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Premier League: Here's why you should still be excited about the second half of the season

Despite the title race being all but over, there are still plenty of stories to be written in the remainder of this Premier League campaign - and Sportsmail takes you through all the reasons to remain excited in 2022. Cristiano Ronaldo (left) and Manchester United are struggling to qualify for the Champions League, Arsenal and Tottenham (inset, bottom) are also in a top-four battle and will the big bucks of Newcastle (main) save them from relegation - and could Everton (inset, bottom-right) be dragged into the battle to avoid the drop?

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Emma Raducanu: Sloane Stephens warns Brit she has 'a lot to learn' despite Australian Open

Sloane Stephens has warned Emma Raducanu that she has 'a lot to learn' despite her impressive victory in their Australian Open first-round clash. Raducanu got the better of Stephens, the 2017 US Open champion, in three sets on Tuesday having only required 17 minutes to wrap up the first. After being broken three times on her own serve in a frustrating second, the 19-year-old quickly regained momentum to dominate the third and record a 6-0, 2-6, 6-1 win. Yet in her post-match press conference, Stephens appeared to question Raducanu's on-court behaviour, before telling the youngster she must be prepared for plenty of 'ups and downs' in the sport.

The Gunners were subject to scathing criticism after their request to push back the highly-anticipated clash was accepted - despite having only one Covid case in their squad at the time.

Click through today in pictures
Elliott returns from serious ankle injury with a bang
  • Elliott
    Elliott
  • Ziyech
    Ziyech
  • City
    City

The January window is now open for business in the Premier League and around Europe, with clubs looking to add to their squads as we go into the second half of the campaign.

Juventus boss Massimiliano Allegri confirmed earlier this month the Wales international is surplus to requirements, having described him as 'an outgoing player'.

Striker Aubameyang did not get to kick a ball at the Africa Cup of Nations, having contracted Covid and then missed out on selection after suffering 'cardiac lesions'.

The club legend worked at Anfield from 1965 to 2000, and oversaw a stretch which saw the team win a total of 29 trophies. Liverpool have paid tribute to him in a heartfelt statement.

Everton: Would Wayne Rooney, Frank Lampard, Niko Kovac or Roberto Martinez be best as next

Everton are working to a four man shortlist as they aim to recruit a manager who can save their season. Duncan Ferguson has taken caretaker charge as he did back in 2019 with Wayne Rooney (left), Frank Lampard (second left), Niko Kovac (right) and Roberto Martinez (right) the principal names in the frame to be the next permanent manager. But how do this quartet measure up? Sportsmail assesses them in several key areas as the Toffees look to make the right choice.

Boxing: Tyson Fury is in talks to stage a undisputed clash against Oleksandr Usyk in the

Tyson Fury (left) is in negotiations over a stunning undisputed clash against Oleksandr Usyk in the Middle East, according to his promoter Bob Arum. The Gypsy King was preparing to face Dillian Whyte (inset) in a mandatory defence of his WBC belt this Spring, but Arum has revealed the 'total chaos' of an offer to crown the first undisputed champion since Lennox Lewis in 1999. The sensational development could see both Whyte and Anthony Joshua (right)` - who was set to rematch Usyk in April - step down to make the showdown happen.

Harry Maguire SLAMMED by Man United icon Jaap Stam

Manchester United legend Jaap Stam has slated Harry Maguire's speed and agility after being asked to compare the England's international's defensive abilities to Wes Brown. Stam featured 127 times for Manchester United and helped the Red Devils win six trophies, including three Premier League's and the Champions League title. He played alongside Brown and said that his former team-mate was better than Maguire defensively as he was able to defend 1v1's over greater distances. Stam also said that United should look internally at their recruitment system after forking out £80million on a defender that has failed to impress at the club.

What Manchester United must do to earn a much-needed victory against Brentford

Manchester United were a mess when Ralf Rangnick took charge after Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's sacking, but even he would not have expected his reign to have taken a turn for the worse so quickly. It has been obstacle after obstacle so far. Indeed, as it stands, they will be fortunate to be playing Europa League football next season, a prospect certain to further stoke the anger spreading quickly across the fanbase. The race is far from over, of course, but improvement is needed - and fast. That can start tonight against Brentford. Thomas Frank's side have caused quite the stir this season, and look set to avoid dropping down into the Championship. Their home ground is a difficult place to go - United's top four rivals can attest to that. Here, Sportsmail looks at what United must do to ensure they avoid another slip-up - including sharpening up their passing, sticking with their 4-3-3 formation and targeting the wide areas.

Liverpool assistant Pep Lijnders heaps praise on Harvey Elliott as he reveals the teenager is set to reprise a key role in Klopp's midfield as he returns from a serious ankle injury with a bang

The 18-year-old dislocated his ankle during Liverpool's 3-0 win over Leeds back in September, just as he was starting to nail down a regular spot in Jurgen Klopp's side. And while many expected Elliott to be out for most of the campaign, the midfielder is now back sooner than expected and is already turning heads in training. Lijnders is certainly one of them and Klopp's No 2 has revealed the dedicated youngster, who was seen smashing in goals and sharing a joke with Virgil Van Dijk in training, is set to reprise that important role in the heart of Liverpool's midfield once he's back to full fitness.

Spanish journalist Gerard Romero claims the ex-Rangers boss has now held talks with Uruguay striker Suarez over a move to Villa Park following an approach for the Atletico Madrid star.

Cristiano Ronaldo 'will LEAVE Man United if they fail to qualify for the Champions League'

Ronaldo, 36, sealed a sensational return to United last summer, emboldening hopes that the Red Devils could win their first title in the post-Sir Alex Ferguson era under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer. However, United have endured a tumultuous campaign and sit in seventh spot in the Premier League, with performances failing to encourage fans that they can close the gap to West Ham in fourth.

Lewis Hamilton's F1 career STILL hangs in the balance after meeting of FIA and F1 chiefs

JONATHAN McEVOY: Lewis Hamilton's (centre) future was unresolved on Tuesday night as conflicting views continue to swirl over the fate of race director Michael Masi (left), who oversaw the controversial last lap of the 2021 decider (won by Max Verstappen, inset). The dramatic Abu Dhabi race - and undoubtedly Masi's survival - was discussed in a one-hour meeting on Tuesday between Mohammed Ben Sulayem (top right), the new president of motor racing's governing FIA, the body investigating the furore, and Formula One chief executive Stefano Domenicali (bottom right).

Newcastle are weighing up a sensational swoop for Mario Balotelli from Adana Demirspor

Balotelli, formerly of Manchester City and Liverpool, is currently plying his trade with Adana Demirspor in Turkey, but has now emerged as a Magpies transfer target. That is according to the president of the club, who has also claimed that there has been no official offer, however, despite the interest from Eddie Howe's side. Sancak has also confirmed that an official offer from Saudi Arabia was lodged for the hot-headed striker, but that was rebuffed. Balotelli joined the Super Lig outfit last summer in another surprising twist in his career, but is enjoying superb form this season and leading their push for Europe.

We should have known this Ashes tour would all end with England supping in the last-chance saloon. The only difference is that one of their own coaches took the pictures that made their shame public.

Sportsmail revealed earlier this month that the ex-England bowling coach was the frontrunner to replace Andrew Gale, who was sacked following the Azeem Rafiq racism row.

Romelu Lukaku and Hakim Ziyech have a VERY heated discussion at half time of Chelsea's draw at Brighton after winger refused to celebrate his goal... but boss Tuchel plays down the 'normal' spat

Chelsea stars Hakim Ziyech and Romelu Lukaku were seen having a very tense conversation as they left the field at half time during their 1-1 draw at Brighton - although Thomas Tuchel played it down as 'normal'. The Blues dropped points yet again as they drew a blank for the eighth time this season in another hammer blow for their title chances - with Adam Webster's header ensuring Graham Potter's men left with a point. Earlier, Ziyech's angled strike had put Tuchel's men ahead - though the Moroccan winger didn't even celebrate the opener. And his moody attitude continued after speaking with Lukaku when Chelsea walked to the tunnel at the interval. 

REVEALED: Police were called to Hobart hotel because Graham Thorpe smoked a cigar INDOORS - with England coach set to be AXED after Ashes booze shame, when he bizarrely filmed Joe Root and Co in the aftermath at 6am 

Graham Thorpe's position as England assistant coach looks untenable after police were called to the team hotel in Hobart because he was smoking a cigar inside the premises during a drinking session that lasted until 6am. The ECB launched an investigation after footage taken by Thorpe of Tasmanian police telling five Ashes stars - including Joe Root and Jimmy Anderson - to go to bed following a complaint about 'intoxicated people' ended up on the Sydney Morning Herald website.

'It doesn't sit well': Joe Cole criticises Hakim Ziyech's unenthusiastic celebration in 1-1 draw at Brighton as Glenn Murray suggests muted reaction affected Chelsea's attitude

Joe Cole could not understand Hakim Ziyech's non-celebration after scoring the opening goal of Chelsea's 1-1 draw at Brighton. Ziyech was one of the players most widely criticised following Saturday's defeat at Manchester City and the Moroccan, who was making only his eighth league start of the season, had a point to prove at the Amex Stadium. He gave the visitors the lead against the run of play with a speculative shot from outside the area but barely reacted after hitting the net despite being mobbed by his team-mates.

New Zealand's limited-overs tour of Australia has been postponed indefinitely due to uncertainty over when the visitors would be able to return home due to COVID-19 protocols.

KATE CROSS: This is a big tour in so many ways because not only are we trying to win the Ashes for the first time since 2014 but we then go straight to New Zealand for our defence of the World Cup.

The only former champion left in the men's draw at Melbourne Park, Nadal is tied on 20 majors with Swiss Roger Federer and world number one Novak Djokovic, who are both absent from Melbourne.

Ralf Rangnick says Jadon Sancho is 'struggling to come to terms with the pressure of big

Jadon Sancho is struggling under the pressure of his £73million move to Manchester United from Borussia Dortmund, claims interim manager Ralf Rangnick. Rangnick has spoken to Sancho after the England winger was left on the bench at Aston Villa last weekend in favour of teenager Anthony Elanga.

SIR CLIVE WOODWARD: I'm envious, this is the best England squad since we won World Cup

SIR CLIVE WOODWARD: You can always quibble about one or two of England's squad selections but overall, this is our most talented group of players since the class of 2003. For the first time since England and I parted company, I must confess to being a little bit envious. If England get it right they won't just be getting the Twickenham faithful on their feet going nuts but the whole rugby world will be on their feet, too.

TREVOR BAYLISS: Andrew Strauss is the PERFECT man to save English cricket

The commitment to change has to be widespread, across the whole game. Let’s take what happened to white-ball cricket after the World Cup of 2015 as an example of what can be achieved. Something desperately needed to change and England’s commitment to improving after years of under- achievement led to winning the World Cup of 2019 and formidable 50 over and T20 international sides. The architect of that change, of course, was Andrew Strauss (left, with Bayliss) as then team director. I believe he would be the perfect man to do the same for England’s red-ball game now, if his personal situation is such that he can devote the time to it. Pictured top right: England managing director Ashley Giles. Pictured bottom right: England head coach Chris Silverwood.

Poll

Who was the best Premier League signing of 2021?

  • Cristiano Ronaldo 16106 votes
  • Takehiro Tomiyasu 4346 votes
  • Conor Gallagher 9482 votes
  • Demarai Gray 2523 votes
  • Emmanuel Dennis 2282 votes
  • Hwang Hee-chan 1191 votes
  • Aaron Ramsdale 15758 votes

Now share your opinion

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Winter Olympics 2022: 10 reasons to watch Beijing Games

NEW Just six months on and the Olympics show is back on the road with its winter edition.  It's rare for two Games to be so close together as the hotter climes of Tokyo have been replaced by Beijing's cold temperatures and makeshift snow.  China's £2.5billion event is coming into view and although rising Covid cases continue to threaten the much-anticipated Games, the final touches are being made. Here, Sportsmail takes a look at the reasons why fans should be excited about February's instalment.

Sportsmail's racing expert Robin Goodfellow dishes out his tips for Wednesday's meetings at Newbury, Plumpton and Southwell.

Twiston-Davies says he is not worried that Bristol De Mai has been pulled up on his last two starts ahead of the 11-year-old lining up in Sunday's inaugural £150,000 Fleur De Lys Chase at Lingfield.

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