Sports news, commentary and scores with wit and added value. We compare and contrast the best and worst sports reporting in the mainstream press, blogs, TV and online. We love the English Premier League (Arsenal, Liverpool, Spurs, Manchester United and Manchester City) and all things football but we cover cricket, rugby, the Olympics, tennis, golf, F1 and highlights of the sporting year.
Spurs and England’s nasty Dele Alli isn’t like Arsenal’s filthy foreigner Granit Xhaka – he’s brave and British
Dele Alli plays for Spurs. He’s British. Granit Xhaka plays for Arsenal. He’s Swiss. According to former Liverpool captain Graeme Souness, both possess a “nasty streak”. For one of them it’s a blessing. For the other it’s a curse.
On February 26, Souness noticed Ali’s red card for an awful foul against Ghent in the Europa League that earned him a red card.
‘It was nasty and unnecessary, born out of frustration,’ wrote Souness in the Sunday Times. ‘He really snapped into it, intending to leave a bit on the guy, so he got what he deserved with the red card. Yet that’s also one of the reasons he could become a top player. Alli has a bit of devil in him, an edge that most top players possess. As strange as it sounds, if I was his manager, I’d be quietly saying to myself: “Thank goodness he’s got that in him.”
A bad foul is sign you’re a top player.
When Granit Xhaka was sent for Arsenal against Burnley, Souness took a different view. On January 25 he wrote: ‘What isn’t registering with him? He’s obviously got the exploding head. I don’t look at him and think, ‘you’re an aggressive player’. It’s a lapse in concentration and he’ll be annoyed he gave the ball away so cheaply. For me, he doesn’t run around making aggressive challenges. He is the run of mill midfield player for me. He must have something in him where it goes.”
If you’re British and playing in your home country, a bad foul is sign of your mental toughness. If you’re foreign and playing overseas, a bad foul is sign of your mental weakness.
When Manchester United won the EFL cup with a lucky* 3-2 win against Southampton, Liverpool fans gnashed their teeth and made room on the the winner’s podium for their greatest foe.
Before Manchester United won the season’s first tin pot, Liverpool were, according to the club’s twitter bio, ‘England’s most successful club with 41 major honours’. Todays win was Man United 41st title. And rather than being ‘England’s joint most successful club’, Liverpool just removed all reference to their haul.
*It was lucky. I’m a big football fan. But the game is hideously flawed, corrupt and founded on greed. Fighting Southampton scored a perfectly good goal that for specious reasons was not given. It should have been the game’s opening goal. As Gary Neville opined from the commentary box that United hard endured ‘three hard years’ since Alex Ferguson’s retirement, a Crystal Palace supporting friend of mine noted, “Nothing worse than losing at Wembley to a club for whom the trophy is just a consolation prize.”
Today was a big deal for Southampton. They and their fans deserved better.
Having lost his job at Sutton FC for eating a pie in the dug-out at odds of 8-1, ‘roly-poly goalie’ Wayne Shaw is today pictured eating lots more pies in the Sun. The paper loves Wayne. After all, it was Sun Bets, the paper’s betting wing, which offered odds that seemed so tasty to Shaw’s pals. He didn’t bet. But they did. The game was brought into disrepute. Rules governing betting rules were broken.
Shaw, a man prone to depression, offered his resignation after what predictably became known as pie-gate. Shaw’s former manager told BBC Radio 5 live that Wayne was “crying” on the phone and “very, very sorry about the whole situation”. The Sun talked of ‘fan fury’ of her ‘sacking’.
Good to see, then, that the Sun is sticking by their man and getting him working as a pie taster. It is Wayne Shaw’s ‘new career’. ‘My football career may be on hold, ‘says Wayne optimistically, ‘but I’m not letting it stop me exploring new opportunities.’
It’ll be interesting to see how long the Sun can keep this going until it feels that any debt has been repaid.
And so it came to pass that nine months after leading Leicester City to an unlikely Premier League title – the Foxes upset odds of 5,000-1 – the club’s owners have sacked Claudio Ranieri.
Leicester have won just five matches this season. They have failed to score a league goal in 2017. So Ranieri goes because it’s cheaper to sack him than it is to get rid of the failing players. The owners care more for Premier League TV money than glory and continuity.
Leicester City vice-chairman Aiyawatt Srivaddhanaprabha has issued a statement:
“This has been the most difficult decision we have had to make in nearly seven years since King Power took ownership of Leicester City. But we are duty-bound to put the club’s long-term interests above all sense of personal sentiment, no matter how strong that might be.”
A harder decision than this one: in September, Leicester City chairman Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha put himself on the matchday programme instead of manager Claudio Ranieri. The club’s first ever home Champions League match was down to one man. Ranieri was notable by his absence. Personal sentiment does not come last at the King Power.
The statement continues:
“Claudio has brought outstanding qualities to his office. His skilful management, powers of motivation and measured approach have been reflective of the rich experience we always knew he would bring to Leicester City. His warmth, charm and charisma have helped transform perceptions of the club and develop its profile on a global scale. We will forever be grateful to him for what he has helped us to achieve.”
Outstanding. Skilful. Motivating. Measured. A World leader. Transformative. SACKED!
“It was never our expectation that the extraordinary feats of last season should be replicated this season. Indeed, survival in the Premier League was our first and only target at the start of the campaign. But we are now faced with a fight to reach that objective and feel a change is necessary to maximise the opportunity presented by the final 13 games.”
You can’t but think that Ranieri’s well shot them.
But at least the Leicester City revolution continues. Last season most fans wanted them to win the title. This season we’d be pretty pleased if they were relegated.
Manchester United will finally get shot of Wayne Rooney when he moves to China and learns the Chinese for ‘**** ***!’. Of course it’s good news – one in the eye for those who say English footballers are too thick, greedy, cosseted, aloof and superficial to play abroad. Rooney, who will earn £750,000-a-week, is expanding his cultural horizons, and instead of swapping chapped thighs and being called a lump for a seat by one of TV-land’s illuminated coffee tables, he’ll take his Premier League nous to football’s Chinese mission.
He goes too with Coleen Rooney, who would be well advised to note that not every Hermes bag is the genuine article in the Far East. She runs the risk of pushing a trolley-load of over-priced fakes towards the airport’s Duty Free zone.
Rooney will be missed, of course, not least of all by the media, which has mocked, ridiculed, insulted and sneered at the best English footballer of his generation for years. Rather than see Rooney as the best part of a poor side, they fetishised his presence so that every match was about him. The same media that called Rooney an idiot now deride his likely choice to play in China, a place portrayed as holding less cultural appeal than a wet weekend in his native Croxteth.
When the Sun Bets bookmakers sponsored Sutton for their home FA Cup match against Arsenal (final score: – 0- 2), they offered odds of 8-1 that the home side’s home reserve goalkeeper Wayne Shaw would eat a pie during the match.
Given that Shaw’s in the ‘big lad’ territory of players, Sun Bets could have offered a spread of how many pies, tubes of Rolos, lamb bhunas and ‘cheeky’ kebabs he’d eat inside the 90 minutes. As chance had it, Shaw did eat a pie, and because the game was being broadcast live on the BBC, we all got to see him do it. Shaw later admitted that ‘pals’ had placed money on the bet, which, says the Sun, were offered at a £5 maximum stake. The Mail says Sun Bets ‘tweeted that it had paid out a five-figure sum after Shaw finished his pie’.
For his (hunger) pains, Shaw was sacked for breaching FA rules concerned with betting on any “aspect of, or occurrence in” a football match. The Sun says on its front page that Shaw was ‘Hung out To Pie’. Shaw was handed his ‘Pie 45’.
The Sun calls it pathetic. So outraged is the paper that nearly all the media are talking about its Sun Bets (the Mirror doesn’t mention the company by name in any of its reports) – that’s S.U… – it calls on some unlikely comrades. Sun readers hear from Piers Morgan – for whom Shaw’s sacking “sums up the pathetically PC-crazed world” – and the BBC’s Gary Linker – “FFS!”.
Sun Bets says its investigating and working with the Gambling Commission, which is doing the same.
Shaw helps them out by noting his ‘pie’ was a ‘pastry’. Sun Bets says a pie is a “filling totally encased in pastry”. So it paid out. But, then, it’s the big winner in a sad story of greed.
To the anti-Trump protest at Whitehall, London. Some people would like the UK to rescind the invitation for Donald Trump to tread the red carpet with Her Majesty. They say Donald Trump being met by the Queen would be embarrassing. No, not for the elected leader of the world’s greatest republic, but for the hereditary leader of the feudal landed gentry.
Anyhow, the best bit of the protest, which has zero chance of achieving its aims, is the Arsenal fan who showed off his anti-Arsene Wenger banner.
Talksis of Wenger lasting four more years, much like Trump. Which one garners the most protests is up to you.
It’s been a few days since Arsenal lot to the world’s third best side in Munich. Experts cited the 5-1 drubbing to Bayern as a sign that Arsenal manger Arsene Wenger had to go. Arsenal were woeful in Germany, a side devoid of guile, diligence, spirit, cohesion and drive surrendered meekly, albeit to stella opponents.Whereas once the Gunner would have sought continuity, a handing of the baton from Wenger to his successor in style and spirit, the only way forward was to trigger wholesale change.
But the clamour for Wenger to do the decent thing and leave at the season’s end, if not immediately, has been hasty and delusional. England club sides to not rule in Europe. Placed in context, Arenal’s thrashing was more of the same, rather than a sudden downward turn. Did any Arsenal fans believe the Gunners were on track to win the Champions’ League? Coming top four in the Premier League is not a passport to the last four of Europeans football’s biggest club competition.
To further realise how palsied the PL has become, you need only look at what happened one night after Arsenal’s undoing. Spurs fans revelling in Arenal’s failure watched their team lose to the mighty Gent, a team sat in mid-table in Belgian’s Division A. Losing to Bayern in Munich or losing to Gent in Belgian – which is worse result? Add to that Spurs early demise in the Champions’ League and Arsenal coming top of group containing Paris Saint Germain and are things so very bleak at The Emirates?
Of course, it’s Sutton in the FA Cup tonight. Lost that and, well, the ground’s not all that far from Gatwick Airport. Taxi for Wenger!
Arsene Wenger will remain Arsenal manager for the next four years. Arsenal have offered Wenger a two-year extension on his current deal, which expires in the summer. So how does the Daily Star know Wenger will sign a four-year deal?
‘Arsene Wenger wants to stay at Arsenal for four more years,’ says the paper.
And what of that growing list of names lined up to replace Wenger when this season ends?
The story is based on a comment Wenger made when asked to compare his career to that of Sir Alex Ferguson. Said Wenger: “Ferguson has some other interests in life and he was older than I am today. He was four years older, he retired at 71 and I’m 67.”
So will Wenger continue to manager beyond 71? “Maybe more, maybe less, I don’t know,” he said.
Stick that through the spin machine and the Star says Wenger will be Arsenal boss until he’s 71.
The Guardian hears that and thunders: ‘Arsène Wenger hints he could stay at Arsenal for at least four more years.’
The Mirror interprets the same Wenger line to mean: ‘Arsene Wenger will carry on managing for another four years – even if he leaves Arsenal this summer.’
If he leaves this summer? The Mirror said he was going.
Such are the facts in the post-truth media.
By now you’ll be wondering what Harry Redknapp has been up to? The resting manager is talking abut Spurs on BT Sport. Redknapp is aghast that now-one came in for Dele Alli when he was at Milton Keynes Dons. Why did it take so long for Spurs to sign the tyro for £5m?
“Can you tell me how all those scouts failed to spot him when he was playing for MK Dons every week?” asks Redknapp. “How did they end up waiting until Tottenham came in for him?”
Spurs were not the only club to take a look at Alli. In fact, one club was managed by – get this – Harry Redknapp. Ten months ago, Redknapp opined: “I scouted Dele Alli several times as did a lot of other clubs but with a view to the future.”
Redknapp cites the moment when all the clubs should have got Alli. “Didn’t he play for MK Dons against Manchester United when they beat them 4-0 in the League Cup?” he asks. “United should have signed him there and then.”
That was August 26 2014 – when Redknapp was manger of QPR, then of the Premier League. Presumably the player Redknapp values at £100m wasn’t good enough for QPR.
Such are the facts.
Arsenal were thrashed in the Champions’ League. Again. Tonked 5-1 by a lively Bayern Munich side, Arsenal were limper than a post-coitus slug. The reporting has been fierce, with much of the chatter concerned with the timing of Arsene Wenger’s departure. The Arsenal manager’s inability to inspire his side is clear.
But Wenger remains the Arsenal owners’ dream man. He delivers big cash pay outs and high returns for the money men that run the club. In the boardroom everything is fine, a mood reflected in the match report on the Arsenal website, which begins thus:
We are facing a mammoth task to turn around our Champions League last-16 tie against Bayern Munich after conceding four times in a disappointing second half in Bavaria.
Arsenal conceded five times in total. The Pollyanna-ish notion that Arsenal will some how ‘turn things round’ is laughable. It was not ‘disappointing’. It was terrible.
The site adds:
Laurent Koscielny’s injury at the start of the second half seemed to disrupt us, and we conceded twice in the space of six minutes.
When Koscielny went off, the entire defence wilted. Kieran Gibbs was made captain. A player with marginally less presence than the sixth official was picked to galvanise the team and keep the defence tight.
And a word on Bayern:
Bayern, meanwhile, were without Franck Ribery and Jerome Boateng, but fielded a star-studded team containing the likes of Lewandowski, Douglas Costa and Robben.
Arsenal fielded the likes of Ozil (£41m), Sanchez (£35m) and two players bought in the summer for in excess of £30m each. Aren’t Arsenal now also star-studded? None of the three Bayern players name-checked cost more than £20m.
So how does Bayern Munich report on the match that Arsenal were ‘disappointing’ in? Their official website tells us:
On-fire Bayern thrash outclassed Gunners
The five goals ‘handed the German record champions a near-unassailable advantage in the first knockout round tie’.
The Gunners’ goal came after a penalty. The Arsenal website says Koscielny was ‘tripped’ . The Bayern site calls it a ‘debatable penalty’.
The other debate is on Wenger. Will he now leave Arsenal – after all, it looks like the players have already left him?
Clickbait: a look at the death of journalism in the national Press. The Daily Mirror has adopted the Daily Telegraph policy of making news out of TV listings. In readiness for Arsenal’s Champions’ League match against Germany’s Bayern Munich the Mirror has produced the following ‘stories’. All were written today:
Scoop 1! ‘What time is Bayern Munich vs Arsenal? All you need to know ahead of Champions League clash’
Scoop 2: ‘What channel is Bayern Munich vs Arsenal on? All you need to know ahead of Champions League clash’
That could be one story, no?
Scoop 3: ‘Bayern Munich vs Arsenal LIVE: All the build-up ahead of the Champions League clash in Germany’
Scoop 4: ‘Bayern Munich vs Arsenal: 11 things you need to know ahead of the Champions League clash‘
The list is great.
1. When is the match and how can I watch it?
Scoop 5: ‘7 things Arsene Wenger could learn from Carlo Ancelotti ahead of Bayern Munich v Arsenal’
Number 1: ‘Winning the Champions League helps your reputation’
Scoop 6: ‘Arsene Wenger is 50/50 over Arsenal stay – the Bayern Munich result could decide his future’
Well, it could do. And, on the other hand, it could not do. Or as the Mirror puts it:
Scoop 7; ‘9 funniest reactions to Arsenal fans watching long-time target Julian Draxler destroy Barcelona’
It really is that bad.
What are we to make of Liverpool Football Club’s ban on Sun journalists attending matches in an official capacity and press conferences? The Sun is also banned from conducting exclusive interviews with Liverpool FC managers or players.
The ban is rooted, of course, in the Sun’s infamous front-page coverage of the 1989 Hillsborough disaster, in which the paper amplified the State’s and the police’s lies that the 96 people killed at the match were architects of their own demise. The dead were framed and defiled when the media and police colluded in the State’s assault on football fans.
A spokesman for Total Eclipse of the S*n – the group states ‘It is our belief that the 96 victims of the Hillsborough disaster should never be forgotten. It is our belief that The Sun newspaper should never be forgiven’ – tells the Liverpool Echo: “Further to conversations with LFC directors we are happy to inform you that S*n journalists are no longer enjoy access to all club premises.”
The Sun behaved badly. But did we swallow its lies? Did we believe the police? Did the ‘working class scum stuffed into cages’ by the State, paying for a “slum sport watched by slum people in slum stadiums” take it as fact that police had been urinated on, the dead had been robbed and the Liverpool fans were guilty?
In 2012, a Guardian its told readers:
There is no bitterness on my part that the public took 23 years to wake up to our nightmare. Their ignorance was their faith in the media and in the police. This has suffered a huge blow and the fact surely cannot go unnoticed by Lord Justice Leveson. I also hope, as a southerner, that the people of Liverpool will no longer be subjected to the lazy, callous stereotypes peddled off the back of the Sun’s lies.
Lies become reasons for censorship and to slap the tabloids down. Tabloid readers must be protected from their own ignorance. And – irony of ironies – the Guardian is happy for the State to police the liars it fed. Hillsborough did not happen in a bubble. The Sun was appalling but it did not have a hand in the killing. It did not send for the dogs instead of the ambulances. It was not the coroner declaring people dead before they were dead.
The deaths were accidental. But they were the result of a top-down policy that portrayed and treated football fans as scum.
Margaret Thatcher’s Government wanted fans – what one Tory called “the yob class” – to carry ID cards. (One doctor present at Hillsborough said the only difference ID cards could have made that day was to make it easier to identify the young corpses.) In June 1986, Thatcher gave ‘thanks to the police’ for ‘bringing good behaviour and good crowd behaviour to football over this last year’. Baron Peter Hill-Naugton, admiral of the fleet, said football was “a slum game played by louts in front of hooligans”. Football fans were the Untermenschen on which all new methods of control could be tested. The police and State presented football as a public order issue.
One week after the horror The Economist told readers that the ‘common view’ of football was of a sport ‘irredeemably tied to the old industrial north, yobs and slum cultures of the stricken inner cities – everything, in fact, that modern Britain aspires to put behind it.’
Knowing that Hillsborough happened in the context of so many wrongs, you still want the State and its police force to control the Press, to dictate the message?
Have the elites apologised for demonising football fans? Did you think it odd that the United Nations – no kidding – voiced its worry when Chelsea fans stopped a black man from boarding a train in Paris? On the day that story broke, the Guardian produced nine stories on it. One of the Guardian’s myriad reports on the nastiness said it was typical of football and football fans because it’s ‘all about feeling that you’re part of one group and are opposed to another group, [which is] the mentality of the racist’.
Bash the Sun by all means but ask yourself what’s changed? Why are football fans still treated as suspects?
In 2012, the Sun apologised for its ‘blackest day’. But it failed to put the results of the inquest into the disaster that cleared the dead of blame on the front page. The victims had been “unlawfully killed”. A mere 27 years of campaigning for justice by their families, the victims had been forced to prove their innocence. Hideous. They still await justice in any true sense of the word. All the dead, the injured, the hurt and their loved ones got was to see the police lies demolished in a court of law. Time ticks on and still no-one has been placed in the dock.
As we await justice, maybe Liverpool FC should ban the police and all politicians from the ground, the people who ask not what they can do for Hillsborough but what the disaster can do for them? Maybe Liverpool should ban the Sun’s publisher’s, too? That would mean banning News Corp., the company that owns 39.1% of BSkyB, which in February 2015, successfully bid £4.2bn for a package of 120 premier league games across the three seasons from 2016. News Corp wants to take control of BSkyB. If it does, will Liverpool ban it, too?
Banning the Sun is easy. It costs nothing. Banning the cameras costs big.
A Sun spokesperson has responded to the ban: “The Sun and Liverpool FC have had a solid working relationship for the 28 years since the Hillsborough tragedy. Banning journalists from a club is bad for fans and bad for football.”
Banning things is par for the course at football grounds today. Don’t sing that. Don’t stand up. Put that down. The cages are gone but the fans are watched even more closely.
Is Anthony Martial all set to make the move from Manchester United to Spurs? The Mirror says Martial is on course to become the first player to make the move from Manchester United to Spurs since Teddy Sheringham sealed the lid on his medal cabinet and returned to White Hart Lane on a free transfer in 2001.
Spurs are on the up, but however large their stadium gets and their squad swells they will always be a smaller club than Manchester United and win less, if anything. Add the lack to gongs to a reduction in wages and the Mirror’s story is absurd.
Staying with Manchester United and the Mirror, news is that Atletico Madrid’s Antoine Griezmann, 25, is having “doubts” about moving the England. Not that the France forward ever said he was keen to leave Spain in the first place. Greizmann told French radio:
“With Real Sociedad, I felt that I needed to leave. For the moment, I do not know where that desire came from. Who knows how the season will finish. If it finishes badly, maybe I will ask myself the question. For the moment, it is not relevant…
“Aside from that, I am asking myself where I could go. In Spain, there is Barcelona and Real Madrid. Barcelona have the three up top. Real Madrid, that is impossible because of the club I am at. I think that between them, there is a pact.
“Germany, the league does not attract me much. France, not for the moment. And England, I have a lot of doubts about my private life. Everything like rain, bad weather… I need to feel happy outside.”
What’s wrong with rain, low skies, having the Press label your lover a ‘WAG’ , making the obligatory trip to Wing’s Chinese eatery in the full glare of the cameras and living in a mock Tudor mansion behind huge gates on a footballer-friendly estate in the provinces? Where’s his sense of romance?
Last up in this Manchester United round-up is David de Gea. On the heels of news that the former Atletico Madrid ‘keeper is in line for a move to Real Madrid – so much for any transfer between the two big Madrid clubs being “impossible” – are reports that he wants a big hike in his £200,000-a-week pay packet, asking for £300,000-a-week.
Expect to read that a Chinese club you’ve never hear of are offering him more.
What names are on the ‘shortlist of managers’ to replace Arsene Wenger at Arsenal? The Mirror says there are four names vying to be the next Arsenal manager. They are: Thomas Tuchel of Borussia Dortmund, Max Allegri of Juventus, Bayer Leverkusen coach Roger Schmidt and Monaco’s Leonardo Jardim.
But others have been to the job in the past 12 months. They are:
Eddie Howe: ‘ED HUNTED Eddie Howe being lined up by Arsenal to replace manager Arsene Wenger with Frenchman’s contract set to expire in summer’ (The Sun).
Roberto Martinez: ‘His team to play the sort of passing style that Arsene Wenger has established as Arsenal’s identity and conducts himself with the sort of style and dignity that very much fits with what directors would call the Arsenal way (Daily Telegraph)
Rafa Benitez: ‘Rafa Benitez on Arsenal shortlist to replace Arsene Wenger if he goes – and Spaniard would bring in Thierry Henry.’ (Daily Mirror)
Dennis Bergkamp, Diego Simeone and more possible Arsene Wenger replacements. (TalkSport)
Patrick Vieira: A candidate embedded in the supposed Arsenal Way. Like Bergkamp, his arrival back at the club would be enthusiastically welcomed by supporters.’ (Daily Telegraph)
Ralph Hasenhuttl: ‘A surprise candidate, Hasenhuttl hinted recently that Arsenal had spoken to him about the big job at the Emirates.’ (The Independent)
Ha. This is absolute tosh. When asked is he was heading to Arsenal, Hasenhuttl said: “I have certainly heard of far worse fates than to be lined up as the successor to the longest-serving coach in England.”
Steve Bould: ‘Knows the players and club inside out. Won various trophies, including the Premier League, during his playing career with Arsenal.’ (Daily Mirror)
Joachim Lowe: ‘Proven winner. Led the German side to World Cup glory in 2014 after impressive showings at the Euros two years earlier.’ (Daily Mirror)
‘Arsenal want Manuel Pellegrini to replace Arsene Wenger’. (Metro)
Ronald Koeman ‘is the surprise name topping Arsenal’s list of potential successors to Arsene Wenger’. (The Sun)
Laurent Blanc ‘to replace his compatriot at Arsenal’ (TalkSport)
Brendan Rodgers: ‘His work at Swansea has greatly impressed and is also committed to the sort of football that Wenger has overseen at Arsenal.’ (Daily Telegraph)
Jorge Sampaoli: Chile’s Copa America winning coash signed a two-year deal with Sevilla last years but Arsenal should be able to extricate him for it” – (The Times)
Mauricio Pochettino: ‘The Spurs manger would spend more then Wenger has bene willing to but not more than the club could handle’ (The Times)
Sean Dyche: ‘As the great debacle rages about who will eventually replace Arsene Wenger, it’s amazing that one boss keeps getting overlooked.’ It’s Dyche.
So to that list. What says the Number 1 choice, Thomas Tuchel? It’s “completely fictional”, says the German club’s chief executive Hans-Joachim Watzke (Sun).
Such are the facts.
Media Bias: Arsenal beat Hull City 2-0 in the Premier League. The first Arsenal goal went in off Alexis Sanchez’s hand. The second was from the penalty spot – Hull City’s Sam Clucas was sent off for a handball on the line from Lucas Perez’s header.
In another incident, debate raged over whether or not Arsenal’s Kieran Gibbs have been sent off?
What says the media? Is there any noticeable bias in the reporting?
Hull defender Andrew Robertson tells Sky Sports: “The referee apologised to us after half-time and said it was a handball. He obviously realises he was in the wrong.”
It’s been coming, Arsenal deserve it, but it’s handball…. As Sanchez goes in for the ball with Eldin Jakupovic, it bounces up and hits the Arsenal man on the hand, then goes in. Not noticeable at first glance, but clear as day on the replay.
Shamoon Hafez for the BBC:
Sanchez did not look like he purposefully pushed the ball into the net and he had little time to move out of the way after the ball came off Jakupovic.
After consultation with his assistant, referee Mark Clattenburg awarded the goal, but prior to that in the first half, Theo Walcott had a shot blocked by the hand of Clucas inside the area, for which no penalty was given.
Do two wrongs make a right?
Kieran Gibbs saw his low shot cleared off the line, but Alexis tucked home from close range, even if it did appear to bounce in off his hand.
Well, that’s how it ‘appeared’. The Arsenal website does not mention the ref’s apology.
Hull City website:
Report: Key Decisions Go Against Tigers In Defeat At Arsenal
No word on the Walcott handball. But the goal is described thus: “…a fortunate rebound fell to Sanchez and he managed to bundle the ball into the net although replays appeared to show the final touch was with his hand.”
The ref’s apology is mentioned.
Hull Daily Mail:
Arsenal’s heavy pressure resumed after the half-hour mark with Walcott blocked by Sam Clucas, but the visitors’ dam eventually broke in the 34th minute as the Gunners benefitted from a huge slice of fortune.
Not handball as the BBC said of Walcott’s shot, but ‘blocked’. As for the goal:
Panic stations in the City box saw Andy Robertson clear off the line to deny Kieran Gibbs but when Sanchez was initially denied by Jakupovic’s block, the ball bounced up and deflected in off the Chilean’s hand. Mark Clattenburg consulted with his assistant only to inexplicably deem the handball had been accidental.
The Red Card That Wasn’t:
Peter Swan, Hull City defender on BBC Radio Humberside: “Referee! What a dreadful decision! Kieran Gibbs was the last man, no-one near him, and he’s brought Lazar Markovic down. It’s a sending off, simple as. And Mark Clattenburg has recently been voted the best referee in the world? What?”
Hull Daily Mail:
Markovic was a regular nuisance for the Gunners defence and City were again ruing Clattenburg when a run clear on goal was curtailed by Gibbs 35 yards out. A yellow card for the Arsenal full-back was another mystifying call.
Hull Daily Mail:
Arsenal should also have been reduced to 10 men when Lazar Markovic was brought down by Kieran Gibbs as he burst through on goal in a second half controlled by the Tigers
The Arsenal website:
Gibbs followed him [Walcott] into the book after hauling back the breaking Lazar Markovic. The two incidents brought the Emirates crowd to life, and Arsenal responded.
No word on any red card as the official Arsenal website puts a positive spin on the action. Hull were not robbed so much as Arsenal fans were roused.
The red card that was:
Well, he had to go. All news sources agree. But Hull were hard done by.
As Liverpool prepare to host Spurs in the Premier League’s one-horse race – Chelsea are miles ahead – the Sun brings news that Liverpool player Adam Lallana is ‘set to miss crunch clash with Spurs after being left out of tactical training drills’. He’s been ‘dropped’.
Do any Liverpool fans read the Sun online? That headline news sure is tempting. But we’ll save you the pain. The story is that ‘Lifelong Reds fan’ Micky Quinn told TalkSport listeners Lallana ‘was not involved in drills this week by Jurgen Klopp’.
Has he been dropped. Is he being rested? Is Quinn talking balls? The very next line tells us:
ADAM LALLANA looks set to miss Liverpool’s crunch clash with Tottenham this weekend after claims he has been left out of some tactical training sessions.
And as Quinn says, deep into the story: “…whether he’s going to dropped, I’m not too sure.”
Or as The Liverpool Echo puts it:
Lallana, meanwhile, was left out of training on Thursday as a precaution due to a tight muscle, but the Reds hope he will respond well to treatment and take his place in the side this weekend.
Such are the facts.
Transfer balls: the Mail reports that Arsenal are eyeing Joe Hart, the England goalkeeper. Hart, a man with of all the cool of a wasabi enema, is tempting Arsenal because at 29 he’s five years young than Petr Cech, the current Arsenal Number 1. Hart is playing in Turin, having been loaned out by Manchester City.
But why wold Arsenal be looking to replace Cech, let alone with Hart? The Mail says Cech’s days as the Arsenal Number 1 ‘are coming to an end’. But this looks a lot like guesswork based on his age and nothing else.
Cech joined Arsenal on a “long-term contract” in June 2015.
Last season, the Mail was telling its readers, ‘Petr Cech in line to be next Arsenal captain after making huge impact in his first season following summer switch from Chelsea.’
Such are the facts.
The Sun continues to work as an extension of Jose Mourinho Inc., telling readers: ‘Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho is bringing back the glory days after matching a record last achieved by Sir Alex Ferguson.’
Still in his first season at Man United, Jose’s yet to win anything. United are sixth in the Premier League. Given the vast sums lashed out on ‘the brand’ which now values stars over continuity, you wonder what the Sun are driving at. And then it comes: the glory days amount to Manchester United going more than ten league games unbeaten, something David Moyes and Louis van Gaal failed to achieve in the post-Ferguson era.
Under the peerless Ferguson, Manchester United twice managed to go 29 league games without defeat. That was a record. Mourinho’s recent run isn’t.
The Sun then adds a dig at Van Gaal:
…the Dutch legend could do nothing to stem the tide, with United consistently churning out a display or dreary performances across his two terms, finishing well adrift of the leading pack in both.
Van Gaal was no great success, but in two seasons at the club his Manchester sides qualified for the Champions League once and missed out on goal difference once. Under Van Gaal, United finished 17 points and 15 points behind the PL champions, respectively. Under Mourinho, United are 14 points behind the current leaders.
The glory days are back, indeed.
Is it a crime to be famous? This week, two stories about blackmail have occupied the Sun’s front page.
The first is the matter of messages hacked from a server that handles David Beckham’s emails. The hackers wanted money to make the ‘leaks’ go away. The company being targeted complained and the emails were delivered to a site that specialises in ‘leaked’ material.
In a few emails, David Beckham allegedly uses industrial language to complain about his lack of a knighthood. He comes out of it badly. But he’s the victim, right? We love the chatter and the details, but surely we can agree that he’s a victim of an apparent crime?
We love to learn that Beckham obtained a high court injunction in December 2016 blocking the emails’ publication in the Sunday Times – a waste of money and effort given that overseas organs published the stuff online. One Romanian outlet detailed Beckham’s ‘angry pursuit of a knighthood’, which included, as the Guardian notes, the former footballer allegedly calling the gong-givers “a bunch of cunts” after he was overlooked for the honour.
It’s all a good read. We can an insight into Beckham’s non-choreographed activities. But he’s the victim.
The second story is on Danny Cipriani, a rugby player. He was blackmailed by a stripper he impregnated. The story goes that he agreed to give her some money for a termination but then failed to cough up. Lisa Murphy, for it is she, had the abortion. When she was forced to miss work, due to health complications, she asked him for money, which again he did not pay. Murphy and her colleague, Violet Smith, 29, then threatened to go to the papers with the story, namely to The Sun on Sunday. Cipriani called the police.
And how does the Sun cover the story?
Is the law different if you’re famous?
Kidd says that following Arsenal’s limp defeat to table-topping Chelsea, Wenger was complaining about the Blues’ first goal. He said it was dangerous play and the goal should not have stood. Kidd thinks Wenger’s operating ‘on Trump-style alternative facts’.
Marcos Alonso, says Kidd, ‘leaped like a normal person rather than pogo-ing with his arms by his side, like us Sex Pistols fans were doing at Manchester’s Free Trade Hall in 1976‘.
In October 2016, Sports Journalists, the website of the Sports Journalists’ Association, noted Kidd’s arrival at the Sun, ‘a return to where his national career started as a freelance 20 years ago.’
“It’s a great honour to follow them,” said Kidd. “My predecessor told me I was only the fourth chief sports writer on the paper and two of them, Steve Howard and John Sadler, were hugely encouraging when I was a rookie. I’m delighted to be going back to the paper where my national career started as a 22-year-old.”
If in 1996, Kidd was 22 in 1976 he’d have been a very young Sex Pistols fan.
Maybe it’s not only Wenger living in a post-Truth world?
The Sun continues to link Antoine Griezmann with a move to Manchester United. In ‘MAD FOR IT’, the paper’s lead sports story is that Atletico Madrid’s star striker ‘wants to be the new Becks’. Griezmann has ‘dropped a hint’ he wants to play for Man United.
He did? No. The only person talking is Griezmann’s ‘image advisor’ Sebastien Bellencontre, who, according to the Sun ,’says Griezmann wants to follow hero David Beckham by wearing the iconic No7 shirt at the Theatre of Drams.’ He doesn’t want to follow his hero (?) Beckham to Real Madrid, PSG or LA Galaxy. The Frenchman wants to be Beckham II at Old Trafford.
In the fifth paragraph of the story continued four pages inside the Sun, readers get to hear what the marketing man actually said. Bellencontre told So Foot magazine: “When I read articles about a hypothetical transfer to Manchester United I think it would be the ideal commercial scenario.”
Feel the passion, United fans. But not everyone will be non-plussed. Whereas Ferguson went for continuity, the current Manchester United hierarchy wants only to buy big, buy bigger and buy biggest. Bellencontre is talking their language. “I don’t like the fact that there are consistently more players from Spain on the [Ballon d’Or shortlist],” said Manchester United’s chief executive Ed Woodward. “We as a club should be aspiring to have the best players playing for us.” Not the best team. The players with the biggest public profiles. The players who can flog stuff best.
What the Sun doesn’t report is that Bellencontre also said (and this via Google translate):
“He would play club Beckham, his idol, with the same legendary number 7 in the back … Still without any consideration sport, PSG would be interesting to Franco-French level, but it has already happened to International … ”
So he quite fancies PSG, then.
Le Figaro has more from Bellencontre (again via Google translate):
“The model would be a mixture of Beckham and Zidane. Beckham because it is his idol, but also because I would like to make it a fashion icon that survives his career. Zidane for French DNA, simplicity, family values, fidelity too … We want Antoine to finish his career at Puma for example. (…) For the Beckham card, the young European blonde, tattooed, talented. (…)
On ESPN, Bellencontre is billed as Griezmann’s ‘former image consultant’. Although on his company website and twitter bio, Bellencontre is billed as Griezmann’s branding guru.
The upshot is that is should United opt to throw the best part of £100m at Griezmann, they won’t just get a striker, they will get a striker with Zidane’s hair and fashion nouse, and Beckham’s fidelity and French DNA. Or something like that. Anyhow, it will be totally amazing and ensure another season of great business in the United soccer superstore.
Such are the facts.
Chelsea v Arsenal. Early on in the match, Chelsea’s Marco Alonso scores. In the process he obliterates Hector Bellerin. Should the goal have stood? The media takes a look. It’s all pretty even handed reporting until the Daily Mirror gets in on the act. It sees fit to repeat an ugly tweet linking Alonso clattering Bellerin with a car accident in which a woman was killed – Alsono was driving the vehicle in 2011.
BBC: Bellerin taken off injured – hurt by Alonso’s elbow as Spaniard scores
Phil McNulty, BBC Sport chief football writer at Stamford Bridge:
Lots of debate here at Stamford Bridge about whether that was a foul by Marcos Alonso on Hector Bellerin for Chelsea’s goal. Clearly a collision but that was a natural jumping movement from Alonso and not every collision is a foul…so correct decision for me.
Marcos Alonso bullied the smaller Bellerin in the aerial challenge to bury the rebound.
Alonso all but headed Bellerin into the net there as well. The Gunners’ full-back landed flat on his back. Very painful. He’ll need some TLC. Meanwhile, Gabriel tries a defender’s shot from 22 yards but like my npower dual fuel bill, it’s always rising.
That was a very entertaining half of football. Chelsea lead through Marcos Alonso’s controversial goal
The Mirror calls it a “flying elbow”…
had the challenge been on the goalkeeper the referee would have given a free-kick against Alonso.
The Mirror then does something despicable. In 2011 Alonso was driving a car in Madrid. He was, reportedly, over the alcohol limit. A woman passenger was killed. Pathetic stuff from the Mirror.
Marcos Alonso has battered Hector Bellerin there… barging Bellerin out of contention with his arm as he nodded home.
— ARSENAL VINE (@VineOfArsenal) February 4, 2017
Arsene Wenger will remain at Arsenal for another two years if the fans show him ‘love’. Wenger’s current deal expires at the season’s end, and there is talk of a new two-year contract on the table, says the Mirror. And that’s odd because it wasn’t all that long ago the Mirror and its writer John Cross were telling readers that Wenger was leaving Arsenal in June. He had ‘set the date’.
Now over two pages, Cross says the Arsenal board and Wenger are ‘privately mystified’ why fans are unhappy that their team lost to Watford earlier this week. The Gunners had the chance to close the gap with table-topping Chelsea to 6 points but blew it. So limp was Arsenal’s performance that the Sun says Wenger gave his players’ two days off to recover.
Cross says that’s untrue. The players ‘did not have two days off after the game’. But they did have 45 minutes off during it. The first half was dire.
Over in the Express, Matthew Dunn says Arenal are ‘soft’ in the centre. The bad news for Gunners fans is that at Chelsea this weekend they will most likely field Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain in central midfield, one of the game’s politest tacklers.
Since last winning the title, Arsenal have finished an average of 13 point behind the Premier League winners. Lose to Chelsea and they will 12 points behind.
Plus ca change, as they say at the Emirates, where board members made rich and lazy by Wenger’s top-four finishes continue to duck the kind of brave decision that gave brought the Frenchman to the club all those years ago.
Last night Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho was ‘furious’, says the Daily Mail. His side had drawn 0-0 with Hull City. Mourinho ‘blows his top on TV’, says the paper. The ‘irate’ Manchester United boss ‘stormed out of a TV interview’.
How does the Sun cover the Manchester United boss’s latest hissy fit? It doesn’t. Nowhere in its reports on the match does the Sun mention Mourinho’s moodiness and ‘his hasty exit at the first opportunity just 90 seconds into his post-match interview’ (BBC).
Is the Sun a tad biased in Jose’s favour? After all, on January 26, the paper was sure Jose was on the up. His hair spoke volumes:
NEIL ASHTON – Jose Mourinho is back: Back to his old self. Back in the hunt for trophies. Back to his devilish, mischievous best
And on it went:
Jose Mourinho, what with his latest grade-one haircut from the Lowry Hotel barber, is looking razor sharp again. The good behaviour bond is almost into a third month, trouble-free after serving a one-match ban for booting a water bottle when he had a wobbly against West Ham.
Focused, and firmly in control again, Mourinho is on to something good.
Such are the facts.