Munster confirm Ireland centre Chris Farrell needs knee op

  • Chris Farrell will miss the rest of the Six Nations with a knee injury
  • Farrell won man of the match for his performance in Ireland’s win over Wales
  • Ireland are already without star centre duo Jared Payne and Robbie Henshaw 

Ciaran Kennedy For The Irish Daily Mail

Munster have confirmed that Chris Farrell has been ruled out for the remainder of the season due to the ACL injury he sustained at an Ireland training session on Tuesday.

While Ireland head coach Joe Schmidt initially stated that the player was fine following that session, the IRFU later revealed it was ‘unlikely’ that he would play any further part in the Six Nations.

And Munster have confirmed that the centre will undergo surgery on the problem and is set for an extended spell on the sidelines. 

Munster have confirmed that Chris Farrell has been ruled out for the remainder of the season

Munster have confirmed that Chris Farrell has been ruled out for the remainder of the season

Munster have confirmed that Chris Farrell has been ruled out for the remainder of the season

It’s a massive blow for the province ahead of their Champions Cup quarter-final against Toulon on March 31.

Farrell was man of the match in his Six Nations debut against Wales last Saturday, and Schmidt now looks set to bring in Leinster’s Garry Ringrose for the remaining two games against Scotland and England.

Ringrose has only just returned from an ankle problem, and played no rugby until December after surgery on a shoulder issue.

Joe Schmidt has been forced into yet more midfield changes after Farrell's injury

Joe Schmidt has been forced into yet more midfield changes after Farrell's injury

Joe Schmidt has been forced into yet more midfield changes after Farrell’s injury

Arsenal must pull together and battle for Arsene Wenger

I wish I could pull on my boots and play for Arsene Wenger against Manchester City on Thursday. If I could come back for one more game, it would be this one.

I would love to share with this struggling Arsenal side the collective energy and never-say-die spirit that defined the teams I played for.

Goalkeeper Jens Lehmann described it as a ‘wolf-pack’ mentality but I saw it more as a togetherness and a will to win that all our opponents envied. 

I would love to play for my old boss Arsene Wenger against Manchester City on Thursday night

I would love to play for my old boss Arsene Wenger against Manchester City on Thursday night

I would love to play for my old boss Arsene Wenger against Manchester City on Thursday night

Jens Lehmann (right) said Arsenal used to have a 'wolf-pack' mentality but that has long gone

Jens Lehmann (right) said Arsenal used to have a 'wolf-pack' mentality but that has long gone

Jens Lehmann (right) said Arsenal used to have a ‘wolf-pack’ mentality but that has long gone

We played so close to the edge that sometimes we found it difficult to keep 11 players on the pitch.

Now that desire has disappeared. Long gone is Arsenal’s aura of invincibility and teams cannot wait to play them.

This has been Arsenal’s worst season in recent memory. The side’s poor away form suggests a serious lack of character and the last two matches have been embarrassing to watch.

During the Carabao Cup final, there was no hunger to work as a team off the ball. When Arsenal were in possession, they could barely string two passes together.

Where is the intensity in this team, the animal instinct to fight for their lives? It is time for the leaders in this dressing room to stand up and be counted.

When Arsenal were winning Premier League titles in 1998, 2002 and 2004, the players were the best I had ever worked with. I had waited my whole career to join such a talented group.

Before games, I would look round the dressing room and remind each and every player just how good they were. Who is doing this now? Somebody needs to remind these players of their qualities and challenge them, too.

Who is saying to Mesut Ozil, ‘You can find a great pass, but we might not have much of the ball, so work harder to get it back’?

Who is urging Hector Bellerin to combine his great pace with excellent deliveries in the final third?

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is a ruthless striker. Who is telling him that against City he may only have one chance, and that he will have to take it?

Aaron Ramsey has unbelievable energy. Who is encouraging him to win that battle in midfield and make Kevin De Bruyne, David Silva and Fernandinho feel like they are having their hardest game all season? 

Arsenal, who lost 3-0 to Man City at on Sunday, are a team devoid of leadership on the pitch

Arsenal, who lost 3-0 to Man City at on Sunday, are a team devoid of leadership on the pitch

Arsenal, who lost 3-0 to Man City at on Sunday, are a team devoid of leadership on the pitch

Who is saying to Mesut Ozil: 'We might not have much of the ball so work harder to get it back'?

Who is saying to Mesut Ozil: 'We might not have much of the ball so work harder to get it back'?

Who is saying to Mesut Ozil: ‘We might not have much of the ball so work harder to get it back’?

Jack Wilshere is developing into a dressing-room dynamo who demands more from his team-mates, but he needs help. If I could show these Arsenal players one game, it would be the victory over Manchester United at Old Trafford in 2002 that clinched the title.

That game was won by grafting, by scrapping, by getting back into position so early that United could not even think about going forwards.

This was a United team who had won the title three years in a row. There was no way they were going to win a fourth on our watch.

On Thursday, Arsenal should be seeking to create their own history by beating another great team.

The players should stop feeling sorry for themselves and draw a line under poor performances. They need to be snarling, competitive, ruthless in their play.

Wenger knows this. He is a fighter. He needs to find it within himself to inspire his team and give them the best possible platform upon which to succeed against City. I have the utmost respect for Wenger. It is not my place to question his tactics, but in my view it would be a mistake to set up with a back three as Arsenal did at Wembley.

City’s wide players would pin Arsenal’s full backs and force them into a back five. That would give City’s full backs licence to pile forwards.

Wenger would be better served matching City’s 4-3-3 system and giving his players clear instructions about their roles and responsibilities in this formation.

Midfielder Jack Wilshere (left) is the closest thing Arsenal have to a leader  but he needs help

Midfielder Jack Wilshere (left) is the closest thing Arsenal have to a leader  but he needs help

Midfielder Jack Wilshere (left) is the closest thing Arsenal have to a leader but he needs help

City are a great but Arsenal should be seeking to create their own history by beating them

City are a great but Arsenal should be seeking to create their own history by beating them

City are a great but Arsenal should be seeking to create their own history by beating them

Without the ball they must be like street fighters, quickly getting back into shape and making the space for De Bruyne and Silva as compact as possible.

Then, when Arsenal win back possession, they should have the confidence to express themselves, be competitive and take the game to City.

No matter how Arsenal play, there is every chance that Pep Guardiola’s side will win. There is a reason the title was all but sewn up by Christmas.

But this match is not all about the result. It has to be about restoring some pride in Arsenal Football Club.

The mentality must be, ‘If City are going to beat us, they will have to earn their victory’.

There should be fire in the belly of every Arsenal player. As a professional footballer, your life feels incomplete if you are not winning games. I expect to see 11 bad losers at the Emirates.

These players may not have the ability of Thierry Henry or the desire of Ray Parlour, but there is so much more they can give.

My message? Pull together. Be a team. Otherwise, Arsene Wenger’s story at Arsenal will not have a happy ending.

Arsene Wenger will not leave Arsenal quietly this summer

On the mood…

We are very disappointed because we lost an important game. We need to first recover from the disappointment and then prepare for the next challenge, as always, together.

on what Arsenal need to do differently against City on Thursday… I felt it was a very tight game until the 2-0. When you look at the end of the game, Man City had three shots on target and we had two. So overall, I believe that we have to turn the decisive moments in our favour and play with more freedom than we did. I think we played a bit apprehensively and that is important that we go into the game with that force that is part of our game and our philosophy.

On Nacho Monreal…

He is out for the two games this weekend Thursday and Sunday, certainly out. He might be out for two more, Milan and maybe even one more. He had an inflamed back, a disc problem. The rest, everybody is fit.

On the rest of the team news…

Everybody is fit, yeah.

on how he lifts the players after Sunday… Well when you do not get the result, it’s part of our job. Part of our job is to respond and to focus on the next game. You want only to win games, it’s not always possible, so it’s the way you respond. I believe that [we need to] analyse well, focus on the next one and respond together in a united way, which his part of our philosophy at the club.

On the criticism and his response…

Look, we have to live with that. It’s part of the modern game. People who comment, their job is to comment, so you have to live with that. What is important is how we respond, how we analyse the game and how we respond in a united way. All the rest is part of the game that you have to live with. It doesn’t help us to win or lose the next game. What helps us to win the next game is how we respond internally together.

On what gives him belief in his players… 

The belief? You cite only the games we have lost, but we have won many games. What you forget is we were in the final. Nobody has put us in there on invitation. We had to fight very hard, we had to knock Chelsea out in the semi-final, over two games. That shows you that the team has quality and can fight. It was two tough games. 

We have not played weak opponents to get into the final. It’s not available for everybody to get there. After that, you have to say as well that we played against a team who dominate the Premier League by 15 points, so you know that you go into a final nobody can guarantee you to win. You can win and lose – you have not to accept it but you know as well that can be part of the game.

On if his position will be reviewed at end of season… 

My position is my position. Honestly, that’s the last worry I have at the moment. My worry is to focus, to get the team ready for tomorrow’s game.

On if there will be a review at end of season… 

I just told you, I just gave you the answer of what my way of thinking is. It’s the next game. We are in that kind of situation where you want to focus on the next game. I don’t ask you if your position is reviewed at the end of the season.

On that being why he is asking Wenger a question… 

Yes, but my job is to focus on performing and my job is to perform. It’s for other people to judge me, it isn’t for me to evaluate that.

On if in the interest of clarity, he is expecting to remain in charge next season…

I just told you the answer. If you need clarity, I can repeat exactly the same answer. Exactly, that’s the clarity. Does it stop you to sleep that my position is uncertain or would not be certain, or is certain? No. What is interesting in football is the performances of football, the game you will see on Thursday night. That is what is important. All the rest may make headlines, but it is not really interesting.

On whether he can accept that if he doesn’t say anything now he’s just leaving the door open… 

No, look, I am just amazed that I have to always answer things that are exactly the same. I am here for 21 years, I turned the whole world down to respect my contracts. So I am still amazed that I still have to answer these types of questions.

On Jack Wilshere’s contract…

It’s progressing.

On if he his hopeful…

Yes, but the decision belongs to him. At the end of the day you have to respect the decision of the player. Our desire is clear, is expressed, is numbered and after that, the player has to find satisfaction as well.

On seeming to be happy to surrender possession in the cup final and whether we’ll do that again tomorrow… 

Look, we did that in the semi-final of the cup and it worked. I would just like to remind you that the possession was 57-43, so it was much more even than what you say here. 

We had less of the ball in the semi-final and we had beaten them, so if it was as mathematical as that, we analyse well our games and overall I believe that yes, we always have the ball because you cannot stop them completely from having possession as well because they are top quality. As I told you, they dominate the league at the moment and there is a reason. You have to accept that. 

I am quite amazed how people analyse that. It looks like we have lost against bottom of the league in division five. We have lost against a team that dominates English football at the moment. Yes we are unhappy, yes we are disappointed, yes we are not happy with our performance. 

But we have to take perspective and I think that means sitting back a little bit, analysing it well with a distance and then coming in and committing for the next game. I think we lack a little bit of perspective in our analysis.

On if he wants to use perspective, we lost to a team in Sweden we were expected to beat….

But again, there is no perspective. We won 3-0 in the first game, what you want in the two legs is to win the game and I accept we had a big disappointment on Sunday, but you cannot come out with the game against Ostersund because we qualified.

On that game being important in terms of generating feel-good factor and keeping people quiet… 

Yes, but as I told you, what is important is what’s happening to the club and the team. My individual or personal future, or how long I will stay at the club, is less important.

On whether he is a better manager now than five years ago…

That is for me, but for you as well – don’t forget that. How do you judge that, only be results, the quality of work? The problem of a manager is to take the best out of a team and how can you rate that, how can you evaluate that? 

The only thing I can tell you is that I try to be a better manager than I was five years ago and I put the effort in to be a better manager than I was five years ago. After that, if you say to me that you don’t agree then I can understand that but the effort, the heart and work is behind it.

On the effort the players made against Man City…

Yes, of course [they gave me everything]. I am long enough in the game to know that when you lose a big game, people always say that the players don’t want it enough – that is a common response that you get, you always get that. 

You have to analyse whether that is the serious problem in the game, did we lose the game because of that – I am not convinced. When there is a big difference like 3-0 you always get that impression. For me, it is not the main reason.

On criticism of the players walking…

Yes, but you could find that on both sides. You can always get out pictures from a game that justifies what you think, you find in every single game, on both sides, moments where a player doesn’t track. After you have to analyse why, has he made two runs before to go in behind and was exhausted, or did he not track because he didn’t want to? That is different. 

I believe we have to live with that criticism and respond together like we always do. We got to the final and you don’t get there by coincidence, you have to fight to get there and we did. We didn’t play against a poor team in the semi-final, we played against Chelsea and we have shown that we can fight. You have to acknowledge as well that Man City are a quality team.

On whether what we do next season depends on qualifying for the Champions League…

I don’t want to come out always on that, I have answered that already. Yes, I answered that question. Our target is to qualify for the top four, of course.

On whether he is under pressure to get a top-four finish…

What I want is for us to focus in a united way and respond tomorrow with a good game and win the game. 

Pep Guardiola offers support to Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger

  • Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola has offered support to Arsene Wenger
  • City thrashed Arsenal 3-0 in the Carabao Cup final at Wembley last weekend
  • They meet again on Thursday — this time in the Premier League at the Emirates
  • Wenger is under pressure and Guardiola said: ‘I’d like to tell him that I am close’

Chris Wheeler for MailOnline

Pep Guardiola has offered his support to Arsene Wenger after Manchester City’s easy win in the Carabao Cup final put the Arsenal manager under renewed pressure.

The two clubs meet again in the Premier League at the Emirates on Thursday night and Guardiola expressed sympathy for his beleaguered rival as City attempt to take another step towards the title.

‘I understand completely,’ said Guardiola. ‘I’d like to tell him that I am close, I am on the same side as him. I understand what he feels because I have had it before.

Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola (left) has offered support to Arsenal's Arsene Wenger

Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola (left) has offered support to Arsenal's Arsene Wenger

Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola (left) has offered support to Arsenal’s Arsene Wenger

Guardiola's City thrashed Arsenal 3-0 in the Carabao Cup final at Wembley last weekend

Guardiola's City thrashed Arsenal 3-0 in the Carabao Cup final at Wembley last weekend

Guardiola’s City thrashed Arsenal 3-0 in the Carabao Cup final at Wembley last weekend

‘Believe me, you feel alone because there’s a lot of pressure on your shoulders.

‘What happened can happen to me in the future. We won, I’m good. Arsene Wenger didn’t win, so he’s not good. I always support my colleagues.’

City will travel to London by train on Thursday morning despite the threat of more snowfall and further disruption to the transport network.

Meanwhile, Guardiola insisted that he will not allow his personal views to ‘damage’ City and is prepared to stop wearing a yellow ribbon in support of jailed Catalonian politicians.

He has been charged by the FA for making a political statement having twice ignored formal warnings to stop displaying the ribbon on the touchline.

The City boss has until Monday to respond to the charge and confirmed that he will write to the FA personally to explain his position on the matter.

The result left Wenger under serious pressure at Arsenal, who play City again on Thursday

The result left Wenger under serious pressure at Arsenal, who play City again on Thursday

The result left Wenger under serious pressure at Arsenal, who play City again on Thursday

Ahead of his next meeting with Wenger's team, Guardiola said: 'I am on the same side as him'

Ahead of his next meeting with Wenger's team, Guardiola said: 'I am on the same side as him'

Ahead of his next meeting with Wenger’s team, Guardiola said: ‘I am on the same side as him’

Guardiola faces a fine on this occasion but could be banned from the touchline if he continues to commit the same offence.

He wore the ribbon in Sunday’s 3-0 win over Arsenal, and it remains to be seen if he does so again at the Emirates.

Asked if he would stop when the threat of a ban became detrimental to his team, Guardiola replied: ‘Of course, I don’t want to damage my team or club. They know my opinion, it’s simple like that.

‘It’s more important what is happening with the team and the club than my personal opinion.

‘I am open to talking to the FA. I am going to write a letter to explain our position.’  

Guardiola plans to send a letter to the FA to 'explain our position' on wearing his yellow ribbon

Guardiola plans to send a letter to the FA to 'explain our position' on wearing his yellow ribbon

Guardiola plans to send a letter to the FA to ‘explain our position’ on wearing his yellow ribbon


GRAHAM POLL: VAR creates as many problems as it solves

  • Tottenham’s FA Cup thrashing of Rochdale was marred by VAR controversy
  • VAR was called into action to wrongly rule out Erik Lamela’s first half strike
  • It was correct to disallow Spurs forward Son Heung-min’s stuttered penalty

Graham Poll for the Daily Mail

When I last wrote about VAR, I asked the question: ‘What will go wrong next?’

On Wednesday night, the use of the Video Assistant Referee meant that Tottenham were given a penalty that they would not otherwise have been awarded but had a goal disallowed that should have stood.

In the sixth minute, the VAR chalked off a goal for Erik Lamela after ruling that Fernando Llorente committed a foul in the build-up.

Referee used VAR consistently throughout Tottenham's FA Cup tie with Rochdale

Referee used VAR consistently throughout Tottenham's FA Cup tie with Rochdale

Referee used VAR consistently throughout Tottenham’s FA Cup tie with Rochdale

As that foul was neither clear nor obvious, the VAR should not have got involved.

VAR was spot on in the 25th minute in overturning the decision to give Spurs a free-kick outside the box. As the contact on Kieran Trippier continued into the box, a penalty was awarded instead.

On-field referee Paul Tierney was then right to penalise Son Heung-min for stopping and re-starting his penalty run-up. Because Son scored the spot-kick, VAR had to check and confirmed Tierney’s decision.

As this game showed, the problem with VAR is that it creates as many problems as it solves… if not more.

Tierney was correct when disallowing Son Heung-min's penalty and in the awarding of it

Tierney was correct when disallowing Son Heung-min's penalty and in the awarding of it

Tierney was correct when disallowing Son Heung-min’s penalty and in the awarding of it

 The VAR was also wrong on numerous occasions and creates as many problems as it solves

 The VAR was also wrong on numerous occasions and creates as many problems as it solves

 The VAR was also wrong on numerous occasions and creates as many problems as it solves

VAR is going kill football, warns Spurs boss Pochettino

  • Erik Lamela thought he had given Tottenham the lead inside the first 10 minutes
  • But 90 seconds after the forward scored, the goal was ruled out thanks to VAR
  • Tottenham were then awarded a penalty after Paul Tierney consulted VAR again 
  • ‘I think it’s an absolute shambles,’ former Spurs midfielder Jermaine Jenas said

Kieran Gill for the Daily Mail

Mauricio Pochettino warned that the video referee could ‘kill’ football as Spurs’ FA Cup win over Rochdale descended into chaos.

Fans jeered referee Paul Tierney’s constant first-half stoppages to use the system in a fifth-round replay made even more difficult by a blizzard at Wembley.

Tottenham boss Pochettino said: ‘Football is about emotion. It is a contest of emotion and if we are going to kill emotion in football, the fans, the people who love football, are not happy about what they saw.’ 

Tottenham Mauricio Pochettino could not hide his frustartion on the sidelines

Tottenham Mauricio Pochettino could not hide his frustartion on the sidelines

Tottenham Mauricio Pochettino could not hide his frustartion on the sidelines

Paul Tierney was at the centre of bizarre events on Wednesday as he relied heavily on VAR

Paul Tierney was at the centre of bizarre events on Wednesday as he relied heavily on VAR

Paul Tierney was at the centre of bizarre events on Wednesday as he relied heavily on VAR

Tierney took 90 seconds to rule out Erik Lamela's strike for a foul inside the Rochdale box

Tierney took 90 seconds to rule out Erik Lamela's strike for a foul inside the Rochdale box

Tierney took 90 seconds to rule out Erik Lamela’s strike for a foul inside the Rochdale box

Fernando Llorente was penalised by the VAR for the slightest of tugs inside the penalty area

Fernando Llorente was penalised by the VAR for the slightest of tugs inside the penalty area

Fernando Llorente was penalised by the VAR for the slightest of tugs inside the penalty area

HOW WEMBLEY VAR DRAMA UNFOLDED

6 minutes – Spurs thought they had an early lead when Erik Lamela slotted home from close range but VAR decided otherwise when Fernando Llorente was harshly adjudged to have fouled Harrison McGahey in the build-up and the goal was chalked off.

25 mins – Rochdale’s Matt Done hauled down Kieran Trippier on the right-hand side with the linesman originally awarding a free-kick to Spurs on the edge of the area. However, VAR showed that the offence continued into the box and after several minutes of deliberation, referee Paul Tierney changed his decision and awarded a penalty.

28 mins – Son Heung-min stepped up to take the spot-kick and coolly sent Josh Lillis the wrong way. However, after the South Korean stuttered in his run-up, a tactic which has been outlawed, Tierney – without the help of VAR – awarded Dale an indirect free-kick and booked Son.

Spurs ran out easy winners with a Fernando Llorente hat-trick but only after Erik Lamela’s first-half goal was disallowed on a mystifying call before Tierney ruled out a Son Heung-min penalty due to ‘illegal feinting’.

BT pundit Jermaine Jenas branded it an ‘absolute shambles’. The ex-Spurs midfielder added: ‘We’ve taken something that could be so good for the game but it’s comical at times.’

Pochettino added: ‘The first half was embarrassing. Everyone was confused and we need to respect the fans. Emotion is why you pay for the ticket, that is why you come to the game when the conditions are so bad.

‘Then you (will) say ‘OK, I am going to watch the game through the TV and stay at home because if I cannot shout when we score because we need to wait two minutes, you cannot express yourself’.

‘I am for the new technology but be careful when you change the game that we know.’

Rochdale manager Keith Hill said: ‘We have to come up with a way for people inside the stadium to know what’s going on. It’s OK me and the players knowing but the fans need to be involved in the process.’

Tottenham Hotspur were originally awarded a free kick when Keiran Trippier was fouled

Tottenham Hotspur were originally awarded a free kick when Keiran Trippier was fouled

Tottenham Hotspur were originally awarded a free kick when Keiran Trippier was fouled

However, having consulted VAR once more, the referee decided to award a penalty instead

However, having consulted VAR once more, the referee decided to award a penalty instead

However, having consulted VAR once more, the referee decided to award a penalty instead

Heung-Min Son stepped up to take the penalty and tucked his effort away from the spot

Heung-Min Son stepped up to take the penalty and tucked his effort away from the spot

Heung-Min Son stepped up to take the penalty and tucked his effort away from the spot

However, Son was penalised for stopping his run up, a decision again left to VAR

However, Son was penalised for stopping his run up, a decision again left to VAR

However, Son was penalised for stopping his run up, a decision again left to VAR

The South Korea international was also booked, as well as seeing his effort chalked off

The South Korea international was also booked, as well as seeing his effort chalked off

The South Korea international was also booked, as well as seeing his effort chalked off

Arsene Wenger determined to see out Arsenal contract

Arsene Wenger insists he will not walk away from Arsenal after it emerged he attended a board meeting on Monday to discuss the club’s future.

The manager’s position will be reviewed by Arsenal’s top brass at the end of the season, with the possibility of Wenger leaving becoming a very real option.

Wenger came out fighting on Wednesday, confirming his intention to see out his contract, which expires at the end of next season.

Manager Arsene Wenger, 68, responded defiantly when quizzed about his Arsenal future

Manager Arsene Wenger, 68, responded defiantly when quizzed about his Arsenal future

Manager Arsene Wenger, 68, responded defiantly when quizzed about his Arsenal future

Wenger, pictured in training on Wednesday, is determined to see out his contract until 2019

Wenger, pictured in training on Wednesday, is determined to see out his contract until 2019

Wenger, pictured in training on Wednesday, is determined to see out his contract until 2019

However, he is well aware of growing doubts within the club over whether he is the right man to lead Arsenal forward.

Sportsmail understands the Frenchman was at a full board meeting just 24 hours after watching his side’s feeble 3-0 Carabao Cup final defeat by Manchester City at Wembley.

The impact on the club’s finances of not qualifying for the Champions League is understood to have been on the agenda.

Arsenal’s half-year financial results, which were released on Wednesday, show the drop from the Champions League to the Europa League created a £23.4million fall in football revenue in the six months to the end of November 2017.

Fears over further losses will intensify with Arsenal set for a second successive season out of Europe’s elite club competition, which would have a key bearing on whether Wenger stays.

But speaking on Wednesday, the Arsenal manager underlined his determination to remain until at least the end of next season — although he acknowledged the decision was out of his hands.

Wenger attended a board meeting 24 hours after Arsenal's 3-0 defeat by Manchester City

Wenger attended a board meeting 24 hours after Arsenal's 3-0 defeat by Manchester City

Wenger attended a board meeting 24 hours after Arsenal’s 3-0 defeat by Manchester City

A couple of City supporters mocked the Arsenal boss by holding up a 'Wenger stay' message

A couple of City supporters mocked the Arsenal boss by holding up a 'Wenger stay' message

A couple of City supporters mocked the Arsenal boss by holding up a ‘Wenger stay’ message

‘I have been here for 21 years and I have always respected my contract so I am quite amazed that you ask me the question,’ said Wenger defiantly when asked if he would still be manager next season.

‘I’ve turned down the whole world to respect my contracts. In life, I look at what people do, not at what they say. What I did in my life was that (not break a contract), so I am quite amazed that you asked me the question.

‘If you want me not to be here, that’s a different problem. You ask me about my commitment, and my attitude is dictated by what I did in my life, not by what I say.’

Intriguingly, however, Wenger added: ‘You try to master what you can master. What is above you, you cannot decide. I am exactly like you. I am an employee and I give my best for my club that I love.’

Meanwhile, Wenger provided an update on Jack Wilshere’s contract talks. The midfielder has still not signed a new deal and, as it stands, can leave the club for nothing in the summer.

‘It’s progressing, but the decision belongs to him. At the end of the day you have to respect the decision of the player,’ Wenger added.

‘Our desire is clear, is expressed, is numbered and after that the player has to find satisfaction as well.’

His position will be reviewed this summer but Wenger has no intention of standing down 

His position will be reviewed this summer but Wenger has no intention of standing down 

His position will be reviewed this summer but Wenger has no intention of standing down 

PSG 3-0 Marseille: Di Maria shines in Coupe de France win

  • Holders Paris St Germain booked place in the semi-finals on Wednesday night
  • Midfielder Di Maria produced a majestic performance capped by two fine goals 
  • It was PSG’s second victory over Marseille in three days after 3-0 league win

David Wood for MailOnline

Angel Di Maria scored twice in three minutes either side of half-time as holders Paris Saint Germain booked their place in the semi-finals of the Coupe de France.

The French giants revealed just before kick off that Neymar will undergo surgery in Brazil on his fractured foot, ruling him out of next week’s Champions League last-16 second leg tie against Real Madrid.

PSG made eight changes from the side that beat their bitter rivals in the league on Sunday but they were still too strong.

Argentine winger Angel Di Maria produced a majestic performance capped by two fine goals

Argentine winger Angel Di Maria produced a majestic performance capped by two fine goals

Argentine winger Angel Di Maria produced a majestic performance capped by two fine goals

Holders Paris St Germain reached the semi-finals with a 3-0 win over Marseille on Wednesday

Holders Paris St Germain reached the semi-finals with a 3-0 win over Marseille on Wednesday

Holders Paris St Germain reached the semi-finals with a 3-0 win over Marseille on Wednesday

Di Maria’s deflected effort just before the break put the home side ahead in the quarter-final tie on Wednesday night. 

Kylian Mbappe was substituted at half-time after suffering a knock. 

The Argentine doubled his side’s advantage three minutes into the second-half when his side-footed effort was deflected under the hand of the keeper. 

Edinson Cavani sealed victory with a neat finish in the 81st minute.  

Di Maria rifled in the opener on the stroke of half-time and adding the second in 48th minute

Di Maria rifled in the opener on the stroke of half-time and adding the second in 48th minute

Di Maria rifled in the opener on the stroke of half-time and adding the second in 48th minute

Di Maria's playing time this season has been limited by Neymar's performances for PSG

Di Maria's playing time this season has been limited by Neymar's performances for PSG

Di Maria’s playing time this season has been limited by Neymar’s performances for PSG

It was PSG’s second emphatic victory over Marseille in three days after a 3-0 league win on Sunday in which their Brazil forward Neymar suffered a broken that requires surgery and is likely to keep him out for six to eight weeks.

Di Maria, whose playing time this season has been limited by Neymar’s performances, scored both goals with his weaker right foot, rifling in the opener on the stroke of halftime and adding the second in the 48th minute.

Striker Cavani sealed the rout with a thumping finish eight minutes from time after a dazzling move which underlined the home team’s domination, with Marseille goalkeeper Steve Mandana sparing the visitors from a heavier defeat. 

PSG suffered another injury blow when Kylian Mbappe was substituted at half-time

PSG suffered another injury blow when Kylian Mbappe was substituted at half-time

PSG suffered another injury blow when Kylian Mbappe was substituted at half-time

Striker Edinson Cavani sealed the rout with a thumping finish eight minutes from time

Striker Edinson Cavani sealed the rout with a thumping finish eight minutes from time

Striker Edinson Cavani sealed the rout with a thumping finish eight minutes from time

Marseille goalkeeper Steve Mandana spared his side from being thrashed by PSG

Marseille goalkeeper Steve Mandana spared his side from being thrashed by PSG

Marseille goalkeeper Steve Mandana spared his side from being thrashed by PSG

PSG manager Unai Emery had earlier suggested there was a ‘small chance’ Neymar may be able to feature in next Tuesday’s Champions League last-16 second leg against Real Madrid. But that is no longer the case.

PSG, who trail Real 3-1 after the first leg in Madrid, will sorely miss Neymar who has scored 19 and assisted 13 of their 84 Ligue 1 goals this season.

His absence makes PSG even bigger underdogs against Real but they should have no trouble retaining their domestic crown without him as they currently lead Ligue 1 rivals Monaco by 14 points with 11 games to play. 

 

Manchester United to shelve Old Trafford revamp

Proposals for Old Trafford to be expanded to a capacity of 88,000 are likely to be scuppered by Manchester United‘s desire to back Jose Mourinho in the summer transfer market.

United had plans to increase the stadium from its current 75,000 seats to improve the atmosphere in the stands and the club’s corporate hospitality.

While the proposals are under review, a club insider has told Sportsmail that the financial priority is to ensure the manager has the funds he needs to improve his squad. 

Jose Mourinho could be granted the chance to go on another summer spending spree

Jose Mourinho could be granted the chance to go on another summer spending spree

Jose Mourinho could be granted the chance to go on another summer spending spree

Mourinho has sought talks with executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward about the subdued atmosphere at the ground, while supporters have criticised Old Trafford’s layout, complaining that it does not make for a raucous environment.

However, despite having spent £300million since arriving in May 2016, the Portuguese’s squad needs an upgrade.

Mourinho’s men sit 13 points behind Premier League leaders Manchester City and, while United are still in the Champions League and FA Cup, they are relying on veterans such as Ashley Young and Antonio Valencia, both 32, to bridge the gap.

Manchester United had planned to increased Old Trafford's capacity to 88,000 from 75,000

Manchester United had planned to increased Old Trafford's capacity to 88,000 from 75,000

Manchester United had planned to increased Old Trafford’s capacity to 88,000 from 75,000

An engineering breakthrough has increased the options for expansion. Previously it was thought that attempts to extend the Sir Bobby Charlton Stand, the smallest and oldest at the ground, would be impractical because of the railway line running behind it. Proposals which included building a tunnel over the line were seen as too expensive to be viable.

However, new plans allow for the stand to be raised higher without affecting the railway. Officials continue to explore ways to make it financially credible.

Pressure has increased recently after complaints over the ground’s atmosphere and the corporate hospitality on offer.

United manager Mourinho and supporters have criticised the stadium's lack of atmosphere

United manager Mourinho and supporters have criticised the stadium's lack of atmosphere

United manager Mourinho and supporters have criticised the stadium’s lack of atmosphere

Mourinho branded Old Trafford a ‘quiet stadium’ after the 2-0 win over Huddersfield Town last month and he is keen to solve the problem. United have consulted acoustics experts and in 2014-15 introduced a singing section in an attempt to increase noise levels.

The Manchester United Supporters Trust (MUST) called on the club recently to change the seating plan. They believe the large corporate section in the Stretford End diminishes the atmosphere.

Should a tier be added to the Sir Bobby Charlton Stand, it would provide around 7,500 seats and clear the way for two further quadrants in the corners, raising Old Trafford’s capacity to around 88,000.

That would leave the ground’s capacity behind only that of Wembley and Barcelona’s Nou Camp in Europe. The increased capacity would also more than cover the cost of seats lost due to the proposed expansion of the disabled section.

It was thought that attempts to extend the Sir Bobby Charlton Stand would be impractical

It was thought that attempts to extend the Sir Bobby Charlton Stand would be impractical

It was thought that attempts to extend the Sir Bobby Charlton Stand would be impractical

Regarding hospitality, United have fallen behind rivals who have been able to expand their stadiums or move to new homes. An industry insider told Sportsmail that Manchester City now have the prime venue, saying: ‘It’s accepted that when it comes to corporate hospitality, City are streets ahead.

‘United still have the big pull, because of the prestige and history of the club, (but) City’s Tunnel Club is 10 years ahead of anything they have at Old Trafford.

‘It’s not that United’s offering is not good, because it is. However, there is no wow factor. You’re talking good at United, but out-of-this-world at City.’

United also struggle for space, and offer a Lancashire Package to supporters. Those who take that option use the corporate facilities at Emirates Old Trafford, the nearby home of Lancashire County Cricket Club, where they dine pre-match before traipsing to the football ground.

Mourinho has already spent £300million as United boss but has demanded a bigger budget

Mourinho has already spent £300million as United boss but has demanded a bigger budget

Mourinho has already spent £300million as United boss but has demanded a bigger budget