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Maria Sharapova unsure if she will return to Australian Open after early exit

Sport | The Guardian

Maria Sharapova offered no guarantees that she will be back at the Australian Open after a first-round defeat against Donna Vekic on Tuesday. Ongoing shoulder problems limited Sharapova to a handful of tournaments last year and her ranking is projected to drop to world No 366 as a result of the 6-3, 6-4 loss to the 19th-seeded Croatian.

Sharapova needed a wildcard to play at Melbourne Park, where she won the title in 2008, and had good recent memories having reached the fourth round last year, beating defending champion Caroline Wozniacki.

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January 21st 2020, 6:43 am

Solskjær insists Liverpool defeat shows Manchester United are ‘on right track’

Sport | The Guardian

• Manager saw signs that team are making ‘strides forward’
• Solskjær refuses to bite on Gary Neville criticism

Ole Gunnar Solskjær has refused to engage with Gary Neville’s criticism of Ed Woodward, the manager instead pointing to the “strides forward” made by Manchester United in Sunday’s defeat at Liverpool.

Neville, a former club captain, described Woodward’s player recruitment as “unforgiveable” in a vociferous attack on the executive vice-chairman after the 2-0 loss at Anfield, in which Mo Salah scored the late second goal.

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January 21st 2020, 6:43 am

Buy a classic sport photograph: penny farthing racing

Sport | The Guardian

The latest in a Guardian Print Shop series featuring classic sports images from the likes of Gerry Cranham, Mark Leech and Tom Jenkins – yours to own for just £55 including free delivery

Imagine the perils of riding a penny farthing at high speed while wearing only a crude helmet. Suffice it to say, they were known as “boneshakers” for good reason. With front wheels which measured up to two metres in diameter, skilled riders could reach speeds up to 20mph if they pedalled furiously, but they risked “taking a header” or “coming a cropper” – being thrown unceremoniously over the moustache handlebars. Penny farthings were most popular in the late 19th century, prior to the advent of bicycles with link chains, and were ridden during many of the early one-hour distance records. This amusing image from London’s Herne Hill cycling track was actually shot by Gerry Cranham in 1963, as riders recreated the thrills of yesteryear.

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January 21st 2020, 6:43 am

David Squires on … the resurrection of Nigel Pearson at Watford

Sport | The Guardian

Our resident cartoonist recalls the myths and legends surrounding Watford’s renascent manager

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January 21st 2020, 6:43 am

Steve Borthwick leaving England post to become Leicester head coach

Sport | The Guardian

• England No 2 joins Leicester Tigers at end of season
• Geordan Murphy moving to the role of director of rugby

Leicester have announced Steve Borthwick is to become their head coach at the end of the season with Geordan Murphy moving to the role of director of rugby.

Borthwick will leave his post as No 2 to Eddie Jones before the July tour to Japan, meaning the Guinness Six Nations clash with Italy on March 14 will be his final game with England.

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January 21st 2020, 5:55 am

How NFL running back Justin Jackson became an unexpected star of the left

Sport | The Guardian

The Los Angeles Charger is focused on his game during the season. Beyond that, he dreams of a Bernie Sanders presidency

Even in an era of anthem protests and White House boycotts, there is something about Justin Jackson that feels like a new mold for the politically energized athlete.

Jackson, a running back for the Los Angeles Chargers, has spent the first two years of his NFL career operating in a reserve role in one of the deepest backfields in the league. But in the most left-wing corners of Twitter, Jackson has become an overnight star, trucking over centrist Democrats and neoliberals with a zeal usually accompanied by a rose emoji.

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January 21st 2020, 5:55 am

Australian Open 2020: Tsonga, Boulter, Kyrgios and Halep in action – live!

Sport | The Guardian

Second set: Elina Svitolina 6-4 6-5* Katie Boulter: Svitolina gets herself back on track with aplomb, sealing a hold to 15 by forcing a Boulter error with a slick forehand down the line. The pressure returns to the shoulders of the Brit as she serves to stay in the match.

Second set: Elina Svitolina 6-4 *5-5 Katie Boulter: Katie Boulter does indeed hold to level the match. Just more vicious hitting from the Brit - a huge forehand crosscourt winner brought her to 40-15 and then she held with a 112mph ace down the T. It doesn’t get much better than that. Now it is for Svitolina to respond.

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January 21st 2020, 3:21 am

Talking Horses: Faugheen leads Willie Mullins' Dublin Festival contenders

Sport | The Guardian

Mullins’ son and assistant, Patrick, runs the rule over their stable’s Leopardstown contenders with Cheltenham looming

Trials day at Cheltenham on Saturday will kick off three consecutive weekends of Grade Ones and prep races ahead of the Festival meeting in March, and while Gordon Elliott has several entries at Prestbury Park this weekend, the focus of his great rival, Willie Mullins, is squarely on the Dublin Racing Festival at Leopardstown on 1 and 2 February.

“It’s very important to us with regard to the trainers’ championship,” Patrick Mullins, the trainer’s son and assistant, said. “It’s a huge weekend, so while we’re thinking of Cheltenham [in March], all of ours will be going there ready to win. You could also argue that there a slight advantage to Leopardstown not getting as bottomless like some other tracks, and so horses don’t have as hard a race.”

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January 21st 2020, 1:50 am

Johanna Konta bundled out of Australian Open by Ons Jabeur

Sport | The Guardian

Johanna Konta, delayed by rain on day one, was hurried out of the 2020 Australian Open on day two when the Tunisian world No 78, Ons Jabeur, dominated the British No 1 almost from start to finish to win 6-4 6-2 in just over an hour.

Konta, still troubled by a long-term knee injury, had to save an early break point, and was on the back foot for most of the first set as Jabeur moved impressively into her groundstrokes, hitting deep and wide.

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January 20th 2020, 9:16 pm

Australian Open 2020: day two - live!

Sport | The Guardian

Rod Laver Arena: Up first we have possibly the battle of the round with big-serving second seed Karolina Pliskova taking on the dangerous Kristina Mladenovic. After that, wildcard Maria Sharapova will be up against it when she takes on 19th seed Donna Vekic. By mid-afternoon it will be time for world number one Rafael Nadal to strut his stuff against Bolivian outsider Hugo Dellien.

Check out the schedule for Rod Laver Arena on Day 2.#AusOpen | #AO2020 pic.twitter.com/gAB9ydRgGv

And Margaret Court Arena #AusOpen | #AO2020 pic.twitter.com/ClPnBZvUU6

Hello everybody and welcome to live coverage of day two of the year’s first grand slam. We’ll be around here to cover the day session at Melbourne Park before handing over to a separate liveblog for all the action under lights.

After yesterday’s rain we’re in for an action-packed session with play getting underway on the outside courts at 10.30am to begin the process of making up lost time. The headline acts hit the show courts at 11am.

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January 20th 2020, 6:44 pm

Pep Guardiola: scrap the League Cup for the sake of English football

Sport | The Guardian

• Manchester City boss says harsh schedule is causing injuries
• ‘Less games, less competitions, more quality, less quantity’

Pep Guardiola believes the League Cup should be dispensed with for the good of English football. The Manchester City manager says teams are currently overburdened by the hectic schedule and has pointed to the recent injuries picked up by Harry Kane and Marcus Rashford as evidence that the relentless workload during the season’s winter months is more than players can physically bear.

Guardiola has won the League Cup in two of his three full seasons at City, and his side lead Manchester United 3-1 after the first leg of this year’s semi-final, yet he is of the opinion the competition does more harm than good.

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January 20th 2020, 6:44 pm

Beating Chelsea is essential for Arsenal’s top-four hopes, says Mikel Arteta

Sport | The Guardian

• Manager says his challenge is to inspire more consistency
• Arteta admits ‘possibility’ there will be no January signings

Arsenal’s ambitions of mounting a late bid for the Champions League places are on the line at Stamford Bridge on Tuesday and Mikel Arteta admits three points against Chelsea, followed by a sustained run of good form, are necessary if their hopes of turning a fraught season around are to be maintained.

Ten points lie between Chelsea, in fourth, and Arteta’s 10th-placed side. The head coach, whose only defeat during a month in charge has been a damaging 2-1 home reverse to the same opponents on 29 December, knows an extension of that gap would in effect kill off their top-four chances. But he also believes the present situation provides room for optimism.

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January 20th 2020, 5:57 pm

Eddie Jones to gather England squad for peace talks over Saracens furore

Sport | The Guardian

• Coach wants club rivalries quashed ahead of Six Nations
• ‘We need everything on the table. If players are angry, say’

Eddie Jones will hold clear-the-air talks with his England squad to try and reduce the impact of the Saracens salary cap furore on the national team’s Six Nations prospects. Jones will gather his players together in Portugal on Thursday and tell them to resolve any issues that might disrupt team harmony prior to their opening game in France, a week on Sunday.

All kinds of questions currently hang over Saracens’ England contingent following the confirmation their club will be relegated to the Championship at the end of this season. Owen Farrell, Maro Itoje, Mako Vunipola, Jamie George and Elliot Daly are all England regulars and Jones does not want the forthcoming campaign to be undermined by the continuing fallout from north London or any lingering bitterness among rival clubs.

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January 20th 2020, 5:15 pm

Review of Premiership salary cap will consider improving transparency

Sport | The Guardian

• Lord Myners will look at making public reports of cap breaches
• Saracens’ review head says ‘public has a right to know’

The former business minister Lord Myners will consider whether Premiership Rugby’s salary cap procedures should become more transparent, and if reports such as the damning one into Saracens’ multiple breaches should be made public, as part of his review into the working of the cap.

Related: Nigel Wray’s gold rather than an ideology paved The Saracens Way to success | Jonathan Liew

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January 20th 2020, 5:15 pm

Chelsea harness power of the collective to blow open WSL title race

Sport | The Guardian

Emma Hayes’ Chelsea produced moments of magic to beat Arsenal but most impressive was their unyielding unity

It is rare to see a complete team performance but Chelsea’s 4-1 demolition of Arsenal on Sunday was just that. Most of the focus before the game was on the battle of the superstar strikers, Sam Kerr and Vivianne Miedema, but in the end it was the collective that was decisive.

Miedema struggled to find room throughout, with Chelsea working relentlessly to cut off her supply, Ji So-yun, Guro Reiten, Erin Cuthbert and the indomitable Sophie Ingle harrying two of the league’s most creative players in Jordan Nobbs and Kim Little.

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January 20th 2020, 4:27 pm

Pass masters Barcelona deliver first glimpse of the Setién manifesto | Sid Lowe

Sport | The Guardian

Against Granada it was very Setién. It was also very Barcelona, in a move driven by nostalgia, but with a glimpse of the future

Nine hundred and ninety-eight … 999… 1,000. And still it went. Jordi Alba played the ball to Riqui Puig, who played it to Sergi Busquets, who played it to Arthur Melo, who played it to Sergi Roberto, who played it to Gerard Piqué. Who, finally halted on 100, didn’t get the chance to play it to anyone else. Half an hour before his first game as coach of Barcelona, Quique Setién had sat on the bench alongside his assistant Éder Sarabia, empty seats rising around them, still barely able to believe they were here, and silently contemplated the players – his players – warming up with a ball at their feet. Two and a half hours later, standing now, collar turned up against the cold, when the final whistle went it was still there.

“I’ve seen some of the things I wanted,” Setién said afterwards and others had too, although not all of them. Above all, he had seen the thing he says all players want and always have, right back to the playground: the ball. Barcelona won 1-0 on his debut against Granada but there were other numbers that occupied everyone. Piqué was one of four players to reach 100 passes, 98 of them accurate. Rakitic had only been two away from making it five; Lionel Messi was seven away. Puig had played more passes than all of Granada’s players – and he had only been on the pitch 22 minutes. Busquets had played more than all of them put together. His 157 was a record this season.

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January 20th 2020, 3:44 pm

Nigel Wray’s gold rather than an ideology paved The Saracens Way to success | Jonathan Liew

Sport | The Guardian

From the Champions League to Test cricket to Team GB: where money flows, success often follows. But as a country we don’t really like to talk about that

In September and October last year, with what we now have to say is slightly unfortunate timing, Saracens issued a series of short videos to commemorate the 10-year anniversary of “The Saracens Way”, the cultural transformation that is said to have turned them into one of the most irresistible forces in the history of English club rugby union.

“The Saracens Way, quite simply, is the club,” Will Fraser beams into the camera. A former flanker who retired through injury, Fraser now sells Brand Saracens to a bulging catalogue of corporate clients. For a competitive day rate, including lunch and refreshments, Fraser and a current Saracens player or coach will instil in your company the cornerstones of the Saracens winning ethos: cultural change, strong values, an emphasis on happiness and making memories. “If we create good people,” Fraser explains, “we create good rugby players.”

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January 20th 2020, 3:44 pm

Nabil Bentaleb has Newcastle medical after agreeing Premier League return

Sport | The Guardian

• Former Spurs midfielder set to join on loan from Schalke
• Inter’s Lazaro also a target; Willems and Dummett out for season

The Algeria international Nabil Bentaleb had a medical at Newcastle United on Monday afternoon ahead of a loan move from Schalke until the end of the season.

Bentaleb is surplus to the requirements of Schalke’s manager, David Wagner, and the 25-year-old former Tottenham midfielder is keen to return to England. Bentaleb swapped Spurs for the Bundesliga in February 2017 but has not featured for Schalke since March 2019 when, due to disciplinary issues, he was removed from the first-team squad.

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January 20th 2020, 3:44 pm

For Manchester United the gulf to Liverpool is cause for major concern | Jonathan Wilson

Sport | The Guardian

United have just been well beaten by a Liverpool side 30 points ahead of them. They are sleepwalking towards mediocrity

Liverpool are brilliant. They are top of the league by 16 points with a game in hand and will probably have the title wrapped up by the end of March. And yet at the same time, while acknowledging how preposterous it is to offer any criticism of a side that has taken 64 points from 22 games this season, there must be a sense that of late they’ve become a little bit sloppy.

In their past two league games, against Tottenham last week and then against Manchester United at Anfield on Sunday, they have come extremely close to drawing games they have dominated almost entirely. Giovani Lo Celso and Anthony Martial both missed extremely presentable chances to make it 1-1. In both games Liverpool ended up under pressure in the final 10 minutes – on Sunday at least until Mohamed Salah added a second on the break deep in injury time. Tottenham they had broadly held at arm’s length, in a performance of great control; United they had pummelled for roughly a third of each half. And yet in each two points could have slipped from their grasp.

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January 20th 2020, 3:44 pm

Defiant Eddie Jones still believes England can be world’s best team | Michael Aylwin

Sport | The Guardian

England head coach set to rebuild with new faces after painful World Cup final defeat and recent Saracens scandal

How else to reintroduce himself to his public? The last time we saw Eddie Jones he was ruing defeat in a World Cup final, denied, at the last, his stated aim of four years earlier to turn England into the best team in the world.

Since then, English rugby has been consumed by just about the most spectacular scandal of its twisted history, erupting high into the firmament behind him, consuming seven of the squad he had just named and a further three of the squad he had taken to that World Cup final. Jones threw his arms wide, his grin even wider, and boldly proclaimed his latest aim: to turn England into The Greatest Rugby Team The World Has Ever Seen.

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January 20th 2020, 3:44 pm

South Africa’s Faf du Plessis set to retire from international game this year

Sport | The Guardian

• Final Test against England will be captain’s last on home soil
• Du Plessis to play T20 World Cup and in West Indies Test series

Faf du Plessis, the South Africa captain, has indicated he will walk away from international cricket this year after admitting this week’s final Test against England in Johannesburg is set to be his last on home soil.

Related: England thrash South Africa by an innings and 53 runs to take 2-1 lead

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January 20th 2020, 2:45 pm

Jessica Judd savages Ukad over reluctance to release Mo Farah samples

Sport | The Guardian

• British runner warns athletics ‘is dying drug-fuelled death’
• Ukad will not hand over samples without ‘credible evidence’

The British athlete Jessica Judd has warned athletics “is dying a drug‑fuelled death” as the row over whether UK Anti-Doping should hand over Mo Farah’s blood and urine samples to the World Anti-Doping Agency for retesting rumbles on.

Judd, who represented Britain over 5,000m at the 2019 world championships in Doha, tweeted that she was embarrassed by the Ukad chief executive, Nicole Sapstead, saying she would not hand over Farah’s samples to a Wada investigation into the Nike Oregon Project without “credible evidence” they contained banned substances.

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January 20th 2020, 12:56 pm

Mike Dean's 500, silly saves and when corner flags attack – Football Weekly

Sport | The Guardian

Max Rushden, Barry Glendenning, Barney Ronay and Flo Lloyd-Hughes discuss a big save at Carrow Road, Rashford’s woes, Pope v Pickford, Bonny v Clyde, flying corner flags and a Mike Dean milestone

Join the conversation on Facebook, Twitter and email.

We take a look back at the weekend’s football, starting with Norwich’s 1-0 win over Bournemouth, a huge result at the bottom of the Premier League.

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January 20th 2020, 11:42 am

FA dismisses charge against Mark Sampson over alleged racist remark

Sport | The Guardian

• Accusation of remark in Stevenage transfer meeting not proven
• Former England Women manager is a coach at League Two club

The Football Assocation has dismissed a misconduct charge against Mark Sampson after an allegation that the Stevenage first-team coach made racially discriminatory remarks was found not proven by an independent disciplinary commission.

Sampson is understood to be hugely relieved by the outcome of what he maintained was a “malicious” claim and Stevenage’s chairman, Phil Wallace, said he was “delighted” but “unsurprised” by a ruling which lifts the lid on the acrimony surrounding the dismissal of the club’s former manager, Dino Maamria, and his goalkeeping coach, Ali Uzunhasanoglu.

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January 20th 2020, 11:42 am

Joe Root says world No 1 Test ranking is back in England’s sights

Sport | The Guardian

• ‘It won’t happen overnight but that’s the journey we are on’
• England will rise to No 4 with victory in Friday’s fourth Test

Joe Root says England are targeting becoming the No 1 team in the world following a crushing innings-and-53 run win in the third Test against South Africa.

This victory in Port Elizabeth was the first time England had won an overseas Test by an innings since beating Australia at Sydney in January 2011. That team, led by Andrew Strauss, went on to reach No 1 in the Test rankings later that year.

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January 20th 2020, 10:25 am

Ashleigh Barty lifts spirits on rough Australian Open day for home players

Sport | The Guardian

Ashleigh Barty survived a first-set stumble to storm to an Australian Open first round win over Lesia Tsurenko.

The world No 1 responded in ruthless fashion after losing the first set against the Ukrainian, running away with a 5-7, 6-1, 6-1 victory at Rod Laver Arena. Barty, 23, who is bidding for her first title at Melbourne Park, was the only Australian to book a victory in a rain-interrupted day one.

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January 20th 2020, 9:39 am

‘The reality is I am an addict’ – Hamilton Academical manager opens up on gambling problem

Sport | The Guardian

• Brian Rice reports himself to Scottish FA for breach over betting
• SFA to consider sanctions on 30 January

The head coach of Hamilton Academical, Brian Rice, has reported himself to the Scottish FA for a breach of their betting rules and admitted a lapse in his recovery from a gambling addiction. The SFA has charged Rice for bets placed on football – which is prohibited – between July 2015 and October 2019.

Rice and the Scottish Premiership club’s chief executive Colin McGowan took the highly unusual step of issuing detailed statements as news of the charges emerged. Hamilton have vowed to fully support Rice, who was appointed as their manager last January. Prior to that, the 56-year-old was the assistant manager at Inverness and St Mirren.

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January 20th 2020, 9:39 am

Erling Braut Haaland gatecrashes again to haul Dortmund out of mire | Andy Brassell

Sport | The Guardian

The Norwegian became the Bundesliga’s second-youngest hat-trick scorer, and the first substitute to score three times

It felt like a regular, gentle Sunday morning in Brackel, the district to the east of the centre where Borussia Dortmund train. The reserve team trained and senior squad strikers Paco Alcácer and Erling Braut Haaland joined them, to get an extra few miles in their legs. Midfielder Julian Weigl, who recently joined Benfica, dropped in to say hello, bringing a gift of his shirt from his new club for his friend Axel Witsel, with the former now wearing the No 28 that the latter also wore in his own spell at Estádio da Luz nine years back.

Just as Weigl had gone from tempest to tranquillity, stepping out of his first Lisbon derby on Friday night, so had his old teammates. Their Sunday morning might have felt like a slightly jarring change of gear, but then again very little about Dortmund’s first game back after the Winterpause made sense.

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January 20th 2020, 8:39 am

Eight passes, 0 TDs. Could Jimmy Garoppolo's Super Bowl path have been any easier?

Sport | The Guardian

The San Francisco 49ers quarterback wasn’t terrible in the NFC championship game. But the strength of his supporting case meant he had very little to do

When the 49ers kneeled for the final time on Sunday, officially launching themselves to a Super Bowl berth after a 37-20 annihilation of Green Bay, Levi’s Stadium shook with joy. Kyle Shanahan threw down his headset and hugged every warm body in sight, the players’ families swarmed the field, and red and gold confetti rained down until there was barely a blade of visible grass left on the field. Running back Raheem Mostert celebrated his 220 yards and four touchdowns, and also the fact that he has found such an idyllic home after being cut by six other teams. The defensive backs pranced knowing they had mostly neutralized Aaron Rodgers. Then there was Jimmy Garoppolo, whose smile was as big as anyone’s despite the fact that he could have read a Dostoevsky novel for much of this game and the result would have been unchanged. Garoppolo produced virtually nothing in the NFC Championship because he didn’t have to.

“We were running the hell out of the ball tonight. It made my life very easy. It was a fun night,” said Garoppolo with his signature grin.

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January 20th 2020, 8:08 am

Jack Nowell dropped from England’s squad for Six Nations

Sport | The Guardian

• Exeter wing one of 10 absentees from recent World Cup
• Ben Earl among those competing to replace Billy Vunipola

England have dropped Jack Nowell from their squad for the Six Nations, one of 10 absentees from the recent World Cup.

Nowell played for Exeter in Saturday’s Champions Cup victory over La Rochelle but is excluded from the 34 names picked by Eddie Jones for the 2020 Championship. Also missing from the 32 players who helped England reach the World Cup final are Jack Singleton, Mark Wilson, Dan Cole, Billy Vunipola, Henry Slade, Piers Francis, Joe Cokanasiga, Ben Spencer and Ruaridh McConnochie, Jack Nowell.

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January 20th 2020, 7:36 am

‘Punishment is not proportionate’ – Saracens fans lick their wounds | Ian Malin

Sport | The Guardian

Nervy win over Racing 92 took champions into quarter-finals but Allianz Park atmosphere was darkened by off-field troubles

A quarter of a century ago, when Nigel Wray began investing in Saracens, the club played on a public recreation ground in the north London suburbs and before matches the mess from dogs that had been walked on the pitch during the week had to be cleared up. The European champions now play on a swish plastic pitch in Barnet but the whiff from the biggest scandal in English rugby history has engulfed the club.

Wray has now gone, although the benefactor was in the stand at Allianz Park on Sunday behind a pair of dark glasses that could have been a disguise but were actually needed because of the strong winter sun. Their Champions Cup game against Racing 92 could have to all intents ended their season. As it is, their nervy 27-24 victory put Saracens on course for a trip to Dublin to meet Leinster, a side unbeaten this season, in the quarter-finals.

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January 20th 2020, 7:08 am

Talking Horses: how to judge the BBC's relationship with racing?

Sport | The Guardian

Criticised for its coverage and the exit of Cornelius Lysaght, the Corporation’s relationship with the sport is coming into focus

The BBC’s waning interest in racing was highlighted both inside and outside the sport’s media over the weekend. On Saturday, Andy Dunn, the chief sports writer for the Daily and Sunday Mirror, took to Twitter to complain that Radio 5 Live’s sports report “did not carry a line” about the day’s racing during his drive home after covering the day’s early Premier League game at Watford. “What a shame they have simply ditched the sport,” he concluded, a thought which was echoed by Matt Hughes, his counterpart at the Daily Mail. “Desperate,” Hughes said. “Champion Hurdle and Gold Cup trials today – not a word on the BBC website.”

Driving home from Watford today, @5liveSport Sports Report did not carry a line about today’s horse racing. Looking at BBC website right now, the horse racing section leads with a story about Frodon’s win … at Kempton A WEEK ago. What a shame they have simply ditched the sport

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January 20th 2020, 7:08 am

Social media and video games really can hurt players’ decision-making | Sean Ingle

Sport | The Guardian

Study of footballers in Brazil shows spending time on a smartphone or console before a game causes mental fatigue

Could spending too much time on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram affect a footballer’s performance? Manchester United appear to think so. One report before their trip to Anfield claimed the club were “consulting leading experts” about how to help their stars deal with the negative mental effects of social media and also suggested there were concerns that players were suffering dips in form as a result of being abused online.

Some may suggest the players should just “man up”. But scientists are increasingly scrutinising how mental fatigue – the lack of energy we feel from long periods of purely cognitive activity – can influence sporting performance, often with startling results.

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January 20th 2020, 5:34 am

England thrash South Africa by an innings and 53 runs to take 2-1 lead

Sport | The Guardian

England have won the third Test after a commanding display in Port Elizabeth to take a 2-1 series lead before the fourth and final Test in Johannesburg next week. South Africa were bowled out for 237 after being made to follow-on and slumped to a heavy defeat by an innings and 53 runs.

Related: South Africa v England: third Test, day five – live!

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January 20th 2020, 5:23 am

Coco Gauff beats Venus Williams again in stunning Australian Open debut

Sport | The Guardian

Coco Gauff shone on her Australian Open debut on Monday as she knocked Venus Williams out of the first round in a repeat of her stunning victory over the seven-times Grand Slam champion in the Wimbledon opener last year.

With the 15-year-old Gauff now a top 100 player – and 39-year-old Venus having been a doubt for the tournament with a hip injury – it was far less of a surprise to see the teenager come through 7-6 (5) 6-3 under the roof on Margaret Court Arena.

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January 20th 2020, 3:22 am

Australian Open 2020 day one: Barty v Tsurenko, Djokovic in action and more – live!

Sport | The Guardian

Here is Kevin Mitchell’s report from Melbourne after Dan Evans recovered from two sets down to defeat Mackenzie McDonald and seal his very first slam win as a seeded player. Evans will hope that there is more to come.

Related: Dan Evans fights back from brink to reach Australian Open second round

Hello! Welcome to our coverage of the first night session of the 2020 Australian Open. It has already been a busy day with wins for Naomi Osaka, Serena Williams, Roger Federer, Caroline Wozniacki and more, another victory for Coco Gauff over Venus Williams, one significant upset in 13th seed Denis Shapovalov’s four set loss to Marton Fucsovics and rain washing out most of the day session.

But now it is time for the main event as Australia’s Ashleigh Barty finally returns to her home slam as French Open champion and world number one. She will face a difficult first round against Ukraine’s Lesia Tsurenko, whose current ranking of 120, largely thanks to a long injury layoff, belies the fact that she was ranked in the top 25 this time last year. Novak Djokovic will follow her on Rod Laver Arena against Jan-Lennard Struff, another capable opponent. Elsewhere, Stefanos Tsitsipas, Sloane Stephens and Samantha Stosur are also in action. We are all very thankful for those three roofs.

Related: Australian Open 2020: day one - live!

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January 20th 2020, 2:52 am

South Africa v England: third Test, day five – live!

Sport | The Guardian

Sky’s broadcast commences, with confirmation that it is, for now, cloudy, breezy and dry. Then Nasser Hussain lays into South Africa’s lamentable performance against England’s spin yesterday.

Weather update: it looks like we should have a dry morning, at the very least, but would be lucky to have an entirely dry day.

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January 20th 2020, 2:52 am

Dan Evans fights back from brink to reach Australian Open second round

Sport | The Guardian

The British No 1, Dan Evans, is through to the second round of the Australian Open, but he had to come from two sets down before seeing off the world No 129 Mackenzie McDonald. It took the vastly improved Birmingham player three hours and 21 minutes to beat the one-time American prodigy, 3-6, 4-6, 6-1, 6-2, 6-3, on an outside court packed with vocal but nervous British fans.

Elsewhere, the first shock of the tournament saw the exit of the talented 13th seed Denis Shapovalov, the only player to threaten to walk off court if the air quality was considered hazardous (it was classed “near perfect” on Monday). Losing his composure under sustained pressure, he chose another route home to Canada when Marton Fucsovics, the world No 67, stayed cool to score a rare big win, 6-3, 6-7 (9), 6-1, 7-6 (3) on Margaret Court Arena.

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January 20th 2020, 12:01 am

Lisa Ashton creates history as first woman to win PDC Tour card

Sport | The Guardian

• Women’s world No 1 claims 12th and final spot
• Ashton can now compete on full PDC circuit

Lisa Ashton has become the first woman to win a PDC Tour card at the qualifying school in Wigan. The 49-year-old, who is the women’s world No 1, claimed the 12th and final spot via the Order of Merit. Ashton’s success means she has won the opportunity to compete on the PDC Tour for the next two years.

Related: Delusions, chaos and a shot at a new life at Q-School, darts’ dream factory | Jonathan Liew

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January 20th 2020, 12:01 am

Unheard-of achievement beckons as Liverpool begin their victory parade | Barney Ronay

Sport | The Guardian

If the champions of Europe win the title undefeated they will have to be recognised as the best of the Premier League era

They’re coming for you, they’re coming for you. The boys of ’99. Fergie and Eric. Andy and Dwight. Arsène, Thierry, Sergio and Pep. They’re coming for you.

So much for the league and so much for Manchester United, who were awkward opponents at Anfield, without ever feeling like much more than a bump in the road. At the end of this 2-0 victory Liverpool will have something else in their sights.

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January 20th 2020, 12:01 am

Chiefs reach their first Super Bowl since 1970 as Mahomes tames Titans

Sport | The Guardian

Patrick Mahomes tiptoed down the sideline for a game-turning touchdown, added three TD passes, and the Kansas City Chiefs made their first Super Bowl in a half-century by beating the Tennessee Titans 35-24 on Sunday for the AFC championship. In two weeks in Miami, they will play San Francisco for the title.

Mahomes did his usual superb job passing, but it was his 27-yard tap dance down the sideline late in the first-half that gave the Chiefs their first lead. From there, they outran the run-oriented Titans and star back Derrick Henry. For the first time since 1970 and the third time overall, the Chiefs are Super Bowl bound.

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January 20th 2020, 12:01 am

Raheem Mostert runs Packers ragged as 49ers reach Super Bowl

Sport | The Guardian

Raheem Mostert rushed for 220 yards and four touchdowns to make quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo mostly a spectator, Nick Bosa harassed Aaron Rodgers from the start and the San Francisco 49ers beat the Green Bay Packers 37-20 for the NFC championship on Sunday.

The 49ers advanced to their first Super Bowl in seven years and will play the Kansas City Chiefs in two weeks in Miami for the championship.

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January 19th 2020, 10:17 pm

NFC championship game: Green Bay Packers v San Francisco 49ers – live!

Sport | The Guardian

To Miami!

Andy Reid is heading to his second Super Bowl and he’s taking the Kansas City Chiefs with him after their 35-24 victory over the Tennessee Titans. Read all about it right here:

Related: Chiefs reach their first Super Bowl since 1969 as Mahomes tames Titans

The Last time

In case you were wondering just how bad that thrashing was just eight weeks ago, here, see for yourself. It was pretty bad. Aaron Rodgers was hit 10 times and sacked five. Meanwhile, the Niners , who were missing Breida, shredded Green Bay defense with Jimmy G making just 20 throws, racking up over 250 yards with two touchdowns and zero picks.

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January 19th 2020, 6:14 pm

Australian Open 2020: day one - live!

Sport | The Guardian

Rod Laver Arena: What a line-up for the opening morning of the grand slam season - defending champion Naomi Osaka followed by living legends Serena Williams and Roger Federer. All will be expect to progress without alarm based on current form.

#AusOpen Order of Play - Monday January 20 -
Rod Laver Arena#AO2020 pic.twitter.com/tSmz8R3WhY

#AusOpen Order of Play - Monday January 20 -
Margaret Court Arena#AO2020 pic.twitter.com/bj7HQmdfDE

The #AusOpen is officially open! Thanks to former AO champs Marat Safin (2005) and @LDavenport76 (2000) pic.twitter.com/b1I9x790qp

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January 19th 2020, 6:14 pm

Lionel Messi gets Quique Setién’s Barcelona reign off to winning start

Sport | The Guardian

Managers come and go, but Lionel Messi remains. There were 15 minutes remaining in Quique Setién’s first game as manager of Barcelona and the tension was growing, when the Argentinian finally escaped to score the goal that prevented his opening night ending in failure.

Barcelona were closing in on 1,000 passes, but they had struggled to create clear chances until Messi, Antoine Griezmann and Arturo Vidal combined. Down on the bench, Setién celebrated. It was only 1-0 but it was enough, for now. It was a start.

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January 19th 2020, 5:44 pm

Silver Ferns beat England Roses 64-48 in first netball international of 2020

Sport | The Guardian

Coach Noeline Taurua got all players out on court in a match where NZ were without four key veterans

The Silver Ferns have beaten the England Roses netball team 64-48 in their first international of 2020.

Without retired Maria Folau and Casey Korpua, and with Laura Langman and Katrina Rore both on sabbatical, the new-look team beat an understrength Roses side in three of the four quarters to run away with the win.

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January 19th 2020, 5:11 pm

England’s Mark Wood happy with his bowling but concerned about weather

Sport | The Guardian

• Fast bowler concerned poor forecast will affect victory push
• Wood: ‘I’d be lying if I wasn’t a little bit worried’

Mark Wood said he is worried England’s hopes of winning the rain-hit third Test could be put in jeopardy by the weather on the final day.

England need four wickets to complete a victory over South Africa that would give them a 2-1 series lead heading into Fridays’s final Test in Johannesburg. South Africa ended the fourth day on 102 for six having been forced to follow on.

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January 19th 2020, 5:11 pm

Billy Vunipola’s forearm injury is headache Eddie Jones could do without

Sport | The Guardian

• Saracens scandal sure to leave mark on Six Nations
• Jones can pick players from Championship clubs

England are poised to kick off the Six Nations without Billy Vunipola after the No 8 sustained a suspected broken forearm in the opening minutes of Saracens’ Champions Cup pool win against Racing 92. Eddie Jones is also having to deal with the continuing fallout from the salary cap saga as he prepares to unveil his squad for the tournament.

Vunipola, 27, played in every game of England’s World Cup campaign but is facing another lengthy lay-off with what his club fears is his fourth fractured forearm in two years. Previously he has broken his right arm twice and his left once. “It looks like a suspected broken arm,” the Saracens director of rugby, Mark McCall, said.

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January 19th 2020, 4:11 pm

Marcus Rashford out for at least two months with double back stress fracture

Sport | The Guardian

• Injury a serious blow for Manchester United
• Striker could miss England Euro 2020 warm-up games

Marcus Rashford faces at least two months out after suffering a double stress fracture to his back.

The Manchester United and England striker sustained the injury after coming on in the FA Cup replay against Wolves.

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January 19th 2020, 2:23 pm

Barcelona v Granada: La Liga – live!

Sport | The Guardian

Quique Setien’s first Barcelona XI looks like this: Ter Stegen, Sergi Roberto, Piqué, Umtiti, Jordi Alba; Busquets, Vidal, Rakitic; Messi, Griezmann, Ansu Fati.

Barça XI#BarçaGranada

¡Vamos Barça!

⚪️ Once del #Granada vs @FCBarcelona_es. #BarçaGranada #EternaLucha pic.twitter.com/obhqUeGqrX

Hello world!

It’s a new dawn at the Nou Camp, as Quique Setién makes his managerial bow against 10th-placed Granada. Here, allow Sid Lowe to set the scene for you:

“It’s not normal to take over at a team that’s top,” Quique Setién said after the call that took him from a stroll among the cows in Liencres, Cantabria, to a job among the sacred cows at the Camp Nou. “When you’re out of work, waiting for an opportunity, you imagine a team near the bottom, in trouble,” said Barcelona’s new manager. Instead on Sunday night he will occupy his place in the dugout at a place where they have not seen their team lose for 38 games, going back more than a year – not since the last time he was there.

Ernesto Valverde lost one home game as Barcelona manager: to Setién’s Real Betis, 4-3 in November 2018. As a player Setién beat Barcelona too. In Santander some Racing fans still cling to the old, fading T-shirt that celebrated their 5-0 victory over the Dream Team in February 1995 like some religious relic. On the front is a green hand, a finger for every goal they put past Carlos Busquets, Sergio’s father, the scorer’s name at each of its tips: Esteban Torre, Jesús Merino, Dmitri Radchenko, twice, and Quique Setién.

Related: Quique Setién summons spirit of Johan Cruyff to inspire Barcelona | Sid Lowe

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January 19th 2020, 2:23 pm

AFC championship game: Tennessee Titans v Kansas City Chiefs – live!

Sport | The Guardian

Hunter will be here shortly, in the meantime, here’s our preview of today’s game:

What the Titans need to do to win: Ummm, avoid blowing a 24-0 lead? The Titans should bear in mind that, despite Patrick Mahomes’ heroic performance during last Sunday’s destruction of the Houston Texans, Ryan Tannehill and co are more than capable of beating the Chiefs. In fact, they did so in November, and that was with Mahomes playing at the height of his considerable powers. Back then Tennessee won the day by doing the simple things well: Tannehill was interception-free, special teams chipped in with a blocked field goal in the 35-32 victory and Brett Kern pinned the Chiefs back in their own territory with a 51.0-yard punting average. And then of course there was Derrick Henry, who ran for 188 yards, with the Titans outrushing the Chiefs by 225 yards to 97. Side note: Andy Reid is 1-8 all time against the Titans.

Related: NFL conference championship picks: a Chiefs-Packers Super Bowl?

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January 19th 2020, 2:23 pm

Van Dijk and Salah goals take dominant Liverpool past Manchester United

Sport | The Guardian

For Manchester United fans, it is the hope that kills them. The hope that Ole Gunnar Solskjær can find the answers, that the flickers of promise from his tenure can morph into meaningful momentum, that the romance inherent in his appointment can somehow override the problems and the drift at the top of the club.

This was a game in which Liverpool’s superiority was so pronounced for most of the first half and the early part of the second that it would have been no surprise had they led by five or six. The intensity of their football coupled with the surgical nature of their incisions were enough to take the breath. It certainly seemed to take that of United. During the period, it felt like the latest reality check for Solskjær and his players.

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January 19th 2020, 2:10 pm

Joe Root takes four wickets as England close in on South Africa victory

Sport | The Guardian

• England 499-9 dec: South Africa 209 & 102-6
• Captain Root claims Test-best haul

There has been much talk of Joe Root’s consistency since he has been made England captain but here in Port Elizabeth he has been landing the ball on a length often enough to cause his opponents great concern. Root, the off-spinner, conjured four vital wickets in the second half of another grey day and his side is on the brink of another victory. At the close South Africa, who were compelled to follow on 290 runs behind, were languishing on 102 for six and in desperate need of a lot more rain on the final day to escape with a draw.

Bowling around the wicket Root propelled fast off-breaks, sometimes touching 60mph; the ball gripped and turned often enough to torment frontline batsmen. There was nothing flukey about his dismissals; either he found the edge of the bat or the middle of the pad against players who were usually defending dutifully.

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January 19th 2020, 12:06 pm

'Whoopee cushion' in crowd causes disruption at Masters snooker final

Sport | The Guardian

The final of the Masters – one of the biggest days in the snooker calendar – was briefly disrupted by an electronic “whoopee cushion” in the crowd.

“Play momentarily stopped at Alexandra Palace. Looks like someone has planted a whoopee cushion inside the arena and it keeps going off making a ‘poooooop’ sound. Crowd laugh, Bingham not happy,” tweeted BBC journalist Shamoon Hafez.

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January 19th 2020, 12:06 pm

Beth England’s strike sparks Chelsea’s impressive win over Arsenal

Sport | The Guardian

“Wow, wow wow.” Their own manager could not believe it. Emma Hayes turned, back to the pitch, uttered her exclamations and looked bemused. A clearance from a Chelsea free-kick had just bounced in front of Sophie Ingle and the defensive midfielder had lashed a left-footed half-volley into the far corner past Arsenal’s Manuela Zinsberger to give the Blues a 3-0 lead inside 20 minutes, a game they would win 4-1.

In front of a sell-out 4,000 fans the title holders were shell-shocked. The title race was blown open. Now, just goal difference separates Arsenal and Manchester City, who leapfrogged the Londoners after their 2-0 win at Birmingham, while Chelsea sit invitingly one point behind, with a game in hand.

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January 19th 2020, 11:33 am

Ashley Westwood winner completes Burnley’s turnaround against Leicester

Sport | The Guardian

Burnley came from behind to pick up their first points this year against an oddly unconvincing Leicester, who have now lost two games in a row to opponents from the bottom half of the table.

Brendan Rodgers’ team started well enough here but in the second half in particular found Nick Pope in the Burnley goal an unbreachable last line of defence. The goalkeeper saved his side on at least three occasions, most notably in the 66th minute when he kept out a Jamie Vardy penalty that would have put the visitors 2-1 in front.

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January 19th 2020, 11:21 am

Liverpool v Manchester United: Premier League – live!

Sport | The Guardian

Roy Keane, hat-hater:

Roy Keane: hating silly hats since 1991 pic.twitter.com/QxbzFcGJ5h

Roy Keane, part of Sky’s team, is already angry. “I can’t say what he said off-air,” says Graeme Souness. Here’s what Keane said on air:

When I see people like Shaw coming back into the team ... the nearer we’re getting to kick-off the more worried I’m getting actually. I think I was fine about two hours ago. Do you know what, I look at the players, I look at them getting warmed up, and I see their silly hats. Do you know what, it’s as if their mindset is let’s not be beaten. That negative talk already. I’m worried, I have to say.

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January 19th 2020, 11:21 am

Lee Westwood wins in Abu Dhabi to earn landmark 25th European Tour title

Sport | The Guardian

• Westwood holds off Fitzpatrick and Fleetwood for victory
• Westwood has won titles in four different decades

Lee Westwood held off the challenges of fellow Englishmen Matt Fitzpatrick and Tommy Fleetwood and France’s Victor Perez to clinch the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship with a final-round score of 67.

The former world No 1 was the overnight leader and although his one-shot advantage came under threat, he claimed another of the European Tour’s prestigious Rolex Series events to take his total of victories on his home circuit to 25 – with Tour wins in four separate decades.

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January 19th 2020, 11:21 am

Owen Farrell carries Saracens past Racing 92 to keep Europe dreams alive

Sport | The Guardian

• Saracens 27-24 Racing 92 - Champions Cup
• Qualification for last eight depends on Gloucester result later

Owen Farrell kept Saracens’ competitive season alive by landing a late penalty that clinched a 27-24 Champions Cup victory over Racing 92 at Allianz Park.

Farrell was on target in the 76th minute as 14-man Saracens reacted to their automatic relegation from the Premiership for breaching salary cap regulations by claiming a lifeline in their pursuit of a European quarter-final.

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January 19th 2020, 11:21 am

Conor McGregor ponders fights against Nurmagomedov, Diaz and Mayweather

Sport | The Guardian

Shortly after Conor McGregor had dispatched Donald Cerrone within 40 seconds in his UFC comeback on Saturday night, attention turned to the Irishman’s next opponent.

Dana White, the UFC president, was quick to talk up the prospect of a rematch with the undefeated lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov. The match-up would be a huge moneyspinner after their last fight, in October 2018, ended in acrimony and violence. McGregor taunted his Russian opponent before that fight, and made negative references to his Muslim faith. Worse was to come when Nurmagomedov ended up brawling with some of his opponent’s entourage after defeating the Irishman. Both men received suspensions and fines for their part in the tawdry scenes.

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January 19th 2020, 11:21 am

Cameron Norrie’s new year resolve faces major test from Pierre-Hugues Herbert

Sport | The Guardian

• Briton hopes ‘results will come’ at Australian Open
• Dan Evans welcomes Tim Henman’s advice in Sydney

Cameron Norrie does not lack for heart or self-belief but it is difficult to see him getting out of the first round at the Australian Open against the inventive Frenchman Pierre-Hugues Herbert on Monday.

As hard as he tried for Great Britain in the inaugural ATP Cup in Sydney last week he struggled when confronted with quality shots coming back at his steady stream of ground strokes. If Herbert has a strength it is the ability to change tack in an instant. A soft-handed doubles specialist with a singles ranking of 64, he is sharp and intelligent anywhere near the net and patient near the baseline.

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January 19th 2020, 10:37 am

Burnley v Leicester: Premier League – live!

Sport | The Guardian

Those teams again in analogue fashion.

Burnley: Pope, Tarkowski, Mee, Taylor, Bardsley, Westwood, Cork, McNeil, Hendrick, Wood, Rodriguez
Subs: Hart, Lowton, Brady, Pieters, Lennon, Vydra, Long

TEAM NEWS: Here's how we line-up for today's @premierleague game v @LCFC.

Two changes for the Clarets#BURLEI pic.twitter.com/DsiVbmcUe7

Your Leicester City team for #BurLei, brought to you by @eToro

Subs: Ward, Justin, Morgan, Gray, Tielemans, Albrighton, Iheanacho.#BurLei

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January 19th 2020, 8:36 am

Arsenal v Chelsea: Women's Super League – live!

Sport | The Guardian

Vivianne Miedema leads the line for Arsenal, almost needless to say. The Dutchwoman has knocked in 14 goals and effected eight assists already this season.

Kim Little starts after marking her 200th appearance for Arsenal with the winner against Reading in the cup on Wednesday.

LONDON DERBY TEAM NEWS

@BarclaysFAWSL pic.twitter.com/Pkk0NZfKsn

Today's team to face Arsenal!

Thoughts? #CFCW pic.twitter.com/ERZBA6pbkw

“How do you prepare for a surprise?”

Chelsea manager Emma Hayes was in philosophical mood this week as she looked ahead to today’s crunch encounter with Joe Montemurro’s Arsenal. “I don’t know,” Hayes admitted, “but I’m sure I’ll be ready.”

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January 19th 2020, 8:36 am

‘This is my adrenaline fix’: Jamie Chadwick, F1’s first female hope in 43 years

Sport | The Guardian

No woman has raced in a Formula 1 grand prix since the 1970s. Does the 21-year-old Williams driver have the talent and ambition to change all that?

Even if you’re one of the most promising young racing drivers of your era, you still have to take your driving test. Shortly after she turned 17, Jamie Chadwick thought she’d better get on with it. She had been driving competitively since she first raced a go-kart, when she was 11. “Obviously I knew how to drive a car,” she says. “But driving on roads, knowing everything about road driving, is very different.” She’d planned to have lessons, but only managed “sort of one and a half” before a cancellation meant she had a chance to take the test. “I was, like, I’ll just do it and if I fail, I might never live it down, but I just have to give it a go.” To her great relief, she passed. “Somehow. But I was never taught to park, so I still can’t. Then I found myself as designated driver and I was, like, this isn’t worth it either.” She laughs. “So a lot of regret in that whole situation.”

Chadwick might not be able to park, but in Formula 1, she’s not going to need to. If all goes to plan, that is exactly where she’ll end up, breaking a 43-year dry spell for women on the starting grid. Last year, she won the inaugural W Series, an all-female championship that ended at Brands Hatch in August. She is gathering firsts at quite a rate: at 17, she was the first woman and youngest driver to win the British GT Championship. In 2018, she became the first woman to win a British F3 race. Last February, she became the first female winner of the MRF Challenge series in Chennai. She is competing now in the Asian F3 Championship.

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January 19th 2020, 8:06 am

Andy Murray can play and win for many more years, says Bob Bryan

Sport | The Guardian

• Bryan says Murray is physically close to his peak form
• US doubles player had identical hip surgery to Murray

Andy Murray has been backed by Bob Bryan, who underwent the same surgery as the former British No 1, to “play for many more years, winning”.

US doubles star Bryan, who made a successful return to tennis after his operation, has said the latest setback that prevented Murray from playing in this Australian Open – bruising to his thigh bone – was unrelated to the “Birmingham method” operation he had last January to fix long-term pain and degradation in his right hip.

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January 19th 2020, 7:36 am

Heather Watson’s Australian Open hopes lifted by love and Yeovil Town

Sport | The Guardian

The British player won just three games in Melbourne last year but is ‘happy on and off court’ thanks to her relationship with Yeovil’s Courtney Duffus

On the eve of the 2020 Australian Open, Heather Watson has said her relationship with the Irish footballer Courtney Duffus has transformed her career – and her life.

Watson, who arrived in Melbourne on Saturday fresh from a run to the semi-finals in Hobart, plays Kristyna Pliskova on Tuesday. There are tougher prospects beyond that in a quarter of the draw that includes sixth seed Belinda Bencic, Donna Vekic (No 19), Aryna Sabalenka – who gave world No 1 Ashleigh Barty a good argument in the Adelaide final on Saturday – and, closer to her section, the accomplished Belgian Elise Mertens.

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January 19th 2020, 6:46 am

Quique Setién summons spirit of Johan Cruyff to inspire Barcelona | Sid Lowe

Sport | The Guardian

New manager will have to deal with a powerful dressing room and a club that demands success with style

“It’s not normal to take over at a team that’s top,” Quique Setién said after the call that took him from a stroll among the cows in Liencres, Cantabria, to a job among the sacred cows at the Camp Nou. “When you’re out of work, waiting for an opportunity, you imagine a team near the bottom, in trouble,” said Barcelona’s new manager. Instead on Sunday night he will occupy his place in the dugout at a place where they have not seen their team lose for 38 games, going back more than a year – not since the last time he was there.

Ernesto Valverde lost one home game as Barcelona manager: to Setién’s Real Betis, 4-3 in November 2018. As a player Setién beat Barcelona too. In Santander some Racing fans still cling to the old, fading T-shirt that celebrated their 5-0 victory over the Dream Team in February 1995 like some religious relic. On the front is a green hand, a finger for every goal they put past Carlos Busquets, Sergio’s father, the scorer’s name at each of its tips: Esteban Torre, Jesús Merino, Dmitri Radchenko, twice, and Quique Setién.

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January 19th 2020, 5:28 am

Naomi Osaka confident she can make a case for Australian Open defence

Sport | The Guardian

After last year’s pulsating victory over Petra Kvitova the champion suffered a year of struggles

It is difficult to think of many more impressive sequences in recent tennis history than the madness that unfurled in last year’s women’s Australian Open final. Following all the suffocating drama surrounding her 2018 US Open victory over Serena Williams, Naomi Osaka had arrived in Australia with a profile that perhaps no other new player, male or female, had managed to attain in the entire decade.

Most players would have struggled in the aftermath of the US Open match, but Osaka was still unsatisfied. She entered Melbourne to win and she ground her way into the final where she outplayed Petra Kvitova for two sets, eventually building a 7-6, 5-3 with triple championship point.

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January 19th 2020, 5:28 am

India v Australia: third one-day international – live!

Sport | The Guardian

4th over: Australia 26-1 (Finch 7, Smith 5) Precisely the breakthrough, and the scalp, India wanted. But enter Smith, who opens his account with a pulled boundary and enter more errant bowling, with Shami delivering another wide.

Yep, there’s something in the air tonight - well, movement in the air at least - and Warner is livid with himself after offering his willow to Shami and edging behind. In truth, it was a great delivery and Warner’s shot was tepid, unsure and his footwork non-existent.

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January 19th 2020, 3:28 am

South Africa v England: third Test, day four – live!

Sport | The Guardian

Cartwheel! Broad finds some nip off the seam, Philander opens the gate with an airy drive, and is it zips to the fence in his dreams, in our reality the ball careers into his off peg which goes for a little dance.

83rd over: South Africa 208-6 (De Kock 63, Philander 27) Yes! The performative Jerusalem is away. Can’t wait for the actions and applauding of self. AND IT’S THERE! THERE IT IS! Wood and Curran both warm up like it’s their gig from the other end; I’d go Wood, now that you ask.

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January 19th 2020, 3:16 am

Conor McGregor visits 40-second destruction on Donald Cerrone in UFC return

Sport | The Guardian

Conor McGregor stopped Donald Cerrone with a head kick and punches 40 seconds into the first round at UFC 246 on Saturday night, announcing his return to mixed martial arts with his first victory since 2016.

The Irish former two-division champion returned from a three-year stretch of inactivity and outside-the-cage troubles with a performance that echoed his greatest fights during his unparalleled rise.

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January 19th 2020, 1:25 am

UFC 246: Conor McGregor destroys Donald Cerrone by first-round TKO – live!

Sport | The Guardian

“I made history tonight,” McGregor tells UFC pundit Joe Rogan during his in-ring interview. And he has. McGregor is the first fighter in the promotion’s history to record knockout victories at featherweight, lightweight and welterweight.

He continues: “I’ve etched my name in history once again. For the Irish people! For my ma back home!”

Round 1

McGregor explodes from his corner at the bell and throws a massive left hand that just misses the target. Now McGregor hammers Cerrone with a couple of shoulder strikes out of the clinch and Cerrone is already bleeding from his nose. Cerrone is in big trouble early, his nose perhaps broken. McGregor drops him with a kick to the head and opens up with the ground and pound. Oh boy. Only a matter of time now ... and the referee has stopped it! McGregor has won in roughly 45 seconds to announce his return with style!

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January 19th 2020, 12:55 am

UFC 246: Conor McGregor v Donald Cerrone – live!

Sport | The Guardian

Bryan will be here shortly. In the meantime here’s a look at Karim Zidan’s look at Conor McGregor’s return.

Related: UFC happy to promote flawed Conor McGregor in the pursuit of profit

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January 18th 2020, 11:42 pm

Ash Barty can buck trend of home pressure at Australian Open

Sport | The Guardian

Hewitt, Rafter and Philippoussis fell short, Stosur buckled under the weight and Dokic only made the last eight

Anyone who has spent any time in Melbourne over the past week cannot have failed to notice Ash Barty. The 23-year-old’s face adorns posters at the airport and across the city. The hopes of a nation, starved of a singles champion at their home grand slam for more than 40 years, are stamped across billboards and even in jewellery shops where the limited edition watch she wears is being sold.

In a country that loves its sporting heroes like no other, Barty is as popular as any of them, if not more so. Down to earth, humble and gutsy, she epitomises all Australians recognise in a true sporting icon. But what has the country and the city even more excited is that in two weeks’ time, if things go her way, the world No 1 could make another piece of personal history by lifting the women’s title at the Australian Open.

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January 18th 2020, 5:51 pm

Ole Gunnar Solskjær is not the right manager for Manchester United | Jonathan Wilson

Sport | The Guardian

There has been little sign of improvement since Solskjær took over and he looks ill-equipped to turn things around

O n Friday 5 March 1909, Manchester United went to Burnley for an FA Cup quarter-final. The pitch was frozen, there was heavy snow and with 18 minutes remaining the referee, Herbert Bamlett, decided the match couldn’t go on. For United, the abandonment was fortunate: they had been 1-0 down but won the rearranged game 3-2 and went on, for the first time, to lift the FA Cup.

Bamlett, having refereed the 1914 FA Cup final, turned his hand to management, taking charge of Oldham, Wigan Borough and Middlesbrough, guiding the latter to the verge of promotion when, in April 1927, he was named manager of United.

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January 18th 2020, 5:51 pm

Pep Guardiola baffled at Manchester City letting Zaha make crucial run

Sport | The Guardian

• Wilfried Zaha’s break and cross lead to Fernandinho own goal
• ‘The second goal is a mistake and we have to avoid it’

Pep Guardiola criticised the defensive mistake that allowed Crystal Palace a late equaliser against Manchester City that may kill any lingering hope of a successful title defence.

Two Sergio Agüero strikes on 82 and 87 minutes appeared to have overturned Cenk Tosun’s first-half opener. But in added time Wilfried Zaha burst into the City area and though John Stones tried to stop him the forward was still able to hit a cross at Fernandinho that deflected past Ederson to make it 2-2.

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January 18th 2020, 5:51 pm

Isaac Hayden breaks Chelsea hearts with late winner for Newcastle

Sport | The Guardian

Is possession overrated? It certainly seemed so for Chelsea as they manoeuvred the ball up and down a series of apparent blind alleys and cul-de-sacs before ultimately seeing all that effort reduced to nothing when Isaac Hayden headed Newcastle’s stoppage time winner.

At times Steve Bruce’s side appeared to have developed an alarming allergy to passing between themselves but few occupants of the Gallowgate End were worrying about that as Allan Saint-Maximin redirected the fallout from a poor, partially cleared, Matt Ritchie corner and Hayden rose above all comers to clinch three precious points.

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January 18th 2020, 4:50 pm

Saracens will be relegated at end of season, Premiership Rugby confirms

Sport | The Guardian

• Club will be playing in Championship next season
• Repeatedly failed to adhere to Premiership’s salary cap

Saracens will be relegated from the Premiership at the end of the season following a fourth salary cap breach.

The club, which in November was fined more than £5m and docked 35 Premiership points for exceeding the cap in the previous three seasons, accepted it would not come in within the £7m cap at the end of the season.

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January 18th 2020, 2:49 pm

Dom Bess: ‘I thought about all 10 a little – but 10 is a bit greedy’

Sport | The Guardian

• England off-spinner admits to dreaming of a famous record
• Bess still aiming at nine-wicket haul against South Africa

Dom Bess said he dreamed of taking all 10 South African wickets as he enjoyed the finest moment of his career on day three of the third Test at St George’s Park.

The 22-year-old off-spinner, playing in this series only because of the illness to Jack Leach that led to his Somerset team-mate flying home last Thursday, claimed his first five-wicket haul in Tests on a rain-hit day that ended with the hosts reaching the close on 208 for six in response to England’s first‑innings of 499 for nine declared.

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January 18th 2020, 2:49 pm

Chris Boyd smiling again as Northampton make comeback in Lyon

Sport | The Guardian

• Saints win 36-24 in France
• Bath’s Ross Batty sees red in Ulster

The Northampton players were castigated by their director of rugby Chris Boyd for their lacklustre display against Benetton Treviso last weekend but the Saints recovered to keep their faint hopes of reaching the Champions Cup quarter-finals alive with a 36-24 success at Lyon.

“We’re really pleased to come here and win, and to get five points I guess is a bonus given the situation,” said Boyd. “But probably more pleasing was we were down 17-5 at half-time, probably having created enough chances to be in front but we were just a little bit loose with our execution.

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January 18th 2020, 2:49 pm

England tempted to opt for speed by pairing Mark Wood and Jofra Archer | Chris Stocks

Sport | The Guardian

The Johannesburg wicket is expected to be quick and Joe Root’s side think they can exploit it in the fourth Test

Others may have grabbed most attention on the first three days here, notably Ollie Pope and Dom Bess, but the performance of Mark Wood in his first Test for 11 months has given England cause for real excitement for next week’s series finale in Johannesburg.

Coming into this match, the Durham fast bowler had not played competitive cricket since England’s World Cup final win against New Zealand at Lord’s in July. Despite having to battle back from a combination of knee and side injuries, Wood appears to have lost none of his pace.

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January 18th 2020, 2:49 pm

John Fleck’s late strike stuns Arsenal to gain Sheffield United a point

Sport | The Guardian

For all the improvements Arsenal have made under Mikel Arteta, their inability to see a game out remains chronic. They lost a lead here for the third time in his six-game tenure, continuing a theme that has dogged a miserable Premier League campaign and makes a mid-table finish increasingly likely.

A goal close to half-time by Gabriel Martinelli, the brilliant 18-year-old who stood in ably for suspended captain, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, looked like being sufficient to win but John Fleck’s superbly taken equaliser, lashed in seven minutes from time, left Arteta frustrated again and provided fresh evidence of the redoubtable quality Chris Wilder has instilled in Sheffield United.

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January 18th 2020, 12:34 pm

Manchester City hit by Fernandinho own goal as Crystal Palace grab draw

Sport | The Guardian

If this is the day Manchester City all but mathematically surrender their title, frustration will surely be the searing emotion. They dominated Crystal Palace and looked to have overturned Cenk Tosun’s first-half strike via two late Sergio Agüero goals.

Then, though, Wilfried Zaha raced upfield and with the clock in added time the winger hit a cross at Fernandinho and the Brazilian turned it beyond his goalkeeper, Ederson.

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January 18th 2020, 12:34 pm

Wolverhampton’s Raúl Jiménez proves a talisman in win over Southampton

Sport | The Guardian

Just as it seemed this might prove a stretch too far for Wolverhampton Wanderers, they mustered the strength to launch a spirited second-half fightback to earn an extraordinary comeback victory. Raúl Jiménez, their talisman, was at the double after Pedro Neto had fired in eight minutes after the interval, at which point Southampton were two goals to the good. The roar that emanated from the away end said everything for Wolves but the manner in which the hosts capitulated will have been deeply concerning for Ralph Hasenhüttl, whose side were perhaps guilty of getting giddy.

Jiménez powered in the winner after brilliant work by Adama Traoré, having scored for the first time this year to level things up after goals from unlikely sources, Jan Bednarek and Shane Long, earned Southampton a half-time lead. Perhaps a little complacency had snuck into to Southampton, who were well on their way to securing a fourth successive victory having established a healthy cushion. Until a superb second-half riposte, Wolves had been off-colour. For Southampton, the way things unravelled carried shades of those games in which they crumbled here earlier in the season, with Neto allowed time to turn and power home in the box after Traoré skipped away from Bednarek. When Jack Stephens and Cédric Soares sandwiched Jonny in the box, the video assistant referee Craig Pawson awarded a penalty. Jiménez dispatched it with minimum fuss, sending Alex McCarthy the wrong way.

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January 18th 2020, 12:34 pm

Erling Haaland hits hat-trick in 23 minutes to rescue Dortmund on debut

Sport | The Guardian

• Norwegian teenager turns game as Dortmund beat Augsburg 5-3
• Lazio get 11th straight Serie A win by thrashing Sampdoria 5-1

Borussia Dortmund’s new signing Erling Haaland scored a sensational hat-trick in 23 minutes on his debut to help his team come from two goals down and beat Augsburg 5-3 on Saturday as the Bundesliga resumed after the winter break. The Norwegian teenager Haaland, who joined weeks ago from RB Salzburg for a reported €20m, scored his first goal with a low drive in the 59th minute, three minutes after coming on, to cut the deficit to 3-2.

Augsburg had led through a brace from Florian Niederlechner and a goal from Marco Richter. Jadon Sancho levelled for the visitors before Haaland then tapped in Dortmund’s fourth in the 70th to put them ahead.

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January 18th 2020, 12:16 pm

Newcastle United v Chelsea: Premier League – live!

Sport | The Guardian

Newcastle make six changes to the XI sent out against Rochdale in midweek. Martin Dubravka, Jonjo Shelvey, Ciaran Clark, Jetro Willems, Federico Fernandez and Allan Saint-Maximin are back; Karl Darlow, Florian Lejeune, Matt Ritchie, Christian Atsu and both Longstaffs step down.

Chelsea make one change to the team that beat Burnley 3-0 last Saturday. N’Golo Kante relegates Ross Barkley to a seat on the bench.

Newcastle United: Dubravka, Krafth, Fernandez, Lascelles, Clark, Willems, Almiron, Hayden, Shelvey, Saint-Maximin, Joelinton.
Subs: Schar, Ritchie, Lejeune, Darlow, Atsu, Sean Longstaff, Matthew Longstaff.

Chelsea: Arrizabalaga, James, Christensen, Rudiger, Azpilicueta, Kante, Jorginho, Mount, Hudson-Odoi, Abraham, Willian.
Subs: Barkley, Pedro, Caballero, Zouma, Kovacic, Batshuayi, Emerson Palmieri.

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January 18th 2020, 12:04 pm

Dom Bess takes five wickets but rain, drops and South Africa stall England

Sport | The Guardian

• Third Test day three: England 499-9 dec; South Africa 208-6
• Tourists still in charge but rue drops on rain-affected day

How South Africa needed some rain, not just because of the parched landscape of the Eastern Cape, but also since a draw in the Third Test now represents their highest ambition. After an interrupted day they finished on 208 for six, which represents quite a recovery since their cricket team was creaking ominously on 113 for five when the swirling drizzle enveloped St George’s Park 10 minutes before lunch.

By then Dom Bess had taken three key wickets, to add to the two taken on Friday night, thereby leaving the stattos researching when an English spinner last took the first five wickets to fall in a Test innings. The answer is Derek Underwood in the Adelaide Test of January 1975.

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January 18th 2020, 11:34 am

Defi Du Seuil powers to victory in Ascot’s Clarence House Chase

Sport | The Guardian

• Barry Geraghty’s mount beats old rival Un De Sceaux
• Ballyandy wins photo for Haydock’s Champion Hurdle Trial

Defi Du Seuil was a very classy winner of the Clarence House Chase, confirming himself as the best British chaser over two miles so far this season. Philip Hobbs’s star cruised along for much of the race and settled it by quickening clear of Un De Sceaux soon after the second-last.

Having shot clear, the 11-10 joint-favourite eased down on the run-in to score by two and three-quarter lengths under Barry Geraghty. Un De Sceaux had been just a neck behind him in last month’s Tingle Creek and, as a triple winner of the Clarence House, was expected to make another close race of it this time. But, at the age of 12, he may not be quite the force of old.

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January 18th 2020, 11:13 am

QPR’s Nahki Wells hands wasteful Leeds defeat with controversial goal

Sport | The Guardian

Nahki Wells’ controversial goal gave QPR a 1-0 victory and dealt another blow to Leeds’ promotion bid. Wells clearly hand the ball before scoring after 20 minutes at the Kiyan Prince Foundation Stadium, where Patrick Bamford had a second-half penalty saved by Liam Kelly and Kalvin Phillips was sent off for a crude challenge on the QPR midfielder Geoff Cameron in the 89th minute.

The pair have history, with Cameron having missed more than three months of last season because of an equally reckless challenge by Phillips when these clubs met at Elland Road in December 2018.

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January 18th 2020, 10:16 am

Tottenham’s Gazzaniga saves Deeney penalty to earn draw at Watford

Sport | The Guardian

Tottenham remain adrift of the Champions League places and Watford continue their ascent away from the drop zone despite Troy Deeney’s saved penalty, after a match that was edged by the hosts but undermined by poor finishing ended in stalemate.

Deeney’s spot-kick, saved by Paolo Gazzaniga, came amid a flurry of second-half Watford chances, while Tottenham could have won it late on only for Érik Lamela to see a poked effort cleared off the line in stoppage time. There were standout performances from Nathaniel Chalobah and Ismaïla Sarr, while Christian Eriksen emerged from the bench on the second for what could be his last performance in a Spurs shirt.

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January 18th 2020, 10:16 am

Manchester United baulk at Sporting’s £68m valuation of Bruno Fernandes

Sport | The Guardian

• Club will end interest in midfielder unless Sporting lower price
• United believe 25-year-old is worth closer to £45m plus add-ons

Manchester United have baulked at Sporting Lisbon’s £68m valuation of Bruno Fernandes, with their valuation of the midfielder closer to £45m plus add-ons. United will end their interest in the 25-year-old unless the Portuguese club move far closer to the fee United believe is realistic.

In the summer Tottenham Hotspur made a take-it-or-leave-it offer of £45m for Fernandes and Ole Gunnar Solskjær, the manager, and executive vice-chairman, Ed Woodward, view this as the baseline fee for him.

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January 18th 2020, 9:29 am

Manchester City v Crystal Palace, Arsenal v Sheffield United and more – live!

Sport | The Guardian

Norwich have brought in a couple of new faces from the Bundesliga this week in the form of Ondrej Duda and Lukas Rupp. Will they slot into the side today and can they make the requisite difference to the team?

Could Reiss Nelson start for Arsenal today?

Related: Mikel Arteta says Reiss Nelson no longer ‘confused’ and can shine at Arsenal

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January 18th 2020, 8:59 am

Roger Federer opts for diplomacy as pollution questions fill the air

Sport | The Guardian

The Swiss is about to meet Steve Johnson but he was not fielding too many questions about his chances of winning the Australian Open

When Roger Federer eventually abdicates as the king of tennis, a career in diplomacy beckons. On the eve of the 2020 Australian Open, the former six-time champion again tip-toed around tough questions about the impact of the climate crisis on this smoke-haunted tournament.

Related: ‘It’ll be emotional’: Caroline Wozniacki braced for farewell at Australian Open

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January 18th 2020, 8:15 am

Chelsea look to bridge the gap against Arsenal and reboot WSL title push

Sport | The Guardian

Emma Hayes’ side have to win their game against the Gunners to have a realistic chance of overhauling the leaders

If Chelsea lose at Arsenal on Sunday, their bid for a third Women’s Super League title will take a heavy hit. Things are tight at the top and defeat would mean Emma Hayes’s third-placed team would slip seven points behind the reigning champions, albeit with a game in hand. “I know the opponent well and I know the manager, I suspect he will throw a few surprises at me,” says Hayes of Joe Montemurro and his team. “So how do you prepare for a surprise? I don’t know, but I’m sure I’ll be ready.”

In a 12-team table it is harder to bridge such a gap. The problem for Chelsea is that should they fail to reclaim the crown Arsenal took from them, it will not have been lost in the head-to-head meetings with their title rivals. Instead, they will look back at the four dropped points to Brighton and Liverpool, who have 10 points between them after 12 and 11 games respectively, as the moments when the title slipped from their grasp.

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January 18th 2020, 7:59 am

QPR v Leeds United: Championship – live!

Sport | The Guardian

Speaking of that defence, 21-year-old former Liverpool youth-teamer Conor Masterson is making his league debut for QPR today at the heart of it. He can’t do any worse than what’s come before him, right…?

Die-hard QPR fan Aditya emails from Mumbai to get us in the mood: “Love to see the way we’re playing this season. We’ve got the best front three in the league (okay, second best to Brentford) and a shocking defence – every game is a rollercoaster. Looking forward to seeing how we square up against a stuttering Leeds.”

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January 18th 2020, 7:15 am

Watford v Tottenham Hotspur: Premier League – live!

Sport | The Guardian

Watford are in if-it-ain’t-broke mode. No changes to the side that trounced Bournemouth 3-0 at their own gaff.

Four changes for Spurs, though, from the XI named against Boro midweek. Eric Dier, Ryan Sessegnon, Davison Sanchez and Inter’s Christian Eriksen drop to the bench; Serge Aurier, Toby Alderweireld, Dele Alli and Son Heung-min step up.

Watford: Foster, Mariappa, Dawson, Cathcart, Masina, Chalobah, Capoue, Sarr, Doucoure, Deulofeu, Deeney.
Subs: Pussetto, Gomes, Gray, Quina, Holebas, Kabasele, Pereyra.

Tottenham Hotspur: Gazzaniga, Aurier, Alderweireld, Vertonghen, Tanganga, Winks, Alli, Lamela, Lo Celso, Son, Lucas Moura.
Subs: Sanchez, Vorm, Dier, Sessegnon, Eriksen, Skipp, Fernandes.

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January 18th 2020, 7:15 am

‘It’ll be emotional’: Caroline Wozniacki braced for farewell at Australian Open

Sport | The Guardian

• Dane takes on Kristie Ahn in final grand slam before retiring
• Konta may stand in way of record-chasing Serena Williams

Caroline Wozniacki has done just about everything in tennis – except walk away. So it was striking on the eve of her farewell at the tournament where she won her only slam that the Dane declared she had no idea how she would handle her emotions when she walks out to play Kristie Ahn, the world No 92 coming off a first-round loss in qualifying in Auckland.

Such a fixture would not normally induce apprehension in a player who only two years ago briefly returned to No 1 in the world after winning the Australian Open. But the 29-year-old Wozniacki, who used to run marathons for fun and was long regarded as one of the fittest players in the game, has endured struggle at just the time when she ought to be enjoying her best years.

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January 18th 2020, 6:24 am

Eddie Jones’ England rebuild complicated by future of his Saracens | Paul Rees

Sport | The Guardian

Youth will be added for the Six Nations to a core group distracted by impending relegation at their club

Eddie Jones names his England squad for the Six Nations on Monday and at least he does not have to fret about some of his Saracens contingent being torn between playing for their country and helping their club avoid relegation. It was a concern of his when the club’s 35-point deduction for breaching the Premiership’s salary cap regulations was activated two months ago but he now faces something equally unsettling.

Related: Saracens to accept second 35-point deduction and effective relegation

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January 18th 2020, 6:24 am

Delusions, chaos and a shot at a new life at Q-School, darts’ dream factory | Jonathan Liew

Sport | The Guardian

At a Wigan leisure centre hundreds of hopefuls, from ex-pros to chancers, face a gruelling race to claim a place on the PDC tour

The little girl in the blue leotard grips her mother’s hand tightly, but her gaze is elsewhere. She is spellbound, perhaps even a little baffled, by the tableau she has just glimpsed on her way to gymnastics practice at the Robin Park Leisure Centre in Wigan. There, the large space she usually knows as the tennis hall is instead occupied by several hundred people, most of them middle-aged men in loud shirts, very few of them – if we’re being blunt – the usual leisure centre clientele. There’s a Body Combat class taking place in the sports hall and a sprint session going on in the cycle studio. But here, for this week only, the dream factory is in town.

From the moment the doors opened at 8am, the queue quickly stretched out into the car park. They have come from all parts: former champions and pub chancers, future icons and fallen idols, county stalwarts and armchair aspirants, in pursuit of a better life. Win one of the Professional Darts Corporation’s coveted tour cards and a lucrative new career awaits. But to do so, they’ll need to see off 500 rivals in the ruthless four-day marathon of Q-School.

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January 18th 2020, 3:41 am

South Africa v England: third Test, day three – live!

Sport | The Guardian

Morning everyone. England’s cricketers have just woken up to face an unfamiliar challenge: how do you follow a perfect day? Yesterday they had one fresh-faced 22-year-old making a masterly hundred, and then another grabbing two top-order wickets. England finished the day 439 ahead, with Dom Bess lording it at one end and Mark Wood delivering thunderbolts at the other. The good news for South Africa is that their task is simple enough: all they have to do is dig themselves out of a deep hole.

One piece of evidence is on their side. So far in the third Test, not a single wicket has fallen before lunch. England should be able to change that curious fact with their tails up and a nightwatchman to bowl at – although, the last time he found himself doing this job, Anrich Nortje made a handy fortje.

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January 18th 2020, 2:21 am
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