Jose Mourinho has taken aim at the Football Association as Tottenham prepare to return to action against Manchester United tonight, while Arsenal are a joke already.
FRIDAY’S BIG HEADLINES
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The return of Premier League football has certainly been surreal but it’s comforting how quickly certain tropes have reasserted themselves, ensuring a smoother transition into this alternate reality soundtracked by fake crowd noise.
Arsenal being hilarious for one (more on which below), and technology which is supposed to assist decision-making actually sabotaging it for another. Yesterday, another blanket of familiarity was snuggled into when Jose Mourinho had a pop at someone in a press conference: on this occasion, the Football Association.
The reason for his ire, on the eve of Tottenham’s first game back against Manchester United tonight, was the fact that Dele Alli is suspended as a result of his one-game ban for joking about coronavirus in a Snapchat video in which he appeared to mock an Asian man. Which seems like pretty solid grounds for a suspension, and possibly more than one game.
But Mourinho was unhappy with the apparent double standards of the game’s governing body as he railed against the decision.
“I feel very, very sorry that Dele is not playing,” Mourinho said. “He’s a player that works so, so hard during all this period and he’s really frustrated that he cannot play the first match. I don’t think he deserves a one-match ban compared with wrong behaviours at much bigger dimensions that happened during this period without any consequences.
I don’t like these kind of contradictions. It’s for everybody or it’s for nobody and it’s quite unfair for a kid who made a mistake and apologised for it … I really don’t agree with it.
Asked for clarity on just who he had in mind regarding “wrong behaviours at much bigger dimensions”, to his credit Mourinho cited his own lockdown breach when he was pictured interacting with Tanguy Ndombele in a park. Although he had a ready-made excuse for that too.
“I spent two minutes with him, trying to teach him how to use the WiFi GPS, nothing more than that,” Mourinho said. “It was nothing. We were working with the players at a distance, on Zoom. We were monitoring the players with WiFi GPS. At that time the players were allowed to go and run in the street and the park, which is what they were doing.”
So Dele Alli shouldn’t have been punished for an offensive video about coronavirus and an Asian man because much worse things happened? But these much worse things weren’t in fact very bad at all? Great to have you back, Jose.
Arsenal: a joke
David Luiz gets sent off
Image credit: Eurosport
Two days into Project Restart and yesterday Arsenal were already facing up to the news that they had lost one defender, Pablo Mari, for the remainder of the bizarro summer season due to injury, and probably could not afford to retain another despite David Luiz making a good case for his valuation being somewhere in the region of £250 following that calamitous performance against Manchester City on Wednesday night. Truly, what a club.
Mikel Arteta and his hair were on another Zoom press conference call yesterday and the main talking point was Luiz, after his incredible cameo against City in which he managed to give away one goal with a mistake, concede a penalty and get sent off in roughly the same time it takes to watch an episode of Neighbours.
Despite claiming with a straight face that he was keen to keep Luiz around – “me personally, I am going to defend him with everything I have because I believe in him. He has shown me a lot of things in his time here and his career speaks for itself” – Arteta then acknowledged that any contract extension could prove problematic in the current climate.
“Well, we cannot forget the financial situation,” he said. “The way that Covid-19 has hit every club and the economy in general, it’s going to have an impact. What the club is doing at the moment is assessing the situation and trying to clarify a lot of uncertainties that we have in the future. We have to make big decisions and time-wise it is difficult to fit them in with our needs. We are trying our best and the club is trying their best.”
In fairness, it is a very good catch-all excuse. Someone you’d rather avoid is pestering you to meet up? “Sorry, pandemic.” Children hassling you about buying a toy they’ve seen on TV? “Sorry, pandemic.” Got an awkward decision to make about a defender who attracts calamity like a magnet attracts metal filings? “Sorry, pandemic.”
Chelsea making serious moves
While Arsenal are unable to extend David Luiz’s contract due to their pandemic-ravaged finances, Chelsea have clearly spotted a glaring competitive advantage offered to them by the riches of Roman Abramovich and yesterday announced the £47.5m capture of Timo Werner.
Most clubs in the Premier League are facing a summer, and beyond, of austerity as they try and contain the damage inflicted by the loss of matchday revenue and other income streams. But having already bagged Hakim Ziyech for £37m earlier this year, Werner will now become a Chelsea player too. Clearly, there has been a recognition that with a little dip into Abramovich’s wallet, Chelsea can leap one or two levels ahead of most of their major rivals.
It’s only three years since Chelsea could have been considered legitimately one of the best teams in Europe, as Antonio Conte captured the Premier League title in his first season, but this season had all been about Frank Lampard’s youth project. Now, with Werner arriving in July, and rumours of Kai Havertz and Ben Chilwell following, it all feels a little like the summer of 2003 again albeit with more facemasks.
“I am delighted to be signing for Chelsea, it is a very proud moment for me to be joining this great club,” said Werner. “I of course want to thank RB Leipzig, the club and the fans, for four fantastic years. You will forever be in my heart. I look forward to next season with my new team-mates, my new manager and of course the Chelsea fans. Together we have a very successful future ahead of us.”
IN OTHER NEWS
Someone please explain this to us…
IN THE CHANNELS
Premier Sports were showing Real Madrid against Valencia last night, a match which witnessed two splendid goals as Zinedine Zidane’s side ran out 3-0 winners.
First up: a wonderful moment for Marco Asensio as he did this with his first touch in football for a year, after returning from an ACL injury:
And then just look at this from Karim Benzema. Oh my.
Manchester United at Tottenham? Any excuse to wheel out one of the greatest games in Premier League history…
It’s matchday two of Project Restart as Norwich take on Southampton in a must-win game at 6pm, before Manchester United travel to Tottenham at 8:15pm for the Mourinho derby. Oh, and it’s Sevilla v Barcelona at 9pm and you can follow all the matches live with us.
Andi Thomas is here on Monday to report on a full weekend of Premier League football. A. FULL. WEEKEND. OF. PREMIER. LEAGUE. FOOTBALL. You really do love to see it.
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