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Summary

  1. Eight Premier League games: Sunderland v Chelsea (19:45 GMT)
  2. Also: M'boro v Liverpool (19:45), Man City v Watford (20:00) Palace v Man Utd (20:00)
  3. Birmingham City sack manager Rowett
  4. Rugby union: England captain Hartley set to learn Six Nations fate
  5. Get Involved: Which of the 'big four bosses' will go first? #bbcsportsday

Live Reporting

By Jamie Lillywhite and Alan Jewell

All times stated are UK

Get involved

Cheerio

Thanks for keeping us company today. We've got an exciting evening to look forward to with eight Premier League games and our live text service will keep you updated with everything that happens. All the build-up starts at 18:30 GMT and don't forget there's Match of the Day on BBC One at 22:45.

We'll be back from 08:00 tomorrow with the reaction to tonight's games and - it's breathless stuff - the first of the news conferences previewing this weekend's matches. It never ends.

For now, though, goodbye. 

Watch: Messi and the boy with a homemade shirt

Football

Lionel Messi meets Afghan boy who became viral star

Do you remember the Afghan boy who became an online hit after wearing a homemade shirt bearing Lionel Messi's famous number 10?

Well, six-year-old Murtaza Ahmadi has got to meet his hero - Messi held his hand as they walked on to the pitch in Doha before a friendly between Qatar and Barcelona.

Murtaza clearly loved the whole experience.   

Adcocks make winning start

Badminton

Chris and Gabby Adcock made a winning start to the defence of their BWF World Superseries Finals title with victory over Kenta Kazuno and Ayane Kurihara.

The Adcocks, ranked eighth in the world, needed just 34 minutes to beat the Japanese pair 21-15 21-9 in their Group B opener in Dubai.

They will now face Chinese duo Siwei Zheng and Qingchen Chen in their second match at the season-ending showpiece.

Chris and Gabby Adcock
Getty Images

Suspended Dawson misses out

West Brom v Swansea (20:00 GMT)

West Brom defender Craig Dawson (below, left) will end a run of 53 successive league appearances for the Baggies as he is suspended.

Swansea have no new injury worries after their victory over Sunderland at the weekend.

Ki Sung-Yueng and Federico Fernandez are still out as both players continue their recoveries from toe injuries.

West Brom are 10th in the Premier League with Swansea third-bottom. 

Craig Dawson
Getty Images

Shawcross and Walters could return for Stoke

Stoke v Southampton (20:00 GMT)

Stoke boss Mark Hughes hopes to have Ryan Shawcross and Jon Walters available after injury for his 400th Premier League match as a manager.

Marc Muniesa is a doubt with a knee problem and Glen Johnson has an eye infection.

Southampton have no fresh injury concerns and Jay Rodriguez could again start up front in the absence of Charlie Austin.

Matt Targett and Alex McCarthy remain unavailable with hamstring problems.

The Saints are 11th in the table with Stoke 12th.

Jonathan Walters and Ryan Shawcross
Getty Images

'I can't think of anyone who deserves it more'

#BBCUnsungHero

"She came to us and said to us 'If I buy a table would you like to have it for the village hall?'," says one of the Sancton Smashers table tennis club members. 

"Then she pointed out that she was a coach and we said 'Yes, Yes, Yes!'"

Sylvia Worth has transformed the lives of some people in the East Riding of Yorkshire and has been named the 2016 Unsung Hero for East Yorkshire and Lincolnshire.

Sylvia Worth helps transform the lives of people through table tennis

Find out more about your local Unsung Hero on the Get Inspired index.  

Zola favourite for Birmingham job

Football

Gianfranco Zola
Getty Images

He may have spent more time on the golf course than the training ground recently but it looks like Gianfranco Zola's appointment as Birmingham manager is imminent.

The Birmingham Mail report that the Italian, who was previously in charge at West Ham and Watford, will take over from Gary Rowett.

Rowett was sacked by the Championship club earlier today despite the Blues sitting seventh in the table, just three points off third place.

Otamendi and Kaboul may return

Man City v Watford (20:00 GMT)

Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola could recall defender Nicolas Otamendi (below), who served a one game-ban at Leicester.

However, top scorer Sergio Aguero and Fernandinho are still suspended, while Vincent Kompany remains injured.

Watford defender Younes Kaboul could be involved after returning to training following a calf injury.

Midfielder Roberto Pereyra is available again following his one-match ban. However, Valon Behrami is doubtful because of illness.

Nicolas Otamendi
Getty Images

Expect the unpredictable

Man City v Watford (20:00 GMT)

Steve Wilson

Match of the Day commentator

Pep Guardiola
Getty Images

When Pep Guardiola's Manchester City side had won their first 10 matches of the season, it was as if the rest of the Premier League might as well pack up - here was a genius reinventing the art of winning and rendering the presence of the other 19 clubs pointless.

Now that City have won only four of the 15 games that followed, Guardiola is being presented as a naive tourist - happy with tiki-taka and tapas, but ignorant of great old English traditions like physicality and putting curry sauce on chips. 'City win the league...? They can't even win a tackle.'

The truth, as usual, lies somewhere in between.

Watford will tackle all right. But which Watford will turn up? The team good enough to sit seventh having beaten Everton, or the one thrashed 6-1 by Liverpool?

Again - the truth lies somewhere in between.

Cabaye could return for Palace

Crystal Palace v Man Utd (20:00 GMT)

Jason Puncheon misses out for Crystal Palace as he is serving a one-match suspension, meaning Yohan Cabaye (below) could earn a recall.

Defender James Tomkins and midfielder Bakary Sako will both be sidelined for a month after suffering muscle strains.

Manchester United midfielder Henrikh Mkhitaryan is expected to be out until Boxing Day with an ankle injury.

Full-back Antonio Valencia is suspended after picking up his fifth domestic booking of the season.

Yohan Cabaye
Getty Images

'Pressure has eased on Pardew'

Crystal Palace v Man Utd (20:00 GMT)

Simon Brotherton

Match of the Day commentator

Manchester United travel south on the back of a big win over Tottenham, knowing they need to keep winning to stay in touch with those above in the fight for a top-four place.

United seem to be moving in the right direction at the moment and now trail Spurs by just three points and neighbours Manchester City by six.

They're unbeaten in the past 14 league meetings with Crystal Palace too, a run stretching back 25 years.

Alan Pardew's team have taken four points from the last couple of games. It's helped ease the pressure on the manager, but they've been leaking like a sieve at the back recently and that needs to change if they are to get anything here.

Alan Pardew
Getty Images
Are things looking up for Alan Pardew?

Liverpool's defence 'a cause for concern'

Middlesbrough v Liverpool (19:45 GMT)

Jonathan Pearce

Match of the Day commentator

The Premier League's lowest scorers against its highest. On paper it looks like an away win. Many pundits tip Boro for relegation because they can't score.

But any side that can draw at Arsenal, Manchester City and Leicester deserves respect. They'll make it just as tough for Liverpool, who'll need to be at their best.

Jurgen Klopp may have attacked critics of his defence but they've only kept one clean sheet in their eight league away games this season and under him have kept just four clean sheets in 23 Premier League away games, conceding 38 goals.

That's cause for concern.

Middlesbrough celebrate draw at Arsenal
Getty Images

Liverpool's Riverside aversion

Middlesbrough v Liverpool (19:45 GMT)

With a nod to the Kop Magazine for highlighting the stats, Liverpool's record at the Riverside does not make pleasant reading for the visitors.

Since they first met at the ground in November 1995, the Merseysiders have managed just two wins from 15 matches with only one goal in the past seven encounters on Teesside.

The last meeting was in February 2009 and ended in a 2-0 win for a Middlesbrough side managed by Gareth Southgate. It featured a Xabi Alonso own goal (below) and a strike from Tuncay.  

Liverpool went on to finish second with Middlesbrough eventually relegated.

Middlesbrough-Liverpool, February 2009
Getty Images

Everton contact Man Utd over Schneiderlin

Football

Phil McNulty and Simon Stone

Morgan Schneiderlin
Getty Images

Everton are interested in signing Manchester United midfielder Morgan Schneiderlin.

Contact has been made between the two clubs, although there is no agreement over a deal as yet.

Schneiderlin has made only three substitute appearances totalling 11 minutes in the Premier League this season and was not included by manager Jose Mourinho in the United squad for tonight's game at Crystal Palace.

Mourinho will sanction any deal for the 27-year-old France international, who is not part of his long-term plans.

United paid £25m to sign Schneiderlin from Southampton in July 2015 when Koeman was in the charge of the south coast club.

It is also understood Koeman is keen on 22-year-old United forward Memphis Depay, who like Schneiderlin has no United future.

Form book suggests few goals

West Ham v Burnley (19:45 GMT)

Mark Noble
AFP
Mark Noble's penalty settled the last West Ham-Burnley fixture in May 2015

West Ham are only one place and one point off the relegation zone ahead of tonight's match with Burnley, who are four points and four places better off.

The Hammers have won three of the four Premier League meetings between the teams but are on a six-match winless league run and only Middlesbrough (six) have scored fewer home league goals than West Ham's seven at the London Stadium this season.

But just one of Burnley's 17 Premier League points this season has come away from home and they have only scored one goal in their six away games, the fewest by any club in Europe's five biggest leagues.

FA chairman meets Fifa chief Infantino

Football

Richard Conway

BBC Radio 5 live sports news correspondent

FA chairman Greg Clarke is in Zurich today to meet Fifa president Gianni Infantino.

This is the first formal meeting between the two men and a range of issues are believed to be under discussion.

It’s understood that the meeting has been scheduled for a while but it comes at a time of increased tensions between the two organisations over the poppy row.

A decision on any punishment for The FA (and the FAW, SFA and IFA) concerning displaying poppies before and during Armistice weekend matches will be announced next week.

Oscar set for Shanghai switch

Football

Oscar could soon be saying goodbye to Stamford Bridge. It is understood that Chelsea have accepted an offer of £60m from Shanghai SIPG for the Brazilian midfielder, 25.

The deal is likely to go ahead but is not yet 100% certain.

Oscar
Getty Images

'I will help Anthony to come back'

Joshua-Klitschko

Wladimir Klitschko is asked about the consequences of his eagerly awaited bout with Britain's Anthony Joshua in April. "If Anthony wins I will congratulate him, WHEN I win this fight, I will help him to come back."

Former Spurs hope to halt Hull slide

Tottenham v Hull (20:00 GMT)

Harry Kane
Getty Images

It's fifth against 19th at White Hart Lane tonight as Spurs host Hull, who have won only one of the 11 league meetings at Tottenham. 

That 1-0 victory came in the first ever Premier League fixture between these sides in October 2008 but Spurs have won five of the seven Premier League meetings since that defeat.

After beginning the season with 12 games unbeaten, Tottenham have now lost two of their last three league matches and had only two shots on target at Manchester United last weekend.

Hull, who could equal their top-flight record of six consecutive away defeats, set from January to April 2010, could have four former Spurs players in their starting line-up at the Lane; skipper Michael Dawson, Tom Huddlestone, Ryan Mason and Jake Livermore. 

What do you think the outcome will be at White Hart Lane and in tonight's other games? Our new Predictor game - available for both the Premier League and Scottish Premiership - gives you the chance to compete in personalised leagues, scoring points for predicting the results of top-flight games.

Head here to get involved.

Nacer Chadli and Danny Rose
Getty Images
Nacer Chadli and Danny Rose were the Spurs scorers when they play Hull at home in May 2015

Sunderland aiming for three home wins in a row

Sunderland v Chelsea (19:45 GMT)

Jermain Defoe
Getty Images

It's bottom against top at the Stadium of Light as Sunderland host Chelsea tonight, hoping for a repeat of their 3-2 win over the Blues in May, which went a long, long way to keeping them in the Premier League.

Sunderland are unbeaten in three home matches against Chelsea in all competitions and seeking to win three Premier League games in a row at the Stadium of Light for the first time since February 2012.

But Chelsea have won their past six matches and can go six points clear at the top of the table with victory tonight, while the Black Cats go into it bottom of the table. 

Jermain Defoe
Rex Features

England captain Hartley awaits fate

Rugby union

Dylan Hartley
Rex Features

A reminder that Dylan Hartley will find out shortly if he will be available to captain England in the Six Nations next year after he was sent off for the third time in his career.

The 30-year-old was dismissed six minutes after coming on as Northampton lost to Leinster on Friday (above).

Hartley is appearing at an independent hearing, which was due to start at 14:00 GMT, to discover the length of his ban.

England's Six Nations opener is against France on 4 February.

Hartley has served 54 weeks of suspension during his career.  

A nice chat and no flying tripods

Joshua-Klitschko news conference

Anthony Joshua and Wladimir Klitschko
PA
Ben Dirs tweet
Ben Dirs
Ben Dirs tweet
Ben Dirs

Has there ever been a friendlier boxing news conference than that?

Tonight in the top flight

Football

A busy night of top-flight football for the website live text team and in 5 live Sport, with Mark Chapman from 19:00 GMT. There are eight Premier League matches taking place; Middlesbrough-Liverpool, Sunderland-Chelsea and West Ham-Burnley all kicking off at 19:45 GMT.

Palace-Man Utd - 5 live's commentary match - Man City-Watford, Stoke-Southampton, Spurs-Hull and West Brom-Swansea are all 20:00 GMT starts.

Kohli mentor hits back at Anderson

Cricket

In this week's edition of the BBC's cricket magazine Stumped, there is an interview with Virat Kohli’s childhood coach and mentor Rajkumar Sharma.

On James Anderson’s comments that Kohli still has flaws in his game and could struggle in England: "I was very surprised and shocked to hear such a statement  from such a great bowler. He has scored 640 runs in four Test matches and still you are doubting his technique. 

"He must remember that Australia has got faster wickets than England has and Kolhi scored four hundreds in Australia. I don’t know what he wanted to say or what flaws he found in him, but I believe he is struggling and that is why the statement came from him."

Rajkumar Sharma is the coach who spotted Kohli's talent as a nine year old boy in Delhi.

'I'm ready for any challenge'

Joshua-Klitschko

More from Anthony Joshua on his next opponent, Vladimir Klitschko, who will be 41 when they fight at Wembley in April.

"I know what that they mean when the say the old lion still roars and I know what that obsession is like because I live with that same obsession, it's just a clash of the titans. In life you have to prepare for the unpredictable so you just never know. This is the step up people want to see, what more can I ask for? I'm true to myself, true to my sport and that's why I'm ready for any challenge."

Rowett departs

Football

More on the departure of Gary Rowett at Birmingham. After guiding Burton to successive League Two play-off campaigns, he replaced Lee Clark as Blues boss in October 2014 and steered the club away from relegation to a 10th-place finish in the Championship that season. 

His first full campaign in charge last term again brought a 10th-place finish. 

Birmingham are three points off third place and host title-chasing Brighton on Saturday. Victory, combined with several other results going their way, could actually see the Blues finish the evening in third place in the Championship table. 

Gary Rowett
Getty Images

'We won't let them walk all over us'

India v England (Fri, 04:00 GMT)

The final part of our interview with England all-rounder Ben Stokes, who insists Friday's final Test is not a mere dead rubber, despite the tourists being 3-0 down in the series.

"We're playing for England still, even though the series has gone, so we're not just going to fall over and let them walk all over us."

Regarding the apparent acrimony between the teams he adds: "They are always competitive, in international sport juices are going to be flowing. I don't think the players mind getting involved in it, it's theatre."

Get Involved - who will be the first to go?

Jose Mourinho
Getty Images

Thanks to all of you who voted on which of the 'big four managers' - Jose Mourinho, Pep Guardiola, Antonio Conte and Jurgen Klopp - will be the first to leave their post.

The vote is now closed and Manchester United boss Jose Mourinho was comfortably the majority choice with 63% of those taking part saying he'd be the first out the managerial door.

The full results were:

1. Jose Mourinho (Man Utd): 63%

2. Pep Guardiola (Man City): 27%

3. Antonio Conte (Chelsea): 6%

4. Jurgen Klopp (Liverpool): 4%

More of a love-in than a weigh-in

Joshua-Klitschko news conference

From our man at the news conference, Ben Dirs...

Ben Dirs tweet
Ben Dirs

Backroom team departs

Rowett leaves Birmingham

Also leaving Birmingham with immediate effect are Gary Rowett's backroom team of Kevin Summerfield, Mark Sale, Kevin Poole and Darren Robinson.

Prior to the victory over Ipswich, Birmingham lost 4-0 and 3-0 to Newcastle and Barnsley respectively but they have only two losses in the club's last seven league matches.

'An exciting future'

Rowett leaves Birmingham

Birmingham explain the departure of Gary Rowett as manager after more than two years in the role.

"Gary came in and immediately stabilised the team amid difficult circumstances and during his tenure improved the club’s fortunes on the field.

"He has conducted himself professionally on behalf of the club at all times and there is a genuine sadness at this course of action.

"However, new owners Trillion Trophy Asia Limited (TTAL) remains determined to lead the club to a bright and exciting future."

'Friends... outstanding athlete...'

Joshua-Klitschko news conference

Anthony Joshua and Wladimir Klitschko
AP

As predicted, they are hurling compliments at each other...

"I was, I am and I will be very complimentary of him," says Klitschko.

"The first time I saw him perform in 2012 when he became Olympic champion here in London, I felt he was following in my footsteps. 

"Whatever the outcome, I truly believe he is one of the best heavyweights right now. I think Anthony is an absolutely outstanding athlete. It's great that eventually we meet."

Klitschko then gets even more effusive, praising Joshua's record and the way he trains:  

"We are friends in a certain way. I did call him little bro' but even when I am in the rang with my bro', I am very competitive."

BreakingRowett leaves Birmingham

Football

Birmingham announce they have parted company with manager Gary Rowett and his backroom staff. The Blues moved to seventh in the Championship with a 2-1 victory over Ipswich last night.

'Relying on experience'

Joshua-Klitschko news conference

Klitschko says he will keep the same backroom team. "The same right team as I had in the past. I'll be relying on experience I gained in the ring. I'm an expert in how to prepare so I will prepare accordingly." 

'Klitschko is a man I need to defeat'

Joshua-Klitschko news conference

"What makes me feel the time is right, it's all about winning," says Joshua.

"It's history, it's an amazing opportunity and the time is now.

"I would be silly not to jump at the opportunity to fight Klitschko as it's a man that I need to defeat."

'A signature fight'

Joshua-Klitschko news conference

What makes Klitschko think he can regain titles? "I'll be 41, a year and a half break. Is it good is it bad? I feel it is good. My last performance (against Fury) was not good, my motivation is as high as the sky. I have to wake up. 

"I remember Emanuel Steward, he said 'your signature fight will come up' and this is definitely a signature fight for Anthony and me. I look forward to it."

Joshua-Klitschko news conference

Boxing

Anthony Joshua and Wladimir Klitschko
PA

Klitschko says: "I am obsessed with my goal to become the champion again."

He says he will congratulate Joshua if the 27-year-old Briton wins, and he "will help you come back when I win".

Joshua-Klitschko news conference

Boxing

Here's Klitschko: "I will describe in five steps my dream."

Apparently the five steps are like four fingers and a thumb and add up to a fist... 

From champions to legend overnight

Boxing

Anthony Joshua
EPA

Anthony Joshua: "Knockout is the cherry on top but to win, whichever way, is very possible. This is a fight can change from champions to legend overnight. It will draw masses of attention and they are the type of fights that can change the way people view you."

Joshua-Klitschko news conference

Boxing

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