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A SIDEWAYS GLANCE: Why Tottenham’s dramatic win over Leicester showed biased club commentary is something Premier League fans must cherish amid football’s digital revolution

  • Many fans feel mainstream commentators are biased against their teams
  • Club-centric commentary feeds are often openly and unashamedly biased
  • But fans like them as commentators share the same feelings as the supporters
  • Rob Daly of Spurs TV went viral for his commentary on Spurs win on Wednesday
  • Steven Bergwijn scored twice in added time as Tottenham beat Leicester 3-2


Football’s digital revolution has left its top clubs disfigured. Where once sporting bodies stood, now sprawling businesses tower all around.

And let’s be frank: plenty of that swollen footprint belongs in the bin: the extravagant transfer ‘reveals’. The odd capitalisation of ‘The’ and ‘Club’ as if press releases must offer due deference to a departing deity. 

Most importantly, though, the collective amnesia that football is, essentially, fun.

Fortunately some nooks of sanity remain.

Tottenham substitute Steven Bergwijn scored two stoppage-time goals to seal 3-2 victory

And fortunately this internet age allows us to enjoy them in high-definition.

Club commentary. At its best, can anything match the wild emotion? Where else could total disregard for neutrality and professional dignity be considered a selling point?

This week provided another example of why it must be cherished.

The Dutchman had been on the pitch for just 15 minutes before scoring twice

The Dutchman had been on the pitch for just 15 minutes before scoring twice

The dramatic turnaround gave Spurs a second consecutive Premier League win

The dramatic turnaround gave Spurs a second consecutive Premier League win 

For fans following football’s lower reaches, of course, in-house coverage might be the only way to get their Saturday fix. Except perhaps for local radio.

But even for supporters of this country’s biggest clubs, these channels can provide a crucial counterweight.

Not everyone enjoys chin-stroking pundits in three-piece suits and those white-soled trainers.

Many fans feel mainstream commentators are biased against their team; many more have no interest in wiping rose-tint from their own glasses, either. 

The comeback victory at Leicester sealed by Bergwijn's late goals sent away fans wild

The comeback victory at Leicester sealed by Bergwijn’s late goals sent away fans wild

Instead, they want to hear like-minded people lose themselves with similarly reckless abandon.

And what is wrong with that? Some clubs have already abandoned any pretence of impartiality. West Brom, for instance, unashamedly offer ‘Baggies-biased commentary’.

All of which brings us to King Power Stadium and Steven Bergwijn’s incredible cameo for Tottenham.

Rob Daly of Spurs TV, take a bow. Deep into injury time, there was almost a plea for mercy in the way he asked: ‘Surely not another twist?’ 

But from there, as Bergwijn skipped round Kasper Schmeichel to steal victory, Daly’s voice steadily rose – in decibels, pitch and gravel. It was glorious.

Then, while Bergwijn was mobbed, Daly was reduced to silence – capable of mustering only occasional clusters of words. ‘THE FLYING DUTCHMANNNN… TWO LATE, LATE GOALS…’ 

Eventually he asked: ‘WHAT ON EARTH HAS HAPPENED?’ It was a question no one watching could answer.

But, in circumstances like those, would they want to hear anyone else try?

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‘Rivalries are there for a reason’: Steven Gerrard admits he was shocked his former Liverpool manager Rafa Benitez took over at Everton last summer, insisting it ‘doesn’t make sense’ to take charge of a bitter enemy

  • Steven Gerrard takes Aston Villa to Goodison Park to face Everton on Saturday
  • Toffees sacked Rafa Benitez last week after defeat to Norwich
  • Gerrard said he was surprised Spaniard even took the Everton job 
  • Benitez won four trophies at Liverpool during a six-year spell at Anfield 


Steven Gerrard takes on old foes Everton today insisting he could never follow Rafael Benitez by crossing the divide between the bitter Mersey rivals.

Benitez was sacked by Everton this after barely six months in charge, meaning there will be no reunion of the manager and captain who led Liverpool to Champions League glory in Istanbul in 2005.

Instead Gerrard’s Aston Villa will meet a team managed by Duncan Ferguson, but Gerrard remains baffled that Benitez – who won four trophies in six years as Anfield boss – had opted to join Everton at all.

Steven Gerrard and Rafael Benitez won four trophies in six years together at Anfield

Steven Gerrard and Rafael Benitez won four trophies in six years together at Anfield

The duo famously lifted the 2005 Champions League after an epic comeback against AC Milan

The duo famously lifted the 2005 Champions League after an epic comeback against AC Milan

‘It would never enter my head to manage a rival that I’ve competed against for over two decades,’ said Gerrard. ‘That doesn’t make sense. Rivalries are there for a reason.

‘With the legacy he had at Liverpool, his connection with the club and what he delivered, the biggest shock for me was that Rafa took the job in the first place.

‘He is in that bracket of world-class managers, I think he’s proved that throughout his career but jobs can go right or wrong for a number of reasons. Sometimes certain things behind the scenes don’t work out for you.’

The Spaniard was sacked last week after Everton's 2-1 defeat away against Norwich

The Spaniard was sacked last week after Everton’s 2-1 defeat away against Norwich

Gerrard said he was baffled the Spaniard agreed to join Everton in the summer to begin with

Gerrard said he was baffled the Spaniard agreed to join Everton in the summer to begin with

Gerrard also stressed Villa’s desire to keep key midfielder John McGinn, whose performances this term have attracted considerable interest from the Premier League’s elite.

McGinn returns after suspension and has been praised regularly Gerrard since he succeeded Dean Smith in November.

The former England captain added: ‘We don’t want to be a selling club and our intention is to keep John McGinn here. We love the player, we love the human being and we want to help him.’

‘We see it as a compliment when our players are linked with big moves away. It shows they are playing at a consistent level.’

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Duncan Ferguson says he is the ‘best man’ for the Everton job as he reveals he’s had a call from former boss Carlo Ancelotti ahead of Premier League clash with Aston Villa

  • Duncan Ferguson is in caretaker charge of Everton after Rafa Benitez’s exit
  • Ferguson thinks that he is the best man for the job in the club’s current situation 
  • The Scot revealed that Carlo Ancelotti called to give him a confidence boost 
  • The Toffees are currently six points above the Premier League relegation zone 


Carlo Ancelotti has called Duncan Ferguson and urged him to seize the moment as the Everton legend prepares for his latest managerial audition.

At the end of another turbulent week for Everton, which began with the sacking of Rafa Benitez and featured major shareholder Farhad Moshiri pumping another £100million of equity into the club, all eyes will be on Goodison Park this lunchtime for a crucial game against Aston Villa.

Everton arrive into this contest on the back of the worst run of form in the Premier League – six points from the last 39 – but Ferguson puffed out his chest on Friday and insisted relegation was not even in his thinking, as he sought to galvanise a response from this underachieving squad. 

Carlo Ancelotti gave Duncan Ferguson a confidence boost over the phone earlier this week

Carlo Ancelotti gave Duncan Ferguson a confidence boost over the phone earlier this week

There was something reassuring for Evertonians about seeing Ferguson, a club totem, facing the cameras and he made it clear he had delivered a number of ‘home truths’ to the players who are temporarily under his charge. The question is why can’t he have the permanent opportunity?

When pressed about his ambitions to succeed Benitez, Ferguson – who is not a natural self-publicist – was self-deprecating. It was significant, then, that he revealed that Ancelotti, with whom he had such a strong relationship, had called to tell him to believe in his methods.

‘Carlo was calm, wasn’t he?’ said Ferguson. ‘He has seen it all. Things like that, his calmness, tactically he was fantastic, and I picked up loads of things from him but to be honest you have to be yourself. I just want to be myself. You pick up experiences but I just want to be myself. 

Ferguson addressed the media ahead of Everton's crucial game against Aston Villa

Ferguson addressed the media ahead of Everton’s crucial game against Aston Villa

‘That’s what you’ll see (against Villa) and that’s what you see on the training ground. Carlo said to me: ‘Be yourself. You’re ready.’ That gave me a bit of confidence. I worked with Carlo for a couple of seasons and he told me to go for it, to be myself.

‘He said you know what you’re doing and you’ve got the experience on the training ground. He said: ‘You’re ready.’ That gave me a bit of a boost to be honest with you, hearing it from a guy like that who has done it all. That was good.’

He added: ‘There will be many, many managers who are qualified to manage Everton. They will have more trophies, experience and things like that. But right now – because we have lost a manager such a short period of time ago – right now I would probably be the best man to take it on.’

There is no doubt this is different to his last short stint in December 2019. It is fair to question whether the players fully appreciate what is expected of them from supporters and whether they can be trusted to deliver the performances to halt the slide. 

Everton owner Farhad Moshiri is searching for a new manager after sacking Rafa Benitez

Everton owner Farhad Moshiri is searching for a new manager after sacking Rafa Benitez

Does Ferguson trust them?

‘Absolutely I trust the players,’ he said. ‘100 per cent I trust them. I work with them and know they are good players. When lack of confidence and are losing games, you start to get down. Getting into them a wee bit and digging them out, I believe I have them on board. That’s why I trust them.’

How this plays out remains to be seen but Moshiri, who has considered a number of candidates to succeed Benitez, sent an open letter to fans yesterday explaining how he had turned loans into equity – he now owns 94.1 per cent of the club – and his views on what has happened.

‘I assure you my commitment remains strong and focused,’ he said. ‘I am a private man and I do not speak publicly very often. But I promise you that my determination to deliver for Everton will not waiver. We will ensure we have the best model in place moving forward.’

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Claudio Ranieri vows to keep fighting to pull Watford out of trouble after dismal defeat to Norwich…and he calls out some players by urging them to ‘change their mentality’

  • Claudio Ranieri pledged to fight for his job and Watford’s Premier League future
  • The Italian apologised to fans after the 3-0 defeat to fellow strugglers Norwich
  • ‘This is a good team but they must change the mentality,’ Ranieri said
  • ‘They have to play for the squad – not selfish. I don’t want these kind of players.’


Claudio Ranieri insisted he was not going anywhere after Watford suffered a heavy 3-0 home defeat to Norwich in the Premier League and maintained that he ‘never gives up’.

Josh Sargent struck twice to lift Norwich out of the relegation zone as Watford finished the game with 10 men, piling more pressure on Ranieri.

Sargent’s improvised flick broke the deadlock before he headed home from a well-weighted Milot Rashica cross for the Canaries’ second of the match.

A defiant Claudio Ranieri has vowed to keep fighting to keep Watford in the Premier League

A defiant Claudio Ranieri has vowed to keep fighting to keep Watford in the Premier League

Watford slid into the relegation zone after a chastening 3-0 defeat at home to Norwich

Watford slid into the relegation zone after a chastening 3-0 defeat at home to Norwich

Emmanuel Dennis was shown a second yellow card soon after for a high foot on Max Aarons, before Norwich added a third in added time when Juraj Kucka diverted a ball from Adam Idah past Daniel Bachmann and into his own net.

‘No I don’t go away, I want to continue because I am a fighter,’ Ranieri said when asked about his future.

‘I never give up in my career, this is a good team but they must change the mentality, some players have to follow (Moussa) Sissoko and (Tom) Cleverley, the two captains, this is my word.’

The result ensures the Hornets remain without a win since their shock 4-1 triumph over Manchester United in November, but they have only now slipped into the relegation zone for the first time this season.

The club, though, do not have a history of sticking with under-pressure managers and it could be a crucial week for Ranieri, who described the match beforehand as a ‘cup final’, although afterwards was left bemoaning the lack of team spirit.

The Italian manager added: ‘First of all, I want to say ‘sorry’ to our fans for the defeat.

Ranieri said he has never given up in his career and called out some of his players as 'selfish'

Ranieri said he has never given up in his career and called out some of his players as ‘selfish’

‘I asked the players to light their fire and the first half was so not good, not what I expect and the second half, after the goal we disappear and maybe we played better with 10 than 11.

‘Now my goal is to pick up the players who pick up with heart, as Sissoko and Cleverley, players with heart, the right mentality Premier League is a tough league and only those who want to fight and play for the squad can continue in this way.’

He added: ‘The players don’t play for me they play for the club, for the fans for everybody, but the most important thing is they have to play for the squad – not in an individual way, not selfish. I don’t want these kind of players.’

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Arsenal will offer Mikel Arteta a new contract before the end of the season as the Gunners look to tie down their manager and ward off any interest Man City have in the Spaniard replacing Pep Guardiola

  • Arsenal set to offer new two-year with improved salary to Mikel Arteta
  • Gunners have been impressed with the Spaniard in his first two seasons
  • Arteta’s current contract at the Emirates is entering its final 12 months
  • And Arsenal are determined to find off interest from Manchester City 


Arsenal are set to offer Mikel Arteta a new contract before the end of the season to prevent their manager entering the final 12 months of his deal.

Club chiefs have been happy with Arteta since he replaced Unai Emery two years ago and are eager to retain him despite Arsenal finishing eighth in the Premier League in both his seasons in charge.

Arsenal are confident they are taking major steps forward under Arteta as he builds his team around Bukayo Saka and Emile Smith Rowe, and sidelines high-earning older stars such as Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.

Arsenal are set to offer a new two-year deal to manager Mikel Arteta this season

Arsenal are set to offer a new two-year deal to manager Mikel Arteta this season

The Spaniard is out of contract at the end of next season but Arsenal want to keep him

The Spaniard is out of contract at the end of next season but Arsenal want to keep him

Arteta’s off-field leadership has impressed executives at the Emirates, with Arteta playing a key role in persuading players to take temporary pay cuts at the start of the pandemic and robustly defending the club’s reputation during the row over Covid call-offs.

Arsenal are also conscious that the expiry date of Arteta’s contract in summer 2023 coincides with Pep Guardiola’s planned departure date at Manchester City, and continued improvement for Arsenal could see him emerge as a successor.

The 39-year-old is happy at Arsenal and will welcome the talks. Any extension would lead to an increase on his £5 milllion salary, with Arsenal seeking to commit Arteta to the club for two more years.

The Arsenal board has been impressed with Arteta's developments of youngsters like Bukayo Saka (left) and Emile Smith Rowe (centre)

The Arsenal board has been impressed with Arteta’s developments of youngsters like Bukayo Saka (left) and Emile Smith Rowe (centre)

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‘It kept going on and on’: Dean Smith feared Norwich’s game at Watford would be postponed due to floodlight glitch but was grateful Claudio Ranieri agreed to resume play as Canaries claimed huge win to exit the drop zone

  • Dean Smith was worried Norwich’s game at Watford was going to be called off
  • The match was halted when some of the Vicarage Road floodlights began to dim
  • The game resumed after more than 10 minutes and Norwich roared on to victory
  • ‘I was willing people behind me to start peddling quicker,’ said the Norwich boss


Dean Smith has admitted he was worried Norwich’s game at Watford was going to be cancelled due to the floodlight failure, just as his side were on course for victory.

Norwich were leading at Vicarage Road just when floodlights in the stadiums corners began to dim.

Although visibility was still good, referee Mike Dean halted the game for over 10 minutes while he spoke to Premier League officials on how to proceed.

Dean Smith was delighted with the win at Watford but feared the game would be called off

Dean Smith was delighted with the win at Watford but feared the game would be called off

There was an 11-minute delay in play after a few of the floodlights failed at Vicarage Raod

 There was an 11-minute delay in play after a few of the floodlights failed at Vicarage Raod

He eventually resumed play after getting the greenlight from Smith and Norwich captain opposite number boss Claudio Ranieri and the two club captains.

Asked if he feared the game was going to end due to the lights going out, Smith said: ‘I was yes because it kept going on and on, I was willing people behind me to start peddling quicker. 

‘Thankfully Claudio Ranieri thought like me that it was fine to continue, just not as bright as normal.’

Smith admitted it was a scrappy victory but was pleased how his side responded after a poor first half. 

‘It was not a pretty affair from us, we knew it would not be but we started the game off really well,’ he said after a second consecutive victory following last week’s win over Everton.

‘The game got away from us in the first half but we spoke about it at half time, we were good without the ball today and not so good with. We are in a results business, we needed the result today and certainly gives everyone a lift.’

The win sees the Canaries climb out of the relegation zone for the first time this season

The win sees the Canaries climb out of the relegation zone for the first time this season

Josh Sargent's sensational back heel volley gave Norwich a lead at the start of the second half

Josh Sargent’s sensational back heel volley gave Norwich a lead at the start of the second half

The manager also praised goalscorer Josh Sargent, in particular for his audacious opening goal, his first in the Premier League.

‘Superb, I have only just seen it back and I thought he had just miskicked it. Great improvisation and he needed that, he is a hard working, intelligent player and pleased he got the two goals,’ said Smith.

US international Sargent added: ‘To be honest it’s been a kind of blur. To get your first one and then your second after that was pretty crazy. It’s a big game for us so a great night overall. 

‘It was just a kind of reaction to put my foot up like that. I knew right away it was in. I can’t remember the last time I did that. Not a bad first goal!

‘The checked after the second goal as well so obviously you’re looking up hoping not to be embarrassed after celebrating like that but obviously it was given a goal so I’m happy.

‘It was back and forth all game and there were no real chances for either team but we were lucky to break and get those two goals. The second one boosted my confidence a lot. I tried to hold my run as long as possible to get a good head on it.’

Sargent dedicated his second goal to his newborn child.

Sargent celebrates after scoring two goals in Norwich City's 3-0 victory at Watford

Sargent celebrates after scoring two goals in Norwich City’s 3-0 victory at Watford

He explained: ‘After the first one I didn’t celebrate for my newborn baby so I knew the wife would be on my case. I thought I need to do it now!

‘It’s been a crazy couple of weeks obviously but I’m very happy right now. It’s been amazing. Hopefully we can take that confidence into the next games.

‘Ever since I was young I always wanted to play in the Premier League. I know it’s the best league in the world so I kind of fought my way here and I’m happy I’m doing it now.’ 

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Fiorentina chief admits they are willing to negotiate with a Premier League club for star striker Dusan Vlahovic amid interest from Arsenal… but the Serbian is not keen on a move to England and would prefer Juventus


Fiorentina have received an offer from an English club for Dusan Vlahovic, but he appears to have little interest in moving to the Premier League. 

The 21-year-old has developed into one of the best strikers in Europe and Arsenal have long been fan of the Serbian international.  

Speaking to La Nazione on Thursday, Fiorentina sporting director Joe Barone confirmed a Premier League club had presented an offer to La Viola.

Dusan Vlahovic has emerged as one of the most-wanted strikers in Europe this season

Dusan Vlahovic has emerged as one of the most-wanted strikers in Europe this season

‘Some English clubs have made contact with Fiorentina, but there is no agreement,’ he said.

‘The English club want Vlahovic, but evidently he’s got other ideas. We’re ready to negotiate, but him and his agent won’t talk.’ 

Any deal for Vlahovic, however, is complicated by the player’s apparent desire not to play in England and by a lack of communication between Vlahovic’s agent and Fiorentina. 

The 21-year-old has scored 20 goals in 24 appearances in all competitions so far this season

The 21-year-old has scored 20 goals in 24 appearances in all competitions so far this season

‘There have been zero openings from Vlahovic’s agent,’ Barone told the Florence-based newspaper.

‘There has been zero communications [from Vlahovic’s camp.] I had asked for clarity [over the player’s plans] and I had told his agent to be clear with us. But there’s been no contact on that front.’

Vlahovic has scored 49 goals in 108 appearances for Fiorentina in all competitions, including 20 in 24 games this season. 

His goalscoring form attracted interest from Arsenal, who are looking to bolster their attacking options given former captain Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is currently out of favour with manager Mikel Arteta and Alexandre Lacazette will be out of contract in the summer.

Vlahovic is one of the hottest properties in Europe and Juventus want to sign him this month

Vlahovic is one of the hottest properties in Europe and Juventus want to sign him this month

Juventus are looking to sign Dusan Vlahovic

The Turin giants are preparing to offer Dejan Kulusevski and £29million for the Serbian

Juventus are preparing to offer Dejan Kulusevski (right) and £29m for Dusan Vlahovic (left)

Earlier this month, The Mirror reported the Gunners had tabled a £50 million offer to Fiorentina for Vlahovic. The deal also included midfielder Lucas Torreira, who is currently on loan to Fiorentina.

However, Arsenal’s hopes of landing the Serbian could be dashed by Juventus.

According to Gazzetta dello Sport, the Old Lady is set to offer Fiorentina Dejan Kulusevski plus £29 million in cash in a £58 million (€70m) deal to land the 21-year-old.

Reports in Italy have also claimed that Fiorentina would have sold the player to Arsenal, but Vlahovic refused the Gunners’ approach and is holding out for a move to Juventus. 

For their part, Fiorentina are hoping to get Vlahovic to sign a new deal – his current contract runs until 2023 – but have not ruled out a January sale.

‘We’re open to consider all the proposals we’ll receive for Vlahovic,’ Barone told Sport Mediaset last week.

‘No bid is on the table right now.  We’ve not received any official offer. Let’s see if some proposal will arrive.’  

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Relegation showdown between Watford and Norwich is halted for over 10 MINUTES due to a floodlight failure at Vicarage Road… as Gary Neville slams the delay as ‘absolute nonsense’

  • Watford’s game with Norwich was held up due to a floodlight glitch
  • The match was paused by referee Mike Dean for more than 10 minutes
  • Gary Neville and Jamie Carragher were furious with the stoppage 


Watford’s relegation showdown with Norwich was stopped for over 10 minutes after a floodlight failure at Vicarage Road.

Watford were trailing 1-0 to Josh Sergent’s audacious flicked goal when some of the lights went out in the second half.

Even though the pitch was still lit up by the floodlights which were still working, referee Mike Dean stopped the match between the two rivals to avoid the drop from the Premier League.

Watford's game with Norwich was paused after some of the floodlights at Vicarage Road failed

Watford’s game with Norwich was paused after some of the floodlights at Vicarage Road failed

Floodlights in the corner of Watford's Vicarage Road stadium began to fail in the second half

Floodlights in the corner of Watford’s Vicarage Road stadium began to fail in the second half

Sky Sports commentator Jamie Carragher criticised the move to halt the game, arguing that many stadiums in Europe are not as well lit as in England and matches continue regardless.

‘It’s absolutely fine. Who decides that they can’t carry on in this light? They can play, just get on with it,’ Carragher said. 

Gary Neville concurred, urging referee Dean to resume play.  

‘I completely agree with Jamie and his thoughts,’ he said. 

The match was paused for more than 10 minutes while referee Mike Dean waited for advice

The match was paused for more than 10 minutes while referee Mike Dean waited for advice

Moments after the game was resumed Josh Sargent scored again to double Norwich's lead

Moments after the game was resumed Josh Sargent scored again to double Norwich’s lead

‘The longer this game doesn’t continue, they’re creating a bigger problem. We’re at pitch level and there’s no real issue at all.

‘Someone at the Premier League needs to get the message to Mike Dean that this game can continue now as this is an absolute nonsense. There have been England games where there has been far less light.’

An embarrassing night for Watford got even worse when Emmanuel Dennis was sent off

An embarrassing night for Watford got even worse when Emmanuel Dennis was sent off

Neville got his wish as Dean eventually restarted the game after being ordered by the referee to consult with Norwich manager Dean Smith and Watford boss Claudio Ranieri and their respective captain.

Moments later, Sargent struck for the second time to bring more pain to Watford on an embarrassing evening on and off the pitch. 

Things got even worse for the Hornest when Emmanuel Dennis was sent off and then their misery was compounded when a Juraj Kucka own goal made it 3-0 to Norwich.

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Watford vs Norwich LIVE: It’s a relegation dog fight at Vicarage Road as both sides look for a pivotal three points at the bottom of the Premier League table and try to put pressure on rivals Newcastle and Burnley

  • Watford starting XI: Bachmann, Femenia, Kabasele, Samir, Kamara, Sissoko,Kayembe, Cleverley, Dennis, King, Joao Pedro. Subs: Ngakia, Sema, Fletcher, Tufan, Hernandez, Sierralta, Kucka, Elliot, Morris
  • Norwich City starting XI: Gunn, Aarons, Hanley, Gibson, Williams, Sargent, Sorensen, Lees-Melou, Rashica, Idah, Pukki 
  • Just one point separates Watford and Norwich heading into Friday night’s clash
  • Hornets though have two games in hand and can ease relegation fears with win 
  • Kick-off from the huge Premier League clash at Vicarage Road is from 8pm GMT
  • Latest Premier League news, including live action and results 
  • Premier League table – as it stands 


Watford get the Premier League’s weekend action underway when they host relegation rivals Norwich City at Vicarage Road

Just one point separates the teams heading into the game but with Watford having two games in hand it is vital for the Canaries to at least avoid defeat to keep their top flight survival hopes alive.

Follow Sportsmail’s DAN RIPLEY for live Premier League coverage of Watford vs Norwich, including build-up, team news and updates.  

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Give him what he wants. It’s that simple. The future has the potential to be bright for Tottenham and it is down to the decision they made in November when appointing Antonio Conte.

The Italian returns to Stamford Bridge on Sunday on the back of one of the most thrilling Premier League wins we have seen for years, the remarkable transformation in stoppage time at Leicester when the prospect of a first league defeat of his reign was turned into a potentially season-altering result.

One thing I loved amid the drama was seeing Conte’s reaction to it all, his emotional investment in the team and the way he lives every second of what his team is doing. He’s the kind of character that fans bond with and, regardless of his spell at Chelsea, he is becoming loved at Spurs.

Tottenham Hotspur pulled off a masterstroke in appointing Antonio Conte as manager

Tottenham Hotspur pulled off a masterstroke in appointing Antonio Conte as manager

The Italian has already started to work his magic and is having a positive influence on the team

The Italian has already started to work his magic and is having a positive influence on the team

I’m fascinated to see what is possible for Tottenham under Conte. If I was in charge of one of their rivals the only players I’d seriously consider buying from their squad would be Harry Kane and Son Heung-min.

Of course there are other good players, such as Hugo Lloris, Sergio Reguilon and Lucas Moura, and I like the emergence of Japhet Tanganga but there is one reason Tottenham have thrust themselves into contention for a Champions League place — and that is Conte.

It still amazes me Manchester United failed to pursued him. This guy is firmly in the top 10 of managers worldwide — you could argue that he is in the top five — and everything about his CV tells you he has come back to London to win.

Perhaps it is a stretch to see Tottenham challenging for the Premier League anytime soon but Conte has won titles with Bari, Juventus, Chelsea and Inter Milan and he didn’t accept Daniel Levy’s offer to succeed Nuno Espirito Santo to waste time.

Conte wants to be competitive, to cause problems for Pep Guardiola, Jurgen Klopp and Thomas Tuchel. That is why it would be crazy if Levy didn’t give him the proper backing to get Tottenham motoring forward again, as was the case under Mauricio Pochettino.

Conte is a proven winner where ever he goes. He is pictured winning Serie A with Inter Milan

Conte is a proven winner where ever he goes. He is pictured winning Serie A with Inter Milan

Tottenham could challenge the Premier League's finest again under Conte like they did under previous manager Mauricio Pochettino (left)

Tottenham could challenge the Premier League’s finest again under Conte like they did under previous manager Mauricio Pochettino (left)

Here is a manager who commands respect. He will be tight on discipline and the best evidence of that is the fact he banned ketchup and mayonnaise; it was one of those stories that made me smile but having experienced the Italian way of life, I know why he has done it.

When I moved to Fiorentina in 2014, early on during a couple of team meals I put ketchup on my plate. I got a few looks from some of the other lads around the table as if to say: “are you ok?”

They eat fresh food, everything is salad and olive oil. Conte, clearly, demands physical perfection from his players and the smallest details give you an edge. I lost seven kilos during that season in Florence, as the Italian diet is centred on players being lean and light to move quicker.

You get weighed each morning without fail, the doctors check your body fat and the onus is on you to make sure you are living your life correctly. What the ketchup actually signifies is discipline — doing what the manager asks of you and being invested in his methods.

Tottenham chairman Daniel Levy (above) would be crazy not to back the Italian to succeed

Tottenham chairman Daniel Levy (above) would be crazy not to back the Italian to succeed

When the ketchup story emerged it that it was a reflection of Conte being some sort of intense disciplinarian coming so quickly on the back of reports that United steered away from him because of his character.

Do people really feel Conte seeks conflicts? I certainly don’t. I believe he is someone who demands the highest standards, a passionate winner who challenges people to get better. How can you cast doubt on his pedigree or character?

At the beginning of the season, I didn’t expect Tottenham to be in contention for the top four but Levy’s decision to appoint Conte has given them a fantastic opportunity — if they do make it into the Champions League next year, it will be down to him.

To enhance their prospects, however, the right additions this month would be an enormous advantage. Conte has a pull and Spurs must capitalise on that, in the same way Steven Gerrard was able to attract Philippe Coutinho to Aston Villa. That was a club backing their manager.

Conte will return to Chelsea on Sunday where he won the Premier League title in 2017

Conte will return to Chelsea on Sunday where he won the Premier League title in 2017

Returning to Chelsea will be symbolic for Conte, after the two seasons he enjoyed there, but he will also see it as a chance to make a statement. Spurs were undone by individual mistakes when they played there in the Carabao Cup earlier this month and were always on the back foot.

There is a gulf in class between the two teams at present but a Tottenham win would open things up dramatically, leaving them five points behind Chelsea with four games in hand. Considering they were 10 points behind on the day Conte was unveiled, the progress has been good.

Tottenham must maintain it — and to do that, it means giving Conte the opportunity to really enhance this squad. He is the best possible manager they could have wished for at this time. They cannot waste this chance.

Let Webster find his feet 

Adam Webster is making good progress in a Brighton side that continue to catch the eye. At a time when we are not overstocked with English central defenders, his name has this week been mentioned in connection with a possible future call-up from Gareth Southgate.

That day may come but, right now, I would be happier to see him getting more experience in the Premier League and continuing to develop than jump on the bandwagon to say he should be in the England squad. Players need time to find their feet rather than getting immediate promotions.

Adam Webster should be given time to develop and build on his excellent form for Brighton

Adam Webster should be given time to develop and build on his excellent form for Brighton

Fan foe Benitez was always likely to fail 

I am intrigued to see how Everton respond to Duncan Ferguson when they tackle Aston Villa on Saturday. Ferguson, a club legend, takes over at a time when they are in desperate need of a lift following the sacking of Rafa Benitez.

I really wanted Rafa to do well, he is someone I respect and have had the pleasure of working alongside but — without being disrespectful — Everton had to make a change, not least due to the relationship with the fans. It was always going to be tough for him, given his past allegiances. 

Rafa Benitez was always going to find the Everton job tough after not connecting with fans

Rafa Benitez was always going to find the Everton job tough after not connecting with fans

Micah’s man of the week 

Every time I see James Ward-Prowse I never fail to be impressed. He’s a player that seems to go under a lot of people’s radar, but what a Premier League player he is: to reach 300 club appearances for Southampton aged 27 is a testament to his ability and durability.

Ward-Prowse reminds me, in terms of his professionalism, of James Milner, Michael Carrick and Gareth Barry but then you add into the equation his outstanding set-piece ability. He’s scored some amazing goals and hasn’t finished yet — not by a long way.

James Ward-Prowse continues to impress and has excellent professionalism as well as talent

James Ward-Prowse continues to impress and has excellent professionalism as well as talent