Football woke up to some sad news on Sunday morning following the death of Jimmy Greaves, the former footballer-turned-broadcaster. As someone, as a child, who was inspired by Greaves’ wit and tongue-in-cheek, “let’s not take all this so seriously” delivery on TV, his passing immediately takes me back to a time when football was just a little more fun and we didn’t take everything as seriously as we do today.
Whilst I am quietly confident England’s finest ever goalscorer never read Tales, I would like to think he would have approved of the sentiment behind it. And with that, this one is for the late, great Jimmy Greaves.
Sadly for Spurs, it wasn’t really one for the occasion. Even the great Greavsie would have struggled to get on their scoresheet given the lack of chances created by the home side against Chelsea. Mind you, having played for both, Greaves might have fancied playing off Lukaku. Chelsea won 3-0 and they were good for it.
That’s back to back 3-0 defeats for Tottenham. Harry Kane to sign a new contract? Not likely.
Things that were 100% going to happen at the Athletics Stadium on Sunday. Number one: Ronaldo was going to score. Number two: So was Jesse Lingard. Number three: David de Gea, having never saved a penalty in his life was always going to break the heart of Mark Noble, West Ham through and through.
Did we not learn anything from sending on the two subs to take penalties in the Euro 2020 Final? Yes, yes – it’s great in theory but surely the evidence now suggests it is not as easy as just stripping off, stepping up and banging it home. Goalies, sure – throw them on. Their entire game is based around keeping the ball out of the net. How many times does Noble take a penalty per match? Exactly.
United, yet again, came from behind away from home to win a Premier League match – and even with the VAR refusing to award them two pretty clear and obvious penalties that the referee, clearly keen to keep the match alive, chose not to award. Mind you, I still need convincing that West Ham shouldn’t have had one in the first half as well – that would have finished Aaron Wan-Bissaka’s week off well.
United in a title race? Let’s see how good they are against a top team before we answer that, shall we?
I think we can assume that Peppy G won’t be attending any fan functions in the near future. Guardiola urged Man City fans to turn out in number for the Southampton match – a plea that had nothing to do with the unsold tickets at the Emptyhad for the midweek nine-goal thriller with RB Leipzig in the Champions League, alright?
It is hard for these City fans nowadays – all these trips to Wembley, all these midweek clashes going deep (but not quite deep enough, eh?) in the Champions League etc. It all adds up and following a top-level club is quite the investment in the modern game. Are we reaching a point where the group stages of the European competition is becoming a little bit Carabao Cup to some fans? Quite possibly. Now, if only someone could come up with a new idea that might get the fans so excited they could turn out once in a while. Lower ticket prices? Don’t be silly – I think the moneymen are more focused on finding a clever way to restart the ESL thing. Mind you, City were advertising very cheap tickets on a student discount site last week in the hope to get the house full in the future.
Those that did turn out to watch the Southampton game will have left disappointed – nine goals in midweek and barely the sight of one at the weekend. Don’t forget, Pep and the boys were ‘tired’ and only had ‘ten minutes to prepare’ whereas Hassenhuttl, virtue of just not being as damn good as City, had the luxury of a whole week.
The Saints earned their point manfully and could well have taken all three back to the South Coast had VAR not suggested a second looksie at Kyle Walker’s tackle which had led to a penalty and a red card for the England international. Was it a penalty and a red? No, probably not. But was it a clear and obvious error? Equally, no sir – and Southampton should have been allowed to take their penalty and see Pep combust thoroughly on the sidelines.
Sean Dyche, fresh with a new contract ensuring 442 and direct aerial bombardment will the menu del dia for at least the next four years on Turf Moor, also had a bit of a VAR gripe following their loss to Arsenal. The Gunners led through Martin Odegaard’s curling free-kick when it looked like Aaron Ramsdale had conceded a penalty clipping Vydra in the area – following a delightfully threaded through-ball by £50m ball-playing defender Ben White.
The video showed that Ramsdale, as he had gently pointed out, had touched the ball first – Dyche admitted he had seen there was a touch and that “in theory, it doesn’t get given” in the tone of a man not completely believing what he is saying and actually thinking that the penalty should have very much been given.
Fans often sing “can we play you every week” and it would be no great surprise to learn that Sadio Mane was humming the tune at Anfield after he scored against Crystal Palace for the ninth consecutive match. Nobody else has ever scored that many goals against one team in a row in the Premier League (and I haven’t been bothered to check whether such a record existed before football started in 1992). It was also Mane’s 100th Liverpool strike in all competitions. Patrick Vieira was mainly disappointed that all three Liverpool goals came from set-pieces, though that sweeping statement would do an injustice to the quality of Salah and Keita’s strikes.
Right now, there appear to be more leaks at Newcastle than in a sieve. Ahead of their match against Leeds, we learned that coach Graeme Jones had fallen out with Dwight Gayle. The fans still would like Steve Bruce to pack up and go but against all odds, the team took a point from Marcelo Bielsa’s Leeds thanks to Saint Max scoring a lovely little equaliser. Rumours suggest the mole is…. Rebekah Vardy. No, I am joking, People are suggesting it is Steve Bruce himself.
Everton could have kept pace with the early table-toppers had they got a win at Villa Park but it was a stunning second-half performance from the Villa that led to them winning 3-0. Leon Bailey only needed to be on the pitch 20 minutes to earn a place in the hearts of the Holte End, larruping one past Begovic and pulling his thigh in the process.
Not many would have had money on Brighton being higher than City in the table after five matches. But, there you go. Football is a funny old game, someone once said. Jamie Vardy might have got his 150th Leicester goal but it was in a losing cause. Brighton won 2-1 and will do well to continue getting points in the bag ahead of playing some of the bigger sides in the Premier League very soon. I’m not saying they are in a false position, but they’ve had a somewhat friendly start to the season fixtures-wise.
Norwich will have looked at their tough start and possibly thought that a home match versus Watford was the moment for their season to get going. Unfortunately, nobody told Watford who Sarr their way to a 3-1 win courtesy of a brace from, ahem, Sarr.
Thomas Frank made quite a salient point when challenged on Brentford’s perceived timewasting in the second half of their 2-0 win over Wolves. “What would he do if he was a newly promoted team with a tenth of the budget, just a bus stop in Hounslow and down to ten men? If I was him, I’d be looking at the first half”. It’s a fair point well made – Brentford is little more than a bus stop in Hounslow and they were very, very good in the first half.