I know, I’ve kept you waiting.
All this football this weekend and barely a peep or a mock from this end.
But why spread the butter thin when you can whack it all on in one big dollop eh?
And that, reader, that is what I am doing for you today.
We have Champions League. We have Europa League. We have Premier League and we have transfer rumours.
All in one day, all in one piece.
And if that hasn’t convinced you I didn’t surreptitiously take a couple of days away from writing this column, what will?
No, it wasn’t the Old Trafford game. Silly reader.
Manchester City were made to work in a way that must baffle onlooking Premier League teams as Lyon got through their group matches unbeaten (albeit over two games) against Peppy G’s all-stars. Guardiola admitted Lyon were the toughest team they’ve played yet, primarily as they beat City at the Etihad and then held them to a 2-2 draw in France. Not that it really matters, of course. City are through to the round of 16 and as Peppy G said, they don’t have to think about it again until February which suggests what kind of team they might field in their final group match.
Over at United, never ever be a water-bottle carrier near Jose Mourinho. Social media went into meme meltdown following Jose’s dramatic reaction to Fellaini’s last-minute winner against Young Boys. Yes, United needed the Big Tree, who has had his branches trimmed, to pop up with a hotly disputed winner that sees United through to the next round. They weren’t too happy in Valencia, I can tell you, pointing out quite correctly that it is a little bit varcial that VAR is not used in this competition.
The bigger concern has to be that United went 180 minutes against Palace and Young Boys without scoring at if it wasn’t for David de Gea in both matches could well have lost each.
Remember how we mocked Mourinho for suggesting if he’d been able to bring Fellaini on with 20 minutes to go in the Manchester Derby City would have been in all kinds of strife? Well, this is what he meant, right?
The United-o-meter is very much swinging back towards ‘this is dull, dull, dull so Jose out!’ and the best news the fans will have had this week is not that Jose has had that haircut but the fact that De Gea is likely to see an option on his contract activated, meaning he has to put up with this for another 18 months. Even better news seems to have arrived in the fact that Alexis Sanchez is out injured with a hamstring problem now. It was probably that fridge in the changing room.
Wednesday night saw Liverpool labeled ‘butchers’ by their own manager and Tottenham open up that door of hope for their fans which will, surely, get slammed back in their face when they lose to Barcelona next time out.
Jurgen Klopp probably had a point to call out PSG for their onfield antics in his side’s 2-1 defeat. When PSG decided to play they were electric and a totally different side to the one that played at Anfield on the opening night of the Champions League.
But when it came to rolling around and earning Liverpool some yellow cards, it can only be that Neymar has been leading those training sessions. Liverpool didn’t even commit the worst foul of the night, that honour going to Veratti who must have been saved by the fact that Joe Gomez didn’t roll around as if he was wearing a PSG shirt.
Tuchel’s side were better than Liverpool though and Kloppo’s team have now lost each of their away games in Europe this season and face a massive task to go through.
As for Tottenham, it is normally them letting in late goals to cost them matches and, if you go back to the last clash between Spurs and Inter, it is normally the Italians snatching victory in the dying moments. Christian Eriksen didn’t actually leave it that late to score the winning goal, it coming in the 80th minute, but with only a victory meaning Tottenham kept a faint heartbeat in their Champions League life the length of time it took them to score felt like an eternity.
The Poch is confident Spurs can beat Barcelona in the Camp Nou which means he has clearly wiped the Wembley match from his memory.
Remember the name Callum Hudson-Odoi and then file it next to Ruben Loftus-Cheek under ‘talented Chelsea players only seen in the Europa League’. The young Englishman scored his first senior goal for the club in an easy 4-0 win over PAOK that saw even Giroud and Morata score in the same actual match.
Young Englishmen were all over the show for Arsenal as they beat Vorskla 3-0 in minus ten conditions. Joe Willock scored. Emile Smith-Rowe scored. Eddie Nketiah was excellent. Three other kids came off the bench and did well. Could it just be that Unai Emery is the new George Graham? Watch this space.
Let’s have a look at some transfer chat before casting our eyes ahead to the Premier League action this weekend.
With Tottenham turning Moussa Sissoko into a slightly bigger version of Ngolo Kante in the last fortnight it has suddenly made Mousa Dembele surplus to the midfield requirements. His contract is up in the summer meaning he could go on a free which has instantly set off the notification on the Juventus Free Agent Mobile Phone.
As if the PSG front three doesn’t have enough personality to clash, Alexis Sanchez wants to get in on the act. The United bit-part winger is massively unhappy at Old Trafford and would happily move to Paris if they pay him enough and pick him ahead of the likes of Neymar, Mbappe and Cavani. Of course they will, Alexis.
It says here that Bayern Munich have picked up on this Bundesliga trend of signing young English players and happened to be watching Chelsea vs PAOK last night. That means Callum Hudson-Odoi will be heading in their direction in January then.
There are many Premier League teams at the bottom of the table in need of goals and Liverpool have a goalscorer in need of matches. All that adds up to Dominic Solanke heading out on loan in the next window with Huddersfield, Palace, West Ham and Newcastle keen on the frontman. Wagner is best mates with Jurgen, in case you had forgotten, which might just seal that deal.
Southampton are believed to be chatting up available managers as they’ve come to the conclusion that letting Mark Hughes turn them into the new Stoke City is not a good business model. Yet, in their wisdom, they might turn to Paulo Sousa instead who doesn’t instantly grab me as the man you need in a relegation crisis. Personally, after all their moaning about Whispering Claude, I think that Southampton deserve at least 18 months of Sam Allardyce.
What do we have this weekend then?
Could Everton take advantage of Liverpool licking some PSG shaped wounds and get their first Anfield Premier League win since goodness knows when? People are suggesting so, but one thing that is true with Everton is that they aren’t too used to being expected to win and normally don’t when this is the case.
The North London Derby looks a bit tasty this time, eh? If Bournemouth are ‘too physical’ for Mesut Ozil I can’t see Emery throwing him in against Sissoko, Wanyama, Alli, Dier et al. That said, he will probably play and do quite well. He cannot be worse than Micky-T at the moment.
Oooh, Ranieri back at the Bridge? You have to love how these fixtures work out. Chelsea lost their first Premier League game last weekend and Ranieri won on his debut. Both teams are terrible at the back meaning there will be goals.
Bet on 0-0.