There are rumblings that Wolves v Chelsea will be played on Christmas Eve.
Emma Hayes on the Women’s Champions League format. The qualifiers have left some big names out in the cold, including Manchester United and Arsenal, Benfica and Roma. Change may be coming, but not this season.
First of all we have to respect the format. The format has been in place and evolved a little bit over the last few years. I remember in 2016-17 season we joined the round of 32, we won that and next round we played Wolfsburg and were out.
A year later we drew Wolfsburg straight away and we were out. A year later we played Bayern Munich, won the game in the last 16 and that improved our coefficiency, that gave us some points on the board. Guess what? We had to earn that over three years, much like Paris FC had to earn that or whoever for that matter.
We have to respect the format and it is important to say that, we all knew what it was.
I think that’s ignorant and arrogant all at once to say that. Roma and Benfica won their leagues, they perhaps deserve to go straight into the group stage but this isn’t about my opinion, it is what the format was. We have to play that.
It wasn’t just Galatasaray fined for fan behaviour.
Bayern Munich, Galatasaray and AEK Athens have been fined for crowd disturbances in recent Champions League and Europa League games.
UEFA’s Control, Ethics and Disciplinary Body fined Bayern €40,000 euros for the throwing of objects and lighting of fireworks by fans during their 2-1 win at FC Copenhagen in the Champions League.
Galatasaray were fined a total of €51,500 euros for offences which included the throwing of objects, lighting of fireworks, acts of damage and crowd disturbances in their 3-2 Champions League win away to Manchester United.
Meanwhile, AEK Athens have also been fined €81,625 euros for the blocking of public passageways, throwing of objects, use of a laser pointer and lighting of fireworks in their Europa League 1-1 home draw with Ajax Amsterdam.
News from Caledonia from Simon McMahon: “11 out of 15 on the quiz for me, John, and that’s without any questions on Scottish Championship leaders Dundee United, who are away to third place Partick Thistle tomorrow. I would have taken that before the start. Lots of positives. Just taking each quiz as it comes, see what happens. Tomorrow’s games at St. Johnstone, Aberdeen and Arbroath are already off due to waterlogged pitches.”
Fancy another quiz? Course you do…
Following this lunchtime’s draw, here’s Suzanne Wrack’s group by group analysis of thi season’s Women’s Champions League.
Only Chelsea representing the WSL, remember, and in a tough group with Real Madrid, Häcken and Paris FC.
Philippe Clement, the new Rangers manager, ahead of his SPFL bow against Hibs, has assured the world he is not Harry Potter, helpfully described by PA Media as “the young wizard from novels written by British author JK Rowling”.
I hope they see a difference but I am not Harry Potter with the magic stick who can change everything suddenly. It doesn’t work that way. It is a tough balance coming in during a season and it is not the first time, it was the same at Genk and Monaco.
When you come in during the season you have to analyse what is good and what can be better and then prioritise the most important things to make better this week and the next week because if I try to do everything at one moment I kill the players. So it needs to be step by step. It is about analysing everything, the way I want to implement things.
Talking of love-ins, how about Pochettino and Arteta?
Anyone getting nostalgic for Fergie v Wenger, Rafa v José?
The Roberto De Zerbi/Pep Guardiola love-in ahead of Manchester City v Brighton, 3pm tomorrow, is on.
First up, De Zerbi on Pep.
He’s the best coach in the world and he’s a reference, not only for me, but I think for all coaches in the world. I’m happy when I listen to Pep speak about me. I feel in a difficult situation, a bit embarrassed.
We are working to progress. We are not a big team yet, we are working to it. We know we are Brighton, we have to show a lot of things in this season. This is a very difficult season for us. I think we are playing well, fighting well, but we have to improve, to progress, to adapt to a new challenge, a new season.
Secondly, Pep on De Zerbi, now being spoken of as his potential successor.
He came from Italy and the way he plays is a little counter-cultural and it doesn’t matter what happens. He plays (with) Sassuolo and teams who may not be considered the top, top, top ones, it doesn’t matter, (we) have the ball we are going to play, to play, to play.
I’m a spectator mainly as a manager and I enjoy a lot watching his teams play, I learn, like it and what he does makes sense. It’s not a surprise the success his teams have because he is playing deservedly.
Even when they lost to Villa, he plays his own style, it doesn’t matter transitions, deflections, Aston Villa, a top side this season for the quality they have with the manager and players, but they do (play), it doesn’t matter. Tomorrow will be an example. It will be one of the toughest tests we have this season. We’ll try to go for it.
Nicolas Ridgman nails the United question: “He may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but you’d be hard pushed to say Bruno Fernandes hasn’t improved at United. The stats show he’s consistently one of the most creative players in Europe, which clearly represents a level or two up from where he was at Sporting.”
Galatasaray have been fined for the behaviour of their “official” fans at Old Trafford last month, on a night when several of their fans appeared in the home end.
Graham Neil asks a pertinent question: “As a Liverpool fan, I’m in no way enjoying the latest shambles at Old Trafford but I would genuinely like to know: who is the last player who has improved after a stint at Old Trafford? It’s not exactly a surprise that yet another great footballer has crashed and burned there.”
I worked this out a few years back and the answer I came up with was….Ashley Young, signed by Sir Alex Ferguson in 2011. Any advance on that?
Louise Taylor is on the WSL beat, and hears from Leicester, in second place and taking on leaders Manchester City this weekend.
If Janina Leitzig, Leicester’s excellent former Bayern Munich goalkeeper, is likely to have a busy evening contending with Khadija Shaw, Mary Fowler, Chloe Kelly, Lauren Hemp and Jill Roord, Leicester offer a few potent attacking weapons of their own.
Here’s this week’s quiz. I got 9/15. It gets tough towards the end.
Brentford v Burnley is a game of significant importance if not high in glamour.
Both teams have struggled so far this season, with Brentford struggling with injuries and Burnley feeling the, er, burn of life a division up.
Here’s Thomas Frank:
We’ve played seven games where we’ve performed more than enough to get more wins. I’m confident when I look at performances. I would love a win tomorrow and I’m convinced that, if we top perform, then we will win. I’m also aware that we are facing a good Burnley team.
The eighth game, by the way, is their 3-1 loss to Everton.
Vincent Kompany, whose Burnley team have had an admittedly tough run of fixtures.
We get to take the learnings from this first period of games and hopefully move towards being good in all the matches. The biggest things for us is the fact that every moment matters in the Premier League. Every game will be tough but everybody knows that when you play Man City and these teams, they have something extremely special.
Further Jürgen Klopp. Seems fair to say he did not appreciate being asked about Mohamed Salah’s video on the Israel-Hamas war.
It is very important we have strong characters. I was not in doubt of that, but this is not the place to discuss this super, super serious subject in a football environment. It is nice for you that nobody asks for your opinion in this case, I should think we should leave it out of this room.
I was not for a second in doubt about Mo’s character, but that has nothing to do with the message he put out.
Mark Beadle gets in touch: “Sancho needs a little Roy time, let him scamper about with Eze and Olise.”
Leaders Tottenham face Fulham on Monday, and have to do without the suspended Yves Bissouma, though Ange Postecoglou has given a positive picture on the fitness of his squad. Rodrigo Bentancur nears a return but won’t be involved.
We’ll be careful with him. Now he’s sort of fully training, so that means he’s into the whole session. We’ve drip-fed him into training the last month and he’s coped pretty well with that. Now he’s into full training. We’ve got to be mindful that he’s missed a fair bit of football.
Elsewhere, new sporting director Johan Lange is in situ.
I’ve had a good couple of chats with Johan now since he’s been appointed. I think it is fair to say it is a position we needed to fill…Obviously we’ve got the January window not too far around the corner so I am sure he will be keen to get involved as well.
Gary O’Neil has played a predictable straight bat to his return to Bournemouth with Wolves tomorrow, his words a study in dampening stuff down. The boy’s a natural at this game.
It’s 0% about me tomorrow. It’s a game we want to take three points from. Nothing extra for me.
Jürgen Klopp has all but confirmed what was feared. After leaving the field when Scotland played Spain with a shoulder problem, Andy Robertson will be out for the forseeable future.
The decision will go towards surgery. There was a little chance he could try without but, talking to experts, surgery will be the best thing long term. He is out for a while.
Step forward Kostas Tsimikas.
Very important to have players like that. Thank god it’s not only Kostas we have like that. Joe Gomez can play the position. Luke Chambers and other young boys. Young kids are really showing up.
Good afternoon, and thanks to Yara for a full stint there.
That will be all from me today. I leave you in the safe hands of John Brewin who will take you through the rest of todays news and updates.
Thank you for joining me; a pleasure as always!
Some Jadon Sancho thoughts from the emails:
Phil is straight to the point:
Sancho was a waste of money, he’s never looked like a gamechanger.
Get rid ASAP.
I do wonder if Sancho will excel elsewhere. It always seems to be an issue at Manchester United.
Pep Guardiola was in a jovial mood at today’s Manchester City press conference, despite fielding some questions about his team’s recent dip in form. He was asked about the upcoming Ballon D’Or ceremony – with many believing the prize is a straight fight between Lionel Messi and Erling Haaland.
Guardiola has a foot in both camps, as a former mentor and long-term admirer of Messi.
And asked by a journalist about who he would have voted for, he said:
You are so funny. I always said that the Ballon d’Or had to be two sections: one for Messi and one for the others.
Haaland should win. We won the Treble because he scored 52 goals but of course Messi … Both deserve it. Egotistically I would say I want Erling because he helped us to achieve what we achieved. I would love it but I won’t tell you it’s unfair if Leo wins.
‘Playing in New York gave me a different perspective,’ Jack Harrison says.
The Everton loanee left Manchester United’s academy to build his career in the USA after good advice from his mum.
I’d always had that in the back of my mind because I’d seen the likes of Scott McTominay come up and absolutely smash it with the first team. But as soon as I made it to New York and saw where I was – even a lot of people in England were saying it was so cool that I was in New York – it gave me a different perspective.
And playing with the likes of Frank Lampard, David Villa and Andrea Pirlo, being managed by Patrick Vieira, being in an incredible city where I was able to thrive; at that point I thought it doesn’t matter what would have happened, this is my path now and I have to continue looking forward.
Read the full interview with Andy Hunter here.
An email! From a reader in Japan!
Hi Yara. I think Chelsea played RM last season and it was 1-1 away. Don’t know about Häcken. There’s a Chelsea player on loan at Paris FC.
Hello! You’re right. Chelsea beat Real Madrid 2-0 last season at home with goals from Sophie Ingle and Erin Cuthbert before drawing 1-1 in Madrid – Caroline Weir scored for the hosts before Misa Rodríguez’s own goal levelled it.
Chelsea seem to do well in the group stages, but there is this mental block that seems to happen in the knock-outs. Let’s see if they can get over the line this year.
You are also correct regarding the loan player. Alsu Abdullina, a wing-back, is in Paris for the season after joining the Blues in 2021.
In case you missed it, Mikel Arteta spoke about his brother-like relationship with Mauricio Pochettino ahead of their first meeting on the touchline.
The full story can be read here.
Can Jadon Sancho make his way back into Erik Ten Hag’s good graces? Or does he become another one of the club’s lost boys?
Man United supporters, get in touch and share your thoughts. Plus, fans of any other club, would you be keen on Sancho joining your club in January? Let me know.
Erik ten Hag also confirmed there is ‘no change’ in Jadon Sancho’s situation and he will not be part of the squad for the trip to Bramall Lane on Saturday.
Sancho is now training with the club’s under-18s after effectively calling his manager a liar by hitting back at comments about being dropped for the Arsenal match for his performance in training.
The player has been urged by senior members of Manchester United’s squad to apologise to Ten Hag and will be made available for transfer in January if he fails to act on that advice.
Victor Lindelöf is available for Manchester United’s trip to Sheffield United despite a draining week as Sweden captain after his country’s match against Belgium on Monday was abandoned at half-time because two fans were killed and a further person injured, Erik ten Hag has confirmed.
The players decided to not return to the pitch after the break upon hearing the news of the shootings in Brussels. Fans were escorted out of the stadium and were kept under armed guard.
Ten Hag said:
A terrible situation and it is sad for the victims and the relatives, family and friends of the victims there in Brussels. It’s a crazy world. Of course, Victor had a problem, it’s a bad experience, as Sweden national team, he was the captain, he had to stay in front and give statements but he dealt with it. He’s exhausted after it. He didn’t sleep overnight.
He returned and yesterday he was back in training. He dealt with the situation. Our thoughts are with Victor, the victims’ relatives and the victims. Victor has energy and is ready to play this game.
What does this mean for Chelsea?
Emma Hayes’ side aren’t in the obvious ‘group of death’, but that is a tough group. Real Madrid was certainly one of the teams to avoid in Pot 2 and Paris FC showed against Arsenal that they aren’t just here to make up a number. Häcken are also currently top of the Swedish league.
Group A: Barcelona (ESP, holders), Rosengård (SWE), Benfica (POR), Eintracht Frankfurt (GER)
Group B: Lyon (FRA), Slavia Praha (CZE), St. Pölten (AUT), Brann (NOR)
Group C: Bayern Munich (GER), Paris Saint-Germain (FRA), Roma (ITA), Ajax (NED)
Group D: Chelsea (ENG), Real Madrid (ESP), Häcken (SWE), Paris FC (FRA)
The Blues will also be travelling to Sweden in the group stages.
Group C is shaping up to be the ‘group of death’ with Bayern, PSG, and Roma.
Group A: Barcelona (ESP, holders), Rosengård (SWE), Benfica (POR)
Group B: Lyon (FRA), Slavia Praha (CZE), St. Pölten (AUT),
Group C: Bayern Munich (GER), Paris Saint-Germain (FRA), Roma (ITA)
Group D: Chelsea (ENG), Real Madrid (ESP), Häcken (SWE)
Real Madrid join Chelsea in Group D
That is a team that Emma Hayes would have wanted to avoid in Pot 2.
Group A: Barcelona (ESP, holders), Rosengård (SWE)
Group B: Lyon (FRA), Slavia Praha (CZE)
Group C: Bayern Munich (GER), Paris Saint-Germain (FRA)
Group D: Chelsea (ENG), Real Madrid (ESP)
The teams in Pot 1 of the UWCL have been assigned their groups
Group A: Barcelona (ESP, holders)
Group B: Lyon (FRA)
Group C: Bayern Munich (GER)
Group D: Chelsea (ENG)
As we wait for the actual groups to be announced, familiarise yourself with the NWSL playoffs, which are set to kick-off today.
It’s Megan Rapinoe’s last dance in Seattle, while the pressure is on Alex Morgan to deliver for San Diego.
The Women’s Champions League group stage draw has begun.
UEFA’s managing director of women’s football Nadine Kessler is introducing the draw. To be expected, there will be the usual preamble before we get to what everyone is actually here for.
Why are Chelsea the only English team in the UWCL this season?
As I previously mentioned, Arsenal could not get the job done against Paris FC, getting knocked out on penalties in their qualifier at the beginning of September.
Manchester United’s 4-2 loss against PSG on aggregate in their qualifier was lambasted by manager Marc Skinner. But not because of his players’ performances, but because the format.
There are teams going through to this competition (group stage) that are not good enough. Our standard is better than that standard, and it’s crazy that we have to play PSG in this qualifying round, crazy.
We want the best teams in the Champions League, not just a spread of some average teams. You saw how hard we had to work last year to get into a qualifying round? It’s crazy right?
Today, he’s clarified his stance a bit more, saying:
My comment was much more about the breadth and quality, I believe there is a need for more teams to be in this competition, and then you’ll see who is average and who isn’t. Who knows, we might have been average in a group stage, you don’t know that. If there was any offence taken then I’m sorry for that, but that’s not what I meant.
What I meant, and I’ll be clear on it, was I think there should be a broader scope of teams and there should be more teams in this competition so that we can actually then see where the elite level lies within Europe.
Chelsea are the only English side in the group stages after Arsenal and Manchester United fumbled against Paris FC and Paris Saint-Germain, respectively.
The Blues have never won the competition, and it is the only trophy that evades Emma Hayes, who has won everything else under the sun during her 11-year stint at the club.
Women’s Champions League group stage pots
Barcelona (ESP, holders)
Bayern Munich (GER)
Paris Saint-Germain (FRA)
Slavia Praha (CZE)
Real Madrid (ESP)
St. Pölten (AUT)
Paris FC (FRA)
Eintracht Frankfurt (GER)
We also have a huge Women’s Champions League group stage draw coming up soon.
How does it work?
Here are the draw conditions:
Clubs from the same country must not be drawn in the same group.
In the case of associations with two representatives, for TV coverage reasons these clubs will be paired in order to split their matches between the Tuesday and Wednesday or the Wednesday and Thursday of each matchweek. In the case of associations with three representatives, only two clubs will be paired. These pairings will be based on projected TV audiences.
Each club plays one home and one away match against each club in its group.
And here is the how the draw is set up:
Sixteen clubs involved are seeded into four draw pots of four teams.
The first pot comprises the titleholder (top seed) and the domestic champions of the three top-ranked associations in the access list.
As the titleholder (Barcelona) is the domestic champion of one of the top three associations, the first pot is completed with the champion of the association ranked fourth in the access list (England).
The other three pots are composed in accordance with the club coefficient rankings established at the beginning of the season.
Right, now that all that boring technical stuff is out of the way, let’s look at the pots.
Some more on Gary O’Neil, who returns to his former club that are still seeking a league win under Andoni Iraola.
John Brewin writes:
O’Neil has made a virtue from being underestimated. He returns on Saturday to Bournemouth, the club that jettisoned him in June after he saved them from being relegation certainties. Within the English football community, this was widely perceived as an act of treachery.
Lots of Premier League buildup here on the Guardian ahead of a big weekend. Get in touch to share your thoughts.
Speaking of the Gunners, Aaron Ramsdale has candidly spoken on losing his starting spot between the sticks to David Raya, saying that he’s “suffering and hurting”.
Thoughts? Can Ramsdale earn his spot back? Should he look for a move away from North London? Why do you think Arteta prefers the former Brentford keeper? Let me know via email!
Derby enemies or simply a sibling rivalry? Ahead of Arsenal’s trip to Chelsea this weekend, Mikel Arteta has hailed Mauricio Pochettino as a “big brother” and believes he is already turning things around at Chelsea.
The two played together for a year at Paris Saint-Germain, both arriving in 2001. Their meeting at Stamford Bridge on Saturday will surprisingly be the first time they have faced off as opposing managers.
The Arsenal boss credits the Argentinian for taking him under his wing at PSG.
He has been one of the most influential people in my career. Firstly as a player, he took me under the arm and looked after me like a little child, a little brother, and he was a big part of the success I had in Paris.
It was because of him because he really looked after me, gave me a lot of confidence and a lot of advice.
He has been a role model for me since that day, not only when I was a player but as a manager as well, when I had to make the decision to leave playing and start my coaching career he had a big say on that and I will always be grateful.
Arteta has also backed his big brother to turn things around at Chelsea. The Blues sit in 11th with only three wins in the league this season.
I’ve been really impressed by Chelsea. I think they deserve much more than what they’ve got in the table. What Mauricio has done in a short time is phenomenal. We’ll be have to be at our best.
Kaoru Mitoma signs a new contract with Brighton until 2027.
The 26-year-old, who arrived in 2021, has been a key player in the club’s success.
He holds the record for most Premier League goals scored in a season by a Japanese player, finishing the 2022-23 campaign with seven goals, one more than the previous record held by Shinji Okazaki and Shinji Kagawa.
Since his debut in August 2022, he’s contributed 13 goals and 12 assists, from 52 appearances in an Albion shirt.
Vincent Kompany has no problem with Darren England returning to officiating in Burnley’s match with Brentford tomorrow.
In case you’ve forgotten (or have erased the mess from your memory), England was stood down along with Daniel Cook after their communication error as VAR officials led to Luis Diaz’s goal for Liverpool against Tottenham being incorrectly disallowed last month. Both return to action this weekend.
Mistakes are human. I like the fact there’s transparency and that people come forward, own their mistakes, that we get access to the footage.
There might be a trend here where we get the young referees who need to learn Premier League game time or we get the guys who are just coming back and easing their way in but I’m sure with time and better results that can change. For him personally, we all make mistakes.
Kompany was also spoke rather diplomatically about needing better support at Turf Moor as the club look to improve their form. Burnley sit in the relegation zone after picking up four points following their return to the top flight.
Are we in need of a drummer? It’s for the custodians of this club to come to a decision but the atmosphere at Turf Moor, it’s always been a tough place to come to, it’s always been a place that lived with the game.
Two big derby games headline the top flight’s return while Manchester City seek an end to their losing streak.
Tomorrow’s lunchtime kick-off sees Liverpool host Everton while Arsenal head to Stamford Bridge to take on Chelsea. Plus our writers preview a possible six-pointer in Brighton v Brentford and whether Gary O’Neil will come back to haunt the club that sacked him as Wolves head to Bournemouth.
Crystal Palace need their defence to stay strong while Michael Olise and Eberechi Eze are out as they prepare to face Newcastle tomorrow.
Palace have not exactly lit up the league, scoring just seven goals in eight games – only Bournemouth (five) and newly promoted Luton and Sheffield United (both six) have scored fewer. Meanwhile, their rivals Brighton have scored three times as many (21). Palace have only scored more than one goal in one game – their surprisingly entertaining 3-2 win over Wolves last month.
Expect them to hunker down and try to ride out the storm on Saturday. Their two league games against Newcastle last season finished 0-0. Given his injury concerns, Roy Hodgson would be delighted to leave St James’ Park with a point.
Incoming seven-goal thriller. Read more on what Palace need to do to get over their injury situation from WhoScored.com’s Ben McAleer as part of the Guardian Sport Network.
Betting in football: players struggle but owners play by different rules: this explainer from Rob Davies was a reaction to the ban Ivan Toney received but a lot of sentiment applies to this situation as well.
Footballers continue to be punished for breaching rules that appear to be much clearer, raising questions about why there is one rule for them and another one, as yet unpublished, for the people who pay their wages.
How will all this affect Sandro Tonali’s future at Newcastle? Well, under Italian Football Association and Fifa regulations, admissions of betting on your own team leave players facing suspensions of up to three years.
Tonali is reportedly fully cooperating with civil and football authorities, with his agent saying he has a “gambling addiction”, then he may receive a shorter ban, potentially one year.
These situations do take time, so we may not know what suspension Tonali will face for about a month. Investigators must first complete their examination of the player’s mobile phone and tablet.
Eddie Howe has confirmed that midfielder Sandro Tonali is available for selection ahead of Newcastle’s match against Crystal Palace.
Tonali along with Nicolò Zaniolo left the Italy camp after being told they were involved in an investigation by prosecutors. Newcastle were stunned by the reports in Italy that their player had admitted to placing bets on Milan matches during his time there as a player.
As of now however, Tonali remains an option for Newcastle, according to Howe.
He’s very much with us. I think he trained twice this week. He’s very much available for selection.
Like I do with all the players, I’m analysing their training performances, how they look, how they feel. Sandro’s trained well.
He’s had a very difficult couple of weeks. He’s been dealing with a lot.
I see him for a few hours a day but, from what I can see, he’s handling himself very well and he’s dealing with his emotions incredibly strongly.
But underneath that I’m sure there’s a lot going on, so I’ll have to make a call. I have to bring it back to football and his training performances, then try to make the best decision for the team.
Good morning and welcome to our live blog where we preview all the football coming up this weekend after the international break.
We’ve got a packed schedule with several Premier League press conferences on the way, plus an exciting Women’s Champions League draw.
Have any thoughts, questions, complaints, etc about any happenings in the football world? Send me an email!