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Super League féminine : Chelsea 6-0 Leicester City – temps forts

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Regardez les temps forts alors que Chelsea passe à un point de Manchester United en tête de la Super League féminine avec une victoire 6-0 sur Leicester City.

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Women’s Euro 2025 qualifying: England to face Republic of Ireland, France and Sweden

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European Championship trophy
England are the defending Women’s European Champions

Defending champions England have been drawn with the Republic of Ireland, France and Sweden in Group A3 of Women’s Euro 2025 qualifying.

Scotland will face Serbia, Slovakia and Israel in Group B2, while Northern Ireland are alongside Portugal, Bosnia-Herzegovina and Malta in Group B3.

Wales have been drawn against Croatia, Ukraine and Kosovo in Group B4.

The qualifiers will take place between April and July, with the tournament scheduled for July 2025 in Switzerland.

France, England and Sweden are ranked third, fourth and fifth respectively in the Fifa rankings.

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The Lionesses beat Sweden 4-0 on their way to lifting the trophy in 2022.

World champions and Nations League winners Spain will play Denmark, Belgium and Czech Republic.

Germany, who lost to England in the Euro 2022 final at Wembley, will face Austria, Iceland and Poland.

Switzerland, who will take part despite having automatically qualified as the host nation, have been drawn against Hungary, Turkey and Azerbaijan.

The groups in full

League A

Group A1: Netherlands, Italy, Norway, Finland

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Group A2: Spain, Denmark, Belgium, Czech Republic

Group A3: France, England, Sweden, Republic of Ireland

Group A4: Germany, Austria, Iceland, Poland

League B

Group B1: Switzerland, Hungary, Turkey, Azerbaijan

Group B2: Scotland, Serbia, Slovakia, Israel

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Group B3: Portugal, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Northern Ireland, Malta

Group B4: Wales, Croatia, Ukraine, Kosovo

League C

Group C1: Belarus, Lithuania, Cyprus, Georgia

Group C2: Slovenia, Latvia, North Macedonia, Moldova

Group C3: Greece, Montenegro, Andorra, Faroe Islands

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Group C4: Romania, Bulgaria, Kazakhstan, Armenia

Group C5: Albania, Estonia, Luxembourg

More to follow.

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Joe Jacobson: Wycombe Wanderers captain on antisemitism rise in football

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Joe Jacobson in action for Wycombe
Joe Jacobson has made almost 400 appearances for Wycombe since 2014

Wycombe Wanderers captain Joe Jacobson says antisemitic abuse aimed at him required his club to organise personal protection before a game this season.

The 37-year-old, one of the few professional Jewish players in England, received abusive messages online.

He said Wycombe also resisted calls for him to be stood down for a social media post he wrote relating to the Hamas attacks in Israel on 7 October.

“It is hate messages,” Jacobson told BBC Radio 5 Live.

“It’s not anything to do with what I’m posting, it’s just comments that people want to throw at you really.”

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Kick it Out, an anti-discrimination charity, found that there was an increase of more than 400% in antisemitism in the game in the first half of the season – with reported instances over that period rising from 11 in the 2022-23 season to 57 in the current campaign.

Incidents of Islamophobic abuse also quadrupled over the same period.

Welsh defender Jacobson says he had “felt quite fortunate” that for the first 20 years of his career he had not been faced by antisemitism in football.

“Whenever I’d spoken about antisemitism there wasn’t much for me to talk about from my own personal experience,” he said. “However, since what happened in October, it seems to be more and more things going on.”

Jacobson said developments in the Israel-Gaza war and the historical conflict are not subjects he feels qualified to openly speak about.

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‘Barricade the gates’

But he did say he was compelled to comment on how others reacted to the deadly attacks – in which about 1,200 people were killed – five months ago when he wrote; “imagine taking to the streets and celebrating mass murder”.

“That is the only thing I’ve spoken about,” Jacobson said.

“People have then taken that tweet and brought it to the modern day and months later I’m getting responses to that.”

Jacobson said Wycombe also received messages and complaints aimed at the club, which led to an increase in security for the former Cardiff City, Accrington, Bristol Rovers, Oldham and Shrewsbury defender.

“One of them wasn’t necessarily a threat, but more a demand that I apologise and demanded that the club took me away from being the captain,” said Jacobson.

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“They said if they didn’t, then they might barricade the gates at Adams Park [Wycombe’s home ground].

“Then going to a match, there was all these weird things happening, with people wanting to come with me on the journey, and there were phone calls to friends on the journey saying where were we.

“Then when I got out of the car in the car park there were people surrounding me, Wycombe staff saying ‘come on Joe, let’s go into the stadium’. And that is really different and abnormal to what it usually is.

“Later on I found out that they had plain clothes security there just in case people were looking to do something.

“Thankfully they didn’t, and it was all fine and there was no harm.

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“It was something I didn’t realise would have to happen going to a football match.”

‘Responsibility to speak out’

Jacobson said the care and understanding of the League One club has been “amazing” but feels football authorities, including the Football Association and English Football League, “can do a lot more”.

The FA was criticised in October for not lighting up the Wembley arch in the colours of the Israel flag following the attacks by Hamas on Israel.

A member of the FA faith in football group, Rabbi Alex, resigned from his post over the decision.

It led to a policy change that the arch would only be lit for football and entertainment.

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It also brought about the foundation of an antisemitism task force, which Jacobson is part of.

“Lots needs to be done, but little things like the task force that has been set up are good ways of doing that,” added the former Wales Under-21 international.

“For me, I feel a responsibility as one of the few Jewish footballers in the UK to speak out.

“People do need to report instances. The biggest way for the FA, EFL and football to realise the problem it has is by people speaking out and reporting instances that happen – especially in football stadiums and football grounds.”

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Phil Foden: Is Manchester City midfielder ‘the best in the Premier League right now’?

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Erling Haaland and Phil Foden celebrates
Phil Foden and Erling Haaland have scored 16 goals between them in Manchester City’s past eight games in all competitions

Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola said after Sunday’s Manchester derby that midfielder Phil Foden was the “best player in the Premier League right now”.

And Foden has a strong case for that accolade, having scored six goals and provided an assist in his past seven league games.

Using the past 10 rounds of Premier League matches, BBC Sport look at who might currently be its ‘best’ player.

Phil Foden (Manchester City)

Foden scored twice in a 3-1 win over Manchester United on Sunday as City stayed firmly in the hunt for the title.

The 23-year-old has scored 11 Premier League goals this season and assisted seven – putting him joint-eighth in the rankings for those categories.

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Guardiola: “What can I say? He is the best player in the Premier League right now for the amount of things he does. Unbelievable.”

BBC Radio 5 Live commentator John Murray: “If England were playing their first match at the Euros later today, I think you would expect to see Bukayo Saka on the right, probably Phil Foden on the left, Harry Kane through the middle and Jude Bellingham in the number 10 position.”

Erling Haaland (Manchester City)

Haaland tops the Premier League goalscoring charts on 18 – two clear of everyone else. That is despite missing five matches so far this season.

Having featured in City’s past seven games since returning from injury, Haaland has scored four league goals and set one up in that time, as well as hitting five goals in an FA Cup fifth-round victory at Luton Town.

Guardiola: “With top scorers or strikers who score a lot of goals, don’t criticise because he will shut your mouth, that’s for sure.”

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Former City midfielder Michael Brown: “He’s got that power, he’s got that dedication. That hunger to finish. We’ve seen him mix up his goals. It’s difficult to just not let him do what he does.”

Phil Foden, Kevin De Bruyne, Rodri
Manchester City are unbeaten in their past 12 Premier League matches

Kevin de Bruyne (Manchester City)

City midfielder De Bruyne has been in superb form since returning from a hamstring injury which meant he missed the first five months of the season.

He has scored once and claimed four assists in seven league games, despite only starting four of them. He also got four assists in the FA Cup win at Luton.

Guardiola: “He is a special player. He is a legend.”

Former City defender Micah Richards: “We talk about lots of players being world class but Kevin is different. He always seems to gauge exactly what the game needs – and he delivers, all the time.”

Rodri (Manchester City)

Rodri has always been capable of producing big moments when it matters – and the midfielder is on a 59-match unbeaten run in City colours.

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Naturally a defensive midfielder, he has added more going forward of late, with three goals and three assists in his past 10 league games.

Guardiola: “He’s the best midfield player in the world currently by far because he is able to do everything.”

Luton Town captain Tom Lockyer: “It’s just a joy to share a football pitch with him. You don’t say that about a lot of players.”

Alexis Mac Allister, Virgil van Dijk and Darwin Nunez
Darwin Nunez scored a stoppage-time winner for Liverpool at Nottingham Forest on Saturday

Virgil van Dijk (Liverpool)

Liverpool captain Van Dijk has been one of the few mainstays in a title-challenging Liverpool side blighted by injuries.

In the Reds’ past 10 league games, Van Dijk has scored once, helped keep three clean sheets and also scored the winning goal in last month’s Carabao Cup final against Chelsea.

Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp: “Virgil van Dijk, from the first day since he stepped into Liverpool FC, is absolutely outstanding.”

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BBC Sport journalist Luke Reddy: “Van Dijk has been a ‘colossus’ in recent weeks.”

Darwin Nunez (Liverpool)

Uruguayan striker Nunez has been in fine form for the Reds of late, and scored the last-gasp winner at Nottingham Forest on Saturday.

In Liverpool’s past 10 league games, Nunez has played nine, scoring six goals and getting an assist.

Liverpool assistant manager Pep Ljinders: “Each game, he can create six chances just by himself.”

BBC Sport chief football writer Phil McNulty: “I think Nunez has loads of ability and his stats alone tell you what an impact he has on games. Not one goes by where he does not have influence of some sort.”

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Bukayo Saka (left) and Declan Rice (right)
Bukayo Saka (left) and Declan Rice (right) both scored in last month’s 6-0 win at West Ham United

Declan Rice (Arsenal)

Since a British-record transfer to Arsenal in the summer, England midfielder Rice has been a key part of the Gunners’ title challenge this season.

Despite his defensive responsibilities, he has scored once and provided four assists in the Gunners’ past 10 league games.

Former Manchester City midfielder Michael Brown: “Declan Rice can do every bit of being an all-round midfielder.”

BBC Sport football reporter Simon Stone: “I am a huge Declan Rice fan and he could turn out to be the difference between Arsenal fading away in the title race, as they did last season, and really going for it.

Bukayo Saka (Arsenal)

A strong contender for the Premier League’s most in-form player is England winger Saka.

In his past 10 league outings, Saka has scored eight goals, including two apiece against West Ham and Burnley, and added an assist.

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BBC Sport football reporter Simon Stone: “[The best player in the league] is between four – Haaland, De Bruyne, Salah and Saka. Whoever wins the title is the best.”

Former Chelsea winger Pat Nevin: “There were plenty of players who caught the eye in Arsenal’s win at Turf Moor, but Bukayo Saka being back close to his best was as important as anything else.”

Ollie Watkins
Ollie Watkins has scored 16 Premier League goals this season

Ollie Watkins (Aston Villa)

Watkins is a player who can go under the radar but is certainly a contender. He is ranked top for direct goal involvements and joint-top for assists this season.

In Villa’s past 10 league games, he has seven goals, four assists and is the only player to pass into double figures in both categories this season.

Aston Villa manager Unai Emery: “His commitment is brilliant and the consequence is this when he works hard every day.”

Former Newcastle and England striker Alan Shearer: “He’s having the season of his life. The form he is in, he is not hoping to score, but expecting to score.”

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Cole Palmer (Chelsea)

One of the few bright sparks for Chelsea this season has been midfielder Palmer. He has scored four times and provided the same number of assists in the Blues’ past 10 Premier League matches.

Chelsea manager Mauricio Pochettino: “He is an important player for us. He is a decisive player. I am so pleased with him.”

Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola: “It is not just goals and assists, it is the quality. He is an incredible threat for Chelsea.”

Jarrod Bowen
Jarrod Bowen scored his first career hat-trick last month against Brentford

Jarrod Bowen (West Ham)

West Ham winger Bowen is having his best ever Premier League scoring season. having netted 14 times so far.

In the Hammers’ past 10 league matches, Bowen has scored five goals and provided two assists – including his first career hat-trick against Brentford.

West Ham United manager David Moyes: “Some of his performances recently have gone unnoticed because we haven’t won.”

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Former Manchester United and England midfielder Paul Scholes to TNT Sports: “You can see Real Madrid, Man City, Arsenal all wanting him. He is a unit and reminds me a bit of Eric Cantona.”

Alphonse Areola (West Ham)

A left-field shout, but from a numbers perspective it is hard to ignore Areola.

In the past 10 games, he’s kept three clean sheets and averaged 5.8 saves per game. He also has the highest save percentage in the Premier League, has made more than 100 saves, conceded four fewer goals than his expected goals against tally suggests he should have, and is the only goalkeeper to save multiple penalties so far this season.

West Ham manager David Moyes: “Our goalkeeper played brilliantly well. He made several saves today that probably stopped Everton getting a result.”

And the rest…

Among those to narrowly miss out are forwards Diogo Jota (Liverpool), Mohamed Salah (Liverpool) and Rasmus Hojlund (Manchester United) – all overlooked because of recent injury issues.

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Honourable mentions also go to John Stones (Manchester City), Douglas Luiz (Aston Villa), Ross Barkley (Luton Town), Rodrigo Muniz (Fulham), Caoimhin Kelleher (Liverpool) and Heung-min Son (Tottenham Hotspur).

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Garth Crooks’ Team of the Week: Foden, Van Dijk, Odegaard, Soucek, Watkins, Wissa

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Garth Crooks' team of the week

After every Premier League weekend, BBC football pundit Garth Crooks gathers his thoughts and gives you his Team of the Week.

Here are this week’s choices and, as ever, Garth also discusses the game’s big talking points in the Crooks of the Matter.

Garth Crooks' team of the week graphic
Goalkeeper

Caoimhin Kelleher (Liverpool): Caoimhin Kelleher makes my team selection once again this time ahead of Alphonse Areola, whose penalty save against Everton and general performance placed him in contention for the number one spot. However, the importance of Liverpool’s clean sheet in their 1-0 win at Nottingham Forest cannot be overstated. Anthony Elanga was clean through on goal, but the forward couldn’t get past the Republic of Ireland keeper. By this time in the match it was pretty obvious that Kelleher was still basking in the afterglow of his Carabao Cup final performance and it was going to take something quite special to beat him.

The fact that Forest were incapable of putting the ball into the back of the Liverpool net having created so many chances should be of far greater concern to manager Nuno Espirito Santo and the club’s owner Evangelos Marinakis, than the controversy surrounding the referee Forest are claiming cost them the game.

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Defenders

Kurt Zouma (West Ham): He gave away the penalty but that didn’t faze him in the slightest – Kurt Zouma returned to Goodison Park and played a blinder in West Ham’s 3-1 win. His headed goal from a corner was as good as I’ve seen from a defender. He was head and shoulders above everyone else in the box. The West Ham skipper may not be the most comfortable defender on the ball but has an enormous leap from a standing jump and he is a ferocious competitor. The Hammers don’t play around at the back – they keep it simple and it suits them.

Meanwhile, Everton have gone nine Premier League games without a win but must hold their nerve and not lose confidence. They played well against the Hammers and deserved to get something out of the fixture.

Virgil van Dijk (Liverpool): If ever there was a sign that teams are desperately searching for points as they start their sprint for the end-of-season finishing line, then Liverpool’s win at Nottingham Forest was it.

Forest almost pulled off what would have been a shock draw had it not been for missed chances and Virgil van Dijk producing a commanding performance once again in defence. The Liverpool skipper got back brilliantly to block a shot from Morgan Gibbs-White that even the brilliant Kelleher in the Liverpool goal would have struggled to save.

The past 11 days may well define Liverpool’s season. To have won all four games when they have had so many injuries to contend with is impressive. All eyes now turn to Anfield this Sunday when they take on Manchester City. Whoever wins that match the title suddenly becomes theirs to lose.

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Micky van de Ven (Tottenham): Cristian Romero may have got the goal in open play that sent Tottenham on their way to victory against Crystal Palace but it was Micky van de Ven who provided a moment of sheer audacity.

Very occasionally you see a defender who is so comfortable on the ball he can play almost anywhere on the pitch. Van de Ven is one of those players. I’m not one for defenders taking unnecessary risks, especially when you’re the last man in defence and outnumbered by the opposition, but the way Van de Ven drew in Matheus Franca in the 88th minute, dropped his shoulder, and went past the Crystal Palace forward as if he wasn’t there was stunningly brilliant. What was odd was that no-one seemed to mention it. The only other defender I’ve seen perform this skill with such ease was Dutch compatriot and Ajax legend Ruud Krol. Now he was a player.

Midfielders

Tomas Soucek (West Ham): I remember when Tomas Soucek scored the winner at Goodison Park in 2021, but his goal that put the visitors 2-1 up against a desperately unlucky Everton on Saturday was better.

The cross from Mohammed Kudus left Soucek with an awful lot still to do but the Czech produced a two-touch finish that was off the charts. Soucek’s strike became even more relevant due to his fantastic defensive clearance off the West Ham goalline moments earlier. This was another impressive performance by the Hammers, with back-to-back wins and playing as well as I’ve seen them do all season, but I don’t see it cutting any ice with their fans over David Moyes. The manager still hasn’t signed a new contract and the old one runs out at the end of the season. Meanwhile, I haven’t seen one placard or banner asking him to stay. Not one.

Alexis Mac Allister (Liverpool): Jurgen Klopp called it a “super, super assist” at Nottingham Forest, and who would argue with him? Alexis Mac Allister didn’t just see the pass, he executed it brilliantly. Saves, assists and last-minute goals are all going to contribute to the final tally on the last day of Liverpool’s season. However, I doubt there will be a better or more important assist than the one created by the Argentine World Cup winner, for Darwin Nunez.

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As for the controversy surrounding referee Paul Tierney and where the game should have restarted. The referee made a mistake, however once the ball was back in play it was incumbent on Forest to defend their goal regardless of the referee’s decision. They had numerous opportunities to clear the danger and failed.

As for former official and now Nottingham Forest analyst Mark Clattenburg, asking to see the referee after the game was an interesting request. What was he intending to do – compare career mistakes?

Harry Wilson (Fulham): It’s been a while since Harry Wilson made my team selection. He was impressive last week at Manchester United and even better in the 3-0 win against Brighton at Craven Cottage. His goal was also superb, as was his all-round contribution to Fulham’s victory over the lacklustre visitors. The Seagulls look like they are suffering from the mental and physical fatigue associated with competing in Europe, which Newcastle have also felt. It’s not simply having an impact on both clubs’ injuries, but the ability to produce the expected result or retain their performance levels. It will be interesting to see where Brighton and Newcastle finish this season. A year out of European competition might do them good and give them a chance to recharge their batteries.

Martin Odegaard (Arsenal): Arsenal had cut Sheffield United open on two occasions in the 6-0 win on Monday before Martin Odegaard scored their opening goal. The ball he then sent to Gabriel Martinelli from inside his own half was sensational and a statement of intent if ever I saw one. Arsenal were 3-0 up in a matter of 15 minutes, Sheffield United had made their first substitution and home fans were streaming out of Bramall Lane in droves. Arsenal were brutal, Bukayo Saka was having the time of his life and by the time the Gunners were 5-0 up Sheffield United were praying for the half-time whistle. This was a walk in the park for the visitors and I could have selected anyone in an Arsenal shirt, but the star of the show was Odegaard and that’s why he’s in my team.

Forwards

Phil Foden (Manchester City): The goal, as spectacular as it was from Marcus Rashford, wasn’t enough to clinch victory. As Manchester United went 1-0 up against their biggest rivals you couldn’t help thinking what United fans would prefer at that point – three points to help them in their pursuit of a Champions League spot, or deny Manchester City three points and practically hand Liverpool their 20th league title. However, City’s ability to remain unflappable in these situations remains their unique quality, and eventually they broke down United to win 3-1. Phil Foden was immense and this young man is now producing the kind of performances we tend to associate with Kevin de Bruyne and Bernardo Silva. Foden has come of age.

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Ollie Watkins (Aston Villa): When you score 16 top-flight goals and it is only March it suggests you’re on for 20 for the season. That is a milestone that has always been of significance for any striker who considers himself among the game’s elite. Ollie Watkins is on fire and Aston Villa are the beneficiaries. What is most interesting about the two goals Watkins produced against Luton was the quality of the finish. Both goals were brilliantly dispatched; not scuffed or deflected but finished with aplomb. Luton’s 3-2 defeat by Villa has provided Everton and Nottingham Forest with some breathing space between them and the Hatters, who yet again failed to close a game having fought their way back into the match.

Yoane Wissa (Brentford): The goal by Wissa in the 2-2 draw with Chelsea was superb. Overhead kicks, when executed properly, have always looked spectacular and so was his. It’s important that they had Wissa back from the Africa Cup of Nations because the Bees were in desperate need of a lift having lost three games on the bounce – and that’s what the DR Congo forward gave them. The Bees did well against a side keen to put the disappointment of the EFL Cup final behind them, and Chelsea had to dig deep to get a point out of the game.

Thomas Frank’s rallying cry in his post-match interview about his team’s commitment and passion for the cause was heartfelt, if not slightly overdone. Brentford players have never lacked those qualities and they still have plenty of points to play for. The Bees will be fine.

Short presentational grey line

The Crooks of the Matter

The headline ‘The wasted talent’, which referred to the four-year suspension imposed this week on Juventus and former Manchester United player Paul Pogba for doping offences, made me chuckle. He certainly is an enigma; a complicated and inconsistent player without doubt, but no right-minded football person could ever argue that his talent has been wasted – he won four Italian Serie A titles and a World Cup for goodness sake. There can only be a handful of players anywhere in the world with that sort of record.

Pogba’s mistake was returning to Manchester United for a staggering £89m, and not just failing to win the Premier League, but not even coming close. That is why the France superstar will never acquire the legendary status afforded by United fans to the likes of Bryan Robson, Roy Keane or David Beckham, none of whom had Pogba’s gifts or won the World Cup.

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Regular readers will know that I have been one of Pogba’s biggest critics. Not because of his colourful hairstyles, however much I hated them, but that on too many occasions he robbed us of his genius. All football fans want to see is those who have the magic produce it when they pay to see it. Sadly the magic, all too often, simply wasn’t there. And now we feel short-changed.

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Blades ‘cut wide open’ by Arsenal – Wilder

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Sheffield United manager Chris Wilder says his side were “cut wide open” by an “outstanding” Arsenal side after the Blades were thrashed 6-0 at Bramall Lane.

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Aston Villa report £119.6m loss for 2022-23 season

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General view of Villa Park
Aston Villa finished seventh in the Premier League last season after coming 14th in 2021-22

Aston Villa have reported a loss of £119.6m in their latest accounts up to 31 May 2023.

The accounts cover a period that saw Villa finish seventh in the Premier League to qualify for Europe.

Villa say the figures are “in line with the strategic business plan” and within the Premier League’s profit and sustainability rules.

PSR rules, introduced in 2015-16, permit losses of up to £105m in a three-year spell.

A statement read: “The owners of Aston Villa remain committed to the long-term and sustainable development of the club, and we look forward to continued progress on the delivery of our strategic plan.”

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Investments in infrastructure, the academy, charity foundation and women’s football can be deducted from PSR figures. Clubs are also allowed to claim back losses incurred during the two seasons impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Villa made a profit of £300,000 in their 2021-22 accounts, helped by the sale of England midfielder Jack Grealish to Manchester City for £100m.

The Midlands club saw an increase in revenue of £217.7m in 2022-23, up from £178.4m in the previous year.

They spent £63.7m on new players including Diego Carlos from Sevilla for a reported £26m and Philippe Coutinho from Barcelona for £17m, while generating £22m from player sales.

Wage costs rose from £137m to £194.2m and the amortisation of player contracts also increased by £10m to £92.5m.

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The club also sacked manager Steven Gerrard and replaced him with Unai Emery, who helped the club to their best league finish since 2009-10 and qualify for Europe for the first time in more than a decade.

Last summer they signed France winger Moussa Diaby from Bayer Leverkusen for a reported £51m and Spain centre-back Pau Torres from Villarreal for a reported £31.5m, though those figures will be included in next year’s accounts.

They are currently fourth in the Premier League and on course for a place in the Champions League next season.

Everton were deducted 10 points, reduced to six on appeal, for breaching PSR rules in the three-year period to 2021-22.

In January the Toffees were charged along with Nottingham Forest for alleged breaches in their accounts up to 2022-23.

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Forest’s case is due to be heard this week. A date for Everton’s hearing is not yet known but it must be heard by 8 April. However, any appeal could take that process to 24 May, the week after the season has concluded.

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Kylian Mbappe: Can PSG afford to leave out striker before expected Real Madrid move?

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Kylian Mbappe watches PSG's game against Monaco from the stands with his mother
Kylian Mbappe watched PSG’s second half against Monaco at the weekend from the stands with his mother after being substituted at half-time

If the events that unfolded in Paris St-Germain’s last game are anything to go by, it is going to be an interesting final few months for Kylian Mbappe at the French club.

Against Monaco last Friday, Mbappe was taken off during the break after a goalless first half for the France striker and his team.

But rather than sit with his team-mates on the PSG bench, Mbappe instead opted to join his mother in the stands.

“Sooner or later we’ll have to get used to playing without Kylian,” PSG boss Luis Enrique said after the game. “I have to take the best decisions for the team.”

European football expert James Horncastle believes Luis Enrique’s decision was made with one eye on the future.

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“It feels like PSG were already preparing for this and knew it was a possibility,” he said on BBC Radio 5 Live’s Euro Leagues podcast.

“It’s going to be very interesting to see this new PSG in the summer, a PSG that’s supposed to be less ‘bling bling’ and bringing players through and promoting them.

“Will they stay true to that or feel the need to go out and get a superstar – which is how they have acted over the last 12 years?”

But, with trophies still to play for this season, just how wise is it to be preparing for life after Mbappe now and not using him to his maximum capacity?

‘PSG’s best chance of Champions League glory’

Mbappe has scored 26 goals in all competitions for PSG this season, with 21 of them coming in the league to put him top of the scoring charts.

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PSG are well on the way to retaining their Ligue 1 title as they sit nine points clear of second-placed Brest.

But while domestic triumphs have come easily to PSG under their Qatar-based owners, Champions League success has so far eluded them.

Given his record in the competition, it would appear foolish for PSG not to get as much as possible from one of the world’s finest players before he leaves.

The 25-year-old has excelled in the Champions League, scoring 44 goals in 68 appearances in the competition – including 38 for PSG.

The Paris club are on course to reach the quarter-finals as they face Real Sociedad on Tuesday holding a 2-0 advantage from the first leg.

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“Luis Enrique does have to start planning for next season but it’s a curious policy because Mbappe is their best chance of winning the Champions League,” added Horncastle.

“You need to make the most of him while he is still there.”

Luis Enrique gestures during a PSG match
PSG boss Luis Enrique has not been afraid to start Kylian Mbappe on the bench or take him off at half-time

Mbappe has now been substituted in each of the past two games for PSG. He was replaced after 65 minutes in the 1-1 draw with Rennes after failing to score.

In the game prior to that – a 2-0 win at Nantes – he started on the bench but came on to score PSG’s second in a 2-0 win.

“Had Kylian Mbappe been staying, he would be their best player, but now he is leaving Luis Enrique will be thinking ‘I’m here, but he won’t be, so if I don’t think Mbappe is doing enough in a game I can take him off and no-one will say anything’,” added French football writer Julien Laurens.

Spanish football expert Guillem Balague feels former Barcelona coach Luis Enrique has always shown a desire for Mbappe to do more than just score goals.

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“Mbappe had to make two runs following the full-back [against Rennes] and didn’t – so as soon as it went past 60 minutes, Luis Enrique took him off,” said Balague.

“Luis Enrique, when he first came to PSG, said ‘Mbappe scores goals, but that’s not enough, he needs to work harder’.”

A summer rebuild and a new-look PSG?

Kylian Mbappe, Lionel Messi and Neymar walk away during a PSG match
Kylian Mbappe, Lionel Messi and Neymar were signed by PSG’s Qatari owners to bring the Champions League to Paris

Mbappe’s departure this summer would see him follow Neymar and Lionel Messi in leaving PSG in the past 12 months.

That would suggest the French side is moving away from signing superstar names and could instead field a very different-looking side next season.

Laurens says “there are five names on PSG’s shortlist” for the summer, namely AC Milan winger Rafael Leao, Napoli striker Victor Osimhen, Manchester City midfielder Bernardo Silva, Newcastle United midfielder Bruno Guimaraes and Lille central defender Leny Yoro.

“Bernardo Silva will be 30 in August, maybe it’s the right time to move, having won everything at Manchester City. When you reach a certain level at Manchester City, after that you feel ‘I’ve done my time here, working with the best manager of all time in Pep [Guardiola]’.

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“PSG really like the idea of Bernardo, not just for his creativity but also for his experience. If they get two or three of this five they will be very happy.

“You would still have a core [of French players], and less bling does not mean not spending anymore, but having a stronger team collectively.”

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Sam Kerr: Chelsea striker pleads not guilty to racially aggravated offence

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Chelsea and Australia striker Sam Kerr
Kerr has scored 99 goals in 128 games for Chelsea

Chelsea striker Sam Kerr is set to face trial after being charged with racially aggravated harassment of a police officer.

The 30-year-old Australia international pleaded not guilty to the offence at a court hearing on Monday, the Crown Prosecution Service said.

Kerr is scheduled to appear at Wimbledon Magistrates Court on 1 February 2025.

It follows an alleged incident in January 2023.

“The charge relates to an incident involving a police officer who was responding to a complaint involving a taxi fare on 30 January 2023 in Twickenham,” a Metropolitan Police spokesperson said.

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She was charged on 21 January “with a racially aggravated offence under Section 4A [of the] Public Order Act 1986”, they added.

However Kerr denied the charge at a plea and trial preparation hearing at Kingston upon Thames Crown Court on Monday.

The striker is currently sidelined after suffering an anterior cruciate ligament injury at the club’s warm weather training camp in Morocco in January.

She has scored 99 goals in 128 matches since joining Chelsea in 2019, and is her country’s all-time record goalscorer with 64 goals in 125 games.

Football Australia said it was “aware of the legal proceedings involving Sam Kerr in the United Kingdom”.

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“As this is an ongoing legal matter, we are unable to provide further comment at this time,” a statement added.

During her time at Chelsea, Kerr has won four WSL titles, three FA Cups, two Women’s League Cups and the Women’s Community Shield.

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‘Let’s give it a go!’ – Arteta wants to maintain momentum

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Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta is pleased with his side’s 6-0 victory over Sheffield United and says the team need to “maintain momentum” over the rest of the season.

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Premier League relegation battle: Who will stay up?

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Sheffield United and Burnley are 11 points from Premier League safety and look doomed heading into the final stages of the season.

But who else is facing the threat of being relegated to the Championship? And which teams will stay up?

Bournemouth took a huge leap towards safety with a 2-0 win at Turf Moor on Sunday, lifting them 11 points above the relegation zone with a game in hand on most of their rivals.

Only eight points separate 18th-placed Luton and the four teams immediately above them – Nottingham Forest, Brentford, Everton and Crystal Palace.

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But it’s complicated…

Both Everton and Forest face anxious waits after being charged in January for alleged breaches in their accounts for 2022-23.

Forest’s case will be heard on Thursday 7 and Friday 8 March.

If they are found to have breached rules, they face a points deduction. A verdict is not expected until April and would be subject to appeal.

Any appeal could take that process to 24 May, the week after the season concludes on 19 May.

In November, Everton were immediately docked 10 points for breaking profit and sustainability rules (PSR) in the three-year period to 2021-22.

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However, that penalty was reduced to six points after an appeal.

Current table

Team Played Points GD Form (last 5 games)
14. Crystal Palace 27 28 -15 LLDWL
15. Brentford 27 26 -11 WLLLD
16. Everton 27 25 -8 DLDDL
17. Nottingham Forest 27 24 -15 DLWLL
18. Luton Town 26 20 -17 DLLLL
19. Burnley 27 13 -35 DLLLL
20. Sheffield United 27 13 -50 LWLLL

The run-in

Bournemouth: 9 March v Sheff Utd (home); 13 March v Luton (home); 30 March v Everton (home); 2 April v Crystal Palace (home); 6 April v Luton (away); 14 April v Man Utd (home); 20 April v Aston Villa (away); 27 April v Brighton (home); 4 May v Arsenal (away); 11 May v Brentford (home); 19 May v Chelsea (away). Postponed to date TBC: Wolves (away)

Crystal Palace: 9 March v Luton (home); 30 March v Nott’m Forest (away); 2 April v Bournemouth (away); 6 April v Man City (home); 14 April v Liverpool (away); 20 April v West Ham (home); 27 April v Fulham (away); 4 May v Man Utd (home); 11 May v Wolves (away); 19 May v Aston Villa (home). Postponed to date TBC Newcastle (home).

Brentford: 9 March v Arsenal (away); 16 March v Burnley (away); 30 March v Man Utd (home); 3 April v Brighton (home); 6 April v Aston Villa (away); 13 April v Sheff Utd (home); 20 April v Luton (away); 27 April v Everton (away); 4 May v Fulham (home); 11 May v Bournemouth (away); 19 May v Newcastle (home).

Everton: 9 March v Man Utd (away); 30 March v Bournemouth (away); 2 April v Newcastle (away); 6 April v Burnley (home); 15 April v Chelsea (away); 20 April v Nott’m Forest (home); 27 April v Brentford (home); 4 May v Luton (away); 11 May v Sheff Utd (home); 19 May v Arsenal (away). Postponed to date TBC: Liverpool (home)

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Nottingham Forest: 10 March v Brighton (away); 16 March v Luton (away); 30 March v Crystal Palace (home); 2 April v Fulham (home); 8 April v Tottenham (away); 13 April v Wolves (home); 20 April v Everton (away); 27 April v Man City (home); 4 May v Sheff Utd (away); 11 May v Chelsea (home); 19 May v Burnley (away).

Luton Town: 9 March v Crystal Palace (away); 13 March v Bournemouth (away); 16 March v Nott’m Forest (home); 30 March v Tottenham (away); 3 April v Arsenal (away); 6 April v Bournemouth (home); 13 April v Man City (away); 20 April v Brentford (home); 27 April v Wolves (away); 4 May v Everton (home); 11 May v West Ham (away); 19 May v Fulham (home).

Burnley: 10 March v West Ham (away); 16 March v Brentford (home); 30 March v Chelsea (away); 2 April v Wolves (home); 6 April v Everton (away); 13 April v Brighton (home); 20 April v Sheff Utd (away); 27 April v Man Utd (away); 4 May v Newcastle (home); 11 May v Tottenham (away); 19 May v Nott’m Forest (home).

Sheffield United: 9 March v Bournemouth (away); 30 March v Fulham (home); 4 April v Liverpool (away); 7 April v Chelsea (home); 13 April v Brentford (away); 20 April v Burnley (home); 27 April v Newcastle (away); 4 May v Nott’m Forest (home); 11 May v Everton (away); 19 May v Tottenham (home). Postponed to date TBC: Man Utd (away)

What do the prediction models suggest?

Team and predicted points in brackets % chance of relegation Current position & points
14. Crystal Palace (39) 2 14th – 28 points
15. Brentford (39) 3 15th – 26 points
16. Everton (36) 3 16th – 25 points
17. Nottingham Forest (36) 12 17th – 24 points
18. Luton Town (29) 81 18th – 20 points
19. Burnley (22) 99.5 19th – 13 points
20. Sheffield United (21) 99.6 20th – 13 points

Data specialists Nielsen’s Gracenote has calculated a percentage chance of relegation for each team, based on their remaining fixtures.

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Team Current position & points
14. Crystal Palace 14th – 28 points
15. Brentford 15th – 26 points
16. Everton 16th – 25 points
17. Nottingham Forest 17th – 24 points
18. Luton Town 18th – 20 points
19. Burnley 19th – 13 points
20. Sheffield United 20th – 13 points

Opta’s ‘supercomputer’ prediction model estimates the probability of each match outcome (win, draw or loss) by using betting market odds and their own Opta team rankings – based on historical and recent team performances. These are simulated thousands of times to create the probabilities.

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