“When you start listening to Joey Barton, it is time for us all to go home,” said the beleaguered Everton caretaker/undertaker David Unsworth, after watching his charges fail to turn up once more. Perhaps Unsworth too should have stayed at home, instead of answering the call when Everton rung him up and mentioned something about a temporary promotion. But what else transpired this week in the Premier League? Let’s take a gander.
Manchester: Just when you thought the top two might drop some points to make things interesting, Lady Luck decides to hand them a shovel to help dig themselves out of a hole. The thing about luck is, the moment you start needing it, you realize it will run out sooner rather than later. Ooh, I wrote something profound!
Arsenal: Wenger hears your “Power Shift” narrative and laughs in your face. Ha ha! Bear with him for a moment while he tries to zip up his coat and walk away.
Southampton: All they needed was a collection of players more incompetent than all their strikers put together. In the battle of crap vs crappier, the crap always rises to the top, which allowed Southampton’s usually useless strikers to have a field day against “Ever Spent a Ton of Money and Made Things Worse?” Football Club.
Watford and Marco Silva: While Everton are stuck in purgatory with no heaven in sight, the apple of their eye continues to defy expectations at little old Watford. Marco Silva might get a lot more love from some people if he were named Mark Sullivan and born in London instead of Lisbon, but in the meantime, he continues to show the Premier League what a youngish non-British manager is capable of.
Crystal Palace: Still dead last in the table, but at least they’re picking up points now. It’ll be fun to see Roy Hodgson scratch his own face off in a rage when they get relegated by a single point in May.
West Bromwich Albion: The new manager bounce? Most of us remember Gary Megson from his days at Bolton, so to see him in the dugout is like reliving the days of yore. West Brom fans won’t care, though. They’ve got rid of the baseball cap, then held off the pressure from Spurs to snatch a valuable away point.
Willian: Of course, he meant it. Wink wink.
Mohamed Salah: It’s like watching the Road Runner meep-meeping all over the pitch while defenders run into goalposts and into each other, trying to catch a hold of him.
Charlie Austin: Remember him? Austin powered home two goals upon returning from injury. Considering the fact (may not actually be a fact) that the last time he played was when Everton were still managed by Moyes, he showed little signs of rust. Or, at least less rust than an Everton ship that’s stranded in the middle of the sea and sinking fast.
Ruben Loftus-Cheek: Palace fans once held up a bedsheet banner which read “Roman’s dirty money is a disease that has plagued our game”. I wonder how they feel now, seeing as their best player is on loan from Roman’s plaything propped up by his “dirty money”. Still, that was three years ago and it’s not as if a Russian oligarch would hold a grudge for so long, is it? But don’t be surprised if Chelsea take up their option to recall RLC in January.
Raheem Sterling: The only Sterling still on the up despite the bungling and bumbling of those around him.
Burnley: It must really burn them up to lose to the same opponent, in the same controversial fashion, after regulation time, for three straight matches. It’s like slipping on a banana peel just as you’re about to cross the finish line and then having the same tape played at every family reunion, every sodding year.
Newcastle United: Four straight losses in a row must be making Mike Ashley uneasy, as it may prompt potential buyers to question the valuation he’s put on the club. Benitez can rest easy, though, as long as the lightning rod is still in place.
Tottenham Hotspur: Not so hot this weekend, as all that pressure only produced a solitary point and allowed a reverse power shift to take place. Or something. You never know what the latest with those two North London clubs is.
Everton: Rudderless, manager-less, feckless, useless. The more money they spent, the less they received in exchange for it. This is what you get when you try to build a car by yourself and end up buying two steering wheels, half a seat, five gear sticks, three tyres and a dash ornament that serves no purpose other than reminding you of the good old days when you actually knew what you were doing.
Paul Clement: Well, at least they didn’t concede a goal. Clemency for Clement, anyone? Anyone? No? Off you go then, Paul.
Simon Mignolet: Another one for the Christmas DVD special.
Lewis Dunk: Scored an unfortunate own goal, which turned out to be the only goal of the game, which in turn allowed Mourinho to crib about his own team being too attack-minded. Rest in peace, irony.
Rajiv Van La Parra: Silly boy, you don’t get yourself sent off after a game. That is all kinds of stupid. He deserves more than the standard three-match ban, simply because it was so insanely stupid. The game is over, it’s done. What the flipping hell are you fighting about now? Go home, grab a beer, take a nap. Which is probably what he’ll be doing for a few weeks once the FA is through with him.