Arsenal linked with January move for Llorente or Lopez, Chelsea or City will have to pay £48m for Falcao & Rooney set for midfield role v San Marino

Comment & analysis round-up

Quote of the day: “John is a great centre-half, a great servant to his country, an inspiration and a very passionate and proud Englishman. It’s a shame we’ve lost him as he’s still got so much ability. It’s a big blow, but it’s John’s decision. I don’t know what’s going on in John’s life on or off the field. I don’t know his body or his frame of mind. I only know that, when I’m here with England, training and eating chicken and pasta next to him, he’s a really good guy, a good person and, football-wise, an inspiration. He was someone who, when I first came to the squad, treated me just the same as he does now. When I first came into the squad as a third-choice goalkeeper with no chance of playing, he treated me the same as he does now. I can’t thank him enough for how helpful he’s been with me in the England squad and he’s someone I respect very, very much on and off the field. He was great to me and the other players.” – Joe Hart.

Runner-up: “When I grew up in France, I wanted to play for the French team. That was my target, my dream, and I don’t think this is the same for young players in England. I don’t understand how come so many young players from the age of 16 to 21 pull out of the national teams through injury. Maybe this is a lack of love for the national team. I don’t think the young players are dreaming of playing for England, I believe in England they are not as proud as they used to be.” – Patrick Vieira.

England v San Marino

Goals, goals, goals! Hodgson set to pick a team packed with attacking menace (Martin Lipton, Daily Mirror) Roy Hodgson will tell his England team to go for goals galore against San Marino – to reward the astonishing 90,000 Wembley fans for their loyalty. Hodgson is ready to play Aaron Lennon and either Theo Walcott or Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain out wide, supported by flying full-backs Kyle Walker and Leighton Baines, with Ashley Cole expected to be kept in reserve for next week’s tough test in Poland. Wayne Rooney will also return, although Hodgson has yet to decide whether he will start with the heavy artillery of Andy Carroll or the rapier thrust of Jermain Defoe – he could even play the Manchester United man behind a front two.

Lampard’s injury opens up midfield chance for Rooney (Sam Wallace, Independent) Frank Lampard is Roy Hodgson’s only injury doubt for the World Cup qualifier against San Marino tomorrow at Wembley as the England manager ponders using Wayne Rooney in the midfield role he has played for Manchester United of late. Lampard, who is nursing a knee injury, played a small part in training at St George’s Park before the squad travelled yesterday to the Grove hotel in Hertfordshire, where they will be based ahead of the game. They will train at Arsenal’s London Colney this morning.

Kyle Walker ready to make England impact alongside his Steel City hero (Dom Fieild, Guardian) “He was at the club when they went up to the Premiership and I signed my scholarship, but he moved on to Everton just as I was coming through. I’ve never told him he was a hero of mine, so don’t make his head too big, but to come here and play with him, to sit with and eat with him is an honour. Sometimes he tries to get me a bowl of soup at dinner and I have to say to him: ‘You can’t be doing that. Let me get you some soup.’ Just sitting next to him having dinner’s pretty good.”

Shearer: England must pick Ash (even if he’s a Twit) (Mark Irwin, Sun) “He’s been our best-ever left-back and it will be a shame if he’s only remembered for the things he’s done off the pitch rather than for all the things he’s done on it. “I’m pretty sure that Roy Hodgson will think Ashley is our best option and I think he’ll play him on Friday because he can offer so much going forward against a team like San Marino.”

San Marino’s Davide Gualtieri recalls the pain his goal caused England (Jonathan Wilson, Guardian) Davide Gualtieri’s goal, jabbed in after Stuart Pearce’s fluffed back-pass had exposed David Seaman, remains the fastest in World Cup history. England came back to win 7-1 and with the Dutch winning 3-1 in Poznan it did not matter that they fell one goal short of the required margin. That goal, though, stands as a defining image of an era of haplessness for English football: if England could go behind to a minnow that had been a Uefa member for only three years, it felt, there really was no hope. 

Michael Owen admits he dived. Kind of.

‘I am guilty too’: Owen enters diving debate with double World Cup confession (Darren Lewis, Daily Mirror) Michael Owen has admitted to going down easily to win penalties for England at successive World Cups. The 32-year-old striker, now at Stoke, blew the diving and cheating debate wide open with his revelation. He made it in front of referee Pierluigi Collina, the man who officiated at the 2002 quarter-final when Owen went to ground. Owen said: “I have been guilty as well, I played at the 1998 World Cup against Argentina and I was running flat out, got a nudge, went down. “Could I have stayed up? Yes, probably. “Then four years later you [Collina] gave me a penalty again against Argentina. “Again, I could have stayed on my feet. The defender’s caught me and I did have a decent gash down my shin from it but I could have stayed up.”

Diving’s apologists are so twisted by loyalty they can’t see right from wrong (Oliver Holt, Daily Mirror) 

Arsenal target Llorente & Lopez

Llorente and Lopez top Arsenal hitlist as Wenger concedes he must replace Van Persie in January (Sami Mokbel, Daily Mail) Arsene Wenger will open his chequebook to land Robin van Persie’s long-term successor when the transfer window re-opens. The Arsenal manager has instructed his global network of scouts to start identifying realistic forward targets the club can go for in January. And Wenger, together with his backroom team, will hold a series of technical meetings where those players identified will be discussed and formalised into a shortlist. Wenger has in the region of £35million to splash at the turn of the year and has made a new world-class centre-forward his top priority.

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger aims to sign new striker in January transfer window (Jeremy Wilson, Daily Telegraph) Although encouraged at how the goals have been spread more evenly around the team this season, Wenger would ideally still like further back-up to Olivier Giroud as the main centre-forward in his 4-2-3-1 system. Wenger has specifically told his scouts to be on the look-out for potential new attacking options over the coming months, with Fernando Llorente, Adrián López, Robert Lewandowski and Stevan Jovetic among those being monitored.

Radamal Falcao

Sign cheque for £48m and Falcao’s yours! Atletico name price to City and Chelsea (Daily Mail) Radamel Falcao will be allowed to leave Atletico Madrid if either Manchester City or Chelsea stump-up the £48million demanded by by the club’s chiefs in Spain. City boss Roberto Mancini flew to Spain to check on the striker at the weekend. And the Italian saw the Colombian hotshot score his eighth goal of the La Liga season as Atletico beat Malaga 2-1. In-demand Falcao scored 36 goals last season and the fee received for his transfer would clear the club’s mounting debts.

Manchester City and Chelsea on Falcao alert after Atlético Madrid place £48m price tag on Colombia striker (Daily Telegraph) The Colombian who is due to face Paraguay in a World Cup qualifier this weekend has been the subject of transfer talk for some time and was heightened this week after Roberto Mancini, the Manchester City manager, travelled to the Spanish capital on Sunday. Chelsea are also understood to be interested in the player who underlined his billing as one of the world’s leading strikers by scoring a hat-trick against the European Cup winners in the Uefa Super Cup in August. Previously, though, Atlético president Enrique Cerezo had played down suggestions that Falcao was not for sale.

Manchester United’s diamond formation

Fergie’s found a diamond (Neil Custis, Sun) Alex Ferguson believes he has come across a diamond that could bring Manchester United silver this season. The formation has sparkled in the Capital One Cup against Newcastle, away to Cluj in Europe and in a 3-0 win over the Magpies last Sunday. The hat-trick of wins has come with four in the centre of midfield that has squeezed the play, pressed the opposition and allowed Wayne Rooney to shine. On Sunday Newcastle simply could not get the ball off United as the four of Michael Carrick at the base, Tom Cleverley on the left point, Shinji Kagawa the right and Rooney at the top interchanged short passes.

Vidic not going anywhere

Vidic plans United stay (Sun) Nemanja Vidic has no interest in leaving Manchester United, according to his agent. The United skipper, 30, is recovering from a knee operation after playing five matches this season. He started just 16 games all last season with a similar knee problem. Vidic’s representitive Silvano Martina said: “Vidic is not playing at this time because he has had surgery. “He is only thinking about his recovery and not about the transfer market.”

Swansea strife

Swansea manager Laudrup facing a players’ rebellion after secret meetings (Neil Ashton & Riath Al- Samarrai, Daily Mail) Michael Laudrup is on a collision course at Swansea after key players held a series of secret meetings with chairman Huw Jenkins about the Dane’s management methods. Despite being 11th in the Barclays Premier League, Laudrup is facing a rebellion among his  senior stars after three months at the club. The latest meeting between chairman and players took place last week as frustrations began to boil over before their 2-2 Premier League home draw against Reading last Saturday.

The Rooneys are expecting!

‘Bursting with excitement’: Coleen Rooney announces she and Wayne are expecting a sibling for Kai (Emily Sheridan, Daily Mail)Coleen Rooney has announced she is pregnant with her second child. The TV presenter and husband, Manchester United footballer Wayne Rooney revealed on Twitter they are expecting a sibling for their son Kai, who turns three next month. The brunette, 26, is still in her first trimester and is expecting to give birth in May. Writing on her Twitter page, Coleen gushed: ‘A few people guessed, so news is out ha!! Me, Wayne and Kai are thrilled that we are expecting a new addition to our family around May time x. ‘It’s still only early but bursting with excitement! Also wanted the news to come from us, before anyone else!’