Rivals Roundup—in which Guardiola eats his words…


In a wild and wooly weekend, the Bald Fraud’s words must have come back to haunt him ever so slightly, as various former Citizens rose up to remind him that they are at least occasionally capable of performing up to the standards of a big club, his own comments about CIty not being a “small club” notwithstanding. From where we stand, the results largely if entirely played to our favour, and, despite our own diffident form of late, we’re sitting rather pretty. It’s not quite the catbird’s seat, but we’re close. Let’s get to it.

Man City: 9W 1D 2L: 28 pts.
115 Alleged Financial Violations FC went into Stamford Bridge huffing and puffing and threatening to blow Boehly’s sensibly assembled side away. Normally, when Erling Haalland bags a brace, it’s lights out for the opposition. However, Guardiola must not have counted on former Citizens Sterling and Palmer rising to the occasion as Chelsea fell behind, equalised, went ahead, were pegged back, fell behind again, equalised again, fell behind yet again, and finally equalised. It was truly madness. Are Chelsea really this good? Are City really this vulnerable? I’d like to think that the answer to the first is no while thinking that the answer to the second can still be yes.

Liverpool: 8W 3D 1L: 27 pts.
I’ve been sounding this alarm for a few weeks now. LIverpool are back. Even if they’re not quite back to their best under Klopp, they’re back to something close enough that they will make the Prem title a three-club race. While their convincing win over an ambitious but at times too open Brentford sign may not augur all that much, the fact that they’re scoring freely and conceding stingily suggests that the near-complete overhaul of their midfield is all but complete and that they’re gathering strength and finding chemistry. Despite a surprising loss away to Toulouse in the Europa League, they look likely to advance deep into this competition. Let’s hope that this saps their strength domestically.

Arsenal: 8W 3D 1L: 27 pts.
As it turns out, we do quite well when our opponents are not allowed to play a ball that looked to have rolled out of bounds back into the box where our defender is shoved to the ground from behind while his shover handles the ball and it falls into the path of another opponent who scores from an offside position. Burnley were resolute for most of the first half, but we showed patience and determination in breaking them down. Despite injuries to Partey, Ødegaard, Jesus, and Timber, we soldiered on. We almost lost Trossard due to his colliding with the post as he scored and Jorginho due to his face clashing with Kiwior’s studs. The two-week international break comes at a good time as we lick our wounds and size up our commitments.

Tottenham 8W 2D 2L: 26 pts.
Is the bloom off the Postecoglou rose? Consecutive losses have Tottenham resisting and refusing any notion of Spursiness. It’s never a good look to concede twice to Wolves even if your injury and suspension list might amount to a somewhat respectable XI, but that’s where Tottenham find themselves. Postecoglou has been refreshingly sanguine about it all, but even his optimism can only do so much to paper over the fact that his squad is very, very thin even at the best of times. If there’s a squad that needed this international break, it’s his. Still, despite the wobble, they’re still just a point or two off the pace, and, if they can right the ship after the interlull, (something made somewhat easier by the fact that they have no international commitments), they might stay in the hunt.

Elsewhere, further afield, etc…
Aston Villa continue to nip at the proverbial heels, and Emery inspires a bit of sympathy or perhaps something even bordering on respect as he leads the Villans toward respectability. It’s likely that their Europa Conference League commitment may become enough of a priority that their domestic form will suffer, but Emery is enough of a European specialist that he should have the nous to strike the proper balance. Just two points from a top-four spot and three from topping the table, we’ll have to keep an eye on them.

Four points below Villa, we find Man U. Does their stodgy 1-0 win over promoted relegation fodder Luton herald a new dawn, one strong enough to preserve Ten Hag’s position, or is it just enough to stave off his sacking for a few weeks? They come back from the interlull to face a series of difficult fixtures and face the prospect of crashing out of the Champions League. I’m sure we’ll all look on with mixture of bemusement and schadenfreuede as they struggle to find anything resembling a semblance of form.

Right. That’s it for this week. We’ll have to endure a few weeks for this interlull. Let’s hope that we and no one else can hit the ground running on the other side of it.

Average rating 4.7 / 5. Vote count: 28

No votes so far! Be the first to rate this post.

5 thoughts on “Rivals Roundup—in which Guardiola eats his words…

  1. Jax

    We’ve upcoming away games against Villa & Liverpool before new year, when I would normally expect at least one team to break away from the pack, but this season looks as though it’s going to be close all the way to the finish, and all the better for it.

    1. Jon Shay Post author

      It’s shaping up to be a three-horse race with us and Liverpool chasing Man City. Tottenham and Villa may or may not join that chase, and the fact that Tottenham don’t have any European competitions increase their odds at gaining ground on the rest of us. I wouldn’t be surprised if, on the strength of their performance on Sunday, Chelsea also start to gain ground.

  2. Palladio43

    It is going to take a long time before we might see a clear leader or two, and maybe, not until the final few weeks or later before the top club emerges. Too many of these clubs are, at the moment, fairly even, most probably because of injuries to various stars rather than having nearly equal starting elevens.
    Generally things will even out and, supposedly, cream rises to the top, but injuries, stupid plays, questionable VAR decisions, and other factors tend to muddle the picture.
    Arsenal suffered it’s first key injury early on and that will carry through, but others may suffer the same fate. These will pile up for everyone and it will be up to the managers and their executives to solve those problems by astute decisions on the pitch or in backrooms whether by choice of their team and lineup or even by a brilliant, but expensive, mid-season arrival or two.
    As of now, I do not see Arsenal as winning the Prem, in part because the team does not seem to be capable of overpowering the minnows and always able to stand fast against the top four (or six these days). Being unable to score against Newcastle (regardless of their dubious goal) or the draw with Spurs, not only hurt now in the standings but may certainly come back to haunt us.

    BTW much as I may be hoping that Havertz may one day soon prove himself, he is certainly not justifying his cost and is evidence of the weakness of the starting eleven when there is seemingly nobody better to start. Also, it appears we should have sold Party, even if very good when healthy, because now continued injuries will certainly have diminished his value and a mid-year replacement will cost much more even if not as good. JMHO

    1. Jon Shay Post author

      If we’re being realistic, City dropping points in the first half of the season is nothing new. The true test is whether and when they start their perennial unbeaten run, marching ruthlessly and mirthlessly towards another title. If they do repeat this pattern, will we have enough mettle to match them result for result? It’ll be useful to have Odegaard, Timber, and Partey back, and I still hold out hope that Havertz’s season will kick on. He’s making useful contributions but is yet to really change a match in our favor. It’s too soon to write him off, but I am getting antsy.

      1. palladio43

        Oh no!!!!!!!! Even Jon is now getting antsy about Havertz. This is not a good sign and bodes ill for us all. Seriously, it is a disappointment and, hopefully, his purchase does not become the anchor around Arteta’s and Edu’s necks that sinks them both in Kroenke’s eyes or favor. I find it interesting that you still hold out hope for Partey and Timber sometime this season. I doubt that Timber can come back that quickly from ACL surgery, certainly not game fit. As to Thomas, if he is still here and comes back, is that for three of the last 10 matches or less before another injury occurs? His, unfortunately is a sad history of injuries, whereas the Timber situation was an unfortunate and hopefully, one time occurrence.


Leave a Reply