When was football ever logical?

Published: Monday, 15 April 2024

Well that’s it then. It’s City’s title. The champions are back on top and logic tells us they win it now. But when was football ever logical? I’ve got a feeling we should still expect more of the unexpected.

Who thought Palace would win at Anfield? I’ll bet Oliver Glasner didn’t, although two his predecessors have (Pardew and Hodgson) so that makes Palace the only PL team to have won three games at Anfield in the Klopp era. What makes the stat more impressive is that no team has ever done it twice.

There was more chance of an upset at Arsenal of course. Villa are a good side, but I didn’t fancy them because they’d previously fucked up too many of their big games - Man Utd twice, Spurs and Newcastle for example.

How sweet must the win have tasted to Unai Emery? Of course he was there primarily to win it with Villa, but a piece of him will have enjoyed it just a little bit more than anybody else at the club.

I’ve always said his time at Arsenal was too heavily criticised. His record on the pitch really wasn’t bad and let’s not forget he took them to a euro final. What killed him was becoming a comedic character because of his insistence of starting every interview with the words ‘good ebening’ or ‘good abternoon’. Fortunately, at Villa, he’s stopped doing it.

As if he had to - because of his record in Spain - but Emery is now proving to an English audience he is a very good operator.

If Arsenal don’t win the title now everybody will look back on the Villa defeat as the day it was lost. I don’t agree. I think they lost it at Man City.

They had City by the throat that day. They were the better side, but failed to take advantage of their superiority. I’ve previously said they looked scared to win it - not lose it. There’s a huge difference between those two mind sets.

If they’d shown just a little more ambition - a little more belief - they could’ve won it and at the same time put City out of the race. If’s, but’s and maybe’s I know, but it was a massive opportunity missed.

They had chances to put Villa away as well. Arteta claimed afterwards they should’ve been three or four up by half-time, which was nonsense, but they certainly missed some great openings.

I also felt he played the wrong team. I notice Piers Morgan made the point Arsenal still don’t have a centre-forward, but that wasn’t the problem for me.

They’ve been playing with one. Ok, Havertz isn’t a natural 9, but he’d been in good form operating as a centre-forward with five in eight league games.

Also in really good form - Declan Rice, who I’ve previously said I wanted to see a lot more from. Arteta made a subtle change recently - playing Jorginho - which allowed Rice to start bossing games in the way he used to at West Ham.

So why change it Sunday? Rice was back to being Declan Nice, tippy-tappying about allowing Zinchenko to try and run the midfield. What is Arteta’s obsession with crow-barring Zinchenko into his team? Is he really so important? If I was Rice I’d be furious. I’d be asking ‘why pay £100m for me - only to ask me to play second fiddle to that busy fool’? Zinchenko doesn’t affect games in the same way Rice does.

Zinchenko’s inclusion also means a different role for Havertz of course. The whole balance of the team has to be different.

I guess the answer is that Arteta wants us to believe he’s as clever as Guardiola, whose also made baffling team-selections in the past - proving to be too clever for his own good - just as Arteta was on Sunday.

One last thing. What happened to the crowd? Why were there so many empty seats at the end? Ok - there was nothing to celebrate (😂) on the day, but come on - Arsenal have given their fans plenty to shout about this season - at least stay and applaud them off - surely?

How lucky were United? Ten Hag went into the weekend bemoaning the fact that his team hadn’t been at all fortunate this season. I know. What planet does he live on?

The pen they got was a joke and Bournemouth should’ve had one of their own at the end. What was Jarred Gillett doing in VAR? Why did he get involved? Did he see a ‘clear and obvious error’? He was the only person that did if so. If you get a pen there’s still work to do, but Bournemouth were robbed of a chance to win it.

The next time United play I’ll be there to watch them. They really should spank my Super Sky Blues in the FA Cup semi-finals. I don’t expect any other outcome.

It’ll be great to see my boys back at Wembley. I couldn’t make last seasons play-off final because of work commitments, so I’m really grateful to my bosses for getting me the weekend off this time.

United are better than us. They’re expected to win. They should win. Many of their fans are making plans for the final - and have been since the draw was made. All logic says they’re right - but when was football ever logical?