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NASSER HUSSAIN: Pakistan are such a threat… England must NOT take them lightly in Test series

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nasser hussain pakistan are such a threat england must not take them lightly in test series

You never know what you are going to get from Pakistan and that’s why the three- Test series that begins on Wednesday is such an exciting prospect.

I know it’s a cliche but Pakistan really are mercurial. One day they will be a shambles and the next they will play brilliant, exhilarating cricket.

Joe Root takes them lightly at his peril because England have not beaten Pakistan since 2010 and the last two series in this country have been drawn.

England's first Test against Pakistan should be exciting because the tourists are mercurial

England's first Test against Pakistan should be exciting because the tourists are mercurial

England’s first Test against Pakistan should be exciting because the tourists are mercurial  

England and their captain Joe Root must not take the tourists lightly in this Test series

England and their captain Joe Root must not take the tourists lightly in this Test series

England and their captain Joe Root must not take the tourists lightly in this Test series

Pakistan may have lost two of their recent greats — Younis Khan and inspirational captain Misbah-ul-Haq — but as always seems to be the case, they have a crop of good young players knocking on the door and coming through. So they will be a threat. They have a nice mix to their attack, too.

There’s the 17-year-old Naseem Shah, who will push 90 miles per hour, and the tall left-armer Shaheen Afridi, who will get it through. 

Add the wrist-spin of Yasir Shah and the accuracy of Mohammad Abbas, who has a phenomenal record in England, and that’s a useful line-up.

Like West Indies they will need to give their bowlers runs to play with, but where they are different is that they have a stronger batting order.

Pakistan have top players such as bowler Naseem Shah (left) and batsman Babar Azam (right)

Pakistan have top players such as bowler Naseem Shah (left) and batsman Babar Azam (right)

Pakistan have top players such as bowler Naseem Shah (left) and batsman Babar Azam (right)

The outstanding member of that line-up is Babar Azam, who has the best average in the world over the past two years.

Babar has taken on the responsibility of being Pakistan’s leading batsman now and it is not only his stats that are impressive but the way he bats, because he is very pleasing on the eye. He will need to have a good series for Pakistan to win it.

I am enjoying what Root and head coach Chris Silverwood are doing with England because they are getting the team to score first-innings totals of 350-400 plus, which they know will give them every chance of winning Tests.

It may not be thrilling to watch at times but if they stick to that template of batting time in the first innings and doing the hard yards at the start of the match, they should have enough to beat Pakistan whatever combination of bowlers England pick.

Stuart Broad was in stunning form against the West Indies after he was originally dropped

Stuart Broad was in stunning form against the West Indies after he was originally dropped

Stuart Broad was in stunning form against the West Indies after he was originally dropped

I have gone one way and then the other when thinking about what that bowling combination should be for Wednesday’s first Test. I’ve always said I would play two of Jimmy Anderson, Stuart Broad and Chris Woakes because you do have to have one eye on the future.

And if they did pick all three on Wednesday, then England are giving themselves problems ahead of the second of three back-to-back Tests which is at the Ageas Bowl only three days after this one finishes.

So there is a case for leaving out Woakes, even though he took a five-for in the second innings of the last Test against West Indies. And if he doesn’t play it would — on this occasion — be sensible rotation rather than dropping him.

I know the Ashes series in Australia is still 18 months away, but ideally I would like to see Jofra Archer or Mark Wood — with their express pace — play in every Test between now and then, because England have to build an attack that can take wickets in all conditions.

Will Root and the coaching staff pick both pace bowlers Jofra Archer (left) and Mark Wood?

Will Root and the coaching staff pick both pace bowlers Jofra Archer (left) and Mark Wood?

Will Root and the coaching staff pick both pace bowlers Jofra Archer (left) and Mark Wood? 

England could, of course, omit Dom Bess and leave their spin to the captain, but the problem with that is that Bess will only get better the more he plays.

And if Stokes is fully fit to bowl then England would have five seamers and that’s one too many.

Whatever England decide, it should not be an issue or a distraction on Wednesday morning because the most important thing is that they continue to put the building blocks in place that can take them back to No 1 in the Test rankings.

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Five substitutions set to stay in this season’s Champions League and Europa League

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five substitutions set to stay in this seasons champions league and europa league

UEFA are expected to announce that managers will be allowed to use five substitutes in this season’s Champions League and Europa League on Thursday in a ruling that could put English clubs at a significant disadvantage. 

La Liga, Serie A, the Bundesgia and Ligue 1 have all continued using five subs this season, but the experiment introduced during Project Restart was abandoned by the Premier League so England’s top club could find themselves playing by different rules in domestic and European competition.

Europe’s top clubs have been lobbying UEFA all summer for five subs to be permitted on the grounds of minimising player fatigue in a season that has been cut by four weeks due to the impact of Covid-19, and a decision will be made at the European governing body’s Executive Committee meeting tomorrow. 

Clubs in European competitions will continue to be able to make five changes this season

Clubs in European competitions will continue to be able to make five changes this season

Clubs in European competitions will continue to be able to make five changes this season

The Premier League’s biggest clubs also wanted to continue with five subs and nine players on the bench this season, but failed to get sufficient support from the rest of the top flight despite twice putting the proposal to a vote at shareholders’ meetings earlier this summer. 

Liverpool, Manchester City, Manchester United and Chelsea will be the Premier League’s representatives in the Champions League with the group stage draw to take place in on 1 October.

The problem of fixture congestion will be further highlighted when UEFA confirm their plans for Europe’s 2022 World Cup qualifying tournament, which is expected to begin with two triple-headers next March and September. 

That schedule will represent another blow for Premier League managers, who face seeing their players take part in three international matches in little over a week towards the end of the season, and present a challenge for England manager Gareth Southgate to ensure he can select his first-choice squad.

UEFA are set to adopt the rules for both the Champions League and the Europa League

UEFA are set to adopt the rules for both the Champions League and the Europa League

UEFA are set to adopt the rules for both the Champions League and the Europa League 

UEFA will also announce dates for the Nations League final tournament, which is likely to be put back until the autumn of 2021 as the delayed European Championship will dominate next summer. 

The Euros is not on the agenda, but is sure to be discussed amidst growing fears it will have to be staged behind closed doors due to rising infection rates across Europe.

UEFA remain committed to the 12-city pan-European format, but are working on a plan B in case that does not prove practical. A final decision is not expected to be taken until the start of next year.

The congested international fixture list is also set to present a problem for Gareth Southgate

The congested international fixture list is also set to present a problem for Gareth Southgate

The congested international fixture list is also set to present a problem for Gareth Southgate 

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Arsenal open to letting Reiss Nelson leave in loan transfer with Mikel Arteta wanting winger to get game time

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arsenal open to letting reiss nelson leave in loan transfer with mikel arteta wanting winger to get game time scaled

ARSENAL will allow Reiss Nelson to leave on loan before the October 5 transfer deadline, according to reports.

The England youth international has fallen down the pecking order at the Emirates since the arrival of Willian from Chelsea.

Reiss Nelson could be set to leave Arsenal on a temporary basis

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Reiss Nelson could be set to leave Arsenal on a temporary basisCredit: Getty Images – Getty

And having not even made the substitutes’ bench for either of the Gunners’ Premier League matches so far this season Nelson, 20, could be headed for a new temporary home.

According to David Ornstein, there are no shortage of interested parties – but the potential move is at an early stage.

Nelson burst onto the scene under Arsene Wenger, making 16 appearances in the legendary Frenchman’s final season in charge.



He was then allowed to join Hoffenheim on loan in the Bundesliga, flourishing as he quickly became a regular.

The Londoner appeared 29 times under Julian Nagelsmann, including five outings in the Champions League.

Nelson returned to Arsenal as a useful squad player, making 22 appearances last season – often alongside fellow academy graduates Bukayo Saka, Eddie Nketiah and Joe Willock.

He played eight minutes as a substitute in the Community Shield triumph over Liverpool last month.

But the Gunners are happy to let him go and shine again as he did at Hoffenheim.

Nelson bagged the winner against Liverpool in July

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Nelson bagged the winner against Liverpool in JulyCredit: News Group Newspapers Ltd

Last week Arteta, 38, said on the matter: “I think they all realise the competition we have in forward positions.

“I’ve already spoken with Reiss about it and I really like the way he’s training.

“I think we both agree about how much he’s improved in the last few months and he’s going to carry on pushing himself and the rest of the team.

“He needs to be ready because in football, unfortunately, or fortunately, things don’t take three months to change, it can take three minutes and you have to be ready when that opportunity comes.

“I think if you ask any of those 27 players if they need to play, they will all say ‘Yes, of course. I need to play regularly and I need minutes.’

“But at the moment it’s just not possible playing one game a week and with this rule of just being able to have 18 players, it’s very difficult to give everyone the same minutes – impossible.”

Nelson previously enjoyed a loan spell at Hoffenheim

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Nelson previously enjoyed a loan spell at HoffenheimCredit: AFP
Leicester vs Arsenal Carabao Cup tie TV Channel, live stream and kick-off time

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Premier League TV fixtures updated with earlier times for midweek clashes due to 10pm pub curfew

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premier league tv fixtures updated with earlier times for midweek clashes due to 10pm pub curfew

MANCHESTER UNITED’S home clash Tottenham will be shown live on Sky Sports.

Spurs boss Jose Mourinho will return to his former stomping ground on October 4 at 14:30.

Mourinho's return to Old Trafford will be shown live on Sky Sports

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Mourinho’s return to Old Trafford will be shown live on Sky SportsCredit: Reuters

It will be one of SIX live games shown on the Super Sunday with the Premier League forced to change kick-off times following the government’s decision to close pubs at 22:00.

It means midweek fixtures will now take place at 17:45 or 20:00 so supporters can watch the entirety of matches.

More to follow…

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