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OLIVER HOLT: Pep Guardiola does not have the answers to the question of how to catch Jurgen Klopp

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oliver holt pep guardiola does not have the answers to the question of how to catch jurgen klopp

In the wake of Liverpool’s signing of Thiago Alcantara this week and Friday night’s confirmation they have also sealed the purchase of Diogo Jota from Wolves, the tide of opinion has swung away from Manchester City winning the Premier League title this season towards Jurgen Klopp’s side retaining it. Call me fickle but I think the new arrivals on Merseyside are game-changers, too. I’m running from City and putting my money on Liverpool.

It is going to be a two-horse race and when Liverpool began the season without adding a major signing to their roster with a shaky win in the classic against Leeds, it felt as if inaction might cost them. Any side, no matter how good, needs fresh momentum and renewed competition within the squad. It needs to evolve and to progress and to thwart any hint of complacency. The addition of Thiago, in particular, ticks those boxes.

There are not many players who could improve the Liverpool side that won the title by a runaway 18 points last season but Thiago is one of them. He is a cerebral, elegant footballer, the kind of orchestrator of a match that Liverpool have not possessed so far under Klopp. Liverpool’s biggest weapon is their front three and the addition of Thiago may mean they are even better supplied than before. The addition of Jota insures against one of that trio getting injured.

Pep Guardiola still does not have the answers as to how to claw the title back from Liverpool

Pep Guardiola still does not have the answers as to how to claw the title back from Liverpool

Pep Guardiola still does not have the answers as to how to claw the title back from Liverpool

The Reds' signings of Thiago (pictured) and Diogo Jota are game-changers for the champions

The Reds' signings of Thiago (pictured) and Diogo Jota are game-changers for the champions

The Reds’ signings of Thiago (pictured) and Diogo Jota are game-changers for the champions

City will be close. Closer than they were last season. But as they prepare to play the first game of their season against Wolves on Monday, there are too many question marks building up against them to suggest that, especially after developments last week, they can overhaul the champions.

The first, and most obvious, is the news that Sergio Aguero could be out injured for the next two months. City still have a fearsome frontline but it is not quite the same without Aguero. Gabriel Jesus is a brilliant forward but, so far, he has failed to show that he can be as prolific as the Argentina striker when he has been given the chance to step in. Two months is a long time to be without him.

There are also unaddressed concerns about City’s defence. Yes, it was the second meanest defence in the league last season but Liverpool’s was better. So far, City have added Nathan Ake from Bournemouth to it, but the consensus is that that will still leave them short. Defensive frailty cost them in their final match of last season, the Champions League quarter-final against Lyon, and it will cost them again if they do not secure more reinforcements.

City will run them close, but may be found reeling from the two-month loss of Sergio Aguero

City will run them close, but may be found reeling from the two-month loss of Sergio Aguero

City will run them close, but may be found reeling from the two-month loss of Sergio Aguero

Guardiola has an array of attacking talents, but still has defensive issues to resolve

Guardiola has an array of attacking talents, but still has defensive issues to resolve

Guardiola has an array of attacking talents, but still has defensive issues to resolve

City are a beautiful side. They will probably be the best team to watch in the Premier League again this season. But any team anywhere would be poorer for the loss of David Silva and quite how they cope without him now that he has returned to Spain is another area of uncertainty. The hope is that Phil Foden, already such a wonderful talent, will continue to develop to the point where he fills the void but Silva is going to be the toughest of acts to follow.

City have the most talented player in the league and one of the best players in the world in Kevin de Bruyne, they have Raheem Sterling, who has also matured into a world class talent, they have Riyad Mahrez, Bernardo Silva and Ferran Torres, the winger newly signed from Valencia as a replacement for Leroy Sane.

Their quality going forward is not in doubt. City are a team that can bewitch an opponent and paralyse them with their mix of energy and technical ability but for all their talent in attacking positions, there is still a feeling they are vulnerable, particularly to pace and that they have not quite done enough to address that deficiency.

The signing of Nathan Ake is positive, but may not be enough to shore up their defence

The signing of Nathan Ake is positive, but may not be enough to shore up their defence

The signing of Nathan Ake is positive, but may not be enough to shore up their defence

In those heady few days earlier this month when it seemed they might sign Lionel Messi, it did not seem to matter they had not dealt with their most pressing issue. With Messi, who needed to worry about defence? But when that deal died, the worries returned.

They still have Guardiola, of course, the man who most still consider the best football coach in the world, the man around whom the modern City is built. But there is uncertainty around him, too. His contract runs out at the end of this season and, despite all sorts of positive noises, he has not yet signed a new one.

Maybe Messi will come to City next season and he and Guardiola will join together in a golden autumn at the Etihad. Or maybe Guardiola will return to Barcelona to help Messi through the last years of his career at the Nou Camp. Speculation about all that will grow as this season progresses. It would be easy for it to become a distraction.

The last few days have been pivotal in trying to read how the season will develop. Of the two title contenders, suddenly it is City who look more like the team that is standing still. Liverpool have the edge.

The last few days could prove crucial and now Liverpool have the edge going into the season

The last few days could prove crucial and now Liverpool have the edge going into the season

The last few days could prove crucial and now Liverpool have the edge going into the season

I hope Bale proves me wrong at Spurs

Gareth Bale is a wonderful footballer, a player blessed with pace and vision and a talent for producing the spectacular in the biggest matches. In terms of the trophies he has won, he is one of the greats of the British game.

His capture by Spurs chairman Daniel Levy is, at the very least, a public relations stroke of genius. It has injected a shot of excitement and hope into a Tottenham season that was starting to look moribund almost before it had begun. At its best, the move may just provide the antidote to the dolefulness creeping through the club under the Jose Mourinho regime.

Gareth Bale's return to Spurs is fantastic for the club and the Premier League as a whole

Gareth Bale's return to Spurs is fantastic for the club and the Premier League as a whole

Gareth Bale’s return to Spurs is fantastic for the club and the Premier League as a whole

His capture, at the very least, is a public relations stroke of genius by Spurs chief Daniel Levy

His capture, at the very least, is a public relations stroke of genius by Spurs chief Daniel Levy

His capture, at the very least, is a public relations stroke of genius by Spurs chief Daniel Levy

The heart wants the Bale move to work, not just for Spurs fans but because anyone who loves the game wants players of his grace and style to prosper and because his arrival will provide the Premier League with a great boost as it continues to play to empty stadiums.

The head says that Bale may be a sticking plaster loaned to try to hide the wounds opening up at the club under Mourinho. The head says that seven years after he first left Spurs for Real Madrid, it will be hard for him to live up to expectations. The head says that, at 31, it will only get harder for him to stay free of the injuries that have dogged his career.

I’m going with what my head tells me but I hope Bale, who has already shut up the critics who said he had no ambition left and would sit out the rest of his Madrid contract on the bench, proves me wrong.

But Bale may be a sticking plaster to hide the wounds under Mourinho opening up at Spurs

But Bale may be a sticking plaster to hide the wounds under Mourinho opening up at Spurs

But Bale may be a sticking plaster to hide the wounds under Mourinho opening up at Spurs

Scott is right choice for Question of Sport host seat 

The question is not whether Alex Scott would be lucky to be given the gig as the new presenter of A Question of Sport. The question is whether A Question of Sport would be lucky to get Alex Scott.

Part of the reason why giving the job to Scott is a superb idea is I’m not a fan of the outgoing presenter, Sue Barker. I respect she was a pioneer in sports broadcasting and if you’ve lasted 24 years in the job, as she had, you’ve obviously been doing something right but Barker’s brand of smug sycophancy never quite did it for me.

If Scott gets the job, it will be because she’s an accomplished, personable, diligent broadcaster, who was in the right place at the right time.

A Question of Sport would be lucky to get Alex Scott, who would be superb in the hosting role

A Question of Sport would be lucky to get Alex Scott, who would be superb in the hosting role

A Question of Sport would be lucky to get Alex Scott, who would be superb in the hosting role

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Barcelona vs Real Madrid LIVE RESULT: Modric, Sergio Ramos pen and Valverde wrap up crucial El Clasico win for Madrid

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BLOG El Clasico 1 2

REAL MADRID have secured a crucial win in a pulsating El Clasico.

Federico Valverde gave Los Blancos an early lead before Ansu Fati instantly replied for Barcelona.

But a Sergio Ramos second half penalty and Luka Modric late strike made the game safe.

This post first appeared on thesun.co.uk

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Man Utd vs Chelsea LIVE: Stream, TV channel, score, teams and kick-off time for Premier League – Pogba and Mount dropped

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man utd vs chelsea live stream tv channel score teams and kick off time for premier league pogba and mount dropped
BLOG manchester united v chelsea

MANCHESTER UNITED take on Chelsea with Paul Pogba dropped yet again for a big Premier League clash.

Red Devils boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has put his faith in the side that thumped Newcastle 4-1, while Frank Lampard has shaken things up by dropping Mason Mount.

  • Man Utd vs Chelsea kicks off at 5.30pm today at Old Trafford.
  • Man Utd vs Chelsea is live on Sky Sports Main Event, Premier League and Ultra HD.
  • You can stream the game live from your Sky Go account.
  • If you’re not a Sky Sports subscriber, grab a NOW TV pass from just £9.99 to stream the match on a number of devices.
  • Alternatively, listen to all of the action LIVE with talkSPORT’s commentary here.
  • Man Utd XI: De Gea, Wan Bissaka, Lindelöf, Maguire, Shaw, McTominay, Fred, Mata, Fernandes, James, Rashford.
  • Chelsea XI: Mendy; James, Azpicueta, Thiago Silva, Zouma, Chilwell; Jorginho, Kante; Pulisic, Havertz, Werner.

This post first appeared on thesun.co.uk

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France vs Wales rugby: Live stream FREE, kick-off time, TV channel and team news for TONIGHT’S Autumn International

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france vs wales rugby live stream free kick off time tv channel and team news for tonights autumn international

WALES are back in action after seven months of waiting as they travel to Paris to take on France.

Before the break, the Welsh men were still getting to grips with a first campaign without Warren Gatland and languished in fifth in the Six Nations table.

Alun Wyn Jones will equal the world record for international appearances in Paris

1

Alun Wyn Jones will equal the world record for international appearances in ParisCredit: PA:Press Association

Meanwhile France are still in with a chance of winning the competition despite a shock defeat to Scotland.

And this Autumn International should provide a great opportunity for Fabien Galthie and Wayne Pivac to examine their options ahead of a big Halloween Six Nations climax.

What time does France vs Wales kick off?

  • France vs Wales kicks off at 8.10pm – 9.10pm French time.
  • The match will be played at the Stade de France, Paris.
  • Although the French government has let fans into rugby, this game will be played behind closed doors as Paris is now under a 9pm curfew.

What TV channel is France vs Wales on and can I live stream it free?

  • France vs Wales is live on ITV4 in the UK.
  • Coverage commences at 7.30pm – 40 minutes before kick-off.
  • To stream the game live, head to the ITV Hub.
  • ITV is free for all UK viewers.

Team news

Latest odds

France 4/7

Draw 25/1

Wales 6/4

This post first appeared on thesun.co.uk

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