Under-fire Manchester United boss Erik ten Hag cannot afford another damaging defeat when his troubled side face Fulham on Saturday.
Tottenham’s Premier League title challenge will get an intriguing test as the leaders’ former boss Mauricio Pochettino returns with Chelsea.
Arsenal also harbour title aspirations, making their showdown with top-four contenders Newcastle one of the weekend’s marquee match-ups.
Erik ten Hag urged his Manchester United flops to “stand up” to the pressure as the Dutch coach battles to stop their season imploding.
United have made their worst start since 1962-63 and a loss against Fulham at Craven Cottage could push Ten Hag to the brink of the sack after less than two seasons in charge.
Hammered 3-0 by Manchester City last weekend, United were brushed aside by the same score against Newcastle in the League Cup fourth round on Wednesday.
Ten Hag’s men have lost eight of their 15 matches in all competitions this term, leaving them eighth in the Premier League and in danger of failing to reach the Champions League last 16.
It is the first time United have lost successive home games by three goals or more since 1962, while they have lost five of their first 10 home games for the first time since 1930-31.
“This is not good enough and we know that. That’s below our standards and we know that all and we have to take responsibility for this,” Ten Hag said after United were booed off against Newcastle.
Bookmakers’ odds on Ten Hag being axed have been slashed amid reports of players losing patience with their manager’s hardline personality.
In a desperate plea for unity, the former Ajax boss said: “That is our job. We sleep and we have to go again, so we have to stand up.
“Sticking together is the only way, the only way we do it, shoulder by shoulder, then we will come through this.”
James Maddison says Ange Postecoglou’s confident sales pitch convinced him to join Tottenham, laying the foundations for the club’s surprise title bid.
Postecoglou’s upbeat assessment of Tottenham’s future persuaded Maddison to ignore other suitors when he left Leicester in the close season.
It has proved an inspired move for both Maddison and his manager as the England playmaker’s exemplary form has fuelled unbeaten Tottenham’s climb to the top of the table.
“He said ‘James, whether you decide to come or not, you’re going to see a completely different Tottenham team’,” Maddison said ahead of Monday’s clash with Chelsea manager Mauricio Pochettino, making his first return to the club who sacked him in 2019.
“I just loved the confidence he said that with. And that just left that bit in my mind where I thought, yeah, I want to go and work for this guy.”
As they chase their first Premier League title since 2004, a win at Newcastle would rank as a significant statement of intent for second-placed Arsenal.
Gunners boss Mikel Arteta took the blame after his decision to make six changes backfired in Wednesday’s League Cup defeat at West Ham.
But that setback will quickly be forgotten if Arsenal, who sit two points behind Tottenham, return from Tyneside with a valuable victory over a team on a high after their League Cup triumph at Manchester United.
“It’s great that the game is in three days because it’s a chance to turn things around. We can go and try to put things right,” Arsenal midfielder Jorginho said.
“The only thing we can take from this tough result is how we need to be much better at competing for the next game, because if you’re going to play at this level, you won’t win for sure.”
British Gymnastics bans weighing young athletes
British Gymnastics has introduced new safeguarding rules that will prevent coaches from weighing athletes to stamp out methods it said are “on the fringe of abuse”.
The rules are part of a series of policies that the governing body is introducing following the 2022 Whyte Review, which found there was “systemic” physical and emotional abuse within the sport.
British Gymnastics has said it intends to go beyond the recommendations of that report to stamp out “harmful practices”.
Under the new rules, no gymnasts aged 10 or under can be weighed. Those above that age can only be weighed with the consent of both the gymnast and if they are under the age of 18, a parent or guardian.
If athletes are weighed, it must be done by a sports science or medical practitioner, with a “scientifically valid rationale” for it, including measuring growth or designing strength and conditioning exercises.
British Gymnastics said the policy had been introduced “to prevent inappropriate practices and prevent potential areas of concern around weighing, due to some of the related psychological distress and risks of the development of mental health problems such as eating disorders/disordered eating, anxiety, and depression”.
“Inappropriate or excessive weighing of gymnasts is an example of poor practice which may be on the fringe of abuse, and if/or repeated could amount to abuse,” it added.
The Whyte Review focused on 2008 to 2020 and received more than 400 submissions of those, more than 40 percent described physically abusive behavior towards gymnasts from coaches.
In a statement, British Gymnastics chief executive Sarah Powell said: “Above all else, we care about gymnasts as people, and these new policies make clear that what matters most in gymnastics is the welfare of those involved.
“While practices have moved on a long way, we know there has been poor practice in these areas and so by providing clarity for gymnasts, parents and carers, coaches, clubs, volunteers, and officials through the statements set out in these policies it will ensure everyone understands what is OK and what is not OK and help prevent that happening in the future.”
Iftikhar Ahmed joins Multan Sultans, Rossouw returns to Quetta Gladiators
Pakistan all-rounder Iftikhar Ahmed will don the Multan Sultans’ jersey in the ninth edition of Pakistan Super League (PSL).
In a trade, Iftikhar has moved to Multan Sultans, whereas Rilee Rossouw has returned to his previous franchise, Quetta Gladiators.
🔥🚨 Box-office Trade Alert 🚨🔥
🔁Iftikhar Ahmed joins Multan Sultans
— PakistanSuperLeague (@thePSLt20) November 30, 2023
The trade deal with Quetta Gladiators also sees Multan Sultans get the first pick in the platinum round one in exchange for Rilee Rossouw and the first Silver category pick.
Iftikhar has evolved into a formidable all-rounder for his power-hitting and foxy off-spin. He brings an experience of 229 T20 matches in which he has scored 4,476 runs. He also has a century in the format to go with 30 half-centuries. Since the start of his career in October 2010, the muscular batter has been smashing a boundary every 6.75 balls. He recently reached the 50-wicket landmark and his economy stands at 7.31.
Iftikhar Ahmed: “I am delighted to become a Sultan. It is an honour for me to represent the people of Multan as their passion for this game is second to none. Multan Sultans have evolved into a strong team and their record in the last three seasons speak for itself. Now, it is my ambition to help them bag the prestigious HBL PSL trophy,” Iftikhar said.
Captain Muhammad Rizwan: “I am very excited to welcome Iftikhar Ahmed. He brings outstanding all-round skills, which we need to be a champion team.
“It was not only his on-field skills that made us finalise this trade, but he is also a brilliant team player who uplifts dressing rooms with his presence. We are eager to put together a set of players whose skills are in sync with our positive, bold and aggressive brand of cricket.”
Leicester slip-up allows Ipswich to close on Championship lead
Leicester’s lead at the top of the Championship was cut to a single point after they conceded a stoppage-time equaliser to draw 1-1 at Sheffield Wednesday, while Ipswich beat Millwall 3-1.
Top was taking on bottom at Hillsborough, but there was an unexpected sting in the tale as Jeff Hendrick’s 93rd-minute goal secured Wednesday just their seventh point in 18 games.
Abdul Fatawu had put Leicester in front midway through the first half.
But the Foxes have now won just one of their last four games as Hendrick fired home from Callum Paterson’s header.
Ipswich had no such trouble as goals from Conor Chaplin, Massimo Luongo and Nathan Broadhead put them 3-0 up before half-time at Portman Road.
Leeds climbed back up to third and within seven points of the top two despite conceding inside the first minute against Swansea.
Joel Piroe quickly levelled against his former club before goals from Georginio Rutter and Dan James sealed a 3-1 win for Daniel Farke’s men.
Kyle Walker-Peters scored the only goal as a 1-0 win over Bristol City was enough to move Southampton up to fourth.
Blackburn are just two points outside the playoffs after beating Wayne Rooney’s Birmingham 4-2.
Former Manchester United and England captain Rooney has just one win in seven games in charge of the Blues.
Huddersfield moved six points clear of the relegation zone thanks to a 2-1 win at Sunderland.
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