Iwobi prov­ing his value

Weekly Trust - - Sports - De Gea not def­i­nite to stay at United More doubt over Ozil Isco for Spurs? Team mates, man­ager and fans ap­plaud Origi Liver­pool’s Keita learn­ing a new lan­guage Oh no, not again! Wenger for Italy?

Arse­nal’s mid­fielder Alex Iwobi has a big smile on his face these days. He has shown in his re­cent per­for­mances how ef­fec­tive one-toone train­ing work with new man­ager Unai Emery has been. Iwobi used to lack self con­fi­dence, was slow, heavy footed and of­ten took two or three touches on the ball be­fore pass­ing or shoot­ing and it was all down to a lack of con­fi­dence, not a lack of abil­ity. The 22-year-old said he feels like a new player un­der Emery’s guid­ance and he is cer­tainly much more pow­er­ful and pos­i­tive. The at­tacker has played well enough to gain a nom­i­na­tion as Arse­nal Player of the Month for Novem­ber to­gether with Lu­cas Tor­reira, Rob Hold­ing and Bernd Leno.

I have been told from in­side Old Traf­ford that there is still a chance su­per­star goal­keeper David De Gea might not sign a new con­tract next sum­mer. Real Madrid are con­stantly linked with sign­ing him and I know for a fact that they reg­u­larly send scouts to mon­i­tor his progress. David’s prob­lem is not money as he is a rich man... his prize is win­ning tro­phies and he wants Premier League ti­tles and a Cham­pion’s League medal. He has al­ready won United’s Player of the Year in four of the last five sea­sons. United might be forced to sell their bril­liant goal­keeper next sum­mer if he can­not be per­suaded that United are se­ri­ous ti­tle con­tenders.

I wrote last week about Me­sut Ozil and man­ager Unai Emery leav­ing his most ex­pen­sive fa­mous player on the bench. Now Arse­nal have beaten their fierce ri­vals Spurs on their own ter­ri­tory and Ozil was ab­sent with a back in­jury. The sim­ple fact is that they didn’t miss or need him. A con­ver­sa­tion with Emery re­vealed the most as­ton­ish­ing facts. Fol­low­ing the Gun­ners 4-2 win over Spurs, Emery re­sponded to ques­tions about Ozil as fol­lows…Ques­tion: “Could Ozil have played?” Emery: “He has back ache”. Ques­tion: “When did he get that?” Emery: “I don’t know.” Ques­tion: “Was he here to­day to wit­ness this great win over Tot­ten­ham?” Emery, “I don’t know.” Those an­swers im­ply that he doesn’t care ei­ther. My ques­tion is: if you buy one of the world’s most ex­pen­sive play­ers and pay him £350k a week and he does not fit into your new play­ing pat­tern, do you keep him or sell him and get back a for­tune and rein­vest it? I have no doubt you are con­sid­er­ing this ques­tion and so are the Gun­ners fans on the ter­races and the man­ager and his di­rec­tors.

It is too early for Tot­ten­ham man­ager Mauri­cio Po­chet­tino to start pan­ick­ing af­ter their beat­ing by fierce derby ri­vals Arse­nal but I keep hear­ing ru­mours around White Hart Lane that Real Madrid mid­fielder Isco is on their radar. Isco is not get­ting along with new Real man­ager San­ti­ago So­lari and has not started since he took over the club. Isco was left out of the en­tire squad for Real’s Cham­pion’s League trip to Roma. I have also heard that Isco’s representatives have made en­quiries about him join­ing the Premier League and Tot­ten­ham would be a good fit for him. How­ever, Real have im­posed a ludicrous £700mil­lion re­lease clause that will re­quire some clever fi­nan­cial and le­gal work to over­come if Isco is to be­come avail­able. Arse­nal and Chelsea have also en­tered the race and con­tacted Real and have sent representatives to meet I was par­tic­u­larly pleased with the dress­ing room re­ac­tion to Liver­pool’s Divock Origi’s last sec­ond win­ner against derby ri­vals Ever­ton on Sun­day. Divock has had a tough time lately hav­ing been pushed down the list of first team starters. De­spite hav­ing not ap­peared for 16 months he seized on a last sec­ond mis­take by Ever­ton goal­keeper Jor­dan Pick­ford and forced the ball into the net for a 1-0 win. He was mobbed by his team­mates and cheered by sup­port­ers who sang his name. Later, in the dress­ing room, Divock was con­grat­u­lated by ev­ery team­mate and his pop­u­lar­ity was clear to see. Man­ager Jur­gen Klopp has in­stilled at Liver­pool a “fight un­til the last minute at­ti­tude”, just as Sir Alex Fer­gu­son did at Manch­ester United dur­ing his glory years and Divock showed just how ef­fec­tive that can be. Jur­gen Klopp praised the ex-Lille striker and said how hard he worked in train­ing and his at­ti­tude was ex­cel­lent de­spite not play­ing in the first team. He said, “He has never moaned or com­plained. He has kept train­ing hard and has done his best ev­ery sea­son.” New Liver­pool sign­ing Naby Keita is work­ing hard - to learn English! The Guinean in­ter­na­tional said that he thinks it will take him 6 months. Liver­pudlians have a dis­tinct di­alect ac­cent which is very strong and it will be in­ter­est­ing to see if the for­mer RB Leipzig star picks this up dur­ing his lessons. He said, “I want to be able to speak to the coach, to other play­ers on the team and I am work­ing to­wards that.” Naby started very strongly at the Red’s and quickly be­came a Kop favourite and the fans made up a new song to cheer him on but just re­cently man­ager Jur­gen Klopp has reigned him back and his starts have been less fre­quent.

More misery for Chelsea: fans and man­age­ment are get­ting very frus­trated with Al­varo Mo­rata be­ing caught off­side this sea­son. He has been flagged 18 times which is more than the en­tire Bournemouth team and only one ahead of New­cas­tle on 19 and two ahead of Spurs on 20! As one Blues fan said to me, “I think Mo­rata was born off­side!”

I re­ceived a call from Arse­nal this week which went like this, “Have you heard that Arsene Wenger is talk­ing to AC Mi­lan about tak­ing over as man­ager?” I un­der­stand that the Gun­ner’s for­mer boss has met with the Ital­ian club sev­eral times dur­ing the last six weeks as cur­rent man­ager Gernaro Ge­tuso comes un­der ever in­creas­ing pres­sure over his po­si­tion. I am told that new Mi­lan CEO Ivan Gazidis, ex-chief ex­ec­u­tive of Arse­nal, is pleased with the Wenger con­nec­tion to the Ital­ian gi­ants de­spite hav­ing more than one fall­ing out with the man­ager dur­ing their time to­gether at Arse­nal. Then, on Tues­day, I re­ceived a call to say Wenger is also talk­ing to Ger­man Bun­desliga gi­ants Bay­ern Mu­nich about tak­ing over from un­der threat man­ager Niko Ko­vak. One thing is for sure, Arsene is def­i­nitely keen on a re­turn to man­age­ment in Jan­uary.

Kell Brook feels “re­born” and will tar­get the wel­ter­weight divi­sion’s elite fighters if “con man” Amir Khan turns his back on a do­mes­tic dust-up.

Brook takes on Aus­tralia’s Michael Zer­afa this Satur­day in a fi­nal elim­i­na­tor for the WBA su­per­wel­ter­weight world ti­tle, live on Sky Sports, con­fi­dent of pro­duc­ing an­other ex­plo­sive per­for­mance.

The clash was ex­pected to set up a Bri­tish show­down with ri­val Khan but, with the Bolton man now linked to Terence Craw­ford, a re­vi­talised Brook has his eyes on the other lead­ing fighters at 147lbs.

“Amir Khan is a con man, they should call him Amir ‘con’,” Brook said as he and Zer­afa came face to face at Thurs­day’s press con­fer­ence.

“This is his last big fight un­der Match­room and I thought it was nailed on. He shook my hand and looked me dead in the eye and said we would fight next. What can I do, I’ve bent over back­wards and said I’d come down to 147.

“I’m do­ing ev­ery­thing I can for the fans, he’s turned his back on them. Ev­ery­one knows it’s him that’s run­ning off.

“I want any elite fighter and could weigh in at 147 to­mor­row if I wanted, I’ve got that buzz again. I want the top guys, Shawn Porter with the WBC ti­tle if he wants a re­match or I’d love to bring Er­rol Spence Jr back in the sum­mer and get the win.”

The for­mer IBF king now has long-term friend John Fewkes in his cor­ner and feels “re­born” ahead of his re­turn to the Sh­effield Arena.

Satur­day, De­cem­ber 8, 2018

Kell Brook cel­e­brates af­ter a vic­to­ri­ous out­ing

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