Comment & analysis round-up
Quote of the day: “Drogba’s departure was like an electric shock for us. He was a warrior. We’ve had to learn to cope without him because for many long years he was Chelsea’s lightning conductor. With Drogba we were conditioned to play in a certain way. You gave him the ball and you knew that he would at least force the opponent into a foul. In a way we had a tendency to rely on him too much but it was a natural mechanism. All the great players like getting the ball, Didier even more so. With Fernando it’s different. His runs aren’t the same. He’s not a funnel for our play like Drogba could be. He doesn’t like the holding-it-up role. He prefers finding space and facing the goal. When someone pays that much for you and you become the most expensive player in the Premier League, you are eager to please. Too eager, maybe. Especially Fernando, because he’s a very humble guy who knows where he comes from and understands the value of money. For me, he is still one of the best strikers in the world.” – Juan Mata.
Runner-up: “If we win, it will be one of our best-ever results. They are a really good, powerful team with massive players… At this time in the season you cannot really say it’s a two-horse race. If you think back we were 12 points behind Chelsea at one point and when Arsenal beat us in the League in 1998 we were 11 points clear.” – Sir Alex Ferguson.
Euro 2020: A Full Continental Experience
Wembley put forward for Euro 2020 final after UEFA confirm championship will be played all over the continent (Mail) The FA will campaign to host the Euro 2020 final at Wembley after UEFA confirmed their controversial plan to stage the tournament in up to 13 cities across the continent. Scotland, Wales and Ireland will bid to be involved in the tournament but Wembley — with its 90,000 capacity, modern design and corporate facilities — is a strong contender to stage the final.
Euro 2020 to be hosted across Europe, Uefa announces (Guardian) Uefa has confirmed its controversial plan to hold the 2020 European Championship in an array of cities across the continent, leaving the door open for a potential final at Wembley and group-stage matches in Scotland, Wales and the Republic of Ireland. Michel Platini, the Uefa president, first revealed his plans for a pan-European tournament in June and Uefa’s executive committee voted in favour at a meeting in Lausanne on Thursday.
Is Uefa right to stage Euro 2020 across the continent? (Guardian) Spreading the tournament around will also alleviate the financial and logistical demands on one or two host nations. Portugal is still struggling after they spent £400m on stadiums for the tournament in 2004. The infrastructure is already in place for matches in host cities such as London, Paris and Madrid. There would be little additional cost to that host country in preparing for the championship. Platini’s idea might suit Uefa and the various football associations, but is it good for fans? It is more inclusive and should give smaller associations a chance to host games. But travelling to a championship gives fans a chance spend time in a particular place and take in their football culture. Basing a championship in a single country gives it an identity and makes travelling easy. What do you think of Uefa’s decision?
More pointless expense piled on to fans (Independent) The problem is that attending international tournaments, even those in Europe, is starting to be as grandiose and expensive as attending the America’s Cup. How can a pan-European championship even be called a tournament when it lacks the flavour of one or two host nations?
The Manchester Derby: City v United
Premier League? You’ve got to be kidding, Mancini (Sun) We are in danger of falling into a dangerous trap here. One encouraged by the people who run the Premier League and all employed within it. The belief that English football — swimming in obscene amounts of TV money that goes straight into the offshore bank accounts of players and agents — is in vibrant, pink-cheeked health. It’s not. If anything, the Premier League bubble has burst.
Chelsea’s SuperBowl Rings
Didier dishes out £800,000 bling (Sun) Didier Drogba has given his old Chelsea team-mates rings worth in excess of £800,000. The Blues legend handed out the jewellery to commemorate their Champions League triumph in May. But Fernando Torres and sacked boss Roberto Di Matteo were no-shows for the Chelsea Harbour Hotel event hosted by Drogba. The gold rings were specially designed with diamonds and sapphires. Every player’s name and squad number was also inscribed, along with the date they defeated Bayern Munich and the score.
Drogba hosts party for Chelsea players to celebrate last season’s Champions League triumph… but Torres is a no show (Mail) Spanish striker Torres, who is attempting to fill Drogba’s boots at the club, was not in attendance. However his son Leo turned two today and so he may have had an excuse for not showing up. Juan Mata and Petr Cech were also unable to make it to the event.
Celtic For the EPL?
Come on down! Why it’s time for Celtic, and the rest of the SPL, to play in the English league (Mirror) Keep the Premier League as it is. In fact, keep the Championship as it is, too. Draft the top four clubs from the SPL into League One, the next four into League Two and the next four into the newly-created League Three. It might be seen as rather humbling for Celtic and Rangers to begin with, but my bet is that they would accept it. And admitting all 12 SPL teams into the English divisions would ease Rangers’ and Celtic’s exit from Scottish football and their entrance into the game south of the border. If they worked their way up to the Premier League, they would have their places there on merit. There would be drama in their ascension and there would be cash, too. For Scottish and English football. Let’s not pretend England’s lower leagues don’t need help. They do, desperately.
Why it pains me to say it is time for Arsene Wenger to leave Arsenal (Robbie Savage, Mirror) Although it feels like sacrilege to say so, I fear Arsene Wenger’s reign at Arsenal may have run its course. I don’t like saying it, I don’t want it to happen, I hope I’m wrong – but I do know they can’t go on like this. The boos after Saturday’s home defeat by Swansea, where Arsenal were outplayed, suggest the fans who want Wenger to step down are no longer an irrational minority. They are fed up with winning nothing and the Gunners may have reached a tipping point.
Fergie riles Mancini as United boss swoops to pinch City’s £20m transfer targets (Mail) Sportsmail can reveal that Manchester United chief executive David Gill flew to Croatia on Tuesday for talks about signing Dinamo Zagreb’s £15million-rated teenage sensation Alen Halilovic. Mindful of Ferguson’s need for more defensive cover, Gill also enquired about 20-year-old right back Sime Vrsaljko and could now follow up with an audacious £20m double deal for two of Croatia’s hottest prospects.
PSG line up £5m bid to bring Evra back home (Independent) Manchester United are set to be tempted by a £5m bid from Paris St-Germain for Patrice Evra, which would allow them to recoup virtually their entire outlay on a defender who is no longer reaching the heights of previous seasons.
Arsenal confident of luring Palace starlet Zaha ahead of £9m January bid (Mail) Arsenal are growing increasingly confident they have won the race to land Crystal Palace wonderkid Wilfried Zaha.
Chase is on to grab kid Cab (Sun) Arsenal and Manchester United are tracking Montpellier midfielder Remy Cabella. The £5million-rated ace, 22, is close to winning a first French cap.
Villa’s Boat comes in (Sun) Aston Villa are eyeing Ghana star Derek Boateng. Boss Paul Lambert believes the midfielder, 29, who is impressing at Ukrainian side Dnipro, will boost his young side.
Newcastle ready to make January move for West Ham midfielder Diame (Mail) Newcastle have emerged as leading contenders for West Ham midfielder Momo Diame should he leave in January. The 25-year-old has a release clause of £3.5million. Arsenal have also shown interest in the Senegal international but their main priority is a striker with Schalke’s Klaas Jan Huntelaar top of their list.
Spurs set to miss out on Fernandinho as Brazilian eyes Manchester move (Mail) Tottenham target Fernandinho has claimed he is ready to move to Manchester next month. The 27-year-old Brazil international, who has impressed during Shakhtar Donetsk’s Champions League campaign, said: ‘I am closing a deal with an English club. I will play in Manchester in January.’
Espinoza set to quit MLS for Wigan in January (Mirror) Wigan are getting their January transfer business underway early this year after Roberto Martinez confirmed they are set to sign MLS star Roger Espinoza.
Gallas In Police Trouble
Footie star William Gallas in wife row cop probe (Sun) Police were last night probing claims Spurs star William Gallas was involved in a bust-up with his wife — where she fell into a hedge. A witness told cops he saw the £3.2million-a-year French defender, 35, having a slanging match with wife Nadege in front of their home. Nadege, 31, fell into the hedge and an ambulance was called to take her to hospital for treatment.