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FA Cup third and fourth round replays could be scrapped this season as clubs look to catch up on games postponed following the death of Britain’s Queen Elizabeth.

The replays were ditched in each of the last two seasons, and the PA news agency understands this is one solution under consideration to solve the fixture backlog.

Last weekend’s Premier League programme was called off as a mark of respect and two more high-profile fixtures, at Chelsea and Manchester United, have been cancelled this coming Sunday.

It leaves clubs facing a potential fixture pile-up later in the season, exacerbated by the pause in the campaign caused by the World Cup in Qatar.

Seven top-flight matches will take place over the weekend, with Brighton v Crystal Palace the other game off having already been postponed due to planned rail strikes.

“Following extensive consultation with clubs, police, local Safety Advisory Groups and other relevant authorities, there was no other option but to postpone the three fixtures,” a Premier League statement read.

“The Premier League would like to thank the UK Football Policing Unit and other police forces across the country, as well as our broadcast partners, for their support during this process, and will continue to liaise with them ahead of the weekend.

“For the matches being played during the period of national mourning, tributes will be paid to the Queen at Premier League stadiums.

“New dates for the postponed matches will be announced in due course.”

The kick-off times for two of Sunday’s games have also been altered, Brentford v Arsenal now starting at 12 noon rather than 2pm and Everton v West Ham starting at 2.15pm.

Thursday’s Europa League game between Arsenal and PSV has been postponed with police resources in London stretched in the build-up to the Queen’s funeral on Monday, September 19.

But Chelsea’s midweek Champions League game against Red Bull Salzburg will go ahead as planned, and the midweek EFL programme is unaffected.

In Scotland, Rangers’ Champions League tie with Napoli has been put back a day to Wednesday, September 14th, due to “severe limitations on police resources and organisational issues”.

However, professional domestic football in the country will resume this weekend, the Scottish Football Association said on Monday. The Football Association of Wales said all its competitions can resume from Tuesday.

All EFL matches scheduled for Tuesday and Wednesday are set to go ahead.

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Roberto De Zerbi has been appointed as Brighton’s new head coach.

The 43-year-old Italian was most recently in charge at Shakhtar Donetsk but left the club in July because of the ongoing war in Ukraine.

He has signed a four-year contract with the Seagulls, subject to a work permit, and was announced on Sunday evening as the successor to Graham Potter, who departed for Chelsea earlier this month.

De Zerbi earned rave reviews for his style of football during a three-year tenure at Sassuolo, leading them to two eighth-place finishes in Serie A, and he won last year’s Ukrainian Super Cup with Shakhtar.

Brighton owner Tony Bloom said: “I am absolutely thrilled. Roberto’s teams play an exciting and courageous brand of football, and I am confident his style and tactical approach will suit our existing squad superbly.”

De Zerbi met with Bloom, chief executive Paul Barber and technical director David Weir in London earlier this week and flew into Sussex on Friday night before watching a behind-closed-doors friendly at the Amex Stadium on Saturday afternoon.

As a mark of respect to the Queen, De Zerbi will not be formally introduced to the media until Tuesday afternoon.

Weir said: “Roberto has shown his undoubted ability with his work in Italy and Ukraine, and what he achieved at Sassuolo certainly stands out.

“In his short spell with Shakhtar he enjoyed further success, leading the club to cup success and topping the Ukrainian league before the war brought an abrupt halt to his time there.

“We are delighted to welcome Roberto and we look forward to introducing him to our squad as well as providing all the support he needs to introduce his coaching philosophy and help the players continue their brilliant start to the season.”

De Zerbi is set to bring his coaching staff with him after Brighton revealed contracts have been agreed although they will all require work permits, which the club hope will be granted ahead of their next fixture against Liverpool on October 1.

Barber, who is also deputy chairman, said: “We looked at a range of excellent candidates but Roberto was our number one choice from the start and the only person we spoke to.

“It’s no secret our chairman is constantly monitoring potential coaches, both here in our domestic leagues, throughout Europe and across the world as part of our succession planning work.

“We feel Roberto is the ideal cultural and technical fit for Brighton & Hove Albion, and the right person to continue the club’s progress and work with this outstanding group of players.”

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Neal Maupay’s first goal since February saw Everton’s summer signing end the club’s winess start to the season with a 1-0 victory over fellow strugglers West Ham.

The Frenchman, who has scored in all three of his Premier League starts against the Hammers, struck with a well-taken goal which was a rare highlight in a match between two teams who have endured difficult starts.

His goal made light of the continued absence of Dominic Calvert-Lewin, who has not featured this season because of a knee injury on the eve of the campaign, after Lampard erred on the side of caution by giving him until after the international break to regain full fitness.

Initially that was at the expense of any attacking threat with Maupay relatively anonymous, Demarai Gray off his game and even Anthony Gordon, their one bright spark so far, struggling to make his mark.

In fact, only Idrissa Gana Gueye, on his first start since returning to the club from Paris St Germain in the summer, provided any real class with his reading of the game in a poor first half.

But when your defensive midfielder, a week away from his 33rd birthday, is the best player in a team which had scored only four league goals against opponents who had managed three, it highlights the issues Lampard has going forward.

West Ham, who started the match one place below their hosts in 18th, were hardly any better even after back-to-back Europa Conference League wins as they had the only two shots on target of six in the first half.

Jarrod Bowen’s early cross was somehow diverted around the near post by Conor Coady, captaining the side in the absence of the injured Jordan Pickford, as the former Wolves centre-back continues to add a sense of control and calmness to what was a chaotic defence last season.

Even a booking for hauling down Michail Antonio on halfway line failed to ruffle the England international as he completed the remaining hour with little concern.

Neither side looked capable of scoring until Maupay struck in the 53rd minute with a goal out of nowhere.

Alex Iwobi threaded a pass through the tightest of gaps between Declan Rice and Kurt Zouma and the ex-Brighton forward’s first touch teed up the ball for a low volley past Lukasz Fabianski.

Former Everton boss David Moyes immediately sent on on Maxwel Cornet and Said Benrahma and from there it was a test of the Toffees’ resilience, which had been a major weakness in their battle against relegation last season.

Tomas Soucek flashed a header across goal but Coady and fellow new arrival James Tarkowski are made for such situations, not only for their defensive capabilities but their leadership qualities.

However, even they needed help from a post to keep out Benrahma’s curling shot which left Pickford’s deputy Asmir Begovic rooted to the spot.

But the goalkeeper was more active in saving from Cornet late on, with the Hammers forward also squeezing a shot wide as the visitors pressed but failed to find the equaliser.

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Arsenal climbed back to the top of the Premier League and avenged last year’s humbling at Brentford with a clinical 3-0 victory.

The Gunners were back at the scene of their dismal opening-day defeat last season which pre-empted their worst start to a campaign for 67 years.

But they are a different animal this term and proved it with an organised, inventive display and three well-taken goals from William Saliba, Gabriel Jesus and Fabio Vieira.

Such was Arsenal’s dominance that Mikel Arteta could even afford to give 15-year-old midfielder Ethan Nwaneri a late run-out as a substitute, making him the Premier League’s youngest player.

Brentford have put four past Manchester United and five past Leeds at the Gtech Community Stadium in recent weeks, but they could not lay a glove on Arsenal with England new boy Ivan Toney an isolated presence in attack.

Gabriel Martinelli had already passed up a good chance when the Gunners took the lead in the 18th minute, Saliba’s glancing header from Bukayo Saka’s corner bouncing off the inside of the far post.

Bees keeper David Raya tried to scoop it out but the ball was well over the line and referee David Coote’s watch buzzed to indicate a goal.

Ten minutes later Jesus doubled the lead with another header, this time from a neat chip into the box from Granit Xhaka.

Saka should have made it three moments later after a defensive mix-up but the England winger blazed his shot over.

The second half began in a similar vein and when Saka laid the ball off to Vieira 25 yards out, the Portugal midfielder – on his first Premier League start since his £34million switch from Porto – took aim and curled a superb finish in off the post.

Toney’s only real chance came with a free-kick, from around the range in which he fired home the second goal of his hat-trick against Leeds.

This time the 26-year-old flicked the ball up before taking aim and sent his shot narrowly over the crossbar.

Having set two goals up, Saka fancied one himself but he was denied from the edge of the box by a flying save from Raya.

Toney had tweeted “nice kickabout with the boys” in the aftermath of last season’s win, a message which infuriated Arteta.

The Arsenal fans were quick to remind the striker, ending the match with a rendition of “Ivan Toney, a stroll in the park” while celebrating heading into the international break on top of the league.

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Heung-min Son responded to being dropped by coming on and ending his goal drought in style with a sensational hat-trick in Tottenham’s 6-2 hammering of sorry Leicester.

Spurs boss Antonio Conte left the South Korean on the bench following an eight-match run without finding the net but called for his forward in the 65th minute and he responded with a remarkable treble.

Tottenham already led 3-2 at this point after Harry Kane, Eric Dier and Rodrigo Bentancur efforts had cancelled out goals from Youri Tielemans and James Maddison for the visitors.

It was a second consecutive heavy loss for under-fire Leicester boss Brendan Rodgers to ensure they remain bottom of the Premier League and winless.

Dier had marked his England recall with a goal while Maddison responded to his latest international snub with another fine strike.

But it was Son who stole the headlines to ensure talk of his barren run became old news on a historic day where the two clubs paid tribute to the Queen.

Son was dropped following the midweek loss at Sporting Lisbon, the first first time he had started a Premier League match on the bench when fully-fit since July 2020.

The Queen was remembered ahead of kick-off with floral wreaths laid by both clubs and a minute’s silence, which was momentarily spoiled by some shouting between a smattering of fans around the stadium.

Once play did get under way it was full-throttle in N17 with three goals in 21 minutes.

Leicester took a surprise early lead when Tielemans fired home from the penalty spot at the second attempt.

Davinson Sanchez gave away the spot-kick for a reckless lunge on James Justin but Hugo Lloris briefly spared his blushes with a superb save to deny Tielemans.

Lloris had moved off his line too quickly though and the Leicester midfielder made no mistake with his second penalty, again sending it towards his left and this time scoring in the seventh minute.

A leveller was immediately found by Spurs as Kane struck.

Dejan Kulusevski, back in the team at Son’s expense, produced a trademark excellent delivery to the back post where Kane headed home his 20th goal in 19 appearances against Leicester.

The league’s basement club were soon in the familiar position of trailing when Dier netted.

Ivan Perisic directed his corner to the near post where centre-back Dier flicked on to find the net for the second time this season.

Not long after Leicester were saved by referee Simon Hooper from conceding another set-piece goal when Wilfred Ndidi’s own goal was ruled out for Sanchez’ foul on goalkeeper Danny Ward.

The Foxes did improve and deservedly went in level at half-time when Maddison lobbed Lloris from Timothy Castagne’s cut-back in the 41st minute.

It was the perfect response to another snub from England boss Gareth Southgate but he should have grabbed a second in stoppage time only for Lloris to make a fine save from close-range with his feet.

After a breathless opening 45, the second period started in the same fashion with Bentancur making it 3-2 within 120 seconds.

The Uruguayan won back possession from Ndidi, ran at the Leicester back four and curled home to open his account for the club.

There was a brief lull following the fifth goal but the Foxes started to build up momentum again by the hour mark and Lloris made a pivotal one-handed save to thwart Patson Daka.

Conte had seen enough and brought on Emerson Royal, Cristian Romero and Son.

The latter, with a point to prove, duly did that with 17 minutes left to end his drought in spectacular fashion.

Bentancur passed into Son’s path and he ran at the Leicester defence before he curled home from 22-yards.

Son’s celebration hinted at his frustration at starting on the bench, but he was not done there.

A stunning second followed on his left foot, after Kane’s pass, before he netted a third.

Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg sent Son clear and he fired past Ward again but initially saw the offside flag raised. VAR ruled he was on to ensure the South Korean left the pitch with the matchball.

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Gareth Bale thanks Real Madrid and confirms departure

Gareth Bale has confirmed his expected departure from Real Madrid in a letter to team-mates, staff and fans at the Santiago Bernabeu.

Bale, who was the world’s most expensive player when he joined Madrid from Tottenham in 2013, is out of contract at the end of this month.

The Wales forward has played a key role in winning 16 major honours while in Spain, including a remarkable five Champions League triumphs.

Bale has scored three Champions League final goals, including a memorable overhead kick against Liverpool in 2018. Only Cristiano Ronaldo (four) has netted more.

But the 32-year-old was an unused substitute for Madrid’s most recent triumph on Saturday – again versus Liverpool – and featured in only seven minutes during an epic European campaign.

Restricted to just seven appearances in all competitions after returning from a loan spell at Spurs, Bale’s exit had long been anticipated.

In a post on Twitter on Wednesday, he wrote: “I write this message to say thank you to all my team-mates, past and present, my managers, the backroom staff and to the fans that supported me.

“I arrived here nine years ago as a young man who wanted to realise my dream of playing for Real Madrid. To wear the pristine white kit, to wear the crest on my chest, to play at the Santiago Bernabeu, to win titles and to be part of what it’s so famous for, to win the Champions League.

“I can now look back, reflect and say with honesty that this dream became a reality and much, much more.

“To be a part of this club’s history and to achieve what we achieved while I was a Real Madrid player, has been an incredible experience and one I will never forget.

“I also want to thank president Florentino Perez, Jose Angel Sanchez and the board for giving me the opportunity to play for this club.

“Together we were able to create some moments that will live forever in the history of this club and football. It has been an honour.”

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United confirm Pogba exit with Frenchman available on free transfer

An official statement read: “The club can announce that Paul Pogba will leave Manchester United at the end of June, upon the expiry of his contract.

“Everyone at the club would like to congratulate Paul on his successful career and thank him for his contributions to Manchester United. 

“We wish him all the best for the next steps on a remarkable journey.”

French international Pogba, who came through the youth ranks at Old Trafford, re-joined the Red Devils in 2016 from Juventus for a then-record fee of £89.3million.

His second stint has been one of frustration however as the club struggled to compete with the likes of Manchester City and Liverpool.

Pogba did help United to Europa League glory under Jose Mourinho in the 2016-17 season and a run to the final in 2020-21, where they lost to Villarreal 11-10 on penalties.

But his trademark virtuoso performances have been few and far between in recent times and he was booed by some of his own supporters in this season’s closing fixtures.

He has been restricted to just 27 appearances this term in all competitions and with talks over an extension reaching an impasse months ago, his departure has long felt inevitable.

Where the 29-year-old will head next remains uncertain, though former club Juve are known to be keen on a reunion.

The World Cup winner is also likely to attract attention from elsewhere but his excessive wage demands may price many interested parties out of the race.

Pogba’s future may become clearer upon the release of his upcoming Amazon Prime documentary, titled The Pogmentary.

Set to premiere on July 17, a trailer teased on Pogba’s social media seems to suggest his contract situation features prominently.

Pogba made 226 appearances during his second spell at Old Trafford, scoring 39 goals and setting up a further 51.

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Lewandowski and Bayern still Poles apart as Barca eye swoop

Robert Lewandowski has been the Bundesliga’s top scorer for five seasons in a row — but German rearguards may soon be set for some respite. 

Barcelona are reportedly ready to make a move for the Bayern Munich star this summer, with contract negotiations in Bavaria reaching an impasse. 

Ahead of Poland’s clash with Wales this evening, we consider whether Bayern’s No9 will be heading to the Camp Nou in the coming months.

There is no doubt that the loss of Lewandowski would be a devastating blow for German champions Bayern. 

The 33-year-old striker has been a figurehead for Die Roten since his switch from Borussia Dortmund in 2014 — breaking records galore during his time at the Allianz Arena. 

He hit the ground running upon arrival, netting the fastest ever five-goal haul in Bundesliga history during a nine-minute demolition of Wolfsburg in 2015. 

And Lewandowski has not stopped scoring since, winning eight consecutive league titles, three DFB-Pokals and a Champions League. 

The talisman has also become the second most prolific marksman in Bundesliga history with 312 goals, behind only Gerd Muller (365). Yet, uncertainty looms over whether he will surpass the legendary German’s total.

With just a year remaining on Lewandowski’s current deal, speculation of an exit has dominated proceedings in Bavaria this term. 

Running down a contract is certainly in the striker’s playbook — that is how he sealed a free transfer to Bayern eight years ago. 

Murmurs of a move away from Munich emerged after Die Roten’s hierarchy reportedly refused to match Lewandowski’s demands. 

The German champions typically only give players over the age of 30 a one-year contract — but the Pole is believed to want a two-year deal. 

He is also already FCB’s highest earner and officials are said to feel that a salary increase would impact the club’s wage structure.

Reports last month suggested that Lewandowski’s next destination is most likely to be Barcelona after he demanded an exit this summer rather than waiting to become a free agent in 2023.

Manager Xavi has made it clear to the Blaugrana board that he would like to sign a striker in the upcoming window as his side bid to dethrone rivals Real Madrid in LaLiga. 

Barca have already missed out on one forward from Germany after Erling Haaland secured a move to England with Manchester City. 

And despite the Catalan outfit’s well-documented monetary issues, it is believed that they will still be able to pay high salaries.

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Premier League footballer Kurt Zouma has been ordered to carry out 180 hours’ community service and banned from keeping cats for five years after kicking and slapping his pet in a disturbing home video posted on Snapchat.

The 27-year-old West Ham defender showed no emotion as he was handed the sentence at Thames Magistrates’ Court in east London on Wednesday.

He drew international condemnation after footage emerged of him volleying the pet across his kitchen, before throwing a pair of shoes at it and slapping its head, saying: “I swear I’ll kill it.”

District judge Susan Holdham described the actions as “disgraceful and reprehensible”.

Ms Holdham said: “The cat looked up to you to care for its needs.

“On that date in February you did not provide for its needs but you caused unnecessary suffering for your own amusement.”

A West Ham spokesman said the club hopes “everyone will allow Kurt the chance to learn from his mistake and move on”.

Zouma pleaded guilty last week to two counts of causing unnecessary suffering to a cat, after blaming the family pet for damaging a chair.

His two Bengal male cats have since been signed over to be rehomed.

The court was told the “premeditated” attack was filmed by his younger brother, lower-league footballer Yoan Zouma, 24, in February, and sent to a woman he was due to go on a date with.

But the woman was so shocked that she called off their meeting, telling him: “I don’t think hitting a cat like that is OK – don’t bother coming today.”

The court heard Yoan had 80 followers on Snapchat, and only five accounts viewed it before it was deleted a few minutes after being posted.

Yoan admitted one count of aiding, abetting, counselling or procuring his older brother to commit an offence.

Sentencing the pair, the district judge said: “Both of you took part in this disgraceful and reprehensible act with this pet cat.

“You must be aware that others look up to you and many young people aspire to emulate you.”

Kurt Zouma was handed 180 hours’ community service and told to pay court costs of nearly £9,000.

He was also banned from keeping or caring for cats for five years.

Yoan was ordered to carry out 140 hours’ community service.

The hearing lasted 15 minutes.

The court heard Hammers defender Zouma had been subject to racist abuse and threats, lost a “substantial” sponsorship deal with Adidas, was fined £250,000 and had no longer been picked for the France national team since the furore over the footage emerged.

But his legal team’s claims in court that seven people are to be prosecuted for abusing Zouma were later dismissed by police.

A West Ham club spokesman said: “West Ham United wishes to make clear that we condemn in the strongest terms any form of animal abuse or cruelty. This type of behaviour is unacceptable and is not in line with the values of the football club.

“Within 48 hours of the footage emerging, we fined Kurt the maximum available to the club.

“Every single penny of this money is now with a number of deserving charities, all dedicated to animal welfare.”

In a statement, RSPCA chief inspectorate officer Dermot Murphy said: “We hope this case will serve as a reminder that all animals deserve to be treated with kindness, compassion and respect, and that we will not tolerate cruelty by anybody.”

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Manchester City are planning to make more signings this summer, chairman Khaldoon Al Mubarak has revealed.

The Premier League champions have already secured a deal for the much-coveted Borussia Dortmund striker Erling Haaland and their attack will be further boosted by the arrival of Argentina international Julian Alvarez.

Yet that is unlikely to be the end of the transfer activity ahead of next season with manager Pep Guardiola also looking for additions in other areas.

Speaking in his annual end-of-season interview with the club’s website, Khaldoon said: “I can confirm that there will be more players coming in.

“We are looking to strengthen the team in the areas that we need strengthening, and every season some players leave and we have to continually refresh the team.

“I think we’ve made two very important additions already but I anticipate we will be doing a couple more.”

Of the business done so far, Khaldoon is convinced City have pulled off a coup in securing the services of Haaland.

The prolific 21-year-old will move to the Etihad Stadium for £51million after City saw off interest from other clubs.

Khaldoon said: “We have, in Haaland, arguably the best number nine in the world at the right age.

“When you look at the next 10-15 years we have invested, in Haaland, in that striker for the future.

“He is a very, very unique, incredibly talented striker that I think the whole world has been looking at. I would say every big team in the world wanted Haaland to join and we are absolutely delighted Haaland chose to join Manchester City.

“For us, it’s a super decision. We are getting, truly, a phenomenal player. He will fit very nicely with the group.”

Next season will be Guardiola’s seventh at City and the last of his current contract.

There has been speculation about the inspirational Spaniard’s future but, after negotiating extensions with him in his final year twice previously, Khaldoon does not see it as a matter of concern.

He said: “It is a partnership that has done wonders over the years. It is approaching its seventh year and next year is going to be an exciting chapter of this partnership, and we’re enjoying every moment of it.

“We’re achieving great things together and this conversation will be had at the right time, at the right pace, and with the pace, time and framework that works for Pep.”

Khaldoon added that Guardiola is not under any additional pressure to win the Champions League, which is the one major trophy that has eluded him at City.

He said: “You don’t need to put any extra pressure on Pep, he puts enough pressure on himself. It is the exact opposite – I try to bring back the pressure because I think he puts too much pressure on himself.

“The pressure is not of winning this competition or that competition. We approach every season to win and to try to win every competition we compete in.”

City secured their fourth Premier League title in five seasons this month but “within hours” thoughts turned to next term.

“Our mindset, while celebratory, immediately flips to the future and how to keep strengthening,” Khaldoon said.