What a week of football we have been treated to, eh? And today, as ever, it is my job to bring you the seven finest moments, teams or individuals so we can all point and laugh.
Here we go!
#1 West Ham United
Could there have been a better example of West Hamness than the performance at St Mary’s this weekend? Exhibit A – going 2-0 down to a team that hadn’t scored at home since Jose Mourinho was a language student in Portugal. Exhibit B – your £25m new signing not fancying putting a full days work by getting sent off for the most blatant of elbows. Exhibit C – getting back to 2-2 and regaining some dignity. Exhibit D – losing all that dignity by conceding an injury time penalty and losing 3-2. Oh, and a bonus Exhibit E – Joe Hart, England’s number one ha, letting in seven goals in two games since returning to the Premier League.
Well, if I call out West Ham then I have to be fair and call out Arsenal as well. Stoke City used to be a tough place to go for the Gunners, when Tony Pulis had a team of giants that would kick anything that moved. In this Mark Hughes of eras, Stoke have a softer centre than, well, Arsenal really. They are no longer Stoke-a-lona as Barca themselves are in crisis, they are if anything Stokenal in their attempt to play perfect football with small, technical type players and Ryan Shawcross. Yet, this Stoke side incapable of even scoring in preseason managed to see off this Arsenal side “more capable of winning the Premier League than any of the recent squads” 1-0 with a goal from a kid who had just stepped out of the EuroTunnel to see he was in Stoke-upon-Trent and not Paris.
#3 Paul Clement
I have a feeling Paul Clement might be at his best as a manager when he doesn’t get a summer to recruit and work with his new charges. He did this at Derby and failed. He went to Swansea City mid-season and did very well. He has preseason with Swansea and they have failed to score in their opening two games and they look woefully short of the quality needed to stay up, albeit it at this very early stage. And selling Gylfi Sigurdsson is only a good thing to do if you use the money to buy three very, very good players. Time is running out already for Clement.
#4 Michy Batshuayi
So desperate to get a chance to prove he can score goals for Antonio Conte, Michy took to heading into his own net to show that no matter what the situation he is clinical in the penalty area. Hell, he looks more at home at Wembley than Alvaro Morata or, er, Tottenham.
#5 Tottenham Hotspur and Wembley
We all know there is absolutely no real logical reason for Tottenham to struggle to win a game at Wembley, but the fact is logic matters not half the time in football. There is no doubting Tottenham are a very good side. There is no doubting that Harry Kane and Dele Alli will wreak havoc a lot of the time this season. But each 90 minutes that passes without a competitive win of meaning at the famous old/new home of football will increase the size of the monkey on their back tenfold. And that will be rather funny to watch.
#6 Jack Wilshere
Poor old Jack. Normally he misses games because (a) he is injured or (b) he hasn’t been picked because he isn’t very good anymore. Now he will miss three games for getting sent off in an Arsenal U23 match. Arsene Wenger still says Jack has a future at Arsenal, but then Arsene thinks he still has a long term future at Arsenal.
#7 Nicolai Muller of Hamburg
Allow me to be grumpier than usual. One of the things about the “modern game” I hate most is seeing players worth millions of pounds to their club, insured in a way that means they cannot ride a bike, go skiing or do anything even a little bit dangerous celebrating goals by doing that bloody stupid knee slide thing. Guys, knees are important when you are a footballer and if the pitch is dry, you don’t slide too well. Ole Gunnar Solsjkaer has openly said that he did his knee celebrating scoring that goal for Manchester United in 1999. Now Hamburg’s Nicolai Muller has ruptured his ACL scoring for his team Hamburg. Huge knee slide on a bone dry pitch? Oh no, not for Nicolai. He was doing some kind of silly rotating helicopter type rubbish and collapsed quicker than Dominic Calvert-Lewin.