Media Balls: Does Arsene Wenger regret allowing Jack Wilshere to leave Arsenal for Bournemouth on a season-long loan? Sky says he does. Injury has left Arsenal shot in midfield (plus ca change). Sky‘s headline thunders:
But Wenger doesn’t regret anything. What Wenger actually says is:
“I could use him now. But if he had not played until now, he would not be ready to play now. What looks unfair at some moments in the season is that you know at some stage you could need the player… And still today I think it was the right decision for him to go.”
Wilshere was rotting at Arsenal. He’s played 17 of Bournemouth’s 20 Premier League matches – missing both games against Arsenal because rules forbid him playing his parent club. Of course Arsenal could use his nous now, his give-and-gos and box-to-box style. But with no recall clause in his Bournemouth deal, the Gunners can’t get him back.
“It’s slightly old-fashioned and a step back in time in terms of other Premier League clubs and he deserves huge credit for that,” said Bournemouth manger Eddie Howe when Wilshere picked Bournemouth over a host of other clubs vying for his services. “The fact he’s willing to come here for football reasons, rather than anything else, speaks volumes.”
Wilshere needed games after getting so little football at Arsenal. He’s thriving at Bournemouth. Would he have made the same progress at Arsenal this season or still be off the pace? Wenger knows the answer to that.
Transfer balls: Is Arsenal’s Alexis Sanchez ready to leave the Gunners? The BBC says “Arsenal players fear” he is.
The Mail agrees. Sami Mokbel writes in an ‘exclusive’, “Seething Sanchez blows his top at Arsenal.” The Chilean “threw a tantrum” on the pitch as Arsenal came from 0-3 down to draw 3-3 with Bournemouth. That tantrum amounted to Sanchez throwing his gloves to the turf and… And that’s it.
He was “unhappy” the Gunners hadn’t won, reveals Mokbel . He “sulked” in the changing room. He made is “clear” he was unhappy not to have won. Well, quite. Arenal fans and players want him to be keen on winning, surely. Sanchez plays to win. He has an “ultra-determined nature”.
“GUNNER GO?” asks the Mirror in is ‘exclusive’ on the same Sanchez ‘exclusive’ the Mail delivered. No longer sulking, Sanchez is throwing a “hissy fit” in the Arsenal dressing room as “Arsenal suffered a major blow in their title hopes”. Or as the Mirror put it yesterday: “The Gunners looked down and out on the south coast, but they showed a fantastic desire to get back into the game and created a Premier League first in the process.”
John Cross says Arsenal will buy no new players until Sanchez’s contract is sorted out. Ora s the BBC says today:
Hednesford Town youngster Cohen Bramall is to make the move from non-league to Premier League, by signing for Arsenal. The 20-year-old left-back will leave the Staffordshire-based Northern Premier League side for north London.
Cross is an expert on Arsenal stuff. He tells us that Arsene Wenger is out of contract this summer, “but there is a two-year deal worth £8m a year on the table waiting to be signed.”
Or as Cross and the Mirror put it:
Such are the facts.
Media balls: a look at reporting on Bournemouth’s 3-3 with Arsenal. The third Bournemouth goal came after a clear foul by Ryan Fraser. What say the experts?
Matt Barlow (Daily Mail): ” Fraser tore past Bellerin to reach a pass from Daniels and squeeze a shot through Cech’s legs.”
Ian Baker (Daily Express): “The Spanish right-back has recently signed a new £100,00-a-week contract but that looked far to high on this evidence as he was beaten by Fraser…”
Charlie Wyett (the Sun): “Fraser overpowered Bellerin…”
Alex Crook (Daily Star): “… pint-sized Fraser outmuscled the hapless Bellerin…”
Stuart James (Guardian): “Daniels slid a pass into the inside left channel and Bellerin, who is no slouch, had a headstart on Fraser. Yet Fraser not only caught up with the Arsenal defender but was too strong for him.”
Islington Gazette: “Fraser soon made it 3-0 as he powered down the left flank beating another insipid Bellerin half-challenge before slotting past Cech at the near post.”
Henry Winter (the Times): “The outstanding Daniels lifted the ball down the left and Fraser was off and running, shoving Bellerín out of the way with a challenge that Oliver generously deemed more shoulder barge than a push.”
Graham Poll (Daily Mail): “[Oliver’s] excellent display was only marred when he failed to spot Ryan Fraser’s push on Bellerin before scoring Bournemouth’s third.”
Mark Halsey (the Sun): “It should have been a foul to Arsenal as Ryan Fraser pushed Hector Bellerin.. Michael gave a first-half penalty [to Bournemouth] for the dame offence.”
Bournemouth Echo: “Bellerin looked favourite to reach Daniels’ subsequent pass first, but Fraser bundled his way through the Spaniard…”
And what of the foul that led to a red card for Bournemouth captain Simon Francis?
Graham Poll: “‘Oliver finished the game with another correct call as he dismissed Simon Francis for an over-the-top challenge on Ramsey. Overall a very composed display – well done, Michael.”
Mark Halsey: “‘Michael Oliver got two key decisions wrong – especially the red card for Bournemouth captain Simon Francis. The challenge was not dangerous and it did not endanger the player’s safety. It was a challenge worthy of a yellow card.”
Such are the facts.
Olivier Giroud scored a pretty decent scorpion goal in Arsenal’s home match against Crystal Palace. With the ball well behind him, Giroud stuck out a foot and the ball went in. That it hit the underside of the bar on its way to the net made it look even better.
Jammy? Well, you make your own luck:
WHAT AN AMAZING GOAL.. If Mkhitaryan can do it Giroud can also do it! pic.twitter.com/fjtP66jPy3
— 🌏 (@naqeebhapiz) January 1, 2017
Never mind that Antoine Griezmann says he’s happy in Madrid with his new baby and wonderful life, the British Press have him packed and ready to join the Premier League very soon. France’s footballer of the year is on his way to, well, all the top clubs. Manchester United have £60m and Chelsea £50m and £90m for Atletico Madrid’s super striker, whose new contract set his transfer fee at a minimum of £86m.
News in the Guardian is that Manchester City also quite like Griezmann – and so do Arsenal. The BBC and Telegraph say that if Mesut Özil or Alexis Sánchez fail to get the £200,000 a week they each want to extend their current contracts and leave the Gunners, Arsenal will swoop for Griezmann by offering him less than the £200,000-a-week City, Chelsea or United would pay.
Should that cunning plan fail, Arsenal will go for Marco Reus or Julian Draxler, although the taller German (Draxler) has apparently agreed to join PSG in France’s Ligue 1. That doesn’t stop the Daily Star says Draxler is on his way to Liverpool.
The tin lid is placed on this Transfer Balls by news that the source for the BBC, Telegraph, Independent and Guardian scoop on Griezmann and Reus being watched by Arsenal is Squawka, a blog whereon we read not a single fact to support the story that Arsenal want either player.
Such are the facts.
Transfer balls: Manchester United’s Rashford To West Ham; Payet to Arsenal; Draxler to Liverpool; Virgil to Manchester City?
West Ham United are, says the Daily Telegraph, keen to transfer Manchester United squad members Anthony Martial or Marcus Rashford to their goal-shy team. It’s an “ambitious” bid, says the paper. No kidding.
Failure to lure either of them to London will mean West Ham turning to – deep breath – Sassuolo’s Grégoire Defrel, Chelsea striker Michy Batshuayi and Porto’s Laurent Depoitre. Yeah, pretty much anyone who can score a goal is on West Ham’s radar.
The Express says West Ham will make space for any of the above by getting shot of six players, including loan strikers Simon Zaza (loaned from Juventus) and Ashley Fletcher (Manchester United). One player not leaving is Dimitri Payet. Or as the Star puts it: “JOSE’S PAYET RAID – United boss in fight with old foe Wenger”. Will Payet leave West Ham for Arsenal or head to Manchester United in a deal involving Marital or Rashford?
In other Manchester United transfer news, the Mirror says Benfica’s Swedish defender Victor Lindelof could be heading to Old Trafford for £37.8million. If he arrives, Chris Smalling will leave United, says the Express. Smalling will be beaten to the United exit by Morgan Schneiderlin and Bastian Scheweinsteiger.
Away from United, the Guardian says Arsenal are keen on Valencia’s super-fast left-back José Gaya.
The Mirror says Liverpool are looking to sign Manchester City and England goalkeeper Joe Hart. The Times says the Reds are also keen on Wolfsburg’s Germany midfielder Julian Draxler but face competition from PSG and, of course, Arsenal, who seem to have been chasing the player for every one of his 23 years.
The Mail says Manchester City will offer £50m for Southampton Virgil van Dijk. There have been “discreet talks” between the clubs, says the Mail all over its back page. The Dutchman is “aware of City’s interest”.
Good news for those Arsenal fans who can’t abide Arsene Wenger. The Sun leads with news that Paris Saint-Germain want the Arsenal manager to lead their brand. The French are “confident” of getting their man, having failed in two previous bids.
“AW REVOIR,” says the Sun over two more pages. “Time’s ripe for Arsene Wenger’s return to France.” Or maybe he’s past its sell-by date.
No, says Mack Irwin. The “self-entitled” Arenal fans who demonstrate for Wenger’s departure are fools. As “another season of disappointment beckons” Irwin wonder if Wenger has the “appetite to put up with the microscopic scrutiny of his methods”. Arsenal fans will add another question: does Wenger still inspire his team, the fans and the club?
Wenger’s £160,000-a-week deal ends at the end of this season. The club is “in the dark” about his future plans. But if the Frenchman fails to make Arsenal challenge for the Premier League and Champions’ League titles “it will be hard to see how Arsenal or Wenger could justify another new contract”. So much for fans being self-entitled to expect more.
Phil McNulty has a little on what Arsenal fans have been getting:
In the 12 seasons since Arsenal last won the title, in only two of those campaigns has the margin between the Gunners and the champions been in single figures. Twice the gap has been more than 20 points – so a systematic pattern has emerged rather than an extended hard luck story.
As to why PSG wants Wenger and Wenger would want PSG, the Sun says Paris would give him loads of money to go on a spending spree and, er, he likes Paris.
Over in the Mail, four of the paper’s pundit says Arsenal will finish no higher than third this season.
But it’s far from doom and gloom at Arsenal. Wenger has always been an optimist. In defeat he manages to inject circumspection and togetherness into the analysis. Can he bring Arsenal to the boil? Can Chelsea wobble and the Gunners go on a run? Vitally, do the players believe they can do it?
Transfer balls: a look at the football transfer gossip. The BBC says Arsenal want to sign Borussia Dortmund’s Marco Reus if they fail to commit Mesut Ozil or Alexis Sanchez to new deals.
Reus was once the name on very big side’s wish list.
In January 2015, the Metro told its readers: “Chelsea target Marco Reus has snubbed a move to the Premier League to agree to join Real Madrid”. The same paper later said Reus wanted to join Liverpool. He stayed at Dortmund.
That the Press have no idea is clear. But the Telegraph says it’s all true. Reus to Arsenal will happen if the Gunners fail to extends Alexis Sanchez’s deal.
As Arsenal fans wonder why the club doesn’t buy Reus anyhow the BBC says another old favourite is on the Arsenal radar: Julian Draxler. The Express says the Gunners have scraped together £30m for Wolfsburg’s 23-year-old Germany midfielder.
It was back in January 2014, the Mirror reported: ” Arsenal and Schalke agree fee for midfielder Julian Draxler.” They didn’t.
In July 2016, the Sun said: “Julian Draxler to Arsenal: Gunners bid £43m for Euro 2016 star.” A few months later and that star has fallen by £13m.
On August 3, the Mail told readers: “Julian Draxler confirms he’s asked to leave Wolfsburg as Arsenal and Juventus continue to show interest.”
Or as the Sun put it on that very day: “JU CAN HAVE HIM Arsenal transfer news: Julian Draxler wants to leave Wolfsburg but Juventus move is off after Italians cool interest.”
Juventus don’t want Draxler. It’s Arsenal or no-one. Which brings us to October 9, when the Mirror added: “Arsenal and Juventus to battle it out for wantaway Wolfsburg star Julian Draxler.”
So will Draxler come to Arsenal? The Sun links his transfer to Ozil’s future at the club. “Mesut Ozil ‘wants Arsenal to sign £30million Julian Draxler’ so he will extend his own contract,” says the paper. “Germany midfielder has pleaded with Emirates bosses to snap up the Wolfsburg star who looks set to leave in January.”
If Arsenal can get Draxler or Reus, and secure Sanchez and Ozil on new deals, the future looks promising. But as we’ve seen, nothing is certain.
Arsenal lost to Manchester City in yesterday’s battle of the Middle Eastern Airlines – Etihad 2, Emirates 1 – and look well set to secure 4th place, a slot they’ve occupied so many times you wonder when the Premier League will award it to them in perpetuity. But Arsenal manger Arsene Wenger is unhappy. It’s a “REFFFING DISGRACE”, says the Sun as Wenger “rages at officials” over City’s two “offside” goals.
“There is a real problem of refereeing in England, they are a bit in their comfort zone,” says Wenger. “Referees are protected like the lions in the zoo… I looked at the goals – both are offside. The second is five yards offside but what can you do?”
The second strike, by Raheem Sterling, was clearly offside. Arsenal goalkeeper Petr Cech says David Silva’s dash into his line of vision – making the Spaniard around 5 yards offside – meant he could not see the shot that beat him at the near post. In “Offside? No way” the Sun lets former ref Mark Halsey rule on the goals. He says Leroy Sane, who scored City’s first, was “fractionally offside”. The story should be headlined ‘Offside? Yes.’ But Halsey decides the officials got it right in getting it wrong. He then says Cech is wrong – Silva’s run across him for goal number two did not interfere with his line of vision.
On pages 52 and 53, David Kidd says Wenger is just a moaner, Arsenal are “not fit to lace” Chelsea’s boots and Sane was “onside”.
Picking up the “lions” theme, the Star says Arsenal are more “pussycats” than kings of the jungle. The team lack “bottle and fight”. They need a “miracle” if they are to win the Premier League. As ever, says the paper, Arsenal started well and then faded as the home side got improved. Arsenal “shied away from the scrap”. Arsenal’s most expensive player, Mesus Oil “was anonymous”. No. He was worse than that. He was a liability, failing to chase the ball and close down the opposition. Players will run through walls for Chelsea boss Antonio Conte. For Wenger, they won’t step through a puddle.
The Express also leads with the match. We read that Leroy Sane was offside and David Silva was “clearly in an offside position – and distracting Petr Cech – as Raheem Sterling fired home the second”. But “there is no excuse for Arsenal’s failure to force a save out of Claudio Bravo in the second half”. The result, says Richard Tanner, underlines the “difference in attitude” between the two sides. Manchester City wanted it. Arsenal not so much. For that lack of desire, the club must look at Arsene Wenger. Can he still inspire his team to the title? No. Can he make more money for the bankers who run the club as a cash cow? Yes.
Football used to be a funny old game. Nowadays it’s just a moneymaking machine. Just take Mesut Ozil, the Arsenal player the Gunners bought for £42.5m Is he hungry? Is he desperate to win? The talk has been all about him extending his Arsenal contract and securing a massive hike in his already massive wages.
Ozil has talent. But does he have desire? Does his ossified manager, Arsenal Wenger, inspire him to run through brick walls for the cause?
This is Ozil playing against Manchester City. He wouldn’t run though a puddle:
Ozil just ball watching pic.twitter.com/wJKFRjL2Xg
— DAVW (@Goalskjaer) December 18, 2016
You can’t buy passion.
Amid all the guff about Alexis Sanchez being offered £400,000-a-minute to play in a Chinese shopping mall, Arsenal’s 27-year-old forward says he is very happy in North London. So he’ll sign a new deal and stay at the club? “It really doesn’t depend on me [but] if they want to show confidence in me,” he tells Sky Sports, which headlines the words, “Alexis Sanchez admits the onus is on Arsenal in contract tug-of-war.”
Someone should tell Sanchez that ‘no comment’ is always a comment. He says: “I’ve told my agent I don’t want to speak about this too much when all the rumours are going around – it can distract a player from their main focus of concentration… I’ve got an agent who deals with all of this… I’ve told my agent I don’t want to speak about this sort of thing.”
So why agree to an interview with Sky? Is this interview part of Sanchez’s negotiating tactics?
To the Sun this is a “shock ultimatum”. Sanchez just wants money. Lots and lots and lots of money. If Arsenal pay him what he wants he’ll kiss the badge. If not, 100 men and a dog (sandwich) will get the befit of his brilliance in the Chinese Super League.
The Sun’s “Show Me The Money” headline makes Sanchez sound like a greedy so-and-so. But football is all about the talent getting their dues. If he’s worth it, Arsenal will need to cough up. The Mail says the club have offered him £180,000-a-week. He wants £240,000.
But is money all Sanchez wants? “I enjoy the relationship with the fans. I want to achieve more for them,” says Sanchez. “I want to win the Premier League and the Champions League.”
And if Arsenal wants to win the big tin pots, too, they’ll have to hang on their prize asset.
Media Balls – a look at biased football reporting. Arsenal beat Stoke City 3-1 in the Premier League. Stoke’s goal, the first of the match, came via the penalty spot. Should it have been a given? Should the Arsenal player have been sent off? Let’s see what the media says:
Terry Butcher (BBC Radio 5 Live): “Joe Allen’s touch was a little heavy, but he nicked the ball before the challenge. It was a very soft penalty to give away.”
Butcher says it was definitely a foul.
But might it have been worse? The BBC’s Kevin Killbane says “Granit Xhaka goes over the top on Joe Allen.” Other news sources see an elbow.
Daily Mail: “Joe Allen and Granit Xhaka both went for the ball, both missed it and the Arsenal man caught Allen near the eye with his elbow. No hesitation from the referee but looked a bit soft.”
Did Xhaka mean to use his elbow?
Daily Telegraph: “Allen runs into the box and takes a poor touch and IT’S A PENALTY! Xhaka leaves his elbow up as he tackles and absolutely clatters Allen in the face.”
Stoke Sentinel: “Penalty to Stoke in the 27th minute. Xhaka’s clumsy swipe caught Joe Allen. It was also an elbow.”
The Stoke City website: “TV replays appeared to show Xhaka catch Allen with an elbow as he clattered into him.”
Both Stoke sources ask questions of Xhaka, who wasn’t booked. Maybe the referee missed the elbow?
Let’s see what the local Arsenal newspaper said.
The Islington Gazette: “It was a reckless challenge that also left Allen needing treatment on an eye injury. Despite the boos from the home support it was a clear penalty.”
And now for the Arsenal website. Was Allen clattered? Was there an elbow? Did Xhaka go over the top and take a ‘swipe’ at Allen with his elbow? Says Arsenal’s man in the know: “The penalty was awarded after Joe Allen collided with Granit Xhaka in the area.”
It was a simple collision, says the Arsenal website, “an accident that happens when two players hit each other with force.
The last words are with the managers.
Arsene Wenger, the Arsenal boss: “We got a very unlucky penalty against us because it is not even a foul in my opinion.”
Mark Hughes, the Stoke boss: “I’ve not seen the incident again, but at the time I thought there was a collision and Joe spilt blood as a consequence, so clearly there has been a collision, but I can’t say if it was a penalty. A little bit of fortune maybe if it was a bit dubious.”
Looks like the Arsenal website was right. Maybe:
Arsenal balls: Ozil and Sanchez are ‘completely committed’ as agents and tabloids talk up their worth
Arsenal transfer news is all over the tabloids. With just 18 months remaining on there respective contracts, Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Oil are haggling for new deals and lots more cash. Are they going or staying? The media knows nothing, of course. The media had no clue either player was on Arsenal’s radar before they arrived and has no clue if they will sign a new deal.
The Mail says “YOU’RE STAYING”. Daily Star leads with “You’re Gunner stay”. Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger says the club will not be “held to ransom” by the players. Wenger says, “these players have 18 months left. They will stay for 18 months and hopefully much longer.”
The Mirror twists those words and leads with “Sanchez and Ozil WILL stay (but only for 18 months)”. Wenger “claims his £100m duo…will be allowed to leave Arsenal on free transfers at the end of their contracts rather than being sold next summer.”
That’s only right if you take half of what he said and ignore that bit about him wanting them to stay for longer and the 18 months being the only agreed element of the deal. Six pages inside the paper, readers get a fuller quote. They also learn that Ozil has been offered £200,000 a week, a hug increase on his current £140,000-a-week deal.
The Express has a fuller version of Wenger’s words, which the Mirror declined to report. “Eighteen months is long time in football.” says Wenger.” I can’t give any assurances. But they have 18 months and are completely committed. Beyond that they will try to extend their contracts. That’s a normal part of negotiating.”
The Mirror, of course, knows precisely what is going to happen, it having told us that at the end of this season, Wenger is leaving the club on June 30 2017.
Over in the Sun, it’s “FLY EMIRATES”. Wenger “admits he cannot guarantee” Ozil and Sanchez will stay at the club.
Neil Ashton uses his column to tell readers Ozil and Sanchez’s agents are “running rings around Arsenal’s deal maker Dick Law”. They are doing this, says Ashton, by comparing notes. Yeah, agents talk to one another and do their research. Who knew they were so professional? “If Ozil is offered £300,000-a-week or more for the next five years, Sanchez’s men get to hear about it first hand,” he adds: “With the form their clients are in, they hold all the aces.”
Not quite. They play for Arsenal, and must continue to preform at the highest level to prove their value.
Football’s not about contracts. It’s about teams. Football is not a means to an end. Top sport isn’t. It’s about doing your best and enjoying yourself. The incessant tabloid guff about money and contracts in football creates an impression that all footballers are disloyal and driven by money. To think Ozil and Sanchez think of bonuses when they score win or lose is to do them a disservice.
We get stories that Sanchez could earn £400,000-a-week playing in China. No word on whether he wants to or sees a new challenge in the Far East. Just the money.
“I believe personally, and maybe I am a bit naive, that it’s more about getting to meet the player’s needs. That’s more about the way the club has values, the way the club has ambition, the way the club respects the players,” says Wenger. “So I think, for me, that is more important nowadays and an important ingredient for every player to consider. The money is good everywhere for everybody. You know, nowadays, you negotiate with the agents more than with the player. We are in negotiations, yes. The players [Sánchez and Mesut Özil] are 18 months away from the end of their contracts, so it’s normal to be talking. But the players always come in at the end, when it’s a renewal, because with the first contract you need the players present. But after that, when you renew, 90% of the contracts are negotiated with the agents.”
Do they want to play for you? Would they enjoy it?
Agents are employed to maximise their clients’ earnings. But they also know that a happy client is a retained client. The agents don’t hold all the cards. It’s a balance. If Ozil and Sanchez’s agents are the top of the game they will strive not only for money but for their clients’ futures. Are they better off at Arsenal, where they are thriving and earning a fortune, or should they head o China, Chelsea or wherever else will give them more money?
The last words is from Ozil, who told the Times only last week:
“This is what I love about football…Even as a youngster playing against my older brother and his friends, I was never selfish. I didn’t want to be in focus. Even if people wanted to put me in the spotlight, I didn’t want it. I am not jealous if people are more successful than me. My passion on the pitch is to be successful not as an individual, but as a team. Often, it is my contribution that decides the game…
“You have to go for it, believe in yourselves, always have fun.”
Still think he’ll leave? No. Me neither.
Arsenal forwards Alexis Sanchez is on his way to Chelsea. Maybe. The Mirror leads with news that should Arsenal fails to give Sanchez the massive pay hike he wants, Chelsea will dip him, his dog, his mum and his house in Russian gold.
The root of this story is not guessology, but something close to it. The Mirror says Chelsea manager Antonio Conte really likes Sanchez, arguably the Premier League’s best player. And, er, that’s it.
This ‘news’ follows yesterday’s ‘news’ that Chinese investors are willing to spirit Sanchez to the Far East an pay him £400,000-a-week to kick a ball. You’d imagine that any club willing to pay that much will also pay an enormous transfer fee.
As Arsenal wonder what Sanchez is worth if someone is willing to pay him £50m a year, the rest of the media slavishly follow the Mirror’s fact-free scoop:
“Arsenal and Chelsea fans lose their minds on Twitter as Sanchez is linked with Blues move” – Express
“Chelsea prepare swoop for Alexis Sanchez amid contract stalemate” – IBTimes
“Chelsea chase Gunners superstar Alexis” – The Sun
Of course, we only know about the Chinese interest because Sanchez’s people have dropped it into conversation with Arsenal over a new deal. It’s a bit desperate from them. If he fancies it, he’d already have agreed to go and Arsenal would be talking about that massive transfer fee.
So Sanchez won’t head to China. He’ll stay in Europe, and if he and Arsenal are smart he’ll stay at the Emirates and earn closer to the £200,000 a week he wants.
Hard cheese, Arsenal. The Mirror leads not with the Gunners’ terrific 4-1 win over Basel, a win that means Arsenal top their Champions’ League group, but with news that Liverpool have inserted an “anti-Arsenal clause” in Roberto Firmino’s new contract.
Why Arsenal would want the Brazilian is moot. The Mirror just says that if they do, they need to pay more than any other club. Any club coughing up the absurd sum of £82m for Firmino can have him – “BUT NOT YOU ARSENAL.” The story is that Firmino’s release clause can be trigged by any club except Arsenal.
Should Arsenal be mad enough to off £82m for Firmino, Liverpool will point to player’s contract and tell them to come back with bigger offer. Maybe they can add a quid. Firmino’s contract, reasons the paper, is “revenge” for when Arsenal triggered Luis Suarez’s release clause with a bid of £40m and one pound. The Mirror adds that the Arsenal bid was made in the “mistaken belief that it would activate his release clause”.
Not quite. It did trigger the clause. But Liverpool didn’t honour it.
“I don’t know to what degree I should go into this – but [Suarez] had a buy-out clause of £40m,” said Liverpool owner John Henry. “But what we’ve found over the years is that contracts don’t seem to mean a lot in England – actually not in England, in world football. It doesn’t matter how long a player’s contract is, he can decide he’s leaving. We sold Fernando Torres for £50m. We didn’t want to sell but we were forced to. For the first time [with Suarez] we took the position that we weren’t selling.”
So Firmino’s release clause is utter balls, then.
Such are the facts.
As headlines go, the Sun’s is unequivocal: “RALPH HAS THE JOB”. The paper reports that Arsene Wenger is to replaced as Arsenal manager by Ralph Hasenhuttl. Reading on, we get more facts: “Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger to be replaced by RB Leipzig coach Ralph Hasenhuttl.”
Wow! Wenger’s finally been given the heave-ho.
As Gunners fans look up Hasenhuttl, the Sun whispers, “Austrian sensationally confirms he could takeover the Gunners.”
The Sun adds: “Austrian chief, who has led his side to the top of the Bundesliga table, claims he may take over at the Emirates next season.”
The facts that had Arsenal fans excited are now less than factual.
So how did the Sun gets the story? Well, the Austrian appears to have seen q story in the Sun that he’s bene linked to the Arsenal job and responded:
“It was a well-researched story. There was a lot of truth to it. I have heard of worse fates than succeeding the longest-serving manager in England. It’s not damaging my reputation, is it? We don’t have to put too much thought into [the Arsenal job]. I have found my luck here.”
Which bits contained truth and which bits contained non-truths, Hasenhuttl didn’t say.
Southampton fans looking for reports on their team’s 0-2 victory away to Arsenal in the League Cup will disappointed to see their team get second or ever third billing to the Gunners boss Arsene Wenger. The crux of the match report is that Southampton less won the match than Arsenal lost it.
Arsenal’s Wenger made 10 changes to the team that beat Bournemouth last weekend. Southampton’s Claude Puel made eight changes to the team that beat Everton.
Given that the Gunners could still all upon a wealth of experience in the expensive legs of Aaron Ramsey, Kieran Gibbs, Gabriel, Lucas Perez, Xhaka and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, a player signed from Southampton’s prodigious academy for £17m, Southampton deserve more plaudits. They did not defeat Arsenal’s “kids”. They beat a wealthier team on their home patch. For the Sun to says on its lead sports page, “Arsenal didn’t turn up” is absurd.
Arsenal balls: Hector Bellerin’s Christmas comes early and ‘superb’ Carl Jenkinson is dropped permanently
When Gabriel came on for Arsenal as replacement for the injured Mathieu Debuchy in yesterday’s Premier League match against Bournemouth, Arsene Wenger was not surprised. “When I picked the squad I imagined that something could happen to Debuchy,” said the Arsenal manager.
Gabriel, the pacy Brazilian with the look of a 1950s mobster, was not all that convincing in the role. Should Arsenal fans be panicked? The Evening Standard says they should be, noting that “a fit Carl Jenkinson” was “left entirely out of the squad after two disappointing displays against Manchester United and Paris St Germain”.
He was dropped. Not rested?
At the United match, Carl Jenkinson made his first Premier League start for Arsenal in over two years. The Standard said “there’ll be a few more ahead of him with Hector Bellerin sidelined for around a month.” (Bellerin was injured on November 6).
So how did Jenkinson play against United? Well, the Standard told us: “Jenkinson defends superbly.”
The Mirror scored Jenkinson as Arsenal’s joint best defender in the 1-1 draw at Old Trafford: “Jenkinson – 7. Solid defensively, didn’t get much chance to go forward but passed a big test.”
How did Jenkinson do against PSG? The Standard’s live blog told us:
Jenkinson gets in a crossing position… and blazes his effort over the bar. It is greeted with major moans from the Emirates faithful but what more are you expecting from a reserve right back just back from a serious injury?
The Mirror told its readers: “Jenkinson 7 – Worked hard, got forward and played his heart out. Very committed.”
The Express had a score: “Worked hard and got forward well – 7”
So back to the Standard, then, which ignores its own reports to say that Jenkinson has no future at the Gunners. James Benge writes:
Having dispensed with Jenkinson for Sunday’s game Wenger now has no choice but to persevere with the 24-year-old for at least the next fortnight, with Bellerin potentially sidelined until Christmas.
From being “superb” and worth a 7 out of 10 – and this a from player returning from a lengthy injury (“What more can you expect?”) – Jenkinson is now not even an option.
Oh, and is Bellerin out until Christmas? It’s unlikely. Because four days ago the Sun reported: “HEC OF A BOOST Arsenal injury news: Hector Bellerin hands Gunners boss Arsene Wenger a boost as he is set to return to training next week.”
Look out for more utter balls in newspapers’ football reporting every day.
The Sun has news that Perrie Edwards, a singer with X-Factor products Little Mix, has been on “dates” with Arsenal footballer Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain. Apparently, she watched Arsenal play Spurs from Alex’s “personal box at the Emirates’ Stadium”. Perrie sat in the wingback seats at the Emirates library after browsing the club shop.
We then learn that Perrie is “keen to keep the relationship quiet”. An unnamed source hammers this point hime by opining in the national tabloid: “They don’t follow each other on social media as they know a connection might give the game away.”
Better to sit in the player’s own box amid 60,000 other souls at a televised football match to keep it on the hush-hush.
PS: This is how the Sun followed up its scoop:
Rose Hill writes:
LITTLE Mix’s Perrie Edwards showed that she was fully over her ex Luke Pasqualino – by wearing her new man’s team colours as she hit the stage in Italy.
Here’s the replica Arsenal strip Perrie wore:
Arsenal play in red and white. Edwards is wearing red and black.
Such are the facts.
Should Edinson Cavani have been sent off in PSG’s Champions’ League match at Arsenal? The Star says the striker “cuffed” Arsenal’s Aaron Ramsey “on the chin”.
John Cross tells Mirror readers, “Cavani clearly aimed a punch at Aaron Ramsay. No surprise that Cavani missed Ramsey’s face.”
Tony Banks tells Express readers, “Cavani appeared to punch Aaron Ramsey on the jaw.”
Charlie Wyett tells Sun readers, “Cavani lashed out at Aaron Ramsey – he should have been sent off.”
In the Mail things become more confusing. We see Cavani “losing it”. He “plants his hand into Ramsey’s neck”. Sami Mokbel says Cavani “aimed a punch at Ramsey”. The Mail says Cavani slapped Ramsey.
Writing in the Mail, former referee Graham Poll counters his own paper by accusing Ramsey of “playacting”. He says “Ramsey was not touched on his face – but Cavani escaped the yellow card he deserved”.
Such are the facts.
Drama ahead of tonight’s Champions’ League between Arsenal and Paris St Germain. In an “EXCLUSIVE”, the Star thunders: “Serge Aurier’s career could be ruined after he was banned from entering Britain to face Arsenal tonight.”
You can read the same story on the Sun’s back page, where Arsenal’s hopes have received a boost from the Home Office. Aurier has been banned from entering the UK as a result of his conviction for assaulting a police officer in Paris. In September the 23-year-old Ivorian was found guilty of elbowing his victim as he left a Paris nightclub in May. He was sentenced to two months in jail and fined €600.
The club have not sacked him. The incident has not left his carder in ruins. But, apparently, not playing Arsenal might.
The Star’s twist on the story is based on the words of Aurier’s lawyer, Claire Boutaud de la Combe, who “fears it could leave his career in tatters”. Really?
“Under France law he remains innocent until this appeal has been heard,” says de la Combe. “But such an appeal can take quite a long time, especially in Paris. It will take several months, maybe one year. We don’t understand why this has become a problem, there is no reason for his. Now this is a worry because maybe it will stop him being able to travel to other countries to play for PSG or the Ivory Coast because they will also not allow him entry.”
In February, PSG suspended Aurier for a Champions’ League match against Chelsea following comments he made about the coach, Laurent Blanc, and his team-mates on social media. The season before that, Uefa banned Aurier for three matches ‘after last season’s Champions League game against Chelsea following a video posted on Facebook in which he labelled the referee Bjorn Kuipers a “dirty son of a bitch” over the sending-off of his team-mate Ibrahimovic.’
PSG are getting used to playing Champions’ League matches without Aurier, who is, nonetheless, picked to play when not banned. His career is not in tatters. Far from it.
Oh, and to put the tin lid on this balls, note that the source is the Star, the paper that told us – yep – Aurier agreed to join the Gunners is 2014.
A fact echoed by the Star’s sister paper, the Express:
Aurier singed for PSG.
Transfer balls: On October 14 2016, the Daily Mirror told its readers: “Arsenal’s Hector Bellerin wants to go to Manchester City.” That headline was part of the Mirror’s transfer rumours round-up. The paper stated:
Hector Bellerin could reject an offer to stay at Arsenal and leave for Manchester City in the summer…
That was based on a Times report: “Bellerín tempted by City and Barcelona.” If he was, Bellerin wasn’t saying as much. All we got was:
Sources close to the player insist that Bellerín’s preference is to join City, where he would be reunited with Pep Guardiola.
The Press has been linking Bellerin, once a winger at Barcelona’s youth teams, with a return to Spain and a move to Man City. In April 2015, the Star told readers:
He said that? No. He didn’t. “The Arsenal is giving me everything I am with amazing players. I do not think about the future. I just started,” said Bellerin.”I thank the people who speak well of me, but I’m only in the beginning. What has to arrive, will arrive.”
But in this era of clickbait balls, the Telegraph ignored the facts to thunder: “Hector Bellerin could leave for Manchester City or Barcelona.”
And so to the London Evening Standard, which declares today:
Hector Bellerin: I never thought about leaving Arsenal – this is my home
Having just signed a new deal to remain at Arsenal until 2023, Bellerin tells the Arsenal website:
“I’m really, really happy and this club is my home… I’ve been here for more than five years now so I was really, really excited when the club told me that they wanted to extend my contract. I wasn’t thinking about anything else other than staying here and continuing my development here. This is where I’m happy. I’m just very grateful and pleased to have signed. Arsenal is not only about being a footballer, you have to be good person to play here. That’s what everyone transmits inside the club. You represent more than just a football club.”
Such are the facts.
Media Balls: a look at reporting on Manchester Untied v Arsenal in the Premier League. In the first half ManchesterUnited had a shout for a penalty. It wasn’t given. Was that the right decision? Let’s see what the not-at-all-biased experts in the media say:
Mark Lawrenson – the former Liverpool defender was talking on BBC Radio 5 live: “I think it’s good refereeing from Andre Marriner with the penalty appeal – it’s borderline and he’s reffed the game trying to let the teams play.”
Phil McNulty – BBC Sport chief football writer at Old Trafford: “Jose Mourinho had every right to be aggrieved at that penalty refusal. Clumsy from Nacho Monreal in a very dangerous position.”
Phil Neville – ex Man United player on twitter: “It’s a rugby tackle”
Gary Nevill – ex Man United: “I don’t think it’s a penalty, I wouldn’t be comfortable with it”
The Arsenal website: “Valencia had a big shout for a penalty turned down after getting in a tangle with Monreal”
The Manchester Untied website: “Then came the big talking point of the first half as Valencia, who was making his first appearance since braking his arm in the EFL Cup win over Manchester City, seemed to be clearly pulled down by Nacho Monreal in the penalty area, but referee Marriner said waved his arms in disapproval of United’s claims. ”
The Guardian: “And although Jose Mourinho jigs around on the touchline, holding his head in theatrical exasperation, it’s probably a good decision having seen the replay.”
Manchester Evening News: “Andre Marriner was booed as he headed down the tunnel and it was deserved. United have suffered some terrible non-decisions against them this season: Bravo on Rooney, the foul on Martial at Watford in the build-up to their goal, Luiz’s challenge on Fellaini, the non-penalty after Flanagan clipped Darmian and now today’s. Mourinho might be talking about another ‘campaign’ later.”
London Evening Standard: “Penalty surely? Valencia goes down under contract from Monreal, Mourinho is livid as Marriner gives nothing! Replays suggest the referee may just have got that spot on, the attacker was already on his way down when he connected with Arsenal’s left-back.”
Mark Lawrenson (again):”No, I have to say in that position, it’s quite natural. No penalty.”
And one other decision – one not mentioned by the Manchester Evening News at all:
BBC live blog: “Matteo Darmian was unlucky to be booked earlier but he’s perhaps even luckier now to still be on the field. He catches Carl Jenkinson high and late and should get a second yellow. Referee Andre Marriner has let him off the hook there.”
Such are the facts.
Is Arsenal’s Mesut Ozil all set to join Manchester United? The Guardian fans the rumour by musing, “are Manchester United eyeing Mesut Özil?” If the news media don’t know, the answer should be ‘no’.
Jacob Steinberg says Manchester United “have been alerted to Mesut Özil’s hesitation” in agreeing a new deal to lengthen his stay at Arsenal. How they’ve been alerted is moot. Did Ozil’s agent tell United. Did Arsenal? And why mention this now, just a few days before Manchester Untied host Arsenal in the Premier League?
The thinking is that United manager Jose Mourinho “wants a reunion with Özi”, whom he managed at Real Madrid.
The Sun says United will offer Ozil £250,000 a week, far higher than the £200,000 a week the Gunners are reportedly willing to pay.
It’s a story built on wet sand. We know United pay bigger wages than Arsenal. We know that Ozil is happy in North London. We know that Man United are not soaring ion the Premier League.
Maybe Jose can get a new model Ozil, as the Metro says Peter Gwargis – “dubbed the new Mesut Ozil” – is attracting interest from Gunners? “Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger has his eye on Mesut Ozil’s apparent successor,” says the paper. How good is this younger Ozil. “The teenager is yet to turn out for Husqvarna’s first-team,” says the Metro. Oh, that good, then.
Finally, ESPN assures Arenal fans that Ozil “won’t betray Wenger”. It then delivers a host of reasons why Ozil to United is non-starter. They can be distilled into one salient point: he’s under contract at Arsenal.
Such are the facts.
Is Robin Van Persie blind? Has the former Arsenal captain and Manchester United striker succumbed to a dreadful eye injury? The Sun suggests there are “fears he will never see again”.
A click on the story and we’re told:
There were fears that the Dutchman could have lost his sight in the clash.
Well, yes. Fears not exactly discouraged by the Sun’s reporting:
Inverted commas (just like question marks – see pretty much every transfer news story in the Mirror) don’t show up in Google News. So what is complete balls can be presented as fact.
Will Van Persie see again? Yes. First up, he damaged one eye – a ripped eyelid. Van Persie has two eyes. His being blinded was never likely.
The Sun reports: “Fenerbahce doctor Burak Kunduracıoğl seemed to quash fears…”. He seemed to quash fears? Not quite. He quashed them flat. He said: “After the investigations we learned that nothing important happened… His condition is good.”
Says Van Persie: “My eye is not damaged.”
Robin Van Persie is not blind – but the Sun’s reporting is a tad monocular.