Seven days later, the BBC have finally found a way to silence Gary Lineker. Aunty must have exposed Gaz to some people with a cold as Lineker could hardly speak on Saturday as he hosted Man City’s 6-0 demolition of Burnley.
By the time Erling Haaland had scored his second hattrick in a week, Lineker’s voice had completely gone meaning he was subbed off ahead of Sunday’s game – Alex Scott much happier to be called up in place this time around.
With Chappers quipping that he’d been booked to MotD that night weeks in advance and Lineker tweeting about getting back to the Saturday job and it being great to focus on the football it all seemed delightfully contrived to distract from the original point of all this – some people are so desperate for a better life that they will travel oceans in a dinghy in desperation and the UK government think an appropriate response is to ‘stop the boats’.
Anyway, Gary had a better week than Patrick Vieira – that’s for sure. Paddy managed to achieve the unlikely feat of actually being sacked on St Patrick’s Day, though you’d suspect he’ll have missed the irony of the 7am phone call from Steve Parish telling him to clear the desk he was on his way to. It wasn’t quite as bad as Palace sacking Trevor Francis for him to say ‘but it’s my birthday!’ but close enough.
Not scoring enough goals has been Vieira’s downfall – if you look past the fact that Palace didn’t replace their best player last season or sign a striker capable of sticking the ball in the net. So if you are not scoring and you are worried that might lead to relegation, who do you call? That’s right – Croydon’s answer to Brazil 1982, Roy Hodgson (and yes, Uncle Woy was already managing a team in 1982, just not Brazil!)
All this meant Arsenal were quite pleased to lick their Europa League wounds by smashing the Eagles 4-1 and taking another stride towards the title. Gabby Martinelli scored (coz it wasn’t a penalty) and Aaron Ramsdale managed to stop anyone scoring from 60 yards out.
Ahead of their reunion, Vinny Kompany mentioned at least six times that he’d like his old boss to stop suggesting he will be the next Man City manager. Kompany was so keen to play that talk down, he led his team to a 6-0 defeat to try and bump Vieira back up the bookies’ odds table.
Haaland has scored eight goals since we spoke last week, which is a bit crazy. He scored five between minutes 22 and 62 on Wednesday against Leipzig before nabbing another three here. 60 for the season? There’s more chance of that than Kompany taking over from Pep, OK?
Remember those heady days when United fans thought they were on for some kind of quadruple? Well, they might be out of the Premier League race (look, they are alright?) but they got through to the last eight in the second-division European competition during the week – and Fulham made sure the FA Cup could still be added to the League Cup in the Old Trafford trophy cabinet. One minute, Fulham are leading United 1-0 and everything is calm and comfortable. Three minutes later, United led 2-1 – Willian, Mitrovic and Marco Silva all sent off, Bruno Fernandes scoring the pen after Willian deliberately handballed it on the line and Sabitzer scoring a delicate howitzer to open his account.
You can’t help but think there is something bubbling under Erik ten Hag – three trophies and a top four finish would be alright, wouldn’t it? Even two. Sod it, anything plus Champions League qualification is a big win for ETH given the hospital pass he was given by Ralf Rangnick.
Antonio Conte must have plans in Italy he needs to be getting back to. After Tottenham’s frankly hilariously Spursy 3-3 draw with Southampton, Conte donned the look of a seriously grumpy mafia boss and started firing shots at anyone in the vicinity. The players were thrown under the ‘selfish’ bus and were swiftly joined by anyone involved in the club not winning anything for the last 20 years – I think he meant you in particular, Daniel.
Mind you, letting in three against the Premier League’s bottom club gets you back in the England squad if you are Fraser Forster, so every cloud.
Apparently, Everton “don’t have any strikers” if you listen to their fans and various managers over the last couple of years. Tell that to Ellis Simms, who levelled against Chelsea late, late on. It served as a nice reminder to clubs that sometimes, just sometimes you get nicer carrots if you grow them yourselves. Or, in simpler terms, give the kids a chance or close your Academy.
Given his outburst outside the ground, Chelsea owner Todd Boehly is starting to understand the club a bit better. “Sh** f*****g game!” he proclaimed after Everton clawed it back to 2-2. You suspect Graham Potter won’t be as scathing about that as he was about Kai Havertz waggling his fingers in his ears at Jordan Pickford after scoring a penalty.
Villa beat Bournemouth 3-0 with the only bright point for the Cherries being David Brookes back on a pitch 536 days later following cancer.
Jonny had a bit of a day out against Leeds. He gave one away, scored from the halfway line and then got a red after VAR suggested his horror challenge probably deserved an upgrade. And if that was a red, why wasn’t Craig Dawson’s similar first-half lunge? Mind you, VAR had another dodgy outing themselves – can anyone explain why Wolves didn’t get a penalty early doors? No wonder Julen nearly burst out of his tight trousers in fury and Matheus Nunes managed to get sent off whilst being on the bench.
Lopetegui reckons he could already write a book on the VAR errors against Wolves since he took over. Granted, it wouldn’t be much of a read – but he has a point (the only one he picked up this weekend).
As for Leeds, Javi Gracia might just be quietly keeping them in the Premier League. A bit like he did with Watford.
Ivan Toney is in the England squad again – as Gareth says, he’s not been charged with anything (though he forgot to add a very big yet on the end of that statement). Now is an unfortunate time for his goals to dry up as he failed to trouble the scorers in Brentford’s 1-1 draw with Leicester.
On Friday night, Newcastle remembered how to score and win as they beat Nottingham Forest 2-1 – big Isak scored the winner from the spot which was a surprise to Eddie Howe given he wasn’t even on pens.
Brighton were given the role of party poopers in the FA Cup quarter-final against League Two Grimsby. There was no sniff of an upset as Roberto de Zerbi’s side jogged past them 5-0 and they head to Wembley in a repeat of the 1983 FA Cup Final. And Smith must score indeed. There’s definitely a line here to do with Seagulls following trawlers given Brighton, Grimsby, fish and Man United but I can’t be bothered to find it.