Just a quiet week in the Premier League, then. Nothing really to write about this week. Minimal drama both on or off the pitch. Just a very bog-standard seven days, all told.
Chelsea? Somethingâ€™s happened at Chelsea?Â
Well, it would be remiss of me to say â€˜I told you soâ€™ but I do recall passing comment in 2003 that Roman Abramovichâ€™s purchase of Chelsea would â€˜all end in lots of tearsâ€™. Nobody can say I was wrong – though I suspect the various Premier League titles, Champions League trophies, World Club Championships and world-class footballers gracing the Bridge over the last 20 years might soften the blow of me actually being right for once. Hey, I was right – I didnâ€™t say when it would end in tears and sometimes you have to be patient for these insightful predictions to come good.
I am no legal expert – the least surprising statement in this column today I am sure – but I suspect there might be some twoing and frowing between the government and Chelsea FC in the next few days whilst they come to some kind of working agreement that means the club doesnâ€™t completely implode in the next few weeks given that they are not allowed to make any money, borrow any money or accept any money from their benefactor – yet have to pay all the money they are committed to between now and a sale happening.
Players to take wage deferrals so that the club shop staff can be paid? Well, itâ€™s not as if Romelu Lukaku is actually earning his corn right now, is it? He still seems to be putting in as much effort as the club did to remove former sponsors Three from the front of their shirts.
On the pitch, Tommy T – who I cannot imagine expected adding â€˜pseudo-politicianâ€™ to his CV having left PSG – the game the Guardian were calling the â€œDespot Derbyâ€ (and letâ€™s not get into the blind eye turned by the UK government into the ownership of – at the very least – Man City and Newcastle) was a bit flat, the main first-half action being Kai Havertzâ€™s felling of man-giant Dan Burn with the most blatant elbow since Bangkok FC played a game (Google it, itâ€™s worth it).
Newcastle had every right to wonder whether officials were feeling sorry for Chelseaâ€™s week given that a blatant shirt pull and clip of the ankles in the area also went unpunished. And when I say blatant, I challenge you to find a more blatant example of tugging of the shirt when a player runs past you in the area. You will struggle.Â
It took a late, late reprieve for Chelsea to get the result they wanted – maybe not for the only time in March? Havertz, obviously given that he probably shouldnâ€™t have been on the pitch, with a moment of Bergkamp-esque class to score the only goal.
In football, there are plenty of players who make their team worse and make it difficult to play the way they are actually trying to play. However, there are not many like Cristiano Ronaldo – thatâ€™s for sure.Â
Without a doubt, heâ€™s a big part of the problem at Manchester United – an utterly pointless signing trying to fix a problem they did not have. A trap set by Man City who openly pretended they were interested in signing him from Juve, knowing United would fall for it and tie up even more cash on the 37-year-old. The dressing room role model who is leaving more holes in his wake than a Pogba/Fred/McTominay midfield.
Yet, the very same problem is also having the decency to be a bit of the solution – Ronaldo did very little against Tottenham other than score a hat-trick, and not just any old hat-trick to be fair. As Rangnick joked – at least, presumably it was a joke – they should let him go to Portugal every week and just train Thursdays if thatâ€™s what he is going to deliver.
And if Ronaldo is the problem, he doesnâ€™t half bail United out from time to time. Is he a bad person for thinking Harry Maguire is incredibly average? Should he be slated for being annoyed at being subbed when he sees the shower that he is playing with week in, week out? Is he wrong for not having complete 100% unwavering faith in Ralf given that heâ€™s played for Sir Alex, Carlo and Zidane? Possibly not.
CR807? Depending on who you believe, Ronaldo is now the record professional goalscorer of all time. The player the Glaziers thought was â€˜the Tom Brady of soccerâ€™ scoring the record-breaking goals in front of â€˜the Tom Brady of American Footballâ€™. Harry Kaneâ€™s mate, isnâ€™t he?
All in all, that was all a bit Tottenham, wasnâ€™t it?
In other news, water is wet and Leicester conceded from a corner. Arsenal are categorically better than United and their North London rivals right now and are very much the side to beat to the final Champions League spot (assuming the Premier League donâ€™t do anything crazy and dock Chelsea points for entering administration later this month – hey, it could it happen).
Alexandre Lacazette got his first goal since goodness knows when (donâ€™t forget the seven assists in between) as Brendan Rodgersâ€™ side did nothing to quell the rumours that they are really not very good without Jamie Vardy.
Liverpool refuse to give up on the title and Brighton must be quite chuffed they already have enough points to stay up as, on recent form, theyâ€™d be getting dragged in if they had another five games extra to play.
Luis Diaz looks like Liverpoolâ€™s new Mohamed Salah and their old Mohamed Salah also got on the scoresheet again – question is, will Liverpool up their offer to get him to sign that new deal he claims he would like to sign?Â
What else do West Ham have to do to convince people (me) they are a proper football team now? Stevie G has been getting rave reviews for the way he has rebuilt and unleashed Phil Coutinho yet the Moysiah saw him off easily enough at the Athletics Stadium – Yarmalenko doing his best Jarrod Bowen impression to score the first. Jacob Ramsey did his late push for the World Cup no harm at all with a late consolation for the Villa.
Leeds, hammered in midweek, absolutely had to beat Norwich to ease the very real relegation fears at Elland Road. They led, they hit the bar. Bamford missed a glorious chance – nice to see he is already back to his old form after injury – they hit the woodwork again. Then, of course, Norwich equalised (and could feel pretty annoyed to see a given penalty overturned after a quick squizz at the monitor). That would be it now, surely – in the post-Bielsa era? Take the point, lick the wounds. Just donâ€™t attack in case you lose. Not a bit of it – Leeds went down the other end and nicked a winner. The turning point?Â
That win moved Leeds two points clear of the drop zone, Watford closing the gap a bit with a surprising 2-1 away at Southampton. Those three points for Uncle Roy moved him level with his former England midfielder, Frank Lampard who led his Everton side to yet another defeat. Not his fault though, remember? All Rafa. All Rafa! And maybe a bit of the board. But, according to Everton fans, mainly Rafa. The Ev do have three games in hand but based on their current form, theyâ€™ll lose them all.
Brentford will be playing Premier League football again next season, which is very much the right place for Ivan Toneyâ€™s penalties to be scored. Thomas Frankâ€™s striker scored his fifth in two games – heading home Christian Eriksenâ€™s cross and then scoring from the spot, just like he always does.