Tag Archives: crosses

Jose Mourinho dismisses Real Madrid quit talk after Iker Casillas gamble backfires

I'm not going to quit! Mourinho defiant after Casillas axe backfires in latest Real defeat



11:51 GMT, 23 December 2012

Jose Mourinho put his Real Madrid future on the line by axing Spain goalkeeper and captain Iker Casillas amid suggestions that he was inviting the club to fire him before Manchester United visit in the Champions League in February.

Madrid fell 16 points behind Barcelona ahead of the mid-winter break after losing 3-2 at Malaga last night, leaving president Florentino Perez under pressure to act.

Mourinho was asked if, at any point, he had thought of resigning. He replied: ‘No. Not during, or after.’

Asked why he left out Casillas he said: ‘It was a technical decision. A coach analyses the players and decides.’

Real Madrid's goalkeeper Iker Casillas sits on the bench

Gamble: Real Madrid goalkeeper Iker Casillas

Real Madrid's goalkeeper Iker Casillas
Ramos demands calm

Real Madrid defender Sergio Ramos has called on his team-mates to ignore all the speculation surrounding their poor form.

He said: 'Once again we have dropped important points, despite the team playing well in the first half, in which we had chances to score but we didn't have any luck.

'We shouldn't think about the league leaders or anybody else. We should only think about ourselves.

'We must be self-critical and La Liga is now very difficult, practically impossible, but we need to keep on fighting.

'When we lose many conclusions are drawn, but it is when we must use our heads the most.'

Critics argue that the Portuguese has
already decided to go at the end of the season and knows that if he is
dismissed he would be due compensation of €20million (16.3m) — hence
the incendiary decision to leave out a club legend.

His supporters emphasise that the
team have conceded seven of their 17 goals from set-pieces this season
and point to Casillas’s weakness on crosses.

For Mourinho to drop the two-times European champion and World Cup winner is seen as provocative.

Former Real Madrid sporting director
Jorge Valdano said of the decision: ‘It is a show of force, to prove he
is stronger than one of the legends of the club.’

Mourinho insisted he has no
intention of quitting as Real Madrid coach and does not fear for his job.

The Primera Division season has not
even reached its winter break and Madrid's title defence looks to be in
tatters with Mourinho's men now 16 points behind runaway leaders
Barcelona following another hugely disappointing night for the

Barca extended their lead earlier in the night with a 3-1 win at Real Valladolid and Madrid were unable to react as they slumped to a 3-2 loss at fourth-placed Malaga.

That was Madrid's fourth league defeat of the campaign and seventh in all competitions this season, which is already more than they suffered in the whole of the last campaign and has seen the pressure build on coach Mourinho.

Not impressed: Real Madrid boss Jose Mourinho

Gamble: Real Madrid boss Jose Mourinho

Not impressed: Real Madrid's president Florentino Perez (right)

Not impressed: Real Madrid's president Florentino Perez (right)

However, the Portuguese, who took the
surprise decision to omit club captain Iker Casillas from his starting
line-up tonight, was in defiant mood when asked whether he had
considered stepping down.

He told reporters at the post-match press conference: 'Neither before, during or after the game have I thought about resigning.

don't fear for my position. This is football. I'm not a child, nor have
I been here for a couple of days. Coaches know that football has no
memory and only takes into account what was done today and not what was
done yesterday.

'It doesn't take into account what titles you've won, nor the work you've done, it's all about the now.'

Madrid, who on Thursday were paired
against Manchester United in the last-16 of the Champions League,
dominated the first half against Malaga but could not take advantage and
were made to pay as Isco put the hosts ahead just after half-time.

An own goal from Sergio Sanchez levelled the scores up midway through
the second period but Malaga substitute Roque Santa Cruz struck twice in
three minutes to put the Andalusian side 3-1 up.

Lacklustre: Real Madrid's Cristiano Ronaldo

Lacklustre: Real Madrid's Cristiano Ronaldo

Benzema pulled another goal back but it was not enough to save Madrid,
whose defeat follows a Copa del Rey fifth-round first-leg loss to Celta
Vigo and last weekend's 2-2 home draw with struggling Espanyol in La

Mourinho said: 'We're sad to have lost but the players have done their
best. They tried against Espanyol and today, but we didn't have any

'This week off comes at the ideal moment. The players are empty. They have given everything and they haven't been rewarded.'

Regarding his selection of Antonio Adan ahead of long-term first-choice
goalkeeper Casillas, Mourinho said: 'It's a technical decision. The
coach analyses the situation, looks at the players at his disposal and
chooses his team. At the moment, for me and my coaching staff, Adan is
better than Iker.

'You can invent the stories that you want but it's purely a technical decision.'

Mourinho conceded last week when Madrid fell 13 points behind Barca that
catching the leaders was 'practically impossible' and he remains
resigned to losing their title.

He said: 'Real Madrid were champions last season with a nine-point
advantage to second place. This season we are at a distance which, in my
opinion, is insurmountable. We have to assume responsibility that we
are not having a good season.'

Olivier Giroud: I picked the wrong time to join Arsenal

I picked the wrong time to join Arsenal, admits 12m summer signing Giroud



22:42 GMT, 7 December 2012

Olivier Giroud has admitted he may have joined Arsenal at the wrong time, with the club experiencing their worst start to the season for 18 years and selling 'some of the best players every two or three years'.

The 26-year-old striker, who has scored seven goals in 22 games since his 12million move from Montpellier last summer, said Arsenal do not create enough chances and are guilty of over-playing the ball in front of goal.

French fancy: Giroud is the 23rd Frenchman to play during Wenger's reign

French fancy: Giroud is the 23rd Frenchman to play during Wenger's reign

Giroud has immersed himself in the 'weight of history' at Arsenal, but does not feel pressure to emulate Arsenal forwards such as Robin van Persie, Thierry Henry and Dennis Bergkamp.

Asked whether he felt he had arrived at the wrong time, Giroud told L'Equipe magazine: 'Yes. But it puts less pressure on my shoulders. I feel the pressure of the result, not the weight of my predecessors. When you come to a big club, of course you replace a great striker (like Van Persie). It's useless to have that in your head.

'It is up to the new boys to make sure the others are forgotten.We need to be more efficient in all areas of the pitch – to be more realistic and to offer more variety.

'When you're attacking, you hope for more crosses. It is not spontaneous enough when we are in positions to cross. I have talked with my team-mates about this.

'Arsenal has the culture of the passing game, perhaps too much. I am not staking a claim to be the coach, but I am fortunate to be at a club where we can talk about such things.'

Giroud believes Arsenal, who sit 10th with just 21 points from their first 15 games, should look at his former club to see a side capable of winning the championship without 'spending millions'.

On the ball: Per Mertesacker and Giroud in training

On the ball: Per Mertesacker and Giroud in training

Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger has described Montpellier's first Ligue 1 title last season as a 'miracle', given Paris Saint- Germain's financial clout since Qatar Sports Investments bought a 70 per cent stake in June 2011.

Montpellier finished 14th in 2010-11 but won the league by three points from PSG a year later. Giroud was the competition's joint top scorer with 21 goals.

He said: 'My story proves that you can win titles without being a star. Manchester City became champions thanks to their chequebook. Montpellier took on PSG without using their chequebook. Here we bought Santi Cazorla and he did not cost 50 million! Arsene Wenger does not buy a team. He builds one. He built his group with this philosophy.

'Even though it's been seven years since the club won anything, they have a strong identity. Even if the club lose some of their best players every two or three years, they do not deviate from this philosophy.'

Arsenal legend: French striker Thierry Henry

Arsenal legend: French striker Thierry Henry

Giroud admitted he gets goosebumps when he hears fans singing his name to the tune of The Beatles' Hey Jude and believes he has fitted in well at a Premier League club with a 'Frenchy' touch.

'I am the 23rd Frenchman to play here since the arrival of Arsene Wenger,' he added. 'This club are marked by the goals of Henry and by Patrick Vieira. There is music in the locker room before matches; it was forbidden at Montpellier. I love this casual approach.

'But it's true, Arsenal do some things a French way. The photo of Vieira and the coach with the league trophy in 2004, it talks to me. There is also a statue of Thierry Henry.

'Once you've integrated as an Arsenal player, it gives you confidence. Fans make you understand that it is an honour to wear this shirt.'

Andre Villas-Boas" take on English: the new Ronglish

First there was 'Ronglish' (which we loved), now it's 'AVBinglish' as the Spurs boss has his own take on talking the beautiful game



12:37 GMT, 28 November 2012

Andre Villas-Boas is known for using some strange tactics and he is fast becoming known for some even stranger language. The Tottenham manager recently described Jermain Defoe as being able to ‘smell every cross’, but that was far from being the 35-year-old’s most bizarre use of phrasing.

He is said to have missed out on an opportunity at Burnley in 2010 because of some inexplicable use of the English language in his application.

Pioneer: Villas-Boas has a unique take on the English language

Pioneer: Villas-Boas has a unique take on the English language

Chief Executive Paul Fletcher released his autobiography early in November, and in it described the application that was sent in by Villas-Boas after the departure of Owen Coyle as being ‘very detailed and lengthy.’

‘Tommy Docherty used to say he never said anything to his players his milkman wouldn’t understand,’ wrote Fletcher. ‘I don’t think any milkman would fathom the meaning of a lot of Andre’s presentation.

Nose for goal: AVB claimed that Defoe (left) can smell crosses

Nose for goal: AVB claimed that Defoe (left) can smell crosses

‘The language and jargon of football
gets worse by the day. Villas-Boas uses a lot of it. Would Burnley
players have ever understood what he wanted if he’d told them to
'solidificate’ or some of his other terms’

That was one of Villas-Boas’ less comprehensible phrases, but the manager does have a habit of failing to find the right word for the occasion. He has described his own team’s performance as being ‘amazing in all sectors’ against Manchester United, as well as saying before the loss of his job at Chelsea that there was ‘doubtness over the future.’

After arriving at Tottenham the manager
said that the Spurs players ‘feel the dimension of the club and where
the club want to arrive,’ while back at Chelsea, just before his
sacking, he said of his club’s position: ‘It can go into the equation,
that the third place becomes nearer to us.’ Admittedly, whilst not the
most eloquent description of the club’s situation, most listeners would
be able to decipher what the manager meant.

Less clear is the Portuguese’s assertion that football is a ‘massive sport in which we are inserted.’

It does seem that the Portuguese has picked up some words and phrases that have become particular favourites. Every positive experience is ‘gratifying,’ whilst anything his team do well, they do well ‘in every sense of the word.’

Marouane Fellaini is unplayable for Everton

Everton's mile high midfield genius Fellaini can be unplayable



22:30 GMT, 4 November 2012

At 6ft 4in in his bare feet, not counting the hair, it would be easy to describe Marouane Fellaini as a target man and stop there.

Simplistic enough for Steven Gerrard possibly — how the Liverpool captain must be rueing the moment he opened his mouth and likened the neighbours to Stoke.

Fellaini’s jaw-dropping performance in Saturday’s 2-2 draw at Fulham reinforced the view that the Everton attacking midfielder is, indeed, pretty good in the air.

Imposing: Marouane Fellaini stamped his authority on the game

Imposing: Marouane Fellaini stamped his authority on the game

Add to that a dynamo constitution, an eye for a goal, an ability to link and a masterful delivery of crosses and it is hardly surprising that team-mate Phil Jagielka described the Belgian as ‘unplayable’.

As well as the seven miles which Fellaini covered at Craven Cottage, the player scored twice to spare the embarrassment of the sadly out-of-sorts Nikica Jelavic.

The first came from a passing move while the second was, admittedly, from a long diagonal ball punted forward but dispatched with quality.

‘It’s not just a case of chucking him up there to collect long balls, he’s a really good footballer,’ said Jagielka.

‘Felli had an OK first half but in the second half he was as good as he has been. He was near enough unplayable. I’m sure for Felli’s goal people will have a laugh and a joke, but we put a lot of passes together and had a lot of possession. We created a lot of chances through neat interchanges.

‘We’ve got footballers that can play and we’ve got people who can hold the football and be physical as well.’

Manager David Moyes has made a statement of intent this season in terms of challenging the top four and, to do that, he needs to keep Fellaini fit and firing.

Lost his touch: Nikica Jelavic is off the boil

Lost his touch: Nikica Jelavic is off the boil

Then there is Jelavic. Last year, every touch seemed to finish with a goal but the Croat is missing easy chances, which helps explain why Everton have drawn four successive matches.

Moyes insists he will stick with the striker and, thanks to Fellaini, he can afford the luxury of being patient.

Theo Walcott must be kept by Arsenal

What are Arsenal thinking about letting Walcott go He could play through the middle but I'd keep him wide
The boy could catch pigeons with that pace, says former England midfielder
Can Walcott play as a frontline strikerSportsmail's experts have their say on the Gunners winger



21:52 GMT, 31 October 2012

MARTIN KEOWN: Give him tough love

Martin Keown

Some of Theo’s performances this season have been of the highest quality. He’s has always had the pace of an Olympic sprinter but now he has precision in his play, too. He is playing with certainty.

Against Reading you saw passion in his play, anger when team-mates weren’t on the end of his crosses — a defiance reminiscent of Thierry Henry. That may have come into his game because, for the first time, he’s having to fight.

His move to Arsenal and international debut were handed to him, really, but now he has to fight for a place and the new contract he wants. That might be a masterstroke by Arsene Wenger.

We shouldn’t be asking ‘what position can he play’ We should be asking: ‘What are Arsenal doing thinking about letting him go’

His performance against Reading was dazzling – and must have put a few quid on the Arsenal price, or helped his bargaining position.

Remind me why Arsenal have allowed another top player to get to this stage…again!

I’m a Theo fan. The boy could catch pigeons with that pace.

I didn’t think he played through the middle as a conventional striker against Reading. He played wide, but came inside.

He could play through the middle, but I’d keep him wide where he can do so much damage one-on-one against the full-back.

It is ridiculous that Arsenal; are thinking about selling him, though. With that pace, there will be no shortage of takers.

Theo Walcott celebrates scoring Arsenal's sixth goal during last night's thrillaer at Reading. Arsenal won 7-5 after extra-time in the Capital One Cup

Hat-trick hero: Theo Walcott celebrates scoring Arsenal's sixth goal during last night's thrillaer at Reading. Arsenal won 7-5 after extra-time in the Capital One Cup


Roaring success: But can Walcott play as a frontline centre forward Sportsmail's experts have their say here

BIG DEBATE: Can Walcott play as a frontline striker


Walcott could play as a striker but not
in a top four team. He has decent finishing ability and pace but his
lack of awareness when he has the ball, his regular failure to lift his
head and make correct decisions continues to hold him back. He was an
outstanding young prospect but hasn’t trained on. Its a shame.

Follow Ian Ladyman on Twitter @Ian_Ladyman_DM


He could if he played for a
counter-attacking team, using his pace to split defences. His problem with the
position full-time is his awareness inside the penalty area. He’s not going to
bury the ball beyond a keeper with a diving header in a box
packed with defenders, he’s too timid.

Follow Neil Ashton on Twitter at:


He is so frustrating to watch.

With that pace, he should have been developing into another Thierry Henry for Arsenal – the superstar of their front line. Instead, he’s a bit-part player whose contract is running down.

I can’t believe he hasn’t improved under Arsene Wenger. He runs into too many dead ends and his final ball is inconsistent.

Full-backs should be shaking in their boots – ‘oh no, it’s Theo’ – but once you deal with the pace (and he is too quickly nullified), there isn’t much else.

I’d try him through the middle, because it isn’t working out wide, but is his finishing clinical enough
He’s still young, 23, we shouldn’t forget that. There is still time. Will we see a different player emerging playing for a different club, with a different coach. Ask the Reading defenders if he is a threat.

But it’s too little and not often enough. He should be better than that.

Follow Lee Clayton on Twitter @LeeClayton_


Yes, absolutely. I’ve lost count of the
number of times I’ve groaned in frustration watching Walcott create a
promising opportunity with that brilliant burst of speed,
only to throw it away by the corner flag in a moment of indecision – or
by making the wrong decision. It happens less frequently these days, of
course, but it still happens and a striker’s role would seem to play
more to Walcott’s strengths. His job would be more clearly defined. We know about his pace, but Walcott’s
finishing has improved drastically over the past couple of seasons.
He’s never going to have the instinctive guile and movement of someone
like Jermain Defoe, but he has shown a willingness to learn and would be
an asset both in a crowded penalty box and, certainly, on the
Could he ever be as good as Henry,
another player Wenger moulded from winger to striker No, I just don’t
think Walcott has the swagger of a truly great striker.

Follow Laura Williamson on Twitter @laura_mail


There is little doubt Walcott has got
all the qualities you need to be a top class forward. Pace to burn, an
explosive right foot and the movement to terrify defenders.
There is no doubt that is the position
he wants to play in and I was in Kuala Lumpur in July 2011 when he
stated the reasons why he wanted to play in a central role.
But here is the key question: does he find the target enough
Last season he endured a run when only
scoring once between the end of August and the middle of January – 25
games, in total, for club and country. Such droughts simply aren’t good
enough for those with ambitions of being the main man.
That Arsene Wenger has also refrained
from giving him that central role should also set alarm bells ringing.
So while he has the tools to do the job, he needs to prove he can use

Follow Dominic King on Twitter @DominicKing_DM

Saintly performances: Walcott celebrates scoring for Southampton against Stoke in 2005

Saintly performances: Walcott celebrates scoring for Southampton against Stoke in 2005


Theo can play as a centre forward but not at Arsenal. He needs to play alongside a more conventional centre forward to get the best out of him on a regular basis.

But Arsene Wenger's lone-striker system wouldn't suit Theo. He needs a strike partner.

Follow Sami Mokbel on Twitter @SamiMokbel81_DM

Arsene Wenger’s long-term project has been to use and develop Walcott as a central striker eventually.

And if he can work on his finishing he can surely put his outstanding pace and skill to effective use up the middle. It seemed to work with a certain Thierry Henry, so who is to doubt Mr Wenger

Follow Colin Young on Twitter @cyoungdailymail

He’s lightning quick and can finish, but
we’ll only know for sure if he is given an extended run in a position
he believes is his best.

Let’s be fair, Arsenal aren’t exactly
overloaded with free-scoring central strikers, so why not A no-brainer
for Wenger, surely, and one that could hardly be construed as a huge

If it comes off, it would solve one of Arsenal’s most pressing
problems in a side that too often lacks a cutting edge. If not, perhaps
Walcott would stop griping about where he is played and happily accept a
return to the right flank. Either way, it can’t harm the prospects of
resolving the current stand-off over a new contract. Stop being
stubborn, Arsene. Give it a go.


I am surprised that
Arsene Wenger has persisted with Walcott as a player for this long, full
stop. Wenger nurtures players who are comfortable on the ball, ones who
can pick a pass and retain possession. Walcott can do none of these
things. It must be his lightning pace that has caused Wenger to stick
with him for so long because I consider Walcott to be technically flawed
at the highest level. Jermaine Beckford was a world-beater in the third
division for Leeds – his raw speed terrorised defences. But at Everton
his one-dimensional, pace-dominated approach couldn’t cut it against
Premier League defences.

Here I’ll say it: Theo Walcott is a rich man's
Jermaine Beckford.

Follow Mark Alford on Twitter @AlfieDM


Most certainly – against certain
opposition. Walcott is brilliant when a game is stretched or the opposing defence
play a high line and last night was tailor-made for him in this
respect. His pace got him into goalscoring positions and his finishing
were lethal.

He also has the requisite inner belief of a striker –
illustrated by the way he demanded taking a 30-yard free-kick
at 4-2, even if the execution was wayward.

But I wonder how he would
cope when required to hold up the ball or bring others into play. That kind of link up play is crucial at the top level.

heading needs to improve too.

Follow Laurie on Twitter @lauriewhitwell

Young Lion: Walcott in action for England against Sweden at Wembley last season

Young Lion: Walcott in action for England against Sweden at Wembley last season


I think Walcott has the talent to play there – it would certainly be an odd time to argue otherwise. But I can’t see why he makes it such a big issue.

I was at the press conference he held last month – ironically it was for the Mars ‘Just Play’ scheme – when he said elements of his current contract stand-off were down to his desire to play upfront, not on the wing.

In turn, the issues surrounding his contract have undoubtedly contributed to him not starting a league game for Arsenal since August 18. Maybe he should ‘Just Play’ and accept a starting position where he can get one.

If he keeps taking his chances like he did against Reading – it’s worth remembering he has reached double figures across all competitions in each of the past two seasons – then surely Arsene Wenger will give him his shot. But the manager, we can safely assume, will work in the best interests of the team. Walcott should be a little more patient.

Follow Riath on Twitter @riathalsam


I was at the game last night and he most definitely can.

three of his goals – two, if you believe some sources, although the
second that some have credited to Carl Jenkinson definitely crossed the
line with Walcott’s initial shot – demonstrate the pure instincts of a

He has the pace, timing and finish to
run off the shoulder of the last man, leaving Nicky Shorey in his tracks
as he sprinted on to Andrey Arshavin’s pass to delicately chip the ball
over Adam Federici for his and Arsenal’s first.

He has the reactions to get on the end of flick-ons, anticipating Olivier Giroud’s header on to take a touch and finish to send the game into extra time.

And he has the awareness in the box to pick up plenty of goals from rebounds – demonstrated by his third in extra time to finish off Reading.

He got the goal before half-time that gave his side the tiniest of chances in the match, an equaliser in the 95th minute and the eventual match-winner. What more do you want from a striker

Follow Sam Cunningham on Twitter @samcunningham


Robin van Persie and Fernando Torres: Head to head

A tale of two strikers as Van Persie and Torres go head to head at Stamford Bridge



23:56 GMT, 26 October 2012

They are two of the Premier League’s star strikers and on Sunday Robin van Persie and Fernando Torres go head-to-head in the biggest game of the season so far.

Van Persie has continued his electric form for new club Manchester United but Torres continues to struggle. Sportsmail analyses both players’ performance in 2012.

Fernando Torres

Robin van Persie

Contrasting fortunes: Fernando Torres is finding it hard at Chelsea while Robin van Persie is carrying on his good form


Both clubs have spent big money on Torres and Van Persie for one reason: goals. RVP has been in red-hot form, scoring 19 league goals in 2012. Torres has scored eight.


Van Persie has been the more complete player. The Dutchman has seven assists to Torres’ two and he is far ahead of the Spaniard in terms of chances created, setting up 65 opportunities for teammates compared with Torres’s 36.


Though neither are known as powerful front men, Torres is more effective at winning the ball than Van Persie. He has won 43 per cent of his 323 50-50 duels, whereas Van Persie has won 37 per cent of his 195 contests.

Finding the net: Van Persie has scored eight goals for Manchester United this season

Finding the net: Van Persie has scored eight goals for Manchester United this season


Van Persie has hit 50 shots on target compared with Torres’s 19 but the two are fairly evenly matched when it comes to converting their chances. Torres has scored 19 per cent of his opportunities, while Van Persie’s conversion rate is 22 per cent.


Both players are used centrally as lone strikers, but Van Persie is the more effective when drifting out wide. He has hit 132 crosses compared with Torres’s 38. The Spaniard is more accurate, with 26 per cent of his crosses finding their man, compared with Van Persie’s 22 per cent.

Finding it tough: Torres has six goals this season

Finding it tough: Torres has six goals this season


Defending is not normally a big part of a striker’s role, but Torres has made 34 tackles this year with a 94 per cent success rate. Van Persie has made 21, with a success rate of 76 per cent.


In 12 games against Chelsea, Van Persie has scored five goals, including a memorable hat-trick at Stamford Bridge last season. Torres has scored four goals in 10 games against United but he has finished on the losing side six times.

Manchester United should have signed Joe Hart, says Gordon Banks

Banks: De Gea and Lindegaard aren't good enough… Fergie should have signed Hart



09:47 GMT, 10 October 2012

World Cup winning goalkeeper Gordan Banks reckons Sir Alex Ferguson will be kicking himself that he passed up the chance to sign England No 1 Joe Hart because his current keepers aren't good enough.

The 1966 hero cast doubt upon Manchester United shot-stoppers David De Gea and Anders Lindegaard, believing Ferguson will be regretting his decision not to snap up Hart when he was unknown at Shrewsbury.

The United boss revealed last season that he could have signed Hart before City bought him for the bargain fee of 600,000 six years ago.

Hands on: Gordon Banks rates Joe Hart as one of the best goalkeepers in the world

Hands on: Gordon Banks rates Joe Hart as one of the best goalkeepers in the world

Banks, who won 7 caps for the Three Lions, now rates Hart as one of the finest in the world and says Ferguson will be counting the cost.

'I am not sure about the two keepers at United, not at all,' said Banks, speaking at the official opening of the National Football Centre in Burton.

'Sir Alex Ferguson could have got a better keeper than either of them.

'I am sure he wishes he had signed Joe, who is the best English goalkeeper by a mile and could become the best in the world.

'He is now making terrific saves for Manchester City, while these lads at United look as if they can let in important goals.

'If you have a reliable goalkeeper, it makes the job of the back four so much easier. In my time, a manager always built his team on being strong at the back.

Reaching out: David De Gea

Battle: Anders Lindegaard

Doubt: 1966 World Cup winner Banks is not sure about De Gea or Lindegaard (R)

'But when I see these lads playing for United, they don’t seem 100 per cent confident either with crosses or through-balls.

'De Gea is a great shot-stopper, but when he comes for crosses and through-balls sometimes he is just miles off it. The striker gets there before him and these are mistakes that can easily result in goals. And, of course, any team are going to target a weakness like that.'

Arsenal"s defence is a mean machine – Jamie Redknapp"s weekend watch

Jamie Redknapp's weekend watch: Arsenal's defence is a mean machine



22:00 GMT, 2 September 2012

Arsenal's tight rearguard

Liverpool’s striker crisis is the headline news, but how about this: Arsenal have not conceded a goal yet. /09/02/article-2197313-14CD40FC000005DC-108_468x305.jpg” width=”468″ height=”305″ alt=”Crunch: Arsenal's defence, including Thomas Vermaelen, has tightened up” class=”blkBorder” />

Crunch: Arsenal's defence, including Thomas Vermaelen, has tightened up

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Get the crosses in!

Managers are obsessed with total football and ‘let’s all try to play like Barcelona’. But crossing the ball is not against the law and all five goals at Southampton came from crosses. When Raheem Sterling crossed for Liverpool, only Stewart Downing was on the end of it.

He's a red Robin no more

I played against Robin van Persie at St Mary’s and he was sent off. Then, he was a petulant, young man, easy to wind up. On Sunday, we saw his maturity. After his attempt to ‘dink’ a penalty went wrong, he set about his business and scored two more for his first United hat-trick. It won’t be his last.

Harsh lessons

Southampton: played three, lost three. They have zero points and are bottom of the league. Twice they were in front against United, leading 2-1 — and it was the same score against City. These are harsh lessons but Nigel Adkins’ team have shown enough going forward to suggest they will be okay. I hope so.

Suffer: Southampton's defeat was a bitter pill to swallow

Suffer: Southampton's defeat was a bitter pill to swallow

Something about Kevin

West Ham supporters have taken a while to accept Kevin Nolan. His terrific left foot half-volley against Fulham was West Ham’s quickest goal for seven years and he will score more as he finds space in the top flight, especially from Andy Carroll’s knock-downs. I’m certain Carroll would not have come without Nolan being there. He’s had a good week.

Fulham falling

Fulham’s team sheet at Upton Park was missing Mousa Dembele (sold), Clint Dempsey (sold) and Bryan Ruiz (injured). After they beat Norwich on the opening day, it appeared to be their strongest Premier League team. But they have been weakened in the window. Dimitar Berbatov has lots to do.

Tough task: Dimitar Berbatov must step up to the breach

Tough task: Dimitar Berbatov must step up to the breach

Championship value

Last week, I mentioned Thomas Ince but another player has stepped up into the Premier League without breaking stride. Robert Snodgrass has settled quickly at Norwich after joining from Leeds and took advantage of anxiety as Spurs tried to see out their first win of the season. I don’t know why more clubs don’t look to the Championship for value.

Fast food with Usain

Mo Farah invited me to a charity function on Saturday and I ended up sharing a table with Usain Bolt, who is the athletics equivalent of Ali with his charisma. Mo, who I like very much, raised around 200,000 for his charity in Somalia. The auction price for Bolt’s spikes went a long way to achieving that.

Matt Jarvis delighted to join West Ham

Record 10.75m signing Jarvis delighted to join West Ham because of their rich history



10:27 GMT, 24 August 2012

Fantasy football 2012

New West Ham winger Matt Jarvis says he is delighted to join the club because of its great history and tradition.

The 10.75million record signing was officially announced on Friday morning and could make his debut as early as Saturday lunchtime against Swansea.

He said: 'I'm delighted to have signed. It's a fantastic club and I'm pleased to be here. It's a great club and it's got great history and tradition. I know about Bobby Moore and the history and tradition that go with that.

New boy: Matt Jarvis (left) is delighted to be at West Ham

New boy: Matt Jarvis (left) is delighted to be at West Ham

'I'll be playing with some fantastic players and it'll be great to get into training and I'm looking forward to playing with them. Hopefully I will add a bit of pace, crossing and deliveries that will provide some assists.'

Jarvis is set to join up with his new team-mates at Chadwell Heath on Friday morning before travelling to Wales ahead of Saturday's mouth-watering clash.

'I've been told about how good the fans are hopefully they'll get behind me and I can show them what I can do.

Staight away: Jarvis could play on Saturday against Swansea

Staight away: Jarvis could play on Saturday against Swansea

'It'll be straight in and hit the ground running. There's no time to think about it, you've just got to get on with it, which is good. I hope to train with the team today and then travel up to Swansea.'

The midfielder, who was Wolves' Supporters' Player of the Season and Players' Player of the Season in 2010-11 will wear the No 7 jersey.

Last season he was the most accurate Premier League crosser, adn the most frequent, with 56 finding a team-mate out of 218 crosses.

Huth defends weakened Stoke"s performance in Valencia and laments refereeing decisions

Huth defends weakened Stoke's performance in Valencia and laments refereeing decisions

Robert Huth claimed Stoke's performance against Valencia at the Mestalla defied the critics who said Tony Pulis' team selection had effectively raised the white flag in their Europa League last 32 tie.

Although the Potters lost 1-0 to go out 2-0 on aggregate, they turned in a good performance and could consider themselves unlucky with some key refereeing decisions.

Rising to the challenge: Huth says Stoke performed well in the Mestalla

Rising to the challenge: Huth says Stoke performed well in the Mestalla

Los Che struck the crossbar after 90 seconds and took the lead through Jonas in the 24th minute, but there were several chances for Kenwyne Jones while Diego Arismendi looked to have been fouled right on the edge of the Valencia box immediately prior to the hosts' goal.

'Obviously they hit the bar in the first minute, but after that we possibly had the better chances,' Huth said.

'Kenwyne was through a couple of times and there were good crosses coming in but it wasn't to be tonight.

Safe passage: Valencia set up a tie with in the last 16 with PSV Eindhoven

Safe passage: Valencia set up a tie with in the last 16 with PSV Eindhoven

'It would have been great to go 1-0 up and put them under pressure, but they scored against the run of play.

'I thought (it was a foul). (Arismendi) was trying to get through three players and it could have been a free-kick. Sometimes you get them, sometimes you don't.

'If you watch the game tonight, it's not Stoke to give up. We made a few changes to hopefully improve the team, but today we lost to a good team.'

Hot tempered: Aritz Aduriz clashes with Kenwyne Jones

Hot tempered: Aritz Aduriz clashes with Kenwyne Jones

Stoke were well supported by a band of 4,000 travelling fans, and Huth saluted their efforts after the match.

'They have been brilliant,' he said. 'There are more than 4,000 of them and everywhere you looked you could hear them. We thank the supporters and hopefully we will see them again soon somewhere like this.'