Premier League: 10 talking points from the weekend’s action

Romelu Lukaku is weighing in with some key contributions, Christian Benteke is not and Tottenham are showing how much weaker they are without Christian Eriksen Sergio Agüero has had a curiosity of a campaign. He has been injured, benched and below par at times. He has been outscored by Raheem Sterling for much of the season. Yet his hat-trick on Saturday meant he has scored 20 goals for a fifth successive campaign. Further milestones await: Agüero is nine away from becoming the first man to score 200 for City. He is 11 behind his career-best tally of 33 and, with successive cup ties against Championship opponents, Bristol City and Cardiff, he has the chance to make further inroads before Gabriel Jesus is fit again. Besides the numbers, the encouraging element for City is that, after an autumnal slump, Agüero looks to have regained his sharpness. He produced purposeful, elusive dribbling, Continue reading "Premier League: 10 talking points from the weekend’s action"

Alexis Sánchez saga led to uncertainty in Arsenal squad, says Wenger

• Manager admits team morale was affected in first half of the season
• ‘It is the lack of clarity; not losing players. Teams are used to that’ Arsène Wenger has admitted the uncertainty surrounding Alexis Sánchez’s future at Arsenal affected his team’s morale in the first half of the season but insisted he has no regrets over his handling of the situation. Sánchez was initially named in Arsenal’s match-day squad to face Crystal Palace on Saturday, only to be allowed to leave the team hotel late on Friday night after being told by Wenger that there had been a breakthrough in negotiations over his transfer to Manchester United. The Chile forward was allowed to travel north to complete his medical while Mesut Özil and Jack Wilshere were inspiring Arsenal to their first victory of 2018, with a deal to bring Henrikh Mkhitaryan to the Emirates Stadium in exchange Continue reading "Alexis Sánchez saga led to uncertainty in Arsenal squad, says Wenger"

Premier League: 10 talking points from the weekend’s action

Arsenal have hit an all-time low under Arsène Wenger, Chelsea could go for Andy Carroll and Sam Allardyce needs a result Chelsea have endured three successive goalless draws for the first time and it is inconceivable the scouting department is not exploring forward options. Something has clearly put them off the pursuit of Alexis Sánchez, whom they courted in the summer. Perhaps they believe he is set upon a reunion with Pep Guardiola at Manchester City. Maybe they feel they cannot compete with the financial package Manchester United could offer. Possibly they deem the costs excessive. Yet, if that avenue is blocked, and with Crystal Palace unlikely to entertain offers for Christian Benteke, there remains the possibility Chelsea will explore Andy Carroll’s availability. Antonio Conte had hoped to secure a targetman over the summer and is apparently an admirer of Carroll, for all the 29-year-old’s patchy injury record. Such a Continue reading "Premier League: 10 talking points from the weekend’s action"

Crystal Palace close in on £15m move for Fiorentina striker Khouma Babacar

• Senegal striker likely to be one of four January recruits for Palace
• Getafe’s Vicente Guaita and Lille’s Ibrahim Amadou also on shopping listCrystal Palace are hopeful of securing Khouma Babacar from Fiorentina as Roy Hodgson seeks to add a striker to the ranks, with the Senegalese likely to be one of up to four recruits who should ease the club’s injury crisis. Hodgson has made no secret of the fact the squad he inherited in September was imbalanced, with Palace boasting only Christian Benteke as a recognised striker and only two senior goalkeepers. The pursuit of Getafe’s No 1 Vicente Guaita has been complicated by the Spanish club’s refusal to sell despite the player saying he made an agreement with the president which permitted him to discuss a move to suitors offering more than €4m. Palace are understood to have bid accordingly and hope to secure the former Continue reading "Crystal Palace close in on £15m move for Fiorentina striker Khouma Babacar"