Solskjær will not ‘fall like a house of cards’ – weekend football countdown – live! | Football

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Solskjær will not ‘fall like a house of cards’ – weekend football countdown – live! | Football

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Jordan Pickford will be back between the sticks for Everton against Manchester United: “I have no message. I talked to him every day this week, we laughed, we are together. He knows what to do tomorrow. He starts,” confirmed Carlo Ancelotti. Maybe Pickford has been weaned off caffeine in the past week and will have a new zen-like aura about him.

Updated at 9.26am EST

I wish more Premier League managers would use Radiohead song titles in their pre-match quotes so I could link to them. I can’t help but think of Solskjær strumming along and singing this sorrowfully when he got home on Thursday morning:

♬ ♬ ♬ Forget about your house of cards ♪ ♪ ♪ And I’ll do mine ♩♩♩

Agüero ‘not ready’ for Liverpool yet

Pep Guardiola has confirmed that the challenge of facing Liverpool is a step too far for Sergio Agüero, as the striker continues his recovery from a knee injury that required surgery. “No [Agüero] is not ready, not yet,” he confirmed, before saying that even if Liverpool win and go eight points clear of City, he is not overly concerned.

It is an important game but, like the presidential elections in the USA, all the votes must be counted – there are a lot of points to play for. It’s always nice to play against the strongest teams and last year they were stronger. They are an exceptional team, they have had the same manager for a long time and it is nice to face him all the time to improve our level. When you play against teams like Liverpool you always have moments where you have to suffer. We know it, we have to do it and try to use our strength as much a possible. We know each other quite well, we play many many times and I don’t expect a game like 90 minutes we will be there or they will be there. There will be ups and downs, we have to be stable and take our good chances and be clinical.

Are Liverpool the team to beat this season?

They are the biggest favourite [for the Premier League] but with the pandemic the situation it is a bit different. I see other teams strong, Leicester maintained the level from most of last season, Arsenal made a big step forward to be contenders and at Tottenham Mourinho has the team that he wants. Chelsea in the beginning is so stable now and has a huge squad for rotating top players. I think this season [there] will be a lot of teams being there [and] the last five or 10 games will be important to arrive being there to fight for the title. Hopefully we can be there and arrive at the end with a chance to fight for the title.

Carlo Ancelotti has received an injury boost after he confirmed that James Rodriguez will be back in his squad for the lunchtime kick-off against Manchester United but Richarlison is not fit enough to return just yet. “[James] said that he’s 100%. I have some doubt that he’s 100% but it doesn’t matter for me. We have practically all the squad apart from Richardson and [Fabian] Delph who have little problems. All the others are available. It is important to have not only James Rodriguez back but Seamus Coleman and Lucas Digne too. Richarlison is really important but we have to break this statistic [that Everton don’t win when he doesn’t play] tomorrow.”

Updated at 9.21am EST

Solskjær won’t ‘fall like a house of cards’ after defeats

Ole Gunnar Solskjær has arrived for his press conference and he says the sun is shining in Manchester and he’s not feeling any added pressure after the sorry loss at Basaksehir followed the limp defeat at home to Arsenal:

Why shouldn’t I be [successful at Manchester United]? If I don’t trust my beliefs and values and my staff’s quality and the players’ quality, who else should? I don’t look at one or two results and fall like a house of cards. I think there has been too much made of us not scoring against Arsenal and Chelsea. Not long ago we were the best thing since sliced bread when we beat Leipzig and PSG. The club have shown strong leadership and I have had good dialogue with them. There is always a pressure and expectation on us. I became a man at Manchester United and I have learned how to deal with good and bad times. You’re a top coach when you win and you’re bad when you lose. Every game of football becomes history quickly.

On the reaction of his players?

We had avery long and late flight home and were here early Thursday morning. Thursday was a day of tired minds and tired legs and we couldn’t do a lot. Today has been a sunny day and the boys are ready for a reaction. It’s never easy or enjoyable when you lose two on the bounce but that’s football. Champions League games are difficult but the manner of the goals … we gifted them those goals. You have to be mentally strong. There are demands on a Manchester United player, coach and manager. We’re at the biggest and best club in the world. It’s about how you deal with a setback and the boys are ready to give a response. I’m good. You don’t have to be happy to still stay positive. you know that on difficult days on hard days, in life, there will be better days.

On the challenge of facing Everton:

Every time you play for United passion and fight are things you expect to see, to earn the right to win a game of football you need that and definitely against Everton, with or without fans at Goodison Park you still have to have that fight and passion in you, that’s a given. Times are different, times are strange, a strain on the players, football is not the same without fans and passion. I don’t think anyone’s been in the situation the players are now, had months and months of playing with uncertainty and unknown with the virus and pandemic. Sometimes it’s easy to sit at home and we have to look after them, physically and mentally and think how my players cope with the whole situation. I’m a definite believer in these boys and will come and show how much they care.

Updated at 8.46am EST

We will hear off Ole Gunnar Solskjær and Pep Guardiola soon. With an international break following this weekend’s matches and Mauricio Pochettino sniffing around, if Everton beat United comfortably could we have a new Manchester United manager before we know who the next US president will be?

Nigel Clough is back in management. The 54-year-old (yes, 54!) has been appointed by League Two strugglers Mansfield, who sacked Graham Coughlan last month and remain without a win so far this season. “Nigel has an outstanding pedigree in football and a proven track record of significantly improving the teams he has managed. He brings 20 years’ managerial experience to the club and can provide the stability and leadership which we require.”

Some classic José Mourinho fun and games here. The Tottenham manager is uneasy with Gareth Bale working with an Arsenal coach while on international duty.

It doesn’t make me very comfortable. National team matches should have coaches that work exclusively for them, not coaches who work for other clubs.

Oh José! People have bills to pay you know.

Another intriguing game on Sunday is the one between Aston Villa and Arsenal at the Emirates. Villa have suffered back-to-back defeats but are still level on 12 points with the Gunners and have a game in hand. Dean Smith is not concerned after losing 4-3 to Southampton and 3-0 to Leeds: “We still feel that we’ve had a good start [even if] the last two results have been disappointing,” he said. “The players are still confident, that’s for sure, they want to put it right. We believe we have a really good squad and players that can play the way we want to play.

“There was a good reaction in the Southampton game, they showed an awful lot of character and played some really good football in the second half, but we can’t give teams four-goal leads. They have started with good performances, so Mikel [Arteta] has done a fantastic job. It was a big win for us [against Arsenal last season] that helped us to retain our Premier League status, and we played them in pre-season, so we know a lot about them.”

Goalkeeper Tom Heaton has returned to full training after being out since January with a serious knee injury, although striker Wesley remains out with his own long-term knee issue.

Klopp: playing City ‘the most difficult game in the world’

Jürgen Klopp is speaking at Melwood [for the last time before they move to the new Kirkby training ground] before Liverpool travel to Manchester City on Sunday. Here’s what he’s had to say about the game. Is it a title-decider?

It looks like even you [the media] think it’s not a decider. It’s a very difficult game for both teams and both will perform in a high level. So much is different this year. Everything is different. We just have to make sure we get through a very intense period and keep the players fit and play the best football we can against Manchester City – one of the best teams in the world.

On Jota and Firmino:

Pretty much all of [our attackers] delivered for us in the important moments. It’s very good for us that Diogo has settled that quick and has gained confidence so early. It makes everything easier. Not scoring all the goals he has would not make him a worse player. I love it the way he did it so that’s all very positive but we have more than three offensive players and they are all good. I don’t have to say one word about Bobby Firmino and how important he is to us! I would feel really embarrassed now if I have to mention the quality of Bobby Firmino. I am not surprised [by Jota’s performances]. He is the player we thought he would be but we can help him to reach the next level and he can help us reach the next level. He played in one of the hardest working teams you can face [at Wolves].

Klopp confirmed that Thiago was still not fit enough to train and Fabinho and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain are still not in contention. He then praised the young defenders Rhys Williams and Nat Phillips for stepping up in recent weeks as well as Joe Gomez’s growing maturity.

The boys have enjoyed the challenge and we have seen that [Nat Phillips and Rhys Williams] are able to do some special stuff. Also Joel [Matip] is back seven, eight, nine days in training. We will see what we do for Sunday. [Joe Gomez] has played very good [in recent games]. He has has so many different partners and was always the kid in the backline and was thrown into cold water but he has had to grow in recent games and I am very happy with the performances he has had.

On the challenge of playing City:

I don’t think we make a big difference in our approach to home and away games … but saying that against Manchester City, the quality they have, there is a danger on the counter-attack. We lost heavily there last season but it is not a game that I like to consider as three days before we were champions. It’s really important we compete that we have our game plan, that we are brave that we play football and defend well … but this is the most difficult game in the world of football. We have to prepare well.

Updated at 7.58am EST

Of course, there is no reason why Firmino and Jota can’t play together regularly for Liverpool at some point this season but if that were to happen from the start this weekend it would probably be with Jota playing in midfield.

Updated at 7.31am EST

Southampton can go top of the Premier League for the first time in the history of the club (yes, I know football began before 1992) if they beat Newcastle this evening. And the fine work that Ralph Hasenhüttl is doing at Southampton has been recognised by the Premier League. The Austrian has been nominated for the manager of the month award for October alongside Nuno Espírito Santo, José Mourinho, David Moyes and Dean Smith. This time a year ago, he was fielding difficult questions after that 9-0 home drubbing by Leicester. He seems a very likeable manager and I’m delighted he is doing so well. Newcastle manager Steve Bruce has been effusive in his praise for the job Hasenhüttl has done in the past year:

Since the turn of the year, they’ve been in and around it. They’ve had a remarkable 12 months – I think it was only 12 months ago since they lost heavily to Leicester. The way they’ve all performed since then and turned it around, fair play to them. They’ve got a very, very good side, so it’s going to be a tough place to go, that’s for sure. One of the main reasons they’ve had the 12 months they’ve had is the performance of Danny [Ings], and I think I speak on behalf of all football fans when I say I’m so pleased it’s not one of those [injuries] that will keep him out for another 12 months.

Ben Fisher has been speaking to former Watford manager Nigel Pearson about being halted by Hornets security guards, riding horses and how it doesn’t sit right with him that smaller Football League clubs have gone bust while the Premier League spent £1bn in the transfer window.

A little bit of FA Cup first-round news: AFC Wimbledon v Barrow has been postponed after a number of Dons players tested positive for coronavirus after their 2-2 draw with Doncaster in League One. Darren Moore, Doncaster’s manager, and his coaching staff will self-isolate after coming into contact with someone who tested positive so Andy Butler will take charge for Saturday’s FA Cup tie against FC United of Manchester.

Updated at 7.14am EST

Should Roberto Firmino or Diogo Jota start in attack for Liverpool against Manchester City on Sunday? Jota is in fine form, and he gave Liverpool’s forward line added dynamism in a central position against Atalanta, but I suspect Jürgen Klopp will revert to his tried and trusted forward trident on Sunday afternoon. Firmino’s defensive ability will be extra important at the Etihad and the Brazilian enjoys facing City – he’s scored five goals against them and weighed in with six assists to boot. Mind you, Jota has seven in 10 for Liverpool compared with Firmino’s seven in 36. It’s a tough choice for Klopp, but a nice problem to have.

Roberto Firmino trains with Liverpool on Thursday evening. Roberto Firmino trains with Liverpool on Thursday evening. Photograph: Andrew Powell/Liverpool FC/Getty Images

Updated at 6.55am EST

West Ham have had an impressive start to the season considering they have faced some of the bigger sides in the Premier League. David Moyes is hoping that the Hammers can continue to play with the consistency that has led to some good results – and performances – against the top sides when they face 17th-placed Fulham. “If you’ve been to Arsenal, Tottenham, Liverpool and Leicester away from home in the first seven you’d say that’s tough for any club,” Moyes said. “So I”m pleased with the way we’ve started. I still wanted more points, but the level of performance has been good. We try to be the same all the time. We’re trying to get consistency, whether that’s against teams at the top or those who you’d consider to be nearer the bottom.”The motivation is the same every week.”

With Michail Antonio still missing for this one, Sébastien Haller will likely get another start and Said Benrahma willprobably be on the bench. “[Haller] can make an impact in the Premier League. I think it takes time to settle in the Premier League and people expect a lot from the start,” Moyes said. “Sometime it takes time. It’s a big chance for him to show what he can do. He has a great reputation throughout Europe, so let’s hope he can bring that to West Ham.”

Updated at 6.46am EST

Morning all! How are we then? Great. As Tom mentioned earlier, it’s Der Klassiker this weekend and with both sides on 15 points at the top of the Bundesliga what a match it could turn out to be. Bayern’s treble-winning manager, Hansi Flick, has been speaking in his pre-match press conference and had this to say:

It’s Der Klassiker, so everybody will be motivated. We know the whole world will be watching, which will spur us on even more. We are confident and will do everything we can to win the game. Dortmund have an outstanding team. They have one of the best defences in the Bundesliga, a lot of quality up front and they are dangerous once they win possession. It’s important that we play as a team. Winning is always what matters. It was important that we got the three points in Salzburg. It was a great game for the neutrals. Our mentality and desire to win are great. I have to give the team a lot of credit for this. Leon Goretzka trained yesterday. We expect him to be available. Niklas Süle and Joshua Zirkzee won’t be in the squad.”

Updated at 6.30am EST

Right, I’m jumping out of the hot seat now and ushering Gregg Bakowski into it. Bye for now.

Marcelo Bielsa’s been chatting about turning around Leeds’ mini-blip when they face Palace tomorrow. “We want a response, but the response will be evaluated in the performance in the next game,” said the manager.

“The response is always subject to the result in the next game. What happens during the week, we don’t give too much importance to it. There are things to improve and work on – the coach too. I didn’t distribute the players properly on the pitch against Leicester, the help I gave the players on how to defend and attack better, I didn’t give it.”

Bielsa also spoke of his respect for the Palace manager, Roy Hodgson. “I sincerely respect him a lot. I’m not the best person to have an opinion as I have only been here for two years but I have the opinion that he’s a very valued member in the English community, given the trajectory of his career and his behaviour.

“They are a team who has very important players in attack and a team who has a stable base. They have a distinct style of play that they don’t change, but they do improve.”

Leeds will check on the fitness of Raphinha before travelling. Diego Llorente (groin) and Kalvin Phillips (shoulder) remain out injured, while Rodrigo will miss a second match as he continues to self-isolate following a positive Covid-19 test.

Updated at 6.14am EST

David Moyes is a good thing: so says Jacob Steinberg here, arguing that Moyes has bought well and brought focus at West Ham after the directionless extravagance of recent years:

Bayern Munich’s Jamal Musiala has been given his first England Under-21s call-up. The forward has been included for this month’s Euro 2021 qualifiers against Andorra and Albania. The Derby defender Lee Buchanan is also in the squad for the first time but there’s no place for Mason Greenwood.

Musiala, 17, came through Chelsea’s academy before moving to Germany in 2019.

England host Andorra on 13 November 13 and Albania on 17 November, both at Molineux, having already qualified for next month’s tournament in Hungary and Slovenia.

England: Austin (Tottenham), Bursik (Stoke, on loan at Doncaster), Ramsdale (Sheffield United), Aarons (Norwich), Buchanan (Derby), Guehi (Chelsea, on loan at Swansea), Justin (Leicester), Kelly (Bournemouth), Lamptey (Brighton), Panzo (Dijon), Williams (Liverpool), Wilmot (Watford), Bellingham (Borussia Dortmund), Dasilva (Brentford), Eze (Crystal Palace), Gallagher (Chelsea on loan at West From), Jones (Liverpool), Skipp (Tottenham, on loan at Norwich), Brewster (Sheffield United), Hudson-Odoi (Chelsea), McNeil (Burnley), Musiala (Bayern Munich), Nketiah (Arsenal), Sessegnon (Tottenham on loan at Hoffenheim)

Takeover news: it looks like English football is about to have more Abu Dhabi club owners, at Championship strugglers Derby. A statement from the club this morning announced that the Derby owner, Mel Morris, has been in talks with Derventio Holdings (UK) Limited since May and a takeover has now been agreed. The deal with Derventio – whose ultimate controller is Bin Zayed International LLC, owned by Sheikh Khaled Zayed Bin Saquer Zayed Al Nayhan – passed the EFL’s owners and directors test yesterday.

Updated at 5.55am EST

West Ham v Fulham news: David Moyes will be without Michail Antonio and Mark Noble for the visit of Fulham. Antonio is recovering well from a hamstring problem but will not be fit in time, while Noble suffered a rib injury in training. The on-loan striker Saïd Benrahma could make his full debut. Fulham could be without their new signing Mario Lemina.

Anyone thinking far enough ahead to be planning Christmas? Some essential information if so – the Carabao Cup quarter-final dates and times have been released. Starting on Tuesday 22 December at 5.30pm, Brentford host Newcastle, followed by Arsenal v Manchester City at 8pm. The following night Stoke face Tottenham at 5.30pm, followed by Everton v Man Utd at 8pm. You’d wonder what sort of crowds those ties might have pulled if fans had been let in.

Staying in Scotland, Steven Gerrard says Alfredo Morelos is targeting the Champions League after he become the club’s all-time top scorer in continental competition with 22 goals in the 3-3 draw at Benfica.

All those goals have come in the Europa League but Gerrard knows the 24-year-old has ambitions to go even higher (though he didn’t say whether that would be at Rangers). He said: “Yes, he was very happy after the game about his record-breaking (achievement). I think he’s got his hunger back and you can see it in his eyes, he wants to go and score more goals in the competition.
I know he’s got dreams and aspirations of playing in the Champions League one day, which is good for him.”

While much of football pulls down the shutters, Ross County are letting fans in this evening, a socially distanced crowd of 300 being allowed in for their Scottish Premiership match against Livingston. The Highlands have been placed in tier one under the Scottish government’s new Covid restrictions, which allows limited crowds in stadiums.

Anyone off to that one? How are you feeling about it?

Ole Gunnar Solskjær can expect some serious scrutiny of Wednesday’s capitulation of Manchester United at Istanbul Basaksehir during his early afternoon by-zoom media conference. He really has to guide United to a win at Everton though do not think it is a fait accompli he will definitely be sacked if they lose in Saturday’s early kick-off. Unless it is a particularly torrid mode of defeat he may well continue. But who knows: this is football, after all…

Preamble

Morning everyone, and welcome to the last weekend of a full programme of domestic action before the next international break. It feels as if everyone’s played about 20 games since the last once, with fortunes hiding and rising on an almost-daily basis. As is the form these days, it all kicks off on Friday evening as Brighton face Burnley in what was once the rush hour in a clash between two sides who haven’t really got going this season. Further along the south coast, one side who have – Southampton – can actually go top if they beat Newcastle in tonight’s later kick-off. They’ve been fun to watch this term, not least because of James Ward-Prowse’s set pieces. He talks about them here to David Hytner.

And then … we’re going to have to talk about Manchester United again aren’t we? They’re first up on Saturday against Everton at Goodison, and with speculation again swirling around Ole Gunnar Solskjær’s managerial future after they let in the kind of goals against Istanbul Basaksehir on Wednesday that many of us can last remember conceding in cub football on Wanstead flats. They’re perhaps lucky to be catching Everton on a bit of a dip after their sparkling start but it’ll be an intriguing one. Jonathan Liew says United are at risk of drifting while Ole’s at the wheel.

Elsewhere on Saturday, we’ve got an impossible to call Crystal Palace v Leeds set-to – Marcelo Bielsa’s side having suffered a chastening walloping by Leicester last time out – and what look like home bankers for Chelsea and West Ham against Sheffield United and Fulham respectively, but you never know at the moment. Then the spotlight turns to Sunday’s big match between, in theory, the two best teams in the country when Manchester City face Liverpool at the Etihad. Both have been brilliant and occasionally baffling this season, without looking like the trophy-hogging machines of recent years.

Also, it’s the Klassiker in Germany with Dortmund hosting Bayern Munich at the Westfalenstadion. Bayern have been mercilessly, thrillingly relentless for almost a year now but Dortmund’s form has picked up, at home and in the Champions League, in recent weeks.

And let’s not forget it’s FA Cup first round weekend too, with many teams whose leagues have been halted under the new lockdown restrictions granted a tilt at glory against Football League opposition. If groundhopping were allowed this week, I’d be all over ties such as Tonbridge v Bradford, FC United of Manchester v Doncaster and Eastbourne v Blackpool.

In the meantime, here are some things to look forward to in the top flight:

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