Qatar accused of WC bung, axe hanging over RDM (Chelsea) & Hughes (QPR), Arsenal target Holtby & Spurs linked to Bendtner

Comment & analysis round-up

Quote of the day: “We look as if we have not made a good start. But with winning on Saturday, we are not too far behind the top four. It is still up for grabs. Beside the top two, and even Manchester United lost on Saturday, a lot of teams are dropping points all over the place. From our own point of view, we now want to kick on and make a challenge for that top four place because it seems that everyone is throwing it away.” – Jamie Carragher.

Runner-up: “He [Santi Cazorla] was different class. He is a dream to play with. He never gives the ball away. There was one point when there were three players around him and he just dribbled out of it. That is up there with the best. I’ll have to watch it again to learn a few things off him. He is a different player to Cesc. Cesc is more of a passer. With Santi he can pick the ball up, beat people. He has a great shot.” – Jack Wilshere.

Qatar: Paying Bungs For The World Cup?

Fifa probe Qatar $1m ‘bung’ (Marc Walker, Star) World Cup hosts Qatar allegedly offered a $1million sweetener to a Fifa chief’s son. Football’s governing body is probing claims the cash was tabled ahead of voting on the 2022 tournament. Secret documents are said to reveal exec Amos Adamu’s 26-year-old son Samson was offered the payout, equal to 630,000, to put on a lavish gala dinner on the eve of the 2010 World Cup. Nigerian Amos, 59, was later sacked by world football’s governing body after he was secretly filmed offering to sell his vote on the 2018 World Cup for £800,000. Fifa’s top investigator Michael J Garcia is to examine evidence Qatar offered the massive sum for the African Legends gala in South Africa.

Di Matteo: Fighting For His Job

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Chelsea boss Di Matteo left fighting for job after Cech is involved in dressing room row (Mail) Roberto Di Matteo is fighting to save his job only six months after lifting the European Cup… Cech was furious after Chelsea’s poor defensive display left them four points behind Manchester City. Amid a flurry of expletives, another voice screamed that the display was ‘rubbish – and you all know it’. Other comments that were overheard included the barb: ‘Call yourself Champions League winners?’ as passions spilled over. Di Matteo was calmness personified in front of the media a few moments later but back in the dressing room, he too had stomped around in a fashion that was seldom witnessed when he was in charge of West Bromwich.

Torres faces the axe (Sun) £50m flop Torres is top of the hitlist for Wednesday’s Champions League clash at Juventus. The boss said: “I need to think about making changes. If I believe leaving out Torres is the right thing to do, I’ll do it.”

Chelsea need to offload Fernando Torres (Guardian) Who would Chelsea rather have up front – Fernando Torres or Shane Long? One cost £50m and the other £5.5m. One left the field to jeers and the other departed to a standing ovation. One looks like the football pitch is the last place he wants to be right now and the other is playing the best football of his career. Shane Long – four Premier League goals and four assists to his name despite the fact he has yet to play 90 minutes this season – showed Fernando Torres how to play as a lone striker on Saturday. The Irishman was potent in front of goal, full of pacy, aggressive running and selfless at creating opportunities for others. He was, in other words, a constant threat to the Chelsea defence, and all of this on a day when he was trying to come to terms with the news that his grandmother had passed away. As for Torres, it was a relief when his number came up and he was put out of his misery.

Chelsea manager Roberto Di Matteo feeling the heat ahead of defining week starting with Champions League (Paul Kelso, Telegraph) Defeat at the Hawthorns extended Chelsea’s winless league streak to four matches, with just two points from 12 since the fateful home defeat to Manchester United that ended in accusations of racial abuse against referee Mark Clattenburg. It is a run of results that will trouble the club’s hierarchy and pressure on the manager will intensify if they do not return from Turin with at least a point. Five days later they host Manchester City at Stamford Bridge and another defeat would increase tensions.

Chelsea under manager Roberto Di Matteo are like Arsenal – winning nothing other than admirers (Alan Hansen, Telegraph) Just as Chelsea face the biggest week of their season, with crucial games in the Champions League and Premier League looming, they are discovering that playing eye-catching football does not always guarantee results when it matters… If this was the Chelsea team that had John Terry and Richard Carvalho at centre-half, and the Ashley Cole of five years ago, then perhaps they could get away with the offensive nature of those players in front of them. But there are now problems in the Chelsea back-line. Terry has been suspended and injured, David Luiz is unconvincing and Gary Cahill, for whatever reason, does not seem to be regarded as a first choice by Di Matteo. You also have to factor in that Cole is still one of the most attacking full-backs in the game.

Sparky: Also Hanging On

Hughes fights on as civil war rages at QPR over his future (Mail) Mark Hughes is clinging on to his job against the backdrop of civil war at Queens Park Rangers… Sportsmail has learned players have lost faith in Hughes, unimpressed with how he has addressed his side’s sorry form. The potential appointment of Harry Redknapp is openly discussed.

Sparks fly at QPR (Sun) A dressing-room source said: “The players who have been here a while resent the new boys coming in and not shaking a leg for the cause. They actually do not resent the new boys coming in and accept the club have to sign new players to become established in the Premier League. But they believe that some — by no means all — have taken the p*** with their performances and attitude this season.”

QPR being strangled by the money that lifted them into top flight (Mark Lawrenson, Mirror) The irony with QPR is that their big problem is money. It was the big bucks that obviously helped them to get into the top flight. That cash is now turning out to be their undoing as the club’s players care more about their bank balances than the fight against relegation. If that hurts the players to read it is because they know it is true. Mark Hughes will probably be made to carry the can with the pressure building on chairman Tony Fernandes to make a change. But it is the players at Loftus Road need to take a long, hard look in the mirror. Look at the wage bills of Reading, Southampton and Norwich. In all three cases the clubs are paying substantially less than the players are getting at QPR.

Arsenal v Spurs: Post, Post Game Analysis

Leaky Tottenham miss Dembele as Arsenal will hope derby victory sparks winning run (Jamie Redknapp, Mail) A lot has been made of Arsenal’s difficulties in defence in recent weeks but they have only conceded 13 league goals. Tottenham have let in 21. Their defence looks leaky and I’m not sure yet what type of team they are trying to be. They also desperately miss the guile of Mousa Dembele in midfield.

AVB insists 10-man Spurs were better than Arsenal (Ollie Holt, Mirror) It was hard to understand quite what Andre Villas-Boas was trying to do. He had just said that Spurs had controlled the North London derby “from the first minute to the last”. Even though Arsenal had won 5-2.

Snoop For Celtic

Off to the East Side… of Glasgow! American rapper Snoop Dogg weighs up investing in Scottish champions Celtic (Mail) I bet you didn’t expect to hear this news today. American rapper Snoop Dogg has bizarrely said he would like to invest in Scottish Premier League champions Celtic… But why Celtic? Snoop says he simply loves Britain and its food, including a curry house in Scotland. He added:  ‘I love Scotland. I am so happy my UK ban is up. I love British Indian restaurants, man – but the best one I ever had was in Glasgow. The food blew me away, man. When I am away, I like to stay in hotels and have people look after me. But if I had investment in Celtic, that’s a different story. Maybe I would look for a crib over there.’

Monday’s Op-eds: Jose/Cristiano Unloved, Greedy EPL Owners

The great unloved: Why are Mourinho and Ronaldo still underappreciated in Spain? (Pete Jensen, Independent) If you are a Real Madrid supporter what’s not to like about the manager who has registered 100 wins faster than any other coach in the league’s history, and the player who has reached 100 goals faster than any of the club’s illustrious strikers? Yet there were jeers from a minority of home supporters for Mourinho during the win over Athletic Bilbao at the Bernabeu on Saturday and the club has still set no date for new contract talks with Ronaldo. Both men talk of staying in Spain but have also admitted to missing the Premier League –Spain remains the love affair that just never got started.

Greedy owners the only winners if you curb these players’ wages (Martin Samuel, Mail) When the Premier League chairmen sat down last week to consider next season’s £5billion television windfall, they wanted to prioritise the people who really deserved it. Them. Not players. Good lord, not sweaty old players. Having built the self-styled greatest league in the world on the talent of men such as Cristiano Ronaldo, Dennis Bergkamp and Thierry Henry, the owners have decided enough is enough. They fear players will recognise some correlation between increased TV revenue and the stars the people are tuning in to watch. How presumptuous. It would be like David Letterman thinking that what made the David Letterman Show special was David Letterman, and asking to be paid accordingly. Get real, Dave. Do you seriously think they’re watching it for you?

Big Sam’s no hoof and hope merchant (Alan Shearer, Sun) I hope West Ham fans are starting to give Sam Allardyce some of the credit he deserves for what he is doing at Upton Park right now… Sam is no hoof and hope merchant, believe me. Yes, he works on set-pieces, yes, they get the ball forward quickly. Yes, his team is physically fit and strong. He concentrates on keeping the ball out and has one of the best defensive records in the league. Yes, you know when you face Sam’s team you are in for a fight, a battle. This West Ham team is also physically very fit — a lot stronger than a year ago. What’s wrong with all that?

Transfer Lies

Arsene Wenger out to get Lewis Holtby (Star) The midfielder, 22 is out of contract at the end of the season and says he dreams of a move to the Premier League. Holtby has impressed Wenger this season and the Frenchman is ready to make a move for Holtby in January, as will Kop chief Rodgers.

Walcott may go… but not until the summer, claims Arsenal boss Wenger (Mail) Arsenal will not sell Theo Walcott in January – even if he does not sign a new contract by Christmas.

I’d be happy to move to Spurs: Arsenal outcast Bendtner open to White Hart Lane move (Mail) ‘History is filled with examples of players moving between rival clubs and I can’t rule out clubs due to where I might have been in the past,’ Bendtner said.

Liverpool ready to offer £30,000/week to keep Raheem (Mirror) Liverpool starlet Raheem Sterling is ready to sign a lucrative new deal – but Brendan Rodgers wants to make sure he is not spoiled by a massive wage… The Anfield club are looking to pay Sterling around £30,000-a-week, with his salary rising as he makes groups of appearances and progresses.

Villa fancy another loan swoop for Galaxy’s Robbie (Mirror) Aston Villa manager Paul Lambert is weighing-up a January loan move for the former Tottenham striker Robbie Keane.

Rio Ferdinand ponders China offer as Manchester United exit looms (Guardian) There is a “big chance” of Rio Ferdinand leaving Manchester United in the summer when his current contract ends, with the 34-year-old seriously considering a move from Old Trafford.

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