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Apr 22, 2013

Disappointed love

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.

Disappointed love

As Robin van Persie emerged into the arena he once called his own to a guard of honour from his still trophy-less former team-mates, he desperately tried to suppress a satisfied grin that was dying to break out on his face. But you can bet your bottom dollar the little boy inside him was jumping up and down on his bed screaming "look at me losers, I've won the Premier League", at the top of his voice.

Arsenal's fans served up as much vitriol as they could muster, well, the few of them that could be bothered to put down their cappuccinos, but it looked and sounded about as scary as being set upon by a shitsu wielding an ice lolly. Despite delighting the home fans by having a hand in Arsenal's first, RVP duly scored his second goal in two appearances against the Gunners, again neglecting to let his inner little boy go wild.

Van Persie's return did odd things to Arsene Wenger, who refused to concede his former charge had scored, apparently suggesting penalties shouldn't be counted as real goals. By his logic, Arsenal would have won 1-1/2. He also described the vitriol that greeted the Dutchman as "disappointed love", which sounds like a Neil Sedaka album.

And after waving RVP off with a league winners' medal, thoughts turned to Arsenal's own trophy race - finishing fourth. And that pretty much says it all.

Pardiola's dirty half dozen

Police horses across Tyneside were quaking with fear on Saturday night as Newcastle's very Premier League existence was brought into sharp focus by a Mike Ashley-sized battering from a supposedly toothless Liverpool. All that joshing about Alan 'Pardiola' last season has gone to the gaffer's head as he set his team up to press like the irrepressible Barcelona. But the only intensity in the Toon's version was Papiss Cisse's willingness to run into offside positions.

It's a good job Pardew has a contract to 2020 - he'll need that long to try and piece together the wreckage of this monstrosity. By the end of the match Pardew must have been longing for that all at sea look Newcastle had in the opening ten minutes. His arrogant smirk evaporated into a dazed and bewildered gaze, as all the while Derek Llambias stroked a bald cat in the directors' box. Perhaps he now realises the lunacy of anyone in football possessing an eight-year contact.

Maybe Pards should count himself lucky Luis Suarez wasn't playing, or it could have been ate. This was exactly the cruise Liverpool needed after a week in which they whined and wailed in usual fashion after a Suarez misdemeanour before the striker himself shut them up by accepting his 10-game ban. Daniel Sturridge looked decent but perhaps we should reserve judgement until he plays proper opposition, eh?

Lucky strikes

You might not like this, given that everyone and his dog seems to think the sun shines out of Roberto Martinez's rear, but he's starting to get right on my wick this season. His verdict on Wigan's performance in their 2-2 draw with Tottenham was "magnificent" despite the sitcom routine involved in the first goal they gave away and the shank that led to an own goal for the last minute equaliser they shipped.

This was the man who insisted Callum McManaman didn't have a "bad bone in his body" after his assault on Newcastle's Massadio Haidara, and who had the nerve to insist after a questionable free-kick led to Spurs' leveller that "sometimes when you are down there, the results or the lucky breaks don't go your way". Short-term memory loss does appear to be a common Premier League complaint these days. Roberto has clearly forgotten McManaman's pardon that day and their potentially decisive winner against the Toon that arrived via a blatant handball from a corner that wasn't.

Given their horrific defending, that saw Joel and Maynor Figueroa play a bit of 'to me, to you' until Gareth Bale's karate kick, they were fortunate to escape with a point that may well be crucial in their latest scramble to safety from a seemingly doomed position. As for Tottenham, their Champions League choke is again proving another hilarious sideline as the season nears its end. Their glorious failure never fails to entertain.

Nil nil blah blah bye bye

The dank 0-0 draw served up by Reading and QPR was the epitome of being written in the stars. It's as if God himself scrawled 'stalemate' on the stratosphere in permanent marker before two of the poorest teams the Premier League has ever seen relegated each other with the sort of stilted draw that had the Championship uttering a weary sigh at the prospect of their return next season. It's absolutely how they were destined to depart.

Clearly, Jose Bosingwa didn't get the pre-match 'sad face' instructions. You can hardly blame him for chuckling upon the final whistle though, he's rinsed QPR for oodles of cash and now they'll either have to pay him off or ship him on.

It's a Bosing-win-win-a. 'Arry at least pointed a few fingers, saying pay-packet envy played a large part in dressing room discord. Nigel Adkins just trotted out his usual meaningless lines about "processes" and being chipper "going forward".

Reading might be a worse team than Rangers but at least they exit stage left on a reasonably solid footing. Lord only knows the financial mess QPR will find themselves in once their first parachute payment is gobbled up by Christopher Samba's June wages. Those who can desert will but they'll have to go some to be offered the same riches elsewhere. 'Arry 'Oudini will have to live up to his wheeler dealer tag to extract them from this Royal mess.

Truly Madley Deeply

Twenty-seven-year-old Robert Madley probably thought he'd be able to slip under the radar in his first Premier League outing as a referee. A mediocre mid-table clash between Southampton and West Brom should have been a breeze, a leisurely kick about between two sets of players playing out time before their plane to the Maldives leaves. Instead it turned into a slug-fest that had the Madman reaching for a three red card trick.

That he was forced into his pocket owed to a treble dose of stupidity from players who should know better. First up was Gaston Ramirez, who was so ticked off by Shane Long's persistence that he smashed an arm into his face. Seconds later, Marc-Antoine Fortune completed his own unique hat-trick, adding a red card for a comedic rake to the face to his goal and assist. Both decisions, by the letter of the law, were entirely correct.

Madders, now with a taste for the power that producing a red card possesses, got the chance to flash another one as Danny Fox tried to climb into Stephen Reid's rib cage late on. Referee's assessor Alan Wiley was in the stands, no doubt nodding his head at the top flight's latest man in black. Steve Clarke was petrified the three red cards would take the focus away from how well his team played, and would you look at that, he's absolutely right.

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