RIvals’ Roundup: Downing tools, throwing towels, and licking wounds…


Alternate title: and then there were two…except this no longer applies given the fact that Man City have been crowned champions courtesy of our loss to Nottingham Forest and, it must added even if redundant, Man City’s win over Chelsea. The upshot for your diligent correspondent is that he really only need review those two teams while heaping scornful, derisive abuse upon those who will have finished below us, much like the boxer must shed roll after roll of sweaty, useless, disgusting flab before he can win the title. Let’s get to it.

1. Man City (28W 4D 4L: 88 pts.)
Golly. Who would have thought that the squad that had already won the Prem four of the last five times of asking would have a chance at winning the Prem again after adding Erling “I’m not a cyborg” Haaland and his 36 goals? I’m gob-smacked. Knock me over with a feather. It’s a good thing Sheikh Mansour assembled this invincible, silver-ware gobbling squad via entirely legitimate and legal means else the FA might have to conduct an inquest that might eventually come close to resembling something that approximates the verisimiltude of consequences. Juventus looks on enviously.

2. Arsenal (25W 6D 6L: 81 pts.)
Let’s be honest. We let the Prem slip away through our own youth, lack of depth, and injuries. Put another way, we were put to the sword by one of football’s deepest, most-expensive, and most experienced squads. Once Everton failed to do us a solid, we downed tools against Brighton, who were eyeing up their first European qualification in club history. Against Nottingham Forest, we again made zombies look energetic and limber. It might have been nice had we not had to face a side with a desperate urge to win at either end of the table, but we’ve been the architects of our own downfall. How dare we sit atop the Prem for 90% of the season if we weren’t going to go ahead and win it? We deserve all the talk of bottling. Just get on with and liquidate us already.

That’s it. That’s the roundup. We can’t win the Prem. No one can finish above us. All that’s left are crabs in a barrel. Newcastle have a chance at finishing a distant third, but they’ve done so without any European commitment. Man U could finish fourth or fifth, and there are rumours of them loaning in Neymar, which terrifies me because we all know how well it turns out when Man U bring in an over-priced prima donna who is more style than substance. Liverpool are resurgent but may face a rebuild sooner rather than later, given the advancing ages of key players like Salah, van Djik, Fabinho, Robertson, and Henderson, to name just a few. Finishing below them will be Brighton (whom I respect despite them drubbing us), Aston Villa (respect to Unai, not so much to Emi), and, pending results, either Tottenham or Brentford.

I’ll be honest on this last one: I want Tottenham to qualify for Europa Conference League play to convince Kane to stay at Tottenham to win silverware and to keep him away from Chelsea or Man U. Each side needs a striker. The last thing we need is a resurgent rival. In the grand tradition of fandom, we don’t have much left to cheer for. At this point, all we really is sweet, sweet schadenfreude. Yes, we’ve staggered and stumbled across the finish line, but we can do so with our heads high after going toe-to-toe with the Greatest Side Ever Legitimately AssembledTM. But for a few VAR decisions here and there and an injury or two, we’d be the ones carrying on about winning the Prem.

One last note: to “down tools” means to stop working or trying, usually in protest against some kind of injustice or abuse. For our lads, they may have thrown in the towel these last few weeks, but I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that they’d also downed tools. I also wouldn’t be surprised to learn that they’ll come back next season even hungrier than ever, having come so close only to fall short so close to the end.

We have a busy summer ahead of us. I have a good feeling about that. As the hoary old saying goes, it’s on like Donkey Kong.

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