Anorak

Sports | Anorak - Part 2

Sports Category

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

Talking balls: Manchester United mix up and Arsenal’s Pepe not African

Daily Star fail

Tip-top reporting from the Daily Star, which manages to illustrate a story on Romelu Lukaku with a pen pic of his Manchester United teammate Paul Pogba. It also hails Arsenal’s new player the “France winger” Nicolas Pepe. He plays for the Ivory Coast, which isn’t in France. S

Oh, and Pogba hasn’t been left out of the United squad in Norway. He’s on the bench:

Such are the facts.

Posted: 30th, July 2019 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, Key Posts, manchester united, Sports, Tabloids | Comment


Transfer balls: Arsenal ARE selling Mustafi

New to gladden the hearts of all Arsenal fans: Shkodran Mustafi is wanted by Monaco and AC Milan. Arsenal reason the German international is worth €30m. the only downside is that Laurent Koscielny wants to leave the club. however, should the Gunners get a good fee for Mustafi plus the £10m they seek for Koscielny, they’d have the cash to buy a decent replacement. Centre-backs Sokratis Papastathopoulos, Calum Chambers, Konstantinos Mavropanos and ​Rob Holding would all remain on the books.

Of course, Arsenal are splashing out £72m on Lille winger Nicolas Pepe. So he’s used up all the money, right? No. The Pepe deal involves paying £20m up front for the 22-year-old Ivory Coast international and the other £52m in instalments within five years.

Posted: 30th, July 2019 | In: Arsenal, Sports | Comment


Caster Semenya: a test of biology not gender

Michelle Garcia looks at the fabulous athlete Caster Semenya.

Immediately after that mind-blowing 800-meter final at the 2009 World Championships, some of Semenya’s fellow competitors went for the jugular. Italy’s Elisa Cusma Piccione (sixth place) insisted she was a man. Russia’s Mariya Savinova (fifth place) urged journalists to “just look at her.” Other athletes whispered, stared, and laughed at her. Then came the IAAF.

Initially, the questions about her drastic improvement were linked to suspicions of doping. When those tests came back negative, she was subjected to rounds of gender testing, reportedly involving analysis by an endocrinologist, a psychologist, a gender expert, an internist; most humiliating was a gynecological exam that included photographing her genitals while her feet were in stirrups. Eventually she was cleared to compete on the international circuit again but not before she missed nearly a year of competition during the IAAF’s deliberation over her test results. The dirty secret here is that gender testing is common for women athletes — and yes, only women athletes.

Jason Kottke says Semenya is a hit by sexism, racism, bureaucracy. I’d say that everyone deserves a level playing field. Sport is all about rules. In 2015, the Court of Arbitration for Sport stopped the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) rule that females with ‘male levels’ of testosterone could not take part in in women’s races. Before that Semenya was impelled to take testosterone suppressants. The thinking is clear: testosterone is an indicator of performance. So what of transgender athletes? David Walsh notes: “To ensure fairness we need to define what is male and what is female. It can’t be down to a person’s preference.”

Semenya is doing the best with what nature gave her. And her best is exceptional. But the need is for her to be classified as male or female for the purpose of athletic competitions. Semenya is intersex: she possesses XY chromosomes but a body that appears female. And in her chosen sport, that might give her an advantage. An unfair one? What about having longer legs in the high jump or bigger feet in the swimming pool? Which genetic advantages are acceptable and which are not? And who gets to decide?

Posted: 29th, July 2019 | In: Sports | Comment


Arsenal Transfer Balls: Pepe arrives, Rugani on loan and Tierney ready to sign

Arsenal have recruited Nicolas Pépé – just the medical to pass – and are looking for more recruits. Pitched at 50-1 to win he Premier League, the Gunners are desperately in need of new faces. With Pepe, their forward line looks formidable. But that defence…

“There are different players on the table with the possibility we can achieve their signature,” says manager Unai Emery in what could be his last season at the club if Arsenal fail to achieve Champions League football. “We are only thinking about people who can really, really improve this squad. We will only look at men who can really strengthen a position. One centre-back, one full-back and one winger.

Metro says the centre-back will be is Daniele Rugani from Juventus on a season-long loan. Kieran Tierney is scheduled to arrive from Celtic. He’s greed personal terms and the two clubs are very close to a deal.

Now to get shot of Mustafi, Jenkinson and Elneny. Any takers?

Posted: 29th, July 2019 | In: Arsenal, 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 News: Liverpool sign Elliott, Arsenal sell winger, Dybala doesn’t want Spurs move

Liverpool have signed Harvey Elliott from Fulham. He’s 16, wears his hair in a bun and boasts the record of becoming the youngest player to feature in the Premier League when at at the age of 16 years and 30 days old he played against Wolves.

Big clubs are chasing youth.

Xavier Amaechi has left Arsenal for £2.25m. The 18-year-old has joined Hamburg on a four-year contract. The hope is that these young players go on to command very high transfer fees. If Harry Maguire can be worth £80m to Manchester United – the fee his current club Leicester City are asking for the defender – the sky’s the limit.

Manchester United are spending big and have agreed a £65m deal for Sporting Lisbon’s Portugal midfielder Bruno Fernandes, 24. And money is scheduled to come in: noises from Spain indicate that Real Madrid or Juventus are to offer £150m move for Manchester United and France midfielder Paul Pogba, 26. United also fancy Lyon’s Moussa Dembélé if Romelu Lukaku joins Internazionale and view Lazio’s Sergej Milinkovic-Savic as replacement for Pogba.

Even Spurs have £80m for Argentina forward Paulo Dybala, 25. But he wants to stay at Juventus.

Posted: 28th, July 2019 | In: Arsenal, Liverpool, manchester united, Sports, Spurs | Comment


Arsenal bid £72m for Pepe; Zaha also in line; Aubameyang to Manchester United

Arsenal have offered Lille £72m for the brilliant winger Nicolas Pépé. Noises from France and the BBC say the deal is almost done.

If the France-born Ivorian arrives, talk is of the Gunners being open to offers for Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang. Manchester United are keen on the 30-year-old striker with two years to go on his current Gunners deal.

The Arsenal policy is for any player with two years left on their deal to be offered fresh terms. If they refuse, they are put up for sale. Should Aubameyang extend his current deal and Pepe arrive, the Gunners will boast a lightning quick attack. And there’s more…

To make way for a fresh bid for Crystal Palace star Wilf Zaha, Arsenal are looking to sell Henrikh Mkhitaryan, who also has two years left on his current deal.

Others being shunted towards the exit are Mesut Ozil and Shkodran Mustafi. Ozil would be a huge miss – on his day he’s fabulous. But Mustafi might just be the worst signing Arsenal have ever made.

PS: told you Arsenal had loads more money than the £40m transfer kitty all the mainstream media said they had.

Posted: 27th, July 2019 | In: Arsenal, Sports | Comment


Transfer balls: Spurs will get nothing for Alderweireld; Manchester United wait

Transfer Balls: No club bid the £25m that would have triggered Spurs defender Toby Alderweireld’s transfer from Spurs. The Sun reasons that because the deadline for that “bargain of the summer” (Telegraph) expires at midnight tonight, the Belgian’s value “has increased dramatically”. Alderweireld is now in the final year of his contract with Spurs. In June 2020 he can leave for free and pocket all that extra cash in a signing-on bonus and wages. The player has already rejected a long-term deal to remain at Spurs. He’s 30. The next move will be his last chance to maximise his earnings.

The Sun thinks he’s now worth, well, what: £50m? £70m? More? Alderweireld earns around £80,000 per week at Spurs. He can earn much more than that a top club. And with no transfer fee, he’ll surely get it. 442 reasons “the club will be delighted” that their “Rolls Royce” of a player hasn’t left for a low sum of £25m – low given that Aston Villa paid over £20m for Bournemouth lummox Tyrone Mings.

Manchester United wanted him last year but cooled their interest. Roma wanted him this summer but thought the £25m fee too high. So Spurs are stuck with an ageing player in the final year of his contract. Where’s the win?

Posted: 26th, July 2019 | In: Back pages, manchester united, Sports, Spurs | 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: Zaha to Everton, Everton to Arsenal, Dyabla to Spurs

Everton fans must be thrilled. With £80m to spend on new talent, the Toffees are after Crystal Palace’s Wilfried Zaha – the player who supports the Arsenal, loves the Arsenal and wants to play for the Arsenal. Compared to the £80m Manchester United want to spunk on Harry Maguire, Zaha for the same fee looks like good value.

One other issue for Everton is that their midfield tyro Idrissa Gueye is off to Paris Saint-Germain for around £30m.

As Arsenal faff about and hope Palace get desperate as the August 8 transfer deadline approaches and sell Zaha to them for some buttons, promises and a Carl Jenkinson – or buy Brazil’s Everton for £30m – Spurs make plans. Like Manchester United and Bayern Munich, they’re after Paulo Dybala, the Juventus striker. And like Maguire and Zaha, he too is in the draw marked ‘£80m’.

Meanwhile, back on planet earth away from hot football flesh, it’s boiling.

Posted: 25th, July 2019 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, manchester united, Sports, Spurs | Comment


Transfer balls: Bale sale kickstarts Pogba leaving Manchester United and Spurs getting Lo Celso

Gareth Bale’s people say Real Madrid have disrespected their cash cow. Chinese clubs Beijing Guoan, Jiangsu Suning and Shanghai Shenhua say Bale would get private jets full of respect should he choose to pull on any one of their club’s colours. And if playing for the badge isn’t enough, Bale can also get a £20m golden hello and £1m a week after tax. Not too shabby, then, for the high-achieving Real benchwarmer .

Bale’s leaving Real would allow Real to recruit the marketing machine that is Paul Pogba. Manchester United will then spend the £150m they’ll get for Pogba on Juventus striker Paulo Dybala, Spurs’ midfielder Christian Eriksen and Inter Milan’s Ivan Perisic.

Spurs will use the Eriksen cash to buy Fulham’s Ryan Sessegnon and Real Betis midfielder Giovani lo Celso. Or maybe Bale will take cut in wages and play for PSG?

Posted: 23rd, July 2019 | In: manchester united, Sports, Spurs | Comment


Arsenal Transfer News: Zaha for £65m plus one Jenkinson and a sexy car

zaha man united

Crystal Palace think Wilfried Zaha is worth £80m? Is he? Arsenal think he’s worth £55m plus £10m in add ons should they win the league (10-1) or Mustafi mishit a pass that lands on the moon (7-1). For a player who flopped the last time he left Palace, £80m could look like a huge risk – Zaha transferred to Manchester United in 2013 only to return to Palace in 2015. A player happy to be the star at one lower mid-table club might not shine at a club with loftier ambitions and a more demanding fanbase.

But Zaha has improved. And of that time at Manchester, where he played under the limited David Moyes, Zaha offered:

…Moyes took issue with the way he dressed and even the car he drove. Zaha felt further let down by the club’s failure to shut down false rumours he was sleeping with Moyes’ daughter and that his absence was due to an attitude problem. He remembers being ‘belittled’ in training by one United coach after scoring. On another occasion he was shown a video of himself in tricky winger mode for Palace and was asked how he could recapture that form, having already been told by Moyes to cut out the fancy footwork. ‘You see the mind games they were playing?’ a bewildered Zaha asks. ‘But when he took me out of the Champions League squad and put in Adnan Januzaj, who had never played for the first team, I knew then that this is way bigger than I ever thought and had gone way beyond footballing reasons,’ he says. ‘When it was not about football or ability, what could I do?’

Adding:

“There were rumours that the reason I wasn’t playing [many games] for United was because I slept with [then manager] David Moyes’s daughter, and no one [at the club] attempted to clear that up.
“So I was fighting my demons by myself, these rumours that I knew weren’t true. I was dealing with this at 19; living in Manchester by myself, nowhere near anyone else, because the club had a hold over where I lived. They hadn’t given me a car, like every other player [had]. Nothing. I’m living in this hell by myself, away from my family, and I thought, ‘If this doesn’t make me stronger, what will’?”

He’s stronger now with oodles of charisma. How Arsenal need him…

Posted: 22nd, July 2019 | In: Arsenal, manchester united, Sports | Comment


Arsenal balls: terrible captain Laurent Koscielny agrees to play for Rennes

So farewell, Laurent Koscielny, the most mute Arsenal captain in recent decades. A fine player – one who in his pomp who could claim to be world class. But he was a poor captain.

Having gone on strike because at 33 years old he wanted longer than the year-long contract Arsenal were offering, the ageing, non-expressive, charisma-free Frenchman has agreed personal terms with Rennes, reportedly. Arsenal now need to get shot of him. Shut the door on the way out. The post-Wenger revolution has finally begun.

Posted: 21st, July 2019 | In: Arsenal, Sports | Comment


Transfer balls: £60m is more than £65m as Spurs beat Manchester United to Giovani Lo Celso

Transfer Balls hears the rumours that Spurs want to sign Real Betis midfielder Giovani Lo Celso. The tabloids are confused as to his value and what Spurs are willing to pay:

“Tottenham are refusing to pay £60million for Real Betis’ Giovani Lo Celso” – The Sun

“Spurs are set to smash their transfer record for a second time this summer as they finally step up their interest in £70million-rated midfielder Giovani Lo Celso” – Daily Mirror

The Mirror says Spurs are “desperate to land Lo Celso after shattering Tottenham’s transfer record to sign Tanguy Ndombele for £65million”. But the Sun says they’re not all that desperate for the player who flopped at PSG and won’t pay over £60m.

Giovani Lo Celso transfer

The tabloids don’t have the foggiest. The Mirror (prop. Reach plc) says Spurs will get their man – it’s a sure thing. But Football.London (prop Reach plc) says Lo Celso could be off to Manchester United.

Such are the fatcs.

Posted: 19th, July 2019 | In: Back pages, manchester united, Sports, Spurs | Comment


Transfer balls: Zaha to Everton clickbait or slowly to Arsenal

The Liverpool Echo says there is an increased chance of Wilf Zaha joining Everton. There is also an increased chance of Zaha joining Wrexham or your local pub side. The Echo’s story is based on news that the player has told Crystal Palace he wants to leave the club. And if your side has anything from £80m (BBC) to £120m (Sun) lying about the place, they can buy him. So the Liverpool Echo seduces Everton fans with a headline based on a muon of truth.

Sky Sports says Arsenal, who’ve already seen a £40m bid for Zaha fail, are “expected to raise their offer in the coming days”. To what sum is unknown, but rumours are that they’re holding a car boot sale next Sunday and Carl Jenkinson, Calum Chambers, Mo Elneny and that bloke who used to walk about the North bank shouting ”Eanuts” are being pushed into the hatchback.

Posted: 19th, July 2019 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, Sports | Comment


Transfer Balls: The Arsenal ‘ace’ to replace Aaron Wan-Bissaka might be a joker

CArl Jenkinson Crystal Palace
‘ACE’

Transfer Balls likes to spot clickbait – and the Daily Star’s news that an Arsenal “ace” is to replace Aaron Wan-Bissaka at Crystal Palace is a cracker. Wan-Bissaka is now at Manchester United, which means Palace are in search of a replacement right-back. Step forward the “Arsenal ace”. No, not Hector Bellerin. It’s Carl Jenkinson – the same Carl Jenskinson who was hooked off at half-time when Arsenal last played Palace, having made “the sort of errors you would not expect to see in the third or fourth tier”.

Maybe the “ace” can be worth the £40 million Arenal need to take Wilfried Zaha from Palace to Arsenal? Maybe. The Sun says, “Eagles boss Roy Hodgson has always been a fan of the defender and even gave him his England debut against Sweden in 2012.” It might happen…

Posted: 18th, July 2019 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, Sports | Comment


Spurs balls: Kieran Tripper thanks San Antonio Spurs for making it all possible

Spurs defender Kieran Tripper hailed his transfer to the Atletico Madrid bench by thanking Spurs for making it all possible – that’s NBA team San Antonio Spurs. On Instagram, San Antonio Spurs are the real @Spurs; Tottenham Hotspur are the less concise @spursofficial. Trippier made the obvious error.

Poor old Tottenham. All that money spent on a new stadium and an NFL deal in pursuit of becoming a global brand and everyone in the USA – and even their own players – think they’re basketball team.

Go Spurs. Yay!

Posted: 18th, July 2019 | In: Sports, Spurs | Comment


Transfer balls: Matthijs De Ligt joins Juventus but ‘agreed’ terms with PSG and Manchester United

Dutch defender Matthijs De Ligt has joined Juventus from Ajax for £67.5m. That must come as something of a shock to Manchester United and PSG fans because on July 6, the Sun bellowed: “Man Utd and PSG ‘agree transfer fees with Ajax for Matthijs De Ligt.” That news followed the Express’s July 5 scoop: “Barcelona transfer news LIVE: Matthijs de Ligt AGREEMENT in place.” Also on July 5, the Daily Star told its readers: “Man Utd and Ajax come to agreement over Matthijs de Ligt transfer.” The Daily Mirror agreed.

The Google News bots picked up the balls:

Matthijs De Ligt
Matthijs De Ligt
Matthijs De Ligt
Matthijs De Ligt

More clickbait every day…

Posted: 18th, July 2019 | In: Back pages, Sports, Tabloids | Comment


Transfer Balls: Arsenal sign William Saliba, Everton medical, Cabellos close and Zaha is for sale

The Sun says the deal is done: William Saliba has joined Arsenal. But he won’t kiss the badge until 2020. The Gunners have paid £27m for the 18-year-old and allowed him to spend the season at Saint-Etienne. This suits Arsenal because the fee is being paid in instalments.

“Hi @arsenal loving the away new kit,” quips one Gooner on Twitter. “I’d like a Medium Men’s. I’ll pay £5 now. £5 on delivery and £40 based on bonuses and appearances.”

In other Gunners, news, the BBC says they are “very close” to securing Real Madrid midfielder Dani Ceballos 22, on loan. The Spanish central midfielder was voted player of the tournament at the Under-21 European Championships.

It’s also widely reported that Arsenal have signed Gremio winger Everton for £36m. Apparently he’s having his medical in Brazil. Which leaves the club’s interest in Wilf Zaha where? “I don’t think Arsenal have actually made a bid that has come anywhere near our valuation,” Crystal Palace manager Roy Hodgson told Sky Sports. “I’m sure the player realises that if someone’s going to take him away from us, he’ll expect clubs to pay the market value. Until someone does that, there’s not much to discuss regarding Wilf.”

In other words, Zaha is for sale. If Arsenal can get him on the the drip, he could yet arrive at The Emirates.

Posted: 18th, July 2019 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, Sports | Comment


Arsenal balls: Josh Kroenke knows talk is cheap

Can it be true? Arsenal manger Unai Emery says Arsenal are trying to sign some “very big, very expensive players” this summer. “Our target is to achieve three or four players who really improve our team and our squad now,” says Emery. “We have very good players and very good young players who can progress to take and get big performances with us. Other players can come here to help us. We are being very, very demanding and we are first speaking about the possibility to sign very big, very expensive players.”

Arsenal have invested in one new player this summer: 18-year-old Brazilian Gabriel Martinelli. They are being linked with Saint-Etienne defender William Saliba (18), and have bids of £25m for 22-year-old Celtic’s Kieran Tierney, plus £40m for 26-year-old Ivorian Zaha rejected.

The fans are upset about the club’s stagnation under owner Stan Kroenke. But Arsenal chief executive Josh Kroenke (qualifications for the job: absentee owner Stan’s his dad; knows the Gunners player soccerball in London), tells one and all via an open letter, in which he guffs:

“For us, the most important thing to achieve was not simply change for the sake of change, but to ensure we put the right people in the right roles to work together in a positive environment to achieve our stated goal of winning silverware both domestically and in Europe.

We know this can bring uncertainty, and perhaps everything we’ve done in the past 12-14 months has brought about additional uncertainty during a period of unease when supporters, coaches, players and management are rightfully frustrated by lack of success on the pitch.

“With all the work we’ve done on the structure of football, commercial and operational departments, we would say that the club now needs a period of stability rather than additional change.”

To translate: we drifted along collecting fat dividends whilst Arsene Wenger’s regime was winning the occasional tin pot and finishing fourth but now that’s all gone because the patriarch got too old, we’re clueless about what to do. You’re all hungry for success but I’m stinking rich and don’t really need it.

Key part:

“While we’re not going to be in the market for some of the top players in the world at the moment whilst they are the top players, we’re actively scouting the globe to find the next big thing to become great at Arsenal Football Club. And not only will we bring them to the club, we’ll be able to retain them in the fold going forward.”

Translation: We’re desperate and buying cheap. And dad won’t be putting a penny of his absurdly large fortune into the pot. (That ok, dad? Can I come home yet?)

Posted: 17th, July 2019 | In: Arsenal, Sports | Comment


Transfer Balls: Bale ‘agrees’ Manchester United terms and ‘agrees’ Spurs return; plays for Real Madrid

The latest transfer balls has Spurs buying Gareth Bale from Real Madrid for £55m and somehow managing to finance his £600,000-a-week wages. The 30-year-old player’s agent declined to go on talkSPORT to discuss his client but said of the Spurs rumours: “I don’t comment on rubbish.” Having thus offered a loud comment, Manchester United fans can wonder what happened to their target?

Bale spotted in Manchester; Lord Lucan sighted in Norwich

And as for Bale returning to Spurs, well, Daily Express readers know that he rejoined the club last summer:

Such are the facts.

Posted: 16th, July 2019 | In: Back pages, manchester united, Sports, Spurs | Comment


Greed over glory: Arsenal fans send desperate letter to their disinterested owner

How can Arsenal get themselves out of the mess created by greed, laziness and a culture of failure? Chief contract negotiator Huss Fahmy is fighting firs, doing his best to correct the disaster of Ivan Gazidis and Dick Law’s work that saw Aaron Ramsey, Jack Wilshere and Danny Welbeck leave for nothing and Mesut Ozil offered the absurd sum of £350,000 a week to stay.

Unai Emery’s squad is a strange collection of journeymen, overpaid plodders, two top strikers and talented youngsters. Can Edu, the new technical director, and Freddie Ljungberg, now promoted to assistant to coach Emery, restore some swagger and purpose to a moribund team? Can they help Emery, who desperately needs it? When Arsenal needed reinforcements at the back, Emery pushed the board to recruit the dire Denis Suarez in January. Is he up to the task?

The fans are restless. Leading Arsenal fans’ groups have written a letter asking owner Stan Kroenke, to “reinvigorate” the club.

As Arsenal fans we have watched with frustration as the team’s football performances have declined over the past decade,’’ they argue. “When Stan Kroenke began buying Arsenal shares the club had just competed in a first Champions League final [in 2006]. Twelve years on, Arsenal are about to play in the Europa League for the third year running. Off the pitch, fans have never felt more marginalised, less listened to or valued. This was sadly illustrated when Stan Kroenke forcibly bought out the last remaining supporter-shareholders without even a word of appreciation for their custodianship role in the club. It feels as though Arsenal is at a crossroads. Things need to change…

“…our club feels like an investment vehicle. It is sad that an institution like Arsenal has such passive ownership. All of us want to see a clear sense of purpose and direction. KSE should start by being more open and accountable and explain how they intend to achieve the goal of winning the game’s major trophies…

“On a matchday the Emirates Stadium can be a soulless place. The atmosphere is poor and there are thousands of empty seats blighting almost every game. If Arsenal really cared they would make sure seats weren’t left empty by investing in an improved ticketing system and actively supporting initiatives like safe standing. The club uses the strapline: ‘Always ahead of the game’. It would be good to see action to demonstrate this.”

An absentee owner bodes badly for Arsenal. It is an investment for him and nothing more. Kroenke won’t take a gamble and invest in players in the hope of success. He’ll tick along and collect his dividends. Greed not glory is the Arsenal way. But at east one thing won’t change: at season ticket renewal time Arsenal will be linked with a big money buy.

Posted: 15th, July 2019 | In: Arsenal, Key Posts, Sports | Comment


Arsenal balls: Laurent Koscielny knows how bad Mustafi is

People in the know chose Bordeaux. And like a fine whine – yes, yes, a weak joke but that’s Arsenal for you – Arsenal captain Laurent Koscielny has refused to travel on the club’s pre-season tour of the US because he thinks the team are rubbish and wants to live and work in La Belle Endormie.

Koscielny’s current deal expires at the end of the season. At 33, he wants more than the one year extension Arsenal are offering and thinks a three-year deal at Bordeaux the better option. “We are very disappointed by Laurent’s actions, which are against our clear instructions,” say Arsenal. “We hope to resolve this matter and will not be providing any further comment at this time.”

Koscielny will win. He’s one of Arsenal’s very few top-class players. And he knows how sub-standard the alternatives are. If he leaves, Arsenal will boast – and that’s a boast akin to the scarred squaddie returning from active duty without herpes – Sokratis and Mustafi as their first-choice central defenders. Sokratis is likeable at least because he sticks the boot in and has the soulful mien of a man troubled by something bigger than cutting down Harry Kane.

Mustafi is just as poor as the Greek at passing out from defence but is affected by an unappetising combination of arrogance and limited ability. Arsenal are desperate to get shot of the German. And in a market where Aston Villa invest £20m in recruiting the doltish Tyrone Mings from what must be a delighted Bournemouth, Mustafi should be worth around that. But he won’t go to a bigger club unless one of them has read his CV without ever having seen him play. And Mustafi cuts the figure of man who think he’s destined for better things. So he’s stuck at Arsenal and Arsenal are stuck with him until his contract dies on the vine in 2021.

Posted: 12th, July 2019 | In: Arsenal, 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


Manchester United transfer balls: Paul Pogba yo-yos between homes

Whoever takes the penalties for Juventus had best watch out: the Turin club is preparing a £120m bid for Manchester United’s 26-year-old France midfielder Paul Pogba. United should bit their hand off at the shoulder.

Juventus know what to expect from their former player – which makes you wonder how they think he’s worth such a vast sum of money. Having retuned “home” to United – his word for rejoining the club he left for Juventus in 2012 – Pogba told us in 2016, when his then world-record £89m transfer to United was completed, that “the time is right to go back to Old Trafford… This is the right club for me to achieve everything I hope to.”

The collaboration with Kanye West on a range of leather shorts and a starring role in Game of Thrones were surely near the top of the list of Pogba’s hopes. The football was okay in parts (those penalties taken in the style of a dressage pony) and less ok in others.

The tosh that heralded Pogba’s return to Old Trafford was not confined to Pogba Inc. BBC pundit Danny Murphy told us that “with their summer signings and with Jose Mourinho in charge, United will soon have their old fear factor back.While Pogba has arrived, I do not see Juan Mata being at Old Trafford for too much longer.”

Mata has just extended his United contract by a further three years. Pogba has been telling his United teammates he’s ready to leave. Presumably it’s the ‘right time’ to embark on another marketing project.

The Times says United want Pogba to be the pivot for manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s new team. Pogba’s agent Mino Raiola says he is “in the process” of arranging a transfer for Pogba. “Everyone within the club from the manager to the owner knows Paul’s wishes. Everyone knows the willingness of Paul to move on. We are in the process of that. Everyone knows what the feelings of Paul are,” said Raiola.

And for the right fee, you can feel the love.

Posted: 8th, July 2019 | In: Back pages, manchester united, Sports | Comment