It was the best of times; it was the blurst of times. Stupid monkey. We lost. Man City won. Man U won. Liverpool…drew. Tottenham having struck early (and almost often), lost. VAR was a busy, busy bee this weekend, overlooking four possible violations to award Newcastle a gamewinner and then disallowing five goals in between Tottenham and Chelsea. The resulting re-shuffling has Man City once again atop the table with the rest of us nipping at their heels. Let’s get to the roundup, shall we?
Man City (9W 0D 2L: 27 pts.)
115 Alleged Financial Violations FC bravely battered Bournemouth, a club whose squad is probably worth less than Man City’s weekly wage bill, 6-1. Indeed, City had a legitimate chance at matching the Cherries’ goals scored for the season (8) until conceding a late-ish consolation goal. Take that, ludicrously wealthy oiligarch-owned caricature of a club! You can’t even keep a clean sheet against lowly Bournemouth! Na- na-na boo-boo [sticks thumbs in ears, waggles fingers, sticks out tongue]! On a more-serious note, Guardiola might have another fearsome attacking option in his squad; 21-year-old Jeremy Doku absolutely terrorised Bournemouth with rampaging, sluicing runs. What’s worse for the rest of us, Bernardo Silva made Kevin de Bruyne look positively pedestrian as he pulled the strings. City won’t win a quadruple, but…
Tottenham (8W 2D 1L: 26 pts.)
Pochettino was back. A London club was playing stylish, attacking football, and a young striker, perhaps one of his country’s best, would net a hat-trick. Unfortunately for Tottenham, it was Chelsea running rampant. So much for that Invincibles season. Cristian “what’s a red card” Romero should have been sent off for kicking out at Thiago and was sent off about 8 minutes later for a clumsy challenge in the box that also gave Chelsea a penalty. After losing Van de Ven and Maddison to injuries, Destiny Udogie saw red for scything Sterling down (although he probably should have been sent off for an earlier challenge). Down to nine men, Tottenham did do well to late in the second half before collapsing in Spursian fashion, conceding three goals in almost-identical fashion. They’ll now have to ponder life without four players, at least in the short term…
Liverpool (7W 3D 1L: 24 pts.)
Let’s set aside the snark. I’d like to be serious for a moment. C’mon, guys, I’m not doing the spotlight bit. Kenilworth Road were in ecstasy for about fifteen minutes, having scored their first-ever Prem League goal and their first ever top-tier goal since 1996. Tahith Chong’s 80th minute goal looked likely to secure a famous, fabulous win for the a club whose stadium sits a grand total of 11,500. It was five minutes into stoppage time, just when the Kenny was on tenterhooks, that a cross in from Harvey Ellitott found Luis Diaz at the back-post, and a man who has endured the kidnapping of his mother (since released) and his father (still captive) found some degree of catharsis. And with that, Liverpool have thrust themselves right back into the thick of things.
Arsenal (7W 3D 1L: 24 pts.)
Let’s review. It’s apparently acceptable to shove a defender to the ground with both hands as the ball clearly makes contact with one or both arms in what are admittedly in an unnatural position so that the ball falls to an teammate who scores from an offside position because they didn’t have proper camera angles. It’s also acceptable to plant a firm forearm (or elbow) shiver to the back of an opponent’s head well after he’s played the ball on. Stuart Attwell has been guilty of some howlers, but Saturday’s sequence might just take the cake. Yes, it’s true that Raya should have claimed Willock’s cross, but that doesn’t excuse the various failures for Attwell or VAR. In the end, we weren’t good enough to win (chance creation, not to mention chance conversion are concerns), but neither were Newcastle. This was always going to be a difficult fixture. To have lost it in this way is small consolation.
Now, we’re into the dregs. Well, maybe. There’s at least a gap from the top-four to the…more-aspirational types. Aston Villa went into the City Ground against a Nottingham Forest side that has won just three matches from eleven and promptly lost 2-0, thus blunting Emery’s progress. I’m of two minds here. On one side, I enjoy seeing Emery’s progress. He’s a decent man and a better manager than we saw during his time here. On the other, Emi Martinez is a complete bell-end who deserves every come-uppance he endures.
The less said about Newcastle’s “progress,” the better. I have spoken.
From there, there’s such a fall-off that I don’t want to get into the particulars. It seems that the bloom is off the rose down at Brighton, where they’ve now gone five Prem matches without a win. Man U are hardly faring much better, with persistent talk of Ten Hag’s sacking continuing to roil even after a dramatic, entirely undeserved late winner at Craven Cottage. We’re only eleven matches in, but some lines are clearly being drawn.
The Prem title is clearly still Man City’s to lose. Liverpool are back to their best after re-vamping their midfield. Tottenham may or may not be legitimate threats. The Arsenal are grinding out results while still finding a footing. If I were a betting man, I’d put my money on Tottenham faltering while we join Liverpool in hounding Man City ’til the very end. We’ve been far from our fluid best, what with integrating new players and losing slatwarts to injury. We’re gathering strength, and we’ve learned a lot from the disappointment of a season ago…
Before we part ways, allow me to extend an invitation: if you enjoy this pluckly little blog, spread the word. There’s a growing audience of regular commenters, so I hope it’s not too much to appeal to you to invite other like-minded Gooners to join in. The craic gets better when more of us chime in, eh?