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Dustin Poirier blasts Conor McGregor in Abu Dhabi to plot new UFC title shot

The Guardian

Dustin Poirier stopped Conor McGregor with a flurry of punches midway through the second round Sunday, avenging his loss to the Irish superstar with a knockout victory at UFC 257.

Poirier (26-7) caught McGregor with a series of shots to the head before buckling his knees with two left hands. Poirier then sent McGregor to the canvas with a short right hand and finished it swiftly, setting off stunned excitement among the few thousand screaming fans allowed inside the Etihad Arena on Yas Island.

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January 24th 2021, 1:28 am

UFC 257: Conor McGregor v Dustin Poirier II – live!

The Guardian

Bryan will be here shortly. In the meantime here’s a preview of tonight’s main event.

Related: Conor McGregor eyes Nurmagomedov rematch before UFC 257 return

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January 23rd 2021, 11:13 pm

Manchester United's lack of philosophy an advantage in these chaotic times | Jonathan Wilson

The Guardian

Ole Gunnar Solskjær’s side are better able to adapt to the bizarre circumstances of this season while Liverpool are struggling

Did Alex Ferguson have a “philosophy”? Perhaps, over the 39 years between him taking his first job at East Stirlingshire and him retiring in 2013, it is possible to pick out some essential principles, but fundamentally he changed according to circumstance. He did not formulate and then enact some grand theory of how football should be played; his greatest assets were his capacity to organise, to motivate and to evolve.

Yet recently, the assumption has been that managers must be philosophers: Pep Guardiola with his juego de posición, Jürgen Klopp and the German school of Gegenpressing, all the various followers of Vítor Frade and his theories of tactical periodisation. Since Ferguson’s final success in 2013, the only Premier League title not won by a philosopher-manager is Leicester’s in 2016 – and even they had a clearly defined way of playing.

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January 23rd 2021, 11:13 pm

Hank Aaron’s death prompts call to change name: Braves to Hammers

The Guardian

As his adopted hometown mourned Hank Aaron’s death, some fans called on the Atlanta Braves to change their name to the Hammers in his honor.

‘Hammerin’ Hank’ died Friday at age 86, drawing praise from all segments of society – including the current and former – for his Hall of Fame career and providing inspiration to Black Americans by overcoming intense racism in his pursuit of baseball’s home run record.

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January 23rd 2021, 6:40 pm

Watkins and Traoré on target as Villa pile pressure on Bruce and Newcastle

The Guardian

The pressure on Steve Bruce grew heavier with this emphatic defeat to his former club, who swaggered back into the top half of the table thanks to goals by Ollie Watkins and Bertrand Traoré. Newcastle have not won for eight league matches and although they are seven points above 18th place, they are far from safe from relegation. Bruce’s position looks even more precarious.

Aston Villa, meanwhile, climbed to eighth, with two matches in hand over most of the teams above them. On the pitch and off, buoyant Villa stand as almost a perfect contrast to Newcastle.

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January 23rd 2021, 5:27 pm

Aston Villa v Newcastle: Premier League – live!

The Guardian

With Dean Smith on the naughty step, John Terry is on media duties tonight for Aston Villa.

Pretty similar, me Shakey (Craig Shakespeare) and the gaffer usually sit up high near the directors’ box, and then get the message down to Richard [O’Kelly] and Cuts [Neil Cutler] on the bench. It feels like a while, it’s nice coming home. It’s good to be home, players feel comfortable but we’re up against a tough side. I was just speaking to Steve who’s a great manager. We have got to be careful. They are good on the transitions and counterattacks. But we are at home and fancy ourselves.

This game was supposed to have been played in December but was the first Premier League match postponed due to Covid-19, and an outbreak within Steve Bruce’s squad.

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January 23rd 2021, 2:54 pm

Cheltenham v Manchester City: FA Cup fourth round – live!

The Guardian

36 min: Jesus is blocked by Tozer’s arm as he darts down the left. He wants a penalty but he’s not getting it. The ball’s worked back to Fernandinho, who creams a shot towards the top left. It’s always heading wide, and Griffiths had it covered anyway.

34 min: Doyle ships possession meekly and Cheltenham stream forward in attack. Azaz drives down the middle then slips a pass wide to Freestone, who is in plenty of space but hesitates and is eventually forced to turn tail. Just for a second there, City looked light at the back and Cheltenham were carrying a threat.

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January 23rd 2021, 1:23 pm

FA Cup fourth round, Football League and more – clockwatch!

The Guardian

There’s one game in the Championship, QPR v Wayne Rooney’s Derby County, and a raft of matches in the bottom two divisions.

League One

And ahead of the big one tomorrow.

Related: From the Doc to Kuyt, six Manchester United v Liverpool FA Cup clashes

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January 23rd 2021, 10:06 am

Rory McIlroy leads the way in bid to end wait for Abu Dhabi Championship

The Guardian

Eighteen holes stand between Rory McIlroy and the perfect new year statement of intent, as he bids for victory at the Abu Dhabi Championship at long last.

The enthralling nature of the tournament is emphasised by McIlroy’s series of positions. At the end of the first round, he led by one. With 31 tournament holes completed – play was called at this Friday juncture for him because of darkness – the 31-year-old found himself five adrift of Tyrrell Hatton. McIlroy had cut that advantage to three by the delayed conclusion of his second round and he now leads Hatton by one, as he seeks to win the event at the 12th time of asking.

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January 23rd 2021, 10:06 am

Gabriel deflection helps Southampton dump Arsenal out of FA Cup

The Guardian

Arsenal have shrugged off the “cup team” tag for now, but not in the way they would have wanted. Their hopes of retaining the trophy are over after a first-half own goal by Gabriel won this tie for Southampton, who deserved to book a fifth-round trip to Wolves even if they were required to hold on as the minutes ticked down.

Mikel Arteta flung on the cavalry in an attempt to keep Arsenal’s interest alive but they could not muster an equaliser and, on this evidence, their hosts might fancy a deep run of their own over the coming months.

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January 23rd 2021, 10:06 am

Southampton v Arsenal: FA Cup fourth round – live!

The Guardian

Today's team news...

@g_martinelli01 starts
@EddieNketiah9 leads the attack
@Bernd_Leno in goal

#EmiratesFACup

T E A M S H E E T

The #SaintsFC side to take on #AFC in the #EmiratesFACup fourth round: pic.twitter.com/3LeBz5ZmSw

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January 23rd 2021, 6:34 am

Ezri Konsa: 'I haven’t got any secret – it’s about learning my trade' | Paul Doyle

The Guardian

Aston Villa centre-back reveals how listening to John Terry and watching videos of Paul McGrath has improved his all-round game

A weird thing happened on Wednesday during the match between Manchester City and Aston Villa, and it had nothing to do with an obscure loophole in the offside law. In the 52nd minute of City’s 2-0 win, Bernardo Silva dribbled past Ezri Konsa. No other player has managed to do that this season.

“I don’t even remember it happening,” says the Villa centre-back of Silva’s feat, but Konsa was well aware of his pristine record up to that point, which had made him unique. “It was a good thing to carry, the only defender [to have played at least 10 matches] in any of Europe’s top five leagues not to have been dribbled past. Bernardo Silva has broken it, but I’ll try to keep it to one.”

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January 23rd 2021, 5:21 am

Micah Richards: 'I got abuse from my own black community'' | Jacob Steinberg

The Guardian

The former Manchester City and England defender likes to find the positives, but admits he is still learning when it comes to talking about racism

“Everyone thinks I am 45,” Micah Richards says as he ponders whether he has become a role model for young black footballers. The former Manchester City and England defender, forced into early retirement because of injuries, is pointing out he still makes mistakes. The 32-year-old is learning and has found that talking about racism stirs up a lot of emotions on both sides of the divide.

Richards does not pretend to have all the answers. There is a striking moment in his documentary, Tackling Racism in Football, when his father, Lincoln, talks about encountering prejudice as a young man in Britain. They had never spoken about it before.

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January 23rd 2021, 3:33 am

He shoots, he scores – or does he? How VAR changed football for ever

The Guardian

Virtual assistance for referees has drawn complaints from managers, players and fans. What has it done to the beautiful game?

When Manchester City scored a brilliant winning goal in the last seconds of a Uefa Champions League quarter-final against Spurs in the spring of 2019, at least two spectators who were present at the game abandoned watching.

Out in the stands, an overcoated City fan hurried for the exits, delighted with his last-gasp win and keen to beat the rush home. At the same time, down on the substitutes’ bench, Moussa Sissoko, a Spurs player who’d been withdrawn through injury, was so distraught that he turned his back on the game and hobbled to his dressing room alone.

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January 23rd 2021, 3:20 am

Catarina Macario opens account as USA women hammer six past Colombia

The Guardian

Longtime star Megan Rapinoe had two goals and newcomer Catarina Macario scored once as the US women’s national team defeated Colombia 6-0 on Friday in Orlando.

Related: Brazil to California to Lyon: Catarina Macario's long road to stardom

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January 22nd 2021, 9:30 pm

Cheltenham host Manchester City with joy, fear and a bar to change in | Ben Fisher

The Guardian

FA Cup chance for League Two club with family ties to a City legend and a club secretary who also acts as stretcher-bearer

Cheltenham were the first name pulled from the plastic cauldron as Peter Crouch channelled Rod Stewart by exuberantly diving into the FA Cup balls, but they hope to make a lasting impression when Manchester City visit Gloucestershire in the fourth round on Saturday.

Pep Guardiola’s side will change in a carpeted supporters’ bar named after the former Cheltenham defender Jamie Victory, who lived the club’s journey from the Southern League to League Two, and to shower City players will take it in turns to exit on to the touchline and skedaddle down the tunnel in a towel and flip-flops.

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January 22nd 2021, 7:16 pm

'Irreplaceable' Kevin De Bruyne out for up to six weeks for Manchester City

The Guardian

Pep Guardiola has admitted Kevin De Bruyne is close to irreplaceable but wants Manchester City to draw on team “charisma” to make up for the absence of the midfielder, who has been ruled out for up to six weeks.

De Bruyne suffered a hamstring injury in Wednesday’s win over Aston Villa and will be unavailable for up to 10 games. These include matches against their title rivals Liverpool and Manchester United, and the Champions League last-16 opening leg at Borussia Mönchengladbach.

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January 22nd 2021, 7:16 pm

Vitinha's wonder strike edges Wolves past battling Chorley

The Guardian

The lowest-ranked side remaining in this season’s FA Cup can certainly say they exited with their heads held high. A wonder-strike from Portuguese midfielder Vitinha ultimately booked Wolves’ place in the fifth round of the competition and a tie against either Southampton or Arsenal, but not before a spirited effort from National League North side Chorley pushed their Premier League counterparts to their limit on a bitterly cold night in Lancashire.

Chorley, in the fourth round of the Cup for the first time in their history after victories against three league sides already, and having not faced top-flight opposition in competitive football since 1900, looked set for a straightforward exit from the competition after 12 minutes, when Vitinha’s long-range effort put Wolves into an early lead. But, much to their credit, the non-league side battled to the very end.

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January 22nd 2021, 5:15 pm

David Beckham insists Inter Miami boss Phil Neville was appointed on merit

The Guardian

David Beckham has stressed Phil Neville has been appointed as Inter Miami head coach as he is “the right man for the job” and not because of their friendship.

Related: Phil Neville is about to discover that Inter Miami will be no beach holiday

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January 22nd 2021, 2:58 pm

Chorley v Wolves: FA Cup fourth round – live!

The Guardian

Chorley: TBC

Subs: TBC

Boot up the boombox. Chorley of the National League North have become renowned for belting out Adele in cramped dressing rooms since sending Wigan, Peterborough and then Derby’s kids packing in the Cup. Wolves may be 111 places above the sixth-tier side but the part-timers have their eyes trained on another upset. Chorley memorably beat Wolves in the first round of this competition 35 years ago and, better still, Wolves lost their last Cup meeting with non-league opponents, Luton, in 2013, a result that cost Stale Solbakken his job.

To Lancashire, then, where headteacher-cum-manager Jamie Vermiglio, whose party trick is a credible Donald Duck impression, has been rallying the troops for their biggest upset to date. “I’ve always been able to do the voice as a kid and when you go into teaching you look to have little tricks up your sleeve to get the kids on side,” Vermiglio said.

For Wolves, awkward Cup competitions mean two things: a rare outing for John Ruddy, who was superb en route to promotion three years ago, and pre-match gripes about the playing surface at Victory Park. The now infamous Chorley groundsman Ben Kay, who slept on the pitch the night before their third-round win over Derby’s youngsters to ensure the game went ahead – and boiled kettles of water to pour on to the boggy ground – has again been working overtime.

“We’re going to find a pitch that is not in the best conditions,” said Nuno Espirito Santo. “We already had photos taken of the pitch and we know that the FA have made an effort to try and preserve the pitch by covering. We have to adapt to it.”

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January 22nd 2021, 1:59 pm

Hank Aaron, baseball's longtime home run leader, dies aged 86

The Guardian

Hank Aaron, who endured racist threats with stoic dignity during his pursuit of Babe Ruth’s home run record and gracefully left his mark as one of baseball’s greatest all-around players, died Friday. He was 86.

The Atlanta Braves, Aaron’s longtime team, said he died peacefully in his sleep. No cause was given.

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January 22nd 2021, 12:42 pm

Does Frank Lampard genuinely deserve to be fired right now? | Barney Ronay

The Guardian

It’s easy to make the case he has been overpromoted at Chelsea – but a more interesting question is whether he has failed

Why do people want Frank Lampard to fail so much? This seems like a reasonable question at the end of a week tickled and teased by rumours that Lampard is about to be sacked at Chelsea, that “elements” within the dressing room are already jimmying away at his fixings – all wrapped up in a gleeful surge of postmortems, pile-ons, and a tangible hunger for the great Roman to whirl his terrible scythe.

And yet he still stands! No doubt to the anguish of many watching from the sidelines. Because people really do want Lampard to fall short, and in a way that feels personal. Not to mention – on the balance of the facts – a little premature.

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January 22nd 2021, 12:27 pm

Doncaster's Andy Butler: 'I was willing to step into the police force last summer'

The Guardian

Defender was set for a career change until Rovers stepped in and combines managing their women’s team with playing for the men

Had things turned out differently Andy Butler could have had a collar number and been on duty for South Yorkshire police this weekend but after returning to Doncaster Rovers in September his uniform remains familiar. Without a club last summer, Butler was set for a career change but instead of patrolling the streets, on Saturday he will take on West Ham in the FA Cup fourth round hoping to safeguard the Doncaster defence. “I had a literacy exam, then had to do fitness exams and a bleep test but then Doncaster asked me for a trial and I had to put that on hold,” he says. “Luckily, it’s gone pretty well.”

Related: When Wolves were trounced 3-0 by non-league Chorley in the FA Cup

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January 22nd 2021, 9:08 am

Joe Biden's gender discrimination order offers hope for young trans athletes

The Guardian

Order delivers incremental win for athletes seeking to participate as their identified gender in high school and college sports

Joe Biden’s first day in office delivered an incremental victory for transgender athletes seeking to participate as their identified gender in high school and college sports.

Related: Joe Biden to focus on economic recovery after Covid as 17.5m vaccine shots given in US – live

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January 22nd 2021, 9:08 am

FA Cup fourth round, transfer latest and Zidane's Covid positive – live!

The Guardian

With Liverpool struggling and Manchester United still to convince most that they could go all the way, surely the door is wide open for Manchester City.

This doesn’t help though...

BREAKING

Kevin De Bruyne will be out for 4-6 weeks with a hamstring injury pic.twitter.com/ycsC1qTVd3

Jürgen Klopp is now speaking to the press ahead of Sunday’s FA Cup showdown with Manchester United. Words coming shortly.

Liverpool’s form looks horrible but it’s not unprecedented in the Klopp era. Back in 2017, they had this run from January 2 to February 4:

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January 22nd 2021, 8:53 am

Chess: Carlsen starts well but slows while little-known Swede impresses

The Guardian

World champion admits to errors after four grinding draws as Nils Grandelius surprises world No 5, Maxime Vachier-Lagrave, at Wijk

Magnus Carlsen launched his campaign at Tata Steel Wijk aan Zee, the “chess Wimbledon” in style as the world champion elegantly defeated the rising star Alireza Firouzja, 17, by an imaginative attack.

Then the script went awry, as Carlsen’s next four results were all grinding draws against lower ranked opponents, while his limelight was stolen from an unexpected quarter.

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January 22nd 2021, 7:39 am

Japan dismisses 'categorically untrue' stories that Tokyo Olympics are doomed

The Guardian

The Japanese government has vehemently denied a story that it has privately concluded that this summer’s Olympic and Paralympic Games in Tokyo are doomed, calling them “categorically untrue”.

Sources at the International Olympic Committee have also told the Guardian that they are still planning for a “full Games” in July, despite the spiralling number of Covid-19 cases in Japan and across the globe. They also dismissed a Times report that said that government officials had resigned themselves to cancelling the Olympics and were instead hoping a wave of sympathy would help Tokyo secure the 2032 Games.

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January 22nd 2021, 7:39 am

Conor McGregor eyes Nurmagomedov rematch before UFC 257 return

The Guardian

Conor McGregor has told Khabib Nurmagomedov “the world knows this war is not over” as he hinted at a future confrontation if his long-standing rival avoids a rematch.

The pair’s storied grudge escalated when Nurmagomedov retained his UFC lightweight title by forcing McGregor to tap in the fourth round of their October 2018 bout, after which a post-fight melee involving both combatants ensued. McGregor has made it known he would relish a chance to avenge the loss, but Nurmagomedov announced his mixed martial arts retirement last October after extending his perfect professional record to 29-0 by defeating Justin Gaethje.

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January 22nd 2021, 5:06 am

NFL conference championship picks: Brady v Rogers, and a Chiefs shock

The Guardian

Two decorated veterans face off at Lambeau Field, while the best of the next generation play in Kansas City. Who makes the Super Bowl?

What the Buccaneers need to do to win: Surprisingly for two quarterbacks who have ruled the NFL for much of the century, there isn’t a lot of history to go on between Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers – this will be only their fourth meeting as starters. Brady won their previous game, a 38-10 beatdown in Week 6 of this season, when the defense harried Rodgers all day, sacking him five times. Rodgers, who has been mostly flawless since, is unlikely to be bullied again though. So Tampa Bay may have to beat the Packers in a shootout, hoping their formidable offensive weapons all click at once. That will put pressure on backup Bucs guard Aaron Stinnie, who made his first ever NFL start against the Saints last week (and did pretty well).

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January 22nd 2021, 4:24 am

'A punch in the face': Klopp takes blame as Burnley rip up Anfield record

The Guardian

Jürgen Klopp shouldered the blame for Liverpool’s first league defeat at Anfield since April 2017, which he described as a “massive punch in the face”, and admitted it would be “silly” to talk about retaining the title now.

The defending champions’ 68-match unbeaten home run was ended by Ashley Barnes, whose penalty secured Burnley a first win at Anfield in 47 years. It left Liverpool without a win in five league games and having failed to score since the draw with West Brom on 27 December.

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January 21st 2021, 8:49 pm

Burnley storm Anfield fortress to shatter Liverpool's 68-game record

The Guardian

After 68 games, 55 wins, 13 draws and almost four years, fortress Anfield has finally been stormed. Burnley were the only team to take points off Liverpool at home last season.

Now they added a still greater distinction, Ashley Barnes’s late penalty making them the first team since Crystal Palace in April 2017 to take three points here in the Premier League.

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January 21st 2021, 5:50 pm

Liverpool v Burnley: Premier League – live!

The Guardian

Liverpool make three changes to the side that drew 0-0 at home to Manchester United. Joel Matip returns from injury, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain comes into the midfield, and Divock Origi is given a rare start up front. Mohamed Salah and Roberto Firmino drop to the bench, while captain Jordan Henderson isn’t in the squad at all. Georginio Wijnaldum is captain for the evening, at least until James Milner comes on.

Burnley make two changes to the team that went down 1-0 at West Ham. Charlie Taylor and Dwight McNeil replace Erik Pieters and Johann Gudmundsson.

Liverpool: Alisson, Alexander-Arnold, Matip, Fabinho, Robertson, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Thiago, Wijnaldum, Shaqiri, Mane, Origi.
Subs: Milner, Firmino, Salah, Jones, Minamino, Tsimikas, Phillips, Kelleher, Neco Williams.

Burnley: Pope, Lowton, Tarkowski, Mee, Taylor, Brady, Westwood, Brownhill, McNeil, Wood, Barnes.
Subs: Cork, Gudmundsson, Peacock-Farrell, Stephens, Rodriguez, Pieters, Bardsley, Vydra, Long.

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January 21st 2021, 2:35 pm

'Once in a lifetime': Alcoyano rock Real Madrid as worlds collide | Sid Lowe

The Guardian

A shock for the ages provided the happiest night in the life of what, right now, might be the saddest city in Spain

“Javi Antón is crying,” said Vicente Parras, and he wasn’t the only one. The manager of Club Deportivo Alcoyano looked across the pitch at El Callao with its whitewashed walls, “Morale” splashed alongside the little blue door in the corner and saw his players still on the grass long after the final whistle. Some of them held white shirts, most of them held phones. “They’re all out there calling home,” he said: endless messages and dozens of conversations starting the way his had a few minutes before. Parras’s son couldn’t come to the game; no one could. “I just wanted to make sure he had seen it,” he admitted.

Not all of them had. José Juan Figueiras’s wife and his daughter were in tears when he called overwhelmed by it all, but his five-year-old son was in bed, asleep. It was late and he had school tomorrow; he’d have to find out what had happened in the morning, just what his dad had done, why everyone was suddenly talking about him. What had happened was this: tiny Alcoyano, the club that had not been in the first division for 70 years and were now in the semi-professional third tier with its 102 teams and 10 groups, had just beaten the biggest of them all, knocking Real Madrid out of the Copa del Rey. With 10 men, no fans and in extra-time.

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January 21st 2021, 11:18 am

Arteta turns focus to Arsenal signings after shedding unwanted players

The Guardian

Arsenal’s mini purge of unwanted players has left them free to make additions this month according to Mikel Arteta, who says they are active in the market.

Arteta would not comment on suggestions Arsenal are competing with Real Sociedad for the loan signing of Martin Ødegaard, the Real Madrid playmaker, but confirmed he plans to bring players in before the transfer window closes on 1 February.

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January 21st 2021, 9:58 am

Players and clubs threatened with ban if they join European Super League

The Guardian

Fifa and all six of football’s continental confederations have issued an emphatic joint rejection of any moves towards major clubs forming a breakaway European Super League, saying such a venture would not be ratified by any governing body.

The statement, made by the presidents of Fifa and Uefa, Gianni Infantino and Aleksander Ceferin, and those of the other five international confederations, says that because none of them would endorse such a league, any players and clubs that did participate in it would effectively be football outlaws.

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January 21st 2021, 9:00 am

'Our futures are at stake': sport's climate crisis weakness and how to change it

The Guardian

Athletes don’t want to be accused of hypocrisy but the changing environment is already impacting many sports

For a sector of society so adept at harnessing communities, cities, even entire countries, sport is strangely weak at empowering action on the issue which matters most. Perhaps the pace of sport, the relentless rotation of preparing, travelling and performing, restrains us from stopping, breathing and thinking about the existence of sport as we know it.

Having globe-hopped for 25 years, reporting on Olympics, Paralympics, World Cups and tennis grand slams, I know I’ve taken sport for granted. When it stops – rain delay, postponement, pandemic – we notice. At other times, it’s just there. Silly games, essentially, for escapism and entertainment.

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January 21st 2021, 8:01 am

IOC chief declares 'there is no plan B' and that Tokyo Olympics will go ahead

The Guardian

International Olympic Committee president Thomas Bach declared on Thursday that the Tokyo Olympic Games will go ahead as scheduled this year, reiterating that there is “no plan B” in place.

“We have, at this moment, no reason whatsoever to believe that the Olympic Games in Tokyo will not open on 23 July in the Olympic stadium in Tokyo,” Bach told Kyodo News in an interview just days ahead of the six-month countdown toward the games.

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January 21st 2021, 8:01 am

Cristiano Ronaldo's enduring sway gives Juventus and Pirlo timely lift | Nicky Bandini

The Guardian

The pressure on Andrea Pirlo’s team to deliver in the Supercoppa had been intense. Juve’s talisman carried out the delivery

Andrea Pirlo used to love winding up Gennaro Gattuso. In his autobiography, the now Juventus manager described his former teammate as “my favourite target … despite the fact that he tried on numerous occasions to kill me with a fork”. Pirlo recalled bursting out of Gattuso’s wardrobe to scare him in the middle of the night and stealing his phone to message a Milan director with an offer to swap his sister for an improved contract.

It is one thing to tease, though, and another to defeat. If Pirlo derived any additional pleasure from claiming the first trophy of his managerial career at Gattuso’s expense on Wednesday night, then he did a good job of hiding it. “I feel sorry for him,” Pirlo confessed after steering Juventus to a 2-0 victory over Napoli in Italy’s Supercoppa. “But we are doing a different job now to the one that we had before. It was important for me to bring home the win.”

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January 21st 2021, 6:15 am

Euro 2020: Uefa 'thinking about' switching tournament to one country

The Guardian

Uefa’s president, Aleksander Ceferin, is weighing up whether to stage the European Championship in one country this summer rather than across the continent as planned, according to the Bayern Munich CEO, Karl-Heinz Rummenigge.

The tournament, still titled Euro 2020, is scheduled to start on 11 June in 12 cities across Europe but Rummenigge said the concept was dreamed up before the Covid-19 outbreak.

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January 21st 2021, 5:15 am

Tara LaRosa: the worrying case of MMA's 'Proud Girl'

The Guardian

The former professional fighter has been a prominent figure at far-right events but has faced abuse from the same people she runs with

On 14 November 2020, thousands of President Trump’s supporters flocked to the nation’s capital for a “Million Maga March” in support of the then-president and his baseless claims that the presidential election had been rigged. Among those who gathered were the Proud Boys, a far-right hate group known for violent confrontations with left-wing demonstrators.

Dressed in their characteristic Fred Perry polo shirts with hipster beards and short, close-cropped haircuts, the Proud Boys made their presence known as they vandalized historically Black churches and trashed the Black Lives Matter Plaza. By evening, clashes erupted in downtown DC between the Proud Boys and counter protestors, while the police attempted to separate the two sides.

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January 21st 2021, 5:15 am

'He can do everything': Solskjær praises Pogba after Manchester United win

The Guardian

Ole Gunnar Solskjær paid tribute to Paul Pogba after the France midfielder helped restore Manchester United to the top of the Premier League at Fulham.

Related: Paul Pogba pummels Manchester United to pinnacle after Fulham fright

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January 20th 2021, 8:07 pm

Paul Pogba helps to send Manchester United to pinnacle after Fulham fright

The Guardian

On a sodden, freezing Wednesday night in west London Manchester United came from behind to claim a fiercely-fought 2-1 win against an impressive, resilient Fulham team.

The result leaves United top of the Premier League table, and extends to 17 matches their unbeaten away run, equalling the all-time club record. Best of all it arrived thanks to a moment of the highest quality from Paul Pogba, who was a quietly majestic presence in midfield.

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January 20th 2021, 5:36 pm

Silva and Gundogan send Manchester City top as Aston Villa rue luck

The Guardian

This was a breathless affair for which an abacus was needed to keep count of the endless chances created. Manchester City created most of these in a blur of activity close to Emiliano Martínez’s goal and when Aston Villa were finally breached on 79 minutes it was deserved.

Tyrone Mings dallied, Rodri mugged him, the effervescent Bernardo Silva received the ball, swerved away from a clutch of defenders, then fired in a memorable strike.

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January 20th 2021, 4:07 pm

Fulham v Manchester United: Premier League – live!

The Guardian

Jonathan Wilson has plotted a path to glory for United.

Related: Solskjær's United still can't beat the best sides … but that might not matter | Jonathan Wilson

Ole’s been bullish in pre-match.

Related: Ole Gunnar Solskjær says Manchester United's position is down to 'hard work'

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January 20th 2021, 2:36 pm

'World is a crazy place': Klopp accuses Liverpool critics of lacking patience

The Guardian

Jürgen Klopp has claimed a lack of patience is fuelling criticism of Liverpool’s four-game run without a Premier League win, with the manager stating “the world is a crazy place”.

Klopp did admit his team have not progressed from last season when they were champions. Since beating Crystal Palace 7-0 on 19 December Liverpool have drawn three matches and lost one, scoring only once. This has meant a five-point lead has slipped, and they start Thursday’s game at home to Burnley in fourth place.

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January 20th 2021, 1:21 pm

Manchester City v Aston Villa: Premier League – live!

The Guardian

Manchester City make three changes to the team sent out to batter Crystal Palace 4-0 on Sunday. Phil Foden, Rodri and Joao Cancelo come in; Gabriel Jesus, Fernandinho and Oleksandr Zinchenko drop to the bench.

Aston Villa’s last fixture was the FA Cup tie against Liverpool. They were forced to send out the whippersnappers for that one, so let’s look back to the New Year’s Day match at Old Trafford instead. Just the one change to the team that was unfortunate to go down 2-1: Ross Barkley comes in for Anwar El Ghazi, who is named today as a sub.

Manchester City: Ederson, Walker, Stones, Dias, Joao Cancelo, De Bruyne, Rodri, Gundogan, Bernardo Silva, Sterling, Foden.
Subs: Gabriel Jesus, Zinchenko, Steffen, Torres, Mendy, Fernandinho, Mahrez, Garcia, Bernabe.

Aston Villa: Martinez, Cash, Konsa, Mings, Targett, Douglas Luiz, Barkley, Traore, Grealish, McGinn, Watkins.
Subs: Heaton, Taylor, Nakamba, El Ghazi, Engels, Guilbert, Elmohamady, Davis, Ramsey.

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January 20th 2021, 12:23 pm

Lampard's Chelsea lack an identity or plan – the job looks too big for him

The Guardian

Patience is wearing thin among club hierarchy, who are entitled to expect more than a series of tactically incoherent displays

The trouble with hiring a novice is becoming impossible for Chelsea to ignore. Half a season has drifted by and a side assembled at great expense shows no sign of developing an identity. Although Frank Lampard was handed more than £200m to spend last summer, the job is starting to look too big for him. Craftier managers are exposing flaws too easily. Brendan Rodgers was the latest to teach Lampard a painful lesson in strategy on Tuesday and 19 games into a fraught campaign Chelsea are entitled to expect more than a series of tactically incoherent displays.

Patience is wearing thin within the corridors of power. The sense is of the walls closing in on Lampard after his team’s defeat by Leicester, whose discipline, precise movements and rapier counterattacks highlighted the benefits of having an experienced manager. While Rodgers had Leicester playing with nous and purpose, Chelsea were devoid of a plan from front to back. The blame for that lies with one person.

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January 20th 2021, 12:04 pm

Novak Djokovic says 'misconstrued' letter was written with 'good intentions'

The Guardian

Novak Djokovic has defended his “good intentions” after receiving intense criticism for providing Tennis Australia with suggestions on how to improve player conditions and ease some of the protocols in their hotel quarantine.

After the complaints from players in the first days of their hotel quarantine in Melbourne, Djokovic addressed players in their WhatsApp group before sending a list of suggestions to Tennis Australia’s CEO, Craig Tiley.

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January 20th 2021, 10:51 am

Philip Rivers retires from NFL after 17 seasons to 'coach high school football'

The Guardian

Philip Rivers, one of the most prolific quarterbacks of the modern NFL era, has announced his retirement after 17 seasons in the league.

“I can sit here and say, ‘I can still throw it. I love to play,’” Rivers told the San Diego Union-Tribune. “But that’s always going to be there. I’m excited to go coach high school football.”

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January 20th 2021, 9:50 am

Leicester go top, Lampard feels the heat and Milan march on – Football Weekly

The Guardian

Max Rushden is joined by Nicky Bandini, Lars Sivertsen, Philippe Auclair and Sid Lowe to discuss the midweek round of Premier League fixtures, plus updates from Italy, Spain and France

Rate, review, share on Apple Podcasts, Soundcloud, Audioboom, Mixcloud, Acast and Stitcher, and join the conversation on Facebook, Twitter and email.

Max Rushden is joined by Nicky Bandini, Lars Sivertsen, Philippe Auclair and Sid Lowe to discuss the mid-week round of Premier League fixtures, plus updates from Serie A, La Liga and Ligue Un.

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January 20th 2021, 9:50 am

Ten transfer targets for Premier League clubs from across Europe

The Guardian

Premier League clubs should look to Germany, France and Spain before the transfer window closes on 1 February

By Martin Laurence for WhoScored

It’s been a quiet transfer window so far, but things tend to ramp up before deadline day. With the purse strings understandably tighter than usual, it is especially important for clubs to find value this month. We’ve picked out a handful of players who are making names for themselves across Europe. Some of them are already on the radars of Premier League clubs – and the rest perhaps should be.

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January 20th 2021, 9:04 am

Justin Thomas sorry for homophobic slur and gets Rory McIlroy's support

The Guardian

A remorseful Justin Thomas has reflected on his “humiliating” and “embarrassing” homophobic outburst upon missing a recent putt on the PGA Tour. Ralph Lauren, one of Thomas’s main sponsors, announced last week it has ended its relationship with the golfer because of the incident.

Thomas, minus shirt branding, will compete in the European Tour’s Abu Dhabi Championship this weekend. Speaking at length for the first time about his offensive comment at the Tournament of Champions, the 27-year-old did admit he hoped to maintain his Ralph Lauren connection. The company, clearly, had other ideas.

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January 20th 2021, 7:48 am

'I can handle the pressure,' says Lampard after Chelsea lose again at Leicester

The Guardian

Frank Lampard shrugged off questions about his managerial future after Chelsea were beaten 2-0 at Leicester, their fifth defeat in eight league matches.

“I can’t get caught up in what the reaction will be because I’d be sitting here all day concerned about it,” said Lampard of suggestions that time is running out for him to show improvement at Chelsea. “I’m not the only manager to be put under this pressure but the good thing for me is I’m good at handling pressure.”

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January 20th 2021, 7:48 am

Brazil to California to Lyon: Catarina Macario's long road to stardom

The Guardian

The playmaker left home at the age of 12 to pursue her soccer career. Now she has signed with the most successful club in the women’s game

It has been a week to remember for Catarina Macario, the Brazilian-born, San Diego-bred midfielder who for years has been touted as the future of the US women’s national team but at the moment appears increasingly bound to its present.

Three months after receiving her American citizenship, the 21-year-old playmaker wept tears of joy with her family last Wednesday after receiving confirmation from Fifa of her approval to represent the four-time world champions in international play. The paperwork was finalised a day after Macario signed a contract to start her professional career with European champions Lyon, forgoing her senior season at Stanford University. Then on Monday night, she cut the figure of a polished veteran while making her USA debut in a 4-0 friendly win over Colombia at Orlando’s Exploria Stadium.

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January 20th 2021, 6:18 am

Hero, villain or troll? Kyrie Irving remains the NBA's oddest genius

The Guardian

To some the Brooklyn Nets guard is an entitled conspiracy theorist. To others he is a superstar millionaire with a conscience

Midway through the feature film Uncle Drew, the titular character confronts the coach who lured him and his over-the-hill teammates out of retirement and into a basketball tournament at New York City’s famed Rucker Park. Feeling conned into cooperating for the love of the game while a $100,000 winner’s prize went purposefully unmentioned, Uncle Drew flips his totally convincing wig. “You just don’t get it, do you, Young Blood,” he says. “This game, the love I got for it – it’s all sacred to me.” Looking back, it was a hell of an acting job by Kyrie Irving.

It has been two weeks since the 28-year-old All-Star guard was last seen in uniform for the Brooklyn Nets. That’s counting the Barclays Center dates against Orlando last Saturday and against Milwaukee on Monday, which saw former league MVP James Harden back up his axis-tilting trade out of Houston with 66 points and 26 boards in a pair of Nets wins. “Personal reasons” was the line Irving offered up as cover for his extended leave, which ended on Tuesday. And in these quote-unquote unprecedented times, only a monster would have thought to challenge him on it. Or at least that was until a maskless Irving was caught on video celebrating his sister’s birthday at a packed New Jersey nightclub last week.

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January 20th 2021, 5:32 am

Phil Neville is about to discover that Inter Miami will be no beach holiday

The Guardian

The former Manchester United player will take the reins at a club establishing itself on the field, and grappling with challenges off it

On Monday morning, Inter Miami announced that Phil Neville would step down from his role as manager of the England women’s team to take the helm at the MLS club. The club, co-owned by Neville’s former teammate David Beckham, played their first season in MLS amid the tumultuous backdrop of 2020, and will look to Neville to turn the team into a force to be reckoned with in the seemingly ever-expanding league.

In his first statement as Miami manager, Neville described Inter as a “very young club with a lot of promise and upside”. But if he expects his new job to be all beach days and sunshine, he is in for a shock.

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January 20th 2021, 4:32 am

WNBA says sale of Atlanta Dream from under ex-senator Kelly Loeffler is 'close'

The Guardian

The Atlanta Dream are close to being sold, ending defeated Republican senator Kelly Loeffler’s contentious stint as a WNBA owner.

“As it relates to the Atlanta Dream, we understand a sale of the franchise is close to being finalized,” the league said in a statement. “Once the sale negotiation is concluded, additional information will be provided.”

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January 20th 2021, 3:32 am

Mesut Özil: the galáctico who became symbolic of Arsenal's decline

The Guardian

The Germany international was supposed to elevate the club when he joined from Real Madrid but he left with no fanfare

There was a first-day-of-school feeling around Arsenal’s training ground when their squad returned from the September 2013 international break. They had a star in their midst and the sense was one of genuine elation. Mesut Özil’s arrival was a show of intent quite out of keeping with the half-decade that preceded it: this seemed the turning of a page and, with that in mind, the players snapped and crackled their way through the morning’s drills.

“It was a complete buzz,” says a senior staff member from that time, who worked with Özil on a daily basis and saw him quickly forge instinctive understandings with fellow schemers such as Santi Cazorla and Tomas Rosicky. “All of a sudden you get a big one coming in, and you felt something was happening again. You could see things forming. There was a real electricity among everyone; you felt something was coming.”

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January 20th 2021, 3:32 am

Leicester go top of Premier League after Ndidi and Maddison cut down Chelsea

The Guardian

Leicester climbed to the top of the Premier League by skilfully exposing the shortcomings of Chelsea. Frank Lampard was hardly thankful for the lesson, as this latest defeat, his team’s fifth in their last eight league matches, gives ammunition to the critics who insist he is not the manager to fulfil Chelsea’s grand ambitions. Calls for him to be replaced will intensify.

Brendan Rodgers, meanwhile, can take pride in his team, who outwitted and outfought the visitors. Goals by Wilfred Ndidi and James Maddison earned a deserved win for the hosts.

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January 19th 2021, 5:42 pm

Sarah Thomas to become first woman to officiate at Super Bowl

The Guardian

Sarah Thomas will cap her sixth NFL season by becoming the first female to officiate the Super Bowl in the league’s history.

Thomas, a down judge, is part of the officiating crew announced Tuesday by the NFL.

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January 19th 2021, 5:24 pm

Leicester City v Chelsea: Premier League – live!

The Guardian

12 min: Chelsea’s heads are addled. Chilwell and Mendy hesitate over a ball that rolls slowly towards the Chelsea box. Mendy is reluctant to come out and get it, but Chilwell, back on his old stomping ground, freezes. Mendy is forced to hack clear. The ball is intercepted by Tielemans, and Chelsea are very fortunate that the Leicester midfielder wastes the opportunity to advance on goal with a poor pass upfield.

11 min: Maddison whips a dangerous corner into the mixer. Abraham is on point to send the ball away from danger.

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January 19th 2021, 3:42 pm

Annika Sorenstam defends accepting award from Donald Trump

The Guardian

An unrepentant Annika Sorenstam has defended her right to receive the presidential medal of freedom from Donald Trump in a ceremony held a day after the riotous mobs invaded the US Capitol.

Sorenstam and Gary Player were afforded recognition with the former’s appearance especially controversial given her recent appointment as the president of the International Golf Federation. That body, responsible for golf at the Olympics and Paralympics, has a stated aim of securing the “enjoyment of the rights and freedoms among its competitions and members without discrimination of any kind, such as race, colour, gender, sexual orientation, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status.” Sorenstam claims to have had “overwhelming support” from the IGF.

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January 19th 2021, 3:12 pm

Tokyo Olympic Games unlikely to go ahead, says London 2012's Sir Keith Mills

The Guardian

Sir Keith Mills, the deputy chairman of the London Organising Committee for the 2012 Olympic Games, is dubious the delayed Tokyo Olympics will take place.

The Tokyo organisers and the International Olympic Committee are adamant the Games will start in July despite a fresh wave of infections sweeping the globe.

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January 19th 2021, 2:40 pm

West Ham v West Brom: Premier League – live!

The Guardian

35 mins: Lanzini takes it, curling the ball over wall and bar.

34 mins: Antonio goes sprawling on the edge of the West Brom area after Ajayi tries and fails to nick the ball off his toes, and West Ham have themselves a tasty set-piece-based shooting chance.

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January 19th 2021, 1:41 pm

Missing Russian-American climber Alex Goldfarb found dead in Pakistan

The Guardian

A Russian-American climber who went missing last week while trying to scale a mountain amid harsh winter weather in northern Pakistan has been found dead, the region’s tourist police and the Alpine Club of Pakistan said on Tuesday.

The tourist police in the town of Gilgit made the announcement on Twitter, saying Alex Goldfarb went missing on Friday while he was trying to summit the Pastore Peak, not far from K2, the most prominent peak on the Pakistani side of the Himalayan range, and the world’s second tallest after Mount Everest.

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January 19th 2021, 11:24 am

Football transfer rumours: Chelsea to move early for Erling Braut Haaland?

The Guardian

Today’s fluff is dusting down its war chest

If in doubt, spend spend spend. If you can. Roman Abramovich has more moolah than most and it seems Chelsea want to reinforce their attacking resources even further with an eye-catching summer swoop for Erling Braut Haaland. According to the Athletic, the Borussia Dortmund star has a release clause in his contract that would allow him to leave if anyone offers €70m (£66.6m) for him but it will not become active until 2022. Yet the Blues believe rivals are currently too financially bruised by the pandemic to move for Haaland so want to get ahead of the curve this summer.

Paris Saint-Germain have stretched back in their revolving chairs and casually decided to set the hare running on the whole Lionel Messi-to-PSG thing again, with their sporting director, Leonardo, bragging to the Spanish website Sport: “We’re at the big table of those who are following this issue closely. In fact we’re not sat at this table but our chair is reserved there.”

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January 19th 2021, 7:51 am

Roberto Bautista Agut likens Australian Open quarantine to being in prison 'but with wifi'

The Guardian

Spanish tennis player Roberto Bautista Agut has likened Australian Open quarantine in Melbourne to being in prison and laid the blame solely with the Victorian government.

Frustration and confusion continues unabated in the build-up to the season’s first major, starting on 8 February, with some 72 players and staffers in lockdown in Melbourne.

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January 19th 2021, 7:51 am

Klete Keller: why did an Olympic champion invade the US Capitol?

The Guardian

The swimmer won gold medals for his country in Athens and Beijing. And then his patriotism took an ugly turn

Klete Keller was somebody, a two-time Olympic gold medallist who swam in three Games. Then he was nobody, aimless, penniless and reduced to sleeping in his car. Now he is “Person 1” in court documents, identified by the FBI as a participant in the storming of the US Capitol and charged with federal crimes.

Amid the militia gear and Maga paraphernalia on display during the 6 January riot at the heart of American government, footage shows a bearded man in the Rotunda who stands out for his height and his clothes. He wears an officially-branded jacket with a United States Olympic Team patch and USA on the left sleeve and the back.

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January 19th 2021, 7:51 am

David Squires on … an interactive football lockdown worksheet

The Guardian

Stuck inside with the kids? Here are some alternative home-schooling lessons. There’s a version to print out and colour in too

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January 19th 2021, 6:51 am

QPR's Manisha Tailor: 'I am here to work in football and offer change' | Donald McRae

The Guardian

The only South Asian Indian woman in the English professional game talks about her career and how it has helped her traumatised twin brother to speak again

“There were many times where I would go to games and of course it would be perceived that I was the physio or any role where I couldn’t possibly be the lead coach,” Manisha Tailor says as she remembers arriving at opposition grounds with her Queens Park Rangers boys’ academy teams. Tailor is now the lead foundation phase coach at QPR and she says that “being a South Asian Indian woman, and the only person of South Asian heritage, male or female, in this kind of full-time coaching role at any of the 92 clubs in English professional football is a testament to QPR”.

Yet, when she first began working as the head coach of the under-nine boys, the opposition automatically assumed she was the QPR physio. “Myself and my colleague had conversations about it,” Tailor says with a smile and a shrug. “We’d say: ‘How many times has this happened? Is it three in a row? We laugh about it but you have to be in a position to influence change. You need to be in a position where you have the qualifications – but you also need an opportunity to coach on a level playing field. I was given that at QPR but I know that there are other South Asian people, male and female, who have the qualifications to do my role. So why are so few people of colour, who have pro licences, getting opportunities to become head coaches?”

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January 19th 2021, 6:38 am

Phil Neville's tenure as England Women coach: tepid and too much arrogance | Suzanne Wrack

The Guardian

Neville exits after one World Cup semi-final, several outbursts and an arrogance not befitting a coach with such limited experience

After the longest of goodbyes the Phil Neville experiment is finally over. He leaves the England job not on the crest of a wave following major tournament success, or tail between legs having fallen short on the biggest of stages, but with a muted press release that sums up a muted and, dare we say it, tepid tenure.

As he leaves to become Inter Miami manager, five days short of his three-year anniversary, what to make of it all? There has been praise for aspects of the 43-year-old’s spell. His holistic approach and the big-game experience he had from his career as a player were perhaps his greatest strengths. His man-management was described as “world class” by his assistant Bev Priestman (who took charge of the Canada national team on 1 November last year) on the eve of England’s 2019 World Cup opener. She was backed by the right‑back Lucy Bronze, who said his relationship-building with players, fans and staff had helped England to “become a better team”.

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January 19th 2021, 3:51 am

New York Mets general manager admits sending explicit texts to female reporter

The Guardian

Mets general manager Jared Porter sent graphic, uninvited text messages and images to a female reporter in 2016 when he was working for the Chicago Cubs in their front office, ESPN reported Monday night.

Porter sent dozens of texts to the woman, concluding with a picture of “an erect, naked penis”, according to the report. ESPN said it obtained a copy of the text history.

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January 19th 2021, 2:48 am

Sam Mewis' hat-trick powers USA women in friendly win over Colombia

The Guardian

Having collected her first career hat-trick, the celebration continued for Samantha Mewis as she cheered on her big sister Kristie.

Samantha Mewis scored three goals and Kristie added another to give the United States a 4-0 friendly victory over short-handed Colombia on Monday.

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January 19th 2021, 1:17 am

David Alaba agrees to join Real Madrid on four-year contract this summer

The Guardian

David Alaba has reached an agreement to join Real Madrid on a free transfer in the summer, bringing to an end an 13-year spell at Bayern Munich. The defender will sign a four-year deal with the Spanish champions in the next few weeks.

The Austrian’s dream has always been to play for Real Madrid and he will go there having turned down approaches from, among others, Liverpool and PSG. Bayern have made three separate contract extension offers but the player had made his mind up and wanted a new challenge.

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January 18th 2021, 7:46 pm

Chelsea's forwards not yet at level of Hazard and Costa, warns Lampard

The Guardian

Frank Lampard has warned there could be tough times ahead for Chelsea in attack, saying that his young forwards remain unable to replicate the consistency of Diego Costa and Eden Hazard.

Although Chelsea returned to winning ways with a 1-0 victory over Fulham on Saturday, they lacked creativity despite playing the entire second half against 10 men. Mason Mount’s winner arrived late and there was time for Timo Werner to miss a fine chance, extending the £47m forward’s goalless run in the Premier League to 10 games.

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January 18th 2021, 6:44 pm

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang double sends Arsenal soaring past Newcastle

The Guardian

This turned into the kind of Emirates Stadium evening that had become alien to Arsenal: a regulation win, obliging opponents and a decisive contribution from their talisman. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang had not scored twice in a game since the FA Cup final but put that right in the second half, either side of a characteristically adept strike from Bukayo Saka. It means Arsenal can taste what, on recent rations, is the rarified air of the top half. Newcastle were ultimately overwhelmed and must wait to see the fruit of Steve Bruce’s much-trailed change in approach.

Related: Lionel Messi's red mist shows player lauded as deity is only human after all | Jonathan Liew

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January 18th 2021, 5:29 pm

Messi's red mist shows a player lauded as deity is really only human | Jonathan Liew

The Guardian

The first red card in his Barcelona career can be seen as the culmination of his club’s decline, and the kicking and barging he has endured for years

Exactly 90 seconds before the act of violence that will earn Lionel Messi his first red card for Barcelona, he’s standing just inside the halfway line, waiting to receive a pass.

He’s seen a gap. The sort of gap Messi has seen thousands of times before.

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January 18th 2021, 3:25 pm

Neil Lennon furious at Dubai criticism: 'You’re all wanting blood, it’s scandalous'

The Guardian

The Celtic manager, Neil Lennon, has castigated an “absolute barrage of hypocrisy” he believes is attached to criticism of his club’s ill-fated training trip to Dubai. Lennon has refused to admit the camp was an error in contrast to the comments made by Celtic’s chief executive, Peter Lawwell, last week.

Celtic have been subjected to disapproving tone – largely from their own supporters – after heading to Dubai in the immediate aftermath of a 2 January defeat against Rangers. After the centre-back Christopher Jullien tested positive for Covid-19 a further 13 players and three coaches – including Lennon – were placed into isolation. Celtic duly stuttered to home draws against Hibernian and Livingston.

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January 18th 2021, 3:13 pm

Arsenal v Newcastle: Premier League – live!

The Guardian

Our man at the match, Nick Ames, says it is freezing at the Emirates. Could this be important? No. But it will be very funny to laugh at how cold Nick is.

Maybe Andy Carroll is playing in the hope he can repeat this ...

A towering header from @AndyTCarroll back in 2010.

For more memorable wins at Arsenal

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January 18th 2021, 2:27 pm

Kyrgios hits out at Djokovic over Covid-19 demands before Australian Open

The Guardian

Nick Kyrgios has joined the former Davis Cup player Sam Groth in criticising Novak Djokovic after the world No 1 reportedly wrote to Australian Open organisers asking them to ease quarantine restrictions for players.

Related: Some Victorians in Sydney allowed to return home as Daniel Andrews rejects tennis players' demands

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January 18th 2021, 2:12 pm

Women's Super League: talking points from the weekend's action

The Guardian

Players must learn lesson after damaging Dubai trip while Chelsea top WSL after beating Manchester United

It has been a difficult few weeks for the WSL amid the fallout from some players going on a trip to Dubai during the winter break. The trip resulted in positive Covid tests for a number of returning players, leading to games being postponed, and it brought into sharp focus the fact that the spotlight is so much bigger on these players these days. This is good news in many respects and this is what we have wanted for a long time.

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January 18th 2021, 12:12 pm

Liverpool misfire again, Özil and the genius of Ndombele – Football Weekly

The Guardian

Max Rushden is joined by Barney Ronay, Jonathan Wilson, Simon Burnton and Flo Lloyd-Hughes to discuss the Premier League, Özil’s exit and the WSL. Are Manchester City the favourites for the Premier League after a fifth consecutive win and just why have Liverpool stopped scoring goals?

Rate, review, share on Apple Podcasts, Soundcloud, Audioboom, Mixcloud, Acast and Stitcher, and join the conversation on Facebook, Twitter and email.

Max Rushden is joined by Barney Ronay, Jonathan Wilson, Simon Burnton and Flo Lloyd-Hughes.

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January 18th 2021, 11:27 am

Solskjær's United still can't beat the best sides … but that might not matter | Jonathan Wilson

The Guardian

The 0-0 draw at Anfield on Sunday again showcased the limitations of the Manchester United manager yet they are still very much in the title race

What does it mean? What does any of it mean? Manchester United’s 0-0 draw at Liverpool on Sunday means they remain top of the Premier League table one game before they reach their halfway point, but they’ve now played each of the other Big Six sides, plus Leicester whose consistency over the past five years perhaps affords them associate membership of that group, and they haven’t beaten any of them. Is that a title challenge? Perhaps it is, but it wouldn’t be in anything resembling a normal season.

Related: Manchester United stay top after taking point in tense tussle with Liverpool

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January 18th 2021, 7:36 am

Athletics has banned 196 dopers since 2017. There's a lesson here for other sports | Sean Ingle

The Guardian

Track and field takes doping seriously, banning 66 Olympic and world medallists since the Athletics Integrity Unit’s launch in 2017

And still the headlines come. On Thursday the Rio Olympic 100m hurdles champion, Brianna McNeal, was provisionally suspended and could face an eight-year doping ban for “tampering”. The week before, the 2017 long jump world champion Luvo Manyonga was suspended and could face a four-year ban for whereabouts violations. Both cases are yet to be prosecuted, and the usual caveats about being innocent until proven guilty apply, but the message is increasingly clear. Track and field is a sport which takes anti-doping seriously.

Related: Brianna McNeal, Olympic 100m hurdles champion, could face eight-year ban

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January 18th 2021, 7:36 am

Phil Neville steps down as head coach of England Women with immediate effect

The Guardian

Phil Neville is to step down as head coach of England Women with immediate effect, the Football Association has confirmed.

Neville, who was appointed in January 2018, originally announced last April that he would move on this summer. However, the former Manchester United and Everton defender has been approached by MLS side Inter Miami and is now expected to be unveiled as their new manager.

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January 18th 2021, 6:54 am

Antonio Conte outsmarts Andrea Pirlo in great leap forward for Inter | Nicky Bandini

The Guardian

Internazionale outclassed Juventus on Sunday night in a 2-0 victory to strike a significant blow in the title race

It was a weekend that promised fireworks. Lazio against Roma on Friday night, and Inter hosting Juventus on Sunday: a derby that defines Italy’s capital city, leading into a game that has long been billed as the Derby d’Italia – a derby for all of Italy.

Related: Premier League: 10 talking points from the weekend action

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January 18th 2021, 6:54 am

Klopp concedes Liverpool face top-four fight after Manchester United stalemate

The Guardian

Jürgen Klopp defended his misfiring champions after Liverpool failed to knock Manchester United off their Premier League perch but admits his side now face a battle to stay in the top four.

The front three of Mohamed Salah, Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mané endured an off-day as Klopp’s men could not break down United at Anfield. It was Liverpool’s third successive league match without a goal.

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January 18th 2021, 4:24 am

Amid uncertainty and upheaval, LeBron shows us what an American should be | Kareem Abdul-Jabbar

The Guardian

Watching LeBron motivate his teammates beyond their limits makes him the best on the court, but it’s his commitment to the disillusioned and disenfranchised that truly sets him apart

Winning an NBA championship is nothing new for the Los Angeles Lakers. They have been in the finals a record 31 times since winning the title on their first trip in 1950, and they tied the Boston Celtics with 17 championships after seeing off the Miami Heat on Sunday night. But those are just statistics for superfans to rattle off over steaming pizza or a trivia question on a soggy napkin in a sports bar. Championship playoffs are much more than naked numbers – each has its own unique personality, its own significance to the players and fans, and its own impact on American culture. The game is never “just a game”. For those who think sports are merely mindless entertainment somehow separate from the Sturm und Drang of the world around, you haven’t been paying attention lately. Sports have always been a mirror of national values reflecting all the same struggles and turmoil. This year’s championship series is especially meaningful because, although it took place during one of the most politically and socially chaotic and world-bending times in recent history, in many ways, it was an expression of the finest qualities of America – both on and off the court.

Related: LA Lakers steamroll Miami Heat to capture record-tying 17th NBA title

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January 18th 2021, 4:24 am

Tom Brady and Drew Brees both battled time on Sunday. Guess who won?

The Guardian

Two future hall of fame quarterbacks faced off in the Superdome this weekend. One of them, as he always has, simply refused to lie down

The first time Tom Brady and Drews Brees met on a football field was 2 October 1999. TLC’s Unpretty was hogging the top spot on the Billboard 100. Y2K was hot on the mind.

It was fitting, then, that the first and likely only playoff meeting between the two, now with a combined age of 85, delivered the most old-school matchup of the weekend. The game was billed as Tom Brady v Drew Brees, two future hall of fame quarterbacks at the end of their respective runs. Instead, we were treated to a classic bout of January football, all run games and defense and turnovers.

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January 18th 2021, 4:24 am

Premier League: 10 talking points from the weekend action

The Guardian

Ole Gunnar Solskjær takes a leaf out of Fergie’s book, Mason Mount channels vintage Lampard and Wolves’ woes go on

There has been recent evidence that Ole Gunnar Solskjær’s adherence to the lessons learned at Sir Alex Ferguson’s feet was wavering. His Manchester United have lately shown something of their own identity, but here Solskjær used a classic Fergie blueprint. Even when United were far superior to Liverpool, Anfield was where the old master’s team would sit deep and try to score on the counter, or from set pieces. It is not difficult to imagine unsung players like Scott McTominay and Fred being handed a Ferguson detail of sweeping up the bits and pieces in midfield in the mould of a Phil Neville or Quinton Fortune. There was to be no unlikely goalscoring hero in the mould of a John O’Shea, Diego Forlan or Gary Pallister. Instead, Sunday will be recalled in future for Anfield’s emptiness, a match endured rather than enjoyed. And Ferguson, even during his imperial period, would probably have been happy with a point. John Brewin

• Match report: Liverpool 0-0 Manchester United

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January 18th 2021, 3:54 am

Messi sent off as Athletic Bilbao sink Barcelona to win Spanish Super Cup

The Guardian

The moment that ultimately won this match, if it could be reduced to just one among so many, was like the last frame of a comic strip.

It’s 2-2 in extra time in the Super Cup and the team made up entirely of local boys have twice come from behind against the biggest team of all, somehow making it this far thanks to an improbable last-minute equaliser. The ball then falls at the feet of the striker who joined them as a kid and is playing in his 167th consecutive game. From the edge of the area, an implausible position, he hits an unstoppable shot which flies through the air, and rockets into the net.

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January 17th 2021, 9:18 pm

US Figure Skating Nationals 2021: Nathan Chen and Bradie Tennell light up Las Vegas

The Guardian

Nathan Chen and Bradie Tennell reasserted their places at the summit of American figure skating at the US Figure Skating Championships in Las Vegas

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January 17th 2021, 7:32 pm

Chiefs overcome loss of Mahomes to beat Browns in playoff thriller

The Guardian

The Kansas City Chiefs had lost Patrick Mahomes to a concussion and were in danger of losing the game.

Then their defense and Chad Henne kept their Super Bowl hopes alive with a 22-17 victory over the Cleveland Browns that advanced them to the AFC championship game.

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January 17th 2021, 6:48 pm

Trailblazing college football kicker Sarah Fuller invited to Biden inauguration

The Guardian

Sarah Fuller, the first woman to score in the Power Five conferences, the elite level of college football, says she’s been invited to attend President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration on Wednesday.

“It’s an honor to be invited to participate in one of America’s greatest traditions,” Fuller posted Sunday on social media.

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January 17th 2021, 5:33 pm

John Stones double sinks Crystal Palace as Manchester City close gap at top

The Guardian

Like a champion racehorse Manchester City are timing their title challenge perfectly, this win moving them into second with 35 points, two behind Manchester United with a game in hand.

This cruise of a victory over Crystal Palace was their fifth in-a-row in the league and City can take over as leaders if they beat Aston Villa here on Wednesday though with United playing Fulham later in the evening it may be temporary.

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January 17th 2021, 4:32 pm

Jürgen Klopp’s tepid attack is feeling ripple effects of a drained defence | Barney Ronay

The Guardian

Last year’s free-scoring champions were blunted by Manchester United but all blame does not lie with Mohamed Salah and co

Of course it was nil-nil. Liverpool came to Anfield for the most spiteful, razor-edged derby in elite-level English football having scored in their last 42 Premier League home games. They took to the field without a single specialist central defender against a free-scoring Manchester United. The week had been shot through with hopeful talk of title charges, Judgment Days and the usual final countdown waffle.

At which point, welcome to the more mannered world of Covid-era football, a stage show that is required to generate its own pulse and where players are asked to alchemise from the empty air the kind of heat and fire that tends to make the difference in a game like this.

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January 17th 2021, 4:32 pm

Manchester United stay top after taking point in tense tussle with Liverpool

The Guardian

Manchester United remain on top of the Premier League table, with a three-point advantage over Liverpool, as the season approaches its halfway stage. It is a state of affairs that would have felt utterly ludicrous as recently as early October, when they were losing 6-1 at home to Tottenham, and even now will cause a few eyebrows to travel skywards.

Ole Gunnar Solskjær, the manager, admitted during the week that his team had “not really set the world alight too many times.” They continued the trend at Anfield, wanting primarily to be difficult to beat, and yet they will reflect upon having not one but two glorious opportunities to secure a smash-and-grab victory over their fiercest rivals.

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January 17th 2021, 2:02 pm

Manchester City v Crystal Palace: Premier League – live!

The Guardian

Robert Lin emails: “It’s just squad rotation, City play again on Wednesday, he’ll be back in the starting 11 then.”

I am not sure he needs to be rotated at the moment, he is finding his best form in midfield and is the man who is making City tick. Also, there are no guarantees he will be back on Wednesday.

Foden is back on the bench, which will not please the City fans who are desperate to see the midfielder become a mainstay of their midfield. His recent outings have been very impressive, so to leave him out is a little bit odd from Guardiola.

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January 17th 2021, 2:02 pm

Tanguy Ndombele's moment of magic caps Spurs win at Sheffield United

The Guardian

Back in July, Tottenham’s players turned in a no-show at Bramall Lane that came to be seen as a turning point in José Mourinho’s reign. This time they beat Sheffield United by the same scoreline that caused all that summer soul-searching and will hope it has the same transformative effect. The game will be best remembered for an exquisite piece of improvisation by Tanguy Ndombele, who nipped United’s attempt at a comeback in the bud with a 62nd-minute goal that will bear replaying over and over.

It might also go down as the afternoon on which Spurs remembered how to put an away game to bed, even if the Blades are a shadow of the team that overwhelmed them last season and are doomed for a warp-speed relegation. Serge Aurier and Harry Kane gave them their first two-goal lead on the road in three and a half months, appearing to make the game safe before half-time. While David McGoldrick gave them fleeting cause for concern they were quickly settled by Ndombele’s moment of brilliance and, at least for a couple of hours, find themselves three points off the top.

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January 17th 2021, 11:11 am

Liverpool v Manchester United: Premier League – live!

The Guardian

“Hello Rob,” says Neil Carter. “Ole obviously resting Bailly and Cavani today for the tougher games ahead?”

Afternoon Gary.

“While having Hendo at the back feels as incongruous as singing Cardi B’s WAP in a Yorkshire accent,” begins Ian Copestake. “I trust in Klopp and whatever he has been drinking that has finally enabled him to see the Shaq. This can’t fail but be a snow-dusted cracker (unless it ain’t snowing).”

I think it’s the best option in the circumstances. Liverpool will want to bully United and pin them back. If they can’t do that with a defence comprising two central midfielders and the best attacking full-backs in the world, they never will.

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January 17th 2021, 10:58 am
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