The Morning Kick: Dark skies forming over Arsenal, but torrential downpour already falling on Chelsea

  • Arsène Wenger’s free rein has left Arsenal’s visionary in the dark - Visionaries make the world go forward. Their price is beyond rubies. But to have a visionary in sole charge of your project, without a cautionary voice or a steadying hand available in moments of crisis, is to risk a loss of focus, of direction, of stability. That is how it seems just now at the Emirates Stadium… (The Guardian)
  • Demba Ba revives Newcastle faithful - Demba Ba looked to quash rumours and Wigan Athletic on Monday night as his two goals put Newcastle on course to victory over a ten-man visiting side. Much of the day’s conjecture had been afforded to yet more reports of the striker’s potential departure from Tyneside… (ESPN)
  • Swansea City goal machine Michu the signing of the season - Between them, master marksmen Luis Suarez, Robin van Persie, Sergio Aguerro, Fernando Torres, Wayne Rooney and Pappis Cisse cost a combined £174m in transfer fees to their current clubs. The £2m Swansea City paid Rayo Vallecano to land Miguel Michu during the summer would probably be just about enough to net Torres’ big toenail in his right foot… (Wales Online)
  • Liverpool’s January Choices: Bent, Sturridge or Long? - Brendan Rodgers has made it clear that he wants to bring in a striker this January. Darren Bent of Aston Villa, Daniel Sturridge of Chelsea and Shane Long have all been linked with moves to the club but who would be the best signing?… (SoccerLens)
  • Mourinho tight-lipped on Madrid future - Jose Mourinho has refused to comment on speculation that he will leave Real Madrid at the end of the season. Reports in the Spanish media on Monday said that Mourinho was planning to leave the Spanish champions in the summer… (Fox Sports)
  • Lucas Leiva: From hate figure to saviour - The return of Lucas Leiva on Saturday was a huge positive for Liverpool, with many claiming it will be the catalyst in igniting Liverpool’s stuttering season. Despite his universal popularity among Liverpool fans, it is to easy forget that the Brazilian was once the least popular player at the club… (SoccerLens)
  • Benitez seeks unlikely salvation in Champions League - Rafael Benitez made scuppering Chelsea’s Champions League hopes a pastime when he was at Liverpool but on Wednesday he has the chance to preside over an unlikely rescue act at Stamford Bridge. His chances of steering the faltering European champions into the knockout stages of the competition are slim… (Chicago Tribune)
  • Javier Hernandez helps to fight crime and induce labour in native Mexico - According to Mexico City police, reported incidents drop when Hernandez is playing, helping to crack down on the number of people murdered by drug gangs in the country, which can reach up to 15,000 every year… (Metro)
  • Jermain Defoe books his place in Tottenham hall of fame - Jermain Defoe went into his home gym yesterday, reached for his handwritten list of Tottenham’s all-time highest goalscorers, and changed the 126 against his name to 128… (The Independent)
  • Americans Abroad: Weekend Rewind - Things just keep getting better and better for Bobby Wood. A few months removed from having faced an uncertain future because of problematic knee injuries, Wood continued his comeback by scoring his first professional goal in 1860 Munich’s 1-1 draw with VfR Aalen on Friday… (Soccer by Ives)
  • (Video) Gael Bigirimana Opens His Goal-Scoring Account Via Wonder-Strike For Newcastle Against Wigan - Former Coventry City midfielder Gael Bigirimana netted his first-ever goal in professional football on Monday night in Newcastle’s 3-0 win against Wigan… (Who ate all the pies)

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