Hang on, what day is it? I do find this time of year stupidly confusing. I think we are about to wave goodbye to 2021 which would mean it is quite likely that 2022 is upon us. The only other factual statement I have to offer is that Chelsea will not win the Premier League this season.
Tommy T’s out-of-form side are randomly 10/1 not to finish in the top four which feels equally like throwing money away and potentially a corker of a bet.
Tuesday’s (Wednesday’s? Hell, I don’t know) 1-1 draw with Brighton saw the gap between Chelsea and Man City widen to eight points – though the Blues are still second thanks to Liverpool deciding to take the night off against Leicester.
Not improving Tuchel’s mood will be the injury to Reece James and the small matter of Romelu Lukaku going rogue and telling Sky Italia that he is “not happy” with his situation at Chelsea and he fancies a return to Inter one day.
“Physically I am fine,” Lukaku told Sky Italia. “But I am not happy with the situation at Chelsea. Tuchel has chosen to play with another system.
“I won’t give up. I will be professional. I am not happy with the situation but I am professional and I can’t give up now.” Lukaku being the ultimate professional there, bitching about life on national TV.
But, the big Belgian might have a point – Chelsea are hardly firing on all cylinders right now and what’s the point in buying a £99m striker if you are not going to use him? Even Man United are not that daft – they seem to pick Ronaldo no matter what.
United, having incurred the wrath of Ralf Rangnick for a lack of energy and bad body language in their 1-1 draw with Newcastle on Monday (definitely Monday, I remember that being Monday) clicked a little more into gear with a 3-1 win over Burnley.
Scott McTominay seems like the player to have benefited most from the German’s arrival at Old Trafford, as he scored (bravely taking the ball off Ronaldo’s foot to shoot) and hit the post in the move leading to Ronaldo’s goal. He almost looked like a United midfielder of old – certainly more Bryan Robson than Eric Djemba-Djemba.
Don’t let the fact that Burnley hadn’t played since December 12th or won since the end of October dampen the spirits – United are back baby and have the small matter of catching Arsenal, four points ahead in 4th place. What do you mean it was only one game? Yeah, OK – you are probably right.
Peppy G’s lot extended their lead to the aforementioned eight points with a 1-0 win over Brentford. Phil Foden netted the winner making it ten straight wins in a row for City – that force of nature with Chelsea and Liverpool being a little sloppy means the title is probably done. As Pep himself remarked, As Pep Guardiola remarked: “The reason they drop points is that we won 10 games in a row.” I’m not sure that is exactly how it works, Pep, but OK.
The real reason for Liverpool to be even further behind City was a rare off-day for Mohamed Salah, probably still smarting from not being in Garth Crooks’ BBC Team of the Year. Salah won a penalty, missed the penalty and then headed the rebound against the bar. Kasper Schmeichel had the kind of day out that did justice to his surname and Brentan called the performance “heroic”. Liverpool had 67 touches in the Leicester box yet none of them got past the Dane.
Who remembers the days of old when West Ham going 1-0 away to Watford between Christmas and New Year would have almost certainly guaranteed defeat? Not any more, thanks to the Moysiah. Ranieri’s side took the lead at Vicarage Road and then saw the Hammers rampage – scoring four and all without Declan Rice. Even Mark Noble joined in and played well. All that was left was for Moyes to bemoan another daft VAR decision that went against his side – well, you can’t have everything. Even at Christmas.
Spurs needed a Harry Kane penalty to get a point away at 10-man Southampton. James Ward-Prowse scored for the home side in a rare non-set-piece kind of away. Conte remains unbeaten in the Premier League since his return but will see that as two points very much thrown out of the window.
Norwich might as well pack it in and take the rest of the season off. They lost again, this time to a Crystal Palace side decimated through illness and injury and with Patrick Vieira holed up somewhere giving info via Whatsapp.
Is Dean Smith really doing anything better than Daniel Farke was doing? Probably best not to answer that.
How about some space-filling transfer rubbish?
Liverpool have noticed that Arsenal’s Bakayo Saka is pretty good and think he could be their Mo Salah replacement. They also want to bring AC Milan’s Franck Kessie to Anfield on a free in the summer.
Barcelona, still penniless, will return to the Etihad to persuade Aymeric Laporte to head to La Liga at the end of the season. There was also some utterly weird/hilarious/probably true chat around Ronaldo reaching out to Gerard Pique asking him to fix a move from United to Barca ASAP.
Oh, and Newcastle – deep breath. The current holders of the “all the gear but no idea” baton are looking at Kieron Trippier, Lille’s centre back Sven Botman, Juventus’ bib collector Aaron Ramsey, Barcelona wild child Ousmane Dembele and Roma’s Jordan Veretout. I think we can all agree, that if they get one out of five there, they’ve done well.
Marcelo Bielsa likes his players to be like rabid animals and to be fiercely competitive. So, who else could they be linked to other than the son of Diego Simeone? Giovanni is a striker, plying his trade in Verona right now. If he fancies doing a hell of a lot more running, Leeds is the place for him.