A web of receipts
In The Sun on Tuesday, Mark Irwin runs his eye over Arsenal’s squad and decides who the club should replace in an overhaul this summer.
Firstly, the amount of business Irwin expects Arsenal to do is ludicrous. There are three weeks between the World Cup ending and the transfer window closing. Irwin wants Arsenal to get rid of Shkodran Mustafi, Per Mertesacker, Calum Chambers, Sead Kolasinac, Granit Xhaka, Alex Iwobi, Danny Welbeck and Alexandre Lacazette. If selling seven first-team players (Mertesacker is retiring) for reasonable money wasn’t hard enough, Arsenal presumably have to replace each one in less time. Good luck with that.
Yet the best thing about Irwin’s recommendations is that six weeks ago he was criticising Arsenal and Arsene Wenger for wanting to overhaul the squad (which we thought was ridiculous hyperbole at the time). Back then it was a ‘reckless plunge’ with ‘NINE PLAYERS potentially caught up in Arsenal’s transfer web’.
Now it’s eight players out and eight players in and that’s the right answer, so what has changed? All we know is that there are SIXTEEN PLAYERS in Irwin’s Arsenal transfer web.
The most wonderful night of the year
The excitement ahead of tonight’s @SportSJA broadsheet ball is really building, well amongst three papers who believe it’s worth entering anyway
— Neil Custis (@ncustisTheSun) February 26, 2018
Understand delay over procedural problem @SportSJA evening as it emerges someone with a quadruple-barralled surname who buried the story in the 27th par of a 2,000 word piece was NOT shortlisted
— Neil Custis (@ncustisTheSun) February 26, 2018
Pesky fact: Writers, journalists and photographers were shortlisted from eight national newspapers, including five nominations from Custis’ own newspaper. Maybe it’s you, Neil?
The biggest disgrace is that nobody with a double-barrelled surname was even nominated, let alone one with a ‘quadruple-barralled’ (sic) surname.
And while we’re here
They want more red tops to enter the @SportSJA awards then you read a comment from a judge that says ‘football is largely fluff’ – charming
— Neil Custis (@ncustisTheSun) February 27, 2018
Said judge was making a perfectly reasonable point about the ultimate futility of football (and sport in general) when compared to the type of sickening behaviour unearthed by Daniel Taylor and others in the past 12 months.
If you’re focusing on the “fluff” part, it’s probably time to take a step back. Maybe it really is you, Neil.
It’s just not working out
‘Big clubs need stability when it comes to their manager and the Blues’ model of hire and fire offers anything but stability. Yes, Chelsea have won a lot of trophies over the years but only because they were paying the biggest wages and transfer fees for a time here until Manchester City came on to the scene’ – Stan Collymore, Daily Mirror.
Presumably Manchester City (and others) lost all that money for last season, when Chelsea won the Premier League title?
It was just banter
Reading the Liverpool Echo’s story on Marco Reus and Liverpool leaves you under no illusion that it is not a serious piece.
The story focuses on Reus’ celebration on Monday evening when scoring for Borussia Dortmund against Augsburg: a roundhouse kick similar to the one that Roberto Firmino does. Putting tongue firmly in cheek, the Echo use some (largely sarcastic) tweets from Liverpool supporters spotting the similarity between the two celebrations.
‘Conclusive proof, surely? Maybe not,’ the story ends. ‘When Lionel Messi starts doing the ‘Emre Can knee slide’, then you can get excited.’
But here’s the thing: The headline to the story is ‘Excitement grows at Marco Reus ‘come and get me plea’ to Liverpool’. The story URL is even worse: ‘transfer-news/excitement-grows-marco-reus-come’.
Sorry, but you don’t get to play it all banterous about the fact that a move isn’t happening in the story when you’ve quite deliberately lured readers in with a headline that makes no reference to this being a joke news story.
Take twice Dele
There is value in getting insight from many ex-players, but there comes a moment in former Tottenham defender Graham Roberts’ Daily Mail column on Dele Alli when you do have to wonder about how seriously we can take a piece that is headlined as ‘insight’.
That moment is when Roberts writes ‘I saw those [Nacho Monreal and Jack Wilshere] dives on Twitter because I don’t watch Arsenal play as a point of principle.’ He may have a horse in this race.
Roberts – perhaps unsurprisingly – is here to explain why Alli is not a diver, and why this ‘bandwagon’ must stop. There we go.
‘Once the bandwagon gets going it’s hard to stop but I will try because this has gone too far with Dele Alli. It’s unfair to keep digging him out for diving and it is putting the referees under pressure.’
Tell you what also puts referees under pressure: players diving.
‘No one said anything when Roberto Firmino took a dive at Southampton, nothing from Gary Lineker or Alan Shearer.’
Which is because it wasn’t a dive.
"What about Firmino's dive yesterday?! Disgraceful"
Yeah you're right mate how dare Firmino fall over after the Southampton defender has his arms all over him pic.twitter.com/vVjxWN68ql
— Cathal OL (@IrishRED05) February 12, 2018
‘No one said anything about Chris Smalling against Newcastle. What was that? That was a 9.5? There’s something wrong when big centre halves are diving around.’
Apart from that they did. Everybody laughed at that dive, for which Smalling was booked.
‘No one said anything about Jack Wilshere and Nacho Monreal diving in the League Cup final.’
Apart from they di… oh you get the picture.
The reason that the spotlight is on Alli at the moment is because he is a repeat offender. He has, through his own actions, caused every penalty given in his favour to be analysed. But to suggest that no other dives are talked about is a nonsense.
They come over here
‘I retweeted a clip of Gary Lineker going down to win a penalty for England in the World Cup against Cameroon. I played against Gary many times and I’m sure he dived more than once’ – Roberts.
Six paragraphs later:
‘He’s [Alli] very good at getting into these positions and if he’s touched he is going to go down. He’s learned that from the foreign players who brought it into the English game.’
Maybe he just watched videos of dastardly foreigner Lineker?
‘There was a sign in the away end at Anfield on Saturday. ‘Brady, Sullivan and Gold,’ it read. ‘You have done more damage to the East End of London than Adolf Hitler’.
‘For the record, there were between 40,000 and 43,000 civilian deaths in the London Blitz and up to 139,000 wounded.
‘Roughly 1.4 million were evacuated, meaning one quarter of the capital was displaced, some returning to lost loved ones and rubble where their homes had been. West Ham have moved to a new football stadium. It could be better. In time, it surely will be. Get a grip’ – Martin Samuel, Daily Mail.
Next week: Hear how the Sheffield Wednesday fans singing that their club is ‘by far the greatest team the world has ever seen’ are wildly incorrect.
Bastard of the day
The award goes to Arsenal striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang. After a thorough investigation, MailOnline reveal that Aubameyang went out for dinner in London with his girlfriend only one day after Arsenal had lost in the EFL Cup final.
‘But Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang didn’t let their embarrassing 3-0 loss by Pep Guardiola’s side prevent him from enjoying himself on Monday night.’
Man eats dinner. The dick.
Recommended reading of the day
David Squires on Arsenal vs Manchester City.
This thread on Doncaster Rovers’ 1997/98 season.
Jason Burt on the FA’s yellow ribbon stance.
More from Planet Sport: Buffon and Federer in mutual appreciation club. (Tennis365).