Is Chelsea’s case vs Clattenburg falling apart, Arsenal’s magical win at Reading, Manchesters United & City battle for Isco

Comment & analysis round-up

Quote of the day: “I am disgusted at what has gone on. I am on Mark Clattenburg’s side because I think he’s made a mistake with the sending-off of Fernando Torres — but Chelsea are trying to kill him because of that. And I don’t agree with that at all. We ask referees to deal with it and man-manage and that’s what Clattenburg does. I’m sure he might have said a few things but if Chelsea had won that match there would not have been one iota of complaint. So if whatever the Chelsea players alleged that Mark said is proved to be wrong, I hope they get done.” – Neil Warnock.

Runner-up: “It may be one of my greatest victories during my time here. We went from disaster to salvaging our pride. You cannot play for Arsenal and give up — no matter what the score is. The players understood at half-time they could not go out again with the same performance. We just had hope but it didn’t look like it was going to come off. But at least we got our disastrous first half out of our system. In the second half we created chance after chance but, with 89 minutes gone, it was still 4-2. We needed two goals and the miracle happened. I don’t remember anything like our first half in my time here.” – Arsene Wenger.

The Evidence Against Clattenburg… Is There Any?

Ref is alleged to have called black Chelsea star Mikel ‘monkey’ (Sun) Two Chelsea players say they heard race-row referee Mark Clattenburg call Blues’ star John Obi Mikel a “monkey”… Clattenburg vehemently denies making any racist jibe and is confident he will be cleared by match officials, who heard his every word through a microphone headset.

Justice must be done quickly (Steven Howard, Sun) The landscape seemed to be changing yesterday and undermining Chelsea’s 100 per cent support of their players. First was the suggestion that Mikel himself heard NO racial slur. That he only stormed into the referee’s room at the end of the game after having the accusations passed on to him by team-mates Ramires and David Luiz. But yesterday Luiz was intimating that he was never close enough to either Mikel or Clattenburg to hear anything. There is also a grey area about Ramires’ grasp of English, compounded by the fact Clattenburg talks with a Geordie brogue. Further were the claims of Chelsea midfielder Oriol Romeu to a Spanish radio station that Mata — allegedly called a “Spanish t**t” by Clattenburg — did not hear anything, either. Suddenly what Chelsea believe to be a water-tight case could be springing a few leaks.

Chelsea race case against Clattenburg in jeopardy with Mikel facing disrepute charge (Neil Ashton, Mail) Chelsea’s race case against Mark Clattenburg is in danger of collapsing after it emerged that the club have employed independent lawyers to investigate the claims of their players… If the case breaks down, it will reflect badly on Chelsea, who made their claims of inappropriate language against Clattenburg in a strongly worded statement on Sunday, two hours after the final whistle.

Chelsea face referee backlash if accusations are baseless (Sam Wallace, Independent) The mood among select group referees, and their assistants, after the events of the last three days is one of disbelief that such havoc could be wreaked on a referee’s career on the say-so of Premier League footballers.

Neil Warnock: Chelsea want to “kill” referee Mark Clattenburg (Sun) Neil Warnock has accused Chelsea of trying to “kill’ Mark Clattenburg because they lost to Manchester United on Sunday… Warnock’s view is shared by a number of Clattenburg’s refereeing colleagues, who want the FA to bring charges against Chelsea if their complaint is thrown out.

Chelsea the accusers cannot afford to get this one wrong (Daniel Taylor, Guardian) It is a divisive, complex matter and what it does not need is knee-jerk judgment from people professing to know more than they do. Which is why Neil Warnock’s comments were so bone-headed. “I have to say I am disgusted with what’s gone on,” the Leeds United manager said. “I’m on Mark Clattenburg’s side. They are trying to kill him and I don’t agree with that at all.” It’s a nonsense. Warnock could criticise his own club, perhaps, for wrongly accusing another referee, Danny McDermid, of using foul language to their then manager, Dennis Wise, in 2007 (a charge the FA threw out) but if Chelsea have authentic reasons to believe one of their players was called a “monkey” and another a “Spanish twat”, they are duty-bound to report it.

Most Mental Comeback Ever? Reading 5 – Arsenal 7

Hat-trick hero Walcott leads stunning Gunners comeback (Mail) Amazing. Incredible. Breathtaking. After another weekend of controversy, football was finally the winner at the Madejski.

Arsenal’s spare parts power past Reading and into the quarter-finals (Paul Doyle, Guardian) The League Cup may not be a priority for Arsenal but dignity obviously is. After a humiliating opening 37 minutes in which they allowed Reading to canter into a seemingly insurmountable lead, Arsène Wenger’s men mounted a phenomenal fightback to turn a night of ignominy into one of glory. Amid absurdity. The improbability of what unfolded at the Madejski was underlined by the fact that the goal which crowned Arsenal’s 7‑5 victory was scored by the much-mocked Marouane Chamakh during a period of extra-time that several Arsenal players had not realised was necessary, removing their jerseys and celebrating a supposed replay after Theo Walcott had scored the second goal of his hat-trick to make it 4-4 at the end of regular time.

Walcott rescues Arsenal from the brink to inspire unforgettable comeback (Jack Pitt-Brooke, Independent) It is easy to forget at the moment but football is one of the best things so far invented by man. Arsenal’s collapse and then comeback, within 90 astonishing minutes of Capital One Cup football, ought to be how the 2012/13 season is remembered. This game had 12 goals, four of them in extra time, a Theo Walcott hat-trick, two for Marouane Chamakh, and some of the best and worst football that either side will play this season.

We got Arsene’s hairdryer: Manager’s blast inspired Arsenal fightback (Mirror) Wenger did his Alex Ferguson impression and savaged his players, who had been booed off by their own fans, at half-time before staging a gobsmacking rally to reach their 10th successive quarter-final in the competition… Reading became the first team EVER in the history of either the League Cup or the FA Cup to score five goals and lose.

Serbian Secrecy

The final insult! Serbian police charge England players attacked in mass brawl… but there’s still no action on racist abuse (Dominic King, Mail) The FA said in a statement: ‘Further to the Serbian police announcement regarding charging English Under 21 players and staff, the Football Association can confirm it has not received any formal notification of any charges filed by the Serbian authorities.’

Even FA don’t know who’s been charged by Serbian cops (Mirror) The FA are fuming after not even being told just which two England Under-21 players have been charged over this month’s race-row brawl in Serbia. The unidentified members of Stuart Pearce’s squad are among 12 people charged with “acts of violence during a sporting event” by Serbian police in the wake of the brawl with their Serbian counterparts earlier this month.

Managers On The Move

Ipswich bets take the Mick (Sun) Ipswich will appoint Mick McCarthy as their manager on a £1million-a-year deal.

Why would anyone want the Blackburn job? (Tim Rich, Independent) Blackburn appear split. Singh is believed to favour an adventurous appointment, although not as adventurous as Maradona. The club’s chief, Derek Shaw, is said to prefer a more conservative figure with experience of the division and getting out of it. Ian Holloway is still the best example of option B.

Henning Berg moves ahead of Blackpool’s Ian Holloway to become favourite for Blackburn Rovers vacancy (Telegraph) Berg, a member of Kenny Dalglish’s 1995 title winning team, was interviewed by Blackburn Rovers officials on Monday evening. And despite a fledgling managerial career which has proved unspectacular in Norway, the former Manchester United defender is now expected to be announced as Steve Kean’s successor.

Transfer Lies

Malaga try to stop Isco fever (Sun) Malaga are making a last-ditch bid to try and stop Isco fever hitting the Etihad. Manchester City’s newly appointed director of football Txiki Begiristain has wasted no time in recommending £30million-rated Isco.

Manchester United to beat rivals to £16m Malaga star Isco (Star) Manchester United  are confident of beating their Premier League rivals in the race to land Malaga star Isco. Arsenal, Liverpool and Tottenham are all thought to be tracking the exciting 20-year-old.

Man City plan raid on Chelsea for England Under 17 playmaker Hunte (Mail) Manchester City are plotting a move to poach Chelsea’s highly-rated teenager Connor Hunte. The Blues are facing a battle to keep hold of their teenage midfielder – whose style of play has been likened to Germany playmaker Mesut Ozil.

I have a dream: Finnish wonderteen striker Joel Pohjanpalo wants Liverpool (Mirror) HJC Helsinki striker Joel Pohjanpalo has revealed his ongoing dream of being a Liverpool player – just a couple of months after turning down the chance to join the Anfield club.

United plot move for Bender after midfielder impresses for Leverkusen (Mail) Manchester United are monitoring Bayer Leverkusen midfielder Lars Bender. The 23-year-old has broken into the Germany side over the past year with a series of strong performances for Leverkusen.

Arsenal take on United for Crewe starlet Max Clayton – dubbed the new Michael Owen (Mail) Arsenal will battle Manchester United for the £3million signature of highly-rated Crewe striker Max Clayton.