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Liverpool were beaten home and away by Diego Simeone's team in the Champions League Round of 16 last season

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp said on Monday that he was not a fan of Spanish side Atletico Madrid’s style of play but could not argue with their results on the pitch.

Liverpool, who were beaten home and away by Diego Simeone’s team in the Champions League Round of 16 last season, travel to Madrid on Tuesday to take on Atletico in the group stage.

Klopp, who criticised Atletico’s physically demanding and defensive style after Liverpool’s defeats, told reporters on Monday that those comments had stemmed from anger and disappointment, not a lack of respect for the Spanish team.

“After the second game I was angry and disappointed about a lot of things,” Klopp told a news conference.

“Life, a bit, as well as things going wrong in the world at that moment. We played against a team full of world class players and they defended with all they had.

“Diego Simeone is doing everything right, he is the Spanish champion and he has been at Atletico for a long time. He keeps them on their toes and they fight for their lives. I couldn’t respect it more.

“Do I like it? Not too much. But that’s because I like a different style of football. It just has to be successful and that is what Atletico is for sure.”

The German added that beating Atletico over both legs this season would likely seal Liverpool’s progress to the knockout rounds.

Klopp’s team are top of Group B on six points from two games, two points ahead of second-placed Atletico, while Porto are third with one point and AC Milan bottom without a point.

“If we win both games against Atletico it’s likely we go through,” Klopp added. “We lost both games last time though, so let’s see.

“I am not that positive to think we have this in the pocket. A tough place to go. The second leg (last season) was our toughest game in the toughest circumstances.

“We didn’t play well there last time but we learned a lot in the two games.

“Now the world is in a better place, not safe but a better place. They have changed some players but are not a weaker animal… We want a positive result and a positive performance.”

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Pep Guardiola was speaking on the eve of City's Champions League Group game at Club Brugge

Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola has encouraged players to get vaccinated against COVID-19 after the recent rise in cases in Britain.

On Sunday, Britain reported 45,140 new cases of COVID-19, the highest daily number since the middle of July, and 57 new deaths within 28 days of a positive test.

Guardiola did not comment on his squad’s vaccination status, saying it was “private”, but added that he and his family have been vaccinated.

“I have my own opinions, I trust the doctors and scientists. If they say it’s the best way to protect the people, you should do it,” Guardiola told a news conference on Monday on the eve of City’s Champions League Group game at Club Brugge.

“Myself and my family have done it. The doctors will talk with the players individually and after that they have to decide.

“We see in England how many deaths there still are and people get the virus and are suffering. We have to move forward, stay safe, be careful, use the masks, use the vaccines for better for the society and for themselves.”

Guardiola said goalkeeper Ederson and forward Gabriel Jesus could be in contention to face Brugge on Tuesday.

The Brazil internationals will meet up with the rest of the squad at the team hotel in Belgium, Guardiola added, as they would have had to spend 10 days in quarantine if they arrived in England after the international break.

City are third in Group A on three points from two games, one off Brugge, who are second on goal difference behind Paris St Germain.

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Cristiano Ronaldo was anonymous against Leicester

SALAH STAKES CLAIM TO BE WORLD’S BEST

Roberto Firmino may have bagged a hat-trick but it was the name of Mohamed Salah that was on everyone’s lips after Liverpool’s 5-0 thrashing of Watford that featured another wonder goal from the Egyptian.

Salah started with a sublime early pass to tee up Sadio Mane for the opening goal, but it was his second-half strike that stunned fans and re-ignited the discussion as to whether or not he is the best player in the world at the moment.

Surrounded by defenders, he somehow manoeuvred himself into a sliver of space before sending a defender the wrong way and firing the ball into the net for another stunning solo finish, leaving manager Juergen Klopp to declare him as the best player on the planet at the moment.

Encouragingly for Liverpool, all of their forward line got on the scoresheet but Salah following up his magnificent goal against Manchester City with this effort puts him in a class apart.

LEICESTER DEBACLE SHOWS MAN UNITED STILL A WORK IN PROGRESS

High-profile summer signings were expected to turn Manchester United into genuine Premier League title contenders this term but a draw and two defeats in their last three games suggest it will again be a tall order.

The 4-2 fiasco at Leicester City, who headed into the clash on the back of a four-game winless streak, exposed United’s weaknesses in all departments, most glaringly a vulnerable and error-prone defence.

The result will only have piled more pressure on manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, who has come under intense scrutiny from droves of fans.

With Jadon Sancho and Raphael Varane still finding their feet, Cristiano Ronaldo’s blistering return to United and the Premier League has faded in the last few games as he failed to make any impact against the Foxes.

The setback was only the start of a testing month for United as they clash with fellow heavyweights Manchester City and Liverpool while they also face Tottenham Hotspur and a Champions League doubleheader with Atalanta.

CHELSEA RING THE CHANGES AGAIN

Chelsea coach Thomas Tuchel was forced into another change of his back line against Brentford on Saturday, and the way his defenders held out against a late bombardment by the hosts underscored why the Blues are seen as serious title contenders.

With Antonio Rudiger injured and Thiago Silva back from Brazil duty too late to play, Tuchel gave Malang Sarr, 22, his league debut alongside Trevoh Chalobah, who was making only his fourth start for the Blues, and Denmark’s Andreas Christensen.

As Brentford subjected Chelsea to intense pressure in the last 25 minutes, Tuchel made a point of applauding Frenchman Sarr as he matched the pace of winger Bryan Mbeumo, helping the Blues to hold on for a 1-0 win that kept them top of the table.

“We trust the guys who are young. If you don’t play you cannot get experience,” Tuchel said.

NORWICH CONTINUE TO FALTER IN ATTACK

Norwich kept a second successive clean sheet in a 0-0 draw with Brighton & Hove Albion and though manager Daniel Farke looked at it as a sign of improvement, his team have only scored twice this season to sit bottom of the standings.

Teemu Pukki netted eight in the opening eight games in their last Premier League campaign in 2019-20 but the Finnish striker — the club’s sole goal scorer with two strikes — has been unable to replicate that form in his second top flight season.

With attacking midfielder Todd Cantwell sidelined with injury and their best creator Emiliano Buendia having swapped Norwich for Aston Villa, Farke’s side are struggling in the final third.

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Patrick Vieira captained Arsenal to three Premier League titles and four FA Cup triumphs as a player, famously leading the 'Invincibles' side

Crystal Palace manager Patrick Vieira said returning to his former club Arsenal would be an emotional moment after a successful nine-year stint shaped his career as a footballer, but he would put all that aside in search of three points.

Vieira captained Arsenal to three Premier League titles and four FA Cup triumphs as a player, famously leading the ‘Invincibles’ side that went an entire league campaign unbeaten in 2003-04.

“I’m really looking forward to it. I had the chance to play for this football club for nine years. I arrived at this football club as a kid and I left as a man,” Vieira told reporters.

“This is the club where I played my best football, so obviously going back there will be emotional but I will put that on the side because what will be important for us is to perform well and try to get points.”

Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta had said he hoped the club great receives a warm reception from the home fans for the Premier League fixture on Monday.

Vieira said he saw parallels in the Spaniard’s qualities with that of France’s World Cup-winning manager Didier Deschamps who also made the switch to coaching after ending his playing career. During his playing days, Arteta had spells with Paris St Germain, Real Sociedad, Everton and Arsenal.

“When he was playing, you knew that Didier was going to be a football manager. And I think Arteta is quite in the same kind of mindset,” Vieira said.

“He (Arteta) was a really good player. I think he had a wonderful career… And he learned the job before getting a chance at Arsenal. I think he did everything the right way.

“When he was under pressure, he did quite well because he’s always been calm and composed. Winning and losing games… the way he was conducting himself is a really good sign of a person who has everything under control.”

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Wojciech Szczesny saves Jordan Veretout's penalty kick

Wojciech Szczesny was the hero for Juventus as he saved Jordan Veretout's penalty, awarded under controversial circumstances, en route to a 1-0 win over Roma.

Moise Kean earned the credit for the Bianconeri's winning goal in the first half as Rodrigo Bentancur's header deflected off his forehead and in.

Tammy Abraham thought he had equalised, turning a loose ball into the back of the net after Szczesny brought Henrikh Mkhitaryan down in the box, but the whistle had already gone to award Roma a spot-kick, which Jordan Veretout saw the Juventus goalkeeper parry aside.

The result sees Massimiliano Allegri's side move up to seventh in the Serie A table, just one point behind Roma, who remain fourth.

Roma started the brighter of the two sides, Gianluca Mancini testing Szczesny with an early headed effort, but went behind in the 16th minute as the hosts scored with their first attempt of the game, Bentancur heading the ball against Kean and in following Mattia De Sciglio's deep cross from the left.

The visitors were left frustrated as the referee blew his whistle to award them a penalty - confirmed after a VAR review - for Szczesny's foul on Mkhitaryan just moments before Abraham found the net, with Veretout's subsequent spot-kick saved by the Poland international.

Shortly after the restart, Federico Bernardeschi's spectacular bicycle kick was spilled into the path of Kean by Rui Patricio, but the striker blazed the loose ball over the bar from inside the six-yard box.

A second VAR penalty check was conducted when Lorenzo Pellegrini went down in the box as he and Giorgio Chiellini swiped at a loose ball, but this time Jose Mourinho's men were denied a spot-kick and were unable to find an equaliser, slumping to their third defeat of the season.
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Bayern Munich players celebrate Robert Lewandowski's second goal

Bayern Munich helped themselves to five first-half goals as they thumped Bayer Leverkusen 5-1 on Sunday to return to the top of the Bundesliga.

The reigning champions suffered their first defeat of Julian Nagelsmann's tenure last time out against Eintracht Frankfurt, but they responded in just about the best way imaginable at BayArena.

Robert Lewandowski and Serge Gnabry helped themselves to a couple of goals each in a one-way first half, with Thomas Muller registering in between those doubles.

Leverkusen were level on points with Bayern before kick-off and pulled one back through Patrik Schick, but Nagelsmann's side were able to cruise through the rest of the match to overtake Borussia Dortmund at the summit.

The hosts had won their previous five matches in all competitions, keeping a clean sheet in the last three of those, but it took Lewandowski just three minutes to backheel Dayot Upamecano's centre past Lukas Hradecky.

Bayern went on to lose after opening the scoring against Frankfurt, but there was no sign of that happening against Leverkusen. Shortly after Leroy Sane sent a shot against the right post, Lewandowski lashed home a second of the game on the half-hour.

That was the first of four goals in seven minutes, with Muller in the right place to deflect in a Niklas Sule shot before setting up Gnabry to score. Gnabry then joined Lewandowski in bagging a brace with a shot into the bottom-left corner.

The visitors had kept a clean sheet in only one of their last nine league games, however, and that poor defensive record was extended when Schick latched onto Florian Wirtz's throughball and arrowed a shot past Manuel Neuer in the 55th minute.

Sane squandered a couple of good opportunities to get in on the act, including a header over the bar from close range, while a disallowed Lucas Alario goal for offside was the closest Leverkusen went to further reducing the deficit.
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Harry Kane celebrates scoring his first league goal of the season

Harry Kane scored his first Premier League goal of the season as Tottenham Hotspur overcame Newcastle United 3-2 at St James’ Park on Sunday to prolong the hosts’ winless run in a match that was briefly halted after a fan collapsed in the crowd.

Newcastle, spurred on by a buoyant atmosphere in their first game since being taken over by a Saudi Arabia-led consortium, flew out of the traps and went ahead after just 108 seconds when Callum Wilson headed in from a Javi Manquillo cross.

But the bright start soon fizzled out as Spurs hit back in the 17th minute through Tanguy Ndombele, who lashed home from the edge of the box after being played in by Sergio Reguilon. Kane gave Spurs the lead five minutes later, scoring with a smart dink following an excellent ball from Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg.

Play was suspended for nearly 25 minutes just before halftime after a fan collapsed in the East Stand of the ground. Newcastle said that the supporter’s condition had been stabilised and they were on their way to hospital.

Son Heung-min added a third from close range in first-half stoppage time before Newcastle were reduced to 10 men in the 83rd minute when Jonjo Shelvey saw red for a second booking. An own-goal from Eric Dier set up a tense finish but Spurs held on.

Spurs moved up to fifth in the standings with 15 points from eight games. Newcastle are second from bottom with three points.

West Ham snatch battling win at Everton

Angelo Ogbonna’s late header earned West Ham United a 1-0 win at Everton on Sunday and lifted them to sixth in the Premier League table.

The visitors struggled to create clearcut chances at Goodison Park with Everton aiming to move into the top four with a draw on Merseyside, but Ogbonna’s goal secured a vital three points for West Ham manager David Moyes against his former club.

Neither side carved out any real chances in a cagey opening 45 minutes, with Alex Iwobi’s air shot going down as Everton’s best opening, before England stopper Jordan Pickford kept out Jarrod Bowen at the other end.

The Blues did look to increase the tempo after the restart with Iwobi’s close-range effort bravely blocked by Ogbonna and Salomon Rondon flicking a header just wide of the post.

West Ham made them pay with 15 minutes left when Ogbonna got above Ben Godfrey to nod home Bowen’s whipped corner.

Rafa Benitez’s side tried to rouse themselves in the final minutes, with substitute Anthony Gordon thrown on in search of an equaliser, but the visitors hung on to secure back to back Premier League wins at Everton.

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Fans react outside the stadium after Newcastle United announced takeover

Steve Bruce has insisted he will always have cause to thank Mike Ashley for handing him the reins at Newcastle.

The Magpies’ head coach will celebrate 1,000 games in management on Sunday when he leads the club he supported as a boy into Premier League battle with Tottenham after surviving one of the most brutal weeks of his career to date.

Few expected Bruce still to be in post when Amanda Staveley’s Saudi-backed consortium completed its takeover last Thursday, but he remains at the helm as the new owners continue to assess their options and has vowed to fight for the job handed to him by Ashley in July 2019.

Asked how he would assess the sportswear magnate’s controversial reign on Tyneside, the former Manchester United defender said: “It’s been difficult, there’s no doubt about that.

“I understood very, very quickly, that it was going to be difficult because we want Newcastle to be at the top end of the division, not at the bottom end.

“Unfortunately. We’ve been in the bottom half of the division more in the last 10 years, so to improve on that is the key to it and I’ll let other people judge that.

“For me, he gave me the opportunity to manage this club, so I’ll always thank him for that.”

Whether Staveley’s confirmation that Bruce would remain in charge this weekend proves to be simply a stay of execution remains to be seen – the club have won none of their first seven league games and are 19th in the table.

The 60-year-old has signalled his intention to remain on board as a new era gets under way on Gallowgate, although he knows from experience the club’s fortunes will not be transformed overnight – no matter who is in charge.

Bruce said: “I think we’re all going to have to be patient. It’s not going to just happen and transform overnight. These things take time.

“But I think what we’re all excited about is now the opportunity to go and mix with the best in the Premier League, which we haven’t been doing for a number of years now.

“To go and propel yourself amongst the elite of the Premier League is the thing that we’ll all look forward to – and even me as a supporter – look forward to everything that’s going to happen over the next few years.”

Bruce will have injured trio Jamaal Lascelles, Jonjo Shelvey and Callum Wilson back for Spurs’ trip to the north-east, and is hoping to rekindle happy memories.

He said: “I had my first win against them as Newcastle manager a couple of years ago, so let’s hope we can have a repeat of that.

“They’ve got good players there, really, really good players, so it’s going to be difficult, but I’m quietly confident that we can get a result.”

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Ben Chilwell has scored in each of his last three Premier League games for Chelsea, as many as he had in his previous 33 appearances in the competition

Ben Chilwell says Chelsea showed the mentality they will need for success this season as they held off an intense late push from Brentford to return to the top of the Premier League.

England left-back Chilwell's first-half goal - his third in three games for club and country - was enough to win the west London derby, but only thanks to some strong work as the Bees piled on the pressure in the closing stages.

After Liverpool had gone top by thrashing Watford earlier on Saturday, Thomas Tuchel's side responded in the day's late game with a mature and dogged display against their promoted hosts.

The European champions dominated the first half but had to dig deep to secure the three points in the first league meeting between the two clubs in 74 years.

"The last 20 minutes, we showed the mentality we need to be showing all season," Chilwell said.

"It was hell on Earth, the last 20 minutes, but we did pretty well."

The outcome would have been different had Brentford forward Bryan Mbeumo scored instead of twice hitting the Blues woodwork either side of Chilwell's winner.

In a frantic final 15 minutes where Brentford threw everything at their opponents, Chelsea keeper Edouard Mendy had to make two important and brave saves, while Blues defender Trevoh Chalobah also cleared off the line.

Senegal international Mendy also tipped over an acrobatic effort from Bees midfielder Christian Norgaard in injury-time, sealing a victory which the Blues keeper celebrated wildly with his team-mates at the final whistle.

"In the end, the last 20 minutes were suddenly a cup game and they had nothing to lose," said Tuchel.

"They found momentum and it felt like we had one player less. They played with more belief and we focused too much on defending.

"I was happy with the first 65-70 minutes and we should have scored more. But respect to Brentford."

The early part of the season saw 24-year-old Chilwell largely limited to a place on the Chelsea bench, with Marcos Alonso's revival earning him the left-wing-back spot in Tuchel's Premier League line-up.

Tuchel insisted it was "no great drama" and it always seemed likely a player of Chilwell's calibre would play his part over the long season.

Chilwell spoke afterwards about the importance of "taking your chance". Recent form suggests he has done exactly that - scoring in the 3-1 win over Southampton before the international break, then finding the net again in England's 5-0 victory in Andorra last Saturday.

Preferred once again to Alonso against Brentford, the £50m signing from Leicester continued his rich vein of scoring form with a confident and crisp left-foot strike.

Not only did he score the winner but he was part of a defensive unit which remained firm under pressure despite lacking key players.

Veteran centre-back Thiago Silva was missing after playing for Brazil in a World Cup qualifier against Uruguay about 36 hours previously, while Germany international Antonio Rudiger was also out injured.

That saw 22-year-old Malang Sarr given a league debut in a back three also containing Chalobah, another inexperienced youngster, and Andreas Christensen.

"We have Eddy [Mendy] to thank, he was amazing," Chilwell said. "He made superb saves and got us the three points in the end.

"I'm happy to get on the scoresheet and happy to score the only goal of the game. But we showed our defensive steel."

Brentford have impressed fans and pundits alike since winning promotion to the Premier League and came away from this match with lots of credit despite the defeat.

Chilwell's strike was reward for a first half where Chelsea dominated without creating many clear-cut opportunities.

Brentford lacked aggression on the front foot and struggled to impose themselves in the Chelsea third.

But the Bees considerably improved in the final half an hour and will count themselves unfortunate not to earn at least a point.

A higher intensity allowed the hosts to pose more questions of the makeshift Chelsea defence, with tactical tweaks and substitutions from boss Thomas Frank helping his side press the European champions back.

The statistics laid bare their dominance in the final stages.

The Bees had 15 shots in the second half - 12 of which came in the final 11 minutes - and spent almost 40% of the last 15 minutes inside Chelsea's third.

While it did not produce an equaliser, it earned Frank's side a proud ovation from the home fans at the final whistle and keeps them in seventh place after an encouraging start to their debut season in the Premier League.

"If you look over the 90 minutes, there can only be one winner - and that's us," said Frank.

"We kept the number one side and European champions to five shots. In the end, we were all over them. They got a lucky win."

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Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer reacts

Leicester City ended their four-match winless run in the Premier League as goals from Youri Tielemans, Caglar Soyuncu, Jamie Vardy and Patson Daka helped them to a comeback 4-2 home win over Manchester United on Saturday.

With the score 2-2 late in the game, Vardy netted a superb goal with the outside of his foot to cap a frantic five-minute spell before substitute Patson Daka put the icing on the cake for Leicester in stoppage time.

Mason Greenwood had fired United into a 19th-minute lead when he unleashed a thunderbolt from 20 metres that flew into the far corner as it shaved the inside of the post.

But the visitors were punished for sloppy passing in the danger zone in the 31st as Kelechi Iheanacho robbed Harry Maguire of the ball and squared it for Tielemans to hit the top corner with a looping shot over goalkeeper David De Gea.

A tame second half came to life when Soyuncu turned the tide with a close-range effort in the 78th minute before Marcus Rashford, returning after shoulder surgery in August, levelled for United in the 82nd.

Less than 60 seconds later, however, substitute Ayoze Perez chipped the ball into Vardy’s path and the striker gave De Gea no chance, before Daka took advantage of more poor defending by United to tap the ball in at the far post.

Norwich remain winless in the league

Norwich City are still searching for their first Premier League win this season after playing out a goalless draw with Brighton & Hove Albion at Carrow Road on Saturday.

Brighton dominated possession and had a penalty appeal denied in the first half when Neal Maupay claimed contact from goalkeeper Tim Krul, but Norwich squandered a golden opportunity towards the end of the half to take the lead.

Josh Sargent looked set to fire into an open net from outside the box when visiting goalkeeper Robert Sanchez raced out and missed a clearance, but the American forward’s tame shot was cleared with ease by Shane Duffy.

Norwich remain rooted to the bottom of the league standings on two points, while Brighton move provisionally up to fourth with 15 points.

Broja gives Saints first win as Leeds fall

Southampton claimed their first Premier League victory of the season as Armando Broja’s second-half goal gave them a 1-0 win at home to Leeds United on Saturday.

The three points mean Ralph Hasenhuettl’s side rise to 15th in the table, while Leeds are one point and two places behind.

The hosts came close to opening the scoring early on when Broja flicked on a Nathan Redmond corner towards the back post but Mohamed Elyounoussi failed to meet it.

Redmond and Broja combined to break the deadlock in the second half when the former squared it to the on-loan Chelsea forward who netted his first Premier League goal, side-footing the ball into the roof of the net.

Dan James should have levelled for the visitors when he poked wide after a lapse from the hosts’ defence, but that was as close as Leeds would come.

Despite a late surge in intensity, Marcelo Bielsa’s men failed to create any real chances.

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Liverpool's Mohamed Salah celebrates scoring their fourth goal

Mohamed Salah set up Sadio Mane’s 100th Premier League goal and scored a brilliant goal of his own, while Roberto Firmino bagged a hat-trick as Liverpool reclaimed top spot with a 5-0 win over Watford in Claudio Ranieri’s first game in charge.

Firmino may have walked away with the match ball, but it was Salah that took the breath away in an individual attacking display full of the kind of vision, skill and guile that the watching Watford fans could only dream of from their side.

The visitors took the lead in the ninth minute when Liverpool won a Watford kickout, and Mohamed Salah played a sublime pass to Mane with the outside of his left boot for the Senegalese striker to notch his Premier League century.

Mane then picked out James Milner on an overlapping run and he drove a perfect ball across the goal for Firmino to steer home from close range in the 37th minute to put the Reds 2-0 up at halftime.

Watford defender Craig Cathcart endured a torrid afternoon, sliding to send a back-pass to Ben Foster that the goalkeeper spilled into the path of Firmino, who finished with a simple tap-in to make it 3-0. But the worst was still to come for him as Salah took possession in the box two minutes later.

Trapped in a triangle of Watford defenders, the Egyptian rolled his studs over the ball before bursting past Cathcart and then leaving him sliding in the wrong direction as he cut back and curled the ball home with his left foot for an exquisite solo goal.

“Every time I’m in the box, I’m trying to get the ball for someone to score or trying to score by myself. It’s always about the team, I always try to play for the team,” a beaming Salah told BT Sport.

“The most important thing is we scored good goals, all of us up front scored,” he added.

Ranieri, who took over as Watford boss on Oct. 4 following the sacking of Xisco Munoz, was left in no doubt about the size of the task he faces as Watford came up woefully short, and Firmino added his third in second-half stoppage time.

The win keeps Liverpool second in the Premier League table on 18 points, while Watford are 16th on seven points.
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Manchester United's Marcus Rashford

Manchester United and England forward Marcus Rashford must “prioritise his football” to deal with the challenges of playing for his club and country, manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer said.

Rashford underwent shoulder surgery in August and has not played since England’s Euro 2020 final defeat by Italy in July, but he could make his first appearance of the season in Saturday’s Premier League game at Leicester City.

The 23-year-old was awarded an MBE last year for services to vulnerable children amid the COVID-19 pandemic and became the youngest recipient of an honorary doctorate from the University of Manchester this month.

“He has done remarkable things at a young age but he is now coming into the best age for a footballer and he is more experienced,” Solskjaer said.

“You know what he has done off the pitch as well, because he has done some fantastic things, and now to maybe prioritise his football because he’s got a challenge on his hands here at Manchester United, he has a challenge on his hands to play for England.

“I know that we will see the best of Marcus in the years to come.”

Rashford bagged 21 goals and 15 assists in all competitions for United last season and Solskjaer said the club will give him time to rediscover his form this season.

“He knows that we want a lot from him but we are going to give him the time to get back to what he was and what he can be,” Solskjaer said.

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Many Newcastle fans would also like to see the back of Steve Bruce, who despite hailing from the region and managing to keep the club in the top flight, has been unpopular

Newcastle United begin their new era under Saudi ownership when they face Tottenham Hotspur at St James’ Park with Steve Bruce set for his 1000th game as a manager and possibly his last with the North East club.

Last week, to the delight of their fans, Newcastle was sold to a consortium dominated by Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund (PIF) alongside minority partners PCP Capital Partners and RB Sports & Media.

While human rights groups such as Amnesty International have condemned the Saudi take over, Newcastle supporters are delighted to see former owner Mike Ashley sell his stake in the club and have relished the promises of “heavy” investment in new players.

Many fans would also like to see the back of Bruce, who despite hailing from the region and managing to keep the club in the top flight, has been unpopular with supporters.

Media reports and bookmakers are already speculating on his successor, but after a meeting with the new board, Bruce remains in his position.

Sunday’s game is likely to see further celebrations from Newcastle fans, but could be an awkward occasion for Bruce – if he remains in charge of the team which is next to bottom of the Premier League.

Newcastle’s goal is to break into the elite of English football, a status Tottenham have enjoyed in recent seasons but are struggling to maintain.

Spurs appeared to be cementing themselves in the top echelon after four straight seasons of top four finishes, including in 2019 when they reached the Champions League final.

But the past two seasons have seen the club end sixth and then seventh and a mixed start under new manager Nuno Espirito Santo has left Spurs in eighth place going into Sunday’s game.

Chelsea are the early leaders after seven games but face a tricky test on Saturday at promoted Brentford, who have impressed with wins over Arsenal and West Ham United and a draw with Liverpool.

Manchester United begin a series of tricky games, after the disappointment of a defeat to Aston Villa and a draw with Everton, with a visit to Leicester City on Saturday.

Liverpool kick off the weekend at Watford on Saturday lunchtime while Manchester City will expect three points at home to winless Burnley.

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Harry Kane is yet to score in the Premier League this season after playing six games

Tottenham Hotspur manager Nuno Espirito Santo said on Friday he is relaxed over Harry Kane’s goal-scoring form and has backed the striker to get back on the scoresheet soon.

Kane is yet to score in the Premier League this season after playing six games but has found the net twice in the Europa Conference League. He has also been on target for England three times in World Cup qualifying.

“It’s normal (the reaction to his form). Harry for sure is used to it, but we are relaxed. We know that Harry is much more than goals when it comes to what he does for the team,” Nuno told a news conference ahead of the team’s league trip to Newcastle United on Sunday.

“He’s a fantastic football player, one of the best, and naturally goals will come.”

The Portuguese added that he would take a late call on the inclusion of Cristian Romero, Davinson Sanchez and Emerson Royal and Giovani Lo Celso following the quartet’s involvement in South American World Cup qualifying on Thursday.

“They are travelling now. They will join us tomorrow and then we will see… the report that we have is that they finished the games well,” said Nuno.

“Some of them played 90 minutes, Davinson Sanchez no, but what we are expecting is them to join us and then we will see.”

Winger Steven Bergwijn has returned to training after recovering from an ankle injury but Nuno said that he was unsure if the Dutchman could feature against Newcastle.

“He joined us yesterday. He is totally integrated with the group,” Nuno added. “Trained well yesterday, trained well today. No pain. So it’s about getting back to his highest levels of fitness, but he’s in the process of it.”

Spurs are eighth in the standings with 12 points from seven games. Newcastle, who are yet to win this season, are second from bottom with three points.

REUTERS
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Raheem Sterling has made just two Premier League starts this season under Pep Guardiola

Raheem Sterling would be open to moving away from Manchester City to get more game time.

England forward Sterling has made just two Premier League starts this season under Pep Guardiola.

Speaking at the FT Business of Sport US Summit on Thursday evening, Sterling said: “If there was the opportunity to go somewhere else (for more game time), I would be open to it at this moment in time.

“As I said, football is the most important thing to me – challenges that I have set myself from a young age and dreams as well, to play abroad.

“As an English player all I know is the Premier League and I have always had something down (in me) that maybe one day I would love to play abroad to see how I would come up against that challenge.”

City boss Guardiola maintains Sterling is still very much a key member of the squad.

With forward Ferran Torres having suffered a fractured foot whilst on international duty with Spain, Sterling could soon be given another opportunity as City resume their Premier League campaign against Burnley on Saturday.

However, Sterling, whose current deal runs through to 2023, intends to continue to focus on maintaining his own standards whenever called upon.

“I’m not a person that’s going to complain. I’ve not tried to make it a bigger deal than it actually is,” Sterling said.

“I get on with my work, do what I need to do. And I’m just raring to go – playing football matches regularly, score goals regularly.

“From being a young child, football has been the most important thing in my life, my most happiest I should say.

“When I play football that is where I get my happiness from. And of course with family as well but football for me has a special place in my heart.

“With everything that comes with football, money, being able to do nice things, at the end of the day if football for me is not at a certain standard I’m not really at my happiest.

“If I want my happiness at a certain level I need to be playing football. I need to be scoring goals and enjoying myself.”

Sterling remains focused on what has helped him reach the top of his game for club and country.

Speaking about his personal targets, Sterling said: “(It is about) keeping humble, keeping that hard working spirit, chasing the next goal. Making targets, trying to do better than I did last season.

“Trying to get better numbers than I did last season. Keeping that hunger. Keeping that in your stomach. That’s the only way you can get better from here.

“(It is about) consistency – you might have a Champions League game midweek against one of the biggest teams in Europe, and then at the weekend you might have to travel to one of the teams in the relegation zone.

“It’s having that same will and desire – going to a Champions League game and then doing the same thing on a cold day somewhere where a team is fighting for survival. It’s that consistency, to win and want to win.

“You are always trying to make a step up and there are frustrations along that way. It is how you overcome them to keep elevated.”

Sterling revealed he looks to use any criticism in a constructive manner.

“(What do I use) to give me an edge? If there is a big game coming up, probably a little bit of criticism to try and spin it. That is one of my best traits,” he said.

“I mean a challenge, so not necessarily something negative, but maybe somebody said ‘he has not scored in a few games now’, something like that.”

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Chief Constable Mark Roberts of Cheshire Police says there is an ongoing problem with disorder and described the proposed alcohol pilot as 'unnecessary'

The continued high level of incidents being reported to the police at football matches shows now is not the right time to consider letting fans drink in sight of the pitch, the UK’s football policing lead has said.

Data released by the Home Office on Thursday morning showed incidents were reported at 37 per cent of the matches played in England and Wales in the 2020-21 season where spectators were allowed.

That was slightly down on the 2019-20 season (40 per cent) but an increase on 2018-19 (33 per cent), the last full season not affected by the coronavirus pandemic.

The data, which covered the period between August 1, 2020 and July 31, 2021, comes as a fan-led review chaired by Conservative MP Tracey Crouch is set to recommend a pilot allowing supporters at matches in League Two and the National League to drink in the stand or in their seat.

Chief Constable Mark Roberts of Cheshire Police, the National Police Chiefs’ Council’s football lead, said the figures indicated an ongoing problem with disorder at football and described the proposed pilot as “unnecessary”.

“This trend shows now is not the time to be having discussions about making big changes at football grounds, such as allowing fans to drink alcohol in their seats,” he said.

“It is evident there is a link between alcohol and many of these offences and one of the principal safety measures introduced by the Taylor report has already been unpicked by reintroducing standing areas.

“Allowing drinking in seats would fuel disorderly behaviour and is unnecessary as spectators are allowed to drink on concourses – to make this change would be irresponsible.

“Whenever there is a high-profile incident of disorder there are calls to clamp down and tackle the issues, which means taking sensible decisions about policy and legislation.”

Incidents were reported at 79 of the 212 matches not played entirely behind closed doors in the 2020-21 season, the Home Office report said.

Hate crime incidents were reported at four matches, the data showed.

The report also found there were 116 football-related arrests during the period, including 92 related to England matches.

Ninety of those were linked to matches played by England at Euro 2020. The highest proportion of arrests – 43 per cent – related to the final against Italy (39), 31 per cent to the group game against Scotland (28) and 20 per cent to the semi-final against Denmark (18).

The disorder at the Wembley final has been the subject of a UEFA investigation. The Football Association is set to learn the outcome of that investigation within 24 hours of the personal hearing it has requested, which is due to take place on Monday.

England manager Gareth Southgate has previously said he fears a stadium ban could be imposed.

Nearly two-thirds of the 116 arrests (73) occurred outside grounds, compared to 45 per cent in 2019-20 and 41 per cent in 2018-19.

The number of banning orders continued to trend downwards. The data showed 1,359 were in force as of August 1, 2021, compared to 1,621 the previous year and 1,771 the year before that.

There were 208 new banning orders issued in 2020-21, according to the report.

The Government said earlier this year it intends to extend banning orders to cover online abuse.

England players Marcus Rashford, Jadon Sancho and Bukayo Saka were all targeted by racist abuse online after they missed penalties in the final shoot-out defeat to Italy.

Chief Constable Roberts said: “We continue to work very closely with social media platforms to identify offenders who have posted hate-filled messages, and police forces have secured three prosecutions following the abhorrent abuse our England players faced following the final.

“Anyone who commits an offence either outside or inside a football ground can also expect to face the consequences of their actions. This behaviour will not be tolerated and is not something that the real fans attending football matches should have to witness.”

Press Association
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Louis Van Gaal

Former Manchester United manager Louis Van Gaal has urged youngsters in typically stern terms to “play football, go running and climb the stairs at home” in a bid to get fit.

The Holland coach features in a new #FeelWellPlayWell health campaign launched by European football’s governing body UEFA which is aimed at encouraging young people to make healthy choices early in life.

Talking direct to camera, Van Gaal says in a video recorded as part of the campaign: “I have an important message for all young people. Too many youngsters are exercising too little which worries me.

“It feels good to be active. Even simple activities can make you healthy and strong. Play football. Go running. Climb the stairs at home! Stay active and move for 60 minutes every day.”

A separate message from Italy’s Euro 2020-winning coach Roberto Mancini echoed Van Gaal’s call for regular exercise.

“You will feel stronger, more dynamic and with more energy. Like true champions!” Mancini said.

Coaches from all 55 UEFA member associations will be invited to take part, and those messages will then be shared with fans, clubs and coaches from December.

The campaign will culminate on World Health Day 2022 (April 7) with a special event organised by UEFA and the 55 associations.
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Bayern Munich's Lucas Hernandez in action

A Madrid court has sentenced Bayern Munich and France defender Lucas Hernandez to six months in prison for disobeying a restraining order following a 2017 conviction of domestic violence against his wife.

A court document released on Wednesday said Hernandez, 25, had been denied an appeal by a criminal court in Madrid against a previous suspended prison sentence for defying the restraining order.

The document said Hernandez had been denied the appeal as he had been given two previous criminal sentences, both relating to the February 2017 incident.

Bayern and Hernandez’s representatives did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

He has been ordered to attend court in Madrid on Oct. 19, from which he has 10 days to voluntarily enter prison.

Hernandez has appealed against the latest order.

Hernandez was sentenced to 31 days community service for assaulting his then girlfriend and now wife in February 2017, when he was an Atletico Madrid player.

He was also given a restraining order preventing him from being within 500 metres of his partner, who was also given 31 days community service for violence, assault and damage to property.

Hernandez was arrested in June 2017 for defying the restraining order after landing in Madrid along with his wife following their marriage and honeymoon.

Hernandez made his professional debut for Atletico in 2014, joining Bayern in 2019 for 80 million euros. He has made 29 appearances for France, winning the 2018 World Cup and lifting the 2021 UEFA Nations League trophy on Sunday.

REUTERS
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Scotland are within touching distance of a play-off spot after beating Israel 1-0

With the latest round of European qualifiers for the 2022 World Cup complete, there is still plenty to be decided heading into the final fixtures in November.

Here, the PA news agency takes a look at where the home nations and the Republic of Ireland stand on the road to Qatar.

England

Despite a lacklustre 1-1 draw against Hungary at Wembley on Tuesday night, the Three Lions remain on course to qualify for the 2022 World Cup, needing four points from their final two Group I games. Gareth Southgate’s men stand top, three points clear of Poland with a superior goal difference ahead of third-placed Albania coming to Wembley on November 12 and then a trip to minnows San Marino three days later.

Scotland

Having beaten Israel at Hampden Park with a stoppage-time goal from Scott McTominay and then eventually securing a 1-0 win through Lyndon Dykes’ 86th-minute strike against Faroe Islands in Torshavn, Scotland are within touching distance of a play-off spot. Denmark have already qualified as winners of Group F, having won all of their eight games. Four straight victories since losing to the Danes in Copenhagen have put Steve Clarke’s side in control of the runners-up spot, which they will seal with victory over Moldova on November 12. If Scotland draw and Israel fail to beat Austria on the same day, then that will also be enough to finish second. Otherwise it will come down to Scotland’s home match with Denmark on November 15.

Wales

Wales edged to a 1-0 win in Estonia on Monday, which keeps hopes of finishing second in Group E in their hands. Success in the Nations League means Robert Page’s squad are almost-certainly guaranteed a play-off place, but ending as runners-up in Group E would, theoretically, provide a more favourable draw. Wales are third on goal difference behind the Czech Republic, but have a match in hand. Leaders Belgium, who sit five points clear, are expected to win the group. Wales – aiming for a first World Cup finals appearance since 1958 – finish with home matches against Belarus and then Belgium, while the Czechs host Estonia.

Republic of Ireland

Stephen Kenny is already building for the future, with the Republic of Ireland heading into the concluding World Cup qualifiers at home against Portugal and then in Luxembourg knowing they cannot make it to Qatar. Following three defeats, the Republic sit fourth in the table, below Luxembourg, but were boosted by a 3-0 win in Azerbaijan and Tuesday night’s 4-0 friendly rout of World Cup hosts Qatar in Dublin, where Callum Robinson scored a hat-trick.

Northern Ireland

Ian Baraclough was also left to reflect on what might have been in this campaign, with Northern Ireland’s slim hope of qualification now over following defeats to Switzerland and then losing in Bulgaria, where they had taken the lead. Lithuania and Euro 2020 winners Italy will come to Windsor Park in the last remaining two Group C games, with Northern Ireland looking to make sure they do not finish bottom.

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The treble means Cristiano Ronaldo became the first man to net 10 international hat-tricks

A 58th career hat-trick from Cristiano Ronaldo helped Portugal stroll to a 5-0 home win over Luxembourg in Group A of World Cup qualifying on Tuesday.

The treble, which meant Ronaldo became the first man to net 10 international hat-tricks, takes his tally to 115 international goals from 182 caps as he continues to pull away as the top men’s international goalscorer of all-time.

Victory ensures Portugal remain a point behind leaders Serbia, who moved onto 17 points with a 3-1 home win over Azerbaijan, with a game in hand and superior goal difference.

Portugal had the game all but won within the first 18 minutes.

Ronaldo struck twice from the penalty spot before his Manchester United team mate Bruno Fernandes made it three as he fired in following good work from Bernardo Silva.

The forward then missed two gilt-edged chances either side of the break as he sought a third, before being denied a spectacular hat-trick goal when Anthony Moris kept out his acrobatic overhead kick.

Portugal did not have to wait long for their fourth, however, as midfielder Joao Palhinha headed in from the resulting corner with just over 20 minutes to go.

Ronaldo was not to be denied as the hosts pushed on, netting three minutes from time with a header from close range.

Next month Fernando Santos’s Portugal side travel to Ireland before then hosting Serbia in what could be a winner-takes-all fixture to qualify for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.

REUTERS