The big match preview we all needed
‘Xhaka chills out with his wife ahead of crunch Premier League clash with rivals Tottenham’ – MailOnline.
A truly spectacular one-eyed assessment
There are certain people in the media who have it in for Marco Silva, and the Daily Mirror’s Andy Dunn, ‘Britain’s best sports writer’, is one. His piece on Silva on Friday is truly exceptional, a bona fide hatchet job:
‘No one could deny that Marco Silva pulled off one of the most unlikely Premier League feats of the season at Goodison Park.
‘Leading 2-0 with just over 20 minutes to go and with 62 per cent of possession, he managed to somehow get beaten by an Everton side bereft of confidence and form, a team playing largely hopeless stuff.
‘That must have been the clincher for Farhad Moshiri and Bill Kenwright. There’s our man. Let’s double his money and give Watford a hefty wedge.
‘Or maybe it was a 6-0 thumping by Manchester City or his record of three wins in his last nine Premier League games. That 7-1 home crushing by Spurs in his final act as Hull City manager must have helped.’
It’s as if, and bear with us here, Watford and Hull City aren’t as good as Manchester City and Tottenham, and therefore Everton have looked beyond the results Dunn mentions.
What is odd is that Dunn missed out Silva’s victories over Manchester United and Liverpool when in charge of Hull in his assessment of the manager.
It’s funny too that Dunn also doesn’t mention that the only managers with more Premier League points since Silva arrived in England (and took over teams in 20th and 17th place) are Mauricio Pochettino, Antonio Conte, Jose Mourinho, Arsene Wenger, Pep Guardiola and Jurgen Klopp. It’s almost like he was deliberately over-playing the negative elements of Silva’s record in order to fit a frankly weird agenda.
How about this: No one could deny that Pep Guardiola pulled off one of the most unlikely Premier League feats of last season at the King Power Stadium, going 4-0 down to a Leicester City team that had one won of their last eight games.
Presumably Guardiola also wouldn’t warrant Everton’s attention?
And this, well…
‘Neymar’s sporadically brilliant but slapdash performance at Wembley probably had something to do with his keenness to get out for a spot of serious clubbing in London’ – Andy Dunn, Daily Mirror.
Probably Britain’s best sports writer.
In Friday’s The Sun, Neil Ashton describes Thierry Henry interviewing Harry Kane at Tottenham’s training ground as a ‘trip behind enemy lines’ and ‘a treacherous act’.
Or, alternatively, a man interviewing a player as part of his punditry job. Not everything is a bloody war.
In the Daily Mail, Ian Ladyman has written a detailed (and very good) piece about Jose Mourinho’s mood and mindset at Manchester United, but Mediawatch can’t help thinking that Ladyman is giving Mourinho a little too much credit here:
‘Ahead of Saturday evening’s home game against Newcastle, United are second in the Premier League. To be ahead of Chelsea, a re-energised Liverpool and the much-feted Tottenham is a significant Mourinho achievement.’
Is it really a ‘significant achievement’ to have the pre-season second favourites in second (and as close to tenth as first in terms of the points gap)?
After all, Ladyman himself picked United to finish second in August, and didn’t even pick a ‘re-energised’ Liverpool to make the top four. For what it’s worth, he picked United to finish second last season too.
‘Arsenal’s Arsene Wenger jokes he’ll threaten to EXECUTE his players if they don’t win the north London derby’ – Daily Mirror.
Erm, no he didn’t. What Wenger actually said:
“I think if that was the only way to feel football games, you would say, ‘If you don’t win the game, you are killed after it. You are executed.’
“That shows you that putting people up against the wall is not the only way. That’s why it’s so difficult to win a game.”
Which part of that is him threatening to execute his players, in jest or otherwise?
No easy games
From Paul Merson’s predictions column for Sky Sports:
‘I think it will be a hard game as Watford are one of those teams that are alright’
‘I will go for a Man City win but this will be a hard game for City.’
‘I am going to go for Chelsea, although I think it will be a hard game.’
‘Man Utd have good fixtures coming up, but it will be a difficult game.’
Sticking with that Paul Merson column for a minute:
“I think Everton have just got to make sure they do not lose, it is as simple as that. I think if they can come away and not lose, they will be alright.
“But I think Palace have to win this football match as it will be another game gone where they have not won.”
A reminder: Don’t just transcribe everything he says.
There is something wonderfully Mark Lawrenson about the start of his BBC Sport predictions column. There is excitement at the end of the international break, but not for a man who has turned curmudgeonliness into a career:
‘Arsenal v Tottenham (12:30 GMT)
This feels like a strange game to start us off again after two weeks without the Premier League.
‘There has still been plenty of hype about it, but I think there would have been more without the international break. Will that hype be justified? Probably not.’
Football story of the day
‘Former Toon star Andy Carroll has welcomed his second child with partner Billi Mucklow. The Gateshead-born footballer and his TOWIE fiancee have named their new son Wolf Nine Carroll’ – Newcastle Chronicle.
Recommended reading of the day
Mike Keegan on how Pep Guardiola has changed Manchester City.
Thierry Henry with Harry Kane.
James Ducker on John Stones.