Paper News and Gossip: Wenger Crisis Talks with Squad, Cristiano Blames Referee

Ian Rodgers@irodgers66World Football Staff WriterMarch 24, 2014

Paper News and Gossip: Wenger Crisis Talks with Squad, Cristiano Blames Referee

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    Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has held crisis talks with his squad as part of the inquest into the six-goal drubbing by Chelsea, according to one newspaper report on Monday.

    The focus in the sports pages has switched to the Gunners boss following the mistake made by referee Andre Marriner in sending off Kieran Gibbs instead of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain during the match at Stamford Bridge.

    Match officials also come under the microscope after the thrilling Clasico on Sunday night, where Barcelona defeated Real Madrid 4-3 at the Bernabeu, with Cristiano Ronaldo unhappy at referee Alberto Undiano.

    But who else is making the headlines on Monday? Read on to find out more.

Arsene Wenger in 'Crisis Talks' with Arsenal Squad as Press Briefing Cancelled

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    Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger held a "frank, clear-the-air" meeting with his players on Sunday in the wake of Saturday's 6-0 drubbing at Chelsea, reports Jeremy Wilson of the Daily Telegraph.

    According to the report, the manner of the loss left Wenger questioning himself and the players on the occasion of his 1,000th match in charge, although the club's backing for the Frenchman remains "extremely strong."

    However, Rob Beasley of The Sun (subscription required) says Wenger has shown a "lack of backbone" after cancelling his media briefing ahead of the Premier League visit of Swansea City.

    Arsenal defender Per Mertesacker has urged the club to appeal against early kick-offs, reports Martin Lipton of the Daily Mirror.

    The Gunners had suffered heavy defeats in matches at Manchester City and Liverpool in lunchtime starts before the hammering at Stamford Bridge, and Mertesacker is quoted as saying:

    I don’t know why, but it looks like we don’t fancy early kick-offs away.

    It looks like we are going to have to apply to the FA to not play at 12.45 away. That would help us a lot.

    We wanted to start very strong and show people we are good enough, but they scored the two very early goals.

    We lost some balls when we tried to keep it desperately. They then caught us on the counter-attack. We tried to avoid that. But we missed it completely.

Referee Andre Marriner 'Devastated' by Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain Mistake

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    Referee Andre Marriner has been left "devastated" by his error in Chelsea's 6-0 win over Arsenal on Saturday, reports Matt Barlow of the Daily Mail.

    Marriner dismissed Gunners defender Kieran Gibbs for handling inside the area when it was Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain who committed the offence.

    Shaun Custis of The Sun (subscription required) reports that Oxlade-Chamberlain twice told the match official of his guilt in the incident, but Gibbs remained off the pitch.

    Marriner is set to find out on Monday whether he has been demoted for next weekend's matches, but former referee Graham Poll sympathised with Marriner in his column for the Daily Mail.

    Poll booked Croatia international Josip Simunic twice but did not send him off during a 2006 World Cup finals match against Australia, and he recognises that Marriner will feel "embarrassed, annoyed and dismayed" by his error.

Cristiano Ronaldo Blames Referee After Real Madrid's 4-3 Defeat to Barcelona

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    Real Madrid star Cristiano Ronaldo pointed the finger at referee Alberto Undiano following Barcelona's 4-3 victory at the Bernabeu on Sunday night, reports Pete Jenson of the Daily Mail.

    The match official awarded three penalties and dismissed Real's Sergio Ramos during the match as the Catalan club came from behind to keep themselves in the La Liga title race.

    But Ronaldo is quoted as saying:

    The referee made a lot of mistakes.

    We needed to have a referee who was up to the level of the match. He looked very pale and nervous.

    I don’t want to justify the result but he was poor.

    But the Portugal international also hinted at a pro-Barcelona bias as he was also quoted in the same article as saying:

    There were people who did not want us to win and Barcelona to be left out of the title race.

    It upsets some when Madrid win. People get envious. The treatment is not the same.

    People want Barcelona to stay in the title race and that is where they still are.

David Moyes Praises Wayne Rooney's Leadership as Fabio Coentrao Linked

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    Manchester United manager David Moyes has hailed the leadership qualities of Wayne Rooney after the 2-0 win at West Ham United, reports Neil Custis of The Sun (subscription required).

    The England international scored a wonder goal from just inside the Hammers' half before adding a second, and the Old Trafford boss believes Rooney is showing natural leadership skills as he replaced the suspended Nemanja Vidic as captain.

    Moyes is quoted as saying:

    Wayne has led by example all season.

    He wants to take responsibility and I think you always want players who take responsibility. 

    He took pride in wearing the armband and showed exactly what it means.

    Meanwhile, Paul Brown of the Daily Star reports that United will be offered Real Madrid left-back Fabio Coentrao in the summer.

Liverpool Manager Brendan Rodgers Believes Others 'Scared' of Reds Firepower

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    Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers believes Premier League teams are scared of his team's firepower, reports Mike Walters of the Daily Mirror.

    Daniel Sturridge and Luis Suarez have led the line for the Reds, who have scored 82 goals in 30 games this season after adding another six in the win at Cardiff on Saturday.

    Rodgers is quoted as saying:

    Defensively, we can be better and there are areas where we lapsed a little bit, but I thought we showed our power in the offensive game against Cardiff.

    I know as a manager, when you are stood on that touchline, the thing you fear most in a game is the opponent and their offensive threat. That’s the thing you fear most as a manager.

    You are playing against a team who can score from anywhere, any angle, and a team that can dominate the ball.

    Walters also reports that Liverpool defender Glen Johnson believes general football fans view the Reds as the peoples' champions.

    Meanwhile, Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard says he will not be taking his wife and children to the World Cup finals in Brazil, according to David Collins and James Desborough of the Daily Mirror.

Manchester City Goalkeeper Joe Hart Still Hurt by Axing from First Team

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    Manchester City goalkeeper Joe Hart admits he has not got over being dropped from the first team earlier in the season, reports David McDonnell of the Daily Mirror.

    The England international lost his place in the team after a dip in performances earlier this season, but he has since recovered his No. 1 berth from Costel Pantilimon.

    But Hart is quoted as saying:

    It’s tough to say because that’s probably one of the main reasons I’ve not really spoken about it.

    I don’t feel it’s a case of that side of things being really solved. I’m still training hard, as I would be whether I was in or out of the team, and I’m always working to improve my game.

    I don’t want it to seem as though everything is fine or that it was part of my life that I will forget because I’m still living it and I am trying to live in the moment more recently.

    We’re going to get some wonderful opportunities, some I will be playing in, some that I won’t, and I’m just trying to look at things the best I can.

Tim Sherwood Praises Spurs Spirit as Sadio Mane Linked with White Hart Lane

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    Tottenham head coach Tim Sherwood has praised his team's spirit after they came from two goals down to defeat Southampton 3-2 on Sunday, reports Darren Lewis of the Daily Mirror.

    The win kept alive Spurs' slender hopes of a top-four finish this season, and Sherwood is quoted as saying:

    Let me tell you, it’s harder to come from 2-0 down at home then it is to come from 2-0 down away from home.

    Unless you’ve played the game you don’t understand that. It’s an expectancy.

    It takes guts, character, spirit, to be able to do that and we showed that today.

    Meanwhile, Alan Nixon of the Daily Mirror reports that Tottenham have entered the race to sign Red Bull Salzburg winger Sadio Mane.