Both pictures are lifted from the front of the Daily Mail website. Are team pictures only alright if they’re taken on the team bus (or the posers do not play for Arsenal)?
Another day, another exclusive
Who was the biggest winner of an incredibly important Premier League weekend? Was it Arsenal, who came from behind to beat leaders Leicester and reignite their title challenge? Was it Tottenham, who closed to within two points of the summit with an away victory over Manchester City? Was it Tony Pulis, whose West Brom side achieved ‘Peak Pulis’ by winning despite having 24% of the possession and one shot on target, while opponents Everton had 33 attempts on goal?
If you answered with any of the above, you were wrong. No, the biggest winner of the Premier League weekend was undoubtedly Neil Custis. Not only does The Sun reporter not have to lose any extra weight as a result of his ‘points versus pounds’ challenge to Louis van Gaal, but the Dutchman’s role as Manchester United manager was plunged into further doubt with defeat against Sunderland. Nearly 48 hours later, Custis is positively crowing.
‘Manchester United could appoint Jose Mourinho before the end of the month,’ writes Custis in a back-page EXCLUSIVE.
‘United had been ready to stick with the Dutchman, 64, until the summer. Now they believe they will lose nothing by swooping for the ex-Chelsea boss before their next league game at home to Arsenal on February 28.’
Mauricio Pochettino will be devastated. This time last Monday, Custis delivered us this EXCLUSIVE: ‘Mauricio Pochettino could wreck Jose Mourinho’s dream of becoming Manchester United’s next manager.’
Custis wrote that ‘Pochettino is seen as a less confrontational and calmer personality than the Portuguese former Chelsea boss’. A week later, and club chiefs feel they will ‘lose nothing’ by appointing Mourinho instead.
Of course, Custis has an impressive record of United EXCLUSIVEs. Back on January 26, he reported that Van Gaal ‘offered to leave Manchester United’ after defeat to Southampton. Clue: He didn’t.
It’s a big day for The Sun; Guy Patrick has yet another Manchester United EXCLUSIVE.
‘Louis van Gaal’s future at Manchester United looks more uncertain than ever,’ writes Patrick.
So, what is the latest update regarding the Dutchman? Has he told sources that he wants to leave? Has he ‘escaped’ to fly back to Holland to visit his daughter on her birthday? Accused a man of being rotund? No.
‘The under-pressure Old Trafford boss has just signed up for a new home – with a letting contract that allows him to leave at the drop of a hat,’ Patrick states. Basically, Van Gaal has been asked to leave his current property by the owner, and the Dutchman has signed a short-term lease on a new home.
Van Gaal ‘refused to commit to a six-month let,’ Patrick adds. A club source tells him: “Fans will speculate that this means the end is nigh for Louis – and that might well be the case.
“But it could also mean that he wants to actually buy somewhere here and wants to be able to move in as quickly as possible.”
As an aside, we are told by The Sun that Van Gaal’s new home has a self-contained gym on the third floor. Perhaps he and Custis could become gym buddies?
Matt Barlow is not happy in the Daily Mail. He is the culprit behind the story on Arsenal’s players posing for a team photograph after beating Leicester. ‘Isn’t it a bit early to party?’ the headline to his piece asks.
‘Two people notable by their absence from the team photo tweeted by Mesut Ozil soon after the final whistle were Danny Welbeck and Petr Cech, the only ones in the squad who knows what it takes to win the Premier League,’ Barlow writes.
That’s right Alexis Sanchez, you can shove your La Liga title. You too, Mesut Ozil. Oh, and don’t forget that World Cup winner’s medal of yours. Presumably Welbeck and Cech were stood to the side, warning their team-mates that everyone knows taking photos is a curse on performance in the Premier League.
Taking a team picture after such a dramatic home win against a title rival in the last minute of stoppage time? Stoning would be too good for them.
It’s Garth Crooks time. The BBC Sport ‘football analyst’ disappointingly continues his recent trend of picking players in their actual positions for his team of the week on Monday. The inclusion of Fraser Forster as goalkeeper does seem rather strange, with the Southampton keeper facing just two shots on target against Swansea (only two keepers – Joel Robles and Simon Mignolet – faced fewer) but the explanations behind his choices are always worth a read.
* On selecting John O’Shea in central defence, Crooks says:
‘Well, they’ve done it. Sunderland have only gone and beaten Manchester United at the Stadium of Light. To be perfectly honest they deserved it. O’Shea must have got a great deal of pleasure beating his old club and I’m not entirely sure that he would have been overly impressed with their performance either.
David de Gea, who has been amazing at times this season, was especially disappointing and played as though he had become fed up with the ease at which Sunderland were breaking through United’s defence. Both of Sunderland’s goals were stoppable, but O’Shea won’t lose any sleep over that. However, if I am right and De Gea is becoming disillusioned at Manchester United that is a real cause for concern.’
That’s all well and good, Garth, but what about John O’Shea?
* On selecting N’Golo Kante in central midfield, Crooks says the Frenchman is ‘the nearest thing I’ve seen to the former Chelsea and Real Madrid superstar Claude Makelele’.
Forgive Mediawatch, but no. Kante registered three shots against Arsenal on Sunday, the joint-most of any Leicester player. Makelele had around three shots throughout his whole career as a defensive midfielder. Kante’s 78.4% passing accuracy over 37 passes would have made Makelele cringe.
Mind you, Kante, like Makelele, is small and French. And a midfielder. They’re practically the same person.
* On selecting Willian, Crooks says:
‘I don’t think I’ve seen a player change his feet so quickly when going past an opponent. I saw him do it for Shakhtar Donetsk against Chelsea in the Champions League a few seasons ago which almost certainly was one of the reasons they bought him.’
Yes, Garth. One of the reasons why Chelsea bought a player for £30million is because he ‘changed his feet quickly’ against them once in a game.
F**k the narrative
‘Danny Welbeck proved to Leicester that not all fairy tales have happy endings’ – Paul Brown, Daily Star.
‘Sorry Hollywood. Much as we love to celebrate the underdog on celluloid, guts, determination and a never-say-die attitude only take you so far. Money, and the class of player it can buy, wins Premier Leagues’ – Matthew Dunn, Daily Express.
Mediawatch did have to check, but can confirm that Leicester are still top of the Premier League, two points above Arsenal.
Arsenal’s victory over Leicester provided the footballing world with plenty of lessons. Luckily for Mediawatch, the Daily Mirror has compiled a list of five things we learned, accompanying Chief Sports Writer Dave Kidd’s match report from the Emirates Stadium.
The third lesson from Sunday’s top-of-the-table clash is that Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain ‘is making a strong case’. What for remains uncertain. ‘He is flourishing down the right,’ it adds.
Match rating: Six out of 10. ‘Wasteful out wide,’ Kidd writes. Only four players of the 22 starters scored lower.
Like a Star
‘Deal Done: Tottenham clinch £22.9m agreement for international midfield star,’ screams the headline on the Daily Star website.
Who is this huge ‘international midfield star’ signing, then? Why, it’s Christian Eriksen, he of Tottenham Hotspur fame.
This, of course, is not new; contract extensions are now reported as such. But Mediawatch is not quite sure of the maths skills of Jamie Anderson. He reports that Eriksen will sign a four-year deal worth £80,000 a week. That must somehow become a ‘£22.9m agreement,’ so it’s time to find the calculator.
Eriksen will earn £80,000 a week, which is £4.16million a year. Eriksen’s new deal is a four-year one. His contract is therefore worth £16.64m. Even giving the Star the benefit of the doubt and making it a four-and-a-half-year contract, Eriksen would still be earning £18.72m, not £22.9m. Are we supposed to assume a signing fee of £4.18m is included?
Recommended reading of the day
Amy Lawrence on Arsenal.
Constantin Eckner on struggling Porto
ESPN on two-man penalties.
Thanks to Mediawatch spotters Christian Holum and Joshua Graham. If you see anything that belongs on this page, mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org, putting ‘Mediawatch’ in the subject field.