Five possible transfers in January

Aaron Ramsey

The sporting director of Juventus, Fabio Paratici announced today that Juventus 'really like' Aaron Ramsey. A seemingly innocuous comment that because of the Welshman's current situation and the upcoming transfer window, sent the rumour mill swirling. It is generally understood that the Gunners want to keep hold of Ramsey unless the Old Lady were to make a bid of £40 million or above.

Other potential suitors include PSG and Bayern Munich. Reports in the French Media suggest that PSG's sporting director Antero Henrique has been in touch with Ramsey's agent. The Parisian club could be looking for Ramsey to replace Rabiot who will be out of contract. 

Bayern might not lack options in midfield but the general consensus is that the club have been long time admirers of the Welshman's style of play and wouldn't pass up the opportunity to add him to their squad.

Most Likely destination if he leaves: Juventus

Market odds: 4/1

Gary Cahill

The Cottager's have emerged as favourites to sign the veteran English centre-back after it looked like Arsenal were going to nab him. At 32 years of age the defender, who has won two Premier League titles, an FA Cup, a Champions League and a Europa League with the Blues, looks like he will end his Chelsea career this January. The Cottager's look to have secured a loan deal until the Summer.

Cahill had been heavily linked with a move to Arsenal but Emery denied there was any official interest.

Most Likely destination if he leaves: Fulham

Market odds: 9/4

Cahill

Gary Cahill lifting the FA Cup

Danny Drinkwater

Drinkwater hasn't really been given much of an opportunity under Sarri. The Englishman, who likes to play in a two-man midfield hasn't really found his place in Sarri's preferred 4-3-3. He has also faced stiff competition from Kante, Kovacic, Jorginho, Barkley, Fabregas, Loftus-Cheek and Barkley. It is the ex-Leicester player's previous manager, Ranieri who has appeared as the favourite to sign Drinkwater for Fulham.

Most Likely destination if he leaves: Fulham

Market odds: 1/1

Jermaine Defoe

The veteran goalscorer will be 'allowed to leave' Bournemouth this January according to Bournemouth manager Eddie Howe. He has been impressed by the striker's professionalism but understands that he will want to leave in order to get some more game time. 

Gerrard's Rangers are currently favourites to sign Defoe, with his ex-England teammate eager to add a proven goalscorer to the Glasgow side. According to reports Defoe's £65,000-a-week wage demands could prove the only obstacle in a move to Scotland.

Most Likely destination if he leaves: Rangers

Market odds: 5/6

Cesc Fabregas

Fabregas' ex teammate, Thierry Henry has emerged as the favourite to sign him at struggling Ligue 1 side Monaco. The midfielder is reported to be unhappy with his lack of game time. At 31 years of age, with two FA Cups, two Premier League titles, one La Liga, one Copa Del Rey, one World Cup and one European Championship under his belt and having played for Arsenal, Barcelona, Chelsea and Spain, it must be tempting to make a big money move to the French Riviera.

Most Likely destination if he leaves: Monaco FC

Market odds: 2/5

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The Mancunian Candidates: who is most likely to replace Solskjaer at the end of the season?

It's finally happened, Mourinho is gone. Out with the jaded sneering baddie and in with the baby faced assassin. 

No one was as pleased as Paul Pogba who has been accused by Gary Neville of 'dancing on the grave' of Mourinho after handing out high fives in the dressing room.

But few can argue that this is not a good thing, even if the appointment of the Norwegian is just a temporary solution. A big name is expected in the summer after three managers have failed to lift Man Utd out of the rut they have been in since Sir Alex Ferguson left.

Here we list the possible candidates for the permanent role:

Mauricio Pochettino

Pochettino is currently the bookies' front runner for the job. The Argentinian has been understandably tight lipped about the speculation, choosing ambuiguity over any form of clarification - something he has done since links to Real Madrid and Man Utd started over the summer:

“In football, no one can guarantee you are going to be here tomorrow,” Pochettino said. “In football, I say today is white, tomorrow is black, you know? 

It's now half a year later and he has still failed to give a straight answer on the matter. He has also started to show frustration at the lack of funds at his disposal at Spurs.

What has he won as a manager?

Nothing yet.

Zinedine Zidane

Zidane is still without a job since picking up his third Champions League trophy in 2 and a half years at the helm of Real Madrid. Unlike with Pochettino, Man Utd will not need to pay any club compensation for hiring Zidane as manager. The Frenchman would certainly add some class to a club whose brand of football has been tarnished by two turgid spells under Van Gaal and Moyes followed by a toxic spell under Mourinho. 

What has he won as a manager?

Real Madrid:

La Liga: 1

UEFA Champions League: 3

Massimiliano Allegri

Allegri has won it all in Italy and could be looking for a new challenge this summer. The Juventus manager was linked to the Chelsea job before Sarri got it.

As a manager the Italian has won the Seria A once with Milan and four times with Juventus. He also took the Old Lady to the final of the Champions League on two occasions. Man Utd would certainly appreciate it if he could replicate the Ferguson style dominance he has enjoyed with Juve in Italy.

Serie A: 5

Coppa Italia: 4

Laurent Blanc

The ex manager player was originally favourite for the caretaker manager gig. As a manager he was in charge of Bordeaux for three years, followed by a two year stint with France and three years with PSG.

His management career has not been as as successful as some of the other candidates but he still managed to pick up four Ligue 1 titles in his time in France.

Ligue 1: 4

Coupe de France: 2

Coupe de la Ligue: 4

Blanc

Blanc during his time with PSG. He has not worked as a manager since he was sacked in 2016.

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Top five derby rivalries from around the world

What a weekend it was for derbies in the Premier League. A scintillating end-to-end North London derby with six goals, a bonkers last minute goal in Everton vs. Liverpool and then a typically amicable West London derby between Chelsea and Fulham. But, it got us thinking, what are the most intense, heated derby rivalries from around the world? Here are our top 5:

5. The Cairo derby: Al Ahly SC vs. Zamalek SC

Put two of the most successful club teams, not just in Egypt, but in the whole of Africa in the same bustling city and you have the perfect recipe for a heated derby. In terms of intensity this should really have been higher on our list, but the fact that there are often serious violent acts, including deaths reported in connection with this fixture meant we bumped it down to fifth place.

To put the level of rivalry into perspective referees from abroad are often flown in to officiate this match. They usually meet twice in the league, often in the Egypt Cup and occasionally in the CAF Champions League.

Head to head record:

Al Ahly: 66
Drawn: 58
Zamalek: 37

4. The Old Firm Derby: Celtic vs. Rangers

The highlight of the SPL season is the old firm derby when two of Scotland's most coveted teams meet in a fixture that evokes political, social and sectarian divides. Both teams are based in Glasgow and from the mid 80s until 2012 the two teams dominated the domestic league, with only one other team winning it during a seventeen year spell. 

In 2012 Rangers ran into financial difficulties and were demoted to the fourth tier of Scottish football. Now, they are back in the SPL but Celtic have dominated for the past seven years.

Head to head record:

Rangers: 159 matches 

Celtic: 156 matches

Drawn: 99 matches

3. Derby of The Eternal Enemies: Olympiakos vs. Panathinaikos

The name kind of gives it away; these two teams hate each other. Both based in Athens they are the two most successful teams in Greek history, and like a lot of derbies are split along social and political divides.

Panathinaikos are based in central Athens and considered the team of the middle/upper classes. Olympiakos is based in Piraeus, a port city in the suburbs of Athens and are associated with a more working class fan base. This derby is not restricted to football spilling over into basketball and other sports.

Head to head record:

Olympiakos: 80 matches 

Drawn: 68 matches

Panathinaikos: 50 matches

2. Superclásico: Boca Juniors vs. River Plate

The Buenos Aires derby is really a derby for the whole of Argentina with some statistics suggesting that these two clubs have over 70% of Argentina's fans between them.

The rivalry stems from social divides with Boca Juniors originating from La Boca a working class dockland district. River Plate come from the more affluent Nuñez district. Of course, being football fans they've decided to be mature about the whole thing with Boca fans calling River Plate fans gallinas (chickens) referring to their apparent lack of guts, whilst River Plate fans refer to Boca fans as Los chanchitos (little pigs) as the poorer district they are based in is purported to smell.

River Plate fans refer to Boca fans as Los chanchitos (little pigs) as the poorer district they are based in is purported to smell.

Head to head record:

Boca Juniors: 88 
Draw: 78 
River Plate: 81

1. The Intercontinental Derby: Fenerbahce vs. Galatasaray

This is the only derby to be played across two continents, hence it's name. It is a match between two Istanbul based teams that are also two of the most successful in Turkish history. This derby, like most others, is based on cultural and social rivalry as well as geographical.

To understand it you have to go back to their formation, with Galatasaray founded in 1905 by Galatasaray High School students. Fenerbahce was formed two years later on over in the Asian side of Istanbul in the working class district of Kadiköy. Since then Galatasaray have been associated with the high class in Istanbul whereas Fenerbahce is considered to be the team of blue collar workers. Of course, these lines have blurred in recent times but the rivalry and division is as alive as ever.

Head to head record:

Fenerbahçe SK: 146
Drawn: 119
Galatasaray SK: 123

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The five best North London Derbies of all time

In preperation for this Sunday's game between Arsenal and Spurs we've listed our favourite matches. 

20th April 2011 Spurs vs. Arsenal 3-3

You just can't argue with five goals in the first half. It begins with two neat finishes from Walcott and Van der Vaart within the first six minutes. Then Nasri - remember when he was good?! - scores from outside the box after Spurs fail to close home down.

Then a whole 28 minutes pass before the next goal, Van Persie initially has a header saved before thrashing in the rebound. It's now 1-3 after 40 mins.

Up steps Huddlestone who connects exquisitely with the ball from outside the area, one of those that rises every so slightly until it hits the net.

Van Persie has a long range strike ruled out for offside before Szczesny in the 69th brings down Lennon. Van der Vaart slots it in and the game ends 3-3.

17th November 2012 Arsenal vs. Spurs 5-2

Can you believe that there were two 5-2 games at the Emirates in 2012 between the two North London rivals. In this game we had seven different goalscorers in Mertesacker, Adebayor, Podolski, Giroud, Cazorla, Bale and Walcott.

26th February 2012 Arsenal vs. Spurs 5-2

Spurs squandered a 2-0 lead, only to lose 2-5. Van Persie's first is well worth watching.

29th October 2008 Arsenal vs. Spurs 4-4

You will all remember this for one reason. Bentley's volley... remember it now?

13th November 2004 Spurs vs. Arsenal 4-5

This match gave us 9 different scorers. For Spurs it was Naybet, Defoe, King and Kanouté and for the Gunners it was Henry, Lauren, Vieira, Ljungberg and Pires.

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What does England's Uefa Nation's League Group win mean?

England have officially topped The Nations League A Group 4. It might not roll of the tongue but it's a real achievement considering they had Spain and World Cup finalists Croatia to beat. 

What next?

This is the inaugural Nations League, so it's a fair question. Even Harry Maguire admitted it took him a while to get his (slab)head around the tournament format.

In short, England have qualified for the League A semi-finals which will include the three winners from the three other groups in League A - which were Switzerland, Portugal and either France or The Netherlands.

The semi-finals will be played in the Portuguese cities of Porto and Guimaraes on June 5th and 6th 2019. There will also be a third place playoff.

How does this effect England's qualification for Euro 2020?

England will be entered as usual to the standard qualification process for the Euros along with 55 other nations. BUT! having won their group England will be one of the top seeded teams in the European Championship qualification so they will be placed in a group with 5 other teams and not 6. This means they will not be playing a team like Andorra and will instead play the two Nations League games next summer.

If they fail to qualify from their standard European Championship qualification group they will get a second chance at the Nations League A mini tournament next summer. If they win this they will automatically qualify for the Euros.

Who else won their group?

Switzerland won their group, which contained Belgium and Iceland in style, beating the red devils 5-2 on Sunday. Iceland were relegated.

Portugal won group 3 which contained Italy and Poland. The Poles only picked up a point and are now relegated.

Group 2 will either be won by The Netherlands or France who will play tonight, with the Germans relegated.

In league B Ukraine, Bosnia and Denmark have all won their groups while Sweden and Russia will play a decider this week - Russia are 2 points ahead with a superior goal difference but now have to travel to Stockholm.

Leagues C and D are yet to be decided, but if Scotland beat Israel tomorrow at home then they will win their group.

What have been the best games so far?

We have to rank Englands 2-3 win over Spain as one of the best of the tournament. 

We also enjoyed Scotland's 0-4 rout of Albania on away soil. Tirana is never an easy city to be a visiting team but Scotland dispatched their hosts with aplomb. 

We had no expectations before Estonia vs. Hungary but wow did it deliver. Both teams came from behind with the final score ending 3-3.

After having the wrong anthem played for them in Yerevan, Gibraltar shocked the world by beating Armenia 0-1. It was a huge moment for the newly formed footballing minnows.

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