Don’t expect to see Dimitar Berbatov suiting up for Arsenal anytime soon

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As the English media continues to force this rumor through the presses, it’s hard not to ask the simple question:


Sure, Arsenal need striker depth, Berbatov is nearing the end of his contract, and Arsene Wenger is a frugal manager.

But that’s about all that fits this situation.

First of all, Berbatov doesn’t do sitting on the bench.  It’s been heavily documented over the years how much Dimitar’s confidence plays into his success or failure on a given day.

Even match to match, as attacking options dwindle in a defensive showdown, Berbatov makes less and less noise throughout such a match.  Sitting on the bench caused him to ask to leave Manchester United two summers ago.

So why would he move to Arsenal, where he would be the third choice striker? Wenger needs to get quality depth up front in the worst-case scenario – an injury to Olivier Giroud.  But he needs to find a player who would accept such a role, playing behind Giroud and Lukas Podolski, and Berbatov would surely be against that.

What’s there to scoff at when moving to a title contender?

Well, the Bulgarian is the man at Fulham. Even having scored just four goals this season, the attack still runs through him.  He has the Fulham youngsters on a string, playing them into his hand like a marionette.

source: Getty Images
Injuries to Nicolas Bendtner (pictured) and Theo Walcott have Arsene Wenger scrambling for reinforcements

Berbatov has developed an exceptional relationship with a number of the young Fulham attack men, especially Alex Kacaniklic.  The 22-year-old Swedish winger often found himself on the end of vicious verbal assaults during the beginning of Berbatov’s Fulham tenure.  Now, Berbatov has the young talent feeding him the ball at every opportunity.

And despite Fulham’s precarious league position, with Premier League status still very much in doubt for next season, Berbatov has nothing to worry about. His contract expires at the end of the season, and he’s almost a guarantee to depart Craven Cottage when his deal runs out.

Finally, that precarious league position Fulham find themselves in only serves to strengthen their desire to keep their main talisman.  With Bryan Ruiz set for departure, why on earth would they sell Berbatov and leave themselves entirely empty up front? Should Berbatov leave the friendly confines on the banks of the Thames, Fulham will surely be playing Championship soccer next year.

Not surprisingly, the English media also continue to ignore the comments of both managers squashing the deal.  Rene Meulensteen publicly acknowledged he is aware of the 32-year-old’s importance to the club’s relegation battle, saying, “He is a Fulham player & a very important one for us.”

If that’s not enough, Wenger also did his best to put the rumors to rest, saying a week ago, “‘I won’t go into any specific names. That would be disrespectful. We are assessing our options which are restricted. Berbatov is not a name we have considered.”

So while injuries to Nicolas Bendtner and Theo Walcott have Wenger searching for cover at not just the striker spot but the wing position as well, don’t expect a mercurial Bulgarian with a sublime first touch to be the final choice.

“Overweight” Costa comes to Mourinho’s defense

Diego Costa, Chelsea FC
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Diego Costa says he and his Chelsea teammates are to blame for Chelsea’s horrid start to the 2015-16 Premier League season.

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Speaking Thursday, during a bit of downtime over the current international break (Costa was left out of Vicente del Bosque’s squad for Spain’s final two EURO 2016 qualifiers this week), Costa placed the majority of blame at the feet of the entire team, but went on to most harshly critique himself for coming into the season unfocused and “overweight.”

Costa, on his lack of fitness and form to begin the season — quotes from the Guardian:

“We know we’re not in the form we were supposed to be at the beginning of the season. We need to blame the players because we came back from holiday very confident, thinking we could go back into how it was last season, and then realized the team was already in a bad situation.

“I’m going to be very honest: maybe a few weeks ago, five or six weeks ago, I was not on top of my game. At least physically. We talk within the players and we know that, maybe at the beginning, we were not 100 percent as we were supposed to be when we got here. I got injured at the end of last season and then I went on holiday. Maybe I got out of my diet and, when I came back, I was not the way I was supposed to be. I was a little bit overweight. That affected my game. You can be selfish and blame it on the manager but I’m not going to do that. I’m responsible 100%, and so are the other guys.

Given that Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho said on Thursday he doesn’t quite know what’s wrong with the defending Premier League champions, hearing someone — anyone — speak up and explain the club’s worst start to a season in 37 years will surely be a welcome sound to any Blues supporter’s ears.

[ MORE: Liverpool appoint Klopp as manager | Allardyce to Sunderland? ]

Costa, who is eligible to return from suspension next weekend when Aston Villa visit Stamford Bridge, has scored just one goal in league play this season (six appearances) after scoring 20 in 26 games last season.

Sam Allardyce to open talks with Sunderland

Sam Allardyce, West Ham United FC
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Now that Liverpool have selected and named their new manager, it appears Sunderland are finally ready to move forward with their own managerial search. (That’s clearly a joke, because it implies Liverpool and Sunderland ever duke it out for the same managerial candidate.)

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Anyway, the Black Cats will have to hire someone to replace the recently-departed Dick Advocaat at some point. We all knew that, despite the fact he’s probably earned a shot at that level, Bob Bradley was never really going to be considered for the job. With that in mind, if you’re not going to endear yourself to the entire United States of America with this hire, you might as well go for the best unemployed manager who’ll actually consider your approach.

That’s what Sunderland chairman Ellis Short appears to have done, as it was reported Thursday that despite an initial reluctance from Sam Allardyce — let’s be honest, he actually was holding out hope for the Liverpool job — the 60-year-old most recently in charge of West Ham United was willing and ready to enter into negotiations with the northeastern club.

One of the major sticking points during Sunderland’s courting of Allardyce is expected to be his demand for autonomy in the transfer market as well as a sizable transfer budget to sign his own players during the January window.

[ MORE: Advocaat: Sunderland squad too thin, chairman to blame ]

Allardyce seems like the no. 1 guy you’d like to bring in to steady a capsized ship — cough Sunderland cough — in any situation. Not only does he have a successful track record in the Premier League, but he’s the kind of no-nonsense leader a club like Sunderland so desperately needs as they find themselves in yet another relegation battle just eight games into the new season.

Short hopes to have Allardyce signed, sealed and delivered when the Premier League returns to action next weekend. In that event, Allardyce’s first game in charge of Sunderland would be a trip to West Bromwich Albion. His first home fixture? Home to Tyne-Wear derby rivals Newcastle United, a club whose boisterous fanbase still holds a great deal of disdain for Big Sam. Sometimes the football gods really are looking out for us.