Arsenal join group snubbing Super League, City head for Club World Cup final: football news – live | Football

Key events

The Napoli president, Aurelio De Laurentiis, welcomed the European Court of Justice ruling on the Super League project, saying Uefa and Fifa do not understand the business of the sport and the need to grow club revenues.

Europe’s top court said the ruling bodies had contravened EU law by stopping the formation of a Super League, but clubs and leagues came together to denounce the project, committing to playing in competitions run by Uefa.

Spanish clubs Real Madrid and Barcelona are the only clubs still supporting the Super League project and De Laurentiis said he had discussed the situation with Real President Florentino Pérez.

“The Super League was a wrong move (in 2021), which however brought about this change. Now we need to do some serious thinking,” De Laurentiis told Corriere dello Sport. “I spoke with Florentino Pérez and we agree to put some real entrepreneurs around the table, not just nominal presidents. Because today football is administered by elderly people, but above all they are without vision.”

Napoli, the Italian champions, were not among the 12 clubs behind the original plan for the breakaway league in 2021. The three Serie A teams involved were Juventus, AC Milan and Internazionale.

Aurelio De Laurentiis, Napoli president, says “today football is administered by elderly people”. Photograph: Ciro De Luca/NurPhoto/Shutterstock

Milan and Inter pulled out within 48 hours after an outcry from fans and the threat of sanctions. Juve opted to withdraw earlier this year after the club’s board changed.
The EU’s top court said Fifa and Uefa had abused their dominant position by forbidding clubs to compete in a European Super League.

“The dominant position of Uefa and Fifa, which Europe today censures, has served to bestow bonuses in exchange for consent,” De Laurentiis added. “Those who have governed up to now as monopolists have not understood that football is a business and needs growing revenues.

“If I invest hundreds of millions to participate in a circus that distributes peanuts, makes no profit and forces me to play more and more to keep an unproductive bandwagon going, the game is not worth it.” (Reuters)

Chris Wilder, Sheffield United manager, has spoken about the challenge of going to Villa Park tonight: “What is it, 15 wins out of 15? They’re on a fabulous run,” Wilder said.

“They are a well-coached team with outstanding individuals. It’s a chance for them to go top of the division. A lot of issues we’ve got to solve on the night … but as we’ve talked about, there’s no point getting on the bus if you don’t believe, if you haven’t got confidence in your ability, and your team’s ability, to go and get a result.”

Chris Wilder
Chris Wilder: He believes. Photograph: Ashley Western/Colorsport/Shutterstock

In the Women’s Champions League, Brann pulled off a sensational result against Lyon last night with a 2-2 draw. Sarah Rendell was live-blogging it:

The Women’s Super League is now in hibernation until 20 January, but here for good measure is the Guardian Women’s Football Weekly from earlier this week:

Manchester City v Fluminense, the Club World Cup final, kicks off at 6pm UK time.

It’s available to watch for free on, and we’ll have a minute-by-minute report here too, of course.

Nick Ames is our man in Saudi Arabia. Read his preview:

As for the story below about Sky Sports innovations’ for the Edinburgh derby … mic-ing up the coach sounds like a good idea, but a bodycam on one of the coaching staff “to give a first-person perspective of the team on the pitch from the dugout” sounds potentially rubbish.

If you have been feasting your eyes on our top 100 male footballers in 2023, here is how we ranked them, courtesy of Marcus Christenson:

The Hibernian head coach, Nick Montgomery, will wear a microphone as part of Sky Sports’ live coverage of Wednesday’s Edinburgh derby. The move is aimed at enabling fans watching at home to hear the coaching and tactics from the sideline, while a member of the Hibs coaching staff will wear a bodycam to give a first-person perspective of the team on the pitch from the dugout.

Sky Sports will also be given access to the Hearts team hotel for a pre-match meal, and a bodycam will be strapped to a Jambos player during the warm-up. The enhancements for the Easter Road showdown follows Sky Sports’ EFL ‘Innovation Game’ last season, which included behind-the-scenes access for the broadcast of the Wycombe vs Portsmouth match in League One.

The Scottish Professional Football League chief executive, Neil Doncaster, said: “We’re really pleased to have been able to work with both clubs and Sky Sports to showcase their latest broadcasting innovations, helping put supporters right at the heart of the action in the Edinburgh derby. “It promises to be a cracking game and we’re excited to see how the technology brings the match experience even closer for viewing fans.” (PA Media)

Nick Montgomery of Hibernian.
Nick Montgomery of Hibernian. Photograph: Mark Runnacles/Shutterstock

Good Manchester City stattage from the commentator, Ian Darke, over on Twitter.

Note: he means within the past five games – they beat Luton 2-1 away on 10 December. But they have indeed registered 4-4, 3-3, 2-2 and 1-1 draws in their past five Premier League matches.

In Man City’s last five league games, they have drawn 4-4, 3-3, 2-2 and 1-1.

— Ian Darke (@IanDarke) December 21, 2023

Mikel Arteta and Eddie Howe have already had a chat with the media this morning. Much more coming up: Jürgen Klopp, Erik ten Hag, the lot.

Jacob Steinberg

Jacob Steinberg

In life and football there’s always some kind of risk, isn’t there?” Martí Cifuentes says. The Queens Park Rangers manager is thinking about his unusual journey and remembers the difficult early days at AAB Aalborg. “When I went to Denmark it took six official games for me to win,” the 41-year-old continues. “The headline in the main sport newspaper was ‘The worst coach ever in the history of the Superliga’.”

The barbs washed over Cifuentes. “I am very used to being inexperienced, too young, whatever,” the Catalan says. “I’m just a very optimistic person. I don’t have any magical recipe.”

Chelsea’s Gallagher to Tottenham in January?

Reports swirling this morning that Tottenham may be able to snap up the midfielder Conor Gallagher from Chelsea in the January transfer window.

Any views on that, Chelsea fans? Email me.

Here’s a slightly longer version of what Eddie Howe, the Newcastle manager, said earlier regarding the fresh prospect of a European Super League:

“I’d probably say I’m against it if you want a clear decision because I like the structure as it is,” Howe said. “I think the big thing in England was our supporters of football let their feelings be known the previous time that this was mentioned, and really I think ultimately it’s their call which way they want this to go.”

Tonight brings a significant clash in the Premier League: on-form Aston Villa host Sheffield United looking to hit the top of the pile.

The Villans full-back Matty Cash, speaking to Sky Sports, says the atmosphere is “special” at Villa Park this season.

“It’s amazing. We know they’re behind us. The fans have been amazing this year, as they have done in many years,” Cash says. “But this year at Villa Park it’s different, it’s special.

“Everywhere we go now (around Birmingham), people say: ‘Are you gonna win the league?’ It’s a good position to be in. We’d rather be there than anywhere else.

“The manager is good at keeping us balanced and level-headed. You can’t get too excited in times like this,” Cash says of Unai Emery. “There’s so many highs and lows … he’s got a lot of experience of this. Tucking into the turkey top would be great … but there’s no point having a great achievement at Christmas.

“It’s great where we are but we are focused on the long goal. We’re playing against a tough team against Sheffield United.”

Here is a clip via the Premier League of Lewis Cook throwing a snowball at Wilfred Ndidi. Great festive banter.

Premier League “Big Six” all opposed to European Super League

The Premier League’s ‘Big Six’ have all now distanced themselves from the possibility of joining any new European Super League. Arsenal became the last of the clubs who joined the original Super League in 2021 to confirm their position on Friday.

The Gunners issued a statement saying they will continue in Uefa competitions despite a European Court of Justice ruling which has at least opened the possibility of a club-led tournament to rival the Champions League being launched.

Liverpool have not commented directly since Thursday’s ruling but the it is understood legal consent on the issue of joining new competitions has rested with the recognised supporters’ trust, the Spirit of Shankly (SoS), since the Reds’ withdrawal from the Super League two years ago.

SoS’s statement on Thursday said Liverpool’s position had not changed since 2021. Manchester United, Manchester City, Chelsea and Tottenham all issued statements on Thursday pledging commitment to Uefa competitions.

The original Super League plan fell apart within 72 hours, as the English clubs withdrew one by one amid fan protests, pressure from the British Government and opposition from UEFA and FIFA. (PA Media)

Karen Carney

Karen Carney

Often when managers arrive at a struggling club the immediate response is a complete overhaul in a desperate attempt to turn things around, but in Unai Emery’s 14 months at Aston Villa he has transformed them from relegation candidates to Champions League hopefuls without any such tear-up.

When the Spaniard arrived from Villarreal Aston Villa were 16th in the Premier League and a point above the relegation zone. On Friday night he has a chance to take them top when they host Sheffield United, a match they will be expected to win.

Revealed: The 100 best male footballers in the world 2023

You don’t have to wait until Christmas Day to complete the Guardian’s footballing advent calendar … the votes are in, and our 218-strong panel of experts has named Erling Haaland as top dog in men’s football this year:

The top five:

Erling Haaland
Jude Bellingham
Kylian Mbappé
Harry Kane

Erling Haaland.
Erling: Better than Alfie. Photograph: PA Wire/PA

Sid Lowe

Sid Lowe

In November 2021, Florentino Pérez stood before the members’ assembly and, to a standing ovation, declared that someone should remind Uefa who Real Madrid are, vowing they would not give in on their fight for the Super League. They would go it alone if they had to.

Two years on, he stood before the club’s 14 European Cups, a show of strength even though he stood alone, and said “freedom” had triumphed. So had football, according to Pérez. “Our destiny is in our own hands,” he said. The ruling from the European court of justice, he continued, represented a “before and after”.

Cheerful Roy Hodgson was asked after the 1-1 draw against Brighton if he felt under pressur given Palace’s poor run: “What are you actually coming with there? Feel the pressure in what respect?” he responded.

“Well, I suppose that’s football … if that’s the suggestion, that every time a team slides down the table, the manager should feel under pressure, then I suppose I should feel under pressure.

“But I don’t believe the players could be doing much more than they are at the moment. If that is pressure then I don’t feel it, no, not at all.”

A tremendous header by Danny Welbeck earned a point for Brighton against Palace last night.

Ed Aarons was on the scene for us:

The Wolves head coach, Gary O’Neil, has called on his side to learn from last weekend’s defeat at West Ham and “try to put things right” against Chelsea on Sunday.

“Three counterattack goals gave us no chance to take anything from the game, but they were really easy fixes that we’ve been over with the lads to ensure that we understand,” O’Neil said.

“The first one from a corner, the second one a slight misunderstanding in the structure and the third one, still disappointing, but we’re pushing at that point. It’s my job to analyse the game without emotion and when you do, loads of the stuff in it was really good.

“Numbers were good in terms of final-third entries, penalty-box entries, shots, so lots of stuff in there is positive, but when you lose 3-0 no-one is interested in that, so we need to fix the bits that need fixing and get back onto a home game this weekend and try to put things right.”

Wolves have been boosted by Pedro Neto’s return to training this week, having been out with a hamstring injury since October. The Portugal international provided seven assists in 10 Premier League games before his injury, but O’Neil insisted the club will “protect him” and make sure he is ready before returning. (PA Media)

Pedro Neto.
Neto back? Back of the Neto. Something like that. Photograph: Jack Thomas/WWFC/Wolves/Getty Images

Newcastle are off to Luton in the Premier League tomorrow and their gaffer, Eddie Howe, has been speaking to journalists before the match.

On Antony Gordon’s fitness following a heavy challenge by Moises Caicedo in the Carabao Cup loss at Chelsea: “Horrible challenge on him I thought … really disappointed with the tackle,” Howe says. “We’ll see how he is today.

“Emile (Krafth) had a nasty cut on his shin … he’s quite sore as well … Alexander Isak is 50-50 at this moment.”

Newcastle’s Anthony Gordon (right) goes down following a challenge by Moises Caicedo of Chelsea.
Newcastle’s Anthony Gordon (right) goes down following a challenge by Moises Caicedo of Chelsea. Photograph: Isabel Infantes/EPA

Howe is asked about Luton’s captain Tom Lockyer, who suffered a cardiac arrest last weekend: “Watching the game as I did, it was a really difficult moment for everyone connected with Luton,” Howe says.

“Tom’s the most important thing … it puts football into perspective … we want to send him our best wishes, from everyone connected with Newcastle.”

On playing at Luton tomorrow: “Very difficult place to go. I’ve been there many times as a player … their games at home have been interesting … they ran Manchester City very close. Couldn’t have run Arsenal much closer … they had a good draw against Liverpool … they are physically good and committed to how they play … We’re going to have to be absolutely at our best to win this game.”

“It will be an emotionally charged game … Luton fans will be thinking of Tom. For us, we have to focus on our performance.”

Howe adds he was happy with the performance at Chelsea if not the result: “There’s a lot to take from it. I couldn’t ask any more of the players … we have to analyse that properly and move forward positively.”

And finally, a journalist mentions if he can ask about the European Super League. “It’s probably best you don’t,” Howe says dismissively. “It came out of the blue for me … supporters of football let their feelings be known last time this was mentioned … and ultimately it’s their decision on how they want this to go.”


The European Super League reared its head again this week, and Arsenal have become the latest club to distance themselves from potential involvement. (While failing to entirely rule out that they may take part in future …)

“Arsenal Football Club notes the judgement by the European Court of Justice on Thursday, 21 December 2023 and our position in relation to the European Super League has not changed,” the club announced on Friday morning.

“We will continue to play in Uefa competitions and continue to work with fellow European clubs and the European Club Association (ECA).”

Mikel Arteta, the Arsenal head coach, has also been having a chat with the media. “We love playing in the Champions League, and we’ll continue to do so,” he insisted at his standard 9am media briefing. “The game belongs to the supporters and the players … we have to look after them.”

On the pitch, meanwhile, Manchester City are preparing for the Club World Cup final against Fluminense of Brazil, a match which logically enough takes place in Saudi Arabia. The Gunners are preparing for a seismic Premier League clash against Liverpool at Anfield tomorrow evening, and there’s plenty more going on besides.

Here we go then. Press conferences, team news and European Super League-related teeth-gnashing coming right up.

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