Frank Lampard has been sacked as Chelsea head coach, the Blues have confirmed.

Widespread reports emerged on Monday that the Blues were set to dismiss Lampard after a run of two wins in eight Premier League games left them ninth, 11 points off the pace.

Confirmation soon followed, bringing to an end Lampard's 18-month reign back at the club where he remains the all-time record goalscorer, with former Paris Saint-Germain boss Thomas Tuchel expected to be appointed as his successor.

Chelsea statement did not comment on Tuchel's potential arrival but read: "This has been a very difficult decision, and not one that the owner and the board have taken lightly.

"We are grateful to Frank for what he has achieved in his time as head coach of the club. However, recent results and performances have not met the club's expectations, leaving the club mid-table without any clear path to sustained improvement.

"There can never be a good time to part ways with a club legend such as Frank, but after lengthy deliberation and consideration it was decided a change is needed now to give the club time to improve performances and results this season."

Owner Roman Abramovich added: "This was a very difficult decision for the club, not least because I have an excellent personal relationship with Frank and I have the utmost respect for him.

"He is a man of great integrity and has the highest of work ethics. However, under current circumstances we believe it is best to change managers.

"On behalf of everyone at the club, the board and personally, I would like to thank Frank for his work as head coach and wish him every success in the future.

"He is an important icon of this great club and his status here remains undiminished. He will always be warmly welcomed back at Stamford Bridge."

Lampard was unable to replicate the success of his playing career at Stamford Bridge, where he won 11 major trophies in 13 years.

This was his second senior coaching role, having fallen just short of promotion from the Championship with Derby County in 2018-19.

A return to Chelsea followed, with Lampard given the task of overseeing a period of transition as the club served a transfer ban while bringing through a number of players from their talented academy.

Mason Mount, Tammy Abraham and Reece James all established themselves as regulars as the Blues qualified for the Champions League last term and reached the FA Cup final.

Expectations were raised by significant expenditure in the close-season transfer window, with Timo Werner, Kai Havertz, Hakim Ziyech and Ben Chilwell among those arriving, and Chelsea initially thrived, climbing to the top of the table in December 2020.

But the 2020-21 campaign has since gone on a downward spiral, their poor run of form including defeats to Everton, Wolves, Arsenal, Manchester City and Leicester City.

The latter three reverses were especially humbling, handing struggling Arsenal a much-needed win before being completely outplayed by City. Leicester - title contenders unlike Chelsea - were comfortable in Lampard's final league game in charge on Tuesday.

Lampard's tenure ended with a 3-1 victory against Luton Town in the FA Cup in which Abraham scored a hat-trick, although Werner's struggles continued with a penalty miss.

Werner and Havertz have failed to perform consistently following their big-money moves from the Bundesliga.

They will hope to be boosted by the apparently imminent appointment of fellow German Tuchel, who won two Ligue 1 titles and made the Champions League final with PSG.

Frank Lampard has been sacked as Chelsea head coach, the Blues have confirmed.

Widespread reports emerged on Monday that the Blues were set to dismiss Lampard after a run of two wins in eight Premier League games left them ninth, 11 points off the pace.

Confirmation soon followed, bringing to an end Lampard's 18-month reign back at the club where he remains the all-time record goalscorer, with former Paris Saint-Germain boss Thomas Tuchel expected to be appointed as his successor.

Mesut Ozil has completed a move to Fenerbahce after negotiating his departure from Arsenal.

World Cup winner Ozil, once Arsenal's record signing, had been excluded from Mikel Arteta's first-team plans this season and departs after seven and a half years with the Premier League club.

The former Germany midfielder was under contract until the end of the current campaign but reached an agreement for an early termination, clearing him to sign elsewhere.

Fener have now confirmed the arrival of Ozil, with Arsenal announcing the playmaker's departure on their official website.

In a statement in the Gunners' announcement, Ozil said: "I'd like to thank the club for this amazing journey over the past seven-and-a-half years.

"The support I have felt from the team and fans during my time here has been truly incredible and something I will always be grateful for.

"Together we won trophies for the first time in years and created memories that will last a lifetime.

"The Arsenal fans will forever remain in my heart. I'd like to thank Edu Gaspar for helping bring about a professional and dignified solution in the past few days, and I wish everyone at the club the best in their attempt to continue to bring Arsenal back to the top, where we belong."

Having joined from Real Madrid in September 2013, Ozil made 184 Premier League appearances for Arsenal, scoring 33 goals and contributing 54 assists.

He was a key part of Arsene Wenger's squad that finished second in the 2015-16 Premier League season, while he also started in the FA Cup final triumphs in 2014, 2015 and 2017.

However, the 32-year-old had increasingly become a peripheral figure in recent years, initially under former Gunners boss Unai Emery before being left out entirely by Arteta. 

His final Arsenal appearance came on March 3, 2020, when he played 89 minutes in a 1-0 win over West Ham at Emirates Stadium.

Although he was twice named on the bench when the 2019-20 season resumed after the coronavirus-enforced break, the 32-year-old was an unused substitute against both Brighton and Hove Albion and Southampton in June.

"Mesut's achievements at Arsenal are undisputed," Arteta said. "It was a privilege to play alongside him and, more recently, coach him.

"His creativity and vision led to many goals during his time in the Arsenal shirt. Mesut was at the heart of many great moments for this club over the years, including those three FA Cup final wins.

"These successes will always be part of our history. We thank Mesut and wish him all the best with Fenerbahce."

Mesut Ozil has completed a move to Fenerbahce after negotiating his departure from Arsenal.

World Cup winner Ozil, once Arsenal's record signing, had been excluded from Mikel Arteta's first-team plans this season and departs after seven and a half years with the Premier League club.

The former Germany midfielder was under contract until the end of the current campaign but reached an agreement for an early termination, clearing him to sign elsewhere.

Fener have now confirmed the arrival of Ozil, with Arsenal announcing the playmaker's departure on their official website.

In a statement in the Gunners' announcement, Ozil said: "I'd like to thank the club for this amazing journey over the past seven-and-a-half years.

"The support I have felt from the team and fans during my time here has been truly incredible and something I will always be grateful for.

"Together we won trophies for the first time in years and created memories that will last a lifetime.

"The Arsenal fans will forever remain in my heart. I'd like to thank Edu Gaspar for helping bring about a professional and dignified solution in the past few days, and I wish everyone at the club the best in their attempt to continue to bring Arsenal back to the top, where we belong."

Having joined from Real Madrid in September 2013, Ozil made 184 Premier League appearances for Arsenal, scoring 33 goals and contributing 54 assists.

He was a key part of Arsene Wenger's squad that finished second in the 2015-16 Premier League season, while he also started in the FA Cup final triumphs in 2014, 2015 and 2017.

However, the 32-year-old had increasingly become a peripheral figure in recent years, initially under former Gunners boss Unai Emery before being left out entirely by Arteta. 

His final Arsenal appearance came on March 3, 2020, when he played 89 minutes in a 1-0 win over West Ham at Emirates Stadium.

Although he was twice named on the bench when the 2019-20 season resumed after the coronavirus-enforced break, the 32-year-old was an unused substitute against both Brighton and Hove Albion and Southampton in June.

"Mesut's achievements at Arsenal are undisputed," Arteta said. "It was a privilege to play alongside him and, more recently, coach him.

"His creativity and vision led to many goals during his time in the Arsenal shirt. Mesut was at the heart of many great moments for this club over the years, including those three FA Cup final wins.

"These successes will always be part of our history. We thank Mesut and wish him all the best with Fenerbahce."

Manchester City will be without influential midfielder Kevin De Bruyne for between four to six weeks, manager Pep Guardiola has confirmed.

James Harden has completed a blockbuster trade from the Houston Rockets to the Brooklyn Nets, it has been confirmed.

Widespread reports on Wednesday revealed Harden's eight-and-a-half-year stay in Houston was set to end, with the Nets agreeing a monster deal.

The Philadelphia 76ers had also been mooted as potential suitors, but Brooklyn's offer saw the Rockets receive Caris LeVert, Rodions Kurucs, three first-round draft picks (2022, 2024 and 2026) and four first-round pick swaps (2021, 2023, 2025 and 2027).

In a three-way move, Jarrett Allen and Taurean Prince were sent to the Cleveland, who put in Dante Exum and a further first-round draft pick (2022 via Milwaukee) for Houston as well as a second-round draft pick (2024) for the Nets.

The Rockets are expected to swiftly move LeVert and a second-round pick on to the Indiana Pacers for Victor Oladipo, although that switch was not initially confirmed alongside the Harden deal on Thursday.

Harden had been keen on a move prior to the start of the 2020-21 season and has now got his wish, linking up with Kevin Durant - his former Oklahoma City Thunder team-mate - and Kyrie Irving.

Brooklyn general manager Sean Marks said: "Adding an All-NBA player such as James to our roster better positions our team to compete against the league's best.

"James is one of the most prolific scorers and playmakers in our game, and we are thrilled to bring his special talents to Brooklyn.

"While we are excited to welcome James and his family to the Nets, we also want to thank the players who are departing.

"Caris, Jarrett, Rodions and Taurean were instrumental to the team's success and have made an enormous impact on our organisation.

"It has been a pleasure watching them grow both as players and as people and they will always be part of our Nets family. We wish each of them and their families all the best in the future."

Although trade talks were said to be ongoing for some time, speculation ramped up in the hours after Houston's defeat to the Los Angeles Lakers on Tuesday.

An out-of-sorts Harden put up just 16 points in 31 minutes in the 117-100 defeat and later stormed out of a post-game news conference after saying: "I literally have done everything that I can."

Those comments prompted a backlash from team-mates John Wall and DeMarcus Cousins, who both signed in the offseason as Houston once again rebuilt.

The Rockets failed to win a championship during Harden's time despite reaching the Western Conference Finals in both 2014-15 and 2017-18, with their star guard the league's MVP in the latter season.

Harden averaged 29.6 points per game in the regular season during his time with Houston, although that dropped slightly to 28.4 in the playoffs.

His return of 24.8 points through eight games this year was his worst average over a season for the Rockets.

James Harden has completed a blockbuster trade from the Houston Rockets to the Brooklyn Nets, it has been confirmed.

Manchester United will host bitter rivals and Premier League champions Liverpool in the fourth round of the FA Cup.

United edged past Championship side Watford in the third round as the Reds cruised past a much-changed Aston Villa, who had to field a squad made up entirely of youth players amid a coronavirus outbreak.

While Liverpool have re-established themselves as the standard-bearers in the Premier League in recent years, they are looking to end a lengthy drought in the FA Cup.

The Reds have not won the competition since 2005-06 when they beat West Ham on penalties, with their most-recent final appearance in 2012 a 2-1 defeat to Chelsea.

If they are to finally end that wait, they will have to get one over their old nemesis in United, who this season appear to be rising to the challenge set by Liverpool in the Premier League.

United last won the FA Cup in 2015-16 and were beaten by Chelsea in the showpiece two years later – only Arsenal (14) have won the competition more than the Red Devils (12).

Whoever progresses will face either non-league side Stockport County, West Ham or Doncaster Rovers in the fifth round.

Another of the favourites, Manchester City, will expect to cruise through the next couple of rounds given they go to League Two's Cheltenham Town first and then face Swansea City or Nottingham Forest if they avoid a fourth-round shock.

The lowest-ranked side in the draw, sixth-tier Chorley Town, host Wolves, while Tottenham go to Wycombe Wanderers and Chelsea welcome Luton Town to Stamford Bridge.

 

FA Cup fourth-round draw in full:

Cheltenham Town v Manchester City

Bournemouth v Crawley Town

Swansea City v Nottingham Forest

Manchester United v Liverpool

Southampton/Shrewsbury Town v Arsenal

Barnsley v Norwich City

Chorley Town v Wolves

Millwall v Bristol City

Brighton and Hove Albion v Blackpool

Wycombe Wanderers v Tottenham

Fulham v Burnley

Sheffield United v Plymouth Argyle

Chelsea v Luton Town

Stockport County/West Ham v Doncaster Rovers

Brentford v Leicester City

Everton v Sheffield Wednesday

Full FA Cup fifth-round draw:

Fulham/Burnley v Bournemouth/Crawley Town

Manchester United/Liverpool v Stockport County/West Ham or Doncaster

Barnsley/Norwich City v Chelsea/Luton Town

Everton/Sheffield Wednesday v Wycombe Wanderers/Tottenham

Swansea City/Nottingham Forest v Cheltenham Town/Manchester City

Brentford/Leicester City v Brighton and Hove Albion/Blackpool

 

FA Cup fifth-round draw in full:

Fulham/Burnley v Bournemouth/Crawley Town

Manchester United/Liverpool v Stockport County/West Ham or Doncaster

Barnsley/Norwich City v Chelsea/Luton Town

Everton/Sheffield Wednesday v Wycombe Wanderers/Tottenham

Swansea City/Nottingham Forest v Cheltenham Town/Manchester City

Brentford/Leicester City v Brighton and Hove Albion/Blackpool

Sheffield United or Plymouth Argyle v Millwall or Bristol City

Chorley or Wolves v Southampton or Shrewsbury Town or Arsenal
 

Manchester United will host bitter rivals and Premier League champions Liverpool in the fourth round of the FA Cup.

Paris Saint-Germain have appointed Mauricio Pochettino as their new head coach.

The former Tottenham boss has signed a contract until June 2022, with the option for a further year, with the Ligue 1 champions. He will replace Thomas Tuchel, whose dismissal was finally confirmed on Tuesday after days of speculation.

The German was sacked after an inconsistent start to the 2020-21 season despite having guided PSG to their first Champions League final in August, where they lost 1-0 to Bayern Munich.

Defeats in this season's group stage to Manchester United and RB Leipzig had put Tuchel under pressure, although he was able to lead his side into the last 16 after winning their final three games.

However, there were suggestions PSG's hierarchy had concerns about Tuchel's ability to guide his team past Barcelona in the knockout phase.

Four defeats in 17 Ligue 1 matches, leaving PSG a point behind leaders Lyon, also counted against Tuchel, while a public spat with sporting director Leonardo over transfers appeared to weaken his position further.

Pochettino, previously linked with the Real Madrid and Manchester United jobs, was sacked by Spurs in November last year after five impressive years in charge in north London.

Although he failed to win a trophy, the former Espanyol and Southampton boss turned Spurs into regular top-four contenders and Premier League title hopefuls, while he took them to the Champions League final in 2019, where they lost to Liverpool.

After taking charge in 2014, Pochettino led Spurs to four top-four finishes in five full seasons, twice the number they managed in their previous 22 Premier League campaigns.

He reached 100 wins in the competition in 197 games, the sixth quickest in history alongside Liverpool great Kenny Dalglish.

However, Spurs' domestic form suffered badly in 2019 as they tallied 18 defeats in all competitions from January 1 to November 19, when Pochettino was dismissed.

Pochettino has won admirers throughout his coaching career for getting his teams to adopt high-pressing and attacking football, qualities which have become demands of PSG president Nasser Al-Khelaifi in recent seasons.

When Tuchel was appointed in 2018, Al-Khelaifi said: "He abides by very strong principles of playing spectacular and clinical football that has always been the foundation of German football, especially on the international scene.

"His competitive spirit, his preference for attacking football and his strong character are in line with what we have always wanted for PSG - this style that our loyal supporters have always demanded and admired."

Paris Saint-Germain have appointed Mauricio Pochettino as their new head coach.

 

Manchester United striker Edinson Cavani has been suspended for three games by the Football Association following a social media post where he used language that has been ruled racially insensitive.

Cavani posted a message in response to an Instagram story from a friend after United's 3-2 win over Southampton on November 29, in which he scored twice.

Uruguay international Cavani used a Spanish phrase in the post, which was later deleted after he was told of its potential to cause offence.

The Football Association (FA) charged the 33-year-old with bringing the game into disrepute earlier this month and on Thursday announced he must serve a suspension following an investigation.

He has also been fined £100,000 and must complete face-to-face education, the FA said.

An FA statement read: "A comment posted on the Manchester United striker's Instagram page was insulting, abusive, improper and brought the game into disrepute contrary to FA rule E3.1.

"The post also constitutes an 'aggravated breach', which is defined in FA rule E3.2, as it included reference, whether express or implied, to colour and/or race and/or ethnic origin.

"An independent regulatory commission was appointed to decide the sanction and its written reasons will be published in due course."

Cavani will miss United's Premier League clash with Aston Villa on Friday, as well as the EFL Cup semi-final against Manchester City and FA Cup third-round tie against Watford.

United said the striker would not contest the charge but stressed there was no "racist intent" behind his comment.

The club said in a statement: "As he has stated, Edinson Cavani wasn't aware that his words could have been misconstrued and he sincerely apologised for the post and to anyone who was offended.

"Despite his honest belief that he was simply sending an affectionate thank you in response to a congratulatory message from a close friend, he chose not to contest the charge, out of respect for, and solidarity with, the FA and the fight against racism in football.

"While it is clear that context and intent are key factors, we note that the independent regulatory commission was required to impose a minimum three-game suspension.

"The club trusts that the independent regulatory commission will make it clear in its written reasons that Edinson Cavani is not a racist, nor was there any racist intent in relation to his post."

The former Paris Saint-Germain striker has scored four goals in 14 appearances across all competitions since he joined United on a free transfer in October.

Manchester United striker Edinson Cavani has been suspended for three games by the Football Association following a social media post where he used language that has been deemed racially insensitive.

Tottenham's clash with Fulham on Wednesday has been postponed due to a number of positive coronavirus cases in the visitors' camp - but the Premier League insist there is no reason to pause the season.

The match, scheduled to kick off at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium at 18:00 GMT, is the third Premier League game this month to be called off due to COVID-19 - and the second this week.

Fulham reported a significant rise in positive tests on Tuesday and, with several players showing symptoms on the day of the game, requested that the London derby be rearranged to a later date.

The decision to officially postpone the match was made by the Premier League less than three hours before it was due to get under way.

"Fulham FC's match at Tottenham Hotspur, due to be played at 6pm this evening, has been postponed following a Premier League Board meeting this afternoon," a statement read.

"Fulham lodged a request with the Premier League Board to rearrange the fixture following a significant rise in positive COVID-19 cases, as well as a number of players showing symptoms today.

"The Premier League Board has consulted its medical advisors and the decision to postpone the game has been taken as a precaution and with the health of players and staff as the priority. The group will now be retested immediately."

Manchester City's trip to Everton on Monday was called off four hours before kick-off after a number of City staff members and players returned positive tests. The meeting between Aston Villa and Newcastle United at the start of December also had to be rescheduled.

The latest postponement comes a day after the Premier League revealed 18 new positive COVID-19 cases among players and staff - the highest weekly total since the pandemic took hold.

However, despite calls from managers such as West Brom boss Sam Allardyce for a "circuit break" - a two-week pause from all football - the Premier League "has full confidence" fixtures can still go ahead as planned.

"With low numbers of positive tests across the overwhelming majority of clubs, the Premier League continues to have full confidence in its COVID-19 protocols and being able to continue to play our fixtures as scheduled," the statement added.

"The League wishes those with COVID-19 a safe and speedy recovery and will rearrange the postponed fixture between Tottenham Hotspur and Fulham in due course."

Shortly before the official announcement was made, Spurs boss Jose Mourinho took to social media to air his frustration at the lack of updates from league officials.

"Match at 6pm... We still don't know if we play. Best league in the world," he posted on Instagram.

Tottenham, who now face a possible fixture backlog in the coming weeks, said in a statement: "The Premier League informed us of the decision this afternoon, with Fulham having requested the postponement on the grounds of the number of COVID-19 positive cases among their players and staff.

"Everyone at Tottenham Hotspur sends their best wishes to Fulham for a safe and speedy recovery to all those who are affected. Details of a new date for the fixture will be confirmed in due course."

Fulham were without boss Scott Parker for their goalless draw with Southampton on Boxing Day after someone in his household tested positive for COVID-19.

The west London outfit confirmed their players and staff members to have returned positive tests are now quarantining.

"Those players and staff who tested positive have been self-isolating in line with UK Government and Premier League guidance," a statement on their official website read.

"We wish the players and staff who tested positive a safe and speedy recovery."

Tottenham's clash with Fulham on Wednesday has been postponed due to a number of positive coronavirus cases in the visitors' camp - but the Premier League insist there is no reason to pause the season.

The match, scheduled to kick off at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium at 18:00 GMT, is the third Premier League game this month to be called off due to COVID-19 - and the second this week.

Fulham reported a significant rise in positive tests on Tuesday and, with several players showing symptoms on the day of the game, requested that the London derby be rearranged to a later date.

The decision to officially postpone the match was made by the Premier League less than three hours before it was due to get under way.

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