Rob Smyth

Author's details

Name: Rob Smyth
Date registered: October 27, 2014
URL: http://www.theguardian.com/sport/darts

Latest posts

  1. Liverpool 3-0 Middlesbrough: Premier League – as it happened — May 21, 2017
  2. Stoke City 1-4 Arsenal: Premier League – as it happened — May 13, 2017
  3. Hull 0-2 Sunderland, Leicester 3-0 Watford and more: clockwatch – as it happened — May 6, 2017
  4. Bournemouth 2-0 Swansea City: Premier League – live! — March 18, 2017
  5. West Bromwich Albion 3-1 Arsenal: Premier League – as it happened — March 18, 2017

Author's posts listings

May 21

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

After an extremely nervous start, Liverpool romped back into the Champions League with three quickfire goals either side of half-time

5.10pm BST

And here’s Andy Hunter’s match report:

Related: Liverpool seal Champions League place with victory over Middlesbrough

4.51pm BST

Peep peep! After a nervous first 45 minutes, Liverpool eased to the victory that ensures they will play in the Champions League qualifiers next season. They fully deserve it for an erratic but often exhilarating season’s work, and you suspect there will be a glory night or two at Anfield in the competition next season. Congratulations to Liverpool and City, commiserations to Arsenal. Thanks for your company throughout the Premier League season, bye!

4.48pm BST

90 min Tottenham are winning 7-1 at Hull.

4.47pm BST

89 min It’s been a bad day at two offices for Chambers: his current club Middlesbrough are losing 3-0, and as a result his parent club Arsenal will miss out on the Champions League.

4.46pm BST

88 min A bit of manbags from Moreno and Chambers, who square up and push each other over something and nothing.

4.45pm BST

87 min “Shooooooooooot” scream the crowd as Lucas receives the ball 20 yards inside his own half. At the end of a long, hard season, Liverpool are enjoying themselves, both on the pitch and in the stands.

4.43pm BST

86 min Alberto Moreno comes on for James Milner, perhaps also for a farewell appearance. Lucas takes the captain’s armband, a nice touch.

4.42pm BST

84 min The crowd urge Lucas to shoot every time he gets the ball. Instead he contributes repeatedly to a patient passing move, until the ball is moved wide to Milner. He sidefoots a terrific first-time cross that skims right across the face of goal.

4.40pm BST

83 min Daniel Sturridge comes off, to be replaced by Divock Origi.

4.39pm BST

82 min Negredo lofts a very good pass over the defence for Forshaw, who watches the ball over his shoulder but then drags his volley wide of the far post. He probably should have scored.

4.37pm BST

78 min Roberto Firmino comes off to be replaced by Lucas Leiva, the admirable old pro who may be playing his last game for Liverpool.

4.35pm BST

77 min Can’s low shot is well held by Guzan. Liverpool would like the embroidery of a fourth goal, but there isn’t the same edge to their play that there was 20 minutes ago.

4.33pm BST

76 min Crikey, Harry Kane has biffed another hat-trick for Spurs. He is turning into a monster.

4.32pm BST

75 min Just heard a rumour that Twin Peaks is back tonight. Stays on here.

4.31pm BST

74 min A Middlesbrough change: Fabio off, Daniel Ayala on. Make that two changes. Alvaro Negredo replaces the thunderingly ineffective Gestede.

4.31pm BST

73 min Sturridge lollipops Leadbitter to within an inch of his sanity and then bends one not far wide from long-range.

4.30pm BST

71 min “If, as a keeper, you plant yourself in the middle at a free-kick,” begins Stuart Ives, “A) you blind yourself from the wall; B) often you’ll leave you weak side exposed.”

Yes, fair point. What I meant, and conspicuously failed to say, is that I don’t understand why keepers plant their weight on one foot. That’s the real problem, not the positioning.

4.28pm BST

70 min Lallana’s deflected shot is comfortably saved by Guzan, whose kick downfield stays in the field of play! (And goes straight to Lovren.)

4.28pm BST

69 min “Guzan can’t keep it in the field of play,” says Joe Pearson. “Honestly, how many has he kicked directly out? Six? Seven?”

I missed that completely as well but will be keeping an eye out from hereon in. You’re welcome!

4.25pm BST

67 min Firmino plays a slick one-two with Lallana on the left and dinks a clever, flashy little ball into Wijnaldum, who slashes an acrobatic volley wide of the far post. Liverpool have played some terrific stuff since the 45th minute, with the marvellous Firmino involved in almost all their best moves.

4.24pm BST

66 min Liverpool will be dangerous outsiders in the Champions League. Their big-game record under Jurgen Klopp is tremendous, and even the best European teams won’t enjoy being harassed under the lights at Anfield. The worry for Liverpool is how it might impact upon their league form, especially as their squad isn’t the strongest.

4.22pm BST

64 min Coutinho frees Firmino in the box. His first touch is fractionally heavy, and then he tries to flick it back to Wijnaldum rather than shoot. It was nice improvisation but a Boro defender came across to clear.

4.21pm BST

63 min “Why do goalkeepers try and guess on free kicks?” says Hugh Molloy. “Just stand in the middle and you’ll save all but the best, stand on one side and play games and you can get beaten by mediocrity.” Agreed, it’s an odd and illogical approach. Peter Schmeichel often did it as well, especially in the Nou Camp.

4.20pm BST

62 min “Third goal, and I still can’t relax,” weeps Matt Dony. “This is what Liverpool have done to me when playing lower-down teams. I have lost all sense of reason.”

Yeah, you’ve reached a very special level of pessimism there.

4.18pm BST

61 min Well, that’s the top of the table settled then. Manchester City, who lead Watford 5-0, will finish third, with Liverpool in fourth and Arsenal fifth for the first time under Arsene Wenger. Thanks for your company throughout the season, bye!

4.17pm BST

59 min Gestede has been booked by Martin Atkinson, presumably for dissent.

4.16pm BST

58 min Liverpool are really enjoying themselves now. Coutinho, in the D, flips the ball up and hits a low volley that is fingertipped round the post by Guzan.

4.16pm BST

The goal came from a Middlesbrough corner. Liverpool broke, with five against two at one stage, only for Lallana to mishit his attempted pass. It didn’t matter because the ball was kept alive by Liverpool and Lallana burst into the area to receive Wijnaldum’s headed pass before sliding the ball across Guzan with his left foot.

4.14pm BST

Liverpool are running riot!

4.13pm BST

55 min There’s a triumphant din at Anfield now, and the trial has indeed turned into a party.

4.11pm BST

54 min “One more exam tomorrow and then my undergraduate degree is done,” says Billy Huband-Thompson. “‘Champions League football is more important than a good mark’. Discuss. (20 marks). Enjoying (read: enduring) the stream.”

I got 28 per cent in a Geography exam the morning after Man Utd beat Arsenal 6-2 at Highbury in 1990. The two were not entirely unrelated.

4.10pm BST

53 min Firmino’s vicious volley is heroically blocked by Friend.

4.09pm BST

That was a fine free-kick. Guzan and everyone else expected Coutinho to aim for the near side, the top-right corner; instead he wrapped his foot around the ball and whipped a bouncing free-kick into the bottom-left corner. Guzan might still have got there, but it was a lovely, disguised strike.

4.08pm BST

Philippe Coutinho ensures Liverpool will be in the Champions League (qualifiers) next season!

4.08pm BST

50 min Sturridge is pushed over 30 yards from goal by Clayton. This might be a chance for Coutinho…

4.06pm BST

49 min The early signs are that Liverpool won’t be sitting on their one-goal lead, which is surely the right approach. If this is 1-0 up after 85 minutes, it’ll be squeaky-bum time in excelsis.

4.05pm BST

48 min Jurgen Klopp literally started beating his own chest when Wijnaldum scored. I have no idea what to make of that.

4.03pm BST

47 min “Is It just me, or did Danny Sturridge look decidely grumpy to not be played in by Wijnaldum EVEN AFTER THE BALL CROSSED THE LINE?” says Drew Gough. “I picture him spending half time mumbling ‘shoulda been me’.”

Oh, I missed that. Sounds quite out of character though.

4.03pm BST

46 min Peep peep! Boro begin the second half, kicking from left to right.

3.56pm BST

“Thanks, David Forrest!” says Dennis Mumby. “I feel thoroughly vindicated, perhaps a little smug, even.”

3.56pm BST

The Sky pundits – Graeme Souness, Gary Neville and Jamie Carragher – all think Middlesbrough should have had a penalty for that challenge by Lovren on Bamford, and a red card for Lovren as well.

3.51pm BST

“Hello from Sri Lanka,” says David Forrest. “Re the guy on 27 minutes who thought the new strip looked 1970s, please see this photo of The King – it’s pure 1978!”

3.48pm BST

Liverpool are on course for the Champions League, and to hell with a very nervous first 45 minutes 33 seconds. See you soon for the second half.

3.47pm BST

It was a good goal. Firmino, with his back to goal, flicked the ball smartly round the corner to Wijnaldum, who surged into the box onto his own superb first touch and screamed a rising shot past Guzan at the near post. That came right off the sweet spot.

3.46pm BST

There’s the heavy metal football! What’s past is prologue, and Liverpool can forget their dismal first-half performance because they have scored in injury-time.

3.44pm BST

45 min Liverpool are playing chillout football when everyone expected heavy metal.

3.43pm BST

44 min Another nervous moment for Liverpool as Bamford breaks into the box on the right. He tried to abracadabra his way past Matip, with almost no room to play with by the touchline, and failed.

3.42pm BST

43 min Manchester City have done their work: they lead Watford 4-0 and will be finishing third in the table. Ten-man Arsenal still lead Everton 2-0.

3.42pm BST

41 min Middlesbrough are having an even share of the game at the moment. The nervousness around the ground is almost surreal. It’s Middlesbrough at home!

3.40pm BST

40 min “Can you play Ally’s Army at half-time?” requests Alun Pugh. “Anfield: that’s the venue of the infamous Joe Jordan handball in 1977 that cheated Wales out of a place in the World Cup Finals. I was singing “Ally’s Army” and laughing all through the 1-3 Peru match. Not that Welsh fans hold grudges or are bitter, mind.”

If you can’t bring up a grudge in an almost entirely unrelated match 40 years later, then when can you?

3.39pm BST

39 min Some more relaxed, penetrative football from Boro. Friend meanders forward, plays a one-two with Gestede and then backheels the ball into the area for Bamford. He tries to make room for a shot that deflects behind for Boro’s first corner. Mignolet punches it clear.

3.37pm BST

36 min Lallana shoots unnecessarily and optimistically from long range, bringing another comfortable save from Guzan. The crowd are so nervous, and that has definitely started to affect the players, who are shooting way too often from distance. They just need to keep their nerve, there is loads of time and they should only need one goal.

3.35pm BST

34 min Lallana almost makes something out of nothing, picking up a loose ball and surging into the area. Gibson tracks him all the way and concedes a corner, the first of the match. Excellent defending.

3.34pm BST

34 min Anyone out there, or are you all busy at the fingernail buffet?

3.33pm BST

33 min That’s better from Liverpool. Coutinho feeds a gentle ball into Sturridge, who turns smartly and drives a right-footed shot just wide from 15 yards. Jurgen Klopp growls and punches the air at the fans, asking for more noise.

3.32pm BST

32 min I’m at a loss to explain why Liverpool are playing so modestly. I MBMed their home games against Spurs and Arsenal, when they played the most exhilarating football.

3.30pm BST

31 min Coutinho fizzes a shot wide from 25 yards. Guzan was happy to watch it go by.

3.30pm BST

30 min “‘cleverly got in front of Lovren’,” says William Hargreaves of the 23rd-minute entry. “What match is this?”

What day is this?

3.28pm BST

29 min Liverpool’s tempo has been relatively slow, I’ve no idea why. They aren’t playing well, but there is loads of time to address that. And they need to win, because Arsenal and Manchester City both lead 2-0.

3.27pm BST

27 min “Is it my imagination, or is the new Liverpool strip a bit of a throwback to the 1970s?” asks Dennis Mumby. “Looks like a shirt I used to wear as a teenager back then. Perhaps in anticipation of Champions League football next year they’re trying to evoke those early glory days in Europe?”

I didn’t get the 1970s from looking at it but I did get a sense of the past. It is quite neat, prim even.

3.24pm BST

25 min Boro are playing some good stuff now. Downing’s lofted cross from the left is perfect for Gestede, who towers about Lovren near the penalty spot and flicks a header just wide of the far post.

3.24pm BST

23 min Having seen the replay, I’m not sure about that penalty appeal. Bamford played a fine one-two with Forshaw and then cleverly got in front of Lovren so that there would be contact from the rear. Whether it was enough for a penalty, I don’t know. I suspect a penalty would be given maybe six or seven times out of 10 for something like that.

3.22pm BST

22 min Middlesbrough have a huge shout for a penalty turned down! Bamford broke through on goal behind Lovren, who seemed to bring him down clumsily, but Martin Atkinson waved his hands from side to side, the universal sign of self-importance. Sorry, the universal sign for ‘no penalty’.

3.21pm BST

21 min Can briefly turns into John Travolta, dancing past a couple of defenders before crashing an excellent rising shot just wide of the far top corner.

3.20pm BST

20 min The one thing Middlesbrough have going for them is that they can defend – they’ve conceded fewer goals than any other team in the bottom half – and they are doing it well so far. After a free-kick bounces nicely, Firmino’s shot is superbly blocked, as is Wijnaldum’s stinging follow-up.

3.17pm BST

18 min … which Downing whacks into the wall.

3.17pm BST

17 min Bamford is fouled by Milner, just outside the box to the right. Arsenal’s Calum Chambers will come forward for the free-kick…

3.16pm BST

16 min Milner’s cross is flicked on by Firmino to Wijnaldum, who spins and hits a shot that is blocked by Gibson. Meanwhile, some very good news for Liverpool: Arsenal are down to 10 men against Everton, with Laurent Koscielny sent off.

3.13pm BST

13 min After a very good start, Liverpool have had a few minutes of more sterile domination. They still have loads of time, and they have the huge advantage of knowing Boro are almost certainly not going to

cross the halfway line
score a goal.

3.11pm BST

12 min Liverpool have had 82 per cent possession so far. The atmosphere isn’t great, surprisingly.

3.10pm BST

11 min “Midnight in Australia, the hound not interested,” says Tom Ballantyne, attaching a picture of a snoozing dinky that I can’t upload. “Says something about the state of modern Liverpool/football that I’m riding this like a European Cup final.”

3.08pm BST

9 min Liverpool can do things at their leisure, knowing they have 90 minutes to get the goal they need. There is no way Middlesbrough will score here. As things stand, Liverpool are fifth in the table – Arsenal and Manchester City both lead. No need to panic, as Boro are dreadful.

3.06pm BST

6 min Milner’s lofted cross skims across a crowded box to the other full-back Clyne, who takes it down well but then thrashes a good chance wide of the far post on the half-volley. It’s all Liverpool.

3.04pm BST

4 min In a surprising development, Liverpool have had almost all the possession in the first few minutes.

3.02pm BST

2 min Coutinho goes on a long, winding run across the field before suddenly whipping a very dangerous cross into the six-yard box. Sturridge was already through his heading motion when Chambers made a vital clearance, flicking it away with his own noggin.

3.00pm BST

1 min Firmino has the first shot after 21 seconds, a low long-ranger that is comfortably held by the sprawling Guzan.

3.00pm BST

1 min Peep peep! Liverpool, in their new 2017-18 home kit, kick off from left to right. Boro are in their blue away kit.

2.58pm BST

The players are having their pre-match hugs. Ready? Let’s rumble.

2.56pm BST

Prediction Liverpool 5-0 Middlesbrough

2.55pm BST

“Just wanted to send a quick thank you to you and the rest of Team Guardian Towers for a season’s worth of MBM Reports,” says Hubert O’Hearn. “We’ve laughed, we’ve mused, we’ve wandered down some unusual digressions, but never been bored. Well, you may have occasionally been bored, but that’s only because you’ve had to watch the matches. It’s been fun – suggest we do it all again next season. Now to open a few Tins and hope they are to celebrate Liverpool’s return to the CL and not a drowning of sorrows. Cheers!”

On behalf of all the MBM writers, I’d like to thank me as well. Cheers!

2.44pm BST

Jurgen Klopp does his pre-match duty

“The players are fine. I’m really looking forward to it. All the good moments in this season have created 73 points and this opportunity. We’re in a very good position and that’s why I try to tell the boys. We have to create chances, but first of all we have to defend because they have nothing to lose. The plan is that we all shout together after the game ‘Yeeeeeeeeeessssssssss!’ Then a word with F and a lot of beeps, and then again ‘yes’!”

2.38pm BST

An email! “Thanks for not linking to the Guardian article about this possibly being Sturridge’s last game,” says Ian Copestake, slightly overestimating my capacity for editorial judgement. “It is not his last game. He is a man to be cherished, celebrated and wished good luck for his struggles against injuries that have stopped him from being a legend at Anfield.”

2.25pm BST

There will be plenty going on elsewhere on the final day of the season, and you can read all about it at your leisure via your digital weapon of choice.

Related: Premier League clockwatch: Watford v Manchester City and more!

Related: Arsenal v Everton: Premier League – live!

2.24pm BST

A bit of the old pre-match reading

Related: Liverpool aim to master final day nerves to confirm progress under Jürgen Klopp

Related: Premier League 2016-17 fans’ verdicts part one: Arsenal to Manchester City

Related: Premier League 2016-17 fans’ verdicts part two: Manchester Utd to West Ham

2.02pm BST

Roberto Firmino is fit and starts, as does Daniel Sturridge.

Liverpool (4-D-2) Mignolet; Clyne, Matip, Lovren, Milner; Can; Wijnaldum, Coutinho; Lallana; Sturridge, Firmino.
Substitutes: Karius, Alexander-Arnold, Klavan, Moreno, Lucas, Grujic, Origi.

10.56am BST

Good afternoon. Liverpool are Champions League royalty in exile. They have won it five times – the same as Barcelona and Bayern Munich, fewer than only Milan and Madrid – yet in recent times they have hardly been in it. Since appearing in each of Rafa Benitez’s six seasons as manager, usually with great success, they have qualified just once in seven years. It is something they intend to address today.

Liverpool have one game left, at Anfield, and if they win it they will finish in the top four. The good news is that it’s against Middlesbrough. The bad news is that it’s against Middlesbrough. All season Liverpool have had a problem against deep-lying defences and lesser teams (You want stats? I can get you stats. Believe me, there are ways; you don’t wanna know about it. Hell I can get you stats by 3 o’clock this afternoon, with data visualisations*). Middlesbrough tick both those boxes.

Continue reading…

Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/football/live/2017/may/21/liverpool-v-middlesbrough-premier-league-live

May 13

Stoke City 1-4 Arsenal: Premier League – as it happened

Olivier Giroud scored twice and Alexis Sanchez was a constant menace as Arsenal thrashed Stoke to continue their excellent run

7.43pm BST

Related: Arsenal boost Champions League ambitions by thrashing feeble Stoke City

7.21pm BST

Peep peep! A happy day for Arsenal, who played well and won extremely well on a ground where they rarely have much joy. They are now one point behind Liverpool with two games to go; Liverpool’s visit to West Ham tomorrow will probably decide who finishes fourth. Thanks for your company, goodnight!

7.19pm BST

90+3 min “‘Delicious’ can be applied to apple pie, not to crosses or goals,” says David Mitchell. “‘But it’s so creative and original’…no it isn’t. Some football journalist used it about 8 years ago, and since then, every other football journalist copied him and can’t stop. ‘Delicious’ should be banned from all football reports. It’s awful and cringeworthy.”

Cheers David. Keep it up.

7.18pm BST

90+2 min This will be Arsene Wenger’s first league win away to a team managed by Mark Hughes.

7.18pm BST

90+1 min “’This is pulsating stuff, and it’s come from nowhere,’” says Nic Clarke. “Well not really. It came from Mike Dean’s poor refereeing and Stoke cheating… Why the reluctance to call out the obvious?”

Because the change in mood occurred after the substitutions and before the dodgy goal? That or the systematic anti-Arsenal bias that is at the core of the Guardian’s editorial policy.

7.16pm BST

90 min Four minutes.

7.15pm BST

89 min Crouch is booked for a desperate lunge at Xhaka. It looked slightly worse than it was, because of the size of his pins and the co-ordination issues caused thereby, but it was a bad one and a clear yellow card.

7.14pm BST

89 min “Wenger has it easy,” says Gary Naylor. “‘Mike Dean’ is trending after Crouch’s goal, and you can imagine what that’s like.”

It’s time for Mike Dean to blow the whistle. He’s taken this game as far as he can.

7.12pm BST

87 min This has been a comfortable win for Arsenal, apart from that manic nine minutes between the goals from Crouch and Sanchez.

7.11pm BST

85 min Cameron’s crisp low volley from 15 yards is smartly saved by Cech, down to his right.

7.10pm BST

84 min “I’m not sure there’s anything specific about Arsenal that has so irked Charlie Adam,” says Matt Dony. “It’s just that he’s been a bit directionless and lacked direction since Gareth Bale left the league.”

Do they have a bit of the old previous?

7.09pm BST

83 min Danny Welbeck replaces Mesut Ozil, who has had a very good day. His goal, to make it 2-0, was delicious. Theo Walcott also comes on for Olivier Giroud.

7.08pm BST

82 min Sobhi replaces Arnautovic, who was injured when Holding fouled him a few minutes ago.

7.07pm BST

Arsenal make it four! Ozil on the right opening the game up with a fine pass infield to Ramsey, who had burst forward from midfield. He ran from centre to right, tracked by Johnson, before drilling a fine low cross on the turn. Giroud got to it ahead of the defence to score his second tap-in of the match.

7.04pm BST

79 min “Stoke’s efforts to make to the next level hinge on finding a 20-goals-a-season centre forward,” says Phil Podolsky. “Diouf is clearly not that player and they’ve had rotten luck with Bony and Berahino so far. In this position it really can take years for the curse to lift.”

Indeed. I think their 20-a-season man was Peter Thorne in 2000.

7.04pm BST

78 min Ramsey almost makes it 4-1 with an excellent run and shot that brings a fine save from Butland. Holding is then booked for flattening Arnautovic, who has had the beating of him in the last 20 minutes.

7.03pm BST

77 min Sanchez does come off, to be replaced by home favourite Aaron Ramsey. Sanchez is a magnificent force of nature. Most players wouldn’t even try to score while waiting to go off injured; even fewer would do so.

7.02pm BST

I think he will need to come off anyway, but he will do so having restored Arsenal’s two-goal lead. He received a square pass from Bellerin in an inside-right position, ran into the area and hit a low shot that deflected off Shawcross and curled into the far corner.

7.01pm BST

So much for being injured!

7.00pm BST

74 min Sanchez wants to come off. He has what looks like a thigh injury, though Arsenal are not getting a substitute ready.

6.58pm BST

73 min “Hey Rob,” says JR in Illinois. “In this dark and scary era we have moved into I have become extremely vigilant in sniffing out fake news™. Therefore, for the sole purpose of providing the truth™ to all your readers, I am compelled to point out that Giroud’s tap-in was from 2.75 yards, not 4. You can tell because of the reference of the six-yard box line in combination with the cut of the grass. Now that Ozil goal, that was from 4 yards.”

6.57pm BST

71 min Berahino shoots tamely at Cech from distance. Meanwhile Mustafi is aggrieved about a clash with Pieters at a set piece. He thinks he was elbowed deliberately in the face.

6.56pm BST

70 min Arsenal were so composed and serene for an hour. They aren’t composed now. This is pulsating stuff, and it’s come from nowhere.

6.55pm BST

It was handball! Oh my. Arnautovic beat Holding on the left again and crossed to the near post, where Crouch got in front of Cech and seemed to flick a smart header into the net. The replays showed it was a clear handball, however, and Arsene Wenger is having a minor meltdown on the touchline as a result.

6.53pm BST

Crouchigol!

6.52pm BST

65 min It’s a game of corners at the moment. Giroud wins one for Arsenal, from which nothing happens.

6.50pm BST

64 min “I feel compelled to point out that Stoke’s enforcer-in-chief is actually Charlie Adam (no “s”), from the half-time comment,” says Tom Adams. “I don’t want people thinking he may be related to me if it can be avoided.”|

6.49pm BST

63 min Another corner for Stoke, their fourth in a couple of minutes. It’s half cleared and headed back in to Martins Indi, whose header on the turn from close range is palmed over by the leaping Cech.

6.48pm BST

62 min A succession of corners for Stoke. The third is flapped away under considerable pressure by Cech to give Arsenal’s defence a breather.

6.46pm BST

61 min A double change for Stoke: Peter Crouch and Saido Berahino replace Diouf and Allen.

6.46pm BST

60 min Diouf heads wide from four yards! Arnautovic teased Holding on the left and moved away from him before whacking a cross into the six-yard box. Diouf, who got ahead of the ball, had to dive almost backwards and ended up heading it back across goal and just wide of the near post.

6.44pm BST

58 min Giroud takes one in the face from Arsenal’s old friend Ryan Shawcross. I don’t think it was intentional.

6.42pm BST

This is the most gorgeous goal from Arsenal. Ozil wandered infield from the left, gave the ball to Sanchez and kept running forward. Sanchez waited, waited a bit more and then guided a straight through pass of immaculate precision and weight that bisected two covering Stoke defenders inside the area. Ozil took it on the run, waited for Butland to sit down and teased the ball high into the net. A brilliant goal. The pass from Sanchez was stunning, because it travelled 15 or 20 yards and he had almost no margin for error. Any more weight and Butland would have got it; any less and one of the two defenders would have cut it out.

6.41pm BST

Now that is how to play football.

6.40pm BST

55 min This is a good spell for Arsenal, who have got their passing groove back after a slow start to the half.

6.39pm BST

52 min Stoke’s proud record of finishing ninth in every season since 2013 will be under serious threat if they lose this game.

6.37pm BST

50 min Holding has had another assured game, albeit in comfortable circumstances thus far. It’s threatening to get tougher; Stoke have looked more likely to create something in the first five minutes of the second half than they did throughout the first 45.

6.34pm BST

48 min This is better from Stoke, who are breaking into sprints all over the pitch and playing with much greater intent. Shaqiri’s cross deflects wickedly towards Diouf, who goes over in the box after a collision with Monreal. There was nothing in that.

6.31pm BST

46 min Peep peep! Arsenal begin the second half. If you like to picture these things, they are passing from left to right on the television screen in front of me.

6.26pm BST

“I see Charlie Adams is available to step on some Arsenal ankles late doors,” writes Adrian de la Touche. “Was it ever discovered what so irked him about Arsenal players who ran away from him?”

6.16pm BST

Half-time reading

One from the archives, but with happy memories for Stoke and Arsenal fans.

Related: The Joy of Six: League Cup semi-finals | Rob Smyth

6.16pm BST

Olivier Giroud’s goal means that Arsenal lead deservedly against a subdued Stoke. See you in 10 minutes for the second half.

6.13pm BST

The goal was made by Bellerin, who scooted onto Coquelin’s excellent through ball and played a perfect square pass that gave Giroud a tap-in from four yards.

6.12pm BST

Olivier Giroud gives Arsenal the lead!

6.11pm BST

40 min Arsenal are starting to get a little frustrated by the scoreline. For all their possession Butland has only had one save to make, and that was from a set-piece.

6.08pm BST

38 min It’s a more even contest now, with Stoke showing a bit of purpose on the counter-attack. And it is still 0-0.

6.07pm BST

37 min Whelan’s dangerous cross from the right is expertly defended by the stretching Mustafi. Wouldn’t have mattered, as Arnautovic was offside, but Mustafi didn’t know that.

6.05pm BST

35 min Shaqiri’s attempted far-post curler nicks off the toe of Koscielny and spins wide for a corner. Nothing happens.

6.04pm BST

34 min Giroud robs Johnson, who drags him over. Sanchez picks up the loose ball, moves towards the box and drills a fast low shot into the side netting at the near post. I think Butland had it covered.

6.02pm BST

32 min “Unless Jose manages to land that protest plane on the pitch then nothing will exceed the existential drama of Mahrez’s self-kick penalty,” says Ian Copestake. “It confirmed that the gods have both a cruel sense of humour and premier league season tickets.”

Meh, that’s old news. Denis Irwin was doing it back in 2000, and getting away with it. (I would link to said incident against Anderlecht, but we are no longer allowed to link to unofficial sites for legal reasons.)

6.01pm BST

31 min Allen plays a give-and-go with Arnautovic and wriggles clear off a couple of defenders in the area before Koscielny clears.

5.59pm BST

29 min Arnautovic curls the free-kick a few yards over the bar. It was a decent effort but Cech wasn’t particularly alarmed.

5.58pm BST

28 min Sanchez’s inswinging cross is confidently taken by Butland, who flings it out to Arnatouvic. Stoke work the ball from left to right to Shaqiri, who shuffles back infield past three players before he is chopped down by Mustafi. That’s a yellow card and a free-kick 25 yards from goal.

5.55pm BST

26 min Glenn Whelan appraises Coquelin of his existence via the medium of the crunching tackle. Stoke could probably do with more of that.

5.54pm BST

25 min The good news for Stoke is: it’s still 0-0. See also, the bad news for Arsenal.

5.54pm BST

24 min The Women’s FA Cup final is done and dusted: Manchester City lead 3-0 after barely half an hour, with Carli Lloyd getting the third.

Related: Women’s FA Cup final: Birmingham City v Manchester City – live!

5.51pm BST

21 min It’s all Arsenal, just as it was five minutes ago. The match is almost weirdly one-sided, and it’s increasingly clear that Stoke are going to win 1-0 with a goal off Mame Biram’s Diouf belly button.

5.49pm BST

19 min “Under Labour, all ‘Wenger out’ protests will be nationalised,” sniffs Ian Copestake.

5.48pm BST

17 min Monreal hits the post! He has been a constant threat going forward in this match. After good work from Coquelin, Bellerin’s lofted cross skimmed off the head of a defender in the six-yard box and reached Monreal beyond the far post. He stretched to head the ball onto the near post, and Ozil was tackled as he attempted to put the loose ball away.

5.46pm BST

16 min Stoke’s first decent attack leads to a mild penalty appeal when Arnautovic’s cross hits a defender at close-range. Even if it did hit the hand – and I don’t know that it did – there was no intent.

5.43pm BST

13 min Ozil clips a brilliant diagonal pass over the defence to Monreal, who gets the wrong side of Johnson but runs the ball out of play. It wasn’t the easiest ball to control as it travelled a long way.

5.42pm BST

11 min Diouf tracks back to tackle Xhaka, allowing Stoke to get out of their half for the first time in a while. It’s very one-sided and, as Alan Smith says on Sky, there’s a strange lack of intensity about Stoke.

5.39pm BST

9 min What a fine save from Butland! Ozil’s outswinging corner from the left was looped towards the far post by the head of Mustafi, and Butland stretched a long way to tip it over.

5.38pm BST

8 min “Truly depressing to hear the local fans booing Arsenal,” begins Charles Antaki, “presumably for Ramsey’s effrontery in attacking Shawcross’s boot with his shin all those years ago ago, and having the metropolitan snootiness to go off with a supposedly broken leg.”

5.37pm BST

7 min Arsenal win the first corner. It’s played short to Sanchez, whose driven cross is headed away by Diouf.

5.36pm BST

6 min Arsenal are completely dominating possession, albeit in the sterile-domination zone at this stage.

5.35pm BST

5 min This has been a smooth, confident start from Arsenal. Mustafi drives a brilliant angled pass over the top for Sanchez, who controls it on the stretch with his bicep and is flagged offside anyway. Great pass though.

5.33pm BST

3 min A long spell of possession for Arsenal, most of it accompanied by boos, ends when Sanchez has his pocket picked by Shawcross. Diouf rumbles forward on a solo break until he is tackled by Mustafi (I think).

5.30pm BST

1 min Peep peep! Stoke kick off from left to right. They are in red-and-white stripes; Arsenal are in their very, very, very, very, very navy blue away strip.

5.20pm BST

Football news (sort of) OJ: Made in America is on BBC4 this week, starting tomorrow night. It is magnificent, so you should watch it.

5.19pm BST

This is a good stat on Sky Sports. Teams managed by Mark Hughes have hosted Arsenal eight time in the Premier League, with five wins and three draws. Wenger out!

5.08pm BST

It’s been another busy day in the Premier League, with Swansea winning at Sunderland to move closer to safety. You can get all the Premier League match reports here. And if you want to follow the Women’s FA Cup final with our resident MBM genius, Scott Murray, you can do so here.

Related: Women’s FA Cup final: Birmingham City v Manchester City – live!

4.32pm BST

Stoke (4-3-3) Butland; Johnson, Shawcross, Martins Indi, Pieters; Cameron, Allen, Whelan; Shaqiri, Diouf, Arnautovic.
Substitutes: Grant, Muniesa, Adam, Sobhi, Berahino, Walters, Crouch.

Arsenal (3-4-2-1) Cech; Holding, Mustafi, Koscielny; Bellerin, Coquelin, Xhaka, Monreal; Ozil, Sanchez; Giroud.
Substitutes: Ospina, Gabriel, Elneny, Ramsey, Iwobi, Welbeck, Walcott.

1.22pm BST

Hello. Arsene Wenger is so far behind the times that watching him has become a painful experience. He’s decent, dignified, principled and romantic – values that have little place in modern society, never mind modern football. In 2017, being behind the times should be a virtue, but Wenger has been subject to increasingly unpleasant abuse from myopic, entitled brats with an allergy to nuance and a thundering lack of perspective. Or, to give them their other name, a minority of Arsenal followers.

Wenger deserves criticism. All professionals do. There is, however, a pretty clear distinction between criticism and ridicule or abuse. Let’s be clear about this: Arsene Wenger is one of the greatest managers in British football history, who has given Arsenal fans some of the most euphoric moments of their lives. He sacrificed the best years of his career to do the right thing by Arsenal. He is also a bloody good human being; better than you, better than me. The ongoing attempt to hound him out of a job is pathetic.

It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.

Continue reading…

Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/football/live/2017/may/13/stoke-city-v-arsenal-premier-league-live

May 06

Hull 0-2 Sunderland, Leicester 3-0 Watford and more: clockwatch – as it happened

Relegated Sunderland ended Marco Silva’s long unbeaten run in home league matches with a surprise win at Hull, while Leicester jumped up to ninth in the table

5.28pm BST

Premier League match reports:

Related: Billy Jones strikes for Sunderland to dent Hull City’s survival hopes

Related: Centurion Riyad Mahrez shines in comfortable Leicester win over Watford

Related: Sam Vokes double edges Burnley closer to safety against West Bromwich Albion

Related: Ryan Shawcross own goal rescues point for Bournemouth against Stoke City

4.56pm BST

After a dull start, that turned into an entertaining afternoon: four games, 13 goals and one twist that not even Jed Mercurio saw coming. Sunderland’s win at Hull means Swansea will jump out of the bottom three if they beat Everton in the evening match. You can join Scott Murray for that. Thanks for your company; night!

Related: Swansea City v Everton: Premier League – live!

4.53pm BST

An entertaining match ends 2-2 and confirms that both teams will play each other in the Premier League next season.

4.52pm BST

A surprise win for Sunderland leaves Hull in big trouble, while Burnley have reached the magical 40-point mark. They are not mathematically safe but it would take some series of results for them to go down.

4.51pm BST

Leicester move up to ninth in the table after a thumping win over a Watford side who put the pathetic in apathetic.

4.49pm BST

Marc Albrighton completes an easy win for the champions.

4.48pm BST

It’s over. Jermain Defoe has scored to give Sunderland a two-goal lead, even though he was clearly in an offside position, and Marco Silva’s unbeaten run is over.

4.47pm BST

Hull 0-1 Sunderland Hull don’t look like scoring. This is a monumental bonus for Swansea, who play Everton this evening.

4.46pm BST

Hull 0-1 Sunderland One minute plus added time remaining at Hull.

4.42pm BST

Sam Vokes gets his second, heading past the stranded Ben Foster, and Burnley are level.

4.41pm BST

A controversial equaliser for Bournemouth. Stoke thought King was offside when he deflected the ball onto Shawcross and into the net; the assistant referee disagreed.

4.38pm BST

Ten minutes to go and Sunderland still lead at Hull. It would be the most shocking coupon-buster since a fat Cockney spilled Begbie’s pint.

4.35pm BST

It’s dribbling goals in the Premier League! Craig Dawson heads in from a Chris Brunt corner to give West Brom the lead, and ensure Burnley aren’t safe just yet.

4.33pm BST

Hull 0-1 Sunderland Jordan Pickford makes another magnificent save, this time to deny Hernandez from close range. He is so good.

4.31pm BST

Brendan Rodgers will make a great England manager one day.

4.31pm BST

Mame Biram Diouf scores from close range after some sloppy Bournemouth defending. That’s his first goal in 27 games. Stoke deserve to be ahead.

4.30pm BST

It is happening again Sunderland were the team who ended Jose Mourinho’s long unbeaten home record as well.

Related: Chelsea 1-2 Sunderland | Premier League match report

4.27pm BST

“How can you miss the Raith Rovers v Ayr United game in the Scottish Championship?” sniffs Stewart Rennie. “A 10-man Rovers squad is clinging to a 1-0 lead and the hopes of avoiding the relegation playoffs if Hibs can put another past the surging Buddies (currently 1-1). Come on the Rovers (from Texas)!”

I was all over it until my moody feed went down.

4.25pm BST

Oh my word. Sunderland lead at the KCOM Stadium through a diving header from Billy Jones. Hull are suddenly in all sorts of trouble, and Marco Silva may be facing his first home defeat in a league match since March 2014!

4.24pm BST

Salomon Rondon scores his first goal since the days of Betamax video and Kajagoogoo haircuts, rattling in an equaliser at Turf Moor. That’s West Brom’s first goal since they beat Arsenal in March.

4.22pm BST

Patrick Roberts’ second goal should secure another win for Celtic.

4.21pm BST

Bournemouth have been below par but they are level through Junior Stanislas.

4.20pm BST

As things stand there are only four points between West Brom in eighth and Watford in 15th. There are a few ways to interpret that statistic.

4.19pm BST

Hull 0-0 Sunderland Hull are getting closer. A cross deflects to Hernandez, who is denied by a brilliant tackle from elegant octogenarian John O’Shea.

4.15pm BST

As things stand, Leicester are ninth in the table. Funny how things work out. (It’s effing hilarious.)

4.15pm BST

Riyad Mahrez (remember him?) doubles Leicester’s lead with a smart finish from a tight angle. Meanwhile, at Hull, Jordan Pickford has made another tremendous save.

4.14pm BST

That’s a big goal for Burnley, who are surely safe now. Ashley Barnes ignores a challenge from Jake Livermore, springs to his feet and crosses for Sam Vokes to score from close range.

4.13pm BST

Celtic are back in front. Yep.

4.13pm BST

Brexit means Brexit I forgot to update you on the action in Europe, but nothing of note is happening: Bayern and Dortmund are winning, while Atletico are drawing 0-0 with Eibar.

4.11pm BST

St Johnstone equalise almost immediately at Celtic Park!

4.09pm BST

Hull 0-0 Sunderland Another great chance, this time for Hull. Pickford palms the ball to N’Diaye, who shoots wide from close-range.

4.08pm BST

Celtic move closer to 100 points, and an unbeaten season in the league.

4.07pm BST

Hull 0-0 Sunderland Jermain Defoe has missed a fantastic chance to give Sunderland the lead, shooting too close to the keeper Jakupovic. What looked a home banker for Hull is turning into a bit of a nightmare.

4.05pm BST

Burnley 0-0 West Brom A great chance for the home side at the start of the second half, with James Tarkowski heading over the bar from close range.

4.01pm BST

“For anyone who’s wondering, Buckie Thistle just pulled one back against East Kilbride, who are now 2-1 up at home, the first leg having finished 2-2,” says Mike Cormack. “C’mon the Jags!”

3.58pm BST

If Hull draw against Sunderland they will be three points ahead of Swansea, but with two tricky games – Palace away, Spurs at home – remaining. Swansea have Everton (H), Sunderland (A) and West Brom (H) to play. Not even Jed Mercurio knows which team will be relegated.

3.56pm BST

“Hey Rob,” says JR in Illinois. “Who would you say has wasted the most time in the history of the Premier League? I think the answer is a no-doubter. It’s got to be Ben Foster. He is currently displaying his wares at Burnley (yes, he is time-wasting against Burnley) where he has just taken 31 seconds to take a goal kick. Other than Foster the Burnley-West Brom game is exactly as exciting as expected.”

3.49pm BST

Related: David Silva kickstarts Manchester City’s rout of Crystal Palace

3.49pm BST

Bournemouth 0-1 Stoke (Mousset own goal)

Burnley 0-0 West Brom

3.47pm BST

“My brother in law is a Cowdenbeath fan and tells a great story about the time Eddie the Eagle visited Central Park as part of a radio series on ‘Great Sporting Losers’,” says Simon McMahon. “At the time Cowdenbeath had gone about 18 months without a home win, after securing a promotion but then having gone the entire season without winning a home match, followed inevitably by relegation, after which it took them until about February to register their first home win. On the very day Eddie the Eagle turned up, of course.”

3.45pm BST

“Love that phrase, ‘a robust challenge’ (as used by the AFC Bournemouth Twitter feed),” says Kevin Ryan. “ It usually means ‘he booted him up in the air and then trampled on him’. It’s a bit like the Chief Executive address to the aggrieved shareholders at the Company’s AGM after a particularly awful year. ‘It has been a challenging year…..’ (that is we closed three factories, made several hundred workers redundant, found a bleeding great hole in the pension fund and are now virtually bust…)”

3.44pm BST

Bournemouth 0-1 Stoke Josh King misses a decent volleyed chance for Bournemouth.

3.43pm BST

Hull 0-0 Sunderland After a slow start, Hull are starting to threaten against Sunderland. They really need to win this game. Some might even go so far as to say they MUST win it.

3.41pm BST

Wilfred Ndidi has an enormous sweet spot on his right foot, and he has used it to blast Leicester ahead after Watford failed to clear a corner.

3.39pm BST

Thanks for sending in links to the Harry Arter tackle. Oof. That’s a red card in 1982, never mind 2017.

3.38pm BST

“Regarding your discussion with Naylor, doesn’t the successful Trundle+10 XI at Llanelli absolutely prove this?” says Elliot Carr-Barnsley. “I’d say a maverick is worth even more of he’s come out of retirement, apart from that time Gazza did it.”

3.37pm BST

Leicester 0-0 Watford: Kasper Schmeichel has made a good save from Tom Cleverley to keep the score at 0-0.

3.34pm BST

Stoke have scored their first away goal since January, an own goal from the Lys Mousset. He challenged Geoff Cameron for a corner and unwittingly headed past Artur Boruc. That’s pretty cruel luck for Mousset, who is making his full debut.

3.32pm BST

“Watching the Hull/Sunderland game (via completely legal means), I’m once again struck by just how good Harry Maguire is,” says Oli Atkinson. “He looks like an old-fashioned English clogger of a centre-back but actually has remarkably good technique. Best English defender in the league? Discuss.”

He’s been terrific in the games I’ve seen. I can’t remember an English centre-back who was as eye-catching in possession. Not seen enough to know how good a defender he is, but he can’t be far from the England squad.

3.29pm BST

This is where Twitter really comes into its own.

26: Arter picks up the first booking of the day for a robust challenge on Allen in our half.#BOUSTK

3.27pm BST

“Afternoon Rob,” says Matt Emerson. “Sad to see the decline of Cowdenbeath. My football club put on a penalty shoot out as half-time ‘entertainment’ for the few hundred faithful about twenty years ago. We paid fifty quid if I recall and we got pies laid on. Always had a soft spot for them ever since…”

Football will never recapture the magic of the Ginsters years.

3.26pm BST

Bournemouth 0-0 Stoke: Harry Arter is extremely lucky to receive only a yellow card for a shocking tackle on Joe Allen. I haven’t seen it but Paul Merson has, and his reaction was somewhere between appalled and horrified.

3.24pm BST

“What do you think of the eight teams playing just now Rob?” says Gary Naylor. “Save the obvious exception of Sunderland, they’re organised, athletic and committed – in a word, competent. But they’re not all that good at football – not by the historic standards on top-flight English football anyway. This “competent, but not much more” is a problem that stretches all the way up to Everton and, when going up a level, into PL sides in the Champions League and national teams too. Not that I know a solution – except, maybe, less PASSION!!!!!! and more coaching from top to bottom.”

Yes, that’s a very good point, though isn’t a problem in all football, from England to Brazil? The Premier League should introduce a quota system whereby every starting XI has to include at least one fat maverick.

3.21pm BST

Watford’s Adrian Mariappa is denied by the woodwork at the King Power Stadium, although he’s probably quite happy about that: it was the woodwork of his own team’s goal.

3.21pm BST

A good chance for Hull, with Sam Clucas denied by Sunderland’s Jordan Pickford. He is a tremendous young goalkeeper, isn’t he.

3.19pm BST

“Afternoon Rob,” says Simon McMahon. “The battle for play-off positions dominates the Scottish card today. Dundee United can finish second in the Scottish Championship with a win at Morton, but only if Falkirk don’t beat Dumbarton. But I’m bored of that already (there’s no way United are coming up, even if we make the play-off final, which we won’t), it’s really all about Cowdenbeath who, after being in the second tier only two seasons ago, have suffered consecutive relegations and now need a dramatic last-day escape to guarantee their league status. They must win at Elgin, and hope that Clyde or Berwick get beat. The team that finishes bottom will then face a play off against either East Kilbride or Buckie Thistle. It’s what clockwatch is all about, right? Come on the Blue Brazil.”

3.17pm BST

Fifteen minutes gone, no goals in the four Premier League games. Even Celtic haven’t scored. Our old friend ‘Saturday 3pm’ hasn’t had a good couple of weeks.

3.12pm BST

Stoke might have taken the lead at Bournemouth, had Marko Arnautovic not just shot tamely at Artur Boruc.

3.08pm BST

No goals so far, but Sunderland have started extremely well away to Hull. Leicester’s early dominance of Watford is less surprising.

3.06pm BST

10 – Stoke City have now gone 10 hours without an away league goal, since Peter Crouch scored at Sunderland in January. Malfunction. pic.twitter.com/09osHGSwyV

3.04pm BST

Sunderland have missed a great chance to take the lead at Hull, with George Honeyman heading wide from close range.

3.01pm BST

Funny old game department If you compiled a Premier League form table for 2017, Crystal Palace, Hull and Swansea – the teams battling to avoid the last relegation spot – would all be between ninth and 11th. One of those teams will feel pretty aggrieved come the final day of the season.

2.57pm BST

It’s spandex-tight in the lower-middle of the Premier League, with the chance for some smaller and/or newly promoted teams to finish in the top half. Burnley, for example, are in 15th place but could be ninth by 5pm.

2.43pm BST

An email! “Goochwatch: USA’s Lynden Gooch only gets a place on the subs bench for Sunderland, despite, by his account, pulling off a rather tasty rabona in his back garden yesterday,” says Woolie Madden. “One feels Mr Gooch now stands at a crossroads of his career as a Yank abroad: he could slip down the path of obscurity and wasted talent, like Freddy Adu; or, with hard work and a bit of luck, he could become the next, uh, Geoff Cameron.”

2.32pm BST

Some pre-match reading

Just in case you missed Rob Smyth’s piece from Wednesday’s @guardian: https://t.co/KG2qUAWhlF #Kaiser #CarlosKaiser #171

2.23pm BST

Crystal Palace have been plugged 5-0 at the Etihad, which will leave them in a bit of trouble should Swansea and Hull win today. City will surely finish in the top four now. Here’s the current Premier League table.

Related: Manchester City v Crystal Palace: Premier League – live!

2.12pm BST

Bournemouth v Stoke team news

Bournemouth (4-2-3-1) Boruc; Smith, Francis, Cook, Daniels; Cook, Arter; Stanislas, Mousset, Pugh; King.

2.11pm BST

Burnley v West Brom team news

Burnley (4-4-2) Heaton; Lowton, Long, Tarkowski, Ward; Boyd, Westwood, Hendrick, Arfield; Vokes, Barnes.

2.09pm BST

Leicester v Watford team news

Leicester (4-4-2) Schmeichel; Simpson, Benalouane, Huth, Fuchs; Mahrez, Ndidi, Drinkwater, Albrighton; Okazaki, Vardy.

2.02pm BST

Hull v Sunderland team news

Hull (4-4-2) Jakupovic; Elmohamady, Ranocchia, Maguire, Robertson; Markovic, N’Diaye, Clucas, Grosicki; Hernandez, Niasse.

1.17pm BST

Today’s 3pm Premier League fixtures

10.50am BST

Hello one and all. On 30 March 2014, Rio Ave won 1-0 away to Estoril in Portugal’s Primera Liga. The goal was scored by the Egyptian striker Ahmed Hassan Mahgoub, also known as Kouka, or Koka, though his mother probably calls him Ahmed. It was a tremendous goal, belted low into the corner from 20 yards after a smooth passing move. You might wonder what’s the point of all this, and we’ll get to that as soon as we’ve dragged this paragraph out long enough to cause you mild irritation and make you question whether you are really living life to the max right now.

Where were we? Oh yeah, 30 March 2014. That was the last time Marco Silva lost a home league game as manager – a run that encompasses 41 matches and four different clubs. Since he moved to Hull they have been almost invincible at the KCOM Stadium, with six wins and a draw from seven games. If they win today at home to Sunderland – and they bloody well should – they will put all kinds of pressure on Swansea before their 5.30 kick-off at home to Everton. As it stands Hull are two points ahead of Swansea with three games to play.

Related: Manchester City v Crystal Palace: Premier League – live!

Continue reading…

Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/football/live/2017/may/06/hull-v-sunderland-leicester-v-watford-and-more-clockwatch-live

Mar 18

Bournemouth 2-0 Swansea City: Premier League – live!

An Alfie Mawson own goal and Benik Afobe’s second-half strike gave Bournemouth a deserved win that moved them up to 11th in the table

7.20pm GMT

Peep peep! That’s an excellent and deserved win for Bournemouth. The game was pretty even until Alfie Mawson’s unfortunate own goal, but after that they were largely in control and deserve the cushion given them by Benik Afobe’s goal. They are nine points clear of the Championship Penthouse and should be safe for another season. A subdued Swansea have plenty of work to do. Thanks for your company, night.

7.19pm GMT

90+3 min Wilshere hits one straight at Fabianski from inside the D. And that should be that.

7.18pm GMT

90+2 min Eddie Howe gifts Max Gradel a win bonus, bringing him on for the excellent Josh King. He didn’t score but played a significant part in both goals.

7.16pm GMT

90 min There will be three minutes of added formality.

7.13pm GMT

87 min The game is petering out. Bournemouth have been excellent today. They deserve so much praise for the way they have got back on track since that diabolical first 20 minutes at Old Trafford a fortnight ago.

7.10pm GMT

84 min If it stays like this it will be Bournemouth’s first clean sheet since… their 3-0 win at Swansea on New Year’s Eve.

7.08pm GMT

82 min Another Swansea change: Borja Baston replace Llorente, who had little joy all night.

7.06pm GMT

81 min “What about, ‘Hull, Middlesborough and Sunderland currently occupy the Sunderland Memorial Bench’?” offers Matt Dony.

7.06pm GMT

79 min Fabianski makes a magnificent save to deny King! Wilshere stood up a lovely deep cross to the far post, where King soared above Kingsley and thumped a header towards the bottom corner. He was only six yards out but Fabianski showed brilliant reflexes to get down to his left and keep it out. There won’t be many better saves than that in the Premier League this season.

7.04pm GMT

78 min “Maybe we should give the bottom three a boost of confidence,” says Hubert O’Hearn. “May I suggest ‘Championship Penthouse’?”

7.02pm GMT

77 min Cork flattens Afobe and is booked.

7.01pm GMT

76 min “Regarding the relegation zone,” says Ian Copestake, “perhaps it can simply be called’the toilet’.”

7.00pm GMT

75 min A Bournemouth change: Jack Wilshere replaces the impressive Fraser.

6.59pm GMT

The two strikers combined to make the goal. King picked up a loose ball 25 yards goal and opened his body to play an angled pass to Afobe. The stretching Mawson missed his attempted interception and Afobe took the ball in his stride before sidefooting it across Fabianski and in off the post. That’s an excellent finish.

6.58pm GMT

This is definitely Benik Afobe’s goal!

6.57pm GMT

70 min Routledge’s chipped cross is pulled down nicely by Llorente, who somehow manufactures a low cross from the byline. Narsingh is tackled at the near post and the ball ricochets towards Routledge, who has followed up the play and is about to start his shooting motion when Cook stretches to make a vital, probably goal-saving tackle. All of a sudden Bournemouth are hanging on.

6.55pm GMT

68 min This is Swansea’s best spell of the half by a distance, with a couple of corners and a wee snifter of hope. Carroll’s long cross is headed back across goal by Llorente and cleared desperately by a combination of Afobe and Francis.

6.53pm GMT

67 min Another Swansea change: Wayne Routledge replaces Ki.

6.52pm GMT

66 min Bloody hell, an email! “Yeah some great stuff on that channel,” says Phil Podolsky. “You don’t have to be ‘Romerio’ to score that goal but it sure looks better when he does it.”

I’ve never seen a better one-on-one finisher. Scoring a goal wasn’t good enough for him. He had to vaccinate the keeper, and ideally a defender or two, as well.

6.51pm GMT

65 min Carroll is fouled just outside the area. It’s a fair way to the left of centre but certainly not out of range for Sigurdsson. He strolls up to the ball … and hits it into the wall.

6.48pm GMT

62 min Bournemouth are moving the ball around beautifully now. They are such an admirable side who didn’t compromise even when they were in freefall. If they win today they won’t be worrying about relegation so much as looking at the chance of finishing in the top ten.

6.43pm GMT

58 min Fabianski miskicks to Fraser and then saves his long-range shot. Bournemouth have the game under control at the moment and look the much likelier scorers. Swansea have been poor since half-time.

6.41pm GMT

56 min A Swansea change: the ineffective Ayew off, Luciano Narsingh on.

6.38pm GMT

53 min That’s more like it. King nicks the ball off Ki and gives it Gosling, who moves forward and cracks a good low shot from 20 yards that is pushed round by the diving Fabianski.

6.37pm GMT

52 min It hasn’t been a great start to the second half. In fact, the square root of bugger all has happened in the last five minutes.

6.34pm GMT

47 min Ayew makes a positive run down the right before he is pulled down by Daniels. Nothing comes of the free-kick.

6.31pm GMT

46 min Peep peep! Swansea begin the second half, kicking from left to right.

6.17pm GMT

Half-time reading

Related: Pep Guardiola’s zonal theory will take time for Manchester City to learn | Jonathan Wilson

6.17pm GMT

Peep peep! A quiet end to an interesting half between two confident sides. Bournemouth lead through Unlucky Alf’s own goal. See you in 10 minutes for the second half.

6.11pm GMT

41 min Smith curls the resulting free-kick straight into the friendly bosom of Fabianski.

6.11pm GMT

40 min Ki is booked for a late tackle on Fraser. He knew. It was an honest attempt to get the ball but he was beaten by Fraser’s cartoon pace. He looks really promising, with his direct running and crossing technique. I’m telling you, Scotland are slowly putting a team together.

6.09pm GMT

38 min If it stays like this Bournemouth will be nine points clear of the relegation places. Don’t call it the drop zone. Please don’t call it that. This isn’t The Crystal Maze.

6.07pm GMT

36 min A lovely attempt from Sigurdsson. He received the ball 30 yards out, looked around as if nothing was going on, and then suddenly whipped a wonderful dipping effort towards the far corner. Boruc flew across his line to tip it behind for a corner. I think it would have hit the outside of the post anyway but Boruc made sure.

6.03pm GMT

The goal was made by King and Pugh, who played a good one-two 25 yards from goal. Afobe then took the ball off King’s feet, charged towards the edge of the box and mishit a low shot that took a big deflection off Mawson. I think that might be an own goal; I’m not sure Afobe’s shot was on target.

6.01pm GMT

Benik Afobe gives Bournemouth the lead with the aid of a huge deflection!

6.00pm GMT

27 min It’s been a decent game, with both teams bright and breezy in possession, but it’s getting to the stage where it could do with a goal.

5.56pm GMT

24 min From the resulting corner, Carroll’s shot hits the arm of Pugh to prompt an unsuccessful penalty appeal. Pugh’s arms were up and, though he was barely a yard from Carroll, that could easily have been given – especially by Mike Dean.

5.54pm GMT

23 min Kingsley is fouled by Smith on the left wing. Sigurdsson’s superb inswinging free-kick skims off the head of King and flashes this far wide of the far post. King is in the goals at the moment but that would have been ridiculous.

5.48pm GMT

18 min Swansea have been the better team in the last 10 minutes. As Martin Keown says on BT, having three against two in midfield is really helping Swansea.

5.45pm GMT

15 min A half-chance at the other end. The lively Fraser puts a beautiful dipping cross onto the head of Afobe, whose diving header goes a few yards wide of the far post.

5.44pm GMT

14 min Fer’s long throw from the right is headed down precisely by Llorente to Sigurdsson, who bangs a volley over the bar from 15 yards. That was half a chance for a player of Sigurdsson’s technical quality.

5.43pm GMT

13 min Swansea enjoy a few minutes of largely uninterrupted possession. If we get an early goal, this could be a cracker.

5.40pm GMT

10 min A good effort from Fraser. He scurries forward, away from Carroll, and drags a low shot not far wide from the edge of the box.

5.39pm GMT

9 min Swansea are starting to come into the game after a very sluggish start. Sigurdsson curls in a very good free-kick from a deep, narrow position on the right, and the stretching Mawson heads well wide of the far post. He couldn’t get over the ball to control the header.

5.35pm GMT

6 min Smith’s cross deflects into the face of Sigurdsson and behind for the first corner. Surman takes it short to Fraser, who cross is intercepted by Carroll.

5.33pm GMT

3 min The in-form King nicks possession just outside the area before blasting high and wide. Swansea have barely had a kick so far.

5.31pm GMT

2 min This is a confident start from Bournemouth. Pugh moves smoothly round the back on the left before stabbing a cross that is cleared at the near post.

5.31pm GMT

1 min Peep peep! Bournemouth, in red and black, kick off from left to right. Swansea are in white. It looks like Swansea are playing with Leroy Fer as an emergency right-back.

5.29pm GMT

A gift, from me to you.

This YouTube channel is entirely wonderful.

4.35pm GMT

Bournemouth (4-4-2) Boruc; Smith, Francis, Cook, Daniels; Fraser, Surman, Gosling, Pugh; King, Afobe.
Substitutes: Allsop, Cargill, Smith, Ibe, Wilshere, Cook, Gradel.

Swansea (4-3-3) Fabianski; Fer, Fernandez, Mawson, Kingsley; Cork, Ki, Carroll; Ayew, Llorente, Sigurdsson.
Substitutes: Nordfeldt, Roberts, Amat, Routledge, Britton, Narsingh, Baston.

6.16pm GMT

Hello. Some games are bigger than others. This match, between the teams who started the day in 14th and 16th place, has been described as a six-pointer. It’s no such thing – you don’t need to be a distant relation of Archimedes to know you can’t have a six-pointer if there are more than two teams involved in a race for something – but it’s a pretty important match, especially with Leicester and Crystal Palace winning.

Two weeks ago, Swansea would have been favourites to win at the Vitality Stadium. Since then they have lost at Hull and Bournemouth have stopped free fallin’. I haven’t a clue what’s going to happen. Nor have you. We’ll find out from 5.30pm.

Continue reading…

Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/football/live/2017/mar/18/bournemouth-v-swansea-city-premier-league-live

Mar 18

West Bromwich Albion 3-1 Arsenal: Premier League – as it happened

Craig Dawson scored two identical goals from corners to give West Brom an outstanding victory over Arsenal

2.27pm GMT

PS Join the inventor of and world leader in liveblogging, Scott Murray, for today’s 3pm fixtures. Bye!

Related: Stoke v Chelsea, West Ham v Leicester City and more: clockwatch – live!

Related: West Bromwich Albion’s Craig Dawson soars to give Arsenal a fresh low

2.25pm GMT

Peep peep! West Brom fully deserve this fine victory. They did a number on Arsenal, with Craig Dawson scoring two identical goals from corners. There was more to it than that, though, with the usual organised defending and some high-class counter-attacking prompted by the left foot of Chris Brunt. Arsenal’s performance aped that of Alexis Sanchez: lively in the first half, empty in the second. I’ll leave the final word to Victor Valkov. “ I’m all for showing respect to an illustrious 20-year career and a 49-game unbeaten record that will never be broken but Arsene just cost me five quid on my accumulator. He’s dead to me.”

2.20pm GMT

90+2 min “NBC coverage suggest Arsenal lack moral fibre,” says Ian Copestake. “Surely the nutritionist should be sacked.”

2.18pm GMT

90+1 min “Have the players downed tools on Arsene?” says Sam Hankins. “Or are Arsenal really that bad? It sure looked like that with Leicester City to get their manager the sack.”

I might be wrong, and frequently am, but I think this is more an inherent weakness in too many of the players that puts the mental in fundamental. They are an extremely good fairweather side.

2.18pm GMT

90 min West Brom make a late substitution: young Sam Field replaces Nacir Chadli.

2.15pm GMT

85 min Arsenal have really struggled since that third goal. Now they are enduring some ole football from West Brom. Quite a role reversal, that. West Brom have been tremendous. Their gameplan has worked perfectly, and some of their counter-attacking football has been extremely good.

2.12pm GMT

84 min It wouldn’t be a surprise if Sanchez was feeling that McClean tackle in the second half, so dramatic was the drop-off in his performance. Without him, Arsenal have offered nothing in attack. Too many good-time Charlies.

2.11pm GMT

83 min “Hey Rob,” says JR in Illinois. “Neil Swarbrick seems to be the only referee that holsters his canister of invisible spray on the front of his shorts. And it’s not just that it’s on the front but that it is basically centered that makes it a bit disconcerting.”

Neil Phwoarbrick more like!

2.10pm GMT

82 min Arsenal are suffering death by deja vu. Again.

2.10pm GMT

80 min If it stays like this Arsenal will have lost four of the last five league games and six of the last 12. Everybody knows the war is over; everybody knows the good guy lost. It does feel like time for a change, but the abuse and lack of respect is not on.

2.06pm GMT

78 min An Arsenal change: Alex Iwobi replaces Alexis Sanchez.

2.04pm GMT

This is far too easy. McClean on the right curls over a fast corner into the six-yard box. Dawson again gets a run at the ball and strains his neck muscles to head in from a few yards, flattening one of his team-mates in the process. He was surrounded by team-mates, in fact, because Arsenal had nobody near him in the six-yard box.

2.03pm GMT

This is almost identical to the first goal. Oh, Arsenal.

2.03pm GMT

74 min “A part of me was really hoping Ospina tripped Chadli there just to see who would play keeper,” says Abhi Vijay. “Arsenal would truly have blurred the lines between sport and performance art.”

2.01pm GMT

73 min Sanchez has been much quieter in the second half, and therefore so have Arsenal.

2.00pm GMT

72 min Claudio Yacob replaces Chris Brunt, who has had a fine game, particularly with his passing on the counter-attack.

2.00pm GMT

71 min If West Brom win this they will be seven points ahead of ninth-placed Stoke, who lost at home to Chelsea later this afternoon.

1.57pm GMT

70 min Xhaka can’t. He cracks it into the wall.

1.57pm GMT

69 min Welbeck is fouled just outside the area by Brunt. The free-kick is a fair way to the right of centre and thus suits the left-footed Xhaka.

1.55pm GMT

66 min A double chance for West Brom! Brunt’s beautiful curling pass allows Robson-Kanu to run beyond Mustafi and clear on goal. Ospina dithers but then does well to block Robson-Kanu’s attempted dink. The ball rebounds to Chadli, who dances around Ospina before hitting a shot that is blocked on the line by Mustafi.

1.53pm GMT

65 min Welbeck hits the bar! Xhaka coaxed a right-wing corner to the far post, where Welbeck stretched to steer a header onto the bar.

1.53pm GMT

65 min Walcott has had a really poor game. Maybe he’s trying too hard. Anyway, he is coming off now to be replaced by rugged bench-warmer Olivier Giroud.

1.52pm GMT

64 min “I think it would have shown great forward thinking by the WBA ownership had they provided away fans with A4 sheets of paper and marker pens,” says our Wexit correspondent Ian Copestake.

1.50pm GMT

62 min “Arsene strikes me as a modular synth guy in the vein of Jean Michel Jarre – admired by the purists for his technical grasp of difficult analogue systems and methods (Dennis Bergkamp perhaps the most “analogue synth-esque player of the Wenger era), but fundamentally the fans find the lack of chart toppers hard to stomach after a while, and wish he would just invest in some quality session musicians and make a more typical record, rather than noodling constantly with weird synth patches and filters.”

That’s no way to talk about Per Mertesacker.

1.47pm GMT

60 min Big Hal Robson-Kanu had been on the field for about 74 seconds when he scored that goal. Not even Quasimodo predicted that.

1.47pm GMT

59 min “I firmly believe,” says Ian Copestake, “that if defenders and such had just stood off Maradona and admired sharing the turf with him rather than hacking him to bits in the name of defensive duties, he would never have picked up that air rifle.”

1.46pm GMT

Arsenal aren’t happy about this. McClean played the ball infield from the left to Chadli, who lofted a return pass over the top. Ospina came out feet first to clear but the ball hit Robson-Kanu, who reacted smartly to poke it into the net. It went through the legs of McClean, who was standing behind the keeper and in an offside position, but also reacted smartly to spread his legs and ensure he didn’t touch the ball. The referee went to the linesman to check, with Arsenal encouraging him to disallow the goal, but by the laws of the game it was fine. I have no idea why Ospina didn’t use his hands there.

1.43pm GMT

Big Hal Robson-Kanu gives West Brom the lead with a comedy goal!

1.43pm GMT

55 min “Or,” says Steven Hughes, “the brilliant Noel Gallagher music video commentary.”

1.42pm GMT

54 min Rondon is coming off, to be replaced by Big Hal Robson-Kanu.

1.40pm GMT

51 min A good chance for Rondon to score his first goal since the millennium. Brunt, in space on the left, curls over a beautiful cross towards the six-yard box, where Rondon gets above Koscielny and flicks a header just wide of the far post. Koscielny just about did enough to put him off.

1.39pm GMT

50 min Rondon tries to shoulder charge Bellerin, misses and ends up on his arse.

1.37pm GMT

48 min Sanchez is penalised for fouling Dawson and has a long moan at the referee. He’ll be booked for dissent at some stage. I do have a bit of sympathy for him though, because he’s been cynically fouled a few times in this match.

1.33pm GMT

46 min Peep peep! West Brom begin the second half, kicking from right to left.

1.33pm GMT

A few of you have suggested that, had McClean’s foul on Sanchez been committed by Xhaka on a West Brom player, he would have sent off. That might be true, though I don’t think it was close to a red-card offence.

1.23pm GMT

Half-time chit-chat

“Andy Hinchcliffe’s Dad once made a wooden doll’s house for one of my kids,” says David McMurrugh. “He was an accountant but that was his hobby.”

1.19pm GMT

Half-time reading

Related: David Wagner’s survivalist mentality steels Huddersfield for the big time

1.19pm GMT

Peep peep! The scoreline is about right after a good half of football. West Brom were dangerous from corners and counters; Arsenal were dangerous when Alexis Sanchez had the ball. See you in 10 minutes for the second half.

1.19pm GMT

45+3 min And he’s a dog person.

1.18pm GMT

45+2 min When Xhaka overhits a return pass in a dangerous area, Sanchez’s face aches with frustration. I know some of his behaviour has been iffy of late, but by god he is magnificent. He is everything you could want in a player.

1.15pm GMT

45+1 min Sanchez is back back back.

1.14pm GMT

45 min “Pulis would play the kazoo,” says Justin O’Gorman. That’s a compliment, rig- “You can just about get a basic tune out of it. Nobody ever takes you seriously, though.”

1.13pm GMT

44 min Sanchez is limping to the touchline after that tackle, which wasn’t the best. I suspect he’ll be okay for the second half.

1.12pm GMT

43 min Finally somebody is booked for a foul on Sanchez. It’s McClean, who sent him flying with a sliding tackle.

1.12pm GMT

42 min “The theremin, I think, for Wenger,” says Charles Antaki. “It requires a professorial, not to say aloof posture, can yield beautiful harmonies, but with poor handling produces discordant notes and horrible, screaming protest.”

1.11pm GMT

41 min Xhaka shoots from 35 yards, but does so with a lack of conviction that suggests he realised halfway through the kicking motion that it was an entirely futile gesture. It was too late to abort so he just wafted it gently miles wide of goal.

1.09pm GMT

39 min “I was at that 5-2 game with my partner, Tessa, who’s not a football fan,” says Tom Levesley. “She thought it was unfair that Albion had to play a team of people so much bigger and better. A good assessment. We were finding our feet in the Prem still and it’s fair to say it was indeed men against boys that night.”

Arsenal were bloody terrifying in the autumn of 2002. It was men against boys in every game until a 16-year-old boy called Rooney finally brought them down.

1.07pm GMT

37 min David Ospina replaces Cech, who is applauded off the field by both sets of supporters.

1.06pm GMT

36 min Petr Cech has injured himself and needs to come off. He injured himself while passing the ball to Mustafi; it looks like a calf or hamstring problem.

1.04pm GMT

34 min Now it’s West Brom who almost take the lead. Livermore shapes an imaginative through pass that sits up perfectly for Fletcher to whack first time across goal, and Cech flies to his right to turn it behind. This is a really enjoyable game.

1.03pm GMT

33 min Fine save from Foster! The chance was made by the roaming Sanchez, who cracked an excellent angled pass to Ramsey in the box. He turned smoothly and clipped an excellent left-footed shot towards the far corner. It looked like it was going in but Foster got down really smartly to his left to save. That led to a desperate scramble in the box, during which Walcott almost scored, before Nyom cleared.

1.01pm GMT

31 min Rondon, found by Chadli on the break, drags a low shot through Mustafi’s legs and a few yards wide of the far post. It was a decent effort from a prohibitive angle.

1.00pm GMT

30 min “On the theme of Pulis’ potential music video – which musical instruments would these two managers play, if they gave up the day job and fancied a career a little less fickle and popularity-driven than that of Premier League manager?” muses Matt Loten. “Pulis would be all about the acoustic guitar I feel: dependable; unflashy; gets the job done but hardly likely to set the pulses racing. Wenger would of course pick something wafty and elegant, but outmoded in today’s pop-and-rock world. The harp, perhaps?”

I think Pulis would be the electric guitar, and a member of Status Quo. Wenger would play the fourth flute part, and when he played the second flute nobody would notice.

12.57pm GMT

27 min A dangerous corner from Brunt flashes across the six-yard box. Arsenal break and Sanchez is pulled back by Rondon; like McAuley earlier, he’s lucky not to be booked. Sanchez is ticking in the comedy style.

12.56pm GMT

26 min The game hasn’t really settled down since those two quick goals, but now West Brom have a corner and that’s as good as a penalty.

12.54pm GMT

24 min Sanchez is warned for repeatedly complaining about being fouled. There’s a lovely English football logic in that.

12.53pm GMT

22 min The Sky commentator Andy Hinchcliffe continues to do his nut about the defending for both goals, specifically Arsenal allowing Dawson a clear run, and Chadli not bothering to share a postcode with Sanchez in the West Brom area. Hinchcliffe, quietly, is one of the best co-commentators on Sky I think. He does what so few co-commentators do – he gives you the expert’s view rather than repeating the commentary. The only slight downside is that his voice always sounds a bit worried, as if he’s commentating on the game but is preoccupied with the nagging concern that he didn’t lock the back door when he came out.

12.51pm GMT

20 min “It’s nearly 11 at night, there is a seriously large storm outside and I’m watching Aberdeen play Hearts rather than the Premier League,” says Phil Withall. “Is this a sign of the mundane nature of the Premier League or a more deep seated aversion to hype over substance?”

I’m going forthe latter. Either that or you have extra-special hipster foresight and know that Scottish football will be so damn hot in five years’ time.

12.49pm GMT

19 min Sanchez spins McAuley brilliantly 35 yards from goal and is pulled back. McAuley might have been booked for that. Sanchez looks extremely sharp today.

12.47pm GMT

Arsenal passed the ball around patiently, waiting for an opening. Eventually Xhaka drilled a good crossfield pass to Sanchez, who was in an absurd amount of space on the left side of the box. He took it on the chest, came inside the covering Dawson and smashed the ball in off the bar from eight yards.

12.46pm GMT

Arsenal are level straight away!

12.44pm GMT

West Brom are so good at set pieces and they have done it again. Chadli curled it into the six-yard box from the left and Dawson got a run on Koscielny to flash a close-range header into the net. That was so simple. Cech was nowhere and Dawson, who came from deep, towered above everyone to win the header.

12.43pm GMT

West Brom take the lead from a set piece.

12.42pm GMT

12 min Cech makes a good save to deny McClean. It came from a fine counter-attack. Brunt played a crisp straight pass through to McClean, who ran into the area and belted a shot towards the near post from the left side of the box. Cech’s positioning was excellent and he pushed it behind for a corner.

12.41pm GMT

10 min Tony Pulis harrumphs on the touchline when a decision goes against West Brom. He has his baseball cap on as usual. Surely it’s time for him to do a charity single, with saucy video, entitled ‘You Can Leave Your Cap On’.

12.37pm GMT

6 min Almost a goal for Arsenal at the other end. Sanchez plays a great through pass to the overlapping Monreal, who crosses low towards Walcott in the six-yard box. Foster does well to smother the chance. I’m not sure whether it was Foster or Walcott who got to the ball first; either way, Foster got a touch at some stage and it was excellent goalkeeping.

12.35pm GMT

5 min What a run from Nyom! He bulldozed skilfully past three players on the left before clipping the ball right across the face of goal. The final ball wasn’t great actually – he should have cut it back to Rondon – but his powerful, fleet-footed run was magnificent.

12.32pm GMT

3 min The pattern of the match has already been established: West Brom defending deep and narrow, Arsenal having loads of the ball. They are actually playing with Welbeck up front and Sanchez on the left.

12.30pm GMT

1 min Peep peep! Arsenal, in yellow, kick off from right to left. West Brom are in the usual blue and white.

12.29pm GMT

Mind the time when…

12.25pm GMT

“I notice West Brom have had difficulty scoring goals this season,” says Kevin Ryan. “Bournemouth have scored four more than them and 16th placed Swansea the same number (36). However judging by the photo of Arsene Wenger striding across today’s pitch the Baggies have come up with a brilliant solution – have two goals at each end. Excellent idea! Maybe they should also campaign for a novel amendment to the existing rules i.e goalkeepers not being allowed to use hands.”

You jest, but I give it 10 years, tops, before a lightbulb goes on in Gianni Infantino’s head.

12.20pm GMT

“Afternoon Rob,” says Matt Loten. “Oxlade-Chamberlain, Walcott and Welbeck all in Arsenal’s starting line-up today; who would have thought that of the three, The Ox would be the only one to make the latest England squad? He’s probably the most naturally talented of the three, and his breakthrough performance against Barcelona, which had shades of Jack Wilshere a few years prior, would cause most football purists to swoon. Much like, Wilshere, however, Oxlade-Chamberlain hasn’t really kicked on, and seems to have fallen foul of late-Wenger’s decision to keep experienced, trophy-laden pros to a minimum – how might his career have panned out had he learnt under Vieira, Fabregas or even Ray Parlour? On the other hand, I’d have taken Walcott and Welbeck in a heartbeat, given Theo’s form and the national team’s current lack of options up front.”

Yes, I agree about Oxlade-Chamberlain – that dressing-room osmosis is incredibly important. I’m sure Welbeck will be a squad regular once he has a run of games.

11.33am GMT

West Brom (4-2-3-1) Foster; Dawson, McAuley, Evans, Nyom; Fletcher, Livermore; Brunt, Chadli, McClean; Rondon.
Substitutes: Myhill, Wilson, Olsson, Yacob, Leko, Field, Robson-Kanu.

Arsenal (4-2-3-1) Cech; Bellerin, Mustafi, Koscielny, Monreal; Oxlade-Chamberlain, Xhaka; Walcott, Ramsey, Welbeck; Sanchez.
Substitutes: Ospina, Gabriel, Mertesacker, Iwobi, Elneny, Coquelin, Giroud.

6.01pm GMT

Hello. Melodrama is the new stability. We have become a society full of Eastenders characters, addicted to narcissistrionics. That is especially true of football, which gets more infantile by the day, and means that Tony Pulis and Arsène Wenger – the high priests of Premier League stability – get nowhere near the credit they deserve.

Pulis has been one of the managers of the season; Wenger the most scandalously treated. They have – and have had – their differences but they share an old-school philosophy and certain non-negotiable standards of behaviour. They are good men in a bad industry. Their teams meet today, with humble but admirable targets in mind: Pulis wants to establish West Brom in the top 10, Wenger wants to keep Arsenal in the top four and continue their pound-for-pound overachievement.

Continue reading…

Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/football/live/2017/mar/18/west-bromwich-albion-v-arsenal-premier-league-live

Mar 15

Atlético Madrid 0-0 Bayer Leverkusen: Champions League last 16, second leg – as it happened

Atlético Madrid eased into the quarter-finals for the fourth consecutive season after an entertaining goalless draw with Leverkusen

9.36pm GMT

Peep peep! Atletico are into the quarter-finals for the fourth consecutive season. The game was more fun than the scoreline suggests, with some classy attacking play – particularly from Leverkusen – and some beautiful goalkeeping from Oblak and Leno. Thanks for your company, goodnight.

9.31pm GMT

89 min Gaitan is booked for a high tackle on Kampl.

9.29pm GMT

87 min When The Joy of Six: Meaningless 0-0s is written, this will be in there. It has defied all logic by being an enjoyable, engaging game.

9.28pm GMT

86 min Griezmann stabs a pass into Saul on the edge of the area. He turns and whacks a low left-footed shot that is comfortably held by the sprawling Leno.

9.27pm GMT

84 min Godin has had a superb game tonight. He could easily have coasted but his beyond-the-call commitment sums up the sheer pride of this Atletico side.

9.22pm GMT

80 min The substitute Bailey cuts across an awkward, bouncing shot from 25 yards that is turned behind by the diving Oblak. The corner is played short and worked to Kampl, whose low 25-yard curler is again repelled by Oblak, a good save as he was probably unsighted.

9.21pm GMT

78 min The match is starting to peter out. Leverkusen bring on Leon Bailey for the impressive Julian Brandt.

9.16pm GMT

73 min Bellarabi’s fierce left-footed shot from the edge of the box is spilled by Oblak, but Savic is on hand to beat Hernandez to the loose ball and concede a corner. Leverkusen have had their moments tonight.

9.14pm GMT

72 min Another Atletico change: Stefan Savic comes on for Yannick Carrasco.

9.14pm GMT

71 min Baumgartlinger is booked for pulling back Vrsaljko.

9.12pm GMT

70 min Griezmann misses a chance, rifling wide of the near post from a tightish angle after a good pass from Carrasco.

9.11pm GMT

68 min Oblak makes a tremendous triple save to deny first Brandt and then Volland. The second and third stops, both from Volland, were especially good as he had to get to his feet each time. The ball then deflects to Hernandez, whose low shot is deflected just wide of the far post by one of the four Atletico defenders guarding the goal as a mother guards her cubs.

9.09pm GMT

66 min Another classy take from Hernandez prompts a bad foul from Gimenez, who is booked.

9.07pm GMT

65 min Gimenez goes over in the box after a slight shove from Hilbert. The referee isn’t interested.

9.07pm GMT

64 min A change for Atletico: Nicolas Gaitan replaces the lively Angel Correa.

9.06pm GMT

63 min The smooth, talented Brandt tries to run the last man Godin, who stretches to make a vital tackle. Atletico break and Correa is fouled by Jedvaj, who is booked.

9.05pm GMT

62 min A nice chipped pass into the area by Kampl is taken beautifully on the turn by Hernandez, who is denied a clear chance by a desperate tackle from Gimenez. Leverkusen have shown a lot of class going forward.

9.03pm GMT

60 min Griezmann sprays a languid, swirling crossfield pass to the indefatigable Vrsaljko, who wins a corner. That leads to a second corner, this time on the left. It’s played short to Correa, who stabs it up in the air and belts a dangerous volleyed cross on the turn that is cleared at the near post.

9.00pm GMT

57 min Griezmann is played through on the right-hand side of the box. He has no support so goes for a right-footed chip that beats Leno and drifts just wide of the far post. That was a lovely effort. For a meaningless game, this has been great.

8.59pm GMT

54 min A chance at the other end for Atletico. Correa beats two players in a tight area and tries to swerve a left-footed daisy cutter into far corner. It curls a couple of yards wide. Had it gone in, it would have almost identical to this goal.

8.57pm GMT

53 min Ach! Another tantalising moment for Leverkusen. Brandt beats four players in a tight area with a lovely piece of skill and then plays a through pass to Volland on the right of the box. He tries to give Hernandez a tap-in at the far post but puts too much on his angled pass and it drifts behind for a goalkick.

8.52pm GMT

49 min Volland, who has put himself about in the retro-masculine style tonight, is a bit fortunate not to be booked for a hack at Saul Niguez.

8.49pm GMT

46 min Peep peep! Atletico begin the second half and have a half-chance after seven seconds. Wendell miscontrolled the ball straight to Griezmann, who dragged a first-time shot wide from 18 yards.

8.48pm GMT

“Hi Rob,” says John Parry. “Just popped into the Atletico supporters” bar opposite my flat in Málaga for a nose, on the way home from my Spanish lesson. Not one single person was looking at the telly. But there are specials on soup and fried anchovies, so it’s no wonder really.”

Ginsters anchovies, I hope.

8.32pm GMT

Peep peep! That was a fun half of football, despite the situation in the tie. Leverkusen had a lot of half-chances, and their keeper Leno made two lovely saves at the other end. See you in 10 minutes to see if Leverkusen can outmiracle Barcelona.

8.29pm GMT

42 min If this was a first-leg match it would be a bit of a cracker. There have been plenty of opportunities at both ends and here’s another for Leverkusen. Kampl dinks an elegant pass over four defenders for Hernandez, whose first-time half-volley on the turn hits Godin and spins behind for a corner. That was a crucial block from Godin, seven yards from his own goal.

8.27pm GMT

41 min Matt Dony sent this email at precisely the moment I posted that Leverkusen video, showing once again that nostalgia is so damn hot right now. Or should it be nostalgia was so damn hot right then? Anyway.

“After spending my late teens exclusively working on musical snobbery, I fell back in love with football in my early 20’s. Early 00’s Champions League was a big part of that, and it’s funny how individual moments stick in your brain. I can’t think of Leverkusen without seeing Gerrard slide past Ballack dummying a shot, before cutting back on his left and spanking one in. I can’t remember exactly what the final score was, but I can see that goal clear as day. Then, a few games later, Leverkusen allowed Zidane to teach us all the true meaning of the word ‘volley’. Magnificent times.”

8.26pm GMT

40 min Leno makes another lovely save. Griezmann played a long pass infield to Koke, who fed it forward to Correa and kept running. Correa played a square return pass with a weight that allowed Koke to smack a low first-time drive towards the bottom corner from 25 yards. Leno got down really smartly to his right to turn it behind for a corner.

8.24pm GMT

38 min The best moment of the match. A beautifully weighted touch from Griezmann allows Correa to make an angled run into the box, away from Jedvaj, before striking a near-post shot that is beautifully tipped round by Leno. That was an exceptional save.

8.23pm GMT

37 min Kampl moves away from Koke and tries a shot from 25 yards. It goes high over the bar. Three points for trying though.

8.21pm GMT

35 min This match is being played on a mezzanine level between friendly and competitive. Hernandez turns smartly on the edge of the box before his attempted pass to Brandt is blocked by Partey.

8.19pm GMT

33 min In lieu of any action in 2017, let’s go back to the beautiful season of 2001-02. Now that was a time for cigarettes and booze.

8.16pm GMT

32 min A precis of the incident in the last five minutes:

8.13pm GMT

27 min At the other end Godin’s headed clearance comes to Baumgartlinger, who loops a volley over the bar from 25 yards. Leverkusen have dominated, though it doesn’t feel like there is anything for Atletico to worry about.

8.10pm GMT

25 min Wendell’s headed clearance comes to Koke, who volleys an awkward dropping ball into orbit.

8.08pm GMT

23 min “Will Fernando Torres get some minutes, as they say, tonight?” says Charles Antaki. “As a story arc, his is a lot more satisfying than many recent Spanish ex-international strikers; yes, David Villa had fun in the MLS, but consider Morientes,or the current pair of Premiership strugglers Negredo and Llorente. A few minutes in a Champions’ League knockout stage isn’t too shabby…”

8.07pm GMT

21 min Leverkusen are creating opportunities. Brandt’s cut back from the left side of the box finds Hernandez, who sweeps a snapshot over the bar from 10 yards. For a finisher of his class that was a decent chance.

8.06pm GMT

20 min If Leverkusen are to do anything here – and as you can probably tell, this flight of fancy comes from sheer boredom on my part – they probably need to be at least 1-0 up at half-time. After that, they can follow the George Graham/Anfield 89 route to success.

8.06pm GMT

8.05pm GMT

17 min “I’m reading your MBM because I’m at work here in Chicago and I have recorded the Monaco/Man City match to watch when I get home,” says Matt Burtz. “Don’t worry about spoiling the first goal in that one though!”

Oof, apologies. I’ll keep quiet about John Stones punching Pep Guardiola straight in his confused coupon.

8.02pm GMT

15 min Chances at both ends. Correa’s shot is blocked by a Leverkusen defender after a gorgeous disguised pass from Carrasco; Leverkusen break and Hernandez plays a simple through ball to Brandt, who delays his shot and is dispossessed by Vrsaljko.

7.59pm GMT

14 min In the nicest possible way, there is absolutely no point to any of this. European football should have a throw-in-the-towel option ahead of the second leg.

7.58pm GMT

12 min “If this tournament is a corollary to the 2016 PDC then I calculate Leverkusen are Alan Norris and will beat Mark Webster’s Atletico tonight,” says Greg Phillips. “It’s not too late to put a fiver on it.”

But will you bet responsibly?

7.57pm GMT

11 min Atletico pass the clock down for a minute or two. Vrsaljko wins a corner after a lovely one-two with the frequently outstanding Koke. The corner is swung out by Koke and headed towards goal by the under pressure Gimenez. It loops up and is easily claimed by Leno.

7.55pm GMT

9 min I suspect you are elsewhere. And if you’re not, you should be: Monaco are 1-0 up against Manchester City.

Related: Monaco v Manchester City: Champions League last 16, second leg – live!

7.51pm GMT

6 min Leverkusen have started very well for a team who are 99.99999 per cent certain to go out. They have had most of the possession and look sharp in attack, especially Bellarabi.

7.50pm GMT

4 min An early chance for Leverkusen. Kampl feeds a good pass into Volland, who turns beautifully just inside the area and drives a low shot just wide of the far post.

7.48pm GMT

3 min The right-winger Bellarabi beats Lucas, promisingly, and then belts a cross straight out of play, not so promisingly.

7.47pm GMT

2 min A quiet start to the match, so here’s some Leverkusen-themed porn for you.

7.45pm GMT

1 min Peep peep! Leverkusen, in black, kick off from right to left. Atletico are wearing the usual.

7.39pm GMT

Tonight’s soundtrack is for an eternal friend.

7.38pm GMT

“A night of celebration for Atletico, you say?” says Matt Dony. “They might even have a Partey on the pitch. I’m here all week. Try the patatas bravas.”

If someone mentions doing the Hokey Koke…

7.27pm GMT

Barcelona 6-1 PSG, Manchester City 5-3 Monaco, Leicester 2-0 Sevilla, Arsenal 2-159 Bayern Munich … this has been the most eye-widening last-16 stage in any major sport since the 2016 PDC World Championship. If Leverkusen go through tonight, it might even top that.

6.58pm GMT

Atletico Madrid (4-4-2) Oblak; Vrsaljko, Gimenez, Godin, Lucas Hernandez; Saul Niguez, Partey, Koke, Carrasco; Correa, Griezmann.
Substitutes: Moya, Torres, Savic, Cerci, Juanfran, Gaitan, Juan Moreno.

Bayer Leverkusen (4-2-3-1) Leno; Hilbert, Jedvaj, Dragovic, Wendell; Baumgartlinger, Kampl; Bellararbi, Volland, Brandt; Hernandez.
Substitutes: Ozcan, Bailey, Mehmedi, Pohjanpalo, Aranguiz, da Costa, Yurchenko.

10.56am GMT

“There’s nothing that can’t be done,” said Michael McManus, dead-eyed hero of the Usual Suspects. Half an hour later he took a serrated one in the neck from Keyser Soze, proving that some things really can’t be done. Ask Bayer Leverkusen. They need to score at least three goals in Madrid, maybe more, if they are to overturn a 4-2 first-leg defeat. We’re all friends here, so let us speak frankly: this tie is over.

This, then, should be a night of celebration for Atletico, who will reach a fourth consecutive European Cup quarter-final. They are the charismatic, uninvited guests who have crashed crash an era of big-club dominance. They ended Real Madrid and Barcelona’s La Liga duopoly. If they can end their Champions League duopoly as well, especially after losing two finals in such heartbreaking circumstances, it’ll be the greatest achievement since Brian Clough wore a green jumper.

Related: Fernando Torres hands Atlético Madrid control against Bayer Leverkusen

Continue reading…

Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/football/live/2017/mar/15/atletico-madrid-v-bayer-leverkusen-champions-league-last-16-second-leg-live

Mar 12

Liverpool 2-1 Burnley: Premier League – as it happened

Liverpool came from behind to defeat Burnley at Anfield, with Emre Can hammering a tremendous winning goal

6.19pm GMT

Related: Liverpool struggle past Burnley thanks to Emre Can and Lowton’s miss

5.51pm GMT

Winning ugly is not Liverpool’s forte, so this will give them a fair bit of pleasure. They didn’t play well and had to come from behind, with Emre Can’s cracking goal deciding the match. They are now five points clear of fifth-placed Arsenal, though they have played two games more. Burnley were Burnley, admirable but limited. They shouldn’t have any problems staying up, despite their wretched away record. Thanks for your company, night.

5.50pm GMT

90+3 min What a chance for Burnley! Liverpool couldn’t clear a long throw for love nor money. Eventually Keane headed the ball back across goal, and Lowton lobbed it over the bar from six yards. As Gary Neville on Sky, if he had his time again he probably wouldn’t let that bounce. Once it did, he was always going to have trouble getting over the ball.

5.47pm GMT

90+1 min There will be four added minutes. Burnley can’t get the ball.

5.46pm GMT

90 min Burnley make another change: the teenager Daniel Agyei replaces Scott Arfield.

5.46pm GMT

89 min Can gets a lucky rebound and chips a beautiful pass over the defence for Mane, whose rising shot is acrobatically tipped over by Heaton.

5.45pm GMT

88 min Woodburn’s fierce 25-yard shot is blocked. He looks a tremendous prospect.

5.44pm GMT

87 min Liverpool break dangerously but Mane overhits his pass to Woodburn, whose attempted return cross deflects behind off the sliding Ward.

5.41pm GMT

85 min Despite their best efforts, Liverpool’s defence don’t look like conceding an equaliser here. Burnley have had a fair bit of the ball since going behind but they have been pretty impotent, certainly in open play.

5.40pm GMT

82 min “As a Paddy, I’m obviously hoping Robbie Brady does something here for Burnley,” writes Paul Neilan. “Hopefully, he onionbags one because his knee-slides are simply the best in the business.”

Using onionbag is a verb is tremendous, and something I’ll be stealing without shame or appropriate credit.

5.38pm GMT

81 min Vokes nicks the ball off Matip, who does excellently to redeem his initial mistake with a desperate and crucial tackle in the box.

5.37pm GMT

80 min Another long free-kick from Heaton is headed to the edge of the area by Matip and slashed wide on the half-volley by Brady. He had to take it with his right foot rather than his left, which is the main reason he didn’t get it on target.

5.36pm GMT

80 min And now Burnley make another substitution, Sam Vokes for Andre Gray.

5.35pm GMT

79 min Liverpool make a change, with Lucas replacing Divock Origi.

5.34pm GMT

76 min Breaking news: Ben Woodburn has got it. He hasn’t done much of note in this game but everything he has done has demonstrated a mature accomplishment that is beyond 99.94 per cent of 17-year-olds.

5.32pm GMT

75 min Mignolet comes almost to the edge of the area to make another decisive punch from a lofted free-kick. He has been excellent on set-pieces today.

5.29pm GMT

72 min Burnley make a change: Robbie Brady on, George Boyd off.

5.28pm GMT

71 min Woodburn has replaced Coutinho and he replicated him there, zipping infield from the left and whipping a very dangerous inswinging cross that flashed over Origi’s head and just wide of the far post.

5.26pm GMT

69 min Heaton launches a free-kick into the area, where his opposite number Mignolet does really well to punch clear despite being simultaneously fouled by Mee and Keane.

5.25pm GMT

68 min Burnley area having a decent spell in response to going behind. They won’t give up, even in the face of apparently imminent defeat. What the cops never figured out, and what I know now, was that these men would never break, never lie down, never bend over for anybody. Anybody.

5.23pm GMT

67 min “Well, look at my ignint butt,” says Paul Neinan, who wrote an ode to Can after 32 minutes. “The game is gone.”

5.22pm GMT

66 min There have only been three shots on target in the match. Analyse that.

5.20pm GMT

63 min The goalscorer Can is booked for a foul on Barnes. The resulting free-kick almost leads to an instant equaliser for Burnley. It pinballed around the area until Barnes’s close-range shot was desperately blocked by a combination of Klavan and Lallana.

5.19pm GMT

That came from nowhere. Can received a square pass 25 yards from goal, moved the ball into a shooting position with his first touch and hit a perfectly placed low shot. It beat Heaton for pace and flew into the bottom-right corner.

5.17pm GMT

A brilliant goal from Emre Can gives Liverpool the lead.

5.17pm GMT

60 min An interesting change from Jurgen Klopp: Coutinho is replaced by the teenage forward Ben Woodburn.

5.16pm GMT

59 min A beautiful cross from Coutinho causes chaos in the Burnley box, which eventually leads to a corner, and then another corner. Nothing comes of it but these are testing times for Burnley.

5.14pm GMT

58 min Barton is booked for shoving Wijnaldum over just outside the box on the right.

5.14pm GMT

57 min Coutinho has had an unusually poor game, littered with basic errors.

5.12pm GMT

55 min A good counter-attack from Burnley. Barnes peels away to the left to receive Barton’s crossfield pass. He has Gray in the centre but his cross is cleared by Klavan. A few seconds later, Barnes hoofs a volley into orbit from a tight angle.

5.06pm GMT

50 min Liverpool have started the second half better than the first, though they are still a fair way from their liquid best.

5.05pm GMT

48 min “Hi Rob,” says Peter Oh. “Great to see the Dutchman equalise! My young kids and I have taken to calling him Wijnaldinho, given his recent goal-scoring exploits.” I think all 16 of his Premier League goals have been at home, which is a minor statgasm if I ever I felt one.

5.02pm GMT

46 min Peep peep! Liverpool begin the second half, kicking from left to right.

4.52pm GMT

Half-time reading

Related: Kazuyoshi Miura scores at 50 to beat Sir Stanley Matthews’ record

4.51pm GMT

Half-time chit-chat

“I see that Burnley have Tarkowski on the bench,” says Gary Naylor. “I’m guessing that he’s slow, lacking in drive, but a lovely player to watch. Though you might have to go to film school for five years to appreciate him fully.”

4.48pm GMT

Peep peep! That goal completely changes the mood of the match. Burnley were in control for most of the first half but will expect a second-half onslaught now. See you in 10 minutes.

4.46pm GMT

Liverpool equalise on the stroke of half-time. After a very neat passing move, Origi curls in a cross from the left towards Wijnaldum. His flick hits Mee and lands invitingly in front of goal, where Wijnaldum has time to compose himself and force the ball past Heaton.

4.44pm GMT

45 min Ashley Barnes is given a final warning for repeated pain-in-the-arsery.

4.44pm GMT

43 min “Can is, somehow, a live grenade looking to explode,” says Paul Neilan, “yet has all the pace of – Eamon Dunphy’s words about Ian Harte – ‘a loaf of bread with the hand-brake on’.”

4.42pm GMT

42 min Milner’s deep, lofted cross bounces off the shoulder of Origi and wide of goal. He was under pressure from Mee and couldn’t time his jump properly.

4.41pm GMT

41 min “Dear Rob,” says Putera Satria. “I was wondering whether your full first name is ‘Robin’? If yes, then you must be a generous man like Jurgen Klopp, the modern-day Robin Hood who came to the Premiership in a divine, egalitarian mission to collect points from the rich top-six clubs and distribute them to those in need, like Burnley.”

It isn’t, but I do also rob people, especially employers.

4.40pm GMT

40 min Liverpool are having their best spell of the match, though that isn’t saying too much.

4.39pm GMT

39 min “Afternoon Rob,” says Matt Loten. “Is there something to the theory that, even when the first-choice XI is fully fit, Liverpool’s lack of depth is what is holding them back? Though the defence clearly requires surgery, Klopp’s high-intensity gameplan surely can’t be expected to maintain its effectiveness over a whole season without a modicum of rotation. When Mane was missing, that was why Liverpool lost; when Coutinho was injured, that was the key; and now that Firmino is missing, it’s the same story. For me, it’s also down to the fact that this style of play demands depth of squad, regardless of luck with injuries and suspension.”

I still think the defence is the biggest problem. It’s one thing to lose to teams in the bottom half, another to lose with scores like 4-3 and 3-2. But they aren’t far away. At their best they are the most exhilarating team in the country I think, but yes, they need at least four players in the summer given their exisiting inadequacies and increased workload next season.

4.38pm GMT

38 min Liverpool make a dreadful mess of a free-kick 30 yards from goal. Milner plays it short to Wijnaldum, who seems unprepared for the execution of that particular masterplan and hoofs it into orbit.

4.37pm GMT

36 min Mee is booked for a trip on Lallana, who did him with a beautiful piece of skill, an unwitting homage to Fowler on Staunton.

4.33pm GMT

32 min “Good God, Can is a horrible player,” says Rolf Wilhelm. “A lumbering freekick machine who always takes too many touches on the ball.”

4.32pm GMT

31 min Clyne’s cross deflects behind off Mee’s raised arm. Liverpool get a corner rather than a free-kick in a slightly better position. It’s a poor one from Coutinho, easily cleared by Boyd.

4.30pm GMT

28 min “There’s always a slightly seedy, Weimarish atmosphere in casinos – always a guilty pleasure for me,” says Gary Naylor. “Just seen a show at The Hippodrome nicely timed to finish as the match started and now I’m spinning out a coffee waiting to see how long it will be before Klopp rolls the dice. Given a defence best described as “craps”, it might not be long.”

Yes, if they had Henchoz and Hyypia they’d probably win the league.

4.28pm GMT

27 min Barton’s dreadful pass launches a Liverpool attack. Eventually Can’s long-range rattler is kicked away by Keane.

4.26pm GMT

26 min Lowton’s long throw finds its way through to Gray, who rolls Matip before blasting a shot over the bar from a very tight angle.

4.25pm GMT

25 min The corner is played short, to no positive effect whatsoever. Liverpool, who were wonderful against Arsenal last week, are not on their game at all today. The absence of the subtle, underrated Firmino can’t help.

4.24pm GMT

24 min Mane, the liveliest Liverpool attacker by far, wins a free-kick 40 yards from goal. That leads to another corner on the right, which will be taken by Coutinho.

4.21pm GMT

21 min Barnes volleys just wide from Ward’s excellent cross. It wouldn’t have counted as he was offside.

4.21pm GMT

20 min Liverpool win three corners in quick succession on the right. The third is headed clear to the dangerous Gray, whose one-man counter-attack is ended by a deliberate foul from Milner. He should have been booked.

4.18pm GMT

17 min Burnley still look very comfortable. Liverpool often demolish teams in the first half an hour at Anfield but they have been weirdly sluggish so far.

4.14pm GMT

13 min The electric Mane leaves Mee for dead on the right and lofts a cross that is just beyond the head of Origi.

4.12pm GMT

11 min The atmosphere is weirdly flat at Anfield. It was even before the goal.

4.08pm GMT

That was a superb goal. It was made by the right-back Lowton, who received the ball 35 yards from goal in a narrow position. He looked up and curled a wonderful ball around the retreating Liverpool defence. It was missed at the near post by Gray but Barnes stretched with his wrong foot, the right, to stab it past the diving Mignolet.

4.07pm GMT

Ashley Barnes gives Burnley the lead!

4.07pm GMT

7 min Gray makes another excellent run to beat the offside trap. Milner does enough to delay Gray, whose eventual cross is headed clear by Matip.

4.06pm GMT

6 min Gray makes a good run down the right channel and plays a decent ball right across the face of goal. Barnes just couldn’t get there.

4.05pm GMT

5 min Burnley win the first corner of the match. It’s half cleared to Boyd inside the D and he swishes a decent half-volley a few yards over the bar.

4.02pm GMT

2 min The usual fast start from Liverpool. Mane skins Lowton with ease on the left touchline and cuts the ball back towards Coutinho at the near post. The well positioned Keane nips in to make a vital interception.

4.00pm GMT

1 min Burnley kick off from left to right.

3.46pm GMT

FA Cup latest

Spurs have joined Arsenal and Manchester City in the last four. Chelsea or Manchester United will completely the most powerful semi-final line-up in decades. Or since 2009, I’m not sure which.

Related: Tottenham Hotspur v Millwall: FA Cup quarter-final – live!

3.03pm GMT

Liverpool (4-3-3) Mignolet; Clyne, Matip, Klavan, Milner; Can, Wijnaldum, Lallana; Mane, Origi, Coutinho.
Substitutes: Karius, Moreno, Lucas, Woodburn, Wilson, Alexander-Arnold, Gomez.

Burnley (4-4-2) Heaton; Lowton, Keane, Mee, Ward; Boyd, Barton, Hendrick, Arfield; Gray, Barnes.
Substitutes: Vokes, Brady, Westwood, Agyei, Tarkowski, Robinson, Darikwa.

1.38pm GMT

Hello. Liverpool are the rough-track bullies of the Premier League: brilliant against the big teams, not so good against the smaller sides. That unusual pattern was established right at the start of the season: they won their first game 4-3 at Arsenal and followed up with a 2-0 defeat at Burnley.

Burnley, in 12th, are the highest-placed of the five teams to beat Liverpool in the league this season, and this match is Liverpool’s last tricky fixture before two guaranteed wins against Manchester City and Everton. A win would take Liverpool nowhere, as they are stuck in fourth for the time being. If Burnley win away for the first time this season, they will move into the top ten.

Related: Liverpool v Burnley: match preview

Continue reading…

Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/football/live/2017/mar/12/liverpool-v-burnley-premier-league-live

Mar 11

Arsenal 5-0 Lincoln City: FA Cup quarter-final – as it happened

Non-league Lincoln played superbly for 45 minutes at the Emirates before Arsenal’s superior class and fitness told in a one-sided second half

7.39pm GMT

Related: Theo Walcott opens floodgates for Arsenal to end Lincoln’s fairytale run

7.27pm GMT

Peep peep! Arsenal ease into the last four of the FA Cup with an ultimately comfortable win. Lincoln’s magical cup campaign is over; they won’t be forgotten in a hurry. They were very good for 45 minutes, before Theo Walcott’s goal inevitably opened the floodgates. Lincoln won’t be going to Wembley but they have achieved something even rarer: they have joined the FA Cup immortals. Thanks for your company, night.

7.23pm GMT

89 min “I’ve been trying to come up with something to say for a while now, and all I can think of is ‘arse’.,” says Phil Sawyer. “At least the FA Cup unexpectedly turned up at work on Thursday, which is the nearest I’ll ever get to it.”

7.21pm GMT

87 min A corner is half cleared to Walcott, who takes it on the chest and volleys a few yards wide. It’s been a battering in the second half, though that shouldn’t obscure how well Lincoln did for the first 45 minutes.

7.19pm GMT

86 min Sanchez cracks a superb free-kick against the bar!

7.18pm GMT

85 min Raggett is booked for a weary hack at Ozil just outside the area.

7.18pm GMT

84 min Ramsey misses a great headed chance from a brilliant driven cross by Ozil. Moments later Perez falls over in the box – “what a joke when you’re 5-0 up,” sniffs Chris Sutton – and then Sanchez’s fierce shot is very well blocked.

7.15pm GMT

81 min “Could anything now happen to allow the TV director to pick out Man With Wenger-Out Placard, who seems to have established Equity appearance rights at all games?” says Charles Antaki. “On Arsenal’s recent form, nothing is completely impossible.”

A sixth Arsenal goal might tip our beloved eejit over the edge. Why couldn’t they score six against Bayern and Liverpool?

7.14pm GMT

80 min Power hits a good curling shot from 25 yards that is well claimed to his left by Cech.

7.13pm GMT

79 min “I love it,” says Andy. “Arsenal have their ‘swagger back’ against a side 1 million leagues below them? It’s an almost embarassing statement.”

This was the definitive can’t-win game for them, wasn’t it.

7.11pm GMT

78 min Lincoln’s last change: Adam Marriott replaces Terry Hawkridge.

7.11pm GMT

77 min “The problem with Xhaka, I would argue, is that he – is – technically good enough to play for a title-winning team,” says Matt Loten. “Energy, vision, range of passing, aggression: he has every attribute you would want from a player in his position. Unfortunately he has no idea how to string them together and apply them properly.”

7.09pm GMT

76 min “What with the habit of footballers and managers covering their mouths when speaking,” says Keith Poliglotus, “I was wondering if anyone had been caught saying something about a fellow professional which they probably shouldn’t have?”

Nothing springs to mind.

7.09pm GMT

It’s getting messy now. Sanchez’s cross deflects to Ramsey, who walks around Farman and literally walks the ball into the net.

7.06pm GMT

A beautiful goal from Alexis Sanchez. He ran at Wood, who missed his tackle completely, and opened his body to place a lovely curling shot into the far corner from 20 yards.

7.04pm GMT

71 min Coquelin is fortunate not to be booked for a studs-up lunge at Hawkridge. Coquelin and Xhaka really aren’t good enough for a team that wants to win the Premier League.

7.02pm GMT

69 min Lincoln are struggling to chase the shadows, never mind the Arsenal players. This is going to be a long 20 minutes for them as Arsenal are in swagger mode now.

7.01pm GMT

68 min Sanchez, on the left wing, picks out a lovely lofted pass to Ozil, who heads over from 12 yards.

7.00pm GMT

67 min “Xhaka off?” says Ian Copestake. “How dare you.”

6.59pm GMT

66 min Lincoln make a change as well: Matt Rhead leaves the scene to be replaced by Joe Ward. Rhead played well in that impressive first-half performance.

6.58pm GMT

65 min An Arsenal change: Lucas Perez replaces Olivier Giroud.

6.56pm GMT

63 min Margetts is booked for an absurd, retro lunge at Gibbs.

6.54pm GMT

61 min An Arsenal change: Xhaka off, Coquelin on.

6.53pm GMT

59 min “Instructions are available for putting the internet back in its box,” high-fives Ian Copestake.

6.52pm GMT

A cruel moment for Luke Waterfall, whose own goal finishes the match. Sanchez played the underlapping Gibbs into the box on the left, and he cut the ball back towards the near post. Waterfall stretched to intercept but in doing so stabbed it past Farman.

6.51pm GMT

57 min All of a sudden the Emirates pitch looks absolutely huge. Lincoln are being pulled all over the place. Ramsey’s flicked shot is deflected out to the edge of the area, where Bellerin nutmegs the sliding Power and then places a shot just wide of the right-hand post.

6.48pm GMT

55 min “Since I’m sure you appreciate the irony of posting “CAN SOMEBODY PLEASE PUT THE EFFING INTERNET BACK IN ITS BOX PLEASE FOR THE LOVE DIGNITY.” on a medium only enable by the internet I’ll content myself with pedantically pointing out the missing OF,” says Julian Borrill. “From a laptop tethered to a phone on the 6:11 from Oban to Glasgow.”

Oh that was the autocorrect and the booze.

6.48pm GMT

54 min A Lincoln substitution: Jonny Margetts replaces Jack Muldoon.

6.47pm GMT

This is a lovely goal. The superb Bellerin plays a one-two in a phonebox with Sanchez to go through on goal. He declines to shoot himself and instead gives the goal to Giroud with a simple cut-back.

6.45pm GMT

51 min Arsenal look much sharper since half-time. If they get a second soon you’d expect this to end maybe 5-0 or 6-0; games of this nature often open up in the second half. For now, Lincoln can still fantasise.

6.43pm GMT

50 min A double chance for Arsenal. Farman makes a terrific save low to his left from Giroud, and then Gibbs heads over from six yards after Walcott lobbed the loose ball back into the box.

6.42pm GMT

49 min Ozil shapes one towards the corner that hits Power and goes behind for a corner. Xhaka drills it flat towards the far post and Rhead heads away.

6.40pm GMT

47 min Arsenal play around Lincoln’s high press until Woodyard ploughs through Gibbs and is booked. “I feel for him,” says the defiantly old-school Chris Sutton of a foul which, alas, was a clear yellow card in the modern game.

6.38pm GMT

46 min Peep peep! Arsenal begin the second half, kicking from right to left.

6.38pm GMT

“I guess thank you for pointing out that Arsenal actually finished second last year, thus qualifying for a Round of 16 exit in the Champions League this year,” says Ted Storer. “I just assumed as an American paying attention to a Guardian MBM I was allowed to use alternative facts in an attempt at humour.”

Alternative bloody facts. Do you ever do that thing where you switch off mentally for a few seconds and then suddenly think WHAT THE EFFING EFFING EFF HAS HAPPENED TO THIS WORLD THERE’S NO WAY BACK IS THERE IT’S BLOODY SOCIAL MEDIA THAT’S THE CAUSE OF ALL THIS IT HAS ALLOWED THE DISCOURSE TO BE SHAPED BY NARCISSISTS AND EEJITS AND PEOPLE WHO FAILED IN LIFE AND ARE NOW MAKING AN EVEN BIGGER HORLICKS OF THEIR SECOND LIFE, THEIR DIGITAL LIFE, BUT THEY ARE BLOODY DRAGGING THE ENTIRE SENTIENT WORLD DOWN TO THEIR LEVEL CAN SOMEBODY PLEASE PUT THE EFFING INTERNET BACK IN ITS BOX PLEASE FOR THE LOVE DIGNITY.

6.32pm GMT

Half-time sing-song

Matt Dony has been busy, for at least eight seconds:

6.27pm GMT

“I love Suarez’s over-the-top theatrics, probably cause it reminds me of his most inspired moment: when he pretended to clutch his tooth in pain after he bit Chiellini,” says Phil Podolsky. “Transposing typical football playacting into the realm of biting shows a talent for invention that’s pretty impressive.”

Yes, the best cheats rely on their instinct.

6.23pm GMT

Half-time reading

Related: Millwall’s Tony Craig: ‘All those scars show the sort of player I am’

6.23pm GMT

Pee peep! Lincoln did a fine defensive job for most of the half, and had a chance to take the lead, but Theo Walcott’s injury-time goal changed the mood of the match and even the scoreline. See you in 10 minutes for the second half.

6.19pm GMT

45+3 min This could get nasty now, and not in a nice way. Walcott plays an excellent pass to pick out Ramsey, who smashes into orbit from 14 yards.

6.18pm GMT

An Arsenal corner wasn’t cleared and eventually came back to Walcott, whose sidefooted shot from 10 yards took a decisive deflection off Habergham and ended up in the corner of the net.

6.17pm GMT

Cometh the hour, cometh the man.

6.17pm GMT

45+1 min There will be six minutes of added time. Six minutes! Arsenal almost score in the first of them. Ozil’s inswinging cross is left at the last minute by Raggett and would have sneaked in the far corner without Farman’s desperate fumble round the post.

6.15pm GMT

45 min Bellerin’s cross is only half cleared to Ramsey, who tries to flick a shot into the far corner with the outside of his right foot, and fails.

6.12pm GMT

43 min See 35 mins.

6.12pm GMT

42 min Giroud is down after a clash of heads with both Raggett and Waterfall. That looked especially painful, though he seems to be okay.

6.11pm GMT

41 min A quick recap in case you’ve been asleep for the last two months: Lincoln City are potentially one goal away from the FA Cup semi-finals at Wembley.

6.10pm GMT

39 min Lincoln have wasted two or three free-kicks by being caught offside, usually Rhead. That’s really wasteful as those set-pieces are their best chance of a goal.

6.09pm GMT

38 min The greatest surprise is not that it’s 0-0, but that 0-0 is a fair score. Farman has only had one significant save to make. The Arsenal crowd, and the Arsenal players, are just starting to go into brat mode. They could use a goal before half-time.

6.08pm GMT

37 min There has been some clumsy defending from Arsenal, and now Koscielny has been booked for a foul on Muldoon. I’m not sure he did much wrong that time, mind.

6.07pm GMT

36 min “I think the last time a hairstyle like Rhead’s was seen on national TV was when Ralph Coates was in his pomp,” says Charles Antaki. “But Coates had a terrible time in London, so, y’know, not the best precedent.”

6.06pm GMT

35 min It’s still 0-0.

6.05pm GMT

34 min Sanchez’s low ball into the box is collected on the run by Walcott, whose left-footed shot is deflected straight through to Farman.

6.04pm GMT

33 min “Arsenal’s second place last year is used as a stick to beat them with, as “if they can’t win when everyone else is crap, then when will they win?” is the established narrative,” says Graeme Thorn. “Firstly, this attitude is extremely patronising to Leicester who genuinely had an excellent season, and secondly, why didn’t Chelsea or Manchester United or Manchester City or Spurs or Liverpool last season win it if the competition was that poor?”

Indeed. This is the problem with turning sport into a soap opera: people then want melodrama rather than stability. It’s a greater achievement to finish 11th and then 2nd than it is to finish 3rd and 2nd.

6.01pm GMT

31 min Rhead is receiving treatment after an accidental elbow from Koscielny. He has been down for a couple of minutes now.

6.00pm GMT

28 min Lincoln almost take the lead! Arnold plays a give-and-go with Woodyard on the right and then makes a beeline for goal. Koscielny comes across but Arnold slips inside him and places a lofted shot across goal that is palmed behind by the diving Cech. That was a lovely piece of play. He was slightly off balance as he hit the shot, though it would still have gone in without Cech’s touch.

5.57pm GMT

27 min An Arsenal substitution: Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, presumably injured, is replaced by Mesut Ozil.

5.57pm GMT

26 min Bellerin has been Arsenal’s best attacker so far. He is such a good player. Lincoln do look pretty comfortable in open play, however. Most of the problems have been from Arsenal corners.

5.56pm GMT

25 min “Good to be seeing a domestic replay of the classic Barcelona-PSG match,” says Charles Antaki. “Lincoln doing a fair impersonation of Barça so far, just minus the goal (leaving aside irrelevancies like skill etc, also diving).”

The omerta over Barcelona’s win-at-all-costs-to-dignity approach was a bit weird. It was an amazing win but should have an asterisk against it because of the extent of their cheating and a refereeing ineptitude that verged on the suspicious.

5.54pm GMT

24 min After another Arsenal attack falls down, Xhaka is booked for an inept lunge at Rhead.

5.53pm GMT

23 min “As much as it goes against all my natural inclinations, I really want Arsenal to win,” says Matt Dony. “Or rather, I need Arsenal to win, for the sake of my job. One of my colleagues is a big Arsenal fan. After the Liverpool game, I obviously gave him the requisite amount of Top Bantz, then there was the Bayern Capitulation (the most entertaining film in the Matt Damon franchise) which left him teetering on the edge. A loss today, and I probably won’t see him again.”

I’d be careful with that banter.

5.52pm GMT

22 min Arsenal have an extended spell of possession. Eventually the ball is fed into Giroud, who is muscled off it.

5.51pm GMT

20 min “Hey Rob,” says JR in Illinois. “I follow football pretty closely so you can imagine my surprise to see that Gareth Southgate is on the touchline and managing for Lincoln City. But seriously, people must have mentioned this before, yes? It somehow had escaped me until now.”

That’s blatant beardism. You people make me sick.

5.51pm GMT

19 min Mustafi is penalised for pushing Rhead, who has started this game excellently. He’s a smart player who knows exactly where, when and how to throw his weight around. Lincoln try the old fake misunderstanding, Aberdeen-Bayern free-kick: it’s headed clear nonetheless.

5.49pm GMT

18 min Though Lincoln are under pressure, they are not camped in their own box by any means. This has been a very good start for them.

5.49pm GMT

5.47pm GMT

15 min “Lincoln has not one but three Wetherspoons within easy walking distance of the high street,” says Phil Sawyer. “Make of that what you will.”

What are the house prices like? Asking for a friend.

5.46pm GMT

13 min Walcott hits the post! A corner was played short to Gibbs and lofted towards the far post. It was headed it clear to Walcott, who hit a rasping volley from 18 yards that the diving Farman just managed to touch onto the post.

5.44pm GMT

12 min Arsenal have started to warm up after a sluggish start, and the game has assumed the expected pattern: attack and defence, invasion and repulsion, just like when Nick Hornby was a teenage boy.

5.43pm GMT

11 min “Your typos at six minutes aren’t because of a sneaky tipple,” says Ted Storer. “It’s autocorrect. Which is what Arsenal fans should be complaining about as the club has been on an autocorrect to third or fourth place for years.

Again, I wish I could blame autocorrect. Also, Arsenal finished second last year. I know that doesn’t change the overall picture but it’s interesting how that has been airbrushed out of history.

5.41pm GMT

10 min Arsenal miss the first good chance of the match. Oxlade-Chamberlain sprays a beautiful crossfield pass to Bellerin, who takes it down and then picks out Ramsey on the edge of the box. He takes the shot first time and places it a few yards wide of the near post.

5.38pm GMT

8 min Lincoln are pressing so high up the field. They surely can’t do this for 90 minutes but at the moment it is working extremely well.

5.38pm GMT

7 min Lincoln have had 62 per cent of the possession so far. I wish we were doing a companion liveblog from Lincoln Wetherspoons, assuming there is a Lincoln Wetherspoons.

5.37pm GMT

6 min “‘They’re team’; ‘every seen’ – you sure you haven’t been at the Cup Fever yourself, Rob?” hics Matt Loten. “Surely it’s a bad sign if the typos are out in force before the match has even kicked off! Not that I could blame you for having a sneaky tipple, what with having to work on a Saturday night, we used to have the odd sly snifter when I worked weekends in the pub trade.”

If only I could blame it on booze.

5.35pm GMT

5 min Arsenal haven’t really got going as yet. It’s not an exaggeration to say Lincoln have been the better side and have won the first of the 18 five-minute segments.

5.34pm GMT

3 min Matt Rhead, the Lincoln centre-forward and Joey Barton’s nemesis, is already putting himself about and has just landed a stiff arm in Mustafi’s face while jumping for a high ball. He is an inspiration.

5.33pm GMT

2 min It’s been a fine start from Lincoln, who are pressing high up the pitch, and Muldoon almost wriggles through Koscielny on the edge of the box.

5.32pm GMT

1 min Lincoln win a free-kick on the right wing after 15 seconds. Habergham lofts it into the box, and the referee Anthony Taylor blows for a free-kick against Lincoln. Why’s he gotta be so cold?

5.31pm GMT

1 min Lincoln kick off from right to left. They are in green; a strong Arsenal XI are wearing red.

5.30pm GMT

The Lincoln manager Danny Cowley smiles as he gives all his players a hug on the pitch. Even if he lives to the age of 172, he’ll experience nothing like this. Hasn’t had a shave though.

5.16pm GMT

An email! “Here in Plucky Little Lincoln, it’s fair to say cup fever has reached, erm, fever pitch,” says Phil Sawyer. “In fact walking down the high street earlier it appeared that quite a few of the locals had had a pint or two of Cup Fever early doors. No matter how the result goes, I fear there are going to be a fair few Lincolnites feeling tired and emotional by the end of the evening.”

Imagine if they win. There will be some of the happiest 2am drunken brawls ever seen.

4.59pm GMT

Some pre-match reading

Related: ‘Nine thousand Lincoln fans at Arsenal is going to be unreal’

Related: Lincoln City line up Arsenal Impvasion for one more shock in golden FA Cup run

Related: Lincoln’s Danny Cowley: ‘We have one-in-1,000 chance at Arsenal but we can do it’

4.42pm GMT

Arsenal (4-2-3-1) Cech; Bellerin, Mustafi, Koscielny, Gibbs; Ramsey, Xhaka; Walcott, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Sanchez; Giroud.
Substitutes: Martinez, Gabriel, Monreal, Coquelin, Iwobi, Ozil, Lucas.

Lincoln (4-4-2) Farman; Wood, Waterfall, Raggett, Habergham; Arnold, Woodyard, Power, Hawkridge; Muldoon, Rhead.
Substitutes: Marriott, Margetts, McMenemy, McCombe, Calder, Ward, Etheridge.

11.31am GMT

Hello. One set of supporters arrive at the Emirates today in a foul mood. They know their team are going to win. The other group of fans are in a grand old mood; they know their team are likely to get stuffed. That’s the slightly odd backdrop to Arsenal’s quarter-final at home to non-league Lincoln City.

Lincoln can’t lose today. This isn’t a contest so much as a reward for their giant-killing, a football spa day at one of the biggest grounds in Britain. But if they do win, and reach the semi-finals, there won’t be enough exclamation marks in the world.

Continue reading…

Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/football/live/2017/mar/11/arsenal-v-lincoln-city-fa-cup-quarter-final-live

Mar 11

Middlesbrough 0-2 Manchester City: FA Cup quarter-final – as it happened

David Silva and Sergio Aguero scored to give a slick City an easy victory over a toothless Middlesbrough

Peep peep! City ease into the semi-finals with a quietly emphatic victory over Middlesbrough. David Silva’s early goal pretty much decided the match; Sergio Aguero’s second-half goal confirmed it was all over. Thanks for your company, bye.

Related: Manchester City and David Silva catch Middlesbrough cold to reach semi

90+2 min “Surely Clayton should get a retrospective for the stamp on Sterling!!” says Bill.

It depends on how much media coverage it gets. These things are rarely decided on merit.

90+1 min City’s final change. Sergio Aguero, who killed this game with that excellent second goal, is replaced by Kelechi Iheanacho.

89 min This will be City’s sixth consecutive clean sheet away from home. They still aren’t exactly watertight, but it is progress.

87 min Another change for City: Fernando replaces Yaya Toure.

87 min “Saying the Ethiad has sold out also has more than one meaning,” says Ian Copestake.

86 min “Before we all pack up and go home, can we stop and appreciate the job that Kevin De Bruyne has done today?” says Matt Loten. “Aguero, Sane, Silva and Sterling have played brilliant Pep-ball up top, but De Bruyne has been sublime in a much deeper role than usual, picking up the ball in front of the back four and initiating play. I think after his whirlwind reintroduction to English football last season, he’s been a little forgotten about this year, but whilst he’s not getting the assists or goals that he was, he’s making this side tick in his own way.”

Yes he’s a glorious and very selfless player. There’s nobody with his range of skills in the league. He’s the closest Guardiola will have to an Iniesta at City.

84 min “How’s Fabio playing?” says Arjun Kallapur. “Is he still the lazy defender from Man United?”

He’s played pretty well I think, but I watch football through DaSilva-tinted spectacles.

83 min De Roon is booked for repeat offending.

82 min City have played some glorious football today. De Bruyne runs down the right and curls a ridiculously good cross around the defence and towards the far post, where the stretching Nolito just can’t reach it.

81 min Earlier on, I missed a shocking tackle from Clayton on Sterling. He wasn’t booked but might have been sent off, looking at the replays.

80 min Sterling hares into the area and hits a low left-footed shot that brings another really smart save from Guzan. He and Gibson have played brilliantly in the face of certain defeat.

78 min “The Etihad is sold out every match,” says J. A. Hopkin. “The Stoke fixture was a re-arranged match at short notice due to cup progression, and also on TV, hence the low turnout.”

‘Lacking’ has more than one meaning in this context.

77 min Stones clears off the line! The chance came from a quite scintillating run down the right by Traore. This time he got the cross right too, standing it up beyond the far post. Negredo stretched to head down towards the penalty spot, where Fabio arrived late to head the bouncing ball towards goal. Bravo got hands to it but it would have gone into the corner but for Stones’ clearance.

76 min Nolito’s fringe bounces down the left wing before his right foot plays a good through pass to Silva. His cross is cleared by the quietly heroic Gibson.

75 min City’s home support is sometimes a bit lacking but their away fans have been great today. The game has been played in a belting atmosphere.

74 min “Hey Rob,” says JR. “Philosophical question here. Can any game truly be declared over with Bravo in goal? He stinks.”

Poor bloke, his confidence is through the floor. He’s better than this, but I’m not sure we’ll see it in a City shirt. It’ll be interesting to see if Guardiola, who is stubborn and proud, cuts his losses in the summer or hopes the Pires Principle will apply to Bravo in his second season.

73 min Mike Dean inexplicably misses the chance to give a penalty when Stones is tripped by the unsighted Gibson. Moments later, Silva’s shot hits Gibson and deflects into the groin of Guzan, who had already dived the other way. City could have scored eight today.

71 min City have a goal disallowed. Guzan fumbles Aguero’s long-range shot to Sterling, who taps in from four yards before realising he has given offside. Replays show it was an extremely tight decision that could have gone either way.

70 min Ramirez slithers through the City defence from nowhere. Bravo comes out, slides in and kicks the ball out for a throw-in. Who needs hands?

70 min City’s SAS front three have just been too good for Boro. Sane is growing into a delightful footballer, and his importance is shown by the fact that he is going off with Monaco in mind. Nolito replaces him.

Guzan couldn’t deny City forever, and now the game is over. It’s a classic striker’s goal. Sane breaks down the left and crosses early towards the near post, where Aguero gets in front of Fabio to guide the ball past Guzan.

66 min A Boro change: Leadbitter is replaced by the talented if not entirely popular forward Gaston Ramirez.

65 min The corner is half cleared to Sane, who receives a return pass from Silva and cracks a dipping 25-yard shot that is palmed behind again by the diving Guzan. It was a good rather than an excellent save, but they all count in the Opta stats.

64 min Guzan is having a fine game and this is another excellent save. Silva’s low angled shot from 18 yards went through the legs of a defender and was arrowing towards the far corner until Guzan got down to his left to fingertip it behind.

61 min A long spell of City possession almost brings a second. Eventually Silva plays a good square pass from the left to Sane, who swerves beautifully away from Barragan and hits a close-range shot from a tight angle that is kicked behind for a corner by Guzan.

59 min De Roon has a go at Otamendi for making the most of a challenge, and both are spoken to by the referee. Boro’s best chance might be to introduce some needle to the game.

56 min The longer it stays 1-0, the more you wonder if something absurd is going to happen.

52 min Zabaleta’s shot from the edge of the wide takes a deflection and spins wide.

51 min Aguero hits the post! City broke smoothly down the right, where Sterling – offside but not given – guided a low cross towards the near post. Aguero’s movement was too much for Fry and he clipped a first-time shot that was magnificently deflected onto the post by the right foot of Guzan.

50 min Bernardo is coming off, to be replaced by the teenager Dael Fry. Godspeed, kid.

49 min Silva almost scores an identical goal to the one at the start of the first half. A clip over the top from Toure, a volleyed cross on the run (this time from De Bruyne rather than Zabaleta), a touch from Sterling and finally a right-footed shot over the bar from Silva. That was so similar to the goal as to be almost weird.

48 min Bernardo is moving very gingerly and doesn’t look like he’ll last long.

46 min Peep peep! City begin the second half, kicking from right to left.

Half-time viewing

Related: FA Cup photo essay – Middlesbrough v Oxford United in the fifth round

Peep peep! City have been in control and deserve to lead, though Boro have had their moments going forward. See you in 10 minutes for the second half.

45+3 min Now Traore is booked for kicking Otamendi.

45+1 min Leadbitter gets a final warning from Sheriff Dean after a foul on Toure.

44 min Sane gives the ball away in a dangerous area to Leadbitter, whose through pass to Negredo is crucially intercepted by the stretching Stones. Seconds later, Leadbitter is finally booked, this time for a foul on De Bruyne.

43 min “Narratives aside, can anyone explain what has happened to Negredo since that phenomenal half-season at City?” asks Matt Loten. “Not so much his lack of goals – Messi would struggle to reach double figures in ‘Boro’s defensive setup – but the fact that he’s there at all. His goal return at Sevilla and City was top-notch, and he’s got a goal every other game for Spain. If you’d told me in January 2014 that he’d end up as backup striker in a relegation-bound team which couldn’t buy a goal, I’d have spat out my tea and eaten my hat, simultaneously. “

42 min Sane has a goal rightly disallowed for offside against Silva in the build-up.

41 min Toure misses a good chance, nutting the ball wide at the near post from De Bruyne’s inswinging free-kick. In fact he mistimed his flicked header and it came off his shoulder, which is why it bulleted past the bear post.

39 min “Bloody virtuous non-drinking sports journos,” sniffs Ian Copestake.

38 min City break and Silva’s deflected shot almost wrongfoots Guzan. In the end he has time to adjust his feet and dive lovingly on the ball.

37 min A good move at the other end from Boro. Traore finds De Roon, who launches an excellent cross towards the penalty spot. Zabaleta slips and that allows Stuani to get in front of him. He connects well with his header but it’s far too close to Bravo, who saves comfortably. That was a decent chance.

34 min Sane almost makes up for his miss with a mesmeric zig-zag through the defence on the left of the box. He gets to the byline and cuts the ball back towards Sterling in the six-yard box; he would have had a tap-in but for some great defending by Gibson.

33 min Sane misses a great chance! City. Sterling plays a good little pass to Silva, who moves into the area from the right and passes the ball across the face of goal. It deflects off somebody at the near post and breaks towards De Bruyne, who is dened by an excellent block from Fabio. Moments later, Sane miskicks from six yards! It was a sitter, with his right foot from a low cross by Sterling, but he scuffed it and Guzan made a comfortable save.

28 min Boro have done pretty well to stay in this game, because the first few minutes were extremely ominous. They still need to score a goal but that doesn’t look quite so high concept as it did 20 minutes ago.

26 min Alvaro Negredo, once of Manchester City, replaces Gestede. This, says Peter Drury on BT, “freshens up the narrative”. I like Peter Drury but bloody effing mothereffing sporting narratives need to go straight into Room 101.

25 min Gestede is injured and needs to come off. I’m not sure what happened but the physio is currently pressing down on his backside. That’s a shame for Gestede as he was looking lively.

24 min Leadbitter makes an excellent sliding tackle in his own area to stop Sterling getting a shot away. It’s the queue for a five-second free-for-all, with seven or eight players trying to get hold of the ball, until Boro manage to clear.

23 min You’ll probably take a drink tonight, won’t you? Well I won’t, because I am virtuous. If you’d like to sponsor my virtue, you can do it here.

22 min Fabio wins a corner for Boro, and they almost equalise! Leadbitter’s inswinger from the left is won by Gestede, who flicks a header towards goal from six yards. Bravo fumbles it and Zabaleta hoofs it off the line. The ball comes back to Leadbitter, who dumps it back into the box, and this time Gestede heads onto the roof of the net.

19 min De Bruyne plays a loose pass in front of the back four to Stuani, who collects the ball and then literally leaves it behind him as he runs determinedly towards goal. I know Boro’s attackers don’t see a lot of the ball but they should at least be able to remember what they are supposed to do with it. You can’t just run yourself into the net and claim a goal.

17 min Barragan is booked for taking a shortcut through Sane.

16 min City almost make it 2-0. De Bruyne plays a lovely angled through pass for Sane, who scorches away from Barragan and into the box. He has Aguero at the far post and gets caught in two minds as a result, hitting a cross-cum-shot that drifts well wide of the far post.

14 min Traore beats Toure with ease down the right, then wafts a cross straight out of play. A microcosm of his career so far.

9 min Aguero is still limping after that kick from Leadbitter. That’s a bit ominous for City, with the trip to Monaco on Wednesday in mind. It was a bad tackle.

8 min Guzan launches a long kick to the hulking Gestede, who wins it easily in the air and flicks it on. Traore scoots beyond the defence but Bravo gets to the ball first. As Steve McManaman says on BT Sport, that’s a tactic Boro should use today – Gestede will win everything in the air and Traore’s pace is like something from a cartoon.

7 min “Rob,” says Alex Chance, “you’re telling me putting one’s pants on before one’s socks is old-fashioned?? I need to get out more…”

There’s all kinds of deviancy these days. Some people don’t put their pants on at all.

6 min Leadbitter takes his frustration out on Aguero’s left leg and is lucky not to be booked.

That was an almost offensively easy goal. Toure lofted a golf shot over the defence for the overlapping Zabaleta, who cushioned a first-time volley across the line of the six-yard box. Sterling mishit it but Silva was waiting behind him to rattle the ball through Guzan from six yards. Boro normally defend a lot better than that. I normally defend a lot better than that.

Well that’s this game done. Thanks for your emails, bye!

1 min Peep peep! Boro, in red, kick off from right to left. City are in sky blue.

“Ha!” says Ian Copestake. “Relevant emoji of some sort indicating profound appreciation.”

Bloody profound appreciators.

“Morning Rob,” says Matt Loten. “What does Aitor Karanka have over Steve Gibson to ensure that he remains the most bafflingly unsacked manager in the country? Now, in normal circumstances, I’d say he was doing a half-decent job: he’s kept ‘Boro out of the relegation zone for much of the season, and an FA Cup quarter-final shouldn’t be sniffed at (though it is). However, he seems an incredibly divisive and high-maintenance figure to have at the helm when trying to rally the troops for one final push, the style of football he insists upon is soporific at best, and his transfers are questionable. £12m on Bamford and Gestede; £12m on De Roon? Valdes on a free transfer was a decent coup, and £7m could be a bargain for Traore if he one day completes a successful cross, but by and large it’s not been a great return on nearly £50m since the summer. Perhaps I’m being very harsh and my judgement is clouded because I don’t think he seems a particularly likeable guy, but then neither’s Mourinho and I don’t begrudge him a single trophy, because he’s actually quite good at his job.”

Unless the circumstances are exceptional, I’d always give a promoted manager at least one full season. I bloody hate when managers overachieve by getting an average team promoted to the Premier League and are then get sacked by Christmas because of unrealistic expectations. You make a good case for getting rid of Karanka, and I don’t know the club as well as you, but as a general principle I’d be against sacking him. I think I’m quite old-fashioned though: I like to listen to albums in running order, and I still put my pants on before my socks.

An email! “Gadzooks!” says Ian Copestake. “You should utter a cry of “gardyloo” before unloading such invective on the shiny pate of Dean, he of the puissant peninsula of Wirral. How dare you be so swoopstake!”

Bloody Guardian readers.

Middlesbrough (4-3-3) Guzan; Barragan, Bernardo, Gibson, Fabio; De Roon, Clayton, Leadbitter; Traore, Gestede, Stuani.
Substitutes: Valdes, Husband, Fry, Forshaw, Fischer, Ramirez, Negredo.

Manchester City (4-2-3-1) Bravo; Zabaleta, Stones, Otamendi, Clichy; Toure; Sterling, De Bruyne, Silva, Sane; Aguero.
Substitutes: Caballero, Fernando, Nolito, Kolarov, Delph, Fernandinho, Iheanacho.

Two Premier League sides meet in the first FA Cup quarter-final, yet there is still scope for a giant-killing. The difference between Middlesbrough and Manchester City, in everything from resources to current form, is so pronounced that it would be a big shock if Boro went through today.

Not least because they would have to score a goal to do so.

The good news is that they don’t necessarily have to score a goal to get through: the new regulations mean that the match will be decided today, on penalties if necessary, and Middlesbrough’s outstanding defence – arguably the best in the division – are at least capable of keeping their sheet clean for 120 minutes. If the game does go to extra-time, both teams will also have the option of using a fourth substitute. Mind you, with Mike Dean as referee this could to go a penalty shoot-out without recourse to extra-time.

Related: Middlesbrough tensions on back burner after Aitor Karanka clears the air

Continue reading…

Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/football/live/2017/mar/11/middlesbrough-v-manchester-city-fa-cup-quarter-final-live

Mar 04

Liverpool 3-1 Arsenal: Premier League – as it happened

Liverpool moved up to third after an exhilarating attacking performance gave them a deserved win in a fine match at Anfield

7.47pm GMT

Related: Liverpool bounce back into form with spirited victory over listless Arsenal

7.23pm GMT

Liverpool are deserved winners of an extremely good game of football. The front three of Mane, Coutinho and Firmino were just brilliant, as was Adam Lallana, and Liverpool continue their outstanding big-game record this season. There will be lots of talk about Arsenal omitting Alexis Sanchez. It was a debatable decision, but it wasn’t why they lost this game. They lost it because Xhaka and Coquelin are a papier mache midfield, and because Liverpool were sensational in attack. Thanks for your company, night.

7.21pm GMT

90+2 min Origi was actually offside when he ran onto Lallana’s pass, but it was still a brilliant goal.

7.20pm GMT

Sanchez’s shot was blocked by Matip and deflected to Lallana, who held the ball and then flicked an outside-of-the foot pass out to Origi on the right wing. He played a fast low ball into Wijnaldum, who galloped into the area and crashed an emphatic first-time shot to the left of Cech. That was the most exhilarating goal.

7.18pm GMT

This is a classic counter-attacking goal.

7.18pm GMT

90+1 min A great move from Arsenal, started by Sanchez, ends with the same player having a shot blocked in the area – and Liverpool break to score a third!

7.17pm GMT

90+1 min There will be three minutes of added time. “It’s tempting to rail at Walcott for being disappointing,” says Charles Antaki. “Very tempting. But we’re in Lent.”

7.17pm GMT

90 min Arsenal have fought really hard in the second half but they look beaten now.

7.14pm GMT

87 min Klavan makes a fine sliding block from Perez’s first-time shot, which came after a nice through ball by Oxlade-Chamberlain.

7.13pm GMT

85 min Arsenal are struggling to get any attacking momentum. There have been a few poor crosses and passes in the final third in the last 10 minutes, and there’s another from Theo Walcott.

7.12pm GMT

84 min You can see why the referee didn’t send Can off. Walcott was fouled almost simultaneously by Can and Matip, and it only became clear with the benefit of replays that Can got him first.

7.11pm GMT

83 min: Origi hits the post! It was an excellent flicked header from Milner’s inswinging free-kick. Cech was beaten and it bounced off the face of the post.

7.07pm GMT

80 min Liverpool make a change: Divock Origi replaces the wonderful Coutinho.

7.06pm GMT

78 min Can is leaving the field, but not in the manner he should be. He fouled Walcott, for which he probably deserved a second yellow card, and then spent ages rolling round. In fairness I think it was an injury, and eventually he limped to the sideline before returning to the field. Granit Xhaka was booked for questioning why Can wasn’t booked a second time.

7.03pm GMT

76 min Xhaka, who has had a poor game, concedes a needless free-kick on the right wing. Coutinho curls a gorgeous ball towards Matip, who should score but mistimes his close-range header into the ground and that gives Cech the opportunity to save to his right.

7.01pm GMT

74 min The wonderful Coutinho abracadabras some space on the edge of the box before driving over the bar. Arsenal then make their last substitutions: Lucas Perez and Theo Walcott replace Danny Welbeck and Olivier Giroud.

6.59pm GMT

72 min The indefatigable Milner wins a corner down the left. It’s played short and eventually cleared by Giroud.

6.56pm GMT

69 min Here’s Matt Dony. “Taking Millings’ lead, #… In the Mings-night hour, I can Ibra power, I’m down Surman my knees, I wanna take you there#.

6.55pm GMT

68 min Can is booked for a foul on Sanchez. This is a cracking match now: 60 per cent football, 40 per cent basketball.

6.54pm GMT

66 min Firmino’s surprise through ball to Coutinho is just cut out by the stretching Mustafi. Great defending. Mustafi has been excellent in the second half.

6.52pm GMT

65 min Mane escapes Monreal with some CGI footwork and finds Clyne, who splatters an optimistic shot high and wide at the near post. Mane has had a fantastic game, again.

6.50pm GMT

63 min Bellerin’s low cross almost reaches Sanchez, with Clyne doing well to get in front of him and clear.

6.48pm GMT

62 min This match is lurching back and forth, with Arsenal an attacking threat for the first time in the game. It’s richly entertaining if you’re into the whole neutral thing.

6.47pm GMT

60 min A rapid break from Liverpool almost brings a third goal. Coutinho slides a dangerous ball across the six-yard box, and Mustafi does extremely well to boot it over his own bar rather than into the net.

6.46pm GMT

59 min “Why bother watching this game?” says Benjamin Park. “This is Chelsea all over again. Lose, but possibly get a last minute goal as consolation. I’m heading to the cinema.”

Insert your own Groundhog Day joke here.

6.46pm GMT

58 min “In the old days, all this footballers’-names-and-music stuff would have inspired me to come with a related All-time XI,” says Mac Millings. “In my dosage, all you’re getting is: Kasper When You Call My Name, It’s Schmeichel little prayer.”

‘Dosage’, indeed.

6.45pm GMT

Sanchez made it in the inside-left position with a deflected through pass to Welbeck, who saw Mignolet coming and dinked it classily over him. That’s a lovely finish.

6.43pm GMT

Arsenal are back in it!

6.42pm GMT

55 min Liverpool get another corner after some beautiful one-touch passing from the front three. It’s headed away but, bloody hell, Liverpool have played some football today.

6.41pm GMT

54 min … and it’s straight into the wall.

6.41pm GMT

53 min Coutinho is fouled just outside the area by Mustafi. He has been marvellous today; so have Firmino, Mane and Lallana. Coutinho will take the free-kick…

6.38pm GMT

50 min Firmino makes some room in the box with a delightful turn, lobbing the ball over Koscielny in the process, but then his shot hits Monreal and loses its sting as a result.

6.36pm GMT

48 min Fine save from Mignolet! Monreal, in a deep position on the left, curled a cross towards the leaping Giroud, who strained every neck muscle to force a header towards goal. Mignolet dived high to his right to palm it up and onto the top of the bar.

6.34pm GMT

47 min Mignolet does well to palm Sanchez’s left-wing cross away from Welbeck at the far post.

6.34pm GMT

47 min “Hi Rob,” says Brendan O’Sullivan. “Our problems certainly aren’t helped by a major hole in front of the defence where Santi Cazorla should be. However, every season there’s always one long-term injury without which we would have won the league, so the story goes. A masterplan for a team that’s negated by a single injury isn’t a masterplan.”

6.32pm GMT

46 min Peep peep! Arsenal begin the second half. Alexis Sanchez has come on for Francis Coquelin.

6.22pm GMT

“Is the problem in front for the back four?” says Bill Hargreaves. “I have a feeling that if Arsenal had bought Kante they’d be first, too.”

Yes. Mind you, if Rushden & Diamonds bought Kante they’d probably be top of the Premier League.

6.20pm GMT

Post-triumphalism “It says so much about Liverpool’s season (and my own sad, fragile state of mind) that I’m struggling to enjoy this,” says Matt Dony. “I’m already worried about Burnley at home next week.”

6.18pm GMT

Half-time entertainment (with thanks to Wilson Beuys)

“The Xhaka Can reference made me want to draw your attention to her possibly lesser-known sister, (Tiki) Taka Boom. If possible, she has an even more magnificent voice, as evinced on The Undisputed Truth album, Method to the Madness.
“Composed by funk genius Norman Whitfield, the whole album is a treat, from the giant white afros on the cover and the opening spoken track where the band gets zapped up into space by aliens, to the title track and, above all, this magnificent tour de force, You + Me = Love.
“Masterful arrangement, non-stop funk and an astonishing singer—and just when you think it’s slowing down, it all kicks in again and keeps on going… for 11 minutes. Perfect half-time entertainment.”

6.17pm GMT

The big-game specialists deservedly lead the big-game strugglers 2-0. See you in 10 minutes for the second half.

6.15pm GMT

44 min Coutinho misses a great chance to make it 3-0. The exceptional Lallana’s shot hit a defender before looping wickedly over the defence. Coutinho’s first touch to kill the spinning ball was glorious; his second was too close to Cech.

6.13pm GMT

43 min Arsenal are suffering death by deja vu. It’s not nice to watch.

6.11pm GMT

Liverpool built the attack patiently down the left through Milner and Wijnaldum, who then found Firmino on the left of the box. He held off a defender, kept his head up while doing so and played a lovely square pass across the box to find Mane in all kinds of space. He took a touch and smashed the ball hard and low past Cech. That was high-class football by any measure.

6.09pm GMT

This is a great goal.

6.05pm GMT

36 min Mane turns smartly on the edge of the area before trying to chip Cech. It drifts a few yards wide. Liverpool have been sensational in the last 15 minutes.

6.04pm GMT

34 min Coutinho nutmegs Mustafi and goes down in the D. The referee says play on. Arsenal are being run ragged at the moment and now Coquelin has booked for pulling back Lallana.

6.03pm GMT

32 min Liverpool are starting to look really menacing on the counter attack. First Coutinho has a shot from 15 yards that is blocked and then Mane, after a masterful first touch, overhits a through pass to Clyne.

6.02pm GMT

31 min “It’s the box-of-chocolates team again,” writes an unnamed reader. “You never know what you are going to get. Hammered by bottom of the division teams, masterful against the Premiership’s best. Mostly. Another ‘what could have been’ season. Maddening.”

I know, right. Same old Arsenal.

5.59pm GMT

30 min A long punt forward from Cech comes back to Xhaka, who clatters the bouncing ball miles wide from 25 yards.

5.59pm GMT

29 min Mane is butchered on the edge of the box by Mustafi. The referee plays a fine advantage, allowing Coutinho to lash a rising drive that is excellently tipped over by the diving Cech.

5.58pm GMT

28 min Arsenal have lost some of their effervescence since conceding the goal, like a solemn dog that can’t understand why it keeps soiling the expensive rug.

5.56pm GMT

27 min Sanchez is warming up now. What could it all mean?

5.55pm GMT

24 min Giroud is moving gingerly and seems to have a problem with his right leg. Either that or he just wants to tease us, the big hunk. Arsenal have three men warming up, but Sanchez is not among their number.

5.53pm GMT

23 min Arsenal enjoy a long spell of possession. The last time they did that they went behind from the resulting goal-kick. This time they get a throw-in.

5.52pm GMT

22 min “I feel for you, Matt Dony,” says Simon Frank. “I couldn’t effing resist.”

Funk This.

5.51pm GMT

21 min Oxlade-Chamberlain dinks a left-footed cross towards the far post. Mignolet, under pressure from Giroud, misses his punch completely and the ball goes behind for an erroneously awarded corner. No matter: the corner is cleared.

5.49pm GMT

20 min Liverpool have been much the better team since the goal. Arsenal are in danger of being blown away before Alexis Sanchez has gone for his first token warm-up.

5.48pm GMT

18 min “I’m looking forward to the commentary if the midfield gets really scrappy,” says Matt Dony. “‘Xhaka, Can, Xhaka, Can…’.”

5.47pm GMT

17 min When the corner is only half cleared, Coutinho hammers a cross all the way across the area. Matip tried the old Nigel Clough finish behind his standing leg but the ball flashed past him.

5.45pm GMT

16 min Can drills a great crossfield pass to Clyne, who wins a corner off Monreal.

5.44pm GMT

12 min That will annoy Arsene Wenger so much. Arsenal started the game really well and then jiggered it all by conceding a needless goal. The moment the ball skimmed off the head of Koscielny and went through to Coutinho, they were in trouble.

5.41pm GMT

This is a soft goal to concede, coming straight from a goalkick. It was allowed to travel all the way through to Coutinho, who headed it back to Lallana. He fed it wide to Mane, who drove a low cross-shot from just outside the area. It was missed by Coutinho in the middle of the goal but came to Firmino, who had danced into space at the far post and had time to control the ball before ramming a shot over Cech from six yards.

5.39pm GMT

Erm, about Arsenal starting the game well…

5.39pm GMT

9 min Arsenal keep the ball for ages until Xhaka slightly overhits his lofted through pass to Monreal. They’ve started this game really well.

5.35pm GMT

6 min Arsenal are sitting deeper than usual when Liverpool have possession, with nine behind the ball a lot of the time.

5.34pm GMT

5 min The corner is half-cleared to Coquelin, who shoots straight at Mignolet from 22 yards.

5.34pm GMT

4 min A good break from Arsenal. Bellerin scoots down the right and stands up a cross that is headed behind by Matip.

5.33pm GMT

3 min “Rob, I know you’re doing a football blog,” says James Lane. “But did you happen to catch any of the cricket today? Phoar.”

Don’t.

5.32pm GMT

2 min Milner’s cross pings behind off Oxlade-Chamberlain for an early Liverpool corner. Arsenal clear it at about the eighth attempt.

5.30pm GMT

1 min Peep peep! After a lively rendition of You’ll Never Walk Alone, Arsenal kick off from left to right. They are in yellow; Liverpool are in red.

5.25pm GMT

“No Sánchez?” sniffs Charles Antaki. “Let the post-mortems start here then, before the body is on the slab or even lying down. He’s downed tools, is in a huff, has let down his teammates, has had his head turned, has betrayed Wenger, and so on. Or maybe he’s like, y’know, unfit. And Arsenal are as perfectly capable of losing a game with him in as out.”

I’m surprised more managers don’t use specialist subs. Maybe using your best player from the bench is a bit extreme but there’s something in it. In a parallel universe, Theo Walcott is a world-famous specialist substitute.

5.22pm GMT

“Rob,” says Hubert O’Hearn. “As part of the pre-game festivities are Jurgen Klopp and Arsene Wenger doing an interpretive dance involving passing the Crisis Baton back and forth, said cursed object being laid in the centre of the pitch by murdered saint Claudio Ranieri?”

I thought Aitor Karanka had just charged off with Crisis Baton? I just can’t keep up with all these bloody crises.

4.47pm GMT

Pre-match reading

Related: Arsène Wenger needs Arsenal to bolster Big Six record at Liverpool | David Hytner

Related: Jürgen Klopp ready to splash out to strengthen thin Liverpool squad

4.42pm GMT

Alexis Sanchez has been left out, with Danny Welbeck and Olivier Giroud starting. Jake Humphrey isn’t impressed.

Liverpool (4-3-3) Mignolet; Clyne, Matip, Klavan, Milner; Can, Wijnaldum, Lallana; Mane, Firmino, Coutinho.
Substitutes: Karius, Moreno, Lucas, Alexander, Lovren, Origi, Woodburn.

12.09pm GMT

Hello. Liverpool and Arsenal are two of the eternal greats of English football, with 31 league titles between them, but the wait for No32 hangs over this game. In the first half of the season both teams committed the cardinal sin: they gave their fans hope. That has made the reality of the 2016-17 season – that they have a job on to finish fourth, never mind first – so much more dispiriting.

Forget all that. Let’s accentuate the positive instead: neither of these teams can defend, so we’re bound t-

Continue reading…

Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/football/live/2017/mar/04/liverpool-v-arsenal-premier-league-live

Mar 04

Manchester United 1-1 Bournemouth: Premier League – as it happened

Ten-man Bournemouth took a valuable point from a bizarre game that included unpunished GBH, a missed penalty from Zlatan Ibrahimovic and all kinds of controversy

2.40pm GMT

Read Richard Jolly’s match report from Old Trafford:

Related: Manchester United’s top-four push stalls in chaotic draw with Bournemouth

2.34pm GMT

Related: Leicester City v Hull City, Eibar v Real Madrid and more – live!

2.27pm GMT

Where do you start with that? United could have been 7-2 up after 20 minutes, yet created very little against 10 men in the second half. Surman was wrongly sent off. Arter was wrongly not sent off. Mings and Ibrahimovic got away with GBH. Ibrahimovic had a penalty saved by Boruc.

The upshot is that United are still sixth, and Bournemouth have renewed hope for their relegation battle after a second-half performance of enormous character. Thanks for your company, bye.

2.25pm GMT

That is one of the oddest games of football you will ever see.

2.25pm GMT

90+5 min Pogba misses another chance from Ibrahimovic’s knockdown! He couldn’t get his shot away and appealed for a penalty, but I don’t think it was one.

2.24pm GMT

90+4 min Arter nicks the ball from the last defender Martial (!), whose pace just gets him out of trouble.

2.23pm GMT

90+3 min Pogba misses a great chance! Ibrahimovic’s header came to him eight yards out but he completely mishit a volley that bobbled miserably wide. He should have scored.

2.22pm GMT

90+2 min There has been so much incident that the result almost feels secondary. But this would be a huge point for Bournemouth and two costly dropped points for United.

2.20pm GMT

90+1 min There will be five minutes of added time.

2.20pm GMT

90 min Rojo’s cross is comfortably claimed by Boruc, who takes the opportunity to waste 10 seconds. You can’t blame him for that.

2.17pm GMT

88 min Bournemouth make their final change: Max Gradel replaces Josh King.

2.17pm GMT

87 min A point here could change Bournemouth’s season, especially the manner in which it will have been achieved. They have been tremendous after a diabolical start to the game.

2.15pm GMT

85 min Martial’s cross seems to hit the arm of Smith just inside the area; this time there’s no penalty.

2.14pm GMT

84 min Juan Mata is imploring his team-mates to calm down and play the ball around. They have been hitting too many long balls. This is where Sir Alex Ferguson’s sides was so good: they generally kept their nerve and kept passing the ball, even in injury time.

2.12pm GMT

82 min United have been dreadful in this second half, desperate and unfocussed. That said, Bournemouth’s defending has been almost unrecognisable from the first half.

2.11pm GMT

80 min Rashford is booked for shoving Smith over. That was the wrong decision as well. The referee has had a shocker. You have to feel for him; it must be horrible to be in this position. It’s not often that the referee is desperate to hear his own final whistle.

2.08pm GMT

78 min Pogba is fouled 25 yards from goal by Arter, who has already been booked. The referee gives him a last warning. Arter should have been sent off but he’s hardly alone in that today. Meanwhile, the injured Mings is replaced by the debutant Baily Cargill.

2.06pm GMT

76 min “Contrary opinions are surely welcome,” says Ian Copestake. “I certainly don’t take anything I say seriously.”

But why don’t you? Don’t you think you deserve more respect? Eh? Do you want some?

2.06pm GMT

75 min Arter seems fine now. Ibrahomivic has a snapshot blocked and now Tyrone Mings is down in pain, holding his thigh. This game has been just weird.

2.04pm GMT

74 min Rashford’s 20-yard shot deflects just wide. Bournemouth have a player flat out on his back, Harry Arter. Pogba ran into him off the ball and I think he might be concussed.

2.02pm GMT

Boruc gets down superbly to his right to save from Ibrahimovic. That’s a brilliant save because it wasn’t a bad penalty at all. This bizarre game continues to confound everyone except Quasimodo.

2.01pm GMT

Smith was so close to Pogba that, although his arm was outstretched, there wasn’t much he could do to get out of the way.

2.01pm GMT

Pogba’s acrobatic volleyed cross hits the outstretched hand of Smith. I think that’s harsh.

2.00pm GMT

70 min A triple United change: Fellaini, Lingard and Rashford for Shaw, Carrick and Rooney. Lingard is now playing at left-back.

1.59pm GMT

69 min In a strange way that red card has helped Bournemouth. It’s made everything so much simpler, and perhaps distracted United.

1.57pm GMT

68 min “Good point,” says Roy Allen. “Never liked Paulie though.”

Sil? Chrissy?

1.57pm GMT

68 min This is an excellent spell for Bournemouth, who look more comfortable than at any stage in the match. As a result, Jose Mourinho is about to make a triple substitution.

1.55pm GMT

66 min “I realize that Ian Copestake is an institution on these MBMs, and I’m also entertained by Ibrahimovic, but I’m of the contrary opinion that Ibrahimovic should start every game automatically on a yellow card,” says Glenn Hoddle. “This would stop him from thinking he can get away with a whole load of crap just on account of being a Lion, or a hamster or a sea-slug or whatever he is that week.”

1.54pm GMT

64 min Ibrahimovic hits a poor free-kick into the wall, from where it spins behind for United’s 48th corner. Bournemouth’s defending at the start of the game was hopeless but they have been very good in this half.

1.53pm GMT

63 min Pogba beats two players 25 yards from goal and is brought down by Gosling. The free-kick is to slightly to the right of centre, perfectly for a left-footer. It’ll be Zlatan to take it.

1.52pm GMT

62 min The most absurd thing about Ibrahimovic is that, despite throwing Mings to the canvas then crunching an elbow into the coupon, the only thing he was actually booked for was dissent.

1.49pm GMT

60 min Bournemouth have calmed things down a little after a torrid start to the half. It’s also disappointing to note a complete lack of cartoon violence since half-time.

1.49pm GMT

58 min Carrick is booked for pulling back King. “No one seems to have mentioned Ibra’s attempted stamp on Mings’ thigh just before the Mings stamp on his head,” says Simon Ward.

I genuinely missed that. The view from up Zlatan’s derriere isn’t the best. It’s a restricted-view ticket.

1.47pm GMT

57 min “Is the press now so far up Ibrahimovic’s arse that even an elbow to the head is considered heroic?” says Roy Allen. “You’re normally very good but your home team bias shows here.”

If you can’t see the comic heroism in Ibrahimovic’s elbow, you haven’t spent enough of your life watching the Sopranos on loop. Paulie Walnuts couldn’t have done it better.

1.46pm GMT

56 min Pogba’s booming curler from 25 yards is beautifully saved by Boruc, leaping to his left.

1.44pm GMT

54 min United win three corners in quick succession. Bournemouth are under constant pressure at the moment.

1.43pm GMT

53 min A very smart turn from Rooney on the edge of the box brings a shooting opportunity, with the ball nicking off a defender and looping over the bar.

1.42pm GMT

52 min “Just as offsides should not be given against beautiful goals,” says Ian Copestake, “so Ibrahimovic should be pardoned if his violence entertained us.”

That’s a great rule, and this should be exhibit A.

1.41pm GMT

51 min That red card is a shame for the game, because when it was 11 v 11 Bournemouth fancied their chances. Now even they will have to embrace pragmatism.

1.40pm GMT

50 min The game is now taking place almost exclusively in the Bournemouth half. Ibrahimovic’s fierce long-range shot deflects to safety off Mings.

1.39pm GMT

49 min Martial’s superb cross is headed over his own bar by the stretching Cook, denying Rooney a simple chance in the process.

1.38pm GMT

47 min “Hi Rob,” says Waqas Mir. “Since they’re both getting bans after the game anyway, they should consider the second half a free hit and come out of the tunnel windmilling.”

1.37pm GMT

46 min Mings crunches Ibrahimovic, aggressively but fairly, 30 seconds into the second half. There’s no way those two will be on the pitch at the final whistle.

1.35pm GMT

46 min Bournemouth make a half-time change, bringing on Dan Gosling for Pugh. Their assistant manager has been sent off as well. I can’t keep up with this.

1.35pm GMT

Jose Mourinho had a one-way exchange of views with Tyrone Mings in the tunnel as the players came out for the second half. It wouldn’t be remotely surprising if there’s more to come.

1.34pm GMT

Mings will get a three-match ban at least. Not sure what happens with Ibrahimovic: Kevin Friend spent an age talking to him, which implies he saw the incident. I suspect the FA will do the necessary to ensure Ibrahimovic gets his three-match ban. He deserves a ban, however heroic and hilarious an argument-settler that was.

1.32pm GMT

I suppose players like Mings and Ibrahimovic might as well try to get away with sly naughtiness while they still can.

Related: Video technology for game-changing incidents to be trialled in England

1.28pm GMT

That Surman red card is a joke. The first yellow was for a very strong but fair challenge on Shaw; the second a push on Ibrahimovic in response to the elbow on Mings. In addition to that, the referee originally forgot that he showed Surman a first yellow card. It’s a Premier League farce!

1.27pm GMT

“Oh, and by the way, it wasn’t a penalty but a dive,” says Adam Primus. “Stonewall dive. Go look.”

1.25pm GMT

Reasons to love Jamie Carragher

“That is horrific from Mings, and he probably deserves a smack for that.”

1.25pm GMT

Half time chit-chat

“Mings isn’t gonna try it again,” says Alex Netherton. “That was magnificent.”

1.22pm GMT

If you live to 247, you will not see another half of football like that. It could be 9-3 to United. Mings (revenge stamp on head) and Ibrahimovic (thunderous revenge elbow) should have been sent off; instead Surman was sent off for reasons that aren’t remotely clear. See you in 10 minutes for the second half.

1.20pm GMT

45+4 min Ibrahimovic goes through one on one and is denied by Boruc.

1.18pm GMT

Mings and Ibrahimovic should be off. They aren’t, but Surman is! We’ve seen the replays now. Mings stamped on Ibrahimovic’s head after that tackle on the edge of the area, and then Ibrahimovic gave Mings a cracking elbow in the face. Meanwhile, Surman has been sent off for a second yellow card! I have no idea why. A very strange end to a thoroughly weird half. How did Quasimodo predict all this?

1.16pm GMT

45+2 min Yes, he’s got away with it. We still haven’t seen a replay so it’s hard to know what happened, but Bournemouth have the collective face on.

1.15pm GMT

45+1 min Now Kevin Friend is talking to Ibrahimovic, which suggests it might be a last warning rather than a second yellow card.

1.15pm GMT

45 min From the resulting corner, a deep cross towards Ibrahimovic and Mings ended with Mings on the floor holding his face. The Bournemouth were straight around the referee, who is taking his time over the whole thing.

1.14pm GMT

44 min Moments after Mings takes out Rooney and Ibrahimovic with one sliding tackle, Pogba’s chip over the top is half-volleyed towards goal by Rooney and well saved by Boruc. It was an excellent save. Ibrahimovic is going off here I think…

1.12pm GMT

43 min Actually that Zlatan cross/shot was going well wide. In other news, he was booked for complaining about the penalty.

1.12pm GMT

42 min Ibrahimovic, by the left corner of the box, coaxes a curler towards the far post that is flapped away by the flying Boruc. I’m not sure whether that was a cross or shot from Zlatan but it might have sneaked in the far corner without Boruc’s intervention.

1.11pm GMT

41 min Jones dithers and is robbed by King, who charges towards the area and hits a shot that is blocked by Rojo.

1.10pm GMT

41 min What a weird half of football this has been. And yet Quasimodo predicted the whole thing.

1.09pm GMT

Josh King takes a short run-up – and then smashes an unsaveable penalty into the top-left corner. Majestic.

1.08pm GMT

A clear penalty. Pugh turned smartly in the box, and Jones ran him over. A no-brainer in every sense.

1.08pm GMT

37 min There’s an off-the-ball incident between Ibrahimovic and Mings. Replays show Ibrahimovic threw Mings to the canvas, so he’s lucky not to be booked.

1.03pm GMT

33 min The game has calmed down since the goal. Surman has just been booked for clattering Shaw, though. It looked a strong, fair challenge but Kevin Friend did not concur.

12.57pm GMT

27 min “Just as ‘Yes’ transcended Britpop,” begins Neill Brown, “Zlatan’s showing us all that the Premier League is capable of so much more than the occasional decent first-touch by Dele Alli. He’s the McAlmont & Butler of the Premier League!”

12.56pm GMT

26 min Now another Bournemouth defender, Cook, is receiving treatment. Bournemouth are an absolute mess. It’s 22 years to the day since United beat Ipswich 9-0. They could have scored seven already in this game.

12.54pm GMT

A corner was half-cleared to Valencia 25 yards from goal. He dragged his shot well off target but Rojo – played onside by Cook – steered it past Boruc.

12.53pm GMT

This was overdue.

12.52pm GMT

23 min Adam Smith is down after a fierce 50/50 with Luke Shaw. It’ll give the Bournemouth defence a chance to take some oxygen as well.

12.50pm GMT

20 min I can’t remember seeing a start to a game like this in years. It is comically open, and Martial has again been denied by Boruc after a fine through pass from Carrick. This could seriously be 6-2 to United.

12.48pm GMT

19 min “The entire Bournemouth team looks like they have gastroenteritis,” says JR in Illinois. “As does Rojo. And Ibrahimovic. And Kevin Friend. This game is wack.”

You say it’s wack, but Quasimodo predicted all this.

12.47pm GMT

18 min We’ve just seen a replay of that Ibrahimovic chance. It hit the side of his knee three yards from goal and deflected behind him.

12.47pm GMT

17 min The rampant Valencia finds Mata in a scandalous amount of space on the right-hand side of the box. He takes his time and eventually his cross deflects behind for a corner.

12.46pm GMT

15 min “Am I the only one who finds the comparison between Cantona and any striker who joins United and is deemed a bit different/exotic lazy?” asks Nick Parmenter. “Cantona lifted a whole club to a level it hadn’t been at in a generation!”

Yes it’s ridiculous, though Zlatan is worthier of the comparison than most. The strangest one was Larsson, who was more Sheringham than Cantona.

12.44pm GMT

14 min How did that stay out? Martial slithers through defenders on the left of the box and whacks a short-range cross into the six-yard box. It looks like a straightforward finish for Ibrahimovic but somehow – and I’ve no idea how as we haven’t seen a replay – the ball ends up behind him.

12.43pm GMT

14 min Arter is booked for a late tackle on Carrick.

12.42pm GMT

13 min Martial moves elegantly infield on the edge of the area and hits a low shot that is beaten away by Boruc. This is like a 1950s game. It could already be 4-2 to United.

12.41pm GMT

11 min Rooney and Ibrahimovic combine to make a mess of a great chance, and then Afobe slips when through on goal at the other end! First the United chance: they were two v one but Rooney overhit the pass to Ibrahimovic, who then miscontrolled it on the stretch. Bournemouth broke straight away and Afobe charged through on goal. He tried to go round De Gea but slipped as he did so and lost the chance.

12.37pm GMT

8 min Mata, given offside, has a close-range shot well saved by Boruc. Bournemouth are so open.

12.36pm GMT

5 min Pogba almost scores the opening goal after a 60-yard off-the-ball run. When that Bournemouth corner was cleared, Shaw lumped a ball over the halfway line. It seemed to be covered but then Pogba appeared from nowhere with a majestic gallop from deep inside his own half. He got to the ball first, moved into the area and hit a low left-footed shot that was excellently turned round by Boruc. This has been a thrilling start to the game.

12.34pm GMT

4 min Bournemouth have come to play. They always do. It’s their best quality and possibly their worst. King shoves Jones over down the left and moves into the area before winning a corner off Rojo.

12.32pm GMT

2 min Almost a goal at the other end. A long ball forward towards Afobe hit the covering Jones and nearly deflected past the outrushing De Gea.

12.32pm GMT

2 min Rooney misses an early chance, lobbing a header onto the roof of the net. Valencia won the ball high up the field and played it to Ibrahimovic. His attempted pass to Rooney was cut out but came back to Valencia, who dinked it over the defence to find Rooney in space 10 yards from goal. He probably had time to take it down but went for the first-time header and looped it over the bar.

12.31pm GMT

2 min Eddie Howe is on the Bournemouth bench despite being ill last night. He has what the Sky commentator Martin Tyler describes as “gastric problems”.

12.30pm GMT

1 min Peep peep! Bournemouth kick off from right to left. They are wearing blue; United are in red.

12.09pm GMT

Ten years ago this weekend

11.41am GMT

Pre-match reading

Related: Luke Shaw can be Manchester United’s best left-back, says José Mourinho

Related: George Best film misses the target but his genius still shines through | Richard Williams

Related: Golden Goal: Edmundo for Vasco da Gama v Manchester United (2000)

11.34am GMT

Manchester United (4-2-3-1) De Gea; Valencia, Jones, Rojo, Shaw; Carrick, Pogba; Mata, Rooney, Martial; Ibrahimovic.
Substitutes: Romero, Blind, Smalling, Fellaini, Herrera, Lingard, Rashford.

AFC Bournemouth (4-4-2) Boruc; A Smith, S Cook, Mings, Daniels; Fraser, Arter, Surman, Pugh; Afobe, King.
Substitutes: Allsop, Cargill, B Smith, Gosling, Ibe, Wilshere, Gradel.

12.00pm GMT

Good morning, good evening, hello. Jose Mourinho has brought a strange kind of stability to Manchester United. For four months – four months! – they’ve been stuck in sixth place in the Premier League. Despite being unbeaten in that time they have moved precisely nowhere, participants in the dullest game of Snakes and Ladders ever. We shall not be moved, indeed.

That should finally change today. If United win against Bournemouth, they will move up to fourth for a few hours. More importantly, they will be guaranteed to finish the weekend in the rarefied atmosphere of fifth place.

Continue reading…

Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/football/live/2017/mar/04/manchester-united-v-bournemouth-premier-league-live

Feb 25

Watford 1-1 West Ham United: Premier League – as it happened

West Ham grabbed a deserved point through Andre Ayew after Troy Deeney’s penalty gave Watford an early lead

7.46pm GMT

Related: André Ayew pounces to earn West Ham hard-fought draw against Watford

7.31pm GMT

What an end to the game! Cleverley’s brilliant corner bounces across the face of goal, prompting a big appeal for handball, and then Success misses a bouncing ball four yards from goal! Watford almost nicked it, though that would have been harsh on West Ham. The first half was dreadful, the second extremely enjoyable. Thanks for your company, night.

7.27pm GMT

90+1 min There will be three minutes of added time. In the first of those, Edmilson Fernandes replaces the man of the match Lanzini. His second-half performance was delightful.

7.26pm GMT

90 min Lanzini backheels to Cresswell, who produces another killer cross from the left. It’s about to be headed in at the far post by the stooping Feghouli when Holebas dives to head behind for a corner. Superb defending.

7.24pm GMT

88 min Now it’s Watford who are pushing for a winner. Holebas’s cross is headed behind for a corner by Reid – and Britos misses a great chance! It was a big, booming corner from the left, curled towards the six-yard line. Britos towered above Fonte but was so preoccupied with winning that battle that he didn’t time his header and ended up shouldering it wide.

7.23pm GMT

87 min Bilic has been in a volcanic funk all match. He’ll go postal if they lose this.

7.22pm GMT

86 min Michail Antonio gets a second yellow card for a deliberate handball. No arguments. Well, there shouldn’t be any arguments but there are from Slaven Bilic.

7.21pm GMT

85 min Watford break dangerously through Doucoure, who finds Success on the left. He is easily dispossessed by Fonte.

7.19pm GMT

83 min Another player is booked for fouling Lanzini. This time it’s Holebas. Lanzini has been absolutely majestic since half-time.

7.17pm GMT

81 min Isaac Success replaces Niang for Watford.

7.17pm GMT

80 min Hindsight shows that Watford declared at 1-0 up. That’s okay after 70 minutes, but not so much after three minutes.

7.14pm GMT

79 min Doucoure is booked for pulling back Lanzini. Watford haven’t been able to deal with Lanzini in the second half.

7.13pm GMT

77 min Kouyate breaks away from Niang just outside the Watford area. Niang puts his hand on Kouyate’s shoulder and then hoofs him up the trousers. The referee says play on, a decision with which Slaven Bilic is not entirely enamoured.

7.10pm GMT

The goal was made by Antonio, who took a good pass from Lanzini and roared thrillingly away from Kaboul and into the box. He curled a low left-footed shot which flashed off the inside of both posts at pace before rebounding perfectly for Ayew to tap into the open net

7.09pm GMT

Ayew gets a deserved equaliser!

7.06pm GMT

71 min West Ham don’t deserve to lose this game. They have been terrific since half-time.

7.05pm GMT

70 min Cleverley is booked for something or other.

7.05pm GMT

69 min Antonio heads wide from a brilliant Cresswell cross! He smashed it in from the left and it bounced up at perfectly at the far post for Antonio, who ducked in front of Britos but headed fractionally wide from six yards. He should have scored.

7.03pm GMT

68 min Niang is booked for a foul on Lanzini. West Ham’s pressure is relentless at the moment.

7.03pm GMT

66 min Slaven Bilic is going to lose it any second now.

7.00pm GMT

65 min West Ham make a change: Andre Ayew replaces Robert Snodgrass.

7.00pm GMT

65 min Kouyate is booked for running Niang over.

6.58pm GMT

62 min Great save from Gomes! Snodgrass’s deep free-kick from the right was headed back across the box by Antonio, and then Fonte powered a header towards goal from eight yards. Gomes flew to his left like a cartoon character to make a superb save at full stretch.

6.57pm GMT

62 min Lanzini is starting to run the game, and West Ham have been so much sharper since half-time.

6.55pm GMT

59 min Another great cross from Lanzini, this time low and diagonal, is about to be tapped into an empty net by Antonio when Gomes gets down to palm it away.

6.54pm GMT

58 min Lanzini goes past a couple of defenders and lobs a cross to the far post, where Cathcart makes a great headed clearance under pressure from Snodgrass.

6.50pm GMT

54 min Capoue plays a fine disguised chip towards Deeney, who flattens Fonte while knocking it down to Cleverley. He can’t quite take it on the run and it goes through to Randolph.

6.47pm GMT

52 min A Watford substitution: Craig Cathcart for Daryl Janmaat.

6.47pm GMT

50 min Kouyate, who conceded the penalty in the first half, appeals for one after a wrestle with Niang. The referee, whose name is Craig Pawson, gives a foul against Kouyate. There was definitely a foul by Niang. The issue is whether Kouyate fouled him first. Glenn Hoddle thinks he did; Martin Keown doesn’t.

6.43pm GMT

47 min It’s been a fast start to the second half from West Ham. Feghouli chips Gomes nonchalantly from 25 yards, though the referee had already blown for a foul and there were no complaints – not even on social media!!!!!

6.41pm GMT

46 min Peep peep! Watford begin the second half, kicking from left to right.

6.26pm GMT

Watford lead through Troy Deeney’s early penalty in a largely uneventful game. Mauro Zarate, who won the penalty, was stretchered off with a bad injury just before the break, which meant 11 minutes of added time. See you in 10 minutes for the second half.

6.25pm GMT

45+10 min Antonio is booked for leaving a foot in on Behrami.

6.23pm GMT

45+9 min Zarate has been moved onto the stretcher and the medical team are now taking him from the field. He is replaced by Abdoulaye Doucoure.

6.21pm GMT

45+6 min This looks like a very serious injury. He’s being moved very gingerly onto the stretcher, with his legs strapped together.

6.19pm GMT

45+4 min Zarate still hasn’t left the field. They are still preparing to move him onto the stretcher.

6.17pm GMT

45+2 min Zarate is being stretchered off. I’m not sure what happened but he’s in serious pain.

6.16pm GMT

45+1 min A good chance for West Ham. Cresswell’s excellent low cross is palmed out by the diving Gomes to Snodgrass, but he’s too slow to react and his second touch is a tackle.

6.13pm GMT

43 min Watford break through Holebas, who runs 50 yards down the left. He gets into the area, with options in front of goal, and then decides to have a cup of coffee. That allows Fonte to get back, slide in and block the belated cross.

6.11pm GMT

41 min Antonio flicks the ball over Britos, muscles past him on the inside and hits a shot from six yards that is crucially blocked by Kaboul. Antonio has been a big influence in the last 15 minutes.

6.08pm GMT

38 min I don’t think this will be the opening game on Match of the Day tonight.

6.07pm GMT

37 min The resulting free-kick is whacked over the bar by Lanzini, a miserable effort when he had players in the middle.

6.06pm GMT

36 min Antonio goes on a strong run down the left before being put in an ejector seat by Janmaat, who is booked.

6.02pm GMT

33 min Kouyate charges down the right, and puts a cross straight out of play.

5.59pm GMT

29 min A nice passing move from West Ham, their best of the match, ends when Snodgrass’s low ball towards Feghouli is well claimed by Gomes.

5.58pm GMT

28 min Fonte slices a clearance straight out of play, generously supplying a microcosm of West Ham’s performance so far.

5.57pm GMT

26 min In case you missed it, look at this goal from Zarate earlier in the season.

5.56pm GMT

5.55pm GMT

25 min Holebas heads behind for a West Ham corner, their second. Snodgrass curls it in from the right and it’s headed away. West Ham have created very little thus far.

5.53pm GMT

23 min Zarate is going to continue for the time being.

5.51pm GMT

21 min Zarate is in a fair bit of pain after a foul from Feghouli. He looks like he might have twisted his ankle.

5.48pm GMT

18 min An excellent chance for West Ham. Feghouli mugs the dithering Holebas and moves into the box before giving to Snodgrass, whose first-time shot is crucially blocked by Kaboul.

5.45pm GMT

16 min Zarate makes space for a fierce shot that whacks off the head of Reid. Watford look very lively going forward.

5.44pm GMT

14 min Holebas’s long-range drive deflects wide off Kouyate. Nothing comes of the corner.

5.40pm GMT

11 min Antonio’s dangerous low cross from his left is shanked to safety by Britos. That could easily have gone into his own net.

5.39pm GMT

9 min Watford are content to sit deep and play on the break, especially now they are ahead. Slaven Bilic is already patrolling the touchline with his weary face on.

5.37pm GMT

7 min West Ham haven’t exactly flown out of the traps. In fact they haven’t even crawled out of them. They are still in them, fast asleep, dreaming of a better world.

5.36pm GMT

6 min Niang picks up a loose ball in midfield, galumphs towards goal and hits a storming rising drive from 25 yards that just clears the crossbar with Randolph beaten. That was gloriously struck.

5.33pm GMT

Troy Deeney cracks it hard and low to the left. Good penalty. Randolph went the right way but was nowhere near it.

5.32pm GMT

Zarate was going nowhere, near the byline, and Kouyate just ran him over.

5.32pm GMT

Kouyate is penalised for a challenge on Zarate. Absolutely stupid, and needless, and a clear penalty.

5.30pm GMT

1 min West Ham, in claret and blue, kick off from left to right. Watford are in yellow.

5.29pm GMT

It’s a wet, windy evening in Watford. Who wants

some
it the most?

4.36pm GMT

Watford (4-3-3) Gomes; Janmaat, Kaboul, Britos, Holebas; Cleverley, Behrami, Capoue; Zarate, Deeney, Niang.
Substitutes: Arlauskis, Prodl, Success, Cathcart, Doucoure, Zuniga, Okaka.

West Ham (4-2-3-1) Randolph; Kouyate, Fonte, Reid, Cresswell; Obiang, Noble; Feghouli, Lanzini, Snodgrass; Antonio.
Substitutes: Adrian, Byram, Masuaku, Collins, Fernandes, Ayew, Calleri.

5.22pm GMT

In these insufferably narcissistic times, blustering underachievement has greater cachet than quiet achievement. Let’s change that. Let’s give it up for Watford and West Ham, who have both ensured safety with a third of the season remaining.

The two teams have had impressive seasons for different reasons. Watford have achieved stability despite changing their manager every five minutes, and West Ham have recovered from the mess that was the first few months of their season. As any Championship Manager vet knows, once you are tipped for the sack it is nigh-on impossible to turn things round. But Bilic has done that.

Continue reading…

Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/football/live/2017/feb/25/watford-v-west-ham-united-premier-league-live

Feb 25

Leeds United 1-0 Sheffield Wednesday: Championship – as it happened

Chris Wood’s calm finish and Robert Green’s penalty save gave Leeds an important win in a tough, unyielding derby

2.43pm GMT

Related: Chris Wood strikes to give Leeds derby victory over Sheffield Wednesday

2.22pm GMT

Peep peep! Leeds move up to fourth – and nine points clear of seventh-placed Fulham – with an important derby win. It was a hard-nosed struggle with just two shots on target in the whole match – Chris Wood’s goal and Jordan Rhodes’ penalty that was saved by Rob Green. Leeds’ defensive square were quite superb. Thanks for your company, don’t forget the clockwatch!

Related: Chelsea v Swansea City, Everton v Sunderland and more – live!

2.19pm GMT

90+2 min Wood is booked for timewasting. He was flagged offside but chipped Westwood anyway.

2.17pm GMT

90 min There will be four minutes of added Wednesday frustration.

2.16pm GMT

89 min Leeds are probably under less pressure than at any stage since half-time.

2.14pm GMT

87 min It’s been a frustrating match for Wednesday. They’ve have lots of the ball and lots of near chances, but few actual ones. Meanwhile, Bridcutt is booked for timewasting.

2.13pm GMT

86 min Leeds make their final change: Pablo Hernandez is replaced by Stuart Dallas.

2.12pm GMT

2.12pm GMT

85 min A free-kick to Wednesday on the right wing. Wallace curls it in and Green punches away.

2.09pm GMT

82 min Another leeds change: Ronaldo Vieira replaces the tiring Eunan O’Kane.

2.08pm GMT

81 min The substitute Bannan tries his luck from 25 yards. It’s a decent effort that bounces just wide of the far post, though I think Green had it covered.

2.03pm GMT

76 min McManaman’s cross from the left is headed towards the six-yard line by Forestieri, and the stretching Berardi makes a vital interception to deny Fletcher.

2.02pm GMT

74 min Wednesday have had so much of the ball in the second half but Leeds’ defending has been superb, certainly in open play. They have looked a bit more vulnerable from set pieces.

2.01pm GMT

73 min “A revisionist view of that “dive” from the man himself,” sniffs Ian Copestake.

2.01pm GMT

72 min Roofe shoves McManaman, who gives the ball away as a result to Hernandez. He tries to play a low ball across the box which deflects back towards him, and then both he and Roofe try to shoot at the same time. It hits a defender and goes behind for a corner.

1.58pm GMT

72 min “I played a 1996/97 Sensible World of Soccer version of this fixture this morning,” says Peter. “Mark Pembridge scores a 90th-minute equaliser to cancel out Tony Yeboah’s first-half strike. The game ends 1-1.”

Consider the front page held.

1.58pm GMT

71 min Leeds make their first change: Kemar Roofe replaces Hadi Sacko.

1.57pm GMT

70 min O’Kane is booked for a weary foul on Reach.

1.56pm GMT

69 min Bridcutt is robbed just outside his own area by Forestieri, whose pass to Fletcher is crucially intercepted by the last man Jansson.

1.55pm GMT

68 min Wednesday make a double change, bringing on Bannan and Steven Fletcher for Jordan Rhodes and Almen Abdi.

1.53pm GMT

67 min Wednesday have a really strong bench, and they’re not afraid to use it: Barry Bannan is about to come on.

1.52pm GMT

65 min A rare Leeds attack. Hernandez plays an excellent pass inside McManaman for Ayling, whose dangerous low cross is cleared to O’Kane. His follow-up shot is well off target.

1.51pm GMT

63 min Wallace is booked for a dive just outside the Leeds area. Good refereeing from Mike Jones. Bartley, the defender, thought he’d been penalised and has his hands over his head in apoplexy.

1.48pm GMT

61 min This is Wednesday’s best spell of the match. Leeds are struggling to get out.

1.46pm GMT

59 min There’s a break in play, so let’s have a look at Gordon Watson one more time.

1.45pm GMT

58 min Another excellent inswinging corner from Wallace is headed over from eight yards by the unsighted Loovens. That was a chance.

1.45pm GMT

57 min It’s starting to get a bit niggly. Wallace is fouled 25 yards from goal, to the right of centre. He takes the free-kick himself and it deflects off the wall for a corner.

1.43pm GMT

56 min Replays show Doukara and Hutchinson were wrestling each other. Rhodes had another chance straight after the penalty, when he mistimed his jump from the ensuing corner and knocked the ball over the bar from eight yards.

1.42pm GMT

It wasn’t a great penalty from Rhodes – accurate, but a bit too soft and Green had time to plunge to his left and tip it onto the post. I’m not sure it was a penalty in the first place, although Doukara certainly took a risk by putting hands on Hutchinson. You can see why it was given.

1.41pm GMT

Robert Green pushes the penalty onto the post!

1.40pm GMT

A corner is headed back across the box, and Doukara is penalised for pulling back Hutchinson. Hmm.

1.39pm GMT

52 min On reflection, I’m not certain Hutchinson did get the ball. I’d like to see that again.

1.39pm GMT

Related: Chelsea v Swansea, Everton v Sunderland: clockwatch – live!

1.38pm GMT

51 min Leeds appeal for a penalty when Hutchinson makes a risky tackle on O’Kane near the byline. Replays show he got the ball, and that’s the end of that.

1.38pm GMT

51 min Leeds’ defensive square of Bartley, Jansson, Bridcutt and O’Kane are so tough to get through. Wednesday have had no joy at all in central areas.

1.37pm GMT

50 min Bridcutt drills a long crossfield pass to Wood on the left. He runs at the backpedalling Sasso, cuts inside on the edge of the box and crunches a shot that swerves well wide of the far post.

1.35pm GMT

49 min “Are we sure which city Dave Hill’s in?” asks Glenn Hoddle. “If San Diego, I suggest the Shakespeare Pub & Grill to see the game. Mind you, I remember having furniture thrown at me when I went there to see that England – Ireland friendly that was abandoned after twenty minutes many years ago.” 15 February 1995, yeah.

1.33pm GMT

47 min “Would be interested to hear Leeds fans thoughts on how Roofe has played this year?” says Max Edwards. “He was on another level for us last year.”

1.33pm GMT

46 min Peep peep! Sheffield Wednesday begin the second half, kicking from right to left.

1.32pm GMT

Sheffield Wednesday are making a half-time substitution: Callum McManaman for Morgan Fox.

1.18pm GMT

Half-time reading

Related: The ‘giant-killing’ FA Cup is no longer such a football fairytale | Matthew Engel

1.17pm GMT

Peep peep! Leeds are ahead in an unyielding match thanks to Chris Wood’s calm finish. See you in 10 minutes for the second half.

1.16pm GMT

45 min Rhodes appeals for a penalty after some off-the-ball physical banter with Bartley. Mike Jones says not out. Then Green drops a vicious low cross from Reach and is happy to see it fall to a Leeds defender.

1.15pm GMT

44 min “Hey Rob,” says JR in Illinois. “Yeah, as Dave Hill said this game is not on TV here in the U.S. Instead the channel that shows Championship games is showing a PiYo infomercial so I am watching Wolves v Birmingham from yesterday. Perhaps Dave needs a new TV because Leeds has been on TV (for league games) several times this season. I’ve seen them get spanked by QPR and Brighton and seen them smoke Rotherham.”

Smoke Rotherham has to be a band name, somewhere.

1.14pm GMT

43 min It’s all a bit scruffy at the moment, which suits Leeds given the scoreline.

1.12pm GMT

41 min Jansson is booked for a foul on Forestieri about two minutes after the event. The referee played the advantage and then went back to book him, though I’m not entirely certain it was a foul.

1.07pm GMT

35 min A great defensive header from Sasso denies Wood a clear chance from six yards and sparks a Sheffield Wednesday break. Eventually a cross is half-cleared to Forestieri, who sidefoots a half-volley high and wide from 15 yards

1.05pm GMT

34 min Wednesday are really dominating possession now, although they haven’t had a shot on target yet. If anything Leeds look more dangerous on the counter.

1.04pm GMT

33 min Wednesday win the first corner of the match. Wallace’s inswinger is cleared to Wood, who breaks forward and finds Sacko. He has a great chance to return the favour and put Wood clear on goal. Instead he decides to set off on a surging run straight out of play. That was dreadful decision-making from Sacko.

1.01pm GMT

32 min “Has Dave Hill not gone to bed or got up at 4.30am especially to watch Leeds?” says Ian Copestake. “Am sure The Cock ‘n’ Bull on Lincoln and Pier would serve his needs. Is run by a different sleepless Evertonian.”

1.01pm GMT

31 min Sasso is booked for a foul on Wood.

1.00pm GMT

30 min Wednesday have been the better team either side of the goal and there’s a burgeoning nervousness around Elland Road.

12.59pm GMT

28 min Abdi plays a forensic through pass to Forestieri, who controls it on the run and is about to shoot when Jansson comes across to make an excellent challenge.

12.58pm GMT

27 min “As my train winds its way from Newcastle to Carlisle, I’m sat here wondering how the Leicester board will one-up the most unlikely league title of all time, and the unceremonius dumping of Uncle Ranieri,” says Matt Loten. “Mandatory sacking for any manager that loses a game? Joe Kinnear’s triumphant return to football as new manager of Leicester City? The relocation of the entire King Power Stadium to Bangkok in an attempt to ‘grow the brand’ in ‘key international markets’? I wait with bated breath.”

Unless Danny Dyer is involved, sacking Ranieri is indefensible.

12.56pm GMT

25 min That wasn’t great defending from Wednesday. The centre-halves let Wood go and he was played onside by the right-back Hunt.

12.55pm GMT

Doukara tapped the ball down the left to Berardi, who was fractionally offside but not given. He curled a right-footed cross into Wood, who looked offside on the six-yard line but wasn’t, and he controlled the ball before relaxing his right foot to cushion a low volley past Westwood.

12.54pm GMT

Chris Wood scores lots of goals, but few as easy as this.

12.54pm GMT

23 min Wednesday are having more of the game now. Hunt’s fierce cross from the right is well controlled by Rhodes but he can’t get over his subsequent snapshot on the turn and it whistles high over the bar.

12.52pm GMT

21 min A near miss for Sheffield Wednesday. Wallace’s dangerous inswinging free-kick right hits the head of Wood at the near post and drifts a few yards wide of the far post. It should have been a corner but the referee gave a goal kick.

12.48pm GMT

17 min Lovely play on the right by Sacko, who nutmegs Fox and crosses low towards the near post, where the diving Westwood palms the ball away.

12.47pm GMT

16 min The first decent move of the match. Sheffield Wednesday take a quick free-kick inside their own half and break from right to left, where Reach’s excellent low cross drifts across the face of goal.

12.43pm GMT

12 min “I guess it’s a good thing that I can’t get the game on TV here in California,” says Dave Hill. “The only time I’ve been able to watch Leeds in the past couple of years have been FA Cup ties. The less said, the better.”

12.42pm GMT

11 min A stirring blast of “We all hate Leeds scum” is interrupted by contemptuous whistling when Fox stabs a pass straight out of play.

12.41pm GMT

9 min Both teams are really harassing each other in midfield, which is the main reason the game still hasn’t settled down. My enormous book of football cliches tells me it’s a typical derby game so far.

12.38pm GMT

7 min It was Kuala Lumpur.

12.37pm GMT

6 min Leeds have been the better side so far, though the match hasn’t really settled down.

12.36pm GMT

5 min There’s a lovely, quaint aggression to this match: slide tackles, chanting, the lot.

12.33pm GMT

3 min After a mistake from Sasso, Wood’s optimistic shot from the right side of the box dribbles tamely across goal.

12.33pm GMT

3 min Hutchinson sets his agenda with a couple of lively, fair tackles in midfield. Up with this sort of thing!

12.31pm GMT

2 min “As a lifelong Leeds fan I will be following the game from here in KL with fingers crossed,” says Karen Young. “I think the pressure of holding on to a play-off place may well prove a step too far for my beloved Whites. How us LUFC fans long for the days of the Premiership – my daughter and I (both Mancunians) had season tickets and revelled in those Champions League nights. I can keep dreaming Rob, but until then – Good Luck LUFC. Enjoy the game, it will be lively and loud!!”

KL? Kuala Lumpur? Kirkland Lake? Kings Langley?

12.31pm GMT

1 min Peep peep! Leeds, in white, kick off from right to left. Sheffield Wednesday are in black.

12.21pm GMT

Is it me or… is Keith Andrews an extremely good pundit? Never seen him before but he’s talking all kinds of insightful, opinionated sense, and in a lovely brogue too.

12.19pm GMT

“Thank goodness for some footer!” says Ian Copestake. “And a time machine of a match at that. I lived in Leeds during their Leicester-like rise and fall but now only associate them with a solid foreign chairman of good standing who seems to have demonstrated the sense of sacking people every twelve minutes. It will never catch on though.”

Ian, your status as the best MBM emailer of all time is without question. But we are duty-bound to put the MBM’s long-term interests above all sense of personal sentiment, no matter how strong that might be. Therefore, you’re blocked.

11.42am GMT

Our first email!

“Come on Rob,give us your prediction on this one,” says Michael Senior. “As an Owl, I’d probably take a draw right now, but heart says 2-1 to Wednesday.”

11.34am GMT

Leeds (4-2-3-1) Green; Ayling, Bartley, Jansson, Berardi; Bridcutt, O’Kane; Sacko, Hernandez, Doukara; Wood.
Substitutes: Silvestri, Cooper, Vieira, Pedraza, Barrow, Dallas, Roofe.

Sheffield Wednesday (4-4-2) Westwood; Hunt, Loovens, Sasso, Fox; Wallace, Hutchinson, Abdi, Reach; Rhodes, Forestieri.
Substitutes: Wildsmith, Fletcher, McManaman, Winnall, Palmer, Semedo, Bannan.

4.49pm GMT

Hello. Leeds and Sheffield Wednesday belong together, forever and ever – but not in the Championship. They are Premier League teams in all but name, a situation both hope to rectify in May. At the moment they are both in the play-off places and have a puncher’s chance of being promoted back to the top division for the first time since 2004 and 2000 respectively. That’s something for each side to worry about tomorrow. Today they just want to beat that lot.

It’s 25 years since they finished first and third in the final season of the old first division. The most devastating performance of Leeds’ title win came against Wednesday, a majestic 6-1 win at Hillsborough live on ITV. It’s a game best remembered for … actually it’s best remembered for Gordon Watson’s hilarious dive, but let’s not dwell on that. Let’s reflect instead on another high-scoring game between the sides: Sheffield Wednesday 6-2 Leeds in 1995-96, a game best remembered for … oh I give up.

Continue reading…

Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/football/live/2017/feb/25/leeds-united-v-sheffield-wednesday-championship-live

Feb 15

Raymond van Barneveld: ‘I’m playing the best darts of my career … but keep losing’

No matter how well the great Dutchman plays, Michael van Gerwen and Gary Anderson always seem to raise their game to beat him, and he knows his time at the top is limited

Raymond van Barneveld has an unusual problem. Since Moses wore short pants, sportsmen have been frustrated by poor performance – but Van Barneveld is being driven to distraction by arguably the best form of his career. The reason is simple: no matter how well he plays, Michael van Gerwen and Gary Anderson tend to play even better.

Van Barneveld last won a major in 2014, when he was Premier League champion. Since then he has had some of the greatest victories of his career, including the famous win over Van Gerwen at the 2016 world championship, and his languid, elegant throw has rarely been more accurate than in the past few months. But he has nothing tangible to show for it.

Related: Michael van Gerwen blitzes Raymond van Barneveld to set up dream PDC final

Continue reading…

Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/sport/2017/feb/15/raymond-van-barneveld-best-darts-but-keep-losing

Feb 05

Leicester City 0-3 Manchester United: Premier League – as it happened

Henrikh Mkhitaryan starred and scored a fine opening goal as Manchester United eased to victory over a dazed Leicester

5.49pm GMT

Peep peep! For 82 minutes the match was uneventful, but a spurt of goals either side of half-time gave United a comfortable win. Henrikh Mkhitaryan was terrific. Leicester look broken mentally and it wouldn’t be a surprise if Claudio Ranieri lost his job in the next week or two. It would be utterly disgusting, but not surprising. Thanks for your company; bye!

5.46pm GMT

88 min Pogba’s low, long-range bullet is well held by Schmeichel, plunging to his right. Schmeichel has had a terrific game and is one of the few Leicester players who looks up for the fight, at least in the football sense. A couple of them look up for some old-fashioned bare-knuckle tomfoolery.

5.45pm GMT

88 min De Gea is booked for perceived timewasting.

5.44pm GMT

86 min Valencia tries to stud a bouncing ball, misses and catches Gray in the chest. He’s lucky not to be booked.

5.43pm GMT

85 min I’m surprised Mkhitaryan doesn’t play more as a No10 for United. That means playing Pogba deeper and omitting Carrick or Herrera, so it’s not a straightforward decision, but Mkhitaryan is so good in that position and has been the best player on the pitch.

5.41pm GMT

84 min Marcus Rashford is replaced by Ashley Young, which might also be interpreted as a stiff two fingers to Anthony Martial.

5.40pm GMT

83 min Valencia’s cut-back is crashed over the bar from 15 yards by Mkhitaryan, who yells with frustration. It was a tricky first-time chance on the run, even for a player of his abundant class.

5.38pm GMT

81 min Pogba turns away from Ranieri, who slips over embarrassingly.

5.37pm GMT

80 min Mkhitaryan takes Herrera’s pass in his stride and surges into the box, where Fuchs makes a brilliant last-man tackle to save a fourth goal. He has had a shocking game but that was superb. Mkhitaryan is so quick with the ball.

5.36pm GMT

79 min This win moves United to within a point of Liverpool and two of Arsenal. The title race may be a non-event because of Conte and Kante but this fascinating battle to finish in the top four is surely going the distance.

5.34pm GMT

77 min Big Fella replaces Mata, who scored the third and put Jamie Vardy in an ejector seat in the first half.

5.33pm GMT

76 min The final indignity for Leicester: Marouane Fellaini is coming on.

5.32pm GMT

75 min Ibrahimovic makes a fool of the inept Ranieri on the right-hand side of the box before being tackled by Morgan.

5.31pm GMT

73 min It’s been suggested that some Leicester players asked the chairman to sack Ranieri. If they do it again, the chairman should gently concur that it is time for a change, and then hand them a personalised P45. Utter gits.

5.29pm GMT

72 min This is very good on referees, from Daniel Harris in the New Statesman.

5.28pm GMT

71 min United don’t seem particularly fussed about scoring a fourth; Leicester are too mentally weary to try to score a first. The next 20 minutes should be great fun!

5.27pm GMT

66 min “Granit Xhaha was given a straight red by Taylor for a tackle that was not as bad as a Mata’s,” says Colin Mackay. “Taylor also gave Xhaha a straight red for a tackle against Swansea earlier in the season. It was identical to one by Matic yesterday, for which he got a yellow (and the tackle was described as clever), while Janmaat did same for Burnley vs Arsenal and got no card at all. Is it really too much to ask that there is some consistency? If a two-footed tackle is an offence, make it a red card or a yellow card, not dependent on what side of bed the ref got out of on the day.”

Referees get things wrong, and always will – even with television replays. They usually make fewer mistakes than anyone else involved in a football match though.

5.25pm GMT

64 min “I think Mkhitaryan would be able to pull off a Yosser Hughes-style ‘tache,” writes Conal Huetter. “Could also easily see Zlatan twirling a handlebar moustache in the manner of Snidely Whiplash or Dick Dastardly.”

5.20pm GMT

62 min Mata misses a sitter. He ran through on goal again after yet more abysmal defending from Claudio Ranieri, who tried to play offside with no pressure on the ball. Mata instinctively decided the best way to beat Schmeichel from a few yards was to lob him; unsurprisingly he couldn’t get the elevation and Schmeichel saved.

5.16pm GMT

57 min Mahrez clips the free-kick through the wall and into the side netting at the near post. De Gea was unsighted, and then gave the wall a serve for splitting as they jumped.

5.14pm GMT

56 min Now Pogba is booked for a sliding foul on Ndidi. Another good decision from referee Anthony Taylor, who is living up to the billing we gave him in his preview essay.

5.12pm GMT

55 min Herrera is booked for a take-one-for-the-team foul on Vardy.

5.12pm GMT

55 min Rooney would look great with a Merv Hughes,” says Bill Hargreaves.

5.11pm GMT

54 min This could get really messy for Leicester, who have been playing in a daze since that third goal.

5.10pm GMT

53 min “Referee based preview show?” weeps Hubert O’Hearn? “Oh no, it won’t stop there. We’ll soon enough have Calls of the Day in the evening. Tune in to see Mark Clattenburg and Howard Webb on the COTD couch! (I better not have given any broadcaster any ideas.)”

5.10pm GMT

52 min Rashford sweeps a left-footed shot towards goal from a tight angle and Schmeichel gets down smartly to push it behind.

5.09pm GMT

50 min There’s some talk that Mata should not be on the field after that first-half foul on Vardy. It was a really bad tackle but a yellow card was right. The player lucky not to be sent off was Vardy for that unseen kick at Bailly.

5.08pm GMT

It was an easy goal for United. Ibrahimovic and Mkhitaryan combined well to find Mata on the right. He played a square pass to Mkhitaryan, who returned it behind the dithering Fuchs for Mata to sidefoot under Schmeichel.

5.07pm GMT

It’s over. Three goals in seven minutes for United.

5.06pm GMT

47 min “I note the limited reference to # in your comments (I’m using the hash sign to refer to the most expensive player in the world after his most noteworthy contribution to the recent game in Liverpool came via his domination of the advertising hoardings rather than the midfield),” says Niall Sheerin. “I live in France and most everyone I know is flabbergasted by the fee paid for him and Ibra-esque ego for a very ordinary player. Can you explain the omerta surrounding that shameless self-promotion? Whatever happened to “do your talking on the pitch”? What would Roy Keane have to say? Has he ever done anything in red that would suggest he’s fit to wear the jersey?”

Well, yes he has, clearly. But I do take your point. It sounds absurd given the fee but to some extent United bought potential.

5.04pm GMT

46 min Peep peep! Both teams have made half-time substitutions. Leicester have brought on King and Gray for Musa and Okazaki, while Daley Blind is on for Marcos Rojo.

4.53pm GMT

Half-time chit-chat

“Do you think Leicester’s alleged Premiership victory was based on the delivery of a Wigginsesque package that has since been restricted to midweek usage?” asks Ian Copestake.

4.52pm GMT

Peep peep! United were the better side after a good tactical switch from Jose Mourinho, though their two quickfire goals came as a surprise. Leicester have a job on to save the match. See you in 10 minutes for the second half.

4.46pm GMT

45 min Okazaki has a shot blocked by Pogba, and Ndidi’s beautifully struck long-range follow-up is well held by the falling De Gea.

4.46pm GMT

45 min That’s Ibrahimovic’s 20th goal of the season, the first time a United player has managed that post-Ferguson.

4.45pm GMT

2-0! Valencia drags a low cross into the box, and Ibrahimovic reacts quickest to screw a shot through the legs of Morgan and into the net from 12 yards. The wrongfooted Schmeichel had no chance.

4.44pm GMT

It was a splendidly decisive goal. Smalling won a header in midfield and knocked it into the Leicester half. Huth thought he get the ball ahead of Mkhitaryan and lumbered towards it. He thought wrong. Mkhitaryan got there first and was away. He angled his run just enough to keep the covering Morgan out of the game and then, from just inside the box, clipped the ball into the net via the knee of Schmeichel.

4.42pm GMT

Henrikh Mkhitaryan opens his legs and shows his class!

4.38pm GMT

37 min “Good morning Rob,” says Travis Giblin. “At least, it’s good morning from Canada. It may be an indication of my slow morning, what with my wife having taken my kids to their swimming lessons and left me home to fend for myself, but I’m rather looking forward to the match preview of Ref Anthony Taylor. So, when you have a chance…”

You jest. But I give it five years – tops – before referees have their own stats-based preview show every weekend.

4.36pm GMT

35 min Fine save from Schmeichel! Pogba and Ibrahimovic combine well before Pogba plays a sharp pass to Rashford in the box. He controls it on the run and then cracks the bouncing ball towards the near post from 12 yards. Schmeichel, who may have been unsighted, does extremely well to get down to his right and push it round. The corner almost breaks to Pogba at the near post, but doesn’t, so there that goes.

4.31pm GMT

32 min There’s been one shot on target all match, that long-range swirler from Rojo.

4.29pm GMT

30 min United have been the better side since Mourinho’s tactical switch, though almost all of their play has been in front of the Leicester back four.

4.28pm GMT

28 min Mata is booked for an abysmal tackle on Vardy, an unwitting homage to this moment of comic perfection.

4.23pm GMT

23 min United’s first chance. Mata on the right finds Mkhitaryan, who clips the ball first time into a dangerous area near the penalty spot. Rashford runs onto the ball and sweeps a half-volley over the bar. He caught it sweetly but couldn’t control it.

4.22pm GMT

22 min Vardy spins cleverly and plays a good pass to Musa, who is one against one with Bailly in the box. Bailly goes to ground riskily but manages to concede a corner.

4.20pm GMT

20 min United, hitherto dismal in attack, have switched back to 4-2-3-1.

4.19pm GMT

19 min A good free-kick routine from Leicester almost leads to a goal. Mahrez’s short inswinger is looped towards the far post by the head of Vardy, and Mahrez arrives late to head for goal. It hits Pogba and goes behind for a corner.

4.18pm GMT

18 min “It wasn’t me following that feed!” says John Beaven. “It was, er, a friend. Yes, definitely a friend. And not me. At all.”

It’s okay, mid-life crises are trending at the moment. Might as well cash in while you can.

4.17pm GMT

16 min Michael Carrick is having a good game.

4.15pm GMT

15 min Leicester’s house genius Mahrez enlivens the tedium with a nice run infield before screwing a low shot well wide of the far post.

4.14pm GMT

14 min Bailly has a wrestle with Vardy, who has a little kick at him as they roll over by the touchline. The referee didn’t see it but had he done so it would have been a red card.

4.11pm GMT

11 min “That Association Football has had its doors wide to hardcore capitalism for over two decades and there are still people out there who expect its leaders to show nobility is heartwarming,” says Mark Turner. “In a “capitalism still has plenty of people to rip off” sort of way.”

Ha, yes. Football is a despicable industry but I thought Leicester just might be an exception.

4.11pm GMT

10 min Not much is happening. The referee is so bored that he’s called the captain Chris Smalling over to have a word with him about Ibrahimovic, who had a bit of a struggle with Drinkwater in midfield. Is Smalling his interpreter?

4.09pm GMT

8 minI found some video of the Arsenal defence at their most fearsome and co-ordinated…” says John Beaven.

Enough of that undeniable cuteness, John: why are you looking at a Twitter feed entitled ‘Bitch Problems’? Eh? There goes your knighthood.

4.06pm GMT

6 min Ibrahimovic flicks the ball cleverly to Rojo, who swooshes a first-time shot towards goal from just outside the box. It’s well shot but comfortably saved by Schmeichel.

4.05pm GMT

5 min United break from the Leicester corner through Mata, and Drinkwater takes a booking for the team.

4.04pm GMT

4 min It’s been a bright, aggressive start from Leicester, particularly without the ball. There’s a fine atmosphere too. Leicester’s home form has been very good this season and will surely keep them up. Anyway, Mahrez wanders to the left and plays a dangerous cross towards Huth at the far post. Rojo does very well to head behind for a corner.

4.02pm GMT

3 min If you’re into the whole tactics thing, United have matched Leicester’s 4-4-2: Rashford is up front, Mata right, Mkhitaryan left.

4.01pm GMT

2 min “Howdy from sunny San Francisco. (Actually foggy as Wenger’s visage after the Chelsea defeat but people EXPECT California to be sunny…)” says Jason Omahony. “Anyhoo, totally agree with you; Ranieri deserves the job for life. I doubt it was his decision to sell N’Golo Kanté. But just like Leeds getting rid of another Gallic icon in December ‘92, that sale to Chelsea tore the guts out of a team of Champions and gave a title-winning lift to the buying team.”

That’s interesting. Personally I think the impact of the sale of both Cantona and Kante is massively overplayed. The impact of the purchase of both, on the other hand, cannot possibly be overplayed. As for expectations of California, blame Sandy and Seth Cohen.

4.00pm GMT

1 min Peep peep! Manchester United, in red, kick off from right to left. Leicester are in blue.

3.55pm GMT

“So much bandwidth to Ranieri…” says Manoj Ramarao. “A word or two for the other manager tonight who’s had only a few cups more under his belt, may just be in order.”

Be patient. I’ve written individual match previews for both managers, the 22 players, the 14 subs, referee Anthony Taylor and a few of the commentators. I’m just spreading them throughout the build-up.

3.46pm GMT

“Afternoon Rob!” says Benjamin Dalmont. “I sort of agree with you that football should be more noble and faithful. But everybody (including your intro) makes it sound like it was Ranieri’s own private achievement. Not the players’, not the cryogenic-friendly medical staff’s, not that other madman-who-mentions-ostriches-that-was-there-before’ guy’s achievement for putting that team together and solidifying their team spirit. Really, he let the team that was there when he arrived (including previously identified transfer target Kanté) play to the strengths it was already using during the relegation battle. And in the summer, he let go the team’s best player, without whom their midfield is ghostlike. He was a perfect catalyst for these existing elements, but, come on. This British love of managers, making everything their own private victory or downfall, it’s romantic but a bit much non?”

In defence of, er, me, I did write “what Ranieri and the players achieved”. I agree that the cult of the manager is too great, which is precisely why Ranieri is in danger of the sack.

3.30pm GMT

And on the fifth day everyone said: “cheers God, appreciate everything you’ve done mate, but we’re a bit bored of you now, can you do one?”

Leicester City play Manchester United today, but enough of that. Let’s get something straight: Claudio Ranieri should have a job for life at Leicester. If he wants to manage them until the age of 102, all the way down to the 47th tier of English football amid a series of indefensibly eccentric decisions, he can do that. If he wants to line up today with ten men and his imaginary friend Cecil at left-back, that’s fine.

3.22pm GMT

Leicester (4-4-2) Schmeichel; Simpson, Morgan, Huth, Fuchs; Mahrez, Drinkwater, Ndidi, Musa; Vardy, Okazaki.
Substitutes: Zieler, Chilwell, Benalouane, King, Albrighton, Gray, Kapustka.

Manchester United (4-2-3-1) De Gea; Valencia, Bailly, Smalling, Rojo; Herrera, Pogba; Mkhitaryan, Mata, Rashford; Ibrahimovic.
Substitutes: Romero, Blind, Lingard, Fellaini, Young, Carrick, Martial.

10.28am GMT

Rob will be here shortly. In the meantime, why not have a read of Daniel Taylor’s column on Leicester’s case of Cityitis?

How, after all, do you make sense of a team who stayed up after six months in the relegation zone two seasons ago, won the league by 10 points the following year and now find themselves back in the quicksands?

Who could have possibly imagined, even in the absurd world of football, that Claudio Ranieri could be named as Fifa’s world coach of the year, with all that talk of another statue being commissioned to go with the ones in Leicester’s city centre honouring Gandhi, Richard III and Thomas Cook, and that within a few weeks he would be the bookmakers’ favourite as the next manager to be sent to the guillotine?

Related: Leicester are showing all the symptoms of Cityitis | Daniel Taylor

Continue reading…

Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/football/live/2017/feb/05/premier-league-leicester-city-v-manchester-united-live

Feb 04

Tottenham Hotspur 1-0 Middlesbrough: Premier League – as it happened

Harry Kane’s penalty saw off Middlesbrough and moved Spurs to within nine points of Chelsea

7.21pm GMT

Peep peep! Spurs have kept the title race alive, just about, with a win that was more comfortable than the scoreline suggests. Boro defended very well but had nothing to offer going forward until injury time. Thanks for your company, night.

Related: Harry Kane penalty allows Tottenham to unpick Middlesbrough’s lock

7.20pm GMT

90+3 min Janssen replaces Kane.

7.20pm GMT

90+2 min What a chance for De Roon! He scored a late equaliser at Manchester City and he should have done it here. Fabio lumped a long ball that was flicked on Bamford to Negredo on the edge of the box. He lobbed it gently over the top of the defence for De Roon, who panicked and dragged a miserable volley wide of the near post. He should have scored.

7.18pm GMT

90 min There will be three minutes of added time.

7.17pm GMT

89 min A nervous moment for Spurs. Fabio stands up a cross towards Negredo that forces an unconvincing flap from Lloris. The ball comes to Bamford, whose cross deflects behind for a corner. That comes to nothing.

7.15pm GMT

88 min Another Spurs substitution: Hemel Hempstead’s Harry Winks comes on for the sparkling Dele Alli.

7.13pm GMT

85 min Fabio stands up a cross to Negredo, whose spectacular long-range scissor kick curls a few yards wide. Lloris had it covered.

7.12pm GMT

84 min Alli’s low cross towards Kane is brilliantly intercepted by the stretching Bernardo. The ball deflects to Eriksen, whose vicious follow-up shot hits Fabio and flies wide.

7.11pm GMT

83 min A loose ball breaks to Kane in the box, but he can’t force his way past, er, Dele Alli, who unwittingly got in his way. Spurs should be 2-0 or 3-0 ahead here.

7.08pm GMT

81 min Son, who has had an excellent game, is replaced by Moussa Sissoko.

7.07pm GMT

80 min Boro’s final substitution: Patrick Bamford replaces the fading Traore.

7.07pm GMT

79 min Spurs break three on two. Kane overhits his pass to Alli, who retrieves it eventually and tries to find Eriksen. He can’t control a sharp pass on the run and it runs out of play.

7.06pm GMT

75 min The game is going nowhere at the moment. Boro look shattered.

6.59pm GMT

72 min Spurs are passing time, with Middlesbrough unable to do much about it. At the moment there is no suggestion of a late sting, though you never quite know with Spurs.

6.56pm GMT

69 min If it stays like this Spurs will go nine points behind Chelsea and three ahead of Arsenal in third.

6.55pm GMT

68 min Guedioura shoots from 30 yards. Nah.

6.54pm GMT

67 min Spurs break through Alli and Son, who again beats Bernardo with a stepover before lacing a shot wide of the near post from a tight angle.

6.49pm GMT

62 min Now they are a goal down Middlesbrough have no option but to go to plan B, codename: crossing the halfway line. Downing and Forshaw are replaced by Guedioura and Stuani.

6.48pm GMT

60 min “No match featuring the current Spurs side can be an absolute stinker,” says Phil Podolsky. “They are too easy on the eye and just plain nice.”

Indeed. They are so neat and precise in possession, yet also intrepid and innocent. They’re a neutral’s delight.

6.47pm GMT

59 min Valdes makes an excellent save from Eriksen after an electric counter-attack. Son and Kane worked the ball infield to Eriksen, who made a good run from right to centre but then hit his left-footed shot a bit too close to Valdes. It was still a terrific save though.

6.46pm GMT

That should relax Spurs. The penalty came after a lovely dragback by Son on the left of the box. Bernardo swept his legs away and it was an easy decision for Mark Clattenburg.

6.45pm GMT

Kane scores, sidefooting the ball low to the right. Valdes went the wrong way.

6.44pm GMT

Great feet from Son, who has his legs taken by Bernardo. A clear penalty.

6.43pm GMT

56 min Wanyama tries to something happen, haring into the box onto a return pass from Alli and winning a corner. Eriksen’s outswinger is headed clear.

6.42pm GMT

55 min The usually precise Alderweireld mishits a pass straight out of play and slams the ground with his fist.

6.41pm GMT

53 min Middlesbrough win a corner during a rare meander downfield. Spurs are starting to show their frustration with a few impatient challenges.

6.39pm GMT

51 min Son runs across the line of the box and then lets Eriksen taken over with a fierce first-time shot towards the near post. Valdes gets down smartly to his left to push it wide.

6.36pm GMT

49 min Spurs have made a slight switch, with Eriksen moving to the left and Son to the right. The pattern of play is exactly the same as in the first half.

6.33pm GMT

47 min “I hope this game is an absolute stinker,” chirps Matt Dony, “as I’m not planning on watching Match of the Day tonight. In fact, I refuse to acknowledge that any football has taken place this afternoon. There’s something about Middlesbrough this season. Something Worst-Aspects-Of-90’s-Italian-Football-Boring about them. I grew up playing centre half, and I still get excited about a solid defence (heck, I even enjoyed the 2003 Champions League final!) but even I struggle to warm to this Boro side.”

You’d have loved the 1984-85 Como side. That will always be my fantasy season ticket.

6.32pm GMT

46 min Boro begin the second half, kicking from right to left.

6.27pm GMT

“I am out here in Texas, thinking about lunch options at the break,” says Randy Denton. “A goal is coming along with a sandwich, I am sure.”

It’s a so-called sandwich if you ask me.

6.24pm GMT

“The email silence has three reasons: the title race is done and dusted, the Manu fans are waiting until tomorrow, and we Liverpool supporters are considering new careers as hardened alcoholics,” says Hubert O’Hearn. “Spurs fans are probably watching the match”

6.17pm GMT

An increasingly frustrating half for Spurs, who missed three good chances and were denied by some excellent Middlesbrough defending. If Spurs aren’t careful, this will turn into yet another of those costly draws. See you in 10 minutes for the second half.

6.14pm GMT

44 min Eriksen’s outswinging corner is headed on by Alderweireld and loops gently into the loving embrace of Valdes.

6.11pm GMT

42 min Kane has a goal disallowed for offside! He converted Son’s low cross from a few yards out but was clearly ahead of the last defender.

6.10pm GMT

40 min “Out here,” says Mark Turner. “A match that allows a sofa snooze.”

I was thinking of stealing a few winks myself.

6.09pm GMT

39 min Son, on the left of the box, beats Chambers with a stepover only to splatter well wide at the near post. Boro will be increasingly happy with the way this half has gone.

6.08pm GMT

38 min De Roon is booked for a pull on Alli.

6.08pm GMT

38 min Anyone out there?

6.07pm GMT

37 min Alli lures Clayton in, scoots past him and is fouled. Lovely skill and a free-kick to Spurs just outside the box on the left wing. Eriksen’s ball in is headed clear by Chambers. Attack and defence, invasion and repulsion…

6.05pm GMT

35 min Oh, Harold. That was a great chance for Kane to give Spurs the lead. They zig-zagged smoothly down the left through Davies, Alli and finally Son, who curled a brilliant first-time cross towards Kane. He lost his defender excellently but couldn’t get over the ball and headed over the bar from 10 yards.

6.02pm GMT

32 min Spurs move the ball patiently from left to right and then back to the left, where Son wins a corner. Eriksen’s corner is punched away by Valdes.

6.00pm GMT

28 min For all Spurs’ bright-and-breezy possession, Valdes has only had one significant save to make. Boro are exceptionally good defensively for a team in a relegation battle.

5.56pm GMT

25 min Alderweireld hits the post! Eriksen coaxed a dipping left-wing corner towards him and he flicked a header off the outside of the near post. Valdes was beaten and there was nobody on the post for Boro.

5.54pm GMT

23 min This is a relatively comfortable spell for Boro, with five uneventful minutes drifting by before you can say “You’d better write something, dimwit, this is supposed to be a minute-by-minute report.”

5.48pm GMT

19 min Spurs have had 74 per cent of the possession so far.

5.47pm GMT

16 min Spurs play such neat football, with the attacking three of Son, Alli and Eriksen full of ideas. Alli’s flick frees Walker, whose brilliant near-post cross doesn’t reach Kane because of some muscular defending by Bernardo.

5.45pm GMT

14 min Traore wins a free-kick on the counter. All Boro’s attacks are going through him. He is an enormously exciting prospect who is so quick when he runs with the ball.

5.42pm GMT

9 min Eriksen on the right plays a forensic pass to put Alli through on goal. Alli had to take the shot first time and clipped it into the side netting. Was he onside? It doesn’t matter. It was a beautiful pass from Eriksen; one gentle wave of his left foot took five defenders out of the game. Meanwhile, replays show that Victor Valdes twice put hands in the face of Alli off the ball. He might get a retrospective three-match ban for that.

5.37pm GMT

6 min Alderweireld plays a fine pass to free Davies down the left, and his early low cross just evades Kane in the six-yard box.

5.36pm GMT

5 min Alli wins the ball near the halfway line, strides forward elegantly and plays a lovely angled through pass for Son. He moves into the area and drives a low left-foot shot that is excellently saved by Valdes, plunging to his left.

5.35pm GMT

4 min The first chance falls to Boro. The lively Traore, who isn’t known for his end product, runs at Davies and curls a superb cross towards the far post. Negredo leaps but plants a header over the bar from eight yards. He should have done better.

5.33pm GMT

3 min This so-called football match has started as we expected, with Spurs doing all the attacking.

5.30pm GMT

1 min Spurs, in white, kick off from right to left. Boro are in their dark blue away kit.

5.27pm GMT

“I think Chelsea have the title in the bag,” says Gustav Björklund, “and while I don’t want to claim to speak for a majority of Spurs fans, I’d wager a lot of us would be happy just to finish above Arsenal, and try for the title again next season, with a reinforced and more experienced version of the squad we have now.”

4.36pm GMT

Tottenham Hotspur (4-2-3-1) Lloris; Walker, Alderweireld, Dier, Davies; Wanyama, Dembele; Eriksen, Alli, Son; Kane.
Substitutes: Vorm, Carter-Vickers, Wimmer, Onomah, Sissoko, Winks, Janssen.

Middlesbrough (4-3-3) Valdes; Chambers, Bernardo, Gibson, Fabio; De Roon, Clayton, Forshaw; Traore, Negredo, Downing.
Substitutes: Guzan, Ayala, Leadbitter, Stuani, Bamford, Gestede, Guedioura.

12.42am GMT

Hello. Since the start of last season, Spurs have been the hardest team to beat in the Premier League. Trouble is they’ve also been the easiest team to draw against. Twenty-one of their 61 league matches have ended level, and that’s the main reason their brilliant young team are likely to start next season still looking for their first Premier League winners’ medal.

They can’t afford many more draws if they are to achieve Mission: Nah, Forget It and catch Chelsea. Most of this season’s draws have come on the road, at least, and their recent home form has verged on the scintillating: nine wins in a row, with 28 goals scored, including a delightful trouncing of West Brom in their Premier League match at White Hart Lane.

Continue reading…

Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/football/live/2017/feb/04/tottenham-hotspur-middlesbrough-premier-league-live

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