Jose Mourinho has dig at “crying” Arsene Wenger after Chelsea win

4 Comments

LONDON — Jose Mourinho was in a combative mood after Chelsea’s 2-0 win over Arsenal on Saturday, as the Blues boss was hit with a barrage of questions about the conduct of his forward, Diego Costa, who he claimed was his “man of the match” despite the striker being involved in several unsavory moments. 

[ MORE: Three things learned from Chelsea’s win ]

Costa, 26, stayed on the pitch despite flailing his arms at Arsenal defenders on numerous occasions in the first half, see the video above, which led to a reaction from Gabriel who was subsequently sent off on the stroke of half time and Chelsea scored two second half goals to seal a huge win against their London rivals.

After the game, Arsene Wenger complained readily about Costa getting away with those actions and Mourinho had the following to say when told about Wenger’s comments, as the two managers continue their bitter feud despite Mourinho making a point of offering to shake Wenger’s hand before the game.

“My view is this, that is why sometimes I am very proud of my people and my clubs,” Mourinho said. “I have played against Arsenal 12, 15, 18 times, I don’t know. Only once, he didn’t moan. In that day we lost the game, we lost the cup, it was not good for us. We behaved in a fantastic way, no excuses, not crying. Not moaning, just Mr. Jose Mourinho, my players and Chelsea Football Club.”

Mourinho has never lost a competitive game against Wenger, only the FA Community Shield back at August in Wembley. The Portuguese coach made a point of praising his team for keeping their cool in the cauldron of a London derby between two title contenders, as the Gunners went down to nine-men.

“I told my players before the game, to win derbies you need emotional control. Without emotional control forget it, you don’t win,” Mourinho said. “It is something I repeat every derby, you don’t win without emotional control.”

Mourinho struggled with emotional control of his own during his post-game press conference.

Asked if Costa should be retrospectively banned for his actions against Arsenal defenders Laurent Koscielny and Gabriel, Mourinho was incensed.

“I think you should speak about Gabriel Paulista,” bellowed Mourinho. “Good player, you should speak about him and his mistake. If you want to speak about Diego Costa with me, it is just to say he played like he has to play. That is why you have full stadiums, you sell to television stations all around the world for millions, because the game has to be played like that.

“That is why tomorrow, I go to [Rugby World Cup],” Mourinho added. “It is comparable in terms of dedication and passion, I go to New Zealand vs. Argentina. I love it. Diego… fantastic.”

Mourinho then attempted to avoid more questions about Costa’s antics from journalists, before bizarrely suggesting one member of the media was a badminton player. He then suggested that for him, Costa was the “Man of the Match” on Saturday.

As for Wenger, he was furious that Costa was not sent off and berated referee Mike Dean.

“He can do what he wants and he stays on and everybody else who responds to him, they have to be sent off,” Wenger sneered. “I think it is unacceptable, his behavior. If you look at the pictures of what he did to [Laurent] Koscielny before he pushes him down, he hits him in the face. He always gets away with it. It is surprising. I don’t understand Mike Dean’s decision at all. Why does Diego Costa stay on the pitch? Okay, I accept Gabriel has to be sent off. Also, on their first goal I could not see a free kick against us.”

Asked if the FA should retrospectively ban Costa, Wenger was flippant in his response.

“That’s the least they could do but he will do the same next week and the week after and he always gets away with it,” Wenger added. “For me he is always in provocation. He used well the naivety of referee Mike Dean today.”

Chelsea and Arsenal’s bitter battle for supremacy in London continues, as Mourinho and Wenger, with a little help from their players, did little during and after the game to subdue the ill feelings between the two title contenders.

It’s another Zlatan day, as Galaxy star rips Vela, talks Area 51

Photo by Katharine Lotze/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Zlatan Ibrahimovic took a shot at his rivals and his league in one fell swoop.

Perhaps Major League Soccer’s hit is down to proximity and not intent, but the LA Galaxy star certainly didn’t disguise his feelings when asked whether LAFC star Carlos Vela is the best player in the league.

[ MORE: De Ligt joins Juve ]

Vela, 30, has lit MLS on fire to the tune of 19 goals and eight assists in 19 matches, driving the second-year squad to the top of the Western Conference.

Zlatan and the Galaxy’s seasons have trailed behind, relatively speaking. The third-place Galaxy are 12 points behind LAFC, with Ibrahimovic contributing 13 goals and three assists in three fewer games.

“29, he’s playing in MLS and he’s in his prime. When I was 29, where was I?”

Herculez Gomez replies that Ibrahimovic was in Europe (Vela turned 30 in March. At 29, Ibrahimovic scored 21 goals in 41 appearances for AC Milan, on loan from Barcelona. At 30, he scored 35 in 44 for Milan).

“Big difference, exactly.”

Vela, for what it’s worth, spent 2005-17 in Europe. Anyway, here is the exchange.

But wait, there’s more.

Zlatan was also quizzed on Area 51 while in a scrum. For those who may not know, Area 51 is a classified United States military facility in Nevada which has long been speculated as the home of extraterrestrial testing and scientific experimentation.

He doesn’t need to worry about going there, because he has his own Area 51 and there is only one Zlatan.

Who will make Ballon d’Or final three?

Photo by Jean Catuffe/Getty Images
Leave a comment

When Luka Modric won the Ballon d’Or last summer, marking the first victor neither named Lionel Messi nor Cristiano Ronaldo since 2007, it threatened to signal a new era for the trophy in more ways than one.

Ronaldo didn’t win the honors, finishing second, but Messi was inexplicably left off the final ballot altogether.

[ MORE: De Ligt joins Juve ]

Could this be the year that neither makes the top three? Probably not, but it could be the first time Ronaldo fails to make the list since Barca swept the honors Messi, Andres Iniesta, Xavi in 2010.

So while most of us are not thinking of the award right now, Ronaldo has it on his brain. It’s no surprise that Marca, known for its backing of Real Madrid royalty, has thrown his name in the mix as a “favorite” given his scudetto with Juventus. That it mentions his performance in the UEFA Nations League is a little goofy — it was a two-match summer — but such is life.

Ronaldo and Messi are deadlocked on five Ballons d’Or, the most ever, and Messi’s year was superior to his longtime rival. Both won their leagues and Messi did not claim domestic honors at the Copa America — in fact he was not his phenomenal self — but Messi scored 12 goals in 10 Champions League appearances before Liverpool stunned Barcelona prior to the final (Ronaldo’s Juve lost to Ajax).

Marca proffers this “I don’t care but obviously I very much care” from CR7:

“I don’t live with an obsession about awards,” Ronaldo explained. “My numbers don’t lie, this year I’ve won three titles and I’ve been good in the Nations League. What else can I do?”

Ronaldo, it should be noted, was still incredible last season. He scored all three goals as Juventus erased a 2-0 first leg deficit in the UCL Round of 16 versus old rivals Atletico Madrid, then scored in both legs of the side’s exit via Ajax. And he likely would’ve won the top scorer’s prize in Italy had he not missed six matches through injury and rest.

Messi again breached the half-century mark in goals, scoring 51 times in all competitions for Barcelona. He chipped in 22 assists and also missed six matches between the UCL and La Liga.

Are there three players who could surpass both to make a new final three?

It would be stunning if Liverpool and Netherlands center back Virgil Van Dijk was kept off the top three, while Sadio Mane may have a Champions League crown and Africa Cup of Nations victory. And you can follow the Luka Modric logic to a land where treble- and Nations League-winning Bernardo Silva is in the discussion (Raheem Sterling was also great).

Kylian Mbappe had probably the best-looking season on Earth, scoring 39 times with 17 assists in 43 matches and navigating the attention that came with Neymar’s long-term absence by shouldering the burden to great success. We made the argument that his 19 goals and six assists in 23 Neymar-free matches is one of the prime reasons he’s be worth almost any transfer fee.

Also remember that the odds of the captains of international teams having enough ballots without Ronaldo and/or Messi named is very difficult to imagine.

Still, Messi, Mbappe, and Van Dijk seems like the final three to us. What do you think?

LIVE — UEL second legs will determine possible Wolves opponents

Photo by Visionhaus/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Wolverhampton Wanderers will find out its first Europa League opponent on Friday, and the field will be winnowed with a bevy of second qualifying round second legs on Thursday.

[ LIVE: Europa League scores  ]

Malmo, Aberdeen, Kilmarnock, Rangers, Legia Warsaw, and Hajduk Split are the biggest names in play on Thursday, with only the Polish side failing to hold an advantage after the first leg.

American forward Romain Gall is in the mix for Malmo, though he’s been an unused sub of late for the Swedish powers. That could change today, with Malmo in Northern Ireland with a 7-0 advantage over Ballymena United.

You can follow the dozens of ties by clicking the link above.

Klopp: Liverpool has all answers it needs even without transfers

Photo by John Powell/Liverpool FC via Getty Images
Leave a comment

Claiming Liverpool has “solutions for all the situations” that could arise over the course of a season, manager Jurgen Klopp insists that the UEFA Champions League winners need not buy anyone this transfer window.

Of course, Klopp could still spend and admits that he has at least one position he’d like to strengthen by the end of the window.

[ MORE: De Ligt joins Juve ]

He also continues to play down the idea that Liverpool will spend big annually, naming Manchester City as one of four sides which can continue down that path on the day Juventus sealed the addition of reported Reds target Matthijs de Ligt.

From The Liverpool Echo:

“People talk about it like, ‘Now another £300m or £200m’. There are maybe only two clubs in the world – it looks in the moment like Barcelona and [Real] Madrid can do the same – City and PSG that can do it every year. I’m happy with the team, we are really happy.”

Klopp has claimed that injuries and youth progression make Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Rhian Brewster transfer-like additions to the squad. Perhaps he’s been told that there’s not a lot in the budget this summer.

However, he’s also said that Liverpool has to “splash the cash” to compete with its rivals, and it wouldn’t be a surprise if this was all more Cheshire Cat talk ahead of a purchase.