Arsenal: As his side prepare to face Liverpool tomorrow, Unai Emery has told reporters Arsenal must improve their record against the Premier League’s best sides if they are to force their way back into the top four. Arsenal failed to beat any of their top six rivals away from home last season.
“We need to [improve] because, when we are playing against them, it’s three points that you can take and they cannot take,” he said. “But after that you need also to achieve the three points in other matches against other teams. “In 38 matches you are going to play at home and away 19 matches – against the top four and every team.”
Mesut Ozil could make his first appearance of the campaign for Arsenal tomorrow evening, while Granit Xhaka is also in contention after missing the win over Burnley with back bruising. Emery has told defender Shkodran Mustafi and midfielder Mohamed Elneny they should find new clubs before the European transfer window closes.
Tottenham Hotspur: In what will come as good news for Newcastle, Tottenham have revealed that they will be without their record signing Tanguy Ndombele for the meeting of the two sides at White HArt Lane on Saturday. The French midfielder has a “minor injury” and has been ruled out for Sunday’s clash, but Dele Alli is back training following a hamstring problem. Son Heung-min is back after suspension, but Ryan Sessegnon and Juan Foyth are both injury victims.
Meanwhile at Headingley: Things could scarcely be more grim for England, who are 45-6 in the first innings of the third Ashes Test against Australia. Jonny Bairstow has just gone for four runs and Geoff Lemon has the latest from the ground …
Leicester City: Brendan Rodgers has been shooting the breeze ahead of Leicester’s match against Sheffield United this weekend and has said he is unconcerned that Jamie Vardy, who scored 18 Premier League goals last season, has yet to get off the mark in this campaign.
“I’m sure he would love to go back to Sheffield and open his account, I hope so.,” he said of Vardy, who is a Sheffield Wednesday fan. “He’s gone close on a few occasions. It’s only a matter of time and he’s a top class operator at this level. You can sense the fear when he’s in front of goal and running towards goal and if he just keeps getting into those areas then the goals will come for him. I see that in training and in matches.”
Manchester United: Speaking on the future of Alexis Sanchez, Ole Gunnar Solskjær said that the Chilean playmaker could go out on loan before the European transfer window closes, but added that he had played in a behind-closed-doors practice match against Sheffield United at United’s training ground on Tuesday.
“There are still talks with some clubs,” Solskjaer said, ahead of United’s Premier League meeting against Crystal Palace. “But he played in that game and he played well. As I have said he is working well. Let’s see in September what is going to happen.”
In recent days, Sanchez has been strongly linked with a loan move to Serie A side Inter.
Meanwhile at Headingley: England are wobbling after a bad start to their first innings against Australia in the third Ashes Test. They’re 20-3 with two batsmen on zero at the crease. Follow the action with Geoff Lemon …
Bury FC: While Steve Dale was making his quite extraordinary request on Talksport, Phil Neville, whose mother, Jill, and late father, Neville, had long associations with the club has been speaking to BBC 5 Live about the situation at the stricken club. The England women’s manager confirmed that his mum has resigned her position as club secretary after 30 years.
“My mum has worked there for 30 years, my dad’s got a stand named after him and to consider that today they might not have a football club is so upsetting,” he said. “My mum’s devastated. She resigned on Friday because she couldn’t work with the current ownership. Today common sense has to prevail. One man cannot stop one football club that has hundreds of years of history going out of existence. I pray that common sense today prevails and that somebody is allowed to buy that club and the town has something to be proud of again.”
On social media, Bury’s fans have reacted with fury to their owner’s request for pledges from both them and local businesses and urged anyone thinking of offering Dale money not to give him a penny.
Bury FC: Speaking to Talksport presenter Jim White, Bury owner Steve Dale has pleaded with supporters and local businesses to club together and pledge £2.7m to help save the club, despite claiming he doesn’t actually need the money and is not looking for charity.
“Fans, anyone out there who will pledge money to come to us … if they come to us and say we’ll put £100 in, £1000 in, if the big players put in £100,000, £500,000 .., whatever it is, we want it pledged to the company,” he said. “We need a pledge of £2.7m plus to save Bury. If the company, Bury Football Club, needs the money and needs to use it, they’ll put up shares and pay 2.5% interest on that money. We don’t need it, let me say that, unless the EFL pull another stroke.
“So what we’re looking to do now is go out there and say to local businesses – we’ve got massive firms in our areas, we’ve got the Boohoo boys, Together Finance, the old card guy Ron Wood, we’re got loads of people within Bury who will maybe look at it and think: ‘well it’s short change out of my pocket, I’ll pledge some money’.
“If we take any money off someone we’ll pay interest on it and we will secure it on shares in the club. Let me make this clear, we’re not looking for charity here, because we don’t need it. But the EFL want it. The EFL have made this ridiculous claim that we need this money, but we’re saying we don’t!”
Sunderland: US billionaire Michael Dell, the world’s 25th richest man, is part of a group of investors closing in on a £40m deal to take a controlling share at the League One club, according to the Sunderland Echo.
“Stewart Donald revealed last weekend that he was ‘confident’ a deal could be reached that would help the club realise the current hierarchy’s long-term vision for the club,” the Echo reports. “American businessmen John Phelan, Glenn Fuhrman, Robert Platek and Michael Dell are understood to be the four prospective investors. Multi-billionaire Dell, ranked as one of the richest men in the world by Forbes, is the tech magnate behind Dell Technologies.”
It’s good news for Sunderland, who not so long ago looked like they might be going the way of Bury and Bolton.
Bury FC: Former Port Vale owner Norman Smurthwaite believes it is too late to save Bury because the crisis-hit club’s owner Steve Dale wants at least 1million to walk away, according to PA Sport. Smurthwaite has made the only credible offer to save the club so far but it was rejected by Dale on Tuesday because it offered him nothing.
“If Steve Dale accepted that neither he nor any of his associates get anything from [July’s Company Voluntary Arrangement], or any other payment, then I am willing to step in,” said Smurthwaite. “They are the two conditions of my offer. But I fear it is now too late to save the club because there is simply not enough time to do this deal. It could take three months. And if Dale finds some novice to take it on, Bury will be back in this mess next year.”
Bury FC: It seems that Steve Dale has appeared on Talksport to appeal to the club’s fans to have a whip-around to save the club from going out of business. If nothing else, you have to admire his brass neck. More on this as we get it …
Celtic: Fraser Forster has completed a loan move to Celtic, who he left for Southampton in a £10m move five years ago. The goalkeeper was reintroduced to Celtic’s fans at half-time during their Europa League qualifier against AIK Solna last night. Forster has three years left on his deal with Southampton, but has made just one appearance for the club since Boxing Day in 2017, after falling behind Angus Gunn and Alex McCarthy in the pecking order. At Celtic he will be vying with Scott Bain and Craig Gordon for a place in the first team. Bain is expected to be out for the next four to six weeks with a thumb injury.
Liverpool: Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain has inked a new deal committing him to Liverpool until 2023. The 26-year-old England international, who missed most of last season through injury, has extended his deal by a year.
“I’m really, really excited,” he said. “It’s kind of been talked about for quite a while now. It’s been in the pipeline for a little while, so it’s nice to finally get it done and just extend my time here, which I am really looking forward to. I feel like I missed out on a year, which I obviously did, but it’s really exciting for me to be able to sign. It’s something that I feel is an opportunity to give that year back and make up for lost time – and hopefully put in some good performances to make amends for not being around last year.”
Newcastle United: Newcastle boss Steve Bruce has called for calm as many of those around him – specifically his defenders and many of the club’s fans – lose their heads following defeats at the hands of Arsenal and Norwich City, with a visit to White Hart Lane looming large.
“After two games, there’s a so-called mini-crisis and all the rest of it and, as you say, that is over-sensationalised,” he told reporters this morning. “Everything seems to be that way. But look, I understand that, it’s the nature of the club – it always has been. There’s always a storm in Newcastle and at the minute, we’re in one. The only way we can do it is to get a couple of results and the team to perform, and after two games, it’s very, very early to judge just yet.”
Southampton: Goalkeeper Alex McCarthy has resumed full training following the unspecified fitness issue which saw him sit out the game against, with Fraser Forster – on the verge of completing a loan move to Celtic – replacing him on the bench.
On loan from Augsburg, central defender Kevin Danso will be hoping to be involved, having been an unused substitute last weekend, but midfielder Mario Lemina is not expected to play and looks ready to leave before the end of the European transfer window. The midfielder has been linked with a move to Monaco.
Provisional squad: Gunn, Yoshida, Vestergaard, Bertrand, Bednarek, Valery, Romeu, Ward-Prowse, Redmond, Hojbjerg, Adams, McCarthy, Soares, Danso, Djenepo, Armstrong, Ings, Obafemi.
Brighton: Brighton boss Graham Potter has no fresh injury concerns ahead of Saturday’s Premier League game with Southampton at the Amex Stadium.
Jurgen Locadia is pushing for a recall after being dropped to the bench in favour of Leandro Trossard for last weekend’s draw with West Ham, while winger Alireza Jahanbakhsh is hoping to be included in Albion squad for the first time this season. Winger Jose Izquierdo, defender Ezequiel Schelotto (both knee) and midfielder Yves Bissouma (shoulder) remain sidelined.
Provisional squad: Ryan, Button, Montoya, Bernardo, Bong, Burn, Dunk, Duffy, Balogun, Webster, Stephens, Propper, Mooy, Gross, Jahanbakhsh, March, Locadia, Trossard, Murray, Andone, Maupay.
Manchester United: Solskjær also spoke about the far more serious of Pogba being racially abused by anonymous keyboard warriors on Twitter. “Paul’s fine,” he said. “Paul’s a strong character and it makes him stronger. I just cannot believe we still sit here in 2019 talking about these instances. Social media is a place where, as Harry [Maguire] said, people can hide behind fake identities. I don’t think it’s down to me to change it but we’ve got to do something about it and the authorities have got to do something about these ones that spread this hate. You just feel sorry for them really. They must have problems themselves when they have to do this.”
As Jamie Jackson, the Guardian’s Reni hat-wearing man on the Manchester beat, reported yesterday, Manchester United and and Kick It Out will meet representatives of Twitter regarding concerns over racism and other abuse aimed at footballers on the social media platform.
Manchester United: Ole Gunnar Solskjær has been addressing the ladies and gentlemen of the Fourth estate ahead of Manchester United’s match against Crystal Palace at Old Trafford tomorrow. Quizzed on Paul Pogba’s controversial penalty miss against Wolves on Monday night, he remains unfazed by the fact that the midfielder, who has missed four spot-kicks in 11 attempts for Manchester United, took the latest one ahead of Marcus Rashford. “I’m sure you’re going to see Paul Pogba score a penalty for Man United again,” he said. “Definitely. Let’s see when we get the next one. We’re practising penalties still and Marcus and Paul are still on them.”
On the subject of having two designated penalty takers, Solskjær had this to say: “It’s not that I’ve left it to the players to sort out, we’ve nominated two. It’s not like there’s anarchy and do whatever you want. Last season we had Marcus, Jesse [Lingard], Paul, who all scored penalties, probably more as well. There’s absolutely no fighting among them. We’re disappointed that we didn’t win the game but the talk is always more difficult when you don’t get a result.”
Premier League: Ahead of this weekend’s fixtures, beginning with Everton’s trip to Villa Park tonight, we’ve been surveying the top flight landscape through our binoculars, looking out for “things”. Read on …
David Conn has the latest on Bury, who could get a short extension on their 11.59pm deadline for expulsion, but only, according to EFL executive chair Debbie Jevans, if there is a “tangible” reason such as realistic, well advanced takeover negotiations.
The weekend starts here …
Greetings and welcome to our countdown to another weekend of piping hot football action across the UK and beyond. Or inaction, in the case of Bury Football Club, the beleaguered club whose fifth consecutive League One fixture of the season has been postponed. The Shakers are staring down the barrel of expulsion from the Football League unless their owner, Steve Dale, can sell the club or satisfy the EFL he has the funds to pay their debts and the £1.5m running costs for the season by 11.59pm tonight. We’ll keep tabs on the situation at Gigg Lane and keep you up to date on all the other football news that’s fit to print – and much else that probably isn’t as the day unfolds.