Stamps, elbows and a manager who doesn’t cry to the media
Last night Chelsea won at West Ham to complete the latest round of Premier League fixtures and in doing so retained their ten point lead at the top which must surely now all but guarantee them the title.
It’s been a weekend of talking points centring on referees on a stag do, some stamping and elbowing, conflicting news coming out of Arsenal and some absolute garbage from the mouth of Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho.
We were still on our way to Swansea and what would prove to be a controversial game for referee Anthony Taylor, the stag, when his fellow Marbella reveller Kevin Friend was landing himself with a difficult game between Manchester United and Bournemouth at Old Trafford.
We’ve all seen the incidents. Tyrone Mings stamped on Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s head and, in the return bout, Zlatan elbowed Mings. Friend failed to deal with either but did yellow card Andrew Surman for pushing Zlatan to the ground although it took him some time, and he required some persuasion, to realise that it was a second yellow and therefore required a red. Off went Surman with Bournemouth assistant boss Jason Tindall following him, leaving a spare gilet in the visitors’ technical area.
If that wasn’t bad enough, we had some incredible garbage spoken after the game. “You have the TV, you can see the images. I jump high and Mings jumps into my elbow,” said Ibrahimovic. But the most laughable comment came from home manager Mourinho. He said: “We are from that generation of street football and football for big guys. We are not the kind of generation who goes to the media and cries about what happened.”
I’ve read those Mourinho comments few times. Initially I thought he must have been misquoted, incredibly he wasn’t. I just wonder what Burnley, Sean Dyche and Ashley Barnes thought about those comments come from the man who went squealing to the media just two years ago when, having seen his side fail to beat Burnley, he didn’t get his own way over a decision. Two faced came to mind, but one of him is quite enough.
Both players, wrongly in my view, stayed on the field. Zlatan later failed to score from the penalty spot with the game ending in a 1-1 draw but the good news is that both players have now been charged by the FA who have added that they consider the standard punishment for Mings (a three match ban) as clearly insufficient.
Astonishingly, Bournemouth have reportedly decided to appeal the charge. That football club needs to take a long hard look at itself if it has made that decision.
Going back to the football now and Spurs are the team in second place. They looked impressive in their win against Everton on Sunday and the 3-2 scoreline didn’t, for me, reflect their dominance. Behind them are Manchester City who had the easiest of games at Sunderland and probably should have won by more than two goals.
Then it’s Liverpool and Arsenal. They met on Saturday evening with Liverpool winning 3-1 against the Gunners and their beleaguered manager Arsène Wenger. I wrote an article recently about Wenger and the pressure he was coming under. Given his contribution to English football I thought it was very unfair, but he’s certainly not helping himself.
He left out Alexis Sanchez for this game. There have been rumours that Sanchez was involved in an angry exchange with team mates after training prior to the game, something Wenger has vehemently denied. On leaving him out, he said: “I decided to go for a more direct option, that was the unique reason for my decision.” I think most people will make up their own minds but I can’t believe Wenger would ever leave out one of his better players to go for a more direct option.
I suspect, after more than twenty years in the job, his time at Arsenal is now coming to an end. I do find it sad; I do think he’s been superb for English football but I suppose all things must eventually come to an end. I just believe he deserves to leave, when the time comes, with real dignity.
The speculation as to who might replace him is already in full flow with the shortest odds on current Juventus boss Massimiliano Allegri with Borussia Dortmund’s Thomas Tuchel also in the running.
There are no such big names in now for the Leicester job. Roberto Mancini was the first to be declared the favourite but he, and the likes of fellow former Manchester City boss Manuel Pellegrini, has dropped out of the betting. Caretaker Craig Shakespeare is now clear favourite with Roy Hodgson looking to be the only other likely candidate.
Shakespeare has led them to two home wins. I saw the first of them against Liverpool when they looked a completely different team to the one playing under Claudio Ranieri. Those wins have now taken them level with Bournemouth and Swansea. All of them are on 27 points with Crystal Palace, who landed a surprise win at West Brom, just two points behind.
Middlesbrough have dropped into the bottom three. Poor Patrick Bamford hasn’t made the best of starts either on his return. He’s not making the 18 player match day squad just now and has been in to see manager Aitor Karanka to ask why. I bet that wasn’t much help; if Bamford is like me he’ll struggle to understand a word Karanka says. Karanka, by the way, is the clear favourite to be the next manager to leave his job.
With Chelsea looking certain champions, the battle at the top is for the next three Champions League places. Down at the bottom, Sam Allardyce says it’s between the bottom seven. Having seen Swansea at the weekend I’d rule them out if they continue to play anything like they did against us.
It’s the FA Cup 6th this weekend and us not being involved still rankles to be honest. That means we go to Liverpool in one of only four games to be played whilst a fifth has been brought forward to tomorrow.
Those fixtures are below and for further information, the Premier League’s leading goalscorers, with each club’s red and yellow card counts and average attendances, are in Goalscorers-Discipline-Attendances which can be found within Season Stats on the top menu.
Gameweek 28 Fixtures
Wednesday 8th March
Manchester City v Stoke
Saturday 11th March
Bournemouth v West Ham
Everton v West Brom
Hull v Swansea
Sunday 12th March
Liverpool v Burnley