Another Premier League match-day coming in so close to the last one begs for the usage of the London buses analogy. But we’re not going to do that. We’re better than that. There are other clichés that can be used and we’ll try to inflict as many on you as possible in today’s alternate report card.
Hull City and Marco Silva: As this column prophesised, Marco Silva has now overtaken Paul Clement in the footrace towards safety. It’s only a matter of time before he runs into his house and bolts the door from the inside, leaving poor Paul at the mercy of the bear.
Outcasts: Luke Shaw has been having a lot of trouble dealing with Darth Mourinho ever since the Portuguese pitched up in Manchester. Mourinho has been accused of shouting unsavoury things in Luke’s direction, such as “Who’s your daddy?” instead of the arm-around-the-shoulder “Luke, I am your father”. This time, the force was with Luke and he managed to make it to the bench, and from the bench to the pitch. Oumar Niasse is another one, banished from the Kingdom of Everton by King Koeman. Hull City took him in and are reaping the rewards. One man’s trash here is, most certainly, another man’s treasure.
Slim-Shady: Islam Slimani and Jamie Vardy both scored for Little Leicester, who are being guided to mid-table now, inspired by the stellar work of the Bard of Avon.
The Ibiza Party Scene: Be thankful for the little things in life. Like Jamie Vardy staying a footballer instead of becoming a DJ in Ibiza. Imagine the horror. Wait, no, don’t.
Chelsea and Eden Hazard: Cometh the hour, cometh the man. If the hour is called ‘Time to wreck Spurs’ title hopes again’.
Tottenham Hotspur: This Spurs team seems to be more resilient and mentally tougher than the one from last season. Which would make it even funnier when they go into meltdown and implode in the last five games of the season.
The Race for Fourth Place: As Arsenal begin their annual charge for the final Champions League place, there are two other contenders in the mix – Liverpool and Manchester City. They all have their own weaknesses. But in Wenger, Arsenal have the man with a particular set of skills that he’s acquired over a very long career. These skills make him a nightmare for teams trying to finish fourth. I’d put my money on the natural order of things to continue.
The Natural Order of Things: Manchester United, after the heady days of fifth, have settled back down into their adopted home for the season – 6th place.
Leicester City Fans: “You’re getting slapped in the morning,” sang the Foxes’ supporters. It was, as the kids call it these days, banterriffic.
David Moyes: Sunderland are going down, we all know that. But David Moyes is not the kind of man to go down without a fight. Or without a mass brawl with journalists at his next presser.
Middlesbrough: Boro would make an excellent ‘Bad Luck Brian’ meme – “Scores two goals. Opponents score four”.
Ashley Williams: Way to go, Ashley. As if chastising your top-scorer, the guy who is already looking to leave the club, in public wasn’t enough, Williams decided to screw his team further by committing handball, giving away a penalty and getting sent off.
Swansea and West Ham: The relegation trap-door is open and Swansea now have a foot dangling through it. West Ham United are not too far away and could soon find themselves looking down at the sad faces of Steve Agnew and David Moyes. That’s not a pretty sight. But on the other hand…
Crystal Palace: Palace reverted to type after their heroics against Chelsea. They’re not completely out of the woods yet, and Big Sam needs to put all his weight behind the team to push them further away from danger.
Liverpool’s Defending: It was comically bad at the start and it has maintained that level throughout the season. This is not the kind of consistency we were looking for, Jurgen.
Pep Guardiola: The ‘Fraudiola’ accusations will only grow stronger, as armchair pundits who’ve never played a football match in their lives, let alone managed one, tut-tut at Pep’s latest defeat.
Jose Mourinho: The Special One was repeatedly told to go forth and multiply by the visiting Everton fans. But he had the last, evil laugh as mighty Manchester United snatched a last-gasp draw from the jaws of defeat. The New Invincibles march on, undefeated in 20 games, sitting pretty at the top of… they’re sixth?!
The Puppet Master and His Puppet: “It was his body with my brain. He was in front of me and I was making every decision for him,” declared Jose, which made me think he only played Luke Shaw so he could go full-tilt at him later.
Crosses: Against Everton, Manchester United put in enough crosses to cleanse Transylvania of every vampire that ever lived.
Wijnaldum’s Backpass: Ugly for Liverpool, their manager and their fans. The rest of us couldn’t stop laughing.