FRIDAY’S BIG STORIES
Gunnersaurus inspired Arsenal to a 4-1 home victory over Rapid Vienna in the Europa League on Thursday night.
After being frozen out of the side due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the jolly green dinosaur roared back from the brink of extinction with a dazzling display of waves and photograph poses, essentially assisting all four of Arsenal's goals by virtue of his mere presence at the Emirates.
Much has been made of the lack of creativity in Mikel Arteta's side without the presence of Gunnersaurus, rumoured to be on £350,000-a-week, but he certainly staked a claim to feature in Arsenal's next home game against Burnley after they scored four goals in one match for only the second time this season.
Gunnersaurus is actually back!
Image credit: Getty Images
Gunnersaurus is really really back!
Image credit: Getty Images
Just how Arsenal cope without the influential mascot away to Tottenham on Sunday remains to be seen, but with 2,000 fans roaring him on for future home games it appears this is one forgotten gem at Arsenal whose future suddenly looks much brighter at the club.
"It was very special and [I'm] delighted to have them back. I think they made a huge contribution," Arteta said, supposedly about the fans, but probably about Gunnersaurus as well - let's face it.
One Gunnersauuurus. There’s only one Gunnersaurus, one Gunnersauuurus. There’s only one Gunnersaurus....
* WAITS FOR JOSE’S INSTA *
It says something about the current state we're all in, and perhaps 2020 in general, that after witnessing an average Tottenham performance you eagerly find yourself heading to Instagram to await the latest Jose Mourinho post.
Again, it didn't disappoint.
Who's to say what Spurs will gain from a midday training session the day after a match in Austria, but who dares question a passive aggressive Mourinho who has so bizarrely, yet so beautifully, taken to social media to declare such opinions. Not I.
And he wasn’t best pleased in his presser either, questioning a fair few of his players and asking why they can’t be more like teachers' pets Son Heung-min and Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg.
“I think it's a question of attitude, which I have experienced before even at Manchester United," said Mourinho. "I had a similar situation - we lost two matches away in the group phase. When we get into the knockouts and you get better opponents and more difficulties, the team faces matches in a different way."
Asked what he been learned from the draw, Mourinho added: "Nothing new, really. The fact that the Europa League group phase doesn't motivate some of the players, I knew it."
Our team at home is a different team. When we go to Antwerp, to Ludogrets, to LASK, the stadium, the weather, the emptiness, the atmosphere - I have a feeling, which is not a feeling, it's experience, that some of the players, they feel that they shouldn't be here. But the contradiction on that, is that players like Son and Pierre [Hojbjerg], players starting every match, are the examples of the guys that it doesn't matter where, doesn't matter the competition, they are there. And they are there for the team all the time."
United v Real Madrid for Camavinga as Juve pull out - Euro Papers
NEXT BARCA PRESIDENT: NOT THIS GUY
Carlos Tusquets, the man whose name will forever read as a misspelling of Busquets, has outlined why his position as interim Barcelona president is exactly just that after proclaiming he would have sold Lionel Messi in the summer.
"Economically speaking, I would've sold Messi in the summer window," Tusquets told RAC1 radio station.
"Both in terms of what you save on the wage bill as well as the money you make, it would've been desirable. But this is something the coaching staff have to consent to and that's not my place.
Messi says he's 'tired of always being the problem' at Barcelona
"La Liga are setting salary limits at the moment and this would've helped on that front."
Money aside, we’re only talking about the greatest footballer on the planet, one who has carried Barcelona to many a trophy on the domestic and European stage, won six of those round golden trophies, and stayed on – despite his close friend being shown the door – as his only way out would have been through pursuing legal action.
Talking economics does not win you much support, and it is clear presidential candidates Victor Font and Joan Laporta have made keeping Messi a priority in their respective bids to replace Josep Maria Bartomeu.
Tusquets, though being pragmatic, will not be in contention for the full-time gig – perhaps then that is why he has willing to make an admission few others in Catalonia would make.
IN THE CHANNELS
After a reminder that this longest of years featured a viral video where Ballon d’Or winner Kaka was sensationally told to “cut back” when playing five-a-side in London, the ex-Milan and Real Madrid star has called out the very man in question.
Mr @AliAd3n said: “Kaka waited until Lockdown was over to @ me. I’ve truly been caught lacking.”
The 4-4 from 2008 is fondly remembered, so why not whet the appetite for Sunday’s #NLD by watching this nine-goal thriller from 2004. That’s exactly one more goal than the 2008 nonsense, and the highest-scoring match between Arsenal and Spurs to date.
Have a read of Ed Aarons' interview with Stephy Mavididi - the Englishman at Montpellier who left Arsenal two years ago and benefited from training with Cristiano Ronaldo at Juve...
He made his only Serie A appearance in April 2019 as a substitute in a 2-1 defeat by SPAL, almost 16 years after Platt’s solitary season in Turin, having impressed the then manager Max Allegri in training, where he would often marvel at the ability of a certain Cristiano Ronaldo. 'It was a privilege to even train with him. It’s helped me so much. It’s not even about going up to him and asking him questions. You just watch him and you learn.'
A chockablock weekend of football, of course, NOT starting with Aston Villa v Newcastle as tonight’s match has been postponed (Barnsley play Bournemouth at 5.30pm (!!) this evening if you fancy).
Come Saturday, you have a quartet of Premier League matches including Manchester United at West Ham and Chelsea hosting Leeds, while Sunday sees the north London derby between Tottenham and Arsenal. Tidy.