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Michael Ballack set for a sensational return to west-London with Queens Park Rangers

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Michael Ballack could be set for a sensational return to west-London with Queens Park Rangers.

The former Chelsea midfielder is out-of-contract at the end of the season at his current club Bayer Leverkusen and has been told he can leave before the window slams shut on Tuesday if a club makes a formal approach for him.

QPR are likely to be one of the busiest teams over the next few days as new manager Mark Hughes has money to spend in order to preserve their Premier League status. He has already brought in Nedum Onuoha from Manchester City and Tom Taiwo on loan from AC Milan but midfield and striker options are still be purchased by Hughes, who oversaw his injury-hit side’s 1-0 defeat to Chelsea in the FA Cup.

That performance was proof that they need strengthening in many areas as their squad currently isn’t quite good enough to be able to cope with the demands of the Premier League.

Ballack would add some vital steel to a midfield that is missing the creative and fiery talents of Alejandro Faurlin, who is out of the remainder of the season with a knee injury.

The former Germany captain decided to return to Leverkusen in 2010 after falling out of favour at Chelsea.

His form had been good last season but the German side are struggling this year and sit sixth in the league. Ballack has gone public with his feelings about the current men in charge at the club and is very much looking to move on to pastures new.

The three-time German Footballer of the Year would provide Hughes with a different dimension in midfield.

Over 10 years in football analysis and online publishing.

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Euro Qualifer

Raheem Sterling dropped by England after ‘altercation’ with Joe Gomez

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England star Raheem Sterling has been dropped for Thursday night’s match against Montenegro after the FA confirmed there had been a ‘disturbance in a private team area’ with his national team-mate Joe Gomez.

The duo shared a heated exchange towards the end of Sunday’s crunch Premier League match at Anfield between Gomez’s Liverpool and Sterling’s Manchester City, and it appears tempers flared over into the following day at St George’s Park.

England manager Gareth Southgate confirmed Sterling will not be considered for Thursday night’s match.

“We have taken the decision to not consider Raheem for the match against Montenegro on Thursday,” Southgate said.

“One of the great challenges and strengths for us is that we’ve been able to separate club rivalries from the national team.

“Unfortunately, the emotions of yesterday’s game were still raw.”

Matt Hughes and Sami Mokbel, who originally broke the story on Monday evening on Mail Online, reported the incident in further detail:

‘Sterling was sat down in the canteen when Gomez arrived and leant over from behind to shake his hand, leading to him to attempt to grab his team-mate by the neck.

‘The rest of the England players initially thought Sterling was joking, but it soon became clear that he had lost control and the pair were separated.’

Paul Joyce, the Northern Football Correspondent for The Times, tweeted this morning that ‘Joe Gomez has a scratch by right eye as a result of Raheem Sterling incident.’

Sterling took to Instagram after the story had broken to share his side of the story.

‘First and foremost everyone knows what that game means to me! Everyone knows I am not that way inclined and more to the point. [sic] Both Joe and I have figured things out and moved on.

‘We are in a sport where emotions run high and I am man enough to admit when emotions get the better of me.’

Sky Sports, meanwhile, reported that Gomez ‘pleaded’ with Southgate for Sterling not to be sent home.

Clearly, Southgate decided that being dropped for Thursday night’s match was sufficient punishment; it appears likely, then, that Sterling will be back in contention for Sunday’s tougher trip to Kosovo.

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Arsenal

Arsenal star heavily linked with a move to AC Milan following axe from the squad

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Arsenal midfielder Granit Xhaka has been heavily linked with a move to Italian giants AC Milan following his outburst and subsequent loss of captaincy.

The Swiss international was substituted in a 2-2 draw against Crystal Palace which the Arsenal fans sarcastically cheered for, thus prompting a reaction from Xhaka.

The midfielder cupped his ears whilst walking off before shouting swear words at the section of fans who were booing and jeering him.

He prompted to throw the captain’s armband off and quickly stormed into the tunnel, which resulted in a huge outrage on social media from the fans of the club.

Arsenal boss Unai Emery was thus forced to relinquish Xhaka’s captaincy duties which were then given to star striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.

Since the incident at the Emirates, the 27-year-old has yet to feature for the Gunners with even Emery suggesting that he is not sure whether the captain of the Swiss national team will play for the club again.

The bookies have the odds of Xhaka staying at 4/6 till the end of the season whereas he is 11/10 to leave in the January transfer window.

The favourites to sign the enigmatic midfielder are AC Milan, who have Ivan Gazidis as their executive. Gazidis was the chief executive at Arsenal for nearly 10 years and was influential in bringing Xhaka to the Emirates.

Odds for Granit Xhaka’s Next Club

4/1- AC Milan

10/1- Borussia Monchengladbach

11/1- Newcastle

12/1- Atletico Madrid

14/1- Inter Milan

The fallen Italian giants are still in somewhat of a turmoil despite finishing fifth in Serie A last season, their best finish in 6 years.

They failed to qualify for the Champions League and thus the then-manager Gennaro Gattuso resigned from his post.

Gazidis appointed Marco Giampaolo but the Italian coach got sacked in early October having just been in charge for 7 games.

Stefano Pioli was immediately announced as his successor but has only won one out of the five games he has been at the helm for.

Therefore, I Rossoneri currently sit in 14th place after 12 games, 11 points adrift of 4th place Atalanta which is an automatic qualification for the Champions League.

It is reported that Xhaka is already house-hunting in Milan in a bid to put his difficult time at Arsenal behind him.

A move away from Arsenal would mark the end of a tough relationship for both parties, as when Xhaka arrived from Monchengladbach for £35m, he was earmarked as a future great midfielder.

However, he has failed to live up to the potential he showed in the Bundesliga as his performances have often left fans wanting more.

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Football

Liverpool take ‘crazy’ eight-point lead after ‘wild’ victory over Manchester City

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Liverpool head into the November international break with an eight-point lead at the top of the Premier League table after defeating Manchester City 3-1 at Anfield on Sunday.

Jurgen Klopp described the position his side find themselves in at such an early stage of the season as ‘crazy’ but insisted his team are not feeling any pressure – yet.

“That’s crazy. Nine points, you cannot imagine that something like this happens,” the German told reporters, referring to the nine-point gap opened up between Liverpool and last season’s champions Manchester City, who have now slid to fourth place behind Leicester and Chelsea.

“But it is not important because who wants to be first in early November? We want to be first in May and not only in November.

“The pressure is not there yet. Maybe it will come, but in the moment it is just opportunity and go for it, do the work, throw all in what you have and then let’s see what happens.”

Such caution is understandable given that Liverpool found themselves in a familiar position last season, only for City to overhaul a seven-point deficit by winning fourteen consecutive matches to close out the season.

But on Sunday’s evidence, this is a different Liverpool now. They’re the champions of Europe; the ‘mentality monsters’ as Klopp has frequently described them, and will take some stopping.

Last season, when City visited Anfield at a similar stage of the season, there was a degree of fear from the home side – and they were fortunate to avoid defeat after Riyad Mahrez missed a penalty late on.

Lessons appeared to be have learned from that mentality – and the dropped points which proved decisive as City won the title by a solitary point – as they took the game to City far more this time around.

Indeed, it may be a different City this campaign, too. Despite pinning Liverpool in their own defensive third at the back-end of both halves, City’s defensive vulnerabilities were ruthlessly exposed by two counter-attacks in the first thirteen minutes.

First man-of-the-match Fabinho fabulously struck from distance; then Mohamed Salah doubled the lead from close-range after Trent Alexander-Arnold and Andy Robertson brilliantly combined in the build-up phase.

“In the beginning, not only because of us, it was wild … We scored two incredible goals,” Klopp gleefully said.

“The second goal we scored, I don’t think I ever saw a goal like this. A right full-back with a 60-yard pass to the left full-back; two more touches and a cross over 40 yards, and a header. That’s pretty special.”

It could have been very different. In the build-up to Fabinho’s opener, the ball appeared to strike Alexander-Arnold’s arm in Liverpool’s penalty area, albeit directly ricocheting from Bernardo Silva’s arm, too.

City manager Pep Guardiola was incensed, raising two fingers in the air to imply ‘twice’ after another debatable handball incident in the second-half, but Klopp remained nonplussed on the issue.

“I didn’t see it yet, the handball before Fabinho scores. I can’t say anything about it.

“What I heard was handball from Bernardo Silva, I don’t know, but I can imagine it’s not a situation Pep is really pleased with. That’s normal.”

The debate will rumble on, but Fabinho’s goal stood – as does Liverpool’s lead at the top.

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