Archive for December 21st, 2017

FA takes no action over Manchester derby tunnel row

Thursday, December 21st, 2017
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After clashes between players in the wake of the Manchester derby, the FA has confirmed no “formal action” will be taken against the clubs

No formal action will be taken by the Football Association (FA) over an incident in the tunnel following Manchester City’s Premier League win at Manchester United.

Players and staff from both sides reportedly clashed after City’s 2-1 derby victory at Old Trafford earlier this month.

Referee Michael Oliver did not witness the incident and did not file a report, leaving the FA to investigate the skirmish, which allegedly began when United manager Jose Mourinho approached the City dressing room to complain about music being played loudly.

“Following a review of the evidence provided by the clubs and independent eyewitnesses, the FA will be taking no formal action,” an FA statement released on Thursday said.

Both clubs had been asked for their observations and were granted additional time to respond to the governing body.

Separately, Mourinho was asked to explain comments he made to the media in the build-up to the derby, when the Portuguese appeared to accuse City of gamesmanship, saying: “A little bit of wind and they fall.”

Following the December 10 derby – which City won thanks to goals from David Silva and Nicolas Otamendi to move 11 points clear of United in the Premier League table – Mourinho explained his part in the incident.

“The only thing I can say is it was just a question of diversity; diversity in behaviours, diversity in education,” Mourinho, who was reportedly splashed with milk during the fracas, told reporters when asked about the alleged flashpoint. “Nothing more than that. That’s all I’m going to say.”

In response to Mourinho’s complaint, City coach Pep Guardiola insisted his players had not set out to rile their neighbours following the victory.

“Our intention was not that [to upset United]. Our intention was to celebrate inside the locker room our happiness, because we were happy,” he said.

“If people can’t understand that then I am sorry. We were so happy, we won a derby and wanted to celebrate in the locker room.

“If in that we offend Man United – not just one player, not Jose, not the players – Man United, I apologise.”

After clashes between players in the wake of the Manchester derby, the FA has confirmed no “formal action” will be taken against the clubs

No formal action will be taken by the Football Association (FA) over an incident in the tunnel following Manchester City’s Premier League win at Manchester United.

Players and staff from both sides reportedly clashed after City’s 2-1 derby victory at Old Trafford earlier this month.

Referee Michael Oliver did not witness the incident and did not file a report, leaving the FA to investigate the skirmish, which allegedly began when United manager Jose Mourinho approached the City dressing room to complain about music being played loudly.

“Following a review of the evidence provided by the clubs and independent eyewitnesses, the FA will be taking no formal action,” an FA statement released on Thursday said.

Both clubs had been asked for their observations and were granted additional time to respond to the governing body.

Separately, Mourinho was asked to explain comments he made to the media in the build-up to the derby, when the Portuguese appeared to accuse City of gamesmanship, saying: “A little bit of wind and they fall.”

Following the December 10 derby – which City won thanks to goals from David Silva and Nicolas Otamendi to move 11 points clear of United in the Premier League table – Mourinho explained his part in the incident.

“The only thing I can say is it was just a question of diversity; diversity in behaviours, diversity in education,” Mourinho, who was reportedly splashed with milk during the fracas, told reporters when asked about the alleged flashpoint. “Nothing more than that. That’s all I’m going to say.”

In response to Mourinho’s complaint, City coach Pep Guardiola insisted his players had not set out to rile their neighbours following the victory.

“Our intention was not that [to upset United]. Our intention was to celebrate inside the locker room our happiness, because we were happy,” he said.

“If people can’t understand that then I am sorry. We were so happy, we won a derby and wanted to celebrate in the locker room.

“If in that we offend Man United – not just one player, not Jose, not the players – Man United, I apologise.”

Klopp’s heavy metal football drowning out Wenger’s Arsenal orchestra

Thursday, December 21st, 2017

Rather fittingly, at a time of year dominated by those donning red and white, two sides as synonymous with those colours as Mr Claus himself will be seeking to spread their own brand of festive cheer at Emirates Stadium on Friday.

Some 48 hours before St. Nick starts on his rounds, Monsieur Wenger and Herr Klopp will reach into their proverbial sack and endeavour to pull out three points which will help to make a feast of Brussels sprouts and visits to the in-laws a little easier to stomach.

There will be no Christmas No. 1 spot up for grabs in north London – with a bearded man with seemingly magical powers who operates from an inclement northern base having already wrapped that up – but there are important chart positions up for grabs.

Arsenal and Liverpool both have the opportunity to ensure that a standing inside the Premier League’s top four is secured before settling down for their turkey dinner on Monday, but only one of them can claim that coveted berth.

The men from Merseyside find themselves in pole position at present, and taking anything from their latest visit to the capital will keep them inside the Champions League places heading towards 2018.

For the Gunners, only victory will do – with it possible that defeat could leave them languishing in seventh, back behind arch-rivals Tottenham, by the time they discover whether they were on the naughty or nice list.

Arsene Wenger’s side will not be home alone in their quest – with there likely to be some 59,000 visitors popping round to theirs – but they need to find a way of keeping the back door bolted and repelling the efforts of Jurgen Klopp’s ‘Wet Bandits’ to breach their defence.

They need to call the tune and have Liverpool dancing to their beat.

Unfortunately, that has been a problem for Arsenal in recent times, with their refined musical tastes rather drowned out by the more garish fancies of an old adversary.

To use Klopp’s own words to explain the differences between himself and Wenger: “He likes having the ball, playing football, passes. It’s like an orchestra, but it is a silent song. I like heavy metal more. I always want it loud.”

Arsenal, then, find themselves cast as the easy-listening Cliff Richard type, while Liverpool unsettle the establishment as hard-rocking Rage Against The Machine.

It is an approach which has served the Reds well, with Klopp yet to taste defeat against the Gunners since accepting a managerial post at Anfield back in October 2015 – with Arsenal having taken just one point from him in four outings and shipped a rather alarming 14 goals.

The German has found a formula that works, but you do not need to be a tactical genius or even a seasoned performer on Football Manager to appreciate the benefits of the Gegenpress – with position often winning out over possession.

Klopp is renowned for his high-energy, high-press approach, and Arsenal have struggled to counter that with a winning methodology of their own.

They have been breached at least three times in each of their last four meetings with Liverpool, with important figures across the board heading in the wrong direction once they are pitched into battle with the Reds.

On any given Premier League day, the Gunners average 59% possession, boast close to 84% passing accuracy from around 575 attempts, take in over 774 touches, make 65 recoveries and fire in 15 shots on goal.

All of those numbers dip against Liverpool, with Wenger’s side yet to hit their mean in any of those areas over the last two-and-a-bit seasons, while they end up going over their average in terms of fouls conceded, yellow cards received, saves made and errors leading to shots.

Clearly, they are forced to work much harder against Klopp’s men than they are most other opponents, with Wenger’s side given no time in which to settle and dictate the tempo in a manner which plays to their strengths.

As a result, the orchestra plays out of time, chief conductor Wenger drops the baton and everything becomes a bit of a mess.

Klopp, meanwhile, is busy gurning and growling his way around the technical area like a bespectacled Ozzy Osbourne as the volume gets turned up another notch in the Liverpool dugout.

Arsenal will get another opportunity to pull that plug on Friday, but if a Merry Christmas is to be enjoyed at the Emirates, then the Gunners must find a few rock star qualities of their own – with Wenger needing to be less Santa and Le Professeur and more Slash and Lemmy.