After the post-match tunnel shenanigans of Sunday evening, it’s back to the comparative mundanity of actual football. Boo! Punches and bottles of semi-skimmed are unlikely to be thrown outside the dressing rooms of Turf Moor, Selhurst Park or the John Smith’s before the first three matches of this midweek round of Premier League fixtures get under way and with no pantomime Portuguese troll in charge of any of the six teams involved, we’ll be forced to look to the on-field action for kicks and giggles.
Having provided no shortage of them – giggles more than meaningful kicks – last Saturday, Christian Benteke will be hoping to make amends for the late penalty miss for which he has since apologised to his team-mates. Without a goal in 869 minutes of football and with a string of incredible misses to his name already this season, the Belgian used his last vestige of confidence to decide he was the man to secure all three points for Palace despite not being their designated penalty-taker, only to enrage his already infuriated team-mates by sending the ball trundling straight at Asmir Begovic and making it 870. “At the moment Benteke, as far as everyone’s concerned, is some sort of pantomime villain,” roared Mr Roy in his presser before Tuesday’s match against Watford. “Oh no he isn’t!” replied the assembled hacks.
Meanwhile oop north in yonder Winterfell, Burnley and Huddersfield will be trying to prevent Stoke City and Chelsea from turning their post-match amps up to a celebratory 11. A win for Burnley would catapult them into the Big Cup places for 24 hours at least and against the most porous defence in the top flight it is a task that should not be beyond them. “Sometimes you need a reality check, and to understand how our results and performances affect people,” soothed Stoke boss Ailsa from Home and Away, who along with his players was greeted by an angry mob of torch- and pike-waving locals when they returned from their weekend shellacking at Spurs. “It’s good we have a game because it is still fresh in their ears probably and they can use it as a motivating factor.”
Across the county border, Huddersfield will be hoping to consign Chelsea to their second consecutive defeat in a match Terriers manager David Wagner has likened to a cup tie. “It’s like a cup tie,” he said. Increasingly frustrated that his football team have to demean themselves by playing actual football matches, opposite number Antonio Conte has been complaining about Chelsea’s fixture list again. “For sure, it is difficult because to face a game every three days is not simple, especially if your squad is not big,” sobbed the Italian, whose club currently has 17 players aged 20 or over out on loan at other clubs.
BITS AND BOBS
Pep Guardiola and José Mourinho have both profusely apologised for the ruckus in the tunnel after Sunday’s Manchester derby and promised it would nev … no, can’t do it, nearly made it to the end with a straight face there. Obviously, they were both fairly belligerent when asked about the whole affair and refused to back down.
Arsène Wenger would like footballers to be more like sumo wrestlers. He’s got a point: if the sight of Wayne Rooney dressed only in one of those loincloth things doesn’t bring the viewers in, then nothing will.
Sam Allardyce plans to shove his Everton players into a dazzling white room, shine a big light in their eyes and ask them if they’re interested in staying at Goodison. No word on what he’ll do if they say “no”, but the possibilities are both endless and terrifying.
Swansea have solemnly announced that Manchester City can play music at whatever volume they like after completing the formalities of their 9-1 victory at the Liberty Stadium on Wednesday. “There is no set rule of playing music in dressing rooms,” a Swans mouthpiece intoned. No word on what brand of milk they’re serving yet.
Cardiff boss Neil Warnock is still feeling salty after being dismissed before his team came back from 2-0 down to draw at Reading. “It’s the first time I’ve been sent off for asking a fourth official in a sensible way about a player arching their back,” he tooted. “I called him over and I suppose the referee is going to enjoy that, isn’t he? It’s his big night.”
And we regret to inform you that the statue makers are at it again.