Tag Archives: fixture

Matt Le Tissier makes Guernsey debut but he can"t stop them losing 4-2

Le Tissier makes Guernsey debut as legend returns to playing days… but 44-year-old can't can't stop them losing 4-2

By
Charlie Skillen

PUBLISHED:

22:52 GMT, 24 April 2013

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UPDATED:

11:05 GMT, 25 April 2013

Matt Le Tissier made a return to his playing days by turning out for Guernsey, but was unable to stop his side losing 4-2 at Colliers Wood.

The Southampton legend, 44, came off the bench in the second half after signing playing forms at the club where he is honorary president, to help with their incredible fixture list which sees the club in the middle of 20 games in 36 days.

Matt Le Tissier

Fit for purpose: Matt Le Tissier

Fit for purpose: Matt Le Tissier was unable to prevent Guernsey FC losing at Colliers Wood on his debut

Still got it: Le Tissier was back in action at the tender age of 44 years old

Still got it: Le Tissier was back in action at the tender age of 44 years old

Still got it: Le Tissier

Still got it: Le Tissier

Rusty Le Tissier tries a trademark volley after chesting the ball down

It's the first time Le Tissier has played in an official game since 2002, when he retired after playing his entire career for the Saints.

Le Tissier made over 500 appearances in all competitions for the south-coast club, and won eight England caps.

Many fans feel he should have represented his country more times, having watched his incredible skills, passing and long-range screamers in the 1990s.

He is currently juggling turning out for Guernsey with being a pundit and co-commentator for Sky Sports.

Different class: Le Tissier wowed fans with his technique for Southampton throughout his 14 years at the club

Different class: Le Tissier wowed fans with his technique for Southampton throughout his 14 years at the club

Le Tissier

VIDEO Matt Le Tissier's finest Southampton moments

Chelsea v Manchester United FA Cup replay on Easter Monday, April 1

April duel day: Chelsea and United will replay FA Cup tie on Easter Monday (and both teams will play twice in 48 HOURS)

By
Ian Ladyman

PUBLISHED:

14:58 GMT, 13 March 2013

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UPDATED:

16:33 GMT, 13 March 2013

Manchester United and Chelsea will replay their FA Cup tie at 12.30pm on Easter Monday, April 1 at Stamford Bridge.

It means Chelsea's Barclays Premier League game against Southampton, scheduled for Easter Sunday, has been moved forward a day to Saturday March 30, kick-off 3pm.

This means Chelsea and United will play two games within the space of 48 hours as the Premier League leaders are playing at Sunderland at 12.45pm on the Saturday.

To be announced: Eden Hazard (left) celebrates on his way to earning Chelsea the replay causing the chaos

To be announced: Eden Hazard (left) celebrates on his way to earning Chelsea the replay causing the chaos

RE-ARRANGED DATES

Southampton v Chelsea, Saturday March 30, 3pm

West Ham v Manchester United, Wednesday April 17, 7.45pm

The replay date will play havoc with TV schedules because Chelsea's game at Southampton was meant to be live.

A statement from the FA said: 'Following consultation with all relevant stakeholders, The FA can confirm that The FA Cup with Budweiser Sixth Round Proper Replay between Chelsea and Manchester United at Stamford Bridge will take place on Easter Monday 1 April, live on ITV. Kick-off is at 12.30pm.'

The winners will face Manchester City in the semi-finals.

Easter weekend was always the most likely time for the replay to be take place.

The two-week international break
starting next Monday meant there were not many opportunities to fit the game
in before the Wembley semi-final weekend on April 13 and 14.

UEFA rules that forbid domestic games
taking place on the same night as Champions League or Europa League
games are only served to complicate the matter.

The decision means Chelsea's Barclays
Premier League fixture with Southampton, which had been due to take
place on Easter Sunday, will now take place a day earlier and with a 3pm
kick-off.

Close-run: United's Wayne Rooney (left) and Chelsea midfielder Ramires do battle the first time around

Close-run: United's Wayne Rooney (left) and Chelsea midfielder Ramires do battle the first time around

Chelsea's fixture pile-up

March 14 (h) v Steaua Bucharest (Europa League)
March 17 (h) v West Ham (Premier League)
March 18-27 international break
March 30 (a) v Southampton (Premier League)
April 1 (h) v Manchester United (FA Cup quarter-final replay)
April 4 (TBC) Europa League quarter-final first leg.
April 6/7 (h) v Sunderland (Premier League)
April 11 (TBC) Europa League quarter-final second leg.
April 13 & 14 FA Cup semi-final weekend.

Finding a suitable date for the fixture proved challenging due to Chelsea's involvement in the Europa League and the confirmed FA Cup semi-final dates of April 13 and 14.

It had been expected the FA would wait to see if Chelsea advance in the Europa League tomorrow before determining a date.

They must overturn a 1-0 first-leg deficit to the Romanians to reach the Europa League quarter-finals.

The rescheduling means Chelsea and Manchester United, who visit Sunderland on March 30, play their Premier League matches on the same day, but has irked Southampton.

A statement on Southampton's official website read: 'The game had already been moved once for the purposes of live Sky TV coverage – to Sunday, March 31 – however, the Premier League have deemed it acceptable to move the fixture once more.

'The club is extremely disappointed that this decision has been taken; not least because of the significant inconvenience a second change to the fixture will cause our supporters.'

Joey Barton says he"s not scared of David Beckham ahead of expected clash in PSG v Marseille in Le Classique

I'm not scared of Beckham… he's not the same player any more, says Barton ahead of expected clash in Le Classique

By
John Drayton

PUBLISHED:

17:23 GMT, 19 February 2013

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UPDATED:

17:41 GMT, 19 February 2013

Joey Barton insists he will not be running scared of David Beckham when title hopefuls Marseille play Ligue 1 leaders Paris Saint-Germain on Sunday.

One-cap England midfielder Barton will come up against a player who made 115 appearances for his country, should Beckham make his debut for the Parisians in the league fixture at the Parc des Princes.

Former England captain Beckham has joined PSG on a short-term arrangement until the end of the season and the big-spending capital club hope he can help steer them to the league title.

David Beckham

Preparing for debut: David Beckham in training with Paris Saint-Germain on Tuesday

Preparing for his debut: David Beckham was pictured in training with Paris Saint-Germain on Tuesday

Preparing for debut: David Beckham in training with Paris Saint-Germain on Tuesday

But Barton is relishing the chance to face the 37-year-old, confident his threat can be contained.

Barton said at a press conference today, according to Marseille's website: 'Paris have a lot of big names and big players. Beckham is a big star off the pitch but on the pitch it's not a big worry.

'He causes a lot less fear compared to when he played in the Premier League. It would be naive to concentrate on David Beckham.'

Brooklyn joins dad David in training

Brooklyn

Click here to read the full story as Beckham Jnr trains alongside his dad in Paris, just a month after undergoing a trial at Premier League giants Chelsea.

Barton, 30, has settled into the French game after a turbulent career in England, and third-placed Marseille stand five points behind this weekend's opponents in the league table.

The significance of the fixture is not lost on Barton but less so because of its traditional status as the most fiercely contested match in France and more because of its implications in points terms.

Barton said: 'I've experienced Manchester City-Manchester United, Sunderland-Newcastle and QPR-Chelsea. The electric atmosphere doesn't worry me, it's even the norm for me. I am experienced, I know the score. There's nothing new for me in a derby.

'The season has already given a lot of surprises and twists. And we're not the types to give up. Nor are (second-placed) Lyon.

French exile: Joey Barton is on loan at Marseille from Queens Park Rangers

French exile: Joey Barton is on loan at Marseille from Queens Park Rangers

'We remain motivated and concentrated even if we haven't been very strong in recent matches.

'This week could change our season.'

PSG and Marseille meet again in the Coupe de France quarter-finals on Wednesday week,
February 27.

'If we win on Sunday and go through on Wednesday, everything changes,' Barton said. 'The pressure will be on Paris. Even without superstars like at PSG, we are solid and when we play like a team, we play well.'

Premier League team news for February 9-11

All the Barclays Premier League team news ahead of the weekend

PUBLISHED:

08:01 GMT, 8 February 2013

|

UPDATED:

15:38 GMT, 8 February 2013

Sportsmail brings you the latest squad news on every Barclays Premier League team as it breaks ahead of another action-packed weekend.

Simply click on your team (when it appears in blue) in the fixture list below to find out who is injured and who is back in action…

Resistance: Heavy rain this winter will be no problem for the Maxim

SATURDAY

Tottenham v Newcastle 12.45pm

Chelsea v Wigan 3pm

Norwich v Fulham 3pm

Stoke v Reading 3pm

Sunderland v Arsenal 3pm

Swansea v QPR 3pm

Southampton v Man City 5.30pm

SUNDAY

Aston Villa v West Ham 1.30pm

Man Utd v Everton 4pm

MONDAY

Liverpool v West Brom 8pm

Marouane Fellaini impossible to replace – David Moyes

Fellaini is impossible to replace, admits Moyes as Everton head into festive period without star midfielder

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UPDATED:

23:40 GMT, 21 December 2012

Banned: Fellaini

Banned: Fellaini

David Moyes has admitted it will be almost impossible to replace Marouane Fellaini as the Everton midfielder begins a three-match ban following his moment of madness.

The Belgium international has been fined 150,000 by Everton after he was retrospectively punished by the FA for headbutting Stoke’s Ryan Shawcross seven days ago.

Moyes was incensed by Fellaini’s stupidity and will make him train as normal during his suspension, which means he is likely to be brought in to Finch Farm on Christmas Day.

Fellaini, 25, has been outstanding this
season and is Everton’s top scorer with seven goals but Moyes expects
his absence from games against West Ham, Wigan and Chelsea will prove
detrimental to their hopes of challenging for a Champions League place.

When asked whether Everton will be able
thrive without Fellaini, Moyes replied: ‘I’m not sure. That’s why it was
a big miss to lose him. We will have to try and find solutions but we
don’t have loads of solutions to fix it. People shouldn’t be surprised
if we aren’t able to solve it.

‘I have spoken to him a few times about it. I said at the time he had let us down and that hasn’t changed. He let a lot of people down. We needed him; this is a busy time of the season where you do pick up injuries and suspensions.

‘Things will happen – you may get a sending off. But you can’t do what he has done. He knows he has done wrong – 100 per cent. He is a good boy, a good lad. He is aware that he has got it wrong.’

Star man: Fellaini has been outstanding for Everton this season

Star man: Fellaini has been outstanding for Everton this season

A further troubling development for Moyes is the continued absence of Kevin Mirallas. Fellaini’s compatriot will also miss the festive fixture list with a hamstring problem that has led to him being sent to see the renowned Dr Hans Muller-Wolfhart in Munich.

Mirallas has been outstanding for Everton since he was signed in a 5million deal in August but he has only managed to play 45 minutes in the Barclays Premier League since he pulled up lame during the 2-1 win against Sunderland on November 10.

‘I am worried, yes, especially when as he is a quick, fleet-footed player,’ said Moyes, who will recall Phil Neville to his starting line-up three weeks ahead of schedule following his remarkable recovery from knee surgery.

‘It is Kevin’s first year in the Premier League and there has been a little bit of surprise trying to get used to it. He got this injury six weeks ago. We are just trying to hang on to people’s shirt tails if we can. This has been quite a difficult period for us and we’ve got to get through it.’

Andre Villas-Boas says Lyon draw is good Champions League preparation

Villas-Boas hopes Lyon draw will prepare his players for Champions League

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UPDATED:

22:30 GMT, 20 December 2012

Spurs boss Andre Villas-Boas is relishing the task of taking on Lyon in a Europa League tie he hopes will prove to be a dress rehearsal for the Champions League football he is determined to bring back to White Hart Lane.

Far from being disappointed with drawing a side with plenty of experience of Europe’s top competition, Villas-Boas views the meeting with Lyon as an ideal opportunity to test his team’s Champions League credentials.

‘Lyon is a tremendous opportunity for us,’ said Villas-Boas.

Enthusiastic: Andre Villas-Boas is happy Spurs are going up against Lyon

Enthusiastic: Andre Villas-Boas is happy Spurs are going up against Lyon

‘It is a tremendous opportunity to see a wonderful Europa League fixture being played; they are like Champions League fixtures.

'The fact that we play Lyon, who are used to being in the Champions League, it’s an important reference for us.

‘If we want to set our targets for Champions League qualification, this is the kind of team we will face: teams with a winning mentality, full of quality.’

Tottenham are currently fourth in the Barclays Premier League but with just seven points separating them from Liverpool in 12th, Villas-Boas is aware his side must build on their recent run of form which has seen them win four of their last five league encounters.

‘It depends on a consistent run from now on,’ said Villas-Boas of Tottenham’s hopes of staying in the top four. ‘All of the teams that normally are within Champions League qualification have found that consistency.

‘We understand that we could be in a better position but still we are within what was expected of us for this part of the season. If we are able to keep this level of form we can finish fourth.’

Aiming high: Villas-Boas wants his players to reach the Champions League again

Aiming high: Villas-Boas wants his players to reach the Champions League again

Gareth Bale transfer to Real Madrid is "completely impossible" – Andre Villas-Boas

Forget Bale! AVB tells Real Madrid that January deal is 'completely impossible'

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UPDATED:

15:22 GMT, 20 December 2012

Andre Villas-Boas has said it is ‘completely impossible’ that Gareth Bale will leave Tottenham in the January transfer window.

The Spurs midfielder has long been linked to a lucrative move to the Bernabeu and Real Madrid manager Jose Mourinho is known to be long-term admirer of his ability.

But Villas-Boas has ruled out a big-money move next month.

Hot property: Tottenham winger Gareth Bale is wanted at Real Madrid

Hot property: Tottenham winger Gareth Bale is wanted at Real Madrid

Spurs Christmas fixture list

Tottenham v Stoke
Sat 22 Dec, 3pm

Aston Villa v Tottenham
Wed 26 Dec, 5.30pm

Sunderland v Tottenham
Sat 29 Dec, 12.45pm

Tottenham v Reading
Tue 1 Jan, 3pm

‘It is completely impossible he will leave in January.

‘The transfer window always gives you the opportunity to strengthen your squad. Teams will lose players to African Cup of Nations, but there is a chance to strengthen a little bit. Ideally you’d prefer to avoid it. It’s for us, we should plan our season, stick to players we see in summer, define our season in our season plan and go on from there.

‘I think ideally for managers and
clubs it would be a better situation if the window didn’t open or opened
for less than one month. For players it is important to have that
possibility to go and play more.’

In the market Andre Villas-Boas hinted at strengthening Spurs' squad in January

In the market Andre Villas-Boas hinted at strengthening Spurs' squad in January

Villas-Boas revealed Bale may have recovered from a hamstring injury in time to face Stoke on the weekend.

‘Bale has made good progression and
he will be in contention for the game against Stoke. Obviously he is an
important player for us who can make a difference like in the game
against Liverpool. Players like his can make the difference for you.’

The Tottenham manager ruled out spending big next month, believing Spurs have enough talent in the squad with players returning from injury lay-offs.

‘We have a big squad and our boost will come from the return of the injured players,’ he said. ‘I think at the moment we are okay, we have a good squad with excellent players.

‘At the moment I wouldn’t say there will be any additions but it doesn’t mean a good opportunity in the transfer market can’t arise as long as it strengthens us, although we are looking strong in every position.

He also compared Tottenham’s Europa League draw against Lyon to a Champions League tie.

‘Lyon is a tremendous opportunity for us,’ he added. ‘It is a tremendous opportunity to see a wonderful Europa League fixture being played, they are like Champions League fixtures. The fact that we play Lyon, a team used to winning trophies, is important for us.’

Champions League draw: Guide to British clubs opponents

Champions League guide: The lowdown on Real Madrid, Bayern Munich and Juventus

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UPDATED:

13:32 GMT, 20 December 2012

Manchester United, Arsenal and Celtic have been handed tough draws against Real Madrid, Bayern Munich and Juventus respectively in the last 16 of the Champions League.

As players, managers and fans alike begin preparations for the two-legged ties to be held in February and March, Sportsmail tells you everything you need to know about the British clubs' opponents…

Kings of Spain: Real Madrid face Man United in a mouth-watering tie

Kings of Spain: Real Madrid face Man United in a mouth-watering tie

Key info

Name: Real Madrid (Spain)

Opponent: Manchester United

Fixture dates: Real Madrid v Man United, February 12, 2013; Man United v Real Madrid, March 5, 2013

Previous meetings: P8, Man United W2, D3, Real Madrid W3

How they got here: Won the Spanish title for the first time in four years last season, ending Barcelona's recent dominance. Qualified second in their group behind Dortmund after picking up four points against United's great rivals Manchester City.

Current domestic league position: 3rd (13 points adrift of Barcelona in 1st)

Manager: Jose Mourinho – widely considered the best manager in world football, Mourinho is no stranger to English fans having won back-to-back Premier League title with Chelsea in 2005 and 2006. Has won this competition twice already, with Porto in 2004 and Inter Milan in 2010.

Captain: Iker Casillas – 31-year-old goalkeeper also captains Spain, and has lifted the World Cup and two European Championships doing so. Was in the Real side the last time they won the Champions League in 2002.

Key player:
Cristiano Ronaldo – like his boss and fellow Portuguese Mourinho, Ronaldo needs little introduction. Won the Ballon d'Or in 2008 and would surely have won a few more by now had he not been playing at the same time as Lionel Messi. The lightning quick forward won this competition in 2008 with United, who he faces for the first time since leaving Old Trafford in 2009.

Style of play: Mourinho's preferred system is a 4-2-3-1 though he has always been willing to chop and change systems to suit opponents. The attacking trio of Ronaldo, Mesut Ozil and Angel Di Maria are as good as any in world football.

The gaffer: Mourinho is going in search of his third Champions League title

The gaffer: Mourinho is going in search of his third Champions League title

Away day info

Distance from stadium to stadium: 902 miles

Flight time: 2 hours 40 mins

Stadium (capacity): Santiago Bernabu (85, 454)

Travelling from airport to stadium: The easiest route is via the metro. Line 8 will take you from the airport to Nuevo Ministerios and from there it’s only one stop on line 10 to the stadium.

Currency: Euro

Time difference: +1

Tourist attractions: Retiro Park, Plaza Mayor, Plaza de Toros de Las Ventas.

Local beer: Mahou

Local delicacy: Gulas – eel foetuses.

Captain marvel: Casillas lifts the European Championship earlier this year

Captain marvel: Casillas lifts the European Championship earlier this year

Key info

Name: Bayern Munich (Germany)

Opponent: Arsenal

Fixture dates: Bayern Munich v Arsenal, February 12, 2013; Arsenal v Bayern Munich, March 5, 2013

Previous meetings: P4, Arsenal W1, D1, Bayern W2

How they got here: Finished
second in the Bundesliga last season – eight points adrift of winners
Dortmund – but still qualified automatically for the group stage.
Comfortably advanced from a weak group with 13 points despite a shock
3-1 loss to Belorussian minnows BATE.

Current domestic league position: 1st (nine points clear of Leverkusen in second)

Manager: Jupp
Heynckes – returned to Bayern for a third spell as manager in the
summer of 2011. Agonisingly missed out on Champions League glory at the
Allianz in May as Chelsea recorded a famous victory.

Captain: Philipp
Lahm – outstanding both defensively and going forward, the tireless
Lahm is just as comfortable playing in either full-back position. The
29-year-old is rated as one of the best defenders in the world.

Key player:
Franck Ribery – in a star-studded side, the 29-year-old french winger
best sums up the ethos of Heynckes' Bayern, which is skill and pace in
abundance married with a willingness to work hard and press.

Style of play: Like
Mourinho at Real, Heynckes uses the popular 4-2-3-1 formation. With a
wealth of options Heynckes is able to chop and change his starting XI
without weakening his team too much or need to alter his system.

Star-studded: Heynckes coaches an expensively assembled squad

Star-studded: Heynckes coaches an expensively assembled squad

Away day info

Distance from stadium to stadium: 570 miles

Flight time: 1 hour 55 mins from Heathrow, Gatwick or Stansted

Stadium (capacity): Allianz Arena (71,137)

Travelling from airport to stadium: Less
than 18 miles, so a taxi will take less than thirty minutes. It is easy
to reach the City Centre from the airport via the S-Bahn (S8), which
will take about 40 minutes. When you reach Marienplatz, change over to
the U6 and it will take you to Frttmaning.

Currency: Euro

Time difference: +1 hour

Tourist attractions: Marienplatz, St. Peter’s Church, Olympiapark.

Local beer: Helles

Local delicacy: Munich Weisswurst – a Bavarian sausage made from finely minced veal and pork bacon.

Heartbreak: Bayern were beaten on penalties in last season's final

Heartbreak: Bayern were beaten on penalties in last season's final

Key info

Name: Juventus (Italy)

Opponent: Celtic

Fixture dates: Celtic v Juventus, February 12, 2013; Juventus v Celtic, March 5, 2013

Previous meetings: P4, Celtic W2, D0, Juventus W2

How they got here: Juventus
qualified for this year's Champions League having gone last season
unbeaten to win the Serie A title for the first time since the
Calcioppoli scandal that rocked Italian football in 2006. A win and a
draw against Chelsea helped them top a tough group from which Shakhtar
Donetsk also qualified.

Current domestic league position: 1st (seven points clear of Inter in 2nd)

Manager: Antonio Conte – a former Juventus midfielder and Italy international, Conte won the Champions League with the team he now manages back in 1996. Has just finished serving a four-month touchline ban for his part in a match-fixing scandal while he was managing Siena.

Captain: Gianluigi Buffon – a World Cup winner in 2006, the 34-year-old has long been regarded as one of the best goalkeepers on the planet. Has been at Juventus since 2001, when he was signed from Parma for 32.6million – still the record transfer fee for a goalkeeper.

Key player:
Andrea Pirlo – the veteran Italian international playmaker is showing
no signs that he is in decline despite having won pretty much everything
there is to win. Celtic will have to starve his supply line if they are
to stand any chance of overcoming the Old Lady.

Style of play: Conte
operates with a 3-5-2 system, with the wing backs and two of the
central midfielders working hard to allow Pirlo room in front of three
uncompromising centre backs.

Star man: Pirlo is one of the world's finest playmakers

Star man: Pirlo is one of the world's finest playmakers

Away day info

Distance from stadium to stadium: 911 miles

Flight time: 4 hours 15 minutes

Stadium (capacity): Juventus Stadium (41,000)

Travelling from airport to stadium: The stadium – opened only last year – is 15 miles from Turin airport, so you could splash out on a
taxi. Alternatively, on match days there is a special tramline service
between the stadium and Bernini – a metro stop you can get to from
either Porta Susa or Porta Noava stations. A shuttle bus from the
airport will give you access to both of these stations.

Currency: Euro

Time difference: +1 hour

Tourist attractions: Piazza San Carlo, Santuario Basilica La Consolata, Civic Museum of Ancient Art (Palazzo Madama).

Local beer: Birra di Primavera

Local delicacy:
Chocolate-making began in Turin, so visitors should definitely take the
opportunity to sample the ‘gianduiotto.’ The city's most celebrated
chocolate sweet, it is made from a cocoa-hazelnut paste.

New home: Conte is welcomed back at the Juventus stadium after his ban

New home: Conte is welcomed back at the Juventus stadium after his ban

Samir Nasri injury doubt for Manchester City over Christmas period – exclusive

EXCLUSIVE: Man City blow as crocked Nasri is ruled out of Christmas period

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UPDATED:

22:50 GMT, 19 December 2012

Manchester City forward Samir Nasri faces a struggle to play any part of the Barclays Premier League champions' festive programme after injuring his groin.

The France international looked back to his best Newcastle last weekend but had to come off in the first half.

Now he has been told he cannot play for two weeks, a prognosis that rules him out of games against Reading, Sunderland and Norwich and leaves him extremely doubtful for the meeting with Stoke on New Year's Day.

Blow: Nasri is unlikely to play over the Festive period after injuring his groin

Blow: Nasri is unlikely to play over the Festive period after injuring his groin

City, in common with most clubs, face a fixture schedule of four games in eleven days over Christmas and New Year, meaning that Nasri's injury comes at the worst possible time for a team looking at a six-point gap between them and Manchester United at the top of the league.

Having been widely blamed for gifting United a winning goal in the recent derby game by hiding at the end of the defensive wall, Nasri's response at Newcastle had impressed manager Roberto Mancini.

Mancini is already shorter of attacking options than he would have wished, having lost Mario Balotelli to illness.

The Italian striker missed his second successive day of training yesterday on the day he decided not to pursue his case against City at a Premier League tribunal.

U-turn: Balotelli dropped his case against City and paid the 340,000 fine

U-turn: Balotelli dropped his case against City and paid the 340,000 fine

Balotelli dropped the case at the last minute and agreed to pay a 340,000 fine imposed by City at the end of last season for picking up too many red and yellow cards.

Balotelli's agent Mino Raiola said: 'Mario is committed to City. He doesn't want to leave the club.

'He's always wanted to stay and this case hasn't changed this. He is committed in Manchester.'

Arsene Wenger in denial over cup exit, transfer flops and Steve Bould

I'm Arsene, trust me: Wenger in denial as he is quizzed over Bould, cup exit and transfer flops

|

UPDATED:

23:33 GMT, 14 December 2012

Arsene Wenger emerged from his silver Mercedes at Arsenal’s training ground just after 9am on Friday looking like he hadn’t slept in a week.

It has been a wretched few days and Wenger’s haunted look cannot be helping with preparations for the Barclays Premier League fixture with Reading on Monday.

He was, predictably, in a particularly tetchy mood and he bit on almost everything as he fended off questions ranging from the catastrophic Capital One Cup defeat at Bradford City to his failing transfer policy.

Under pressure: Arsene Wenger was in denial about the state of Arsenal

Under pressure: Arsene Wenger was in denial about the state of Arsenal

‘Don’t worry — we will buy Lionel Messi in January and we will surprise you,’ was the icy response to a genuine query about the acquisitions of Gervinho, Chamakh, Santos, Park, Squillaci, et al.

Arsenal have gone wonky under Wenger and his skewed assessment of the club’s progress, or alarming lack of it, is in danger of affecting his standing among the supporters.

At 63 he is fighting to convince fans, along with his players, that after 16 years in the job he still represents the future of Arsenal Football Club.

During a series of strained exchanges, he stopped short of reminding people about the three Premier League titles and four FA Cups he won during the golden period.

Chelsea have the same record since Roman Abramovich bought the club in 2003 and they can now throw in the Champions League to boot.

‘I am here to take the flak — and I must say you (the media) do that very well,’ admitted Wenger. ‘We finished third in the league last season, but it depends on how you judge a team.

‘It’s true we have not kicked on, but we have rebuilt a team this year and we will see where we finish. We are not happy with what we have produced, but we will turn it around before the finish.

‘People have to take a little bit of distance before making a definite judgment on what we are capable of doing.

‘At the moment we have qualified for the Champions League knockout stage for 13 years out of the last 16. When I listen to the media, it must be a mistake: they talk like we are in the Championship.’

No division: Wenger has denied there is a rift between him and his assistant Steve Bould

No division: Wenger has denied there is a rift between him and his assistant Steve Bould

Naturally, Wenger was on the defensive on Friday, taking issue with a number of stories that have appeared across a broad spectrum of newspapers this week.

He referenced assistant manager Steve Bould and the distance in the relationship between the pair over the past few months.

It’s all ‘lies’, according to Wenger, although no-one is denying that fitness coach Tony Colbert was asked to take training instead of Bould when Wenger was absent the day before the defeat against Swansea.

‘I believe this is a good opportunity to show that we are strong inside the club and let other people talk,’ said Wenger. ‘We are criticised when our results aren’t good, but we have to take it on the chin.’

Wenger wasn’t finished, either. He was irritated by another question, this time about the 11million transfer fee routinely bandied around for Gervinho’s move from Lille in 2011. ‘It was 8m.’ Whatever it was, it has still been a disaster.

Disaster: Gervinho (right) missed appallingly against Bradford

Disaster: Gervinho (right) missed appallingly against Bradford

‘Gervinho is a good player, but I don’t want to get into individual assessments,’ he said. ‘You accuse us of not paying the wages, but then you accuse us of giving them the money they want.’

He was upset with another analysis after highlighting that the club’s fabled youth academy has only produced two first-team regulars — Ashley Cole and Jack Wilshere — in 16 years.

‘If you look at the players who have started at Arsenal Football Club over the past 15 years there will be more than all the clubs put together in the Champions League. ‘I don’t know where you get your statistics from but you should check them.’

They were checked and Arsenal have, indeed, only produced two first-team players from scratch. The rest, such as Cesc Fabregas, were brought into the academy from Barcelona.

‘You cannot say we have a squad without quality as they are all international players,’ he said.

Import: Cesc Fabregas came from Barcelona, where he has since returned

Import: Cesc Fabregas came from Barcelona, where he has since returned

‘I would prefer it if everyone said I am fantastic but I cannot say we were fantastic when we lost on penalties to Bradford. I am responsible for the results, but it was a cup game on an English December night in Bradford. Unfortunately we have paid the price, but do not forget they kicked out Wigan as well.’

Wigan always get kicked out of the cup but this is Arsenal and 4,500 travelling fans expected the team to show some bottle at Valley Parade. Instead they aim to rescue their season, starting at the Madejski Stadium on Monday night.

There are some bad buys in this Arsenal team and it seems inappropriate to think that it was only six years ago the last remaining members of the Invincibles competed with Barcelona in the Champions League final.

‘I am the right man for the job,’ Wenger said. ‘I am highly focused on the job and I’m very determined and hungry. I can understand that people criticise us.’

After 16 years at Arsenal, he looks in need of a good rest.