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Scotland and Wales could meet in World Cup 2022 play-off final – live!

The Guardian
The Guardian
 2021-11-26

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4.36pm GMT

Italy given away draw if reaching final

Home advantage draw made...

Path A
Wales/Austria v Scotland/Ukraine

Path B
Russia/Poland v Sweden/Czech Republic

Path C
Portugal/Turkey v Italy/North Macedonia

So, Italy are up against it. If they do come through their semi, they’d have to play the final away, most likely in Portugal. If it goes wrong, they’d miss out on the finals for the second World Cup running. Unthinkable really!

Updated at 4.37pm GMT

4.32pm GMT

Wales given home advantage in final

A final key note from the draw...

If Wales and Scotland do meet in the Path A final, Robert Page’s men would have home advantage! That could be massive.

Updated at 4.32pm GMT

4.28pm GMT

Portugal or Italy will miss out on Qatar

World Cup draw: Of course, Portugal being drawn against Euro 2020 champions Italy in Path C guarantees a big player won’t make it to the 2022 finals. In fact, both could miss out if failing to come through their semi-finals.

Updated at 4.30pm GMT

4.27pm GMT

Wales v Scotland! This may get a few airings over the next few months.

4.25pm GMT

Full World Cup play-off draw...

Let’s fill in the opponents:

Path A
Semi-final 1: Scotland v Ukraine
Semi-final 2: Wales v Austria

Path B
Semi-final 3: Russia v Poland
Semi-final 4: Sweden v Czech Republic

Path C
Semi-final 5: Italy v North Macedonia
Semi-final 6: Portugal v Turkey

4.21pm GMT

Scotland and Wales could meet for place in Qatar

World Cup play-off draw...

Path A
Semi-final 1: Scotland v ?
Semi-final 2: Wales v ?

Path B
Semi-final 3: Russia v ?
Semi-final 4: Sweden v ?

Path C
Semi-final 5: Italy v ?
Semi-final 6: Portugal v ?

Wowzers. Scotland and Wales are drawn in the same Path so will meet if both win their semis against still to be determined opponents.

Updated at 4.22pm GMT

4.10pm GMT

Rod Stewart overlooked so the draw is being made by Thiago, Lothar Matthaus and Christian Karembeu.

Rod in fine form.

Updated at 4.12pm GMT

4.08pm GMT

World Cup play-off draw: It’s the usual long, drawn out build-up. What the heck, I may as well put up some Alan while we wait.

4.05pm GMT

World Cup play-off opponents: A quick guide from the PA Media, showing the six teams Scotland and Wales could face:

Austria: Finished third behind Scotland in Group F but qualified for the play-offs through the Nations League. Austria drew 2-2 at Hampden before a Lyndon Dykes penalty was enough to earn Scotland victory in Vienna in September. Wales enjoyed identical results against Austria in the 2018 World Cup qualifiers. The Austrians, captained by Real Madrid’s David Alaba, took Italy to extra-time in the last 16 of Euro 2020.

Czech Republic: Familiar foes for both home nations, the Czechs finished third in Wales’ qualifying group, again after a 2-2 draw and a 1-0 victory for Rob Page’s team. They qualified via the Nations League after pipping Scotland to top spot in Group B2 after Steve Clarke’s men lost their final two matches. Although Scotland beat them home and away in that section, the Czechs won 2-0 at Hampden in the Euros.

North Macedonia: Possibly the favoured opponents for Scotland and Wales fans on first glance, but they beat Romania to second place in their group after beating Germany 2-1 in Duisburg in March. It was Germany’s first World Cup qualifying defeat since their 5-1 thrashing by England 20 years earlier. Coached by Igor Angelovski for six years, North Macedonia lost all three games at Euro 2020 but their only defeat in seven qualifiers this season came against Germany in Skopje and they sealed their play-off spot with a 3-1 win over Iceland.

Poland: Held England to a draw in Warsaw in finishing behind Gareth Southgate’s men in the qualifiers, before defeat in their final game against Hungary cost them a potential seeded spot. With eight goals, Robert Lewandowski is only behind Harry Kane and Memphis Depay in the European qualifying goalscoring charts. The Poles held Spain to a draw in the European Championship finals either side of defeats to Slovakia and Sweden.

Turkey: Lost 2-0 to Wales in the Euro 2020 finals and conceded seven goals in all while going down to Italy and Switzerland as well. They finished above Norway in Group G thanks to a flying start which saw them net a total of seven goals in opening wins over the Netherlands and the Norwegians. They fell to a 6-1 defeat in Amsterdam in September but played with 10 men for half of the match.

Ukraine: Reached the Euro 2020 quarter-finals before running out of steam against England after an epic victory over Sweden at Hampden. They finished a point above Finland in the qualifiers to seal runners-up spot behind France, going through the group undefeated after winning twice and drawing six times. Andriy Shevchenko left his job as head coach after the Euros to go to Genoa – acting head coach Oleksandr Petrakov has a decade of experience in coaching international youth football with his country.

4.00pm GMT

World Cup play-off dates: So, when does all this take place? A little while yet.

Semi-finals: Thursday, March 24
Finals: Tuesday, March 29

Updated at 4.01pm GMT

3.56pm GMT

World Cup play-off draw: We’re getting nearer!

Pot 1 : Italy, Portugal, Russia, Scotland, Sweden, Wales

Pot 2 : Austria, Czech Republic, North Macedonia, Poland, Turkey, Ukraine

The six Pot 1 teams will be drawn at home against a Pot 2 rival in the play-off semi-finals.

Then, it goes a little Alan Partridge 1994 World Cup draw.

Semi-finals 1 and 2 make up play-off Path A
Semi-finals 3 and 4 make up play-off Path B
Semi-finals 5 and 6 make up play-off Path C

To determine which semi-final winner will play at home in the final, an additional draw will be held for each path.

So, with a bit of luck, Scotland and Wales get a home draw in the final too!

Updated at 3.57pm GMT

3.48pm GMT

From email: Peter Oh has a tongue twister.

“The caption beneath the photo of the embracing Belgium and Portugal stars (14:55) should spark the inspiration for a screenplay. Yes, a Rom-Ron-com! Better yet - if the story involves a heist - a Rom-Ron-con-com. And, action!

Good thinking Peter! Perhaps we can adapt this for the opening title sequence...

Updated at 3.50pm GMT

3.43pm GMT

Liverpool v Southampton. Time for a match preview. Read it and then watch Thiago’s goal on a loop for 20 minutes.

Related: Liverpool v Southampton: match preview

Does it touch the ground? I’m in the ‘no’ camp with the cool kids.

3.34pm GMT

In my mind, Bryan Robson is taller than both Wayne Rooney and Sir Alex . Maybe not.

3.28pm GMT

Manchester City v West Ham: Hammers boss David Moyes hopes Michail Antonio can give City plenty to think about in Sunday’s clash at the Etihad.

The Jamaican striker was rested against Rapid Vienna on Thursday but will return to action for the trip to Manchester.

City go into the game having beaten a PSG side containing Lionel Messi, Neymar and Kylian Mbappe in midweek.

Moyes said: “Mich will probably cause them different problems than Messi would do, but I think Manchester City have shown exactly what they are.

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Antonio has six goals in the Premier League this season. Only three players have more. Photograph: James Griffiths/West Ham United/REX/Shutterstock

“Everybody is trying to aspire to play like Man City, be at their level, but that takes time, you cannot do that immediately.

“Even Manchester City have not done it immediately, they have taken a long period over it, but they have got a great team and great manager as well.”

“We have challenged the top teams. We got a result against Liverpool, so I want to see if we can compete against them and make things difficult for the big sides.”

Opta: West Ham are averaging 5.1 shots on target per game in the Premier League this season, their most in a single campaign in the competition since 2000-01 (5.3).

3.18pm GMT

World Cup play-off draw: Less than an hour away until we find out who Wales and Scotland will play in the semi-finals.

Pot 1 : Italy, Portugal, Russia, Scotland, Sweden, Wales
Pot 2 : Austria, Czech Republic, North Macedonia, Poland, Turkey, Ukraine

The six Pot 1 teams will be drawn at home against a Pot 2 rival. More on this later, folks.

3.15pm GMT

Serie A: Some news from Italy where Milan head coach Stefano Pioli has signed a contract extension until June 2023.

(From PA Media):

The 56-year-old former Inter and Lazio boss, whose appointment was fiercely opposed by Rossoneri fans in October 2019, has reinvigorated the ailing club.

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Pioli - adopting the Pep look - is staying on at Milan. Photograph: Indira/DAX/ZUMA Press Wire/REX/Shutterstock

Pioli has returned Milan to the Champions League and they are currently level on points with Napoli at the top of Serie A.

The Italian told the club website: “I want to thank the club for having given me the chance to coach a competitive team and one that is replete with great values, which must never go missing and which make AC Milan special.

“I’m proud of the work we’ve done until now, with the good relationship I have with the management, with the growth of my players and with the passion displayed by everyone working at this incredible club.

“Our fans are extraordinary and I hope to return their affection by making AC Milan more and more competitive.”

3.06pm GMT

Crystal Palace v Aston Villa: A low-key fixture last season has some extra gloss with Patrick Vieira and Steven Gerrard now the two opposing managers. They met nine times in the Premier League as players (Gerrard four wins, Vieira two wins and two draws you’re counting) but how will they fare when the duel moves to the dugout?

Here’s Viera going down memory lane: “I think we really enjoyed playing against each other. Every single game we played against Liverpool was a tough challenge because of Steven Gerrard.

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Gerrard and Vieira go at it. Poor Markus Babbel. Photograph: Alex Livesey/Getty Images

“He was a real leader, a real captain and was one of the best players in that position. He was part of those players who changed the role of the holding midfielder.

“Every game against Liverpool, I remember some like the (2001) final in the FA Cup that we lost but we had some games where we got the result so some good games.”

Palace head into the game unbeaten in seven Premier League matches and yet to taste defeat at home. Vice-captain James McArthur remains unavailable due to a hamstring injury.

2.55pm GMT

Striking stats: Talking of Lukaku and Chelsea v Manchester United, here are some some surprising revelations from the Opta stats gang.

Cristiano Ronaldo scored in the 2008 Champions League final against Chelsea while who can forget Lukaku’s hat-trick for West Brom against Man Utd in that bonkers 5-5 draw? Well, file both under outliers.

  • Lukaku has only scored in one of his 11 Premier League appearances against Manchester United, netting a hat-trick as a substitute for West Brom in Sir Alex Ferguson’s final game in charge of the Red Devils in May 2013.
  • In all competitions, Man Utd’s Cristiano Ronaldo has scored just one goal in 15 appearances against Chelsea, doing so in the 2008 Champions League final. The Blues are the side he’s faced the most without ever scoring against in top-flight football (10 games).
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Rom and Ron. Photograph: Alexander Hassenstein/Getty Images

2.44pm GMT

Chelsea v Manchester United: Some home team news for Sunday’s ‘big one’. With Ben Chilwell out, Marcos Alonso looks set to come in at left wing-back although Callum Hudson-Odoi has impressed in wide roles.

N’Golo Kante is likely to miss out through a minor knee issue. Tuchel explained: “N’Golo twisted his knee a little bit against Juventus, and feels quite better since the game but seems like he will be out for some days. It’s a matter of days, one week maybe.

“We still have a little bit of hopes but it will be almost a miracle if he makes it, so we think about a week.”

And Romelu Lukaku? Tuchel has some doubts. “Romelu is in training, and if you ask the player he will say ‘yes I can start for sure’. But there is a bit of difference between ready for training and ready for games, then there’s a difference between being ready for games and ready for Premier League games.

“The possibility that he starts is not very high, because we can’t be sure what happens in between matches.

“We have to find the balance between giving him minutes and being absolutely competitive with the guys who start.”

2.35pm GMT

Pep on Raheem Sterling: The Manchester City boss also has some nice words for Raheem Sterling, who has taken advantage of a return to the team by scoring in three of City’s last four games.

Guardiola said: “I’m so glad for him, he’s helped us for sure. He will fight to be better and better.

“It is important for strikers and wingers to score and make assists. He was decisive and this is the first step for him to come back.”

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A round of applause for Raheem. Photograph: Robbie Jay Barratt - AMA/Getty Images

Here’s a fun Opta stat which suggests Sterling has a decent case to start against West Ham:

  • Raheem Sterling has been involved in 11 goals in his last eight Premier League games against West Ham (6 goals, 5 assists)

2.25pm GMT

Pep Guardiola speaks ...

Manchester City v West Ham: Next on stage is Pep Guardiola and he brings some hot team news for Sunday’s home game.

The good news: Jack Grealish and Phil Foden are set to return. “They are getting better but we will train tomorrow and see how they feel.”

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Pep has never met Rangnick. Photograph: Matt McNulty - Manchester City/Manchester City FC/Getty Images

The bad news: Kevin De Bruyne remains unavailable as he continues to isolate following a positive Covid-19 test. Pep: “He’s a little tired, had no (sense of) taste, the symptoms you have (with coronavirus).

“Now he’s done six or seven days (isolation), so in a few more days he will do a PCR test and if negative he will come back.”

As for Ralf Rangnick being the new boss at neighbours United, Guardiola batted that one away. “It’s not confirmed, it’s speculation,” he said.

“He did an incredible job at Red Bull Leipzig and Salzburg. He has experience in Germany that is well known but I have never met him.”

2.15pm GMT

Chilwell could be out for just six weeks

Ben Chilwell: There were fears that the Chelsea and England left-back could miss the rest of the season after suffering a knee injury in the 4-0 win over Juventus.

But Blues boss Thomas Tuchel says he believes surgery can be avoided and that could mean a return for Chilwell in just six weeks.

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Chilwell limps off against Juventus. Chelsea hope he will return sooner than expected. Photograph: Catherine Ivill/Getty Images

“Ben has a partial injury of his ACL and the decision is to treat it conservatively,” said Tuchel.

“And the next six weeks will tell the story actually if he makes it and if he will be fully available after the six weeks, or if he needs surgery after that.

“Right now I only care about the six weeks, we are very positive because the first redaction of his body is very positive.

“Hopefully it stays like this so now the full focus of everybody is on the next six weeks, to try to bring him back to play.

“It’s a very responsible decision, so there’s no rush, no pressure.”

Updated at 2.36pm GMT

2.04pm GMT

Leicester v Watford: It’s the ‘Claudio Ranieri’ derby on Sunday as the Foxes’ title-winning boss returns to the club with his latest act, Watford. Then again, his counterpart may view this as the ‘Brendan Rodgers’ derby given that he was previously manager at Watford.

Anyway, here’s Brendan paying respect to the man who somehow pulled off at 5,000/1 coup.

“As well as winning the Premier League it would be the feeling, the feeling the team gave not only Leicester supporters but those around the world,” said Rodgers.

“What that gave was the hope that it can be done and it’s possible to do it. That gave belief not just to Leicester but to every club.

“To see him win his first title as a manager was special as well. He will always be held in the highest regard here.

“Just watching the whole story and the joy it gave people, it was a special, iconic, season. In any sport it is probably one of the greatest that ever was.

“That story is iconic and his association with Leicester, they have a bond forever.

“The supporters will always be eternally thankful to him and everything he did that season. That experience in isolation was incredible, I don’t think anyone expected Leicester to win the league.”

Rodgers is also wary of the current threat.

“With Claudio’s teams they are always organised and he is an incredibly experienced manager but they will know taking a team here will be a difficult game.

“They have good players, especially on counter attack, and from what I have seen they have been pretty direct and look to be organised when they haven’t got the ball.”

As for Leicester team news, Jamie Vardy returns after being rested for Thursday’s 3-1 Europa League win over Legia Warsaw which lifted them to the top of Group C.

Rodgers hopes defender Jonny Evans will be fit after pulling out of the game when suffering a thigh issue in the warm-up.

1.52pm GMT

More from Carrick: Further updates from the Manchester United press conference and here’s Carrick on the confidence gleaned from their 2-0 win at Villarreal on Tuesday.

“It was a big boost and a much-needed win for lots of reasons. First and foremost for the players to have that feeling again, there’s a bit of confidence, a bit of belief that I’m sure they lost.

“It’s another massive game for us. These are the ones you’ve got to enjoy, you’ve got to embrace, testing yourself against a team that’s playing very well.”

And here he is on whether the current squad could adapt to a new style; that’s relevant with Rangnick credited with influencing the pressing tactics adopted by fellow Germans Klopp and Tuchel.

“I think you can get ideas across quite quickly. History shows that. Sometimes it’s not just about ideas, it’s just a different voice, a freshness, and history proves that for whatever reason. Sometimes it works really well, sometimes not so well.

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Michael Carrick - a friend first and a boss second. Probably an entertainer third. Photograph: Ash Donelon/Contributor

“That’s the nature of life and we’ll see what happens in the days to come.

“There are lots of different styles in football. We’ve got a good group of players. Whoever comes in I’m sure they can adapt. There’s real talent and good people, good human beings in the squad so we’ll look forward to what’s ahead.”

1.43pm GMT

Michael Carrick speaks ...

Chelsea v Man Utd: Michael Carrick plays a stout forward defensive when the press bowl some Ralf Rangnick at him.

Quick aside: have we ever seen the managerial baton pass from one ‘ick’ to another? One for The Knowledge maybe.

Anyway, here’s Carrick on Rangnick: “From my point of view there’s a lot of speculation and reports, but as I’m sitting here now I’m preparing the team for the game (against Chelsea on Sunday).

“My head’s in the game. I haven’t got any more news to share with you on that front. I’m just looking forward to getting down to London to play against Chelsea.”

1.39pm GMT

Thanks Barry. I’ll open my set with some Michael Carrick stuff.

1.37pm GMT

That’s all from me. David Tindall is taking up the cudgels for the rerst of the afternoon, with Wales and Scotland due to find out who they’ll be meeting in the World Cup play-off semi-finals at 4pm (GMT). Thanks for your time and have a great weekend.

1.21pm GMT

Liverpool v Southampton: Andy Robertson and Kostas Tsimikas have been duking it out for first dibs on the Liverpool left-back position this season, with the 25-year-old Greek having impressed whenever he has been given a chance.

“People constantly forget how good Robbo is just because Kostas is good as well - thank god he’s good as well,” said Klopp.

“It’s much better than it was before when we had no real solution and Milly [James Milner] had to play there. Now we have different solutions, which is good.

“We have many prospects but I don’t down Robbo. We shared the intensity between the games between the two of them and really happy about the development. Really happy.

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Tsimikas (right) has proved an excellent back-up for Robertson. Photograph: Michael Zemanek/REX/Shutterstock

“But Robbo is Robbo. An outstanding player. If he has had drops in performance, it hasn’t changed my mind because you cannot trust people today and then not trust them the next days.”

Updated at 2.08pm GMT

1.14pm GMT

Jurgen Klopp speaks ...

Liverpool v Southampton: Jurgen Klopp and “the Austrian Jurgen Klopp” will be in adjacent dug-outs when Liverpool host Southampton tomorrow afternoon. The German version of himself has been talking to the press about his former mentor Ralf Rangnick and Thiago Alcantar’s midweek purler against Porto, among other things ...

On Manchester United’s soon-to-be-appointed new interim manager, Ralf Rangnick: “I know him - but usually we don’t talk about things that are not confirmed yet,” he said. “If you tell me that will happen, I might believe you. Yeah... another good German is coming to England, so that’s how it is.

“He’s a really experienced manager and built, famously, two clubs from nowhere into proper threats in German. He’s done a lot of different jobs but his first concern was always being a coach, actually. He’s very well regarded in Germany - and rightly so.”

On Thiago: “Thiago is an outstanding player,” he said. “We have found solutions when he was not available, it’s not about one player out or in. The quality of team, when the midfielders are fit, we have an incredible choice. Thiago has a very specific skill set, absolutely. It’s very helpful on the pitch when he has rhythm, so we have to make sure he gains rhythm but not over do it.”

On the threat of Southampton: “Ralph [Hasenhuttl] is obviously doing well, building a proper team there for each game and especially when they expect not to have the majority of possession,” he said.

“They are really well organised, I have to say. Very well drilled team and you have to be creative to break them down. They don’t concede a lot of goals, a lot of shots on target. So, that’s one of the issues we have to find solutions for. It’s a home and I hope we really use that, enjoy that because that will be essential.”

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Jurgen Klopp oversees Liverpool training yesterday. Photograph: Andrew Powell/Liverpool FC/Getty Images

12.56pm GMT

PSG give Pochettino their backing

The Paris Saint-Germain sporting director, Leonardo, has insisted that the club have not met with Zinedine Zidane and remain behind the manager, Mauricio Pochettino. Our chief football correspondent David Hytner reports ...

Related: PSG give Pochettino their backing and say no talks held with Zidane

12.36pm GMT

Brentford v Everton: Thomas Frank has been singing the praises of his Everton counterpart Rafael Benitez ahead of the meeting between their two sides in West London on Sunday afternoon. Everton travel to the capital hoping to end a erun of poor form that has seen them take just two points from the past 18 available.

Brentford have endured troubles of their own following a bright start to the season, taking a point last weekend against Newcastle to halt a run of four consecutive defeats.

“Any manager that manages more than 1000 games is a great manager,” said Frank. “When you’ve done it in several different countries with top clubs across the world, that speaks for itself. He is a brilliant manager and one of the best in the world.

“They will see this as an opportunity to get three points; that’s what every manager should think going into the next game. I am more focused on what we can do. It is very important that our approach is front-footed, aggressive and brave.

“We just do what we do; we train well, we prepare well, and we take the next opponent. It is important to be pretty level and consistent; we don’t speak it up or down too much.”

12.00pm GMT

Brighton v Leeds United: Leeds travel to the Amex Stadium for tomorrow’s evening kick-off and Marcelo Bielsa has been talking to the press before his team’s journey south.

Asked if he is considering repurposing Kalvin Phillips as a central defender following his excellent performance against Tottenham last weekend, Bielsa insisted that the England international is most effective as a deep-lying midfielder in front of his defenders.

“At Leeds, his natural position will be at defensive midfielder,” he said. “That’s the place where you most see Kalvin’s qualities. Of course, I will try to ensure he plays the majority of his minutes in that position.”

Bielsa said he employed Phillips as one of three centre-backs, alongside Liam Cooper and Diego Llorente, to specifically deal with the threat posed by Kane and Tottenham strike partner Son Heung-min.

“Our best player in the game against Tottenham,” said Bielsa. “He was our best player in the moments that corresponded with him playing alongside Cooper and Llorente, following Kane when he dropped deep.

“We had talked about thinking who could adapt best to Kane dropping deep and it was Phillips. It’s a method that’s very clear in Tottenham. Kane drops and does the diagonal [pass] from the left to the centre.

“We resolved that with Phillips and Llorente paired up with those two players [Kane and Son Heung-min] and with Cooper waiting as the free man. That worked very well. From my point of view, the best of Phillips, you will find it when he plays in the middle of the pitch. With respect to his position in the national team, it doesn’t correspond for me to have an opinion.”

Bielsa has been unable to play his strongest line-up for most of this season due to injuries, but is boosted by the return of Raphinha and Rodrigo for Saturday’s evening kick-off at Brighton.

Two points above the relegation zone, Leeds will still be without striker Patrick Bamford as they chase just their third Premier League win of the season, but Jamie Shackleton is also back in contention.
Defenders Luke Ayling (knee) and Robin Koch (pelvis) continue to work their way back following surgery.

Bielsa added: “The injuries are not one of the reasons why we are there and of course it worries me, the position we occupy in the table.


“I’m in charge of a group of footballers to warrant, to deserve to be in a higher position. The club has trusted in me and one of the aspects that shows this confidence is what they pay me to do this job. Of course, these results I am offering are not what’s expected.”

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Marcelo Bielsa barks orders from the touchline during his side’s defeat at the hands of Tottenham last weekend. Photograph: Javier García/REX/Shutterstock

11.39am GMT

Arsenal v Newcastle United: Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta has no new selection issues ahead of Saturday’s Premier League clash.

The Spaniard has also been boosted by the news that midfielder Granit Xhaka could return before the end of the year after making good progress in his recovery from a knee ligament injury.

However, Bosnia and Herzegovina defender Sead Kolasinac remains sidelined with an ankle problem picked up on international duty earlier this month.

Newcastle striker Dwight Gayle is a doubt for the trip to the Emirates Stadium with a hamstring injury. Gayle will be assessed after resuming light training on Thursday, but could join defender Paul Dummett (calf) on the sidelines.

As reported earlier, head coach Eddie Howe will be in the dugout after returning a negative Covid-19 test, and he faces a decision over whether to restore keeper Martin Dubravka to the starting line-up following his return from a foot problem in place of Karl Darlow, who endured a difficult afternoon in last Saturday’s 3-3 draw with Brentford.

11.35am GMT

Crystal Palace v Aston Villa: “He certainly hasn’t surprised me, I was a huge fan from afar,” said Steve Gerrard of Ollie Watkins, who scored a beauty in Villa’s win over Brighton last weekend.

“It was no surprise to me he got a big move to Aston Villa. In the ten days that we have worked together his standards and application have been top. He’s asking questions which I like because he wants to make sure he’s doing the right thing.”

On tomorrow’s opponents: ““They have been very creative and a lot of variety in their forward play,” he said. “They have recruited very well and Selhurst Park is always a hard place to go. This game is about us and we go there with confidence and belief that we can take something from the game.”

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Steven Gerrard talking to the media at Aston Villa’s Bodymoor Heath training ground this morning. Photograph: Neville Williams/Aston Villa FC/Getty Images

Updated at 11.35am GMT

11.23am GMT

Rainbow Laces campaign

Premier League clubs will come together between between 27 November and 2 December to celebrate the latest Rainbow Laces campaign and show support for all LGBT+ people in football and beyond. Steven Gerrard was asked about the scheme during his press conference earlier today.

“I think the message is very important,” he said. “The club works extremely hard in the background to support a lot of campaigns, I know they work very closely with Villa & Proud [LGBTQ+ Supporters’ Network].

“I know they do fantastic work and in the coming weeks and months I’m going to be sitting down with a lot of people and educating myself on all the good work that goes on here.”

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Rainbow laces. Photograph: Andrew Powell/Liverpool FC/Getty Images

11.05am GMT

Related: Eddie Howe clear to manage Newcastle at Arsenal after negative Covid test

11.01am GMT

Manchester United: The club’s new interim manager, a mentor to Jurgen Klopp and Thomas Tuchel, honed his coaching philosophy on his rise from Germany’s sixth tier to the Champions League

Related: Ralf Rangnick will bring innovative identity to Manchester United

10.59am GMT

Norwich City v Wolves: With Norwich City seeking an unlikely third win on the bounce, Dean Smith was in upbeat mood ahead of tomorrow’s game at Carrow Road.

“There’s a growing belief in the group after back-to-back wins,” he said. “Wolves are in good form, it will be a tough game for us. We’re at home again and if the second half atmosphere last Saturday is anything to go by, Carrow Road will be a tough place to come.

“It’s a very welcoming place for myself and Craig [Shakespeare], from board level all the way throughout the club. It’s been a really nice start to what I hope will be a long career here.”

On what attracted him to the job so quickly after his departure from Aston Villa: “I wanted to know there was stability at the club before coming here,” he said. “I’m looking forward to enhancing the relationship I’ve got with Stuart [Webber, Norwich CEO] already.”

On tomorrow’s game: “Bruno is a really good coach. They lost the first three games but I looked at the statistics because I’m a bit of a geek with data, and their data was really good. It was only a matter of time before they turned results around.”

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Dean Smith will take charge of his second Norwich City game tomorrow afternoon. Photograph: Joe Toth/REX/Shutterstock

10.31am GMT

Leicester v Legia Warsaw: Leicestershire Police have confirmed eight officers were injured and the same number of people were arrested during disorder at last night’s Europa League match at the King Power Stadium. Police clashed with travelling fans during the game, which Leicester City won 3-1 to leave them a point away from qualification for the knockout stages.

10.24am GMT

Arsenal v Newcastle: Eddie Howe has been cleared to travel to the Emirates with Newcastle tomorrow after a spell in quarantine but his assistant coach Jason Tindall was in charge of talking to the media this morning ahead of the squad’s trip to the Big Smoke.

“In terms of training, the lads have worked extremely hard, and there has been a constant dialogue with the manager,” he told reporters. “You want your leader and manager here with you, so we’ve missed him as staff and I’m sure the players have missed him on the grass and on the sidelines. We are certainly looking forward to having him back and I’m sure the fans will want him on the touchline.”

Asked how Newcastle will set up against Arsenal following their front-foot performance against Brentford, Tindall didn’t give much away.

“Every game in the Premier League presents a different challenge in terms of the style of play, level of player, different tactics we need to be prepared for,” he said. “We are aware of the strengths Arsenal have and you need to get the balance right; we will go to Arsenal and nullify their strengths but look to score goals.”

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Joe Willock prepares for Newcastle’s trip to Arsenal by running around a luminous yellow pole. Photograph: Serena Taylor/Newcastle United/Getty Images

Updated at 10.42am GMT

10.16am GMT

Good news for Newcastle

The club’s head coach Eddie Howe will be in the dugout for the first time at Arsenal on Saturday after returning a negative Covid-19 test.

Howe was forced to miss his first game in charge against Brentford at St James’ Park last week after testing positive for coronavirus. Still in search of their first win of the season, Newcastle take on Arsenal at the Emirates in tomorrowe’s lunchtime kick-off.

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Eddie Howe will be in the visitors’ technical area at the Emirates tomorrow. Photograph: Scott Heppell/AFP/Getty Images

10.11am GMT

Bayer Leverkusen 3-2 Celtic

Europa League: Celtic’s hopes of progressing to the knockout stages were dashed as a late fightback from their hosts denied them a famous victory in Germany.

Related: Celtic out of Europa League with two late goals from Bayer Leverkusen

10.10am GMT

Rangers 2-0 Sparta Prague

Europa League: Rangers booked their place in the knockout stages with a win over limited opposition in Giovanni van Bronkhorst’s first match in charge of the Scottish champions.

Related: Alfredo Morelos sinks Sparta Prague to send Rangers into knockout stage

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Alfredo Morelos was on the double as Rangers beat Sparta Prague at Ibrox last night. Photograph: Ian MacNicol/Getty Images

10.08am GMT

Rapid Vienna 0-2 West Ham

Europa League: Andriy Yarmolenko and Mark Noble wrapped up top spot in Group H for David Moyes’ side in an empty Allianz Stadion.

Related: Mark Noble on the spot as West Ham beat Rapid Vienna to wrap up group

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Mark Noble was among the goalscorers for West Ham as they confirmed top spot in Group H against Rapid Vienna. Photograph: Simon Dael/REX/Shutterstock

10.06am GMT

Leicester City 3-1 Legia Warsaw

Europa League: Leicester City remain on course for the knockout stages but their win over Legia Warsaw was marred by trouble between visiting fans and police at the King Power Stadium.

Related: Leicester get back on track with victory but Legia Warsaw fans clash with police

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Police clash with Legia Warszawa fans at The King Power Stadium last night. Photograph: Naomi Baker/Getty Images

10.02am GMT

NS Mura 2-1 Tottenham Hotspur

Europa Conference League: Antonio Conte says he is not a “magician” and now understands the size of the job on his hands at Tottenham after they suffered one of the most embarrassing nights in their history at the hands of the lowesty ranked side in European football’s third tier competition last night.

Related: Mura stun Tottenham with late Europa Conference winner after Sessegnon red

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With Ralf Rangnick dominating the headlines, Tottenham Hotspur manager Antonio Conte ponders what might have been if he hadn’t been so quick to accept the Tottenham Hotspur job. Photograph: Tottenham Hotspur FC/Getty Images

9.58am GMT

This weekend’s Premier League fixtures

  • Arsenal v Newcastle United (Saturday 12.30pm)
  • Liverpool v Southampton (3pm)
  • Norwich City v Wolves (3pm)
  • Crystal Palace v Aston Villa (3pm)
  • Brighton v Leeds United (5.30pm)
  • Brentford v Everton (Sunday 2pm)
  • Manchester City v West Ham (2pm)
  • Leicester City v Watford (2pm)
  • Burnley v Tottenham Hotspur (2pm)
  • Chelsea v Manchester United (4.30pm)
  • View the Premier League table

9.55am GMT

World Cup play-offs draw at 4pm (GMT)

Wales, Scotland and a host of other teams will discover who they’ll be playing in their Quatar World Cup 2022 play-off semi-finals at 4pm (GMT) tonight.

Both countries are seeded (along with Portugal, Italy, Russia and Sweden) and will have home advantage in their one-leg semis and will face one of Austria, North Macedonia, Turkey, Poland, Ukraine or Czech Republic.

The draw for the play-off finals will also be made, with all games to be played from March 24 to 29 next year.

9.55am GMT

The weekend starts here ...

Ahead of another few days’ piping hot football action, the imminent arrival of Ralf Rangnick as interim manager at Manchester United remains top of the news agenda. It’s good news for Tottenham, who won’t mind their shocking performance in Slovenia being overshadowed and important enough for Sky Sports News to have posted a reporter outside United’s training ground.

Ben Ransom, their man standing on the roadside in the cold, says the man they call The Professor has agreed personal terms and is waiting for Manchester United to negotiate the terms of his release from his current job at Lokomotiv Moscow.

As well as all the latest news from Carrington, we’ll be dropping in on press conferences the length and breadth of the UK as assorted managers get their chat on ahead of the weekend’s action. An interesting weekend of top flight action is topped and tailed by Arsenal v Newcastle at lunchtime tomorrow and Chelsea v Manchester United on Sunday. Michael Carrick will be in the technical area for that one before Rangnick takes charge.

Related: Premier League: 10 things to look out for this weekend

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