Mediawatch had to check again but our memory was crystal clear…Chelsea had indeed been eight minutes from winning the Community Shield and they did indeed only lose the game on penalties. In fact, The Sun’s Chief Football Reporter Neil Ashton described them as ‘comfortable’ until Arsenal’s equaliser.
So it’s a tad odd that The Sun’s Chief Sports Writer Dave Kidd accuses Antonio Conte of ‘openly regarding the Wembley showpiece as being as important as a game of crazy golf’, of ‘openly taking the p***’ and ‘tossing off the Community Shield’.
His evidence? That a) Goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois took a penalty and b) Antonio Conte wore a tracksuit.
We are not bemused
The Daily Mail’s Football Editor Ian Ladyman is a baffled man after watching that penalty shoot-out…
‘As Arsenal waited to collect the Community Shield at Wembley, Antonio Conte wandered about, arms folded and head down, with the look of a very bemused man.
‘How did his team lose this game? Why did his goalkeeper take his team’s second penalty in the shootout? How did his shiny new striker miss the target completely from 12 yards? And what is an ABBA shootout anyway?’
We can probably help Ian Ladyman here, as those are not really Conte’s questions but his own…
a) They lost because they conceded a goal from a set-piece and the game went straight to penalties, which they lost.
b) His goalkeeper took the team’s second penalty because, in Conte’s words, “Courtois is one of the best players to kick a penalty”.
c) His shiny new striker missed the target because sometimes players do miss penalties and Morata has rarely been a designated penalty-taker.
d) Catch up, Granddad.
The A Team
There was much amusement this weekend at the disparity between the sizes of the two squads at Wembley…
Strength in numbers. pic.twitter.com/0d5M0IjfLq
— Nick Miller (@NickMiller79) August 6, 2017
Writes Jim White in the Daily Telegraph: ‘And there was a hint of what he was alluding to printed on the back of the matchday programme. Chelsea’s squad numbered just 24 names, and that list included Kenedy and Diego Costa, two players unlikely to make the team sheet at any time soon. Arsenal, by contrast, listed 41 names. Several more if you took into account the double-barrels.’
Yes, and Joel Campbell, Joe Willock, Eddie Nketiah, Donyell Malen, Matt Macey, Cohen Bramall, Krystian Bielik and Chuba Akpom are all going to feature heavily for Arsenal this season.
Arsenal do have a bigger squad but it looks bloody massive if you list all your kids.
Chapter and Merse
It’s predictions time and Sky Sports are trumpeting the fact that Paul Merson forecast a Chelsea title win last season. They’re not trumpeting that he predicted sixth for Tottenham, seventh for West Ham, 13th for Middlesbrough, 14th for Sunderland (‘hard to beat and they will collect good results along the way’) and relegation for Bournemouth and Burnley, mind. What was that saying about the stopped c
Having been burned by his sixth-place prediction for Spurs, Merson is now saying that ‘they’ve got the best team, they haven’t had to buy anybody’. That’s curious because we are pretty sure they didn’t actually win the Premier League title last season. Oh and they have since lost a key first-team player. But Merse is not going to get caught out again and predicts third for Tottenham.
Arsenal? Well, Arsenal will finish sixth. And Merson is unimpressed with Alexandre Lacazette: ‘Not everybody else was going after him. If you’re good and playing in France, PSG will be after you, or Monaco, who lost a lot of their players. That’s my worry.’
Well, PSG have just spent £200m on Neymar so they are operating in a rather different market to Europa League-bound Arsenal, while Monaco have not spent that kind of money on any one player since 2013. Colour us flabbergasted that Merson has not spotted that Monaco have a very specific transfer strategy.
Mostly, Mediawatch very much enjoyed his views on West Ham’s latest striker signing: ‘Javier Hernandez is better coming off the bench, in my opinion, and West Ham are obviously going to start him. He made a huge impact coming on for Manchester United.’
Javier Hernandez last played for Manchester United in 2014 and we suspect that West Ham have paid rather more heed to what he has achieved at Bayer Leverkusen over the last two seasons than his performances in a United side challenging for the title.
In Paul Merson’s opinion, Hernandez might be better off the bench.
In reality, Hernandez scored 27 goals in 47 Bundesliga starts and scored just once in nine appearances off the bench.
But what kind of fool places more value in actual facts than the vague memory of a TV pundit?
A worried man
There’s a theme in Merson’s predictions…
* On Tottenham: ‘They worry me in that sense, but I still think they could finish third.’
* ‘It’s very rare someone rejects them, and that’s my worry for Liverpool.’
* ‘Alexandre Lacazette is a good player, but not everybody else was going after him. If you’re good and playing in France, PSG will be after you, or Monaco, who lost a lot of their players. That’s my worry.’
* ‘I like Frank de Boer. Palace look good going forward, though I do worry about them at the back.’
* On Newcastle: ‘They won’t be happy with this, but they haven’t really recruited yet. I worry for them, and I think the fans will keep them up.’
* ‘I worry about Benitez getting frustrated.’
* ‘The worry for me is Troy Deeney.’
Oh Paul, every little thing is going to be alright.
Merson and Marco ride again
Paul Merson of course predicts relegation for Watford and their manager Marco Silva. He is not letting this one go.
Merson says in Sky Sports’ Watford preview when asked if Silva can keep them in the Premier League: ‘No, they will get relegated. To have a manager who has enhanced their reputation by being relegated is remarkable. He had the chance to bring in players and didn’t achieve what he was brought in for.’
No, but he did claim more points in his 18 games than Stoke, Watford, Burnley, West Brom, Middlesbrough and Sunderland. Oh and Hull sold Robert Snodgrass and Jake Livermore during his first month in charge.
Obviously Gary Rowett would have done better.
Question of the day
‘Man United and Madrid ready to battle it out in Skopje… but why is the Super Cup being played in 38 degree heat in Macedonia?’ – MailOnline.
Erm, because there’s a heatwave?
Smash of the day
According to The Sun: ‘SOUTHAMPTON will smash their transfer record by signing Mario Lemina for £18million.’
Southampton’s current transfer record: £17m.
Can you fracture a transfer record?
According to Sky Sports: ‘Brighton are poised to smash their transfer record by signing PSV Eindhoven midfielder Davy Propper in a £6m swoop.’
Brighton’s current transfer record: £5m.
A slight crack?
‘Barcelona confirm Andre Gomes will miss Chapecoense friendly amid Liverpool swap rumours’ – Metro.
Not mentioned: He has a hip injury.