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The Lead

It’s hard for me to pile on in light of Arsenal’s limp defeat to Bradford on penalties yesterday, particularly as Brian Phillips penned the only necessary post-mortem weeks before last night’s Capital One Cup tie. His concluding paras still sum up the situation well, on the neverending push-and-pull between Wenger the successful financial pragmatist and Wenger the stingy technocrat:

The only criterion by which we can judge a coach is what he accomplishes with the resources he has. And with Wenger, the background is so complicated that we simply don’t know exactly what he’s had. He’s soccer’s quantum uncertainty. He’s a terrible coach whose decisions have ruined Arsenal, and he’s a brilliant coach whose balancing act has saved Arsenal’s future. We have no way of measuring which of those things he really is, so to us, he’s both at the same time.

The slogan Arsenal fans have always used to express their faith in Wenger is “Arsene Knows.” Maybe Arsene does know, and that’s why he’s gazing into space with that black-hole stare every weekend. For the fans’ sake, I hope someone knows something — and at the moment that’s all I know about Arsenal.

John Brewin wrote this morning that, “What may still protect Wenger against the sacking that many expect at the end of the season is that it would take a complete overhaul of the club’s structures to replace him.”

Brewin doesn’t specify what those structures are, but it would be safe to say Arsenal would no longer be the Arsenal most of the Western world has come to first respect, and now denigrate.

But it’s likely that Wenger’s own insistence on refusing to crash the transfer market party in a way that reflects his club’s significant resources has in some ways protected him further from negative scrutiny. Everyone assumes if only Wenger spent money, his club would almost automatically win titles. Whether his work as a Premier League manager is still fitted for the times regardless of the names on the team sheet is largely unknown, and—frustratingly—rarely in question.

Canada

Michele Tossani discusses Toronto FC’s striking options for next season.

England

Llorente hopes to play in Premier League next season.

“We will get over it.”-Arsene Wenger speaks out after Capital One Cup loss.

Liverpool apologize to Fulham over Dempsey affair.

Police arrest 15-year old over racist Ferdinand tweet.

Italy

Lazio admit team too reliant on Klose, looking to add to squad in January.

“I have no idea why he got himself sent off and when a player deprives the team of a man, it’s not good.”-Zeman on Osvaldo’s red card.

Only a single-away fan shows up to support Udinese against Sampdoria.

La Liga

Bielsa to start Llorente against Eibar.

Higuain recovery slower than expected, won’t return until next year.

Santos coach says Neymar would be a great fit with Barcelona.

Germany

Martinez expected to be back in line-up after colliding with teammate during practice.

Meet Mario Gomez as he talks about his club, city and goals.

Bit and Bobs

Zambia’s Football Association to challenge Messi’s record, say Chitalu scored 107 goals.

Brazil’s Corinthians advance to World Cup Final.

Roger Federer the footballer??!!

Ibra scores another hat-trick.

Platini says money directed at goal-line technology could be better spend on developing football.

Thanks to Alima Hotakie for compiling today’s links.