The Hairdryer Treatment: When is it safe to bring on Harry? And what cunning plans did Pep have this week?

For the last few years, the opening line of this weekend’s column has been something vaguely amusing about Man City winning the League Cup yet again. There’s no copy and paste this time around given that Peppy G chose to sacrifice the famous old competition to focus on a Premier League and Champions League double. Regretting that yet, Pep?

City’s loss was United’s gain as Newcastle’s 1000-year wait for a trophy continues. Erik ten Hag has only been in charge for eight months but he already has a trophy in the cabinet.

It was far from a classic, mainly because Man United put in the kind of final performance they used to churn out frequently. It was never in doubt – Casemiro headed home the first and Marcus Rashford saw his shot deflect home for the second. You knew Ten Hag was happy it was in the bag when he felt comfortable enough to send Harry Maguire on for the last five minutes.

Of course, the romantic outcome would have been something involving Loris Karius being brilliant and exorcising the ghosts of that Champions League Final. Football doesn’t always work like that, but Karius can be happy enough with his mistake-free performance. As much as the social media banter wagon will try and blame him for United’s second, it deflected and what else could he do?

Eddie Howe looked like he aged 10 years over the course of the match, trying to come up with various changes to get his team a foothold in the game – but at the end of the day, United had winners like Varane and Casemiro in the ranks who are used to treating League Cup Finals as appetisers for bigger things to come. In the nicest possible way, Newcastle had Fabian Scharr and Joelinton.

Is it the start of something bigger for United? Yeah, probably. With Liverpool falling off a cliff, English football might look a bit different for a few seasons.

Arsenal got back to the basics, apparently – and those basics were winning Premier League matches away from home as Arteta’s men beat Leicester 1-0 at the King Power. There’s only one team with worse home form than Brendan Rodgers’ lot – and that’s Southampton, FYI – so it was no great surprise to see Arsenal make it 10 wins on the road this season.

VAR was on top form as always – ruling out Trossard’s curled opener because Ben White might have been standing a bit too close to the goalkeeper about 60 seconds earlier. They must have still been high-fiving themselves, therefore missing Harry Souttar body-slamming Saka to the floor. Who needs consistency, right?

Leicester were without James Maddison which means they were always likely to lose – and lose they did, Gabby Martinelli grabbing the winner straight after half-time.

City continue chasing them down – they won 4-1 at Bournemouth showing what happens if you pick someone who can actually play left-back and passing the ball to Erling Haaland. The robot has 27 now, which is more Premier League goals than Sergio Aguero ever managed in a season. There’s been no comment on whether Pep was as ecstatic with this win as he was so bizarrely after their 1-1 draw away to Leipzig in the week. 

A 0-0 draw at Palace is definitely better than being 2-0 up at home to Real Madrid and losing 5-2. And it was only a good result for the Reds because Patrick Vieira’s side probably should have won. That’s the world Jurgen Klopp currently occupies and it looks like it haunts him.

Tottenham’s players will be on the phone to Antonio Conte again this week letting him know that it’s absolutely fine if he wants to extend his sick leave another few weeks. Spurs did something Spurs rarely do in the Premier League and they beat Chelsea. 

During the week, Graham Potter spoke eloquently about the death threats he’s been receiving due to the poor form Chelsea are in the middle of. Sadly, that’s unlikely to improve in the short-term given how abject his side looked again. All the talk is still around how the new owners will give their choice of manager time to get it right, citing Mikel Arteta as the shining example. But now Todd Boehly has finally understood that Chelsea need to finish in the top four to play in the Champions League again, does that still stand?

Not that you’d ever go to Merseyside for your honeymoon, but Sean Dyche’s honeymoon period at the Ev is definitely over. The club announced that Jordan Pickford had signed a new big deal during the week – probably with a pay rise in line with how much more work he does than everyone else over the course of a season – but it does not have a relegation clause, once again showing how clued up the club’s management are. Or, maybe it’s a clever way of saying they have complete confidence in Dyche to avoid the drop? Everton + clever = unlikely and Aston Villa eased to a 2-0 win at Goodison Park dropping the Toffees back into the bottom three.

Southampton at home wasn’t the worst first game that Javi Gracia could have been handed – Watford’s former FA Cup runner-up coach has been flown in on a flexible contract (which absolutely sounds like someone has finally phoned one of those random finance adverts they show on ITV4 during the mornings) and is tasked with keeping Elland Road as a Premier League venue.

Junior Firpo scored the only goal in a 1-0 win – and of course the Saints lost, they’ve fallen into the trap of giving the caretaker the job because he did OK. Ruben Selles was confirmed as Nathan Jones’ successor until the end of the season on Friday, almost certainly guaranteeing relegation and the need for a good Championship-level manager. Nathan Jones, anyone?

West Ham United only needed to remember how to play for 15 minutes against Nottingham Forest – and they managed to score four goals in that time. Danny Ings was signed to score the goals that’ll keep them up and he notched twice. That’s 250 Premier League wins for the Moysiah. He’ll need a few more before the season is out.

Wolves and Fulham drew 1-1 on Friday night – yeah, I’d almost forgotten about it already.

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