8-2. Oh my God. Arsene, you’ve been watching Baby’s Day Out, haven’t you?
In case you aren’t familiar with that movie, most of it involves three extremely pissed-off kidnappers chasing an adorable, bumbling baby, with the gangsters getting the ever-lovin’ shit kicked out of them thanks to a series of barely believable accidents. Goddamn it, Arsene, that’s Hollywood! In real life, 8-2 is what you get.
Moreover, the similarity with that film goes out the window when you consider that Manchester United had marginally the younger team on the pitch, with an average age of 23 to Arsenal’s 23-and-a-half. Staying with the Hollywood-versus-real-life comparison, this now feels more like how a beginner like Daniel LaRusso would have fared in the All Valley Karate Tournament if you take away the movie logic from The Karate Kid.
It would be hard to pick Arsenal’s worst performer on such a wretched day, but when the dust settled Carl Jenkinson had done enough to earn himself that coveted badge for which his teammates (barring, ironically, their goalkeeper Wojciech “God-knows-how-you-pronounce-his-name” Szczesny) had given their all. One suspects, however, that Wenger was rather relieved to see Jenkinson given his marching orders – Arsenal may well have conceded more with him on the pitch, given the 19-year-old’s ability to score jaw-dropping own goals (if you haven’t seen his howler against Cologne, YouTube it ASAP). He was caught repeatedly out of position, with Ashley Young and Patrice Evra often getting in behind him with acres of space in front. Going forward, he was perhaps acceptable, but still managed a comedy moment when he slipped trying to whip in a cross. His colleagues weren’t much better, Djourou and Koscielny joke-hypnotised by Anderson’s hopeful ball for the first goal and Arshavin acting like he couldn’t give even the proverbial rodent’s hindquarters about the way the game was going.
Manchester United, for their part, were imperious, with the ball repeatedly nestling in the top corner (take a bow, Rooney and Young). It is hard to believe that they will shoot so accurately on any given day; however, Wayne Rooney made a genuine case for himself as the world’s best player. Before you ask, this writer is a huge admirer of Messi, Xavi and Iniesta, so don’t get started on the whole EPL-bias thing. What Roo lacks in dribbling and slick play, he makes up for with his pinpoint delivery and incredible shooting. Apart from his two free kicks, one particular instance in the second half stood out, the ball clipping the post with Szczesny left stranded. To put it bluntly, he’s still an inelegant ‘hoofer’ when you compare him to the Catalan stalwarts, but one hell of a hoofer all the same. And if he continues yesterday’s form, well, the sky’s the limit.
Manchester City thumped ‘Arry Redknapp’s Spurs 5-1 at White Hart Lane, and will feel hard done by that their arguably more impressive victory was overshadowed. Edin Dzeko, after revealing a touch so heavy that he couldn’t trap a bag of concrete in his first season, is now in a deadly mood. Sergio Aguero and David Silva are the class acts I knew they would be; and the entrance of Samir Nasri has made it a City frontline for fans to salivate about. Roberto Mancini, who inexplicably used Yaya “Players-bounce-off-me” Toure in the playmaker’s position last season, will hopefully have had some sense knocked into him by the wonderful displays of David Silva in the No. 10 role.
Elsewhere, Liverpool and Chelsea both posted 3-1 victories which could not have been more contrasting in spite of their identical scoreline. In Spain, Real Madrid picked up exactly where they left off in the league last season. Emphatic scoreline – check. Cristiano Ronaldo hat-trick – check. (At least two of them mega-sitters? Check.) It should be interesting to see how they match up against Barcelona this season. The Supercopa Espana was one of the best two-legged ties I’ve ever watched.
Barcelona take on Villarreal tonight, and I predict a 3-0 scoreline in favour of the Blaugrana with Lionel Messi heavily involved again. That man has scored four and assisted three in the seven goals that Barca have scored in competitive matches this season. In case that stat hasn’t fully registered – 4 and 3 add to 7. Now it’s back to pre-school for you.
Before the next weekend of club football, I will stick my neck out and this column will feature predictions on the matches involving the big clubs in England and Spain, for the sole purpose of the commenters and my co-authors shouting “EPIC FAIL!” on Monday. I’ve got used to it. Sigh. You can imagine the life I have.
Adios, until then!
P.S. – People, stop being so desper8-2 make puns! 😐