Comment & analysis round-up
Quote of the day: “I think what I say one month ago. It’s December, then it’s Christmas and Christmas is for agents. They open their mouths for the world … I want this, the team wants that. Now is the month. Now maybe 15 players from Chelsea [go] outside and 15 come. If you ask me if I say any name, I say no… I don’t sleep with Didier and I’m not the policemen for my players.”” – Felipe Scolari.
Runner up: “Charles N’Zogbia is not going anywhere. He is still part of my plans and he still has a future at this football club, and talk of me granting him a transfer is not only incorrect, it is absolute rubbish. My aim, whatever time I have here, is to build up our squad and not to get rid our any of our first-team players. And speaking personally, I do not like to be told via the media that one of my players wants to leave.” – Joe Kinnear.
Today’s overview: After the turmoil at the Emirates over the last few days, the papers take stock of Arsenal’s win over Dynamo Kiev in the Champions League, while speculating if Didier Drogba is on his way to Inter Milan.
Arsenal’s style is mocked by Martin Samuel, writing “Arsenalâ€™s aversion to simplicity in the finish has reached almost comical proportions: on two occasions five minutes either side of half-time, good scoring chances were cleared by their own players in the six-yard box.” Henry Winter now predicts some calm will descend on North London, pointing out “the tempest has been whipped up largely by a debate on leadership, not on Wengerâ€™s undeniable capacity to shape Arsenalâ€™s future, but on whether sufficient mettle fills his young team.”
On William Gallas’ new role as just one of the squad, Dominic Fifield hopes that “liberated from responsibility, he might provide the assurance at the back that Arsenal have so lacked.” And finally on Arsenal, the Telegraph put two and two together to make five by taking quotes from Clarence Seedorf over his desire to play in England with that suggestion that “with Arsenal desperately short of experience in midfield, Arsene Wenger could view Seedorf as a shrewd short-term move.”
Looking ahead to Chelsea’s match with Bordeaux tonight and then Arsenal on Sunday, Martin Samuel suggests that “were results to go against Luiz Felipe Scolari in the next five days, it would represent the greatest emergency the club have faced since that moment last season when Avram Grant lost a late goal, two points and, on the touchline, temporarily, his marbles against Wigan at Stamford Bridge.”
The papers react to the claim that Didier Drogba met Jose Mourinho’s agent on Monday. John Ley claims (without any evidence) that “Chelsea are ready to swap Didier Drogba for Inter Milan’s Adriano.” And John Ley promotes his own interpretation of events by further writing that Scolari’s attempted rebuttal of the Drogba story “was not a convincing reply; clearly Drogba’s days at Chelsea are numbered.” Martin Lipton also believes Drogba could be on his bike, provided Chelsea can land “Adriano in exchange, as well as a second fellow Brazilian in CSKA Moscow’s Vagner Love.” The Adriano-Drogba swap deal is also referenced by Tony Banks in the Daily Express.
Pouring a large amount of cold water on rumours of Drogba’s imminent departure is Sam Wallace, who notes “there is still great scepticism at Chelsea that Drogba would be as bold as to request a move in January, especially as it would be unlikely that Internazionale could afford his wages.”
According to Jeremy Wilson, the latest revised Manchester City shopping list includes “John Terry, Kolo Toure and Gianluigi Buffon, the Italy goalkeeper. AC Milan’s Kaka is also understood to be a target, while Lassana Diarra, Roque Santa Cruz and Chelsea left-backs Ashley Cole and Wayne Bridge are being monitored.”
The Daily Mail publicise a new report into football violence in England that says “a total of 3,842 arrests were made during the 2007-08 season at all international and domestic games – a rise of 109 on the previous year. However, the rise in arrests came after attendances in England and Wales increased by one per cent to more than 37 million.” The Sun go a step further, naming and shaming those clubs with the most banning orders in 2008, being “1 Leeds 152, 2 Cardiff 136, 3 Millwall 117, 4 Portsmouth 91, 5 Wolves 85, 6 Aston Villa 82, 7 Coventry 79, 8 Man Utd 78, 9 Chelsea 78, 10 Birmingham 76.”
Mikey Stafford reports on UEFA’s trial of goalline referees whereby “the two extra assistants are charged with identifying foul play in the penalty area and patrol a limited space near the goal, on or just either side of the dead-ball line.”
In an offbeat article, Jonathon Wilson writes about his experience as being nominated for the William Hill author of the year award – “It’s just not easy to write about yourself, especially when you’re trying to be gracious, without sounding like the kind of person I’d usually want to punch in the face.” And John Nicholson explores life as a US Soccer fan – “Whether by phone-ins, goal highlights, podcasts, game reports or rather brilliant websites like F365, there is no need to rely on the TV anymore – which is just as well because, actual game coverage aside, the punditry/commentators/presenters are frequently cringe-worthy – references to ‘the onion bag’ are not uncommon.”