Well, well, well. This weekend was just about damn-near perfect, if I do say so myself. As each result rolled in, my excitement grew and grew and grew. It got so good that I got to thinking, “we need a meme featuring Gene Okerlund or Linda McMahon or someone getting more and more excited until their eyes shoot laserbeams.” Alas, such a meme does not yet exist. But for one boneheaded own-goal, we could have had the bestest weekend ever. As it stands, we’ll have to settle for damned good. Damned good indeed.
Man City (6W 0D 1L: 18 pts.)
Man City had been looking imperious but are no longer invincible. Wolves took an early lead through a Ruben Dias own-goal, got pegged back, and scored again, no mean feat for a squad that had scored just six goals in their previous six outings. For as momentous as the result must be, I am sure that Wolves comported themselves with staid dignity, acknowledging the result with little more than a subtle not of the head, perhaps accompanied by a soft clearing of the throat. Anything more than that would have been unseemly. What then is left for Guardiola after last season’s quadruple? Going a season unbeaten is the last unscaled peak, and he won’t scale it this season. More’s the pity. Tsk.
Tottenham (5W 2D 0L: 17 pts.)
Brave, brave Tottenham overcame the longest of odds on Saturday, figuring out how to cope with a man-advantage after Curtis Jones was sent off 26 minutes in. Their woes were compounded when Dioga Jota was booked twice inside of a minute for two fairly soft fouls. Postecoglou must have been absolutely—oh. I’m being told that the wires are crossed. and it’s Liverpool who very nearly came away with the draw despite going down a man for about 45 minutes and then going down to nine for the last 20. Boy, do I have egg on my face. Tottenham have now ridden Lady Luck for two consecutive weeks to results they arguably didn’t deserve, but prepare yourselfs for a bunch of crowing cockerels all the same. Time will tell whether they’re serious contenders…
Arsenal (5W 2D 0L: 17 pts.)
We enjoyed a fairly comfortable romp at Vitality Stadium, as was to be expected. How comfortable was it? Even Kai Havertz, that waste of 60 million scored. Truth be told, it was a significant and telling moment as Ødegaard stepped back in order to let Havertz step up, and it’s from there that a magnificent chant was born. Sure, it was essentially a gimme, but for Havertz to finally break his duck must have gotten the monkey off his back. Let’s hope that it was the first of many more to come. Spare a thought if you will for Smith Rowe, who had two fine chances parried away by Neto and who was seen departing the pitch tearfully. For as exhilirating as it was to see Havertz score, there’s some ambivalence there as far as what it means for the Smith. I would not want to be RC Lens this week. Smith Rowe has some exorcisin’ to do…
Liverpool (5W 1D 1L: 16 pts.)
Joel Matip, you donkey. You and yours had Tottenham on the ropes despite playing 12 v 10 for an hour and 12 v 9 for another 20 minutes. All you had to do was not score an own goal in the waning minutes of stoppage time. Now, all of us have to deal with the ugly spectre that is Tottenham brimming with misbegotten self-confidence. Thanks, Joel. Seriously. Sorry if it sounds sardonic. More seriously, Liverpool again looked like they were getting back to their best after suffering a hangover from the 2021-22 failed attempt at winning a treble. Well, at least there wasn’t any VAR-related controversy here that might fuel the kind of furious indignation that Klopp thrives upon. If such a controversy had transpired, I’m sure that the PGMOL would have already apologised and taken two points from Tottenham and awarded one to Liverpool. The absence of such remedial action is ipso facto proof that no such VAR-related controversy occured.
Elsewhere, what the hell happened at Villa Park? Emery’s squad absolutely erupted for six goals against Brighton. Each side had found ways to lose to Everton and to Chelsea in the midweek League Cup fixtures, but few could have foreseen this display. Villa ran rampant, and Brighton had no answers. The result leaves the two level on 15 points, still nipping at Liverpool’s heels and just outside the top four, but this display, taken on its face, suggests two very different paths forward. In the end, De Zerbi is too good a manager to let this kind of result define a season. By the same token, Emery is proving to be a much-better manager than we might remember from this time here. Both clubs have European commitments to contend with for the first time in a long time, so we’ll have to see how they contend with the extra fixtures.
Looking even further elsewhere (and we may just need a telescope at this rate), Man U lost at home to Crystal Palace, making this their worst start to a season since the formation of the Premier League. How bad is it? They’ve have lost four of their first seven games of the campaign—the first time they have done so since the 1989-90 season. While we’re wallowing in filth, I’d like to thank Chelsea for being so thoroughly irrelevant that I don’t even want to wait upon their Monday trip to Craven Cottage to publish this post. ‘Twixt the two, it’s comical that it’s Arteta being slated as the chequebook manager. Ten Hag and Pochettino have squads infinitely more expensive. Ah, well. I’ll leave such mystical mysteries to those smarter than me. ‘Til next week, then…