MONDAY'S BIG STORIES

Pep and Mikel bossing it

Oh he’s good. So good that Manchester United fans were leaving at half-time. So good that one fan appearing to wear a Manchester United shirt in the first half wore a Manchester City one in the second half (it’s doing the rounds on Twitter).
Premier League
Guardiola: I'd go back to Barcelona if I thought I was indispensable
29/11/2022 AT 15:08
So good that Roy Keane and Gary Neville were back to their familiar post-match assessments. So good that social media was rife with copycat jokes claiming Keane targeted the wrong body part when looking to injure Alf-Inge Haaland 21 years ago. So good that TWO of his players scored a hat-trick in one match.
We’re talking of course about Pep Guardiola. Yes, he may have two of the most destructive tools in world football at his disposal in Erling Haaland and Kevin De Bruyne, but still you have to know how to use them, and boy does he know how to use them. When all is said and done, perhaps the majority will finally respect his efforts and impact on this league, and while the financial backing is naturally a major factor, yesterday his side made a fellow Big Six, billion-pound-spending (since 2013) team look beyond ordinary to once more expose how big the gulf in Manchester really is.
And, of course, he wasn’t entirely convinced.
"Perfection doesn't exist, it's impossible,” Guradiola said after the 6-3 win. “But we have to try to look for it. We have done well today, but we can do better.”
A City side still striving to find perfection is a terrifying prospect, so too the fact Haaland now has as many hat-tricks in the Premier League as Frank Lampard, Jamie Vardy, Didier Drogba, Son Heung-min and Cristiano Ronaldo, and yet they still find themselves trailing Arsenal in the Premier League table, with Guardiola’s apprentice Mikel Arteta proving his worth against one of world football’s best tacticians on Saturday.
They may have stumbled at United, but beyond that Arsenal have wildly exceeded expectations in winning their other seven league games so far this season, and Saturday’s 3-1 win was as perfect a start to this packed pre-World Cup schedule as they could have asked for, particularly with Liverpool to come on Sunday, at home, in a match where you could now argue they are favourites.

Arteta plays down title talk after Arsenal beat Tottenham in north London derby

This is a cut above the Arsenal we have seen in recent years, and it is a testament to Arteta’s perseverance, particularly when the going got tough this time last year, and also at the end of last season.
Expectations have therefore shifted. Few had them in their predicted top fours, but now that must be the bare minimum. Sure, this City side may yet run away it, but Arsenal may as well carry on believing that they can win it, because even if that results in a close or distant second, that still goes down as a success for Arsenal Football Club.

Out of respect?

When you’re 4-0 down at half-time for the second time this season, do you bring on your five-time Ballon d’Or winning forward who top scored for the club in 2021-22? Or do you leave him on the bench and claim that’s “out of respect” for this career?
Well, Erik ten Hag chose the latter.
“I didn't bring him on out of respect for his big career,” the Dutchman said.

Ten Hag blames 'lack of belief' for thrashing in Manchester derby

“And the other thing, there was then the advantage I could bring Antony Martial on. He needs the minutes but I don't want to point it out like that.”
So that’s how bad it got. So bad that you’re bringing on players who need minutes, rather than making tactical switches that could change the game, and though Martial benefited from this move with two late consolation goals, perhaps that tells us all we need to know about where Ronaldo stands in Ten Hag’s plans.
Jorge Mendes will be back on the blower this week.

Wolves off the Lage

With Go Sober for October starting on the weekend, Wolves are off the drink and searching for a new boss after dismissing Bruno Lage.
In perhaps the nicest sacking statement going, Wolves chairman Jeff Shi said: “Bruno is an excellent coach, a hardworking and dedicated manager, and a warm, wise and honest man.
"He and his staff have been a pleasure to work with throughout their time at Wolves, so it is with much sadness that we have had to make what has been a difficult decision.
“I honestly have no doubts about Bruno’s ability, and I’m sure he will succeed elsewhere, however the team’s form and performances over the last few months mean that we have no choice but to act."
See. Told you it was nice. But after a run of one win in 15 Premier League games, a dismissal is going to happen in this league, while their inability to hit a barn door did not exactly help either.
Not only have they scored just three goals this season, but as pointed out below, even relegated Burnley have outscored them in the top tier going back to April. Are the Midlands teams trying to out-tripe each other this season, or what?

IN THE CHANNELS

Yeah, Messi scoring a free-kick just as the advertising boards switched to GOAT was something, and so was this photo…

RETRO CORNER

Now really, really, someone at Eurosport HQ should be updating this video, made in 2016, adding more memorable Zlatan Ibrahimovic moments to the end of this clip.
It was made to celebrate his 35th birthday, y’see, and well today he’s 41 years young, so if you ask me there are six more potentially glorious moments missing, if someone would pull their finger out…
Shotgun not.

35 of the most Zlatan moments

COMING UP

More Premier League tonight, with a potential Championship 2023-24 match-up as Leicester City host Nottingham Forest. Hey, just saying what we see.
And then tomorrow, the Champions League is back.
Premier League
Guardiola pens new Man City contract to 2025
23/11/2022 AT 10:18
Premier League
Guardiola signs new two-year contract extension at Man City – report
22/11/2022 AT 12:51