Braces are in.

Chelsea distraught after losing to Corinthians in Club World Cup final

For the first time in six years the Club World Cup will reside outside of Europe. Chelsea depart Yokohama in shambles, Gary Cahill’s petulance the lasting memory in a depressing trip across the globe. The Guardian’s Dominic Fifield assessed the scene:

“Trophies are slipping through their fingers almost carelessly these days, though this still felt particularly crushing. Ramires, exhausted and distraught as he slumped to the turf, had to be consoled by team-mates and coaching staff. David Luiz, in floods of tears, sat alone and hardly able to watch his compatriots mass together before lifting the trophy.”

Contrary to popular opinion, this tournament did matter. The jubilation felt by the Time do Povo faithful at Yokohama Stadium could be felt — the drums helped, being awake at seven in the morning EST didn’t. Cassio was terrific in goal. Rafa Benitez now adopts the role of soothsayer. “This has ended up feeling like a damaging experience.”

Yes, Arsenal are struggling but sensible people should be defending Wenger now

Gary Neville drops some wisdom over at the Daily Mail. Earlier this week Arsenal legend/former manager George Graham stated Arsenal would never win the league again. G-Nev responded:

“Sensible football people should be defending Arsene Wenger and fighting for him to build another great Arsenal team. And we certainly shouldn’t be sat here saying:  ‘Arsenal will never win another title.’ To me, that seems absurdly reactive.”

I’ve been guilty of whinging about the supposed plight Arsenal faces in the new age of money dominated football. I will not apologize, however, for stating the truth. If the Gunners want to win they must spend. Arsene Wenger’s tactical prowess, his acquisitions on the transfer market — these decisions should be questioned. Hyperbolic claims like the ones made by Graham aren’t helpful. As Neville rightly states, did anyone think Manchester City or Chelsea would be lifting trophies 15 years ago?

Everton midfielder Marouane Fellaini apologises for head-butt on Stoke City defender Ryan Shawcross

Hopefully the way Everton has reacted to this incident is remembered. There was no hedging, no maybes. David Moyes said his club would accept any punishment from the FA. “I have told him [Fellaini] in the dressing room that it is not acceptable – I won’t accept it as a manager that he does that.” Ryan Shawcross is no saint — there were many who applauded MF’s headbutt. But let’s be serious. That deserves a suspension. The Toffees handled this well.

Van Persie shows his true colours with rendition of Glory Glory Man United at Christmas party… but Kagawa steals show with Gangnam performance

Manchester United’s Christmas party was a blast. RVP sang, Shinji Kagawa’s performance of Gangnam Style was wonderful. None of what I just wrote was true. Not only did Kagawa destroy what was already a terrible song, there was also the horrible undertone of racial stereotypes that couldn’t be overlooked. RVP sang Glory Glory Man United. I feel ill.

Will the real Falcao stand up against Barcelona?

The match of the day features the two hottest names in football — Messi and Falcao. Graham Hunter’s excellent piece for ESPN FC details Atletico’s troubles at Camp Nou after the departure of Fernando Torres. Though he lives for the big moments, Falcao has struggled to make an impact against the big boys in Spain. We’ll cover the game later today. Predictions anyone?