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Klopp glad Fifa and Uefa had ‘a bit of a shake’ over Super League ruling

The Liverpool manager, Jürgen Klopp, opposes the European Super League but said he is glad Fifa and Uefa “get a bit of a shake” from a court ruling that curbs their power.

The European Union’s top court ruled against the attempt by Uefa and Fifa to block plans for the breakaway competition. The Premier League club released a statement ahead of Klopp’s press conference to reiterate its position that it is not involved in the Super League and will continue playing in Uefa competitions.

“I agree 100% with that statement, but I like the verdict anyway — just like it that we finally get a little bit of understanding that Fifa and Uefa and other FAs or whatever cannot just do what they want,” Klopp said.

“In football we have to talk about a lot of stuff and if you are just doing those things they do like putting in competitions with more games and nobody has a real say in it… I like that they get a bit of a shake — OK, you cannot exactly do what you want,” he said. “But no, Super League, same opinion like I had before.” (AP)

Big Jürgen. Photograph: James Gill/Danehouse/Getty Images

You can’t beat a nice, polished social media graphic to mark cup final day. The Club World Cup final, Manchester City v Fluminense, kicks off in exactly three hours.

If you missed Jürgen Klopp complaining about the atmosphere at Anfield a couple of days ago, here’s the video:

‘Give your ticket to someone else’: Klopp critical of Anfield atmosphere – video

And courtesy of the Press Association, Marco Silva says Rebecca Welch refereeing the match against Burnley is ‘a matter of quality’:

Fulham boss Marco Silva insists he and his players will treat Rebecca Welch no differently to any other referee ahead of her landmark first Premier League match. Welch will become the first woman to take charge of a top-flight match when Fulham face Burnley at Craven Cottage on Saturday. The 40-year-old became the first female fourth official in the top flight when Fulham hosted Manchester United in November.

Silva said: “It is important, of course. She was the first (female) fourth official in the Premier League in our game at the Cottage as well and we are going to welcome her here again. It should not even be a question, it is a matter of quality and the ability to referee a football match and for sure she has or she’s not going to be at this level.

“For us it will be a normal situation. Of course it will be the first time so everyone has to talk about it, but when the game starts it is going to be another Premier League game, with people with good ability to be a manager, a player or to be a referee.

“For us she is going to be the ref in the game. For us it has to be something normal. I know it’s not normal because it’s the first time but for us it’s completely the same. We will not even talk about it before the match because for us she is the ref like she was the fourth official some weeks ago in our game against Manchester United and for us it was a normal situation. Tomorrow is going to be the same. We have to always respect all the officials and she’s going to be welcomed. She got this chance because she deserves it for sure, and she has the ability to be at the level she is going to be tomorrow.”

Referee Rebecca Welch.
Referee Rebecca Welch. Photograph: MI News/NurPhoto/Shutterstock

It’s been a very good month … But we want to have a better Christmas,” says Fulham’s Marco Silva before the home game with Burnley tomorrow and the Boxing Day meeting away at Bournemouth.

“Christmas hasn’t arrived yet and for us to have a really good Christmas, we have a game tomorrow to win, and that is our aim really, our vision.

“Of course we are going to train on Christmas Day. We are going to prepare, we are going to be together.”

As for meeting Burnley, Silva added: “It’s a really dangerous game, I don’t have doubts about it … When we analyse a team we analyse their strengths, their weaknesses and their organisation, and what I can tell you is that, even without the best results, they are a really well organised team.

Tottenham’s Postecoglou was also asked about their disciplinary record: 46 yellow cards and four reds thus far.

“It’s obviously something that is not great for us, because it’s costing us during games, post games,” Postecoglou said. “The players are well aware of the impact that those kinds of things have and I’m sure they’ll learn from those experiences.

“My experience in football is that the best remedy for those kinds of things is the players feeling like they’re missing out on something. It brings them back into line pretty quickly. Hopefully we keep winning and the guys that miss out learn their lesson that way.”

Marching orders.
Marching orders. Photograph: Michael Regan/Getty Images

Fulham’s Marco Silva will be talking soon.

A bit more from Ten Hag now, on Rasmus Højlund, and Manchester United’s recent lack of goals, and why injuries are partly to blame: “His mentality is great. He’s a very good performer under stress. He deals with that. But it’s not just about Rasmus Højlund. It’s also about Marcus Rashford, about Garnacho, about Antony, it’s also about Bruno Fernandes and Scott McTominay … don’t forget our full-backs, who have to be a big part in that. I’m sure we will work on that fact (goal scoring) as a group … I’m sure we will be improving. If our squad is full, complete, is better balanced … we should create more chances.”

Rasmus Højlund.
Rasmus Højlund. Photograph: Paul Currie/Shutterstock

How did our panel of 218 judges vote for the top 100 men’s footballers of 2023?

Marcus Christenson explains all:

I agree with Claire about Gallagher’s qualities. At a club frequently hampered by bizarre decision-making, potentially selling such a quality midfielder to a direct rival might top the lot.

Chelsea manager Mauricio Pochettino was asked about Conor Gallagher’s future and gave a distinctly non-commital, “I just work here” kind of answer.

“It’s between the club and the player … he’s doing well, he’s doing fantastic for the team,” Pochettino said. “But in another side, talking about the future is more about the club, and the player, and to see what they decide to do.”

Thanks to Chelsea supporter, Claire McConnell, for an email about the prospect of Conor Gallagher leaving Chelsea for Tottenham:

“It would be an unmitigated disaster,” writes Claire. “He knows Chelsea, he’s one of our own. He’s captained the team many times, so Poch has faith in him, and rates him highly. He works oh so hard and provides energy and passion lacking in others. Ok yes I understand FFP, but to fix our spending problems on the back of one of our best players would suggest utter myopia by the ownership, and signify where their interests really lie – please let us keep our Conor.”

Thanks Dom. Enjoy your sandwich.

Right, what’s occurring? Mikel Arteta is on my telly but that was literally five hours ago. Let’s have a look for something else.

I’m off to grab a sandwich, so here’s Luke McLaughlin to see you through the next bit. There’s more pressers aplenty, as well as buildup to that big Club World Cup final, coming up.

Tottenham issue latest on Maddison and Van de Ven

It’s not great news for Tottenham on the injury front right now, with Ange Postecoglou confirming neither James Maddison nor Micky van de Ven are anything like close to returning to training, as they battle hamstring lay-offs.

Both had been key players after signing for big Ange at the start of his reign at Spurs, but he’s had to adapt without them, with the likes of Gio Lo Celso and Ben Davies stepping in.

“They’re both in rehab and neither of them are anywhere near training with the first team at the moment,” said Postecoglou on Madders and Micky.

“If you look at timelines, (they) did it in pretty much in the same game. Micky might be just ahead of schedule in terms of with Madders. Both kind of January and (Rodrigo) Bentancur fairly similar.”

Oh, mate.

Quite, John. Quite.

Why are they still arguing about Mary Earps? It was a public vote. You lost, get over it.

— John Brewin (@JohnBrewin_) December 21, 2023

Jürgen Klopp adds to Liverpool’s statement on the European Super League, speaking at today’s press conference:

On this, Klopp says: “I agree 100% with the statement. I also like that we finally get an understanding that Uefa and other FAs can’t just do what they want, putting in more games with people having no say in it. I like that they’ve got a bit of a shake.”

— Andy Hunter (@AHunterGuardian) December 22, 2023

Another good read here. Hannah Jane Parkinson on a refereeing milestone.

The Luton Town manager Rob Edwards has been speaking today about the ordeal the club went through last weekend, with the collapse of their captain Tom Lockyer due to a cardiac arrest in their game against Bournemouth. Edwards has revealed the unity in his squad and the desire to ‘do it for Locks’ as they take on Newcastle at Kenilworth Road tomorrow.

I’ve been really careful not for anything to seem like we’re using it. It’s about ‘what would Locks want?’

I think that’s the most important thing now, and what does this group of people want? We’re a really tight-knit group, a family, and we’ve got to look after each other now.

It’s about really coming together even more than we already are. And we do want to do it for Locks, but that’s coming from the right place as well. It can’t be selfish, and I’ve been really keen to stress that.

It was a really scary moment, the scariest moment I think I’ve ever had in football. I was emotional on Saturday. It scared me, but everyone rallied. The medical guys were incredible, in such a scary, pressurised situation with the world watching them as well.

They made every decision bang on. I’m so proud of them. They saved him. They’re real heroes.

Luton Town manager Rob Edwards
An emotional Rob Edwards claps fans at Bournemouth after Tom Lockyer’s collapse. Photograph: Ian Stephen/ProSports/Shutterstock

Reece James is such a terrific footballer who’s had rotten luck with injuries. This latest one is another big blow for the Chelsea star, with Mauricio Pochettino hopeful 2024 will bring better fortune.

Pochettino says Reece James is out for “several weeks or months”.

Adding, “I hope less than four months, it is my wish for the New Year”.

— Nizaar Kinsella (@NizaarKinsella) December 22, 2023

An email from Liverpool fan Madge Stapleton on the club’s European Super League flip-flop in April 2021:

I think you’ll find that Liverpool fans, including (supporters’ trust) Spirit of Shankly, were vehemently opposed to the Super League, as were the players. John Henry was forced to apologise for his underhand behaviour. I think we all remember his hilarious sackcloth-and-ashes demeanour at the time. It shows the importance of fan solidarity and groups like the SoS.

Absolutely right, Madge. It was just a shame owners didn’t bother consulting fans before airing their ill-fated plans.

Ten Hag on United injuries and January transfer plans

Erik ten Hag added that he’s “happy” with his Manchester United squad when pressed about the current injury crisis and the prospect of dipping into the January transfer market.

“The current squad, I am happy,” he said. “As we get our players back, we have a good squad, a lot of the way it went in the first season, the reasons behind because many players were not available.

“I am sure when all players are on board it looks different, Casemiro, Martinez, Mount, we will be much stronger after the window.”

Speaking of Manchester United, here’s Erik ten Hag, speaking about his defensive injury malaise …

Man Utd boss Erik ten Hag says Harry Maguire is scheduled to return from injury in the early part of January while Victor Lindelof will be out for a couple of weeks 🔴

— Sky Sports News (@SkySportsNews) December 22, 2023

The revered Newcastle sporting director Dan Ashworth has been linked with a possible move to Ineos’ Manchester United project in recent days, with Eddie Howe addressing such speculation in today’s press conference.

Ashworth, formerly of the FA and Brighton, is well respected in the game and apparently on United’s list of would-be DOFs, but Howe says he’s committed to St James’ Park.

“Of course I’ve spoken to Dan, but not necessarily about that,” Howe said on the United links. “It’s very difficult to comment on speculation, whether that be a player or someone in Dan’s position. I’ve got no doubt that Dan is here for the long-term, but it’s probably a question for Dan rather than me.

“He’s done a really good job in helping us in loads of different ways – building departments, the training ground, he’s connected with everything that goes on in terms of the decision making at the football club.

“He’s hugely important and has been a really calming influence behind the scenes, his vast experience has really helped.”

Newcastle manager Eddie Howe at a press conference
Newcastle manager Eddie Howe held a press conference today. Photograph: Serena Taylor/Newcastle United/Getty Images

Liverpool statement on European Super League

Liverpool have joined many other clubs in reiterating their opposition to the European Super League. (They didn’t initially do that back in April 2021, did they … no, no they didn’t. )

Here’s a statement that’s just been released on their website:

Yesterday’s ruling by the European Court of Justice does not change Liverpool FC’s previous stance on a proposed European Super League. Our involvement has been discontinued. We will continue to work with fellow clubs through the ECA and participate in UEFA competitions.

Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta in smiling at journalist shock.

The endless borefest that is the Manchester United takeover saga may soon have an end in sight, with various reports and murmurs today suggesting Sir Jim Ratcliffe’s whopping 25% stake may be ratified before Christmas. Which, er, means by the end of today, given most executives and money-men will be merry on sherry by 6pm this evening

‘Fresh impetus around negotiations’ is the phrase doing the rounds today, with Ratcliffe’s Ineos group purchasing £1.25bn from the Glazers in return for sporting control and, perhaps, the vague hope of turning United back into a football team of some repute. Well, Christmas is a time for making futile gestures, after all.

I’ll start by bringing your attention to this excellent read, on Mary Earps’ SPOTY success and those who have railed against it, from the always excellent Marina Hyde.

Thanks Luke. Plenty for me to get my teeth into this Friday lunchtime.

Things can only get better, though, on which note – Dominic Booth is here to guide you through the next bit.

My favourite moment so far today was Arteta being asked if it was “nice to be top of the table.”

“It’s always nice to be in the highest position,” replied the Arsenal head coach.

Ah, the indescribable magic of Friday press conferences in the Premier League. Truly scintillating stuff.

Andoni Iraola is hoping Alex Scott has returned to fitness at the right time to help Bournemouth during the festive period. The 20-year-old moved to the Vitality Stadium from Bristol City in the summer for a reported fee of £25m, and made four appearances before a knee injury in the 6-1 thrashing at Manchester City last month.

Scott is back in training and was an unused substitute last weekend at Luton, where the game was abandoned after the Hatters skipper Tom Lockyer collapsed due to a cardiac arrest.

“I think the other day was very difficult. He could play, he started training,” said Iraola. “I think he has a lot of good energy. I think his spirit is good for the team. I like to have him involved and it has been another good week for him. “I hope he gets closer to having the rhythm of his teammates. I think he can help us these games.”

Scott’s return also comes at a time when Bournemouth have a number of players on the sidelines – but Iraola is hoping some of the injured could return at Nottingham Forest on Saturday.

“We have some knocks, some small issues,” he added. “There are two or three situations that we still have to wait. The ones that are close to returning. We have a couple of knocks that I hope there is nothing important there.” (PA Media)

Alex Scott of Bournemouth (centre) was injured at Manchester City last month. Rodri is on the right.
Alex Scott of Bournemouth (centre) was injured at Manchester City last month. Rodri is on the right. Photograph: Robin Jones/AFC Bournemouth/Getty Images

The Napoli president, Aurelio De Laurentiis, welcomed the European Court of Justice ruling on the Super League project, saying Uefa and Fifa do not understand the business of the sport and the need to grow club revenues.

Europe’s top court said the ruling bodies had contravened EU law by stopping the formation of a Super League, but clubs and leagues came together to denounce the project, committing to playing in competitions run by Uefa.

Spanish clubs Real Madrid and Barcelona are the only clubs still supporting the Super League project and De Laurentiis said he had discussed the situation with Real President Florentino Pérez.

“The Super League was a wrong move (in 2021), which however brought about this change. Now we need to do some serious thinking,” De Laurentiis told Corriere dello Sport. “I spoke with Florentino Pérez and we agree to put some real entrepreneurs around the table, not just nominal presidents. Because today football is administered by elderly people, but above all they are without vision.”

Napoli, the Italian champions, were not among the 12 clubs behind the original plan for the breakaway league in 2021. The three Serie A teams involved were Juventus, AC Milan and Internazionale.

Aurelio De Laurentiis, Napoli president, says “today football is administered by elderly people”.
Aurelio De Laurentiis, the Napoli president, has said that “today football is administered by elderly people”. Photograph: Ciro De Luca/NurPhoto/Shutterstock

Milan and Inter pulled out within 48 hours after an outcry from fans and the threat of sanctions. Juve opted to withdraw earlier this year after the club’s board changed.
The EU’s top court said Fifa and Uefa had abused their dominant position by forbidding clubs to compete in a European Super League.

“The dominant position of Uefa and Fifa, which Europe today censures, has served to bestow bonuses in exchange for consent,” De Laurentiis added. “Those who have governed up to now as monopolists have not understood that football is a business and needs growing revenues.

“If I invest hundreds of millions to participate in a circus that distributes peanuts, makes no profit and forces me to play more and more to keep an unproductive bandwagon going, the game is not worth it.” (Reuters)

Chris Wilder, Sheffield United manager, has spoken about the challenge of going to Villa Park tonight: “What is it, 15 wins out of 15? They’re on a fabulous run,” Wilder said.

“They are a well-coached team with outstanding individuals. It’s a chance for them to go top of the division. A lot of issues we’ve got to solve on the night … but as we’ve talked about, there’s no point getting on the bus if you don’t believe, if you haven’t got confidence in your ability, and your team’s ability, to go and get a result.”

Chris Wilder
Chris Wilder: He believes. Photograph: Ashley Western/Colorsport/Shutterstock

In the Women’s Champions League, Brann pulled off a sensational result against Lyon last night with a 2-2 draw. Sarah Rendell was live-blogging it:

The Women’s Super League is now in hibernation until 20 January, but here for good measure is the Guardian Women’s Football Weekly from earlier this week:

Manchester City v Fluminense, the Club World Cup final, kicks off at 6pm UK time.

It’s available to watch for free on, and we’ll have a minute-by-minute report here too, of course.

Nick Ames is our man in Saudi Arabia. Read his preview:

As for the story below about Sky Sports innovations’ for the Edinburgh derby … mic-ing up the coach sounds like a good idea, but a bodycam on one of the coaching staff “to give a first-person perspective of the team on the pitch from the dugout” sounds potentially rubbish.

If you have been feasting your eyes on our top 100 male footballers in 2023, here is how we ranked them, courtesy of Marcus Christenson:

The Hibernian head coach, Nick Montgomery, will wear a microphone as part of Sky Sports’ live coverage of Wednesday’s Edinburgh derby. The move is aimed at enabling fans watching at home to hear the coaching and tactics from the sideline, while a member of the Hibs coaching staff will wear a bodycam to give a first-person perspective of the team on the pitch from the dugout.

Sky Sports will also be given access to the Hearts team hotel for a pre-match meal, and a bodycam will be strapped to a Jambos player during the warm-up. The enhancements for the Easter Road showdown follows Sky Sports’ EFL ‘Innovation Game’ last season, which included behind-the-scenes access for the broadcast of the Wycombe vs Portsmouth match in League One.

The Scottish Professional Football League chief executive, Neil Doncaster, said: “We’re really pleased to have been able to work with both clubs and Sky Sports to showcase their latest broadcasting innovations, helping put supporters right at the heart of the action in the Edinburgh derby. “It promises to be a cracking game and we’re excited to see how the technology brings the match experience even closer for viewing fans.” (PA Media)

Nick Montgomery of Hibernian.
Nick Montgomery of Hibernian. Photograph: Mark Runnacles/Shutterstock

Good Manchester City stattage from the commentator, Ian Darke, over on Twitter.

Note: he means within the past five games – they beat Luton 2-1 away on 10 December. But they have indeed registered 4-4, 3-3, 2-2 and 1-1 draws in their past five Premier League matches.

In Man City’s last five league games, they have drawn 4-4, 3-3, 2-2 and 1-1.

— Ian Darke (@IanDarke) December 21, 2023

Mikel Arteta and Eddie Howe have already had a chat with the media this morning. Much more coming up: Jürgen Klopp, Erik ten Hag, the lot.

Jacob Steinberg

Jacob Steinberg

In life and football there’s always some kind of risk, isn’t there?” Martí Cifuentes says. The Queens Park Rangers manager is thinking about his unusual journey and remembers the difficult early days at AAB Aalborg. “When I went to Denmark it took six official games for me to win,” the 41-year-old continues. “The headline in the main sport newspaper was ‘The worst coach ever in the history of the Superliga’.”

The barbs washed over Cifuentes. “I am very used to being inexperienced, too young, whatever,” the Catalan says. “I’m just a very optimistic person. I don’t have any magical recipe.”

Chelsea’s Gallagher to Tottenham in January?

Reports swirling this morning that Tottenham may be able to snap up the midfielder Conor Gallagher from Chelsea in the January transfer window.

Any views on that, Chelsea fans? Email me.

Here’s a slightly longer version of what Eddie Howe, the Newcastle manager, said earlier regarding the fresh prospect of a European Super League:

“I’d probably say I’m against it if you want a clear decision because I like the structure as it is,” Howe said. “I think the big thing in England was our supporters of football let their feelings be known the previous time that this was mentioned, and really I think ultimately it’s their call which way they want this to go.”

Tonight brings a significant clash in the Premier League: on-form Aston Villa host Sheffield United looking to hit the top of the pile.

The Villans full-back Matty Cash, speaking to Sky Sports, says the atmosphere is “special” at Villa Park this season.

“It’s amazing. We know they’re behind us. The fans have been amazing this year, as they have done in many years,” Cash says. “But this year at Villa Park it’s different, it’s special.

“Everywhere we go now (around Birmingham), people say: ‘Are you gonna win the league?’ It’s a good position to be in. We’d rather be there than anywhere else.

“The manager is good at keeping us balanced and level-headed. You can’t get too excited in times like this,” Cash says of Unai Emery. “There’s so many highs and lows … he’s got a lot of experience of this. Tucking into the turkey top would be great … but there’s no point having a great achievement at Christmas.

“It’s great where we are but we are focused on the long goal. We’re playing against a tough team against Sheffield United.”

Here is a clip via the Premier League of Lewis Cook throwing a snowball at Wilfred Ndidi. Great festive banter.

Premier League “Big Six” all opposed to European Super League

The Premier League’s ‘Big Six’ have all now distanced themselves from the possibility of joining any new European Super League. Arsenal became the last of the clubs who joined the original Super League in 2021 to confirm their position on Friday.

The Gunners issued a statement saying they will continue in Uefa competitions despite a European Court of Justice ruling which has at least opened the possibility of a club-led tournament to rival the Champions League being launched.

Liverpool have not commented directly since Thursday’s ruling but the it is understood legal consent on the issue of joining new competitions has rested with the recognised supporters’ trust, the Spirit of Shankly (SoS), since the Reds’ withdrawal from the Super League two years ago.

SoS’s statement on Thursday said Liverpool’s position had not changed since 2021. Manchester United, Manchester City, Chelsea and Tottenham all issued statements on Thursday pledging commitment to Uefa competitions.

The original Super League plan fell apart within 72 hours, as the English clubs withdrew one by one amid fan protests, pressure from the British Government and opposition from UEFA and FIFA. (PA Media)

Karen Carney

Karen Carney

Often when managers arrive at a struggling club the immediate response is a complete overhaul in a desperate attempt to turn things around, but in Unai Emery’s 14 months at Aston Villa he has transformed them from relegation candidates to Champions League hopefuls without any such tear-up.

When the Spaniard arrived from Villarreal Aston Villa were 16th in the Premier League and a point above the relegation zone. On Friday night he has a chance to take them top when they host Sheffield United, a match they will be expected to win.

Revealed: The 100 best male footballers in the world 2023

You don’t have to wait until Christmas Day to complete the Guardian’s footballing advent calendar … the votes are in, and our 218-strong panel of experts has named Erling Haaland as top dog in men’s football this year:

The top five:

Erling Haaland
Jude Bellingham
Kylian Mbappé
Harry Kane

Erling Haaland.
Erling: Better than Alfie. Photograph: PA Wire/PA

Sid Lowe

Sid Lowe

In November 2021, Florentino Pérez stood before the members’ assembly and, to a standing ovation, declared that someone should remind Uefa who Real Madrid are, vowing they would not give in on their fight for the Super League. They would go it alone if they had to.

Two years on, he stood before the club’s 14 European Cups, a show of strength even though he stood alone, and said “freedom” had triumphed. So had football, according to Pérez. “Our destiny is in our own hands,” he said. The ruling from the European court of justice, he continued, represented a “before and after”.

Cheerful Roy Hodgson was asked after the 1-1 draw against Brighton if he felt under pressur given Palace’s poor run: “What are you actually coming with there? Feel the pressure in what respect?” he responded.

“Well, I suppose that’s football … if that’s the suggestion, that every time a team slides down the table, the manager should feel under pressure, then I suppose I should feel under pressure.

“But I don’t believe the players could be doing much more than they are at the moment. If that is pressure then I don’t feel it, no, not at all.”

A tremendous header by Danny Welbeck earned a point for Brighton against Palace last night.

Ed Aarons was on the scene for us:

The Wolves head coach, Gary O’Neil, has called on his side to learn from last weekend’s defeat at West Ham and “try to put things right” against Chelsea on Sunday.

“Three counterattack goals gave us no chance to take anything from the game, but they were really easy fixes that we’ve been over with the lads to ensure that we understand,” O’Neil said.

“The first one from a corner, the second one a slight misunderstanding in the structure and the third one, still disappointing, but we’re pushing at that point. It’s my job to analyse the game without emotion and when you do, loads of the stuff in it was really good.

“Numbers were good in terms of final-third entries, penalty-box entries, shots, so lots of stuff in there is positive, but when you lose 3-0 no-one is interested in that, so we need to fix the bits that need fixing and get back onto a home game this weekend and try to put things right.”

Wolves have been boosted by Pedro Neto’s return to training this week, having been out with a hamstring injury since October. The Portugal international provided seven assists in 10 Premier League games before his injury, but O’Neil insisted the club will “protect him” and make sure he is ready before returning. (PA Media)

Pedro Neto.
Neto back? Back of the Neto. Something like that. Photograph: Jack Thomas/WWFC/Wolves/Getty Images

Newcastle are off to Luton in the Premier League tomorrow and their gaffer, Eddie Howe, has been speaking to journalists before the match.

On Antony Gordon’s fitness following a heavy challenge by Moises Caicedo in the Carabao Cup loss at Chelsea: “Horrible challenge on him I thought … really disappointed with the tackle,” Howe says. “We’ll see how he is today.

“Emile (Krafth) had a nasty cut on his shin … he’s quite sore as well … Alexander Isak is 50-50 at this moment.”

Newcastle’s Anthony Gordon (right) goes down following a challenge by Moises Caicedo of Chelsea.
Newcastle’s Anthony Gordon (right) goes down following a challenge by Moises Caicedo of Chelsea. Photograph: Isabel Infantes/EPA

Howe is asked about Luton’s captain Tom Lockyer, who suffered a cardiac arrest last weekend: “Watching the game as I did, it was a really difficult moment for everyone connected with Luton,” Howe says.

“Tom’s the most important thing … it puts football into perspective … we want to send him our best wishes, from everyone connected with Newcastle.”

On playing at Luton tomorrow: “Very difficult place to go. I’ve been there many times as a player … their games at home have been interesting … they ran Manchester City very close. Couldn’t have run Arsenal much closer … they had a good draw against Liverpool … they are physically good and committed to how they play … We’re going to have to be absolutely at our best to win this game.”

“It will be an emotionally charged game … Luton fans will be thinking of Tom. For us, we have to focus on our performance.”

Howe adds he was happy with the performance at Chelsea if not the result: “There’s a lot to take from it. I couldn’t ask any more of the players … we have to analyse that properly and move forward positively.”

And finally, a journalist mentions if he can ask about the European Super League. “It’s probably best you don’t,” Howe says dismissively. “It came out of the blue for me … supporters of football let their feelings be known last time this was mentioned … and ultimately it’s their decision on how they want this to go.”


The European Super League reared its head again this week, and Arsenal have become the latest club to distance themselves from potential involvement. (While failing to entirely rule out that they may take part in future …)

“Arsenal Football Club notes the judgement by the European Court of Justice on Thursday, 21 December 2023 and our position in relation to the European Super League has not changed,” the club announced on Friday morning.

“We will continue to play in Uefa competitions and continue to work with fellow European clubs and the European Club Association (ECA).”

Mikel Arteta, the Arsenal head coach, has also been having a chat with the media. “We love playing in the Champions League, and we’ll continue to do so,” he insisted at his standard 9am media briefing. “The game belongs to the supporters and the players … we have to look after them.”

On the pitch, meanwhile, Manchester City are preparing for the Club World Cup final against Fluminense of Brazil, a match which logically enough takes place in Saudi Arabia. The Gunners are preparing for a seismic Premier League clash against Liverpool at Anfield tomorrow evening, and there’s plenty more going on besides.

Here we go then. Press conferences, team news and European Super League-related teeth-gnashing coming right up.

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