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Top 5: First XI costs in Premier League

Transfers 4 hours ago
Read
Nov 3, 2008

The last look at the weekend

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 five-star weekend.

'Arry's magic touch

A matter of days ago, dear readers, Spurs were rock bottom of the Premier League, on just two points, still smarting from a battering at the hands of top-flight heavyweights Stoke City. But one P45 and a phone call later have transformed their season. Now, I'm not saying Harry's riding his luck, but if he fell in the Thames he would probably come up with a salmon in his gob and a gorgeous mermaid on his lap.

Despite being battered for most of the game, again, Harry somehow emerged from the mauling with three precious points. And how has he transformed this star-studded squad? What nuggets of pure gold has he sprinkled over them to make the transformation from chumps to champs? When throwing on Roman Pavlyuchenko as a second-half substitute what tactical insight did Harry pass on to the troubled striker? What intricate diagrams did he draw on the whiteboard? None. He simply told his Russian interpreter to instruct Pavlyuchenko to "just f**king run about". Genius.

Liverpool's sense of humour bypass

Of course, the side on the end of Harry's latest triumph were former Premier League leaders Liverpool. Having taken the lead fortuitously when player-of-the-season-in-waiting Dirk Kuyt shanked his attempted cross into the top corner of Tottenham's net, Liverpool poured forward. They oozed class and conviction, style and substance, poise and purpose. For about an hour. Then they could ignore that shiny red self-destruct button shimmering in front of them no longer, and subsequently fell apart.

They sat back, Harry waved his arms about a bit, Jamie Carragher scored his customary goal for Spurs and then, to add insult to injury, Roman "just f**king run about" Pavlyuchenko popped up with the winner. Rafa could hardly believe his eyes. At least Liverpool's upcoming fixtures look relatively kind, meaning this hilarious 'we can win the title' charade will probably go on until at least Christmas. And do me a favour Liverpool fans. Lighten up. Stop taking yourself so seriously. Can you do that? No? Oh, well imagine my surprise.

In Delap of the Gods

They are the most feared arms in the Premier League and give a whole new meaning to the phrase 'arms race'. Rory Delap's gargantuan throw-ins have suddenly taken on a life of their own. They'll have their own chat show before Christmas at this rate and the Delap Throw-In Novelty Christmas Souvenir Shop will start doing a roaring yuletide trade.

The truth is many of us knew Arsenal would come a cropper at Stoke. It's exactly the sort of set-up that troubles their talented and tempestuous teens. Namely, a fierce atmosphere, an opposition choc-full of 'I'd head but my own grandma to win' style commitment, a ludicrously high work rate and an XI packed aerially prominent players. It was fitting too that Delap permanently derailed Arsenal's title tilt given the disrespect Wenger had shown towards his touchline bombs prior to the game. "They score one like that about once every two months," he said. Incorrect Arsene. After Delap's two assists on Saturday that brings his total to seven, and we're only just in November.

City boy Dunne good

Richard Dunne may well top the goal scoring charts at the end of the season if he carries on like this. He's developed a hot-streak of scoring that even Mark Hughes would have been proud of. Except for the fact that the hapless centre-half just can't stop banging them in at the wrong end.

Dunne followed up his beautifully taken right-footed rocket direct from a Geremi corner at Newcastle - a goal that cost his side two points - with a much simpler finish at the Reebok Stadium. Now, own goals are pretty funny at the best of times but this one was made all the more special by the fact that Dunne netted with his left foot when he was actually trying to clear the ball with his right. That takes some talent. The clincher at Bolton now takes his tally of own-goals for City to a, generally agreed, tally of six, one less than the number he's actually put in the right net. I wouldn't bet against that count being level before the New Year arrives, would you?

Tony Adams likes them apples

To finish this week, dear readers, I'm unashamedly going to let Portsmouth's new manager do the talking. Now don't get me wrong, I want him to do well, I really do. I just don't think he will. Two defeats in four days certainly isn't the way to start either. Anybody who knows Adams' previous when it comes to management will already be watching from behind the sofa. As my soccernet colleague John Brewin astutely pointed out here the man really didn't get a grip on life as the gaffer in his miserable year in charge of Wycombe. He started by rolling out this modest statement: "I already know I'm a good manager. Nothing can change that." At the end of a season in which he led Wanderers to relegation it had changed to: "There's only so much any manager could do with this personnel."

And what better way to end than with Adams on the digestion system? "The other night, before the Colchester game, one of our players ate an apple. I let it go. If I started talking about the physiology of eating an apple, what it does to the digestive system just before you play football, I'd be confusing the hell out of them. They just can't take a huge amount of information on board."

Ladies and gentlemen, I give you the new manager of Portsmouth. Welcome to hell indeed.

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