Liverpool forward Roberto Firmino compared to Manchester United legend Eric Cantona after stunning performance vs Newcastle

16 Sep

Newcastle manager Steve Bruce has heaped praise on Liverpool forward Roberto Firmino – evening comparing him to Manchester United legend Eric Cantona.

The Brazil international continued his excellent start to the season, coming off the bench to help Liverpool recover from a goal down and beat Newcastle 3-1 in Saturday’s lunchtime clash.

Firmino had a huge impact when he was introduced against Newcastle
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Jetro Willems’ stunning strike gave the Toon a shock lead, but a brace from Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah’s lone strike helped extend Liverpool’s winning run and send them five points clear at the top of the Premier League.

However, many of the plaudits were reserved for Firmino, who replaced Divock Origi on 37 minutes and played a crucial part in two goals at Anfield.

Last month, he became the first Brazilian to score 50 goals in Premier League history when he struck against Burnley, and Newcastle boss Bruce noticed similarities between Firmino and his former team-mate Cantona.

“He’s one that drifts into that little area and he naturally does it, where it’s so difficult for defenders to go,” said Bruce, who played alongside Cantona in United’s title-winning sides of the 1990s.

“And his attitude and work-rate, it’s so important. Of course, their [Liverpool’s] front three are as good as you are going to play against as a threat to you.

Eric Cantona is a Manchester United legend
Getty

“The way they play with the intensity, the full-backs are only young and the delivery and presence they bring to the box you can see why they are Champions of Europe.

“Cantona is as good a player as I’ve ever seen. I haven’t seen Firmino week in week out like that, but just when you see him here and what he gives them, it’s a perfect balance. And Cantona gave us that.”

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Firmino has hit double figures for goals in each of his four years at Liverpool, and he’ll hope to extend his record for a fifth consecutive season having already netted twice this term.

Manchester United legend Gary Neville would ‘run a mile’ if ever offered the chance to manage Red Devils

16 Sep

Gary Neville has admitted he would ‘run a mile’ if ever offered the chance to manage former club Manchester United.

The Old Trafford legend gave the candid response as he conducted a question and answer session on social media on Sunday evening.

Neville made 602 appearances for Man United during his 19-year career
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Neville spent four months in his first, and so far only, managerial role at Valencia, whom he took charge of in December 2015.

A surprise appointment, Los Che won only 10 of 28 matches under Neville, and he was sacked with the club just six points clear of the relegation zone.

He returned to media duties with Sky Sports upon his dismissal, and remains in this position to this day.

And though Neville may return to football management in the future, he has made it clear he will NOT be taking charge of United.

During the Twitter Q&A session, one fan asked the ex-United full back: “If the opportunity ever arose would you take the United managerial role?”

Without hesitation, Neville replied: “That call isn’t coming and if it did I would run a mile.”

Neville also made a joke at his own expense, when told to name the weirdest thing he’s ever been asked to sign. He replied, quite simply: ‘Valencia contract.’

Man United beat Leicester 1-0 on Saturday to claim their second win of the Premier League season under Neville’s former team-mate Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.

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Watford 2-2 Arsenal: Gunners slammed by Graeme Souness for ‘capitulating’ during Vicarage Road draw

16 Sep

Graeme Souness’ famously sharp tongue was back in use on Sunday as he launched a scathing attack on Arsenal after their 2-2 draw at Watford.

The Gunners were pegged back in the second-half by the still winless Hornets, who came from two goals down to rescue a valuable point in the Hertfordshire sunshine.

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang scored twice but was let down by Arsenal’s dodgy defending
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And Quique Sanchez Flores’ side really should have claimed all three points, as they managed a remarkable 31 shots against Arsenal – but poor finishing let them down.

Gerard Deulofeu had a number of chances as he dominated the left flank, but he failed to seriously test Bernd Leno in goal, while Abdoulaye Doucoure wasted a glorious opportunity to score the winner in the the dying stages of injury time.

Arsenal have been accused of collapsing as soon as Watford scored their first goal, with many saying Unai Emery has been unable to fix the brittle core which dogged Arsene Wenger’s latter teams.

And Souness, working for Sky Sports, was typically critical of the Gunners as he discussed their collapse at Vicarage Road.

“They capitulated,” said Souness. “Proper teams don’t play like that.

“They brought on some kids. That was a game when it was 2-1 and it was time to dig in. When the kids came on it was all over the place, it was like a game of basketball.

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“Persisting with playing out from the back was going to cost them a goal, and they were lucky it was only one.”

Arsenal return to Premier League action on Sunday with the visit of Aston Villa to the Emirates, though they face a trip to Germany before hosting Dean Smith’s side.

Eintracht Frankfurt are up next on Thursday as Arsenal open their Europa League campaign, and talkSPORT 2 will bring you full LIVE commentary of the match.

Scott McTominay could be the solution to Manchester United’s midfield problems, insists talkSPORT’s Tony Cascarino

16 Sep

Scott McTominay will be a valuable player to Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer as he continues his rebuild, according to Tony Cascarino.

Writing in his column for the Times, the talkSPORT host expressed his admiration for the Scotland international who has been ever-present for the Red Devils this season.

Scott McTominay, right, signed a new contract at Manchester United in January

While Cascarino acknowledges United are a weaker side in midfield without the experienced Ander Herrera, who joined Paris Saint-Germain on a free transfer in the summer, he believes academy product McTominay is an asset.

“They will miss the tenacity and ball-winning ability of Ander Herrera, but McTominay is a solid option in that defensive midfielder role,” he wrote.

“He’s not a world beater but will be a valuable player.

“United are a club who are going through a transition that will take years thanks to the neglect of the past few seasons.

“Solskjaer is putting them back on the right track and hard-working, committed young players like McTominay will be vital to helping him this season.”

For his part, the player has backed himself to fill the void left by Herrera.

“That was my goal two years ago and last year,” McTominay said in the summer when asked if he can be a regular starter.

“That’s always been my goal. It’s my ambition to be a regular no.6, no.8, a box to box player – that’s my main ambition. It’s important that I really go for that now.

“Obviously there is an opportunity there and you’ve got to take it with both hands. Last year I had some decent performances and it’s important that I carry on from that.

“We’re in the Europa League this year and it’s important that I continue.”

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Former United boss Jose Mourinho is also a big fan of the 22-year-old, labelling him a ‘mad dog’ who is ‘afraid of nobody’ following an impressive display in a 1-0 defeat to Barcelona in April last season.

Meanwhile, Cascarino also moved to defend Solskjaer amid suggestions he won’t be in charge of the club this time next year.

“It’s really unfair that people think Ole Gunnar Solskjaer won’t last this season at Manchester United,” he added.

“His three summer signings — Daniel James, Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Harry Maguire — have all made promising starts and in Scott McTominay he has a good solution to his midfield problems.”

Jurgen Klopp wanted by Real Madrid and Barcelona who also chase Liverpool star Virgil van Dijk

16 Sep

Jurgen Klopp and Virgil van Dijk are wanted by both Barcelona and Real Madrid with the Spanish giants reportedly set to battle to lure the pair from Liverpool.

The two men have been crucial to Liverpool’s recent success and are credited with turning the club back into genuine Premier League title challengers.

Klopp brought Van Dijk to Anfield and has been rewarded many times over
GETTY

Klopp has been Liverpool manager since October 2015 and has guided the Reds to two Champions League finals, eventually winning the European Cup last season as they beat Tottenham 2-0.

The Anfield club currently lead the Premier League table by five points and are the only side to win all of their opening five matches.

Centre-back Van Dijk arrived from Southampton in January 2018 for a then world-record £75million fee, and he’s now widely considered to be the best defender in the world.

He was named PFA Player of the Year, and was also crowned UEFA Men’s Player of the Year for his performances during last season’s Champions League.

Spanish outlet AS is reporting that Real and Barcelona will go head-to-head in a bid to bring Liverpool’s two most valuable assets to La Liga.

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Neither side have looked entirely convincing so far this season, with Real narrowly beating Levante at the weekend and Barcelona failing to win both their away matches, and doubts have been raised over the futures of managers Zinedine Zidane and Ernesto Valverde.

According to the report, both clubs are already considering alternatives, with Klopp near the top of their lists – and they hope signing the German will give them an advantage in the race to buy Van Dijk.

Transfer news and football gossip: Van Dijk AND Klopp wanted by Real Madrid, Abraham has not ruled out Nigeria switch, Eriksen ‘snubbing all contract offers’

16 Sep

talkSPORT rounds up all the latest transfer news and football gossip from Monday’s papers and online…

Real Madrid and Barcelona will go head-to-head in a mammoth bid to tempt Virgil van Dijk AND Jurgen Klopp away from Liverpool. (AS)

Liverpool forward Sadio Mane was angry with team-mate Mohamed Salah, but says the pair have now “reconciled” and the whole incident is “forgotten” – FULL STORY

Manchester United have offered to make David de Gea the Premier League’s best-paid player to convince him to sign a new long-term contract. (The Times)

Old Trafford legend Gary Neville has said he would “run a mile” if he were ever offered the managerial position at United. (Manchester Evening News)

An Italian TV pundit has been widely condemned and banned from the channel after making a racist remark about Inter Milan striker Romelu Lukaku – FULL STORY

Christian Eriksen is snubbing every new Tottenham contract offer put in front of him, with the Dane’s agent facilitating a move to Real Madrid next summer. (Marca)

Former Chelsea stars Eden Hazard and Thibaut Courtois want Blues midfielder N’Golo Kante to join them at Real Madrid. (The Sun)

Chelsea striker Tammy Abraham has not ruled out opting to play for Nigeria instead of England. (The Times)

Meanwhile, it has been claimed Abraham has actually threatened Gareth Southgate he will swap his allegiance to Nigeria if the England boss doesn’t hurry up and pick him again. (The Sun)

Arsenal are set to win the race to sign Sunderland’s English teenager Logan Pye, after the 15-year-old was linked with a move to the Premier League during the summer. (The Sun)

Manchester United midfielder Nemanja Matic is a target for Juventus ahead of the January transfer window. (Daily Mirror)

Manchester City losing Aymeric Laporte to injury is like Liverpool being without Virgil van Dijk, says Jamie Redknapp

16 Sep

The absence of Aymeric Laporte in Manchester City’s backline is the equivalent of Liverpool losing Virgil van Dijk, according to Jamie Redknapp.

City face being without their centre-back for more than four months because of a knee injury suffered during the 4-0 defeat of Brighton at the end of August.

Manchester City’s Aymeric Laporte has been ruled out for four months
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The Premier League champions have since confirmed Laporte has had successful surgery to repair the damage to his cartilage and lateral meniscus.

However, on Saturday City were stunned by Norwich, losing 3-2 at Carrow Road and their defence was worryingly exposed on several occasions, notably Nicolas Otamendi, who was caught in possession in his own area which led to Teemu Pukki scoring the decisive goal.

With Liverpool leading the way, five points clear of City, former Reds midfielder Redknapp believes the pendulum has swung in favour of the Champions League winners.

City struggled in defence as they lost 3-2 to Norwich
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“City are wounded. They have lost Aymeric Laporte, and that is the equivalent of taking Virgil van Dijk out of the Liverpool team,” he told the Daily Mail.

“I was at Carrow Road on Saturday to see City line up for the first time since Laporte suffered his unfortunate injury and their defensive frailties were exposed. Sunday League players would be embarrassed to make the same mistakes Nicolas Otamendi made against Norwich.

“For Liverpool, everything seems to be falling into place. They will not read too much into a five-point lead in mid-September but it feels like the momentum has shifted.”

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City’s next match is in the Champions League when they travel to Donetsk to play Shakhtar, which is live on talkSPORT on 18 September.

It is the third successive season the two clubs have been pitted against each other in the group stage.

City won 3-0 in their last meeting and Laporte was on the scoresheet, along with David Silva and Bernardo Silva.

Liverpool wouldn’t swap Roberto Firmino for Lionel Messi or Cristiano Ronaldo, says Jermaine Jenas

16 Sep

Jermaine Jenas believes Liverpool would NOT swap samba star Roberto Firmino for Lionel Messi OR Cristiano Ronaldo.

The Brazilian forward was at his brilliant best with two assists for the Reds on Saturday as Jurgen Klopp’s side went five points clear at the top of the Premier League with a 3-1 win over Newcastle United.

Firmino has made an exceptional start to the 2019/20 season
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And he didn’t even play the whole game!

The No.9 was a surprise omission from the starting XI at Anfield, with Divock Origi making his first start of the season in his place.

However, Origi picked up a knock and was replaced by Firmino just before half-time with the score at 1-1, and he made an instant impact – robbing the ball from Christian Atsu and sliding a pass into Sadio Mane to put Liverpool 2-1 up at the break.

He then got the Anfield crowd on the feet and belting out his now famous ‘Si Senor’ song after dazzling Newcastle players with some stunning pieces of skill – with his brilliantly timed flicked backheel setting up Mohamed Salah to make it 3-1 in the second-half.

After another attacking and creative masterclass from the Brazilian, Jenas says Firmino brings something to the table for Liverpool no other player in the world can – even GOAT rivals Messi and Ronaldo.

“The things you see him do, they are absolutely sublime, they’re beautiful,” the former Tottenham and Newcastle man said on BT Sport.


Firmino song: What are the lyrics to ‘Si Senor’ chant?


“Over the years he’s earned this respect and he’s earned the amount of space he creates by defenders thinking they can get tight on him and him going ‘no, you’re nowhere near me’, and he’s behind you.

“That is the difference between when Mane or Salah or Origi go through the middle, they don’t seem to have that type of magic to do that in a little moment.

Firmino caused Newcastle’s defence all sorts of problems
Getty Images - Getty

“They’re top players but Firmino has this ability to have a vacuum of bodies coming towards him but then knows where the spaces are to get out.

“It’s a special trait.

“Automatically you’d say ‘of course we’d swap him for Messi’ and ‘of course we’d swap him for Ronaldo’.

“But you break it down and actually, for what he gives to this football team, there aren’t many, if any at all, that are better than him at doing what he does.”

Arsenal midfielder Matteo Guendouzi mocked by Watford for scoreline gesture to fans during 2-2 Premier League draw

16 Sep

Well this is awkward.

As Matteo Guendouzi left the pitch at Vicarage Road to a chorus of boos from the Watford fans, he reminded them of the score – Arsenal were winning 2-1 at the time, though there was still more than 20 minutes to go.

Guendouzi, who was booked for a heated exchange with Jose Holebas, gestures to Watford fans as he leaves the pitch
Sky Sports

Then Watford equalised through Roberto Pereyra’s penalty, with the Premier League game finishing 2-2.

And the Hertfordshire club couldn’t resist hitting back at Guendouzi.

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang scored twice in the first half, but even manager Unai Emery was concerned.

“Physically they are stronger than us so we want to break the lines from the goal-kick and connect to Mesut Ozil, like we did with the first goal,” he said.

“We knew that 2-0 was not enough at half-time. ”

Arsenal faced 31 shots from the hosts, the most they have ever faced in a Premier League game since Opta began collating stats in the 2003/04 season.

In addition, it was the first time the Gunners were unable to win a game in which they were at least two goals in front since April 2016 when they drew 3-3 with West Ham.

Defensive errors cost the top four hopefuls, as Tom Cleverley had earlier reduced the deficit when Gunners defender Sokratis Papastathopoulos gave away possession inside his own area and David Luiz later conceded the penalty.

Unsurprisingly, Calum Chambers was trending on Twitter after the game, with some fans confused about why he has not played since the club’s clean sheet against Newcastle on the first day of the season.

“Arsenal had no control, no composure,” talkSPORT host Tony Cascarino wrote in his Times column.

“They needed to sign a defender this summer, someone who is cool under pressure and has leadership qualities — and they went and spent £8million on David Luiz, a player who has never embodied any of those qualities.”

Italian football pundit banned from TV channel for making racist remark about Inter forward Romelu Lukaku

16 Sep

A football pundit who made a racist remark about Romelu Lukaku has been banned from appearing on an Italian television channel.

Luciano Passirani has been barred from working for TopCalcio24 in the wake of his comments, with station director Fabio Ravezzani quickly apologising live on air.

Lukaku scored in each of his first two appearances for Inter
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Passirani said of Lukaku, who has impressed since leaving Man United for Inter: “I don’t see in the Italian league a player like Lukaku in any team, not in AC Milan, Inter, Rome, Lazio.

“He’s one of the strongest and I like him a lot because he’s one of the strongest, he’s at least twice as strong as [Duvan] Zapata from Atalanta.

“These players have something more than the others, these are the guys who make the goals and drag the team.

“If they go one-on-one with you you’re dead, you fall to the ground. You’re alright if you have ten bananas to give him to eat, otherwise…”

Ravezzani did confirm Passirani had apologised for his comments, insisting this took place in a separate piece of footage that was not being shared on social media.

The station director wrote on Twitter: “Only a part of the transmission was spread widely, cutting off the guest’s subsequent apology that he had a moment of unpredictable confusion while trying to make a joke.”

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Lukaku has been racially targeted since he joined Inter earlier this year, with one incident occurring during the Serie A trip to Cagliari.

The Belgium forward was abused by the Sardinian club’s fans, who were then defended by Inter ultras, who released a statement insisting ‘we are not racist and so are not the Cagliari fans’.