Premier League, Scottish Premiership & Championship team news

Posted by Warren Fyfe on September 24, 2016 with No Comments
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Sergio Aguero

Premier League leaders Manchester City are away to Swansea City, and striker Sergio Aguero is available again following a three-match suspension.

In the late game, last season’s runners up Arsenal host Chelsea in one of eight Premier League matches on Saturday.

There are 11 matches in the Championship and four in Scotland’s top flight. Full team news below.

Premier League

Man Utd v Leicester

Bournemouth v Everton

Liverpool v Hull

Middlesbrough v Tottenham

Stoke v West Brom

Sunderland v Crystal Palace

Swansea v Man City

Arsenal v Chelsea


QPR v Birmingham

Brighton v Barnsley

Fulham v Bristol City

Leeds v Ipswich

Reading v Huddersfield

Rotherham v Cardiff

Sheffield Wednesday v Nottingham Forest

Wolves v Brentford

Aston Villa v Newcastle

Norwich v Burton

Derby v Blackburn

Scottish Premiership

Celtic v Kilmarnock

Hearts v Ross County

Inverness CT v Dundee

Partick Thistle v Motherwell

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Andre Gray: Burnley striker banned for four matches for social media comments

Posted by Warren Fyfe on September 24, 2016 with No Comments
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Andre Gray

Gray joined Burnley for a then club-record fee in August 2015

Burnley striker Andre Gray has been suspended for four matches after being found guilty of misconduct in relation to comments he posted on social media.

Gray, 25, had been charged by the Football Association for bringing the game into disrepute over homophobic posts he made on Twitter in 2012.

He apologised and asked “for forgiveness” for the posts, saying he was now a “different person”.

Both the club and the player have accepted the ban.

Gray’s ban starts with Monday’s Premier League game against Watford at Turf Moor and he will miss further fixtures against Arsenal, Everton and Southampton.

He has also been fined £25,000.

“We believe this charge, regarding historical social media posts, should now also serve as a warning to all professional footballers, and participants in the wider sporting field,” Burnley said in a statement.

The tweets, which also contained offensive terms, were posted when Gray was playing for non-league Hinckley United.

They came to light on 20 August, the day he scored his first top-flight goal as he helped Burnley to a 2-0 win over Liverpool at Turf Moor.

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Rooney affected by strong criticism

Posted by Warren Fyfe on September 24, 2016 with No Comments
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Jose Mourinho

Jose Mourinho could lose three successive league games for only the second time in his managerial career

Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho says Wayne Rooney has been affected by “strong” criticism he received after England’s recent win over Slovakia.

Rooney has endured a frustrating season and his place in the United team has been called into question in the build-up to Saturday’s match with Leicester.

“I think there was a Wayne before the Slovakia-England and a Wayne after the Slovakia-England,” Mourinho said.

England won 1-0 in Trnava but Rooney did not impress in a midfield role.

Mourinho added: “I am not blaming Sam [Allardyce, England manager], not at all.

“I am blaming the people that after England-Slovakia were, in my opinion, too strong with somebody that is a very important player in the history of English football.

“I think it was too much but I still think, a big boy like he is, he has to face it in a strong way.”

Mourinho also insisted his captain is not too important to be dropped from the starting XI.

“[In] football everyone is the same and if he has to go on the bench, he goes on the bench. If he has to stay at home, he stays at home,” he said.

“But that doesn’t mean that you don’t trust him or you have a problem. Not at all.

“We have no problems. He is our captain but, of course, no privilege – he is like anyone else.”


United forward Anthony Martial will miss the visit of Leicester because of heavy bruising on his calf and ankle.

Luke Shaw and Henrikh Mkhitaryan are fit after groin and thigh injuries respectively but Phil Jones is out.

Leicester keeper Kasper Schmeichel has overcome concussion but has a muscle strain which could delay his return.

Marcin Wasilewski is banned after his midweek red card against Chelsea, while Nampalys Mendy will not be risked.


Simon Brotherton: “Three league defeats in a row is almost unthinkable for Jose Mourinho and has only happened once before in his managerial career, but he’ll need to find a better formula than the one used at Vicarage Road a week ago to avoid it happening this weekend.

“Last week’s win over Burnley was more like it from Leicester, with new signing Islam Slimani scoring twice on his league debut. But the champions haven’t started well on their travels this season, losing at Hull and Liverpool.

“Leicester’s only win in the last 16 meetings with Manchester United was the memorable 5-3 game two years ago. Both matches ended 1-1 last season, with the latter draw in May preceding Leicester’s title celebrations two days later when Spurs lost at Chelsea.”

Twitter: @SimonBrotherton


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I can’t protect players from ‘Einsteins’ – Mourinho

Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho on Leicester City: “They won the Premier League because some of the big teams were not good enough last season, but they won because they were very good and they are still very good.

“Their defensive process is clear, their attacking organisation is very easy to understand, too, but it is very difficult to cope with it.

“It is very difficult to keep a clean sheet against a team like Leicester and it is difficult to score goals against a team like Leicester.”

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Manchester United v Leicester: Ranieri dismisses talk of Mourinho feud

Leicester City manager Claudio Ranieri: “We are fearless. Why are we scared to go there? More than lose, what can we do there? “I enjoy – 70,000 people is amazing, fantastic. I don’t want to go when there is just you and me to play. It is a very bad show.

“When you go in this big stadium you want to show your best.”


Leicester are still a decent side but, understandably, they have struggled to replace N’Golo Kante and are not at the same level they were last season.

I think they will let Manchester United have some chances on Saturday and I am backing Jose Mourinho’s side to win, with the proviso he has to address his selection issues.

Prediction: 2-1

Lawro’s full predictions v world number one darts player Michael van Gerwen

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EFL: Premier League B teams and ‘non-English’ clubs ruled out of league reforms

Posted by Warren Fyfe on September 22, 2016 with No Comments
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Hull City

Hull City were promoted to the Premier League after beating Sheffield Wednesday in the Championship play-off final in May

Premier League B teams and ‘non-English’ clubs will not be included in plans to reform the structure of the English Football League.

In May, it was revealed that the EFL, formerly known as the Football League before a rebrand this summer, could expand to include a fifth tier by 2019-20, with 100 teams over five divisions.

It is planned that additional clubs would come from the National League.

EFL clubs met to discuss the proposals for the first time on Thursday.

The exclusion from the plans, which will be voted on by all clubs in June 2017, of extra clubs from non-English leagues would appear to remove any prospect of Scottish giants Celtic and Rangers being involved in the EFL in the foreseeable future. Welsh clubs Cardiff and Newport already compete in the EFL.

Meanwhile, the idea to include Premier League B teams in any restructure which formed part of the Football Association commission’s four-point plan to boost English football, has also been rejected.

“The logical place for many was to source the additional teams for League Three from the National League,” EFL chief executive Shaun Harvey said.

“We will now continue our consultation with the National League with a little more certainty as to what any change could mean for them.”

This season, the Checkatrade Trophy has included under-21 teams from Premier League and Championship clubs for the first time on a trial basis, something which the “overwhelming majority of fans” are against, according to the Football Supporters’ Federation.

Why change the current system?

In May, the FA said the fixture schedule needed looking at “for the benefit of all” and the main aim of expanding to a five-tier league was to reduce fixture congestion.

The EFL believes the benefits of the possible expansion to five leagues, each consisting of 20 teams, include:

  • Ensuring more games are played on weekends and Bank Holidays;
  • Removing fixture congestion and clashes;
  • Helping EFL clubs make more money;
  • Keeping the play-off finals on the last weekend of the domestic season.

For the proposal to be approved, they will need the backing of 65 EFL clubs (90%) at next year’s annual general meeting.

What does the proposed re-structuring involve?

The proposals are part of the FA’s ‘Whole Game Solution’ and, as well as adding a fifth tier, centre around:

  • The option of introducing a winter break
  • Regionalisation of the lower divisions
  • Changing the number of teams per division

In 2014, an FA commission’s review also called for a ban on non-European Union players outside of the top flight and a reduction in non-home-grown players in Premier League squads.

What feedback did clubs give the EFL?

As well as rejecting the idea of including Premier League B teams and extra ‘non-English’ teams being added, clubs also gave the EFL feedback on the idea of introducing a winter break.

An EFL statement added: “The feedback has confirmed that clubs in League One, Two and the proposed League Three would want to play through a winter break if introduced.”

Portsmouth chief executive Mark Catlin told BBC Radio Solent: “A lot of people’s views have been taken on board by Shaun Harvey in the consultation. By taking [B teams] off the agenda, the EFL board have given themselves a greater chance of success.

“The other line in the sand as far as we’re concerned is taking away our aspiration to compete in the highest possible tier – by cutting the Championship and other divisions from 24 to 20 teams, they’re just never going to get our vote on that.

“One of the options that was brought to the table during the meeting was an option for no change at all.

“We like the existing structure, we like having FA Cup ties on weekends and we don’t want a winter break or two Scottish clubs introduced.”


BBC Radio 5 live sports news correspondent Richard Conway

“A radical revamp of the Football League structure was first proposed in May.

“The changes would see the introduction of a new ‘League Three’, resulting in 100 clubs in total within the professional pyramid.

“The big question for the EFL concerns where these extra clubs will come from?

“Today officials announced they will NOT be drawn from Premier League B teams or from Scotland. And that’s significant given the reported interest from Rangers and Celtic in joining up with their southern counterparts.

“It also puts the final nail in the coffin on the B team debate, which first came to prominence in 2014 when Greg Dyke’s much criticised commission of inquiry into English football reported its findings.

“It’s a move likely to be welcomed by fans – the arrival of under-21 Premier League teams into the Checkatrade Trophy this season has been met with protest and boycotts by supporters.

“Negotiations amongst the existing 72 EFL clubs will now continue, with a planned vote on final proposals expected to be held next summer.”

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Rangers face Celtic in Scottish League Cup semi-final

Posted by Warren Fyfe on September 22, 2016 with No Comments
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Rangers v Celtic

Celtic won the first Old Firm game of the season 5-1

Rangers will face Celtic in the semi-final of the Scottish League Cup, while Championship side Greenock Morton will face Aberdeen.

It will be the second Old Firm clash of the season after Celtic thumped their Glasgow rivals 5-1 in their first Premiership meeting on 10 September.

Rangers beat Queen of the South 5-0 on Tuesday, while Celtic beat Alloa 2-0.

Morton, in their first League Cup semi-final for 37 years, will face Aberdeen, who pipped St Johnstone 1-0.

Morton beat fellow Championship side Dundee United 2-1 in the quarter-finals.

The semi-finals will be played on the weekend of 22 and 23 October.

Aberdeen manager Derek McInnes started his playing career at Morton, making over 200 appearances for the Greenock side.

“I am pleased Morton are in the semi-final, that is my club,” McInnes told BBC Scotland. “They gave me my start.

“I have huge respect for everyone there, and the work that the chairman and [manager] Jim (Duffy) are doing. I’m delighted they’re doing so well.

“It’ll be interesting playing against them. Hopefully we will go there in form, hopefully we can keep this killer instinct and winning mentality we have discovered going.”

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Mourinho issues ‘prehistoric’, says Leicester boss Ranieri

Posted by Warren Fyfe on September 22, 2016 with No Comments
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Manchester United v Leicester: Ranieri dismisses talk of Mourinho feud

Leicester manager Claudio Ranieri says Jose Mourinho “is a fantastic person” and any issues between the two are “prehistoric”.

The champions play Manchester United at Old Trafford on Saturday, with the two managers having clashed in the past.

Mourinho called Ranieri “a loser” after replacing him at Chelsea and also insulted him while Inter Milan boss.

Ranieri said: “Mourinho is a fantastic manager, intelligent, clever. “[The issues] were a long time ago.”

Mourinho replaced Ranieri at Chelsea in 2004 and said that the club considered the Italian to be “a loser”, before the pair repeatedly fell out while both managing in Serie A.

The Manchester United boss won the treble with Inter at the end of his three-year spell 2010, with Ranieri in charge of Juventus and Roma during that period.

Mourinho criticised Ranieri’s command of English, said he was “almost 70″ when he was 56 and again questioned whether he had the mentality to win titles.

But Ranieri said any complaints were “prehistoric, not now.”

“It [their relationship] is fantastic, very good, no problems,” he said.

“Why? Do you remember in the summer when we had the Soccer Aid, I managed the Rest of the World team against Jose’s English side.

“Maybe he has to offer me a good red wine. I love red wine and if he offers I will go and drink it with him [after Saturday's game].”

United ended a run of three defeats with a win at Northampton in midweek, after which Mourinho called his critics “football Einsteins”.

Mourinho – who won his third and most recent Premier League title with Chelsea in 2015 – saw his team heavily criticised after defeat at Watford last weekend.

He told MUTV: “We had a bad week. I know that some football Einsteins, they tried to delete 16 years of my career and delete an unbelievable history of Manchester United and focus on a bad week and three bad results.

“But that’s the new football – it’s full of Einsteins.

“I can understand completely the disappointment for the fans with the last week, but I’m sure, back at home, they will be behind the team like they always are.”

United captain Wayne Rooney has also been criticised for his recent form, but he told MUTV: “I don’t really listen to what a lot of people out there are saying, because a lot of it is rubbish.”

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Zinedine Zidane: How Real Madrid boss has turned side into record breakers

Posted by Warren Fyfe on September 21, 2016 with No Comments
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Zinedine Zidane with the Champions League trophy

Four points from top spot and a 4-0 hammering by Barcelona in January – but five months later, and with Zidane in charge, Real Madrid were European champions

When Zinedine Zidane was appointed Real Madrid manager in January, the Spanish giants were in disarray.

Rafa Benitez’s ill-fated reign had left Los Blancos trailing both Atletico Madrid and Barcelona in La Liga, with points dropped in four of their previous eight games and memories still fresh of a humiliating 4-0 home thrashing by Barca.

Now, less than nine months later, not only are Zidane’s Real the European champions, they are also on the verge of breaking La Liga’s all-time record for consecutive victories.

Sunday’s 2-0 triumph at Espanyol was the 16th straight victory for Zidane’s men, who ended last season just one point behind champions Barca after winning their final 12 games. This season they have established early control of top spot with maximum points from four games.

That winning streak is a Real record and also equals the best winning sequence in Spain’s top flight, achieved by Pep Guardiola’s all-conquering Barca in 2010-11.

And they have the chance to beat that on Wednesday with victory over Villarreal at the Bernabeu.

So, how has Zidane done it? Not in the way you might have expected.


Yaya Toure: Man City boss Pep Guardiola wants apology before midfielder returns

Posted by Warren Fyfe on September 21, 2016 with No Comments
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Yaya Toure playing for Manchester City this season

Yaya Toure joined Manchester City in July 2010 and has won two Premier League titles

Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola says he will not pick Yaya Toure until his agent apologises for criticising the decision to leave the player out.

Toure, 33, has made one appearance for City this season and he was left out of the Champions League squad.

His agent, Dimitri Seluk, claimed the midfielder had been “humiliated”, and Guardiola said: “Seluk must apologise. If he doesn’t, he [Toure] won’t play.”

But Seluk told BBC Sport: “What do I need to apologise for?”

He added: “He should speak to Yaya. Yaya is doing his job.

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Guardiola demands apology from Toure

“We will see what happens. His contract expires at the end of the season and in January he will be free to go.”

Guardiola, who was Barcelona boss when Toure was sold to City in 2010, said of the player: “It was so difficult for me to put him out of the Champions League, so difficult. I know him, I know he’s a good good guy.

“But the day after his manager [Seluk] spoke. In that moment Yaya is out.

“I cannot accept as a coach, when his player doesn’t play, going to the media to speak and speak and speak.”

He said Seluk did not have the “courage” to call him but said Seluk could always apologise via the media. “When that happens Yaya will be part of the group and he will have the same chance to play all the games.”

It is understood the first Toure knew of his manager’s stance against playing him was when he announced it at Tuesday’s news conference.

Guardiola was speaking soon after Toure announced his international retirement.

Having made his debut for the Ivory Coast in 2004, Toure won 113 international caps, winning the Africa Cup of Nations in 2015.

“Writing this note was probably ‘the most difficult match of my life’,” he said in a statement.

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Yaya Toure’s 2010 World Cup goal for Ivory Coast against North Korea

“After 14 years at the highest level, I’m sure this is the right time for me.”

Meanwhile, City captain Vincent Kompany could make his first appearance of the season in Wednesday’s League Cup third-round tie at Swansea.

“He has trained a lot and he will be ready and be part of the group and compete with other central defenders to win his position,” said Guardiola.

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Chelsea fight back to beat Leicester after extra time

Posted by Warren Fyfe on September 21, 2016 with No Comments
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Cesc Fabregas

Cesc Fabregas’ goals were his first of the season

Cesc Fabregas scored twice in extra time as Chelsea came from two goals down to beat 10-man Leicester and reach the EFL Cup fourth round.

Shinji Okazaki’s header and instinctive strike put Leicester in control, but Gary Cahill nodded in before the break.

Cesar Azpilicueta equalised with a long-range effort before Foxes defender Marcin Wasilewski was sent off.

Fabregas’ clipped finish put Chelsea ahead early in the first extra period and a powerful shot sealed the win.

It had been a pulsating cup tie – particularly in the second half – with chances at both ends but Wasilewski’s dismissal for elbowing Diego Costa ultimately proved costly.

Chelsea deserved to progress but Foxes boss Claudio Ranieri will perhaps be buoyed by his side’s performance for much of the game, with glimpses of the incisive attacking and compact defending that helped them win the title last season.

Slick in attack, sloppy in defence


Mark Hughes: Stoke manager fined £8,000 by Football Association

Posted by Warren Fyfe on September 19, 2016 with No Comments
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Mark Hughes

Mark Hughes (back row, second from right) was sent to the stands in the first half of Stoke’s 4-0 defeat at home to Tottenham

Stoke manager Mark Hughes has been fined £8,000 by the Football Association after being sent off during his side’s loss at home to Tottenham.

Hughes was sent to the stand for reacting angrily during the 4-0 defeat on the 10 September, and later charged with improper conduct.

He later said he would not contest the charge as it would cost money he would prefer to give to his grandchildren.

The 52-year-old said the FA charge “rubbed salt into the wounds”.

The Welshman had reacted angrily after Stoke forward Marko Arnautovic was booked for diving.

The club, who are currently bottom of the Premier League, have said they want to speak to the FA about a “potentially inconsistent approach” from match officials following the charge against Hughes.

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