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Transfer Balls: Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang stays at Arsenal, leaves for £30m and Chelsea swap him for Willian

No football, but no end of transfer balls as the BBC tells us that Arsenal “will sell Gabon striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, 30, for £30m”. The team captain who scores around half of all Arsenal goals will be sold because next September he enters the final year of his current deal. The Sun agrees that £30m will get your club one of the world’s best strikers. Says the paper:

ARSENAL are looking to sell Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang for just £30million. Mikel Arteta is desperate not to lose his 20-goal top scorer for nothing next year.

Logic be damned. Arsenal manager Arteta wants Aubameyang to stay so will sell him. We’re also told Arsenal will swap Aubameyang for Chelsea’s Willian. “Arteta is facing a major issue to overhaul his squad — and with a severely restricted transfer budget,” says the paper. But the Sun told us Arsenal are lining up a £45m bid for Thomas Partey.

Partey arsenal

Maybe the Daily Express can shed some light on the facts? The paper’s headline screams: “Aubameyang ready to sign new Arsenal contract despite Man Utd, Chelsea transfer proposals.”

Aubameyang

Such are the facts.

Posted: 29th, April 2020 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, Chelsea, Sports | Comment


Liverpool finish first but don’t win Premier League title; Leicester, Chelsea, Manchester City and Manchester United qualify for Champions League; Wolves, Sheffield United and Arsenal get Europa League

The Dutch have cancelled their domestic football season. And it’s bad news for Liverpool and very good news for Norwich and other teams facing relegation from the Premier League. There will no champion of the Eredivisie, the Netherlands’ top league. There will be no relegations. One option was to take an average of points scored so far and add them to games still to play. But that would have made no difference to the teams qualifying for the Champions League and Europa league, respectively. In the Premier League, it would – and it means Arsenal (currently in 9th spot) qualifying for the Europa League ahead of Spurs (8th).

Manchester City’s (2nd) ban from the European competition means Manchester United (5th) take their place in the Champions League, where they will be in the mix with Leicester City (3rd) and Chelsea (4th).

It is the most likely scenario. Already all football in England below the three divisions that make up the National League has ended and all results expunged.

It’s time for the upper tiers to follow suit and present a clear path ahead. The Dutch have set the agenda – and it’s the right one.

Posted: 24th, April 2020 | In: Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester City, manchester united, News, Sports, Spurs | Comment


Arsenal boss Arteta survives Coronavirus virus and has a Partey for £45m; Chelsea and Spurs resume Willian fight

Good news for Arsenal fans. Firstly, the Premier League looks like being cancelled. Having grossly underachieved this season under the likeable but hapless Unai Emery. Secondly, new manager Mikel Arteta says he’s “feeling better already” after contracting Coronavirus. And lastly, Arsenal are preparing to invest £45m for Atletico Madrid’s Thomas Partey, 26. The Gunners will also try to nab Chelsea forward Willian. Spurs also want him. In 2013, the Brazilian looked set for Spurs until Chslea hijacked the deal. This is hiw the Guarfdian repor6ted gthe move:

José Mourinho made little attempt to hide his delight at hijacking Tottenham Hotspur’s move for Willian as the north London club raged behind the scenes about Chelsea’s £32m capture of the Anzhi Makhachkala forward representing a vendetta against them…

Mourinho’s gloating will have done little to soothe Tottenham’s anger. Rather than apologise for disrupting their plans, he revelled in snatching Willian from under their noses. He was initially vague, simply saying that he believed that the player had made his decision but when he was asked if that meant that Willian had chosen Chelsea, he made no effort to keep up the pretence. Instead he laughed and nodded…

“The best thing you can do is do the medical in secret” [said Mourinho].

The former Real Madrid manager was unable to resist one last dig at Tottenham. Asked whether he expected the deal to be completed without any complications, a mischievous grin spread across his face. “We have to do a medical,” he said.

Jose Mourinho is now manager at Spurs.

Posted: 13th, March 2020 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, Chelsea, Sports, Spurs | Comment


Transfer balls: New Chelsea signing dreams of playing for Arsenal and picked Bayern Munich over Liverpool

“Well, I have two clubs. They are Arsenal and Barcelona. That is my ultimate dream.” So said Hakim Ziyech, the Ajax wing whose just agreed to join Chelsea for (£33.3m).

That’s not to say Ziyech won’t one day live his dream – nor is it to suggest that reporting on the Moroccan players is of any use. Here are some other things we’ve read about Ziyech in the trusty media:

“Ajax playmaker Hakim Ziyech has an agreement to leave the club this summer amid links to Everton and Liverpool” – HITC.com, 2018

“Liverpool boosted following Hakim Ziyech transfer revelation – Liverpool target Hakim Ziyech has agreed to leave Ajax for an unnamed club” – The Metro, July 2018

“Hakim Ziyech Agrees Personal Terms With Bayern Munich” – 90minutes.com, May 2019

“Ajax sensation Hakim Ziyech available for £25m as Moroccan star reveals move to Arsenal is his ‘ultimate dream’ so he can link up with idol Mesut Ozil” – Daily Mail, May 2019

“Ajax confirm Hakim Ziyech to leave” – May 2019, The Official Liverpool FC website

“Ajax boss confirms Roma will sign Hakim Ziyech” – Calciomercato.com, June 2019, –

“Hakim Ziyech Signs Ajax Contract Extension Amid Bayern Munich Transfer Rumours” – Bleacher Report, August 2019

February 2020 – Hakim Ziyech signs for Chelsea. Such are the facts.

Posted: 13th, February 2020 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, Chelsea, Liverpool, Sports, Tabloids | Comment


Spurs balls: OEDS recasts Gooners and all Jewish football fans as ‘Yids’

kids spurs

A ‘Yid’ is a “supporter or player for Tottenham Hotspur” says the Oxford English Dictionary (OED). That’s tough luck on Jews who support other clubs or don’t support football at all. We’re all ‘Yids’ now.

Spurs fans can call themselves what they like. They can sing what they want to. But for the rest of us Jews, it’s a bit odd, especially for us nice yiddisher Gooners. “Fee, fi, fo fun,” oozed the Chelsea fans in my ear once upon a time, “I smell Yiddish scum.” Now I understand the OED afficianado thought I was a Spurs fan – yeah, at the Chelsea v Arsenal game. What are the odds?

The OED, says ‘Yid’ or ‘Yiddo’ can refer to “a supporter of or player for Tottenham Hotspur football club (traditionally associated with the Jewish community in north and east London).” The words are “originally and frequently derogatory and offensive, though also often as a self-designation.”

kids spurs

Spurs, aka ‘The Yids’, tell the Guardian: “As a club we have never accommodated the use of the Y-word on any club channels or in club stores and have always been clear that our fans (both Jewish and gentile) have never used the term with any intent to cause offence. We find the Oxford English Dictionary’s definition of the word misleading given it fails to distinguish context, and welcome their clarification.”

Gooners regret the error. Non Spurs-supporting Jews await the hail, ‘Oi, Yid!’ – followed by the soon-be-routine explainer, ‘Sorry mate, thought you were a Spurs fan.”

Posted: 13th, February 2020 | In: Arsenal, Chelsea, News, Sports, Spurs | Comment


Chelsea Transfer balls: a BBC masterclass in bullshit.com

Signs the BBC’s football ‘Gossip’ page writer has had enough of working at bullshit.com. Today’s rumour mill dust is an exercise in ‘question asked / question answered’.

In other words: nothing happened. There is no news.

Posted: 31st, January 2020 | In: Chelsea, Sports | Comment


Transfer Balls: Edinson Cavani agree Atletico and Inter Milan deals but wants Manchester City amid Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool, Spurs and Manchester United interest

cavani

Manchester United and Spurs fans excited by news that injury-prone, 33-year-old Edinson Cavani is thinking go leaving Paris St Germain before his contract runs out in the summer can know that he’s already signed for any number of clubs over the past few seasons. According to media, the striker has agreed to join or has been linked with the following:

Atletico Madrid – Cavani agree three-year deal – Daily Mail, December 2019 (also Daily Star, 90 Minutes)

Inter Milan – Cavani agrees three-year-deal – Sports Mole, August 2019

Chelsea – “Edinson Cavani to Chelsea latest” – Football London, January 19, 2020

Arsenal & Manchester United – “Arsenal and Man Utd submit offers to sign Edinson Cavani” – The Metro, January 2020

Barcelona – “Barcelona are looking at the free agent market with PSG’s Edinson Cavani joining Chelsea, Manchester City and Tottenham players on their transfer radar” – Daily Express, December 2019

Juventus – “GLASS OF CAVA Cavani lined up for stunning Juventus free” – The Sun, October 2019

Manchester City – “PSG star Edinson Cavani wants to join Manchester City” – Daily Mail, October 2017

Manchester United, Juventus, Real Madrid – “Edinson Cavani may join Manchester United, Juventus or Real Madrid as PSG give up on him” – Daily Mail, February 2016

Such are the facts…

Posted: 17th, January 2020 | In: Arsenal, Chelsea, Manchester City, manchester united, Sports, Spurs, Tabloids | Comment


Transfer Balls: Jadon Sancho ‘joins’ Liverpool, ‘likely’ to join Manchester United and some stuff about Chelsea

The Mirror tells readers that Manchester United are “confident” of signing Borussia Dortmund’s England winger Jadon Sancho, 19, this coming January. Number of facts to support this story: none.

Indeed, the Sun says Sancho is “more likely” to join Liverpool. Number of facts to support the news: none. “Jadon Sancho ‘more likely to join Liverpool’ than transfer rivals Man Utd and Chelsea,” says the Sun. Who says the words “more likely”? Er, the Sun.

talkSport muses: “Jadon Sancho to Chelsea?” It doesn’t know. It has no idea. But the broadcaster’s man in the don’t-know will bash out a few words on maybe and maybe not. So maybe Chelsea.

“Jadon Sancho makes Liverpool and Man Utd transfer decision,” says the Express. He does? No. But if he has done, no-one’s telling. Utter tosh.

But hold on a moment. The Liverpool Echo has a scoop. It says Sancho joined them in January – next January! “This is what happened when we ‘signed’ Jadon Sancho for Liverpool in January,” reports the paper. And readers get to read about a football game that guesses about stuff – much like the Press.

Posted: 13th, December 2019 | In: Chelsea, Liverpool, manchester united, Sports | Comment


David Luiz joins Arsenal for £8m

Arsenal have signed David Luiz from Chelsea on a two-year deal for £8m. The 32-year-old Brazil centre-back will be at Emirates for medical today.

This is great move for the Gunners. But why would Chelsea, a club banned from signing players until the end of January 2020, sell one of their most consistent performers to a rival?

Chelsea’s centre-backs now include Germany’s Antonio Rudiger, Kurt Zouma and Denmark’s Andreas Christensen. Feeling confident, Blues fans?

Posted: 8th, August 2019 | In: Arsenal, Chelsea, Sports | Comment


London Tube hero defeats moronic Chelsea fan – video

Who is the hero who helped the moronic Chelsea fan leave the Tube train? And what is it with Chelsea fans and behaving badly on trains?

Chelsea moron Tube

Posted: 29th, July 2019 | In: Chelsea, Key Posts, News, Sports | Comment


Transfer balls: Chelsea may not outbid Everton for Arsenal fan Zaha

ZAha to Chelsea
One newspaper’s rumour is the other newspapers’ fact

Chelsea are “plotting” to invest £60m in Wilfred Zaha. Arsenal and Everton have been quoted £80m for the Crystal Palace player. But the Sun says so long as Zaha is prepared to wait a year, once their transfer ban is spent they will offer £60m for him next summer. As “plots” go that ones replete with all the cunning of Jeremy Corbyn’s prized marrow.

The Telegraph adds: “Exclusive: Everton want Wilfried Zaha and are willing to pay £60m plus Cenk Tosun but fear missing out to Chelsea.” Not a word on missing out to Arsenal, the club Zaha wants to play for now. The story is utter bunkum. Get this: “With Arsenal currently struggling to come up with the funds to match Palace’s £80m valuation, Chelsea may see an opportunity to offer a deal that could suit all parties.” Or they may not.

Posted: 26th, July 2019 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, Chelsea, Sports | Comment


Transfer balls: Malcom to Arsenal (again), Pepe to Everton and Newcastle to Championship

A year or so ago, Arsenal, Manchester United, Spurs and Fulham were competing hard to invest £45m in Malcom, a raw Brazilian winger playing for Bordeaux. Roma were “on the verge of signing” him (BBC). And then he joined Barcelona for £36.5m. One year on and the talent is not wanted by the Spaniards and worth £31m, the sum Everton have bid.

Barcelona want to resign Neymar. They need to offload Malcom because regulations in Spain mean that each team is only allowed to register three non-EU players. Barcelona have Arturo Vidal, Arthur and Malcom. Neymar makes four.

Apparently Arsenal now want Malcom to wait and see if Louis Zaha hands in a transfer request at Crystal Palace. Or if Palace accept Arsenal’s new offer of £40m plus Calum Chambers, Mohamed Elneny and Carl Jenkinson. How flattered Malcolm must be to know that his future rests on Jenkinson’s slim shoulders.

Everton fans can just to see if an Arsenal reject will join them for a big transfer fee – and if he’s joined by former Chelsea irritant Diego Costa, now stinking the place up at Atletico Madrid. Or Everton will spend £58.5m on Lille’s Nicolas Pepe, the 24-year-old Ivory Coast forward – unless Liverpool, who also want him, get there first.

As Everton fans wonder if their revolution is based more on cash than substance and Gooners try to work out where all the money has gone, all clubs can look down on Newcastle United. The Magpies have asked Sam Allardyce to mange them. And he’s turned them down. Your club might be struggling but at least it’s not Newcastle.

Posted: 11th, July 2019 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, Chelsea, Sports | Comment


Chelseaballs: Danny Drinkwater is alive and fighting nominative determinism

Occasional Chelsea footballer Danny Drinkwater, 29, has been charged with drink-driving after a car crash in Mere, Cheshire, in the early hours of Monday. Mr Drinkwater, 29, who lives in that county, will appear at Stockport Magistrates’ Court on 13 May.

Mr Drinkwater is not a product of nominative determinism, the notion that a person’s name can shape their density. He might be the product of nomininative rejectionism or nominative denialism. What’s in a surname? And should Drinkwater change his to something more fitting, like Berk?

Posted: 9th, April 2019 | In: Chelsea, Sports | Comment


Media bias: what the websites said about Chelsea beating Cardiff

In today’s Premier League match between Cardiff City and Chelsea, the visitors equalised with a goal that was two yards offside. It should not have stood. But if you read the official Chelsea website, you get only the merest hint of controversy:

With time running out Hazard and Alonso exchanged passes and the former’s cross was cleared by the omnipresent Morrison. From the resulting corner, Willian’s delivery was flicked on by Alonso and Azpilicueta nodded in. The offside flag was not raised and we were level. There were six minutes to go.

The passivity of being offside if you’re a Chelsea fans can be contrasted with the report on the Cardiff City website:

César Azpilicueta, clearly in an offside position, diverted the ball beyond Neil Etheridge. Despite the appeals of the home support, the goal was given.

The BBC provides the impartial word: “With five minutes left, Cezar Azpilicueta nodded in an equaliser from a clearly offside position.”

What of the red card that wasn’t given?

Chelsea FC:

A long pass split our defence, and Rudiger and Cardiff sub Kenneth Zohore came together. After a lengthy delay the referee deemed it a foul and a yellow card offence. Again the home side were aghast.

Cardiff:

A further moment of controversy came three minutes later as substitute Ken Zohore ran clear on goal. Antonio Rüdiger pulled the Danish striker to the floor as he looked to beat Kepa to the ball and net for the Bluebirds – with the referee awarding a free kick and yellow card, despite Rüdiger being the last man in defence.

And Sky: “Antonio Rudiger was fortunate to escape a red card for hauling down Kenneth Zohore.”

Such are the facts.

Posted: 31st, March 2019 | In: Chelsea, Sports | Comment


Spurs Balls: FA sing ‘Harry Kane is one of our own’; England captain escapes ban for Chelsea headbutt

The FA will not ban England captain Harry Kane for sticking his head into the face of Chelsea skipper César Azpilicueta during Tottenham’s 2-0 defeat at Stamford Bridge. They won’t because Harry Kane is one of their own. The FA never was going to sully their clean-cut star. Anyone else would have been banned for one match.

Here’s another honest England footballer keeping his head. Jamie Vardy went down hard. Samir Nasri was red-carded. Azpilicueta did not sink to the floor clutching his face. Would Harry Kane have?

Posted: 28th, February 2019 | In: Chelsea, Sports, Spurs | Comment


Spurs Balls: Harry Kane’s Chelsea headbutt; banned for Arsenal match; it’s England captain Alan Shearer all over again

Kane headbutt Chelsea
His hair never moved an inch

Did Spurs and England captain Harry Kane attempt to headbutt Chelsea skipper Cesar Azpilicueta and miss in last night’s Premier League match? There’s a think layer of hair lacquer on Kane’s bonce making it near impossible for his head to get within an inch of anyone’s without causing an acute hair fracture. Kane played on unaffected. Injury averted.

Of course, Kane should have been sent off. But Azpilicueta did not make a meal of it, helping the match officials to ignore the England’s man’s blatant offence. But the FA should now take retrospective action against Kane and ban him for three matches. That would mean him missing the North London derby with Arsenal.

If the FA don’t act, well, it’ll be like Alan Shearar all over again. In 1998, England and Newcastle United skipper Alan Shearer appeared to kick Leicester City’s Neil Lennon in the face. “I have now seen the television pictures of the incident and I am amazed how bad it looks by comparison to what actually happened,” said Shearer. “I was brought down by Neil Lennon over by the touchline and we both fell clumsily. As I tried to get to my feet I had to really tug my left foot free and the momentum of doing this looked on television liked a kick. It certainly wasn’t and the fact that Neil is virtually unmarked confirms this. If I did accidentally catch him, I certainly did not mean to. I would never try and deliberately hurt a fellow professional.”

The FA agreed. The England captain had no case to answer. Shearer was free to play on – and play in the FA Cup final against Arsenal. Here’s that moment when Lennon headbutted Shearer’s boot:

Harry Kane is a saint. And England players never dive.

Posted: 28th, February 2019 | In: Chelsea, Key Posts, Sports, Spurs | Comment


Chelsea Balls: Sarri sacked by clickbait

Remember when the Daily Mirror told us Maurizio Sarri was to be sacked should Chelsea lose the Carabao Cup final to Manchester City. They lost. He’s sill in the job.

sarri sacked
Not SACKED

The Mirror has form with predictions – see here. Of course, the paper’s online version writes for SEO bots and Google. Unlike these knowing bots, mere human have short memories and won’t call the paper out for writing utter tosh.

And so it is that despite making a statement that turned out to be total balls, the paper ploughs on regardless. Since handing Sarri advance warning that his P45 was in the post on February 20, the Mirror has written much more on the Italian’s sacking.

“Alan Shearer on why Kepa Arrizabalaga could get Maurizio Sarri sacked by Chelsea” – Feb 25

“Who’s running this show? Who’s driving this bus? And who will get sacked when results don’t go as required?” – Feb 25

“Jamie Redknapp lists three Chelsea games that will get Maurizio Sarri sacked” – Feb 25

“Maurizio Sarri ‘to hold talks with Chelsea over his future’ after Kepa Arrizabalaga row” – Feb 26

Such are the facts.

Posted: 26th, February 2019 | In: Back pages, Chelsea, Key Posts, Sports, Tabloids | Comment


Chelsea: newspapers react to ‘anarchy’ at Stamford Bridge

Chelsea insist everything went to plan in the Carabao Cup final. Not scoring a goal. Losing on penalties. Goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga refusing to be substituted, causing his manager Maurizio Sarri to rent his tracksuit in anguish. All part of a perfectly executed plan, says the club.

Manchester City mocked Chelsea, loudly sighing on social media when Willy Caballero, their former ‘keeper who’s saved 41 per cent of the penalties he’s faced in his career, was blocked from taking part in the shoot-out.

But it was all part of the plan. The “players played exactly the game he [Sarri] prepared, so he is in full control of the situation’, says Chelsea.

The newspapers disagree, branding it a “mutiny” (Express), “Revolting” (Mirror) and “Anarchy” (Guardian). One thing all sports journalists can agree on: few of us can spell Kepa’s surname without looking it up.

Posted: 25th, February 2019 | In: Back pages, Chelsea, Sports | Comment


Chelsea say losing Carabao Cup final was a success; it all went to plan says Sarri; Manchester City praise Caballero

Taxi!

Watching Chelsea implode is giving genuine pleasure to millions of football fans. The club a Russian oligarch bought and then used to buy all the cups is facing a transfer ban for breaking FIFA rules. Chelsea is managed by an ex-banker who has never won anything. They are blessed with the world’s costliest goalkeeper, one Kepa Arrizabalaga, who in the Carabao Cup final, which Chelsea lost, refused to be substituted.

A club owned by a man who gets good press in Pravda responds on Twitter in the manner of the Russian State’s PR office. Chelsea tweets: “Maurizio Sarri says the Kepa substitution confusion was ‘a big misunderstanding‘ because he thought the player had cramp. However he says Kepa was right that he could continue although the way he went about it was wrong. Sarri says he needs to talk to Kepa now.”

And: “Sarri says the players played exactly the game he prepared, so he is in full control of the situation. He adds that today we decided not to press high in every situation, and we conceded nothing to the best team in Europe.”

Nothing to see here. Move along:

Chelsea goes full Pravda

Here’s that controlled misunderstanding in full:

What says the Chelsea website? This:

There was high drama at the end when the substitution board went up to replace Kepa Arrizabalaga, who was back from injury and had needed treatment on the pitch, with Willy Caballero. It was shaping up to be a penalty shoot-out against Caballero’s former club but Kepa appeared to go against his manager’s wishes [that would be when he yelled ‘NO!’ at Sarri and refused to leave the pitch] and stayed on. He ultimately saved one of the penalties, but it was not enough…

Caballero stripped and the numbers were shown for the change, but Kepa was convinced he could continue and did so. Maurizio Sarri looked furious.

And the Manchester City website?

It felt like the last chance to win the game had passed – though it wasn’t the last talking point as Chelsea keeper Kepa refused to be subbed with cramp as Willy Caballero waited to replace him. Given Willy’s penalty saving record, City fans weren’t too disappointed he didn’t come on!

And what says Raheem Sterling, a player allegedly racially abused by Chelsea fans? He rather enjoyed it:

Raheem Sterling Chelsea

Chelsea are in the mire. Manchester City are buoyant.

Posted: 24th, February 2019 | In: Chelsea, Manchester City, Sports | Comment


Chelsea Balls: Sarri sacked by Monday; Steve Holland and Rakitic in

Chelsea ban

Farewell, then, Maruizio Sarri. Or not. The Telegraph joins the chorus of newspapers claiming Sarri is to be sacked by Chelsea very soon. The paper says Chelsea are considering appointing England assistant manager Steve Holland if they sack head coach Maurizio Sarri next week.

How strange it must be to work at Chelsea and not quite every fully unpack your bags. But the severance pay is good. Which might be why the Sun says former Real Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane is in line to become the new manager at Stamford Bridge. The paper says the great Frenchman “could” have £200m to spend during the Blues’ appeal against a transfer ban. Or to put it another way: he could have loadsa money but no-one to spend it on.

If Zidane does arrive and is able to hire new talent, the Sun says the Blues will move to sign Barcelona’s 30-year-old Croatia midfielder Ivan Rakitic. The ban does not prevent players from leaving the club. So also expect to hear a lot about Eden Hazard consider the kind of contact they used to offer supermodels to get out of bed.

Posted: 23rd, February 2019 | In: Back pages, Chelsea, Sports | Comment


Chelsea Balls: Sarri’s sacking and club banned from signing new players for next two transfer windows

Bit of an odd backpage from the Mirror, leading, as it does, with Europa League action from Chelsea and Arsenal’s respective 3-0 victories over the might of Malmo and Bate Borisov. The Mirror leads with one player who scored (Ross Barkley) and one who did not (Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang).

Mirror arsenal chelsea

Having thrice told its readers that Chelsea will sack Maurizio Sarri this season, the paper notes that the victory was encouraging. The Guardian says it’s earned Sarri “extra time”. It’s February, and he only started work at Chelsea in July. You’d think Sarri’s tenure at Chelsea would outlast a gap year.

Chelsea are “back on track” says the Express. But beating Malmo is not on the same path as a 6-0 defeat to Manchester City or even a 4-0 loss at Bournemouth. Malmo are a limited side. The players might have “saved Sarri’s skin”, as the Mail puts it, but with a Carabao Cup final with City looming, The Italian will need some armour should they suffer another heavy defeat.

Which they have. The club has been banned from buying players for the next two windows. FIFA says Chelsea are guilty of breaching rules in relation to youth players. Whoever replaces Sarri will have to make do with his players.

Posted: 22nd, February 2019 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, Chelsea, News, Sports | Comment


Chelsea: Sarri sack imminent

How long can Maurizio Sarri last at Chelsea? His tenure never was going to be for long. Chelsea see mangers as mere front-men for the project, expendable so long as the playing staff are talented enough. Last night Chelsea crashed out of the FA Cup, losing 2-0 to a pretty ordinary Manchester United. The former Napoli boss signed a three-year contract worth around £17.7million in July. Director Marina Granovskaia told media: “We are delighted to welcome Maurizio and are looking forward to him bringing his football philosophy to Chelsea.” Chelsea don’t do philosophy. They do money and pragmatism. The clock’s ticking.

The Times on Sarri’s “joyless, hopeless, losing football”:

At first he complained, mildly, that English players were a little lacking in it and, oh, how we soaked it up, the idea that this brain-box would take the likes of Ross Barkley and Ruben Loftus-Cheek and make them shine for the England team, give them the tools to look a little, well, a little Italian. They would be thoughtful, crafty. No more headless chickens for us.

Now, though, few players of any nationality appear to have the requisite intelligence to implement Sarri-ball. The Chelsea head coach does not give them tactics more suited to the qualities they do possess. Instead, he persists. He persists and he persists.

The BBC:

As Maurizio Sarri watched his side limp out of the FA Cup, he resembled a jaded end-of-the-pier entertainer going through the same old act that once brought him acclaim but is now greeted with open hostility and – even more painfully – mockery.

The early weeks of the season, when the ‘Sarri-ball’ philosophy that won him the adulation of peers such as Pep Guardiola brought optimism to Chelsea, seemed an age away as Manchester United breezed into the FA Cup quarter-final without needing to raise a gallop.

Sarri cut a solitary, dejected figure as his predictable moves and the inevitable results saw Stamford Bridge turn its fury on him with a force that begs the question not if his short time as Chelsea manager is drawing to a close, but when?

On this nightmarish evidence, and the fierce reaction of the supporters to their increasingly hapless and disconnected manager, the end may be very near.

The Guardian:

Chelsea fans don’t often turn on their manager. They don’t usually have time. But there, distinct in the cool February air, just six days before they play in a cup final, it was: “Fuck Sarriball! Fuck Sarriball! Fuck Sarriball!” Add in the booing at the final whistle and the chants for Callum Hudson-Odoi throughout the second half and it’s fair to say the Matthew Harding Stand has made its mind up about Maurizio Sarri.

He’s toast.

Posted: 19th, February 2019 | In: Back pages, Chelsea, Sports | Comment


Transfer balls: Zidane to Chelsea; Pochettino and Saudi bone-saws to Manchester United

Is Chelsea manager Maurizio Sarri spending the windfall in his severance clause? Maybe. The talk is of Sarri being given the boot and Zinedine Zidane the golden hello. ZouZou loves Chelsea – and if Roman Abramovich gives him £200m to spend on players, Eden Hazard forever and, naturally, a guaranteed huge payoff should he displease the Russian, the Frenchman will be on his way.

Or maybe he’ll head to Manchester United. Or maybe United will go shopping at Spurs once more. The Red Devils are willing to pay Tottenham a £34m compensation for manager Mauricio Pochettino.

More stories are emerging of Saudi Crown Prince Mohamed bin Salman’s rumoured £3.8bn bid for for Manchester United. But the Prince is good at denials (see bone-saw murder). A flunky called Turki al-Shabanah tells us: “Reports claiming that HRH the Crown Prince Mohamed bin Salman intends on buying @ManUtd are completely false. Manchester United held a meeting with @PIFSaudi to discuss sponsorship opportunity. No deal has been materialised.” What would the Saudi’s sponsor? Do Manchester United have their own branded petrol yet? Bone saws?

The Sun hears Turki gobble and says: “Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman hopes to complete a £3.8bn takeover of Manchester United before the start of the next season.”

In other news, Romelu Lukaku is wanted by Inter Mila, who have had it up to ‘here’ with Mauro Icardi. Chelsea want Icardi and Paulo Dybala. Zidane might not.

Posted: 18th, February 2019 | In: Back pages, Chelsea, manchester united | Comment


Manchester City say sorry for thrashing Chelsea and enjoying it

There will be singing of only acceptable chants at the football. The Premier League is no place for spontaneity. Goals will reviewed by a panel in a studio before being awarded. Soccer will be part of the “football family” to be played the world over, including in Qatar. Songs will be policed. The PA will be taken from this place and… Man City have formally apologised to Chelsea for blasting out One Step Beyond by Madness – which is, it says here, ‘Chelsea’s victory song’ – over the public address system at the Etihad after dishing out a 6-0 thrashing.

According to the Evening Standard, “senior City officials” ordered the song be cut short and offered their immediate apologies to their Chelsea counterparts for “what could be interpreted as an act of gloating”.

If you can’t gloat after annihilating a rival team and petro-chemical dynasty’s vanity project in an enjoyable and distracting leisure pursuit, when can you gloat? As they say in the City boardroom: don’t mention the score!

Posted: 11th, February 2019 | In: Chelsea, Manchester City, Sports | Comment


Chelsea balls: Willian off; Hazard decides; Luiz on a free; and a transfer ban

Chelsea ban transfer

Sports writing highlights in the London Evening Standard, which brings news of Chelsea FC’s Willian. On Page 57, we read a story continued from the “back page”. But the back page features only an advert for a movie called Alita Battle Angel – which Willian is not in (I checked). No word on him on page 59 either. But on page 58, we learn that Chelsea’s Eden Hazard has decided his future. The Belgian tells French radio station RMC: “I know what I am going to do. I have made decision.” How very subtle and elusive he is.

And on page 57 we get told that Willian is going to be a victim of “Chelsea’s strict over-30 policy”. So strict is this policy that the Blues just signed Gonzalo Higuain – the 31-year-old – with options to extend the loan or sign him permanently. The Standard says Chelsea “won’t change their contract policy regaling players over 30”, without telling readers what that policy is. I can tell you that Chelsea only offers one-year contract extensions to the over-30s. David Luiz and Gary Cahill are two over-30s whose contracts expire in the summer, when both can leave on a Bosman free transfer.

Chelsea Willian transfer

The Standard also fails to mention Chelsea’s problems of the field. Fifa has invested the club over potential rule breaches with regard to more than 100 foreign players under the age of 18.

Chelsea says they have “fully cooperated with Fifa and provided comprehensive evidence demonstrating its compliance with the applicable Fifa regulations”. but should they be found guilty and a transfer ban imposed, Willian won’t be going anywhere – and Luiz can write his own cheque.

Posted: 5th, February 2019 | In: Back pages, Chelsea, Sports | Comment