Pinching an inch
It’s a lovely narrative, the idea that Manchester City could win the title by less than 30mm after their goal against Burnley on Sunday, but it would be far more believable if that goal had not come in the 63rd minute. The notion that City – who had 25 shots at Turf Moor – would not have somehow scored in the following half-hour of football is a nonsense. After all, only Liverpool and Chelsea have stopped them scoring in the Premier League all season. But facts are no fun; this is why Mediawatch is never invited to parties.
The Sun‘s back page tells us that ‘the striker’s shot only counted thanks to goal-line technology’, which is an odd way of saying that Sergio Aguero scored a goal.
Apparently, ‘it was the second time the leaders have benefited from a fractional goal-line call this season, after John Stones cleared off the line against their title rivals in January’, which is an odd way of saying that Liverpool did not score a goal in January.
The Daily Mirror say that 29.51mm ‘could be the difference between winning and losing the title’, which is frankly bollocks. And if you reduce an enthralling 38-game battle contested by two supreme teams into one goal (that was actually a goal) in the 63rd minute of a game that was being dominated by one of those supreme teams, then you Sir are an idiot.
Apropos of nothing, here’s John Cross: ‘IN a title race of the finest margins, how fitting it might end up being decided by a matter of millimetres.’
How fitting indeed.
There but for the grace of goal-line technology…
And on the same subject, here is Martin Samuel in the Daily Mail:
‘Without goal-line technology they would most likely have drawn and the advantage placed in Liverpool’s hands.’
It was the 63rd bloody minute, guys. We don’t think that they would have simply stopped trying.
The Daily Mail‘s Martin Keown has had his say on the PFA Team of the Year, writing that Paul Pogba is undeserving of his place – which is hardly revolutionary. So who should have been picked?
‘I would have picked David Silva instead. The voting for these awards should be held later in the season.’
Mediawatch is not sure how ‘late’ the voting could be held to cover up the fact that Silva has had his worst season in a Manchester City shirt; after all, he has claimed neither goal nor assist since early March.
One goal, two descriptions
Andy Dunn, the Daily Mirror: ‘…a Juan Mata finish that was, between Romelu Lukaku and Luke Shaw, the product of ingenious interplay so rarely orchestrated by manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer in recent times.’
Neil Ashton, The Sun: ‘Mata, in the team from nowhere, scored against his former club after a functional move involving Romelu Lukaku and Luke Shaw.’
Over to The Sun website now, and they have taken a picture of Ed Woodward arriving at Manchester United training – as he often does the morning after a home game – and then run really, really fast in the direction of baseless conjecture.
‘MANCHESTER UNITED chief Ed Woodward arrived at training this morning to hold showdown talks with Ole Gunnar Solskjaer – with their Champions League hopes in tatters.’
You don’t know that, do you, Dave Fraser? That’s just a guess, isn’t it?
‘The executive vice-chairman, making a rare appearance at the Aon training complex, will speak with the Norwegian boss to address the alarming slump in form following Sunday’s 1-1 draw with Chelsea.’
Well he might.
And that possibility is definitely the biggest thing in football on Monday morning.
Bread and butter
Arsenal were abject on Sunday; there is little doubt about that. Once again they lost and once again they conceded three goals. But once again, reporters at away grounds watched them in earnest for the first time in however long and declared Unai Emery a failure.
In The Sun it’s the turn of David Coverdale to tear strips off an Arsenal side who are just two points adrift of fourth place. Last season, that gap was 12 points.
‘Emery, who stayed in his seat like a naughty schoolboy after ref Michael Oliver gave him a second-half ticking-off, does not look to have taken this team on since Arsene Wenger’s exit.’
Well, they literally have more points than last season already, but carry on…
‘Yes, Arsenal have progressed serenely to the semi-finals of the Europa League.’
Well, that is pretty important. And they did just beat Napoli over two legs, which was really quite impressive.
‘But in their bread and butter back home, only Everton have lost more away games in the top ten.’
Yep, and only Manchester City and Liverpool have won more home games in the whole of the Premier League. The last time we checked, all of the games counted – not just the ones you watch.
And here’s Tony Cascarino on Arsenal in The Times, with a sentence we have read 17 times and still not fully understood:
‘Arsenal have not really looked like a top-six team over the course of the season.’
If only there was a way of checking if they really are a top-six team (and have been since mid-September). And if only there was a way of checking the gap between fifth-placed Arsenal and seventh-placed Wolves to authenticate any claim that they are indeed ‘a top-six team’.
‘They had that long winning run early in the campaign but even then that was with narrow victories in tight games.’
Pesky fact: In a seven-game winning run, only two of those victories were by a single goal.
You will go to the ball…
The tradition of match reports in Monday newspapers being led on quotes – regardless of their relevance to the actual game – looks even more ridiculous than usual when the Daily Mirror‘s Darren Lewis goes to see Tottenham lose for the first time at home to West Ham and then writes a ‘report’ than begins thus:
‘FOOTBALL’s fairy Godmother appears to be circling Fernando Llorente.’
Yep, he sure was lucky to play 35 minutes against the Hammers in which he touched the ball 14 times, completed six passes and did not have a single shot, only to find himself still talking to journalists.
As for West Ham…they get a mention in the 17th paragraph of a 20-paragraph story.
Recommended reading of the day
Ken Early on football’s new age
Jonathan Liew…in defence of Paul Pogba