Ange Postecoglou lamented that VAR has diminished the authority of referees after he watched nine-man Tottenham lose 4-1 to Chelsea.

A frenetic meeting between the two rivals saw five disallowed goals, two red cards, a penalty and two Spurs players forced off during the first half with injury, as Blues boss Mauricio Pochettino marked his return to north London by ending the Premier League’s last unbeaten record.

But the match was dominated by VAR’s involvement with the red cards two of nine decisions referred to the video referee.

Even with nine men the hosts continued to take the game to Chelsea and were well in the contest before Nicolas Jackson twice sprung their high line in stoppage time to add his team’s third and fourth goals and complete an unlikely hat-trick.

Postecoglou’s team had been comfortably on top in the first half before Cristian Romero’s red card in the 33rd minute, dismissed for a dangerous challenge on Enzo Fernandez and conceding the penalty from which Cole Palmer equalised Dejan Kulusevski’s deflected goal.

Destiny Udogie followed 10 minutes into the second half, receiving a second yellow card for a foul on Raheem Sterling, but it took a further 20 minutes before Chelsea finally took the lead for the first time through Jackson.

Spurs’ night was compounded by the loss of James Maddison and Micky van de Ven to injury, on top of what is likely to be a three-game ban for Romero.

But it was VAR’s impact that dominated Postecoglou’s thoughts after the game after a total of 21 minutes were added on at the end of each half.

“It’s hard to analyse from a football perspective,” he said.

“We’re left with a result which is disappointing, but (I’m) super-proud of the players’ efforts and will and desire to get something from the game.

“(Lengthy VAR pauses) are going to become the norm, I think it’s where the game is heading. Unfortunately it’s how we’re going to have to watch and participate in football from now on.

“I don’t like it. I don’t like the standing around, the whole theatre around waiting for decisions. But I know I’m in the wilderness on that.

“In my 26 years, I was always prepared to accept the referee’s decision, good, bad or otherwise, and I’ve had some shockers in my career. I’ve had some go my way as well.

“I’ll cop that because I just want the game to be played. But when we’re complaining about decisions every week, this is what’s going to happen.

“People are going to forensically scrutinise everything to make sure they’re comfortable it’s right, and even at the end of that, we’re still not happy.

“It’s just diminishing the authority of the referee. You can’t tell me referees are in control of games. They’re not. Control is outside of that, but that’s where the game’s going. You have to accept it and try and deal with it.”

Pochettino reflected on a game in which, despite a host of contentious decisions, he felt his team were deserved victors.

“I think we deserved to win,” he said.

“We forced them to make too many mistakes. Tottenham were better in the first 15 minutes but then we matched the game. Our performance was good.

“Everything you can see during the game I think was fair. We compare to the Tottenham/Liverpool game, a similar game like today. Liverpool complained. But today, everything that happened was fair. That’s why I think 4-1, the performance was good.”

Ange Postecoglou lamented that VAR has diminished the authority of referees after he watched nine-man Tottenham lose for the first time in the Premier League against Chelsea.

It was a frenetic meeting between the two rivals that saw five disallowed goals, two red cards, a penalty and two Spurs players forced off during the first half with injury, as Mauricio Pochettino marked his return to north London with a memorable 4-1 victory.

But the match was dominated by VAR’s involvement with the red cards two of nine decisions referred to the video referee.

Even with nine men the hosts continued to take the game to Chelsea and were well in the contest before Nicolas Jackson twice sprung their high line in stoppage time to add his team’s third and fourth goals and complete an unlikely hat-trick.

Postecoglou’s team had been comfortably on top in the first half before Cristian Romero’s red card in the 33rd minute, dismissed for a dangerous challenge on Enzo Fernandez and conceding the penalty from which Cole Palmer equalised Dejan Kulusevski’s deflected goal.

Destiny Udogie was also dismissed on 55 minutes, receiving a second yellow card for a foul on Raheem Sterling, but it took a further 20 minutes before Chelsea finally took the lead for the first time through Jackson.

Spurs’ night was compounded by the loss of James Maddison and Micky van de Ven to injury on top of what is likely to be a three-game ban for Romero.

But it was VAR’s impact that dominated Postecoglou’s thoughts after the game after a total of 21 minutes were added on at the end of each half.

“It’s hard to analyse from a football perspective,” he said.

“We’re left with a result which is disappointing, but super proud of the players’ efforts and will and desire to get something from the game.

“(Lengthy VAR pauses) are going to become the norm, I think it’s where the game is heading. Unfortunately it’s how we’re going to have to watch and participate in football from now on.

“I don’t like it. I don’t like the standing around, the whole theatre around waiting for decisions. But I know I’m in the wilderness on that.

“In my 26 years, I was always prepared to accept the referee’s decision, good, bad or otherwise, and I’ve had some shockers in my career. I’ve had some go my way as well.

“I’ll cop that because I just want the game to be played. But when we’re complaining about defections every week, this is what’s going to happen.

“People are going to forensically scrutinise everything to make sure they’re comfortable it’s right, and even at the end of that, we’re still not happy.

“It’s just diminishing the authority of the referee. You can’t tell me referees are in control of games. They’re not. Control is outside of that, but that’s where the game’s going. You have to accept it and try and deal with it.”

Pochettino reflected on a game in which, despite a host of contentious decisions, he felt his team were deserved victors.

“I think we deserved to win,” he said.

“We forced them to make too many mistakes. Tottenham were better in the first 15 minutes but then we matched the game. Our performance was good.

“Everything you can see during the game I think was fair. We compare to the Tottenham Liverpool game, a similar game like today. Liverpool complained. But today, everything that happened was fair. That’s why I think 4-1, the performance was good.”

Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola will not change his habit of coaching his players on the pitch in the immediate aftermath of games despite Roy Keane’s claim that it is “all for show”.

Guardiola was seen talking to Erling Haaland after last Sunday’s 3-0 Manchester derby win at Old Trafford, going over the first-half header City’s top scorer had missed and the almost identical second-half opportunity the Norwegian buried.

It is something Guardiola has done for years – he had a similar animated chat with Haaland on the pitch at Burnley at the start of the season, and back in 2019 interrupted City’s celebrations after their 6-0 FA Cup final win over Watford to make a point to Raheem Sterling.

Former United captain Roy Keane was unimpressed last weekend, saying on Sky Sports that Guardiola was doing it for the cameras and should “get down the tunnel, enjoy your victory”, but the City boss said he often wants to make his point while it is still fresh.

“I respect a lot Roy Keane,” Guardiola said. “Sometimes I finish the game and go inside, sometimes I stay there. When I find a player we chat about the game. I know the camera is there.

“At that moment I was outside, wanted to (celebrate) with the fans, especially away. For the fans United is an important game.

“We chat about the second goal, the miss for the last minute (of the first half) with the (Andre) Onana action. He could be better, stronger.

“The header (could be) stronger to put the ball in the back of the net with more power. It happened with Erling in Burnley. I can avoid it.

“Maybe Roy is right but it happens. I don’t need at my age to do something for the people.

“Sometimes I go inside, sometimes say hi to the referees. It’s what I feel in the moment.

“I don’t think after the game to go to the players to do some spectacle for the people…

“I could have done it inside, of course. I’ve done it many times in the locker room – look at that image, that action.

“It’s fresh, the players have that image in the moment. Sometimes you make the impact that remains here (in the head).”

Haaland’s brace at Old Trafford took him to 13 goals in 15 games for City this season.

The 23-year-old hit 52 in all competitions last season, his first in England, when a player who had often suffered niggling injuries at Borussia Dortmund benefitted from a month off during the World Cup break.

There will be no such opportunity this time around but Guardiola said he had no concerns over his star man’s fitness at present.

“He’s so important for us, he feels really fit now,” Guardiola said. “Sometimes he had niggles, he came from Dortmund. Now it’s completely the opposite, he feels free.

“Today I saw him training with incredible energy. I don’t think about March, April, May. We try to win games to be contenders for the competitions.

“We will see, if he goes down, he takes a rest. Now, he’s feeling good. Having him on the pitch gives us confidence and is an incredible threat…

“He scored a lot of goals, every game he has a lot of chances to score more. So incredible, a lovely player for us. We use him a lot.”

Chelsea boss Mauricio Pochettino wants his side to convert this season’s lack of continental competition into a successful set of domestic cup runs.

The Blues moved one step closer to securing a first Carabao Cup since 2015 with a 2-0 last-16 victory over Blackburn on Wednesday night, and will host Newcastle in their December 19 quarter-final.

Should Chelsea go all the way, Pochettino would become just the third Blues manager in club history, after Gianluca Vialli and Jose Mourinho, to lead the five-time winners to a League Cup in his first season with the club.

He said: “We need to think that this is an important competition for us because we are not in Europe, and that should be the priority for us, like the Premier League, and when in January we start the FA Cup.

“Of course, we need to think that we can win this competition.”

Chelsea, 11th in the Premier League with just 12 points from their first 10 top-flight matches, sit 10 points behind Aston Villa, currently occupying fifth and the Europa League group stage position, and may need to defy recent odds to lift the League Cup.

Every winner since the 2017/18 season has also finished top four in the Premier League, though Chelsea have reached two finals in the last five seasons.

Pochettino’s ranks got a boost on Wednesday night, welcoming captain Reece James back to the starting line-up for the first time since August and Benoit Badiashile marking his first appearance since May with the opener at Stamford Bridge, where Raheem Sterling fired in the Blues’ second.

Still, the Argentinian knows there is work to be done and a morale boost necessary to improve on their 2-0 defeat to Brentford last Saturday and just one Premier League win at home, August’s 3-0 victory over newly-promoted Luton, particularly with Premier League leaders Tottenham followed by title holders Manchester City up next.

He said: “After Saturday it was important for us to win the (Blackburn) game, to go through in the competition, of course too many (missed) chances, we need to be more clinical, but that you cannot change from Saturday to (Wednesday), and now we try building the confidence.

“Now we’re looking forward to the next round but now to prepare for the next two games that are so important and into the international break.”

Blackburn boss Jon Dahl Tomasson was impressed by his side’s fight against their Premier League challengers, with the average age of his starters just 22.6 years old.

Blackburn particularly impressed in the first half, defending well inside their 18-yard box to deny Chelsea early chances, while Rovers were left to rue a potential Conor Gallagher handball shout that could have been a game-changer for the Championship side.

He said: “It’s true, we always need a bit of luck when you’re playing against a team who is on another level, because Chelsea is of course an excellent team, but still we need to be honest.

“They were better than we were. Nothing wrong with that. They should be better than we were.”

Chelsea boss Mauricio Pochettino is taking a “careful” approach with captain Reece James, who started a match for just the second time this season in the Blues’ 2-0 Carabao Cup victory over Blackburn.

James, who has been making his way back to full fitness after sustaining a hamstring issue in August, played 61 minutes of Wednesday’s tie before he was swapped for Malo Gusto.

Benoit Badiashile netted the opener in his first appearance this season, while Raheem Sterling added a second after the break to book the Blues a quarter-final clash with Newcastle.

Pochettino said: “The plan was to check at half-time how (James) was feeling, and after 15 minutes he starts to feel tired and we’re checking from the second half, and we need to be careful how we manage him.

“We decide to make the change because I think it is important now, the progression, and being careful about not going back, sometimes (you) play 90 minutes and maybe take some risks, but we need to avoid this.

“It’s true that we cannot 100 per cent avoid risk, but the plan is to go little by little.”

Badiashile, who had not appeared for Chelsea since May, broke the deadlock on the half-hour mark after Leopold Wahlstedt’s save deflected favourably into his path.

Both sides had penalty shouts go unanswered by referee Tim Robinson before the break, including a potential handball on Conor Gallagher that could have swung momentum in the visitors’ favour, but Sterling’s top-corner strike made it a comfortable second half for the hosts.

Blackburn had their chances – Harry Leonard firing just wide moments after the interval and substitute Arnor Sigurdsson coming close in stoppage time – but never looked close to a comeback in front of the 3,000 fans who had made the trip south.

Jon Dahl Tomasson was convinced his Rovers side should have been awarded a spot-kick, but was pleased by how well his youthful side responded to their top-flight opposition.

The Danish boss, who believes cup football is “extremely important” said: “It was a great challenge, and I think our fans will be proud of this young Rovers team playing against a top team in Europe.

“The millionaires from the Premier League against the young guns from the Championship and do a challenge and an effort like this, I think the boys will learn a lot from this game.

“When you play at this level you need to make a decision quite quick, the intensity is high, the decision-making needs to be right and I thought actually we had some great attacks on the ball as well.

“I’m sure this young group will take a lot from this game.”

Benoit Badiashile scored the opening goal as he made his first appearance of the season in Chelsea’s 2-0 Carabao Cup victory over Blackburn at Stamford Bridge.

The France defender had not started a Blues match since he was injured in their draw with Nottingham Forest in May and got himself involved at both ends of the pitch in a game that also saw Reece James return to the starting XI.

Raheem Sterling fired home after the break, and while the visitors had defended well, they never looked close to coming back into the contest.

Chelsea have now reached their 24th quarter-final in 33 attempts, and are one step closer to lifting a first League Cup since 2015, when Blues boss Mauricio Pochettino was in charge of runners-up Tottenham.

Backburn had not played a League Cup contest at Stamford Bridge in 26 years and over 3,000 supporters made the trip, hoping to do one better than they did in 1997 when Rovers were knocked out after a penalty shootout.

There was little excitement inside the opening exchanges, which, save for two wasted corners for the hosts and Dilan Markanday’s left-footed effort running wide, was largely characterised by two sides simply trying find an early footing.

It took just over 15 minutes for Chelsea to finally test Leopold Wahlstedt through a drilled effort from James which the Swedish goalkeeper just managed to get enough of his body in the way to make the stop.

Badiashile did well to clear away a Blackburn chance before James tried again, this time with a low effort from distance before Enzo Fernandez forced Wahlstedt into a low save at the right post.

Blackburn continued to frustrate the Blues, winning back possession inside the penalty area, while Wahlstedt was able to palm away Conor Gallagher’s dangerous cross, but the rebound somehow sailed between a sea of bodies.

It eventually landed at the feet of the fortunate Badiashile, who dutifully finished to open the scoring after 30 minutes of a half that also saw penalty shouts from both sides brushed aside by referee Tim Robinson.

Harry Leonard fired inches wide of the right post to start off the second half, while Fernandez could only send his next effort straight into the arms of Wahlstedt, who would soon have no chance of stopping Chelsea’s second.

After some good work by Cole Palmer to win the ball deep inside Blackburn’s half, Sterling latched on to the ball at the edge of the area and powered a shot into the top right.

Both managers took the opportunity to make changes, and the visitors were prevented from conceding a quick third when Palmer’s effort took a dangerous deflection off James Hill and whizzed toward the goal before Blackburn were saved by the left post.

Chelsea pushed for a third with both Gallagher and Sterling sending efforts across the face of goal as the clock wound down on Blackburn’s cup campaign, though not before substitute Arnor Sigurdsson came close to firing in a stoppage-time consolation.

Mauricio Pochettino believes Raheem Sterling can prove Gareth Southgate was wrong to leave him out of another England squad after the Chelsea forward inspired his side to a 4-1 come-from-behind win at Burnley.

Days after Southgate left him out of the squad for next week’s internationals, Sterling took his frustrations out on his old Manchester City team-mate Vincent Kompany and Burnley, having a hand in all four Chelsea goals, scoring one.

Sterling has not played for England since last year’s World Cup, and although fitness accounted for his absence in March and he asked not to play in June while he focused on getting fully back up to speed, Southgate has now chosen to leave him out of the last two squads.

But at Turf Moor he showed what England are missing as he was the man to open up Burnley after the Clarets had taken a surprise early lead through teenager Wilson Odobert.

Sterling’s cross deflected off Ameen Al Dakhil for the equaliser and he then won the penalty which Cole Palmer scored for his first Chelsea goal at the start of the second half. Sterling got his own goal in the 65th minute before having a hand in the fourth, finished by Nicolas Jackson.

“I think a player with his experience knows he needs to perform and to show the manager of the national team he was wrong in the decision,” Pochettino said. “Only with performances and scoring goals is he going to show he deserved to go.”

Although Sterling stole the headlines, Pochettino was keen to talk up the overall team performance as Chelsea made it back-to-back league wins for the first time since March, scoring four or more goals for the first time since thrashing Southampton 6-0 in April 2022.

“It was a fantastic performance, they deserve it and I’m happy for them to go into the national break with a different feeling,” Pochettino said.

“We need to be consistent. We have good competition, a very talented squad but at the moment for different reasons we cannot use all of the potential from the squad. But I think with time we are going to be in the position we want to be.

“With all the players fit there will be massive competition and that’s going to be good for the team to keep the level we need to fight for big things.”

Burnley’s worries are different. They have now equalled the record of five straight home defeats to start a top-flight campaign, joining Manchester United (1930-31), Portsmouth (2009-10), Bolton Wanderers (2011-12) and Newcastle United (2018-19) on the unwanted number.

Of the other four, only Newcastle avoided relegation in the same season.

“We had a very solid foundation defensively (last season), the best defence in the league but it’s a different level now and everybody has got to level up,” Kompany said.

“I wish there was a magic wand to solve everything but it’s a lot of work on the training ground to get the basics right. We’ve done it in games and done it well but it’s been spells and that’s our own mistake and we have to work on it.

“It’s extremely difficult against teams like this. We need a little bit of luck and we need to take chances…Performances have not been the issue, just the different calibre of players. A couple of them I’ve played with myself and I know what they can do to teams.”

Kompany, who was part of two title-winning City sides with Sterling, could only puff out his cheeks when asked about his old team-mate.

“He’s a top player,” he said.

Raheem Sterling made a point to Gareth Southgate as he sparked a Chelsea comeback in a 4-1 win at Burnley, who slumped to a fifth consecutive home defeat to start the Premier League season.

Burnley stunned Chelsea 15 minutes in when 18-year-old Wilson Odobert became the Clarets’ youngest Premier League scorer.

But Sterling, again snubbed by the England boss for next week’s internationals, helped turn the game around either side of half-time as Chelsea maintained their long unbeaten record at Turf Moor, where they have only once dropped points in nine visits in the Premier League era.

It was Sterling’s cross that deflected off Ameen Al Dakhil for a 42nd minute equaliser before he won the penalty dispatched by Cole Palmer early in the second half.

Sterling then capped a fine performance with Chelsea’s third in the 65th minute, hitting a confident strike into the bottom corner before substitute Nicolas Jackson added a fourth, with Sterling again involved in the build-up.

Coming off the back of Monday’s 2-0 win at Fulham, Chelsea have won back-to-back Premier League matches for the first time since March, but these remain baby steps for Mauricio Pochettino’s side, who were arguably second best for much of the first half.

Vincent Kompany showed no sentiment in making four changes to the Burnley side that took their first league win of the season at Luton on Tuesday night, and was rewarded with a surprise early lead.

Lyle Foster cut in from the right but as he saw his own angle to shoot rapidly closing, the South African unselfishly played in Odobert who threaded the ball between Marc Cucurella and Robert Sanchez.

Burnley were suddenly in buoyant mood. Fans might have been disappointed to see Luca Koleosho only on the bench but Odobert and Mike Tresor, both making their first starts, made them forget with some fearless attacking play.

The pair almost combined for a second in the 22nd minute as Odobert sent in a cross from the left and Tresor capitalised on a sleeping Chelsea defence to win the ball, then missed the target.

Chelsea, who had not won in their previous 19 Premier League games when conceding first, initially struggled to muster a response, but Sterling looked like Chelsea’s best way back into the match and so it proved.

He went close in the 37th minute, beating two defenders before trying to put the ball through the legs of James Trafford, who just about kept it out.

But there was nothing Trafford could do five minutes later when Sterling’s cross took a wicked deflection off Al Dakhil to loop into the net.

Two minutes into the second half, a sudden burst of speed from Sterling took him away from Vitinho, who clipped the Chelsea man on the edge of the box.

Stuart Attwell pointed to the spot and a lengthy check from VAR Darren Bond allowed Cole Palmer time to pick the spot for his first Chelsea goal as he sent England under-21 team-mate Trafford the wrong way.

Odobert saw a dipping, curling shot touched over by Sanchez, but it was Chelsea who scored a decisive third 10 minutes later.

Moises Caicedo won back possession with two challenges on the half-way line and Gallagher quickly picked out the run of Sterling, whose confident finish found the bottom right corner of the net.

Burnley fans started to head for the exits in the 74th minute when Sterling crossed to Palmer, who found Jackson, on as a substitute on his return from suspension, and he skipped away from Dara O’Shea in front of goal before applying the finish.

Odobert and substitute Koleosho both threatened for Burnley late on, but they became only the fifth side to start a season with five consecutive home defeats in top-flight history.

England manager Gareth Southgate is hoping for a positive update on Bukayo Saka after selecting the Arsenal star despite fears over his fitness.

Having failed to finish the matches against Tottenham and Bournemouth, the 22-year-old again left the field early in Tuesday’s 2-1 Champions League defeat at Lens.

Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta admitted afterwards that it “didn’t look good” for Saka, yet the forward was still named in Southgate’s 26-man squad two days later.

The England boss is awaiting news on the national team’s back-to-back men’s player of the year and has not given up on him being available for this month’s double-header against Australia and Italy.

“He’s still being assessed,” Southgate said of Saka, who faces a race to be involved for Arsenal against Manchester City on Sunday before attention turns to international matters.

“Obviously, they’ve got a big game this weekend and then there’s another seven days before we play Australia and 10 days before we play Italy as well.

“So, everybody will monitor everything as we go forward.”

England could wrap up their place at Euro 2024 this month, with the Wembley qualifier against Italy following their friendly under the arch against Australia.

Uncapped Levi Colwill and Eddie Nketiah got the nod along for the October fixtures, while Ollie Watkins received his first call-up since March 2022 and Jarrod Bowen returned for the first time since that September.

But there was no place for Mason Mount, James Ward-Prowse or Raheem Sterling, with the latter having not added to his 82 caps since the 2022 World Cup.

Asked if he spoke to Chelsea forward Sterling like he did last month, Southgate said; “No, we spoke before the last squad.

“As I said, we’ve been happy with the wide players and the performances in the last four games, in particular, and the two in March. The team are playing really well, so clearly there’s some stability there.

“We have added Jarrod Bowen in those wide areas – I mean, he scored five in seven games, he’s playing really well.

“With the Australia game as well, there’s an opportunity to learn some different things as well.”

On Watkins, who Southgate saw score a hat-trick for Aston Villa against Brighton at the weekend, he said: “There’s a little bit with Callum Wilson as well, so he’s carrying an injury.

“Not certain he’d be available. Ollie has started the season well. He’s hit a bit of scoring form in the last couple of weeks.

“You have to be careful with that because you can’t just go on recency bias when you’re looking at selection, but he is in good form.

“He’s obviously coming in on a high and he’s been with this before.

“We know his character, we know his personality. He’s a good guy around the around the group.

“Team are playing well, he’s playing for a club that are really well coached and the team are in a good moment.”

Ben Chilwell and Eberechi Eze join Wilson in missing this month’s matches through injury, while Harry Maguire, Jordan Henderson and Kalvin Phillips retain their place despite questions over their spots.

John Stones returned having missed a September camp that ended with a 3-1 win in Scotland, who are vying with England for Elliot Anderson’s international future.

The 20-year-old left the last Scottish camp after two days following his first call-up to the full squad and last week indicated he wanted more time to consider his international future.

“I haven’t (spoken to him),” Southgate said of the Newcastle talent. “I mean those things (Football Association technical director) John McDermott deals with that, really.

“So, I think we’re the same as Steve. We’re respectful that those sorts of decisions are big decisions and we don’t want to pressure anybody.

“We like Elliot, we think he’s a very good player, got high potential.

“He’s obviously at a club that are absolutely flying, so, yeah, we’ll just have to wait and see.

“But we’re very much respectful that if he needs time to think that through we completely understand.”

Gareth Southgate says Raheem Sterling is “not particularly happy” to have been overlooked for an England recall.

The 28-year-old is one of the national team’s most experienced players but has not added to his 82 caps since December’s World Cup quarter-final exit to France.

Sterling missed the March meet-up through injury and a nagging hamstring issue led to what his camp described as a “mutual decision” to recuperate his body after a rocky first season at Chelsea.

But the forward’s expected return did not come to pass, with the forward the most eye-catching omission from Southgate’s 26-man squad for the Euro 2024 qualifier against Ukraine and friendly in Scotland.

“We were really pleased with the group (in June),” the England manager said.

“To bring Raheem back in we have to leave someone else out and on the back of three games I didn’t think anybody in this group of attacking players warrants being left out.

“It’s really good to see him start the season so well. He looks in good condition, he looks hungry.

“He’s obviously an important player for us and has been an important player for us.

“But we have in those attacking areas just behind the nine a lot of competition for places.

“I think all of those players have started the season well and certainly the group that are with us has done really well for us in the in the recent games.”

Put to the England boss that Sterling has missed three squads in a row, Southgate said: “He was not available for the last two and of course that’s given other people the opportunity to play well and to establish themselves in the group.

“It’s a difficult call and Raheem is not particularly happy about it, but I understand that because he’s an important player for us.

“I’m convinced he’s going to have an excellent season with Chelsea, there’s no doubt about that.”

Sterling has started Chelsea’s first three Premier League matches of the season, including scoring twice and providing an assist in Friday’s 3-0 win against Luton.

A statement from the player’s camp on Thursday read: “Raheem will revert to the coach for all comment but would like to reinforce that the decision has been respected. Raheem will continue to focus on his domestic form.”

While Sterling was overlooked, Southgate kept the faith with England vice-captain Jordan Henderson despite his controversial move to Saudi Arabia club Al-Ettifaq.

There was also a place for former Manchester United captain Harry Maguire and Manchester City midfielder Kalvin Phillips, despite neither having played a minute of club football.

 

 

Harry Maguire retains his place in the squad despite not featuring for Manchester United this season (Martin Rickett/PA)“With Harry Maguire, we’ve lost a lot of experienced players in terms of caps at centre-half, so we’re giving some less experienced players the opportunity to come into the squad,” Southgate said.

“Unfortunately it looks like Tyrone (Mings) is out for most of the season. John Stones is out for this camp. Eric Dier hasn’t appeared in Tottenham’s squad.

“If I’m looking at all the players we’ve given caps to in the last few years, Conor Coady is also out and playing in the Championship now so there is a space there.

“I think, for these two games, it’s important we have some experience in that area of the pitch.

“Clearly with Harry and with Kalvin Phillips, it’s far from ideal that they’re not playing football.

“But similarly with Kalvin, I think Declan Rice was the only English player to start at the weekend as a single pivot and Kalvin is the next best positioned to do that.

“Hendo can play there, Conor Gallagher could play there, but it’s not the best position.

“We’ve got players play in the league that are playing in a double pivot. Someone like Angel Gomes is doing that but it’s a different sort of role.

“So, yeah, it’s not a good situation that those guys aren’t playing football but in certain positions we have a lot of depth in in other positions we don’t have a lot of depth.”

Southgate largely stuck with the tried and tested, but there was a place for uncapped Chelsea defender Levi Colwill and, more surprisingly, Arsenal striker Eddie Nketiah.

“Two young players who are doing very well, who have done well with our junior teams,” Southgate said. “Levi, of course, had some time with us in the summer anyway.

“Eddie is coming in because it’s an area where we’d like to have a look at him.

“He’s a young player with a really good pedigree, very good finisher and it’s good for him to have some time with us.

“I think he’s record goalscorer with the Under-21s as well.

“He’s not had the chance to work with us up to this point but he’s a player that we’re really interested in.”

Mauricio Pochettino insisted Raheem Sterling deserves the credit for turning his Chelsea career around after his two goals fired the team to a 3-0 victory over Luton at Stamford Bridge.

Sterling endured a disappointing debut campaign in west London but has looked a player transformed since his new manager took charge, and cemented a sensational return to form with a match-winning display against Rob Edwards’ newly promoted side.

His first strike was a particularly fine solo effort, cutting in from the wing and beating three defenders before sliding the ball home.

But it was his second midway through the second half that transformed the atmosphere inside Stamford Bridge, sweeping first-time into the bottom corner from Malo Gusto’s pinpoint cross.

Chelsea’s third – the first time in more than 10 months that they had held a three-goal lead in the Premier League – saw Sterling turn provider as his nonchalant ball driven into the centre was finished off by Nicolas Jackson for his first Chelsea goal.

And Pochettino said that ever since his first conversation with the player when he “held up a mirror” and asked him which position he most loves to play, the catalyst for change has all been down to Sterling.

“I can only talk from day one when we arrived,” said Pochettino. “We had a conversation. His commitment in the way that he wants to provide and contribute for the team, his work ethic and quality.

“I repeat again, I think he deserves the full credit for his performance. We’re very pleased and very happy, he has the quality and he can provide the team goals and assists. Then when we don’t have the ball, working really hard to recover it as soon as possible.

“I’m so pleased for him. He told me it was a difficult season for him last season. I’m very pleased when a player is happy, an offensive player who can score and assist, for us it’s the best feeling.

“Our first conversation with all the players, our conversation with Raheem, I love to ask the position they love to play, how they feel, how they see themselves; to put a player in front of the mirror.

“It’s not the position, it’s the animation and the way the team is going to link in between them. It’s to find the best position, the dynamic of the game when we are playing an offensive situation, to provide the best platform, position and place and link with the player where they can (show) their best quality.

“It’s really important, the process. Time to work to create all these links and this animation and to know each other, we need time. When you want to build a team in the process that we are, it’s matter of time.”

The crowning moment of Pochettino’s first win in charge came when summer signing Jackson was rewarded for an energetic, committed display by knocking in his first goal for the club.

The manager was full of praise for the 22-year-old’s performance and hinted that he has the potential to insert himself amongst the Premier League’s all-time goalscoring greats.

“We are not asking for him to run a lot and press and recover the ball, because it is his quality,” said Pochettino. “His work ethic is amazing and then he is fast, to run in behind the defensive line and then the quality into the feet.

“It’s only a matter of time that he’s going to score goals also. He’s amazing. It’s difficult to find a player like him in the market. For me he’s going to be one of the great strikers. He has the potential to be.”

Despite watching his side lose for the second time in two games since their top-flight return, Luton boss Edwards said his players could hold their heads up after competing well with Chelsea before Sterling’s decisive intervention caused the game to slip away.

“We don’t like losing, but I can accept it when there’s a performance like that,” he said.

“The players were committed, we gave it absolutely everything. We just came up short in both boxes. I’m extremely proud to be involved with this football club and these players.

“We were very resilient and incredibly brave. We went man for man, tried to press them, tried to take the ball. For a time in the second half, we had the territory. I could smell a goal coming, but it was them unfortunately.”

Raheem Sterling became the most expensive English footballer on this day in 2015 after completing his £49million move from Liverpool to Manchester City.

The 20-year-old England forward, who was assigned the number seven shirt, was also City’s record signing.

City’s interest in Sterling had been an open secret for some time, but Liverpool were desperate to retain his services.

However, they were fighting a losing battle from the moment Sterling told manager Brendan Rodgers he wanted to leave following his return for pre-season training and requested not to be included in the party for the club’s pre-season trip to Australia and the far east.

Liverpool rejected a series of offers from City as they held out for their £50m valuation of their prize asset, but the two clubs eventually reached agreement and proceedings moved on swiftly.

Sterling began his career at QPR and joined the Reds for an initial fee of £600,000 as a 15-year-old in 2010. He was handed a senior debut as a 17-year-old and was twice named the club’s young player of the year.

After completing his move to City, Sterling said: “It’s a good feeling and this is a really happy time for me and my family.

“I’m just glad it’s all over and done with and I can’t wait to get on the training field.

“The thing that excites me the most is the world-class squad we have and knowing we have a team that is capable of winning things year in, year out.

“The more quality players that are around you, the more quality it brings out in you, so I can’t wait to get started and play alongside them.”

Sterling won four Premier League titles, one FA Cup and three League Cups at the Etihad Stadium, scoring 131 goals in 339 appearances before joining Chelsea in July 2022.

Raheem Sterling was the headline absentee as Gareth Southgate handed Eberechi Eze his first England call-up and ended Lewis Dunk’s time in the international wilderness.

Having kicked off Euro 2024 qualification with wins over Italy and Ukraine, attention turns to June’s straightforward-looking doubleheader against Malta and North Macedonia.

Sterling is the most eye-catching absentee for those games as a difficult first season since swapping Manchester City for Chelsea comes to a frustrating conclusion.

The 28-year-old has not played for England since the World Cup quarter-final exit to France – when a burglary at home disrupted his preparations – as injury ruled him out of the March camp.

“I spoke with him a week or so ago – a general catch-up,” England boss Southgate said.

“He’s not happy physically with his condition, having been carrying a hamstring problem. He really wasn’t in consideration.

“So, we didn’t get to the point of whether he should be in or out. He doesn’t think he is operating at the level he needs.”

A representative for Sterling called it a “mutual decision” that allows the player to focus on “recuperating his body in preparation for the upcoming season”.

The 28-year-old is determined to play a key role for England next term and Southgate says he can get back into the fold ahead of next year’s finals, as can omitted Tottenham defender Eric Dier.

“As we’ve shown with Tyrone (Mings) coming back (this time) and other players like Trent (Alexander-Arnold) coming back in, the door is always open when players are playing well,” Southgate told BBC Radio 5 Live.

“Eric and Raheem both have physical issues really at the moment that they’re dealing with, so there’s part of that is behind that decision as well.

“But there’s another year to go before the Euros and it’s possible for everybody to get in that squad.”

Mings, Alexander-Arnold, Callum Wilson and Sam Johnstone returned to the England squad as Southgate has largely stuck with the tried and tested for the Group C games, with Crystal Palace attacking midfielder Eze the only uncapped player named in the group.

The 24-year-old finally get his shot with England after an Achilles injury cost him a place in the provisional Euro 2020 squad.

“We have liked him for a long time,” Southgate said.

“He was very unfortunate just before the Euros. We were going to call him into a prep camp to have a look at him and he got a bad injury.

“I remember talking to Roy Hodgson about him then and Roy telling me he’d picked up an injury in training that day.

“I think he has finished the season really strongly, he can play in a couple of positions across that attacking line.

“He’s a goal threat, he’s got nice ability and bursts of speed to go past people and to take people out of the game with dribbling skills.

“We’re looking forward to seeing him a bit closer and everybody I speak to talks brilliantly about him as a person as well.”

Dunk has played for England but the Brighton captain has not been selected since winning his first cap against the United States in November 2018.

“Brighton’s football this year has been exceptional and Lewis Dunk and Levi Cowell have been a big part of that,” Southgate said.

“He’s shown great composure with the ball, he’s asked to defend very often one against one situations and he thoroughly deserves his call.”

The squad also includes Marcus Rashford, who missed March’s fixtures and last featured for England in a qualifier in the run to the last Euros.

“He’s a super player who’s had a really good season, so he’s an important player for us,” Southgate told talkSPORT.

“We’ve not been blessed with having him to be able to put in the team too often but we’re hoping that’s different. And we’re looking forward to seeing him again.”

There is no place for Ben White, who has not featured for England since leaving Qatar after the World Cup group stage due to personal reasons.

“I spoke with Ben before the camp in March,” Southgate added.

“But at the moment, we’ve got (Kieran) Trippier and (Kyle) Walker in that area of the pitch.

“He’s had a very good season, as have the whole Arsenal team, but he’s not ahead of those guys at the moment.”

Arsenal face another major obstacle in their quest to land a first Premier League title in 19 years when they travel to Liverpool on Sunday.

The Gunners have historically struggled at Anfield, though Mikel Arteta's men have passed most tests this season en route to opening up a healthy lead over Manchester City.

While Arsenal will be looking to continue their good form, having won seven league games in a row, it is the start of another new chapter for Chelsea when they head to Wolves.

Frank Lampard was this week appointed as caretaker manager for the rest of the season following the sacking of Graham Potter, with Chelsea way down in 11th place.

There are plenty of other big games at the top and bottom of the division this weekend, not least at Old Trafford where Manchester United and Everton face off.

United got their top-four hopes back on track in midweek and will be seeking some momentum when they take on an Everton side sitting level on points with the bottom three.

Here, with the help of Opta data, Stats Perform has provided some key insights and predictions.


Manchester United v Everton

United have dominated this fixture down the years, with their 38 Premier League wins against Everton the second most one team has over another after the Red Devils themselves against Tottenham (39 wins).

Erik ten Hag's men have won both meetings with Everton in all competitions this term – 2-1 in the league at Goodison Park and 3-1 in the FA Cup on home soil – and could make it three wins in a single campaign against them for the third time (after 1993-94 and 2015-16 seasons).

Everton have improved since Sean Dyche took charge, picking up 12 points from their nine league games under him, with that seven more than they managed in their final 12 games under Lampard.

Best bet – Everton to score at Old Trafford: The Toffees' away form this season may be terrible, as is their overall record at United, but they have scored in each of their past nine Premier League games at Old Trafford, with that the Red Devils' longest run without a clean sheet against a single opponent in the competition.

Long shot – Everton to avoid defeat: Scoring away at United is one thing; holding on for a point or more is another. Everton have won just one of their past 29 away league meetings with United, but their past three visits to Old Trafford have finished all square.

Opta prediction: United failed to win any of their six matches in the early Saturday kick-off slot last season, but they have won all three such games this campaign, including a 2-1 win over Manchester City in January. Everton have won just two of their past 31 away league games, meanwhile, and Opta's model gives them only a 20.6 per cent chance of winning at Old Trafford. United are given a 52.7 per cent chance of success, meanwhile, and the draw is rated at 26.7 per cent.

 


Wolves v Chelsea

Chelsea have failed to win on their past two league visits to Molineux, but the good news is that their most recent victory there came in September 2019 under Lampard.

Wolves are unbeaten in their three Premier League games against opponents from London under the watch of Julen Lopetegui, having failed to win any of their previous 11 such matches prior to the Spaniard's arrival.

The Blues have picked up just 16 points from 14 away top-flight matches, which is their lowest return after 14 road games in a single campaign since 2000-01 (nine).

Best bet – Wolves to win without conceding: Given Chelsea's form, a Wolves win this weekend would hardly be the biggest of surprises – especially considering Lopetegui's men have won their past three league games against sides starting the day above them without letting in a goal (1-0 v West Ham, 3-0 v Liverpool and 1-0 v Tottenham).

Long shot – Raheem Sterling to score or assist: The Chelsea winger has been directly involved in just one goal in his past six matches, but since the start of the 2019-20 campaign, only Manchester City playmaker Kevin De Bruyne (nine) has been directly involved in more league goals at Molineux than Sterling among visiting players (three goals, two assists).

Opta prediction: Wolves are winless in their past four Premier League games against Chelsea since beating them 2-1 at Molineux in December 2020. The Blues will be hoping the new (well, returning) manager bounce pays off and the Opta model makes them favourites to win with a 42.3 per cent backing, compared to 27.9 per cent for Wolves and 29.8 per cent for the draw.

 


Liverpool v Arsenal

Arsenal are facing Liverpool as Premier League leaders for the ninth time, with the previous eight occasions producing a total of 33 goals at an average of over four per game.

Since briefly surrendering top spot to Man City following a 3-1 defeat in February, Arsenal have won their last seven Premier League games. They have scored at least three goals in six of these, including the last five in a row.

Liverpool have won five of their last six Premier League home games (D1), including each of the last three by an aggregate score 11-0. The Reds have not conceded in any of their past seven hours and 26 minutes of league football at Anfield, since Kiernan Dewsbury-Hall's strike for Leicester City in December.

Best bet – Mohamed Salah to score or assist: The Egypt international is expected to be recalled by Jurgen Klopp and that could spell bad news for Arsenal. Salah has been involved in 105 league goals in 105 games at Anfield for Liverpool (74 goals, 31 assists) and has scored in three successive home league appearances for the Reds.

Long shot – Arsenal to lose without scoring: The Gunners have lost on their last six league visits to Anfield, conceding at least three goals each time. They have failed to score against the Reds on 20 occasions in the Premier League era, which is their worst record against any team in the division.

Opta prediction: Arsenal won the reverse fixture with Liverpool 3-2 in the first major sign they were the real deal this season, though not since the 2009-10 campaign have they pulled off the league double in this fixture. They have a 22.6 per cent chance of doing so this weekend, according to the Opta model, while Liverpool are rated at 51 per cent to pick up the three points. A draw is given a 26.4 per cent chance of happening.

Chelsea have been handed a boost as head coach Graham Potter prepares to welcome Reece James and N'Golo Kante back from injury for their Premier League game against Aston Villa.

Having played the last six minutes in England's 2-1 away win against Italy, James withdrew from the England squad with an injury but has been training with Chelsea since.

Kante has not featured since August after suffering a hamstring injury that required surgery, but is in line to feature against Villa after playing in a series of behind-closed-doors friendlies during the break.

"Reece has had the last two training sessions with us so providing there is no reaction he should be available," Potter said at a press conference on Friday. 

"N'Golo has had some time on the pitch, some game time, so that's good for him.

"We have to manage that because he's been out for so long but I'm pretty sure he will be out on the pitch at some point."

Potter also confirmed that Saturday's fixture will come too soon for defensive trio Thiago Silva, Cesar Azpilicueta and Wesley Fofana, while Raheem Sterling is also set to miss the game. 

"Silva and Azpilicueta are still away. Raheem and Fofana are coming back but will miss the game, they have more of a chance for Tuesday [v Liverpool]," Potter said.

Mason Mount was another forced to pull out of the England squad with a pubic bone injury and has endured a tough season with just three Premier League goals so far.

The 24-year-old's contract expires at the end of next season but despite rumours over his future at the London club, Potter was full of praise for Mount's attitude.

"Mount has trained and is available, probably not for the start," he said.

"It's been tough for him because he's had niggly injuries and noise off the pitch. He's a top professional, how he's acted with me and around us has been top. 

"Sometimes if things in your career aren't optimal, you've got to act well and he has."

Chelsea sit in 10th place in the league and look to bounce back from their disappointing 2-2 draw with relegation-threatened Everton.

Unai Emery's Villa are level on points with the Blues in 11th and are unbeaten in their last four league games.

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