Liverpool (even the Kop was almost too embarrassed), Chelsea (a painful reality check) & Arsenal (a powder-puff side with a soft centre) all come in for criticism

Comment & analysis round-up

Quote of the day: “The brave one is not the one who tackles from behind the player who tries to play football. That is the coward. All of the players have been injured deliberately. Do you think [Rory] Delap tried to play the ball when he tackled Walcott? Or that [Ryan] Shawcross tried to play the ball when he tackled Adebayor off the pitch? If Walcott is in front of me, do you think I am stupid? I know he is three times quicker than I am and I still tackle him from behind? Do you really think I try to play the ball? You think that I am in football for 30 years and I do not see [whether] the intention is to play the ball or not?” – Arsene Wenger.

Runner-up: “I can understand their disappointment because of the timing of it. If it had happened at the other end, we would have been livid. But that’s football and we have to move on. It was a big result for us. Good teams don’t usually lose two games in a row, so it was important we got something.” – Steven Gerrard.

Today’s overview: After a disappointing night in the Champions League for the Premier League, a negativity is present throughout the papers questioning the fortunes of Liverpool, Chelsea, and Arsenal.

Liverpool’s unconvincing performance in the Champions League left Andy Hunter questioning the Reds lack of quality, whose “absence in too many areas will trouble Rafael Benitez regardless of the reprieve they were gifted by referee Martin Hansson last night.” Commenting on Gerrard’s controversial last-gasp penalty, Sam Wallace wrote that “even the Kop was almost too embarrassed to appeal.”

Moving onto Chelsea’s defeat in Rome, Dominic Fifield called the result “a painful reality check,” Matt Hughes commented that “Didier Drogba and Nicolas Anelka’s future as a partnership is even less promising than that of Russell Brand and Jonathan Ross,” Oliver Brown announced that “the firm foundations on which this team are built have started to creak,” while Jason Burt took a more pragmatic approach writing “two defeats in four games? It is not a crisis at Chelsea but it is suddenly a lot less comfortable.” The harshest criticism is served by Peter Bills, who penned that “Chelsea were embarrassed by their own words just as their ultimately modest and ineffective football humbled them in this famous stadium.”

slammed Stoke City for their physical approach when he should really be asking himself why he has built a powder-puff Arsenal side with a soft centre. That’s the real problem.” Oliver Kay waded into the debate, arguing that a flawed transfer policy has left Arsene Wenger open to scrutiny. And the negativity continues with Perry Groves, who writes off Arsenal’s Premier League hopes saying “if you lose to Fulham, Hull and Stoke you are not going to win the Premier League.”

Fallout from Newcastle’s win on Monday night continues, as Ian Edwards reports on Aston Villa’s pursuit of evidence to show that “[Joey] Barton racially abused [Gabi] Agbonlahor in a first-half confrontation.” Robin Perrie and David Willetts EXCLUSIVELY report on the root of the trouble, reporting “Joey Barton was yesterday accused of calling a black player ‘big lips’ during a bust-up.” The Daily Mail’s Hatchet Man (how can they still publish this tripe!) blows matters out of proportion farting “it doesn’t matter whether he is shoving someone’s nose or jumping into tackles studs showing, Barton has an anger problem. The football field is the wrong place for him to try to deal with it and Newcastle are clearly the wrong club to help him handle it.”

Joel Richards goes to the Church of Maradona before summarising the various opinions on Diego’s appointment as national team coach. “Alfredo Di Stéfano believes that Diego has the ‘strength, combative spirit and reputation’ to succeed. Franz Beckanbauer said that with this job Maradona ‘could get his life back on track’. Pele, predictably, warned ‘not every great player is a great manager’, while fellow Brazilian Zico went so far as to say Argentina could win the World Cup with Maradona at the helm. Perhaps Argentina’s leap of faith could pay off. God willing.” Rob Hughes remains unconvinced by the appointment (“We know already that Maradona’s genius was flawed in so many ways. He was seduced by childhood acclaim, by mountains of money thrown at his feet, by drugs and by a lifetime surrounded by sycophancy.”) And staying in South America, Ashley Gray blogs about six of the top rising talents emerging from the continent.

Lastly, Martin Samuel adopts fashion lingo to undermine Beckham’s move to Milan. “Beckham may be heading for the fashion capital of Europe but, on this evidence, he is about as necessary and vital there as a nice set of leather elbow patches. Suit you, sir? Maybe, but he doesn’t suit them.”