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Southampton boss Mauricio Pellegrino questions commitment of players after Leicester loss

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Mauricio Pellegrino has warned his Southampton players he is ready to ditch anyone that is not fully committed to the club.

Pellegrino was forced to apologise to Saints fans on Wednesday night after his side endured a humiliating 4-1 defeat at home to Leicester.

Southampton were three down at half-time at St Mary’s and their abject display earned them a chorus of boos at the end.

They now face a trip to third-placed Chelsea on Saturday and Pellegrino admits he has had to remind his players of their responsibilities.

“When I talk about a lack of connection it is when you are not mentally 100 per cent on the pitch,” Pellegrino said.

"In difficult moments for me obviously you have to come back to the foundations of the team, to the discipline of the team, and get them to think about the possibility they have to be in this club and in the Premier League.

"Not too many players are in this situation. Obviously we have to start to choose the players that want to help the club 100 per cent.

“They are human beings and sometimes they don’t have a good moment. I understand this. But their behaviour has to be committed with the club 100 per cent.”

Southampton sacked Claude Puel, now in charge at Leicester, after finishing eighth in the table last season but they now sit 11th and only four points above the relegation zone.

After Chelsea, they face Huddersfield, Tottenham and Manchester United before the turn of the year and Pellegrino indicated the club may well look to strengthen in January.

“We are thinking about it, we have some options,” Pellegrino said.

"We have enough in the squad but we are thinking about where we can do some movement.

“I cannot say anything about that. The market offers you not too many possibilities in December. You have to think about players in other leagues or in the Premier League that are not playing too much.”

Pellegrino has a fully fit squad to choose from for the visit to Stamford Bridge. Charlie Austin could be rested after playing three games in 10 days, with Manolo Gabbiadini an option to come in.

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Sourced from Southampton FC - Official Site article

U18 Report: Saints 4-1 Wolves

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Brad Carr had edged the visitors in front early on, before Harry Hamblin levelled the scores, and Michael Obafemi’s well taken hat-trick sealed the tie in impressive fashion.

The striker’s remarkable seasonal goal tally reached double figures in the process, while Hamblin’s authoritative midfield display also made him one of the night’s standout performers.

A confident start to proceedings set the tone for the hosts, as Will Smallbone’s 20-yard curled free-kick was only a glimpse of a busy 90 minutes of goalmouth action.

Hamblin skewed an effort awkwardly wide moments later, as the hosts continued to overload the opposition half, committing bodies forward in search of an early opener.

Obafemi’s industry almost gifted Saints the easiest of opportunities, as he charged down Jackson Smith, before the ball fell fortuitously to Jonathan Afolabi. The wideman’s first time effort was deflected marginally off target.

Completely against the run of play, Wolves gained the upper hand in the 23rd minute. Ryan Giles freed himself down the left, charged towards the byline, before a fizzed cross was latched on to by Carr.

The teenager’s finish was emphatic, as a helpless Alex Cull was left stranded by the quality and precision of the delivery, combined with a well timed run by Carr.

Saints finished the half with a flurry though, after a succession of chances for Obafemi and Harlem Hale, before Hamblin applied the telling touch to a Jake Vokins corner kick.

Hale’s pace gained the initial ground, before a panicked clearance from Joel Whittingham granted Saints a corner. Meticulous in his delivery, Vokins whipped the ball towards a crowded six yard melee, before Hamblin reacted quickest to smash the ball home and restore parity on the stroke of half time.

The second period began much in the same way as the first, with Saints in firm control. Obafemi squandered a chance in the 55th minute, as Javen Siu’s glancing header fell the way of the striker, before skimming the side netting.

But Saints’ top scorer wasn’t going to make a mistake at the second time of asking, as a wonderfully weighted pass from Hamblin was cooly converted by the frontman.

Blistering pace allowed Obafemi to ease past Daniel McKenna, before calmly rolling the ball past the onrushing Smith. Saints, now in ascendancy, finished the tie in style, adding a further two goals.

None other than talisman Obafemi collected the match ball after completing his hat-trick late on. A replica of his previous strike, the 17-year-old utilised a reserve of pace and power to outmuscle his opposition defender, before classily rounding Smith and tapping home.

The treble was completed in added time, as Vokins was hauled down in the area, giving Obafemi the chance to net from the penalty spot. Brazenly, he did just that.

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Sourced from Premier League - Official Site article

DEFAULTVideo: Three key points: Chelsea v Southampton

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Premier League Preview Show - Thursday, 14 December

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Tom Rennie & David Walker are joined by former Spurs, Stoke and West Ham winger Matthew Etherington and former Crystal Palace defender Paul Mortimer to preview all the action coming up in gameweek 18 of the Premier League.

Can Spurs stop the Man City juggernaut, or will Pep’s record breakers keep on rolling? Plus we look at the changing fortunes of West Ham and Stoke City, Crystal Palace’s Zaha-inspired resurgence, and all the rest of the games coming up in the Premier League this weekend.

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Sourced from Mirror.co.uk article

Manchester City ‘reignite interest in Liverpool target’

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Liverpool may have suffered another blow to their hopes of landing long-term target Virgil Van Dijk.

Reds boss Jurgen Klopp has been on hot pursuit of Van Dijk since a number of failed bids to bring the Dutchman to Anfield in the summer.

And now Manchester City could be set to swoop in and battle the Merseyside club for his signature ahead of the January transfer window.

According to Goal.com , Pep Guardiola is set to reignite his interest in the Southampton defender as he looks to bolster his back line for the second half of the season.

City are in the market for a new centre-back and have reportedly made the 26-year-old one of two targets along with Real Sociedad’s Inigo Martinez.

This could spark a bidding war between the two clubs as Liverpool are likely to attempt to prise Van Dijk from the Saints again in January having failed so spectacularly in the summer.

The Dutchman looked set to be on his way to Anfield back in July before Liverpool were forced to apologise after becoming embroiled in a tapping-up scandal with Southampton.

City made an unsuccessful approach for Van Dijk themselves in the summer, as well as targeting several other defenders including Leonardo Bonucci and Jonny Evans.

But it seems they are prepared to rival Liverpool’s interest as Guardiola remains unconvinced about his current crop of defenders.

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Summary of non-mainstream articles: 15/12/2017 00:45:21

| | Pellegrino is in no position to bemoan Saints’ lack of connectionREADSOUTHAMPTON |

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Summary of non-mainstream articles: 15/12/2017 01:45:27

| | Watch: Young Irish Striker Scores 18-Minute Hat-trick In FA Youth CupBALLSIE |

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Sourced from Southampton FC - Official Site article

Video: Fleming on FA Youth Cup success

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Southampton Under-18s cruised in to the fourth round of the FA Youth Cup with a 4-1 victory over Wolves, and coach Craig Fleming was delighted with the quality on show. Watch his post-match reaction above!

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Video: Obafemi reflects on Youth Cup heroics

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Watch the full interview with Michael Obafemi after the striker scored a hat-trick at St Mary’s to send Southampton through to the FA Youth Cup fourth round at Wolves’ expense.

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Fleming hails U18s star performers

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Harry Hamblin had restored parity just before the interval, and Saints’ inspired second half display - including a hat-trick of goals from talisman Michael Obafemi - was commended by onlooking coaching duo Fleming and Danny Butterfield.

Pegged as one of the more difficult third round ties, Southampton’s youngsters brushed aside Wolves with consummate ease, and now face the winners of tomorrow’s encounter between Blackpool and West Ham.

“Very pleased,” Fleming began, smiling. "Nights like this you never really know with the younger boys if they will produce what they’re capable of.

"But they did everything that we’ve asked of them, a similar standard to what they’ve produced in the league - and a little bit more.

"The goal was disappointing, because it was the first time Wolves had even got in our half. But the boys showed great composure, and ground out a great result.

“It was pleasing to see the response, but not surprising. They are a good bunch, a gritty group and they work hard. Which is matched by their tactical intelligence. I thought we dominated the game, I didn’t feel at any time that we were in trouble.”

Fleming reserved praise for Obafemi’s treble, while asserting that there were a number of other pleasing performers among a glittering Saints display.

"Michael looked lively throughout and he is always a massive threat. He’s got electric pace, but there were equally pleasing performances on that pitch tonight.

“We play West Ham in the league, but Blackpool will be a bit of an unknown, so we’ll follow that result and then get to work on the next round opposition.”

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U18 Highlights: Saints 4-1 Wolves

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Hat-trick hero Obafemi hails “special night”

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Saints trailed to Bradley Carr’s opener midway through the first half, but crucially struck back on the stroke of half-time through Harry Hamblin.

The tie still hung in the balance with 18 minutes to go, before Obafemi took matters into his own hands with a memorable treble, including a penalty with the very last kick of the game.

“It’s a very special night,” said the teenager.

“It’s my first hat-trick for the club, so it’s onwards and upwards from here.

“We’ve not had the best results from youth level through to the first team, so it’s a big boost for the club.”

Obafemi said Hamblin’s equaliser set the tone for the second-half turnaround.

“When we came in at half-time everyone was buzzing and we knew we could bounce back and win the game,” he added.

“They (coaches Craig Fleming and Danny Butterfield) told us we were doing well and just said if we carried on doing what we were doing we would come out on top, which we did.”

Obafemi’s first two goals were virtual carbon copies, as he raced on to balls in behind the Wolves defence to finish calmly.

“I saw the ball going over the top and I knew I was going to get there before the defender because I knew I was faster than him,” he said of the first. “I just took the chance and scored.

“It boosted my confidence heavily, knowing that if I could score easily like that then I could get a hat-trick, which I eventually did.”

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MARTIN SAMUEL: Technology is proving to be such a turn-off

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The broadcasters had replayed the footage more than a dozen times and, still, nobody was sure. They had been down the usual routes, Hot Spot, Snicko, ask an expert, and were no further forward than the split second after the ball had left Mitchell Starc’s hand.

Yet behind closed doors in an airless room at the WACA, one individual was about to insist he was very certain indeed.

Aleem Dar is paid for decisions, and a decision cricket was going to get. He relayed his findings to umpire Marais Erasmus and, given no choice but to obey, up went the finger. Mark Stoneman was out. How, we didn’t know. Why, we couldn’t say.

Either Dar had an angle unavailable to any other observer at the WACA, or he guessed. And that was never the point of video replay. If we wanted guesses, we could have stayed with the guys in the middle.

Yet this is where we are with technology in sport these days and it is not going to get better from here. Video assistance was introduced to answer riddles and even on days when it cannot, we pretend it can.

At rugby, through a pile-up of 10 bodies, video spies a try. At cricket when the Hubble telescope could barely locate a nick, video detects the finest edge — and we are about to move technology into the most ferocious arena of all: football.

We are about to let one man and his vlog loose on calls as wholly subjective as Ander Herrera’s penalty-area trip against Manchester City. This cannot end well.

For all the drama around harsh words uttered in the field, cricket is Toytown compared to the Badlands of football.

There is no equivalent in cricket of the chaos that erupted in the tunnel at Old Trafford on Sunday. The fight between Dennis Lillee and Javed Miandad was 36 years ago now, and is still talked about, wide-eyed, even today.

Yet, at the height of the controversy around Stoneman’s dismissal, England captain Joe Root and coach Paul Collingwood appeared to be telling the batsman to stay on the field, and not cross the boundary ropes, just in case they could get the decision overturned.

Imagine that, in a football stadium, with its attendant passions and lunacies.

Imagine a system that is supposed to bring perfect clarity reduced to a series of hunches, as it was in the third Test, as it was in Adelaide when Moeen Ali was given out stumped.

In a sport too immature to cope with lively celebration, how will they handle that level of controversy? How might Jose Mourinho react the day the Video Assistant Referee (VAR) decides to officiate the Manchester derby on what amounts to his best guess.

Deep down, football knows it is not ready for the fall-out. This season’s FA Cup is supposed to be part of a VAR trial, with televised third-round ties at Premier League grounds using the technology — but then Liverpool versus Everton was switched to Friday night and it didn’t seem such a good idea.

Brighton versus Crystal Palace will get the VAR treatment instead, because the FA and Professional Game Match Officials considered the Merseyside derby too volatile to risk further carnage.

We want the truth but Merseyside, apparently, can’t handle the truth. Why? If the technology works, what are the FA scared of? Maybe an incident like the one at the WACA where a huge call was made even more controversial by the flawed circumstances of the judgment.

In other words, a guess. That is what Dar did, when he reached a very hurried decision on Stoneman gloving a catch to wicket-keeper Tim Paine.

Umpire Erasmus had initially shaken his head, perhaps because he thought Stoneman did not touch it, perhaps because the gloved hand under scrutiny had been taken off the bat before making faint contact with the ball.

Dar disagreed. And this is the crucial part. He may even have been right. Michael Vaughan was prepared to say that repeated slow-motion study supported Dar’s call. But he took 30 minutes to come to that conclusion, on social media.

So Dar cannot have been conclusively right in the time allotted. If he was right, he was right by accident. And video technology is not supposed to be about accidental acts of accuracy. It is interesting that as other sports are embracing set-piece reviews as part of the spectacle, showing them on big screens, making them part of the entertainment, one has identified wider issues and decided to keep it in-house.

Golf will no longer accept armchair informants shopping players for rule infringements spotted on television coverage. They have accepted that some of the crimes phoned in were harmless, accidental transgressions for which the punishments were disproportionate.

The tiniest movement of a ball in the rough might not be detected in real time by the golfer, but could be picked up by a viewer with constant slow-mo replays. From there, the penalties could be immense — shot deductions, even disqualification if the wrong score had been recorded.

Now, at least one official, and more in major tournaments, will be assigned to study broadcast footage, identifying and resolving issues as they arise. They will then advise match referees, who will clear issues quickly. And all without being played out as part of the show.

This is how it should be. Video should be there for certainties, and travesties. For cheats or blatant errors such as the Swiss penalty that knocked Northern Ireland out of the World Cup. Finite calls, black-and-white matters of in or out are equally not an issue, such as goal-line technology in football, or disputed line calls in tennis. What has increasingly happened, though, is because video is viewed as a panacea solving all sporting injustices, those in charge of it feel duty-bound to offer solutions.

When did you last hear a VAR tell the match referee, ‘Mate, I haven’t a clue. Your guess is as good as mine.’

What do they fear? That they won’t get the next gig, if they admit the truth? That, a great many times, the video is as inconclusive as real-time sight? That you can’t see through 10 bodies to the bottom of a ruck, that Snicko was synced with the footage to match a version of what we think most likely happened, that Herrera’s tumble looks like a penalty from one angle and a dive from the other, and is wholly a matter of opinion?

Baseball uses video technology to decide the toughest base calls. Yet, most times, it is close to impossible to separate the runner from the tag and anyone who says they can should be working for NASA, not Major League Baseball.

Yet they do it, because this is now what is expected. Dar called it because he feared confessing that, like the rest of us at the WACA, he really couldn’t be sure.

So he guessed, he backed his best hunch and got it right, or wrong. Just like the on-field umpire would have before technology solved everything. Kind of ironic, if you think about it.

On stage 17 of this year’s Vuelta a Espana, Chris Froome struggled up the Alto de los Machucos, a mountain with a 25 per cent gradient in some places, losing 42 seconds to his closest challenger Vincenzo Nibali.

The following day, on stage 18, he was a changed man, making a magnificent late break on the road to Santo Toribio de Liebana, which extended his lead over Nibali to a minute and 37 seconds.

That was on September 7, the day Froome recorded a positive test for increased levels of salbutamol.

Team Sky will no doubt insist that this was in no way an attempt to cheat, as salbutamol through an inhaler has no performance-enhancing effects.

Yet, day to day, stage to stage, Froome’s performance greatly improved.

Indeed, his performance on September 7 is widely considered to be the game-changer in winning the Vuelta — the first time a rider has scooped that, and the Tour de France, in the same year since 1978. So scepticism is understandable, no matter Team Sky’s protests.

For whatever reason, Froome got better on the day he tested positive. If he thought he had an uphill climb then, it is nothing compared to the one he faces restoring his credibility now.

One of the more bemusing details from the Old Trafford brawl is the role of the police in the tunnel. According to reports of the melee, police ‘looked on in disbelief’.

Er, they did what? Watched? So what are they there for, then? This was a mass fight, with punches thrown, objects aimed and injuries caused. It seems like exactly the sort of behaviour the police are there to prevent.

Why was it left for stewards to break up? If the police do not want to get involved, why are they in the tunnel? If all they want is autographs, get behind the barriers with the rest of the kids. If they just want to watch the match, buy a ticket.

Arsene Wenger has cited wrestling as holding the answers to football’s problems with respect. ‘In sumo, you never can tell which guy wins,’ said Wenger.

‘The winner doesn’t show any emotion out of respect for the loser. When you live in Japan, what comes through is the respect for people.’ Well, yes and no. There is a lot of politeness and bowing to superiors, but it is quite an insular society and visiting foreigners — not sensei (teachers) like Wenger, who are much admired — are not always welcomed.

Equally, one wonders why if Wenger was so affected he hasn’t lived more by sumo’s example because, when losing, far from appearing inscrutable, one can read his face a mile away. Old Vinegar Lips, as Sir Alex Ferguson used to call him.

Chelsea supporters have long had to put up with being told they have no history, by rivals whose ignorance of it is damning.

For instance, Chelsea beat Liverpool to a European trophy by two seasons, winning the Cup-Winners’ Cup in 1971.

Equally, considering the Premier League has been going a quarter of a century now, their early successes under Jose Mourinho might count as modern history, at least.

Yet it is not just visitors to Stamford Bridge who need greater appreciation of the past. Those Chelsea fans taunting Huddersfield Town fans with ‘champions of England, you’ll never sing that’ may need to consult the annals, too.

For the record, in the years when Huddersfield became the first English club to win the league three years in succession — 1923-24 to 1925-26 — Chelsea were relegated in 21st place and then failed to win promotion from Division Two, finishing fifth and third.

It took them until 2010 and the arrival of a Russian billionaire to overtake the number of titles won by Huddersfield.

Southampton thought they were too good for Claude Puel. A first major cup final in 14 years and an eighth-place finish was beneath them. They wanted sexier football, they wanted excitement. Well, now they’ve got it. After Puel’s Leicester inflicted a 4-1 home defeat this week, Southampton sit just four points off 19th place and three of their next four fixtures are Chelsea, Tottenham and Manchester United, all away. Maybe someone will tell Mauricio Pellegrino they would now settle for the odd dull draw.

England are now considering appointing a full-time manager to handle future cricket tours, disciplinary issues having overshadowed the 2017-18 Ashes.

Aside from current personal issues, Andrew Strauss, ECB director of cricket, has too many professional duties at home, while Phil Neale is employed as operations manager but deals mainly with the logistics of hotels and travel.

Trevor Bayliss, the coach, has been uncomfortable answering questions about drinking sessions and headbutts, and would rather focus on cricket. Yet why is a disciplinarian required at all, unless it is expected that players will misbehave? Surely it isn’t a full-time job clearing up after England’s cricketers on tour?

And if it is, isn’t that rather the problem?

Steven Finn says the current England team drink considerably less than the one that toured Australia in 2010-11.

‘There was a lot of alcohol on that tour,’ he recalled this week. ‘There was lots of going out — way, way more than happens under this regime.’

The underlying coda being, we drank, and we won. England defeated Australia 3-1 in that series.

Yet Finn did not play after Perth, when Australia tied the series 1-1. He was dropped for being too expensive. Some might argue that was the start of his problems, in and out of the England team, action failings, inconsistency.

The rules governing no balls were actually changed to take in Finn’s unfortunate habit of clipping the stumps with his trailing right knee. He was sent home from the last Ashes tour after one-day coach Ashley Giles said the technical issues made it impossible to select him.

Put it like this, there are better adverts for the hard-drinking tour lifestyle than Finn.

Maybe he needed a few more nights in.

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Sourced from Mirror.co.uk article

Pellegrino in blistering attack on Southampton stars’ commitment after 4-1 loss

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Southampton boss Mauricio Pellegrino has launched a blistering attack on his players, accusing them of ­lacking ­commitment against Leicester.

The Argentinian was forced to apologise to furious fans after his team slumped to a humiliating 4-1 home defeat to sacked former boss Claude Puel’s Foxes on Wednesday.

An angry Pellegrino said: “It was a bad game from the beginning.

“I feel like there was a lack of connection in ­different moments. We were not ­connecting 100 per cent on the game. When you see all the goals we conceded, we don’t usually make these type of ­mistakes. Lack of connection is when you are not ­mentally 100 per cent on the pitch.

“The mood and the feeling before the game and the preparation was right. When you are not mentally ready, it’s ­difficult to be physically ready on the pitch.

“In difficult moments you have to come back to the foundation of the team, the discipline of the team and think about the possibility they have to be in this club and to be in the Premier League.

“Not many players are [lucky enough to be] in this situation.

“We have to start to choose the players that want to help the club, 100 per cent. Their behaviour has to be committed to the club, 100 per cent.

“There are not too many times I have to say sorry to my fans, because when you do everything and you lose I know I have tried my best.”

Summer appointment Pellegrino, who has just one win in eight matches, also revealed he has let his players know how he felt about the turgid display — and that he expects a response at champions Chelsea on Saturday.

The former Liverpool defender added: “I was talking with the players. In football, a bad result is part of our life.

“My ­players are ­intelligent and know it was a really bad game and they have to be humble in this moment.

“They are human ­beings that play football. They are not machines and sometimes they do not have a good night. My players know ­exactly what we need to be a better team and to bounce back.

“The good thing when you play badly is you have another game quickly — we want to play this game as quickly as ­possible.

I have to try and find solutions, to inspire my players and be stronger in difficult moments. My job is to try to achieve good results and play good football.”

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@AdamBlackmore - Adam Blackmore

Unlike Koeman when he went to Everton, Claude Puel said hello, shook my hand, and simply said ‘your hands are cold’… https://twitter.com/i/web/status/941071016377413632

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Summary of non-mainstream articles: 15/12/2017 08:47:45


| Thibaut Courtois states his prediction for Chelsea v SouthamptonSPORTREVIEWCOM |
| | City Summary – December 14: Van Dijk back on radar, Pep praises Silva, Leicester referee announced – City WatchCITYWATCH |
| | Steven Gerrard raves about Chelsea star ahead of Southampton clashSPORTREVIEWCOM |
| | Liverpool Dealt Blow In Pursuit Of Key Transfer Target As Man City Are Braced To Sign Him – The Kop Times | …THEKOPTIMES |

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Young striker Michael Obafemi reflects on a successful night in the #FAYouthCup, after his second-half treble in… https://twitter.com/i/web/status/941594042957053952

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Summary of non-mainstream articles: 15/12/2017 09:48:00

| | PMB: Chelsea v Southampton - talking pointsOFFCHELSEA |

| Michael Owen makes Eden Hazard prediction for Chelsea v SouthamptonSPORTREVIEWCOM |
| | Conte To Make 3 Changes – Predicted 3-4-2-1 Chelsea Lineup To Face Southampton On Saturday – SoccerSoulsSOCCERSOULS |

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Check out the best images from #SaintsFCU18s’ victory over #Wolves in the #FAYouthCup: http://sfcne.ws/U18FAYCGallery

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