Monday Verdict: Silly Sergio; berating Wenger’s timing

Date published: Monday 29th August 2016 11:35

Sergio Aguero & Arsene Wenger: Both criticised this week

Aguero & Wenger: Both criticised this week

The curious case of Sergio Aguero’s elbow incident might hurt Manchester City’s title hopes more than any other single moment, while Arsene Wenger’s transfer activity at Arsenal also takes a pummelling.

 

AGUERO ELBOW COULD HIT CITY HARD

Winston Reid: Floored by Sergio Aguero: elbow

Three points brightened up City fans on a gloomy afternoon in Manchester, but could that win have come at a greater cost for Pep’s boys?

Sergio Aguero’s apparent (blatant) elbow on Winston Reid became the talking point, despite four goals in the game and a brilliant first half performance from the home side. Reports on Monday morning make grim reading for City fans. With the biggest game of the young season up next when Jose Mourinho’s Manchester United visit on September 10, Aguero is staring down the barrel of a three-match ban.

Retrospective action is something that still divides opinion amongst football fans, with some arguing that it takes the power away from officials and removes the importance of on-field decisions (or lack thereof). Plus, it essentially all depends on camera coverage.

The official explanation is quite simple: “The FA has the power to take retrospective action for certain incidents that are not seen by the match officials , particularly where evidence is caught on camera.

“Action may also be taken where one of the match officials saw part of an incident, for example if an act of misconduct took that could not have been seen by the match official as their view was blocked.

On his day, Aguero is the best striker in the Premier League. Period. However, what he did on Sunday had greater repercussions that his team-mates may feel the effect of when they are forced to have Kelechi Iheanacho leading the line in one of the biggest games of the season. That’s not a dig at Iheanacho, but he’s no Sergio Aguero (yet).

The irony of this incident coming less than a week after Pep proclaimed that the Argentine must help his teammates is quite remarkable.

“He knows we are here to help him to play the way to create as many chances as possible and more chances to score goals. But he has to help us,” the City manager said. The only help he can offer in a fortnight will probably be from the sidelines.

A word on Pep, though. It is impressive how he has managed to come to City and stamp his style on the squad within two months, when some managers cannot do it in two years. The recruitment has been smart, and we are yet to see Leroy Sane and Ilkay Gundogan feature yet, but what might be most impressive is the way that he has transformed and rejuvenated members of the team that were already present.

One of those men is Raheem Sterling, whose brace on Sunday was a big confidence boost for a player who received nothing but criticism for his performances at Euro 2016 for England. Those two goals came either side of a Fernandinho header, and the Brazilian is another who looks right at home under Pep’s ethos. Some might even ask why City would need a world-class midfielder when there is one right in front of them.

For the sake of the Premier League it would be nice to see the Guardiola revolution continue. The football is brilliant, and the enthusiasm resonates.

 

WENGER DELAY DAMAGING TO ARSENAL

Shkodran Mustafi

Anyone who is anyone who is anyone will have seen Arsenal’s shortfalls a mile off and where Arsene Wenger needed to strengthen his squad. So why has the Frenchman left it to so late in the day to bolster the Gunners’ ranks?

After acting fast to bring in Granit Xhaka early in the window, and then trying – but subsequently failing – to bring in Jamie Vardy, Arsenal fans will have hoped, unlike previous years, their summer dealings would all be wrapped up quickly.

As always though, this is not the Arsenal Wenger way. His interest in Shkodran Mustafi has been known for months, but instead of paying Valencia their asking price, Wenger and the Arsenal board have instead been haggling with the Spaniards in a bid to reduce the fee. But at what price? Arsenal look like they’ve eventually adhered to Valencia’s original asking price anyway – which begs the question why they didn’t just pay the money in the first place?

Spanish clubs aren’t daft. They can smell English side’s desperation a mile off. So why pretend to be the hard-nosed negotiators they aren’t and instead simply pay the asking price in the first instance!

Compare this to their title rivals, who all identified their targets, acted quickly and tied up their main business early. Of the teams expected to challenge for the title, only really Chelsea, in a bid to strengthen their defence, and possibly Manchester United – if they can persuade Southampton to sell Jose Fonte – are expected to be busy over the closing days of the window.

Wenger’s tiresome transfer delays – possible down to his flirtations at transfer alternatives Jonny Evans and Jose Gimenez – could, however, have cost the Gunners more than just time.

How different would results have been so far this season had Arsenal played Mustafi at the back in their opener against Liverpool, or for that matter, had the option of playing imminent striker signing Lucas Perez at Leicester?

On the subject of the matter, Wenger insists Perez’s arrival isn’t a panic signing for Arsenal. That may be true, but it’s certainly another deal that surely could, and should’ve, been wrapped up sooner.

 

ANTONIO CALL-UP WELL DESERVED

We’ve been championing the claims of West Ham man Michail Antonio for some time and actually felt he was slightly unlucky not to get a call-up for the Euros this summer after his blistering end to last season with the Hammers.

However, it’s probably for the best that he was overlooked this summer given all that happened in France and he can now come in and make a name for himself under the new regime. There’s certainly few better players aerially than the West Ham man – see this for seven facts you may not know about Antonio – and that will certainly give England another option should he debut in Slovakia.

 

AWAY DAY KIT FRUSTRATIONS

Mohamed Elneny, Roberto Pereyra: In action on Saturday

I can’t have been the only one bemoaning Arsenal’s decision to go with a navy blue/ fluorescent yellow, green affair for their trip to Watford on Saturday? Perhaps it’s me in my old age, but surely away kits should be used when a first choice clashes with the host side’s?

I understand why this is done from a marketing and a commercial point of view, but from a personal perspective not only were the match highlights a little bit tough on the eyes, it surely must’ve also made players for both sides struggle to pick out the right pass?

 

By James Marshment and Oli Fisher

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