Nick Ames

Author's details

Name: Nick Ames
Date registered: September 27, 2014

Latest posts

  1. Gareth Barry aims to carry on after passing Ryan Giggs appearance record — September 21, 2017
  2. Game changers: Rio Ferdinand and the stars who swapped sports — September 19, 2017
  3. Manchester United 4-0 Everton: Premier League – as it happened — September 17, 2017
  4. Feyenoord 0-4 Manchester City: Champions League – as it happened — September 13, 2017
  5. Excitement at painful odds with reality as Renato Sanches makes Swansea bow | Nick Ames — September 10, 2017

Author's posts listings

Sep 21

Gareth Barry aims to carry on after passing Ryan Giggs appearance record

West Bromwich Albion midfielder, who will play his 633rd Premier League game at Arsenal on Monday, has taken up yoga, shows no signs of slowing down and says he could still be playing at 40

If Gareth Barry was beginning to feel frazzled by a morning of media commitments at The Hawthorns, the message that popped up on Phil Neville’s iPad brought home the reason all this was happening. Neville was interviewing his former England team-mate for television and Barry was genuinely touched to be shown a recorded offer of congratulations from Ryan Giggs, who is only a vague acquaintance but had made contact to acknowledge the passing-on of his Premier League appearance record.

The handover will be formalised on Monday when Barry starts for West Bromwich Albion at Arsenal, making his 633rd top-flight outing and confirming his place in the modern history books. “I’m not going to argue with Ryan about trophies and things like that,” Barry says in response to some light ribbing from Giggs about the difficulty of their respective achievements. “It was lovely to hear from him. I’m aware he’s played in the old First Division before and collected a few more appearances than the 633. I’m also aware the Premier League started in 1992 and records existed before that too. I’m not here to say I’m top of the tree in English football history.”

Related: Gareth Barry’s remarkable career continues to push the boundaries

I’m not going to argue with Ryan about trophies and things like that. It was lovely to hear from him

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Sep 19

Game changers: Rio Ferdinand and the stars who swapped sports

The ex-Manchester United defender has taken up boxing – following in the footsteps of such sports multi-taskers as Victoria Pendleton, Ian Botham and Michael Jordan

When former footballer Paolo Maldini bowed out of his nascent tennis career after a solitary chastening afternoon on clay, he summed up the difficulties with the elegance of a man more used to taking effortless command of the defences of Italy and AC Milan.

“It was like writing a poem after studying years of maths,” Maldini said after suffering a 6-1, 6-1 doubles defeat at the Aspria Tennis Cup in June.

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Sep 17

Manchester United 4-0 Everton: Premier League – as it happened

Manchester United overpower Everton thanks to Antonio Valencia and late strikes from Henrikh Mkhitaryan, Romelu Lukaku and Anthony Martial

6.11pm BST

Related: Antonio Valencia screamer sets up Manchester United win over Everton

5.57pm BST

No happy return for Rooney, then. Perhaps it should have been – he had a couple of presentable chances and the one just after half-time, in particular, will be replaying in his head all evening. United pulled clear at the end, not for the first time this season, and deserved the win although never by that margin. Everton were decent in the second half: they might wonder how a more proactive attitude from the start could have helped them.

United go joint-top, with an *identical* record to Man City. Everton are a deeply unsatisfactory 18th. Do we have the Mourinho-Guardiola battle this season that we were falsely promised before 2016/17? I’ll leave you with that question, and doubtless many others. Bye!

5.50pm BST

An odd game, and never a 4-0, but that’s your lot!

5.49pm BST

Well this has all escalated. Dispatched smoothly to Pickford’s right.

5.48pm BST

Martial runs through, looks set to score, but Schneiderlin handles the ball away from him. Martial to take and …

5.48pm BST

90+1 min: Sandro forces a smart save from De Gea but then …

5.48pm BST

Well that is a little unfortunate for Everton, and namely those fans who jeer mockingly when Lukaku’s tame free-kick cannons off the wall. The problem is that the ball stays alive and is quickly returned with interest from the left hand side, deflecting off a couple of people and sitting up just nicely for Lukaku to convert at the back stick. Oops. His celebration is vigorous.

5.45pm BST

89 min: Lukaku apparently gave the Everton fans a bit of the old “hush” when the second goal went in. Endearing. He might fancy one of his own now as United win a free-kick on the edge of the area that’s perfect for a left-footer …

5.44pm BST

87 min: Schneiderlin looks for Baines but the pass is 15 yards ahead of him. Mkhitaryan now gets his moment of applause, replaced by Martial.

5.42pm BST

86 min: Hard on Everton after this second half, but they just haven’t taken their chances – Rooney in particular – and have tended to dally at the back. They’ve been punished for both.

5.41pm BST

That’s that, and Everton have had a few of these in them. Williams fudges a pass 10 yards outside his own area, Fellaini diverts it to Lukaku, the striker brings it forward and then does really well, seeing Mkhitaryan to his left and passing unselfishly. The finish is low and clinical. Everton did that to themselves, and that particular mistake had perhaps been coming.

5.39pm BST

82 min: Williams only just manages to smuggle another Mkhitaryan cross away. Bailly is then booked for a foul on halfway and … now Rooney is taken off during the stoppage, to brief chants of “Rooney, Rooney”. So we won’t get the fairytale. We will get Kevin Mirallas, though.

5.36pm BST

80 min: United have got better. Do Everton have a big last 10/12/14 in them?

5.35pm BST

78 min: Lingard almost gets a touch on a Mkhitaryan ball but retrieves possession and squeezes a shot to Pickford. Was he pulled back in the process? Quite possibly, but no penalty is given and perhaps he was “almost too honest” in carrying on and trying to score despite the impediment.

5.33pm BST

77 min: Matic is given an invitation to shoot from distance, first by the crowd and then by Everton’s reluctance to close. It fizzes a metre wide. Subs for both now: Calvert-Lewin replaces Gueye in an attacking move for Everton, and Herrera takes Mata’s spot for United.

5.31pm BST

74 min: Rooney and Baines combine before Sandro sees a shot blocked from 18 yards. United break and Lingard, lively since coming on, has an effort of his own deflected not far over.

5.29pm BST

72 min: You sense there’s another goal in this game, at one end or the other. Martina tries to make sure it doesn’t go to United, tripping Lingard unnecessarily and earning a yellow.

5.27pm BST

70 min: Lingard could seal it for United, after Young does well to get to the left byline and cuts back to the near post. It’s on his left foot though and, under pressure from Williams, he skies it.

5.25pm BST

68 min: This half is surely the best Everton have played all season. Rooney feeds Sigurdsson on the left and he looks to check and bend a right-footed cross in; he gets it all wrong, though, and it sails out.

5.22pm BST

66 min: Sandro comes on for Everton now, in place of Davies, who has played well.

5.21pm BST

64 min: Pickford almost undoes all of Everton’s better work with a terrible ball out from the back that lands straight at Mata, who dallies a little and is bundled over by Williams right on the edge of the box. Yellow card. Free kick. Thudded onto the near post by Mata’s left foot! That would have won it for them!

5.19pm BST

61 min: De Gea saves United again! A stray Jones header is latched onto by Sigurdsson and, with Rooney also lurking, he stretches to shoot from the corner of the six yard box. It’s repelled by the goalkeeper’s body. But Everton have, bar Lukaku’s chance earlier, probably had better opportunities than United now.

5.17pm BST

61 min: I was right, just this time – Rashford, not great today, goes off.

5.17pm BST

60 min: We are about to see Jesse Lingard. I’d remove Rashford, but then hooking Mata would add extra speed on the break.

5.15pm BST

58 min: There’s just no real speed to United’s play. Everton, nicely compact, have had some influence on that and you’d have to say Pogba is missed too. But the likes of Mkhitaryan and Rashford haven’t done enough here, for me.

5.13pm BST

57 min: This is, actually, probably the least impressive I’ve seen from United so far this season. Everton can sense similar and look a lot more assertive now. Can they create enough chances though?

5.11pm BST

54 min: Better from United now as a Mata delivery swings over Jagielka’s head. That means Lukaku has room in front of goal, but his chest control is heavy and the ball pops up, meaning the resulting volley is awkward and spooned high.

5.08pm BST

51 min: Gueye is caught on the ball by Fellaini, who feeds Mkhitaryan. The Armenian finds Rashford in turn, but he checks inside from the left and curls well wide. Not great. United still yet to come out after half-time.

5.07pm BST

50 min: Rooney is at it again, almost rounding Bailly on the edge of the area, but Jones is across in the nick of time. United having a few nervous moments at the hands of their returning legend.

5.05pm BST

49 min: That was such a good opportunity for Rooney. Everton should be level. United haven’t really begun the second period yet.

5.04pm BST

46 min: Rooney has an even better chance! What a start to the half that would have been! He exchanges passes with Davies, sashays into the right of the area, and seems to have been crowded out – but he bundles through and, at an angle, has only De Gea to beat! But his left-footed shot is too close to his former team-mate and the save is made. Should have scored!

5.02pm BST

Can Everton and Rooney turn this around?

4.57pm BST

“Ronald Koeman said his team has to be more aggressive, Everton signs Angry Birds as sleeve sponsor,” Sibi Titus and a number of others point out.

4.54pm BST

@NickAmes82 How many sleeve corrections is Jagielka away from being labeled “Angry Birds Captain” to “Angry Captain”?

4.53pm BST

Valencia shinned his goal, by the way. But who cares?

4.51pm BST

A bit more pizazz going forward and Everton could yet trouble United. They were set up so cautiously at the start though – and this was supposed to be the season where they went toe to toe with the top six …

4.46pm BST

Not a great half, although we did see a great goal from Valencia. Lukaku should have made it two for United but Everton, awful for 20 minutes, did get better and Rooney missed a reasonable opportunity to write the headlines. You feel United can and should step this up and win in comfort; for now, they’ll have to be vigilant and make sure Martina, Everton’s biggest threat, gets a little less space down the right.

4.44pm BST

44 min: Jagielka chooses to leave a harmless dinked ball by Mata for Pickford, who is distinctly surprised and fumbles. For a split second Lukaku might pounce, but the goalkeeper recovers. When pressed, Everton to not look secure.

4.42pm BST

42 min: Some real seat-of-the-pants defending by Everton now, passing the ball up towards halfway without ever really having it under control. They’ll be happy to hear the whistle.

4.40pm BST

41 min: Rashford shanks a poor, flat cross beyond everybody. He’s blown hot and cold so far.

4.39pm BST

39 min: It could have come there, Lukaku running clear again after a give-and-go with Rashford before Jagielka slides in superbly as the trigger is pulled. United win one corner, and then a second that loops around and causes some bother, but Everton just about survive again.

4.37pm BST

38 min: Williams has to make another crucial challenge as the last man to prevent Mkhitaryan from breaking. You do feel a second United goal would finish this, but until then Everton are certainly keeping them honest.

4.36pm BST

37 min: Everton have, to be fair, improved massively since that first 15 or 20 minutes. Still a lack of real pace and zest though.

4.35pm BST

35 min: Pickford slides in adeptly to *just* beat Rashford to the ball and, also, avoid handling it outside the area. It was a beautiful pass by, I think, Mkhitaryan that set him scurrying away.

4.33pm BST

34 min: A scrappy phase, now. You’d have say that United haven’t turned the screw as they could have. What is Sir Alex, shown sitting next to Mick Hucknall in the directors’ box, thinking?

4.31pm BST

31 min: A smooth Everton move ends up at Martina’s feet again, but he crosses poorly into Matic with players waiting. He gets another chance to overlap moments later but is adjudged to have pulled Young back.

4.29pm BST

29 min: Davies dives onto a Martina cross and De Gea saves with his legs from point-blank range … but Davies was offside anyway. That right side is providing them with some joy.

4.27pm BST

28 min: That might yet prove crucial. Awful error by Keane just as Everton were getting a reasonable foothold – but he was let off!

4.27pm BST

26 min: What a miss from Lukaku! Keane plays a disastrous square pass in his own half that totally wrong-foots Schneiderlin. Lukaku seizes the ball, surges into the box, commits Williams and has most of the goal to aim at from about 10 yards. He slots it past Pickford, but also wide of the post!

4.24pm BST

24 min: It’s a bit more open now. United might like to create another opportunity or two, although they now win a free kick when Williams goes in late on Lukaku. It’s just too far out for a crack at goal and Mata’s delivery is cleared with ease by Keane.

4.21pm BST

21 min: Lukaku flashes a ball across the box from the left, and then can’t reach a Mata cross from the other side. Then Everton break and Rooney has a chance! Martina, a good outlet down that right side, cuts one back towards the edge of the area, and Rooney, taking it first-time on the run, cuts it just past a diving De Gea’s right post! Might have done better!

4.19pm BST

19 min: Lukaku goes on his first real run and touches it forward to Rashford, breaking on the right of the area. Williams has to get his tackle spot on, or it’s a penalty – and to give him credit, he does.

4.17pm BST

18 min: United, still overwhelmingly in control if not exactly creating chance after chance, are playing the ball around with some comfort. They’re not being pressed with much ferocity.

4.15pm BST

15 min: A lovely Rooney touch frees Davies with Martina in a great position on the overlap ahead of him, but the pass is poor. Everton have at least perked up a touch. They then win a free-kick midway inside the United half, which Sigurdsson whips in. Rooney fouls De Gea, though.

4.13pm BST

13 min: Everton do construct an attack now and Martina delivers well from the right, but Jones gets up to flick the ball away before Rooney – the only player in proximity – can attack it.

4.12pm BST

12 min: Rooney tries to do something, looking to spread wide for Martina just beyond halfway, but Young is in to intercept and bring the ball forward. There are one or two jeers.

4.10pm BST

11 min: Mata picks out Young on the left byline but he drills high and beyond the far post. Everton have literally not been in the United half yet. Literally.

4.09pm BST

9 min: Back to my earlier point, it kind of helps relieve pressure if you field a striker …

4.08pm BST

8 min: United have really stepped the tempo up now, knowing that a second would be very hard to come back from. A couple of skirmishes in the box lead to a panicky Pickford clearance. Everton are still camped so deep and really can’t get out.

4.06pm BST

6 min: Quite glad of that, as Everton had come here to dig in and can’t really do that now. That was a once-a-season strike from Valencia, and came from absolutely nothing.

4.05pm BST

Errrr, nothing slow about that! Matic whips the ball from the left side across the edge of the box, left-footed, with most of the Everton team incredibly deep inside their own area. Valencia, lurking just beyond the corner of the area, takes the ball after it bounces and absolutely thrashes it plum into the far top corner! An absolutely brilliant strike – and what a start for United!

4.03pm BST

3 min: It is raining hard at Old Trafford. There’s no torrent of attacking movement so far though. It’s been fairly slow United buildup.

4.01pm BST

1 min: A couple of nice economical early touches from Rooney. That’s a takeaway from the opening minute. The crowd aren’t lingering on him though, it’s strictly business now.

4.00pm BST

Lukaku kicks off for United, who go right to left.

3.59pm BST

I mean, I look at the Everton team here and – with the best will to the player Rooney is these days, which is still a fine one – there really isn’t a proper striker. Not really.

3.57pm BST

The teams are walking out, I’ve already seen at least one Rooney banner in the home end – the reception looks to be a very warm one.

3.56pm BST

Wayne Rooney has scored 9.7% of Man Utd’s PL goals at Old Trafford. He must be tempted to slot in some hot own goals today to reach that 10%


3.53pm BST

Michael Cosgrove asks: “So, it’s Rooney’s return to Old Trafford. Will he be welcomed onto the pitch by generous applause reserved for former heroes or the bitter boos that are reserved for traitors?”

I mean, that’s the question isn’t it. Looks like being the former though (as it should be … read Danny Taylor’s excellent piece for more on that).

3.49pm BST

Interesting, too, how Mourinho – speaking now – refers to Everton’s “five at the back”. He’s done that before, he doesn’t think three at the back is really a thing. I know what he means; in most cases it’s a hedging of bets at very best.

3.48pm BST

Koeman on a switch to three at the back: “We know how to play this system, we had a good result away at City and we did it several times last season. I think we need a bit more of a compact team and in the last few teams we lost a little bit our strength.”

3.42pm BST

Rooney on a nice reception when he bowled up earlier: “Of course it was nice but I’m here to try and get a result for Everton, it’s a big game for us and important to try and get something. It’s going to be strange but I’m here with Everton and trying to get a result, obviously I’m with Everton and trying to win. It’s a game of football, 90 minutes on the pitch, everything will be going into trying to get a result for us.”

Reading between the lines, I’d say he’s here with Everton and wants to try and win the game.

3.41pm BST

So, Everton fans, what’s gone wrong lately? Without Lukaku and, of course, Barkley there just seems little drive and flair. Not enough pace, not enough vim. How big a failure was it not to snare a striker?

3.29pm BST

Another thing Rooney did as an Everton player at Old Trafford – a matter of weeks before it all kicked off with that goal against Arsenal:

3.24pm BST

Ok, so Chelsea v Arsenal finished goalless and wasn’t great. Here’s some better warm-up material for you. What did Wayne Rooney do the last time he played at Old Trafford as a visiting player?

3.12pm BST

Hang on, no, I can’t let this go:

| A first look at our sleeve sponsor, @AngryBirds, as part of our new partnership with @rovio#RedIsABlue

3.07pm BST

Let me know what you think of those teams – email and Twitter addresses are appended. I’ll talk to you more when Chelsea-Arsenal, currently finely balanced at 0-0, is finished. You can keep up with that here:

Related: Chelsea v Arsenal: Premier League – live!

3.01pm BST

Man Utd: De Gea, Valencia, Bailly, Jones, Young, Fellaini, Matic, Mata, Mkhitaryan, Rashford, Lukaku. Subs: Martial,
Smalling, Lingard, Carrick, Romero, Herrera, Darmian.

Everton: Pickford, Keane, Jagielka, Williams, Martina, Schneiderlin, Gueye, Baines, Davies, Sigurdsson, Rooney. Subs: Sandro, Mirallas, Klaassen, Besic, Stekelenburg, Calvert-Lewin, Holgate.

2.49pm BST

Wayne’s World. Fountains of Wayne. Wayne Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest. However you like your Wayne, there’s something for you today – are you an Evertonian, outraged by his departure all those years ago, who has clutched him firmly back to your bosom this time around? Perhaps you’re a United fan who, despite his slow fade over his final couple of seasons, believes he can do no wrong? Perhaps you’re somebody who takes a little from columns A, B and all the others, admiring the good and the bad from a brilliant if complex career that still have a fair few turns left in it.

The latest one, his return to Old Trafford, would have been billed a month or so back as the potential storming of the citadel by a vibrant, new-look Everton lineup led heroically by the man of the moment. Everton started the season reasonably well, Rooney scoring the obvious winner on his league re-debut, but it’s not gone remotely to plan since. A 1-1 draw at Man City – Rooney again – look a better result by the week but everything since has, let’s be honest, been turgid. They were virtually invisible against Chelsea and Tottenham; they were execrable at Atalanta on Thursday night and more of the same would see them take a hiding this afternoon.

10.36am BST

Nick will be here shortly.

Continue reading…

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Sep 13

Feyenoord 0-4 Manchester City: Champions League – as it happened

John Stones scores twice while Sergio Agüero and Gabriel Jesus are on target too in the easiest of Champions League openers for Pep Guardiola’s side

9.46pm BST

For those lingering/reliving/basking, here is Jamie’s on-the-whistle report:

Related: John Stones double helps Manchester City to easy victory over Feyenoord

9.40pm BST

Excellent from City, execrable from Feyenoord. Would things have been different had Vilhena not messed up so badly in the second minute? Maybe, but probably not. City were on a different plane there, the home team simply looked cowed and fearful throughout, offering virtually nothing all game. Job done, and City will face much better opponents in Europe this season, but they are purring nicely into gear and look an intimidating proposition.

Liverpool 2-2 Sevilla and Spurs 3-1 Dortmund, by the way. And, of more interest to City and Feyenoord, Shakhtar 2-1 Napoli.

9.34pm BST

Never in doubt. By which I genuinely do mean never in doubt.

9.33pm BST

90+1 min: Two added minutes to contest, if that’s ever really been an appropriate word tonight.

9.32pm BST

90 min: St Juste gets Bernardo Silva with what sees at first to be a high foot but is actually a follow-through lower down. No need for a second booking.

9.31pm BST

4-0 and City coast convincingly carefree…

Alliteration from our man in Rotterdam. Not the worst game for a tight evening deadline, this.

9.29pm BST

87 min: More keep-ball results eventually in a De Bruyne pass, a Mendy criss, a Jones fumble but little further danger.

9.26pm BST

84 min: Fine block by St Juste on Sane, who is played through by Bernardo Silva and tries to shoot across Jones, with Sterling screaming for it in the middle. One corner becomes two, and from the second De Bruyne’s daisycutter is blocked too.

9.23pm BST

81 min: Nothing is really happening on the pitch. It’s just consummate from City, with Feyenoord largely chasing shadows. Everyone is playing out time.

9.21pm BST

78 min: Amrabat goes off, applauds the home fans and is applauded warmly in return. The crowd do deserve credit for keeping on keeping on. Sam Larsson, in only his second game for the club, comes on.

9.18pm BST

76 min: Boetius wins a free-kick from Sterling a yard outside the City box. They couldn’t get one back … could they? Nope. Toornstra balloons it well over the top.

9.16pm BST

74 min: Kevin De Bruyne has taken the armband now, by the way. What a start to the season he is having; he gets better and better. He plays Sterling through down the right now but it’s perhaps a little overhit and the substitute flashes his cross beyond goal.

9.14pm BST

72 min: Feyenoord bring on 18-year-old local lad Dylan Vente for the thankless Kramer.

9.13pm BST

71 min: Yes, here’s Sane for Fernandinho. City have so much pace and power these days!

9.12pm BST

70 min: It’s the City fans in good voice now with their Glad All Over effort. Leroy Sane will be coming on soon.

9.10pm BST

@NickAmes82 How’s the atmosphere? I’m stuck in a Bosnian hotel with only #ItaliaSerbia (basketball) or even worse #LIVSEV to watch on TV

Had Feyenoord made a game of this, the atmosphere would have been absolutely spectacular. As it is, fair play to the home crowd, they’ve given it a shot this half despite their team’s non-performance.

9.09pm BST

67 min: Botteghin is booked for a thoroughly useless foul on Jesus down the right. David Silva comes off now, and on comes Fabian Delph.

9.08pm BST

65 min: De Bruyne goes right to left and Sterling is waiting at the back post. He brings it down with his chest and Jones saves smartly enough at the near post. City had lulled but the tempo is up again now. From the corner, Jones clears unconvincingly and then gathers when Otamendi drills a low effort back in.

9.06pm BST

Another for Stones! And a cleaner one this time. It’s another short corner from the left and, come on, when are Feyenoord going to learn about these? This time De Bruyne whips the ball in after it’s returned to him and Stones, six yards and with barely a finger laid on him, rises to thud a header into the roof of the net. All so, so easy.

9.04pm BST

@NickAmes82 vampire names: Vampeta which actually means ‘devil vampire’. Looked like a vampire as well with his little moustache.

The winner.

9.04pm BST

@NickAmes82 Just once, I’d love to read an MBM or match report that doesn’t refer to Manchester City’s spending. Just the once.

Someone else started it! But look, context is important. It doesn’t belittle the fact that they’re going to be one heck of a team to watch this season. I love them with Walker and Mendy down those flanks.

9.02pm BST

60 min: Shakhtar 2-0 Napoli in the other game, which makes you wonder whether City are in for a procession to top spot. Spurs now lead Dortmund 3-1 at Wembley, Harry Kane with two left-footers. We interrupt this results service to tell you that Sterling is replacing Aguero.

9.00pm BST

58 min: After those little flurries, City are popping the ball around well again. I think Raheem Sterling will come on soon, which isn’t really much respite.

8.59pm BST

56 min: Boetius wins a corner on the left, but Toornstra overhits it. Shame. Even at 3-0, the home fans have shown a huge appetite to get back behind their team but there was nothing to cheer there.

8.56pm BST

53 min: I think this half will probably be a tapering-down for City, who play Watford at the weekend and probably quite fancy keeping themselves fresh. It will probably help Feyenoord look a touch livelier but I can’t really see the next 40 minutes counting for a lot.

8.53pm BST

51 min: Kramer now scampers down the right but his attempt to play Amrabat in reckons without Stones, who recovers smoothly to win that race and come away with the ball.

8.51pm BST

49 min: Toornstra goes on a bit of a run down the left and sets up a situation around the edge of the City box, which is eventually defended. That’s a great improvement though, already.

8.50pm BST

Sergio Aguero only five goals away (yes?) from equalling Eric Brook’s all-time goal scoring record for Manchester City in all competitions.


8.48pm BST

46 min: The hosts have made a change by the way. Berghuis – who was actually relatively lively, though it’s very relative indeed – has gone off and been replaced by Toornstra. A disastrous back three has morphed into a back four.

8.47pm BST

Will Feyenoord give us something? Anything? One goal could … avert the inevitable for a little while.

8.40pm BST

And Watford supporter @mattrowson mentioned Valon Behrami in the same vein:

And go on again, because it’s important to stress that this kind of frippery repeats itself across the site.

8.39pm BST

@NickAmes82 Vampire footballers: I reckon Dragos Grigore (Romania and Al-Sailiya) has got a reasonably vampiric name.

Go on then.

8.39pm BST

On the third goal, it wasn’t deflected from Mendy – it was just a poor parry from Jones, who was perhaps unsighted and thus wrong-footed.

8.37pm BST

From Ciaran Burke: “Feyenoord fans having nothing to complain about – they could complain that their club has fought back from bankruptcy in the last few years while City have racked up £535m accumulated losses in the last few years by buying up Europe’s most coveted manager and a string of top players. Just a thought.”

Yes, my MBM has failed thus far to reference the fact that football in Europe is rotten to the core. Something we must fight hard against being normalised to.

8.31pm BST

Painfully soft opening goal from Stones, clinical second from Aguero, simple third from Jesus, and we can’t really say this isn’t entirely reflective of the score. City may as well be on a different pitch – let’s be honest.

8.30pm BST

45 min: Feyenoord win a corner though, after a move where Berghuis nutmegs Mendy. That made the crowd smile! The flag kick comes to zero in the end, which makes them frown.

8.29pm BST

44 min: Whistles, now, as a Feyenoord attack ends up back with their own ‘keeper, Jones. This is very limp from them.

8.27pm BST

43 min: We’re not going to need the second half, really. I predict 4-0 and perhaps a Feyenoord red card.

8.26pm BST

41 min: They’ve lost it here, Feyenoord. Vilhena follows briskly in the footsteps of his colleagues with a wild crunch on De Bruyne. Now he’s booked too and the last two minutes have just been stupid from him and his team.

8.25pm BST

40 min: And now Kramer does something similar, with an utterly needless hack at Fernandinho. I’ve seen red cards given for those, he went in with two feet and essentially scissored into him. Yellow card.

8.24pm BST

39 min: St Juste is booked for a rather petulant, frustrated kick at Jesus and concedes a left-sided free-kick. It’s a delicious delivery from De Bruyne that bounces up and Jones has to repel with his body, but somebody is offside. Jesus I think.

8.23pm BST

38 min: Liverpool have turned it round to be 2-1 up, Salah has just scored. As things stand English clubs will be – yuck – five for five!

8.22pm BST

37 min: You’re not missing a lot, it’s just City possession, although Walker almost manages to squeeze the ball across again after a lightning dash. Mendy and Walker make a huge difference to City – huge. Make no mistake about that.

8.20pm BST

34 min: Feyenoord are still barely able to touch the ball. They’re just being absolutely killed. Boetius does, at least, earn applause for robbing Aguero down by the byline – but there’s a problem with that as Boetius is meant to be a forward himself, and lumps the ball upfield to nobody.

8.16pm BST

31 min: Could have been four, Aguero squeezing a De Bruyne centre – again from the right – ever so slightly wide at the near post.

8.15pm BST

30 min: Nights like this, when the crowd are so patently up for it and ready to whip up a storm, are always a real shame when they fall so flat so quickly. It’s a letdown. But the home fans can’t complain about anything.

8.13pm BST

28 min: This could honestly be any score if City – and Feyenoord for that matter – carry on like this although I expect they’ll slow it down soon enough now they have the cushion.

8.12pm BST

Errrr … that was a bit odd, but it’s game over now. The corner is cleared out to Mendy, who drills towards goal from 25 yards at the second attempt. I think it’s deflected a bit and Jones can only half-save. Everyone stops because Otamendi, in front of goal, is about two yards offside. Jesus, also in front of goal, is definitely not offside though and has the simplest, most unopposed of tap-ins while the others all wait. And City lead by three. This is a rout.

8.10pm BST

24 min: City are getting tonnes of space on the right and De Bruyne is the latest to have some joy, slipping in David Silva, who wins a corner before …

8.08pm BST

23 min: David Silva bursts into the box now but Jones is out very sharply to gather at his feet some 15 yards out.

8.07pm BST

21 min: Close from Feyenoord! Much better as the striker, Kramer, is fed by Boetius and has a clear sight of goal on the left of the area. He lets fly and it clips off Ederson … into the side netting. Some of the home crowd think it’s in, but it’s not and the corner comes to nothing. Better though.

8.05pm BST

Dear @UEFA do you think this is an acceptable way to treat people who’ve paid 60€ to watch a match (that we can barely see)? #ManCity

The away end, ladies and gentlemen.

8.04pm BST

19 min: Bernardo Silva finds Aguero, faced with only one man, who takes it just a little too far left for a good angle but still manages to snaffle away a shot, which Jones parries. City keep up the pressure but Jones takes a subsequent cross at the second attempt.

8.02pm BST

17 min: Elsewhere in the group, Shakhtar Donetsk lead Napoli at home, perhaps a touch surprisingly. Spurs are now 2-1 up over Dortmund by the way.

8.00pm BST

15 min: Yellow card for De Bruyne for going right through Vilhena. Nasty, maybe not helped by the surface though.

8.00pm BST

15 min: I’m receiving a few vampiric footballers from you, as requested. Events having overtaken us a little, I’ll try and share them at half time …

7.58pm BST

13 min: A bit of determination from Berghuis there, surging towards the area, but De Bruyne gets back and blocks well. First real flicker from Feyenoord and it may already be too late.

7.58pm BST

13 min: Stones’ goal, timed at 95 seconds, was City’s quickest-ever in Europe. At this rate there will be other records broken. Can Feyenoord get any kind of grip on this before they’re totally blown away?

7.57pm BST

They’re running away with it! So simple, so clinical. Walker overlaps at high speed down the right, whips in a wonderful low cross and Aguero, swiping across the ball brilliantly, flashes it into the far corner. Was that the kind of goal City might not have been able to score last season?

7.55pm BST

9 min: David Silva is a bit generous in trying to slip Jesus in when he could probably shoot. Amrabat is in to snuff out the danger. Feyenoord just haven’t been remotely involved yet – or at least not in any good way.

7.53pm BST

7 min: Not too far off being two! Bernardo Silva bends a cross over from the right and Jesus is up well to loop a header of his own towards that same back post. It’s dropping in until Botteghin, arriving in the nick of time, leaps like a salmon to head it out from under the bar.

7.51pm BST

6 min: How will Feyenoord respond on and off the pitch? It was absolutely throbbing in there before kick-off. Now it’s near-silent and their team can barely get a touch at the moment.

7.50pm BST

5 min: Tottenham are winning against Dortmund and Sevilla winning at Liverpool. The goals are flying in tonight!

7.50pm BST

Well that might silence them! What a horrible, horrible goal to concede though. The corner is played short to David Silva, who chips one across and Stones is up to win the header. It’s directed well, towards the back post, but Vilhena is doing his job there and is perfectly positioned to clear. He doesn’t! The ball squirms awkwardly, awfully, through his legs and slips into the net in slow motion. Charitably you’d say it must be quite wet; in reality that’s a terrible mistake. City are ahead before we’ve really started.

7.47pm BST

2 min: City are being whistled at very loudly whenever they’re on the ball, which will be a common occurence. Jesus wins an early corner off El Ahmadi down the left and …

7.46pm BST

Yer referee, Mr Marciniak, gets us underway with the whistle. And Feyenoord, going left to right in the Rotterdam rain, do likewise with the ball.

7.43pm BST

How could I forget – Feyenoord captain Karim El Ahmadi is one of numerous players who have failed at Aston Villa in the past half-decade. He’s doing well at Feyenoord. It’s almost as if the problem at Villa was rather bigger.

The players are out on the pitch now, by the way, and trilling along to the Champions League anthem. There are flares. The atmosphere is HOT.

7.38pm BST

“If I were reading a novel which featured a dashingly handsome footballer who hasn’t seemed to age a day in two decades called Giovanni van Bronckhurst, I’d assume right away that he’s an undying vampire count,” writes Kari Tulinius. “I’m also pretty sure Zinedine Zidane is a wizard.”

Any more vampiric footballers or managers?

7.31pm BST

Guardiola on … whether City are favourites! “It’s your job to say who is the favourites so we try to play to do our best.”

On Ederson: “It’s OK, in the end he was lucky but I think with a helmet he can play.”

7.28pm BST

Matt Loten sends us his take on City. Their defence isn’t up to the job, he says:

“Whilst I think that De Bruyne, the Silva Brothers, Jesus and Aguero are as talented an attacking lineup as has graced the Premier League, until Pep comes to his senses and instills some semblance of order and tactical cohesion in his defenders I don’t expect City to get much further than the quarters. Whilst his Barcelona side were prone to the odd lapse in concentration at the back, the fact remains that Dani Alves, Carles Puyol and Gerard Pique were phenomenal players, capable of organising themselves and putting their bodies on the line.

7.23pm BST

Jamal Mascott writes: “All the way from Barbados, just want to let you know that I am so grateful for the coverage, I’m here at work and can’t watch Manchester City win tonight, but I have my City Scarf on my desk, wish I could have worn my jersey to work. Come on City!”

Thanks Jamal, and all the best to everyone over there after the frightening situation of recent days.

7.19pm BST

Don’t forget Feyenoord beat Manchester United at home in the Europa League last season – although they were taken to school rather at Old Trafford. City should be warned by that first one though, surely …

7.16pm BST

Van Bronckhorst has done such a fine job at Feyenoord and if I didn’t know better I’d say he’s making a good pitch to be a successor to his old boss, Arsène Wenger, if and when the latter ever retires. Here’s a nice piece from Ed Aarons, a few months ago, which tells us just how he’s done it:

Related: Giovanni van Bronckhorst’s quiet revolution returns Feyenoord to summit | Ed Aarons

7.13pm BST

Other MBMs are available:

Related: Liverpool v Sevilla: Champions League – live!

Related: Tottenham Hotspur v Borussia Dortmund: Champions League – live!

7.07pm BST

Do email tonight, by the way. We can chat. Are City contenders? Should they see themselves as contenders? How good are 1970 European Cup winner Feyenoord?

7.01pm BST

Ederson starts for City, then, completing that miraculous recovery from his face’s awful meeting with Sadio Mane’s boot. Quite a front-loaded lineup from City there, Bernardo Silva in from the start for Danilo in what looks a very attacking swap.

Feyenoord include ex-Liverpool man Brad Jones and ex-Watford man Steven Berghuis. The Ambrabat you see before you is Sofyan, brother of current Watford (well, on loan at Leganes) man Nordin. They have a big miss tonight in the form of key striker Nicolai Jorgensen, who is injured.

6.55pm BST

Feyenoord: Jones; St Juste, Botteghin, Van der Heijden, Nelom; Amrabat, El Ahmadi, Vilhena; Berghuis, Kramer, Boetius. Subs: Bijlow, Diks, Geertruida, Tapia, Toornstra, Larsson, Vente.

Man City: Ederson, Walker, Stones, Otamendi, Mendy, Fernandinho, De Bruyne, Bernardo, Silva, Jesus, Aguero. Subs: Bravo, Danilo, Sterling, Gundogan, Mangala, Delph, Sane.

6.40pm BST

Here we go, then. Manchester City, who are definitely not contenders at all for a competition that it would be daft to imagine them winning and will be lucky to get away scot free against a well-aged European behemoth tonight, kick off their Champions League campaign.

Disclaimer: the above aren’t my actual thoughts, they’re a hilarious pastiche of the protestations Pep Guardiola makes when he thinks people are getting that little bit too puffed up about City’s chances of winning this competition – as per Jamie’s piece below. Guardiola has been at it before: he talked similarly after they outclassed Barcelona last season, and while the humility is admirable and it does no harm to reference City’s place as relative arrivistes, you wonder whether at some point it might become self-fulfilling. Monaco were brilliant last season, but City should probably not have been knocked out by them.

9.39am BST

Nick will be here shortly. In the meantime, here’s Jamie Jackson’s pre-match scene-setter:

Related: Pep Guardiola calms talk of Champions League success for Manchester City

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Sep 10

Excitement at painful odds with reality as Renato Sanches makes Swansea bow | Nick Ames

Mitigating factors can be found for a tepid debut for the Bayern Munich loanee against Newcastle but the Portuguese will be expected to improve quickly

The stacks of freshly woven scarves outside Swansea City’s home bore Renato Sanches’s name; the mouths inside mused excitedly about the potential of the team that will foster him. Two hours later there was just as much to discuss but with brows rather more furrowed. If a scrappy defeat by Newcastle proved anything, it was that one cannot microwave oneself a hero and on this evidence patience will be required if the loanee from Bayern Munich is to become a leading man in the battle to stay in the Premier League.

Related: Jamaal Lascelles heads Newcastle past Swansea with Benítez convalescing

Related: Renato Sanches, the invisible wonderkid, goes from celebrity to the Liberty | Barney Ronay

Continue reading…

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Sep 07

Ipswich Town lead the Championship battle to give away fans a fair deal

In reaction to some second-tier clubs charging up to £44 for travelling supporters, Ipswich are pioneering a ground-breaking reciprocal deal of £25

Back in April the disgust in Simon Grayson’s voice was evident when, before a visit to Leeds United, the then-Preston North End manager was asked for his views on the cost of supporting his team at Elland Road. “It is bordering on a disgrace that it is £37 for a Championship fixture and £42 on the day,” Grayson said. “There’s got to be some thought for supporters who want to go and watch football matches. How can Championship clubs charge more than Premier League teams to watch their team play?”

Related: Championship ticket prices: how did clubs end up charging £52 a game?

Related: Premier League tickets: fans have been taken for granted for too long | Owen Gibson

Continue reading…

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Sep 05

US Open 2017: Stephens sees off Sevastova to reach semis – as it happened

The unseeded Sloane Stephens triumphed in a third-set tie-break to reach the last four only months after returning from foot surgery

10.22pm BST

That’ll do for this live blog. We’ll have a game-by-game of V Williams v Kvitova coming up in an hour or two. Til then – thanks for reading!

10.21pm BST

That was a crazy, crazy match that swung from one way to the other. Stephens had Sevastova on the rack but then the Latvian, struggling with an injury, hit out wonderfully to seize the initiative. A see-sawing final set could have gone either way – in the end it went the way of the home favourite and the crowd inside Arthur Ashe have gone wild.

10.20pm BST

The unseeded American has made it – 6-3, 3-6, 7-6 (7-4)! She won that with a brilliant backhand down the line! What a lovely story for a player who only returned from foot surgery in the summer!

10.17pm BST

Stephens mini-breaks again – two points from the win …

10.13pm BST

Stephens goes a mini-break up but then wastes it by firing a gettable backhand wide. 3-2, on serve, in the tiebreak …

10.09pm BST

Once again she brings her A game and holds to love. I don’t really know how to explain this match. It will be decided by a tiebreak!

10.06pm BST

Stephens recovers from a double fault to hold, and we’re back where we were … can Sevastova stay in it again?

10.04pm BST

Tell you what, Sevastova does have nerve! She eases to 40-0, then seals it with another perfect drop shot! It’s the first service game held to love in the match, and how about that for a time to do it! 5-5!

10.01pm BST

It’s that rarity, a hold from Stephens, and she is now one game from the semis! Will Sevastova’s nerve hold up on serve? She’s done so much to get back into the match and, at one point, look like the only possible winner.

9.55pm BST

My word … now Stephens, on break point, gets some luck with a net cord, forcing Sevastova to set up a game-winning dab down the line. 4-4! This one is see-sawing every way possible.

9.51pm BST

Jamie Murray and Martina Hingis are playing in the mixed doubles now, by the way, against the American/Colombian duo of Spears/Cabal. Can Murray erase the disappointment of earlier?

9.50pm BST

Not so fast … now Sevastova takes the initiative again, breaking for 4-3 in a really careless service game from Stephens. The crowd has gone quiet again.

9.45pm BST

Stephens breaks back! And there are suggestions she is wising up to Sevastova’s eagerness for short points, one drop shot in particular being chased down adroitly as she breaks to 15. From break point down for 4-1, it’s 3-3 – and the crowd, their loudest all afternoon, absolutely love it!

9.41pm BST

Stephens, at long last, rediscovers a little more aggression in the next game and recovers from break point down to hold with two crystal-clear winners. She screams her relief. Is she back at it now? 3-2 to Sevastova, with a break.

9.34pm BST

Sevastova confirms the break after a wild, worringly off-beam overhead from Stephens. 3-1. Can’t give Sevastova enough credit here, she’s faced both injury and in-form opponent down and now looks very much like winning.

9.30pm BST

But that’s a huge break from Sevastova two games later. She leads 2-1 in the final set, taking that one by giving Stephens an absolute bashing from beyond the baseline. Her change in tack may have been forced but it’s produced some exceptional tennis from her.

9.24pm BST

Third set underway, and Stephens settles the nerves with another tough hold. It’s going to come down to psychology, this.

9.16pm BST

Sevastova wins the second set 6-3! Another hold apiece and that’s enough for the Latvian, who forces an error to leave us with an intriguing decider!

9.09pm BST

Plenty of big hitting now, perhaps for differing reasons, and Sevastova comes out on top again. She just needs to take one more game to level things up. Elsewhere, by the way, the Bryans beat the French pair 6-3, 7-5 and make the men’s doubles semis!

9.05pm BST

Sevastova is still struggling and quite clearly trying to keep the points short – plenty of drop shots and big hits. But Stephens’ game has fallen apart rather in this set so far, much like Dominic Thiem’s yesterday. Another Sevastova drop shot brings up advantage and another break point; it’s saved, and then another chance comes and goes, before Stephens completes a long and complicated hold. 4-2 Sevastova.

8.57pm BST

And she’s clearly quite fired up, doing a bit of a Del Potro here. Sevastova holds well to lead 4-1.

8.54pm BST

Sevastova gets a heck of a workout in the third point of the fourth game, which Stephens wins but after a hugely entertaining chase-down to the net. She then earns a break point after a delicious drop shot. Could she make the first break of the second set? Yes! Stephens fires a backhand wide. Sevastova leads 3-1 in the second set.

8.42pm BST

First blood to Sevastova in the opening set, forcing Stephens back and taking a little more initiative than she had been. She leads 1-0.

8.37pm BST

Stephens takes the first set 6-3. And Sevastova’s run might be coming to an end. The American got stronger and stronger as that set went on; her opponent appears to be feeling the pace now.

8.36pm BST

Sevastova, if you’d forgotten, can of course rival Stephens in the injury nightmare stakes – she retired in 2013, before reversing that decision in January 2015. She’s done exceptionally well to be here.

8.34pm BST

That little break did its job in the short term, certainly. Sevastova’s serve was under severe pressure at 2-5, and it went to deuce again, but she is still in the hunt at 5-3 to Stephens, who now serves for the first set.

8.30pm BST

The Bryans are, of course, a set up in the meantime.

8.29pm BST

It’s a time out, this, for Sevastova, so excuse the lengthy break. Hopefully a bit of the magic sponge will do the business here. It’s a leg injury, that much I know.

8.25pm BST

Another break point comes and goes on Stephens’ serve, so yet another game reaches deuce. When Stephens hits a lovely cross-court winner for advantage you sense the crowd are really getting behind her now. They’re happy again when Sevastova nets and Stephens leads 5-2. Sevastova is having some physio treatment at the changearound.

8.20pm BST

Stephens has another break point in the sixth game but Sevastova applies some good pressure to save. A lovely, swept forehand then gives Sevastova the advantage and she makes sure of the game. 4-2 to Stephens.

8.14pm BST

Now Stephens saves a break point with a firmly-converted overhead. It’s entertaining fare, this, with all the games tightly fought. She closes it out and extends her lead to 4-1.

8.10pm BST

Stephens, whose power is now starting to make a big impression, earns two break points after holding … and then, in deuce, converts a third! She is in control and 3-1 up!

8.03pm BST

The Bryan brothers are on court in the men’s doubles quarters by the way; they just keep on keeping on, to a remarkably high level, and they are 5-2 up over Julien Benneteau and Edouard Roger-Vasselin.

8.00pm BST

Stephens breaks back though, forcing a wild forehand from Sevastova at advantage. Could we be in for the epic we’ve been craving? 1-1.

7.55pm BST

And Sevastova breaks in the first. Still not too many people in the stadium – hope a bit more of a rousing atmosphere develops as this goes on for Stephens, who is world No83 but has had utterly rotten luck with injuries and was an Australian Open semi-finalist just four years ago. Her comeback is, in itself, some tale.

7.52pm BST

Stephens and Sevastova are underway, with the former serving first …

7.43pm BST

“I hope we play some good rallies, play some amazing points and the crowd enjoy it,” says Sevastova. That’s the spirit!

7.37pm BST

Up soon – Stephens and Sevastova, which should be a better match than that last one, in theory at least. Stay with us, they’re knocking up …

7.25pm BST

Another men’s doubles quarter-final has been Feliciano Lopez and Marc Lopez beat Matwe Middelkoop and Robin Haase 6-4, 7-5.

7.23pm BST

Carreno Busta: “It’s something I always dreamed of. It’s very exciting to be in the semi finals of this tournament, thank you to all the people for their support. I had to be focused all the time, Diego is a fighter. It could be fantastic to play against [Nadal] in the final.”

7.20pm BST

He earns three match points and closes it out to win 6-4, 6-4, 6-2 – his first grand slam semi-final berth! He was a class above here; this took him under two hours and he deserves it richly.

7.17pm BST

Not long before we see a similarly emphatic outcome here – Correno Busta breaks a, errr, broken-looking Schwartzman, who has just failed to make so many chances and reprieves stick. He will now serve for the match. 5-2 in the third.

7.15pm BST

That wasn’t on the cards. The defending champions have been thumped 6-1, 6-2 by Rojer and Tecau, the Dutch/Romanian pair, in the men’s doubles quarter-finals. Murray has the mixed, with Martina Hingis, still to come but this is a blow.

7.13pm BST

Schwartzman contrives a quite extraordinary backhand lob-volley to bring up deuce at 3-2 down on Carreno Busta’s serve. Stuff of that standard has been exceedingly rare during this one! He plays a terribly loose shot straight afterwards, which is more like par, but goes on to save three game points in deuce. No joy on the fourth. 4-2 to Carreno Busta in the third.

7.07pm BST

Murray and Soares are on the brink of an unexpected and highly unwelcome defeat – they’re a set down, of course, and now a break down in the second …

7.03pm BST

Schwartzman can’t say he has not been without chances here despite the margin of his current deficit, and earns three more break points to level the third back up. He fluffs them all! That was surely his big opportunity to claw a way back into the game, but he just hasn’t found the mental strength to tough these out – he has been outrallied on a few of these long break points and that says something. 3-1 to Carreno Busta.

6.58pm BST

Not the biggest turnout inside Arthur Ashe for this one, it must be said – presumably all keeping their powder dry for home hopes Stephens and, later, Venus Williams. In the meantime Murray and Soares, so emphatically a set down, are on 2-2 on serve in the second against Rojer and Tecau.

6.51pm BST

A one-sided start to the second set sees Carreno Busta break, and then hold to 15. He leads 6-4, 6-4, 2-0 and while things looked like tightening up for a while there seems little hope for Schwartzman now.

6.45pm BST

Murray and Soares duly lost their first set 6-1 – ouch …

6.42pm BST

Carreno Busta takes the second set 6-4, and goes two sets up! It’s not straightforward, as he wastes one break point, but the second is taken with an unreturnable serve. Despite a much better second set to watch, he’s looking set fair for the semis … unless Schwartzman can emulate Del Potro …

6.37pm BST

How Schwartzman might regret such a big missed chance, as he’s now broken for 5-4 …

6.35pm BST

Murray and Soares, the holders of the men’s doubles, are now 5-0 down in the first. This was definitely not the plan …

6.33pm BST

Ohhhh, Schwartzman wastes three break points at 4-3 and the second, certainly, was an avoidable miss with a lot of the court to aim at. A lot more of an edge to this one now. We are square again at 4-4. Both players are starting to find the lines and give us a contest.

6.23pm BST

Murray and Soares, the fourth seeds, have gone an early break down against their 12th-seeded opponents …

6.19pm BST

The best game of the match so far sees Schwartzman save two break points, and both players are mixing it up now with drop shots and a couple of great winners. The Argentinian yells with glee as, eventually, he goes 3-2 up on serve.

6.14pm BST

Schwartzman earns two break points now, though, and misses the first. What about the second? He slams a forehand winner to take it, and we’re all square in the second set! That’s not the first time Carreno Busta has wavered under pressure. This one ain’t done. It’s 2-2.

6.11pm BST

Another potentially break for Carreno Busta, now. He leads 2-1 in the second, and of course a set up. I’m banging on about it but this match is just a little featureless.

6.07pm BST

Murray and Soares are out on court for their quarter-final against Rojer and Tecau. They’re warming up … and I’ll keep you up to date as the match itself warms up. Back on Arthur Ashe, Carreno Busta and Schwartzman exchange pretty bland holds to begin the second get.

5.59pm BST

Carreno Busta takes the first set 6-4. No nerves this time, if we discount the fact he needed two set points to achieve it. He’s been the better player in this set and the surprise, really, is that it’s taken him so long to close it out. Schwartzman needs to step things up.

5.53pm BST

That women’s doubles quarter-final is over, by the way – a straight-sets win for Siniakova and Hradecka, 7-6, 6-3.

5.52pm BST

The pair now exchange breaks, Schwartzman claiming his after Carreno Busta, serving for the set, double faults. Carreno Busta leads 5-3. There’s just no real flow to this match.

5.44pm BST

Carreno Busta wobbles on serve but holds after deuce to lead 4-2. It’s watchable without being great; neither man really has a big weapon so there’s a touch of intensity lacking.

5.37pm BST

Schwartzman holds serve despite being robbed of a point by what seemed that rarest of things – an error by the hawk eye system.

5.33pm BST

We’re seeing some nice, lengthy rallies so far but little in the way of eyecatching blows. Schwartzman gets himself back into it by holding serve but Carreno Busta subsequently holds again despite a minor scare at 15-30. He leads 3-1 in the first set.

5.27pm BST

Schwartzman isn’t moving well and is already 2-0 down in the first set. It’s already looking as if this could be over pretty quickly – but can you think of another match in the last 24 hours when we’ve said that … ?

5.23pm BST

Kontinen and Peers have done the job – they win 6-3, 6-4.

5.22pm BST

We’re underway with Schwartzman serving. As yesterday, we have that half-half shadow on the court that makes the ball very awkward indeed to keep track of as it travels from one end to the other. Schwartzman is certainly slow to get to grips – he’s broken to love in the first game!

5.19pm BST

Schwartzman’s best US Open performance before this was a second-round showing; it’s fair to say this isn’t the most obvious quarter-final you’ll ever see but both players have played pretty smoothly so far. Hard to see either troubling Federer or Nadal, should the chance arrive two matches down the line, but that’s not a concern just yet …

5.13pm BST

Carreno Busta and Schwartzman are out on court! We should have some Actual Tennis for you before too long, and not before time.

5.08pm BST

Hradecka and Siniakova are a set up in their women’s doubles quarter-final; Kontinen and Peers are now a set and a break up in the men’s, so the top seeds there look well set to progress …

5.03pm BST

Jamie Murray is, in fact, up twice later on today. He and Martina Hingis, top seeds in the mixed doubles, take on Abigail Spears and Juan Sebastian Cabal in the last eight; also, and probably before that, he and Soares play a men’s doubles quarter-final against Jean-Julien Rojer and Horia Tecau.

4.59pm BST

Don’t Count Pablo Out: @pablocarreno91 is into his 2nd straight major QF. He faces Schwartzman 1st up on Ashe:

Carreno Busta is a man in form …

4.49pm BST

Kontinen and Peers won that first set 6-3. I’d love to tell you more about it, but there’s no feed of the doubles here. What I *do* know is that if things go to plan they will play Jamie Murray and Bruno Soares in the semis, which would be quite a match!

4.42pm BST

Let’s not forget last night’s victory by Madison Keys over Elina Svitolina, either – that was a superb result in three sets and the US has a really strong presence in its own tournament going into the final stages. Will Stephens add to that? Any predictions for today? Drop me a line!

4.37pm BST

For the avoidance of doubt, the winner of Carreno Busta v Schwartzmann will play the winner of that later Querrey v Anderson match in the semis. Theirs is what one might kindly call the less attractive half of the draw, but it’s all the more unpredictable for that …

4.25pm BST

Henri Kontinen and John Peers, top seeds in the men’s event, are already a break up and whirring along nicely …

4.18pm BST

The only action I can currently bring you, this apart, is Eurosport’s re-run of Federer v Kohlschreiber – so please bear with me. Should have something current on our hands soon.

4.15pm BST

A couple of doubles quarters are underway already – Kontinen/Peers v Monroe/Smith in the men’s, and Klepac/Martinez Sanchez v Hradecka/Siniakova in the women’s. Not much to report yet though.

4.11pm BST

Got your breath back from that marvellous Del Potro-Thiem match yet? Staggering stuff and it really made a day that, otherwise, was as routine as they come. Assuming you’ve come to your senses – and I barely have – here’s what we have on the table today. Just the two singles matches during this blog’s lifespan:

Men’s singles quarter-finals – Pablo Carreno Busta (12) v Diego Schwartzmann (29) – Carreno Busta beat precocious teen Denis Shapovalov last time out, after three tie breaks, and is yet to drop a set here. This is already his best US Open result. Schwartzmann, the Argentinian, has dropped a couple but claimed a notable third round scalp in the shape of Marin Cilic. It could be fun, this.

3.52pm BST

Nick will be here shortly.

Continue reading…

Permanent link to this article:

Sep 04

US Open 2017: Juan Martín del Potro beats Dominic Thiem in thriller – as it happened

1.24am BST

To recap, Del Potro was dead and buried in this match – two sets down and suffering from a virus. He’d only won three game in the first two sets and roared back to win in five. Let’s here from the man himself: “My God,” he sighs. “I was sick the last few days, and came here trying to do what I can … I think I fight like this because of you guys [the crowd]”

How does he recover for the next match? “I don’t know … I would like to play Roger [Federer] again.” Then he thanks all the Argentinian fans – and there are A LOT – in the crowd in Spanish.

1.20am BST

Thiem has to hold here then – and Del Potro wins the first point. Meanwhile, ESPN has gone split screen to show a routine looking performance from Roger Federer – because we don’t get enough opportunity to watch the Swiss complete routine victories. Meanwhile, on the lefthand side of the TV, Del Potro is smacking winners and has risen from the dead to make it 15-30. It looks like he may be about to make it 15-40 but a brilliant recovery from Thiem makes it 30-30. A wild forehand from Thiem brings up a match point for

Del Potro! The Argentinian goes for a winner – perhaps looking to end another leg-sapping rally – but dumps the ball into the net and it’s deuce. Thiem has advantage but his first serve is out – about as out as you’ll see from a pro and another huge forehand from Delpo brings us back to deuce. Then an error from Thiem and we’re at match point again! But, what’s this? A shanked second serve – a freaky shot – is called an ace. But on review it’s out! DEL POTRO WINS! A bizarre end to a bizarre match. But what a thrilling match. And what a brilliant win for the loveable Argentinian, who specialises in heartbreak/feelgood stories.

1.11am BST

It’s a warm but not a particularly humid night in New York, which must have helped both men keep as fresh as can be expected after four and a bit sets. Delpo unleashes a huge forehand at 0-15 that Thiem challenges – but it clipped the line. A wasted challenge, and the Austrian has no more left. A magnificent forehand from Del Potro down the line takes us to 40-15 but a missed shot after a long rally keeps Thiem in the game. The Argentinian won’t have enjoyed all that running against his younger and fresher-looking opponent (caveat: Del Potro is hardly decrepit at 29). Thiem missed an easy shot and we’re at 5-4 in the fifth. Del Potro will win if he can break Thiem in the next game.

1.05am BST

A weak start from Del Potro – a couple of wayward shots give Thiem a 30-0 lead and the Austrian makes no mistake from there onwards. It’s 4-4 in the fifth and the tiebreak gently whispers in our ear.

1.01am BST

Federer has won the first set against Kohlschreiber, 6-4. Meanwhile, in the night’s real match Del Potro is in a little trouble at 15-30 but a superb flurry of defensive shots gets him to 30-30 and a long forehand makes it 4-3 to Del Potro in the fifth (on serve).

“Del Potro is pretty fresh because he snored through the first two sets and only woke up in the third,” says Mayur Gupta on email. Also if Thiem loses this I’m sure he will be asking for a refund from the bug that troubled Del Potro in the first two sets for not completing its job #conspiracytheory.”

12.57am BST

Some tiredness creeping in from Thiem? He shunts his second serve into the net to give Del Potro a 0-15 lead – and then Del Potro slams a winner and we’re at 0-30. Thiem faces three break points seconds later, and he saves the first one with a drop shot that stretches his opponent. That opens up a little run and Thiem soon has a game point of his own. Neither of these men will lie down – even though they deserve a good rest. Thiem goes on to win the game – what an effort from the No6 seed. We’re at 3-3 – how will Del Potro react to that setback?

12.50am BST

Del Potro, who won just three games in the first two sets is now cruising – and his serve is clicking. He holds to love and looks pretty fresh for a man who has been resurrected from the dead. 3-2 to Del Potro in the fifth. Federer has broken in his match, and will serve for the first set.

12.48am BST

Thiem hits back and it’s 2-2 in the fifth. This one has tiebreak thriller written all over it (watch someone break in the next two games now).

12.44am BST

Federer is 3-3 with Kohlschreiber in the first set of their match – but he’s being pushed by the German. In our feature match, Del Potro leads 2-1 in the fifth after another strong hold.

12.41am BST

An easy hold for Thiem to love – if he’s pissed off about losing his two-set to leave, he’s taking it out on the court. Remember – it’s a tiebreak in the fifth of the US Open if needed. Del Potro 1-1 Thiem in the fifth.

12.38am BST

ESPN has decided to show the Federer match as its main event because Roger Federer is famous and therefore will clearly play a more interesting match. THANKS ESPN! Anyway, in the fifth set of this thriller Del Potro – back from two sets and two match points down – is serving first. Del Potro hammers down an ace to bring up game point and goes on to take the game. Del Potro leads 1-0 in the fifth.

12.32am BST

The final set will be brought to you by Mr Tom Lutz – don’t go anywhere!

12.30am BST

Federer v Kohlschreiber has begun by the way, and is 1-1 in the first, but that can wait.

12.29am BST

Del Potro wins the tie break 7-1! This is remarkable! The atmosphere is electric! It’s two sets all and you won’t see many matches like this!

12.26am BST

Del Potro is 4-0 up – Thiem having made a disastrous, jittery volley at the halfway stage …

12.23am BST

Lost for words here. Thiem earns two match points and then Del Potro, with only his fifth and sixth aces of the night, saves both – before winning the game and bringing up the tiebreak. What is this guy made of? I repeat: tiebreak!

12.17am BST

Thiem nails a big forehand before Del Potro slices a backhand into the net. All of which means Thiem leads 6-5 and Del Potro will need that extraordinary willpower yet again to keep himself in the match.

12.14am BST

Where is Del Potro getting all this from? He holds to love, at 5-5, despite seeming to stop momentarily during the penultimate point when Thiem appeared to have hit long. I have no idea which way this is going now. It’s become a bona fide thriller.

12.11am BST

Oh, this is amazing. Del Potro has broken back, after Thiem seemed to completely lose his nerve with the prize in sight, and we’re now back on serve. This man is incredible. It’s 5-4 to Thiem.

12.06am BST

Del Potro, looking absolutely exhausted but mustering every last drop of power, comes back from 0-30 to make sure Thiem – at the very least – will serve this out. 5-3 to Thiem in the fourth.

12.01am BST

Could this go on forever, please? This is top-class fare, it really is, but we’re nearing a denouement now as Thiem, winning his fourth game in a row, moves to 5-2 up. It will take another huge, huge effort from the ever so impressive Del Potro to turn the tide back again.

11.57pm BST

Thiem breaks in a quite brilliant sixth game! And is that the end of Del Potro’s fightback? Some of the rallies there were breathtaking – one could easily regret that it wasn’t like this from the start, but let’s live in the moment. Thiem takes the break in deuce with a deadly, flat backhand that clips the line. He leads 4-2 with a break.

11.50pm BST

Thiem, who was making some wild forehand errors, seems to be controlling it a little better now and makes an impressive hold to 15. He leads 3-2 with serve. Those last two games will have done him the world of good. Imagine, now, if for the rest of this match we see these two playing at the very top of their games …

11.46pm BST

Now Thiem breaks back – thanks largely to a Del Potro double fault and a helpful net cord. Will this take the wind out of Del Potro’s sails? 2-2 in the fourth.

11.41pm BST

And Del Potro breaks in the fourth! He goes 2-1 up. Thiem is just cracking up; he can’t handle the repeated bludgeonings that are coming his way, and his judgement seems completely shot. Crazy though it may sound, this match is currently going only one way.

11.39pm BST

Del Potro is preposterous.

He really is. It’s an utterly stunning revival, this, however it plays out in the end.

11.32pm BST

Thiem holds the opening game of the fourth to love, with one lovely scooped shot by the net, and that will help him a lot – he needed that.

11.29pm BST

Del Potro wins the third set 6-1! What a breathtaking recovery – and what on earth can we expect now? To remind you, Thiem now leads 6-1, 6-2, 1-6.

11.27pm BST

Murray and Soares have won 6-3, 6-4. The title defence continues!

11.25pm BST

Thiem is disintegrating here. He is where Del Potro was earlier, but presumably without the high temperature. I paid tribute to his cool head earlier but, as Del Potro has dialled it up and up, he’s just found it impossible to cope. Another break and Del Potro is 5-1 up. What an utterly peculiar match.

11.22pm BST

Del Potro now leads 4-1, by the way, a couple of holds later. While Murray and Soares are serving for their match …

11.21pm BST

Andrey Rublev, he of the heroics earlier, is currently back on court playing in the men’s doubles with Karen Khachanov. They’re a set up against French pair Edouard Roger-Vasselin and Julien Benneteau – with the second set going into a tiebreak. Busy day for him!

11.13pm BST

Suddenly it’s Thiem who looks like the man under the weather. Del Potro makes it 3-0 and this turnaround is, if you saw just how close he seemed to conceding earlier, absolutely remarkable.

11.10pm BST

Del Potro breaks! The crowd go wild, and he responds with a fist-pump. He’ll be feeling a whole lot better now! He leads 2-0 in the third, and this is like a completely different sport to what we were watching earlier.

11.08pm BST

There is unlikely to be a third set for Murray and Soares – who have broken and lead 4-2 in the second …

11.07pm BST

Do we have a third set on our hands now? He made slightly heavy weather of it but Del Potro holds and gets his nose in front at 1-0. The Argentinians in the crowd are vocal now. Next couple of games may be crucial.

10.58pm BST

Thiem takes the second set 6-2. And again, he isn’t looking flummoxed by the very fluctuating prospect across the court from him. He’s now a set away from his best performance at a US Open – no matter how this has come about!

10.56pm BST

Del Potro has had a fever, apparently – but took some medication earlier and it does seem to be making a belated difference …

10.54pm BST

And now Del Potro takes another game. It’s 5-2 to Thiem. The crowd are right behind him – they want to see the thriller this ought to have been – and this all bodes nicely for the third set. This is already something of a Lazarus-like recovery … he couldn’t take it further and do something special, could he?

10.50pm BST

Del Potro earns three break points against Thiem … but can’t take any of them! The third is ceded after a 22-shot rally that does, at least, bode well for the Argentinian’s improved health. He is swatting the ball superbly at times now – he just wasn’t doing that at all earlier – and while he can’t close out the game we are at least watching a tennis match now. Thiem leads 5-1 in the second.

10.45pm BST

Murray and Soares have won the first set against Lindstedt and Thompson 6-3.

10.42pm BST

Signs of life from Del Potro in the fifth game, and he gets himself off the mark for the second set. If he starts feeling better then we may yet have a contest, though it’s surely going to have to wait until Thiem has wrapped this set up.

10.37pm BST

Del Potro hadn’t dropped a set before this. It seemed as if we’d have a real ripsnorter of a game on our hands. Now he can barely win a point. Thiem wins his latest service game to love, and it’s 4-0. The muted applause of the crowd shows nobody quite knows what’s going on.

10.34pm BST

To be fair to Thiem, he can’t do a lot more than this even though there’s clearly an injury issue – we still know not what – at the other end. He breaks to 15 now and leads 3-0 in the second set. Every chance Del Potro will retire before this is done; this is no contest at all.

10.31pm BST

Murray and Soares, the defending champions of course, are easing away in that first set at 4-1 up. Thiem appears to be doing exactly that in the second set here, it’s 2-0 and Del Potro looks frustrated and knackered.

10.27pm BST

Rather less encouragement in the longevity department, now, as Thiem breaks to 30 in that opening game of the second. Murray and Soares, meanwhile, are a break of their own up in the men’s doubles – 3-1 in the first.

10.24pm BST

Del Potro did not hit a single winner in that set. He serves first in the second – a set that, no matter who wins it, will tell us a great deal about the rest of this match simply by its manner. It begins encouragingly with a wonderful, ping-ponging rally that Thiem wins after some help from the net cord.

10.22pm BST

Thiem has won the first set 6-1! Del Potro rallied a little at the end there, winning a game and then challenging Thiem at length on his service. Can he treat the next game, and indeed set, as a fresh start?

10.08pm BST

Thiem is now 5-0 up in the first set against Del Potro. I’m not sure the Argentinian is going to last the course at this rate, something is not right. We really aren’t seeing a lot of tennis today!

10.06pm BST

Jamie Murray is soon to start his third round men’s doubles match, by the way, alongside Bruno Soares. They will play Robert Lindstedt and Jordan Thompson at Armstrong.

10.01pm BST

Del Potro is having a long chat with the umpire, who has come over to see him as he sits down before the changearound – which is both odd and concerning. He doesn’t look content at all, but will continue.

10.00pm BST

Out here in the Grandstand, the shadow cleaves the court vertically rather than across the line of the net. So half the court is still in relative darkness, the other in light. The sky is bright blue, meanwhile, for it’s a beautiful day in New York. And could be an even better one for Thiem, the 24-year-old Austrian, who has eased to 3-0 up in the first now.

9.57pm BST

@bryanbros/@bryanbrothers reach their 13th US Open QF #usopen

Quite the achievement!

9.56pm BST

Well, well – Thiem breaks a misfiring Del Potro to 15 in the latter’s first service game, and takes a 2-0 lead in the opening set. Del Potro is looking fragile.

9.52pm BST

If that first game, won by Thiem, is anything to go by then this one is going to go on a very long time – and perhaps make up for the brevity of what has preceded it, if you’re feeling at all short-changed …

9.48pm BST

It looks as if, over the last couple of hours of this blog, this might be the one match we have on our hands …

9.44pm BST

Meanwhile Del Potro and Thiem are underway, the latter serving first, so we’ll keep you close to that one.

9.43pm BST

The 32-year-old has held on to beat Kasatkina 6-4, 6-4. And what a story that is – she is currently ranked down at 446 in the world after injury troubles … and had only reached the last eight here once, in 2010!

9.39pm BST

Vandeweghe, by the way, will play Pliskova in the quarters – what a match that should be, although Pliskova will take quite some stopping on current form. We’ll see Del Potro v Thiem shortly, by the way – they’re going to start that one early. No sign of that happening with Federer though.

9.37pm BST

Kasatkina is really giving it a go. Kanepi again broke and served for the match, only to be broken back again. It’s 5-4 in the second. Will the 20-year-old Russian be rewarded for her tenacity?

9.32pm BST

Meanwhile, Kasatkina and Kanepi are back on serve in the second! It’s 4-3 to Kanepi now, and that seventh game seemed to last forever. Superb comeback from Kasatkina to keep this bubbling under …

9.30pm BST

She wins 6-4, 7-6 (7-2) and that was a really commanding, mature performance in the tiebreak – and all round, really – there, finished with a booming ace! Into the last eight she goes.

9.28pm BST

Vandeweghe recovers from an early mini-break loss to go 4-2 up in the breaker. She’s three points from victory …

9.24pm BST

She holds it to love. Much better from her in this set – tiebreak upon us …

9.23pm BST

Safarova has to hold again at 5-6 now. Either there’s a tiebreak, or Vandeweghe goes through …

9.18pm BST

Safarova has just come up with a big – well, absolutely vital – hold against Vandeweghe for 5-5, even though there’s evidence she is holding back on those overheads a little but …

9.17pm BST

Kanepi is now 4-1 up in the second set against Kasatkina and threatening to run away with it. As is the theme of the day. Meanwhile the Bryans have beaten Mavrach and Pavic 4-6, 6-3, 6-4! A turnaround there!

9.15pm BST

Here is Kevin Mitchell’s report from Flushing Meadows on those Nadal and Pliskova routs we enjoyed earlier:

Related: Rafael Nadal finds champion’s form to power into US Open quarter-finals

9.12pm BST

Safarova makes one of the worst overhead volley misses you will ever see at 30-0 up and 3-4. It’s been that kind of performance from her, all told, just a bit patchy with nothing really coming together at once. Fortunately for her, it’s all put to one side and she holds to 30. It’s 4-4.

9.03pm BST

Maybe not – Vandeweghe breaks back after Safarova jams one into the tramline. We’re all square again in the second.

8.59pm BST

Just as I say that, Safarova earns two break points and then wins the second! She leads the second set 3-2. Has this got some juice left in it? A match that goes to the last would be welcome at the moment; otherwise we’ll be left hoping Federer’s start time is brought forward significantly …

8.55pm BST

It’s on serve in the second set between Vandeweghe and Safarova: 2-2. It’s been a bit patchy but they are pretty evenly matched, I’d say.

8.53pm BST

And Kanepi has taken the first set 6-4! The experienced Estonian is halfway there …

8.49pm BST

Kanepi just broke Kasatkina and served for the set … only to be broken straight back to love. That one’s back on serve at 5-4 Kanepi.

8.41pm BST

Over at Armstrong, Kasatkina and Kanepi are on serve midway through the first set. The Bryan brothers, by the way, have levelled things up at a set each.

8.38pm BST

This is already Vandeweghe’s best US Open result, incidentally. Safarova is equalling her own best showing, from 2014. Who can break new ground?

8.36pm BST

That was Tom … this is Nick in London again. Bringing you news that Vandeweghe has taken the first set 6-4!

8.30pm BST

A break point for Safarova against Vandeweghe but the American’s deep forehand forces her opponent to send her shot long. Vandeweghe holds … eventually.

8.16pm BST

Everyone’s favourite amiable ambling Argentinian, Juan Martin del Potro, is due on court soon to play the No6 seed Dominic Thiem. If Thiem goes out, there will only be two top-10 seeds left in the men’s draw – Nadal and Federer. Del Potro may be 29 and have knees and wrists made out of rice crackers but he has yet to drop a set so far in this tournament and won the whole thing back in 2009 (admittedly when his knees and wrists were made out of knees and wrists instead of the crackers).

8.08pm BST

The Bryan brothers have lost the first set of their match against Marach and Pavic. In their defence they are 39. But there’s two of them, so that makes them … 19 and a half? Because they need to run less? Safarova draws level in the women’s fourth match with Vanderweghe. It’s 2-2 in the first set and on serve.

8.03pm BST

Vandeweghe-Safarova is on serve at the moment, although the American brings up a break point for her opponent with a double fault. Some deuce-ing [LEGAL NOTE: NOT JUICING] ensues – before Vandeweghe seals the game and we’re at 2-1.

7.55pm BST

The Russian 19-year-old Andrey Rublev has reached the quarter-finals after beating the No9 seed David Goffin in straight sets. He’ll play little-known Spaniard battler Rafael Nadal. Rublev’s best performance in a grand slam prior to this was a second-round appearance at this year’s Aussie Open (and Wimbledon).

7.48pm BST

CoCo Vandeweghe is out on court as she looks to continue a great US Open for the American women. If she wins, three of the last eight (at least) will be American in the women’s draw. She’s playing Lucie Safarova, who won the doubles here this year.

7.42pm BST

Rublev is now 3-2 and a break up in the third set against the No9 seed Goffin on Louis Armstrong. If Goffin does go out – and it seems very likely – then there will be only three of the top 10 seeds left in the men’s quarter-finals. How Andy Murray and Novak Djokovic must wish they’d been fit. On the bottom half of the draw, the highest seed left is Pablo Carreño Busta, and then America’s own Sam Querry. I’m thinking the men’s semi-finals may get a slightly higher audience than the final this year…

7.36pm BST

Hello. And welcome to a sunny New York – there’s a festive atmosphere on Labor Day, America’s fifth-best public holiday. Even the woeful New York Mets are winning just across the road(ish) from Arthur Ashe. The Bryan Brothers are on court, and have won the first game of their match – they’re No5 seeds in the men’s doubles, not the force they once were but still dangerous in front of the home fans.

7.30pm BST

I’m going to hand over to Tom Lutz for a little while now – it’s teatime here. See you in a bit …

7.27pm BST

But who will Nadal play in the last eight? It looks rather like being the 19-year-old Russian prodigy Andrey Roblev at the moment – he is two sets up against David Goffin, taking them both 7-5, 7-6.

7.25pm BST

That’s probably the only game-by-game we’ll do in this blog today although I might rethink that strategy if the Federer match – currently set for midnight UK time – is brought forward significantly. I don’t know what the rules are for that, but as things stand the only tennis on Arthur Ashe between now and then will be Vandeweghe v Safarova.

7.21pm BST

Nadal: “I think I played a solid match, with not many mistakes. I know Dolgopolov can play amazing shots but at the same time a bit unpredictable. I tried to be very focused on my serve and wait for opportunities on the return.”

7.20pm BST

Dolgopolov just never clicked into gear there; lots of nice, attractive shots but not enough concentration or intensity in the rally. He was very well beaten there and Nadal will be very glad to have got this done so quickly – an hour and 41 minutes – with such a tough remainder of the week ahead.

7.19pm BST

Third set: Nadal 6-2, 6-4, 6-1 Dolgopolov* (*denotes server): Two Dolgopolov mistakes bring Nadal to within two points of victory. A third, admittedly after the ball was hit close to his body, sees him hit into the stands and Nadal has three match points! Dolgopolov saves the first … and also saves the second … and then outrallies Nadal to save the third with a cross-court backhand! He just hasn’t done that enough – if at all before then – today. A fourth match point follows and that’s saved too, Nadal skying a wide second serve. And then there’s a fifth, in what is probably the most entertaining game of the entire match. No mistake this time – Dolgopolov nets and Nadal completes the rout!

7.14pm BST

Third set: Nadal* 6-2, 6-4, 5-1 Dolgopolov (*denotes server): Dolgopolov challenges the opening point, suggesting he still has a bit of fire left, and he wins so Nadal does not have an early ace. He doesn’t win the point but one of those slick, early returns brings up 15-15. That’s about as good as it gets, though – the next three points pass off rapidly and Nadal is a game from the most routine of victories.

7.09pm BST

Third set: Nadal 6-2, 6-4, 4-1 Dolgopolov* (*denotes server): A thoroughly broken opponent whose backhand is still in good enough working order to go 15-0 up with a crisp winner down the line. The next two points go his way too and that’s a presentable little recovery. He closes out the game and is, at least, on the board for this set.

7.07pm BST

Third set: Nadal* 6-2, 6-4, 4-0 Dolgopolov (*denotes server): It will be a procession now, surely. Dolgopolov shakes his head after going well long on the first point. He then nets, and Nadal then takes us to 40-0 with an ace. He takes the game to love against a thoroughly broken opponent.

7.03pm BST

Third set: Nadal 6-2, 6-4, 3-0 Dolgopolov* (*denotes server): If Dolgopolov can’t hold here it will start to look messy. In the second point he salvages a Nadal drop shot but it’s swatted back away from him for 15-15. Two points later, a wide diagonal forehand brings up 30-30. A luscious Nadal backhand down the line, properly vintage Nadal, takes him to break point but, to his credit, Dolgopolov rallies to deuce. Dolgopolov then volleys beautifully, high and on the run, for advantage, only to again err for a second deuce. Two points later, the first an epic rally, and we have deuce number three. And two points after that Nadal, who has just murdered him on his second serve, breaks again.

6.57pm BST

Third set*: Nadal* 6-2, 6-4, 2-0 Dolgopolov (*denotes server): Nadal rattles through here to 40-0. His opponent is most definitely sagging. An ace makes sure of it.

6.53pm BST

Third set: Nadal 6-2, 6-4, 1-0 Dolgopolov* (*denotes server): What does Dolgopolov have left? He’s actually hit 12 winners to Nadal’s eight but the other stuff is what’s letting him down. He played much more consistently in the second set but Nadal simply cranked things up a touch before things could get to the wire. A wide backhand on the first point of the third is not a good sign, and nor is a netted one for 15-30. He does, however, take it up to game point with a lovely drop-volley; another wild backhand then brings up deuce and you’re reminded what a frustrating player he is. A fourth error then gives Nadal advantage; a fifth gives Nadal the break and this could get away very quickly indeed.

6.45pm BST

Second set: Nadal* 6-2, 6-4 Dolgopolov (*denotes server): Nadal serves for the second set. He gets off to a nice start by forcing an error for 15-0, and that quickly becomes 30-0 with an unreturned serve. When the same happens again, he has three set points – and takes the first with an ace! Nadal wins the second set and goes two up!

6.42pm BST

Second set: Nadal 6-2, 5-4 Dolgopolov* (*denotes server): Dolgopolov’s backhand seems to be easing him through this one, but then all of a sudden it’s 30-30. That becomes 30-40 as the Ukrainian nets during perhaps the tensest rally of the match so far, and this could be a big moment. It is one! Nadal hammers a second serve back towards Dolgopolov, and his opponent can only net. When the pressure’s on, the best players deliver – and Nadal has broken at exactly the right time.

6.39pm BST

Second set: Nadal* 6-2, 4-4 Dolgopolov (*denotes server): Dolgopolov exerts a little pressure for the first time in a while and has Nadal in a tiny bit of bother at 40-30 thanks to a couple of nice, deep backhands, but then can’t get enough on a Nadal passing shot and we stay on serve.

6.34pm BST

Second set: Nadal 6-2, 3-4 Dolgopolov* (*denotes server): And now a flawless hold from Dolgopolov. Neither man seriously threatening to break at the moment, but we’re heading towards the business end of this set now.

6.32pm BST

Second set: Nadal* 6-2, 3-3 Dolgopolov (*denotes server): Another easy enough hold to love from Nadal, although there was a long-ish rally on the third point. Cat and mouse in this set so far; it’s much closer but not that entertaining.

6.29pm BST

Second set: Nadal 6-2, 2-3 Dolgopolov* (*denotes server): Nadal queries an overrule from the umpire, who called the ball long, on the first point and turns out to be wrong. Mistakes from both men follow before Dolgopolov volleys sharply for 40-15. He can’t repeat the trick, with an attempted backhand overhead that goes wide, and Nadal gets a tiny bit of light before the Ukrainian closes it out with a winner. Serve dominating in this set.

6.25pm BST

Second set: Nadal* 6-2, 2-2 Dolgopolov (*denotes server): That’s an uneventful hold to love from Nadal, finished off with an ace.

6.22pm BST

Second set: Nadal 6-2, 1-2 Dolgopolov* (*denotes server): Dolgopolov brings up 30-0 with a lovely, flicked half-volley that Nadal can’t quite retrieve. He holds to love and it’s a nice service game of his own. Touch wood, he looks a bit more focused now – so maybe we have a match.

6.20pm BST

Second set: Nadal* 6-2, 1-1 Dolgopolov (*denotes server): A routine hold to 15, with a textbook overhead from Nadal, followed by a brilliant stop-volley two points later, sandwiched in the middle. Dolgopolov needs to threaten a bit more regularly on the Nadal serve. There was one promising game in the first set but that’s not enough.

6.16pm BST

Second set: Nadal 6-2, 0-1 Dolgopolov* (*denotes server): Can Dolgopolov find some consistency? He sparkled at times in the first set but just seemed to lack backbone. Every eyecatching shot is followed by a couple of tight or loose ones. One such mistake brings up deuce in the opening game of the second, and then Nadal earns a break point with a running, whipped forehand. That’s saved and a sweeping backhand, followed by a long Nadal return, gives Dolgopolov an important hold.

6.09pm BST

First set: Nadal* 1-1 Dolgopolov (*denotes server): Nadal eases his way to 40-0 and it seems as if Dolgopolov is keeping something back to go again in the second. He does avert the inevitable with a fine backhand return but Nadal wraps it up quickly enough. Nadal wins the first set 6-2.

6.05pm BST

First set: Nadal 5-2 Dolgopolov* (*denotes server): Nadal bludgeons a trademark forehand past Dolgopolov for 0-15 and then forces a mistake with a deep, meaty backhand. Some deftness at the net from Nadal gives him two break points at 15-40; Dolgopolov saves the first and we’re seeing a lot of decent winners in this match now. The last of them gives Nadal his second break and takes him to the verge of the set! Just 28 minutes have been played … is there something in the Flushing Meadows water today?

6.02pm BST

First set: Nadal* 4-2 Dolgopolov (*denotes server): Goffin v Rublev has now started elsewhere, so we’ll let you know how that goes. Meanwhile Nadal goes 0-15 down, but turns that into 30-15 with a delightfully clean backhand down the line after his opponent appeared to have been working him round the court. Dolgopolov slaps a fine winner in return for 30-30. Hotting up a little bit here? Perhaps, as Nadal double faults for break point … which he saves with a flashing forehand for deuce. Dolgopolov comes back and Nadal has to stave off another break point before correctly challenging a ball that was called “out” to avoid facing a third. He eventually comes through, but has been properly tested at last.

5.53pm BST

First set: Nadal 3-2 Dolgopolov* (*denotes server): And now a nice, confidence-boosting hold to love from Dolgopolov, sealing it with an ace. Some flashy moments in this one but little real rhythm so far.

5.51pm BST

First set: Nadal* 3-1 Dolgopolov (*denotes server): Nadal is pegged back from 40-0, Dolgopolov bringing applause with another flashing backhand winner. Dolgopolov is a curious player, fun to watch but very inconsistent. At deuce, Nadal wins a fun point at the net with a sharp volley; then his opponent proves the point by going long under little pressure.

5.45pm BST

First set: Nadal 2-1 Dolgopolov* (*denotes server): Nadal has not had to do a great deal for the points he’s won yet, and two errors gift him a chance at 30-30. Another hands him a first break point of the match – and he takes it when Dolgopolov stretches near the net and hits long! Bit of a present, that.

5.42pm BST

First set: Nadal* 1-1 Dolgopolov (*denotes server): Dolgopolov fails to get a consequential return on either of Nadal’s first two serves and then, after the longest rally so far, puts a forehand into the right tramline. He then nets and Nadal holds to love.

5.40pm BST

First set: Nadal 0-1 Dolgopolov* (*denotes server): Dolgopolov levels at 15-15 with a breathtaking double-handed crosscourt backhand winner, and then finds the line with another. He’s happy to gamble and take the ball early, almost on the half-volley; it doesn’t quite pay off in the next point but, two later, he holds serve in decent enough fashion.

5.36pm BST

Nadal will be hard to miss, even in this shadow – he’s clad in a fluorescent pink shirt and headband. His Ukrainian opponent is also brightly attired in some sort of orange and yellow getup for this first ever best-of-five between these two. We’ll go game by game for this one, starting shortly …

5.28pm BST

Nadal is out on court – and got quite the reception when he entered. Dolgopolov is too, and looks smiley and relaxed. Today’s rattling along at quite a pace … can these two provide a match we can really get our teeth into?

5.22pm BST

“The changing of the guard is going to come at some stage. It could be next yr but I predict it will take a few more” @rogerfederer #usopen

At least one of these two won’t make the final this year, although they are a great bet to meet in the last four. How long can they go on for?

5.18pm BST

Nadal has dropped two sets so far in the US Open; Dolgopolov, the world No63, has ceded three – two of them in a first-round epic against Jan-Lennard Struff. Nadal leads the head-to-head 6-2, so is obviously hot favourite but his opponent can be expected to have his moments …

5.12pm BST

Pliskova will play either Vendeweghe or Safarova in the last eight. Next up on Arthur Ashe is Nadal v Dolgopolov, which we will try and cover game-by-game. Hopefully they won’t be too long; perhaps another 20 minutes or so …

5.09pm BST

Pliskova: “I wanted to try and play a little better, [my last match] helped me through tough moments. I think [Brady] was probably a bit nervous and I tried to take advantage of that.”

5.08pm BST

She beats Brady in just 46 minutes. It was in no doubt from the fourth game onwards, really. If she can play with this kind of freedom and control, don’t rule her out of coming out on top of the pile.

5.02pm BST

And as sure as night follows day, Brady now has to serve to stay in the match – for a little while longer, at least. Pliskova is up 6-1, 5-0.

5.00pm BST

Pliskova leads 4-0 and this is as good as over. She can win the title on this form, no doubt about that, although sterner tests lie ahead. She’s timing everything perfectly, finding the lines, and there is a good chance this could be done within 50 minutes.

4.54pm BST

Brady hits the occasional lovely, clean winner but there has just been no rhythm from her, and Pliskova is quite clearly seeing the ball better in this confusing half-and-half light. The No1 seed has just broken in the second game of the second set, sealing it with a brilliant backhand, and leads 2-0.

4.51pm BST

Do send your emails and tweets in as we go, by the way – addresses above. Let’s talk. At the moment the tennis out on Arthur Ashe is remarkably routine and it will take quite something from Brady to turn it into a contest.

4.46pm BST

Pliskova wins the first set 6-1. The little glimmer for Brady was nothing more than that … Pliskova just purred along throughout that set, that tiny wobble in her first service game aside, and looks well on course here.

4.40pm BST

Brady is off the mark, having saved two break points to get out of a considerable hole – that’ll help her and, hopefully, the contest too although her opponent still looks to be well in the groove.

4.36pm BST

At this rate this’ll be done as quickly as it started. Pliskova breaks again and then holds to love with the minimum of fuss. Brady has made no impact. Pliskova leads 4-0.

4.30pm BST

Brady, from Pennsylvania, has an evidently sunny disposition and a bright return of serve too. She works her way to a break-back point, and then another, but the rather more inscrutable Pliskova gutses it out and goes 2-0 up. Next few games might tell us if we have a genuine contest or not …

4.24pm BST

And that shadow makes an impact as Brady, despite firing one nice clean winner, makes several mistakes in her opening service game and goes down a break.

4.23pm BST

Brady scraped past Monica Niculescu by the skin of her teeth last time out, in a third-set tie break. She’s serving first here against Pliskova, with one half of the court shrouded in heavy shadow. There may well be mistakes here early on given the sharp contrast in light.

4.19pm BST

Pliskova and Brady are hitting up now, so it shouldn’t be long. Can Pliskova edge closer to – at the very least – emulating last year’s final appearance?

The match between David Goffin and Andrey Rublev will probably be the first men’s one to start today, over at Louis Armstrong, but a doubles tie needs to be completed first.

4.14pm BST

Yesterday was, ultimately, one to celebrate an old hand in the form of Venus Williams. Will we be able to say the same today? The two-time champion Rafael Nadal certainly hopes so, and the men’s No1 seed can park himself in the quarter-finals by beating Alexandr Dolgopolov later on. Victory would bring the prospect of a semi-final against, yes, Roger Federer (who is also in action later, against Philipp Kohlschreiber, but almost certainly after we’ve wrapped this blog up here in London) … but it would be wise not to get ahead of ourselves.

Not least because first of all we’ll see the women’s top seed, Karolina Pliskova, in action against Jennifer Brady. The American world No93 has looked good so far and you wouldn’t want to rule out an upset, particularly given that Pliskova has wobbled once or twice in the earlier rounds, having to battle back from a set down in her last two matches. The winner of that one will play Coco Vandeweghe or Lucie Safarova; they’re on later too, and in fact the entire quarter-final lineup will be known by the time today’s schedule is ticked off.

1.52pm BST

Nick will be here shortly. Here’s the singles order of play for Monday afternoon in New York:

Arthur Ashe Stadium (from 11am local/4pm BST)
Karolina Pliskova (Cze) [1] v Jennifer Brady (US)
Rafael Nadal (Esp) [1] v Alexandr Dolgopolov (Ukr)
Coco Vandeweghe (US) [20] v Lucie Safarova (Cze)

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Aug 27

West Bromwich Albion v Stoke City: Premier League – as it happened

Peter Crouch salvaged a point for Stoke after an error by Ahmed Hegazi, whose West Brom side had taken the lead through Jay Rodriguez

3.24pm BST

All square, then, and it’s a fair result although West Brom will be the ones with all the regret. They were pretty comfortably in control after Rodriguez’s goal but then Hegazi, who was very good in all else that he did, made a horrible error and Crouch popped up to equalise. There were flickers at either end after that, particularly from Choupo-Moting for Stoke, but neither side can really complain at the outcome.

Not as bad as all that in the end, eh? You can keep your Chelsea 2-0 Everton, just supposing a game like that had ever existed. And you can now join Daniel Harris for Liverpool v Arsenal via the link below. Enjoy that, and it’s goodbye from me!

Related: Liverpool v Arsenal: Premier League – live!

3.20pm BST

And now it is, indeed, over.

3.19pm BST

90+3 min: McClean now does well on the left and fizzes a difficult ball in for Rondon, who slices it all the way out for a throw-in. This game is now by some distance the best it’s been, but it’s going to be over in a minute.

3.19pm BST

90+2 min: Sobhi tricks to the byline but Livermore nods his dinked cross away … only into the path of Fletcher, 25 yards out, who senses a fairytale of his very own but sees a harmless first-time shot blocked.

3.16pm BST

90 min: We will have four minutes of stoppage time.

3.15pm BST

89 min: Burke immediately puts in a nice, deep cross for McClean, who drills a volley into the ground and into a defender.

3.14pm BST

88 min: Allen is booked now for a foul on Rodriguez. West Brom will take the respite as Stoke have been crisper and more threatening than at any point in the second half since equalising. And now Burke comes on in place of Rodriguez for his debut. Fairytale imminent?

3.13pm BST

87 min: What a chance for Choupo-Moting! Shaqiri’s cross beats both Nyom and Dawson, who were occupied by Crouch, and the Cameroonian brings the ball down at the far post. He has space to get a shot away, but lashes it wide!

3.11pm BST

85 min: Zouma goes in search of said winner, letting fly again. It’s a good couple of yards wide but interests Foster enough to provoke a dive, and the away fans “ooooh” in such a way that suggests they didn’t have the angle we did.

3.10pm BST

84 min: Rondon is booked for a high foot on Fletcher. Can anyone find a winner? The ante has certainly been upped and you wouldn’t rule it out.

3.09pm BST

83 min: If you want a visual of the equaliser, it reminded me a bit of that famous Koscielny/Szczesny to-do when Arsenal lost to Birmingham in the League Cup final. Stoke have the wind in their sails now and Allen fizzes a cross-shot in from the right that Foster has to repel.

3.07pm BST

82 min: Two goals here, though, eh? Was there ever any doubt?

3.06pm BST

81 min: West Brom will be kicking themselves and Pulis will be fuming. Stoke had offered nothing since going behind and Albion appeared to be getting stronger. One lapse in an otherwise watertight performance, and here we are.

3.05pm BST

That one came from nowhere too! And … ohhhhh … what a mistake by the otherwise immaculate Hegazi! Foster has a relatively simple job of collecting a delivery from the left but Hegazi, for no reason at all, wafts a foot at it and the ball ricochets up away from them both. It leaves Crouch, lurking behind, with the very simplest of headers from three yards. It seems Hegazi didn’t hear Foster’s call – and what an un-West Brom-like error that was.

3.03pm BST

77 min: Shawcross defends that one and Yacob makes a total hash of his subsequent attempt at the spectacular. And moments later …

3.02pm BST

76 min: Rondon, working hard as ever without posing a direct goal threat, scurries down the channel and wins another corner. Crouch wins two consecutive headers to get it out, but McClean drills it back in from range and it deflects out for yet another flag kick.

3.00pm BST

74 min: Not quite, but Rodriguez meets it at the far post and, although the header never looks a great threat, it actually bounces out off the top of the bar. That’s the prompt for James McClean to replace Phillips.

2.59pm BST

73 min: Ooops, Butland has a relatively simple gather as a long pass drifts beyond Phillips but he takes his eye off it and it slips away for a right-sided corner. Will he be made to pay?

2.58pm BST

72 min: In an alternative universe, Chelsea are still two up against Everton.

2.56pm BST

70 min: Barry wins the ball from Shaqiri with the cleanest tackle you will ever see. He then plays a loose pass but, no mistake, he has been very good here. His midfield partner, Morrison, is now replaced by Claudio Yacob, while Stoke bring on the attack-minded Sobhi for Cameron.

2.55pm BST

68 min: Crouch leaps to meet a delivery from Pieters and, even though the ball doesn’t trouble the goal, there may be some small encouragement there.

2.53pm BST

Good to see West Brom are well on their way to the magical forty-point mark. They might be able to drop the intensity in January this year

It is something to aim for.

2.53pm BST

67 min: Headed away by Shawcross – but Albion are seeking blood.

2.52pm BST

66 min: Could have been two – should have been two? Hegazi meets a free-kick six yards out, gets it on target … but Butland flips it over sharply! Another corner.

2.51pm BST

66 min: “This game isn’t boring! It’s one for the purists. Why are we so reliant on goals as a form of stimulation? What about a nice firm pass? Or a well taken throw-in?” quips Dan Osborn. Who was it that said goals are overrated?

2.50pm BST

64 min: It’s going to be a difficult half hour for Stoke now. They’ve dominated the ball here but chances have been few and far between as it is. Crouch might be a necessary means of mixing things up.

2.49pm BST

62 min: Didn’t see that coming, did we? West Brom are just so good at finding a way, even if there are elements of their game that you wouldn’t watch if it was on in your back garden. Peter Crouch immediately comes on for the very quiet Jese.

2.48pm BST

From nothing! It’s great work from the excellent Nyom, who sprints beyond the puffing Shaqiri on the right and whips in a fine cross that goes beyond Rondon and bounces up for Rodriguez, anticipating perfectly, to thud a header beyond Butland!

2.46pm BST

60 min: Choupo-Moting looks for space in a pocket in front of the box but Barry, imperious here, nudges him away.

2.45pm BST

59 min: Sky have just apologised for technical issues preventing them showing replays but, honestly, there has been nothing in this second half to replay.

2.43pm BST

57 min: And because the floodgates are opening in my mailbox, if nowhere else, this from Adam Timmins:

“You gotta love the fact that the reason Stoke got rid of Pulis was because they ‘wanted to move up to the next level’, and since then have done – to quote Tommy Lee Jones in Men in Black – ‘precisely, d**k’.”

2.42pm BST

56 min: Charles Antaki wonders something that I, too, sometimes wonder: “Strip determinism – I wonder if the dullness of the game is caused in any sort of magical-thinking way by the simple dullness of these two sides’ strips? Red stripe on white. Dark blue strip on white. Yes, I know that they’re historical and authentic. But this are also usually the cheapest kits you can buy when trying to equip a park team on a no-budget basis. Perhaps it’s playing on the teams’ minds.”

2.41pm BST

55 min: Laurence from Winchester has bad news for us – “JR has offered to be the hex but ‘ain’t no way there are going to be goals scored’ is in fact a double negative So JR is about as committed to his statement as these teams are to actually scoring in this game.”

2.40pm BST

54 min: Choupo-Moting is harshly penalised when the ball pops up onto his arm after a low Cameron cross, and that little glimmer fades for Stoke.

2.39pm BST

52 min: Rodriguez is booked for a take-it-for-the-team foul on Pieters, who was charging towards the West Brom area. The free kick comes to nothing, so job done.

2.36pm BST

50 min: Phillips’ delivery is decent but Shawcross gets it away, and Phillips is caught offside when the ball is returned to him.

2.36pm BST

49 min: Rodriguez gets into more space down the left but runs into trouble as he nears the box. Fletcher has tracked him and comes away from the ball. West Brom look a bit brighter on the ball in these early stages, with a few more runners. Now they win a corner kick via Brunt …

2.34pm BST

48 min: Shaqiri produces a couple of nice stepovers but can’t outfox the very solid Hegazi, who is in West Brom’s team to stay, I think.

2.33pm BST

47 min: Some early purpose from the Baggies but Cameron snuffs out a Rodriguez sortie, before Rodriguez does similar against Shaqiri at the other end.

2.31pm BST

No changes. No surprises.

2.27pm BST

Still here? The second half is coming up. Echoing the earlier point by JR, I wonder if Oliver Burke will come on later for WBA. Fine talent and a shame it didn’t work out in Leipzig. One of his problems there was his “defensive hard drive” – but presumably it’s been loaded up enough to satisfy Pulis.

2.19pm BST

JR lends us a hand: “This one’s going to end 0-0 isn’t it? You can admit it. Maybe this game needs for someone to confidently say ‘This game will end goalless’ in order to hex themselves and then look foolish when they are proven wrong. I’ll be glad to volunteer. But seriously, ain’t no way there are going to be any goals scored in this game.”

Happy to leave the hexing to someone else after writing this on Friday. Ipswich went on to lose.

2.17pm BST

Pretty much to the letter of what you’d expected, really. West Brom not threatening much beyond set pieces, Stoke having more of the ball but finding it tough to break them down. Zouma’s deflected shot, very well saved by Foster, is as close as we’ve come. Surely there’ll be a clear chance or two after the break. If that doesn’t persuade you to stick with us, nothing will!

2.15pm BST

45 min: Nyom has probably been the best player of this half. He mops up again on West Brom’s right.

2.14pm BST

44 min: Livermore tries to slide Rodriguez down the line but it’s just too far in front of him. West Brom’s threat has increased although that is not saying much at all.

2.13pm BST

43 min: It’s cleared though, and now Choupo-Moting can break. He finds Shaqiri, who quickly spots Jese’s run, but he’s crowded out and skews the ball behind under pressure from – again – Nyom.

2.12pm BST

41 min: West Brom appeal for handball when a Jese shot pings up off Brunt but it never really looked on. Phillips then finds some rare space at the other end but nobody attacks the cross … and then he runs onto a Brunt delivery at the far post, drills it across and Shawcross has to thump the ball behind for a corner. Better.

2.10pm BST

41 min: Hypothetically, what if Chelsea were 2-0 up against Everton thanks to a Morata header?

2.09pm BST

39 min: Rodriguez causes brief interest with a nice ball from the left but Shawcross clears; then Nyom spoons a cross up for Butland to claim. West Brom looking a bit livelier now but they have done nothing with the ball in open play.

2.08pm BST

38 min: Same again, almost – Brunt aims for Dawson round the back stick and Butland is up but can’t claim properly. This time, though, it is deemed that he was fouled.

2.07pm BST

37 min: Dawson wins a corner on the right after Stoke can’t clear a free kick. West Brom haven’t done a lot going forwards since the first few minutes so this is a welcome chance. Brunt again goes fairly deep and Butland can only get a finger to it on the stretch, but Cameron is on hand to help it away from any interested parties. And now Rondon wins a free kick near to the same corner flag …

2.04pm BST

34 min: Superb play from Fletcher sends Jese scampering away down the left but Nyom marshals him really well, holds him up and eventually confuses him into running the ball out of play.

2.03pm BST

33 min: Nyom is heavily involved again, and audibly yelps as Pieters scythes him down after being beaten to the ball. Yellow card for the Stoke man. No real complaints either.

2.02pm BST

32 min: Dangerous Stoke free kick on the right – in theory, anyway, but Shaqiri’s underdone delivery is headed away by Rodriguez, who had conceded it.

2.00pm BST

31 min: Nyom fouls Jese with an outstretched arm across the face, causing a pretty dramatic reaction, which itself prompts anger from the Cameroon international. All are now up and about again.

1.59pm BST

30 min: The tempo has dropped here but it should be said that Stoke – for whom Choupo-Moting heads wide from a Martins Indi cross – look the likelier.

1.57pm BST

28 min: If I told you Chelsea were playing Everton and Cesc Fabregas had just put them one up, would you believe me?

1.56pm BST

26 min: Stoke turn West Brom’s midfield around the the first time, really, and Shaqiri finds Cameron in a good position on the right. His shot lacks any kind of conviction though, and is sidefooted well wide of the near post.

1.55pm BST

25 min: Save by Foster! Zouma carries the ball a long way upfield, looks a little surprised, and then lets fly from 25 yards. It deflects off Barry, spins up in the air and is going to drop into the net before the West Brom ‘keeper reacts well to tip over. The corner results in a rather strange blowing of the whistle that baffles everybody.

1.53pm BST

24 min: Barry again distributes well and finds Rondon, who has dropped off, to feet. Rondon then looks to play in someone running beyond him. But there isn’t anyone running beyond him.

1.52pm BST

23 min: I’m enjoying this game, I genuinely am, but I do think it will be decided by a single goal at best.

1.50pm BST

21 min: I can hear chants of “Tony Pulis, your football is sh*t” from the travelling wags. I think their banter is worse – Stoke wouldn’t be here without him.

1.49pm BST

20 min: Phillips gets to the byline for the first time after receiving a lovely switch from Barry, but crosses into the side netting.

1.48pm BST

18 min: Choupo-Moting engages Nyom, this time on the left of the box, and goes over once more. Again nothing doing although I think the fall was more down to his own contortion in trying to wriggle past the defender.

1.48pm BST

18 min: Engaging stuff so far then, without much in the way of chances really. There’s a bit of dissent at the moment regarding a Stoke throw-in, which is eventually taken without incident after a spot of pointing and shouting.

1.45pm BST

16 min: In the meantime, Stoke scramble to clear a West Brom long throw and then an inviting Nyom cross is gathered by Butland. Somebody could have attacked that.

1.45pm BST

15 min: JR writes – “Of course every Premier League game is available here in the U.S. (though this year NBC has forced us to pay $50 for what last year was free, but I digress) so if, for example, there was another game beside West Brom v Stoke happening I might just be keeping half an eye on that one.

“Most of my attention will be on the Baggies though as they’re my club. Wonder if, when, or how much we’ll see of Oliver Burke.”

1.43pm BST

14 min: Shaqiri is given too much space to cut in on his left foot, but doesn’t make a good connection and is fortunate to win a corner via a deflection. He takes it himself and Zouma, rising with Hegazi, looks for a moment as if he could power it home – but he is distracted just enough by his rival’s jump and loops his header over.

1.42pm BST

12 min: Martins Indi bundles Rondon over and West Brom take the free kick quickly. Their approach has been more about speed and brawn then poise, so far, but it’s making for a fun tussle. The move comes to nothing here, mind you.

1.41pm BST

11 min: Now West Brom’s third corner. It’s been a lively enough start here and the tempo is good. Brunt goes over again, unfurls that left foot … but crosses beyond the back post and out. What a waste. Unusual; his set pieces are usually a huge plus.

1.39pm BST

9 min: Stoke win a corner now, which Shawcross volleys towards goal. It’s stuffed but Martins Indi gets a toe on it, diverting the ball not that far wide of an unguarded far post.

1.38pm BST

8 min: Hegazi leaves Choupo-Moting on the floor. Think he fouled him, but nothing is given. Nothing is given moments later, either, when Choupo-Moting breaks into the box on the right, goes down under Brunt’s challenge – but no penalty! Right decision, should have been booked for a dive.

1.37pm BST

7 min: Any success for Stoke might depend on how long they are able to retain possession with their more technical players. They have a long spell on the ball now, building patiently, and at the end of it Foster has to come out alertly to punch Shaqiri’s cross away from Pieters.

1.35pm BST

5 min: It’s whipped in by Phillips, nicks off someone at the near post, and Martins Indi has to concede another corner on the other side – West Brom’s right. Brunt swings this one in … and Morrison gets a little bit of space at the back post, but he sees it a bit late and glances wide.

1.34pm BST

4 min: Rondon holds off Shawcross – should be a good battle, that – and wins a corner from the centre back …

1.32pm BST

2 min: Butland has to clear ahead of – I think – Barry after some dithering from Pieters. West Brom have started the better, if it means anything yet.

1.31pm BST

1 min: Both sides wearing white stripes and white shorts, which on a sunny day isn’t the most convenient look. For onlookers, anyway.

1.30pm BST

Let’s do this.

1.30pm BST

Don’t be sniffy about West Brom v Stoke. These two hate each other. Could be juicy.

Nick knows. Not this Nick, that Nick.

1.26pm BST

The teams are striding out at the Hawthorns. It’s a beautiful day. Nearly ready …

1.25pm BST

Matt Loten writes: “I have a proposal: how about we all mutually agree, whatever one’s personal stylistic preferences, to appreciate Tony Pulis for preserving the art of defending in an era when many managers treat it with disdain? I fully understand scoring goals is the aim of the game, but keeping them out is just as vital, and watching a well-drilled backline repel the league’s top talents is satisfying in its own right. Klopp, Guardiola and their ilk seem to think that defensive ability is irrelevant if you have stellar forwards, and perhaps Pulis goes too far the other way, but there’s no reason it should be an either/or choice between thrilling forward play and competent defending.”

It’s an interesting point. Will specialist defenders even exist in a decade?

1.18pm BST

Mark Hughes: “Our form’s good at the moment in my view. Beating Arsenal was a continuation of that form, I’m pleased with the level of performance we’re putting in at the moment.”

Tony Pulis: “It’d be absolutely fantastic [to go second] but we have to get through a tough game, a local derby, we have to be right on it and make sure we’re not complacent at all.”

1.06pm BST

“It feels very unnatural to see a Tony Pulis team field only half as many centre-backs (Dawson, Hegazi) as his opponents (Zouma, Shawcross, Cameron, Martins Indi),” points out Doremus Schafer.

By the way, Hegazi has been good so far hasn’t he? Scored the winner against Bournemouth, impressed against Burnley. I watched him at the Africa Cup of Nations in January and his name was seared into my eardrums by Jonathan Wilson, often of this parish, who couldn’t stop raving about him. Wilson was, of course, right.

12.49pm BST

Not to put a dampener on things but I think these two sides are perfect examples of the frustration and ultimate futility that life beneath the Premier League’s top six – plus whatever odd faction of their own Everton are in – and the others involves these days. I tried to explain that, using the context of West Brom, in their pre-season preview a couple of weeks back:

Related: Premier League 2017-18 preview No19: West Bromwich Albion | Nick Ames

12.36pm BST

West Brom: Foster, Nyom, Dawson, Hegazi, Brunt, Phillips, Livermore, Barry, Morrison, Rodriguez, Rondon. Subs: Yacob, Myhill, McClean, Burke, Chadli, Field, Kane Wilson.

Stoke: Butland, Zouma, Shawcross, Cameron, Martins Indi, Fletcher, Allen, Pieters, Shaqiri, Jese, Choupo-Moting. Subs: Johnson, Berahino, Adam, Crouch, Krkic, Sobhi, Grant.

12.26pm BST

This is an MBM of West Brom v Stoke, not Chelsea v Everton. That match isn’t on telly on the UK so it doesn’t actually exist. However, the Darren Fletcher Derby very much does so here we are, on a very bright and perky Sunday lunchtime, for a clash that should tell us plenty about which of these sides is more likely to finish 13th.

That’s not quite fair. West Brom are, as they say, “two for two” and were efficient in 1-0 wins over Bournemouth and Burnley. They are making use of quite a kind early run of fixtures and you wouldn’t bet against Tony Pulis, against his old club, pulling off a similar kind of stunt here. They might not have brought in all the players they wanted yet this pre-season, but West Brom and Pulis just keep on finding a way to make it all happen.

10.56am BST

Nick will be here soon enough. Until then, read our match preview:

Related: West Bromwich Albion v Stoke City: match preview

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Aug 25

Mick McCarthy’s Ipswich finding a way back to good times after last year’s low

Four wins out of four have put Ipswich on top of the Championship despite injuries and are helping to dispel memories of negativity last season

Mick McCarthy had just seen Ipswich Town go second in the Championship when it was put to him the only team sitting above them, on goal difference at that, was a Neil Warnock-managed Cardiff City. “Two old farts who know nothing about the game, hey?” he said. “I’ll have to get my iPad out now.”

The wit may not change but there is a sense of transformation around Ipswich. A 2-0 win over Brentford put them into the top two and brought up maximum points from their first four games; if Fulham are beaten at Portman Road on Saturday it will be the club’s best start to a season and the remove from 2016-17, an unhappy campaign that brought widespread calls for McCarthy’s head, could hardly be more pronounced.

Related: James McArthur breaks down Ipswich young bloods to take Palace through

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Aug 25

Europa League group stage draw – as it happened

Arsenal will play BATE Borisov, Cologne and Crvena Zvevda, while Everton face Lyon, Atalanta and Apollon Limassol

12.51pm BST

Group A: Villarreal, Maccabi Tel-Aviv, Astana, Slavia Prague.

Group B: Dynamo Kiev, Young Boys, Partizan Belgrade, Skenderbeu.

Related: Europa League group stage: Arsenal face Cologne and Everton meet Lyon

12.41pm BST

I’ll post the full groups in a bit but a recap of Arsenal and Everton’s fates:

Group E: Lyon, Everton, Atalanta, Apollon Limassol.

12.38pm BST

And we finish with Vardar Skopje of Macedonia – they complete Group L with Zenit, Real Sociedad and Rosenborg.

12.37pm BST

Vitesse into Group K with Lazio, Nice and Zulte Waregem.

12.37pm BST

Ostersunds, the Swedish surprise package, get a nice Group Jn with Athletic Bilbao, Hertha Berlin and Zorya Luhansk!

12.37pm BST

FC Zlin, of Czech Rep, are in Group F with Copenhagen, Lokomotiv Moscow and Sheriff.

12.36pm BST

Konyaspor enter Group I with Salzburg, Marseille and Vitoria SC.

12.36pm BST

Apollon Limassol will play in Group E with Lyon, Everton and Atalanta.

12.35pm BST

Red Star Belgrade join Arsenal, BATE Borisov and Cologne in Group H! That IS tasty!

12.35pm BST

Lugano are in Group G with Plzen, FCSB and Beer Sheva.

12.34pm BST

AEK Athens go with Austria Vienna, AC Milan and Rijeka in Group D.

12.34pm BST

Istanbul Basaksehir join Group C with Braga, Ludogorets and Hoffenheim …

12.33pm BST

Skenderbeu, of Albania, top off Group B with Dynamo Kiev, Young Boys and Partizan Belgrade. Hang on, that’s Albania v Serbia …..

12.33pm BST

Here we go then. Slavia Prague complete Group A with Villarreal, Maccabi Tel Aviv and Astana.

12.32pm BST

We await Pot 4. Would Arsenal fans like something a bit more exotic here? BATE is a bit Champions League, even though they haven’t played one another, and Cologne is fairly standard.

12.31pm BST

Zulte Waragem are added to Group K with Lazio and Nice, which leaves Rosenborg to join Zenit and Real Sociedad in Group L.

12.31pm BST

Sheriff Tiraspol link up with Copenhagen and Lokomotiv Moscow in Group F.

12.30pm BST

Zorya Luhansk go into Group J with Athletic Bilbao and Hertha Berlin.

12.30pm BST

Vitoria SC join Marseille and Salzburg in Group I.

12.29pm BST

Cologne join Arsenal and BATE in Group H. Currently I think Arsenal would take this.

12.29pm BST

Atalanta, a bit of a dark horse I reckon, join Everton and Lyon in an exciting-looking Group E!

12.28pm BST

Rijeka plop into Group D with AC Milan and Austria Vienna.

12.28pm BST

Hoffenheim join Braga and Ludogorets in Group C; Hapoel Beer Sheva are with FSCB and Viktoria Plzen in Group G.

12.27pm BST

Partizan Belgrade join Dynamo Kiev and Young Boys in Group B.

12.27pm BST

Pot three! And here we go with Astana in Group A – Villarreal and Maccabi Tel Aviv with them.

12.26pm BST

We finish with Group F, Lokomotiv Moscow in with Copenhagen.

12.25pm BST

Real Sociedad are in Group L with Zenit … and Everton in Group E with Lyon! Tough!

12.24pm BST

And now Nice come out of the bag – they’re in with Group K with Lazio. Tasty, too!

12.24pm BST

Hertha Berlin will play in Group J with Athletic Bilbao. Not terrible.

12.23pm BST

A trip to Belarus for the Gunners, then! Cracking on, Marseille go into Group I with Salzburg.

12.23pm BST

FCSB (Steaua Bucharest as was) go into Group G with Viktoria Plzen; BATE Borisov land in Group H with Arsenal!

12.22pm BST

Ludogorets join Braga in Group C; Austria Vienna are in Group D with AC Milan!

12.21pm BST

Next out are Young Boys, into Group B with Dynamo Kiev.

12.21pm BST

Onto Pot Two. Maccabi Tel Aviv, coached by Jordi Cruyff, enter Group A with Villarreal.

12.20pm BST

Going along at a nice speed, this. Lazio will be in Group K and Zenit St Petersburg in Group L – so that wraps up Pot One.

12.19pm BST

Salzburg lead the way in Group I. Athletic Bilbao pop into Group J.

12.18pm BST

Viktoria Plzen enter Group G, and Arsenal are in Group H.

12.17pm BST

AC Milan go into Group D, Lyon into Group E and Copenhagen into Group F.

12.16pm BST

First out in pot one are Villarreal! They will play in Group A. Dynamo Kiev will helm. Braga in Group C.

12.15pm BST

Ok, we’re into pure draw stuff – starting now …

12.15pm BST

“Hoffenheim are probably one of the stronger teams outside of pot 1. One for Everton and Arsenal to avoid?” asks Alexandra Johnson.

Definitely! They are better than they showed against Liverpool.

12.12pm BST

Some nice points from Matt Loten in the meantime:

“I think, as well, that people forget that the general standard of football across Europe, particularly in the major leagues, is of such a high level these days that there are some genuinely excellent teams in this competition. Last year’s semi-finalists were Ajax, Lyon, Celta Vigo and Manchester United: all teams with distinct styles and exciting individual talents. Add in the fact the likes of Villareal, Fiorentina, Roma, Olympiacos and others had fallen before we even reached that stage, and it’s hard to argue their isn’t plenty of entertainment and talent to be found in the Europa League. Not to mention, it’s a much more difficult competition to predict, which is always a good thing.”

12.11pm BST

Uefa general secretary

Claudio Ranieri Jr
Giorgio Marchetti is now introducing proceedings so we’re really not far off now …

12.09pm BST

Eric Abidal is now up on the stage too – so I suspect he’ll be involved in the fun that’s to come.

12.07pm BST

@NickAmes82 Gooner living in Berlin so Arsenal vs. Hertha will do me very nicely

That’d be a very nice tie too.

12.07pm BST

By the way, the draw ceremony has begun here. Henrik Larsson has taken to the stage and going through the usual awkward-ish chit-chat about his career.

12.06pm BST

Ceri Jackson wants a big push from England’s representatives: “Hopefully after United winning it last year and getting to the champions league this year we will see English teams take the competition more seriously. Wouldn’t be surprised if Arsenal or Everton really went for it this year.”

12.04pm BST

This is the ball they will be playing with:

New season. New ⚽.
Introducing the new 2017/18 #UEL official match ball by @adidasfootball. #HereToCreate

12.02pm BST

From Sandra Nunez: “I agree with you about the most interesting teams but maybe I add Slavia Praha to your list. They have some interesting players like Halil Altıntop, Ruslan Rotan or Van Buren. After the disappointment of not being in Champions League the will want to do their best in Europa League.”

Good shout. And isn’t Danny there now, too?

12.00pm BST

Martin Turnbull writes: “I am with you. The UCL is so predictable and ever more slanted to the big countries, getting more so next year. Might as well just have six teams from the big five in the UCL and chuck everyone else in the Europa.”

We’ll almost be at that stage a year from now, of course. Let’s enjoy this season because the pause button is about to be hit.

11.57am BST

If I say Zulte Waregem, you say…? Honestly curious to know whether the Farmers already ring a bell (and if so, which) across the Channel

What do you say?

11.50am BST

Ahem. Here are some of the interesting names to look out for in the draw:

Ostersunds: Swedish minnows who, incredibly and implausibly, have made it this far under the stewardship of Englishman Graham Potter. They’re based a five-hour train ride north of Stockholm. Brilliant trip for somebody.

11.42am BST

It’s a really fun-looking draw, this. Something for everyone. The most eclectic mix I think there’s been in a major European competition for some time.

Which brings me to something that has annoyed me. I’ve seen more than one tweet from Arsenal fans – in this instance, but some Man Utd fans were similar last year – bemoaning “the state of these teams/this draw” upon viewing the posts. The state of what, exactly? The state of a draw that contains four previous European Cup winners? The state of a draw that contains teams from around 30 different countries? What you’re seeing here, like it or not, is the state of European football – and I think you’re lucky to be a part of it. The Champions League draw looks great but the prevailing thought that it means everything is one of modern football’s great tragedies; in this draw you have a brilliant and far more accurate cross-section of exactly what is going on, football-wise, on this continent. You’re implicated in it; you might even be partly responsible for it. So why not enjoy it and take an interest? If you really love football, this is a great lineup of teams and a fascinating set of challenges.

11.11am BST

The Europa League draw is here! Soon, anyway, and hopefully very soon – this one usually lacks the excruciating pageantry of the Champions League ritual, and with 48 teams in this one there is every reason to get cracking at a fair pelt. I’ll put some ramblings up shortly but for now, here are the pots. Arsenal and Everton both involved here, as if you’d forgotten:

Pot 1: Arsenal, Zenit St. Petersburg, Lyon, Dynamo Kiev, Villarreal, Athletic Bilbao, Lazio, AC Milan, Viktoria Plzen, FC Salzburg, FC Copenhagen, Braga

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Aug 13

Joe Hart: ‘I want to be an England goalkeeper playing for West Ham’

West Ham have brought in plenty of experience – and it could be the start of something, says Joe Hart, as he seeks to play at ‘the highest standard possible’

A dab of make-up cannot conceal the black eye Joe Hart is sporting as he walks into West Ham United’s press room and the topic is swiftly raised: have pre-season preparations at Rush Green taken an unsavoury turn? “Yeah, the induction was to have a fight with Andy [Carroll],” is the retort before the less sensational truth, that he had received a ball to the face while spreading to make a save, follows with appropriate haste.

If Hart had taken a punch he would probably have rolled with it. He will start his loan club’s opener at Old Trafford this afternoon, a year to the day since his absence from Pep Guardiola’s lineup against Sunderland made it abundantly clear that there would be little hope of a future under the current Manchester City regime, and he does not hide the fact his situation is imperfect. Last season’s hurriedly arranged spell at Torino was a means to an end; this summer, at 30 years old, he would have preferred to set down roots than be lent for another 12 months. City would have sold him for £25m but no bid was forthcoming; some players might have sulked but Hart is a pragmatist and, besides, the stakes were too high in a World Cup year. He took the temporary move that offered “the highest standard possible” and the challenge in east London was one he welcomed.

Related: West Ham: from Hart to Hernández new boys promise much – if you can see

Related: West Ham’s Javier Hernández delights in returning to ‘my old house’

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Aug 11

Premier League 2017-18 preview No19: West Bromwich Albion | Nick Ames

Tony Pulis’ side managed only one point in their last eight games in 2016-17 and he may need to strengthen further if they are to avoid dropping back into the bottom half of the table

Guardian writers’ predicted position 12th (NB: this is not necessarily Nick Ames’ prediction but the average of our writers’ tips)

Last season’s position 10th

Related: Premier League 2017-18 fans’ previews, part 2: Manchester City to West Ham

Related: Transfer window 2017 – every deal in Europe’s top five leagues

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Aug 10

Arsène Wenger braced for toughest Arsenal season after rivals’ big spending

• Arsenal manager open to further signings but would ship out squad players
• Wenger’s 21st full campaign begins with Leicester test

Arsène Wenger expects this Premier League season to be the hardest he has encountered during his time in charge of Arsenal, saying the “spectacular” spending of rivals such as Manchester City makes the task of winning the title more challenging than ever.

Arsenal begin Wenger’s 21st full campaign in north London with a home match against Leicester City on Friday evening, and a fast start is considered vital after their failure to qualify for the Champions League last term. Manchester City have led the division’s summer spending with a £217m outlay on new signings; Wenger believes as many as seven teams could be involved in the title race but notes that Arsenal’s opponents, particularly Chelsea and Tottenham Hotspur, are not without problems.

Related: Arsenal’s Alexis Sánchez out of Premier League opener with abdominal injury

Related: Arsène Wenger confident Arsenal can prosper from Champions League absence

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Apr 23

Arsenal 2-1 Manchester City: FA Cup semi-final player ratings

Alexis Sánchez made up for an otherwise quiet performance with Arsenal’s extra-time winner, but Jesús Navas and Gaël Clichy were poor for City at full-back

GK Petr Cech 6/10 Saved crucially from Touré but should he have been out to Agüero a little more quickly when the striker seemed to overrun the ball?

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Aug 22

Steven Gerrard has edge over Frank Lampard as MLS showdown looms

The pair who left England’s Premier League for the US may face each other when LA Galaxy play New York City, although one is thriving while the other stutters

It takes something to alter the tone of a debate about the relative merits of Los Angeles and New York – cultural backwater meets cosmopolitan hub? Western cool meets east-coast hauteur? – but a poster commissioned by LA Galaxy this week spoke of the dominant intrigue behind a football rivalry that takes its first steps today.

Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard have polarised a discussion or two themselves in times past and the artwork, advertising “The British Invasion”, set the former England team-mates opposite one another in the manner of a boxing match. They may face each other for real in the colours of LA Galaxy and New York City FC at the former’s StubHub Center on Sunday and, even if arguments about their suitability as a pairing may never be untangled, it seems a clearer-cut case that at least one of Major League Soccer’s high-profile arrivals is having a positive effect on his new surroundings.

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