Heroes and Zeros

Far from the bright lights of the Premier League, something stirred in a cave, deep under the surface of the earth. News travels fast, even if you’re a dinosaur stuck in the Stone Age in a parallel universe. And this news had the potential to breathe new life into fossils that somehow keep finding their way to the surface every few months. Mad Mark Hughes only managed to draw with Manchester United, and that turned out to be an embarrassment even Southampton wouldn’t tolerate. And thus, Mad Mark became the first man to be sacked by two clubs in the same year. And while Allardyce, Moyes and co. begin their annual journey towards the earth’s surface and into the offices of desperate Premier League chairmen, let’s see what the others were up to over the weekend.

Heroes

Arsenal: When the going got tough, Arsenal did the unthinkable. Unlike previous iterations which would have wilted at the slightest sign of pressure, this Arsenal kept their heads up and bared their cojones. That sight was enough to put the fear of God into Spurs and triggered a meltdown that can only be described as Spursy.

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang: Imagine how many goals he could score if he stopped missing sitters.

Liverpool: They all count, even the ones scored in the flukiest of fashions.

Divock Origi: He still exists, apparently, a relic of the Brendan Rodgers banter era.

Manchester City: Thank u, next.

Chelsea: They had to huff and puff, but they finally blew the Cottagers down.

Ruben Loftus-Cheek: It’s all coming together nicely for him to go out on loan to Crystal Palace in January.

Chicharito: The Little Pea may not be getting as much game time as he’d like, but when the ball is in the area, there are few better finishers than him. One might say it’s easy-peasy.

Crystal Palace: It was only Burnley, but the Eagles finally broke their winless streak. A few more of these and Palace supporters might be able to spend their Christmas not praying for a miracle.

Andros Townsend: Gareth, Gareth, call him up!

Cardiff: There’s life in this one.

Zeros

Mark Hughes: It’s finally happened. After months of abject failure, angry scowling on the touchline and non-handshakes, Southampton – in a moment of rare clarity – decided they’d seen enough drama to last a lifetime. Perhaps it’s time Hughes picks up a map and charts a course towards the same cave from where his unemployed peers are about to emerge.

Jose Mourinho: His team may have snatched an unlikely draw, but it is clear he is no longer the captain of that ship. Perhaps Ed Woodward should have a word with his official paper supplier, his official printer partner and start working on Mourinho’s P45.

Jordan Pickford: In Madrid, a tall, lanky goalkeeper broke into a smile when he saw the short, English goalkeeper hand all three points to Liverpool in the Merseyside Derby. Then he went back to sobbing over his own sorry state. Get up and play with your kids, Thibaut.

Huddersfield: Going down, barring a Christmas miracle.

Tottenham: One week you’re hot, next week you’re not. It’s the Tottenham way.

Eric Dier: As any FIFA player will tell you, never goad your opponent while there’s still time to be played.

Wolves: It’s about time they bared their teeth and stopped making our pre-season predictions look utterly stupid.

Burnley: The perfect case study in Brexit fallout – it all went to shit when they went out of Europe.

Fulham: Ranieri has his work cut out, but if he keeps them up, it will be a feat almost as impressive as winning the title with Leicester. Or, maybe not. No one cares if Fulham go down, really.