Dear reader, I think there is only one person who has been busier than me this weekend and that is the Manchester United physio dealing with all those injuries in the Premier League game against Liverpool.
Had this been late 2018, the obvious funny football news would have been how he’d had more of an influence on proceedings than Paul Pogba etc, etc, but not on Sunday.
But the funniest bit of this weekend ended up being at Wembley where Chelsea goalkeeper Kepa refused to be substituted by his manager Maurizio Sarri in what turned out to be another embarrassing defeat for the Chelsea manager.
Was Kepa struggling with an injury or was it to be a tactical move? Big Willy Caballero was stripped and ready to come on the for penalty shoot-out but Kepa literally stood his ground and refused to leave the pitch.
At one point, it looked like Sarri had jacked it all in as he was heading down the Wembley tunnel only to come back and be restrained by Antonio Rudiger as it looked like the coach might do some damage to the world record fee inducing shot-stopper.
If I learned anything from watching the Godfather as a kid, it was never annoy an Italian who smokes a lot. And hey, think of those people who were worried about whether Kepa could adapt to that Chelsea dressing room, eh?
But hey, we’ll come on to the result a little bit later. Of the League Cup Final, I mean. Not the argument between those two.
At Old Trafford, Ander Herrera and Juan Mata had to be replaced early in the match with Marcus Rashford hopefully looking over to the bench to see whether they’d noticed how he was hobbling around. Jesse Lingard came on us as the second substitute and had to go off again before half time meaning we finally saw Alexis Sanchez. I mean, how out of favour is the Chilean right now? Andreas Pereira got on the pitch before him. Jesse Lingard, clearly not fit, got on the pitch before him. That said, what does all this say about the £50m Brazilian Fred? Scott McTominay and Pereria were trusted more than the Brazilian in the absence of Nemanja Matic and Herrera and, frankly, Pereria isn’t living up to his potential.
The weird juxtaposition was the perennially injured Daniel Sturridge coming on for Robert Firmino in the first half and finishing the match unscathed. If I’d told you four players had gone off, you’d have put money on him being one of them.
The game at Old Trafford had a fair amount of huff and puff but not many shots on goal. Liverpool fans might start getting a little jittery, thinking that they really should have been beating a weakened United side if they are to go on and win the title. Actually, they’re probably right. Jurgen Klopp was caught immediately after the final whistle giving his assessment to Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and he didn’t say, ‘wow what a great game!’ that is for sure.
Still, at least we got to see Graeme Souness in all his glory on Sky.
Unsurprisingly, Chelsea made a slightly better fist of it against Man City at Wembley. They managed to keep them out for a whole X this time, even if it did look like a defence versus attack training session to begin with.
Credit to Chelsea though, they clearly fancied a cup final more than a meaningless Premier League match as they showed some of that ‘character and desire’ Maurizio Sarri has been banging on about. Suddenly Sarriball doesn’t look like a complete waste of time when the players decide to put in a shift. It’s almost as if they don’t respect him.
In the end, City retained the League Cup by winning the penalty shoot-out. Raheem Sterling annoyed the Daily Mail once again by netting the decisive spot-kick and Kepa probably should have saved all five if he wanted to save face.
It’s nice to see that Chelsea brought in Gonzalo Higuain for the big moments, though. The Argentine was behind Jorginho, Ederson and David Luiz on the shoot-out list.
All in all, it wasn’t the most Super of Sundays. Barely a shot was mustered from four of the top sides in the country and I am including Jorginho’s penalty in that.
So, Tottenham’s title bid, which was already over really, was supposed to have been really over when Harry Kane did his ankle in several weeks ago. Tottenham’s results since that injury? A 100% record, putting them on the outskirts of Titleshire once again. Kane returns against Burnley and guess what? They lose! It doesn’t matter though, right? Because Harry scored and that’s the most important thing.
I jokingly suggested a couple of weeks back that Spurs are actually better without their number nine. I’m not even sure I am joking now.
Unai Emery will be feeling slightly happier having survived the Europa League banana skin against BATE and now beaten Southampton. Mesut Ozil was out, again, despite being quite good on Thursday night. It didn’t matter though, as Arsenal won 2-0 to keep the pressure on those above.
The Claude Puel sackometer finally swung so far towards ‘Puel out’ that the Leicester City had no other option but to sack the Frenchman after his side lost 4-1 at home to Crystal Palace. Michy and Wilf did the business on Uncle Roy’s 101st birthday, meaning he is now the oldest manager to ever win a game of Premier League football.
Leicester, amusingly, hope to persuade Brendan Rodgers to give up his cushy little number at Celtic to come and manage a team who will never, ever be able to live up to their past.
Newcastle United’s record signing, Miguel Almiron, had clearly been taking smiling lessons from Ole Gunnar Solskjaer given that he spent his entire first start for Rafa Benitez running around the pitch doing good things whilst grinning. Newcastle beat guaranteed to be doomed Huddersfield 2-0 and already Almiron seems to have struck up an understanding with Salomon Rondon.
Friday night feels like a very long time ago now but there was a Premier League doubleheader.
Fulham look certain to be joining Huddersfield in the Championship next season losing 3-1 to West Ham despite Ryan Babel opening the scoring with his first Premier League goal in 3000 days. Yes, that’s 3000.
Down in Cardiff, Gerard Deulofeu scored a hat-trick to stuff Neil Warnock’s men 5-1. Watford are decent under Javi Gracia and are looking good to get relegated next season by qualifying for the Europa League.
In Bournemouth’s 1-1 draw with Wolves, Josh King’s penalty miss was so bad that the groundsman tried to drown him on the spot.