MONDAY’S BIG STORIES

Penchester City

Premier League
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Remember last season, when Manchester City’s title defence fell apart because their defence kept mysteriously vanishing for no apparent reason? Early days for the new campaign, but the Warm-Up is starting to suspect that the team hasn’t quite fixed that particular issue. Three penalties. Three.

Where to put the blame is a matter of personal preference. Obviously Kyle Walker, Eric Garcia, and Benjamin Mendy all put their own personal spin on the same very, very bad decision: don’t try and tackle somebody that’s already past you, lads. It won’t end well. Fernandinho doesn’t look himself, and didn’t last 90 minutes; Rodri just doesn’t bring the same level of judiciously-applied evil.

Or perhaps Pep Guardiola got out-thought, just a little. Leicester clogged up the midfield, kept Phil Foden and Kevin De Bruyne quiet, and let Jamie Vardy terrify the life out of that skittish defence. You can understand Brendan Rodgers feeling just a little pleased with himself:

I think to beat Manchester City you’ve got to run like hell. You have to have that mentality you’re going to have to work. I thought there was real good tactical discipline, we showed our quality and played the system very well. An absolutely brilliant result.

Tactically speaking, having James Maddison score a glorious dipping piledriver, and Vardy score a … backheel chip? is that even a thing? … was pretty smart too.

It’s probably not a surprise that City, along with Manchester United and Wolves, have made a wobbly start to the new season: they haven’t had much of a preseason, and apparently such things are important. Improvement should come, then, and Ruben Dias is on his way too. It’s just a shame that Leicester and Everton will be 20 points clear by then.

‘It is hard to accept’ – Pep Guardiola on Leicester drubbing

Very Accurate Refereeing

Never a free kick. Might have been a shove in Eric Dier’s back. Presumably not offside, given all that faffing around with the lines, but pretty close. And a handball by the letter of the law but, at the same time, a pretty good illustration of why the law’s letters might be the wrong letters, in the wrong order.

The game’s gone, said the nation in unison. And José Mourinho, man of the people that he is, set off down the tunnel to find it. Even Steve Bruce seemed a little embarrassed at the manner of his side’s burglary.

I can understand why Spurs will go berserk … It is a total nonsense. We should be jumping through hoops but I would be devastated if that was us.

This Premier League season was already going to be an odd one, thanks to the late start, the heavily squeezed calendar, and the wave of injuries that will surely follow. And now it’s going to be “that first season they gave all those handballs”. Weird things are going to happen. Second-string defenders desperately trying to hide their arms; over-promoted under-18s trying to ping the ball off their hands. Perhaps this is the season that will need the asterisk.

A marriage made in hell

Title races are nice, sure, but football’s really about the #narrative. And there’s the potential for a cracker this season in La Liga, as Luis Suarez takes his terrible revenge. Furious at being forced out of Camp Nou, the old supervillain teams up with other notable monsters Diego Costa and Diego Simeone and just straight up ruins everybody’s year.

Like Suicide Squad, but with better acting.

Anyway, if it is going to happen, he got off to a decent start. On as a substitute for 20 minutes, Suarez scored twice, made one, and won a penalty. Briefly. Until VAR said no. All things considered, there have been worse first impressions, and Costa seems excited by his new teammate.

He is very good, one of us can do the fighting and the other can do the biting. We are very lucky to have Luis, I don’t understand how Barca could have let him leave.

Don’t worry, Diego. Nobody understands Barcelona’s decision making.

IN OTHER NEWS

“Just like Gordon Banks. From Pelé. You know the one. Cross from the right. Big header. Has to score: no! Got down to it, got the ball up and over. Just like Gordon Banks.”

“Aye. Sure it was. Gordon Banks. Of course.”

RETRO CORNER

It’s been 16 years since Alex Ferguson first looked at a blank teamsheet, lifted up his fountain pen, and wrote “Wazza” at the top of it. Ferguson’s reward that day was a hat-trick against Fenerbahçe, the first goals of Rooney’s march to becoming United’s all-time leading scorer.

Although if you think about it, he kind of underachieved from this point on. Three goals a game, 497 starts … he should have got 1,491. And that’s not counting substitute appearances. Disappointing all round.

HAT TIP

Kenny made several saves to frustrate City but could not stop Sergio Agüero’s title-winning goal in stoppage time. People tried to blame me for that, he says. Yes, if we’re nitpicking, could I have taken another half-step to my left? Maybe, but come on, he’s thrashed it from seven or eight yards, it was past me before I could move. I hold my hand up to mistakes but that wasn’t a mistake.

If you missed it over the weekend, it’s worth having a look at this interview with Paddy Kenny, by Paul Doyle for the Guardian. Fair to say he had a pretty eventful time of it.

COMING UP

A big test for Mikel Arteta’s new look Arsenal, as they face champions Liverpool in a game that isn’t the Community Shield and therefore actually matters. Winner gets to join Leicester and Everton in the title race. Loser gets an early crisis.

Assuming Pep Guardiola hasn’t drafted him in as emergency left-back cover, Marcus Foley will be here tomorrow

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