دوشنبه 27 دی 1395 ساعت 21:12
What’s sexy, and what’s unsexy, in football this week…
Tom Davies’ beard
There was much to admire about the Everton youngster’s coming-of-age display against Manchester City. The swashbuckling midfield dynamism, the relentless running, the Messi-esque flick and finish for his sublime goal, the passionate celebration with the home fans and the laughably unfashionable blonde curtains. But the icing on this electrifying Evertonian cake was the bushy monstrosity covering the lower part of his face. Davies boasted a fulsomeness of facial hair that no 18-year-old should have a right to grow – and it was this beard that symbolised his readiness for Premier League football and proved he could mix it with the men.
“I do not like to discuss these things in a press conference,” was Antonio Conte’s wily response to questions about the Diego Costa situation at Chelsea, in what some saw as a swipe at his West Ham counterpart, who had contrastingly come out all guns blazing in condemning his own want-away star, Dimitri Payet. Bilic took a gamble by publicly declaring that Payet had “let down” the Hammers by refusing to play for the club again, but his emotional outburst had a galvanising effect. West Ham fans loudly backed Bilic (while coarsely reprimanding Payet) throughout the game against Crystal Palace and the defiant atmosphere transmitted to the players, who produced the club’s best league performance since moving to the London Stadium. Having been under increasing pressure in recent weeks, Bilic has turned the Payet adversity in his favour and his position suddenly looks secure.
Old people shrink as they age, but what the Stoke striker has to his advantage is that he could afford to lose a few inches and still cause problems in the opposition penalty area for years to come. The 35-year-old marked his newly signed contract extension at the Bet365 Stadium with a goal and an assist against Sunderland which showcased his two enduring qualities – 1) height and 2) good touch for a big man. Having spent the last two seasons desperately searching for a focal point to his attack, Potters manager Mark Hughes seems to have realised that the solution had been staring him right in the face all along. Or, more accurately, staring about a foot above his face.
A school of thought has long existed, albeit dismissed by most football aficionados, that the Catalan tactician has never actually proved himself as a top manager and might not even be that good. Now, for the first time, it’s a question that the wider football world is being forced to ponder. As Sam Allardyce once famously said, give him Real Madrid’s squad and he would win La Liga and the Champions League on a regular basis. So did Pep thrive at Barcelona and Bayern Munich simply because he had the best players? The squad he has inherited at Manchester City is certainly not on the level of his previous sides, but you’d still expect it to be good enough to avoid 4-0 tonkings by out-of-form mid-table outfits like Everton.
Vito Mannone appeared to suffer an unfortunately timed personal meltdown during Sunderland’s defeat by Stoke, first inexplicably failing to charge down a Marko Arnautovic shot and then having his outstretched arms outjumped by the aforementioned Peter Crouch’s head. Meanwhile, Wayne Hennessey’s rash decision to race off his line and (unsuccessfully) foil Michail Antonio proved costly for Crystal Palace against West Ham. But the weekend’s goalkeeping highlight came minutes later when Hennessey performed the saddest dive in the history of football when attempting to save a spectacular Andy Carroll scissor kick that had already hit the net.
Andy Carroll's goal against Crystal Palace today was simply unbelievable pic.twitter.com/puXFIfMZAj
— TwinkleTips-OFFICIAL (@TwinkleTip_) January 15, 2017
If anyone was wondering whether having your own emoji could make you better at football, then the Manchester United midfielder’s performance against Liverpool seemed to emphatically answer that it doesn’t. In fact, there was strong evidence to suggest that having your own emoji may actually make you worse at football. Pogba has been in scintillating form in recent weeks, but his needless handball leading to James Milner’s early penalty was merely one example of his repeated clumsiness against the Reds. Could it be possible that creating your own emoji is a pointless exercise in egomania that can actually distract a player from doing his job?