Welcome to Heroes and Villains, a place where we look back at the Premier League action and try to figure out where our favourite footballers would fit in the storytelling universe. It would be super boring to just list a bunch of people under those two categories, so for this, we will be incorporating more than just the protagonist/antagonist labels.

In honour of Batman’s 80th anniversary, we are going to look at last week’s action in the Premier League and Champions League through a Gotham-shaped window.

Riddle me this

Holy smokes! I know that we have had the pleasure of viewing some of the best teams in all of Europe facing off on Tuesday and Wednesday (I’d rather not play at all than have to lace up the boots on Thursday), but the match of the week was clearly the showdown featuring two 2018-19 champions – Manchester City and Norwich City. The boys from the Championship came out guns blazing, throwing all of their offensive weapons at Pep’s boys for 90 minutes, indicating to the rest of the league that the only way to beat City is to attack them aggressively or that Daniel Farke had zero tactical ideas heading into the game and the ghosts of Canarie’s glory past helped to intercede to stop an inevitable bloodbath from occurring at Carrow Road. As I sat there watching this contest, absolutely astonished throughout, I felt confused as to how so many football clubs and brilliant tacticians have been blown to pieces by the onslaught of Aguero, Sterling, and KDB in the past two seasons. How in the world could a team who barely went goalless against a pathetic Hammers side two weeks ago derail the most dominant football team in English history?

While The Joker gets the most press amongst Batman’s arch-rivals as being a tricky fella, the true guy that twists the masked hero’s brain the most is The Riddler. In his flashy green suit, he spins Batman’s offensive attacks around so quickly, it leaves Bruce Wayne wondering WTF. Every time Batman faces him, he knows exactly what to expect but just can’t quite figure out how. While The Riddler is eventually defeated, he keeps coming back, attacking more than ever & staying true to his skills no matter how fierce the opposition. 

Just like the master manipulator himself, no one has been able to truly stop the Canaries lighting fast counter in over a calendar year turning manager Daniel Farke and goal-machine Teemu Pukki into household names in the footballing world. This team of nobodies is suddenly running through the Premier League and disrupting the natural order of everything we thought we knew about promoted sides. 

Move over City, there is a new king of mischief in town. 

 

Flip a coin: The Tottenham Hotspur Story

Another season begins, another frustrating time to be a Spurs fan. I just don’t understand this football club. After putting up lame results in the league for months, the International Break seemed to help stabilize the Tottenham lockers room as Spurs demolished Crystal Palace 4-0 this weekend. Spirits were high entering Wednesday’s Champions League opener against Olympiakos, especially after Lucas Moura’s goal gave them a 2-0 lead. I was happy. Life was great. 

And then the team morphed into the 2016-2017 team that lost to Newcastle 5-1 on the last day of the season, allowing Arsenal to leap them in the final table. (Or the team that lost to Newcastle just three weeks ago too, I guess)

I know it is just one match in the group stages. I know that you should feel ok with a draw in a road game. I know several players are just returning from injury and working their way back into the side. But there isn’t much from this performance that makes me feel good about playing a Leicester City team coming off a disappointing loss to United. When you play Davison Sanchez at right-back, I’m not sure I even feel comfortable saying Spurs will beat Colchester United next week in the League Cup. 

How can things have been so good for so long? Was it really that long ago that Harry Kane was dominating opponents with a brace almost every single match? Or when experts gushed over Dele Alli and called him one of the best players in the world under-22? How about when Toby Alderweireld and Jan Vertoghen stifled offences every match, doing almost exactly in the same stuff everyone kisses Virgil Van Dyk’s 🍑 for each week.

I can’t think of a more fitting character to represent North London than Harvey Dent, a.k.a. Two-Face. Dent started out as the hero of Gotham City, a district attorney focused on cleaning up the streets and giving people the safety and justice they deserved. Things were all looking so good for Harvey. He was engaged to Batman’s former flame, brought down the entire mob with timely raids and police activity, and was cruising to a high-level government position. Then he got half his face torched off in acid as a pawn in The Joker’s schemes. Now, he is a truly ruthless villain, seeking vengeance on Batman for the death of his fiance.  

The good guy has gone bad. I think the analogy speaks for itself here.

Well, things could be worse. I guess we could be playing on Thursday’s against East Frankfurt & blowing 2-0 leads to a lifeless Watford team.

 

Fernando’s Revenge


Fernando Llorente, you beautiful middle-aged Spaniard spectacle. You talked your 💩 and you sure as 💩 backed it up. 

After two years backing up Harry Kane at Spurs, Llorente left for Napoli on a free transfer this season. Hard to blame him when he was offered higher wages and more regular playing time for a team on a similar level in the Champions League. But instead of harbouring ill will against his former employer, he decided to extract some retribution in the name of his former club on Tuesday. 

Before his new club, Napoli’s match against Champions League-winning Liverpool, Llorente said, “it was very painful to lose the final, there is a desire for revenge, yes, but it is especially the opportunity to show that we can be at the level of a team as strong as Liverpool,”

It is just amazing to me that this man can constantly find himself in goal-scoring opportunities, especially at his age. The guy is a wonder, getting the job done every time his team needs him.

He is basically a Spanish version of Michael Caine’s Alfred. He somehow can make even the worst situation better. I couldn’t even believe it when I saw the final 2-0 scoreline. My mind started racing. Are Liverpool actually beatable? Are they going to lose in the Group Stage? Is Fernando Llorente the best player I have ever seen play in my life? Or perhaps he is that old sage that knows exactly where to be at any moment.

Let’s be real – Llorente isn’t good anymore. But he cares deeply about Tottenham Hotspur and defeating Liverpool. His revenge goal helped put Napoli up 2-0 against his former teams English rival. I respect the hell out of that, even for a butler.

 

Choking on the ivy

Dear Ross,

What are you even thinking? In what universe did you truly believe you were the best person available to take a penalty kick in this game? I get it. It must be confusing for you. After all those years of people saying that you were the most talented young English player and “one for the future”, it must be shocking to see someone younger than you actually fulfilling that potential at a pretty rapid pace. Yeah, that Tammy Abraham guy is pretty good. I wonder if it would have been a decent plan to let him take that PK, especially since he is the youngest player to score a hat trick for Chelsea in the last 25 years and all. No big deal.

But I have to admit, I loved the confidence. I loved the swagger. Hell, even Jorginho was so impressed he dapped you up for exuding your dominance over the ball. 

Sadly though, confidence doesn’t mean squat in the big show. Batman has dozens of adversaries but there aren’t many much more difficult to defeat than himself. It’s like you, Ross,  can’t get out of his own way. 

You really remind me of one of the most underutilized characters in Batman lore; Poison Ivy. Ivy is a grade-A bad a$$ chick. She looks the part of a sexy supervillain, with her beautiful red hair and rocking bod. She constantly gives Batman and Robin the run-around. 

Well Ross, you remind me of her because she is constantly releasing vines and tentacles to choke her opponents. Except in this scenario, she is choking you or choking yourself. 

Ross, there was once a sad time when I wished we have spent adequate Monday on you bit now, you are an absolute shell of yourself. I wish to say nothing bad about you. Bit it’s just so easy. Mainly because you are terrible.

Sincerely,

Every football fan in the country

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Until next week, just remember that we can all be a hero. Except you, Davison Sanchez. Perhaps you shouldn’t play right back anymore.