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Sports news, sport betting, featuring football and Premier League teams, players from Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool and Manchester United. And David Beckham. Rugby World Cup. Backpage stories from the newspapers and BBC sport

Arsenal balls: Manchester United park the bus and Chelsea never lose

Arsenal are on the up. With four wins and one draw from their past five games, and with just one goal conceded in that period, Arsene Wenger’s team have recovered from their early season defeats to Stoke (in which they were unlucky and robbed by poor refereeing) and Liverpool (where they got the thrashing their abject performance deserved). It also behoves a mention to note that following Arsenal’s 2-0 win over a spark West Bromwich Albion, the Gunners have won eight consecutive home games in the Premier League.

But in the Sun, the forecast at The Emirates remains grim. Therein they are “FALTERING Arsenal”. You “could not disguise just how far the Gunners are falling behind their major rivals. While City, United and Chelsea are brushing opponents aside with contemptuous ease, Arsene Wenger’s team are labouring to see off even the most unambitious of rivals.”


Arsenal table

Arsenal “far behind” at one point away from third sport


Arsenal drew 0-0 at Chelsea in a game they could well have won, hitting the post and missing an open goal from inside six yards. And that’s the same Chelsea who lost at home to the mighty Burnley. Manchester City were flukey away to Bournemouth, scoring a very late goal courtesy of Raheem Sterling’s boot and a massive deflection, and drew 1-1 with Everton. Manchester United have drawn 2-2 with Stoke, and last weekend beat Southampton 0-1. Of that match the Sun’s sister paper, the Times, called United’s performance “strangely lethargic”. Adding:

Given the lead by Lukaku, United went into abject retreat in the second half when Southampton had the bulk of possession and most of the chances. At the final whistle, United had six defenders on the pitch, while the home side brought on two attackers, a fair reflection of the balance of power.

Manchester United parked the bus. So much for “brushing aside opponents with contemptuous ease”. United and City have yet to play any of their title rivals.

And what of West Bromwich Albion being unambitious? The Evening Standard reports:

Pulis had employed a more ambitious West Brom lineup than might have been expected, with Hal Robson-Kanu and Rodriguez making for a mobile, high-pressing front two.

It’s hardly perfect at Arsenal, but to ignore the facts and stick to a bogus narrative is poor reporting.

Such are the facts.

Posted: 26th, September 2017 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, Chelsea, Manchester City, manchester united, News, Tabloids | Comment | Comments RSS feed:RSS 2.0

Bias balls: Arenal mistime a tackle as West Bromwich Albion howl for a penalty

Media bias: a look at biased football reporting. Last night Arsenal beat West Bromwich Albion 2-0 in the Premier League. Tired at 0-0, Arsenal Shkodran Mustafi appeared to bring down West Brom’s Jay Rodriguez with a sliding challenge in the box. No penalty was given. Rodriguez got back to his feet and curled a shot at goal, hich Petr Cech did well to save, pushing the ball onto a post. What do the clubs say:

Arsenal official website:

…we survived two huge let offs along the way. Petr Cech made a excellent fingertip save and Nacho Monreal cleared off the line – both from Jay Rodriguez – during an eventful first half.

Is the penalty appeal mentioned at all?

Shkodran Mustafi mistimed his tackle on Rodriguez inside the area, but rather than give the penalty, the referee allowed play on…

Not  foul, then. It was a “mistimed tackle”.

West Bromwich Albion official website:

The forward used his pace to burst past Mustafi into the area, cut inside and appear [sic] to be brought down by the Gunners defender. Rodriguez quickly stood up and subsequently saw his shot tipped on to the far post by Petr Cech…

What about the managers?

Tony Pulis (WBA manager): “I think the challenge on Jay is a penalty and a red card.”

Arena Wenger (Aresnal manager): “The referee left the advantage and they nearly scored from that, they hit the post and I think the decision is defendable on both sides had he given a penalty or not. He left the advantage, if he gives a penalty and doesn’t give the advantage and they miss the penalty then you say why did he not leave the advantage, it’s this kind of situation.”

And the local papers?

Islington Gazette (Arsenal): “Tony Pulis and his men could feel aggrieved by referee Bobby Madley turning down a cast-iron penalty for the Baggies in the first half …”

Verdict: It should have been a penalty – but not if you’re on the Arsenal website.

Posted: 26th, September 2017 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, Sports | Comment | Comments RSS feed:RSS 2.0

Poppy monoculture: a draconian silence falls over Wembley

Without any hint of irony the Daily Telegraph hears that England – the national football side rebranded ‘The Three Lions’ – are allowed to wear pictures of poppies on their shirts and calls it a “major victory for the British game”. England might not win many meaningful football matches but when it comes to decorating our tops, decades of hurt have been undone. On November 10, England will wear poppies on their shirts as they play – get this – Germany at Wembley.

Before last year’s Armistice Day, FIFA banned England and Scotland — as well as Wales and Northern Ireland — from wearing the poppy, the symbol of remembrance, for matches on that day. FIFA says “political, religious or personal” designs should no infect the national shirts. But England and Scotland players wore them anyhow, albeit as black armbands with a poppy motif.  Odd, no? Football is about rules. It’s all about rules. Without rules there is no sport. Flouting the rules is no small deal.

Rory Smith notes that “Until 2009, it was rare for British club teams to display a poppy on their uniforms at this time of year… A campaign led by the Daily Mail that year changed all that. The intention, of course, is an admirable and honorable one: to show that football, as the slogan goes, remembers. That is not, however, necessarily the effect. Wearing a poppy is designed as an individual act; when it becomes compulsory, it loses not just much of its impact, but some of its meaning.”

An act of remembering in a minute’s contemplative silence became enforced duty. And it became political. Theresa May called it was “utterly outrageous” that FIFA should rule on poppies. The FA says “common sense” has won. The Sun calls it “VICTORY – Poppy ban KO-d as FIFA sees sense”.  “POPPY VICTORY,” declares the Express. “POPPY POWER,” hails the Mail. “Sportsmail ran a successful campaign in 2009 for all Premier League clubs to have the poppy emblem on their shirts, which is now commonplace.” No. It’s compulsory. And anyone who objects is portrayed as morally repugnant.

In 2010, Celtic fans protested a decision for their club’s shirt to feature the poppy. Their banner declared: “Your deeds they would shame all the devils in hell. Ireland, Iraq, Afghanistan. No blood-stained poppy on our hoops.” Celtic vowed to ban he protestors. The Sun called them “hate mobs”. Don’t sing sectarian chants about past battles and loss, goes the top-down directive, but you must wear the poppy.

This is not about heartfelt remembrance, giving private thanks to the sacrifices of so many for our freedom (to choose) and supporting the armed forces; it’s about public displays of group think and compliance.


Posted: 25th, September 2017 | In: Back pages, Broadsheets, Key Posts, News, Sports, Tabloids | Comment | Comments RSS feed:RSS 2.0

Arsenal balls: Sanchez leaves Higuain and joins Manchester United

Hard luck on Arsenal fans: Alexis Sanchez is on his way to Manchester United. The Sun has the scoop, leading with the “TRANSFER EXCLUSIVE”.


SAnchez arsenal manchester united


No word on whence the story emerged. No source quoted. Just the simple fact that Manchester United want Alexis Sanchez, and he’s on his way for a £25m signing-on fee.

Readers might be little more circumspect.  This is the Sun, after all, the paper that told us Gonzalo Higuain joined Arsenal in 2013.


higuain arsenal sign



Undeterred by fact – he never joined – the Sun continues to publish the story on its website. Although it was “Updated: 5th April 2016, 7:12 am” to now read:


ARSENAL last night smashed their transfer record when they agreed a £23million fee for Real Madrid striker Gonzalo Higuain.


ARSENAL last night smashed their transfer record when they agreed a £23million fee for Real Madrid striker Gonzalo Higuain…Wenger believes that the capture of Higuain will convince other world-class stars to join.

This is despite Higuain telling the Times in December 2013:

“I did not speak to them [Arsenal]. They said Arsenal wanted to sign me, that they were there negotiating [with Real Madrid], but it was Napoli who came and bought me.”

As for Alexis Sanchez, well, he plays for Manchester City. We read that fact in the Sun.


MANCHESTER CITY will make a final £70million bid to land Alexis Sanchez with the deal now set to go through by tonight.

In another exclusive, readers learn:

MANCHESTER CITY will make a final £70million bid to land Alexis Sanchez with the deal now set to go through by tonight.

Sanchez never did join Man chester City.

Such are the facts.

Posted: 24th, September 2017 | In: Back pages, manchester united, Sports, Tabloids | Comment | Comments RSS feed:RSS 2.0

Manchester United balls: what Maja Nilsson didn’t say about executive boxes

Seats are pricey at Manchester United. Even a footballer on astronomical wages is upset at the cost of watching the Red Devils. The Daily Mirror says Victor Lindelof’s fiancee “blasts” Man United over “‘disgusting £82,000 cost for Old Trafford executive boxes'”.

And where one tabloid leads, another dutifully follows – although in the Sun, Maja Nilsson, for that is she, is reduce to a “WAG”:


manchester united  Victor Lindelof’s fiancee


The story tells readers:

“Jose Mourinho’s squad can hire the luxury suites for their family and friends at home games with prices ranging from £24,000 to £81,600.”

So the top price is just under £82,000. And what did she say? This:

“Players have the option to rent a box,” Nilsson said on her podcast, called Livet På Läktaren (Life in the Stands). “I’m not even going to tell you for how much, but a disgusting amount. If you don’t buy one you’re considered a loser. But having a box is wonderful. You get your own waiter.”

The story has been removed from both the Sun and Mirror’s websites.

Posted: 21st, September 2017 | In: Back pages, manchester united, News, Sports | Comment | Comments RSS feed:RSS 2.0

Chelsea balls: Gus Hiddink never did cry

The Sun enjoys the “Crying Dutchman” pun, using it to describe Dutch football managers who aren’t ever crying. In May 2016, the Sun said “Crying Dutchman Louis van Gaal” was “disappointed” at being sacked by Manchester United. But the hammer-headed Dutchman today returns to the Sun in a feature entitled “The Crying Dutchmen”.

With Ronald Koeman mired at Everton and Frank de Boer already sacked by trigger-happy Crystal Palace with a 100% record of played 4, lost 4, Dutch managers in the Premier League are an endangered species. Both men feature on the Sun’s story on Dutch managers who”‘struggle to set the English top flight alight”.

You could, of course, make a longer list of English manger who have failed to shine in the PL – an English manager has yet to win the Premier League. But it’s the Dutch in the crosshairs. And overlooking Martin Jol, who did pretty well at Spurs (2004-2007), notably becoming the first Spurs manager since Keith Burkinshaw (Spurs manger 1976-1984) to qualify for European football in successive seasons, the paper spots Guus Hiddink.

That’s the same Gus Hiddink who while still managing Russia was appointed as Chelsea’s interim manager in 2009, leading them to the FA Cup. The Sun says he “came back in 2015 after Jose Mourinho was axed but the Blues toiled to finish tenth”.


Hiddink rejoined Chelsea on 19 December 2015, with the club in 16th place. Under Jose Mourinho, Chelsea has lost nine out of sixteen league games. Hiddink set a new record for the longest unbeaten streak by a new manager in Premier League history with 12 games unbeaten. Under Hiddick, Chelsea lost just two more league matches.

Crying? No. Far from it. He was very good.

Posted: 18th, September 2017 | In: Back pages, Chelsea, News, Sports, Tabloids | Comment | Comments RSS feed:RSS 2.0

Blitzkrieg: Arsenal fans beyond parody as German ‘Nazis’ invade from Cologne

At last night’s Arsenal v Cologne match in the Europa League, things did not go smoothly. Fans behaved as football fans used to, arriving at the stadium without tickets and in high spirits. Around 20,000 fans of FC Koln arrived with just under 3000 tickets between them.

The sensible move would be to flog tickets on the gate, letting fans be with their mates and follow their side without need to register with clubs, load up credit card details and be processed in a way the Stasi would find a bit much. But no. Everyones needs a seat. And with a seat comes a number. And with that number comes control.

(Cologne’s 50,000 capacity: 50,000 has space for 8,175 standing fans.)


daily mail arsenal europa cologne


And so it is that 20,000 Germans football fans in London for their side’s first European match since 1992 are portrayed as an army of Nazis. “Thug urinate in street, make Nazi salutes and storm the turnstiles,” says the Mail. If pissing in the street makes you a thug, well, we’re all doomed. The definition of ‘thug’ according to the Merriam-Webster dictionary is: “a brutal ruffian or assassin: gangster, tough.” Hold the prison tats, knives, guns and bare-knuckle fighting. You just need a full bladder and a lack of public loos to be a thug.


daily mail arsenal europa cologne



And what of the Germans being Nazis? Well, for that there is but one source. “ITV political editor Robert Peston reported Nazi salutes and ‘peeing on doorsteps’.” Jim White on talkSPORT (“FANTASTIC! THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU MY FRIEND THANK YOU FANTASTIC! etc…”) introduced “highly respected Arsenal fan Robert Peston”, who complained that the Germans “made a terrible mess” by dropping litter and urinating – “and I’ve got a few mates who live near the ground”.

Deary dear, eh. But Peston’s not alone is being upset. On the BBC website, the corporation has collected a narrow range of views, which were it not for any knowledge of what football now represents – moralising, family-friendly entertainment for a TV audience – we’d think the work of a parodist.

Rachel: “In the Emirates as a home fan. Ashamed of Arsenal right now. All the warnings about turning away fans away and they’ve done nothing. No stewards to be seen. Feeling so intimidated.”

Ade: “Currently inside the Emirates, thousands upon thousands of German fans everywhere around us. Horrible tense atmosphere. Tens of thousands of fans being made to feel very unsafe, including very young children.

Foz: “Got to my usual seats in Club level with my 11-year-old son. Surrounded by Cologne fans. So unsafe we have been moved to the other side of the ground. Worst feeling at football in 40 years of watching home and away.”

Chris: “Currently in the home end at Emirates – away section (corner) full and in full voice. Hundreds of people joining in the singing in the adjacent section behind the goal that should be for Arsenal supporters. Can only assume they are Cologne fans.”

Steve: “Don’t feel safe inside and won’t feel safe outside. Should be called off and the Cologne fans sent packing. Arsenal fans who sold their tickets should be banned.”

All pitiful stuff. But at least in the Sun, Dave Kidd does note:

But this did not feel like the bad old days of hooliganism…. A walk around the outside of the Emirates shortly before the original kick-off time, before the turnstiles finally opened, simply showed thousands of English and German supporters shrugging their shoulders and asking each other politely what the hell was going on.

Blitzkrieg! We march at dawn.


Posted: 15th, September 2017 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, News, Sports, Tabloids | Comment | Comments RSS feed:RSS 2.0

Chelsea balls: Conte walks, counting your roosting chickens and the sack race

Chelsea are playing with power and pace. Undefeated since the Premier League’s opening day – and with every game since a victory – the champions are looking strong. The Daily Mirror’s Darren Lewis has noticed:

Chelsea’s critics were at it on Deadline Day. Never mind that boss Antonio Conte had proved them wrong before, by turning Marcos Alonso, Victor Moses and David Luiz into title winners.

A pox on those clueless critics. Like the wally who on August 13 wrote:

The trouble this time is that the chickens are coming home to roost after Antonio Conte ’s champions failed to build from a position of strength… Someone, somewhere has dropped the ball. As it stands, Chelsea have now been beaten in three ­official games since winning the title last season: the FA Cup final, the Community Shield and now this.

On August 17 some knee-jerker wrote:

It is a continuing crisis for a man knee-deep in it this summer:

Cost was on his way out the door:

The biggest fear is that the man who did so well to win so many people over in his debut campaign last season, could walk away…

All Darren Lewis, of course, who get a sympathetic ear at the Mirror, which seems to have it in for the likeable Conte. On August 6, John Cross warned Conte:

Antonio Conte should fear the Community Shield curse after vulnerable Chelsea’s Wembley defeat to Arsenal. The Wembley curse is hanging dangerously for a third year running with Antonio Conte fearing he could become the latest victim.

The last two managers – Claudio Ranieri and Jose Mourinho – to win the title were both sacked midway through the following season after also losing the Community Shield.

And on August 14, Matt Lawless added:

Antonio Conte won title – and could now win sack race! Bookmakers think Chelsea boss will be axed first

“Antonio Conte is already clinging to his job,” opined one caption.

It’s almost as if you can’t judge an entire season on one performance.

Posted: 14th, September 2017 | In: Back pages, Chelsea, Sports | Comment | Comments RSS feed:RSS 2.0

Crystal Palace balls: Sam Allardyce gets a call

The Sun has big news for fans of Crystal Palace, the goal-shy Premier League team. Frank de Boer has been sacked. His managerial record at Palace reads: played – 4; lost – 4; goals scored – nil.

But who will replace Mr 100%. Well, it’s Roy Hodgson, the former England manager, who yesterday joined Palace on a two-year contract. The Sun suggests that Roy got the job only after Palace had offered it to one of their former mangers, Sam Allardyce.


the sun sam allardyce crustal palace


Says the paper:

Sam Allardyce reveals he has received a phone call about taking over at Crystal Palace

He did? No. He didn’t. Click the link and readers are transported to the paper’s story, which informs them:

Allardyce took a phone call from Palace chairman Steve Parish… seeking his thoughts on what the club should do next.

The former England boss was not offered the job, but Parish was quick to seek advice from the 62-year-old when the position became vacant.

Such are the facts.


Posted: 13th, September 2017 | In: Back pages, Sports, Tabloids | Comment | Comments RSS feed:RSS 2.0

Arsenal balls: Ozil leaves on a free having ‘signed a new deal’ in August

Time for a spot of transfer balls – our look at rubbish football reporting. The Sun says Mesut Ozil  is “set to leave Arsenal next summer on [a] free”. He “will NOT sign [a] new contract”. Well, so say “reports in Germany”. We can find only one of those reports, and it’s in Bild, the German tabloid. We’ve put the story through Google Translate and can now let you know:

The future of national player Mesut Özil is still unresolved.

So, Ozil might stay at Arsenal, then. It continues:

According to information from SPORTBILD, since February 2017 there has been no negotiations with the “Gunners” over an extension of the end of the season ending contract.

At that time they talked about a new working paper with a higher salary (estimated currently: 9 million euros), then Arsenal broke the talks off. Background: Arsène Wenger had contact with PSG at that time. The Londoners lacked the planning certainty, as it was not clear how the coach would go on.

Since then, no longer talked about an extension with Ozil. The fact that a new contract with a basic salary of 280,000 euros per week, as is reported, is not true.

Contract talks were postponed in February because Wenger had yet to commit to a new deal. And Ozil was not offered €280,000 a week to stay at Arsenal.

Which rather makes you wonder if either Bild or the Sun can be believed. After all, according to the Sun, Ozil signed a new deal in August:


the sun ozil


In fact, he signed a new Arsenal deal in 2016:


ozil agrees the sun


Such are the facts.

Posted: 12th, September 2017 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, Sports, Tabloids | Comment | Comments RSS feed:RSS 2.0

Manchester United balls: star fan Kim John-Un makes third visit

Huge news. Huge! The Sun has the scoop: “Kim Jong-un is a Manchester United fan who believes North Korean footballers will eventually be flooding to the Premier League.”

Of course, what hereditary despot Mr Kim believes might be lot more terrifying than his dream of cheering on North Koreans in Manchester United colours.

But there it is. If North Korea wants it badly enough, exporting footballing talent might well be its biggest source of income. But, like you, we wonder how the Sun came by this “exclusive”? Putting North Korea and Manchester United into one headline is sure to attract clicks. But is it true?


the sun North Korea Manchester United


The story continues:

A close friend of the nuclear tyrant revealed to SunSport how he loves the beautiful game and never misses a major football tournament.

Tyrant’s pal calls British tabloid to talk foot.

Italian senator Antonio Razzi confirmed the crackpot dictator had told him during private conversations of his love for the Red Devils.

But when asked if Kim compared himself to any United heroes such as Eric Cantona or Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Razzi told The Sun: “No, Kim is Kim — he is the only one.”

So Ibra it is, then.

And be in no doubt that news of Kim’s love for Manchester United is an exclusive, and as such should not be confused with the Mirror’s August 2014 story: “Kim Jong-Un is Manchester United fan”.





You heard it there first!

Posted: 12th, September 2017 | In: Back pages, manchester united, Politicians, Sports, Tabloids | Comment | Comments RSS feed:RSS 2.0

Manchester United wanted Arsenal’s Wenger but ended up with Mourinho and his questionable values

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger turned down the role at Manchester United. According to former Man United chairman Martin Edwards, the Red Devils approached Wenger to manage the club when Sir Alex Ferguson announced his intention to retire. On May 18 2001, Ferguson told MUTV: “I will be leaving Manchester United at the end of the season and that is it.” In 2016, Ferguson called the decision his “biggest mistake”. He changed his mind in January 2002.

That was a blow to Sven Goran-Eriksson, the former England manager who has said that he signed a deal in 2002 to replace Ferguson. In Sven: My Story, Eriksson notes: “I knew it would be tricky. I had a contract with England until the 2006 World Cup and I would be severely criticised if I broke that contract. But this was an opportunity to manage Manchester United.
A contract was signed — I was United’s new manager.”

In his autobiography, Fergusson admits as much. “The head-hunters were due to meet a candidate to succeed me the following week,” wrote Ferguson. “Sven-Goran Eriksson was to be the new United manager, I believe. That was my interpretation, anyway.”

But this is about Wenger, who says he didn’t move to Old Trafford because he was happy at Arsenal. “I love the values of this club,” says Wenger, “and a club is about values first.”


Meanwhile, in Harrod’s department store, London, current Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho has bumped into TV presenter Piers Morgan, who reports their conversation. “How the hell is Arsene still in his job?” asks Morgan. “No idea,” says Mourinho, whose family live in London, “but I hope she stays for a long time.”

Clubs can pick a manager but they can’t pick their fans.


Posted: 11th, September 2017 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, manchester united, News, Sports | Comment (1) | Comments RSS feed:RSS 2.0

Clickbait balls: Arsenal ‘sign’ Lemar but only in the Sun

Illustrating just how bad Arsenal are at transfers, news reaches us that Monaco and France star Thomas Lemar “agrees £250,000-a-week five-year Gunners deal”. The Sun delivers this news in a big, bold headline. Arsenal, eh. The transfer window closed at the end of August, lads. Rubbish.

Of course, the story is total balls. Having delivered the apparent fact of Lemar’s recruitment to the Arsenal cause, we’re soon told the Gunners “are confident Thomas Lemar will arrive at the Emirates in a £92million move from Monaco in January”.

lemar arsenal


Nothing has been agreed. Although the Daily Star, which the Sun cites as the single source for its clickbait, claims “a deal has been agreed in principle”. Which means absolutely nothing.

Indeed, even the hyperbolic Star makes a less bold statement than the Sun, noting: “EXCLUSIVE: Arsenal confident they can rekindle £92m deal for Thomas Lemar in January.”

The Star cites no source in its report, leading readers to wonder how one paper’s claim that Arsenal will look to sign Lemar in January became news that Lemar had agreed to join Arsenal in another?

No facts. But lots of exclusives and duped readers.

Posted: 9th, September 2017 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, Sports | Comment | Comments RSS feed:RSS 2.0

Arsenal balls: Sanchez ‘will’ sign a new contract if you twist Wenger’s words

Was the Sun’s Neil Ashton in the room when Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger spoke to media on Thursday? Ashton has big news on the press conference:

Arsene Wenger has launched a passionate defence of his disastrous deadline-day dealings. In a remarkable outburst, the Arsenal boss claimed wantaway Alexis Sanchez is “happy” at the Emirates and will sign a new contract.

Is that what he said? Did the usually circumspect Wenger actually say Sanchez would sign a deal to remain at Arsenal? On Arsenal’s official website you can read what he said in full:

on considering selling Alexis…

I didn’t want him to leave unless you bring somebody else in with similar quality – then you can defend it. Then you have a player with a four or five-year contract in front of them who is young. But overall, I didn’t want to lose him without having any replacement. Every decision you make can be interpreted in both ways. As long as you have the quality on the pitch for the club, that’s the one thing that matters. I didn’t want him to leave, it’s true. I didn’t want him to leave and in the end he didn’t leave.

on the chance of Alexis staying beyond next summer…

Yes, there is a chance, yes. You just said he is committed and focused on Arsenal. That’s what makes me believe it. At the end of the day, he is 29 years old in December, he knows his football years are counted at that level, especially with the evolution of the game now, so you have to enjoy every minute.

You can even watch the meeting online:



So no “outburst” and no claim that Sanchez “will” sign a new deal. Other than that the story was, er, correct.

Posted: 8th, September 2017 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, Sports, Tabloids | Comment | Comments RSS feed:RSS 2.0

Everton star Wayne Rooney’s holiday romance – and Gary Neville’s advice to Coleen

Rooney laura simpson


For those of you wondering how Wayne Rooney and the lovely Coleen are getting along, the Daily Star has front-page news: “ROONEY GIRL TRACKED COLEEN.” The Rooney girl is his could-have-been-shag Laura Simpson, who had been “tracking Coleen for six weeks” before having what says was a “kiss and a cuddle” with the married footballer.

Laura “knew when Coleen was on holiday”. How so? Did she bug the house? Stick a tracker on her car? Hack her phone? No. The devious Laura FOLLOWED Coleen on twitter and “RETWEETED” Coleen’s message: “So basically…yes on holiday again.” Coleen also “revealed” – not boasted? – she was on holiday again in another message on August 26. Just two nights later, Wayne was on the lash and driving Laura’s car when he was pulled over by the fuzz for alleged drink driving.

It’s a no-shag ‘n’ retweet story, a far cry for the 1980s, when footballers and even snooker players were making headlines five-times-a-night.

But what about those holidays? Laura’s not the only one watching Coleen testing sun creams. The Mail says  “Already this year she has visited Amsterdam, Madrid, Mallorca, Ibiza, Las Vegas, Barbados and Portugal.” And this is relevant, apparently, because the Sun reports on its front page: “Drink-drive footie ace Wayne Rooney gives wife Coleen an ultimatum ‘You quit the holidays and I’ll quit the boozing’.”

And the chauffeur service, Wayne, let’s not forget about that.

But we’ll end with some advice from Gary Neville, Wayne’s former Manchester United teammate. “Look at Wayne Rooney there,” said Neville, spotting the striker in the tunnel before a match. “Old-school, looking forward, not hugging, kissing.” Wise words that Wayne and Coleen – but especially Wayne – can hang on to.


Posted: 7th, September 2017 | In: Back pages, News, Sports, Tabloids | Comment | Comments RSS feed:RSS 2.0

Alexis Sanchez calls Arsenal his ‘home’ and vows to focus

A busy week at the tabloids, as writers think hard about how to fill in the blank pages over the international break. The Sun overlooks doodles of knobs and photos of Paul Gascoigne putting the bins out in favour of pressing f6 on the keyboard and going studs up on Alexis Sanchez. The Sun says Arsenal players wanted the club to flog Alexis Sanchez over the summer. Well, so says the paper, which talks of “fear” in the Arsenal squad that the “moody” Chilean’s return will “sap” the team’s moral.

The Sun’s story is supported by neither evidence nor quote. It exists in headline form only.

Undeterred by the fact that Sanchez has always given his all for Arsenal, Neil Ashton says he “pulled every trick in the book to get away”. That book presumably including a chapter on playing for the team, albeit in a palsied performance at Liverpool in which Arsenal, Sanchez and all, were thrashed 4-0.

Ashton says Sanchez “barely lifted a leg” as the Gunners went down. Well, the same could be said for pretty much every Arsenal player in what was an abject performance, and Sanchez’s first of the season.

Ashton ends his page filler saying Sanchez was “made to play against his will” at Anfield, which rather counters the idea that the Chilean is difficult to manage.

After so much blah-blah, the Sun then delivers the results of a poll in which readers were invited to consider whether or not Sanchez should play for Arsenal. Shock of shocks, most Arsenal fans who respond to polls think playing the club’s best player a good idea. Only 15% of all fans think Sanchez should be put in a wood-chipper and scattered to the winds.

In the Mirror, Sanchez is “fit for nothing”, not even as fertiliser. A former coach of Chile’s Under-20s side, says Sanchez is “fatter than normal”. Chile lost two World Cup qualifiers in the international break. And Sanchez wasn’t at his best. But fat? Bit bitchy of the coach, no, to resort to body shaming. Next they’ll be saying Sanchez’s legs are too hairy and he’s only wearing one bottle of gel in his hair.

As the tabloids wade in on Sanchez, one of the Premier League’s best players, we wonder what the player makes of it all. On Instagram he explains:


instagram alexis sanchez arsenal


He’s back ‘home” at Arsenal and trying to “focus”.

Such are the facts…

Posted: 7th, September 2017 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, Sports | Comment | Comments RSS feed:RSS 2.0

Spurs Balls: Dele Alli’s finger is rushed down to forensics (and it stinks of Nazis)

When Spurs footballer Dele Alli raised a middle finger on international duty, the media went into overdrive. So bad was it that Sky Sports produced this hilarious illustration:


dele alli england finger


‘Player Swears On Pitch’ is not all that big news. In any case, Alli says he was swearing at his former Spurs team-mate Kyle Walker, not at the referee. FIFA is not investigating. And that is that. Or you’d think it would be but in the Sun, Dave Kidd has two pages of intense investigation into what will very possibly be dubbed finger-gate.

He begins his long look at Alli’s finger by stating:

“It was when they showed the widescreen shot of Dele Alli appearing to raise his middle finger in the direction of Kyle Walker, rather than the referee, that you began to worry. That sick feeling you get in your stomach when you suspect we’re going to be hearing far too much about the precise angle of intention of a raised digit… And then you’ll just want to scream out: ‘Aaaarrrrggghhh! Why can’t it just be about the football?'”

Why, indeed. That question can be aimed at the Sun, which produces not only Kidd’s long story – “FICKLE FINGER OF FATE” – but also ‘DELE VISIONS”, a graphic to help us decide if Alli is a liar.



Having concluded that he might not be, the Sun produces “6 Other Rude Boys”, a look at other unsavoury gestures on the field of play. It kicks off with Nicholas Anelka doing the notorious quenelle salute, made famous by his comedian friend Dieudonné M’Bala M’Bala. And there’s Mark Bosnich, then at Aston Villa, giving Spurs fans the Nazi salute. Bit much, no, to liken Alli’s digital ‘fuck off’ with the horrors of Nazi-led anti-Semitism. And there’s Paul Gascoigne’s 1998 flute-playing celebration in front of Celtic fans that earned him a £20,000 fine and a series of death threats. He claimed not to have realized the symbolic significance of his antics – an excuse that would be preposterous coming from anyone else, but which is just about plausible in Gazza’s case.


dele alli finger england


dele alli finger england


Of course, the idea behind this forensic examination of Alli’s raised finger is that the Spurs man has sullied the shirt. Which makes us wonder why the Sun didn’t mention this salute the England team once gave in Berlin:


Dele Alli salute

Not Dele Alli


Over the page, Ian Wright wonders is “maybe it wasn’t a nasty, malicious gesture”. Wright then tells us what it was: “naive and daft.” He’s “off the hook,” say the Mail in a three-page story on the finger. The paper invites – get this – the “three wise men” to look at “The Devil in Dele”. One of these sages is Jamie Redknapp, who says Alli is “a lovely kid”; another is Martin Keown. Yeah, him:



Offensive? Nah.

Posted: 6th, September 2017 | In: Back pages, Sports, Spurs | Comment | Comments RSS feed:RSS 2.0

Daily Mail gives Manchester United legend Ryan Giggs an unwarranted kick

Giving footballers a kicking is lazy. Take the Mail’s treatment of former Manchester United great Ryan Giggs, who was in Malta for England’s World Cup Qualifying match on Friday 1 September. The game kicked off at 19:45. Around 2 hours later, Giggs was wrapping things up and heading back to the hotel.

As McDonald’s Head of Welsh Football, Giggs had to get some sleep before heading home to present the Welsh Community Football Awards “to recognise those who dedicate their time, effort and hard work into grassroots football throughout Wales”. The ceremony was set for September 2 at the Cardiff City Stadium, where Giggs’ Wales were taking on Austria in their own World Cup qualifier.

Giggs is working hard

But this is how the Mail reported things:

Ryan Giggs is well known in Malta due to the time he has spent on the island, starting from his early days at Manchester United. He also invested in a hotel group there with Gary Neville.

Nevertheless Giggs, along with ITV colleagues Paul Ince, Ian Wright and Glenn Hoddle, chose to return home from Malta as soon as possible after the game on Friday – even if it meant a 5.30am exit from their hotel on Saturday.

Task! And after all Malta has done for him…

Posted: 5th, September 2017 | In: Back pages, manchester united, Sports | Comment | Comments RSS feed:RSS 2.0

Manchester United balls: Lukaku and Rashford as good as Rooney and Berbatov

According to the Daily Mail, Manchester United’s Lukaku/Ibrahimovic/Martial/Rashford are every bit as good as United’s 2007-2009 vintage of Rooney/Ronaldo/Tevez/Berbatov. The paper tells readers:

Rashford and Martial offer lightning pace, skill and a decent chance conversion rate, while Ibrahimovic really needs no introduction.

A decent conversion rate of shots to goals? Not really. Marcus Rashford has nine shots for Manchester United this season and one goal. As for Lukaku being equal to Rooney in his prime and Ibrahimovic, 35, being as exciting as the 23-year-old Ronaldo, well, no, they’re not.


Posted: 4th, September 2017 | In: Back pages, manchester united, Tabloids | Comment | Comments RSS feed:RSS 2.0

Liverpool balls: Philippe Coutinho joins Barcelona and then leaves in tears

Did Philippe Coutinho ever leave Liverpool for Barcelona? Yes, he did, says Neil Curtis in the Sun.

COUT AND DRIED Philippe Coutinho heading to Barcelona in stunning £138m deal from Liverpool with announcement set for 7pm


The Merseyside club have finally accepted defeat in their bid to hold on to their prize asset as Coutinho heads to La Liga


Philippe Coutinho liverpool the sun


And then… Coutinho stayed at Liverpool. Was this the Sun’s desperate attempt to seduce Liverpool fans to read the newspaper they hate? Because no sooner has the scoop proven to be utter balls than the Sun has another bash:


Philippe Coutinho liverpool the sun


Facts to support that claim come there none.

And then this:

CRYING GAME Philippe Coutinho’s failed Barcelona move from Liverpool made him ‘break down in tears in front of Brazil team-mates’. Playmaker was reportedly distraught after learning that Reds would not be allowing him to make dream Nou Camp move



Such are the facts…

Posted: 2nd, September 2017 | In: Back pages, Liverpool, Sports, Tabloids | Comments (2) | Comments RSS feed:RSS 2.0

Chile star says story of Sanchez to Manchester City is total balls

What really happened with Alexis Sanchez’s aborted move to Manchester City? The papers are unsure. The Sun says Arsenal called Manchester City to “flog” their star player for £60m. Arsenal then called Monaco to buy Thomas Lemar for that £60m plus another £32m. But Lemar “snubbed” the Gunners. So the whole deal was off because Arsenal only said they would sell Sanchez if Lemar agreed to join them.

The odd bit is that Manchester City – who only made their first offer for Sanchez as late as last Tuesday – apparently told Sanchez it was a done deal. He told his Chile team-mates, who – get this – “gave him a round of applause” (Sun). The other less odd bit is that Arsenal maintained they would not sell Sanchez – and they didn’t.

The result is that Sanchez is “disappointed” (Mail) and “furious” (Sun). But the player has made no comment. The fury comes from unnamed sources, who add that Sanchez could now go on strike (Express). He could also decide to knuckle down and play brilliantly, perhaps even signing a new deal at Arsenal and so earning £300,000 week, up from his current £140,000 a week.

The papers are guessing. But one man is willing to go on the record. Bayern Munich and Chile’s Arturo Vidal says Sanchez never did get that round of applause. He says Sanchez was focused on Chile’s game against Paraguay and never mentioned joining Man City. “To whom? No, no, to nobody. Not to me. I don’t think so,” said Vial when asked abut Sanchez. “I think it was all made up because he was very focused on today’s game.”

What price that anonymous source was already counting 10% of £60m until Arsenal stuck to their guns..?

Posted: 1st, September 2017 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, Manchester City, News, Sports | Comment | Comments RSS feed:RSS 2.0

Arsenal FC is declared dead and only the parasites remain

Arsenal are dead. So says the Sun, which links the club’s pulse to Alexis Sanchez’s whims, declaring that when the Chilean quits the club today – it is “inevitable he will, says the paper’s Neil Ashton – he’ll be leaving behind a corpse where there was once a club.

Sanchez would also be leaving the leeches, footballers whose presence at Arsenal is more parasitic than proud. Granti Xhaka, Shkodran Mustafi, Lucas Perez and Calum Chambers are rubbish on the “Arsenal scrapheap”.


the sun arsenal


But might it be that the Sun’s trash talk is a little late? It was last March 8 when the Sun’s Ashton told readers:

Arsenal Football Club, Rest In Peace. This institution, one of the most famous clubs in the world, is dead and buried. Here at the Emirates, the heart finally stopped beating.

Can you die twice? And can a thriving football club with millions in the bank die once? Because having watched Arsenal breathe its last in March, on June 1, the same Neil Ashton wrote:

Arsenal, no matter how many times they win the FA Cup, are only ever one defeat away from another meltdown among their fans..


To wit the obvious question: is Neil Ashton a Gooner?

Posted: 31st, August 2017 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, News, Sports, Tabloids | Comments (3) | Comments RSS feed:RSS 2.0

Arsenal mug Liverpool for £40m Oxlade-Chamberlain

Liverpool have spent £40m on recruiting Arsenal and England’s nice, middle-class boy Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain. The word mugged spring to mind. Arsenal might have kicked off the Premier League in indifferent form, but such a large fee for such an uninspiring, toothless player is a great result.

Since joining Arsenal in 2011, Oxlade-Chamberlain has made 198 appearances for the Gunners. And in every one he has been average at best and dire at worst. His most memorable appearance for Arsenal came in 2014 at Chelsea. As Arsenal played to a 6-1 defeat, Oxlade-Chamberlain tipped Eden Hazard’s shot around a post with his hand – and referee Andre Marriner sent off his team-mate Kieran Gibbs. (Even better news for Gooners is that the equally uncharismatic Gibbs has been shunted out to WBA.)

That case of mistaken identities, makes us wonder if Marriner is now working as Liverpool’s head of recruitment.

PS: Arsenal signed Oxlade-Chamberlain from Southampton. He joins a Liverpool side with more former Saints:

Nathaniel Clyne (Southampton to Liverpool, July 2015m, £12.5m)
Dejan Lovren (Southampton to Liverpool, July 2014, £20m)
Sadio Mane (Southampton to Liverpool, July 2016, £34m)
Adam Lallana (Southampton to Liverpool, July 2014, £25m)

PPS:  If they want another one, Arsenal should make Theo Walcott available.

Posted: 30th, August 2017 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, Sports | Comments (4) | Comments RSS feed:RSS 2.0

Arsenal balls: rewriting history without Patrick Vieira

sami mokbel arsenal daily mail


Using Arsenal’s 4-0 defeat at Liverpool to rewrite history is the work of the Daily Mail’s Sami Mokbel. The journalist has been in New York, where he spoke with former Arsenal midfielder Patrick Vieira, currently expanding the Manchester City brand with New York City. The tone is very much one of if only Arsenal had a player of Vieira’s calibre now.

Across the page, Mokbel talks of Arsenal’s “broken dressing room”. Mokbel likens the place to a “morgue” – although the Daily Telegraph hears the deathly quiet punctuated by the roar of fury as players rip into one another. Mokbel rearranges his earplugs and tells readers:

How Arsene Wenger could do with Patrick Vieira in his ranks. Sunday’s harrowing experience at Anfield would never have happened on the Frenchman’s watch.

Eh, yes it would have. December 23, 2000: Arsenal are beaten 4-0 at Anfield in the Premier League. Vieira plays the full 90 minutes.

The Arsenal team on that daty: Manninger, Dixon, Keown, Luzhny, Silvinho, Parlour, Vieira, Grimandi, Ljungberg, Bergkamp, Henry. Subs: Stepanovs, Pires, Wiltord, Lukic, Kanu.

Such are the facts.

Posted: 30th, August 2017 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, Sports, Tabloids | Comment | Comments RSS feed:RSS 2.0

Arsenal to swap Alexis Sanchez for £20m and Manchester City’s Raheem Sterling

Yep, lots of Arsenal news and views today. I’m obsessed. That much is clear. But the doom and gloom is being lifted by what might resemble a cunning plan. Having offloaded the bog-standard English footballer Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain to Chelsea, who were so in dire need to native flesh and they invested £40m of Russian peasants’ cash  hard-earned moolah in ‘The Ox’, news is that Arsenal are in for his England colleague Raheem Sterling (the ex-Liverpool player who runs like a bearded dragon).

Manchester City want Arsenal’s Alexis Sánchez. Given that Sanchez fancies playing for Arsenal less than he does growing his leg hair out, the Gunners should sell the Chilean pronto. To sweeten the blow of losing their best player, City are offering cash (around £20m of Abu Dhabi’s GDP) plus the exciting Sterling, 22, who cost them £49m in 2015 .

If this deal goes through, then Arsenal win. They get a London-born footballer they have long coveted. They get shot of Sanchez, who will surely only fade at Arsenal. And they inject the dressing room with a dash of the unexpected.


Posted: 29th, August 2017 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, Manchester City, Sports | Comment | Comments RSS feed:RSS 2.0