West Brom returned to the top of the Championship with a comfortable 2-0 victory over struggling Stoke City on Monday.

Slaven Bilic's side had watched on over the weekend as Swansea City, Leeds United and then Preston North End all usurped them in the standings, leaving them in fourth at kick-off.

However, the Baggies are once again sitting pretty at the summit after brushing aside a Stoke team who had caretaker boss Rory Delap in charge for the first time.

Matt Phillips put the visitors ahead when he converted Grady Diangana's cross in the eighth minute and they rarely looked in danger of letting their advantage slip against opponents bereft of confidence.

Diangana was also heavily involved in West Brom's second, as he was fouled by Cameron Carter-Vickers inside the penalty area. Substitute Hal Robson-Kanu converted from the spot just six minutes after replacing Charlie Austin.

Defeat means Stoke - who fired Nathan Jones last Friday - remain stuck at the bottom, six points from safety.

Mauro Icardi believes he can prosper in partnership with Edinson Cavani at Paris Saint-Germain, should Thomas Tuchel opt to pick the two strikers in the same XI.

Having moved to the French capital from Inter on a season-long loan deal, Icardi has already scored seven goals in all competitions for PSG.

His arrival at the start of September was timely, considering former Napoli frontman Cavani had suffered a hip injury at the start of the campaign, ruling him out for six weeks.

The Uruguay international has come off the bench in the past two Ligue 1 fixtures - including Friday's shock 2-1 loss to lowly Dijon - but head coach Tuchel has yet to use Cavani alongside Icardi from the start.

According to Icardi, however, the duo - who know each other from their days playing in Serie A - can work in tandem together.

"I've known Edi for a very long time, we've been in Italy since a long time ago. Edi is an amazing player who has made history in PSG, he's done so much here," Icardi told RMC.

"I want to make a contribution here, but it's the coach who will have to decide [who will play]. 

"Both of us work for the good of the team, that's what we say all the time to ourselves, on and off the pitch.

"Edi and I are two strikers, we like to score goals, we can play together if the coach decides, but it's not up to us to make that decision. In the end, it's the coach who decides, that's his job."

Erik ten Hag has confirmed he will stay at Ajax for the remainder of the season, seemingly ending speculation of a move back to Bayern Munich.

Dutchman Ten Hag was previously in charge of Bayern's second string and, following the departure of Niko Kovac on Sunday, has been linked with a return to the Bundesliga club.

However, speaking to the media ahead of Ajax's Champions League fixture against Chelsea on Tuesday, the 49-year-old ruled out heading back to Bavaria - for now at least.

When asked if he plans to stay with his current employers, he replied: "I can confirm that. I feel a strong connection with my team, with everyone with Ajax. I can confirm I will stay in Ajax this season."

Ten Hag did admit he retains a love for Bayern but is "not a dreamer", instead choosing to focus on Ajax getting a positive result at Stamford Bridge.

"Bayern is a fantastic club – I felt really comfortable and really enjoyed working there. They are still in my heart, but now I am with Ajax," he said.

"I'm not a dreamer – I focus on Ajax and that's important. I live for today, my only focus is on Ajax and tomorrow's game with Chelsea."

Surprise semi-finalists last season, Ajax are level with Chelsea on six points in Group H, though they lost at home to the Blues in the previous round of fixtures.

Ten Hag understands his players face a tall order to prevail against their Premier League hosts, believing Frank Lampard's squad can go all the way in the competition.

"They are one of the favourites," he said. "It's going to be difficult, but every game is going to be difficult. We trust in ourselves.

"We know we have to play perfectly, give our best performance. Then we will have a chance."

Leeds United goalkeeper Kiko Casilla has denied a Football Association (FA) charge of racial abuse towards a Charlton Athletic player.

The FA launched an investigation following an incident involving Charlton forward Jonathan Leko during the game between the two Championship clubs at The Valley on September 28.

Casilla has now been charged with a breach of FA Rule E3, with the governing body giving the Spaniard until November 12 to provide a response.

"It is alleged that, contrary to Rule E3(1), the Leeds United goalkeeper used abusive and/or insulting words towards a Charlton Athletic player during an EFL Championship fixture on 28 September 2019," a statement from the FA read.

"It is further alleged that the words constitute an "Aggravated Breach", which is defined in Rule E3(2), as they made reference to race and/or colour and/or ethnic origin."

Leeds followed the announcement by releasing a short statement of their own, confirming Casilla denies the allegation and will continue to be considered for selection while he awaits a personal hearing.

"Kiko strenuously denies the allegation and has proactively worked with the FA during their investigation to date," the Yorkshire club said.

"The next step of this process will be a personal hearing, in the meantime Kiko will remain available for selection."

Hermann Gerland has been named as assistant to interim Bayern Munich coach Hans Flick following the sacking of Niko Kovac.

The German champions dismissed head coach Kovac on Sunday after suffering a 5-1 loss to Eintracht Frankfurt that left them fourth in the table.

Flick was placed in temporary charge, and Bayern confirmed on Monday that Gerland will take on the caretaker's prior role as assistant.

Veteran coach Gerland has previously worked alongside Louis van Gaal, Jupp Heynckes, Pep Guardiola and Carlo Ancelotti at the Allianz Arena.

"Hermann is very experienced," Flick told Bayern's official website. "He knows the team, he knows the procedures, he knows FC Bayern as a whole. That's why I wanted to work with him."

Bayern host Olympiacos in the Champions League on Wednesday and take on Klassiker rivals Borussia Dortmund three days later.

Jose Mourinho, Erik ten Hag and Massimiliano Allegri have all been touted as possible successors to Kovac, who lasted one full season at Bayern.

LaLiga strugglers Leganes have announced experienced Mexican boss Javier Aguirre as their new head coach.

Aguirre, who has previously led Spanish sides Osasuna, Atletico Madrid, Real Zaragoza and Espanyol, replaces interim coach Luis Cembranos on a deal that runs through until the end of 2019-20.

Cembranos stepped up from the reserve side following Mauricio Pellegrino's sacking last month and oversaw Leganes' only win of the league season so far against Real Mallorca nine days ago.

However, Saturday's 2-1 defeat to Eibar leaves them still bottom of LaLiga and six points adrift of 17th-placed Mallorca.

Aguirre's most recent coaching position was with the Egypt national side, a role he held for less than a year before his side's disappointing early Africa Cup of Nations elimination in July.

Cardiff City have been threatened with a three-window transfer ban by FIFA if they fail to pay the first instalment of the fee owed to Nantes for the late Emiliano Sala.

The FIFA Players' Status Committee ruled in September that Cardiff must hand over a €6million (£5.3m) payment for club-record signing Sala, who, along with pilot David Ibbotson, died when their Piper Malibu aircraft crashed in January. 

Sala had accepted a move but Cardiff claimed the agreement to pay Nantes £15m was not legally binding because conditions insisted upon by the selling club were not fulfilled.

Cardiff announced in a statement last month that they intend to appeal at the Court of Arbitration for Sport, but world football governing body FIFA has outlined its reasons and ordered the Welsh side to pay up.

FIFA confirmed in a 21-page document published on Monday that the threat of a ban, which would run through until the end of the 2020-21 campaign, will be lifted if Cardiff make the payment within 45 days.

Bastian Schweinsteiger says Jose Mourinho "was always asking about Bayern Munich" at Manchester United, as speculation grows the Portuguese could take over the reins at the Bundesliga champions.

Bayern parted ways with coach Niko Kovac on Sunday after a 5-1 loss at Eintracht Frankfurt a day earlier left them fourth in the Bundesliga table.

Pressure had been growing on Kovac all season despite his leading Bayern to the Bundesliga title and a DFB-Pokal triumph in his first year in charge.

Meanwhile, Mourinho has been out of a coaching job since being sacked by United in December 2018, with the 56-year-old considered to be among the frontrunners to replace Kovac.

Schweinsteiger played for Bayern between 2002 and 2015 before moving to United, where he played under Mourinho in the 2016-17 season.

He says Mourinho showed a keen interest in Bayern and the Bundesliga, as well as learning the German language in his downtime.

"I can imagine Mourinho in Germany," he told Bild. "I remember he was always asking me about Bayern and the Bundesliga. During our away games, there was always Bundesliga on TV.

"He really knew every single player, even from the smaller teams. He was also learning German.

"He has not worked in the Bundesliga, so I can well imagine that he would be tempted by a commitment in Germany."

Kovac's assistant Hans Flick will oversee Bayern's preparations for their Champions League clash with Olympiacos on Wednesday and Saturday's Der Klassiker against Borussia Dortmund.

The writing has long been on the wall for Gareth Bale.

Zinedine Zidane wanted him gone from Real Madrid before the previous transfer window closed, but a move did not materialise.

But as the January window approaches, Bale is reportedly ready to leave.

 

TOP STORY – GARETH WANTS TO BALE

Gareth Bale wants to leave Real Madrid in January amid links to the Chinese Super League, according to Cadena Ser.

Bale was poised to make a shock switch to China after being told to move on by Madrid head coach Zinedine Zidane, though the Welshman remained at the Santiago Bernabeu.

However, Bale is reportedly desperate for a January exit and wants Madrid to listen to offers from the CSL.

 

ROUND-UP

- According to Calciomercato, Zlatan Ibrahimovic has offered himself to former club Juventus. Bologna have confirmed their interest in the LA Galaxy striker, whose contract is set to expire. A-League team Perth Glory want to bring the 38-year-old to Australia. Ibrahimovic spent two years at Juventus, however, the Serie A champions are reportedly not prepared to bring back the veteran as they look to trim their squad in January.

Roma are close to reaching an agreement with Manchester United for on-loan defender Chris Smalling. Calciomercato reports the Serie A side are preparing to present a €17million (£14.6m) offer for the Englishman.

William Saliba is yet to play a match for Arsenal but he could already be on the move. Saliba signed for the Gunners in July before he was immediately loaned back to Saint-Etienne for the 2019-20 season. However, Defensa Central claims Real Madrid are eyeing the 18-year-old French defender. Monaco's Benoit Badiashile and Boubacar Kamara of Marseille are also on the list to potentially replace Raphael Varane.

- The Telegraph says Liverpool midfielder Adam Lallana is a target for clubs in the Chinese Super League and MLS. Lallana is out of contract at the end of the season.

Ronald Koeman dominates the frontpage of Monday's SPORT newspaper. The Netherlands boss is heavily linked to Barcelona having revealed a release clause in his contract, and amid growing pressure on head coach Ernesto Valverde .

- Former Juventus head coach Massimiliano Allegri and ex-Arsenal midfielder Mikel Arteta are among the candidates to replace Unai Emery should the Gunners sack the Spaniard, according to the Mirror. Allegri has also been linked to Bayern Munich and Manchester United, while Arteta is serving as Pep Guardiola's Manchester City assistant. Jose Mourinho has also reportedly emerged as an option.

Kylian Mbappe plans to join Real Madrid after turning down the chance during his time at Monaco, according to former vice-president Vadim Vasilyev.

Mbappe initially moved to Ligue 1 giants Paris Saint-Germain on loan from rivals Monaco in 2017 before making the transfer permanent in a €145million deal the following year.

Madrid were interested in Mbappe prior to the French sensation swapping Monaco for Paris, and the LaLiga powerhouse continue to be linked with the 20-year-old forward.

Vasilyev, who knows Mbappe well from their time together at Stade Louis II, believes the 2018 World Cup winner will eventually make the move to Madrid.

"Why did he not sign at Real?," Vasilyev told Telefoot. "He told me: 'Vadim, I think it's too early, I'm Parisian, I do not want to leave my country like that, I want to become a great player here. Real Madrid will wait, that's what I think'.

"I told him, 'Kylian, you're right'. He wants to win. And of course the Champions League must be won for a player like that. If he wins it with Paris, it's better."

Vasilyev added: "They [Real Madrid] will knock on your door. The entire Estadio Santiago Bernabeu will applaud you when you get there."

"He remains the same person, the same Kylian. It's just that he has gained importance, power in the global landscape," Vasilyev said.

"I know Cristiano Ronaldo quite well, and he always wants to break all records, go further. Kylian is the same."

Mbappe, who won the Ligue 1 title in his final season at Monaco, has flourished with PSG in the French capital.

He has claimed back-to-back Ligue 1 trophies, as well as Coupe de France, Coupe de la Ligue and Trophee des Champions silverware.

After scoring 39 goals across all competitions in 2018-19, Mbappe has netted nine times for Thomas Tuchel's PSG this season.

Waterhouse extended their lead at the top of the Red Stripe Premier League (RSPL) following a 2-1 win over Molynes United in a top-of-the-table clash at Drewsland on Sunday.

In a strong showing against the recently struggling promoted team.  Kenroy Howell settled the team’s early nerves after finding the back of the net in the 26th minute.  Colorado Murray then crucially extended the lead in the 55th minute, leaving Molynes with a mountain to climb.  Waterhouse failed to capture an elusive clean sheet, however, after conceding a penalty in time added on.  The effort was dispatched by Jeremy Nelson.  The loss was the third in a row for Molynes United who opened the season winning their first six.

Mount Pleasant recorded a third straight win following a 2-1 win away to promoted Vere United.  The hosts took the lead from the spot after Kemar Beckford put away a 40th-minute penalty.  Vere were back on even terms seven minutes later when Xahne Reid converted penalty of their own.  Jourdaine Fletcher, however, managed to break the tie when he found the back of the net in the 60th minute.  Humble Lion maintained their five-match unbeaten streak with a 2-1 win over Tivoli Gardens at the Edward Seaga Stadium.  Andrew Vanzie put the visitors in the lead in the 42nd minute with Andre Clennon adding the team’s insurance goal in the 73rd.  Newton Sterling got a consolation goal for Tivoli nine minutes later.

Elsewhere a Zhelano Barnes brace led UWI to come from behind 2-2 with Harbour View.  Tevin Scott gave the visitors the lead in the 12th minute but Barnes found the back of the net first-half stoppage time and early in the second half.  Norman Campbell, however, struck to restore parity in the 67th minute.  Cavalier and Portmore United played to a 0-0 draw.

 

LaLiga strugglers Celta Vigo have sacked head coach Fran Escriba following their loss to Getafe.

Celta made the announcement after Sunday's 1-0 defeat at home to Getafe – their fourth consecutive loss.

The result left Celta in the relegation zone and two points adrift of safety following 12 rounds in LaLiga.

"Fran Escriba will not continue in charge of Celta. The club would like to thank him and his coaching staff for their efforts and commitment and wish them success in the future," Celta said in a statement.

Former Elche, Getafe and Villarreal boss Escriba was appointed by Celta in March – becoming the club's third coach of the 2018-19 campaign.

Escriba helped Celta avoid relegation last term, however, the 54-year-old only oversaw two wins this season.

 

 

Brescia have sacked head coach Eugenio Corini as the club languish in the Serie A's relegation zone.

Sunday's 2-1 loss at Hellas Verona proved to be the final straw for Brescia's hierarchy, with the Italian side one point adrift of safety after 10 games.

Brescia turned to former Juventus and Napoli midfielder Corini in September last year as the club struggled in Serie B.

Corini – who emerged from Brescia's youth team in 1986 and enjoyed two spells with his boyhood club – led the squad to an unexpected promotion to Italy's top flight last season.

However, three consecutive defeats and six games without a win prompted Brescia to part with the 49-year-old.

Pep Guardiola expects David Silva to sit out Manchester City's mouth-watering Premier League clash with leaders Liverpool on Sunday.

City captain Silva sustained a muscular injury during the first half of City's 2-1 win over Southampton on Saturday and was replaced at the interval by Gabriel Jesus.

The former Spain international – who is in his last season with the Premier League holders – will also miss Wednesday's Champions League visit to Atalanta.

Asked during a media conference if Silva would be fit for the showdown with Jurgen Klopp's Liverpool, manager Guardiola said: "I don't think so.

"I didn't speak with the doctor but when he has some muscular problems and can't play more minutes it's because he has something, and muscular problems normally mean 10 to 12 days out."

City travel to Anfield knowing a win over the Reds would cut their lead at the Premier League summit to three points.

AC Milan head coach Stefano Pioli believes his side are moving in the right direction despite suffering a sixth loss in just 11 Serie A matches this season.

Lazio beat Milan 2-1 at San Siro on Sunday, Joaquin Correa's 83rd-minute winner proving decisive as the victors climbed to fourth in the standings.

Milan remained mired in midtable mediocrity, sitting 11th, and they are already eight points off the European places and 16 behind leaders Juventus.

Pioli only took over from Marco Giampaolo in October and feels the Rossoneri are getting better, even if results remain mixed.

"In my view, the team is improving," former Inter boss Pioli told Sky Sport Italia.

"Of course, for the table and the situation, it was important to win, but the performance was there tonight.

"We took a few risks in order to create danger for the opponents, matching them all the way to the end, and I believe we are on the right path now.

"All we can do is keep improving along these lines. I saw a team that fought hard for 95 minutes. I did not see a team that was struggling, afraid or let their heads drop.

"We do still make a lot of mistakes, such as passing when we should keep it, and vice versa, but I saw these players looking anxious and afraid when I arrived. I don't see that in them now."

Pioli also made a point of mentioning Rafael Leao, who he felt failed to impact the contest off the bench.

"I expected more from him tonight. When coming on, he was meant to give changes of pace, fresh energy, work with the team," he added.

"He has a lot of potential, but he absolutely has to do more. His contribution tonight was not up to his standards."

Lazio coach Simone Inzaghi was happy with his side after they won a Serie A match at Milan for the first time since 1989.

"We won an important game, I think deservedly, against a side that in my view had a good performance but Lazio played very well and did everything to win," Inzaghi told Sky Sport Italia.

"It wasn't easy after the equaliser but we wanted to break this 30-year taboo, especially as we won here last season in the Coppa Italia semi-final.

"I told my players we needed more hunger and determination than Milan."

Ciro Immobile scored his 100th Lazio goal in the victory, which helped the capital club move above Atalanta in the table and within one point of third-placed rivals Roma.

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