BREAKING! Rob van Persie :(
What games should I watch this weekend?
Starting with Saturday in the Premier League, the big one comes early at 7:45 AM EST, with Manchester City hosting Arsenal who, if modern punditry is to be believed, will bounce back from their midweek Champions League loss to Napoli.
The 10:00 AM kick offs are the usual fare, though Newcastle vs Southampton could be very interesting.
Bit of a graveyard around Europe. ‘Gladbach visiting Mainz in the Bundesliga at 9:30 AM EST could be interesting to see if the former might throw themselves in the mix for third place as Dortmund continue to struggle in the league.
And there could be a potentially tasty fixture in Barcelona vs Villarreal at 2:00 PM EST. The yellow submarine are coming off a couple of lame draws, and could be an interesting challenge for Barca, who ran rampant against Celtic midweek.
On Sunday in the Premier League, the big game is Spurs vs Liverpool at 11:00 AM. Then in Ligue 1 at 3:00 PM you can catch the old grudge match in Lyon vs Marseille, though the earlier Lille result will be more interesting for the table.
Then in Serie A, the marquee fixture is Napoli vs Inter at 2:45 PM. Rafa Benitez’s side need to win to stay in the race for third spot, and maybe second depending on Roma‘s game on Monday. Finally in La Liga, a potentially huge result from Atletico Madrid vs Valencia at 3:00 PM.
What’s the big story today?
It’s a pretty slow news day, so I get to pick what I think is important. And it’s in Spain, it involves Barcelona, and it’s all about the future of Lionel Messi. From ESPNFC:
Barcelona president Sandro Rosell has reacted to speculation of a surprise problem between the club and Lionel Messi by saying he will do everything “possible and impossible” to ensure that he stays.
A media storm blew up when Barca vice-president Javier Faus dismissed the idea of offering Messi a new contract at the moment, with his comments read by some as a slight on the player.
Talk of a pay rise had been provoked by reports that the huge signing-on fee apparently paid to Neymar means he has leapfrogged Messi in the Camp Nou salary scale.
Right now it’s mostly hearsay and back-biting, but there are deep rumblings here, the early signs of a fault-line forming which other moneyed interests are no doubt monitoring closely. Stranger things have happened in a World Cup year. Stay tuned…
Any other news?
Two men arrested for anti-Semitic remarks made on Twitter in relation to Tottenham Hotspur.
Queens Park Rangers are planning to abandon Loftus Road and move to a 40,000 seater stadium in Northwest London, as club Tony Fernandes courts public officials on approving construction.
Arsene Wenger asked questions about Manchester City, answers them: “”City has a strong squad, I don’t deny that, but when I look at my squad I don’t envy them,” said Wenger. “We have more creative players and we are more versatile. It’s easier for me to rotate.”
Four men arrested on match-fixing charges appear in court.
And the Daily Mail uses the expression “horror slump” in the headline of this drive by quotes piece from former Man United keeper Peter Schmeichel.
Any fun stuff?
Balo plays ball against Blind (h/t reddit.com/r/soccer):
Any good reads?
I am linking to a Paul Hayward editorial. It’s that. Important. On football’s ugly love affair with gambling. Snippet:
With football, we see painful naivety about how betting markets work, and how recklessly it has sold its soul to gambling, so that the two industries are now indivisible.
In June, for example, one of Campbell’s earliest clubs, Aston Villa, announced a shirt sponsorship deal with Dafabet, touted as “Asia’s No 1 online betting and gaming site”. All above board, you understand, except that “Asian markets” are the bogeyman always cited when people try to comprehend how a Championship player could allegedly be paid £60,000 to punch an opponent in the wedding tackle to get himself sent off.