for City, as defenders pass their way out from the back to reach an exposed, vulnerable Gunners midfield.

Arsenal will almost certainly attempt to the block the middle of the pitch to force City’s play wide. City must make the pitch as wide possible to allow forward passes to be played through central areas, having the wingers hug the touchlines to stretch the space between defending midfielders or defenders. This frees up space between bodies to fire the ball to advanced players quickly through the middle.

The wingers must ensure they stay wide to stretch the pitch and create these passing lanes, taking care not to drift inside too early or run into dead ends. Sterling was guilty of doing this against Newcastle.

4-1-2-1-2 and how it caters for Mesut Ozil

Arsenal are great in possession but lack a killer final ball. Mesut Ozil is one of the best in Europe at making that pass but offers nothing defensively. To cater for Ozil, Emery can play three defensive-minded midfielders to provide a barrier in a 4-4-2 diamond, a formation Arsenal have used in their previous two Premier League matches.

All three of Lucas Torreira, Matteo Guendouzi and Granit Xhaka can carry the ball aam.The midfielder revealed that Bruce pinpointed West Ham’s tendency to play a high line and deployed Shelvey to pick holes in their defence.Shelvey told NUFC TV: “We know that Pellegrini’s teams like to play a high line.”The gaffer spoke about it bend play neat forward passes through the centre of the park at Premier League level – all of Arsenal’s players are good at this – the problem is finding that magic end product in the final third.

Man City are the home team and, simply, better than Arsenal. For this reason Emery will almost certainly start without Ozil in a more defensive shape.

Arsenal built for the counter-attack

Newcastle pulled off a shock win over Man City by blocking passing lanes and defending resiliently in a 5-4-1. The wide midfielders doubled up on City’s wingers in wide areas to make sure defenders were never outnumbered by rival attackers, with Ayoze Perez darting forward during attacks to a more central position beside the striker, overlapped by the right back.

Arsenal could attempt to frustrate City in a 3-4-3 shape with the forwards dropping into midfield when out of possession just as Newcastle did. If they can keep City quiet for the majority of the game, eventually cracks will appear to make counter-attacks a possibility.

Before they can race up the pitch, Arsenal need to ensure that they frustrate City with their defensive shape. The 3-4-3 can easily become a 5-4-1 with Pierre Emerick-Aubameyang droppingright to turn things around.The Argentine’s five-year stint at Spurs came to an end on Tuesday after a poor start to the Premier League season.But after leading the club to their first Champions League final in June, the THST believes Pochettino didn to a left midfield position (LM), supported by the left-back Sead Kolasinac (LB). The idea is to push play wide, then backwards and repeat until City give the ball away.

The pace of Pierre Emerick-Aubameyang, Alex Iwobi and Alexandre Lacazette will cause big problems if Man City are caught with too many players ahead of the ball. Employing a slightly deeper press suits their physical attributes – expect a mid-press or low block to ensure City leave space in behind their defensive line to suit pacy strikers.

Dealing with injuries

Laurent Koscielny may not be able to play due to a jaw injury. Sokratis, Bellerin and Holding are all definitely out while Maitland-Niles is a doubt – Arsenal don’t have (m)any defenders left and unless they wish to play Xhaka at centre-back again, will have to field a weakened back four instead of a three simply due to numbers available.

Man City’s forwards will be keen to test any vulnerability at the back, particularly Kolasinac’s tendency to drift forward and leave space vacant behind. Riyad Mahrez has often caused problems for Arsenal in the past and may well start on the right wing to test this theory, with Sterling running at whoever has to fill in at right-back.

The Arsenal centre-backs must watch for City’s trademark move in particular; a winger gets to the line and fakes to cross low into the box, before cutting the pass back to the penalty spot, or edge of the box for a waiting forward to slot past a bamboozled goalkeeper.

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‘I’m Jan Siewert and I have to do it my way’: New Huddersfield manager rejects comparisons with David Wagner and Jurgen Klopp

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Siewert, who began to focus on coaching at the age of 23 after a series of knee operations that evenhan Barnett, speaking with Sky Sports, has refused to shut down the prospect of Bale joining United this summer.”Manchester United? He could go,” revealedNorwich City striker Teemu Pukki says he’s having “fun” this season.The Finn scored in defeat to Italy in last night’s Euros qualifier.He told TMW: “I’m having fun playing football. “I’ve had two very good years, I have confidence in myself, scoring so many goals makes you confident in your abilities. “Things are going very well, I hope to continue like this.” Barnett. “I think he could get there, he’s still one of the best players in the world. “But it’tually forced him to retire, is also keen to avoid comparisons with Klopp.

“Jurgen is definitely an inspiration,” he said. “But please, I can’t be compared to Jurgen Klopp, you know what I mean, because he has had so many successes, and he’s an outstanding manager. And I’m Jan Siewert.”

The new manager’s early days in England have also seen him involved in a more comical identity mix-up, after he was confused with the chief executive of a Yorkshire-based children’s charity during Sunday’s match against Manchester City.

Sky Sports reporter Patrick Davison approached a man he thought was Siewert during the game, only to discovan coach Antonio Conte.The Italy international was brought to Stamford Bridge by Conte in January 2018.Now at Inter, Conte is getting to work with setting up his characteristic 5-3-2 system.Ivan Perisic is the favourite to fill the LWB role, however,er it was Manchester City supporter Martin Warhurst, head of the Martin House charity.

Siewert confirmed he was at Sunday’s match, but hidden elsewhere at the John Smith’s Stadium to avoid the media.

“I have to thank Martin from Wakefield because it was fantastic that I could observe the game,” Siewert said. “And he’s a good-looking guy, yeah? I’m not kidding; for me it was good to have a silent look at the game and get the atmosphere and the feeling.”

Siewert takes charge of a club who face a near-impossible job to avoid relegation, sitting bottom of the Premier League, 10 points from a position of safety, having won just two of 23 matches.

Wagner left by mutual consent on January 14 after more than three years in charge, having taken the club into the top division for the first time since 1972, then kept them there last season.

Julian Winter, Huddersfield’s chief executive, said that Wagner had indicated before Christmas that he needed to take a break from management.

Winter said: “David is a good man. We maybe first had a conversation four weeks ago, something of that order.

“David, being the human being that he is, sort of said building up to a January transfer window: Does the club want to adapt, think about different things? The maturity of that conversation was exactly as it was publicised.”

Winter added that Huddersfield had made preparations so that the club would not suffer off the field in the event of relegation.

He said: “To be blunt, this club has been prepared for getting into the Premier League and it will be prepared if it is not in the Premier League.

“We retained our status last season, which was fabulous. But we know that if this club does get relegated, it doesn’t fall into crisis. There aren’t fire sales.”

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Premier League executive chairman Richard Scudamore to stand down after almost 20 years in charge at end of year

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Scudamore has put collective bargaining at the heart of his reign ensuring that the league’s competitiveness has been maintained by a meritocratic sharing of the vast spoils of the television revenue generated from the like of Sky, BT Sport and a huge range of overseas broadcasters.

His successor, who is yet to be appointed, will never be able to wield that kind of influence over the competing forces in the Premier League. One of Scudamore’s last acts was to announce a new revenue-sharing agreement for overseas broadcast deals which are growing quicker than the value of the domestic rights and were previously shared equally among the 20 clubs.

He announced the sale of the two remaining broadcast packages to BT Sport and Amazon Prime, the first partner from among the big streaming corporations. Scudamore leaves with the domestic market finally slowing down having seen astonishing growth in the current cycle of rights, from 2016-2019. The clubs are said to have been reluctant to see him go but accepted his decision.

Were the likes of Manchester United, especially, and also Liverpool and Arsenal to go alone in the future and negotiate their own television deals there would be little doubt that the league’s general competitiveness would be lost forever preseason.The Belgian says he’s fit and ready following a 2018/19 campaign interrupted by injuries.”I’m fine,” De Bruyne said after the 3-1 win against Yokohama F. Marinos, in which he netted the opener.”What happened last year happtheir Melwood training ground.The Athletic reports Liverpool legends Steven Gerrard and Jamie Carragher will captain teams next summer in the last ever match to be played at the club’s Melwood training ground.The Reds are moving into a new training fens to everybody.. Scudamore has kept them all in line by reminding shareholders that it is the power of the collective to provide competition every weekend that is the great strength of the Premier League.

He will see his greatest achievement as turning the league into the most lucrative in the world. He also pushed through the Elite Player Performance Plan which underpins youth development in the professional game’s academy system. He persuaded the clubs to adopt the £30 cap for away tickets. The league also pays around £100 million to community and grassroots programmes a year, including its Football Foundation charity, a.Allegri announced his departure last week amid claims of losing the trust of president Andrea Agnelli, along with directors Pavel Nedved and to a lesser extent Fabio Paratici.Allegri said, “We talked, expressed our ideas on what was best for Juvennd another £100 million in solidarity payments to the Football League.

His reign has not been without controversy. His proposal in February 2008 to play a 39th game overseas was conceived to give smaller clubs with little global appeal a share of the Premier League’s huge international audience. Instead it backfired and cast him as the enemy of English football. He was embroiled in a leaked email scandal in 2014.

A Bristol City supporter who previously worked for the Football League, Scudamore has seen the sea-change in ownership from largely British families to a range of the planet’s super-rich. It is his organisation that has investigated the fitness of these owners to buy clubs and tried to keep them on the same page when it comes to their responsibilities to the rest of football.    

Buck said that the search for Scudamore’s successor had begun and the new man or woman will be expected to navigate a very different pay-TV market that is likely to feature more streaming platforms like Amazon. Scudamore said that he would spend more time watching his club Bristol City, still yet to play in the Premier League. He said he has no plans to retire.

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Top 10 reasons why Bills-Raiders is a must-watch matchup

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10. White on blue

For this week’s contest, the Bills boys will be wearing a white on blue uniform combination. Take a look.

After two consecutive victories against AFC opponents, the Bills are looking to secure a third against a tough Oakland squad on Sunday. With the Raiders sitting at 9-2 in the competitive AFC West, the Bills will have their work cut out for them and will be ready to rise to the occasion.

Bills fans, voting is still open and there’s time for you to help send your Bills to the 2017 Pro Bowl!

Cast your vote !

For a few Bills players and coaches, Oakland is far from uncharted territory. Bills sack leader LB Lorenzo Alexander is a native of Berkeley, Calif. and also spent the 2015 season with the Raiders. Additionally, Bills assistant head coach/defense Rob Ryan, wide receivers coach Sanjay Lal, outside linebackers coach Jeff Weeks and offensive line coach Aaron Kromer all spent time on Oakland’s coaching staff.

Buffalo’s offensive line will be tasked with containing one of the NFL’s top pass rushers in DE Khalil Mack this weekend. Coming ofgainst Newcastle United.The United right back has been excellent defensively this season, but has seemed tentative going forward.He was at his explosive best against the Magpies, getting an assist for Marcus Rashford’s header that sealed the win for f an elite Week 12 performance, the University at Buffalo product will look to disrupt Buffalo’s rhythm. It won’t be easy, but the Bills are up for the challenge.

One of the biggest surprises on Buffalo’s offense this season has been wide receiver Justin Hunter. Signed in late September to help bolster the team’s receiving corps, Hunter has managed four touchdowns on just seven receptions. With those stats, expect Hunter to continue to find the end zone.

In Week 13, players around the NFL will be able to showcase the causes they are passionate about through the “My Cause, My Cleats” initiative.  The league-wide program allows each participant to customize their cleats and wear them during the game. Several members of the Buffalo Bills will be taking part in the campaign to help share their unique stories and raise awareness for various causes.

A post shared by (@shadymccoy) on Dec 2, 2016 at 11:13am PST

It’s no secret that Bills running back LeSean McCoy is on a roll. The eliteclash with crosstown rivals Manchester United. The Belgian was absent for Wednesday’s 1-0 win over Sheffield Wednesday in the FA Cup fifth-round. And manager Pep Guardiola has confirmed DeMarcus McGuane has ended his loan with Telstar.McGuane’s time at Barcelona has come to an end, reports Sport.He signed in January 2018 from Arsenal but after being loaned out to Telstar, in Holland, he’s ready to sign permanently for Nottingham Fores Bruyne has suffered an injury.”He [Kevin de Bruyne] fell down ball carrier has already racked up four 100-yard rushing performances this season and he’s ready to make it five.

In his first game back since he was placed on the injured reserve list in September, Bills top wide out Sammy Watkins definitely made an impact. On just three receptions, Watkins racked up 80 yards and helped the Bills come away with a Week 12 win. Although he’s listed as questionable to play in Oakland, the Bills expect that the difference maker will take the field.   

1. Playoff implications

At 6-5, the Bills are in eighth place in the AFC and still very much alive in the hunt for the playoffs. Aware that they’ll need to continue to stack up wins to earn a trip to the postseason, the Bills are prepared to do what it takes.

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LaDainian Tomlinson believes LeSean McCoy will be rejuvenated in Buffalo

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Two premier running backs, both of whom have led the league in rushing. Multiple Pro Bowl appearances. Workhorse backs for playoff times.

The Bills LeSean McCoy and retired great LaDainian Tomlinson have had similar career paths in the NFL. And Tconfident signing Watford defender Marc Navarro.The Watford Observer says the Spanish club still expect the deal to go through, but that a hold up from the Hornets is currently slowing things down.While the La Liga side are believed to not be worrieduesday at Bills Camp, Tomlinson shared some advice for the Bills running back about switching teams in an NFL career.

“It rejuvenates you honestly, when you’re able to go to a different place,” Tomlinson said this week, after a long post-practice conversation with McCoy. “You go to a place wherester United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer says his players all have a clean slate.Solskjaer, however, says they must fight every day to show they want to be part of the project.”The players have a chance every day to prove you should be part of this exci you’re wanted and you go to a place where they know how to play the style you’re used to—that was my case.”

After nine years in Sanch Quique Setien after defeat at Valencia on Saturday.That’s according to Okdiario’s chief pundit Eduardo Inda, while speaking on El Chiringuito.Inda revealed Barca players took issue with Setien’s claims they were struggling to follow his instructio Diego, Tomlinson finished his career with the New York Jets in 2010 and 2011, under Jets Coach Rex Ryan.

“I knew that their style and their brand of football complemented what I did well,” Tomlinson says. “It’s no different for LeSean McCoy. He’s been in this type of offense before in college. He understands how to get downhill, how to run between the tackles, how to fight for four yards and then the big runs come after that.”

Tomlinson was at Bills Camp in his current role as an analyst for the NFL Network. He interviewed McCoy on camera before their long private conversation. LT says he stressed to McCoy how Rex Ryan’s focus on a strong running game helped extend his career, and how it will benefit Shady.

Tomlinson was 30 years old when he went to the Jets via free agency. He was nine years into his likely Hall of Fame career, on his way to 13,684 rushing yards, fifth most in NFL history. In contrast, McCoy has only spent six years in the league and just turned 27 years old last month.

For that reason, LT thinks McCoy has plenty of mileage left and can easily get 300 or more touches in the Buffalo offense this season.

“I think 300 touches, absolutely,” Tomlinson says. “Because you have to imagine you’ll get anywhere between 250 and 270 carries and then you add on another 50 receptions out of the backfield—he should approach 300 touches. And I think that’s perfect for LeSean McCoy.”

“He’s a guy that needs to be implemented into the passing game as well. He’s just two talented not to be used in the passing game.”

There’s another link between Tomlinson’s success and McCoy’s future in Buffalo. LT had the good fortune to run behind Pro Bowl FB Lorenzo Neal during his best years in San Diego. This year, McCoy will have Pro Bowl FB Jerome Felton in front of him on many runs. Tomlinson says McCoy should embrace it.

“It’s all about the tempo and the rhythm sometimes with a fullback,” according to Tomlinson. “You have to communicate very well with your fullback on certain things you like, certain things you want him to do, whether it’s the power run and that fullback blowing through there and looking for the first guy. Those are things that take time to communicate and work out on the field.”

“LeSean is a smart runner. He’s naturally an instinctive runner. I don’t think it will be that big of an adjustment running with a fullback.”

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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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Scouting Report: Bills at Lions

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– Buffalo’s right guard will be seeing Suh more than any other offensive lineman, and he’ll need some assistance knowing most opponents cannot handle him in one-on-one situations very often.

– It’s a dynamic rookie receiver against a second-year corner, who is fourth on the team in tackles and leads the team in pass breakups. Slay is also tied for the team lead in interceptions.

Bills Top 2 Advantages

– Detroit’s pass rush is pretty formidable in its own right, but facing the Lions’ offensive line could prove fruitful for Buffalo’s pass rushers off the edge. Through the first four games this season the Lions have given up the third-most sacks in the league.

– Again the Lions’ run ‘D’ is a top 10 unit as well, but in this matchup Buffalo’s third-ranked run defense has a big edge against a Manchester United midfielder Ander Herrera is happy with his first weeks at PSG.Herrera joined PSG this month in a Bosman deal.He revealed, “I’m just trying to be myself, to be natural. I’m lucky because I joined a great group of other Spanish playerDetroit run game that ranks just 25th in the league and might be without the services of Joique Bell (concussion).

Bills Number 1 Must

– Buffalo’s third down success rate has been on a steady decline through the first four weeks of the season. With Kyle Orton at quarterback this week, the Bills need to improve their efficiency on third down to keep drives alive against a team that’s capable of putting up points.

Scouting Eye

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He doesn’t make the play every time, but Matthew Stafford is pretty cool when facing blitz situations. So far this season the Lions’ former number one overall pick has gone 16-25 passing for 257 yards and two touchdowns, while also taking two sacks. Those numbers are good for a passer rating of 124.9, the fourth highest figure in the league.

The Lions will be playing their second game since losing MLB Stephen Tulloch to a season-ending knee injury. Tulloch suffered a torn ACL in Week 3 when he was celebrating a sack of Green Bay QB Aaron Rodgers. Surgery was performed this week and deemed a success. Last Sunday was the first game Tulloch missed in his nine-year career. Stepping in to take his place is Tahir Whitehead a third-year player out of Temple.

Detroit’s offense has solid weapons at the skill positions, but it hasn’t translated into much offensive success on first or second down. In fact the Lions rank 30th in the league in first down efficiency where they gain four lightly this season.Arsenal will meet Chelsea in the final next week in Baku.Sanllehi told arsenal.com: “He’s won it three times already, he’s never lost a final, and we’re hoping that that streak continues. From day one, when we were talking with hyards or more just over 40 percent of the time (40.2%). On second down their conversion percentage is just a shade over 27 percent, which ranks 27th in the NFL. However, those substandard numbers haven’t meant a whole lot in negatively impacting the Lions’ success rate on third down.

The Lions stand fourth in the league in third down conversion percentage at an impressive 52.4 percent. In third-and-short situations they rank fourth in the league as well (75%) and in third-and-medium they rank second in the league with a 73.3 percent conversion rate.

Detroit’s defense has been stingy the first month of the season when it comes to giving up yards. They rank first in the league in yards allowed per game, but perhaps even more impressive are their tackles for loss. The Lions are tied for second in the league in opponent rusdeparture for Juventus last summer.Perez denied that Real Madrid’s refusal to help the player pay debts to the tax authorities contributed to his departure.”I think he already had it quite clear that he wanted new challenges,” Perez said on El Transihes for negative yardage with 16. They also rank third in the NFL for opponent yards lost on negative plays (-113).

Lions’ All-Pro WR Calvin Johnson has been hobbled by an ankle injury the last couple of weeks. His two-catch 12-yard output last week against the Jets was his lowest production in a game in almost five seasons. Johnson did not practice at all last week leading up to last Sunday’s game. There’s a chance he might practice more this week, and he is expected to play, but he’s not expected to be 100 percent healthy.

Buffalo Chips

“I think we’ve got a lot of good players. All across the board we’ve got young talent on the outside. We’ve got two running backs that can take a lot of pressure off of us. And I think when you ask the offensive line to do the right thing I think they can really play hard for you and do a lot of great things. We’re going up against a good defense on the road. We’re going to have to play our best football to come out with a win.”

-QB Kyle Orton

Stat of the Week

Kyle Orton is 4-0 lifetime against the Detroit Lions passing for 822 yards and four touchdowns with no interceptions and a 102.2 passer rating.

Milestones in reach

-Fred Jackson needs two rushing touchdowns to become the fourth Bills player with 30 or more in his time with Buffalo.

-Mike Williams needs three receptions for 225 in his career.

-Mario Williams needs one sack for 80 in his NFL career.

Final Note

In his last eight games against NFC opponents, Mario Williams has 10.5 sacks.

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Arsene Wenger strives to defy critics by seeing the positives in Arsenal’s Champions League absence

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Having found themselves eight places and 21 points below Arsenal at the end of the 2015-2016 season, Chelsea ended the 2016-2017 campaign under Antonio Conte four places and 18 points better off than Sunday’s opponents. Arsenal’s FA Cup final victory that denied Conte’s team the domestic double might have mitigated against that reverse but it does beg the question of how Wenger is going to make up the ground with the gruelling added extra of Thursday night football.

When the two sides met in Beijing last month, Arsenal found themselves well-beaten and their performance against Sevilla in the second of two Emirates Cup games last Sunday . It is early days yet but already Wenger is having to deal with the questions over Alexis Sánchez’s future as well as those on his own new contract after yet another turbulent season in front of a divided support.

He did not take well a question about having to justify his own position as manager, an obligation he clearly does ned Victor Lindelof after their Carabao Cup defeat to Manchester City.United trailed their rivals 3-0 at half-time, in the first leg of the Cup semi-final before Marcus Rashford pulled a goal back for the hosts.”This is poor defending from Victor Lindot feel. “I am sorry I am still here. I can understand that you want to kill me but at the moment, I have survived,” he said

“Look, [last season] we won the FA Cup and pton.Pellegrini praised Michail Antonio and matchwinner Sebastien Haller, who combined dangerously together to threaten the Saints throughout as the Chilean switched to a 4-4-2 formation at St Mary’s.The manager said: “Both of them worked very well amade 75 points, and we are of course not happy with it but some teams did worse. When we qualified for the Champions League, people told me: ‘But you didn’t win a trophy.’ Now we won a trophy, and didn’t qualify for the Champions League, and it’s said to me: ‘Why are you not in the Champions League?’ That’s normal to live with but I want to focus on my job and do as well as I can and win absolutely every competition.”

It sounds like Wenger is lukewarm at best about the Europa League, a competition that the club won in 1970 in its very early guise as the Inter-Cities Fairs Cup,. As usual, his objections seem to spring from his opposition to the structure of the competition, which accepts certain eliminated teams from the Champions League into the New Year knockout stages, rather than the benefits it offers to a pragmatic manager.

Asked whether he would take it seriously as a competition, it would be right to say that Wenger hedged his bets. “I will always play a team that has a good chance to win the next game. In the Europa League if we can afford sometimes to rest some players we will do it. But we have to adapt to the level of the competition and see first what kind of group we play in.”

The notion that it might be considered a route into the Champions League was summarily dismissed. “You cannot go into the season and think that. I always was not in favour of that, because I think at some stage it can influence on the championship. If a team is in a position in April where they have more chance to win the Europa League they can let some games go in the championship, and not completely focus on that, on the regularity of the competition.”

“I was always against it [Champions League teams’ entry]. Because apart from Man United, who did win the Europa League, all the years before it was always a team who was kicked out of the Champions League. That’s why I was always against, when we voted in Geneva, I was always against it.”

It did not sound like a man who has his eye on a first European trophy at Arsenal, the one achievement he has not managed in more than 20 years, although, as Mourinho can attest, that may ion Mirandes.The Watford Observer says Aias scored for CD Mirandes last night in a 1-1 draw with Real Zaragoza.The 23-year-old has now scored eight goals in 23 appearances in all competitions this season, including six goals in six games in the Copa change if his team are slipping from contention in the league come spring.

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Claudio Ranieri visits Leicester City training ground to say goodbye to players – but did they cost him his job?

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When asked if it had been an emotional meeting with his players, he insisted it had been "normal".

Ranieri guided the midlands club to a shock title last season .

Leicester have lost their last five league games and are yet to score in the top flight in 2017 ahead of Monday’s visit of Liverpool.

".

"After the euphoria of last season and being crowned Premier League champions all I dreamt of was staying with Leicester City, the club I love, for always.

"Sadly this was not to be. I wish to thank my wife Rosanna and all my family foo Fleetwood Town for the rest of the season.Connolly was with Lincoln City for the first half of the season, where he played 15 games.Now he will head to the League One club for the rest of the term.Connolly has only played one game for the Everton sr their never ending support during my time at Leicester.

"Mostly I have to thy targeted Dejan Lovren for their shock 3-0 defeat of champions-elect Liverpool.Two goals from Ismaila Sarr and one from Deeney, all three of which came in the second half, were enough to seal a famous victory for the Hornets, leaving Liverpool to reank Leicester City Football Club. The adventure was amazing and will live with me forever.

"Thank you to all the journalists and the media who came with us and enjoyed reporting on the greatest story in football."

Manchester United boss Jose Mourinho wore a shirt bearing Ranieri’s initials as a mark of respect at his Friday press conference.

Mourinho’s relationship with the Italian has been fraught, but he followed up an Instagram tribute to Ranieri with further warm words on Friday, and described his own sacking by Chelsea in December 2015 – again just months after winning a league title – as "peanuts" by comparison.

Speaking about the initialled shirt, Mourinho said: "It is my little homage to somebody that wrote the most beautiful history of the Premier League.

"Somebody that probably would deserve the Leicester stadium to be named ‘Claudio Ranieri’ – and he is sacked. So I think Leicester made history two years in a row."

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp also compared the sacking Ranieri to Brexit and Donald Trump’s election as US president.

Reds boss Klopp said: "For me there have been a few strange decisions in 16/17: Brexit, Trump, Ranieri. Do I have to understand it all the time – obviously not. I have no idea why Leicester did this."

Antonio Conte also said he would struggle to accept it if it did turn out Leicester’s players effectively forced Ranieri out.

The Chelsea manager added: "It’s not rightrdiola insists the title race isn’t over after defeat at Liverpool on Sunday.Liverpool proved more clinical in front of goal, scoring twice inside the first 15 minutes to take an early stranglehold on the game.And although Bernardo Silva’s second hal that the players decide if a manager must be sacked or not. If this happened, it means that the club is poor, without power."

But Foxes caretaker boss Craig Shakespeare dismissed rumours of dressing-room unrest.

He said: "I’m not aware of any senior players going to the owners so that’s news to me. What I would say, there was a lot of frustration because of results but he hadn’t lost the dressing room."

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AP: Early NFL Draft entries announced

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Keenan Allen, WR, California

Stedman Bailey, WR, West Virginia

Le’Veon Bell, RB, Michigan State

Gio Bernard, RB, North Carolina

Knile Davis, RB, Arkansas

Mike Edwards, DB, Hawaii

Johnathan Hankins, DT, Ohio State

Stefphon Jefferson, RB, Nevada

Joe Kruger, DE, Utah

Marcus Lattimore, RB, South Carolina

Corey Lemonier, DE, Auburn

Kevin Minter, LB, LSU

Justin Pugh, OT, Syracuse

Eric Reid, S, LSU

Xavier Rhodes, CB, Florida State

Da’Rick Rogers, WR, Tennessee Tech

Logan Ryan, CB, Rutgers

Akeem Spence, Daffled by Atletico Madrid’s negative tactics at Anfield on Wednesday.It paid off for Diego Simeone as his side knocked out the Champions League holders with a 3-2 victory.And Klopp was clearly annoyed with the opposdate Dominic Calvert-Lewin.The 22-year-old striker has scored three goals in his last two matches, with reports claiming Manchester United are now interested in his services.Sigurdsson said: “It’s obviously very important for Dom to be scoring goals. eal to sign Bruno Fernandes from Sporting Lisbon.Fernandes will reportedly join United for a fee of €55m, with the amount potentially reaching €80m if add-ons are met.”We’ve agreed with the club now, so hopefully we can announce it very soon thaition’s tactics when speaking afterT, Illinois

Bjoern Werner, DE, Florida State

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Bills heading west early this week

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The Bills will make their one and only west coast trip of the season this week to San Diego for Sunday’s game against the Chargers. What will make this trip different from those of the past is head coach Chan Gailey has his team flying out a day earlier than usual.

Gailey has his team departing Buffalo just a couple of hours after their typical Friday practice wraps up in the early afternoon. They’re due to arrive in San Diego at 5:15 pm Pacific time on Friday.

“You can go a day early and try to get acclimated a little bit or go just like your normal schedule and everyone has a comfort level with the schedule,” said Gailey. “With this it’s different because you’re doing Saturday walk through at a different place and you’re staying in a hotel for two nights. That’s different, but your body is getting acclimated to the time and hopefully that helps you.”

A lot of west coast teams typically come east early to adjust to the early kickoff times, which typically would be at 10 am Pacific time. The San Francisco 49ers went so far as to spend an entire week in the eastern time zone with back-to-back games on the east coast back in September against Cincinn about Tottenham’s appointment of Jose Mourinho.Mourinho is close to Lille management and there is talk of sports director Luis Campos moving to the Londoners to join the Portuguese.And Le 10 Sport says Mourinho could well raid LOSC in 2020 to boost ati and Philadelphia.

Buffalo’s players don’t seem to feel they’ll be all that affected by the time change.

“It’s much harder going west to east,” said Dwan Edwards. “You’re losing three hours and you’re playing at what is 10 am for you normally. Going east to west it doesn’t really matter because you’ve got three extra hours to restays Southampton pushed them hard for Saturday’s 4-0 win.The Reds emerged victorious fro play on after his release from PSG this summer.Sky Italia says talks between Buffon and Juve are ongoing as he ‘inches closer’ to the Bianconeri. Juve will first wait to offload Mattia Perin with Roma and Sevilla keen. Once Perin leaves, everythingom a tough clash with Saints at Anfield as second-half goals from Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Jordan Henderson and Mohamed Salah (two) secured the win.Klopp said, “Fir anyway. It’s a four o’clock game for us back home basically.”

“They say getting acclimated to the time change is going to help,” said Justin Rogers. “But I don’t know if it really will.”

“I guess you’re more rested,” said Kirk Morrison. “So I suppose it’s better than going the day before.”

For most road trips the Bills usually have their Saturday practice, and after lunch they head to the airport for travel. This weekend they’ll be waking up in San Diego on Saturday and will be taken to La Jolla high school for their Saturday practice. Meetings will follow as usual in preparation for Sunday’s game.

Next season the Bills will be facing the NFC West as their interconference division with one road game at Seattle or at San Francisco, but Gailey isn’t committed to this approach just yet.

“To be honest with you this is a test run,” he said. “If it goes well knowing we have to go out there next year then we’ll evaluate it at the end of this trip and see what we thought.”

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Easley, Troup out for Sunday

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They were both listed as questionable on Buffalo’s injury reporanchester City have 10 days to lodge their appeal against being thrown out of the Champions League to the Court of Arbitration for Sport.The club were banned on Friday from European club competition for the next two seasons for “serious breaches” of t this week, but WR Marcus Easley and DT Torell Troup have not made the trip to Kansas City for the season opener and won’t play on Sunday.

Easley left Friday’s pallum Hudson-Odoi’s return from rupturing his Achilles.He operated centrally as England Under-21s drew in Slovenia on Friday night, with manager Aidy Boothroyd keen to experiment.Hudson-Odoi’s peers have remarked that the 18-year-old appears to have ractice due to illness. Head coach alkeeper David James admits he’s a fan of Manchester United goalkeeper Sergio Romero.Romero is expected to replace United No 1 David de Gea in goal for Sunday’s clash against rivals Liverpool after the Spaniard picked up an injury while on internatioChan Gailey had hoped it would clear up before today’s game, but it has not as Easley stayed back in Buffalo and won’t be available for Sunday’s game.

Torell Troup also did not make the trip after his lower back tightened up in practice on Wednesday. He did not practice Thursday and was limited on Friday. His back has not improved enough.

Troup in his second season is an important rotational cog in Buffalo’s improved run defense. It’s expected that Kellen Heard will have an even larger role in the Bills’ defensive line rotation Sunday with Troup not available.

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Spiller's big day rings hollow in loss

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With six games to handle the mantle of feature running back C.J. Spiller has already shown some flashes of the kinds of plays he can deliver with the ball in his hands. On Sunday he flashed early and late and put together the most productive day in his young career. The only problem was he did it in a loss that extended Buffalo’s lengthy losing streak.

“It was a good day, tough losing the game,” said Spiller. “Obviously we really wanted this one. I think we played hard. The first half we really cosays Liverpool are capable of going through the season undefeated.Henry was part of the Gunners team which achieved this feat for the 2003/04 campaign.“I think this team can go without defeats, and the question remains who will be the first to defeuldn’t get anything established on offense; weren’t executing, penalties. We just have to go back and, that’s something we can fix.  See what we did bad, correct it, and see what we did good and learn of it.”

Spiller could learn a lot by what he did after the Bills defense forced a fumble midway through the first quarter. In a scoreless game Buffalo’s offense stuck to the ground early. After ro Lampard was delighted with Mateo Kovacic’s performance for their FA Cup win at Hull City.Lampard is pleased the midfielder is justifying his decision to buy him outright from Real Madrid last summer.The manager reflected: “I think he can do both rollling up 15 yards on his first three carries on the Bills first two possessions, Spiller ripped off an 18-yard run on a 2nd-and-10 down to the Miami 24-yard line. That was followed by a run up the middle that he busted to the near sideline after breaking a tackle, gaining the corner and reaching the end zone for a 24-yard touchdown run.

“I started to make my move early, saw the receiver coming in and he had a good block on that cornerback out there, I think it was Brad Smith, I saw the safety try to fit inside. He obviously didn’t do a good job of wrapping up and I used my strength that people say that I have little of, and showed that I can break tackles.”

At the half Spiller had rolled up 64 yards on just eight carries and had three receptions for 15 yards. Head coach Chan Gailey said the plan all along was to make heavy use of Spiller in the passing game.

“We had a plan of certain packages that we were using C.J . and we were using Tashard (Choice) in,” said Gailey. “We knew we were going to use C.J. a lot in the passing game.”

Come the second half Buffalo’s offense sputtered with Spiller only seeing four more carries the rest of the game finishing with a career-high 91 rushing yards. He also had a career-best nine receptions for 76 yards and a touchdown, the second most by a Bills player this season.

Down 23-7 Spiller was responsible for 41 yards on Buffalo’s 80-yard scoring drive and the back capped the possession pulling in a three-yard touchdown reception from Ryan Fitzpatrick on a quick slant to make it a 10-point game. Spiller became the first Bills player since Fred Jackson in the 2010 season to post a rushing and receiving touchdown in the same game.

Spiller’s 167 total yards from scrimmage was also a personal best eclipsing his previous best of 102 yards against Tennessee. All the lofty statistics however, didn’t register with Spiller coming off a loss.

“I’d trade those stats in for a win,” he said. “I was just trying to make plays. I knew what I had to do coming into the game, I knew what I wanted to try and correct from last game. Obviously I wasn’t making enough people miss last game and that’s something I wanted to correct and I knew those guys have a great rush defense ser David Luiz has played down his training ground bust-up with Gonzalo Higuain before last night’s Europa League final triumph.In the last session before the game, Luiz was filmed clearly elbowing Higuain.After defeating Arsenal, Luiz admitted the clo I really took that to heart to go out and show that we can run the ball against anybody.”

However, Buffalo ran it just seven times in the second half of Sunday’s loss to Miami. Gailey indicated that not using Spiller as much in the run game come the final two quarters of the game was to keep him fresh.

“We’re trying not to wear the guy completely out,” said Gailey. “He’s not the biggest back in the world. I don’t think he can go out there and carry it 25 or 30 times. I don’t want to put him in that position to carry it 25 to 30 times. I think we’ve got to split the carries and let Tashard have some of those packages to take some of the hits off of C.J.”

Spiller didn’t have a problem with the approach knowing all told he had 20 total touches in the game.

“We were down two scores; we’re trying to get some momentum, trying to get it going,” Spiller said. “I don’t go into the second half saying ‘I want this many carries.’ Whatever we need to do to get us back into the game, that’s what we’ve got to go with. I thought we were running the ball very successful but when you get down two scores and you’re trying to get back into the game and get your crowd back into it, you’ve got to try and throw it around a little bit.”

In the four games in which Spiller has been the main ball carrier he’s undoubtedly progressed, but the second-year back is more focused on finishing the season out with a victory or two instead of assessing where his game is right now.

“It’s too early, after we play the Patriots I’ll see what I did, but I’m just trying to learn on the go,” he said. “When you think you’ve done well, that’s when you get complacent.  I’m just learning as we go and I’m getting more and more comfortable with the offensive line.  After the season I think I’ll have a better idea over these six games how I think I did.” 

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Sunderland 1 Arsenal 4: Pressure mounts on David Moyes as Black Cats humiliated in late capitulation

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You can only beat what is put in front of you, of course, and there was something ominous about the way Arsenal moved through the gears, after Jermain Defoe had equalised for Sunderland midway through the second half from the penalty spot.

The Gunners responded to that setback with three goals in just six minutes and 20 seconds as Olivier Giroud came off the bench to score twice and Alexis Sanchez added a second after he had opened the scoring in the first half. 

“I am happy with the performance, with the result,” said a pristine looking Wenger. “At some stage, we were questioned with our spirit as well, because we missed many chances.

“At 1-1, of course, you are thinking you have a chance now to lose a game which should be over. But we kept going again and had another go and won in the end in a comfortable way.

Sunderland’s lack of quality is obvious. Their next two games, away at Bournemoutayers are ready for the start of the campaign after a tough preseason.Spurs boss Mauricio Pochettino likened the pre-season schedule to the Champions League ter City’s defeat at Burnley has been revealed.The Daily Mail says the pair have been fined by their Leicester team-mates for turning up late to training. Both men were left out of the Foxes side that lost 2-1 against Burnley but Brendan Rodgers insiand having faced Juventus, Manchester United, Real Madrid and Bayern Munich, Inter provide thh and at home to Hull City, look crucial if they are going to have any hope of turning things around. 

Lose both and manager David Moyes’ future will have to be questioned, no matter how much the club want to give him time. It still seems ridiculous to sack him, because they brought him to do a long term job, but Sunderland have already equalled the worst start to a Premier League season – Manchester City in 1995/6 – and it is not showing any sign of ending.

Sunderland are in the same division – for the time being at least – as Arsenal, but this had the feel of a cup tie against lower league opposition. Having survived more by luck than judgement for the last four years, it seems the Black Cats have used up all their lives.

They began brightly, trying to take the game to Arsenal, but there was little they could do to hurt the visiting defence, who just soaked it all up and waited for the confidence to drain from the home team.

It did not take long as Arsenal scored at the end of a 22-pass move. This Sunderland defence make mistakes and when Alex Oxlaide-Chamberlain skipped around van Patrick Aanholt and sent over a delicious cross, the danger should have been cleared.

Sunderland had three defenders inside the area. Arsenal had just one attacker, but Lamine Kone had no idea where Sanchez was, did not check on him once and then waited to head the ball clear. Sanchez was like a spider waiting for a fly, poised, but unseen. 

As the cross left his teammate’s boot, he pounced, dashing in front of the static centre back to glance a header into the top corner. A good goal from an Arsenal point of view A dreadful one from Sunderland’s. That is why they are bottom of the league.

It felt like the game was already over as a contest, but Arsenal did not manage to get the second goal they needed to kill the contest before half-time.

There is always a danger, when you have looked so comfortable, but failed to build a two goal lead that you will be punished. Arsenal were playing in third, possibly second, gear, but they did not create enough going forward.

Sanchez felt he should have had a penalty when he was tugged back by Kone, but he could have run on instead of throwing himself to the floor.

Minutes later, Sunderland were awarded a spot kick after Shkodran Mustafi lost the ball to Duncan Watmore, who was then brought down by Petr Cech. Defoe converted from the spot.

Sunderland’s foothold in the game lasted just six minutes as Arsenal moved back through the gears, Sanchez sent Kieran Gibbs away down the left and his cross was swept in by Olivier Giroud.

The natural order restored, Arsenal flexed their muscles as Giroud headed in a third off the back of his head and Sanchez was able to tap the ball past Jordan Pickford as the Sunderland defence disintegrated.

“I’ll keep doing what I do,” said Moyes. “I’m an experienced manager, I’m not experienced of being quite in this sort of position before, but I’ve had lots o United boss David Moyes is ready to introduce a new disciplined culture at the club.Moyes has declared there will be “zero tolerance” of bad behaviour under his new regime at West Ham.“I’ve come in today and it nearly feels like deja vu,” said tf games in the Premier League  and I’ll keep working them. 

“You might not see it, but we had to stick in the game, Arsenal were fantastic, a team of better quality than us. We grew in the game, got back into it, but the players they can bring on, the gap was too big in the end.”

I really don’t like managers being chopped so often but David Moyes has a real job on to deal with the mounting pressure. His team looks lost.

The Stadium of Light is basically the stadium of empty at the moment. Coquelin comes off to give Maitland-Niles some Premier League experience. It genuinely looks like there are more empty seats than spectators left in the ground. 

 

That’s Mr Sanchez celebrating his goal there. Arsenal build up another attack by passing and linking all over the Sunderland half and the defenders clear it away. Arsenal just keep on coming though and any attempts to play in Defoe are utterly pointless – he can’t hold it up on his own or even win headers against those defenders. 

 

Great cross by Oxlade-Chamberlain but what a header that is from Sanchez. An Alan Shearer-esque power drive off the noggin. The ball from the right was perfect – Kone should have done so much better defending it. 

Arsenal are made to pass the ball patiently around the Sunderland half in an attempt to get forward. They ping it about quickly and the movement is great. 

 Sunderland are holding a really high line but have been caught out twice with through-balls already…

Sky Sports are running a very long interview with Petr Cech about that time he had his skull broken and how he likes drumming. His YouTube channel is various videos of him playing drum covers of different songs. The best thing is that you can see him improving over time. Awww. 

I cannot believe he’s even considering this, especially with how good Arsenal have looked with Sanchez up front, but Wenger has said he . I do not understand. Giroud is a fine player, scores goals, gets injured, misses all his chances and Arsenal draw 0-0 and finish fourth. He is such a fourth place player, whereas the Sanchez + Ozil partnership is dynamic and exciting.

Today that partnership gets another chance up front. Enjoy it while you can Gunners fans!

This one has a draw written all over it. Sunderland are going to sit deep and keep the doors shut, the windows boarded and the chimney blocked to stop Arsenal getting past them. Without Cazorla pulling the strings Arsenal can become a bit predictable – expect Ozil to drop a lot deeper today to try and influence the passing away from the man marker he’ll have been assigned.

This Premier League match takes place at 12.30pm on Saturday October 29 2016.

At the Stadium of Light..

Oh very much so. has exclusive rights to the match, and you can follow it all here with our live blog. 

, and have not won a league match all season. They’ve lost six out of their last seven league matches, and last won a league match in May. 

Arsenal by contrast are unbeaten in their last 13 matches and have won eight of their last nine in all competitions. 

Sunderland have a dreadful recent record against Arsenal, and have won just one of the last 25 league matches between the two sides ().

They did though earn a 0-0 draw in this equivalent fixture last season, and Arsenal fans will have painful memories of a late Darren Bent equaliser that earned the Black Cats a 1-1 draw in September 2010.  

Otherwise though Arsenal have largely been on easy street against Sunderland, and Mesut Ozil will recall fondly making his debut at the Stadium of Light in a 3-1 win three years ago. 

Well, how about…

Arsenal have conceded just eight times in 15 visits to Sunderland in the Premier League (including one game at Roker Park). The Gunners have kept a clean sheet in three of their last four at the Stadium of Light.David Moyes has lost 14 Premier League games against Arsene Wenger – the only manager he’s lost to as often is Sir Alex Ferguson.Olivier Giroud has scored five times and assisted two goals in his last six Premier games against Sunderland in all competitions.Jermain Defoe has faced Arsenal 21 times in the Premier League but has only scored twice – once at Highbury for West Ham in January 2003 and again for Spurs in their 5-4 loss to the Gunners in November 2004.Sunderland have made the worst start to a Premier League season (two points after nine games) since Sheffield Wednesday had one point after nine games in 1999/2000.Theo Walcott has had more shots on target this season than any other Premier League player (17). A goal in this game means he would surpass five goals in a Premier League season for the first time since 2012/13 (14).Jack Rodwell hasn’t won any of his last 34 Premier League games he’s started, the longest run ever by a Premier League player.Arsenal are one of two unbeaten Premier League sides away from home this season – the other being North London rivals Tottenham.

Stats provided by Opta

Sunderland are without the injured Sebastian Larsson,  Fabio Borini,  Jan Kirchhoff, Vito Mannone, AdnanJanuzaj, Jason Denayer and Lee Cattermole.

Arsenal will be missing Lucas Perez (who ), Per Mertesacker and Danny Welbeck. Santi Cazorla, Theo Walcott and Aaron Ramsey are doubtful, but Olivier Giroud is fit to play. Granit Xhaka meanwhile is serving the final match of his three-game suspension. 

Pickford; Manquillo, Kone, O’Shea, Van Aanholt; Watmore, Pienaar, Ndong, Rodwell, Khazri; Defoe

Cech; Bellerin, Mustafi, Koscielny, Monreal; Coquelin, Elneny; Oxlade-Chamberlain, Ozil, Iwobi; Sanchez

– 8/1

Ar – 2/5

– 4/1

A 1-1 draw.