So what did we really learn from Sunday’s glorified preseason friendly? Well, we learned that both Arsenal and Chelsea have spent a lot of money on a new striker but it took a player who only became a regular last season and a defender signed on a free transfer to hit the back of the net in normal time. We learned that Sead Kolasinac is the world’s beefiest defender. I certainly learned a lot more naughty Spanish vocabulary after Alvaro Morata missed his penalty and we all learned that far too many people can still remember Abba songs. Need I go on?
OK, I need to go on.
Firstly, it was great to see “proper football” happening again despite the fact that Everton had already played in Macedonia earlier in the week and the world’s second richest league had kicked off on Friday night. What wasn’t so great to see was Antonio Conte in that tracksuit. What happened to the suave Italian designer suits Antonio? The match was, whisper it quietly so the preseason police don’t hear you, actually quite good but will tell us absolutely nothing in the long run. Sure, the trophy of sorts might instantly get Arsene Wenger an extra year on top of the two more he signed up to in the summer, but this doesn’t make Arsenal any more likely to break back into the top four and it doesn’t make Chelsea any less likely to retain their title. That said, I doubt Jose, Pep, Jurgen, Mauricio and, er, Ronald were watching the match unfold scribbling down “must be very scared of these two teams” on their notepad.
Oh, it was also nice to see that Alexis Sanchez had recovered from his nasty bout of manflu.
Strangely, Willian didn’t seem to learn from Victor Moses that diving at Wembley is very much frowned upon as he collected a yellow card for his effort. The world continues to write off Olivier Giroud, but it was the old Frenchman and not the new one that netted the winning penalty. Talking of penalties, did anyone expect Theo Walcott’s to be that good? Hell no. Mind you, Gary Cahill was a surprise too. Thibaut Courtois must have surely taken the last penalty by a goalkeeper in a high profile match. There is no point being able to save them if you are going to blaze yours over the bar. Stick to nets fella, far easier for you. Finally on all things Community Shield, who would have had money on Mark Clattenburg sounding like that? No wonder the players used to think he was a prat.
On the continuing theme of “preseason matches mean diddly squat” Tottenham Hotspur beat Juventus. That does not mean (a) Juventus are rubbish or (b) Tottenham are going to win the league. Sorry Spurs fans.
Unless you’ve avoided the world of football in the last week, and frankly who could blame you as it has been very average, you will know that Neymar Jr decided to step out of the shadow of Lionel Messi and go and show he can carry a team on his own by joining those perennial losers over in Paris. PSG sent their lawyers to Spain armed with £198m in five-pound notes (or possibly Euros, what with the pound being the way it is and all) and demanded that they be given the Brazilian in return. Now, we don’t really care about that when we are talking Premier League here. Except, of course, it will kick off the whole domino effect.
In the few short days since Neymar Jr sat there in public, keeping a straight face when reciting the lyrics to Jessie J’s number one hit “It’s Not About The Money”, every single footballer on the planet who can dribble the ball in and out of cones without hitting any of them has been linked to Barcelona. Eden Hazard, Philippe Coutinho, Dele Alli, Kylian Mbappe, Ousmane Dembele and even Neymar himself have been touted as possible signings. Some people in the know in Spain (definitely, 100% not me then) are saying that Coutinho will be leaving Liverpool this week, which would kinda prove that Liverpool are still a selling club, eh Jurgen?
Earlier last week Jose Mourinho labelled Nemanja Matic a genius. Now don’t get me wrong, Nemanja is a proven Premier League winner. He is still a decent central midfielder. But a genius? Now, now Jose. Unless of course he was talking about something entirely non-football related like knowing all the colours in the rainbow or something.
Having sold Matic to United, Chelsea are believed to be lining up Danny Drinkwater as his replacement. Yeah, I know right? It is little wonder Antonio Conte is still working on that escape tunnel from the Cobham training ground.
Pochettino has been bleating on about the need to sign someone as well, especially since Kieran Trippier got injured in the aforementioned match against Juve. Poch is about to get his wish as Daniel Levy will open his wallet, allow the moths to acclimatise and then pay Southampton £2m for Paulo Gazzaniga. What do you mean you’ve never heard of him? He’s their substitute goalkeeper for crying out loud! With Tripper injured, it looks like that Kyle Walker’s immediate replacement is likely to be Kyle Walker-Peters. That’s nearly as good as when Gary Stevens came on for Gary Stevens at right back for England that time. Almost, anyway.
Hugo Lloris, obviously feeling the pressure of the second best goalkeeper in Southampton joining, stated in public that Gianluigi Buffon was a hero of his when growing up. How on earth did that even make the press, even the tabloid press? Show me any goalkeeper younger than Buffon that would have looked at the Italian great and gone, “no mate, I can find no inspiration in your talent whatsoever. Now, Chris Kirkland on the other hand….”
Diego Costa has to go somewhere or people will start asking why Antonio Conte isn’t picking him, so a loan move to AC Milan sort of makes sense, mainly because AC Milan are signing quite a few decent players as their season gets nearer. It is also rumoured that Zlatan might be returning to the San Siro. You’d love to be the two centre-backs marking that strike force, hey? Not because of their talent, more for their slightly darker arts.
Pep Guardiola, who must be tearing his hair out realising that none of his Manchester City youngsters are anywhere near as good as the ones he was gifted at Barcelona, has decided to sell the one that had a decent goals-per-minute ratio to Leicester City. Kelechi Iheanacho will score quite a few for the Foxes this season, given half a chance.
If anyone really needs a reason to hope Mark Hughes gets sacked first this season, he is after Crystal Palace’s Andros Townsend. Not that that is a sackable offence in itself, oh no. Paying £20m for him is though. Get your coat Sparky and shut the door on the way out.