The Warm-Up: Never mind the cheese room
Jack Lang looks back at last night's Premier League games, and enjoys some vintage non-League amusement...
THURSDAY’S BIG STORIES
Home sweet home
Gouda. A bit of camembert. Some aged manchego, perhaps, and a little halloumi, studded with Mediterranean herbs.
Then you’d have your British classics: crumbly cheshire, stilton, and three or four strains of top-quality cheddar, to pair with a selection of chutneys, fresh grapes and regional crackers.
Sorry. Sorry. We were away in a lactic reverie there. This still happens with alarming frequency, but you’re absolutely right: it’s high time we got a grip. The new Spurs stadium doesn’t – repeat doesn’t – have a cheese room. Get over it, Warm-Up.
Luckily for Tottenham, the rest of their snazzy, north-London space ship still looks absolutely amazing. Swooping lines, killer views, PINTS THAT FILL UP FROM THE BOTTOM… The Warm-Up is still very much on board with all of this, and early testimony from fans has been hugely positive.
We can even forgive them last night’s slightly awkward opening ceremony. You expect a light show and fireworks, and maybe even a song from some lady from the X Factor, but someone could have told the Crystal Palace players they didn’t need to be on the pitch for all of it. Imagine getting a stirring team-talk from Roy Hodgson and then… actually, on reflection, it probably wasn’t that much of an issue.
In the end, Palace didn’t cause that much of an issue to Spurs, either. Goals from Heung-Min Son and Christian Eriksen sent everybody home happy, with the possible exception of Harry Kane, who – we can only assume – was absolutely desperate to score the opening goal in the new place.
Still, the future is undoubtedly bright. Things (SORRY) can only get feta.
Blues cruise (x 2)
It was a night for predictable home victories in the Premier League, with Manchester City swatting Cardiff aside and Chelsea beating Brighton. Callum Hudson-Odoi and Ruben Loftus-Cheek both started for the Blues in that latter game, which can only mean one of two things:
(a) That Maurizio Sarri has actually been replaced by a high-spec android, paid for by Roman Abramovich, who is running the show from his laptop.
(b) The apocalypse is on the way, so you should probably start Googling the price of kayaks and baked beans.
Mo misses, no problems
The Straight Bat of the Week award goes to Jurgen Klopp, who is absolutely not worried about Mohamed Salah’s new-found inability to locate the opposition goal on his internal GPS. The Egyptian has gone eight games without scoring, but has plenty of credit in the bank with his manager.
“He scored 40 goals last year,” said Klopp. “All the awards came after, then you are not 100% when pre-season starts. The shoulder was still a problem, but he did everything brilliant. His career is not over. He scored 20 goals this year, so he scored 60 in the last two. Wow! That’s not too bad.
“He’s a threat, he helps us a lot and he deals with new situations really well. Sometimes you need a bit of time to adapt but I don’t think he needed that long really. He doesn’t seem to be bothered that he hasn’t scored in a few games, and I’m not.”
No real surprise there, but we can now confirm once and for all that Klopp doesn’t have Salah in his fantasy team. If he did – and if, just to paint a hypothetical picture, Salah’s dodgy form was costing him pretty much every one of his leagues, YOU UTTER FIEND – we can assume the response would be somewhat more urgent.
IN OTHER NEWS
A new addition to our ongoing Low-Grade Football/TV Cross-Over Look-Alikes list:
And if you’ve managed to miss previous entries:
HEROES AND ZEROES
Heroes: The people of non-League football
Zero: Leonardo Bonucci
What a joy it was to see so many top footballers round on the defender after his idiotic response to the racist abuse of Juventus team-mate Moise Kean on Tuesday night. Bonucci, recall, claimed Kean should accept 50% of the blame for pointedly celebrating in front of rival fans, because, as we all know, reacting to racism (especially calmly) is just as bad as racism itself.
And then there was a message of support from Mario Balotelli, a player with whom Kean has lazily been compared since breaking into the Juventus first team. “Bravo,” he wrote. “Bonucci is lucky that I wasn’t there. Instead of defending you he does this? I am shocked.”
(Update from the Department of Too Little, Too Late: Bonucci did eventually manage a mealy-mouthed non-apology late on Wednesday, saying: “I was too hasty in the way I expressed my thoughts.” Hasty, sure, but mainly just wrong, pal.
Also: Grafite! What a run, and what an endearingly jammy finish. Way better than an emphatic drive off the underside of the crossbar or something similarly mainstream.
Oh and here is the coolest free-kick of all time, a propos of nothing at all:
"Jokanovic’s football is always risky but this season in the Premier League it was a risk too far. With so many new players coming in, he could not settle on a team, especially not a defence. Defeats led to changes which led to more defeats. All the while confidence drained out of the players. Most worrying at all was the fact that Fulham were consistently out-run and out-fought by their opponents, pointing to the lack of preparation throughout the club for the physical demands of the top flight. As if no-one had realised that the one thing promoted teams have to start with is hunger, energy and a refusal to lose. But Fulham thought that they could skip the basics."
The midweek rounds in Italy and Spain are wrapped up this evening, although most of the big teams have already played, unfortunately. Atalanta vs Bologna is the pick of the Serie A games, with Real Sociedad vs Real Betis standing out in La Liga.