Weekender: Robocop, chained-up coaches and back-rubs gone wrong
North London has the edge over Manchester
While things may be looking rosy for the two big Manchester clubs, as North London's Premier pair fret over problems on and off the pitch, it's Spurs and Arsenal who have the historical edge ahead of this weekend's North London vs Manchester double-header. Just.
On 15 previous occasions in Premier League history there have been two fixtures pitting North London's finest against their Manchester counterparts, with North London and Manchester both managing five aggregate wins apiece. However Spurs and Arsenal have the edge as far as wins in individual matches are concerned, with the capital chums accruing eleven match wins to City and United's nine.
It's all kicking off in Italy...
...well, it is and it isn't, with a strike seeing off the opening weekend of the season in Serie A. Renzo Ulivieri, the former Bologna tactician now in charge of the Italian coaches' association, sensationally chained himself to the gates of the Italian Football Federation on Wednesday in protest at plans to allow clubs in the top two divisions to appoint managers without qualifications. The 70-year-old, a self-proclaimed communist, has always considered himself a revolutionary and once said that he'd enjoy being likened to Comrade Lenin, of whom he has a bust in his house.
While mediators were called in to persuade Ulivieri to give it up, recently relegated Bari had a stand-off of their own to passify when new signing Alessandro Crescenzi was hit by a plate thrown by his teammate Salvatore Masiello at dinner. Masiello was aiming at Bari's Czech goalkeeper Zdenek Zlamal who had reacted badly to having his pants pulled down by the defender in training the day before. Crescenzi put his right arm in the way to protect Zlamal's face and required no fewer than 40 stitches for his trouble. Masiello has been suspended from training and no longer has a future at Bari. It's not the first time Masiello has fallen foul of the club's disciplinary policy. Three years ago, he reportedly came to blows with the club's masseuse. Either way it's clear there's tension at Bari and everyone could do with a back rub.
EXCLUSIVE: Barcelona are not Robocop
Ever wondered how to beat Barcelona, short of going at Lionel MessiÃ¢ÂÂs knees with iron bars or poking a member of their backroom staff in the eye with a boney Portuguese finger? Well then the October edition of FourFourTwo Magazine can help. WeÃ¢ÂÂve spoken to the great, the good and Emmanuel Adebayor to gauge the best way to better Barca. And happy-go-lucky Togolese forward Adebayor Ã¢ÂÂ a member of the Madrid side who beat Barca in last seasonÃ¢ÂÂs Copa del Rey final Ã¢ÂÂ tells exactly how olÃ¢ÂÂ Mou was able to put his teamÃ¢ÂÂs task into perspective; Ã¢ÂÂMourinho told us Barca arenÃ¢ÂÂt Robocop; they are players, like us, which means if we try to play our football and press them high then they will make some mistakes.Ã¢ÂÂ
No news yet on whether Pep is the Terminator...
The October 2011 issue of FourFourTwo is out now
Borussia are bouncing Ã¢ÂÂbach
If you thought Wolves had bounced-back well from their dice with the drop last term, then check out the start made by German side Borussia MÃÂ¶nchengladbach. Die Fohlen only avoided relegation last season thanks to a relegation play-off win over VfL Bochum last May, but now sit atop the Bundesliga with seven points from three matches, including an away win at Bayern Munich and a 4-1 gubbing of Wolfsburg. If they beat Schalke this weekend they will have made their best start to a season since 1973/74. Beat that, Mick McCarthy...
YouÃ¢ÂÂre all going on a European tourÃ¢ÂÂ¦
Or at least you could be. Why not make like Manchester United, Arsenal, Spurs andÃ¢ÂÂ¦errrmÃ¢ÂÂ¦Birmingham and take your team to the continent? FFTÃ¢ÂÂs travel partners Nickes are giving you the chance to take your team on a training camp in Europe, play a friendly against a local team or perhaps even take part in a five-a-side tournament in Barcelona or Valencia.
For more information, click here
Win a signed pair of Paul RobinsonÃ¢ÂÂs gloves
WeÃ¢ÂÂve teamed up with ProDirectSoccer.com to offer you the chance to win a pair of goalkeeper gloves signed by BlackburnÃ¢ÂÂs Paul Robinson.
Italy's loaded stars justified in pay strike. No, really
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The Casillas-dropping, GÃÂ¼iza-welcoming weekend predictions
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United's evolution and City's revolution helping Manchester set early pace
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Nasri and Fabregas: Two very different tales
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How do you solve a problem like Mourinho?
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Heroes & Villains: Pickpockets, Greg Goodridge and soggy sandwiches
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More features uploaded every day at http://fourfourtwo.com/blogs/
Wenger a victim of his own success
There's a banner that regularly appears at the Emirates Stadium that reads: "In Arsene we trust".
It's a banner that's emblematic of the respect that exists for one of the world's best managers. An acknowledgement of the transformation of an entire club, of the admiration for the one man responsible for that transformation.
It's a banner that underlines gratitude for an individual who had a vision for a footballing Utopia and who dared to make that vision a reality.
A man who took less than two seasons to turn a stale, underperforming club into Premier League champions, change the culture of English football and thereafter raise the bar for those targeting domestic success.
Since being appointed Arsenal's manager, Arsene Wenger has succeeded in every conceivable way. That he is now under greater pressure than he has been at any stage of his time at the club is a total travesty.
It seems that Premier League titles, FA Cup wins, European finals, a highly successful transfer policy and the most entertaining brand of football in the country aren't enough to justify patience in a man who is revered around the world as one of the best in the business.
That Wenger has overseen the development of a sensational new stadium, exceptional training facilities, one of the world's best youth systems and is an outstanding nurturer of talent is seemingly irrelevant. That he has rejected the advances of Real Madrid on several occasions, displaying an all too rare loyalty in the modern game and a dedication to his work beyond the norm is being taken for granted.
The clichÃÂ© is as inevitable as it is appropriate: if ever there was an instance of someone being a victim of their own success, this was it.
Ã¢ÂÂ Declan Warrington FourFourTwo blogger - read the full feature here
We're busily transferring 15 years of FFT interviews to our online archive. Among the 400 we've uploaded so far:
"I like pies. Cherry pie, apple pie, with ice cream"
Ã¢ÂÂ One on One, Dec 2007: Arsene Wenger
"I'm the housewives' and grannies' favourite now"
Ã¢ÂÂ One on One, Sep 2002: Ryan Giggs
"I was pretty good at football, but I felt tennis was more my thing"
Ã¢ÂÂ Celebrity fans: Rafael Nadal