Liverpool crush Hull to boost title challenge

Free-scoring Liverpool’s burgeoning Premier League title challenge was given further impetus with a merciless 5-1 thrashing of 10-man Hull City at Anfield on Saturday.

Hull, who had not lost an away game all season, were overrun, forced to play for an hour with 10 men after Ahmed Elmohamady was sent off for handling a Philippe Coutinho shot on the line with James Milner tucking away the resulting penalty.

The home side, already ahead through Adam Lallana, looked poised to score every time they pressed forward with Sadio Mane making it three before the break with his 11th goal in his last 13 league games for Southampton and Liverpool.

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Aguero on target as city defeat Swansea

Sergio Aguero struck twice to lead Premier League leaders Manchester City to a comfortable 3-1 victory over Swansea on Saturday.

Argentine Aguero fired City ahead after nine minutes with a neat finish but Swansea hit straight back through Spanish forward Fernando Llorente who blasted the ball home from 12 metres.

Manchester City poured forward in the second half, Raheem Sterling wasting a good opportunity before Aguero coolly converted a 65th-minute penalty following a foul on Kevin de Bruyne. Naijabet

Sterling scored with a fine finish 13 minutes from time to confirm City’s sixth successive league victory of the season.

Match Preview : Arsenal vs Chelsea

In the week Arsene Wenger celebrates 20 years since being named as Arsenal’s manager, he comes up against the team he has had one of his biggest rivalries with in Chelsea.

The Frenchman will hope to mark the occasion with a win but his side have failed to do that in any of their last nine Premier League meetings with the Stamford Bridge outfit.

Indeed, Arsenal have also failed to score in their last six league matches against Chelsea but victory here would give them a fourth successive league win for the first time since last October.

Out to stop him will be Antonio Conte, who is looking to avoid going three league games without a win for the first time since he had four consecutive draws with Juventus in March 2012.

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Pogba delighted after scoring first goal for United

Paul Pogba finally ended his wait for a first goal for Manchester United since his world record transfer in Saturday’s 4-1 win against Leicester.

Pogba had gone five games without scoring following his £89 million ($115 million, 102 million euros) arrival from Juventus and had to endure criticism of some below-par performances.

But the 23-year-old France midfielder was on the scoresheet at last in the 42nd minute at Old Trafford.

Timing his run perfectly, Pogba met Daley Blind’s corner with a powerful header that gave Leicester goalkeeper Ron-Robert Zieler no chance.

It was United’s fourth goal of the half as Jose Mourinho’s side demolished the Premier League champions.

“I am very happy for the result and the goal. I hope that is not going to be the last,” Pogba said.

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Barcelona must adapt to Messi’s absence – Enrique

Barcelona coach Luis Enrique expects his team to adapt to Lionel Messi’s absence in the same manner as last season when they won eight of their 10 games without the talismanic forward.

The Argentina captain, who scored four goals and set up four in Barca’s five opening La Liga matches, was replaced during Wednesday’s game against Atletico with a groin injury that will sideline him for three weeks.

“Not to have Messi is always difficult but we have proved that we have enough resources to not depend on him,” Luis Enrique told a news conference on Friday.

“To have a player injured is bad news, even worse when it’s the best player in the world.

“In order to win titles, we have to overcome situations like this one, having to do without important players.

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Pogba shine as United sink Leicester

Jose Mourinho’s reshaped Manchester United destroyed Premier League champions Leicester City 4-1 with a performance that thrilled Old Trafford on Saturday and justified his decision to leave out Wayne Rooney.

The shake-up seemed to liberate Paul Pogba who led the way with a polished display, heading his first goal for the club on 42 minutes and starting the clever move that led to Juan Mata firing home United’s second after 37 minutes.

Mata also played a major part in United’s third, firing across goal for Marcus Rashford to convert from close range. Chris Smalling had begun the rout with a header after 22 minutes.

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Terry to miss Arsenal clash due to injury

Chelsea captain John Terry will miss their Premier League clash against London rivals Arsenal having failed to recover from an ankle injury, manager Antonio Conte said on Friday.

The 35-year-old, who started Chelsea’s opening four league games this season, damaged his ankle ligaments during a 2-2 draw at Swansea City earlier this month and was initially expected to be out for around 10 days.

“John is working but he didn’t recover for the game against Arsenal. In this case it is important (to listen to) what the player feels and the pain he is in,” Conte said.

In Terry’s absence, David Luiz made his first start since rejoining Chelsea in their league defeat by Liverpool last week.

“We have three central defenders and it is normal to make a choice. It is a big game between two big rivals and it is important to play a good game,” Conte said.

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Navas fit to make Real return

Real Madrid goalkeeper Keylor Navas is fit to play for the first time this season at Las Palmas on Saturday, coach Zinedine Zidane said.

Navas, whose last game was the Champions League final triumph on penalties over Atletico Madrid on 28 May, required surgery to resolve chronic tendinitis in his left foot.

“Keylor is back with us and in the squad,” Zidane told reporters on Friday. “He is a key player for us.

“Kiko (Casilla) has done very well and I will talk to the two of them to see what we can organise (playing time).”

Navas missed the Copa America with Costa Rica and Real’s opening five La Liga games as well as the 2-1 triumph over Sporting Lisbon in their Champions League group opener.

Real, unbeaten and two points clear of Sevilla at the top of La Liga, missed out on a league record 17th successive win when they drew 1-1 with Villarreal on Wednesday.

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Burnley striker Gray gets four-game ban

Burnley striker Andre Gray will serve a four match suspension after being found guilty of misconduct for homophobic comments he posted on Twitter in 2012, England’s Football Association announced on Friday.

The 25-year-old published the tweets when he was a non-league player in 2012, but they resurfaced on social media after he scored in Burnley’s 2-0 home win over Liverpool in the Premier League last month. Naijabet

One tweet read: “Is it me or are there gays everywhere? #Burn #Die #Makesmesick.”.

Gray admitted he had breached FA regulations for three of the six postings he was called to account for but denied the others were — the FA thought otherwise.

“Burnley forward Andre Gray has been suspended for four matches commencing with immediate effect for misconduct in respect of social media comments,” read the FA statement.

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Rampant Dortmund too hot for Freiburg

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang scored for the fifth time in five Bundesliga games this season as Borussia Dortmund beat Freiburg 3-1 on Friday to move level on points with league leaders Bayern Munich.

Aubameyang tapped in after fine work by livewire Ousmane Dembele to give Thomas Tuchel’s side the lead on the stroke of half-time at the Signal Iduna Park.

Polish international right-back Lukasz Piszczek doubled Dortmund’s advantage early in the second half after Caglar Soyuncu had turned a Gonzalo Castro cutback into his path.

Maximilian Philipp got one back for the visitors with a good finish on the hour mark but Raphael Guerreiro, a second-half substitute for Mario Goetze, secured the points in stoppage time at the end of a fine move.

Dortmund, 5-1 winners at Wolfsburg in midweek, have won their last four matches in all competitions and scored 20 goals in the process since a 1-0 loss to RB Leipzig a fortnight ago.

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Barcelona will miss Messi – Zidane

Real Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane insists it is obvious rivals Barcelona will miss the injured Lionel Messi during a three-week layoff, but has injury concerns of his own ahead of Saturday’s trip to Las Palmas.

The five-time World Player of the Year is set to be sidelined for Barca’s trips to Sporting Gijon, Borussia Moenchengladbach in the Champions League and Celta Vigo in the next week due to a groin strain.

“Messi is Messi. We all know what he can bring to this team,” Zidane said on Friday.

“Obviously, Barca are a different team when he is not there.”

However, Madrid have been struck by a double injury blow of their own with a huge Champions League clash at Borussia Dortmund to come on Tuesday.

Brazilian duo Marcelo and Casemiro will miss both trips to Las Palmas and Dortmund as well as Eibar’s visit to the Santiago Bernabeu next weekend.

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Guardiola thinks he’s ‘God’ – Dimitri Seluk

Four-time African Player of the Year Yaya Toure’s chances of ever playing for Manchester City again diminished further on Friday after his fiery agent launched another withering attack on club manager Pep Guardiola.

Guardiola had said earlier this week Toure would not play for the club until his agent Dimitri Seluk apologised for accusing the Spaniard of ‘humiliating’ the 33-year-old Ivorian midfielder after omitting him from the Champions League squad.

Rather than back down Seluk — who is regarded as a father figure by Toure and by his elder brother Celtic defender Kolo Toure — launched into Guardiola.

“Pep Guardiola — he thinks only about himself. He thinks he is already God,” said the Ukrainian.

“He won with Barcelona many titles but Yaya also won the same titles with Barcelona (Toure was in fact sold in 2010 and Guardiola stayed till 2012 accruing more silverware).

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Toulouse sink PSG to second league defeat

Ivory Coast defender Serge Aurier was sent off against his old club as Paris Saint-Germain slumped to a 2-0 defeat away at Toulouse in Ligue 1 on Friday.

Aurier was shown a second yellow card for conceding a penalty that Yann Bodiger converted early in the second half to put Toulouse in front at Le Stadium.

Jimmy Durmaz then secured the win for the home side late on as PSG suffered a second defeat in just seven league games this season to leave new coach Unai Emery facing more questions about his management.

The reigning champions took until the end of March to lose twice in the league last season but this loss followed a 3-1 reverse in Monaco last month and left Paris in third spot, a point behind Nice and Toulouse.

Leaders Nice go to Nancy on Sunday while Monaco, who host Angers on Saturday, and Bordeaux, who are at home to Caen, could both climb above PSG in the table over the course of the weekend.

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Rooney relishing ‘perfect’ City cup draw

Manchester United will have a perfect opportunity to redeem themselves against neighbours Manchester City when the sides clash in the fourth round of the League Cup, captain Wayne Rooney has said.

Pep Guardiola’s side drew first blood in the Manchester rivalry this season, beating United 2-1 away in the Premier League on 10 September, triggering the first of three successive defeats for Jose Mourinho’s side.

United got back to winning ways against third tier Northampton Town in the cup encounter on Wednesday and Rooney will be looking for revenge against City when the sides clash at Old Trafford in late October.

“For me, I think it’s the perfect draw,” he said. “With what happened in the league, it’s a chance for us to get revenge for that result. It’s going to be a great atmosphere.

“I think City will have 7 000-8 000 fans here, which will obviously make it an even better atmosphere. I think a cup game against City at Old Trafford is the perfect draw for us.”

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Sunderland are under pressure – Pardew

Crystal Palace manager Alan Pardew believes that Sunderland’s win less start in the Premier League has heaped more pressure on them when they host the London club on Saturday.

Sunderland, who have failed to win any of their last three home league matches against Palace, are 19th in the standings with one point from five games.

“I think Sunderland are a side trying to find that first win. There’s extra pressure on them and they could feel that on Saturday,” Pardew said Friday.

Pardew said it was a matter of time before winger Andros Townsend, who joined Palace from Newcastle United in July, regained his place in the England squad.

“Andros has England experience and really and truly never had the games he deserved at Spurs. Andros has got to be in consideration for England,” Pardew added.

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Bayern Robben, Boateng to sit on the bench

Bayern Munich’s Arjen Robben and Jerome Boateng will not be in the starting line-up for Saturday’s league game at strugglers Hamburg SV, the German champions’ coach Carlo Ancelotti said on Friday.

Dutch winger Robben played his first competitive game following a six-month injury layoff on Tuesday, coming on as a substitute and netting the third goal in a 3-0 victory over Hertha Berlin.

“I talked with Robben. He will be on the bench and could come on in the second half,” Ancelotti said. Naija and Bet

Central defender Boateng, also back from the injury he suffered at the Euro 2016 in July, made his first start against the Berliners.

“I will be rotating tomorrow but I will take the final decisions after today’s training,” Ancelotti told reporters, adding that central defender Mats Hummels would start after being on the bench against Hertha, as will striker Robert Lewandowski.

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Juventus must ‘take command’ to keep top spot

Juventus must “take command” of their opponents, thundered coach Massimiliano Allegri, as they look to warm up for a vital Champions League clash with a win at Palermo on Saturday.

Juve pounced on Napoli’s shock scoreless draw at Genoa on Wednesday to go top of Serie A with a one-point lead on the southerners thanks to a 4-0 rout of Cagliari.

But defeat to Inter Milan at the San Siro last week left a bitter taste and the Old Lady is still looking for early season consistency.

Days after goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon said he “didn’t recognise” his team during their San Siro reverse, Allegri followed suit.

“Juventus has to start taking command of games,” Allegri said after midweek goals by Daniele Rugani, Gonzalo Higuain, Dani Alves and an own goal in Turin.

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Giggs might show interested in managing Swansea

Ryan Giggs would be interested in managing Swansea if the club parted company with boss Francesco Guidolin.

Giggs, 42, left his position as Manchester United assistant manager at the start of July – ending a 29-year association with the club.

Swansea have taken four points from five games this season and it has been reported the Welsh club are considering a change of manager.

Should a change be made, Giggs is unlikely to be Swansea’s only option.

Since leaving Old Trafford in the summer, Giggs has been concentrating on long-standing business interests, TV work and Salford City, the non-league club he part owns with former team-mates Paul Scholes, Nicky Butt, and the Neville brothers, Gary and Phil.

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Casemiro suffers leg fracture injury

Real Madrid midfielder Casemiro has suffered a fracture in his left leg, the La Liga club said on Thursday.

The Brazil international was substituted in Real’s 2-0 win over Espanyol on Sunday and played no part in Wednesday’s 1-1 draw with Villarreal.

“Following tests carried out today on Casemiro at the Sanitas La Moraleja University Hospital, he has been diagnosed with a fracture to the central third of his left fibula. His recovery will continue to be assessed,” the club said in statement.

The 24-year-old, who has made five appearances in all competitions for Madrid this season, is likely to miss Brazil’s World Cup qualifiers against Bolivia and Venezuela next month.

Lukaku set to return for Bournemouth clash

Striker Romelu Lukaku is likely to return for Everton’s Premier League clash at Bournemouth this weekend, manager Ronald Koeman has said.

The Belgian international, who has bagged four league goals this season, missed Everton’s 2-0 League Cup defeat to Norwich on Tuesday with a toe injury. Naijabet

Koeman put to rest fears that Everton’s top goal scorer this season would face an extended layoff, however.

“He did training separate to the group today and we expect him to train normally in the morning,” he told reporters on Thursday.

“If that happens, he will be fit for the weekend.”

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Spurs can challenge with multiple attack

Kyle Walker has underlined the growing confidence at White Hart Lane by insisting Tottenham are targeting a clean sweep of honours this season.

Mauricio Pochettino’s side travel to Middlesbrough on Saturday sitting third in the Premier League table and in buoyant mood after thrashing Gillingham 5-0 in the League Cup in midweek.

Tottenham have not enjoyed a completely unblemished start to the campaign, with the home defeat to Monaco in their opening Champions League group game coming as a major disappointment.

But flying England right-back Walker says that there is a growing belief that there are no limits to what the squad can achieve this season, at home and in Europe.

“We’re in it to win it, as they say,” Walker said. “We’re in all the competitions and we want to win all the competitions. Naija and Bet

“We don’t go out there and say, ‘We’re not going to win this one today because we’re thinking about the other game’.

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Bayern line up fresh to maintain top spot

Carlo Ancelotti’s all-conquering German league leaders Bayern Munich face a Hamburg side in turmoil on Saturday with coach Bruno Labbadia under the threat of the axe after three straight defeats.

Hamburg’s 1-0 defeat at Freiburg on Tuesday followed their humiliating 4-0 drubbing at home to RB Leipzig last Saturday.

Labbadia has been in charge since April 2015 but another uninspiring performance from his team at the hands of Ancelotti’s relentless Bayern could be his last.

It does not help that Hamburg have suffered 5-0, 8-0 and 9-2 thrashings at the hands of the Munich giants in the last three years and another drubbing could see Labbadia shown the door just five games into the new league season.

Hamburg last beat Bayern in 2009 and are winless against the Bavarian giants in their last 13 games. Naijabet

“I take the main responsibility and I’m the first to do so if we can’t decide games for ourselves,” said Labbadia after their latest reversal.

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Aguero return back to action lifts Man City

Pep Guardiola’s perfect start at Manchester City suffered a rare setback when Vincent Kompany was injured midweek, but prolific Sergio Aguero returns for the Premier League leaders at Swansea on Saturday.

Club captain Kompany has had a litany of injury problems over the last two years and was playing his first game in six months on Wednesday, having recovered from groin surgery, as City won 2-1 at Swansea in the League Cup third round.

The Belgium centre-back appeared to be fine until the second minute of second-half stoppage time, when he ran straight down the tunnel after Gylfi Sigurdsson scored Swansea’s consolation goal, even though there were a few moments of the match still to play.

Kompany’s fitness is Guardiola’s main concern as he prepares City to face Francesco Guidolin’s team for the second time in four days at the Liberty Stadium. Naija and Bet

It seems unlikely Kompany will be able to play any part but, significantly, one player who will be available for City is Aguero.

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Mourinho feels heat at United, Wenger marks anniversary

Jose Mourinho has vowed to silence the critics when Manchester United face champions Leicester, while his old rival Arsene Wenger hopes to celebrate a memorable milestone with a rare success against Chelsea on Saturday.

Mourinho finds himself under fire less than two months into his United reign after three successive defeats and an unconvincing League Cup win at third tier Northampton.

United are already trailing six points behind Premier League leaders Manchester City and another setback at Old Trafford this weekend would be a huge blow to Mourinho’s bid to stamp his authority on a team that has underachieved in recent years.

After winning their first three league matches under Mourinho, as well as beating Leicester in the Community Shield, United lost to City and Watford, either side of a Europa League defeat at Feyenoord.

Mourinho’s tactics and team selections have been called into question, while there have been suggestions that the manager’s public criticism of individual players, including injury-plagued defender Luke Shaw, has not gone down well in the dressing room.

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