Derby v Leeds spy row, Sarri calls out Bayern, transfer news and more – as it happened

Gregg Bakowski on 11 January 2019

I’m going to wrap up now as I need to go and spy on a rival football blog. Be sure to check back in on the site later to follow updates from Leeds v Derby with our minute-by-minute report. It should be extra spicy. Thanks for reading. Enjoy your weekend.

Benjamin Oates has put forward another five footballers who should be at least 35:

  1. Aaron Lennon (31)
  2. James Vaughan (30)
  3. Niko Kranjcar (34)
  4. Paddy Madden (28)
  5. Vincent Kompany (32)

And for some reason, Brian Hudner has spent the afternoon reimagining the Liverpool team with a series of local bands and artists.

Echo and Bunnymignolet
Fab(four)inho
Gomez
Orchestral Manhoevers in the Dark
Tremz Alexander-Arnold
Gini and the Pacemakers
Billy J Kramer and the Dekeitas
Shack
The La(lana)s
The Farmino
Half Mané Half Biscuit

My main problem with this, is that Virgil van Dijk, Allison and Mo Salah miss out.

Mauricio Pochettino has been in good form today, enthusiastically talking about Argentinian football spies, why Ole Gunnar Solskjaer gave him great memories when Manchester United won the treble in 1999 and how Christian Eriksen reminds him of his faithful Rhodesian Ridgeback. Eriksen has been biding his time on signing a new deal amid reported interest from Real Madrid:

Christian is a very special person and you need to give him freedom, like on the pitch. You cannot put him in a box. You need to give freedom and trust him. Like my dog, in the park. I trust my dog. I say, ‘Go, I trust you’. And Christian is a very clever person and of course there’s going to be a decision from him, from the club, from different parts and I hope he can be committed to the club long-term. We hope that he can be here for a long time. I think Christian is a fantastic player. I was in Copenhagen in the summer. I spent time with Jesus (Perez), my wife and Christian - very nice restaurant. We all hope that Christian will agree with the club a long-term contract because he’s a great player.

And here’s what Pochettino had to say about Solskjaer’s exploits at the Nou Camp in 1999:

I remember him when he scored the second goal in the injury-time and how I shouted the goal of Manchester United, that was unbelievable. We were neutral people watching a fantastic game. I have good memories of him. On Sunday we are going to meet at Wembley when 20 years ago I was shouting a goal that he scored for Manchester United and now we are going to play them at Wembley.

And does Pochettino think Solskjaer will have added motivation to beat him, given that the Spurs manager is the favourite to succeed him:

The motivation is always going to be there. Of course when you’re a manager or coach you cannot be focused on all the rumours. The most important thing is the motivation that we have to do our job in our best way. Of course Manchester is going to come on Sunday trying to win. Of course for him it’s a massive motivation or challenge to manage Manchester United, like for me it’s a massive challenge to be in front for this football club, Tottenham. Always the motivation is to win because we’re so competitive. We’re people that love to win and hate to lose, and always when you play a friendly game or a competitive game like Sunday always it’s about winning.

You want more match previews? Take two helpings then, go on:

So, what have Leeds had to say about the Derby spying accusations then? Yes, that’s the sound of silence.

Cesc Fàbregas will be confirmed as a Monaco player in the next few hours, according to L’Equipe, which means he would be available to play against Marseille on Sunday evening. Thierry Henry could really do with freshening his squad up having overseen only two league wins since he took over on 13 October. He’s been linked with a move for Michy Batshuayi too, also of Chelsea but who is on loan at Valencia. And how is Fàbregas only 31? I swear he made his Arsenal debut when poll tax was the big political issue of the day.

He’s in my top five of players who should at least be 35:

1) Lee Cattermole (only 30!)
2) Cesc Fàbregas (still only 31)
3) Diego Costa (still only 30)
4) Phil Jones (26 years of age, yup)
5) Thomas Müller (he’s 29!)


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There was only ever going to be one subject for The Fiver to write about this afternoon. So here’s our (sometimes) funny and (always) free (occasionally) tea-timely football email’s take on the Leeds v Derby spying row:

And why not sign up for The Fiver here if you haven’t done so already:

The Fiver: sign up for our daily football email.

Pep Guardiola has said Manchester City will do all they can to support Gabriel Jesus after the 21-year-old’ striker’s family had to fly back to Brazil after their visas expired. Here’s Jamie Jackson’s story:

If you thought the Derby-Leeds spy row was weird, get on to this from Palermo. The Serie B leaders have denied that former Bolton striker Dean Holdsworth is their new sporting director.

In relation to some news reported today by local newspapers, the U.S. Città di Palermo announces that no changes have been made to the position of Director of the Technical Area of the Club which remains entrusted to Mr Rino Foschi, who keeps his position. At the same time, it is specified that Mr Dean Holdsworth is a consultant for Global Futures Sports Ltd in the staff of Mr Clive Richardson.

It was announced on Saturday 29 December that Sport Capital Group Investments Ltd had completed a takeover of Palermo. The consortium involves Clive Richardson, who was part of the Global Futures Sports venture, for whom Dean Holdsworth is an advisor.

Dean Holdsworth, not Palermo’s sporting director.
Dean Holdsworth, not Palermo’s sporting director. Photograph: Gareth Copley/PA

Wayne Hennessey has the full backing of Crystal Palace manager Roy Hodgson who insists the Wales goalkeeper did not make a Nazi salute during a night out. Hennessey appeared to perform the gesture in a picture posted on Instagram by Eagles teammate Max Meyer as the players celebrated their FA Cup win against Grimsby on Saturday.

The 31-year-old denied doing so, instead claiming on Twitter that he was calling out to the person taking the photograph “to get on with it” and “at the same time put my hand over my mouth to make the sound carry”.

The Football Association is looking into the incident, but Hodgson is convinced by the player’s explanation.

I believe him totally. I have no reason to disbelieve him,” the Palace boss said. The other players had no awareness of anything inappropriate, so much so that they had no idea before the photo was posted that it had happened. Wayne has explained himself very satisfactorily to both me and the club. I know Wayne, I know the type of man he is and I have no hesitation whatsoever in backing him and backing his version of the story.

Hodgson also denied making any move for Jermain Defoe, after the striker claimed that he rejected a move to Selhurst Park in favour of joining Rangers.

That’s not true. We had no interest in Jermain Defoe. As with a number of strikers, I saw Defoe’s name mentioned in relation to the club.

Nathaniel Clyne has channelled his inner John Lennon in this conciliatory response to Neil Warnock over his decision to join Bournemouth over Cardiff.

My intention wasn’t to hurt anyone. It’s down to footballing reasons. Me and Neil Warnock have a good relationship. I enjoyed working with him at Crystal Palace and I have a lot of respect for the man.

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Get your West Ham v Arsenal team news here! What kind of reception will Marko Arnautovic get from the home fans after his agent said he wants to be allowed to leave and trouser loads of cash challenge for titles in China?

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Honk!

Not surprisingly, Jürgen Klopp has been named Premier League manager of the month for December and Virgil Van Dijk has gobbled up the player-of-the-month gong. A defender has not won the player-of-the-month award since March 2013, when Jan Vertonghen took it home. Look at Virgil, making defending cool again.

Liverpool
Just look at those teeth. Photograph: Phil Noble/Reuters

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“Today’s spying row is tremendous fun of course,” writes David Hopkins. “However, how much more fun would it have been had these still been the days of the Clough v Revie rivalry? I’m sure Frank Lampard can raise his voice when he needs to, but imagine what fun Mr Clough would have had with it.” I expect Clough would have stormed into the Leeds dressing room with a stepladder and checked for bugs before throttling Bielsa had he been in charge of Derby .

Over to Spain now, where Real Madrid are in danger of not qualifying for the Champions League. It’s unthinkable, right? Well, it would be if they were playing well, but as our Spanish football correspondent Sid Lowe detailed recently, they’re just not very good. Madrid, in fifth, play sixth-placed Real Betis away tomorrow. Betis are breathing down their neck. Solari will probably be grateful that the game is away as the atmosphere at the Bernabéu in recent games has been one of resignation. Madrid beat Leganes 3-0 in the first leg of the Copa del Rey last 16 on Wednesday. But there was still no starting place for Isco despite injuries to key players. Here’s what he had to say about that:

“There’s 24 players and my duty is to pick the players. It’s not the most pleasant duty. Why Isco didn’t play today as starter? Today we made a big game.

The Betis match is bigger, so we can probably expect Isco to sit on the bench again for that one.

A short history of some other spying rows in football

Genoa coach ‘hid like Rambo’ to spy on rivals

Back in 2013, Italian side Genoa suspended one of their coaches after he was found spying on a training session held by city rivals Sampdoria. Luca De Pra, a youth-team coach, was said to be hiding in bushes while dressed in camouflage gear. In a statement, Sampdoria said De Pra was hiding like “Rambo under a tree”. Genoa, who denied any knowledge of De Pra’s activities, won the ensuing match 3-0.

Man detained ahead of England World Cup semi-final

A man was arrested ahead of England’s World Cup semi-final against Croatia last summer, suspected of spying on Gareth Southgate’s side. The man was accused of acting suspiciously on a roof, 180 metres away from England’s training base. He was asked to delete panorama photos and then released without charge.

Honduras send up the drones

Honduras accused Australia of spying on their training session before the second leg of their World Cup 2018 playoff match. “Australia spy on the official training of the Honduras team from a drone; this caused discontent amongst the team and its representatives” said a tweet from the Honduran Football Federation. It’s was not the first time Honduras had been spooked by drones. According to Honduran newspaper La Prensa, the national team flew defence drones of their own in 2016 to ensure their training sessions were not spied on.

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Team news alert! Rafael Benítez has a depleted Newcastle squad as his side prepare to face one of his former clubs. It’s all right Rafa, you’ll have loads of money to sp … oh!

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Mauricio Pochettino has been speaking about the Leeds-Derby spy row. He said spying on opponents was common in Argentina when he was a young player there:

I played for [Bielsa]. I learned a lot from him. I learned the good and the not so good. There is nothing wrong with trying to find out a little more information. When I was 17 years old, all the managers in Argentina, like [Carlos] Bilardo and many others, used to send people to watch trainings sessions. Here, maybe it is a little bit weird. But in Argentina it happened … it is not a big issue, It is not a big deal.

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More team news ahoy!

And if you haven’t read Paul Doyle’s defence of Wilfried Zaha over diving accusations, it has quite the intro.

Marco Silva is feeling the heat at Everton. Having been told by chairman Farhad Moshiri at the AGM that the club’s position in the league is “just not good enough”, he then had to listen to Everton’s CEO Denise Barrett-Baxendale spell out that the ultimate ambition is to win the Premier League. So is he feeling the pressure then?

With our owner and chairman we are talking every week, we don’t need a General Meeting to contact each other. Every game is really tough. Even when you think it will be an easy game, it is really tough. We need to make sure we get a result [against Bournemouth]. Everyone is proud of us and our team and what we are doing. We want to win the next match. If you are achieving good results, we will have confidence to play good football. Things can change very quickly. One season is not just one month. We had a fantastic run before December.

They have a tough game at home against Bournemouth on Sunday. He also played down rumours that the club was considering a bid for Chelsea’s Michy Batshuayil, who has been underwhelming on loan at Valencia.

For us to do something in this moment it would mean another player would leave the club and it is not something in our mind. If you do something it because something has happened in our squad.”

Quiz time! Mo Salah was crowned African player of the year this week. Who else won the award while playing for Liverpool? If you know the answer to this, then you’ll get at least 1/10 in the sports quiz of the week.

Will Derby be checking the away dressing room at Leeds for bugs and cameras tonight? In December, Spanish second-tier club Granada were accused of spying on opponents after a number of cameras were found hidden in smoke detectors in their stadium. According to El Mundo, the club blamed their former director of operations for planting them. Like Leeds, Granada are top of the second division. Hmmm. Thanks to @maxbluer for pointing me in the direction of this.

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The EFL have released a statement about spygate saying, well, not very much really.

We are aware of the reports in relation to an incident at the training ground of Derby County. It is, of course, up to Derby County as to how they progress this matter but as of yet we have received no complaint or contact from the club.

Confirmed transfer move alert! As David Hytner reported on Wednesday, Manolo Gabbiadini has joined Sampdoria for £10.8m after successfully coughing for the doctor.

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Come and get your team news! Especially if you want an idea of how Liverpool will line up at the back against Brighton (spoiler alert: Sturridge probably isn’t going to play alongside Van Dijk unfortunately).

Back to the Leeds-Derby spy row. We know Marcelo Bielsa has a ridiculous level of attention to detail, but does he, or his team of coaches, have a history of spying? According to this piece in The National, as a young coach Bielsa had a teenager scramble up trees to gather information on opponents for him.

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Thanks James. So Maurizio Sarri has had a lot to say this afternoon. Away from his beef with Bayern over Callum Hudson-Odoi, he has spoken about more possible transfer ins and outs at Chelsea. Sarri declined to comment on persistent links with his former Napoli striker Gonzalo Higuain, who is on loan at Milan from Juventus. He did say if Alvaro Morata leaves, with loan moves to Sevilla and Atletico Madrid mooted, Chelsea would need a replacement.

Of course, if Morata will go to another club we need a replacement. It’s normal. At the moment Morata is here, so I think he has to think only to play. Because in this moment in Europe there are 300 players involved in the market and they need to think only to the next match otherwise it’s impossible to play.”

And on Willian, who was on Thursday linked with Barcelona, he said:

Willian for us is really very important. I think it’s impossible to lose him in January.

Sarri added Cesc Fabregas was not in a psychological condition to play, with his move to Monaco yet to be completed. Ruben Loftus-Cheek (back) is out and Morata (hamstring) is doubtful for the match with Newcastle.

And with that largely unedifying slice of transfer non-news, I shall pass you back to Gregg Bakowski for your afternoon session. Cheers!

Not to underrate or undermine Ralph Hasenhüttl’s scouting but, given his limited time at Southampton, it’s fair to say any new signings arriving at St Mary’s this month are likely to be Bundesliga based.

One player Saints have been linked with his Borussia Monchengladbach winger Patrick Herrmann; exactly the sort of fast, dynamic footballer Hasenhüttl likes in a team with not much width and has only made three league starts this season. Anyway, the 27-year-old’s not for sale, according to ‘Gladbach sporting director Max Eberl.

Patrick stays. It’s too late for a transfer now, considering how early the second half of the season starts. Additionally, in Ibrahima Traoré and Fabian Johnson, we have two players on the wings who both have minor injuries.

More from Maurizio Sarri, who wants Chelsea to sign two players this month but hasn’t stated which positions. Think it’s fair to say at least one of them is a striker...

As you know very well I am not involved in the market. I spoke with the club and the club knows very well my opinion. In my opinion we need two players. Then it depends on the club decision. I don’t know anything about the market day by day or minute by minute.

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Some further detail from the Press Association on the spying row which, while all very serious, makes for a brilliant tale...

Derbyshire Police attended County’s training ground on Thursday after a man was seen at the perimeter fence of the Moor Farm complex.

A Derby statement read: “Derby County Football Club can confirm that officers from the Derbyshire Constabulary were called to the Derby County training centre at around 11:20am on Thursday 10th January 2019 following reports of a man acting suspiciously outside the premises.

“It has since been confirmed to Derby County that the individual concerned is an employee of the footballing staff at Leeds United Football Club.

“The club is now in discussion with Leeds United club officials in relation to this incident. At this time no further comment will be made.”

Earlier a Derbyshire Police statement had confirmed a man was removed from a position near the club’s training ground.

It read: “A man was found at the perimeter fence of Moor Farm training ground and spoken to. Officers conducted routine checks which were all above board.

“Despite media reports, no damage to the fence was found, and the man was stopped outside the grounds. No arrests were made and the man was sent on his way.”

Maurizio Sarri doesn’t look an overtly happy man at the best of times but the Chelsea manager appears to been left truly cheesed off by Bayern Munich’s pursuit of Callum Hudson-Odoi.

Bayern’s offers for the teenager winger have extended to £35m with sporting director Hasan Salihamidzic admitting on Wednesday that: “He has qualities that fit our game. He can dribble, he is fast, he moves well towards the goal. He is a young player who has great potential to evolve.”

In response today, here’s Sarri...

I think that it’s not professional, because they are talking about a player under contract with Chelsea. So they didn’t respect our club, I think.

Bayern bound? Chelsea’s Callum Hudson-Odoi.
Bayern bound? Chelsea’s Callum Hudson-Odoi. Photograph: Kieran McManus/BPI/REX/Shutterstock

Stephen Ganavas was our man at the Maktoum bin Rashid Al Maktoum Stadium in Dubai as Australia beat Palestine 3-0.

Returning to Spygate, it *seems* Leeds, or at least the city of, has previous with this sort of thing. Ian Fleming’s inspiration for James Bond was drawn from four real-life spooks, three of which had strong links with Yorkshire.

As this piece in the Yorkshire Evening Post details: “Geoffrey Appleyard and Graham Hayes came from Linton on Wharfe, near Wetherby, while Gus March-Phillipps was educated at Ampleforth College, near York.”

Burnley fans! Fulham fans! Fantasy Football fans looking for some team news! Any fans! Here is a match preview for you...

And the big ol’ lad that is Southampton defender Jannik Vestergaard in conversation with David Hytner on the implications, beyond just being a bit rubbish, of Premier League relegation

Jürgen Klopp has also been discussing Liverpool’s FA Cup exit to Wolves

Afternoon all, and thanks Greg. Some housekeeping to kick off with as Australia have just beaten Palestine 3-0 in the Asian Cup having lost their first game of the tournament to Jordan. The Socceroos play Syria in their final group match on Tuesday.

I’m heading for some lunch now. So I’ll leave you in the capable hands of James Piercy for 30 minutes or so.

According to reports, the “spy” escorted away from the perimeter of Derby’s training ground by police had binoculars, a change of clothes and pliers. But no bucket. That’s a lot of effort to find out whether Harry Wilson is injured or not.

Derby-Leeds spy row latest!

The spy row rumbles on. Derby have claimed a man escorted from the perimeter of their training ground by police on Thursday after “acting suspiciously” was an employee of tonight’s Championship opponents Leeds. “The club is now in discussion with Leeds United club officials in relation to this incident,” said a Derby statement.

Perhaps having seen Manchester City beat Liverpool after Pep Guardiola lavished praise on the league-leaders, Chris Hughton has decided to try a similar glowing-tribute tactic before Brighton take on Jürgen Klopp’s side.

I think [Klopp] has been outstanding for the game here. When you see how their team work without the ball to get it back and the quality they show, it’s orchestrated by the manager and the demands of the manager. This season shows what a great job that he has done. They are better prepared than any other team with the quality they have got. It is all led by Jürgen Klopp and they are a great team to watch … Liverpool are the best team in this league and their league position says that.

Brighton will be without midfielder Bernardo (hamstring) and winger Jose Izquierdo (knee), while goalkeeper Mat Ryan and winger Alireza Jahanbakhsh are on international duty at the Asian Cup.

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What about Alessio Da Cruz’s loan move from Parma to Spezia huh? You can keep up to speed with hipster transfer moves like this one, as well as mainstream offerings, in our shiny transfer interactive here.

Philippe Coutinho scored his first goal – from the spot – for Barcelona since October in a 2-1 Copa del Rey first-leg defeat at Levante on Thursday night. He has fallen out of favour in recent La Liga games with Ernesto Valverde preferring Ousmane Dembélé as a left-sided attacking midfielder/forward. This has caused much chuntering from Barcelona fans about how much value they are getting out of Coutinho for the £142m Barça lavished on him. It doesn;t sound like he’s immediatly going to be sold, mind. Here’s Valverde speaking about him after the match:

When Dembélé wasn’t playing, everyone was asking me about him. Now Dembélé’s playing and Coutinho isn’t and the reverse is happening. When you do not play and you are not happy, you have to fight to change the situation. Today was a match for that. Coutinho is a great player who has given us a lot and will give us a lot. I will say the same about Dembélé. It’s a repetitive question with interchangeable names.”

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Here’s Paul Wilson on why David Wagner still believes Huddersfield can stay up:

Bournemouth manager Eddie Howe has said he “wouldn’t sell” Callum Wilson “at any price”. The striker has been linked with a £50m move to Chelsea but Howe doesn’t even want to entertain the idea of his top scorer leaving for Stamford Bridge, even if he was offered the moon on a stick for him.

I’ve been told about the speculation, it’s not something I seek to read. It’s a waste of time for me to do so. It’s business as normal, Callum has been bright and bubbly this week so no problems there. In my opinion, and it’s just my opinion I wouldn’t sell at any price but I’m the manager of the team trying to create the best team that I can. We desperately want to take the team forward and to do that we have got to keep our best players.

Nathaniel Clyne could make his league debut for the Bournemouth against Everton on Sunday but £19m signing Dominic Solanke is still recovering from a hamstring injury. Wilson, Joshua King and Ryan Fraser will undergo late fitness tests.

Eddie Howe on Friday.
Eddie Howe on Friday. Photograph: Robin Jones/AFC Bournemouth via Getty Images

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It’s officially lunchtime (in the UK). So here’s something for you to read while you chomp on that sandwich. The general gist is that Ole Gunnar Solskjær will have to up his tactical game to get one over Spurs.

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After every major tournament it appears that Carlos Queiroz has flirted with the idea of leaving Iran due to meddling from the Iranian FA, but after the Asian Cup it seems like he really will be calling it a day. He said before the tournament “we must be protected from crocodiles”, which suggests he’s either not very happy with the background noise at Iran or that there was an unexpected influx of aquatic reptiles into UAE. Anyway, according to reports in Spain, he’s set to take the Colombia job. It’ll be interesting to see what he can do with that squad given how well he has done with players who have limited ability at Iran.

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Here’s Jürgen Klopp on his defensive options. He seems a little more optimistic about Matip’s fitness than I thought he might be:

Joel [Matip] trained yesterday first time with the team, which is already really good but we have to see. We have to decide day-by-day how he is doing. He feels good, that’s good for us. Hendo [Jordan Henderson] will train today, first time, and we will see what that means exactly. Adam [Lallana] out. Dejan out. Joe [Gomez] of course out. All are improving, obviously, that is clear. I know they are not available.

Robert Huth has taken a large jug of cold water and poured it all over speculation that he may be about to return to competitive football. He also found room in a short tweet for a what I think is a sly dig at Andy Murray:

A blow for West Bromwich Albion’s promotion push! Leicester have recalled Harvey Barnes from his loan deal. Puel had intended to leave Barnes on loan all season but he has been impressed by the forward’s nine goals in 28 games and with Puel’s job seemingly in the balance, he might need Barnes to bring some of that form into Leicester’s forward play.

Here’s Hubert O’Hearn:

I’m sure people on the internet would have nothing to say about that Hubert. Surely hiring Mauricio Pochettino would be evidence that Ed Woodward has finally twigged that Manchester United need a manager with a long-term plan. As for Solskjær, if he continues as he is doing, he will probably not be managing Molde next season. But I doubt he will get the United job either.

Lovren’s absence leaves Liverpool in a little bit of a pickle defensively before they face Brighton. Joel Matip trained for the first time yesterday so is unlikely to be fit enough to start alongside Virgil van Dijk. The likelihood of Jürgen Klopp throwing 16-year-old Ki-Jana Hoever into the centre of his defence is unlikely, despite his impressive debut against Wolves. So, that probably leaves Fabinho as the most sensible choice in a back four. Liverpool had a similar crisis before their match against Brighton last season, when Klopp reverted to three at the back with Emre Can, Gini Wijnaldum and Dejan Lovren. Liverpool won 5-1 that day despite Wijnaldum admitting he “didn’t know hat to do”. It won’t be as easy as for Liverpool this time. Brighton are hard to beat at home. They’ve only lost to Spurs and Chelsea in the league at the Amex. The decision to let Nathaniel Clyne leave on loan appears a bit hasty now.

A couple of bits of news about Dejan Lovren now. Firstly, he won’t be fit for Liverpool’s match at Brighton this weekend because his hamstring is still twanging. And secondly, he has been banned by Uefa for one international match for being a bit gobby on Instagram.

Here’s the story from Reuters:

Dejan Lovren has been banned for one international match over comments he made on social media about opponents Spain following his side’s 3-2 Nations League win in November.

Lovren posted a video on Instagram where he appeared to brag about elbowing Real Madrid defender Sergio Ramos and made insulting comments about the Spain team following the game on March 15.

He also told reporters after the match that Spain were “rude on the pitch” and bad losers. Uefa said that Lovren had fallen foul of a clause in its disciplinary rules which penalises anyone “whose conduct is insulting or otherwise violates the basic rule s of decent conduct.”

He was suspended from Croatia’s next Uefa competition match, which is the Euro 2020 qualifiers at home to Azerbaijan in March. Despite the win, Croatia finished bottom of Group A4 after losing their final game to England and were relegated to League B of Uefa’s new competition.

Ben Fisher has written this piece on Sheffield United captain Billy Sharp who, on New Year’s Day, scored his 220th league goal in 496 matches. That’s some record. Here’s the interview:

It’s fair to say Neil Warnock finds the January transfer window bloody annoying. Actually, he finds everything bloody annoying. In his press conference to preview the Huddersfield game he said he doesn’t blame Nathaniel Clyne for joining Eddie Howe and Bournemouth ahead of Cardiff as he would have done the same. But he would have liked a phone call so that he could have had a few other irons in the fire. The latest players who look likely to slip from his grasp are Nice midfielder Adrien Tameze Marseille winger Clinton N’Jie. He came out with this zinger a few moments ago:

The transfer window is like climbing a mountain with butter on your hands. One day you think you are there and then you slide back down.

LLLLLLLLL. That’s Huddersfield’s sorry form, right there. They’re on a club-record run of nine consecutive defeats and face Cardiff on Saturday. With Manchester City following their trip to Wales, they need a result or that run will stretch to 11 losses by next weekend. But David Wagner says he doesn’t fear the sack.

David Wagner does not fear for his job despite Huddersfield starting the new year rooted to the foot of the Premier League table.

It’s not about fear, it’s about that I’m not happy, which is how I should be after all these results. It’s about how I feel responsibility. I like to put smiles on people’s faces like we have done over the last three years and a couple of months. I’m not able to deliver this and this is nothing that satisfies me and this is what I meant when I said I know and I feel the responsibility for it. I can’t ask for more support than I have had from the board, especially from Dean our chairman.”

Huddersfield are right to back their manager aren’t they? No other manager in the Premier League could have got Huddersfield promoted as Wagner did. If they go down, which they probably will, they will have the best man in charge to attempt to get them back up.as they most probably will do, go down.

They can’t score goals. that’s why the forward Jason Puncheon has joined on loan from Crystal Palace and is expected to make his debut against Cardiff. But Wagner refused to comment on speculation that Leicester have turned down a bid for striker Shinji Okazaki.

Midfielders Aaron Mooy, Danny Williams (both knee) and Abdelhamid Sabiri (collarbone), plus defender Tommy Smith (hamstring) are still out.

It is 10 years to the day since “the next Zidane” Yoann Gourcuff appeared to have the ball on a string as he scored this beautiful goal for Bordeaux in a 4-0 win over a PSG team that were yet to be fuelled by Qatari cash. Just look at his feet!

“The next Zidane” is at Dijon now, where he has’t played a game all season.

Guess, who’s back, back again? Paul Pogba, that’s who. He’s recovered from having Jonjo Shelvey’s studs introduced to the back of his leg and he is fit to face Spurs. The Frenchman missed last weekend’s FA Cup win over Reading but Ole Gunnar Solskjaer believes the midfielder is bang up for a return to United’s midfield at Wembley on Sunday.

In other United injury news, Marcos Rojo has returned to his native Argentina as his injury is taking longer to heal than anticipated, while Chris Smalling (foot) is a doubt and Eric Bailly completes a three-match suspension.

Manchester United provisional squad: De Gea, Romero, Grant, Dalot, Darmian, Valencia, Shaw, Young, Jones, Lindelof, Smalling, Fred, Gomes, Matic, Pereira, Herrera, McTominay, Pogba, Lingard, Fellaini, Mata, Rashford, Martial, Lukaku, Sanchez.

If you want some live football on a Friday morning (in the UK), look no further than Palestine v Australia in the Asian Cup. Our man Down Under, Jonathan Howcroft, is liveblogging it. The Socceroos lost their opener to Jordan, so it’s a crunch game for them. Where’s Scott Chipperfield when you need him? You can follow it here:

Predicting what Leicester will do from week to week is nigh on impossible. They’re seventh in the Premier League, which is exactly where they should hope to be, but fans – and the Leicester hierarchy – do not appear overly enamoured with Puel’s style of football or the fluctuating results. They will be grateful to have a home game against Southampton this weekend who, despite having an upturn in fortunes since Ralph Hasenhüttl took charge, have no senior strikers available. Danny Ings and Michael Obafemi have hamstring problems, while Charlie Austin has been given a two-match suspension for flicking the V sign at Manchester City fans, which must have really, really hurt their feelings.

Thomas Müller has been banned for both legs of Bayern Munich’s last-16 Champions League tie with Liverpool after doing a fine impression of Bruce Lee in a challenge with Ajax’s Nico Tagliafico. Funnily enough, he was shown a straight red card. Müller claimed he didn’t mean it. He may be right – but just look at the state of this picture:

Bayern Munich
Oof! Photograph: Emmanuel Dunand/AFP/Getty Images

So who will be the next Nottingham Forest manager then? Here’s are the odds:

Slavisa Jokanovic 1/2, Martin O’Neill 6/1, Leonardo Jardim 6/1, Nigel Clough 12/1, Gary Rowett 14/1, Damir Canadi 16/1, David Moyes 16/1, Razvan Lucescu 16/1, José Anigo 18/1, Alan Pardew 20/1, Carlos Carvalhal 20/1, Chris Wilder 20/1, Pedro Martins 20/1, Roy Keane 20/1, Billy Davies 25/1.

Jokanovic is the clear favourite, and his recent experience of taking Fulham up to the Premier League last season is clearly the reason why. With Forest only four points off Derby in sixth, promotion is still very much on the table this season. But he turned down the chance to speak to Stoke about the job there this week – so might he not be ready to take on another challenge yet? Forest fans, who would you go for?

The Premier League weekend kicks off on Saturday with a tasty London derby as Arsenal travel to West Ham. The Gunners are in much ruder health than their hosts, though. Arsenal manager Unai Emery has six players back in contention for the match. The Gunners can call on fit-again Mesut Özil (knee), Laurent Koscielny (back), Hector Bellerin (calf), Konstantinos Mavropanos (groin), Shkodran Mustafi and Nacho Monreal (both hamstring) if required at the London Stadium.

Arsenal provisional squad: Leno, Cech, Martinez, Jenkinson, Lichtsteiner, Bellerin, Koscielny, Papastathopoulos, Mustafi, Mavropanos, Kolasinac, Monreal, Maitland-Niles, Xhaka, Elneny, Torreira, Guendouzi, Ramsey, Iwobi, Ozil, Lacazette, Aubameyang, Nketiah.

As for West Ham, well Fabian Balbuena is the latest addition to Manuel Pellegrini’s lengthening long-term injury list. The Paraguayan defender resumed training this week after a knee problem but suffered a setback and has now undergone surgery which will rule him out for up to eight weeks. And will Marko Arnautovic play after his agent (who happens to be his brother) claimed the striker wants to move to China to “win titles”. Jack Wilshere, Manuel Lanzini, Carlos Sánchez, Andriy Yarmolenko, Winston Reid, Javier Hernández and Ryan Fredericks are all still injured, although the latter pair are due back in training next week.

Provisional squad: Fabianski, Zabaleta, Ogbonna, Diop, Cresswell, Snodgrass, Rice, Noble, Nasri, Anderson, Arnautovic, Adrian, Masuaku, Obiang, Diangana, Antonio, Carroll, Perez, Silva.

If you like John le Carré novels and Championship football then this story will be right up your street. Derbyshire police believe they may have helped Frank Lampard’s team in their efforts to beat league-leading Leeds by stopping a suspicious person (who may or may not have been reading a newspaper with two holes cut into it) from spying on a Derby training session.

Here’s the Press Association story:

Derby’s preparations for Friday night’s Sky Bet Championship showdown with Leeds were disrupted by a suspected spy. Police say they attended County’s training ground on Thursday after a man was seen at the perimeter fence of the Moor Farm complex.

Derbyshire Police tweeted to say they had located and removed the man amid suspicion he was attempting to spy on Frank Lampard’s squad. The tweet from the Derby Response Unit of Derbyshire Constabulary read: “Officers have just attended the Training Ground for @dcfcofficial after a suspicious male was seen at the perimeter fence.

“Excellent searching conducted and male was located. All checks above board! Keeping the team safe to bring home a win against #LUFC on 11th! #SpyingIsCheating.”

Spy
A spy, earlier. Photograph: Fuse/Getty Images

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The big match this weekend is undoubtedly Tottenham v Manchester United at Wembley, where Mauricio Pochettino will get to have a good look at the team he reportedly could inherit if he wants the job at Old Trafford. Ole Gunnar Solskjær can understand why the Spurs boss is being heavily linked with the United job – “The speculation is there for a reason, because he’s done well” – but could another resounding win for Spurs over United convince Pochettino that his long-term future still lies at White Hart Lane (if the stadium is ever finished, that is)? Our columnist Eni Aluko believes Pochettino should stay at Spurs and try to make history. Do you agree with her?

One thing for certain is that United are a much more vibrant team than the Spurs side they thrashed 3-0 at Old Trafford in September, and it will be interesting to see how Solskjær’s rampant side – they have won five from five since he took charge – fair in their first real test since he took over.

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Is Willian off to Barcelona in exchange for Malcolm and some cash? Here’s the Rumour Mill on the latest attempt by the Spanish champions to prise the Brazilian away from Stamford Bridge:

Hello readers!

It’s Friday and another feast/rudimentary meal of football awaits us this weekend. With Spurs playing Manchester United on Sunday and Manchester City taking on Wolves this Monday, Liverpool can extend their lead at the top of the Premier League to seven points if they beat Brighton at the Amex on Saturday. As ever, we’ll bring you the choice quotes from the pre-match press conferences for the Premier League games, team news, the latest transfer tittle-tattle as it lands and more. Here’s the weekend’s fixtures in the English top flight:

Saturday

West Ham v Arsenal
Burnley v Fulham
Crystal Palace v Watford
Cardiff v Huddersfield
Brighton v Liverpool
Leicester v Southampton
Chelsea v Newcastle

Sunday

Everton v Bournemouth
Tottenham v Manchester United

Monday

Manchester City v Wolves

And there has been some breaking news in the Championship this morning, where Aitor Karanka, who has been under pressure for some time, has asked to be released from his contract at Nottingham Forest. Forest are seventh in the league and their last league outing was a 4-2 home win over leaders Leeds. Here’s the story on that:

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