Monday, February 6, 2012
A tangled Webb and a Cisse-fit
The Fifth Official
Few of us like a Monday morning, but The Fifth Official does, for it brings with it a chance for him to point the finger and laugh. Here he pulls out the pretty, the puzzling and the downright pig-ugly from a week brimming with potential victims.
A tangled Webb he weaves
You could tell Fergie wasn't sweating this one beforehand, as he conducted his pre-match interview in a hideous turtle-necked shirt that raised the possibility he'd just been handing out Milk Tray chocolates to the Stamford Bridge crowd. Perhaps he and David Luiz, who was sporting awful blue leggings, spent their Saturday cruising the spandex shops of the King's Road. But then, Fergie always seems to give off that laissez-faire attitude when Howard Webb is around. Funny that.
As for Webb, due to popular demand I hear he is soon to be added to ESPNsocccernet's Premier Fantasy game, thanks to all these assists he is racking up. Seventeen per cent of the penalties he's awarded in the Premier League have gone to Fergie's mob don't you know. Webb may have endured a torrid afternoon, and his second award may have been harsh, but it would be cowardly of Chelsea to hide their capitulation behind a bald man in black who has a penchant to point for penalties.
With the game at 3-2 Fernando Torres fashioned the sort of chance that offered him an opportunity to lay a large, expensive brick on his road to redemption, but, scared of missing, he decided to give possession away instead. Almost instantly, I imagined he'd shatter into a million tiny pieces, like that scene near the end of Terminator 2. Even if the Chinese Army were set to task now, I doubt they'd be able to piece his confidence back together by the end of the season.
This was another deeply indifferent day for Chelsea as their fans shamefully booed Rio Ferdinand, just for being the brother of someone who was allegedly racially abused, and took to chanting Jose Mourinho's name when the game was pegged back to 3-3. Then their manager was cut off in his prime while waxing lyrical to Sky Sports, after Fergie had just ranted for a full four minutes about the refs. AVB looked distinctly unimpressed, and took his ire out on the BBC's mic man instead.
A big Cisse-fit
It had all been going so well for the Lord of the Manor of Frodsham, otherwise known as Djibril Cisse. After signing for QPR, he banged in a debut goal inside 11 minutes at Aston Villa. But the real Frodsham, complete with questionable judgement, emerged at home to Wolves.
A lunge from Roger Johnson was all it took to provoke a wild Cisse-fit, one so camp it offered up the tittersome sight of Joey Barton actually trying to talk someone out of a fight. Thanks to Bobby Zamora's opener, Rangers were leading at that point, but as Cisse stared at his red card in disbelief - as if he'd heard the FA had changed their rules to permit throat grabbing - the momentum changed.
How wonderful for Mick McCarthy that it did. After the midweek debacle against Liverpool, Mick's dressing room was infiltrated by his chairman, Steve Morgan, who insisted he add a rocket of his own to Mick's already substantial rocket. The two made peace but pressure remained and, thankfully for Wanderers, it turns out it was QPR's big Cisse who couldn't handle it.
Insurrection: Insomnia style
Aston Villa seem to have a rather big problem with Cisse too, after they conceded their second goal of the week to a man on his debut who goes by that surname. Though the goal that sunk them from Papiss Demba Cisse was spectacular to say the least, a word of warning -the last person to score on Newcastle debut? Xisco. Hmm, think on. Villa's downfall on Tyneside owed much to their current tendency to implode.
The last time Villa triumphed at the ground formerly known as St James' Park, Lee Bowyer and Kieron Dyer were sent off for trying to rip each other's faces off, even though they were both in black and white shirts. On Sunday it was Villa defecating on their own doorstep, as first Stephen Ireland and then Stylan Petrov aimed verbal volleys at Big 'Eck's dugout despite Villa playing rather well in the opening half. Ireland was promptly removed at half time, injured apparently, though Villa wouldn't confirm he'd suffered a significant blow to his head during the break.
With all this infighting going on, Charles Insomnia thought he'd better pipe up, taking to Twitter to say for the first time in his wonderfully privileged life, he isn't enjoying the football he gets paid about £60,000 a week to play. Well boo f***ing hoo, Charles. For those who missed it, here's how you do the Insomnia: first stage - repeat that you are unhappy/available, second stage - repeat name of top four club you want to sign for, third stage - go on strike, fourth stage - sign for Bolton. Wait nine months, then start again from stage one.
The love of seven
It was all love and hugs again at the Emirates, as Arsene Wenger worked out how he can get away with substituting Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain: by bringing on Thierry Henry in his place. By that stage on Saturday though, the Emirates was in such a state of delirium Wenger could probably have brought Andrei Arshavin and Ivan Gazidis on to a standing ovation.
Once again, the man to superglue bonds back together and soothe fragmented Arsenal limbs was the man who is the grout that holds the Emirates tiles together, Robin van Persie. Blackburn's take on nullifying the Dutchman's threat was novel - they decided to allow him complete freedom inside the penalty area, and even neglected to intercept crosses that might fall at his feet. Needless to say, it did not go well.
This was a symbolic triumph for Wenger, one to ease the pain of Arsenal's humiliation at Ewood in September, but it
was back to the chopping board for Steve Kean, who hinted that legal action might be the best way to persuade Chris Samba to don a blue and white shirt again. Kean looked in no more fear of the sack on Saturday than after that 4-3 win six months ago, largely because Venky's act so randomly, it's as if they are ruled by that big computer that selects the Lottery balls each week.
You can't handle the Huth
It never fails to amuse me when Tony Pulis accuses other teams of cheating - that's like the Royal Family criticising others for their lavish lifestyle. Despite the blizzard that engulfed the Britannia, Pulis was sent into a white-hot rage after Robert 'You can't handle the' Huth was sent off for a wild lunge on David Meyler.
Whether there was any contact is debatable, but what is not is that Huth went into the tackle as if he was intent on creating a new ventilation unit in Meyler's thigh. Perhaps Tony may ruminate on the fact that if you set your team up to be brutish, physical and ugly, you may not always get the benefit of the doubt from the officials. His argument was essentially that, yes, Huth may have gone into the challenge clutching a machine gun, but he didn't use it. Sending a still photo to Match of the Day to try and prove his point just smacked of complete desperation.
Pulis may have backed Huth to the hilt, but he can't claim to be the Premier League manager who employed the most spin this weekend - that was David Moyes, who stood firm behind Tim Howard after the goalkeeper was bamboozled by a leg-break that Shane Warne would have been proud of. A cross flicked the hapless Phil Neville, whose powerful aura of confusion sent the ball into a vicious swirl, Howard decided to play down the line of leg stump and had his off-peg knocked back. No blame attached to Tim, though, said Dave. It was all the turf's fault. Perhaps he should give the UK's king of spin, Alastair Campbell, a call ahead of next week's match.
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