Archive for the ‘Arsenal’ Category
Whether or not it was cynical ploy to discredit Mark Clattenburg, why Chelsea will almost certainly find themselves in the dock
When it comes to tackling racism, Chelsea Football Club have a lot to learn – but that is not the reason there is a feeling within the game that the Premier League leaders have overstepped the mark in the Mark Clattenburg saga.
By destroying the reputation of one of the most experienced officials in the game with accusations that appear to be backed up by little evidence – and more than a suggestion of sour grapes after losing at home to Manchester United – the West London club have not only once again trashed football’s image, but their actions will have consequences.
Arsene Wenger was first to question the way Chelsea publicly accused the referee of racially abusing John Obi Mikel during Sunday’s 3-2 defeat by declaring the accusations should have been dealt with privately. And Sir Alex Ferguson has weighed in by stating he is “convinced” the official is innocent
United’s boss insisted: “I don’t believe Mark Clattenburg would make any comments like that. I refuse to believe it. I think it is unthinkable in the modern climate. I just don’t believe it – simple as that. There is no way a referee would stoop to that, I am convinced of that.”
It has also emerged that Mikel and the Blues’ manager Roberto di Matteo allegedly breached protocol by storming into the referee’s room immediately after the match in which Clattenburg sent off two Chelsea players. Under FA rules, there has to be a 30-minute “cooling down” period after a game. There can be little doubt their hasty reaction was fuelled by a sense of injustice.
A cynic would suggest the West London club have deliberately sidelined the referee, who has been stood down from officiating this weekend, because of their displeasure at the decisions he made in the dramatic contest that saw United inflict the home side’s first Premier League defeat of the season.
With all the other match officials who were able to hear the mic’d up ref dismissing Chelsea’s claims, it is hard to see where any evidence will come from that will condemn Clattenburg. In the meantime, the 37-year-old’s reputation has arguably been damaged beyond repair and, as any lawyer will tell you, Chelsea’s failure to prove their allegations will surely dictate that the official must sue for libel.
Meanwhile, Chelsea are already in the dock after one of their own supporters was pictured appearing to make a monkey gesture at Manchester United striker Danny Welbeck during the midweek League Cup game. And the club is still defending themselves over their handling of the John Terry affair, refusing to strip their captain of the armband after he received a four match ban for racially abusing Anton Ferdinand.
As for Blues boss Di Matteo, his response to the criticism from Wenger and Ferguson has been to declare: ‘It’s a free country where everybody has the freedom of speech. We’ll take into consideration what other people say and use it as a motivational tool for ourselves.’ What he may fail to realise is that many of their opponents will be driven by a desire to punish them for their selfish actions.
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Thierry Henry’s fairytale return for Arsenal is further proof that playing soccer in America is not the end of the road
For anyone who doubted the wisdom of Arsenal’s re-signing of Thierry Henry, his dramatic matchwining return in the FA Cup against Leeds United tonight was the perfect answer.
Personally I found it hard to believe that anyone thought the Frenchman was too old at 34, simply because he has been playing for New York Red Bulls in America’s MLS since quitting Barcelona and international duty with France in the summer of 2010.
On-loan during the winter break, it was a fairytale return when the iconic Gunner came off the bench and settled the third round tie at the Emirates with the only goal of the game. But this is not just a flash in the pan. Don’t be surprised if Henry continues to make a big impact during this surprise Premier League comeback.
Just like Paul Scholes coming out of retirement to help Manchester United, this is a story of a footballing genius who still has plenty to offer the beautiful game.
In the case of Henry I think it is unfair that English fans and critics wrote him off simply because he has been playing in the under-rated MLS. David Beckham has enjoyed success at AC Milan and extended his England career since he ‘retired’ to America. And Beckham’s Los Angeles team-mate Robbie Keane has been good enough to help the Republic of Ireland qualify for Euro 2012.
Mick McCarthy absolutely right! Fans of the beautiful game don’t want to see football turned into a non-contact sport
Mick McCarthy’s passionate defence of wronged midfielder Nenad Milijas is in the best interests of the beautiful game.
The Wolves player was sent off in the 1-1 draw against Arsenal despite winning the ball as McCarthy has clearly demonstrated.
But there is a lot more at stake here than a bad refereeing decision. We are talking about whether or not we want to kill the art of tackling.
While I am not advocating a return to the brutal days – when hardmen like Chopper Harris, Norman Hunter and Nobby Stiles ruled the roost – we must beware not to turn the game into a non contact sport.
McCarthy is absolutely right when he says: “I think the fabric of the British game is based on people tackling.”
And I agree whole-heartedly when the Wolves boss adds: “That’s why people come and watch because it’s exciting because people are tackled. It’s part of our game.”
Reality check for cocky City fans with delusions of grandeur is warning that Premier League title is long way from sure thing
Let’s face it Manchester City are only still top of the Premier League because of that freak 6-1 win at Old Trafford back in October. And there are way too many people drawing premature conclusions based on that one match.
Any other result that day and champions Manchester United would now be in pole position. So just in case you have any doubts, this is a title race that has a long way to go and it is way to early for any club to be counting their chickens. I don’t care how much money they have.
Now that the cocky Blues have carelessly thrown away their unbeaten League run at Chelsea – how they collapsed from such a commanding position and 1-nil lead at Stamford Bridge to end with a 2-1 defeat was a real disaster – let’s see what they are really made of.
For a club that has won just one trophy in 35 years it is no exaggeration to say their fans are getting carried away with delusions of grandeur because their owners have convinced them they are destined to buy the title.
By my reckoning there are still six clubs capable of winning the Premier League this season – and for the first time in years, no one can predict with any certainty which of those clubs will make up the top four.
What I can promise you is that nothing inspires United boss Sir Alex Ferguson more than being written off by the ridiculous media mafia who have been waiting for 25 years to see the Scottish manager fail.
I am also of the opinion that young Chelsea boss Andre Villas-Boas has a lot more life left him at the Bridge than those same media prophets of doom would like us to believe. And what are those same critics saying now about the prospects of Arsenal under Arsene Wenger, the manager the press pathetically wrote off after their 8-2 demolition at Old Trafford.
The truth is no League title is won or lost in a single match while any outcome is still mathematically possible – and impressive City manager Roberto Mancini to his great credit is the first to recognise that fact. Make no mistake there will be many twists and turns before the final weekend of the season. Meanwhile what are the odds on City making it back to back defeats against Arsenal on Sunday?
The English Premier League is best on the planet and football fans are so fickle – just ask Robin Van Persie and Arsene Wenger!
To all those fickle football fans out there who think one bad result or two is the end of the world, just take a look at the way Arsenal have bounced back from that 8-2 demolition by Manchester United.
Led by Robin Van Persie, the most outstanding striker of the season so far, Saturday’s remarkable 5-3 triumph at Chelsea was the Gunners’ eighth win in nine matches. So what do those ridiculous fans who were baying for the head of Arsene Wenger have to say for themselves now?
When Manchester United crashed 6-1 at home to neighbours City it was one of the biggest upsets in the history of the Premier League. But does that make Sir Alex Ferguson’s men a bunch of no-hopers overnight? Of course it doesn’t – and that’s the point.
City boss Roberto Mancini won a lot of respect from United fans when he refused to crow about the way his side destroyed the Reds at Old Trafford. And the Italian knows only too well that there is a long way to go to win the toughest League in the world.
The truth is football fans in England are so lucky to have the Premier League – the most exciting and popular domestic competition on the planet. It will be fascinating to see if anyone can stop City’s mega millionaires becoming champions. But you can bet your bottom dollar there will be many more twists and turns before the destination of the silverware is decided in May.
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It is one of my pet hates: the fickleness of the average football fan – a symptom of the modern game that never ceases to amaze.
Before this afternoon’s match against Arsenal, Blackburn fans were campaigning for the sacking of manager Steve Kean, his team rock-bottom without a win in their opening four games. A couple of hours later Kean is a hero and those same fans are celebrating a remarkable 4-3 win at Ewood Park. Most pleasing for Kean, who has always asked fans to judge him once he has built his own team, was to see his new signing Yakubu score twice and be named man of the match.
With Kean out of the firing line for the time being at least, the spotlight is back on Arsene Wenger, who was predicting his side can still challenge on all fronts before kick-off. On the back of that 8-2 thrashing in their previous away match in the Premier League, the knives are out for Arsenal’s greatest ever manager. Why do we have to be constantly demanding football managers are sacked when they lose a couple of matches.
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UNITED HUMILIATE THE GUNNERS AND STEAL CITY’S THUNDER, BUT IT IS TIME FOR FICKLE ARSENAL FANS TO STAND BY WENGER
When Manchester City thrashed Spurs 5-1 at White Hart Lane, Roberto Mancini’s men thought they were heading for the international break as leaders of the Premier League. But United’s remarkable 8-2 humiliation of Arsenal trumped their noisy neighbours’ in majestic fashion – and has put Arsene Wenger in the firing line.
It was a stunning day of football in the most exciting football league in the world. And it was an indication of the changing face of English football. The reality is that Manchester is now more dominant than ever boasting two outstanding teams, while North London’s fallen heroes have slipped behind in spectacular fashion.
But do not make the mistake of jumping on the band wagon of turning on Arsenal’s beleaguered manager Arsene Wenger.
While Harry Redknapp’s Spurs are rock bottom and point-less having played a game less than the rest at the bottom, Wenger is the boss under the full glare of the lynch-mob who want him out of the Arsenal hot-seat. And that is so short-sighted it could push the Gunners into an era of decline that could undo all the Frenchman’s outstanding work.
Arsenal’s decline can be traced back to the departure in April 2007 of of vice-chairman David Dein, the man who appointed Wenger and was his right-hand man when it came to signing new players.
The club is in turmoil because of the behind-the-scenes power struggle between Alisher Usmanov and Stan Kroenke for control of the club. Wenger has made some outstanding signings in the past and could do so again in the future if he has the right support of the board.
As Fergie is proving by putting together another outstanding team of youngsters who could turn out to be his greatest side ever, you do not have to go out and sign ready made superstars to build a winning team.
But you do need the right support from your board and chief executive – and in that department do not underestimate the outstanding contribution of David Gill, who has made a sterling contribution in helping to keep the established stars at Old Trafford.
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DAVID DE GEA: DODGY HAIR, GREAT KEEPER . . . AND HOW ABOUT SOME RESPECT FOR GREAT GOONER ARSENE WENGER
On the eve of the second weekend of the Premier League season, I wonder how many football fans have been jumping on the band-wagon and disrespecting rookie keeper David De Gea and veteran boss Arsene Wenger?
I make no apologies for stating that no breed is more fickle than the average football fan . . . and the abuse dished out for Manchester United’s 20 year-old goalkeeping protege and Arsenal’s best-ever manager is nothing short of scandalous.
It was great to hear United’s 1968 European Cup winner Alex Stepney spring to the defence of De Gea earlier this week when he declared: ”At 20 years of age he can only learn and get better. And when I say get better, he’s blooming brilliant now. He can reach the standards of Peter Schmeichel and Edwin van der Sar.”
The young Spaniard may have gifted Manchester City a couple of soft goals in the Community Shield at Wembley and then allowed a weak shot to go under his body in his Premier League debut at West Brom. But United won both matches and writing off the kid who cost £18 million after one week is pure madness.
Every goalkeeper who ever played has dropped a clanger or two. But it’s how you come back after you make mistakes that separates the ones with potential from the greats. Chris Smalling spoke for everyone at United today when he said: “He has trained really well this week. You can see his agility and kicking. He will be a great goalkeeper for us.”
Personally, I have no doubt that De Gea will prove to be one of the world’s top goalkeepers. I just wish he would do the decent thing and get rid of that dodgy facial hair.
Meanwhile, the criticism Arsene Wenger has been getting at Arsenal is even more ridiculous. The departure of Cesc Fabregas and the immenent loss of Sami Nasri, following six trophy-less seasons has put the Gunners boss under increasing pressure from supporters. But the Frenchmen who has worked miracles and turned ‘boring, boring Arsenal’ into one of Europe’s most attractive teams deserves more respect.
David Dein, the man who took Wenger to North London in 1996 and urges fans to stand by their man, told the BBC: “People talk about ‘Has his time finished at the club?’ That’s a very dangerous thing to say because it’s easy to get rid of people and then what?
“People talk about buying players. Well, you’ve got to get players who are better than the ones you’ve got at the moment.”
He added: “I don’t know why he hasn’t bought at the moment, only time will tell. Maybe he thinks that this current squad has got the ability to win trophies. Only time will tell whether he’s right or wrong but I think it’s very early to say, ‘He’s lost the plot.’ He hasn’t lost the plot.”
Manchester United fans used to give Arsene Wenger more stick than anyone – but he won a lot of new fans at Old Trafford when he was sent off for kicking a plastic bottle and ended up on the roof of the dugout. Pure class from Arsenal’s living legend.
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40 YEARS ON – AND ARSENAL’S DOUBLE WINNER BOB WILSON IS A HERO TO BE PROUD OF AFTER HIS BRAVE CHARITY CYCLE
It is a little known fact that Bob Wilson became the first English-born footballer to play for Scotland in 1971 – the year Arsenal won the double for the first time. Much has changed in the 40 years since Bob was in goal for the Gunners as they claimed the League and Cup double. Footballers today are paid a king’s ransom for playing just one season at the top level. Many can earn in a week the £250,000 Bob set off trying to raise for charity when he cycled 500 miles in 11 days. But don’t let that overshadow what a great achievement it has been for the former Arsenal keeper in this his 70th year.
” I have been lucky to have enjoyed many football triumphs, most notably my greatest year in 1970/71 when Arsenal won ‘The Double’,” says the great man who wanted to do something special to mark the 40th anniversary of his finest hour as a footballer. “So how should I celebrate this my 70th/71st year? By following my heart and doing something challenging to support the Willow Foundation, the national charity I set up with my wife, Megs, in memory of our daughter, Anna.”
The 500 mile cycle from London to Newcastle took Bob to every Premier League football club in the UK followed by a visit to Hampden Park, where he made his international debut. You can donate here
MANCHESTER IS THE NEW MILAN: A CITY UNITED AS THE CENTRE OF THE FOOTBALLING UNIVERSE. CAN LIVERPOOL STRIKE BACK?
Welcome to the dawning of a new era with the City of Manchester now well and truly the centre of the footballing universe. And mark my words this is great news for United because there is nothing like a new challenge to keep you on your toes.
In case you needed a reminder the United are still the top dog, it was sweet irony that once again United eclipsed City on the day Roberto Mancini’s men claimed their first trophy in 35 years.
As City beat Stoke 1-0 at Wembley to win the FA Cup thanks to Yaya Toure’s late strike, United fans were already back in Manchester celebrating another Premier League triumph and a record-breaking 19th League title courtesy of their 1-1 draw at Blackburn secured by Wayne Rooney’s penalty.
But this was a day for Manchester to be United in celebration. Not just because the City can proudly boast the unique feat of winning two trophies on the same day. It is great for Manchester to be the undisputed Mecca of fooball. Even Milan can no longer match the glamour of England’s hotbed of football. And the odds are that the new intensity is here to stay.
I remember the end of the 60s when United and City last dominated football in this country. It was great for both clubs. And this time that great rivalry can last much longer than it did back in the days of Best, Law, Charlton and Lee, Bell, Summerbee.
With Liverpool getting their act together under the legendary Kenny Dalglish, what are the odds on the North-West giants occupying the top three positions in the Premier League next season and eclipsing the fading stars of Chelsea and Arsenal.
My bet is that Sir Alex Ferguson’s record-breakers will face a rejuvenated challenge from Liverpool next season as the Merseysiders seek to match United’s 19th League title. When Chelsea frivolously handed the Pool £50million for Fernando Torres Dalglish invested the money wisely and now has a good mix of established stars and exciting upcoming youngsters.
But the real fascination will be how much ground can neighbours City make up on Fergie’s champions after ending their 35 year wait for a trophy to add to their qualification for the Champions League.
There is no doubt City must spend another vast fortune if they want to rival the Reds at the top table. But that will be harder said than done despite their untold riches and their Champions League status.
The reason is the introduction of UEFA’s new Financial Fair Play rules.
Michel Platini has warned that the likes of big-spending Manchester City and Chelsea, and some of Europe’s biggest clubs, will have to ‘face the music’ if they do not comply with the new FFP regulations.
UEFA’s latest figures show that financial problems affecting European clubs are getting worse, with spending on player wages up almost 10 per cent – and increasing at a faster rate than income.
Under their new rules, clubs will face possible bans from European competition from the 2014/15 season if they spend more than they earn in the three years before.
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