Let’s get right to it, shall we?
Game of the Week
Manchester United vs Liverpool
Super Sunday saw two clashes that had top billing – Manchester United were taking on Liverpool, and Manchester City were being asked to show Arsenal mercy. Despite Mancini’s much-publicized troubles with his teething enfant terrible Mario Balotelli, Manchester City have always found a way to put their troubles behind them on the field. It helped, in no small measure, that they were playing those eternal surrenderers Arsenal.
So it was Manchester United and Liverpool that provided the fireworks this weekend, even if it took until the second half for Liverpool to arrive, after Brendan Rodgers was done explaining his philosophy to them. Robin van Persie scored his side’s opener, while their second was credited simultaneously to both Evra and Vidic just so that Sir Alex Ferguson could collect his winnings from betting agents William Hill. Sturridge offered a brief flicker of hope – not a euphemism for his career at Chelsea – with a goal in the second half but it wasn’t enough to keep United from grabbing all 3 points.
The Most Obvious Trojan Horse of the Week
Jon Walters (Stoke City)
When one of your forwards offers to put in a defensive shift, it’s either because he really loves the team or because he’s secretly on the payroll of your opponents, and looking out for an opportunity to make a “mistake” [wink wink]. Now, of course, we’re not saying Jon Walters’ was wearing blue underneath the striped toothpase-inspired Stoke kit he normally wears. What we’re saying is, in the light of his worst day as a player, even Walters probably wonders if that were secretly true.
Channeling Manchester United’s former best striker in Wayne Rooney’s absence, Own Goal, Walters sauntered back to his goal, bravely held back his team and other Chelsea players as he headed the ball into his own net twice. To make matters worse, when Stoke finally earned a break courtesy a welcome penalty, Walters decided his day wasn’t horrendous enough and promptly offered to handle the delicate task of taking it. Since delicate situations are hardly the strong suit of Tony Pulis’ bone-shattering brigade, he received no resistance. Walters then made a mockery of Petr Cech by sending the ball out of the stadium into orbit, as the Chelsea custodian was left red-faced at trying to stop a non-existent attempt and pretended to be relieved.
We’re surprised Chelsea supporters didn’t rent the air with chants of “sign him up”.
[In all seriousness, we feel for Jon. It couldn’t have been easy walking off that pitch after such a bad day]
The “Oops! I Did It Again” Moment of the Week
John Terry (Chelsea)
Making his way back into the side, after a 16 week stint keeping better halves around the world company, John Terry certainly hoped to make a mark on his return. In all fairness, all John Terry needed to do was spend the entire game avoiding the ball, and he’d still be rated higher than Luiz – who was so toxic as a defender they turned him into a midfielder – and Ivanovic – whose performances against Swansea inspired Walters – and Gary Cahill – who flees every crucial game and hangs out at the pediatric ward.
Still, Terry managed to nearly wreck his special day, by clattering into half a dozen Stoke players inside the penalty box and daring the referee to point to the spot. When the referee obliged, Terry was stunned and marked the moment with the same expression he had when he was sent off after kneeing and permanently – for a minute – hobbling Barcelona’s Alexis Sanchez in the Champions League semi-final.
The ‘People In Glass Houses’ Moment of the Week
Andre Villas-Boas (Tottenham Hotspur)
Villas-Boas is no longer associated with Chelsea FC. The reason this disclaimer preceeds this and every other reference to the Portuguese tactician is because you wouldn’t know it by his actions. He spends all his waking hours complaining about the atmosphere at Chelsea, seemingly forgetting that come season-end Chelsea will have gone through two other managers after him. As the Barclays Premier League tried their best to distract him with a rattle and a Premier League Manager of the Month award, Villas-Boas persisted with his moaning.
Complaining that Chelsea prized results over everything else, unlike all the other clubs that just want to have a good time on the field, Villas-Boas forgot to turn up against Harry Redknapp’s QPR. Tottenham, currently 1 point ahead of Chelsea but having played a game more, now sit in 4th spot and holding onto it in the fight of their lives. Villas-Boas has promised to refocus his priorities after TPing Roman Abramovich’s yacht over the weekend.
Goal of the Week
James Milner (Manchester City)
We’re done ragging on poor ol’ Jon Walters. We’re going to resist the temptation to credit Manchester United’s second goal – the mother of all whodunnits – with the honor. Or even to Lampard’s powerfully delivered slap in the face to Roman Abramovich … ‘s minions. [We are terrified of the consequences of poking fun directly at the oligarch].
Instead we’re going to give it to James Milner, for holding onto a place in a squad that’s far more gifted than he ought to be in, with a superb goal taken from an incredibly difficult angle. It helped that Arsenal, with its 10 men thanks to Koscielny’s sending off, offered little by way of resistance as Silva and Tevez played the ball up for Milner to take out all his years of frustration at having had to play for Aston Villa and fighting off Livepool’s attempts to acquire him on loan.
Substitution of the Week
Adam Le Fondre (Reading)
The substitution of the week has to be Adam Le Fondre, who despite not starting as often as he’d like, kept his cool and his team’s interests in mind, inspiring them to a surprising comeback against high-achieving West Bromwich Albion. Le Fondre was gracious in his post-match comments, reminding Brian McDermott of his ability to play up front in the Royals’ preferred 4-5-1 formation, without sounding overtly bitter.
Team of the Week
The usual suspects, from the Big 3, make their way into our team picks for the week. Romelu Lukaku impressed with two goals, which might have translated into more had he not hit the woodwork twice. Clint Hill and Ryan Nelsen deserve credit for shutting out Tottenham Hotspur, in yet another display of just how seriously the Rangers take bigger opponents. Begovic, in goal, might seem like an unlikely choice after letting in 4 goals, but without him Chelsea might well have scored 7 or more. It’s all relative, you see.