There were 41 goals in all this Premiership Weekend, and every team found the net for the first time in the Sky era. But there were more imortant things to notice than mere goals. For example…
1. The Spurs of the moment – According to legend (or to give legend it’s proper 21st century name, Google) Roman Abramovich came within a kitten’s whisker of buying Tottenham Hotspur in 2003 before he flew over Stamford Bridge and fell hopelessly in love with the history and romance of it’s proximity to so many potential luxury apartment complexes. Had he never taken that fateful flight and ended up eating prawn sandwiches off the Paxton Road rather than the King’s, it’s fair to assume that Spurs wouldn’t currently be playing the kind of kamikaze comeback football that’ve made them every neutral’s favourite in a way not seen since Kevin Keegan’s ‘96 Newcastle Entertainers (which is probably what they’d have been called had they been in the MLS). Tottenham crowned another memorable week with yet another comeback win against a Big 4er they’d have almost certainly capitulated against in years gone by. Not falling apart against Man United remains the only obstacle left in their quest to become the Twilight zone opposite world version of themselves circa 1990-2009. The man who proclaimed in August that “tactics don’t win football matches” stuck valiantly to his ethos as ‘Arry admirably did nothing to about his teams woeful inability to defend properly for the entire 90 minutes and instead threw on more forwards in the hope that the spirit of “‘aving a right go” would prevail in the end. Fortunately for him, it did, after Aaron Lennon meeped his way passed Paul Konchesky to keep Spurs in the title race only they really think they’re in. The second ‘Arry decides to start actually using tactics is the second it’ll start to go wrong. Mark my words.
2. Zig a Zig aaaarggghhh – The footballing world still remains a little confused as to what it is Roman Abramovich actually wants? (replica European Cup headpiece for the yacht aside.) He surely can’t be naïve enough to think that winning the Champions League is purely a matter of giving lots of different managers around about a year or two until one of them gets it right? Can he? Both Lotti and Maureen instilled an unsettling aura of invincibility around the team, yet Caesar Roman seems pathologically compelled to undo this all, again, by trying to fix them whilst they aren’t broken, or break them whilst they’re fixed, whichever way you want to look at it. Everyone has always assumed that it’s Wengiolan champagne football he craved, but after a plethora of cricket scores under Ancelotti failed to keep him off the grass the answer must surely be more, and I think I’ve cracked it. What Roman wants is to be slightly worse. Oh yes. And what he really really wants, ironically, is to be more like Spurs. No honestly! It was famously the memorable 4-3 Man. United – Madrid match that persuaded him to invest in an English football club and it’s easy to see why a newbie would be so enthralled by the high scoring, back and forth nature of such a game. United came from behind three times before finally drawing ahead in the closing minutes, a feature very much renowned of United in the Ferguson era, and one being valiantly adopted by his loyal drinking partner at Spurs. This is the kind of exciting do or dare balls to the wind thing Abramovich wants to see. And Chelsea are too good for it. The six, seven and eight nils Ancelotti’s offered up weren’t fun. He doesn’t want a Blitzkrieg, he wants a Braveheart. He wants 4-3s in the spirit of Liverpool vs. Newcastle Entertainers 96ers every week. He wants to be doing what Spurs are doing, defending like they’re attacking – sashbucklingly (is that a word?) or as the rest of us call it, badly. Would it really be that mad if he was undermining his own teams on purpose to make their games more exciting? Well probably yes, but I’m going to put it out there anyway. And if he wants United vs. Madrid then good for him. Except he should probably remember that United lost that tie, 7-6 on aggregate,that neither Liverpool or Newcastle won anything in ‘96 and that Spurs are 5th to Chelsea’s 2nd.
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3. Boyz in the Snood – They say footballers are big Jessie’s these days, and if you’re anywhere but Newcastle – where commendably (or mentally – delete where appropriate) none of their starting XI wore gloves in clearly the coldest conditions of the weekend – you’d probably be right. It was a struggle to spot many players this weekend not wearing hand hats, and even harder to spot any in Arsenal colours not wearing a snood – the latest metro sexual fashion accessory for people who admire all the aesthetic qualities of polo necks but can never bring themselves to wear one. Bunch of girls.
4. Softly Softly Catch a Title – The undoubted winners of the weekend were Manchester United who managed to go and stay top, erase their goal difference deficit and develop some more future star prodigies without playing them, from hundreds of miles away. Somewhere on a treatment table a lightning bolt may have just re-animated Owen Hargreaves too. While Dimitar Berbatov revelled in the fruition of his squirrely plan to hoard goals in time for the winter, United striker Danny Welbeck was scoring for Sunderland at Wolves and fellow loanee Tom Cleverley for Wigan at West Ham. But whether that will have been as satisfying as good old Schadenfreude is a tough call as their two fiercest rivals dropped points to last minute goals and their closest title challengers floundered for the third week in a row, all whilst Wayne Rooney, Anderson, and them in general were suddenly hitting form for the first noticeable time. In a new and uncertain world of Wikileaks, Student riots and Korean wars it’s surely some small comfort to those worried and resistant to change that in a season typified as “open and unexpected” Man United still wind up on top and prosperous. It’s bound to annoy the crap out of everyone else though.
5. Please Sir, I want some more.. – In what was apparently the first time ever since records began (so, 1992) that every team found the net in the same top flight weekend, the highlight for me – yet again – was the silky sexy total football of Boltolona. Bolton vs Blackpool is more the kind of fixture you expect (or rather would’ve done 6 months ago) to consist of big hefty lumps playing big hefty lumps up to big hefty lumps whilst being continually elbowed by Kevin Davies than a free flowing end to end festival de pass. Such is the delightful freshness of these two sides however that we were instead treated to the latter, culminating in the kind of goal that would’ve melted Sam Allardyce and Tony Pulis into puddles of wet contrition, like vampires exposed to sunlight or wicked witches exposed to erratic falling houses.
You can follow Oscar on Twitter here: http://twitter.com/oscarpyejeary where you can join his quest to introduce the word ‘Bangerang’ back into popular culture. Bangerang!