Comment & analysis round-up
Quote of the day: “It’s a decision that gives us the possibility to buy new players, but at this moment it’s not necessary. We want to have the opportunity if it is necessary… We can’t think about Liverpool at this moment because they are behind. The title is not just between Chelsea and United. No, I think Arsenal have good possibilities to arrive in first place. Arsenal have a very good team. But we must concentrate on United. It’s an important game. We will play the second team in the Premier League but it’s just a game that carries three points like the others. We know very well that it will be a very difficult match but also a very interesting match.” – Carlo Ancelotti.
Runner-up: “Certain teams or managers will just say, â€˜Go downâ€™ if Iâ€™m anywhere near and try and get you booked. I think it goes on quite a lot. Recently thereâ€™s been a few games where itâ€™s obvious to me that people have been told to go over the top and make a meal of any sort of contact with me. They do that to try and get me out of the game. I donâ€™t mind it, really, I just get on with it and do the job.” – Kevin Davies.
Today’s overview: Chelsea have received a suspension of transfer embargo for the forthcoming winter transfer window. But what will that mean in practice.
According to Dominic Fiefield, “Carlo Ancelotti will dip into the transfer market during the midwinter window in January only if injuries to key players leave his squad depleted.”
Jason Burt challenges that position, barking “rising stars such as Benfica winger Angel Di Maria and the Brazilian play-maker Alex Teixeira head Chelsea’s list of January targets after the club’s Fifa-imposed transfer ban was temporarily lifted allowing them to buy and sell in the next window. Chelsea also have their sights on some stellar names: Spain striker David Villa, Italy international midfielder Daniele De Rossi and Franck Ribery, who they tried to sign in August, and who may be made available if Bayern Munich go out of the Champions League. Chelsea made a bid for Middlesbrough’s Adam Johnson as well and he is also on their list now. There is some interest at the club in Atletico Madrid’s Sergio Aguero but as in the summer the transfer fee and wage demands are excessive. ”
Liverpool’s problems continue with Chris Taylor reporting “Rafael BenÃtez could start Fernando Torres against Birmingham City on Monday even though the Liverpool striker is understood to have been told by a specialist in Spain that he needs to rest for three weeks to clear up a groin problem.”
Sunday’s Premier League focuses attentions in the Saturdays. The Guardian’s Daniel Taylor investigates how, with Rio Ferdinand set to miss the match, “Alex Ferguson must construct a defence on depleted resources at Chelsea.” Elsewhere, Blues’ striker Didier Drogba explains to Matt Hughes how “my son told me I had to change my behaviour at Chelsea,” while Ashley Cole tells Mark Fleming “we need to pull clear of United before we lose Didier.”
Surly Scot Patrick Barclay trumpets how “Sir Alex Ferguson remains the rock of ages for Old Trafford.” “Every time he brings in a young player, Ferguson measures him against the task. Cristiano Ronaldo more than measured up. So has Wayne Rooney. Darren Fletcher epitomises Fergusonâ€™s gift for nurture. Others will be assessed tomorrow â€” are they â€œUnited playersâ€? â€” and they know it. No wonder the United board members dread the day when Ferguson comes to them and says it is time for a new and, perhaps, less taxing challenge. No one practises rejuvenation like him. So do not mistake even a heavy defeat tomorrow for the beginning of the end.”
The Times’ stat man, Daniel Finkelstein, explains how according to new data Thierry Henry is still best in Europe. “Thierry Henry, often near the top of previous Fink Tank rankings, has not lost his lustre. He is the best in Europe. Then there is Lionel Messi, followed by Cristiano Ronaldo. Half the top 20 are Spanish or are playing in Spain. And Fernando Torres is top of the Barclays Premier League players.”
With the first round of the FA Cup taking place this weekend, Oliver Brown focuses on the lowest ranked team still in the competition – Paulton Rovers. “This dynamic extends to the dressing room, which contained 22 people for the fourth qualifying round victory over Chippenham, 19 of whom subsequently went out carousing until 4.30am. Jones was one of them. For all his affluence, the coach was also not above holding his 40th birthday party in the Paulton clubhouse, complete with a Take That tribute band.”
The Daily Mail continue to bang on about why all football teams should be wearing poppy’s at the moment, with Arindam Rej finding support from Tottenham boss Harry Redknapp. “The Tottenham manager sent out this powerful message on Friday ahead of Remembrance Sunday: ‘Iâ€™m in favour of everybody wearing poppies. We keep seeing young lads in Afghanistan getting killed. Itâ€™s horrific. They are so brave. You look back over the years and the people weâ€™ve lost. Iâ€™ll wear the poppy with pride.'”
Heading to the continent, Pete Jenson investigates the troubles at Bayern Munich. “‘It is not true that we are going to sack [Louis] Van Gaal. The club will have patience with him until the winter break,’ Bayern Munich president Franz Beckenbauer was quoted as saying this week. It was a vote of confidence as unconvincing as the form of the 21-time winners of the Bundesliga.”
In the transfers, the Daily Mail claim “Ryan Shawcross has snubbed a move back to Manchester United by agreeing a new four-year deal at Stoke.” Next, John Cross toots the headline in the Mirror, “Robinho transfer exclusive: Barcelona flying in to thrash out Â£34million deal.”
Are Arsenal in the hunt for a new goalie? According to Jeremy Butler, “Manuel Almunia has been told by Arsene Wenger that he will remain Arsenalâ€™s No 1 goalkeeper.Â But as the Spaniard prepares to face Wolves today he may be interested in the rave review Wenger has given fellow Frenchman Hugo Lloris, the 22-year-old Lyon keeper who starred in the Champions League midweek frustration of Liverpool.” Staying with the Gunners, Sami Mokbel farts “Arsenal are planning for life without skipper Cesc Fabregas by lining up a Â£15m swoop for Germany playmaker Mesut Ozil.”
After impressing midweek in the Champions League against Manchester United, the Daily Mail report “Milos Krasic will hold talks with his bosses at CSKA Moscow next month after Sportsmail revealed Arsenal, Liverpool and Manchester City were tracking the Serbia international.”