Huddersfield Town’s Terence Kongolo, left, gets stuck in during the Terriers’ Third Round FA Cup match against Bolton Wanderers.
“… 10) A happy Monday for post-Hughes Stoke? Like the revolution, the first match of Stoke’s post-Mark Hughes era will be televised, as they travel to Manchester United on Monday night. At the time of writing, the identity of Hughes’ replacement is yet to be confirmed, but whoever is in charge for this match, it constitutes something of a free swing for a team in the relegation zone but far from doomed. Given the likelihood of a new manager bounce (or perhaps more pertinently, the old manager’s absence) and the fact Stoke are unbeaten in eight Monday night Premier League matches, it would not be a huge surprise to see the Potters emerge with a point. …” Guardian
“Back in November we applied a clustering algorithm to find out which Premier League clubs had similar attacking styles. We wanted to see what we could find using match summary stats that anyone with an internet connection could get hold of. Our main rule was that we wanted to avoid using pure outcome stats, e.g. shots on target, completed passes, completed crosses, goals, assists etc. We thought we’d run the risk of just clustering teams together on how good/lucky they’d been so far. We didn’t use anything too fancy, just per game stats based on the way teams attempt to attack; shots from outside the box, inside the box, open play, set pieces, short passes, long passes, dribbles, crosses and how much they use the wide areas when they attack. …” StatsBomb
“The current incarnation of Manchester City – the freewheeling global powerhouse managed by Pep Guardiola, handing out thrashings to lesser sides like they’re going out of fashion – bears little resemblance to what went before. The club was utterly transformed on 1st September 2008, when the Abu Dhabi United Group confirmed its takeover. …” The Set Pieces
“The 2018 African Nations Championship (CHAN) in Morocco is the fifth edition of the tournament that features only players plying their trade in their own domestic championships. The Confederation of African Football (Caf) introduced the tournament in 2009 when Ivory Coast hosted an eight-team finals that was won by DR Congo. In 2011, the tournament – hosted by Sudan – expanded to 16 teams with Tunisia emerging as winners before Libya lifted the trophy in South Africa in 2014 and DR Congo won again in 2016, when Rwanda staged the finals. The holders and record two-time champions will not be in Morocco however, after losing to Congo Brazzaville in qualifying. …” BBC
“The U.S. national team, which is barely a team at this point, will kick off this World Cup year without a World Cup at a January camp defined by last fall’s qualifying failure. There are no big games for which to prepare and there’s no permanent coach. As a result, this is a program with very little structure or long-term direction. Former assistant Dave Sarachan, who led the USA at November’s friendly in Portugal following Bruce Arena’s resignation, will preside over the squad of 30 campers announced Monday. …” SI – Brian Straus
“Bundestrainer Joachim Löw is spoilt for choice as he starts to think about his squad ahead of next summer’s World Cup finals in Russia. In many positions he is going to have a real headache choosing which players to leave out of the final 23-man squad. There are of course some dead-certs like Mats Hummels in the centre of defence, Toni Kroos as the metronome in midfield and then Joshua Kimmich at right-back. However, it is on the other fullback flank that the German national team coach is going to have a particular headache. …” Bundesliga Fanatic
“Our panel of 169 experts from 63 nations compile a list of the greatest male players in 2017. Click on an individual to read more about their year. …” Guardian