Shock and awful
Liverpool fans: Are you sat down? Look away if you are of a nervous disposition. Because The Sun are here to reveal a ‘SHOCK FOR KOP FANS’ on Friday.
‘Philippe Coutinho will be a surprising absentee for Liverpool’s showdown with Manchester City – as Jurgen Klopp says he is not FIT.’
The capital letters have been retained to translate the true impact of this SHOCK.
All those who expected Liverpool to play Coutinho against a title rival two days after he returned to training, having not yet featured for the club this season due to both illness and injury, all look like fools now.
The Sun go on to claim that ‘the news will come as a shock to Reds fans’, and that Jurgen Klopp ‘has now performed a major U-turn’.
The headline to the story within the paper is ‘COUTINO SHOCK’. No shock indeed.
The Sun‘s back page is a veritable hub of over-reaction, which is wholly unlike them. Oh wait…
‘Arsene Wenger has launched a passionate defence of his disastrous deadline-day dealings,’ writes Neil Ashton, clearly delighted with his mastery of alliteration.
‘In a remarkable outburst, the Arsenal boss claimed wantaway Alexis Sanchez is “happy” at the Emirates and will sign a new contract.’
Hold on, Mediawatch must have missed this. A ‘remarkable outburst’? What was it Wenger actually said?
“Alexis is committed and focused on Arsenal. That’s what makes me believe he will stay. There is a chance he will stay, yes. At the end of the day, he is 29 years old in December, he knows his football years are counted at that level, especially with the evolution of the game now.
“You have to enjoy every minute. As long as you have the quality on the pitch for the club, that’s the one thing that matters.
“I didn’t want him to leave and in the end he didn’t leave.”
We are surprised – no SHOCKED – that Ashton managed to get out of there alive.
‘The turkeys really have voted for Christmas with the decision to close the transfer window early’ – September 8.
‘Those Premier League managers crying out for window to close are still spending now’ – August 22.
‘Closing the window early would be the dumbest idea… it would not stop Barcelona niggling away at signing Liverpool star Philippe Coutinho’ – August 18.
Ever get the feeling that Martin Samuel thinks closing the transfer window early is a bad idea?
Martin Samuel does have other opinions in the Daily Mail of course, and he turns his attention to Jamie Vardy on Friday.
‘Jamie Vardy says he is still open-minded about a big move, despite rejecting Arsenal in 2016. Is that still an option, though? Vardy will be 31 in January and his game relies on electric pace. How much longer will he have that? Who knows? Levels of athleticism in the modern game are so high that changes in physical ability show up instantly.
‘The minute Vardy slows it will be noticed, as it was for Michael Owen, Wayne Rooney, even Alan Shearer. At the moment, he looks good. He finished last season well, with 11 goals in 19 appearances for Leicester and England, and began this campaign with two goals at Arsenal.
‘Yet rejecting a transfer two summers ago may make suitors question his ambition. Vardy came late to the Premier League and, briefly, was the hottest property in it. He may now find that moment has passed.’
Chelsea were linked with him this summer. The Premier League champions.
Also, Vardy didn’t say he was “open-minded about a big move”, did he? He said he “wants to win as much as possible”, and “down the road, there might be an opportunity to go to America or China”.
A well-known 31-year-old striker playing in MLS? It’s about as likely as Leicester ever winning the Premier League.
Get your Phil
The headline certainly piqued the interest of Mediawatch. ‘Klopp has no choice but to play Coutinho,’ it reads. Samuel has been a busy boy this week.
‘Philippe Coutinho is back in Liverpool’s squad and could technically return to the team at Manchester City on Saturday. Some may call the club feeble for allowing it but, frankly, what choice did they have?
It may seem weak to reintroduce disloyal players to the team, to put them back on bonuses, to pick them ahead of team-mates who have tried hard and stayed loyal. Yet what is the alternative?
‘Say Liverpool wanted to make an example of Coutinho, who has behaved poorly, considering his injury appeared to clear up as soon as the transfer window closed and Brazil called. What good would that do?
‘If they are not going to play him, they might as well have sold him to Barcelona.’
Is there any suggestion that Liverpool won’t play Coutinho? That they decided to turn down multiple offers from Barcelona for a laugh, and they have no intention of actually playing him this season? Is Jurgen Klopp being kept up with nightmares of having to reintegrate a rather good player into his rather good team?
Mediawatch agrees wholeheartedly with Paul Ince when he says it is “unfair” of the West Ham board to claim that Slaven Bilic turned down the chance to sign Renato Sanchez and Grzegorz Krychowiak.
It is also fair to say that much of the goings-on around the club currently “should be kept behind closer doors”.
But to say that Bilic “isn’t the issue” is a bit strange. Davids Sullivan and Gold are certainly the most unhelpful version of interfering club owners, but West Ham have won just three of their last 17 games. The ‘Dildo Brothers’ can hardly be blamed for shoddy defending.
A slight difference of opinion
Writes John Cross in the Daily Mirror:
‘The Premier League is now so competitive that a transfer from one top-six club to another could backfire spectacularly – and clubs hate selling to rivals in any case.’
And now to Cross’ Mirror colleague, Andy Dunn, from August 18, discussing Nemanja Matic:
‘So why, the world scratches its head and wonders, would Chelsea bolster a rival? Maybe, just maybe, it’s because they are not overly bothered if United win the title.’
Arse over tit
Arsene Wenger on July 30, asked whether having six players out of contract next summer was a problem:
“Not an issue. I think it is an ideal situation. When you are a football player you perform until the last days of your contract.”
Arsene Wenger on September 7:
“We had to sell someone. We have both sides: we have players we do not want to extend, and we have players we wanted to extend, where we could not find an agreement. That means that every time you have quantify the loss of income. And you decide, ‘OK, we can do it for two or three, but not for four or five.'”
Says Paul Merson in his Sky Sports predictions:
“I’m just going to go for West Ham but again, I would not be surprised one bit if Huddersfield picked up all three points.”
And on Arsenal v Bournemouth:
‘I am going to favour Arsenal slightly but something just tells me they are not going to win.’
Prediction? Arsenal win 2-1.
Recommended reading of the day
Matt Dickinson on Qatar’s ‘charm offensive’.
Barney Ronay on Manchester City v Liverpool.
Kevin Palmer interviews Harry Arter.