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Derby County confirm training ground spy a Leeds employee

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UPDATE (2:25 pm ET): Marcelo Bielsa publicly admitted to sending an employee to spy on Derby County training. He took full responsibility for his actions, saying nobody instructed him to do so.

Even more shockingly, Bielsa admitted to making use of training ground spies as far back as 17 years ago. “Without trying to find any form of justification, I have been using this practice since the [2002] World Cup qualifications with Argentina,” Bielsa told Sky Sports.

When asked if he is aware of any rules preventing this action, he said, “It doesn’t matter if it’s legal or illegal or right or wrong. For me it’s enough that Frank Lampard and Derby felt it was not the right thing to do.” Reports state Bielsa called Derby manager Frank Lampard to admit to the action before going public.

Bielsa coached Argentina from 1998-2004, and led the Chilean national team from 2007-2011. Since, he has taken charge of club teams Marseille, Lazio, Lille, and now Leeds, hired by the English club in June.

There are no particular rules against spying on opposing clubs, but the English FA could punish Bielsa for bringing the game into disrepute if it determines the offense is grounds for such a charge.

Lampard also told media Friday afternoon that the club noticed someone acting suspiciously around the training ground before they lost 4-1 to Leeds in August. “On a sportsman’s level, it’s bad in my opinion,” Lampard said. “If we’re going to start talking about ‘culturally I did it somewhere else so it’s fine,’ then that doesn’t work for me because I don’t believe it is fine on that level. It’s disrupted our buildup to this game.”


Derby County has released a statement confirming that a man caught reportedly spying on their training session was an employee of Championship rivals Leeds United, whom the Rams are set to play later today.

According to reports on Thursday evening and Friday morning, police were called when it was discovered a man was “acting suspiciously outside the premises” at the club training ground. Reports say the man was watching Frank Lampard’s training session with binoculars, and was also in possession of pliers and a change of clothes.

The Derby County club statement went one step further, confirming that the employee was a member of the Leeds United staff. Leeds sits atop the Championship table, and the two have a vitally important league match with Derby just eight points back in a hotly contested Championship promotion race.

While they did not confirm the identity of the man, Derbyshire police did address the incident on social media Thursday, saying, “Officers have just attended the Training Ground for @dcfcofficial After a suspicious male was seen at the perimeter fence. Excellent searching conducted & male was located. All checks above board!
Keeping the team safe to bring home a win against on 11th!”

Police say they did not make an arrest, and instead the man was simply “sent on his way.” In the club statement, Derby County confirmed they are “in discussion with Leeds United club officials in relation to this incident.”

Derby has done well under new manager Lampard this year, but they have just one win in their last five league matches and desperately need a high-profile result to avoid further trouble as they sit at the bottom of the playoff positions. Meanwhile, Marcelo Bielsa has Leeds atop the standings, just two points ahead of Norwich City.

Saint-Maximin absence to ask more of struggling Almiron, Joelinton

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Newcastle United lightning bolt Allan Saint-Maximin is going to miss a month with a hamstring injury suffered late in the Magpies’ 2-1 defeat of Southampton at St. James’ Park.

The ebullient Saint-Maximin played deep into the match despite a minor injury, and was on of the main reasons Newcastle won. He helped set up the winning goal, but left the stadium on crutches.

That left Steve Bruce questioning his decision to keep “ASM” in the match.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ]

Now the electric Frenchman is set to miss fixtures against Burnley, Crystal Palace, Manchester United, Everton, Leicester City, and an FA Cup third round match versus either Boston United or Rochdale.

Saint-Maximin’s absence will hurt Newcastle all-around, but especially when its counter-attack tries to take down bigger sides. His 4.5 dribbles per match makes him one of just three players in the Premier League with more than 3.1 (Adama Traore and Wilfried Zaha).

Ultimately, though, this could provide struggling Joelinton more looks at performing on the wing opposite of Miguel Almiron. The Brazilian will have to work center forward at times as Andy Carroll certainly can’t go every game, and Dwight Gayle, Christian Atsu, and Yoshinori Muto could also be asked to play prominent roles.

And, of course, this will demand much more from industrious but sloppy Miguel Almiron, whose expected goal total is 2.5 (he has zero).

Sessegnon beats Neuer to score first Spurs, Champions League goal

Photo by Peter Kneffel/picture alliance via Getty Images)Photo by Peter Kneffel/picture alliance via Getty Images)
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Ryan Sessegnon has his first Spurs goal, which also happens to be his first UEFA Champions League goal, and he’ll love telling the tale of it.

The 19-year-old Englishman ripped a rocket past Manuel Neuer of all people, collecting a deflection to equalize early in Tottenham’s match against Bayern Munich at the Allianz Arena.

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Sessegnon entered the day with an assist in 30 minutes spread across three appearances for Spurs, and needed just 20 more minutes to find a goal.

He made a big money move from Fulham this summer, having made a remarkable 120 senior appearances. Almost all of those came before he turned 19, and he’s scored 25 times with 18 assists.

Kingsley Coman has Bayern’s goal as the teams remain locked at 1 after Bayern hung 7 on Spurs in England earlier in the group stage.

 

Jesus hat-trick downs Dinamo Zagreb, Atalanta qualifies for knockouts

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Manchester City looked sluggish again, but Gabriel Jesus made sure it didn’t matter.

The Brazilian cropped up at a critical juncture for Pep Guardiola, sending Manchester City through into the knockout stage on a winning note as his hat-trick sealed a 4-1 come-from-behind victory that knocked Dinamo Zagreb from European competition altogether.

[ LIVE: Champions League scores ]

The first half was especially lackluster for the English visitors to Stadion Maksimir in Zagreb, with lots of possession but little to show for it. The hosts went in front early on, punishing Man City on the counter on a fabulous volleyed finish from former Barcelona youth product Dani Olmo.

That was the best goal of the day, but Man City picked itself up and pulled back level before the break, with Jesus grabbing his first via a header as Dinamo Zagreb shut off, screaming for Man City to put the ball out with a Zagreb player down. The visitors rightly did not, and Dinamo was punished by the equalizer.

After halftime, Man City was much better, hammering the left flank to take a commanding lead. The second came on excellent work by Jesus in the box to shake a defender and finish with his right, while the third flew in minutes later on a pinpoint Benjamin Mendy cross that Jesus met with a flying karate kick. Pep Guardiola had one eye on the festive fixtures, withdrawing Jesus soon after the hour mark, replaced by Oleksandr Zinchenko who curiously took Jesus’s place at the striker position.

Phil Foden was the best Manchester City player throughout, and finished off the scoreline with seven minutes to go. An excellent buildup down the right saw Bernardo Silva sprung through, and he cut back to Foden at the top of the six-yard box who slid to meet the ball with pace and poke home the cherry on top.

Elsewhere, Atalanta topped Shakhtar Donetsk 3-0 in the Ukraine on goals by Timothy Castagne, Mario Pasalic, and Robin Gosens, meaning the Italians secured the second spot in Group A, qualifying for the knockout stage. The Ukranians were left dead in the water after right-back Dodo was sent off 13 minutes from time, leading to the second goal to seal things up. Atalanta’s advancement marks a stunning comeback given the Italian side failed to secure points in any of their first three group stage matches.

That left Shakhtar in third, dropping to the Europa League, while Dinamo Zagreb was left at the bottom of the group, on the outside looking in.

Charlotte MLS club files trademarks for eight potential names

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It is being heavily reported that Charlotte is the next city to earn a club in the rapidly expanding Major League Soccer landscape, and Carolina Panthers owner David Tepper has taken the next step towards that possibility.

The new club needs a name, and they appear to be nearing a selection. Tepper filed for eight different name trademarks, according to multiple reports, including The Athletic’s Jourdan Rodrigue who confirmed the filings were made under Tepper’s Panthers address.

Here is the list of names he filed copyright requests for:

“Charlotte FC” would be a bare-bones and generic name that follows in the footsteps of recent MLS expansion clubs such as Orlando City SC, NYCFC or LAFC. Others are a little more colorful, including “Carolina Gliders FC” or “Charlotte Monarchs FC,” while a few others like “Charlotte Town FC” or “Charlotte Athletic FC” clearly call forth thoughts of smaller English clubs.

Rodrigue speculated that the relative lack of “Carolina” encompassing names is potentially due to the possibility of an expansion bid from Raleigh down the road, and a Carolina team would potentially provide an unnecessary roadblock to that future prospect. There is a clear lack of region-encompassing names in Major League Soccer, with “New England Revolution” the only example, and there’s no real reason to break that mold with another potential bid city down the road.

Which name is your favorite? What would you have gone with if you could name the club?