What a week in football. We started with #PieGate, we slipped into #ClaudioGate, had Stoke unable to #ShutTheGate live on Sky TV and then, finally, #ZlatanDoesItAgainGate. Why is everything #Gate now? I wonder if Wayne Shaw, the pie-eating Sutton United reserve goalkeeper, had a bet on Claudio getting the sack before the weekend matches kicked off. Gary Lineker claimed to shed a tear when he heard the news, probably as he had a monkey on Leicester going down. Vardy and Schmeichel claimed they had nothing to do with the Italian getting the sack, though their on-field performances do suggest otherwise. Allegedly, the final straw for the players came when Ranieri selected Musa over Gray for the game in Seville. To be fair, the players were probably right to grumble about that selection but for the supposed “infamous four” of Vardy, Schmeichel, Albrighton and Morgan to have a private meeting with the owners and say Ranieri was doing a bad job? A touch hypocritical hey, Wes? I mean, I watched you play in Seville and you did a bad job. How about they sack you? Still, 99% of the people taking part in the social media outcry over the sacking were part of the social media outcry that greeted Claudio when he was appointed. Never forget, this was the guy everyone thought was going to take Leicester down last year as he had led Greece to a defeat against the Faroe Islands in his previous job. It turns out that winning the damn league gets you the sack pretty soon after, so once again Wenger is showing he is light years ahead of his rivals. It was nice to see Jose coming out in support on Friday, slating the Leicester players for getting his mate Claudio the sack. Players getting the manager the sack is not something Jose is at all familiar with.
Anyway, some football was played this weekend. Antonio Conte is highly confident that Chelsea will go on and lift the title, which probably means he is already looking over his shoulder for the managerial grim reaper. Conte says he has players “experienced in winning things” which, one would presume, helps. Swansea were denied a clear penalty at 1-1 which, of course, allowed Chelsea to go up the other end and get two more, including yet another goal for Costa.
There was also a little something going on at Wembley. The unknown quantity, according to everyone’s favourite pundit Jamie Redknapp, that is former Serie A and Napoli striker Manolo Gabbiadini was the first player ever to score a hat-trick in a League Cup Final. Sorry, what’s that? The officials completely banjaxed it up and they disallowed the first one? Next you’ll tell me United went straight down the other end and scored. Oh. Then it was 2-0 United? Job done then, a Jose team would never let a side back in from there in a major cup final. 2-2 with five minutes to go, United on the ropes? Tell me Southampton won! Of course not, because as we all know, Zlatan has one hell of a script writer. The big Swede headed home United’s winner with moments left. Is that the sound of United’s oil tanker turning round and getting back in the winner’s lane? Who knows. I still believe they could be the team to get closest to Chelsea.
Big Sam walked into the match against Middlesbrough guns ablazing. In his sights were his very own players who, according to Allardyce, were not “doing as they were told!” Allardyce used the media to remind his players, and presumably himself, that he had never been relegated and if they did things his way they would be OK. Frustratingly, they must have listened to him on their “winter break” as Palace nicked a 1-0 win. The goal was scored by Patrick Van Aarnolt who, it is now becoming clear, was signed for his ability to score winning goals and not his ability to defend. Palace’s win dropped Leicester into the relegation zone ahead of their Monday night match against Liverpool.
David Moyes, when asked how Sunderland would do against Everton, had replied “if we play like we did against Palace we will win, if we play like we did against Southampton we will lose.” What he got was something in the middle and they still lost. Jermain Defoe hit the bar late on and it was still reverberating a fine tune when Lukaku went up the other end and scored Everton’s second. Poor Moyes, he cannot catch a break. That trip to New York didn’t have the desired effect, and neither did all the redundancies.
Stop the actual press, as Burnley recovered from their FA Cup “giant killing” to pick up a point away from home, which you could believe was their first one ever judging by the song and dance made about it. Hull look like they might have enough about them to get out of trouble, which would still be my preferred outcome so we can see the reaction in the Sky Super Saturday studio.
It would be wise not to score early against West Bromwich Albion, it really upsets Tony. Mind you, it would be wise not to enter the field of play in a Premier League battle with Artur Boruc as your best choice to keep the ball out of the net. Bournemouth led WBA after a few minutes, but quickly found themselves 2-1 down and in continued free fall. How on earth will Eddie get the Arsenal job if he takes Bournemouth down? The is no finer sight than a goalkeeper going to punch a ball, then looking completely lost as he tries to work out where it has gone, only to realise it has gone into his own net. That kind of form will not help the Cherries.
Watford and West Ham played out a 1-1 that was devoid of any real entertainment or drama. Even Slaven Bilic seemed to keep his temper, which was rather dull. West Ham are still paying for their reliance on Carroll being fit every once in awhile and, well, he wasn’t on Saturday.
Tottenham could not make it more clear that they are going to have a weird season next season. Throwing it away in Europe once again against Gent at Wembley, they took Stoke to the cleaners in the first half on Sunday at White Hart Lane. The problem for Spurs is all their home games will be at Wembley next season. Get out now Poch, Barcelona will take you. Harry Kane got another load of goals, three if you are counting, and Dele Alli went someway to making amends for his midweek red card with the fourth. Bruno Indi Martins is still spinning somewhere in North London after Kane’s touch for the 4th.
Premier League wise, Bournemouth and Leicester are heading towards the trap door whilst everyone other than Sunderland are scrambling to get out. What money on the Champions, Eddie and Moyes to be playing Championship football next season? Wayne Shaw is putting his pies on it.