Comment & analysis round-up
Quote of the day: “He rolled on his ankle. There is a lot of pain, but hopefully it is not as bad as it could have been. Gareth has torn that ligament before. There is lots of swelling. There is a possibility he is going to be able to make it for the Manchester City game (on April 21). We recognise the form the player is in and the squad will step up a level for his absence. Key players are always missed but we have played without him before.” – Andre Villas Boas.
Runner-up: “I’m pleased for Fernando, not just for his goals but for his contribution to the team. We always talk about strikers needing to score goals for their confidence and you could see that with Fernando tonight. I never had any doubts about his work-rate or his movement. But you could see his touch was better after his first goal because of the confidence he had. People were saying he hadn’t scored since this day or that one but he has now scored 19 goals this season and I’m sure he will get more.” – Rafa Benitez.
Spurs’ Season Over? Bale Out
Bale KO (Pat Sheenan, Sun) Gareth Bale’s horror injury last night threw Tottenham’s season into crisis. The Welsh wonder was carried off in stoppage time of this Europa League draw, having rolled his right ankle. It is feared the winger could miss the rest of the campaign. And TV pundit Gareth Southgate warned: “The best scenario he’s looking at is that it’s ankle ligaments and four to six weeks out.”
André Villas-Boas says Gareth Bale injury is ‘hopefully not too bad’ (David Hytner, Guardian) Villas-Boas revealed that the initial diagnosis was positive. The manager said that the TV replays and pictures had made it look worse than it was and that, although Bale stood to miss the Premier League visit of Everton on Sunday and next Thursday’s return leg against Basel, he could return for the league fixture at Manchester City on 21 April. Tottenham’s trip to Chelsea, which was scheduled for Sunday week, has been postponed due to their rivals’ involvement in the FA Cup semi-final with City.
Bale agony as Spurs face losing star man for crunch run-in after nasty ankle injury (Laura Williamson, Mail) Gareth Bale will have a scan on the ankle injury today which threatens to derail Tottenham’s season… Villas-Boas’s side came back from two goals down but finished the game with only nine men. Defender William Gallas limped off with a muscle injury after Villas-Boas had made his three substitutions and Bale followed minutes later. Aaron Lennon was also forced off in the first half with a knee injury and Villas-Boas explained: ‘Gallas has a small tear on his calf. Lennon has a problem with his knee joint. With Jermain Defoe out of that game with a pelvic muscle strain, Bale’s injury leaves Tottenham short of options up front.
Chelsea 3 – Kazan 1
Masked avenger Fernando Torres answers his critics with brace (Sam Wallace, Independent) As a man so superstitious he did not cut his hair on one goalscoring run, perhaps Fernando Torres will feel the need to persevere with that protective mask of his even when his broken nose has healed… That takes his total to 18 for the season, including the Community Shield, which puts him level with Juan Mata as joint top goalscorer at the club. It could be worse. As for Chelsea they will be frustrated at the goal they conceded, a soft penalty awarded against John Terry by the Italian referee Gianluca Rocchi.
John Terry, once Chelsea’s beating heart, has become their appendix (Sean Ingle, Guardian) This was Chelsea’s 55th game of 2012-13 but Terry has played in only 21 – a steep decline for someone for whom 50-game seasons have been the norm in every campaign but one since 2002-03. Partly that is due to the knee injury that kept him out from mid-November to late January – 16 first-team games in all – but it is also a reflection of his waning talents and influence. The man who was Chelsea’s beating heart has become their appendix.
Victor Moses and Ryan Bertrand pass their auditions for roles in busy run-in for Chelsea (Simon Johnson, Independent) If Chelsea are to successfully achieve their three targets of finishing in the top four, as well as winning the FA Cup and Europa League, then it will depend on their spare parts as much as the main engine room to deliver… Only Benyaoun, as has been the case since he joined from Liverpool in 2010, failed his audition and was largely anonymous throughout, apart from one fancy flick in the build-up to Chelsea’s third.
Yaya: Signing On At City
Toure signs new Man City contract (Anthony Kastrinakis, Sun) Yaya Toure has today penned a new four-year deal at Manchester City — just like Sunsport told you he would this morning. I can reveal the towering midfielder has finally SIGNED a new contract worth around £11million a year. It comes just two weeks after his agent Dimitri Seluk warned Manchester City that Toure was ready to quit the club in the summer unless they sorted out his situation quickly.
Yes to Yaya! Toure vows to continue making history as he agrees new £45m, four-year deal at City (Ian Ladyman, Mail) The midfielder, 29, finally signed a deal worth more than £200,000 a week after months of negotiations with the defending champions.
Sex, Drugs, Hookers & Football
Prem Star’s Hooker Shame (Ed Riley, Star) The secret drug and booze binge shame of Premier League stars is to be revealed in a tell-all book. Players regularly enjoy cocaine-fuelled sex romps with high-class hookers, sniffing Class A drugs off women’s bodies, according to the author. The book, written by a former Premier League star, includes tales of young vice girls invited to team hotels during away matches. He claims winners of training ground drills are offered the reward of sex with prostitutes like Jenny Thompson, 23, and Helen Wood, 24, who claim to have bedded a string of players. Titled Speler X, translated from Dutch as Player X, the book is set to send shock-waves through the game.
Liverpool and Newcastle in talks over Andy Carroll for Hatem Ben Arfa swap (David Maddock, Mirror) Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers is ready to send Andy Carroll back to Newcastle – in a swap deal involving Hatem Ben Arfa. France international Ben Arfa and is one of three attacking midfield players Rodgers is looking at as potential summer recruits for the Reds.
PSG Chase Bac
PSG eye Bac bid (Sun) Bacary Sagna will be a summer target for Paris Saint-Germain — and Arsenal are already eyeing his replacement… PSG will bid around £8million for Sagna, 30, and Gunners boss Arsene Wenger has £5m Sochaux right-back Sebastien Corchia, 22, at the top of his wanted list.
Bayer Buying Bruyne?
Schurrle he’ll sign (Sun) Chelsea are set to offer Bayer Leverkusen £12m plus Kevin de Bruyne to land Andre Schurrle… Chelsea are also ready to send keeper Thibaut Courtois, 20, on loan to a Premier League club next season. Fulham, Wigan and Southampton are all after him.
Schalke Target Moyes
Schalke wait to pounce for Moyes at end of season if talks over new deal at Everton falter (Chris Wheeler, Mail) David Moyes is back at the top of Schalke’s wanted list as the German club prepare to appoint a new manager this summer — with Celtic’s Neil Lennon a strong candidate to replace the Scot if he leaves Everton. It was thought Moyes had slipped behind Armin Veh in the Schalke running until the Eintracht Frankfurt coach signed a new deal last week. Moyes, 49, has put off talks over a new deal until the end of the season and is keen to hear what Schalke have to offer.