Tuesday, 11 August 2015

More football! Wheyyy

Time to reflect on the opening weekend of Real Football. I may one day change the name of this blog to Mirrorball but if not, in true logical fashion, if I don't have it, no one can!

As a Newcastle fan, one of my favourite weekend titbits was Hatem Ben Arfa's Nice debut, although it didn't turn out so nice for him, I can tell you that! Playing as part of a ten-man patchwork Nice team, in a vaguely right-wing-back role, he let the Monaco left-back, Layvin Kurzawa, ghost into the penalty area and seal a tidy comeback for a 2-1 Monaco win. Cue an immediate substitution of the defence-dodging Ben Arfa! The old classics never go out of style. Enjoy the highlights, complete with atmospheric French commentary.

In more homeward-bound endeavours, Man United got their apparently sewn up title charge underway with a shiver-inducing 1-0 thrashing of Spurs, who were so quaking in their boots that Kyle Walker finished off Wayne Rooney's thought for him. He was so puzzled by Rooney's lack of movement and predator instinct that he shaped to block the shot, only to actually beat his own keeper in the process.

Tottenham were certainly rather disappointing themselves, although Harry Kane was as industrious as ever, while looking a bit ring-rusty. With a bit more intensity, at least a point could have been within their grasp. Mind you, the Spurs pre-season can surely not have helped, resembling a drunken Football Manager fumble at 3am on a Sunday morning. A couple of end-of-season knockabouts, then nothing until the 29th July? Followed by two games in two days in Munich four/five days before an early Saturday kick-off at Old Trafford? Someone was definitely on the absinthe at White Hart Lane this summer.

What wasn't abSENT at Stamford at Bridge was fortune. Both Chelsea goals, in particular the second, had more than a helping hand from the football gods. Not even the sending-off of the alarmingly nervy Thibaut Courtois could steer Swansea to what would have been a thoroughly deserved three points. If you can read anything into this opening week of the season season, it is that Swansea are on the charge. Steve McClaren and co better bring their Dutch courage next weekend...

Arsenal got their campaign off to a typically calamitous start, recalling their 3-1 meltdown at home to Villa a couple of years back. Ironically, both goals were probably down to the one signing that was supposed to finally shore up that pesky defence. Peter Cech gave a quite uncharacteristic display, leading to such online ubiquity as this here link that is highlighted, while Slaven Bilic re-announced himself to English football in a similar party-pooping fashion as his previous London appearance.

Some other things most certainly happened. Liverpool ground their way to a ghost-banishing victory at Stoke via a stunning Coutinho strike, while Yohan Cabaye inspired Crystal Palace to a 3-1 victory at Norwich. Oh, and despite my own desire to see West Brom put up a fight against Man City, that particular team-talk fell absolutely flat - the City boys coasting to a 3-0 win that has seen them crowned Champions of Everything. It was so easy for them that Raheem Sterling even got a chance to further practice his rusty finishing skills in a very Raheem Sterling way.

Oh, and someone needs to (MANY already have done so) tell Channel Five that their Football League Tonight show is terrible. The one positive point was the 9pm start, which gives the lower leagues a much needed jump on their glamorous Premier League competition. But the rest? Endless league-hopping, no mics on their audience participants, no shape or order to the show whatsoever. I did quite enjoy the low-budget league tables, but much work to do ahead of Week 2!

The worst performance of the week has to go to myself, though, hovering around the bottom of both my fantasy league and prediction leagues. I've fined myself a week's wages and sent myself for a run around the block, so I'll be better next week, I promise.

To revisit my opening paragraph - adieu!

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