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  1. Pep Guardiola says festive schedule will 'kill' players
  2. Man City, Tottenham, West Ham and Crystal Palace win
  3. West Ham to investigate fan confrontation with Jake Livermore
  4. Arsene Wenger continues referee complaints
  5. Arsenal v Chelsea (19:45 GMT)

Live Reporting

By Craig Lowe

All times stated are UK

That's it from us for now - thanks for all your interaction this morning.

You can still vote on the festive fixture list here.

We'll be back later with build up to and live text on Arsenal v Chelsea. Bye for now.

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We're finishing here soon - just time for a couple more of your texts.....

Regarding fixture congestion and England’s World Cup chances, given the Premier League is the “best in the World” and comprised of approximately 2/3 foreign players you would have thought that all that practice would aid England’s performances. Maybe if you developed your own players, rather than pay £100M for imports to have the best league in the world, you might do better in tournaments. Consequences?

Mark, Edinburgh

Would anyone tell the people running Serie A that Italy didn’t qualify for the World Cup because their fixture list is too intense? Obviously not! The problem is far more complicated and you can’t draw a straight line between the domestic league and international scene

Sam in South London

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Pep isn't whinging, he clearly states that the fixture list is what it is and he understands the British tradition is special. We have to accept that Premier football is now a game played by fine-tuned athletes and as with any sports with the same demands, it is impossible to effect a full recovery in 48hrs. The cumulative effect of this causes problems.

Jan - Bolton

Football players play 180 minutes in 48 hours. Roger Federer is older than most prem players and will play 2 5-set games each at 5 hours in 48 hours and he still looks like he is sitting at a bar having a good time. Surely it is down to Preparation and a proper cool down. How many football players take ice baths?

Dan in Braintree

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Cheech: I think that the festive fixtures is what the premier league is all about but they should get a 2 week break afterwards. It will allow the players to get a decent rest.

Benjamin Lee: I think the fixture congestion issues would have been solved if the FA Cup had been held last weekend. Teams rotate their squad for that fixture so the break for key players would have been in the middle, rather than at the end. Then play PL midweek & this weekend

Tim Humphreys: All this rubbish about Tradition in the fixture list. In that case, lets ban undersoil heating, compulsory mud pitches and game doesn’t stop until at least one player is stretchered off. Progress is continual, tradition is history.

Give it Giggsy until the end of the season

It's an old joke based on a fan calling for Ryan Giggs to take over at Manchester United on a temporary basis.

Giggs did indeed get the job but he's still looking for his first permanent role in management.

His former international teammate John Hartson thinks Giggs should be at the front of the queue to take over Wales.

"If Ryan Giggs wants it then I pretty much think it's his to take," said Hartson.

John Hartson and Ryan Giggs
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Neil Fogarty: maybe, if teams stopped their closed season football tournaments on other continents, players would have more time to recover etc. Christmas period football is great entertainment that fans and TV companies pay to see happen.

Dylan Lewis: You get paid enough, stop whingeing and get on with it!” Not the point. They get paid to produce high quality football. Playing 3 games in 8 days is not preparing players to play high quality football, only to get injured

Some referees are in "dark ages" - Wenger

Arsenal v Chelsea (19:45 GMT)

Ahead of his sides game against Chelsea, Arsene Wenger has continued with his criticism of match officials.

He believes some referees are living in the "dark ages" with the way they treat players.

Wenger has been charged by the Football Association over comments made to the match officials after Sunday's 1-1 draw at West Brom.

He says he wants to see referees take "sharp action" on the field.

"This is the 1950s, where the guy talks to him: 'If you're not nice, I might punish you.' Come on, let's not waste time," said Wenger.

"What does it help for the game? Nothing. Nothing happens. People want crisp, sharp action, and the referee has to make sure that that happens.

"They want to see: 'Come on, let's get on with it and play.' That's our responsibility. We don't live in the dark ages."

Arsene Wenger
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Fixture congestion doesn't make a blind bit of difference to the national team - we'd have to play the same matches in the same time scale anyway. Spanish and Italian leagues start after us and have a gap in the middle - so they play midweek more often - add Champions League, Carabao and FA Cups and suddenly the players don't have a 5/6 day rest all season. The Welsh, French and Icelandic teams were mainly British based and that didn't effect their performance.

Oli in Bracknell

Liverpool expecting fresh Barca bid for Coutinho

Phil McNulty

BBC Sport chief football writer

Look away now Liverpool fans, Phil McNulty has an update on Philippe Coutinho and it appears Barca are not giving up....

Liverpool are now braced for another attempt to secure a deal this month.

Liverpool rejected three offers, and a transfer request from the Brazilian, before the start of this season.

The last of Barcelona's three bids was £118m - which included add-ons totalling in excess of £30m based on Coutinho winning the Ballon d'Or, and other built-in clauses.

Barcelona will have to increase that last offer, without assorted clauses, to have any hope of resurrecting a deal.

Coutinho could not play for Barcelona in the Champions League having already represented Liverpool, but this has not cooled the Catalans' intention of doing a deal this month.

Significantly, however, there has been no repeat of the hardline public stance Liverpool adopted last summer when the club issued a statement insisting "no offers will be considered" for Coutinho and this was a "definitive stance".

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Gary, Bristol it's Liverpool who are hypocrites illegally tapped up VVD then cry when Barca do the same to them!!

Craig, Manchester

Happy New Year.. without PC, Liverpool are a beast with no head, as witnessed against Burnley. As for Xmas schedule, I worked Boxing Day, and all but 2 days since, I’m not dead.

Rich, Hale

West Ham looking into Livermore confrontation

West Ham 2-1 West Brom

West Ham are going to investigate events that led to Baggies' midfielder Jake Livermore's confrontation with Hammers fans last night.

The England international was involved in a heated exchange with some West Ham supporters and needed escorting down the tunnel, following his substitution.

You can read more about it here.

Jake Livermore
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Paul Skinback: The fixture list is a joke. It's the equivalent of people in normal jobs being asked to do 3 times the hours over a 2 week period (that should be family time). They should just have 1 or 2 a day in the PL to meet the TV needs over the festive period. Basic, isn't it?

Officials apologised - Carvalhal

Swansea 0-2 Tottenham

Swansea were not happy with Tottenham's opening goal and Swans boss Carlos Carvalhal says he received an apology at full time.

Swansea 0-2 Tottenham: Carlos Carvalhal says assistant apologised for Spurs' offside goal

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There are plenty of normal folk who have worked 12hr night shifts & long days all over the festive period. The notion that these highly tuned pampered athletes can't play two 90minute matches in the space of 48hrs is beyond laughable.


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Was Pep actually 'moaning'? He just stated his opinion,reflected on the heroic and unrealistic pace of the Christmas period which is programmed to suit the money Gods who run football-every manager says it,should we start listening??

Just a gentle reminder that we need you to include your name on texts and tweets please....

Spurs go fifth with Swansea win

Swansea 0-2 Tottenham

With all the talk about fixture congestion and Philippe Coutinho it's easy to forget Spurs have been quietly going about their business over Christmas.

They're now fifth in the table after their 2-0 win at Swansea.

The hosts felt Fernando Llorente was offside when he scored Spurs opener - more on that later - and Davinson Sanchez could arguably have been sent off.

The weather was terrible in South Wales and Mauricio Pochettino was happy to win in tricky conditions.

Swansea 0-2 Tottenham: Mauricio Pochettino says Spurs were lucky but deserved victory

Carra has his say on Coutinho

Jamie Carragher reckons Liverpool would be foolish to let Coutinho go this month.....

Best thing @LFC is agree the BIG fee for Coutinho to go in the summer like we’ve done with Keita, not now. What do……

App users may need to click on the link

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Phill: Ste in bootle - if Liverpool don’t sell Coutinho, Barca will move on to another target, maybe Eriksen and you’ll be left with a player who doesn’t want to play for you anymore.

Janet Hopper: Liverpool hold the cards. Bid of £150mil would be good but it's the upfront money with Barca that's often the problem. £90mil now might be good for the club?

Philippe Coutinho
Getty Images

What do you think Liverpool fans? Do you want to keep Coutinho or will you be glad to see the back of him?

Silva's poor away record continues

Man City 3-1 Watford

While we're talking Pep and City, lets look at how last night affects Watford.

They haven't had a great Christmas - taking just three points.

Their defeat at the Etihad has also left manager Marco Silva with an unwanted stat.

Since he took charge of his first away Premier League match on 22 January 2017, he has lost more away games than any other manager (13).

To make matters worse, since Silva was linked with the Everton job, Watford have only taken 10 points from 13 games.

Man City 3-1 Watford: 'We showed Man City too much respect' say Silva

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The issue raised by Guardiola should be a concern; there has been the thick end of 200 premier league games since 1 December; compare that to the number of games in all other top European games and then ask yourself why England struggle in major tournaments! it has nothing to do with over paid prima dona's! you try exercising continually and going to work!!!

Trevor, Clitheroe in Lancashire

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Tim Smith: Pep's entitled to point out how tough the fixture list is, but I reckon it sets the Prem apart. It adds unpredictability and makes the league much tougher than others. I don't think that's a bad thing.

Defeat difficult to take - Mauricio Pellegrino

Southampton 1-2 Crystal Palace

Spare a thought for Shane Long this morning. He scores his first Southampton goal in 11 months and they still get beat.

Saints are hovering precariously above the relegation zone after Crystal Palace extended their run without a win to nine games.

Southampton 1-2 Crystal Palace: Pellegrino says Saints didn't read game well enough

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Liverpool should add £30 million to the Coutinho price purely because of the Nike announcement. Announcing you signed a player before even making a bid? And Barca had the cheek to moan about the Neymar transfer. Hypocrites.

Gary, Bristol

Players deserve the credit - Hodgson

Southampton 1-2 Crystal Palace

What a job Roy Hodgson is doing at Crystal Palace.

It's now one defeat in eleven games and they're up to 14th in the table.

It's fair to say they've had a decent Christmas - they even nearly became the first team to beat Man City in the Premier League this season.

Southampton 1-2 Crystal Palace: Hodgson impressed by 'phenomenal' work rate from Eagles

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A couple of contrasting views on Pep's comments here.....

I think Pep needs to sit down and do a bit of research into the history of Xmas fixtures in our top flight; it has always been this way! Yet again another example of managers protecting (large) squads of over-paid prima-donnas!

Dave G, Manchester

People telling Pep to stop moaning are missing the point. Eventually the very best players in the world who crave World Cup and international success will stop coming to the premier league in order to stay a bit fresher for the summer tournaments. As an England fan as well as a City fan, the fact that our starting 11 all play in the premier league means it’s not a surprise that our players look off the pace every tournament. It’s the most competitive league in the world so plan our fixture list to take this into account.


Moyes has sympathy for West Brom

West Ham 2-1 West Brom

Andy Carroll scored deep into injury time to give West Ham all three points. You can read the match report here.

West Brom were playing their second game in three days, while West Ham had not played since Boxing Day.

David Moyes was delighted with the points but could understand why West Brom may feel aggrieved.

West Ham 2-1 West Brom: 'Persistence rewarded through late Carroll winner' insists Moyes

Is it fair that one club can play twice in three days while their opponent has a longer rest? Let us know via #bbcfootball or text 81111 (UK only)

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If Coutinho says he is not not prepared to play for Liverpool again then he will be giving up going to the World Cup because Liverpool are going to stand firm we have contacts just like the Spanish press

Ste in Bootle

Tired minds cost West Brom - Pardew

West Ham 2-1 West Brom

It's not just Pep Guardiola who feels the festive fixtures are a problem.

Alan Pardew believes they played a part in his sides defeat at West Ham. The Baggies even tried to get the match postponed.

West Ham 2-1 West Brom: 'Tired legs cost us a point' admits Pardew

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Andrew Webb: Pep can't moan about the fixtures - same for everyone nearly plus where does he expect another round of PL fixtures to go with CL, EL and FA Cup games spread all over Feb onwards - play them now and out of the way

Get Involved - Festive Football vote

You'll see on the right hand side of the page that we are having a vote on the festive fixture list.

It comes off the back of Pep Guardiola claiming the pile up could "kill" players.

Do you agree with Pep or do you love the amount of games at this time of year?

Have your say by voting.

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I don’t know what Pep is complaining about. These hugely highly paid players are there to deliver a service to their paying public. That is the industry that they are in and if they are not happy about it then get out. I am damn sure that millions of people would love to be in their football boots. Get on with it Pep and stop whingeing.


rest some players Pep and give the other teams a chance.. oh, and stop moaning, we pay you all a fortune so we can watch football over Christmas

Andy B

Festive fixtures are relentless

Man City 3-1 Watford

The festive fixture list was a talking point on Match of the Day - Martin Keown and Matthew Upson both feel it's a tough time of year for players and managers.

MotD: The fixtures are relentless - Matthew Upson

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If Coutinho wants to go let him, someone who doesn’t want to play for Liverpool doesn’t deserve the red shirt. BUT only if the money is right, in this market £140m minimum with at least the van dijk money (£75m) upfront. Not being messed around by Barca and a dozen instalments. They announced on social media they had coutinho without making a bid. If that’s not tapping up then what is?

Ryan, St. Helens

Pep not happy with festive fixture list

Man City 3-1 Watford

Man City beat Watford to make it ten points from twelve over the Christmas period.

Is Pep Guardiola happy then? Well not entirely. He's had some pretty strong things to say about the fixture list.

"I know here in England the show must go on, but that's not normal guys," Guardiola told BBC Sport.

"We're going to kill the players.

"They play 11 months in a row. They have to protect them and play with quality and not quality. We have to think about the artists," he said after the Watford game.

"I know it is not going to change but for what? Life would survive without playing every two days. Nothing would happen."

To be fair to Guardiola, Kyle Walker was holding his groin at the end of the Watford game and he's already lost Gabriel Jesus to injury.

Pep Guardiola
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Does Pep have a point? Should there be fewer games over Christmas? Maybe even a winter break? Let us know on #bbcfootball or text 81111 (UK only)

Wednesday's back pages

Daily Mail

The Daily Mail

The Daily Mail go with transfer news, but their story is about Manchester United.

Apparently the club aren't happy with Jose Mourinho's complaints over spending....

Daily Mail back page
Daily Mail

Wednesday's back pages

Daily Express

The Daily Express

The Express also claim Coutinho's days at Anfield are numbered......

Daily Express

Wednesday's back pages

The Times

The Times

Phillippe Coutinho believes he's played his last game for Liverpool according to The Times.....

Times backpage
The Times

What do you think Liverpool fans - will you see Coutinho in a red shirt again?

Wednesday's back pages

Daily Mirror

Daily Mirror

The Mirror go big on Phillippe Coutinho's future and claim Barcelona are confident they'll sign the Liverpool playmaker this month....

Daily Mirror Backpage
Daily Mirror

Good morning - we'll be reacting to wins for Man City, Tottenham, Crystal Palace and West Ham.

We want your thoughts on the possibility of a winter break following Pep Guardiola's claim the current fixture schedule will "kill" players and we'll take a look at the latest transfer gossip.

As always you can get involved via #bbcfootball or text 81111 (UK only).

So let's start with today's back pages, where one man and his future dominates.....