Grealish faces spell on sidelines, weekend team news and more: football – live | Football

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Pep Guardiola was asked about Jim Ratcliffe’s stated intention to usurp Manchester City within three years, after the Ineos chief bought a stake in Manchester United. Is that timeframe realistic?

“I am pretty sure they will work to reduce that gap … but apart from that, I don’t know,” says Guardiola. “I am not there.”

Who is the person to ask?

“The people at the club who work there.”


Oliver Glasner, the new Crystal Palace manager, is coming off the back of last weekend’s 3-0 win against Burnley in his first match in charge after succeeding Roy Hodgson. He is having a chat with the media now and he confirms that Eberechi Eze has trained all week, and is available for selection against Tottenham tomorrow after a few weeks out injured. Will Hughes is also available again, but the defender Marc Guehi faces several weeks out after knee surgery.

“Eb’s a great player for us,” says Glasner. “But it’s also important that Will is back, that gives us more opportunities. Eb can’t win the game for us alone … he needs his teammates … but as a team, we’re in a good place.”

Glasner talks about Guehi’s knee operation: “Last week I said he could train with us this week. His knee reacted in a way we didn’t like … he visited the doctor one more time, and we said, it’s better to have surgery … we’ll support him as best we can.

Has Glasner raised the intensity in training? “We have to take care for the players. That they are ready for the game. The most important fitness level is Saturday.”

If I understood correctly, Glasner says that he has introduced training on Sunday for players who didn’t play that weekend, whereas normally they would have Sunday off if not playing.

“We always looked what they did before … we want to increase [training load] … but this is just the beginning of the cooperation of all of us. I didn’t find something new, that nobody does. But of course, we have our ideas, and we try to prepare as best we can.”


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Mauricio Pochettino is asked about Gary Neville’s recent comments about Chelsea. He says they will not use them as motivation, and that they are not overly concerned. “They [Chelsea players] only pay attention because here in England, when important people like Gary are talking in this way, but only that. You pay attention for a few seconds, then you move on.”

Conor Gallagher has recently said he loves playing for Pochettino: “I want to clarify this,” Pochettino replies, light-heartedly, “If not, some coaches become jealous. When he said “Poch”, he meant the whole coaching staff. He made a reference just to Poch because it’s easy … he meant many coaches, all the staff.”

How hard will Pochettino fight to keep Gallagher at the club? “But that is another thing. That needs to be agreed. I cannot be involved in this. It’s between the club and Conor. They can make the deal. I am the coach that needs to be in my place. What can I say? Nothing.

“I take the best decisions for the team, not for the club. If I believe Conor deserves to play, that’s my job. To pick the best 11 and strategy. To win games – that is my main job.”

Was losing last weekend’s final his hardest time at Chelsea thus far? “Maybe yes. We felt very disappointed. We were so close. After 90 mins I think we were the better side … we created big changes to win the game. Second-half, our energy dropped … we feel really disappointed …

“I repeat. Finals are not about deserve. It’s about to win.”


“It’s about us,” says Thomas Frank before Brentford’s meeting with Chelsea tomorrow. They are on very a poor run, having lost 10 out of their last 12.

“We need to perform … At West Ham, we hit a bad level, I know we will perform tomorrow. I respect Chelsea, they have some fantastic players, Cole Palmer is a key player for them …”

Has Frank spoken to Neal Maupay about his tendency to wind up the opposition? “It’s nice to speak about Neal. He’s done fantastically for us. Before he came here, he hadn’t scored a goal for ages … what the club has done for him, and what he’s done to be at this level in incredible. He deserves a lot of credit.

“What I believe is ever player different. They need to find their own way of what makes them tick. Then it’s my responsibility to guide them sometimes, and of course it’s pretty obvious I get a lot of questions about this. Of course I spoke with Neal about it. That of course I will keep to myself. He needs to do what he thinks is important.”


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Manchester City’s Grealish sidelined by groin injury

Jack Grealish is unlikely to be fit for England’s friendlies against Brazil and Belgium later this month, Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola has said. The City midfielder suffered a recurrence of a recent groin injury in the club’s FA Cup win at Luton on Tuesday.

Grealish was substituted after 38 minutes of the 6-2 victory at Kenilworth Road, cutting short his first appearance in four games. He has been ruled out of Sunday’s derby against Manchester United in the Premier League and Guardiola said at a press conference on Friday he was unlikely to play again before the next international break.

Guardiola said: “I don’t think so. I haven’t spoken with (England manager) Gareth (Southgate) but I don’t think he will be ready. When he will come back, I don’t know exactly. He will not be fit for this weekend. I think he has to recover well. He has had a setback and he has to recover well for us to use him as much as possible.”

Jack Grealish: Injured. Photograph: Charlotte Wilson/Offside/Getty Images

England host Brazil at Wembley on March 23 and Belgium three days later as part of their Euro 2024 preparations. Grealish has had a difficult season having struggled for form and fitness and seen teammates excel in his place.

The 28-year-old had been one of the most consistent performers during City’s 2022-23 treble-winning campaign. Guardiola is confident he will bounce back from this latest problem. The Spaniard said: “Yes, he doesn’t have an alternative. Setbacks in life are always there, it is how you overcome them.” (PA Media)


Thanks Barry. Hello everyone. Copious football manager-chat coming right up.

You can email me or send a message on X, if you so desire.


Handover: With plenty more hot managerial chat to come, Luke McLaughlin is here for the afternoon shift.


An email: “City had to play 5 games in 13 days before Christmas,” writes Michael Fryer. More from Liverpool supporter Malcolm as we get it.


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Brighton’s De Zerbi on Liverpool’s radar

Liverpool have identified Brighton’s Roberto De Zerbi as a potential replacement for Jürgen Klopp should they fail to appoint their top target, Xabi Alonso. Jacob Steinberg reports …


An email: Gav in Edinburgh has a response to Malcolm’s missive outlining the unfairness of Liverpool’s fixture schedule.

“Malcolm may want to look a few weeks ahead and see that City play Arsenal late on a Sunday and then Villa on the Tuesday, which seems a little close for comfort,” he writes. It’s almost like fixtures can often be spaced out to varying degrees depending on any number of factors.”


Manchester City: Pep has been chatting ahead of Sunday’s Manchester derby but refuses to be drawn on how he expects the opposition to play. It’s a wise move, considering his opposite number, Erik ten Hag, probably has no idea how Manchester United are going to play either. Does anyone?

“Always I expect the best from our opponents,” he says. “Always. I expect the best from Manchester United but I don’t talk about what they do. As opponents I respect too much and I don’t want any misunderstandings of my words. I have a lot of respect for them and a lot of respect for the institution – United, Erik and the players.”


Liverpool: “Nottingham is a great place to play but a difficult one,” says Jurgen Klopp ahead of his side’s trip to the City Ground. “The situation they are in is a similar one to us, they need to win games to reach their target as much as we can. They made a few changes for the last game, Callum Hudson-Odoi didn’t start, but we know roughly who to expect on the pitch. We have analysed them.

“It’s a real task for us to find out how we can line up with so many games to come. It’s always about us before games because we demand different things in each game. It will be a tough challenge, anyone can see that. Newcastle, Aston Villa and even Arsenal didn’t have it easy against them.

“They are a threat on the counter-attack, massively. Anthony Elanga, Morgan Gibbs-White or Divock [Origi] can cause problems. I’m looking forward to it. There’s always a great atmosphere there.”


An email: “How can it be possible let alone fair that as the title race reaches a critical stage with only one point separating them, Liverpool with their lengthening injuries, are asked to play just three days after a midweek FA Cup tie and an exhausting final last Sunday?” asks Malcolm. “City meanwhile get five days rest between their FA Cup fixture and the Sunday clash at Utd!”

“Surely the PL has some responsibility to ensure that its competition is run to ensure that no side enjoys an unfair advantage, or that teams are forced to play an unreasonable number of fixtures.

“City were allowed a considerable break to play the World Club Cup, but no such generosity seems to be on offer to Liverpool. If City overhaul Liverpool this weekend and win the title, the PL’s callous negligence and indifference may be considered to have played a decisive role in the race.

“This will only fuel suspicion that the PL and other agencies are doing everything to sabotage Liverpool’s title chances or at least doing nothing to ensure their competition is managed fairly and responsibly.”

Looking past the fact that only Tinfoil hat-wearing conspiracy theorists think the Premier League and other agencies are doing everything – or indeed anything – to sabotage Liverpool’s title chances, does Matthew have a point? Or is the answer just … money, as usual.

Liverpool’s injury list is not the Premier League’s problem, nor should it be. The fact that they had a tough game last Sunday is also completely irrelevant. However, they are being asked to play on Wednesday-Saturday, while Manchester City play on Tuesday-Sunday, getting an extra two days rest.

“I suspect you have a couple of TV companies to blame for that, Malcolm … but you probably knew that already. ITV and the BBC will have dictated which midweek FA Cup games were played on what night, while Sky Sports will have demanded that the Manchester derby be played on Sunday. It’s almost certainly that simple.


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Crystal Palace: A 45 per cent stakeholder in Crystal Palace, who has been the subject of some wordy, derogatory banners shown by fans at recent games, John Textor also has majority stakes in Lyon, Brazil’s Botafogo, Belgian top-flight outfit RWD Molenbeek and US academy side FC Florida.

The American businessman sat down for an interview with the BBC and is unlikely to have endeared himself to Palace ultras with his response to their protests about his involvement with their club. Protests which he dismissed as “nonsense”. Oof.

“I read these banners, which are nonsense,” he said. “I showed up a couple of years ago and I do nothing but support as one of four members of the board and then I see banners which say ‘Textor we don’t trust you’. I don’t care.

“They don’t need to trust me, I’m not running the club. People say they want fan ownership and transparency but there’s nothing more transparent than a US public company that reports material contracts within four days.

“I developed a belief that I work for the anonymous fan that I don’t know, and he or she is 10 years old and they love the club because their father loves the club. I don’t work for the ultras.”

While Textor may leave the running of the club to Steve Parish, he did, later in the same interview, concede that the pair do not always see eye to eye and that there is plenty of friction during their weekly boardroom meetings.

Crystal Palace majority stakeholder John Textor says that Crystal Palace fans don’t need to trust him because he does not run the club. Photograph: Adrian Dennis/AFP/Getty Images

Republic of Ireland: John O’Shea was supposed to be unveiled as the Republic of Ireland’s interim manager today but his press conference has been postponed until Monday because of heavy snowfall in Dublin.

It is now 100 days since Stephen Kenny left his post but the cash-strapped Football Association of Ireland have yet to appoint a permanent successor. O’Shea will take charge of Ireland’s upcoming friendlies against Belgium and Switzerland at the end of this month.

The FAI are believed to have been after England U-21 manager Lee Carsley, but the former Republic of Ireland international was not interested in taking the job. Chris Coleman and Neil Lennon had also been linked with the vacant position but it has since been made clear that neither will be considered. Neil Clement is the latest candidate to be linked with the role vacated by Kenny.

John O’Shea, pictured here working as an assistant coach during Wayne Rooney’s ill-fated managerial reign at Birmingham City, will take charge of the Republic of Ireland’s next two friendlies. Photograph: Gareth Copley/Getty Images

Nottingham Forest: Nottingham Forest boss Nuno Espirito Santo believes Liverpool old boy Divock Origi can help Forest beat his former club this weekend.

The Belgian’s season-long loan spell at the City Ground from Milan has been punctuated by a string of injuries which have prevented him from showing his best but he has looked a threat in his last two appearances – in defeats by Aston Villa and Manchester United – and could start against Liverpool.

“I still haven’t decided who is going to play but I can tell you Divock is improving,” Nuno said. “He has been in and out, some small issues which has been delaying his progress. But in the first half [against Manchester United] he was amazing and for us, he is a solution because he can play right, left side and in the centre. So we need the best version of Divock.”

Nuno also said he does not want his side to compromise their attacking instincts against Liverpool. “We need to be clinical with the chances we have and control their game, especially the offensive movements they have. They are really dangerous, they have quality so it will require a lot of effort from us. But we have to keep this idea of playing and going forward no matter which opponent we have because this is what our team needs.”

As far as injuries are concerned, Ibrahim Sangare, Chris Wood and Willy Boly are all nearing returns for Forest but Nuno Tavares and Ola Aina remain out the foreseeable future.

Divock Origi made 150 appearances for Liverpool and could start against his former club tomorrow. Photograph: Joe Giddens/PA

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WSL: Marc Skinner has said he hopes Sir Jim Ratcliffe’s investment in Manchester United provides a “springboard” for success for the women’s team.

United’s women’s side, relaunched in 2018 and managed by Skinner since 2021, achieved best finishes of runners-up in the Women’s Super League and FA Cup last term. They currently sit fourth in the WSL, 10 points adrift of leaders Chelsea and travel to West Ham on Sunday.

“We have not managed to meet yet, I know it’s on the horizon very soon,” said Skinner in today’s press conference. “But we have our constant kind of feed through our bosses anyway in terms of kind of how we want to go forwards, what’s going to work and there’s a lot to do.

“I see it as a real positive move. I think if you know me as a character, my energy is full on. I’m all in so with my energy, coupled with the fantastic movement of the Ineos investment, I think it’s a real positive moment.

“We have to capitalise on that, we’re going to try to do that, we’re going to put all our behaviours in place for that. It’s hopefully a springboard for everybody to find the success that everybody wants for Man United.”


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Sports Quiz of the Week: How much attention have you been paying to the goings-on in the world of sport this week? Paul Campbell is your quizmaster and I just got 13 out of 17 answers correct.


Everton: Having had their points deduction for a breach of profit and sustainibility rules reduced from 10 to six points this week, Everton are now five points clear of the relegation zone ahead of their home match against West Ham tomorrow. While the respite is welcome, Everton are without a win in nine Premier League games and have taken just five points from the past 27 available to them.

“We have to get it right, especially against teams like West Ham coming up here,” said Sean Dyche ahead of the game. I think we have to go into the game in the right state of mind and I think we are in the right place as a team. We need to find those defining moments and they become ever-important when you haven’t been winning.”

Everton have been struggling to score. Dominic Calvert-Lewin has gone 20 games without a goal, while back-up striker Beto has bagged just one in 21 league appearances, most as a substitute.

“It is about finding different ways of creating chances but I think we have done that considerably well over the season,” said Dyche. “The moment of truth is someone putting it in the net. The players know that and they don’t need reminding about it from me every day. And you can still score from set-pieces and we have been strong at that. They know where it’s at but it is our responsibility to keep getting the team to forge the chances and the higher quality chances give you an easier opportunity to score.”

Dominic Calvert-Lewin’s most recent goal for Everton came against tomorrow’s opponents West Ham four months ago. Photograph: Tony McArdle/Everton FC/Getty Images

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Arsenal: Offering injury updates on various members of his squad, Arteta said Thomas Partey will probably be part of the squad for Monday night’s game, while it’s “possible” Oleksandr Zinchenko and Takahiro Tomiyasu could make it, depending on how they train over the next couple of days.

He said that Gabriel Jesus is fit enough to start or play some part in the game after but needs to be managed carefully after a month on the sidelines. “Obviously we need him fit,” said Arteta. “He’s a massive player for us and we want to make sure that now we load the players in the right way.”

He added that Jurrien Timber, who has been out with a knee injury since the opening day of the season in mid-August, is being reintegrated to the first team squad and could make his third appearance for Arsenal before the end of the season.

“It’s been a joy and all the physios and the medical staff are really happy with his attitude and his commitment, especially with the way things have gone,” he said of the Dutch centre-back.

“It’s not a coincidence the way he applies [himself], how determined he is, his willingness to put every effort in everything that he’s demanded to do and he’s in a really good place. Now we have to manage [him] because it’s the last stage of that difficult injury that is complicated, but I think he’s on the right way.”

Jurrien Timber is working his way back to full fitness after suffering an ACL injury on only his second appearance for Arsenal. Photograph: Stuart MacFarlane/Arsenal FC/Getty Images

Arsenal: Usually a Friday morning merchant, Mikel Arteta conducted his press conference ahead of Arsenal’s trip to Sheffield United yesterday. While others might expect Arsenal to win at their leisure, the Spaniard insisted it is not a game he or any of his players will be taking lightly.

“First of all, you have to earn the right to win the games,” he said. “We want to be ruthless and efficient in front of goal and I think lately we’ve been really good. With every team we look at the weaknesses and the strengths and try to take the game to the opponent, but I’m saying this because I know [Sheffield United] really well. I analysed them many years ago and the things that Chris did and I learned from his teams. I’m telling you, it’s going to be a really tough match.”


Newcastle: Eddie Howe raised a few eyebrows by introducing a half-fit Elliott Anderson in place of Lewis Miley, also a substitute, towards the end of extra time during Newcastle’s win over Blackburn on Tuesday.

The 21-year-old midfielder had been sidelined since October with a back injury but is something of a penalty specialist and was brought on with the shootout in mind. He duly scored his team’s penultimate penalty as they went on to win the tie.

“It wasn’t quick from our side or from Elliot’s,” he says of the youngster’s time oout. “It’s been hugely frustrating for him that he hasn’t been able to kick on sooner and return to training sooner. It’s hugely frustrating when you can’t run. He had to be very careful and we had to be careful with him.

“The last stage of his injury has been quick and we were very keen to get him on with penalties in mind. We see him every day practising penalties and he executes them very well. Still, he had to come in cold and have the composure to execute and he did.”

Howe goes on to say that while Anderson is “technically fit”, he is nowhere near match fit and will have to be nursed back to action. “He’s been a huge miss for us because of his versatility,” he says. “When you miss him and Joelinton at the same time, a lot of the versatility in the squad goes.”

Elliot Anderson scores his penalty in the midweek shootout against Blackburn Rovers. Photograph: Serena Taylor/Newcastle United/Getty Images

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Newcastle: Turning his attention to Saturday’s game, Howe says his team need to be wary of Wolves, particularly on the break. “They will bring a counter attacking threat,” he says. “They have some good athletes in the team and play with a fluid style. I think Gary O’Neil has done a brilliant job, as he did last season [with Bournemouth].

“Wolves are very good away from home – they have just beaten Chelsea and Tottenham – so they are a dangerous opponent for us. We had a tight game [against them] away, but it was a game we could have won and we are confident going into the game on Saturday.”


Football Weekly: In the latest edition of the podcast we discuss the midweek FA Cup ties and also debate Liverpool fan reaction to our reaction to last Sunday’s Carabao Cup final. You can lend us your ears here and if you’re not already a subscriber, feel free to sign up wherever you get your podcasts.


Newcastle United: As is customary, Eddie Howe is first off the rank when it comes to Friday pressers. His Newcastle side are shipping goals at an alarming rate and not playing particularly well at the moment. They host Wolves tomorrow in a top flight match that’s genuinely difficult to call.

First, the FA Cup. Having scraped past a Blackburn side that, with a little more compusure in front of goal, should have won this week, Newcastle got the worst conceivable quarter-final draw – away to Man City.

“I was driving at the time and almost swerved off the road,” says Howe. “It wasn’t the draw we wanted, that’s for sure. I’m not sure any team wants to play Manchester City four times in a season but we’re looking forward to the game. I believe we can beat anyone when at our best and we’ve had three really close games with them this season.

“When you analyse things and go through them mentally, you realise that if you want to win the FA Cup you probably need to beat Manchester City at some stage of the competition. That has been moved forward from our view and we just have to give everything to try and win.”


Rafael Benitez interview: Rob Draper travelled to the Galician coast to meet the itinerant Spanish manager, who seemed in remarkably chipper form for a man who many expect to lose his job as Celta Vigo boss if he fails to mastermind victory over bottom-of-the-table Almeria tonight. It’s a fascinating read that take in his passion for coaching, the clamour for Xabi Alonso and his love for Jamie Carragher.


Premier League fixtures

  • Newcastle v Wolves (3pm GMT)

  • Tottenham Hotspur v Crystal Palace

  • Nottingham Forest v Liverpool

  • Brentford v Chelsea

  • Everton v West Ham

  • Fulham v Brighton

  • Luton Town v Aston Villa (5.30pm)

  • Burnley v Bournemouth (Sunday, 1pm)

  • Manchester City v Manchester United (3.30pm)

  • Sheffield United v Arsenal (Monday, 8pm)

  • View the Premier League table


The weekend starts here …

After a week of FA Cup action, we clamber back aboard the Premier League treadmill, with some fascinating games ahead at both ends of the table. With a one-point lead to protect at the top of the table, Liverpool travel to Nottingham Forest, where they lost last season, despite their hosts being bottom of the table at kick-off. This season, the team from the City Ground are just four places higher and looking over their shoulders.

Second-placed Manchester City host Manchester United in a derby the bookies expect the reigning champions too win with a minimum of fuss, with few giving Erik ten Hag’s side a snowball’s chance in hell of beating their noisy neighbours. In third place, Arsenal don’t play until Monday, when they will be expected to swat aside a Sheffield United side who are bottom of the table, 11 points from safety.

Elsewhere at the bottom, Burnley host a Bournemouth side who are without a win in seven games, while Luton will hope to bounce back from their 6-2 midweek FA Cup shellacking at the hands of City by taking something from their game against Aston Villa at Kenilworth Road. Brentford, who are far from safe, host their out-of-sorts west London rivals Chelsea.

With several other eyecatching fixtures looming, we’ll bring you the latest from all the managerial press conferences, while keeping you up to date with anything else of note to report from the EFL, Women’s Super League and beyond.


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