Chelsea suffer from “London Bus syndrome” while opinions are divided on the strength of England’s youth

Comment & analysis round-up

Quote of the Day: “I tried to celebrate the goal and I received some things at me. The big mistake I did was to throw it [a coin] back so if someone was hurt I just want to apologise for it. This is not something I should show in a football match and I want to apologise. It was an incident in the heat of the moment and I regret it.” – Didier Drogba.

Runner-up: “The population [of Burnley] is 70,000 and to bring over 6,000 to London with the finances as they are now – money’s tight, people are missing a day’s work to come here and to give that level of support – I’m delighted for them. Regardless of how the shoot-out went I’d asked the players to reward the fans with a performance and they did that. The backing sounded like 30,000. It gives both the town and the football club a bit of prestige. We’re in the quarter-finals now and there are the financial rewards that go with that.” – Burnley manager, Owen Coyle.

Today’s overview: While paying lip-service to Didier Drogba’s coin-throwing foolishness, Chelsea’s defeat to Burnley is analysed by the papers this Thursday. While the other two topics focusing minds are the new drug measures to be introduced into football, and a divergence of opinion on the strength of England’s future stars.

After touching upon Didier Drogba’s coin throwing incident, it was dismal end to a calamitous night for the Barclays Premier League leaders… Chelsea have more reason than most to curse the spot-kick lottery as they lost on penalties for the fifth successive time.” The Blues’ poor record in penalties was also picked up by Mike Adamson, pointing out “this latest failure means Chelsea have not won a shoot-out in a competitive game for 10 years.” John Ley mocked the Blues saying “after starting the season unbeaten, Luiz Felipe Scolari has been introduced to the London Bus syndrome: wait ages for a defeat, then three come in quick succession.”

In a must-read article, the Guardian pick their top 20 English under-18s. “Fabian Delph 18 Ken Bates laughed off Newcastle United’s £1m bid for a dynamic talent currently not only making his mark in League One but who has just broken into Stuart Pearce’s England Under-21 squad. Arsenal and Manchester United are also seriously interested, but his value has risen closer to £6m.” David Hytner expands on the issue of English teenagers to point out that “Arsenal are far from the only club with rich English promise. The top Premier League outfits have gems in reserve while Leeds United, Crystal Palace and Southampton are among those to have struck gold of late.” Yet, believing that visions to promote excellence among young players and improve England’s chances are “suffering in a vacuum.”

Keeping with the kids, Jason Burt focuses on Jack Wilshere noting that while the 16-year-old “has been likened to Liam Brady which… [he is] more akin to Paul Gascoigne given the relish with which he runs with the ball and his distinctive style of doing so with his head up.” Simon Cass tells the tale of how the deal to sign Carlos Vela was sealed in a burger van.

An irate Lawrence Donegan picks apart the argument that football should not be constrained to new drug-testing measures. “Football does have a good record compared with other sports. But this is not an argument for less testing; rather it makes the case for more testing.” Straight-talking Harry Redknapp went on the record to say “other sports have tough anti-doping rules and I don’t see why football should be any different.” Fearing the screw-ups, Owen Slot is preparing himself for when “this ‘whereabouts’ system that is unwieldy, that employs armies of people and hours of time and that will undoubtedly penalise some of the wrong people.” Gabriele Marcotti however defends football’s angst against these new measures, arguing “football already has its own drug testing system. If it’s not good enough, improve it. But don’t let these crusaders who see pill-popping, drug-injecting evil behind every corner come in and screw things up.”

while the accepted attitude is that getting into the top four is virtually impossible, it’s not.” Sam Wallace reports on Fabio Capello’s desire to manager Team GB at the 2012 London Olympic Games. Louise Taylor has concerns about the forums in which fans air their thoughts and opinions. “Cyberspace and radio airwaves can be thought-provoking places but the highly critical, often mean-spirited, chatter generated across them sometimes conspires to inhibit our coaches, to cramp their inner tactical gambler.”

And finally, in a story likely to further tarnish his reputation, Anita Singh reports that “Ashley Cole is launching a privacy case against a newspaper group over allegations about his sex life.” Tom Cary comes to Cole’s defense however, saying “whether for Arsenal, Chelsea or England, he has rarely been found wanting.”