Home and dry
Charlie Wyett must live a sheltered life, for he is the only individual to be baffled by Antonio Conte’s recent claims.
The Chelsea manager stated after the draw with Burnley that six teams can still win the Premier League title. The Blues lead the table by ten points, but Conte has been saying similar for around two months now.
Still, that does not stop Wyett reporting that Conte ‘amazingly claimed the title race is still wide open’ after the draw.
The Sun‘s football correspondent continues:
‘Despite Conte’s insistence that five other teams can win the title, the west Londoners are now home and dry.
‘Chelsea’s improvement is a remarkable story and, in terms of top spot, the Premier League season is over already after six months.
‘Arsenal, Spurs, Liverpool, City and United can only hope Chelsea get a points deduction for fielding ineligible players or for going into administration.’
Chelsea have a ten-point lead with 13 games left to play. Manchester City could close to within eight points of them if they beat Bournemouth on Monday evening. While the Blues are evidently and deservedly heavy favourites to win the title, an eight-point gap is not insurmountable over the space of 13 games.
If only there were examples throughout Premier League history of similar leads being overhauled. Like Arsenal in 2002/03, or Newcastle in 1995/96.
‘Jose Mourinho has lost patience with £36million Manchester United flop Anthony Martial and will hand left-wing slot to England 19-year-old Marcus Rashford’ – Neil Custis, The Sun ‘exclusive’, February 10.
You already know what happened the very next day…
Daily Mirror headline: ‘YOU’VE LET ME DOWN’
Daily Mirror sub-headline: ‘For the first time furious Ranieri turns on his flops’
Daily Star headline: ‘NO MORE MR NICE GUY’
Daily Star sub-headline: ‘I’ll rip Foxes flops apart roars Ran’
What ‘furious’ Claudio Ranieri actually ‘roared’:
“It’s difficult when you achieve something so good you want to give them one chance, two chances, three chances. Maybe now it’s too much. We have to speak together to find the solutions, it is not possible to continue in this way.”
Case for the defence
While Ranieri is busy being ‘furious’ and the rest of us are falling over ourselves to remind everyone of the other reigning champions who suffered relegation in the following season, the Mirror occupied themselves with learning five things from their visit to the Liberty Stadium on Sunday.
The fourth lesson is that the ‘Foxes should have bought a new defender’. ‘Why did they not buy a central defender in January?’ is the question they pose.
Spare a thought for Molla Wague at this delicate time.
In explaining his choice of Martin Olsson as his right wing-back in his latest Premier League team of the week, Mediawatch can only thank Garth Crooks for offering us an insight into his oblivious brilliance.
‘I don’t like playing players out of position but sometimes the occasion calls for it.’
Wonderful. But not quite as wonderful as the following two paragraphs explaining his inclusion of Eric Bailly at centre-half.
‘Those of you who partake in social media (I don’t) might know I was on a train from Manchester to London and spent longer than normal (because of a delay) talking to a number of Manchester United fans. They seemed reasonably satisfied with the win against a very dangerous Watford and after a little more probing they suggested that Eric Bailly might be a candidate for my team of the week.
‘Taken aback by this level of impertinence and their intrusion into my team of the week, I thought I would make further enquiries about Bailly’s performance to see if they had a case! I must say I don’t normally take fans’ comments seriously – but in this instance they were spot on.’
Mata of fact
In truth, it has been a while since Garth truly captured the imagination in his weekly column for BBC Sport. But he is most certainly making up for lost time this week.
You see, the former striker watched Manchester United’s win over Watford, and drew one main conclusion. He even shows his working out for extra marks.
‘It has got to the stage where not only has Mata displayed remarkable professionalism, he is now playing as well for United as he did when Mourinho decided to sell him at Chelsea – which rather suggests to me that he has become saleable again and therefore may be the first in Mourinho’s cull come the end of the season. Watch this space.’
So Mata is playing so well that he ‘may be the first in Mourinho’s cull come the end of the season’. The Portuguese pretty much confirmed he will look to sell the player at the weekend too, by adding:
“When I came here people thought Mata was in trouble but I knew he wouldn’t be in trouble. One thing was the football I wanted my Chelsea to play and the other thing I want my Manchester United to play. Mata has adapted to the football I want to play. I knew since the beginning he would be an important player.”
Translation: Watch this space.
How do The Metro sell Crooks’ quotes?
— Metro Sport (@Metro_Sport) February 13, 2017
‘Ex-Man Utd star’. He played seven games on loan in 1984.
‘Sanchez and Cech are the only two consistent performers in a team full of ability and short on bottle.’
And there we were thinking that Cech had actually been pretty poor in recent weeks for Arsenal. Luckily, Garth knows.
Crooks and kings
Would you like a look at the dessert menu? Oh, you just want the bill? Are you sure? Our special today is a fourth helping of Garth. Ah, we thought that might tempt you.
This guy is a pundit ??? pic.twitter.com/akj3oXB5bI
— Xhakahari (@Cechque) February 11, 2017
“There is something happening here with Arsene Wenger as he’s getting old. The pressure is getting to him a little bit. The judgement is a little more impaired. He’s getting older.
“Bill Shankly, Brian Clough never pushed officials or opposition managers. Don’t tell me about managers and what they should do. I’ve seen great managers never behave like this.”
That will be the same Brian Clough who received a three-month touchline ban and was fined for hitting his own fans at Nottingham Forest. And considering two of those instances of Arsene Wenger breaching his ‘code of conduct’ came against Alan Pardew and Jose Mourinho, he hasn’t done too bad over two decades, has he?
No way, Jose
A war of words has sparked between Jose Mourinho and Antonio Conte.
— BBC Sport (@BBCSport) February 13, 2017
So, what was Antonio Conte’s latest battle cry in his ‘war of words’ with Jose Mourinho?
“He’s playing. I have the experience to understand this.”
‘Manchester United set to pay Monaco another £8m when Anthony Martial scores four more goals’ – Daily Mail, December 1.
Three goals later.
‘Manchester United set to fork out another £8m for Anthony Martial as the Frenchman approaches 25 goals to trigger Monaco payment’ – Daily Mail, February 13.
Recommended reading of the day
Graham Ruthven interviews Bob Bradley.
Mark Lovell on Bayern Munich.
Mike Henson interviews former Liverpool coach Michael Beale.