Readers, as you can imagine, I tried to get today’s column called off due to so many matches being unavailable but the FA said no. All I am asking for is some clarity on the rules. The credibility of this column is in severe doubt if some games are played and some are not. It possibly gives other columns an unfair advantage if they have columns in hand.
But, here we are – we have to go ahead and we will do the best with what we’ve got. We’ll probably end up as bedraggled and battered as Leeds, but so be it.
Let’s cast our minds all the way back to earlier in the week – there were some matches played so we should probably pass comment just to fill in some gaps.
Jacob Ramsey has been inspired by Stevie G’s arrival at Villa Park and I’m not personally convinced Gerrard could have hit one as sweet on his weaker side as the young midfielder managed against Norwich. Dean Smith must have watched some of the Villa performances wondering why he’d not seen much of that a few weeks ago – Ollie Watkins nabbed the second from a Ramsey cross.
At the Etihad, Leeds probably arrived with a plan but we can probably assume they didn’t execute it. Bielsa’s side are currently ravaged by injury, but they are also incapable of the basics of defending right now. Of course, City will smash some sides once in a while but this was different – given the regard that Peppy G holds his former mentor, this was a moment that puts a question mark over the crouched figure of Marcelo.
Southampton were missing so many players that even Shane Long got a game against Palace. Looking at the, er, form of the Saints’ frontman, it’s safe to say he wasn’t expecting the call.
Brighton, every armchair analysts’ guilty pleasure at the start of the season, have started their descent to the bottom half of the Premier League earlier than usual. Wolves took the 1-0 win, consolidating their position as a massively inconsistent mid-table side.
It’s almost as if West Ham have suddenly looked at the table and thought “hey, we must be quite good” and from that moment have stopped doing what got them there in the first place. 600 games into David Moyes’ Premier League career and Arsenal beat him 2-0. Gabby Martinelli, who we will hear from again in a bit of a spoiler alert, was at it again but the Hammers going down to 10 men hampered their hopes of keeping the Gunners out of 4th place.
Newcastle’s plan for survival was unlikely to include getting three points from Anfield, but Eddie Howe had some right to feel a little aggrieved given how events unfolded against Liverpool. The Magpies led and there was one or two raised eyebrows at Jota’s equaliser, given Issac Hayden was flat out on the deck with a head injury. Howe didn’t do himself any favours saying the player was dazed for the next five minutes – another thumbs up to the concussion protocols there – but there’s no real way that goal should have counted. Would King Klopp’s side gone on and won anyway? Well, yeah – probably.
Chelsea seem to be finding new and creative ways to throw away a lead. This time, they stooped to the depths of letting Everton and Rafa Benitez leave the Stamford Bridge with a point.
On Sunday, against Wolves, Tuchel didn’t even want to play due to the fact he could only field England international Mason Mount, USA international Christian Pulisic and Morocco international Hakim Ziyech in their front three. Mind you, he might have had a point – and not just the point he gained in the 0-0 draw. It wasn’t a good week for Tommy T and his boys in blue.
Mind you, his week was not as bad as Bielsa’s. They followed up their 7-0 trouncing with an almost comically bad 4-1 loss at home to Arsenal that ended up being overshadowed by the behaviour of the Leeds fans, allegedly. Gabriel Martinelli got a brace and, if Arteta chooses to trust him more than the £300k-a-week former captain, he might finally get a chance to become the player he really could be.
Leeds will soon be praying that Norwich, Burnley and Newcastle all find ways to finish lower in the table than them – with Newcastle, they have a pretty good chance as their held out against City for all of ten minutes before Ciaran Clark (again) and Martin Dubravka (again) found a new way to concede a silly goal.
The biggest game of the weekend, and not just because it went ahead, was down in North London where Spurs welcomed Liverpool by giving everyone a Premier League glimpse of Dele Alli’s new hair colouring.
Considering everything that had gone before, or to be more specific, not actually gone before with all the cancellations, the Premier League weekend ended on a high with Conte and Klopp putting on a proper humdinger of a match.
Harry Kane scored, Alli showed glimpses of the 2018 peak Alli and Harry Winks looked like an actual footballer.
Liverpool, without their entire first-choice midfield and Virgil, were equally relentless but will reflect back on the fact that had Spurs been able to finish just one more of their 50 or so chances, they’d have been heading back from London once again with a defeat.
It was end-to-end and had a goalkeeping blunder from Alisson to compliment his otherwise excellent shot-stopping. There was a red card when Andy Robertson thought he’d got away with chopping down Emerson Royal before VAR intervened – the very same VAR that felt sending the England captain off on his home patch wasn’t needed.
2-2 and you just felt that was the only game you needed this weekend.
The transfer window opens in a matter of days meaning the rumours are notching up a few levels every moment that passes.
Arsenal will pay for the private jet that takes Yo-Pierre away from the Emirates and right now they will need to point it in the direction of Turin. Juventus are keen to spend the wage budget they saved when they got shot of Ronaldo.
Barcelona are thought to be keen because the small matter of £300,000 a week means nothing to them. However, they might opt for United’s Edinson Cavani instead if they remember to ask Ralf whether Edinson is fit.
Whilst they are there, the Catalan club are considering sticking Juan Mata in the basket as well given that even Anthony Martial seems to be further up the pecking order than he. Martial is, of course, being linked to Newcastle along with Jesse Lingard. They also fancy Edin Dzeko from Inter who would obviously trade in a Serie A title run for a cold, North East relegation battle.
Dele Alli also seems to be on Nicky Hammond/Eddie Howe’s respective radars – a loan from Spurs could well happen and Alli might find that Lille’s Sven Botman is a new teammate.
Having realised he spent far too long ignoring him when he was manager of Chelsea, Jose Mourinho would love to make it up to Ruben Loftus-Cheek by taking him to Rome. Tammy Abraham will be asked to make it happen.
Antonio Conte has decided the best way to make Spurs good again is to make them last season’s Inter Milan and will start with Arturo Vidal – a spring chicken at 34.
Finally, a few good results has Arsenal thinking they can sign players from Juventus like in the good old days – they fancy their Swedish winger Dejan Kulusevski.