Robbie tells Rafa where to stick it, Sir tells Don to rest Rooney & “is football recession-proof?”

Comment & analysis round-up

Quote of the day: “Winning the Premier League would mean nothing at all to me now. My brother is a Liverpool fan so I’d probably give it to him. The way I look at it is that a medal means something when you are a part of the squad and involved in winning a trophy.” – Robbie Keane.

Runner-up: “Sunderland has a proud history and we want to make sure all its greatest days aren’t just in the past. Taking the current economy into account we’ve made a bold and brave decision to sacrifice income in an effort to add strength in [crowd] numbers. This in turn will help drive this club forward. It’s a welcome decision from the ownership who, having supported the cause with hard cash, are now going the extra yard. We understand the strains the credit crunch is placing on people’s lives. We have a moral responsibility as a club and my hope is that by significantly reducing prices for everyone we can ensure that our fans are able to keep supporting the club at a time when money is tight. Our efforts to bring more people into the Stadium of Light are crucial to where the club goes in the future.” – Nial Quinn.

Today’s overview: While there is a sprinkling of analysis ahead of this weekend’s fixtures in the Premier League, the two topics which jump out today is a change in focus onto the England national team ahead of their trip to Spain, and insight into the Premier League’s finances after the biggest broadcasting deal  in the history of the league was just completed.

Always good for a quote, ‘Arry sits down with Oliver Kay to explain his belief that Tottenham are a soft touch. Redknapp: “They’re not a bad bunch of boys. I just feel that it’s a club that, if you like, needs toughening up somewhere. I’ve let them know that after certain games recently.”

Ahead of Manchester United’s trip to West Ham, United may have won only once in their past nine visits to the capital – against Fulham at Craven Cottage in March last year – and endured some unhappy experiences away to West Ham United in recent times.”

Terry Venables dips into his usual bag of cliches and nonsense to announce “I fear Rafa Benitez may have cut off his nose to spite his face by deciding to sell Robbie Keane back to Tottenham… The deal was done at the last minute. Rafa had no time to get a replacement in and I am surprised he acted so recklessly, as normally he is so cautious during matches.”

With England’s international against Spain just around the corner, focus begins to shift onto the national team.

Daniel Taylor reports how Sir Alex has “‘no strong objections’ to Fabio Capello including Rooney in his squad, but he is against the striker being prominently involved as he makes his way back from a hamstring injury.” For Oliver Kay, Ferguson request will mean Rooney’s absense for England as “Capello has concluded that it is an unnecessary risk to select the player so soon after his return from injury.” Kevin McCarra also recognises that fringe players will get a run out in Spain as “there is an opportunity for Capello to maintain progress… by emphasising, as he did against Germany, that there is depth to the group.”

Gary Lineker waxes lyrical over England in his weekly column in The Times. “Under Capello there is a renewed sense of optimism and enthusiasm from the players, although I have never doubted their passion or patriotism.”

Changing the focus on Capello, Matt Dickinson notes how the England manager is a passionate Italian rugby fan, as the Six Nations gets ready to begin. “Capello’s passion for the oval-ball game began more than 20 years ago when Silvio Berlusconi, the Italian Prime Minister and owner of AC Milan, decided on a novel way to groom his young protege to take over the football team.”

David Lacey looks back at the week that was in football, noting that “talk of Tottenham re-signing Ossie Ardíles, Glenn Hoddle and Dave Mackay is just a mischievous rumour.” Keeping with transfers that didn’t happen, Rob Smyth wonders why so few players from the Championship and below move to the Premier League in the January transfer window.

Turning to football’s finances, Rory Smith publicises a study by Portuguese magazine Futebol Finance that confirmed that of almost half of football’s top 50 earners play for clubs in the Premier League – eight of those provided by Chelsea and seven by Manchester United, while Liverpool offer four and Manchester City, Newcastle and Arsenal one apiece.”

Staying with money money money, Nick Harris looks at the impact of the new £1.782bn Premier League broadcasting deal with BSkyB and Setanta. “So up it floats again, the Premier League balloon, defiantly refusing to burst even in the harshest economic climate. English club football will continue to pay the best wages, attract the best players, and be the most successful, on and off the pitch.” This leads the hack to pose the question is football recession-proof? “Sponsors like to be linked to a success story, and the Premier League remains a success.”

In the Saturday interviews, Paul Doyle headed to Upton Park to catch up with Gianfranco Zola and explain how “where once there were forebodings of doom, now there is optimism.” Matt Lawton had a chin-wag with Arsenal’s Robin van Persie who explains his ambitions this season. “Right now we are five points behind Aston Villa. All credit to Villa. The way they are working is really good. But this is not the way I want to be. ‘I don’t even want to fight for fourth place. I want to fight for the title.”

David Hytner spent time with Arsenal’s Emmanuel Eboue to reveal how the Ivorian bounced back from being booed by his own fans – “My friends, Kolo Touré, Adebayor and Song, they came to my house. They had tried to call but my phone was off and so they came straight over. They came to me, they helped me. They had me laughing and from there, I was happy when the other players called me. I say ‘thank you’ to my friends at Arsenal. I will never forget that.”

And finally, the Daily Mail today reveal “Manchester City fan Chris Atkinson has an embarrasing secret. The 25-year-old got a little too excited when his team launched a £100million bid for Kaka – and had the Brazil superstar’s name tattooed across his chest… And the barman and TV extra had been hiding his premature artwork for a fortnight until blurting out his secret to friends in the pub.”