After their season of manager roulette ended with ignominious relegation from the Premier League, here was a hint of stability – even positivity – for Watford

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Fulham dealt ruthless reminder of why their last Premier… ‘Willian for Ballon d’Or!’: Arsenal fans heap praise on new… What now for Jack Wilshere: As West Ham move to CANCEL the… ‘Falling apart already… it’s going to be a long season’:…

Watford were the more vibrant side before half-time before retreating after the break.

Middlesbrough saw chances come and go, with Britt Assombalonga their most dangerous player, but Watford showed a resoluteness often missing last season.

Hoeness accuses Liverpool and Man Utd of ‘blackmail’ over Thiago

Liverpool are the frontrunners, with United also interested, but Hoeness has accused the two English clubs of underhand tactics in order to sign the 29-year-old Spanish international.

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Lionel Messi wore the captain’s armband in his first match since he opted to abandon his plans to leave Barca, although Luis Suarez and Arturo Vidal were left out of the squad as the club is still trying to offload both players.

Schalke was due to host Bavarian side Schweinfurt, but the game was called off on Friday following a complaint from Türkgücü Munich.

Türkgücü contends it should be playing Schalke as it was the local regional league leader ahead of Schweinfurt when the division resumed after its pandemic-induced break. Bavarian soccer authorities had already promoted Türkgücü to the third division for the new season, making second-placed Schweinfurt the best Bavarian amateur side at the time of registration for the cup.

Club record signing Coutinho got the third goal in the 51st, also from the penalty spot, making his first outing for the team since returning on loan from Bayern Munich, with whom he scored two goals in last month’s 8-2 thrashing of Barca in the Champions League quarter-finals.

Antoine Griezmann added to Barca’s advantage by converting a penalty in the 16th minute although defender Javi Bonilla scored a superb goal from the edge of the area to pull one back for Gimnastic on the half-hour mark.

He said:  ‘I said to him (Rob Holding) change your mind because you’re not going anywhere. Again Rob is another one, he’s a difficult time. And now why I have to let him go? He’s playing so why leave this football club.’

09:07

Arsenal submit Raya bid

The Gunners are launching a £10m bid to sign Brentford goalkeeper David Raya. The Bees stopper was omitted from Thomas Frank’s squad in the opening day defeat by Birmingham.

Carragher claims Thiago clamour ‘disrespectful’ to Liverpool midfield

Reports in Germany claim the 29-year-old has agreed terms with Liverpool and is desperate for a move, but Carragher claims it will not be ‘the end of the world’ if the Spaniard does not sign.

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Frank Lampard reveals how he persuades players to join Chelsea

Chelsea have shelled out more than £200million overhauling their squad this summer, and every high-profile new recruit has cited Lampard’s personal touch as pivotal to their signature.

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Arteta said: ‘He is in my plans – a player I like a lot. He knows that he has Eddie (Nketiah) next to him and he’s going to push him. Whoever is in better shape is going to play and that’s the same for everyone.

Fulham dealt ruthless reminder of why their last Premier… ‘Willian for Ballon d’Or!’: Arsenal fans heap praise on new… What now for Jack Wilshere: As West Ham move to CANCEL the… ‘Falling apart already… it’s going to be a long season’:…

BARCELONA, Sept 12 (Reuters) – Barcelona beat second division Gimnastic de Tarragona 3-1 in a pre-season friendly on Saturday, with Philippe Coutinho and Ousmane Dembele each making encouraging returns by scoring in Ronald Koeman’s first game in charge.

It will be Leverkusen´s first game without influential players Kai Havertz and Kevin Volland after their departures for Chelsea and Monaco, respectively, though Peter Bosz´s team has Patrik Schick, who played on loan for Leipzig last season.

Koeman, who changed his entire team at halftime by making 11 substitutions, gave debuts to 17-year-old forward Pedri, new signing Francisco Trincao and American forward Konrad de La Fuente, 19, who stepped up from the club’s reserve side.

The likes of Troy Deeney, Danny Welbeck, Ismaila Sarr and Will Hughes were among a raft of players absent here through a combination of injury, lack of match fitness or simply sitting in the departure lounge waiting for a move before the window shuts next month.

It’s early days of course and the remaining weeks of the transfer window will bring further upheaval, but Watford proved just about superior to a Middlesbrough team who you sense would be more than content with mid-table anonymity.

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