DANCING WITH WOLVES
Humanity has long since established that there is nothing quite like the English Premier League, which is different from every other league that is almost identical to it by virtue of pronouncing itself as such more loudly than them, more often than them. It has more tradition than Tevye, more thrills than Thriller and more mythology than mythology itself – chances are, you’re choking up while reading this, and rightly so.
And there is nothing more English than a Monday night clash between famed purveyors of morality, Manchester City, and Jorge Mendes FC, an absolute paragon of red-hot “THIS LEAGUE” action. When Stan Cullis said: “You only have the one life and I gave mine to Wolves,” little did he know that, one fine day, his sacrifice and love would be dwarfed by that of a Portuguese superhero with a sharp suit, devastating rolodex and colossal income, who for some inexplicable but palpably altruistic reason had always felt tremendous affinity to the Wulfrunian way of life. Where other Mr 15%s deal in bullsh!t, he deals in Bullsteve; when they drink up jars, he drinks in Matt Jarvis; and while they cook their tea, he Paul Cooks it. Kenny Hibbitt? Yes he can!
Mendes FC will, though, attack Monday night’s game without the services of Diogo Jota, who is now a Liverpool player. To simpletons, losing so good a player might seem like a blow to the Molineux club, but in reality the reverse is so: the eponymous Mendes can now use his cut of the transfer fee to embroider his personal bank account, before bringing another player into the club, for another cut of another transfer fee, to embroider that same bank account. Everyone’s a winner, baby.
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QUOTE OF THE DAY
“Oscar’s really inquisitive, he was enjoying himself and running up and down the pitch, he wasn’t distressed – a couple of players said he was our man of the match” – Carlton Athletic chief suit John Flynn assesses the performance of a pitch-invading alpaca in their 2-0 defeat by Ilkley Town. Of course, that was not the only pitch-meandering animal of the weekend …
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“Fiver Pop quiz: Which goalkeeper was bought for €80m only 15 months after their top-flight debut and yet somehow cost more than Alisson (Becker not Moyet), more than double Ederson or Courtois and more than six times what Ter-Stegen cost? Yes, of course it’s Kepa Arrizabalaga Revuelta (whose last name incidentally translates as ‘revolt’). After his latest debacle it’s difficult to see where he goes from here once his replacement comes in but as the great sage Wilson recently said about James/Hames/Hamez Rodríguez ‘when the world stops waiting for you to become what it seemed you once could be, when you are written off with a dismissive shrug as a could-have-been then, in England at least, there are really only two places you can go: West Ham or Everton’” – Noble Francis.
“Why do football commentators keep apologising if ‘inappropriate’ language is heard in an empty stadium? The language may well be ‘bad’, but in most cases it seems to be entirely appropriate” – John Murphy.
“In Friday’s Fiver, you link to an article in which Nick Ames claims that Arsenal’s Gabriel has ‘a sweet left foot’, and it prompted me to ask a question I’ve always wanted to ask: is there some sort of legal obligation in the football world to say that every left-footed player has a ‘sweet’ or ‘cultured’ left foot? Basically, it seems that every left-footed player is absolutely amazing at kicking a ball with his left foot. Shouldn’t that be assumed? Next week, I’ll ask if there is a similar law regarding referring to every young player as a ‘talented youngster’. I mean, I guess the crap youngsters tend not to get a look in, after all” – Chris Jersan.
NEWS, BITS AND BOBS
Ilkay Gündogan has tested positive for Covid-19 and will self-isolate for 10 days. Meanwhile, Pep Guardiola says he wants to stay at Manchester City beyond next summer but, sounding like a 1990s L’Oréal advert, he says he will only do so if he’s worth it. “I am going to see if I deserve it this season in terms of how the club goes forward and improves,” he blabbed.
Frank Lampard’s Chelsea manager Frank Lampard reckons the only way calamitous keeper Kepa Arrizabalaga will improve is with his backing. “Players need support, particularly from myself … now we’ve got to try to give him confidence,” parped Lamps, while watching Édouard Mendy’s highlights reel.
Dele Alli’s musketeer stylings may not be in vain, with Spurs understood to have offered the midfielder to PSG on loan.
Les Ferdinand has defended QPR’s decision not to take the knee before their Championship fixture against Coventry on Friday, saying the gesture has become “little more than good PR.”
Big Phil Neville has praised Fran Kirby’s successful return to the England squad after recovering from debilitating pericarditis, a swelling of the fluid-filled sac around her heart. “Seeing Fran in an England shirt was unbelievable,” boomed Neville.
And Luke Shaw has come up with a novel way for Manchester United to catch up with their rivals. “I think we need more players to strengthen the squad,” he trilled, as a cartoon lightbulb hovered over his head. United have seemingly taken his advice by … going after a new left-back.
STILL WANT MORE?
Andrea Pirlo went straight from the classroom to the dugout to mastermind a maiden Juventus victory over Sampdoria, writes Nicky Bandini.
Ten things, baby.
Sean Ingle bangs the VAR drum, runs the data and spells out why going to Stockley Park has been good for the game.
FC Hollywood are back and began with a Bundesliga blockbuster, with Leroy Sané shining brightly. Andy Brassell reports.
Sid Lowe on Real Madrid, David Silva and La Liga’s golden oldies.
Kepa Arrizabalaga has not been helped by Frank Lampard at Frank Lampard’s Chelsea, says Jonathan Wilson.
In Ligue Unnnnn, Michel Der Zakarian and Téji Savanier are making Montpellier marvellous.
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