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Alan 12:56 Sun Dec 23
Sunday newspapers (includes West Ham)

Turkish Super Lig side Istanbul Basaksehir could make a bid for Arsenal's Germany midfielder Mesut Ozil, 30. Club president Goksel Gumusdag said they would "do anything to get him". (Bild via FourFourTwo)

The agent of Manchester United midfielder Fred says the 25-year-old will remain at Old Trafford. The Brazilian joined the Premier League club in June but has been linked with a move away. (Daily Star Sunday)

England captain Harry Kane and manager Gareth Southgate are both set to be made OBEs in the New Year's Honours. (Sun on Sunday)

Real Madrid, Barcelona and Bayern Munich are all interested in 18-year-old England forward Jadon Sancho, who is at Borussia Dortmund. (Marca)

Isco, 26, wants to move to Manchester City because the Spain midfielder fears for his place at Real Madrid if they sign 27-year-old Belgium forward Eden Hazard from Chelsea. (Sunday Express)

Manchester United caretaker manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is looking at Bournemouth and Norway striker Josh King, 26, as a possible January target. (Sun on Sunday)

However, United will only go into the transfer market in January if there is a huge injury crisis at the club. (Sunday Mirror)

Barcelona are ready to make a bid for United and England striker Marcus Rashford, with Real Madrid also keen on the 21-year-old. (Sunday Express)

Fulham owner Shahid Khan will make a new £600m bid to take ownership of Wembley in the new year. (Sun on Sunday)

Paris St-Germain are considering signing Everton midfielder Idrissa Gueye. The Senegalese, 29, joined the Toffees in 2016. (Sky Sports)

Lyon's 25-year-old France midfielder Nabil Fekir - who almost joined Liverpool in the summer - is a January target for Chelsea. (Mail on Sunday)

Former Chelsea midfielder Dennis Wise thinks the club will try to sign Leicester's English forward Jamie Vardy, 31, or Bayern Munich's 30-year-old Poland striker Robert Lewandowski in January. (Sunday Express)

Leicester boss Claude Puel insists he has nothing to prove following his side's shock win at Chelsea, despite rumours he is close to being sacked. (Mail on Sunday)

Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino says he has a good relationship with chairman Daniel Levy. The Argentine has been linked with the managerial role at Manchester United. (Sky Sports)

Former Manchester City chief executive Garry Cook is heading a consortium to buy Newcastle United - 10 years after persuading Sheikh Mansour to buy City rather than the Tyneside club. (Sunday Mirror)

Ex-Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho thought he was going to discuss the club's transfer policy at the meeting where he was sacked. (Times - subscription required)

Swedish striker Zlatan Ibrahmovic's new deal with LA Galaxy could be the biggest in Major League Soccer. The 37-year-old will be paid up to $7.5m (£5.5m) in 2019. (ESPN)

Leaked memos reveal Tottenham are unhappy with the untidy state of the streets around their new White Hart Lane stadium. (Observer)


Deeney and Deulofeu seal Watford win over West Ham and raise Europe hopes

Paul Doyle at the London Stadium

More than 30 years have elapsed since Watford embarked on their one and only campaign in Uefa competition but maybe it is time to start talking about the prospect of another one. Goals by Troy Deeney and Gerard Deulofeu gave Javi Gracia’s team a deserved victory here against a club who came into this season with lofty hopes but now find themselves below the accomplished Hertfordshire side, as do many others.

West Ham also had to deal with more off-field woes, as home supporters in a section of the ground complained of being hurt by falling glass from a broken bulb in a floodlight. The club said they were not aware of the incident.

Of the events on the pitch Manuel Pellegrini said West Ham deserved at least a draw, and it is true that Michail Antonio twice headed against the frame of the goal. Yet Gracia had good cause to claim he was “never scared about the result” because overall his team were the more coherent and they, too, created several chances to score more than two goals.

Gracia was a youth-team coach at Villarreal nearly a decade ago when Pellegrini was the main man at the Spanish club but here the managers arrived as the closest of peers, their teams starting the day on the same number of points and virtually identical records. Watford went on to suggest they are the more upwardly mobile.

That might have been different if Javier Hernández had scored in the third minute after a cross by Antonio but he was foiled by an excellent tackle by Christian Kabasele. That was the first sign of the ordeal that lay ahead for the Mexico striker, who fluffed two more chances in the second half before a hamstring problem forced his substitution.

Once West Ham’s initial vibrancy subsided, Watford emerged as the more authoritative team. Fabián Balbuena saved the home side on three occasions, making critical blocks to deny Deeney, Roberto Pereyra and Deulofeu.

The slick combination between Pereyra and Deulofeu was a recurring feature of Watford’s attacks and eventually undid the hosts in the 28th minute. This time Balbuena’s intervention was ill‑timed, his tackle on Pereyra giving Watford a penalty and injuring his own knee.

Deeney ignored barracking from the home fans to thrash the spot-kick into the net. Then he ran over to celebrate in front of those fans, hitting a corner flag out of its hole as he went. The referee chided the player. Someone should have a word with the West Ham fans, too, to remind them that ridiculing Deeney tends to be counterproductive: two years ago at this ground, after Watford recovered from two goals down to beat West Ham 4-2, the striker said the comeback had been motivated by the sense that West Ham were trying to “mug us off”.

Antonio tried to lead a West Ham comeback here with a ferocious long-range shot that Ben Foster batted away. But that was a rare opening as Watford defended solidly and threatened to increase their lead on the counter.

West Ham worked up a storm early in the second half but precision still eluded them. Antonio was unfortunate not to equalise, his header from a Snodgrass corner bouncing out off the post.

Watford kept looking for a second goal on the break. Lukasz Fabianski had trouble repelling a shot by Pereyra after a lovely pass by Abdoulaye Doucouré, the goalkeeper thankful the rebound fell just behind Deeney. Moments later Doucouré was foiled by a magnificent save by Fabianksi, who pushed the midfielder’s blast from 10 yards over the bar. Then it was Doucouré’s turn to rush to the rescue, his perfectly timed tackle preventing Hernández from drawing West Ham level after a pass by Felipe Anderson, who was mostly subdued by Kiko Femenía.

Deeney should have made Watford more comfortable but shot straight at Fabianksi after a through-ball by Tom Cleverley. Instead Gracia’s side nearly lost their lead, Foster making a terrific save from a deflected Snodgrass header before Antonio nodded the rebound against the bar. In the 87th minute Deulofeu wrapped up the win at last, finishing smartly from eight yards after a delightful exchange with Pereyra.


Balbuena/Chicharito injury update

West Ham have been hit by two crushing blows this morning with the news that both Fabian Balbuena and Chicharito’s injuries may keep them out over Christmas and beyond.

The central defender was injured as he launched a challenge which gave away the spot kick against Watford and looks to have been sidelined for a month – possibly longer.

Chicharito, meanwhile, felt a hamstring but the club are hopeful it will turn out not to be anything serious and that he could be available over the Christmas programme.

Balbuena has been a key performer for the team this season and the news that he appears to have damaged his knee ligaments is a big blow.

However, Angelo Ogbonna performed well when called into action yesterday and looks set to play a major part over the next few games at least.

A Hammers senior source contacting us by text message said: “Balbuena has a knee ligaments problem and will be scanned later this week. It could be two or three weeks or longer. Hernandes felt a hamstring but hopefully it will prove not to be too much.”

Replies - Newest Posts First (Show In Chronological Order)

Takashi Miike 10:50 Sun Dec 23
Re: Sunday newspapers (includes West Ham)
Thanks Alan, have a good 🎄

Texas Iron 4:00 Sun Dec 23
Re: Sunday newspapers (includes West Ham)

Guardian report overly praises Watford... IMO...

Crassus 1:02 Sun Dec 23
Re: Sunday newspapers (includes West Ham)
Thanks Alan

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