QPR 1-3 Brentford: Watkins double earns derby bragging rights

Ollie Watkins scored twice as Brentford earned a 3-1 win over west London rivals QPR, who missed a chance to move into the Championship’s top two.

Brentford striker Watkins, 23, headed his side into a 23rd-minute lead at the Kiyan Prince Foundation Stadium on Monday after being picked out by Bryan Mbeumo, who atoned for an earlier miss.

QPR would have climbed into an automatic promotion spot with victory and they were back on level terms three minutes into the second half through Grant Hall’s near-post header.

Said Benrahma restored Brentford’s lead from the penalty spot on the hour mark after Mbeumo was adjudged to have been tripped by Josh Scowen, though, and Watkins sealed a third successive win for the visitors with a stoppage-time tap-in.

Could Mesut Ozil go to MLS?

Mesut Ozil’s time at Arsenal could be getting to an end very soon. Arsenal playmaker has not been playing this season almost at all and Unai Emery is ready to offer the German player to other clubs, as he is taking up a huge part of the club’s wage bill.

But where could Ozil go in January 2020? The latest reports are suggesting that it could be Major League Soccer. According to The Guardian, Ozil is reportedly considering a move to the United States and the two clubs mentioned in such conversation are D.C. United and Inter Miami.

These options make quite a lot of since, as D.C. United have lost their main star Wayne Rooney to Derby County in the offseason, while Inter Miami are still looking which international name could become the face of their franchise.

The Guardian are suggesting that Ozil has been hoping that Emery would be sacked, but in the absence of a managerial change he is considering his options.

Newcastle want Chelsea talent on loan

If you are a young and talented player at Chelsea, it is a good time for you to be playing there. Unlike in recent years, even more than a decade, it is now much easier to play for the Blues if you are a hot prospect. But nevertheless, some of their youngsters could still be going out on loans, despite Frank Lampard being eager to offer them a chance.

One of those players could be Reece James, if the media talks hold any truth. According to The Sun, Newcastle United are interested in signing Chelsea full-back Reece James on a loan. It would be a six-month deal, which would see James spend the rest of the season at St James’ Park. The Magpies are, reportedly, considering a January approach for the 19-year-old that many have already been talking about.

However, the Blues would most probably want the young defender to remain at the club and continue competing for his place at Stamford Bridge. James has featured twice for Chelsea in the Premier League this season.

I´m not a fan at all – VAR ruining Premier League atmosphere, says Milner

Liverpool midfielder James Milner believes the atmosphere at Premier League games is being “ruined” by VAR and has called for a review of its use.

There were yet more high-profile incidents involving the technology this weekend, with Arsenal and Everton both on the receiving end of highly contentious calls.

Milner is the latest player to question VAR in its current guise, claiming it leaves supporters unsure whether to celebrate a goal due to a fear it will be ruled out.

“I’m not a fan at all,” he told The Guardian. “It might just be the old school part of me, but I think there’s still too much debate around VAR. 

“Goal-line technology is incredible – it’s instant decision. Black and white. But it’s very hard to use VAR when you’ve still got opinions on the decisions and the atmosphere is being ruined. 

“You score, there’s an explosion of noise and then it’s over to VAR. You wait. Is it a goal?”

Milner benefited from a late VAR intervention to convert a stoppage-time penalty in Liverpool’s 2-1 win against Leicester City on October 5.

The 33-year-old has sympathy for match officials but worries the system is having a negative impact on the sport.

“I had the experience of a penalty the other week,” he said. “That was a new experience as they’re debating if it’s going to be a penalty.

“I think there’s use for it – if we can improve it. But football is a game of human error on the field and in officiating as well. 

“They have a very tough job and I’m all for making their lives easier, but not at the expense of the flow of the game.

“If the VAR took away controversy I’d back it 100 per cent. But we’re still having discussions about VAR. I don’t think many footballers feel differently.”

Liverpool lead the way at the top of the Premier League after 10 matches, sitting six points clear of reigning champions Manchester City.

After coming out second best in a tense title battle with City last season, the ex-England international is hoping the Reds can go one step further this term.

“It’s so difficult to win the league,” he said. “I’ve been fortunate to win it a couple of times and last year we were so close. 

“We were flying. We were winning every week and felt we should be 10 points clear. And you’re still second. 

“Last year, if you’d have said: ‘You’ll only lose one [league] game all season,’ I’d have snapped your hand off. But it wasn’t good enough.

“This season we have a team that can do it. I think there’s a calm around the club, both inside and outside, and people are confident we can get it done. 

“But City are so good they’re capable of winning every game. The gap is not that big so we have to just keep pushing, and not worry too much about the title.”

Andonovski replaces Ellis as USWNT head coach

Vlatko Andonovski has been named the new head coach of Women’s World Cup winners the United States, replacing outgoing boss Jill Ellis.

Ellis stepped down in July after leading USA to a successful defence of their World Cup title in France.

US Soccer confirmed Andonovski as Ellis’ successor on Monday, with the former FC Kansas City and Reign FC boss – who has coached in the NWSL for the past seven seasons – “honoured” to land the position.

“It’s a huge honour and I’m very excited to get started with this group of players and staff as we work towards continued success for this programme,” he said in a statement.

“All of the talented coaches and players that have come before have built a legendary tradition of excellence and I’m committed to working very hard to continue to move this programme forward.”

Andonovski has experience of coaching USWNT veterans Megan Rapinoe and Becky Sauerbrunn. 

The 43-year-old’s first game in charge will come against Sweden on November 7.

Ronaldo: ´Healthy rivalry´ with Messi made me a better player

Juventus forward Cristiano Ronaldo believes his “healthy rivalry” with Barcelona counterpart Lionel Messi during his time in LaLiga made him a better player.

Both men have won the coveted Ballon d’Or five times and are considered to be two of the greatest players of all time.

Ronaldo spent nine years with Real Madrid prior to joining Juventus in 2018 and Messi recently acknowledged the pair spurred each other on in their quest for individual honours.

The former Manchester United star has echoed those views, telling France Football: “A lot of people said that we fed each other, that being together in Spain made us better.

“That’s certainly true. I felt his presence more in Madrid than in Manchester. It was a healthy rivalry. We were the symbols of our clubs.

“It’s always nice to be spoken of in a flattering way. It’s nice if they say I’ve been the best, a fantastic player.

“Today, I hear everything they say about me, but when it’s all over, at the end of my career, I won’t mind because I’ll disconnect from everything.”

Ronaldo is well known for his dedication to training and insists hard work off the field has helped him to become one of the all-time greats.

“First of all, you need talent, otherwise you won’t amount to much,” he said. “However, talent is useless without hard work.

“I would never have got to where I am today without the culture of hard work.”

Ronaldo recently netted the 700th goal of his career in Portugal’s 2-1 defeat to Ukraine, 450 of those being scored during his illustrious spell at the Santiago Bernabeu.

Asked to pick his favourite ever goal, the 34-year-old went with his overhead kick in Madrid’s Champions League quarter-final win against current employers Juventus in 2017-18.

“Reaching 700 goals make me proud – it’s an impressive total that few players have reached,” he said.

“If I had to choose a favourite, I would say the one against Juventus because it was a goal I’d been trying to score for years.”

Dyche hits out at ´blatant diving´ in Premier League and says yellow cards are not enough

Burnley boss Sean Dyche says there is a serious problem with “blatant diving” in the Premier League and has called for harsher punishments for simulation.

Callum Hudson-Odoi was booked after going to ground to win a penalty in Chelsea’s 4-2 victory over Burnley at Turf Moor on Saturday.

Dyche said after the match that “it is shambolic how people dive about the place”, with Hudson-Odoi initially having been awarded a spot-kick by referee Michael Oliver before a VAR review.

The 48-year-old has regularly been outspoken when it comes to concerns about how easily players drop to the deck and he believes the issue has reached “unacceptable” levels in English football.

He told talkSPORT: “Just to clear it up, this is nothing against Hudson-Odoi – he’s a fantastic young talent and I’m sure he’s got a great career in front of him – or Chelsea for beating us, because they were too strong for us and Frank [Lampard] is doing a great job.

“This is about the biggest picture of the game. We get told to respect everything and everyone, but the powers that be and certain players at certain times are not respecting the actual game and what it stands for.

“I’m not talking about gamesmanship and clearness of players – that’s been there forever. I was a centre-half, and not a very good one, and if a centre-forward goes past me and I clip his ankles and he goes down, that’s my fault and I accept that.

“We’re talking about blatant diving, people who get no contact at all. These are highly powered and highly athletic players who have incredible balance, and yet somehow they seem to be going to ground all over the place with minimal touch and I think it’s unacceptable.

“The sanction has got to be stronger than just a yellow card. I was flummoxed in the Premier League meeting earlier this year when they said the worst that can happen [if someone dives] is they get a yellow card.

“It’s ridiculous! It gives everyone a free shot. They’ll be doing it all the time. Players will be thinking, ‘I’ll take a yellow card if there’s a chance I might get a penalty.’

“No one really wants to take it on – I seem to be a lone voice in this – but hopefully people will start listening and will try and get rid of it.”

Leicester looking the part as a top-four side

At the beginning of the season, many including myself believed that Leicester were dark horses for the Premier League top-six. I have to admit I thought that the top-four would be a stretch for the Foxes though. However, all the early signs so far this season suggest that Brendan Rodgers side have what it takes to make the top-four.

Win against Southampton was impressive

On Friday night, Leicester broke a Premier League by recording a 9-0 away win at ten-man Southampton. The Foxes did play for much of the match against ten-men after Ryan Bertrand’s first-half sending off. The result was also a strange anomaly.

However, what was impressive was the ruthless nature in which the side from the Midlands took the Saints apart. They could have easily settled on three, four or five goals. They went on and racked up a truly remarkable scoreline, though.

The likes of Ayoze Perez and Jamie Vardy showed no mercy. It was an illustration that the Foxes mean business this season. Everything went right for them, but they had the quality to finish the struggling Saints off in the final third.

Many players looking like top-four players

Its strange as the likes of Arsenal, Manchester United and Tottenham have endured mixed seasons by top-four standards, Leicester are showing no signs of slipping up. The reason for their high level of performances is that the Foxes possess some high-quality players.

The likes of Ben Chilwell, James Maddison and Youri Tielemans are players who have previously been linked with clubs who routinely finish in the Premier League’s top-four. Veteran striker Jamie Vardy famously turned down a big-money move to Arsenal a few seasons back too.

The likes of Tielemans, Chilwell and Maddison would all get teams into the above teams and are of better quality than players already at the aforementioned clubs. Leicester are fortunate to have such quality players. Hopefully, for the clubs sake, these talented players see their future in the Midlands and not at other so-called ‘big clubs’.

The Foxes are one of a select band of clubs to have won the Premier League. However, traditionally they are not a team who fight it out with the big boys at the top of the English top division. If they can keep the current team together and keep adding quality to their squad, then they may become a much more familiar name in the top echelons of English football.

Nice to see a new team in the top-four

Obviously, we all know about Leicester’s ‘miracle’ title victory. It was a remarkable season and it showed that most neutrals want fresh teams in the Premier League top-four and top-six. For too long the same six teams have almost had a monopoly of the top-six.

As a supporter of a team that has not finished in the English top-flight’s top-six for a while, I would love to see Leicester finish in the top-four. They are a likeable team, who play good football and have a good balance.

The bookmakers now seem to believe that the Foxes can finish in the top-four this season too, as Leicester are now odds of 11/8 to qualify for the Champions League, which makes them fourth favourites to achieve that objective in the Premier League.

There is still plenty of time left in the Premier League campaign. However, the Foxes are looking very much at home in the top-four and I for one hope it lasts until the end of the season.

Will Leicester finish in the Premier League top-four this season?

Ribery apologises for shoving official after Fiorentina defeat

Franck Ribery has apologised for pushing an assistant referee following Fiorentina’s Serie A defeat to Lazio on Sunday.

Ribery, who joined the club after leaving Bayern Munich at the end of the 2018-19 campaign, twice shoved the official on the pitch after the Viola’s 2-1 defeat to Simone Inzaghi’s side.

The former France international – who was substituted with 14 minutes of the game remaining – could now face a potentially lengthy ban.

He took to social media on Monday to issue an apology to the official and everyone associated with Fiorentina.

“I’m really sorry for last night,” a post on Twitter read. “I apologise to my team-mates, the coach and the fans. I also apologise to Mr [Matteo] Passeri because at the end of the match I was very agitated and sad, and I hope he can understand my mood.

“I always want to stay on the pitch and help my team-mates because I came all the way to Florence for this city and this club, and I think Fiorentina should get more attention. The same attention given to other clubs, for the great work we’re doing every day.”

Fiorentina owner Rocco Commisso had earlier said the failure of VAR to intervene and disallow Ciro Immobile’s winner led to the ugly scenes.

“It’s a little bit scandalous what happened to us because it will penalise us for a long time,” he said. “Ribery was a bit nervous and he was wrong, even though he had a reason. We’ll see how we move forward.”

Granit Xhaka’s Anger at Being Booed and Whistled at by Arsenal Supporters (Video)

Arsenal captain Granit Xhaka was replaced by Bukayo Saka on the hour-mark of their 2-2 draw against Crystal Palace at the Emirates on Sunday, and some of the supporters actually cheered when their captain was announced as the player to leave the pitch. They booed and whistled at him, prompting an angry reaction and some bad words from the Swiss international.