Sports | Anorak - Part 4

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Sports news, commentary and scores with wit and added value. We compare and contrast the best and worst sports reporting in the mainstream press, blogs, TV and online. We love the English Premier League (Arsenal, Liverpool, Spurs, Manchester United and Manchester City) and all things football but we cover cricket, rugby, the Olympics, tennis, golf, F1 and highlights of the sporting year.

Clickbait Balls: Liverpool to replace Coutinho with a goalkeeper says Daily Express

More clickbait in the nadir of journalism (surely apogee of clickbait? – ed) that is the Daily Express website. The headline offers: “Philippe Coutinho replacement: Most likely Liverpool transfers in January.”

Who is “most likely” to replace Coutinho, now at Barcelona? Well, the fifth player on the list of people to replace the Brazilian playmaker is… Kevin Trapp. Given that the story is based on the science of guesswork, you’d suppose the Express’s writer would at least look at Wikipedia for some info. Had they done sso the hack would have discovered the following:”

Kevin Trapp (born 8 July 1990) is a German professional footballer who plays as a goalkeeper for Paris Saint-Germain and the Germany national team.

WOW! I know some ‘keepers are good with their feet, but who knew one could operate as Liverpool’s playmaker? Daring stuff at Anfield…


Posted: 10th, January 2018 | In: Back pages, Liverpool, Sports, Tabloids | Comment | Comments RSS feed:RSS 2.0

Clickbait balls: Arsenal and Man City fans tricked by Daily Express Sanchez fakery

The Daily Express online is clickbait mire. Arsenal and Manchester City fans checking up on news of Alexis Sanchez’s move from London to the champions elect are seduced by the headline: “Transfer news LIVE updates: Sanchez deal agreed; Man Utd, Liverpool, Barcelona, Chelsea.”

The Express appears to have a scoop when you search for Sanchez news on Google News. No other news source has the story that a Sanchez deal has been “agreed”. Indeed, Sky Sports says City haven’t even bid for the Chilean.


Here’s the that Express headline again on the paper’s website:


Stuart Ballard has the scoop! But to save you clicking, we’ll not pick out the words relevant to Sanchez’s transfer to City.

Here’s the first mention of Sanchez is Ballard’s story:

Sanchez ‘no bids’
10.00: Arsene Wenger has claimed Arsenal have received no offers for Alexis Sanchez and he fully expects him to stay until the end of the season .

When asked if the Gunners had received any offers, he replied: “No and I expect nothing.

“I am focused on tomorrow’s game. When solicitations happen you respond to it. At the moment it’s very quiet. I have nothing to add.”

Come on, Wenger, keep up with things. Read the Express. The deal has been “agreed”. But what’s this? Reading on we find no word on the agreed deal.


05:30: Manchester City could complete a deal to sign Alexis Sanchez this week after opening talks over a £30million deal.


Could? What happened to “agreed”?

Express Sport understands the Chile international has been told City will be making a bid for him in the coming days.

What about what readers understand by the phrase “Transfer News: Sanchez Dal Agreed”?

But Ballard has nm’t finished. Let’s not be hasty. What else?

05:00: Arsene Wenger has reignited Arsenal’s interest in Thomas Lemar in the fear they could miss out on him with Alexis Sanchez seemingly on his way out of the club, according to reports…

And with Sanchez constantly linked with a move to Manchester City, Arsenal are prepared to enter the race once again to sign Lemar.


Total balls, then. It might even be fake news.


Posted: 9th, January 2018 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, Manchester City, News, Sports, Tabloids | Comments (3) | Comments RSS feed:RSS 2.0

If Harry Kane is worth 194.7m why is he playing for Spurs?

The facts are in and it’s clear: Spurs striker Harry Kane,24, is the third most valuable player in the world. Well, he is according to CIES’ Football Observatory, which calculates that Kane is worth 194.7m euros. Ahead of him are Paris St-Germain’s forward Neymar, 25, and Barcelona’s Lionel Messi, 30.

In euros, this is the Top Ten:

1. Neymar (PSG) – 213m
2. Lionel Messi (Barcelona)
3. Harry Kane (Tottenham)
4. Kylian Mbappe (PSG)
5. Paulo Dybala (Juventus)
6. Dele Alli (Tottenham) – 171.3m
7. Kevin de Bruyne (Man City) – 167.8m
8. Romelu Lukaku (Man Utd) – 164.8m
9. Antoine Griezmann (Atletico Madrid) – 150.2m
10. Paul Pogba (Man Utd) – 147.5m

The most valuable Arsenal player is Alexandre Lacazette (Arsenal) – 97.6m. Which pretty much sums it up. As Arsenal tie themselves in knots over Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Ozil, the clear message is that both wantaway players should have been sold the start of the season. The Gunners rejected Manchester City’s £60m in the summer. Since then Sanchez has been average and Arsenal are now trying to offload him for £40m, which in the inflated world of football transfers equates to one uninspiring Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain . Ozil has said to be winding down his contract and thinking of joining Manchester United.

But as Arsenal’s palsied board, absentee owner and spent manager make a mess of things, Spurs fans should contain their delight. Harry Kane knows his value. His wages of £100,000-a-week are roughly a third what he over-hyped Paul Pogba gets at Manchester United. And Spurs win nothing. As Kane says, “I’ve always said, just keep progressing, keep getting better. We want to start winning trophies so that’s the aim. As long as the club keeps doing that then I’m happy here.”

But other clubs are winning trophies. And each week Kane  and his agent know how much money he’s forgoing to remain at Spurs. “If a player wants to go then why would you stop him?” Kane adds. “He’s not going to be at the club, he’s not going to want to play every game, he’s not going to put his heart on the line.” See Ozil and Sanchez. And if he has a decent World Cup. next year it’ll be Kane…

Posted: 9th, January 2018 | In: Arsenal, Money, Sports, Spurs | Comments (4) | Comments RSS feed:RSS 2.0

Liverpool balls: Mahrez guff, Coutinho paid to leave and Nike called the shots

So keen was Philippe Coutinho to quit Liverpool than he paid part of his own £142 million transfer to Barcelona. The Times says it’s “understood” the Brazilian invested £9 million “out of his own pocket and is committed to paying another £2.5 million in the future”.

Of course, it’s not hard to understand anything in the world of big business than now owns top-flight football: it’s all about the money. As Liverpool were reiterating their desire to keep hold of their best player, Nike, which sponsors Barcelona, Coutinho and Brazil, last month published a photo of a Barcelona shirt with the player’s name across the back. “Where the magic happens,” said Nike. “Philippe Coutinho is ready to light up Camp Nou. Get your 2017/18 FC Barcelona kit with the Magician’s name on it. Act fast – free personalisation only available until January 6.”


Liverpool looked strong when they blocked Coutinho’s mover to Barcelona six months ago. At the season’s start, after Liverpool had rejected three Barcelona bids for their playmaker, Jurgen Klopp told media: “I wasn’t manager when Suarez was sold, I wasn’t manager when Sterling was sold, and we’re not selling Coutinho.”

Faced with predators from Nike and Barcelona, Liverpool caved in, waving a not-all-that-fond farewell to the player who now joins another former Anfield star, Luis Suarez, in attack.

Minds now turn to what Liverpool will do with all that money. Well, £75m has been invested in Virgil van Dijk. And the rest? We, the Times says, “There is no appetite, as it stands, to pursue AS Monaco’s Thomas Lemar or Leicester City’s Riyad Mahrez”.

Or as the Mirror puts it: “Liverpool to test Monaco’s resolve over Thomas Lemar transfer with January bid.”



Which on Sky Sports becomes:



As for Mahrez, well, the BBC reported on January 7: “Liverpool are set to sign Riyad Mahrez, with the 26-year-old Leicester City and Algeria forward expected to have a medical on Sunday.”

The story echoed a report on BeIn Sports, which guffed:


Total balls, then. Who Liverpool sign next is unclear, but one thing is certain: they’ll pay well over the odds.


Posted: 8th, January 2018 | In: Back pages, Liverpool, News, Sports, Tabloids | Comment | Comments RSS feed:RSS 2.0

Arsenal balls: Arteta invests in a watch to replace Wenger

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger says he always sees out his contracts. But the BBC says the Frenchman “could cut short his latest contract and move into the boardroom in the summer”. The source for this speculation is the Mirror, which tells readers:

Arsenal’s Arsene Wenger could quit as manager THIS summer — and is eyeing Mikel Arteta as hand-picked successor

Well, he could. But surely the Mirror’s job is to tell us if he will? Right now there is nothing to say that Wenger will leave Arsenal this summer. And it’s not as if the Mirror has a faultless track record is saying what Wenger’s planning:


Daily Mirror wenger quits Arsenal


As for Arteta taking the role, a man who played for the Gunners but has never managed a club:

One of the names in the frame is former Gunner Mikel Arteta, who is impressing as a coach alongside Pep Guardiola at Manchester City.

Arteta certainly left a lasting impression with Arsenal chief executive Ivan Gazidis, using some of the money raised in club fines to buy the American a prestigious watch.


As official collector of the money from players’ misdemeanours, the ‘present’ came as a surprise to some of Arteta’s team-mates.

But Arteta’s organisational skills on and off the training ground have impressed Wenger as he contemplates his future.

Forget Fergie time, this is Arteta time. The Mirror’s seems to be to show that Arteta is good with money. And because this is the modern media in which no scoop, however shallow, can pass unrepeated by rivals, the Sun reads the Mirror’s non-story and thunders:

QUICK TURNAROUND – Arsene Wenger ready to quit Arsenal and leave Manchester City coach Mikel Arteta in charge at the Emirates

Form something that “could” happen to Wenger being “ready ” to leave all in a morning. The paper looks at Arteta’s watch:

And the retired playmaker apparently impressed Arsenal chief executive Ivan Gazidis by buying him a posh watch during his time as Gunners bursar.

Arteta was in charge of collecting fines at Arsenal and he put the money toward a watch for Gazidis – to the surprise of his team-mates.

Anyone know any facts about this watch, which is quickly passing into folklore?

Posted: 7th, January 2018 | In: Arsenal, Broadsheets, Sports, Tabloids | Comment | Comments RSS feed:RSS 2.0

Barcelona puts Premier League in its place with £142m deal for Liverpool Philippe Coutinho

Liverpool have have sold Philippe Coutinho to Barcelona for £142m – and reassured the world that the Spanish league is bigger, better and starrier than the hyped Premier League. The mighty Reds will get £105m up front for the 25-year-old Brazilian and more should he win cups in the Nou Camp, which he will do.

It’s a huge profit for Liverpool, who paid Inter Milan £8.5m for the player in January 2013. It was also a big profit when Liverpool sold Luis Suarez to Barcelona for £64.98 million in 2014. Suarez went on to win:

La Liga: 2014–15, 2015–16
Copa del Rey: 2014–15, 2015–16, 2016–17
Supercopa de España: 2016
UEFA Champions League: 2014–15
UEFA Super Cup: 2015
FIFA Club World Cup: 2015

Liverpool have in that time won nothing.

The top players don’t dream of playing for Liverpool. They dream of playing for Real Madrid and Barcelona. Unless Liverpool can compete with mega-buck Manchester City and pay huge wages to hire talent the big Spanish clubs don’t want or can’t find room for, they won’t win titles.

Cheerio, Philippe. You’ll be missed…

Posted: 6th, January 2018 | In: Liverpool, News, Sports | Comment (1) | Comments RSS feed:RSS 2.0

Arsenal v Chelsea balls: Jack Wilshere’s ‘outrageous dive’ wasn’t a dive say top refs

One day with video technology being a football referee will be easy. Mistakes will no longer be made. To emphasise the point, former refs have been reviewing the tapes of the Arsenal v Chelsea match for newspapers. Take the incident when Arsenal’s Jack Wilshere, already on a yellow card, was hit the turf on the edge or the Chelsea box. Did he fall or was he tripped?

Former referee Mark Halsey reviews the tape. He tells Sun readers:

I also felt Taylor [referee Anthony Taylor] did well by not handing a second caution to Jack Wilshere when he went down under a challenge from Andreas Christiansen [sic]. Taylor saw the incident and played on which was the correct thing to do. He didn’t go looking for trouble. It wasn’t simulation or a foul – it was just normal contact. Not every time a player goes down is simulation.


Or as former referee Graham Poll puts it in the Daily Mail:

Jack Wilshere should have been sent off for an outrageous dive but luckily for him, referee Anthony Taylor’s view was blocked by a number of players…. But knowing he was on a yellow card, he was stupid to dive over Andreas Christensen in the second half.

Also commenting on the match was former referee Dermot Gallagher, who tells Sky News:

The referee is in a position there where if he gambles and gambles wrongly he’s got a red card. It’s not possible to send somebody off for something you didn’t see. There is no way the referee can see that situation clearly enough to make a decision to send the player off. He’s waved it away and play has gone on. I think that’s exactly the right decision for that situation.

Such are the facts.

Posted: 4th, January 2018 | In: Arsenal, Chelsea, News, Sports | Comment | Comments RSS feed:RSS 2.0

Eden Hazard ‘fell’ in the box as Chelsea come back to draw at Arsenal

hector bellerin chelsea

Wishful thinking on the Arsenal website, whereon readers are invited to “Watch Bellerin’s Winner” against Chelsea. It was nothing of the sort. Hector Bellerin’s late goal tied the scores at 2-2.

Of more interest is that first Chelsea goal, scored from the penalty spot when Bellerin was adjudged to have fouled Eden Hazard. The Arsenal website reports the incident thus:

…the visitors were awarded a controversial penalty after Hazard fell in the box. Coming so soon after that late spot kick at West Brom, it was tough to take – even more so when Hazard slotted it home himself.

Hazard was not fouled. Hazard “fell”.

And on the Chelsea website? The penalty looks like this:

The penalty was awarded for a foul by Hector Bellerin on the twisting and turning Hazard, who converted conventionally with a firm shot past Cech.

“Eden Hazard: Did Chelsea star dive to win penalty against Arsenal?” asks the Express. Yes. And no. He was touched lightly on the foot. And he did fall, face contorted in agony as his hands searched for signs of missing limbs. The brave soldier dragged himself to his ruined feet to score.

The Times sums up well:

Taylor got this call right. Bellerín kicked the base of Hazard’s foot. That the Chelsea No 10 then fell theatrically, clutching a different part of his anatomy, does not diminish Bellerín’s offence.


Posted: 4th, January 2018 | In: Arsenal, Chelsea, Sports | Comment | Comments RSS feed:RSS 2.0

Former Chelsea midfielder Michael Essien honoured with mishappen statue

Football fans in Ghana have paid tribute to former Chelsea midfielder Michael Essien. They’ve erected a weird statue in his honour. The life-size totem to Essien stands in Kumasi, Ghana’s second city.




Photo: @addojunr/Twitter

Did the artist ever seen Essien in the flesh, or just view him on 8ibit video games?


Posted: 4th, January 2018 | In: Chelsea, Sports, The Consumer | Comment | Comments RSS feed:RSS 2.0

West Brom’s Jake Livermore should shun the police after West Ham fan taunts him over dead son

Can terrace abuse go too far? West Bromwich Albion say their player Jake Livermore was on the receiving end of a West Ham United fan’s comments about the death of his newborn son, Jake Junior, who died in May 2014. We don’t know what was said to the former Spurs player, but it’s unlikely to have been along the lines of “Sorry for your loss, Jake” and “I wish you a long life”.

The alleged comment was made as the Baggies’ midfielder was being substituted in the second half of his side’s 2-1 defeat. Livermore was incensed, clambering into the stands and making for the berk. The only sad thing is that the stewards stepped in and prevented it becoming an “I was there” moment. Not that the non-event has stopped media from trailing it as must-see TV. One site oozes: “Watch: Jake Livermore Climbs Into Crowd And Tries To Get At Fan.”



I was at an Arsenal v Newcastle United match in 2008. Seated four rows back from the pitch, one row behind me three dickheads were screaming abuse at Joey Barton, recently readmitted to society after serving prison time for assault and affray. Joey winked at the criminally unfunny fans, who called him a “pikey c*nt” and encouraged to “come and have a go”. Of a like mind, Arsenal fans moved left and right to form a path, a gap though which he hoped Barton would accept the challenge. That he didn’t was a pity. We’d have loved it. But Barton understood that it was just mindless banter, taunts designed to do one thing: unsettle the opposition. Livermore took the bait.

West Brom have issued a statement: “The club would like to think that all right-minded football supporters could understand this reaction which did not result in any physical exchanges before Jake was led away to our dressing room. Jake is an outstanding young individual who has the total support of everyone at the club and he has made it clear he considers this statement to be an end to an unhappy incident. Albion were very appreciative of the swift response by the officials of West Ham in dealing with this matter and are more than happy to leave any further action they deem appropriate in their hands.”

What further action is right for a man who upsets a footballer or a footballer who “wades into crowd and shoves” a fan (Daily Mirror)?

West Ham add: “The player has confirmed he does not wish to make this a police matter, however, given the nature of the allegations, the club will continue to investigate before taking the appropriate action.”

A police matter? What’s the crime? Saying vile things to upset a player who used to play for the local rivals, and hoping that in so doing you cement yourself with the Hammers faithful who cheer on a team owned by Arsenal fans and who against West Brom featured two English players in the starting XI, one from Liverpool, the other Gateshead? It really is that stupid. And being stupid is not a crime – after all, if it were, we’d soon run out of coppers…

Posted: 3rd, January 2018 | In: News, Sports | Comment | Comments RSS feed:RSS 2.0

Media bias: sorry Swansea lose to a ‘pinpoint’ offside Spurs goal

When Spurs visited Swansea in the Premier League, the game’s opening goal in a 2-0 win for the Londoners should have been ruled out for offside. New Swansea coach Carlos Carvalhal says assistant referee Marc Perry apologised to his error.

But how does the Spurs website report on the controversy?

The former Swansea City target man marked his maiden Premier League start in our colours following his summer move from south Wales with an early breakthrough from Christian Eriksen’s free-kick.

It was also the Spaniard’s first domestic goal for us and came amid a spell of intense first-half pressure in the driving rain, but it took until the 89th minute for us to find a second through Dele Alli.


Christian Eriksen delivered the set piece and Llorente shook off his marker to glance in a header at the near post.

No word at all on the offside there. No word that the ‘marker’ had stepped up to play Llorente offside. But on the Swansea City website it’s a different story. The match report begins thus:

Liberty old boy Fernando Llorente set Spurs on the path to victory with an early header which should have been disallowed for offside.

And in the fourth paragraph, there it is again:

Tottenham took the lead on 12 minutes as Llorente headed home Christian Eriksen’s free-kick, but the Swans felt hard done by as replays showed the Spaniard was a yard offside.

What about local media?

The London Evening Standard describes the goal thus: “Tottenham old boy Tom Carroll felled Son Heung-min near the touchline and Eriksen’s trademark delivery quality picked out the head of Llorente in the penalty box.”

He picked out an offisde player.

And in the South Wales Echo: “…it was more the errors from referee Bobby Madley than anything else that contributed to this two-goal defeat in a middle of a torrential downpour… Tottenham’s key first goal was clearly offside. And long before Dele Alli sealed the game in the 89 minute, Spurs should have been reduced to ten men as Davinson Sanchez avoided an obvious second yellow card.”

Such are the facts.

Posted: 3rd, January 2018 | In: Back pages, News, Sports, Spurs | Comment | Comments RSS feed:RSS 2.0

Liverpool balls: Coutinho is determined to join Barcelona

Philippe Coutinho wants to leave Liverpool for Barcelona as soon as possible. The Times says Coutinho “believes that he has played his last game for Liverpool”. Not that belief is as legally binding as a contract.

Liverpool have rejected a bid of £119m for the 25-year-old. But Liverpool are now, reportedly, willing to sell should the Spanish side come up with an improved offer for the Brazilian – something in the region of £130m.

Coutinho has been playing well for Liverpool, scoring 12 goals in 20 appearances. But the problem for Coutinho is that his contract keeps him at Liverpool until 2022. He earns a not-too-shabby £150,000-a-week on the deal he signed last year, but his earning would rocket at Barcelona, and that’s without any signing-on bonus, which would be huge.

So is Coutinho, who was absent for Liverpool’s scrappy win New Year’s Day win at Burnley, off? Last week, Nike, the player’s sponsor and suppliers of Barcelona’s kit, stated a deal had been done. That was incorrect, say Liverpool.

Over in Spain, the front page of Mundo Deportivo declares: “Coutinho 145 millones.” Of course, what the newspapers say is ofter utter tosh. In October, the Liverpool Echo opined: “Philippe Coutinho deal to Barcelona may have already been done.” Or it may not have been.

One thing is certain: Liverpool are primed for Barcelona’s next move.

Posted: 3rd, January 2018 | In: Back pages, Liverpool, News, Sports | Comment | Comments RSS feed:RSS 2.0

Manchester United balls: Neville blames everyone but Mourinho for Manchester City’s rise

On Twitter, Gary Neville, Sky Sports’ one-man schedule filler, has been talking about how Manchester United’s dullsville team are not of football mercenary Jose Mourinho’s making. When not winning friends with his warm smile and gallant sportsmanship – Mourinho recently aimed his trademark bitchiness at United great Paul Scholes, opining, “It’s not Paul’s [Pogba’s] fault that he made much more money than Paul Scholes” – Mourinho is making do with an under-powered squad, says Gary Neville:



On United. We should be closer to City irrespective of their incredible run but City did have a better squad than United when Jose came in. The recruitment under LVG / DM all over the place. The club should be signing players that suit the values not being taken from one extreme to another by managers with differing principles. It’s a very costly exercise and means the waste is huge. The players signed by Jose are much better and more aligned to the club’s values. He should be supported in the TM with more players that meet the club ethic.

Compare and contrast those comments with what Neville told Sky Sports on August 14 2017:

You can’t just drop your expectation because they haven’t won it for a couple of years. They have to win the league. Mourinho has to win the league here. The money that’s been spent, his own personal expectations and what he’s always delivered has been titles, so I would say United have to approach this season to win the league.

I don’t think it’s good enough to say ‘they’re going to get back into fourth’. That isn’t an ambition when you’ve spent the money that’s been spent and amassed the players that Mourinho has now amassed.”

There is no excuse for Manchester United not to challenge for the league. That’s not putting pressure on the players or Jose Mourinho, but they have to challenge with the money that has been spent and the players that have been brought in.

The club’s values? Does anyone believe United under Mourinho are a swashbuckling, attacking side of verve and character – or ever will be?

Posted: 2nd, January 2018 | In: Back pages, Manchester City, manchester united, Sports | Comments (3) | Comments RSS feed:RSS 2.0

Media bias: Arsenal are robbed by West Bromwich Albion’s deserved penalty

Biased footballer reporting is very much in evidence in match reports on West Bromwich Albion’s 1–1 draw with Arsenal. Having taken the lad with an 83rd minute own goal, the Gunners were denied a win when Albion scored an 89th minute penalty. Referee Mike Dean decided that it was hand ball when, as the Arsenal website puts it “former Gunner Kieran Gibbs flicked the ball into Calum Chambers’ hand in the area”. The reporting is clear: any handball was not intentional.

Former referee Graham Poll uses his Daily Mail column to state: “It wasn’t a penalty. It should never have been a penalty.”

The Times says “Calum Chambers was penalised for handball when the ball was kicked at him from a yard away”.

But in the Express and Star, the local West Bromwich Albion newspaper, the report looks like this:

Having been the better team for large parts of the game, Alan Pardew’s team found themselves staring defeat in the face after Alexis Sanchez squeezed a free-kick through a brittle Baggies wall seven minutes from time.

There will be an inquest into that goal, which has officially gone down as a James McClean own goal, but in the 89th minute, referee Mike Dean pointed at the spot after Callum Chambers handled in the box.

No inquest about that.

And: “Albion hadn’t been awarded a spot-kick for more than 50 games, so they were certainly due one.”

So that’s alright, then.

Posted: 1st, January 2018 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, News, Sports | Comments (2) | Comments RSS feed:RSS 2.0

Arsenal balls: the Sun spins Wenger’s words to annoy Liverpool fans

Forget circumspection. When opining about Alex Oxlade-Champberlain, the player Arsenal sold to Liverpool for the best part of £40m, Arsene Wenger was scathing. The Sun and Mirror heard Wenger accuse the former Arsenal player of laziness and made it their lead sport story.

The Sun thunders: “OX LAZE – Arsene Wenger accuses Liverpool star Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain of sitting in a rocking chair and refusing to fight for Arsenal spot.” Wenger gave Oxlade-Chamberlaie a “verbal battering”.


mirror ox arsenal


The Mirror says Wenger aimed a “dig” at Oxlade-Chamberlain.

The Sun quotes Wenger. It’s much the same in the Mirror:

“What do you want to be, a big player and not have to fight? You can’t be a big player, sit in your rocking chair and say I do not want to fight. It doesn’t work like that. Every player has to fight. In a big club you have big competition with some good players. That is absolutely normal…

“I offered him a contract to stay but in the end he decided to go and we just had to try and get the best possible price.Sometimes it happens when one player who we don’t want to go, goes.

“We respect his decision and I have no problem with that. What’s important is that the players make a good career, preferably in your club. If it doesn’t happen, you still want them to have a good career. I personally think he will be an important player for England and will continue to develop.”



What neither paper finds room to note is what Wenger also said. This in the Guardian:

“What do you want? To be a big player and not have to fight? What do you want on top of that – sitting in your rocking chair and saying: ‘I’m a big player? I don’t need to fight?’ No. It doesn’t work like that. Every player can do that and Chamberlain does it. I am convinced it’s part of being a top player.”

If that’s a verbal battering, the mind boggles as to what praise looks like?

Posted: 30th, December 2017 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, Liverpool, Sports, Tabloids | Comment | Comments RSS feed:RSS 2.0

Desperate Liverpool outbid Manchester City for Southampton’s Virgil van Dijk

If Southampton’s Virgil van Dijk is worth £75m to Liverpool, rival clubs must be running audits of their playing assets and discovering new riches.

Liverpool will take delivery of the Dutch defender on January 2 in a £75m deal, making him the world’s most expensive defender.

It say something about the price when you know that massive-spending Manchester City were not prepared to match Liverpool’s offer for yet another Southampton player – Van Dijk will become the sixth Southampton player signed by Liverpool since 2014. He’ll join former Saints: Sadio Mane (£34m), Adam Lallana (£25m), Dejan Lovren (£20m), Nathaniel Clyne (£12.5m). Rickie Lambert (£5m) has left the club. And Liverpool boast another former Saint in Oxlade-Chamberlain, who they recruited from Arsenal for £35m.

Might it not be cheaper for Liverpool to hire Southampton’s talent spotters? Or why not buy the club? In 2017, Southampton sold 80% of the club to Chinese businessman Gao Jisheng for around £210m. Liverpool have spent not far shy of that on Southampton players.


Posted: 28th, December 2017 | In: Liverpool, News, Sports | Comment | Comments RSS feed:RSS 2.0

Mourinho’s plucky Manchester United earn point at 10-man Leicester

Heady times for Manchester United, the country’s sixth best side (source: PL table 2016-17), currently riding high in second place. Yesterday’s 2-1- draw with 2016 Premier League champions Leicester earned the Red Devils a valuable point. They should be delighted. But Jose Mourinho, the team’s manager, was shocked and dismayed. Why? Surely, like him, United’s fans are pleased with the progress being made, how he’s building a team based on youth and attractive football?

When Ryan Giggs mused, “Is Jose a typical Manchester United manager? Probably not, but United were in a situation of ‘How quickly can we get back to the top?’, we smelled sour grapes, the callow voice inexperienced in Old Trafford’s ways that cost the former player a long run as the United manager.

But Jose says he’s being short-changed. When Harry Maguire scored the equaliser for 10-man Leicester, in the fourth and final minute of stoppage time, Mourinho realised that his project were still in second place. Well,done to the plucky also-rans, you might suppose. But Mourinho laid into his players, calling them “childish in their box and childish in our box”.

Come, come, Jose. Leicester are a top side blessed with a cohort of Premier League winners. And under manager Claude Puel they reek of invention and desire. Trailing 2-1 and a man down, the Frenchman altered the line-up to a back three, brought on the never-say-day Shinji Okazaki and commanded his team forward.

“Half an hour after our second it is a game to finish four, five, six-one. We didn’t win because we missed incredible chances, joke chances,” observed Mourinho. Good job it’s nothing to do with the manager taking off United’s double-goalscorer Juan Mata with 10 minutes to play, and replacing the lively Jess Lingard with Ander Herrera in the 76 minute against a side reduced to 10 men in the 57 minute and a goal down.

Anyhow, stick with it, Jose. Free-flowing football and a commitment to entertainment and opportunity for the local youth are their own rewards.

Posted: 24th, December 2017 | In: Back pages, manchester united, Sports | Comment | Comments RSS feed:RSS 2.0

Arsenal balls: Sanchez agreed a new contract last December

Time for Arsenal to burn their bridges with Alexis Sanchez and kick out the sulky forward.

News is that the Chile international wanted to stay at Arsenal, allegedly shaking hands on a new deal last December.

Everything was agreed. But before Arsenal’s dithering board got any contract signed, the club were demolished 10-2 over two Champions’ League matches by a no-more-than-decent Bayern Munich side in March. Sanchez realised Arsenal were rubbish.

His future lay at Manchester City. They bid £60m, which Arsenal, in thrall to a palsied management structure of limited ambitions for anything other than routine dividends, rejected. Now they’ve got a misfiring player on huge wages. The only way to get something out of the situation is to push Sanchez out this January before he can leave for free at the season’s end.

Cue, then, the paper talk that he reneged on an agreement to remain at the club. Boo! Get him out!

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

Arsenal transfer balls: Sanchez to PSG for £25m and Manchester City for free

Transfer Balls: a look at poor football reporting. Today the papers are looking once more at Alexis Sanchez, the Arsenal player yet to rediscover the form that made him such a force.

News is that Sanchez is to join PSG. He’s closing in on a move to Paris St-Germain after his agent flew to the French capital for talks, says The Metro. He was there in August, of course. The Metro told us Sanchez was in Paris to finalise the deal he’d agreed in July. But it turned out to be total balls. Sanchez had been in the city to renew his work permit.


sanchez psg


The Express says PSG will offer Arsenal £25m. That’s not too shabby for the 29-year-old player. But the Daily Mirror says Sanchez will hang on and join Manchester City for free at the end of the season, when his contract expires. City will pay him £400,000 a week. The Mail says Manchester City are “almost certain to sign Arsenal striker Alexis Sanchez in the summer”. The Guardian says it’s “likely” Sanchez will join City in January.

Right now it looks as though Arsenal stuffed up in rejecting City’s £60m for Sanchez last summer. The player’s been disappointing for the Gunners. Although he never did go on strike, as the Express said he would.

Sanchez is an Arsenal player. And in late November, Arsene Wenger, the Arsenal manager, was adamant, telling a press conference: “In my head, they stay until the end of the season. Unless something unbelievable happens I don’t see that changing.”

Not that anything is all that believable when it comes to reporting on Sanchez.

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

West Ham United’s Manuel Lanzini charged for diving in match at Stoke

The Football Association have charged West Ham United’s Manuel Lanzini for diving during Saturday’s Premier League match at Stoke. The alleged dive earned West Ham a penalty, from which they scored the game’s first goal. Stoke’s Erik Pieters didn’t touch Lanzini. And the FA’s three-person panel of “independent” experts will decide if Lanzini dived or was forced into evasive action.

If found guilty, Lanzini will get a two-match ban and be branded a cheat – just as Oumar Niasse was when he became the first Premier League player to be banned for diving.

“He’s clearly dived. He’s a clever player, he’ll draw a foul or some kind of challenge but he wasn’t clipped,” moaned Stoke’s manager Mark Hughes after the match. “Referees need to get match-defining decisions correct and he certainly didn’t get that one correct.”

Oddly, Hughes was less upset when Stoke played Arsenal earlier in the season, during which the Gunners were wrongly denied two penalty shouts. Hughes declared himself to be “delighted” with the outcome.

The game is full of bias. So here’s David Moyes, the West Ham manager, on the alleged dive: “Manu has ran 70 yards and probably ran his race at the end of it. I think the defender going to ground means the referee has a choice to make. I don’t think there’s any intent regarding a dive. I think he’s riding the tackle more than anything. If you take the whole action into consideration, I definitely don’t see it being a dive. I see it being tiredness at the end of it but I don’t see a dive.”

He didn’t dive. He was having a rest.

Posted: 18th, December 2017 | In: News, Sports | Comment | Comments RSS feed:RSS 2.0

Biased balls: Stoke fouled and West Ham’s phantom penalty

Biased Balls: a look at biased football reporting. Today’s Premier League match between Stoke City and West Ham United earned the Londoners’ three points thanks to a 3-0 win.

the first goal came from the penalty spot. This is how the clubs’ websites report it.

West Ham:

…West Ham and Lanzini broke. The Argentine charged into the left-hand-side of the box and drew the foul from Eric Pieters. Referee Graham Scott pointed to the spot and the skipper stepped up to confidently slot past Butland to the goalkeeper’s left.


Erik Pieters was adjudged to have tripped Manuel Lanzini inside the penalty area, when television replays clearly showed the Dutchman had in fact made no contact with his opponent.

As one side sees controversy and the other a clear foul, we all should think Marko Arnautovic, who scored on his return to the bet365 Stadium for the first time since his transfer to West Ham. Not for him the bowed head and doleful walk to the half-way line. the Austrian celebrated his goal by sliding on his knees, pointing to the Heavens and hailing the West Ham fans with an ‘Irons’ crossed-armed salute.





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

Asthmatics gasp as another British cycling champion is accused of cheating

Has anyone blamed Chris Frome’s failed drugs test on Russia yet? Tour de France winner Frome was found to have high levels of an asthma drug in his urine. He might well be innocent, of course. And if he can explain the discrepancy, Frome will not earn a year-long ban from the sport. He says he is innocent. “My asthma got worse at the Vuelta [a Espana],” says Frome, “so I followed the tram doctor’s advice to increase my Salbutamol dosage. I tok the greatest care to ensure I did not use more than the permissible dose.”

In the meanwhile, the BBC has to work out if the cyclist should appear on Sports Personality of the Year. “It’s a massive headache, one which the BBC should do without,” says a BBC “source” in the Mirror. What asthma sufferers make of it is not mentioned. Presumably, they’re affronted that a man who has apparently overcome the condition with such gusto is being pilloried and possible censored.

Not that this is new. Bradley Wiggins, like Frome a Tour de France winner with Team Sky, has suffered with asthma. And like Frome, treatment of his condition has proven problematic. Perhaps asthmatics should confine their sporting activities to chess and panting down telephone sex lines?

As the BBC gets in a tizz about role models and who is fit to appear on its show, we get a bit more about Frome and Wiggins in the Mail. The paper picks up on a Facebook post by Lady Catherine Wiggins, Sir Bradley’s wife, in which she opines: “I’m going to be sick. Nothing in the news. If I was given to conspiracy theory I’d allege they’d thrown my boy under the bus on purpose to cover for this slithering reptile.” To ensure readers were not left in any doubt as to the identity of the reptile, Lady Wiggins’ post came with a photo of Frome.

Her ladyship has now removed the post and has posted an apology: “Sorry everyone for my emotional comments and insults. Too much stress got the better of me. Heat of the moment thing and certainly not my intent to fan the flames.”

No flames without smoke. Best open the window and let some sunlight and fresh air in. It’s getting claustrophobic for the asthmatics…

PS: what is it with cycling and asthma?

An assessment of the British Cycling team before the 2004 Olympics showed that around 40 per cent had asthma compared to only about eight per cent of the general population. For [Dr John Dickinson] Dickinson, this discrepancy stands to reason.

“Athletes are far more prone to asthma-related problems, mainly because of the environments they’re exposed to and the conditions required by the sport, such as the high breathing rates over prolonged periods.

“Cycling is done outdoors, often in dry, polluted air — there are lots of reasons for the high prevalence.”

And then there are the overtaking estate cars, media vehicles, villagers firing compressed-air horns into your eyeballs, finding the throat to scream “Get out the f***ing way” in French as you ascend a mountain pass Tibetan Sherpas view as a bit on the slippery side of steep, and the organ throttling lycra. It’s a miracle cyclists can breathe at all.

Posted: 15th, December 2017 | In: News, Sports, Tabloids | Comment | Comments RSS feed:RSS 2.0

Manchester United’s Lukaku accused of throwing bottle that injured Manchester City coach

Instead of putting his finger to his lips in the manner of a kindergarten teacher quieting a group of toddlers, José Mourinho simply requested that Manchester City’s players celebrating victory over the his Manchester United “keep their music down”.

Mourinho and Ederson, City’s Brazilian goalkeeper who apparently heard the polite request, began to argue. Reports suggest Mourinho accused Ederson of play-acting to waste time and then in English told him, “You fucking show respect. Who are you?” He’s Ederson. It says so on his top. Anyhow, overlooking the older man’s difficulty with names and aversion to loud music, the debate “sparked” trouble.

In the ensuing melee, Mikel Arteta, one of Pep Guardiola’s assistants, was left with blood streaming down his face from a split eyebrow and another member of Guardiola’s backroom staff needed medical treatment. As is the way with Mourinho, the Guardian says the “escaped lightly despite being in the middle of it”.

But who allegedly threw the bottle that hit Arteta? The Mirror announces: “Man United star ‘Romelu Lukaku launched bottle at Mikel Arteta’.”  Well, that’s “according to Spanish outlet Cadena SER on the show ‘El Larguero'”.

Over there, it’s alleged – and this through Google Translate:

Triggers between United and City players after the Manchester derby
Luis Martin told El Larguero that Romelu Lukaku gave a bottle to a member of the coaching staff of the City

We’re not told who Luis Martin is, nor how he knows anything about the incident. Which makes you wonder why he’s seen as a reliable source, and one good enough for the Daily Mirror? The Sun notes:



But we don’t know who threw the bottle.

Anyhow, after that Mourinho went for a chat with referee Michael Oliver, who booked Ander Herrera for diving in the City box. The Portuguese manager than told press: “It’s a clear penalty and I feel sorry for Mr Oliver because he had a good performance. He’s a human being and tried his best.”

What a lovely, understanding bloke Mourinho is.

Posted: 11th, December 2017 | In: Back pages, Manchester City, manchester united, News, Sports | Comment | Comments RSS feed:RSS 2.0

Biased balls: Everton’s masterplan, Liverpool make a point and Crystal Palace and Bournemouth adjudged

Biased balls: a look at one0eyed football reporting.

Liverpool drew 1-1 with Everton in the Merseyside derby. A goal to the good courtesy of Mohamed Salah’s opener, Liverpool were hauled back by an Everton penalty, converted by Wayne Rooney. Should it have been given?

The Everton website tells us Everton’s Dominic Calvert-Lewin was “pushed inside the area by Dejan Lovren”. Foul by Lovren, then. Everton’s “patience and application paid off when Dominic Calvert-Lewin was felled in the box by Dejan Lovren with 15 minutes to play – and Rooney rifled into the roof of the net from 12 yards.”

But the Liverpool website makes the player benign, says “Lovren was adjudged to have pushed Calvert-Lewin”. It wasn’t a push. It was a judgement. Liverpool’s official website hammers home the point by adding, “Dejan Lovren was deemed to have push Dominic Calvert-Lewin.” And: ” Dejan Lovren adjudged to have pushed Dominic Calvert-Lewin inside the area.”

More adjudgments in the Crystal Palace v Bournemouth match:

The Bournemouth FC website says: “A flick on from Benteke soon found Zaha running free and he was adjudged to have been brought down by Begovic.”

WAs it a foul or not?

But the Palace website see a clear foul: “…a superb flick-on by Benteke allowed Zaha to brush past Nathan Ake and speed into the area, and as he tried to round Begovic he was brought down by the Bosnian stopper for a spot-kick.

Pravda has nothing on this lot.




Posted: 10th, December 2017 | In: Back pages, Liverpool, Sports | Comment | Comments RSS feed:RSS 2.0

Transfer balls in the Sun: Ozil talks to Arsenal and agrees to join Manchester United and Barcelona

Transfer balls:  the Sun says Arsenal’s Mesut Ozil could sign a deal to stay at the club. Today’s paper reports:

The German midfielder’s representative have been in talks with the Gunners for more than a year over fresh terms.

Er… Can this be the same paper that told readers on September 13th 2017:

The 28-year-old has not spoken to club officials about a new deal since negotiations broke down in February.

And in July, the Sun told us:

‘MY PREFERENCE IS TO STAY’ – Mesut Ozil to hold contract extension talks with Arsenal in next fortnight

And on October 21 added:

Ozil, 29, has NOT had talks about a new contract with Arsenal since March

So much for the talks. What but the done deals?

October 20th readers were told:

OZMOSIS Arsenal – ace Mesut Ozil reckons Manchester United move is a done deal

November 8th:

OZIL wants Jack Wilshere’s No 10 shirt as part of his terms to stay at Arsenal.

And on November 22:

BARCELONA have agreed a deal to sign Mesut Ozil

And on November 30th:

ADIOZ – Mesut Ozil set to open talks on move to Barcelona with his Arsenal deal set to expire

December 6:

Emirates insiders have suggested a stunning breakthrough in negotiations is “very, very close.”

Such are the facts…

Posted: 9th, December 2017 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, Sports | Comment | Comments RSS feed:RSS 2.0