Get your teeth stuck into this lot from today:
Sachin Nakrani meets his footballing hero.
Ben Fisher writes about his managerial hero.
Emmet Gates writes about Italian footballing heroes.
Guardian heroes write about potential weekend heroes.
That’s the lot from me today. Thank you for reading, commenting, tweeting, and emailing … and good luck to whichever team you’ll be supporting this weekend. Bye for now.
England and Northern Ireland players intend to show solidarity with the alleged victims of abuse in the US National Women’s Soccer League before Saturday’s Women’s World Cup qualifier at Wembley.
The Norwich head coach Daniel Farke feels his side will face “the toughest task in world football” when they head to Chelsea on Saturday up against “one of the greatest coaches on this planet” in his good friend Thomas Tuchel.
“We know that we face the toughest task in world football – a world-class coach, world-class players and a world-class club,” said Farke. “They are the reigning Champions League winners and they are top of the league, in the best league in the world. It couldn’t be harder, but we are looking forward to this game. We want to play this game and are not fearful – we have worked so hard to be able to play on this level for these games.
“If we don’t trust ourselves to play these games, then after each promotion we should say ‘no, thanks a lot, but we don’t take part in the Premier League’ and rather stay in the Championship or perhaps League One where we will win many games. If we go there with a top performance, then in football there is always a chance to have one of those days.” (PA)
You want more Newcastle content? You got it. Graeme Jones says ‘hope’ of Kevin Keegan era has returned to Newcastle:
It’s only the ruddy Crystal Palace v Newcastle match preview!
Here’s a good shot from inside Emirates Stadium before Arsenal v Aston Villa. Why not?
And if you missed it, here’s a story from Nick Ames on Mikel Arteta saying that the constant abuse of football managers is putting people off from doing the job:
The Wolves head coach Bruno Lage says it will be a pleasure to manage against Leeds counterpart Marcelo Bielsa on Saturday, and knows exactly what to expect from the hosts at Elland Road.
“He’s a real gentleman outside of football and in football he’s a brilliant mind who thinks of football in his own way,” Lage said of Bielsa. “When you have the chance to see his lectures and when you have the chance to analyse his team, the way he plays, you’re going to play against a strong opponent. From my point of view here when I study the team’s first I want to see how they are defending. If they run or not and when you look at Leeds you see they run, they press, they press high and they press as soon as possible.
“The other thing is to look at how they attack and if they want the ball or to only have two or three touches. When you look for Leeds you can see they do both very good. Tomorrow we’re going to play against a strong team. It’s going to be a pleasure to play against Bielsa, because when you look for the team you can learn a lot of things; the way he moves, the way he wants his team to play and in this way it’s going to be a strong challenge for us.” (PA)
The Newcastle interim manager Graeme Jones went to the same school as Forest legend Steve Stone? Remarkable!
The Leicester boss Brendan Rodgers saluted Patson Daka and insisted he will make his mark in the Premier League. The Zambia striker has five goals in his last two games after his historic four-goal haul in the Europa League. The 23-year-old moved to Leicester from RB Salzburg in the summer and Rodgers is impressed with his character and expects him to shine in the top flight.
He said: “When he came in and had to do his quarantine he was going to be stuck indoors for 10 days, the club were great in asking him what he wanted – tellies, PlayStations or whatever else – and he didn’t want anything. Just some books. He wanted to read, find out about Leicester – he probably read Vards’s book maybe. He is just such a great guy, full of life and loves being here. His game is going to continually improve.
“He has a natural ability to sniff out a goal and that will be proven here in the Premier League. Patson was always one we wanted to give that little bit of time to adapt, to our way of working, the league. He has scored his first Premier League goal, the first Zambian player to score, and then to score four goals was an incredible individual achievement.” (PA)
The Everton manager Rafael Benitez will put his long friendship with Watford boss Claudio Ranieri to one side when their sides meet at Goodison Park. “I first met him between 1993 and 1997 – I don’t remember the exact year – when I went to see him when he was the manager of Fiorentina,” Benitez said of Ranieri. “He treated me really well so I have a good relationship with Claudio and we have been friends since then. He came to visit me later on at Liverpool and I think he’s a very good manager, a very good person and a good friend.
“I’ve known him a long time and he’s always had energy, he loves football so he has passion. It’s not a surprise that he can be available and manage in the Premier League (aged 70) because he has a great record here. I’m happy to see him back because he is someone with experience and can give something to the Premier League.” (PA)
“Liverpool fan here,” comments RiffRaffery. “Whatever people’s opinions on recent events at Newcastle, I’d just like to say that having watched the interview of Graeme Jones (here) it’s clear that although he has been rather cruelly thrust into the limelight for two games only, the fact that he’s a local lad and lifelong supporter, as well as having a much-needed down to earth and pragmatic attitude and a lot of experience, means that if anyone can get the players off to a decent start it’s him. I wish him all the best.”
Presuming you’re in the office and quietly ‘taking the ball to the corner flag’ before being released for the weekend, why not pit your wits against this week’s quiz?
Can Burnley somehow muster a first win of the season against Southampton? Graham Searles previews Saturday’s encounter at St Mary’s:
Andy Hunter previews Everton v Watford, otherwise known as Benítez v Ranieri:
And here is our Chelsea v Norwich match preview:
Thomas Tuchel has refused to set a timescale on Romelu Lukaku and Timo Werner’s return from injury. The Chelsea boss confirmed Lukaku and Werner will miss Saturday’s Premier League meeting with Norwich and Tuesday’s Carabao Cup encounter with Southampton.
“Romelu, Timo and Christian are all out for tomorrow,” said Tuchel. “There’s no big news for Romelu and Timo; I can say they are out for tomorrow and they will be out for the Southampton game and from there we see what’s next. I don’t think it makes any sense that we go into speculation about how long it’s going to be.
“If we’d done this with Christian Pulisic you’d think maybe I’m a liar, constantly lying and hiding something. But the fact is you never know, things can be shorter than expected or they can be longer than expected. The one thing I can tell you for sure is that they are both in treatment, they are both feeling positive, they are not too worried and are out for the next two games for sure, and then we’ll see.” (PA)
To whet the appetite before Inter play Juventus in Serie A on Sunday, we’re looking back on some of their classic encounters
Some more thoughts here from Jones, the interim Newcastle manager, following the events of this week. Via the club’s Twitter feed:
“First thoughts is sadness … because I had an excellent working relationship with the gaffer [Steve Bruce]. But we all know football, we all know how it is, we all come into it knowing ‘the rules’, and that’s where my initial emotions were. Since then, it’s very professional, I’ve got a job to do.”
More news on the seismic super Sunday showdown between Manchester United and Liverpool:
Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has confirmed Bruno Fernandes is a fitness doubt for Liverpool’s visit to Old Trafford on Sunday. The Portugal playmaker Fernandes is among several United players feeling the effects of a bruising midweek Champions League contest with Atalanta.
“Games like Wednesday night are always going to bring knocks and bruises,” Solskjaer said at his pre-match press conference. “We do have two or three from that game. Bruno might be one of them that is a doubt, but he’s doing everything he can to be ready.” (PA)
Jones added: “My focus is not on anything other than doing the best I can, and making sure everybody else does the best they can, for this football club, in the short and long term, to get football results.”
I can’t be completely sure, but I think he’s talking about football.
Following the departure of Steve Bruce, the Newcastle caretaker manager Graeme Jones has told media that he will be in charge of the team for the next two matches: Crystal Palace away on Saturday and Chelsea at home on Saturday 30 October.
“I spoke to the owners on Wednesday morning,” Jones said. “They’ve asked me to take on an interim basis, for the next two games, Crystal Palace and Chelsea at home. I’m fully focused on preparing the team as best we can to be competitive in both games.”
“My ambition is to do the best I can for my football club … I’m motivated in a completely different way to anywhere I’ve ever been, because I came to this club as a four-year-old … I know the culture of this football club.”
Pep Guardiola has sent a message of support to the Manchester City fan who was left in a coma following an attack that came after the club’s 5-1 Champions League win over Club Brugge on Tuesday.
Belgian-based supporter Guido De Pauw, 63, is said to be in stable condition in hospital after being attacked at a service station near Drongen on his journey home from the match. Two of the five suspects who were arrested remain in custody. Guardiola appeared at his Friday press conference in a t-shirt which read ‘We’re with you, Guido’, and said: “Of course the whole club and organisation from the chairman down we are behind him and we are optimistic because in the last hours he is getting better.
“Of course he has all the support through the club and whatever they need from our club is there. We have a big, big hug for him and for all his family, and we wish that he can come back soon to the Etihad Stadium.” (PA)
Manchester United v Liverpool: Jurgen Klopp has been asked about comparisons between Mo Salah, who many believe to be the best player in the world right now, and Cristiano Ronaldo, who Cristiano Ronaldo believes is the best player in the world right now.
“Why should we compare?” he asked. “Obviously both are world-class players. Even though Ronaldo’s left foot is not bad, I would say Mo’s left foot is probably better. Cristiano may be better in the air and his right foot is probably better. Speed-wise, both are pretty quick and desperate to score goals but I’ve never really thought about that. I’m not too interested in comparing, sorry.”
Manchester United v Liverpool: More from Jurgen Klopp on Sunday’s big game. “I prepare the team for a tough game against a really good opponent,” he said. “I prepare for Manchester United and the Battle of Britain and all these things because they have a really good team. United versus Liverpool is a massive game, obviously we know that. United are not overly happy with results so far but we all know they are able to do incredible stuff. This we know as we have already seen it.”
Women’s Football: Leah Williamson will keep the armband for England’s World Cup qualifiers against Northern Ireland and Latvia but manager Sarina Wiegman will take her time to decide on a permanent captain, it says here.
Arsenal’s Williamson was given the honour for last month’s big wins over North Macedonia and Luxembourg after Steph Houghton had to withdraw with an ankle injury. Houghton and reigning world player of the year Lucy Bronze remain sidelined for the upcoming matches and Wiegman wants a chance to assess all her options before she makes a decision.
“I’m not close yet,” said Wiegman. “I think Leah does very well. She plays well, she’s very good in the group so she does a very good job. But we haven’t had Steph and Lucy Bronze in our group and they’ve captained this team before. So we’ll just take a little time and, when everyone is fit, performs well, comes in the squads, then I can see how everyone relates and what’s best for the team.”
England and Northern Ireland are two of three teams in their group alongside Austria that have a 100 per cent record after two qualifying matches. England beat Northern Ireland 6-0 in a friendly in February but Wiegman sees Saturday’s match as a step up.
“I expect a harder game than we had last month,” she said. “I think we’ll still be the team that will have possession lots of the time. Obviously it’s very nice to play at Wembley and to have a big crowd so we’re really looking forward to it. Northern Ireland has qualified for the Euros for the first time, which is really good. They have been in transition a little bit. I’m really excited to get to the game tomorrow.”
This will be England’s first match at Wembley since more than 70,000 fans turned up for a friendly defeat by Germany two years ago, and their first competitive game since the stadium reopened in 2007.
Manchester United v Liverpool: Working as a pundit analysing Manchester United’s win over Atalanta on BT Sport on Wednesday night, Paul Scholes said Jurgen Klopp would be “rubbing his hands together” at the prospect of facing United on Sunday. The Liverpool manager insisted he was doing nothing of the kind.
““I was watching the game and there was not one second where I was rubbing my hands together, I can say that,” he told reporters. “There was no reason for it. Atalanta caused United problems in the first half but even in that half, United had three clear-cut chances. Second half was a demonstration of United going for it, which can cause problems. I’m preparing the team for a tough game against a really good opponent.”
Manchester United v Liverpool: Liverpool’s manager says Curtis Jones has recovered from his groin injury and will take a full part in training this afternoon. Thiago Alcantara, while back gambolling on the training ground grass, will not.
Manchester United v Liverpool: Speculation abounds that Bruno Fernandes could be absent for Manchester United’s match against Liverpool at Old Trafford on Sunday after taking “a knock” during his side’s Champions League win over Atalanta on Wednesday night. We’ll hear more about the prognosis when Ole Gunnar Solskjær addresses the ladies and gentlemen of the Fourth Estate at lunchtime. But first, let’s hear from his opposite number, Herr Klopp.
Leeds United v Wolves: With just six points and seven goals from eight games to their name this season, Leeds United host in-form Wolves tomorrow hoping to kick-start their season. Marcelo Bielsa’s side finished ninth on their return to the Premier League last season but currently sit 17th in the table, three points above the relegation zone.
Last week’s defeat at Southampton was, in Bielsa’s own words, their worst performance to date and the 66-year-old Argentinian has made it clear to his squad what he expects from them. “Commitment and not indifference, responsibility and not passing over your responsibilities. Hope and faith before disappointment,” he said. “There’s a phrase that I read not so long ago, that teams are made out of crystal. It’s difficult to make them solid but they break from one day to the other.
“So we played our best game of the season against Watford and the worst against Southampton. More than whether the opponents were better or worse, teams change frequently, so what is it that allows a loss of form or for a team to recover quickly? There are groups that, in the face of difficulties, they move away, they don’t want to belong to something that’s not going through an attractive moment.
“And there’s other groups that are coming together where they belong and they make the maximum efforts, to modify the realities that affect their people, their club and their fans. And the challenge for a coach in adversity is to try and find this type of feeling.”
Southampton v Burnley: Southampton hope to keep Burnley’s winless start to the season going when the two sides meet at St Mary’s on Saturday and ahead of the game, Ralph Hasenhuttl has been waxing lyrical about the welcome strength in depth of his squad following the acquisition of summer signings Adam Armstrong, Romain Perraud, Theo Walcott and Armando Broja, even if it does make it more difficult to keep all his players happy.
“It is challenging,” he said. “The good thing is that we have a lot of games. We can make subs, changes, rotation – if you want. The players are under a lot of pressure, from their families and agents. When you are a Premier League player you’re in [the shop] window every weekend. When you’re not playing, everyone is asking you: ‘Why not?’. I don’t want to say that we’re not a big club but at the big clubs you have duels for positions, last season we didn’t have duels.
“Last season the message that we were sending to the players was that if they were fit they were playing – this season it is that if you are fit then you now have to prove to me that you are better than the others.”
For all the players they have jockeying for limited positions, Southampton only notched first Premier League win of the season by beating Leeds 1-0 last weekend – but Hasenhuttl said he has noticed a change in training.
“I like working with these players at the moment,” he said. “We have a good mentality, there is a good atmosphere and everybody wants to work. If we have a player who is not feeling so good one day, they can get swapped out for another who is ready to work hard. This is exactly what I wanted to see.”
Brighton v Manchester City: Brighton host Manchester city at the Amex Stadium in Falmer tomorrow evening and Graham Potter – recently heralded as one of the brightest managerial talents in Europe by his opposite number Pep Guardiola – has been busy repaying the compliment.
“They were so impressive in their performances against Liverpool and Chelsea,” the Brighton manager said of Manchester City. “To pick up four points from those two matches away from home was incredible. We know the quality of the opposition – as good as anybody in the world.
“The goalkeeper can hit balls behind the defensive line from within his own six-yard box, the midfield is so fluid, the false nine challenges you in terms of how you defend, the width is incredible, the workrate of the team is amazing and it looks like they are getting better and better. They’re so good. How do you prepare? A lot of head-scratching is the honest answer!”
Albion currently sit fourth in the table but Potter believes there is plenty of room for improvement in his side. “We know we can improve,” he said. “That’s not to say the points will follow, because that’s the beauty of football, but we know we have got a lot of work to do. The aim is to be a top-10 club – that’s been articulated clearly and often – but that’s not to say we are there now. We need to keep fighting, we have to keep improving and we’ve got a long way to go before we get there.”
“The Belgian Manchester City fan, Guido De Pauw, who was attacked after the club’s 5-1 win over Club Brugge on Tuesday, remains in a coma but is now stable,” writes Jamie Jackson. “Two of the five suspects arrested remain in custody and three were released under strict bail conditions after all appeared before a judge in Ghent on Friday.”
Brentford v Leicester: Following their terrific performance in narrow defeat against Chelsea last weekend, Brentford host returnbing-to-form Leicester, who will travel to west London on the back of impressive wins over Manchester United and Spartak Moscow. Having scored his first goal for Leicester against United, Patson Daka added another four to his tally during his side’s midweek Europa League tie in Moscow. Thomas Frank was impressed with the 23-year-old’s heroics.
“Of course we have followed Daka,” said Brentford’s manager. “Especially leading into this game we know he is a player we need to be very aware of. But let’s see what Brendan [Rodgers] is doing for the game on Sunday and whether it will be Vardy and Iheanacho or Daka.
Leicester City seem to be hitting their stride after a slow start to the season, something that hasn’t gone unnoticed by Frank. “Brendan and his coaching staff have done a fantastic job the last couple of years,” he added. “They have come fifth, really close to those Champions League spots, playing an entertaining style of football. They have really developed a good side that is really dangerous and they will challenge for the top four again this season. They are a top side with a top manager and top staff, and we will need to be at our absolute best to get something out of the game – which we of course believe we can.”
Frank will be without winger Yoane Wissa, who faces a few weeks on the sidelines after suffering an ankle injury.
Everton v Watford: Following their smiting at the hands of Liverpool last weekend, Watford face another tough assignment against Merseyside opposition when they travel to Goodison Park to take on Everton tomorrow in Claudio Ranieri’s second match in charge of the club.
“I am very sure at the end Watford will be safe,” he said today, when asked about his side’s chances of avoiding relegation. “Always I try to recharge the batteries of my players and they train very, very well. I am hopeful about the next match. It was much better this week because against Liverpool I met all my players two days before.
“This week I work well with all my players and I think day by day they understand much better my ideas about football. Of course we make some mistakes but I think match by match we improve. It is important to improve immediately and make less mistakes as quick as possible.”
Josh King is in contention to feature for Watford against his former club after returning from a knee injury but Kiko Femenia (hip) could join Francisco Sierralta, Christian Kabasele and Peter Etebo on the list of Watford’s lame and halt.
In case you missed it: Norwegian side Bodo Glimt beat Jose Mourinho’s Roma 6-1 in the Europa Conference League last night. While one can only imagine the disdain which Jose reserves for having to veen participate in such a lowly competition, being in charge of a team subjected to such a crushing humiliation by a team of minnows from the Arctic Circle must have rankled. Having initially taken the blame … up to a point, he was – as is customary of an embarrassing loss – very quick to throw his players under the bus.
“I decided to put out the side I did,” he said. “It’s my responsibility. Obviously I did it with good intentions in mind, for two main reasons. From one side, I wanted to give a chance to those players who have been working really hard but have not had much chance to play. From the other side, considering the squad we have and all the games we have to play, I wanted to rest some of the players that have played in pretty much every game.
“On an artificial pitch, in weather conditions like these, I decided to rotate a lot of players. Then, we lost to a side that was better than us. It’s simple. The Bodo first team is better than the one that started the game for us.”
This weekend’s Premier League fixtures
- Arsenal v Aston Villa (Friday 8pm)
- Chelsea v Norwich (Saturday 12.30pm)
- Crytal Palace v Newcastle United (3pm)
- Leeds United v Wolverhampton Wanderers (3pm)
- Everton v Watford (3pm)
- Southampton v Burnley (3pm)
- Brighton v Manchester City (5.30pm)
- Brentford v Leicester City (Sunday 2pm)
- West Ham v Tottenham Hotspur (2pm)
- Manchester United v Liverpool (4.30pm)
Welcome to our rolling Friday blog o’news, where we’ll attempt to ease you into another weekend of hi- and occasionally low-octane football action in England’s top flight and beyond.
We’ll bring you news from the day’s managerial press conferences, training ground updates and stay across any other interesting talking points and sub-plots that arise ahead of a Premier League weekend book-ended by tonight’s match between Arsenal v Aston Villa at the Emirates and Sunday afternoon’s intriguing set-to between Manchester United and Liverpool at Old Trafford.