Let’s get on with it

Cyprus Today - - CLASSIFIED -

GAME on . . . since the last col­umn Liver­pool’s man­tle of in­vin­ci­bil­ity has been punc­tured by de­feat in the league at Citeh fol­lowed by Mon­day’s FA Cup exit at Wolves. Per­son­ally I al­ways thought Liver­pool’s un­beaten run was a bit meh, es­pe­cially when you con­sider that prior to the afore­men­tioned losses they had al­ready been knocked out of the League Cup at home to Chelsea and con­trived to lose all three of their Cham­pi­ons League away group games. So in spite of the fact they only have one league loss thus far, they’ve ac­tu­ally lost six games in to­tal out of 29 played — not re­ally that im­pres­sive when you look at ob­jec­tively, is it?

Any­road, now that the hec­tic Christ­mas pe­riod is be­hind us the Reds can re­lax in the knowl­edge that un­like Citeh, Spurs and Chelsea they can con­cen­trate en­tirely on the league from now un­til the Euro­pean ties be­gin again in four weeks. Per­haps that ex­plains their weak­ened side at Wolves and was Jür­gen Klopp’s plan all along?

Cham­pi­onship rools

Just look at these score lines: Villa 5-5 For­est, Villa 2-3 Leeds, Nor­wich 3-3 For­est, Leeds 3-2 Black­burn, Nor­wich 3-4 Derby, For­est 4-2 Leeds.

I watched most of these games and you lit­er­ally couldn’t look away at any time, par­tic­u­larly in the fi­nal min­utes. The 5-5 at Villa was just plain bonkers while Leeds’ come­back from two down at half time at the same venue was com­pleted with the last kick of the game. Mean­while Nor­wich found them­selves 3-0 down with about 15 min­utes to go against For­est be­fore crown­ing their come­back with two goals in time added on, then Leeds found them­selves 2-1 down against Rovers in time added on be­fore — you guessed it — scor­ing twice to nick the win.

And then there was Nor­wich v Derby; Nor­wich led 2-0 and af­ter be­ing pulled back to 2-2 re­took the lead on 81 min­utes. Then the lights went out. In the en­su­ing 20-minute stop­page Frank Lam­pard’s side re­grouped and sent on David Nu­gent to try and res­cue the game and Nu­gent had a role in both the Derby equaliser and the win­ner which came in — would you believe? — time added on. Af­ter all this breath­less stuff For­est’s 4-2 win over Leeds seemed quite mun­dane.

I’ve said it be­fore and I’ll say it again: the Cham­pi­onship is the most com­pet­i­tive league in Eu­rope and com­pared to the Premier League, which is in re­al­ity six good sides and 14 al­so­rans, the hard­est to pre­dict.

Gone for a Bur­ton

The above phrase is an English id­iom that in its orig­i­nal wartime mean­ing meant “to be miss­ing or die”. Thank­fully for fans of Bur­ton FC all they did on Wed­nes­day evening was lit­er­ally go miss­ing. Thirty-four coaches

left Bur­ton in the late af­ter­noon for what should have been a rel­a­tively short 63-mile jour­ney to Manch­ester for their club’s League Cup semi-fi­nal first leg. How­ever they en­coun­tered one un­sur­mount­able prob­lem en route: the M6.

Un­for­tu­nately for the Bur­ton fans they got caught up in what Stafford­shire po­lice de­scribed as “an in­ci­dent”, said in­ci­dent be­ing a lor­ry­load of il­le­gal im­mi­grants who, upon be­ing stopped by Plod on the north­bound car­riage­way, did a run­ner that ne­ces­si­tated the clo­sure of both sides of the M6 — re­sult­ing, for some un­lucky fans, in a four-hour de­lay. Even­tu­ally one coach out of the 34 made it to the Eti­had be­fore kick-off while oth­ers only got to see the fi­nal 15 min­utes of the game. Was it all worth it? Given the fi­nal score of 9-0 to Citeh, prob­a­bly not and it’s a shame that the pow­ers that be couldn’t see their way to de­lay­ing the kick-off, but in re­al­ity Bur­ton did re­ally well to reach the semi­fi­nal and fully de­served their mo­ment in the sun.

Wouldn’t it be some­thing else, though, if they could turn it around in the sec­ond leg? (Un­likely, I know.) Best quote: “So un­lucky that the one coach that got there was the one car­ry­ing the team.”

Team of the week

Joe Day, New­port; Serge Aurier, Spurs; Con­nor Coady, Wolves; Shane Duffy, Brighton; Fraser Franks, New­port; Joe Wil­lock, Arse­nal; Tom Lawrence, Derby; Reuben Neves, Wolves; Fer­nando Llorente, Spurs; Jamille Matt, New­port; An­toine Se­menyo, New­port. Man­ager: Michael Flynn, New­port.

This week’s games

Premier League — to­day: 2.30pm West Ham v Arse­nal; 5pm Brighton v Liver­pool, Burn­ley v Ful­ham, Cardiff v Hud­der­s­field, Palace v Wat­ford, Le­ices­ter v Southamp­ton; 7.30pm Chelsea v New­cas­tle. To­mor­row: 4.15pm Ever­ton v Bournemouth; 6.30pm Spurs v United. Mon­day: 10pm Citeh v Wolves. Cham­pi­onship — 9.45pm Nor­wich v Birm­ing­ham.

Only one game re­ally stands out here and it is, of course, Spurs v United to­mor­row evening; pre-Christ­mas, I would have said that Spurs were nailed on to beat Jose Mour­inho’s turgid United side but I feel that the Red Devils are a dif­fer­ent propo­si­tion un­der Ole Gun­nar Sol­sk­jaer, and they will cer­tainly fancy their chances given that they’ve just en­joyed a week in the Dubai sun while Spurs had a tough out­ing against Chelsea on Tues­day. I’ve yet to see Paul Pogba dom­i­nate a game since he went back to Manch­ester but the Spurs mid­field duo of Winks and Sis­soko un­sur­pris­ingly looked re­ally leggy on Tues­day so he’ll be ex­pected to cap­i­talise, while Mar­cus Rash­ford will fancy his chances against whichever right back Spurs send out.

To negate all this pos­i­tiv­ity I’m hop­ing that Sol­sk­jaer does the na­tion a favour and plays Phil Jones, be­cause in these fraught times we all could do with a good laugh.

And fi­nally

Last week’s ques­tion read thus: Ever­ton’s Wal­ter Silva be­came the first Premier League man­ager to do what be­fore Christ­mas? The an­swer is man­age a side that con­ceded six goals or more in a home game — not once, not twice, but three times.

The games were Hull 1-7 Spurs in the fi­nal game of the 2016-17 sea­son and Wat­ford 0-6 Citeh four months later. Then came Ever­ton 2-6 Spurs in the week be­fore Christ­mas just gone. Not an en­vi­able record, to say the least.

This week: a Cham­pi­onship club has some­how con­trived to get knocked out of the FA Cup in the third round for the ninth suc­ces­sive sea­son. Name the club.

In­ter­net com­ment of the week on the draw for the FA Cup fourth round — the Guardian: “New­port have been re­warded for their ex­ploits against Le­ices­ter with a trip to Mid­dles­brough.” The re­tort: “That might be the first time a trip to Mid­dles­brough has been de­scribed as a re­ward.” The sec­ond re­tort: “The trip home is the re­ward.” Sue and Brian Har­g­reaves, Linda and John Spens­ley, eat your hearts out.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Cyprus

© PressReader. All rights reserved.