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Claudio Ranieri: Fulham will never give up, says new manager

Fulham will "never give up" in their fight against relegation from the Premier League this season, says new manager Claudio Ranieri. The Cottagers sacked Slavisa Jokanovic on Wednesday and immediately appointed Italian Ranieri, who guided Leicester to the title in 2016. Fulham are bottom of the table having taken just five points from 12 games. "I hope this season to be safe and then to follow the way of the chairman, to grow upwards," said Ranieri. Jokanovic, who was appointed in December 2015, led Fulham to promotion via the play-offs last season. But the Londoners have lost their past six league games and have conceded a league-high 31 goals so far this season. Ranieri's first game in charge will see Fulham host fellow strugglers Southampton at Craven Cottage on Saturday, 24 November, followed by games against his former clubs Chelsea and Leicester. The 67-year-old Italian told Fulham's website: "I think Jokanovic was a great player but also as a manager he made a very good start to this career. This season I cannot believe what happened. It is a very good quality team. "As an Italian manager, for us the defensive way is the best for the team. It is important to have a strong vision of the defence. Not just the full-backs or goalkeeper, all the team. "For me, the team spirit is important but I know there is a good group. The fighting spirit is very important. We play Southampton and they are a good team with spirit. It is important to be prepared. "I hope our fans push us and we need their strength. We need their support always. We will never give up." Ranieri's Leicester started the 2015-16 season as 5,000-1 outsiders to win the Premier League and were among the favourites for relegation. The Foxes delivered one the greatest sporting shocks of all time as they clinched the club's first top-flight title, described by many as a "miracle". But Ranieri was sacked nine months later and spent last season as Nantes manager. In his first spell in England, he guided Chelsea to second in the Premier League as well as reaching the Champions League semi-finals. Fulham chairman Shahid Khan said he and his son Tony, the club's vice-chairman and director of football operations, spoke to a number of potential candidates over the past week. "What I achieved is the past, I always look forward and I want more," said Ranieri. "I hope to make very good job here. "I felt like coming back to England. Last season I went away abroad to finish my story but my feeling with English football is so high and I wanted to come back. Mr Khan is an ambitious man and I hope to give him what he desires."

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2018-11-15 02:00:00

Benjamin Mendy: Manchester City and France full-back has knee surgery

Manchester City full-back Benjamin Mendy has had surgery on the cartilage in his left knee. No timescale has been given on the 24-year-old's return to action. Mendy missed seven months of City's Premier League-winning campaign last season after rupturing the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee. The former Monaco defender was due to link up with the France squad this week but withdrew and travelled to Barcelona for surgery. Mendy has made 12 appearances this season and played the full 90 minutes in Sunday's 3-1 derby victory over Manchester United.

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2018-11-15 02:00:00

Wayne Rooney: England record goalscorer to be captain during farewell appearance

England's record goalscorer Wayne Rooney will captain the side and wear the number 10 shirt when he comes on to make his farewell appearance. Rooney, 33, retired from international football in 2017 but will win his 120th and final cap in a friendly against the United States at Wembley on Thursday. Fabian Delph will start the match as captain but will hand the armband to Rooney when the DC United striker comes on as a substitute in the second half. Rooney will also get a guard of honour. The former Manchester United and Everton forward initially ended his international career with 119 caps and a record 53 goals. But the Football Association sees Thursday's match as an opportunity to "honour" his "record-breaking international career". Rooney will leave the squad before they face Croatia in the Nations League at Wembley on Sunday. Manchester City player Delph said: "When I first came into the England set-up, Wayne was captain. He welcomed me and put his arm around and made me feel at home. "As soon as he comes on, I will give him the armband back.

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2018-11-15 02:00:00

Chelsea manager Maurizio Sarri says his side need to "sort out the problem" of how they "approach" games after they were held to a scrappy goalless draw by Everton.

Sarri's Blues had the better chances at Stamford Bridge but missed the opportunity to briefly return to the top of the Premier League. "I think we have to sort out the problem of the approach of the match," said Sarri. "Because in the last two or three matches we haven't been approaching the games right. "At the beginning we moved the ball too slowly, so it is easy for the opposition to defend and impossible for us to be dangerous." However, the result means Chelsea have now stayed unbeaten in their opening 12 top-flight games for only the second time in their history. It also secured a small piece of history for Sarri himself, who has become the first Premier League manager to avoid defeat in their first dozen games. Reaction from Sunday's Premier League games A fractious first half saw five players booked before the break, including a flashpoint between Antonio Rudiger and Bernard which saw both players booked - though replays suggested the Everton man had aimed a headbutt at the home defender. And in what was at times a subdued and disjointed game, the clearest chances fell to Marcos Alonso, who saw a volley saved by Pickford, before hitting the post late on. After leaders Manchester City won Sunday's Manchester derby, Chelsea are third in the table - four points off top spot and two points behind Liverpool, who beat Fulham 2-0 at Anfield. Everton remain in ninth, but played their part in west London, with Icelandic playmaker Gylfi Sigurdsson forcing a smart save from Kepa Arrizabalaga on the hour. However, their wait for a Premier League win at Chelsea now extends to 24 matches over as many years. Chelsea, who were armed with the fit-again Eden Hazard in their starting XI, introduced ex-Everton midfielder Ross Barkley from the bench for the closing stages. But he was ultimately unable to make a telling impact in his 10 minutes or so on the pitch as the match fizzled out to a stalemate. History on Chelsea's side in title push? Sarri's Blues seemed subdued when the game got under way and took time to find their stride, even with the lift of Hazard's return. Prior to the latest round of matches, no player had been involved in more Premier League goals this season than the Belgian, who has scored seven and had four assists. In one of his and Chelsea's brightest moments of the match - straight from the start of the second half - he was unlucky to not add to that tally when Morata squeezed between Everton's central defenders to connect with Hazard's cross, only for Pickford to save. On balance, the hosts can probably feel these are two points dropped, but perhaps they can take some comfort in maintaining their unbeaten record. The last time they avoided defeat in their first 12 Premier League games was in 2014-15 - when they went on to lift the title. Everton building momentum Marco Silva's Merseysiders will not be unhappy with their afternoon's work, and go into this month's international break having lost just one of their last six league games. Silva will also surely be pleased with the performance of Colombian summer signing Yerry Mina on his full debut. The

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2018-11-12 02:00:00

Premier League stats: Tight at the top, tough at the bottom and Newcastle's league of nations

Mind the gap - the difference between the top and bottom of the Premier League looks to be wider than ever. In the race for the title, just four points separate Manchester City, Liverpool and Chelsea after all three sides maintained their unbeaten starts to the season this weekend - the first time three teams have avoided defeat after 12 games of a top-flight campaign. At the bottom, Fulham lost again, meaning they have made the third-worst start by any team at this stage of a Premier League campaign. Those results - Manchester City winning the Manchester derby, Liverpool beating Fulham and Chelsea drawing with Everton - leave City two points clear of Liverpool, with Chelsea just two points further back in third. Pep Guardiola's side actually have two points fewer than they did this time last season, but perhaps more significant is what's going on immediately below them. City were eight points clear of second-placed Manchester United this time 12 months ago. Chelsea were third but are three points better off this time around. After their record-breaking 100 points haul last season, it seems City's title rivals have stepped up a level to try and compete. But how does that compare with previous seasons? To put it in perspective, Liverpool have equalled their best start to a Premier League season, matching the total they achieved in 2002-03. Their points tally of 30 would have been enough to top the table at this stage in 18 of the previous 26 Premier League seasons. And the top three's combined points total of 90 is the most collected by the clubs in those positions at this stage of a Premier League season. Mind the gap indeed. Record-breaking Sarri Chelsea may have failed to win this weekend but manager Maurizio Sarri was still able to create a little bit of history. Sunday's goalless draw at Stamford Bridge means the Italian has become the first manager to avoid defeat in his first 12 Premier League games, moving ahead of Frank Clark at Nottingham Forest in 1994-95. It's also just the second time in Chelsea's history that the club have gone unbeaten in their first 12 games of a top-flight season. The first time they did so - in 2014-15 - they went on to win the league under Jose Mourinho. Despite breaking the record, Sarri's total of 28 points from 12 games is only the fifth best start by a Chelsea manager in their first 12 Premier League games. Top of the list is Guus Hiddink, who earned 31 points from his first 12 matches in 2009-10 (Carlo Ancelotti, Luis Felipe Scolari and Jose Mourinho were the other three). Top five dominating bottom five One of the reasons the top three have accrued so many points so far is their dominance over the teams at the bottom. If you take the top five Premier League sides as a whole, they have won 19 out of the 20 meetings with the bottom five so far - with only Crystal Palace's 2-2 draw against Arsenal last month the exception. But is the gap between top and bottom in the Premier League widening? We asked Simon Gleave of data analysts Gracenote to dig deeper into the numbers. He said: "With 40% of matches between the top and bottom five played, the big clubs are more dominant this season than ever before, winning all but one of these games. The top five's win percentage over the bottom five is 95% and they have won 96.7% of the possible points.

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2018-11-12 02:00:00

Man City 3-1 Man Utd: 'Jose Mourinho deluded if he can't see gulf in class'

Manchester City's cursory dismissal of Manchester United simply confirmed their status as the Premier League's outstanding team - and reduced Jose Mourinho to the ranks of the deluded. Pep Guardiola's reigning champions also finished off Manchester United's own title aspirations for this season as City's 3-1 win opened up a 12-point gap between these neighbours that no realist can seriously see being bridged. Mourinho's excuses a poor disguise It may have taken until Ilkay Gundogan's goal four minutes from time to confirm City's win and give the scoreline an appearance the hosts' superiority deserved but the gulf in class and quality had been spread all over Etihad Stadium for the previous 86 minutes. Manchester United defied logic by staying in the game until that closing phase, Anthony Martial's penalty offering faint hope - very faint hope - of a repeat of last season's derby here when they overturned a 2-0 lead to delay City's title celebrations. And while Mourinho, deprived of injured Paul Pogba, mounted a stout defence of his players, his words came accompanied by the sound of straws being clutched. He spoke of fear around the stadium when United made it 2-1 - but if there was, and it was a very dubious claim, United did little to increase it as it was City who looked more likely to add to their lead. If anything, United became even less effective after being given that unlikely lifeline. Mourinho also pointed out that City had, in his words, "friendly" home games in the 6-1 win against Southampton in the Premier League last weekend and the 6-0 Champions League victory against Shakhtar Donetsk, while United had arduous away games at Bournemouth and Juventus before this derby. The jibe might have carried more weight had United been inflicting similar damage on opponents this season. Dig deeper and study Sunday's evidence, however, and the brutal truth is Mourinho fools only himself if he does not accept there is a vast gap between these two clubs. Mourinho points out the scale of City's investment but he has hardly been living on the breadline himself and is currently behind Bournemouth and Watford in the Premier League table. United are the only team in the Premier League's top 10 with a negative goal difference, -1, which puts them effectively 32 goals behind City after 12 games. These are damning statistics. Here, they barely laid a glove on City either side of Martial's penalty. By the time David Silva put City ahead in the 12th minute, United had made only 11 passes, five of which were completed. Mourinho can forget the Premier League title. They are seven points off Tottenham in fourth, so another pre-season target is also becoming tougher to attain. While City were swift and slick - Gundogan's goal came after a 44-pass sequence - United were vulnerable in defence, static in midfield and toothless in attack. Outclassed. Nemanja Matic, Marouane Fellaini and Ander Herrera were like statues as the likes of David and Bernardo Silva moved fluidly around them, the magnificent Fernandinho the glue holding it all together. Mourinho's selection was an open invitation to City domination and for United's loss of Pogba, Guardiola and City could mention the injured Kevin de Bruyne. United are 12 points ahead of Cardiff City - in others words as close to the relegation zone as they are to City at the top. When it was pointed out, Mourinho response was an acerbic: "I think we are not goin

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2018-11-12 02:00:00

Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha: Kasper Schmeichel says crash will always stay with him

Kasper Schmeichel says he will never be able to rid himself of the memory of the helicopter crash that killed Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha, Leicester's owner. The Thai businessman and four others died on 27 October, when the helicopter carrying them crashed outside the King Power Stadium shortly after taking off. "I was on the pitch and I waved him off," said Schmeichel after Saturday's 1-0 win at Cardiff. "It is something that will stay with me, unfortunately." He continued: "I saw it all happen. It's not a nice memory but I've had all the support that I need. The club has been great and everybody has received the support that they needed." Goalkeeper Schmeichel was part of a delegation from the club which arrived in Bangkok on Sunday to attend Srivaddhanaprabha's funeral. Before the Cardiff match the team wore T-shirts featuring a picture of the owner and stood for a minute's silence along with Leicester City staff and fans. Schmeichel joined Leicester in 2011, the summer after Srivaddhanaprabha bought the club. The Denmark international has since played more than 300 games for the Foxes and was a huge figure in Leicester's 2015-16 title-winning season, when they triumphed despite having odds of 5,000-1 at the start of the campaign. Schmeichel said he was "shaking" in the warm-up at Cardiff and he was clearly emotional as the Leicester playing squad and staff stood on the centre circle before kick-off to observe the silence. "It was tough," Schmeichel said. "But we wanted to do it for the chairman and his family. We wanted to be together about this, because we've all lost what feels like a family member. "He brought everybody here and none of this - the memories, this family he's built, the culture he's instilled - would be here without him. "When he took over this club it was in a pretty precarious situation, and to build what he has is quite amazing. "It's one thing building a team and a club that can perform on the pitch, but we're more proud of the family that he's created and the feeling he's instilled in everybody being welcome." 'I haven't really known a feeling like it on the pitch' The Leicester players and staff flew to Thailand straight after the match, in which Demarai Gray's second-half strike secured the points in the Welsh capital. They will return in time to prepare for Saturday's home game against Burnley, the first match to be played at the King Power Stadium since the tragedy. "We talked in the dressing room that there was really no need for gameplans, tactics, all that. It was about controlling our emotions," Schmeichel said of the Cardiff win. "We've had great times, but this was different. It felt like a cup final. I haven't really known a feeling like it on the pitch. "I was just really glad to have won, because for someone to have an impact on so many lives is quite unique. The impact he's had on my family has been amazing and I'm proud to be part of his family."

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2018-11-05 02:00:00

Raheem Sterling is no longer scared - Man City boss Pep Guardiola

Pep Guardiola says Raheem Sterling is a more mature and less "scared" player than the one he inherited when he first took over as Manchester City boss. Sterling scored two goals and made two more in Sunday's 6-1 win over Southampton - a result that returns City to the top of the Premier League. He has scored six times in nine games in 2018-19, having scored 10 in his first season under Guardiola (2016-17). When asked what had changed in the forward, Guardiola replied: "His head." Who infuriated Garth Crooks but still made his team of the week? Relive Sunday's Premier League games, including City's win over Southampton The Spaniard continued: "The first season, he was scared, he was looking, who is the guy I am going to pass the ball to? "We spoke about that and said 'try to score goals'. Now you have the feeling, where is the goal and go over there. "I have the feeling he is now enjoying scoring goals and making assists. He is becoming a winning player. He is stable and is focused on what he has to do to become a better player. "He is more mature now than he was when we first met at the club. He believes more in himself. Hopefully he can be more ambitious and think he can improve. He is 23 and he can be a better player." Guardiola was asked if Sterling can now be considered amongst the world's best players, but replied that the England international still has work to do to be ranked as such. "He is a top player but still is so young to be considered the world's best," said the City boss. "He is in incredible form, he is sharp, fast, clever, fighting, decisive, he can play both sides and can play in the middle and receive the ball between the lines and commit the centre-backs with a lot of aggressiveness. "It was an incredible performance but still with the young guys like him and Leroy [Sane] I would feel he can improve. "Still he loses simple balls, like the Tottenham game, when he made an amazing assist in the first few minutes but then lost a lot of balls."

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2018-11-05 02:00:00

Premier League stats: Man Utd's striking options, Milner's magic 49 and super subs

Anthony Martial and Marcus Rashford both scored for Manchester United on Saturday - but who should lead the line in next Sunday's Manchester derby? By looking at the key Premier League stats from the weekend, BBC Sport looks to provide the answer. We also look at Arsenal's comeback record, reveal James Milner's incredible goalscoring run and identify the league's long-range specialists. But first... Who should play up front for Manchester United? That's been the question many have been asking this season, due largely to Romelu Lukaku's lack of form. The Belgium striker has not scored for United since mid-September but Martial has stepped up to the plate - scoring five goals in his past four Premier League outings. Rashford, another of Jose Mourinho's forward options, also proved his worth on Saturday, as he scored their 92nd-minute winner at Bournemouth. And who could forget about Alexis Sanchez? A once talismanic figure at Arsenal, he now struggles to hold down a starting berth at United. Well, if Mourinho wants goals, Martial is his man. The Frenchman has scored more than any of his team-mates, at the impressive rate of one every 106 minutes, and his shot conversion rate is a whopping 62.5%. By contrast, Lukaku has scored one fewer than Martial, his strikes have come at almost half the frequency and he only coverts a quarter of his shots into goals. Martial is also up there in terms of creativity. Only Sanchez has created more chances than the former Monaco man this season, although he is yet to provide an assist. So, with a tricky Champions League trip to Juventus on Wednesday and the Manchester derby on the horizon, the stats say Mourinho should put his faith in Martial.

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2018-11-05 02:00:00

Wayne Rooney to play for England again: Does it cheapen an England call-up?

Wayne Rooney's expected one-off England return for the friendly against the United States at Wembley is certain to raise eyebrows - and even prompt ridicule - in many quarters. Rooney's England career, which he initially ended with 119 caps and a record 53 goals, did have a low-key conclusion in a 3-0 win against Scotland in November 2016. But, while the game on 15 November will raise money for the Wayne Rooney Foundation, there is a strong argument that giving the 33-year-old one last outing in an England shirt is an indulgence too far and cheapens the honour of winning a cap. There will be the counter view that Rooney's years of England service, which he ended with the formal announcement of his international retirement in August 2017, deserve a proper send-off in front of an appreciative home gallery. Should it be, however, as a player in an England game, effectively reducing the status of the international to a testimonial fixture in all but name? And, for all the arguments against, that is what it will be as a player who self-evidently was out of serious international form and consideration two years ago, and is now in the autumn of his career with DC United in Major League Soccer, is parachuted back into the team (however briefly) to officially pull down the curtain. Rooney was arguably allowed to slip away from England without the fanfare he merited, but it is a major shift in policy and emphasis to allow a player whose international day was done years ago to say his goodbyes decorated in the Three Lions jersey. England manager Gareth Southgate has also been keen to give younger players an opportunity, and has complained about the amount of playing time his new generation have been getting. No matter how ceremonial, does what effectively amounts to a testimonial appearance for Rooney in what is meant to be the new modern era after England's unlikely achievement of reaching the World Cup semi-final seriously chime with this fresh, new-blood approach? This is the argument of realism. Others will be pleased there is still a place for such sentimental gestures amid the hard-nosed environment of international football. Rooney was unfailingly loyal to England, shouldering the heaviest burden and much of the worst criticism when things went wrong - as they did many times in an international career that never hit the heights hoped for when he arrived on the scene as an 18-year-old at Euro 2004 in Portugal. But he never shirked responsibility and was always the player opposition coaches spoke about and feared most when facing England. Rooney's many supporters will be delighted he will get the grand Wembley occasion against the United States; the question is whether he should be given the accolade accompanied by another England cap. England are meant to be moving into a new age, leaving the past, its players and its under-achievements behind. Rooney was an outstanding England player - his record stands as a monument to that - but is he actually worth a place in the current squad? The answer to that was delivered a long time ago - of course not. Is Southgate not better served using this friendly to give experience to the coming generation who may play a significant role in the qualifying campaign for Euro 2020? Rooney will no doubt receive a warm Wembley ovation as he wins his 120th and final cap. He would have had he simply made an appearance on the pitch without taking part in the match its

My fixtures News

2018-11-05 02:00:00
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