Stalemate at Palace
At least we didn’t lose this week! An away game against Crystal Palace allowed for some optimism from Toon fans, who thought we may be able to get a very important win in a relegation six-pointer against fellow bottom half of the table inhabitants Crystal Palace. It started pretty well, with Mohammed Diame, who has had a renaissance in form lately, giving us the lead early on. It all went downhill from there.
Rafa finally decided to drop Joselu after his penalty miss against Burnley last week, in yet another drawn game, which made our play slightly more positive than it had been previously this season, and we scared Palace for a while, forcing Hennessey in their goal to make a few good saves. Palace soon took control though and somehow didn’t level the game after Christian Benteke somehow managed to miss an open net with a contender for miss of the season. A very contentious penalty decision allowed them to get on terms, with Ciaran Clark being penalised for shirt pulling. While he did pull the shirt, if a penalty was given every time that happened there would be 10 per game. A frustrating point that, while better than nothing, doesn’t help us a great deal in our battle for survival.
Pep has no players
Pep Guardiola made the bizarre decision to only name six substitutes for Man City’s game against Burnley, pedalling the excuse that he hasn’t got enough players. This is the manager that has spent close to half a billion pounds in transfer fees over the past few years! Yes, his players have been tackled hard this season, but that is true for every team, not just City. Every team plays the same amount of games in the league, and while they also have the Champions League and cup competitions to deal with, you don’t hear other managers of the top six teams complaining as much as him, and they have spent a lot less.
As many pundits pointed out at the weekend, he could have named a youth team player on the bench as a reward for being committed to training or having a good season. But no, he would rather make a statement and try and be the centre of attention again. I’d love Newcastle to be in the same position as his side are at the minute, he should be thankful and not moaning about the lack of winter break, the physicality of the league etc.
Conte on the way out
It can only be a matter of time now before Antonio Conte is shown the door at Chelsea. Defeat at home to Bournemouth was followed by a 4-1 spanking away to Watford, increasing the speculation surrounding his future. He doesn’t appear to be happy there himself, with his regular complaints against the board about transfer activity and how they haven’t publicly backed him. His war of words with Jose Mourinho didn’t affect his public image too greatly either. I don’t see him lasting into next season, but I do hope he sticks around until the game against Man United at Old Trafford, the touchline antics could be as entertaining as the on-field play in that one.