Graham Potter acknowledged that difficult decisions are part of management following Erik ten Hag's handling of Cristiano Ronaldo at Manchester United.

Ten Hag has forced Ronaldo to train away from the first team after the Portugal international took himself down the tunnel at Old Trafford before the end of United's 2-0 win against Tottenham on Wednesday.

Ronaldo will not be in the squad for United's trip to Chelsea on Saturday following his manager's statement after the Spurs game that he would "deal with" the player's behaviour.

"I can't really comment because I don't know the ins and outs but he's taken his stance, sometimes you have to do that. Then you need the club's support. From the outside, that's what's happened," Blues head coach Potter said at a press conference on Friday.

"It's difficult for me to comment... Part of the job is to take some decisions that are difficult, but that's normal."

Since losing their first two games, including an opening day defeat to Brighton and Hove Albion when Potter was still in charge of the Seagulls, United have lost just once in eight Premier League games (6-3 at Manchester City), winning six of them.

The victory against Spurs was arguably the Red Devils' best performance so far under Ten Hag since his arrival at the end of last season, and Potter believes they will only get better.

"I think they've done well," he said. "Obviously not had a great start from their perspective, but they've battled back and they're getting points and they're playing well, so it's going to be a tough game.

"They've changed a bit in how they build up I think. More longer balls, more direct, at the same time they still have the same quality, they've got the likes of [Marcus] Rashford, Antony, [Jadon] Sancho, Bruno Fernandes plays a key role for them.

"They just seem to have adapted to the competition, adapted to each other, probably learning more about each other. It's a normal process really... I'm pretty sure they'll get better and better as time goes on."

Chelsea are unbeaten in seven games in all competitions since Potter took over from Thomas Tuchel (five wins), but have suffered recent injury blows with the news that N'Golo Kante will be out for around four months, missing the World Cup, while Reece James faces a race against time to be in Qatar and will be absent for the next few weeks.

"You have to at least acknowledge the fact they're human beings that want to be involved in that type of competition," Potter added. "The reality is I haven't got anything to say that'll make it any better for them.

"You just have to focus on the things you can control, focus on your rehab day-to-day, things get better and then you just move forward."

Former England and Harlequins rugby union captain Chris Robshaw has announced his retirement from the game at 36.

The back-rower, who traditionally played flanker for club and country, has brought the curtain down on a career stretching back to 2005.

Robshaw, who won 66 international caps, made his Test debut in 2009 against Argentina, and took the armband for the national team in 2012, leading them through the 2015 Rugby World Cup on home soil.

Injuries restricted chances after he was replaced as skipper by Dylan Hartley, and he was phased out before the 2019 World Cup in Japan, and finished his club career in Major League Rugby with San Diego Legion.

"After 18 years of professional rugby and a career I could only have dreamt of, I am officially announcing my retirement from the great game," Robshaw wrote in a statement posted on Twitter.

"Following three dislocated shoulders in quick succession, my body has told me to blow the final whistle.

"No words can do justice to how fortunate and privileged I am to have enjoyed a career in the sport I am most passionate about.

"Playing for and captaining England has been the greatest honour of my life and there is no comparable feeling to representing and leading your country.

"It was a responsibility I approached with respect, optimism and determination and I hope in the coming years I can use my experience and knowledge gained to support other players on their journeys."

Captain Craig Ervine led the way as Zimbabwe roared past Scotland to reach the Super 12 stage of the T20 World Cup.

Ervine's assured 58 set the platform for Zimbabwe to chase down Scotland's 132-6, which was anchored by 54 from George Munsey.

Zimbabwe reached their target with nine balls to spare, posting 133-5, with a key to their victory being a fourth-wicket partnership of 64 between Ervine and Sikandar Raza, who rattled to 40 from just 23 balls and took man-of-the-match honours.

Ryan Burl struck the winning boundary for Zimbabwe, whose opening bowler Tendai Chatara earlier kept it tight to stifle Scotland, taking 2-14 from his four overs.

Zimbabwe had beaten Ireland in their tournament opener before losing to West Indies, while Scotland beat West Indies but lost to Ireland, setting up Friday's game in Hobart as a winner-takes-all tussle.

The victory for Zimbabwe secured top spot in Group B of the first-round stage, earning a place in Group 2 of the Super 12 stage, where they will face Bangladesh, India, Netherlands, Pakistan and South Africa.

Scotland go home, as do West Indies following their defeat to Ireland earlier on Friday.

Ireland, as runners-up to Zimbabwe, progress into Group 1 where Afghanistan, Australia, England, New Zealand and Sri Lanka await them.

Zimbabwe will stay in Hobart for their Super 12 opener, an appetising clash with South Africa on Monday.

Erik ten Hag has ordered Manchester United's players to ignore the Cristiano Ronaldo saga and keep their focus on beating Chelsea.

The United manager had to call a meeting with Ronaldo on Thursday after the veteran striker showed an errant side to his nature in the previous night's game against Tottenham.

By refusing to play as a substitute, according to Ten Hag, and leaving the stadium early, Ronaldo secured himself a weekend off.

He has been temporarily ostracised from the first team by United's Dutch boss, who made it clear he will not stand for any disruptive behaviour from the superstar, or from any member of his squad.

So Ronaldo will stay at home as United head to Stamford Bridge on Saturday, disciplined and with plenty of atoning to do.

That was inevitably the hot topic of discussion at United's pre-match press conference on Friday, and Ten Hag said: "I understand there are questions about that, but at the same time it's all about Chelsea. We have a big game to play, so all my focus is on that game."

He said that applied for all United's staff and players, adding: "We have to win that game and do everything we can. We need to prepare for that game and do our best.

"I think it's part of when you play in top football that sometimes there's rumours, there's noise, and you don't get deflected, you have to focus on the job and that is to perform tomorrow."

Ronaldo's antics took some attention off United's excellent 2-0 win over Spurs, as polished a performance as they have produced under Ten Hag, with Bruno Fernandes, Fred and Casemiro outstanding in midfield.

The focus on Ronaldo may turn out not to be such a negative in the long run. Rather than the performance be followed by days of hype about a United resurgence, attention has been focused elsewhere.

United's players – those who were happy to face Tottenham – have quietly gone about their business and will be looking for a repeat of the high level they showed at Old Trafford.

The Red Devils have not lost any of their last nine Premier League games against Chelsea (D6 W3) – only against Blackburn Rovers (12 games between 1992 and 1998) and Arsenal (19 between 1995 and 2005) have Chelsea ever endured a longer winless run in the competition. United have won just two of their last 20 at Chelsea in the league, however.

But there is perhaps a complicating factor for this game, in that Chelsea head coach Graham Potter has already chalked up a league win over United this season.

That came when Potter was bossing Brighton and Hove Albion, who inflicted an opening-day 2-1 defeat on Ten Hag's United at Old Trafford.

Since recruited by Chelsea to replace Thomas Tuchel, Potter will fancy the job again, given his strong start to life with the Blues.

He could become just the second manager in history to beat United with two different teams in a single league campaign, according to Opta, after Andy Aitken in 1908-09, with Middlesbrough and Leicester.

Ten Hag was keen to play down the Potter effect, saying: "We feel strong and we're looking forward to the game tomorrow. It's a different game, different team, he has different players.

"We are further in the process. Of course, I know more about him. The first time, maybe he knew more about me. That is maybe an advantage because he knew more about Manchester United in the first game.

"Now I'm longer in the UK, in the Premier League, so tomorrow will be a good fight; but it's not a fight between managers, it's a fight between teams."

After a run of seven consecutive away defeats, United have won three of their last four on the road in the Premier League. Their most recent away win was a 2-1 success at Everton, where the decisive second goal came, of course, from Ronaldo.

Gavi has added the Golden Boy award to the Kopa Trophy he won earlier this week, following in the footsteps of Barcelona team-mate Pedri by winning both prizes in the same year.

The 18-year-old saw off competition from the likes of Eduardo Camavinga, Jamal Musiala and Jude Bellingham to land the Kopa Trophy – given to the best player in the world under the age of 21 – at Monday's Ballon d'Or ceremony.

At a press conference in Palermo on Friday, it was revealed that Gavi had beaten another 19 nominees – including that aforementioned trio – to land the Golden Boy prize, which follows similar rules to the Kopa Trophy,

Gavi has become the third player to win the Golden Boy award while representing Barcelona, after Lionel Messi in 2005 and Pedri in 2021.

The teenager has been a revelation since breaking into the Blaugrana's first team, scoring twice and providing six assists as he made 34 appearances in LaLiga last season.

That form has seen the diminutive midfielder win 12 caps for Spain after becoming the youngest player to represent La Roja's senior side in October last year.

Barcelona had four players shortlisted for the award, with Ansu Fati and Nico Gonzalez – who is currently on loan at Valencia – joining Gavi and Pedri among the final 20 nominees.

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp is adamant Steven Gerrard will return to management but hopes he takes some time away from football after being axed by Aston Villa.

Gerrard was sacked following Villa's defeat to Fulham on Thursday, which left the club above the Premier League's relegation zone on only goals scored, having picked up just two wins in the opening 11 matches of the campaign.

Previously touted by many as Klopp's eventual successor at Anfield, Gerrard must now rebuild his reputation after a disappointing stint with Villa that came following success in Scotland with Rangers.

Klopp does not expect that to be an issue for the former Liverpool captain, although he hopes he does not rush back into a role.

"I'm very sure he will come back from that. During my seven years at Liverpool, with the academy we created a close relationship," he said in Friday's press conference ahead of the clash against Nottingham Forest.

"I always followed him, we had a little exchange this morning but nothing too deep, it wasn't a long conversation. I can imagine it is a disappointment for him with the ambitions that he had and the things he wanted to achieve with Aston Villa, it's obviously not good.

"We don't need to worry, he knows the game long enough, it's life, we all get knocks, it's all about how we respond. He always came back and he will come back from that, no doubt.

"A lot of great managers out there had to leave their previous clubs for different reasons. Quite frequently, they'll turn up somewhere else and will have learned from that situation.

"He will be back, 100 per cent, but I hope that he will take a bit of time for himself, since he finished his career he has pretty much been working all the time, so maybe use it now a little bit himself to recharge."

Manuel Neuer should be fit to represent Germany at the World Cup but is likely to miss Bayern Munich's trip to Barcelona next week, according to Julian Nagelsmann.

Neuer last featured for Bayern in their dramatic 2-2 draw with Borussia Dortmund on October 8, with a shoulder injury leading Sven Ulreich to take his place between the sticks for their past three games.

The goalkeeper will be absent once again when Bayern visit Hoffenheim on Saturday, and Nagelsmann doubts he will be involved when they bid to eliminate Barca from the Champions League on Wednesday. 

However, Nagelsmann has eased fears he could miss out on a trip to Qatar, saying: "Manuel is still in pain. He probably can't play in Barcelona either, we're planning for Mainz [on October 29].

"Issues can certainly happen if he starts too early, and we want to avoid that. We have to wait until the healing process is such that he can play again. 

"I don't think the World Cup is in danger. Manuel knows his body best and knows with which pains he can play. 

"He trained in the weight room yesterday. It's up and down, day-to-day, but I don't think it will last that long. I'm hoping he'll be back against Mainz."

Bayern have been forced to cope with several selection problems recently, enduring a spate of COVID-19 cases and seeing Leroy Sane sidelined with a muscle injury. 

Thomas Muller is the latest player to be ruled out of the trip to Hoffenheim, leading Nagelsmann to highlight the importance of Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting.

"Leroy Sane is known, Thomas Muller is also out, he has gastrointestinal problems," he added. "He's not happy with that, but I think he will be fine before the Champions League game. Other than that, there is nothing new, everyone is fine.

"Kingsley Coman can play again. Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting coped well with the games and it's important that he's there after Muller's absence."

Choupo-Moting registered two goal involvements after starting a Bundesliga game for the first time since November 2016 last week, scoring and assisting in a 5-0 win over Freiburg.

Meanwhile, the former Paris Saint-Germain forward has recorded more goal contributions against Hoffenheim (nine – six goals, three assists) than against any other Bundesliga side.

Nagelsmann made his name as a coach during a successful three-year spell with Hoffenheim, leading the club to Champions League qualification at the end of the 2016-17 season, and admits Saturday's match represents a unique occasion.

"It's a special game for me. It's a club close to my heart," he added. "I had many successful years there and met a lot of friends and great colleagues there."

Hoffenheim have taken 17 points from their first 10 Bundesliga matches this season – their best return at this stage of a campaign since Nagelsmann led them in 2016-17 (20).

Franck Ribery's playing career has come to an end.

On Friday, the former France and Bayern Munich winger announced his retirement at the age of 39, having agreed to terminate his deal with Serie A club Salernitana.

He signed for Salernitana ahead of last season, though for the first time since the 2004-05 season, failed to score in the league.

His sole Serie A appearance this season came in a 1-0 defeat to Roma back in August, as a second-half substitute, and in truth it was no surprise when rumours recently emerged of his imminent retirement.

There can be no doubt, however, that Ribery will go down as one of European football's greats of the modern era.

In 2013, Ribery was nominated for the Ballon d'Or, finishing third in the voting behind Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi.

Falling short against two of the best to play the game is no shame, and using Opta data, here are some of the key facts from Ribery's glittering career.

Ligue 1 breakthrough

Having made a name for himself with Brest in Ligue 2, Ribery was recruited by Metz in 2004. He spent only half a season there and scored just one goal before joining Turkish giants Galatasaray, yet he made a big impact, with comparisons drawn to one of the club's greatest exports, Robert Pires.

His only goal in Turkey came in the Turkish Cup final against Gala's great rivals Fenerbahce, in a 5-1 victory. Having claimed his first trophy, Ribery headed home to France, signing for Marseille.

It was a messy move, with FIFA ultimately ruling in Ribery's favour after the player claimed he had not been paid his wages by Gala, as well as alleging to have been threatened by his former agent and a club director. 

Ribery spent two seasons with Marseille and became a star, being named the National Union of Professional Footballers' (UNFP) Young Player of the Year in 2006. 

His performances at the 2006 World Cup (more on that later) only increased his profile, with Marseille seeing off interest from Real Madrid, Arsenal and, controversially, rivals Lyon to keep hold of Ribery.

 

That decision paid off for OM. In his final campaign in France, in 2006-07, Ribery provided eight assists, behind only Nancy's Benjamin Gavanon (nine), and had the highest tally of chances created per 90 minutes (2.95) among players who had featured for over 100 minutes across the season.

Marseille finished second, after losing in the final of the Coupe de France, and Ribery was named the French Player of the Year by France Football.

Flourishing for France

Ribery made his debut for Les Bleus in May 2006, ahead of the World Cup in Germany, where he truly made his name as a superstar.

Between making his debut and playing his final international match in March 2014, Ribery featured in more France games than any other player (81) in the same period, 11 ahead of second-ranked Florent Malouda.

Indeed, his 37 goal involvements (16 goals, 21 assists) was more than any other French player, and puts him sixth on the nation's goal involvements list in the 21st century.

He helped France reach the final of the 2006 World Cup, though they failed to make it out of the group stage in South Africa four years later, while success also eluded them in the Euros during Ribery's stint on the international stage.

Greatness in Germany

In 2007, Bayern paid Marseille €25million for the 24-year-old. It was an investment worth every cent.

Ribery went on to play 425 times for Bayern in all competitions, making him the non-German player with the second-most appearances for the club, behind David Alaba (431), since 1965.

When it comes to French players, only Jonathan Schmid has made more Bundesliga appearances (296) than Ribery (273), who scored 124 goals in all competitions for Bayern.

Since detailed data collection of the Bundesliga began in 2004, Thomas Muller is the only player to provide more assists than Ribery, who set up 92 goals.

Ribery was at the peak of his powers in the 2012-13 season, as he helped Bayern win the treble and was named UEFA Men's Player of the Year, before going on to come third in the Ballon d'Or rankings.

That season, he provided 14 assists in the Bundesliga, a total trailing only Andres Iniesta (16) when it came to players in Europe's big five leagues.

Ribery left Bayern as a club great, having formed one of the all-time most fearsome wing partnerships with Arjen Robben. He won nine Bundesliga titles, a tally that trails only former club-mates Alaba and Robert Lewandowski (10 each) when it comes to foreign players in Germany's top tier.

 

Italian swansong

After leaving Bayern, Ribery tried his hand in Italy, joining Fiorentina.

Over his two seasons in Florence, Ribery created 70 goalscoring opportunities in Serie A, behind only Erick Pulgar (104) in Fiorentina's squad. His dribbling ability was still top class, too, with Gaetano Castrovilli his only team-mate to complete more dribbles (123 to Ribery's 117).

Ribery played 51 times for Fiorentina in all competitions, starting on 47 occasions. He scored five goals, contributed nine assists and had 182 touches in the opposition's box. Surprisingly, he played only five successful crosses, though he was often deployed in a more central role for La Viola.

In his 25 matches for Salernitana, Ribery failed to score, though his three assists in Serie A mean he is the club's joint-top creator of goals, alongside Milan Djuric and Pasquale Mazzocchi, in the same timeframe. 

Former France and Bayern Munich winger Franck Ribery has announced his retirement from football.

Ribery's deal with Salernitana would have taken his stay at the Serie A side up to the end of this season, but he has decided to hang his boots up now.

The 39-year-old also played for a number of other clubs in a 22-year career, including Metz, Galatasaray, Marseille and Fiorentina.

Ribery spent the bulk of his career at Bayern, though, where he won nine Bundesliga titles in 12 years.

He also won six DFB-Pokal titles, one Champions League, a UEFA Super Cup and a FIFA Club World Cup.

In his time at the Bavarian giants, Ribery made 273 Bundesliga appearances, recording 86 goals and 92 assists.

He wrote on Twitter: "The ball stops. The feelings inside me do not. Thanks to everyone for this great adventure."

 

Ribery forged a spectacular wing partnership with Arjen Robben, with the duo terrorising defences from either flank during their decade together in Munich, before both left the club in 2019.

Ribery won 81 caps for France in all, scoring 16 times before retiring from international football in 2014, and was a member of Les Bleus' squad when they finished as runners-up to Italy at the 2006 World Cup.

He moved to Fiorentina after leaving Germany, scoring five and assisting nine goals in 51 appearances before signing for Salernitana in 2021.

Overall he managed just three assists in 25 games for the club, and featured only twice this season, both times in August, in the Coppa Italia against Parma and as a substitute in the 1-0 Serie A defeat at home to Roma.

Ribery will remain at Salernitana in a non-playing capacity, the club said.

Cristiano Ronaldo can still have a Manchester United future but had to be punished for refusing to play as a substitute against Tottenham, Erik ten Hag said.

Manager Ten Hag held talks with Ronaldo on Thursday after his breaches of discipline in the Spurs game, which included disappearing down the tunnel before the game was finished.

The Dutch boss confirmed Ronaldo rejected his instruction to come off the bench on Wednesday, an action which has led to doubts over whether the 37-year-old Portuguese would play for United again.

Ronaldo blamed "the heat of the moment" for his actions in a post on Instagram on Thursday, which notably did not include an apology.

He has been pushed away from first-team duties for now and will play no part in Saturday's Premier League game at Chelsea, with Ten Hag saying it was time for "reflection" on Ronaldo's part.

Asked about his discussion with Ronaldo, Ten Hag said on Friday: "The talk, if you ask about that, it's between Cristiano and me. It was 10 minutes."

As for whether Ronaldo can be a part of United's team in the future, Ten Hag said: "Yes. He remains an important part of the squad."

He then confirmed the reports Ronaldo disobeyed his orders to play as a substitute in United's 2-0 victory, which may be considered a much more serious infraction than leaving the stadium early.

Ten Hag stressed he would rule with a firm hand when required.

"I'm the manager, I'm responsible for the top sport culture here, and I have to set standards and failures and I have to control them," Ten Hag said.

This was Ronaldo's second early walkout from a game during Ten Hag's reign, having also left the ground before full-time in a pre-season game against Rayo Vallecano, when he played the first half but then departed Old Trafford.

"After Rayo Vallecano I told them it was unacceptable, but he wasn't the only one," Ten Hag said. "That is for everyone, so the second time there will be consequences and that is what we did.

"We miss him tomorrow, and that is a miss for us, for the squad. But I think it's important for the attitude, for the mentality, from the group. Now we have to focus on Chelsea, that is the most important."

Asked what his actions might achieve, as Ronaldo trained away from United team-mates on Friday, Ten Hag said: "I think reflection for him, but also for everyone else."

Reports have suggested Ronaldo will be fined two weeks' wages by United.

Ten Hag said: "I set a warning at the start of the season and the next time there has to be consequence. When you're living together, playing together – and football's a team sport – you have to fulfil certain standards and I have to control it."

Arizona Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray and head coach Kliff Kingsbury have played down their heated exchange during a win over the New Orleans Saints.

The Cardinals snapped an eight-game home losing streak with a 42-34 victory on Thursday, as the visitors' stand-in QB Andy Dalton threw three interceptions.

For Arizona, Murray completed 20 of his 29 passes for 204 yards and one touchdown with no interceptions, but he also made headlines through his second-quarter row with Kingsbury.

Murray appeared to shout, "calm the f*** down" at his coach on two occasions, but insisted there was no ill feeling between the pair after the win.

"The clock was running down and we couldn't get off the play that we were trying to run," Murray said. "So, it was... I guess it's my fault. I'll take it.

"We're good. We're going to make it right. We ended up scoring so that was good. But, yes, that's all I was saying, just chill out.

"It doesn't faze me, and I don't think it fazes him. We're just trying to win. [It was an] in the moment type of thing. After that, we're good."

Kingsbury shared Murray's view of the incident, adding he liked to see such levels of competitiveness from his QB.

"I mean, it's good," Kingsbury said. "I think we are working through, as an offense, where we want to be and what we want to do. 

"When you have competitors that have a level of intensity like that, I think it will keep pushing us forward."

The Cardinals' win represented their first 40-plus-point game since January 1, 2017, breaking the longest streak in the NFL of 87 games, and took them to 3-0-4 for the season.

Real Madrid head coach Carlo Ancelotti believes Toni Kroos will extend his stay at the club beyond his current contract.

Kroos has been a core part of Los Blancos' success in the past eight years, lifting the LaLiga title on three occasions and clinching victory in the Champions League four times – including last season.

Now 32, and with fellow midfielder Luka Modric also in his twilight years, Madrid have looked to the future with the signings of Aurelien Tchouameni and Eduardo Camavinga, but Kroos remains crucial for Ancelotti's side.

The Germany international has started seven of Madrid's 10 LaLiga matches this season and, while his current deal is set to expire at the end of the campaign, Ancelotti expects him to stay at the Santiago Bernabeu.

"I've talked to him, he's very calm. He's going to think about it after the World Cup, in January or February. I think he's going to continue," he said in Friday's press conference ahead of the clash against Sevilla.

 

"His level is better than last year, he had physical problems at the beginning and then he did very well. He's at a very high level."

Kroos is set to represent Germany at the World Cup in Qatar, which begins next month, where Ancelotti expects to see matches played with a higher level of intensity compared to the usual post-season tournament.

"I think this part of the season helps, you can see a World Cup with much more intensity, they will reach the top," he added.

"In the previous ones they arrive exhausted to play the World Cup. Now they will arrive with a lot of energy."

Arsenal midfielder Granit Xhaka is not concerned by the number of minutes he has played this season and the risk of injury ahead of the World Cup.

The Switzerland international has started all but one of the Gunners' matches across all competitions this season, combining with Thomas Partey or Albert Sambi Lokonga in midfield.

Xhaka's influence has played a huge part in Arsenal's fine start to the season, including scoring the only goal of the game in Thursday's victory over PSV in the Europa League – sealing qualification for the knockout stages.

A packed schedule ahead of the World Cup, where Switzerland face Brazil, Serbia and Cameroon, will test the fitness limits of players this season, but that does not come into Xhaka's thought process.

"I'm not worried. The staff, the coach, they know how I am physically, how I look after myself. It's not the first time I'm doing this many games in a row, I've done this for the last 13 years," he said.

"I'm feeling very good. Every time you win, it makes it a little easier, but I'm not worried about my fitness, the World Cup or the future.

"I'm 30 years old, I know my body better than before. When you're young, you think differently, whereas now I know my body, what I need. Of course, you have the people around you helping you with the food, with the recovery, at the moment, everything is working well."

Asked if the risk of injury plays on his mind ahead of games, he added: "I don't think like this, I will never think like this when I go onto the pitch.

"This is football, it can happen in one second. You have to put your faith when there is a 50-50 ball. My personality, as people know, I will never go back on that."

With seven games to play before the World Cup, five of which are in the Premier League, Xhaka is aiming for the Arsenal squad to capitalise on their position four points clear at the summit and remain top of the pile for the mid-season halt.

"It has to be the aim. We're there now, we need to be there as long as possible," he said.

"If we have the chance to stay where we are at the moment, then the World Cup comes, maybe it's good for everyone, for us as well, to prepare something else for January."

Heading into Week 7 of the NFL season, the picture is still delicately poised as the race for the playoffs begins to heat up.

The Philadelphia Eagles (6-0), Buffalo Bills (5-1) and Minnesota Vikings (5-1) are all on a bye this week, along with the Los Angeles Rams (3-3), which provides an opportunity for the chasing pack to close the gap.

Both New York franchises are on the road as they look to extend their winning records, the Giants in Jacksonville to face the Jaguars while the Jets tussle with the Denver Broncos, and elsewhere, the Kansas City Chiefs have a stern test in San Francisco against the 49ers.

With all that and more on the cards, Stats Perform has delved into the numbers to preview this weekend's action.

New York Giants (5-1) @ Jacksonville Jaguars (2-4)

The Giants may have season form on their side against the Jaguars but they are the only team to never win a road game in Jacksonville (0-3), who are one of two franchises the Giants have not won against away from home alongside the Baltimore Ravens.

Victory against the Ravens in Week 6, coming on home soil, saw the Giants secure a fifth win of the season and become the first NFL team this term to surpass their win total from last year (four). Their largest wins increase in the Super Bowl era was from one in 1966 to seven in 1967.

Daniel Jones' form has been key to that improvement, completing at least 70 per cent of his passes in back-to-back games for the first time in his career. He has the opportunity to become only the second Giants QB in the Super Bowl era to do so in three straight games, alongside Eli Manning in September 2018 (minimum 20 attempts each game).

The Jaguars' 2-4 record does not paint the full picture of their season, though, with a +24 point differential standing as the sixth best in the NFL and the best for a team with a losing record through six games since the 2010 Los Angelese Chargers (+31, 2-4).

In last week's defeat to the Indianapolis Colts, Trevor Lawrence completed 20 of 22 passes (90.9 per cent) to become the youngest player (23 years, 10 days) to ever record 90 per cent accuracy from at least 20 passing attempts in a game.

Kansas City Chiefs (4-2) @ San Francisco 49ers (3-3)

Kansas City face the 49ers boasting victories in four of the last five matchups, including a 31-20 triumph in Super Bowl LIV, but are 1-5 in San Francisco – with their only win there coming in the teams' first-ever clash in 1971.

The Chiefs have not been strong defensively, allowing at least 20 points in all six games to begin the season and stand as one of four teams who are yet to allow fewer than 20 in any game this season.

That bodes well for the 49ers, who are 2-0 at home this season and have allowed fewer than 10 points in both of those games, though they have never held their opponent to fewer than 10 points in the team's first three home games of any season.

The potential return of Nick Bosa will be of concern for Patrick Mahomes, after he missed last week due to a groin injury, as the 49ers are pressuring quarterbacks in 48.4 per cent of passing plays with Bosa on the field (122 plays) compared to 34.9 per cent without him (86 plays).

New York Jets (4-2) @ Denver Broncos (2-4)

The Denver Broncos are in need of a major improvement in performance and hosting the Jets will provide encouragement, having shut them out in two straight home games, including 26-0 last year.

The Jets have reason to be optimistic themselves, however, with last week's 27-10 victory against the Green Bay Packers securing their first three-game winning streak since 2019 and their first three-game road winning streak in a single season since 2010.

Meanwhile, the Broncos fell to a 19-16 overtime defeat to the Chargers in Week 6 and suffered their second straight overtime loss, with no team ever having played three straight overtime games in NFL history.

Russell Wilson found himself under scrutiny again last week, completing only 15 of his 28 pass attempts for a completion percentage of 53.6. In total this season, he has a 58.6 completion percentage, having entered the year with a lowest single-season completion percentage of 61.3 in 2017.

Elsewhere…

The Pittsburgh Steelers lost their first six road games as a franchise against the Miami Dolphins but head to Florida in Week 7 with a 6-3 record in the past nine meetings. However, they have not had a quarterback start at the Dolphins other than Ben Roethlisberger since Kordell Stewart in 1998.

Each of the last 11 games between the Seattle Seahawks and the Chargers have been decided by a single-digit margin, with the only longer streak in NFL history being a 14-game stretch between the Colts and Houston Texans from 2014 to 2020.

Aaron Rodgers stands 0-3 in road games against the Washington Commanders, with the Green Bay Packers 2-8 in their last 10 games in Washington – their victories coming in 1968 and 2004.

Tom Brady faces the Carolina Panthers with 15 completions in each of his last 39 games for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, tying Brady's career-best streak with 39 straight games for the New England Patriots from 2011 to 2013.

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