Australia v Pakistan Test Series Betting

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Before a ball has been bowled in the Australia v Pakistan two-Test series, Babar Azam has been talked up as rivalling Steve Smith and Virat Kohli for greatest batsman on the planet. Nothing quite stirs our interest like a player being ludicrously over or undervalued, so we thought it worth investigating.

Hussey gets carried away

Mike Hussey, not normally one for hyperbole or attention-seeking statements, was the man who made the call. The former Australia Test batsman was rather taken with the 157 Babar stroked against Australia A in a warm-up this week. No doubt, so were many punters. But Hussey seems to have got carried away.

“I honestly believe this guy can be in the same conversation when we start talking about the best players in the world,” Hussey said. “We start talking about (Virat) Kohli, Steve Smith, Kane Williamson, Joe Root gets floated around.

“I think if he can start putting together some big hundreds like this in the Test arena, he's that good … he's a brilliant, brilliant player.”

Perhaps the real clue as to how serious we should take Hussey's view was the mention of Root, a man who would have cost you more than £1,000 to ten-pound level stakes on the top bat markets over the last couple of years and whose form has fallen off a cliff.

Comparison to Kohli and Smith is, to put it mildly, premature when it comes to Babar who is primarily a one-day player hoping to make the transition to the toughest level. Babar is a God when it comes to T20 cricket. He is the best in the world and in terms of top-bat wins, has the greatest hit rate ever seen of 55%. Yet even in ODI, where he also gets top billing, he has been put in the shade by the bespectacled Imam-ul-Haq.

The point is, as Jason Roy found out (we can do unfair comparison, too, if not slightly more relevant), one-day hitters can be found in Poundland. Test runmakers are rare curiosities which cannot just be picked off a shelf.

Babar must improve Test average before comparisons with greats

Babar, 25, has played 21 Tests and has not busted the all-important 40 mark for average yet. To make it to the top table he is going to have to add at least 15 on to the mark to make Hussey some sort of Nostradamus.

We're not saying he is not going to do it but the notion that Pakistan come into the two-Test series boasting a run machine who can bridge the gulf between his team which is rated at 6s and an opposition at 1/4 is fanciful. It not only gives a false impression to punters but might add to unnecessary pressure to a man finding his way.

Sportsbook also seem to have been swayed. They go 2/1 about Babar top scoring in Brisbane from Thursday, a price that sometimes Kohli doesn't even get as small as. And one that Smith didn't frequent that often until his glorious Ashes summer. Smith, by the way, is 6/4. There is no evidence that Babar should be rated as highly. He has four wins in his career.

There is no doubt that Babar can play. The booming off-drives played in that practice match in Perth reverberated around social media. He has the stamp of quality from the naked eye. Watch him and you will spot that every movement is effortless, fluster free. He has all the time in the world to choose his shot and pick his spot.

There will be times, in surely a lengthy and run-laden career, that Babar will toy with bowlers and betting him for runs and watching him get them could rank as one of life's more joyous past-times. This was also said of the likes of Mark Waugh, Michael Vaughan or Ian Bell. All three possessed cover drives like honey falling from a spoon.

Will Babar attain world-beating consistency?

Strokemakers, though, rarely have consistent periods of domination. They don't manage to put down daddy hundreds Test after Test, like a Smith or Kohli because they have a foible which makes them vulnerable. They like the sound of their own bat on ball, too much and play one shot too many. It was why Vaughan, before arriving in Tests, didn't have an average of more 40 or more in first-class.

Babar, who has played the majority of his career at numbers five and six, could well mature into that type of player and fingers are crossed for Pakistan that he does. They need another Younis Khan or Mohammad Yousuf, who, actually, in his fledgling career had the sort of flair that Babar shows before hiding away some strokes in the locker.

One man who could trump Babar is Azhar Ali, the captain. Those with decent memories will recall is 406-run haul in three matches in Australia in 2016-17. He goes off at 7/2 for top bat in the first innings and has six wins in 21.

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How to Get your Free Bets on William Hill? (Updated November 2019)

You will learn How to Get your Free Bets on William Hill in this article. The Bonus is currently worth £30 in Free Bets (November 2019).

William Hill sign up offer

Key Terms of the William Hill Free Bet: New William Hill online customers only. Minimum unit stake of £10/€10 at odds of 1/2 or greater is required. Only the “win” part from E/W bets will count. Free bet terms, payment method & country restrictions apply. Free bets are credited as 3 x £10/€10. The Free bet stakes are not returned as part of the settlement of successful free bets. All Free Bets must be wagered within 30 days.

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Football gossip: Sancho, Rose, Guardiola, Willian, Koeman, Silva

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Borussia Dortmund winger Jadon Sancho wants to leave the German side, with Premier League leaders Liverpool among the clubs showing interest in the 19-year-old England international. (Mail)

Tottenham Hotspur's England left-back Danny Rose, 29, has vowed to run down the final 18 months of his contract after being told by the club that he will not be given a new deal. (London Evening Standard)

Spurs fear 27-year-old Denmark midfielder Christian Eriksen, and Belgian defenders Jan Vertonghen, 32 and Toby Alderweireld, 30, will follow the same course of action as Rose and leave on free transfers at the end of their deals next summer. (Star)

Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola is thought to be unhappy in the north-west of England and the Spaniard is being linked with a return to Bundesliga champions Bayern Munich. (Bild – in German)

Chelsea's Brazil winger Willian, whose contract at Stamford Bridge is due to expire next summer, is a target for Juventus and Barcelona, and they could try to sign the 31-year-old on a pre-contract deal in January. (Mirror)

Inter Milan boss Antonio Conte is keen to sign Chelsea striker Olivier Giroud in January. The 33-year-old France international's contract with the Blues runs out next summer. (Gazzetta dello Sport, via Express)

Netherlands boss Ronald Koeman says there is a possibility of him taking the Barcelona job after Euro 2020. (Marca)

Arsenal, Liverpool and Manchester United are all monitoring West Brom's 16-year-old English forward Jovan Malcolm. (Mirror)

Manchester City's David Silva, 33, is in line to join 35-year-old fellow Spanish midfielder Andrés Iniesta at Japanese club Vissel Kobe once his contract at Etihad Stadium expires at the end of the Premier League season. (Mail)

City could activate the buyout clause of Real Sociedad's Spain forward Mikel Oyarzabal, 22, in the summer if Germany winger Leroy Sané leaves for Bayern Munich. (90min)

Bayern look set to return with a fresh bid for Sané after a serious knee injury prevented them moving for the 23-year-old in the summer. (Mail)

Napoli could be forced to sell 28-year-old Senegal defender Kalidou Koulibaly, who has been linked with Manchester United, and 32-year-old Belgium forward Dries Mertens, who is thought to be a target for Arsenal, for cut-price fees after a poor start to the season. (Ilmattino – in Italian)

Arsenal are monitoring Stuttgart's Belgium Under-21 midfielder Orel Mangala, 21. (HLN, via Express)

Leicester City are being linked with a January move for Metz's 24-year-old Senegal forward Habibou Diallo. (Leicester Mercury)

Former England captain David Beckham has been ringing players he wants to recruit for his Inter Miami team. Barcelona's 32-year-old Uruguay striker Luis Suárez, Real Madrid's Colombia playmaker James Rodríguez, 28, and Paris St-Germain's Uruguay forward Edinson Cavani, 32, have all been linked with the new Major League Soccer side. (Sun)

Manchester United have a buy-back clause to re-sign Memphis Depay, with Lyon contractually obliged to inform them of any offer received for the 25-year-old Netherlands forward. (Mirror)

Juventus sporting director Fabio Paratici has been spotted in Manchester, with rumours of a swap deal involving Manchester United's 26-year-old France midfielder Paul Pogba and the Italian giants' Croatian forward Mario Mandžukić, 33. (Talksport)

Head of recruitment John Marshall says it is unlikely Wolves will revive their interest in AC Milan's Ivory Coast midfielder Franck Kessié, 22, in January. (Birmingham Mail)

Manchester City – in the wake of their 3-1 defeat by Liverpool – are the latest club to write to referees' boss Mike Riley over concerns about the VAR system. (Times – subscription required)

Arsenal's head of football, Raul Sanllehi, is against a move by chairman Sir Chips Keswick to appoint former Gunners defender David O'Leary as a football consultant. (Mail)


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How popular was Chelsea before Roman Abramovich’s takeover?

How popular was Chelsea before Roman Abramovich’s takeover?

Frank Lampard – Chelsea Legend and current manager of Chelsea FC.

How popular was Chelsea before Roman Abramovich's takeover?. If one were to consider England, yes, they had a strong, vociferous and sometimes violent support bases in certain boroughs of London and splattered in small numbers elsewhere over the country.

The enormous popularity of the teams like Liverpool and Manchester United even before the advent of largescale worldwide TV coverage, the internet and the social media could be attributed to the incredible success of these teams over the decades.

Chelsea's Trophies Record

Chelsea was relatively a less successful club and have not too many major achievements to show. Although they were once among the top six Premier League clubs for seven seasons in a row before 2003, they have only one PL title in the 1954-55 season to boast of.

They were in an out of the second division where they managed just two titles, in 1983–84 and 1988–89.

A FA Cup title in 1970 when they prevailed over the formidable Leeds United was among the most crowning moments of the South West London club.

Chelsea Fans the Good, Bad and Ugly

Despite the club's not so extraordinary feats in the previous millennium, Stamford Bridge was able to garner extraordinary one-day attendances earlier years of the century with 50,018 being recorded in 1920, 72,805 in 1921 and 53,000 in 1923.

Chelsea fell into serious financial problems in the 60s and 70s that witnessed selling of players and general deterioration of the team on all fronts.

Moreover, Stamford Bridge was associated with very unruly crowds, especially in the 70s, where fans of away teams needed to think twice before attending a game at the venue.

Chelsea fans were involved in…many incidents of violence, vandalism and general mayhem with tabloids having a field time covering the same.

At Luton Town, Chelsea supporters invaded the pitch, smashed shop windows on their way back to Luton station and then set light to their Football Special, resulting in over 100 arrests.

In 1976–77, both League matches against Millwall, another club with a notorious hooligan element among their support, were marred by crowd violence.

The hooliganism prompted Minister for Sport Denis Howell to ban Chelsea fans from away matches in April 1977. Despite that, almost 10,000 Chelsea fans defied the ban and travelled to the following match against Wolverhampton Wanderers – speak of fanatical support.

Unruly as they may be, few can question the love and loyalty of the Chelsea fans.

Stamford Bridge Rescue

When the club was served notice to quit Stamford Bridge in the wake of a bitter battle between owners Ken Bates and Marler Estates in 1997, Chelsea Pitch Owners, a non-profit organisation owned by the fans purchased the freehold of the stadium, the club's naming rights and the pitch to ensure that property developers could never again try to purchase Stamford Bridge.

Following this, work was undertaken to renovate the entire stadium, making it an all-seater venue and bringing the stands closer to the pitch and under cover, all of which was finally completed by 2000.

The Glory Years

For Blues fans, 1954-55 was probably the most glorious season when everything for the club seemed to fall into place.

The team found a consistency rate not previously seen as they unexpectedly won the First Division title. The side included goalkeeper Charlie ‘Chic' Thomson, amateur players Derek Saunders and Jim Lewis, central midfielder Johnny “Jock” McNichol, wingers Eric “Rabbit” Parsons and Frank Blunstone, defender Peter Sillett and future England manager Ron Greenwood in central defence.

Old club stalwarts, right back Ken Armstrong, left-back Stan Willemse and veteran defender John Harris, the only genuine star in the side being England international Roy Bentley the captain and top-scorer with 21 league goals made up the rest.

But the season turned out to be a flash in the pan as Chelsea slipped back into their mediocre ways and the directionless decades of the 60s, 70s, 80s followed until the summer of 1995 when Bates and millionaire director Matthew Harding started making money available for the club.

Chelsea supporters had reason to cheer as two world-famous players, Dutch legend Ruud Gullit, on a free transfer from Sampdoria and Manchester United striker Mark Hughes was signed in for £1.5 million, both of whom were instrumental in the club's successes to follow.

Gullit was appointed player-manager for the 1996–97 season and added several top-class players to the side, including European Cup-winning Juventus striker Gianluca Vialli, French defender Frank Leboeuf and Italian internationals Gianfranco Zola (a Chelsea great) and Roberto Di Matteo, Uruguayan midfielder Gus Poyet and Norwegian “super-sub” Tore Andre Flo.

Fans were over the moon as the London club saw their best years in almost a century – 2 FA Cup wins, one in 1997-98 and another one in 1999-2000, a runners-up slot in the UEFA Cup Winners Cup in 1997-98 and quite sensationally the title winners of UEFA Super Cup in 1998.

But the honeymoon did not last long for Chelsea's followers as Gullit was sacked in 1998 and club once again meandered from one crisis to another.

Performance levels dropped backed to original levels as managers and players were replaced in a flurry. All this was in the backdrop of the severe financial straits the owner Bates found himself in.

Abramovich Buys the Club

With the club facing an apparent monetary crisis, Bates unexpectedly sold Chelsea F.C. in June 2003 for £60 million to Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich and the rest is history.

Four Premier League titles, 5 FA Cups and UEFA Champions League winners in 2011-12 is a testimony to what big money can bring about.

With Roman Abramovich's takeover of the club, Chelsea have become one of the biggest football clubs not just in Europe but among the best-known names in world football.

With success on the field, fan bases sprung up in faraway China, Japan, India, Thailand and Indonesia and continue to flourish till this day.

Chelsea Fans Song

But this does not take away anything from the handful of die-hard Chelsea fans of yesteryears who stuck to their club through thick and thin, a spirit well-embodied in one of their more famous tradition club chants from the 80s:

Carefree, wherever we may be
We are the famous CFC
And we don't give a f**k
Whoever you may be
‘Cause we are the famous CFC


Greatwood Hurdle 2019 tips and betting preview by Timeform

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The Greatwood Hurdle won't have a maximum field this year (24) with only 19 entered at the five-day stage, but it is still a typically open renewal, an opinion that the ante-post betting market mirrors, with bookmakers generally going 13/2 the field.

Paul Nicholls has won the Greatwood with a pair of four-year-olds this century – Brampour in 2011 and Old Guard in 2015 – and Red Force One and Quel Destin are a couple from that age group who could go well for their trainer in this year's renewal. The latter was prolific as a juvenile last season, winning five of his seven starts for this yard, and proved at least as good as ever when picking up a valuable prize over this C&D on his return last month. The handicapper has taken no chances with his opening mark, though, and it is a slight concern that all his wins in this country have come in single-figure fields. He is therefore passed over at the prices.

Red Force One is a Flat bred – he was useful in that sphere when trained by Tom Dascombe – and doesn't have as much scope as some of the National Hunt types he will face here, but he showed himself to be on a fair mark when chasing home Gumball in a useful handicap at Ascot last time. Admittedly, he looked held at the last, but he was closing on the idling winner all the way to the line and you would imagine this stiffer finish will play to his strengths, so he makes the most appeal of the Nicholls pair.

Philip Hobbs has also tasted success in this race in the past, with the first of his four wins coming courtesy of subsequent Champion Hurdle winner Rooster Booster in 2002. The aforementioned Gumball and Zanza are his two representatives in this year's renewal. The former was value for much more than the neck winning margin at Ascot last time, well in command between the last two flights before idling badly close home. A subsequent 8 lb rise in the weights is workable and on paper this race isn't that much deeper, so another bold show is expected.

Zanza makes plenty of appeal from a handicapping perspective, having escaped a penalty for his win in a conditional riders' event at Newbury last week, and he was also value for extra than the winning margin, too. He left his disappointing reappearance run at Chepstow behind in no uncertain terms, having to weave his way through from the back of a clustered field, but responding well to his rider's urgings and ultimately well on top in the final 100 yards. It is hard to argue with his strike rate over hurdles and he is another who can't be ruled out.

Leading owner J. P. McManus has three horses entered at this stage, namely Countister, Dame de Compagnie and Project Bluebook. The last-named was well backed on his return to this sphere at Wetherby last month and was in the process of running well before departing the race in bizarre circumstances, still going strongly on the bridle in front when his rider took the wrong course two flights from home. He looked sure to play a hand in the finish and usually gives a good account in races of this type, for all he does find winning hard.

The most interesting one amongst McManus' trio, however, is the Nicky Henderson-trained Dame de Compagnie. She was sent off the odds-on favourite for the Supreme Trial at this meeting two years ago after making a good impression on her British debut, and, for all she proved disappointing on that occasion – beaten by the subsequent Supreme Novices' Hurdle winner Summerville Boy – she proved herself a potentially smart type when winning a listed mares' event over two and a half miles here on her final start that season. Admittedly, she has a 577-day absence to overcome now, which is far from ideal, but she could hardly be in better hands and could prove this opening mark all wrong.

Benny's Bridge is the ante-post favourite at the time of writing following his impressive reappearance win over this C&D at the Showcase meeting last month. That was his second win in as many starts at this course, so he is clearly suited by the demands that Cheltenham brings, and it was notable how strong he was at the finish that day having been ridden confidently throughout. The handicapper has reacted accordingly by raising him 10 lb in the weights, but there could still be more to come from him and Fergal O'Brien has been a profitable trainer to follow at this meeting over the past five years, recording a level-stakes profit of 24.29 at Betfair SP.

Others to mention include Monsieur Lecoq, who was generally progressive in his novice campaign – winning twice before an excellent second in the Imperial Cup and an eye-catching run in the County Hurdle – and proved better than ever on his return from seven months off when winning the Welsh Champion Hurdle at Chepstow in October. Still young and lightly raced, he may do even better in this sphere and is another who commands respect.

In summary, this is typically a hard race to weigh up, with several potentially still ahead of their marks, and it therefore may be worth going out on a limb with Dame de Compagnie. Indeed, there is some element of risk with her having not been seen for so long, but Nicky Henderson reported her to have worked very well last weekend and she could prove a mark in the low 130s all wrong now making her handicap debut.


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Republic of Ireland v New Zealand

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Republic of Ireland v New Zealand
Thursday November 14, 19:45
Live On Sky Sports Football

A form student's nightmare

Thursday's international friendly between Republic of Ireland and New Zealand is a bit of a test for those punters who concentrate on recent form.

Mick McCarthy has promised to reshuffle his entire side with Monday's Euro 2020 decider with Denmark in mind.

Indeed, he has suggested that only one or two players that feature in this match have a realistic prospect of involvement in a game that Ireland must win to qualify for next summer's finals.

Meanwhile, New Zealand are playing their first match in almost a year-and-a-half, a product of their unusual status as the top dog in Oceania which means there are long breaks in the early stage of the World Cup cycle.

When they last played a senior international game, Martin O'Neill was in charge of Ireland and Declan Rice was the next big thing.

A fair bit of water has passed under the bridge since then but McCarthy will use this distraction from the Danish homework to give a debut to a homegrown talent that will almost certainly be around for the long haul.

Parrott's audition

Tottenham Hotspur teenager Troy Parrott has generated a buzz at club level this term and the 17-year-old made a competitive first team debut against Colchester in September having impressed in high-level pre-season friendlies.

Mauricio Pochettino hasn't had much scope for experimentation since then but Parrott did make the bench for the Premier League clash with Everton in the absence of Harry Kane and that was enough to generate more headlines in Ireland where there is a desperate desire for an Irish player to genuinely break through with a top club.

The central striker has been compared with Robbie Keane, which are big boots to fill in an international context. Parrott has different attributes, as he's regarded as quite big for his age but he also has an ability on the ball that has wowed teammates. He's got an eye for goal but he may not be as predatory as Keane, the Irish assistant coach who has worked with him in training.

McCarthy has confirmed he will start through the middle of a 4-3-3. Robbie Brady, who does have a point to prove with Denmark in mind, likely comes in on the right side. There will also be a debut for Celtic's Lee O'Connor at right full and a first Irish start for Shamrock Rovers midfielder Jack Byrne in the centre of the park. He impressed as a sub in September's win over Bulgaria. The plan was to use Brighton's Aaron Connolly on the left but he misses out through injury. Stoke's James McClean is one of the most durable members of the Ireland squad but it might still be considered a risk to use him. Bristol City's Sean Maguire is a possible contender.

Either way, this will be an Irish side that has never played together before – taking on a side that hasn't played in a long time. In that context, it would be a risk to get massively involved in the final outcome and the [1.59] for a home win might just be on the short side given the unknowns that exist.

New Zealand are a modest enough side but they do have Premier League players such as Winston Reid and Chris Wood and their media are indicating this fixture is a big deal for them after a long hiatus. There could be trading potential in laying Ireland – although it must be acknowledged that the All-Whites haven't beaten a European team since 2010 – but the best bets are elsewhere here.

Goalscoring possibilities

It might come down to fine margins and set pieces against the Danes and a look at the stats would urge backers to lean towards the Unders in scoring markets in Republic of Ireland games.

However, their friendly matches tend to be different, particularly at the Aviva, where the game can really open up on the wide pitch if there isn't a competitive intensity. Ireland defeated Bulgaria 3-1 in September in McCarthy's first friendly of the year and it's entirely plausible this match could take on a similar personality. The [1.8] for Over 2.5 Goals is likely to trade at a more attractive price closer to the off and it's a bet in either scenario. Indeed, it's possible that the [3.0] about Over 3.5 could pay off too although it might be worth to sit and wait through the opening minutes before playing.

Set piece angle

For a fun angle on this match, Sportsbook have priced up the goalscoring markets and a little knowledge can go a long way here. Rovers midfielder Byrne is an exceptional threat from dead balls and he made an instant impact against Bulgaria by sending in a corner that was dispatched by the head of Kevin Long. It's worth considering the service he offers in the first and last goalscorer markets as there will be inviting crosses for the taller Irish players to attack. The returning Ciaran Clark and Long are likely to feature in central defence although they can both operate on the left of the two. It's 14/1 about Clark to break the deadlock or have the last word and 25/1 about Long for same.

Considering the duo are almost certain to play the full 90 – unlike most of the others who will start – then it's worth spreading stakes and dabbling in this department.


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England’s 1,000 games: Your England all-time XI revealed

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Gordon Banks or Peter Shilton? Bobby Moore or Terry Butcher? Gary Lineker or Wayne Rooney?

England's men play their 1,000th match when they face Montenegro on 14 November, and to mark the occasion we asked you to pick your all-time Three Lions XI.

Over 147 years, 19 managers have selected 1,244 players, but through consultation with a collection of BBC Sport's finest football minds, we narrowed it down to 53 of the best from which you could choose.

We had over 126,000 submissions and you can see information about the team you selected below.

The results were discussed in a special programme on BBC Radio 5 Live on Wednesday.

You can still select your own XI for fun using the selector at the bottom of this page, but your choices will not count towards the final results.

GOALKEEPER

Gordon Banks Career span: (1963-72). Caps/goals: 73/0. Major tournaments (in squad) World Cups (WC) 66, 70. European Championships (EU) 68.

World Cup winner who kept 35 clean sheets for England and made ‘that' save from Pele. Named Fifa goalkeeper of the year six years in a row from 1966 onwards.

Teams selected in: 61%

DEFENDERS

Gary Neville (1995-2007) 85/0. WC 98, 06. EU 96, 00, 04.

At home in a back three in his early career or more regularly at right-back, and was first choice for more than a decade. England's finest right-back? You clearly think so.

Teams selected in: 42%

Rio Ferdinand (1997-2011) 81/2. WC 98, 02, 06, 10

Was the youngest defender to play for England when he made his debut in 1997, one of only three players to be named in four World Cup squads but never played at a Euros – he sat out Euro 2004 after missing a drugs test.

Teams selected in: 41%

Bobby Moore (1962-73) 108/2. WC 62, 66, 70. EU 68

An icon. Was England's youngest captain at the age of 22 and went on to lead the team on 90 occasions – a record shared with Billy Wright. Lifted the World Cup at Wembley in 1966.

Teams selected in: 78%

Ashley Cole (2001-14). 107/0. WC 02, 06, 10. EU 04, 12

No outfield player has played more times for England without scoring – the left-back was truly world class for the majority of his time in the white shirt. Only Peter Shilton has played in more World Cup finals games for the Three Lions.

Teams selected in: 58%

MIDFIELDERS

David Beckham (1996-2009). 115/17. WC 98, 02, 06. EU 00, 04.

Went from the ignominy of being sent off in France in 1998 to carrying England to the next World Cup virtually single-handed. Scored in three World Cups – the first Englishman to do so. Captain on 59 occasions which puts him fourth on the overall list.

Teams selected in: 50%

Bobby Charlton (1958-70). 106/49. WC 58, 62, 66, 70. EU 68.

One of three men to be picked in four World Cup squads and was England's record appearance holder and goalscorer when he retired after the 1970 World Cup. Made his England debut two months after surviving the Munich air disaster – won the Ballon d'Or in 1966.

Teams selected in: 61%

Paul Gascoigne (1988-98) 57/10. WC 90. EU 96.

The best player of his generation? ‘Gazza' was a genuine superstar who captured a nation's hearts in 1990. Only played in two tournaments and lost a semi-final in a shootout to German opposition in both. Iconic player who scored one of England's finest ever goals against Scotland in 1996.

Teams selected in: 50%

FORWARDS

Jimmy Greaves (1959-67) 57/44. WC 62, 66

Scored on his debut at the age of 19 and barely stopped – firing six hat-tricks during his career. Injured during the 1966 World Cup and lost his place to Geoff Hurst for the final. Was England's top scorer when he stopped playing and is only behind Wayne Rooney, Bobby Charlton and Gary Lineker to this day.

Teams selected in: 40%

Gary Lineker (1984-92) 80/48. WC 86, 90. EU 88, 92

Golden Boot winner at the 1986 World Cup, where he scored a hat-trick against Poland, and scored four more in Italy four years later. His World Cup total of 10 goals is only bettered by seven players in history. Ended his career one goal shy of Bobby Charlton's record and is now third on the nation's all-time scoring list. The oldest player to score a hat-trick for England.

Teams selected in: 58%

Alan Shearer (1992-2000) 63/30. WC 98. EU 92, 96, 00

Scored on his debut alongside Gary Lineker and on his final appearance alongside Michael Owen. Captained England at his only World Cup and was top scorer at Euro 96.

Teams selected in: 47%

SUBSTITUTES

These are the players who narrowly missed out on your XI and the percentage of teams they were selected in…

Steven Gerrard (39%), Wayne Rooney (35%), Bryan Robson (28%), Stuart Pearce (28%), Peter Shilton (27%), Paul Scholes (27%), John Terry (24%), Tony Adams (24%), Stanley Matthews (20%).

All stats correct as of 10 November 2019.


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Toulouse to challenge for trophy

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Saracens face challenging trophy defence

Saracens won their third Champions Cup after defeating Leinster in last season's final but the holders face an uncertain future which is likely to hinder their defence. The Premiership champions received a bombshell last week after being handed a 35-point penalty and £5.36m fine for breaching salary cap rules. Saracens have appealed the decision, which means it is currently suspended, but a huge shadow hangs over the club.

Last season's double winners have an exceptional squad full of internationals but their focus could switch to avoiding relegation if the domestic points punishment is upheld. This applies immense pressure on their shoulders and Saracens were already placed in a demanding pool. Two-times champions Munster are always a threat while Racing 92 have no shortage of talent so qualification is no certainty. With all the problems off the pitch, Saracens look one to swerve and there is no appeal in backing the [3.7] second favourites.

Leinster short enough in outright market

Leinster are the team to beat, according to the Betfair Exchange, with the Irish giants a consistent contender in the European competition. The 2018 victory was their fourth success in the tournament and Leinster remain a major threat for the Champions Cup. Their defeat last season, which was the first time they have lost in a final, will only intensify their motivation to go all the way this year.

Leo Cullen's side have been given a more favourable draw than Saracens and their route through to the knockout stages looks pretty secure. Northampton are improving but still have plenty to prove against Leinster while Benetton and Lyon should not pose a major problem to them. Leinster merit their status as favourites although odds of [3.05] look short enough to win a season-long competition.

Toulouse have the talent to contend

Toulouse are the most successful team in the competition's history and the French club have a strong chance of contending for a fifth triumph this season. Admittedly their last win came in 2010 but there have been signs Toulouse are ready to return to the summit of European rugby. A run to the semi-finals in the last campaign was encouraging and this young side can improve on that this year.

The Top 14 champions will be targeting success in Europe and have a mixture of world class players and emerging talent which could prove an unstoppable combination. World Cup winner Cheslin Kolbe provides a potent finisher in the backline while the likes of full-back Thomas Ramos, scrum-half Antoine Dupont and fly-half Romain Ntamack hint at a bright future for both France and Toulouse.

kolbe toulouse.jpg

Toulouse have every chance of topping their group and securing an advantageous home route to the final in Marseille. Gloucester are seen as the biggest threat to them but Toulouse should have the edge over the Premiership side. Montpellier will hold no fears for them either while Connacht are not expected to challenge for qualification to the knockout stages. Toulouse look the best bet at 7/1 to win the Champions Cup, with an each way bet paying a third of the odds if they reach the final.

Exeter overdue success in Europe

Exeter have failed to translate their domestic consistency into a significant challenge in Europe, with just one quarter-final place in six campaigns. It will be a source of frustration for Rob Baxter although the Chiefs should progress from their pool this year. Exeter are clear favourites to win the group with Glasgow Warriors seen as their closest challengers. Sale may struggle to qualify while La Rochelle are also outsiders to progress. However Exeter do not appeal at 10/1 with plenty still to prove in the Champions Cup.

Clermont Auvergne are widely expected to top their pool, as they return to the competition after winning the European Challenge Cup last season. Ulster could give them their toughest competition with Premiership sides Bath and Harlequins both struggling for consistency. Clermont should progress, although the three-times finalists could fall short again and rivals Toulouse rate the strongest French contender this season.

Follow Simon's bets on Twitter @watfordtipster




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Donald Mcain’s charge Chti Balko is weighted to win this

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As the rain continues to fall around the country Alan Thompson thinks he has two interesting runners at Bangor…

Conditions won't be a problem for Chti Balko

14:55 Bangor – Chti Balko

Chti Balko looks of interest here, his last two wins have come on absolutely bottomless ground at Haydock and he is now 15lb better off than he was December last year. His last start at Ffos Las is likely to have blown away the cobwebs for Donald McCain‘s seven-year-old after a 224 day break following wind surgery and he looks handicapped to win again soon. The only concern is the trip as he is yet to win beyond two miles but in the past when he has gone further five of his six runs were off marks in the mid to high 140's. On this ground, off this mark in a tough Class 2 handicap, I think he is worth taking a chance with.

The favourite is going to be the last time out winner The Wolf for Olly Murphy, the well bred five-year-old got off the mark at the first attempt for his new yard when running out an easy 17 length winner at Fakenham last month. However, this is significantly tougher, and the concern is that he has to prove his suitability for these conditions. He could well be a very decent type but at these odds and the uncertainty of the ground I'm happy to oppose him.

Commodore goes well fresh and can land a hat-trick

13:50 Bangor – Commodore

Venetia Williams' striking grey seven-year-old Commodore is bidding for a hat-trick of wins albeit eight months after his last win at Sandown over three miles on soft ground. Prior to that, he won at Warwick again over three miles in testing conditions, and that was after a 249 day break following a wind operation. The Williams team are in good form and I suspect the gelding will go well after another long break, a repeat of the jumping performances he displayed on those last two starts would see him hard to beat here despite being raised 13lbs after that latest success.

If I was looking for one to fill the places it would be Arthurs Gift ahead of I just Know, the former is from the in form Nigel Twiston-Davies yard and justified favouritism to score at Carlisle in February but then finished pulled up in the Midlands Grand National afterwards. He is entitled to strip fitter with last month's comeback run now under his belt, where he finished fifth of eight after again being sent off favourite. He will need to improve again if he is to defy his current mark and I don't see him getting the better of Commodore today.


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Football Bet of the Day: Nothing super about Nova

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We're heading to Brazil, because Kev's found a relegation battle where the hosts are too short for the win.

Guarani to boost survival hopes

Vila Nova v Guarani
Wednesday 13 November, 22:15

As it turned out, it wasn't quite as painful in Paraguay as we'd hoped. A 2-1 win for River Plate Asuncion at Sportivo Luqueno ruined our Under 2.5 Goals bet, and so we have to dust ourselves down and try again, just like Aaliyah once told us to.

We'll head to Brazil for some second-tier action. Vila Nova are deep in relegation danger as they face Guarani, who have given themselves some breathing space after a relatively decent run of form.

Vila Nova haven't won a home game in the league since June, and since then they have drawn eight and lost five at the Estadio Onesio Brasileiro Alvarenga. Overall, they have collected just five points from their last nine matches, and their last win in the second tier was back in late September, when they won 1-0 at Londrina. They have scored more than once in just one of their last ten outings, and they are second from bottom in the standings.

Guarani are 14th in the division, five points clear of the dropzone. They have lost just one of their last four matches, and if you stretch back further they have won eight of their last 16 games in the league. They aren't far enough clear of trouble to be able to relax, and they have only lost three of their last seven away games in Serie B.

Vila Nova seem too short to me at [2.24], so I'll back Guarani Draw No Bet here at [2.94]. If you want to be more conservative, you could always back Draw and Away in the Double Chance market at [1.77].


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Sam Kerr: Australia international joins WSL leaders Chelsea

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Sam Kerr captained Australia at the Women's World Cup this summer

Australia striker Sam Kerr, widely regarded as one of the best strikers in the world, has joined Women's Super League leaders Chelsea.

She is the all-time leading scorer in the Australian and American leagues.

Kerr has signed a two-and-a-half-year deal and is available for the second half of the season from January.

“The fact she chose Chelsea when she could have gone to any club in the world is a testament to the players and the staff here,” said boss Emma Hayes.

The former Chicago Red Stars and Perth Glory star scored five goals at the World Cup this summer, leading Australia to the last 16.

Kerr said: “The WSL is the best league in Europe. I want team success and I don't want it to come easy.

“I feel Chelsea have been building something special over the years and I want to be a part of that – I want to lift some trophies.”

Chelsea fought off interest from a number of top European clubs including six-time Champions League winners Lyon, Bayern Munich and Real Madrid.

“Sam has proved time and time again in the NWSL that she is a prolific goalscorer,” Hayes added. “She's won the golden boot many times and she's a player that can make things happen, but she's also a fantastic team player.

“She saw this is the best place for her to grow and take the next step in her career. That's a wonderful compliment to us all.”

Kerr is the ninth player from Australia to play in England, following in the footsteps of the likes of Emily Gielnik (Liverpool), Tanya Oxtoby (Doncaster Belles) and Caitlin Friend (Notts County).

On Monday, Australia's Optus Sport signed a three-year deal with exclusive live rights for the WSL, and will broadcast around 50 matches a season in Kerr's home country.

Why was Kerr in demand?

There are not many players who can outscore Kerr.

She dominated the Australian W-League, which she featured in from October-April with Perth Glory, and the National Women's Soccer League in the US, where she played for Chicago Red Stars from April-September.

Her 70 goals in the W-League are an all-time record and she has finished as top scorer for two successive seasons.

Kerr also tops the all-time charts in the NWSL with 69 goals and picked up the Golden Boot for three years in a row – her latest tally of 18 being the highest in a single campaign.

Sam Kerr's stats for Chicago Red Stars
Year Games Goals Assists
2019 21 18 5
2018 20 16 4
2017 22 17 4
2016 9 5 0

She scored 44% of Chicago Red Stars' total number of goals this season and finished fifth in the league with five assists – after getting 17 goals in 13 appearances for Perth Glory last season.

On the international stage she is just as good.

With 38 goals in 83 appearances, Kerr sits fourth in the all-time standings. The only player still active with more goals is Australia co-captain Lisa de Vanna (47) who plays for Italian side Fiorentina.

Why has she chosen Chelsea?

‘Sam Kerr has scored them all' – Aussie superstar hits four

While Kerr has proven herself in the NWSL and the W-League, she is yet to test herself among Europe's elite and that might have been a factor in her exclusion from recent player awards.

Many of the best players in the world, including Ballon d'Or winner Ada Hegerberg and Uefa Player of the Year Lucy Bronze, are competing in the Champions League with their clubs.

Chelsea reached the semi-finals of the competition last year, but finished third in the WSL, meaning they missed out on qualification this year.

They are currently top of the league, a point above champions Arsenal after five games.

BBC Sport has launched #ChangeTheGame to showcase female athletes in a way they never have been before. Through more live women's sport available to watch across the BBC in 2019, complemented by our journalism, we are aiming to turn up the volume on women's sport and alter perceptions. Find out more here.


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Neil Taylor: Aston Villa defender withdraws from Wales squad

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Defender Neil Taylor has won 43 caps for Wales
Euro 2020 qualifier: Azerbaijan v Wales
Venue: Bakcell Arena, Baku Date: Saturday, 16 November Kick-off: 17:00 GMT
Coverage: Live on BBC Radio Wales, BBC Radio 5 Live, BBC Radio Cymru & updates on the BBC Sport website and BBC Sport app, plus live text commentary

Aston Villa full-back Neil Taylor has withdrawn from the Wales squad because of personal reasons.

Wales are already without injured Swansea City defender Joe Rodon for Saturday's Euro 2020 qualifier against Azerbaijan and the home game versus Hungary on 19 November.

But boss Ryan Giggs has Bournemouth's Chris Mepham fit for two games that Wales likely need to win to qualify.

Squad skipper Ashley Williams is also playing regularly for Bristol City.

Wales also have Juventus midfielder Aaron Ramsey fit for the first time in the current qualifying campaign, while Gareth Bale has trained with the squad despite not featuring recently for Real Madrid because of injury.


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Wednesday 13 November 2019 Horse Racing Tips

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Timeform pick out their best back, lay and smart stat bets on Wednesday…

“…he jumped superbly on both outings over fences…”

Timeform on Commodore

Back
De Name Evades Me – 14:35 Exeter

De Name Evades Me shaped encouragingly on his chase debut at Chepstow last month and the form is working out well (Truckers Lodge and Golden Sunrise have both been subsequent winners). He is entitled to improve on that comeback effort, looks well treated on his handicap chase debut and, with the Fergal O'Brien yard in red-hot form, he is worth siding with.

Lay
Not A Nail – 13:25 Exeter

Not A Nail shaped with promise when finishing third in a bumper at this course on debut but disappointed next time when beaten a long way at Ffos Las. He should be suited by this step up in trip on his hurdling debut, but there are plenty of other unexposed types in the race and he is worth opposing.

Smart Stat
Commodore – 13:50 Bangor

2 – Venetia Williams's number of winners in past 5 runnings

Commodore looks much better suited to chasing than hurdling and has won both starts over fences in impressive style. He jumped superbly on both outings over fences last term and looks likely to improve further. Venetia Williams has her stable in good form, has a fine record with horses returning from a break and there is every reason to think Commodore will go close.


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Who is the best player in Chelsea’s football history?

Who is the best player in Chelsea's football history?In 2002, when Italian forward Gianfranco Zola was voted the greatest ever player of Chelsea by the club's fans, they could not have foreseen the array of big stars churned out by the deep coffers of the Roman Abramovich era post 2003 – Frank Lampard, Didier Drogba, John Terry and Eden Hazard to name a few.

Come the 21st century with Chelsea's fan base growing worldwide coupled with the rapid proliferation of social media, the task of choosing a club great became easier and more accurate in some ways.

Frank Lampard

Who is the best player in Chelsea's football history?

The general consensus for the greatest player Chelsea player was on none other than their current manager and England international cap of 106 games, Frank Lampard.

Joining the Blues in 2001, much before Abramovich's advent, the then 23-year old London-born mid-fielder was signed in for a surprisingly lucrative £11 million considering the fluid times prevailing at Stamford Bridge…and in a couple of years the effects were there to see.

Chelsea finished second in the 2003–04 Premier League behind unbeaten “Invincibles” Arsenal, the club's best Premier League performance in fifty years.

Lampard notched up 10 goals in the PL season and came second behind the incredible French great and Arsenal champion Thierry Henry for the 2004 FWA Footballer of the Year award.

Lampard went on to become the greatest midfielder for Chelsea F.C. scoring 211 goals and making 611 appearances for the Blues.

Unlike most of the other great midfielders of his time, he did not have blistering pace, pinpoint passing abilities, mind-blowing ball skills or moves or even physical dominance. But what he offered was phenomenal consistency. He was consistent and he never compromised.

It was this quality more than the dazzling contributions of some of the other club greats that helped bag all the trophies on offer during his tenure at Chelsea.

These include 3 Premier Leagues, 4 FA Cups, 2 League Cups, the UEFA Champions League and the Europa League.
This is what probably makes him the best player in Chelsea's football history. No other player has bagged this many awards in his tenure with the club.

Lampard spent 13 seasons at Stamford Bridge until he had to leave when his contract expired in 2014.

Gianfranco Zola

Gianfranco Zola

But this takes nothing off the greatness of Gianfranco Zola who was handpicked by manager Ruud Gullit along with the likes of Frank Leboeuf, Roberto Di Matteo, Juventus striker Gianluca Vialli and Uruguayan Gus Poyet in 1996-97.

Zola exemplified that period when the club was fighting hard to a century long weight of under-par performances on the field and immense financial stress.

Signed for £4.5 million from Italian club Parma in 1996, Zola proved more than what he was worth for Chelsea.

The West London club saw probably its best years of the millennium – FA Cup wins in 1997-98 and 1999-2000, runners-up in the UEFA Cup Winners Cup in 1997-98 and winners of UEFA Super Cup in 1998.

By the time Zola left Chelsea in 2002, he had scored 80 goals from the 311 games he featured for the club.
Zola became the most popular of all of the foreign imports to have played in England as a result of his warm, engaging personality as well as his exceptional skills on the pitch.

These ambassadorial qualities and charity work earned him an honorary OBE in 2004 and his excellence on the field saw Chelsea fans vote him as the club's best player of all time.

But then, that happened before Abramovich took over and Lampard emerged.


In-tray for Neil Harris at Cardiff City

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Cardiff City look set to replace outgoing manager Neil Warnock with former Millwall boss Neil Harris, whose current price of 1/5 in Next Permanent Cardiff Manager market suggests the deal is all but done.

Warnock left his post on 11 November by mutual consent, with Cardiff languishing in 14th in the Championship following their relegation from the top flight last season. The Welsh club had convincingly beaten Birmingham City 4-2 earlier this month and are only seven points off the play-offs, and yet the news of his departure did not come as much of a surprise.

The job had clearly taken its toll on Warnock, who described 2019 as one of the most “challenging” years of his life, alluding to the tragic death of Emiliano Sala as well as Cardiff's on-field problems. Warnock and the club had struggled to adapt to life back in the Championship, with that win against Birmingham following a four-match winless run.

A club still grieving

But the straw proved to be a 1-0 defeat at home to Bristol City, ending Cardiff's unbeaten home record this season. In a statement on Monday, Warnock described his tenure as “some of the best days in my long football career,” while Chairman Mehmet Dalman thanked the manager for “his invaluable contribution to the future of this great club.”

Yet the most telling line in either statement was Warnock admitting 2019 was “the most challenging period both emotionally and physically that I have ever encountered.” The next manager, presumably Harris, is tasked with helping Cardiff through a grieving process that will still feel raw.

Harris's tactical approach

Harris is a continuity choice in a tactical sense. His football at Millwall was not pretty, but rather functional, a dogged and direct 4-4-2 formation aiming at stealing points on the counter-attack.

That sort of aggressive football chimes with the anti-aesthetic approach of Warnock, who played a percentage game throughout his tenure. It might not be easy on the eye, but it certainly worked for a period – and should do again given the current Cardiff squad was built in Warnock's image.

“(For) style of play, formation, group ethos and mentality, then I look at Atlético Madrid, Leicester, Burnley, teams that don't always have the football but work extremely hard and play a 4-4-2 formation or variations of it,” Harris told the Guardian back in 2016.

As a rough guide, that kind of system should suit the physicality in the Cardiff squad, and help the likes of Josh Murphy rediscover their goalscoring touch.

Harris' achievements at Millwall

Certainly there is plenty in Harris' four-year stint at Millwall for Cardiff fans to be excited about. Already a club legend as their all-time leading goalscorer, Harris took charge in 2015 and took the club to the League One play-offs in each of his first two seasons in charge, winning the final in 2017 to take Millwall back to the second tier.

The following year Millwall finished eighth in the Championship on 72 points, just three shy of a play-off place thanks to an incredible 17-game unbeaten run in the second half of the campaign. However, the club fell away last year, finishing just one place outside the bottom three, and were 18th when Harris stepped down in October.

GettyImages-1087948866.jpg

But Harris' Millwall drew more attention for their cup runs than league success, reaching the quarter-finals of the FA Cup in both 2017 and 2019. Highlights include a 3-2 victory over Everton in the fourth round this year and wins against Bournemouth, Watford, and Leicester City in 2017.

His in-tray at Cardiff

Cardiff are not in bad shape at all. A couple of wins is all it will take to put them back in contention for a play-off place, and indeed playing similar football to Warnock means Harris can anticipate a manager bounce over the next month or so.

What's more, Cardiff have the second best home record in the division, collecting 17 points from eight games, meaning Harris only needs to find a way to win on the road to bring the Welsh club back to prominence, which makes it surprising that they can be backed at [10.5] just to record a Top 6 Finish. His aggressive, no-nonsense defensive management style should certainly improve their away form as the season goes on.

But managing Cardiff City is a unique job. Sala's death in January will still be affecting staff from top to bottom, grief no doubt impacting on the club's steady decline over the last eight months as the club, including Warnock, deal admirably with a tragic situation.

A fresh start under Harris – a sensible choice and a talented manager – might be just what Cardiff need as they continue to process.


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