Comment & analysis round-up
Quote of the day: “It was a difficult moment. We had a lot of important players injured and today I saw the same spirit from the players that I saw last year. In the first half we played well. Tottenham, I didn’t feel, had chances apart from a couple of set pieces. We need to improve there. But after they scored first I thought we played fantastic.” – Roberto Mancini.
Runner-up: “A shame we could’t get the three points. Glad to to help the team with another goal… Hugs to Terry, I hope it’s nothing serious” – Luis Suarez on Twitter.
John Terry: Out For the Season?
Blues fear JT’s out for the season (Sun) Chelsea fear John Terry’s season is over after he suffered an horrific-looking knee injury yesterday… Terry’s knee bent backward grotesquely under the weight of the clash and it is feared he has serious ligament damage. Centre-half Terry, who had headed Blues in front, screamed in agony before being carried off and he will undergo an MRI scan today. He left Stamford Bridge on crutches with his right knee in a brace last night.
Crocked Terry ‘in the clear’ despite fears of serious injury after sickening collision with Suarez (Mail) John Terry is confident he has avoided serious injury after a horror collision at Stamford Bridge on Sunday… Sportsmail understands Chelsea’s medical staff believe the injury looked far more serious than it is, and they are hopeful an MRI scan on Monday morning will reveal only minor damage to his right knee. Terry was seen looking relaxed and smiling before he left the stadium on Sunday night on crutches and wearing a protective knee brace.
Chelsea’s John Terry suffers knee ligament injury against Liverpool (Dominic Fifield, Guardian) This latest setback was freakish rather than an indication of any underlying weakness in the leg. Suárez expressed his condolences to Terry, tweeting: “Hugs to Terry, I hope it’s nothing serious.” Although damage to the medial ligaments could prompt anything up to a three-month absence, a rupture of a cruciate would require a longer lay-off leaving Chelsea, who have failed to keep a clean sheet in eight matches and are three points behind Manchester United in the title race, fretting over the prognosis.
Chelsea 1 – Liverpool 1
Suarez rescues point for Reds after goalscorer Terry is crocked on return (Martin Samuel, Mail) It is incredible to think that, take away Terry’s unmarked header after 20 minutes and Chelsea could even have lost this one. Having dominated the first half, they allowed Liverpool back into the game and by the end were clinging on for a point.
Flexible Liverpool make their point after 3-5-2 experiment at Chelsea (Michael Cox, Guardian) Rodgers made just one substitution. After an hour he introduced Suso in place of Sahin, told the Spaniard to play just behind Suárez and switched to a 4-4-1-1 formation. Glen Johnson moved to left-back, with José Enrique and Sterling on the flanks. Now Liverpool offered greater forward passing options, an extra threat in the penalty area and more width high up the pitch, stretching the Chelsea defence.
Brendan Rodgers’ Liverpool project starts to take shape against Chelsea (Richard Williams, Guardian) Match by match, point by point, it becomes easier to see the results of what Brendan Rodgers is attempting to do at Liverpool, and how he might succeed.
Liverpool’s Luis Suarez proves a man apart as Chelsea lose ground at the top (Sam Wallace, Independent) [Suarez] has scored in his last four games for Liverpool, 11 in all this season, although his club have won just one of those nine matches in which he has scored. Without him yesterday, they would have lacked the sharp edge to open up their opponents and been unable to turn a fairly forgettable first-half performance into a draw. Every time he received the ball a world of possibilities opened up.
Together forever: Unpopular, undaunted… Suarez and Terry are kin of a sort (Ollie Holt, Mirror) It was a few minutes before half time when the collision came. It felt inevitable they would be drawn to each other sooner or later. Together, John Terry and Luis Suarez have dictated the narrative of a troubled last 12 months in the English game. Some would argue they are the two most unpopular players in the Premier League, as well as two of the most talented.
Carragher shows he is still a top performer – but it is time to think about the next step (Jamie Redknapp, Mail) Jamie Carragher must be getting to the stage where he is considering his next move. He’s not a regular for Liverpool and he is struggling to get a game beyond the Europa League, but he came into the side at Chelsea and was excellent. He is still a warrior defender. I hope he doesn’t pack up soon.
Man City 2 – Spurs 1
Blame Me (Sun) Andre Villas-Boas held up his hands and admitted he got it wrong as Spurs blew a great chance to down the champions… AVB, whose side won 3-2 at Manchester United in September, said: “The key moment came at 1-1. City made some changes and put three at the back to go all-out attack. It gave them the momentum to get the winner. We tried to hold on to the 1-1, sometimes it pays off, sometimes it doesn’t. At Old Trafford it did.”
Solid Silva makes City shine again (Mail) Dzeko will deservedly take the plaudits but City’s recovery owed much to the brilliance of David Silva. The Spaniard has looked jaded since returning from Euro 2012, his powers compromised by having to play so much football. Maybe a month out with a hamstring injury has been the best thing for him because Silva was back to his old self yesterday.
Arsenal manager Arsène Wenger and Tottenham rival Andre Villas-Boas desperate to win north-London derby (Alan Hansen, Telegraph) The fact that Tottenham and Arsenal go into next Saturday’s north London derby sitting in seventh and eighth position in the Premier League makes the game even more significant than if they were second and third and vying for the title.
Lionel Messi: The Greatest
Messi overtakes Pele goals record (Sun) Lionel Messi is better than Pele — and that’s official. Barcelona’s Argentine ace has surpassed Brazilian hero Pele’s goals record for club and country in a calendar year. Messi hit two against Mallorca in a 4-2 win to take his 2012 tally to 76, nine behind German Gerd Muller’s all-time mark. Pele’s best yearly return was 75 with Santos and Brazil in 1972.
Zaha Gets An England Call
Meteoric rise for gifted winger propelling Palace’s climb (Giuseppe Muro, Independent) Now widely regarded as the most exciting young player outside the Premier League, Palace co-chairman Steve Parish has publicly insisted it would take a £20m offer to part with Zaha, who has already made over 100 appearances for the club.
He’s a super Zah (Charlie Wyatt, Sun) Crystal Palace’s £20million-rated wing wonder Wilfried Zaha was last night given a shock England call-up. Zaha, 20 on Saturday, received a late birthday present ahead of Wednesday’s friendly in Sweden. Wayne Rooney, Theo Walcott, Jonjo Shelvey, Kyle Walker, Aaron Lennon, Jermain Defoe and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain are all set to miss the clash in Stockholm through injury.
England win Zaha tussle as Hodgson hands shock call-up to Palace wonderkid (Neil Ashton, Mail) Zaha took a call from Ivory Coast captain Didier Drogba on Wednesday urging him to play for the country of his birth at the Africa Cup of Nations in January… As the Sweden match is viewed as a ‘non-competitive friendly’, Zaha could yet commit to Ivory Coast even if he plays for England on Wednesday. The same situation applies to Liverpool’s Raheem Sterling, 17, who is being courted by Jamaica, where he was born.
Monday’s Op-eds: Remembrance Sunday & Gary Neville
Remember, sport isn’t a special case when we honour our heroes (Martin Samuel, Mail) Sport is so uniformly respectful of our historic legacy these days that when James McClean, a Republic of Ireland international playing for Sunderland, refused to wear his poppy-adorned shirt on Saturday it became national news. Yet if we fought for anything in the last century — and, admittedly, this is a woollier concept when applied to the motivations behind 1914-18 — it was freedom. And that includes the freedom not to wear a poppy, and the freedom to attend football matches. Even on Remembrance Sunday. Especially, in fact, on Remembrance Sunday.
Gary Neville’s next task could be to rescue the BBC (Jonathan Liew, Telegraph) Neville is not quite the finished article as a co-commentator. He, too, occasionally succumbs to the “wow” phenomenon, although this is less of a problem than it is in a commentator. But as a pundit, most notably on Monday Night Football, his research and insight are unrivalled. He speaks with precision and concision, rarely wasting a word. The contrast with others such as Jamie Redknapp (“Goals are scored between the width of the posts”, he memorably commented yesterday), is stark. No, the problem is not that Gary Neville has too many jobs, but that he has too few. Is there anything else we can give him? Could we put him in charge of the FA, or Uefa, or Fifa, for example? He would certainly be preferable to Michel ‘Canapés’ Platini, at any rate. Could he run for Parliament? I’d vote for him.
Dzeko and Zaha wanted for Gunners salvage job as Wenger plans spending spree (Mail) Arsene Wenger has made Manchester City striker Edin Dzeko his top target after being given the green light to go on a January splurge to revive Arsenal’s precarious Champions League qualification hopes. Athletic Bilbao forward Fernando Llorente and Atletico Madrid striker Adrian Lopez are also high on the Frenchman’s hitlist. Arsenal will also make a £9million offer for Crystal Palace winger Wilfried Zaha… Swansea’s Michel Vorm remains a strong contender in the club’s search for a keeper. Arsenal have watched the Dutchman extensively while they will also keep a close eye on Pepe Reina’s situation at Liverpool.
Wenger ready for January spend – Dzeko and Zaha top list (Mirror) The shopping will include £7million punt for Palace prodigy Wilfried – and full-blooded swoop for unhappy Man City striker Edin.
West Ham on the verge of signing Nicolas Anelka (Star) The Hammers have held talks with the veteran French striker about a shock return to England and reunion with his old boss Sam Allardyce… The pair worked together at Bolton and Anelka is a huge fan of Allardyce.
Mancini meets Falcao’s agent as he bids to beat Chelsea to £46m striker (Mail) Roberto Mancini is attempting to beat Chelsea to the signature of Colombian hotshot Radamel Falcao… According to the Sunday Telegraph Mancini has flown to Madrid to talk to Jorge Mendes, the player’s representative, and more than one meeting has taken place.
Lamps on way (Sun) The Chinese claim they are closing in on Frank Lampard. Reports from China last night confirmed our SunSport exclusives dating back to March that the Chelsea and England midfielder is the number one priority for Super League side Guizhou Rehne.
United target Lewandowski stalls talks with Borussia Dortmund (Mirror) Fergie was willing to spend £16million on the Polish striker in the summer – but bought Robin van Persie instead. Now the hunt is on again.