Here we go: volume two. Those that have stuck by me through thick and thin since my very first piece – a week ago – will know that the language might be a little blue at times. So suit up, sit down and strap in for my top topics of the week that may well be the talking points of the terraces this weekend.
A Nightmare in West Yorkshire
Okay, it may be a few days early but you’ll just have to forgive the Halloween theme.
David ‘Freddy Krueger’ Wagner managed to channel the powers of the notorious Halloween villain and convert Jose Mourinho’s spooky dreams on Friday night into a nightmarish reality on Saturday afternoon. Huddersfield Town came out on top as 2-1 winners over Manchester United for the first time in over 60 years.
United were undone by a couple of hair-raising defensive errors that started when Huddersfield’s in-house witchdoctor twanged the left leg of his Phil Jones voodoo doll and sent real-life Jones limping off in the 23rd minute after a challenge with Aaron Mooy.
It was only 28 days – oh sorry 5 minutes – later when Huddersfield capitalised as Mooy was gifted the ball by Juan Mata and sliced through the zombified United defence with a through ball to Tom Ince. He turned inside and out before seeing his shot saved by David De Gea, with Mooy striking home the rebound.
Swedish-defender-come-mad-professor Victor Lindelof was Jones’s replacement, and it was his error that led to Huddersfield’s second. He was left paralysed by the mystical powers of a simple goal kick that bounced over his head and into the path of Laurent Depoitre, whose Hannibal-esque, stony-eyed calmness allowed him to round De Gea and roll the ball in for Huddersfield’s second.
The lifeless United were somewhat reborn in the second half, and a smart Mourinho double substitution, bringing on Marcus Rashford and ‘Hellraiser’ Henrikh Mkhitaryan, brought about an exciting ending as the former headed in from Romelu Lukaku’s cross in the 78th minute.
The United horde hemmed in Huddersfield in the dying minutes but could not muster a final product and the Terriers of the Baskervilles held on for a historic win. A deadpan Mourinho said after the game: “We would’ve gotten away with it too, if it wasn’t for you meddling Yorkshiremen.” (He didn’t).
Aaron Mooy was an obvious selection for man of the match with his goal and influence in just about every positive piece of Terriers attacking play. However, it was the return from injury of American Werewolf in Huddersfield Danny Williams that allowed Mooy to run the game from the advanced No. 10 role instead of his normal position sitting deeper in midfield. His tireless “dirty work” approach to the game in the middle of the park makes Williams my undercard man of the match.
Did you spot all the Halloween movie references? Mwahahaa.
Super (Hungover) Sunday
Anyway, swiftly moving away from the Halloween theme…
Hangovers. Hangovers are the worst, right? Even if you’ve seen off a gallon or two of water, a couple of pre-emptive paracetamols and a splash of cold water to the face the night before, it makes very little difference. You wake up confused about who you are, where you are, and why your head feels like it’s pinned under a table leg. But you know what? As long as you’ve cleared (and I mean CLEARED) your diary for the next day, there is actually one thing that makes a hangover day bearable…
Sunday football. And there was no more tangible proof of this theory than on Sunday, when Arsenal played away at Everton and Liverpool travelled to Wembley to face Tottenham. I woke up on a sofa in a friend’s living room on Sunday after 4 hours of sleep on the back of a rather heavy night out the night before. Judge me if you will, but don’t tell me I don’t properly research what I write.
I felt absolutely horrific. The small amount of sunlight seeping in through the blinds felt to me like Kim Jong-un had finally released his apocalyptic tirade on the world and it was contained solely within that room. I can’t imagine it was a pretty sight. I looked like shit.
But do you know what I slowly realised as I glugged down as much water as was necessary to suppress the impending urge to vomit? Arsenal are playing Everton at half 1… And then Tottenham have got Liverpool at 4! Brilliant!
They didn’t let me down.
1 television, 2 games, twelve goals. And a massive grungy pizza. I challenge anyone to tell me that isn’t heavenly.
Don’t get me wrong, by the end of the day my hangover was still in full force and I felt like the world was ending. But for over 5 hours I had forgotten all about it, all thanks to the miracle of Sunday football.
The Leag… The Carl… The Carabao Cup
Genuine question: does anyone give a shit about this competition? Whatever it’s bloody called. The f*ck is a Carabao anyway? Let me have a Google a second… Oh yeah, sorry guys, my bad. It’s a Thai energy drink. Thailand’s second most popular energy drink in fact!
What a load of bollocks.
Last season, the competition was called The EFL Cup (i.e. the ‘League Cup’) for the first time since it was first devised to have sponsorship title names over 35 years ago. Personally, I felt like I had a lot more affinity with it when it was called the Carling Cup, because that’s what it was when I was growing up. But in the past it’s been the Coca-Cola Cup, the Littlewoods Challenge Cup and – my personal favourite – the Milk Cup.
I think it just dirties it a bit. Who wants to win a competition named after some random company? “Oh, congratulations lads. Have a Thai energy drink.” No thanks.
It’s not just that though. One of the best things about cup competitions is the fabled giant killing. The problem is, we’ve got the FA Cup for that. I mean yes it was impressive when Grimsby went and beat Liverpool at Anfield in 2001, and then beat Tottenham in 2005. But… meh. Often the players the so-called ‘bigger’ teams field are ones that would struggle to get a place in the first 11 of the lower side. And you know why? Because no one really gives a f*ck about the sodding Carabao Cup.
In spite of my perhaps exaggerated complaints, what a lot of people may well be talking about this weekend is Bristol City’s demolition of Crystal Palace 4-1 at Ashton Gate on Tuesday night. An undeniably impressive result. But Bristol City are a very strong team in the Championship this year, a pretty solid tip for play-off positions. And it was a Palace B team. A Palace B team. What did they expect?
But you know what? A bloody good game of football is a bloody good game of football, whether it’s in the Premier League or the Aviva Tesco Eddie Stobart That’s Why Mum’s Go to Iceland .com Ben and Jerry’s Cup.
Isn’t that right, West Ham fans?
Before Wednesday night, Spurs were unbeaten in 11 games in all competitions and in scintillating form. Step forward West Ham and champion cosh-withstander, Slaven Bilic.
I’m surprised Bilic wasn’t handed his P45 at half time to be honest. Tottenham were 2-0 up after a fairly uneventful first half with West Ham bringing very little to the table. But the weightiest of kicks up the arse must have been served up by Bilic in the dressing room because his side came out roaring second half, immediately causing problems for the Spurs defence. 2 goals in 5 minutes for Hammers forward Andre Ayew brought the game right back into contention, before Manuel Lanzini whipped in a corner that Angelo Ogbonna nodded inside the far post in the 70th minute to win the game 3-2.
You know what, yes. It was a half-arsed Tottenham lineup. But West Ham had also made wholesale changes, with only Lanzini and Cheikhou Kouyate retaining their places. It was a brilliant comeback, and a brilliant game to watch. Bravo West Ham, and bravo Bilic.