Wenger’s offside law change ‘impossible’ for next season says IFAB chief

Lukas Brud, the boss of the International Football Association Board (the IFAB), has told ESPN it is “impossible” for Arsene Wenger’s proposed overhaul of offside to be introduced into the Laws of the Game for next season.

Wenger, who managed Arsenal to three Premier League titles during his 22-year spell at the club and is now FIFA’s chief of global football development, wants a player to be deemed onside if any part of their body which can legitimately score a goal is level or behind the last defender.

It was suggested that the IFAB, football’s lawmakers, would vote on the proposal at its Annual General Meeting in Belfast on Feb. 29, to become law on June 1 and used at Euro 2020, but general secretary Brud told ESPN that the idea has not yet even been discussed at a technical level. There will be no change to the offside law for next season.

“It is not up for approval to come into the Laws of the Game,” Brud told ESPN. “We have a very strict procedure that we introduced a few years ago that any proposal has to be submitted usually on or before Nov. 1 of the previous year in order for us to be able to discuss a proposal in detail with the relevant bodies, such as our Advisory Panels — the Football and the Technical. The Board of Directors then takes a decision on which proposals go forward to the AGM for approval.

“I’m not judging the proposal, it might be a good one, but this is not up for approval or for a vote as a concrete proposal to go into the Laws of the Game, it’s impossible.

“The meeting is also to discuss football and some ideas, and the AGM could say ok, this might be something we want to discuss further, or give it to the [advisory] panels to get their point of view and maybe do some trialling. But it won’t be used at the Euro as reported by some media. Nothing can be used without being in the Laws of the Game, and it definitely will not be in the Laws of the Game next season.

“Arsene Wenger is a highly knowledgeable and experienced football expert, so we certainly welcome his ideas, but we haven’t discussed it yet and we simply cannot approve anything that was not discussed on any level so far.”

It would flip the law that states any player is in an offside position if any part of their body they can score with is beyond the line of the last defender. It would have significant implications for the game as a whole, not just in leagues with VAR where the debate about offside has been heated.

“You will be not offside if any part of the body that can score a goal is in line with the last defender, even if other parts of the attacker’s body are in front,” Wenger told reporters. “That will sort it out and you will no longer have decisions about millimetres and a fraction of the attacker being in front of the defensive line.”

Brud also told ESPN that there is no proposal on the agenda to introduce a margin of error to tight offside decisions. It emerged earlier this month that the Premier League planned to request permission to add a 10cm leeway to offside with VAR.

“It’s something we will be discussing, but not as a concrete proposal to go forward on the agenda,” Brud added. “We need to find a solution for the lack of acceptance for taking decisions that are very accurate, even if they seem to be too forensic. But margin of error suggests you give a specific distance — what if it’s 11cm instead of 10cm?

“We need to go away from margin of error, we need to find an instruction or an understanding of how to apply the offside law with VAR. If the evidence is unclear, and you can usually quickly see if something is clearly offside or not, then the original decision stands.

“We generally do not see this being a global issue in other countries so it’s very difficult to constantly react on the offside issue. If the video footage clearly shows that the player was in an offside position, and the referee has not given offside, the decision should change.

“But you need the lines for a very simple reason. The cameras are not static, the picture that you are taking is not always in line with the angle of the offside. We know from goal-line technology that when the ball is on the line [in the air] it looks like the ball has crossed the line. When you look at it from above, the ball is still on the line. We have the same problem here.

“They [VARs] use tools to manually lay a line that is calibrated that is actually showing the truth, and not video footage alone. With video footage alone you cannot take the decision. The tool is helping the referee to make accurate decisions. This for me is the reference point, this for me is the final decision, full stop. With margin of error, where does it start and where does it end?”

“The levels of calibration and levels of accuracy have vastly improved from where it was a few years ago. We need to look into this, and we are constantly looking into this. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not like we’re ignoring what the Premier League or UEFA is saying, but there are various things that play a role in this debate. ”

Wenger later clarified his comments, saying: “I referred to prospective ways of potentially improving the offside rule and I mentioned one of the possibilities that might be worth thinking about.

“My objective, as well as FIFA’s, is to continuously think about ways to improve our game and we shouldn’t be afraid to debate them in public, but I am well aware that any rules changes are subject to a standard approval process, which include discussions with stakeholders and potential test phases, within the scope of the established IFAB framework.”

Chelsea board back Lampard’s decision to bench Kepa

Chelsea manager Frank Lampard has said the club’s board back his decision to drop goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga to the bench.

Kepa became the world’s most goalkeeper when he moved to Chelsea for £71.5 million last season but he has struggled recently and been replaced by Willy Cabellero for last three matches.

Chelsea have conceded five goals in that time but Lampard said the board have no issues with his decision.

“I am absolutely together with the club and the board,” he told a news conference. “We all want the best. I am paid to make decisions.

“It has been a decision to make on form with the goalkeeping situation. Recently it’s just changed, but that’s nothing final.

“All Kepa needs to do is train and show a great attitude, as I demand from all the players. And things can obviously change.”

Lampard also confirmed that N’Golo Kante will miss the next three weeks after he sustained a muscle injury in the 2-0 loss against Manchester United.

The Chelsea boss said he has no return date for Christian Pulisic but Tammy Abraham and Ruben Loftus-Cheek will be back for the Tottenham game on Saturday.

The Blues have only won one of their last five Premier League matches and Lampard has challenged his players to get back to form.

“They have to rise to that challenge,” he added. “If you want to play for Chelsea you have to.”

Source: ESPNFC

Wayne Rooney scores in 500th appearance as Derby and Fulham draw

Wayne Rooney marked his 500th game in English league football with a coolly-taken Panenka-style penalty for Derby County in their 1-1 draw against Fulham in the Championship on Friday

The 34-year-old ex-England and Manchester United captain, who made his debut for the Midlands club earlier this month after returning from a playing stint in the United States, cleverly chipped in a 55th minute penalty for the lead.

“I’m always nervous before penalties. I’ve never done that [a Panenka-style penalty] in my career,” Rooney told Sky Sports. “I know goalkeepers study penalties so I tried something different and thankfully it went in.”

Rooney signed an initial 18-month deal at the second-tier side where he will also work as a coach as he chases his dream of being a manager.

“There are still more games to come,” he said. “I feel fine, I’m still enjoying the game. It’s 500 appearances but I’ll celebrate when I stop playing.”

The draw left Fulham in third place, two points outside the automatic promotion places, while Derby are stuck in mid-table.

Source: ESPNFC

Man City players committed despite UEFA ban says Guardiola

Pep Guardiola has said his players remain committed to Manchester City despite the prospect of a Champions League ban hanging over the club.

City have been hit with a two-year ban from Europe by UEFA after being found guilty of Financial Fair Play breaches.

The club intend to lodge an appeal with the Court of Arbitration for Sport, but Guardiola has said the focus of his squad will not be affected.

“I’m completely sure of the commitment of our players,” Guardiola told a news conference ahead of the trip to Leicester on Saturday.

“It’s about what they’ve shown for many years, nothing changes, at the end of the season nobody knows what is going to happen. With calm we decide what we want, but for the next three months the commitment will be incredible.”

Guardiola has led City to back-to-back Premier League titles and last season lifted an unprecedented domestic treble. They are still in the hunt for the Carabao Cup, FA Cup and Champions League this season and the Catalan said his success at the club should not be overshadowed by UEFA’s case.

“We cannot change what people think,” he said. “I know how hard we work. I am so proud about how hard we’ve worked all these years.

“No one helped us outside, we did it day by day, game by game.

“This is not finished, it’s not over, we appeal as a club and we see what happens.”

After Saturday’s trip to the King Power Stadium, City face Real Madrid in their Champions League round of 16 first leg and Guardiola had positive news about the fitness of Raheem Sterling, David Silva and Leroy Sane ahead of the game at the Bernabeu.

“All of them are OK, not 100% some of them,” he said. “Silva was smart to come off for the last minutes [against West Ham], Sterling is in the latter stage [of recovery]. He’s getting better. Sane is good as well, but of course he needs a little more time after six months out.”

Source: ESPNFC

Mourinho says Top four with Tottenham better than second with Man Utd

Tottenham Hotspur manager Jose Mourinho said he believes finishing in the top four with this Tottenham team will be a greater achievement than finishing as runner-up with Manchester United in the 2017-18 season.

Mourinho had previously said that the season with United was the greatest of his career because “people don’t know what is going on behind the scenes.”

However, he has faced a crisis with his forwards this season with both Harry Kane and Son Heung-Min facing extended periods on the sidelines with injury.

When asked at a news conference on Friday if top four success would top his 2018 achievement, Mourinho replied: “In these circumstances? Yes.

“Son and Harry score the majority of goals that Tottenham score. This season was so negatively special that we are going to be without them both at the same time and for a lot of matches so yes [it will be a great achievement].

“Not just for me. Not my achievement. Collectively for the team. For the boys, if we manage in fourth without Harry and Son will be something incredible. It will be an incredible achievement for the boys so we have to give everything we have.”

Mourinho returns to Stamford Bridge on Saturday to face Frank Lampard’s Chelsea but the former Blues manager has played down the occasion.

“Not special. One more game,” Mourinho said. “As I told my previous club, I belong 200% to the club. The only difference would be at the end of the game I could walk from the stadium to my house. But even that I would not take advantage of because I will come back here for my players.”

Source: ESPNFC

Man City earn win over Chelsea with De Bruyne, Mahrez goals

Manchester City returned to winning ways with a 2-1 success over Chelsea on Saturday at the Etihad Stadium, ending the Londoners’ run of six straight victories and keeping Pep Guardiola’s side nine points behind leaders Liverpool.

City’s loss at Anfield before the international break made this a key game for them but they were made to work for their three points by Frank Lampard’s enterprising side.

It was a game where Chelsea showed, once again, that they are a team with huge potential but not yet the steel and defensive solidity to compete with the very best. And while City will be relieved to have emerged with the three points, Guardiola will be concerned that his team still look substantially short of their top form.

The Spaniard made five changes from the loss at Anfield with, most significantly, goalkeeper Ederson returning from injury.

Chelsea welcomed Jorginho back into their midfield and American winger Christian Pulisic was passed fit despite having struggled with a groin injury. Lampard’s side started brightly, bubbling with confidence and moving with such speed and invention that City were struggling to keep up but it was a move of direct simplicity that opened the scoring in the 22nd minute.

Mateo Kovacic superbly picked out N’Golo Kante’s forward burst and the French midfielder held off compatriot Benjamin Mendy before smartly slipping the ball past the advancing Ederson.

But six minutes later Belgian midfielder Kevin De Bruyne brought the champions level when the ball fell to him on the edge of the box and he cleverly wrongfooted the Chelsea defence before unleashing a low drive which took two deflections before rattling past Chelsea keeper Kepa Arrizabalaga.

Chelsea had looked the slicker and sharper of the two teams — and indeed enjoyed the rare status of having more possession at the Etihad – but it was Guardiola’s side who went in with the advantage at the break. Riyad Mahrez cut in from the left and, with Chelsea’s defence backing off, he drove a left-foot shot into the far bottom corner to make it 2-1.

Chelsea nearly put themselves out of the game two minutes before the break when Kepa gifted the ball to Sergio Aguero but the Argentine’s shot from distance crashed off the bar.

Inevitably there was some VAR controversy before the end, with Raheem Sterling’s stoppage-time effort ruled out for what appeared to be a very tight offside call. The encounter was the first home match under Guardiola that City did not enjoy the majority of possession — they had just 46.7%.

Source: ESPNFC

Dismal Arsenal defence struggles again

Arsenal were greeted by a chorus of boos following their dismal 2-2 draw at home against Southampton, in a game they really should have lost.

Coming off the back of a four-game winless streak in the league, the Gunners looked understandably nervy from the onset and, after a series of loose passes and cheap fouls in the opening stages, Southampton took the lead as Danny Ings reacted first to a quickly taken free kick.

Alexandre Lacazette fired an equaliser from inside the penalty box, but when Southampton retook the lead as James Ward-Prowse converted the rebound from his own penalty, it was the away side who looked like taking the points. Arsenal rescued a draw, as Lacazette proved to the hero once again, but the point does little to appease the club’s frustrated fans.

It is hardly a revelation to state that Arsenal’s backline still requires improvement. No matter the formation, the Gunners simply cannot find a recipe for nullifying their opponents. Calum Chambers continues to look ill-equipped at this level, while Hector Bellerin is also off the pace after his return from a long-term injury layoff.

The attacking trio of Lacazette, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Mesut Ozil looked like a potentially devastating partnership. On this occasion, Ozil was quieter than he was away at Leicester City and yet, in individual moments, there were signs of an understanding brewing between the German and Arsenal’s two marksmen.

Source: ESPNFC

Dele Alli can be Jose Mourinho’s X factor at Tottenham

Jose Mourinho was almost sheepish as he walked onto the London Stadium pitch to applaud the Tottenham supporters, after his new team marked his first game in charge with a 3-2 victory over West Ham.

Throughout a largely impressive win, the Spurs fans had not chanted his name, which was perhaps unsurprising considering that a sizeable section of the club’s fan base is unconvinced by his appointment to replace the sacked Mauricio Pochettino.

But winning matches always helps to prevail in any managerial popularity contest and, by the end of this one, Mourinho was being serenaded by those who had earlier proved reticent. The doubters and sceptics could not have asked for much more from their new manager, however.

“The most important thing was to win; it did not matter how,” Mourinho said. “The boys are happy and that’s what I really wanted.

Mourinho always starts well — he also won his first Premier League games in charge of Chelsea (twice) and Manchester United — but a comfortable win against a local rival is as good as it gets and this victory went beyond merely announcing his arrival with three points.

Victory was clearly the top priority and Mourinho ticked that off with ease, but this was also Tottenham’s first away victory in the league since January: “Eleven months without music in the dressing room,” Mourinho said. Ending that run was another major positive, especially because their next away game is a trip to Old Trafford on Dec. 4.

Conceding two late goals to Michail Antonio and Angelo Ogbonna will not have pleased Mourinho, but it highlighted the softness of his new team and, if nothing else, he should eradicate that weakness quickly. That this win was inspired by Dele Alli was another big plus. The 23-year-old’s performances for Spurs so far this season have been so disappointing that he has lost his place in Gareth Southgate’s England squad and Mourinho took him to one side on his first day at training to ask whether he was the real Dele Alli or if it was his brother acting as an impostor.

The pep talk certainly worked, with Alli involved in Tottenham’s first two goals. His pass to Son Heung-min for the opener was Alli’s first league assist of the season, but he surpassed himself seven minutes later by keeping a ball in play in the touchline with a sliding flick that allowed Son to break forward and cross for Lucas Moura to double the lead.

Alli’s contribution for that goal came directly in front of Mourinho and the manager was quick to praise the midfielder, shouting “you’re the man” from the touchline.

“The piece of skill was amazing,” Mourinho said about Alli after the game. “I am happy with him. I spent a few minutes with him in training and outside the pitch. And we were saying that the best Dele Alli has to be back. He’s too good to not be one of the best players in the world and not playing with the national team.”

How Mourinho handles his stars will be interesting, perhaps even a key indicator as to how well he will do as Spurs manager. In his last two jobs, at United and during his second spell at Chelsea, a heavy-handed, tough love approach to top players proved detrimental and damaging to results and morale.

His final game at United saw Paul Pogba dropped to the bench in a 3-1 defeat at Liverpool and he chose the same fate for Christian Eriksen in this fixture. With Alli, though, Mourinho put his faith in a talented but inconsistent performer and, initially, was repaid handsomely.

If Mourinho can trigger a return to form for Alli, he will have a goal-scoring midfielder worth more than 20 goals a season in the past, whether scoring himself or creating for others. Beyond him, the new manager knows he has a squad capable of challenging for a top-four finish, plus silverware in the FA Cup and even Champions League this season.

Taking his original Chelsea team from the mid-2000s as a blueprint, Mourinho already possesses similar building blocks at Spurs. He has two commanding centre-halves in Toby Alderweireld and Davinson Sanchez (and Jan Vertonghen to back them up) while Harry Kane, who scored Tottenham’s decisive third, provides the goals and traditional centre-forward skills of Didier Drogba and other strikers around whom Mourinho has built teams in the past.

Moussa Sissoko and Eric Dier are Mourinho-style defensive midfielders, while Son and Lucas Moura offer width and pace similar to Arjen Robben and Damien Duff. The X factor might be whether Alli can become a new version of Frank Lampard by delivering goals from midfield.

Tottenham have winnable home games against Olympiakos and Bournemouth before they face United, so Mourinho has the opportunity to build momentum and re-ignite the team that came so close to achieving great things under Pochettino.

Time will tell whether he can work his old magic, but day one could not have gone any better.

Source: ESPNFC

Jose Mourinho open to replacing Unai Emery at Arsenal

Jose Mourinho would be interested in the Arsenal manager’s job if it became available.

Boss Unai Emery is coming under increasing pressure at the Emirates following a mixed start to the season. There are no immediate plans to dismiss the Spaniard, who takes his team to face Liverpool in the Carabao Cup fourth round on Wednesday, but Mourinho would be open to talking to the club if the position became vacant.

Mourinho is based in London after being sacked by Manchester United almost a year ago. The 56-year-old, who has also been linked with a return to Real Madrid, has been working as a pundit but has made no secret of his desire to return to management.

The chance to win trophies with three Premier League clubs would appeal to Mourinho, who won three titles with Chelsea, but he would need assurances that the conditions were suitable to allow a serious challenge at silverware.

He was at the Emirates to watch Arsenal’s 3-2 win over Portuguese side Vitoria Guimaraes in the Europa League on Thursday, during which Nicolas Pepe, a player he recommended to United while he was at Old Trafford, scored twice.

Emery has come under fire following a run of one win in four Premier League games, including throwing away a two-goal lead to draw 2-2 with Crystal Palace on Sunday.

His handling of Mesut Ozil has also been questioned after freezing out the German midfielder.

Emery finished fifth in his first season after replacing Arsene Wenger, missing out on a place in the Champions League following defeat to Chelsea in the Europa League final.

They are fifth after 10 games of this campaign, four points adrift of the top four.

Source: ESPNFC

Ronaldo says winning the Ballon d’Or is his Nobel Prize

Juventus and Portugal superstar Cristiano Ronaldo has likened the Ballon d’Or to the Nobel Prize as he challenges for his sixth title.

Speaking with France Football after making the 30-man shortlist for the 2019 award, the 34-year-old made the comparison when revealing that he has learned from the likes of Michael Jordan and others — not all athletes — and their excellence.

“I have learned from him like I have learned from all of those who have excelled,” Ronaldo said on Tuesday. “I am not just talking about sport either. I like to read things on the Nobel Prize — who has invented, generated, created or developed something.

“The Nobel Prize for these guys is like the Ballon d’Or for me. I like to know why they invented something and how they did it — it is important, and it helps me to get even better.”

Ronaldo also said he wants to remain at the top of football’s elite for as many years as possible, and that he would only play “important games” if it were up to him.

“The national team games and the Champions League games are the type of games that motivate me most,” said the Portuguese captain, who has five Champions League winners’ medals to his name. “Games where you are playing for something, in a difficult environment with pressure. You have to be a professional and up to the standard every day to honour your family as well as the club that you represent and that pays you.”

Ronaldo recently surpassed 700 career goals and revealed he considers his goal against Juventus in Real Madrid’s 3-0 Champions League quarterfinal first-leg victory in April 2018 his best. The former Manchester United and Sporting CP man rose high before acrobatically firing the ball into the corner of the net with an incredible bicycle kick.

“It was a goal I had tried to score for many years,” he said. “It came at the crucial time, in an important game, against a great team and an exceptional goalkeeper, [Gianluigi] Buffon. You have to look at the height when I strike the ball. It was more than 2.4 metres. It is incredible. For me, it is the bicycle kick [that had] never [been] scored. And I do not say it because I did it.”

Now within 100 goals of Josef Bican’s all-time record of 805, Ronaldo admitted it is a record he could turn his attention towards, but also claimed he will not place too much importance on it.

“Looking at it that way, it could be an objective as I am not that far off,” he said. “However, beating a record should never become an obsession. Everything I have in life has come naturally. What I am saying is that it has been a consequence of my efforts, not my objectives. If you focus on one goal to achieve, it gets in your head. It is when we are enjoying ourselves that the greatest things happen.

“That said, if I could beat that record…”

When asked to describe his qualities as a player, Ronaldo called himself “a complete player, without any weaknesses” but added “perfection does not exist,” even if he works to become “the perfect footballer — or as close as possible.”

Ronaldo’s secret of his success is “first talent, as without it you cannot do much. However, talent without work serves for nothing. Nothing falls from the sky. I would never have become who I am without my work ethic.”

Ronaldo joined Juventus back in the summer of 2018 from Madrid in a €100m transfer and is tied to the Italian giants until June 2022.

“My aim is to keep myself young as I get older,” he said. “In other words, to remain competitive. Approximately 70 percent of my life is football. You have to be intelligent to last. I call it the education of a player. You have to look after your life, nutrition and sleep.”

Ronaldo believes he has lasted in football’s elite between 16 years of age until now because he has “done things in order,” as well as his “capacity to adapt” and “leave his comfort zone to face danger.”

Ronaldo describes his rivalry with Barcelona captain Lionel Messi as “healthy,” as it allowed both “to be better” while in Spain, “but more than anything, my motivation does not depend on others — I want to constantly be in top shape.”

A Euro 2016 winner in France, Ronaldo says he will have time to admire his career once he hangs up his boots and spends time with his family.

“I have been sacrificing myself for 15 years. After, I will admire what I have done. More than that, though, what I will do is enjoy my friends, my family, see my children grow up and study. I savour the present. I want to transmit my life experience. Not now, though, I still have a lot to give.”

Source: ESPNFC