The last seven days of football saw Chelsea’s abacus run out of beads whilst spending more than German, Italian, Spanish and French clubs combined, various fax machines get blamed for last-minute deals not happening, Forest bringing in their 43rd player since last season and Everton strengthening their squad by selling their one saleable asset.
Mind you, Everton didn’t get everything wrong last week – they announced Sean Dyche as Frank’s replacement, gave him a clipboard and a tape recording of the old-fashioned bleep test and boom, the club has been sorted out.
I mean, if football is back to being as simple as filling out a questionnaire and running from one side of the gym to the other before you hear the bleep then you can count me in. Dyche gave the Toffees the first three pages of his ‘back-to-basics’ manual and the next thing you know, they’re beating the Premier League leaders 1-0 (obviously) from a set-piece (obviously).
The thing is, if the Ginger Mourinho could play Arsenal every single week then I would 100% back Everton to stay up with ease. Dyche has the wood over Mikel Arteta and although this is a great start, I’m looking forward to seeing him get that kind of performance away from home when all the emotion has died down.
As for Arsenal, it’s not just a chink of light for Man City as the torch being whacked on full beam and Pep screaming “boys, I’ve found a gap we can get through – and don’t worry, I’ve got a plan so cunning you could put it in a Leicester kit and call it a fox”. But more on that plan later. Suddenly, does a window that ended with Jorginho being brought in because Chelsea have signed six better options than him feel as good as it did on Wednesday?
Arteta won’t be panicking though and Arsenal will most likely bounce back with a win next time out. The same cannot be said for Old King Kloppo, however.
Liverpool went to Wolves and lost the game within 12 minutes – Joel Matip putting in the kind of performance that sees you shipped out on loan to Serie A if only the window was still open.
Klopp took it well though, refusing to answer a question from journo James Pearce – “you know why”. The thing is, Pearcey didn’t have a clue “why” because Jurgen had picked on the wrong guy, literally. He’s had better Saturdays.
In another case of mistaken identity, Liverpool seem to think that the ageing N’Golo Kante is the guy to come in and fix their very broken ageing midfield. Kante is 31 and injured quite frequently nowadays. Mind you, they ain’t getting Jude Bellingham or Declan Rice if they finish 8th, are they?
So, here’s a question – when the ref sent Casemiro off did he spell his name correctly? It turns out the multiple Champions League winner’s name is actually Casimiro but because he played well on his Sao Paulo debut back in the day and it was spelt wrong on his shirt then he’s never bothered correcting it. Fair enough.
United beat Palace 2-1 even with their Brazilian midfielder taking an early bath – where he was joined by trouble child Alejandro Garnacho, subbed off after being subbed on. I’m liking Erik ten Hag more every single week.
Insert your own Graham Potter can’t buy a win gag here – most have already been covered elsewhere. In a shock realisation, you can’t just spend another 300m+ on another six players and see them become a great team overnight. Fulham probably got away with a 0-0 on Friday night, but Chelsea still spent all that money and have Kai Havertz leading their line. Go figure. And imagine how Yo-Pierre feels right now. Requested by Tommy T back in the summer, brought back from Barcelona only to see Tuchel out the door days later and now not even named in their Champions League 25-man squad. Mind you, is he better or worse off than Hakim Ziyech who was in Paris doing his medical when he learned that Chelsea hadn’t emailed over a signed copy of the paperwork – no PSG deal for him then!
So City had a chance to close the gap to Arsenal meaning all eyes would be on Peppy G and his team. And we know how much Pep loves all eyes on him and his big tactical brain. Why on Earth would you keep Oleksandr Zinchenko or Joao Cancelo at the club when you can play an 18-year-old right-back at left-back and ask him to spend half the time wandering into central midfield?
It’s a fine line between tactical genius and tinkering more than the tinker man original Claudio Ranieri.
Not content with his weird back four/back three hybrid thing, Guardiola also felt the best way of breaking down a team content sitting in and defending for the whole game was to start the most creative Premier League midfielder of this generation on the bench. I rarely agree with Richard Keys – in fact, I make a point of trying to agree with everything he says for sport – but even he was right about City’s manager complicating things for complication’s sake in this one.
And so, Arsenal got away with it – like Champions have a habit of doing. Harry Kane scored his 267th goal in all competitions which takes him past Jimmy Greaves’ 266 in all competitions except the Charity Shield. Yeah, I’m not applauding Kane until he gets another two now, to be honest. They’ve done Greavsey over there.
Up in Newcastle, they seem to have a bit of a disconnect when it comes to the Highway Code. Rule #1 – don’t drink and drive, Joelinton. Rule #2 – don’t drive when already banned. New 40m signing Anthony Gordon was seen clearly behind the wheel 48 hours after losing his license – it was just a shame he couldn’t drive them to victory over the ‘Ammers, eh? Eh? West Ham left the North East with a point and some belief that they can get themselves out of the relegation battle.
Leicester haven’t had many better weeks than this for a while – their chairman cleared 150m or so of debt, got Brentan some shiny new toys to play with in the shape of a giant centre-back, a left-back who might not get injured every time he plays and that new right-winger they’ve been wanting considering Marc Albrighton should have retired four years ago. Rodgers’ new-look team ran out 4-2 winners against the Villa and Kelechi Iheanacho was the difference maker – maybe someone told him it was the FA Cup.
Brentford had a pretty good one too – Ivan Toney still isn’t banned and they beat Southampton 3-0. Nathan Jones claimed that it wasn’t “his team” out there and that there weren’t many better managers than him at Luton. Now, I like Jones – but even I struggle to believe he didn’t pick the players on Saturday (if I am to take him oh so literally and ignore the fact that he’s trying to suggest he has compromised some of his Championship beliefs to meet the Premier League egos halfway or so). And as for the Luton thing, you can be the best manager in the local Wetherspoons and that doesn’t mean you’ll do a great job at the overpriced Fox and Hounds down the country lane, does it?
If you are Nottingham Forest, the obvious solution to losing Dean Henderson for a couple of weeks is to go out and recruit a guy who has won the Champions League more times than you’ve won the old European Cup. Kaylor Navas arrived on loan from PSG and nobody seems to have been told what Hendo thinks about all that – but Navas kept a clean sheet as Leeds United found various new ways not to score, despite bringing in some decent players themselves in January.
Stating the obvious, that Mitoma can play a bit. Brighton’s best result of the week was not beating Bournemouth 1-0 but managing to get through Tuesday without Chelsea offering them another 200m for him and Moises Caicedo.