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Hearing the other team celebrate can be good, says Spurs’ Mauricio Pochettino

fre, 15/12/2017 - 23:30
• Tottenham visit Manchester City after leaders vexed José Mourinho
• ‘Sometimes it’s good to listen. It’s good to feel the pain’

It is one of Mauricio Pochettino’s guiding principles and, as he prepared for a defining test at Manchester City on Saturday, the Tottenham Hotspur manager mentioned it on many occasions. Respect.

At times, it felt as though he was labouring the point as he talked of his respect for Pep Guardiola, the City manager, with whom he has clashed; for City, in general; and for Kyle Walker, the full-back who swapped Tottenham for the Etihad Stadium last summer.

Related: Manchester City v Tottenham Hotspur: match preview

Related: Tottenham’s staying power in question as economic gravity pulls hard | Jonathan Wilson

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Manchester City v Tottenham Hotspur: match preview

fre, 15/12/2017 - 17:35

Manchester City have not beaten Tottenham Hotspur since May 2015, which means Pep Guardiola is yet to defeat Mauricio Pochetinno’s side since taking over. The smart money, though, says Saturday will be the day as City are 18 points better off and flying. If Spurs can worry the home side through pace, though, as Liverpool did in September before Sadio Mané’s sending off, they may have a chance of handing City a first league defeat. Jamie Jackson

Kick-off Saturday 5.30pm

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Premier League: 10 things to look out for this weekend

fre, 15/12/2017 - 01:01

Will there be goals galore again at the Etihad, could West Ham finish off Hughes and is Jack Wilshere the man to bring some beauty back into Arsenal’s play?

Since 2010-11, when the two games between these sides featured one goal between them, this has not been a fixture for goalkeepers. In 12 meetings there have been precisely 50 goals, scored at the rate of 4.2 per match. There is a recent history of mayhem, which coupled with the recent improvement in Tottenham’s form makes this probably the most likely moment for a while for the leaders’ successive-win juggernaut to come to a halt. Between this game and the visit to Arsenal at the end of February, City play Leicester twice, Newcastle twice, and five times against sides they have already beaten this season by an aggregate score of 24-3 (though that includes a visit to Liverpool). Should Pep Guardiola’s side emerge victorious on Saturday it becomes troublingly difficult to see where in the near future they might falter. Last season’s 2-2 draw in this fixture was memorable for some particularly poor goalkeeping: both City goals were down to Hugo Lloris clangers, and Claudio Bravo only faced two shots on target and let them both in. Ederson will present a more formidable obstacle for Spurs on Saturday. SB

Related: Manchester City make history and Arsenal in 89 – Football Weekly Extra

Related: 'We want authentic': how NBC's British commentators won the US audience

Related: The Fiver | Capable of destroying lesser defences like Star Wars films trash box office rivals

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Tottenham’s staying power in question as economic gravity pulls hard | Jonathan Wilson

tor, 14/12/2017 - 20:04
Mauricio Pochettino has given Spurs an identity and some great memories but the constant need for renewal, and the fear of losing ground to richer rivals, gives them a uniquely precarious look

Gravity can be annoyingly persistent. Mauricio Pochettino, as so often, said all the right things after Tottenham Hotspur’s 2-0 win against Brighton & Hove Albion on Wednesday. He is looking forward to the challenge of taking on Manchester City. He is “positive”. He promised Tottenham will “enjoy it”. They will go to the Etihad Stadium to win. Which is all well and good. Perhaps Tottenham will end both Manchester City’s run of 15 successive league wins and their own miserable record in away games against other top-six sides. Perhaps they will, at least temporarily, return a flicker of excitement to a title race that seems all but run. However, there is a lurking sense that none of it really matters.

It doesn’t matter because City are too good, because they could lose not only on Saturday but also at Anfield, the Emirates Stadium and Wembley, and Manchester United would still have to avoid defeat against City and win their other 20 games this season to secure the title. And it doesn’t matter because Spurs are haunted by teleological dread.

Related: Serge Aurier’s slice of luck helps Spurs to victory over Brighton and into top four

How much longer does this Tottenham have? They had a window to win the league that perhaps has one year left to run

Related: Mauricio Pochettino says Tottenham must act more swiftly on transfer deals

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Serge Aurier’s slice of luck helps Spurs to victory over Brighton and into top four

ons, 13/12/2017 - 23:05

Tottenham Hotspur clawed their way back in to the top four with an unspectacular but uncompromising display against a typically dogged Brighton & Hove Albion. The visitors gave their all and were in turn given full respect by their hosts, but a wonderful fluke from Serge Aurier and a Son Heung-min header late in the second half ultimately left them coming up short.

Chris Hughton’s best-laid plans went awry thanks to a cross that went under the bar; Aurier’s looping ball from the touchline evading the fingertips of Matt Ryan in the 40th minute. It was the game’s decisive moment. Up until that point Brighton had largely kept Spurs at arm’s length. But they had expended a lot of energy trying and, in the end, a 2-0 scoreline felt about right.

Related: David Silva leads latest Manchester City masterclass in win at Swansea

Related: Romelu Lukaku strikes as Manchester United beat Bournemouth

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Antonio Conte tips Premier League clubs for Champions League glory

man, 11/12/2017 - 23:30
• Chelsea manager expects first English winner since 2012
• ‘I think the first round showed great power for their teams’

Antonio Conte believes this could be the season when Premier League clubs break a run of five years without a Champions League title, provided they master the backlog of fixtures that builds up in the spring.

Related: Champions League last 16: Chelsea face Barça, Real Madrid land PSG – as it happened

Related: Golden Goal: Ronaldinho for Barcelona v Chelsea (2005) | Daniel Harris

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Champions League: tie-by-tie analysis of the last-16 games | Nick Miller

man, 11/12/2017 - 20:00

Chelsea renew their rivalry with Barcelona, City get lucky, Liverpool and United should both progress, while Spurs aim to create more history

First leg 13 February Second leg 7 March

Related: Champions League draw: Chelsea to face Barcelona in last 16

Related: Golden Goal: Ronaldinho for Barcelona v Chelsea (2005) | Daniel Harris

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Champions League last 16: Chelsea face Barça, Real Madrid land PSG – as it happened

man, 11/12/2017 - 12:31

Paris St-Germain drew Real Madrid in the outstanding tie of a fascinating round of 16

12.33pm GMT

And in the Europa League, what a brilliant draw for Graham Potter and Ostersund, who will face Arsenal:

Related: Europa League: Arsenal meet Ostersund, Celtic tackle Zenit in round of 32 – live!

Related: The English managerial success story shunned by the Premier League

12.26pm GMT

How will Paris Saint-Germain cope with Real Madrid?

Related: Unai Emery's lack of control could kill PSG's hopes in the Champions League

11.31am GMT

I’d love to hang around, but some of us have got other draws to liveblog, so I’m going to sign off. What a draw it’s been, though: brief, absolutely devoid of musical interludes and producing some glorious, lip-smacking encounters to look forward to. Let’s hope the Europa League draw treats us just as well. Here’s a report on this one. Bye!

Related: Champions League draw: Chelsea to face Barcelona in last-16

11.29am GMT

A highlight of previous Barcelona v Chelsea Champions League clashes:

Related: Golden Goal: Ronaldinho for Barcelona v Chelsea (2005) | Daniel Harris

11.26am GMT

Meanwhile it’s Chelsea v Barcelona, though are some reasons for the English side to feel optimistic about that one.

7 - Chelsea are unbeaten in their last seven games against Barcelona in the Champions League (W2, D5). Run.

Lionel Messi: Has never scored in 8 appearances against Chelsea -- It's his worst record against a team in his career

11.24am GMT

A couple of absolute crackers there. Paris St-Germain v Real Madrid is particularly phwoarsome.

11.20am GMT

So the draw in full:

Juventus v Tottenham
Basel v Manchester City
Porto v Liverpool
Sevilla v Manchester United
Real Madrid v Paris St-Germain
Shakhtar Donetsk v Roma
Chelsea v Barcelona
Bayern Munich v Besiktas

11.19am GMT

And that leaves Bayern Munich to play Besiktas, completing the draw.

11.19am GMT

It’s Chelsea v Barcelona!

11.18am GMT

Chelsea are up next. Will they get Barcelona or Besiktas? It’s win or bust here...

11.18am GMT

And Shakhtar Donetsk play Roma!

11.18am GMT

Shakhtar Donetsk can get Barcelona, Besiktas or Roma...

11.17am GMT

It’s Real Madrid v Paris St-Germain!

11.17am GMT

Real Madrid are up next, and they can play Besiktas, Roma or PSG.

11.16am GMT

It’s Sevilla v Manchester United!

11.16am GMT

And on to Sevilla, who can play Besiktas, PSG, Roma or Manchester United.

11.15am GMT

And it’s Porto v Liverpool!

11.15am GMT

Next up is Porto, who can play Manchester United, PSG, Roma, Barcelona or Liverpool.

11.15am GMT

And it’s Basel v Manchester City!

11.14am GMT

Next up is Basel, who can play PSG, Roma, Barcelona, Liverpool, Manchester City or Beşiktaş.

11.13am GMT

It’s Juventus v Tottenham Hotspur!

11.13am GMT

So they draw a runner-up first, and then match them with a group winner. The first name out of the hat is Juventus. They will play one of Manchester United, Paris, Liverpool, Manchester City, Beşiktaş and Tottenham Hotspur.

11.12am GMT

He’s finished. It’s time to get down to action. They’re ready to pluck balls.

11.10am GMT

But no plucking yet: first Michael Heselschwerdt, the Uefa Head of Club Competitions, has to explain the rules and run through some details. This ground is very much already covered further down this page.

11.09am GMT

Xabi thinks the number of English clubs in the draw “is great news”. “Now the big teams are coming,” he warns. He has now taken draw position.

11.08am GMT

Marchetti introduces a glamorous assistant, in the shape of Xabi Alonso.

11.07am GMT

“It is absolutely impossible to predict the two teams that will take part in the final,” he says. It isn’t, though, not really. It’s only quite difficult. Let’s not go overboard here.

11.06am GMT

Uefa’s deputy general secretary, Giorgio Marchetti, is introduced. He’s going to be in charge of the actual draw, and he also sends best wishes from the absent Ceferin: “He wishes the best of luck to the teams that have reached this stage of the competition.”

11.02am GMT

And after bigging up his competition for a while, he introduces a lengthy team-introduction video montage.

11.01am GMT

It’s on! Pedro Pinto, Uefa’s managing director of communications, is in charge.

10.57am GMT

Pictures just in of the Uefa president, Aleksander Ceferin. The reason he doesn’t look very excited is that he’s in Bulgaria, and thus about 1,700km away from where the action is. This looks to me like a serious diary malfunction.

10.50am GMT

Bookmakers make Paris St-Germain the current favourites, at around 7/2, to win the big pot come May, ahead of Manchester City, Real Madrid and Barcelona. Basel are the rank outsiders, at around 250-1.

Related: Champions League draw: who can the Premier League five meet in last 16?

10.47am GMT

In a rare twist for football governance, there’s nothing untoward happening here: it’s because Besiktas won their group, and Chelsea are the only English team that didn’t.

@Simon_Burnton how come Chelsea are the only English team who can draw Besiktas? Doesn't that mean tat the draw is a little bit "fixed"?

10.44am GMT

Besiktas are currently fourth in Turkey’s Super Lig, and drew 1-1 with Kayserispor yesterday. There isn’t a second-placed team (apart from Porto, who can’t play them) who won’t be crossing their fingers and dreaming of Istanbul right now. Or at least they would be, if teams had fingers and dreams.

10.41am GMT

Here’s who the English clubs could end up facing. Chelsea have a 66.66% chance of serious difficulty, but they’re also the only English team who might draw Besiktas:

Chelsea: Paris St-Germain, Barcelona, Besiktas.

10.08am GMT

There seem to be a lot of draws about at the moment. The dust only just having settled after the World Cup pot-picking party a couple of weeks back, it’s time to find out who plays who in the first knock-out round of this season’s Champions League. The draw will take place in Nyon, home of Uefa, and sees no fewer than four English teams among the seeded group winners. On the plus side, since the Champions League adopted the current format 72.3% of group winners have progressed through their round of 16 ties. On the down side, there are some devilishly difficult opponents on the list of runners-up, including both of last season’s finalists. The competition small print dictates that Real Madrid have a 50% chance of playing an English team, but that Juventus have a 66% chance of being forced to fly to England in early March. Other than the English teams themselves, the only side that cannot possibly play Premier League opponents is Roma.

So, without further ado, these are the names that will be printed on paper, folded up and crammed into small plastic balls ahead of the draw:

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Premier League: 10 talking points from the weekend’s action

man, 11/12/2017 - 10:07

Sean Dyche takes Burnley into lofty territory, José Mourinho miscalculated in the Manchester derby and Tiémoué Bakayoko fails to justify his costly transfer

There is a temptation to regard Burnley’s presence in the upper reaches of the division as an early-season aberration. One of their alumni argued otherwise, while maintaining that improbable interlopers will benefit if they continue to be overlooked. Andre Gray, who traded Turf Moor for Vicarage Road in the summer, said: “The table doesn’t lie. It’s 16 games, not four or five where they’ve had a great run, and they’re seventh. They’ve been consistent.” The striker was jeered by some fans on his first return to Burnley, but had nothing but praise for his former colleagues and his old manager, Sean Dyche. “They’ll all know in the dressing room what they’re capable of. But Burnley will never get spoken about until the end of the season. It’s better for the team if they keep going under the radar and keep putting in the performances they have this season because the sky’s the limit.” Richard Jolly

Related: José Mourinho in post-match fracas over Manchester City’s ‘noisy’ celebrations

Related: Jürgen Klopp unhappy with penalty, but not Liverpool team selection

Related: Manchester United 1-2 Manchester City: five talking points from Sunday’s game | Jamie Jackson

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The Dozen: the weekend’s best Premier League photos

søn, 10/12/2017 - 22:00

Our weekend roundup of the best photography from England’s top flight.

Follow us on Instagram for more great sports photography

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Harry Kane strikes twice as Tottenham brush aside hapless Stoke City

lør, 09/12/2017 - 19:59

Mark Hughes said he “didn’t see that second half coming”. What was worse, his players didn’t see it as it happened. Tottenham raced away to turn a first-half advantage into a full-time supremacy here and, in the process, cast further doubt on Hughes’s tenure as Stoke manager.

The statistics from Saturday’s game were as follows: Ryan Shawcross’s own goal gave Spurs a first-half lead for only the second time in the Premier League at Wembley; Harry Kane scored twice, taking his total for England and Spurs in 2017 to 50, and leaving him just three short of Alan Shearer’s Premier League record of 36 in a calendar year (with four more matches to play); Son Heung-min scored once and claimed two assists in a man-of-the-match performance; the South Korean also gave a chasing to poor Tom Edwards, Stoke’s 18-year-old wing-back who was withdrawn before the end.

Related: Huddersfield leapfrog Brighton thanks to Steve Mounié’s return to form

Related: Scott Arfield gives Burnley win over Watford after Marvin Zeegelaar red card

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Tottenham 5-1 Stoke, Real Madrid 5-0 Sevilla and more: clockwatch – as it happened

lør, 09/12/2017 - 18:18

Tottenham and Real Madrid strolled to easy wins while Crystal Palace and Bournemouth played out a penalty-strewn 2-2 thriller

5.19pm GMT

And with this final gift, I’m gone. It’s been a blast. Bye!

Related: xxx xxx

5.18pm GMT

Asmir Begovic talks about Bournemouth’s draw at Palace. Considering he saved a stoppage-time penalty, he seems remarkably downbeat.

Obviously a big moment. Thankfully I made a save and helped the team get a point. It was a difficult day. We played well and it would have been a travesty if we hadn’t come away with anything. It was a clean tackle, got the ball, one of those things. I couldn’t care a less who took it.

5.15pm GMT

Further adventures in match reportage:

Related: Christian Benteke misses penalty as Crystal Palace and Bournemouth draw

Related: Wilfried Bony hits late winner for Swansea in vital win over West Brom

Related: Huddersfield leapfrog Brighton thanks to Steve Mounié’s return to form

5.11pm GMT

And the match reports start rolling in:

Related: Harry Kane strikes twice as Tottenham brush aside hapless Stoke City

5.08pm GMT

If you’ve not yet had your fill of footballing livebloggery, Rob Smyth’s your man:

Related: Newcastle United v Leicester City: Premier League – live!

5.05pm GMT

No second-half goals, but from the looks of things I missed Real hitting the woodwork a couple of times.

8 - @Cristiano y @Benzema han dado más palos (8 en total) que goles han marcado en esta Liga (Cristiano 5 palos, 4 goles - Benzema 3 palos, 2 goles). Desafortunados

5.02pm GMT

The final whistle sounds at Chesterfield. What a conclusion! Meanwhile there have been no goals to tell you about in the second half in Madrid, where it remains 5-0. And finally, I believe that both Randal Smathers and Hubert O’Hearn are both real people. You’ll be telling me Santa doesn’t exist next.

@Simon_Burnton As an Englishman living in Canada, I refuse to believe that Randall Smathers is a real name...and Hubert O'hearn is questionable also

4.59pm GMT

Chesterfield have won it! Weir has scored in the 93rd minute to put his side 2-1 up against Barnet, who are about to be left stranded on the bottom of the League Two table! “So Morecambe thrashing the new City of Culture 2-0 isn’t one of the ‘League Two Megamatches’?!” sniffs Bruce Jackson. Sorry.


4.58pm GMT

That, surely, is the game of the day. Controversial refereeing decisions, glorious goals, terrible misses, it’s had the lot. And it ends in a draw.

4.56pm GMT

In the fifth of four minutes of stoppage time Watford win a free kick. Everyone goes forward. Gomes is in the penalty area. Holebas takes it – and he overhits it straight into the palms of Pope! And that’s it!

4.55pm GMT

Milivojevic took their first penalty, and scored with aplomb. Benteke though takes their second, and his effort is low, soft and nowhere near the corner, and Begovic saves!

4.53pm GMT

Spot-kick machine Wilfried Zaha has won yet another spot-kick, and a brilliant chance to win this game!

4.52pm GMT

Those are important points for Huddersfield, and it was all too easy from Brighton’s perspective.

4.51pm GMT

Well, Stoke didn’t lose 4-0. So that’s something. Son played brilliantly, Stoke defended hopelessly (and on occasion unluckily) and Spurs romp to a comfortable victory.

4.49pm GMT

I take my eye off Burnley v Watford for a moment, and something has caused Marco Silva to get so excited the referee has to come over to calm him down. Presumably he thought Burnley should have had a man sent off, in the process of conceding a free kick on their right flank. They didn’t, though, but Holebas sends in a lovely free kick that could have been converted (but wasn’t).

4.42pm GMT

At some point there have been equalisers in both the League Two megamatches, so it’s now Luton 1-1 Notts County, and also Chesterfield 1-1 Barnet.

4.41pm GMT

“As a Canadian expat (17 years of married bliss & counting) I have news for Hubert O’Hearn,” writes Randal Smathers. “Once people hear you’re Canadian all they’ll want to do is have dull and endless conversations about the sizes of snowfalls. And ice hockey. And how freaking nice Canadians are, so you might need to adjust your expectations.”

4.40pm GMT

Another goal from a corner! The ball comes in from the left, hits someone in the head at the far post, hits Nyom in the shin, drops invitingly into open space inside the penalty area and Bony reacts first, runs onto it and lashes it home. Hard.

4.39pm GMT

The comeback starts here! A corner from the left, and Lloris hares off his line to collect it but gets nowhere near, and all Shawcross has to do is get his header on target. Which he does.

4.37pm GMT

“That was a good decision,” writes Roy Allen of Burnley’s latest disallowed goal. “Barnes was marginally offside when the pass was played. The pass deflected off defenders but the initial offside is what mattered.”

4.36pm GMT

Some team news from the Premier League’s late game:

Newcastle: Darlow, Yedlin, Lejeune, Clark, Manquillo, Hayden, Merino, Ritchie, Murphy, Joselu, Gayle. Subs: Elliot, Lascelles, Shelvey, Diame, Perez, Atsu, Mitrovic.
Leicester: Schmeichel, Simpson, Morgan, Maguire, Chilwell,
Mahrez, Ndidi, Iborra, Albrighton, Gray, Vardy. Subs: Iheanacho, King, Hamer, Dragovic, Okazaki, Ulloa, Fuchs.
Referee: Neil Swarbrick.

4.34pm GMT

Well it won’t finish 4-0 this time. Son picks the ball up well inside his own half; Eriksen runs ahead of him and holds the line of the last defender, but some way away from him and all on his own. Both run another 30 yards towards the Stoke goal and then Son plays a perfect, if not exactly difficult, defence-splitting pass and the Dane does the rest.

4.32pm GMT

Burnley have had another goal disallowed. Ashley Barnes has put the ball in the net, but the flag is up. There’s some confusion, though, as the referee goes to talk to his assistant, but after a pause, he confirms there will be no goal. It’s not really clear why.

4.29pm GMT

At Turf Moor Carillo runs into the penalty area, takes on Tarkowski and goes down. It looked to me like the defender might have stood on a toe there, but then again maybe he didn’t. Hard to tell. Watford want a penalty, but the referee gives a goal kick.

4.26pm GMT

A great chance for Burnley to score a second, as a cross from the right reaches the far post, but when Long sticks out a leg to turn it in it hits his shin and flies high.

4.25pm GMT

“I emigrated from Canada to the UK five years less three days ago,” writes Hubert O’Hearn. “Know why I moved? I got really tired of dull and endless conversations about the sizes of snowfalls. And don’t get me started on ice hockey.”

4.23pm GMT

The last three matches between Stoke and Spurs have finished 4-0 to Tottenham, and they’ve done it again! They attack down the right, a lovely curling cross is touched into Kane’s path by Son – lovely awareness there – and from the edge of the area the Englishman scores with a fine low shot.

4.21pm GMT

Burnley have had the ball in the Watford net again, but it’s disallowed for offside. I think Cork, who had the shot, wasn’t offside but that Wood then tapped it in from the goal-line, and he was. Though of course the linesman might have just given Cork offside.

4.16pm GMT

“Obviously Arfield would be the one to score in the snow, seeing as he’s Canadian,” notes Kevin Smith. “Although I agree with Mike about your definition of blizzard. Can you see across the field? Not a blizzard.” OK, I give up. It’s not a blizzard. It’s just common-or-garden snowfall, of a medium-heavy variety.

4.14pm GMT

Hull have equalised against Brentford, Kamil Grosicki scoring what by all accounts is a bit of a cracker.

4.13pm GMT

This all starts with Butland being caught in possession by Kane. That leads to a corner, which is half-cleared, worked back to the left and the resulting long, high cross drops on the forehead of Kane at the far post, and he heads low into goal!

4.11pm GMT

Son, who has by all accounts played splendidly, sprints down the inside left channel and no defender spots him. Dele Alli does, though, plays him clean through and Son takes a touch and shoots low inside the near post.

4.10pm GMT

“Haven’t seen the Zeegalaar replay but of course everyone knows (right, UK fans?) that you don’t actually have to make contact to be sent off,” notes Rick McGahey. “A dangerous studs-up challenge, an attempted kick or punch, etc fit the definition for a red card. And refs have a necessary penumbra (hey, it’s the Guardian!) of discretion so another ref might only have cautioned there, but both of the decisions would be correct within the laws of the game.” I think you’re precisely right, though I don’t know what a penumbra is.

4.08pm GMT

Minor Championship update: It’s still 0-0 between Wolves and Sunderland. Hull, meanwhile, are a goal down at home to Brentford, David Meyler scoring a 47th-minute own goal.

4.05pm GMT

“By Montreal standards the image of the snow in Burnley barely makes it up to what one might expect in a snow globe paper weight on sale in a tourist show or at a grand mother’s house,” sniffs Bill Bukowski.

4.04pm GMT

There’s no let-up here: the 3 o’clock kick-offs have kicked back off again.

3.59pm GMT

Sevilla are going to struggle to come back from this now.

3.57pm GMT

I’ve seen another replay of the Zeegelaar challenge. He does fly in, he probably isn’t in control, but it’s one-footed and there’s pretty much no actual contact with Defour.

3.56pm GMT

I appear to have missed a goal in Madrid. Kroos scores a fourth, though, carrying the ball forward from the halfway line, playing it to his right, taking it back again and hitting a low, first-time shot from 16 yards.

3.54pm GMT

Some photographic evidence of snowfall:

3.52pm GMT

The replay was inconclusive. It certainly wasn’t a fantastic tackle, and Defour’s reaction was certainly exaggerated. It could have gone either way, but I’d be surprised if they appeal.

@Simon_Burnton Very poor decision by Probert to send off Zeegelaar. Clueless reffing.

3.50pm GMT

That’s a wondergoal from Jermain Defoe! A long ball is pumped forwards, Defoe runs onto it, it bounces over his shoulder and as it drops, from an acute angle out to the right of goal, he volleys it over the keeper and in!

3.48pm GMT

Scott Dann certainly likes playing Bournemouth.

1 - Scott Dann is the first ever central defender to score in four consecutive Premier League games against the same opponent. Curveball.

3.47pm GMT

Watford won’t be happy about that. Like last week, they might have had a penalty for a foul on Richarlison, get nothing from the referee and their opponents run up the other end and score! Arfield receives a low pass from the right and scores with a fine finish.

3.46pm GMT

Palace take the lead! It’s another corner from the right, which isn’t properly cleared, is eventually re-centred and Dann thumps in at the far post!

3.45pm GMT

A long cross from the left is headed back onto the middle of the area, and Mounie’s header should have been easily saved but the goalkeeper flops slowly down, the ball bounces beneath him and Huddersfield go two up!

3.43pm GMT

That’s the equaliser for Palace, Milivojevic crashing the ball into the top right corner!

3.42pm GMT

Crystal Palace have a penalty! Zaha goes past Ake too easily and goes down over Begovic’s challenge, also too easily, and the referee points to the spot. Not a lot in that, I think.

3.41pm GMT

Zeegelaar flies in on Defour, who rolls around dramatically, and Lee Probert’s card is out instantly!

3.39pm GMT

Real take control! Ronaldo is played through on the right of the area and his first touch is lovely, he opens up his body and then shoots right-footed, low inside the near post!

3.38pm GMT

Incredible miss! Harry Kane is clean through on goal, the keeper comes out, Kane prods it past him … and past the post!

3.37pm GMT

“I’m watching Burnley & Watford intermittently while focusing on Huddersfield & BHA,” writes Mike MacKenzie. “I’d call it snow flurries by Canadian standards.” Yeah, but a blizzard by Canadian standards involves actual polar bears and stuff.

3.37pm GMT

I think the lad’s overdecorated a little here.

Arbolito listo !!

3.35pm GMT

“After 25 minutes I think we’re looking at the worst game of the season at Swansea,” writes JR. “It is absolutely wretched. Both teams are shocking. It’s so bad that it’s good, though. Really remarkable. Seriously, you should be watching this before it gets any better. It sure couldn’t get worse.” You sell it so well, but I’m a bit busy at the moment.

3.33pm GMT

There’s a blizzard at Burnley, where the snow is falling in great big fluffy clumps. I can’t find any photographs to prove it yet, for some reason, but I’ll keep an eye out. Still no goals, mind.

3.29pm GMT

Meanwhile at Wembley, Butland makes a decent save from Eriksen’s free kick.

3.28pm GMT

And now a first goal in the League Two top-of-the-table enormogame: John Mullins has put Luton 1-0 up against Notts County.

3.27pm GMT

Sakho, whose injury stopped him pushing up with the rest of the Palace defence and thus allowed Defoe to skip through without being offside, is unable to continue. Scott Dann comes on.

3.26pm GMT

Chance for Bournemouth! Defoe is played in on the left side of the penalty area, but instead of shifting the ball onto his right foot and smashing it goalwards he keeps carrying it forward, giving the defence time to catch up and snaffle the ball.

3.23pm GMT

That is the toughest of luck. Son crosses from the left and the ball flies up off Zouma’s boot, smacks Shawcross in the face and flies in!

3.21pm GMT

And another chance at Turf Moor, this to the home side, who are right on top at the moment. They win a free kick, 25 yards out, and Defour’s low shot is heading towards the corner of goal until Gomes sticks out a hand to save.

3.20pm GMT

Another corner from the right, and another goal! This one flies to the back post, where there are two defenders and no attackers. Sadly defender one jumps into the line of defender two’s vision, misses it, it hits defender two on the shoulder, goes back towards goal, and Nacho chests it down and smashes it in!

3.17pm GMT

The first big goal in a big game in League Two, and Barnet have taken the lead at Chesterfield. John Akinde is the scorer.

3.13pm GMT

Another corner, and another goal! This one is swung in from the right, flicked on at the near post and Mounie runs in all alone at the back stick to tummy it in!

3.12pm GMT

And Bournemouth go down the other end and take the lead! A low corner is played back to the taker, sent in low again, only harder and a few yards further back, and Defoe tucks it away from the penalty spot!

3.11pm GMT

Andros Townsend goes on a nice run down the right for Palace, and Daniels takes him out unceremoniously. That surely should have been a booking, but the referee keeps his book in his pocket.

3.09pm GMT

What a chance for Watford! Carillo crosses from the right and Richarlison meets it at the near post. He stretches out his left leg and needs only to turn the ball towards goal and surely the away side would take the lead, but if anything he hits it too well Jeff, and the ball flies over the bar.

3.06pm GMT

Our own Paul Doyle is at Villa Park, and it sounds like he’s having fun:

Tremendous atmosphere in the away end at Villa Park so far today. So if you're having a house party this xmas, perhaps consider inviting a few hundred Millwall fans

3.05pm GMT

Watford have the first top-flight chance, but their cunning corner-kick routine ends with Troy Deeney heading wide.

3.02pm GMT

BONG! It’s 3pm, and they’re off!

2.56pm GMT

Teams are emerging from dressing rooms. Action is but a few minutes away.

2.44pm GMT

“Hi Simon,” writes Woolie Madden. Hello! “Could you provide team sheets for Litherland REMYCA Reserves v Poulton Royal, and tomorrow’s game between SAI-Kolkata U18 v Mohammedan U18? Cheers.” Um, no. But since you mention Litherland REMYCA, let’s enjoy some more excellent footage of snowy football pitches – their match against Whitchurch Alport is unsurprisingly off.


2.30pm GMT

Here’s some evidence of snowfall:

2.24pm GMT

Quite the start to our Premier League weekend: the final whistle blows at West Ham, and Chelsea have been beaten 1-0!

2.15pm GMT

Paul Clement, who makes four changes for the visit of West Brom today, has a pre-match chat:

Clearly after the game last weekend it wasn’t particularly good, but we’ve had apositive week’s training. The players have worked in a good manner, focused, concentrated, and that can give you belief and confidence going into a game. We’re trying to find that thing that just clicks. I’ve freshened it up a little bit. The players coming in, they’re fresh, they’re motivated, they want to help the team. We need to start well, give the fans something to cheer about, and I’m sure they’ll follow us from there.

2.06pm GMT

Here’s the team news from all five Premier League games. If you’d like any other team news, do drop me a line.

Burnley v Watford
Burnley: Pope, Bardsley, Tarkowski, Long, Ward, Arfield, Cork, Hendrick, Defour, Gudmundsson, Wood. Subs: Taylor, Vokes, Barnes, Westwood, Ulvestad, Wells, Lindegaard.
Watford: Gomes, Janmaat, Mariappa, Kabasele, Zeegelaar, Cleverley, Doucoure, Carrillo, Pereyra, Richarlison, Deeney. Subs: Prodl, Success, Gray, Watson, Holebas, Capoue, Karnezis.
Referee: Lee Probert.

1.58pm GMT

Here’s a man who knows how to make himself popular:

Absolute respect to AFC Wimbledon's Darius Charles who has sent £150 over to a Manchester pub towards some beers for the travelling Dons fans as soon as the Bury game was postponed

6.33pm GMT

So another Saturday dawns, and it’s packed with potential. There are five 3 o’clock kick-offs in the Premier League, plus some Spanish interest as the game between Real Madrid and Sevilla, tied on 28 points in La Liga and with third place (at least until Atlético play tomorrow) the reward for whoever wins, gets under way at 3.15pm. As an added bonus there are two absolutely massive matches in League Two, where the teams separated only by goal difference at the top, and the sides similarly divided at the bottom, play each other.

Weather news: it’s a bit chilly in England at the minute, and two referees have decided that it’s far too cold to play football – news of the postponements, and indeed details of every fixture in the English leagues, follows. For now, though, hello, welcome, let’s have some fun!

Related: Burnley v Watford: match preview

Related: Crystal Palace v Bournemouth: match preview

Related: Huddersfield Town v Brighton: match preview

Related: Swansea City v West Bromwich Albion: match preview

Related: Tottenham Hotspur v Stoke City: match preview

Video taken early this morning at the Energy Check Stadium at Gigg Lane. Match postponed. New date and details will be announced in due course #buryfc @AFCWimbledon

Today's game against Swindon Town is OFF due to a frozen pitch. The pitch has deteriorated since this morning due to snow in East Lancashire.

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Mauricio Pochettino says Tottenham must act more swiftly on transfer deals

fre, 08/12/2017 - 23:30
• Manager believes late signings have been hampering team-building efforts
• ‘We need to identify targets so that when we start our pre-season they are here’

Mauricio Pochettino has suggested that Tottenham Hotspur have paid a price for the late completion of their summer transfer business and has made it plain that the club will have to be quicker and smarter next time.

The manager will be restricted in the January window as his Champions League squad already contains the maximum of 17 foreign players – and that number does not include the fit-again Érik Lamela, whom he is keen to reintegrate for the knockout stage.

Related: Wrong move: how Grzegorz Krychowiak and Renato Sanches lost their mojos

Related: Tottenham Hotspur v Stoke City: match preview

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Tottenham Hotspur v Stoke City: match preview

fre, 08/12/2017 - 16:46

Spurs are looking to end a run of four without a win in the Premier League as they welcome Stoke City to Wembley. Last week the Potters ended their own four-match sequence without a victory – but having lost their last three against Tottenham 4-0, could face the ignominy of becoming the first side in Premier League history to lose by four goals or more to a side four times in a row. Étienne Fermie

Kick-off Saturday 3pm

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Champions League power rankings: Manchester City are the team to beat

tor, 07/12/2017 - 17:35

Manchester City, Barcelona, Real Madrid and Paris Saint-Germain are the four teams to avoid in what will be a competitive draw for the last-16 on Monday

By Martin Laurence and Ben McAleer for WhoScored?

The last-16 stage of the Champions League promises to be extremely competitive. Two of the semi-finalists from last season have been knocked out already; Atlético Madrid have been relegated to the Europa League and Monaco, who didn’t win a single match in their group, are out of Europe altogether.

Real Madrid, Juventus, Bayern Munich and Chelsea – all of whom have played in at least one of the last six finals – failed to win their groups, meaning there will be some even bigger casualties when the knockout stages return in February. It is difficult to separate remaining sides in the competition but, by looking at their domestic form this season and performances in the Champions League groups, we have ranked the teams who will go into the last-16 draw on Monday.

Related: Champions League draw: who can the Premier League five meet in last 16?

Related: Football quiz: how well do you know the Manchester and Merseyside derbies?

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Tottenham’s Danny Rose: I have no issue with Mauricio Pochettino and never will

tor, 07/12/2017 - 13:15
Rose’s dismay at being taken off at Wembley on Wednesday sparked suggestions of a rift, especially given the left-back’s recent expressions of dissatisfaction

Danny Rose felt the wound open above his left eye and the blood would not stop. The contact had come with the Apoel Nicosia substitute Roland Sallai and it was clear that the Tottenham Hotspur full-back had to come off – at least for a quick patch-up job.

Mauricio Pochettino assessed the situation and decided that “it was not necessary to take a risk”. Rose needed five stitches, there were only 20 minutes to play in what was a dead Champions League rubber and so the manager chose to keep him off and introduce Kyle Walker-Peters.

Related: Champions League draw: who can the Premier League five meet in last 16?

I hope teams look at those performances and realise Tottenham are a team to be feared

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Champions League draw: who can the Premier League five meet in last 16?

tor, 07/12/2017 - 12:08
We break down the record-breaking achievements of the English quintet in the Champions League and look ahead to who they could meet in the next stage

Yes it is. Never before have so many clubs from one country reached this stage of the tournament. It became possible to enter five teams only from 2015-16, when the Europa League winners were awarded a Champions League place. Spain had five clubs in the 2015-16 group stage after Sevilla won that tournament but only three progressed. Manchester United’s Europa League triumph last season put them in the Champions League with Chelsea, Manchester City, Tottenham and Liverpool. Liverpool won a play-off against Hoffenheim to make it five English clubs in the group stage.

Related: Philippe Coutinho leads Liverpool's merry band of inspired attackers | Andy Hunter

Aquí tenéis TODAS LAS PROBABILIDADES de TODOS LOS ENFRENTAMIENTOS que se pueden dar en el sorteo de 1/8 de UCL que se celebrará el lunes. Es el SORTEO MÁS CONDICIONADO EN LA HISTORIA del torneo: Chelsea sólo tiene 3 rivales posibles y un 44% de opciones de jugar contra el Barça.

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Fernando Llorente off the mark for Tottenham in stroll against Apoel

ons, 06/12/2017 - 22:56

It has taken a while – 17 appearances to be precise – but Fernando Llorente is up and running as a Tottenham Hotspur goalscorer. The summer signing from Swansea City has been used mainly as a substitute by Mauricio Pochettino but, given a starting opportunity in what was a dead Champions League rubber, he responded with a decent all-round performance and he crowned it with his first goal in the club’s colours.

Given Spurs’ recent stutters – they have won only once in five Premier League matches – it was an opportunity for them to find a bit of momentum and Llorente did so, on a personal level. Son Heung-min did likewise. The winger added Tottenham’s second goal with a curling shot from the edge of the area and he vied with Llorente for the man-of-the-match honours.

Related: Tottenham Hotspur v Apoel Nicosia: Champions League – as it happened

Related: Manchester City’s winning run ends as makeshift side fall to Shakhtar

Related: Philippe Coutinho inspires Liverpool as rout of Spartak Moscow seals progress

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Tottenham Hotspur 3-0 Apoel Nicosia: Champions League – as it happened

ons, 06/12/2017 - 22:38

Goals from Fernando Llorente, Son Heung-min and Georges-Kevin Nkoudou gave Tottenham the most routine of 3-0 wins over disappointing opponents from Cyprus

10.16pm GMT

Related: Fernando Llorente off the mark for Tottenham in stroll against Apoel

9.38pm GMT

Spurs get the job done, then. That was as low-key a second half as you could imagine, the only talking points being a potential red card for Aurier and a deflected goal by Nkoudou. But it was thin gruel. Llorente’s performance is probably the most encouraging thing for Pochettino, as strikers need confidence and he should have garnered some with a goal and an assist. Apoel had a little flicker just after half-time but, let’s be honest, really didn’t offer anything. This one has been ticked off and Spurs, at least, can go on to more exciting things. Thanks for joining me tonight – bye!

9.36pm GMT

That was so, so easy.

9.34pm GMT

90+1 min: Ah, we’ll have three minutes. Liverpool won 7-0, Man City have pulled one back at Shakhtar ...

9.32pm GMT

90 min: I doubt we’ll see much added time.

9.31pm GMT

88 min: But now they win a corner and on he comes – to replace Alli.

9.30pm GMT

87 min: Spurs have been waiting to give Kazaiah Sterling a debut from the bench for ages but their pesky players haven’t given up possession for about three minutes.

9.28pm GMT

85 min: It is 7-0 to Liverpool, meanwhile. Yikes.

9.26pm GMT

83 min: Rueda is booked for a crude foul on Nkoudou near the edge of the area. Alli bends the free-kick straight at Perez.

9.24pm GMT

82 min: Real are 3-2 up over Dortmund now but Apoel need three goals to make that matter.

9.24pm GMT

Oh, but there you go! Nkoudou scores his first Tottenham goal too! Alli passes to him outside the box, a nice change of direction allows him to trick his way inside, the shot isn’t great but it flicks off a defender and over Perez. The cheers around Wembley are very muted but a goal’s a goal. Apoel replace Pote, the shirt-seeker, with Antoniou.

9.21pm GMT

78 min: It’s like a particularly through-the-motions friendly now. Literally nothing is happening.

9.18pm GMT

76 min: Liverpool are 6-0 up over Spartak. That’s where the action is!

9.18pm GMT

75 min: It’s almost a quarter of an hour since anything half-interesting happened on the pitch, football-wise. Can Igor De Camargo, who comes on for Apoel in place of their best player Aloneftis, change that?

9.14pm GMT

72 min: Rose had a cut to the face, by the way. Wonder what exactly he said to his manager there. Perhaps not happy at having to play in this one at all ...

9.13pm GMT

70 min: Pochettino and Rose seemed to exchange some rather frosty views as Rose went off there. Walker-Peters now replaces the left-back.

9.11pm GMT

69 min: Rose has headed down the tunnel for some treatment, which must be a concern.

9.11pm GMT

67 min: The pace isn’t high at the moment. Nobody would really mind if we called it quits here ... but hang on, Rose is now booked after his own bit of red mist, barging Sallai – also booked – after taking exception to being tugged back. Unlike in the case of Aurier, that’s probably a fair punishment.

9.07pm GMT

65 min: Aurier is rightly yellowed for a studs-up tackle on Aloneftis – upon seeing the replay that should have been red, I think. He’s got lucky, that was pretty nasty. One Tottenham player does depart now, but it’s Son – replaced by Dembele.

9.05pm GMT

62 min: Sissoko bursts through midfield and slides Nkoudou through on the left. His first touch allows the shot, which is decent and low but smothered by the busy Perez.

9.02pm GMT

59 min: Son goes off target with a dipping free-kick. Not the worst effort, or the best.

9.01pm GMT

58 min: It should be three as Llorente loses his balance when spinning to volley from close in after Rose’s cross loops off a defender. Aurier then sees a decent shot parried by Perez.

8.59pm GMT

57 min: Hey, the Europa League might be where it’s at after Christmas. Dortmund, Napoli and Atletico among those coming down from the Champions League. I’m sold.

8.58pm GMT

55 min: A really slick Apoel move ends with Ebecilio spooning one very high over from 19 yards. Could they not have tried playing like this from the start?

8.56pm GMT

54 min: But Spurs break quickly and Nkoudou tries to weigh one into the far corner. It hits Morais and goes behind. Rose takes the corner but it sails beyond everyone.

8.55pm GMT

53 min: Apoel win a dangerous free-kick and exert some pressure from it. They look, at last, like they mean a little business.

8.54pm GMT

51 min: The horse has bolted but, for the record, Apoel have started this half well.

8.53pm GMT

49 min: Oooooh, Apoel almost score! Vouros has time to size up a shot on the right of the area and arrow towards goal ... and it flicks off Rose and just wide! Sallai heads wide from the corner. Their best spell by a distance. Now Liverpool are five up, FYI.

8.51pm GMT

49 min: Dortmund equalise in Madrid! Well, well. That’s going to be it for Apoel, then.

8.50pm GMT

47 min: Apoel have brought Sallai on for Vinicius. I’m fairly sure I didn’t mention Vinicius before now. Liverpool are 4-0 up through Mane.

8.48pm GMT

Alli is out there, so that presumably means he’s fine. Apparently Pote swapped shirts with him at half-time, which says a lot about the Apoel striker’s performance so far. He’s been useless but clearly had other things on his mind.

8.46pm GMT

Nearly ready for the second half. Will we see Alli? He was struggling towards the end there ...

8.32pm GMT

Pretty easy for Spurs – Apoel have offered absolutely nothing, to be honest. But Pochettino will be pleased with how his side have set about things, and they’ve scored two really nice goals through Llorente – his first for Spurs – and Son. They could have scored a few more too. See you in a bit!

8.30pm GMT

45 min: A couple of Winks corners come to nothing. I think half-time will come right as we hit 45.

8.29pm GMT

44 min: Son has a long shot battered away to his left by Perez. The second half of this game of this game will be a procession. It might not be that way at the Bernabeu though, as Dortmund have a goal back.

8.27pm GMT

42 min: Alli went down under a challenge just now and isn’t moving too well, which was the same earlier too. A concern?

8.25pm GMT

40 min: Could have been a riposte from Apoel though! Aloneftis does well again and puts a better ball in to the back stick for Pote ... who could jump and land a free header at goal, but instead fails to jump and the ball kind of pings away off his head. Then Aloneftis goes again and wins a corner after an Aurier error. Spurs defend that well.

8.24pm GMT

They made a noise there! Son spins and advances towards the edge of the box, a bit to the right. He plays a give-and-go with Llorente, whose one-touch lay-off screams “curl me past the static goalkeeper with your left foot!”. Son obliges. Lovely goal, and that’ll be that.

8.22pm GMT

36 min: This is Spurs’ first quiet spell really, but they don’t need to be extending themselves overly here.

8.20pm GMT

35 min: Better from Apoel as the lively-ish Aloneftis hares down the left, but his low delivery is cut out. That’s as good as they’ve offered.

8.19pm GMT

34 min: Man City are now 2-0 down. You can tell who needs that one more.

8.17pm GMT

31 min: A little flicker there as Apoel play a decent ball through to Ebecilio and he claims a tug from Rose. Nothing doing.

8.15pm GMT

30 min: Apoel have not come close to mounting a meaningful attack.

8.14pm GMT

28 min: Llorente provides a cross this time, chipping in to the jumping Sissoko, whose header is straight at Perez.

8.13pm GMT

27 min: Man City are losing at Shakhtar. Not that it matters to them. Shakhtar look like going through though.

8.12pm GMT

26 min: It’s worked short and then through to Rose, who has an incredible amount of space at the byline but sees his drilled cross cleared behind. The next corner is put straight in and Llorente can’t quite get his head onto it cleanly.

8.10pm GMT

25 min: Alli has been quiet but performs a neat bit of skill to get out of a tight spot in his own half. Play switches to the Apoel area and Spurs win another corner ...

8.08pm GMT

23 min: It’s only 1-0, I know, but this currently looks like a complete mismatch.

8.07pm GMT

He’s off the mark! That was coming, it really was. Winks finds Aurier with a drilled, radar-like pass and the delivery is again good – if slightly behind Llorente. The striker turns and drags the ball back beautifully, flummoxing his marker, and the finish is then simple. He needed that; Apoel definitely didn’t.

8.05pm GMT

20 min: It’s 3-0 to Liverpool now. Klopp looks happy. Coutinho has two, Firmino one.

8.04pm GMT

19 min: And that’s another close shave there, a fine Aurier cross towards Llorente bouncing off a defender and only just over Perez’s bar. The goalkeeper had committed himself. A corner results, which soon enough leads to another – and Foyth thunders a header over from that one!

8.03pm GMT

18 min: I mean, Apoel could just play for the draw now but I have the impression they wouldn’t be very good at it.

8.01pm GMT

15 min: Liverpool are two up. Barry has the details here.

7.59pm GMT

13 min: Spurs have, in fairness, started well enough here and look sharp. We’ve seen nothing from Apoel going forward yet bar a couple of bursts that were quickly snuffed out. It’s now 2-0 to Real in Madrid though ...

7.56pm GMT

10 min: How are Spurs not ahead?! Llorente’s header is pushed away by Perez to his left, and Nkoudou seems certain to gobble the rebound .... but the Apoel defender Rueda makes a quite heroic clearance off the line with his head! The ball stays alive and is crossed back in for Sanchez, who heads wide when he might do better. Three chances in a row but Apoel somehow survive!

7.54pm GMT

9 min: In this group’s other game Real Madrid are ahead against Dortmund – so if it’s all like this an hour and a half from now, Apoel take third.

7.53pm GMT

7 min: Almost a chance for Son, who anticipates Llorente’s cushioned header from a Rose diagonal but can’t quite get the ball under his spell in the box.

7.52pm GMT

7 min: Liverpool are beating Spartak Moscow. It’s really not a great group stage for nailbiting matchday six tussles, is it?

7.50pm GMT

4 min: The flag kick is half-cleared and then Sissoko sees a shot blocked. The cameras pan to Giorgos Donis, who you’ll remember played for Blackburn and Sheffield United and is now Apoel’s manager. He used to be really quick!

7.49pm GMT

3 min: And then Son does something very similar after a nice little burst between the lines. A corner is awarded, generously as the goalkeeper Perez didn’t touch it ...

7.48pm GMT

2 min: Decent first sighter there from Aurier, raking a bouncing effort a foot wide from 25 yards.

7.47pm GMT

2 min: It’s a small crowd, less than half-full I reckon, but the Cypriot fans – a number of whom may be based in north London, you’d fancy – are in good voice.

7.46pm GMT

Apoel kick off. They play all in yellow and from right to left.

7.45pm GMT

@NickAmes82 fans should understand more than pundits that our patchy form is driven by injuries and lack of squad depth. Over the last several weeks players out and/or playing with/ coming back from injuries include: Kane, Alli, Eriksen, Lamela, Rose, Wanyama, Alderweirld etc.

7.45pm GMT

Email from Pete Corbett, timely too given the subject matter: “Hope you’re keeping warmer than we are at Wembley. Looking forward to seeing Georges N’Koudou. We sometimes need some pace in the side and it would be good for him to prove himself a viable option. Away fans are in fine voice.”

7.43pm GMT

Meanwhile, the teams are on the Wembley pitch and solemnly taking in the anthem ...

7.43pm GMT

Couple of others with points to prove: can Fernando Llorente, making only his fourth start for Spurs, score his first goal? And can Georges-Kevin Nkoudou, making just his third in a year and a half, show anything of substance?

7.30pm GMT

Pochettino speaks on his eight changes: “For everyone it’s a great opportunity there. The players that are not consistently in the starting XI every week ... we’re going to take it very seriously, being first in the table is a great achievement but to play a Champions League game is very important.”

He also says it’s a big chance for “very talented player, great character and personality” Juan Foyth.

7.27pm GMT

Apoel shouldn’t pose many problems, even to this Spurs team, and lost the home game 3-0. But! Harry Kane, who scored three in that game, isn’t around tonight. And! They drew both matches with Dortmund, which basically nixed BVB’s campaign, and the chief dangerman is Mickael Pote – a 33-year-old striker from Benin who scored in both of those games and has been on prolific form.

7.15pm GMT

Spurs fans, what would you like to get out of tonight? “The simple enjoyment of watching my team play football without pressure” is a fine and valid answer. But anything else? Are you worried by the recent dip or is it just something that had to happen sometime? Is it all down to Mauricio’s book? Anything else? Email or tweet me. We’ve time to chat.

7.05pm GMT

Pochettino rings the changes then, as expected. The likes of Nkoudou, Foyth and Llorente get a start. Spurs’ recruitment of squad players has not always been on point really, has it ... will they make a splash today though?

7.04pm GMT

Tottenham Hotspur: Vorm, Aurier, Foyth, Sanchez, Rose, Sissoko, Winks, Nkoudou, Alli, Son, Llorente. Subs: Gazzaniga, Vertonghen, Dembele, Davies, Walker-Peters, Amos, Sterling.

Apoel Nicosia: Perez, Vouros, Rueda, Carlao, Lago, Zahid, Vinicius, Morais, Aloneftis, Ebecilio, Pote. Subs: Gudino, de Camargo, Alexandrou, Sallai, Antoniou, Farias, Merkis.

10.34am GMT

Good evening everyone. Now, I don’t mean to be a buzzkill but on the face of things there’s not a huge deal riding on this. Spurs have won their group – a brilliant achievement, by any measure, even if Real Madrid and Borussia Dortmund are both off-key this season – and have little clear reason to go hell for leather. Apoel, meanwhile, are bottom of the group and are out, done, finished.

Well, not quite. If Apoel better Dortmund’s result at Real Madrid then they’d end up in the Europa League, which would be no mean achievement in this quartet I guess. And that, in turn, would deeper the pall of uncertainty that has enveloped Tottenham in recent weeks. On paper this is the kind of fixture that can give everyone a bit of a bounce again – a big win tonight could beget similar in kind-looking home league games against Stoke and Brighton. But if what will, presumably, be a skeleton lineup falters then the questions will remain. It’s a delicate one for Mauricio Pochettino, really: he needs to rest a few players who are, quite clearly, trudging through quicksand at the moment but not so many that Spurs get caught short.

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Football transfer rumours: Matthijs de Ligt to Barcelona? Walcott to West Ham?

ons, 06/12/2017 - 09:41

Today’s fluff is mulling things over

Lionel Messi can’t make his mind up. Last week he wanted Barcelona to sign
Philippe Coutinho, but now he’s urging them to drop their interest in the
Brazilian forward and turn their attention elsewhere. Messi, who apparently turned down a mega offer from Manchester City before extending his contract at the Nou Camp, appears to be in charge of everything at Barca these days – he gets to design next season’s kit – and thinks they need a new centre-back after Samuel Umtiti’s injury. Ajax’s eerily composed 18-year-old, Matthijs de Ligt, is his top pick. For De Ligt, it’s not the worst recommendation.

With Marcos Alonso looking like he needs a good long nap, Chelsea are
planning to use some of the money they didn’t spend last summer and buy
Alex Sandro for £80m. Alessandro Del Piero thinks that Juventus should
spend the cash on Liverpool’s Emre Can.

Related: Manchester City did not offer €100m to Lionel Messi, says Pep Guardiola

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