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Saturday's best bets1

Saturday's Bets of the Day

Our team highlight their best Saturday bets, with Matt Brocklebank waiting until the evening card at Kempton and George Pitts looking at Euro 2020 qualifiers.

Check out today's Paper Talk2

Paper Talk: £65m Maguire?

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer gives green light on big-money Harry Maguire move and Man City want £105m-rated wonderkid, according to the back pages.

3

Sporting Life Accumulator

With the international break pausing action in the Championship, we have backed four teams in League One and League Two...

Birmingham City's St. Andrews Stadium4

Birmingham hit with points deduction

Birmingham City have been deducted nine points following a breach of the EFL's Profitability and Sustainability rules.

Neymar celebrates5

Neymar handed UEFA charge

UEFA have charged Neymar with "insulting acts against a match official" due to social media comments he made after PSG's controversial Champions League defeat to Manchester United.

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Our new Football Livewire is the best place to stay on top of breaking news

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🧤 PICKFORD BACKED BY SILVA

Jordan Pickford in action during his man of the match display in Everton's win at Huddersfield
Jordan Pickford in action during his man of the match display in Everton's win at Huddersfield

Everton manager Marco Silva insists he retains full faith in Jordan Pickford but admitted the England goalkeeper must learn to channel his emotions.

The boyhood Sunderland fan endured a torrid afternoon last weekend at Newcastle, where he engaged in a running exchange with home supporters and made a couple of high-profile errors.

Silva refused to single out Pickford's display at St James' Park, where Everton squandered a two-goal lead to lose 3-2, as he called for collective improvement.

Ahead of this weekend's Premier League visit of Chelsea, Silva said: "I don't like to go on particularly one player. I think it's not fair.

"I'm the first one here and my players are always behind me because I'm the first one to take all the responsibilities of what my players are doing on the pitch.

"We knew before the match, he knew also when he played there at Newcastle, the atmosphere is always not the same to him.

"I can remember when he played here at home against Newcastle what the fans of Newcastle tried to do with him and he answered well.

"I understand everything that people are saying about Jordan. Jordan has all my confidence, like Maarten (Stekelenburg) and Joao Virginia, our goalkeepers.

"What I want in Jordan is to keep working in the same way with the same desire, improving what we have to improve with him, with more emotional balance in some moments if he can do.

"We as a team have to be different also. We have to react in a different way because if you look to the goals we conceded, we must do different in that moment."

Jordan Pickford came up big for England when required
Jordan Pickford came up big for England when required

Pickford was one of England's star men on their surprise run to the World Cup semi-finals last year, brilliantly saving a penalty in the shootout win over Colombia in the last 16.

He has been named in England's squad for the forthcoming Euro 2020 qualifying double-header against the Czech Republic and Montenegro and is likely to remain Gareth Southgate's first choice.

Silva added: "He has the confidence of the national team coach which is really important also.

"He has to understand during one career that in some moments everybody is happy with you, the other moments some people speak not good things about you. It's normal in football.

"These people now are maybe writing or saying something about him, they are the same people that eight, nine or 10 months ago were celebrating the good performances of Jordan."


💪 GUARDIOLA: CITY SQUAD STRONG ENOUGH TO OVERCOME POTENTIAL BAN

Pep Guardiola is convinced Manchester City have a strong enough squad to cope if the club are hit with a transfer ban.

Reports have claimed the Premier League champions face a FIFA embargo on signings for two transfer windows.

The world governing body is believed to be investigating the club with regards to the signing of eight players under the age of 18 from overseas and for potential breaches of third-party ownership rules.

Premier League rivals Chelsea have already been hit with a transfer ban for breaching FIFA's regulations on the transfer and status of players.

Asked if City's squad was good enough to withstand such a sanction, manager Guardiola said: "Of course. It's good, it's good, the squad is good, really good."

FIFA has refused to comment on the status of any investigation.

A spokesperson said: "We have no comment on the matter at this stage. Further updates will be provided by FIFA in due course."


🗞️ MAN CITY TEAM NEWS

Defender John Stones will miss Manchester City's FA Cup quarter-final at Swansea on Saturday.

The England centre-back was an unused substitute against Schalke in midweek but is still troubled by a groin injury and is also likely to withdraw from international duty next week.

He joins captain Vincent Kompany, midfielder Fernandinho, left-back Benjamin Mendy, playmaker Kevin De Bruye and goalkeeper Claudio Bravo on the injury list.

Provisional squad: Ederson, Muric, Walker, Danilo, Otamendi, Laporte, Zinchenko, Delph, Gundogan, Sandler, D Silva, B Silva, Mahrez, Sane, Sterling, Foden, Aguero, Jesus.


🗣 REDS WILL RESPECT PORTO

City's main threat this year is Liverpool, led by this man
Jurgen Klopp insists Liverpool will not take Porto lightly

Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp insists they will not be taking Porto lightly in the Champions League after landing the draw all the other big guns wanted.

The Reds faced Porto last season on the way to making the final in Kiev, beating the Portuguese outfit 5-0 on aggregate, with all the goals coming in the first leg away from home.

“I could not be further away from thinking it’s the best draw because it isn’t – it is just the draw, it’s the opponent we have to prepare for and that’s all we will be thinking about from when we start preparing for the game," said Klopp.

“The first thing you have to do is make sure everybody respects the opponent the right way – and we will do that 100 per cent. We will know about the quality of Porto and then we have to play the game. Our supporters are brilliant at that, respecting the opponent."


🏆 FA CUP BETTING PREVIEW

Our best bets for the latest FA Cup round
Check out our best bets for the latest FA Cup round

While we're on the subject of the FA Cup, check out our best bets for the quarter-final ties this weekend. Paul Higham casts his eye over the games and recommends going for goals in Watford v Crystal Palace.

And could Wolves upset the odds against Man Utd?

Check out the full preview


🏥 LUKAKU DOUBTFUL FOR FA CUP TIE

Romelu Lukaku is set to miss Manchester United's FA Cup quarter-final against Wolves with a foot issue, according to Belgium manager Roberto Martinez.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer said the 25-year-old was complaining of a "sore foot this week so he's being assessed, so hopefully he'll get through (the session) today" - comments soon followed by Martinez seemingly ruling the striker out.

The Belgium manager said Lukaku "is going to miss this game with his club this weekend" and that the issue that would be assessed by the national team on Monday, having selected him for their upcoming international fixtures


😜 IMAGINE IF MESSI DID THIS...


💬 SILVA DENIES FA CHARGE

Everton manager Marco Silva insists he did not act in an aggressive or disrespectful manner as he awaits the outcome after being charged with improper conduct by the Football Association.

Silva confronted referee Lee Mason and his assistants on the pitch after his side let slip a 2-0 lead to lose 3-2 at Newcastle last weekend.

"In that moment I wasn't happy, first of all with ourselves and with some decisions, also. But I never was aggressive, never disrespectful with the referee, also.

"I didn't use abusive words or something like that and in that moment I wasn't happy with the two decisions. I was clear with what I said to the referee and to the assistant about the situation."


📲 STAT ATTACK


🔢 WHO WON THE CHAMPIONS LEAGUE DRAW?

The Champions League trophy
Check out the full Champions League draw

Liverpool and Juventus seem to have got the best quarter-final draws having been paired with Porto and Ajax, but you never know in these big competitions.

Here's how the bookies have reacted with the latest outright odds....

12/5 Man City | 10/3 Barcelona | 7/2 Juventus | 4/1 Liverpool | 16/1 Man Utd


🏆 EUROPA LEAGUE DRAW


🏆 EUROPA LEAGUE DRAW

To follow from 12pm, Arsenal and Chelsea involved...


What are the dates for the quarter and semi finals?

The first leg of the quarter-finals will be played on April 9 and 10, while the return legs are scheduled on April 16 and 17. The match days will be decided according to the draw.

The first leg of the semi-finals will be played on April 30 and May 1 and the return legs are scheduled for May 7 and 8.

When is the final?

The final will take place in Spain at Atletico Madrid's Wanda Metropolitano Stadium on Saturday June 1.

Get more information on the Champions League draw by clicking the image below...

UEFA Champions League: Real Madrid will be hoping to win the trophy for a fourth successive year


🗳️ TIME TO VOTE

No we're not getting political, we just want your thoughts on the Champions League draw...


🏆 ROUTE TO THE FINAL


🏆 CHAMPIONS LEAGUE DRAW


🏆 CHAMPIONS LEAGUE DRAW

The draw is now underway at UEFA's headquarters in Nyon. Not only does it decide the next round, it determines the route to the final in Madrid.

We'll keep you updated.


🗞️ CHELSEA TEAM NEWS

Gonzalo Higuain could return to contention for Chelsea's Premier League trip to Everton after missing the Europa League win at Dynamo Kiev.

Argentinian striker Higuain did not travel for the European tie due to illness and faces competition to regain his starting spot following Olivier Giroud's hat-trick in Ukraine.

Blues head coach Maurizio Sarri, who appears to have no fresh selection issues, is expected to restore the likes of Cesar Azpilicueta, David Luiz, Jorginho and Eden Hazard to his starting line-up at Goodison Park.

Provisional squad:

Kepa, Caballero, Rudiger, Christensen, Luiz, Azpilicueta, Emerson Palmieri, Alonso, Zappacosta, Ampadu, Jorginho, Kante, Barkley, Loftus-Cheek, Kovacic, Willian, Hudson-Odoi, Hazard, Pedro, Giroud, Higuain.


🗞️ AFC BOURNEMOUTH TEAM NEWS

Bournemouth will be able to pick Ryan Fraser for the visit of Newcastle.

Fraser missed the first part of this week's training after picking up a knock in last weekend's win over Huddersfield but should be fine.

Steve Cook (groin) and long-term absentees Simon Francis and Lewis Cook (both knee) remain out.

Provisional squad:

Boruc, Begovic, Smith, Clyne, Rico, Daniels, Mepham, Simpson, Solanke, Ake, Gosling, Lerma, Taylor, Surman, Fraser, Ibe, Brooks, Wilson, Mousset, Surridge, King.


🔥 IN-FORM MANE ONE OF THE BEST

Sadio Mane scores for Liverpool against Bayern in the Champions League
Sadio Mane scores for Liverpool against Bayern in the Champions League

Liverpool's in-form forward Sadio Mane deserves to be mentioned with the very best strikers in the Premier League, according to team-mate Georginio Wijnaldum.

The Senegal international took his tally to 19 for the season with a brace in the Champions League win over Bayern Munich that put the Reds into the quarter-finals.

Mane is just one goal behind fellow forward Mohamed Salah and with 16 Premier League goals this season he' s just two behind current top scorer Sergio Aguero.

Mane has 10 goals in as many games in all competitions - including three doubles - and is enjoying his best goalscoring return in his five seasons in English football.

And that is why he has to be mentioned alongside the City striker and his in-form team-mate Raheem Sterling, Tottenham's Harry Kane, and Salah.

"He is really good. The games tell you that, he is really important with his goals and assists. A good season, his best with us," said Wijnaldum.

"They (media) do not speak about him? I think the other players have shown they get the headlines but Sadio also. He has had a big influence on winning games.

"Mo did not score (against Bayern) but had a good game. People speak about the player who had two goals. A lot of players do the work and make the difference.

"You have to speak about everyone. For me, Sadio is up there with those players you named."


🗞️ BURNLEY TEAM NEWS

Burnley boss Sean Dyche could select the same side for the third-straight game when Leicester visit Turf Moor on Saturday.

The Clarets have no new injury worries but have lost their last three matches and Dyche may be tempted to bring wide man Johann Berg Gudmundsson back in.

Aaron Lennon is pushing to return from knee surgery before the end of the season but fellow midfielder Steven Defour (calf) is likely to have to wait until next term.

Provisional squad:

Heaton, Hart, Pope, Lowton, Taylor, Tarkowski, Mee, Gibson, Ward, Bardsley, Long, Cork, Gudmundsson, Brady, Hendrick, Westwood, McNeil, Barnes, Wood, Crouch, Vydra.


🗞️ PALACE TEAM NEWS

Pape Souare has returned to fitness for Crystal Palace ahead of Saturday's FA Cup quarter-final at Watford.

The left-back had been absent with a shoulder injury and - though he is unlikely to feature - he strengthens their options amid injuries to Mamadou Sakho and Bakary Sako.

Sakho has a knee injury that could end his season, and Sako remains short of match fitness.

Provisional squad:

Guaita, Hennessey, Speroni, Wan-Bissaka, Ward, Tomkins, Kelly, Van Aanholt, Dann, Souare, Riedewald, Townsend, McArthur, Meyer, Milivojevic, Schlupp, Benteke, Ayew, Batshuayi, Wickham.


🗞️ WEST HAM TEAM NEWS

West Ham boss Manuel Pellegrini
West Ham boss Manuel Pellegrini

West Ham striker Andy Carroll will miss the visit of Huddersfield with an ankle injury.

Jack Wilshere, Andriy Yarmolenko, Carlos Sanchez and Winston Reid remain on the sidelines.

Fabian Balbuena is set to figure for the first time since December after recovering from a knee injury while Marko Arnautovic is in line for a recall in attack.

Provisional squad:

Fabianski, Fredericks, Balbuena, Diop, Cresswell, Rice, Noble, Nasri, Lanzini, Arnautovic, Antonio, Adrian, Zabaleta, Ogbonna, Masuaku, Obiang, Snodgrass, Anderson, Hernandez.


🗞️ WATFORD TEAM NEWS

Andre Gray celebrates Watford's goal at Newcastle in the FA Cup
Andre Gray celebrates Watford's goal at Newcastle in the FA Cup

Watford boss Javi Gracia has a full squad to chose from ahead of Saturday's FA Cup quarter-final against Crystal Palace.

Defender Miguel Britos has shaken off the leg problem he picked up late on during last weekend's 3-1 Premier League defeat at Manchester City.

Veteran goalkeeper Heurelho Gomes, who is set to retire at the end of the season, is one of those hoping for another opportunity in the FA Cup.

Provisional squad:

Gomes, Janmaat, Britos, Holebas, Kabasele, Cleverley, Sema, Hughes, Capoue, Deeney, Gray, Dahlberg, Mariappa, Navarro, Doucoure, Quina, Deulofeu, Penaranda.


🗞️ LEICESTER TEAM NEWS

Leicester could be unchanged for Saturday's Premier League trip to Burnley.

Winger Marc Albrighton (hamstring) is likely to miss the rest of the season while midfielder Daniel Amartey is still recovering from the broken ankle he suffered in October.

Midfielder Matty James is back in training after several injury setbacks but is unlikely to feature this season.

Provisional squad:

Schmeichel, Ward, Jakupovic, Simpson, Chilwell, Morgan, Evans, Maguire, Pereira, Soyuncu, Fuchs, Maddison, Gray, Tielemans, Mendy, Ndidi, Choudhury, Ghezzal, Iheanacho, Barnes, Okazaki, Vardy.


❌ MANCHESTER CITY FACING FIFA TRANSFER BAN - REPORTS

Six of Pep Guardiola's 11 Premier League defeats have come in the month of December.
Man City boss Pep Guardiola

Manchester City will be banned from making signings in the next two transfer windows by FIFA for breaking rules related to the protection of youth players and third-party ownership, according to reports.

The club are already being investigated by the Football Association and Premier League for allegations related to youth transfers and financial fair play rules, with the latter also being looked at by European football's governing body UEFA. That investigation could result in City being banned from the Champions League.

A transfer ban for the Premier League champions would come less than a month after Chelsea were hit with the same sanction for 29 breaches of article 19 of FIFA's regulations on the transfer and status of players.

The west London club have already lodged an appeal against that punishment but were told by FIFA last week that the sanction would not be frozen while the case is being reviewed, as Chelsea had hoped.

FIFA have been investigating City's international transfers for several years, although the club were cleared of breaking the rules when they signed Benjamin Garre from Velez Sarsfield in 2016 just after the Argentine midfielder's 16th birthday.

According to The Sun, FIFA believes City have crossed the line, though, in regards to their relationship with FC Nordsjaelland and the Right To Dream football academy in Ghana that is also owned by the Danish side's president Tom Vernon.

Last year, two players from the academy, Sierra Leone's George Davies and Ghanaian Dominic Oduro, told Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten that they signed for City and played in youth matches before they turned 18.

Both have since left City - Davies now plays in Latvia and Oduro in the United States - but FIFA has been investigating their time with the English club.

And that investigation was broadened later in 2018 when a second Danish newspaper, Politiken, published a story that claimed City had a secret deal with Vernon to have first refusal on the best prospects from Right to Dream.

If true, that would be a breach of the rules preventing the third-party ownership of players, as City could be argued to have undue influence over another club's players.

In regards to international transfers of players aged under 18, they are only allowed in three circumstances: the players' parents have moved to the new country for non-footballing reasons, they and the club are based close to the relevant national border or the transfer takes place within the European Economic Area and the player is at least 16.

As well as Chelsea, Spanish trio Atletico Madrid, Barcelona and Real Madrid have all been punished for signing under-age players from abroad in the past. Real were able to get their ban reduced on appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport - an avenue Chelsea and now perhaps City will also explore.

Neither Manchester City nor FIFA were available for comment on Thursday night.


📰 PAPER TALK!

Friday's edition is here!

Get all the latest football gossip from the day's back pages
Get all the latest football gossip from the day's back pages

Main headlines:

  • 🔵 Man City transfer ban imminent?
  • 🔎 Solskjaer earmarks midfielder as summer transfer target
  • 🔴 Arsenal join race for Celtic defender
  • ⚪️ Spurs to cash in on Eriksen and sign two Championship stars?

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