It must have all felt very familiar to Frank Lampard, right? No, not returning to the Chelsea dugout – but losing a game of Premier League football. You could even turn that up a notch – losing a game of Premier League football to Julen Lopetegui who has now faced Lamps twice and beaten him twice. Yeah, you’re right – that’s possibly not the most exclusive of clubs.
In many ways, the surprise return of Frank to Stamford Bridge made a lot of (PR) sense for Todd Boehly. After all, Lampard has only got to oversee a Champions League defeat to Real Madrid and a few more Premier League matches (probably guiding Chelsea to the heights of 10th and avoiding the European backwaters). This should buy Boehly enough time to interfere with some well-thought-out plans put in place by the experts he has employed and try and get Carlo Ancelotti for next season.
Chelsea went to Anfield in the week, the biggest revelation of that game being that ex-Brighton defender and Graham Potter disciple Bruno does actually have a surname. They drew 0-0 which was fine as it showed they can keep a clean sheet but not so fine as they were incapable of scoring a goal against even the most-hapless of Liverpool defences (minus Virgil van Dijk and Trent Alexander-Arnold so possibly less hapless than recently).
Lampard, looking refreshed after ten weeks away from the farce that is Goodison Park, clearly does not believe in out of the fire and into the frying pan. He randomly cobbled together eleven out of the 30 or so names available to him and watched them, again, fail to get anywhere near the net against Wolves – who then nicked it with a thunderbolt from Matheus Nunes (no doubt high up Boehly’s summer shopping list as a result).
Lampard wants his team to show more aggression. I suspect what he really wants is for Mason Mount to become injury-free so he can build a team around him and hope for the best. That is what has got him this far in his career, don’t forget.
Roberto de Zerbi has a curious way of promoting himself, doesn’t he? If Daniel Levy and his new Football Operations Director (some guy called Matt, an Aussie, used to work for City) were giving any serious consideration to RDZ being the next manager incapable of turning Spurs into a Premier League force, he didn’t do himself any favours with his display on Saturday.
De Zerbi had a quiet word in the ear of Cristian Stellini, the Tottenham caretaker, ahead of kick-off – seemingly a little narked that Stellini had “disrespected” him by suggesting that he was continuing the good work of Graham Potter. And you know what the Italians can get like if there is a whiff of disrespect in the air.
Brighton absolutely killed Spurs for the majority of the game, yet found themselves losing and incapable of getting a VAR decision in their favour even when it could not have looked more in their favour twice. Who knows, but maybe their manager’s antics on the sideline which saw him get a red and drag Stellini (minding his own business) down the tunnel with him distracted them a little?
Sonny scored his 100th Premier League goal – the first Asian to get 100 and Harry Kane scored the winner. Spurs were rubbish yet got a win – it almost felt like the heyday of Conte’s reign. Post-match, PGMOL (a mythical creature that is never actually seen) said that Brighton should have had a penalty and they were really, really sorry. At this rate, Howard Webb is going to have to man the video himself.
According to Peppy G, Erling Haaland is at the level of Messrs Ronaldo and Messi which, frankly, is cobblers. Man City’s resident robot scored twice against bottom-club Southampton and would have had three if Pep hadn’t hooked him before a penalty was given in their favour. Sure, one of them was a funky overhead kick. But at the level of Ronaldo and Messi? Not yet, Pep – come back to me in five years’ time if he scores 50+ in each season.
He’s currently on 30 Premier League goals, easily hunting down Alan Shearer and Andy Cole’s joint 34-record (Coley didn’t take penalties as he never tires of reminding us). He has 44 for the season – and if Guardiola can just keep his sanity ahead of the Bayern tie, the season could go on for a while longer yet.
City are making Arsenal work for their title, that’s for sure – Kevin de Bruyne chalked up the utterly pointless statistic of being the youngest player to get 100 Premier League assists. Given he is now in his 30s, does “youngest” work here? Probably not. Does it even matter? Probably not. Ahead of Arteta’s Sunday date with Liverpool, the gap was just five points with City still to play the title pretenders once more.
After Sunday, the gap was only six points as Liverpool tried to fight the narrative that they have become a bad team overnight. If Mo Salah was just that little bit better at penalties, they’d have beaten the Gunners and City’s title bid would be very, very on. As it stands, you’d have to say it is only very on given that Arsenal are bound to drop points and see the temperature go up and City will 1000% beat them when they meet.
More pertinently, you can only assume that assistant referee Constantine Hatzidakis was only passing on a message from Rodri as he appeared to throw an elbow in the face of Andy Robertson – definitely one for the non-Liverpool fans to enjoy, that one. On behalf of all grassroots referees and linesmen and women across the world, we applaud you Mr Hatzidakis.
Stop the clocks – Manchester United’s end-of-season pot hunt could now be over if Marcus Rashford is injured (take this very seriously until you see him start the next match as if there was never a problem).
Rashford limped off at the end of United’s easy enough 2-0 win over Everton – a result that keeps them in the top four favourites slot and Everton still nervously looking over their shoulder given that it is only goal difference keeping them out of the bottom three.
United backed up their midweek win over Brentford comfortably enough – but Ten Hag was more interested in blaming the TV schedule for the fact that Rashford is never more than a mistimed Casemiro tackle away from some kind of injury. And sometimes, just sometimes, Seamus Coleman reminds you that you can play one season too many at the top level.
Of course, the real reason United won is that they picked Harry Maguire – who doesn’t want to talk about the fact that he is unbeaten since August (which is a hell of lot easier to be when you never get picked, right H?)
Newcastle smashed West Ham 5-1 in midweek and followed it up with a 2-1 win at Brentford – a game that will be remembered mainly as the day Ivan Toney missed a Premier League penalty. The thing with Toney’s languid approach to a spot kick is that it looks amazing when it works, not so much on the incredibly rare occasion it fails. That said, balls of steel to take the next one that came along and slot it home – just a shame that Alexander Isak is starting to look like a Geordie legend in the making.
Unai Emery loves a lower-class European competition and Aston Villa look very much in the mood to book their spot in one of them next season.
Villa, aided by a lovely assist by Jonjo Shelvey – such a deft pass in the penalty area, beat Nottingham Forest 2-0 at Villa Park, Forest heeding the warning of “if you want him to stay as manager, start winning” from their crazy Greek owner.
Don’t worry too much Coops, there’s a few Premier League jobs going if you sit tight. You’ll be the winner out of this longer term.
Leicester City seem to have missed the section in Jesse Marsch’s LinkedIn profile where he took Leeds to the point of relegation before Javi Gracia came in and steadied the ship. The Foxes thought they had pretty much agreed a deal with Marsch to replace Brendan Rodgers (just like Southampton had a few weeks ago) before Marsch changed his mind at the last minute. He must have noticed there isn’t a single USA international at Leicester – who might now try and tempt Rafa Benitez to the King Power.
They lost 1-0 to Bournemouth – which means Leicester are 19th and Bournemouth enjoyed their Easter Eggs all the way up in 15th spot.
West Ham’s board must have spotted the trend by now, surely? Publicly threaten the Moysiah with the sack if he does not win the next game – watch West Ham win the next game. Harrison Reed helped David Moyes get another week at work with his comical own goal at the Cottage, meaning Fulham’s desire to miss out on Europe (even if it costs Marco Silva a punt at a bigger job in the summer) remains intact. And the Hammers might even stay up at this rate, stranger things and all that.
And maybe Chelsea should have called Roy? BTROR (before the return of Roy), Crystal Palace hadn’t won a game in 2023. ATROR (after the return of Roy), Palace have won two – and beat Leeds 5-1 at Elland Road. And better yet? No Wilf Zaha – what, wait. Is that just a coincidence?