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Arsenal | Anorak - Part 8

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Transfer Balls: Alvaro Morata expects Chelsea move, joins Arsenal and agrees to play for Manchester United

Transfer balls: Alvaro Morata has “agreed to join Manchester United” from Real Madrid. The BBC says a fee of “around £60m” has been agreed.

The Guardian says Morata’s agent, Juanma Lopez, has negotiated a deal for the former Juventus player’s move to United.

But the deal’s not done. And in the greedy world of the football meat trade, nothing is completed until the player pulls on the shirt and kisses the badge. The Guardian adds that negotiations between the clubs may not be straightforward because of friction relating to David de Gea:

United have frustrated Madrid’s attempts to sign the goalkeeper and fear the Spanish club will drive a hard bargain over Morata as a result. The De Gea issue has led to a strained relationship in the past, with a proposed move breaking down in 2015.

The BBC has jumped the gun – just as the Bleacher Report went too soon in 2014, when it reported that Morata had joined Arsenal, which he never did:

 

morata arsenal

Guillem Balague told readers:

Alvaro Morata, the 21-year-old striker who was considered a potential starter at Real Madrid in years to come, has agreed to join Arsenal. Not on loan, but transferred.

 

morata chelsea

 

And in February 2017, Morata was on his way to Chelsea, said the Telegraph:

Chelsea’s hopes of landing a significant transfer blow on Saturday’s opponents Arsenal have been boosted after Álvaro Morata told friends that he expects to move to Stamford Bridge in the summer.

And on May 25, the Express told its readers:

Real Madrid News: Alvaro Morata snubs Manchester United and Chelsea to agree AC Milan move

Either Morata isn’t a man of his word or else the media is full of utter balls.

 

Posted: 10th, June 2017 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, Chelsea, manchester united, Sports | Comment


Transfer balls: Kylian Mbappe goes from £17,000 to £114m as Arsenal, Chelsea and Manchester United get dizzy

Transfer balls: there’s lots of chatter about Arsenal, Chelsea and Manchester United bidding for Monaco’s Kylian Mbappe. The numbers are staggering – and mostly guesswork.

£17,000 – “Chelsea could have signed Kylian Mbappe for £17,000 as a 14-year-old – but SNUBBED the wonderkid” – Daily Mirror

 

 

Kylian Mbappe

 

£230,000 – “Arsenal could have signed Kylian Mbappe for just £230,000 last year” – Daily Mail

Rob Draper tells readers:

Arsenal could have signed Kylian Mbappe for just £230,000 last year but £100m-rated teenager heads list of targets…

He’s worth £100m.

Arsene Wenger’s side have put away €100m (£87.5m) for his signing

Curse those euros and pounds! Arsenal don’t have enough.

What do the other reports say – all are from this year?

£60m  – “INTER MILAN believe they can sign one of Europe’s most-wanted talents, Kylian Mbappe, on a discounted £60million fee.” – Express

£70m – “PARIS ST-GERMAIN are reportedly ready to offer £70m for Monaco sensation Kylian Mbappe.” – Daily Star

£80m – “Mbappe: Monaco’s £80m teenager” –  The Times

£85m – “Kylian Mbappe ‘says yes’ to Real Madrid move as Premier League giants appear to miss out on £85m starlet” – Daily Mail

£87m – “YOU’RE KYDDING ME Arsenal could have signed Kylian Mbappe for just £230,000 but could now have to spend over £87million for the Monaco striker” – Sun

£96m – “Monaco reject £96m bid for Kylian Mbappe from English club” – Express

£100m – “Manchester United enter £100million race to sign Monaco star Kylian Mbappe” – Manchester Evening News

£105m – “Arsenal have had a €100million euro (£87million) bid for Kylian Mbappe rejected by Monaco.” – Daily Telegraph

The offer is the third turned down already this summer by the French champions, including a world-record fee of €120million (£105million) made by Real Madrid.

£114m – “The France international, apparently valued by Monaco at a massive £114m” – Daily Star

 

And up it goes – where it stops, nobody knows.

Posted: 5th, June 2017 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, Chelsea, manchester united, Sports | Comment


Transfer balls: ‘free agent’ Ozil gets new Arsenal deal

Transfer balls: compare and contrast the reporting on Arsenal’s Mesut Oil.

June 1 2017: “Alexis Sanchez plans to quit Arsenal and Mesut Ozil will reject new deal before moving for free.”

June 2 2017: “Mesut Ozil ready to sign £280000 A WEEK new contract as Arsenal.”

 

mesut Ozil transfer news arsenal the sun

 

He’s not singed anything.

Posted: 2nd, June 2017 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, Sports | Comment


Transfer balls: Manchester United agree terms with Griezmann but don’t want him

Transfer balls: Antione Griezmann is not joining Manchester United. United have “shelved plans to sing Grizemann” (Sun); “United interest in Griezmann fades” (Express and Mirror); and “Ant shoved aside as Jose turns to Lukaku” (Daily Star) tells us all we need to know.

 

Griezman united

 

Regular tabloid readers will wonder what happened to the deal Griezmann had agreed to:

 

Antoine Griezman Manchester United

 

Antoine Griezman Manchester United

 

 

 

And then there are the newspapers that co-opt the newsbots into deceiving their readers. Google search engines don’t spot the question marks that punctuate utter balls. They read it as fact.

 

Antoine Griezman Manchester United

 

So why is Griezmann no longer on his way to United? Have they elbowed him aside? No. The Mirror notes that Atletico Madrid have been hit with a transfer ban for signing underage players. This means they Spanish side will “refuse” to sell their star player. So Griezmann stays in Spain.

The Times says he’s tying in Spain because United “decided instead to pursue a target man in light of Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s long-term knee injury.”

Such are the facts.

Posted: 2nd, June 2017 | In: Arsenal, Broadsheets, Sports, Tabloids | Comment


Arsenal balls: Arsene Wenger and the Daily Mirror’s fake news (scoops)

It was a busy season for Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger. The Daily Mirror and its reporter John Cross have been at the forefront of Wenger contract news. And the paper’s clear message was that he wasn’t going to sign one.  The paper knew. Wenger was out! And then he signed a new deal keeping him at the club for two more years. It’s not fake news. It’s possibly true:

 

daily mirror wenger quits sack resigns arsenal

 

Daily Mirror – John Cross – August 23 2016 – “Boss Wenger will celebrate 20 years in charge of the Gunners at the start of October and there is a growing feeling that he will stand down when his contract expires at the end of this season.”

Daily Mirror – John Cross – Feb 3 2017 – “Arsenal fans’ abuse nudging hurt Arsene Wenger towards the exit THIS summer”

Daily Mirror – John Cross – 16 Feb 2017: “Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger IS set to leave in the summer following shattering Bayern Munich defeat”

Daily Mirror – John Cross, March 2 – “Arsene Wenger gives another clear hint he’s ready to leave Arsenal this summer”

Daily Mirror – John Cross – March 7 – “Arsene Wenger’s position is now untenable after Arsenal suffer another sorry European capitulation”

Daily Mirror – March 19 – Arsene Wenger set to STAY at Arsenal — even if they miss the Champions League for first time under him

Daily Mirror – John Cross, April 10 – “It seems unthinkable Arsenal will give him a new contract. Time to go, Arsene. Arsenal cannot possibly put their supporters through another two years of this”

Daily Mirror – John Cross, May 10 – “Arsene Wenger could still leave Arsenal this summer – there are various factors at play”

Arsene Wenger stays mirror

 

Such are the facts.

 

Posted: 1st, June 2017 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, Sports | Comment


Arsenal balls: Kroenke ‘orders’ the title as Wenger goes back to the future

Arsenal fans rejoice! Arsenal’s board have “ordered” (Sun) Arsene Wenger to win “a major trophy in the next two years”. “NOW WIN THE TITLE!” barks the Mail’s back page. “Arsenal lay down law to Wenger after new £16m deal.”

 

 

wenger arsenal mail

 

The Daily Star says under Wenger the Gunners have not won the Premier League since 2004 – true enough – and “not had success in Europe during the Frenchman’s 21 year reign”.

Under Wenger, Arsenal were beaten finalists in the 1999–2000 UEFA Cup and the 2005–06 UEFA Champions League final. They qualified for the Champions’ League for 20 seasons running. Whilst not stella stuff, Wenger has always billed qualification to the Champions League as akin to winning a cup. You only need to see the joy on Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp’s face to know how a top-four finish can define a season. Wenger’s regime does not represent decades of failure.

Over in the Express, readers see Stan Kroenke,”the man with the money behind Arsenal”. That rather makes it seem that the American billionaire has bankrolled the club. He says: “Our ambition is to win the Premier League and other major trophies in Europe… Arsene is the best person to make that happen.” He is?  Kroenke has been Arsenal’s majority shareholder since 2011. He’s never seen Arsenal win the title under his ownership and Wenger’s management, let alone come all that close to doing so. So why does he think it will happen next season? Because he’s “ordered” it and made it part of Wenger’s new two-year deal?

 

wenger arsenal mirror

 

As the i points out, Arsenal’s chief executive Ivan Gazidis hailed Wenger’s new contract by talking about “pushing forward”, “evolving” and “looking forward”. But do Arsenal fans believe Wenger represents the future more than Klopp, Mourinho, Pochettino, Conte and Guardiola, the managers whose sides Wenger’s Arsenal need to beat?

Readers hear from Wenger in the Mirror, who tells fans. “Let’s be together to support our players, to support the club and  all give our absolute best to be at the level that we want to be. We can move  up to the next level.”

Arsenal finished fifth last season. They qualified for the Europa League. The next level might well be fourth followed by a shaky Champions League campaign.

It’s plus ca change at the Emirates.

Posted: 1st, June 2017 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, Sports | Comment


Transfer balls: Alexis Sanchez takes Bayern Munich pay cut and joins Manchester City

Transfer Balls: The summer is shaping up into a big one at Arsenal. Much news will revolve around Alexis Sanchez, now in the final year of his Arsenal contract. Is he staying or not? Here’s a round-up of today’s news:

The Times: “Wenger stays but Sánchez wants to leave Arsenal.”

Sánchez’s contract expires in 12 months but he is determined to force his way out of the club this summer to join Bayern Munich…

Sánchez has attracted firm interest from Juventus, Paris Saint-Germain, Chelsea, Manchester City and Bayern in recent months, with the Bundesliga champions his preferred destination.

But he won’t go there unless she takes a cut in his wages.

 

alexis sanchez transfer arsenal

 

The Metro:

Bayern Munich cannot match Alexis Sanchez’s wage demands and have all but given up hope of signing the Arsenal star, giving Manchester City a free run at his signature

So Sanchez is off to play for Manchester City. Right?

The Express: ” Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Ozil to leave Arsenal as Arsene Wenger signs two-year contract”

Arsenal have been attempting to convince Sanchez and Ozil to commit their long-term future for at least a year. Express Sport understands the club are ready to pay as much as £300,000-a-week to keep them. But no agreement has been reached with the duo and they are now entering the final year of their contract.

Wrong. Arsenal and Sanchez are talking. Or as Manchester City’s local newspaper puts it:

Manchester Evening News: “Man City director travels to London to sign Arsenal star Alexis Sanchez”

But hold on:

Daily Telegraph: “Arsenal prepare contract offers to make Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Ozil highest-paid players in club’s history”

There has been more outside interest in Sanchez, who ended the season with 30 goals and his situation is being monitored by Manchester City, Bayern Munich, Paris St Germain, Juventus and Chelsea. Sanchez, though, likes it in London and Arsenal hope that he might be willing to commit for an extension of two years until 2020. That would give him the option of moving at a stage in his career when he is still likely to interest the very elite of Europe.

Such are the facts.

Posted: 31st, May 2017 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, Sports | Comments (2)


Arsenal balls: Wenger stays beyond his leaving date

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has signed a new two-year contract. Wenger’s contract was set to finish at the end of the current season. The man who never breaks a contract will be at Ashburton Grove until 2019.

The Daily Mirror makes the Wenger deal its lead sports story:

Arsene Wenger stays mirror

Or as the Mirror previously scooped:

daily mirror wenger quits sack resigns arsenal

He never was going to leave the club. Wenger’s an obsessive. Arsenal is his place and he wants to stay there.

Posted: 31st, May 2017 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, Sports | Comment


FA Cup Final Media Bias: Arsenal ignore Sanchez’s handball, Chelsea miss Costa’s lucky shot and Moses’ dive

Arsenal beat Chelsea 2-1 in today’s FA Cup Final. The better team won. But how do the clubs’ respective websites report on the game? Is there much bias in the reporting?

The Alexis Sanchez Goal:

The first Arsenal goal appeared to feature an accidental handball in the build up.

Arsenal:

We made the sort of start you dream about making in an FA Cup final – taking the lead through Alexis after he raced on to a ball that deflected off him and beat Thibaut Courtois.

Chelsea:

Alexis Sanchez netted a controversial opener, that could have been disallowed for either handball or offside, very early on, and it was the Gunners who looked the more likely to add to their lead before the break.

Arsenal:

It came in slightly strange circumstances as Alexis received the ball outside the area, and tried to lift the ball over the Chelsea defence to the onrushing Ramsey. But his pass was blocked, hitting the Chilean before spinning up over the backline.

The offside Ramsey made sure not to touch the ball, and Alexis raced on to the ball before slotting it under Thibaut Courtois and into the bottom corner. The assistant referee immediately raised his flag, but after a brief consulatation referee Anthony Taylor allowed the goal to stand, to the delight of the vociferous Arsenal fans.

The Islington Gazette, Arsenal’s local paper, makes no mention of any handball.

The Dive:

And what of Victor Moses’ dive? The Chelsea player tried to con the referee into awarding his team a penalty? His cheating earned him an early bath.

Chelsea FC: “On 68 minutes, Moses was shown a second yellow card for simulation as he drove in to the box from wide on the right.”

Diego Costa’a goal?

Diego Cost scored for Chelsea. His shot took a deflection off an Arsenal player’s leg, wrong footing the Gunners’ ‘keeper who, nonetheless, should have saved it.

Arsenal: “It was frustrating for the Gunners, who had defended to well until that point but they could do nothing as the ball fell to the Spain international in the area and he prodded the ball into the bottom corner.”

Chelsea: “Willian came on and we switched to a 4-4-1 formation. It was the Brazilian who was heavily involved in our equaliser. He took a pass from Hazard infield and crossed to Diego Costa, who chested, took his time and smashed his effort into the ground and beyond the dive of Ospina. 1-1!”

Such are the facts.

Posted: 27th, May 2017 | In: Arsenal, Chelsea, Sports | Comment


Arsenal balls: ‘Sanchez damaged Gunners by training on his day off’ – Keown

“PRIMA GUNNERS,” accuses the Sun on Tuesday. “Keown blasts over-indulged Alexis and Ozil.”

Keown Arsenal Ozil Sanchez

 

Gunner-turned pundit Martin Keown has a view on Mesut Ozil and Alexis Sanchez. They damaged Arsenal with their behaviour, says Martin. What did they do? And did they do it worse than Francis Coquelin, Aaron Ramsey, Theo Walcott, Alex Iwobi or Kieran Gibbs?

“It became about Ozil and Sanchez for too long in the season. Their behaviour let Arsenal down in that period,” says Keown.  “Sanchez is a difficult man to manage off the pitch. I was at the training ground on one of his days off and he suddenly turned up and was bouncing around the training pitch.”

The nutcase turned up on a day off and trained. The selfish,  useless c…!

“They were having to facilitate him and put a training session on for him,” Keown continues. “It’s not necessarily about you as a player – you have to fit in as well with the group.”

Maybe if all the other Arsenal played trained on their days off, the Gunners might have done better?

As for Ozil, says Martin:

“If I was playing in some of the games when Ozil doesn’t get a perfect pass, I would have been in his ear telling him my bit. ”

Ready? It’s going to be long break in play as Martin critiques his team-mate mid-match:

“I’d have said, ‘I’m trying to give the ball to you, don’t disrespect me in the way you do when I don’t get the ball to you. And how about you working just as hard out of possession as I’m working out of possession? I can’t ever get close to the creativity you can create but I want you to work hard when we are not in possession – because we’re not quite good enough to win things without every single player applying himself in possession and out of possession.'”

Why can’t Ozil be more like Keown? Answer in the form of a long ball into the cheap seats.

 

Posted: 23rd, May 2017 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, Sports, Tabloids | Comment


Arsenal balls: Wenger’s hubris gets just rewards

One day we will know what happened in December 2016 that destroyed Arsenal’s chances of winning the Premier League. Having failed to qualify for the Champions’ League for the first time in 20 years (during which Arsenal have been champions just three times; a fact that tells you a lot about that inflated competition’s credentials), the team’s manager, Arsene Wenger, tells talkSport:

“We were a force this year until December, fighting for the championship [but] after we dropped off. I will say one day the real reason behind that…”

Was it something to do with the death of Indian economist Sulabha Brahme, 84, who passed away on December 1? Did that bring Mesut Ozil to a standstill? What about the murder of Andrei Karlov, the Russian ambassador to Turkey, who was shot dead on December 19? Did that put lead in Francis Coquelin’s boots? Or did it all go wrong when Toyah returned to Coronation Street?

Or was it something to do with losing matches? In December Arsenal lost 2-1 to Everton and 2-1 to Manchester City in back-to-back away defeats. The Everton game was very close, with Arsenal having shots twice saved off the line in the game’s dying moments; and in the Manchester City match they were hard done by when the referee allowed two goals that could both have been ruled out for offside – City’s second was egregious. But in each match Arsenal only scored one goal. Not enough.

Maybe something else happened – something extraordinary and uniquely damaging? Wenger’s pretty good at saying one day he will reveal all. On buying Danny Welbeck in 2014, he said: “I will tell you that story one day.” Why so mysterious? Is it hubris, gnostic or self-serving balls?

And what about what else Wenger told us today? He added:

“I believe since January we have played in a very difficult environment for different reasons.

“Some you know about and that’s very difficult for a group of players to cope with that – and some other reasons we will talk about on another day.”

Tell us now. Go on.

“Psychologically the atmosphere was absolutely horrendous. It has been difficult, yes, and certainly my personal situation has contributed to that but you can never question my professionalism or commitment.”

What happened was that after 19 matches of a 38-game Premier League season, Arsenal were nine points behind leader’s Chelsea. After 38 matches, they are 18 points behind Chelsea, the champions. Arsenal never were in contention.  As Roy Keane put it when Arsenal were annihilated by Bayern Munich in the Champions’ League, “Well, what did you expect?”

We expected Arsenal to be league also-rans and enjoy a good FA Cup run playing bouts of incisive football punctuated by moments of abject, laughable ineptitude. It wasn’t a season of disappointment for Gunners’ fans. It was season of complete predictability. Wenger will tell us all abut it one day – and that nine seasons of the same that preceded it.

Posted: 21st, May 2017 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, Key Posts, Sports | Comment


Arsenal balls: Alisher Usmanov bids to oust Stan Kroenke and build Chelsea Mark II

Into the Anorak inbox is dropped news that Arsenal shareholder Alisher Usmanov has made a $1.3bn bid to buy out his rival shareholder, ‘Silent Stan Kroenke, and take control of the club. In 2013, the Sunday Times Rich List crowned Usmanov Britain’s wealthiest person. The very rich like buying up swatches of London real estate. So why not buy a stadiumand football club ? If the football fails you can always put a roof on the place and use it as a vault.

The FT:

Mr Usmanov, a metals magnate who owns 30 per cent of Arsenal, conveyed the offer in a letter to Stan Kroenke, the US sports mogul, who controls a 67 per cent stake. The approach, made last month, valued the club at $2bn. Mr Kroenke has yet to formally respond.

He is understood not to have dismissed the idea out of hand at first. However, he has since informally indicated he is not interested in selling to Mr Usmanov or anyone else. “Two weeks ago, I thought something could realistically happen. Now I am not so sure,” a person close to the situation said.

Arsenal fans can only marvel at how the club they’ve supported has been transformed into a brand for billionaires to play with.

It might be worth harking back to what Chelsea fans said when another Russian, one Roman Abramovich, bought the club in 2003:

David Mellor. The disgraced former government minister was cautiously optimistic about the new Russian-backed regime. “What I think that we have to hope, as Chelsea fans, is the kind of investment that is being talked of will give Chelsea a good run-out in the Champions League,” Mellor, once the chairman of the Football Task Force, said.

“This is a power-play by an extremely wealthy man and, as far as he is concerned, Chelsea, with their entrance into the Champions League, is a fitting vehicle for his ambitions. If money can buy success, there is a fair chance that Chelsea might achieve.”

Tony Banks, the Labour MP, perhaps taking a lead from Tony Blair, was considering the more global implications of a Russian revolution in the Chelsea Village. “We need to know rather more about Roman Abramovich before saying this is a good deal,” Banks said. “Russia is not settled politically or economically and lots of questions are asked about the rigours applied in Russian business.”

Plus ca change.

Posted: 19th, May 2017 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, Sports | Comment


Arsenal balls: Lazy Sanchez is no winner but he’s worth £300,000 a week

More now from the Daily Mirror’s John Cross, the man who told wrote beneath the headline”ARSENE SETS THE DATE” that the Arsenal manager was leaving the club on June 30 2017.

 

Daily Mirror wenger quits Arsenal

 

The same John Cross later updated that scoop by writing beneath another Daily Mirror headline “WENGER’S STAYING”.

 

wenger stays arsenal

 

This week, Cross has once more been talking about Arsenal. The Gunners won 2-0 against Sunderland. Incredibly, Wenger’s under-performing side have a slim chance of qualifying for the Champions League – although given their palsied performances in the competition, fans wold be forgiven for finding that an underwhelming prospect.

Here’s Cross on April 17. He’s talking about Alexis Sanchez, who scored both goals in the Sunderland match:

“They simply have to break the bank to keep him. Without Alexis Sanchez, Arsenal would be completely lost as once again the red-hot Chile forward bailed them out. You need big hearts on nights like these and it was Sanchez who saved Arsenal from disaster.”

Sanchez is possessed of a “street fighter’s desire that really make him special”, says Cross.

Or as he wrote on March 7:

 

Alexis Sanchez John cRoss

 

Or as he wrote waaay back on March 31:

 

“It has been a source of great frustration to Arsene Wenger this season that, despite Sanchez’s histrionics making it look as if he works hard, he actually covers less ground than you think.”

Arsenal should “break the bank” for someone so obviously overrated (unless he’s being “red-hot”).

Posted: 18th, May 2017 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, Sports, Tabloids | Comment


Bias: Stoke City praise Peter Crouch’s ‘expert’ cheating against Arsenal

Media Bias: when Stoke City’s Peter Crouch scored with his hand against Arsenal in yesterday’s Premier League match, pundits on BBC TV’s Match of the Day pundit meekly said ‘It should have been disallowed’. There was no shame heaped on former England player ‘Crouchy’ for his cheating. It was not his fault that he scored with his hand and then celebrated wildly. It was the referee’s error.

 

peter crouch handball arsenal

 

How does the media report the goal?

Stoke City FC website: “PETER CROUCH expressed disappointment that his second half strike counted for nothing as Stoke City fell to a 4-1 loss to Arsenal in their final home game of the 2016/17 season.”

A second half “strike” that disappointingly counted.

Olivier Giroud and Mesut Ozil struck either side of the interval before Crouch was summoned from the bench and pulled one back for the Potters midway through the second period.

Mark Hughes’ side enjoyed a dominant 10 minute spell after the striker’s near post effort…

Crouch’s effort was his ninth of the campaign, and although pleased to net once again…

But the goal was scored with his hand. Crouch says:

“I just threw everything at it and it’s come off my hand a little bit but it was a goal and I was pleased to score another one.”

No. It came off your hand entirely, Peter. It was handball. But good you were pleased.

But Crouch’s blinkered view of his cheating pales when compared to the official Stoke City match report:

The hosts did offer some resistance… and managed to halve the deficit through substitute Peter Crouch, who expertly headed home his ninth of the season from close range just minutes after being thrust on to the field.

 

Peter Crouch cheating

 

And on the Arsenal website:

But finally the hosts did break through – albeit in hugely controversial circumstances – as Arnautovic broke down the left once more and whipped in a cross that Crouch sent in via his hand.

Such are the facts.

 

Posted: 14th, May 2017 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, Sports | Comment


Injury Balls: Arsenal sell Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain for spare parts

Injury Balls: a look at unreliable reporting. When Alex Oxlade-Chameberlain was substituted in Arsenal’s win over Southampton, the knives were out. It was all over for ‘The Ox’.

Daily Mirror: “The England star was forced off 10 minutes before the break with an apparent hamstring injury, meaning he could now miss the FA Cup final in 17 days”

Daily Telegraph: “Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain suffers hamstring injury that could rule him out of another FA Cup final”

Daily Mail: “…he appeared visibly distressed and is a major doubt for the FA Cup final against Chelsea on May 27.”

90Minutes: “Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger is set to draft Hector Bellerin back into the first team fold in place of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain for the remaining games of the season”

Two days later and:

BBC: “Arsenal’s Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain should be fit [for today’s match at Stoke] despite limping off early in the midweek game against Southampton with a hamstring injury.”

Such are the facts.

 

Posted: 13th, May 2017 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, Sports | Comment


Manchester Evening Post’s fake news pledge and Arsenal spin in the Mirror

Forget all that Clickbait balls and Transfer Balls and all the other balls designed to seduce football fans to click on the ads. The Manchester Evening News is going factual. It might be contagious and impact on other titles owned by Trinity Mirror. This is the MEN’s mission statement:

Sport, like news, is a perpetual motion machine. The pace of change is increasingly rapid, not just on the pitch but in the press box too.

After all, what is a sports journalist in 2017? Outstanding bloggers interrogate coaches at press conferences, long-loved fanzines have gone digital, reaching millions of readers every year and supporters are turning the cameras on themselves; democratising the games we love and presenting an unprecedented landscape to traditional media outlets.

Supporters and lovers of sport crave authenticity. To be a fan is to join a community, to share a common language that transcends accents or post codes. It is our job, as the regional experts around our clubs and personalities, to generate and reflect these communities and their conversations every day.

To be trusted by the people who go to games and know our teams inside out is a great privilege. Plenty changes in sport, but that remains the same. When you see a sea of headlines about your club, looking out for the title based closest to the club in question in the best way to ensure you’re getting the real story from your clubs.

Why? Because we don’t just report on our clubs, we live and work amongst its fans too. It’s a matter of trust.

We know what fans want because we are them ourselves. But we also know that fans want facts – no matter how much we’d all want to believe that Ronaldo is about to sign for our club. That’s what sets us apart from those organisations who just want your click. We want your trust.

Good for them. Fans of Manchester United and Manchester City will get the facts and only the facts.news: ”

In 0ther MEN news: “‘Have Manchester United dropped transfer hints about the futures of De Gea and Rooney?”

Answer: No.

 

manchester evening news arsenal

 

Meanwhile, over at MEN stablemate the Daily Mirror, the top story online (at the time of writing) is “JOHN CROSS: Wenger out? A shakeup is imminent and he could still leave Arsenal this summer – there are various factors at play.”

Could leave?

Can this be the same john Cross who told Mirror readers that Wenger is “STAYING” at Arsenal and…

 

wenger stays arsenal

 

…not staying at Arsenal?

 

Daily Mirror wenger quits Arsenal

 

It’s not fake news. It’s just to-deadline guesswork.

Posted: 10th, May 2017 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, Manchester City, manchester united, Sports | Comment


Arsenal end Manchester United’s incredibly boring 25-match unbeaten run

Arsenal’s 2-0 win over Manchester United is hailed in the Press. But before a look at the back pages, a word from Sachin Nakrani‏, the Guardian’s sports features editor. He’s at the office:

Sub editor 1: “They’re chanting ‘Fuck off Mourinho’ at the Emirates”

Sub editor 2: “Which end?”

Highlight of my day, that.

And that’s Jose Mourinho, isn’t it. He’s the brattish kid on tennis camp, a little shorter than most but he’s carrying the oversized racket and always has a can of new balls. In Jose’s monocular vision, Arsenal did not beat Manchester United. Manchester United let Arsenal win, gamely allowing the Gunners to score all the game’s goals and end United’s 25-match unbeaten run. And – boy – what roller coaster of thrills that’s been right.

Having been beaten, Mourinho “sarcastically disparaged the importance of his first competitive defeat to Arsène Wenger” (Times) . He said:

“I left Highbury and they were crying, I left Emirates and they were crying. Finally today they sing, they swing the scarves. It’s nice for them… It is the first time I leave and they are happy. Before they were walking the streets with their heads low. The Arsenal fans are happy and I am happy for them.”

And on he goes:

“Do not think I am happy they are not winning trophies. Arsène Wenger is a big manager so my record [not previously losing a Premier League game to him] is not normal. Normal is win, lose, draw. I really don’t care about it today. We shook hands and during the game I don’t like what I never like. He puts too much pressure on the fourth official.”

Alex Hess tweets:

Helluva job Mourinho’s done with history’s most expensive squad: won twice vs top six, fewer goals than Bournemouth, will finish 5th or 6th.

And that hurts the brand:

Manchester United are at risk of triggering a financial penalty in their £750m kit deal with Adidas should they fail to qualify for this season’s Champions League.

United will suffer a 30 per cent cut to their annual £75m payment from the German sportswear giant if they finish outside of the top four. This means the club will lose more than £20m in sponsorship income.

So the back pages, then, which all lead with Mourinho.

 

Arsenal manchester united Arsenal manchester united Arsenal manchester united Arsenal manchester united Arsenal manchester united Arsenal manchester united Arsenal manchester united Arsenal manchester united

Posted: 8th, May 2017 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, manchester united, Sports | Comment


Arsenal: one player or maybe seven wins the title for Gunners, says Souness

Mystic Meg, eat yer heart out. In his article on Arsenal v Manchester United for the Sunday Times, former Spurs and Liverpool player Graeme Souness begins by tooting his own horn: “I predicted in March in this column that Manchester United and Arsenal would both miss out on the top four and I have seen nothing since to change my mind.”

The man’s got the gift, I tell you.

This is the same Souness who at the start of the season predicted the Premier League title going to Manchester United or Manchester City:

I think it will be one of the Manchester teams. If Ibrahimovic can fire on all cylinders – and I think there is a good year left in him – he will inspire those around him.

He’s someone who I enjoy. I enjoy his arrogance because he’s someone who can back it up. I think he could be the difference.

His Top Four ran: “1. Man Utd 2. Man City. 3. Tottenham 4. Arsenal.”

Whoops!

Having told readers back in August “Obviously it’s our job to make forecasts”, Souness today writes:

Arsenal should be looking at the likes of Griezmann and Bale… Over the past decade their recruitment has simply not been good enough, which is one of the main reasons Wenger should step aside. For seven or eight years they were only two or three top players away from being the team to beat but in the past few years it has not been a question of two or three players they need, it’s six or seven.

Ot as Souness put it in November 2015 – during the 2015-2016 season – just one season ago:

Arsene Wenger’s only major signing last summer was Petr Cech and he alone will give them a major chance of winning the Premier League this season. He could be worth anything up to 10 points for them.

Not two or three players, then. Just the one.

 

 

Posted: 7th, May 2017 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, Broadsheets, Sports | Comment


Victim blaming Arsenal’s Sanchez and Manchester City’s Aguero is just about understandbale

The talk is of faking it. First Arsenal’s Alexis Sanchez was accused of making too much of being hit by the ball. Sanchez was standing close to the edge of the pitch as Leicester City’s Christian Fuchs was set to throw a long one into the mixer. This upset the Leicester man, causing him to send the ball hard into the Chilean’s face. Sanchez went down in stages, as they stay, and held his face. When Sanchez finally got to his feet, the referee booked him and awarded Leicester a free kick.

 

 

Questions were asked. Why had Fuchs not been booked? Had Sanchez gone down easily? Why hadn’t he performed the classic manoeuvre favoured by nearly all top-flight footballers of holding his face and then checking the hands for signs of blood, eyeball and brain? Is someone called Fuchs more liable to produce a XXX-rated challenge on primetime telly and would he risk a similar balls-in assault on Marseille full-back Rod Fanni?

 

 

The other incident of  “letting him know you’re there” came in the Manchester derby. Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho was upset that Manchester City’s Sergio Aguero had gone to ground after being headbutted by Marouane Fellaini, who was sent off for his brazen foul.

Given the impressive bounce of hair on the big Belgian’s head, you’d suppose a headbutt from him would be akin to being wrapped in cashmere towels by a flash mob of cuddlers. Mourinho thinks as much. “I didn’t watch but probably I can guess it’s a bit of a red card and that it’s a bit of a very experienced, smart Argentinian player,” he opined with customary bitchiness. “Marouane says it was a red card because he is Marouane, Martin Atkinson told me in his opinion it was a red card but I saw Aguero in the tunnel – no broken nose, no broken head, his face is as nice as always. So, I am not so sure. I think if Sergio doesn’t go to the floor, for sure it is not a red card. But if Marouane gave him the chance to do that… I don’t know.”

Fellaini hit the baths early, where we hope he took more than one bottle into the shower, possibly three or four to ensure that any future clash of heads would be softer than a Labrador’s loo roll. One wonders what would occur if the big clumsy Belgian went curls to curls with Chelsea’s spring-topped David Luiz. Some see a hideous tangle resulting in the world’s first Siamese-style twin footballers; while others go for the huge ricochet sending each man hurtling into the stands at opposite sides of the ground.

As for Sanchez and Aguero, well, you could call them innocent parties on the wrong end of victim blaming. But Sanchez was being irritating. And Aguero did make the most of it. It’s not black and white. If you are a footballer interfering with a member of the opposition’s attempts to salvage something from a match his side are behind in, the likelihood of your being smacked in the face with the ball is higher than if you had retreated. Likewise, staring up into the eyes of the man who has just committed a yellow-card worthy foul on your person seconds after he’s been carded and calling him names, raises the prospect of further mischief.

This does not remotely mitigate the guilt of the fouler, but it does place the offence in context*.

*Unless you’re Joey Barton.

This post was sponsored by Smart Bets.

Posted: 29th, April 2017 | In: Arsenal, Manchester City, manchester united, Sports | Comments (2)


Media Bias: Arsenal praise the referee but Manchester City are robbed

Media Balls: a look at biased football reporting. Today Arsenal beat Manchester City 2-1 to make it into the FA Cup final, where they will play Chelsea.

Should Manchester City have been awarded a penalty?

Arsenal website:

The game had been free of any controversy, but soon the officials were in the spotlight as Koscielny poked the ball in beyond Bravo – but was flagged offside.

It may have disappointed the Arsenal fans, but replays showed it was the correct call – as was referee Craig Pawson’s decision to wave play on when Raheem Sterling went down in the box after a tangle of legs with Oxlade-Chamberlain.

Manchester City website:

Aguero tripped by Oxlade-Chamberlain inside the area. Clear penalty – nothing given.

What about Manchester City’s disallowed goal?

Arsenal website:

…as Sane raced on to a through ball and chipped the ball back across goal from the left byeline, which was knocked back in by Aguero only to be saved by Cech. Sterling knocked the loose ball home, but the flag was up – much to our relief. Replays highlighted that Sane’s cross may – or may not, depending on whether you’re red or blue – have gone out of play…

Manchester City website:

The officials got it wrong but it was very tight, in fairness.

Such are the facts.

Posted: 23rd, April 2017 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, Manchester City, Sports | Comment


Transfer balls: Morata to Chelsea (if Arsenal let him leave)

Transfer Balls – fake news for football: The BBC says Chelsea “have reached an agreement” to sign striker Alvaro Morata, 24, from Real Madrid. The Beeb’s source is Spanish site Diario Gol. As ever, I like to use Google Translate to tell the source’s story.

 

morata real madrid

 

The headline’s a belter: “Morata lynch to a crack of Real Madrid: the checkmate to Zidane.”

The teaser’s good too: “The one of The Factory explodes against the mister.”

Diego Castro’s words according to Google Translate are:

The worst. Karim Benzema was signing one of the weakest seasons since joining Real Madrid in 2009 . The goalkeeper has scored the same goals as Álvaro Morata in almost double the number of minutes played. The canterano has played 1,593 minutes , while the French accumulates 2,597 ‘ .

Benzema is no goalkeeper. But the gist is that Morata is the better striker of the two.

But what about Chelsea? Well, Morata has “never been the first choice of Zizou”. Adding: “The French strategist always opted publicly for his compatriot, regardless of the level of his players… Zidane always put him ahead of the team’s needs.”

And Chelsea? Only this: “Morata has been wanting for Chelsea for weeks, with more than a verbal agreement.”

It’s not exactly done and dusted. The Week says Morata is only “among potential targets” for Chelsea. The Daily Star says Morata might be heading to Manchester United. And Corriere dello Sport says AC Milan will outbid Chelsea for Morata’s signature.

So there’s no agreement, then. Which makes it odd that the Daily Star can announce that the deal taking Morata to Chelsea has been done:

alvaro morata chelsea daily star

 

And let’s not forget that according to these fine sources, Morata plays for Arsenal:

alvaro morata arsenal

Such are the facts.

Posted: 20th, April 2017 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, Chelsea, manchester united, Sports | Comment


Daily Mirror news trust: Arsenal and Theresa May are both for turning

How about this for wraparound newspaper cover. The Daily Mirror’s front page leads with Theresa May’s “U-turn”. Having said there would be no General Election before 202o, May has called one for June 8 2017.

 

daily mirror u-turn may theresa

 

If it’s all about trust, what are Mirror readers to make of the paper’s back page news story that Arsenal have made it clear Arsene Wenger will still be manager next season? The paper says Schalke defender Sead Kolasinac, 23, has been been told Wenger will remain at Arsenal for a further two seasons.

June 8 is one for the diary. And while you’re on that page, you might care to put a line through another event scheduled for that month. On June 30 2017, Arsene Wenger is to quit the club. We read that in the Daily Mirror.

 

Daily Mirror wenger quits Arsenal

 

Such are the facts.

 

Posted: 19th, April 2017 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, Politicians, Sports, Tabloids | Comment


Transfer balls: Karim Benzema to join Arsenal for a third time

As predictable as a dog sniffing a lamppost and Simon Cowell licking his eyeballs and telling a cabaret act “That. Was. Incredible”, the tabloids herald the summer season of football transfer rumours with news that Karim Benzema is heading to Arsenal.

“Real Madrid striker Karim Benzema to be Alexis Sanchez replacement,” thunders the Daily Mirror. “Karim Benzema linked with Arsenal as doubts soar over the future of Alexis Sanchez,” says the Sun.

Newspaper readers will know that Benzema joined Liverpool in 2014 (Daily Star) and Arsenal in 2015 (Metro, Daily Star (twice), Daily Telegraph, The Sydney Morning Heraldand again in 2017 (The Sun).

He never left Real Madrid. And today the papers are having another crack at the Benzema to Arsenal story.

The source of the Sun and Mirror’s scoop is donbalon.com. Over there we learn that Arsenal have offered Benzema twice his current salary. No quotes are given. But according to the Star, Karim Benzema earns £270,000 a week at Real. So Arsenal will pay him £520,000 a week – more than the £280,000-a-week Alexis Sanchez – the man he will replace – wants to stay?

Understand that? No, us neither.

Posted: 17th, April 2017 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, Sports | Comment


Arsenal fans will only get change when the owners lose money

Arsenal have the exact same Premier League points tally as they did at this stage of last season. Arsène Wenger is both the model of consistency, Old Father Time pointing the way forwards to more of the same, and the staid boss of a club becalmed in routine.

Ivan Gazidis , the club’s uninspiring chief executive, assures supporters that if Wenger accepts the two-year contract he’s been offered, there will be big changes on the field. Tomorrow will be much better or else, says Gazidis as he pleads with Wenger to sign the deal that will see the fading manager earn over £8m a year. Gazidis is talking to the fans, of course. It’s season ticket renewal time. Only a fool would think the same manager will bring about dramatic improvement when the familiar is enough for the greedy shareholders and dividend takers who want him to stay.

Gazidis hopes fans take the bait. The pursuit of money not glory is the Arsenal way under the current regime.

After the Gunners had stumbled to a 2-2 draw the Manchester City, a number of fans went on an anti-Wenger match. There was a van bedecked with anti-Wenger slogans, leaflets urging supporters to contact the club’s sponsors and tell them to stop backing the club until Wenger goes.

“I must say, despite all that happens on the fans front, I felt our fans were fantastic today,” said Wenger at his monocular best. “In the very difficult moments in the first half, I felt they could have turned against us but they were absolutely sensational and helped the team to get through those difficult moments.”

The fans support the club through thick and thin. It’s not the players they want gone; it’s the manager and the palsied board that can’t see the decline and move strongly to check it.

Arsenal look set to miss out on the Champions League for the first time in Wenger’s tenure. They are behind Man City, in fourth place, by seven points with a game in hand. Can they rally and come fourth, giving the fans another season of Champions’ League football? Many fans will be hoping they don’t. If the board can’t see that what Wenger once brought to the club no longer cuts it, a decline in their considerable income should.

 

Posted: 3rd, April 2017 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, Sports | Comment


Media balls: Arsenal on course for second after a lucky draw with hopeful Manchester City

Media Balls: a look at biased football reporting. Today in the Premier League, Arsenal drew 2-2 with Manchester City. Arsenal are in no state of crisis, whatever the media tell us. The Gunners have the same number of points after 28 games this season as they did in season 2015/16.

Last season after 28 matches players, Arsenal were on 51 points – just 6 points behind eventual champions Leicester City. This term, the Gunners are on 51 point – 17 behind Chelsea. Arsenal under Arsene Wenger are the very model of consistency.

Can the Gunners secure that top four spot that secures Champions’ League football next season?

Manchester City, under a new manager, are a project. Pep Guardiola, for it is he, is no flop, despite the the Sun naming him “the biggest disappointment in the battle of the Premier League managerial superstars”. City are fourth in the PL table – five points ahead of Manchester United – and in the semi-final of the FA Cup. What else do the reporters tell us?

Manchester City’s first goal – the game’s opening strike.

The London Evening Standard: “Kevin de Bruyne… played a hopeful ball forward…”

The Manchester Evening Post: “Leroy Sane raced onto Kevin De Bruyne’s fine ball out of defence…”

A prod forward or a lovely pass?

Manchester City penalty appeal.

In the game’s finale minutes, did the ball strike Nacho Monreal on the hand as he defended in the Arsenal box?

London Evening Standard: “Arsenal were fortunate to escape a strong handball appeal in stoppage time”

Manchester City website: “Late penalty appeals against Arsenal’s Nacho Monreal were waved away as City pushed for the winner”

Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola: “I know this referee because we have had him before but I don’t want to discuss the penalty.”

The BBC: “Handball? Did Nacho Monreal punch that? That looked very, very much like a hand in the box…”

The Guardian: “It was clumsy and really did seem like it struck his flailing arm. Arsenal appear to have been lucky to get away with that there.”

Arsenal website:  Not a word on the incident.

Islington Gazette: No word on the appeal.

Such are the facts.

Posted: 2nd, April 2017 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, Manchester City | Comment