I don’t want to dwell on our own Weebles wobbling (they’re not Weeble wobbles. Weebles wobble). Thusly edified, I hope you’ll continue. What’s more, roughly half of the rivals worth including in this roundup took the weekend off, Prem-speaking, to participate in the FA Cup. Cowards, all of them. I will say that for as skimpy as the main course is as a result, dessert is simply sumptuous. Let’s tuck in, shall we?
1. Arsenal (23W 6D 3L: 75 pts.)
Yes, yes, yes, so we’ve staggered to three consecutive draws against inferior opponents, but—and this is a big but—we showed dramatic improvement. It’s true. Instead of racing out to a two-goal lead only to falter and fumble our way to a draw, dropping points from a winning position, we cleverly turned the tables by allowing our visitors to seize the two-goal lead—twice, mind you—before bravely and resolutely fighting back to earn a point from a losing position. Ingenious tactics. Little did Southampton know that they were waltzing straight into our trap. Those who tried to bury us in the dirt now know that we’re better than dirt. Well, most kinds of dirt. I mean, not that fancy, store-bought dirt. That stuff’s loaded with nutrients.
2. Man CIty (22W 4D 4L: 70 pts.)
Yes, it’s now mathematically possible for Man City to win the Prem. Yes, we have to go into the Etihad and claim a draw if not something better to retake the wheel, but I’m going to go ahead and take it as a sign of weakness that our rivals decided to avoid any Prem matches this weekend in order to face a weaker opponent in the FA Cup. Clearly, they’re nervous and wanted to schedule a softer opponent to build their confidence ahead of Wednesday’s fixture. What other possible explanation could there be for them opting to host Championship-side Sheffield United? They’re scared, and I won’t accept any other explanation, no matter how accurate or well-informed it may be. The only bad news is that no one suffered any injuries or ennui, at least not that of the observable type. It might be nice for Haaland or Rodri to wrestle with existential or ontological questions over the next few days…
3. Newcastle (16W 11D 4L: 59 pts.)
Well, well, well. It seems that having the moral clarity that comes from the financial backing of an entire nation-state whose hands are completely clean of anything untowards may actually pay dividends from time to time. Newcastle abused the human rights of Tottenham on Sunday in a way not at all reminiscent of how its owners abuse the human rights of its citizens on the way to a 6-1 thrashing, and, for as frightful as the scoreline was, it could have been far worse but for Toon taking its foot off the gas. Still, for as resurgent and repressive as Toon were on this day, they’re also the side that lost 3-0 to Aston Villa the week before. Let’s pray it’s the latter side we face when we pay a visit.
4. Man U (18W 5D 7L: 59 pts.)
That other Mancunian side, the only that is but a friendly neighbor to Pep’s, also ducked out the back door to avoid Prem pressures. A funny thing happened on the way to the treble, though. After suffering a 3-0 Europa League thrashing at Sevilla’s hands (where the Devils at least avoided scoring on themselves by merely making dreadful mistakes that allowed the Sevillistas Rojiblancos a chance at enjoying goals they scored for themselves), those self-same Devils narrowly escaped FA Cup defeat by defeating Brighton on penalties, earning themselves a chance to get resolutely and thoroughly humiliated by their friendly neighbors in the FA Cup final. If they play anything like they’ve played since winning the League Cup, that 7-0 loss to Liverpool will feel merciful.
5. Tottenham (16W 5D 11L: 53 pts.)
Wow. Just…wow. We all know that Newcastle are a rising force, one to be reckoned with, and we all know that Tottenham resemble the residue one sees in the sink after brushing and expectorating, but…wow. Tottenham conceded three goals inside of ten minutes and then managed to erect a more-stalwart defense, conceding just two goals in the ensuing ten minutes. Hugo Lloris added to Tottenham’s “almost-ours” trophy cabinet by becoming the first keeper in Prem history to concede five goals in the first half. Harry Kante took another step in the same direction by scoring a meaningless goal early in the second half, taking him one step closer to Alan Shearer’s record (but I seem to remember Shearer winning an actual trophy or two). It takes a special skill to score that many goals without actually winning anything. Good on him for that.
6. Aston Villa (15W 6D 11L: 51 pts.)
Unai Emery’s Villans dropped points for just the second time in nine matches, giving them a chance at overtaking Tottenham for that fifth-placed spot. Wouldn’t it be something if our former manager oversaw his current club overtaking Tottenham? Mmm. As I said before, sumptuous. Imagine your favorite dessert, be it a flourless chocolate cake or a Magnum Double Chocolate or three fingersr of whiskey (my personal preference). Emery is as we know a Europa League specialist, and earning a spot (ahead of Tottenham) is surely on his radar. Is he enough of a Gooner to want it for the schadenfreude? Perhaps. Would he become an honorary Gooner for achieving it? Tha’s more likely.
That’s where we’ll stop for now, even if Liverpool are hot on Villa’s heels with a game in hand and Brighton hot on Liverpool’s heels with two games in hand. Still, your loyal correspondent can only type (and imbibe) so much at this late hour. Thankfully, at this point, it’s a two-horse race with us and Man City observing the plebs fighting for our table-scraps. I don’t see anything special or dramatic happening between now and next Sunday, but I’ve been wrong before…