Rooney issues Mourinho backing

Former Manchester United striker Wayne Rooney has backed the club's manager Jose Mourinho and urged the players "to be better" to take the pressure off him.

The 32-year-old, who departed Old Trafford for Everton in 2017 as the club's all-time leading goalscorer, has been keeping tabs on the Red Devils from the United States where he now plies his trade with MLS outfit DC United.

And, with Mourinho coming under fire following United's worst start to a league season for 29 years, Rooney is adamant that the players should be stepping up to the mark to keep the Portuguese's critics at bay.

There was evidence of support from the dressing room on Saturday when the side fought back from two-down to beat Newcastle 3-2 and Rooney has called for more of the same.

The former England international said: "The players, the manager, it has been a tough start to the season.

"I know Jose is getting a load of stick but I said a few weeks ago, the players have to stand up."

"The manager can do so much but then it is down to the players on the pitch to produce and probably collectively," Rooney added in the Telegraph.

"It [the form] is a bit of everything coming together but Jose is an easy target. Some of the players have to be better."

United's face Mourinho's former club Chelsea after the international break on 20th October and they are 4/1 to win at Stamford Bridge. The Blues are 4/6 to pick up the three points and the draw is available at 11/4.

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Rafa retains survival belief

Manager Rafa Benitez is remaining calm about the position his Newcastle United team find themselves in in the Premier League standings.

The Magpies have garnered a mere two points from eight league games played so far this season and are still searching for a first victory of the campaign.

For us, the main thing is to keep working hard and doing the right things, even if you lose a game.

Rafa Benitez

However, having guided the Tynesiders away from danger last season, Benitez is not about to panic about the lowly placing of his side at the present time.

The Spaniard told the Northern Echo: "If you just analyse the situation now, we are in the bottom three, but Crystal Palace, Bournemouth and Everton were in the bottom three after nine fixtures (last season) and none of them were relegated.

"Why? Because they were better and working harder and doing well and other teams were doing worse. For us, the main thing is to keep working hard and doing the right things, even if you lose a game.

"We need to do the right things, but even if you are right, you can lose. The team is good and the team will do well if we have confidence.

"Some of the players were doing well at the end of last season, but they are not doing so well now.

"We will need some time to make sure they go back to that level. In the meantime we have played four of the top six. So was anyone expecting that now we would be in the middle of the table? No, no-one."

The Magpies are currently priced at 9/4 to be relegated this season, while they are available at 4/11 to beat the drop.

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Howe happy with Brooks progress

Bournemouth head coach Eddie Howe is delighted with the way summer signing David Brooks has adjusted to the challenge of Premier League football.

The 21-year-old Wales international midfielder has started seven league games so far this season for the Cherries, scoring against Crystal Palace and Watford in his last two outings.

And Howe is pleased how well the former Sheffield United schemer has adapted to life in the top-flight, while also warning that there can be no let-up by Brooks in the coming weeks and months.

He told the Daily Echo: "The biggest compliment I can give him is that he hasn't been fazed at all by the step up in league.

"He has trained as normal and when he has been given opportunities, he has had the same mentality. I've been really pleased and the future is very bright for him.

"I've seen a player who loves his football, is focused on his work and is not really about outside influences or anything other than the training and the games.

"(But) he can't get ahead of himself because we have got quality players waiting in the wings."

Bournemouth have made a fine start to the new league season, claiming 16 points from eight games to lie in sixth place in the standings heading into the international break.

They return to action on Saturday 20th October when they welcome South Coast rivals Southampton to Dean Court.

Bournemouth are currently priced at 10/11 to finish in the top half of the table, while they are 10/11 to end up in the bottom half.

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Lacazette cautious about Gunners

Arsenal striker Alexandre Lacazette says he and his colleagues need to continue to work hard to ensure that Gunners continue to make progress this season.

The Londoners lost their opening two games of the new Premier League season – to Manchester City and Chelsea – but have since embarked on a nine-match winning run in all competitions.

However, France international frontman Lacazette, who has five goals to his name already this term, has warned that it is far too soon to be thinking of what could be achieved by the end of the campaign.

He told reporters: "To talk about the top four is too early I think. We have to keep quiet and work like we did before and the season is going well. Just work as we did and we will see at the end of the season.

"The team spirit is good, of course when you win it is better. We will enjoy it, we are working well and we want to continue like this.

"We knew if we lost the first two games it wasn't the end of the world. We have worked and knew we could move forward, so everything is better now."

Following the international break, Arsenal return to action on Monday 22nd October, when they play host to Leicester City, with this fixture having ended 4-3 to the home side last season.

The Gunners, meanwhile, are priced at 6/4 to finish in the top four this season, with Tottenham Hotspur available at 4/6 and Manchester United 9/4.

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Real remain on Hazard’s mind

In-form Chelsea ace Eden Hazard has admitted that he could still tempted to leave Stamford Bridge and make a dream move to join Spanish giants Real Madrid.

The 27-year-old Belgium international forward is under contract with the Blues until the summer of 2020, having admitted straight after the World Cup finals that he is still keen on a future at the Santiago Bernabeu.

Hazard told reporters: "Real Madrid is the best club in the world. I don't want to lie today, it is my dream since I was a kid. I was dreaming about this club.

"We will see. I don't want to talk about this every day. I don't have time, but we will talk about my future soon.

"I want what's good for me, but I want what's good for the club because the club has given me everything.

"I don't want to say 'yes, I am signing a new contract' and then in the end I don't end up signing.

"Sometimes I wake up in the morning and think I want to go. Sometimes I think I want to stay. It is a hard decision, it is my future. I am 27 and I will turn 28 in January."

Hazard joined Chelsea from Lille in the summer of 2012 and has since scored 97 goals in 310 appearances in all competitions for the Londoners, helping them to two Premier League titles, as well as success in the FA Cup, the League Cup and the Europa League.

This season he has scored seven goals in eight Premier League appearances, including a hat-trick in a 4-1 victory over Cardiff City in mid-September.

Chelsea are available at 9/1 to be crowned Premier League champions this season, while they are 7/1 to lift the FA Cup and 5/1 to triumph in the Europa League.

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Hareide raises Eriksen concerns

Denmark head coach Age Hareide has flagged up concerns that Tottenham midfielder Christian Eriksen could be struggling with a 'chronic' stomach injury.

The 26-year-old playmaker has missed the last four games played by Spurs, despite club boss Mauricio Pochettino being upbeat about the problem not being anything more than a short-term issue.

However, Hareide has suggested that the issue could turn out to be something more serious, having ruled out having Eriksen available for the upcoming clashes with the Republic of Ireland and Austria.

He told Denmark's Canal 9: "Christian has an issue with an abdominal muscle and Tottenham have tried to say it's a long-term problem.

"It's been over a week and I know he's known about this problem for a while. Such an injury can become chronic and I think that's what Tottenham are fearing as well.

"Hopefully that won't happen with Christian."

Meanwhile, Pochettino has dismissed suggestions that his club are under pressure to take the next step in their development by winning a major trophy in the near future.

The Argentinian told the Evening Standard: "People talk too much about Tottenham. Tottenham must win titles to improve, but that's not true.

"We can win a title, but it's not compulsory to win a title, that's the difference. Compulsory to the team that have spent a lot of money, but it's not the case for us."

Tottenham are available at 4/6 to finish in the top four in the Premier League this season, while they are 8/1 to lift the FA Cup for the ninth time in their history.

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Hodgson bemoans Palace misfortune

Crystal Palace boss Roy Hodgson says his team are playing better than their current points tally suggests following another home loss to Wolves.

The Eagles' struggles at Selhurst Park continued on Saturday as Matt Doherty's second half strike was enough to see the visitors walk away with all three points.

Palace are now just the fourth side in 119 years of top flight football to fail to score at home in their first four matches of a season and they once again find themselves dangerously close to the relegation zone.

Having made a slow start to the 2017/18 campaign, losing seven on the bounce before Hodgson arrived to pull them from the mire, the ex-England boss admits he's frustrated they have not been able to hit the ground running this term.

Having lost five of their first eight matches and given their struggles in front of goal, Hodgson says he can't just wave a magic wand to fix all his team's problems.

However, the experienced boss remain convinced Palace's quality will eventually shine through and is refusing to panic.

"We can't pretend we have scored lots of goals in the games leading up to this and we are flying towards the top of the table, because we aren't," he said.

"But I still believe that the quality of the football belies the lack of points and lack of goals, but until we score those goals, win those games and get those points, every press conference and interview I do will be really geared to the same thing – you're not scoring enough goals and how do you win games if you don't.

"I thought there were two or three good opportunities in the second half but we weren't able to take them and as a result we lost the game."

The south London outfit face a testing fun of fixtures after the international break with games against Everton, Arsenal, Chelsea, Tottenham and Manchester United all to come and they are 6/1 to be relegated come the end of the season.

Palace head to Merseyside first after the two-week break and are 3/1 to come away with the win, while Everton are 10/11 and the draw is 5/2.

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Firmino ‘dreams big’ under Klopp

Roberto Firmino makes no secret of the fact Liverpool are "dreaming big" this season, though he warns they must "stay grounded" to achieve their aims.

The Reds host Premier League champions Manchester City at Anfield on Sunday afternoon, with the pair unbeaten and locked together on 19 points after seven games, Pep Guardiola's side enjoying top billing only on goal difference.

Liverpool are unbeaten in 17 home matches against Manchester City in all competitions. They ended City's unbeaten Premier League run with a 4-3 win in January and blew their visitors away during a 3-0 Champions League success in the spring.

Klopp's side are also unbeaten in 24 Premier League home matches and Firmino, 13/8 to score against Man City on Sunday, says they have big aspirations this season.

"We've been doing well, we made a good start under him and we're dreaming big. We want to keep working hard and win trophies," said the Brazilian forward.

"We've only been working together for three years, but it seems like it's been longer.

"I've been learning a lot from Klopp ever since he came in. He's brought everything together and got that across to the team. We're doing that well now."

Liverpool are 6/4 to win at Anfield, with City 15/8 to end their 15-year winless streak at the Merseyside ground and the draw priced at 13/5.

Firmino described the atmosphere during the January win over City as 'incredible', though he knows Liverpool must try and manage their ambitions properly, particularly at this early stage of the season.

"The adrenaline, combined with the atmosphere on the pitch during such special games, is always incredible," the forward added.

"The club is always aiming to win trophies and competitions. We've made a very good start, but we have to stay grounded, because the season has only just started.

"We're taking it step by step, trying to play well and win games. We're just looking ahead and will see where that takes us."

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Cesc ‘revitalised’ under Sarri

Cesc Fabregas wishes he had played for Chelsea head coach Maurizio Sarri earlier in his career, with the experienced midfielder suggesting he feels "revitalised" this season.

The 31-year-old Spain international has played under some of the biggest managerial names of his generation – Arsene Wenger, Pep Guardiola, Jose Mourinho and Antonio Conte amongst them – but he insists he is massively impressed by former Napoli boss Sarri.

This despite the fact Fabregas is yet to play in the Premier League this season, though he was a starter in Thursday's 1-0 Europa League win over Hungarian champions Vidi at Stamford Bridge.

Whether he retains his place for Sunday's trip to St Mary's to face Southampton remain to be seen, with the likes of Eden Hazard, Jorginho, Willian and N'Golo Kante vying for midfield berths, but Fabregas is enjoying life under his new boss.

"I feel sensations under Sarri that I never thought I would feel again," said Fabregas.

"I wish he came a bit earlier to be honest. It's a little bit late now in my career. Definitely I'm very happy with him."

Sarri could become just the sixth manager to remain unbeaten in his first eight Premier League games if the Blues avoid defeat against Southampton.

Saints have managed only one win in 14 home games at St Mary's in the league while they have lost their last six matches against Chelsea in all competitions.

Chelsea are 8/13 to win on Sunday, with the home side 5/1 and the draw 31/10.

Fabregas meanwhile hopes to flourish under Sarri's watch for the immediate future, revealing that he enjoys being a pivotal figure in midfield in the Italian's preferred style of play.

"Everything goes through me. This is what I like. Touching the ball 100 times, all the play going through me or Jorginho is a very important role for him. I'm learning it. I'm very passionate about it as it's very interesting," he added.

"The way he sees football is something that maybe in the future if I become a coach I think I'll do something very similar. It's what I like and how I see football.

"I'm really looking forward to working for a long time with him."

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Liverpool look for big response

Liverpool defender Trent Alexander-Arnold says he and his team-mates have an opportunity to bounce back when they take on Manchester City at Anfield on Sunday.

The 19-year-old England international was part of the Reds team who were beaten 1-0 in the Champions League at Napoli in midweek, with the Merseysiders now without a win in their last three games in all competitions.

However, an opportunity to take on the reigning Premier League champions is one which Alexander-Arnold believes will help his side re-focus as they bid tog et back on track.

He told his club's official website: "I think the best teams bounce back from a defeat and that's what we'll be looking to do.

"There was a bump in the road on Wednesday, but we've got to keep trying to push forward and gather as many points as we can.

"We know Sunday is going to be difficult against a top team and the current champions, so we'll have a lot of work to do, but we're all looking forward to the game.

"You want the games to come thick and fast, especially when you're disappointed by one – you want another one to come straight away.

"I don't think there is a better opportunity than to go and put in a performance against Manchester City."

Liverpool have won their last six home games against the Citizens in all competitions and are 31/20 to make it seven on Sunday.

The draw is priced at 13/5, with a 2-1 victory for the Merseysiders available at 10/1.

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