Jacob Steinberg

Author's details

Name: Jacob Steinberg
Date registered: September 27, 2014
URL: http://www.theguardian.com/football/chelsea

Latest posts

  1. French Open 2017 women’s form guide: the players to watch at Roland Garros — May 26, 2017
  2. French Open 2017 men’s form guide: the players to watch at Roland Garros | Jacob Steinberg — May 25, 2017
  3. Manchester United beat Ajax 2-0 to win Europa League – as it happened — May 24, 2017
  4. Boris Becker: Novak Djokovic and Andre Agassi could be a winning combination — May 24, 2017
  5. Premier League 2016-17 review: innovations we need for the future — May 23, 2017

Author's posts listings

May 26

French Open 2017 women’s form guide: the players to watch at Roland Garros

What to expect from the favourites and dark horses in the women’s singles at Roland Garros – with Serena Williams absent and top contenders nursing injuries the tournament looks wide open
• French Open 2017 men’s form guide

1) Angelique Kerber

Continue reading…

Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/sport/2017/may/26/french-open-2017-women-to-watch-konta-muguruza-halep

May 25

French Open 2017 men’s form guide: the players to watch at Roland Garros | Jacob Steinberg

What to expect from the favourites and dark horses in the men’s singles at Roland Garros – will anyone stop the resurgent Rafael Nadal?
• French Open women’s form guide will go online on Friday morning

1) Andy Murray

Continue reading…

Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/sport/2017/may/25/french-open-2017-form-guide-roland-garros-andy-murray-novak-djokovic

May 24

Manchester United beat Ajax 2-0 to win Europa League – as it happened

Paul Pogba and Henrikh Mkhitaryan as Manchester United earned their place in next season’s Champions League with a commanding performance

9.57pm BST

Manchester United’s players go up to collect their medals. Jose Mourinho’s holding up three fingers in acknowledgement in his sort of treble. His players follow suit. Then it’s time for Wayne Rooney to hoist the trophy into the air. He’s not had the greatest season, nor has he made much of a contribution tonight, but he deserved the honour of leading the celebrations after everything he’s given to United. It’s a feelgood moment. It’s what football’s about. Manchester can celebrate tonight. I’ll leave them to it. That’s all from me. Thanks for reading and emailing. Bye.

9.52pm BST

Ajax’s disappointed youngsters are collecting their runners-up medals. They’re being consoled by Edwin van der Sar. It’s been a fine season for them, but it’s just a shame they’ve come up short in both the league and Europe, losing this final and finishing second to Feyernoord in the Eredivisie. Hopefully Peter Bosz can keep this team together and develop them further. You can bet they’ll be back next season.

9.49pm BST

Manchester United join Chelsea in winning all four European trophies. Taken their time. I suppose they also won the World Cup, or whatever it’s called, twice.

9.46pm BST

Related: Manchester United’s Paul Pogba sets up emotional Europa League triumph

9.46pm BST

Pogba’s off for a huge chuckling hug with Mourinho. It’s Mourinho’s fourth European trophy. It isn’t his biggest – it can’t match a Champions League with Porto – but there’s no debating its significance for United.

9.45pm BST

“We know things like this are very sad all over the world, not only in Manchester but also in Paris,” Pogba says. “We won for them. We played for the country. We won for them. We played for them, the people who died.”

9.44pm BST

“Thank you to my team-mates because without them I could not have scored so many goals,” says Henrikh Mkhitaryan. “Everyone said I was going to score in the final and I did thanks to my team-mates. Now we are playing in the Champions League next year.”

9.43pm BST

“We knew we were going to play Europa League,” says Paul Pogba. “Our goal was to win. We are very proud. Nobody can talk. They say we have a bad season but we have three trophies. The start was very important. We scored early. We started to play backwards. We scored the second goal with Miki and we controlled the game.”

9.42pm BST

Manchester United undoubtedly deserved this – they outplayed and out-thought Ajax with a streetwise, experienced performance – and they feel like fitting winners too. After everything that’s happened, this is a welcome moment of positivity for the city of Manchester.

9.40pm BST

Manchester United have done it! They’re back in the Champions League! Jose Mourinho’s on the pitch! His assistants are chucking him up and down in the air. This appears to mean a lot. His son runs on to the pitch and Mourinho bundles him to the floor in a huge embrace. United’s manager has got quite emotional here, the old softie.

9.38pm BST

90 min+4: Ibrahimovic is wandering around the United bench, a huge smile on his face, his crutches in one hand, celebrating with the rest of his team-mates.

9.35pm BST

90 min+1: There will be four added minutes, but this has felt inevitable ever since Pogba’s opener.

9.33pm BST

90 min: Before the corner can be taken, Wayne Rooney replaces Juan Mata for what may well be his farewell appearance in a United shirt.

9.33pm BST

89 min: Mata wins a corner on the left.

9.32pm BST

88 min: Wayne Rooney is getting ready to come on.

9.31pm BST

87 min: Martial pierces Ajax’s high line with a ball through to Lingard, who’s clean through on goal. He loves a goal in a final, but Sanchez speeds back to cleanly tackle him as he prepares to shoot! Ajax steam up the other end, Van der Beek stepping cleverly inside Smalling, only to curl straight at Romero from close range.

9.29pm BST

85 min: “I was born in Urmston, Manchester and my earliest memories are of entertaining, age three, football fans from my 2nd floor window as they streamed by each Saturday to the match down the road at Old Trafford,” says Rolf Hughes. “Mutual waving and dancing as I recall – they were a game crowd. That would be 1966. I left in ‘72 but kept Manchester somehow in my DNA. Years later I returned with my three sons (all, coincidentally, Man Utd supporters even though all three born in Sweden – the oldest two in Stockholm, as it happens), and we have developed a strong connection with the city for most of the reasons already mentioned elsewhere. We had a terror attack in Stockholm a few weeks back. Then the atrocity in Manchester Monday night. The reaction of locals in both cases has been very moving and cause for optimism despite these trying times.”

9.28pm BST

84 min: Marcus Rashford, who’s given his all this evening, is replaced by Anthony Martial.

9.27pm BST

83 min: Sanchez’s shot whistles over.

9.25pm BST

81 min: De Ligt’s hopeful effort from long range drifts over. Frenkie de Jong replaces Riedewald.

9.24pm BST

80 min: Ziyech looks for Nere’s run. It’s headed behind by Blind. Corner to Ajax. It reaches Van der Beek on the right, but his shot’s blocked.

9.21pm BST

77 min: Notorious hatchet man Juan Mata catches De Ligt with a late, high challenge on the left, sparking a minor brawl between members of both times. Mata’s booked. So’s Riedewald.

9.19pm BST

75 min: Will Ajax score? They always score.

9.17pm BST

74 min: Jesse Lingard replaces Henrikh Mkhitaryan.

9.16pm BST

72 min: Ziyech’s low free-kick hits one of his own players in the wall.

9.15pm BST

71 min: The ball flies around in the air on the edge of the United box and when no advantage comes Ajax’s way, the referee penalises Mkhitaryan for handball just outside the area. The free-kick’s inside the D.

9.14pm BST

70 min: Donny Van de Beek replaces Lasse Schone.

9.12pm BST

68 min: Traore almost wriggles through, but the ball’s shuffled behind for a corner. “I worry about older football fans. Have they grown up on a diet of grainy, black and white broadcasts, muddy pitches and leg breaking tackles with nary a goal to be seen?” says Matthew Turner. “As a youngster of 43 I’m all flash and dazzle but I remember when there used be a manager who liked his teams to play on the front foot and score goals. He might even have been at this same club. He never amounted to much though so United fans are right to praise careful husbandry on offer now. It’s not in the least tedious.”

9.10pm BST

66 min: Ziyech’s harmless floater drifts over.

9.09pm BST

65 min: Pogba’s cross from the right finds Fellaini in the middle, but he bonces the ball straight at Onana! What a chance!

9.08pm BST

64 min: Younes is booked for fouling Valencia. This isn’t happening for Ajax. They are Monaco in 2004, Bayern in 2010.

9.07pm BST

63 min: “Many memories, musical, sporting and night outing,” says John Parry. “But the lot has to be topped by my dad taking me for my first match in the 1st Division in September 1971. Then aged 9, I was to witness a George Best hat trick in a 4-2 win with Charlton scoring the other. Immediate love, the excitement of that player only really being rekindled again by Eric, whose message to Manchester this week is without equal. As a footnote, Harry Redknapp later asserted that George hadn’t been to bed that night, having spent it on the Manchester tiles. He still battered them.”

9.06pm BST

62 min: The disappointing Kasper Dolberg’s replaced by David Neres.

9.05pm BST

61 min: Herrera stops Ziyech with a magnificent challenge on the edge of the United area.

9.03pm BST

59 min: “For all the complaints about Mourinho’s style (over-exaggerated – United have often been excellent and entertaining this year, as even Danny Murphy was stressing on Football Focus at the weekend), aren’t finals about winning, however you manage to do it?” says David Wall.

Name the manager – “Finals are not for playing, they are for winning.”

9.02pm BST

58 min: Veltman’s booked for tripping Mata. “I worry about the football knowledge of guardian readers these days,” says Philip Brennan. “Have they watched actual football matches or have they grown up on a diet of mad highlights reels with a goal every 5 seconds? Ah well.”

9.01pm BST

57 min: Pogba takes too long to clear on the left. Too casual, he ends up rolling the ball behind for a corner. Mourinho is livid. It’s a good job the corner comes to nothing.

8.59pm BST

55 min: “Manchester, Manchester, Manchester,” cry the United fans.

8.57pm BST

53 min: Traore’s deflected effort from 20 yards is easily gathered by Romero. “Unless Ajax’s young goal-getters snap out of it pronto, their off-season theme song is gonna be Cruel Summer by Onana-rama,” says Peter Oh.

8.56pm BST

52 min: Schone wriggles away from Fellaini in midfield. Fellaini chops him down and picks up a booking. The ball’s lifted into the United area by Ziyech and Younes goes down. Nothing doing.

8.54pm BST

51 min: “I was born in Manchester and am fiercely proud of my city,” says Barrie Monks. “I moved away from Manchester in 1981 but still love the city of my birth. Recently though, the comments from people living in Manchester after the bombing has made me question whether I have the right to champion Manchester seeing as I left it so long ago (if you love it so much why did you leave?). But, I am Mancunian and will always be Mancunian. I love the city and its people and will do until the day I die.”

8.53pm BST

49 min: Ajax are rocking. Rashford threatens to speed away down the left, but Sanchez sticks out a telescopic leg and nicks it away from him.

8.52pm BST

For once, Manchester United get the cushion of a second goal! Mata’s curling corner from the left is met by Smalling and his downward header drops into the six yard box. With his back to goal, Mkhitaryan evokes Andy Cole at Middlesbrough in 1996 by hooking the ball high past the helpless Onana!

8.51pm BST

47 min: Fellaini threatens to bustle through after a spot of head tennis on the edge of the Ajax area. Sanchez hacks behind for a corner. And…

8.50pm BST

46 min: Ajax get the second half underway. The Ajax fans behind Romero’s goal have let a flare off. Red smoke is billowing on to the pitch.

8.47pm BST

Half-time emails

“It’s hard to determine which of these sides is made up of inexperienced kids or cost hundreds of millions,” says Jerome Mallon. United, although winning, are distinctly mourin… I mean average.”

8.33pm BST

Manchester United will be the much happier team. Their plan is working, they lead thanks to Paul Pogba’s deflected strike and they are 45 minutes away from winning this trophy. Ajax have been poor. Peter Bosz has plenty to think about as he walks down the tunnel.

8.32pm BST

45 min: Traore plays a one-two with Klaassen and bursts into the area, but Darmian hares back to insert his body between the Ajax striker and the ball, eventually luring him into making a rash foul.

8.31pm BST

43 min: The word from those at the ground is that the pitch is awful, which might have something to do with how slowly and inaccurately Ajax are passing the ball.

8.29pm BST

42 min: A scrappy lull.

8.25pm BST

39 min: De Ligt knocks a five-yard pass straight out of play. That sums Ajax’s performance up.

8.25pm BST

37 min: Traore heads on a slalom, beating Pogba on the right. He slithers into the area from the right and briefly looks as though he might be about to score one of the great solo goals, but Blind does just enough to squeeze the ball off his toes. Smalling completes the job with a hefty clearance. Traore looks the likeliest player to get Ajax back into this game.

8.22pm BST

35 min: Ajax are playing in front of United. They are, to use a Wengerism, playing with the handbrake on.

8.21pm BST

34 min: A rare amount of space for Younes on the left. His low ball flashes across the face of goal, though, Dolberg nowhere near it.

8.20pm BST

33 min: Rashford clambers to his feet again. Ajax could have probably done with him going off.

8.19pm BST

32 min: Rashford scampers down the left and threatens to break into the area. He’s halted by an expert challenge by De Ligt and appears to have hurt himself.

8.18pm BST

31 min: The first yellow card of the evening goes to Mkhitaryan, who’s pushed his luck too far after fouling Veltman again on the right.“I lived in Manchester for 3 years from 1994 to 1997 (not at university but my then girlfriend was).” says Simon Darvill. “I love Manchester, so many great memories but the most Manchester thing ever? We moved into a house within spitting distance of Maine Road. About a week after we moved we went out on an afternoon drinking session, which went on into the night. At some point I went home, a little worse for wear and got to my front door and tried to put my key in the door. It wouldn’t go in the lock. I tried and tried when all of a sudden the door opened. Rather than my girlfriend standing then, there was a middle aged Mancunian man. “What are you doing in my house” I slurred. He explained it most definitely wasn’t my house but his. I told it wasn’t. Very patiently he said it wasn’t. it was his. But this is 12 XXXXXX Street I assured him? No, its 12 YYYYYYY Street. I had missed my road by three streets. If you have every been round there you can understand why it would be easy to lose you street if you were a bit merry. Anyway, he very generously delivered me back to the correct house, much to the amusement of him and my girlfriend. God, I miss Manchester.”

8.15pm BST

28 min: United’s superior experience looks pivotal at the moment. They’re controlling the game well. Other than that half-chance for Traore, Ajax haven’t threatened.

8.13pm BST

26 min: Kasper Dolberg hasn’t had a sniff yet. United are very compact and hard to break down.

8.11pm BST

24 min: Fellaini Carricks a pass out to the right for Valencia, who has space to attack. United’s captain drives past Riedewald and into the area, but Onana beats away his venomous drive. United are playing very well.

8.09pm BST

22 min: Mkhitaryan concedes a free-kick on the right, bringing down Veltman. Schone’s dangerous cross is put behind for a corner on the left. Ziyech’s delivery’s met by Pogba and Traore sees his shot charged down.

8.08pm BST

21 min: “Born in Newton Heath, as was United,” says William Kacoullas. “And although almost all of my 50 plus years have been spent in Southern California, Manchester is still home and I spend every summer there. People tend to think I live in paradise…no, as far as I’m concerned a paradise is about the people and Mancunians are the warmest, most passionate, most welcoming I have found. I exercise on those arena steps every day when I’m there…will be a very different experience next time. Manc forever!”

8.07pm BST

20 min: Ajax, who haven’t really got going here, win a corner on the left Hakim Ziyech sends in an outswinger, but Sanchez heads well over.

8.06pm BST

It isn’t tense any more. Although this is a poor goal for Ajax to concede. Riedewald, over on the left, puts his team in trouble with a poor throw inside in a defensive position. United, pressing high, seize possession. Fellaini moves the ball to the unmarked Pogba on the edge of the area and the midfielder’s low left-footer skims off Sanchez and deflects over the helpless Onana. What a waste of money.

8.03pm BST

16 min: This, unsurprisingly perhaps, is increasingly tense and cagey.

8.03pm BST

15 min: Traore schemes on the left, moving it on to Younes on the touchline. Younes, an excellent dribbler, skips brilliantly past Herrera and slips a pass inside to Traore, who’s clear in the area. His fierce, rising shot from the left is straight at Romero, who deals with it comfortably.

7.59pm BST

12 min: Ajax attack coherently for the first time. Younes whips a cross in from the left, but Smalling heads away from Klassen.

7.58pm BST

11 min: Ajax are struggling to do the basics at the moment. “I’ve only ever been to Manchester for gigs (the Deaf Academy is a magnificent venue!) so I can’t lay claim to really ‘getting’ the city, but I am behind them tonight,” says Matt Dony. “At some point, we’ve probably all smirkingly given it the old ‘Some people think football is a matter of life and death…’ schtick, but it simply isn’t. And times like this are powerful, terrible, grotesque reminders of that. I’m a Liverpool fan from South Wales with no love for Mourinho, but I hope they win. I hope they bring a trophy back to Manchester. In the grand scheme of things, a tin pot means very, very little. But it will make at least someone start to smile through the tears. And that’s a beautiful thought.”

7.57pm BST

10 min: Rashford is looking dangerous. His movement across the front is causing problems for Ajax here. He wins a throw on the left. The ball comes to Mata, who swings a menacing ball into the middle. It’s just too far in front of Fellaini.

7.56pm BST

8 min: Klassen’s outmuscled in midfield by Fellaini, who knocks a pass over the top to Rashford, who sets off down the right with Sanchez in hot pursuit. Rashford wins the initial battle, but he ends up fouling the Colombian centre-back after trying to beat him for pace.

7.53pm BST

6 min: The Ajax fans are making a lot of noise. Their team looks less convincing at the moment, mind you, but they’re beginning to settle and get a feel for the ball.

7.52pm BST

5 min: Pogba muscles his way through a challenge in midfield, but slams a pass out of play on the left.

7.50pm BST

3 min: Ajax were expected to make a fast start. Think again. United have come flying out of the traps here. Fellaini wins the ball high on the left and finds Mkhitaryan. He slides a pass into the area for Rashford, who turns and sees his shot blocked.

7.50pm BST

2 min: Veltman was down for a moment or two, but he slowly gets back to his feet. He’ll continue. Ajax have started shakily, though, and a foul midway inside their half gives United a free-kick. Blind hangs it towards the right of the Ajax area, where Smalling rises and heads into the middle. Onana confidently claims it.

7.48pm BST

It’s time for the football. Manchester United, all in blue, get the Europa League final underway. They are kicking from right to left in the first half and they’re on the attack straight away! The ball’s lifted into the Ajax area by Mata, looking for Mkhitaryan, and that leads to a collision between Onana and Veltman in the Dutch defence. The ball’s cleared as far as Pogba, who controls well before looping a volley just wide from 25 yards. What a start that would have been!

7.46pm BST

The Manchester United fans break out into impromptu applause and chants of support for their city. Can you blame them?

7.45pm BST

Before we begin, a minutes’s silence in memory of the victims of Monday night’s terrorist attack in Manchester.

7.43pm BST

Here come the teams. Ajax and Manchester United, 13 major continental titles between them, about to meet for the first time in a European final. There’s a fine atmosphere inside the aptly named Friends Arena.

7.35pm BST

“I’ve never been to Manchester,” says Conal Huetter. “My relationship with the city comes primarily from supporting United for over 20 years, and also my love of The Smiths that developed when I was in high school. I also introduced my dad to both of these passions, and watching United games together, as well as watching my “Who Put the ‘M’ in Manchester?” DVD once a year or so, has been a special part of our relationship. I was surprised by how hard the events on Monday hit me, but I think a lot of it came from the affinity I’ve developed for the culture and people of Manchester, even from afar. The people I seeing cheering in the stands every week, and the people who are singing along to the same songs I love, these are people whom I share something with. And to think that we have to be fearful about something as simple as appreciating music, or supporting a football team, is just completely awful. I’ll be nervously following the MBM from work, as I have had to do for most of United’s Europa League run. Win or lose, I just hope they give a great effort, and do the people of Manchester proud tonight.”

7.35pm BST

“I’ve no connection to Manchester myself, other than an everlasting love for the music of The Fall, but I just thought that I’d throw in Fraiser Crane’s screen father, Martin (John Mahoney),” says Steven Hughes. “He was born in Blackpool, grew up in Manchester, leaving for the U.S. when he was 19. His first job was selling peanuts outside Old Trafford.”

7.33pm BST

Reading the names Van der Sar, De Boer, Kluivert, and Blind in your preamble has taken me straight back to 1995,” says Peter Oh. “If I were at home and not at the office (it’s approaching mid-day here in California), I’d put the Stone Roses ‘Second Coming’ CD in the old 5-disc carousel and revel in the memories of great football.”

What a team. On the subject, here’s a Joy of Six on teams that broke up too soon. Let’s hope Ajax manage to keep the 2017 vintage together.

Related: The Joy of Six: football teams that broke up too soon

7.32pm BST

You’ll probably want to know about Ajax’s hotshot Danish striker, Kasper Dolberg. Ed Aarons has the lowdown.

Related: Ajax prodigy Kasper Dolberg: coached by Bergkamp, finishes like Van Basten

7.31pm BST

More pre-match reading

Related: Ajax’s thrilling revival under Peter Bosz delivers on Johan Cruyff’s vision

7.27pm BST

Ajax fans are singing this right now. Yep.

7.25pm BST

@JacobSteinberg 5th Av! “STONE F***ING ROSES”; sideshooters; worst toilets ever; The Waterfall Dance; DJs behind a cage; Chip naan; buzz ome

7.22pm BST

In Manchester United’s favour is Jose Mourinho’s record in European finals. He’s three from three, having won the Uefa Cup and Champions League with Porto in 2003 and 2004 respectively and the Champions League with Inter seven years ago. By contrast, this is Peter Bosz’s first European final at the age of 53.

7.18pm BST

Jose Mourinho speaks. “We tried our best to focus on the game. It is our job. We come here to do that job the best we can and I think we are ready for it. Not with the same happiness, not with the happiness that we bring with us normally, but from a professional point of view we are ready. I don’t know what Ajax are going to do. I don’t know if they will be able to do what they want to do. We are going to give absolutely everything we have to give. Bailly is suspended. It was a choice between Smalling and Jones. I was pushed to decide Chris because he recovered before Jones and he has one week in advance in relation to Jones. Mata is a position where we have alternatives. We have Martial, we have Lingard. Today it is important to start with experience and a brain and later to go with pace and freshness. One season cannot depend on one game but the reality is if we win tonight we get a very important trophy and a Champions League spot.”

7.10pm BST

Edwin van Der Sar, Ajax’s CEO, is being interviewed on BT Sport at the moment. That’s Edwin van Der Sar. Ajax’s CEO. They do things differently there.

7.10pm BST

I recently went to Amsterdam to visit Ajax’s training ground and discover how Peter Bosz, a manager who’s as much of a Cruyff disciple as it’s possible to be, is inspiring a revival there. Bosz is a fascinating coach who loves Pep Guardiola and exciting football. He hates negative football. Before you ask, we didn’t talk about Jose Mourinho when we met.

Related: Ajax return to the Cruyff ideals as Peter Bosz leads new generation

7.07pm BST

Pre-match emails

“Until December I lived in Salford and had done for four and a half years,” says Chris Dowding. “They were great years. My brother lives there, a lot of my friends are there. I have had some of the best nights out of my life in Manchester. I have wondered around the city centre taking in the noise, the architecture, the accents. Manchester is a melting pot of every religion, race and colour you could think of. Her people are wonderful; they love Manchester and she loves them right back. I worked with people who were in Manchester when the IRA bombed the Arndale in 1996 and they are very matter of face about it – something which I always admired. Manchester and her people are tough bastards and as Tony Wilson correctly said, they do things differently there. They will never forget their fallen and never neglect their wounded, but they will do so with a smile, with love and with the biggest bloody hearts you could hope to find. Again, for what it is worth, come on United, although I’d be lying if I said I was excited for the game.”

7.00pm BST

That Ajax team. It’s so young. In fact, it’s the youngest ever starting 11 in a major European final. It’s so vibrant and refreshingly positive. Peter Bosz has them set up to charge at their opponents from the first whistle and they have attacking quality on the bench, with Justin Kluivert and David Neres itching to make their mark.

Manchester United are unrecognisable from the team that beat Crystal Palace, of course. Jose Mourinho has made it clear that, from his point of view at least, their season rests on this game. Europa League specialist Sergio Romero is in goal instead of David de Gea, Daley Blind and Chris Smalling start in central defence in the absence of the suspended Eric Bailly, Mourinho opts for the physicality of Marouane Fellaini over Michael Carrick in midfield and Marcus Rashford starts up front. Wayne Rooney is on the bench. Will he get on for what could be his final United appearance?

6.56pm BST

Ajax: Onana; Riedewald, De Ligt, Sanchez, Veltman; Ziyech, Schone, Klaassen; Younes, Dolberg, Traore. Subs: Boer, Tete, Westermann, De Jong, Van der Beek, Kluivert, Neres.

Manchester United: Romero; Valencia, Smalling, Blind, Darmian; Herrera, Fellaini; Mata, Pogba, Mkhitaryan; Rashford. Subs: De Gea, Fosu-Mensah, Lingard, Carrick, Jones, Martial, Rooney.

6.50pm BST

“Sport brings hope ,entertainment, distraction, joy and sadness,” says Paul Moody. “Many other emotions. Hope this one can do most of these.”

6.39pm BST

Nothing happened to me or anyone I know on Monday night, so I’m not going to try to make it about me. But allow me the indulgence, for a moment, of just saying that I lived in Manchester for three years. They were three of the best years of my life. From that, you’ve probably guessed that it’s where I went to university. I’m a Londoner, but I adore Manchester. Fallowfield, Withington, Didsbury, Fifth Avenue, the Printworks, Deansgate, the Arndale Centre, the football, the Northern Quarter – it all comes flooding back. I was up there recently actually, visiting a friend for his birthday, and was delighted to find that it’s still a wonderful city, that I wasn’t remembering the place through a haze of nostalgia. In fact, I was rather sad when the weekend came to an end. I won’t pretend that what happened is my tragedy, just because I happened to live in a grotty house of seven guys in South Manchester in 2008. But I would like to know what the place means to you.

3.51pm BST

Hello. In normal circumstances, in a normal world, where normal people aren’t affected by abnormal events, we would begin our coverage of this major European final between two of the most storied clubs in the world by talking about football. We could talk about how Manchester United’s season hinges on the outcome of one game. Whether Jose Mourinho is getting his mojo back or whether he’s having us on. We could talk about 1968, 1999 and 2008. We could talk about Matt Busby and Sir Alex Ferguson. We could talk about the Class of 92; we could make a link between them and Ajax’s emerging generation of youngsters. We could talk about Peter Bosz. We could talk about 1995. We could talk about Patrick Kluivert. We could talk about Justin Kluivert. We could talk about Johan Cruyff and Total Football. We could talk and talk and talk about something that’s rather irrelevant in the grand scheme of things. But these aren’t normal circumstances.

There will be a minute’s silence before kick-off in Stockholm tonight and the players of both sides will wear black armbands, while the mood in the stands will be sombre but defiant. It shouldn’t be this way. We should be talking about football. We should be talking about football. You’d probably like me to start talking about football; maybe drop in some team news or tactical analysis or some thoughts on what missing out on the Champions League would mean for a club of Manchester United’s size. I can’t stop thinking about an Ariana Grande though.

Continue reading…

Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/football/live/2017/may/24/ajax-v-manchester-united-europa-league-final-live

May 24

Boris Becker: Novak Djokovic and Andre Agassi could be a winning combination

German has no problem with his former player bringing Agassi into his box for the French Open but is worried about the form of the world No1 Andy Murray

Boris Becker had kept his ear to the ground, so he did not stop in his tracks when he heard that Novak Djokovic will have Andre Agassi in his box when he begins the defence of his French Open title next week. “It doesn’t come as a surprise,” Djokovic’s former coach says. “I’ve heard the name for a while. I look at information from Novak and his team and I am close with him. I applaud the decision. I think it’s an excellent choice.”

The announcement came after Djokovic’s one-sided defeat to the exciting young German, Alexander Zverev, in the final of the Italian Open on Sunday.

Related: Novak Djokovic reveals Andre Agassi will coach him at French Open

Continue reading…

Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/sport/2017/may/24/boris-becker-novak-djokovic-andre-agassi-coach-tennis

May 23

Premier League 2016-17 review: innovations we need for the future

Tweak the double-hit rule, make managers accountable for cynical tactics and more. Now post your suggestions

Welcome to theguardian.com review of the 2016-17 Premier League season. Now that the campaign has ended we would like you to help us choose your favourite goal, the best referee and the best manager, and other winners in a total of 10 categories. We have nominated some contenders but this is just to get the discussion going: we would like your suggestions so that we can compile the best into final polls that you can vote on. The polls will be published at midday on Wednesday 24 May, so please tell us what you think. Thanks

Related: Premier League 2016-17 season review: our writers’ best and worst

Related: Premier League 2016-17 review: what we learned tactically from the season | Michael Cox

Continue reading…

Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/football/blog/2017/may/23/premier-league-2016-17-review-innovations-we-need-for-the-future

May 22

Premier League 2016-17 review: flop of the season

From two underwhelming managerial stints in the north-east to a struggling goalkeeper at a leading contender. Now post your suggestions

Welcome to theguardian.com review of the 2016-17 Premier League season. Now that the campaign has ended we would like you to help us choose your favourite goal, the best referee and the best manager, and other winners in a total of 10 categories. We have nominated some contenders but this is just to get the discussion going: we would like your suggestions so that we can compile the best into final polls that you can vote on. The polls will be published at midday on Wednesday 24 May, so please tell us what you think. Thanks

Related: Premier League 2016-17 season review: our writers’ best and worst

Related: Premier League 2016-17 review: player of the season

Continue reading…

Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/football/blog/2017/may/22/premier-league-2016-17-review-flop-of-the-season

May 18

Leicester City 1-6 Tottenham Hotspur: Premier League – as it happened

Harry Kane moved closer to winning the Golden Boot after scoring four at the King Power Stadium

9.51pm BST

Related: Tottenham’s Harry Kane strikes four in 6-1 thrashing of Leicester

9.39pm BST

This, I believe, is Tottenham’s biggest ever away win in the Premier League. Not bad. They were exceptional tonight and no one was better than Harry Kane, who scored four. Four! Up to 26 league goals for the season now, he’s got his eyes on the Golden Boot before Sunday’s trip to Hull. Son Heung-Min was also excellent, scoring twice and making Kane’s first, and Tottenham have shown why people are so excited about them. They’ve utterly destroyed Leicester here. Thanks for reading and emailing. Bye.

9.35pm BST

Harry Kane!

9.35pm BST

Harry Kane scores his fourth! He is absurd. Leicester have given up, mind you. Kane’s allowed far too much time to pick his spot from the edge of the area and he does so exquisitely, finding the bottom right corner with his right foot. Poor Schmeichel. Leicester have been a disgrace since Tottenham’s third.

9.33pm BST

90 min+1: There will be three added minutes.

9.31pm BST

90 min: Tottenham make their final change, Nkoudou replacing Sissoko. Schmeichel saves Alli’s low effort.

9.31pm BST

Harry Kane completes his hat-trick! Released by Lesniak, he runs at Simpson before walloping past the unsighted Schmeichel from the edge of the area! He’s the Premier League’s leading scorer now!

9.28pm BST

87 min: This is now target practice for Spurs. Alli shoots over this time.

9.28pm BST

86 min: Janssen converts Alli’s cross from close range, but the goal’s ruled out for offside.

9.27pm BST

85 min: Janssen’s rising drive flies inches over the angle of post and bar from 25 yards. Tottenham make another change, Filip Lesniak replacing Moussa Dembele.

9.26pm BST

84 min: Still after that hat-trick, Kane sends a shot a couple of yards wide after good work from Janssen.

9.22pm BST

81 min: Dier’s effort whistles just over.

9.22pm BST

80 min: Simpson’s booked for a lunge on Alli 25 yards from goal. Dier’s standing over this one.

9.20pm BST

79 min: Ahmed Musa replaces Jamie Vardy.

9.19pm BST

78 min: Kane balloons a free-kick miles over. Tottenham make a change. Vincent Janssen replaces two-goal Son Heung-Min.

9.17pm BST

75 min: Gray’s booked for catching Davies with a high boot.

9.15pm BST

74 min: Gray slips a pass through to Slimani, who shoots straight at Lloris.

9.15pm BST

73 min: “You’ve got your Leicester back,” sing the Tottenham fans. They won the league.

9.14pm BST

72 min: “In defence of my earlier outburst I can only say that though you may understand to some degree what is going on over here you don’t live in it every day,” says JR in Illinois. “I’ve been having quite a difficult time since, oh, sometime in early November. “A football game is a nice two hours to get away from it all. In about 20 minutes I’ll inevitably find out what new and twisted form of insanity has been perpetrated on us while I was watching the game.”

9.13pm BST

Moussa Sissoko breaks clear down the right with a powerful surge and knocks it inside to Kane. Leicester are all over the show here. Kane moves it on to Son, who decides to go it alone. He moves on to his right foot and places a low shot into the bottom left corner from 20 yards. That’s his second and Tottenham’s fourth!

9.09pm BST

68 min: Going for his hat-trick, Kane tries to score from inside his own half. Summary: he slips as he shoots.

9.08pm BST

66 min: Albrighton’s booked for a cynical foul on Alli, who was threatening to break clear. Leicester make their second change, Demarai Gray replacing Yohan Benalouane. With Leicester playing three at the back since half-time, Amartey drops back into defence.

9.07pm BST

65 min: Sissoko gives the ball away cheaply. He responds by tripping Chilwell and picks up a booking. “Maybe JR thinks that Chelsea’s title win can be written off like his brother Bobby’s death and we’ll soon wake up to find Pochettino in the shower?” says Steven Hughes.

9.05pm BST

What a response from Tottenham! Sissoko finds the overlapping Alderweireld on the right. He stands the ball up to Wanyama at the far post and the Kenyan’s header back across goal finds Kane, who nods into the empty net to restore the two-goal lead! That’s Kane’s second of the evening and 24th of the season. He’s level with Lukaku now.

9.03pm BST

With Tottenham playing a high line, Vardy’s sent clear on goal by Ndidi, the flag staying down despite a heavy hint of offside. Obviously Lloris comes steaming out of his area to meet him. The Tottenham keeper wins the challenge, but the ball runs to Ndidi. Lloris is stranded! The goal’s gaping. Ndidi can’t shoot and he’s closed down, but he manages to shovel the ball to Chilwell. He evades a challenge on the edge of area, then threads a low shot past two defenders and Lloris, who can’t get back in time! Leicester are back in this!

8.58pm BST

57 min: Alli’s cross drifts out for a goal-kick.

@JacobSteinberg That Golden boot thing for kane has the boys up for this.

8.57pm BST

56 min: Son tries another acrobatic volley. This one comes off his shin in the Steinbergian style and loops wide.

8.56pm BST

54 min: Craig Shakespeare obviously got into Leicester’s players at half-time. They’re pressing feverishly now, the crowd’s come alive and Tottenham are slightly rattled.

8.55pm BST

53 min: A poor touch on the edge of the Tottenham area from Alli inadvertently sets up Albrighton. He cuts inside, ignores the unmarked Slimani and shoots. His shot’s blocked. If only he’d looked up. Mahrez also tries his luck from 18 yards, but it’s straight at Lloris.

8.53pm BST

51 min: Amartey belts one over from 25 yards. “Is ‘JR in Illinois’ the new, post-fact Gary Naylor?” says Bruce Jackson.

8.53pm BST

50 min: “A penny for your thoughts on dead rubbers,” says Jeremy Dresner. “Killing integrity in the prem or an unavoidable inevitable slacking off of hardworking players with nothing left to play for which produces whimsical entertaining proverbial ‘beach football’? I mean if they do produce greater entertainment without the win at all costs thing isn’t that…. good?”

As long as teams aren’t intentionally losing or throwing games, there’s surely not a lot that can be done. It’s impossible to be switched on in your job all year, isn’t it? It’s inevitable that teams with less to play for will have lower motivation at the end of a long season. There’s a simple way to avoid having to rely on others: win your own games.

8.50pm BST

49 min: Albrighton, sporting that black eye he picked up at City, wins a corner on the right. It’s taken short, but Mahrez’s eventual cross is complete nonsense.

8.50pm BST

48 min: Alli gets the better of Chilwell on the left, playing continuing despite Leicester’s cries for a foul, but the sliding Kane can’t turn his low cross in.

8.49pm BST

47 min: A free-kick to Leicester on the right, Davies giving it away. Mahrez’s centre’s headed over by Benalouane.

8.47pm BST

46 min: Leicester get the second half underway. They’ve made a half-time change, Islam Slimani on for Shinji Okazaki.

8.34pm BST

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8.32pm BST

The title is Chelsea’s, but that doesn’t mean Tottenham aren’t a cracking team. They lead thanks to goals from Harry Kane and Son Heung-Min here and you suspect that this could get worse for Leicester.

8.30pm BST

45 min: Alli tries another assist dink. Schmeichel claims this one. Not this time, young man.

8.28pm BST

43 min: Alderweireld wins a corner on the right. “Tottenham are the best team in the league,” says JR in Illinois. “I don’t care what the table says, I don’t care what you say, I don’t care what anyone says. Since we’re in a post-fact world anyhow I feel free to consider them this year’s champions and consider Chelsea’s “title” fake news.”

I respectfully disagree.

8.25pm BST

40 min: What a joy Tottenham are to watch!

8.24pm BST

39 min: Davies whips a cross into the middle from the right. Dier’s low glancing header’s saved by Schmeichel.

8.23pm BST

38 min: This could get ugly. Dembele storms through the middle, Leicester’s midfield completely overpowered. He moves it to the right for Sissoko, who tees up Kane. He’s got an age to pick his spot, but his shot’s blocked.

8.22pm BST

37 min: Son’s made one and scored the second. Suffice to say, he’s more than made up for that earlier glaring miss.

8.22pm BST

This is utterly brilliant. Tottenham toy with Leicester on the edge of the area, stroking the ball around with such confidence. Eventually it’s measured to Alli, who imaginatively scoops a pass over the top in the Scholes versus Milan style. Son still has a lot to do, but he lets the ball drop before swivelling to volley low to Schmeichel’s right. What a finish!

8.19pm BST

35 min: This isn’t an original observation, but I never thought Kane was going to be this good. There isn’t a better striker in the league at the moment.

8.19pm BST

34 min: Kane outstrengths Benaloune on the left there, shrugging the Leicester centre-back aside with ease even though he’s trying to foul him. Kane skips away, charging into space, and tries to set up Alli in the middle. His low ball’s overhit, though.

8.17pm BST

31 min: For a fairly meaningless fixture, this has been enjoyable stuff so far. It’s almost as though these Tottenham players feel liberated and able to express themselves under this manager. More, please!

8.13pm BST

28 min: Leicester are rocking. Tottenham are oozing class. Davies hangs a cross to the near post and Schmeichel has to push Alli’s downward header away. That’s a good save. Moments later, Schmeichel has to save another effort from the edge of the area. Then it’s Leicester’s turn to attack. Dier misjudges a long ball haplessly and Vardy runs on to it, only to tumble after a slight shove by Alderweireld. The Leicester fans scream for a penalty, but Michael Oliver ignores their appeals.

8.11pm BST

No, Tottenham are no mood to take it easy tonight! Deep on the right, Toby Alderweireld looks up and rakes a searching pass down the line, seeking the run of Son, who’s lurking on the edge of offside. Leicester are caught square. Son sprints on to the pass, reaches the byline and keeps his composure this time. He pulls it back to Kane and though the ball’s ever so slightly behind the Tottenham striker, he manages to stroke it past Schmeichel with his right foot. This goal’s been coming.

8.06pm BST

21 min: Benaloune tackles the threatening Alli. Then he tries to take on Kane. No, don’t do that. Kane outmuscles the Leicester centre-back, shrugs him off and makes towards goal. Having turned, he opens up his body and tries to bend one into the far corner from the left with his right foot, as he’s done on so many occasions in the past, but this one flies wide.

8.05pm BST

19 min: Mahrez sprays a pass down the right for Albrighton to chase. His inviting cross is too far in front of Vardy, though, and he’s the only Leicester player anywhere near it, which is weird because I’m pretty sure Shinji Okazaki owns property in both penalty areas at this stadium.

8.02pm BST

17 min: Kane hammers the free-kick straight into the wall, the ball spinning off to Sissoko on the right. He decides to have a dig, but wallops it just over.

8.01pm BST

16 min: Wanyama wins possession in midfield and drives forward. He’s being tugged back by Amartey and Michael Oliver awards a free-kick to Tottenham around 30 yards from goal. Harry Kane fancies this.

8.00pm BST

15 min: What a miss by Son! Benaloune tries to hoof a ball clear, but it’s whipped away from him by Alli, whose boot might be high. Michael Oliver doesn’t think so, however, and play continues as the ball runs through to the unmarked Son. He’s only got Schmeichel to beat, but he lifts his shot woefully over the bar!

7.58pm BST

13 min: A clearance falls to Amartey on the edge of the Tottenham area. He controls before seeing his shot flick off Dier and towards the bottom left corner, but Lloris saves comfortably.

7.56pm BST

12 min: Sissoko tries a backheel. The ball runs through his legs. He chases after it and ends up fouling Chilwell.

7.55pm BST

10 min: Tottenham head straight up the other end, with Alli trying to set up Son. He’s tackled before he can shoot in the Leicester area. This is entertaining game of football!

7.54pm BST

9 min: Mahrez glides inside from the right, the ball glued to his left foot, before he catches the Tottenham defence unawares with a cleverly disguised reverse pass to Vardy. Through on goal, he confidently shoots early, but his firm effort’s too close to Lloris, who gathers at the second attempt.

7.53pm BST

8 min: Davies plays a pass inside to Son, who gambols away from Ndidi before whipping a shot over from 25 yards.

7.51pm BST

5 min: Harry Kane drops off the Leicester back four, turns and plays Son through on goal. Fortunately for the home side, Chilwell’s alert enough to provide cover from left-back, tackling Son before he can shoot from 18 yards. Tottenham have to settle for a corner on the left.

7.49pm BST

4 min: Amartey pings a lovely first-time pass down the right, releasing Mahrez. But this isn’t the Mahrez of 15/16. The winger’s one-on-one with Vertonghen, but he loses control of the ball with a sloppy heavy touch.

7.48pm BST

3 min: “£38m for Xhaka, though!” says Joseph Day.

A £5m loan fee for Simone Zaza, though!

7.47pm BST

2 min: It seems that Moussa Sissoko is playing at right wing-back tonight. He’ll be tested defensively, then. Straight away, Leicester look to attack down the left. But Vardy is offside.

7.45pm BST

And we’re off! Tottenham, all in yellow, get the game underway. They’re kicking from right to left in the first half.

7.43pm BST

The teams are out. Football soon!

7.39pm BST

£30m for Moussa Sissoko, though! Tottenham can’t afford to make that kind of mistake this summer.

7.39pm BST

Leicester have made one change from the defeat at Manchester City. Daniel Amartey replaces Andy King in midfield.

Tottenham are without both of their right-backs, Kyle Walker and Kieran Trippier. Eric Dier slots in on the right of the defence, then, and Moussa Dembele takes his place in midfield. Christian Eriksen’s also given a rest. In comes the lesser spotted Moussa Sissoko.

6.58pm BST

Leicester: Schmeichel; Simpson, Benalouane, Fuchs, Chilwell; Mahrez, Ndidi, Amartey, Albrighton; Okazaki, Vardy. Subs: Musa, Kapustka, Slimani, Zieler, Gray, Wasilewski, Moore.

Tottenham: Lloris; Dier, Alderweireld, Vertonghen, Davies; Wanyama, Dembele; Sissoko, Alli, Son; Kane. Subs: Vorm, Wimmer, Lesniak, Shashoua, Eriksen, Nkoudou, Janssen.

9.26am BST

Hello. Leicester City might not be the champions of England any more, but the presence of Tottenham at the King Power Stadium does give their supporters a chance to take a walk down memory

White Hart
lane. Tottenham, of course, were Leicester’s fiercest challengers during last season’s title race and even Mauricio Pochettino’s youthful tyros couldn’t keep up with those fleet-footed Foxes. They’ll always be linked by a common bond, these two, although you suspect one team appreciates it significantly more than the other.

That said, while Leicester will savour last year’s magnificence for the rest of eternity, memories to keep them warm in dark times, Tottenham are the team of the moment (other than, er, Chelsea, the team that won the title six days ago). Their win over Manchester United in the final game at the old White Hart Lane means that they are guaranteed to finish second for the first time in a Premier League, a fine achievement for a club operating on a lower budget than many of their immediate rivals. Have Tottenham fallen short? Yes, but in a way that should only make their supporters excited about whatever’s going to come next. As long as Pochettino stays and the board doesn’t get blinded by pound signs, this team will continue to grow.

Continue reading…

Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/football/live/2017/may/18/leicester-city-v-tottenham-hotspur-premier-league-live

May 17

Sheffield Wednesday v Huddersfield: Championship play-off semi-final – as it happened

Huddersfield Town will face Reading at Wembley after beating Sheffield Wednesday 4-3 on penalties

10.31pm BST

David Wagner has his head in hands. He can’t believe it. The Huddersfield players and fans are jubilant. They’re off to Wembley! As for Sheffield Wednesday, it’s more play-off heartbreak for them. They were so close to winning it in normal time after Steven Fletcher’s excellent header, but they couldn’t hold on and Nakhi Wells came up with the equaliser for Huddersfield. Wednesday’s players are applauded off by their supporters, but they’ve come up short again and the wait for the return to the Premier League goes on. Huddersfield will face Reading in the final on 29 May. That’s all from me for now, though. Thanks for reading and emailing. Bye!

Related: Danny Ward shootout heroics push Huddersfield past Sheffield Wednesday

10.28pm BST

Forestieri still has to score to force sudden death, though. Up he steps. Hillsborough falls silent again. Forestieri hits it firmly – but it’s a poor penalty and Ward guesses correctly, diving to his right to push the ball to safety! Huddersfield have won it! Incredible! They’re going to Wembley!

10.26pm BST

PENALTIES: Sheffield Wednesday 3-4 Huddersfield Town: Payne has the chance to send Huddersfield to Wembley. The tension’s unbearable. And Payne cracks. His left-footer’s at a good height and Westwood dives to his left to save!

10.25pm BST

PENALTIES: Sheffield Wednesday 3-4 Huddersfield Town: Jack Hunt keeps Wednesday in this, coolly sending Ward the wrong way. But Jack Payne has a chance to win it for Huddersfield now…

10.24pm BST

PENALTIES: Sheffield Wednesday 2-4 Huddersfield Town: Westwood gets his hands to the ball, diving to his right, but he can’t keep Mooy’s firm shot out!

10.24pm BST

PENALTIES: Sheffield Wednesday 2-3 Huddersfield Town: Lee scuffs his shot, but it slithers past Ward and into the bottom right corner.

10.23pm BST

PENALTIES: Sheffield Wednesday 1-3 Huddersfield Town: Wells whips his penalty high to Westwood’s right. Excellent penalty.

10.22pm BST

PENALTIES: Sheffield Wednesday 1-2 Huddersfield Town: Bannan hammers the ball low to Ward’s left.

10.22pm BST

PENALTIES: Sheffield Wednesday 0-2 Huddersfield Town: Hefele, the German centre-back, calmly sends Westwood the wrong way.

10.21pm BST

PENALTIES: Sheffield Wednesday 0-1 Huddersfield Town: Ward saves! Hutchinson’s right-footed sidefooter is at a nice height for a Huddersfield goalkeeper, who dives to his left to push it away!

10.20pm BST

PENALTIES: Sheffield Wednesday 0-1 Huddersfield Town: Lowe slams his left-footed penalty low to Westwood’s left.

10.20pm BST

Huddersfield will take first…

10.15pm BST

Sheffield Wednesday have scored five from seven penalties this season. Huddersfield have scored three from five.

10.15pm BST

Penalties!

10.12pm BST

ET 28 min: Wells can’t get his free-kick past the wall.

10.11pm BST

ET 27 min: Hillsborough falls deathly quiet as Huddersfield win a free-kick 25 yards from goal.

10.07pm BST

ET 24 min: Hutchinson pings a driven cross into the middle from the right, but Rhodes heads past the near post.

10.07pm BST

ET 22 min: Huddersfield are pushing hard now. Wells goes down looking for a penalty. Nothing doing. Moments later, the visitors win a corner. It’s headed away.

10.06pm BST

ET 21 min: Holmes-Dennis seems to have run out of space down the left, but he manages to eke out a cross to the far post. Quaner hits his volley into the ground and back across goal, but it’s headed away.

10.03pm BST

ET 19 min: The 6ft 6in Nuhiu heads the corner away, but Huddersfield keep pressing. A deflected shot squirts to Wells on the right of the area and he has a sight of goal, only for his low effort to hit the side netting. He wants a corner, claiming a deflection off Lees, but he’s not getting one.

10.02pm BST

ET 18 min: Mooy wins a corner for Huddersfield on the left. Wednesday make a change before it can be taken, Atdhe Nuhiu replacing Pudil.

10.00pm BST

ET 16 min: Huddersfield get us underway again. Will it have to be penalties to separate these two sides? There’s very little between them.

9.58pm BST

We are 15 minutes from penalties.

9.57pm BST

ET 15 min+1: What a block from Hefele! Bannan’s cross lands at the feet of Forestieri. This is the chance he’s been waiting for. But Hefele heroically throws himself in the way of the Wednesday striker’s goalbound shot!

9.56pm BST

ET 15 min: Tareiq Holmes-Dennis replaces Rajiv Van la Parra.

9.54pm BST

ET 13 min: Huddersfield deal with the corner a little unconvincingly, but Hutchinson stops them from breaking with an expert challenge. Back from Wednesday. The ball’s fed into Rhodes, who turns and shoots, forcing Ward to parry smartly.

9.53pm BST

ET 12 min: A flick-on reaches Rhodes with his back to goal. He turns and volleys. A deflection sees the ball loop on to the top of the net.

9.50pm BST

ET 9 min: Mooy’s free-kick’s headed away.

9.49pm BST

ET 8 min: Pudil, who’s struggled to contain Quaner, brings him down deep on the right.

9.47pm BST

ET 7 min: Jack Payne replaces Izzy Brown.

9.46pm BST

ET 5 min: Van La Parra bursts down the left and finds Wells, who tees up Brown. His fierce drive from 25 yards is held at the second attempt by Westwood.

9.45pm BST

ET 4 min: Smith sends a shot well off target from long range. No one wants to make a mistake out there. It’s tight again.

9.42pm BST

ET 1 min: Sheffield Wednesday begin the first period of extra-time. They were so close to Wembley. They’ve made a positive start here, however, Mooy conceding a free-kick in a promising position on the left.

9.37pm BST

We will have extra-time.

9.34pm BST

90 min+1: There will be four added minutes.

9.33pm BST

90 min: What a chance for Wells to win it! Mooy slips a pass through to the Huddersfield striker, but Westwood steams out to close him down and make sure he can’t take the ball round him. The ball does squirm past Westwood and into the six-yard box, but it’s hacked clear.

9.31pm BST

89 min: Smith’s dangerous cross is headed away. Huddersfield are finishing strongly.

9.29pm BST

87 min: Barry Bannan’s booked for delaying a Huddersfield throw.

9.28pm BST

85 min: Quaner, so dangerous since coming on, speeds down the right, nutmegging Loovens and cutting the ball back to Wells. His shot might be heading wide, but Westwood pushes it behind for a corner.

9.25pm BST

83 min: Hogg’s back on.

9.24pm BST

82 min: Play continues with Hogg still off receiving treatment to a cut on his head. Huddersfield are down to 10 for the time being.

9.22pm BST

80 min: Hogg is down with a head injury. He’ll need some treatment.

9.18pm BST

75 min: Wednesday are stunned. That’s the first goal they’ve conceded to Huddersfield this season. Better late than never.

9.15pm BST

Something happens! Brown slices Wednesday open up with a gorgeous pass through to Quaner on the right, Pudil caught ball watching. The substitute, barely on for a minute, advances on goal, draws Westwood and unselfishly squares to Wells, who, despite being under pressure, manages to squeeze the ball over the line, almost in slow motion. Huddersfield are level out of nothing!

9.15pm BST

72 min: Colin Quaner replaces the ineffective Kachunga on the right. Nothing is happening, which suits Wednesday just fine.

9.11pm BST

68 min: Wednesday look the likelier to score a second goal. This is very disappointing from Huddersfield.

9.08pm BST

66 min: Wagner is going to have to change this at some point. Wednesday are comfortable at the back. Huddersfield are drifting towards defeat.

9.05pm BST

63 min: Hefele’s booked for a bodycheck on Rhodes on the halfway line.

9.04pm BST

62 min: Huddersfield have bossed this since going behind. But they still don’t look like scoring. “This isn’t necessarily related to the game itself, but as a lover of all things mascot-related, can I just note how much I enjoy 1) that Sheffield Wednesday have not one but two giant owl mascots and 2) that Steven Fletcher embraced one of them after he scored” says Matt Burtz. “Outstanding stuff.”

9.03pm BST

61 min: Sheffield Wednesday make their second change, Jordan Rhodes on for Steven Fletcher, the goalscorer.

9.01pm BST

59 min: After nervy defending from Wednesday, Huddersfield work the ball out to Kachunga on the right. He blazes well wide.

9.00pm BST

58 min: Less than ideal for Huddersfield is the knowledge that they still haven’t scored against Sheffield Wednesday this season. If that doesn’t change soon, it’s heartbreak for them!

8.59pm BST

57 min: Van La Parra cuts inside from the left and sees his shot deflected off for a corner by Lee.

8.57pm BST

54 min: Huddersfield look for a swift response, Wells racing on to a long punt and getting there before the dawdling Lees. He shifts the ball to the left, but he snatches his shot and sends it miles wide.

8.55pm BST

53 min: Huddersfield will have to push now. Wednesday will fancy their chances on the break.

8.55pm BST

Hillsborough erupts! Barry Bannan pops up on the left, gets his head up and no Huddersfield player closes him down, giving him the time he needs to swing a cross towards the far post. Fletcher leaps and sends his header back across goal, the ball arcing beautifully past the despairing Ward in the Huddersfield goal! That is a lovely goal and at long last there something to separate these two teams.

8.50pm BST

48 min: This remains scrappy.

8.48pm BST

46 min: Sheffield Wednesday get the second half underway.

8.44pm BST

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8.32pm BST

It’s nervy.

8.31pm BST

45 min: There will be one added minute, which is frankly too much.

8.30pm BST

44 min: The Wednesday fans roar after Hogg mistimes a challenge on the impish Forestieri. Hogg, who’s managed to hurt himself in the process, is booked.

8.28pm BST

41 min: Huddersfield have had 60% possession. They’ve had the better chances, too, but this entire tie is still goalless.

8.26pm BST

38 min: Smith charges down the right and manages to hoist a high ball towards the far post from the byline. Van La Parra does brilliantly to keep it in play, flicking it into the six-yard box, and Wells scampers on to the ball before any Wednesday player. Westwood, in a moment of desperation, appears to clean the Huddersfield forward out with a risky late challenge, sending Wells sprawling to the turf and looking appealingly at Andre Marriner, who isn’t interested in awarding a penalty. On the touchline, David Wagner is furious. Wednesday have got away with one there!

8.23pm BST

36 min: Wednesday are beginning to raise the intensity of their pressing and their fans are responding. For the first time, Huddersfield look shaky. This game could do with a bit more aggression. It’s been largely tepid stuff so far. Far too cautious.

8.20pm BST

35 min: “What the hell is that Wednesday kit?” says Dave Adams. “Looks like Ipswich had some spares and they’ve slapped an Owls badge on it. Are the Wednesday fans OK with this?”

8.19pm BST

33 min: A free-kick to Wednesday on the right. Bannan sends it to the left of the area and Lees is given too much time to head into the middle, where Hutchinson’s unmarked. He controls his chest before awkwardly wonking a dismal volley over the bar. That was a great chance.

8.17pm BST

29 min: Another dangerous Huddersfield break, Brown skipping through the middle. But he’s tackled, Wednesday defenders combining to smother him. Now it’s Wednesday’s turn to counter – and a wonderful pass over the top from Bannan has Steven Fletcher racing through on goal! Well, it’s more of a chug. He’s not confident enough on his weaker right foot and ends up allowing Schindler to close him down before failing to find Forestieri, who had arrived late in the area. The Wednesday fans howl.

8.12pm BST

26 min: Huddersfield steam forward down the left, Wells cleverly drifting wide and cutting the ball back from the byline. Brown’s run catches Loovens on his heels, but the youngster turns his shot wastefully past the near post from close range. The Huddersfield fans momentarily think the ball’s gone in; in reality, it’s a goal-kick.

8.10pm BST

24 min: Sam Hutchinson clatters into Izzy Brown and, much to the annoyance of the Wednesday fans, he picks up a slightly harsh booking. Carlos Caravahal’s shaking his head.

8.07pm BST

21 min: Wells finds space in front of the Wednesday defence and tries to drive towards goal, but the ball’s whipped off his toes and Westwood manages to prevent a corner.

8.06pm BST

19 min: Fletcher jumps to meet a cross from the right and head it back to Reach, who controls with his chest and his thigh before turning to volley with his left foot out of nowhere, catching Ward by surprise. The Huddersfield goalkeeper spills the shot, but Fletcher’s offside as he runs on to the rebound.

8.03pm BST

18 min: The Wednesday fans jeer as Smith’s cross sails out for a throw.

8.01pm BST

15 min: “We’ve got Bannan, Barry Bannan…”

Let me stop you there.

8.00pm BST

14 min: Huddersfield are doing a good job of quietening the crowd with their dominance of possession. Wednsday don’t look entirely sure of themselves yet. There is more pressure on them, after all.

7.58pm BST

12 min: Westwood punches Lowe’s corner away.

7.57pm BST

11 min: After a long spell of Huddersfield possession, Van La Parra wins a corner on the left. Schindler’s header at the near post flicks off a Wednesday head. Another Huddersfield corner.

7.54pm BST

8 min: Bannan drifts inside from the right and lofts a pass over to the left, looking for Reach. He challenges for it in the air and the ball drops to Fletcher, whose shot takes a deflection and spins off for a corner. Forestieri swings it to the far post, but Lees can’t rise high enough.

7.53pm BST

7 min: A tight start. Huddersfield are the team who look more composed on the ball, not that their possession is taking them anywhere at the moment.

7.51pm BST

5 min: The ball goes out of play and Wallace goes down. His evening’s over. He’s distraught and not even the sympathetic applause from the home fans is going to be improve his mood. The Wednesday winger has his head in his hands as he walks off to be replaced by Adam Reach.

7.49pm BST

4 min: Wallace’s race might be run already. He gets on the ball here, but loses it quickly, and Carlos Carvalhal has sent Adam Reach down the touchline to warm up.

7.48pm BST

2 min: Ross Wallace is feeling his hamstring already. That’s a worry sight for Wednesday.

7.46pm BST

One more burst of “High ho, Sheffield Wednesday!” and we’re off! Huddersfield, in luminous yellow and black, get the game underway. They’re kicking from right to left in the first half.

7.43pm BST

Here come the teams, both of them decked out in blue and white tracksuit tops. They walk out into a wall of noise at Hillsborough. The atmosphere is electric. This might be nervy given what’s at stake, but it’s bound to be good.

7.42pm BST

Pre-match reading.

Related: Golden Goal: Ritchie Humphreys for Sheffield Wednesday v Leicester (1996)

6.55pm BST

Sheffield Wednesday: Westwood; Hunt, Lees, Loovens, Pudil; Wallace, Lee, Hutchinson, Bannan; Forestieri, Fletcher. Subs: Wildsmith, Sasso, Jones, Reach, Winnall, Rhodes, Nuhiu.

Huddersfield Town: Ward; Smith, Hefele, Schindler, Lowe; Mooy, Hogg, Brown, Van La Parra, Kachunga; Wells. Subs: Coleman, Whitehead, Hudson, Crainie, Payne, Quaner, Holmes-Dennis.

11.51am BST

It’s been 17 years since Sheffield Wednesday’s relegation from the top flight. They were a fixture in the early Premier League era, reaching both cup finals in 1993, giving us the likes of Benito Carbone, Paolo Di Canio, Wim Jonk and Regi Blinker, but their final season was an unmitigated disaster. Carbone went on strike, Newcastle beat them 8-0 and they looked like they were going down from day one. Rubbing salt into the wound, Bradford stayed up on the final day and Leeds qualified for the Champions League. Crumbs.

Things didn’t get much better after relegation to the second tier. A period of financial instability ensued, culminating with relegation to League One in 2003, and they didn’t return to the Championship until 2005. Five years later, they went down again. Still, they managed to bounce back straight away and they’ve improved in every season since then, culminating in this season’s fourth-placed finish under Carlos Carvalhal.

Continue reading…

Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/football/live/2017/may/17/sheffield-wednesday-v-huddersfield-championship-play-off-semi-final-live

May 15

Chelsea 4-3 Watford: Premier League – as it happened

Cesc Fabregas came off the bench to score a late winner for the champions after a spirited fightback from Watford

10.06pm BST

Read Dominic Fifield’s match report from Stamford Bridge here:

Related: John Terry makes his mark in last-gasp Chelsea win over battling Watford

9.55pm BST

A surprisingly entertaining match comes to an end. Chelsea have won again. They made work of it, but there’s no stopping them. One more league game left and then it’s the FA Cup final, when you can be sure they’ll be properly on their game. Thanks for reading and emailing. Bye.

9.53pm BST

90 min+3: This is boiling over now. Watford are furious with Pedro, who was caught by Holebas a few moments ago and involved in an argument with several visiting players now. John Terry calms things down before booking Okaka.

9.51pm BST

90 min+2: The Watford centre-back catches Pedro late and receives a second booking. He can have no complaints, though Rachel Davison will probably spy a conspiracy.

9.50pm BST

90 min+1: There will be five added minutes. Troy Deeney’s on for Watford.

9.49pm BST

90 min: Pedro tries to chip Gomes, spotting the Watford goalkeeper off his line, but the Spaniard overcooks his effort.

9.48pm BST

N’Golo Kante uses his strength to win possession of Capoue in the middle of Watford’s half. He moves it to Willian, who weighs up a shot before deciding to twist and turn a bit more. Eventually he tees up Fabregas, whose bouncing shot from 18 yards somehow squirms past Gomes and bobbles inside the right post!

9.46pm BST

87 min: Over on the right, Willian plays a slide-rule pass through to Fabregas. He can’t slip it past Gomes from a tight angle. The ball loops up off the Watford goalkeeper and it’s hacked clear.

9.44pm BST

85 min: “Not so ‘tedious’ tonight, are they Jacob?” says Rachel Davison. “What’s your beef with Watford anyhow?”

I’m simply following the Guardian’s virulent anti-Watford bias, Rachel.

9.43pm BST

84 min: Pedro replaces Batshuayi before the free-kick. Fabregas overhits his cross, but Gomes is forced to tip over, having misplaced his bearings. From the corner, Terry heads over.

9.41pm BST

83 min: Prodl cleans Batshuayi out. Batshuayi’s furious. He barges the Watford centre-back in the chest. Prodl’s booked.

9.39pm BST

81 min: Janmaat’s drive fizzes just over. Zouma appears to have picked up an injury.

9.38pm BST

80 min: Behrami shoots wide from 25 yards. Chelsea are in crisis. Where did it all go wrong? Conte out.

9.37pm BST

79 min: Cesc Fabregas replaces Nathaniel Chalobah.

9.36pm BST

78 min: Zouma heads behind for a Watford corner. It’s cleared.

9.35pm BST

77 min: Will Conte ask Diego Costa to put down his plate of cheese?

9.34pm BST

75 min: Ola Aina replaces Kenedy.

9.33pm BST

Okaka equalises for Watford with pretty much his first touch! Chelsea fail to deal with Cleverley’s cross from the right and the ball drops to Okaka, who hammers it low past Begovic! Watford were 3-1 down. What a response from the visitors!

9.30pm BST

71 min: Azpilicueta belts a volley over from 25 yards. He’s on one tonight. Stefano Okaka replaces Niang.

9.29pm BST

70 min: Holebas tries to dribble out of trouble at the back, forgetting that he’s Holebas. Willian picks his pocket and the ball runs to Azpilicueta. Fancying a second, he shoots low and hard towards the bottom corner, but Gomes tips wide.

9.28pm BST

69 min: “John Terry could have hidden many things up his sleeve,” says Martin McKeefry. “He once hid a full kit including shin pads under a suit.”

Are you saying he’s wearing a full kit under his full kit right now? Meta.

9.26pm BST

68 min: Batshuayi, hungry for more goals, ignores Willian to his right and shoots from 20 yards. Prodl blocks.

9.24pm BST

65 min: After a spell of Chelsea keep-ball, enjoyed heartily by the crowd, the hosts try to score a goal. The ball’s worked into Batshuayi, back to goal, six yards out. He spins and shoots, but Gomes saves.

9.22pm BST

63 min: Diego Costa, though.

Not the Moose at the buffet this time. Diego Costa walked into the press room for some half time cheese. #cfc https://t.co/huBtD7MTWY

9.21pm BST

62 min: “You’re only here for the Chelsea,” chant the Chelsea fans, hopefully not to each other.

9.16pm BST

58 min: Chalobah’s booked for a late challenge on Cleverley.

9.15pm BST

56 min: John Terry’s going through all the classics here. An on-the-ground header, just for old time’s sake? Why not? I wonder if he’s got any of the other old favourites hidden up his sleeve.

9.12pm BST

54 min: Azpilicueta has an eye problem. Lee Mason wants him to go off for treatment. Azpilicueta’s not happy. He reckons he’s been caught by a deliberate Janmaat elbow.

9.10pm BST

Daryl Janmaat’s body is suddenly possessed by Eden Hazard. The Dutchman latches on to a loose ball on the left, surges into the area, skitters past a weak challenge from Ake and strokes a low finish past Begovic! What a goal! Watford are back in it.

9.09pm BST

Chelsea take the corner short, working it swiftly to Kenedy, 25 yards out. Then, a moment of fortune. His deflected shot loops through to Ake, who’s alert enough to read the flight of the ball and control. The flag stays down, correctly, and Ake has only Gomes to beat. Unselfishly, he sets up Batshuayi for a tap-in.

9.07pm BST

48 min: Willian hurtles down the inside left channel, Hazard splitting the Watford defence, and tries to find the far corner. Gomes turns it behind.

9.04pm BST

46 min: Chelsea get the second half underway.

8.48pm BST

We have half-time.

8.48pm BST

45 min+3: This has become scrappy. We need half-time.

8.46pm BST

45 min: Three minutes of the added stuff.

8.42pm BST

42 min: Chelsea counter at breakneck speed down the right, Hazard haring away, Watford all over the place. Hazard’s cutback isn’t great, but it reaches Kenedy, whose shot’s deflected wide.

8.41pm BST

41 min: Terry heads the corner away. It’s volleyed back in awkwardly by Amrabat and Capoue heads over.

8.40pm BST

40 min: Niang, mouth patched up, goes on a saunter down the right and ends up winning a corner.

8.39pm BST

38 min: Niang’s bleeding from the mouth after being caught by Kante. He’ll need some treatment.

8.37pm BST

This is an excellent goal. Hazard’s corner from the left is only headed away as far as Azpilcueta, lurking unmarked on the edge of the area. He takes one touch and, before anyone can close him down, lashes a vicious low shot through the bodies and into the bottom right corner!

8.36pm BST

35 min: Hazard slips a pass inside Amrabat for Kenedy, who reaches the byline and tries to cross. Gomes pushes it behind at his near post. And…

8.33pm BST

32 min: Willian pings from right to left for Hazard. He takes it down beautifully, skips inside Mariappa and wrongfoots Gomes with a shot towards the near post. A slight touch off Mariappa takes it inches wide, though, and a goal-kick’s given just to frustrate Hazard even more.

8.31pm BST

30 min: Ake’s booked for a foul on Behrami.

8.30pm BST

29 min: Hazard Fabregases a raking pass over the top of the Watford defence from deep, looking for Hazard. The forward brings the ball down but it just runs away from him, allowing Gomes to whip it off his toes. The Watford keeper does well to time it perfectly, else it would have been a penalty and potentially a red card.

8.29pm BST

27 min: Willian sees his shot from 18 yards blocked by Prodl. “This type of game should be like the NBA all-star game and have absolutely no defense and all sorts of scoring,” says Dave Hill. “Looks like JT got my memo.”

8.26pm BST

Having given Chelsea the lead, John Terry gifts Watford an instant equaliser! This came from absolutely nothing. A long punt into the area, looking for Capoue, was covered by Ake. His header looped up into the air and Terry should have dealt with it comfortably on the edge of the area. Instead he got his wires crossed with Chalobah, tried to head the ball back to Begovic, left it too short and allowed Capoue to nip in and nod it over the Chelsea goalkeeper! Oh, JT!

8.24pm BST

Captain, leader, legend, goalscorer. But of course. It comes from a Willian corner, won when Batshuayi’s spin and shot was deflected behind on the right. Willian lofted it in and Zouma and Terry both rose above the Watford defenders, who were all over the place. Zouma’s header hit Terry and dropped for the Chelsea captain to react fastest and hook the loose ball past Gomes and in off the post!

8.21pm BST

20 min: Willian slides a pass down the left for Hazard, who wins a corner for Chelsea.

8.19pm BST

19 min: This game needs Claude

Maka
Makelele to take a penalty.

8.18pm BST

18 min: I’m pretty sure Hazard just asked Lee Mason if he’s carrying a bottle opener.

8.16pm BST

16 min: Who should Chelsea sign?

8.15pm BST

14 min: “I’m sure you remember Chelsea’s first game of the season,” says JR in Illinois. “That was the game against West Ham where Costa, already on a yellow, scythed down Adrian. What should have been, at a minimum, a second yellow if not a straight red somehow was completely ignored by Anthony Taylor. Of course Costa went on to score the winner. Perhaps Chelsea don’t win the title if Costa doesn’t get away with that. (Costa got away with quite a lot in the first few games). Ah, nuts. That’s just one of many things in the last six to nine months I wish had turned out differently.”

8.12pm BST

11 min: Amrabat messily fouls Kenedy on the left. Yellow card. Willian’s free-kick is overhit. “Kenedy absolutely crushes it with Watford for 1 game, (sarcasm) and now gets to receive a tasty guard of honour from the team that ended his loan,” says Tim Penney. “What a season for the former fluminense player.” It was almost as amusing as the time Chelsea were forced to give a guard of honour to Dong Fangzhou, Chris Eagles and Kieran Richardson.

8.10pm BST

9 min: It did seem a strange decision by Conte to leave Hazard in the side, with the FA Cup final still to come; the risks of doing so are made clear when Behrami catches the Belgian on the shin. Hazard screams and goes down. To Conte’s relief, he’s suffered no lasting damage.

8.06pm BST

6 min: “No room for Loftus-Cheek?” says Michel Bechirian. “Is he injured or… ?” Both.

8.05pm BST

4 min: Holebas picks up his trademark booking for catching Batshuayi in the face. The Belgian needs a spot of treatment.

8.04pm BST

3 min: Willian storms down the right in electrifying fashion, past the wheezing Holebas, and tries to cut the ball back for Batshuayi. The ball’s stolen off his toes and Hazard sees his volley blocked.

8.02pm BST

2 min: Chelsea’s fans applaud Conte. He applauds back. I’ve got something in my eye.

8.02pm BST

And we’re off! Watford, in their white away strip, get the game underway! They’re kicking from left to right in the first half. The Chelsea fans are singing about being champions and serenading Antonio Conte.

7.58pm BST

Here come the teams. Watford’s players sprint out the tunnel first so they can form a guard of honour for Chelsea. It’s the least Nathaniel Chalobah, Kenedy and Nathan Ake deserve. Out they come: the champions. Chelsea’s fans are going to enjoy themselves tonight.

7.48pm BST

“A meaningless game really, but it does give some of Chelsea’s fringe players some gametime,” says Luke Forrester, who’s building up to something here. “A particular lesser-seen squad member will be relieved of mopping up duties in midfield, protected as he is by Kante behind him. This will give him free-rein to find gaps in the middle of the park — Kenedy space centre, if you will.”

7.29pm BST

Chelsea make nine changes to the team that won the title on Friday night. Most notably, there are starts for Nathaniel Chalobah in midfield and captain, leader, legend John Terry in defence.

Watford make three changes to their side. Amrabat, Cleverley and Niang replace Kabasele, Okaka and Deeney.

7.07pm BST

Chelsea: Begovic; Zouma, Terry, Ake; Azpilicueta, Kante, Chalobah, Kenedy; Willian, Batshuayi, Hazard. Subs: Eduardo, Aina, Alonso, Cahill, Fabregas, Pedro, Diego Costa.

Watford: Gomes; Mariappa, Prodl, Holebas; Amrabat, Cleverley, Behrami, Doucoure, Janmaat; Capoue; Niang. Subs: Pantilimon, Mason, Eleftheriou, Zuniga, Pereira, Okaka, Deeney.

11.16am BST

You have to feel sorry for the television companies. There they were, anticipating a dramatic finale to the Premier League season when they made their live picks for this week and cannily scheduled your favourites across the following four nights, and here we are. No more title race, no more relegation battle, no more interest in the league campaign from Manchester United. The best laid plans gone to waste. Poor television companies. These guys just can’t catch a break.

The big bonanza week of football begins at Stamford Bridge this evening, where Chelsea were supposed to be feeling the nerves as they sought another three points in their quest for the title. Yeah, about that. Turns out nerves aren’t really the kind of thing that hit Antonio Conte sides. The title’s already in the bag. In truth, that had basically been the case since December and confirmation of the inevitable arrived when Michy Batshuayi picked a good moment to make his first meaningful impact of the season on Friday night, scoring the goal that sparked those wild celebrations – and that infamous photo with Geoff Shreeves, Conte and Tony Pulis, all the lads basiclly – at the Hawthorns.

Continue reading…

Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/football/live/2017/may/15/chelsea-watford-premier-league-live

May 11

Arsène Wenger wins another small battle in Arsenal’s unlikely civil war | Jacob Steinberg

It was a first win for Arsenal at Southampton since the Invincibles era, but conflict looms between the manager and chief executive Ivan Gazidis

After 15 minutes of tepid football, Arsène Wenger rose from the bench for the first time and went for a wander around his technical area, presumably just for a change of pace. A few seconds later, despite not having done much in the way of experimental arm waving or bellowing in a bid to raise his team’s level, he meandered back to his seat next to Steve Bould. Like everyone else inside St Mary’s, Wenger had clearly decided that there was not much worth saying yet.

The Arsenal manager’s many critics might respond to that by pointing out that they’ve heard it all before anyway, and of all the charges against Wenger, whose CV surely explains in great length how he revolutionised English football in the 1990s, perhaps the one that riles him most is that he is yesterday’s man. It depends who says it, of course. When it comes to dealing with the bedsheet artists in the stands, the seething YouTubers who rant into cameras after matches and the journalists who ask him about his future at every press conference, Wenger can smirk and speak in Professeurishly weary tones about how a culture of impatience has ruined polite society, allowing him to play the part of the wise old football sage seeking to enlighten the masses.

Related: Alexis Sánchez strike boosts Arsenal top-four hopes in Southampton win

Related: Arsène Wenger praises Arsenal’s character in battle for top-four place

Continue reading…

Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/football/blog/2017/may/11/arsene-wenger-small-battle-arsenal-civil-war

May 10

Ajax return to the Cruyff ideals as Peter Bosz leads new generation

After brushing aside Lyon in the Europa League semi-final first leg, the Dutch club can scent a chance of a first European trophy in 22 years

It is a cold Thursday morning at Ajax’s De Toekomst complex, where the canteen doubles as a trophy room, the sheer weight of football knowledge can be overwhelming, and the atmosphere is unsurprisingly buoyant after the events of the previous evening at the Amsterdam Arena. Nothing is being taken for granted but Ajax can be excused for feeling pleased with themselves after their stunning performance in the first leg of their Europa League semi-final. These occasions are supposed to be cagey, cautious affairs and they have just torn up the script by beating a dangerous Lyon side 4-1.

Out on one of the pitches, the team are doing a light recovery session. The rondos are over and the time has come for some shooting practice. Edwin van der Sar is watching from the touchline and the coach leading the forwards is Dennis Bergkamp. One of the players to catch the eye is Justin Kluivert, a young winger who keeps finding the top corner with eerie calm.

Related: Bertrand Traoré double helps give Ajax healthy advantage against Lyon

Sometimes I’m on the pitch just enjoying it like a fan on the side. Then I get goosebumps

Continue reading…

Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/football/blog/2017/may/10/ajax-johan-cruyff-peter-bosz-europa-league-lyon

May 08

Chelsea 3-0 Middlesbrough: Premier League – as it happened

Chelsea are one win away from being crowned Premier League champions thanks to goals from Diego Costa, Marcos Alonso and Nemanja Matic, while Middlesbrough were relegated to the Championship

10.15pm BST

Related: Chelsea stroll to within a game’s reach of title and send Middlesbrough down

9.52pm BST

Chelsea are one win away from being crowned Premier League champions thanks to goals from Diego Costa, Marcos Alonso and Nemanja Matic. Victory was never in doubt. Chelsea can wrap it up at West Brom on Friday. As for Middlesbrough, this defeat confirms their meek relegation to the Championship. They haven’t been good enough and all life was sucked out of them by Aitor Karanka. Perhaps they could have pulled it off by sacking him earlier. As it was, the job was too much for Steve Agnew. Thanks for reading and emailing. Night.

9.49pm BST

Middlesbrough have been relegated to the Championship.

9.47pm BST

90 min: There will be three added minutes.

9.45pm BST

89 min: Bamford fouls Alonso on the left. Yellow card.

9.43pm BST

87 min: Middlesbrough have really gone down fighting.

9.40pm BST

84 min: John Terry replaces David Luiz. Gary Cahill gives him the armband. Terry’s shaking his head. Cahill doesn’t know he’s already had an armband surgically inserted on to his left bicep.

9.39pm BST

83 min: Relegation specialist Rudy Gestede replaces Alvaro Negredo.

9.38pm BST

82 min: Feast your eyes on these bangers.

9.36pm BST

81 min: Nathaniel Chalobah replaces Pedro.

9.35pm BST

79 min: Moses wallops a shot towards the right corner. Guzan saves with his right leg, proving that it is of some use.

9.32pm BST

77 min: Costa knocks a pass through to Pedro, who fires over. He should have aimed for Guzan’s legs.

9.30pm BST

75 min: The Middlesbrough fans are still singing.

9.27pm BST

71 min: Looking at that Matic goal, it really does seem that Guzan could do with keeping his legs shut more often. Ooo-er. Willian replaces Hazard.

9.26pm BST

70 min: Costa and Guzan are both down after a collision.

9.25pm BST

69 min: MIDDLESBROUGH HAVE A SHOT ON TARGET. Leadbitter’s effort is saved by Courtois, though.

9.23pm BST

67 min: Middlesbrough’s fans look glum. This has been a wasted journey down to London.

9.22pm BST

Cesc Fabregas creates another goal. Hazard skips inside from the right, seemingly going nowhere before slipping a pass into the area to David Luiz, who moves it to the right for Fabregas. The Spaniard instantly prods a cross into the area with the outside of his right boot and Matic is more alert than any Middlesbrough defender, chesting the ball past Friend before firing – again – through Guzan’s legs. It’s Matic’s first ever goal at Stamford Bridge. On the touchline, Conte goes wild.

9.19pm BST

64 min: “I can only assume Fabio has a poster of Djimi Traore on his wall which he prays to every night before bed,” says Matt Loten.

9.17pm BST

62 min: Middlesbrough have accepted their fate.

9.16pm BST

60 min: Fabio’s booked after illegally ending a mesmeric Hazard surge.

9.14pm BST

58 min: Continuing along that theme, Fabio started a Champions League final for Manchester United six years ago. State of him now.

9.13pm BST

57 min: Patrick Bamford, a former Chelsea youngster, replaces Adama Traore. What on earth has happened to Bamford? He showed such promise a couple of years ago.

9.12pm BST

56 min: Cahill heads wide from Fabregas’s corner. Grant Leadbitter replaces Adam Forshaw.

9.12pm BST

55 min: Fabregas tees himself up for a volley from 25 yards. It’s heading wide, but the ball hits Chambers and trickles towards the right post. Guzan’s helpless, but the ball drifts just wide.

9.11pm BST

54 min: A loose ball breaks to Cahill, who absolutely larrumps one goalwards from 30 yards! It’s fiercely struck and rising viciously, but Guzan manages to push it away. What an effort from the Chelsea centre-back!

9.08pm BST

52 min: Pedro skitters inside from the left and manages to work a pass to the unmarked Alonso on the left. He’s completely free, but he scuffs his effort across goal and Costa can’t reach it at the far post.

9.07pm BST

51 min: Fabregas is having the time of his life tonight. He couldn’t have picked more obliging opponents.

9.05pm BST

48 min: Remember when Alvaro Negredo was good? What a wild ride those six months were.

9.01pm BST

46 min: Chelsea get the second half underway. Marcos Alonso has been credited with the second goal. Pedro’s almost credited with a third, but his shot from Hazard’s pass clips the top of the bar.

8.46pm BST

Middlesbrough require just the three goals to stave off relegation.

8.46pm BST

45 min: There will be one added minute.

8.43pm BST

43 min: MIDDLESBROUGH ENTER CHELSEA’S HALF.

8.41pm BST

42 min: From the resulting corner, David Luiz heads well wide.

8.41pm BST

41 min: A free-kick to Chelsea, 25 yards out. Fabregas is a contender to hit it. Alonso does hit it. His curling effort’s deflected just over.

8.39pm BST

39 min: Should Middlesbrough be this bad? This feels like a complete waste of a season. I suppose that they don’t have much quality, but it does feel as though they’ve basically accepted relegation since the turn of the year. Are they this much worse than Burnley?

8.38pm BST

37 min: This is going to get embarrassing. Fabregas picks out Moses’s run from deep and finds him with a raking pass. Moses chests the ball down and tries to slide it under Guzan, who manages not to chuck this one in. Instead he saves with his feet and Chelsea have a corner. “The wind literally seems to have gone out of Middlesbrough’s will to live,” says Ian Copestake.

8.35pm BST

This goal has been coming since the second minute. Azpilicueta lofts another one over the wretched Fabio – amazingly it’s not Fabregas who’s come up with the assist – and from a tight angle the stretching Alonso somehow squeezes a left-footed shot off Guzan and into the net. That might be an own-goal. One for the panel to examine. Whatever they decide, one thing’s certain: Middlesbrough are going down.

8.33pm BST

33 min: Hazard and Moses combine brilliantly on the right, the former’s splendid flick releasing the latter, but the final cross across the face of goal is struck with too much pace and Middlesbrough get away with another one.

8.32pm BST

32 min: You could say that is a form of revenge for Chelsea tonight.

Chelsea are relegated to Division Two courtesy of a playoff defeat to Middlesbrough in 1988… pic.twitter.com/8DhHIzJhaT

8.31pm BST

31 min: Chelsea are so comfortable. It doesn’t look it will take too long for them to find a second.

8.30pm BST

29 min: A lull. “Does this mean it’s snookers required now for Spurs?” says Edan Tal. “There is something of the Mark Selby relentlessness about Chelsea.”

8.26pm BST

27 min: Chelsea’s supporters are having great fun at the expense of Tottenham now. It’s what football’s about. The taunts momentarily die down, however, when De Roon finds a yard of space in the Chelsea area. His shot’s blocked.

8.25pm BST

25 min: Cesc Fabregas was on the bench at the start of the season. Just look at him now!

8.24pm BST

The diagonal ball from right to left catches Middlesbrough out again and this time they pay for it. Cesc Fabregas is granted too far much space to chip a pass into the area, looking for Costa, and Fabio can’t stop it from reaching the striker. Costa does well to re-adjust after a small touch from Fabio slightly changes the flight of the ball. Once he’s got the ball under control, he calmly slots it through Guzan’s legs. It’s been coming. It’s arrived. As it stands, Middlesbrough are going down.

8.20pm BST

20 min: Hazard escapes down the left again – Traore and Fabio are having a collective nightmare – and teases a low ball past Guzan and into the six-yard box. Costa throws himself at it, but George Friend exerts just enough pressure to ensure he the striker can’t reach the ball. Costa wants a penalty, of course, but it was excellent defending from Friend.

8.19pm BST

19 min: Carlo Ancelotti and Andriy Shevchenko are sitting next to each other in the stands. They’re probably talking about Jerzy Dudek.

8.17pm BST

17 min: Hazard strolls clear on the left. Middlesbrough decide not to engage with him. No point, you see. Hazard’s given all the time in the world to get his head up and roll a pass back to Fabregas, who lollops on to the ball before sidefooting disappointingly wide. He should have scored.

8.15pm BST

15 min: Once David Luiz is done examining those angles, he wallops his effort harmlessly over.

8.14pm BST

14 min: Fabio goes to ground in a bid to halt Costa, but he brings the Brazilian down. Chelsea have a free-kick around 30 yards from goal. David Luiz is examining the angles.

8.12pm BST

12 min: Azpilicueta moves forward and crosses towards Costa. He’s got no Middlesbrough defender near him, but the cross is delivered with a touch too much oomph.

8.11pm BST

11 min: One flaw in Middlesbrough’s plan, by the way, is that they don’t seem to have told anyone to mark Fabregas. That’s proving problematic at the moment.

8.10pm BST

10 min: Middlesbrough are in a spoiling mood. They’re sitting deep and trying to play on the break, as is their wont. They do defend well, it must be said. Whether that’s going to be enough tonight is up for debate.

8.07pm BST

8 min: Chelsea have started like they mean it. But now Forshaw wins a corner for Middlesbrough on the right. Downing trots across to take it, but he can’t beat the first man with his delivery.

8.07pm BST

7 min: Alonso peels behind Traore again, bringing down a high ball before walloping it across the face of goal. No one’s there to turn it in. Moses picks up possession on the right and crosses again, but Middlesbrough shovel the ball clear.

8.04pm BST

4 min: “We’re top of the league,” the Chelsea fans chant. They’ve been here since early November.

8.03pm BST

3 min: Chelsea have started like a team determined to get this done as quickly as possible. Costa hares down the left and turns inside of Chambers, who hauls him back. Fabregas flings in the free-kick, but David Luiz can’t make contact with it.

8.02pm BST

2 min: Marcus Alonso hits the bar! Fabregas finds him with a diagonal pass from left to right. Alonso’s got space in the Middlesbrough area. He shoots low and hard, but Brad Guzan, who once conceded eight with Aston Villa here, turns the ball on to the bar and away to safety! What an escape for the visitors.

8.01pm BST

And we’re off! Middlesbrough, in red shirts and white shorts, get us underway. They’re kicking from right to left in the first half. Chelsea, Chelsea is their name, are in blue. It’s not long before David Luiz is skilling his way out of trouble on the edge of the area. “Can we talk about Gary Cahill,” requests Hugh Molloy. “He’s going to win the PL for the 2nd time with Chelsea, as well as having a CL under his belt, and still only 31. Not just a stopper, his goals show he can play, clearly a leader – captain tonight. I’d have him in my team every week compared to Stones. “

7.57pm BST

Here come the teams! It’s time for the Liquidator and almost time for the football!

7.11pm BST

Proof of N’Golo Kante’s mortality arrives via a thigh injury that keeps him out for Chelsea. Cesc Fabregas and Nemanja Matic are the central midfield duo.

For Middlesbrough, Steve Agnew gives a start to Adama Traore. Can the unpredictable young winger provide the strugglers with the required spark?

7.09pm BST

Chelsea: Courtois; Azpilicueta, David Luiz, Cahill; Moses, Fabregas, Matic, Alonso; Pedro, Diego Costa, Hazard. Subs: Begovic, Terry, Zouma, Ake, Chalobah, Loftus-Cheek, Willian.

Middlesbrough: Guzan; Fabio, Chambers, Gibson, Friend; De Roon, Clayton, Forshaw; Traore, Negredo, Downing. Subs: Konstantopoulos, Barragan, Bernardo, Leadbitter, Guedioura, Gestede, Bamford.

7.59pm BST

Well that wasn’t much of a title race, was it? Chelsea were under pressure for all of two seconds – or perhaps three – but all semblance of dramatic tension vanished into the East London air when Tottenham finally ran out of steam and into a brick wall on Friday night, going down 1-0 to West Ham. A win would have taken Spurs to within a point of the leaders, leaving Chelsea to stew all weekend about potentially blowing the title, but it turns out that Manuel Lanzini had other ideas. West Ham have done their chums from the opposite end of the District Line a huge favour and if Antonio Conte’s side can take advantage at Stamford Bridge this evening, they’ll be one more win away from wrapping up what, barring a few wobbly moments here and there, has felt inevitable for quite some time.

It would be a surprise to see Chelsea falter now. Perhaps the mood would have been different if Tottenham had won at the London Stadium, but they didn’t and Chelsea have breathing space. Beat Middlesbrough, as they surely will, and the gap will be too wide. Seven points clear, Chelsea would only need to win at West Brom on Friday night to get the party started. Failing that, they can get the job done against Watford at home on Monday. Failing that, Sunderland visit Stamford Bridge on the final day of the season. Let’s face it, it’s time to get the blue and white ribbons on the trophy.

Continue reading…

Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/football/live/2017/may/08/chelsea-middlesbrough-premier-league-live

May 07

Arsenal v Manchester United: Premier League – as it happened

Arsene Wenger recorded his first ever competitive win over Jose Mourinho as Arsenal revived their hopes of a top-four finish with goals from Granit Xhaka and Danny Welbeck

6.46pm BST

Related: Arsenal’s Danny Welbeck rises high to finish off Manchester United

5.55pm BST

Goals from Granit Xhaka and Danny Welbeck are enough for Arsenal to record their first ever competitive win over a Jose Mourinho side. More importantly, they’re still in with a chance of finishing in the top four with four matches left. They’re still sixth, but they’re seven points behind Liverpool, six behind Manchester City and two behind Manchester United. It’s not over yet and Arsenal can ramp up the pressure by beating Southampton on Wednesday night. As for United, their unbeaten run in the league, stretching back to October, is over and more than ever it seems their hopes of qualifying for the Champions League rest on winning the Europa League. Their workload’s caught up with them here. In fairness to Mourinho, however, the focus is on this Thursday’s second leg against Celta Vigo. They’ll take losing this one as long as they’re in Stockholm on 24 May. Thanks for reading and emailing. Bye.

5.49pm BST

That’s your lot!

5.48pm BST

90 min+2: McTominay shoots straight at Cech from 18 yards. Arsenal’s fans are taking great delight in taunting Mourinho.

5.47pm BST

90 min: There will be three added minutes.

5.44pm BST

87 min: I thought United were Invincible.

5.40pm BST

84 min: Olivier Giroud replaces Danny Welbeck, Hector Bellerin replaces Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain. Scott McTominay’s also on for his United debut, replacing Juan Mata.

5.37pm BST

81 min: A loose clearances lands at Rooney’s feet. He leans back, puts all his weight behind the shot and puts it into the stands from 20 yards.

5.35pm BST

79 min: There’s little prospect of a United fightback. This looks likely to be the game that ends their top-four hopes. How ironic that it’s coming against a team also set to miss out. You belong with us, Arsenal seem to be saying.

5.32pm BST

76 min: Francis Coquelin replaces Granit Xhaka.

5.31pm BST

75 min: Xhaka’s down and in need of some treatment.

5.30pm BST

74 min: Rooney bends one just round the angle of post and bar from 20 yards.

5.30pm BST

72 min: Rooney’s attempt to tackle Ozil was pure comedy. He’s looking every inch a future Chinese Super League star.

5.28pm BST

71 min: Ozil slips round Rooney in a battle of sheer athleticism, but his low cross evades Welbeck.

5.24pm BST

68 min: Xhaka volleys wide from 20 yards.

5.23pm BST

67 min: Koscielny’s booked for cleaning out Martial on the right.

5.23pm BST

66 min: If it stays like this, Manchester United won’t have scored in away games against Chelsea (league and cup), Liverpool, Manchester City and Arsenal this season. They’re at Tottenham next week. It’s a record that raises questions about United’s approach in these big away games under Mourinho.

5.21pm BST

65 min: A free-kick to United, a little to the left, quite far out. Rooney whips it to the near post, Cech pushes it wide.

5.20pm BST

64 min: United have switched to a 4-4-2. Rooney and Carrick are in central midfield, Mata and Lingard wide, and Rashford and Martial are up front.

5.20pm BST

63 min: Marcus Rashford replaces Ander Herrera. As it stands, Arsenal will be six points behind Manchester City and seven behind Liverpool.

5.16pm BST

61 min: Jesse Lingard replaces the disappointing Henrikh Mkhitaryan.

5.14pm BST

59 min: How long before we see Pogba and Rashford?

5.14pm BST

Manchester United are rocking. They fail to clear their lines after a raid down the right from Oxlade-Chamberlain. Darmian’s beaten to the ball and Oxlade-Chamberlain has another chance to whip in a cross. He does, it’s magnificent and Welbeck, lurking behind Smalling, heads past De Gea from six yards out! Arsene knows.

5.12pm BST

57 min: Herrera’s been excellent recently, but he did let himself down on the goal, turning his back on Xhaka’s shot. Meanwhile…

5.12pm BST

56 min: This must be the first time Arsenal have led a Mourinho side in a competitive match since May 2007.

5.11pm BST

Out of nothing! The game’s drifting one moment, the next Arsenal have the lead. Granit Xhaka decides to have a pop from 30 yards. It’s a well struck effort with his left foot but it’s probably not going to beat De Gea – until, that is, it hits Herrera’s back and loops over the Spaniard and into the top right corner!

5.07pm BST

51 min: Tuanzebe’s defending maturely, Sanchez the latest to lose possession to the United youngster.

5.06pm BST

48 min: The second half has started at a snail’s pace. Everyone’s having a lovely afternoon stroll in the sun!

5.03pm BST

46 min: We’re off again. United get the second half underway.

4.46pm BST

Entertaining but goalless.

4.45pm BST

45 min: There will be one added minute.

4.43pm BST

43 min: Arsenal are beginning to dominate. United can’t get out of their half. Arsenal are pressing them very high now.

4.40pm BST

40 min: United’s threat has dissipated in the past 10 minutes or so.

4.37pm BST

38 min: Herrera’s down with a head injury.

4.37pm BST

37 min: Sanchez lifts a pass over the top to Welbeck. The flag’s up for offside. It was close.

4.34pm BST

33 min: Holding redeems himself, saving Arsenal with a fine clearing header as Tuanzebe tries to meet a cross from the middle. Both defences are all over the place at times.

4.33pm BST

32 min: Rob Holding almost gifts Wayne Rooney the opening goal! Under pressure, the youngster played a short backpass towards Cech, putting his goalkeeper in all sorts of trouble. He wasn’t helped out by Koscielny, who tried to step in front of Rooney rather than go for the ball. Rooney just evaded him, then opened up his body and tried to bend the ball past Cech. But no. Cech makes the save and United have to settle for a corner!

4.31pm BST

30 min: Ramsey drives into the area, outmuscles Jones and looks up as he reaches the right byline. He tees up Welbeck, six yards out, but Smalling’s in the way. Corner. The ball comes to Sanchez on the left. He curls in a cross and United are all over the shop. Ramsey can’t reach it in the six-yard box, Ozil hooks it back and no Arsenal player’s in the right place at the right time. United aren’t safe yet, though. Oxlade-Chamberlain lets fly from 25 yards and De Gea pushes his stinging drive away. “In reply to Matt Loten, this is potentially a very good team if all players are fit and performing but not a great (or realistically title winning) one,:” says . To be great it needs a quality centre back who will stay fit to play with Bailly, realistically two top quality full backs (or at least one) to replace the capable but limited Valencia and Darmian, and 20 goal a season striker on the basis that a 19 year old, no matter how good he is, shouldn’t be relied upon as first choice all year. Individually Smalling, Jones, Shaw and Martial could plug some of those gaps but form and/or injury this season just hasn’t been with them. A replacement for Carrick who can’t go on too much longer would be nice too…

4.28pm BST

28 min: Sanchez releases Ramsey on the left. Ramsey’s cross is incompetent.

4.27pm BST

26 min: Mata breaks down the right, the flag’s down and Mkhitaryan’s free in the middle. Luckily for Arsenal, Mata’s cross is poor and Cech claims. Up the other end, Oxlade-Chamberlain wins a corner. On the touchline, Mourinho and Wenger are arguing about something. The temperature’s rising. In comes the corner from Ozil. A header lands at the feet of Welbeck in the six-yard box. He turns and shoots, but Jones manages to turn it over!

4.24pm BST

24 min: Martial shows his speed as he races Koscielny down the right. Koscielny’s forced to concede a corner. United take this one short and Mata dinks a cross into the middle, where Rooney rises and heads wide.

4.21pm BST

21 min: Mata hoicks the free-kick high to the far post. Mkhitaryan heads it back across goal under little pressure and Arsenal fail to react, eventually conceding a corner after timid defending. Cech punches Mata’s cross away.

4.20pm BST

20 min: Tuanzebe chests down a pass from Rooney, holds off Sanchez and sets off down the right. Sanchez fouls him.

4.18pm BST

18 min: For a moment, Martial seems to be away down the right after tackling Oxlade-Chamberlain. Fortunately for Arsenal, the linesman’s flag’s up for handball.

4.15pm BST

15 min: Welbeck steams up the right, away from Jones, who’s struggling. The Arsenal striker cuts inside, into the area, but Ander Herrera anticipates the danger and cuts it out.

4.14pm BST

14 min: Oxlade-Chamberlain swings a cross into the middle from the right. Tuanzebe heads away from Welbeck. “I really can’t make up my mind whether this is a bang average United squad, or actually quite a good one,” says Matt Loten. “Supposedly decimated by injuries and playing the reserves, but Martial, Mata and Mkhitaryan should be more than capable of opening up any team on their day. Do United have a squad capable of challenging for the title, or are they in need of several new faces over the summer? I’m perplexed.”

4.11pm BST

12 min: United look bright and inventive in possession. Arsenal are defending very high. That’s sure to end well.

4.09pm BST

9 min: Sanchez, under little pressure in the middle, slips a pass through to Ramsey. Mkhitaryan’s nodded off now. Ramsey shoots low towards the bottom right corner, but De Gea superbly tips it wide! I see we’re not bothering with defending today, then. This could already be 2-2!

4.08pm BST

8 min: Rooney is playing quite a deep role. He’s mvoing around freely and Arsenal are struggling to pick him up. Martial’s also dangerous, skidding into the area and putting the fear into Arsenal again. He’s just halted in time. Herrera wins a corner, but Rooney’s delivery is a waste again.

4.07pm BST

7 min: “The only consolation for Arsenal fans is that the impending defeat is predictable, and only the manner of it is in doubt,” says Charles Antaki. “It might be thoroughly dismal, or perhaps – I’m trying to look on the bright side – illuminated by the odd few moments of hope before the inevitable crushing failure. Happy days.” That’s the spirit!

4.06pm BST

5 min: An encouragingly open start. Gibbs hares clear down the left, Mata dozing off, and he hooks a cross back to Welbeck. He can’t bring the ball under his control, but Ozil bursts on to it, past a defender and shoots low towards the far corner. De Gea saves. United attack. Rooney slides a fine pass through to Martial, who holds off Koscielny before bearing down on goal. Under pressure, he stabs instinctively towards the near post, but Cech smartly turns it behind for a corner.

4.04pm BST

4 min: Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain cleans out Mkhitaryan with a poor sliding challenge on the left. He’s fortunate not to be booked. Rooney whips the free-kick straight into Cech’s clutches.

4.02pm BST

2 min: United scheme down the right and Mata earns a yard to send in a cross with his right foot. Rooney sharply gets in front of his marker, but heads a few yards over.

4.00pm BST

And we’re off! Arsenal, in their red and white, get the game underway, kicking from left to right in the first half. Manchester United are in blue, presumably so Arsenal think they’re playing Mourinho’s Chelsea. Clever.

3.57pm BST

It’s 11 years to the day since Arsenal played their last game at Highbury and denied Tottenham a spot in the last four with a win over Wigan. Thierry Henry scored a hat-trick. Eleven years on, there’s no one like Henry in this Arsenal team. The willing but erratic Danny Welbeck leads the line for them today. Here come the teams. The match will be on the way shortly.

3.50pm BST

Sky have just aired a not particularly insightful interview with Arsene Wemger, conducted by Thierry Henry. Consider me stunned.

3.44pm BST

“Do we really think it’s appropriate to have Andre Marriner refereeing a match with Kieran Gibbs and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain playing?” says JR in Illinois. “Doesn’t anyone remember what happened last time?”

And against a Mourinho team, no less.

3.43pm BST

Now Mourinho’s talking up Axel Tuanzebe. “To play against Arsenal is not easy for anyone,” he says, but he goes on to say that he hopes it will be an amazing day for a youngster who he appears to rate.

3.42pm BST

Jose Mourinho’s on television. “I trust the players, I know they have quality, I know they have desire. But I know three of them don’t play football for six or seven weeks. To finish top four we need to win four matches. To win the Europa League we need to win two matches.”

3.24pm BST

Liverpool have dropped more points at Anfield, drawing 0-0 with Southampton. James Milner saw a penalty saved. He’s on his haunches at the final whistle. He knows they could still slip out of the top four, even though they’ve gone back into third, a point above City. They’ve played one more than City and two games more than Manchester United, who could go two points behind them if they win this one. A win for Arsenal takes them six points behind City. But all of a sudden, it’s in United’s hands. They’ll finish in the top four if they win their final four matches.

3.19pm BST

Arsenal make two changes to the team that lost at Tottenham. The hare-brained Gabriel drops out of defence after giving away the penalty that led to Harry Kane’s second, meaning Rob Holding comes in, while Arsene Wenger has decided that his Arsenal could do without Olivier Giroud clogging up their attacks with his usual limp target man impersonation. The speedy Danny Welbeck starts against his old team.

Jose Mourinho sticks to his promise to rotate after Manchester United’s win at Celta Vigo on Thursday, but it’s still a strong team. Antonio Valencia, Eric Bailly, Daley Blind, Paul Pogba, Jesse Lingard and Marcus Rashford are rested. David De Gea replaces Sergio Romero in goal and Marouane Fellaini’s suspended. Luckily Mourinho has a large squad. Phil Jones and Chris Smalling, Mourinho’s warrior centre-backs, are fit to start, 19-year-old Axel “Foley” Tuanzebe makes his first ever start at right-back, Michael Carrick replaces Fellaini, and Anthony Martial and Juan Mata are part of a jinking attacking trio behind novelty act Wayne Rooney.

3.05pm BST

Arsenal: Cech; Holding, Koscielny, Monreal; Oxlade-Chamberlain, Xhaka, Ramsey, Gibbs; Ozil, Welbeck, Sanchez. Subs: Ospina, Bellerin, Gabriel, Iwobi, Coquelin, Giroud, Walcott.

Manchester United: De Gea; Tuenzebe, Smalling, Jones, Darmian; Carrick, Herrera; Mata, Mkhitaryan, Martial; Rooney. Subs: Romero, Bailly, Blind, Lingard, Rashford, Pogba, McTominay.

3.00pm BST

Arsenal versus Manchester United. Patrick Vieira versus Roy Keane. Marc Overmars’s winning goal. Peter Schmeichel saving Dennis Bergkamp’s penalty at Villa Park. Ryan Giggs’s hairy chest. 6-1. Wiltoooooooooooorrrrrrdddddddd. Ruud van Nistelrooy’s penalty miss; Martin Keown’s sporting reaction. Wayne Rooney’s dive; Cesc Fabregas introducing Sir Alex Ferguson to a tray of pizza in the Old Trafford tunnel. Suffice to say, there’s no shortage of history when it comes to this fixture.

That’s because it used to be the Premier League fixture. Not any more, however, at least not for the time being. Today it’s just a match between the fifth and sixth best teams in England, and what’s the reason for everyone to get all worked up about that? Things aren’t as they were. Blackburn Rovers are a League One side. Tottenham Hotspur are the kings of North London. Jose Mourinho isn’t bothering to tweak Arsene Wenger’s nipples any more.

Continue reading…

Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/football/live/2017/may/07/arsenal-v-manchester-united-premier-league-live

May 07

Championship final day clockwatch – live!

2.08pm BST

Blackburn Rovers are down. They are a League One side and it’s all the fault of Venky’s. Nottingham Forest and Birmingham, meanwhile, have stayed up thanks to their wins over Ipswich and Bristol City respectively. Both clubs, however, must learn from their mistakes, otherwise nothing will change. And something really has to change in English football. Too many owners are being allowed to ruin proud clubs. Blackburn are the latest victims, but they’ve just been slightly less fortunate than Birmingham and Forest. Without firm action from the football authorities, Blackburn’s fate will be someone else’s in the future. A sobering thought to end on. But it’s reality. Thanks for reading and emailing. That’s all from me for now. You can follow Liverpool v Southampton with Ben Fisher here.

Related: Liverpool v Southampton: Premier League – live!

2.02pm BST

Brighton were so close to top spot, only for Jack Grealish to interfere with their plans! His equaliser for Aston Villa means Newcastle have won the title after their 3-0 win over Barnsley.

2.00pm BST

“We want our Rovers back,” sing the Blackburn fans. Before long they’re chanting “Venky’s out”. Their team gave their all today but it wasn’t enough. Those fans have been horribly let down by their club’s ludicrous owners. There are tears in the away end. Will Venky’s even care? Or will they just promise Ronaldinho and David Beckham again?

1.58pm BST

The whistle finally goes at Ashton Gate, Birmingham’s players dash towards the away end to celebrate and their fans are going mad! They’ve done it. Harry Redknapp’s pulled it off thanks to Che Adams’s early goal. They’re staying up and Blackburn, Premier League champions in 1995, have been relegated to League One.

1.56pm BST

There is one minute of stoppage time left at Ashton Gate. Birmingham are almost safe. Blackburn are almost in League One. On the pitch and in the away end at Griffin Park, they wait desperately for good news.

1.55pm BST

Forest are safe.

1.55pm BST

Blackburn have done all they can. But is it going to be enough? It doesn’t look like it at the moment. Time’s ticking away at Ashton Gate. Bristol City can’t find the equaliser that would send Birmingham down. Another chance has gone begging.

1.53pm BST

Jack Grealish’s deflected low shot squirms past David Stockdale and the title is going to Newcastle!

1.53pm BST

Dwight Gayle’s put through by Mitrovic and he scores easily. And…

1.52pm BST

Wes Hoolahan’s got his second and Norwich’s fourth.

1.51pm BST

There will be six minutes of added time at Ashton Gate. Is a twist on the way?

1.51pm BST

Wolves end the season on a positive note.

1.50pm BST

Birmingham are creeping towards safety. They’re frustrating Bristol City now.

1.45pm BST

Josh Murphy’s set up by Hoolahan and he squeezes his shot inside the near post.

1.45pm BST

Six minutes left at Ashton Gate. Can Birmingham hold on? They’re not defending convincingly. But they still lead.

1.44pm BST

Tom Ince equalises for Derby.

1.43pm BST

Bristol City are the team making all the running at Ashton Gate. Birmingham’s fans are being put through the mill now. One Bristol City goal and Birmingham are down!

1.42pm BST

Lewis Grabban smashes in from close range to seal the points for Reading after a little wobble.

1.42pm BST

An emphatic penalty from Craig Conway. Three more for Blackburn and they’ll stay up!

1.41pm BST

Marvin Emnes is taken out by Harlee Dean, who’s sent off.

1.39pm BST

It might be an own goal, it might be a Piazon goal, it might be Kebano’s second. Whatever it is, Fulham lead.

1.38pm BST

Craig Conway goes down in the Brentford area after a trip by Josh Clarke. The Blackburn man’s booked for diving!

1.34pm BST

Joe Bennett’s second means Cardiff are ending the season on a high.

1.32pm BST

As it stands, Nottingham Forest’s goal difference is -10 after that Assombalonga goal. Blackburn’s is -13 and it’s no contest when it comes to goals scored. Blackburn can’t catch Forest without some help from Ipswich. It’s out of their hands. They need Bristol City to score against Birmingham, who still lead 1-0 at Ashton Gate.

1.30pm BST

Hang on!

1.30pm BST

This should be enough for Nottingham Forest. Britt Assombalonga makes up for his penalty miss a few moments ago, barrelling into the area and walloping high past Bialkowski at his near post!

1.29pm BST

Burton are back in it.

1.28pm BST

Lee Frecklington with the goal for Rotherham.

1.28pm BST

Glenn Murray converts from 12 yards and Brighton are winning the Championship title as it stands!

1.27pm BST

Sam Baldock races through on goal and although he gets a shot away, he’s being fouled from behind by Nathan Baker. Once Sam Johnstone saves his shot, the referee blows for the foul by Baker and sends the Villa defender off!

1.26pm BST

Britt Asombalonga sees his penalty saved and Forest aren’t out of the woods yet! He dispatched one confidently in the first half, but this time Bialkowski flies to his right to push this one wide!

1.24pm BST

Jamie Ward races through and he’s sent tumbling!

1.23pm BST

Yann Kermogant makes the points safe for Reading with a composed finish. They’re looking strong as they head into the play-offs.

1.22pm BST

Ayoze Perez’s shot is saved, but Chancel Mbemba isn’t about to miss the rebound. Is the title heading to Newcastle? They’re doing their job. Brighton aren’t doing theirs.

1.21pm BST

Alex Pritchard’s volley doubles Norwich’s lead.

1.21pm BST

Bristol City are pressing at Ashton Gate. If they score, Birmingham drop into the bottom three.

1.18pm BST

Danny Graham almost restores Blackburn’s two-goal lead, only to fire over when given a clear sight of goal. Bad miss. All hope’s not lost yet for Blackburn, however, because the picture could change if Bristol City score against Birmingham.

1.17pm BST

Chris Cohen, a Nottingham Forest stalwart, sees his deflected shot fly into the top corner from 20 yards and the City Ground erupts with joy! Forest are edging ever closer to safety now. Their goal difference is -11 to Blackburn’s -13 now.

1.16pm BST

Bad, er, vibes for Blackburn. Lasse Vibe meets a cross from Harlee Dean the right and flicks superbly into the far corner to get Brentford back into the game. This is dismal news for Blackburn. Tony Mowbray has his head in his hands. And…

1.13pm BST

There’s been no change in the situation at the bottom yet. Blackburn are still the team heading into League One. A Blackburn goal – or an Ipswich goal – will put Forest back into the bottom three, though. “How are the nerves?” says Paul Morris. “As a Blackburn fan, I’ve sworn off chicken and currently have three YouTube tabs open simultaneously playing “Zen Garden Relaxing MUSIC”; “RAIN IN THE WOODS SLEEP SOUNDS” and “The Wind in the Trees (10 Hours of White Noise)“ to try and calm myself down. It’s not working. The nerves are shot.”

1.08pm BST

Chris Wood equalises from the spot for Leeds.

1.07pm BST

Ipswich almost equalise straight away. Forest have dropped off. Their lead is intact, though. Down at Griffin Park, meanwhile, Canos bends one just wide for Brentford.

1.05pm BST

We’ve kicked off again. How are your nerves?

12.57pm BST

Brighton need a goal, else the title’s heading north.

12.52pm BST

One fine goal from Ayoze Perez and Newcastle are doing all they can in their pursuit of the title. They’re still playing at Villa Park, where it’s Aston Villa 0-0 Brighton.

12.51pm BST

An early strike from Che Adams means Birmingham deservedly lead at the break. They need it to stay this way, though, because a Bristol City equaliser would drop Harry Redknapp’s side in it.

12.50pm BST

Britt Assombalonga’s penalty has calmed the nerves at the City Ground.Sort of. Forest have been pretty terrible, but they lead and they’re staying up on goals scored. It’s bound to be a fraught 45 minutes of football after the break, though.

12.49pm BST

Blackburn are doing their bit. It’s not enough at the moment, though. At the moment, they’re going down. At the moment, it’s too little, too late.

12.47pm BST

Matias scythes down Sone Aluko from behind and he’s shown an instant red card at Hillsborough.

12.47pm BST

This is on a knife edge now. If Blackburn score again, they’ll go back above Forest on goal difference. If Bristol City equalise against Birmingham, Harry Redknapp’s team will be in the thick of it. At the City Ground, meanwhile, Ipswich almost equalise immediately, but Christophe Berra heads just wide.

12.45pm BST

Assomabalonga crashes the penalty high into the left and almost takes the roof off the City Ground! That’s how to blast away the tension! Forest are staying up as it stands!

12.44pm BST

A throw’s chucked in from the right. Ipswich have dozed off. Jamie Ward dashes into the area and lobs it over the onrushing Bialkowski, who cleans him out. A moment of madness from the Ipswich keeper.

12.42pm BST

Here’s Mike Ashley at today’s game… https://t.co/q9XqutHPKm pic.twitter.com/mx1ITDBcNb

12.40pm BST

Brighton aren’t themselves at Villa Park. Villa have had the best chances and could have scored twice. Which is all good news for Newcastle.

12.39pm BST

Ipswich hit the bar! The ball breaks to Samuel in the Forest area. He takes a touch and shoots. It’s deflected, but Smith somehow turns it on to the bar and over for a corner!

12.37pm BST

Blackburn look calm and collected at Griffin Park. This has been such an assured performance from Tony Mowbrary’s side. Pressure? What pressure?

12.35pm BST

Eric Lihaj meets a cross from the left, six yards out, and turns it over. A poor miss from the Forest defender. But a moment of promise at the City Ground.

12.31pm BST

Ouch. As it stands, 10-man Huddersfield will be playing Sheffield Wednesday in the play-offs.

12.30pm BST

The Forest fans are trying to rouse their players. The players have to calm down. This is a perfect example of how the mind can work against you.

12.28pm BST

Forest are doing nothing. They’re sleepwalking towards League One. They aren’t troubling Ipswich at all.

12.27pm BST

Fulham always score.

12.25pm BST

Wes Hoolahan weaves his way through and finishes coolly.

12.24pm BST

Yedlin pops up on the overlap and drives a low ball to the near post, where Perez stupendously Kanus a backheeled finish into the net. Newcastle are winning the league as it stands!

12.23pm BST

Huddersfield were a goal down to Cardiff; now they’re a man down. Their goalkeeper, Danny Ward, crazily handles outside the area after an awful backpass and that means he’ll be suspended for the play-offs.

12.22pm BST

Reading are properly in charge at the Pirelli Stadium.

12.21pm BST

They know what’s happening at the City Ground all right. It’s gone very quiet there. It’s still goalless and a Forest breakthrough would alter the picture again, but the tension is taking hold and smothering the atmosphere. The big problem for Forest is that Blackburn’s goal difference is a goal better than theirs now. They’ll be in huge trouble if Blackburn score one or two more at Brentford, whose goalkeeper, Daniel Bentley, isn’t having a great game.

12.19pm BST

Another huge goal down at the bottom, another blow for Nottingham Forest! Che Adams wriggles through on goal, uses his strength to turn and shoots low and hard into the Bristol City net!

12.18pm BST

In the away end at Griffin Park,, the Blackburn fans can’t believe it! They’re two goals to the good and survival is well within their grasp now! Sam Gallagher does well to bustle to the byline on the right and cut the ball back. Bentley pushes it out as far as Guthrie, whose shot should be saved by the Brentford goalkeeper. Instead it slips under his body and Blackburn score again!

12.15pm BST

Blackburn have their tails up now! They’re chasing a second goal. Nervy times for Nottingham Forest, who need a goal against Ipswich. They’ve lost Mustapha Carayol to an injury now. On comes Zach Clough.

12.13pm BST

Set up by Kieran Lee, Sam Winnall drives low into the bottom corner. Hillsborough’s happy.

12.12pm BST

Charlie Mulgrew bends a brilliant free-kick into the top left corner from 25 yards to give Blackburn the lead! As it stands, they’re staying up and Nottingham Forest have dropped into the bottom three!

12.11pm BST

Ipswich have threatened at the City Ground, Skuse shooting from 20 yards and drawing a good save from Smith. Meanwhile…

12.10pm BST

Huddersfield are choosing a bad moment to run out of steam.

12.08pm BST

Birmingham have started promisingly at Ashton Gate, which bodes well for their survival hopes. Blackburn are beginning to settle as well, going close at Griffin Park.

12.07pm BST

Oh, Leeds. Wigan are already down, but they’ve scored with their first attack, Ryan Tunnicliffe, rounding Robert Green and finishing smartly.

12.06pm BST

Barnsley have made a strong start at Newcastle, but now the game’s been stopped because of a nasty head injury to Isaac Hayden. The Newcastle defender took a heavy blow and is looking groggy.

12.04pm BST

Reading have taken an early lead at Burton through Joseph Mendes, who blasted in from close range. Jaap Stam’s side look determined to go into the play-offs in good form.

12.04pm BST

A fine start for Wolves! Danny Batth is unchallenged as he heads home a corner.

12.03pm BST

There’s a cracking atmosphere early on at the City Ground and Forest are making the early running, threatening from a corner. Ipswich are having to deal with some ferocious pressure in the opening minutes, Mills and Ward both going close for the hosts.

12.01pm BST

Peep! We are off! “Not that I am a fan of Mike Ashley’s or his running of Newcastle, but don’t the travails of the Forest, Birmingham and Blackburn put the criticism of his reign into perspective a little bit?” says Shaun Wilkinson. “I am not sure I would swap Ashley for any of those owners…”

He has admittedly responded well each time they’ve gone down. But he has managed to take Newcastle down twice.

12.00pm BST

The teams are emerging at Championship grounds up and down the country. It’s almost time.

11.58am BST

November 1995. Blackburn 7-1 Nottingham Forest.

11.47am BST

Blackburn v Nottingham Forest, May 1999. Forest were already down. Blackburn went and did a Hull. They were relegated four days later.

11.46am BST

Aston Villa: Johnstone; Bree, Chester, Baker, Taylor; Lansbury, Hourihane, Amavi, Bacuna; Adomah, Hogan. Subs: Bunn, Richards, Elphick, Gardner, O’Hare, Davis, Grealish.

Brighton: Stockdale; Bruno, Dunk, Tomori, Pocognoli; Knockaert, Sidwell, Stephens, Murphy; Baldock, Murray. Subs: Maenpaa, Bong, Rosenior, Kayal, Skalak, March, Hemed.

11.37am BST

Brentford: Bentley; Clarke, Dean, Barbet, Field; Yennaris, Kerschbaumer, Jota, Sawyers; Canos, Vibe. Subs: Bjelland, Jozefzoon, Hofmann, McCormack, Egan, Bonham, Westbrooke.

Blackburn: Raya; Lenihan, Ward, Mulgrew, Nyambe; Lowe, Guthrie, Williams, Bennett; Graham, Gallagher. Subs: Steele, Hoban, Feeney, Emnes, Lucas Joao, Akpan, Conway.

11.22am BST

Up at the top, meanwhile, the destination of the title isn’t settled yet. Chris Hughton’s Brighton are at Villa Park and the leaders will guarantee top spot for themselves if they beat mid-table Aston Villa, but Newcastle are only a point behind. Rafa Benitez’s Newcastle are at home to Barnsley – shame Tottenham aren’t the visitors to St James’s Park actually – and their goal difference is eight goals better than Brighton’s. What a fine job Benitez has done at Newcastle. But will he still be there next season? Or will Mike Ashley strike again?

11.55pm BST

Hello. Thirty-eight years since Nottingham Forest won their second consecutive European Cup, 22 years since Blackburn Rovers won the Premier League, six since Birmingham City lifted the League Cup trophy at Wembley, this is the day when one of these fallen clubs falls even further and drops into League One. It is a day to stock. Whatever happens, it’s a day to wonder where it all went so badly and humiliatingly wrong, even for the two lucky clubs that manage to survive. It’s a day for serious questions. It’s a day for their supporters and players to pull together and it’s also a day to point fingers of blame at those responsible for this mess. Above all, it’s a proud day for the football authorities! Fit and proper? Pull the other one.

For this is a tale that starts and finishes with preposterous ownership, with each club victims of appallingly craven, ruinous and shambolic decision-making at the top. “It all goes to the top of the club and the erratic ownership of Fawaz al-Hasawi,” writes Daniel Taylor, our chief football writer and resident Forest expert. “Under the Kuwaiti, Forest have been getting progressively worse every season, with eight permanent managers and three interim appointments in not even five years. There is a skeleton staff, a general sense of decay and Hasawi, the only director, has not been to a game at the City Ground since September. Forest, meanwhile, have had what the Nottingham Evening Post describes as a “standing appointment at the high court”, referring to all their unpaid tax bills and winding-up orders. Players have missed wages and talked between themselves about going on strike. It is a chaotic, fractured club, desperately in need of some expertise.”

Related: Fallen giants: how Nottingham Forest, Birmingham and Blackburn fell so far

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Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/football/live/2017/may/07/championship-final-day-clockwatch-live

May 02

Cristiano Ronaldo continues to make fools of those trying to write him off | Jacob Steinberg

Ronaldo has responded to the passing of time by trimming his game with devastating efficiency – as Atlético Madrid have been reminded again

It happens to every player when they accelerate past the wrong side of 30. Suddenly the legs are heavier. The pace starts to go, younger opponents whizz by as though they are riding on invisible motorbikes and the body begins to rebel. The old magic starts to disappear and naysayers line up to say that you’re in the throes of irreversible decline. There are two options. Either you accept the inevitable and learn to live with the surprisingly welcome human reality of growing old. Or you rebel.

Related: Cristiano Ronaldo hat-trick ensures Real Madrid turn the screw on Atlético

Related: Real Madrid 3-0 Atlético Madrid: Champions League semi-final first leg – as it happened

Related: ‘Unique’ Cristiano Ronaldo benefits from Zinedine Zidane’s guidance

Continue reading…

Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/football/2017/may/02/cristiano-ronaldo-real-madrid-champions-league-atletico-madrid

May 01

Watford 0-1 Liverpool: Premier League – as it happened

Emre Can’s stupendous goal earned Liverpool a crucial win at Vicarage Road and moved them closer to Champions League qualification

9.58pm BST

Jurgen Klopp gives Emre Can a big joyous hug. The German’s outrageous goal settled this one. It came out of nothing and it means everything tonight. Liverpool weren’t doing much and had lost Coutinho to an early injury – then that. They found a way to win, despite lacking a cutting edge and this is a big result, one that moves three points clear of Manchester City, four points clear of Manchester City and nine points clear of Arsenal. They’re doing just about enough at the moment. They almost threw it away at the end, Sebastian Prodl volleying against the bar, but they survived. It’s their third consecutive win by a single goal on the road and it leaves them a step closer to a top-four finish. Thanks for reading and emailing. Night.

Related: Emre Can strikes at Watford to strengthen Liverpool hold on top four

9.53pm BST

It’s all over. A poor game, but Liverpool have done enough thanks to Emre Can’s amazing goal.

9.52pm BST

90 min+4: Watford have a free-kick just inside Liverpool’s half. Cleverley sends it in. Milner clears for a throw. Watford keep coming, though. The ball bounces around on the edge of the area. Okakak makes a nuisance of himself and the ball finds its way to the unmarked Prodl on the left. He crashes a volley past Prodl – and against the bar!

9.49pm BST

90 min: Sturridge does well to outmuscle Doucoure before skipping past Prodl, opening up space for a shot from just inside Watford’s area. He shoots low with his right foot but Gomes gets a hand to his effort and the ball trickles agonisingly past the right post. There will be four added minutes.

9.46pm BST

88 min: Sturridge cheaply gives the ball away. I’m surprised Liverpool haven’t brought on the calming influence of Alberto Moreno. Meanwhile Wijnaldum slides a pass into the area for, er, Matip, who sees his shot turned behind by Gomes.

9.45pm BST

87 min: Liverpool make their final change, Ragnar Klavan on for Adam Lallana, who’s out of juice after coming on for Coutinho much earlier than Klopp would have wanted. Klavan’s job will be to help Liverpool combat the physical duo of Deeney and Okaka.

9.43pm BST

85 min: Daniel Sturridge replaces Divock Origi. He will have set himself a target of getting a minimum 17 shots away. Stefano Okaka is on for Nordin Amrabat as well. Niang’s moved wide.

9.41pm BST

83 min: Janmaat wafts an aimless looking shot towards goal from the left. But Simon Mignolet’s having a wee snooze in goal and he just wakes up in time to dive low to his right and push it away before the ball creeps inside his near post.

9.39pm BST

81 min: Emre Can bends one well wide from 25 yards. He’s no Emre Can. Wait.

9.35pm BST

76 min: From a Watford corner, Liverpool almost score. When the corner’s cleared, Janmaat decides to shoot from 40 yards. But of course. He is Daryl Janmaat. Daryl Janmaat. Liverpool storm up the right, Clyne knocking it down the line for Can, who’s in space. He looks up and sprays a ball across, into the path of the onside Lallana, but the midfielder takes a slightly poor first touch, rushes and scythes a shot past the right post. Will that miss come back to haunt Liverpool?

9.33pm BST

75 min: Watford are a pretty tedious team, but they’re clear of relegation fears. What does that say about this league?

9.31pm BST

73 min: Isaac Success replaces Etienne Capoue.

9.30pm BST

70 min: Deeney’s a little lucky Craig Pawson misses him having a small dig at Mignolet, who goes down. It’s all very silly.

9.27pm BST

68 min: Capoue smacks one goalwards from 20 yards. Mignolet brushes it over, but a goal-kick’s awarded. Watford are furious. Capoue’s booked for dissent.

9.24pm BST

66 min: Wijnaldum jinks back inside on the left, leaving Mariappa grounded, but his chipped cross only finds Janmaat.

9.22pm BST

64 min: Janmaat whips a cross into the middle from the left. Mignolet does a catch.

9.18pm BST

60 min: The home fans are getting irritated with Watford’s approach. They can’t get Deeney or Niang in the game at all, mainly because they keep kicking the ball past them.

9.15pm BST

57 min: Origi chases a ball down the right channel and hurtles into the area. From a tight angle, he shoots straight at Gomes.

9.12pm BST

54 min: Lallana sends the corner deep into the area and Lovren nods it into the six-yard box. Gomes is grateful the ball runs through to him.

9.11pm BST

53 min: Origi cuts inside from the left, slipping away from Kabasele, and shoots towards the bottom corner from 20 yards. Gomes tips it wide.

9.10pm BST

52 min: Watford do know the second half has started, right?

9.08pm BST

50 min: Can’s down after being caught in the face by a stray arm from Doucoure.

9.07pm BST

49 min: Milner goes for goal with the free-kick, but it’s straight at Gomes, who takes the safe option of pushing it away.

9.06pm BST

48 min: Firmino, who is playing by the way, wins a free-kick on the left of the area after a clumsy, needless foul from Prodl, who’s booked.

9.04pm BST

46 min: Liverpool get the second half underway. The good news for them, other than the scoreline, is that Coutinho hasn’t had to go to hospital for a look at his injury. He’s sitting on the bench.

8.50pm BST

Half-time entertainment courtesy of Kevin O’Connor

8.48pm BST

Emre Can, though!

8.48pm BST

A goal this game didn’t deserve, but do Liverpool care? Of course they don’t care. Liverpool don’t appear to be going anywhere on the right. Eventually the ball’s worked inside to Lucas, who’s thankfully recovered from his brush with death a few moments ago, and he lofts a ball into the area, looking for Can. There doesn’t seem to be much on. Amrabat’s in close attendance. The only thing for Can to do is leap into a stunning acrobatic bicycle kick from just inside the Watford area, the ball looping over Heurelho Gomes, who’s so taken aback he barely moves, and into the top right corner!

8.46pm BST

45 min: There will be three added minutes. Liverpool really haven’t recovered from losing Coutinho to injury.

8.45pm BST

44 min: Lucas prods the ball round Cleverley on the right of the area and tumbles under a non-existent challenge from the Watford midfielder. Cleverley wasn’t even near him. That is an utterly pathetic dive from Lucas and he’s booked by Craig Pawson. It was a Morten Gamst Pedersen of an effort to con the referee.

8.42pm BST

41 min: Can incurs the wrath of the Watford fans by tumbling on the edge of the area on the left. They reckon the German dived. Liverpool eventually get a corner. It’s whipped in from the left and Gomes punches clear, but only as far as Lallana, who let the ball drop before cracking a brilliant volley over the Watford goalkeeper and against the bar from 20 yards! The ball bounces the wrong side of the line from Liverpool’s safety, Origi’s beaten to the rebound and Watford survive.

8.38pm BST

38 min: Deeney momentarily goes down in the area after a little nudge from Lovren, but Craig Pawson isn’t interested. And nor’s Deeney.

8.35pm BST

34 min: Niang stands Clyne up on the left. He tries to twist and turn past the Liverpool right-back, but eventually settles for a corner. Cleverley’s delivery leads to nothing in particular. Liverpool have successfully dealt with a corner!

8.33pm BST

33 min: Origi introduces some electricity to Liverpool’s attack, bursting to the byline on the left, but Gomes claims his cutback.

8.32pm BST

32 min: Lallana should roll a pass through to Origi, but he underhits it.

8.29pm BST

30 min: There are more interesting articles on this website today.

Related: My boyfriend is wonderful and loving – but he has a tiny penis

8.27pm BST

27 min: This is tactically absorbing.

8.24pm BST

24 min: Liverpool have had 60% possession and look utterly convinced they’re going to lose 1-0 after conceding a scrappy goal from a corner in the 53rd minute. It will be Watford’s only shot, other than the ones they’ve already had, but let’s not count them.

8.22pm BST

22 min: Absolutely nothing’s happening, so Can decides he might as well shoot from 25 yards. It’s a good effort, low and hard, but Heurelho Gomes pushes it to safety.

8.19pm BST

20 min: Christian Kabasele replaces Miguel Britos.

8.18pm BST

18 min: Miguel Britos is down and in need of treatment. This has been very stop-start so far.

8.16pm BST

16 min: Watford burst up field in sprightly fashion. The ball’s pinged from right to left and Cleverley chests down to Deeney, whose interesting drive’s deflected into Mignolet’s hands.

8.15pm BST

15 min: Liverpool are around four more injuries away from Daniel Sturridge getting a game or maybe just being allowed to warm up for a bit.

8.14pm BST

14 min: Milner escapes down the left for the first time and hangs a teasing cross into the middle. It’s headed away from Wijnaldum.

8.12pm BST

13 min: The ball finally goes out of play, meaning that Adam Lallana can come on for the stricken Coutinho, who gets a consolation from Jurgen Klopp.

8.10pm BST

11 min: Adam Lallana is going to come on for Liverpool.

8.10pm BST

10 min: Niang swivels away from Matip on the left and the German centre-back brings him down. Capoue’s free-kick is a waste of time.

8.08pm BST

8 min: Now Milner’s down, caught by Capoue (I think) in the air. Nothing’s given. Jurgen Klopp’s miffed. Milner groggily gets back to his feet.

8.06pm BST

7 min: Coutinho hobbles back on. He looks mightily uncomfortable. It’s not long before he trudges back to the touchline to talk to Coutinho. He’s trying to stretch his right thigh, but it’s difficult to see him continuing.

8.05pm BST

6 min: Coutinho is limping off for more treatment. He’s feeling his right thigh. It could be a dead leg, writes Dr Steinberg. Liverpool are still down to 10 men as Watford break, but Niang selfishly shoots from 20 yards, straight at Mignolet.

8.05pm BST

5 min: Coutinho’s down after a collision with Mariappa. He’ll need some treatment. Jurgen Klopp looks concerned; he can’t afford to lose the Brazilian.

8.03pm BST

3 min: Amrabat concedes possession on the right. Lucas fizzes a pass into Origi, who tries to turn Prodl. The Watford centre-back brings him down heavily and is fortunate to escape a booking. The free-kick’s just inside Watford’s half. Coutinho lofts it straight into the area, but Can can’t head it back across goal.

8.00pm BST

And we’re off! Watford, in bright yellow shirts and black shorts, get the game underway. They’re kicking from right to left in the first half. Liverpool are in red.

7.59pm BST

The teams are out. Z-Cars blares around Vicarage Road, meaning this is a Merseyside derby.

7.44pm BST

The way Liverpool started the season, it is a slight disappointment that they’re no longer in the title race. On their day, they’re exhilarating to watch. At other times, not so much. Still, they don’t really have the cover to challenge at the elite yet; Sadio Mane’s injury highlights the flaws in their squad. In that context, finishing in the top four in Jurgen Klopp’s season would be something to celebrate, especially as it would mean doing so at the expense of two out of Arsenal, Manchester City and Manchester United, clubs with stronger finances. Then challenge for Liverpool would be pushing on in the summer. They’ve struggled to do that in the past – think 2002, 2009 and 2014 – and can’t afford to let another opportunity to go to waste. We all know the Manchester clubs will be parting with significant money again.

7.12pm BST

Watford: Gomes; Mariappa, Prodl, Britos; Janmaat, Cleverley, Doucoure, Capoue, Amrabat; Deeney, Niang. Subs: Pantilimon, Kabasele, Eleftheriou, Zúñiga, Behrami, Success, Okaka.

Liverpool: Mignolet; Clyne, Lovren, Matip, Milner; Lucas, Can, Wijnaldum; Coutinho, Origi, Firmino. Subs: Karius, Moreno, Grujic, Sturridge, Alexander- Arnold, Klavan, Lallana.

7.08pm BST

Alan Pardew is in the Sky Sports studio. He isn’t dancing yet.

3.49pm BST

Hello. With the race to finish in the top four plunging new depths on Sunday afternoon, now we get to see whether Liverpool are capable of moving in the right direction without tripping over their own feet. It will help if they’ve left the funny oversized shoes at home, of course, although that’s the thing about life in the best league in the world: it’s so very unpredictable and anyone can beat anyone because only two teams are any use at the moment. As it stands, Liverpool are the third best team in the country. I know, I know. Last week they lost to Crystal Palace at home last week and they could yet end the season as the league’s 14th least worst team.

But still, what a wonderful opportunity they have in front of them tonight. Manchester City and Manchester United drew with Middlesbrough and Swansea City yesterday, because of course they did, and Arsenal went one better by collapsing at Tottenham, because of course they did, so it’s over to Liverpool to take full advantage by swatting mid-table, beach-residing Watford aside. A win will take them three points clear of City, four clear of United and nine clear of Arsenal before winnable fixtures against Southampton, West Ham and Middlesbrough. A limp exit from their Champions League group next season is theirs for the taking.

Related: Watford v Liverpool: match preview

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Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/football/live/2017/may/01/watford-v-liverpool-premier-league-live

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