Premier League news, transfer updates and more: football countdown – as it happened
And that’s it from me. Thanks for your company. Enjoy the weekend’s football wherever you are.
Jamie Jackson runs the rule over Ralf Rangnick’s rule so far:
There hasn’t been a huge amount of transfer action today but there have still been a few deals done. A Chelsea youngster has joined Charlton, a Manchester City winger has gone to Sunderland and yet another US prodigy has returned to the Bundesliga. All the details are right here:
Harry Kane has been talking to Sky Sports this afternoon about Antonio Conte, among other things. “He’s one of the best managers in the world,” he said. “We’ve not really reached the heights we’ve wanted to as a club over the last couple of years. It’s a big opportunity now to take advantage of what we’ve got.
“The fact is, in the Premier League especially, so many teams are so good and everyone’s building to try and break into that top six. There’s a good eight or nine teams who are fighting for those places. If you don’t get one or two things right then you can really fall behind the pack and that’s kind of happened to us. So we need to be careful that we don’t keep falling. We’re feeling confident that we can do that, especially since the manager’s come in.”
And it may still be getting dark at 4pm and the road’s may still need gritting and you may not really want to go out without a hat but it’s also time to sound the starting pistol on the summer’s Kane-To-Manchester-City speculation. The England captain wouldn’t be drawn on the topic but was inevitably asked about his future.
“I just want to be playing at the highest level possible,” he said. “My focus is fully on this season and trying to get as high up the league as possible. We’re still in the FA Cup and we’re trying to win a trophy. I’m not going to go into loads of detail about anything else going on. It’s just about working hard for the team and trying to improve.”
A couple of match previews here to get your teeth into:
Related: Brentford v Wolves: match preview
Updated at 5.00pm GMT
Manchester United v West Ham: Cristiano Ronaldo is a doubt for the game due to a neck problem. “Cristiano is a question mark because he has a problem with his neck,” Ralf Rangnick told MUTV today. “He received treatment yesterday for two or three hours and we will have to wait to see how he feels today.
“Edi [Cavani] hasn’t been training with the team yet and will hopefully resume training today and then we’ll take the final decision after the training session today, if he will be available for the game tomorrow.”
Manchester United v West Ham: David Moyes says he is hopeful of signing at least two players before the end of the transfer window (and also shouts out the cost of living crisis):
“Like everything else things are expensive in this world at the moment. Also, there’s not a great pool of the positions we are looking for. We have found them difficult to identify and maybe get ones who we think can come in and make a difference immediately. The last couple of January windows we have been able to do that. This window has felt a wee bit more difficult. But if things go right and we get a good run of things I am still hopeful that we will add a couple of players before the window closes.”
Here’s Eddie Howe on Newcastle’s forthcoming trip to Saudi Arabia:
Today’s Fiver is dropping in inboxes around the world as I type and today contains almost as much Meat Loaf as football. It’s also right here:
And you can sign up for everyone’s favourite tea-time email here:
Southampton v Manchester City: James Ward-Prowse has received quite the endorsement from Pep Guardiola:
“He’s the best [free-kick] taker, right now, worldwide. There isn’t a better taker than Ward-Prowse. But he’s so good at it that maybe you miss his quality as a football player, and the football player is exceptional as well.
“He is a guy who adapts in midfield positions, a team player who has great quality with or without the ball, and in understanding the game. But at free-kicks, set-pieces, corners he is exceptional and people pay most attention to that.”
Antonio Conte + A Transfer Window – An Open Chequebook = Fun. The Italian is clearly keen for Spurs to bolster his squad this month. ““Honestly, I prefer to speak about this topic always with the club,” he said today when asked about the transfer situation. “For sure, I made evaluations about the squad but I have spoken with the club and I hope the club will listen to me.” As it’s Conte, it’s hard not hear a hint of threat in those last eight words …
An interesting line here from the Press Association on the Derby County situation:
Private investment firm Carlisle Capital have made a formal offer to the administrators of Derby to buy the Championship club, the PA news agency understands. Sources close to the firm say it has made a full asking price offer in the region of £28m. The bid, which is understood to be spearheaded by the firm’s vice-president Adam Binnie, has been made fully in the knowledge that the club could face additional liabilities if one or both of the claims against Derby from Middlesbrough and Wycombe are successful.
It is understood the offer does not include the club’s Pride Park stadium, which is owned by the club’s former chairman Mel Morris. The group walked away after showing initial interest last year but have returned at a time when the club is facing the very real threat of liquidation, having entered administration last September.
Duncan Ferguson has been making his presence felt with the Everton squad this week it seems …
Leicester City v Brighton: Brendan Rodgers has backed Leicester to recover after their late nightmare against Tottenham.
“There was a 12-second period which changed the narrative of the game,” he said. “At the end it’s managing that and that shows this group has so much improvement in them. You suffer when you have a loss like that, it’s painful, but that’s football.
“We spoke about it and talked about moving on from it. We have shown after a disappointing result we can jump back up and continue to fight. We are honest with it and it always allows you to move on. We’re not trying to blindside anyone, we should have won the game. It was there for us to win but there’s a great lesson there. We have a mantra that everything is possible and that game typified that.”
And Ben McAleer on very much the manager of the moment, Wolves’ Bruno Lage:
Hello all. A couple of pieces to brighten up your afternoon to start with. Here’s our quiz of the week (a very middling 6/11 to beat):
That’s all from me. Have a very nice weekend and I will leave you in the very capable hands of John Ashdown.
Brentford v Wolves: Bruno Lage says he will “protect” Tottenham transfer target Adama Traore in the same way the London club dealt with Manchester City’s bid to sign Harry Kane.
Wolves turned down a reported £15m bid for winger Traore earlier this week from Spurs, who refused to sell England skipper Kane to City for in excess of £100m in the summer.
“We have a top player with us, a lovely guy,” said Lage. “Sometimes it’s about business. I remember how much Tottenham protected Harry Kane at the beginning of the season.
“And we will protect our player because we believe a lot in Adama. That is business. It’s not my concern. But I will protect my players. The way they work, the value for me is very high.”
Arsenal v Burnley: Sean Dyche expects Sunday’s match away to Arsenal to go ahead without any issues after a number of Burnley players returned to training following the club’s Covid-19 outbreak.
Burnley had to request the postponement of their last two matches due to a shortage of players but Dyche said the situation had improved. “I would hope so,” he said when asked if the match would be played. “Looking at the group today we’ve got 16 out there today so at least we’re getting back to where the group wants to be. We should be fine.”
Everton v Aston Villa: Everton caretaker manager Duncan Ferguson says he does not have the experience to currently take on the job permanently - but accepts a run of results could change that.
The former Toffees striker has been placed in charge for “upcoming games” following the sacking of Rafael Benitez last weekend. In addition to Rooney, former Chelsea manager Frank Lampard and ex-Juventus and Real Madrid defender Fabio Cannavaro all appear to be contenders but Ferguson has the opportunity to make an impact on a temporary basis.
“Maybe down the line, one day,” he said when asked whether he could become permanent manager. “I’ve always dreamed about becoming the Everton manager but I’ve not got the experience. My job is to take the upcoming games, steady the ship. The club will go through the process identifying the new manager and they’ll bring them in.”
When it was suggested a good run of results could enhance his claims, he added: “You never know in football do you? What happens down the line will be down to the club. We’re always looking for the best managers in the world.”
Southampton v Manchester City: Manchester City will not rush Riyad Mahrez back into club action following Algeria’s early exit from the Africa Cup of Nations.
The forward is potentially available again for City after the defending champions were eliminated from the tournament in Cameroon at the group stage.
Manager Pep Guardiola, however, has said the 30-year-old will now be given some time off and will not feature against Southampton in the Premier League on Saturday. “He has permission to have one week off and will come back with the team next week,” said Pep.
Leicester City v Brighton: Brighton boss Graham Potter has tested positive for coronavirus and will miss his side’s Premier League game at Leicester on Sunday afternoon.
Potter’s assistant, Billy Reid, took Albion’s pre-match press conference on Friday and will take charge of the team at the King Power Stadium on Sunday.
“We’re not too sure how that will work yet but I will certainly be linked up to him at home,” said Reid. “Graham had a rough night last night and tested positive this morning so he didn’t take training. I was a manager in Scotland for eight years so I know what to expect. Nothing will change too much, we’ll try and keep things normal.”
Everton v Aston Villa: This just in from our man on the Merseyside beat ... and it’s a belter.
Manchester United: Further to that Victor Lindelof story, Ralf Rangnick has told reporters the Swedish defender will be unavailable for this weekend’s match against West Ham because he wants to spend time with his family after their trauma. “He said to me right now he needs to stay at home,” said Rangnick. “He doesn’t want to leave his wife and family on their own.”
Manchester United: Manchester United are supporting Victor Lindelof and his family after their house was broken into during Wednesday’s Premier League match against Brentford.
The Sweden international played the entirety of the 3-1 win, with wife Maja Nilsson Lindelof saying she hid in a room with her kids before they entered the house.
“We can confirm that a break-in occurred at Victor Lindelof’s house during the away game against Brentford,” said a Manchester United statement issued to PA Media.
“His family, who were at home at the time, were unhurt but clearly shaken. This was a distressing experience for them, and for Victor when he learned of it after the game, and the club is providing them with our full support. We encourage anyone with information about the crime to contact the police.”
Newcastle United: Eddie Howe again declined to address Saudi Arabia’s dismal human rights record as he confirmed he would take his struggling Newcastle squad to the Gulf kingdom after Saturday’s game at Leeds. Louise Taylor reports ...
Leeds v Newcastle: Patrick Bamford has suffered another injury setback, but Diego Llorente will return to bolster Leeds’ defence in their home game against Newcastle tomorrow.
Bamford has sustained a foot problem, having recovered from successive ankle and hip problems, while Llorente missed last week’s win at West Ham through suspension.
Forwards Joe Gelhardt (ankle) and Tyler Roberts (calf) could also return Roberts was also suspended last week - but midfielder Adam Forshaw and left-back Junior Firpo (both hamstring) have been added to Marcelo Bielsa’s long injury list.
Newcastle wing-back Matt Richie is a doubt with a knee injury and will be assessed before head coach Eddie Howe names his team. Midfielder Jeff Hendrick and striker Dwight Gayle, who both missed last weekend’s 1-1 draw with Watford after Howe had revealed there were Covid-19 cases within the camp, have returned to training and Javier Manquillo is available following a one-match ban.
Fellow full-back Jamal Lewis is also back on the training pitch following a hamstring injury, although the game could come too soon for him, but defender Federico Fernandez (thigh), midfielder Isaac Hayden (knee) and striker Callum Wilson (calf) are all out.
Newcastle to visit Saudi Arabia: Amnesty International UK have warned that Newcastle’s controversial trip to the Gulf state could become “a glorified PR exercise for Mohammed bin Salman’s government”.
“A training camp like this could easily turn into yet another PR opportunity for the Saudi authorities, who are clearly pursuing an aggressive policy of trying to sportswash their appalling human rights record,” said Amnesty UK CEO Sacha Deshmukh.
“Under Mohammed bin Salman, the human rights situation in Saudi Arabia has become increasingly repressive with government critics, women’s rights campaigners, Shia activists and human rights defenders harassed and jailed, often after blatantly unfair trials.
“The closed-door trial of Jamal Khashoggi’s alleged killers was little more than a whitewash and Saudi Arabia is implicated in an entire catalogue of crimes under international humanitarian law in the long-running conflict in Yemen.
“Newcastle players, the manager and all backroom staff ought to be prepared to speak out about human rights while in Saudi Arabia. Doing so will be a powerful sign of support for Saudi Arabia’s beleaguered human rights community.
“If the Newcastle training camp becomes a glorified PR exercise for Mohammed bin Salman’s government, it will prove once again that sportswashing human rights crimes is the name of the game here, not football.”
Arsenal v Burnley: Thomas Partey admits he needs to be “more intelligent” after he was sent off during Arsenal’s Carabao Cup semi-final defeat to Liverpool, PA Media reports .
Diogo Jota’s brace sealed a 2-0 win for the Reds, who will face Chelsea in the final at Wembley on 27 February. Partey flew back from the Africa Cup of Nations following Ghana’s early exit and landed in London on the afternoon of the Liverpool clash, declaring himself available as he was named on the Arsenal bench.
He came on with the game in the balance but, after Jota had struck again, the combative midfielder was booked twice in quick succession and received his marching orders just 16 minutes after his introduction.
“I am responsible for anything that happened and will take all the critiques, I should be more intelligent not to get in a challenge already booked. But this is my personality I like to fight for every ball,” Partey wrote on his Instagram stories.
“I love this club and I love my country even though things sometimes don’t happen how I wanted, I would continue to work harder and make things right. I came back with the mentality to make myself available for team (sic) to get to the final but it did not happen as planed (sic).
“I will continue to give my all when I am on the field of play because this is my life and this is what I chose to do. I’m not happy with all that happened yesterday and at the Afcon but I understand only with hard work things will change so I will continue to work hard to change this. Thanks.”
Partey’s dismissal was the 14th red card issued to an Arsenal player under Mikel Arteta’s tenure, six more than any other Premier League side across all competitions in that time. It was also the third sending off in Arsenal’s last four matches.
Aston Villa: Following hot on the heels of the news that Hugo Lloris has inked a new deal with Tottenham, his fellow goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez has signed a new contract until 2027.
The Argentina international, who joined from Arsenal from Villa in 2020, has signed a three-year extension, with his previous deal expiring in 2024.
England news: England will play their first senior fixture against Cote d’Ivoire in a friendly this March. Gareth Southgate’s side are preparing for the winter World Cup in Qatar and have lined-up two Wembley friendlies.
England will face Switzerland on 26 March and will then host the two-time African champions on 29 March. They have never played the Ivorians at senior level and the friendly marks the first time they have faced non-European opposition since November 2018.
The FA describes the match as “an important test for the Three Lions on the road to this year’s 2022 Fifa World Cup”.
England are scheduled to play four Nations League fixtures in June, then complete Group A3 in September - the final international meet-up before the tournament in Qatar.
Brentford v Wolves: Thomas Frank has said his Brentford squad is strong enough to remain competitive in the Premier League without bringing in any January recruits.
Brentford have been linked with a move for former Tottenham midfielder Christian Eriksen, who is looking for a route back into football following his cardiac arrest at Euro 2020. But Frank remains coy on those rumours and believes that even if he adds no new faces this month, Brentford can still enjoy a successful season.
Wednesday’s 3-1 defeat by Manchester United was a fifth loss in six outings but Frank’s side remain a healthy 10 points clear of the relegation zone.
“I think we have a strong enough squad to compete in the Premier League,” said Frank. “I do think a player or two would bring extra energy to the squad but I don’t think it’s essential. But we are always in the market and if a player comes up we will do it.
“I think it can be more difficult [in January] depending on where players are coming from. If you are coming from the Championship there is less adaptation, players are fully fit and up to pace. But for some players to adapt can still take weeks, months.
“If you come from abroad you need to get up to speed to your new team, tactics, crazy ideas from the head coach! So there’s a risk that it can take a longer time to adapt.”
Everton v Aston Villa: Steven Gerrard believes Rafael Benitez’s failed appointment at Everton was unique and warned his Aston Villa side to expect a reaction.
Villa go to Goodison Park tomorrow to play Everton, who sacked Benitez on Sunday following their defeat at the hands of NOrwich City. Gerrard played under Benitez for six years at Liverpool and admitted he was surprised the Spaniard wanted to manage Everton in the first place.
“I’m disappointed for Rafa because I’ve got a relationship with him and an awful lot of respect for him,” said Gerrard. “I have to be honest, I thought it was a unique appointment at the time.
“I was surprised and shocked Rafa wanted to go and have a go at that job, with his legacy and his relationship with Liverpool. It hasn’t worked out for whatever reason, you have to be inside the club to know why and what’s gone on. Big Dunc [Ferguson] will take the reins for this game and it’s quite obvious what type of reaction he’ll get.”
Updated at 10.43am GMT
Premier League rescheduling: Burnley’s Premier League match at home to Watford has been rescheduled for 5 February with a 6pm kick-off time, the Premier League has announced.
The fixture was postponed for a second time earlier this week. It was originally due to be played on December 15 but was called off due to Covid-19 cases within the Watford squad before an outbreak at Burnley forced the postponement of the rearranged match on 18 January.
With both sides having already been knocked out of the FA Cup, it has been rescheduled for 5 February on the weekend of the fourth-round fixtures.
Updated at 10.36am GMT
Newcastle are off to Saudi Arabia
Eddie Howe has confirmed Newcastle will embark on a potentially controversial trip to Saudi Arabia after their Premier League game at Leeds on Saturday.
Newcastle, who are 80 per cent owned by the Gulf state’s Public Investment Fund, will head off for a warm weather training camp at the weekend, although head coach Howe has insisted the focus will be entirely on football amid accusations of “sportswashing”.
“It’s a football decision,” said Eddie Howe, repeating the same phrase he used at his unveiling upon being asked if he had any concerns about taking the Newcastle job. “We’re doing it for the benefit of the players, the group, in our fight to stay in the division, and that’s my only thought.
“The facilities and everything around the trip are going to be first-class. We will train and we will train hard and we will train in preparation for our next game, so that’s always going to be my only focus.” Staff and PA Media.
Moshiri increases Everton stake
Everton co-owner Farhad Moshiri has ploughed another £100m into the club after increasing his stake to 94 per cent, according to PA Sport . The Iranian businessman, who has already spent over half-a-billion pounds on transfers since his £200m takeover in 2016, is converting loans from his Blue Heaven Holdings into equity.
Last February 100,000 new shares were issued and he has purchased the final third of those, having already acquired 66 per cent 12 months ago.
The move, announced in a letter to fans, provides a much-needed boost to Everton’s finances, having posted a combined £265m loss for the last three financial years.
“I write to you to assure you that my commitment remains strong and focused,” he said in his letter. “The club has announced today the conversion of a £100m loan to the club into equity which is a clear demonstration of my commitment and greatly strengthens the balance sheet.
“I am a private man and I do not speak publicly very often. But I promise you that my determination to deliver for Everton will not waiver.”
The weekend's Premier League fixtures
- Watford v Norwich City (Friday 7.30pm GMT)
- Everton v Aston Villa (Sat 12.30pm)
- Brentford v Wolves (3pm)
- Leeds United v Newcastle United (3pm)
- Manchester United v West Ham (3pm)
- Southampton v Manchester City (5.30pm)
- Crystal Palace v Liverpool (Sunday 2pm)
- Arsenal v Burnley (2pm)
- Leicester City v Brighton (2pm)
- Chelsea v Tottenham Hotspur (4.30pm)
Lloris signs new deal with Tottenham
The World Cup-winning France goalkeeper has signed a new two-and-a-half year deal that will keep him at the club until 2024, it was revealed this morning. With less than six months left on his original deal, the 35-year-old had been free to discuss terms with foreign clubs this month, but has instead agreed to sign an extension.
“We are delighted to announce that Hugo Lloris has signed a new two-and-a-half-year contract with the club, which will run until 2024,” purred a club statement.
“Captain of club and country, World Cup and Uefa Nations League winner with France, Hugo, 35, has racked up 395 appearances since his arrival from Lyon in August, 2012.
“Already 14th in our all-time appearance list, he will soon become only the 12th player to make 400-plus appearances for us in all competitions. Only two goalkeepers – all-time greats Pat Jennings (590) and Ted Ditchburn (452) – have played more for us.
“Outstanding since returning from a dislocated elbow suffered in October, 2019, Hugo is ever-present in the Premier League this season, and on a run of 67 successive starts in the league going back to the 1-1 draw at Burnley in March, 2020.”
Thank football it's Friday
Welcome one and all to another Friday countdown to the weekend’s top flight action. Watford and Norwich City get proceedings under way later this evening in what promises to be a tense six-pointer, with Everton and Aston Villa taking up the cudgels tomorrow in a lunchtime meeting that pits Duncan Ferguson and Steven Gerrard agaoinst each other for the first time since March 2006.
Leeds United, Manchester United and Brentford are all at home for the day’s three o’clock kick-offs, hosting Newcastle, West Ham and Wolves respectively, before Southampton welcome Manchester City to St Mary’s. Sunday’s four games are bookended by Crystal Palace v Liverpool and an intriguing match-up between Chelsea and Tottenham Hotspur.
With no shortage of managers ready to face the press today, we’ll bring you team and transfer news, along with any other major talking points that may crop up throughout the day. The first? Hugo Lloris has signed a new and presumably improved two-and-a-half-year contract with Tottenham Hotspur, which will run until 2024.