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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.

Arsenal: every Europa League winner loses

Arsenal were beaten by the mighty FC Cologne in the Europa Cup. The German side was poor, needing a pretty soft penalty to hit the net; but even when faced with the Bundesliga’s worst side Arsenal couldn’t score. But fear not, Arsenal fans. The Gunners can still win the second-rate cup. No team to have captured the trophy since the first winners in 2010 has gone the course undefeated.

The following is a guide to how many matches the eventual winners lost by. Defeats in two-legged knock-out rounds are in brackets.

2010: Atletico Madrid 3 (1)

2011: Porto (2)

2012: Atletico Madrid 1

2013: Chelsea 2 (2)

2014: Seville (3)

2015: Seville 1

2016: Seville 4 (2)

2017: Manchester United 1

Onwards and upwards, Arsenal. One the best players take part it’ll be shoo-in, right. Ozil and Sanchez will fire Arsenal home – unless thy leave the club in January.

 

Posted: 23rd, November 2017 | In: Arsenal, News, Sports | Comment | Comments RSS feed:RSS 2.0


Arsenal Transfer Balls: Ozil agrees Barcelona deal by Messi wants Liverpool’s Coutinho

Cancel that one-way ticket to Barcelona, Mesut Ozil. It turn out that Barcelona don’t want the Arsenal forward after all. It was only yesterday the paper were saying how Ozil was dreaming of playing for Barcelona and a £20m move in the January transfer window was on the cards. Now we’re told by the BBC that Barcelona’s mighty Lionel Messi has scuppered any moves for Ozil, 29.

The source for this story is Diario Gol, which thunders: “The Argentine star does not want to know anything about the German.” The story contains not a single quote from Messi. We put it through Google Translate:

Leo Messi…has already told Bartomeu and Ernesto Valverde that he does not want it. He considers that he is a very old player – Mesut is 29 years old – and that, in the event that Coutinho does not come now in January, it is better to put up with the put and go for a crack in June…

In addition, one of the things that has characterized the athletic career of the Arsenal player is his lack of regularity. During his time at Real Madrid , Mesut combined great performances with games in which he could not be seen. Just as it is happening in the English club, where he only drops a pearl from time to time but can not get the reins of the team.

So the move is off. No. Today’s Metro says Ozil has agreed to joined Barcelona.

 

 

The Metro cites “reports in Spain” as its source, but declines to mention which they are. The Express carries the same report, but does link to a source, stating: “And Catalan reporter Quique Guasch told Spanish outlet Catalunya Radio that Ozil had agreed a three-and-a-half year contract and is expected to cost around £17.8million.” How they know, no-one’s saying.

And then there’s the Mail, which says no agreement has been reached, and, as the headline tells it, Ozil wants a lot of money: “Arsenal star Mesut Ozil demands Barcelona offer him £330,000-a-week deal amid January interest.” That report is rooted in Spanish site AS, which says: “In addition to the astronomical salary, Özil will ask for a succulent signing bonus.” It also notes that Arsenal want “Leon Goretzka, an allcampists of Schalke 04”.

Such are the facts.

Posted: 23rd, November 2017 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, Liverpool, Sports | Comment | Comments RSS feed:RSS 2.0


Transfer balls: Barcelona and Manchester United are desperate for Ozil but Arsenal want him to stay

Transfer Balls: Having secured a new talent spotter in the shape of Sven Mislinat from Borussia Dortmund – he helped the Germans recruit Robert Lewandowski, Shinji Kagawa, Ousmane Dembele and their want-away striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (any Gooners think he’s heading to the Emirates?) – news is of players leaving the club. And chief among them is Mesut Ozil.

The Sun says Ozil “is keen on joining Barcelona”. Arsenal are apparently eager to get £20m for the 29-year-old this January. The Manchester Evening News says “Ozil is keen on a move” to Old Trafford for £17.7m. The London Evening Standard says “Arsenal players expect Mesut Ozil and Alexis Sanchez to stay”.

Much blather, then. But one story has roots: the Sun’s story is sourced in a report in Mundo Deportivo – the sports newspaper published in…Barcelona. Just as the Manchester-based paper knows Ozil wants to play for Manchester United, the Barcelona based newspaper knows he wants to play in Barcelona. As for the London-based Standard, well, it’s balls is based on the opinion of Nacho Monreal, who told a rival organ, “I can’t say much about it. It does not depend on me… If the club want them to stay beyond December [the January transfer window] they will follow. Yet, I do not know the club’s intentions.”

Let’s put the not-in-the-least-bit-biased Deportivo story through Google Translate and see what we learn:

Dr. Erkut Sogut , who represents Mesut Özil , has negotiations with Barça . The agent has confessed to the Barça club the tremendous interest of his represented in playing at the Camp Nou, but he has also made it clear that there are six sets more interested in the German international of Turkish origin.

Ozil played for Barcelona’s dread rivals Real Madrid.

In addition to the offer to Özil , they want to know what they will do to Arsenal , their current club. And, above all, the time of the duration of the contract, which would want it to be at least the rest of the season and two more years. The club would want that third season was negotiated between the two parties, taking into account the age of the German, 29 years.

Not exactly chomping at the bit, then.

The advantage of Barça is that Özil has the thorn in the “no” of Pep Guardiola in 2010 and wants to show that he has a place in the Catalan team. He really likes the way Barça played since he was at Werder Bremen .

The advantage? In Ozil’s Die Magie des Spiels, he states:

“Arsenal were interested in signing me after the 2010 World Cup, as were Manchester United, Bayern Munich, Barcelona and Real Madrid. My agent sat down with Bayern to discuss a move. The club told him about their plans with me and how they intended to use me. He had similar talks with the other clubs that wanted me.

“Before I travelled to Barcelona, I was convinced that was my next club. I was leaning toward joining Barcelona. There was no team in the world that played more beautiful football. But Guardiola did not attend talks and he did not call me either the days after. He did not even send me a text. He did not show me that he wanted to sign me as well. My interest in a move to Barcelona quickly decreased.”

Got that? Barcelona’s “advantage” is that they ignored him. Undaunted by fact, the paper continues:

In addition, Özil believes that if he signs for Barça , playing alongside Lionel Messi , he could hope to win, for the first time, the Champions League .

If he wants to win that, his agent should court PSG.

The Arsenal has given the ‘OK’ to Erkut Sogut that Özil can march on the January market to earn some money, which would not happen at the end of the season to be free. They have the direct permission of Arsène Wenger .

Wenger said he can go? No quote to back that up. But Wenger did says last month: “I cannot tell you what is in his mind. I genuinely think he wants to stay. But I am always positive about that.”

Such are the facts.

Posted: 22nd, November 2017 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, News, Sports | Comment | Comments RSS feed:RSS 2.0


Clickbait balls: Daily Mirror tricks Manchester United fans with rehashed FIFA 18 press release

Clickbait balls in the Daily Mirror, the self-styled “intelligent tabloid”, which appears not to have the utmost respect for its readers. The headline is unequivocal: all-time Manchester United great Peter Schmeichel has named an “ultimate XI” that does not include a single players from his former club:

 

 

That’s newsworthy stuff, especially for Manchester United fans. But click on the link and you get the story that Schmeichel wasn’t picking actual players. He was picking virtual footballers made up of code and pixels. It’s a glorified press release from EA Sports, who asked their man to name a FIFA 18 ultimate XI from the game’s current choices, taking in every player in every virtual team in every virtual league.

 


It’s clickbait.

 

 

Why not just name the video game in the headline? Well, it’s all about the clicks…

 

Posted: 22nd, November 2017 | In: manchester united, Sports, Tabloids | Comment | Comments RSS feed:RSS 2.0


Liverpool undone by Seville coach’s dramatic half-time team-talk

liverpool cancer seville Manuel Eduardo "Toto" Berizzo

 

Three goals own to a vibrant Liverpool side, Seville were roused to a unlikely 3-3 drawer when the Spanish side’s manager,  Eduardo Berizzo, used his half-time team-talk to tell his players he has cancer. I see your oranges and flying tea cups and rise you a malignant tumour on the prostate.

Sevilla Info explains why Sevilla’s players raced to mob Berizzo after Guido Pizarro completed the comeback in injury time. As ever, I’ve put it through Google Translate for added drama:

Jug of cold water at Sevilla FC: Berizzo suffers from prostate cancer

The hugs senses of Sevilla FC players . his coach Manuel Eduardo “Toto” Berizzo at the end of the match played against Liverpool at the Ramón Sánchez Pizjuán stadium revealed more than a long-suffering and epic draw against one of the biggest clubs in Europe. The players have thrown caste, courage and pride after a talk in the locker room, when the team, deflated, lost by zero goals to three at halftime. In that talk, as a slab in the environment, the news that the Argentine coach has moved his players and the entire structure of the Club. Berizzo suffers from prostate cancer.

We wish him well. As, clearly, do his players.

Posted: 22nd, November 2017 | In: Liverpool, Sports | Comment | Comments RSS feed:RSS 2.0


Everton balls: diving Niasse ‘s body of evidence

You’ve got to feel sorry for Everton’s Oumar Niasse. The idea is to swan dive after you’ve scored the goal not before. Why no-one told him is beyond reason. Hard cheese, then, that the striker has been charged by the Football Association for diving against Crystal Palace.

Niasse is destined to be a pub trivia having become the first Premier League player to be charged by the FA for “successful deception of a match official”. This is progress.

Trundling into the Palace box, Niasse suffered what appear to be a sudden allergic reaction to Scott Dann’s shirt fabric. The lightest brush and Niasse fell hard enough to make one onlooker expect police to draw a white line about the player and tape it off as a crime scene. Penalty duly awarded, Leighton Baines scored from the spot. To rub Palace’s faces further into the turf, Niasse went on to score the equaliser.

An FA statement reads: “Incidents which suggest a match official has been deceived by an act of simulation are referred to a panel consisting of one ex-match official, one ex-manager and one ex-player. .. Only in circumstances where the panel are unanimous would the FA issue a charge.”

Not that it matters. The damage has been done.

Posted: 21st, November 2017 | In: Sports | Comment | Comments RSS feed:RSS 2.0


Arsenal balls: why pundits have it in for Ozil

It’s fair to say that Martin Keown is no fan of Arsenal’s Mesut Ozil, offering to to-deadline opinion in October: “I think in some departments he’s already left. Psychologically, mentally, he’s already left the football club.” And on it went, Keown alluding to world Cup winner Ozil being a malign influence on teammates – “I think [Wenger] doesn’t want that sort of player around the youngsters in the group,” – and that Ozil has “downed tools”.

Pundits like to hammer home a point, even if it’s wrong. Ozil played superbly well in Arsenal 2-0 win over Spurs, putting in a man-of-the-match performance and earning a standing ovation from the fans. But Keown spots a hole in his Daily Mail column and offers: “This weekend, we have learned nothing new about Ozil.”

We who spotted Ozil’s record equalling 19 assists in the 2015-16 season, his 12 chances created when Arsenal played Sunderland in May and keeps Arsenal moving forward. But to Keown, Ozil invites the questions, “Will he work as hard on Sunday when Arsenal travel to Burnley?” Probably. Ozil ran further last season than every Arenal player bar Nacho Monreal.  But Keown has the blinekrs on: “This weekend, we have learned nothing new about Ozil. We know he is immensely talented. But if he does not perform and Arsenal fail to get three points at Turf Moor, this victory will have been for nothing.”

No. It’ll have been for three points and bragging rights . Ozil will have been instrumental in defeating Spurs, a team billed as potential Premier League title winners and the coming force in English football. To make that worth nothing is to flush Ozil’s sublime play down the memory hole.

But we’re not looking at Ozil, who remains easy on the yes. We’re looking at Keown, whose opinions tell us much about his attitude to football: scream, shout, go in hard and show off your scars. The difference between Keown and Ozil is acute: whereas Keown was lucky to have a role in a pragmatic Arsenal side; a more progressive Arenal are lucky to have Ozil.

 

 

 

Mesut Ozil needs to be challenged every week to put in as special a performance as he did in the north London derby.
When you play Tottenham, you do not need any motivation. If anything, you have to keep your emotions in check. You have to play with your head, not your heart.
A cynic would say that Ozil’s performance merely guaranteed him his move in January. Will he work as hard on Sunday when Arsenal travel to Burnley?
If both Ozil and Alexis Sanchez perform as they did against Spurs for the rest of the season, they will be able to leave Arsenal with everyone’s blessing. They will have given their all until the last.
Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Ozil fired Arsenal to victory as they beat bitter rivals Spurs 2-0 +5
Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Ozil fired Arsenal to victory as they beat bitter rivals Spurs 2-0
Arsenal are a different animal at home but Arsene Wenger needs to equip his team to win on the road. They have lost four of their six Premier League away games, winning just once at Everton in Ronald Koeman’s last match in charge.
To get into the top four, Wenger needs to map out the upcoming fixtures and keep pushing Ozil to shine in every game.
This weekend, we have learned nothing new about Ozil. We know he is immensely talented. But if he does not perform and Arsenal fail to get three points at Turf Moor, this victory will have been for nothing.

 

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sport/football/article-5098353/Mesut-Ozil-needs-challenged-week-reach-peak.html#ixzz4z3tFfU1x
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Posted: 21st, November 2017 | In: Arsenal, News, Sports | Comment | Comments RSS feed:RSS 2.0


Arsenal balls: after Mugabe Zimbabwe Gooners demand ‘Wenger Out’

As Robert Mugabe is toppled, protesters in the depot’s native Zimbabwe turn to the next great dictator: Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger.

 

wenger arsenal mugabe

 

Lest we forget:

 

 

“I used to live in Zimbabwe and I’ve watched Robert Mugabe ruin the country, and Wenger is doing the same. He’s the Mugabe of Arsenal.”

 

Seems fair.

Posted: 19th, November 2017 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, Money, News, Politicians, Sports | Comment | Comments RSS feed:RSS 2.0


North London Derby bias: slick Arsenal get lucky, Spurs bemoan the referee and Ozil looks ready to stay

Arsenal 2. Tottenham Hotspur 0. The Premier League match between North London’s biggest football clubs ended in favour of the Gunners, who were feisty, bright, quick, slick and aggressive throughout. The BBC says Arsenal secured a “comfortable north London derby victory”.

As ever, though, the game hinged on moments of controversy. Spurs manager Mauricio Pochettino says, “The free-kick for the first goal and the first goal was obvious offside, maybe the second was too.”

Is he right? What say the clubs respective websites?

Spurs: “Davinson Sanchez looked harshly judged to have fouled Alexis Sanchez on the left, Ozil curled in the free-kick and Mustafi rose highest to plant a header home off the far post, opening the scoring.”

No word on any offside, let alone an “obvious” one. But some comment on the foul that gave Arsenal the chance to launch a set piece. The Spurs report is remarkably even-handed.

Arsenal: “We kept knocking on the door though and eventually we made the breakthrough, Ozil curling in a free kick that Mustafi headed across goal and in via the far post.”

No word on the foul that led to the free kick at all. And, again, no word on any offside.

The neutral view is provided by the Times:

Tottenham’s anger was that Mustafi, by a tiny margin, seemed offside when Ozil delivered and that free kick had been awarded dubiously when Alexis Sanchez sprawled as Davinson Sanchez nicked the ball away from him: a clean tackle but Dean judged the Spurs man had tugged his namesake’s jersey before sliding in.

The Arsenal website is notable for one other item: Mesut Ozil is all over it. This is the homepage following that 2-0 win:

 

 

Followed by:

 

 

Ozil and more Ozil, runs the story. It seem pretty clear that Arsenal are at pains to make Ozil feel wanted. After the game, the German said he “really enjoyed” playing up front with Sanchez and Alexandre Lacazette. “We have good quality and they are both very dangerous,” said Ozil. “Today Alexis showed his quality and I am really happy for him.”

Sanchez was a whir of buzz an brilliance. But surely Arsenal cannot hang on to the Chilean. Manchester City want him. And they have money to burn. But Ozil… Well, signs are that he will stay.

Arsene Wenger gave fans the chance to salute the German by substituting him in the 84 minute. The fans stood and cheered. Oil felt the love. Like Alexis Sanchez, Arsenal’s other stand-out performer on the day, Ozil is entering the final six months of his contract. He is free to talk to foreign clubs from January onwards. Arsenal clearly want him to stay. And Ozil seems happy with his lot.

Posted: 18th, November 2017 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, Sports, Spurs | Comment | Comments RSS feed:RSS 2.0


Ian Wright: Arsenal great was ‘bullied’ at Crystal Palace

Former Crystal Palace and Arsenal footballer Ian Wright is an ambassador for Cartoon Network’s anti-bullying campaign CN Buddy Network. Helping to promote the cause, Wright is telling media about his own experiences with bullies.

Alyson Rudd writes in the Times:

It is the silence that worries Ian Wright. The silence of those who suffer at the hands of bullies. The former England striker wants children who are picked on to speak up. If they keep their secrets they will, he says, find themselves suffering in the shadows.

We are introduced to Crystal Palace club captain Jim Cannon, there when Wright started out at the London club at the tender age of 21. In 2005, Cannon was part of Palace’s Centenary XI, losing the title “The Player of The Century” to – yep – Ian Wright.

“He was oppressive, a bully and he was nasty,” says Wright, who comes over as a resilient and engaging character. “He was threatened by me for some reason and I don’t know why. He was a horrible bully. It didn’t last long because once I started playing well, my confidence came and I didn’t feel that if I said anything they would let me go. When I told Steve Coppell [the manager] about it, he said he [Cannon] wouldn’t be around for long, that I should carry on doing what I was doing and stand up for myself.”

Cannon gets a right to reply. “I wasn’t a bully, he was just a loud-mouth upstart,” says the 64-year-old. “I was an experienced centre half and I knew he was going to come up against people worse than me so I gave him a little slap one day and that was the extent of the bullying. I’m not interested in Ian Wright, he was an exceptionally good player and if he thinks I bullied him maybe I bullied him into being a good player.”

Not altogether a bad point. For some individuals, being bullied can damage your confidence, leading to depression and isolation. For others, there can be less negative outcomes. It might be even positive, making the victim tougher, better able to navigate society and more self-aware. Professor Dennis Hayes, co-author of The Dangerous Rise Of Therapeutic Education, argues: “The more you talk about bullying, the more it sensitises people to every social slight and the more it becomes a problem.”

So, Wrighty, any more bullying? Wright recalls a lift home with another player, Micky Droy: “He never spoke to me in the car but he knew I needed a lift. It felt like a headmaster driving you home after being in trouble.”

Wright says that he does not know why Droy never spoke but that “deep down he was a good man and knew if he didn’t give me a lift I wasn’t getting home.”

This gives rise to the headlines:

 

ian wright bullying

 

Is bullying the right word? Wright’s experiences suggest a fraught adult relationship, perhaps one based on professional rivalry. Upsetting? Yes. Life-defining? No. If you look for toxic human relationships, surely you’ll find it in many places. How Wright’s story speaks to youngsters suffering abuse is moot. The story and cause seem to be all.

Posted: 16th, November 2017 | In: Key Posts, News, Sports | Comment | Comments RSS feed:RSS 2.0


Arsenal Balls: Wilshere signs new deal and heads to Spain in Sun clickbait tie-in

Transfer balls: Jack Wilshere, once the saviour of English football, is making his way back to the fore after a trying time with injuries. Having clawed his way back to the Arsenal bench, Wilshere is now being tipped to get his reward: a career at Real Betis.

Well, so says the BBC, which reasons that once Wilshere’s Arsenal contract expires in the summer, Betis are “confident” they will get their man and make him part of Spain’s eighth best side.

Over in the Sun, the story is given added oomph: “BET ON IT Arsenal news: Jack Wilshere set to leave the Emirates as Real Betis ‘believe they are close’ to signing England midfielder on a free.”

Only a loon would bet on Wishere heading to Real Betis. He wants to remain at Arsenal, and the Gunners are pretty keen on keeping him. The Sun’s “exclusive” looks a lot like an advertorial for its betting operation, SunBets. The paper’s scoop comes wrapped around two large calls for readers to sign up to SunBets .

It’s all utter balls. But in the race for clicks, where one news source leads, the other dutifully follow.

 

transfer balls arsenal

 

The Mirror and Mail both cite the Sun, which has no quotes and facts to support its story. At which point the story takes on a life of its own, with ESPN saying a deal is all but done (taking care to namecheck two big clubs for SEO purposes) – “Jack Wilshere set to spurn Premier League giants Chelsea and Manchester City for Real Betis” – and 90mins.com reading the player’s mind: “Arsenal’s Jack Wilshere Could be Interested in Joining Real Betis.”

But hold the bet! The Sun has more news:

 

Arsenal Wilshere the sun

 

Best save your money.

 

 

Posted: 16th, November 2017 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, News, Sports, Tabloids | Comment | Comments RSS feed:RSS 2.0


Barbie gets an hijab in accordance with ‘diversity’

barbie hijab

 

There’s to be a Barbie doll based on US Olympic fencer Ibtihaj Muhammad, who became the first women who wear an hijab at the Olympics. According to Mattel, Muhammad is a “Shero”, which is bit like being a hero but for women; like heroine, yes, but the kind of portmanteau that makes for better branding and makes women a special case. So much for equality.

Sejal Shah Miller, Barbie’s vice president of global marketing, guffs out a statement: “Ibtihaj is an inspiration to countless girls who never saw themselves represented, and by honoring her story, we hope this doll reminds them that they can be and do anything,” It’s less about her than it is about us, say Mattel.

And as for girls’ ambitions, well they can’t do anything. NBC says Muhammad got into fencing because her mother likes the cover-all kit. “My mom just so happened to discover fencing,” says Muhammad on CNN. “She was driving past a local high school and saw kids with what she thought was like a helmet and like long pants and long jacket. She was like, ‘I don’t know what it is, but I want you to try it.”

So you can do anything, so long as you cover up. And don’t do it in Iran,where as one toy seller opined: “I think every Barbie doll is more harmful than an American missile.”

Whatever the backstory, the athlete is delighted, saying being immortalised in plastic is a “childhood dream come true”:

 

 

Cynics might argue that Mattel needs to broaden its appeal, and what easier way than by tapping into a new market, albeit the relatively small one of female Muslim fencers. CNN Money notes: “Barbie has been working hard to make its collection of dolls more diverse in an effort to broaden the brand’s appeal… Barbie’s sales have slumped, down 6% in the most recent quarter compared to last year.”

 

 

More people as dolls here. Each one an inspiration…

 

Posted: 15th, November 2017 | In: News, Sports, The Consumer | Comment | Comments RSS feed:RSS 2.0


Tabloids zoom in on ‘ashen-faced’ Gareth Bale

News that Gareth Bale’s “bother-in-law” has died is surely a shock for his loved ones. The Mail says Real Madrid and Wales footballer Bale and his fiancee Emma have been left “devastated” by a “suspected family suicide”. Emma’s sister’s partner Alexander Williams has been found dead.

Tastefully, the paper buys paparazzi photos to best illustrate Bale’s pain.

 

 

The Mirror is not far off invading Bale’s grief, using the same photo to ooze: “Real Madrid star Gareth Bale looks pained s he turns up for training after shock family death”.

 

 

Pathetic stuff.

And worth revisiting the Mail’s pledge of 8 September 1997, eight days after the death of Princess Diana:

“Mail leads the way in banning paparazzi pictures.

“Mail leads the way in banning paparazzi pictures.” Here are the opening paragraphs to the article below that heading:

“The proprietor of the Daily Mail, Mail on Sunday and Evening Standard announced last night that his papers will not in future purchase pictures taken by paparazzi

Viscount Rothermere, chairman of the Daily Mail and General Trust plc said: ‘I am, and always have been, an admirer of Diana, Princess of Wales, and nagged my editors to protect her so far as they could against her powerful enemies.

In view of Earl Spencer’s strong words and my own sense of outrage, I have instructed my editors no ‘paparazzi’ pictures are to be purchased without my knowledge and consent.'”

Plus ca change, as they say in Paris, Madrid, London…

Posted: 14th, November 2017 | In: News, Sports | Comment | Comments RSS feed:RSS 2.0


Clickbait balls: Liverpool ‘favourites’ to sign Barcelona Mascherano in a market of one

Transfer balls spots this gem in the Daily Mirror’s desperate clickbait factory: “Liverpool favourites to sign Barcelona star in January transfer window.”

To reach this story, readers vault no fewer than three video adverts. The story is squashed between them:

 

skybet daily mirror

 

 

daily mirror liverpool

 

The entire scoop is an exercise in total balls:

Liverpool have been made favourites to sign Barcelona star Javier Mascherano in January.

Ah, him. Is he still any good? Does he want to rejoin Liverpool? Who else wants him?

Mascherano’s contract at Barcelona is less than two years to run and he is understood to be considering an early exit.

Understood by whom? Dunno. The Mirror doesn’t bother to say. But it does note:

Liverpool have been made 6/4 favourites to sign him by Sky Bet, although River Plate are another option for the 33-year-old.

Why SkyBet have odds on Mascherano is not stated, nor how large the market on the move is. Although it is fun to see the Mirror plugging its rival – SkyBet is operated by the Sun’s owners. Once upon a time both red-tops were fierce rivals seeking out scoops and shockers – now they exist to fluff each other’s guff and get readers to bet on total nonsense.

We called SkyBet and were told that the bet does exist. And because it’s a ‘Special Bet’ or a ‘Request A Bet’ the odds can be triggered by one person requesting odds. Make the request and look back in wonder as your simple question makes it on to the pages of the self-declared”Intelligent Tabloid”.

The full odds are hereunder:

 

 

Since the Mirror published its story, the odds have not changed, which implies the market for Mascherano to Liverpool is no larger than a PR’s chequebook?

 

Posted: 14th, November 2017 | In: Arsenal, Money, News, Sports, Tabloids | Comment | Comments RSS feed:RSS 2.0


Arsenal Balls: The changing styles of Arsene Wenger

It looks like being another season of barely held together crisis for Arsenal – just for a change, writes Sunil Singh. 

After winning the FA Cup again in May, Wenger should probably have walked away from the job he has held for more than 20 years.

Instead, Wenger signed a two-year contract to extend his stay at the Emirates and Arsenal’s start to the season has been typically predictable.

After a rollicking 4-3 home win against Leicester City got the new Premier League season off to a flyer, Arsenal promptly lost back-to-back away games at Stoke City and Liverpool, the latter a humiliating 4-0 hammering.

A run of four clean sheets in a row in the league, with 10 points taken from those games, suggested Arsenal could have turned a corner. But Arsenal were too Arsenal-y for that.

Leading at Watford last weekend, they collapsed to a 2-1 loss at Vicarage Road and sit sixth in the table as a result – level on points with Burnley, of all teams.

But can we predict Arsenal’s twists and turns via Wenger’s wardrobe? Let’s give it a go!

The coat – an investigation

We have to start with Arsene’s coat, of course. It is arguably the most iconic piece of manager-wear of the Premier League era.

The sight of Wenger, ordinarily a very dapper man – he is French, after all – struggling to do up the zip on his jacket is a familiar one to all football fans. It’s a cliche these days.

Wenger’s coat in the 2014-15 Premier League season was a beauty. So long it would swallow a man of normal height hour, it billowed down below Wenger’s knees.

And he couldn’t do it up. Every game, it seemed, the television cameras would capture him grappling with the zip as his team fell apart in front of him. It was all too easy to draw a parallel.

The coat looked great, but it didn’t really work – or at least Wenger couldn’t get it to work. Just like this team, it was almost perfect. But not quite.

What Wenger’s coat says about him

Manager style is going through a big change in the Premier League right now.

While it used to be Wenger who brought massive innovations to English football – like eating right – now it is a new foreign influence who is educating us all over again.

Pep Guardiola sports trainers on the touchline, often with chinos and a nice v-neck jumper. It’s pure style – just like his Manchester City team.

Another manager has seen his fashion choices pored over in recent weeks – Antonio Conte.

The Italian donned stunning suits for most of last season as Chelsea romped to the Premier League title in his first season at Stamford Bridge.

But Conte appeared on the sideline for the first game of his side’s title defence in a shabby club tracksuit – with his team looking similarly out of sorts.

Burnley turned Chelsea over that day, running out 3-2 winners in a game that saw two of Conte’s players sent off. It is impossible to argue that the defeat was solely down to Conte ditching his suit for trackies, but it might well have been a small factor, at least.

How a manager dresses says a lot about him. To Wenger, his coat is all about function. It looks a bit naff, but it keeps him warm. It does the job just about well enough.

But when it doesn’t do the job – when he fumbles with the zip yet again – it makes you wonder why Wenger does not ditch it and upgrade for a better model. Just like his midfield.

Ryan, the editor of a highly respected online publication had this to say, “Wenger used to be a favourite of ours here at Gamblingkingz, but these days he is a relic that the Premier League could certainly do without. And the bookmakers feel the same way. While Arsenal used to be perennial title contenders under his leadership – with the odds reflecting that – now they are also-rans.”

How the other Premier League managers compare

In hindsight, Frank de Boer was always destined to fail when he was appointed at Crystal Palace as the replacement for Sam Allardyce after his shock departure.

De Boer rocked a blue blazer and cream chinos on the sidelines as he watched his Palace side struggling to get to grips with his Total Football style. It just wasn’t a good fit.

Mauricio Pellegrino also does not look quite right in his ‘athleisure’ gear consisting of a polo top and tracksuit bottoms. The colours of his club-branded gear make him look more like a Sainsbury’s assistant manager than the boss of a Premier League football club.

Some managers can pull off the casual look however, with Tony Pulis certainly among them.

The Welshman’s baseball cap is up there with Wenger’s billowing coat as one of the most iconic clothing items in Premier League history.

Pulis is rarely seen without it, pairing the hat with a tracksuit despite him approaching his 60s.

Another tracksuit boss is Jurgen Klopp. He is always in Liverpool-branded gear, giving the impression he is a manager who likes to get stuck in on the training ground. The defending of his team suggests otherwise, however.

Eddie Howe is a fan of the tracksuit too. The Bournemouth boss is so young – still somehow just 39! – that he probably would look like a child dressing up in his dad’s clothes if he wore a suit.

What about Jose Mourinho? Wenger’s old rival is not afraid to rock a tracksuit but he is usually smart in a suit on the touchline.

Opposition fans used to sing “that coat’s from Matalan” at Mourinho earlier in his career, but there is no doubt the United manager is one of the best dressed coaches in the league now.

Mauricio Pellegrino switches between the suit and the tracksuit as well – and he is one of the few Premier League managers who both looks comfortable in either outfit and pulls it off.

Some managers don’t quite suit the style of their team – Burnley’s Sean Dyche, for example. While he is never seen out of a dark suit, his team is much more rough round the edges.

Dyche’s smart style, of course, continues to make him look even more like a nightclub bouncer than his scary face and voice suggest.

So what can Wenger learn from his peers? Ultimately it doesn’t matter. Wenger has shown time and time again he has no interest in learning from anyone else. It’s his way or nothing.

Even if Wenger’s way is a ludicrously long coat that he can’t do up.

Posted: 14th, November 2017 | In: Arsenal, News, Sports | Comment | Comments RSS feed:RSS 2.0


Manchester United Balls: Mourinho accepts defeat

Football moves pretty fast at the Sun, where the paper continues to cheer for Jose Mourinho, currently turning Manchester United into a pragmatic, defence-minded grinding machine. Second in the Premier League, a not inconsiderable 8 points behind Manchester City after just 11 games played, the Sun explain that none of it is Jose’s fault.

On November 8, Sun readers were told:

“JOSE MOURINHO is heading for a clash with the Manchester United board over further backing in the transfer market. Mourinho has spent £300million in less than 18 months — but still wants more to strengthen his squad as they fight on four fronts… Now he is concerned he may not get the funds he needs to boost his squad in the New Year and next summer.”

One day on and United are in a panic. Mourinho’s off to PSG:

 

mourinho the sun psg

 

Things move pretty fast. After all, way back in August, the Sun was telling us that Mourinho was living the dream:

“JOSE MOURINHO has told his Manchester United players to do the Double this season. He said their aim had to be to win the Premier League and FA Cup and at least reach the last eight of the Champions League. But as Sunsport today reveals, Mourinho was so confident of what this squad could do he had raised the bar ahead of the new season”

Nothing a few hundred million can’t fix.

 

Posted: 9th, November 2017 | In: Back pages, manchester united, Sports, Tabloids | Comment | Comments RSS feed:RSS 2.0


Media bias: Spurs beat Real Madrid with a vanishing offside goal

In this edition of biased football reporting, we look at Tottenham’s 3-1 victory over Real Madrid 3-1 in the Champions League. Spanish newspaper Marca describes the game’;s crucial opening goal:

Replays showed that Tripper was in an offside position when he received the ball, but there was no call from the linesman and the goal stood.

Now rod of any offside in the official Spurs website’s report:

Dele got the ball rolling in the 27th minute when he tucked home Kieran Trippier’s cross from close range

And the BBC:

Dele Alli gave Spurs the lead after 27 minutes when he turned in Kieran Trippier’s cross from close range

 

Not much bias, as it turns out. A 3-1 defeat for Real Madrid tells its own story. And, well, you make your own luck in a sport where luck plays a role:

 

 

Posted: 1st, November 2017 | In: Back pages, Sports, Spurs | Comment (1) | Comments RSS feed:RSS 2.0


Arsenal clickbait: Daily Mirror ‘spots’ Sead Kolasinac in a Christmas jumper

How bad is sports writing? Like everyone else who cares – and many more who do not – we too saw the Arsenal squad wearing their Christmas jumpers to highlight the work of Save the Children. Since 2011, the club has raised over £2million for the charity.

But to the Daily Mirror, this is a reason to produce “7 things we spotted from Arsenal’s charity Christmas jumper team photo”.

 

 

The Mirror provides no link to the charity nor does it mention Christmas Jumper Day (December 15), which is why the Arsenal were wearing seasonal sweaters.

Says Arsenal:

Theo “Woolcott”, “Sweater” Cech, “Gra-Knit” Xhaka and the rest of the Arsenal squad have donned festive jumpers for a special squad picture with mascot Gunnersaurus.

To help raise funds for our global charity partner Save the Children, we have created a range of exclusive Christmas Arsenal knits, which each carry a 20 per cent donation of the RRP to Save the Children.

The Arsenal Christmas jumpers are available from ArsenalDirect.com and from the club’s three superstores while stocks last – in sizes for menwomen, children and … dogs!

Swap your kit for a knit and sign up for Save the Children’s Christmas Jumper Day on Friday, December 15.

Weak of the Mirror not to link their dire article to the charity. But they do notice that team manager Arsene Wenger is in the photo (Spot 4 on the paper’s list). That’s the same Wenger who, according to the Mirror, left the club on June 30.

 

Daily Mirror wenger quits Arsenal

 

Such are the facts.

 

Posted: 1st, November 2017 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, News, Tabloids | Comment | Comments RSS feed:RSS 2.0


Arsenal’s missing striker Gonzalo Higuain hits 100 goals in Italy

Congratulations, Gonzalo Higuain. The Argentinian today scored his 100th Serie A goal, hitting the net twice as Juventus beat AC Milan. Higuain, 29, has scored 101 goals in 153 games in Italy’s top flight since arriving in Italy from Real Madrid in July 2013. You will recall that Higuain joined for €40 million. In 2016 he moved to Juventus for €90 million.

But none of that happened if you read the Sun. According to the paper of record, Higuan plays for Arsenal, who he joined for £23m in 2013.

 

higuain arsenal sign

 

He then went to Liverpool:

 

Higuain liverpool

 

Such are the facts.

Posted: 28th, October 2017 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, Sports, Tabloids | Comment | Comments RSS feed:RSS 2.0


Spurs fan throws cup of wee at West Ham fans

Who threw the urine? Stories abound that a fan of Tottenham Hotspur allegedly threw a cup of urine during Wednesday’s Carabao Cup defeat to West Ham.

This video has been doing the rounds.

 

 

A Spurs spokesperson tells everyone: “This behaviour is completely unacceptable. We are currently investigating and working to identify the individual.”

How hard can it be?

You can profile the man using this colour chart favoured by Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh, who evaluates the chracter of his players based on their urine.

 

 

Turns out he’s a ‘champion’…

Posted: 26th, October 2017 | In: News, Sports, Spurs | Comment (1) | Comments RSS feed:RSS 2.0


Huge bird of prey spotted flying over Austin F1 Grand Prix

Austin Eagle F1

 

You all saw, of course, the gigantic eagle / buzzard hovering over Austin, Texas, as the city’s F1 race neared its end.

 

 

 

Posted: 26th, October 2017 | In: Sports | Comment | Comments RSS feed:RSS 2.0


Carabao Cup balls: Arsenal and Manchester City in fake news epidemic

You can make a story out of anything. Take the Sun’s news that “Arsenal and Manchester City face disqualification from [the] Carabao Cup”.Why?  Well, the Sun says they stand accused of “making too many substitutions in extra-time”. It’s the ‘CARABAO KO”.

 

the sun arsenal carabao cup manchester city

 

Readers are told:”Arsenal needed extra-time to beat Norwich 2-1 and City saw off Wolves in a penalty shootout but both are waiting to discover if they broke rules over subs.”

The rules are, according to the Sun:

‘The Premier League giants made four changes — two in extra-time — and the Canaries will demand clarification from the Football League. Four subs are a novelty for cup ties this season but the rules imply only one can be used after 90 minutes.’

Arsenal and City have ready-made defences should the matter reach the legal stage. Bristol Rovers, Bournemouth, Brighton Burnley, Brentford, Portsmouth and Cardiff City all made two changes in extra-time in the Cup’s earlier rounds.

 

carabao cup arsenal man city

 

A quick look at the rules tell us that Arsenal and Manchester City did nothing wrong:

10 Substitutes

10.1 Subject to Rule 10.2, in all matches, each team is permitted up to seven substitutes of whom not more than three may take part in the match.

10.2 Where any match goes to extra time (in accordance with the provisions of Rules 14.4, 14.5 and/or 14.6), then subject to the League having obtained the prior approval of the International Football Association Board (IFAB) to the application of this Rule, each Club participating in that match will be permitted to use an additional substitute (in extra time only).

And having suggested that Arsenal and Manchester City could be booted from the competition because it failed to understand the rules, the Sun then notes:

‘The Gunners made a total of four subs, making use of the rule that you can use one added change when a tie heads to extra-time. Arsenal made TWO in extra-time, causing some debate among Twitter users to suggest that Arsene Wenger had broken the rule.”

Isn’t new media crap and full of fake news, eh. It’s nothing like the trusty, subjective and truthful old media, is it? (Yes, it is, ed).

 

Posted: 25th, October 2017 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, Manchester City, News, Sports, Tabloids | Comment | Comments RSS feed:RSS 2.0


Media bias: Manchester City Silva’s inconsequential ‘no dive’ cons the ref and pains Burnley

Bernardo Silva will not be retrospectively yellow carded for ‘diving’ when his Manchester City beat Burnley 3-0 in the Premier League. Silva “fell theatrically” in the box “under the slightest of touches from the Burnley goalkeeper”, says the Times.

“If I kicked my kid in the garden, I don’t think he would fall like that,” says Burnley boss Sean Dyche. “For him to get that high off the floor with his arms above his head is almost a skill in itself. I was quite impressed with how far he travelled.”

The Burnley Express says of Silva:

You could question why Pope gave the referee a decision to make, with Silva’s touch taking him away from goal, and his knee did connect with the former Monaco man’s right ankle.

But Silva exaggerated the contact.

Cheating?

Roger East bought it, and after Burnley showed their disgust with Silva

The Manchester Evening News has an odd take on the incident:

Pope tried to withdraw from his challenge and the contact between his knee and Bernardo’s foot seemed inconsequential.

Eh? What does the mean? There was a consequence: City got a penalty that allowed them to score that always vital first goal.

But get a load of how the official Manchester City website reports on the controversial spot kick:

The Portuguese playmaker then won a penalty when Pope brought him down inside the box. David Silva’s sublime throughball for Kevin De Bruyne put the Belgian in on goal, but his effort was parried by Pope. Bernardo, attempting to control the follow up, was then caught by the sprawling Pope, and Roger East pointed to the spot.

 

burnley fc silva dive

 

Over at Burnley FC, the penalty is at the top of the match report, presented as the game’s key moment:

Controversial penalty sets up leaders’ win as Clarets unbeaten away run ends

Adding:

Burnley’s first defeat since the second weekend of the season came with a note of frustration and something of a sour taste for the way City got the all-important opening goal from the penalty spot…

Sergio Aguero scored it to equal Eric Brook’s club-record tally, but the way Bernardo Silva seemingly convinced referee Roger East to award the penalty following a brush with Clarets’ goalkeeper Nick Pope did not go down well in the visitors’ camp.

It wasn’t a dive. The FA will only says it was a dive “where there is clear and overwhelming evidence to suggest a match official has been deceived by an act of simulation”. What’s clear to one is not clear to another…

 

Posted: 23rd, October 2017 | In: Back pages, Manchester City, Sports | Comments (2) | Comments RSS feed:RSS 2.0


Arsenal: Ozil to Manchester United, 32 million followers and one anonymous source

Germany midfielder Mesut Ozil, 29, wants to join Manchester United when his deal with Arsenal expires at the end of the season, says the Daily Mail. “Ozil will be a free agent for next season after telling Arsenal he will not sign a new contract,” says the paper.

But hold on a moment. Ozil has not told anybody Arsenal he wants to move to Old Trafford, says the Sun. And he’s not rejected a new Arsenal contract. A “close friend of Ozil” has “revealed”:

“Mesut has not had any contract offer from Arsenal. There were talks about a modest pay rise last season but all those talks ended in March. There’s been nothing since then… Mesut is adamant he has never spoken to any player about going to Manchester United. He has no idea if United want him but he wants to stay at Arsenal. Look, he just bought a new house in London.

“Mesut had been renting but he decided to buy a house because he both expects and wants to stay.

“But he is angry that people are briefing against him and feels there seems to be some sort of campaign against him. His intention has always been to remain at Arsenal. Mesut, though, does feel he is being isolated and kept in the dark. He is worried that there is a game going on and he is left in the middle of it.”

You still there? Anonymous sources are ten a penny. Mesut Ozil has a mouth. He has 18.8 million followers on Twitter.

 

 

Ozil has 14.3 millions followers on Instagram.

If only there was some way for poor Ozil to speak for himself and stop all the game playing…

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


Everton balls: Oh, come on, we loved Williams chucking his dummy

Argy-bargy at Everton, where the Toffees lost 1-2 to Lyon in the Europa League. The lowlight features the unforgettable sight of an Everton fan in the Gwladys Street end “trying to shove Anthony Lopes, the Lyons goalkeeper, with his right hand” (Times). The idiot compounded his behaviour by cradling a toddler sucking a dummy at the time. There’s thick and there’s wading into a fight against professional athletes whilst holding a child levels of thick.

We’ll get to know this dangerously thick man is. As the Times notes, “The shame game has begun.”

But before that, what happened? As ever the Press seem incapable agreeing on the most bald fact.

 

Everton fight fan toddler

 

Everton fan carrying a CHILD slaps Lyon goalkeeper on his head – Daily Mail

Merseyside Police investigating Everton-Lyon brawl which saw man throw punche while holiding a kid [sic] – the Sun

An Everton fan who appeared to slap a Lyon player while holding a child during last night’s Europa League game has been banned by the club while police investigate the incident. – Daily Mirror

One fan was seen trying to throw a punch while holding a child. – Daily Express

…a fan carrying a child appeared to aim a punch at Lyon goalkeeper Anthony Lopes. – Daily Telegraph

Punch? Slap? Hit or miss?

 

 

Lyons were unimpressed with the Everton showing:

 

 

As for the shame and the horror, the players have spoken:

Everton captain Williams, who was shown a yellow card, told media: “It’s what happens, it’s football. It is what it is. It’s high emotions. We want to win the game, they want to win the game and stuff happens. That was just one of those times.”

He later told Everton FC’s website – where the incident is a described as a “heated exchange – “We want to show fight for ourselves, but more than anything for the Club and the fans especially. We’re disappointed we haven’t got a result tonight because I thought we showed good attitude in how we went about it.”

And Lopes opined: “I don’t think it is part of the English atmosphere to hit an away player. It was no big deal, it happened and that was it. For me it seemed to wake up the fans and they seemed to love it.”

They did. And so did the media. Fans and media love a mass brawl. Chuck in a streaker, a few red cards and the match would have been yet more entertaining – albeit not up there with Zidane’s headbutt or Cantona’s kung-fu kick.

Posted: 20th, October 2017 | In: Back pages, News, Sports, Tabloids | Comment | Comments RSS feed:RSS 2.0