MONDAY’S BIG HEADLINES
Arsenal crash out of the cup
Arsenal have enjoyed a mini-renaissance under Mikel Arteta in recent months but reminders that the banter era never truly ended - indeed, may never end - are never far away at this venerable old club. And another arrived on Sunday as Arsenal joined Newcastle United, humbled by Cambridge, in the small club named ‘unfortunate guardians of the magic of the FA Cup’.
Salah, De Bruyne, Son and Saka on shortlist for Premier League Player of the Season award
Arteta was almost at a loss to explain a woeful performance in a 1-0 away defeat at Nottingham Forest as the combined might of Martin Odegaard, Bukayo Saka, Gabriel Martinelli and, by the end, Alexandre Lacazette, barely troubled the Forest keeper at all.
It was clear things were going wrong when, before half time, Arteta subbed off Nuno Tavares for being uniquely terrible even amid a rancid team display. And when full-time came, so did the recriminations. And one in particular.
- Nottingham Forest stun Arsenal in FA Cup
- 'I just did it to try to improve the performance' - Arteta defends decision to sub Tavares
- FA Cup - Newcastle humbled by Cambridge, shocks at Boreham Wood and Kidderminster
Arsenal are not blessed with the best collection of celebrity fans. Only last week it came to light that Home Secretary Priti Patel is a top Gooner. But Idris Elba is one of the better ones and he linked up with the club for the No More Red campaign, against knife violence, which saw Arsenal play in a special one-off all-white strip for Sunday’s cup match.
The outcome was admittedly a shame for Idris Elba. So much so that another celebrity Arsenal fan, ITV’s political editor Robert Peston, took it upon himself to demand that Arteta’s players apologise directly to Stringer Bell himself.
“It is a pity that my beloved team did not play in a way that remotely honoured @idriselba’s magnificent project. On the basis of today’s performance, these special shirts do not symbolise ‘positivity’. The players should apologise to Elba.”
So, was this a performance so bad it merits a personal apology for a Hollywood superstar? Potentially. It was pretty bad. And The Warm-Up can’t pretend it wouldn’t enjoy seeing Rob Holding trying to explain directly to Idris Elba what went wrong and why it won’t happen again, in between takes on his latest blockbuster.
Demands for apologies were in the air as Arteta said one was due too.
"We were not good enough and we have to apologise for it," Arsenal manager Arteta told ITV. "I don't want to use excuses, I expect the team I put out to do better and when you don't in the cup you are out.”
Although sadly we think he meant to the fans, and not Idris Elba.
Hosts Cameroon kick off AFCON with win
After a couple of weeks in which The Africa Cup of Nations seemed to have to justify its existence, it was nice to see the football start.
Hosts Cameroon beat Burkina Faso 2-1 courtesy of two penalties in seven minutes from Vincent Aboubakar, even if the goal of the day came from Burkina Faso’s Gustavo Sangare.
Mourinho takes aim at his players (again)
Stop me if you think you’ve heard this one before. Jose Mourinho loses an important game. Jose Mourinho takes a pop at his players. In a storyline, and script, which could have occurred at any managerial placement since his time at Real Madrid, Mourinho last night was digging out his own team after Roma let slip a 3-1 lead to lose 4-3 to Juventus.
"It was so good for 70 minutes, then there was this psychological collapse. The 3-2 killed us, because Felix [Afena-Gyan] had an extraordinary game, which finished with a sprint against [Juan] Cuadrado. I take him off and his replacement [Eldor Shomurodov] gets it all wrong.
"When we allowed them back in for 3-2, a team with a strong mentality like Juventus, a strong character. The fear set in. A psychological complex. It's not a problem for me having 3-2, it's a problem for them. For my team.
"At the end of the day, when you're in the s***, you get back on your feet and find your character. But there are people in this locker room who are a bit too nice, a bit too weak.”
As always for Mourinho, it’s the individual players who are at fault, not the manager who creates the atmosphere around them and the tactical structure which they implement on the pitch.
IN OTHER NEWS
Does Adebayo Akinfenwa have a future career as a WWE wrestler? This footage from Wycombe’s 3-3 draw with Sunderland suggests so.
IN THE CHANNELS 1
Erling Haaland having a dig at an opponent in Spanish is both quite funny and also sure to send Real Madrid media into a frenzy over the fact he’s been learning the language.
IN THE CHANNELS 2
Atletico Madrid enjoyed a highly eventful match against Villarreal last night which included a red card and four goals, the pick of which was this stunning long-ranger from Angel Correa.
It’s a busy day of AFCON ahead with three matches, and we will be bringing you live text commentary from Senegal v Zimbabwe and Morocco v Ghana. Not to mention the fact it’s Manchester United against Aston Villa too.
Oh, and this week it’s the Masters snooker which is live on Eurosport and discovery+...
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