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Aug 24, 2009

Gallas: All mouth and no trousers

Saturday afternoon at the Emirates uncovered a rare occasion when William Gallas' big mouth came in handy. The former Arsenal captain is never shy of an opinion and has an uncanny ability to rub pretty much anyone up the wrong way but he's still there, winning games and scoring goals, though not by any recognised, modern-day means.

The Gunners' game with Pompey was still in the balance somewhat (granted, I may be drumming it up slightly for dramatic effect) when Gallas skipped merrily forward for an Arsenal free kick and converted their third goal using the little known 'volley-ball-into-nose-and-over-the-line-via-the-post-from-four-yards-out' method.

Not that manager Arsene Wenger is getting carried away with six points and ten goals in his opening two league games. Afterwards he conveniently forgot all those mega-feuds with Fergie by outlining his new modus operandi: "Shut up, win your games and let everyone else talk." Yeah right Arsene, I give that policy about three weeks.

G-Owen Places

Last Sunday he was G-Owen nowhere, after Wednesday he was probably G-Owen to AFC Wimbledon on loan but all of a sudden after his goal at Wigan, little Michael is G-Owen places.

After enough horror misses against Birmingham and Burnley to add another chapter to his startling sales brochure, Owen went into the match at the DW Stadium on the slide, on the dole and on the bench. But after red-hot Wayne Rooney made the game safe with 25 minutes remaining, Fergie reckoned it was worth a punt to shove United's number seven on to see if he could cash in on some very accommodating defending.

It proved a shrewd flutter as Mickey ambled into space and allowed a glorious pass from Nani to roll across him before stabbing a left boot at the ball and watching in delight as it flew in off the post. Then, of course, he was blowing kisses to the crowd as United's fans cranked their Owen-o-meters from 'blunder' back to 'bargain'.

A Coyled Spring

What a week for Burnley and Owen Coyle. Listening to the pundits (myself included) before the season started you almost expected their relegation to be all but mathematically confirmed by this stage of the campaign, but how wrong we all were (for now).

First Manchester United were despatched courtesy of Robbie Blake's venomous volley, then David Moyes and Everton were slain with another 100mph, blood-and-guts display. Perhaps it is the less than salubrious surroundings that are putting the more sophisticated teams off and causing them to miss penalties. Burnley call Turf Moor atmospheric and quaint, the rest of the league calls it a crumbling relic.

Sir Alex Ferguson is used to nestling his derriere into a lusciously padded, ludicrously expensive heated seat at Old Trafford, one perfectly sculpted into the shape of his sexagenarian buttocks. At Turf Moor he had to plant his arse on a loosely binded row of concrete breeze blocks, no doubt of Arctic temperature, before banging his head on the roof every time he became animated, seeing as it began about four centimetres above his head.

Lescott leaves under a Ginger cloud

Late on Sunday news filtered through the gritted teeth of David Moyes that Joleon Lescott was on the verge of moving to Manchester City after the Abu Dhabi kajillionaires had a quick look down the back of their Eastlands sofa and finally stumped up an acceptable amount for the England defender.

It that wasn't bad enough in itself, Moyes was delivering the news in the aftermath of his side's second Premier League defeat; this time after a limp display at the aforementioned Turf Moor. Moyes and Everton have clearly been shaken to the core by Lescott-gate, as their shocking start certifies. Moyes' decision to play the wantaway defender through his 'toy-throwing' phase resulted in a 6-1 humiliation at the hands of Arsenal. Then Lescott was parachuted out of the squad for having a stinking attitude and Everton sink to another defeat at Burnley.

Still, now more than ever, money talks in the Premier League. Lescott isn't the first to have his head turned by the promise of eye-watering wages and a star-studded team. And if he says Mark Hughes was a big factor in his decision to move at his introductory press conference on Wednesday, expect his designer pants to catch fire.

Own Goal Cole

Before the season began, we were treated to a hearty round of Carlton Cole trumpeting. After his modest return of ten league goals last term, this was the year he would catapult himself from Premier League chump to international superstar, we were told.

After 49 minutes of West Ham's game with Spurs I was prepared to believe the hype. Cole was his usual, bustling self in hold-up play and was more than challenging Spurs' centre-backs in the air. Then he scored a blockbuster. Lifting the ball into space he then smashed it into the top corner from 25 yards with all the flair of Hammers' old boy, Paolo Di Canio.

But just six minutes later, classy Cole became calamity Cole as he somehow managed to slide a gloriously cushioned pass into the path of the Premier League's most in form striker, and another ex-Hammer, Jermain Defoe. Cole's hands were on his head before he even disappeared from shot as he watched Defoe lash the ball home, and end Gianfranco Zola's hopes of three points. The jury is still out Carlton.

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