I’ll be honest, this international break hasn’t thrown up a massive amount of newsworthy action over the course of the weekend. Instead of squeezing blood from a stone, this week’s Wally of the Week shortlist comes from the future as I attempt to predict the events of the upcoming Premier League matchday.
3. Mark Noble
After calling for unity from West Ham fans in an open letter to the fanbase last week, the club captain let his emotions get the better of him in their home game with Southampton. The relegation six-pointer started off with unrest in the London Stadium stands and this tension, somehow given the distance, made its way to the players on the pitch and the Hammers found themselves two goals behind going into half-time.
Noble, who’d started the game from the bench, sparked fury on the touchline just seconds into the second-half when he seemed to blow bubbles in the face of Saints’ boss Mark Hughes. The Welsh manager, furious with Noble’s actions, confronted him and within seconds they squared up. Stuart Pearce, acting as the peacemaker initially, came between them to break them up but ended up screaming into Hughes’s face after the Welshman reminded him of his 1990 World Cup penalty miss. Technical staff from both sides participated in a mass brawl but it was blowing bubbles from Noble that instigated it. The match never restarted after Pearce grabbed the match ball and headed down the tunnel without returning.
Giving up a 3-goal lead against Crystal Palace is bad enough but doing it twice in the space of a few years, with the second one being to your former manager, has got to be hard to take. Goals from Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane and James Milner earned the Reds a 3-goal cushion before half-time before a second-half head injury to Lorus Karius forced Jurgen Klopp to bring on Simon Mignolet in goal. Like he had done four years ago, Damien Delaney pulled one back for the Eagles with a long-range strike before Dejan Lovren gave away a penalty as the game entered stoppage time.
Christian Benteke, having missed one earlier in the season after disobeying team orders, broke those orders yet again but this time he made no mistake and sent Mignolet the wrong way from the spot. That second from Palace set up a grandstand finish and Liverpool fans will have been having déjà vu after Dwight Gayle’s late double the last time Palace came from 3 goals behind at Selhurst Park. Well, this time it was a more unlikely hero. With seconds to go, Yohan Cabaye took an inswinging corner and there was Roy Hodgson himself to meet it at the back post after a commanding leap left him head and shoulders above the Liverpool defenders and he planted his header past Mignolet and it was 2014 all over again for the visitors.
1. Alan Pardew
With Burnley the visitors to the Hawthorns, it was last chance saloon for Alan Pardew and his car crash of a season with West Brom. An Ashley Barnes hat-trick saw the Clarets take a 3-0 lead before the 20-minute mark and the crowd started to turn completely on the hopeless manager and his disheveled team. Since taking charge in November, Pardew has won just one league game in charge (against Brighton in January) and has taken the Baggies from 17th to rock bottom so these early goals will have done no good to the West Brom morale.
After a decent spell in possession for Pardew’s side, Burnley managed to score a fourth in first-half stoppage time through Phil Bardsley’s effort from inside his own half. The team were serenaded with a chorus of boos at the half-time whistle and Alan Pardew never returned to the dugout for the second-half. Reports emerged afterwards that he’d been sacked during the break and made his way out of the stadium in a taxi driven by a man going by the name of Barry Gareth. Sean Dyche seemed to take pleasure in Pardew’s misfortune and performed his infamous dance move from the 2016 FA Cup Final on loop for the entire duration of the second half as Burnley left the Black Country with all three points.