It was shaping up to be the weekend from hell. Three points for Chelsea with Torres back amongst the goals, a stoppage time winner for United in the Manchester derby, TWO stoppage time goals for the Blues as they came from behind to beat Spurs, and we were trailing 2-1 at West Ham. Thankfully Joe Cole chugged to our rescue, James Collins also gave us a helping hand and suddenly it wasn’t so bad after all, as we ended the weekend sitting just four points off fourth place. Doesn’t bear thinking about how we’d be feeling if we hadn’t turned it around at Upton Park though.
Whilst Sunday’s Manc Derby was the most anticipated fixture of the weekend and certainly lived up to it’s billing, the most exciting game came at the Liberty Stadium on Saturday, where Swansea and Norwich played out a seven goal thriller. Norwich started brilliantly, they forced two saves out of Tremmel and also hit the post before Whittaker eventually made the breakthrough with a fine solo effort after a quarter of an hour. Danny Graham hit the bar for Swansea but Bassong headed Norwich into a 2-0 lead before Holt then added a third just before half time.
It almost got worse for Swansea just after the break when Bradley Johnson’s brilliant flicked volley hit the underside of the bar, but Michu pulled one back to give them hope and De Guzman set the cat amongst the pigeons with a well struck volley just before the hour. Norwich were rocking and you’d have expected Swansea to get an equaliser now they had their tails up. They briefly thought they had, but Howard Webb ruled out Shechter’s goal for a somewhat dubious foul on the keeper.
Snodgrass curled in a free-kick to make it 4-2 and although Michu found the net for a second time there was no time left for Swansea to fashion an equaliser and Norwich picked up a massive three points. They’re unbeaten in ten games now. TEN GAMES!! How’d that happen? That’s pretty incredible really, especially after the way they started the season letting in goals all over the shop. Fair play to Chris Hughton, I didn’t think he had it in him.
Some twat in the crowd made a monkey gesture at Bassong who immediately reported it to Webb, who in turn alerted the fourth official. Within minutes the guy had been identified by CCTV and was being dragged out by stewards. You could argue that you’d have to be pretty stupid to do something like that these days given how easy it is to be identified, but I’d suggest that the kind of person who would be making that gesture is clearly a fucking moron anyway, so it’s hardly surprising.
Chelsea finally won a game after their longest run without one in 18 years. Soft shite volleyed them in front and then added a second from the penalty spot. Since when did he start taking pens? Fucking rat bastard. He nearly had a hat-trick too but his shot hit the bar. Mata followed in the rebound and made it 3-0 and although Adam Johnson pulled one back with a well hit shot and Gardner rattled the bar with a free-kick, Chelsea held on for the win. This sucked, it’s much more fun when they aren’t winning.
What the hell was the BBC interviewer on about asking O’Neill “Are you filled with self doubt?” What kind of question is that? Sunderland might be crap but it’s not because the manager is ‘full of self doubt’. Incredibly stupid, provocative question. The kind of thing I’d expect from Sky, not BBC. O’Neill looked astonished by it, but after a few seconds regained his composure and said “I’ve been in the game a long time as a player and a manager and it’s not very often that I’ve doubted myself.” He should be doubting his team though, they stink like a rotten match fart.
Is there any smell worse than a ‘match fart’? It’s the strangest phenomena, it doesn’t matter who the culprit is or what they’ve been eating or drinking, the moment wind passes between their bum cheeks in the confines of a football stadium it immediately takes on that uniquely distinctive ‘match fart’ stench, whilst those in the vicinity can only sit there desperately trying not to breath it in. Like most of you (I assume?), I love the smell of my own brand, but not when I’m at the game as it no longer smells like me, it’s a ‘match fart’ and it’s rancid.
There’s always someone who can’t help themselves and sits there reluctantly boffing away throughout the game. When it happens you have little choice but to just sit there, try not to breathe it in and wait for it to eventually pass. There’s no point making a fuss or trying to identify the guilty party and make them feel bad about it. They’re a victim too in this situation, you can be sure they aren’t getting any pleasure out of it and are as repulsed as everyone else. It’s not like in other social situations when you can not only revel in the discomfort of others as they try not to inhale, but can discreetly enjoy the aroma you’ve created.
For example, one of my finest hours came in the summer of 2006 whilst on holiday in Spain. The World Cup was on and Argentina were playing. There was this open fronted bar where a few hundred Argies had gathered to watch their game, and a lot of them had spilled out onto the pavement. I’m walking through them with my missus and suddenly she sees me trying to stifle a grin. “What have you done?” she asks a split second before the smell hit her. “Oh my God that’s disgusting” she said as she put an extra spring in her step to get clear.
Now I’ve got no problem with Argentina at all, Maradona was my hero as a kid and I’d always root for them in World Cups so it was nothing personal and it could have been any nation’s fans gathered outside that bar that day. They were just in the wrong place at the wrong time and got crop dusted. If I close my eyes I can still hear the moans and cries of disgust from them as I walked away humming ‘Don’t cry for me Argentina’ feeling rather pleased with myself.
As horrific as that smell was for all of those present aside from me, it’s a whole different ballgame to farting at the match. This wasn’t a ‘match fart’ even though technically there was a match on at the time. Authentic match farts only happen in stadiums. This was just one of those rare occasions when you have farts so bad and so heavy that the smell lingers even outdoors. It reeked, but it didn’t reek like a ‘match fart’ as we weren’t in a football stadium.
I won that day, but nobody wins from match farts, there are only losers and that’s why there’s no point in trying to identify who is doing it. Unless you’re my Dad of course, in which case you repeatedly say in as loud a voice as possible “Arrr eyy who’s doing that? It’s disgusting that, stick a cork in it eh?” I normally just quietly agree, saying “Yeah it’s ‘orrible that Dad, wish they’d pack it in”, even on the rare occasions when it’s my arse that has everyone around me coughing and wretching as though a canister of tear gas has been thrown amongst them.
Staying with the flatulence theme, the ‘fart that didn’t smell but have started to pong a little of late’ got back to winning ways at the Emirates on Saturday. It was nailed on that Arsenal would win, I said last week when Wenger really needs a win to save his skin he usually gets it and so it proved. I wouldn’t want to be playing them this week either after they got dumped out of the League Cup by a side in the fourth tier of English football on Tuesday night.
They were somewhat fortunate to beat West Brom as they needed two penalties to win the game. The first one came from a dive by Cazorla that was so well executed it’s almost worthy of praise rather than scorn. It must take a lot of practice to become that good at it. I feel sorry for the ref Mike Jones, as when you look at this in real time it looks like a stonewall pen. Steven Reid was turned by Cazorla and recklessly swung his leg at the ball. Cazorla’s fall was so authentic looking that it appeared like he’d definitely been caught. I doubt if there’s a referee out there who wouldn’t have been fooled, as it’s only with the benefit of replay that you can see what happened. It’s an outrageous piece of cheating by Cazorla, but it was executed to perfection as he made it look like a cast iron foul. Still, West Brom don’t have any cause for complaint given what Ridgewell did at Sunderland last week.
Arteta scored the pen and then repeated the feat in the second half. This time the finger can be pointed at Mike Jones. Not for the penalty, which was blatant, but for not giving West Brom a free-kick seconds before for a foul by Oxlade-Chamberlain. He also failed to give the Baggies a penalty for a handball by Mertesacker, instead giving Arsenal a free-kick for Olsson’s challenge. Steve Clarke said afterwards that “we have a great group of referees in this country but Mike Jones is one of the worst of that ‘great group’”. Actually we’ve got a piss poor group of referees, but maybe he thinks by saying how good the refs are he won’t get fined for ripping into the awful Jones.
He may be a terrible ref, but that first penalty is not on him and if players weren’t constantly trying to gain an unfair advantage it would make life a lot easier for the officials. There was a terrible dive by a West Brom player too after Mertesacker had lunged in high and late and missed both ball and man by a country mile, Jones wasn’t fooled by it because it simply wasn’t as convincing looking as Cazorla’s. Yes, referees are shit, but some players are cheating twats and others, such as Jonas Olsson, are just twats. He’d definitely make the ‘All Twats XI’ at centre half, probably in a back three with Mongo and that Leon Barnett dick at Norwich. I might get around to naming that at the end of the season, along with that ‘Better than you think XI’ I keep threatening to do.
QPR still don’t have a win, although a point at Wigan isn’t a bad result for them. Unfortunately they need wins as they are already adrift at the foot of the table. Harry Redknapp picked Shaun Derry in midfield ahead of Esteban Granero. The former Real Madrid man must be wondering just what the fuck he’s done in trading the Bernebeu for Loftus Road. Playing second fiddle to Alonso, Khedira, Ozil, Modric & co is one thing, losing your place to a lower league journeyman with hair whiter than Santa Claus is something else entirely.
McCarthy volleyed Wigan in front but Ryan Nelson headed QPR level when he lost his marker from a corner. An unusually composed finish from Djibs 15 minutes from time looked to have given the visitors their first three points of the season but McCarthy’s second goal just two minutes later ensured it ended honours even.
Martinez claimed afterwards that McCarthy could play in any side as he’s that good. Is he? I’ve not watched him that closely, I know he always gets linked with bigger teams but I’ve never been blown away with him whenever I’ve seen him although he’s clearly a talented lad. Would he get a game for City, Chelsea, Spurs, Arsenal…. would he even get a game for us? Debatable. He’d probably get a game for United, I mean Phil Jones was in midfield for them last season and I’m not having that Cleverley scrote either, the most manc looking manc in mancland.
Moving on, and two of the newly promoted sides met at St Mary’s as Southampton played host to Reading. Of the two, Southampton have looked to have a bit more about them and so it proved in this game, but it was a close run thing. Robson-Kanu hit the post for Reading before Jason Puncheon won it for Southampton with a good strike. I like him, he’s been really good recently and he’s vying with Jamie Mackie to be my new Junior Hoilett, although my mate John claimed Mackie before me to be fair, so I guess I’ll have to roll with Puncheon, or ‘my boy Puncheon’ as he shall be now be known.
Finally on Saturday, Aston Villa v Stoke. Football constipation. It ended goalless and it was dreadful, not helped by some bizarre officiating. Clark should have been sent off for a high, dangerous lunge on Whelan but he somehow not only escaped a red or even yellow card, he was actually awarded a free-kick for his troubles. Ryan Shotton wasn’t so fortunate. Booked for dissent after being penalised for a good tackle, he was then sent off for trying to get out of the way and making the tiniest bit of accidental contact with Delph.
Incredibly harsh, it’s very rare to see a Stoke player doing his best NOT to kick somebody so for him be punished for it is well out of order. For once Tony Pulis had reason to whinge about the ref, as this was dreadful stuff from the official. I don’t even know the fella’s name, he’s the baldy guy who looks like the Shelbyville Howard Webb.
Onto Sunday now, and the Blues had a huge win over Spurs at the Pit. Dempsey had given the Londoners the lead with a deflected shot that looped over Howard, and Sigurdsson almost made the game safe with a dipping shot that hit the bar late on. There’s a fragility about Spurs this season though, they’ve conceded a few late on and they choked under late pressure again, as stoppage time goals from Pienaar and Jelavic sent Everton leapfrogging AVB’s side into fourth place. There’s a pattern emerging here, AVB’s croaky, deep voice is definitely worse when they lose. When they win, he sounds relatively normal. When they lose, he sounds like Barry White with a sore throat.
Spurs without Bale is what I imagine the next series of Dallas will be like without JR. Still watchable but nowhere near as exciting.
Also on Sunday, it all went off in the Manc derby at Eastlands didn’t it? City began the game with ten men after Mancini inexplicably opted to start with Balotelli ahead of Tevez (or even Dzeko). United took advantage of the extra man by racing into an early 2-0 lead with two Rooney strikes. City were wide open on the flanks and tactically United’s gameplan was perfect – soak up pressure, defend well and hit quickly on the break in the space left behind by City’s full backs.
City eventually sorted it out and took control of the game, but they had nothing going on up front until they finally subbed the useless Balotelli. The final straw came when he attempted a backheel, missed the ball and instead raked his studs up Ferdinand’s knee. Mancini immediately told Tevez to get ready and within seconds Mad Mario was off. Funny thing is, I said to my arl fella just before it happened that he’d swear and gesticulate at Mancini and go straight down the tunnel and that’s exactly what he did. Balotelli is unpredictable in a lot of ways, and totally predictable in others. He was only ever going to react one way after being hooked in this game.
He’s just not worth the hassle and I don’t get why Mancini has put up with him for so long. He’d have to be on the level of a Messi or Ronaldo to be worth the constant aggravation and selfish attitude he shows. Is there a less team orientated individual in the Premier League? I doubt it, he’s a complete wrong ‘un and the occasional flash of brilliance you get from him just isn’t enough to make the other shit worth tolerating. If City have any sense they’ll send him packing in January, but finding someone daft enough to take him on may prove difficult.
Tevez completely transformed the game and City battered United after he was introduced. He set up Toure for City’s first and Zabalatta’s equaliser came from a Tevez corner. His movement and workrate showed just what they’d been missing when the ineffective Balotelli was on and Mancini needs his arse kicking for that team selection in such a huge game.
Having drew level City were going all out for the winner and got caught cold. Van Persie’s winner was incredibly spawny but City only have themselves to blame for it. Clichy got caught trying to play his way out instead of clearing his lines and that forced Tevez into conceding a free-kick. It was a dangerous area to concede a free-kick and there was a feeling of inevitability about what was coming as Van Persie lined it up.
Still, had Nasri not been a snivelling little shithouse that ball would never have gone in. There he was, cowering in the wall, hiding behind Dzeko and sticking his leg out timidly. The ball deflected off his foot and Hart was unable to deal with it. What Nasri did was absolutely unforgivable. City’s players should wait til the next away trip and then attack him with bars of soap in socks whilst he’s sleeping. The kind of shit he pulled is completely unacceptable and in Mancini’s shoes I’d probably have attacked the little coward the second he set foot back in the dressing room.
Of course the headlines after the game weren’t about the football, it was to do with some knobhead in the crowd hitting Ferdinand with a coin as he celebrated the winner in front of the United fans. Another dickhead ran onto the pitch to confront him and had to be restrained by Joe Hart, although he didn’t take much restraining as he quickly seemed to realise what a bad idea it was, possibly when a bloodied Ferdinand turned towards him looking like he was ready to rumble.
If you throw a coin at a player you’re a twat who deserves whatever punishment that comes your way. Hopefully whoever it was gets identified and dealt with appropriately as there’s no place for that kind of thing.
BUT… and you knew there was a but coming didn’t you? I laughed. If that makes me a bad guy then I’ll have to wear it, but I can’t deny it, I did laugh and I’ve laughed at every replay I’ve seen of it since. That doesn’t make it right, it’s not right at all, it’s so far from being right you could even say it’s left. I know that, I’m not defending it in any way shape or form, I’m just saying I thought it was funny.
Whoever did it is a lowlife and maybe I am for finding it so amusing. I think I deserve to be cut some slack though, as it was only funny because of who it was. The act itself wasn’t funny, it was the fact it was Ferdinand. One second he’s giving it the beans with his now typical, rubbery contorted celebration face, he’s just about to lift his shirt over his head then suddenly he’s like “Aaaaargh what the fuck is that just hit me in the face?? Ah bollocks, I’m bleeding”. If it’s wrong to laugh at that, then I don’t ever want to be right.
Monday night’s game saw Fulham edge out the Geordies at Craven Cottage. Newcastle have now won just one of their last ten and no away games in 14. Good to see normality restored. That eight year contract for ‘Slimer’ isn’t looking like such a great idea now is it? Not that it ever looked a great idea, you have to wonder what kind of leverage Pardew has on Mike Ashley to swing a deal like that for himself. I’ve just realised, Alan Pardew is the new George Burley, a one season wonder with an eye for the ladies.
Finally, Newcastle’s North East neighbours fared much better the following night, running out comfortable 3-0 winners over struggling Reading. Fletcher was back after injury and got on the scoresheet along with McLean and Sessegnon. About time their front players showed something, Fletcher apart they’ve been Sunderland move out of the bottom three, Reading stay in it.
The Royals are six points adrift of safety now and it’s difficult to see them getting out of it. On the plus side, that means Jason Roberts will soon be back in his comfort zone of the Championship and can stop trying to pretend to be a Premier League player. As for Sunderland, maybe I was a little harsh earlier, they showed they’re more of a regular fart than a match fart.