By Tim Stannard
1) Premier League coaches crank up schedule complaints
If there is one thing that true-to-life, docu-drama, Netflix show ‘The Crown’ has taught us, it is the reminder that the late, great Winston Churchill pretty much led his professional life happily buzzed. And that’s no real surprise considering the future of the planet was in his in-box for many of those years as well as leading Britain out of a post-war funk.
The word ‘Churchillian’ does not refer to the alcoholic aspect of the former Prime Minister’s life, but the idea of showing a stiff upper-lip and some backbone. That would be useful for a number of Premier League managers, being squished under the pressure of playing more than once a week, despite having squads packed with international class footballers and complaining about performing for the television companies and supporters that pay their ridiculous wages.
On Monday, an emotional Pep Guardiola was prickly with a reporter despite winning, whilst Jurgen Klopp admitted that he was unsure of what went on at all in Liverpool’s draw with Sunderland.
Some more managers are going to be put through the ringer on Tuesday as the Premier League continues the apparent football equivalent to “They Shoot Horses, Don’t They?” Arsenal top the bill in an away clash against Bournemouth. The disastrous Swansea City are Crystal Palace while Stoke City host Watford. Catch the best action on the XTRA at 7PM ET / 4PM PT.
2) Valencia in dumpster fire Copa clash against Celta
But make sure that the appetite is built up before then with some rather fine Copa del Rey action on the channel on Tuesday as Spanish football yawns, poots and gets back into gear after the winter break. The absolute basket-case of a club, Valencia, are hosting Celta Vigo in a first-leg, last-16 clash having just had their latest manager quit on them over Christmas.
That is followed by Atletico Madrid in a tricky away clash at Las Palmas. The action starts live from Mestalla on beIN SPORTS from 12:55PM ET / 10:55AM PT. With the best action of those matches and the day’s other games on the XTRA at 7PM ET / 4PM PT.
3) Zizou says James going nowhere as Ronaldo takes a break
Nothing like poking a bear to start the New Year with a lively tickle. That what some journalists did when asking Coach Zizou for the 156th time this season whether James was happy at the club and was going to leave. To be fair, it was completely justified on Tuesday, considering it was the Colombian himself who hinted before Christmas that the footballer didn’t know his future. "I have spoken with him and told him that I want him to be here at the best club in the world,” soothed Zidane.
Meanwhile, Madrid will be without Cristiano Ronaldo for Wednesday’s tasty Copa del Rey clash against Sevilla with the footballer being rested after a hard Christmas period spent promoting his various products and franchises. Pepe misses out through injury. That clash is live on beIN SPORTS from 3:15PM ET / 12:15PM PT.
4) PSG seal Draxler deal as Juve bring in Rincon
Transfer time! With the winter window now cranked wide open, PSG have formally announced the purchase of German attacking midfielder, Julian Draxler, who signs to 2021. Juve have also wrapped up a deal for former Genoa midfielder Tomas Rincon for around $8m.
Crystal Palace striker, Christian Benteke, has reportedly turned down the megabucks of the Chinese Super League after choosing to stay at Selhurst Park despite an offer from Beijing Guoan with a weekly salary of up to $200m.
Tune into the XTRA at 7PM ET / 4PM PT for the latest transfer gossip with its daily tracker.
5) Serena starts comeback with Auckland win
beIN SPORTS is currently Tennis City with four tournaments underway on CONNECT on the other side of the world. The big overnight result saw Serena Williams returning to action in 2017, her first game after a four month lay-off. And happily, for US fans, Serena won through in three sets.
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