Sports story of the day
‘Carneiro dresses up for awards ceremony hours after it’s revealed she is claiming constructive dismissal from Chelsea’ – MailOnline.
Ask a simple question
‘Wenger has ‘trust’ in medical staff amid injury crisis…but how will his Arsenal team line up at Swansea without these men?’ is the headline on MailOnline above pictures of Theo Walcott, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Aaron Ramsey, Jack Wilshere, Danny Welbeck, Tomas Rosicky, Mikel Arteta and David Ospina.
Mediawatch can help you there: They will line up almost exactly as they did against Everton last week when they won 2-1. You’re welcome.
Note to the Mail: ‘Unfamiliar’ is not a synonym for ‘almost exactly the same’.
Defending the indefensible
Mediawatch has always had a soft spot for Danny Murphy and his lovely twinkling eyes, but his Chelsea column on the BBC website is pure bunkum.
This is by far and away our favourite line:
‘It is not the back four’s fault that they are facing more shots and more shots on target – only Newcastle and Sunderland have allowed more this season – and conceding more goals and losing more games.’
If it’s not their fault, then whose sodding fault is it? The midfield has to take some responsibility, of course, but to completely exonerate the whole defence is frankly insane.
Murphy goes on to say: ‘I don’t think Chelsea’s defensive frailties are actually down to any issue with their back four, whoever is in it.’
So to repeat, defensive frailties are absolutely nothing to do with the actual defence? Did Mediawatch imagine mistakes from John Terry, Gary Cahill and Branislav Ivanovic? Or did Nemanja Matic and Cesc Fabregas force them to make those mistakes? Apparently so.
Another Mediawatch favourite from Murphy’s piece – headlined ‘How Chelsea boss can put things right’ even though he basically claims that nothing is wrong – is his contention that ‘like Fabregas, Diego Costa is another player who does not look like he is at the same physical level as he was last season’, just above statistics that show the Spaniard has actually run an extra 7km this season.
And then on Eden Hazard, who is apparently playing at least as well as last season: ‘He has made more chances than he had done at the same stage of 2014-15 and that alone means every other statistic is irrelevant.’
Even the one about him having half the shots on target, Danny? Or the simple one that shows he had scored three goals by this stage last season and zero this? That’s all irrelevant?
Actually, we can’t leave Murphy without this nugget: ‘One important thing that people often forget to mention is that he was the PFA Player of the Year last season.’
You’re right, Danny. Absolutely nobody has mentioned that.
Should Jose Mourinho choose to ignore Murphy’s advice on ‘How Chelsea boss can put things right’ – which basically amounts to ‘drop Fabregas because everything else is going fine’, he can consult MailOnline’s Charlie Skillen, who ‘sets out a game plan for the Chelsea boss in what could be one of the most crucial games of his career’.
The highlight of this gameplan is that John Obi Mikel should come in to replace Fabregas (it’s still his fault) alongside Nemanja Matic, because of course that worked brilliantly against West Ham when Mourinho made that change at half-time. It was also a masterstroke when employed against the 3-1 defeat to Everton last month.
‘Willian has been by far Chelsea’s best performer in these troubled weeks so he will look to dominate attacking play from the No 10 role’, is more prediction than advice, and it’s a prediction that might surprise a player who has not started as a No. 10 since August.
Skillen also says that ‘Liverpool’s threat from out wide will be best combated by full-backs on their natural side – this means Cesar Azpilicueta and Baba Rahman’, which suggests he has seen neither narrow Liverpool nor Baba Rahman play this season.
But never mind the personnel or the tactics, it’s all about the team talk.
‘Mourinho will also point to Liverpool’s underwhelming form over the past few months, including under Klopp.’
Genius. If only Jose had thought to consult Charlie Skillen before facing West Ham. Or Southampton. Or Everton. Or Crystal Palace. Or…
Lawro, lawro rules
Mark Lawrenson has several key rules when it comes to his Premier League predictions:
* Never tip Liverpool to lose a match; in 11 predictions this season, Lawrenson has not once said that Liverpool will lose. Not once.
* Rarely predict victory for Everton; in 11 predictions this season, Lawrenson has only predicted two Everton wins, at home to Watford and Sunderland.
* Never tip against Tony Pulis; in 11 predictions this season, Lawrenson has not once said that West Brom will lose. Not once.
* If it’s a big game, go for 1-1. See Chelsea v Liverpool, Manchester United v Manchester City and Tottenham v Liverpool in recent weeks.
* If in doubt, go for 1-1. It is a scoreline he has predicted 31 times already this season. How many times as it actually happened? Eight. Just eight.
When Paul Merson’s predictions begin by telling us that ‘the Magic Man has looks ahead to the action’, Mediawatch starts rubbing its hands with glee. Highlights include:
‘I haven’t been that impressed by Liverpool. I think Jurgen Klopp has gone in there and realised there’s a lot of work to do. I keep on saying I expect Chelsea to win and they keep on losing…’
Jurgen Klopp probably isn’t massively impressed with Merson either; he should write a column.
‘Palace enter it on the back of a hiding at Man City in the League Cup which I don’t understand because they’re not going to get relegated, win the league or get into the top four so surely it should have been taken seriously.’
We’re pretty sure they tried, Paul; you might have noticed that City are really rather good.
‘I don’t see how Norwich can put up with City when they get going, particularly at the Etihad.’
‘Newcastle are probably sat there now thinking how they lost 3-0 to Sunderland.’
Note to the Sky Sports stenographer: Don’t just write down everything he says.
‘I’m not sure how this going to go.’
‘Even though they qualified, I don’t understand why Roberto Martinez made so many changes against Norwich in the League Cup.’
This is a recurring theme: does somebody want to talk to Walsall’s former manager about keeping a 25-man squad happy?
‘I thought it was a bit early to sack Tim Sherwood considering he kept them up last season, they would’ve gone down last year if it wasn’t for him. They’ve sacked him and got no one in, how can you sack someone and then not have a replacement lined up?’
a) We’re pretty sure that Villa would have appointed somebody, if not Tim Sherwood and b) only Merson could sound so incredulous about something that happens all the time. We’re pretty sure no manager > shi*t manager. If in doubt, perhaps ask Walsall, who took over two weeks to replace Merson after they lost 5-0 to Brentford.
‘Arsene Wenger is considering using left-back Kieran Gibbs as an emergency winger to help Arsenal through their injury crisis’ – Adrian Kajumba, Daily Mirror.
“My options are Campbell or put another defensive midfielder such as Flamini or put Cazorla on the flank. I still have 24 hours to decide” – Arsene Wenger, as reported on the Daily Mirror.
Shall we assume he ‘considered’ the idea and then dismissed it as a potential disaster?
Headline of the day
‘FLAIR DRYER’ – The Sun.
Worst headline of the day/year
‘JEKGAAL ‘N HYDE’ – The Sun with a headline to match Neil Custis’ rotten ‘I asked people on Twitter what they thought of Van Gaal’ story.
Recommended reading of the day
Richard Jolly on Mourinho v Klopp
Richard Buxton on Everton’s need to drop Tim Howard
Paul Doyle and Nick Miller on unglamorous football clubs