From Manchester United passing a huge test against Tottenham to Neil Warnock declaring war on the world – here are 5 hot takes from the Premier League weekend
1) MAN UTD ANSWER TO THE FLAT-TRACK BULLY QUESTION
Sunday’s game with Tottenham at Wembley represented the first serious test for the Solskjaer regime and they passed with distinction. It was a classic, Ferguson-style win away to a high-quality opponent, a moment of brilliance for Marcus Rashford’s goal combined with at times desperate defending (David De Gea made 11 saves) and an element of luck. United are now level with Arsenal on points and are a strong bet to finish in the top four, if not higher.
2) PUT THE RAZOR BLADES AWAY, ARSENAL FANS
Unai Emery seemed to have inadvertently hosted what may well have been the most depressing Arsenal press conference since they unveiled Mickael Silvestre on Thursday, when he announced he would only be able to make loan signings during the transfer window.
This, it transpires is not, as was first assumed, because owner “Silent” Stan Kroenke is unwilling to spend any money but because Arsenal are, almost touchingly, trying to comply with UEFA’s Financial Fair Play rules, which is a bit like a struggling grocery store paying its full whack of corporation tax while Amazon hands over its small change. This analysis by Nate Smith suggests that while Arsenal fans might well be reduced to hoping for a cup win this season, the longer term forecast isn’t quite as gloomy.
3) PLANET WARNOCK
“To hell with the rest of the world,” said Cardiff manager Neil Warnock, after drawing 0-0 with Huddersfield. Warnock, an Englishman, managing a Welsh team owned by a Malaysian, has a new target: the rest of the planet. “I can’t wait to get out of it, if I’m honest,” he said, when asked about Britain’s departure from the European Union. “I think we’ll be far better out of the bloody thing. In every aspect. Football-wise as well, absolutely. To hell with the rest of the world.”
Warnock’s squad includes an Anglo-Phillippino goalkeeper, 13 Englishmen, three Irishmen, and a player each from Scotland, Gabon, Spain, France and Iceland. Cardiff could, just about, field a five-a-side team with Welsh players and if they entered the Welsh League they’d be guaranteed European football every year, not that he’d want it.
If the UK does need a second referendum, Warnock’s remarks could be a prize asset .. (altogether now…) for the campaign to stay in the EU.
4) “SORRY, DID I SAY ‘SIEG HEIL?’ I MEANT ‘GET ON WITH IT!’”
“I believe him totally,” said Crystal Palace manager Roy Hodgson, after hearing Wayne Hennessy’s explanation for giving an apparent Nazi salute. Hennessy claimed he was telling the photographer to “get on with it” and that his hand was over his mouth to make the sound carry. Hodgson has to give his player the benefit of the doubt, because there’s at least a one-in-a-million chance this is true. Maybe even one-in-a-thousand.
— BBC Sport (@BBCSport) January 7, 2019
5) ABOUT AS POPULAR AS BASHAR-AL-ASSAD
The Twitter pile-on of the weekend was jointly won by former Rio Ferdinand and Richard Keys, for their staunch defence of Mike Ashley. Ferdinand said Newcastle fans should be “thanking” an owner about as popular on Tyneside as Bashar Al-Assad. Former Sky presenter Keys suggested Benitez should pay for new signings out of his own wages, which drew 8500 replies. Approximately 8499 of these implied Keys’ knowledge of football was about as extensive as Ashley’s knowledge of dieting. The other was from Keys’ Mum. (Probably).
6) VLOGGING VS SELF-MUTILATION
Did Mo Salah dive to earn a penalty for Liverpool against Brighton? It isn’t easy to say. So why not watch the replays 57 times before posting a 15-minute “vlog” in which you interview your mate from the comfort of your Mum’s basement? Alternatively you could do something more productive with your life, like ramming your head into a wood-chipping machine.