Andre Villas-Boas quits as Shanghai SIPG manager to compete in Dakar Rally

Embed from Getty Images

Sports stars trying their hand at another sport are nothing new, but Andre Villas-Boas is taking it to an extreme: quitting his job as manager of Shanghai SIPG in the Chinese Super League in order to take up a drive at the forthcoming Dakar Rally.

Villas-Boas will compete in a Toyota Hilux in the car category of the legendary rally, which begins in Peru on January 6.

The Dakar Rally is known as one of the toughest motorsport competitions in the world, where drivers race over various terrains, including off-road, sand dunes, mud, camel grass and rocks, among others. Drivers can cover up to 500 miles per day.

Villas-Boas is a well-known motorsport fan – he’s attended Formula 1 races on numerous occasions – and it is in his blood as his uncle competed in the 1982 edition of the event, which was then known as the Paris-Dakar Rally.

He had initially wanted to compete in the motorbikes category, but switched to cars when he learned that it would take a year’s preparation in order to do it.

Whether the former Chelsea and Tottenham Hotspur manager will return to football management in the future, or if he sees this as a permanent career change.

Good luck to him.

Get the factz you need on all 6 of tonight’s Premier League matches

Embed from Getty Images

There are six matches in the Premier League tonight, with Manchester City looking to extend their lead at the top of the table, while others will be looking to put distance between themselves and the relegation zone. Stoke City v Liverpool is live on Sky Sports Premier League. Here are the factz you need to know:

Arsenal v Huddersfield Town
• This is the first league meeting between the sides since 1972, and the first in any competition since 2011, when the sides met in the FA Cup 4th round. Huddersfield, then a League One side, lost 2-1 to the Gunners.
• Arsenal have won their last 11 home PL matches, and are unbeaten in 13 in all – a run stretching back to January.
• Huddersfield have won just 2 of their last 11 PL matches, losing 6.
• The Terriers have also not won away from home since their opening day 0-3 win against Crystal Palace.
• Huddersfield will be the 46th different side Arsene Wenger will have faced in the PL in his 21 years as Arsenal manager.

AFC Bournemouth v Burnley
• A win for Burnley tonight would take them into the top 6, above Tottenham and, if the results go the right way, into the Champions League spots. A Bournemouth win by 2 clear goals could send the Cherries into the top half of the table.
• Bournemouth won this fixture 2-1 last season. Burnley ran out 3-2 winners at Turf Moor.
• The Cherries are in form, with 3 wins and a draw from their last 5 PL matches.
• A run of 3 consecutive PL wins for Burnley was ended by their controversial defeat against Arsenal last time out.
• Burnley have only been beaten once on the road so far this season – and that was against Manchester City. They have 3 wins and 2 draws from their other away matches.

Chelsea v Swansea City
• Chelsea beat Swansea 3-1 in this fixture last season. At the Liberty Stadium, it ended 2-2.
• Swansea haven’t won at Stamford Bridge since 1925 – when they were still known as Swansea Town.
• Chelsea have won 4 of their last 5 matches, winning 4.
• The Swans have lost 7 of their last 9 games in all competitions.
• Swansea have scored just 7 goals in the PL this season. Chelsea’s Alvaro Morata has managed 8 on his own.

Everton v West Ham United
• In theory, this game should be a goal-fest, as the sides have the two leakiest defences in the PL: Everton have conceded 28, West Ham 26.
• Everton have won just once in their last 12 matches in all competitions, including 8 defeats.
• However, all of Everton’s wins this season have come at Goodison Park.
• West Ham haven’t won in 6 PL matches – 3 losses and 3 defeats.
• West Ham aren’t good away from home either – one win in their last 14, although only 6 games have ended in defeat.

Manchester City v Southampton (8pm)
• In this fixture last season, Southampton left the Etihad with a point following a 1-1 draw.
• City’s 37 points from 13 matches is the best start to a season since Liverpool also scored 37 points at the start of the 1990/91 campaign in the old Division One. Despite that start, Liverpool didn’t go on to win the title.
• Sergio Aguero has scored in his last 6 PL appearances – he has never scored in 7 consecutive games.
• Saints have only won one match away from home this season, against rock-bottom Crystal Palace.
• Saints are the model of inconsistency at the moment – 2 wins, 2 losses and a draw in their past 5 PL matches.

Stoke City v Liverpool (8pm)
• Liverpool did the double over Stoke last season, winning 1-2 at the Bet365 Stadium and 4-1 at Anfield.
• Stoke’s recent record against Liverpool is mostly awful – losing 7 of the last 8 matches, the exception being THAT 6-1 win in May 2015 in Steven Gerrard’s farewell game for the Reds.
• Stoke have won just one of their last 6 PL matches, losing 3.
• Liverpool have won 3 of their last 5 PL matches, losing just once.
• Liverpool have conceded 18 goals this season, of which 16 have come away from home.

Get all the factz you need on tonight’s Premier League matches

Embed from Getty Images

There are 4 matches in the Premier League tonight – here are the factz you need to know.

Brighton & Hove Albion v Crystal Palace (7.45pm)
• This will be the first derby between the sides since the 2013 play-off semi-finals. In that 2-legged affair, the Eagles downed the Seagulls, winning 0-2 at the Amex Stadium after a 0-0 draw at Selhurst Park.
• Brighton are unbeaten in 5 at home, although they have draw the last 3.
• Palace are awful away from home – they have lost all 6 away matches this season and have failed to score in any of those matches.
• The Eagles are also the only club in the Premier League to not keep a clean sheet so far this season.
• Brighton haven’t got a good record against Palace, winning just two of their last 12 meetings in all competitions. The Eagles have won 7 of those meetings.

Leicester City v Tottenham Hotspur (7.45pm)
• When Spurs visited the King Power Stadium last season, they thrashed the Foxes 1-6, with Harry Kane scoring 4 of those goals.
• Leicester have lost just two of their last 9 PL matches – but they’ve only won 2 as well.
• Leicester have lost 3 matches at home so far this season – although they were against Liverpool, Manchester City and Chelsea.
• Spurs have stumbled in the PL recently – 1 win and 2 defeats in their last 4, having won their previous 4.
• Harry Kane likes playing against Leicester – he’s scored 10 goals in 9 games against them – including one while he was playing on loan at Millwall.

Watford v Manchester United (8pm)
• Watford beat Manchester United 3-1 in this fixture last season – halting a run of 11 successive wins in all competitions for the Red Devils over the Hornets. United resumed normal service in February with a 2-0 over Watford at Old Trafford.
• Watford have won their last two PL games, keeping a clean sheet in both matches.
• Meanwhile United have lost their last 2 PL matches away from home – against Huddersfield Town and Chelsea – failing to score in either.
• However, Vicarage Road isn’t a fortress for the Hornets – only two wins their in their last 8 PL matches.
• United have the most miserly defence in the league – just 6 goals conceded in 13 games.

West Bromwich Albion v Newcastle United (8pm)
• Managerless West Brom could move ahead of their opponents in the table tonight if they win by 2 clear goals or more, while a win for the Magpies could propel them into the top half.
• The Baggies have won just once at home this season – on the opening day against Bournemouth.
• West Brom won their first two matches of the season, but haven’t won any of their subsequent 11 matches, losing 6.
• Newcastle are also out of form, having lost their last 4 PL matches on the spin.
• The Magpies’ only away win in 6 matches this season so far has come against Swansea City – they have lost four and drawn one.

Midfield stars to stay at Arsenal – at least until the summer, says Wenger

Embed from Getty Images

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger believes that midfield stars Mesut Ozil, Alexis Sanchez and Jack Wilshire will stay at the club until the summer at least.

Ozil and Sanchez are both out of contact in June, and so far they have indicated that they want to leave the club when their contracts expire. It was thought that Arsenal may look to cash in on at least one of the players in the January transfer window, rather than risk losing both for nothing in the summer.

However, speaking in his press conference ahead of Arsenal’s match with Huddersfield Town on Wednesday Wenger said: “In my head, they stay until the end of the season. Unless something unbelievable happens I don’t see that changing.”

There has been no shortage of speculation about the future destination of Ozil and Sanchez – with numerous clubs believed to be interested in both players – and bids could yet come in for the players in January, although they would be below their market value, given the length of time on their contracts.

When pressed on the players’ future beyond this season, Wenger said: “I am not the only one to decide that. They have to decide that as well.”

Meanwhile, Wenger has said that he wants England midfielder Jack Wilshire to stay at the club. Wilshire, who spent last season on loan at AFC Bournemouth, has yet to start a Premier League match for Arsenal this season, and has struggled with injuries throughout his career. However, Wenger wants to retain him “because he’s a top-quality player.”

AC Milan sack Vincenzo Montella and replace him with club legend

Embed from Getty Images

AC Milan have sacked manager Vincenzo Montella, who has paid the price for a patchy start to the season, and replaced him with Gennaro Gattuso.

Milan drew 0-0 with Torino at the weekend, a result that leaves them 7th in Serie A after 14 games – 18 points behind leaders Napoli. However, the side have only won 2 of their last 9 games.

Gattuso, who played with distinction for Milan between 1999 and 2013, steps up from youth coach at the club.

It seems as if Li Yonghong, Milan’s Chinese owner lost patience with Montella, having expected the club to be challenging at the top of the division after investing £205 million in new players over the summer.

As is customary, Milan put out a statement following Montella’s sacking, saying: “We are very grateful to Mr Montella and his staff for all the work done up to today, their commitment and professionalism.”