Welcome back! The Premier League was mothballed for two weeks, allowing the maligned (by me at least) international break a chance to shine. We’ve seen Scotland qualify for Euro 2024, Wales revive their campaign and Gareth Southgate continuing his irritable eye-rolling phase of England manager: why are people booing Henderson? he asks. The next international break (yes, another one) is in November.
Fresh from a fantastic season on the Championship, I can safely saw that I’m already bored with the Premier League., so this fantasy malarkey keeps me going. For me 50% of the entertainment happens off the pitch: the travel to the ground, the pre-match meal and pub banter, chatting with away fans about VAR, the singsong and cat calling with the opposition fans in the ground. The majority of games are boring in that you can predict the result, we’re in a mini league of six after just ten games as expected. At least the rugby world cup is on this weekend too!
Wayne Rooney QC When sketches emerged of Wayne Rooney looking like a bearded potato at the Wagatha Christie trial last year, we all chuckled. Almost as much when Rebecca Vardy said she’d lost her phone on a north sea boat trip. But it turns out that the time in court has had a striking effect on hm. In a new documentary about the trial, Colleen explains he became completely obsessed with the case and proceedings, joining in meetings with the lawyers and advising her defence team on lines of argument. No, its true, Wayne is a misunderstood man of understated intellectual capacity. Wayne started suggesting legal arguments that we should be presenting she claimed, although lawyer Jamie Hurworth was quick to clarify that Wayne was not a modern day Columbo and his language would not have been suitable at all times for court proceedings.
If Wazza QC is looking to kick start his nascent legal career, he may find a client in former England teammate Daniel Sturridge. For the last four years Sturridge has been embroiled in a legal dispute with LA based rapper Killa Fame who is suing him for £26k. This was the cash offered as reward by Sturridge back in 2019 for the recovery of his dog Lucci who was stolen at a burglary at his LA home. Killa – who I’m not on first name terms with but for the interests of brevity here I am – says he found the cuddly Pomeranian and returned him, but Sturridge disputes this and refuses to cough up. Netflix are on standby. Nevertheless, Coleen claims Wayne was so enthused buy his time in court that he decided he was going to apply for law school. Fortunately for the other Law School students, the Birmingham City job came up…
Man U Watch It’s still a comedy channel at Old T – Sheikh Jassim bin Hamad al-Thani has pulled the plug on his multibillion-pound bid to buy Utd and Now Lucky Jim wants to buy 25% leaving the Galloping Glazers holding the keys to the bank vault. The Qatari’s announcement also included a handily itemised here’s-what-you-could-have-won rundown of riches, focused on transfers, Carrington, fixing the roof on the Theatre of Drips, and community investment in what seems like a genuine offer. Sheikh Jassim made five separate bids, offering almost double the club’s £2.63bn current Nasdaq value plus £1.4bn thrown in for investment. But after months of leaving plaintive voicemails with Old T reception, he’s decided he doesn’t really fancy it after all. Glazers bought it for £800m, they’ve were offered £5bn – and declined.
Sir Jim Ratcliffe may look and sound like an inter-war England cricket captain, but he’s a business mogul who has built sport into his chemical empire at Ineos, with a cycling team and Ligue 1’s Nice already in his grasp. But he’s made a dog’s dinner of Nice if you look into the detail. All of which means that, almost a year after announcing their intention to get out of town, the Glazers are still in charge. On the bright side, at least this historic club won’t be used as a sports washing tool. Oh dear.
- Alessandro Golinucci’s volley for San Marino against Denmark, the team’s first goal since March 2022.
- The only reason to watch England is to sit and admire Bellingham, able to change the game in a heartbeat, so here’s a link to Vindaloo” on starting a mandatory conga as the Euro 2024 party starts here.
- We pay our licence fee for these three to indulge themselves with nonsense like this. If you ignore Micah picking his nose, Gary doing his hair and Shearer doing…well, just laughing…Top 10 defender goals
What impact has longer added time had on matches? Over the opening eight weeks of the 2023-24 season, one of the main talking points has been the amount of added time aimed at tackling time-wasting. That has resulted in matches, on average, running beyond 100 minutes. With eight gameweeks completed, what effect have they had? In the 80 matches since that policy was implemented at the start of this season, the average amount of added time in games stands at 11 minutes 33 seconds, an increase on the 2022-23 average, which was eight minutes 27 seconds. The longest game so far was Fulham’s 3-1 victory over Sheffield United. That match finished after 113 minutes 54 seconds – although it was overshadowed by injury to Blades defender Chris Basham.
Do longer matches mean more action? One of the driving forces of the clampdown on time wasting was the aim of ensuring the ball remains in play for longer. Last season the average ‘ball in play’ time was 54 minutes 52 seconds – the lowest in more than a decade. So far we’re seeing an average ball-in-play time of 58 minutes 48 seconds – an increase of four minutes.
Have we seen more late drama? More added time means more opportunity for late goals, and we have witnessed exactly that so far in 2023-24. There have been 32 injury time goals scored already this season – across both first and second halves – which accounts for 13.3% of the total goals. For comparison, there had been just 11 injury time goals scored after eight matchdays last season. There were 84 injury time goals scored across the entire 2022-23 campaign.
We have seen three of the five latest goals in Premier League history, with Arsenal’s Gabriel Jesus (100:15), Aston Villa’s Leon Bailey (100:09) and Tottenham’s Dejan Kulusevski (99:53) all scoring deep into added time. Joint league leaders Arsenal and Tottenham, along with Aston Villa, lead the way for second half added time goals this term, with three each. It is clear the new rules have had a significant impact.
Aberdeenshire amateur side St Machar Thistle AFC were preparing to face a team who beat them 19-0 the previous week, the aim is surely to limit the damage this time round. What you don’t want is to lose 51-0. However, that was the fate suffered by St Machar Thistle AFC in a first-round Scottish Amateur Cup tie in Aberdeenshire on Saturday.
Facing AC Mill Inn Academy in wet and windy conditions in Stonehaven, St Machar started with just eight players after family, work and study commitments limited their options. The side play in the Aberdeenshire Amateur Football Association Division 2 East, thought they had 10 men but were told two trialists weren’t eligible shortly before the game started.
Captain Eoin Devlin who is usually an outfield player, had to start the game in goal and, by half-time, it is thought it was 25-0. The huge defeat won’t put the players off and the manager expects to see them back in training this week. “I’m letting some lads play football, get out the house for a bit to talk with people, interact, it makes it all worth it,” Devlin said.
No need to go to the game Continuing the destruction of the 3pm Saturday game for fans, the Premier League will increase the number of live televised fixtures in the UK from 200 to around 270 in its next rights cycle. Five live packages of between 42 and 65 games are going up for tender in a four-year deal from the 2025-26 season. The Saturday afternoon 3pm blackout will remain in place but every 2pm Sunday kick-off will be televised. This is the first time the Premier League has been through a tender process for its rights since 2018. The current £5bn domestic TV rights deal is expected to yield a potential £10bn.
It’s just getting worse folks. Currently Sky has four packages (128 matches per season), TNT two packages (52 games) and Amazon has one package (20 games). In the new deal, five midweek rounds will be available instead of the current four, while the Saturday 12:30pm and 5:30pm and the Sunday 2pm and 4.30pm stay in place, along with the 8pm Monday or Friday slot.
The weekend Time to stop sitting on a beanbag waiting for an epiphany, make some transfers! Life is not so much a bowl of cherries, much more like a dish of Hungarian goulash – hot, sticky and at times intestinally challenging.
The first big fixture swing of the season is on the way in gameweek 10, so bear that in mind if you’re playing your wildcard this week. You wouldn’t necessarily opt for Brighton players for their trip to City on Saturday – on a cataclysmic losing run of two remember – but you’ll probably want at least one of their attackers for their next four games against Fulham, Everton, Sheffield United and Forest. The same goes for Arsenal – I wouldn’t bank on big hauls this weekend from their visit to Chelsea, who seem to be turning a corner under Mauricio Pochettino, but from gameweek 10 onwards I will want at least one Arsenal defender and attacker in my squad.
As someone sat in no man’s land in the tsf.tech fantasy league table, I’m offering these sage words of advice, so take heed, or you may find your ranking below mine! The whole point of the wildcard is to set yourself up for the long-term and booking transfers in for future gameweeks can often blow up in your face if injuries hit or unforeseen problems arise in your squad. You know that makes sense in some corner of the universe, or it may just be mine.
One of our players has gone all in on Arsenal with Gabriel, Odegaard and Jesus – which I get – but then in a comedy moment admitted he’s also doubled up on United with Fernandes and Hojlund. They’re away to Sheffield United on Saturday and after the ominous challenge of the Manchester derby in gameweek 10 they face games against Fulham, Luton, and Everton. That selection could work in the short-term in gameweek 9 and the long-term as well, but it does depend on United finding some form to go with those fixtures. Stop giggling at the back. Did I mention that he’s also taken Erling out of his team? That might not end well as a fired up angry Viking is sure to score a double hattrick this weekend, although he does have Salah, Son, and Watkins to soften the blow.
Some benefitted in the last round going against Haaland and giving the armband to Salah for his 15-point performance against Brighton, but I’m sticking with the flowing, golden locks of Erling to see what he can do against that very same Seagulls defence. There are definitely other attractive captaincy options this week – Salah at home to Everton, Son at home to Fulham for example.
He learned everything he knows during his time as a youngster at Burnley, and Trippier could keep a clean sheet away at Palace, and that could mean big points if he can add to his five attacking returns in the last three gameweeks. Anthony Gordon is a very tempting prospect at just £5.6m too, he’s been in form this season with six attacking returns in his seven appearances and you don’t really have to play the guessing game of whether he’s going to start or not like you do with Isak and Wilson as Harvey Barnes is out injured.
Transfer deadline is 11am Saturday. Enjoy the rugby!