It’s the weekend, which means that apart from all drinking ourselves close to oblivion, we also get to sedate ourselves with light entertainment, and enrage ourselves with the simple injustice of the world, reflected as it is in refereeing decisions and managerial failure. Is football a metaphor, then, for life? No, obviously not, but it can be stretched into one if you are desperate. See if you can spot the metaphor in the following match previews.*
West Ham United vs Manchester City
It’s one thing to appoint Sam Allardyce as manager, it’s quite another to give him Diafra Sakho, Enner Valencia and Mauro Zarate with a straight face. Incredibly, so far, it’s worked. Andy Carroll and Kevin Nolan can only give their tactical advice and expertise from the sidelines and the subs bench (though Carroll is now too busy being a) injured and b) a male model wearing Wang clothes). West Ham are fourth and therefore better than both Manchester United and Liverpool.
However, they are below Manchester City, in second place after an iffy start, by their standards. There’s something odd about City, having spent millions in an utterly sensible way. They have Sergio Aguero, a wonderful striker, and then they have a sea of functional, often-excellent professionals behind them. They are impossible to seriously resent, too synthetic to stir emotions. Manchester City are less anti-football than they are anti-matter. They’ll still win 3-0 though.
Swansea City vs Leicester City
It’s the Cities-that-nobody-wants-to-go-to-unless-there’s-a-compelling-and-essential-reason-to-do-so Derby. There used to be a good Chinese restaurant in Leicester, but it’s closed down. Swansea isn’t Cardiff, if you’re trying to remember which one it is, and that’s the most interesting thing you have on that. Getting to the point, it’ll be 0-0. A disastrous match and collection of cities and fans try to ignore it.
Burnley vs Everton
Everton are back from Lille after an acceptable 0-0 draw in the Europa League, and after their fans had their arses roundly handed to them by some of the scariest police on Northern continental Europe, the armed police in France. With Romelu Lukaku likely to return to the first team after only being named on the bench, and with the improved defensive performance after weeks of haplessness, this is only going one way. That’s right, Sean Dyche will growl menacingly after a 1-0 defeat where they finally start to accept the soil is falling on their head.
Manchester United vs Chelsea
Manchester United are heading in the right direction, after a year of David Moyes and several years of Alex Ferguson defending the Glazers. Why did Alex Ferguson go out of his way to defend the Glazers despite the decrease in transfer fees, and the huge amounts of debt repayment? If only there was some way of working out what motivates Alex Ferguson, who once sued some horse owners over the right to own the reproduction goodies of two gonads. It is impossible to tell what motivated him to do that, presumably it was a matter of principle. It could be nothing else.
Speaking of putting money over principle, or not, we move onto Roman Abramovich’s Chelsea. They are by far the best side of the league and the only English side with a chance of winning in Europe. There are concerns for the side, though.
Loic Remy injured himself against Maribor and left after just 16 minutes. Diego Costa has only just got out of hospital after international duty, and Didier Drogba is a relatively old man, whose powers appear to have dramatically faded. Should United be confident?
Obviously not, because they are Manchester United with Chris Smalling, Phil Jones and Michael Carrick. Three of the most feckless humans in existence reside in the United squad, and will therefore find it within themselves to hack Oscar and/or Eden Hazard to the floor so often that red cards and penalties are inevitable. There’s a big game between these sides ready to break out, but that is in 2015 when Louis van Gaal has had another two transfer windows. For now, Chelsea will comfortably win 3-1.
*You have been had. There is no metaphor.