MONDAY’S BIG STORIES
Well, the North London Derby happened. And it kept happening, relentlessly, endlessly, in obvious violation of all known principles of good taste and good football. Possibly some public decency laws as well. Then Tottenham won.
To be fair, even in this strange second act of his career, Jose Mourinho’s teams are pretty good at games like this. Games where nobody cares how anything gets done, just that it does; games where his team can react, counter-punch, and generally act the goat. Just a shame Eric Dier missed it. He lives for this stuff.
As for Arsenal, once again they were undone by their two biggest problems combining to make one massive super-problem. A tight defence can make up for a lack of creativity in midfield; a team making loads of chances can cope with a little bit of clown shoes at the back. But Arsenal are trapped in a feedback loop of mutual inadequacy, each end of the pitch unable to compensate for the other.
'A massive low' says Arsenal boss as they lose London Derby
One game-changing mistake might be considered unfortunate. Two starts to look like a mess. And three in a couple of minutes? That amounts to a 24-carat, grade-A catastrophe.
Leicester’s form since the corona-break has been highly peculiar, but nothing’s quite matched the handful of seconds that began with Kasper Schmeichel smacking the ball into Wilfred Ndidi’s backside and ended with Çağlar Söyüncü taking a swipe at Callum Wilson. 1-0 became 2-1 down; 11 men became 10. Reality started to dissolve. Dominic Solanke scored a goal. Brendan Rodgers furrowed his brow.
Later on, Dominic Solanke scored another goal. We’re not saying the end of the world is definitely coming, but it might be worth heading to higher ground, just for a couple of days.
Leicester’s loss is everybody else’s gain, for reasons of comedy. But it also does interesting things to the relegation battle. Bournemouth get the three points, and they live to hope another day. They’re just three points behind Watford and West Ham now, and the two W’s play one another on Friday. There’s still hope. Blessed hope. Beautiful hope.
Though not for Norwich City. The league’s bottom team somehow got worse over the corona-break: since the league’s restarted they’ve scored precisely one goal, picked up exactly zero points, and have now officially collapsed into relegation with all the stiff resistance of a wet paper towel. Commiserations to them, and congratulations on next season’s promotion back to the miserable time.
Chelsea have three games to save Kai Havertz deal – Euro Papers
If you’re reading this early in the morning, then something big is about to happen. If you’re reading it in the afternoon, then: Oh wow! Who saw that coming? Not the Warm-Up, that’s for sure. Manchester City will be furious/delighted! Please delete as appropriate.
Yes, today is the day we find out if (a) Manchester City’s ban from the next two editions of the Champions League will be upheld, or (b) Uefa’s Financial Fair Play rules are as toothless as Norwich City on a bad day. And if you know what’s going to happen, then you’ve got one up on Pep Guardiola.
I’m confident in the club, the arguments, the defence they had, and that next season we’re going to [take up] the place we won on the pitch this season. But we have to wait. I know there are many teams in the Premier League waiting too. But we are going to wait.
Either result will be pretty seismic. If City are excluded, then you’d assume there would be consequences for the whole project. Some of the best players in the world, playing for one of the best managers … but not in the best competition? That’s an odd equation.
And if City are waved back in, well, it’s not a great look for Uefa. Welcome to our competition! Please follow the rules! We can’t actually do anything about it if you don’t! We’re not saying that the entire competitive edifice of European football would collapse immediately, but give it a couple of seasons.
IN OTHER NEWS
Going out on a limb here to suggest that Paris Saint-Germain’s expensive selection of monstrously-talented footballers have been getting just a little bit bored over their long summer break. Poor Le Havre.
Six years ago today — what? six years is retro — Argentina and Germany went toe to toe for the World Cup, and Gonzalo Higuaín had a very big day indeed. First he missed a good chance. Then he scored, and celebrated, and was smothered by the linesman’s flag. And then he got absolutely clattered by Manuel Neuer. It is still a bit weird that the referee only gave a free-kick. And it’s completely bizarre that he gave it to the goalkeeper.
Over the weekend there have been plenty of excellent tribute pieces to the great Jack Charlton, who died on Friday at the age of 85, but we’re going to pick out two. First this from the Athletic (£), by George Caulkin and Phil Hay:
The ethos of Don Revie’s team, the blood-and-guts pact that people loved or hated depending on their perspective, can be traced back to Charlton, the first of that breed at Elland Road. It was said that before he made his first appearance under Raich Carter [in 1955] he asked Carter how he should play. “See how fast their centre-forward can limp,” Carter said and Charlton lived by that advice.
And then this by Miguel Delaney for the Independent, which digs down further into the significance of Charlton in Ireland.
The Irish line most repeated about Italia 90 is from the late sports journalist Con Houlihan. “I missed Italia 90. I was at it.” That was because the country saw scenes of celebration it had never witnessed for anything else. Streets were literally empty for games. The country came to a standstill.
Mason Greenwood’s Manchester United are at home against Southampton, and a win would move them to the heady heights of third place. Oxford United play Wycombe Wanderers in the League One playoff final. And Real Madrid will be beating Granada by one penalty to nil.
Marcus Foley will be here tomorrow to bring you all the fallout from Manchester City vs. The World.