Comment & analysis round-up
Quote of the day: “[Nemanja] Vidic would be delighted to play at Barcelona as his dream is to go to the Spanish league. We have to analyse the situation but, being realistic, things are complicated at the moment. The team have just lost Ronaldo and Tevez and they do not want to lose another important piece of their starting XI once again.” – Paolo Fabbri, Vidic’s agent.
Runner-up: “Every club lets a player know that they’re interested and anyone who says they don’t is telling lies, it’s absolute rubbish. It’s not a case of tapping a player up, it’s a case of the agent ringing up and asking if you’re interested. He [Storrie] rang me on Sunday and he said he never said it. It’s like everything â€“ we had a deal for Darren Bent with Stoke for Â£15m but Darren wanted to go to Sunderland, so what can you do? We were willing to pay Â£10m for Peter and Sunderland were willing to pay Â£12m, but Peter didn’t want to go to Sunderland. It happens in every transfer… I don’t care who the clubs involved are, nobody can tell me that a player doesn’t know which club wants him. They all have agents who ring up the club and say: ‘Are you interested in my player?’ and you say whether you like him. That’s how it is and it’s the same with every club. Agents are the go-betweens between the clubs.” – Harry Redknapp.
Today’s overview: Touted as the most likely pre-season fall-guys in the Big Four, Arsenal have since opened their season by thrashing Everton and then doing the job at Celtic in the Champions League, leaving hacks across the backpages to start crowing over Arsene Wenger’s young band of winners. Arsenal, it seems, have gone from zeros to heroes.
Leading the cheer squad, David Hytner has all-too-quickly concluded “the ruthlessness with which they took command seems to indicate development in the team. Arsenal, it appears, are no longer the beautiful yet vulnerable side we have watched for a few years now.” Continuing his Gunner love-in, David Hytner then went on to scribble “Thomas Vermaelen and William Gallas stood tall at the heart of the defence… while in midfield, Arsenal could boast the game’s outstanding player in Alex Song, as well as the driving force that is Cesc Fabregas.”
Martin Samuel chipped in with praise for Andrei Arshavin. “If there is a finer one-touch footballer in the Premier League, he is yet to make himself known… It is not so much what Arshavin did, as what he did not do; he did not lose possession. No matter how tight the corner, no matter how many hooped shirts crowded around him, he found a way out.”
Able to see the forest for the trees, Oliver Kay accurately notes how “in the space of four days, the threatened early-season crisis at Arsenal has not so much been distanced as banished altogether… Arsenal [passed] examinations of their mental and physical fortitude before their obvious technical superiority shone through.”
After reading Henry Winter’s match report, you could be confused into thinking that Celtic actually won the match. “Aiden McGeady, charging everywhere, lived up to the hype. Scott Brown, taming Andrei Arshavin and raiding forward, captured the commitment Celtic Park expects from anyone privileged to wear that famous strip. At the back, Glenn Loovens was outstanding.” Turning the analysis on Celtic a full 180 degrees, Sam Wallace countered Winter’s conclusion arguing “the underdogs did not have a prayer and Celtic’s muscular defiance in the first half â€“ as well as some bad fouls after the break â€“ was not enough to keep Arsenal at bay.”
Chelsea, after falling behind for the third match in a row, are praised for showing their winning spirit.
Jason Burt picked up on Chelsea’s change of tactics already this season claiming, “out with the diamond; in with the Christmas tree.”n recovering from Darren Bentâ€™s early goal, Chelsea exhibited patience, cunning and, most impressively, sheer force of will… It is the stuff of champions, although in terms of beauty, there is surely more to come.” Elsewhere,
Party-pooper Martin Samuel rants about why Chelsea may fall short in the title race. “Mark this day in your diaries because it will come in handy later. January 10, 2010. It is the date that Chelsea’ s championship challenge officially hits the buffers; Manchester City’s, too, if the club has managed to sustain its early promise. January 10 is when the 27th Africa Cup of Nations begins, and January 31 is when it ends, during which time there are four Barclays Premier League matches scheduled.”
Onto the transfer gossip this Wednesday, where Liverpool have moved to try and shore-up their defence. Andy Hunter announced “Benitez is continuing his search for defensive reinforcements and last night made a Â£1.5m bid for Sotirios Kyrgiakos of AEK Athens.”
Staying on Merseyside, Andy Hunter reports that Everton have signed Valencia’s Ever Banega on a year’s loan but that highly-rated Kalmar midfielder Rasmus Elm now looks set to join AZ Alkmaar in Holland. However the big news on the Toffees arrives in The Mirror where Alan Nixon shouts “David Moyes is making a Â£12 million double raid for Tottenham bad boy David Bentley and Scottish international team-mate Alan Hutton.”
The Times reveal how Wigan boss Roberto Martinez is in the market for Swansea’s Â£4-million rated midfielder Ferrie Bodde, Rory Smith reports that “Harry Redknapp is preparing an Â£8-million bid for Celtic midfielder Scott Brown,” while Sandy Macaskill unconvincingly writes “Telegraph Sport understands that the chances of Sol Campbell joining [Notts County] are as good as 60 per cent.”
On Stoke, Jason Burt notes that while the Potters are trying to hold onto Ryan Shawcross, “Stoke have agreed a fee, which could rise to Â£5m, to sign James Collins from West Ham United but that deal has stalled over the central defenderâ€™s wage demands.”
Tuesday was busy for Chelsea, Gordon Tynan reporting how “Chelsea have signed midfielder Nemanja Matic from Slovakian club MFK Kosice… Claudio Pizarro, meanwhile, has left the club to join Werder Bremen.” While in other news, James Nursey links Hull with a move for Villa’s Luke Young.
Finally, two of the finest columnists in England analyse Arsene Wenger’s comments on a European Suer League. Gabriele Marcotti writes: ” I’m not advocating a European Super League. Far from it. But if it did come to pass, it would not necessarily spell the end of football as we know it. (Not that long ago, many were outlining all sorts of doomsday scenarios for lower league football following the creation of the Premier League.Â Instead, the Championship enjoys record-breaking attendances and interest in the Football League has been as high as it has been in a long, long time.)”
David Conn adds in the Guardian: “Wenger is a professor of football, so his view that this is the way the game is going should be studied very seriously, not dismissed for the thinness of his detail. He has now confirmed, in public, that many people have been discussing this in private, for years.”