Rodgers: Leicester will keep plugging away

Leicester City manager Brendan Rodgers insists the players are keeping their feet on the ground after a disappointing result at the weekend.

Norwich ended the Foxes' eight-game winning run with a 1-1 draw on Saturday to leave them 10 points behind Premier League leaders Liverpool.

It was the first time Rodgers' side had dropped points since their late 2-1 defeat at Anfield in October.

They remain second and travel to Manchester City next Saturday before hosting Liverpool on Boxing Day and Rodgers wants Leicester to remain calm.

"That's our mantra anyway because you can't control what Liverpool or any other team do," he said, with the Foxes also facing Everton in a Carabao Cup quarter-final on Wednesday.

"We are a team that's been developing over this last nine, 10 months from a mid-table position and now people are talking about challenging for titles.

"For us our feet are very firmly on the ground and the players have been absolutely amazing.

"We will look at today and see where we can be better and improve but they have given everything. They gave everything, it just wasn't enough."

Zidane: Courtois decided to go up for last-gasp corner

Real Madrid head coach Zinedine Zidane has revealed that it was goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois' decision to go up for the corner which helped them draw 1-1 at Valencia.

Zidane's side looked like being beaten on the east coast of Spain after Carlos Soler put the hosts in front with only 12 minutes remaining.

But Belgium international Courtois forced opposite number Jaume Domenech into a save with a header, which fell to Karim Benzema to smash home in stoppage time to claim a point which keeps his side level with Barcelona at the top of LaLiga ahead of Wednesday's El Clasico.

Zidane told Spanish news outlet Marca: "He decided to go up and this shows that we wanted more, that we never give up.

"The equaliser is something that we put a lot of effort into. This is Real Madrid, a team that never gives up. They believed they could do it and they did.

"With everything we did, I think we deserved to score a goal that compensated with the effort of the team.

"Football is like this and you can't complain. You have to accept what football gives you.

"A point is little reward. In the end, we got a big result, but it's a shame because we had a very good first half.

"They were better going forward in the second half and it was even."

Mourinho: Champions League teams don't want to face Spurs

Tottenham manager Jose Mourinho believes Champions League teams will be keen to avoid the north London outfit in the knockout stages.

Spurs, along with Liverpool, Manchester City and Chelsea, will find out their opponents for the last 16 on Monday as the draw takes place in Switzerland.

They finished second in Group B, meaning they can be drawn against one of Barcelona, Paris St Germain, Juventus, Valencia or RB Leipzig.

Mourinho reckons those five teams will be hoping to avoid his side.

"We have five options," he said. "We don't have much to choose.

"Basically every team has five or six options in the draw, the teams that finish first they have better luck than to get Tottenham.

"They have better options than Tottenham, so every team that finished first and has better options than Tottenham, if they get Tottenham in the draw I think they will be very happy to play in our stadium but they know we have a good team."

Reigning champions Liverpool, who beat Spurs in last season's final, will be hoping to avoid a horror draw.

They could be paired with either Real Madrid or city rivals Atletico, with Borussia Dortmund, Lyon or Atalanta their other possible opponents.

Four of those five teams could also be waiting for City, with Napoli a possible opponent instead of Atalanta, who they met in the group stage.

Chelsea look set to get a tough draw as they could face Barcelona, Juventus, Bayern Munich, PSG or Leipzig.

Liverpool and City as group winners get a second leg at home, while Spurs and Chelsea will be away.

The first legs of the last 16 will be played over 18/19 and 25/26 February, with the return legs on 10/11 and 17/18 March.

Arsenal, Manchester United and Wolves will find out their Europa League round of 32 opponents later on Monday.

Solskjaer remains positive despite Everton draw

Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer believes there is reason for optimism despite being held to a draw at home by Everton.

Substitute Mason Greenwood struck a 77th-minute equaliser as United claimed a 1-1 draw against Duncan Ferguson's rejuvenated Toffees at Old Trafford.

The result left United sixth in the Premier League, a place below where they began the weekend, as Solskjaer reaches the first anniversary of his appointment as manager this coming week.

With 25, United are one point worse off than they were when Solskjaer succeeded Jose Mourinho on December 19 last year - but only four points off the top four as opposed to 13 when the Portuguese left.

Solskjaer said: "I've really enjoyed it, I think we're on the right track. One 10-minute spell here was poor, just before they scored, but I'm not going to change my mind from before the weekend.

"I'm looking forward to going into work again because these boys want to improve and learn.

"You always want wins, and you want the momentum to carry on, but we've had three wins since the Aston Villa draw.

"We've taken a few steps forward and this is not a big step backwards, it's more of a stand-still, not improving. We are, as a team and a group, going forward."

Mosimane wants last Sundowns contract to 'be worth it'

Mamelodi Sundowns head coach Pitso Mosimane says he will only sign one more contract with the club as he eyes his departure in five years.

The 55-year-old tactician has enjoyed tremendous success with Masandawana ever since taking over at the club seven years ago and added another trophy to their cabinet on Saturday by winning the Telkom Knockout Cup.

Now Mosimane is in the process of negotiating his final long-term contract with the Brazilians and says he wants a lucrative deal because being a head coach is incredibly stressful.

"Yeah, the contract... I think I have said it, I want to stay. I want to stay, I'm here, so at the moment there's no agreement at this point in time but I hope we find an agreement," Mosimane was quoted as saying by Far Post.

"But what I know is that Sundowns want me to stay and what I know is I want to stay so we need to agree on staying. It's the very first time I'm in this position. I've never been in this position before.

"I've been here for seven years and I've had two contracts, and there has never been any issue I have always signed them any time, any day and I don't think you've heard before about me stalling on a contract.

"I am 55 and I want to go at 60 - this is too stressful. I can't be having this stress all the time. So it is my last contract and I think it must be worth it. That's probably the last contract you know, so I'm here I love Mamelodi Sundowns, the supporters love me and they want me to stay."

Mosimane is reportedly holding out for R1 million per month, according to Phakaaathi.

Gattuso: I need time to turn Napoli around

Newly-appointed Napoli boss Gennaro Gattuso admits his players are struggling for confidence after losing 2-1 at home to Parma.

The former AC Milan boss was handed the reins at the Stadio San Paolo in midweek following the decision to sack Carlo Ancelotti.

Ancelotti left having failed to guide the Naples outfit to a win in seven previous Serie A matches, although he did sign off with a 4-0 Champions League triumph over Genk on Tuesday.

A return to domestic action, even with a new manager at the helm, brought about more disappointment for Napoli though as they slipped to a surprise loss.

Dejan Kulusevski gave the visitors a surprise lead early on before Arkadiusz Milik drew Napoli level in the second period. However, Gervinho finished off a fine counter-attack as Parma snatched all three points.

Napoli are now on their worst run of league form in 19 years and have find themselves in eighth, eight points off fourth-placed Cagliari.

Gattuso believes his players are low on confidence and is confident he can turn their season around given enough time.

"Napoli have potential and we need to start believing in ourselves again, getting the problems out of our heads," said Gattuso.

"This is a great team, made up of very good players, but it’s one of those moments and we are paying for it."

Not only did he suffer defeat in his first game in charge, Gattuso also saw one of his key players go off with an injury early on in the clash.

Kalidou Koulibaly made a mistake for Kulusevski's opener and then left the field with a thigh injury.

Ljungberg urges Arsenal to make managerial appointment

Freddie Ljungberg believes it's crucial that Arsenal appoint a permanent manager as soon as possible after the defeat to Manchester City.

The 42-year-old took charge on an interim basis last month following the sacking of Unai Emery but has been unable to oversee a turnaround in fortunes.

A 3-0 home loss to the reigning Premier League champions means the Gunners have won just one of their last 12 games in all competitions.

Ljungberg's position remains unclear as the club continue to plan for a full-time successor to Emery: with the likes of Carlo Ancelotti, Mikel Arteta and Patrick Vieira in the running alongside the former Sweden international.

With the club now as close to the relegation zone as they are to the top four, Ljungberg feels it would be in everyone's best interest if an appointment were made sooner rather than later after he was also told he could not recruit his own backroom staff before a decision is taken.

"I think, as I've said to the club, it's a great, great honour to do this," he said.

"Of course, Per (Mertesacker) is the academy manager and he's doing two jobs in one go. I think it needs clearing up to make a decision so that everybody knows.

"That's something I've said. It's totally up to the club. I'm very honoured and trying to do things as well as I can, but I think that it would be good to make a decision regardless of what it is."

Arsenal were jeered off by their own fans at half-time but, by the end of the game, the supporters were singing their support for the club as anger appeared to turn to apathy.

"Of course, I'm an Arsenal man and we try everything," added Ljungberg.

"But at the same time we need to be a little bit realistic. There is a gulf in quality between City, Liverpool and the rest. They showed that.

"But for me, I was actually happy and proud of the fans. In the end, they responded positively to the young players that came on.

"Of course they can see there's a difference. But I was proud of the fans when they sang in the end and showed that they appreciated the young boys trying."

One man linked with the job is Arteta - who captained Arsenal during his playing career but is now on the backroom staff at Manchester City.

"I spoke many times," City boss Pep Guardiola replied when asked about the possibility of Arteta leaving for the top job at Arsenal.

"He is part of our group and an important person, but what will happen I don't know."

Sarri annoyed by Juve's complacency

Maurizio Sarri was far from impressed with the Juventus performance in the 3-1 win over Udinese in the Serie A on Sunday.

The Old Lady are temporarily back at the top of the Serie A table after leapfrogging Inter Milan by one point.

They took the lead after nine minutes following Cristiano Ronaldo's fierce strike from the edge of the box.

The Portuguese titan then doubled their advantage eight minutes before half time with a first time shot following a good through ball by Gonzalo Higuain.

Leonardo Bonucci effectively secured the game on the stroke of half time with a solid header.

However, Juve slackened off in the second half and in the dying embers of the contest, they were made to pay by losing their clean sheet.

Ignacio Pussetto handed Udinese, who are hovering just above the bottom three, a late consolation goal.

Speaking after the game, Sarri admitted his side lost control in the second half and he was unhappy with how the match ended.

"The last 20 minutes made me a little angry," Sarri told the press, "we had to do a lot better as a team.

"When 3-0 up the team was almost split in two, which shouldn't happen."

Juve have not been as dominant in the Serie A as in recent season due to the emergence of Antonio Conte's Inter Milan as serious title contenders.

The game was also notable for being Gianluigi Buffon's 646th in Serie A.

He is now just one game off Paolo Maldini’s record, while it was also Buffon's 700th league appearance including Serie B and the French Ligue 1.

Bayern stars want a permanent contract for Coutinho

Philippe Coutinho has been showered with praise by his Bayern Munich team-mates after he netted a hat-trick on Saturday.

The Brazilian netted a treble during Bayern's 6-1 hammering of Warder Bremen which lifted the Bundesliga champions up to fourth in the league table.

His tally for the league season now stands on six goals after making a summer move to Germany following a disappointing 18-month spell in Spain with Barcelona.

He has begun to look more at home at the Allianz Arena with his form steadily improving as the season has progressed.

The 27-year-old has also scored one goal in the Champions League this season as Bayern Munich progressed comfortably to the round of 16 stage after an easy qualification period which saw them win all six games

Overall, it has been a difficult season for Bayern after they parted company with manager Niko Kovac following a 5-1 hammering against his former club Eintracht Frankfurt at the beginning of November.

However, signs are evident that their season is starting to progress under Hansi Flick with Coutinho coming to the fore.

Now, some of his team mates are clamouring for his signature on a permanent basis after being wowed by hit hat trick display on Saturday, which also included two assists.

David Alaba commented post-game: "If you watched the game today, we have to buy him, right?"

Star centre-forward Robert Lewandowski, the league's top scorer with 18 goals, added: "It was outstanding how he did that today.

"We need this kind of player. I'm really happy that he showed what he is able to do."

Bayern next play against Freiburg away in midweek before a home match against Wolfsburg next Saturday completes their 2019.

Solskjaer: Haaland knows what he wants

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has stated that Erling Braut Haaland has already decided what he wants to do, amid January transfer interest.

The Manchester United manager was asked about his reported trip to Austria in midweek when he spoke to the media after his side's 1-1 Premier League draw with Everton on Sunday.

Scandinavian sources claimed a private jet had taken off from Manchester on Friday morning, destined for Salzburg, before returning later in the day and then headed to a small airport in Norway close to where the Haaland family live.

And when the 19-year-old striker, who has scored 16 Austrian Bundesliga goals and eight Champions League strikes for Salzburg this season, was not in the Rote Bullen line-up for their 2-2 draw with Hartberg on Saturday, it all began to fall together.

Solskjaer did not exactly confirm he had met Haaland, but his refusal to even deny he had been in Salzburg left many in the room to conclude he had been on the plane.

Norwegian TV station TV2's reporter asked the question: Do you have any advice on what Haaland will do in January?

"He knows what he wants to do," replied the United boss. "And he knows what to do, so I don't have to give any advice to any players on other teams."

Widespread reports on Sunday morning had stated that the ex-Molde player, who was given his Norwegian top-flight debut by Solskjaer in June 2017, had decided United was the right club for him - in the face of intense competition from Juventus and clubs in the Bundesliga.

RB Leipzig sporting director Markus Krosche hinted last month that the Bundesliga leaders were interested in raiding their former sister club for the teenager in the summer.

However, Haaland's stunning first half of the campaign and United's need to strengthen their forward ranks after failing to replace Romelu Lukaku appear to be accelerating the striker's path to the Premier League.

Matthews: Will be tough for anyone to catch Chiefs

SuperSport United CEO Stan Matthews admits it would take a gargantuan effort to knock Kaizer Chiefs off top spot in the Absa Premiership.

Amakhosi enjoy a 10-point lead over SuperSport and Mamelodi Sundowns at the top of the standings, and with half the season almost gone Matthews knows it will be tough to close the gap.

"It is going to be difficult for any team to catch-up with Chiefs. It will take a hell of a good run for anyone to topple them on top of the log. SuperSport will need to go on the run of five wins in a row and hope that Chiefs slip," Matthews told Independent Media.

"I'll be surprised if they don't go into the market to beef up their squad that they can push even harder in the second round."

Even though Matsatsantsa are currently level on points with Sundowns, Matthews believes Pitso Mosimane's charges are the only realistic challengers for the title.

"Sundowns are capable [of dethroning Chiefs], but for me, I think, it will be Chiefs, Sundowns in the top two. We have to fight Bidvest Wits for the third spot in the league," Matthews added.

"Our target and that is not a mandate, is to finish in the top four, we have not done so since 2012. What I told Kaitano (Tembo) is that we should go for 50 points. We haven't done that since 2012.

"Right now we are on track although I believe that we are six or nine points short. Against Chiefs, we missed a last-minute penalty that was going to give us three points. We drew against Lamontville Golden Arrows, Black Leopards and Stellenbosch FC at home.

"That is eight points dropped. If we had collected those points we would have been in a better position in the league."

Zwane hungry for more silverware

Mamelodi Sundowns midfielder Themba Zwane remains determined to lift more trophies this season after helping his team win the Telkom Knockout Cup.

Masandawana beat Maritzburg United 2-1 in the TKO final at Moses Mabhida Stadium on Saturday and Zwane is eager to keep the momentum going as they target CAF Champions League as well as Absa Premiership glory.

The Brazilians are 10 points behind league leaders Kaizer Chiefs, but they do have a game in hand and Zwane believes they're still in the race.

"If the chance comes I will take it, why not? I feel fresh but in terms of fitness I am still low but if I carry on playing these 90 minutes, the fitness will come up and the confidence will grow," Zwane told the media.

"As long as the time allows me, I want to win as many cups as I can and at the moment I am trying to regain my form and my fitness and this season I am looking forward to winning the league and compete with the best players in the league.

"Each and every season we look forward to lifting the trophy and we did it this time and it motivates us to play the next game and we are really happy to have won this trophy.

"It will motivate us because we still have a chance to do well in the Champions League and we still have a chance to win the league so we need to fight and compete for it."

De Bruyne stars as City heap misery on Gunners

Kevin De Bruyne produced a first-half masterclass as Manchester City secured a comfortable victory over a hapless Arsenal.

Pep Guardiola's side moved to within four points of Leicester as the reigning Premier League champions bounced back from a derby day defeat to Manchester United last weekend to coast to a 3-0 win at the Emirates Stadium.

De Bruyne struck after just 89 seconds before teeing up Raheem Sterling and adding the third himself as he moves on to four goals across his last five City appearances.

Arsenal, whose best chance came before De Bruyne's first effort, were second best for the majority of the contest and have now won just one of their last 12 matches in all competitions.

Interim head coach Freddie Ljungberg has taken four points from his first four league games at the helm and the Gunners, who have not won at home since October 24, now sit seven points off the top four and are the same distance clear of the relegation zone.

Arsenal almost took the lead inside the opening minute, Gabriel Martinelli breaking in behind and wriggling free before testing Ederson in the City goal.

While City were tested at the back early on, they once again showed their clinical nature at the other end of the pitch as they went ahead just moments later.

Kyle Walker was allowed to bound forward before playing in Gabriel Jesus, who squared for De Bruyne to finish exquisitely from just inside the penalty area.

The lead was doubled with just a quarter of an hour on the clock, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang robbed of possession and City again breaking with ease as De Bruyne this time crossed for the unmarked Sterling to tap in at the back post.

Things went from bad to worse for Ljungberg and his players as De Bruyne struck again before half-time and while Arsenal were a man light.

Sead Kolasinac had hobbled off after being unable to recover from an ankle knock but, with substitute Bukayo Saka not ready to make an entrance, City capitalised on the advantage and the Belgian turned home from the edge of the box.

De Bruyne was almost celebrating a first-half hat-trick of tremendous goals only for Bernd Leno to make a stunning save as he turned the latest shot onto the post.

Arsenal would again have the first chance of the half as they looked to reduce the arrears soon after the interval, only for Aubameyang to head off-target.

Jesus should have made it four as he was slipped in by Sterling but he hit his shot wildly over Leno's crossbar before Guardiola opted to replace Phil Foden, fairly ineffective on his first league start of the season, with Bernardo Silva.

Leno again proved the last line of defence after Calum Chambers had lost the ball to Jesus, who failed to turn his chance past the onrushing Germany international.

In truth, City had dropped down a couple of gears from some of the scintillating football of the first 45 minutes but always had their hosts at arm's length.

Substitute Riyad Mahrez and Sterling both came close late on as City played out the closing stages with little threat to their goal and with the swagger of a side who should be closer than the 14-point chasm they have to leaders Liverpool.

Wolves 1-2 Tottenham Hotspur

Defender Jan Vertonghen headed home an injury-time winner as Tottenham Hotspur secured a 2-1 victory over Wolves at Molineux.

Wolves supremo Nuno Espirito Santo named the same starting XI which began the 2-2 draw with Brighton last weekend, while Spurs stuck with the same line-up which started the 5-0 victory at home to Burnley.

Both sides opened up by showing plenty of attacking intent and it was the visitors who broke the deadlock with eight minutes played.

Home keeper Rui Patricio parried an initial effort from Son Heung-min, but was beaten as Lucas Moura picked up the loose ball and cracked a shot into the roof of the net.

Patricio was back in the action shortly afterwards to deny Dele Alli, who had tricked his way past a couple of defenders.

Wolves responded with Adama Traore forcing a block from Paulo Gazzaniga, while Raul Jimenez sent an effort wide as the hosts upped the pressure.

Mexican striker Jimenez then passed up another opportunity after being set up by Diogo Jota, before Eric Dier rattled an upright for Spurs after linking up with Alli.

The second half opened with Gazzaniga making a good claim from a Matt Doherty cross, before the Spurs keeper was down quickly to keep out a low drive from Jimenez.

Harry Kane then took a tumble in the Wolves area, but fleeting penalty claims were waived away by referee Stuart Attwell, before Alli curled a shot just wide from the edge of the box.

Wolves found the equaliser their overall performance deserved midway through the second half as Traore took a pass from Jimenez, advanced and smashed a right-foot shot beyond the despairing dive of Gazzaniga.

Romain Saiss went close for Wolves with a header but Gazzaniga made another fine save and that proved to be even more crucial when Vertonghen netted a Spurs winner in stoppage time, meeting a Christian Eriksen corner with a firm, downward header.

Manchester United 1-1 Everton

Manchester United needed an equaliser from substitute Mason Greenwood to secure a 1-1 draw at home to improving Everton.

The hosts named the same starting XI who began the derby win over Manchester City last weekend.

Caretaker Toffees boss Duncan Ferguson made four changes to the side who defeated Chelsea 3-1, with Yerry Mina, Bernard, Seamus Coleman and Tom Davies replacing Theo Walcott, Morgan Schneiderlin, Djibril Sidibe and Gylfi Sigurdsson.

United went close within the opening minute as Jesse Lingard fired wide following a fine run from Fred, while soon after David de Gea had to be alert to tip away a looping cross from Mason Holgate.

Marcus Rashford and Daniel James both then failed to hit the target when well-placed, before the Toffees were forced to replace injured left-back Lucas Digne with veteran Leighton Baines.

Jordan Pickford was forced to parry a Rashford free-kick as the hosts went on the hunt for an opener, but it was Everton who hit the front nine minutes before the interval.

Baines swung over a corner and the unfortunate Victor Lindelof deflected the ball into his own net, with a VAR check eventually confirming the goal.

The Red Devils threatened from a Fred free-kick early in the second half, but Harry Maguire was just unable to get his head to the set-piece delivery.

Pickford then parried a stinging Luke Shaw drive and the follow-up from James struck Lingard in the face to ensure that the visitors kept their lead intact.

Lindelof fired a shot over the top as the hosts upped the pressure as the game moved into the final 20 minutes, with the visitors somewhat hanging on to their one-goal advantage.

And their resistance was broken 13 minutes from time as substitute Greenwood struck a left-foot shot from the edge of the area into the corner of the net, leaving Pickford grasping at thin air.

Alex Iwobi extended De Gea following a rare Everton counter-attack and, despite some late huffing and puffing from both sides, the spoils were shared when the final whistle sounded.

Alaba backs Flick to lead Bayern

Bayern Munich defender David Alaba says he and the rest of the squad would be happy if Hansi Flick was given the head coach role for the rest of the season.

The Bavarian giants have managed to overcome a slight blip in the Bundesliga by beating Tottenham in Champions League and securing a 6-1 win over Werder Bremen on Saturday.

There has been plenty of speculation as to who will replace Nico Kovac on a permanent basis, with interim boss Flick thought to be one of the contenders.

Flick has been told he will be given the role until at least Christmas but it’s not yet certain if he has done enough to land the job full time, with the likes Massimiliano Allegri and Mauricio Pochettino being linked with the role at the Allianz Arena.

Alaba says he is enjoying playing under Flick and the Austrian international claims he is not alone in the Bayern squad.

“We all feel really good. You can recognise his philosophies very well in our game,” Alaba said.

Meanwhile, Sporting director Hasan Salihamdzic has claimed that the first team squad will not have the last say on who will be the next manager at Bayern.

“Naturally we will look closely at how we work, at how the coach works, and how the players react,” Salihamdzi said.

“But of course we are going to decide that. Sure, the players wish that, but in the end, we don’t have the last word.”

Tomkins eyeing top-10 finish for Palace

James Tomkins has urged Crystal Palace to build on an improved run of form to stake a claim for a top-half Premier League finish.

Defender Tomkins was a member of the Eagles squad which scrapped its way out of relegation trouble last season but, after helping his team-mates climb to 10th with back-to-back victories over Burnley and Bournemouth and a 0-0 draw at Watford, he is now looking upwards rather than over his shoulder.

He told Palace TV: "The target is to break into the top half if we can. Last season, we fought long and hard to keep ourselves up and at the end of it, we did pretty well and made a great job of it.

"But that's not ideally where we want to be, we want to be in and around the other half of the table."

Palace host rivals Brighton on Monday evening in what will be manager Roy Hodgson's 100th game at the helm buoyed by that sequence of results, which followed successive defeats by Leicester, Chelsea and Liverpool.

However, Tomkins saw enough against tough opposition to be confident that they were not very far from where they needed to be.

He said: "We're in a good place, for sure. If you look at the points that we've got on the table so far, it's a good reflection of how our season is going, really.

"We're in the top half of the table, which is nice, but there's obviously still such a long way to go until the end of the season.

"We've had a good spell, playing well against some good teams. When we lost those three games, there were some good teams there and we were there or thereabouts. We gave them a good game, all three of them, but the results didn't really go our way.

"It was important to build some confidence from that going into the games last week, where it was quite physically demanding, to be honest, and we got through it well, undefeated, two wins and a draw, which is pretty good."

Monday's game is regarded as a derby by both sets of fans, and Tomkins admits that will bring added spice.

He said: "Monday night under the lights will be a good atmosphere and it will be a good game to play in, so we're looking forward to the game. It's a massive one for everyone at the club."

Tinkler backs Moseamedi for Bafana call-up

Martizburg United head coach Eric Tinkler believes Judas Moseamedi has the ability to lead the line for the South African national team.

The striker has been instrumental for the Team of Choice this season and thought he had scored an equalising goal late on in the Telkom Knockout defeat to Mamelodi Sundowns on Saturday, only for it to be ruled out for offside.

Regardless, Tinkler is confident the 25-year-old's work-rate and determination make him an ideal prospect for Bafana Bafana.

"Judas is showing the hunger to succeed. I told him at the beginning of the season that he has the potential to play for Bafana Bafana, he is one of those strikers that will chase lost causes,” Tinkler said.

"His work rate is absolutely phenomenal and many people only see him as this really strong and aggressive striker but technically he is also really good.

"He has the ability to take on people on one-vs-one situations and he can even beat people in two-vs-one situations."

Tinkler admits the player is susceptible to fitness issues but praised him for the effort he has put in to alleviate the problem.

"We spoke at the beginning of the season that we need to lose weight because that is one of his biggest problems, he is as big as me so I know that it is hard. If we have a couple of days off," the head coach added.

"He puts on a few kilograms, so he has that downfall. But he has showed the hunger and desire and I am very proud of him because he was in the wilderness.

"Seven months ago he was not even playing at Free State Stars. He has been extremely influential for us this season."

Tuchel: Mbappe not hard to manage

Paris Saint-Germain boss Thomas Tuchel has downplayed suggestions he has a problem with Kylian Mbappe and claims the striker is not tough to manage.

Questions were raised about the relationship between the pair after Mbappe appeared to ignore Tuchel after he was subbed in the 3-1 away victory over Montpellier in Ligue 1.

However, Tuchel has downplayed any concerns of a fallout and says he understands the 20-year-old France international is eager to play every minute of every game.

When questioned if Mbappe was tricky to manage, Tuchel said: “No – we talk too much about that. Kylian always wants to play. Sometimes he is disappointed and he shows it.

“Perhaps you have the impression that he is not easy to manage. But no. It only lasts a few minutes. He’s smart.”

Meanwhile, Tuchel says he has been pleased with the focus of Neymar at PSG after a summer of speculation linking the Brazilian with a return to Barcelona.

The forward appears to have put that behind him and Tuchel has been happy with what he has seen from Neymar, as PSG prepare for Sunday night’s game away at Saint-Etienne.

“I’m very happy. He can show that he’s a very important player for us,” Tuchel added. “He’s a player with a big heart. In the last game (against Gala), he was super reliable, he played with a lot of intensity. Everyone saw him, and for that, it changed.

“I’m convinced that he wants to continue like this. It’s good for everyone, for our fans and the club as well.”

Bruce expects to miss January sales

Steve Bruce does not expect to be doing much business in January despite his Newcastle squad being stretched by injuries.

Bruce was seemingly not a popular choice with the fans as Rafael Benitez’s successor over the summer, perhaps exacerbated by the fact he was given funds to spend, something that was not offered to the Spaniard.

Newcastle broke their transfer record to sign Joelinton from Hoffenheim and also splashed the cash to bring in Allan Saint-Maximin and Emil Krafth, with Jetro Willems a loan arrival, while Andy Carroll returned on a free.

Expectations were far from high for the Magpies but Bruce, so far at least, has defied the critics to lead his side to 11th place in the Premier League table, with a seven-point cushion to the relegation places.

Having beaten the likes of Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester United during an otherwise slow start to the campaign, confidence appears to be growing, with the side enjoying something of a purple patch, having lost just once in the last seven games.

With a busy schedule fast approaching, Bruce’s plans have been hit by a number of key injuries and there has been speculation over whether he would dip into the transfer market in the upcoming window.

Saint-Maximin has been struck down by a thigh injury and is expected to be out for around a month, joining Matt Ritchie, Jamaal Lascelles, Ciaran Clark and Ki Sung-Yeung on the sidelines.

Add to that the doubts surrounding Jonjo Shelvey and Miguel Almiron, and Bruce’s squad is being stretched pretty thin although the manager, perhaps having been told from above, does not foresee too much action next month.

“Our philosophy has been, since I walked through the door, that I want to work with what I’ve got,” said Bruce.

“I’ve said it from day one, since everybody keeps asking me about January up here – if there’s something there that can really improve us, we’ll act.

“But in my experience with January, it’s always difficult. Nobody wants to sell their best players.”

Newcastle will be hopeful of making it three wins on the bounce when they travel to Turf Moor to take on Burnley, who have now suffered three consecutive defeats, conceding 11 goals and scoring just once in the process.