Tag Archives: brilliance

Lionel Messi sidelined for at least one game after limping out of Barcelona Champions League tie with Paris Saint-Germain

Messi faces rare spell on the sidelines.. but Barcelona are better off in Europe without their star man!

By
Adam Shergold

PUBLISHED:

10:17 GMT, 3 April 2013

|

UPDATED:

15:15 GMT, 3 April 2013

It's a sight that has been thankfully rare over the years for Barcelona fans and the millions who appreciate his genius.

But Lionel Messi is facing a spell on the sidelines of up to three weeks after being substituted at half-time during last night's Champions League tie in Paris with a hamstring injury.

The club have confirmed that he has a thigh injury and will miss Saturday's match at home to Real Mallorca at the very least. Messi even took to his Facebook page to confirm his knock isn't as bad as first feared.

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Allaying fears: Messi posted this picture on his Facebook page on Wednesday afternoon, saying his hamstring injury was not as serious as first thought

Allaying fears: Messi posted this picture on his Facebook page on Wednesday afternoon, saying his hamstring injury was not as serious as first thought

Check up: Messi is accompanied by defender Jordi Alba as he walks to the medical centre at Barcelona's training ground. Initial scans on his hamstring injury suggest the damage isn't as bad as first feared

Check up: Messi is accompanied by defender Jordi Alba as he walks to the medical centre at Barcelona's training ground. Initial scans on his hamstring injury suggest the damage isn't as bad as first feared

Lionel Messi has his hamstring injury assessed at Barcelona's training ground

Rare injury blow: Lionel Messi (second left) watched the second half of Barcelona's 2-2 draw with PSG after suffering a hamstring injury

Rare injury blow: Lionel Messi (second left) watched the second half of Barcelona's 2-2 draw with PSG after suffering a hamstring injury

Deadly: Before going off, Messi opened the scoring with his 57th goal of the season

Deadly: Before going off, Messi opened the scoring with his 57th goal of the season

MESSI'S APPEARANCES

Goals scored in brackets

2004-2005: 9 (1)
2005-2006: 25 (8)
2006-2007: 36 (17)
2007-2008: 40 (16)
2008-2009: 51 (38)
2009-2010: 53 (47)
2010-2011: 55 (53)
2011-2012: 60 (73)
2012-2013: 45 (57)

Depending on his recovery, it could also
see him absent from the return with PSG next week and subsequent La
Liga matches that will see Barca secure the title.

For someone who is always target No 1 for brutish defenders, Lionel Messi is astonishingly resilient.

His untouchable scoring record and long list of accolades are testament not only to his brilliance but a good injury record.

In fact this season, the 25-year-old has played 3,193 of a possible 3,420 minutes in the league and Champions League – meaning he's missed just 227 minutes of action in these competitions.

Representing a club inevitably involved to the business end of competitions, Messi is used to playing in excess of 50 matches a season for Barcelona and up to a dozen more for Argentina.

Whereas other star players, particularly in the Premier League, are rested or rotated for less important games, Messi is as likely to start against Granada and Getafe than he is against Real Madrid.

But the physical toll rarely shows on his body, with the Argentine suffering only four injury lay-offs of note over his career.

Concern: Barcelona coach Tito Vilanova talks to Messi during last night's quarter-final, first leg

Concern: Barcelona coach Tito Vilanova talks to Messi during last night's quarter-final, first leg

Bloodied: Messi took a knock to the knee, which led to him being taken off at half-time

Bloodied: Messi took a knock to the knee, which led to him being taken off at half-time

Pain: Messi grabs the back of his right leg during the match at the Parc des Princes

Pain: Messi grabs the back of his right leg during the match at the Parc des Princes

Before last night, he had not had a muscle injury for three-and-a-half years, when a calf problem ruled him out of a Champions League tie with Inter Milan and a league Clasico with Real in November 2009.

He was an unused substitute in the Inter tie as Pep Guardiola decided not to risk him.

He missed league games against Sporting Gijon and Athletic Bilbao in September 2010 with a stretched ligament, but returned for a trip to Russia to play Rubin Kazan the following week.

Prior to that, you have to go back to the 2007-2008 season when a 20-year-old Messi missed about 10 weeks of the season with a couple of injury scares.

Source: Opta

Source: Opta

Source: Opta

Source: Opta

While Barcelona's quarter-final tie with PSG is delicately poised at 2-2, Messi's team-mates won't be too concerned by his absence.

The statistics show that, in Champions League games since Messi broke into the first team in 2004, they have won 71 per cent of matches without him and just 56 per cent of games when he's been rested or injured.

This is probably explained by Barcelona's run to the trophy in 2006, when Messi played just six of the club's 13 games.

Golden Balls: Messi, four time Ballon D'Or winner, shakes hands with David Beckham before the match

Golden Balls: Messi, four time Ballon D'Or winner, shakes hands with David Beckham before the match

By contrast, in La Liga, Barcelona have won 76 per cent of games since 2004 with him in the team.

But when Messi is absent, they have won only half.

The injury will bring to an end his record run of scoring in 19 consecutive league games. His first-half goal against PSG also drew him level with Cristiano Ronaldo and Galatasaray's Burak Yilmaz as top scorer in the Champions League with eight goals.

In addition, defender Javier Mascherano was taken off on a stretcher after 84 minutes with a knee injury and will be missing for 'four to six weeks' according to Barca coach Jordi Roura.

Injury worry: Messi's compatriot Javier Mascherano was stretchered off late in the game

Injury worry: Messi's compatriot Javier Mascherano was stretchered off late in the game

Messi's absence turns the spotlight on Barcelona's misfiring strike force.

Spain's David Villa and Pedro, Chile's Alexis Sanchez, and midfielder-cum-forward Cesc Fabregas have managed only three goals between them in Europe, trailing way behind Messi, the Champions League's leading scorer for the the last four seasons in a row.

Sanchez is clearly lacking in confidence, as was seen with two poorly-taken chances on Tuesday, though he did win the penalty for Xavi to put Barca 2-1 up near the end.

Misfiring: Barcelona will rely on the out-of-form Alexis Sanchez for the second leg next week

Misfiring: Barcelona will rely on the out-of-form Alexis Sanchez for the second leg next week

Villa has failed to recover his consistency and sharpness since breaking his leg at the Club World Cup in December 2011, and Fabregas has been short of form in recent weeks.

Pedro, who was suspended on Tuesday, should have recovered from a calf injury for the second leg, but has yet to get off the mark in the Champions League this season.

Cristian Tello is another option. The little-used, young winger scored one and set up the second for Messi in their 2-2 draw at Real Zaragoza in La Liga last Saturday, and brings a directness and pace to an attack that at times lacks a cutting edge.

He has scored one goal in the Champions League this season.

Beckham pleased with draw against Barcelona

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Galatasaray 1 Schalke 1: Match report

Galatasaray 1 Schalke 1: Drogba Euro debut ends all square after Jones levels for Germans

PUBLISHED:

21:37 GMT, 20 February 2013

|

UPDATED:

22:08 GMT, 20 February 2013

Jermaine Jones' strike in the last minute of the first half gave Schalke a slight advantage as they drew 1-1 at Galatasaray in the first leg of their Champions League last-16 encounter.

Jones calmly slotted home after Jefferson Farfan had squared the ball to him to give the German side a vital draw at the Turk Telekom Arena, although Schalke's goalscorer will miss the second leg after picking up a booking.

Burak Yilmaz had earlier put Gala in front with a piece of individual brilliance but they could not extend their lead in a breathtaking first-half in which both teams failed to convert several glorious opportunities.

Going ahead: Burak Yilmaz puts Galatasaray head in the first half

Going ahead: Burak Yilmaz puts Galatasaray head in the first half

Match Facts

Galatasaray: Muslera, Sarioglu (Bulut 84), Kaya, Nounkeu, Riera, Altintop (Eboue 66), Felipe Melo, Inan, Sneijder (Amrabat 46),
Burak Yilmaz, Drogba.

Subs Not Used: Iscan, Balta, Kurtulus, Colak.

Booked: Muslera, Amrabat, Nounkeu, Inan.

Goals: Burak Yilmaz 12.

Schalke 04: Hildebrand, Hoger, Howedes, Matip, Kolasinac, Draxler (Barnetta 84), Jones, Neustadter, Michel Bastos, Farfan,
Huntelaar (Pukki 75).

Subs Not Used: Fahrmann, Obasi Ogbuke, Metzelder, Fuchs, Meyer.

Booked: Jones,Kolasinac,Hoger.

Goals: Jones 45.

Att: 45,000

The second half was decidedly less open, although Yilmaz nearly gave the hosts a slender lead heading into the second leg but could only fire wide of the target.

Gala duo Didier Drogba and Wesley Sneijder both made their returns to the Champions League after completing recent moves from Shanghai Shenhua and Inter Milan respectively.

But it was Yilmaz who produced a moment of magic worthy of either of the pair when he broke the deadlock in sparkling fashion.

The forward collected the ball from Selcuk Inan on the edge of the area before flicking over Schalke defender Benedikt Howedes with his heel and wonderfully firing into the roof of the net in the 12th minute.

It was a sickening blow for the visitors, who had seen Gala keeper Fernando Muslera make fine saves from both Jones and Klaas Jan Huntelaar in the opening minute.

Nevertheless they nearly levelled almost immediately after Yilmaz's brilliance, but Huntelaar just failed to connect with Howedes' flick-on from Farfan's corner.

Pick that one out: Yilmaz scores past by Schalke's goalkeeper Timo Hildebrand to put Galatasaray ahead

Pick that one out: Yilmaz scores past by Schalke's goalkeeper Timo Hildebrand to put Galatasaray ahead

And in an increasingly open first half, they were nearly made to pay when Howedes fired against the bar with the goal gaping after Drogba had seen his left-footed strike fingertipped away by Schalke goalkeeper Timo Hildebrand.

It was the German side who nearly scored next though, with Semih Kaya deflecting Farfan's cutback wide of his own post, while the influential Schalke striker struck over on the turn despite being given plenty of space in the area.

Back in action: Didier Drogba returned to the Champions League with Galatasaray

Back in action: Didier Drogba returned to the Champions League with Galatasaray

Both sides seemed to view attack as the best form of defence and Drogba, who was making a nuisance of himself in Schalke's backline, played in Yilmaz but he could not lift his effort over Hildebrand.

Yet Schalke drew level on the stroke of half-time courtesy of United States international Jones, who will miss the second leg after picking up a booking for dissent.

Falling down: Klaas-Jan Huntelaar goes down under the challenge of Albert Riera

Falling down: Klaas-Jan Huntelaar goes down under the challenge of Albert Riera

Farfan burst through on goal after Gala had given the ball away in midfield and squared for the free Jones and he calmly struck past Muslera.

It was a far more subdued affair after the interval although Schalke did have a decent penalty appeal turned down when Farfan's fierce strike looked to have cannoned off Sabri Sarioglu's hands, which were raised to his chest.

Back in the game: Jermaine Jones (not pictured) scores past Fernando Muslera to make it 1-1

Back in the game: Jermaine Jones (not pictured) scores past Fernando Muslera to make it 1-1

Take that: Jones celebrates after scoring the equalizer

Take that: Jones celebrates after scoring the equalizer

It was not until late on that the game sprang back into life, with Yilmaz shooting across the face of goal from Drogba's inch-perfect flick-on while Sarioglu's half-volley from the edge of the area was tipped over by Hildebrand.

And Gala's efforts to push for a winner nearly backfired completely when, at the other end, Julian Draxler dribbled to the edge of their box unchecked before shooting inches wide of Muslera's right-hand post.

Shielding the ball: Galatasaray's Felipe Melo is challenged by Schalke's Julian Draxler

Shielding the ball: Galatasaray's Felipe Melo is challenged by Schalke's Julian Draxler

Miroslav Stoch wins goal of the year

What a screamer! Stoch beats Neymar and Falcao to goal of the year

FIFA Puskas award for his stunning volley for Fenerbahce against Genclerbirligi.

The Slovak beat Neymar's goal for Santos and Radamel Falcao's strike for Atletico Madrid to win the award on Monday at FIFA's Ballon D'Or, where Lionel Messi was crowned player of the year.

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Winner: Stoch collects the FIFA Puskas award

Winner: Stoch collects the FIFA Puskas award

But although the Slovakian Stoch, who plays for
Turkish side Fenerbahce, is not as highly-rated as the
other two, his goal certainly deserves the praise.

Stoch kept his cool and his balance to superbly volley into the top corner from the edge of the box against Genclerbirligi in a Turkish Super Lig match.

VIDEO: Watch Stoch's wonder strike

Here is who Stoch beat to the award

Radamel Falcao

Zlatan Ibrahimovic's ridiculous overhead kick against England missed the cut-off date but that sort of athleticism is on display in Falcao's effort against America de Cali.

Again reacting first to a corner, Atletico Madrid's Colombian hitman Falcao flung his body into the air and sent a vicious strike past the bewildered goalkeeper.

Neymar

Neymar's goal is a different type to the other two, its brilliance coming in the form of a hip twisting, dizzying dribble.

Showing poise, grace and fearlessness the Santos star weaved his way in and out of Internacional players before tucking the ball neatly home.

The skill involved in his solo effort is no surprise – the Brazilian won the 2011 Puskas award for a wonderful goal against Flamengo.

And the rest of the FIFA Puskas award nominees

Phil Taylor beats Raymond van Barneveld to reach world Championship final

Power surges: Taylor sets up final date with Van Gerwen after on-stage clash with Van Barneveld in semi-final

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UPDATED:

08:03 GMT, 31 December 2012

Phil Taylor survived a fightback and an angry confrontation with one Dutchman on Sunday night but he will have to overcome the genius of another if he is to lift a 16th world title.

The Power’s eventual 6-4 semi-final victory over his one-time nemesis Raymond van Barneveld was a display of initial clinical efficiency which drifted into nervous hesitancy and a final eyes-bulging stand-off between the pair who required security guards to maintain an uneasy peace.

Taylor will need to add flamboyant brilliance if he is to beat Michael van Gerwen, judging by the heights reached by the 23-year-old in his 6-4 triumph over James Wade.

Head to head: Phil Taylor and Raymond van Barneveld clash at the end of their titanic battle

Head to head: Phil Taylor and Raymond van Barneveld clash at the end of their titanic battle

Head to head: Phil Taylor and Raymond van Barneveld clash at the end of their titanic battle

Head to head: Phil Taylor and Raymond van Barneveld clash at the end of their titanic battle

Head to head: Phil Taylor and Raymond van Barneveld clash at the end of their titanic battle

Head to head: Phil Taylor and Raymond van Barneveld clash at the end of their titanic battle

Clash: Taylor and Van Barneveld go head to head as they leave the stage

Clash: Taylor and Van Barneveld go head to head as they leave the stage

Taylor said: ‘Michael’s talent is the
best I’ve ever seen, even better than me at my peak. I’ve been studying
Michael’s game and he doesn’t even seem to look at his target. I’m
going to do everything on the dart board I can to beat him. I can’t beat
him playing like that.

'Nothing went on, none of us wanted to lose that. He was brilliant there. He stuck in there.
'I said to Raymond backstage, “there's nobody in this room who's a
bigger fan of you than I am”. We're not going to fall out about
anything. It's forgotten. It's done.'

He's done it! Taylor celebrates his win

He's done it! Taylor celebrates his win

Mixed emotions: Taylor reacts as he misses a dart to win the match

Mixed emotions: Taylor reacts as he misses a dart to win the match

Taylor admitted all had not gone
exactly to plan, saying: 'The crowd seemed to get behind him a bit. I
think the crowd wanted another Michael van Gerwen-James Wade match.

'I'm full of cold. I've got a
temperature. I'm shattered. I'm taking energy sweets. I should have gone
to the doctors to get some antibiotics. I'm trying anything to keep my
energy up.

Titanic tussle: Taylor and Van Barneveld go head to head

Titanic tussle: Taylor and Van Barneveld go head to head

Fightback: Van Barneveld came back to scare Taylor

Fightback: Van Barneveld came back to scare Taylor

'I've got a day off on Monday. I'm going to lie in bed most of the day. I'm shattered.'

Taylor displayed sustained scoring
power as he feasted upon the doubts in Van Barneveld’s head, checking
out 141 and 111 in successive legs. In the end it was sheer
determination not to go more than two years without a world title for
the first time in his career which carried him through.

Kevin Kilbane column: time for Shay Given to get in the Villa team

12 goals in two games shows it's time for my old mate Shay to take back the gloves at Villa

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UPDATED:

21:05 GMT, 28 December 2012

Aston Villa conceded 12 goals in two games over Christmas.

It’s time for Paul Lambert to play Shay Given.

Shay Given should be Villa’s No 1, and he should come back to play for the Republic of Ireland and fight Keiren Westwood for the right to play for his country again.

It has been a difficult 2012 for my old Ireland team-mate who struggled with injuries, and by his own admission didn’t match his own high standards in the Euro 2012 finals, probably because he wasn’t fully fit.

Time for a change: Kevin Kilbane (left) thinks it's time for his old Republic of Ireland team-mate Shay Given (centre) to return to action for Aston Villa

Time for a change: Kevin Kilbane (left) thinks it's time for his old Republic of Ireland team-mate Shay Given (centre) to return to action for Aston Villa

He then gave up playing for Ireland, with the backing of new manager Paul Lambert, to concentrate on his Villa career, only to lose his place to Brad Guzan.

Shay is fully fit now, and still hungry to play.

Brad Guzan is not in his league as a keeper and it is time the Villa boss realised it and brought Shay’s brilliance, determination and experience back to his team.

He needs him.

Number two: Villa boss Paul Lambert (right) has preferred Brad Guzan this season, with Given only making two appearances in the Premier League, right at the start of the season

Number two: Villa boss Paul Lambert (right) has preferred Brad Guzan this season, with Given only making two appearances in the Premier League

Lambert did a good job at Norwich City and he deserved the chance to make a step up in his career and manage a bigger club with a history like Villa’s.

But it was always going to be difficult taking over a squad which has been constructed by three managers in a short space of time.

International return: Kilbane would also like to see Given make a return to the national side

Kilbane would also like to see Given make a return to the national side

He has turned to youth and Shay is not the only experienced player who is out of the team.

Darren Bent, Stephen Warnock and Alan Hutton are all out of favour and I can’t help thinking there must be an agenda.

They are all high earners and can presumably leave the club.

But the horrific 8-0 defeat at Chelsea, which could easily have been 11 or 12, exposed the lack of experience in the Villa team.

It is easy for younger players when things are going well and they are winning and playing with confidence.

Lambert, and his young players, need help from lads who have been there before and can take defeats and setbacks.

After a 4-0 defeat like the one suffered at home to Tottenham just days later, older players would normally go round and speak to the younger players on a personal level and try to help them cope.

Realistically no manager can talk to a player on a personal level in the dressing room straight after a game and he needs the old-heads to deal with any issues.

That’s hard when the team is so young. Who can they turn to That’s where a man like Shay Given comes into his own.

He performed brilliantly for Ireland for more than a decade and earned his 100 caps with world class performances.

We lost count of the number of crucial saves or moments of magic he pulled off to keep us in games, and win them like he did against Iran to get us to the World Cup.

Added to that he was an important character in the dressing room. He had 50 caps by his mid-20s and over time found his voice which comes with experience and respect for the things he did between the sticks.

New blood: Sunderland's Kieren Westwood is the current Republic of Ireland no. 1 but hasn't made a league appearance this season

New blood: Sunderland's Kieren Westwood is the current Republic of Ireland no. 1 but hasn't made a league appearance this season

Now I have heard Shay babbling some awful rubbish in dressing rooms and team meetings over the years, but you always listen to him.

And when he shouts during a game, he sort of screeches – it’s the most ear-splitting noise you will hear – but if you hear it, it doesn’t half make you alert.

It’s no coincidence that Aston Villa have had a good run in the Capital One Cup and reached the semi-finals.

Shay has played and it’s time Paul Lambert got his best keeper back in the side and used his experience in the Barclays Premier League.

He has been one of the best the world’s toughest league has seen, and he can reach those heights again.

Which is why he should also come back into the Ireland squad. He has actually played more games than Keiren Westwood who has been unfortunate to lose his place to Simon Mignolet at Sunderland but is realistically not going to oust the impressive Belgian unless he gets injured.

And a lack of experience behind him means Martin O’Neill is unlikely to let the new Ireland number go.

Experience: Kilbane (top row, third from left) and Given (bottom row, right) each earned more than 100 caps at international level

Experience: Kilbane (top row, third from left) and Given (bottom row, right) each earned more than 100 caps at international level

He has played more games for Ireland than Sunderland this season and that has to be a concern with the vital qualifiers against Austria and Sweden coming up in March.

Keiren might not like the idea, but competition from a keeper like Shay could only help him while he is not playing.

Even if Shay is not playing regularly by then, Giovanni Trapattoni should consider recalling him, just to have him around at an important time.

It comes down to experience again. And it’s time Shay’s was put to proper use for club and country.

The future looks grim…

If I was a Liverpool fan I would be very worried about the future of Luis Suarez.

Without him at Stoke City the other night, Liverpool had virtually nothing.

I don’t know if Daniel Sturridge is the answer, but I’ve always liked him and he can certainly help ease the burden on Suarez who worked himself into the ground at the Britannia Stadium.

Worry: Kilbane would be worried about losing Luis Suarez (front) if he was a Liverpool fan

Worry: Kilbane would be worried about losing Luis Suarez (front) if he was a Liverpool fan

But there were just signs that he was getting frustrated with the limitations of the individuals who are supposed to be helping him and creating chances, and perhaps with Liverpool’s standing in the Premier League at the moment.

He is a world class striker in a pretty average team and if a Champions League team from anywhere in Europe comes in with a silly bid, Liverpool might still have the power to turn it down, but you wonder if Suarez’s head would be turned by any interest.

Brendan Rodgers claimed before Christmas his team were still in Champions League contention but on Wednesday’s evidence they are a long way off.

Sadly Suarez looks like he is starting to realise his only chance of immediate Champions League action might be away from Anfield.

The Good and The Bad

Thumbs up

Jon Walters

I don’t think I have seen work-rate like Jon’s against Liverpool. He did everything at a sprint and mad life hell for the Liverpool defenders.

He got two great goals and his interaction with Kenwyne Jones was outstanding.

He’s the same with Peter Crouch and has a reading of their knockdowns and flick-ons which reminds me of Kevin Phillips and Niall Quinn at Sunderland.

All good news for Ireland.

Form: Jon Walters' form can only be a good thing for his country - the Stoke striker scored two against Liverpool on Boxing Day

Form: Jon Walters' form can only be a good thing for his country – the Stoke striker scored two against Liverpool on Boxing Day

Thumbs down

Stats

I said on BBC Radio 5 live at Stoke that I felt they dominated Liverpool and deserved their win.

Then I was reliably informed on Twitter that the stats showed Liverpool had something like 60 per cent possession compared to Stoke’s 40.

That’s all very well but unless you’re going to create any chances, stats are a waste of time.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic: Sweden add verb "to Zlatan" to national dictionary

In honour of our genius! Swedes add verb 'to Zlatan' to national dictionary

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UPDATED:

13:58 GMT, 27 December 2012

Wonder goal: Ibrahimovic celebrates his stunning long-range overhead kick against England

Wonder goal: Ibrahimovic celebrates his stunning long-range overhead kick against England

Sweden has added the verb ‘to Zlatan’ to their national dictionary.

In the country’s latest way of honouring their footballing hero, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, the Swedish Language Council has approved the term, since it has been increasingly used in conversation by Swedes referring to an outlandishly talented action.

The word was originally coined on Les Guignols, a popular satirical puppet show – similar to Spitting Image – from French station Canal Plus, whose characters are in awe of the PSG striker.

To recognise this, the Swedes have even acknowledged the original French spelling of ‘zlataner’, simply tweaking to create ‘zlatanera’ and officially defined it as ‘from the French: to dominate on and off the field.’

Ibrahimovic is currently Ligue 1’s top scorer having netted 18 times for the Parisians. While he is a natural showman, he admitted that he does not rehearse his goal celebrations.

‘When I score a goal, I never know in advance how I will celebrate, given (I’m) the current top scorer in the championship,’ he told RMC Sport.

‘There is so much adrenaline. Timing is everything, the environment, my mood. This is pure emotion.’

Many players have lent their names to particular moves before, but affording their overall brilliance to a verb is a first.

Johann Cruyff was honoured with the ‘Cruyff turn’ and the 360-degree turn has been attributed to Garrincha – although both Zinedine Zidane and Diego Maradona have staked claim to this.

PSG are currently leading Ligue 1 on goal difference, ahead of Lyon and Marseille and face Valencia in the last 16 of the Champions League in February.

Talisman: Ibrahimovic is the leading scorer in the French top division with 18 goals

Talisman: Ibrahimovic is the leading scorer in the French top division with 18 goals

QPR 1 West Brom 2 match report

QPR 1 West Brom 2: Green own goal sends Hoops to the foot of the table

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UPDATED:

18:27 GMT, 26 December 2012

Robert Green had a day to forget as QPR sunk to the bottom of the table with a controversial home defeat to West Brom.

Harry Redknapp showed great confidence in Green by choosing him ahead of fit-again Julio Cesar, but the decision backfired in the first half as Chris Brunt beat the England stopper from 30 yards with a shot he perhaps should have saved.

Green then dropped the ball in to his own net to give the Baggies a 2-0 lead just after the re-start, although replays showed Marc-Antoine Fortune had impeded the former West Ham stopper as he came to collect the ball as it looped up off Armand Traore.

Helpless: QPR goalkeeper Rob Green reacts to conceding an own goal early in the second-half

Hapless: QPR goalkeeper Rob Green had a day to forget as he failed to keep out the first from Christ Brunt before dropping the ball into his own net for the second goal

Match facts

QPR: Green, Da Silva (Hoilett, 64), Ferdinand, Hill, Traore, Mbia, Faurlin (Diakite, 64), Mackie, Taarabt, Wright-Phillips, Cisse.

Subs not used: Julio Cesar, Derry, Granero, Dyer, Ehmer.

Goals: Cisse 68

Booked: Mbia

West Brom: Foster, Jones, McAuley, Olsson, Popov (Ridgewell, 35), Mulumbu, Morrison (Tamas, 86), Fortune, Gera, Brunt, Lukaku (Long, 76).

Subs not used: Myhill, Rosenberg, Dorrans, Odemwingie.

Goals: Brunt 29, Green 49 (og)

Referee: Chris Foy (Merseyside)

Attendance: 17,782

Latest Premier League table and results

Rangers pulled one back through Djibril Cisse, but they otherwise lacked a cutting edge up front that suggests Redknapp will have to make major changes to his squad next month if his team are to avoid relegation from the Barclays Premier League.

There was an element of luck about both West Brom's goals, but other than the occasional flash of brilliance from Adel Taarabt, Redknapp's team offered little going forward and were also shaky at the back.

Kick-off was delayed by 11 minutes after West Brom's team bus was delayed by the Boxing Day sales traffic around Loftus Road.

Redknapp's blast at his under-achieving strugglers following their defeat at Newcastle seemed to have an effect early on today as QPR started promisingly amid miserable weather in west London.

Stephane Mbia fired a drive inches wide as Ben Foster scrambled across his line.

Taarabt nutmegged Brunt with a brilliant piece of skill, but the northern Irishman tripped the Moroccan up to prevent him from unleashing a shot at goal.

Youssouf Mulumbu and James Morrison both had wayward long-range efforts, but QPR were otherwise unthreatened as Clint Hill and Anton Ferdinand kept the powerful Romelu Lukaku at bay.

Wright-Phillips produced a dazzling piece of skill to beat Mulumbu and Billy Jones but Jamie Mackie could only head the winger's cross tamely wide.

QPR looked the more likely of the two sides to score, but it was the Baggies fans who were celebrating just before the half hour when Brunt put the visitors ahead.

Captain marvel: Christ Brunt opened the scoring for West Brom with a low drive from outside the area

Captain marvel: Christ Brunt's 30 yard strike opened the scoring for West Brom, although Rob Green maybe should have saved it

Not enough: Djibril Cisse's (middle) goal with 22 mins left was not enough as QPR now sit bottom of the league

Not enough: Djibril Cisse's (middle) goal after 68 mins was not enough – QPR now sit bottom of the league

The midfielder picked the ball up from Fortune and strode at goal before unleashing a 30-yard drive that sailed in to the bottom right-hand corner of Green's goal.

Although he was slightly unsighted by two of his defenders, replays showed the England goalkeeper should have maybe done better.

Morison almost made it 2-0 seconds later with a clever volley, but the home side regained their composure and went close through Mbia and Taarabt.

Battle: West Brom's Youssuf Mulumbu (red) won his duel with Stephane M'Bia

Battle: West Brom's Youssuf Mulumbu (red) won his duel with Stephane M'Bia

Rangers still looked suspect at the back, however. A bizarre mix-up between Traore and Hill allowed Brunt some time on the edge of the box but he could only shoot wide.

Albion, sensing the opportunity to score a second just before the break, continued to push forward and almost found the net in injury time through Morrison.

After the break the story remained the same. Lukaku found space in the box, but could only prod weakly at Green and Anton Ferdinand almost turned Jones' cross in to his own net.

Talisman: QPR's Adel Taarabt failed to get on the scoresheet as QPR slipped to the foot of the table

Talisman: QPR's Adel Taarabt failed to get on the scoresheet as QPR slipped to the foot of the table

Mbia summed up the lack of quality in front of goal for QPR when he wriggled free from his marker to meet Taarabt's corner, but his header flew straight back at the Moroccan, rather than at goal.

The home fans were then outraged as West Brom doubled their lead in controversial circumstances.

Traore attempted to clear Brunt's corner but instead his header looped back towards his own goal. Green attempted to collect the ball but he was impeded by Fortune, who leaned in to the stopper, causing him to drop the ball in to his own net.

West Brom celebrate as Steve Clarke's men move up to 5th in the table

West Brom players celebrate their first win in five games

QPR manager Harry Redknapp and assistant Joe Jordan

West Brom manager Steve Clarke

Harry Redknapp and Joe Jordan in discussion during the 2-1 loss to West Brom. Albion boss Steve Clarke saw his side move up to fifth in the table

The away fans ironically chanted Green's name as the Rangers players demanded Fortune be penalised for the foul, but referee Chris Foy shook his head and the goal stood.

Green gathered his composure to save well twice from the impressive Lukaku and Samba Diakite.

Albion took their foot off the accelerator and paid the price in the 69th minute when Cisse latched on to Mbia's slide-rule pass and lifted the ball over the advancing Foster.

Battle: West Brom's Billy Jones (red) attempts to stop QPR winger Shaun Wright-Phillips from getting in the cross

Battle: West Brom's Billy Jones (red) attempts to stop QPR's Shaun Wright-Phillips from getting in the cross

QPR threw everything at the away goal looking for an equaliser, but they struggled to test Foster.

At the other end Fortune thought he had killed the game off when he beat Green with six minutes to go, but his strike was correctly called offside.

Foster saved brilliantly on the line from QPR captain Clint Hill in the last minute.

Appeal: QPR thought they should have been awarded a penalty in the dying minutes but were waved away by referee Chris Foy

Appeal: QPR thought they should have been awarded a penalty in the dying minutes but were waved away by referee Chris Foy

QPR thought they should have had a
penalty in the first of five agonising added minutes for the home fans,
but Foy waved play on when Liam Ridgewell handled Mbia's header in the
box.

The home side went on
the attack again, but Foster could not be beaten and Rangers slumped to
the second defeat of Redknapp's reign.

Redknapp (right) and the QPR staff will have to regroup for thome clash against Liverpool on Sunday

The January Sales can't come soon enough for Redknapp (right) and the QPR staff who will have to regroup for thome clash against Liverpool on Sunday

England v India: How Alastair Cook, Kevin Pietersen, Monty Panesar and co rated – Top Spin

From the brilliance of Cook to Broad's Tour nightmare… how England's heroes rated in India

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UPDATED:

14:11 GMT, 18 December 2012

What better way to celebrate England's first series win in India since 1984-85 than by lavishing on Alastair Cook's heroes some marks out of 10 Here's the Top Spin's man-by-man guide to a famous few weeks…

Alastair Cook 9

Thank goodness there was no DRS: had Cook been given out lbw for 41 during his second-innings 176 at Ahmedabad, the knock which allowed the players to go to bed – Cook's own phrase – believing they could play India's spinners would not have materialised. Instead, England's new captain kept ramming home the point, with 122 at Mumbai and 190 at Kolkata.

/12/18/article-2249975-1690D5BF000005DC-242_468x328.jpg” width=”468″ height=”328″ alt=”Welcome back: England heroes Cook and Panesar arrive in London on Tuesday” class=”blkBorder” />

Welcome back: England heroes Cook and Panesar arrive in London on Tuesday

Top Spin

And he is now one of only four England captains – Douglas Jardine, Tony Greig and David Gower are the others – to have won a Test series in India.

Runs: 562, High Score: 190, Average: 80.28

Nick Compton 6

Amid the immediate post-match celebrations at Nagpur, Compton cut a slightly dejected figure, quietly reasoning that he had not contributed in the manner of some of his team-mates.

And yet four successive opening stands with Cook of 50-plus were a vital part of the team's ecosystem, and the partnership of 166 at Kolkata laid the base for series-clinching lead.

There was merit as well in the way Compton overcame a poor start to the warm-up matches, when the dual pressures of having a famous grandfather – feted in these parts – and keeping out Joe Root might have taken their toll. Only in his failure to pass 57 after making several starts counted against him.

Runs: 208, High Score: 57, Average: 34.66

Steady: Compton didn't contribute in the manner of some of his team-mates

Steady: Compton didn't contribute in the manner of some of his team-mates

Jonathan Trott 7

It was all OK in the end, because Trott was able to revel in his natural game both in Kolkata and Nagpur, and he was no longer playing down the wrong line to the spinners. But two ducks in his first three innings suggested he might embody England's 2012 struggles against Asian spin.

The things changed. His hands became softer, and the work of the opening batsmen and the bowlers – who didn't allow India past 327 after Ahmedabad – meant he didn't walk out under quite the same pressure again.

And while Trott was drawing what little sting remained from India's bowlers in the last day and a half at Nagpur, it's quite possible England felt they could not have chosen a better man for the job.

Runs: 294, High Score: 143, Average: 42.00

On form: KP was one of England's star performers in India

On form: KP was one of England's star performers in India

Kevin Pietersen 8

Pietersen's ascent from the ridiculous of Ahmedabad to the sublime of Mumbai was one of many beguiling tales offered by this tour.

In a series characterised by careful batting, that 186 at the Wankhede was challenged only by Virender Sehwag's curtain-raising ton.

Of course, we may be back into the realms of Steve Archibald and his now-hackneyed take on team spirit, but Pietersen's reintegration seemed genuine enough – not least when Jimmy Anderson ran all the way to point to leap into his arms after bowling Sehwag for a first-over duck in the fourth Test.

Just as revealing were two selfless fifties: in Kolkata, he immediately changed the mood of a turgid third day by hitting the first three balls after tea to the fence; in Nagpur, he ground out 73 when every fibre of his being must have urged him to be reckless.

Can people say England managed him badly now

Runs: 338, High Score: 186, Average: 48.28

Ian Bell 6

If he redeemed himself – and his mediocre career record in India – with a series-confirming hundred on the last day of the series, then it was not entirely clear whether Bell quite appreciated the trouble he could have been in.

His first-baller at Ahmedabad could have haunted him to the end of his career had Jonny Bairstow made runs in Mumbai, when Bell was back home with his new baby. But Bell returned immediately for Eden Gardens, where he made sure 8 for 3 on the final morning did not become a calamity, and then brushed aside a lame first-innings chip off Piyush Chawla at Nagpur to steer England stylishly to safety.

Runs: 172, High Score: 116*, Average: 43.00

Centurion: Bell saved his Tour with a series-confirming ton

Centurion: Bell saved his Tour with a series-confirming ton

And the good news for him is that England's 15 Tests in 2013 are all against either New Zealand or Australia, with their emphasis on seam bowling.

Samit Patel 6

He didn't do a lot wrong – the recipient of two poor decisions at Ahmedabad, he put together important cameos in the first innings at Mumbai and Kolkata, where Sehwag might easily have dropped the slip catch which cost Patel his wicket.

But the decisive contribution was lacking, and when it became clear that Monty Panesar's left-arm spin needed no back-up, Patel's early-tour status as one of England's most assured players of spin no longer counted for much. It seems harsh, but there is a good chance he will never play a Test match for England again.

Runs: 69, High Score: 33, Average: 17.25

End of the road: Will Samit Patel play for England again

End of the road: Will Samit Patel play for England again

Matt Prior 8

Prior's role in the life-affirming follow-on at Ahmedabad was easy to overlook while Cook was rewriting the record books, but the contrast throughout the series of his punchy counterattacks and the generally insipid offerings of MS Dhoni gave England heart and belief.

And his 57 at Nagpur, after England had slipped to 139 for 5, was a series-rescuer. If there remain some doubts about his glovework up to the stumps, his keeping standing back and his all-round selflessness were a reminder that there is no more valuable No 7 in Test cricket.

Runs: 258, High Score: 91, Average: 51.60
Catches: 6 Stumps: 1

Matt finish: Prior proved invaluable again for England

Matt finish: Prior proved invaluable again for England

Graeme Swann 8

So much for a steady decline. From the first day of the series, when Swann alone took the fight to India's rampaging top order, via Mumbai (where he was a canny foil to Panesar) and Kolkata (where he altered the mood of the fourth day by bowling Sehwag with the first ball after lunch) – from there all the way to Nagpur, where he took his series tally to 20, surpassed by no one, England's off-spinner was one their four most valuable players.

The extent to which he outbowled Ravi Ashwin – more tweak, more oomph, more accuracy – gradually eroded India's credibility. And he finally decided he fancied a bat as well: at Nagpur he made his first Test fifty for three years, and took England to 330, which was a basis for negotiation. One plea, though: please bin the reverse-swipe.

Runs: 98, High Score: 58, Average: 32.66
Wickets: 20, Average: 24.75

Spin kings: Swann and Panesar helped guide England to an impressive series win

Spin kings: Swann and Panesar helped guide England to an impressive series win

James Anderson 8

His improvement as the series went on was a joy to behold, and Dhoni would single Anderson out as the difference between the sides.

At Ahmedabad, his and England's failure
to find reverse-swing compared badly with India's success. At Mumbai,
the ball barely swung conventionally either, but Anderson exploited the
one that did, trapping Gautam Gambhir with the second delivery of the
match. And when he did find reverse, at Kolkata, he was sublime.

Beer we go: Anderson celebrates

Beer we go: Anderson celebrates

But no session exemplified his fitness, skill and stamina better than the third evening at Nagpur. Virat Kohli and Dhoni had batted all day, and India were thinking in terms of a handy lead. But Anderson roared in for the final hour to energise England. Four wickets fell, and India could never push on. It was world-class.

Runs: 17, High Score: 9, Average: 4.25
Wickets: 12, Average: 30.25

Monty Panesar 8

If English groundsmen could produce tracks like the Wankhede at the click of Panesar's weirdly long spinning fingers, he would end up with one of the great all-time Test records.

Instead, the shame is that we may need to enjoy him while conditions last. Because at Mumbai he was magnificent, driving the Indians onto the back foot with his pace, and thus opening up lbw against the right-handers.

When Pragyan Ojha protested that not every spinner could match the mphs achieved by Monty, he did so with a telling air of resignation. But he could defend as well, and Cook rightly called him a 'captain's dream' after he got through 52 uncomplaining overs for 81 in the final Test. He seems to be setting his own fields with conviction too. But when will we see him again

Runs: 5, High Score: 4, Average: 2.50
Wickets: 17, Average: 26.82

Stuart Broad 3

It was a tour to forget for England's vice-captain, who bruised a heel, scuffled with Ian Botham on Twitter, and failed to claim a wicket in 36 expensive overs. He was scolded publicly during a press conference with the normally phlegmatic bowling coach David Saker. He'll be back. But he won't be able to put this tour behind him quickly enough.

Runs: 34, High Score: 25, Average: 11.33
Wickets: 0, Ave: –

Road to recovery: Broad won't remember this Tour with much fondness

Road to recovery: Broad won't remember this Tour with much fondness

Tim Bresnan 4

Once England's talisman, Bresnan played only in the defeat at Ahmedabad and the draw at Nagpur, where he bowled his heart out but lacked Anderson's class. If Steven Finn can stay fit in the years ahead, Bresnan may revert to the place on the bench which some – perhaps rather too readily at times – always regarded as his destiny.

Runs: 39, High Score: 20, Average: 13.00
Wickets: 0

One-test wonders
Steven Finn 8

Who knows whether Finn might have flogged some life out of the Nagpur pitch, but his spell on the fourth afternoon at Eden Gardens fulfilled all the hopes and dreams the management had invested in him before he tweaked a thigh muscle on the opening day of the tour.

Runs: 4, High Score 4*
Wickets: 0

Joe Root 9

His remarkable debut blockathon spelled bad news for India's bowlers and possibly for Compton. And he had the nerve to unveil the reverse-sweep on the last day at Nagpur as well.

Runs: 93, High Score: 73, Average: 93.00

Luis Suarez won"t be sold, says Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers

We'll build squad round Suarez, says Rodgers as Liverpool boss says star won't be sold

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UPDATED:

22:30 GMT, 18 November 2012

Three subjects have dominated Liverpool's peculiar season and they emerged again after the 3-0 dismantling of Wigan.

Luis Suarez's brilliance, the precocity of Raheem Sterling and what happens in January have been recurring themes, so it was appropriate chairman Tom Werner provided some answers after Liverpool's seventh undefeated Barclays Premier League game.

Without Suarez, whose double took his tally for the campaign to 13, Liverpool's prospects would be bleak and many will wonder how long he will stay if the club cannot provide him with Champions League football.

At the double: Suarez scored two goals in Liverpool's win over Wigan

At the double: Suarez scored two goals in Liverpool's win over Wigan

At the double: Suarez scored two goals in Liverpool's win over Wigan

Werner, however, made it clear Fenway Sports Group, Liverpool's owners, have no intention of trading in the crown jewels and they intend to back manager Brendan Rodgers in the new year with the funds to ease the goalscoring burden on the Uruguayan.

'Luis is a beautiful player to watch and, as a Liverpool fan, I hope I'm watching him for many years to come,' said Werner.

'Would we consider selling him Absolutely not.

'Our intention is to strengthen the squad but actions will speak louder than words. Hopefully, the fans will be pleased with what we accomplish.'

Suarez came under attack from Wigan manager Roberto Martinez who accused him of a 'stamp' on midfielder David Jones in the 63rd minute.

No action was taken by referee Kevin Friend but under FA regulations, because it occurred during play and was not an off-the-ball incident, it is considered as having been seen and no more action can be taken.

Arsenal v Fulham plus five other live Premier League games

PREMIER LEAGUE LIVE: Follow the action from around the grounds as it happens

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UPDATED:

15:52 GMT, 10 November 2012

Follow Sportsmail's coverage of the Barclays Premier League as Arsenal's London derby at home to Fulham starts the weekend along with five other 3pm kick-offs. Elsewhere it is Everton v Sunderland, Reading v Norwich, Southampton v Swansea, Stoke v QPR and Wigan v West Brom. Send me your thoughts on the action at [email protected] or contact me on Twitter @Ripinho.

Premier League live scores (3pm)

Click here for the live goals as they go in

Arsenal 2-2 Fulham

Everton 0-1 Sunderland

Reading 0-0 Norwich

Southampton 0-0 Swansea

Stoke 0-0 QPR

Wigan 1-2 West Brom

Click here for the live Premier League table

All the latest from the Championship

All the latest from League One

All the latest from League Two

All the latest from the SPL

15.50: Half-time: Reading 0-0 Norwich

Half-time: Wigan 1-2 West Brom

15.49: Half-time: Arsenal 2-2 Fulham

Half-time: Everton 0-1 Sunderland

15.48: Half-time: Southampton 0-0 Swansea

Half-time: Southampton 0-0 Swansea

15.48: GOAL! Everton 0-1 SUNDERLAND

15.46: GOAL! WIGAN 1-2 West Brom

15.45: GOAL! Wigan 0-2 WEST BROM

The credit goes to Billy Jones, whose cross is a decent one across the penalty area but the goal goes to Gary Caldwell who turns the ball into his own goal.

15.42: GOAL! Arsenal 2-2 FULHAM

Who saw this coming at 2-0 Berbatov is involved again as he crosses for Alex Kacaniklic to head home an equaliser for the Cottagers.

15.39: Instant response from Sunderland though as Jack Colback forces a fine low save from Howard.

15.36: Close to an opener for Everton. Leighton Baines cross picks out Nikica Jelavic inside the box, but the Croatian fires over the crossbar.

A hamstring injury has forced Kevin Mirallas off for the home side with Steven Naismith on in his place.

15.33: GOAL! Wigan 0-1 WEST BROM

What a side this Baggies side are becoming. It's brilliance all round, first from Chris Brunt's cross, then from James Morrison's finish from close range.

15.30: GOAL! Arsenal 2-1 FULHAM

Deary me, Arsenal still can't defend corners as former Tottenham striker Dimitar Berbatov heads home Bryan Ruiz's set-piece unmarked.

15.28: Fairly even game still at Reading as Bradley Johnson fires over for Norwich following good play from Wes Hoolahan.

15.25: GOAL! ARSENAL 2-0 Fulham

Strange scenes at the Emirates. Kieran Richardson has had to go off with a hamstring injury, but the visitors failed to send on a sub and have conceded with 10 men.

Mikel Arteta finds himself in acres of space before unselfishly squaring for Lukas Podolski to fire home. Alex Kacaniklic finally comes on for the Cottagers.

15.22: From Sportsmail's Dominic King at Goodison Park:

Lively start here. Two players stand out for Everton: Baines & Mirallas. If Moyes thinks Mirallas can still improve, he'll be some operator.

Saying that Sunderland have had best chances. Sessegnon and Fletcher both might have done better when through on goal, Sessegnon especially.

15.20: From OptaJoe:

0 – Following Olivier Giroud's goal, Sunderland are now the only Premier League side yet to score a headed goal this season. Nuts.

15.17: And another chance for Southampton as Gaston Ramirez curls narrowly wide from 20 yards.

15.15: The Southampton fans sung praises for under pressure Nigel Adkins before the game, and their team seems to be responding.

Ricki Lambert nods the ball down to Adam Lallana but his strike is well saved by Swansea's Gerhard Tremmel.

Head boy: Olivier Giroud's header from Theo Walcott's corner gave Arsenal the lead against Fulham

Head boy: Olivier Giroud's header from Theo Walcott's corner gave Arsenal the lead against Fulham

15.12: GOAL! ARSENAL 1-0 Fulham

It's not often we see the Gunners threaten from a set-piece but they take the lead with one at the Emirates Stadium as Olivier Giroud heads home Theo Walcott's corner.

15.10: Stephane Sessegnon appears to be playing up front with Steven Fletcher today and it very nearly pays instant reward for Sunderland.

The latter plays in the former but Tim Howard makes a great save to deny the forward.

15.07: QPR come out fighting at Stoke, with Djibril Cisse's cross for Junior Hoilett at the back post just evading the forward.

15.04: Even start at Arsenal, with Fulham's Bryan Ruiz seeing a shot on goal deflected wide.

Respect: Reading players observe a minutes' silence before their game against Norwich

Respect: Reading players observe a minutes' silence before their game against Norwich

15.01: After a minutes' silence for Remembrance Sunday tomorrow, we get underway.

15.00: From Sportsmail's Dominic King at Goodison park:

Great reception, as expected, for Leon Osman as his name is read out. Has a nice ring to describing him as an 'England international'

14.57: The teams are out across the country, one positive sign that kick-off is on the way.

14.54: From InfostradaLive:

Fulham have won one of their last 39 #EPL away London derbies – the1-0 win at #QPR in February #AFC

14.51: As ever we have Martin Keown previewing the weekend's action for Sportsmail, so check out the former Arsenal defender's Boot Room.

14.48: Stoke boss Tony Pulis makes two changes to his first XI for this afternoon's Barclays Premier League clash with QPR at the Britannia Stadium.

The alterations from last Saturday's 1-0 loss at Norwich see winger Matthew Etherington – named in the Potters starting line-up for the first time since the opening day of the season – and midfielder Glenn Whelan replace Michael Kightly and Dean Whitehead, who both drop to the bench.

For the visitors, still looking for their first win of the campaign, there is one adjustment from their 1-1 home draw with Reading last Sunday as Alejandro Faurlin comes in for Jamie Mackie.

Form man: Theo Walcott keeps his place for Arsenal after scoring at Schalke mid-week

Form man: Theo Walcott keeps his place for Arsenal after scoring at Schalke mid-week

14.45: Theo Walcott retains his place in the Arsenal team for only his second Barclays Premier League start of the season as Fulham come to the Emirates Stadium.

Walcott netted in the midweek Champions League draw at Schalke, and the Gunners make only one enforced change as Francis Coquelin replaces suspended midfielder Jack Wilshere.

England international Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain is on the bench after recovering from a hip injury, along with goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny, who had been out with an ankle problem.

Fulham go into the game level on points with Arsenal.

The Cottagers make three changes following last week's draw with Everton, as Ashkan Dejagah, Steve Sidwell and Kieran Richardson come into the starting XI.

14.42: And finally from the Emirates Stadium where Arsenal, despite a wobbly couple of weeks, could go fourth with a victory:

Arsenal v Fulham
Arsenal: Mannone, Sagna, Koscielny, Mertesacker, Vermaelen, Coquelin, Arteta, Cazorla, Walcott, Podolski, Giroud. Subs: Szczesny, Andre Santos, Oxlade Chamberlain, Ramsey, Arshavin, Jenkinson, Chamakh.

Fulham: Schwarzer, Riether, Hughes, Hangeland, Riise, Ruiz, Baird, Sidwell, Richardson, Berbatov, Dejagah. Subs: Stockdale, Senderos, Petric, Karagounis, Duff, Rodallega, Kacaniklic.

Referee: Phil Dowd (Staffordshire)

14.39: Teenage left-back Luke Shaw is set to become the youngest ever Southampton player to start a Premier League match in this afternoon's clash with Swansea.

The 17-year-old came off the bench in Monday's 2-0 defeat to West Brom and is named in the starting line-up at St Mary's, where Jack Cork returns after injury and Jason Puncheon also comes in.

Swansea name the same team that drew 1-1 with Chelsea last weekend, with former Southampton defender Garry Monk captaining the Welsh side.

Young prospect: Luke Shaw (right) makes his first Premier League start for Southampton

Young prospect: Luke Shaw (right) makes his first Premier League start for Southampton

14.36: Bottom of the table Saints look shot for confidence at this point – can Swansea take advantage of a defence that has more holes than a tennis racket

Southampton v Swansea
Southampton: Gazzaniga, Clyne, Yoshida, Fonte, Shaw, Puncheon, Cork, Schneiderlin, Lallana, Lambert, Ramirez. Subs: Kelvin Davis, Hooiveld, Steven Davis, Rodriguez, Fox, Ward-Prowse, Mayuka.

Swansea: Tremmel, Rangel, Williams, Monk, Davies, Ki, Britton, de Guzman, Hernandez, Michu, Routledge. Subs: Cornell, Tate, Dyer, Shechter, Moore, Tiendalli, Agustien.

Referee: Andre Marriner (W Midlands)

14.33: Remember when Wigan would struggle for successive wins Well Roberto Martinez continues to wave his magic at the DW Stadium as the Latics aim to record a third straight Premier League victory which could take them as high as tenth (if they win 7-0):

Wigan v West Brom
Wigan: Al Habsi, Ramis, Caldwell, Figueroa, Boyce, McCarthy, Watson, Beausejour, Kone, Di Santo, Maloney. Subs: Pollitt, Jones, Gomez, McManaman, Boselli, Fyvie, Stam.

West Brom: Myhill, Jones, McAuley, Olsson, Ridgewell, Mulumbu, Yacob, Lukaku, Morrison, Brunt, Long. Subs: Luke Daniels, Popov, Rosenberg, Dorrans, Gera, Odemwingie, Tamas.

Referee: Neil Swarbrick (Lancashire)

14.30: Everton manager David Moyes names an unchanged side for the visit of Sunderland as the Toffees look to extend their seven-match unbeaten run.

The Scot sticks with the same 11 which drew at Fulham last weekend, their fourth successive league draw.

Sunderland are without captain Lee Cattermole and Phil Bardsley, both injured, so Danny Rose and James McClean return to the side as the only two changes from the defeat at home to Aston Villa.

14.27: Big opportunity for Everton this afternoon when they host a shot-shy Sunderland at Goodison Park. Three points will put them just two points behind third-placed Manchester City:

Everton v Sunderland
Everton: Howard, Coleman, Jagielka, Heitinga, Baines, Mirallas, Osman, Neville, Pienaar, Fellaini, Jelavic. Subs: Mucha, Oviedo, Naismith, Distin, Hitzlsperger, Gueye, Vellios.

Sunderland: Mignolet, Gardner, O'Shea, Cuellar, Rose, Johnson, Larsson, Colback, McClean, Fletcher, Sessegnon. Subs: Westwood, Wickham, McFadden, Kilgallon, Vaughan, Bramble, Saha.

Referee: Lee Mason (Lancashire)

Djibril to the rescue: Cisse scored QPR's equaliser in a 1-1 draw with Reading last Sunday

Djibril to the rescue: Cisse scored QPR's equaliser in a 1-1 draw with Reading last Sunday

14.24: Speaking of first wins, that's what QPR will try do achieve when they visit the Britannia Stadium:

Stoke v QPR
Stoke: Begovic, Wilkinson, Huth, Shawcross, Cameron, Nzonzi, Walters, Whelan, Adam, Etherington, Crouch. Subs: Sorensen, Palacios, Jones, Whitehead, Upson, Kightly, Jerome.

QPR: Julio Cesar, Bosingwa, Ferdinand, Nelsen, Traore, Diakite, Faurlin, Granero, Hoilett, Taarabt, Cisse. Subs: Green, Derry, Hill, Wright Phillips, Mackie, Onuoha, Zamora. Referee: Martin Atkinson (W Yorkshire)

14.21: Reading goalkeeper Adam Federici is handed his first league start since August as the Royals look for their first Barclays Premier League win of the season at home to Norwich.

Federici comes back into Brian McDermott's line-up for his first league appearance since the 4-2 defeat at Chelsea in the second game of the season, with first-choice goalkeeper Alex McCarthy missing due to a shoulder injury.

Chris Hughton names the same Norwich side that secured a 1-0 victory at home to Stoke last weekend hoping to pick up a first away league win of the campaign.

14.18: First bit of news comes from the Madejski Stadium, where bottom-three side Reading are still searching for their first win of the season:

Reading v Norwich
Reading: Federici, Gunter, Morrison, Gorkss, Shorey, McCleary, Leigertwood, Tabb, McAnuff, Roberts, Hunt. Subs: Stuart Taylor, Mariappa, Pogrebnyak, Le Fondre, Kebe, Robson-Kanu, Cummings.

Norwich: Ruddy, Whittaker, Turner, Bassong, Garrido, Snodgrass, Tettey, Johnson, Pilkington, Hoolahan, Holt. Subs: Bunn, Howson, Jackson, Morison, Elliott Bennett, Tierney, Ryan Bennett.

Referee: Chris Foy (Merseyside)

14.15: Last week it was the Capital One Cup, this weekend it is the Champions League and Europa League that the Premier League has a tough task to follow up.

Europe's action mid-week received a double thumbs up from me, so minus the offside controversy and floodlights failures – let's hope for more of the same today.

Team news as ever is on the way.

Back on track Lukas Podolski's Arsenal will hope to bounce back from last week's loss at Manchester United

Back on track Lukas Podolski's Arsenal will hope to bounce back from last week's loss at Manchester United