Anorak

Sports | Anorak - Part 7

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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.

The ridiculous pundit: Buvac to Arsenal and Giggs To Manchester United

Proving that being a football  pundit is a doddle is Danny Murphy, who tells Sky Sports News of his deep upset that Liverpool’s coach Zeljko Buvac is in line to become the next Arsenal manager. Buvac has 17 years as a coach under his belt, taking in league titles and big European finals.

Says Murphy:

“I would find it unbelievable to appoint someone who has never, ever managed as a number one at a club like Arsenal. I think that would be ridiculous for a club like Arsenal. It doesn’t matter how intelligent he is or what he’s done because doing it as a number two is nothing like doing it as a number one.”

It must have been a different Danny Murphy who opined on November 2015 about the next Manchester United manager?

“I would give it to Giggs. At least until the end of the season to see how it goes. He looks like he wants it, he is passionate and he knows how United fans want them to play.”

Consistency is all, right, Danny. Giggs to Arsenal it is, then.

Posted: 3rd, May 2018 | In: Arsenal, Sports | Comment


Subbuteo and the FA still still women’s football as a marketing gimmick

subbuteo-women game

 

In readiness for the 2018 Women’s FA Cup final between Chelsea and Arsenal, Subbuteo have produced a limited edition first all-female set. Marzena Bogdanowicz, the FA’s head of marketing and commercial for women’s football, tells us:

This new, all-female Subbuteo set is a reflection of the rapid growth that women’s football is seeing in the UK right now.

It is? Does anyone still play Subbuteo?

We aspire to greater equality all the way from board games to boardrooms, and every day we are striving to transform the future of the women’s game on and off the pitch.

 

The very first #Subbuteo advert ever seen in #Shoot! 1969-08-16

Subbuteo advert – Shoot! magazine – 1969

 

James Walker, of Hasbro, which make the table-top football game, adds:

We are incredibly excited to work with the FA to place focus on female footballers in this special edition of Subbuteo. Subbuteo has a rich heritage that reflects the nation’s love of football and this all-female playset is recognition of the vital role that women’s football has in our culture.

This is a little undermined by the fact that the set is not being offered for sale. You can only get it via competitions on the FA’s social media channels. The feeling is that Hasbro and the FA see women’s football not as a viable sport, rather as an opportunity to blow their own horns about equality, and that ‘women’s football’ is something apart from ‘football’.

Posted: 3rd, May 2018 | In: Arsenal, Chelsea, News, Sports, The Consumer | Comment


Manchester United should wish Fellaini a bon voyage to China

The two words Manchester United should tell Belgium midfielder Marouane Fellaini, 30, as he haggles over a new deal are “zài jiàn”. The Sun says Fellaini has “warned” United that unless they offer him huge money he will consider moving to China.

It comes to something when an average Premier League footballer – albeit one who makes full use of his height and reach; but lacks pace, technique and poise – is firing shots across the bows of one of the world’s biggest clubs. The question is not what United should do to please Fellaini but how he ever played for United in the first place?

The Sun says it would cost £50m to “replace” Fellaini. Which invites another question: why would you want to?

It’s also utter tosh. Fellaini joined a desperate United from Everton in 2013 for £27.5m. Since then, United have splashed out on the following talents:

Juan Mata (Chelsea) £37,100,000 – 25 Jan, 2014
Ander Herrera (Ath Bilbao) £29,000,000 – 26 Jun, 2014
Luke Shaw (Southampton) £27,000,000 – 27 Jun, 2014
Andreas Pereira (PSV Eindhoven) – 01 Aug, 2014
Marcos Rojo (Sporting) – £16,000,000 20 Aug, 2014
Angel Di Maria (Real Madrid) – £59,700,000 26 Aug, 2014
Daley Blind (Ajax) – £13,800,000 01 Sep, 2014
Victor Valdes (Barcelona) – Free 08 Jan, 2015
Memphis Depay (PSV Eindhoven) – £25,000,000 11 Jun, 2015
Matteo Darmian (Torino) £1 -2,700,000 11 Jul, 2015
Bastian Schweinsteiger (Bayern Munich) – £14,400,000 13 Jul, 2015
Morgan Schneiderlin (Southampton) – £25,000,000 13 Jul, 2015
Sergio Romero (Sampdoria) – Free 27 Jul, 2015
Anthony Martial (Monaco) – £36,000,000 01 Sep, 2015
Regan Poole (Newport Co) – £100,000 01 Sep, 2015
Eric Bailly (Villarreal) -£30,000,000 08 Jun, 2016
Zlatan Ibrahimovic Paris St-G. Free 01 Jul, 2016
Henrikh Mkhitaryan (B Dortmund) -£26,000,000 06 Jul, 2016
Paul Pogba Juventus (£89,300,000) – 08 Aug, 2016
Victor Lindelof Benfica (£31,000,000) – 14 Jun, 2017
Romelu Lukaku (Everton) – £75,000,000 10 Jul, 2017
Nemanja Matic (Chelsea) – £40,000,000 31 Jul, 2017
Alexis Sanchez (Arsenal) – Player plus cash – 22 Jan, 2018

And in that same period: Manchester City bought Kevin De Bruyne for £55m in 2015; Liverpool bought Mo Salah for £39m in 2017; and Spurs bought Del Elli for £5m in 2015.

But for £50,m you can get another Fellaini. If you’re not careful you can, yes.

Here’s Fellaini:

“I went to see the manager last year, and said I wanted a new contract. I then had a second meeting, but I’m not going to ask ten times. Since then I have become important for the team – and it costs £50m minimum to buy a good new player.”

No. It doesn’t. As Jose Mourinho put it on May 1:

“My Player of the Year has to be Scott McTominay.”

He cost United nothing in transfer fees. He’s 21. He’s dynamic. He’s hungry. And never once has he sounded as if he was doing the club a favour.

Best of luck in China, Marouane. Close the door on the way out…

Posted: 3rd, May 2018 | In: Back pages, manchester united, News, Sports | Comment


Joe Mourinho admits something is wrong with De Gea at Manchester United

How are things progressing for Manchester United with Jose Mourinho in charge? Pretty good. Second in the table, albeit a mile behind Manchester City, and in the final of the FA Cup, United are competitive. Mourinho will have been two years in the job this May 27. Has progress been made under his pragmatic methods?

This is what Jose said in January 6 2017:

“I think when a goalkeeper is a player of the season, it’s because something is wrong. Of course I would love goalkeepers to be recognised, to win the golden ball (Ballon d’Or), to be player of season in the Premier League because goalkeepers are lonely guys with a different shirt to everybody else.

“When they play phenomenal people forget, when they make a mistake, everyone remembers. That’s why I hugged David at the end of the West Ham game because no save, Antonio goal, no three points.

“Season after season the goalkeeper is player of the season, it means that something is wrong. Hopefully he’s not player of the season this season but hopefully he keeps making important saves for us like he did in last week”

And so to today’s news:

David De Gea has been crowned the Sir Matt Busby Player of the Year for 2017/18. The coveted award is certainly in safe hands as the Spanish stopper has now won it more times than any other player in United’s history. It’s the fourth time in five seasons that De Gea has claimed the historic accolade.

De Gea is the only goalkeeper to have won the award. He’s won it in both season’s Mourinho has been in charge.

This is the list of all the winners to date since the award was first given in 1988:

1987–88 Brian McClair, Forward
1988–89 Bryan Robson, Midfielder
1989–90 Gary Pallister, Defender
1990–91 Mark Hughes, Forward
1991–92 Brian McClair
1992–93 Paul Ince, Midfielder
1993–94 Eric Cantona, Forward
1994–95 Andrei Kanchelskis, Midfielder
1995–96 Eric Cantona France Forward
1996–97 David Beckham, Midfielder
1997–98 Ryan Giggs, Midfielder
1998–99 Roy Keane, Midfielder
1999–2000 – Roy Keane
2000–01 Teddy Sheringham, Forward
2001–02 Ruud van Nistelrooy, Forward
2002–03 Ruud van Nistelrooy, Forward
2003–04 Cristiano Ronaldo, Midfielder
2004–05 Gabriel Heinze, Defender
2005–06 Wayne Rooney, Forward
2006–07 Cristiano Ronaldo
2007–08 Cristiano Ronaldo
2008–09 Nemanja Vidić, Defender
2009–10 Wayne Rooney
2010–11 Javier Hernández, Forward
2011–12 Antonio Valencia, Midfielder
2012–13 Robin van Persie, Forward
2013–14 David de Gea, Goalkeeper
2014–15 David de Gea
2015–16 David de Gea
2016–17 Ander Herrera, Midfielder
2017–18 David de Gea

And next year’s winner is…

Posted: 2nd, May 2018 | In: manchester united, Sports | Comment


Clickbait balls: Arsenal’s Henrikh Mkhitaryan crawls to Madrid

Henrikh Mkhitaryan is back training with Arsenal ahead of their do-or-die Europa League match with Atletico Madrid. The Armenian has emerged as a key figure in Arsenal’s season. Last weekend, he scored on his first return visit to Manchester United, with whom he won the Europa League last season. Good news for Arsenal, then, that Mkhitaryan is fit.

Of course, he isn’t fit – well, not if you get your news from the Daily Express and Daily Star he’s not. In both tabloids, Mkhitaryan hasn’t played since April 11:

 

Henrikh Mkhitaryan injury

The Star

Henrikh Mkhitaryan

The Express

 

Shameless clickbait we expect from the Star and Express, of course. The Express operates in the twilight zone between fact and fiction. You don’t need Facebook for fake news – you just need an editorial staff run by the advertising department and Google News to play ball and promote your rubbish on its front page…

Posted: 2nd, May 2018 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, Sports, Tabloids | Comment


Spurs striker Harry Kane is still stressing over that tweet

Someone should tell Tottenham striker Harry Kane that no comment is still a comment. He’s still stressing over that tweet sent from the FA Cup account, you know, the one posted after Manchester United’s 2-1 FA Cup semi-final victory over Spurs. “What’s in your pocket?” asked the FA of United defender Chris Smalling. A short clip played of him replying: “Harry Kane.”

“I talked to the gaffer about it and all he was saying was, ‘Would other countries do that to their own players?’ Probably not,” says Kane. “The FA tweet was a silly tweet, we all know that. It is something that has gone, it was two weeks ago or whatever it was, I am over it.”

So about the…

“The gaffer said I was sad about it, but I am focused. I am a guy who gets on with things. If it happens, it happens, I move on, I look forward, I look forward to the next game, that’s all I worry about, getting out on the pitch and doing my job.”

Good job that claiming scoring goals as if his daughter’s life depended on it is the only thing on his mind…

Posted: 2nd, May 2018 | In: Sports, Spurs | Comment


Arsenal to recruit Liverpool’s Buvac on the cheap

Is it “bizarre” for Liverpool assistant manager Zeljko Buvac to be linked with the Arsenal manager’s job? The Liverpool Post says it is. Buvac, the Bosnian who has coached alongside Jurgen Klopp for 17 years until a recent schism, would make a decent fist of managing the Gunners; far better than Arsenal Wenger’s current Number 2, the uninspiring Steve Bould.

The source of the story linking Buvac with Arsenal is Pravda BL – the publication that was earlier than most to confirm Klopp’s appointment at Anfield. Pravda BL says Buvac has agreed to replace Wenger. The deal is done. If it is, Arsenal fans should be pleased. The man nicknamed ‘The Brain’ is a talented coach. He’s untainted by failure and high expectation that comes with a bigger name. And he’ll come relatively cheap.

“Zeljko is football expertise incarnate,” Klopp said of his assistant. “I learn every day from him.” Dortmund midfielder Nuri Sahin described him as “basically Klopp’s twin”.

Arsenal seem to have been making plans to get Buvac for some time. The Londoners recruited Sven Mislintat, as Arsenal’s head of recruitment in December 2017. He and Buvac worked together at Borussia Dortmund during Klopp’s time at the German club. Klopp made Mislinat Dortmund’s chief scout.

Colin Bell, who was reserve-team coach at Mainz under Klopp, told the Times about Buvac:

“Zeljko reads the game very well, he has great footballing ideas and is always looking at finding new ways on how to play and train.

“When Mainz started to play 4-3-3 it was different to the Dutch way, where you have a central striker and two out-and-out wingers. Zeljko wanted the players to keep moving around, interchanging, coming inside.

“Andriy Voronin [who would later join Liverpool] scored 20 goals for Mainz [in 2002-03] and he was all over the pitch, working really hard from central striker or right wing and left wing and it was so difficult for opponents to stop him and others. I can see those sorts of aspects in the Liverpool style now, especially with the quality of the player they have.

“Closing down, surrounding opponents, going hunting for the ball — that all started in Mainz. That was one of Zeljko’s big things and he did specific training forms for that.”

Kuvac for Arsenal is it is, then. The more you consider the idea, the more sensible it looks.

Posted: 2nd, May 2018 | In: Arsenal, Liverpool, Sports | Comment


Liverpool fans in Rome warned to expect blood on the bridge

We’ve heard a lot about medical facilities in Rome recently. Apparently they’re excellent, offering therapies and treatments the NHS can’t. Some comfort, then, for the 5,000 Liverpool fans arriving in Rome for the club’s second Champions League semi-final match with AS Roma. The Reds on tour have been warned to expect attacks from local ‘ultras’ and other thugs.

At Anfield in the first encounter, a gang of uniformed “fucking morons” attached to Roma beat a 53-year-old Liverpool fan into a coma. A banner held by Roma fans at Anfield declared “DDS Con Noi” (“Daniele De Santis is with us”). De Santis murdered a Napoli fan before the Italian cup final in 2014.

One likely black spot in Rome is the Duca D’Aosta bridge over the Tiber to the Stadio Olimpico. In 1984,  after Liverpool had defeated Roma to win the European Cup on the Italians’ home turf, there was blood on the Ponte Duca D’Aosta. “George Sharp, a friend’s father, was knifed in the kidneys and nearly bled to death,” recalls Tony Evans. “When his 16-year-old son Ian tried to get a policeman to help, the man smashed his baton across the teenager’s nose instead. Only the prompt action of another officer saved his dad’s life.”

Now Liverpool are back. “These are two sets of fans who don’t back down, so we have work to do,” says Giampietro Lionetti, head of city’s special branch. Italian football journalist Alessandro Catapano, warns: “Real violence at the stadium is difficult but there could be small groups going hunting for Liverpool fans on Tuesday night – that’s the danger moment.”

And then you’ve got to worry about the police…

Posted: 1st, May 2018 | In: Liverpool, Sports | Comment


Liverpool: Klopp isolated after his ‘master of training’ leaves

Liverpool will be moving on without Zeljko Buvac, the sallow one with the indy band hair sat next to Jurgen Klopp in the dugout. Liverpool’s 56-year-old assistant manager has left until the end of the season for “personal business” – it’s personal and it’s none of your business.

Although the Daily Record says Buvac (aka ‘The Brain’) and Klopp fell out. The Sun notes: “The relationship had broken down, and the players have been told Buvac is gone.”

Buvac, who became Klopp’s assistant at Mainz in 2001, has made no comment. Liverpool says he’s still employed by the club.

It’s an odd time to change the hierarchy. The pair were so tight having been at three clubs together over 17 years. Buvac once told the Sunday Express: “Both of us were looking to become managers and we promised each other, ‘If I am the first manager, I will take you and if you are the first manager you will take me’.” Klopp called Buvac the “master of every form of training”.

Who next?

Posted: 30th, April 2018 | In: Back pages, Liverpool, News, Sports | Comment


Biased Reporting: Jose’s ‘masterstroke’ helps Manchester United block Arsenal

Manchester United’s “never-say-die streak” saw them beat a much-weakened Arsenal side at Old Trafford – it was the Gunners’ youngest Premier League starting XI. The official Manchester United website says Jose Mourinho “outsmarted” Arsene Wenger by bringing on the very tall Marouane Fellaini late on and lobbing the ball towards his bonce. It was Jose’s “masterstroke” that Fellaini scored with his head against two young Arsenal centre backs who’d never played together before, including one making his debut.

The official Manchester United organ’s blinkered match report makes no mention of the fact that Arsenal’s goalscorer, Henrikh Mkhitaryan, used to play for the club – also not noting that Jose Mourinho shunted him out, just as he got shot of the Kevin De Bruyne and Mo Salah, when he thought neither of this season’s star turns for Man City and Liverpool, respectively, was good enough for his Chelsea.

But there is this on the opening goal:

It didn’t take long for United to make Wenger’s last time as Gunners boss initially uncomfortable when taking a 16th-minute lead. Pogba started and finished the move. The France midfielder stroked a pass to Romelu Lukaku and went driving on into the area. Lukaku’s cross was met with a header from Alexis Sanchez. His hopes of a dream goal against his former employers were dashed as his effort hit Hector Bellerin and came off a post, only for Pogba to volley home.

It hit Bellerin?

The Daily Telegraph saw this:

Unmarked, Sanchez’s diving header was diverted onto the post by Hector Bellerin at full-stretch only for the ball to rebound to Pogba who simply volleyed it into the unguarded net.

As for the official Arsenal website, it went like this:

Alexis looked certain to score with his head at the far post, but Hector Bellerin made a superb diving block to divert his effort onto the post. Unfortunately the ball fell straight to the waiting Pogba to tap home.

What say the papers?

The Islington Gazette adds:

…the goal itself was slightly fortuitous as Hector Bellerin’s block from Alexis Sanchez’s header diverted the ball onto David Ospina’s right hand post.

The Ham & High needs a lesson in human anatomy:

Excellent block from Alexis Sanchez’s header deserved better than for it to hit the post and rebound back for Pogba to head home.

And the Manchester Evening News shoves Bellerin down the memory hole:

Great counter attack by United. Pogba out to Sanchez on his right who floats in a great cross, Sanchez header at the far post comes off the post and Pogba’s there to finish it and put United 1-0 up.

They say “volley”. You say “tap”. They say “hit. You say “superb diving block”.

One thing the Arsenal website fails to mention is the dire fact that Arsenal have now lost six successive away fixtures in the league for the first time since Billy Wright was their manager in 1966. But, yep, Jose’s the master.

Wenger OUT!

Posted: 29th, April 2018 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, manchester united, News, Sports | Comment


AS Roma president Jim Palottta on Sean Cox and Liverpool is powerful stuff

AS Roma president Jim Pallotta has a few words to say on Sean Cox, the Liverpool fans left for dead by violent criminals – “fucking morons” – when the sides met in the Champions League, his club and more:

I don’t want to talk about the game at all at Liverpool. What I want to talk about is how these games are great but they’re not life and death. What’s going on right now with Sean Cox in Liverpool, that’s life and death and that affects his family. I don’t really give a shit about the score of the game. It’s disappointing to me that Rome and AS Roma get blamed for a few individuals who do stupid things.

Now, I don’t know the whole story. All I’ve seen is what I saw on the video, like most others, and at least that part of the video with Sean is just the most disgusting stupidity and my prayers are for him and his family.

It’s depressing though that all of the other fans at Roma get blamed for something that, going back to that saying that I had about a year and a half ago… a few people wrecking things for everyone else. I don’t blame our fans. We have unbelievably great fans across the board. The Curva Sud… the only reason we come back and win games like we did against Barcelona is because of the 99.9% of the fans in the Curva Sud who are great. Then, occasionally, you get a few, normally outside of the game, more than anything else… it’s just absolutely ridiculous.

But it’s time now for things to change in Italy and in Rome, because it is just happening too much. I’ll go back to something that happened in 1993. I was in Florence in 1993 and I was in a museum that all of us know. At the end of the day, when the museum closed, I was going to have dinner in a restaurant right next to the museum and I ended up getting into a better restaurant about a mile away. The next morning I got up and I drove at six in the morning to Paris. Most of the night, all I’d heard was sirens. I got to Paris and I pulled up to the hotel and the doorman asked me where I was coming from. I said I was coming from Florence and the doorman turned to me and said, ‘Ooh, big bomb!’ I couldn’t understand what he was saying and I went inside and checked in and was having a beer with a friend of mine and CNN was on and it turned out they’d blown up 20% of the museum. All I remember after that night was Italians got together and said, ‘Enough is enough of this shit!’ I remember millions of Italians, or it looked like millions of Italians, all over the country started marching against the criminal elements and saying, ‘You are destroying our history’.

We have a long history at Roma and what’s going on when you have a few stupid people is that they destroy our history and they attack our legacy and I’m tired of it. It’s not just an issue for Rome. It’s an issue for Italy and it’s an issue for the authorities and it’s an issue for all of to band together and to finally wake up so that we don’t have a reputation – that’s not deserved around the rest of the world – that our fans are not good fans because our fans are the best fans in the world – it’s just a couple of fucking morons that take the rest of us down.

Much better than the usual corporate guff.

Posted: 29th, April 2018 | In: Key Posts, Liverpool, Sports | Comment


Wenger taught Arsenal the art of losing

Arsene Wenger’s closing days at Arsenal are marked by his admission: “The timing was not really my decision.” That’s the good news for Arsenal fans. It suggests the club’s board has finally risen from its collective torpor and realised that under Wenger’s faded light their investment is devaluing.

What Arsenal had under Wenger vanished years ago, perhaps as far back as a decade. Now they look for hope in an unlikely win over Atletico Madrid in the Europa League next Thursday, and with it a route for the country’s sixth best side to qualify for next season’s Champions League. Arsenal will be back where they belong – also-rans in the top contest. It’ll be like those years when they kept coming fourth and never improved.

Wenger leaves Arsenal fragile and indecisive.

Today Wenger managed Arsenal for the last time at Old Trafford. What a damp squib. United and their fans once feared Wenger and his feisty team. What price Tony Adams, Ian Wright, Sol Campbell, Martin Keown, Ashley Cole, Patrick Vieira, Emmanuel Petit, Nigel Winterburn, David Seaman, Dennis Bergkamp and Thierry Henry? When Sylvain Wiltord’s strike won the title at old Trafford, clinching the double for the Gunners, it was magnificent. Ferguson v Wenger was the league’s top fight. But only one of them had to win. Wenger wanted to make art out of football.

When Shkodran Mustafi slipped on his arse, his mouth gaping as Atletico’s Antoine Griezmann outwitted three hapless Arsenal defenders by the cunning ploy of keeping his eye on the ball, I imagined the speech bubble above the German’s head declaring, “Art.”

The fans want better. They won’t get it quickly because unlike when Wenger arrived, Arsenal don’t have a great back four. They have a squad of lightweight journeymen bereft of leaders.

Wenger blazed a revolution all those years ago. Now Arsenal need a new sea-change: a vocal captain unafraid to dish it out and a defender who knows when to smash the ball and man into the stands. Anyone know what George Graham’s up to?

Arsene Wenger’s first home game 19 October 1996: David Seaman, Lee Dixon, Tony Adams, Steve Bould, Martin Keown, Nigel Winterburn, Paul Merson, David Platt, Patrick Vieira, John Hartson, Ian Wright.

When did it all go wrong for Wenger? When he stopped picking and recruiting tough home-grown players who were happy to do the dirty stuff.

Posted: 29th, April 2018 | In: Arsenal, News, Sports | Comment


Liverpool to offer Salah double yer money deal

Liverpool are keen to keep Egypt forward Mohamed Salah, 25, at the club. They’re ready to offer him a new deal worth £185,000 a week. That’s double his current wage on a contract that has four years to run.

It’s not enough. Not when you realises what Salah could earn elsewhere given his sensational form. Of course, the gamble for Liverpool and other clubs is in working out if Salah’s season is something of a freak. Can he do it again and again?

The numbers will fluctuate in the Press, of course. The Sun also notes the £185,000 weekly pay packet, but in other stories it pitches the offer to Salah at £200,000. Spanish website Don Balon says Salah is interested in playing for Real Madrid. The Sun – again – says Salah can go to Real for £166m, where only Cristiano Ronaldo will earn more.

The money is huge. But Salah is grounded. He’s just donated $450k for a water treatment plant in his home town. Sometimes you can forget that beneath all the hype, lawyers, marketeers, opportunists and greed, there’s a bloke who loves playing football and for whom money is far from being everything.

Posted: 29th, April 2018 | In: Back pages, Liverpool, News, Sports | Comment


Arsenal offload Wenger to China; Manchester United want 9

With all the shock value of a baby with a full nappy, news is that departing Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger will become the highest-paid manager in the world should he move to the Chinese Super League. The BBC says so.

He won’t go, of course. It was only a day or two ago that the tabloids were telling us of Wenger’s “hint” at continuing to coach in European football. China might well own vast chunks of European real estate and capital, but we’re not yet an enclave.

The BBC and Mirror mention not a single club by name to have offered Wenger anything in mangement, only that he has been “inundated” with offers and it is “understood” the deal is worth even more than “Marcello Lippi receives on his £24m-a-year deal as boss of the China national team”. (Lippi’s alive?!)

And then this guff:

But Wenger, who has been earning £8m-a-year, can get even more after being sounded out with a serious offer from China for when he steps down at Arsenal this summer.

Oh, and the Mirror “understands” Wenger would prefer to manager in Europe. The paper “believes” Wenger wants to continue in management. Mirror and BBC readers might well understand that this story has more holes than the Arsenal defence, which is lots.

 

wenger manchester united

Via (The Times)

 

8-2 arsenal

 

As for the actual football, Arsenal travel to Manchester United on Sunday. The game falls between their Europa League clashes with Atletico Madrid. Arsenal fans have no need to wonder what team Wenger will send out at United – it’s not the one that used to fight and scrap and win. It’s the one that follows an 8-2 drubbing; the team of journeymen you get when a palsied board stick with a faded talent in exchange for regular dividend cheques that come with being also-rans.

Arsenal are slipping. Last summer was dominated by the mess over Alexis Sanchez (now at Man United, of course, and playing well) and Mesut Ozil’s contracts. This one will be about a new manager, and Aaron Ramsey and Danny Welbeck when the pair enter the final 12 months of their existing deals in June – when Jack Wilshere will be a free agent. No planning. No vision.

“I always got a great reception at Old Trafford,” says Wenger. “I don’t know what kind of reception I will get but we will be focused on winning the game. We always had some great battles in 22 years.” When was the last one, Arsene?

Manchester United 8, Arsenal 2 (2011). He should have gone years ago.

Posted: 28th, April 2018 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, manchester united, News, Sports, Tabloids | Comment


Spurs Harry Kane goes full Atletico Mince over being ‘bullied’

Spurs striker Harry Kane thinks he’s being bullied. Kane is said to be upset over a joke made by PFA chairman Ben Purkiss (Swindon Town FC) at the recent awards do. Purkiss told the room: “Harry Kane is so prolific that he is able to score without touching the ball.”

And…? And nothing. The reference being, of course, Kane’s sad and desperate – and oddly successful – mission to claim Spurs’ winning goal against Stoke City a few weeks ago. The ball appeared to go directly in from a Christian Eriksen freekick. But Kane felt a draft on his shirt and claimed it;  taking home, presumably, any goal bonus and edging closer to the Golden Boot for the Premier League’s top scorer.

The Daily Mirror notes:

It is understood Kane and his family are furious and see the jokes being made at the striker’s expense as a form of bullying.

Bullying? He’s a grown man, hymned by the masses and reared in a bubble of sycophants and lackays. Suck it up, Harry. You’re looking like a fool.

 

 

Posted: 27th, April 2018 | In: Back pages, Key Posts, Sports, Spurs | Comment


Arsenal and Atletico Madrid fight in an ‘Orphanage’: Google Translate does the Europa League

When Arsenal contrived to toss away a fantastic opportunity to put Atletico Madrid to the sword in the first leg of their Europa League semi-final, we went to see what Spanish newspapers made of the 1-1 draw. When fans are feeling blue at their team’s shortcomings – and how did Arsenal playing at home, a goal and an extra man to the good following a 10th minute red card in their favour finish the game 1-1? Answer: comical defending – it’s a fun idea to read the match report via Google Translate.

Spanish newspaper El Pais tells us of a fight in an orphanage and much more besides:

In ten minutes he had seen how Arsenal was going over him and the arbitration decisions that put the game uphill were unleashed. The bad deliveries generated an initial decomposition that caused the first bombing of the Arsenal and also the first yellow to Vrsaljko for tripping Wilshere. With this card the French referee Clèment Turpin set the bar very low. Soon, Oblak put a prodigious hand to deflect a header from Lacazatte, who had already hovered the goal after a center past Welbeck. In the middle of the game cascade produced by Özil, Ramsey and Wilshere, Vrasljko arrived late to a dispute with Lacazette and stepped on the French striker. The referee showed the second yellow to the Croatian side and Simeone was demonized. He began to protest with fuss and vociferate. Perhaps he is accustomed to these protests in Spain, but Turpin did not allow them. Atlético stayed with a player less and orphaned coach.

From that orphanage so early in the morning, he had no choice but to be more of Simeone than ever…

Turned into a split pediment, Arsenal fell into the routine and prompted the Atlético take air to play something. Griezmann had a shy shot from the edge before having the clearest chance of the first half. It originated Thomas, who understood that the context of the shock was for heroic adventures…

The start of the second act revived the local offensive thunders from innumerable centers on the sides. He also seemed to adjust better Wenger set to prevent the Athletic could progress and generate kickbacks. Center to center, the harassment and demolition paid off…

It was the Montenegrin center who put a long ball to Griezmann to persist with Koscielny. He tried to control the ball, but was met by the insistence of Griezmann, who slipped the ball and stood before Ospina. The Colombian goal took the first shot, but the rejection no longer forgave the Frenchman…

They still had another drink in a header from Ramsey, but Oblak with another stretched museum certified the resistance of Atlético to fall.

It’s rivalled by AS, whose reporter goes full tonto:

Arsenal came out to win, without trembling. The Atleti, like a flan, at six minutes already added a stick of Lacazette and the first miracle hand of Oblak. But he was 115 years old at the Emirates and could only do so with a game that matched his history . With suffering, epic and blessed madness . Because there was, a lot. Because very soon Vrsaljko would leave with ten of his own . He saw yellow in the 2 ‘to avoid a counter and in the 9’ he stepped on Lacazette without thinking that he already had a card. The referee, Turpin, did not either. To think that the party had not even reached 10 ‘. Yellow, red and to the tunnel. Soon Simeone would follow .

The referee did not punish with yellow a foul on Lucas and that burned him. I would turn off Turpin’s finger. To the tier. For many minutes the Arsenal would not stop raining . It was Lacazette, storm between the lines, it was that deadly Welbeck headbutt. Al Atleti was only held by a redoubt, the goalkeeper of 13 on his back. Second hand miracle of Oblak…

Adding:

It seemed the sentence but, then, when the clock said 81, Welbeck lost that ball that Giménez sent long to Grizi , for 1-1, and Oblak stopped that last time, Ramsey, to leave to Wenger that smell of defeat in clothes . Because there are games that smell like that, like some nights. It does not matter to tie them, you smell them, the clothes, and there it is. The defeat, although his Arsenal did not lose. The Metropolitan will decide.

Or as the Arsenal website outs it: “We CAN do it.”

Posted: 27th, April 2018 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, Sports, Technology | Comment


Arsenal: Wenger hints at something but not that

What next for Arsene Wenger when he finally closes the door on Arsenal and we can all forget about the nine years without a trophy, signing Marouane Chamakh and watching a side with all aggression of a newborn lamb? Unless, of course, the masterful manager steers Arsenal to the Europa League title and with it Champions League qualification, and we call agree that it’d be right and proper for Wenger to remain at the club for another season. Or longer. Don’t toss way those “Wenger Out’ banners yet, Gooners.

 

arsenal wenger express

 

The Express, though, is a practical organ. Everything it publishes is printed in trusty black and white. Wenger is going. End of. And today the paper delivers the news: “Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger drops big hint over next job: This is where I want to manage.”

 

arsenal wenger express

 

In case you missed it there, the Express’s sister paper, the Star, also thunders: “Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger drops huge hint over where he’ll manage next.”

Where? Bayern Munich? Spurs? England? Says Wenger: “I hope these are not my last European cup games – my target is to play in Europe again.” The hint is that he cole mange for any club in Europe. In yer face, Guangzhou Evergrande Taobao.

Posted: 26th, April 2018 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, News, Sports, Tabloids | Comment


Why I sold Salah to Liverpool: Roma director relives the horror

“Every time he scores I’m like, ‘Oh, dear God’,” James Pallotta, Roma’s American owner, says of Mohamed Salah, Liverpool’s star player who joined the Reds from the Italians and orchestrated a 5-2 rout of his former club in the Champions League semi-final.  This season, Salah has scored 43 goals in 47 games. He scored two against Roma – the first two – and then served up two more for his teammates.

So why did Roma sell Salah for £36.9 last summer? Liverpool now value the player at close to £200m. Roma’s sporting director, Monch (nee Ramón Rodríguez Verdejo) tries to explain. “I sold him for more than €42m,” he told Spanish radio station Onda Cero. “We had a need to sell. We had no option but to sell Salah before 30 June. Had we not done that, we probably wouldn’t be here playing the semi-final of the Champions League as we had Uefa closely monitoring us.

“We didn’t want to sell him but we had no choice. We had to take an offer before the end of the month. He wanted to leave, but we would have kept him if the regulations weren’t against us. When I arrived, the offer [from Liverpool] was €30m but we managed to get it up to almost €50m with bonuses. That is what we could do. The market then went crazy with Neymar, Coutinho and Dembélé.”

It could be worse, of course. You could be Jose Mourinho and Chelsea, who oversaw not just the sale of Salah but also that of Kevin De Bruyne.

Posted: 26th, April 2018 | In: Back pages, Liverpool, Sports | Comment


Arsenal balls: Elneny vows to walk again

As ever, when a footballer is injured the tabloids shift into full ghoul mode, reaching for the blindfold and shotgun.  It was so when Arsenal midfielder Mohamed Elneny was hurt in his side’s 4- in over West Ham. Peak horror was fanned by the Sun, which told of “tears”, “devastation” and “broken limbs“. Elneny was “broken”. Elneny was not going to play again for Arsenal this season. He was most likely also out of Egypt’s team for the World Cup finals. Two days on and we’re living in the time of miracles. Elneny will will be out of action for three weeks.

The Sun reports:

It’s good news for Arsenal who will hope to have Elneny fit for the Premier League run-in and potentially the Europa League final… many believing his season was over.

No. Only some of those Sun readers believed that – the ones who believe you can offer a diagnosis and prognosis from a screen shot of a turned ankle, presenting a sprain as a “freak injury“.

Update: Elneny will not play for Arsenal again this season.

Posted: 25th, April 2018 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, Sports | Comment


Liverpool’s injured Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain must learn from Spurs Harry Kane

oxlade-chamberlain injury

 

When Liverpool signed midfielder Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain from Arsenal, many wondered how long a player with such a long history of injuries would last before he was crocked again, especially playing for Jurgen Klopp’s pell-mell team. At last night’s throbbing Champions’ League 5-2 victory over Roma, Oxlade-Chamberlain was stretchered off in the 15th minute with the scores tied at 0-0.

After the match, Klopp went on the record to say: “”It’s probably a really bad injury. If you can say that already before the scan then it’s never good news.”

The Ox has made an impressive 41 appearances in all competitions for Liverpool, scoring five goals. But there was an inkling that injury would always come. According to the TransferMarket site, Oxlade-Chamberlain has now injured his knee four times. In 2013-2014, a knee injury caused him to miss half the season:

 

Alex Oxlade-chamberlain injuries

 

 

He’s been unlucky. But to what extend are players invited to suck it up and play though the pain, pushing themselves too far before their body has fully healed?

Top athletes are primed like race horses. They are highly strung, fitter than amateur sportsmen and women. Their bodies are pushed to the limit. Recovery time is vital.

Tennis player Raphael Nadal talks of his own injuries in his autobiography:

“Playing sports is a good thing for ordinary people; sport played at the professional level is not good for your health. It pushes your body to limits that human beings are not naturally equipped to handle. That’s why just about every top professional athlete has been laid low by injury…I’ve had to push and mould my body to adapt it to cope with the repetitive muscular stress that tennis forces on you . . . [We] have to learn to live with pain.”

To what extent does an injury play around with an athlete’s mind? Oxlade-Chamberlain is acutely aware of his medical history and the state of his knees. But it’s a fair bet he’ll be wishing to get well enough fast so that he can play in the World Cup finals, pain or no pain – maybe the rush of playing can mask the niggles and the agony. Drive and adrenalin will pull him through.

But taking it slower is wise. When Spurs’ star striker Harry Kane damaged his ankle on March 11 in their 4-1 win at Bournemouth, he returned just three weeks later for his side’s 3-1 win over Chelsea. “The swelling went down quickly,” said Kane “and whenever I get injured I prepare right and make sure I do everything I can to get the swelling down and get back on the pitch. Hopefully this time it was quicker than last time… The injury was pretty much exactly the same time as last year, funnily enough. I was feeling strong last year and that’s what I’ll try to do this year.”

Since then Kane has been more miss than hit. He’s scored twice since his return but was largely anonymous when Spurs lost to Manchester United in the FA Cup semi-finals. The FA apologised for posting a message asking United defender Chris Smalling “What’s in your pocket?” and including a short clip of him saying, “Harry Kane”.

Kane, England’s best striker, has returned from injury a figure of derision, not all of it underserved.

In Spurs victory over Stoke, Kane claimed a goal initially awarded to team-mate Christian Eriksen. Kane said Eriksen’s free-kick grazed his shoulder on the way in. The Premier League goals accreditation panel awarded him the goal “after taking the player’s testimony into account and reviewing the match footage”. Jokes followed. When Liverpool’s mighty Mohamed Salah was named PFA Player of the Year for 2017-18, his teammate Simon Mignolet told him to “take care” as “someone else might claim it”.

 

 

Kane was desperate to matter again. He wanted to get well fast and score. It’s debatable how much that desire to succeed clouded his judgement, causing him not to consider the long-term implications of playing too soon after injury.

So get well soon, Oxlade-Chamberlain. But don’t rush.

Posted: 25th, April 2018 | In: Arsenal, Liverpool, News, Sports | Comment


Liverpool striker rewrites history for Mo Salah; Manchester City star never stood a chance

Mohamed Salah is the Liverpool tyro scoring goals with great awareness, no little skill and finishing with elegant panache. He’s been terrific for Liverpool all season. And he’s won an prize, taking away the PFA player of the year award. It was pretty much a toss-up between Salah and Manchester City’s Kevin De Bruyne, like Salah also flogged for not being good enough by monocular Jose Mourinho’s winning-is-all Chelsea. De Bruyne has been sublime, an imaginative driving force for City’s title victory. I’d have voted for him to win the award. But goal scorers get the headlines – their attributes are measurable in the baldest terms: Salah has an impressive 31 PL goals.

Choosing between the pair is hard. But not for former Liverpool player Stan Collymore, who told his Daily Mirror readers: “Mo Salah was the outstanding choice for the PFA Player of the year award. The sheer variety of goals he has scored in his debut season playing for a club where expectation levels are huge has been phenomenal.”

But were expectations all that high about a player who’d left Chelsea for Roma – a player who in the era of absurd fees came in for £36.9m – just £4m more than Liverpool paid Arsenal for the overrated Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain?

No.

 

Stan Collymore Mirror

 

On February 12, Collymore told his readers: “Harry Kane and Mo Salah have their merits as potential Player of the Year award winners. But that honour has to go to Kevin De Bruyne. He has been weighing in with goals and important assists at important times in games all season. His level of consistency has been outstanding. I saw one article saying they feel up at Manchester City that he should be in the reckoning for a Ballon d’Or shout, and I wouldn’t disagree with that.”

A short while on and Salah is the only choice.

Vote now and vote often!

Posted: 24th, April 2018 | In: Back pages, Liverpool, Manchester City, News, Sports, Tabloids | Comment


Manchester City’s Raheem Sterling Deserves To Starve

Young gifted and black, Manchester City and England striker Raheem Sterling is a top athlete. But for some reason, he gets singled out for attack. In today’s diatribe, the Mail watches Sterling eat and finds reason to be upset by it. The story is headlined: “Raheem Sterling treats himself to a spot of breakfast after missing out on being crowned Young Player of the Year the night before at PFA awards.” Sterling came third in the poll, losing out to his Man City teammate, the German tyro Leroy Sane.

 

raheem sterling PFA daily mail

 

We don’t get to se what car Sane drove to breakfast the next day, but we are told about Sterling who “was seen in his £120,000 Mercedes G Waggon in Alderley Edge, Cheshire”. Seen? Driving his own “pimped out” car. The car is black and boxy.

The story seems to have been altered to make it look only slightly less weird. It looks like it originally ran:

Raheem Sterling treats himself to a spot of breakfast despite missing out on being crowned Young Player of the Year the night before at PFA awards.

He ate despite losing an award? He really is shameless and lacking in human decency.

And some background on the Mail’s target: “Sterling was born in,Jamaica. At the age of five he emigrated to London with his mother. His dad was murdered in Jamaica when Sterling was nine years old. At age 11, he joined QPR’s Centre of Excellence. And all was good and plucky until he stated to earn money and we were invited to dislike him because of it…

Follow us: @MailOnline on Twitter | DailyMail on Facebook

Previously.

 

Posted: 24th, April 2018 | In: Manchester City, Sports | Comment


Fail: Former Chelsea player Marko Marin dives to get referee sent off

Hero of the week is former Chelsea player Marko Marin, who during a bout of handbags in the absurd Greek Super League fell to the ground in comical fashion. Olympiacos are playing Apollon Smyrnis. Marin is the one who looks like Declan Donnelly:

Olympiakos lost the match 0-1, the goal coming in the game’s opening minute. Marin’s cunning plan seemed to be to get the referee to send himself off for an of-the-ball shove.

The outcome is that Olympiakos are 12 points behind league leaders AEK Athens with just two matches left to play. And Marin has big future in slapstick.

 

Spotter: Pies

Posted: 24th, April 2018 | In: Sports | Comment


Arsenal: full transcript of Wenger’s first press conference since quitting

Following Arsenal’s 4-1 victory over West Ham in yesterday’s Premier League encounter at the Emirates, Arsene Wenger appeared before the media in his first press conference since announcing his departure from the club. Is he reluctant to leave the club he’s graced for 22 years? Why is he leaving now? And what next for the Frenchman? The mood at the Emirate was a mix of reserved respect and apathy for a manger who was once the world’s best and a decent team peppered with mediocrity and journeymen.

This is the full transcript of it:

The Fans Were Chanting “One Arsene Wenger”. Some wore shirts bearing his name. 

I’m happy when our fans are happy. I’m even ready to suffer to make them happy. If sometimes, they make me happy as well then I’m happy. I’ll take it. Every single decision I’ve made in my 22 years is for the good and the sake of Arsenal. Even when it was the wrong decision, my one priority was to do well for the club.

I tried to influence the club on the structural side, on the development of the individual players and of course the style of play and results. To combine the three is not always easy and I believe that I will leave a club that is in a very strong position on all fronts. My target was always to do that and I give an opportunity to the guy who comes in after me to do even better in the next 20 years. That’s my wish.

Will He Pick His Successor?

No. It’s not my decision. I always feel that the most important thing in a football club is that everybody does his job. My job is to take care of the team, of the results and of the finances in the transfers. That’s what I did. My job is not to select the next manager.

 

wenger out stupid headlines

Not what he said at all

 

Why Is He Leaving Now?

I made a statement. That is basically all in it. Overall, I don’t think it’s the moment to come out on that. I would like to focus, to keep the priorities right until the end of the season and focus on how well I can do until the end. I will speak about that a bit later in my life.

It’s Been Emotional?

No, not really. It’s a mixed feeling. First of all I must say that I’m touched by all the praise I’ve got from all English football and I’m grateful for having that experience in this country. That for me is very special. The football is special, the passion is special and you’ll find that nowhere else. I know that I will not get that anymore in my life.

Of course that is absolutely special and the fact that I could see the development of the Premier League in 20 years is sensational. I hope that will last a very long time. After that I had the feeling a little bit [like this was similar to] my funeral because people speak about you and how you were, so it was little bit interesting on that front. I don’t need to die anymore because I know what it’s like! That is quite interesting but I must say, apart from a little sense of humour, I would like to thank everybody who has been nice to me. It’s our job because I certainly got more praise than I deserved and maybe sometimes more criticism than I deserved. It has been difficult but also fantastic.

 

wenger out stupid headlines

Nope – not what he said

 

When Did Wenger Decide To Leave?

It’s not the moment to talk about that.

Why Is Wenger Not seeing out The Final Year of His Current Contract?

I just told you a few minutes ago that I would talk about that one day but it’s not the right moment.

Will He Manage England?

If you’re speaking about emotions, that certainly would be for me emotionally difficult. I don’t know how well I will live without that so at the moment its difficult for me to say never. But at the minute I speak to you, I’m too attached to this club to say I would go anywhere else. It’s too difficult for me.

 

wenger out stupid headlines

Another ‘stupid’ headline

 

Has It Sunk In?

I will never completely leave this club, because my first look will always be for Arsenal and how well the club develops. I will always be attached, but it’s difficult. You do not give 22 years of your life like that. I gave the best years of my life to this club. I arrived at 46 years old and I worked seven days a week – not six or six and a half. Seven for 22 years! You cannot just walk away and say thank you very much and bye bye, it is absolutely normal. You cannot be on one side completely committed and after walk away like nothing happened – it’s impossible. I know I will face that challenge and that it will be difficult for me. But I had other difficulties in my life and I hope that I will get through this one as well.

Has His Leaving Galvanised The Club?

I don’t know. The club needs to prepare for the future and the earlier and more settled it is, the better. You cannot come in on 1 June and say look we separate now and do what you want.

Will He Carry On?

Maybe – I don’t know. It’s new for me. With Sir Alex Ferguson it was different, I agree with you. He’s still at the club though, he stayed at Manchester United.

Will He Hang Up his Big Coat And Stop Coaching?

Honestly, I can’t tell you much because I don’t want you to come back to me in six months and say that you lied to us. I know I did that a few times, but I would like to be definite today. I don’t know how I’ll respond to that situation.

What Arsenal Need From The Next Boss?

Look, you take me and take a guy who’s much stronger in every strong point that I have!

Is He Relived To Be Going?

No, because I was not tired, but I personally feel that this club is respect all over the world, much more than in England. Our fans did not give the image of unity I want at the club all over the world and that was hurtful. I feel the club is respected and overall the image we gave from our club is not what it is and not what I like.

The Europa League?

We will try you know, we play against Atletico Madrid and it is very open. Hopefully we can continue to have positives results until the end and then we will see where we go from there.

Did ‘Wenger Out’ Signs Hurt Him?

I have nothing more to say. I feel this club has a fantastic image and for me that is absolutely vital.

We can speak and speak and speak, sport is about winning and losing and you have to accept that you can lose games but it is about something bigger than winning and losing. For me that was always a worry, how the club is perceived worldwide for kids who play in Africa, in China, in America and the dream it can create for young children who want to play football and all of our clubs have a responsibility in that.

Did Anti-Wenger Fans Hurt The Club?

I’m not resentful and I do not want to make stupid headlines. I’m not resentful with the fans, I just feel if my personality is in the way of what I think our club is, for me that is more important than me. That is what I want to say, it is nothing to do with the fans, the fans were not happy I can understand that, that is my job and I have to live with that, I can accept that. I don’t know if it was damaging but it was not corresponding with what I really feel our club is perceived and has to be perceived all over the world. I travel a lot and this club is respected all over the world and that is down to work and as well to the way we play football, the way we behave and the way we treat people. I want that to go on and to be respected and give the image I think is right. There is a lot of money in the game but above that is more than money, more than results, it is the way a club is perceived and the example a club gives all over the world.

He’ll tell us more about his departure later – you know, when his book comes out.

Posted: 23rd, April 2018 | In: Arsenal, News, Sports, Tabloids | Comment


Pray for broken Arsenal ‘star’ Mohamed Elneny

So how was Arsenal’s “star” player Mohamed Elneny injured playing against West Ham?

The Express: “Elneny crumpled to the floor after a challenge from Mark Noble, and caused a lengthy delay as he received treatment…. The Egyptian star was visibly devastated by the incident which could have put his World Cup participation under threat.”

Bad foul, then? And he’s out for weeks?

The Sun: “Arsenal ace Mohamed Elneny in tears on stretcher with ankle in brace and fears World Cup hopes could be dashed.” It’s the Egyptian’s “Injury El”. It “appeared to be a freak injury in a challenge for a high ball with Mark Noble”.

A freak injury! Will he walk again? “There was no word whether Elneny had broken any bones. Although he will need to go for scans on his ankle ligaments and an A-Ray to confirm there are not any broken limbs.”

He’s broken his leg? His arm? His arms and legs?

No.

“It’s an ankle problem that is very painful,” said Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger after the game. “Overall I believe that we have to wait until the X-ray to know a little more about it. But Thursday will be too soon for him.”

Why mention broken limbs?

And now for an update on Jack Wilshere, Mesut Ozil and Henrikh Mkhitaryan ahead of Thursday’s Europa League match at the Emirates.

“Jack had a training session today and he looked positive so he has a good chance to be available for Thursday. Ozil was sickness so I cannot tell you much more about that. We will have to see how he recovers tomorrow. But Mkhitaryan won’t be available on Thursday.”

That would be the Mkhitaryan who is now back in training and of whom the papers said two weeks ago: “Henrikh Mkhitaryan could miss rest of Arsenal season with knee injury” (Daily Telegraph) and “Arsenal star Henrikh Mkhitaryan could miss rest of the season after fears of knee ligament damage” (Daily Mirror).

Anyone else thing Ozil and Wilshere are just being rested for the game with Atletico Madrid, Mkhitaryan is not being rushed back so that he can play in the second leg in Spain and – well, Elneny – pray for him. Sky says he “rolled his ankle”.

They shoot horses…

Posted: 22nd, April 2018 | In: Arsenal, News, Sports, Tabloids | Comment