1 Christian Benteke Christian Benteke’s controversial first half goal proved the difference as Liverpool maintained their 100 per cent start to the season with a 1-0 win over Bournemouth.A desperately unlucky Cherries side were denied an opener when Tommy Elphick’s goal was disallowed, before Benteke scored despite Philippe Coutinho appearing to interfere with play from an offside position.Jordan Henderson went close from 20 yards before Coutinho wasted a fine opportunity as the half drew to a close.Matt Ritchie struck a post as the visitors pushed for an equaliser in a cagey second half, but, despite Benteke hitting the bar in injury time, the Reds clung on for their second unconvincing victory of the campaign.In the first ever league meeting between the sides, the Cherries began well and will feel aggrieved not to have gone ahead after referee Craig Pawson adjudged Elphick to have fouled Dejan Lovren before heading past Simon Mignolet.Bournemouth’s pace was unsettling the Liverpool backline and they will dispute the manner in which the Reds took the lead.Henderson’s inswinging cross was tapped in at the back post by Benteke, who had just flashed a shot narrowly wide, but not before Coutinho had made a movement towards the ball despite being several yards offside.The goal, aside from its element of controversy, then settled the home side and Henderson clipped the top of the crossbar with a fine dipping half volley.Coutinho squandered a great opening to double the lead just before the break, skewing wide when the ball fell kindly to the Brazilian ten yards out.After half time, Ritchie went about levelling proceedings and had a number of sightings before a a stringing drive clipped the outside of the post.Coutinho and Milner then went close for Liverpool but the Reds were hanging on after a labouring Henderson had to go off prematurely.While Bournemouth’s pressure was relentless they failed to muster a clear-cut opportunity to equalise, and Benteke perhaps should have doubled his tally for the night when he hit the bar from Clyne’s cross.
1 After Hurst claimed Bobby Charlton was a better player than the current England captain, the Drive team want to know your thoughts… Wayne Rooney
Stuart Pearce is backing Arsenal to end Bayern Munich’s winning run and rescue their Champions League campaign.The Gunners are in desperate need of a result against the German giants on Tuesday night after losing to Olympiakos and Dinamo Zagreb in their opening group stage games.Bayern head into the match on a sensational run of form, having won all 11 of their games this season, and are favourites to triumph at the Emirates.But Pearce believes Arsene Wenger’s side can upset the odds and go on to reach the last 16 of the competition.Speaking on the Colin Murray show, the ex-England defender said: “They have had a couple of stinking results, especially the Olympiakos at home one. But I have a sneaky suspicion they will still qualify.“The only thing that might count against them is the last game Bayern play away in Zagreb and, if Bayern are already through, they might just field a lesser side and not worry about the result.“But I think Arsenal will get something out of the game tonight and they will qualify for the last 16 of the Champions League.” read more
West Ham must be sick of the sight of Romelu Lukaku.The Everton striker extended his scoring run against the Hammers to seven games in a row – five of them in the Premier League – in Saturday’s 1-1 draw at Upton Park.The Belgian’s equaliser maintained his impressive goals/game ratio against the Irons, but he’s far from the only player in top flight history to thrive against a particular team.To qualify, the players must have faced the club in question at least five times in league games.Click the yellow arrow above, right, to see the top ten goals/game ratios against specific Premier League sides…*These are the top ten UNIQUE players – a few on our list have proven a menace against more than one team… 5=. Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink (for Chelsea v Tottenham): Goals per game ratio – 1.25 – Games played: 8, goals scored: 10 (NB: Hasselbaink also averages a goal a game against West Ham) 10. Thierry Henry (Arsenal v Portsmouth): Goals per game ratio against Pompey – 1.17 – Games played: 6, goals scored: 7 (NB: Henry also averaged a goal a game against Leeds and Birmingham) 10 7=. Mark Bright (for Sheffield Wednesday v Everton): Goals per game ratio – 1.2 – Games played: 5, goals scored: 6 10 7=. David Hirst (for Sheffield Wednesday v Southampton): Goals per game ratio – 1.2 – Games played: 5, goals scored: 6 2. Ian Wright (for Arsenal v Ipswich): Goals per game ratio against Ipswich – 1.60 – Games played: 5, goals scored: 8 10 5=. Sergio Aguero (for Manchester City v Newcastle/Tottenham): Goals per game ratio – 1.25 – Games played: 8, goals scored: 10 (NB: Aguero also averages a goal a game or better against Manchester United, QPR, Norwich and Stoke) 10 10 10 4. Alan Shearer (for Newcastle v Sheffield Wednesday): Goals per game ratio – 1.33 – Games played: 6 games, goals scored: 8 goals (NB: Shearer also averaged a goal a game or better against Nottingham Forest, West Ham, Leeds, Coventry, Everton, QPR and Tottenham) 3. Michael Owen (for Liverpool v Newcastle): Goals per game ratio – 1.44 – Games played: 9, goals scored: 13 10 10 1. Luis Suarez (for Liverpool v Norwich): Goals per game ratio against the Canaries – 2 – Games played: 6, goals scored: 12 (NB: Suarez also averaged a goal a game or better against Sunderland and Wigan too) 7=. Robin van Persie (for Arsenal v Stoke City) Goals per game ratio – 1.2 – Games played: 5, goals scored: 6 (NB: Van Persie also averaged a goal a game against Southampton and Charlton) 10 10 read more
Juventus are confident of beating Arsenal and Manchester United to the signing of Ilkay Gundogan.The Italian champions are struggling to retain their crown this season and currently sit fifth in the Serie A table.As a result, the club’s board have reportedly provided manager Massimiliano Allegri with a £50m war chest to spend in the January window.Juventus have a number of targets but, according to Tuttosport, they are desperate to secure Borussia Dortmund midfielder Gundogan.The Germany international has been heavily linked with both Arsenal and Manchester United in the past but they now face strong competition in their pursuits of the playmaker.Juventus are also keeping tabs on Monaco man Joao Moutinho and scouted him last weekend. 1 Ilkay Gundogan
Romelu Lukaku is a man in form.His goal, to earn Everton a 1-1 draw against Crystal Palace on Monday night, stretched his scoring run to six games which has yielded seven goals in that spell.It was also his 50th goal for the Toffees in his 100th appearance.Lukaku’s form begs the question – do Chelsea regret selling him given their struggles this season?Chelsea fans certainly think so… 1 Romelu Lukaku [View the story “Twitter LOVES Romelu Lukaku” on Storify]
1 Manchester United captain Wayne Rooney Manchester United captain Wayne Rooney has allegedly received a three-year deal, worth £75m, to join Chinese side Shanghai SIPG.The England international has been the subject of much frustration from Red Devils fans for his lack of influence on the pitch this season, with the signs suggesting his time in the Premier League could be reaching an unsavoury climax.And the latest speculation of interest from China has left a section of United supporters keen for the reports to become a reality.Have a read below of the reaction to the rumours on Rooney below.
Kevin Grosskreutz 1 Liverpool target Kevin Grosskreutz is on the brink of sealing a move to Stuttgart.Grosskreutz joined Galatasaray from Borussia Dortmund last summer but due to a breach of transfer rules the midfielder has been unable to play for the Turkish club.According to WAZ, Grosskreutz has handed in a transfer request as a result of the farce and is set to undergo a medical with Stuttgart this week.Liverpool were reportedly keen to land the German, who enjoyed a close relationship with Jurgen Klopp during the pair’s spell at Dortmund.Grosskreutz won two Bundesliga titles under Klopp at Dortmund but has reportedly turned down the chance to work under him again, instead preferring a move back to Germany.
Slaven Bilic insists West Ham United won’t be buying new players for the sake of it in this January transfer window.The Hammers are currently sixth in the Premier League table, with their fans dreaming of European football as they prepare to move to their new home at the Olympic Stadium in time for the start of next season.But Bilic is adamant he won’t waste money in a bid to safeguard that position.Speaking exclusively to talkSPORT, he said of this campaign, his first in charge of the Hammers: “So far, so good. We are only halfway through, but we are very confident. The main thing is to stay away from injuries and, if we do that, we have a really good team that can compete with any team in the league.“We have a good squad, a big squad, and [it’s] 99 per cent [certain] we will leave it like this and make our signings in the summer.“If something exceptional comes along, whether that’s a long-term deal for one great player, or a loan deal for a back-up player for six months, we will do it. But we won’t buy just because it’s the transfer window.” read more
Emmanuel Adebayor 1 Crystal Palace manager Alan Pardew has rubbished suggestions that signing Emmanuel Adebayor was a gamble, revealed the striker has signed a performance-based contract to inspire him to produce his best.The enigmatic former Arsenal, Manchester City, Real Madrid and Tottenham frontman joined the Eagles on Tuesday after five months without a club.The Togo international was a free agent following his release by Spurs.At his best, Adebayor has proved an unplayable force but those moments have been few and far between in recent years, and now has a reputation for being both lazy and problematic.His arrival caused concerns with fans that he may disrupt what has so far been a fine season for Palace and undermine their pursuit of European football.Pardew accepts the striker remains too short of match fitness to make an immediate impact, as he is likely to miss the FA Cup fourth round clash against Stoke on Saturday.But the boss is confident the Eagles can benefit the 31-year-old’s career as much as he can provide them with much-needed goals this term.“We’ve incentivised his contract to do that, in terms of him being a success,” said Pardew.“I see in him a desire to get his career back on track, and I think I can help him. I’m hoping that’s a win-win situation for him and for us.“You cannot underestimate the quality he has. I’ve tried to sign him twice before, once at West Ham, when I came that close, and at Newcastle we talked long and hard about him.“He’s a character that needs to be loved and the group I have…he’s going to get that.“For us it’s about bringing in a striker to give everyone a boost. We all felt sorry for ourselves, no [Yannick] Bolasie, Connor [Wickham] is now suspended, so it’s great for us.“You can see in the training ground there’s a lift already. He’s done the first part of his job because everybody is really pleased he’s here.“The only risk is if he doesn’t play well. I can’t see any other risk. I think we discard players quite quickly, and sometimes too early.“If you look at Harry Redknapp’s career, he was very good at regenerating some senior players who were supposedly at the end of their careers, and I’ve had a couple of situations like that: Teddy Sheringham springs to mind, who was playing in my Premier League team [at West Ham] at the age of 38.“You sometimes cannot get the kind of quality that Adebayor can bring. We’re very fortunate to have him, I make no bones about that. Our fans should be very optimistic, because I am.”Pardew also revealed he has also been in contact with former Tottenham boss Tim Sherwood regarding his success in managing Adebayor.“It’s important to understand the history, talk to people who have worked with him,” he said.“Particularly Tim Sherwood, who’s someone I know well, and I know from Tim that there’s certain things Adebayor works on, works with, and I’d be foolish to ignore them, so I’m going to try and help create an atmosphere here that gives him the best possible chance of success.“He didn’t need to come here, the financial deal for him to stay at home or to be here is probably exactly the same, so he’s putting himself up and that fills me with confidence.“I’ve had messages with Tim, via somebody else, but I probably will speak to Tim as I go along.“If I can get him anywhere near his best, it’ll be more than good enough for us.” read more