WENGER MUST REGRET 'ENVY' COMMENTS NOW
Do you think Arsene Wenger is regretting his "envy" comments this morning? Before the massacre in Manchester, the Arsenal manager insisted he did not envy the quality and depth of Manuel Pellegrini's Manchester City squad. But by his own admission, the league leaders were found out at the Etihad. As Wenger acknowledged, once Mathieu Flamini was off, there was no like-for-like replacement and Arsenal's defensive structure disintegrated. Yaya Toure was allowed to do as he pleased and the game was quickly taken away from the visitors. That Wenger had to throw on Nicklas Bendtner to save Olivier Giroud's legs with a busy schedule ahead simply compounded the bleeding obvious. That Wenger went into the game (again) stressing he may not buy in January is baffling. They're close, Arsenal, but if Wenger's stubborn streak rises to the surface again, then it'll be more of 'what could've been' when they're handing out the medals in May.
GARLICK HAD HAND IN TRANSFER BUSINESS
If you need any evidence of what a shock West Bromwich Albion’s decision to sack Steve Clarke was, you only needed to check the Sunday press. No-one saw it coming, even the online newspaper sites took their time reporting the stunning news. There was a statement from Richard Garlick, the WBA technical director, on the club's website - and that was it. You can bet chairman Jeremy Peace will have Clarke's replacement lined up. And given the steady progress the club has made in recent seasons, Albion will escape the usual reaction to such a sacking. But this does deserve scrutiny. The results weren't coming, but Albion had been playing well. They won at Old Trafford and were a rubbish pen away from winning at Chelsea. Garlick complained about underperforming summer signings, but what responsibility lies with him? isn't the Baggies management structure all about transfer business being taken out of the manager's hands?
UNITED COACHES SEE MORE IN WELBECK
Yesterday at Aston Villa, Danny Welbeck looked every inch the player the new coaching staff at Manchester United have been talking about. The two goals were finishes of a real poacher and that wonderful flick to play in Antonio Valencia deserved a better end result. Steve Round and Jimmy Lumsden have been talking highly of Welbeck for weeks, they see the England striker capable of being that centre-forward focal point manager David Moyes favours in his teams. Welbeck isn't known for working with his back to goal, but at Carrington they believe he can add that bow to his game and become a genuine first-choice striker in Moyes' long-term plans.
CITY EXPOSED BY EL KUN INJURY
Whoah! Just hold on City fans. Everyone is now jumping over eachother to declare Manchester City title favourites. But that 6-3 drubbing of Arsenal came at a cost. Sergio Aguero is now out for six weeks with a calf injury. For all of City's squad depth, there's no obvious like-for-like replacement. The pace and drive Aguero offers cannot be covered with lumbering giants Edin Dzeko and Alvaro Negredo. His absence will hurt City and simply keeps the guessing game running over who will emerge as an outright favourite for this season's title.
SAKHO DESERVES BIG 2014
If there's one Premier League player you hope for a big 2014, it has to be Mamadou Sakho. It was announced last week the French defender would be taking an active role with the Liverpool FC Foundation, the club's official charity. Not only will Sakho be taking regular coaching sessions at All Saints Primary School, he'll also be helping the students with their French lessons. And this is no PR exercise, as Sakho is pencilled in to work with the students once a month for the remainder of the season. Following on from the emotional tribute PSG fans gave their former captain at the Parc des Princes earlier this season, it does appear Liverpool have found a good 'un in Sakho, someone willing to do more than pick up his cheque once a month.
MARTINO RUES LOSING SANABRIA TO ARSENAL
Make no mistake, Tonny Sanabria is the real deal - and will prove a real transfer coup for Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger. Tata Martino has only been in the Barcelona job for months, but he quickly recognised the 17 year-old's talent. The Barca coach was desperate not to lose the Paraguayan and actually took it upon himself to not only take Sanabria aside while at the La Masia complex, but also paid personal visits to the family home, urging the youngster and his parents to commit to the new deal they had tabled. Even a guarantee of a shot at first team football later this season wasn't enough for the Sanabria clan and now it appears Barca's loss is Arsenal's gain. Certainly, the 17 year-old will be capable of leading the Gunners line in the future, but his pace and mobility makes him than your typical back-to-goal centre-forward. That Martino fought so hard to convince Sanabria to reverse his decision should have Arsenal fans excited.
NORWICH YOUTH WORK DESERVES RECOGNITION
They're doing some good things at the defending FA Youth Cup winners. Norwich City kicked off their defence last week with a convincing 6-1 win over Preston North End. This was all achieved without several of last season's standouts, including the Murphy twins and Cameron McGeehan. To be Cup holders and to produce such a convincing opening win - with a new set of players - does suggest Neil Adams and his coaching staff are doing something special below the Norwich first team. He's certainly being backed by the board as in goal for the Canaries was Ben Killip, a recent signing from Chelsea, while Bristol Rovers are close to selling 16 year-old striker Olly Mehew to the Premier League club. Southampton are deservedly getting the plaudits this season for their youth system, but there's some good work happening in Norfolk that also deserves greater recognition.