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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

After Liverpool, Arsenal players caught a ‘furious’ ‘morgue-like’ dressing room

Is the Arsenal dressing room noisy? Arsene Wenger told us after Stoke rode their luck to beat Arsenal 1-0:

“We have many leaders…of course at the moment, I would say Per Mertesacker and Laurent Koscielny are the captains with Petr Cech so the natural responsibility goes to them.”

So how is Wenger is the dressing room? Former Arsenal defender Nigel Winterburn told us yesterday:

“Arsene Wenger’s usually very calm and calculated, but I have known players to say over the past few seasons when he gets a performance he finds unacceptable he has lost his temper somewhat.”

Sami Mokbel in the Mail:

Another defeat, another virtually silent dressing room. If there was ever a time to air some home truths then Anfield’s away facilities at around 6pm on Sunday was it… by and large, yet again, it was a morgue. Lifeless.

And in the Telegraph:

Petr Cech ripped into his Arsenal team-mates as he conducted a dressing-room inquest… He was furious

Or as former Arsenal player Lee Dixon has it:

There should be a few people being told off in that dressing room but I don’t think there will be and that’s the problem.


And Wenger:

“If you find a manager who is happy with that performance today, I wish you good luck. The emotions are negative, but it’s not the right moment to talk about that.”

Calm and calculated, then, as usual. And Cech took the lead among the players, as Wenger says he does. Plus ca change at the Gunners.

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

Arsenal in decline: blame the greedy board not Wenger

Alex Oxlade-Chambelrin, the 24-year-old Arsenal footballer is worth – get this – £40m and £220,000 a week in wages. Possessed of less fight than a LibDem activist at a cannabis conference, the man media calls ‘The Ox’ (on account of his running style?) becomes the player who will next year or maybe the year after that or the year after that be utterly brilliant for Chelsea.


arsenal oxlade wenger


Surely Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger’s was wearing blinkers or a salesman’s shiny jacket when he told everyone a few days ago how Oxlade-Chamberlain was “one of the players we want to build around in the future’, who caused Wenger to say: “I’m convinced that he will be in the next two or three years the English player everyone looks at.”

The smart move would be for the Gunners to now ship out Alexis Sanchez and any other player not keen on staying the course.  Arsenal should take the £70m (Daily Star) Manchester City are willing to part with for Sanchez. They should then sack Wenger and the patently useless Ivan Gazidis, the chief executive who called for a “catalyst” for change, and saw it delivered in a 4-0 tonking at Liverpool in which Arsenal performed like moving cones on a training pitch. Although, in fairness, Gazidis didn’t specify which way the line of travel would be. But now we know it’s clearly downwards.

Sacking Wenger is the opinion of Ian Wright, the former Arsenal striker , who tells Sun readers: “GO, ARSENE.” A pall of uncertainty hangs over Arsenal and, according to Wright, it’s all Wenger’s fault. Wrong. It’s the owners who are to blame. They hire. They fire. The Arsenal board has grown fat on Wenger’s ability to delivers Champions’ League cash and a team capable of packing out The Emirates. They suits merely call for more of the same year on year. Coming fifth placed in last season’s Premier League should not have earned him a new two-year deal on an increased wage.

The Mirror says senior players are “fuming” over the lack of changes and singings at the club. Others might wonder why just a year after buying Shkodran Mustafi and Lucas Perez for a combined fee in excess of £50m, both are being touted for sale.

After yet another poor start to the season, Arsenal are “stale”. The Mail says the training routine never changes, adding that the club’s majority shareholder, ‘Silent’ Stan Kroenke, will keep backing Wenger – until the dividend cheques stop coming and the fans stop buying shirts.

If you want to know what’s gone wrong at Arsenal, be like ‘The Ox’ and follow the money.

Posted: 29th, August 2017 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, Sports, Tabloids | Comments (2) | Comments RSS feed:RSS 2.0

Arsenal balls: Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain rejects new deal for more money than he wanted

Arsenal’s Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain is one of the Gunners contingent of nice middle-class boy lacking bite. In the final year of his Arsenal contract, the temptation must be for the club to cash in on the player they bought from Southampton in 2011 and whose been an inconsistent performer, rarely shining. Chelsea are keen, and have offered £35m for the player.

But Arsenal want to keep him. And they are prepared to pay big for the privilege.

In 2011, Arsenal manger Arsene Wenger said of his new recruit: “We are looking forward to him fulfilling his huge potential with Arsenal.”

In 2017, Wenger suggested that potential would soon be achieved: “I want him to stay here for a long time. I’m convinced that he will be in the next two or three years the English player everyone looks at.”

So what’s the player who is always on the verge of being great worth to the Gunners?

On June 11, the Daily Star said a new contract had been agreed:



A few days later and the Star said Oxlade-Chamberlain was “highly unlikely” to agree a deal to stay at Arsenal. Both reports remain online.



On August 25, Oxlade-Chamberlain had “rejected” an absurd £180,000-a-week to stay at the Gunners, said the Star.



That’s odd because on August 15, the Mirror reported The Ox wanted £150,00 a-week to stay.



The Sun agreed.



Sky Sports adds: “Arsenal to tell Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain if he can leave after he turns down new deal.” The deal that offered him more than he wanted?

Such are the facts.


Posted: 25th, August 2017 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, Sports | Comment | Comments RSS feed:RSS 2.0

Conor McGregor’s going to lose – even Rocky lost

You watching the big fight between Conor McGregor and Floyd Mayweather? You’d best not miss the beginning because it could be quick. Boxing is a sport. And Mayweather’s a lot better at it than MacGregor.

Or as the Guardian puts it:

Conor McGregor’s biggest weapon? His lack of boxing experience

No. It isn’t. As anyone who has ever stepped into a ring with a professional boxer will confirm, not being a boxer with a track record is a big disadvantage. Even Rocky lost.

The allure of Saturday’s much-hyped fight in Las Vegas is that no one knows what will happen in the ring – not least the overwhelming favorite, Floyd Mayweather

Nah. I think he’s got a pretty good idea what will happen.

Spotter: Guardian

Posted: 25th, August 2017 | In: Back pages, Broadsheets | Comment | Comments RSS feed:RSS 2.0

Arsenal balls: ‘no Sanchez news’ excites the Mail and BBC

The BBC is engaging in a spot of clickbait. Below the question”Is Alexis Sanchez heading out of the Emirates?” it writes “Wenger not ruling out new Sanchez deal.”

Readers might well put the two headlines together and concoct the notion that Alexis Sanchez is leaving the Gunners. But that would be wrong. The BBC stokes the fires, noting “speculation linking the forward with a move away from the club”.

So what did Wenger says about that? Nothing.

“I don’t think he’s too much disturbed by all the noise, players at that level are used to it now. He is very focused, very happy and the fact he goes into the last year of his contract doesn’t mean we cant extend it.

“At the moment we haven’t, we just want to focus as a team and not look too much at the contracts of everybody.”

The BBC links to a Daily Mail story, one telling readers:

Manchester City still want Arsenal forward Alexis Sanchez, 28, before next week’s transfer deadline.

From the off that story is utter tosh:

Pep Guardiola identified the Gunners forward as a primary target this summer but has been surprised by Arsene Wenger’s resolve in keeping his prized asset.

The Man City manager is shocked that the Arsenal manager wants to keep his best player?

Guardiola is willing to wait until next summer to sign Sanchez for nothing should a transfer fail to materialise.

Unless Sanchez signs for Arsenal, in which case the plan’s foiled.


Posted: 24th, August 2017 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, Manchester City, Sports | Comment | Comments RSS feed:RSS 2.0

Liverpool balls: Barcelona ‘give up’ on Coutinho by upping their offer

Is Philippe Coutinho leaving Liverpool for Barcelona? He wants to. the Brazilian has put in for a transfer. He’s not played for Liverpool this season, having been injured and now laid low with a virus. How unlucky is that, eh? Hope he’s feeling better for his Barcelona medical.

But he’s not leaving. No way. The Mirror told us as much yesterday.

Liverpool have won their battle with Barcelona over Philippe Coutinho with the Spanish giants admitting defeat in their bid to prise him away… Barca have finally accepted that Liverpool won’t sell Coutinho to them this month.


philippe countinho liverpool


The Mirror cements its scoop on today’s back page leading with: “Welcome home, all is forgiven.” That headline hovers around a photo of Coutinho and Jurgen Klopp, the Liverpool manger, hugging one another.


philippe countinho liverpool


Meanwhile…over in the Sun:

BARCELONA are to launch a final £136million bid for Philippe Coutinho. The Catalan giants… are ready with a fourth offer of £100m up front with add-ons of £36m

Such are the facts.

Posted: 23rd, August 2017 | In: Back pages, Liverpool, Sports | Comments (4) | Comments RSS feed:RSS 2.0

Arsenal balls: Jack Wilshere hits ‘career low’ as Man City’s Smith auditions for the big time

How much editorial spin can be heaped upon Arsenal’s Jack Wilshere, who last night responded angrily to a late foul by Manchester City’s Matthew Smith as the pair contested an Under 23 encounter. (Wilshere is 25.) Once viewed as the greatest English player of his generation, Wishere has by way of injury and the emergence of brighter talents at Arsenal and elsewhere fallen well down the pecking order.

In the handbags that followed, Wilshere shoved Smith in the chest – the City player went down faster than a Love Island contestant, before clutching his head and laying in the foetal position for some time – and scrapped with Tyreke Wilson. Both Wilshere and Wilson were sent off. Smith was dispatched with a single bullet to the temple.

And the press?

Wilshere sent off for Arsenal after pushing opponent – Evening Standard

Jack Wilshere sent off for Arsenal after flooring Man City player – The Sun

It was a “career low” – The Sun

Jack Wilshere sent off for Arsenal to cast further doubt over his futureDaily Telegraph

After the hype, let’s leave you with the balls. Matthew Smith, take a bow… and keep going down and down and down until your nose hits the turf. (Tip: next time you audition for the Premier League, remember to slap the grass with an open hand as if you’re giving birth and to check the other hand – the one that’s been holding your head on – for signs of blood and brain.)


Posted: 22nd, August 2017 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, Broadsheets, Manchester City, Sports, Tabloids | Comment | Comments RSS feed:RSS 2.0

Media bias: Manchester City never dive, Kyle Walker gets the elbow and Everton con the ref

Media bias: When Kyle Walker was sent off on his Manchester City debut, a few voices thought he’d been hard done by, arguing that his second yellow card was harsh. We’ve gone round the publications to see what they thought of it.

What was Walker looking at?

First up, and by way of a benchmark, we go to John Murray (BBC):

It probably wasn’t a yellow card but it was a silly thing for Kyle Walker to do just after he was booked. He’s not looking at the ball, he’s looking at the man. 

BBC match report:

Walker is looking at a high ball in the air, takes a quick peep at Dominic Calvert-Lewin behind him and catches the Everton man with a brush of the arm. It is not an elbow.

Pretty clear, then, that Walker was looking at the man not the ball.

The Sun:

Walker’s dismissal seemed particularly harsh as he appeared to be looking at the ball rather than Calvert-Lewin when he leapt.

Not clear at all, then. He was looking at the man and also ,er, not looking at the man.

What about the clubs’ respective websites?

Everton FC website: “City lose their discipline after falling behind… Walker paid the penalty for receiving two yellow cards.” What he received them for is not enlarged upon.

Manchester City website: “The wing-back’s first yellow came for a sliding challenge on Leighton Baines, and the second left the Etihad crowd bemused after he was cautioned for a collision with Dominic Calvert-Lewin.” Walker committed no fouls, according to City. The first was for a “challenge”. The second was for a “collision”, a coming together.

And the experts?

Graham Poll (Daily Mail)

It was a foul, nothing more. No need for a card. He got it wrong.

Gary Neville:

“He’s backing into him, the amount of times I did this as a full-back, you try and use your body to establish your position. Calvert-Lewin’s gone down, he’s been clever, he’s been effective in the first half.

“He’s held his head and that’s what I think conned the referee. You could say it’s clever from Calvert-Lewin, you could say it’s cute. Personally, it’s a soft second yellow.”

What about the local media?

Manchester Evening News: “Kyle Walker was farcically sent off.”

The paper then accuses the Everton player of acting:

Kyle Walker must feel like one of the unluckiest footballers on the planet right now after receiving one of the most ridiculous red cards you will ever see.

The City right back was rightly booked for a foul on Leighton Baines, but moments later, as he and Dominic Calvert-Lewin jockeyed for position under a high ball, the Everton man bumped into his back and dramatically fell to the deck.

The MEN says “Calvert Lewin makes a huge meal of it”.

Play acting is not what City players do, right? The MEN also reports on City’s match with Arsenal’s Under 23s last night, in which Arsenal’s Jack Wilshere was sent off. The MEN hails his red card: “This will cheer you.” See if you can see any dramatic falls to the ground here?



Liverpool Post: “Kyle Walker was shown a second yellow card following a challenge on Calvert-Lewin and was sent off.”

Such are the facts.

Posted: 22nd, August 2017 | In: Back pages, Manchester City, Sports | Comment (1) | Comments RSS feed:RSS 2.0

Arsenal balls: missing Ozil is the fourth best player on the pitch

The modern media trick is to report a football match and cover all the angles in a scattergun of clickbait and ‘debate’. And so it is for the Sun’s reporting on Stoke City’s 1-0 win over Arsenal. The trouble begins when readers notice the corruption of facts.

In one story, the paper slams Arsenal star Mesut Ozil’s “lifeless performance”. Another story on the game is punctuated with “Should Arsenal get rid of Ozil now?” Yet another story tells readers: “Ozil, indeed, played like a deserter, hiding in plain sight.” Steven Gerrard, the former Liverpool captain now working as TV pundit, was “100 per cent right” to call Ozil a “liability”, says the paper’s Ken Lawrence.


ozil ken lawrence arsenal the sun


And that’s odd because in the Sun’s round-up of the match, Ozil scores a 7 out of 10, making him the Gunners’ second best performer after Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (8) – and the joint fourth best player on the pitch after ‘The Ox’, Stoke’s Jack Butland (8 – the game’s Man of the Match) and Jese (8).


ozil arsenal


Have the tabloids got it in for Ozil, or have they simply worked out that slamming him get Arsenal fans excited? Just last week, the Mirror labelled Ozil a “loser”, although all the facts pointed to him being anything but. It’s almost as if the stories write themselves to an agenda.

Posted: 21st, August 2017 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, Sports | Comment (1) | Comments RSS feed:RSS 2.0

Chelsea move to sue Diego Costa

No sooner has Diego Costa walked out on Chelsea than the press started to work out how much money his strop will cost the Spain striker. The Express calculates that on an annual wage of £7m a year, striking until January 1 2018, when he can join Atletico Madrid, will cost Costa £3m. (Atletico are subject to a transfer embargo until Jan 1).

Make that £13m, says the Star. Like the Mirror, it says Chelsea could sure Costa for breach of contract.

Odd, isn’t it, that the player whose gamesmanship and nastiness left many fans bemused by his lack of red cards should now have dismissed himself. Perhaps he tired of waiting for the referee?

Chelsea want Costa back to train with the squad, as per the terms of his contract. Costa moans “Chelsea don’t want to release me” and “My destination is already set. I must return to Madrid”. But according to the Sun, Atletico Madrid will pay £30m for Costa – £20m less than Chelsea think he’s worth.

“When we heard [Chelsea manager Antonio] Conte didn’t want me anymore, my agent went to find out if there was interest from Atletico for me coming back,” says Costa. “Of course for the warmth and respect that I earned there, they showed interest, but they wouldn’t pay a fortune… If I’m not part of the manager’s plans, I would like to choose my destination – I’m not going to let them decide just to get more money.”

The only winner here look likely to be Aletico, who can sit back and watch Costa’s value plummet.



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

Spurs balls: Levy puts Dele Alli in the shop window

In the mad world of football transfers, what is Tottenham and Spurs’ talented irritant Dele Alli worth? Helpfully the BBC says he’s worth £150m. Its story is rooted in the Sun’s “exclusive”, which says Dele Alli won’t be sold to Manchester City or Barcelona “even for £150million”.


levy dele alli spurs


The article adds that Spurs chairman Daniel Levy “has made it clear 21-year-old Alli is not for sale at any price”. In other words, anyone who wants to buy the player can start the bidding at £150m. As the story adds:

And with Neymar moving to PSG for £198m and Kylian Mbappe expected to follow him for £160m, Levy sees no reason why Alli should not be in a similar bracket.

Levy’s dangling Alli in the water and is waiting to see if any oil-soaked fish is mad enough to bite. And as Levy sticks Alli in a basque and suspenders and puts him in the store window, the pretence continues that he’s anything but waiting for a massive bid. “Levy has made it clear his future is at White Hart Lane,” adds the Sun blithely.

The really odd thing about the Sun’s scoop is that it contains not one quote from Levy. His “warning” to the world that only £150m-ish will get Alli contains not a word that can be attributed to him irrefutably and directly. If the Spurs chairman won’t go on the record, why is news of Alli’s non sale news at all?

When did the Sun become Tottenham’s salesroom?

Posted: 17th, August 2017 | In: Back pages, News, Sports, Spurs, Tabloids | Comment (1) | Comments RSS feed:RSS 2.0

Arsenal balls: ‘missing’ Ozil creates more chances than any other player

The tabloids love to bash Arsenal’s Mesut Ozil. It’s not alway fair criticism. Take Arsenal’s Premier League opener against Leicester City. The Gunners won 4-3. But according to the Daily Mirror, Ozil as a “loser”:

With Alexis Sanchez missing through injury, this was a big night for Mesut Ozil to take centre stage but he failed to make any impact on the game.

No impact at all?

The German superstar… failed to create any goalscoring chances for Alexandre Lacazette.

According to the Premier League website, Ozil made one “big chance”, had three shots and won 5 of 9 “duels”. Indeed, elsewhere on the Mirror’s website, Ozil “looked to set up chances”. In fact, he created six chances in the match.

Such are the facts.

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

Chelsea balls: Diego Costa and the Daily Mail pile into blameless Conte

Following up its interview with Chelsea striker Daily Mail, the paper leads with “WE BACK DIEGO”. News is that “Antonio Conte’s decision to exile Diego Costa is threatening to damage his strong bonds with other Chelsea players.” Other papers go with “Rebel Will Be Left To Rot” (Sun) and “Blues lay down law to AWOL star” (Daily Star)“.

Costa is currently sulking at his mum and dad’s house in Brazil. He’s been fined for not showing up at Chelsea. And he says the Blues are treating him “like a criminal”.

The Mail says it’s not wantaway Costa in the wrong; it’s Conte. The story continues: “Costa is a popular figure in the dressing room and remains in regular contact with close friends Willian, David Luiz and Spain team-mates including Cesc Fabregas.” Well, so says Costa. And then this: “Some fear they could be the next to be discarded in brutal fashion by title-winning manager Conte.”

That Conte, eh, what a heartless swine. What the Mail omits to mention is that in July 2016, Costa demanded to leave Chelsea for Atletico Madrid. Conte, as was reported widely, persuaded him to stay. Said Costa:”I did all that I could to return but it didn’t happen. When Atlético had to wait for me, they didn’t wait.”

Indeed, one news organ has reported on Costa’s unhappiness at Chelsea many times:

Costa has never properly settled in London after moving there in his own £32m deal and has remained in contact with various former team-mates telling several of them that he would like to return. – Feb, 4, 2016

Antonio Conte unsure if Diego Costa will stay a Chelsea player: ‘If you ask me if Costa will remain, I don’t know’ – July 31, 2016

Antonio Conte won a battle of wills with Diego Costa after Chelsea’s leading scorer demanded to be taken off during the 3-0 Premier League victory over Leicester at Stamford Bridge. The Spain international started the game on four yellow cards for the season, meaning another booking would see him miss the highly anticipated clash with Manchester United on October 23… the Blues striker gestured angrily towards his manager that he wanted to be substituted 20 minutes before time to avoid a potential suspension, but Conte was having none of it – despite Costa holding his leg late on. – October, 2016

All in the Mail.

Having supported Conte for telling Costa who’s boss, the Mail now tells its readers:

Could Diego Costa last longer at Chelsea than Antonio Conte? Champions order rebel striker back to London as their manager feels the heat

Not if Costa’s got anything to do with it, no. He wants to leave…


Posted: 15th, August 2017 | In: Back pages, Chelsea, News, Sports | Comment | Comments RSS feed:RSS 2.0

Talking Balls: Huddersfield’s Steve Mounie goes missing in the Dales

Huddersfield tonked Crystal Palace in their opening Premier League match, and the Sun’s Paul Jiggins can’t find an atlas. Where the hell is Huddersfield? He doesn’t know. The Sun’s once peerless subs don’t know, either:

At Selhurst Park on Saturday we heralded the arrival of the striker who could become the Premier League’s next African superstar. Steve Mounie is already being dubbed ‘The Drogba of the Dales’”…

Not by anyone in Huddersfield he ins’t, which, as any schoolboy knows, isn’t in the Yorkshire Dales.


huddersfield dales

Where’s Steve?


Such are the facts.


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

Media Bias: Chelsea stretch the truth as Burnley win

Media Bias: a look at biased football reporting. Today’s match at Stamford Bridge saw reigning champions Chelsea defeated 2-3 by the mighty Burnley.

Gary Cahill’s sending off

Chelsea FC Website:

Then, on 14 minutes, proceedings swung in Burnley’s favour. Cahill, stretching after a heavy touch, missed the ball and caught Steven Defour high.

The sympathetic back story – “stretching after a heavy touch” causing him to “miss the ball” – becomes on the Burnley FC website:

Cahill over-ran the ball and lunged towards Defour in an effort to win it back

The Lancashire Telegraph calls Cahill’s foul a “studs-up tackle”.

The BBC’s Martin Keown says of the foul:

“I think it was a red card, without a doubt. He has gone over the top of the ball. He has almost broke his leg…  I can see why the referee has sent him off. It is dangerous… he is out of control.”

The BBC’s Pat Nevin (formerly Chelsea):

There was no doubt in my mind that as soon as I saw it that challenge deserved some colour of card. My gut? A strong yellow. 

And Cesc Fabregas’s red card?

Chelsea FC:

…the Blues were reduced to nine men, Fabregas the man shown a second yellow for a challenge on Cork. The midfielder was incandescent at the decision.

A challenge? Not exactly, says Burnley FC:

Fabregas collecting a second yellow card for a foul on Cork eight minutes from the end

The Mail reveals how Fabregas earned his first yellow, something not mentioned on the Chelsea FC website:

Fabregas is booked for sarcastically applauding the match official after awarding Burnley a free-kick.

Should a Burnley player have been sent off?

Chelsea FC:

Mee went crunching through the back of Morata and was only booked, much to the disgust of the home faithful and the Chelsea players.

Burnley FC have not a word on that. Mee’s yellow card is not mentioned at all. How does the BBC see it?

More screams from Chelsea fans and players as Ben Mee slides in late on Morata. It was clumsy but not as dangerous as Cahill’s earlier, hence the yellow card.

Such are the facts.

Posted: 12th, August 2017 | In: Back pages, Chelsea, Sports | Comment | Comments RSS feed:RSS 2.0

Dramatic Arsenal winner as Premier League erupts into life

Maybe the Premier League should always begin with an Arsenal home match? Last season the Gunners kicked off with a 3-4 opening day defeat to Liverpool; yesterday Arsenal introduced the 2017-2018 season by beating Leicester City 4-3. Arsenal fans will be hoping the season ahead doesn’t follow more of the familiar late-Wenger disappointments, and that the chief executive’s promise of a “catalyst for change” isn’t just marketing guff.

The match was a thriller. With just seven minutes of normal time remaining, Arsenal were trailing 2-3. Sky Sports pundit and former Manchester United stalwart Gary Neville was delighted after Olivier Giroud’s late header gave Arsenal the win.


gary neville arsenal


And welcome to the Premier League, Alexander Lacazette, Arsenal’s record signing, whose first three touches in the title race went: kick-off, goal, kick-off.

As for any controversy in a game where defending was scarce and far from textbook – Arsenal ended the game with an unusual defence: a midfielder at right back; a right back at left left; and two left backs in the middle – the Gunners’ third goal, which tied that match 3-3, came from a corner. Should it have stood. The Leicester City website says the Foxes were robbed:

…in the 83rd minute Ramsey was left unmarked at the far post and slotted home the equaliser, although replays showed a blatant handball from Mesut Ozil in the build-up to the goal. City just don’t get the rub of the green in north London.

On the look out for media bias, what says the Arsenal website on the same goal?

Aaron Ramsey hauled us level with a firm finish from Granit Xhaka’s delightful pass

More of this until May.

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

Spurs balls: Gareth Bale’s return would be a badge of lunacy

Tottenham fans looking for their club to boost the Premier League’s second best side last term with new players are addressed by the Sun’s Paul Jiggins. Just as pressing f8 on the keyboard has for years given the Sun stories of Cristiano Ronaldo’s imminent return to Manchester United, we now get news of Gareth Bale’s Spurs homecoming:

With Spurs suddenly looking vulnerable, Levy needs to do more than merely ensuring the current playing squad is retained. He needs to make a statement. And there would be no bigger one than taking up the first option Tottenham have on buying back Gareth Bale if and when he becomes available.

‘If’ and ‘when’ might well be words familiar to Spurs fan whose side have one a single trophy this century, but they aren’t exactly the way a savvy operator like Daniel Levy, the club’s chairman, is likely to dwell on.


bale yid


As for buying Bale, perhaps Jiggins could suggest a fee? He continues:

Levy still wears the £86m sale of the Welsh wizard to Real Madrid four years ago as a badge of honour. Buying Bale back would be an even greater one.

Why stop there? Why not get more badges and buy back Luca Modric from Real or get Alexis Sanchez from Arsenal? Well, one issue might be the money. Take Danny Rose, the Tottenham and England defender on £65,000-a-week. Rose watched Kyle Walker leave Spurs for around £50m and secure a £180,000-a-week deal at Manchester City. Tottenham’s Toby Alderweireld is on around £50,000-a-week. The only way Bale will rejoin Spurs is if all parties lose the plot.

PS: Spurs fans I know aren’t overly bothered about who the club didn’t buy. But they are impressed by who they didn’t sell.

Posted: 11th, August 2017 | In: Back pages, News, Sports, Spurs | Comments (3) | Comments RSS feed:RSS 2.0

Transfer balls: Bale to Manchester United for a fee that makes Neymar to PSG look cheap

The summer’s here and with it comes the usual news that Gareth Bale dreams of leaving the heat and glory of Real Madrid for life at Manchester United. Like everyone else, the Star hears Real Madrid president Florentino Perez state the current European champions have no intention of selling Bale, 28, to Manchester United or any other club. “He’s a Madrid player, he’s important for us and he’s one of the world’s best,” says Perez of the Welsh powerhouse bought from Spurs.

But the BBC tells its readers that “privately Perez has told Jose Mourinho that he would be willing to let the Welshman leave”. Got that? Perez told the Manchester United’s manager something in private and the BBC got wind of it. And so did the Daily Express, whose Jack Otway reveals beneath the headline “Real Madrid stunner: Man Utd given green light by Perez to sign Bale after private talks”, that his source is Diario Gol. Slap its story through the prism of Google Translate and you get:

José Mourinho has returned as best he knows to the press rooms: with his provocative instinct. In the previous one of the Supercopa of Europe, the Portuguese technician sent darts poisoned.

One of them went to Florentino Perez. Luso acknowledged that he would be willing to tackle the signing of Gareth Bale. Especially if he sees that his club does not have him.

Mourinho believes that Bale could not be indisputable in Real Madrid. In contrast, the Setubal would secure a place without hesitation in Manchester United.

The two sides have approached positions but lack consensus. A Bale something happens like what happened to Neymar : he wants a club where he is the leader.

Neymar could not be in Barça because he was Messi , and Bale can not be in Madrid while Cristiano Ronaldo. But the case of Welsh is different. The good moment of form of Isco and Marco Asensio make think that not even its site in the initial eleven is guaranteed. Everyone can not play.

That is the main asset of José Mourinho. The United coach wants to persuade him to change his mind. What was not expected was that Florentino entered the rag.

The president of Madrid wants to play and has recognized that if they are willing to pay what it is worth, “Bale is for sale “. The problem is that Neymar has already assessed the market price of Welsh.

Florentino paid 101 million euros for him and will not let him escape for less than 200 million euros. This is how PSG put things and that is what United should study . The cunning of Florentino, with much higher clauses than the Barça has, makes it unfeasible that nobody can pay Bale’s departure . Only a transfer will be negotiated.

In other words, Perez has apparently told Mourinho and Manchester United that if they love Bale so much they can make an offer starting at €200m for him. And they can forget about triggering any escape clause because Perez, the Real Madrid maestro, is no dummy like those negotiators at dread rivals Barcelona who allowed Neymar to slip away to PSG.

If that’s a green light, any drivers reading the Express fact sheet should proceed with extreme caution.


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

Clickbait balls: Southampton’s Virjil can Dijk wants Express move to Liverpool or Arsenal or Chelsea

Transfer balls: news is that Southampton’s Virjil can Dijk no longer thinks Southampton’s ambitions match his own. The defender has asked the Saints to let him know if he can move to a club higher up the pay scale. Liverpool want the Dutchman, but back in June, Southampton alleged the Reds had made an “illegal approach” for him.

Liverpool released a statement:

“Liverpool Football Club would like to put on record our regret over recent media speculation regarding Southampton Football Club and player transfers between the two clubs. We apologise to the owner, board of directors and fans of Southampton for any misunderstanding regarding Virgil van Dijk. We respect Southampton’s position and can confirm we have ended any interest in the player.”


So today the Daily Telegraph declares:

After Virgil van Dijk handed in a stunning, forthright transfer request on Monday, asking that Southampton “consider the interest in me from top clubs should it still exist,” Liverpool will revive their interest in the defender.

But Liverpool ended their interest in the player. Which makes us wonder where the Telegraph sourced its story?

That’s according to reports in the Daily Express this morning, who say Liverpool will not be deterred by the fact Southampton reported them to the Premier League earlier in the summer for their pursuit of Van Dijk.

When the trusty Express is your source, it’s worth a look at what the self-style ‘World’s Greatest Newspaper’ (aka: The Daily Clickbait) has to say. In a word, lots. In the past 24 hours, the Express has spun Virgil’s transfer demand into 24 stories. We’ve picked out the highlights:

  1. Virgil van Dijk: Jim White goes on radio rant at Southampton star
  2. Transfer news: Virgil van Dijk will likely join Chelsea, not Liverpool – journalist
  3. VIRGIL VAN DIJK is likely to join Chelsea and not Liverpool, according to journalist Alex Crook.
  4. VIRGIL VAN DIJK wants out of Southampton and Express Sport bring you live updates on his future as Liverpool, Chelsea and Arsenal chase the defender.
  5. VIRGIL VAN DIJK needs Champions League experience before he can be compared to the likes of Rio Ferdinand, Danny Mills has suggested.
  6. VIRGIL VAN DIJK will not stay at Southampton this summer because player power is too strong, says Jamie Redknapp
  7. VIRGIL VAN DIJK is wanted by Chelsea and Arsenal – who both hope Southampton will refuse to sell him to Liverpool
  8. VIRGIL VAN DIJK is understood to prefer a move to Liverpool over Chelsea after going public with his Southampton transfer request.
  9. LIVERPOOL are ready to revive their £60m move for Virgil van Dijk after the defender went public with an incendiary transfer request.
  10. ROBBIE FOWLER believes Liverpool face a tricky task to bring Virgil van Dijk to Anfield.
  11. Chelsea set to make move for Virgil van Dijk: Antonio Conte assured of three signings
  12. CHELSEA are set to make a firm enquiry with Southampton for Virgil van Dijk with new signings being promised at Stamford Bridge
  13. Chelsea Transfer News LIVE updates: Drinkwater top target, £27m Aurier deal, Van Dijk move


To recap: van Dijk is off to Liverpool, Chelsea and Arsenal.

Posted: 8th, August 2017 | In: Back pages, News, Tabloids | Comment | Comments RSS feed:RSS 2.0

Transfer balls: Liverpool’s Philippe Coutinho agrees to join Barcelona says one unimpeachable source

In football’s arms race, the Star says Barcelona will offer Liverpool £120m for Philippe Coutinho, 25. Is the Brazilian worth the money? Surely not. Indeed, the Sun counters the Star’s offer and says Barcelona believe they can get Liverpool’s bet player for £90m.

Oddly, the Star adds that Barcelona will also buy Chelsea’s Eden Hazard for around £100m. L’Equipe says Ousmane Dembele has agreed to join Barceloan from Borussia Dortmund for £90.2m. Oh,m and for reasons utterly unclear, Barcelona are also recruiting former Tottenham midfielder Paulinho, 29, from Chinese side Guangzhou Evergrande, says.

And finally Bild reports that PSG’s Julian Draxler is also on his way to Barcelona.

Yeah, that’s what we thought – that £199 Barcelona got for Neymar is going a long way.

The story that stands out, though, is that of Liverpool’s Coutinho heading to Spain. Accordign to many news sources, it’s a done dead.

Metro July 26 – “Philippe Coutinho agrees deal to join Barcelona”

The Sun, July 16 – “KOP OUT Philippe Coutinho ‘agrees terms with Barcelona’ leaving club to thrash out £89million deal with Liverpool”

Daily Mail, July 16 – “Philippe Coutinho has agreed terms with Barcelona over a move to La Liga this summer”

Daily Express, August 2 – “PHILIPPE COUTINHO is trying to persuade Jurgen Klopp to let him join BarcelonaBrazilian a step closer to exit after agreeing contract with Catalan giants”

All those report stem from a story on Catalan Radio Station RAC1. It says, according to Spanish site Sport:


As reported by RAC1, Coutinho and Barcelona have everything agreed and now only need to negotiate the amount of transfer that would perceive Liverpool by the sale of Coutinho.

The story contains not a single quote. Which makes you wonder if it’s based on fact or hope. RAC1‘s story, written in Catalan, also contains not a single fact. It does, however, quote a source for its scoop. It’s, er, RAC1:


coutinho barcelona


Such are the facts.




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

Clickbait balls: Indy tricks Arenal fans in Alexis Sanchez story

This was the week when, according to the Daily  Mirror, Alexis Sanchez would tell Arsenal he wanted to leave the club. It’s Saturday and today’s Alexis Sanchez news is that he has, reports the Indy, “set Arsenal a target if 85 points this season in order to challenge for the Premier League title”.


Is that what he said? No. He didn’t say anything. The Indy’s story is total and utter balls. It was Arsene Wenger, Arsenal’s manger, who was talking to media. He opined:

“When you have made 75 points (last season), your target is to get 10 points more. And with 10 points more, you are in there (the title race).”

alexis sanchez arsenal balls Indpendent

As reported in the Indy by Jack Austin


To recap: Sanchez did not set Arsenal a target. He has not pledge to stay at Arsenal, as the story strongly implies. Other than that, it’s correct.

Such are the facts.


Posted: 5th, August 2017 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, Sports | Comment | Comments RSS feed:RSS 2.0

Who is Neymar’s lover? Tabloids haven’t a clue

Bruna Marquezine nude


Brazilian footballer Neymar Junior has moved from Barcelona to PSG, and the tabloids are looking for a love interest. Unable to find one, they instead rest their gaze upon 22-year-old Brazilian actress Bruna Marquezine, who used to date the player. Bruna has 21 million Instagram followers. Discovering her is akin to finding your own arse with both hands.

But the Sun is excited, declaring: “NEYMAR’S world-record Paris Saint-Germain move is not the only reason for fans to be excited.” PSG’s sex-starved fans will be frothing at the lips because in a city short of women Neymar’s former girlfriend Bruna “could follow her man to the City of Love”. This guesswork is cemented in the headline: “Who is Neymar’s girlfriend?” Indeed, who is she? She’s not Bruna Marquezine. One down. A few million more model /actresses to go and the Sun should find her.

After seeing a mere 17 photos of Bruna reaped from her Instagram page, Sun readers might be able to recognise her should she walk past them, but they won’t know anything about her. Toby Gannon’s dossier doesn’t even include her age! (She turned 22 yesterday.)

The Star invites its readers to “click through the gallery to see photos of Neymar’s gorgeous on-off girlfriend Bruna Marquezine”. The Evening Standard’s Fiona Simpson opts to simply rewrite history. The headline above her story boasts: “With the Brazilian set to join PSG, we take a look at the lady in his life”. She isn’t the lady in his life. They are not dating. Indeed, after illuminating her text with a few photos taken from Bruna’s social media accounts, Simpson quotes Neymar: “Me and Bruna are separated.”

Such are the facts.

Posted: 5th, August 2017 | In: Back pages, Celebrities, News, Sports | Comment | Comments RSS feed:RSS 2.0

Transfer balls: Monaco want Sanchez, Arsenal want Lemar, Barcelona pay Neymar’s dad earns more than Messi

More news on Arsenal striker Alexis Sanchez, who has endured a busy summer in the media, joining Paris Saint GermainBayern Munich and Manchester City. He was on his way to Chelseadefinitely staying at Arsenal – who will sell him for £80m – and yesterday kissed the badge on his Arsenal shirt.



On Monday, the Daily Mirror told readers Sanchez would put in a transfer request this week. It’s Friday. He hasn’t.

Today’s news is that he could be on his way to Monaco. The French champions will bid £45m for the Chilean, says the Metro. The Express says Barcelona, rolling in filthy lucre since Neymar let for PSG, will try to bring Sanchez back to Spain. Incidentally, did you know that Neymar’s father has reaped more money from Barcelona in the last four years than Lionel Messi has? It’s true. And it illustrates just how over-hyped football is.

Meanwhile the Sun reasons that Monaco will use Arsenal’s interest in their midfielder, Thomas Lemar, “to try to tempt” the Gunners into lobbing Sanchez into a swap deal.

Unless they don’t.



Posted: 4th, August 2017 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, News, Sports | Comment | Comments RSS feed:RSS 2.0

Clickbait balls: Lemar’s Arsenal hint

What is the “hint” being “dropped ” by Monaco’s Thomas Lemar that he’s on his way to Arsenal? Has he been spotted signing contracts in Alexis Sanchez’s Paris hotel?

You click on The Metro’s scoop and are told: “Lemar liked a training picture of Lacazette with Mesut Ozil and Danny Welbeck posted by the striker on Tuesday.”

And? And nothing. Lacazette, the paper continues, “is good friends with Lemar”.

Such are the facts.



Posted: 2nd, August 2017 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, Sports | Comment | Comments RSS feed:RSS 2.0