Manchester City and Kevin De Bruyne, Marko Suler and Liverpool. Plus an incredible game at Stamford Bridge. The Commentator’s first crass look back at some of the recent highlights that will be the talk of the terraces this weekend.
Well, this is very exciting. A fresh and perhaps (for those of you with a particular distaste for profanity) daring review of some of the highlights that every football fan will be talking about this week. Here are my top picks from the last few days (Manchester City fans, this one’s for you. Arsenal fans, you might as well leave now):
Manchester City and Kevin De Bruyne
F***. Me. Someone buy that man a pint. Not cheap English shite either, let’s all chip in and get a quality crate of assorted Belgian ales for him to choose from. They do have a fine selection of beers over there. In fact, I imagine he was mentally mulling over his long list of favourite suds – as well as filing his tax returns, picking the kids up from school and getting dinner on – as he stared one way and slipped the ball through to Leroy Sane the other to set up City’s second of seven goals against Stoke at the Etihad on Saturday.
There’s a reason Pep Guardiola called ‘R Kev “the best player in Europe right now – bar one” in an interview before City’s frankly-pathetic-by-recent-standards 2-1 turning over of Napoli in the Champions League on Tuesday night. (Interestingly, if you haven’t already seen De Bruyne’s married-couple-esque spat with David Silva at halftime in that game and the internet’s subsequent take on it, it’s well worth a Google). Admittedly, Pep might be slightly biased in his choice of top two, but it would take a brave man to argue against De Bruyne’s tantalizing form at the minute.
The fact that, after last weekend, City have now scored 24 goals in their last five Premier League matches speaks for itself. And as many of the chasing pack in the form of Chelsea, Manchester United and Arsenal (haha, only joking) all dropped points last weekend, you can be sure that that one bloke in your football friendship group will be sticking on a “guaranteed” 2/5 bet on City to lift the trophy come May. It’s early days yet, but let’s hope the sexy football will continue for weeks to come…
Sexy Football vs “Muntering it top bins”
Goals. That’s why we all love football really, isn’t it? That’s why we all sod off to bed when we know the nil-nillers are coming on Match of the Day. We want goals. And the sexier the better, right?
Well, not necessarily.
Now, a few people may not be familiar with the phrase “muntering it top bins”. Or “sexy football”, for that matter. But I think we all know what I mean. “Sexy football” can be perfectly demonstrated by the football of Pep’s current City side or the Arsenal-of-old, whereas a defending team you aren’t quite sure when or how it happened, but suddenly after chasing the ball for 5 minutes the opposition is four-on-one with your goalkeeper and the eventual goalscorer just has to walk it in. Think of City’s second goal on Saturday that I referenced earlier. Now that’s a great type of goal to watch.
By contrast, personally, I am a huge fan of seeing a ball getting absolutely muntered into the top bins. I like to think that word was derived from Ghanaian midfielder Sulley Muntari, who is not impartial to a screamer or two of his own. Think of Nemanja Matic’s piledriver in the semi-final of the FA Cup earlier this year, or of Cristiano Ronaldo’s wonder strike against Porto in the Champions League in 2009. There are many other brilliant examples – again, have a Google (excellent for procrastination).
We’re all familiar with that feeling of truly connecting with a ball – I’m talking on a deep, emotional and spiritual level – where you don’t even feel it come off your foot. Whether it’s at the park, in the schoolyard, or on a frosty Sunday morning somewhere, we’ve all had it at least once. One second you’re lining it up, the next it’s in the top corner (or “bins”). And you know if the goal hadn’t have been there, it could have easily circumnavigated the globe two or three times. Amazing to partake in, equally amazing to watch.
Well, the Premier League treated us to a couple of those last weekend as well. I don’t particularly like to keep blowing smoke up City arses, but not giving a mention to Fernandinho’s absolute belter of a goal on Saturday in a discussion about “muntering it top bins” would be criminal. Yes, it seems that sexy City football is not just a one-trick pony. Just as we were tiring of seeing defences seamlessly carved open with slick, fancy passing play, Fernandinho steps up and pings one in off the bar from 30 yards out. Sexy.
It would be just as wrong at this point not to give a nod to West Brom and Nacer Chadli, who provided his team’s only shot on target with a free kick against Leicester on Monday night. As it turned out, he properly muntered it into the top bins, leaving Kasper Schmeichel rooted to the spot and watching in awe as it flew past him in a 1-1 draw at the King Power. When it comes to sexy football vs muntering it top bins, everyone is free to make their own mind up, but I guarantee these goals will be the talk of the terraces this weekend.
Maribor 0 – 7 Liverpool
Now, I have no particular affinity with either Manchester City (believe it or not) or Liverpool. I do think, however, that Liverpool’s – in fact, any English team’s – biggest ever away win in the European Cup was well worth a mention, and I’m certain it will be well discussed this weekend. Admittedly, it was aided by a brilliantly appalling performance from Maribor centre-back Marko Suler, who throughout the game seemed to forget not only what colour his team was playing in (for the record, Marko, it wasn’t the eye-watering fluorescent orange of Liverpool), but also how to use his legs.
Despite that, I don’t want to take anything away from a brilliant Liverpool performance which saw goals from Roberto Firmino, Mohamed Salah, Philippe Coutinho, Trent Alexander-Arnold (whose long-range shot deflected in off – oh yes that’s right, Marko Suler) and a first Liverpool goal for Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain.
Many people are also praising Liverpool’s back-to-back clean sheets secured by this match following the atrocious footballing spectacle that was the 0-0 draw against Manchester United at Anfield on Saturday. I wouldn’t be too quick to praise, however. I mean, all they had to do on Saturday was defend against a coach full of Manchester United players parked along the goal line. And I’m not sure just how much you can applaud a clean-sheet against a side who currently sit second in the Back-Arse-End-Of-Nowhere League.
In fact, all those goals perhaps glossed over the one real exposure of Liverpool’s well documented defensive frailties in Slovenia on Tuesday night. With a free kick late in the first half, at 4-0 down, my man of the moment Marko Suler hinted towards some unlikely attacking prowess as he ghosted round to the far post to win a free header on the six-yard line, only to swiftly and conclusively dispel such theories by putting the ball 6 yards wide.
Despite that minor lapse, Liverpool truly outclassed their opponents. As the old saying goes, you can only play the side in front of you. The real test will come on Sunday afternoon, when Liverpool go away to Tottenham in the Premier League to see if they can resurrect Spurs’ Wembley curse. In any case, Liverpool will definitely be a sure-fire topic of terrace talk this weekend.
Chelsea 3 – 3 Roma
Well, shit. What a game.
They have an age-old saying in Rome: No Totti, no party. The travelling Roma fans clearly had no trouble partying without their talismanic hero tonight though, after their team secured a 3-3 draw against the English champions.
David Luiz got the proceedings underway with a sumptuous curled effort from outside the box, before Eden Hazard made it 2-0 in the 37th minute after a deflected Morata shot found its way to him in the six-yard box. Kolarov did a Kolarov just three minutes later, weaving his way into the box from the wing and absolutely thumping it into the roof of the Chelsea net.
It took a while to get going after halftime, but that’s when things got interesting. Bloody Robin van Dzeko pulled off his very own Flying Dutchman left-footed volley straight off the back of a Federico Fazio deep, floated through ball, crashing it in past Thibaut Courtois. I won’t lie: my head fell off when that goal went in. What a f***ing strike. I always thought Edin Dzeko was kind of blagging his way through hopping from top European team to top European team, but it turns out I am wrong. And he proved me further wrong with a slightly more Dzeko-esque glancing header off a whipped Kolarov free-kick to send his team into a 70th-minute lead.
Hazard equalised five minutes later with another header. Dzeko almost, ALMOST won it as he climbed high but put his header wide late in the game. But clearly the big Bosnian’s still got it. Definitely a big talking point for the terraces this weekend.
Watford 2 – 1 Arsenal
(Sorry Arsenal fans, I did warn you).