Comment & analysis round-up
Quote of the day: “Frankly I don’t know what to say. Thirty seconds to goâ€¦ It was really spectacular. I didn’t even know where to go. They told me to go to the stand but there was no way up to the stand. Just because I kicked a bottle of water â€“ I didn’t say a word to anybody. And it was quite a good kickâ€¦ It is difficult to take when we were the better team. It always is, no matter how long you are in football. We got punished on two goals and itâ€™s beyond belief. This team has a real future but it [the result] is difficult to swallow.” – Arsene Wenger.
Today’s overview: Did Wayne Rooney take a dive for Manchester United’s penalty against Arsenal?
Stirring up controversy,Rooney and Eduardo? Here, a striker went through, a goalkeeper dived at his feet, the striker launched himself enthusiastically, a penalty was given. Wenger, certainly, saw the parallels between how Rooney won the spot-kick from which he equalised in the 59th minute and the award given to Eduardo against Celtic on Wednesday in a Champions League tie.”
Following Arsene Wenger’s touchline dismissal at Old Trafford, Duncan White speculates that the Gunners’ boss may be served with a two-match ban from the FA for his conduct.
In a separate article though, Duncan White excuses some of Wenger’s frustrations by contesting that the north Londoners were denied a cast-iron penalty during that match. “Darren Fletcher, firefighter supreme, came sprinting across, slipped and absolutely flattened the Russian. It even looked like he handled the ball in committing the foul. A more certain penalty you will not see all season; Dean waved play on.” Also on the non-penalty Jim White wrote “[Arshavin] was denied a blatant penalty, when Fletcher removed his legs like a lumberjack assaulting a giant redwood.”
Eduardo’s dive continues to take up column inches this Sunday.
Refusing to let the incident die, Jonathan Northcroft makes the case that the forward’s nationality is a factor in the episode. “It is hard to escape the possibility Arsenalâ€™s horizontally inclined striker is paying for being a Brazilian-Croatian. Players tarred with the diver tag appear always to be foreign: Cristiano Ronaldo, Didier Drogba â€” and now Eduardo.” Elsewhere, Rod Liddle calls for referees to take a tough line to combat cheating. “A dive in the penalty area, or an attempt to get a player sent off for supposed violent conduct would, itself, be met with a straight red card.”
Against the backdrop of all the above-outlined cheating and professionalism, Henry Winter singles out Andrei Arshavin as the new icon of fair play. “As Eduardo was relentlessly booed by the Manchester United fans here for his cheating against Celtic, as Emmanuel Eboue was cautioned for an outrageous dive, Arshavin reminded everyone how the game should be played… In the often putrid world of professional football, Arshavin has been a breath of fresh air. He even smiles.”
Heading off on his own Arsenal tangent, Rob Draper injects some sensationalism into the Sundays by reporting that Fabregas could soon loeave the Emirates for Barca. “Wenger knows he has a problem. Last year he insisted that the club needed to tie Fabregas down to a long-term contract by the summer of 2009, because he feared the effect of FIFA’s transfer rule, Article 17, which states that a player who has served more than three years on his contract can resign from his club by simply paying up the value of his contract… unless a contract is signed in the next four months, Fabregas will be in control of his next move.”
Liverpool may have won at Bolton but it is still a case of the glass being half full forThis confirmed again the extent to which Liverpool are being made to rue the absence of Xabi Alonso, who for so long had established the rhythm of the side alongside Gerrard. His departure to Real Madrid is a bit like Michael Flatley leaving Riverdance.”
Chelsea’s tactics are thumbed over by the fourth estate.
Mikey Stafford argues that Carlo Ancelotti is succeeding tactically where past Chelsea managers have failed. “Some of Ancelotti’s predecessors were of the opinion that mountains would crumble and seas boil if Drogba and Anelka played on the same pitch – employing the Frenchman as quasi midfielder, on today’s evidence, would seem to be a most effective solution to what always seemed a rather vapid conundrum.” How should one describe the Chelsea formation? It was fluid but no mathematical formula could really do it justice… players popped up in attack in a bewildering kaleidoscope of movement… Was it a diamond or a Christmas tree formation?”
Staying with the Pensioners, Duncan White reports that “[John Terry] will earn close to Â£39million over five years when he finalises terms on a deal that is worth an estimated Â£150,000 per week.” The deal rises substantially in the Sunday Mirror, Paul Smith coughing that “John Terry has agreed a new five-year contract worth a staggering Â£50 million to commit his long-term future to Chelsea… Under the terms of his new arrangement Terry will pocket around Â£170,000 a week and become the highest paid player at the club.” And proving that nobody really knows the truth of Terry’s new contract, Neil Ashton offers a third option farting “Terry has signed a new five-year contract at Chelsea worth a staggering Â£40million. The England captain will be paid Â£160,000 a week at Stamford Bridge until the deal ends when he is 33.”
Looking to ratchet up some bad blood at the Bridge, Rob Draper penciled that “Peter Kenyon has expressed his frustration at the lack of young players the club produces.”
Evaluating some of Michel Platini’s latest initiatives to try and improve the beautiful game, Paul Wilson laments the Frenchman’s insistence that we need more referees and not technology to clean up football. “Platini’s extra men might help, but how many times will the new assistant find himself on the wrong side of the net to get a proper view? Will Uefa keep adding officials until eventually they outnumber the players?”
With the World Cup qualifiers just around the corner, Steve Tongue notes the likelihood of England naming three Coles in their starting lining-up.
The sands of time are running out in the transfer window as clubs are desperately scratching around for some crucial last minute purchases.
Even though Mark Janko will not be leaving Red Bull Salzburg for the Premier League, Rob Draper lies by linking the giant forward with Fulham, Blackburn, Hull and Wolves. In an equally unlikely story, the Mail on Sunday toot that “Wigan want to take Celtic striker Scott McDonald on a season-long loan, according to agent Willie McKay.” Another striker unlikely to be playing in the Premier League this year is Eider Gudjohnsen with Paul Smith reporting that the forward is set for Monaco after rejecting offers from England.
Aiden McGee suggests that “Arsene WengerÂ is lining up a move for 15-year-old Serbian starlet Veljko Batrovic, likened by many to Lionel Messi.” In other news, Steve Stammers bleats that “Arsene Wenger will make a final attempt to bring Marouane Chamakh to Arsenal before the transfer window closes.” Yet, according to the People, “West Ham are poised to sign Bordeaux striker Marouane Chamakh – after offering to treble his salary.”
The Mirror claim that “Blackburn are set to land Manchester City striker Benjani in Â£2million deal.” But Rovers could be set for a battle for Benjani, Ed Reynolds writing in the NOTW that “Portsmouth will attempt to push through a Â£6million double deal for Manchester City outcasts Tal Ben Haim and Benjani.” The south coasters are also planning “to bring in Manchester City’s Michael Johnson and Nicky Shorey from Aston Villa on loan deals” according to Scott Piecha.
Derek Hunter trumpets David James’ Portsmouth departure claiming “James could leave for Â£1.5million, with Tottenham, Sunderland and Stoke all primed to move.” Over in the NOTW, Chris Bacombe adds that “Harry Redknapp will make a last-ditch Â£2million bid to try and lure David James to Spurs.”
In the best of the rest, Bolton are set to sign Croatia striker Ivan Klasnic according to the People, Notts County are planning to overreach once more according to the NOTW with Sven Goran Eriksson set “to offer Freddie Ljungberg and Christian Vieri the chance to finish their playing careers at Notts County,” and Steve Bates barks that “Harry Redknapp is close to admitting defeat in his bid to sign Â£12million Brazilian sensation Sandro, but WILL go back for the player in January.”