Paper News and Gossip: Walcott Blow, Moyes' United Fears, Jose Cool on Diving

Alex LivieFeatured ColumnistJanuary 6, 2014

Paper News and Gossip: Walcott Blow, Moyes' United Fears, Jose Cool on Diving

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    The FA Cup third round went off with a bang, with Manchester United the big losers.

    There’s fallout from the weekend’s cup action, while the transfer speculation continues apace.

    There’s a diving storm commanding attention, while Arsenal are sweating over the injury to Theo Walcott.

    All this and more features in Monday’s edition of the Paper News and Gossip Roundup.

Walcott Facing 4 Week Absence

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    Theo Walcott is facing four weeks on the sidelines with a knee problem, according to the Mirror’s John Cross.

    Walcott damaged a knee when appearing to catch a leg in the turf during Arsenal’s win over Tottenham in the FA Cup on Saturday.

    A scan had been set for Sunday, but Cross says that has now been put back 24 hours to Monday.

    Cross claims in his exclusive piece that the indications are that Walcott has strained ligaments and is likely to be out for at least four weeks.

    With Nicklas Bendtner also sidelined, Cross feels Gunners boss Arsene Wenger may well be forced into the January transfer market.

    There is some positive news for Walcott, with the Star's David Woods claiming the forward will escape FA censure for his score gesture aimed towards Spurs fans.

Wenger Reveals Failed Lewandowski Attempt

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    Wenger failed to sign a top-level striker in the summer, but he has confirmed he did attempt to land Robert Lewandowski from Borussia Dortmund.

    One of the worst-kept secrets in football was confirmed last week, when Bayern Munich revealed the capture of Lewandowski who will move clubs on a free next summer.

    Wenger did attempt to head off Bayern, but he was quickly made aware that the striker was always on his way to Munich.

    The Mail’s Neil Ashton has the quotes:

    Yes we looked into Lewandowski but honestly he signed for Bayern one-and-a-half years ago, everyone knows that. 

    They can only make it official now because he is in the last six months of his contract.

    We are like everyone, we look out there and see what is happening. If an opportunity turns up, you know as well that all the big players are at big clubs at the moment and they go for important targets.

    Mario Mandzukic is a player whose position at Bayern will be under pressure following the arrival of Lewandowski, and he is a forward on Wenger’s radar.

    “Lewandowski is at Dortmund until the end of the season and they will not sell Mandzukic now—maybe at the end of the season,” Wenger said.

    Wenger may not get a clear run at Mandzukic, as the Express' James Dickenson suggests Manchester United are also in the hunt for his signature.

Moyes Fears Squad Building Will Be Tough in January

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    Manchester United were the big losers in the FA Cup third round, as David Moyes’ men fell to a shock home defeat to Swansea.

    It is the latest setback for a side making a poor fist of defending their Premier League title.

    Moyes is looking at ways of strengthening his squad but, per a report from the Mirror’s David McDonnell, the Scot feels the players he wants are unlikely to be available in January.

    Per McDonnell’s piece, Moyes said:

    There is an urgency that we would like to bring people in but are those players available in January?

    So there’s no point in me hyping it up, because the players we would like to bring in are probably not available in January, not because we don’t want to do it.

    I said I would try, but that it would probably be doubtful in January, because of the window, but I think I've been saying it fairly consistently.

    So, what was the media reaction to United’s shock loss to Swansea?

    The Telegraph pulled no punches, with the front page of their football pull-out going with the headline of “Crumbling Empire.”

    The pull-out led on a report from Mark Ogden who used a subhead of “Theatre of Nightmares”—a play on words referencing the fact the Red Devils have lost five times at home this season.

    The last-minute goal from Wilfried Bony was like manna from heaven for the headline writers.

    The Express were one of a few papers to go with the headline of ‘Bony and Slide”, which led on Richard Tanner’s report.

Mourinho: Diving Not an Issue at Chelsea

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    There was a fresh dive controversy for the papers to get their teeth into, with Chelsea’s Ramires booked for simulation in the FA Cup win over Derby County.

    Referee Andre Marriner pulled out a yellow card for the incident, and Blues boss Jose Mourinho was probed in his post-match press conference.

    The Chelsea boss had no complaints about the decision, but stressed there is no diving problem at the club.

    Mourinho also called on referees to clamp down consistently with bookings for instances of diving.

    The Mirror’s Martin Lipton has the quotes:

    I've not spoken with Ramires yet, but I will, and remind him what we think. If Marriner is so close and makes that decision, it’s because he is right, perfect.

    But let’s do it every game, every stadium, every player, let’s do that.

    I maintain there are no divers at Chelsea. I maintain it. In isolated cases, the referees attack it, the manager supports the referee, so I think we are doing well.

Liverpool and Spurs in Frame for Kalou

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    Salomon Kalou is seeking a move away from Lille, per a report from the Mirror, with Liverpool and Tottenham in the frame for his signature.

    The forward has been at Lille since leaving Chelsea in the summer of 2012, but the Mirror claims he wants to move on from the Ligue 1 club.

    Arsenal have also been "sounded out," if the Mirror piece is correct, but the paper claims Chelsea and Liverpool head the chase for a player who could be available for £2.5 million.

Rodgers Unhappy with Fringe Players

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    Liverpool laboured to victory over Oldham, and the Telegraph’s Chris Bascombe has suggested Reds boss Brendan Rodgers felt let down by his fringe players.

    Rodgers handed starts to Victor Moses and Luis Alberto, but withdrew them both at the break and replaced them with Lucas and Philippe Coutinho.

    Rodgers claimed his side lacked intensity, and Bascombe’s piece has been headlined “Rodgers: fringe men let me down.”

    In the piece, Rodgers said:

    I had to do it, We needed more speed and intensity to our game.

    You can either wait for it to happen or do something about it because the last thing we wanted was a replay.

    Coutinho and Lucas added intensity and purpose to our game. It was a difficult game and you have to give Oldham a lot of credit for making it that way. We were nowhere near the speed of our game and in the second half we were a lot better.

Bits and Pieces

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    Blackpool midfielder Thomas Ince is a transfer target for ambitious Ligue 1 side Monaco, according to the Mirror's Alan Nixon.

    Liverpool are closing in on the signing of MK Dons midfielder Dele Alli, per a report from the Mirror.

    The Mail's Simon Jones claims Cardiff boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is favourite to land Wilfried Zaha on loan from Manchester United.

    Jones has been busy, as the Mail writer suggests Norwich are ready to press ahead with a bid for Everton defender John Heitinga.

    Newcastle are set to revive their interest in Borussia Monchengladbach forward Luuk de Jong, per a report from the Mail's David Kent.