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Premier League predictions: Chris Sutton v CBeebies presenter and Robin Hood star Rhys Stephenson



Sutton's Predictions

Aston Villa have won their past 13 Premier League home games, but will they make it 14 in a row against defending champions Manchester City on Wednesday?

BBC Sport football expert Chris Sutton said: “Villa just seem to be a different proposition at home, but I think you write City off at your peril.

“They were sloppy defensively against Tottenham on Sunday, but they are still extremely dangerous when they attack.”

Sutton is making predictions for all 380 Premier League matches again this season, against a variety of guests.


For this week’s midweek games, he takes on CBeebies presenter Rhys Stephenson, who supports Arsenal.

You can see Rhys on the big screen in the new CBeebies Christmas Panto, Robin Hood, which is in UK cinemas now and features your favourite CBeebies stars.

CBeebies Robin Hood
Stephenson plays Robin Hood in the CBeebies Christmas show. It was filmed live at Venue Cymru in Llandudno, north Wales, and includes original extra scenes and fun added in too just for cinema audiences

Stephenson grew up supporting Arsenal but it would have been a different story if he had followed in his father’s footsteps.

He told BBC Sport: “I was indoctrinated as a kid. My friends told me I supported Arsenal and I just took it with me for the rest of my life.

“My dad is actually Chelsea fan but ne never pushed on me who I should support so my friends got there first. I came home one day and told him I was an Arsenal fan now, and have been ever since.

“Now I live in Salford and I am used to being asked who I support. I’ve learned to say ‘I’m a Red… but the wrong kind of Red’… and they usually say something along the lines of ‘well, as long as you’re not a City fan, that’s fine.


“We’re doing well at the moment but I think the end of last season, when we played City and things went wrong after that, showed why we shouldn’t get carried away just yet.

“It’s great to be top of the table but I think the attitude of most Arsenal fans is very British in that we won’t get excited about anything until it is over. It’s a case of so far, so good… but I am just going to wait to see how things work out.”

CBeebies Robin Hood
The Cbeebies show sees Robin Hood and his Merry Band protect Sherwood Forest and its animal inhabitants from the Sheriff of Nottingham, who has a very naughty plan to destroy the wood of its riches for her own benefit

Chris Sutton and Rhys Stephenson were speaking to BBC Sport’s Chris Bevan.

When? Result Sutton Rhys
Wolves v Burnley x-x 2-0 1-0
Luton v Arsenal x-x 0-2 1-3
Brighton v Brentford x-x 2-2 2-1
Crystal Palace v Bournemouth x-x 1-0 1-1
Fulham v Nott’m Forest x-x 1-1 1-0
Sheff Utd v Liverpool x-x 0-3 0-3
Aston Villa v Man City x-x 1-2 2-2
Man Utd v Chelsea x-x 1-2 3-4
Everton v Newcastle x-x 1-2 0-2
Tottenham v West Ham x-x 3-2 0-1

A correct result (picking a win, draw or defeat) is worth 10 points. The exact score earns 40 points.



Wolves v Burnley

Wolves v Burnley (19:30)

Burnley will be full of confidence after their brilliant – and much-needed – win over relegation rivals Sheffield United.

They will be looking to bring Wolves into the battle at the bottom too, but Gary O’Neil’s side still have some breathing space over the drop zone despite three defeats in their past four games.


I also think Wolves will be too streetwise for the Clarets, especially at Molineux, which is why I am going for a home win.

Sutton’s prediction: 2-0

Rhys’ prediction: 1-0

Luton v Arsenal

Luton v Arsenal (20:15)

Arsenal have been much more pragmatic so far than they were last season and have not hit the same heights with their attacking play, but it is working for them.

We know how spirited Luton are at home but the way Mikel Arteta’s side are playing at the moment, I just expect them to find a way to win.

Historically, the Gunners used to struggle at Kenilworth Road when Luton were in the top-flight in the late 1980s and early 1990s, and they have not won there since January 1984, but that long wait for a victory should soon be over.

Sutton’s prediction: 0-2

Rhys’ prediction: Of course I am going to back my team here… but Luton might be in the game for a little while though, so it’s not going to be easy for us. 1-3



Brighton v Brentford

Brighton v Brentford (19:30)

Brighton have only won won of their eight league matches and Sunday’s defeat by Chelsea must have been very frustrating after the Blues went down to 10 men just before half-time.

This could be another awkward game for the Seagulls too. Brentford took four points from Brighton last season and I can see them making life difficult for Roberto de Zerbi’s team again.

The Bees will sit in and counter-attack well, and I can see them getting some reward.


Sutton’s prediction: 2-2

Rhys’ prediction: This could be a really good game, because both teams might think they can win it and go for it a bit more. My head says a draw, but my heart says it will be a bit more exciting than that, with Brighton scoring a late winner. 2-1

Crystal Palace v Bournemouth

Crystal Palace v Bournemouth (19:30)

The way Bournemouth have picked up has surprised me a little bit, but they are carrying more of an attacking threat and it is paying off.


I am tempted to say the Cherries can keep their run going with a point at Selhurst Park, but I have a feeling Crystal Palace will end their poor run, and edge what should be a very tight game. I am just not 100% sure why.

Sutton’s prediction: 1-0

Rhys’ prediction: This one feels like a draw to me, which would be a better result for Bournemouth. 1-1

Fulham v Nottingham Forest

Fulham v Nottingham Forest (19:30)

Fulham were unlucky to leave Anfield empty-handed on Sunday after being ahead so late on, and they looked much brighter up front. Maybe they have finally come to terms with Aleksandar Mitrovic’s departure, because they have started to score goals again.

It is three defeats in a row now for Nottingham Forest and the noise around the future of their manager Steve Cooper won’t go away until their results improve, no matter how unfair that seems.

These two teams are next to each other in the bottom half of the table, so you would expect this game to be close and I actually think they will end up sharing the points.

Sutton’s prediction: 1-1

Rhys’ prediction: I am going to give this one to Fulham. It’s a bit like Brighton v Brentford with two teams near each other in the table, but both these sides are closer to the relegation zone so things might be a bit more tense. 1-0


Sheff Utd v Liverpool

Sheff Utd v Liverpool (19:30)

Paul Heckingbottom’s departure as Sheffield United manager appears to be imminent, and it will not exactly be surprising to see him go after their past couple of results against Bournemouth and Burnley.

A new voice always makes the first game after a change of manager really interesting but, whether or not Chris Wilder gets the job, I don’t see it making much difference for the Blades here, because what worries me is how brittle they are at the back.

Liverpool did amazingly well to come back to beat Fulham on Sunday and they are right in the thick of the title race now. This should be a much more straightforward victory for Jurgen Klopp’s side, who have got the firepower to win comfortably.


Sutton’s prediction: 0-3

Rhys’ prediction: Liverpool’s away form isn’t always that convincing but I don’t see them struggling here. 0-3

Aston Villa v Man City

Aston Villa v Manchester City (20:15)

It has been surprising to see Manchester City conceding so many goals recently – they have shipped 10 in their past four games – and I do think Villa will score here, but I’d still back Pep Guardiola’s side to score more.


It’s a blow for City to be without suspended duo Rodri and Jack Grealish, but I am certainly not going to start doubting them.

They might be playing with a bit of anger after feeling wronged by the decision not to let them play an advantage right at the end of Sunday’s draw with Tottenham, even if I do think too much was made out of that incident.

The referee was wrong to stop play, but I think the Spurs defence would have caught Grealish anyway.

Sutton’s prediction: 1-2

Rhys’ prediction: Villa have been awesome at home and I think they will really push City here. 2-2


Man Utd v Chelsea

Manchester United v Chelsea (20:15)

Manchester United were woeful at St James’ Park on Saturday and it looked like some of their players couldn’t be bothered.

Before the game, Manchester United boss Erik ten Hag was saying how Newcastle United had an extra day to prepare after their Champions League game in midweek, which I don’t think was a great message to put out, but he ended up being let down badly by some of his players.

They weren’t prepared to run, while Newcastle ran all over them and should have won by more than 1-0.


I am sure we will see more effort here, in front of their own fans, but I think we have to remember where Manchester United are at – they are seventh, but none of their eight league wins this season have come against sides in the top half of the table.

So, I think this game is definitely winnable for Chelsea, even though they remain very inconsistent. They looked a bit better organised in their win over Brighton and I can see them causing Ten Hag’s problems at the back.

Sutton’s prediction: 1-2

Rhys’ prediction: I am going with some goals here. You can never be too sure whether Chelsea will turn up but I think they will be good in this one – they’ve done pretty well against the bigger sides. 3-4


Everton v Newcastle

Everton v Newcastle (19:30)

This should be a really good game. between two teams who will throw everything at it.

Everton’s home form is not great, but they have total belief in their approach under Sean Dyche and they play like they share the same cause.

But Newcastle’s unity is also great to see – they are all in with Eddie Howe and fully invested in his playing style as well.

I was tempted to go for a draw but with former Everton winger Anthony Gordon going back to Goodison Park, I have a sneaky feeling he might make the difference.


Sutton’s prediction: 1-2

Rhys’ prediction: Everton will be up for this but Newcastle are playing really well. 0-2

Tottenham v West Ham

Tottenham v West Ham (20:15)

This is a tricky game for Spurs because their manager Ange Postecoglou likes going toe to toe with teams and West Ham boss David Moyes just won’t let that happen.


The Hammers beat Brighton in September with only 22% possession and they would obviously be very happy to try for a repeat of that here. They will defend very deep, and look to spring forward.

There will come a time when Spurs blow away a team or two with the way that they play, but I am not convinced that will happen here. I do think they will beat West Ham, but I don’t think it will be a straightforward victory.

Sutton’s prediction: 3-2

Rhys’ prediction: I just have a feeling that West Ham can do this. Their defence can keep Spurs at bay, and then nick a winner. 0-1

How did Sutton do last time?

A strong week for Chris, who overpowered wrestler AEW wrestler Claudio Castagnoli.

Chris got eight correct results from 10 matches in week 14, with three exact scores, giving him a total of 170 points.

Claudio managed four correct results, with no exact scores, giving him 40 points.

Anthony Joshua 150
Eddie Hearn 130
Barry Can’t Swim 110
Anish Kumar 100
Fabian Edwards, Joelah from 1Xtra, KSI, Midas the Jagaban 90
Chris Sutton 88 (average after 14 weeks)
David Earl, Keke from 1Xtra, Jazzie Zonzolo 70
Tommy Fury, Joe from Nothing But Thieves 60
Gabe of Jamie Johnson FC, Tash from The Football Academy 50
AEW wrestler Claudio Castagnoli. Tom Ogden and Joe Donovan from Blossoms 40
Willie J Healey 20
Suggs 10
Chris Sutton 1,230
Guests 1,070

How did you get on?

Tottenham’s draw at Etihad Stadium was one of the results that caught you out – 76% of you went for a City win – and so was Everton’s victory at Nottingham Forest, although that was much closer.


While 30% of you did go for a Toffees success, 40% of you backed Forest to triumph.

1. Chris 8/10
2. You 6/10
3. Guest 4/10

*Win, draw, loss prediction based on highest % of vote for each match.

1. You 81/140
2. Chris 78/140
3. Guests 71/140

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Le Barça vise la deuxième place face à Getafe



Le FC Barcelone n’a pas encore trouvé la solution pour garder sa cage inviolée. Après quatre matchs consécutifs sans clean sheet, dont un match nul 1-1 contre Naples en Ligue des Champions, les Blaugrana se tournent vers la Liga pour tenter de se relancer.

La deuxième place est en jeu face à Getafe, une équipe que le Barça n’a battue qu’une seule fois lors de ses quatre dernières confrontations en championnat (1v, 3n).

Malgré une défense fébrile ces derniers temps (14 buts encaissés en 5 matchs à domicile), le Barça reste invaincu contre Getafe au Camp Nou (16v, 4n).

Getafe, en milieu de tableau, n’a perdu qu’un seul de ses cinq derniers matchs (2v, 2n) et vise une place européenne. Un nul n’est pas à exclure, car 7 des 10 derniers matchs à l’extérieur de Getafe en Liga se sont soldés par un score de parité (1v, 2d).


Joueurs à suivre:

İlkay Gündoğan: Le milieu de terrain de Manchester City est en forme, avec 5 buts lors de ses derniers matchs de championnat qui ont tous produit au moins 3 buts.
Mason Greenwood: L’attaquant de Getafe, prêté par Manchester United, pourrait chercher à marquer rapidement pour impressionner le Barça, qui s’intéresse à lui pour cet été. 4 de ses 5 buts en Liga avec Getafe ont été marqués en première mi-temps.

Statistique: Barcelone a marqué 16 buts après la 80e minute, le plus haut total de Liga.

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Highlights: NI secure first-leg win over Montenegro



Goals by Lauren Wade and Demi Vance help Northern Ireland to a 2-0 victory against Montenegro in the first leg of their Women’s Nations League play-off.

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Theo Hernández dans le viseur du Bayern pour remplacer Davies ?



Coup de chaud sur le mercato ! Theo Hernández, 26 ans et défenseur vedette de l’AC Milan, serait sur la liste du Bayern Munich pour remplacer Alphonso Davies ! Cette information intervient alors que l’avenir de Davies reste flou, avec des négociations contractuelles en cours et l’intérêt d’autres clubs.

Le polyvalent Hernández, capable d’évoluer sur tout le flanc gauche, est un profil intéressant pour le Bayern. Il peut jouer en tant qu’arrière latéral, piston, voire plus haut sur le terrain si nécessaire, offrant une flexibilité tactique qui correspond au style de jeu du club.

Toutefois, il ne s’agit pour l’instant que de rumeurs. Aucune information concrète ne fait état d’une approche officielle du Bayern, et le contrat d’Hernández avec l’AC Milan court jusqu’en 2026. Néanmoins, cela suggère que le Bayern explore ses options et se prépare à tous les scénarios possibles avec Davies.

Trouver une solution à long terme pour le flanc gauche sera l’un des premiers défis majeurs pour le nouveau duo dirigeant du Bayern, Sebastian Kehl et Matthias Sammer. Bien que Davies soit un jeune joueur talentueux, assurer son avenir avec le club reste une priorité, et Hernández pourrait être une alternative potentielle si les choses ne se déroulent pas comme prévu.

Considéré comme l’un des meilleurs latéraux gauches au monde, Hernández serait sans aucun doute un atout précieux pour n’importe quelle équipe. Ses contributions offensives et défensives ont été cruciales pour le succès de l’AC Milan, et son expérience sur la scène internationale avec la France ajoute du poids à son profil.

Reste à voir si l’intérêt du Bayern pour Hernández se traduira par une offre concrète. Cependant, le fait que son nom soit mentionné aux côtés de Davies montre que le géant allemand ne prend aucun risque et envisage activement des remplaçants potentiels au cas où son joueur vedette déciderait de partir.


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Grace Clinton’s impressive England debut: ‘She plays like a natural’



Grace Clinton is congratulated after scoring
Grace Clinton came through Everton’s academy before joining Manchester United and having successful loan spells at Bristol City and Tottenham

Grace Clinton’s England debut could not have gone much better.

The 20-year-old has caught the eye this season while on loan at Tottenham from Manchester United and she did not waste any time in impressing Wiegman in Spain.

Playing in an unfamiliar number eight position, Clinton did not look out of place alongside England midfield regulars Georgia Stanway and Ella Toone.

By the time she was substituted in the second half – receiving a warm hug from Wiegman before she took her seat in the dugout – she had shown a convincing reel of her skillsets and will surely get another opportunity to do so again soon.

“She plays like a natural. She wants to have the ball. She picks up the things we talk about very quickly and that’s what you see on the pitch too,” said England boss Wiegman afterwards.


“It was a new role for her so we did some tactics and some individual things and you can tell she takes things on board. She just goes out there and plays.”

‘You work hard for these moments’

Sat in the stands at Estadio Nuevo Mirador, a 7,200-capacity stadium in Algeciras, a fair distance from England’s hotel in Marbella, were Clinton’s mum and dad, who had flown over in the hope of seeing her make her senior debut.

Clinton is one of several youngsters to have broken into the first-team squad under Wiegman and on Friday she proved to be an example for the under-23s players who have joined the Lionesses out in Spain.

“I can’t even describe it to be honest, it feels amazing. I found out on Thursday night [I was starting],” said Clinton.

“Throughout the week you might have ideas and stuff, but I couldn’t believe it. It’s surreal but you work so hard to get these moments so you really have to soak it in.”


Clinton said she “couldn’t wait” to “see the reaction” of her parents at full-time but joked that she expected a potentially “harsh” debriefing from her dad on where she could still improve.

“My dad knows his football so he will have a proper chat with me and I’ll be there a while,” added Clinton.

Playing alongside Stanway, who thrived in a deeper midfield role against Austria, and United team-mate Toone, Clinton said she felt “really comfortable”.

“The girls supported me so much. It was nice playing with Tooney because I know her really well and Georgia was really helpful behind – so really comfortable,” added Clinton.

“The number eight position this season is a bit new to me. Sarina told me at the start of the week she was trying new things so to be in there is different, but nice.”


‘It’s exciting she still has so much to work on’

Sarina Wiegman and Grace Clinton
Sarina Wiegman congratulated Grace Clinton when she came off in the second half

Manchester City defender Alex Greenwood, who wore the captain’s armband for England on Friday, hopes plenty of other youngsters can follow in Clinton’s footsteps and make an impression on the main stage.

“This week we’ve had the under-23s squad with us so for them to see that happen will be a bit of motivation for them to know they can have an opportunity in the future,” said Greenwood.

“Obviously we’re really proud of Grace for taking her opportunity and getting herself a goal.

“She’s brilliant. She’s actually really mature for her age and is obviously a fellow Scouser as well so that’s always nice to have another one in the camp.”

Earlier this season, Tottenham boss Robert Vilahamn said Clinton would be “the next superstar in this country”.

With four goals and two assists in 13 appearances for Spurs, Clinton has been a standout performer in the Women’s Super League, but Greenwood believes there is still more to come.


“She’s a great kid, really energetic, wants to learn and is always asking questions, which I love about her. She takes criticism really well and wants to improve,” said Greenwood.

“I think she’s a really good midfielder on the ball and makes good runs into the box. She’s an intelligent footballer and it’s exciting that she still has so much to work on actually.”

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La date de la présentation de Mbappé au Real Madrid dévoilée



L’arrivée de Kylian Mbappé au Real Madrid semble tellement évidente et certaine que l’on commence déjà à parler du jour où il pourrait être présenté comme nouveau joueur du club merengue.

Le Santiago Bernabéu l’attend déjà à bras ouverts. Sa présentation promet d’être à la hauteur de celle de Cristiano Ronaldo en 2009, lorsque 90 000 personnes avaient assisté à l’événement.

À l’époque, le prodige portugais venait de Manchester United avec un triplé de Premier League, un titre de champion d’Europe et les titres de Ballon d’Or et de Soulier d’Or en cours.

Mbappé arrivera en tant que champion du monde et vice-champion du monde après le Mondial au Qatar, et après être devenu le meilleur buteur de l’histoire du PSG.


Dates possibles de la présentation

L’émission El Chiringuito de Jugones a révélé hier soir les dates auxquelles Kylian Mbappé pourrait être présenté comme nouveau joueur du Real Madrid après la fin de la saison en cours.

Il faut tenir compte du fait que la finale de la Ligue des champions cette année aura lieu le 1er juin au stade de Wembley, où le PSG et/ou le Real Madrid peuvent être présents (ce qui serait une bombe).

Il faut également noter que l’Euro 2024 en Allemagne commence le 14 juin et il est fort possible que le joueur participe également aux Jeux olympiques de Paris.

Par conséquent, la présentation de Mbappé au Santiago Bernabéu aura lieu soit au début du mois de juin, soit à la fin de l’été, lorsque le joueur reviendra des Jeux olympiques.

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Georgi Sudakov: Air strikes & explosions, the reality of war for one of Ukraine’s top prospects



Sudakov taking a corner
Georgi Sudakov played every minute of Shakhtar’s Champions League campaign this term

Georgi Sudakov is as mature and pragmatic as he is talented. You grow up quickly as a young father when your country is at war.

Saturday marks two years since Russian tanks and troops crossed Ukrainian borders and for 21-year-old Sudakov, one of Ukraine’s most promising footballers, the threat remains real.

When the war began, Sudakov and his wife were expecting their first child, yet they were forced to hide away in a makeshift bomb shelter during air strikes on Kyiv.

Their daughter, Milana, is now approaching her second birthday but still the attacks continue.

“The situation is difficult,” Sudakov tells BBC Sport. “Frequent strikes and sounds of sirens. There was an explosion near our house in Kyiv recently.”


Sudakov is often on the road with Shakhtar Donetsk but there is no escaping the conflict for him and his team-mates. The club’s under-19s goalkeeper Volodymyr Seheda even put his career on hold to join the Ukrainian army.

“It’s psychologically hard when your family is far away and the first thing you see in the morning after waking up is a text from your wife saying that she and your child are hiding in the bathroom,” adds the midfielder.

He speaks frequently with friends and family about what is happening. “It is not a situation that you can forget about or move away from,” he says. “You follow the news or discuss it with your team-mates.

“It’s hard, but I have the opportunity to get a small distraction through my profession.

“When I’m on the pitch, I have two hours where I can forget about all my problems for a while and focus on football. It is on the pitch that I feel most comfortable.”


Amid the backdrop of war and the pressure of a burgeoning football career, the most significant change to Sudakov’s world has been becoming a father.

“The emotions and experiences cannot be expressed in words,” he explains. “They are special and unique. Nothing in football or beyond can compare to it. Our little miracle brings us joy and emotion every day. Now there is a new meaning to our life – our child.

“Everything I do now is primarily for my family. It is a very strong motivation and source of support.”

On the field, however, Sudakov is turning heads and winning plaudits.

Bids came in for the midfielder in January, with Napoli seeing an offer worth 40m euros (£34.24m) turned down. Sudakov instead renewed his contract, with Shakhtar reportedly adding a 150m euro release clause.


“There were offers from Juventus and Napoli,” explains Sudakov. “Other clubs also showed interest, but only these two teams made specific proposals.”

Sudakov has done his due diligence on other leagues, seeking advice from Chelsea forward Mykhailo Mudryk, a good friend, as well as confiding in Arsenal defender Oleksandr Zincheko, Genoa midfielder Ruslan Malinovskyi and Benfica goalkeeper Anatoliy Trubin.

“They all say that the level of football in their leagues is completely different,” he explains, stressing he remains “very happy” at Shakhtar.

“Speed, pace, quality of play and level of thinking are all superior. It is impossible to compare the Ukrainian championship with their leagues.

“If you want to progress as a footballer, then you need to move to the one of the top five leagues. At the same time, Shakhtar are forming a very strong team striving not only to play in European competitions but also to achieve positive results.”


According to his former youth team coach Fernando Valente, Sudakov could play for Liverpool, Barcelona or Manchester City, though his first football kit was a Manchester United one with Cristiano Ronaldo on the back and his “hero” was Real Madrid’s Luka Modric.

“I feel comfortable with the ball and prefer to play attacking football,” he says, leaving any comparisons for others to make.

“I don’t really like playing with a lot of challenges and without the ball, but I understand that this is an integral part of football and I’m ready to develop those aspects of my game at the right time.”

‘We feel responsibility and pride’

Sudakov Shakthar
Sudakov has been attracting interest from some of Europe’s top clubs

Sudakov played a key role as Shakhtar won the Ukrainian title last season, which was completed behind closed doors after the previous campaign was cancelled.

He also played every minute of Shakhtar’s Champions League campaign this term, scoring against Barcelona, when they finished third in the group after beating the Catalan giants in Hamburg – their current base for European games.

The Miners, who played in Poland last year, may currently call the Volksparkstadion their continental ‘home’, but getting to Germany is often easier for opponents. With Ukraine’s airports closed, the team spend many hours travelling by bus and at border crossings.


However, a 5-3 aggregate defeat by Marseille in the Europa League play-offs on Thursday, despite Sudakov scoring a penalty, brought their European ambitions to an end for this season.

Sudakov for Ukraine versus England
Sudakov started both Ukraine’s Euro qualification games against England

On the international stage, though, Sudakov and his team-mates face an exciting summer. Ukraine will compete in Paris after qualifying for the Olympic Games for the first time.

“It is a special moment,” he says. “I am proud to have the opportunity to represent my country at the Olympics, and equally proud that we qualified through my and the team’s efforts.

“It’s a big responsibility and we’re looking forward to the event.”

They are also still in the running for a place at Euro 2024, with qualification play-offs in March.

Sudakov was part of the squad at Euro 2020, calling it an “unforgettable experience”, and has been a regular this time around, featuring twice against England during qualification.


There is added motivation now, with the Ukraine squad often receiving messages from soldiers who say watching games is a welcome relief from the war for them.

“Indeed, in every game for the national team we are representing our nation,” he says. “Currently, when the situation in the country is very difficult, all footballers are aware of this.

“When we play for the national team, we feel responsibility and pride, we want to please the people who support us.”

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Scotland can ‘get to the next level’, says head coach Pedro Martinez Losa



SWNT at training
Scotland are seeking to move on from their Nations League disappointment
Venue: Pinatar Arena Football Centre, Murcia, Spain Date: Saturday, 24 February Kick-off: 13:05 GMT
Coverage: Watch on BBC Alba & iPlayer, follow live text coverage on the BBC Sport website & app

Scotland are ready to “get to the next level” after “deeply honest and ruthless” reflections on their Nations League campaign, says head coach Pedro Martinez Losa.

They have two Pinatar Cup friendlies – against Philippines on Saturday and Finland or Slovenia on Tuesday – before Euro 2025 qualifying starts in April.

“It’s about reconnecting, building confidence,” Martinez Losa said.

Speaking to BBC Scotland, he added: “The competition has been hard on us in many aspects in the last few months but it is also about the players believing.

“Camp from camp, you get the same squad pretty much, but not all the players are the same because they come in different moments of form.


“But we really wanted to create a good atmosphere so the first step when they arrive here is that they are happy, and after that, everything else can come.”

Scotland defeated the Philippines in last year’s Pinatar Cup with goals from Lauren Davidson and captain Rachel Corsie. Despite that, and the belief “we are a better side”, Martinez Losa stressed the need to remember “Philippines were at the World Cup, and we obviously weren’t”.

Experienced striker Ross ‘honoured’ to be back

Jane Ross
Jane Ross was out of football for 17 months with an ACL injury

One of the few players who is with the squad in Spain but wasn’t involved in the previous campaign is Rangers striker Jane Ross.

The 146-cap forward missed the inaugural Nations League because of her anterior cruciate knee ligament (ACL) injury, but fit-again Ross is “honoured” to be back in the international set-up.

“It’s something that was a goal of mine when I got injured and was going through the rehab,” the 34-year-old said.

Ross has made an emphatic return to life with SWPL leaders Rangers, scoring 11 goals in nine games, and while she said it “would be the dream” to net on her international recall, she is simply appreciating the game again.


“I am just first and foremost enjoying being back,” said the former Manchester United player, who is involved in her first SWNT camp in 21 months.

“It’s something you can take a little bit for granted when you’re fully fit and continually going, so to have a period of time to reflect and look at certain things and to get a greater appreciation for the game back again, I’m just loving being back on the pitch again and being able to play.”

While the sight of Ross, whose 62 Scotland goals put her behind only Julie Fleeting in the all-time charts, is a welcome one, Scotland are still without influential midfield pair Caroline Weir and Emma Watson, who are working through their own ACL injuries.

Ross’ return is proof for the duo there is light at the end of the tunnel, but she stressed the importance of discovering why so many female footballers are experiencing it.

“The research needs to be done into it to work out what is causing it to happen to so frequently, that’s the biggest question we need an answer to,” she added.


“If we try and get to the bottom of that and reduce the amount – I don’t know if we will ever be able to eliminate from the game – but reduce the frequency, then that’s something.”

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Married to the Game: Five things we learned from Prime documentary of footballers & their partners



Taylor Ward and Riyad Mahrez with the Champions League trophy.
Married to The Game is pitched as “offering unprecedented access to the lives of wives and girlfriends” of Premier League footballers – such as Taylor Ward, left, wife of former Manchester City winger Riyad Mahrez

What happens when you’re due to play for a Premier League team at the same time that your wife is due in labour?

How much notice do partners get when a footballer signs for a team in another country?

And is a two-month wedding anniversary really a thing?

A new documentary series focusing on the wives and girlfriends of top footballers in the summer of 2023 attempts to answer those questions and more.

Married to The Game was released on Prime on Friday and features the other halves of top footballers Jorginho, Ilkay Gundogan, Riyad Mahrez, James Tarkowski and Matt Turner.


There are plenty of glamorous holidays, massive houses and parties – such as Everton’s James Tarkowski and wife Samantha having a big do for their two-month anniversary.

But there are also sacrifices.

Plans can’t be made beyond short-term club contracts, partners and children have to be ready to relocate at the drop of a hat, and major life events are scheduled around the football season.

With a few ‘viral’ clips already being shared and discussed on social mediaexternal-link as the series launched on Friday, here are some of the best bits from the six episodes.

Jorginho’s ‘brutal’ response to Cat Harding’s proposal comment

Cat Harding.
Cat Harding is a singer-songwriter and personal stylist, as well as Jorghino’s partner

Arsenal midfielder Jorginho has been in a relationship with Cat Harding – a former contestant on The Voice – since 2020 and they have a son together.

The pair bonded over music and Harding is learning Portuguese – Jorginho’s first language.


However, there seems to be an awkward moment in episode one,external-link which has already been picked up on X. It is when Harding asks her partner whether he’s going to propose that day, telling him she’s left the appropriate finger free of any jewellery “just in case”.

In what’s been described as a “brutal” response, the 32-year-old Italy international tells her the finger is “going to stay free”, before appearing to walk abruptly out of the room.

Both are smiling, but maybe the humour was lost slightly in the edit…

James Tarkowski and wife Samantha like to enjoy time in the bedroom

James Tarkowski, Everton.
James Tarkowski’s wife Samantha puts her own fitness business plans on hold

James Tarkowski married his long-time partner Samantha in June last year and it’s nice to see the spark is still alive.

Samantha has an interesting one-word answer when she’s asked in episode three what she and the Everton defender most enjoy doing together.


“Do you not remember when we were younger,” she reminisces, adding “we used to get in bed and be like, ‘this is my favourite part of the day’.”

In episode one, Harding also cites a similar hobby, informing the film crew they will have to evacuate the house for an hour when her husband returns home later in the week.

Ilkay Gundogan and wife Sara Arfaoui joke about their opposite temperaments

Ilkay Gundogan and wife Sara Arfaoui at Ballon d'Or awards.
Ilkay Gundogan says his Italian wife is very “emotional and direct”, adding “unfortunately, she forgets I was born in Germany”

Germany midfielder Gundogan has been married to Italian actress and model Sara Arfaoui since 2022.

The 33-year-old joined Barcelona last summer after seven years at Manchester City, where he won five Premier League titles and captained the club to a historic Treble last season that also included a Champions League and FA Cup success.

Arfaoui gives some insight into what it’s like to be married to a footballer during the transfer window when she says: “You get a call in one hour and you get informed you have to go. Pick a flight and go and change your life.”

Packing for their move to Spain, Gundogan reveals he has “a certain routine” and his mother is “probably the only person” he would trust to pack for him.


Mahrez’s wife Taylor Ward ‘has no friends’ in Saudi Arabia

Riyad Mahrez with wife Taylor Ward and their daughter.
Mahrez and his family relocated to Saudi Arabia last summer.

Algerian forward Mahrez also departed the Etihad outfit last summer after five years, signing for Saudi Arabian side Al-Ahli.

In episode two, his wife Taylor Ward spells out what a big deal the relocation represents, reminding her husband “Manchester is her home” and he has “automatically got 30 new friends,” in the form of new team-mates, whereas she’ll be “sat at home” on her own.

Mahrez shrugs and, without showing much sentiment, replies “it’s part of the game innit?”

The 33-year-old also appears to have had very limited involvement in the planning of his own wedding.

Ward describes the player’s responsibilities as being limited to getting the rings, organising himself an outfit and turning up on time. Mahrez just about manages those things, despite flight cancellations and an issue with the rings being the wrong size.

Ward is also pleased to discover he has even bought a pair of shoes for the occasion, explaining Mahrez caused “uproar” when he turned up to her sister’s wedding in trainers.


Matt Turner and wife Ashley Herron plan baby birth around fixtures

Matt Turner with wife Ashley and son Easton.
Matt Turner says he gives “everything” to live out his dream with the US national team.

Nottingham Forest and USA goalkeeper Turner has two children with his wife Ashley Herron.

During the series, we get a sense of just how much the football schedule of a professional footballer can impact significant family events. In one scene, he even video calls into a pregnancy scan to organise Herron’s planned induction, so the actual birth won’t clash with fixtures.

Turner, 29, says missing scans and appointments is, “tough,” but adds: “I’ve missed so many things in my life that I’m a little bit numb to it in some ways.”

Meanwhile, Herron – a former NFL cheerleader who relocated from the US with Turner when he joined Arsenal in 2022 – says being supportive to Turner’s football priorities is “challenging”, but saying “I try to have perspective as well”.

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Coventry City 0-3 Preston North End: Resurgent Preston leapfrog hosts with big win



Preston North End's Emil Riis celebrates scoring his side's first goal at Coventry
Preston North End’s Emil Riis scored the opener within a minute

Resurgent Preston leapfrogged Coventry to move one place outside the Championship play-offs with a big win at the CBS Arena.

In-form Danish striker Emil Riis opened the scoring, set up Will Keane for the second and then forced a Bobby Thomas own goal to virtually end the game as a contest before half-time.

The win stretched Preston’s unbeaten run to six matches as they try to get back in the promotion running after a dire run ruined their excellent start to the season, when they were top after eight games.

Coventry would have claimed a top-six spot with victory but were pressured out of their rhythm by the away side, and suffered only their second home defeat of the season.

Ryan Lowe’s team were off to a flying start with Riis scoring his fourth goal in as many games with just one minute on the clock. He managed to force the ball over the line from a looping Alan Browne cross after the Preston skipper had taken the ball from a short corner.


The Denmark Under-21s striker, whose return from a 12-month injury absence has helped to give Preston fresh impetus, worried the Coventry defence throughout the first half.

The visitors, whose fierce press knocked Coventry out of their rhythm, were two up in the 20th minute.

The goal was a personal nightmare for Jay Dasilva, who unwisely performed a drag-back turn to try to dribble out of his own six-yard box after Thomas had blocked a shot from Riis. The Dane pounced on Dasilva and prodded the ball to top scorer Keane who tucked away his 12th of the season.

Coventry’s woes deepened before the half hour when Tatsuhiro Sakamoto was stretchered off with what manager Mark Robins later said may be a “really bad injury”, appearing to hurt his back in an awkward fall with Kasey Palmer replacing the Japan midfielder.

Josh Eccles blazed over the bar as Coventry tried to fight their way back into the game, but they were hit by a counter-attack in the 38th minute. Whiteman’s sweeping pass sent Riis racing down the left, and as Mads Frokjaer-Jensen stretched to reach the cross, Thomas could only turn the ball past his own keeper Ben Wilson.


After going into the game on a run of just one defeat in 14 games, Coventry responded and Preston keeper Freddie Woodman made a fine save to keep out Callum O’Hare’s shot, with defender Andrew Hughes following up to clear as the ball threatened to trickle over the line.

Coventry tried to force the pace in the second half but Preston defended resolutely to make sure of their biggest win since they hammered neighbours Blackburn at Ewood Park in December 2022.

Milan van Ewijk was twice denied by Woodman, whose clean sheet meant Coventry had failed to score for the first time in 20 matches, and fell to their heaviest defeat of the season.

Coventry manager Mark Robins told BBC Radio CWR:

“That was as bad as it’s been for probably a good few years – it was worse than the Stoke game last year when we lost 4-0.


“Sometimes the game gets away from you early on, and today was that. We conceded after a minute, a really poor goal – you have got to defend that better. They set their stall out from the first minute and we didn’t cope with it.

“We’ve been old-manned. They’ve got an experienced line-up, they ran and fought harder than us, and did the dirty side of the game better than anyone who has been here, so they deserved to win, no doubt about it.

“You can talk about the clean sheet in the second half, but the game was done. You can talk about trying to salvage pride, but there was no pride in that, it didn’t even look like a performance, it was a group of individuals who looked scared stiff and let them get on top of us physically and mentally.”

Preston manager Ryan Lowe told BBC Radio Lancashire:

“It was a top performance. On the front foot from minute one, with a set-piece goal that we worked on.


“I couldn’t have asked for any more than 3-0 in the first half, and we possibly could have had another one. They had a go, to be fair, but we were just better all round.

“The lads were fantastic. In the second half they were changing shape and were obviously going to come at us with good players coming on, but we kept the ball, nice and simple, tired them out a little bit.

“I’m over the moon for the boys, but it’s just another win that takes us closer to the points tally we set yesterday.”



Formation 4-2-3-1

  • 13Wilson
  • 27van Ewijk
  • 4ThomasBooked at 71mins
  • 2Binks
  • 3DasilvaSubstituted forBidwellat 45′minutes
  • 28EcclesSubstituted forKellyat 84′minutes
  • 22Latibeaudiere
  • 7SakamotoSubstituted forPalmerat 31′minutes
  • 10O’HareSubstituted forTorpat 73′minutes
  • 11WrightSubstituted forGoddenat 73′minutes
  • 9Simms


  • 6Kelly
  • 15Kitching
  • 21Bidwell
  • 24Godden
  • 29Torp
  • 30Tavares Desidério
  • 40Collins
  • 41Lusala
  • 45Palmer


Formation 3-4-1-2

  • 1Woodman
  • 14StoreyBooked at 54mins
  • 6Lindsay
  • 16Hughes
  • 8BrowneSubstituted forSearyat 90+4′minutes
  • 4WhitemanBooked at 43mins
  • 13McCann
  • 23MillarSubstituted forCunninghamat 74′minutes
  • 10Frökjaer-JensenSubstituted forLedsonat 88′minutes
  • 19RiisSubstituted forOsmajicat 74′minutes
  • 7KeaneSubstituted forWoodburnat 88′minutesBooked at 90mins


  • 3Cunningham
  • 17Stewart
  • 18Ledson
  • 20Woodburn
  • 21Cornell
  • 26Whatmough
  • 28Osmajic
  • 35Mawene
  • 36Seary

Andy Davies


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Watch the goals as Dunfermline win at Partick



Watch the goals as Dunfermline Athletic move out of the relegation spots with a win over promotion-chasing Partick Thistle. (UK only)

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