Sunday’s game between Tottenham and Chelsea provided the first heavyweight clash of the new Premier League season. It also provided further frustration for a man with hair seemingly modelled on a cross between the Iron Throne and a half-eaten packet of Wotsits.
You could forgive Michy Batshuayi for thinking that Antonio Conte was going to build a title-winning side around the Belgian striker. After all, he was the Italian’s first signing as Chelsea manager, albeit during a bizarre European Championships in which Nolito convinced Pep Guardiola he was good enough to play for City, while Moussa Sissoko convinced himself he was good enough to play for Real Madrid.
Batshuayi’s cameo appearance at Wembley was indicative of his form in competitive games for Chelsea, as well as his bad luck since arriving at Stamford Bridge. He started just 1 game in last season’s Premier League, and scored 3 of his 5 goals after Chelsea had already won the title. Cue the dreaded phrase, ‘small-game player’. Hoping to put his dismal mediocrity of last season to one side, Burnley at home must have seemed like the perfect opportunity for Batshuayi to make his impact. Alas, 59 minutes in and no impact to be found, the Belgian found himself back on his trusty bench watching new £60m Morata improve his impressive goal-to-minute ratio.
Fast-forward a week to a Sunday afternoon at Wembley; you can imagine Conte on the touchline with a comforting hand on Michy’s shoulder, as the 4th official holds up the numbers ‘9’ and ‘23’. A quick final word before the substitution – probably a simple “just see the game out for us, nothing stupid Michy”. Perhaps next time Conte might find himself handing out more specific instructions. “Remember: we’re the blue team, we score in that goal over there”. It was a fine finish from Batshuayi – plenty of power, low into the net, Courtois with no chance – a real striker’s finish, and if he’d been playing in the first half that goal would have counted for the Chelsea.
While Michy Batshuayi hasn’t been causing defences many problems, he has at least been infuriating fans across the country attempting online football quizzes. There has been a surge in popularity of these quizzes, usually in a format where a quizzer is given a certain amount of time to list (for example), the ‘Players under the age of 23 that have scored at least 10 Premier League goals’. Most importantly, however, in order to be acknowledged these players must be spelt correctly; I made at least 3 friends in college because I was the only person who knew how to spell ‘Solskjaer’ off by heart.
Quizzers tackling modern Premier League questions are no stranger to an “are you sure there isn’t a ‘y’ in Batshuayi somewhere?” alongside, “is it a double ‘g’ or a double ‘s’ in Sigurdsson?” and “I think I’d remember if there was an ‘h’ in Iheanacho”. It’s safe to say if Batshuayi carries on in his current form, he can wave goodbye to the possibility of terrorising quizzers on ‘Premier League golden boot winners’ and introduce himself to those attempting ‘Least successful Premier League Belgians’.