The eight teams in the Europa League are as follows – including the titans of Arsenal and the giants of Manchester United. David Tindall will be along at 12pm to steer you through that one:
It’s Gold Cup day over at Cheltenham, of course, and you can keep up with all the live action here with our team of writers –
Thanks for your comments.
Horace says: “Chelsea fan here. Oddly, I think the “easiest” draw would be against Real Madrid. They need a rebuild and Spanish football, in general, seems to be in a bit of a state.”
Jim adds: “As a Liverpool fan, this is the least confident I’ve felt going into a Champions League draw under Klopp. I would feel we were favourites against Porto, and PSG or Dortmund could be interesting. After that … I would be worried.”
Christian chips in: “Have a sneaky feeling Liverpool are going to pull a 2005 and win the whole thing.”
Here are some quotes from the England manager, Gareth Southgate, on his decision to leave the Liverpool wing-back Trent Alexander-Arnold out of his latest squad:
Gunners goalie Bernd Leno has been having a chat with Arsenal.com after they progressed to the last eight of the Europa League 3-2 on aggregate despite a 1-0 defeat by Olympiacos.
“We need to be 100 per cent every game,” the Germany goalkeeper said. “If we play like today then we won’t reach anything this season. I think there are only very good teams in the quarter-finals and we need two perfect games to go to the semi-finals and two more games to go to the final. The Europa League is very important for us – this is probably the closest way to go to the Champions League and also to win a big European trophy so we need to step up. We need to have the motivation to win every game, cut out the easy mistakes and go through to the final and hopefully have a big final at the end of the season.”
Leno wants the squad to take the Olympiacos performance as a “warning” for the remainder of the campaign as Arsenal prepare to return to Premier League action away to London rivals West Ham on Sunday. “I think we suffered and it was not necessary,” he added. “I think in the first 15 or 20 minutes we controlled the game, but then we’ve made too many easy mistakes and in the second half we conceded the goal and then everybody was nervous. We made it hard for ourselves and, like I said, it was not necessary. In the dressing room it was quiet because everybody knows that it was not a good performance from us. We cannot change it any more, but the positive thing is that it was a warning.”
Anyone fancy a renewal of Liverpool and Chelsea’s famous (infamous?) Champions League rivalry? The head-to-head is here on the uefa.com website, starting in 04/05, with two gloriously goalless group matches following in the 05/06 campaign, and plenty more to come after that.
The runners and riders for the Champions League draw, which is coming up in half an hour. There are no seedings, it’s an open draw, so we could see some spicy Premier League on Premier League action, with three English teams in the hat:
Here we have 10 things to look out for this weekend. There is plenty going on:
José Mourinho was NOT HAPPY last night:
We’re 45 minutes away from the Champions League draw. This season’s final takes place in Istanbul on 29 May, which may give Liverpool a bit of extra motivation to make it there, given what happened back in in 2005. What are your hopes for the draw – Liverpool, Chelsea, Man City fans? You can email me, send a tweet or post BTL.
Can Illan Meslier of Leeds become the youngest goalie to keep 10 clean sheets in one Premier League season? Marcelo Bielsa’s side travel to London to meet Fulham tonight.
From the PA wire: Gemma Grainger has been appointed manager of the Wales women’s team on a four-year contract. Grainger, who spent 11 years working with the England women’s age group set-up as head coach of teams from under-15 to under-23 level, succeeds Jayne Ludlow, who left the position in January.
“I’m proud to become Cymru’s national team manager and I can’t wait for the challenge ahead,” Grainger said. “Every part of my career has been deliberate and thought out to build towards taking a senior team to a major tournament. It’s an exciting time for everyone and I’m looking forward to working with staff and players to fulfil everyone’s potential to go to the next level. It’s an opportunity for me and the players to write a new chapter and build on the story of women’s football in Wales.”
“I feel angry. It’s difficult to describe how I feel now because I know Glen and I trust him 100%. It’s extremely disappointing.”
Steven Gerrard reacts after Ondrej Kudela of Slavia Prague was accused of racism by Rangers’ Glen Kamara last night:
Here’s a story about a team that crashed out of Europe last night. Tottenham goalkeeper Hugo Lloris gave his teammates – and the wider club – both barrels after they crashed out of the Europa League against Dinamo Zagreb.
“I think we are all more than disappointed, it is just a disgrace,” Tottenham’s captain told BT Sport. “I just hope everyone in the changing room feels responsible for this situation because it is a disgrace … The taste of the defeat is more than painful and we are all responsible for that.”
We’re deep into the month of March, the clocks are about to change and the weather is steadily warming up: that can only mean one thing – the Business End™ of the football season is fast approaching. Today’s Friday Football Countdown™ is an action-packed affair with draws for the Champions League and Europa League, plus the build-up to the FA Cup quarter-finals, four Premier League games, the Football League programme, and a look at what’s in store in European leagues.
The Champions League draw, live from Nyon in Switzerland, begins at 11am (all times GMT). Once the pleasantries are out of the way, there will be three Premier League teams in the hat: Chelsea, Liverpool, and Manchester City. Bayern Munich, Borussia Dortmund, Paris Saint-Germain, Porto and Real Madrid are the other contenders.
Arsenal and Manchester United are vying for Europa League honours along with Dinamo Zagreb (who dumped Spurs out last night), Ajax, Slavia Prague, Granada, Roma and Villarreal, and that draw begins at 12pm.
Bournemouth v Southampton (12.15pm tomorrow), Everton v Manchester City (5.30pm tomorrow), Chelsea v Sheffield United (Sunday 1.30pm) and Leicester v Manchester United (5pm Sunday) are the FA Cup clashes on the menu.
As if that wasn’t enough excitement for one weekend there are four PL fixtures: Fulham v Leeds tonight, Brighton v Newcastle tomorrow, and Aston Villa v Tottenham and West Ham v Arsenal on Sunday. Birmingham City begin life post-Aitor Karanka with Lee Bowyer at the helm against Watford at 3pm tomorrow.