I can imagine the scene. Someone needs to go up to Arsene Wenger on the training field and say, “come on Arsene. You’ve done your best. It’s gone. It’s over. Come on, let’s go and have a coffee and remember the good times.” I don’t know who convinced Wenger that they could win the Premier League again without replacing the likes of Viera, Gilberto Silva, Adams, Bould, Keown, Campbell and all the others that were, you know, winners. But someone did, and it was a very cruel practical joke. Still, it was very decent of agent Cech not to celebrate his assist against Arsenal on Saturday, having played in Fabregas brilliantly for the third. Chelsea were in complete control and the game was only enhanced by the sound of Gary Neville having a complete fit having realised that all his battles against the Arsenal of old were for this legacy. Every kick he took, every time Pires and Henry sailed past him was in vain. As Neville succinctly put it, “you don’t win the Premier League with that midfield” pointing angrily at Oxlade-Chamberlain and whoever else was left on the field with him by the end. Still, yet another manager has rocked up on Wenger’s watch and won a title at the first attempt. It’s in the bag for Chelsea now.
Jurgen Klopp might have screamed “nobody can beat us” at the fourth official on Tuesday night, but the stark reality is that Hull City have now joined the list that includes Swansea, Wolves and Southampton – teams that have done just that. Marco Silva has not commented in public to the comments of Messrs Merson and Thompson who openly pondered, “why can they not just give it to an English manager?” He doesn’t need to, he just needs to smugly point to the fact that he has already won his last four home games.
I mean, show me an English manager that is actually doing anything useful right now? Bournemouth once again managed to score a hatful away from home and still lost, shipping six to Everton at Goodison Park. Sam Allardyce might have felt bullish after getting his first Palace win in the week, but when you are 4-0 down to Sunderland, yes Sunderland, at half time then you need to start wondering how you got the England job in the first place. A Palace fan confronted Damien Delaney at half time and tried to hit him. Delaney actually did some defending for the first and only time in the game, managing to protect himself. Still, if nothing else we can all be happy for Jack Rodwell. At the zillionth time of asking he has a win in a Sunderland shirt. The sky is now the limit for him. As for Palace, I wonder if Patrick van Aarnholt still thinks Palace have the better squad?
Gabriel Jesus, what a gift to the game. Not football, not that game. The game of how many religious puns can you fit into one column. Yes, that game. Jesus won’t have been used to playing football on Sunday, but he certainly rose to the occasion against Swansea. He scored the winner, and his second, deep into injury time. Paul Clement looked quite cross, tick, and many people are calling Gabriel an angel, tick. In fact, some think he might be the new messiah at the Etihad, tick. Still, I doubt he’ll be available over the Easter Weekend, though he might reappear in time for the game on Sunday. Tick.
Wes Morgan looked to Robert Huth and smiled, “it’s alright Bob it’s nearly half time and we are not losing.” That exchange happened in the 42nd minute of Leicester’s home game against United and at half time they were being dressed down by Ranieri. Yes, Leicester conceded twice before the whistle and the game was, once again, up. There are rumours that Claudio might be sacked when Leicester lose to Swansea in their next match. It would be a little harsh, but the club is in freefall. United scored again in the second period to win 3-0 and felt sufficiently at ease to bring on Ashley Young, ahead of Martial. Exactly what young Anthony has done to upset Jose remains unclear. Still, Jose will be happy and maybe his players are finally getting used to his demands to win every match? According to Mourinho it has taken them a little while to get used to this concept. It’s now 15 games unbeaten for United, a run that has seen them move up the table from 6th to, er, 6th. Leicester remain the only club in England to have not scored in 2017.
Hands up if, when you heard the news Burnley had had a midfielder sent off after five minutes, you naturally assumed it was Joey Barton? Well, you were wrong. Jeff Hendrick was given his marching orders for a shocking tackle early on against Watford. Burnley barely score away from home, let alone win, when they have eleven so doing it with ten was nigh on impossible at Watford got themselves a 2-1 victory.
Somehow, West Bromwich Albion managed to keep the fact that their troublesome son, Saido Berahino, had managed to fail a drugs test for MDMA a secret for several months. Saido even served an eight week ban in this time, explaining why he was sent to France for “fat club,” or some kind of rehab. You can see Mark Hughes’ point when he questioned how the news conveniently slipped out in the hours leading up to Saido’s debut for Stoke against, of course, West Brom. Tony Pulis put it over his former employers getting a classic Tony 1-0 win.
I suggested it during the week, but I cannot see Southampton winning too many games between now and their League Cup final against United. Their minds seem elsewhere, most probably that trip to Wembley. Andy Carroll, on the other hand, seems to be rejuvenated by the fact that he can once again be considered West Ham’s number one troublemaker since the departure of Payet. Andy scored yet again as the Hammers put Southampton to the sword 3-1.
Just in case he has gone before we speak again next Monday, Claudio I thank you. You briefly restored my belief in football. Very briefly mind you, as you’ve been pretty rubbish since August. Thanks though.