Well, it should be clear to even the most casual observer that all of London is white and that Tottenham will surely overtake the Invincibles. I for one welcome our new insect overlords. I’d like to remind them that, as a trusted internet personality, I can be helpful in rounding up others to toil in their underground sugar caves. Did I just insinuate that Tottenham are but mere bugs? It’s possible. Maybe even likely. Still, they’re ridin’ high, and it’s quite crowded at the top of the table. Let’s get down to the roundup.
Tottenham (8W 2D 0L: 26 pts.)
At some point, Tottenham will crack. Perhaps. They came into the Emirates and twice fought back to earn a draw. They bested Liverpool (although the Reds were down to ten men after 26 minutes and down to nine after 70…). In a result that looks less and less impressive, they beat Man U. They still have some difficult matches ahead of them, but they’re shorn of any other commitments except the FA Cup. How long can the Ante-boost last? After years of dour, bitter management under Conte and Mourinho, among others, the upbeat Australian is surely a breath of fresh air, and the Son-Maddison (MaddiSon? Please don’t let that portmanteau start trending…) pairing is looking lively. Are they the real deal, or is it only a matter of time before Spursiness returns?
Arsenal (7W 3D 0L: 24 pts.)
We bounced back from a disappointing but also inspiring draw at Stamford Bridge to thrash Sheffield United. Although that draw may hurt in the long run, there was bound to be a degree of catharsis and after finally beating Man City. Still, it was invigorating to see Nketiah look about as lively and lethal as anyone, putting three past the hapless Blades before passing on a chance to score four in order to reward Vieira for his industry. With Jesus set to miss at least a few matches, we’re going to need Nketiah looking sharpish against West Ham on Wednesday and Newcastle on Saturday. With Tottenham looking confident and Man City rounding into form after thrashing Man U on Sunday, we can ill afford to slip up. Let’s hope that hat-trick converts Nketiah into a latter-day van Persie or at least an Adebayor.
Man City (8W 0D 2L: 24 pts.)
For something like 20 minutes, it looked like there might be a shadow of a glimmer of something resembling a chance that Man U might win, or at least draw, this derby. Then, as has happened so often this season, the wheels came off in spectacular fashion. More on that momentarily. Man City, who just a few weeks ago looked like stale, moldy bread after two consecutive losses, bounced back with a vengeance to embarrass their hosts and lay down a marker to those who would dare dethrone them. Rodri’s dark arts earned a pen, which Haaland converted. It took all of Onana’s best to keep the scoreline somewhat respectable. Guardiola’s minions are gathering strength, and, once de Bruyne returns, they may reprise that “undefeated in the second half of the season” tradition. Whatever happened to those 115 FFP violations, anyway?
Liverpool (7W 2D 1L: 23 pts.)
I’d like to say that our former man Matt Turner put in a brave performance. I’d love to say that he kept a clean sheet. I’d be ecstatic to say that Forest went into Anfield and stole a massive result. I’d also be thrilled to say that I stand 1.75m (5’9″). Sadly, none of these statements are true. There was simply no stopping a Liverpool side that looked bound and determined to ensure that Luis Diaz would feel some degree of support while Colombian police and military attempt to rescue his kidnapped father (his mother has been rescued). I feel bad being even a little bit snarky at the start given these circumstances. Rivalries and ambitions aside, let’s all hope that Diaz’s father gets released unharmed.
Aston Villa (7W 1D 2L: 22 pts.)
If you’re at all like me, you harbour some softer, squishier sentiment for Unai Emery, who stepped into shoes too large to fill and inherited a mess of a squad. He was a sacrificial lamb. To see him elevating Aston Villa to lofty heights, then, offers some consolation, but even those feelings have their limits. Having thrashed West Ham and then dispatched Luton, Villa are nipping at Liverpool’s heels. For as much as I might enjoy seeing them overtake Liverpool or even—gasp—Man City, that’s about as far as my sympathies go. They look likely to advance in the Europa Conference League, but that isn’t likely to sap their domestic strengths. Emery has already proven that he is a bit of a specialist in the Europa League, for as painful as that is to admit.
As for the rest of them, Newcastle present a strange case. Are they the side that scored 14 goals in three matches, or are they the side that stumbled to two draws away? Has the bloom gone off of De Zerbi’s rose with just two points from their last four outings, including a 6-1 hiding away to Aston Villa? I almost feel like a special mention is due to Man U, who have perhaps spent almost as much as Chelsea in fees and wages over the last few windows only to languish in 8th place. Pressing questions are now perking up over Ten Hag’s management. If there’s any saving grace for the Dutchman, it’s that Chelsea are even worse off.
Well, that should do it for this week. There’ll be some midweek League Cup matches for most of the aforementioned before next weekend’s Prem clashes. ‘Til then, then…