Pitchside

  • 7 truths: Jose Mourinho is a master, Arsene Wenger was right and Hugo Lloris at wrong club

    Plus: Mesut Ozil could have a big say in the final look of the Premier League table, Vincent Kompany is struggling, Manuel Pellegrini gets it wrong again, La Liga title race is going down to the wire.

    Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho lifts the trophyChelsea manager Jose Mourinho lifts the trophy

    Another Sunday of football is done and dusted so here are seven facts from the action. 

    - - -

    Jose Mourinho is a master tactician

    Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho celebrates his side winning the Capital One Cup with John TerryChelsea manager Jose Mourinho celebrates his side winning the Capital One Cup with John Terry

    Chelsea were way too open on New Year’s Day when they were beaten 5-3 by a Harry Kane-inspired Tottenham. However, a manager as astute as Jose Mourinho just would not let the same thing happen twice despite being shorn of his only real defensive midfielder, Nemanja Matic. He shuffled his pack and moved Kurt Zouma into the holding role.

    And, as soon as Chelsea took the lead, that decision began to bear fruit. Zouma displayed the composure of a much more experienced

    Read More »from 7 truths: Jose Mourinho is a master, Arsene Wenger was right and Hugo Lloris at wrong club
  • Good news Arsenal fans: Gabriel Paulista looks the real deal

    Liam Happe was at the Emirates Stadium to witness Gabriel Paulista's first serious chance to help fix Arsenal's biggest problems.

    Arsenal's French striker Olivier Giroud (L) celebrates with Arsenal's Brazilian defender Gabriel after scoring the opening goal of the English Premier League football match between Arsenal and Everton at the Emirates stadium (AFP)Arsenal's French striker Olivier Giroud (L) celebrates with Arsenal's Brazilian defender Gabriel after scoring the opening goal of the English Premier League football match between Arsenal and Everton at the Emirates stadium (AFP)

     The beautiful (read: perplexing) thing about football is that 90+ minutes of action often boil down to one or two big moments, in the eyes of most.

    A goal, a huge missed chance, a red card, a blunder, a referee's decision. Many contests are measured solely by a couple of these things, retroactively. All of the action, reaction, hard work, bluster and human chess that inevitably leads to those events are seldom taken into consideration.

    Arsenal's January arrival Gabriel Paulista was, pre-match, odds-on to be involved in at least one 'talking point' of Sunday's home encounter against Everton

    Read More »from Good news Arsenal fans: Gabriel Paulista looks the real deal
  • League Cup win could establish Jose Mourinho's second great Chelsea team

    Alexander Netherton says a win against Tottenham at Wembley on Sunday could be the springboard to greatness for this Chelsea side.

    Jose Mourinho (Reuters)Jose Mourinho (Reuters)

    Ahead of the League Cup final against Spurs, Jose Mourinho has said one predictably tedious thing, and another telling one. He has continued his propaganda war against referees, and also made it clear that he does not regard his current Chelsea side as the equal of the one he managed in his first spell at the club.

    Only recently, he reiterated what he said in November 2014 when asked to compare the side he has now - who are heavy favourites for the Premier League, and in the return leg against Paris Saint-Germain in the Champions League - with the side of Cech, Terry, Lampard and Drogba that

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  • Epic Battle: Capital One Cup Final - Chelsea vs Spurs

    Chelsea face Tottenham in the League Cup final this weekend - but who will triumph? We pit both XIs against eachother in a head-to-head fight to the finish!

    Chelsea face Tottenham in the League Cup final this weekend - but who will triumph? We pit both XIs against eachother in a head-to-head fight to the finish!

  • Tottenham's League Cup glory against Chelsea in 2008: Where are they now?

    It is seven years since Spurs completed a famous 2-1 win over Chelsea in the first League Cup final at the new Wembley.

    Tottenham Hotspur's Alan Hutton (R) sprays champagne beside his teammates after winning the Carling Cup Final against Chelsea at Wembley Stadium in London on February 24, 2008. Tottenham Hotspur won the game 2-1Tottenham Hotspur's Alan Hutton (R) sprays champagne beside his teammates after winning the Carling Cup Final against Chelsea at Wembley Stadium in London on February 24, 2008. Tottenham Hotspur won the game 2-1

    Tottenham 2-1 Chelsea (after extra-time)

    24 February 2008
    Wembley Stadium
    Crowd: 87,660
    Referee: Mark Halsey

    Notable facts

    First League Cup final to be played at the new Wembley Stadium.
    Chelsea had won 2007 League Cup final by beating Arsenal.
    It was Tottenham's first trophy in nine years.

    Match report

    Tottenham won the League Cup final against Chelsea 2-1 thanks to Jonathan Woodgate's header in extra-time at Wembley.

    The Blues took the lead late in the first half from Didier Drogba's curled free-kick before Dimitar Berbatov's calmly-taken penalty levelled matters on 70 minutes.

    Spurs attacked

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  • Manchester United remain bereft of ideas but they are improving

    Louis van Gaal needs to embrace change if United are to continue to improve

    Manchester United manager Louis Van Gaal talks to Adnan Januzaj at the end of the match (Reuters)Manchester United manager Louis Van Gaal talks to Adnan Januzaj at the end of the match (Reuters)

    Manchester United’s fans and Louis van Gaal, and perhaps most vehemently the club's accountants, will be pleased with their 2-0 victory over Sunderland. It keeps United in the top four, ahead of Arsenal who play Everton on Sunday. With a tough run of games coming up in the scrap for Champions League qualification, United could not afford to drop points. That goes especially for their finances. However, this was only a marginal improvement in performance.

    REPORT: Wayne Rooney brace downs Sunderland

    Had Wes Brown not been sent off, it is entirely conceivable that United might not have made a

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  • 7 truths: Robin van Persie injury a blessing, Sherwood's last hope, Pardew treated unfairly

    Plus: Luis Suarez's importance to Barcelona, Glenn Murray a measure of dropping Premier League standards, Juergen Klopp on the cusp of the incredible and the Southampton bandwagon comes to an abrupt halt

    Robin van Persie, Tim Sherwood, Alan PardewRobin van Persie, Tim Sherwood, Alan Pardew

    Another Saturday of football is done and dusted so here are seven facts from the action. 

    1) Robin van Persie injury a blessing

    Robin van Persie (AFP)Robin van Persie (AFP)

    Wayne Rooney divides opinion at Old Trafford. His two contractual impasses with the club have seen his popularity waver. However, what appears to be open to no debate amongst fans is that he is not a midfielder. Unfortunately for United and Rooney, his manager Louis van Gaal seems to think otherwise and has, since the turn of the year, stationed him in central midfield.

    However, the ankle injury that could rule Robin van Persie out for up to a month could prove an

    Read More »from 7 truths: Robin van Persie injury a blessing, Sherwood's last hope, Pardew treated unfairly
  • David Beckham recalls time he almost reduced Romeo to tears with refereeing decision

    The legendary player made a controversial call...

    David Beckham appeared on the Graham Norton show on Friday night and told a funny story about refereeing his son.

    Romeo, 12, plays for Arsenal youths and was left upset by his famous father during one match.

    As Beckham explained, he had to step in for an absent match official to referee the game and was left with a very awkward decision to make.

    “Romeo is the most emotional out of all of the kids, so I could say ‘no’ to him and his bottom lip goes,” Beckham said.

    David Beckham and his son, RomeoDavid Beckham and his son, Romeo

    “Romeo went to make a tackle and he missed the ball and took the player down, so it was an obvious penalty, and I am thinking, ‘oh

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  • Why Chelsea will be fine without Nemanja Matic against Tottenham

    WhoScored.com take a look ahead to Sunday's Wembley showdown and ask what impact the loss of Nemanja Matic will have on Chelsea's hopes.

    Nemanja Matic will be missing at WembleyNemanja Matic will be missing at Wembley

    Sunday afternoon sees this season's first real battle for silverware take place as London rivals Chelsea and Tottenham go head-to-head in the Capital One Cup final. WhoScored.com take a look ahead to the Wembley showdown, focusing on what has become the main talking point following Nemanja Matic's dismissal against Burnley last time out.

    The Serbian's subsequent absence through suspension this weekend has led many to believe that Tottenham could be in with a great shout of replicating their victory over the Blues in the final of the League Cup in 2008.

    The most recent meeting between the two

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  • The perception problem: Why Sam Allardyce doesn't get the credit he deserves

    Thore Haugstad says Sam Allardyce is a much misunderstood manager because critics can't see past the long-ball caricature which has weighed him down.

    Sam Allardyce: A man misunderstoodSam Allardyce: A man misunderstood

    Sam Allardyce's uncultured persona has long put a glass ceiling on his ambitions. In 2012, he said: “I won’t ever be going to a top-four club because I’m not called Allardicii, just Allardyce.” It was a tongue-in-cheek remark, but the Italian alias has doubled up as a facetious antidote to his abiding frustrations. By 2013, the sign on his office door read: ‘Ufficio Del Direttore (Manager’s Office); Signor Sam Allardicii.’

    The unflattering portrayal of Allardyce as a long-ball merchant is so entrenched into the public consciousness that any discussion about what it represents has become

    Read More »from The perception problem: Why Sam Allardyce doesn't get the credit he deserves