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Man Utd counter-punch Watford into submission in Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s first match as permanent manager

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data-js=”article-bith Cambridge United has seen Macclesfield safe for another season.”I’m not saying it’s Bobby Moore and Pele great escape [Escape to Victory] but it is a little bit like that as well,” Campbell said afterwards.”Most of the pundits were saying no hopeody” data-insert-mobile-adslot>

et this was 90 minutes that supported that the only change from the “defensive, counter-attacking football” of Jose Mourinho “is that Solskjaer is winning”. United certainly do the counter punch well, and the game’s highlight was a sublime pass from Shaw for Rashford’s goal, but Watford had 20 shots all told and as many on target – eight – as their opponents had efforts at all.

Paul Pogba, Nemanja Matic and Ander Herrera were uniformly dismal, outshone throughout by Doucoure, and with no platform in midfield, United were indebted to some robust defending and Watford’s tendency to snatch at chances. Pogba has had a lot more good games under Solskjaer than bad ones but it is telling that when he plays poorly – and he spent much of this match half-heartedly milling around and cheaply conceding possession – United suffer terribly for it.

Addressing that is one of several challenges for Solskjaer. “Paul is important for us and we couldn’t keep the ball,” he said. “He has been away, played two games with France – a bit deeper for them – so that is something we may have to think about to get him more involved.”

“This is the start of the start,” said Solskjaer in his programme notes, although that message had obviously not got through to his players before Rashford opened the scoring. United were slow, sloppy, sluggish and half asleep. Passes were underhit or misplaced, which invited needless pressure against a Watford side who could not have imagined they would be given so much room and who, with a little more composure, could and probably should have taken the lead. Doucoure dragged a shot wide from 12 yards as the goal opened up, Troy Deeney forced David De Gea to scoop the ball away with a header and an effort from Roberto Pereyra lacked the power to trouble the United goalkeeper.

olskjaer will have b boss Chris Wilder blew a fuse over VAR after their 1-1 draw with Tottenham yesterday.Wilder called for a major review of VAR after Jon Moss failed to follow the Premier League’s OWN guidelines to deny Sheffield United a famous victory.After video reeen most grateful that his team scored first – and what a goal it was. Shaw has been United’s most consistent performer this season and he was their best on show again here. Winning the ball from Deeney deep inside his own half with a well-timed interception, the England left back galloped forward, looked up and, still in his own half, is “baffled” by Mesut Ozil’s lack of involvement this season.The German has not featured in Unai Emery’s last three match-day squads.”I want to see more offensive players on the pitch in positions where we’re going to be able to hurt teams,” Wright bent a quite superb low 40-yard pass in behind Christian Kabasele that Rashford, perfectly positioned in between the Watford defender and Miguel Britos, did not need to break stride to run on to. The England striker took one touch and then, with his second, dinked the ball past the onrushing Ben Foster.

he goal settled United. They were denied a second soon after when Foster made an excellent reaction save from Martial and created several other inviting openings but the momentum built up in the closing stages of that half evaporated after the interval. Off the pace and sitting deeper and deeper, Watford were encouraged to attack. De Gea had to be alert to push away a shot from Pereyra and Will Hughes shot wide from an attack that originated from Pogba squandering possession and it became very apparent that something had to change for United.

errera and Juan Mata made way for Andreas Pereira and Jesse Lingard just after the hour mark as Solskjaer sought more impetus and those two substitutes would eventually combine to tee up Martial for United’s second against the run of play, the Frenchman scooping the ball home on the rebound from close range after Foster had saved his initial backheel. Doucoure’s goal – slicing through the heart of United’s defence after a one-two with Isaac Success – simply came too late for Watford.

“It’s difficult to explain [how we lost] because we created chances, had more shots, spent a lot of time in the opposition half,” Gracia said. “We need to make a step forward against these teams but I believe we can do it. I see it every day, the commitment and belief from my players, I can feel it but we have to show it.”

was left out of United’s squad after the defender – whose wife Maja has just given birth to a baby son – had received death threats for pulling out of Sweden’s squad for their recent internationals. "We felt Victor was better off not playing because he’s had a couple of things to sort out," Solskjaer said.

 

 

 

 

 

 

ere is Watford’s knocking on the United door visualised. No answer yet. 

atford line up thus:

"If I can walk out of here, when leaving the club, having won things – of course, the Premier League – then I’d be a proud man. I’m a happy man, I’m a determined man – the day I walk out of here, I hope to be a proud man."

alk will now be about transfer targets, new contracts and clearing out the deadwood: the bread-and-butter duties of a permanent Premier League manager. But, first, the tricky proposition of a visit from Watford. Honeymoon’s over, the real job starts now.

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4 things to watch in the AFC wild card race and Bills-Dolphins this weekend

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It all comes down to the final weekend for the Bills. They’ve got a bona fide shot to end their 17-season playoff drought with their first meaningful final regular season game in 13 years.

Here are some things to keep an eye on this weekend as the Bills head south to play the Dolphins:

The NFL’s flex col has advised James Maddison to snub Manchester United for Liverpool or Manchester City.Nicol believes the Leicester City star could stagnate his career at Old Trafford, in a similar vein to Paul Pogba.The Reds legendary defender told ESPN FC: “Undscheduling policy set it up so all four games that impact the AFC Wild Card chase kick off at 4:25 pm Sunday. So, Bills fans will be busy tracking all four games at once. If they all go Buffalo’s way (all of them don’t have to) here are some reasons why. Remember Buffalo needs to win and a Baltimore loss or a Tennessee loss and a Los Angeles Chargers loss.

They just did two weeks ago in Orchard Park. The Dolphins have already been eliminated from playoff contention. Tyrod Taylor has had his best games against Miami. Cincinnati may want to “win it for Marvin” if indeed it is Marvin Lewis’ last game as head coach. In his last three games in Baltimore, Andy Dalton has averaged 322 yards passing per game, with 5 touchdowns and 1 interception. WR A.J. Green has played four games in his career at Baltimore and has a total of 579 receiving yards with 4 touchdowns.

Jacksonville has the third ranked defense in the NFL. The Jaguars are looking for revenge after losing to Tennessee earlier this season. Jacksonville QB Blake Bortles owns the Titans – he has thrown 9 TDs and 1 INT in his last three games at Tennessee, and averaged 332 yards per game.

The Raiders have won 4 of their last 5 against the Chargers. Raiders Coach Jack Del Rio is 6-3 lifetime against the Chargers. “Beast Mode” Marshawn Lynch ran for 95 yards last week against the Eagles and the Chargers are dead last in the NFL in rush defense.

**

You hear the cliché “coming up big” a lot in the hockey world. With the magnitude of the game in Miami Sunday, there are a couple of Bills who can be serious difference makers in the season finale:

 has had a strong finish to the regular season, averaging 84 rushing yards per game in the Bills last five. He’s got three touchdowns in those five games, two of them against Miami a couple of weeks ago. McCoy has a knack for making Dolphin defenders (and others) miss in space and he seems to have a personal grudge with Miami LB Kiko Alonso who he was traded for three years ago.

has been a difference maker in his five career games against the Dolphins. He’s won three of those five, and he’s completed 65-percent of his passes in those matchups. Taylor has 9 TD passes and 0 INTs against the Dolphins over the years, and he’s run for two touchdowns also.

will need to “bring his lunch pail” Sunday when he lines up across from Miami’s dominant DT Ndamukong Suh. It should be a familiar feeling—he just went to battle two weeks ago in Buffalo and Ducasse held his own. Offensive line coach Juan Castillo was singing Ducasse’s praises after the Miami win but it won’t be any easier this weekend. Suh can take over a game with his sheer strength and unnatural quickness. It won’t be entirely on Ducasse’s shoulders, but he’ll play a big role in how much room Shady has to run and how much time Taylor has to throw.

The Bills will finish ahead of Miami and the Jets in the AFC Eden Hazard.The Mirror says Hazard is on his way to Real Madrid after the Spanish giants agreed an initial £88million deal with Chelsea .In a stunning piece of business for a player out of contract in a years’ time, the Blues could rake in as much East this year. They’ve locked up second place in the division for the second time in four years. They’re this year’s first runner-up in the division the Patriots seemingly own.

But Buffalo has a chance to finish the division with a 3-3 record with a win on Sunday. And they get their final crack at beating a division rival in the second match-up of the year. They lost previous rematches this year to the Jets and the Patriots.

**

Right before kickoff Sunday, look at the field at Miami’s Hard Rock Stadium. It could look a little worn out.

At 8 pm Saturday, the Miami Hurricanes play Wisconsin in the Orange Bowl at Hard Rock. That game should end around 11:30pm, and 17 hours later, the Bills and the Dolphins will be right back on the grass field, hoping the college teams haven’t tornt not freeze against Fiorentina.The Grifone go head-to-head with the Viola, who could also still be relegated, but need to get a better result than Empoli manage away to Inter Milan to stay up. Prandelli said, “It’s marvellous to see and feeling th it up too much.

The Dolphins have recently installed Platinum TE natural grass on the field at home, but they’ve had some issues with it in the past.

Dolphins radio color commentator Joe Rose, a former Miami tight end, says if it doesn’t rain Saturday night the field should be OK. Should be.

“This is the sixth different field we’ve put down,” Rose told earlier this week.

“We’re fine as long as we don’t get any rain the night before, when the big guys from Wisconsin and the big guys from the Miami Hurricanes are out there. Quick turnaround–we’ve had some of those games when it’s been rough.”

The weather forecast calls for clear skies with only a 10-percent chance of rain Saturday night and Sunday in Miami. And that’s good, according to Rose.

“It has been a struggle for the Dolphins trying to get the right turf that can handle back to back games when it’s raining,” he says.

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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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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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April 25, 2013: Bills draft EJ Manuel

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Rumor. SpSouness feels for Harry Maguire at Manchester United.Souness said he rates Maguire and doesn’t blame the England defender for United’s poor form, but insisted the Red Devils must improve their midfield. He told The Sunday Times: “Until they fix it, Ueculation. A draft-day trade. A first-round QB. The new face of the franchise in Buffalo.

All of it happened on April 25, 2013 as the Bills from ninth overall, while never losing sight of the intended target.

“With the 16th pick in twere unable to shut out their fierce rivals Everton in midweek, but they did run away with the game with a winning the Europa League will be the best memory he takes from his Old Trafford career.Herrera has announced he’s leaving United at the end of the season.He told manutd.com: “There are a few. But if I had to choose one or two then I’d pick the Eu5-2 win.And given their eight point lead at the top of the Premier League, Van Dijk is not too concerned about the few goals they may concede.”he 2013 NFL Draft, the Buffalo Bills select EJ Manuel, quarterback, Florida State.”

PHOTOS:

And with those words from NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, so began the EJ Manuel era in Buffalo.

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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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Live Training Camp Coverage – August 11

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Follow all the action live during the 11th practice of Bills training camp by following our reporters as they tweet updates between 3:00 p.m. and 6:00 as good friend Reece James.It was James who provided the assist for Hudson-Odoi’s goal in their FA Cup defeat of Nottingham Forest on Sunday.Hudson-Odoi said, “Me and Reece have been playing together with each other for years, since the age of Underp.m. at St. John Fish Ole Gunnar Solskjaer says giving Anthony Martial constant possession is the key to his success.Martial was in superb form on Thursday night against Newcastle United, scoring twice in the 4-1 win at Old Trafford.”The key is to give him the ball. He’swatch Valencia striker Maxi Gomez against Barcelona at the weekend.And the reports back are bound to have been positive – the 23-year-old scored twice as Los Che stunned Messi and co with a 2-0 win.Gomez, who is more likely not to arrive until the suer College.

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Arsenal transfer news and rumours: Shkodran Mustafi deal no closer as Gunners join race for Jose Fonte

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What sense that makes to Barcelona, Mathieu or – most importantly here – Arsenal, is yet to be established. In summary: we wait on developments with Shkodran Mustafi.

 The £12m man told German newspaper Die Welt: "Arsenal, Southampton, Manchester City and Liverpool. All those clubs got in touch with me about a move. 

“I didn’t speak with Liverpool managhave shifted shirt sponsors from Puma to Adidas.And Gunners stars Alexandre Lacazette and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang have been pictured wearing the new kit.The design is inspired from the 1986 kit.Aubameyang and Lacazette with the new Arsenal kit for er Jurgen Klopp but I had a phone conversation with Arsene Wenger, who spoke French to me.

“Yet I chose Leipzig as they have great potential and I didn’t yet want to join a big Champions League club.

Ambitious stuff.

While Valencia continue to hold the Gunners to ransom over this blog’s standout star Shkodran Mustafi, 32-year-old Fonte is said to be "keen" on a move to Old Trafford, but Jose Mourinho would have to sell before he can buy.

£10m would be enough to seal the deal for Arsenal if they wanted to steal a march, but is Fonte a long-term proposition for a club famously unaccommodating to their over-30s?

As the Gunners continue to haggle over the price for Mustafi, Soriano – who played with the German at Sampdoria – had this short lament to spice things up:

 

The circle of life. 

"It breaks my heart to say but I can’t recall the last time an Arsenal fan really looked forward to the start of the season," Wright wrote in his column in the Sun.

"Yes, we all know these days it is about profits and balance sheets. But that cannot be at the total exclusion of everything else.

"Speculate to accumulate? There is not a great deal of the former at Arsenal. And unless they are prepared to do so, you really do fear the worst.&quotngland U21 side.The 19-year-old started in Euro2021 qualifying wins over Slovenia and Austria this week.”Really pleased, Austria were a good side and to get that assist early on was really good for me, and the team were excellent for the rest of the ;

German-born Turkish international Toprak, 27, has been with Leverkusen for six estions about his old club.Los Blancos are enduring a horrid spell at the moment, but the ex-Spain coach was keen to talk about anything other than their predicament.”I neither owe nor wish Real Madrid any bother,” he said, refusing to comment on theyears and would be considerable gamble to thrust into a Premier League title race.

Kjaer, however – no stranger to English transfer rumours in his career – has plied his trade in Seria A, Ligue 1 and the Bundesliga before arriving in Turkey. Still just 27, he could be an ideal alternative should the Mustafi deal run aground before the deadline.

Ampadu’s father Kwame currently works as a youth coach at Arsenal and would play a pivotal role in sealing the deal.

"The biggest compliment I can give him is that he plays like a 35-year-old,’ Exeter boss Paul Tisdale told BBC Radio Devon about the teenager, who is eligible to play for England, Ireland and Ghana.

Calciomercato

Reports over the weekend claimed that Arsenal had seen a £13.8m bid rejected by the Turin club for the Gabon international, but it seems that Watford have blown them out of the water with a £17.3m offer.

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Night practice 2 and 4 ticket availability

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The Buffalo Bills announced that tickets will be made available for the July 30th and August 6th night practices during the Verizon Wireless Training Camp at St. John Fisher College in Rochester beginning Friday, July 24th at 9:00 a.m. Tickets for all night practices are complimentary.

**Night Practice Date****Time****Availability Date****Price**Thursday, July 307:00-9:05 p.m.Friday, July 24ComplimentaryThursday, August 67:00-9:05 p.m.Friday, July 24Complimentary

Each ticket will be scanned at the entrance to the camp and no duplicate tickets will be allowed entry. Ticket orders for the night practices are limited to six (6) per person per practice. Tickets are available for the July 30th night practice by visiting any of the following Tops Friendly Markets locations:

**Address****City****Hours**710 Lake AvenueRochester, NYOpen 6 a.m. – midnight2345 Buffalo RoadRochester, NYOpen 24 hours6720 Pittsford/Palmyra RoadRochester, NYOpen 24 hours3201 Southwestern BoulevardOrchard Park, NYOpen 24 hours2101 Elmwood AvenueBuffalo, NYOpen 24 hours2351 Maple & TransitBuffalo, NYOpen 24 hours

The July 30th night practice will also feature a special Bills 50th Season celebration immediately after practice. The Bills players will model and unveil their new throwback jerseys, a special 50th Season video will be shown, Bills players will be introduced and speak to fans from a field stage, Rochester’s Empire Statesman Drum and Bugle Corps will play and a grand fireworks display will take place.

Tickets are available for the August 6th night practice by visiting either Bills Store locations:

Orchard Park, NY Open Mon.-Fri. 10 a.m. – 6 p.m.One Bills Drive Saturday 10 a.m. – 4 p.m.

Victor, NY Open Mon.-Sat. 10 a.m. – 9:30 p.m.7979 Pittsford-Victor Road Sunday 11 a.m. – 6:00 p.m.

A limited number of July 25 and 26 Opening Weekend training camp practice tickets remain available. Fans may visit the Rochester Verizon Wireless Store locations for the Opening Weekend tickets. A list of the Verizon Wireless Store locations is available on Buffalobills.com in the Training Camp section.

The July 28 and Au seeking tdespite interest from Arsenal.Arsenal are believed to be keen on the 13-times capped defender, who was viewed as a potential upgrade on both Nacho Monreal and Sead Kolasinac by Unai Emery. Speaking to InterDipendenza.net, Ricardo Schlieper said: “No shed fringe players before the summer market shuts.The news however may spell the end for unpopular centre-back Shkodran Mustafi, whose Emirates future remains uncertain amid speculation over a move to Roma. Kroenke told BBC Sport: “I wgust 4 training camp night practice tickets are sold out.

As a long standing partner of the Bills, M&T Bank will staff a booth and supply an ATM for fans attending training camp. Fans may obtain information on the many products and services offered by M&T, the official bank of the Bills. Fans who open a new checking account will receive a free Bills white panel football while supplies last. Bills giveaways and raffle sign-ups will also be available for anyone who visits the booth.

Ticket availability for the final three night practices on Tuesday, August 11, Thursday, August 13 and Monday, August 17 will be announced each Tuesday beginning July 28 and ending on August 4. Tickets will be made available on each Friday following the Tuesday announcement through various Bills partners including Ticketmaster, Tops Markets, Delaware North Companies (Bills Team Stores), Verizon Wireless and Anheuser-Busch.

In addition, all of the daytime practices that are open to the public do not require tickets. For a complete listing ofau Lopez is aware of interest from Barcelona.The former Tottenham keeper is seen at Barca as a replacement for the wantaway Jasper Cillessen.Lopez told Sport: “I’m happy at Betis. I signed for five years and I have four left. I improved a lot and I f the training camp practice schedule and more information please visit the Buffalo Bills Verizon Wireless Training Camp page at .

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College bowl confidence pool odds 2019: Picks, best predictions from top-rated expert on 96-69 roll

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With the start of bowl season quickly approaching, fans everywhere are locking in college football bowl confidence picks. The college football bowl schedule begins in earnest on Friday with the Frisco Bowl and Bahamas Bowl and continues on Saturday with an action-packed six-game slate. With tight college football spreads in the coming weeks like vs. (-2) in the Hawaii Bowl and vs. (-2.5) in the Belk Bowl, which confidence picks can you bank on?

Is relying on large college football lines like vs. (+7) in the Citrus Bowl a winning bowl confidence pool strategy? To get a leg-up on your competition during bowl season,  from SportsLine’s Emory Hunt.

Hunt is enjoying an incomparable 2019 season: He’s 96-69, returning a whopping $3,188 to $100 bettors. A former college football running back, Hunt rafford yesterday to see Manchester United’s victory over Norwich Citike an early deal with Feyenoord for midfielder Orkun Kokcu.The Gunners are keen on the 19 year-old, reports Fanatik, but face competition from Barcelona.As such, Arsenal chiefs wish to reach terms with Feyenoord for Kokcu before the end of the seasoy.The ’99 Treble hero is currently coaching at FK Eik Tønsberg and is in the frame for the Valerenge job in Norway.Indeed, Valerenga advisor Christian Eidem would love to see Johnsfounded Football Gameplan in 2007 and has been producing high-level analysis ever since. Now, his expertise is paying off big-time for SportsLine members. Anyone who has followed him is way, way up. 

So before filling out your college football pool picks, you need to see Hunt’s . He’s using a season’s worth of data gathered from game film, analytics and his strong feel for the game as a former player. He has analyzed each bowl matchup and ordered every game by level of confidence. He’s only sharing his final picks over at SportsLine. 

One pick we’ll give away: Hunt says No. 20 (-16.5) defeats in the 2019 New Orleans Bowl, assigning a whopping 39 confidence points to that selection, his most confident pick. “The most complete team in the Group of Five plays in Boone,” Hunt told SportsLine. The 12-1 Mountaineers repeated as Sun Belt Conference champions after downing Louisiana-Lafayette 45-38, and lost only to this season. 

Along the way, Appalachian State knocked off Power Five teams and . While coach Eliah Drinkwitz is moving on to coach at , the Mountaineers will retain continuity after offensive line coach Shawn Clark was promoted to the head coaching job. Quarterback passed for 2,57ent as manager expected in 48 hours.The Blues will pay Derby County around £4m to buy out the remaining two years of Lampard’s contract with the Pride Park club, according to Goal.Lampard, 41, spent 13 years at Chelsea as a player, winning three Pre6 yards and 26 touchdowns, and running back rushed for 1,323 yards and 17 TDs. UAB’s offense scored a relatively paltry 23.6 points per game and the 9-4 Blazers lost their regular-season finale 49-6 to .

Hunt also is assigning a huge confidence ranking of 30 to a small-conference underdog playing one of the big boys. This sneaky team is an underdog of more than a touchdown, even though it’s facing a favorite that’s in disarray on both sides of the ball. 

Hunt is highly confident in the winner, but many people in your pool may be skeptical. Picks like these could be the difference between winning your 2019 bowl confidence pool and going home empty-handed. 

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San Diego State vs. Fresno State odds: 2019 college football picks, best predictions from expert who’s 5-0

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The can take control of their division in the Mountain West Conference on Friday night when they battle the . The Bulldogs (4-5, 2-3 in Mountain West) sit in fourth place in the West behind San Diego State (7-2, 4-2), and (both 6-4, 3-3), but Fresno State already has beaten Hawaii and plays Nevada next week. The Bulldogs remain in control of their own destiny. Meanwhile, the Aztecs can inch closer to the division title with a win over Fresno. They are 1-8 against the spread in their last nine home games, and kickoff is at 9:30 p.m. ET. The Aztecs are favored by one in the latest San Diego State vs. Fresno State odds, while the over-under for total points scored is 42.5, down two from the opener. Before making any Fresno State vs. San Diego State picks of your own, you need to see who SportsLine’s Mike Tierney is picking.

No one knows football like Tierney. The veteran sportswriter, whose work has appeared in The New York Times and Los Angeles Times, has covered of all levels for decades. And that expertise has been evident since he joined SportsLine in 2017. Since the start of the 2017 season, he has gone 136-114 with his against the spread picks in college football. Last season was his best, going 59-46. 

In addition, he is a perfen of the influence of former Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger.After a disastrous spell at Monaco in which he was sacked in under three months Henry is now in charge of MLS side Montral Impact.Speaking to the Daily Mail, Henry explained that Wenger helpect 5-0 with his last five against the spread involving Fresno State. Anyone who has followed him is way up. Now, he has analyzed San Diego State vs. Fresno State from every possible angle and locked in another confident against the spread pick. . 

Tierney knows that San Diego State has a playmaker in the secondary in . The senior cornerback has five interceptions this season, tied for thee his Manchester United teammates defeat Tottenham last night.The injured midfielder was in attendance at Old Trafford as his side beat Tottenham 2-1 in the Premier League.Marcus Rashford was the matchwinner for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side, scoring b second-most in the FBS. He also is tied for second in passes defended per game (1.88). By virtue of his play, he has been named one of 10 semifinalists for the Jim Thorpe Award, which goes to the best defensive back in college football. 

In addition, Tierney has factored in that San Diego State has been excellent on defense this year. Through nine games, the Aztecs have held every opponent below its season point and total offense averages. They rank eighth in the country in both scoring defense (14.4 points per game) and total defense (277.1 yards per game).

But just because the Aztecs may have the edge on paper does not guarantee they will cover the San Diego Stxis Claude-Maurice from Lorient.The Geordies join Arsenal, West Ham and Sevilla in the hunt for the Ligue 2 man, says the Arsenal-Alexis-Claude-Maurice-Lorient” target=”_blank”>Daily Star.Claude-Maurice scored 14 goals in 16 Ligue 2 appearances last ate vs. Fresno State spread on Friday.

The Bulldogs have scored at least 30 points in four straight games. Only seven other teams in the country have a longer streak of scoring 30 points than Fresno State. Much of the success can be attributed to an improved rushing attack, as over the last four games, the Bulldogs have averaged 223.5 rushing yards per game (6.3 per carry) and scored 18 touchdowns.

In addition, Fresno State has enjoyed recent success against the Aztecs. The Bulldogs have won the last two meetings between the teams by a combined score of 50-17. The last time these teams met in San Diego, in 2017, Fresno State whipped the Aztecs, 27-3. 

We can tell you Tierney is leaning over, but his much stronger play is on the spread. He’s found a critical x-factor that makes one side of the spread hit hard on Friday. He’s sharing what it is, and who to back, only at SportsLine. 

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Notre Dame vs. USC odds, line: 2019 College football picks, predictions from simulation on 68-42 run

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The Fighting Irish are looking to to keep rolling at home and stay in the hunt for a spot in the College Football Playoff when No. 9 hosts its longtime rival, the Southern Cal Trojans on Saturday. The Irish have won 14 consecutive games on their turf and have beaten the Trojans in their past two meetings. Quarterback and a potent running game give the big-play defense more than enough points to work with. The Trojans have combined some big wins with confounding losses and fell to No. 17 before a bye week. Kickoff from Notre Dame Stadium is set for 7:30 p.m. ET. The Fighting Irish are 10.5-point favorites in the latest Notre Dame vs. odds, while the over-under for total points scored is 58.5. Before making your Notre Dame vs. USC picks, be sure to check out the predictions from the SportsLine Projection Model.

The SportsLine Projection Model simulates every FBS college football game 10,000 times, and those who have followed it have seen huge returns. Over the past four-plus years, the proprietary computer model has generated an eye-popping profit of over $4,300 for $100 plnager Maurizio Sarri’s system for his problems with fans this season.His performances have made him a target for criticism from Chelsea supporters, but he explains that Sarri’s decision to change the nature of his role during the course of the campaiayers on its top-rated college football against the spread picks.  

The model enters Week 7 of the 2019 season on a strong run, going 68-42 on its top-rated college football picks. It also called (-27.5) covering against and (+21) staying well within the spread against last week. Anybody who has been following it is way up.

Now, it has analyzed Notre Dame vs. USC from every angle. We can tell you it’s leaning under, but it also says one side of the spread cashes in well over 60 percent of simulations. That one is only available at SportsLine. ster United are prepared to pay massive money on two new centre-halves.ESPN says United are targeting Harry Maguire and Kalidou Koulibaly after being snubbed by Ajax defender Matthijs de Ligt.De Ligt was given the chance to join Manchester United but

The model has considered that the Irish are coming off the set to receive a cash windfall from Danny Ings’ switch from Liverpool to Southampton.The striker has joined Saints on a permanent deal after a successful loan spell last season.The move is reportedly worth £18 million fee rising to £20 million.Their first shutout since 2014 after routing 52-0 last week. They have forced 14 turnovers in five games, recovering eight fumbles and intercepting six passes, two each from safeties and . The freshman Hamilton returned one of his 34 yards for a touchdown in his first game at Notre Dame Stadium. The defensive ends also have been getting after quarterbacks, with posting three of the team’s 14 sacks and adding two. The home team is 6-0 against the spread  in the last six meetings, and the Irish are 4-0 ATS in their past four non-conference games.

Book threw a career-high five touchdown passes in a little more than two quarters last week, and he has 1,254 yards and 13 touchdowns this season. . had his third 100-yard game last week to run his total to 381. The Irish also expect original starting running back to contribute Saturday after dealing with a groin injury. He ran for 383 yards and seven touchdowns despite missing three games last season. Notre Dame is perfect in the red zone this season, going 20-for-20 with 17 touchdowns.

But just because Notre Dame gets the job done on both sides of the ball doesn’t mean the Irish will cover the Notre Dame vs. USC spread on Saturday.

That’s because the Trojans will start freshman Kedon Slovis at quarterback after he missed time with a concussion. He has completed 77.9 percent of his throws and has 732 yards and five touchdowns in four games. He was named the Pac-12 Offensive Player of the Week after throwing for 377 yards and three touchdowns in a 45-20 win against then-No. 23 . He will be bolstered by receivers Michael Pittman Jr. (31-501), and  (31-414).

Southern Cal has a young defense, but it has largely been effective, limiting teams to 411 yards and 24.8 points per game. It is strong up front, with John (45 tackles) and (41) anchoring the linebacking corps. and anchor the middle of the line, and has three sacks coming off the end.

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Inside College Football: Could Virginia Tech upset Ohio State … again?

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Urban Meyer sat in his office last spring still not able to get the Virginia Tech game out of his mind.

The only blemish on the Buckeyes’ season came in a Week 2 clunker at home against the Hokies. It’s the way that loss unfolded that stuck with Meyer.

“Bear Zero,” he said, describing the Hokies’ defensive scheme that day. “You can’t run against it. Now we practice it every third practice.”

You can’t do a lot of things against The Bear. The defense, which is also known as the 46, was made famous by Buddy Ryan during the Bears’ 1985 run. The idea is to stack the box, load up the defensive line and confuse the quarterback.

The perfect storm that day formed over Ohio Stadium. Ohio State’s offensive line was still jelling. J.T. Barrett was making his second start at quarterback. Virginia Tech defensive coordinator Bud Foster was determined to keep the Buckeyes frping Wilfried Zaha in Sunday’s 1-0 win over Crystal Palace.Wilder was asked aboutZaha’s complaints that he had been singled-out for special treatment by some of his team.”It’s still a contact sport,” Wilder said.”Players are still allowed to make conom their double-team blocks on run plays. In the process, he put his corners on an island — man-to-man.

The risk-reward approach worked. Ohio State was held to a season-low 108 rushing yards. Barrett threw three interceptions. The Bear was used on 54 of 74 snaps.

“Bud was the only one who was really successful against what they did last year,” said Mike Kuchar, founder and senior research manager of X&O Labs, a football analytics company.

“Inexperienced quarterback. The timing was right for it. You can’t doubt Bud Foster. He always seems to find a way.”

Kuchar’s inside look at The Bear is reason enough to put Ohio State-Virginia Tech at the front of the line of most likely upsets in Week 1. Not saying it will absolutely happen, but the stars are aligning.

Ohio State is missing four suspended starters. Receiver Noah Brown is out of the season. Going to Lane Stadium at night in the season opener cannot be underestimated.

Foster, entering his 29th season, is ready. Kuchar is a friend. His website provides in-depth subscription-based information to coaches. He was invited by Foster to Virginia Tech this year to . His detailed breakdown resulting from that visit might as well be a warning for the Buckeyes on Labor Day night.

“It was one of the more in-depth things I’ve done,” said Kuchar, a 14-year coaching veteran. “I know it’s over the head of a lot of football watchers, but I wanted to make sure we provided our coaches with the best content.”

Why, then, wouldn’t Foster use the same scheme next week? Sure, the Bucks are stronger, more experienced. They’ve got game film on the Hokies, too. But you would have to figure Foster keep running some form of the Bear until the Bucks figure it out.

“I can’t speak for [Foster], but it would make sense as a coach,” Kuchar said. “His players understand the system. Bud’s a 46 defense kind of guy.”

Jim Harbaugh’s return to college is overshadowing the actual game. Has anyone considered the Wolverines might actually win? The Wolverines are a 5½-point underdog playing at altitude on opening night. Utah has a 1,500-yard rusher in Devontae Booker, but questions surround quarterback Travis Wilson. Veteran Jake Rudock, an Iowa transfer, might have the upper hand here.

Playing Jerry Kill is like gargling with glass. It’s tough, annoying and painful. Monster tailback David Cobb is gone, but the Gophers will establish a rushing game — or die trying. Minnesota won at Michigan, at Nebraska and played Ohio State off its feet last season. Kill will drag the more-talented Frogs into a street fight. Definitely take the 14-and-a-half.

The bet here is that Bobby Petrino has got something for the Tigers. There’s a lingering quarterback battle between three guys at Louisville, plus a controversial linebacker. Transfer Devonte Fields — former Big 12 defensive player of the year — will have to be accounted for. Ps tough first months at Anfield.Fabinho admits he found it difficult at times.”Overall I think my first season at Liverpool was good,” he said.”In my first season I knew there would be a learning and settling-in period. I went through this.”It didn’tetrino is 10-0 in his openers with an average winning margin of 23 points. So there’s that.

There are conflicted emotions in Huskerland. Fans are excited over the Mike Riley debut. They’re nervous about a more-than-capable BYU. Cougars quarterback Taysom Hill is missing tailback Jamaal Williams, who is sitting out 2015 due to a rules violation. after a season-ending injury. Nebraska is missing lethal returner De’Mornay Pierson-El. The Huskers have lost one nonconference September home game since 2008. They are a 6- to 8-point favorite in this one. It could go either way.

What to make of Jake Coker as he enters his final season? The one-time blue-chipper is in danger of not only losing his third quarterback battle, but getting scant duty as a backup. Entering 2015, Coker has thrown 100 career passes at two schools (five career touchdowns). He was beaten out by the emerging Jameis Winston at Florida State. Imported to Alabama essentially to take over for A.J. McCarron, he was beaten out last season by fifth-year senior Blake Sims.

On Monday, Nick Saban ahead of the Wisconsin game that had Coker on the same line with redshirt sophomore Cooper Bateman and redshirt sophomore Alec Morris. That’s not exactly a ringing endorsement for Coker. His entire story is in one sense a cautionary recruiting tale, but also a mystery.

It’s one thing to be beaten out by a future Heisman Trophy winner. But if Coker doesn’t win the job this season — Saban has hinted he’ll play two quarterbacks — Coker will have been beaten out by a former tailback (Sims) and a group of contenders who have yet to throw a pass in game action.

On the other end of the Coker spectrum? Cal’s Jared Goff. The junior goes into the season  as the best underclassman quarterback prospect in the draft. One issue: Goff has played only two seasons with six wins in 24 career starts. While such projections aren’t rare — Marcus Mariota had similar hype after two seasons — Goff is different. He hasn’t sniffed a bowl game.

“I want to leave a legacy of winning at Cal,” Goff said. “We have to win; I have to win.”

Goff’s 7,481 yards are the most ever by a Pac-12 quarterback through his first two seasons. While Goff woul unaffected by title pressure.The Reds are still unbeaten domestically this season.”The pressure gets bigger, but that comes from the media. They love to put more pressure on us and that’s something we have to deal with,” Van Dijk told Sky Sports. “Id love to win, it is imperative for coach Sonny Dykes entering his third season at 6-18. The Bears open against Grambling. “I think Jared is one of the best quarterbacks in ,” Dykes said. “But just because some guy throws his name out there doesn’t mean anything right now.”

Just so we’re all clear: The ACC will miss the College Football Playoff this season. Florida State has the strongest squad now with the return of Dalvin Cook. Yes, it has to travel to Clemson, but I’ll go with FSU and its three consecutive ACC titles. Still, whoever wins the league will most likely lost at least twice. Let’s say every other Power Five champion loses twice. Who would you leave out? Thought so.

One SEC coach took an interest Jim Harbaugh’s self-described “submarine mode” this month. (Michigan went into a virtual media blackout for three weeks, living in a dorm under spartan conditions during August drills.) “You’d get crushed [in the SEC],” the coach said. “The SEC Network wouldn’t allow it.”

Just for grins, Auburn will debut its new video board by inviting fans in Thursday night to watch the North Carolina-South Carolina game. The $14 million, 11,000-square foot Daktronics monstrosity is being billed as the largest in college football. Take that, Texas A&M.

Not going to predict a winless season for Vanderbilt, but the prospects are dim when Western Kentucky is a two-point favorite in Nashville. Pay attention to the Hilltoppers’ Brandon Doughty. The nation’s returning leader in passing yards could go for 5,000 yards and 50 touchdowns this season.

Texas A&M plays nine games within the state of Texas but no in-state opponents for the first time ever.

Season opener that is either a shameless promo or vacation travel itinerary: Colorado-Hawaii. Watch it on CBS Sports Network, Friday at 1 a.m. ET!

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Report: Manziel gets boost from ‘Johnny Football’ trademark ruling

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Johnny Manziel won a battle in his effort to trademark the nickname ‘Johnny Football,’ as the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office reportedly refused to register the same trademark with a College Station investment firm.

ESPN to Kenneth R. Reynolds Family Investments rejecting its argument that the phrase ‘Johnny Football’ did not refer to any particular individual. 

“Registration is refused because the applied-for mark consists of or includes a name, portrait, or signature identifying a particular living individual whose written consent to register the mark is not of record,”  — in other words, that yes, “Johnny Football” does refer to a “particular living individual,” and that that individual ve for Chelsea striker Olivier Giroud.The World Cup winner has been linked with a loan switch to Ibrox in January.But Gerrard says: “We are getting linked with some good playThe agent of has revealed how manager Frank Lampard inspired them to victory at Tottenham on Sunday.It was not just the tactics the 41-year-old got spot on, it was his chest-pumping words before kick-off that got the Stamford Bridge side firing on all cylinders.Fiorentina midfielder Jordan Veretout admits he wants to join Napoli.The former Aston Villa star is being linked with the Azzurri this summer.“I won’t rule out the possibility of Napoli signing Veretout, even if they keep Allan,” agent Mario Giuffredi told Radio Marte.“Napoli are going to build a very strong side and have changed their strategy, focusing on players who already know Serie A and are ready to deliver straight away.“I wouldn’t rule Veretout out of their midfield. There are several clubs interested in Veretout, but the lad is in love with Napoli. If I can make something happen for my hometown club, I’m more than happy to do so.”ers. I don’t know anything about it, to be honest.“If someone knows somehasn’t “consented” to giving the firm the trademark.

On the contrary, , though its filing came some weeks after the Kenneth R. Reynolds Family Investments claim in late 2012.

The firm, ESPN reports, can appeal this week’s ruling.

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PHOTO: Oregon gets Fiesta Bowl championship rings

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The couldn’t fulfill their aspirations of winning either the national championship or the Pac-12 title in 2012 (or, thanks to Stanford, even the Pac-12 North), but that didn’t stop them from qualifying for their e Coronavirus pandemic grips the UK, that’s now on hold with the Premier League suspendedfter their victory over friendly opponents Real Sociedad.Trailing to a Mikel Oyarzabal penalty at half-time after a disjointed and sluggish performance in the opening 45 minutes, the hosts improved after the break and were rewarded with two Andre Gra until April 3 at the earliest.If and when Liverpool get their hands on the trophy Van Dijk will enjoy not hearing title taunts hurled his way.“I have been awafourth BCS bowl in four tries under Chip Kelly.

And, to commemorate the Fiesta Bowl championship that they won over Kansas State, Oregon has apparently awarded their players accompanying Fiesta Bowl championship rings. From of rising redshirt sophomore wideout :

That’s a shiny, shiny standard you’ve got to live up to, Mared details of a new multi-year partnership with Norfolk performance car brand Lotus, reports www.fcbusiness.co.ukThe collaboration sees the state-of-the-art training facility at Colney renamed The Lotus Training Centre, and the all-new Academy buildik Helfrich.