Manchester derby, Sheffield derby and FA Cup: football countdown – as it happened

John Ashdown on 9 November 2018

That will do for today

We’ve a huge weekend to save our energy for! Here’s a roundup of our biggest stories from the last few hours:

Have excellent weekends, all, and stay close to the site – we’ll be talking you through all the best bits. Bye for now!

The Fiver is here! The Fiver is here! And it’s not even 5pm yet!

Arjen Robben has been ruled out of Der Klassiker – which leaves Bayern in a spot because Thiago Alcantara and Kingsley Coman, above others, seem set to miss out too.

James McClean has been disciplined by Stoke for calling a section of their supporters “uneducated cavemen” after they’d abused him for not wearing a poppy. So the unpleasant elements of society win, as is depressingly often the case at this moment in history, and McClean has apologised to the fair-minded majority of Stoke fans too.

There are of course No Easy Games In This Super-Competitive Premier League Of Ours, but Brighton have as favourable a run coming up as one could hope for. They face Cardiff this weekend and then play Leicester, Huddersfield, Crystal Palace and Burnley, so Chris Hughton wants them to capitalise:

It’s a crucial period for us but when you play in this division you always go through spells like that. The law of averages obviously says that you’ll get more points against the sides who are not in the top six or seven – but you have to be able to capitalise on that run. It goes without saying that when you get used to this league you recognise that trips to teams who aren’t in the top six might not be as daunting – but this is still only our second season in the division.”

Only three and a half hours until the FA Cup first round kicks off – and that match is a belter, Haringey Borough taking on AFC Wimbledon. I went to see Haringey and wrote about it here. They’re a great club, doing some super work in a deprived community too, and even offer free season tickets. They are based *on* White Hart Lane and if you are ever in the area you’d do yourself a favour by getting to a game.

Down in the Championship, Frank Lampard’s Derby face John Terry’s Villa (well, he’s the assistant) – so what does Frank think of crossing touchline swords with his old mate?

It’s the start of John’s next career and I’m sure it will be a success. He’s got all the attributes to be a top coach and, one day, a top manager. I think he will bring a lot to Aston Villa. Villa have lots of threats individually and collectively, so we need to appreciate what is in front of us.”

Here all Sachin Nakrani’s full piece with the embattled Jokanovic – for whom things might not get a whole lot better straightaway, with a visit to Anfield in the offing:

More individual honours!

If you want something to chew on alongside The Football, Bryan Armen Graham is live blogging the World Chess Championship between Magnus Carlsen and Fabiano Caruana:

Here’s Rafa Benitez, who will be without key men Jamaal Lascelles, Jonjo Shelvey and Yoshinori Muto for Bournemouth’s visit. He’s happy enough with the way Fabian Schar, Ki Sung-yueng and Ayoze Perez played in their stead during the win over Watford:

“I gave credit to them after the game. I was telling them they have to keep pushing, and then I’ll be in a position where I have to decide who can play. The players have to keep pushing. They did really well and the contribution of the three players was crucial to us, not just how they played, but also their approach and intensity.

[Bournemouth] are doing really well. Teams that have been in the Premier League for a couple of years are in a strong position. They are in a good position in the table and playing with confidence, that gives their striker a situation where they can score a lot of goals.

It is important for us to remember that we had chances against Manchester United and Brighton, but didn’t take them. We had fewer chances against Watford, but scored. We have been quite consistent in terms of the balance between attacking and defending, we just have to improve in the final third. After an important win, everyone is a bit happier. Hopefully, we can carry on with the same feeling after the next game.”

In other news, a little earlier I literally saw a man in the gents’ toilets at St Pancras station sternly instruct a total stranger to dry his hands as he made off to leave post-washing. Seemed a bit much to me, or was he providing a valuable public service at a time of year when germs can run riot?!

Der Klassiker also happens tomorrow. This really is an utterly ridiculous weekend. Ben Fisher tells us what’s going so very right at Borussia Dortmund:

This is excellent dedication:

Matt Dony crunches some Neymar-related numbers:

“Neymar receives a €375,000 bonus for clapping the crowd? By my calculations, at a home game (Parc De Princes, cap. 47,929), every single spectator (including away fans) is paying nearly €8 for the privilege of having their star player ‘thank’ them for their support. I’m no psychologist, but I would suggest that extra incentive might just undermine the sentiment ...”

Sachin Nakrani has checked in with some quotes from Slavisa Jokanovic – who has come out fighting with Fulham in the mire:

In the press there are many different names but right now, where we are in bottom of the Premier League, this speculation is normal. But I don’t have time to gossip. I don’t need to change anything, my mentality is always the same, I want to push my team and find the brave people around me. Last game we choose an ugly way to lose. You must be proud, competitive and fight. We are not showing this quality, we must wake up and when we lose the game we must know how we lost it. We can not sell our skin so cheap.”

I really like Jokanovic and may have predicted Fulham would comfortably finish in the top half this season ... but it’s starting to look as if they filled the squad with too many new signings, too soon.

Southampton chairman Ralph Krueger has spoken to the Southern Daily Echo about a number of things, including the dismissals of Les Reed and Martin Hunter:

This week has been at the very extreme end of difficulty in so far as the work and the dedication and the time that Les and Martin have invested in the development of Southampton Football Club, the evolution of the framework here. We have a lot of respect for what they’ve given the club and for their era, which is truly an era.

As it is in sports things come to an end and the ownership board, which I sit on, has made this decision and we feel it is the right time to look at a change of philosophy and a renewal of the process that we have in the club.

It’s important to recognise what’s happened and not forget that and also realise that anything good that happens from here forward that Les and Martin will be a part of, Les in the whole structure of football and Martin especially in the youth.

There is an opportunity now, what I call a space, and we will move on into that space now and make it an opportunity and look at ways to make adjustments that will get us back on track in line with the expectations which we have which we are not hitting right now with the first team.”

I, too, would call it a space.

Looks like grim news for Danny Welbeck after last night’s injury. A snap from PA reads: “Arsenal have described Danny Welbeck’s right ankle injury as ‘significant’ and will provide a further update in the next 72 hours.”

You’re all a bit quiet. If you haven’t knocked off early, let us know what you’re excited/furious/mildly curious about in the coming weekend’s football.

Marco Silva has had his say about Everton’s suspension of academy head Martin Waldron, which goes hand in hand with an internal review into their practices and – crucially – a hefty Premier League sanction for breaking academy player recruitment rules:

Of course it is not a good thing. I think the club work with the Premier League and everything is solved now. Our CEO did hard work in this situation to solve everything. It is something that will not happen in the future in our club, because our way is different as a club. Now everything is finished, and to be honest, it’s not something in our daily here that will affect us. Our focus is clear, day-by-day to improve our team and prepare for the next match.”

Hello again. Andy Hunter has a response from Liverpool to the New York Post story that they are for sale:

And with that, I shall pass this lukewarm potato back to Nick Ames.

Here’s that Pep Guardiola sex tape in full.


Richarlison is a doubt for Everton’s against Chelsea, according to Marco Silva: “We will see tomorrow. We have one more session. (He is) in doubt for the match. Let’s see how he will react after some individual work he did this morning.”

Wolves boss Nuno Espírito Santo is not worried despite his team losing their last three games. Woe betide, Eddie Howe, but Nuno was named Manager of the Month for October only to lose to Watford, Brighton and Tottenham.

We reacted well from the bad performance against Watford, we didn’t achieve the result against Brighton or Tottenham but we performed well. We’re not in the best moment but we have to react to it. In every moment it’s a challenge for us because we have to get better. You have to challenge yourself and improve yourself. You cannot get results if you don’t perform well, that’s what I think and defend.

Tales from the PSG undergrowth are always worth a look, and the latest is from a France 2 documentary, which asserts some interesting details about players’ contracts, which include a “behaviour bonus” awarded for following a series of instructions that includes applauding fans after each match. Neymar’s clapping bonus stands at €375,000, while Thiago Silva pockets just €33,00 euros. Nice work if you can get it though the club say the extra cash is for “punctuality, respect towards journalists and reporters and not betting on competitions in which PSG are involved”. Perhaps that is not as easy as it looks.

Fuller Pep Guardiola quotes to come but this seems to have been the highlight so far.

Asked about Dani Alves saying playing under him at Barcelona was “better than sex”, Pep said: “I prefer the sex.”


The Premier League previews are rolling in.


Spanish Bob Martínez is not going back to Spain to be Real Madrid manager. At least, not now. Or not next week, anyway. He was speaking at the announcement of Belgium’s squad, which includes Romelu Lukaku, but not Marouane Fellaini.

I don’t want to say whether I or my agent had contact with Real Madrid. That is irrelevant and would be of little respect in the run-up to the matches against Switzerland and Iceland. That’s what we’re doing now. I don’t want to talk about anything other than the matches against Switzerland and Iceland. I’ve already said that here in two languages. Should I say it through body language, or sing a song?


David Wagner never lost positivity when Huddersfield were unable to win. Now they have won, he boils over with positivity. His team faces West Ham and he can pick from a full-strength squad following Danny Williams’ return from a knee injury.

This is now our next target. It’s a difficult one. We know West Ham are a very good side. On the back of Monday and this togetherness we have, I have the confidence that it’s possible to be successful again. Everybody knows how important back-to-back wins are in the Premier League. We only did it twice last season and now we have another chance in front of our home crowd.


Steven Gerrard has denied he has a problem with referee Willie Collum despite a club statement saying Rangers definitely have a problem with referee Willie Collum.

Via the Press Association.

Daniel Candeias was sent off by Collum soon after Rangers scored a second goal in stoppage-time of the 2-0 win at St Mirren although footage appeared to show Anton Ferdinand had been the aggressor in a clash with the Gers player seconds earlier.

The Ibrox club released a statement on Thursday announcing it would make a formal complaint over Collum after losing their appeal against Candeias’s second yellow card.

The statement concluded: “This is by no means the first time errors of judgement have been made in matches involving this official and clearly there is an underlying issue which requires to be addressed.”

However, ahead of the visit of Motherwell in the Ladbrokes Premiership on Sunday, which Candeias will miss, Gerrard said of Collum: “I think he is a good referee in general, he has been picked by UEFA to be a referee.

“It is not a personal issue at all. We all make mistakes, we are all human. It is my responsibility to support the referees and officials in this country, it is not a big talking matter.

“It is just a clear mistake and we are trying to get it resurrected and we see how it pans out. I just think we need common sense in the game and if mistakes occur we should have a panel in place to resurrect them, not just from a Rangers point of view from a football point of view. If clear mistakes are made you should be able to resurrect them.”

Not that this blog’s a hot potato or anything, but John Brewin is going to take it on for the next little while – I’ll leave you in his very capable hands.

Oooh, here’s a good appetite whetter for the Copa Libertadores final – check out our video about football’s fiercest rivalry below!

Here’s the Press Association’s story on that Women’s Champions League draw:

Chelsea have been handed a clash against French side Paris St Germain in the quarter-finals of the Women’s Champions League. The Blues booked their place in the last eight with a 7-0 aggregate win over Fiorentina, with England forward Fran Kirby scoring a hat-trick in the second leg.

PSG, meanwhile, progressed 5-2 against Swedish club Linkoping. Chelsea will be at home in the first leg of the quarter-final, which takes place on March 20 or 21, with the return game in France on March 27 or 28. Should Emma Hayes’ side progress, then they will take on the winners of the quarter-final between holders Lyon and Wolfsburg, last season’s runners-up. The German side have ended all three of Chelsea’s previous European campaigns.

Elsewhere in the last eight, Barcelona, who have England international Toni Duggan in the squad, will play LSK Kvinner of Norway, while Czech outfit Slavia Prague tackle Bayern Munich. The final of the Women’s Champions League will be played at the Ferencvaros Stadium in Budapest on May 18.


Eddie Howe has spoken about his manager of the month award – and also about Callum Wilson’s England call:

It’s a really nice feeling. I’m really proud of the team, the players, the staff and the supporters. It’s a good thing to achieve in the Premier League because a good month can go a long way. I think we’ve had a really good pre-season. We looked at all aspects of it and tried to redefine it and that’s potentially been game-changing for us.

“I’m delighted for Callum and his family. It’s fully deserved in my opinion and I’m delighted he’s been paid back for the mental strength he’s shown. He faced those moments on the sidelines with courage. Never a day did I see him down, which is sometimes very difficult. I think Callum is a very positive and a very driven person. He’s really well liked by his team-mates, so I’m sure they’re delighted for him.”

Uefa Women's Champions League quarter-final draw – Chelsea face PSG

And if they beat them, its the small task of defeating Lyon or Wolfsburg in the semis. Wow!

The quarters will be played in March – so there’s plenty of time to strategise.

Here’s Andy Hunter with Jurgen Klopp, who feels Liverpool are not being given the credit they deserve:

If you’re off to a game this weekend, by the way, we’d love to know – what is is, where is it, why are you pumped for it?

Southampton, of course, face Watford at home tomorrow. They need to pull out a win from somewhere.

Mark Hughes has been chatting about Southampton, whose week of flux – Les Reed departing – has included the novelty of a training session on the St Mary’s pitch. But why?

Everybody knows if you keep on doing the same things it’s a sure sign of madness. Sometimes you’ve got to mix things up. We’ll see at the weekend if it’s had an impact. It won’t do any harm, a change of scenery. Sometimes going into a training ground day in, day out becomes a little bit monotonous and sometimes you’ve got to change things up and that’s what we did. It’s good for the guys to reacquaint themselves, just get their reference points in terms of where they are within the stadium. It changes things around and we’ll see if we get a reaction from it.”

I really didn’t think Bournemouth had it in them to start this season the way they have – was very suspicious about what seemed a lack of quality in key areas. But they’ve done brilliantly so far, still using the core of the team that took them up a few years back, and I think Howe can’t be applauded enough.

Eddie Howe is named manager of the month for October

That’s some News Just In for you. He deserves it, no?

And that brings me to the end of my stint here on the Friday countdown blog. My estimable colleague Nick Ames will be here very shortly to take you through the afternoon.

And give our quiz of the week a whirl. I have cough11/12cough

More FA Cup action here, with Ben Fisher paying a visit to the Metropolitan Police.

Metropolitan Police FC, a team shrouded in myth and misunderstood in some quarters, are dreaming. The seventh-tier side, mid-table in the Southern League Premier Division South, host Newport County on Saturday hoping to reach the FA Cup second round for the first time in the 99 years since they were formed as a works team, part of a recreational department for the force’s officers and staff.

And here are some words from Ross Barkley, who faces his old club with Chelsea this weekend: “I don’t think it [the reception[ will be the best,” Barkley said in the London Evening Standard. “I’m not nervous, I’m excited to play against my former club and teammates – I understand how some of them play, so that could be an advantage for me.

“On the day I might get a few nerves as it will feel a bit strange. I’m looking forward to catching up with some of the staff there who I used to get on really well with.”


A bit of Chelsea team news here from the Press Association: Alvaro Morata, Marcos Alonso, David Luiz, Antonio Rudiger and N’Golo Kante are expected to start for Chelsea in Sunday’s Premier League fixture with Everton.

Morata, Alonso, Luiz and Rudiger were rested from Thursday’s trip to Belarus, staying in London, while Kante was an unused substitute after receiving a late call-up due to Cesc Fabregas’s illness.

Fabregas is a doubt for the Everton game, while Ruben Loftus-Cheek may not feature after a back complaint which Maurizio Sarri described as minor.

The two Sheffield clubs are going in different directions at the moment, with Wednesday having lost their last four and United just a point off the top of the Championship table. This week, Ben Fisher previewed tonight’s game at Bramall Lane:

This weekend keeps getting better and better. Here’s another thing (from BTL) to keep an eye on:

Things are also exciting in Sweden for anyone looking for a last day decider.

AIK have lead the league for a large chunk of the season and seemed well on their way to winning but have only won 2 of their last 6 and blew a chance to win the title last weekend with a 0-0 draw at home.

Chasing them are Norrköping who have not led the league for a single minute this season but have reeled in AIK with four wins in a row and are now just two points behind.

Sunday is the final day if AIK win or draw they will win the title but Norrköping can steal it if AIK lose away to Kalmar (or if they draw and Norrköping win 10-0)

On paper Kalmar should be an easy game for AIK, they beat them 1-0 in the reverse fixture but pressure can do funny things.

Norrköping also play away, to Hacken who are 5th but are out of the European race so have nothing to play for.

There is also a fight between Brommapojkarna and Dalkurd for 14th place which is a relegation playoff with Dalkurd currently two points behind in 15th which would mean automatic relegation.

Stockholm's Hammarby and Malmö's Malmö are battling for the last European place with Hammarby two points ahead but Malmö have a better goal difference.

All in all its an exciting last day worth keeping up with!


England’s Under-21 squad for their friendlies against Italy and Denmark this month has been announced. Demarai Gray is back in after injury, while Phil Foden, Reiss Nelson and Harvey Barnes have all retained their places after debuts in October.

“We’ve now got two games where we can give everyone a look at what it is we’re trying to do for the summer,” said manager Aidy Boothroyd. “It’s nice to have Demarai back with us because he’s done really well and the competition for places is fantastic now.”.

England Under-21 squad: Gunn (Southampton), Henderson (Sheffield United, loan from Manchester United), Woodman (Newcastle), Clarke-Salter (Vitesse Arnhem, on loan from Chelsea), Dasilva (Bristol City, on loan from Chelsea), Fry (Middlesbrough), Konsa (Brentford), Tomori (Derby, on loan from Chelsea), Walker-Peters (Tottenham Hotspur), Wan-Bissaka (Crystal Palace), Barnes (West Brom, on loan from Leicester), Cook (Bournemouth), Davies (Everton), Dowell (Everton), Onomah (Sheffield Wednesday, on loan from Tottenham), Sessegnon (Fulham), Abraham (Aston Villa, on loan from Chelsea), Calvert-Lewin (Everton), Foden (Manchester City), Gray (Leicester), Lookman (Everton), Nelson (Hoffenheim, on loan from Arsenal), Solanke (Liverpool)

Fancy a dip into the archive? This is a belter from the don of the Joy of Six: Scott Murray picks half a dozen FA Cup first round memories:

Here’s Jamie Jackson’s snap report from Mourinho’s press conference:

Jürgen Klopp speaks!

The Liverpool manager was essentially asked if he was thinking about goal difference before the Fulham game on Sunday.

“I would be an idiot if I talked about goal difference before the game. This is a strange situation for Fulham. Their football is good, some things are really good, I have to defend them. They are a really skilled team. This game is a big challenge for all of us. Another challenge – 12 o’clock kick-off. For all the people coming to the stadium, go to bed early on Saturday night, be in your best shape at lunchtime on Sunday and help. Because if you expect an easy game, please stay at home because it will not be.”

The bottom five have played the top five 19 times this season. Their collective record? P19 W0 D0 L19 F12 A60. Stuart James on the Premier League’s great divide:

It’s definitely One Of Those Weekends: not only the Manchester derby, the Sheffield derby and the FA Cup first round but also Der Klassiker in Germany tomorrow, with Dortmund welcoming Bayern to the Westfalenstadion, and in Buenos Aires a Copa Libertadores superclásico between River Plate and Boca Juniors. We’ll have preview of the big one in the Bundesliga later, but here is Jonathan Wilson on one of South America’s greatest rivalries:


Jose Mourinho speaks!

The Manchester United manager has confirmed Romelu Lukaku is back in training.

“Lukaku is training with the team this morning. If this answer is positive - and we have of course one more session tomorrow - if the answer is positive he’s ready. But in this moment I can only say he trains with the team, I don’t know his answer.”

Mourinho was then asked about Manchester City and the Football Leaks allegations this week:

“It’s difficult for me to answer because I focus on my job, I focus on the four lines. I focus on football. If you want to speak about their football potential, we can speak. And football potential starts with investment. After that, of course, there is a quality of the work and the quality of the organisation and I think that is untouchable.

“But what is behind, I cannot say. But, in this moment, I have only to think about football, and to think about football is just to think about Manchester City as a football team.”


A bit of Arsenal team news: Danny Welbeck (fairly obviously) and Stephan Lichtsteiner will both miss Sunday’s game against Wolves. We’ve not had an update on Welbeck’s injury since last night but it looked a bad one.

Harry Maguire won’t be playing for Leicester tomorrow, but the former Sheffield United player will be visiting an old haunt this evening:

A bit of miscellaneous early weekend team news: Harry Maguire and James Maddison will be absent for Leicester, James Tarkowski is doubtful for Burnley, Jazz Richards (hamstring) and Kenneth Zohore (calf) are out for Cardiff, while Eric Dier and Victor Wanyama are fit to return for Tottenham.

If you missed it last night, England’s women finished their World Cup qualifying campaign in fine style with a 3-0 win over Austria in Vienna:

John Brewin, Barry Glendenning and Paul Doyle are looking forward to the weekend: here are 10 things specifically that they’re looking out for:

Ahead of this evening’s FA Cup first-round opener, Nick Ames wandered along White Hart Lane to visit Haringey Borough, the club in the shadow of Spurs’ new stadium where season tickets are free:

Hello all

And welcome to your weekly dose of weekend appetite-whetting. It’s a big weekend in the Premier League, with Sunday’s serving looking particularly tasty topped as it is by the Manchester derby. And it’s sure to be an emotional day at the King Power on Saturday, with Leicester playing at home for the first time since the helicopter crash that killed five people at the King Power Stadium on 27 October.

Jurgen Klopp, Jose Mourinho, Pep Guardiola and a stack of other Premier League managers are all in front of the press today.

It’s also FA Cup first round weekend. Haringey Borough take on AFC Wimbledon on Friday evening to kick things off and the weekend is full of non-league minnows – your Bromleys, your Dovers, your Metropolitan Polices – looking to put one over on the (relatively) big boys.

And it’s also a gala day in the Steel City, with United and Wednesday meeting at Bramall Lane in the Sheffield derby on Friday evening, a fixture I’m totally relaxed about, honest.

This weekend’s Premier League fixtures:

Saturday: Cardiff v Brighton (12.30pm), Crystal Palace v Tottenham (5.30pm) Huddersfield v West Ham, Leicester v Burnley, Newcastle v Bournemouth, Southampton v Watford

Sunday: Arsenal v Wolves (4.30pm), Chelsea v Everton (2.15pm), Liverpool v Fulham (12noon), Manchester City v Manchester United (4.30pm).


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