The ideal scenario? Spurs v Man City draw and then a Sunday goal race

Editor F365
James Maddison is back for Spurs.
James Maddison is back for Spurs.

What do we want? Spurs to pull off an unlikely draw v Man City. Because that means a Sunday goal-fest as Man City try to outscore Arsenal.

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Aston Villa v Liverpool: A journey
Diego Carlos shoving Watkins out of the way to miss the chance of the season is some going.

I hate football.


…When I’m playing 5 aside and desperate for a goal, I try a back heel. Diaby and Watkins both tried that tonight – great composure guys.


…That was a mad game.


It was exhausting
Well that was a bonkers game of football. I’ll leave the Duran Duran jokes for elsewhere. Villa could have had 6. Liverpool could have had 6 too. Both teams were excellent and terrible at the same time. Would have preferred to win and secure Champions League football, but a draw tomorrow now does that and makes the battle at the top fascinating. That’ll do.

Jhon Duran is Villa’s Nunez/Jackson Lite. Equally fun and infuriating. What a season. Every player has played some part at various points. Even Chambers got an assist tonight. I’m exhausted.
Gary AVFC, Oxford

READ: Emi Martinez offers Arsenal hope in title race they would already have won with him over David Raya


Is Quansah worth a call-up?
Gareth is at Villa Park. He has seen really good shifts from JoGo (bonito) Harvey Elliot and Quansah, even if he was possibly there to run the rule over Ezri Konsa, perhaps only Gomez will get into the squad, based on his flexibility, while the other two will have to wait.

Quansah has come on as fast as Stones did. I’d have him in the squad as nothing seems to faze him, though I’d be surprised if Southgate picked him.

Anyway, what a game! Full on, great watch.
Peter, Andalucia


The ideal scenario
The current situation leading up to the Spurs-Man City match sums up ‘Spursiness’ perfectly. No matter what they do, they’re in a no-win situation. If they win/draw, it helps Arsenal. If they lose, it’s another defeat for ‘Ange-ball’ (remember when that was a thing? No, me neither).

The ideal scenario is that the match finishes in a draw, leaving Arsenal and Man City level on 86 points, with Arsenal three ahead on goal difference, meaning City having to win and by enough to overturn the goal difference (assuming Arsenal are beating Everton!). There was a situation like that in Scotland in 2003, with Rangers beating Celtic to the title by a goal difference of 1. Arteta scored a crucial late penalty on the final day for Rangers.
Matthew, Belfast

Big Midweek: Tottenham (and Arsenal fans) v Man City, Ten Hag, Reece James, Leeds v Norwich

📣TO THE COMMENTS! Is this the ideal scenario? Can Spurs do it? Join the debate here


Where’s the excitement about the football?
So the Premier League is coming down to the last week, maybe even the final day! Excited? No, me neither. Arsenal win at Old Trafford for the first time in forever and City continue to destroy all in front of them, two juggernauts relentlessly pushing each other towards the finish line.

Why’s Ten Hag playing Casemiro at centre back!!!! Old Trafford’s falling apart at the seams!1!1!! This one guy says Arsenal aren’t all that, Raya’s rubbish and Saliba’s only the second best defender in the country 11!!one!!

Obviously there are no clicks in actual football any more and obviously there are more clicks in anything Man Utd but come on… The unrelenting focus on negativity will destroy football, it may even be dead already as it seems nobody’s interested in enjoying it any more. I imagine that if we see an Agueroooo moment at the weekend we’ll be inundated with articles about how Ten Hag didn’t start with a full eleven of injured players playing out of position. The idiot. Or how Rio Ferdinand thinks Saka’s six goals against Everton (let a man dream please) aren’t all that and he’s not as good as Anthony.

I read the latest Utd negativity totally bemused. Are we honestly supposed to believe that Ten Hag not starting recently recovered players in a dead rubber with Arsenal was a surprise? With an FA Cup final in a few weeks? Did anyone, literally anyone, think that he’d rush Martinez or Rashford back and risk them for the final? Could you imagine the press if he had?

The negativity is the only constant, it’s inevitable, it’s divorced from reality and it’s really, really tiresome. It’s also not enough to be negative any more, there has to be a twist, one fan spotted this thing and everyone else agrees. Casemiro, an exceedingly experienced Champions League winner daudles and costs a goal. Bad Casemiro. Oh no, apparently that’s somehow Ten Hag’s fault for not training him properly.

In an alternative reality we’re all raging about how Casemiro wants to leave because Ten Hag’s insulting him by trying to teach him how to keep up with the defensive line, what’s Ten Hag doing? Rashford and Fernandes didn’t play for Utd, how dare they! Why didn’t they name themselves in the starting lineup like no other footballers in no other clubs do?

The proof that it’s out of control? Lots of water fell from the sky and Old Trafford got wet. The Met Office forecasts that there’s going to be thunderstorms in a country where talking about rain is literally a national pastime. Water makes things wet, it’s the main thing that it does, but somehow this is something to make an hour video or podcast about. If this surprises you and makes you angry you’re going to have to admit that it’s not football you’re interested in, it’s rage.


In Manchester…
SC, Belfast (I see the irony in this mail but it’s literally my point)


Man Utd might as well stick with Ten Hag
Reading Rami’s contribution on Monday morning brought home that the summer silly season really is about to arrive. That time when an absence of actual league football drives a plethora of mad ramblings into the mailbox.

Ten Hag’s in it for the money and won’t finish higher than fifth! Fifth!! I hate to break it to Rami but ETH would probably trade at least one major organ in exchange for fifth at this point. Rami could of course mean next year. But then Rami, ETH finished third last year so what exactly are you basing this conclusion on?

I wrote in 2022 that ETH wouldn’t change anything meaningful and could at best hope to emerge from United with his reputation intact (no chance of that now). Looking objectively at this season it has been an unmitigated disaster for which ETH has very hard questions to answer. Injuries aside why have they no discernible approach to the game? And for that matter why have there been so many injuries? His signings are extremely questionable and the defence is a total train wreck.

But step back for a moment. Applying the wide angle lens United have chewed through 6 managers in 10 years. Each has had pedigree of one sort or another. United have tried different styles/types each ending in misery. The common factor is of course – United itself.

Ratcliffe represents the first significant change of the institution in 20 years. The team he’s putting in place have genuine pedigree. In the circumstances I believe the sensible approach would be to retain ETH and give him a season under the new regime. What really do they have to lose? Another lost year would be the height of it. In the context of the lifespan of the club it’s meaningless.

There’s no question 2024 will represent the nadir of the post Ferguson years. ETH can’t complain if he’s let go. It’s what the Glazers would do. But I think there’s a chance Ratcliffe’s team are more strategic. Let the new guys bed in, start to make the changes and if next year is poor from a managerial perspective ETH can be waved off without having to paid off.

And Rami. Mourinho behaving with dignity you say? If you can manufacture those rose tinted glasses you’ll make a fortune.
Your old pal Stevo

READ: Five reasons Man Utd, Ratcliffe should not sack Ten Hag: Injuries, Carabao Cup, FA Cup success…


…​So Rami, Ten Hag isn’t a very good manager and won’t ever finish higher than 5th will he not? No higher than 5th?

And Ten Hag is playing the media game well but a few weeks ago he ‘couldn’t handle the media pressure’, and a few weeks before that ‘he only ever says the same thing to the media’ so which is it? Or did you stop listening to the press conferences in December?

And we’re going to speak about Mourinho as being honest and dignified are we? Is that the level humanity has dropped to?

It’s true United’s downfall is even remotely ‘ALL’ Ten Hag’s fault isn’t it? But you kind of tried to imply it was didn’t you?

And are United only as big a club as Newcastle, Brighton, and West Ham, or did you just look at the teams near us in the table?

Finally, isn’t it entitled to scoff and belittle one of only four major trophies on offer each year especially when some of the best clubs in the world are your competitors?
Dave, Manchester


Are Man Utd on the brink?
City fan here. I’d just like to say, truthfully, that whoever wins the PL this year will have deserved it. Obviously, I hope it will be City but if they do, you’ll get no ‘bottling’ talk from me nor, I suspect, from any other City supporters about Arsenal. They’ve just been excellent this season.

I write because I’m not as young as I used to be and, having gone through the Gillingham play-off final and THAT Aguero moment, I’m fairly sure the old ticker won’t be able to cope with any more last-day, last-minute shenanigans that my Club seem to delight in inflicting on its supporters.

As such, if the Spurs team could see their way to eating some more dodgy pizza (or pasta whatever it was) tonight and then for West Ham to do the same with some iffy Pie and Mash on Sunday morning, I’d be obliged. Ta muchly.

On another, and more serious note, I do genuinely wonder if Man United are on the brink here. It seems to me that the broad ‘strategy’ (if you can call it that) in the last ten years+ has been firstly to buy marquee players not because they will enhance the team, but to keep the (massive) MUFC ‘brand’ relevant and ‘alive.’ Secondly, to ensure a CL spot for much the same reason. And that is to keep the money coming in, and then be siphoned off by the Glazers, almost regardless of whether United win trophies or not.

Ronaldo complained, amongst other things, that the facilities, tech, and staff hadn’t changed upon his return to United, from what they had been when he was there at 20 years old. Rangnick’s comments are well known, however much they were derided at the time, but do nothing but support the view that the club is crumbling from within and has been for years. Which other PL club has its own waterfall feature during a game? It’s damning.

All now rests on INEOS and Ratcliffe and his attempts to persuade Kier Starmer to put public funds into either the refurbishment, or complete re-build of Old Trafford. Why on earth would they? But my main fear is that the basic premise of the Glazers only being interested in sucking money out, rather than pumping it into the club’s infrastructure, remains unchanged. And will do until somebody like Qatar comes in and meets the ridiculously high price the owner’s demand.

Time is not on their side though. This Man United ‘brand’ won’t last forever and any extended absence from the CL will make it all the more difficult to attract either the best players or managers.
Mark (Watching the Spurs game from behind the sofa tonight as though it was Dr Who in the ‘70s). MCFC


Three random thoughts
Arsenal are top of the table with one game to go. If they don’t win it now they are quite obviously the bottliest bottlers in the history of bottling.

Yes Xabi Alonso’s achievements with the Leverkusen Invincibles are impressive but could he do it on a rainy Tuesday in Stoke? Jury’s out for me Clive.

Real Madrid do indeed seem to be in possession of a Champions League cheat code. There is, however, one fool proof way to prevent them winning next year’s competition. Sell them Harry Kane.
Conor Malone, Donegal


Welcome back, John
I was scrolling down the mailbox and was really pleased to see John Matrix make a return.

I never thought Arsenal would do it but the league is going down to the wire, so my message to John is – get down the pub Sunday and have a drink to your late brother.

And to the Scousers, I’ll always remember Arsene’s last home game at the Emirates and the reception he got. Sunday will be a sad day for you guys and Klopp will be missed – and not just be the red side of Liverpool. Class act.
Graham Simons, Gooner, Norf London


Fun times for Palace
* There’s something about an end of season almost dead rubber where, instead of going through the motions, a team tries to score aesthetically pleasing goals. The first of these in Saturday’s game between Wolves and Crystal Palace came courtesy of Michael Olise. Receiving the ball on the right hand side just outside the penalty area, he moved to his left and curled a shot into the far corner. Two nice touches on this: first, Olise arching his back to see round the defender he had just beaten and watch the ball go in; then, Jacqui Oatley commentating on the world feed (Sky Sports highlights) describing this as “it’s Olise … looking to unleash one”, in a nod to the line from the 1997 Division One Playoff Final describing David Hopkin’s winner for Palace, which inspired the name of a Twitter account and podcast.

* Speaking of podcasts, recently Gary Lineker told Football Cliches he’s a big fan of goals where someone rounds the goalkeeper. Well, he probably enjoyed Eberechi Eze’s goal nearly as much as I did. The ball was originally played forward to Olise by Naouirou Ahamada, who drew in multiple defenders before playing a through ball to Eze.

* It was an eventful afternoon for Ahamada, who has previously found his opportunities to play incredibly limited. He came on as an early substitute for Will Hughes, and as well as contributing to Eze’s goal, picked up two yellow cards. The first was for kicking the ball away at a free kick, and it staggers me people are still doing this knowing they will be punished. The second was for a foul originally believed to be inside the area but eventually determined to be outside; either way, it was definitely a yellow card offence.

Ahamada’s career is at a bit of a crossroads. He was an exciting prospect when he joined in the January 2023 transfer window, and featured occasionally under Patrick Vieira. He then found himself sidelined by Roy Hodgson and then the subject of suggestion that he doesn’t really fit Oliver Glasner’s system. It will be interesting to see what happens to him over the summer, whether Glasner continues teaching him a system in which his opportunities may be limited when everyone’s available, or whether he decides to cut his losses and seek a new opportunity.

* Should he stay, he risks becoming the new Jairo Riedewald, given that the actual Jairo Riedewald will be leaving the club this summer after making just 79 appearances in seven seasons. He deserves credit for sticking around, and he’s always been popular with fans who have wanted to see more from him, but too often he just hasn’t made the most of his opportunities. Much like James Tomkins, he will leave on good terms for their years of service to the club but with most people feeling it’s time for a new start for all involved.

* Finally on Palace, their win over Wolves takes them to 21 points from 12 games. In a parallel universe where they carried that form across a whole season, that’s worth 65 points. With that, a win for Liverpool over Aston Villa would mean Palace v Villa on Sunday would be a contest for the final Champions League place. In the real world, if Palace beat the Villans, they can go to 49 points. They could finish ahead of Brighton on goal difference if Albion lose their remaining two games, which are against Chelsea and Manchester United. Yeah I’m not confident either.

* Complaining about players being eligible for young player awards while also being eligible for overall awards is a bit futile, but as the season winds down let’s do it anyway. It’s a bit like the white jersey for the highest-placed under-26 in the Tour de France: it looks a bit pointless when someone like Tadej Pogacar can win it four times, twice while winning the actual race (and twice while finishing second), but to ignore his exploits would be unfair on him and whoever wins it as a result of his exemption. There has been talk in recent years of possibly changing it to a rider of any age in their first Tour de France, a bit like a rookie of the year prize in North America.

Applying this to football, I’d be in favour of it being the best young player (under-23, say) who begins a Premier League season with 38 or fewer top flight appearances before the start of this season. Whittling players down with these and using Whoscored ratings, this produces a top three of Conor Bradley, Nicolas Jackson and a deserving winner in Cole Palmer.
Ed Quoththeraven


Winners and losers correction
Who gets booked for simulation in 2024? Miguel Almiron, but also Julio Enciso. It looked like they were both trying out for the upcoming Olympics for the Paraguayan diving team.

Should/could it have been a red card for Miggy for DOGSO? Does that apply if the goal scoring opportunity is for your team? If he had stayed on his feet, it looked like there was a good opportunity for either a shot or a pass across the goal mouth. Either one would have been a better option than what he decided on. I would have been okay with a red card for this, as this was the last best chance for another goal, and his first choice was to attempt to win a penalty instead of playing on for a chance to score.
Mitch (NUFC)