Declan Rice and the curious case of Callum Hudson-Odoi
Natalie Sawyer and Gab Marcotti are joined by Bill Edgar and George Caulkin to discuss the start of the Euro 2020 qualifiers. England face the Czech Republic on Friday night as they get their campaign underway, but where does newly qualified Declan Rice fit into Gareth Southgate's setup? What will Southgate's setup be? And how did Callum Hudson-Odoi get into the squad despite not starting a league match ever? As we grapple with those questions, Newcastle constantly grapple with Rafa Benitez, but how did Rafa get his latest bout of RSI? It's more entertaining than it sounds, promise! Plus discuss Messi and Ronaldo, just how do they keep on going after 30 when everyone else couldn't? And as ever on a Thursday, we have Bill Edgar's teaser
Will 48 teams dilute the quality of the World Cup?
Natalie Sawyer and Gab Marcotti are joined by Alyson Rudd and Paul Hirst to dissect club football before the last international break of the season. Wolves knock out Manchester United to progress to the FA Cup semi-finals. How does Nuno do it? Can we call it a shock? Do United need this break more than anyone? And have neighbours City been getting the luck of the draw this season? Liverpool are back on top of the Premier League. Did the win at Fulham show that the Reds are nervous or that they have nerves of steel? We debate whether 48 teams is right for the World Cup. And if so, is it right for Qatar, a nation with a smaller population than East Anglia, who arguably needed a co-host to begin with? Plus Preston, Messi and a seething Siewert.
Mane among the elite & Dier on Brexit
With 4 English teams making it through to the last 8 of the Champions League, Gab Marcotti, Natalie Sawyer, James Gheerbrant and Oli Kay run the rule over the contenders for Europe’s top title. After Liverpool’s comfortable win in Munich, there’s praise for the maturity of the Reds as well as the Mane man who has kept them on track in the last few months. We can’t rule out Barca or Juve but could Man City become dependent on Phil Foden before they know it? We look ahead to a tantalising tie at Molineux as Manchester United come to town in the FA Cup quarter-finals. Can Wolves upset the big boys again and win their first FA Cup since 1960? And with Eric Dier tweeting out his view on the Brexit debate, we discuss the rarity that is footballers expressing a political opinion and the possible implications of that. Charlie Scott provides advice ahead of a depleted fantasy football weekend. For free Fantasy Premier League tips from The Sweeper, visit
How do we protect players from pitch invaders?
It’s been a weekend of incomprehensible refereeing decisions and inexcusable fan behaviour. Natalie Sawyer and Gab Marcotti are joined by Matt Dickinson and Alan Smith to analyse it all. After individual pitch invaders at Hibernian, Arsenal and most shockingly Birmingham where Aston Villa’s Jack Grealish is punched, the panel discuss what can be done to better ensure player safety, as well as the perils of punishing clubs for the actions of individuals. Arsenal beat Manchester United to leapfrog them into 4th place. What are the chances of Champions League qualification for the Gunners? And should more people be dissing David De Gea for his role in the first goal? It’s as you were in the title race. Would Champions League progression against Bayern be a good or bad thing for Liverpool’s hopes of winning the Premier League? And how important is Raheem Sterling to Manchester City? Plus Darren Moore, equal pay in the USA and after a bad weekend for the officials, who is the Huddersfield of referees?
Solskjaer’s smile and swagger as Real’s roof caves in
Following a monumental week in Europe, Gab Marcotti and Natalie Sawyer are joined by Henry Winter and Alan Smith to examine the fall-out from a shocking Tuesday and Wednesday. Manchester United overcome a two-goal deficit with the help of VAR on a famous night in Paris and are through to the last eight of the Champions League. There’s praise for Solskjaer, Smalling and Rashford (are English players good at penalties now?). But as for PSG, did they bottle it? Or are they the victims of karma? The holders Real Madrid were eliminated spectacularly by a young vibrant Ajax. Was Real’s downfall down to ageing and arrogance? Plus we discuss Gareth Bale’s struggles in front of the most demanding fans in the world. And in a landmark week for England’s women with victory in the SheBelieves Cup, Molly Hudson discusses the potential impact of Phil Neville’s first silverware as a manager in a World Cup year. Charlie Scott and Paddy von Behr provide advice ahead of the fantasy football weekend. For free Fantasy Premier League tips from The Sweeper, visit