José at it again… as Gonzalo Higuaín says Mourinho wants him at Chelsea

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For most of this summer, we were left wondering if the old José Mourinho we knew and loved had been discarded somewhere in the Santiago Bernabeu.

But now transfer season is hotting up, he’s back with a bang.

After cranking the heat up on Manchester United and Wayne Rooney in the past few days, Mourinho now looks to be hijacking Arsenal’s bid to sign Real Madrid striker Gonzalo Higuain.

Earlier today the Argentine international had this to say. “Mourinho wants me there.”

Simple enough, but those words must be incredibly painful to Arsenal fans who thought a deal to get Higuain was already in the bag.

A move to the Emirates has been speculated for some weeks now, but over the past five to seven days it’s all gone quiet. Ominously so.

That’s because Mourinho could move to upset yet another Premier League team before the season has even begun. We’ve already seen the damage his bid for Wayne Rooney has done at Manchester United, with the club left reeling at the prospect of losing one of their prized possessions to a clear PL title contender.

Now Arsenal are having their summer transfer targets picked off by the Blues, as Mourinho is marking his return to England with the swaggering panache and likeable arrogance we all remember from before.

(MORE: Chelsea and Wayne Rooney, Is this what England missed about José Mourinho?)

Would Higuain fit in at Chelsea? He’s a clinical striker who given a chance will calmly slot the ball home with both feet and is just as adept with his head. Higuain has scored 111 goals in his last 209 games, adding 40 assists in that time. Mourinho loved him at Real Madrid, so there could be some truth in all this.

Chelsea will supply a conveyor-belt of chances to whatever striker plays in the central lone role that Mourinho will likely adopt, it’s down to them to finish the chances. Higuain is perhaps one of the best finishers in the game today, so he’s a good fit.

But does Moruinho really want Higauin like the Argentine claims? Or is the Portuguese manager just playing yet another mind game to get his Chelsea squad ahead of their Premier League rivals?

(MORE: Transfer Rumors, Higuain heading to Arsenal)

If nothing materializes with Higuain to Chelsea and he ends up joining Serie A side Napoli, many will point to Mourinho’s mind games costing Arsenal a top striker.

Arsene Wenger and David Moyes can’t be happy with Mourinho’s antics this summer. With just under a month until the season begins, Mourinho’s rhetoric has already been ramped up several notches.

Just wait until the season begins.

Spanish police dismantle match-fixing scheme in 3rd, 4th tiers

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MADRID (AP) Spanish police have dismantled a match-fixing scheme involving players and clubs in the country’s lower divisions.

Authorities said more than 20 people have been detained as part of the police operation launched on Monday, including players, although no names were immediately disclosed.

The matches under suspicion were in the third and fourth divisions this season and last season.

The match-fixing scheme reportedly involved Chinese betting sites.

The Spanish league said the operation was based on information collected by its analysts about suspicious activities.

UCL preview: Chelsea host Barcelona; Bayern vs. Besiktas

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  • Chelsea vs. Barcelona, at Stamford Bridge
  • Bayern Munich vs. Besiktas, at Allianz Arena
  • Champions League round of 16 resumes on Tuesday

[ UCL: Spurs fight back to draw Juventus | Liverpool thrash Porto in leg 1 ]

Chelsea, mired in some of their worst form since the disastrous 2015-16 season, welcome a Barcelona side enjoying one of the best six-month runs of results in the famed club’s entire history. The Blues have won just four of their last 12 games across all competitions, while the Blaugrana have lost once in 38 games.

On the plus side, Chelsea enter Tuesday’s colossal clash as winners of their last two games — back-to-back wins for the first time in 2018 — having outscored the likes of West Bromwich Albion and Hull City by a combined 7-0. Star striker Alvaro Morata returned to action against Hull after five weeks out with a back injury, thus Antonio Conte has something of a selection dilemma on his hands with the Spaniard perhaps only partially fit, and Olivier Giroud racking up a goal and three assists in the last two games, his first starts for the club.

Barcelona, meanwhile, have conceded just two goals in their last nine games (all competitions) and even managed to overturn their lone defeat, to Espanyol, and advance to the Copa del Rey semifinals (and eventually final). Despite losing Neymar in the summer, Barca mostly cruised through their Champions League group, only dropping points in draws away to Juventus and Olympiacos. Lionel Messi has, strangely, never scored a goal in his eight career appearances against Chelsea, a record which has been spoken about at length in the build-up to Tuesday — similarly to the goal-less record which plagued him against Juve goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon, whom he finally bested back in September.

[ MORE: Man City win big away to Basel | Real Madrid 3-1 PSG ]

In the other round-of-16 first-leg matchup on Tuesday, five-time (soon-to-be six) defending Bundesliga champions Bayern Munich host surprise winners of Group G, Besiktas, ahead of the likes of Monaco, RB Leipzig and Porto.

Since taking over on an interim basis (through the end of the season), Bayern boss Jupp Heynckes has won 21 of 22 games of which he’s been in charge, including four of six games during the group stage en route to finish second behind Paris Saint-Germain, while also racing out to a 19-point lead back home in Germany.

Aguero involved in clash with Wigan fan after FA Cupset

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MANCHESTER, England (AP) Sergio Aguero was involved in a confrontation with a Wigan fan as ugly scenes marred the end of the third-division side’s shock FA Cup win over Manchester City on Monday.

[ MORE: Wigan shock Man City, the world and themselves ]

Fans spilled on to the pitch at DW Stadium as the host celebrated its 1-0 fifth-round win against the runaway English Premier League leader.

Supporters from both clubs were involved in disturbances, while television pictures appeared to show a home supporter and striker Aguero involved in a physical exchange.

Aguero appeared to hit the supporter after the fan said something to the player, and Aguero had to be held back by his City teammates.

[ MORE: Money from Wembley replay “will support Rochdale for 2 or 3 years” ]

Advertising hoardings were also ripped out and thrown as a pitch invasion by Wigan fans got out of hand while the defeated City players were being escorted off the pitch.

Footage also appeared to show objects, including an advertising board, being thrown at police officers by fans in the City end.

Wigan shock themselves: “Not sure how it feels, hasn’t sunk in yet”

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Wigan Athletic didn’t just shock Manchester City with their FA Cup fifth-round slaying of the runaway Premier League leaders; nor did they merely shock the rest of the footballing world; they also shocked themselves into disbelief, according to defender Dan Burn.

[ MORE: Goodbye, quadruple! Wigan bounce 10-man City from FA Cup ]

Speaking following Monday’s triumph over Pep Guardiola‘s quadruple-chasing side at the DW Stadium, Burn admitted he himself didn’t know what to make of the night that would undoubtedly highlight and change his own professional career — quotes from the BBC:

“Not sure how it feels, hasn’t sunk in yet. It was a really tough game. The belief was always there. We’ve got Will Grigg, who does what he keeps doing.

“We pride ourselves on our clean sheets. We had a couple bad results before, so we wanted to prove ourselves, so a clean sheet against the best team in England is great.

“Once we scored, the fans really got behind us, just knew we needed to hang on. It was the longest 10 minutes of my life.”

[ MORE: Money from Wembley replay “will support Rochdale for 2 or 3 years” ]

Manager Paul Cook was able to articulate his happiness and pride only slightly better — “It feels great” — but offered the highest of praises to his players, whom “had to ride [their] luck at times” during the game, and gave everything they had to the cause, because that’s the only way you beat a team like Man City:

“It feels great. It’s such a severe test. They’re such a strong side and move the ball so well. We had to ride our luck at times and the sending off is always a big incident.

“Our lads deserve credit for their work and some of the blocks they made were outstanding, and to beat Man City you have to do that.”