"The worst season in his 16-and-a-half-year Arsenal reign plumbed new depths amid a torrent of abuse at the Emirates," reports the Mail on Sunday, which adds that, "With Arsenal's board set to review their manager's position at the end of the season - and Wenger himself understood to be considering his position - Everton manager David Moyes last night emerged as a shock contender to take over next season."
The Mail's sensationalist report conveniently ignores the fact that Arsenal are still in the Champions League. And as Chelsea showed last season, it really doesn't matter how badly you play, you can still become champions of Europe so long as you score more goals than the other team and concede fewer.
Still, it all serves to set up their Moyes angle for the Mail's report: "Aware of Wenger's perilous position, Moyes has told Everton he is unlikely to discuss his own future until the summer when his current deal runs out. Despite his close relationship with owner Bill Kenwright, there is irritation inside Everton at Moyes's tactics, which they regard as a form of blackmail to push for new signings."
The Sunday Times is only marginally more reserved in its doom-mongering, running an article about Arsene Wenger so dismal that someone who'd not seen the league table or Champions League results since August could be forgiven for thinking that the Gunners are rock bottom, and that stewards on the turnstiles at the Emirates had been instructed to steal sweets from any young children entering the stadium.
"Arsenal fans reacted with a mixture of disbelief and simmering anger last night," they claim, going on to be incredulous that the manager refused to throw in the towel there and then: "Wenger rejected the charge that this amounted to an irreversible decline in his tenure as manager," they report, breathlessly.
Their most powerful editorial decision, however, is to illustrate their piece with Tweets from celebrity Gooners such as Ian Poulter ("Wenger that's your lot you have to go, take a bow you've done an amazing job over the years but enough is enough") and Piers Morgan ("BREAKING NEWS: 11 Arsenal players test positive for donkey meat.... Why would any Arsenal fan possibly still want Wenger as manager after this?").
Purely on the basis that it would annoy both Poulter and Morgan, the normally utterly impartial Paper Round will be cheering enthusiastically for Arsenal come Tuesday night in the hope that they stuff the Bundesliga leaders 6-0.
The Sun takes a slightly different line on Wenger, suggesting that he is still in charge and full of confidence by leading with his lack of regrets for having rested players for the Blackburn match, and even running a transfer rumour story claiming that Barcelona goalkeeper Victor Valdes will join the club.
The same paper has a more eyecatching headline regarding another London club, however: the paper claims that Chelsea manager Rafa Benitez has had an "angry bust-up" with the club's resident captain-leader-legend, John Terry.
Under the stark headline "War", the paper reports that the two had a, " blazing dressing-room bust-up leaves their relationship at breaking point" after Benitez apparently laid the blame for Chelsea's 3-2 defeat at Newcastle a few weeks ago squarely at Terry's feet.
"Benitez let fly at JT in front of his shocked team-mates — and the Blues legend blasted back," a source told the paper. "JT wasn’t happy about the criticism and had a go back at the boss in front of all the other players in the dressing room. Everyone was stunned by the way the manager singled out JT. It was not the way he is usually spoken to at Chelsea."
On to the transfer gossip, and Real Madrid have made the first move in their attempt to sign Gareth Bale from Tottenham for £50 million. The Sunday Times reports that the Spanish champions have officially asked Spurs to be notified if anyone comes in for the Welshman, so that they can have a chance to match the bid.
In other news, Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers wants Anderlecht's Argentine playmaker Lucas Biglia (The Sun), Thomas Vermaelen is the next player to leave Arsenal for Barcelona (Sunday Mirror), and both Manchester City and Chelsea want Hamburg's Son Heung-Min, a giant attacking midfielder-cum-striker who has been dubbed the South Korean Cristiano Ronaldo.
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- Arsene Wenger