Oh, Sergio. No. No, no, no, no. As Gary Lineker’s media team succinctly tweeted, what kind of idiot tries to do that when there is so much on the line?
Those of a certain age (which, to be fair, will be most of you I suspect) will remember Lineker trying to be just a little bit too clever when taking a spot-kick against Brazil to level Sir Bobby Charlton’s England goalscoring record. I don’t think we called it a Panenka back then, we just called it rubbish.
Aguero, with City 1-0 up against their Champions League Final opponents Chelsea and with a win securing this season’s Premier League title – not to mention the chance to equal Wayne Rooney’s record of scoring the most Premier League goals for one club – thought he’d make a fool of Eddie Mendy. As you can probably guess, there was only one fool.
Tommy Tuchel seems to have the measure of Peppy G as Chelsea sorted themselves out at half-time and came out to win the match 2-1. Sure, they were helped by Aguero’s tomfoolery and Kurt Zouma unbelievably getting away with a nailed-on foul on Raheem Sterling, but a win is a win and all that.
With both City and Chelsea navigating their way through their Champions League semis to book a date in Istanbul (or London, if common sense actually prevails for once), there’s no way on Earth Tuchel’s team are going there for a nice day out. Sacking a manager before going on to win the European title? Peak Chelsea, no?
Manchester City’s champagne is going to be nice and cold at this rate – especially after United’s fans graciously allowed them to play this weekend.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer clearly has a formula that works, so why deviate? Aston Villa took the lead, obviously, United sorted themselves out in the break and won. I am sure that Douglas Luiz would like the opportunity to make that decision again. Mason Greenwood is quietly becoming pretty lethal once again – meaning United probably don’t need to go and waste 150 million big ones on Erling Haaland.
Harry Maguire’s record of playing every single Premier League minute this season came to an end after Edinson Cavani managed to send a Villa player flying into the United skipper. Cavani made up for this by scoring the third, whilst Ollie Watkins was probably a little hard done by to be given a second yellow for diving given that Henderson did make the tiniest bit of contact – not enough for a penalty, not enough to send him off. Maguire might now miss the European final and the European Championships – it just seems that summer vacations in Europe do not agree with him.
Thanks to their fan protest, United now have a fixture pile-up and one less £200m sponsor after one pulled out due to the negative publicity of being attached to the Glazers. Swings and roundabouts.
Leicester seem set to achieve the impossible for a second season running – that’s finding a way to not qualify for the Champions League despite being well set for the entire season. They went down 4-2 to Steve Bruce’s Newcastle on Friday night – and it’s amazing how Bruce’s team seem to be a lot better now they have their two best attackers available again. You know, just like he said.
With Leicester’s wheels falling off, there has to be renewed hope at Anfield that, if they can just be reasonably good for the next few games, they could find themselves remaining at the top table next season. Sadio Mane scored an oh-so-rare goal and Thiago opened his account for the club against Southampton – whose players are putting a cunning plan into effect by making sure Hassenhuttl isn’t poached by a bigger club by making it look like he is not very good.
Brighton were very, very Brighton once more – they led against Wolves through Lewis Dunk only to see the very same player pick up his second red card of the season. Wolves went on to win before Neal Maupay managed to pick up the latest Premier League sending off this season, a full seven minutes after the final whistle. All this does seem to make Graham Potter a very good fit for Spursy Spurs.
Tottenham went to Leeds and were shown what a well-coached, joined-up, all-on-the-same page football team looks like leaving any slim hope of Champions League football in the bin. The best Spurs can now hope for is avoiding the Europa Conference League. Rookie manager Ryan Mason is still rewatching Harry Kane’s disallowed goal to see if he was actually offside. Marcelo Bielsa had a point – “the conclusion was the difference in desire of the players”. The story of Tottenham’s season in one translated phrase, right there.
The list of new managers seems to be ever-rotating. Serie A winning Inter boss Antonio Conte is now being linked along with Simone Inzaghi. It’s pretty clear which one the Spurs fans would prefer given a choice
West Ham seem to have run out of steam and Everton showed that they are marginally better away from home, Ancelotti beating the Moysiah 1-0 at the Athletics Stadium. Everton remain on course to be utterly insignificant in 7th.
Christian Benteke summed up his entire football career against Sheffield United. Palace’s frontman saw everything he hit cleanly turned away by Aaron Ramsdale yet the one he did get given was deflected in after he shinned it – by the same token, Palace’s two goals summed up everything about Sheffield United. Both were deflected in past Jonah Ramsdale (who actually played well).
Having seen his Arsenal team fail miserably to join United in the Europa League Final, Mikel Arteta has made it clear that even more changes need to be made in the squad. His immediate concern should probably be the chance of immediate change being made in the manager’s chair – with ex-Chelsea manager Maurizio Sarri being linked to the Emirates.
Whether it’s Arteta or someone else, Arsenal’s future must be built around Bukayo Saka and Emile Smith-Rowe, the two academy boys that can help prevent the Gunners make any more shocking buys in the transfer market. Nicolas Pepe, the fifth most expensive signing in British football history, is often considered one of those shocking buys (certainly around here) – but his strike was rather tasty. Mind you, do it when it matters Pepe – like a Europa League semi-final, as opposed to against a pretty-much relegated Baggies. The same could be said for Willian – signed on a free but on a decent wage, you’d imagine. Great free-kick, just in the wrong game.
Defeat means Fireman Sham cannot claim to have never taken a team down – mind you, he’ll always have Liverpool, Man City and Chelsea from his WBA days and, no doubt, he’ll remind us.