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Arsene Wenger can't put his finger on Arsenal's defensive collapses, and John Brayford WON'T be shaving his beard. No sir...

Last Updated: 11/04/14 at 12:29

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Mediawatch has become a little bit obsessed with how frequently Robbie Savage has changed his opinions this season, but he takes things to a whole new level in Friday's Daily Mirror.

Savage attempts to cover all the bases in his column on Arsene Wenger's future, but only ends up contradicting himself - something he clearly doesn't do with any reluctance.

'If they finish fourth and win the Cup, that's a decent season by any yardstick,' writes Savage of Arsenal's season.

But he then continues: 'Juventus coach Antonio Conte, Atletico Madrid's Diego Simeone, perhaps even Roberto Martinez at Everton, all preach progressive football, whereas Wenger's team appears to be going backwards.

'Where Arsenal once boasted pace and power, they are now weak and feeble.'

'Weak and feeble' but on the brink of a 'decent season by any yardstick'. Mediawatch won't be at all surprised to read Savage's column calling for Wenger to sign a new contract if Arsenal do win the FA Cup and finish fourth.

Norfolkin' Good
Continues Robbie Savage in the Mirror: 'The sacking of Chris Hughton was diabolical. To replace him with the under-18s coach with five games to go is extraordinary. If they survive, it will be thanks to the points gained under him.'

And if Norwich are relegated, Robbie? Well, it might have something to do with Hughton guiding them to only 32 points ahead of a run-in that includes games against Liverpool, Manchester United, Arsenal and Chelsea.

Confidence Quandary
No-one expects Arsene Wenger to have all the answers to Arsenal's problems, but knowing some of the more obvious ones would offer a little bit of encouragement that he can lead the Gunners to a title race that lasts the whole campaign.

"We have lost a little bit of our confidence, you could see that against Everton, because it all went bad for us," said Wenger.

"What has been strange this season is that for a long time we have looked very strong defensively - we had an outstanding defensive record - and we lost it suddenly. That's the surprise of the season for me."

Suddenly, Arsene, or in an entirely predictable pattern? Considering Arsenal have conceded three or more goals on only four occasions this season - each one away to a top-five rival - Mediawatch thinks it shouldn't be so tricky for Wenger to put his finger on the reasons for his team's defensive collapses.

How Journalism Works, Part 347
'STUPID AND LAZY', bellows the back page of the Daily Mirror. 'Martinez blasts Wenger and 'ridiculous' critics of Everton's loan players'.

Below, David Maddock writes: 'Roberto Martinez has hit back at critics of the loan system, branding them "ridiculous, stupid, and lazy".

'Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger, whose team face missing out on the Champions League to the Blues, claimed the short-term signing of players was "indefensible".'

And here's what Wenger actually said when asked for his thoughts on Everton's loans ahead of Arsenal's trip to Goodison last Sunday:

"I believe that if you want to continue the system we have to make them available against the teams that loaned them out - or the system is not defensible," said Wenger, before praising Martinez for doing a 'quality jo'" on his loan recruits at Everton.

"It is just a protection of the clubs who loan the players out to hurt their opponents, when they have no risk at all."

So Wenger debates the merits of the loan system, but rather than allowing the discussion to centre on that issue, the tabloids twist it into a feud between the Arsenal boss and Martinez.

Mediawatch is puzzled by Wenger's willingness to offer his thoughts on Everton's loans last week, as surely he's been in this game long enough to know exactly what would happen.

Footie Banter
David Anderson drops a banter bomb in the Daily Mirror on Friday, with his exclusive on Sheffield United's FA Cup clash against Hull. Apparently, the biggest angle on Sunday's semi-final is that United defender John Brayford WON'T - we repeat, WON'T - be shaving his beard.

Writes Anderson: 'John Brayford caused a stir among his Twitter followers when he announced he had shaved off his trademark beard before the Wembley date with Hull.

'The sharp-eyed among them would have noted the date and, sure enough, he tweeted soon afterwards to admit it had been an April fool.

'"I started growing it, liked the look of it, so I kept it," said the on-loan defender.

"It's something different and it seems to have caught on. It's not a gimmick though and hopefully I'll be remembered for helping this club do something special rather than my beard."

Footie banter really doesn't get much better, folks.

Decisions, Decisions
Mediawatch was under the impression that Daniel Sturridge quit Manchester City for Chelsea as a teenager because of the filthy lucre that was on offer, but it seems we were wrong yet again.

'Daniel Sturridge left Manchester City because he feared his route to first-team football would be barred by big-money imports,' writes Mike Walters in the Daily Mirror.

"It was difficult for me at Manchester City as a young player aged 18 or 19, with all the money they have," said Sturridge.

"Realistically, you look back and they only have Micah Richards from the academy playing for the club's first team - everyone else has been signed by Man City, so I feel I made the right decision leaving there."

Hmmm. Leaving one oil-rich club splurging millions on new players for another; Mediawatch can't think why Sturridge eventually "fell out of love with the game" at Chelsea.

Buzzkill Of The Day
Said Chelsea chief executive Ron Gourlay: "It's quite simple - Courtois can play against Chelsea. That was never in doubt."

Well, that busts all those back pages in the papers about Chelsea's £5m demand to Atletico Madrid.

Quote Of The Day
Said Darren Fletcher: "It's time to show the manager that you deserve to be at this club" - Mediawatch isn't sure it's the players who need to prove themselves at Manchester United.

Worst Headline Of The Day
'Struggling Solskjaer A Night Ole' - the Daily Mirror. We think it's supposed to be 'owl'.

Non-Football Story Of The Day
'Sewage workers tackling blocked pipes found a sex toy flushed down the loo had caused the problem.

'And it was revealed yesterday they have recently found false teeth, bikes, a dead sheep and even a dismantled greenhouse in the drains.

'A South West Water spokesman said: "Most blockages are caused by non-biodegradable materials flushed down the toilet - cotton buds, wipes, condoms and tampons.

'"When it comes to clearing blockages, we've come to expect the unexpected.

'"When we're looking for the cause, it could be anything and it's surprising what you do find.

'"The sex toy found actually caused a major internal flood."' - the Daily Mirror.

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hen players in their 30s leave Real Madrid, it's usually to Bolton Wanderers. I miss those days.

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