And that’s that. The last international break of 2017 gave us several dour games, a few dire performances, and many dramatic developments. But nothing compares to the drama of the Premier League, which made a comeback over the weekend. A handful of matches on Saturday provided more in terms of entertainment than the past ten international games combined. Let’s recap the events of this past gameweek, shall we?
Arsenal: The fickle fans of this famous football club need not froth at the mouth in front of cameras this week. Their embarrassment at the hands of their local rivals was spared by Arsene Wenger finally realizing that round pegs do fit better in round holes, especially when one of those pegs is your record signing and the other two are probably the best you’ll see in an Arsenal shirt for the foreseeable future.
Paul Pogba: The missing ingredient that turned Mourinho’s standard fare of meat and potatoes into a restaurant quality dish. Or at least something more palatable than watching United aim a hundred crosses at Lukaku’s noggin.
Eden Hazard: Dear Premier League defenders/midfield henchmen, if your plan is to rake your studs down Hazard’s ankle so he “knows you’re there”, you’ll only make him angry. You won’t like him when he’s angry.
Mohamed Salah: This is the guy who once hit a shot so wildly off-target that it hit the corner flag. He is now the leading scorer in the Premier League. Just goes to show, even if you’re useless at your job right now, there might still be hope for you, after all. No, not you, Mr. Moyes.
Manchester City: Yawn.
Callum Wilson: A hat-trick after returning from a serious injury. Zlatan who?
Burnley: Liverpool – 22 points. Arsenal – 22 points. Burnley – 22 points. One of these is not like the others. Hint: It’s the club that still uses a crest designed in Microsoft Paint on Windows 3.1.
Watford: After the humiliation of losing to a sinking Everton ship that is struggling to stay afloat on the fumes of David Unsworth’s Britishness, Watford returned to winning ways by beating Moyes’ new boys.
West Bromwich Albion Fans: First the tiki-taka, now Pulisball. Nothing lasts forever. And the Baggies faithful will drink to that all night long.
Tottenham Hotspur: A young team that tends to fall short of its objectives, a manager who prioritises progress over prizes and a miserable record against top-four teams that betrays a lack of mental fortitude. Whisper it, but Spurs might be turning into the late-Wenger era Arsenal.
Southampton: They really should have bought a striker who knows where the goal is and can find his way to it. Or at least a coffee machine for Manolo Gabbiadini, who always looks as if someone woke him five minutes ago and sent him out on the pitch.
Tony Pulis: There’s no more magic dust left in that baseball cap; just defeats and dandruff.
Newcastle United: That’s three losses in a row. But all will be forgotten if Mike Ashley slings his hook and finally manages to sell the club. But thanks to their beef with Lady Luck, he might sell it to someone worse than himself, which would be some feat.
Swansea: As I look at the table, I see West Ham, Swansea and Crystal Palace making up the bottom three. And no song describes this state of affairs better than ‘Stuck in the Middle With You’ by Stealers Wheel:
Clowns to the left of me, jokers to the right,
Here I am, stuck in the middle with you.
Crystal Palace: Oh, they’re going down. Down into the Championship. The only question is, will West Ham get there first? Speaking of whom…
West Ham United: The Hammers have assembled a ‘Dream Team’ of David Moyes, Stuart Pearce and Alan Irvine to save them from the drop. That’s about it. No punchline required.
Fan Fury: For the supporters of West Brom and West Ham, every weekend has become an ordeal. Frustration boiled over at The Hawthorns, as the Pulisball exhibition became too painful to bear and soon, chants of “We Want Pulis Out” filled the stadium. It would take a brave owner – or an oblivious one – to ignore the fans on this one. Meanwhile, Hammers fans have had it up to here with their board, their new stadium, and their players. “Sack the board” is a terrace favourite. The appointment of David Moyes only served to add fuel to the fire that has been burning for a while now. Perhaps it’s time to lend an ear to the people who spend their time and money to watch this dross every week? It’s a revolutionary idea, but it just might work.