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Steven Gerrard is not listening to talk over who is the favourite for Saturday’s Old Firm derby

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steven gerrard is not listening to talk over who is the favourite for saturdays old firm derby

The perception has been of a pendulum swinging towards Ibrox. As misfortune mounted for Celtic during the international break, so their visitors this lunchtime became more fancied for the spoils of the season’s first Old Firm encounter.

Punters began to pile money on an away win. Bookies responded accordingly. The odds on Steven Gerrard’s side repeating the success of their previous trip to Parkhead on December 29 last year have been trimmed.

With up to four players missing due to Covid complications, you didn’t have to look far for suggestions the reigning champions were entering this clash firmly on the back foot.

The chances of Steven Gerrard's Rangers winning at Celtic on Saturday have been slimmed

The chances of Steven Gerrard’s Rangers winning at Celtic on Saturday have been slimmed

The Rangers boss sparked wild celebrations as his side won a classic Old Firm clash last year

The Rangers boss sparked wild celebrations as his side won a classic Old Firm clash last year

Pundits began to claim a Celtic victory in these circumstances could be sizeable psychological blow to Rangers. It has been portrayed as a prime opportunity for Gerrard’s men to seize a title initiative.

The Ibrox manager has heard all the talk. And ignored it all. Whatever team Neil Lennon fields today, whether or not Odsonne Edouard features after returning from isolation in France yesterday, Gerrard expects no less of a task than in any of his past seven Old Firm experiences.

He also points to Rangers coping with absences of their own. Ryan Jack proved his return to fitness with Scotland, but Kemar Roofe and Joe Aribo are unlikely to figure after several weeks out. New signing Bongani Zungu also remains in quarantine after his loan move from French outfit Amiens.

Gerrard (right) saus he is not focused on whether Neil Lennon (left)'s Celtic are favourites

Gerrard (right) saus he is not focused on whether Neil Lennon (left)’s Celtic are favourites

Asked if too much was being made of the narrative around Celtic’s predicament, Gerrard said: ‘I don’t listen to that in all honesty. I don’t get involved in who the bookies’ favourites are and blah, blah, blah.

‘We have missed three really important starters for close to a month in Ryan Jack, Joe Aribo and Kemar Roofe. We probably won’t have two of them available.

‘These challenges come up throughout a season at different times. We have faced them before and I’m sure we will in the future.

‘We are all living through the Covid challenge at the moment. All kinds of clubs have had different challenges with it and unfortunately it is not going to go away in the near future.

Rangers could be without the injured Ryan Jack (right) and Joe Aribo (left) on Saturday

Rangers could be without the injured Ryan Jack (right) and Joe Aribo (left) on Saturday 

‘It is what it is. We all have to get on with it and move forward. But I don’t listen to the noise around who’s the favourites and who’s not the favourites.

‘Normally, the team that gets the small details right and carries out their game plan best comes out victorious. I don’t think that is going to change tomorrow either.’

Smart managers always tend to curb the expectations of their more excitable fans. Gerrard is no different in that respect, yet he will understand the voluble consequences of defeat.

The intense emotions always prompted by Old Firm games have been ratcheted up to the max by Celtic’s pursuit of ten-in-a-row.

Stopping them will require more than derby success. Rangers need only look back to last season for confirmation of that. Even so, victory would frank a positive start that has earned Europa League group-stage qualification and eight wins from ten Premiership outings.

Rangers lead Celtic by a point in the league table, though the champions have a game in hand

Rangers lead Celtic by a point in the league table, though the champions have a game in hand

So far, that has been enough for a one-point lead in the standings. Celtic, though, hold a game in hand. For all the talk of Rangers being in more fluent form, the eight-match winning streak for Lennon’s men is longer than any assembled in Gerrard’s reign.

To break that sequence, the Ibrox side will likely have to summon a performance every bit as effective as the one produced in Glasgow’s east end ten months ago.

‘For myself and the players, we can certainly tap in to that experience but I don’t think it gives us any other advantage, really,’ said Gerrard, reflecting on the December 29 win.

‘It’s a different game, a new challenge. Celtic have strengthened again in a couple of windows since. Personnel can be different. Game plans can be different.

Rangers won the last Old Firm league game 2-1 on December 29 at a toxic Celtic Park

Rangers won the last Old Firm league game 2-1 on December 29 at a toxic Celtic Park

‘Listen, it’s going to be a tough game. I think the last one was the first time we had won there in a decade. I think that says how tough the fixture is. I think it was also the last time they lost domestically.

‘Celtic are in good form. I’m reading they are not in fantastic form and they have got this player missing or that player missing, but they are a good team and a good squad. Whatever 11 they put out will be a difficult challenge for us and we certainly respect the challenge we are going to face.

‘But in terms of how we feel now compared to when I first came in, I think we have a group of players who are better now. We have a group who have more confidence and more belief that they are capable of going to venues like this and getting the right result.’

Gerrard needs to sort his midfield out which could include Ryan Kent (L) and Glen Kamara (R)

Gerrard needs to sort his midfield out which could include Ryan Kent (L) and Glen Kamara (R)

There are dilemmas for Gerrard to ponder. Jack impressed against the Czech Republic on Wednesday night, but a midfield trio of Steven Davis, Glen Kamara and Scott Arfield looked perfectly balanced in the Scotland man’s absence.

Arfield could potentially be shifted one forward to help Ryan Kent support Morelos — but that would mean benching Ianis Hagi. While the Romanian playmaker is not always centrally involved in games, he has impressive capacity for a defence-splitting pass.

It is not, however, the players on the pitch who will make this a derby like no other. The absence of 60,000 fans ensures that distinction.

Gerrard claims he would rather take on Celtic at a full Parkhead rather than an empty one

Gerrard claims he would rather take on Celtic at a full Parkhead rather than an empty one

‘I’d much prefer there to be a full house and an atmosphere,’ added Gerrard. ‘It’s a big part of why I wanted to come up to Scotland — to experience the atmospheres and the challenges of both Old Firm capacities.

‘It will be unique, different and strange. I don’t think anyone wants to take part in an Old Firm, or watch an Old Firm, with an empty stadium. That’s not what the buzz of an Old Firm is all about. But it is what is. We all have to get on with it.

‘It won’t really affect the outcome of the game because both teams will be emptying everything they’ve got to try and get their team the right result. We’re no different.’

This post first appeared on dailymail.co.uk

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Man Utd ace Ighalo accuses Nigerian government of ‘killing your own citizens’ as Anthony Joshua vows to support ‘heroes’

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man utd ace ighalo accuses nigerian government of killing your own citizens as anthony joshua vows to support heroes

ODION IGHALO accused the Nigerian government of ‘killing your own citizens’ as he called for the world’s leaders to step in and help his homeland.

Heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua has also showed his support following reports that soldiers opened fire on protesters in Lagos.

Manchester United ace Odion Ighalo said he was 'ashamed' of the Nigerian government

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Manchester United ace Odion Ighalo said he was ‘ashamed’ of the Nigerian governmentCredit: Twitter @ighalojude
Anthony Joshua shared a heartfelt message with his 11.5million Instagram followers

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Anthony Joshua shared a heartfelt message with his 11.5million Instagram followersCredit: Instagram @anthonyjoshua

A number of people in Nigeria’s biggest city are taking part in a protest against police brutality.

Local media reports claimed up to 12 individuals had been killed.

Following United’s 2-1 win over Paris Saint-Germain in the Champions League, Ighalo addressed the issue in a video message.

He said: “I’m sad and I don’t know where to start from.

“I’m not the kind of guy who talks about politics – but I can’t keep quiet anymore about what is going on back home in Nigeria.

“I would say [to the] government are a shame to the world – for killing your own citizens, sending military to the streets to kill [unarmed] protesters because they are protesting for their rights. It’s uncalled for.

“Today, 20th of October 2020, you people will be remembered in the history as the first government to send military to the city to start killing your own citizens.

“I am ashamed of this government. I am tired of you guys. I can’t take this anymore.

“I’m calling the UK government, calling all those leaders in the world to please see what is going on in Nigeria and help us – help the poor citizens.

“The government are killing their own citizens. We are calling [the world’s governments], the United Nations, to see the matter.

“I want to tell my brothers and sisters back home to remain safe. Be indoors, please don’t come [outside].

“Because this government are killers and they will keep killing if the world does not talk about this. God bless you all. Remain safe. One Nigeria.”

Heavyweight champion Joshua has also insisted he is sending ‘care packages’ to Nigeria and plans to go there after his upcoming fight.

Speaking in an Instagram video message, AJ said: “This is a message to the people of Nigeria, even though I’m not there with you in the physical, we’ve been making some tangible efforts to try and support your protests on the ground.

“I know it’s getting to a stage where things are heating up and tensions are high, but in my prayers at night I’m praying for peace and positivity.

“I know the people on the ground are not trying to be heard for their own benefit, it’s in benefit of the next generation.

Thousands of people in Nigeria are protesting against police brutality

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Thousands of people in Nigeria are protesting against police brutality Credit: Reuters

“Me, myself, I’ve had to take time to understand the issues that the people in Nigeria are facing.”

Before he added: “Even though I’m in my training camp and we are in London, we can support you guys from a distance.

“On December 12 I am competing, but after that I am going to try and make some plans to come out to Nigeria and meet some of my friends and family and meet some of the people trying to make a long lasting change.

“But for sure, from London and far and wide, your voices are being heard so keep on pushing, keep on striving. You have my support through and through.”

The WBA, IBF, WBO, and IBO heavyweight champion moved with his mum to her African homeland as a child while she set-up a business.

A long list of celebrities have reached out in support of the people of Nigeria

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A long list of celebrities have reached out in support of the people of NigeriaCredit: AFP or licensors

Joshua, who will fight Kubrat Pulev in December 12, revealed how life in Nigeria helped him to toughen up.

Beyonce, Rihanna and Naomi Campbell are among the celebrities who have also backed the #EndSars movement.

The Nigerians are protesting against the Special Anti-Robbery Squad – known as Sars for short.

Tyson Fury tells Anthony Joshua to grow a pair and step up to fight

This post first appeared on thesun.co.uk

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Cristiano Ronaldo’s hairstyles through the years, from new shaved look to blond streaks, top knot and ‘toilet brush’

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cristiano ronaldos hairstyles through the years from new shaved look to blond streaks top knot and toilet brush

WHEN you’re one of the top sports stars on the planet, how you look is crucial to your commercial value.

Cristiano Ronaldo, 35, has sponsorships coming out of his eyeballs, and his ever-changing appearance is of vital importance to brands.

 Cristiano Ronaldo's latest look is this fully-shaved effort
Cristiano Ronaldo’s latest look is this fully-shaved effort
 Cristiano Ronaldo has experimented with his hairstyles through the years
Cristiano Ronaldo has experimented with his hairstyles through the yearsCredit: AFP or licensors
 Georgina Rodriguez braids Ronaldos hair
Georgina Rodriguez braids Ronaldos hairCredit: Instagram

Through the years, the Portuguese legend has experimented with his locks – from streaky highlights, frosted tips, to shaved lines.

Last season, he sported a top knot, and let partner Georgina Rodriguez braid his hair.

And now, he’s thrilled fans by showing off a brand-new look… fully shaving off his locks.

We take a look at CR7’s hairstyles through the years…

BOYISH CURLS

Ronaldo naturally has curly hair.

As a kid, his boyish curls were evident in various throwback photos he’s shared on social media through the years.

At that point, he hadn’t discovered the beauty of hair gel yet – so he sported more of a bouffant haircut.

Other times, he’d just have it shaved short…. a solid number three all over. Simple but effective.

 As a boy, Ronaldo had a curly mop of hair
As a boy, Ronaldo had a curly mop of hairCredit: Twitter
 As he got older Ronaldo began to shave his hair short
As he got older Ronaldo began to shave his hair shortCredit: Twitter

HELLO BLONDIE

When Ronaldo first arrived at Old Trafford, his curls were still evident in his first training session.

They were accompanied by blond streaks in his first Manchester United  photocall, but a ribbing from United team-mates forced him to change it up and go for something shorter.

The streaks remained, mind.

 When Ronaldo arrived at Old Trafford in 2003 he sported these blond streaks
When Ronaldo arrived at Old Trafford in 2003 he sported these blond streaksCredit: Getty – Contributor
 Ronaldo was ribbed by his team-mates at Man Utd for his haircut
Ronaldo was ribbed by his team-mates at Man Utd for his haircutCredit: Getty – Contributor

SHORT BACK AND SIDES

The trimmer came into play from 2004 onwards on Ronaldo’s locks.

At Euro 2004, the backs and sides were shaved short. On top, it was also a little shorter and the front flicked up to reveal frosted blond tips.

It was Ronaldo’s first ‘trendy’ hairstyle.

 In 2004 Ronaldo began experimenting with shorter styles
In 2004 Ronaldo began experimenting with shorter stylesCredit: AFP – Getty

MULLET

The longest we’ve seen Ronaldo’s hair was during the 2006-07 season, when he was coming into his own in the Premier League.

A throwback to the mullet, it was long at the back and spiky on top.

It was a hairstyle that didn’t last long though.

 Ronaldo sported a mullet once upon a time
Ronaldo sported a mullet once upon a timeCredit: Getty – Contributor

TOILET BRUSH

When Ronaldo signed for Real Madrid, he knew he had to keep reinventing himself being one of the best players in the world.

Again, short on the back and sides – the top was cut short so it spiked up – just like a toilet brush.

Blond frosted tips also matched his now ever-present tan.

Arguably, it wasn’t his best.

 As one of the world's best players Ronaldo had to continue to change his look
As one of the world’s best players Ronaldo had to continue to change his lookCredit: Getty – Contributor
 This hairstyle, however, was reminiscent of a toilet brush
This hairstyle, however, was reminiscent of a toilet brushCredit: Getty – Contributor

EMBRACING THE CURLS

In 2018, Ronaldo went back to basics.

With curls back in fashion, the ex-Sporting Lisbon forward embraced his luscious locks, growing them long and adding frosted blond tips all through it.

But he kept it short and sweet on the sides.

 In 2018 Ronaldo embraced his curls again
In 2018 Ronaldo embraced his curls againCredit: Getty – Contributor

SHAVED LINES

It must be a World Cup thing.

Because at the tournaments of 2014 and 2018, Ronaldo sported shaved lines in his hairdo.

First one was shaved into a thick main of hair, the second was etched into a shaved look.

It’s fair to say, the latter suited him better.

 In 2014 Ronaldo began sporting shaved lines in his locks
In 2014 Ronaldo began sporting shaved lines in his locksCredit: Getty – Contributor
 Ronaldo repeated the look for the 2018 World Cup but with a shorter cropped style
Ronaldo repeated the look for the 2018 World Cup but with a shorter cropped styleCredit: AP:Associated Press

JUVE GOT STYLE

Although Ronaldo’s only been with Italian giants Juventus since 2018, he’s managed a whole host of different hairstyles.

One, was slick, short and on top it was parted and glued down with wax.

Then he experimented with an Alice band pulling his longer locks off his face while he played.

And little did we know that he was growing it so he can have a top knot.

What’s your favourite Ronaldo hairstyle?

 A slick, waxy look kick-started Ronaldo's Juve career
A slick, waxy look kick-started Ronaldo’s Juve careerCredit: EPA
 An Alice band was used when he grew his hair longer
An Alice band was used when he grew his hair longerCredit: AFP or licensors
 Ronaldo's enjoyed a top knot for much of 2019-20
Ronaldo’s enjoyed a top knot for much of 2019-20Credit: Getty Images – Getty
 Ronaldo got out the trimmers for his latest hair-do, shaving it all off
Ronaldo got out the trimmers for his latest hair-do, shaving it all off

This post first appeared on thesun.co.uk

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Solskjaer sick of Greenwood’s attitude with Man Utd ace late for training TWICE before recent axe

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solskjaer sick of greenwoods attitude with man utd ace late for training twice before recent axe scaled

MASON GREENWOOD has infuriated Ole Gunnar Solskjaer after twice turning up late for training.

The Manchester United manager had already warned him about his conduct following his expulsion from the England squad last month.

Mason Greenwood needs to buck his ideas up if he is to get in Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's good books

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Mason Greenwood needs to buck his ideas up if he is to get in Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s good booksCredit: Getty Images – Getty

But the teenage star has now been axed from the last two United squads for the 4-1 win at Newcastle and midweek triumph over PSG.

Solskjaer has also grown sick of the striker’s general attitude so far this season.

His performance level has dropped significantly too not least in the 6-1 drubbing by Tottenham in United’s last home game at Old Trafford.



Solskjaer claimed ahead of the PSG game that it was not a disciplinary issue and that he was out the squad because he had a ‘niggle’.

The manager, however, refused to say what that ‘niggle’ was or when he got it.

Greenwood, 19, was also pictured swerving between posts during full training before the team flew out to Paris.

He now has some work to do to get back into Solskjaer’s good books.

It is unlikely he will start in the weekend’s home game against Chelsea given that United have produced two impressive performances without him.

SPORTS GRAPHIC EXPENSIVE SIGNINGS MANUTD v3
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has been left unimpressed with Greenwood's timekeeping

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Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has been left unimpressed with Greenwood’s timekeepingCredit: Getty Images – Getty

It was the start of last month that Greenwood was expelled from the England camp after his debut against Iceland.

He and Phil Foden invited two girls back to the team hotel after the game in Reykjavik breaking strict team and Covid protocols.

Southgate was understood to be furious and left both players out of the Three Lions squads the three most recent internationals.

Solskjaer tried to defend Greenwood at the time claiming that the player had needed a physical and mental rest and should not have been called up for international duty.

Mason Greenwood says, ‘If you’re good enough, you’re old enough’ to play for Man Utd

This post first appeared on thesun.co.uk

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