Manchester City suffered their second top-flight defeat of the season at West Ham as Eliaquim Mangala's struggles continued. Will Demichelis return for the Manchester derby?
Tim Stannard looks at six storylines that could unfold in Saturday's clash between Real Madrid and Barcelona. Will Messi break Zarra's La Liga record?
If you have anything to say on any subject, mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org
This Was Addressed To Brendan
Forget buying Cavani or Falcao, it just isn't going to happen. What you should do instead is buy Di Maria.
This is a much more realistic option, he's no longer wanted at Real and can play in a number of positions as well as score goals. Use the rest of the money to buy another centre half and the loss of Suarez will soon be forgotten.
It will also take the pressure off Coutinho and Sterling (who is too young to be Liverpool's best player) but best of all it will mean ManU can't buy him and almost guarantee Liverpool champions league again and reduce the chances of ManU getting there.
It's a win win!
Unlike the Arsenal fans in the morning, who were all trying to retcon their feelings for Cesc, I can honestly say it broke my heart watching him play so well for them. Worse was you could see that was what Mourinho was missing, a truly special footballer to make all his other buys tick. I know he will win the league with Chelsea, like I knew RVP would win the league with United and all the ex-Arsenal players at City did the same.
As a club, with all our new financial might, we still can't compete, and one FA cup in 10 years won't change that. Equally however, this is the BS narrative that they want to spin to generate clicks. I am genuinely excited about this season, and we are 1 game in. I am not going to be drawn into some 'Arsenal made a huge mistake' story because I don't think we did. Chelsea have a great footballer. We have some great footballers, so do City. Let's see how this all plays out yeah without all the bunkem.
John Matrix AFC
...Graham Simons, Gooner, Norf London I totally get it. While 365 may be having a little fun at your expense, I want you to know I get it.
It's the same for me with Suarez. I don't miss his 31 goals or his 20 assists. I don't miss that he could single-handedly keep Liverpool in games or that he was, most likely, the difference between us fighting for the title and us being a mid-table club.
Do you think I miss that goal celebration where he kissed his wrist three times or the way he slicked his hair so neatly to the right or do you even think I miss that his over-bite gave him a youthful look about him? I barely even noticed that stuff.
Suarez was nothing but a biter. He did nothing for my club and I'm glad we're rid. So Graham, I get it. Who wants one of the world's best playing for them? Not me. Not unless he is a club legend.
Rob, Orlando, LFC (Graham if need be I can write a letter about how I never fancied Torres either...)
On Costa's Dive
I was surprised there was no mention of the Costa non-penalty in this morning's mailbox, so thought I'd chip in with my twopenneth. Watching it real time, I was convinced it should have been a pen and probably had the same look on my face as Mr Costa did when he realised one wasn't being given. I have to say, that nine times out of ten, this would be given, but on replay I thought the ref and the linesman got it spot on. Yes there was contact but Costa clearly played for it. He dragged his leg down unnaturally and was going over before contact was made.
It really annoys me that every man and his dog seem to be saying, "There was contact so it's a pen." But what really gets my goat though is now Graham bloody Poll saying the ref got it wrong as "replays show he was fouled". No they bloody didn't. Replays showed Costa made sure there was contact.
I'm as sick of pundits re-writing the rule book as I am of footballers trying to "win" fouls and penalties. But I expect more from a former "world-class" referee.
That being said, our second goal was just beautiful.
Michael (Costa does look good mind), Chelsea, London
On Moyes v LvG
Just a quick observation about observations regarding Manchester United. I am not saying Van Gaal isn't a better manager than Moyes was, but I find it bit strange that when Man U performed poorly last season, everybody was blaming Moyes for it. Now the general consensus seems to be that Man U needs to invest heavily in new players in order to compete for top places although Van Gaal is regarded practically by everyone as a top manager. And they have already spent atleast 50 million to new players. So basically Moyes should have at least reached top 4 with the squad he had in his disposal yet a lot better manager can't compete for said places without atleast 100m investment?
Just find it bit odd.
Matti Katara, Helsinki
As an outsider to Manchester United, it amazes me that Ed Woodward is so heavily criticised for not landing a lot of top players for his club. He may have goofed up on certain deals, most notably paying 4 million extra for Fellaini, but he is looked at as the key reason behind United's transfer failure, which is quite ridiculous in my opinion. A quick look at their supposed 'targets' - Bale, Hummels, etc - and it's even clearer that Woodward is not entirely to blame.
The issue at United is not Woodward. The core problem at United is that their fans, management and the English media (this website included) consider United to be one of the world's top clubs, perhaps even on par with Bayern Munich, Barcelona or Real Madrid. They continue to delude themselves into thinking that if United go calling, any player would want to join them, and the only formality left would be to strike a deal with the player's club. When you fool yourself into thinking that, the failure to land a player obviously seems to belong to the guy who is managing the negotiations with the other clubs.
But the reality, clear as a bell, is that United are not a top draw at all. They have never been a top draw, and especially not in the last 12-14 years. And this is despite United competing at the top end of the world's salaries. For years United fans and the English media convinced themselves that the Bales and the Toures were moving to other clubs only for salary, but what is clear as daylight is that it was not only a marginally higher salary that was turning their heads. If it was the style of play, or the vision for future or something else, I do not know. But try naming one, let alone two or three, top-class player coveted by Real Madrid, Barcelona or Bayern Munich that has joined United in the past 15 years, and you will see my point.
All this hogwash about United being 'the biggest club in the world' is not just laughable and moronic anymore. It's starting to make United fans point fingers for their recent failures in the wrong direction. Or perhaps only in one direction when a multitude of culprits might be around. Woodward has landed exactly the kind of players that David Gill and Ferguson used to, and failed with the exactly the kind they failed with. He should probably receive less stick for United's woes.
...As a United fan I am as frustrated as the next one about the transfer activity or lack thereof. I am not an expert on finances or business so maybe that's why i don't understand Parmjeet Dayal's (Bayern Munich you legends) argument for sacking Woodward and co. The facts show that over the last five windows Utd and the Glazers have spent only less than PSG. Somehow this equates to why Woodward should be sacked - no strategy. Now i'm sure Woodward has a big input on signings but i'm guessing he isn't Utd's chief scout or a secret director of football so who is signed is down to the manager at the time ( worth noting that the last five windows as cited would also cover Fergie and Gill era too) not the chief executive. Fellaini and Mata were Moyes choices ( as were Shaw and Herrera). Kagawa and Zaha were Fergie choices not Woodward. So although he doesn't seem the greatest at player negotiations it does seem a bit harsh to call for him to go because he spends money.
Kevo2424 (apart from Veron what other established world-class player was bought pre Glazers?)
Just wanted to add some musings on Utd's squad and potential transfers.
I'll be the first to admit that the squad is not chocked full of world beaters, however it's not entirely devoid of talent. De Gea, Shaw, Herrera (maybe), Mata, Rooney, RVP and Januzaj are all quality players. With the likes of Jones, Evans, Rafael and Carrick being "reasonably good". That in my opinion is the bones of a decent squad. The likes of Welbeck, Hernandez and Valencia are all useful aswell.
So a number of well thought out additions should have given us the platform to mount a challenge for top 4 and depending on injuries, the title. However these additions have not arrived, and the thing that annoys me most is...the type of players we need are all very gettable. We can still do well without 3-4 "World Class" players, just a number of improvements in key positions. I presume at this stage Rojo is coming which is good. Benatia- we could easily double his wages, Roma want 30m (although I accept he may have his eye on Bayern/Chelsea)...according to Woodward this is chicken feed nowadays. Daley Blind- covers 3 positions, talented and playing in Holland. Rumoured to cost 15m, again why have we not got him?
He has said he is open to a move. Nigel De Jong- rumoured to be speaking to Milan about him a few weeks back, cost 8-12m and had a good world cup. Would provide excellent protection for the defense. These 3 would all be improve the squad no end, none are at clubs bigger than Utd, granted the lack of CL football may be a factor but I doubt that. If you think about those additions it would greatly improve the selection in his 3-5-2 formation and with the addition of a quality winger....that leaves him room to revert to 4-3-3.
I just don't see why he hasn't moved for any of these players. Is it van Gaal? Have they turned us down? I just want to know why we can't seem to buy players the way other top teams do.
Why Arsenal Didn't Sign Cesc
Why didn't Wenger sign Fabregas? Because Arsenal have Aaron Ramsey. Christ. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to work that out. Yeah you had a "Santi Cazorla shaped passenger" (the passenger that made 78 passes at 88%, made 3 interceptions, completed 5 dribbles, 3 key passes and 3 accurate crosses, but hey-ho) but it ain't no good signing Fabregas and then sticking him out wide left.
Arsenal have Ozil in attacking mid, and Ramsey in centre mid. If you're going to debate signing Fabregas, it's whether you'd prefer him over Ramsey in the middle. You may personally, but Wenger has decided that Ramsey is the future, and fair enough too, he's at the top of his game, younger, and isn't making noises about buggering off back to his home town club (err, Cardiff).
So sign Fabregas anyway? Well yeah, there's also the Arsenal product Wilshere, who if you let go genuinely could be one that got away, and Rosicky can do a fine job. Plus Mr Fabregas doesn't exactly like being shunted from wide left to attacking mid to striker because the coach feels his existing centre mids are better, as Barcelona would attest to, with him getting fed up this summer.
Yes he's a smashing player, but you can't sign 'em all. There's only 11 players in a team, with 1 player for each position playing a defined role. Yes, there's generally a backup, but a player like Fabregas (or Ramsey too for that matter) is too good to be second fiddle, and will leave at the first opportunity. It's why the uber-talented Nastasic is being let go, why Sturridge left Chelsea, and there are countless more examples. Yes some players teams pass up on end up being rather good elsewhere, but they wouldn't necessarily have improved the team that passed them up anyway. And that's what's happened in the case of Cesc.