Hello everyone! Another week, another TWUTAB. Now, as I’ve been wanging on about for time immemorial it was my birthday yesterday so my football watching has been somewhat limited this weekend, which is fine actually because it was FA Cup weekend in England for the men and the women. I’m also going to skip Europe this week because I don’t think anything especially exciting happened, except for Napoli’s game against Roma yesterday, look up the highlights if you can.
The FA Cup started on Friday with Arsenal’s first trip of the season to the Etihad. It was a weird game for me because yes, it’s always good to win but at the same time… it’s not like I don’t care about the FA Cup because I do, Arsenal have won it more than anyone, it’s our Cup! However, given how the league is going I really want that more than anything, so if we have to sacrifice cup competitions along the way, so be it. Good though we are and the job Mikel has done is amazing, but I don’t think we’re yet at the level where we can make a push for a double/treble/quadruple.
Thanks for reading The Way U Talk About Ball! Subscribe for free to receive new posts and support my work.
So it was then on Friday that we fielded a changed team from our usual League 11. Matt Turner came on in goal, Tierney, Holding, Vieira and Tomiyasu started and Saliba, White, Ødegaard and Martinelli were on the bench.
City rested Ederson but other than that it’s pretty hard for them to field an understrength team and, perhaps most tellingly, Haaland started.
So it was great to get to half time unscathed and with some great play and several decent chances. I felt more chilled out watching this game than any other this season but it was still a relief/nice to keep City at bay for 45. In the second half City definitely ramped things up but Arsenal held their own until a weird, slo-mo strike from Nathan Ake put City ahead. Please don’t think I’m criticising the goal, it was a lovely shot, it just, to me anyway, looked really weird both live and in replay, almost like the ball was going through syrup or something.
The good thing from that point was that Arsenal stopped City from scoring again. The bad thing was that we couldn’t score for ourselves either. I say bad thing, I don’t think anyone wanted a replay, not really, so we would have needed two goals, and that just didn’t feel likely to happen.
As I tweeted afterwards, it’s difficult to put across how you’re OK with a loss without the fear of rival fans thinking you’re lying and are secretly rattled but I wasn’t! Like I mentioned at the top this was a perfectly acceptable game to lose and it was certainly acceptable to lose it in that fashion. Onwards to the 15th and City at the Emirates in the league…
Saturday and Sunday is where I only really managed to dabble in the games so forgive me for only briefly talking about them and yet again going Arsenal heavy: if it helps I’m away overnight next Saturday and have to leave mid-game so maybe I’ll have less to say about us in the next issue? (I won’t lol)
The early kick offs on Saturday saw Leeds take on Accrington Stanley (who are they?) and recent winners Leicester City go to the short distance to Walsall.
Unfortunately, because I enjoy Leeds, I was having my nails done, after waiting a full 45 minutes from my booked appointment time to get started so I missed the vast majority of the televised game which saw Leeds run out 1-3 winners. I understand there was an amusing incident where the ball ended up in the gantry and Steve Bower had to throw it back. They didn’t cover that on MOTD so I’m just going to have to believe my source on that one!
Leicester also came good, squeezing past Walsall 0-1 thanks to a fantastic Iheanacho strike.
The 3 o’clock games saw a raft of draws and therefore replays, with only Bristol City and Southampton managing to get a definitive result.
Shout out from that batch to Luton Town v. Grimsby Town which ended 2-2 and from the highlights looked like a really great game. I mainly picked on this game though because it was so aesthetically pleasing, with the lovely bright tomato red of Luton against the gorgeous pink of Grimsby.
I also want to give props to lower league keepers, who really went into beast mode this weekend. I saw a number of really great performances on Match of the Day.
The two evening kick offs saw Premier League sides taking on Championship opposition with Spurs visiting Preston and United welcoming former player Paul Ince’s Reading side.
Spurs kicked off first and after a bit of a shaky start, eased past Preston 0-3 with a confidence boosting brace from Son and the third from new boy, swipe from under Everton’s noses, Danjuma.
The late kick off between United and Reading remained a stalemate until two quickfire goals from one of the signings of the season, Casemiro. This was followed by a red card for Andy Carroll after he committed two yellow card fouls within moments of each other, and then an almost immediate third goal for United from Fred. There was a consolation goal for Reading, scored by Mbengue but it was pretty much a walk in the park for United.
Onto Sunday’s fixture which started with Brighton v Liverpool. I was in the pub for most of the day on Sunday but I did catch some glimpses of this and the first ten minutes or so were very very scrappy, it felt like a mid table Championship game, not a Premier League one.
The deadlock was broken after half an hour with a Harvey Elliott goal, only for Brighton to pull one back just ten minutes later. For the rest of the game it seemed, I think (I dunno, I was chatting and eating roast beef), like it was going to go to a replay at Anfield, only for Mitoma to pop up at 90+2 with a beautiful goal to give the win to Brighton.
The final game of the day was between Championship side Sheffield United and Hollywood darlings Wrexham. Ryan Reynolds was in attendance, as was the best foil FA Cup of the round.
For some inexplicable reason the pub put the Dundee Utd Celtic game on the big screen so I missed the majority of this game but it felt for a moment as thought the fairytale was over when Sheffield United took the lead after just two minutes but they fought back, even going ahead 2-1 and by the time I got home the score was 2-2.
Literally as I spoke the words “come on Wrexham you’ve got Super Paul Mullin” he scored to make it 3-2 and for nine glorious minutes it looked like they might be into the fifth round. Sadly John Egan hadn’t read the script and equalised on 90+5 to force a replay at Bramall Lane.
Speaking of Super Paul Mullin, he revealed that his son Albi had been diagnosed with autism so wore boots with his name and the autism awareness logo on and also wore ear defenders as he went onto the pitch.
This weekend also saw games in the Women’s FA Cup. And if you like goals, this was the place to be. Spurs beat London City 5-0, Man City and Brighton saw off Sheffield United and West Brom respectively, both winning 7-0, Arsenal beat Leeds 9-0 and Villa? Villa beat Fyle 11 (Eleven) - 0.
The two WSL match ups were closer; Chelsea beat Liverpool 3-2 and Reading beat Leicester 2-3 on penalties after the game finished 2-2.
It really demonstrates the gap in quality between the top division and the rest in the women’s game but hopefully, if funds are spent wisely and development continues sensibly this will start to narrow.
We go into this week with the closing of the transfer window tomorrow. At the moment the big unresolved stories both involve Arsenal. Will the men get Caicedo? Will Katie McCabe leave the women for Chelsea? Only time will tell. I’ll be donning yellow (I won’t) and parking myself in front of Sky Sports News after the Carabao semi second leg tomorrow to find out and will bring you all my freezing cold and slightly mouldy takes next Monday.
Just a really really quick little rant from me in this section today.
Across both the FA and Carabao Cups we’ve seen VAR implemented in grounds where it’s all set up and not in grounds where it isn’t.
Now maybe you think this is fine but it drives me barmy that across a single competition teams are being advantaged or disadvantaged by having or not having VAR (your choice as to which way round this is!).
Having VAR in the Premier League but not the rest of the EFL is fine in the sense that you don’t have any one team benefiting or not from it being/not being there, everyone is on a level playing field, but if you have some with and some without in the same competition it’s not. Absolutely bring it in during the final rounds which are either likely to be at Premier League grounds or even wait until the Wembley stage but a mix and match approach? It’s not for me Clive.
For some reason 30 year old Lucas Moura played (and scored) for Spurs’ U21s in the NLD on Friday and Richarlison went along to support him. (It says “Lucas, can I have your shirt”)
A list to debate from FourFourTwo. The Number 1 is absolutely accurate.
Shirt Of The Week
This week it’s Barcelona’s fourth kit, worn in their 0-1 victory over Girona on Saturday. Now my immediate reaction to this was phwoar, this is lovely but as I was scalping Barca’s Twitter for pics, I accidentally saw some replies and people hate it? What? Well, each to their own I guess and this is my newsletter so I’m saying it’s good ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
I don’t wish to repeat myself and I keep a list of players who’ve been granted a place in the Thirst Hall of Fame, but this week I have been simply ruined by a previous entrant who is getting dangerously close to achieving the kind of status Christian Eriksen had in the first half of last year where I just couldn’t cope with anything he did and felt like a teenager every time I saw him.
Sadly, it’s another Manchester United player (though in my defence Eriksen played for Brentford when my crush was at its most intense), the Butcher himself: Lisandro Martinez.
Not content with sending me into a tailspin with his birthday party look, when he turned up at Old Trafford for Saturday’s game wearing this bucket hat I howled and thumped my foot like a cartoon wolf (you know the one), I didn’t know a hat, a bucket hat of all hats, could cause that kind of reaction but you learn new things about yourself every day right?
Then there was his interview after their Carabao Cup semi final first leg win on Wednesday. I’ve not really heard him speak before and I didn’t realise his English was so good nor that he had a cute little dimple/crease when he spoke. Fuck! Also his face, as the tweet says, when he gets his MOTM award. I cannot.
So there it is, I would apologise for the repetition but sometimes you need to live your truth and mine is that I just really really fuckin’ fancy Licha :)
There we are then, another day done. I’m off to build my Jurassic Park T-Rex Breakout set and think about what I want for lunch. Until next week, hwyl fawr!
Thanks for reading The Way U Talk About Ball! Subscribe for free to receive new posts and support my work.
That Ake goal was painful yet so nice to watch. Looking forward to Arsenal v City in the league.