Is this the next News International scandal?
The Times have been caught attempting to cover up a xenophobic slur against Arsenal midfielders Emmanuel Frimpong and Francis Coquelin.
The deputy football correspondent Matt Hughes, who does not even claim to have been present at the game, wrote a match report which is completely negative and mostly untrue.
Brought to our attention by our friends at Gingers for Limpar, the national newspaper has been caught out unnecessarily slagging off the Gunners youngsters.
Hughes wrote in the early edition:
“Djourou and Ignasi Miquel were run ragged by Marvin Morgan, a centre forward sacked by Aldershot Town for abusing his own fans, but it did not help that Emmanuel Frimpong and Francis Coquelin, who sound like they should be at the Moulin Rouge, played as if they would rather have been prancing around Paris.”
And we are guessing Hughes meant the David Wright that hit the post was actually Mark Wright, the Shrewsbury Town midfielder.
This version, although still up on the website (even if it is hidden behind a paywall), was later changed to read:
“…as Emmanuel Frimpong and Francis Coquelin were overrun in midfield.”
This journalist was present at the game and Hughes’ report is even more baffling because Coquelin was actually one of Arsenal’s better players.
The Frenchman, along with all his team-mates, were poor in the first half hour but afterwards he ran the game.
He broke up the visitors’ attacks and pinged balls to all parts of the Emirates pitch with unerring accuracy.
This view is backed up by other newspapers with The Sun and The Mirror both giving him seven out out of 10 for his match rating.
Hughes also points out in his original report that Arsenal had a record low attendance of 46,539 – 7,000 lower than the previous worst.
He wrote: “It is symbolic of the club’s slump that a competition once cherished as a glimpse into a supposedly glorious future is now treated with indifference.”
Yes the Gooners did not turn up in their usual numbers but this is because in the current economic climate, Premier League fans do not want to shell out their money to watch a League 2 side.
League Cup games are not included on the Arsenal season ticket prices. Instead the club put the game on general sale allowing fans, who may not see Arsenal play every week, the chance to see their heroes.
Hughes also cannily misses out the fact that a crowd of 46,539 was still the best attendance in the Carling Cup that night.