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Mauricio Pochettino: Pourquoi l’Argentin pense que Chelsea est le club parfait pour lui

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La chronique BBC Sport de Guillem Balague

Mauricio Pochettino est de retour en Premier League.

L’ancien entraîneur de l’Espanyol, de Southampton, de Tottenham et du Paris St-Germain sera le patron de Chelsea la saison prochaine pour son troisième mandat à la tête d’un club anglais.

Il devient le troisième patron permanent du propriétaire Todd Boehly en 12 mois depuis qu’il a pris le contrôle du club – et sa quatrième nomination, en comptant les entraîneurs par intérim Bruno Saltor et Frank Lampard.

L’Argentin arrive à Stamford Bridge après une saison agitée pour les Blues, qui ont dépensé 600 millions de livres sterling depuis la prise de contrôle.

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Mais quel Pochettino les Blues reçoivent-ils? Et pourquoi le joueur de 51 ans a-t-il décidé qu’il était temps de revenir – dans un club apparemment en désordre – après presque un an d’absence ?

“Il a refusé plusieurs clubs depuis son départ du PSG”

Mauricio Pochettino se dispute avec Cesar Azpilicueta de Chelsea
Mauricio Pochettino a affronté Chelsea 17 fois en tant qu’entraîneur, remportant six matches, en faisant deux nuls et en perdant neuf

Rejoindre Chelsea n’est pas une décision que Pochettino a prise à la légère; il a refusé un certain nombre de prétendants potentiels depuis son départ du PSG en juillet 2022.

Il y avait une chance qu’il aurait pu les rejoindre en septembre dernier lorsque Thomas Tuchel est parti mais, à ce moment-là, Chelsea avait plus ou moins décidé de faire venir Graham Potter et l’approche faite à Pochettino par Chelsea semblait au mieux tiède.

Il y a d’autres facteurs pour lesquels l’opportunité semble différente cette fois.

À l’époque, les fans de Chelsea manquaient toujours à Tuchel, qui avait remporté la Ligue des champions pour le club moins de trois mois après avoir succédé à Frank Lampard.

Pochettino n’aurait pas non plus reçu autant de contrôle qu’il l’est maintenant. S’il a appris une chose au PSG, c’est que pour réussir, lui et son équipe auraient besoin d’influence dans tout le club, du niveau académique vers le haut.

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Il n’a pas manqué d’offres depuis son départ de Paris, mais aucune n’a coché autant de cases que Chelsea, certainement dans ce deuxième tour de négociations avec le club.

Il était déterminé à s’assurer qu’il faisait le bon choix quant à son prochain employeur – et a d’abord refusé Chelsea de Boehly jusqu’à ce qu’on lui offre plus de contrôle.

Il a reçu des approches de Benfica, Athletic Bilbao, Aston Villa et Nottingham Forest. Séville a également pris contact, tout comme Villarreal, Nice et Leeds United.

Mais après six années consécutives en Ligue des champions, atteignant une finale et une demi-finale, il veut aller dans un club qui, selon lui, défiera les titres.

Il serait certainement allé à Manchester United et leur aurait parlé à quelques reprises avant et après le départ d’Ole Gunnar Solskjaer et était très déçu de ne pas obtenir le feu vert, d’autant plus qu’il avait le soutien de nombreux membres du club, notamment de Sir Alex Ferguson.

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Tout à Chelsea convient. C’est une équipe jeune, une académie florissante associée à un désir des propriétaires de faire passer les jeunes, une philosophie agressive et dynamique avec une pression élevée et beaucoup d’énergie.

Beaucoup, bien sûr, dépendra de qui il peut faire venir, avec un besoin de trouver un attaquant clairement un objectif principal. Si Romelu Lukaku parvient à éviter les blessures, il pourrait bien être une option, bien qu’il devra larguer certains joueurs avant d’envisager des ajouts à l’équipe.

“Pochettino n’a pas le droit d’être Pochettino” – que s’est-il passé au PSG ?

Le 5 juillet 2022, le Paris St-Germain et Pochettino se sont séparés.

C’était un «mariage» précipité, avec seulement cinq jours au cours de la période de Noël entre le contact initial et la signature du contrat en janvier 2021, et la relation se terminant 18 mois plus tard.

Mauricio Pochettino avec Neymar et Lionel Messi
Pochettino a mené le PSG au titre de Ligue 1 2021-22

Trois des quatre titulaires du Parc des Princes avant Pochettino (Carlo Ancelotti, Unai Emery et Thomas Tuchel) ont remporté des trophées européens après avoir quitté le club, il serait donc trop simple d’expliquer leur manque de succès européen sur les managers. .

Il y a intrinsèquement un problème au PSG, un club qui semble voir ses entraîneurs principalement comme des baby-sitters aux énormes talents que leurs innombrables richesses peuvent acquérir.

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Cela allait toujours frustrer quelqu’un comme Pochettino et son équipe, qui se consacrent au développement de nouveaux talents tout en maximisant ce qui est à leur disposition, plutôt que de passer le plus clair de leur temps à essayer de garder les superstars heureuses.

Il veut influencer ses joueurs de manière positive et appliquer un football à rythme élevé et énergique sur le terrain. Cela n’allait jamais être possible à Paris.

Ce sont des choses que vous ne pouvez faire que si vous en avez le pouvoir. Une fois qu’il est devenu clair qu’il n’était là que pour tout garder en équilibre et pour s’assurer que les mégastars restent dans leur zone de confort, ses jours étaient comptés, car ce sont des choses qui n’ont pas grand-chose à voir avec le coaching.

Il a également dû faire face à l’épineux problème d’être le premier entraîneur à avoir Kylian Mbappe, Lionel Messi et Neymar ensemble. La perception était qu’avec trois des plus grands joueurs du monde à sa disposition, ils devraient alors tout gagner – ce n’est jamais aussi simple que ça.

En novembre 2021, après la défaite du PSG contre Manchester City en phase de groupes de la Ligue des champions, Thierry Henry a commenté : “Pochettino n’est pas autorisé à être Pochettino parfois avec cette équipe.”

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Témoin des difficultés du PSG depuis son départ, on peut conclure qu’il a emmené l’équipe aussi loin qu’il le pouvait compte tenu des limites qui lui étaient imposées.

Lors de sa dernière saison, il a reconquis le titre de champion de France et aurait dû remporter une victoire sur Le Real Madrid en huitièmes de finale de la Ligue des champions – Le PSG a été supérieur jusqu’à la fin de la rencontre.

Où en est-il depuis son départ du PSG ?

Mauricio Pochettino s'entretient avec le président de la FIFA, Gianni Infantino
Pochettino a assisté à la victoire du Japon sur l’Espagne lors de la Coupe du monde 2022 avec le président de la Fifa Gianni Infantino

Une saison et demie onéreuse et épuisante au PSG l’a obligé à se ressourcer.

L’énorme plaisir et la satisfaction au travail qu’il a obtenus chez Spurs se sont soldés par de la tristesse, surtout lorsque quatre mois plus tard, le monde a été bloqué, ce qui lui a refusé la possibilité de traiter ce qui lui était arrivé.

Cette fois, il a pu traiter les choses. Il est retourné au Japon, un pays qu’il a visité pour la dernière fois avec l’Argentine pour la Coupe du monde 2002, mais cette fois en tant que touriste avec sa famille.

Il passe une grande partie de son temps à voyager entre Londres et Barcelone. Il n’avait pas vu son fils autant qu’il l’aurait souhaité, notamment parce que lorsqu’il était au PSG, il était impossible de voyager et Maurizio jouait à Watford. Il a maintenant déménagé à Gimnastic Tarragone, dans le troisième niveau espagnol, et Pochettino peut le voir jouer chaque fois qu’il le peut.

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Pendant son séjour à Paris, il y a eu de nombreuses périodes où il n’a pas pu voir sa femme en raison des restrictions de verrouillage. Une grande partie de sa vie s’est déroulée dans le luxe douillet d’un hôtel cinq étoiles.

Cette dernière pause l’a laissé beaucoup plus frais.

Il a suivi de nombreuses masterclasses d’entraîneurs avec son assistant Jesus Perez, qui le rejoindra à Chelsea, tout comme l’entraîneur de l’équipe première Miguel D’Agostino, son fils Sebastiano, scientifique du sport, et l’entraîneur des gardiens Toni Jimenez. Le groupe est des amis inséparables, et tous sauf Sebas ont travaillé ensemble depuis le temps de Pochettino à l’Espanyol.

Il a également passé beaucoup de temps à aider les jeunes entraîneurs à obtenir leur badge d’entraîneur, tout en apprenant de leur approche plus jeune à mesure que le jeu continue d’évoluer.

Que devra-t-il faire pour réussir à Chelsea ?

Mauricio Pochettino célèbre la victoire de Tottenham sur l'Ajax en demi-finale de la Ligue des champions
Pochettino a guidé Tottenham vers sa première finale de Ligue des champions en 2019

Pochettino est conscient que, contrairement à l’Espanyol, Southampton et Tottenham, le PSG a été le premier club où il n’a pas laissé quelque chose de valeur réelle.

Ce que son passage au PSG lui a appris, c’est qu’il doit revenir à son essence, avec toute sa passion et son intensité, pas très différente de la relation qu’il entretenait avec ses joueurs des Spurs.

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Pour cela, il s’est bien penché sur ce qu’il a fait de mal au club français, ce qu’il aurait pu faire mieux et comment il peut éviter de commettre des erreurs similaires à Chelsea.

Il doit avoir l’énergie pour pouvoir façonner les joueurs, savoir que les joueurs l’écoutent et avoir l’autorité pour s’assurer que cela se produit.

Il se rend compte qu’à Chelsea, il doit contrôler au maximum l’agenda, ce qu’il ne pouvait pas faire au PSG.

Pochettino devra également rassembler autour de lui des personnes qui peuvent tout comprendre sur le club, ce qui le fait fonctionner et comment il peut contrôler les choses en dehors du terrain d’entraînement.

Et surtout, il doit faire passer le message que ce ne sera pas une solution miracle et, plus que de grosses sommes d’argent, ce qui est le plus nécessaire, c’est du temps. Un an aidera. Deux ans, estime-t-il, garantiront la redirection et le redressement de ce club massif.

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FA Cup quarter-finals on TV: Man City v Newcastle to be shown live on BBC

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Kevin de Bruyne takes a shot at Newcastle
Kevin de Bruyne scored an equaliser before Oscar Bobb hit a dramatic winner the last time Manchester City played Newcastle in the Premier League

Manchester City’s FA Cup quarter-final tie with Newcastle United will be shown live on BBC One on Saturday, 16 March.

Pep Guardiola’s side, who won the competition last season, welcome the Magpies to Etihad Stadium at 17:30 GMT.

Chelsea’s meeting with Championship leaders Leicester City will be shown live across the BBC on Sunday (12:45).

Manchester United also host Liverpool on Sunday and Wolves face Coventry City on Saturday, with both those ties to be shown on ITV.

Last season’s Treble winners Manchester City have already faced Newcastle three times this season, coming out on top on both occasions in the Premier League, while the Magpies knocked them out of the League Cup in the third round.

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Guardiola’s side thrashed Luton 6-2 to book their place in the quarter-final while Newcastle went through ahead of Blackburn on penalties.

Chelsea beat Leeds 3-2 in a dramatic match to secure their place in the last eight while Leicester scored in extra time to go through ahead of Bournemouth.

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Brian Kerr: Ex-Republic of Ireland boss part of John O’Shea’s coaching team for March games

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Brian Kerr
Kerr took charge of the Republic for 33 games during his two years as manager

Former Republic of Ireland boss Brian Kerr has returned to the international set-up for the March friendlies against Belgium and Switzerland.

O’Shea has also brought in his former Republic team-mate Glenn Whelan as assistant coach.

The Republic host Belgium on 23 March and Switzerland on 26 March.

O’Shea, who won 118 caps for the Republic, was an assistant coach under previous manager Stephen Kenny and, before that, with the Under-21 side.

He will take charge for the two friendlies with the Football Association of Ireland (FAI) confirming Kenny’s permanent replacement will be appointed in “early April”.

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Former Manchester United defender O’Shea will be supported by Crystal Palace assistant coach Paddy McCarthy and Whelan, who won 91 caps for his country.

Rene Gilmartin also steps up from his current role as the Republic’s Under-21 goalkeeper coach to support the senior team alongside analyst Martin Doyle.

Athletic performance coach Damien Doyle and analyst Stephen Rice will continue in their roles for the Belgium and Switzerland games.

Glenn Whelan and John O'Shea
Whelan and O’Shea (right) played together for the Republic for a number of years

“Brian brings with him a wealth of experience we’ll be able to tap into during the camp and his passion for Irish football and the Ireland national team is well known and will be a welcome addition to the group,” O’Shea said of Kerr.

“Glenn was an unbelievable servant for his country during his distinguished playing career and we’ll be delighted to welcome him back into the international fold as a coach, having recently spent time with the Ireland Under-16s during the Victory Shield.

“Rene Gilmartin steps up from the Ireland U21s set-up where he has worked since 2019 and so, crucially, already has a great relationship with our current goalkeeper group.”

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Rangers: Manager Philippe Clement on handball ‘grey zone’

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Rangers recovered from Kilmarnock's penalty opener to win 2-1 at Rugby Park on Wednesday night
Rangers recovered from Kilmarnock’s penalty opener to win 2-1 at Rugby Park on Wednesday night

Rangers boss Philippe Clement has described the uncertainty over handball rules as the “grey zone” and would like clearer regulations to help officials.

John Lundstram conceded a penalty in Rangers’ midweek Premiership win at Kilmarnock after a cross hit his arm.

And Clement wondered why his side did not get a spot-kick when home defender Lewis Mayo appeared to handle.

“I hope there can be more clarity in the future,” he said. “I know there are decisions made in a grey zone.”

The Ibrox boss continued: “I don’t think for the handball rule it has become easier for referees or the VAR. It has become more difficult with the rule and the way it is decided by Uefa and Fifa.

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“My job is to explain to my players what is handball or not. If they come on to the pitch feeling there is an injustice then we have a problem.

“I don’t say that was the case, but it needs to be really clear what is handball or not. I don’t think it is good for the game if all the players running around with their hands on the back, like you see now.

“It is not good for the game if players run around like penguins.”

Cortes missing with muscle problem

Rangers will be without Oscar Cortes for Saturday’s home game against Motherwell, with Clement unsure how long the Colombia winger will be missing.

The 20-year-old January arrival scored in the 5-0 thrashing of Hearts at Ibrox last weekend but had to come off at Rugby Park.

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“Oscar will be out, I don’t know how long,” said Clement. “We are looking into that with the doctor and specialist. It is a muscle injury, but I cannot say much more at the moment.”

Striker Kemar Roofe and midfielder Ryan Jack return for the Premiership leaders, who are unbeaten in 57 top-flight games against Motherwell.

“I don’t want to speak about a half-empty glass,” added the Belgian.

“I am focused now on the players who are available for this game, because otherwise I would have lost a lot of energy in the last couple of months and that is useless.

“It is a pity for him [Cortes] and the team, but it is an opportunity for another player to show it and to do it, it works like that.”

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Jurgen Klopp: Liverpool boss says his side are not thinking about possibly winning four trophies

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Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp dismisses any early thoughts about his side winning four trophies in his final season in charge.

The Reds, who have already won the Carabao Cup, are top of the Premier League and have reached the quarter-finals of the FA Cup and last 16 of the Europa League.

READ MORE: Liverpool: Jurgen Klopp plays down Luke Littler comparison to young players

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Bruno Fernandes: Fulham boss Marco Silva calls Manchester United captain ‘top professional’

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Bruno Fernandes of Manchester United in action with Sasa Lukic of Fulham
Fernandes was named Manchester United captain in July after Harry Maguire was stripped of the role

Marco Silva says Bruno Fernandes is a “top professional” after Fulham posted a video on TikTok that appeared to mock the Manchester United captain.

The videoexternal-link shows Fernandes going down and clutching his leg before swiftly getting up again during United’s 2-1 defeat by the Cottagers on Saturday.

United boss Erik ten Hag said Fulham “should apologise” for the video.

“Ten Hag defends his player, I can understand that,” Fulham manager Silva said on Friday.

“When a manager defends one football player, I think it’s a normal situation, I think if it’s one of our players I am going to defend him until the last.”

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The 15-second video, which is dubbed with jaunty music, was posted on Fulham’s official TikTok account and captioned: “So glad he’s OK.”

The clip shows Fernandes coming into contact with Fulham midfielder Sasa Lukic and going to ground.

As play continues without a free-kick being awarded, the 29-year-old Portugal midfielder can then be seen quickly getting to his feet and demanding the ball.

“It is not right. Totally out of order and wrong. They should apologise for this,” said Ten Hag in a news conference on Thursday.

Fernandes, who has made 149 Premier League appearances for United since joining from Sporting Lisbon in 2020, was named the club’s captain in July.

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Silva said: “He is the captain of Man United, he is a player I know really well and he is a top player, he is a top professional.

“You are not a Man United captain if you don’t have all the package to be in the same box to be a Man United captain and to be so important.”

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Football Focus: Chelsea’s Cole Palmer on moving to London, Mauricio Pochettino and ambitions

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Chelsea’s Cole Palmer sits down with Jordan Mainoo-Hames to discuss London life, learning under Mauricio Pochettino and his aims for this season.

Watch Football Focus on 2 March at 12:00 GMT on BBC iPlayer and BBC One, the BBC Sport website and app

Get all the latest Chelsea news and views

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il lui répond et se rend avec sa mère

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La tension monte entre Kylian Mbappé et Luis Enrique au PSG. L’attaquant français a été remplacé à la mi-temps du match contre Monaco vendredi, alors que le score était de 0-0. C’est la deuxième fois consécutive que Mbappé est remplacé avant la fin du match.

La décision d’Enrique a surpris et mécontenté Mbappé. Il est resté dans les vestiaires à la mi-temps et n’est pas revenu sur le terrain en deuxième mi-temps.

Mbappé a ensuite été aperçu en train de monter dans les tribunes pour rejoindre sa mère. Il semblait détendu et souriant, et a même pris des photos avec des fans.

La décision d’Enrique a été interprétée comme une punition pour le refus de Mbappé de prolonger son contrat avec le PSG. L’attaquant français est en fin de contrat et rejoindra le Real Madrid cet été.

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Certains observateurs ont critiqué la décision d’Enrique, la jugeant injuste et nuisible à l’équipe. D’autres ont soutenu l’entraîneur, affirmant qu’il avait le droit de prendre ses propres décisions.

Quoi qu’il en soit, il est clair que la situation entre Mbappé et le PSG est devenue intenable. L’attaquant français a hâte de rejoindre le Real Madrid cet été, où il pourra enfin jouer sans pression.

Il est difficile de dire quelle sera la suite de l’histoire. Il est possible que Mbappé soit de nouveau mis sur le banc lors des prochains matchs du PSG. Il est également possible qu’il soit titularisé, mais qu’il soit remplacé avant la fin du match.

Une chose est sûre : la situation entre Mbappé et le PSG est loin d’être idéale. L’attaquant français a hâte de quitter le club et de rejoindre le Real Madrid cet été.

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Women’s Super League news conferences: The key lines from all 12 managers

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Alessia Russo and Grace Clinton promote the Women's Super League fixture between Arsenal and Tottenham on Sunday 3 March live on BBC Two from 12:15 GMT. The other WSL games broadcast live are: Man City v Everton, Saturday 2 March, 12:00 on Sky, Aston Villa v Liverpool and Bristol City v Brighton, both 14:00 and on FA Player, plus Leicester City v Chelsea at 18:00 on Sky
BBC Two’s coverage of Arsenal v Tottenham starts at 12:15 on Sunday, with kick-off at 12:30. All times are GMT

The Women’s Super league is back after the international break – and there are big games on the horizon, including a north London derby.

Arsenal host Tottenham at 12:30 GMT on Sunday live on BBC Two, there is an important tie at the bottom as Brighton face Bristol City, while Chelsea and Manchester City continue their battle for the title.

Who is fit to play for your team? Who has picked up an injury over the break? What are the managers’ thoughts before the weekend’s action?

BBC Sport takes a look at what you need to know with the key lines from each club’s pre-match news conference.

Arsenal

Jonas Eidevall confirmed Vivianne Miedema is out for “several weeks” after knee surgery and Amanda Ilestedt is not back to fitness, but had positive news on Leah Williamson and Victoria Pelova: “Leah’s progressing really well. Because it’s a muscle injury we need to be cautious and take every step good but she’s progressing and she’s very much in contention for Sunday.

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“It’s better news with Pelova as she’s very much in the same situation as Williamson where she’s progressing really well and is very much in contention for Sunday.”

On pulling in big crowds at Emirates Stadium: “It’s great. It very much shows that it’s not a one-off. It’s less than 12 months ago since we sold out the stadium for the first time against Wolfsburg in the Champions League semi-final. Everyone felt what a huge achievement it was.

“We’re not only searching for the highest, we’re searching for consistency, we’re searching for sustainability, we’re searching for creating a culture at the Emirates week-in, week-out, now we all need to play our part in that to deliver a performance that matches the support we get from the fans.”

Aston Villa

Carla Ward said there are no fresh injury concerns: “Rachel Daly and Adriana Leon are suspended. Miri [Taylor] is ineligible against her parent club. Lucy Staniforth and Lucy Parker are unavailable against their parent club, but apart from that we’re doing okay.”

On how important three points would be: “Huge, absolutely huge. No-one gave us a chance after five games. All of a sudden we’re in touching distance. But we’re also just a couple of defeats away from being in the mix at the bottom. Our feet are firmly on the ground, we know where we want to get to.

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“The group are hungry, they’re hungry to silence still some of the noise so they want to continue to kick on. The group want top six, that’s what we’re going to go after. Three points this weekend would massively put us in a good position.”

On the threat Liverpool bring: “Matt Beard has got them playing some of the best football they have in a long time. They’re resolute, organised. The job he has done has been outstanding. Liverpool are where they are because they have a lot of quality and they deserve to be where they are so it’s going to be a tough afternoon for sure.”

Brighton

Mikey Harris said that he should have a full-strength squad to select from on Sunday: “Everyone seems to be okay. There are a couple of knocks and niggles but I’m hoping it’s not going to be anything that affects our squad on Sunday. Really hopeful we’ll be full strength.”

On whether he will remain as interim manager for the rest of the campaign: “Not confirmed, but I’m prepared to be here until the end of the season. Certainly in my mind I’m planning in that way because you have to. From my perspective, it’s not confirmed but I’m planning as if I’m here until the end.”

On whether Sunday’s game could be season-defining: “I wouldn’t see it as a season-defining game. We’ve got eight games left in the league and a lot of points to play for. There’s a lot of points to play for and from my perspective we’re looking to finish the season as high as we possibly can and I’m hoping a positive performance and a positive result will contribute to that on Sunday.”

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Mikey Harris
Mikey Harris was named Brighton’s interim boss after the sacking of Melissa Phillips

Bristol City

Lauren Smith said there is no update in terms of injuries: “Nothing has changed in terms of Abi Harrison’s injury return. It’s the same for Chloe Mustaki, Rachel Furness and Satara Murray.”

On whether Sunday’s match is must-win: “I feel like they have all been must-win games since Christmas really and we haven’t got to that point. We had a lot of pressure put on ourselves in the last couple of games. The Leicester game in particular felt like a pretty hefty loss because of the type of game it was and some of the errors we made. A break sometimes feels good. Hopefully everyone has had a chance to reflect a bit and we can then push forward.”

On Naomi Layzell’s successful week with England: “It’s so good for her. Having seen her journey over the last few years, building confidence and to then get a reward like that, I think is unbelievable. I’m extremely proud of her attitude. She deserves it. When we found out, the whole staffroom were cheering because we’re so pleased for her. I hope that brings her back with a huge drive to make sure it’s not just a one-off but that the next time there’s an opportunity, she slides into that team as well.”

Chelsea

Emma Hayes on how Chelsea can bounce back from their defeat by Manchester City before the international break: “Everybody gets beat. I accept those things. As always it’s about the learnings you take from them. Whatever it took for us to win [the title] last year, it certainly has to be more than that this year. Everyone’s back in. I’m not one to stew over anything. Life’s too short.

Lauren James is suspended, while Fran Kirby still has a chance at featuring on Sunday after returning home from England’s warm-weather training camp: “She might be available Sunday. She wasn’t on pitch today so it’s right for me to say that but she could very well be available for selection Sunday.”

On what Chelsea can expect from Willie Kirk’s side: “Leicester have proved they are a difficult team to beat. Man City took about 80 minutes to score against them at home a few weeks ago. This is not an easy Leicester side. They are going to feel aggrieved with the goals we’ve scored against them up there over the years. I expect nothing but an aggressive performance from Leicester, I expect nothing but a really tight game. It’s about winning the game, I’m not focused on goal difference.”

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Emma Hayes
Emma Hayes has guided Chelsea to the WSL title in each of the past four seasons

Everton

Brian Soresen said his side avoided injuries in the international break: “For the first time this season it looks like we got through an international break without any injuries so that’s very pleasing. We still have a lot of outs, Karoline [Olesen], Sara [Holmgaard], [Katrine] Veje, Emily [Ramsey], Karen [Holmgaard]. They’re still going to be out for some weeks, I think the first one coming back is probably Veje. Toni [Duggan] has been sick for a week but has been back training this week so she should also be available for the game.”

On Karoline Olesen’s injury: “She got a lot of stiches. She’s just taking it easy now and making sure that her wound is healing properly. It’s a little longer than we expected in the beginning where it was only three weeks but it’s going good nice and slowly.”

On “looking forward” to playing Manchester City: “We love these games. I love playing against City and Chelsea and those type of opponents because it sounds weird but there’s more space because they’re pressing us and they’re going at us. I’m really looking forward to it, it’s going to be the fifth time we play City this season. They’re massive favourites as they should be. We’ll go out there and do our bit.”

Leicester

Willie Kirk revealed that Leicester have suffered multiple injury blows over the break: “It’s not been a great international window for us. Missy Goodwin and Shannon O’Brien both came back injured which is far from ideal, both ankle injuries. On a plus side Lena Petermann is back available providing everything goes well in the final training session.

“Not linked to the international window, but Janina Leitzig is going to be out for an extended period of time with a shoulder injury, so that’s a blow for her and for us. Lize Kop has already proven that she’s a top goalkeeper.”

On the break impacting momentum: “We finished before the international break with back-to-back wins and 11 goals. It was a shame the break came when it did because we were in a rich vein of form, we have been since the turn of the year.

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“It kills your momentum a little bit but it’s up to us to try and pick that momentum up as quickly as possible and what better way to do it than against Chelsea.”

Liverpool

Matt Beard confirmed Shanice van de Sanden is ruled out through injury: “Unfortunately, Shanice has picked up a bit of an ankle problem while away on international duty, so she won’t be in the squad.”

Taylor Hinds’ calf injury is likely to keep her out for longer than first thought: “Taylor’s been a miss. Her character is fantastic. She is probably four weeks away from playing. She had a bit of a set back this week so it’s probably more eight than six weeks [total] we’re looking at now. It’s a blow because she’s been ever-present for me since the Championship. We’ve got cover in that position but Taylor definitely is a miss.”

On whether fourth place is a realistic target: “We’re in and around it right now. We said at the start of the year it’s about progress and making sure we improve on what we produced last year. We are in a good position on that front. We will do as much as we can to finish as high up the league table as we can.”

Manchester City

Gareth Taylor on winning the manager of the month award after an impressive February: “It’s really pleasing. When you look back at those games we can still improve in a lot of areas. That’s a good thing and it’s healthy that players want to get better. Of course, when you look at the run we’ve been on, 11 wins five clean sheets, it’s been an impressive effort by the team.”

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He said the squad are in a good place and feeling positive: “There’s a good feeling among the team at the moment. Confidence is high and for us it’s about concentrating on tomorrow’s game then after that it’s about recovering onto the next.”

On playing two games in five days after the international break: “The turnaround is tight, particularly when you have to travel. Two game weeks is exciting. The players who are not starting need to be ready and they have been. The contributions have been really good.”

Gareth Taylor
Gareth Taylor was named WSL manager of the month for February

Manchester United

Marc Skinner said no players are set to return from injury in time for Sunday’s game: “It’s likely that Jayde Riviere will miss the weekend. It’s probably too soon for her, just while she’s settling down a contusion.

“Some positive news is that Emma Watson is back on the field so that’s a positive. Hinata [Miyazawa] is back on for her second session today as well. We’re a few weeks away yet from the others getting back on the field but it’s really positive to have them around again.”

On Lucia Garcia’s future: “Talks are continuing on that. The conversations are off-field, my focus is all the on-field stuff. I know that talks are continuing, she remains a really important player for us, she’s really kicked into her own this year which I’ve been really pleased with.”

On Manchester United co-owner Sir Jim Ratcliffe’s investment: “We’ve not managed to meet yet, I know it’s on the horizon very soon. We have a constant feed through our bosses anyway in terms of how we want to go forward. I see it as a really positive move, I am all-in so with my energy coupled with the fantastic INEOS movement I think it’s a real positive movement. We have to capitalise on that, we’ll put all our behaviours in place for that. It’s hopefully a springboard for everybody to find the success that everybody wants at Manchester United.”

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Tottenham

Robert Vilahamn said that Ashleigh Neville and Drew Spence are in contention for the game against Arsenal: “They are back training and there’s a big chance they will be back in the squad on Sunday so that’s very good news.”

On having won the last north London derby: “I think that was proof that we are taking steps. To beat them again would be really nice and show the world that we are taking even more steps. But then also it’s going to be a really tough game.”

On Grace Clinton scoring on her England debut during the international break: “I think her journey has been amazing. We saw a glimpse of it in the first weeks when she was here and I think every week we are seeing more and more stuff that makes it clear that she is going to be a very good player. She’s already playing for the Lionesses and can score goals, win free-kicks, win second balls, she can do stuff. I’m very pleased with that. We’re very happy to have her here right now.”

West Ham

Rehanne Skinner said that there are no fresh injury concerns for her side: “We’re still without Abbey-Leigh Stringer, other than that everybody is in a great place.”

On the defeat by Everton in their last game: “We want to try and make sure that we are better this weekend. Ultimately, there were still some things that went well within the game when we reflected on it. Another game, another opportunity to try and work to get some points.”

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On Manchester United’s form: “Every weekend they’re putting everything into it to try and get results – sometimes it goes in your favour and sometimes it doesn’t. Ultimately they want to be the highest they can in the division as we all do so I’ve got no doubt that that will be their remit, to try and get points out of the game to try and put them back on the route they want to be on in terms of Champions League and whatever. All we can really focus on is what we can try and get out of the game.”

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Lazio 0-1 AC Milan: Hosts have three players sent off in Serie A match

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Matteo Guendouzi
Lazio’s Matteo Guendouzi was shown a red card, with AC Milan’s Christian Pulisic booked, for an incident at the end

Lazio had three players sent off as they lost to AC Milan in Serie A.

Luca Pellegrini was the first to see red after fouling Christian Pulisic to earn a second booking.

Noah Okafor hit an 88th-minute winner for AC Milan from 16 yards after a double save from keeper Ivan Provedel.

Lazio had two players shown straight red cards in added time, with Adam Marusic dismissed for an angry reaction to the referee and Matteo Guendouzi for shoving over Pulisic.

Guendouzi was fouled by former Chelsea forward Pulisic and knocked the American to the ground in frustration to leave the hosts with eight men for the final seconds.

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Six Milan players were booked and three other Lazio players were shown yellow cards in a fiery encounter.

AC Milan are third in the table, 13 points behind leaders Inter Milan, while Lazio – who face Bayern Munich in the Champions League on Tuesday – down in ninth.

Line-ups

Lazio

Formation 4-3-3

  • 94Provedel
  • 77MarusicBooked at 90mins
  • 34Gila
  • 13RomagnoliBooked at 58mins
  • 3PellegriniBooked at 57mins
  • 8GuendouziBooked at 90mins
  • 5VecinoSubstituted forCataldiat 78′minutes
  • 10Romero AlconchelSubstituted forHysajat 60′minutesBooked at 90mins
  • 7Felipe Anderson
  • 19CastellanosSubstituted forImmobileat 60′minutesBooked at 76mins
  • 20ZaccagniSubstituted forIsaksenat 66′minutes

Substitutes

  • 6Kamada
  • 9Pedro
  • 15Casale
  • 17Immobile
  • 18Isaksen
  • 23Hysaj
  • 28Pomilio Lima da Silva Costa
  • 29Lazzari
  • 32Cataldi
  • 35Mandas
  • 46Ruggeri
  • 59Renzetti

AC Milan

Formation 4-2-3-1

  • 16Maignan
  • 42FlorenziBooked at 61minsSubstituted forCalabriaat 64′minutes
  • 24KjærSubstituted forTomoriat 81′minutes
  • 46GabbiaBooked at 80minsSubstituted forThiawat 81′minutes
  • 19HernándezBooked at 84mins
  • 4BennacerSubstituted forReijndersat 64′minutes
  • 7AdliBooked at 70minsSubstituted forOkaforat 71′minutes
  • 11PulisicBooked at 90mins
  • 8Loftus-Cheek
  • 10Rafael LeãoBooked at 90mins
  • 9Giroud

Substitutes

  • 2Calabria
  • 14Reijnders
  • 17Okafor
  • 20Kalulu
  • 21Chukwueze
  • 23Tomori
  • 28Thiaw
  • 38Terracciano
  • 57Sportiello
  • 74Jiménez
  • 80Musah
  • 83Mirante

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Saturday’s gossip: Jorginho, Potter, De Zerbi, Kompany, Martinez, Luiz, Brown, Ramsdale

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Jorginho gossip graphic

Arsenal and Italy midfielder Jorginho, 32, is attracting interest from Juventus, Lazio and Napoli as he enters the final few months of his contract. (Standard)external-link

Manchester United’s incoming sporting director Dan Ashworth has met with ex-Chelsea and Brighton boss Graham Potter as pressure grows on manager Erik ten Hag. (Sun)external-link

Liverpool will target Brighton manager Roberto de Zerbi should they fail to appoint Bayer Leverkusen boss Xabi Alonso as a replacement for the departing Jurgen Klopp. (Guardian)external-link

Burnley are expected to keep Vincent Kompany as manager even if the club are relegated from the Premier League this season. (Football Insider)external-link

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Barcelona have approached Portugal boss Roberto Martinez about succeeding Xavi as manager of the Spanish club at the end of the season. (Football Transfers)external-link

Aston Villa may have to sell players this summer to avoid breaching Premier League profit and sustainability rules, with Newcastle interested in 22-year-old English midfielder Jacob Ramsey and Arsenal keen on Brazil midfielder Douglas Luiz, 25. (Mail)external-link

Chelsea, West Ham, Juventus, AC Milan, Nice and Lyon are interested in Gent’s 21-year-old English left-back Archie Brown. (Standard)external-link

AC Milan are monitoring Arsenal and England goalkeeper Aaron Ramsdale, 25, as a potential replacement for 28-year-old France goalkeeper Mike Maignan. (Ekrem Konur)external-link

Zinedine Zidane has no interest in managing in England so is highly unlikely to accept any offer from Manchester United should they opt to replace Ten Hag. (The i)external-link

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Liverpool are confident Scotland left-back Andy Robertson, 29, will stay at the club beyond this summer despite interest from Bayern Munich. (Football Insider)external-link

Fulham, Everton and Southampton are keeping tabs on Coventry City’s 25-year-old English attacking midfielder Callum O’Hare. (Sun)external-link

Scouts from Tottenham and Borussia Dortmund have been watching Cercle Brugge and Togo striker Kevin Denkey, 23. (Foot Mercato – in French)external-link

Aston Villa are considering making 28-year-old France defender Clement Lenglet’s loan deal from Barcelona permanent. (Mundo Deportivo – in Spanish)external-link

Chelsea are set to recruit specialist set-piece coaches despite manager Mauricio Pochettino dismissing the idea only a month ago. (Telegraph – subscription required)external-link

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