Mind the gap
There is undisguised glee across the media that Manchester City finally lost. Which is fair enough; it’s been a while. But we can’t help but think that some perspective might have been lost. Writing that City had come ‘nowhere near’ Arsenal’s Invincible season, The Sun’s giddy Neil Ashton writes:
‘Liverpool, mighty impressive Liverpool, made damn sure of that.
‘They were rampant, playing like champions in front of a baying, braying, captivated Kop.
‘This is an extra-special result. It warmed the cockles, proof that winning the Premier League will not be a walk in the park for Pep Guardiola’s lot.
‘Liverpool, minus Philippe Coutinho, are emerging as the obvious, genuine, threat to City.’
Mediawatch has double-checked and the gap still does appear to be 15 points.
Nothing to see here
It’s particularly wonderful that Ashton writes that ‘it was only a few days ago that they flogged Coutinho for a Premier League record £145m and yet nobody is talking about him’.
Odd then that Coutinho is mentioned by Ashton – in the 11th paragraph of his match report – before any actual Liverpool footballer.
Tit for tatters
The delight from Andy Dunn at the Daily Mirror is clear. He writes of ‘the Invincibles-elect in tatters’, which is wonderful considering that Pep Guardiola has repeatedly said that the Invincibles achievement is well-nigh impossible in 2017/18. And, yes, just checked again: they are 15 points ahead of their nearest rivals.
‘The sort of implosion that had pockmarked Pep’s first Premier League season and had now resurfaced was pretty sudden and very costly.
‘It should be easily forgotten and even if its like flares again, it won’t alter the course of this campaign.
‘Yet that period of complete raggedness had symbolism, it had significance.’
Yes, after nine months of being unbeaten in the Premier League, it is definitely those 20 terrible minutes that has ‘symbolism’ and ‘significance’.
Mediawatch senses that even Dunn was struggling to believe his own narrative as later in the same piece he admits that this result ‘proved little else or signified little else’ and admits that ‘as for the bigger picture, it barely makes a smudge’.
To pull off a result that is simultaneously both consequential and inconsequential is quite the trick from Liverpool; it’s arguably more impressive than winning a game 4-3 at home.
Read more from Planet Sport: The story from day one at the Australian Open (Tennis365)
Mour, Mour, Mour
If you watched Liverpool beat Manchester City (still 15 points clear at the top of the Premier League table, remember) 4-3 and your first thought was ‘well, didn’t Jose Mourinho do well to get a point there’, then you are Duncan Castles, Neil Custis or, bizarrely Alan Shearer.
He uses his column in The Sun to laud Mourinho (though curiously not Sean Dyche, Antonio Conte, Sam Allardyce or Alan Pardew, who all also picked up a point at Anfield)…
‘Mourinho, you could argue, got his tactics spot on that day.
‘On a big occasion he nullified Liverpool and refused to let them play their game.
‘That was his way of getting a result and in many ways he deserves as much credit for that as Pep Guardiola does for his part in a spectacle that has us all breathless yesterday.
‘The difference between the two Manchester managers is that one is willing to adapt and the other will play his way no matter what the opposition.’
Well, that and 15 points.
Wonderfully, Shearer goes on to ‘write’:
‘To be fair, it has worked pretty well for him, as has Mourinho’s management that has brought eight titles to Guardiola’s six and an equal amount of Champions League’s (sic) with two apiece.’
Pesky fact: Guardiola’s six titles have come in eight seasons; Mourinho’s eight titles have come in 13.
Spot the man who predicted that Manchester United would win the title.
‘Alexis Sanchez to Man Utd: Romelu Lukaku ‘confirms’ transfer on Snapchat’ is one hell of a headline from the Express website, which is plumbing new depths of awfulness on an almost daily basis.
First paragraph: ‘MANCHESTER UNITED striker Romelu Lukaku has appeared to confirm Alexis Sanchez’s move to Old Trafford on Snapchat.’
Eighth paragraph: ‘But eagle eyed fans spotted that the image was fake. Lukaku’s Snapchat account is Romelu.Lukaku10 but the image has Lukaku’s username as rLukaku9.’
Mediawatch cannot help thinking that the Express used quote marks around the wrong part of the headline; surely ‘Romelu Lukaku’ confirmed the Alexis Sanchez transfer?
Still…clicks are bloody delicious, aren’t they? Or at least they ‘appear’ to be.
Sanchez: The numbers
The word ‘Sanchez’ appears 29 times on the football homepage of the Express website, but by far Mediawatch’s favourite headline is ‘Alexis Sanchez to Man Utd: What shirt number could Arsenal star take if he signs deal?’
Probably 7, as that’s his number at Arsenal and nobody wears No.7 at Manchester United. Seems simple. But simple does not get you a nine-page gallery.
What gets you a nine-page gallery is speculation that he could take the No. 9, ‘but shirt currently occupied by Romelu Lukaku’. That feels like it might be an obstacle.
Then there is the No. 11 ‘but Anthony Martial is unlikely to give it up’. You don’t say.
They then suggest Nos 13, 17, 22, 24 and 26. Because they are numbers he could wear.
Death: An update
— Guardian sport (@guardian_sport) January 15, 2018
‘Latest updates’? He’s probably not going to un-die.
The term is now
— Sky Sports News (@SkySportsNews) January 15, 2018
Literally one minute later: ‘STOKE CITY are delighted to confirm the appointment of Paul Lambert as the Club’s new manager.
‘The 48-year-old has signed a two-and-half-year contract…’
Well it’s short-term relative to Arsene Wenger.
Pottery glass half-full
Stoke – announcing Paul Lambert as manager to a collective groan from fans – claim that ‘arguably his greatest managerial achievement was keeping Aston Villa in the Premier League against all expectations in difficult circumstances’.
Isn’t hindsight a wonderful thing? There we were thinking Villa twice finished 15th under Lambert and he was sacked in February 2015 with the club in 18th. Clue: If your club has to appoint Tim Sherwood to survive, you have not done a very good job.
To be fair, ‘expectations’ were indeed low in December 2012 after Lambert led them to an 8-0 defeat at Chelsea and consecutive 4-0 and 2-0 defeats at home. Well done Paul, you climbed out of that massive hole you dug yourself; have another Premier League job.
Story of the day
‘What Granit Xhaka did at full-time following Arsenal’s defeat to Bournemouth’ – Mirror online.
Spoiler: He ‘simply stood motionless’.
Thanks to today’s Mediawatch spotter Wubblepig. Mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org if you spot anything that belongs on this page.