EPL Talk Archives for January 2018

Sanchez Man Utd transfer ‘hinges on Mkhitaryan deal’, says agent

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London (AFP) – Manchester United’s bid to sign Alexis Sanchez from Arsenal hinges on Henrikh Mkhitaryan moving the other way, the Armenian player’s agent said Tuesday as Antonio Conte distanced Chelsea from a potential deal.

Chile international Sanchez, who appears to have played his last game for Arsenal, had been strongly linked with a move to either Manchester United or Manchester City and Chelsea boss Antonio Conte has also spoken of his admiration for the player.

Mourinho ‘relaxed’ about Sanchez joining United

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Manchester (United Kingdom) (AFP) – Manchester United boss Jose Mourinho remains relaxed about his chances of signing Arsenal forward Alexis Sanchez despite reported late interest from Chelsea.

The United manager was speaking at the end of a Monday of high drama in the pursuit of the Chilean, who looks likely to leave the Emirates in the January transfer window ahead of his contract expiring at the end of the current campaign.

Porto, Estoril clash halted over stand safety fears

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Lisbon (AFP) – A Portuguese league match between FC Porto and Estoril was halted at half-time and fans were evacuated onto the pitch after cracks appeared in a stand on Monday night.

Estoril was leading 1-0 at half-time when security officials ordered spectators off one of the stands at the Antonio Coimbra da Mota stadium.

Football: Sanchez would be ‘great’ for United – Mourinho

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London (AFP) – Jose Mourinho said Monday it would be “great” if Arsenal’s Alexis Sanchez became a Manchester United player as Manchester City’s interest in the Chilean reportedly came to an end.

Sanchez, 29, looks to have played his last game for Arsenal, with manager Arsene Wenger saying on Sunday that his move could be confirmed “in the next 48 hours”.

Sanchez would be ‘great’ for United – Mourinho

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London (AFP) – Jose Mourinho said Monday it would be “great” if Arsenal’s Alexis Sanchez became a Manchester United player as Manchester City’s interest in the Chilean reportedly came to an end.

Sanchez, 29, looks to have played his last game for Arsenal, with manager Arsene Wenger saying on Sunday that his move could be confirmed “in the next 48 hours”.

Manchester United put Sanchez saga aside to see off Stoke

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Manchester (United Kingdom) (AFP) – Manchester United took time off from their pursuit of Arsenal forward Alexis Sanchez to coast to a comfortable 3-0 victory against Stoke at Old Trafford on Monday.

Antonio Valencia and Anthony Martial in the first half, and Romelu Lukaku after the break, were on the scoresheet as Jose Mourinho finally beat struggling Stoke as United manager at the fourth time of asking.

Mahrez worth over £100m to Leicester – Puel

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London (AFP) – Algeria winger Riyad Mahrez could be worth even more than £100 million (112 million euros) if he leaves Leicester City at the end of the season, Foxes manager Claude Puel said on Monday.

“It is speculation and we cannot respond to all the speculation with information,” Puel told a press conference.

Manchester United eye Sanchez as City interest wanes

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London (AFP) – Manchester United appeared to be closing in on Arsenal forward Alexis Sanchez on Monday as long-time suitors and local rivals Manchester City reportedly ended their attempts to sign the Chile star.

Sanchez, 29, looks to have played his last game for Arsenal, with manager Arsene Wenger saying on Sunday that his move could be confirmed “in the next 48 hours”.

Football: Man United eye Sanchez as City interest wanes

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London (AFP) – Manchester United appeared to be closing in on Arsenal forward Alexis Sanchez on Monday as long-time suitors and local rivals Manchester City reportedly ended their attempts to sign the Chile star.

If the transfer goes ahead it would be the third blockbuster move of the January transfer window involving Premier League clubs following Philippe Coutinho’s big-money move from Liverpool to Barcelona and Virgil van Dijk’s arrival at Anfield from Southampton.

Pele backs Brazil to win sixth World Cup

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Rio de Janeiro (AFP) – Footballing legend Pele said on Monday that Brazil are favourites to win the World Cup in Russia, four years on from their humiliation on home soil.

Five-time winners Brazil were thrashed 7-1 in the 2014 semi-finals by eventual champions Germany at the Maracana, but Pele, considered one of the best players of all time, insisted that new coach Tite has formed a team ready to put his country’s painful memories to rest.

Ntep set to join St Etienne on loan from Wolfsburg

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Saint-Étienne (France) (AFP) – French international winger Paul-Georges Ntep is set to join Saint-Etienne on loan from German side Wolfsburg, a spokesman for the Ligue 1 outfit said on Monday.

The 25-year-old, who made two international appearances in 2015, is due in the French city later on Monday for a medical ahead of his loan deal, which will not include an option to buy.

Arsenal target Malcom mulling Bordeaux exit

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Bordeaux (AFP) – Bordeaux star Malcom is “thinking over” a potential move to Arsenal amid interest from the Premier League club, the French side’s coach Jocelyn Gourvennec admitted on Monday.

According to Brazilian media, the chances of the 20-year-old moving to London are good, and would bring the Ligue 1 club around 50 million euros ($61.

Ref, technology controversies cast shadow over Ligue 1

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Paris (AFP) – France’s Ligue 1 launches into a midweek round of games after a weekend marred by referee Tony Chapron’s bizarre kick at a Nantes player and goal-line technology glitches.

Chapron has been suspended by the French Football Federation “until further notice” after kicking the Nantes defender Diego Carlos and then sending him off towards the end of their 1-0 defeat to league leaders Paris Saint-Germain on Sunday.

Brighton back Bong over Rodriguez racism complaint

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London (AFP) – Brighton pledged their “full support” for defender Gaetan Bong who said he was racially abused by Jay Rodriguez during Saturday’s 2-0 Premier League loss to West Brom.

Television footage of the second-half incident showed the pair arguing and colliding with each other.

Man Utd great Giggs named Wales boss

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Cardiff (United Kingdom) (AFP) – Former Manchester United great Ryan Giggs said Monday he was “itching” to get back into football after being unveiled as the new Wales boss - his first permanent managerial post.

Giggs, who replaces Chris Coleman, revealed he had sought advice from his former United manager Alex Ferguson over the job.

Man United tipped to beat City to Sanchez signing

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London (AFP) – Manchester United appeared to be closing in on Arsenal forward Alexis Sanchez on Monday, leading the chase to sign the Chile international ahead of long-time suitors and local rivals Manchester City.

If the transfer goes ahead it r move of the January transfer window invwould be the second blockbuster move of the January transfer window involving Premier League clubs following Philippe Coutinho’s big-money move from Liverpool to Barcelona.

Barcelona’s Dembele suffers new injury setback

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Barcelona (AFP) – Barcelona’s Ousmane Dembele has been ruled out for “three to four weeks” in a new blow for the French forward, his club announced on Monday.

Dembele hurt himself after coming off the bench in the second half of Sunday’s 4-2 win away to Real Sociedad in La Liga.

We fear Sterling more than Kane, says Tunisia coach

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Doha (AFP) – Tunisia’s national coach said Monday he will fear England’s Raheem Sterling more than Harry Kane, when the two countries play against each other in the World Cup finals this year.

Nabil Maaloul was speaking in Doha, where the Tunisian national team are preparing for Russia with a 14-day winter training camp at the Aspire Zone.

France suspends referee who kicked player

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Paris (AFP) – The referee who kicked a player during a French Ligue 1 game and then sent him off has been suspended “until further notice”, the French Football Federation (FFF) said on Monday.

Tony Chapron kicked Diego Carlos of Nantes towards the end of Sunday’s match against Paris Saint-Germain after being knocked over when the pair collided in a bizarre incident.

Decision on Sanchez in 48 hours says Wenger

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Bournemouth (United Kingdom) (AFP) – Arsene Wenger confirmed he expects Alexis Sanchez’s future to be resolved imminently after the Arsenal forward was left out of his side’s 2-1 defeat at Bournemouth.

Sanchez, who becomes free agent at the end of this season, is a target for Manchester United and Manchester City who came close to signing the Chile international on the final day of the last transfer window.

Shanghai Shenhua snare Real Madrid doctor, German coach

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Shanghai (AFP) – Chinese FA Cup winners Shanghai Shenhua shrugged off their disappointment over Carlos Tevez’s disappointing stint to pluck a doctor from Real Madrid and a German assistant coach formerly with Bayern Munich.

Argentine striker Tevez quit Shenhua earlier this month for a return to Boca Juniors following a turbulent year, but the Chinese side appear keen to keep adding to their foreign contingent.

‘Jokers!’ Referees under fire in India’s ISL

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New Delhi (AFP) – A push by the Indian Super League to develop home-grown referees has got off to an uneasy start, with a string of angry exchanges triggering sanctions against nearly half of the league’s coaches.

Over six weeks, four of the ISL’s 10 coaches have been punished for their treatment of referees, forcing the Indian federation to rush to the officials’ defence.

Football: Giggs set to be named as Wales boss

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London (AFP) – Manchester United great Ryan Giggs is set to be named Wales boss on Monday - his first permanent job as a manager.

The Football Association of Wales (FAW) said it would announce the identity of Chris Coleman’s replacement on Twitter ahead of a 1400 GMT press conference.

United open to January transfers amid Sanchez rumours

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London (AFP) – Jose Mourinho says Manchester United are prepared to do business in the January transfer window should a “fantastic opportunity” arise as speculation intensifies that Alexis Sanchez is on his way to Old Trafford.

Two weeks ago Mourinho thought it was unlikely there would be any arrivals at this month but Sanchez’s apparent availability may have changed all that.

Nasri risks ban over vitamin booster

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Lausanne (AFP) – Former Manchester City midfielder Samir Nasri faces a possible suspension after losing an appeal for UEFA to grant him a therapeutic use exemption (TUE) for a vitamin booster.

Nasri, who plays for Antalyaspor in Turkey, took his case to the Court of Arbitration for Sport after UEFA refused his request for a TUE following a multi-vitamin intravenous booster he received at a Los Angeles clinic in 2016.

Football: Guardiola urges City to learn from Anfield pain

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Liverpool (AFP) – Pep Guardiola has challenged his Manchester City stars to use their dramatic 4-3 defeat at Liverpool as a warning to guard against complacency.

Guardiola’s side saw their 30-match unbeaten run in the Premier League come to a stunning end at Anfield on Sunday.

The leaders fell behind to Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain’s early opener and although Leroy Sane equalised before half-time, City were blown away by three goals in nine second half minutes from Roberto Firmino, Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah.

Referee kicks Nantes player as PSG edge to victory

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Paris (AFP) – Angel Di Maria scored the only goal as Paris Saint-Germain claimed a controversial 1-0 Ligue 1 win at Nantes on Sunday that was marred by a bizarre late sending off.

There was drama in added time as Nantes centre-back Diego Carlos was sent off by Tony Chapron for appearing to accidentally trip up the referee, with the official responding by kicking out at the Brazilian and brandishing a second yellow card.

Mourinho keen to tie up long-term De Gea deal

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Manchester (United Kingdom) (AFP) – Jose Mourinho has indicated that Manchester United will do all they can to extend David de Gea’s contract.

The Spain goalkeeper, who almost joined Real Madrid in 2015 and continues to be linked with a move there, has a contract that expires in June 2019, although United have the option to extend it for a further year.

Manchester City lose, Sanchez off? Premier League talking points

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London (AFP) – Manchester City saw their long unbeaten run in the Premier League brought to a shuddering halt at the weekend as Liverpool shrugged off the departure of Philippe Coutinho to claim a dramatic 4-3 victory.

A disjointed Arsenal slipped to a 2-1 defeat at struggling Bournemouth, with Arsene Wenger’s misery compounded by the near-certain departure of Alexis Sanchez.

Bizarre red card overshadows PSG win at Nantes

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Paris (AFP) – Angel Di Maria scored the only goal as Paris Saint-Germain claimed a controversial 1-0 Ligue 1 win at Nantes on Sunday that was marred by a bizarre late sending off.

Di Maria poked in a 12th-minute opener for the visitors, before producing a glaring miss later in the first half.

Suarez fires Barcelona nine clear in Sociedad fightback

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Madrid (AFP) – Luis Suarez stole the show with a brace and an assist as Barcelona fought back from two goals down to win 4-2 at Real Sociedad on Sunday and restore their nine-point lead at the top of La Liga.

Suarez struck in the 50th and 71st minutes, his first a delightful chip from the edge of the area, after laying on Paulinho six minutes before the break to start the fightback from first-half goals from Sociedad’s Willian Jose and Juanmi.

Five Bundesliga things you may have missed

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Berlin (AFP) – Bayern Munich are on course for a sixth straight German league title after finishing the weekend 13 points clear thanks to Friday’s 3-1 win at Bayer Leverkusen.

Second-placed RB Leipzig have told Liverpool Naby Keita will not join them before next season after the midfielder scored a superb goal in the 3-1 win over Schalke amidst rumours the Reds want him in this transfer window.

Dortmund draw a blank without dropped Aubameyang

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Berlin (AFP) – Borussia Dortmund missed the chance to go second in the Bundesliga on Sunday after a 0-0 home draw with Wolfsburg without the dropped Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.

Before kick-off, Dortmund coach Peter Stoeger revealed he took a dim view of Aubameyang missing a team meeting on Saturday and threw the top-scorer out of the squad.

Rampant Reds end Manchester City’s unbeaten record in seven-goal thriller

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Liverpool (AFP) – Liverpool handed Manchester City their first Premier League defeat this season as the rampant Reds won 4-3 against the shell-shocked leaders to show they can thrive without Philippe Coutinho.

City swaggered into Anfield unbeaten in the top flight in 30 matches and widely heralded as champions-elect amid talk that they could go throughout the entire league campaign without losing.

Lyon held at home by 10-man Angers

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Paris (AFP) – Lyon failed to take second spot in Ligue 1 after being held to a 1-1 home draw by Angers on Sunday, despite a goal from Nabil Fekir.

Monaco’s goalless draw at Montpellier on Sunday handed Lyon the chance to leapfrog the principality club.

Karl Toko Ekambi gave the lowly visitors a shock 14-minute lead from the penalty spot, but the in-form Fekir dragged the hosts level shortly after half-time with his 14th league goal of the season.

Dortmund drop Aubameyang again for discipline breach

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Berlin (AFP) – Borussia Dortmund dropped star striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang on Sunday for failing to attend a team meeting - the third time he has been disciplined by the club in two seasons.

The 28-year-old Gabon forward, who has hit 13 goals in 15 league games this season, was left out of the squad for Sunday’s Bundesliga match at home to Wolfsburg, the club said on their Twitter account, for “disciplinary reasons”.

Jurgen Klopp biography ‘Bring the Noise’ reflects on manic brilliance of Liverpool manager

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The career of a successful manager is filled with disappointments, failures, and firings. For every Sir Alex Ferguson, who always seemed to succeed, there is an Antonio Conte, who undoubtedly has a sterling resume but seemingly is about to walk away from a second managerial job in his career rather than be sacked.

Spain striker Aspas accused of racist abuse

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Madrid (AFP) – Celta Vigo and Spain forward Iago Aspas has been accused of racially abusing Levante’s Colombian midfielder Jefferson Lerma during the clubs’ meeting in La Liga on Sunday.

“In front of the cameras I want to make a complaint, I don’t think these acts of racism should happen, I think Aspas called me a ‘black shit’ and that cannot happen,” Lerma told beIN Sports after Sunday’s game, which Celta won 1-0.

Rock-bottom Cologne shock Gladbach

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Berlin (AFP) – Cologne breathed life into their faint survival hopes when new signing Simon Terodde hit a 95th-minute winner as the Bundesliga’s bottom club shocked Borussia Moenchengladbach 2-1 on Sunday.

Hosts Cologne remain eight points from safety even after Terrode, who was making his club debut after signing from Stuttgart in December, reacted quickest in the box by firing home a loose ball with time almost up.

Sevilla let Real off hook with Alaves defeat

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Madrid (AFP) – Sevilla missed the chance to draw level on points with crisis club Real Madrid in the race for Champions League qualification after going down 1-0 at lowly Alaves in la Liga on Sunday.

Manu Garcia’s 52nd minute strike pulled Alaves out of the relegation zone and left Sevilla sixth on 29 points, three behind fourth-placed Real.

Sanchez missing as Arsenal lose at Bournemouth

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Bournemouth (United Kingdom) (AFP) – Arsene Wenger’s miserable start to the new year took a turn for the worse as his Arsenal side - missing wantaway forward Alexis Sanchez - lost 2-1 at struggling Bournemouth in a game he admitted they “had to win”.

Hector Bellerin put Arsenal ahead shortly after half-time but Eddie Howe’s side mounted an impressive comeback, scoring twice in five minutes through Callum Wilson and Jordon Ibe.

Sanchez missing as Arsenal slip to defeat at Bournemouth

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Bournemouth (United Kingdom) (AFP) – Arsene Wenger’s difficult start to the new year took a turn for the worse as his Arsenal side - missing Alexis Sanchez - lost 2-1 at struggling Bournemouth.

Hector Bellerin put Arsenal ahead shortly after half-time but Eddie Howe’s side mounted an impressive comeback, scoring twice in five minutes through Callum Wilson and Jordon Ibe.

Zidane and Real Madrid under fire after ‘inexplicable’ defeat

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Madrid (AFP) – The Spanish press did not hold back in their criticism of a “shattered” Real Madrid, a team “in crisis” after their 1-0 home defeat at the hands of Villarreal in La Liga.

“Inexplicable” was the front-page headline on Madrid sports daily Marca on Sunday, which remarked that the reigning Spanish and European champions “don’t know what is happening to them” in La Liga.

Liverpool must wait for Keita, say Leipzig

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Berlin (AFP) – RB Leipzig on Sunday ruled out an early switch to Liverpool for their star midfielder Naby Keita, who is scheduled to join the Merseyside giants next season.

The 22-year-old has a contract to join Liverpool in the next transfer window, but Liverpool reportedly wanted the Guinean to join them sooner after selling Philippe Coutinho to Barcelona last week for 160 million euros($192 million).

Alexis Sanchez left out of Arsenal squad for Bournemouth

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Bournemouth (United Kingdom) (AFP) – Alexis Sanchez was omitted from Arsenal’s squad on Sunday to face Bournemouth as speculation mounted over the Chilean’s January transfer to Manchester United or Manchester City.

Sanchez, 29, did not even travel to the south coast for the lunchtime kick-off, with Gunners boss Arsene Wenger admitting he was left at home over his unresolved future.

Alexis Sanchez left out of Arsenal squad at Bournemouth

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Bournemouth (United Kingdom) (AFP) – Alexis Sanchez was omitted from Arsenal’s squad to face Bournemouth on Sunday as speculation mounts over a January transfer to Manchester United or Manchester City.

Sanchez, 29, did not even travel to the south coast for the lunchtime kick-off, with Gunners boss Arsene Wenger admitting he was left at home over his unresolved future.

Where to find Liverpool vs. Man City on US TV and streaming

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If you’re trying to find out how you can watch Liverpool vs. Man City in the Premier League, you’ve come to the right place.

Liverpool against Manchester City is often one of the most entertaining Premier League games of the season. With both teams playing explosive attacking soccer, this one promises to be an exciting encounter.

Guardiola delighted by renaissance of attacking style

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Manchester (United Kingdom) (AFP) – Pep Guardiola believes his style of play is gaining traction across English football after he experienced a tough first season with Manchester City.

Guardiola is pleased to see the high-possession, high-pressing and high-intensity approach he espouses has found popularity elsewhere in the Premier League, complimenting both Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspur on the way they play.

Malaga replace sacked Michel with Gonzalez

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Madrid (AFP) – Struggling La Liga side Malaga have named Jose Gonzalez as their new head coach, after sacking Michel earlier on Saturday with the team languishing in the relegation zone.

The 51-year-old Gonzalez, who had a brief stint at Malaga as a player in 1996, has been out of a job since being sacked as coach of Chinese club Beijing Guoan last June.

Watford’s Deeney accepts VAR would have ruled out equaliser

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London (AFP) – Troy Deeney had no qualms in saying Watford’s controversial last-gasp equaliser against Southampton would have been ruled out had a Video Assistant Referee (VAR) been in place at Vicarage Road on Saturday.

Abdoulaye Doucore sealed a 2-2 draw in the Premier League clash with what most observers regarded as a clear handball in the final minute.

Monaco frustrated as Marseille sink Rennes

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Paris (AFP) – Monaco stuttered to a 0-0 draw in the absence of Radamel Falcao at Montpellier on Saturday, while Marseille cruised to a victory over Rennes that kept them firmly in the Champions League race.

Colombian striker Falcao was again ruled out by a muscle injury that sidelined him for cup wins over Yzeure and Nice, and Monaco couldn’t break down the league’s meanest defence without their top scorer.

Kane sets new Spurs record as Chelsea stumble

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London (AFP) – Harry Kane produced yet another landmark display as his two goals in a 4-0 win over Everton at Wembley on Saturday saw him become Tottenham Hotspur’s all-time leading scorer in the Premier League.

Saturday’s late kick-off saw England forward Kane score his 98th Premier League goal and surpass Teddy Sheringham’s previous club record of 97.

Liverpool-bound Keita hits wonder goal for Leipzig

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Berlin (AFP) – Naby Keita showed why Liverpool want to sign him in this transfer window by scoring a superb goal for RB Leipzig in Saturday’s 3-1 Bundesliga win over Schalke.

The 22-year-old Guinea midfielder, who already has a contract with Liverpool to join them next season, showed his class with a thunderbolt of a shot to give Leipzig the lead just before half-time.

Record-breaker Kane at the double as Spurs down Everton

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London (AFP) – Harry Kane became Tottenham Hotspur’s record goalscorer in the Premier League with a double strike as they beat Everton 4-0 at Wembley on Saturday to maintain their mastery over the Merseysiders.

The irrepressible Son Heung-Min and Christian Eriksen were Spurs’ other scorers in a win which extended Tottenham’s unbeaten run against Everton to a remarkable 11 matches.

Cavani back for Nantes trip, Neymar injured

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Paris (AFP) – Edinson Cavani is in line to return for Paris Saint-Germain at Nantes on Sunday after missing their last two matches following his delayed return from holiday, but Neymar is sidelined with a rib injury.

Cavani, who sat out domestic cup wins over Rennes and Amiens after returning to PSG two days late following the winter break, was included Saturday in a 19-man squad for the visit to Claudio Ranieri’s Nantes.

Real Madrid misery after Villarreal’s first win at Bernabeu

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Madrid (AFP) – Struggling Real Madrid risk falling further behind in La Liga after a cheeky late chip from Pablo Fornals saw Villarreal escape with a 1-0 win on Saturday, their first ever victory at the Santiago Bernabeu.

Fornals struck with three minutes left to leave Zinedine Zidane’s wasteful side fourth and a whopping 16 points behind runaway league leaders Barcelona, a deficit which will turn into 19 should Barca win at Real Sociedad on Sunday.

Thauvin on target as Marseille sink Rennes

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Paris (AFP) – Florian Thauvin scored his team-leading ninth goal of the season but also missed a penalty as Marseille cruised to a 3-0 victory at Rennes on Saturday that kept them firmly in the Champions League race.

The former Newcastle winger saw a first-half spot-kick saved by Rennes goalkeeper Tomas Koubek but redeemed himself by setting up Valere Germain for the opening goal on 35 minutes.

Dortmund sign Manchester United target Akanji – reports

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Berlin (AFP) – Borussia Dortmund look to have beaten Manchester United in the race to sign Swiss defender Manuel Akanji, according to German media reports on Saturday.

The 22-year-old centre-back is set to cost Dortmund around 21.5 million euros ($26.2m) from Swiss side Basel, according to German daily Bild and football magazine Kicker.

Chelsea stumble as Pardew gets first Baggies win

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London (AFP) – Chelsea did little to take the spotlight away from manager Antonio Conte, linked with a post-season move to French giants Paris Saint-Germain this week, in a goalless draw with Leicester City on Saturday.

Alan Pardew oversaw his first Premier League victory as West Brom manager thanks to a 2-0 win over Brighton, while Rafael Benitez’s Newcastle came from behind to draw 1-1 with bottom-of-the-table Swansea City as the battle to avoid relegation intensified.

Madrid misery after Villarreal’s first win at Bernabeu

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Madrid (AFP) – Struggling Real Madrid risk falling further behind in La Liga after a cheeky late chip from Pablo Fornals saw Villarreal escape with a 1-0 win on Saturday, their first ever victory at the Santiago Bernabeu.

Fornals struck with three minutes left to leave Zinedine Zidane’s wasteful side fourth and a whopping 16 points behind runaway league leaders Barcelona, a deficit which will turn into 19 should Barca win at Real Sociedad on Sunday.

Conte frustrated as 10-man Leicester hold Chelsea

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London (AFP) – Antonio Conte’s problems mounted as spluttering Chelsea were held to a dour 0-0 draw by 10-man Leicester City at Stamford Bridge on Saturday.

Conte’s side produced a limp display that could easily have seen them beaten by a Leicester team who missed a host of first-half chances.

Dortmund boss defends under-fire Aubameyang

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Berlin (AFP) – Borussia Dortmund’s CEO has defended their under-fire star striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, who has been the target of negative headlines in the German media recently.

Dortmund resume their Bundesliga campaign after the winter break on Sunday at home to Wolfsburg with star striker Aubameyang hoping to add to his tally of 13 goals in 15 league games.

Real Madrid downed at home by Villarreal

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Madrid (AFP) – Real Madrid risk falling further behind in La Liga after a cheeky late chip from Pablo Fornals saw Villarreal escape the Santiago Bernabeu with a shock 1-0 win on Saturday.

Fornals struck with three minutes left to leave Zinedine Zidane’s side fourth and a whopping 16 points behind runaway league leaders Barcelona, a deficit which will turn into 19 should Barca win at Real Sociedad on Sunday.

No happy Bundesliga return for De Jong

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Berlin (AFP) – World Cup finalist Nigel de Jong made an unhappy return to the Bundesliga on Saturday, conceding a first-half penalty as Mainz threw away the lead in a 3-2 defeat at Hanover.

Former Dutch international midfielder De Jong, who played in the 2010 World Cup final defeat by Spain and won the 2012 Premier League title with Manchester City, had an afternoon to forget in Hanover.

‘Racist’ Spartak ‘chocolates’ tweet prompts outcry

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Moscow (AFP) – Russian champions Spartak Moscow, already sanctioned by UEFA this season for racist behaviour, sparked further condemnation on Saturday after a club tweet that likened its black players to “chocolates”.

Spartak tweeted a video of Brazilian players Fernando, Luiz Adriano and Pedro Rocha training in sunny conditions at a team camp in Dubai alongside a caption translated to “see how chocolates melt in the sun”.

Spanish tax authorities scrutinise Messi foundation

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Madrid (AFP) – Spanish tax authorities are investigating whether payments from FC Barcelona to Lionel Messi’s foundation were used to help the player evade taxes, Spanish daily El Mundo reported on Saturday.

The newspaper, which has acquired Football Leaks documents, reported that the club gave the foundation “at least 12.

Prosecutors deny AC Milan money-laundering investigation

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Rome (AFP) – Italian prosecutors have denied media reports that they have opened an investigation into whether the deal to sell AC Milan to Chinese investors last year was inflated for money-laundering purposes.

“As it stands no criminal proceedings have been opened regarding the sale of AC Milan,” said Francesco Greco, the chief prosecutor of the city of Milan.

Spanish tax authorities scrutinises Messi’s foundation

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Madrid (AFP) – Spanish tax authorities are investigating whether payments from FC Barcelona to Lionel Messi’s foundation were used to help the player evade taxes, Spanish daily El Mundo reported on Saturday.

The newspaper, which has acquired Football Leaks documents, reported that the club gave the foundation “at least 12.

World Cup-winner Grosskreutz backs Dortmund fans’ boycott

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Berlin (AFP) – World Cup winner Kevin Grosskreutz has thrown his support behind a group of Borussia Dortmund fans who plan to boycott their club’s first Monday night Bundesliga game.

For the first time, the German Football League (DFL) is experimenting this season by staging five Monday night games in the Bundesliga.

Italian prosecutors deny AC Milan money-laundering investigation

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Rome (AFP) – Italian prosecutors have denied media reports that they have opened an investigation into whether the deal to sell AC Milan to Chinese investors last year was inflated for money-laundering purposes.

“As it stands no criminal proceedings have been opened regarding the sale of AC Milan,” said Francesco Greco, the chief prosecutor of the city of Milan.

Kenyan sub Olunga scores hat-trick in Girona romp

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Madrid (AFP) – Kenyan striker Michael Olunga had a day to remember on Saturday as he came off the bench to score a hat-trick in Girona’s historic 6-0 win over struggling Las Palmas in La Liga.

Olunga played a starring role as the Catalan side, in their debut season in Spain’s top flight, recorded their biggest victory at this level.

Ex-Real Madrid star Michel sacked by struggling Malaga

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Madrid (AFP) – Struggling La Liga side Malaga sacked coach Michel on Saturday with the team languishing in the relegation zone.

The club announced the departure of the 54-year-old in the wake of their 1-0 defeat at Getafe on Friday, a result that left them five points from safety.

Where to find Sporting Braga vs. Benfica on US TV and streaming

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If you’re trying to find out how you can watch Sporting Braga vs. Benfica, you’ve come to the right place.

Braga and Benfica are fighting for third place in the Portuguese Primeira Liga, but Benfica have their eyes set on leapfrogging Sporting into second place if they can get a win against Braga and other results go their way.

Basaksehir agree Turan loan deal with Barcelona

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Istanbul (AFP) – Turkish league leaders Istanbul Basaksehir on Saturday announced they had reached an agreement to sign midfielder Arda Turan on loan from Barcelona.

“Arda Turan is returning to his country wearing the orange kit (of Basaksehir). This is not just a transfer for Basaksehir, but a transfer for all of Turkey,” club president Goksel Gumusdag said in a statement.

Money-laundering probe opened into AC Milan sale – reports

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Rome (AFP) – Italian prosecutors have opened an investigation into whether the deal to sell AC Milan to Chinese investors last year was inflated for money-laundering purposes, La Stampa reported on Saturday.

Milan prosecutors want to know if the 740 million euros ($786 million) paid to Silvio Berlusconi to buy out the seven-time European champions was overvalued in a deliberate move to bring large sums of money into Italy from abroad, the newspaper said.

Liverpool pose test of City’s bid for immortality

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Liverpool (AFP) – Pep Guardiola has urged Manchester City to underline their intention to make history this season when the runaway Premier League leaders travel to Liverpool on Sunday.

Guardiola’s side have turned the title race into a lengthy coronation party after powering 15 points clear of second placed Manchester United and 18 ahead of fourth placed Liverpool.

Wenger plans for life post-Sanchez

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London (AFP) – Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has conceded Alexis Sanchez could leave this month as long as he can bring in a replacement as he prepares for life after the Chile international.

Manchester City and Manchester United both reportedly want to sign the forward, out of contract at the end of the campaign, and he could now be set for a final outing for the Gunners at Bournemouth on Sunday.

Where to find Chelsea vs. Leicester on US TV and streaming

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If you’re trying to find out how you can watch Chelsea vs. Leicester in the Premier League, you’ve come to the right place.

The race for second place in the Premier League is a tight competition between Chelsea and Manchester United. After a couple of weeks of Jose Mourinho badmouthing Antonio Conte, the Chelsea manager would want nothing more than a comprehensive victory against Leicester to put the pressure on The Special One.

Northern Ireland boss O’Neill set for Scotland talks

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London (AFP) – Michael O’Neill’s impressive spell as Northern Ireland coach could be about to end as he is to hold talks over the vacancy as Scottish boss the BBC reported.

The 48-year-old Northern Irishman - who guided Northern Ireland to the second round of Euro 2016 and to a controversial play-off defeat to Switzerland in the 2018 World Cup play-offs - is due meet with the Scottish Football Association next week.

Where to find Nottingham Forest vs. Aston Villa on US TV and streaming

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If you’re trying to find out how you can watch Nottingham Forest vs. Aston Villa in the Championship, you’ve come to the right place.

After Nottingham Forest’s impressive FA Cup victory against Arsenal as well as Aston Villa’s recent thrashing of Bristol City, both clubs come down to earth on Saturday in a Championship match that could have big implications on their season.

Most-watched soccer games on US TV for December 26-January 7

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Liga MX returned to American television last week with an average audience of 653,714 viewers on Univision’s networks, down 26% from the 2017 Clasura. However, it is worth noting that as of the 2017 Apertura, more matches are aired live on Univision’s networks across more timeslots. Total viewership for the first week of the season was up almost 4% at 4.

Ribery strikes as Bayern go 14 points clear

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Berlin (AFP) – Franck Ribery showed Bayern Munich why the Bundesliga leaders should extend his contract as the 34-year-old netted a superb goal in Friday’s 3-1 win at Bayer Leverkusen.

The away victory - Bayern’s first at Leverkusen since 2013 - leaves them 14 points clear and on course for a sixth straight Bundesliga title as the German league resumed after the winter break.

Sanchez future uncertain as United, City circle

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London (AFP) – Arsene Wenger admitted Friday that Alexis Sanchez’s future is up in the air as Jose Mourinho and Pep Guardiola stayed tight-lipped over potential moves for the forward during the January transfer window.

Guardiola’s bid to buy Sanchez collapsed at the end of the summer transfer window and City were favourites to land him this time around but the club are apparently unwilling to meet Arsenal’s reported £35 million ($48 million, 39 million euros) asking price.

Dortmund fans to boycott Monday night kick-off

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Berlin (AFP) – A coalition of Borussia Dortmund fan groups, who stand on the iconic south terrace, say they plan to boycott their club’s first Bundesliga game held on a Monday.

For the first time, the German Football League (DFL) is experimenting with five Monday night games this season in the Bundesliga.

CONCACAF chief responds to Trump ‘shithole’ slur

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Miami (AFP) – The head of CONCACAF responded to Donald Trump’s “shithole” slur on Friday, emphasising the region’s embrace of diversity as it enters a key phase in its bid for the 2026 World Cup.

Victor Montagliani, the president of the confederation for football in North America, Central America and the Caribbean (CONCACAF), took to Twitter to address Trump’s remarks, which have been branded as racist at home and abroad.

Sneijder off to winning start in Qatar

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Doha (AFP) – Dutch international Wesley Sneijder made a winning debut in Qatar when his new side Al Gharafa beat fellow mid-table team Al Ahli 2-1 on Friday.

Sneijder, the former Real Madrid and Inter Milan star who is Holland’s most capped player with 133 appearances, was making his first start for Al Gharafa just four days after being unveiled as a player for the Doha side.

Lionel Messi — ‘the 100 million-euro man’

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Paris (AFP) – Lionel Messi, who recently penned a lucrative new contract with Barcelona, could comfortably earn more than 100 million euros every year, according to a report released by France-based Mediapart.

Journalists from European Investigation Collaborations (EIC) claimed to have seen the details of the updated contract signed by Messi on November 25.

Bayern start new signing Wagner on bench

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Berlin (AFP) – Bayern Munich head coach Jupp Heynckes pulled a surprise in his starting line-up at Bayer Leverkusen on Friday by leaving new signing Sandro Wagner on the bench.

Bayern paid Hoffenheim around 13 million euros ($15.4m) last month for Wagner, who was signed as back-up for their top-scoring striker Robert Lewandowski.

Van Persie heading home to Feyenoord

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The Hague (AFP) – Dutch striker and record goalscorer Robin van Persie is heading home to rejoin his boyhood club Feyenoord, Dutch media reported Friday.

“Not everything is completely sorted out yet, but it seems to be moving in the right direction,” a club official told the ANP news agency.

Mourinho feels ‘contempt’ for Conte

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Manchester (United Kingdom) (AFP) – Jose Mourinho on Friday said he felt “contempt” for Chelsea manager Antonio Conte as their toxic public row continues to escalate.

The Manchester United manager has traded insults with his Chelsea counterpart over the past two weeks, with their dispute becoming increasingly bitter.

Ex-Chelsea coaches at centre of racism scandal

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London (AFP) – Chelsea pledged to help authorities investigate after a report Friday said three former youth-team players had launched legal claims against the club alleging they were bullied and racially abused.

Britain’s Guardian newspaper said former youth coach Graham Rix and ex-chief scout Gwyn Williams had allegedly abused the black players in the 1990s.

Spain choose Krasnodar as World Cup base

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Madrid (AFP) – Spain said Friday that they have chosen Krasnodar, not far from the Black Sea, as their base for the World Cup which starts on June 14.

“The national team has decided on the south of Russia and more precisely Krasnodar for their headquarters from which they will radiate to the main cities where the World will take place,” said a statement from the Spanish football federation.

EPL commentator assignments on NBC Sports, Gameweek 23

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First-place Manchester City visit fourth-place Liverpool this Sunday, January 14, at 11 a.m. ET on NBCSN and Telemundo, highlighting NBC Sports Group’s Premier League coverage this weekend. Manchester City remain unbeaten this season, winning 20 of their 22 Premier League matches, which includes a record 18-match winning streak.

Record signing Schuerrle is a flop – Dortmund boss

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Berlin (AFP) – Borussia Dortmund’s boss admits record signing Andre Schuerrle has been a flop since his arrival in 2016 with the Germany winger linked to a loan spell at Inter Milan.

The 27-year-old returned as a hero from the last World Cup after his pin-point cross at Rio de Janeiro’s Maracana Stadium was volleyed home by Mario Goetze to win the Brazil 2014 final for Germany.

Showtime now available on fuboTV streaming service for cord cutters

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fuboTV has announced that they’ve added the Showtime network to its long list of channels that are available on the streaming service that’s available in the United States.

In total, fuboTV has added nine premium channels: Showtime East, Showtime West, Showtime 2, Showtime Showcase, Showtime Extreme, Showtime Beyond, Showtime Next, Showtime Women and Showtime Family.

Spurs chief says Kane, Alli not for sale

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London (AFP) – Tottenham entertain Everton on Saturday with assurances from chairman Daniel Levy that the likes of Harry Kane and Dele Alli will not be leaving this month or at the end of the season.

Mauricio Pochettino’s side are currently out of the Champions League places, although they can draw level on points with fourth-placed Liverpool if they win at Wembley and overtake Jurgen Klopp’s side if they beat the Toffees by five goals or more.

Courtois urges Chelsea to show killer instinct

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London (AFP) – Chelsea goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois has challenged his misfiring team-mates to rediscover their cutting edge in Saturday’s clash with Leicester.

Antonio Conte’s side were held to a frustrating goalless draw in the League Cup semi-final first leg against Arsenal on Wednesday despite creating a host of chances.

Testing Anoeta trip awaits reinforced Barca

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Madrid (AFP) – Barcelona conclude a busy week on and off the pitch with a visit to Real Sociedad, where the runaway Spanish league leaders are winless in La Liga going back to 2007.

Philippe Coutinho completed his 160-million-euro ($192 million) move from Liverpool on Monday in the third richest transfer in history, although a thigh injury will prevent the Brazilian from making his debut on Sunday.

Buoyed by cup wins, PSG resume Ligue 1 title march

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Paris (AFP) – Neymar and Paris Saint-Germain resume their relentless drive towards the French Ligue 1 title after the traditional three-week winter break at fifth-placed Nantes this weekend.

PSG head to the Loire on the back of a 6-1 rout of Ligue 1 rivals Rennes in the French Cup and a 2-0 midweek defeat of Amiens to reach the League Cup semi-finals.

Video Assistant Referee debuts as local African talent goes on show

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Rabat (AFP) – Video Assistant Referee (VAR) technology will debut in Africa midway through the Nations Championship (CHAN), which kicks off Saturday with hosts Morocco among the title favourites.

The system allows off-field match officials to assist referees in “game-changing” situations such as goals, penalty kicks, straight red cards and cases of mistaken identity.

Everton in talks to sign Arsenal’s Walcott

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London (AFP) – Everton are in talks with Arsenal to sign out-of-favour England forward Theo Walcott as Sam Allardyce seeks to bolster his side’s goal threat.

Talks have opened with the Gunners over a potential £20 million ($27 million, 22 million euros) deal for the 28-year-old, who has just 18 months remaining on his contract.

Liverpool can cope without Coutinho: Oxlade-Chamberlain

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London (AFP) – Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain says Liverpool can cope without Philippe Coutinho as they prepare for the daunting task of hosting Premier League leaders Manchester City on Sunday.

The Brazil playmaker, who scored 12 goals this season for the club, completed a 160 million-euro ($194 million, £142 million) move to Barcelona on Monday to leave a significant hole in Jurgen Klopp’s side.

Messi puts on masterclass for watching Coutinho

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Madrid (AFP) – Lionel Messi put on a masterclass in front of new recruit Philippe Coutinho as Barcelona trounced Celta Vigo 5-0 Thursday to ease into the Copa del Rey quarter-finals 6-1 on aggregate.

Coutinho, dressed in a black shirt dotted with white stars, was in the stands at the Camp Nou for the first time since his 160 million-euro ($192 million) move from Liverpool.

Ex-French international Marlet indicted for rape

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Lyon (AFP) – Former French international Steve Marlet has been placed under investigation for “gang rape” by a court in Auxerre, prosecutors said.

“A second man was also placed under investigation…and a third has been given the status of assisted witness,” a prosecutor Estelle Meyer told AFP confirming a report in a local newspaper.

French glitches put technology under review

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Paris (AFP) – The debate on using technology to help football referees took a twist on Thursday as the French league suspended its use of goal-line reviews following some “serious dysfunctions”.

The goal-line technology (GLT) system, provided by German company GoalControl, was “suspended immediately” by French football authorities after incidents in League Cup games on Wednesday between Amiens and Paris Saint-Germain and Angers and Montpellier.

Slovenia’s Kurtic heads for SPAL

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Milan (AFP) – Atalanta’s Slovenia international Jasmin Kurtic on Thursday signed for Serie A rivals SPAL in a deal until June 2021.

The 29-year-old has spent two and a half seasons in Bergamo, playing 92 matches and scoring 10 goals.

The move is initially a loan with the obligation to buy at the end of the season, Atalanta said in a statement.

Kyle Martino interview about his USSF Presidential campaign: World Soccer Talk Podcast

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World Soccer Talk is the weekly soccer podcast on the topic of watching soccer on TV, online and apps.

In the NEW episode, number 56, Kartik Krishnaiyer and Christopher Harris cover a range of topics including:

• An exclusive interview with Kyle Martino where he shares his views on Jonathan Gonzalez electing to play for Mexico instead of the United States and what that means for US Soccer,

• Martino dives deeper into why the USSF chose Red Bull Arena for the lucrative US-Costa Rica World Cup qualifier,

• As well as his thoughts on the conflict of interest between USSF, SUM and MLS, and much more.

UK football coach repeatedly raped youth, court told

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London (AFP) – British football coach Barry Bennell repeatedly raped and indecently assaulted a former youth player, a court heard Thursday at his trial for a string of alleged offences.

Chris Unsworth, 45, said Bennell, 64, preyed on him after scouting him for Manchester City as a junior and the abuse began “straight away” after the defendant started driving him to the club’s training ground.

Revamped White Hart Lane to host 2018 NFL game

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New York (AFP) – Premier League side Tottenham’s new stadium will stage one of three NFL games to be played on consecutive weeks in London next season, the NFL said Thursday.

Spurs’ revamped White Hart Lane will host the Seattle Seahawks’ clash against the Oakland Raiders on October 14 to kick off the three-game series, which is a reduction from the four regular-season contests held in London in 2017.

France halts goal-line technology after mishaps

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Paris (AFP) – The French league (LFP) has decided to “immediately suspend” the use of goal-line technology after a series of glitches with the system, LFP director general Didier Quillot said on Thursday.

The decision covers all matches under the jurisdiction of the LFP, notably Ligue 1 and the French League Cup, and comes in the wake of two errors during Wednesday’s League Cup quarter-finals.

Top 5 must-see soccer games on US TV this weekend

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Following on from winter breaks, domestic cup competitions and even Club World Cups, a sense of normality returns to European soccer again this weekend.

The Bundesliga is back after their hiatus, with two eye-catching contests on the schedule. Elsewhere, in the Premier League the runaway leaders face what promises to be their most difficult challenge of the campaign, while another tussle will have big connotations at both ends of the table.

Vardy fit to return against Chelsea

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London (AFP) – Jamie Vardy will be fit to play for Leicester in a clash of the past two Premier League champions when they visit Chelsea on Saturday, the Foxes manager Claude Puel said on Thursday.

Vardy, who turned 31 on Thursday, has recovered from the groin injury that kept the England international out of the 2016 champions line-up for the FA Cup third round 0-0 draw with his former club Fleetwood Town last weekend.

Leipzig again rule out early Keita Liverpool move

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Berlin (AFP) – RB Leipzig on Thursday again told Liverpool that Naby Keita will not be moving before next season, amid reports the Merseyside club want the Guinea midfielder immediately to replace Philippe Coutinho.

Keita, 22, already has a contract with Liverpool which comes into effect on July 1, but having completed the sale of Brazil star Coutinho to Barcelona on Monday for 160 million euros ($192 million), Liverpool are reportedly keen to bring Keita to Merseyside early.

Wenger backs unsettled Sanchez

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London (AFP) – Arsene Wenger insists Alexis Sanchez remains committed to Arsenal even though the Gunners boss left out his unsettled star for the League Cup semi-final clash with Chelsea.

Wenger opted to keep Sanchez on the bench until the last 25 minutes of Wednesday’s 0-0 first leg draw at Stamford Bridge.

fuboTV’s streams of local TV stations grows to more than 125 for cord cutters

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One of the minor obstacles when cutting the cord and subscribing to a streaming service is the lack of availability of your local over-the-air networks such as NBC, FOX, CBS and Telemundo.

For sports fans, the vast majority of the games are on channels accessible via cable or satellite.

Bayern resume Bundesliga title quest with Leverkusen trip

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Berlin (AFP) – Franck Ribery warned Bayern Munich face a tricky test at Bayer Leverkusen on Friday as they resume their march towards a sixth straight Bundesliga title following the German winter break.

Jupp Heynckes’s team are 11 points clear of second-place Schalke but Leverkusen, who are two points further back in fourth, are unbeaten in 14 matches dating back to September under ex-Dortmund coach Heiko Herrlich.

Bolt’s pal Bailey out to dazzle Bayern

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Berlin (AFP) – Bayer Leverkusen forward Leon Bailey plans to prove against Bayern Munich on Friday that the Jamaican winger is even quicker with the ball at his feet than close friend Usain Bolt as the Bundesliga returns from its winter break this weekend.

Fourth-placed Leverkusen reopen proceedings on Friday with a mouth-watering clash at home to run-away league leaders Bayern, who have an 11-point lead over nearest rival Schalke.

Aubameyang deal dead as China champions vow to focus on youth

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Shanghai (AFP) – Chinese champions Guangzhou Evergrande appear to have ended any interest in Borussia Dortmund striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang after a public dressing-down by football authorities in the country.

The club coached by Italian legend Fabio Cannavaro had reportedly won a 72-million-euro tug-of-war with Chinese Super League (CSL) rivals Beijing Guoan for the Gabon hotshot.

Japan football legend ‘Kazu’ renews contract before 51st birthday

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Tokyo (AFP) – Former Japan striker Kazuyoshi Miura, who will turn 51 next month, renewed his contract with Yokohama FC on Thursday, extending his record as the oldest player in the J-League.

The golden oldie, admiringly nicknamed “King Kazu” for his spirited grit and style, will kick off his 33rd career season this year after a stunning 2017 in which he surpassed the previous professional longevity record set by England legend Stanley Matthews.

Second string Real Madrid struggle into Copa del Rey quarter-finals

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Madrid (AFP) – Real Madrid fielded an almost unrecognisable team and struggled into the Copa del Rey quarter-finals on Wednesday after a 2-2 draw against second division Numancia.

Already 3-0 ahead from the first leg, coach Zinedine Zidane could afford to rest his superstars with one eye on La Liga, where they are 16 points behind Barcelona, and the Champions League last 16 with a clash against Paris Saint-Germain next month.

Neymar strikes as PSG reach League Cup semis

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Paris (AFP) – Neymar scored a second-half penalty as four-time defending champions Paris Saint-Germain toiled before overcoming 10-man Amiens 2-0 to reach the semi-finals of the French League Cup on Wednesday.

PSG were again without leading scorer Edinson Cavani, who also missed Sunday’s French Cup rout of Rennes after returning late from his Christmas and New Year break in Uruguay.

Chelsea frustrated by Arsenal stalemate

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London (AFP) – Chelsea wasted a chance to take control of their League Cup semi-final against Arsenal as the misfiring Blues were forced to settle for a 0-0 draw in Wednesday’s first leg.

Antonio Conte’s side dominated possession for long periods at Stamford Bridge - where the Video Assistant Referee system (VAR) was in operation - but lacked the killer instinct required to take a step towards the final.

Coquelin will join Valencia says Wenger

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London (AFP) – Arsene Wenger has revealed Arsenal midfielder Francis Coquelin is set to join Valencia.

Coquelin had been linked to the La Liga side before the January transfer window opened after making only one Premier League appearance for Arsenal this season.

The 26-year-old Frenchman was also reported to have attracted interest from West Ham and Crystal Palace as Jack Wilshere’s return to prominence with Arsenal blocked Coquelin’s chances of a recall.

Wenger welcomes VAR despite penalty issue

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London (AFP) – Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger believes the introduction of a Video Assistant Referee system in English football is a welcome move after the technology was used in his side’s League Cup semi-final against Chelsea on Wednesday.

Wenger’s side faced Chelsea at Stamford Bridge in the second match in England to have access to the VAR technology.

Leganes end 89-year wait to reach Copa del Rey last-eight

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Madrid (AFP) – Leganes, a modest club from the Madrid suburbs, reached the quarter-finals of the Copa del Rey for the first time in their 89-year existence on Wednesday.

Despite losing 2-1 at Villarreal, who are currently sixth in La Liga, Leganes progressed on away goals having won the first leg 1-0.

Arsenal’s Wenger welcomes VAR despite penalty ‘confusion’

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London (AFP) – Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger believes the introduction of a Video Assistant Referee system in English football is a welcome move.

Wenger’s side face Chelsea in the League Cup semi-final first leg on Wednesday in the third match in England to have access to the VAR technology.

Austrian football chief probed over Blatter re-election

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Vienna (AFP) – Austrian prosecutors said Wednesday they are investigating the country’s national football federation head Leo Windtner over a payment made at the time of the disgraced Sepp Blatter’s re-election as FIFA president in 2015.

“We are investigating because of the suspicion of breach of trust and corruption,” the public prosecution office for economic and corruption affairs (WKStA) said.

Istanbul’s Basaksehir in Turan talks with Barcelona

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Istanbul (AFP) – Turkish league leaders Istanbul Basaksehir are in talks with Barcelona to bring midfielder Arda Turan back to Turkey after a troubled Camp Nou spell, the Super Lig club said on Wednesday.

Basaksehir, who have risen fast over the last two seasons to rival the established Istanbul triumvirate of Besiktas, Fenerbahce and Galatasaray, however warned that the transfer was still a work in progress.

Nashville Soccer Club: MLS expanding to Music City is recipe for success

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Major League Soccer (MLS) is headed to Nashville, Tenn., also known as Music City. Nashville showed interest in MLS expansion in late 2016 when 11 other cities submitted formal bids for one of four available MLS expansion teams. Nashville already has a strong soccer community with the Nashville Soccer Club joining the United Soccer League (USL) this year.

Where to find Chelsea vs. Arsenal League Cup semifinal on US TV and streaming

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If you’re trying to find out how you can watch Chelsea vs. Arsenal in the League Cup semifinal first leg, you’ve come to the right place.

After a weekend of FA Cup matches to forget, managers Arsene Wenger and Antonio Conte have a chance to put their respective clubs in the driving seat in this first leg of the Carabao Cup semi-final.

Atletico, Valencia breeze into Copa del Rey quarters

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Madrid (AFP) – Atletico Madrid booked their place in the quarter-finals of the Copa del Rey on Tuesday after seeing off third-tier Lleida, while new signing Luciano Vietto’s hat-trick fired Valencia past Las Palmas.

Playing in front of a sparsely populated Wanda Metropolitano, it took dominant Atletico until the 57th minute to extend their 4-0 first leg lead, Yannick Carrasco meeting Diego Costa’s cutback and slotting home the opener.

Lemar helps Monaco beat Nice in League Cup quarters

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Nice (France) (AFP) – Thomas Lemar scored as Monaco beat Cote d’Azur rivals Nice 2-1 at the Allianz Riviera on Tuesday to reach the French League Cup semi-finals.

Lemar, who has been heavily linked with a move to England, nodded Monaco into an early lead, before Alassane Plea equalised after a video review.

Voodoo message prompted Lukaku move: Moshiri

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London (AFP) – Belgian international Romelu Lukaku gave his reason for rejecting Everton’s offer of a reported £140,000 ($189,000) a week because of a voodoo message, the Premier League club’s major shareholder Farhad Moshiri revealed on Tuesday.

Moshiri told fellow shareholders at the club’s AGM that the 24-year-old striker - who eventually joined Manchester United for £75 million instead of Chelsea despite the Blues thinking they had secured his signature - looked set to sign the new contract until he made a phone call to his mother.

Manchester City’s Aguero to the rescue against valiant Bristol City

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Manchester (United Kingdom) (AFP) – A goal in stoppage time by Sergio Aguero saved Manchester City’s blushes as it was enough to secure a 2-1 win over second-tier Bristol City in their League Cup semi-final first leg clash on Tuesday.

The Argentinian’s 19th goal of the season and a fine effort by Belgian international Kevin De Bruyne cancelled out Bobby Reid’s first-half penalty to give the hosts a club record-equalling 16th successive home win.

Arsenal’s Alexis Sanchez gamble has backfired

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Heading into deadline day for summer transfers, Arsenal were still on the fence regarding the sale of one of their star players, Alexis Sanchez. Ultimately, an agreement to send the Chile international to Manchester City fell through in the final moments of the window. Both Arsenal and City could claim partial blame for the move falling through.

AC Milan deny San Siro move

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Milan (AFP) – AC Milan insisted Tuesday they have no intention of moving away from the iconic San Siro stadium which they share with city rivals Inter after the mayor of Milan suggested a move was imminent.

“AC Milan states that the club has never expressed the desire to leave San Siro,” said AC Milan in a statement following Milan mayor Giuseppe Sala’s comments.

Newcastle icon Beardsley denies bullying claims

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London (AFP) – Newcastle great Peter Beardsley has agreed to a period of gardening leave whilst the club looks into accusations of racism and bullying levelled at him in his role as the club’s Under-23 coach.

The 56-year-old former England and Liverpool star - who made over 300 appearances for Newcastle in two spells at the club - has been accused of bullying by 22-year-old midfielder Yasin Ben El-Mhanni, backed by several team-mates.

Christensen signs four-and-a-half year Chelsea deal

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London (AFP) – Danish international Andreas Christensen’s impressive performances for Chelsea this season were rewarded on Tuesday with a new long-term contract at the Premier League champions.

The 21-year-old central defender - who has been with Chelsea since he was 15 - has signed a new four-and-a-half year contract after replacing David Luiz as a first choice central defender following some fine displays since returning to London from two seasons on loan with Bundesliga club Borussia Moenchengladbach.

Atletico breeze into Copa del Rey quarters

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Madrid (AFP) – Atletico Madrid booked their place in the quarter-finals of the Copa del Rey on Tuesday after seeing off third-tier Lleida 3-0 in the second leg of their last 16 clash and cruising to a 7-0 aggregate win.

Playing in front of a sparsely populated Wanda Metropolitano, it took dominant Atletico until the 57th minute to extend their four-goal first leg lead, Yannick Carrasco meeting Diego Costa’s cutback and slotting home the opener.

Malouda appeals to CAS over French Guiana ban

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Lausanne (AFP) – Former Chelsea winger Florent Malouda, who was given a two-match ban for playing for French Guiana at last year’s CONCACAF Gold Cup, will appeal his suspension at the Court of Arbitration for Sport on Wednesday.

The 37-year-old made 80 international appearances for France between 2004 and 2012, but became available for his country of birth as it is a non-FIFA association.

Rowett signs new contract to dash Stoke’s hopes

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London (AFP) – Highly-regarded English manager Gary Rowett ended relegation-threatened Premier League club Stoke City’s hopes of him taking over when he signed a new contract with second tier Derby County on Tuesday.

The 43-year-old’s stock has risen in his stewardship of two Championship sides, firstly with Birmingham City and then Derby.

Tevez back at Boca, dreams of last World Cup fling

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Buenos Aires (AFP) – Carlos Tevez hopes to turn back the clock and use his return to Boca Juniors as a springboard to get back in the Argentina team for this year’s World Cup in Russia.

“I have a few years of football left, being in a World Cup for a player of my age would be something very nice,” Tevez said.

Swansea’s iron man Fer cleared over red card

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London (AFP) – Swansea midfielder Leroy Fer will be free to play in a crucial Premier League relegation battle with Newcastle on Saturday after winning his appeal against a three-match ban.

An independent commission upheld the Dutchman’s appeal against his red card for violent conduct in the FA Cup third round 0-0 draw with Wolves last weekend, with his three-match suspension overturned as a result.

Zidane looks to gee up squad amid talk of Madrid crisis

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Madrid (AFP) – Real Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane has defended his players and dismissed talk of a crisis at the reigning Spanish and European champions after seeing them fall further behind La Liga leaders Barcelona.

Madrid ended an outstanding 2017 with a 3-0 defeat at home to their bitter rivals in the Clasico and their first La Liga outing of 2018 saw them draw 2-2 at Celta Vigo on Sunday.

FA tackles diversity shortfall with new rules

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London (AFP) – At least one candidate from a black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) background will be interviewed for future roles within the England set-up, the FA said Tuesday, laying out its response to issues thrown up by the Eni Aluko affair.

Chief executive Martin Glenn revealed the Football Association will adopt its own version of the “Rooney Rule” as the governing body confirmed its plans for the year.

Conte will ‘not forget’ war of words with Mourinho

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London (AFP) – Antonio Conte says he will “not forget” Jose Mourinho’s personal slight about match-fixing, but the Chelsea manager added Tuesday he wants to call a halt to the increasingly bitter dispute with his Manchester United counterpart.

The 48-year-old Italian - who served a four-month ban in Italy in 2012 in relation to a match-fixing scandal but has always denied wrongdoing relating to his time as coach of Siena - said he did not want the League Managers’ Association (LMA) to intervene.

Newcastle icon Beardsley takes leave of absence

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London (AFP) – Newcastle great Peter Beardsley has agreed to a period of gardening leave whilst the club looks into accusations of racism and bullying levelled at him in his role as the club’s Under-23 coach.

The 56-year-old former England and Liverpool star - who made over 300 appearances for Newcastle in two spells at the club - has been accused of bullying by 22-year-old midfielder Yasin Ben El-Mhanni, backed by several team-mates.

Where to find Manchester City vs. Bristol City League Cup on US TV and streaming

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If you’re trying to find out how you can watch Manchester City vs. Bristol City in the League Cup semifinal first leg, you’ve come to the right place.

Bristol City’s reward for knocking Manchester United out of the League Cup is a semifinal matchup against Manchester City. The first leg kicks off today on Tuesday with Pep Guardiola’s having home field advantage for the first match.

English minnows cheer Man Utd glamour tie in FA Cup

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London (AFP) – English minnows Yeovil Town have hailed a second FA Cup clash in four seasons against Premier League giants Manchester United as a “special moment”.

The lowest-ranked side left in the competition will face Jose Mourinho’s side later this month at Huish Park, where the 12-time winners won 2-0 in 2015 thanks to goals from Ander Herrera and Angel Di Maria.

USA opts for youth with no World Cup in sight

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Los Angeles (AFP) – Acting US national team coach Dave Sarachan opted for young prospects in calling upon 30 players on Monday for the Americans annual January training camp.

The session is set to open Wednesday at Los Angeles with the culmination of workouts to be a January 28 friendly against Bosnia and Herzegovina at the training camp in Carson, home of Major League Soccer’s Los Angeles Galaxy.

DIRECTV NOW Viewer’s Guide: Explore all of the streaming channels and options available

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Since launching in 2016, DIRECTV NOW has made a big splash in the streaming industry. By December 2017, the streaming provider had amassed more than 1 million subscribers. Meanwhile, 2018 promises to be another big one as new features will be rolled out.

However, the challenge with DIRECTV NOW is that there are so many options to choose from that it can sometimes be a little bewildering.

Wenger eyes new recruits as troubled Arsenal face Chelsea test

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London (AFP) – Arsene Wenger has warned his Arsenal flops that new recruits are on the way as the furious Gunners boss prepares for Wednesday’s League Cup semi-final against Chelsea.

Wenger’s side suffered one of the most chastening defeats of his increasingly tarnished reign on Sunday as second tier Nottingham Forest won 4-2 in the FA Cup third round.

Chinese FA warns clubs over Aubameyang ‘bidding war’

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Shanghai (AFP) – China’s football association (CFA) warned Tuesday that it was watching closely and would punish teams who flout its transfer rules, following reports two clubs are battling to sign striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.

Chinese Super League (CSL) champions Guangzhou Evergrande are reportedly prepared to pay at least 70 million euros for the Borussia Dortmund predator, trumping an offer by rivals Beijing Guoan.

Hodgson praises VAR system after English football debut

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London (AFP) – Crystal Palace manager Roy Hodgson praised the video assistant referee (VAR) system after its debut in English competitive football following initial confusion around Brighton’s winning goal.

Brighton’s Glenn Murray scored a late winner in the home side’s 2-1 FA Cup third-round defeat of Palace on Monday but, with suggestions of handball, there was confusion among players, fans at the ground and TV viewers over whether VAR had had any influence on the decision.

Monaco, Lyon to meet in French Cup

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Paris (AFP) – Monaco and Lyon will play each other in the standout tie in the round of 32 of the French Cup, the draw for which was made on Monday evening.

The sides are currently second and third respectively in Ligue 1, but both are nine points behind leaders Paris Saint-Germain so the French Cup may offer a better chance of winning silverware.

Teen star Gonzalez selects Mexico over USA – reports

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Los Angeles (AFP) – Jonathan Gonzalez, a teen midfielder for Mexican side Monterrey, has opted to play international football for Mexico over the United States, according to reports Monday.

Univision and ESPN, citing unnamed sources, reported that Gonzalez will represent El Tri after playing for the United States at youth level.

Brighton beat Crystal Palace on VAR debut

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Brighton (United Kingdom) (AFP) – Substitute Glenn Murray grabbed Brighton and Hove Albion a 2-1 FA Cup third-round victory over rivals Crystal Palace on Monday as video technology made its bow in England.

It was the first time the Video Assistant Referee (VAR) system had been used in English football for a one-off trial, but was never needed to overturn any decision by referee Andre Marriner at the Amex Stadium.

‘Happy’ Sneijder unveiled by Qatar’s Al Gharafa

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Doha (AFP) – A beaming Wesley Sneijder said he had turned down offers “from everywhere” to play in Qatar as the Dutch star was officially unveiled by Al Gharafa in Doha on Monday.

The former Ajax, Real Madrid and Inter Milan star said he was “happy” to be in the Middle East and could not wait to play football again after a disappointing few months at French Ligue 1 side Nice.

Man United handed Cup visit to fourth-tier Yeovil

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London (AFP) – Jose Mourinho’s Manchester United will travel to fourth-tier minnows Yeovil Town in the English FA Cup fourth round after Monday’s draw, while Newport County will host Tottenham Hotspur.

United beat Derby County on Friday in their first match of the tournament, and would equal Arsenal’s all-time record of 13 Cup titles with victory in May’s final.

Karanka appointed Nottingham Forest manager

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London (AFP) – Nottingham Forest have appointed Aitor Karanka as their new manager on a two-and-a-half-year contract, the English Championship club announced on Monday.

The Spaniard succeeds Mark Warburton, who was sacked at the end of last month, and takes over with two-time European Cup winners Forest currently 14th in the second tier.

‘Happy’ Sneijder unveiled as Al Gharafa player

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Doha (AFP) – A beaming Wesley Sneijder said he had turned down offers “from everywhere” to play in Qatar as the Dutch star was officially unveiled by Al Gharafa in Doha on Monday.

The former Ajax, Real Madrid and Inter Milan star said he was “happy” to be in the Middle East and could not wait to play football again after a disappointing few months at French Ligue 1 side Nice.

Coutinho completes ‘dream’ Barcelona move

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Barcelona (AFP) – Philippe Coutinho officially completed his “dream” 160-million-euro ($192 million) move from Liverpool to Barcelona on Monday, making him the third most expensive player in history.

Coutinho, 25, signed a five-year contract in a ceremony sitting alongside Barca president Josep Maria Bartomeu before posing on the Camp Nou pitch in a Barcelona shirt.

Kane says Spurs need trophies to keep him happy

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London (AFP) – Harry Kane says he is happy at Tottenham Hotspur as long as the club start winning trophies as his manager Mauricio Pochettino warned Spurs cannot force their star striker to stay.

Real Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane hailed Kane as the “complete player” ahead of the clubs’ first Champions League tie in October while Manchester United have also been credited with an interest in the 24-year-old.

Coutinho completes 160-million-euro Barcelona move

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Barcelona (AFP) – Philippe Coutinho officially joined Barcelona on Monday, completing a move from Liverpool thought to be worth 160 million euros ($192 million), making it the third richest transfer in history.

Coutinho, 25, signed a five-year contract in a ceremony alongside Barca president Josep Maria Bartomeu.

Barcelona to unveil $192 million man Coutinho

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Barcelona (AFP) – Philippe Coutinho has described his 160-million-euro ($192 million) move to Barcelona as “a dream come true” with coach Ernesto Valverde predicting the Brazilian will comfortably fit into a team already containing global superstar Lionel Messi.

The 25-year-old playmaker, the world’s third most expensive footballer after securing a long-desired transfer from Liverpool, will be officially presented to the world’s media on Monday from 1130 GMT.

Coutinho move could spark spending spree

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Paris (AFP) – Philippe Coutinho’s 160-million-euro ($192 million) deal to join Barcelona is likely to unleash a series of big-money transfers, not least as Liverpool seek to re-invest the proceeds.

It took the third largest amount ever paid for a footballer to prise Coutinho away from Liverpool and the rumour mill has already linked the club with Leicester’s Algerian winger Riyad Mahrez as a possible replacement for the Brazilian playmaker.

Chinese teams chase big-money Aubameyang – reports

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Shanghai (AFP) – At least two Chinese sides are chasing the signature of Borussia Dortmund’s prolific striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, reports in the country say, in what could be an Asian-record transfer.

The 28-year-old has been linked with a host of clubs all over Europe but he could end up in the money-rich Chinese Super League (CSL), according to the reports, with Fabio Cannavaro’s Guangzhou Evergrande said to be leading the race to snare him.

Kane can’t be forced to stay at Spurs – Pochettino

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London (AFP) – Mauricio Pochettino has warned that Tottenham cannot force Harry Kane to stay at the club, saying Philippe Coutinho’s move from Liverpool to Barcelona shows there can be no room for complacency.

Tottenham’s star striker underlined his value again on Sunday by scoring twice in a 3-0 win over AFC Wimbledon as Pochettino’s side eased into the FA Cup fourth round.

City need trophies to be ‘big club’ – Guardiola

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London (AFP) – Pep Guardiola says Manchester City must match Manchester United and Liverpool by winning trophies in order to become one of the game’s giants - and dazzling football is not enough.

The runaway Premier League leaders maintained their relentless charge in four competitions by sweeping into the FA Cup fourth round at Burnley’s expense on Saturday.

German-Russian man admits to Dortmund team bus bombing

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Dortmund (Germany) (AFP) – A German-Russian man admitted Monday to carrying out a bomb attack on the Borussia Dortmund football team’s bus in an elaborate bid to make a fortune on the stock market.

“I deeply regret my actions,” said the man, identified only as Sergei W. in keeping with German convention in court cases to protect the identity of defendants.

Barcelona to unveil 160-million-euro Coutinho

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Barcelona (AFP) – Philippe Coutinho is to be officially unveiled as a Barcelona player on Monday as he completes a 160-million-euro ($192 million) move - the third richest in history - that he described as “a dream come true”.

The 25-year-old former Liverpool playmaker will be officially presented to the world’s media after Barca coach Ernesto Valverde predicted the Brazilian would comfortably fit into a team already containing global superstar Lionel Messi.

Usain Bolt secures trial with Borussia Dortmund

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Paris (AFP) – Sprint legend Usain Bolt said Sunday that he hopes to still see his dream of becoming a professional footballer come true when he undergoes a trial at German top-flight club Borussia Dortmund.

However, the multiple Olympic and world champion admitted that he would prefer to play for Manchester United, his favourite team.

Neymar, PSG run riot in French Cup

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Paris (AFP) – Neymar, Kylian Mbappe and Angel Di Maria all scored twice as a rampant Paris Saint-Germain shrugged off the absence of Edinson Cavani to win 6-1 away to Ligue 1 rivals Rennes in the French Cup on Sunday.

PSG are bidding to win the trophy for the fourth season running, something no club has ever done before, and they showed Rennes no pity in Brittany.

Barcelona win as Coutinho waits, Real Madrid held

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Madrid (AFP) – Lionel Messi marked his 400th appearance in La Liga with the opening goal in Barcelona’s 3-0 win over struggling Levante at the Camp Nou on Sunday as the Catalans prepare to unveil Philippe Coutinho.

Messi’s 365th goal in Spain’s top flight was followed by strikes from Luis Suarez and Paulinho as Barcelona stretched their lead at the top of the table back to nine points over Atletico Madrid.

Coutinho hails ‘dream come true’ in joining Barcelona

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Barcelona (AFP) – Philippe Coutinho has described his move from Liverpool to Barcelona as “a dream come true” after appearing at the Camp Nou for the first time on Sunday ahead of his official unveiling.

“Barca fans, I’m here now. It’s a dream come true! I hope to see you tomorrow,” said Coutinho, who will be presented to supporters on Monday, in a short video clip released by Barcelona.

Arsenal dumped out of FA Cup, Leeds shocked

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London (AFP) – FA Cup holders Arsenal were sensationally dumped out of the competition by Nottingham Forest on Sunday, joining Leeds United as big-name casualties on a day of shocks.

Elsewhere, West Ham stayed alive with a goalless draw at Shrewsbury and Tottenham scored three goals in eight second-half minutes to see off the challenge of League One side AFC Wimbledon.

Barcelona to unveil Coutinho, the $192 milion man

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Barcelona (AFP) – Philippe Coutinho will be unveiled as Barcelona’s latest star recruit on Monday with coach Ernesto Valverde predicting the world’s third most expensive footballer will comfortably fit into a team already containing global superstar Lionel Messi.

The Brazilian playmaker was in the Spanish city on Sunday to tie up his 160-million-euro ($192 million) move from Liverpool but will only be presented on Monday to the media at 1130 GMT.

Barcelona to unveil Coutinho, the $192 million man

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Barcelona (AFP) – Philippe Coutinho will be unveiled as Barcelona’s latest star recruit on Monday with coach Ernesto Valverde predicting the world’s third most expensive footballer will comfortably fit into a team already containing global superstar Lionel Messi.

The Brazilian playmaker was in the Spanish city on Sunday to tie up his 160-million-euro ($192 million) move from Liverpool but will only be presented on Monday to the media at 1130 GMT.

Messi marks new milestone in Barcelona victory as Coutinho waits

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Madrid (AFP) – Lionel Messi marked his 400th appearance in La Liga with the opening goal as Barcelona eased to a 3-0 win over struggling Levante at the Camp Nou on Sunday.

Messi’s 365th goal in Spain’s top flight came inside 12 minutes, with Luis Suarez adding the second before the interval and Paulinho completing the victory late on as Barcelona stretched their lead at the top of the table back to nine points over Atletico Madrid.

Barca’s Valverde hails Coutinho signing

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Barcelona (AFP) – Barcelona coach Ernesto Valverde is looking forward to working with Philippe Coutinho after the club announced his arrival in a record-breaking deal on Saturday.

Coutinho, 25, will move from Liverpool in a deal worth 160 million euros ($192 million), the third-biggest transfer in football history and a club record deal for Barcelona.

Bayern to face third-tier Paderborn in German Cup

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Berlin (AFP) – Having eliminated Bundesliga rivals RB Leipzig and holders Borussia Dortmund in the previous two rounds, Bayern Munich were handed a tie against third-tier Paderborn in Sunday’s draw for the German Cup quarter-finals.

Paderborn spent the 2014-15 season in the Bundesliga but are currently second in the third division.

Arsenal dumped out of FA Cup, Leeds shocked by Newport

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London (AFP) – FA Cup holders Arsenal were sensationally dumped out of the competition by Nottingham Forest on Sunday, joining Leeds United as big-name casualties on a day of shocks.

Elsewhere, West Ham stayed alive with a goalless draw at Shrewsbury and Tottenham scored three goals in just eight second-half minutes to see off the challenge of League One side AFC Wimbledon.

Cagliari apologises to Matuidi for fan racism

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Rome (AFP) – Serie A club Cagliari apologised on Sunday to Blaise Matuidi for the racist abuse fans directed at the Juventus winger during the Italian champions 1-0 win in Sardinia on Saturday, the second time he has received such abuse in as many weeks.

Writing in French on their Twitter account, Cagliari apologised for the abuse, which took place late in the first half of a tense encounter at the Sardegna Arena following a clash between Matuidi and a Cagliari defender.

Newport stun Leeds, West Ham survive FA Cup test

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London (AFP) – Lowly Newport County came from behind to send Championship side Leeds United crashing out of the FA Cup on Sunday but Premier League West Ham stayed alive with a goalless draw at Shrewsbury.

Elsewhere, Tottenham scored three goals in just eight second-half minutes to see off the challenge of League One side AFC Wimbledon while Arsenal took on Nottingham Forest.

Messi marks new milestone in Barcelona victory

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Madrid (AFP) – Lionel Messi marked his 400th appearance in La Liga with the opening goal as Barcelona eased to a 3-0 win over Levante at the Camp Nou on Sunday.

Messi’s 365th goal in Spain’s top flight came inside 12 minutes, with Luis Suarez adding the second before the interval and Paulinho completing the victory late on as Barcelona stretched their lead at the top of the table back to nine points over Atletico Madrid.

Juventus lose Dybala for a month

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Rome (AFP) – Juventus attacker Paulo Dybala could be out for over a month after picking up a thigh injury in his side’s 1-0 win at Cagliari on Saturday, putting his chances of facing Tottenham in the Champions League at risk.

The Italian champions revealed Sunday that the Argentine international had suffered a “light-medium” injury to his right thigh, and said that how long he would have to spend on the sidelines would become clear in the coming days.

PSG want answers as Pastore and Cavani miss Cup tie

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Paris (AFP) – Crack marksman Edinson Cavani and gifted midfielder Javier Pastore will need to provide answers to their tardy returns from Latin America with both men absent from the Paris Saint-Germain squad to face Rennes in the French Cup Sunday.

Sources close to the club say both men face heavy sanctions with Cavani returning two days late Friday and Pastore yet to return.

Matuidi fury at racist abuse in Cagliari Serie A game

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Cagliari (Italy) (AFP) – Juventus’s French midfielder Blaise Matuidi has hit out after he suffered racist abuse during Saturday’s Serie A game against Cagliari in Sardinia and was ignored when he asked the referee to intervene.

“Today I experienced racism during the match. Weak people try to intimidate with hate, I am not a hater and can only be sorry for those who set bad examples,” Matuidi said in a statement to AFP.

Guardiola apologises to Dyche after touchline row

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Manchester (United Kingdom) (AFP) – Pep Guardiola apologised to Burnley manager Sean Dyche for his behaviour after Manchester City equalised in their 4-1 FA Cup third round victory.

City boss Guardiola gestured angrily towards Dyche, making a ‘yapping’ gesture at his counterpart and the fourth official, as a furious row erupted between the two at Eastlands on Saturday following Sergio Aguero’s 56th-minute equaliser.

Hero to ‘very homesick boy’: how Tevez unravelled in China

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Shanghai (AFP) – Argentine star Carlos Tevez arrived in Shanghai to a hero’s welcome but sneaked out of China less than a year later and has now sealed a return to Boca Juniors.

The 33-year-old, whose former clubs include Manchester United, Manchester City and Juventus, scored just four goals in the Chinese Super League and missed half the matches injured, out of form or out of shape.

Coutinho in Barcelona to tie up third-richest transfer

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Barcelona (AFP) – Brazilian midfielder Philippe Coutinho is expected in Barcelona Sunday to tie up a 160-million-euro ($192 million) move from Liverpool, the third-richest deal of all time.

“Bem-vindo! Welcome! Benvingut! ¡Bienvenido!” Barca tweeted to Coutinho along with a waving hand sign and a video showing a shirt bearing his name in a locker.

Bernardeschi keeps Juventus on Napoli’s heels

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Milan (AFP) – Fernando Bernardeschi scored the only goal as champions Juventus kept Serie A leaders Napoli in their sights with a 1-0 win over Cagliari in Sardinia on Saturday.

Napoli cemented their position in top spot before Italy’s two-week winter break with 51 points from 20 games after seeing off Verona 2-0.

Everton’s Mirallas heads for Olympiakos

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Piraeus (Greece) (AFP) – Greek champions Olympiakos announced Saturday that they have come to an agreement with English side Everton for the return of Belgium international winger Kevin Mirallas.

No details of the deal were announced by the club but Greek media reported that Everton will loan the 30-year-old player for six months at a cost of 3 million euros.

Liverpool offer fans compensation on Coutinho shirts

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Liverpool (AFP) – Liverpool will offer supporters who bought shirts bearing the name of Philippe Coutinho a £50 (56.4 euro) voucher to help offset the impact on fans of the Brazilian’s move to Barcelona.

The 25-year-old star, who had agitated for a move away from Anfield since last summer, finally got his wish on Saturday when the two clubs agreed a deal worth 160 million euros ($192 million).

Barcelona sign 160-million-euro Coutinho in 3rd richest deal

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Barcelona (AFP) – Philippe Coutinho finally got his wish on Saturday when Barcelona agreed to sign the Brazilian star from Liverpool for 160 million euros ($192 million) in the third richest deal of all time.

“Barcelona and Liverpool have reached an agreement for the transfer of Philippe Coutinho.

Hughes sacked as Stoke manager after Cup exit

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London (AFP) – Mark Hughes was sacked as Stoke manager just hours after his struggling side’s shock FA Cup third round defeat at minnows Coventry on Saturday.

Hughes was already on the brink of being dismissed prior to the 2-1 loss at fourth-tier Coventry following a miserable run that left the team languishing in the Premier League relegation zone.

Conte brands Mourinho ‘a little man’ as feud escalates

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London (AFP) – Antonio Conte labelled Jose Mourinho “a little man” as the Chelsea manager’s feud with the Manchester United boss escalated following his team’s FA Cup goalless draw against Norwich on Saturday.

Conte and Mourinho have exchanged increasingly bitter barbs over the course of this season and their rivalry has reached boiling point over the last week.

Barcelona agree to sign Philippe Coutinho from Liverpool

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Barcelona (AFP) – Barcelona on Saturday announced that they had agreed to sign Brazilian star Philippe Coutinho from Liverpool in a deal reported to be worth up to 160 million euros ($192 million).

“Barcelona and Liverpool have reached an agreement for the transfer of Philippe Coutinho.

FA Cup misery could be a blessing says under-fire Hughes

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London (AFP) – Stoke manager Mark Hughes claimed his side’s embarrassing FA Cup third round defeat at minnows Coventry City could be a blessing in disguise, even though it left him in severe danger of the sack.

Hughes’ 200th game in charge of Stoke could prove to be his last after Jack Grimmer’s second half strike gave fourth tier Coventry a 2-1 win at the Ricoh Arena on Saturday.

Napoli cement top spot as Lazio’s Immobile hits four

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Milan (AFP) – Napoli cemented their position as Serie A leaders and kept the pressure on champions Juventus with a 2-0 win over Verona Saturday as Ciro Immobile scored four for Lazio in a 5-2 thriller at struggling SPAL.

Bottom club Benevento won just their second Serie A game by beating Sampdoria 3-2 while AC Milan and Genoa also had welcome wins in the final round of games before Italy’s two-week winter break.

Nouri’s family press Ajax over brain damage

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The Hague (AFP) – The family of Ajax midfielder Abdelhak Nouri, who suffered lasting brain damage after collapsing before a friendly in July, wants the club to clarify the level of support it will provide, Dutch media reported on Saturday.

At the request of the young footballer’s relatives, lawyer John Beer is investigating the circumstances of the incident.

Aguero lifts City in FA Cup, Hughes’ Stoke crash

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London (AFP) – Sergio Aguero fired Manchester City to a 4-1 win over Burnley in the FA Cup third round, while Mark Hughes is fighting to remain Stoke boss after a 2-1 loss at minnows Coventry on Saturday.

City boss Pep Guardiola named a strong team including Aguero, Leroy Sane and Raheem Sterling at Eastlands, but the runaway Premier League leaders fell behind in the 25th minute.

Aguero fires City’s FA Cup bid, Hughes under pressure as Stoke crash

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London (AFP) – Sergio Aguero fired Manchester City to a 4-1 win over Burnley in the FA Cup third round, while Stoke boss Mark Hughes is fighting to save his job after the Premier League strugglers suffered an embarrassing 2-1 defeat at minnows Coventry on Saturday.

City boss Pep Guardiola named a strong team including Aguero, Leroy Sane and Raheem Sterling at Eastlands, but the runaway Premier League leaders fell behind in the 25th minute.

Aguero double keeps Man City’s FA Cup hopes alive

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Manchester (United Kingdom) (AFP) – Sergio Aguero scored a quickfire brace in the second half as Manchester City maintained their interest in four trophies by beating Burnley 4-1 in the FA Cup third round at the Etihad Stadium on Saturday.

The Argentine striker helped rescue the tie for Pep Guardiola’s team after they trailed to Ashley Barnes’s first-half opener for their Premier League rivals.

FA to probe ‘allegation’ after Merseyside derby confrontation

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London (AFP) – The Football Association is to investigate an ugly spat between Liverpool’s Roberto Firmino and Everton’s Mason Holgate during Friday’s feisty FA Cup third-round tie at Anfield.

Referee Bobby Madley made reference to an allegation that had been reported to him, understood to be by the Everton defender on the pitch and Everton officials after the match, and the governing body will now take a look at the flashpoint.

Coutinho nears Barcelona move – reports

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Barcelona (AFP) – Barcelona and Liverpool have agreed a deal in principle for Philippe Coutinho to move to the Spanish giants in a deal worth up to 160 million euros ($192 million), reports in Spain said Saturday.

Barcelona-based Sport newspaper said Coutinho would join Barca this month on a contract for five seasons, although it said the details of the deal were still to be finalised.

Leicester escape with FA Cup draw against lower-league Fleetwood

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London (AFP) – Former Premier League champions Leicester City came within a whisker of suffering an FA Cup shock on Saturday but clung on to draw 0-0 at lower-league Fleetwood Town while Middlesbrough eliminated Sunderland.

The big news before kick-off was that Leicester’s star striker Jamie Vardy was denied an emotional return to his former club due to a groin injury while Riyad Mahrez was also missing from the teamsheet.

Mazzarri lifts Torino on Italy return

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Milan (AFP) – Former Watford boss Walter Mazzarri got off to a winning start as new Torino coach with a 3-0 home win over Bologna on Saturday.

Lorenzo De Silvestri, M’Baye Niang and Iago Falque all scored to seal a valuable three points for just the second time in Torino’s last nine matches.

From obscurity to superstar status, Coutinho’s rise is complete

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London (AFP) – When Philippe Coutinho joined Liverpool in 2013, the Brazil forward was so lightly regarded that his signing was overshadowed by the arrival of Daniel Sturridge at Anfield earlier that month.

But five years later, Coutinho has become such a formidable force that his departure will be mourned by Liverpool fans around the world if Barcelona complete their bid to land the Reds star in a blockbuster transfer that could reportedly be worth up to 160 million euros ($192 million).

Diego Costa sent off after scoring Atletico winner

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Madrid (AFP) – Atletico Madrid unleashed Diego Costa in La Liga on Saturday and the controversial centre-forward scored the winner before being sent off in a 2-0 home win over regional rivals Getafe.

Atletico’s transfer ban ended last week and Costa was playing his first league game since rejoining the Spanish club from Chelsea.

Costa sent off after scoring Atletico winner

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Madrid (AFP) – Atletico Madrid unleashed Diego Costa in La Liga on Saturday and the controversial centre-forward scored the winner before being sent off in a 2-0 home win over regional rivals Getafe.

Atletico’s transfer ban ended last week and Costa was playing his first league game since rejoining the Spanish club from Chelsea.

Coutinho misses Liverpool trip as Barcelona talk grows

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London (AFP) – Liverpool’s Philippe Coutinho has not travelled with the squad for a warm-weather training camp in Dubai as speculation intensifies about a renewed bid for the playmaker from Barcelona, reports said Saturday.

Britain’s Press Association (PA) said the Brazil international, currently sidelined with a thigh injury, was among a number of first-team players who stayed behind on Merseyside.

Bayern’s Heynckes rules out Vidal Chelsea move

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Doha (AFP) – Jupp Heynckes said Saturday there had been no contact between Bayern Munich and Chelsea over Arturo Vidal and the Chilean international would not be sold during the January transfer window.

The veteran coach was responding to media reports over a possible transfer of the midfielder, which Heynckes dismissed as “pure speculation”.

Liverpool to cooperate if FA probes Firmino-Holgate spat

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Liverpool (AFP) – Liverpool say they will cooperate with any probe arising out of an incident between forward Roberto Firmino and Everton’s Mason Holgate during the Reds’ 2-1 FA Cup win at Anfield on Friday.

The pair were involved in an angry exchange after the Toffees defender pushed the Brazilian into the front row of the Main Stand and words were exchanged that left the Everton player incensed.

Mourinho hits back at Conte, raises match-fixing

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Manchester (United Kingdom) (AFP) – Jose Mourinho intensified his war of words with Chelsea manager Antonio Conte in bizarre fashion after his team’s FA Cup victory over Derby on Friday, apparently referencing a match-fixing scandal in Italy.

The Manchester United manager was responding to comments made by Conte earlier in the day in which he appeared to make disparaging statements about Mourinho.

Van Dijk can get even better after dream start – Klopp

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Liverpool (AFP) – Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp believes Virgil van Dijk will get even better after he scored the winning goal against Everton in a “fairytale” Merseyside derby debut.

Van Dijk headed home six minutes from full-time to give Liverpool a 2-1 victory in their FA Cup third-round tie with the Toffees after Gylfi Sigurdsson had cancelled out James Milner’s opener from the penalty spot.

Coutinho set to join Barcelona – report

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Barcelona (AFP) – Barcelona and Liverpool have agreed a deal in principle to allow Philippe Coutinho to move to the Spanish giants for 120 million euros ($144 million), a report said Saturday.

Barcelona-based Sport newspaper said Coutinho would join Barca this month on a deal for five seasons, although it said the details of the deal were still to be finalised.

Simeone forces Inter to settle for draw in Florence

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Florence (Italy) (AFP) – Giovanni Simeone grabbed a late equaliser as Inter Milan saw their third place in Serie A threatened before the winter break with a frustrating 1-1 draw against Fiorentina on Friday.

Both goals on the night were scored by Argentinians with Inter skipper Mauro Icardi opening after 55 minutes on a rebound after Marco Sportiello saved his initial header.

Tevez leaves China, signs for Boca Juniors for 3rd time

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Paris (AFP) – Former Manchester United and Juventus striker Carlos Tevez agreed a move back to boyhood club Boca Juniors on Friday after 12 months in Chinese football with Shanghai Shenhua, the Argentine team announced.

“Tevez is coming home! He joined the team today and is already training with his teammates,” Boca said on its various social media accounts alongside a photo of the player working out in a gym.

Sheffield Wednesday appoint Luhukay as new boss

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London (AFP) – English Championship side Sheffield Wednesday on Friday announced the appointment of former Stuttgart boss Jos Luhukay as their new manager.

His arrival marks the end of a two-week search for a replacement for Carlos Carvalhal, who left the job on Christmas Eve and is now at Premier League outfit Swansea.

Guardiola pledges to protect lone fit striker Aguero

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Manchester (United Kingdom) (AFP) – Pep Guardiola says he will need to protect Sergio Aguero, Manchester City’s only fit central striker, over the coming weeks as the club fights for trophies on four fronts.

Guardiola has tended to rotate Aguero with Gabriel Jesus this season to keep both players fresh, but the Brazilian suffered knee ligament damage during City’s 0-0 draw at Crystal Palace on December 31 and is likely to be out of action until mid-February.

Van Dijk scores winner on Liverpool debut

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Liverpool (AFP) – Virgil van Dijk scored a dramatic late winner on his debut as Liverpool clinched a 2-1 victory over Everton in a heated Merseyside derby FA Cup tie at Anfield.

Liverpool had led 1-0 at the break after James Milner converted from the penalty spot but Everton looked to have secured a replay when Gylfi Sigurdsson equalised midway through the second half.

Lingard stunner propels Man Utd to FA Cup win

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Manchester (United Kingdom) (AFP) – Jesse Lingard’s latest wonder strike and substitute Romelu Lukaku’s late effort secured Manchester United a 2-0 victory over Derby in the third round of the FA Cup on Friday.

Both attempts, which came in the final six minutes, were worthy of a highlights package in the first FA Cup tie involving United in 13 years not to be televised live.

Forty injured as stadium barrier collapses at Gulf Cup final

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Kuwait City (AFP) – Around 40 people were injured Friday when a barrier collapsed at the Gulf Cup final in Kuwait, shortly after Oman beat the United Arab Emirates on penalties to claim the title.

In a statement posted by the Kuwaiti FA on Twitter, minister of state for youth affairs Khaled al-Roudhan was quoted as saying “around 40 people” had been injured the Sheikh Jaber al-Ahmad Stadium in Kuwait City, hospitalised for “minor injuries” likely after rushing towards the barrier to celebrate with their players.

Tevez close to Boca Juniors return: report

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Buenos Aires (AFP) – Former Manchester United and Juventus striker Carlos Tevez appears closer to a move back to boyhood club Boca Juniors after 12 months in Chinese football with Shanghai Shenhua, according to Argentine press reports Friday.

“It’s already a fact: Carlos Tevez is a Boca player once again,” La Nacion newspaper reported on its webpage.

Everton sign Turkey striker Cenk Tosun

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London (AFP) – Everton announced the signing of Turkey striker Cenk Tosun on a four-and-a-half-year deal worth a reported £27 million ($37 million, 30 million euros) on Friday.

The forward, who has scored 41 goals in 96 Turkish Super Lig games since the start of the 2014-15 season, said boss Sam Allardyce was a key factor in his decision to move to the Premier League.

Garcia named Olympiakos coach

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Piraeus (Greece) (AFP) – Spanish coach Oscar Garcia will take over Olympiakos, replacing interim coach Takis Lemonis, the Greek champions announced on Friday.

While the club did not specify the duration of Garcia’s contract, Greek media reported that he signed for 18 months with the option to extend the contract should both sides agree.

Tommasi eyes Italian FA presidency after World Cup woe

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Rome (AFP) – Former Italy international Damiano Tommasi officially announced his candidacy Friday for the presidency of the Italian Football Federation (FIGC).

The 43-year-old former AS Roma midfielder, now head of the Italian Players’ Union, had been touted among the possible successors to Carlo Tavecchio.

Eleven injured as stadium barrier collapses at Gulf Cup final

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Kuwait City (AFP) – Eleven people were injured Friday when a barrier collapsed at the Gulf Cup final in Kuwait, shortly after Oman beat the United Arab Emirates on penalties to claim the title.

Sattam al-Sahli, head of communications for the 23rd Gulf Cup, told AFP they had been hospitalised for “minor injuries” after falling from an elevated platform in the Sheikh Jaber al-Ahmad Stadium in Kuwait City when the barrier collapsed.

Wenger compares George Weah’s life to film script

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London (AFP) – Arsene Wenger has compared the life of George Weah to a film script following his former player’s election as president of Liberia.

Weah, who played for Monaco, Paris Saint-Germain and AC Milan during a glittering career, last week secured a stunning run-off victory in the West African country’s first democratic transfer of power in decades.

Everton’s Barkley completes Chelsea switch

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London (AFP) – Ross Barkley has completed his widely anticipated move from Everton to Chelsea, the reigning Premier League Champions announced on Friday.

The 24-year-old England midfielder has signed a five-and-a-half-year contract and will wear the number eight shirt.

“I’m overwhelmed, I’m looking forward to it and I’m really excited to get started,” said Barkley.

Wenger banned for three-matches over ref comments

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London (AFP) – Arsene Wenger has been handed a three-match touchline ban and fined by the Football Association over comments he made about the refereeing of Sunday’s Premier League game against West Brom.

In a separate case, the Arsenal boss has also been asked by English football’s governing body to provide his observations on what he said about penalty decisions that went against the Gunners in both of their last two matches over the festive period, against the Baggies and Chelsea.

Wenger banned for three games over ref comments

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London (AFP) – Arsene Wenger was on Friday handed a three-match touchline ban and fined by the Football Association over comments he made about the refereeing of Sunday’s Premier League game against West Brom.

In a separate case, the Arsenal boss has also been asked by English football’s governing body to provide his observations on what he said about penalty decisions that went against the Gunners in each of their past two matches over the festive period, against the Baggies and Chelsea.

Sneijder to join Qatar club Al Gharafa

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Doha (AFP) – Former Real Madrid and Inter star Wesley Sneijder is to sign for mid-table Qatari league side Al Gharafa, the club announced on Friday.

A statement on the team’s official social media said a deal was in place for the Dutch veteran, who most recently played in France’s Ligue 1 with Nice.

Conte questions Mourinho’s sanity after ‘clown’ barbs

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London (AFP) – Chelsea boss Antonio Conte suggested on Friday that Jose Mourinho has “senile dementia” and that the Manchester United manager is still focused on events at Stamford Bridge two years after he was sacked.

Mourinho, who had two spells as Chelsea boss and is Conte’s immediate predecessor, appeared to take a swipe at the Italian - and Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp - for their antics in the technical area on Thursday, when he said he did not feel the need to behave like “a clown” on the touchline.

AC Milan coach Gattuso looking at frugal January

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Milan (AFP) – AC Milan coach Gennaro Gattuso said on Friday that the under-pressure club were looking at a frugal January transfer window after their summer spending spree failed to turn their ailing fortunes around.

“No player has asked to leave, the owners know that I’m okay,” said Gattuso on the eve of Saturday’s Serie A game against Crotone before the two-week winter break in Italy.

Pep says City would need huge squad to win quadruple

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Manchester (United Kingdom) (AFP) – Pep Guardiola said on Friday that Manchester City would need more than 30 senior players on top form to stand any chance of winning an unprecedented quadruple.

The City manager has said repeatedly that he believes there is no chance of his side winning the Champions League, Premier League, FA Cup and League Cup this season.

Sergio Ramos could miss two to three weeks

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Madrid (AFP) – Real Madrid defender Sergio Ramos could miss two to three weeks, Spanish media estimated, after the club said on Friday that he has a calf injury.

“He has been diagnosed with a muscular tear of the left soleus muscle,” Real Madrid said in a statement, adding that “his recovery will continue to be assessed.

FA Cup specialists Arsenal fancied to see off Forest

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FA Cup holders Arsenal head to Nottingham Forest on Sunday hoping to take the first step on the road back to Wembley next May.

The Gunners have won the competition three times in the last four years, but their form in the Premier League continues to be frustrating.

They needed a 92nd minute equaliser to draw 2-2 at home to Chelsea on Wednesday and are sixth in the table, five points adrift of the top four and stuggling to qualify for the Champions League once again.

Where to find Liverpool vs. Everton FA Cup game on US TV and streaming

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If you’re trying to find out how you can watch Liverpool vs. Everton in the FA Cup 3rd Round, you’ve come to the right place.

The Merseyside derby is the first match of the FA Cup 3rd Round as Liverpool hosts Everton at Anfield in what should be a very interesting encounter between the two sides.

Messi can quit Barca, if Catalonia leaves Spain

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Barcelona (AFP) – Lionel Messi has ensured he could become a free agent if Barcelona no longer plays in a major European league as a result of Catalan independence, Spanish media wrote on Friday.

According to a report in Madrid daily El Mundo, the contract Messi signed last November includes a clause that he must remain a Barcelona player only as long as the club is playing in “a top-level European league.

World Cup 2018 bracket: Free PDF download features kickoff times and TV info

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World Soccer Talk has created a bracket for the 2018 FIFA World Cup that is a free, printable download.

The most eagerly-anticipated sports tournament of 2018 will be hosted in Russia from June 14 to July 15. Featuring 32 of the best national soccer teams from around the world, the competition will be the 21st World Cup, and will be the first World Cup held in Europe since 2006.

City players unfazed by fixture pile-up

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Manchester (United Kingdom) (AFP) – Manchester City’s players do not appear to share manager Pep Guardiola’s concern about a congested fixture list as they prepare to host Burnley in the third round of the FA Cup on Saturday.

Guardiola is worried that City have more matches than they can cope with as they compete for success in four competitions.

Tottenham won’t lose top four battle, vows Pochettino

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London (AFP) – Mauricio Pochettino insists he isn’t concerned about Tottenham missing out on a top four finish in the Premier League despite their damaging 1-1 draw against West Ham.

Pochettino’s side had to settle for a point in Thursday’s London derby at Wembley after missing a host of chances as they failed to turn their domination into goals.

French Cup kings PSG wait for January transfer moves

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Paris (AFP) – Paris Saint-Germain play their first game in 2018 as they begin their quest to win the French Cup for the fourth year running with a trip to Rennes on Sunday.

PSG may have missed out to Monaco for the Ligue 1 title last season but they won both domestic cups. Indeed, they have won 33 consecutive domestic cup ties going back four years.

Costa’s sizzling return reignites Atletico Madrid

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Madrid (AFP) – Diego Costa’s return to Atletico Madrid began in typically explosive fashion on Wednesday night, and his second spell in La Liga has raised hopes that his new team might challenge runaway leaders Barcelona.

Costa swept home his first Atletico goal since leaving the club for Chelsea in 2014 just five minutes into his first appearance since May, scoring Atletico’s third in a 4-0 hammering of third-tier Lleida Esportiu in the Copa Del Rey and showing the goalscoring prowess that Diego Simeone’s side have lacked all season.

Wenger sticking to his guns in penalty row

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London (AFP) – Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger remains unrepentant over recent comments about penalty decisions against the Gunners after the FA asked the Frenchman to clarify his position.

“I maintain what I said in the press conference - 100 per cent,” Wenger said.

“I try to serve this game with honesty and integrity and when I have something to say I will say it.

Wantaway Tevez poised to end miserable China spell

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Shanghai (AFP) – Carlos Tevez looks poised to end his miserable 12-month spell in China with the Argentine former international in talks with his club Shanghai Shenhua to terminate his mammoth contract.

It would allow the forward to seal a rumoured return to Boca Juniors, the club he left to join Shenhua in January 2017 on an estimated 730,000 euros a week, some of the highest wages in football.

Real close in on signing Bilbao goalie Kepa

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Madrid (AFP) – Goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga has passed his medical at Real Madrid and is set to complete his 20 million euros ($24 million) transfer from Bilbao, Spanish media reported on Friday.

The move had been thrown into doubt by a badly timed injury for the 23 year old, but Spanish sports media reported that the medical allayed any worries and that Kepa’s agent and Real were meeting to put the finishing touches to a contract, which could be for six years.

Torino boss Mazzarri happy to swap Watford for Italy

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Turin (Italy) (AFP) – New Torino boss Walter Mazzarri said Friday he was excited to be back coaching in Italy after just one season spent as manager of English club Watford.

“I chose to come back to Italy because I think it’s the ideal environment for me. When I entered the Filadelfia (Torino Stadium) I got goosebumps,” Mazzarri told his first press conference.

Salah wins African Player of the Year award

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Accra (AFP) – Prolific Liverpool scorer Mohamed Salah was named African Player of the Year in Ghanaian capital Accra on Thursday, the first Egyptian to win the award since Mahmoud al Khatib in 1983.

The 25-year-old has scored 23 goals in 29 matches in all competitions this season for the Premier League outfit after moving from AS Roma in the summer.

Olympiakos release coach Lemonis after fourth spell

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Piraeus (Greece) (AFP) – Greek champions Olympiakos released interim coach Takis Lemonis on Thursday with media reports expected to announce the hiring of Spanish coach Oscar Garcia.

“Takis Lemonis took over the team in special circumstances and we thank him for his services,” said Olympiakos who added that he will be offered another post at the club.

Real spot on while Barcelona held to cup draw

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Madrid (AFP) – Two penalties helped Real Madrid to a healthy 3-0 win in the first leg of their Copa Del Rey tie with second-tier Numancia on Thursday, while Barcelona were held to a 1-1 draw as the La Liga giants rested their stars.

Gareth Bale was one of a handful of Real first-team regulars on display at the Estadio Los Pajaritos, and was on hand to slot home the first from the penalty spot ten minutes before the break after Lucas Vazques was clumsily brought down in the box by Carlos Gutierrez.

Son’s gem saves Spurs after Obiang stunner

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London (AFP) – Son Heung-Min’s stunning strike cancelled out Pedro Obiang’s thunderbolt as Tottenham salvaged a 1-1 draw against London rivals West Ham on Thursday.

Tottenham winger Son and West Ham midfielder Obiang staged their own goal of the season contest at Wembley with sublime efforts that will live long in the memory.

Salah goes from Chelsea flop to African king

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Accra (AFP) – It took Liverpool and Egypt star Mohamed Salah just three years to transform from a Chelsea reject to being crowned African Player of the Year in Ghana Thursday.

Salah failed to blossom after moving from Swiss outfit Basel to Stamford Bridge, leading to him being lent to Serie A sides Fiorentina and AS Roma, then sold to the latter.

Mourinho admits he loves hotel life in Manchester

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Manchester (United Kingdom) (AFP) – Jose Mourinho has laughed off the suggestion that his decision to live in a city centre hotel shows a lack of commitment to his role as manager of Manchester United.

The Portuguese coach was forced to confirm his continued desire to remain in charge at Old Trafford following reports that senior club officials are concerned he may be preparing to leave at the end of the season.

Top 50 most-attended soccer games in United States during 2017

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Photo credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

The year 2017 was full of positives for attendances at soccer matches throughout the United States.

First, it was another successful summer for the International Champions Cup. The annual soccer tournament had the three most-attended soccer games in the United States as well as six out of the top ten attendances nationwide.

New LA club spices 2018 MLS schedule

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New York (AFP) – Major League Soccer unveiled the complete match schedule for its 23rd season on Thursday, kicking off the 2018 campaign on March 3 and ending with the MLS Cup playoff final on December 8.

The North American league will add Los Angeles FC as its 23rd club with the first of three derby matches against the five-time MLS champion Los Angeles Galaxy set for March 31.

Prosinecki to become Bosnia’s national coach

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Sarajevo (AFP) – Former Croatia star Robert Prosinecki was appointed as the new coach of Bosnia’s national team on Thursday, replacing Mehmed Bazdarevic following his failure in World Cup qualifiers.

The 49-year old was picked “unanimously” by the Bosnia Football Federation’s executive committee, its vice president Milorad Sofrenic told reporters.

Diego Forlan joins Hong Kong club Kitchee

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Hong Kong (AFP) – Former Uruguay star Diego Forlan is to continue his career in Hong Kong, with the best player at the 2010 World Cup agreeing to join Kitchee SC, the club revealed on Thursday.

Kitchee posted a picture on Instagram with the club’s badge and the slogan “Welcome Forlan”, with the move also being widely reported by Uruguayan media.

What we love and hate about soccer broadcasts: World Soccer Talk Podcast

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World Soccer Talk is the weekly soccer podcast on the topic of watching soccer on TV, online and apps.

In the NEW episode, number 55, Kartik Krishnaiyer and Christopher Harris cover a range of topics including:

• A discussion about what we love (and hate) to see in soccer TV broadcasts,

• Exciting news for Arsenal and Chelsea fans,

• Our opinions about the Festive Fixtures on NBC Sports,

• Good news for Univision Deportes and Telemundo Deportes,

• Plus feedback and questions from you in the Listener Mailbag section.

FA asks Wenger to explain referee comments

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London (AFP) – The Football Association on Thursday asked Arsene Wenger to clarify remarks about penalties given against his side made before and after Arsenal’s Premier League game with Chelsea.

Wenger complained about two spot-kick decisions given against the Gunners, the first awarded to West Brom on Sunday and the second given to Chelsea on Wednesday.

Mourinho dismisses Man Utd exit talk

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Manchester (United Kingdom) (AFP) – Jose Mourinho has dismissed reports he may walk out on Manchester United this summer as “garbage”, saying he sees himself staying long-term at the Premier League giants.

The United boss was in defiant mood when quizzed about his future ahead of Friday’s FA Cup tie with Derby, with morning reports saying club officials fear he is disenchanted with life at the club.

Torino appoint former Watford coach Mazzarri

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Turin (Italy) (AFP) – Former Inter Milan and Watford coach Walter Mazzarri was handed the reins at Torino on Thursday after the Serie A side sacked Sinisa Mihajlovic.

Mihajlovic was fired following Torino’s 2-0 Italian Cup defeat to holders Juventus, allowing the experienced 56-year-old to take over the northern side.

Chelsea-Arsenal League Cup semi-final moved to ESPN2

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The first-leg of the League Cup semi-final featuring Chelsea against Arsenal has been moved to ESPN2 for viewers in the United States.

So far this season, all of the League Cup games have been featured on ESPN3. But on Wednesday, January 10, viewers in the States will be able to watch the first leg of the semi-final on ESPN2.

Wenger rages at ‘farcical’ penalty, vows to fight charge

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London (AFP) – Arsene Wenger slammed the “farcical” penalty decision that cost Arsenal in their thrilling 2-2 draw against Chelsea and vowed to fight a Football Association charge in his latest furious attack on the authorities.

Wenger was seething after referee Anthony Taylor awarded a penalty for Hector Bellerin’s challenge on Eden Hazard in the second half of Wednesday’s heated London derby at the Emirates Stadium.

Klopp juggles Coutinho, Salah, Van Dijk for Everton tie

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Liverpool (AFP) – Mohamed Salah’s fitness, Philippe Coutinho’s future and Virgil van Dijk’s arrival are the three key issues facing Liverpool as they prepare to host neighbours Everton in the FA Cup’s outstanding third-round tie on Friday.

Salah, Liverpool’s 23-goal top scorer, missed Monday’s 2-1 Premier League victory at Burnley because of a groin injury, and manager Jurgen Klopp has indicated that he remains a doubt.

PSG football club lure in fans with escape games

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Paris (AFP) – Paris Saint-Germain are making the idea that football is part of the entertainment industry central to their strategy as they strive to become a “global brand” and attract new fans.

In pursuit of the worldwide ambitions of their Qatari owners, PSG are not just recruiting global football stars such as Neymar, but are also multiplying partnerships outside sport and moving into music, fashion, cinema, e-Sport and even “escape games”.

Former England defender Cole rejoins MLS Galaxy

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Los Angeles (AFP) – Former England defender Ashley Cole, a long-time Premier League star with Arsenal and Chelsea, has signed a one-year deal to remain with the Los Angeles Galaxy, the Major League Soccer club announced Wednesday.

The 37-year-old left back has 55 Galaxy appearances over two seasons, scoring one goal and setting up two others in 29 games for Los Angeles last season.

Man City top financial firepower list

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London (AFP) – Premier League leaders Manchester City have more financial muscle than any other club in world football, according to a study that sees English clubs dominate the top 10.

The Soccerex Football Finance 100, which ranks the world’s top teams based on both their playing and fixed assets, money in the bank, owner potential investment and debt, was published on Wednesday.

Wenger fumes after Arsenal hit by fresh penalty pain

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London (AFP) – Arsene Wenger launched a scathing attack on referee Anthony Taylor after Arsenal suffered fresh penalty pain in their dramatic 2-2 draw with Chelsea on Wednesday.

Wenger has been charged by the Football Association for his furious protests following a penalty given for handball by Arsenal’s Calum Chambers in Sunday’s draw at West Bromwich Albion.

Holders Juventus into Italian Cup semi-finals

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Turin (Italy) (AFP) – Douglas Costa and Mario Mandzukic scored in either half as defending champions Juventus advanced to the semi-finals of the Italian Cup on Wednesday with a 2-0 win over city rivals Torino.

Brazilian Costa opened after quarter of an hour in the Allianz Stadium with Croatian Mandzukic adding the second amid controversy on 69 minutes to set up a meeting with Atalanta, who eliminated Serie A leaders Napoli 2-1 on Tuesday, in the final four.

‘Happy’ Costa scores on Atletico Madrid return in cup rout

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Madrid (AFP) – Diego Costa scored for Atletico Madrid just five minutes into his return as the club cruised to a 4-0 win at Lleida Esportiu in the Spanish Copa Del Rey on Wednesday.

Costa, who rejoined from Chelsea in September but could not play until the transfer window opened this month, came on as a 64th-minute substitute and swept home Atletico’s third goal in the 69th minute in the first leg of a last 16 tie.

Signing off – Valdes heads for private life after football

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Madrid (AFP) – Former Barcelona and Spain goalkeeper Victor Valdes has marked the end of his football career by closing down his social media accounts, hinting at a very private retirement.

Valdes, who starred for Barcelona between 2002-2014 and last appeared for Middlesbrough in England seven months ago, pulled the plug on his Twitter and Instagram feeds.

Bellerin strikes late to rescue Arsenal in Chelsea thriller

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London (AFP) – Hector Bellerin came to Arsenal’s rescue as the defender’s last-gasp strike earned a dramatic 2-2 draw in a heated London derby against Chelsea on Wednesday.

Bellerin looked set to be the villain of the piece for Arsenal after the Spaniard’s foul on Eden Hazard conceded a penalty that allowed the Chelsea star to cancel out Jack Wilshere’s opener.

Costa scores on Atletico Madrid return in cup rout

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Madrid (AFP) – Diego Costa scored for Atletico Madrid just five minutes into his return as the club cruised to a 4-0 win at Lleida Esportiu in the Spanish Copa Del Rey on Wednesday.

Costa, who rejoined from Chelsea in September but could not play until the transfer window opened this month, came on as a 64th-minute substitute and swept home Atletico’s third in the 69th minute in the first leg of a last 16 tie.

Verona fined 20,000 euros for Matuidi racist abuse

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Rome (AFP) – Serie A club Verona have been fined 20,000 euros ($24,000) for racist chants by their fans toward Juventus midfielder Blaise Matuidi last weekend.

The abuse of the French international took place as he opened the scoring six minutes into the game which the six-time reigning champions won 3-1.

Premier League game on NBC breaks million viewers for 6th week in row

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For the sixth week in a row, a Premier League match on NBC Sports has broken the one million viewer mark.

Premier League matches have broken the 1 million viewer mark for six consecutive weeks across NBC’s networks starting with Liverpool’s match against Chelsea on November 25, which averaged 1.

Coutinho? I prefer my players, says Barcelona coach Valverde

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Barcelona (AFP) – Barcelona coach Ernesto Valverde shrugged off speculation over an imminent swoop for Liverpool star Philippe Coutinho on Wednesday by insisting: “I prefer the players I currently have in the team.”

Brazilian international forward Coutinho has been linked with a 150 million euro (£134 million; $180 million) switch to the Spanish giants in the current transfer window just as he was when the English side thwarted a series of approaches from Barca last summer.

South African champions Wits release Pienaar

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Johannesburg (AFP) – Former Everton, Tottenham Hotspur and Sunderland midfielder Steven Pienaar was freed by South African champions Wits Wednesday after failing to make an impact in seven months at the club.

The 35-year-old former national team star made only four starts and six appearances off the bench in 18 Premiership and League Cup matches before the mid-season December break.

Livermore reacted to West Ham fan’s abuse of dead son: club

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London (AFP) – England midfielder Jake Livermore climbed into the crowd to confront a West Ham fan over a remark he made regarding the player’s baby son who died in 2014, his club West Bromnwish Albion said in a statement on Wednesday.

The fan - who has been identified by the London club - was ejected soon after the incident whilst Livermore, who had just been substituted, had to be escorted down the tunnel.

Italy’s Barella extends Cagliari deal

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Cagliari (Italy) (AFP) – Sought-after Cagliari midfielder Nicolo Barella has extended his contract with the Serie A side until 2022, the club confirmed on Wednesday.

The 20-year-old, who received his first call-up to the Italian national team last October, had been linked with top Serie A clubs Juventus, Roma and Inter Milan.

David Silva absence explained by prematurely-born baby boy

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London (AFP) – Manchester City’s Spanish international forward David Silva missed four matches recently because his prematurely-born baby son is fighting for his life, he revealed on Wednesday.

The 31-year-old - who returned to the runaway Premier League leaders starting line-up for Tuesday’s 3-1 win over Watford - thanked everyone for their support on his twitter account @21LVA.

Where to find Arsenal vs. Chelsea on US TV and streaming

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If you’re trying to find out how you can watch Arsenal vs. Chelsea in the Premier League, you’ve come to the right place.

Arsenal are still reeling from an officiating error in their last game against West Brom. In addition to that, they face the prospect of three defenders missing out on this game (Koscielny, Monreal and Kolasinac) due to injury.

Guardiola fears City stars in danger over fixture pile-up

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Manchester (United Kingdom) (AFP) – Pep Guardiola saw Manchester City return to winning ways at the end of the Premier League’s exhausting holiday schedule, but warned the English game is in danger of destroying its top stars.

City beat Watford 3-1 on Tuesday, 48 hours after the leaders saw their 18-game winning streak come to an end in a draw at Crystal Palace.

Tiredness won’t be a factor against Hammers — Pochettino

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Swansea (United Kingdom) (AFP) – Mauricio Pochettino does not believe fatigue will be an issue for Tottenham when they face West Ham in Thursday’s London derby.

Pochettino’s side will host their rivals at Wembley just 48 hours after their 2-0 victory at Swansea on Tuesday, which lifted the visitors above Arsenal into fifth place in the Premier League

An opening goal from former Swansea striker Fernando Llorente that appeared offside and a late strike from Dele Alli made it six victories in seven matches for Tottenham in all competitions.

Japan pin-up Uchida returns home after Germany spell

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Tokyo (AFP) – Japan defender Atsuto Uchida is set to complete a return to Kashima Antlers after a seven-year spell in Germany, the J-League club said Wednesday.

The 29-year-old fan favourite, who has struggled with injury over the past two seasons, joined Bundesliga side Schalke in 2010 before moving to second-tier Union Berlin last summer.

BBC drops football pundit Sinclair after he admits racial abuse

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London (AFP) – Former England international Trevor Sinclair has been dropped as a football pundit by the BBC after he racially abused a policeman who arrested him for drink-driving.

Sinclair, 44, was ordered on Tuesday to do 150 hours’ community service and given a 20-month drink-driving ban after being found to be twice over the legal limit.

Exuberant Conte seeks respite in yoga

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London (AFP) – Chelsea manager Antonio Conte is renowned for his livewire touchline behaviour, sometimes diving into the crowd when his side score, and he has revealed that he finds relaxation in yoga.

The 48-year-old Italian has apparently alienated some members of the Chelsea dressing room with his demanding training sessions but has admitted that even he needs to take a break himself, especially over the busy holiday period.

Aguero content to see out contract at City

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London (AFP) – Sergio Aguero says he would like to see out his present contract with runaway Premier League leaders Manchester City which runs until 2020.

The 29-year-old Argentinian striker had been rumoured to be unhappy at not always being a first-choice starter.

However, he looks set for a long run in the starting line-up with Brazil youngster Gabriel Jesus suffering a knee ligament injury in Sunday’s 0-0 draw with Crystal Palace.

Besiktas deny agreement with Everton for Tosun sale

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Istanbul (AFP) – The chairman of Turkish champions Besiktas on Wednesday said there was still no deal with English Premier League side Everton for the highly rated Turkish international striker Cenk Tosun.

Everton have reportedly been in intense talks in recent days to sign Tosun for a deal worth some 30 million euros ($40.

BBC drop football pundit Trevor Sinclair after racial abuse

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London (AFP) – Former England international Trevor Sinclair has been dropped as a football pundit by the BBC after he racially abused a policeman who arrested him for drink-driving.

Sinclair, 44, was ordered on Tuesday to do 150 hours’ community service and given a 20-month drink-driving ban after being found to be twice over the legal limit.

West Brom’s Livermore in alleged fan row

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London (AFP) – West Bromwich Albion midfielder Jake Livermore was involved in an alleged row with West Ham fans during his side’s 2-1 defeat on Tuesday.

England international Livermore, who had been substituted during the second half, had to be escorted down the tunnel following the incident.

Refs stuck in 1950s, Wenger says

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London (AFP) – Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has slammed Premier League referees by claiming they are stuck in the 1950s.

In a lengthy blast at the game’s authorities, Wenger also called for the handball rule to be changed after the controversial late penalty conceded by Arsenal’s Calum Chambers in Sunday’s draw at West Bromwich Albion.

Quick-fire City back in the groove, Llorente fires Spurs

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London (AFP) – Raheem Sterling scored the fastest goal of the Premier League season as leaders Manchester City got back on track with a 3-1 win against Watford on Tuesday, while Fernando Llorente put Tottenham on course for a 2-0 victory at his former club Swansea.

Sterling struck after just 38 seconds before Christian Kabasele’s first-half own goal put Pep Guardiola’s side in control at Eastlands.

City take express route as leaders sink Watford

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Manchester (United Kingdom) (AFP) – Manchester City bounced back quickly after their 18-game winning streak come to an end, beating Watford 3-1 on Tuesday to establish a 15-point lead in the Premier League.

After City were held to a goalless draw by Crystal Palace 48 hours earlier, prolific Raheem Sterling scored quickly and Sergio Aguero added another as City continued their unbeaten league campaign with the minimum of effort at Eastlands.

Serie A leaders Napoli out of Italian Cup

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Rome (AFP) – Serie A leaders Napoli crashed out of the Italian Cup when a weakened side was beaten 2-1 at home by Atalanta in the quarter-finals on Tuesday.

Napoli coach Maurizio Sarri made a host of changes but did select Marek Hamsik, who recently became the club’s all-time top scorer, but the Slovak was anonymous and was replaced by Lorenzo Insigne after an hour.

Llorente returns to haunt Swansea as Spurs cruise

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Swansea (United Kingdom) (AFP) – Tottenham striker Fernando Llorente returned to haunt Swansea and Dele Alli added a late second as Mauricio Pochettino’s side won 2-0 on Tuesday to rise to fifth in the Premier League.

Former Swansea star Llorente’s 12th minute opener should have been ruled out for offside.

Russian doping whistleblower free to pass evidence to FIFA

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Paris (AFP) – Whistleblower Grigory Rodchenkov, who says he has information on doping in Russian football, is now free from legal restraints and can give evidence to FIFA, the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) told AFP on Tuesday.

“The fact is that Dr. Rodchenkov has only recently become available to testify in legal proceedings being undertaken by IFs (international federations), which he was unable to do previously due to restrictions put in place by US law enforcement as a result of an ongoing investigation in the United States,” a WADA spokeswoman explained.

Egypt football fans sentenced to jail

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Cairo (AFP) – An Egypt court has sentenced to jail 28 football fans for paying tribute to dozens killed in stadium riots five years ago, accusing them of “incitement”, official sources said Tuesday.

Judicial and security sources said the 28 Al Ahly club fans wore T-shirts bearing messages “offending the state and inciting rioting” during a match in October against Tunisian club Etoile du Sahel.

Irish footballer wins a million euros in lottery

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London (AFP) – Preston defender Kevin O’Connor has struck it rich after winning one million euros ($1.2 million) in the Irish lottery.

Former Republic of Ireland Under-21 international O’Connor landed the winning ticket in the National Lottery Christmas Millionaire Raffle on New Year’s Eve.

Barcelona’s Dembele set for Copa del Rey comeback

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Barcelona (AFP) – Barcelona striker Ousmane Dembele, who has been sidelined since September, has been cleared to make his comeback in Thursday’s Copa del Rey clash against Celta Vigo.

The French international has not played since tearing his hamstring at Getafe on September 16, just three games into his Barca career following a 105-million-euro ($124 million) move from Borussia Dortmund that could rise to as much as 145 million euros.

Iran defender Hajsafi signs for Greece’s Olympiakos

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Piraeus (Greece) (AFP) – Iran defender Ehsan Hajsafi, who helped his country reach this year’s World Cup finals, formally signed for Greek champions Olympiakos on Tuesday.

Hajsafi, 27, has made 89 appearances for Iran and scored six goals for his country.

At club level he played the first half of the current season with another Greek side, Panionios, and has previously played for Iranian clubs Sepahan and Tractor Sazi as well as German lower-leaue club FSV Frankfurt.

Huddersfield take Monaco’s Kongolo on loan

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London (AFP) – Huddersfield signed Netherlands defender Terence Kongolo on loan from Monaco on Tuesday.

Kongolo only joined Monaco from Feyenoord last year, but he will spend the rest of the season in the Premier League.

Huddersfield manager David Wagner expects the 23-year-old, who played six times for Monaco this term, to prove a valuable addition as his team try to avoid relegation.

Conte says he won’t sell unless replacements bought in

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London (AFP) – Antonio Conte will not countenance selling any players unless there are replacements brought in, the Chelsea manager said on Tuesday.

The 48-year-old Italian’s comments may not be music to Brazil central defender David Luiz’s ears as he has played just once since October, although Conte has insisted it is not because of a falling out but due to a knee injury.

Liverpool’s Flanagan admits assaulting girlfriend

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London (AFP) – Liverpool defender Jon Flanagan admitted on Tuesday a charge of assaulting his girlfriend last month and will be sentenced on January 17.

The 25-year-old, who spent last year on loan with Burnley, was captured on CCTV footage in Liverpool city centre beating and kicking Rachael Wall, his girlfriend of 18 months.

McClaren up for new challenge after Spanish lesson in Israel

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London (AFP) – Former England manager Steve McClaren says he is ready to tackle another managerial post after learning a lot from a spell with Jordi Cruyff and his Spanish coaching team at Israeli side Maccabi Tel Aviv.

The 56-year-old Englishman - who has been linked with the vacancy at second-tier side Sheffield Wednesday - told Sky Sports News he returned to England after five months so as not to slip from the radar of potential employers.

Wenger charged by FA over West Brom outburst

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London (AFP) – Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has been charged by the Football Association (FA) over his conduct following the 1-1 draw with West Bromwich Albion on Sunday, English football’s governing body announced Tuesday.

The 68-year-old Frenchman reacted furiously to referee Mike Dean’s decision to award a penalty to West Brom in the 89th minute for handball by Calum Chambers.

Mourinho lashes out at ‘critical’ Scholes

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Liverpool (AFP) – Jose Mourinho has lambasted former Manchester United midfielder Paul Scholes after he criticised the manager and key players in his role as a TV pundit.

Scholes singled out Paul Pogba, the club’s record signing, after his anonymous performance in the weekend draw with Southampton.

Design flaws leave Arsenal, Chelsea with uncertain futures

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London (AFP) – Arsenal and Chelsea have been reduced to also-ran status by Manchester City’s blistering pace in the title race, but there is still a lot to learn when the London rivals clash at the Emirates Stadium on Wednesday.

With champions Chelsea lagging 14 points behind City and Arsenal sitting six points outside the top four, there’s clearly plenty of room for improvement in both teams.

Klopp quashes renewed talk of Coutinho sale

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Burnley (United Kingdom) (AFP) – Jurgen Klopp insists Philippe Coutinho was genuinely injured for Liverpool’s 2-1 win at Burnley as he laughed off talk of the Brazil forward joining Barcelona.

Coutinho missed Monday’s Premier League fixture at Turf Moor with a thigh injury amid a backdrop of speculation over a move to the Nou Camp in the January transfer window.

Man City’s Jesus faces long lay-off with ligament injury

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London (AFP) – Manchester City striker Gabriel Jesus could be facing up to three months on the sidelines after the club revealed he had suffered a knee ligament injury in Sunday’s draw with Crystal Palace.

The 20-year-old Brazilian - who sat out two months of last season with a metatarsal injury - will undergo a scan to ascertain the severity of the ligament damage.

Wenger promises Sanchez, Ozil would be replaced by class acts

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London (AFP) – Arsene Wenger moved to allay the fears of Arsenal fans on Tuesday saying he would replace both Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Ozil with world-class players should they end up leaving.

Both Sanchez, who came close to moving to Manchester City on the final day of the last transfer window in August, and Ozil’s contracts are up at the end of the present season.

Puel to ask Mahrez to clarify future

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London (AFP) – Leicester City’s Algerian star Riyad Mahrez is to be asked by club manager Claude Puel where he believes his future lies.

The 26-year-old’s performance in the 3-0 Premier League win over Huddersfield Town on Monday, in which he opened the scoring and set up Islam Slimani for the second, had Puel purring.

Salah named Arab football player of the year

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Cairo (AFP) – Liverpool and Egypt striker Mohamed Salah was named Arab Player of the Year for 2017 on Monday in a poll of around 100 sports journalists from several Arab countries.

Salah, 25, has been an instant success at Liverpool since joining from AS Roma, scoring 17 goals in the Premier League already and 23 in all competitions.

Lingard beauty gives Manchester United New Year cheer

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Liverpool (AFP) – Jose Mourinho’s disappointing end to 2017 was quickly forgotten as goals from Anthony Martial and Jesse Lingard earned Manchester United an impressive 2-0 victory against Everton at Goodison Park on Monday.

The New Year’s Day win lifted United back into second place in the table, above Chelsea and, for 24 hours at least, to within 12 points of runaway Premier League leaders Manchester City.

Manchester United lift Mourinho, Liverpool leave it late

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London (AFP) – Manchester United put a smile back on Jose Mourinho’s face as fine goals from Anthony Martial and Jesse Lingard sealed a 2-0 win over Everton, while Liverpool left it late to snatch a 2-1 victory at Burnley on Monday.

Martial started in the absence of the injured Romelu Lukaku and the United forward broke the deadlock in the 57th minute at Goodison Park.

Lukaku out just one week says Mourinho

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London (AFP) – Manchester United striker Romelu Lukaku will be sidelined for just a single week following his head injury, according to Old Trafford boss Jose Mourinho on Monday.

Lukaku, who has scored 15 times this season, was stretchered off against Southampton on Saturday following a clash of heads with Wesley Hoedt.

Hughes defiant despite Stoke fans’ discontent

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London (AFP) – Mark Hughes says he is the best person to lead Stoke away from the relegation zone despite fans calling for his head after a 1-0 loss to Newcastle on Monday.

The 54-year-old former Wales and Manchester United striker - who numbers Manchester City among clubs he has managed - has seen his side slide to fifth from bottom with just one win in their last seven league matches.

Klavan’s historic goal edges Liverpool past Burnley

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Burnley (United Kingdom) (AFP) – Liverpool defender Ragnar Klavan scored a dramatic injury-time winner as the Reds consolidated their place in the Premier League’s top four with a 2-1 victory over Burnley on Monday.

Jurgen Klopp’s side had taken the lead just after the hour after a fine strike from Senegal forward Sadio Mane -– his eighth goal of the season - but Johann Berg Gudmundsson levelled three minutes from time with a diving header.

Klavan late show lifts Liverpool, Hughes under fire

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London (AFP) – Ragnar Klavan’s last-gasp goal gave Liverpool a dramatic 2-1 win at Burnley, while Stoke manager Mark Hughes faced calls for his sacking after a 1-0 defeat against Newcastle on Monday.

With Philippe Coutinho and Mohamed Salah missing due to thigh and groin injuries respectively and Roberto Firmino left on the bench, Sadio Mane was the lone member of Liverpool’s ‘Fab Four’ to start at rain-lashed Turf Moor.

FA Cup TV schedule for US viewers: 3rd Round; January 5-8

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The FA Cup TV schedule for viewers in the United States has been finalized. And, as in previous years, most of the supporters will be disappointed by the lack of TV and streaming coverage that’s available. Out of the 32 games scheduled, only 31% will be shown on television. Or, to look at it another different way, approximately 69% of fans who support teams that play in the FA Cup will be disappointed to find out that their club’s game isn’t being televised or streamed anywhere.

Injured Coutinho, Salah miss Liverpool’s Burnley clash

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Burnley (United Kingdom) (AFP) – Liverpool stars Philippe Coutinho and Mohamed Salah were missing from the starting line-up as the Reds travelled to Burnley for Monday’s Premier League clash.

Brazil forward Coutinho wasn’t risked after picking up a thigh injury, while Egypt winger Salah has suffered a groin problem.

January shopping list for Europe’s top clubs – Kepa for Madrid?

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Paris (AFP) – Liverpool’s £75 million ($100 million) splurge on Southampton’s Virgil van Dijk indicated that the English Premier League will again be where most money is spent in the January transfer window.

But some of Europe’s top clubs will be active this month looking to strengthen their squads for the run-in.

Sporting’s Silva signs for Leicester to end long-running saga

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London (AFP) – Portugal midfielder Adrien Silva says he tried to remain positive during a long saga which came to a happy end on Monday as he completed his move to Premier League side Leicester City.

The 28-year-old - capped 20 times and a member of the Portugal side that won Euro 2016 - has had to wait four months to complete the £22 million ($29.

Salah set to kick off African football year with award

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Johannesburg (AFP) – In a World Cup year, African football has plenty to look forward to, but it will open 2018 with a glance back at the achievements of one of its stars.

Liverpool’s Mohamed Salah is expected to be crowned African Player of the Year in Ghana on Thursday when the African Football Confederation (CAF) season kicks off.

Manchester City manager Guardiola pleads for player protection

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London (AFP) – Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola has demanded more protection for players after seeing Kevin De Bruyne narrowly avoid serious injury as his side’s 18-game winning streak came to an end.

De Bruyne was stretchered off after being hacked down by Crystal Palace’s Jason Puncheon as City broke in search of a late winner at Selhurst Park on Sunday following Ederson’s penalty save from Luka Milivojevic.

Schedulers are against us, Arsenal manager Wenger complains

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West Bromwich (United Kingdom) (AFP) – Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has hit out at the Premier League fixture schedulers who he claims have handed Chelsea a pre-match advantage ahead of their London derby on Wednesday.

Wenger launched a tirade against the fixture list and the standard of Premier League refereeing after his side were held to a 1-1 draw at West Bromwich Albion, with even Gunners legend Thierry Henry coming under fire from the Frenchman.