The 10 most improved players in the Premier League this season

Eden Hazard, Gylfi Sigurdsson, James Milner and Callum Wilson have stepped it up this seasonBy Martin Laurence for WhoScoredÉtienne Capoue can be a frustrating player at times. He has real quality, which he showed occasionally in his unsuccessful spell at Tottenham, but this is his longest run of consistently strong performances in the Premier League. He has forged a solid midfield partnership with Abdoulaye Doucouré at Watford and has even overshadowed his fellow Frenchman, the club’s player of last season. Capoue’s total of 53 tackles and interceptions is second only to Idrissa Gueye (54) in the league this season and, having fallen out of favour under Marco Silva, he is now among the first names on Javi Gracia’s teamsheet. Rating: 7.13, up 0.38 on last season. Continue reading...



Kaneria admits spot-fixing after six years of denials

Former Pakistan leg spinner Danish Kaneria admits to spot-fixing while at Essex, ending six years of denial.



Stephen Hendry: ‘I hate the word yips, it trivialises it. It was much more than that’ | Donald McRae

The seven-times world champion on his duels with Davis, Higgins, White and O’Sullivan and how his famed mental strength disintegrated leaving him no choice but to quit“It was a mixture of embarrassment, anger, frustration, sadness, everything,” Stephen Hendry says as he remembers how his dominance of snooker unravelled into, in his mind, a shambling wreck of a game. When the end came, in the quarter-finals of the 2012 world championships, Hendry was so besieged by psychological demons “there was nothing positive left”.Hendry’s favourite sportsmen are Tiger Woods, Michael Schumacher, Nick Faldo and AP McCoy and he was once as imperious as they had been. He holds the record for the most world titles, with all seven being won in the 1990s, and he was world No 1 for eight successive seasons. But the great champions feel it most when vulnerability takes over. Continue reading...



Premier League: 10 things to look out for this weekend

José Mourinho will want to make a point at Stamford Bridge while Chris Hughton returns to a chaotic St James’s ParkIn Manchester United’s last match, against Newcastle, José Mourinho demonstrated some of the audacity with which he made his name. He made a tactical substitution after 19 minutes, swinging a game his team was already losing 2-0 back in his side’s favour. Two of the three goals United scored came from his substitutes. It was an impressive demonstration of a coach’s ability to affect a match, the only shame being that the transformation was made necessary by the appalling performance of his starting XI. United are still some way from convincing anyone of their outstanding quality, with the best team they have beaten so far ninth-placed Watford. If they are to set a new marker in the Saturday lunchtime kick-off against Chelsea, Mourinho will have to demonstrate his tactical astuteness again – only without the woeful opening this time. SB Continue reading...



A Peter Brackley tribute, premature celebrations and Ironman triathlon | Classic YouTube

This week’s roundup also features a rugby union penalty shootout, Gianfranco Zola magic and a failed marriage proposal1) RIP Peter Brackley. He worked for Sky and ITV but for many, he was the voice of the 1990s as Serie A was beamed into our living rooms with Football Italia – it is a testament to his skill that the programme never felt poorer for a lack of co-commentator and there are few things more musical than Brackley screaming “Ravenelli” into a microphone. He was also the voice of Pro Evolution Soccer 2 – “oh that’s torn it!” – and he did a fantastic Jimmy Greaves impression on Spitting Image – so good that he was invited to appear, alongside Greaves, on ITV before the 1987 FA Cup Final. Related: Golden Goal: John Barnes for Liverpool v QPR (1987) Continue reading...



Nadal and Djokovic need to break silence over Saudi exhibition | Kevin Mitchell

The two players appear to have remained deaf to growing clamour over seeming endorsement of Saudi Arabia amid outrage over disappearance of Jamal KhashoggiRafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic, men of conscience and integrity, continue to risk their good name by accepting an invitation to play in a meaningless exhibition in Saudi Arabia, a regime under critical scrutiny for the disappearance of the journalist Jamal Khashoggi.The kidnap-and-murder story has led news bulletins around the world – alongside Saudi Arabia’s involvement in the conflict that has contributed to the famine engulfing Yemen – yet efforts this week by the Guardian to elicit a response from either player over playing in Jeddah on 22 December have proved fruitless. Continue reading...



Smith and Carlos embodied many African Americans' Summer of Love and Reckoning

Fifty years ago this week, two proud Olympians raised their fists to call attention to social injustices. Their gesture made my heart swell with prideIn the summer of 1967, 100,000 fashion-forward and social-forward youth gathered in San Francisco in what has famously been called the Summer of Love. Similar gatherings occurred throughout the US, Canada, and Europe, all in an effort to reject the Vietnam War, consumerism, and governments who had proven less than forthright, while promoting the ideals of love, kindness, and compassion. The Summer of Love has been branded and celebrated as a symbol of the 60s. African Americans had another name for that summer: the Long, Hot Summer of 1967. During that time, 150 black communities burned in riots, with 26 people killed in Newark, New Jersey, and 43 in Detroit. By the following summer, Dr Martin Luther King Jr and Bobby Kennedy, two guiding lights in civil rights, had been assassinated. Black people were not feeling the love. That’s the context for the 1968 Summer Olympics when, 50 years ago this week, Tommie Smith and John Carlos raised their gloved fists from the podium in Mexico City, medals dangling from their necks, while the US national anthem played. To many African Americans, that was the Summer of Love – and Pride, and Reckoning. Related: Colin Kaepernick sounds the alarm against a re-emerging evil | Richard Williams Continue reading...



NBA 2018-19 predictions: Greek Freak to peak and Warriors to three-peat

How will LeBron James get on in California? Is Russell Westbrook in decline? Can anyone stop Golden State? Our writers have their sayGiannis Antetokounmpo in Mike Budenholzer’s offense. Milwaukee’s new coach will install a system that complements everything the Greek Freak does well – which is practically everything – and mask his one flaw: perimeter shooting. If it works, Antetokounmpo’s surges up the court will resemble an alien attack rather than a basketball offense. OC Continue reading...



FA 'appalled' by rape & death threats to England's Carney

The Football Association urges police to tackle abuse on social media after death threats are made to England's Karen Carney.



Scottish Premiership: Does Scotland have a title race this season?

One of four teams could be top of the Premiership this weekend but what can the table after eight games tell us about how it might end?



Harry Maguire: Leicester defender remains focused and 'ambitious'

England defender Harry Maguire says he wants to win trophies and play in the Champions League, but owes Leicester City for giving him a platform.



Take The Ball, Pass The Ball: trailer for documentary on Barcelona's Guardiola years – video

Lionel Messi, Thierry Henry, Xavi and many other top footballers have shared their reasons as to why they believe Barcelona are the greatest football club in the world. In the documentary, Take The Ball, Pass The Ball, former and current Barça players look back at when Pep Guardiola led the team to 14 trophies in four years from 2008-2012.The all-star cast reveal the tension of the bitter Guardiola-Mourinho rivalry, the importance of Johan Cruyff’s vision and blueprint for success, the emotion of Abidal’s fight back from cancer and how Messi was almost rejected by the club as a teenager.Take the Ball Pass the Ball will be available in OurScreen cinemas from 9th November, then on DVD and Digital Download from 12th November Continue reading...



Man Utd will thrive again, says Shaw after agreeing new deal

Manchester United left-back Luke Shaw says the club will return to form after he agreed a new five-year deal.



'I have no regrets': Mauricio Pochettino on Tottenham's lack of transfers – video

Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino says he has no regrets about failing to add to his squad in the summer. They have gone on to amass a joint club-record 18 points from their opening eight games, and resume their Premier League campaign with Saturday’s trip across London to West Ham. Continue reading...



Football transfer rumours: Neymar dreaming of Messi reunion at Barça?

Today’s fluff needs something to rely onNeymar is sad and bored and lonely in Paris and is dreaming of a return to Barcelona, says Mundo Deportivo. “Paris is a great city,” it notes, “but its climate is not that of Barcelona, nor is the Parc des Princes the Camp Nou or the Seine the Mediterranean.” The Brazilian continues to shower his former teammates, whom he left so willingly in 2017, with messages concerning a move back to Spain. “Neymar longs for his old club and his old teammates, especially Lionel Messi, as well as his old life in Barcelona and the greatness of his old club,” it writes. These feelings have never been reciprocated, with many at Barcelona still scarred by the betrayal they saw in the Brazilian’s departure. “However, lately this perception has changed,” Mundo Deportivo continues, “and the return of the Brazilian is already being considered as a plausible possibility.”That’s as may be. But several members of the Barcelona team, including Gerard Piqué, Lionel Messi and Samuel Umtiti, appear to think priorities should lie elsewhere and are campaigning for the club to buy Paul Pogba, says the Daily Mail. “Manager Ernesto Valverde is also keen,” it reports. So with the manager, their greatest player and a host of other dressing-room regulars all behind the move, and the club coffers assumed to be bulging with booty, it looks as if the move is bound to happen – except the Mail also reports that profits are down to a meagre £10m, and not everyone is in favour of the deal happening anyway. “Barcelona scouts are split,” it says, “with some believing the club’s slick passing game requires midfielders who take fewer risks on the ball and have greater positional sense.” Continue reading...