Kepa of the lost Citys
Whatever your opinion of Kepa Arrizabalaga, Maurizio Sarri, Chelsea and an otherwise rather sleepy League Cup final, it would be nice if everyone agreed not to get too carried away.
It might have been a simple “miscommunication”, it might have been a player refusing to obey the orders of his manager, and it might have fallen somewhere in between. No-one outside of Stamford Bridge truly knows.
Unless you are The Sun, who suggest that Kepa ‘faces a rollicking for his wildcat action’. At which point Mediawatch wonders when he imitated a small native Eurasian and African cat that is typically grey with black markings and a bushy tail.
Neil Ashton brands the Spaniard ‘petulant’ and ‘childish’, and Dave Kidd suggests he is ‘guilty of mutiny’. Over at the Daily Mirror, Andy Dunn accuses him of ‘unforgivable defiance’, while Martin Samuel of the Daily Mail calls Kepa ‘subordinate’.
It is all pretty tame, standard stuff – nothing out of the ordinary.
Until Chris Sutton comes crashing through the window of this china shop like a particularly riled bull.
‘After this, Kepa should never play for Chelsea again,’ he writes in the Daily Mail, a matter of hours after telling talkSPORT (it pays to be controversial twice) that “that should be his last performance in a Chelsea shirt” and “Kepa should be sacked, not Sarri”.
They signed him for £71.6m on a five-year contract worth £160,000 a week – a £113.2m investment. They face a transfer ban that covers the next two windows. Their current back-up goalkeepers are Willy Caballero and Rob Green.
A reminder, were it ever necessary: Never employ Chris Sutton as director of football.
The same stands for Garth Crooks and his BBC Sport view of ‘this outrageous incident’:
‘This was an act of pure and utter self-indulgence. Should Sarri survive this embarrassment, Kepa should not play another game for Chelsea without a full and sincere apology to his manager, the club, his team-mates and supporters. And he should think himself lucky he still has a contract at all.’
Mediawatch would pay to watch the court proceedings that result from Chelsea ripping up a contract worth £41.6m because of what they themselves have publicly described as a “miscommunication”.
Sutton and sweep
‘To point-blank refuse to be substituted is a disgrace. It’s disgusting. I have never seen anything like it on a football field. It is a complete lack of respect from a player towards his manager’ – Chris Sutton, Daily Mail.
Just imagine if he reacted in ‘a fit of pique‘ at being called up to Spain’s B squad, defying both his club and international manager. Oh, the unadulterated horror.
‘The astonishing incident could and probably will end up costing Sarri his job’ – Alan Shearer, The Sun.
Well, either that or losing 4-0 to Bournemouth. Being ignored by one of his players at the end of a fine team performance in a cup final might not have been quite so damaging.
Writes Martin Samuel:
‘A smidgen of sympathy, too, for Raheem Sterling, scorer of the vital fourth, and winning, penalty for Manchester City after Leroy Sane’s miss.’
How humble and honest of a Daily Mail journalist to offer ‘a smidgen of sympathy’ to the ‘twerp’ their newspaper demanded an apology from eight months ago.
Earn your Spurs
Forget all that rubbish from Wembley, because Liverpool drew with Manchester United on Sunday. And that is big money.
You see, the benefits of writing about Liverpool for The Sun is that absolutely no sod on Merseyside will read it. Which is how we get to a point where the current Premier League leaders are described as ‘very Spursy’.
‘Jurgen Klopp saw his Liverpool title hopes battered again – as frustrations boiled over at Old Trafford,’ reads the first paragraph to Mike McGrath’s match report from a game where Liverpool’s title hopes were ‘battered’ by going one point clear of their closest rivals.
But it is Charlie Wyett who lays it on the thickest, for want of a better word.
‘Liverpool fans chanted about being top of the league but, deep down, they know their team is choking,’ he writes.
‘It is almost as if they are now giving Spurs a real fight to land the crown as the great bottle jobs of English football.’
He proceeds to detail the title races of 2015/16 and 2016/17, when Tottenham ‘fell away’ despite literally never being top in either season.
But this is about Liverpool, who are now ‘very Spursy’ after drawing away at a Manchester United side who were unbeaten in nine games and have won against Tottenham, Arsenal and Chelsea in recent weeks.
‘Jurgen Klopp’s team look to be haunted by the ghosts of 2014, Liverpool’s previous title cock-up.’
They have lost one game all season, Charlie. What is wrong with you?
‘As for Liverpool fans thinking it is finally going to be their year, disappointment is around the corner.’
Only six clubs have ever had more points after 27 games of a single Premier League season, and all went on to win the title. Liverpool might not follow in those footsteps, but let’s at least wait until they are not literally top before declaring their race run, shall we?
Que, Salah, Salah
Wyett’s main point is that Liverpool’s ‘three musketeers’ looked ‘once again blunt’.
It is a fair suggestion, and certainly not unique – although Sadio Mane has four goals in six games and Mohamed Salah has four in seven. Roberto Firmino, with one in eight, is undoubtedly a worry.
Not for Wyett, who is taking aim at the Premier League’s actual top scorer.
‘Yet the real cause for concern – and the reason why Liverpool’s title challenge is in danger of collapsing – is Mo Salah’s curious decision to impersonate Mesut Ozil.’
Ah, a completely unnecessary pop at a completely irrelevant player. Lovely.
Wyett is right in adding that Salah ‘was anonymous’ at Old Trafford, but this is apparently part of a wider malaise.
‘So while he has managed just one in five, the main concern is his terrible record against Liverpool’s big rivals.
‘The Egyptian has now failed to score in either of his four matches against United and Manchester City this season. He did not find the net in either Champions League match against Paris Saint-Germain, or Bayern in midweek. Or Chelsea away, Tottenham away, Arsenal away and Everton at home.
‘Arsenal’s Ozil has often been accused of being a flat-track bully – only turning up against weaker opposition – and Salah will hopefully prove he is better than that.’
Well he scored against Napoli in a Champions League group game Liverpool absolutely had to win to qualify. And since joining Liverpool he has scored three goals in three games against Tottenham, one in three starts against Chelsea, three in six games against Manchester City (with two assists), three in four games against Arsenal (with two assists) and one (Puskas Award-winning) goal in two games against Everton.
Sh*te like Ozil though, isn’t he?
I really wanna shout it
‘I am starting to become quite a fan of Paul Pogba…He’s become a grown-up.’
Garth Crooks is football’s most successful parody.