Manchester United have refused Manchester City‘s request to bring their own camera crew into the away dressing room at Old Trafford for Sunday’s blockbuster Premier League clash, reports said Thursday.
The move could add spice to a match that Jose Mourinho‘s United dare not lose if they are to retain any realistic hope of reeling in Pep Guardiola‘s flying side, eight points clear at the top of the table.
Amazon are following City for a behind-the-scenes documentary about the club’s 2017-18 campaign, which will be screened next year as part of a reported £10 million deal.
Britain’s Times newspaper said City were understood to have made a formal request to United and the Premier League for the Amazon crew to be given access to the tunnel area and away dressing room at Old Trafford, but it had been denied due to insufficient space.
According to the report, United have granted permission for a pitch-side camera to film the warm-up.
The Times said United’s stance would be welcomed by the Premier League’s existing rights-holders, including Sky Sports and BT Sport, who have reportedly privately expressed irritation at the access City are granting to a commercial rival.
Amazon are muscling into sports broadcasting, recently winning the UK rights to show the US Open tennis and ATP Tour and sparking concerns among the established broadcasters that the Premier League may be in their sights.
The American tech giant has already produced two series of a documentary programme called “All Or Nothing”, which follows the fortunes of NFL teams the Arizona Cardinals and Los Angeles Rams.
In October, Italian giants Juventus announced they will feature in a four-part documentary series produced by Netflix in 2018.
Provided by AFP Sport
Arsene Wenger has hit back at Jose Mourinho by insisting he wasn’t using gamesmanship when he picked Alexandre Lacazette to face Manchester United 24 hours after saying he would miss the game with a groin injury.
France striker Lacazette was a surprise selection for Arsenal‘s 3-1 defeat against United last weekend as Gunners boss Wenger had stated he would miss the game due to the injury he suffered against Huddersfield at half-time.
Instead, Lacazette was fit to start at the Emirates Stadium and scored Arsenal’s goal.
“I’m telling the truth,” Mourinho said when listing the availability of some of his players. “It’s the truth, eh? No stories of Lacazette or (Manchester City midfielder) David Silva. All the truth.”
Wenger, speaking ahead of Arsenal’s Europa League game against BATE Borisov, was asked about Mourinho’s comments and said he was expecting to go into the United game without the former Lyon star.
“I thought he wouldn’t play. In the end, he could play. What did you want me to do, leave him at home?” Wenger said on Wednesday.
“I’m always honest. I thought really that he wouldn’t play, that’s what I had been told.
“After, he had a test on Friday morning and went to the game. We weren’t sure he would play but he tried and he played, that’s part of football.”
Arsenal welcome Belarusian Premier League champions BATE on Thursday having already sealed top spot in Group H.
Wenger has made mass changes throughout the competition, handing valuable game time to the likes of Theo Walcott, Jack Wilshere and Olivier Giroud.
Even though progression into the last 32 has been assured, the Frenchman still intends to play those on the fringes of the first team, rather than blood a team of youngsters.
Asked how winning the group would affect his team selection, Wenger said: “Not too much, because I have many players available who need competition.
“Next week we go into a week with three games and so some players need competition, some experienced players. We’ll play quite an experienced team tomorrow.”
Wenger also warned the injury-plagued Wilshere to be careful when ice skating after pictures emerged of the midfielder with his family at a rink earlier in the week.
“It’s not ideal. For your balance it’s not bad but for a footballer I don’t think it’s great. It depends as well on what you do,” he said.
“You can do ice skating by bringing your child on and just making sure nothing happens to him, or (you can do) ice skating violently, I don’t think he did that.”
Guardiola claimed first blood, leading City to a 2-1 win at Old Trafford in September 2016, but both teams fell by the wayside thereafter, finishing the campaign well adrift of Premier League champions Chelsea.
Fifteen games into the new season, City are eight points clear of United at the top of the table and Sunday’s game is being billed as Mourinho’s big chance to stick a spike in Guardiola’s wheels.
“If we lost two out of three and they win everything, they are there.”
The arrival in Manchester of the two pre-eminent managers of the age stoked the embers of a bitter personal rivalry that had crackled with blistering intensity during the two years they spent in opposing camps in Spain.
Mourinho’s first season at Real Madrid in 2010-11 culminated in an infamously spiky series of matches against Guardiola’s Barcelona, who would have the last laugh by claiming a La Liga and Champions League double.
Mourinho nourished the hostility, villainously jabbing his finger in the eye of Guardiola’s assistant, the late Tito Vilanova, during a Spanish Super Cup match in 2011.
Madrid finished the 2011-12 season as champions and Guardiola, worn out by the constant sniping, stepped down at Camp Nou and would not resurface at Bayern Munich for another year.
The men’s September 2016 reunion promised much, Guardiola’s slick City wiping the floor with United in the first half before a Claudio Bravo blunder enabled Zlatan Ibrahimovic to make a game of it in the second.
But by the time of their most recent meeting, at the Etihad Stadium in April, thoughts of an all-Manchester title shootout had vanished.
– ‘Ray of hope’ –
A grim 0-0 draw left both teams locked in a battle for fourth place as Antonio Conte‘s Chelsea streaked towards glory.
City eventually finished third as United trailed home in sixth place, but Mourinho could reflect on the season with greater satisfaction after leading his team to a League Cup and Europa League double.
Seven months on City look almost transcendent, their sublime and devastatingly effective possession football reminiscent of Guardiola’s great Barcelona team.
Having won their last 13 league games, they can set a new mark for successive wins within an English top-flight campaign if they prevail on Sunday.
Recent results, however, give United reason for optimism.
While City have had to grind out wins, needing late goals to see off Feyenoord, Huddersfield Town, Southampton and West Ham United, Mourinho’s counter-attacking United team have hit form.
They followed up impressive wins at Watford and Arsenal with a 2-1 defeat of CSKA Moscow that sent them into the Champions League last 16 and have not lost at home since last year’s loss to City — a run of 40 matches.
“They (United) might, for the first time this season, have just seen a little ray of hope,” said former United captain Gary Neville in his Sky Sports podcast.
“There will be better teams (who play City) than Huddersfield, Southampton and West Ham, yet all came close.
“United will be confident going into the game because of what has happened this weekend for City, even though it has been a good week for City too, as they’ve scored three late winners and have taken maximum points.”
There was a glint of the old malice in Mourinho’s eye after United’s win over CSKA on Tuesday, when he suggested Guardiola was being untruthful by expressing doubts about the fitness of Spanish playmaker David Silva.
It is a look Guardiola knows all too well and its reappearance indicates the biggest managerial rivalry of recent times is about to erupt again.