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West Ham run-in: Can David Moyes make history in the Europa League?

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he term “business end of the season” gets bandied about often but rarely has it been so true for West Ham.

While their Premier League form has tailed off somewhat, the Europa League offers a chance of glory.

Jack Rosser looks at what lies ahead in the run-in…

What shape is the squad in after the international break?

Things are looking better for West Ham following the break. There were fears that Jarrod Bowen may not be fit to face Lyon next week by David Moyes is sounding more confident around his fitness by the day, while Vladimir Coufal is also close to making his return.

Angelo Ogbonna has been a long-term absentee but the Italian is hopeful of making a surprise return before the end of the season, while Michail Antonio has been much more robust and largely avoided injury this season.

What is the club aiming for from the rest of the season?

History, frankly. West Ham’s continued progression under Moyes has been impressive and they are fighting for consecutive finishes in the European spots, but the real hope lies in the Europa League.

The Hammers are into a first quarter-finals since 1981 and they are not shy about pushing to win a first continental trophy since 1965. It is a tall order, but one Moyes is seriously pushing for.

And the minimum requirement?

To prevent any vitriol from the fan base over a lack of investment in the squad in January, finishing in the European spots is somewhat of a must.

West Ham have slipped out of the race for the top four, something that was slightly skewed by the postponement of games, but can still put up quite the fight for the top six with some of their rivals for those spots still to play one another.

Staying in Europe can change West Ham for the long term.

What are the factors that will settle the campaign?

Fitness will be key given the relative size of West Ham’s squad but also their evolving mentality. Moyes has moved his side away from their “flaky” and inconsistent past and is now talking of them stepping up to the big stage and feeling comfortable there.

Sevilla at the London Stadium was a night of huge emotion, but the Hammers squad – not used to these occasions so regularly – must learn to take them in their stride. With so few games left in the Premier League and at least two but potentially four of them following European games there can be no case of it being after the Lord Mayor’s show if they are to fight on all fronts.

What’s the mood in the camp?

It is mainly excitement now. The Hammers went into the break off the back of a disappointing defeat to Tottenham, but some time off to recover and with memories of that victory over Sevilla still fresh in their minds the Hammers are itching to get going and get into some huge occasions once again.

Who’s got something to prove?

Said Benrahma has been inconsistent this season. The Algerian started well and then fell off a cliff before stepping up once more before the March international break.

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With such a small squad and fine margins to come over the next six weeks, Moyes needs everyone to be fit and firing when it counts. European football has been a more comfortable stage for Benrahma and he could become key in the ties against Lyon.

Remaining fixtures:

Everton (H)

Lyon (H)

Brentford (A)

Lyon (A)

Burnley (H)

Chelsea (A)

Arsenal (H)

Norwich (A)

Machester City (H)

Brighton (A)

Prediction:

6th, Europa League semi-final



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Chelsea FC: Brilliant Badiashile leading way for new signings as Thiago Silva partnership blossoms

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helsea have not conceded a goal in the first 270 minutes that Benoit Badiashile has been on the pitch since his £35million move from Monaco.

His promising early form at Stamford Bridge, Chelsea will hope, hint at better times to come through their new signings.

The arrival of French centre-back Badiashile at the start of last month kick-started a record January spending spree of more than £300m.

After Chelsea were sent spiralling into crisis with defeats by Manchester City and Fulham, Badiashile made his debut in a 1-0 win over Crystal Palace.

After the Blues claimed a further two clean sheets in 0-0 draws away at Liverpool and at home to Fulham, he is building an impressive partnership with Thiago Silva.

Impressive start: Benoit Badiashile has formed a promising partnership with Thiago Silva

/ Getty Images

Badiashile was one of five new signings to feature in Friday’s 0-0 draw with Fulham. He started alongside £106.8m Enzo Fernandez, who started well but faded over 90 minutes, £89.5m Mykhailo Mudryk, who struggled over 45 minutes while carrying a cold, and £30m Noni Madueke, who was bright after being brought on at half-time.

“What a waste of money” was the regular chant from the Fulham fans in the away end.

That felt harsh in Badiashile’s case. With his size and speed, he looks like a perfect partner for 38-year-old veteran Silva.

In addition, he showed the ability to play brilliantly out of Fulham’s well-drilled press and he coped in his duels against Aleksandar Mitrovic.

There is still adaption to be done, as Graham Potter barked instructions about his positioning in relation to Silva.

However, using French to communicate with the former Paris Saint-Germain captain, Badiashile has helped steady the ship in the absence of the injured Wesley Fofana, and with Kalidou Koulibaly out of form.

While still only averaging just 1.05 goals per game in the Premier League, Chelsea will draw more than they win unless their new midfielders and forwards step up.

Arriving in the weeks after Badiashile, the likes of Fernandez, Joao Felix, Mudryk and Madueke have not had as much time to adapt to their surroundings.

With Chelsea still in 10th place and increasingly falling behind in the race to qualify for Europe, they must follow Badiashile’s lead and hit the ground running before time runs out.



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Reporter’s notebook: Jesse Marsch’s Leeds side showed encouraging signs at times but lack of points cost him his job | Football News

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Jesse Marsch was approaching his one-year anniversary as Leeds United head coach before the decision was taken on Monday to relieve him of his duties.

The defeat to Nottingham Forest a day earlier had been the final straw for the Leeds board, who were all aligned in the view that a change was necessary after almost three months without a Premier League win.

The recent statistics paint a grim picture for Leeds. Seven Premier League games without a win and just two wins in the last 17 league games. And against Forest, although they dominated in the first half and created the better chances, a worrying pattern had started to develop which had become a huge concern for fans. Leeds were producing performances with lots of positives, but not enough points.

There is little doubt that a large proportion of the fan base had lost patience with Marsch, and they made their frustrations clear at the full-time whistle on Sunday with calls for a change of head coach.

What is very evident is that Leeds have not kicked on this season. At times there have been really promising signs, but the fans and the board at Leeds wanted more. Marsch will feel that with time he could have delivered more, but he was also realistic enough to know that he was walking a tightrope.

I got to know Jesse well during his 12 months at Elland Road and it was abundantly clear he cared passionately about the club. He understood what it meant to be head coach of Leeds United and what the club meant to the city and the fans. And he has to be given great credit for keeping Leeds in the Premier League last season.

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FREE TO WATCH: Highlights from the Premier League match between Nottingham Forest and Leeds.

Although it hasn’t worked out for Marsch this season, there is a strong argument to suggest that the next Leeds boss will be in a great position to move the club forward.

Patrick Bamford and Luis Sinisterra are now fit, and the January additions should make the starting line-up stronger. The club has also invested heavily in young players and one of those, Willy Gnonto, has emerged as one of the shining lights of the season.

Those factors have created an expectation that Leeds are better than their current league position, and that means a reluctance to accept another season fighting to avoid the drop. It also means that there are reasons to be optimistic about the future.

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Former Leeds United goalkeeper Paul Robinson believes sacking Jesse Marsch was the right decision as he was given enough time at the club.

The process of finding a replacement for Marsch is already underway and Leeds hope to make a swift appointment. A move for Marcelo Bielsa is highly unlikely, but West Brom boss Carlos Corberan, who worked under Bielsa, is a candidate, while Ange Postecoglou at Celtic has also been linked.

It is also worth noting Leeds have a track record of leftfield appointments, so as they work through their list of targets, there is a good chance that a candidate emerges that could surprise everybody.

In the meantime, Michael Skubala, Paco Gallardo and Chris Armas will take training at Thorp Arch, and will be in the dugout for Wednesday’s Premier League fixture against Manchester United at Old Trafford.

Leeds’ next Premier League fixtures

February 8: Manchester United (A) – kick-off 8pm

February 12: Manchester United (H) – kick-off 2pm, live on Sky Sports

February 18: Everton (A) – kick-off 3pm

February 25: Southampton (H) – kick-off 3pm

March 4: Chelsea (A) – kick-off 3pm

March 11: Brighton (H) – kick-off 3pm

March 18: Wolves (A) – kick-off 3pm



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Tom Brady in his underwear is taking over Twitter

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Um .. oh.

Um .. oh.
Screenshot: Twitter: Tom Brady

It’s Super Bowl week, and if you thought Tom Brady was going to let this week go by without being all up in your timeline…well. Just a week after announcing he’s retiring from football (you’ll never convince me he didn’t play an extra year just to stick it to Adam Schefter), Tom Brady has dropped his first thirst trap on Twitter. Or, attempted thirst trap. Actually, IS this a thirst trap?

As will many things Tom Brady, the attempt to be cool and edgy just winds up being sterile, boring, and kinda sad. A beige man in a beige room in beige underwear with a “pleass clap” look on his face.

And because OF COURSE:

Yes, Tom. We all knew the plug as coming. I’m not sure what color “heather crimson” is supposed to be, but I believe this is what we used to call “puce,” which… meh. The fact that there is something called the “Brady Boxer Brief” is enough to make me want to stick my head in the oven, because you know there are guys in New England burning up the internet right now to wear the same undies as their hero. And even more so because no amount of refusing to mask during COVID, vouching for Antonio Brown, stumping for Donald Trump, or getting a PPP loan during a nationwide pandemic is enough to get people to stop buying what this guy is selling. He’s even gotten to Jane Fonda, for crying out loud.

Of course, this entire thing was set up by Brady’s own brand:

So…whatever. It’s Super Bowl week and everyone is talking about Tom Brady, which is exactly how he wants it to be.



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