TUESDAY’S BIG STORIES
Graham Potter: genius or fraud?
In our age of technology, where we can even hear what Mars sounds like, it seems silly that we still hand out a blanket three points for a win regardless of the performance. If we used a fairer method - expected goals (xG), expected goals against (xGA) and expected points (xPTS) we would have an improved Premier League table.
Ronaldo tells Juventus he is staying - report
Using this method, Manchester City would be nine points clear of Chelsea at the top, with Manchester United and Liverpool completing the top four. And in fifth place? That would be Brighton & Hove Albion.
You see, Brighton are basically a PG version of Russian roulette: all of the threat with none of the devastation. They carve out chance after chance, the xG-o-meter siren constantly blaring, and then concede to a last-gasp Christian Benteke goal and end up losing to a Crystal Palace side that had 22 fewer shots.
Instead of dreaming of trips to Qarabag and Viktoria Plzen in Europe, there is a very real chance that Brighton will be carving out 100 chances in the Championship next season. And still losing 1-0.
We can draw two different conclusions from this. One, Graham Potter is the ultimate stat-padder, your mate on FIFA who shoots from the halfway line a couple of times and then claims to have "dominated". The second is that he is a genius surrounded by dross, a perfect appointment for a team that has attacking players but plays defensively... a team that is currently devoid of inspiration and whose manager refuses to accept fault. Sadly, no one springs to mind, so Potter's pain at Brighton must go on.
Premier League footballers banned from Waitrose
Sort of. The Athletic are reporting that Premier League players will have to follow the same rules as everyone else in England – with the exception of training and matches – when returning home from away trips in the Champions League and Europa League. From the report:
There were previously no specific restrictions placed on club personnel arriving back to Britain having been involved in Champions League, Europa League and international ties outside the UK. But according to fresh guidelines, they will have to quarantine in the same way as any other member of the public and will only be permitted to leave home when entering their elite sporting environment.
That means a mandatory 10-day quarantine, or more likely five days with proof of a negative test. So no supermarkets. No walks. And certainly no haircuts. This shouldn't have huge ramifications with the majority of players residing in super-mansions, or at least a pleasant detached house, although we can look forward to a glut of "High-profile footballer BREACHES lockdown" headlines.
It also adds extra incentive to smash the first leg of a European tie, when at home, allowing players to make a case for skipping the travelling party for the return leg. Then again, breaches carry a maximum fine of 'only' £10,000 - half of what Chelsea players are fined for missing the start of training.
Ronaldo keeps on going
Across a glittering career in youth and adult football, the Warm-Up has scored three headed goals on the amateur circuit. One was an own goal. So we can only sit back and admire as Cristiano Ronaldo netted the 132nd and 133rd headers of his career as Juventus reignited their Serie A title push on Monday night.
Sadly, Premier Sports only tweeted his first goal - the poorer of his two nods - so you'll have to do some searching through the channels of piracy to see his best effort.
Ronaldo has now hit 25 goals for 14 seasons on the spin. We might be moving into the era of Kylian Mbappe and Erling Haaland, but there's still plenty of fight left in this dog yet.
IN OTHER NEWS
We thought nothing could surprise us after a tumultuous 12 months. And then suddenly, bam. Nigel Pearson and Joey Barton at the helm of Bristol's biggest clubs. We just need City to get relegated, or Rovers promoted, for the most unlikely of match-ups.
Until they meet on the pitch, we have to award bragging rights solely on their announcement videos. And it's quite clearly 1-0 Bristol City.
IN THE CHANNELS
We know that our lives will one day be ruined by deep fake technology, but until then bask in the delights of Neil Lennon as Edith Piaf.
The problem isn’t so much the volume of football – as ever, you can watch whatever you want. Rather it’s the thinness and the ubiquity, football flattened out and reconstituted and smeared all over us like meat spread. The time we used to spend anticipating or reliving football is now simply filled with more football: auto-playing, mutating, manspreading. Already the flavours have become largely indistinguishable from each other: Barclays into Carabao into Gazprom, the usual rhythms and rituals of the week replaced with a sort of footballing insomnia. You can never truly sleep, but nor will you ever be entirely awake.
Jonathan Liew in the Guardian on the never-ending stream of football. Seriously, could we have one day off please?
No, we didn't mean today. Two decent clashes in the Champions League: Atletico Madrid v Chelsea and Lazio v Bayern.
Marcus Foley is that mate on FIFA. Don't ever play him.
'Imbecile' - Real boss caught mocking Ronaldo and Mourinho in leaked audio
Southgate set for knighthood in New Year Honours list – Paper Round