Damn those silly robotic footballers, only in it for the money don’t forget, for showing emotion at scoring a winning goal in 97th minute of a match. We don’t want to see them caring, do we? We don’t want to see them connecting with their fans that have been through thick and thin over the last however many decades. Hell, we don’t want an English player to be a matchwinner in the Premier League, do we? Actually, yeah. I think we do. Judging by the public outcry from 99.9% of people having seen Raheem Sterling get a second yellow card for running to the crowd at the Vitality Stadium having scored the winner against Bournemouth, I get the feeling that 99.9% of the public would like to see more of that please. Clearly there is a difference between goading the opposition fans having just scored and celebrating with your own, so maybe it is time to let the referee use a bit of common sense and remove the need for a mandatory yellow card for celebrating a goal in that way or, even though I’d prefer to see less of Cristiano Ronaldo’s stupidly toned torso, taking your shirt off. It’s funny how quickly that steward withdrew his claim of Sergio Aguero “assaulting” him though, right? If you think referees are people who were too rubbish to play the game, surely stewards are next on the list (yes I know, just above writers who make fun of them).
Anyway, Charlie Daniels did score a screamer to give Bournemouth hope but once again Manchester City found a way to win a game that looked like it was getting away from them and heading towards a draw. Pep will be happy to be sliding beneath the United shaped radar right now as he tries to work out exactly what is going to be his winning formula.
City kicked off Saturday and Manchester United ended it, and Jose Mourinho already has his winning formula sussed. Last weekend Marouane Fellaini came on with the score 1-0 to United against Swansea. By the time Fellaini was done, United had won 4-0. Sure, others put the ball in the net but Fellaini was on the field, OK? At Old Trafford Fellaini came on with the score 1-0 to United against Leicester City, and the final score was 2-0 with the big Belgian even getting the second goal. It’s easy once you realise that 32 minutes of Fellaini each weekend is the exact amount needed for success. Also, spare a thought for all the Fantasy Football players convinced last weekend that Romelu Lukaku is in fact the real deal and transferred him in. Lukaku missed a penalty, or rather Kasper Schmeichel made a very good save, leaving him more pointless than his time at Chelsea.
That noise you can hear is Big Sam Allardyce chewing with a big smile on his face. The former Palace and England manager has taken great joy in warning Frank de Boer about the perils of trying to play “total voetbal” in Croydon, suggesting that if the Dutchman wants to be in a job come Christmas that he might want to consider “getting it up ‘em” a little bit more. De Boer was never likely to listen to what was, annoyingly, rather sound advice and Crystal Palace fell at home once more, this time to Swansea. The race is now very much on, but it is not a relegation race.
No, the race I am referring to is the race between Frank and West Ham’s Slaven Bilic, and the race is which one is likely to be vacating their office first. West Ham travelled up to Newcastle United needing to put in a performance slightly less hapless than a 4-0 defeat at Old Trafford and a comical 3-2 loss at Southampton. Newcastle, having their own little drama, must have been very much highlighted on the list of “must win matches” in the West Ham changing room, so to come away having lost 3-0 probably makes Slaven Bilic feel a little unsafe in his employment.
Incredibly, at the other end of the table we still have Huddersfield who will have been disappointed to only draw 0-0 with Southampton, the single point meaning that they have now dropped behind Manchester United in the title race. Still, they are unbeaten which is pretty cool when you compare them to relegation certainties, Brighton. They headed to inform Watford who were reduced to ten men pretty early, but even then Brighton failed to score. But, every cloud and all that. The point gained from the awful 0-0 draw was Brighton’s first ever Premier League point, and hopefully they will score their first ever Premier League goal at some point in September. Nobody wants to see that nice man Chris Hughton out of work, especially with Alan Pardew very much in the public eye on Sky right now. That’s how the modern manager puts himself in the frame for a new managerial gig by the way.
West Bromwich Albion will be feeling as frustrated as Huddersfield Town this morning. 1-1 against Stoke City might be better than Arsenal can manage, but it is not the kind of result you want when you are looking to remain top of the league. WBA even led 1-0, so nobody really expected Crouchy to get an equaliser. Hey, remember when we all thought Mark Hughes might be the first manager to get the boot? Crazy times.
Champions Chelsea seem to have averted that crisis, haven’t they? It was all rather business like and without drama as they saw off Everton 2-0 at the Bridge. Wayne Rooney failed to follow up his international retirement with a goal to rub it into Gareth Southgate, but then Chelsea learned their lesson from an equally oversized Sam Vokes unmarked in the box on the opening day. In my Saturday morning column I did suggest that Alvaro Morata would score as he wasn’t playing at Wembley and I was right. It happens occasionally.
The weekend ended just like many footballing weekends do, with Arsenal delivering the kind of performance that makes you wonder whether the players have ever met before. At what point does Arsene Wenger go, “you know what, this isn’t fun anymore” because no old man should be in for that kind of punishment every week. The Leicester win papered over 1000 cracks, the Stoke City started to strip the paper the paper back and the first half at Anfield exposed the fact there is a lot of dry rot in the Arsenal walls. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Alexis Sanchez both put in performances that suggested they might be expected for medicals elsewhere by the end of the week. Can you really blame Sanchez for openly wanting out? I mean, even if you are 2-0 surely you keep one man back at a corner, just in case that incredibly fast forward line gets the ball and runs like the wind? Come the end of the weekend you’d have put a lot of money on it being West Ham that are the most laughable club in London, but you’d have probably lost it. Mind you, it would have been easier for Arsenal if Mesut Ozil hadn’t been left at the team hotel before kick off. Sorry, you what? He played? Are you sure? Arsenal and Wenger have become a marriage of convenience. They know they don’t love each other anymore, they know the glory years are well behind them but neither can face up to the possibility of life without the other. And to be honest, the kids aren’t helping either. If Manchester City are going to make one last move for Sanchez, I’d suggest round about now might be the perfect moment. Maybe he was smirking at the fact that he might not have to put up with this much longer.
Having said all that, just when it looked like nothing could go Arsenal’s way at all, Burnley scored a last minute equaliser against Tottenham! At Wembley! Welcome to the Premier League Chris Wood, pleased to have you here. That monkey on Tottenham’s back is fast becoming the size of a very overweight gorilla.