Anorak

Back pages | Anorak - Part 12

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Premier League news. Stories from the newspapers and BBC sport – sports news from tabloids Daily Mail, Daily Express, Daily Star, the Guardian, Daily Mirror, the times, daily telegraph

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.

Adding:

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


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


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)


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)


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


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


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


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


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.

Stoke:

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.

 

 

Stoke:

 

Posted: 16th, December 2017 | In: Back pages, News, Sports | Comment


Indian bookmakers offer to fix The Ashes and offer odds on Pope wearing funny hat

After two matches played, England’s cricketers are two down in The Ashes best of five series. You might think the results so far were down to a combination of poor England performances and a superior Australian team. But you’d be wrong. Maybe. The Sun leads with news that bookmakers have been plotting to fix the games.

The paper says it’s been handed a “bombshell dossier to the International Cricket Council which details attempts to fix” the Third Test.

 

fix ashes the sun

 

Would it be possible to fix a Test without anyone realising? You could argue that an England victory would be so shocking that no-one would notice peculiar betting patterns. We’d be too busy head-butting one another, dousing themselves in beer and arranging time off work to watch the victory bus on its way to Downing Street. And if Australia win, well, plus ca change.

The Sun shines a light on two men. Sobers Joban and Priyank Saxena allegedly asked for up to £140,000 to “spot fix” markets, such as the exact amount of runs scored in an over. It’s alleged that when a cheating player gives a secret signal – a fielder moves to a certain position; bowling a first-ball wide; wearing a long-sleeve top; tugging his ear; tugging the umpire’s ear; etc. – a network of bookmakers gamble “millions” on the sure thing. We also hear of India’s ‘Mr Big’ and Australian cricket’s ‘The Silent Man’.

Who they? Dunno. So the Sun tells us a bit more about the people it did meet, who can allegedly reveal all for a not inconsiderable consideration. Around a photo of Joban dressed in cricket gear we read about his “lavish lifestyle”, house in the “swanky, diplomatic area of Delhi” and his engagement “to a Russian martial arts specialist”. Saxena “was described by his partner Sobers as a tobacco and spice tycoon with business interests in South Africa”.

They urged our investigators, who posed as financiers for underworld London bookies, to pour millions into a new Zimbabwean league where matches would be fixed.

Corruption. In Zimbabwe?! Say it ain’t true, Joe!

Joban allegedly told the paper:

“I will give you work in Ashes Test. Session runs. Maybe day one, two, three. We have two session work, one session costs 60 lakh rupees (£69,000), two sessions 120 lakh rupees (138,000).

“If you are interested Priyank will talk to the Silent Man. If you want to go with him alright, but you will not sit in meeting. I don’t know what he give, script or session.

“Right now if I tell you he want one crore (£116,000), he might want five crores (£580,000).”

Fast forward a few hours and the ICC is on the case. “We have now received all materials relating to The Sun investigation,” says Alex Marshall, the ICC general manager anti-corruption. “There is no indication that any players in this Test have been in contact with the alleged fixers.”

England captain Joe Root tells BBC Test Match Special: “It’s very sad that this has been written about. We’ve got to focus on this Test match and do everything we can to win it.”Australia captain Steve Smith adds: “As far as I know, there’s nothing that’s been going on or anything like that. There’s no place for that in our game.”

In other news: anyone who wants to know the result, can contact us on the usual address. For £850,000, we will tell them who is going to win The Ashes. But given that you’re our loyal readers, we’ll let you in on the secret: keep your eyes on Joe Root’s wicket. When the umpire raises his finger, it’s on!

 

Posted: 14th, December 2017 | In: Back pages, Money, News, Tabloids | Comment


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


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


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


Sunderland fan takes poo in the stands as Black Cats lose to Reading

How poor is your side performing? One Sunderland fan allegedly expressed his dissatisfaction with doings at the Stadium of Light by pulling down his trousers and laying a pipe. As the Black Cats toiled to a 3-1 loss to Reading, twitter users claims the man pulled down his pants and pooed on the seat, causing a fan sitting nearby vomit.

Reports abound that police took the site-down protestor away.

 

 

Stadium of shite:

Posted: 3rd, December 2017 | In: Back pages, News | Comment


Arsenal v Manchester United balls: Alexandre Lacazette’s miraculous recovery

The news was unequivocal: Arsenal forward Alexandre Lacazette is out with a groin injury.” He will not play against Manchester United. The BBC publishes that news below the teams for Arsenal v United. Lacazette is at number 9.

 

 

It was Arsene Wenger who said Lacazete will not play – that he’d be “out for a while”.

“He’s definitely out for [Manchester United] this weekend,” said Wenger on Novermber 29. “It looked like a groin injury. He could be out for a while.”

Well, look again.

 

The news of Lacazette’s injury pleased United.

“Alex has been great and at this moment and he is scoring goals and playing well for the team,” United’s Paul Pogba told MUTV. “He is a big player for them and if he is not there I would say it is good for us. I hope for us that he doesn’t play because that will help us. But I also hope he doesn’t have a bad injury.”

Such are the facts…

Posted: 2nd, December 2017 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, manchester united, Sports | Comment


Spurs balls: Mauricio Pochettino’s Brave New World falls apart

As Tottenham slip to 7th place in the Premier League, the Sun elbows its way to front of the queue to bash team manager Mauricio Pochettino. In “Chapter And Worse”, the paper wonders, “Is Posh book to blame for Spurs’ Real Shocker?” The answer is, of course, no.

In case you missed Pochettino’s book, Brave New World: Inside Pochettino’s Spurs “reveals secrets behind his success”. He reveals: he likes eating crisps; “Whenever I am slightly down, I like to smell Argentinian wine”; “Poch is very keen on building-up an unbreakable team, spirit”; “the ever-professional Poch…likes to quiz his stars on selected topics from their most recent team meeting if he bumps into them in the corridors… just to make sure they were listening”; and he “once dropped a player for eating LASAGNE”. All those killer facts are in the Sun’s review of the book in an article dated October 27.

One month on and, according to the Sun, the book that told of Poch’s “success” and his skill for building team spirit is the catalyst for disaster.

In the online version of the story of the cursed book, the Sun answers its own question with a ‘YES’:

The Spurs boss’ book, Brave New World, appears to have jinxed his title-chasing side since it reached shelves on October 26.

In the paper version (pages 56 and 57), the story begins by answering that same question with a ‘NO’:

It is surely coincidence that since the story of Mauricio Pochettino’s ‘Brave New World’ was published, Spurs’ title dream has died.’

Mark Irwin tells us that five games ago, Spurs were “Manchester City’s most likely challenges”. Fourteen matches into the season, Spurs are seventh. After nine matches played, Spurs were in third place, five points behind Manchester City. Manchester United were second, surely making them the side most likely to topple City.

Reading on we learn that the book “has not gone down well with certain players, who are uncomfortable with some of the manager’s revelations”. The crisps, right? Or was it how he likes to pick the washing powder for the team’s kit?

This is the same Pochettino who was subject to the Sun’s story of September 23 2017, which focused on his talent for team bonding:

MAURICIO POCHETTINO took his Tottenham stars and Daniel Levy out to dinner this week – at a cost of £7,000. The generous Spurs boss picked up the whopping tab after inviting FIFTY of his club colleagues, including chairman Levy, to his team-bonding get-together at posh West End diner Beast on Wednesday night.

Such are the facts.

Posted: 1st, December 2017 | In: Back pages, News, Sports, Spurs | Comment


Transfer balls: Ozil stays at Arsenal unless Manchester United make ‘unbelievable’ offer

At the Arsenal press conference, Arsene Wenger was asked about Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Ozil leaving the club in the January transfer window – both players are in the last year of their current contracts. On the official Arsenal website, his words are distilled into the headline: “Wenger – Ozil and Alexis will stay in January.”

Will Alexis and Mesut Ozil will be here on February 1?
AW: Yes, of course.

Will they be at the club next season?
AW: I am not the only one who can decide that. They have a part to play in that as well. If it’s my decision, yes.

Could he possible envisage them leaving in January?
AW: Unless something unbelievable happens, I can’t see why that would change.

Put that through the clickbait machine and you get:

The Metro: “Chelsea enter race to sign Mesut Ozil from Arsenal.” Not much of a race, considering he’s staying at least until the season’s end. And then this:

Arsene Wenger, meanwhile, sparked confusion over Ozil’s future this week by claiming that the midfielder will not be sold in January.

How did that trigger confusion? It was a clear statement. The utter tosh is amplified in the Manchester Evening News, which having tricked readers with a conniving Ozil to Manchester United story, now trills: “Manchester United told what it will take to sign Arsenal star Mesut Ozil.”

 

 

Did Wenger name a price? No. When pressed he said it would take something “unbelievable” for Ozil to be sold.

Such are the facts.

 

Posted: 29th, November 2017 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, Chelsea, manchester united, Sports | Comment


Trust Project balls: Arsenal and Manchester United fans tricked by MEN Ozil news

In the twilight zone between fact and fiction, sits football reporting. Today’s Manchester Evening News turns a simple story on Arsenal’s Mesut Ozil’s bout of the sniffles into “positive news” for Manchester United fans. Before we get to Samuel Luckhurst’s story, the headline:

Manchester United get Mesut Ozil boost from Arsenal

Rumours abound that Manchester United will move for the Arsenal star whose contract expires at the season’s end. Notions of pending transfer business is the meat to the story. That’s only reinforced by the teaser:

Mesut Ozil is interested in moving to Man Utd next year and Jose Mourinho has received some positive news from Arsenal.

 

the trust project

 

Can it be that Ozil is on his way to Old Trafford? Are Arsenal and United arranging things? Before reaching the story, we’re told that the MEN is part of the ‘Trust Project’. What’s that?

The Trust Project is an international consortium of news organizations collaborating to use transparency to build a more trustworthy and trusted press.

It’s clear, then. Ozil to Manchester United is on.

The story begins:

Mesut Ozil could be a doubt for Arsenal’s weekend Premier League fixture with Manchester United due to illness.

And… And nothing. The entire story is that Ozil was ill and couldn’t play for the Gunners at Burnley. He might be ill for when  Arsenal play United next weekend. Arsenal have offered no boost for any transfer. The ‘good news’ is that Ozil is ill.

So much for trust, eh.

Posted: 27th, November 2017 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, manchester united, News, Sports | Comment


Biased Balls: Burnley robbed by an easy Arsenal penalty

Biased Balls: a look at bias in football reporting. Today we look at Burnley’s 0-1 defeat at home to Arsenal in the Premier League. Burnley lost to Arsenal in injury-time for the third game in a row. This time it was penalty converted in the 93rd minute.

Was it a foul?

YES! 

The Sun: “For the third successive Premier League game, Arsenal have beaten Burnley thanks to a last minute goal. This time it was Sanchez with the winning goal from the penalty spot after Tarkowski had pushed Ramsey to the floor.”

BBC: “The spot-kick was awarded by referee Lee Mason after defender James Tarkowski pushed Aaron Ramsey.”

Arsenal FC: “The spot-kick was an easy one to give after James Tarkowski shoved Aaron Ramsey as Sead Kolasinac headed across goal. And Alexis was coolness personified with a low finish past goalkeeper Nick Pope.”

London Evening Standard: “A game with a history of late goals brought drama yet again as Tarkowski shoved Ramsey.”

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger: “From outside it [the penalty] looked 100%. I don’t know why he pushed him in the back. I would like to see it again.”

 

MAYBE…

 

arsenal burnley biased

 

Burnley Express:  “Arsenal penalty after Tarkowski is adjuded [sic] to have pushed Sanchez.”

The Guardian (from their ‘Manchester-based correspondent): “Burnley suffered heartbreak right at the end when James Tarkowski came together with Aaron Ramsey in the area and Lee Mason, the referee, gave a penalty.”

Burnley FC: “This was another tough call with the decision not looking black-and-white as Tarkowski was harshly punished.. Kolasinac’s headed ball into the penalty area was aimed for Ramsey and when he went down under pressure from Tarkowski, Mason pointed to the spot.”

Burnley manager Sean Dyche: “It was highly unlikely it [the penalty] wasn’t going to get given on a day like today, that’s all I’ll say.”

Such are the facts.

Such are the facts…

 

Posted: 26th, November 2017 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, Sports | Comment


Transfer balls: when will Liverpool sign Didier Baptiste?

Didier Baptiste liverpool

Dream Team

 

November 24 is the day when Liverpool moved to sign Didier Baptiste for £3.5million. It was an unforgettable moment of Transfer Balls on November 24 1999. The News of the World reported that Liverpool were looking to sign the “French Under-21 international” from Monaco.

Baptiste to Liverpool was on.  The Times and The Guardian agreed, albeit valuing Baptiste at £1million. But Gerard Houllier’s Liverpool would never get the young defender: He didn’t (and still doesn’t) exist.

Baptiste was a character played by the late Tom Redhill in the Sky One football soap opera ‘Dream Team’ who arrived at Harchester United from Monaco in 1999.

The aforementioned papers were all drawn into a hoax that began on an Arsenal fan forum and got rehashed on Liverpool’s Clubcall line (a premium rate phone number supporters could ring to listen to the latest club-related gossip), from whence the News of the World plucked the ‘story’ and ran with it.

The News of the World duly blamed the Hayters sports news agency for feeding them the rumour, though the damage had already been done.

As Chris Wright quips: “The tabloid was ultimately forced to cease publication in 2011, though whether the Baptiste cock-up was directly to blame is still subject to debate.”

Posted: 25th, November 2017 | In: Back pages, Liverpool, News, Sports, Tabloids | Comment


Arsenal Transfer Balls: Ozil agrees Barcelona deal by Messi wants Liverpool’s Coutinho

Cancel that one-way ticket to Barcelona, Mesut Ozil. It turn out that Barcelona don’t want the Arsenal forward after all. It was only yesterday the paper were saying how Ozil was dreaming of playing for Barcelona and a £20m move in the January transfer window was on the cards. Now we’re told by the BBC that Barcelona’s mighty Lionel Messi has scuppered any moves for Ozil, 29.

The source for this story is Diario Gol, which thunders: “The Argentine star does not want to know anything about the German.” The story contains not a single quote from Messi. We put it through Google Translate:

Leo Messi…has already told Bartomeu and Ernesto Valverde that he does not want it. He considers that he is a very old player – Mesut is 29 years old – and that, in the event that Coutinho does not come now in January, it is better to put up with the put and go for a crack in June…

In addition, one of the things that has characterized the athletic career of the Arsenal player is his lack of regularity. During his time at Real Madrid , Mesut combined great performances with games in which he could not be seen. Just as it is happening in the English club, where he only drops a pearl from time to time but can not get the reins of the team.

So the move is off. No. Today’s Metro says Ozil has agreed to joined Barcelona.

 

 

The Metro cites “reports in Spain” as its source, but declines to mention which they are. The Express carries the same report, but does link to a source, stating: “And Catalan reporter Quique Guasch told Spanish outlet Catalunya Radio that Ozil had agreed a three-and-a-half year contract and is expected to cost around £17.8million.” How they know, no-one’s saying.

And then there’s the Mail, which says no agreement has been reached, and, as the headline tells it, Ozil wants a lot of money: “Arsenal star Mesut Ozil demands Barcelona offer him £330,000-a-week deal amid January interest.” That report is rooted in Spanish site AS, which says: “In addition to the astronomical salary, Özil will ask for a succulent signing bonus.” It also notes that Arsenal want “Leon Goretzka, an allcampists of Schalke 04”.

Such are the facts.

Posted: 23rd, November 2017 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, Liverpool, Sports | Comment


Transfer balls: Barcelona and Manchester United are desperate for Ozil but Arsenal want him to stay

Transfer Balls: Having secured a new talent spotter in the shape of Sven Mislinat from Borussia Dortmund – he helped the Germans recruit Robert Lewandowski, Shinji Kagawa, Ousmane Dembele and their want-away striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (any Gooners think he’s heading to the Emirates?) – news is of players leaving the club. And chief among them is Mesut Ozil.

The Sun says Ozil “is keen on joining Barcelona”. Arsenal are apparently eager to get £20m for the 29-year-old this January. The Manchester Evening News says “Ozil is keen on a move” to Old Trafford for £17.7m. The London Evening Standard says “Arsenal players expect Mesut Ozil and Alexis Sanchez to stay”.

Much blather, then. But one story has roots: the Sun’s story is sourced in a report in Mundo Deportivo – the sports newspaper published in…Barcelona. Just as the Manchester-based paper knows Ozil wants to play for Manchester United, the Barcelona based newspaper knows he wants to play in Barcelona. As for the London-based Standard, well, it’s balls is based on the opinion of Nacho Monreal, who told a rival organ, “I can’t say much about it. It does not depend on me… If the club want them to stay beyond December [the January transfer window] they will follow. Yet, I do not know the club’s intentions.”

Let’s put the not-in-the-least-bit-biased Deportivo story through Google Translate and see what we learn:

Dr. Erkut Sogut , who represents Mesut Özil , has negotiations with Barça . The agent has confessed to the Barça club the tremendous interest of his represented in playing at the Camp Nou, but he has also made it clear that there are six sets more interested in the German international of Turkish origin.

Ozil played for Barcelona’s dread rivals Real Madrid.

In addition to the offer to Özil , they want to know what they will do to Arsenal , their current club. And, above all, the time of the duration of the contract, which would want it to be at least the rest of the season and two more years. The club would want that third season was negotiated between the two parties, taking into account the age of the German, 29 years.

Not exactly chomping at the bit, then.

The advantage of Barça is that Özil has the thorn in the “no” of Pep Guardiola in 2010 and wants to show that he has a place in the Catalan team. He really likes the way Barça played since he was at Werder Bremen .

The advantage? In Ozil’s Die Magie des Spiels, he states:

“Arsenal were interested in signing me after the 2010 World Cup, as were Manchester United, Bayern Munich, Barcelona and Real Madrid. My agent sat down with Bayern to discuss a move. The club told him about their plans with me and how they intended to use me. He had similar talks with the other clubs that wanted me.

“Before I travelled to Barcelona, I was convinced that was my next club. I was leaning toward joining Barcelona. There was no team in the world that played more beautiful football. But Guardiola did not attend talks and he did not call me either the days after. He did not even send me a text. He did not show me that he wanted to sign me as well. My interest in a move to Barcelona quickly decreased.”

Got that? Barcelona’s “advantage” is that they ignored him. Undaunted by fact, the paper continues:

In addition, Özil believes that if he signs for Barça , playing alongside Lionel Messi , he could hope to win, for the first time, the Champions League .

If he wants to win that, his agent should court PSG.

The Arsenal has given the ‘OK’ to Erkut Sogut that Özil can march on the January market to earn some money, which would not happen at the end of the season to be free. They have the direct permission of Arsène Wenger .

Wenger said he can go? No quote to back that up. But Wenger did says last month: “I cannot tell you what is in his mind. I genuinely think he wants to stay. But I am always positive about that.”

Such are the facts.

Posted: 22nd, November 2017 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, News, Sports | Comment


Arsenal balls: after Mugabe Zimbabwe Gooners demand ‘Wenger Out’

As Robert Mugabe is toppled, protesters in the depot’s native Zimbabwe turn to the next great dictator: Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger.

 

wenger arsenal mugabe

 

Lest we forget:

 

 

“I used to live in Zimbabwe and I’ve watched Robert Mugabe ruin the country, and Wenger is doing the same. He’s the Mugabe of Arsenal.”

 

Seems fair.

Posted: 19th, November 2017 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, Money, News, Politicians, Sports | Comment


North London Derby bias: slick Arsenal get lucky, Spurs bemoan the referee and Ozil looks ready to stay

Arsenal 2. Tottenham Hotspur 0. The Premier League match between North London’s biggest football clubs ended in favour of the Gunners, who were feisty, bright, quick, slick and aggressive throughout. The BBC says Arsenal secured a “comfortable north London derby victory”.

As ever, though, the game hinged on moments of controversy. Spurs manager Mauricio Pochettino says, “The free-kick for the first goal and the first goal was obvious offside, maybe the second was too.”

Is he right? What say the clubs respective websites?

Spurs: “Davinson Sanchez looked harshly judged to have fouled Alexis Sanchez on the left, Ozil curled in the free-kick and Mustafi rose highest to plant a header home off the far post, opening the scoring.”

No word on any offside, let alone an “obvious” one. But some comment on the foul that gave Arsenal the chance to launch a set piece. The Spurs report is remarkably even-handed.

Arsenal: “We kept knocking on the door though and eventually we made the breakthrough, Ozil curling in a free kick that Mustafi headed across goal and in via the far post.”

No word on the foul that led to the free kick at all. And, again, no word on any offside.

The neutral view is provided by the Times:

Tottenham’s anger was that Mustafi, by a tiny margin, seemed offside when Ozil delivered and that free kick had been awarded dubiously when Alexis Sanchez sprawled as Davinson Sanchez nicked the ball away from him: a clean tackle but Dean judged the Spurs man had tugged his namesake’s jersey before sliding in.

The Arsenal website is notable for one other item: Mesut Ozil is all over it. This is the homepage following that 2-0 win:

 

 

Followed by:

 

 

Ozil and more Ozil, runs the story. It seem pretty clear that Arsenal are at pains to make Ozil feel wanted. After the game, the German said he “really enjoyed” playing up front with Sanchez and Alexandre Lacazette. “We have good quality and they are both very dangerous,” said Ozil. “Today Alexis showed his quality and I am really happy for him.”

Sanchez was a whir of buzz an brilliance. But surely Arsenal cannot hang on to the Chilean. Manchester City want him. And they have money to burn. But Ozil… Well, signs are that he will stay.

Arsene Wenger gave fans the chance to salute the German by substituting him in the 84 minute. The fans stood and cheered. Oil felt the love. Like Alexis Sanchez, Arsenal’s other stand-out performer on the day, Ozil is entering the final six months of his contract. He is free to talk to foreign clubs from January onwards. Arsenal clearly want him to stay. And Ozil seems happy with his lot.

Posted: 18th, November 2017 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, Sports, Spurs | Comment


Arsenal Balls: Wilshere signs new deal and heads to Spain in Sun clickbait tie-in

Transfer balls: Jack Wilshere, once the saviour of English football, is making his way back to the fore after a trying time with injuries. Having clawed his way back to the Arsenal bench, Wilshere is now being tipped to get his reward: a career at Real Betis.

Well, so says the BBC, which reasons that once Wilshere’s Arsenal contract expires in the summer, Betis are “confident” they will get their man and make him part of Spain’s eighth best side.

Over in the Sun, the story is given added oomph: “BET ON IT Arsenal news: Jack Wilshere set to leave the Emirates as Real Betis ‘believe they are close’ to signing England midfielder on a free.”

Only a loon would bet on Wishere heading to Real Betis. He wants to remain at Arsenal, and the Gunners are pretty keen on keeping him. The Sun’s “exclusive” looks a lot like an advertorial for its betting operation, SunBets. The paper’s scoop comes wrapped around two large calls for readers to sign up to SunBets .

It’s all utter balls. But in the race for clicks, where one news source leads, the other dutifully follow.

 

transfer balls arsenal

 

The Mirror and Mail both cite the Sun, which has no quotes and facts to support its story. At which point the story takes on a life of its own, with ESPN saying a deal is all but done (taking care to namecheck two big clubs for SEO purposes) – “Jack Wilshere set to spurn Premier League giants Chelsea and Manchester City for Real Betis” – and 90mins.com reading the player’s mind: “Arsenal’s Jack Wilshere Could be Interested in Joining Real Betis.”

But hold the bet! The Sun has more news:

 

Arsenal Wilshere the sun

 

Best save your money.

 

 

Posted: 16th, November 2017 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, News, Sports, Tabloids | Comment