Ashley Young hopes he impressed David Moyes with his display in troubled Norwich in what was his first outing since the derby defeat to Manchester City last month. Young is desperate to keep his place and hopes he did enough to get the nod to face Fulham on Saturda named after Azzurri legend Diego Maradona and joined in January from RB Leipzig.He recalled: “He cried when I signed, it was exciting for all of us,” Demme revealed. “He is present foa have raked in a massive €50m from their run to the Champions League quarterfinals.The Oribici are into the final eight after victory at Valencia this week.Calcio e Finanza reports Atalanta have earned €5m from the first TV market pool, €15m fr almost every game.“Many remind me that I carry an importany. He told MUTV: "I hadn't played since the Manchester City game so I've been biding my time and waiting for my opportunity to impress the manager. "I felt that I did well and enjoyed the game, but we'll see what the manager thought when he picks the team at the weekend." However Young knows he faces stiff competition because of the array of talent . He continued: "You can see the depth in our squad when you look at the players who, despite not playing for a number of games, came in and did their jobs really well. "It was a great performance and everybody did their jobs, we scored four goals and we're delighted with that."
West Ham striker Andy Carroll will miss the rest of the season with a knee injury. Carroll left at St Mary's on Wednesday on crutches, after an innocuous clash which resulted in aEverton winger Kevin Mirallas does not have too many good memories of Sam Allardyce.The veteran manager was in charge of Everton for a short period a few seasons ago, where he stabilised the club for a top half finish.But many fans were unhappy at Al torn medial knee ligament. Sam Allardyce said in his press conference earlier today that the minimum time scale he thought Carroll would be out for was between four and six weeks. However, have now confirmed that their striker will undergo knee surgery, and is expected to miss the rest of the season. A club statement read: "Andy Carroll will have surgery on his injured knee on Tuesday following assessment by a specialist on Friday afternoon. "The England international injured his left knee during the second half of Wednesday night's 0-0 Barclays Premier League draw at Southampton. "The recovery phase is expected to keep Carroll out for the remainder of the 2014/15 season." Soccerbase/Physioroom.com Allardyce had earlier said: "A full diagnosis on Andy is yet to come and we should have that today but it looks like a few weeks. "The medial ligament on the inside of his knee has a little tear from a fairly innocuous collision with a defender. "If we’re lucky it could be four to six weeks. It’s a big blow for him and us but one we’ve got to cope with." It was Carroll's first appearance of this month, having missed a large part of the season through ankle ligament damage. It is a devastating setback for whose form had pushed him back into contention for a place in Roy Hodgson’s next England squad. breag of Real Zaragoza prospect Alberto Soro.Soro was in Madrid early in the morning to pass his mandatory medical examination and sign his contract with Real Madrid.Real Zaragoza will receive €2.5m up front, plus a similar amount in bonuses.Soro will k for their next European Championship qualifier against Lithuania at the end of March. Is a fit and firing Andy Carroll worth a place in the England squad?0+ VOTES SO FAR
David Moyes has hailed Manchester United's Champions Leagues of midfielder Sander Berge.Berge is being linked with a January move to Liverpool, having impressed in the Champions League this season.Ahead of tonight’s clash with RB Salzburg, Wolf told VG: “Sander is a good person, very responsive to input, inc tie with Bayer Leverkusen tonight as his biggest test yet. A win against Leverkusen will see , unbeaten in this season's competition with two wins and two draws, through to the last 16. Moyes said: "Every game becomes your toughest test. Your next game is always the most important. "But this has become tough because Leverkusen are in great form at home. "My first feeling when I saw the group was that the game at Shakhtar Donetsk would be a really tough game and it proved to be that. We ended up with a draw there. "But this is our last away game now and, as it stands, Leverkusen are in good form now, they're in good shape in the group themselves, so we know we're going to have a game on our hands." Moyes comes up against Leverkusen boss andKlopp insists there’s no injury concerns for Virgil van Dijk ahead of their clash with Manchester City.Liverpool would be worried by news that Virgil van Dijk had missed training before what could be the most important game of their season, but Klopp former Liverpool defender Sami Hyypia, whom he faced on Merseyside during his time in charge of Everton. added: "I thought he was a really good player at Liverpool and he's doing a good job with Leverkusen," "They're a really good side, doing very well in a really good league. "In your first job it's never easy in your first job the key is always to win enough games to make sure you stay in the job and continue to improve. I've got to say Sami's showing that at this moment in time. "It's a European tie away from home. We've had a good result at home against Leverkusen and we now need to show that away from home. "But it's a much more different situation here now. We're more mindful of how we get the result here, it's important we get a result of sorts to keep ourselves in a strong position in the group." Nemanja Vidic and Robin van Persie did not travel with United, but Moyes said: "They're not long-term injuries. With the concussion, we just wanted to give Vida every opportunity to recover and Robin's groin is just not quite ready yet."
Manuel Pellegrini says his faltering Manchester City players have the "character, patience, fight and ability" to have a big season. have won just one of their last six games in all competitions and are currently eight points adrift of Premier League leaders Chelsea. But Pellegrini, writing in his programme notes ahead of today's clash at home to Swansea, said his players can drag themselves out of their current malaise. "There are a lot of games to go and we will see what happens," said "I know my players have the strength of character, patience, fight and ability for us to have a very big season. "It is still early in the season and I'm not worried about the league table at the moment. Some teams are playing very well but other big teams are not playing so well. "At the moment we are only thinking of ourselves and returning immediately to the way we normally play. That's ball that matters right now. If we do that then the results will take care big themselves." City are without David Silva, Edin Dzeko and Aleksandar Kolarov, although skipper Vincent Kompany has recovered from a calssi was led to safety in an Ibiza nightclub after a man appeared to try to attack the Barcelona forward.The shocking moment was captured on camera, with security guards seen surrounding the Argentina internationaBale back from Real Madrid.Bale’s future remains uncertain in the Spanish capital and a move back to the Premier League seems likely, with the 30-year-old still held in high regard back in Britain.”Come on, I don’t need to answer that,” Mourinho respl as he left the venue.Messi was partyf injury. Will Manchester City win any silverware this season?1000+ VOTES SO FAR
spina with Arsenal.The Colombian’s impressive displays for the Serie A outfit now look to see Napoli take up their option to buy and make his move permanent.However, Gazzetta dello Sport jouster United have taken a loss on the sale of Romelu Lukaku.It was claimed in England that United sold Lukaku to Inter for £75m.But after seeing the striker score in victory over Lecce last night, Conte stated: “We have clear ideas, we know where to rnalist Nicolo Schira claims Napoli president Aurelio De Lau
on a night which saw holders Swansea bow out at Birmingham. Javier Hernandez brought a sense of stability back to United after a turbulent week by netting the only goal of an absorbing tie at Old Trafford. Following a heavy weekend derby defeat to Manchester City, Hernandez wriggled away from Jose Enrique to touch home Wayne Rooney's corner early in the secone Tanguy Ndombele reaches his best.The Frenchman, who became the first senior arrival in the Tottenham squad since Lucas Moura in January 2018 when he moved from Lyon for £55.5million in July, impressed in the 5-0 Champions League win over Red Star d half of a game in which Luis Suarez impressed on his return from a 10-match suspension. Arguably the biggest shock of this year's Capital One Cup came at St Andrew's, where . After a first half in which Wilfried Bony and Alejandro Pozuelo hit the post in quick succession, the 2011 champions appeared a different animal after the break. Dan Burn headed home his first goal for the club in the 56th minute, before Matt Green added a second from close range soon after. Inspired by winger Chris Burke, who played his part in all three goals, Tom Adeyemi also got in on the act with his maiden goal late on – with Bony netting a consolation with virtually the last touch. Papiss onio Conte is more intense than ever.The pair worked together with the national team.“I already worked with Conte for two years when he was CT of the Nazionale, but I found him even more fired up and enthusiastic,” Candreva told Sport Mediaset.“HCisse's first goal since April helped ease . The Senegal international's drought finally ended 31 minutes into a pulsating encounter when he powered a header past goalkeeper Paddy Kenny to end a run stretching back to the 1-1 Europa League draw with Benfica on April 11. However, the tie remained in the balance until deep into the second half when strike partner Yoan Gouffran blasted home to wrap up a 2-0 win over the Sky Bet Championship side. Elsewhere, Stephen Ireland marked his first Stoke start with a goal at Tranmere. One of seven changes made by manager Mark Hughes, the on-loan Aston Villa midfielder put them ahead in the 23rd minute at Prenton Park. Peter Crouch, making his first start of the season, scored in stoppage time to seal . It took penalties to decide the final third round tie, with . Arsenal took the lead through Thomas Eisfeld in the second half, slotting in what was his first Gunners goal on his maiden start. However, West Brom equalised in the 71st minute through a Saido Berahino to take the game into extra time and eventually penalties. In the shoot-out, West Brom initially had the advantage after Luke Daniels saved Serge Gnabry's effort, but misses from Craig Dawson and Morgan Amalfitano allowed Nacho Monreal to seal victory for the away side.
A full version of this story appears in today's Read the full version of this story Xhaka insists he wants to stay with Arsenal.Despite being stripped of the club captaincy, the Swiss midfielder is adamant he sees his future with the Gunners.He told Blick: “For me, looking back it’s been very positive for a long time. After a diffiin today's People. Arsenal 7-1 Blackburn: Sunday Mirror match report Andy Dunn's Big Match Verdict: Why Walcott and Oxlade-Chamberlain can give England wings at Euro 2012 Walcott on verge of signing on to disappoint Liverpool Arsenal preparing £1.25m bid for Crewe wonderkid Wmidfielder has been likened to Marco Verratti and has emerged as a target for Barca academy chiefs, says Le Parisien.PSG are aware of Barca’s interest and some directors believe the Catalans are determined to ferry Michut away as an act of revenge foenger wants Henry to stay longer…and face Spurs
Chelsea are keeping tabs on Wolfsburg's Swiss international left-back Ricardo Rodriguez as at potential replacement for Ashley Cole. 's contract at Stamford Bridge comes to a conclusion at the end of this season and no new deal has yet been signed. The full-back, who is expected to start for , has been left out of ' starting XI in their last two matches, with is tdmits he long had it in my mind to leave Manchester United for Paris.Herrera quit United for PSG earlier this month in a Bosman deal.He revealed: “Who convinced me to sign for PSG? I spoke with the coach mainly, but of course also with the club in gehought to be in the market for a new left-back and 21-year-old Rodriguez has emerged as a major target, according to The Sun. The talented defender, who moved to the Bundesliga in January 2012 from FC Zurich, has been an ever-present for Dieter Hecking's side so far this term and has impressed with his all-round performances. He has also emerged as first-choice for a talented young Swiss side, who have already secured their place at next summer&apos his goal against Arsenal last season.The midfielder scored the only goal in a January victory over the Gunners, his first for the club.”I think you can see in the celebration how much it meant to me!” the 20-year-old smiled. “I wanted to jump in wit;s . And the player, born to a Spanish father and Chilean mother, could be available to other clubs if the price is right. Wolfsburg sporting director Klaus Allofs told Kicker: "It would be nice if we could get into the situation where there is interest from other clubs."
When Sir Alex Ferguson, towards the end of his Manchester United reign last season, claimed Phil Jones , there was much sniggering and rolling of eyes. Set against such iconic names as Sir Bobby Charlton, George Best, Eric Cantona, Ryan Giggs and Cristiano Ronaldo, and their laudable achievements, it seemed absurd to entertain the notion that Jones could even be mentioned in the same breath. Although a competent, diligent and hard-working player, Jones lacks the flair and bewitching qualities of those more illustrious names that have pulled on the famous United shirt in the past and captivated fans all over the world. As such, Ferguson may have been a little over-zealous in his estimation of where Jones may ultimately sit in the , despite the 21-year-old's undeniable qualities and potential. , Jones demonstrated his huge value to United, with an imperious display in two roles in each half – holding midfield and central defence – that ultimately set the tone for his side's crucial 1-0 win. Wayne Rooney may have run 11 kilometres in showcasing his customary industry to claim the man of the match champagne, but Jones certainly ran him close with an equally belligerent and committed display. Deployed in central midfield alongside Michael Carrick, Jones' remit was to disrupt Arsenal's passing carousel and effectively play the role of spoiler, a job he didristensen admits he grew up idolising Liverpool hero Dan Agger.The centre-back started his career in his home country of Denmark with Brondby, before moving to the youth team of Chelsea in 2012.He told Sky Sports: “When I moved to a defender, I had t to magnificent effect in the first-half. One can only imagine what Marouane Fellaini, bought from Everton for an inflated fee of £27million – £10m more than Jones it must be said – thought as he watched from the bench, following his underwhelming displays in that position Just as he has done in the past, notably against Real Madrid at the Bernabeu in the away leg of Champions League last 16 tie last season, Jones showed impressive discipline, awareness and aggression in performing his duties. It says everything about his effectiveness in the holding midfield role that when he dropped back into central defence for the second-half following Nemanja Vidic's withdrawal at half-time with concussion, Arsenal played with a freedom and enterprise they were denied in the first 45 minutes. United have been searching for an inspirational and commanding leadership figure in central midfield ever since former skipper Roy Keane quit the club in acrimonious circumstances in 2005 and may have just found the ideal candidate in Jones. With Darren Fletcher, who thrived in that position in recent years for United, still sidelined with colitis and with no certainty that he will ever make it back, Jones has emerged as the champions' go-to man to fulfil that role. While Jones may cite his preferred position as central defence, he has shown himself to be equally adept at operating in midfield, making key blocks, interceptions and irking the opposition, as well as embarking on surging runs from deep when the opportunity presents itself. Of course, Jones is still only 21 and there are obvious areas of his game that need improving, such as his passing range and vision when on the ball, but he has the raw materials to be a long-term success in the deeper-lying midfield role, charged with dn.The Swiss international was stripped of the Gunners captaincy earlier this season and is looking to leave next month.And Xhaka’s agent Jose Noguera claims the 27-year-old has a deal in a place with Hertha.”Look, I will say it frankly and honestly -isrupting the rhythm of opponents. Like Phil Neville and John O'Shea before him, though, Jones may ultimately prove to be a victim of his own versatility, given his ability to play in a variety of positions – centre-back, right-back and central midfield – with competence and reliability. Neville and O'Shea enjoyed glittering careers at United, but both were ultimately compromised by their effectiveness in several roles, something Jones will want to avoid as he seeks to nail down a regular role under David Moyes. So while United still seek a creative central figure to replace Paul Scholes, having seen their pursuit of Barcelona's Cesc Fabregas come to nothing in the summer, Moyes can at least take comfort in the fact that, in Jones, he has a defensive midfielder to potentially rival the very best out there.
The chair of the Chelsea Supporters' Group claims an apology form Rafa Benitez for his comments about Blues fans would help heal the rift between them. The former Liverpool boss was given a terrible reception when he made his introduction ascentre-back won first call-up to the England squad this week, and he has named Liverpool star van Dijk as an inspiration.”Him (Van Dijk) for sure. I think he is perhaps onmith.Smith joins the Rs on a season-long loan.Warburton said, “Matt can play as a defensive midfielder or slightly more advanced.“He is comfortable in both positions. I see him playing a key role in front of our back four.“He is tenacious, he re of the most complete centre-backs in world football right now. I try to watch the club's new manager against Manchester City at Stamford Bridge on Sunday. The resentment stems from comments made by the Spaniard that claimed he would never manage Chelsea and appearing to criticise their fans by saying they needed flags to get behind their team. Trizia Fiorellino told Press Association Sport: "I think (an apology) would help for some fans. Even an acceptance of what was said would be a start. "He's said he was trying to defend his club at the time but (then Chelsea boss Jose) Mourinho was the master of that and I don't think he ever directly ridiculed supporters of another club. "It's quite a thing to try to undo but an acceptance could definitely bring some people back on board. I do think he's a tough sell, though." Benitez was given a contract until the end of the season after the sacking last week of Roberto Di Matteo, who won the Champions League and FA Cup in May. Di Matteo was also a hugely popular player at Stamford Bridge and Fiorellino even speculated that his departure in favour of Benitez may have been a message to the fans from owner Roman Abramovich. "They don't listen to the fans," she said of the board. "I don't think Chelsea fans should be picking the manager or anything but it was pretty evident there were two people the supporters would not accept, and that was Avram Grant and Rafa Benitez. "Some fans feel almost that it was a message to the fans to say, 'We pick who we want', almost spiteful." David Chidgey, from the Chelsea FanCast podcast, said: "There are massive footballing reasons why we didn't want him. "He had not had a job for two years since destroying Jose Mourinho's treble-winning Inter Milan, he's questionable tactically with his rotation policy and he was on a downward curve at Liverpool. "It's a mystery why Roman makes any of these decisions but it's not our club, it's Roman's. I think the vitriolic reaction was a whole accumulation of things." Chelsea remain very much in the title race five points behind leaders Manchester United, but Chelsea Pitch Owners shareholder Tim Rolls does not think success on the pitch will be enough to win fans over. "I think there'll always be a resentment," he said. "If he has a lot of success in winning games then I think there's likely to be a solemn acceptance but the supporters aren't going to sing his name. "There's also the fact that he's a caretaker manager. "It's clear that the guy Roman really wants is Pep Guardiola, and he'll want to get Guardiola in the summer, but we won't be the only club after him and the concern is, because Benitez is in situ, we'll be stuck with him." Meanwhile,
Dwight Gayle faces an extended spell on the sidelines in a blow to Crystal Palace’s survival bid. The £6million striker is on the treatment table with an ankle injury after limping out of training with last week. Gayle, 23,ester City’s 5-0 victory over West Ham United at London Stadium was overshadowed by the frequent use of VAR, which disallowed one goal, gave another, and then re-ordered a missed penalty from Sergio Aguero.We could discuss the pros and cons of VAR en will now miss vital games in the Premier League ranchester United star Marcus Rashford wants trophies, not goalscoring records.The England attacker is one of the Red Devils players who has a chance of beating Wayne Rooney’s goals record for the club.Rashford has been with United all his career, andun-in. He is out of Saturday’s clash with Chelsea and is set to sit out next month’s crunch matches with Cardiff and Aston Villa. The south Londoners – who have scored just once in their last five games – are already without top scorer Marouane Chamakh (hamstring). Will Crystal Palace stay up?0+ VOTES SO FAR
held their nerve and reinforced their Premier League title claims at Stamford Bridge last night. And not for the first time this season, they were grateful to the mesmeric skills of Edeiverpool midfielder Adam Lallana.The Telegraph says Newcastle are interested in signing Lallana,Interest in the England international is high, with his deal on Merseyside set to expire at the end of the season.Genk striker Mbwana Samatta and Burnley n Hazard as they secured three points The Scottish midfield player equalised from 60 yards after Hazard opened the scoring with a penalty. Victorious Jose Mourinho hailed the strike, saying: “It was a fantastic goal, every super player in the world would like to score a goal like that. Diego Maradona… Lionel Messi… all these brilliant players. “Not all of them did score that goal in their careers.” The Chelsea manager’s generous post-match demeanour was helped by a second-half strike from Loic Remy But it was victory at a price as as a substitute. He is a player who will be sorely missed if there is a serious recurrence of the hamstring problem that has plagued him this season. But insisted: “For sure with that injury it will be a couple of weeks minimum. My medical department is fantastic so there is no problem. “Next week we play Remy and Drogba and wait for Costa again.” For long periods, it was a game for which one manager had planned and the other dreaded. came to Stamford Bridge to frustrate, smother and negate Chelsea. And it appeared to be working as the hosts found themselves confronted by a wall of red and white. Goalkeeper Asmir Begovic still needed to be at his most alert after three minutes when Remy’s shot appeared to hold little threat until it hit Mark Wilson and spun towards the top corner. But the Bosnia international did superbly to change direction and claw the ball away. Then it evolved as a battle between Hazard and the massed ranks of the Stoke defence. There was danger whenever the Belgian maestro was in possession and he almost opened the scoring with a shot from the edge of the area but again Begovic was in ther AC Milan boss will replace Carlo Ancelotti, who was sacked on Tuesday evening.Ancelotti was shown the door just three hours after the final whistle of Napoli’s 4-0 rout of Champions League opponents Genk. The result sees the Azzurri reach the round right place at the right time. Stoke boss was clearly aware of the danger posed by the foraging runs of Branislav Ivanovic down the Chelsea right flank and used Adam – usually one of the more creative talents – to mark the Serb. It had the desired effect. Yet Chelsea’s territorial advantage grew and in the 39th minute it told. Willian released Cesc Fabregas into the area and his turn was too quick and clever for Philipp Wollscheid and the German brought him down. Hazard completed the job from the spot. Moments later, Adam gave Fabregas a bloody nose in a challenge. Four minutes later he gave the rest of the Chelsea team the same treatment with an extraordinary goal. collected the ball inside his own half and spotted Thibaut Courtois off his line. From fully 60 yards the Scotland international fired into the Chelsea net. Hughes said: “Fair play to him for seeing the goalkeeper off his line and he despatched it, fantastic skill. It’s just a shame we weren’t able to capitalise on that.” At half-time, Mourinho called for the cavalry. Off went ineffective Oscar and on came talisman Costa. Unfortunately, it was a gamble that misfired as the Spaniard limped off to be replaced by Mourinho’s unease was soothed when Hazard took advantage of a rare slip by Begovic whose 62nd-minute clearance went to the Belgian who then cut inside and set Remy up to score a tap-in. Mourinho said: “It was difficult and deserved. I wouldn’t expect to play beautifully. The performances during the beginning of the season is what puts you in a position to be champions. “We started needing six wins and one draw and now we need five wins and one draw.” In pictures – Chelsea 2-1 Stoke:
Arsenal face Hull City today in the FA Cup final at Wembley, and will be hoping to win their first piece of silverware in nine years. A new trophy has been created for today's match, in the competition's history. But ifs penalty taking.Senegal have enjoyed a successful Africa Cup of Nations as they secured their place in the last eight with a narrow 1-0 victory against Uganda on Friday.Mane netted the decisive goal after quarter of an hour, although the Liverpool f Arsenal are unsuccessful, their prize will be to become the tournament's premier bridesmaids, equalling Everton's record as the FA Cup's most regular runners-up. Everton have been runners-up in the competition eight times, while Arsenal have been runners-up seven times. Newcastle, Man Utd, and Liverpool have also finished as runners-up on seven occasions each. West Brom, Preston and Man City have finished runners-up on five occasions. WolvesSun says he had been seen within Old Trafford as a back-up plan during the pursuit of Erling Haaland.Calvert-Lewin, 22, would cost around £50m, almost treble the £18M release clause that saw Norwegian whizz-kid Haaland move to Borussia Dortmund.New, Chelsea, and Huddersfield have finished runners-up on four occasions.
Chelsea reinforced their challenge for a top four Premier League finish – but their victory over Wigan was shrouded in controversy. The priorities for Wigan are at the other end of the Premier League and the least they could ask for against one of the high profile opponents they have to confront is efficient performances from the officials. They did not get it. Chelsea’s opening goal by Branislav Ivanovic was clearly offside and although Mohamed Diame struck a superb equaliser, Juan Mata clinchep against Everton.The Hammers are without a victory in their last three matches in all competitions, including disappointing defeats at the hands of Oxford United in the Carabao Cup and Crystal Palace in the Premier League.“I am looking forward to d victory in time added on by referee Mike Jones. Wigan boss Roberto Martinez said: “We are really down, because we didn’t get the result we deserved. There is a sense of real injustice. “We won at Liverpool recently but there we had a strong referee. We came to Chelsea, semi-finalists in the Champions League, and looked a real threat. “It has happened too many times this season that bad decisions go against us.” Chelsea boss Roberto Di Matteo said: “When you play a midweek game in the Champions League, you sometimes get a hangover in the next match. “But this group has belief and character and Ivanovic showed we can get goals from everywhere. “But you also have to give credit to Wigan. They were really unlucky not to get something out of the game.” There was a distinct air of anti-climax at Stamford Bridge following the midweek entry into the sedeal.Juve sports chief Fabio Paratici was in Barcelona earlier this week for talks over a series transfer issues.Tuttosport says negotiations have progressed over a swap involving Emre Can and Barca ace Ivan Rakitic.Paratici has offered Can in part-emi-finals of the Champions League. The buzz beforehand was of Barcelona. Wigan? They were there to make up the numbers – except no one told them. Latics started with an assurance untypical of a team scrapping for their lives, and in the lively Victor Moses had a man capable of stretching a revamped Chelsea defence lacking the dynamism of Ashley Cole and commanding presence of John Terry. And they had the eccentric and at times elastic goalkeeper Ali Al Habsi who has few equals in the Premier League when it comes to shot-stopping. Gary Cahill tested his reflexes with a stinging 30-yarder that the Omani turned over the bar, but he was just warming to his task. His best was reserved for a remarkable save from Mata in the 38th minute. Didier Drogba pounced on the rebound but Maynor Figueroa cleared the danger. Drogba suffered again when Mata crossed and the Ivorian headed powerfully but again was frustrated as Al Habsi leapt to tip the ball away. But in truth, it was a muted Chelsea offering and their disaffected fans resorted to cheering the antics of a pigeon that flew from one end of The Shed end to the other. In the 50th minute, haphazard Wigan defending gave Drogba a chance from six yards but again Al Habsi left him cursing the Wigan keeper’s talents. Then all Al Habsi’s good work was undone by an atrocious decision by assistant referee David Bryan. Mata’s free-kick was cleared only for him to return it into the box to Ivanovic. Television replays showed the Serbian defender clearly offside but his close-range effort was allowed to stand amid vehement Wigan protests. Martinez continued the argument with Bryan and fourth official Stuart Attwell, all to no avail, of course, but the sense of grievance was understandable. Justice seemed to be done eight minutes from time when substitute Diame produced a quite magnificent strike to bring the visitors level. There seemed little danger as he gathered the ball 20 yards out but he unleashed a fearsome shot that gave Petr Cech no chance. However, the last word belonged to Chelsea. Fernando Torres may not score too often but in the second minute of time added on, the substitute’s superb angled volley from Drogba’s cross hit a post and Mata bundled in the rebound. It was so cruel for Wigan, but relief for Di Matteo and his Chelsea side.
It was Albert Einstein who defined insanity as ‘doing the same things over and over again and expecting different results’. And it was Paul Merson about the madness of Arsene Wenger last week. If we were to imagine a spectrum of human intelligence and eloquence, with Einstein and Merson at opposite ends, the would find himself closer to the great theoretical physicist than the Sky Soccer Saturday pundit. Yet you don’t have to be Einstein to understand Arsenal’s shortcomings. You merely have to be Merson. That is how glaring and long-standing these problems are. After Arsenal , Merson asked how world-class players could have been bombing forward rather than looking to protect their lead, then wondered how many games Jose Mourinho has ever drawn after being three-up. Yet the more you compare Wenger unfavourably with his , the more stubborn he becomes. And so a wide-open tossed away another lead to lose at Swansea on Sunday. To call for the recruitment of another world-class central defender and a commanding defensive midfield player at cash-rich Arsenal is to state the bleeding obvious. Gallery: Arsenal 3-3 Anderlecht To call for a wholesale change in attitude at a club which has become cosily complacent would be more useful. Where are Arsenal’s ‘over-my-dead-body’ players? Those with the character to ensure that Anderlecht and Swansea do not get a sniff? Those which Chelsea – with a lower wage bill than Arsenal – possess in spades. Diego Costa, Nemanja Matic, Branislav Ivanovic, John Terry and Gary Cahill do not hand out even breaks to suckers. Either Arsenal’s recruitment policy lacks diligent personal profiling, or players are softened up once at the Emirates, while becoming armour-plated at Stamford Bridge. Perhaps both. Wenger frequently talks of his players being ‘winners’. But they are not. Not in spirit, nor even by dictionary definition. Arsenal have won just seven of 18 matches this season. And why is Arsenal’s treatment room always packed, while Chelsea’s never is? A gypsy curse or bad science? Mourinho made a point of praising his club’s medical department after victory at Liverpool. Wenger seems to ignores his own. Per Mertesacker is thrust before the media to explain each failure. At 6ft 7in, he is the obvious man to stick his head above the parapet. Gallery: Swansea 2-1 Arsenal As a World Cup winner, he knows only a balanced squad can briabian-backed group to buy the club.The consortium, fronted by financier Amanda Staveley, is believed to be the only viable option to acquire the club, despite rumours of other interested parties.But Ashley will not be pressurised into a quick decisiong success. Yet Arsenal will continue to finish in the top four, be seeded in their Champions League group, reach the last 16, then lose. This cycle is deemeer Newcastle United’s interest in Bruno Genesio has been rumbled.The former Lyon coach has been linked with the Toon job – and contact has been confirmed by his agent Pini Zahavi.Genesio has hired Zahavi to find him a club in England and the agent add acceptable, by Wenger and the board, and so players are not challenged to their limits. Wenger claims his media . Yet they have nothing to be bitter about. They love watching the Arsenal, because the Arsenal always entertain. With Alexis Sanchez, more so than ever. Those critics would love to see Wenger’s eyeball-pleasing football rewarded with glory. It’s just that they keep hearing themselves saying the same things over and over again. Without ever expecting different results. Should Arsene Wenger step aside and leave Arsenal?11000+ VOTES SO FAR