Given the shocking events of Saturday, it is tricky as a writer of an allegedly witty football column to know how to get the tone right when it comes to putting fingers to the keyboard for the first time since such a tragedy.
With that in mind, I am sure you will understand why today’s look back at the weekend action is slightly more downbeat than you would normally expect.
It has been confirmed that Leicester City’s owner, Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha, was on board the helicopter that crashed outside the King Power Stadium after Leicester’s 1-1 draw with West Ham on Saturday evening.
Srivaddhanaprabha bought Leicester in 2010 and under his ownership transformed the club from a side a bit too good for the Championship but not quite good enough for the Premier League into Premier League champions in less than a decade.
There are numerous stories of the good that Srivaddhanaprabha did for the Leicester fans and the wider community. In a world where foreign owners are often (rightly at times) derided for seeing a Premier League club as a fancy toy or a balance sheet, Srivaddhanaprabha was different.
Naturally, thoughts usually end up being with the most famous person who dies in a tragedy. Let us not forget the fact that there were four other passengers that night, all of which will be missed by their family and friends.
Earlier that day, Spurs legend and ex-England manager Glenn Hoddle collapsed in the BT studio as they prepared for a day of football action. Hoddle is believed to have suffered a near-fatal heart-attack on set and, thankfully, the quick work of a member of the BT staff with a defibrillator kept him alive. Hoddle is now believed to be still critical, but responding to treatment in hospital.
All this puts football into its real context. After all, it is just a game that is often called ‘more important than life or death’. Saturday proved that statement was, and always will be, untrue.
But, respectfully, the show does go on.
Arsenal headed to Crystal Palace on Sunday having won 11 matches in a row for the first time in a decade where Palace had failed to score at Selhurst Park since May. It didn’t take a genius to work out that this was a massive banana skin for the Gunners and they duly managed to slip.
Palace were gifted two penalties and this time they managed to score both. Could this be the turning point for Uncle Roy and his team? As for Arsenal, this should be no more than a minor reality check although they do have a tougher run of fixtures coming up which should give us all a clearer idea whether Unai Emery is flattering to deceive or actually doing a very good job.
Neil Warnock was bang on the money when he said that a Cardiff win at Anfield was ‘impossible’. Cardiff, however, did manage something that had been impossible for other Premier League teams at Anfield so far this season; they managed to score past Allison. The only problem was, Liverpool got four at the other end. Mo Salah, Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino now have one more goal as a trio then they did at this time last season. Forgive me, I thought these boys were not firing on all cylinders? Couple that with the fact that Liverpool appear to have a goalkeeper and defence this season and we can certainly call this progress.
Did Chelsea fans even allow themselves to dream it could be this good so soon under Sarri? Burnley were dispatched 4-0 at Turf Moor with Ross Barkley putting in the kind of performance that sees the England-Hypeometer go off the scale. If you read some of the comments on social media, Barkley played like a hybrid of Gazza, Beardsley, Robson, Lampard, Scholes, Beckham AND Steven Gerrard. I will accept, though, that he did play well and managed to make even Alvaro Morata look dangerous.
Marco Silva was not impressed with how Manchester United got their penalty at Old Trafford. According to Silva, Martial ‘dived’ to give United a chance to take the lead. Pogba missed but scored the follow-up and as much as I think Pogba gets an overly hard-time, it is always a bit funny to see him miss a spot-kick with that daft run-up. Martial managed to stay on his feet long enough to score United’s winner and all that talk of Jose getting sacked goes away for another seven days.
The weirdest comment of the Premier League season so far has to have come from the mouth of Javi Gracia. Following the 3-0 win over Huddersfield, the Watford manager claimed he ‘has the best squad in the Premier League’. Really, Javi? Really? OK then. Gracia was humble enough to admit that they probably wouldn’t win the title though, meaning Peppy G and Kloppo were able to breath huge sighs of relief.
Fulham kept up in their quest to concede the most goals in a single Premier League season. Currently, they are on track to let in 107 which would be seven more than Swindon managed in their one season in the top flight under John Gorman. Bournemouth went through them at will on Saturday, taking all three points with a convincing 3-0 win. Could Slav be sacked by a Premier League club once again?
Considering how hard Glenn Murray hit the deck the other day when knocked unconscious against Newcastle it was a bit of a surprise to hear he scored Brighton’s winner against Wolves. Apparently, Murray passed all the concussion tests before the game which poses two questions; one, how hard is Glenn Murray and two, how weak are these tests?
It was Shane Long’s turn to miss a glorious injury-time opportunity for Southampton in their 0-0 draw with Newcastle. With their current shot to goal ratio, Southampton will need to have around 1250 shots on goal to score a mere 50 in the Premier League this season. For context, the most shots ever had in a Premier League season is around the 850 mark by Chelsea in a year they won the title. Mark Hughes will always Mark Hughes.