As Arsène Wenger struggles, does ‘the Arsenal way’ just mean annual angst? | Nick Ames

As Arsène Wenger struggles, does ‘the Arsenal way’ just mean annual angst? | Nick Ames

Arsenal’s identity However Arsenal proceed in the summer, one of their primary considerations will be the identity the club have cultivated under Arsène Wenger. That goes far beyond the football pitch: in common with most of their direct rivals at home and abroad, Arsenal have been voracious in their drive to enlist a global support base and everybody needs their unique selling point. In Arsenal’s case, the vision they have cultivated over the past decade is bound inextricably with the success and style that hallmarked happier times in the Wenger…

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Fan TV: revolution or just a vehicle for venting attention-grabbing fury? | Paul MacInnes

Fan TV: revolution or just a vehicle for venting attention-grabbing fury? | Paul MacInnes

It was freezing outside the Emirates Stadium but that had not stopped the crowd. Small children were hoisted on the shoulders of their parents and one adult was holding a sign that read “#no bad energy”. All in all there must have been at least 200 people craning to hear a chartered accountant share his views on a hum-drum victory against Hull City. And they were all standing in absolute silence. This was the scene as Arsenal Fan TV recorded their latest instalment on Saturday. 22 latest instalments, to be…

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Premier League: 10 things to look out for this weekend

Premier League: 10 things to look out for this weekend

1) Who will be exposed in potential Anfield thriller? During a Liverpool-Tottenham match at Anfield in May 2011 a man stripped off all his clothes – except his shoes and socks, because that would have been indecent – and ran out to frolic on the pitch. He was having a merry old time of it until Martin Skrtel and Lucas Leiva hurtled over and shoved him to the ground, from where he was scooped up by stewards. There may be a more recent example of strong and well-coordinated defending by…

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Arsenal surprise element thwarted as Chelsea system drags them out of shape | Michael Cox

Arsenal surprise element thwarted as Chelsea system drags them out of shape | Michael Cox

Arsenal’s 3-1 defeat by Chelsea felt somewhat familiar; it was their seventh loss from their past eight visits to Stamford Bridge. However, whereas Arsène Wenger has frequently been accused of tactical naivety after these defeats and ridiculed for failing to adapt his tactics, on this occasion Arsenal’s manager had attempted to surprise Chelsea with his lineup. Having played a 4-2-3-1 system throughout this season, Wenger surprisingly elected to play a 4-3-3. Mesut Özil was moved to the left flank, perhaps to get him into space away from Chelsea’s formidable central midfield…

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Hull City remain a club pockmarked by rancour under Allams’ ownership | David Conn

Hull City remain a club pockmarked by rancour under Allams’ ownership | David Conn

The semi-detached owners of Hull City spent their long, cold January insisting to widely disaffected supporters that they are not just clearing the decks, hauling in all the money they can net, and battening down for the anticipated relegation of a club they are trying to sell. The £20m trawled from selling Jake Livermore and the season’s brightest attacking force, Robert Snodgrass, did not greatly help their case but the vice-chairman, Ehab Allam, did spend his transfer window final day in a flurry of deadline trading. Sources close to the…

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The Joy of Six: Africa Cup of Nations memorable moments

The Joy of Six: Africa Cup of Nations memorable moments

1) The time an Englishman became champion of Africa The Tunisian referee Ali Bin Nasser will never be allowed to forget his role in one of the most galling defeats in English history but, in the name of fair play, we should also recall that only a few months prior to carrying out an impromptu study of Mexican cloud patterns while Diego Maradona punched the ball past Peter Shilton, Bin Nasser presided over a glorious English success. He was the referee who kept a careful eye on the 1986 Africa…

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Deflategate was supposed to kill Goodell and the Patriots. They're still thriving

Deflategate was supposed to kill Goodell and the Patriots. They're still thriving

It has now been two years since the start of Deflategate, an ordeal that should have ruined the New England Patriots and NFL commissioner Roger Goodell. Instead, the only key figure who is worse-off than before is the man who started the fiasco.  On Saturday, a day before the Patriots went to yet another Super Bowl, the Indianapolis Colts fired their general manager Ryan Grigson. The move was celebrated by Patriots fans, who knew Grigson had told the NFL that New England were underinflating footballs during their rout of the…

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If Mayweather wants to fight McGregor it needs to be across three events | Josh Gross

If Mayweather wants to fight McGregor it needs to be across three events | Josh Gross

At the height of UFC middleweight Anderson Silva’s great career in 2009, he began lobbying to box Roy Jones Jr. It was Silva’s dream, he said, and for a time, other than a one-on-one bout with his clone, boxing Jones became the Brazilian’s biggest goal. UFC president Dana White spoke openly about knowing Jones. Of being friendly with Jones. And, while not quite understanding why anyone would want to see it, of wanting to deliver the bout for both Jones and Silva. Of course, though Jones was willing, it didn’t…

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Dave Brailsford appears to be losing his grip as hands spin out of control | Richard Williams

Dave Brailsford appears to be losing his grip as hands spin out of control | Richard Williams

Early on a July morning in 2012 a small figure in black cycling kit left the village of Vielha, on the Spanish side of the Pyrenees, and set off along the quiet two‑lane road towards the Col du Portillon, a winding tree-lined climb leading to the French border. The kit was that of Team Sky, but beneath the helmet and the sunglasses it was impossible to identify the rider, only to envy him the imminent experience of a picturesque climb. Just under five miles long, with gradients averaging 6.8%, the…

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A decade on, did David Beckham's move to MLS make a difference?

A decade on, did David Beckham's move to MLS make a difference?

Wednesday marks 10 years since David Beckham confirmed he would leave Madrid and head to California to sign with the Los Angeles Galaxy. Then football’s most recognisable star, he arrived in Major League Soccer with the goal of improving the American game. Beckham promised to “make a difference” Stateside, but where did he fail and where did he succeed? Successes 1) He raised the profile of MLS Like it or not, MLS’s profile improved with Beckham in the league. At the time, the midfielder was a global superstar, a status…

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Leicester board at crossroads as old ways start to look like the wrong ones | Paul Rees

Leicester board at crossroads as old ways start to look like the wrong ones | Paul Rees

“Happy new year to you all,” wrote Richard Cockerill in what turned out to be his final programme notes as Leicester’s director of rugby on Sunday. Less than 24 hours later, the club announced he had been sacked following the defeat by the Premiership club who have become as dominant this decade as the Tigers were in the 2000s, Saracens. Cockerill became the second director of rugby of a Premiership club to lose his job this season following Andy Robinson’s dismissal by Bristol and five sides are now under different…

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We finally found out what's wrong with Aaron Rodgers: absolutely nothing

We finally found out what's wrong with Aaron Rodgers: absolutely nothing

Not long ago the football world appeared to have given up on Aaron Rodgers. Now with the Green Bay Packers winning the NFC North he’s a popular pick for league MVP. This is how the NFL works. Seasons are rarely coronations; they are more tests or perseverance. People get hurt. Knees and ankles and shoulders fail. Bodies ache. Plans dissolve into mayhem. Teams rise and fall. Winning is survival. And with a week between each game, few things on this planet are as susceptible to overreaction and hyperbole as America’s…

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The year in football: highs and lows of 2016 – from Allardyce to Zlatan

The year in football: highs and lows of 2016 – from Allardyce to Zlatan

The year 2016 was a terrific one for the Premier League and a terrible 12 months for English football. Leicester City’s title success was every bit the fairy story, the perfect antidote to long held and justifiable fears that ordinary clubs could no longer dream of glory as the bigger institutions and the Champions League elite had effectively ringfenced all the prizes worth winning. The Foxes’ achievement was all the more remarkable for being totally unexpected, not just for the above reasons but because of the struggle against relegation the…

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Struggling Oldham urgently seek a solution to their Boxing Day blues

Struggling Oldham urgently seek a solution to their Boxing Day blues

Hats off to Oldham Athletic’s captain, Peter Clarke, for attempting to sweeten a dog’s dinner this week. A sprinkling of optimism is sorely needed around Boundary Park where the club’s chairman, Simon Corney, was in such a steaming funk after elimination from the FA Cup by non-league Lincoln City on 5 December that he cancelled the club’s Christmas party. Oldham are bottom of League One, winless in seven league matches, subject to a transfer embargo and due to play at second-place Sheffield United on Boxing Day. But Clarke, keen to…

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KJ Dillon's $16,255 dinner bill hints at pernicious side of NFL hazing culture

KJ Dillon's $16,255 dinner bill hints at pernicious side of NFL hazing culture

Here’s what passes for a good time in the NFL. A group of veteran players gather up an unsuspecting rookie and take him out to dinner. Over the next few hours they order heaping slabs of steak and bottle upon bottle of wine from the restaurant’s secret storage chest. After, they wash it all down with a couple bottles of Dom Perignon. When the bill arrives they propose a game. How about a little credit card roulette? Everyone throws their card in a hat and the waiter or waitress is…

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Northampton alarm bells clang with winter of discontent looming | Robert Kitson

Northampton alarm bells clang with winter of discontent looming | Robert Kitson

For a grand old club with an enviable, newly enlarged stadium, the modern history of Northampton Saints RFC is strangely fraught. Every team has its highs and lows but the Saints are currently besieged on all sides, trapped by unhappy accidents and assorted misjudgments of their own making. The George North saga, Dylan Hartley’s suspension, looming European oblivion: there is not a lot of jaunty, jazzy marching in at Franklin’s Gardens right now. These have been particularly testing days since their 37-10 home drubbing to Leinster last Friday. Their England…

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RG III and the Cleveland Browns are a tragedy made for each other

RG III and the Cleveland Browns are a tragedy made for each other

Nothing else had been working for the Cleveland Browns, so when Robert Griffin III returned from his latest significant injury, their coach Hue Jackson felt he needed “to know something more” about the quarterback who was once going to lead his team this season. At 0-12 he had nothing to lose … except another game. Predictably, the Browns lost on Sunday afternoon, and Griffin did not play well in what was only his second start in almost two years. In fact, the numbers will say he was something close to…

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Goals are on the rise, but does this mean defending has become unfashionable? | Jonathan Wilson

Goals are on the rise, but does this mean defending has become unfashionable? | Jonathan Wilson

Manchester City have kept two clean sheets all season. Liverpool have kept three. Both sides may have come out of last weekend lamenting defeats that have allowed Chelsea to open a small gap at the top of the table but it could be argued that with defences like they have it is remarkable they are as high up as they are. But this, perhaps, is the modern way: defending in the old-fashioned sense has become unfashionable. “There is no modern generation,” José Mourinho growled in the summer of 2015 after…

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