Turbo-charged Toure, despair elsewhere
Few of us like Monday 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.
Yaya's gonna Toure you up
Manchester City are reportedly paying Yaya Toure £220,000-a-week but on recent showings, it isn't nearly enough. The man is like an enormous, turbo-charged chest of drawers, eating up turf like a planet-shaped Combine harvester. His two goals at the Athletic Indirect Stadium Arena pushed the noisy neighbours within spitting distance of their first title in 44 years and towards proof that money can buy you happiness.
Toure is so devastating when switched into a more advanced role in the second half of vital matches it's a wonder Roberto Mancini doesn't start him there in the first place. City's oil-rich owners are so vastly wealthy, perhaps instead of signing Robin van Persie or Gareth Bale, they should plough some cash into cloning Yaya, so one can play at either tip of the midfield diamond. His two goals brought the mood at Champions League-chasing Toon doon, much like a fart in a lift would.
Fergie had been relying on the usual brilliance of Papiss Cisse, but unfortunately for him, the striker's well of world class goals was used up in midweek. After a muted 2-0 victory over Swansea, in which neither goal was celebrated, the Manchester United gaffer was reduced to kissing Mark Hughes' arse, expressing his wish that "Sparky" was able to play for QPR, and reminding his former hard man just how unceremoniously he'd been dumped by City. But you knew he had as much belief in what he was saying as in a prolific, invisible Unicorn popping up to score a late winner for Rangers at the Etihad next week.
The momentous millimetre
It shows how far Liverpool have sunk that they turned to Andy Carroll to try and save the FA Cup final. Even more so, that it nearly worked. Essentially, this was the game Liverpool had been building towards since they squeaked past Cardiff on pens to win the Mickey Mouse Cup back in February. Sadly for King Kenny, their first hour came right out of their pitiful Premier League form book.
For 60 minutes it looked as if Liverpool felt bad for taxing their opponents ahead of their looming Champions League final, as even Jay Spearing stood off and let the geriatrics pass round him. Henderson and Downing were their usual, disappointing selves, dragging the likes of Jose Enrique down with them. As such, it was left to Carroll to fly the flag for Kenny's cash splash.
After mugging off John Terry to bring his side back into the titanic tea-time Wembley showpiece, he then thought he'd scored a dramatic equaliser, and lolloped off to celebrate accordingly, his pony tail flapping in the wind. There was just one problem - the whole of the ball hadn't crossed the line. Had Carroll stuck about to pot the rebound his redemption, threatened in recent weeks, might have been complete. But then, Tim Krul will tell you exactly how he feels about open goals.
As this is more than likely the last FA Cup final without goalline technology, thank goodness the petrified linesman got it right. It was the millimetre that reduced Liverpool's season from success to failure.
Walk the Lineker
After his disco moves at Stoke, normal service was resumed for Arsene Wenger against Norwich as he reverted to his fourth official-berating, water bottle-chucking, limp hand-shaking best. In a game that could have yielded seven penalties, the referee decided it was best to give none at all, even when, deep in stoppage time, Kyle Naughton tried to push Robin van Persie's face into the advertising hoardings behind the net.
As is customary when his side are in warmly charitable mood during the match, Wenger was exactly the opposite after the game, reportedly refusing to speak to the BBC after Gary Lineker - the smug host of Match of the Day - did his own impersonation of Wenger's Britannia boogie at the end of last week's show. This, of course, came after the Arsenal manager's pathetic treatment of Paul Lambert. Here was an excellent, young manager whose side has just played superbly, defying the odds to claim a point, and all Wenger could offer was a dismissive slap of the palm.
Luckily for Arsenal, Newcastle and Tottenham failed to take advantage. All that stands in the way of third spot is the new England manager, conducting his farewell tour of the Hawthorns. Roy Hodgson's side will pour forward no doubt, determined to give him a good send off. Whether West Brom win or lose, Roy will no doubt use the same explanation as when he was caught shoplifting in the kitchenware section of his local department store: "I felt it was a whisk I had to take."
Get the 'Eck out of here
For Aston Villa, the point against Spurs meant they could finally draw a line under the most miserable Premier League campaign they have ever fought. This wasn't a leap towards salvation though, by hanging on for 40 minutes against ten men, this was a drunken stumble over the safety line. They merely ran out of games to get relegated.
Big 'Eck's appointment poisoned the air around Villa Park before the season had begun, while his dour football and bizarre tactical deployments have heaped misery upon despair upon dejection for a flock of fans who are as prone to deep pessimism as it is possible to find. A paltry four home wins have been added to by three on the road, and 17, mostly mind-numbing, draws. By heck Big 'Eck, you've even made Villa's die-hards nostalgic for the David O'Leary era.
No wonder those home fans who turned up to witness another battling effort from a group of players so limited they may as well share six limbs between them, spent most of the match grumbling, demonstrating and calling for the manager's head. Among the predictable banners - 'Get the 'Eck out of here' and 'Uglier with 'Eck than with Shrek' - lay the most hurtful one of all that read: 'It's not where you've come from, it's where you're taking us.' And that, ladies and gentlemen says it all.
With Villa safe and Blackburn facing Wigan on Monday night, it was left to Bolton and Queens Park Rangers to don their pugil sticks and try to poke the other off their £90 million Premier League perch. The Trotters' failure to embrace the luck that handed them a two-goal lead, after Liam Ridgewell had thumped the ball into Billy Jones' solar plexus to score the own goal of the season, came back to haunt them.
Because then came another chapter in what is rapidly turning into one of the Premier League's greatest unanswerables. Has Djibril Cisse actually been a decent signing for QPR or not? If he's not banging in vital goals, he's banging opponents in the face, neck or shin, getting his marching orders and leaving his team up poop creek. That's before one has even touched upon his ridiculous hair arrangements or startling dress sense.
But his 89th minute winner - celebrated just as wildly as the consolation goal he scored in their 6-1 thumping at Stamford Bridge last week - arrived just seconds before James Morrison pulled the Baggies level at Bolton. Now there is just one hurdle for QPR to negotiate, at the side gunning for their first title since we put a man on the moon. Now, what price a Joey Barton winner?
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