BIG CUP, GREASY SPOON
After the White Horse final of 1923 and the Matthews final of 1953, the Emeli Sandé Singing Abide With Me on the Wembley Roof final of 2020 is another that seems likely to live long in the collective memory given the general weirdness of the occasion. Chelsea played poorly and deservedly lost, even if they were the victims of enough misfortune and mis-officiating to leave their fans seething at what they perceived to be the injustice of it all. However, it has not gone unnoticed that those left so justifiably outraged by Anthony Taylor’s decision to dismiss Mateo Kovacic were conspicuously silent on the subject of Taylor’s even more ridiculous decision not to send off César Azpilicueta for preventing a clear goalscoring opportunity without making any effort to play the ball.
To the victors, the spoils, then … which Arsenal captain Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang promptly dropped while trying to hoist them towards the heavens, a state of affairs that would have prompted much mirth among the fans in the stands had any been let in. So, a decent game on a very strange occasion and a result that left Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta beaming after collecting his first silverware as a manager.
“Big games require big moments from big players,” he said, presumably referring to his captain’s two-goal contribution, rather than that of midfielder Matteo Guendouzi, who marked the occasion by completely ignoring it and posting a holiday snap on Instagram instead.
Mesut Özil, another big player who was also conspicuous his absence from both Arsenal’s Cup final squad and Wembley, was reported to be gadding about in Turkey, but he is expected to return in time for pre-season training in order to make sure he is fit enough to sit out the final year of his £350,000-per-week contract. While Arsenal will struggle to offload such a massive earner, Arteta is believed to be plotting a major squad overhaul and could sell up to nine players to fund it. Keeping Aubameyang on the payroll is also a priority and, while the Spaniard quipped after the epic Cup-lift fail that his star striker “needs practice lifting trophies”, he will do everything in his power to convince him he will get that practice as skipper of the Gooners. Whether Aubameyang decides to abide with his gaffer or go elsewhere in search of Big Cup football remains to be seen.
QUOTE OF THE DAY
“It has been a tough year on a personal level, very tough. I don’t think I saw my work recognised and we all received very little protection from the club. We have to grow and improve in all areas, including off the field, and a big club should protect its players more. We’ll discuss it all at the end of the season, I have to meet the president [Steven Zhang] and he’s in China right now” – Antonio Conte butters up the Inter hierarchy in only the way he (and José) know how.
Football Weekly will be in this general area, for your listening pleasure.
“Now that Harrogate have made it to League Two, your hard-bitten hacks had better up their game. No more Bovril and a pie at half-time. From now on it’s fairy cakes and dainty sandwiches from Betty’s. Ey-up, get out t’best china, lad” – Mark McFadden.
“What’s all this La’hn in the Fiver? [Re Friday’s Fiver] Is it how poshos in Ammersmiff an Ounslow say the name of their city? In the Sarf, mate, it’s Lunnen. Ask any Lion or Addick” – Geoff Williams, in leafy Orpington.
I read yesterday that David Luiz successfully defended his image against misuse in a Brazilian court. An image of David Luiz successfully defending? You’re right Fiver, something might have gone very, very, very wrong with modern football” – Justin Kavanagh.
NEWS, BITS AND BOBS
After the roaring successes of Shinji Kagawa and Henrikh Mkhitaryan, Manchester United plan to give Dortmund a £90m fortune for someone called Jadon Sancho. What could possibly go wrong?
Willian, meanwhile, is sliding down the King’s Road in a fancy car marked “Do One”.
Players who deliberately cough at opponents or referees can be shown red or yellow cards under new guidelines. “If the incident was not severe enough to merit a sending-off, a caution could be issued for ‘unsporting behaviour’”, parped an FA statement.
Chelsea deserve special treatment, says Frank Lampard, or something to that effect.
In these days of media training and opinion avoidance, Danny Rose is a rare beacon of light, and has been musing on his return to Spurs and those comments in 2017 about wage structure, which earned him a hefty fine. “It was an expensive conversation,” he sighed, “but am I supposed to regret what we speak about in the dressing room or what the majority of the fans are thinking?” The Fiver knows little about dressing rooms but plenty about regret, so can confirm that the answer is: “No”.
Harrogate Town have reached the Football League for the first time in their history. “I think it was always a case of block by block,” said Town manager Simon Weaver, who happens to be the son of multi-millionaire owner Irving Weaver.
Eddie Newton, the former Chelsea midfielder and coach, has been appointed head coach at Trabzonspor on a permanent basis. “Look up and down the [English] league,” said Newton. “The figures don’t lie. Not my opinion or anyone’s opinion. There’s very few black managers in the league.”
Paul Scholes has received a visit from police after throwing his son a 21st birthday party in contravention of recent lockdown rules in Greater Manchester. “He’s just an absolute master at finding space,” chorused Xavi, Messi, Zidane, Cruyff, Maradona, etc and so on.
STILL WANT MORE?
Remember Hugo Enyinnaya’s finish for Bari against Inter in 1999? Of course you don’t, so here’s Simon Burnton’s Golden Goal to teach you about it – and, as a special bonus, Antonio Cassano too.
Also in Italy, Serie A has just finished – in August. Here’s Nicky Bandini’s review of the final weekend, which ended with Juventus collecting their 74th title in a row.
Back in Blighty, Big Paper has spoken to fans of every Premier League club to assess the damage this season, and what might be needed in the transfer window. Part one, here, and … *drumroll* … here’s part two.
Paul Munster has seen a bit, playing or managing in Northern Ireland, Canada, the Czech Republic, Sweden, India and now Indonesia. Will Unwin has more.
On the eve of the Championship play-off final, Ben Fisher has penned this on Brentford and their suave manager, Thomas Frank.
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WHAT COLOUR IS YOUR DOOR?!