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"

Pep Guardiola urges Manchester City to keep their eyes on road ahead | Richard Jolly

Manager says he does not want his players looking over their shoulders as he prepares to trigger their push for the titlePep Guardiola can seem to concentrate more on the aesthetics than the statistics. While he has assessed formidable figures in his managerial career, they appear a byproduct of excellence but, after disposing of Newcastle, a footballing philosopher turned his attention to maths. “We need mathematically 10 victories to be champions,” the Manchester City manager said, raising the question of the equation for the first time. Ten victories will take City to 95 points, equalling Chelsea’s Premier League record. It is the highest total Manchester United can reach and City’s goal difference is 19 better. This, even if Guardiola did not use the phrase, is his countdown to glory. Continue reading...

Mike Ashley and Amanda Staveley are adding to the fog on the Tyne

The takeover uncertainty leaves Newcastle in limbo, with no obvious direction, a willing but limited team and a manager happy to leave everyone wondering whether he will quitWhen Kevin Keegan took over as manager at Newcastle United in 1992, the first thing he wanted to do was restore some pride in the place. Keegan had been at St James’ Park as a player eight years earlier and nothing seemed to have been touched since he left. He was shocked by how filthy everything was and sure they were still the same stains on the communal baths at the club’s training ground that had been there in his day. The water had scum floating on the surface and Keegan’s first request to the board for money was not for a new player but for the kind of secret makeover, on his first weekend back, that has become fashionable on daytime Continue reading "Mike Ashley and Amanda Staveley are adding to the fog on the Tyne"

Amanda Staveley: the unusual case of Newcastle United’s would-be-owner | David Conn

The businesswoman is said to have £28bn under management but her UK company has no assets or employeesFor supporters of Newcastle United, the great, underperforming north-east football institution, the indignities of ownership under Mike Ashley have ground up the gears again. Ashley, boss of cut-price retailer Sports Direct, broke months of silence following his decision in October to advertise the club for sale by this week authorising a statement denying there is any “deal on the table” from the businesswoman Amanda Staveley or that there are any current discussions with her. Staveley, who has adopted a very public interest in buying the club, maintains that she has an offer “on the table” of £250m, £100m short of the minimum Ashley wants. It is not clear why Ashley would be expected to accept less even than the £263m he has spent on Newcastle, which he has made financially stable, in Continue reading "Amanda Staveley: the unusual case of Newcastle United’s would-be-owner | David Conn"

Mike Ashley says there is no Newcastle bid from Staveley: ‘It’s been a waste of time’

• Newcastle owner authorises statement on takeover latest
• ‘Attempts to reach a deal have proved to be exhausting, frustrating’The Newcastle owner, Mike Ashley, has issued an explosive statement denying that the businesswoman Amanda Staveley has made any offer to buy the club via her company PCP Capital, or that discussions are even being held with her. In a release authorised by the Newcastle owner, sources close to Ashley told Sky Sports News: “It is only right to let the fans know that there is no deal on the table or even under discussion with Amanda Staveley and PCP.” Continue reading...

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"