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Arsenal have a lot more to lose if Wenger stays on

Sports News 2nd January 2017

The latest issue of The Gooner came back from the printers on Thursday evening. The front cover was immediately striking. It had a picture of Arsène Wenger on the touchline at the Emirates Stadium, looking aghast as the fourth official lifted up the substitution board with a mocked-up dot-matrix. The red dots said “AW” and the green dots said “?”.

In other words, the fanzine, which began in the autumn of 1987 when all the talk was about Charlie Nicholas’s fall from favour under George Graham, believes not only that Wenger’s time at Arsenal is up but that the debate is ongoing.

Wenger will be the subject of a fan protest at the Emirates Stadium this evening.

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Zlatan Ibrahimovic insists he has made his critics eat their words after the Manchester United striker scored one goal fewer than Lionel Messi in 2016

Sports News 2nd January 2017

  • Manchester United came from behind to beat Middlesbrough on Saturday 
  • United striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic has scored 17 goals since joining the club
  • Ibrahimovic has shown he is still capable at playing at the top level aged 35 
  • He finished one goal behind Barcelona’s Lionel Messi for the year 2016   

He was denied the honour of finishing 2016 as Europe’s joint top marksman with Lionel Messi, but Zlatan Ibrahimovic couldn’t let the old year pass without a parting shot at the critics who doubted his ability to play in the Premier League at 35.

Referee Lee Mason harshly chalked off the Manchester United striker’s first-half effort for a high boot on Middlesbrough keeper Victor Valdes, meaning Ibrahimovic was stuck on a half century of goals for the year for Paris Saint-Germain and United against Messi’s total of 51 for Barcelona.

But the Swedish star doesn’t need records to prove the doubters wrong, and aimed a colourful barb at those who suggested he was past it when he arrived at Old Trafford in the summer.

‘I feel good,’ said Ibrahimovic. ‘I don’t know how many years I have left, but I am enjoying the football.

‘I came to the Premier League and everyone thought it would not be possible but, like always, I make them eat their balls.

‘It gives me a lot of energy, trust me, because they get paid to talk s**t and I get paid to play with my feet. That’s how I enjoy it.

‘Every year they (Premier League clubs) have been calling me and it was not feeling good, so I wanted to come when everyone thought I was over (the hill).’

Ibrahimovic has scored 17 goals for United, including 12 in his first 18 Premier League games. He was at a loss to explain why Mason denied him another.

‘Why he whistled, I don’t know,’ added Ibrahimovic. ‘At first he gave the goal and after 30 seconds, he changed his mind.

‘There was not a lot to say to him because if you open your mouth, they give you a yellow. But I think I had a fantastic year. I’m not complaining. I came to United and my first six months here have been more than amazing.

‘That (the record) was not important. For me, the win is the same if I would beat Messi or not.’

Grant Leadbitter made the most of Middlesbrough’s good fortune by firing the visitors into the lead, and a famous away win was on the cards until United finally made the most of their opportunities with two late goals in the space of 86 seconds from Anthony Martial and Paul Pogba.

It gave Jose Mourinho a fifth league win in a row, and in a manner reminiscent of Sir Alex Ferguson, who was watching from the stands on his 75th birthday.

Mourinho has not had long to savour the result as United head for West Ham on Monday. He will make a number of changes for a second game in 48 hours, although he insists that Ibrahimovic will lead the line again despite playing more than any other outfield player this season.

‘He will start on Monday — you can tell (Slaven) Bilic that!’ said the United boss as he breezed out of Old Trafford to enjoy the New Year’s Eve celebrations with his family. But Ibrahimovic hinted it would be a tall order to play again so quickly. ‘You need rest,’ he said. ‘There is no superman.’

There is no strength that can recover from a game so fast, and I cannot do anything about it.

‘If the coach wants me to play, I will play. I have to play, so I am available. I feel good. But, let’s be realistic, from a game you need to recover two or three days.’

Boro, meanwhile, play at home to Leicester looking for a win that would lift them back above the champions and away from the bottom three. Leadbitter was making his first start of the season at Old Trafford after fighting his way back from a hernia operation, and the Boro captain called on his team to show similar fighting qualities to make sure they stay in the Premier League.

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Bank forced my stay at Arsenal, says Wenger

Sports News 2nd January 2017

Arsène Wenger has rebuked his critics for going too far with their planned protest during this evening’s game against Norwich City by saying that he deserves respect for signing away five years of his life to secure Arsenal a bank loan.

The Frenchman also bizarrely claimed that Arsenal would be Premier League champions if it was based on results away from home — in fact, the north London club would be third, seven points behind Leicester City.

Wenger blamed supporters for contributing to his team playing in a “difficult climate” at the Emirates Stadium, where supporters are being urged to show their commitment…

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Jose Mourinho not looking to sign a new striker

Sports News 2nd January 2017

Jose Mourinho insists he is not looking to sign a new striker for Manchester United in January as he gives full backing to Marcus Rashford

Manchester United will not be in the market for a striker during the January transfer window.

Jose Mourinho has ruled out any arrivals in the forward department this month, saying he is happy with his lot and paying particular tribute to Marcus Rashford.

The England international has been used mostly as a substitute by Mourinho during his Old Trafford tenure, making a total of 26 appearances this season.

Although the teenager has not scored since September 24, he is obviously still of value to Mourinho, who said: ‘The biggest trust I give him is when I told you that I don’t want another striker. I don’t want one. Why? Because I have Rashford.

‘He’s always there. He’s always selected, he’s on the team, he’s on the bench when he doesn’t start. He comes on and he has different kinds of experiences.

‘What happened to him last season was really fast and was a consequence of a situation that we are not having this season.

‘He’s fine. He’s going in the right direction. He’s a good kid, a good professional with the right mentality.

‘He’s always ready to learn and improve. This kid is going in the right direction.’

Mourinho praised Rashford’s versatility, having used him in a variety of roles this term.

‘He knows he’s learning every day and understands that. By being with the team, being in training with the team and even being on the bench and playing sometimes when we play counter-attacking football,’ he said.

‘I’ve no problem with him at all. He’s a proper professional.

‘I pick him because he can play in so many positions. I like to rotate attacking players.’

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