NEWS

Eden Hazard in action for Real Madrid More Info

Eden Hazard needs to have more trust in himself to return to his best level, says Real Madrid head coach Carlo Ancelotti. Belgium forward Hazard started just his ninth game of the season in the 3-1 victory over Alcoyano in the Copa del Rey on Wednesday, a match in which he and fellow forwards Rodrygo Goes and Mariano Diaz struggled for fluidity. After that game Ancelotti gave his backing to Hazard, who has struggled to consistently hit top form and been blighted by injuries since his big-money move from Chelsea in May 2019. And the Italian struck a similar tone when addressing the media prior to Saturday's home LaLiga clash with Valencia.


Aston Villa have completed a loan deal for Philippe Coutinho More Info

The FA Cup returns this weekend with 32 teams targeting a spot in the fifth round. Get the lowdown on all the potential thrills and spills with our bumper preview ahead of Saturday’s action. Read more: All you need to know about the TV picks for the FA Cup fourth round Kidderminster vs West Ham (12.30pm, BBC One) National League North outfit Kidderminster’s reward for stunning Championship side Reading in round three is a home tie with David Moyes’ Champions League-chasing West Ham. A whopping 112 places separate the two clubs in the English football pyramid with Kiddy defeating six teams to reach this stage having entered at the second qualifying round.


January transfer window winners and losers More Info

With Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang's move to Barcelona belatedly confirmed on Tuesday, transfer business in Europe's top five leagues is now over until the end of the season. Not every leading club traded in January – Real Madrid, Bayern Munich, Chelsea, Paris Saint-Germain and, not for want of trying, Milan were all quiet – but there were plenty of deals done that may yet alter the landscape of this campaign. So, who boosted their title bid or European push? And whose hopes took a hit after failing to make the most of the past month? Stats Perform picks out the winners and losers of the transfer window, starting with the biggest move of all... WINNERS Juventus This has been another tough season for Juve, who enter February on the outside looking in at Serie A's top-four race. But they could have done little more in the window to address their issues, plugging the hole left in their attack by first Cristiano Ronaldo's departure and then Federico Chiesa's injury by bringing in Dusan Vlahovic, Serie A's leading marksman, for €75million – the biggest buy of 2022 so far. There were departures, but Dejan Kulusevski has hardly been a key man and Rodrigo Bentancur's exit was offset by the bargain capture of Denis Zakaria, while the Bianconeri will no doubt be grateful to get at least part of Aaron Ramsey's salary off the books.


Aubameyang joins Barcelona after leaving Arsenal More Info

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has joined Barcelona after being released from his contract with Arsenal. Aubameyang, who earlier in January returned to the Gunners early from the Africa Cup of Nations due to some concerns over ''heart lesions'', has not played since December 6. The 32-year-old was stripped of Arsenal's captaincy for a disciplinary breach and had not featured in Mikel Arteta's squad since. On Tuesday, it was confirmed he had terminated his deal with Arsenal by mutual consent, and he has now signed for Barca. Aubameyang has agreed a contract running until June 30, 2025 with an option to agree to cut ties earlier, on June 30, 2023. It includes a buy-out clause of €100million. Aubameyang joined Arsenal from Borussia Dortmund in 2018 and became an instant hit in the Premier League, netting 54 top-flight goals across his first two and a half seasons at Emirates Stadium. However, since signing a long-term contract ahead of the 2020-21 campaign, Aubameyang's form has dropped off significantly, and he only managed 14 goals in all competitions last term. He has seven to his name this season, but it seems there was no way back under Arteta, and Aubameyang has now joined LaLiga giants Barca. Aubameyang becomes the third signing of the January transfer window for Xavi's side. All three of those players have come from the Premier League, with Barca buying Ferran Torres from Manchester City for a reported €55million (£46.7m) plus add-ons, while Adama Traore – a graduate of La Masia – joined on loan from Wolves. Barca are still struggling financially, as the club attempts to bounce back from previous years of mismanagement. Philippe Coutinho joined Aston Villa on loan this month, while Ousmane Dembele looked set to be moved on only for no exit to be secured before the deadline. Barca had been hoping to ship the France winger out, with Paris Saint-Germain reportedly agreeing terms with Dembele over the weekend, but a move did not materialise.


Lingfield will host a seven-race card on the all-weather on Friday More Info

There are four meetings taking place in the UK and Ireland on Friday — one of which is a seven-race card from Lingfield on their polytrack surface. The opening race of the all-weather meeting begins at 12.35pm and runs through to 3.50pm. We have picked out five horses for you to follow. 12.35pm - Read Katie Walsh On Betway Insider Handicap (2m) SMITH was in excellent form over this C&D at the back of last year. He recorded back-to-back wins here in November, with his latest success being an eight-length victory. Lydia Richards' gelding is now up in class and has an 8lb rise in the ratings to defy. However, he has taken a big step forward over this distance so his winning run can be extended here. LiveScore selection: Smith 1.40pm - Play Coral Racing-Super-Series For Free Handicap (7f) Since switching to the all-weather and joining handicap company, STORM ASSET has shown a lot more on the track. The three-year-old finished second of nine runners over this distance at Newcastle last month. The handicapper has kept this horse off the same mark as he was for his second-place finish at Newcastle last time out, which gives him a great chance of going one place better. He also has the cheekpieces on for the first time in this race, which might just help him find a little extra improvement. LiveScore selection: Storm Asset 2.15pm - Betway Handicap (5f) With six wins from nine starts on the all-weather, C&D winner TONE THE BARONE has proved to be very good on this surface. He prevailed on his last outing over this distance at Wolverhampton, despite making an awkward start. This is now a career high mark for Stuart Williams' gelding, but he should be fresh for this assignment. He remains the one to beat. LiveScore selection: Tone The Barone 2.50pm - Watch Racing Free Online At Coral Novice Stakes (1m2f) As a daughter of Dubawi, John and Thady Gosden's runner AZAHEER is a well-bred filly who could be lining up in much better races than this. She came close to breaking her maiden at this course over 1m last month but was denied by a head.


Secret Reprieve will be hoping for a successful season over fences More Info

Trainer Evan Williams believes Secret Reprieve can still enjoy a successful season over fences, despite a disappointing run at Chepstow last month. The eight-year-old made a name for himself in 2020, as he won back-to-back races for the first time, firstly beating The Two Amigos in the Coral Welsh Grand National Trial Handicap Chase before then getting the better of Nicky Martin's runner in the full version of the race. Connections decided to give Secret Reprieve the whole year off before the 2021 Welsh Grand National. But that plan backfired as he finished fifth on December 27, some 44 lengths behind winner Iwilldoit. Despite the disappointing run, Williams believes his stable star can still enjoy a successful campaign, with races at Doncaster, Cheltenham and Haydock on the agenda. He told the Racing Post: ''There's no doubting when you look back at the race afterwards, he did move menacingly into it, but he got tired. There's plenty of room for optimism. ''I wouldn't be surprised if he gets entries in all those good, big staying handicap chases. Doncaster definitely comes into consideration, Warwick [Classic Chase] won't suit him, and that'll come too quickly. He could even get an entry in the Peter Marsh or even Cheltenham [Cotswold Chase] at the end of the month. ''There's another good handicap chase in him, and I hope that we can get him out again before the National Trial. We want to get him going sooner than that in an ideal world.'' Secret Reprieve is a general 20/1 to win the Grand National at Aintree in April and, if he is to run in the showpiece, he will not have to come up against Balko Des Flos.


Evan Fournier celebrates another basket against the Celtics More Info

It's not every day in the NBA that a team comes from 25 points down to win with a buzzer-beater, capping a game where a player lands 10 or more three-pointers. In fact, it happened for the first time in league history on Thursday as the New York Knicks stormed back to beat the Boston Celtics 108-105 at Madison Square Garden. From 57-32 adrift in the second quarter, the Knicks were inspired by Evan Fournier's remarkable shooting from behind the line against his former team, and RJ Barrett came up with the last-gasp glory shot. Each of the three standout facets of the Knicks' win had been achieved in isolation, but they had never all come in the same game, Stats Perform said. The Knicks were able to celebrate their biggest comeback win since coming from 26 behind against Milwaukee in March 2004, while Fournier's 10 threes matched a franchise record set by JR Smith. Barrett's buzzer-beater was the Knicks' first for over nine years, with Smith the last player to grab a win at the death with his shot against Phoenix on December 26 in 2012. Fournier finished with 41 points, a career-best haul, and he has shone brightest in games against Boston this season, after his short-lived spell with the Celtics last season. Only three times has Fournier topped 30 points for the Knicks, and each time Boston have been the opponents. He had 32-point games against them in October and December, and stepped it up in the latest meeting.


Rudy Gobert of the Utah Jazz stands on the court prior to the start of a NBA game against the New Orleans Pelicans More Info

Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert has tested positive for COVID-19 once again after his diagnosis prompted the NBA to shut down for four months in March last year. Gobert has entered the league's health and safety protocols and will miss Friday's game against the Toronto Raptors. The three-time NBA Defensive Player of the Year had missed the Jazz's win at the Denver Nuggets on Wednesday for an unspecified illness. The Jazz said Gobert returned two negative results for two rapid tests on the day of that game but the result of a PCR test returned on Thursday is positive. Utah, who are 28-10, had managed to avoid having any players enter protocols this season until Joe Inglis entered earlier this week, with Gobert the second Jazz player to test positive.