I’d like to dedicate this (as good as) half-way round up to Harry the Hornet - the Watford mascot, for managing to get Allardyce to make a complete tit out of himself on his first outing as Palace manager.
As Mowgli (special alias) pointed out: “He rolls the FA over, then goes crying to them about a fluffy monster.” As if it wasn’t hilarious enough, watching him have a meltdown about Harry’s rib-splitting dive to mock Zaha, he then gave us this (side-achingly hypocritical) gem: “The Premier League and the FA can look at that and do what they want to do.” I’d keep my mouth shut if I were you, fatty, otherwise they might look a bit more closely at you and you might not get off so lightly next time.
What have we learned so far this season?
(Thanks, by the way, to Marlene (sitcom aliases) for all the laughs and his input on putting this section together)
Conte is adapting to the English game faster than Usain Bolt cracking out 100m on a sugar high when there is an advertising deal waiting for him on the finish line. Thanks to the sterling efforts of Moses and the steady rise of Chalobah and Ake, suddenly our loan system isn’t so hilarious to everyone else anymore, and Chelsea still have the propensity to extort ludicrous amounts of money out of people for our cast-offs, it seems. JT as we've known him for nearly two decades is no more, the biggest casualty of our new system, but hopefully he's not quite done yet. Branna is the new Mikel, David Luiz should not take free kicks, and it is physically possibly for Courtois to crack a smile on occasion. (I’d always just assumed that it was the weight of his nose pushing the corners of his mouth down)
As far as the rest of the top six goes:
The worst of the Scouse muppets will never cease to be knee-jerk f*cktards with the memory span of goldfish, the logical reasoning ability of a squirrel that's been roadkill for a week and no grasp on reality. Sturridge (let’s not forget it is his job is to score goals) netted his first league goal of the season AFTER BOXING DAY, but he’s apparently going to be the one to win them the league.
Pep is going to have to earn his money this time and probably, at some stage, will have to acknowledge that Bravo is useless. Although, to his credit I think he probably exiled Joe Hart more for his sh*t acting in that Head & Shoulders advert. (Equally it might have been jealousy after watching him massage all that luscious curly hair in every Champions League ad break)
Wenger does not improve with age, certainly not to look at, as he’s beginning to resemble Gollum in a wig. Definitely not, it seems, in terms of getting near winning the league. Also, his aim hasn’t got any better when he kicks a water bottle.
Sp*rs can still crumble as quickly as a Cadbury’s flake under pressure, and it never gets any less entertaining. Oh, and Pochettino needs to make it his New Year’s resolution to clarify with Harry F*cking Kane (try saying his name without swearing) exactly what he means when he says “dribble with the ball.”
Wherever he goes, whatever he does, and however hard he tries, HWWNBN will always be a victim of his own personality. He remains bonkers, delusional, and about as genuinely humble or sincere as The Sun running tributes to George Michael after attempting to destroy him for several decades. Wayne Rooney doesn’t appear to have as much trouble growing hair on his face as he does on his head, even though neither makes him any better looking. Oh, and Pogba is sh*t.
West Ham are gits and the Olympic Stadium was out of their league. (Although, in both of these cases this is more clarification than a new concept)
International football remains about as worthy of television airtime as X-Factor.
Allardyce’s whole misshapen, weeble-like body appears to be coated in Teflon (much to the misfortune of Crystal Palace fans) And he has a phobia of large stuffed animals. Also, having seen him from the back, I think he might be a Kardashian.
Leicester were a one-season wonder, and it appears wouldn’t have got their title without Kante last time out. Still, they are enjoying Europe.
It took Swansea a whole 86 days to realise that an American should not manage in the Premier League. Presumably he confused all of the players by referring to it as "soccer" and banging on about "off-ence" and "de-fence" and filling them all full of Gatorade. The result of all of those training sessions where he had them wearing skin-tight lycra and kicking funny shaped balls over the bar is painfully apparent by their league position.
David Moyes is back where he belongs. His personal spirit level will always be at peace when he is scrapping over relegation with a squad full of Harry Redknapp rejects somewhere in the frozen wastes of the north, in the shadow of a f*ck off big wall keeping out the Wildlings. (His fellow Scots) I’m pretty sure the only way he got back into England in the first place was by clinging to the coat tails of that giant in Season 4. (Episode 9 for the anoraks)
And Bournemouth are a ray of sunshine in the middle of the table and long may they continue to prove that you don’t have to bore the living daylights out of everyone and refuse to play football like Tony Pulis (who is still the footballing antichrist) to be there.
The recruitment criteria for match officials does not include an eye exam, lessons in how to use a foam spray can without looking like a dick, or an IQ test. In fact, I’m pretty sure as long as your BMI doesn’t tip into the obese range and you are willing to wear an unsightly array of shirts that would have embarrassed Wham in their Club Tropicana heyday, then they will give you 80k a year to compensate for the whole country hating you.
Giving Michael Owen more air time doesn’t make him anymore interesting.
In the same vein, Robbie Savage’s worth as a pundit is not increasing in correlation with the volume of his badly dyed super fringe.
Talksport basically exists for us all to laugh hysterically at Scouse fans with Birmingham/West Country/London accents who have never been further north than Stoke as we travel home from away games, whimpering on about how this is their year. (again more of a re-affirmation than a new revelation)
Oh, and the Daily Fail will upload literally anything to keep traffic on their sports page up, without even spell-checking it, never mind worrying about whether it is true or not.
So who is going to win the league?
Currently 1st - Chelsea: I’m not going to say it is ours to lose. That is smug at halfway. It’s the kind of thing a Gooner would do. It would be like the Scouse printing up those champions t-shirts before Demba Demba Demba Ba (he comes from Africa and he plays football, etc, etc) ended their hopes and dreams. But we have built a real momentum now and everyone seems to be loving life under Conte. If we go behind, I feel we can come back, if it take us 80 minutes to break down the likes of Pulis and his bore-factory, I believe in the team. I also feel like if we hit a bump in the road for a couple of games, then the wheels don’t necessarily have to come off. I definitely would not have been confident enough to say that last season. As far as our title effort is concerned I feel like it all depends on keeping the top fourteen or so players fit. If we start accumulating a lot of knocks and losing them from key positions without cover (such as the wing backs, who have just obliterated everyone’s basic expectations of them this season) then we could be screwed when sh*t starts to get real at the end of the season. I think we might have the best team in the league right now, but we don’t have the best squad. I also feel like this absolutely won’t be the outfit Conte will have once he has Champions League football to offer incoming personnel, which he didn’t last year, and after he has proved himself in his first season in English football. I don’t expect us to get into this until next summer though, bar shoring up a couple of positions in January. Unless the right people come up, in which case, spank the money Roman, spank it like Allardyce violating a Christmas turkey (or anyone at the FA, who appear to be willing to bend over for him at any cost)
Currently 2nd - Liverpool. Will not win the league. I don’t really feel like I’m even sticking my neck out. They concede too many goals, even if they do bang plenty in at the other end. Most significantly, they do not have a league-winning goalkeeper. Both of the ones that they have will cost any team a minimum of twelve points a season. I’ve said this about Mignolet for two years now. Shame for them (mwhahaha) that the Brigitte Nielsen lookalike is worse. They are very reminiscent of Klopp’s Dortmund: free-scoring, entertaining, somewhere near the top, but too often the entertainment involves them f*cking it up and they are ultimately too flaky to win the title. I feel like other, more stable teams would have to massively capitulate for them to win it this season. Also, we have already lost David Bowie and Princess Leia in the last twelve months, and there is only so much punishment that mankind can take. If they are anywhere near in March I’ll either emigrate or spend six months in a gin-induced stupour in an attempt to block out the noise.
Currently 3rd - City: I think they are the favourites to catch us. Can they do it? Obviously I hope not, and the problem with them is that the team never looks like what you would expect to get given the sum of all their stupidly expensive parts. I had my rant about Pep a few weeks’ back. He is categorically not the managerial messiah that everyone says that he is. But he is not sh*t either. That is his job for his second season, I feel: Sooner or later they need to stop just smashing vast amounts of money out on each player and worry about making them a cohesive unit if they want to dominate the league. As for the rest of this term, I just hope we don’t leave the door open for them, because if we do, and if they get their sh*t together for any length of time, they can win it. Obviously they are the lesser of all other evils.
Currently 4th - Arsenal: Nope. They went from level at the top one Saturday, to behind by nine points the next week. This is always their problem. The Gooner Wobble ( (c) - please send GIFs of selves doing an interpretative dance of this, starting with Gonzo) The Gooner Wobble usually comes at the point where their fans just about start to believe and get all gobby before they inexplicably start to drop points against teams propping up the league. If they are to win the league this season it would have to be a more epic effort than Leonardo Di Caprio trying not to die in the Revenant. (If only he had expended the same effort on survival at the end of Titanic, there could have been a sequel.) There are six teams who look to be in with a shout at the Champions League places, and I think Arsenal could be in danger of missing out if they drop stupid points. Maybe that is actually what they need. As hilarious as it would be for Wenger to stay, that could be what finally forces a change at the club. Stability is all well and good, but not when all it has maintained for more than a decade is frustrating mediocrity by their lofty (and mostly self-adulating) standards.
Currently 5th - Spurs: No chance. They’ve just won their first game away from home in the league since September. Plus, between us we can’t possibly have amassed that much bad karma in West London for this to happen. I think they’ve set themselves too big a task by settling for too many draws, unless everyone else implodes on a nuclear level. I feel like their battle is to get in the top four. If they win the league this season I will invade the pitch at Stamford Bridge and lick Neil Barnett’s bald head. And no. I have learned nothing from Gary Lineker saying something vaguely like this last year.
Currently 6th - Man United: If they were closer, I would have said maybe, but they are a long way off now. I don’t think they have the depth of squad to win the league, which is sickening and basically f*cking incompetent when you consider what they have spent. If I was one of their fans I would be really, really, annoyed. But I fancy them to get top four via a lot of 1-0 wins provided HWWNBN doesn’t have another one of his catastrophic meltdowns. And they should be closer next year. With the same caveat. I dread to think what we would have to put up with if they won the league from the position they are currently in as far as he is concerned.
Who’s going to get relegated?
This is more of a challenge than picking a title winner. If you asked me right now, I’d say, Swansea, although maybe there is hope now they have got rid of Bradley. Hull, because they’ve been hung out to dry by their bellend owners. As for the third one, I call it as a toss-up between Sunderland, (though they are nifty at getting out of this every year) Palace, (who have a good enough squad that they should be well clear by Spring) and Leicester, who just don’t seem to be picking up with any consistency, despite one or two positive results. The Champions League is a distraction. Could their downfall be as dramatic as their league win? It will very much depend on who they can get in in January, I think. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Boro get sucked into the drama, but I feel like Bournemouth and Burnley have shown enough to prove that they can stay up barring any collapse.
I’m off to anticipate a lot of creative hate mail from a lot of other clubs’ fans. Most of which will probably imply that I’m a slag and threatening to insert household implements into various orifices. There is “w” at the beginning of whore, by the way. Chumps.
**Image of Costa greeting the Press Plebs (allegedly) from Chelsea's official instagram page.
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