Comment & analysis round-up
Quote of the day: â€œThere is too much to do to win the title. Itâ€™s very, very unlikely now, but we will continue to fight until it is mathematically impossible. You never know, but even a point would not have been good enough tonight. We lost a game we couldnâ€™t afford to lose in the title race and that shows we are not mature enough. If you want to win the title, this is the kind of game you canâ€™t lose. I believe Chelsea and Manchester United can drop points. Chelsea come here on Saturday and if Tottenham want to fight for fourth place, you never know. If you look at the Chelsea game on Tuesday, I donâ€™t think they were exceptional, but they had the luck that you can see as well.” – Arsene Wenger.
Today’s overview: Tottenham’s victory in the north London derby dominates the backpages this Thursday, the Lilywhites not only getting one over on their arch enemies but also torpedoing the Gunners title hopes.
Kevin McCarra sets the scene for Spurs fans this morning. “Schadenfreude may be a petty satisfaction but it is also one of the most cherished feelings in sport. While Tottenham fans realise that their own club has not been champions since 1961, this result was met with ecstasy. Arsenal would have anticipated the tone of the night but still could not cope with it.”
Also commenting at the match at large was Oliver Kay. “It was a breathless encounter, one that began with a sensational goal from Danny Rose, ten minutes into his Barclays Premier League debut, and featured remarkable contributions at various points from Heurelho Gomes, Ledley King, Luka Modric, Sol Campbell and Robin van Persie. The final scoreline could have been just about anything, but, to the delight of the home fans, it ended with ArsÃ¨ne Wenger ashen-faced, Campbell looking weary and Arsenalâ€™s title hopes all but evaporating on the ground where they secured championships in 1971 and 2004.”
Going from the general to the specific, Jeremy Wilson focused in on Danny Rose’s unforgettable league debut for Spurs. “To make your first senior start for a winning Tottenham team in a north London derby would be the stuff of dreams. To do that and score the sort of breathtaking goal that will be talked about for decades to come would have been beyond the imagination of anyone inside White Hart Lane.”
Sam Wallace extended the praise around the Tottenham team. “The 19-year-old Danny Rose scored a remarkable goal on his Premier League debut for the first of Spurs’ goals in a 2-1 victory but it was the Brazilian goalkeeper Heurelho Gomes who kept his side in front at the end with four late saves â€“ three of them from Arsenal substitute Robin van Persie.”
The Telegraph get a little too excited however, wondering whether Spurs’ victory is representative of a shift in the balance of power in north London. “If there’s one thing Tottenham fans are used to seeing, it’s false dawns. But somehow, their 2-1 win over Arsenal at White Hart Lane felt different. In fact, things have felt different all season. For once it was Tottenham scoring the brilliant goals and defending solidly. For once it was Arsenal losing their composure on the ball as the pressure mounted. One match does not turn a tide, of course, but the signs are there that the day when Tottenham finally usurp their bitter rivals, after two decades chasing them, may be close at hand.”
Even though the Gunners lost, David Hytner managed to celebrate Sol Campbell’s performance at White Hart Lane. “The irony was that Campbell, who has looked off the pace at times since his return to Arsenal, had a fine game. From his early near miss, he was a commanding presence on the ground and in the air. One of his eye-catching moments was a saving intervention to dispossess Jermain Defoe; another, when he stepped out to halt Bale. He also hit the bar with a late header. There is life in the old warhorse yet. Sadly for him, however, there is little chance of one more medal at the end of the season.”
Patrick Barclay also showered praise on Sol, believing that Campbell could also be at the Emirates next season. “Arsenal will be in the Champions League next season. But with Campbell? Few could have imagined he would be with them now, in the shirt he once tore off, and last nightâ€™s return coach journey down the corridor of scorn may not prove his farewell to White Hart Lane.”
Instead of looking for Arsenal’s silver linings, Sam Wallace ripped into the weak performances of certain Wenger Boys on Wednesday night. “In defeat Wenger was generous, conceding the title and leaving his players with something to think about. The Arsenal manager praised the towering performance of Campbell â€“ who would have scored were it not for a Gomes save near the end â€“ and in doing so pointed out that some of his players could learn a lesson on what it took to win titles. There were poor performances from players such as Bacary Sagna, Denilson and Emmanuel EbouÃ©, and yet another injury blow for Arsenal when Thomas Vermaelen was carried off after 19 minutes with a calf strain that rules him out for up to three weeks. Arsenal really are limping to the end of the season with half a team and precious little to play for apart from second place.”
Green & Gold: The big news in the Daily Star is Bill Thornton’s article claiming “the Red Knights are closing in on a takeover bid for Manchester United.Â A group of Red Knights and their advisers met in London to finalise plans for their proposal to buy Manchester United from the Glazer family. The Knights, a growing collection of multi-millionaire United fans, are dedicated to making the Glazers an offer they won’t be able to refuse.”
World Cup: The big Three Lions news today, as reported by Kevin McCarra, is that “Fabio Capello is considering a call-up for the uncapped Manchester City midfielder Adam Johnson… Johnson was not in the provisional 30-man group for last month’s friendly with Egypt but, with Aaron Lennon still injured, alternatives for the right flank should interest Capello. He is also warning regular squad members against complacency. Theo Walcott is not always a starter for Arsenal while Johnson appears to have overtaken his club-mate Shaun Wright-Phillips in the pecking order.”
Football Politics: With football becoming a central issue in British politics ahead of the general election, Anna Kessel pokes hole in the politicians attempts to jump on the beautiful games’ bandwagon. “Just 21 days to go until the general election. So that’s at least 21 more opportunities for politicians to ingratiate themselves with the seven million of us who love football then. Whoop, whoop. Expect stunt keepy-uppies (Tony Blair and Kevin Keegan circa 1997), Harriet Harman on Soccer AM and plenty of banter from the parliamentary terraces… Brown is working hard on the simple equation: football = popularity. Imagine a world where politicians were adored like David Beckham or had the power of Sir Alex Ferguson. You can see why they keep on with the football chat.”
Going Bust: Sad news in the Daily Mirror today as Darren Lewis touts “Crystal Palace are understood to be just three weeks away from meltdown… Club insiders even fear administrator Brendan Guilfoyle, charged with finding a new buyer, will quit once the money runs out to pay him at the end of the season. Palace were put into administration earlier this season because hedge fund company Agilo was owed Â£4.3million.”
Transfer Lies: Once again, serial-fibbers the Daily Mail spew a host of transfer lies.
First they bark “Jerome Boateng will be Manchester City’s next big-money signing after Hamburg reluctantly gave their approval to an Â£11million move to Eastlands at the end of the season.” Next another no-name article toots “Michael Ballack looks to be heading for a reunion with Jose Mourinho after admitting Roman Abramovich has put the block on contract talks with several â€˜star namesâ€™ at Stamford Bridge.”
Ian Ladyman farts “Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson has stepped up his efforts to recruit French goalkeeper Hugo Lloris as a long-term replacement for Edwin van der Sar… Dimitar Berbatov’s agent, meanwhile, says the striker does not want to leave United.”
Barely believable, the Daily Mail spout “Fulham are interested in FC Twente striker Bryan Ruiz but would have to smash their transfer record with the Dutch side putting a Â£13m release clause in his contract.” While also seemingly pie-in-the-sky is the DM’s report that “Inter Milan are increasingly confident that they can tempt Steven Gerrard to quit Liverpool for Italy.”
The wooliest transfer rumour of the day appears in The Sun, who scribble “Chelsea and Manchester City will find out next week if Franck Ribery is to be their top summer target.Â The Bayern Munich winger plans to make a decision on his future within the next 10 days.”
The Mirror’s John Cross barks “Real Madrid are determined to beat Manchester United to the signing of Spain star David Silva. Spanish giants Real want to clinch a Â£22m deal before the start of the World Cup to beat off competition from United.”
Managerial merry-go-round: The Daily Mail’s lies continue into the world of managers on the move, barking “Italian FA chiefs have drawn up a shortlist of new managers which includes Manchester Cityâ€™s Roberto Mancini.”
Over in The Sun we also learn that “Juventus’ hopes of tempting Rafa Benitez may be scuppered by failure to reach the Champions League… Bringing in Benitez, plus a couple of his backroom team and top stars, would cost around Â£100m, stretching Juve to breaking point.”