Transfer trouble: Arshavin to Arsenal, while the battles for Shay Given & Jermain Defoe kick-off

Comment & analysis round-up

Quote of the day: “The funny thing is Rick [Ricardo Fuller] and Griff [Andy Griffin] get on very well. They even had a party over Christmas at which they exchanged shirts. But Rick is a very volatile person and I can’t condone what he did. I’ve watch the incident on TV and he walks up and clips him on the chin. I’ll have a team meeting on Monday and I’ll deal with him then.” – Tony Pulis.

Runner-up: “I couldn’t even put into words what I thought of [Steve Tanner’s] performance. I’ll be honest with you, I walked into the referee’s room before the game and saw who was refereeing and I really knew what was coming. I’ve had him many times before and I know what he’s like. He’s really not good enough. He’s just a poor referee and I’ve seen him make a mess of so many games before that it didn’t surprise me. I don’t complain about referees. I never, ever walk in after a game and complain about a referee. I haven’t done for years. But this guy today was scary. He’s not up to the Premier League.” – Harry Redknapp.

Today’s overview: With just three days before the transfer window potential transfer are being thrown around the papers, with Arsene Wenger set to bring in a new midfielder while battles for Shay Given and Jermain Defoe appear to have broken out.

Arsenal will move for Andrei Arshavin according to David Hytner quoting Arsene Wenger’s admission that “I need a creative midfielder and eventually another midfielder, because we are short.” Shay Given could also be heading for the Emirates, with Michael Walker reporting that “Arsenal have again been linked with the 32-year-old goalkeeper… but there is also sustained interest from Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester City.”

Another transfer on the cards is Jermain Defoe’s return to Tottenham, with Sam Wallace noting that the striker was omitted from the Pompey team yesterday and “Tottenham are understood to be preparing a bid worth around £15m for the player.” However the Lilywhites will face competition from Aston Villa, Colin Young claiming “cash-strapped Portsmouth are preparing to sell England striker Jermain Defoe to Aston Villa in a £16million deal that will spark a January transfer window spree.” According to the Mirror, should Villa miss out on Defoe “Martin O’Neill will move for Spurs’ Darren Bent… while O’Neill is also lining up a £5m offer for Newcastle winger Charles N’Zogbia.”

Staying on the transfer front, Simon Jones links Manchester City with “a combined offer of £15million to try to prise Craig Bellamy and Scott Parker from Upton Park,” while the Telegraph’s Rory Smith lists his top 10 transfer targets for the Premier League.

Louise Taylor is less than charitable in her assessment of why Mike Ashley has taken Newcastle off the market, writing “the reality is that, having failed to sell Newcastle, the sports retailer is pretty much stuck with the club.” nvestment will be necessary in January. Beyond that, some humility and further communication are required.”

Focusing on Manchester United’s title challenge, Oliver Kay points out that “of United’s 21 remaining matches – three more than Liverpool or Chelsea – no fewer than 12 will be played at Old Trafford, while their nine away games look eminently winnable, having already visited Anfield, Stamford Bridge, the Emirates Stadium and Villa Park.”

Duncan White looks forward to 10 highlights in 2009, including “The Champions League final, May 27 Can English football retain its stranglehold on the most prestigious club competition in the world?” The Times’ Oliver Kay also makes his predictions for 2009. “The end of Beckham’s international career (surely this time); more of the same shenanigans with Ronaldo and Real; more of the same hollow moral victories for Wenger; another trophy, along with a relegation battle, for Tottenham; Liverpool to wave goodbye to Statler and Waldorf and to go right to the wire in the title race; McClaren to continue his rehabilitation with Twente before returning to the Premier League in 2010.”

Finally,notion of League XIs has never taken off. “Imagine Fernando Torres, Cristiano Ronaldo and Wayne Rooney up front, with Steven Gerrard and Cesc Fàbregas in midfield. Picture those players taking on La Liga, with Samuel Eto’o, Lionel Messi and Arjen Robben. Or Serie A with Kaká, Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Gianluigi Buffon. Think of the revenues and global attention that such an extravaganza would generate. It’s enough to get anybody’s mouth watering. Or is it?”