A heady week for some, a disaster for others (that’ll be me then) saw Scott top dog on 75 points, with Chris (68) and Hayley (67) leading the chasing pack. Me, I thought Erling and his mate Kev were looking jaded and Pep would pick them for cryotherapy chamber duties and rest them. My saviour Mo would score six at Forest….
This leaves Sasha (333), Chris (333) and Scott (325) in the race for MoTM for October, and Scott (781), Michael (780) and Sasha (766) the top three in the table.
Meanwhile this week’s photo is the closing votes on a petition to get Erling banned from playing in the Premier League because ‘he’s a robot’. It got nearly two million signatures, 87% were from Liverpool, Arsenal, and Manchester United fans. Alas the Government didn’t support the petition.
Villa marched Stevie G through the exit door last week. Gerard gave up the sweetest of gigs at Rangers with hopes that it gave him a fast-track pass back to Anfield when Jurgy was stepping down, but called in at Villa to bide his time. Alas after spending £80m on new players and serving up some of the most unpalatable meat-and-potatoes football and leading Villa from 16th place to 17th, hoping Philippe Coutinho rediscovered his 2014-16 form wasn’t a valid strategy.
The cherry atop this comedy trifle was added when Tyrone Mings – who Gerard singled out and stripped of the captaincy – leathered an attempted clearance into the net for Fulham’s third goal as if to push Stevie towards his P45. I’m a fighter, I will never, ever quit said Stevie at the post-match press conference, mimicking someone else we know, continuing I’ll continue to fight unless I’m told differently. Some 30 minutes after the final whistle Villa’s top brass told him differently.
Villa have put first-team coach Aaron Danks in charge, Mauricio Pochettino isn’t keen, Dyche fancies it (he likes Claret & Blue shirts). Who else is there? Dean Smith returning from his Trussian exile in Norwich? Kwasi Kwarteng? Mick Lynch? Give it Sean for six months to get things back on track, and after the general election, he can take the Villa job. Meanwhile at Bournemouth, Gary O’Neil remains in caretaker charge, having served under three prime ministers. At the last count.
The number 16 shirt worn by Sergio Aguero as he scored his famous Man City title-winning goal in 2012 v QPR will go on auction next week, the champagne-soaked unwashed jersey is expected to sell for £20,000. Unwashed for ten years? Ugh! Aguero scored in the 93rd minute to take City to a 3-2 win and beat Man Utd to the title. His stoppage-time winner ended City’s 44-year wait for a title and rather irritatingly gave Martin Tyler infamy with his Aguerooooo. He now gets away with And its L-I-V-E every Sunday.
Former City player Mario Balotelli asked Aguero for the shirt as a souvenir at the end of the game, but typical Mario, he left it behind in his kit bag. His bag – and the shirt – were kept at the club’s training ground but Mario never returned to claim, so they gifted it to the National Football Shirt Collection. The auction proceeds will be shared between Testicular Cancer UK and the Stroke Association. Meanwhile Maradona’s infamous ‘Hand of God’ goal against England in the 1986 World Cup match-shirt sold for £7,142,500 recently. The shirt’s new owners are from the Middle East and are linked to Manchester City, which is nice.
Paul Merson has to be the ineptest pundit. In the last three weeks he’s come out with some belters: There’s only one person who gets the manager the sack and that’s the fans…Everton are literally a bad of Revells…Goals dictate how matches go. I thought the coffee must have been strong that weekend at Sky Sports Café, but it carried on the following Saturday – City won’t fall asleep against Liverpool, they’ll win it in their sleep…Spurs don’t have the confidence to be confident (which I must admit I quite liked). He then turned all-in philosopher with If you keep walking past the barbers then eventually, you’ll get a haircut – referring to some striker who had chances but not scoring.
In sharp contrast to Merson’s fumbling rumblings, this caught my eye with its eloquence, purpose, and authenticity. There are universal values that should define football values such as respect, dignity, trust, and courage. When we represent our nation, we aspire to embody these values – the Australian men’s national team release a video with 16 players delivering their collective statement of protest over the human rights record of Qatar.
Things could get messy in Qatar – residents face the risk of persecution if they stand up for gay rights during the World Cup – Human Rights Watch has warned. Meanwhile the oxymoron that is James Cleverly did his best to maintain the standards of political leadership left by the Norwich fan who stayed for 44 days: Unbelievable Jeff
A cursory look at the now-announced Christmas fixtures shows that on 3 January, Bournemouth play United at Old Trafford, kick off at 8pm, while at the same time several thousand Geordies will be at Arsenal v Newcastle. Both sets of travelling fans will make it because they always do, though some might not make it back given the last trains home will have long gone, and it is no doubt on this blind loyalty that the Premier League and various TV networks count as they dither over which matches to show and when.
What to do this weekend? Don’t ask me after last week’s calamity. Pep’s post-match comments about Erling’s fitness after his substitution in the draw at Dortmund on Tuesday sent shivers through the Fantasy Premier League community. Maybe I was just a week early? The goal god delivered 26 points if you selected him as captain last weekend, so we will be hanging on to Pep’s every word in before we decide how much of a risk it will be to start him as captain tomorrow.
The thing that makes it more interesting is that there are plenty of other tempting captaincy options this week. Liverpool at home game to Leeds will see Mo nail six goals, it would be crazy not to consider it, particularly with Leeds looking so vulnerable. Nunez could also be a good option, whilst Spurs are at Bournemouth and Kane has failed to score only once in 11 games, while Arsenal host Forest, which could be a goal fest too.
I can’t ignore Newcastle who are on a decent run, Miguel Almiron and Callum Wilson would be your best two bets for their home game against Villa – although Kieran Trippier earned 18 points last round. Almiron is the most popular transfer this week, having been transferred in by more than half a million managers and Newcastle facing Villa, Southampton, and Chelsea in their final three games before the break for the World Cup. He costs just £5.4m but six goals this season mean he is only three points behind Kevin de Bruyne as the highest scoring midfielder.
If you are seeking a value signing for these last weeks before the World Cup then any of the following could work Ben White, Fabian Schar, Sven Botman, Kurt Zouma, Diogo Dalot, Kiernan Dewsbury-Hall, or Bryan Mbeumo. If you have a bit more free cash, to spend and fancy a bit of a punt on a striker, have a look at Dominic Calvert-Lewin, who has played more than 70 minutes in Everton’s past two games, scored in their 3-0 win against Palace and now faces Fulham, Leicester, and Bournemouth.
Transfer deadline is 11am Saturday. Good luck!