Jim White

  • Benitez to do the Emirates breakaway

    Arsene Wenger has finally admitted it: his Arsenal team do not operate on the same level as Chelsea. He is not talking about tackling, finishing, or even the ability to defend against a breakaway. He is talking finance.

    Arsenal, he says, cannot afford the top players in the world because they are unable to offer them the kind of money available at Chelsea, Milan, Madrid or even Manchester. Unlike Chelsea, who operate under a unique set of monetary circumstances, he cannot afford to match the demands of the very best. Which is quite an about turn for Wenger: until now he has always given the

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  • Special One, Chelsea Nil

    You can blame Didier Drogba's petulance, you can point to Branislav Ivanovic's lack of pace as Samuel Eto'o strode goalwards, you can wonder at the referee's inability to spot the outbreak of all-in wrestling that occurred every time Chelsea won a corner. But there is only one reason why Internazionale have progressed to the quarter finals of the Champions League while their city rivals were thumped last week: Inter know how to defend. Javier Zanetti, Maicon, Walter Samuel and the utterly peerless Lucio gave a masterclass in South American defensive techniques at Stamford Bridge last night.

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  • A replay is the only way

    Now it has become political. Ireland's Prime Minister Brian Cowen has asked President Nicolas Sarkozy to step in to insist the World Cup qualifier between their two nations be replayed.

    Mr Cowen has talked of the moral imperative, of the need to demonstrate the primacy of the rule book, of showing young people around the world that cheats do not prosper. And, though such a decision really should be nothing to do with him, Sarkozy probably agrees. Replaying the match would benefit everyone. Most French people of my acquaintance, already depressed by the decline in their national team, feel

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  • Chelsea’s Guus is cooking

    There is no doubt who is the man of the football week. And no, however much we might agree with his comments, it's not Usain Bolt for calling Ronaldo a "wuss". It is Guus Hiddink, the self-effacing, part-time Chelsea coach who masterminded the destruction of Europe's form side Liverpool and then made out as if it was something anyone could have done just as long as they knew where to look.

    In the stands at Stamford Bridge they must be asking two questions about the clever Dutchman who has landed in their midst. First: since Roman Abramovich has been paying his salary for more than three years

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  • Mrs Grant gets it right

    When it comes to a scandal, Tzofit Grant demonstrated this week that she has the right idea. No retreat behind a super-injunction for the wife of Avram, no arranging for long-lens pictures of her blubbing on a beach in Dubai, no contracting Max Clifford to sell her side of the story to the highest bidder.

    Instead, the moment news of her husband's visit to a Portsmouth massage parlour became public knowledge, she did what many others ought to do: she laughed it all off. The Israeli television presenter explained that her husband required relief from the tension of managing a "crappy club" like

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  • Fasten your seat belts

    Not long to go now. Soon it will be over: the empty feeling, the dull Saturday nights, the Sunday afternoons at a loose end. No more will you be reduced to scrabbling round the television schedules for late night highlights of Argentine league matches, just to feed the need. No more visits to the garden centre to forlornly fill the time. It starts on Saturday, and the wave of relief among right-thinking people will be felt from Fratton Park to the Stadium of Light.

    Whatever you might say about the Premier League, about its silly presumptions, about overpaid players demonstrating all the

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  • Becks is not the bogeyman

    The idea that anyone is going to boo David Beckham when he steps out at Old Trafford for this evening's Champions League game is absurd. Old Goldenballs will get the rapturous reception he deserves, both for past achievement and current dignity. Plus it helps that he is no longer the potent force he once was: so much easier to be magnanimous to someone who, as the depredations of time curtail any contribution he might make, is not going to do you any harm.

    He also plays for the right team. Historically, at Old Trafford, boos are rarely directed in the direction of the players of Milan, a club

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  • Summer holiday for Theo and Joe?

    Anything can happen between now and June 12th when England play USA in Rustenburg.

    John Terry could meet Carlos Tevez and his mates down a dark alley; David James could lose all his strength, Samson-like, after an altercation with his barber; Owen Hargreaves could discover a new pair of knees.

    But one thing can be certain: would the tournament kick off next week it would do so without two players who, a year ago, seemed nailed-on certainties for inclusion. The brief, fitful appearance by Theo Walcott and the complete absence of Joe Cole on Wednesday night does not augur well for either

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  • What more can you say about Wayne?

    Scoring their first goals away against Milan in more than 40 years of trying, Manchester United secured a monumental victory in the San Siro last night. Or was it?

    Rather than a stonking, glorious, ruthless exhibition, the consensus in the newspapers and online this morning is that Alex Ferguson's men enjoyed the luck of the - presumably red - devil. And even the most fervent green-and-gold-eyed fan would have to concede they did have a fair share of fortune. They were fortunate that Paul Scholes can apparently shin the ball with more precision than most strikers, that the Milan full back Luca

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  • Capello helps the aged

    Patrick Barclay, the doyen of football writers, caused a bit of stir this week by picking an England team which he believed could win the World Cup in the summer of 2010.

    It was not so much the inclusion of the perennially crocked Owen Hargreaves at right back that raised a few eyebrows among his many readers at the Times. Nor was it the fact that, on the right side of midfield, he ignored the claims of Theo Walcott and instead selected David Beckham. Walcott, who has been England's most potent weapon of late, was left on the imaginary bench.

    No, what stirred hackles was the age of his team.

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