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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


Transfer balls: Liverpool move for Chelsea winger Hudson-Odoi

The less he plays the better he gets. News is that Liverpool have joined Bayern Munich in the chase for Chelsea and England youth winger Callum Hudson-Odoi, 18.

Bild says Hudson-Odoi’s brother and advisor has met with Liverpool representatives. The club’s manager, Jürgen Klopp, likes the player whose Chelsea contract expires in 2020. The German paper adds that Chelsea are moving heaven and earth to keep their man, offering him more money and playing him for a whole ten minutes as they went down 2-0 at Arsenal. It might not be enough.

Having introduced a player apparently worth over £30m to Chelsea fans in dribs and drabs, the Blues are keen to insert a buy-back clause in any deal. Chelsea want to avoid making the kind of mistakes that saw them miss out on Romelu Lukaku when their former striker joined Manchester United. Although how big of a miss that was is debatable.


Posted: 24th, January 2019 | In: Back pages, Chelsea, Liverpool, Sports | Comment


Gonzalo Higuain: Chelsea sign Juventus striker who played for Arsenal

Chelsea have signed Juventus striker Gonzalo Higuain. The 31-year-old Argentine will remain at Chelsea until the end of the season.

“When the opportunity to join Chelsea presented itself I had to take it,” said Higuain. It’s a team I’ve always liked that has a lot of history, a wonderful stadium and they play in the Premier League, a league I’ve always wanted to play in.”

Has he forgotten signing for Arsenal in 2013?! Surely not:

higuain transfer

Such are the facts.

Posted: 23rd, January 2019 | In: Chelsea, Sports | Comment


Transfer Balls: Liverpool £61m for Felix; Martial stays at Manchester United; Everton in for Chelsea striker; Higuain jets in for Spurs

Arsenal Emery newspapers

A round-up of today’s transfer rumours and other fluff and nonsense in the Press. Let’s kick off with Liverpool, who’ve bid £61m bid for Portugal Under-21 attacking midfielder Joao Felix, 19. Correio da Manha says Benfica, his current club, think the teenager is worth more. Someone arguably worth less is Philippe Coutinho. The Liverpool Echo in a no-news special says Liverpool won’t be resigning the Brazil midfielder, 26, they flogged to Barcelona for a whopping £142m just 12 months ago. Many other clubs also won’t be buying Coutinho.

One player who could be finally on his way to the Premier League is Juventus and Argentina striker Gonzalo Higuain. Chelsea want to sign the 31-year-old before week’s Carabao Cup semi-final second leg against Tottenham, says the Sun. That’s the same paper that told us Higuain played for Arsenal. That story remains live on the paper’s website. Chelsea fans shouldn’t buy those Higuain replica shirts just yet.

higuain-arsenal the sun transfer
qhen

In the sunny uplands of Manchester United, Anthony Martial, 23, is all set to agreeing a new five-year contract, says Sky Sports. And Ole Gunnar Solskjaer (aka Fergie Mark 2) wants to leave his rooms at the Lowry Hotel in Salford and find a permanent address in Manchester.

Everton have £40m for Chelsea and Belgium forward Michy Batshuayi. Everton are determined to catch the so-called Big 6. That means gaining ground on Arsenal, a club seemingly determined to return to a state of mid-80s torpor. News is that James Rodriguez, 27, will remain at Bayern Munich for the rest of season. The Express says Arsenal have as much chance of signing him as they have of keeping a clean sheet.

And finally Barcelona have had enough fo Malcom, 21. ESPN says that any club offering the £35.2m they paid Bordeaux for the player last July can have him. Spurs are interested.

Posted: 19th, January 2019 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, Chelsea, Liverpool, manchester united, Sports, Spurs | Comment


Jose Mourinho rewrites Chelsea history; Petr Cech and me

News that Arsenal goalkeeper Petr Cech is to retire at the season’s end is exciting the mouth of Jose Mourinho, who managed the goalkeeper when they were both at Chelsea. Talking to beIN Sports about life at Manchester United before he was sacked and more, thoughts turn to Cech.

“When I arrived in Chelsea, he was a kid, only 20 years old. The goalkeeper was Carlo Cudicini – the season before he was elected the player of the season – and the first game of the season was Chelsea against Manchester United and I decided to leave out our player of the season before, and play a kid that nobody would know how to even say his name because Petr Cech was quite difficult to say. After that everything was about him. My influence was zero.”

Really?

On 2 June 2004, Mourinho moved to Chelsea on a three-year contract. Chelsea bid for Cech (born 20 May 1982) on 7 January 2004 – when Claudio Ranieri was Chelsea manager. Real Madrid and Inter Milan were also interested in him thanks to, as the BBC put it, “some stirring performances for his club and country over the past 18 months”. Cech was in goal for the Czech Republic team that reached the semi-finals of Euro 2004. Chelsea got their man in February for £7 million. Cech signed a five-year contract, to commence in July 2004. He was 22. Cech competed for a first-team place at Stamford Bridge with Cudicini, Marco Ambrosio, Jurgen Macho and Neil Sullivan.

The Chelsea player of the season the year before Cech arrived was Gianfranco Zola.

Mourinho did not decide to leave out Cudicini. The Italian was injured. Sky Sports reported:

Czech Republic international Petr Cech was satisfied to keep a clean sheet on his competitive Chelsea debut. Cech was given the nod by Jose Mourinho to start Sunday’s Premiership meeting with Manchester United and he repaid his manager by shutting out the opposition. The summer signing had relatively little to do between the posts and is hoping to retain his spot ahead of Carlo Cudicini.

But after all that Mourinho says his influence was “zero”. Claudio Ranieri is away.

Posted: 18th, January 2019 | In: Arsenal, Chelsea, Sports | Comment


Arsenal balls: Petr Cech retires

Farewell, Arsenal goalkeeper Petr Cech. He’s due to retire at the end of the season. “Having played 15 years in the Premier League and won every single trophy possible, I feel like I have achieved everything I set out to achieve,” says the former Chelsea ‘keeper.

“I will continue to work hard at Arsenal to hopefully win one more trophy this season… I am looking forward to seeing what life holds for me off the pitch.”

This is good news for the Gunners. Cech has been no more than a decent goalkeeper at Arsenal. His best days were behind him when he signed from Chelsea in June 2015. At his best he was formidable.

Cech’s career nearly ended in October 2006 when he required surgery for a skull fracture after a collision with Reading’s Stephen Hunt. The injury caused him to miss three months playing. He returned to the field wearing that now familiar scrum cap. As Giles Smith quipped in the Times, the cap contain a “lightweight electronics and incorporates a personal organiser and an entertainment system, enabling the.. custodian to access crucial match-play data in real time and also, during bored moments, book cinema tickets or download and listen to the latest Beyonce album.”

We can expect to see him sat on the BBC pundit sofas dwarfing lesser ex-players soon…

Posted: 15th, January 2019 | In: Arsenal, Chelsea, Sports | Comment


Transfer balls: Higuain to Chelsea, Morata to Milan and Arsenal’s ‘record signing’

The BBC tells us that Chelsea are signing Gonzalo Higuain, 31. Currently on loan from Juventus at AC Milan, Higuain would add some proven finishing ability to a side reliant on the unconvincing Alvaro Morata. The Sun adds that this is a swap deal and Morata will head to Milan on loan. Can the Sun be relied upon to deliver the facts? Not always, no:

 

higuain-arsenal the sun transfer

In 2013, the Sun told us: ‘Arsenal last night smashed their transfer record when they agreed a £23million fee for Real Madrid striker Gonzalo Higuain.’

 

Any deal hinging on Morata, who joined Chelsea from Real Madrid in 2017 for £60m, has to be problematic. Morata has scored seven goals this season but lacks confidence. Chelsea coach Gianfranco Zola wants the player to step up: 

“It should be a motivational thing. You are at Chelsea. You’re not playing for Southampton or Brighton, with all due respect for those clubs. People expect a lot from the No 9 of Chelsea. This is normal and Álvaro has to get used to it.

“If he goes to another big club, it’s going to be the same. There is no way you can avoid your responsibilities. It’s part of your job and the better you can handle those situations, the better you’re going to be.

“I know he feels he doesn’t score enough and he feels a lot of responsibility on that. He has to learn to leave everything behind because these are only burdens you take on the pitch and they won’t help you to perform better.”

Bet AC Milan can’t wait to rely on him for goals.

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


Chelsea fans denies calling Raheem Sterling a ‘black c**t’

You do what you can to upset the opposition, right? Raheem Sterling was collecting a ball at Stamford  Bridge when a group of Chelsea fans of a type that used to constitute a large chunk of the club’s fans before Roman’s billions bought success shouted at him. What was said is the subject of much heated debate. According to the Daily Mail, one of the fans opined: I’m deeply ashamed by my own behaviour and I feel really bad. But I didn’t call him a black cunt, I called him a Manc cunt. I’ve been going to Chelsea for 50 years now and, because of where I sit, I’m picked up on the camera most weeks. If I had a history of saying this sort of thing I would’ve been caught by now.”

Police are investigating. No arrests have been made. Chelsea have suspended four people from attending their matches, pending further investigations into allegations of racial abuse directed at the London-raised England player. 

The fan adds: “I offer him an unreserved apology. Even if it wasn’t racist, it’s not right what I said.” You can argue amongst yourselves if this Chelsea fan is deserving of an epithet before expressing in four-letters what he might or might not be. 

A spokesperson for the Metropolitan police adds: “Officers continue to review footage and CCTV to determine whether any offences have been committed. Officers are in possession of the details of those reportedly involved – there have been no arrests at this time. The Met continues to work with both clubs and a number of inquiries are ongoing.”

Why don’t they just ask Raheem Sterling what he heard?  

PS: More on Chelsea and what they did and didn’t say, here.

 

Posted: 11th, December 2018 | In: Chelsea, Key Posts, Manchester City, News, Sports, Tabloids | Comment


Transfer balls: Real Madrid break rules to sign Chelsea’s Hazard

Big news for Chelsea fans is that the slowest burning seduction in football is reaching a climix: Real Madrid have agreed personal terms with Chelsea’s Eden Hazard. The BBC brings that news but supports it with no facts. Hazard is under contract at Chelsea. Do the rules permit him to agree terms with another team? Surely not. FIFA’s rules are clear:

Regulation 18.3 of the FIFA Regulations:

“A club intending to conclude a contract with a professional must inform the player’s current club in writing before entering into negotiations with him. A professional shall only be free to conclude a contract with another club if his contract with his present club has expired or is due to expire within six months. Any breach of this provision shall be subject to appropriate sanctions.”

Hazard’s Chelsea contract runs until June 2020. Did Real break the rules or did Chelsea allow them to speak with Hazard?

And just two days ago, the BBC told us: “Chelsea are ready to “immediately” agree a new contract with Eden Hazard, but are waiting for the forward to make a decision, says boss Maurizio Sarri.” Confused?

Admittedly, Hazard hasn’t helped things by telling us: “Sometimes in my head, I wake up in the morning and think I want to go. Sometimes I think I want to stay.” Adding: “Real Madrid are the best club in the world. I don’t want to lie today. It is my dream since I was a kid. I was dreaming about this club.”

 

hazard chelsea

It’s true – I read it on Google

 

As the BBC plays fast and loose with the facts, Spain’s AS reports: “Onda Madrid claims that Real Madrid have reached an agreement with Eden Hazard as they seek to take the Belgian to LaLiga in the summer.”

What is Onda Madrid? Well, it’s a radio station based in the Spanish capital. The website features football stories exclusively about Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid. It’s pretty partisan. But its site has no news on Hazard. You’d suppose signing a player for 170m euros would a pretty big story. But no. Nada. But one local news station’s uncorroborated claim is still reported as fact all over the web. Clickbait rules – even at the BBC.

 

Posted: 6th, December 2018 | In: Chelsea, Sports | Comment


Chelsea and Manchester City rethink business as FIFA gets tough over loan players

Fifa wants to stop big clubs stockpiling talent. From the start of the 2020-21 season, clubs will be able to loan out 6-8 players; the exact figure has yet to be agreed. This is will hit Chelsea hardest. The Blues have a whopping 39 players out on loan. Fifa want to create “the loans of players for the purpose of youth development as opposed to commercial exploitation”. 

These are the top Premier League clubs with players on loan:

Chelsea 39
Man City 28
Wolves 27
Brighton 16
Watford 14
Everton 14

Easy to sneer at Chelsea, who have turned a tidy profit from recruiting young players and selling them on. But none of the young brood had to sign for the club. And maybe having Chelsea on their CVs helps their careers? The worry is that the young player won’t improve at lesser clubs, where they train and play with less talented players. Stay at Chelsea or Manchester City and you play with Eden Hazard or David Silva, respectively. Chelsea have three players on loan at Vitesse Arnhem. Will they improve as quickly at the fourth best side in Holland? 

Oliver Kay has a tale from June 2018:

Matej Delac and even fewer would recognise him. He is the Croatian who signed for Chelsea in September 2009, four weeks after his 17th birthday, as one of the most promising young goalkeepers in Europe. He left last month without making a first-team appearance, without even having qualified for a work permit to play in the United Kingdom.

He was the club’s longest serving player. Chelsea loaned him out nine times. He’s now at Horsens in the Danish Superliga. He recalls:

“They [Chelsea] said to me: ‘We are buying you for the future. You will go on loan, gaining experience at a better level than the Croatian league. Then you will come back, maybe as No 2 goalkeeper. Then after that, anything is possible.'”

They might even make a profit on you. 

Posted: 30th, November 2018 | In: Chelsea, Sports | Comment


Media bias: Chelsea denied clear penalty, Hazard tumbles and lucky Spurs

Spurs tonked Chelsea 3-1 in the Premier League. At 1-0 to Spurs, Chelsea’s Eden Hazard was felled in the Tottenham box. Penalty! No. None given. But should one have been? Let’s look for any signs of bias in the media: 

BBC: “Chelsea will be furious at a soft free-kick for Spurs’ first goal and a failure from Martin Atkinson to give them a penalty when it was only 1-0 when Juan Foyth appeared to foul Eden Hazard in the 18-yard box.”

Chelsea website: “We had our moments in the first half, with Eden Hazard denied what looked like two clear penalties”

And again:

Chelsea website: “The Blues had what looked like a legitimate penalty appeal turned away when Hazard was bundled over in the box by Juan Foyth”

Former referee Peter Walton was in the studio for BT Sport: “…when you re-run it there’s a knee-on-knee and the foul comes when Foyth’s knee touches Hazard and that’s enough to put him over. For me that was a penalty.”

Guardian: ” Eden Hazard ought to have had a penalty on 14 minutes when Juan Foyth went into him from behind ”

Chelsea blog We Aint Got No History: “An early goal from a dubious foul, then a clear penalty uncalled on Hazard, then an unlucky second goal.”

And on the Spurs website? Only this: “13 mins – Hazard over in the box, appeals waved away.” No word on how he went over. 

Such are the facts.

Posted: 24th, November 2018 | In: Back pages, Chelsea, Spurs | Comment


Transfer Balls: Rashford makes Manchester United an offer they can refuse and a Liverpool move is back on

Good news for Chelsea fans: N’Golo Kante has signed a new five-year deal. “It has been two beautiful years and I wish for more to come,” he said after signing the news contact. “Since I came, I have completely improved as a player, challenged myself and got some awards I never thought about. I like the city, I like the club and I am happy to be here for more time.” Chelsea director Marina Granovskaia hails him for his “tireless and unselfish displays”. Kante is the player every other side wants in their team. 

Liverpool, however, are still chasing Nabil Fekir. Jurgen Klopp is said to be keen to rekindle a move for the France midfielder. Fekir was on his way to Liverpool in the summer. He never arrived. But Liverpool still want him. They also fancy Dortmund’s Julian Weigl. Arsenal like him, too, chiefly because they like pretty much anyone that plays for Dortmund with a hard to spell name. If he comes to the Emirates, Weigl will join fellow ex-Dortmund players: Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Sokratis Papastathopoulos, Henrikh Mkhitaryan and head of recruitment Sven Mislintat. 

Over at Old Trafford, news is that Marcus Rashford would find it hard to refuse a move to Real Madrid. He would also find it hard turn down the job of Prime Minster, the manager for Victor Secrets On Tour, £1bn in spun gold and the French throne. The odds of Rashford playing for Real are slim. But with two years to go on his current deal, rumours abound that United must do more to keep him happy or else another huge club will. So Real Madrid it is. Or Wolves. Or maybe Everton. Or, well, anywhere that will give him a game. “Manchester United’s England striker Marcus Rashford, 21, is ready to talk to Real Madrid if he fails to win a regular first-team place at Old Trafford,” says the BBC. To which the obvious answer from United is: “Let us know how it goes.”

Finally, Newcastle manager Rafael Benitez wants to sign Atlanta United’s attacking midfielder Miguel Almiron. Arsenal, West Ham and Everton also like the Paraguay international. Magpies owner Mike Ashley will surely swoop to get his man, sealing the deal with a 10% discount is one of his Debenhams stores (not applicable with any other promotion) and a Saturday job for any of Almiron’s loved ones in Sports Direct.  

Posted: 23rd, November 2018 | In: Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool, manchester united, Sports | Comment


Transfer Balls: Real Madrid in for Harry Kane at Spurs and Liverpool want Demirbay

Transfer Balls: undaunted by their apparent failure to recruit Aaron Ramsey from Arenal – he’s on his way to Bayern Munich, reportedly – AC Milan have begun talks with another player with ‘Arsenal captain’ on his CV, this time former Gooner and Spain midfielder Cesc Fabregas. The 31-year-old has had enough of warming the bench at Chelsea and Italy beckons. 

Manchester United are ready to offer Roma’s 22-year-old Italy midfielder Lorenzo Pellegrini twice his weekly wage. We’ve no idea what that amount to but estimates put it shy of Alexis Sanchez’s £500,000-a-week but north of what Marcus Rashford pockets by way of a monthly goal bonus. We are told, however, that Pellegrini will cost United £26m in transfer fees.

You can expect to hear lots about Harry Kane or Eden Hazard heading to Real Madrid because the Spaniards are desperate for a goalscorer, having worked out that Cristiano’s Ronaldo’s 50 goals a season were hard to replace. Gareth Bale, 29, and France’s Karim Benzema, 30, are not quite up the task. so Kane it is. A huge money offer will surely tempt Daniel Levy, the Spurs chairman. 

Finally, Hoffenheim central midfielder Kerem Demirbay is wanted by Liverpool. Another centre back for the Reds? Why not? 

Posted: 19th, November 2018 | In: Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool, manchester united, Sports, Spurs | Comment


Clickbait Watch: how to BAFFLE an Arsenal fan

baffled footballWriting clickbait for football fans is hard graft. All those budding hacks who dream of talking truth to power are reduced to spinning for clicks at sister newspapers the Daily Express, Daily Star and Daily Mirror.

Language is mangled. Simple facts are “revealed”. “Five things” are learned from watching paint dry. Rumours are mutated into ‘fact’. But every so often, clickbait talent emerges to connive a new meme for the SEO gurus running websites to applaud. Right now everyone at Arsenal – fans, players, Gunnersaurus – is “baffled”.

“Arsenal fans left baffled by Graeme Souness’ comments about Mesut Ozil” – Daily Mirror, October 23

“Lucas Torreira baffles Arsenal fans with what he did in training”  – Daily Mirror, October 10

“Arsenal fans left BAFFLED at staggering claim: ‘Are you mad? He can’t be serious'” – Daily Express, November 14

But it’s not just Arsenal being “baffled”:

“Jurgen Klopp baffled by remarkable Liverpool statistic” – Daily Mirror, Oct 19

“Graeme Souness leaves Manchester United fans baffled” – Daily Mirror, Oct 22

“Mohamed Salah leaves Liverpool fans baffled with social media post” – Daily Mirror, Oct 24

“Matteo Darmian leaves Manchester United fans baffled” – Daily Mirror, October 25

“Cesar Azpilicueta baffled by inconsistent Chelsea’s struggles” – Daily Mirror, Oct 26

“Celebrity Gogglebox: Fans baffled by Dele Alli’s composer comment” – Irish Mirror, Oct 26

“Man Utd news: David De Gea baffled by what Jose Mourinho said” – Daily Express, October 31

“Chelsea news: Sky Sports pundit baffled by one Maurizio Sarri” – Daily Star, Nov 4

“Manchester United fans left baffled by Paul Pogba’s ‘heartbreak’ haircut” – Manchester Evening News* Nov 4

* The MEN is sister title to the Star, Express and Mirror. It’s true? Unless you’re a football fan, in which case it’s baffling!

Posted: 16th, November 2018 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, Chelsea, Key Posts, Liverpool, manchester united, Sports, Tabloids | Comment


Transfer Balls: Spurs and Arsenal in for Bailly as Manchester United get a new defence

Transfer Balls: José Mourinho will change Manchester United’s defence early next year. From “When we win it’s all down to me; when we lose it was everyone else”, the new defence will feature new defenders. United plan to bring Toby Alderweireld and Diego Godin to Old Trafford in January, and get rid of Chris Smalling, Eric Bailly and Marcos Rojo. Spurs and Arsenal both like Bailly; Everton fancy Rojo; and Smalling could return to Fulham. Godin, 32, could cost £53m. 

In London, Arsenal will be waving a none-too-teary adieu to Aaron Ramsey, the midfield who resisted signing a new contract for so long that even Arsene Wenger left. He’s off to play for Bayern Munich. Either than or Ramey will be a sub at Chelsea or Liverpool. Arsenal and Chelsea are both looking at spry Atlético Mineiro right-back Emerson. And reports from Italy says AC Milan want to sign Liverpool’s Brazil midfielder Fabinho, 25, (who he?) in January. 

Over at West Ham, Marko Arnautovic, 29, wants a weekly living wage of £200,000 to continue working at the London Stadium. If he does;t get it then he could be off, possibly to Manchester United. 

Posted: 16th, November 2018 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, Chelsea, Liverpool, manchester united, Sports, Spurs | Comment