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Allardyce explains 'arrogance' of Arsenal boss in book

Allardyce doesn't have much time for Wenger. Credit: PA

Sam Allardyce has explained why he finds Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger "arrogant" in a book being serialised by the Sun this week.

The new Sunderland boss admits he used to thrive on winding Wenger up during his time at Bolton, and enjoyed beating the Gunners more than any other team.

In an excert taken from 'Big Sam', the experienced manager writes:

I enjoyed beating Arsenal more than anyone when I was in charge at Bolton. We'd really got to them and Arsene Wenger hated us. There was one time he wouldn't shake hands with me at Highbury because we got a draw there. I saw him ripping his tie off and throwing it on the floor in anger.

He takes it all very personally and has an air of arrogance. He's not one for inviting you into his office for a drink after the game. The more I wound him up, the more I liked it. He tried to influence refs through the media and create a perception that we were bullies committing all the fouls, while his team just wanted to play.

It seemed he wanted a rule where they should be allowed to do what they wanted with the ball, without us being allowed to tackle them. It was a skill finding their weaknesses and how to explolit them. But when we succeeded the press were usually on about Arsenal having an off-day and the ref being soft.

– Sunderland manager Sam Allardyce


West Brom face anxious wait over defender Evans

Jonny Evans is facing a race against time to return for West Brom against Sunderland and boost their depleted defence.

Evans faces a race against time to be fit. Credit: PA

The defender will be assessed, along with James Morrison, after missing Northern Ireland's Euro 2016 qualification with a hamstring injury.

Evans, who joined from Manchester United in the summer, made 35 appearances during two loan spells at the Stadium of Light but faces missing a reunion when the Black Cats visit The Hawthorns on Saturday for Sam Allardyce's first game in charge.

Jonas Olsson (groin) is also struggling while James Chester has failed to impress since his £8million summer move from Hull, with the Baggies' defence having shipped eight goals in their last three games.

Boss Tony Pulis said:

We're hoping everyone returns back okay. Evans and Morrison (ankle) are still being assessed at this stage. We will see how they are but both are doubts.

Many of the players won't be back in till later this week. Salomon (Rondon), Sess (Stephane Sessegnon) and Cristian (Gamboa) for instance don't come back until late Thursday or early Friday. It's ridiculous really but there's nothing we can do about it.

– West Brom manager Tony Pulis

Spurs striker Kane wants to test himself against best

Harry Kane believes the upcoming high-profile friendlies will be crucial after England qualified so easily for next summer's European Championship.

Kane is excited about testing himself against better players. Credit: PA

Roy Hodgson's men have rallied impressively after last year's World Cup debacle, going on a 14-match unbeaten run since returning from Brazil.

The Three Lions have enjoyed 12 wins in that period, the latest of which came on Monday as Lithuania were swatted aside 3-0 on a cold night in Vilnius.

That victory saw England reach a major championship with a 100 per cent record for the first time ever, but Switzerland were the only real opposition in a group that also included Slovenia, Estonia and San Marino.

It makes England's glamorous pre-tournament friendlies all the more important in Kane's opinion, starting with a trip to Spain and Wembley encounter against France next month, and he said:

We'll be playing some of the top nations in the world. They are the sort of teams we should be testing ourselves against. It's good preparation for us.

I don't think (we will approach them with any trepidation). We've won 10 out of 10 and the confidence is sky high. We had a game plan here and we knew what we had to do.

It's a great achievement. We are very proud. It's a great achievement for the players, staff and everyone. We can't afford to get carried away as we have some top friendlies coming up against some top sides. We're looking forward to testing ourselves against those.

– Spurs striker Harry Kane

Liverpool boss handed Brazilian boost ahead of Spurs

Jurgen Klopp held his first training session as Liverpool manager with a reduced squad but there was some early good news for the German.

Coutinho is fit to face Spurs this weekend. Credit: PA

International duty meant just nine first-team players, supplemented by three youth team goalkeepers, were present at Melwood as the former Borussia Dortmund boss began work proper on Monday afternoon after his appointment on Thursday.

However, Press Association Sport understands one of those players was Philippe Coutinho, who a week ago pulled out of Brazil's squad for World Cup qualifiers against Chile and Venezuela with a minor groin injury.

Early indications are the 23-year-old will be available for Klopp's first match in charge at Tottenham on Saturday lunchtime.

Other first-teamers present for the session which lasted just over an hour were James Milner, Daniel Sturridge, Mamadou Sakho, Alberto Moreno, Lucas Leiva, Kolo Toure, Dejan Lovren and Joao Carlos Teixeira.


Newcastle say pitch will look 'fantastic' for Norwich

Newcastle have moved to allay any worries about the pitch at St James' Park, declaring it will be in "fantastic" condition for Sunday's Premier League clash with Norwich.

The pitch looked pretty cut up following Scotland's win. Credit: Reuters

Since the Magpies' last home fixture on September 26, the stadium has been used for three rugby union matches as part of the World Cup, including two in two days last week.

But Newcastle have stressed that deputy head groundsman Andrew Tully and his colleagues have been working since the final one of those - Scotland's victory over Samoa on Saturday - to get the surface back in shape.

And Tully told on Monday: "It's good, considering everything we expected from the rugby.

"At the end of the day it's a football pitch - not a rugby one - and we are in the process of a quick turnaround to get it ready for football again at the weekend.

"The pitch hasn't gone anywhere - it's still there. You've got the rugby markings and a bit of damage from the games, which is what we knew would happen and we will tend to throughout the week.

"We worked pretty late through the double-header - that was always going to be the case. Two games in two days of any sport is a lot for a pitch to take. It's just general wear in high-traffic areas that we really have to tend to. By Sunday it will be looking fantastic."

Man United defender stays in Helsinki for assessment

Manchester United defender Paddy McNair is being kept in Helsinki overnight for assessment on an abdominal injury sustained on Northern Ireland duty.

McNair picekd up the injury 13 minutes into Sunday's draw. Credit: PA

The 20-year-old was injured in the 13th minute of Sunday's 1-1 draw against Finland - a result which saw Michael O'Neill's men win Euro 2016 qualifying Group F - but played on until the 51st.

He spent the night in hospital and an Irish Football Association press officer confirmed to Press Association Sport on Monday that the player will remain in the Finnish capital for another night.

The IFA doctor has stayed out with him.

Liverpool manager Klopp addresses transfer rumours

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp has no plans to poach any of his former players from Borussia Dortmund and insists he is not interested in what money is available in the January transfer window.

Klopp has no intention to raid his former club. Credit: PA

The German has reiterated his desire to work with the squad he has inherited from predecessor Brendan Rodgers - most of whom he has not met as they are on international duty.

Unsurprisingly he has been linked with many of the stars who were part of his success at Dortmund but played down the chances of making moves for the likes of Mats Hummels, Neven Subotic, Ilkay Gundogan and Marco Reus.

Asked about raiding his previous club he told German newspaper Bild: "That's not my intention at all."

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