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.”
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.”
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 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.”
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.
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.
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.
IN THE NECK!
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”.
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:
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.”
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.”
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.
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.
Media Balls: Arsenal draw 1-1 with Spurs in the Premier League.
Spurs scored from a penalty. Should it have been awarded?
BBC: “Koscielny was harshly penalised for a foul on Mousa Dembele in the box”
Spurs website: “…the excellent Mousa Dembele was brought down in the box by Laurent Koscielny.”
Arsenal website: “Dembele’s slaloming run into the box provoking a mistimed challenge from Koscielny.”
The Guardian: “This looks controversial as well. Dembele falls over just inside the box after a tackle from Koscielny, and Mark Clattenburg gives a penalty. Replays suggest it was a good decision.”
The Mirror: “A lazy, brainless challenge from Laurent Koscielny on the impressive Mousa Dembele resulted in a penalty.”
The Arsenal goal, scored by Tottenham’s Kevin Wilmer:
The Telegraph: “Spurs could rightly be aggrieved that at least two Arsenal players were offside when Ozil swung his set-piece in but the goal stood and Arsenal held the lead at the interval.”
The Guardian: “Arsenal’s pressure has told. Ozil’s inswinging free-kick is headed down into the corner of his own net by Kevin Wimmer. He was stretching towards his own goal, and had to do something with two Arsenal players behind him – but those two players were offside, so Spurs will feel pretty aggrieved.”
Sky: “Arsenal took the lead three minutes before half-time as Ozil’s free-kick was diverted by Wimmer’s head into his own goal, though the replays showed that Sanchez, who did not touch the ball but was arguably involved in play, was offside from the German’s cross.”
The Express: “Both Sanchez and Laurent Koscielny were in offside positions next to him but judged not to be interfering – as if the derby needed a bit of controversy to feed the emotions – and moments later an unseemly squabble led by Jan Vertonghen and Theo Walcott set things up nicely for the second half. At least referee Mark Clattenburg got the first big decision of the second period right – spotting Koscielny’s trip on Mousa Dembele just inside the area and pointing to the spot.”
Transfer balls: The Mirror says Arsenal are “lining up a bid” for a “£54million Uruguay starlet”. Who is he?
It’s Atletico Madrid and Uruguay “starlet” Jose Maria Gimenez.
The Sun is the Mirror’s source. It says Manchester United also monitoring the 21-year-old “wonderkid”.
The Sun offers up no source for this news that Arsenal are going to bid a record sum for the young player. But it does note:
Arsenal are building their Premier League title challenge with Shkodran Mustafi and Laurent Koscielny at the heart of his defence. But German international defender Per Mertesacker has had knee trouble while Brazilian Gabriel Paulista has fallen down the pecking order. That leaves just former Bolton trainee Rob Holding as cover.
No. It leaves Paulista and Holding as cover for the first choice pairing. And then there’s Calum Chambers, out on loan at Middlesbrough. As for Paulista, he was high up the pecking order until he got injured before the season began. Now fit, he’s been on the bench for Arsenal Premier League matches – indeed, he was ahead of Holding when the Gunners last played at home.
PS: for today’s North London derby versus Spurs, Gabriel is on the bench. Holding didn’t make it that high up the pecking order.
“I think it was tough and I certainly don’t think we deserved to lose 4-1.”
He’s right. How they scored 1 was odd. Sunderland had a single shot on target over the 93 minutes – and that was from the penalty spot.
“We worked hard, really hard to stay in the game first half when Arsenal were very good. We stuck at it and I thought we grew into the game second half. And at that point I thought we were the better team when we got back into the game at one each. But their quality all over the pitch is always going to cause you a problem.”
Arsenal were pretty good in the second half, too, and found their finishing boots.
The paper has one more story on the match. Story two nails it in the headline. “Sunderland 1 Arsenal 4: Black Cats plunge further into relegation trouble after Gunners run riot.”
The paper looks at an Arsenal penalty appeal: “Sanchez had a strong penalty appeal turned down, with Kone appearing to trip the Arsenal forward inside the area. His theatrics earlier possibly going against him.”
The BBC says of that: “Arsenal were still smarting from referee Martin Atkinson not awarding them a penalty for Kone appearing to pull back Sanchez when Defoe gave Sunderland hope.”
The Guardian: “Arsenal were furious not to be awarded a legitimate looking penalty when Koné caught Sánchez on the back of the leg and sent him tumbling in the area.”
A pull? A trip? A catch? Theatrics.
TheIslington Gazette doesn’t mention the failed penalty appeal at all – it looked a foul. The Arsenal local paper is generous to praise Sunderland fans:
Sunderland’s passionate fans were right behind the team from the off. And the fact they average more than 40,000, and, incredibly, took 1,200 fans to Southampton this week for a League Cup game, was reason enough to believe their team weren’t going to lie down and die.
There were many less in the ground when the final whistle blew. The Guardian:
Mid-way through the second half the ground began emptying. For many the pain of watching Sunderland register a record equalling worst start to a Premier League season was simply too painful too witness but they missed out on some exquisite football from Arsenal.
The Sun appears to have been watching a different match:
With Arsenal dominating and Sunderland making to make any impact, Duncan Watmore inspired a Black Cats fightback, racing clear on goal, only to be brought down by Petr Cech.
A fightback? Sunderland scored on minute 65. Their fightback was followed by goals for Arsenal on minutes 78′ minutes, Giroud 76 and 71 minutes.
Transfer balls: The Daily Star says Arsenal midfielder Mesut Ozil, 28, was involved in transfer talks over the summer. The club? Fenerbahce.
It would be remarkable were the German star to leave the Gunners for the Turkish side.
TheDaily Starsays this is an “Arsenal transfer bombshell”. It says Ozil has held “secret talks with another club” during a 17-hour stay in Istanbul. The Sun agrees: “Ozil held secret talks with Turkish giants Fenerbahce.”
The source for this isHurriyet, which says Ozil will “surely play for Fenerbahce in the coming years”.
How they know this is moot. We only know that Ozil is engaged in talks to extend his Arsenal deal. Talk of another rich club getting involved should hurry things along and up any offer, right?
And none of this is new news. In 2015, the Metro reported that Ozil could be on his way to Fenerbahce.
The Express reported: “Arsenal to receive ‘serious’ bid for Mesut Ozil next summer – agent.”
Vatan reported that the source of all this is Fenerbahce president Aziz Yildirim, who made it know that he loves Ozil.
Money in football is always a news story to get people angry and agitated. The BBC says Arsenal chief executive Ivan Gazidis will face “intense questioning from shareholders” over his salary .
The BBC says he earns £2.65m a year. Better perhaps to break his salary down into weekly components, much as the media does for players. It’s about £51,000 a week.
The Daily Mailpicks up the story. “Arsenal chief executive Ivan Gazidis faces flak over £1m jackpot,” says the headline. Charles Sale tells of Ivan’s “extraordinary” salary. Is it that extraordinary?
In 2014, the HuffPost told us Daily Mail editor Paul Dacre earns a basic £1,311,975 salary and a £500,000 “supplement” for each full year he completes after his 60th birthday. The Mail’s chief executive earns over £2m a year.
So what is extraordinary about a top executive at a large company earning such a sum?
The Mail told readers in March 2016, Aston Villa’s chief executive Tom Fox earned £1.25m.
Maybe Ivan’s being underpaid.
In 2016, the Guardian reported: “UK’s top bosses received 10% pay rise in 2015 as average salary hit £5.5m.” (Guardian chief David Pemsel gets a £600k salary.)
Sale then takes a flight of fancy:
The Emirates Stadium summit…is normally used by Arsenal fans to interrogate manager Arsene Wenger about his transfer plans. But with the Gunners joint top of the table, Gazidis will be in the firing line instead.
Fans will more worried about the chief exec’s pay than they will playing matters?
Transfer balls: Will Arsenal keep Mesut Ozil beyond his contract, which expires in 2018? The media has been chattering about this for months.
Today Sky Sports says Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger “believes challenging for titles” will “convince” Ozil to sign an Arsenal contract extension.
Or as Wenger puts it, “I don’t think he needs convincing.” Ah. “He wants to stay here. If you have a good bank, call me! It’s not just money. Arsenal can win titles of course. But that’s what we have to show. We are in a league where Manchester City, Manchester United, Liverpool, Tottenham, Chelsea, everybody fights and you cannot guarantee that.”
The BBC says says Arsenal “will have to spend big” to keep the German.
Ten man Arsenal beat Swansea City 3-2 after open game marred by Granit Xhaka’s harsh sending off
Layth Yousif writes:
Yes it was a cynical trip. But a straight red when there were plenty of men covering and no apparent danger. If new rules were designed to clarify situations such as these, the fear is that changes – however well-intentioned – have only served to muddy the waters. Again.
Arsenal 3 Swansea City 2: Bob Bradley’s team proud in defeat against 10-man Gunners
Xhaka’s afternoon then went from bad to worse, the Swiss hardman seeing red for a cynical challenge on Modou Barrow. Arsenal protests were waved away by referee Jon Moss.
And Walcott’s hat-trick, the one the Sun says he was “cruelly denied”?
Walcott misses a sitter just before the full-time whistle. Swansea gave 10-man Arsenal a massive fright here
As for the red card, the rules were altered, as the BBC writes:
Players who commit a foul to deny a goalscoring opportunity will no longer automatically be sent off, football’s rule-making body has confirmed. The previous ‘triple-punishment’ rule required a red card – and therefore a suspension – as well as the award of a penalty under those circumstances.
However, players committing accidental fouls that deny a goalscoring chance will now be cautioned instead. But deliberate fouls will still incur a red card.
Those include holding, pulling or pushing, not playing the ball, serious foul play, violent conduct or deliberate handball in order to deny a goalscoring opportunity.
More BBC Transfer Balls as the State broadcaster tells readers to its website – and why doesn’t the BBC just publish a newspaper? – “Manchester United target Isco has hinted he may leave Real Madrid at the end of the season.”
With not a single fact to support its headline news, we follow a link to the Manchester Evening Post, which declares: “Manchester United get Isco boost as he explains Real Madrid situation.” What said the player who started one league match for Real last season? “If I’ve still only made a few appearances by the end of the season, I’ll look elsewhere,” says Isco. “At 24 years of age I have to right to better myself.”
Over on TalkSport that becomes: “Tottenham transfer news: Top target Isco admits he could leave Real Madrid if his situation doesn’t change.”
The Metro is less precise, saying all top-flight clubs are in for the players: “Isco puts Premier League clubs on red alert by revealing he could leave Real Madrid.”
Bournemouth, Hull and Swansea have heard Isco’s words and sounded the klaxon.
Is Isco really leaving Real? The Press hasn’t got the foggiest.
The Mail told us on October 6: “Real Madrid midfielder Isco ‘is primary transfer target for Juventus’.”
That followed the Express’s news of 19 Sep 2016: “JUVENTUS are not interested in signing Tottenham target Isco from Real Madrid.”
In June, El Confidentialreported that Isco had agreed to join Manchester City 25 million euros.
In March, the Metro had other news: “Isco is a priority for Guardiola, with City now seemingly ready to beat the Gunners to his signature.”
They didn’t. Isco stayed at Real Madrid.
Time, then, to hear from the player himself. On October 5, Sky Sports told us: “Isco determined to fight for Real Madrid place under Zinedine Zidane.”
Asked by Marca if he considered an exit, Isco said: “Not really, I have two years left on my Real contract, the club said nothing and I never looked for anything to leave… In the end, if I’m not the star man with (Carlo) Ancelotti, (Rafa) Benitez or Zidane, I will not be foolish and look for problems where there are none. In the end, I’m responsible and that’s where I must improve. There are ups and downs and I won’t give up, I fight to the end and want to prove that I’m fit for Madrid.”
Who are “The 50 best players in the Premier League”? You could decide this with transfer fees, goals scored, goals conceded, where a player polled in the PFA awards and the Football writers’ awards, FIFA 17 ranking and any number of statistics betting shops and fantasy leagues use to gage players.
The Mirror has opted for with guessing. Lowlights are:
48: “He’s still trying to find his feet at the Emirates, but there have already been signs – notably his goal at Hull – that the quality he has could lead him to be a top-15 player on lists such as this in future.”
Fingers crossed Granit makes 15. Will he be happy with a Top 20 spot?
We also learn that Anthony Martial (46 – Manchester United) is better than Wayne Rooney (50 – Manchester United).
Others are capable:
Steve Davis (47 – Southampton): “Capable in a variety of roles.”
Martial (as above): “He’s capable of beating a man to tee up a teammate or score himself.”
Ross Barkley (45 – Everton): “He’s capable of running a game from midfield.”
And on it goes. Over the next few days the Mirror will continue its countdown.
PS: For those of you who can’t wait to see who is top of the heap, in September 2016 the Mirror said the best player in the Premier League is Zlatan Ibrahimovic. He’s a capable lad.
Transfer balls: a look at football reporting. The BBC says Chelsea are looking to cash in on Eden Hazard, the player once billed as the “new Lionel Messi”. The BBC says Chelsea will tie a big bag of cash to the 25-year-old Belgium and offer to swap the lot for Juventus and Italy defender Leonardo Bonucci, 29.
The SunsaysJuventus don’t want Hazard. They want Cesc Fabregas and an even bigger bag of cash – £50m – for Bonucci.
In other Chelsea news, the Star says the blues are keen on Borussia Dortmund striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang. Manchester City also want him. Aubameyang doesn’t want to play for either of them, preferring a move to Real Madrid.
City have loads of cash. Will they outbid Real? News is that last summer they offered £170m for Barcelona’s Neymar. The Citizens thought they’d get their man. Mundo Deportivo says Manchester United, Real Madrid and Paris St-Germain matched that bid. And all failed. Odd, indeed, that no other news sources got wind of these bids.
Maybe City will have better luck with Arsenal right-back Hector Bellerin, 21. Marca says Barcelona head the queue for the Arsenal flyer, who is happy at the Emirates.
As for the Gunners, well, Napoli chairman Aurelio De Laurentiis says Arsenal made a good offer for striker Gonzalo Higuain over the summer. “We received a request from Arsenal,” he told the Evening Standard. “Personally I also received a request from Atletico Madrid but they didn’t put enough money on the table. We were not ready to sell him – for me Higuain was not for sale.”
He was for sale. Higuain went to Juventus for £75.3m.
Of course, Sun readers know that Higuain joined the Gunners years ago: