Glory furious at Williams talk

Perth Glory are determined to hold onto defender Rhys Williams and not lose him to an approach from Sydney FC that they regard as disrespectful.

The 28-year-old is wanted by the league leaders, and Perth have done little to help that situation by leaving him out of the last three games.

Williams is entitled to talk to other clubs under A-League rules, as his marquee contract expires at the end of this season.

But the club's CEO Peter Filopoulos has made it clear the Glory are furious with Sydney FC's pursuit of their defender.

Sky Blues coach Graham Arnold said with the transfer window opening, they would be looking at Williams as he was a "top-quality player".

Filopoulos, though, insists that as Williams is contracted to his team Arnold shouldn't be discussing interest in him.

He says there is a clause in the defender's contract that could see him stay with the Glory for another season.

"It's disrespectful and damaging to our football club," said Filopoulos of Arnold's comments. "We are a proud club with over 20 years history and we will not accept this intolerable behavior by a rival club."

Williams, who joined after spending nine years with Middlesbrough, has also been linked with a transfer-window move to Asia.

The 14-cap Socceroo has only started seven of Perth's 13 A-League games this season. He doesn't have the best of disciplinary records since returning to Australia, having picked up six yellow cards.

Perth are hoping to ward off any further interest in their players as they look to recapture some form in the league. They haven't won in six games, picking up just three points in that time.

Perth are 10/1 to win the Grand Final.

The Glory are 10/11 to win their next game against Wellington, who are 14/5 with the draw 14/5.

Roar bid to shake off Sky Blues loss

Matt McKay says Brisbane Roar are chomping at the bit to start another unbeaten sequence, after going down to Sydney FC last time out.

The Roar had put together a 10-game unbeaten run before losing 2-0 to the Sky Blues, but a return to Suncorp Stadium will have them in confident mood to take on Newcastle on Saturday.

John Aloisi's side have an excellent home record this season, with three wins and three draws, and have only conceded four goals in their six games in front of their own fans.

As well as the incentive of bouncing back following their loss to the league leaders, Brisbane will want revenge for a 4-0 defeat to the Jets in round 2.

Sydney FC's record-breaking run of 13 unbeaten games from the start of the season has given them a big advantage in the race for the Premier's Plate.

Brisbane, though, are one of three teams who would regard themselves as having a legitimate chance of hauling in the Sky Blues over the second half of the season.

They are currently 12 points behind Graham Arnold's side, and McKay admits their defeat to them on Friday was a disappointment.

"There were key moments that cost us and then we couldn't break them down," he said. "The beautiful thing about football is that there's a game every week so we can show everyone what we're about on Saturday."

McKay says the Roar have come a long way since they crashed to the Jets at McDonald Jones Stadium in October.

"I think we can show that this weekend," he added. "We haven't been at our best in some games but have managed to get results; we're full strength and have a number of players in form."

Brisbane, who have gone 13 games unbeaten at Suncorp Stadium, will take on a Jets side who are just outside the top six.

"We love playing at Suncorp Stadium. If we can focus on our performance and do the right things then we'll be hard to stop at home," said McKay.

Brisbane are 9/1 to win the Grand Final.

The Roar are 7/10 to beat Newcastle, who are 17/4 with the draw 13/10.

Toure expects fight from City

Midfielder Yaya Toure says he and his Manchester City team-mates are determined to fight all the way to try and win the Premier League title this season.

The Citizens, 4500/1 to be crowned champion, trail league leaders Chelsea by seven points ahead of the action on Wednesday evening, with the men from Manchester having lost three of their last seven league games.

And Toure accepts that further slip-ups in the second half of the season must be avoided if a title challenge is to be maintained, although he has confidence that City have got what it takes to overhaul their rivals.

Toure, who also rejected talk of a possible City exit before the transfer window slams shut at the end of the month, said: "Chelsea are in a good way, but we are going to fight until the end, make it difficult.

"At the moment, we are in not (in our best form), but we have to be able to deliver.

"City have always been a team who fight to the end to win a trophy and at the moment we are not happy with the position in the league.

"We are starting the second half of the season now and I think we will have to be almost perfect. We'll have to win all the games when we play the top four."

The next challenge on the agenda for Toure and City is a Friday night trip to the London Stadium to take on West Ham in an FA Cup third round tie.

The league meeting of the two sides at the Etihad Stadium in late August ended in a 3-1 win for the hosts, with Raheem Sterling scoring twice for the Citizens.

City are available at 4/7 to win in 90 minutes on Friday and are 17/2 to claim a 2-1 victory, with Toure and co. 8/1 to go all the way and win the FA Cup this season.

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Clement helps Swans to victory

New Swansea City boss Paul Clement made his mark as his side climbed off the foot of the Premier League table with a 2-1 victory at Crystal Palace.

A late Angel Rangel strike gave the Swans only their fourth win of the league season and lifted spirits in the Swans camp on the same day that Clement was confirmed in his new role.

And, while caretaker boss Alan Curtis was in charge at Selhurst Park, he was quick to talk up the influence of Clement, who made a contribution from his position in the stands.

Curtis said: "Paul came down, he made a real positive contribution.

"Met him the first time this afternoon – he came into the dressing room to talk to the players prior to the game and also came down at half-time, then right at the end there, was involved in the substitutes as well.

"He came down, he took an active part in it, he took it from the off. He made a real positive contribution.

"That's why he took the job (because he believes he can survive). He said he had the security of a fantastic job at Bayern Munich, some of the world's top players, top of the league, Champions League, but he wanted the challenge.

"He probably would have been surprised himself about how well we played, but we've got to take it on from here now."

Following their win, which moved them to within a point of 17th-placed Palace, Swansea are 25/1 to be relegated this season, with the Eagles priced at 16/1 and Middlesbrough available at 1/2000.

The Swans are in FA Cup third round action on Saturday, when they head to Humberside to take on Premier League table-proppers Hull City.

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Wenger praises Gunners strength

Arsene Wenger praised the mental strength of his Arsenal side after they fought back from three goals down to claim a 3-3 draw away to Bournemouth.

The Gunners looked set for a damaging defeat when they trailed 3-0 with 20 minutes to play on the south coast, but goals from Alexis Sanchez and Lucas Perez gave them hope, before Olivier Giroud headed in a last-minute equaliser.

And, while the result leaves Arsenal with even more ground to make up in the Premier League title race, Wenger saw reasons to be positive after a tough night against the Cherries.

He told reporters: "It was a physical and mental test – they started much faster, but we showed we are mentally strong.

"At 3-0 down after 70 minutes you'd take a point, but in the end we were frustrated not to win the game.

"We wanted to win the game and we wanted three points, but on the other hand some big teams have dropped points here.

"When you are 3-0 down you have to acknowledge the quality of the response of your team."

The result leaves the Gunners eight points adrift of league leaders Chelsea, who are in action on Wednesday evening when they make the short trip to White Hart Lane to take on Tottenham.

Arsenal are back in action at teatime on Saturday when they head to Preston North End for an FA Cup third round tie.

The Londoners are 4/11 to win in 90 minutes at Deepdale, are 13/2 to claim a 2-0 victory and can be backed at 9/4 to lift the FA Cup this season.

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Gestede close to Villa exit

Aston Villa manager Steve Bruce has revealed that he is close to signing a new player while Rudy Gestede is on the verge of moving to Middlesbrough.

However, the former Hull City boss is unwilling to bring too many new players to Villa Park in January as there have been so many changes at the club in the last 18 months.

He said after Monday's defeat at Cardiff City, which left Villa 12th in the Championship table and 4500/1 to be promoted this season: "There is one deal we hope is imminent but that is it as far as we are aware.

"I am not just going to bring people to the club unless they can improve us.

"We have had nine [new players] arrive last summer, 13 the summer before that. I am here to bring stability and I will try my utmost to get that but people know managers do not get time."

Meanwhile, Benin international Gestede joined Villa from Blackburn in July 2015 and has scored ten goals in 55 appearances for the club. However, the 28-year-old has started only three games since Bruce was appointed manager in October.

"I would envisage something would happen there," Bruce added. "The two clubs have agreed a fee and he's up there for talks."

Villa can be backed at 10/1 to beat Tottenham in the FA Cup this weekend and at 50/1 to win the third-round encounter 2-0.

Popovic angered by Glory goal

Western Sydney coach Tony Popovic was furious with match officials for failing to disallow Perth Glory's goal in their 1-1 draw on New Year's Day.

There was no more than a hint of offside in Adam Taggart's 14th-minute goal as he opened the scoring at ANZ Stadium with a composed finish.

But Popovic felt the striker was so close to the assistant referee that the call should not have been missed, even though replays failed to show anything more than a part of Taggart's body being slightly ahead of the last Wanderers defender.

Jerrad Tyson was beaten by the former Newcastle Jets striker inside his near post, but Popovic wasn't blaming his keeper as he felt Taggart should never have been allowed the chance.

The Wanderers coach said he was "baffled" about the goal, which ultimately cost his side two points.

"How the linesman can give that five metres in front of him, he's clearly offside and those things can cost you," he added. "So then Perth gets what they want, they get to sit back and hold on to something and they made it difficult in the first half."

"It's offside, clearly. We shouldn't even be talking about the mistake, it's offside, you can't miss that."

Glory coach Kenny Lowe conceded former Golden Boot winner Taggart may have been fractionally offside.

"Maybe technically is it offside if half your body is in front of the other guy? Maybe so," he said. "There was no gap or whatever and the linesman has to make it in a split-second decision. If it's off, it's off, but we'll take it."

Popovic also said he had not yet signed former Socceroo Eli Babalj, who is a free agent after being released by Dutch side AZ.

But the striker has been brought in on a trial and Wanderers will assess him in training before deciding whether to offer him a deal.

Western Sydney are 18/1 to win the Grand Final, while Wanderers are 29/10 to win their next game against Melbourne City, with the draw 3/1.

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Defensive blows hurt Juve

Juventus have suffered a double injury blow, with key defenders Leonardo Bonucci and Dani Alves both facing significant spells on the sidelines.

The duo were injured during the 3-1 weekend defeat at Genoa, with Italy centre-back Bonucci expected to be out of action for between 6-8 weeks due to a thigh problem.

The exact nature of Brazilian wing-back Alves' problem has yet to be determined, but Juve have confirmed that he has sustained a fracture to his left fibula.

A short statement from the club read: "Further medical examinations on Leonardo Bonucci have revealed the full extent of the injury which prematurely forced the defender from the field against Genoa on Sunday.

"Tests confirmed he is set to be on the sidelines for between 45 and 60 days after straining the biceps femoris muscle in his left thigh.

"Further details on Dani Alves, meanwhile, will arrive in the coming days – yesterday's initial prognosis established that the Brazilian had fractured his left fibula."

Despite their loss in Genoa on Sunday, Juve are still four points clear of the chasing pack in Serie A, with the Turin giants chasing a sixth consecutive Italian league title.

Roma and AC Milan are their closest rivals as things stand, with Lazio and Atalanta five points adrift of top spot.

Juve are available at 1/40 to win Lo Scudetto, with Milan priced at 4500/1 and Roma 16/1.

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Parkhouse rewarded with Phoenix extension

Wellington Phoenix didn't need to wait for the appointment of a new coach to hand striker Adam Parkhouse a new deal.

A day before his 23rd birthday, the A-League side have confirmed the Australian has inked a two-year contract extension.

He's quickly impressed the club, having only joined in August on an initial one-year deal.

Parkhouse, who had experience at the start of his career in the English non-league system – he played for Skelmersdale United, Stalybridge Celtic and Witton Albion – has done well in an unfamiliar position this season.

He's primarily a left-winger, but has been playing in defence after an injury to left-back Tom Doyle.

The contract the Phoenix originally gave him was for one season, but had a clause that would have triggered an extension if he played 15 games.

The former Manly United player has only played four games so far but has done well enough that the club have already re-signed until the end of 2018-19.

"It has all happened so quickly," he said. "Now I have two extra years to cement a place in the team."

Parkhouse wouldn't have expected any decision to be made at the moment, as Wellington are without a permanent coach following Ernie Merrick's resignation.

He's determined to keep impressing interim co-coaches Chris Greenacre and Des Buckingham and push his case for a place in attack.

Parkhouse said: "These first few games, albeit in an unfamiliar position, have given me a chance to get used to the A-League and hopefully I will continue to get games."

Wellington are 12121/1 to win the Grand Final.

The Phoenix are 17/10 to win their next game against Western Sydney, who are 6/4 with the draw 13/5.

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Popovic tight-lipped on Bulut

Youngster Lachlan Scott is continuing to push for a place in the Western Sydney side as Kerem Bulut's future remains up in the air.

Wanderers haven't been as effective up front this season as they'd hoped, and are still searching for their best combination.

While 19-year-old Scott has only started once so far, his chances of being in the matchday squad have increased with Bulut appearing to have fallen out of favour.

Bulut was left out for the second consecutive week when they went down 3-0 to Melbourne Victory last weekend, and has already been dropped four times in the opening 10 rounds.

Coach Tony Popovic is refusing to speak about the 24-year-old's situation, which is only adding fuel to speculation Bulut's days at the club could be numbered.

Scott's featured in four games so far this season, and Popovic has been impressed with the Australia U-20 international's physicality.

He's vying with veteran Brendon Santalab for a starting place in Saturday's clash with Wellington Phoenix.

Santalab failed to finish training on Tuesday as he manages a calf problem, though Wanderers are confident he will be fit for the Mt Smart Stadium match.

Western Sydney are 6/4 to beat the Phoenix, who are 17/10 with the draw 13/5.

Scott, who signed a two-year contract extension last month, is happy with the way things are going.

"I didn't think I'd get this many games at the start of the year, but that's the way things have gone so I'll keep putting in an effort and hopefully keep getting selected," he said.

"But if Kerem was to come back in, and I was to go out, nothing would change. I'd still be training 100 per cent because I know if I have a good week training I'll be back in – that's the way it is with Popa."

Western Sydney are 18/1 to win the Grand Final.

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