BRIDGE OF DOOM
Tell young folks today what Earth was like in 1990 and they just don’t believe you. “Shut up and go back to your Tin, smelly old liar,” they always say. And yet there really were no smartphones, no social media atrocities and none of your Premier League snazz. And Scotland really did qualify for a World Cup in which the Republic of Ireland reached the quarter-finals. And Liverpool really were champions of England, sealing the title thanks to a 2-1 victory over QPR while the team in second place, Aston Villa, drew 3-3 with Norwich.
Giving that history lesson only earns you lip these days, but that’s nothing compared to the kick in the knick-knacks you’d have got in 1990 if you’d claimed Liverpool would not win the title for another 30 years. True, some of that Liverpool team were getting on a bit – Bruce Grobbelaar, Alan Hansen, James Milner – but the club had become such a winning machine there seemed no way for them to avoid further success. In 1991 Liverpool signed Jamie Redknapp.
Since then there has been Istvan Kozma, Stig Inge Bjørnebye, El Hadji Diouf, Rafa Benítez’s fact check, Roy Hodgson’s six-month Guy Goma impression, Steven Gerrard’s slip, John Stones’s goalline clearance and a global pandemic threatening all of humanity. And after all that, Liverpool are now, finally, on the cusp of another title. All things considered, it’s probably for the best that it’s not in their own hands today.
Instead Liverpool will tune in on Thursday to watch Chelsea try to win the league for them by beating or drawing with Manchester City at Stamford Bridge. “A lot of us will watch it but we know Man City are a very good team,” parped Jürgen Klopp, who will no doubt be hoping Chelsea will be fired up by their need of points for Big Cup qualification. Those of us who just like a fun watch, meanwhile, will be hoping that today’s hosts manage to rile up City the way they did Spurs in 2016. No Liverpool player can MC a Jamie Vardy-style party, sadly, but quaffing Tin by themselves at home might just be in order today. That’s more than likely what the Fiver will be doing, no matter what.
LIVE ON BIG WEBSITE
It’s another live football feast and our MBMers are e across all the matches. For the 6pm (BST) kick-offs, Paul Doyle is on duty for Southampton 2-2 Arsenal and Ben Fisher will be monitoring the skies at Burnley 1-1 Watford. Rob Smyth will be on hand from 8.15pm to ruin all our frantic preparation for Liverpool being crowned champions tonight by keeping us updated on Chelsea 1-2 Manchester City.
QUOTE OF THE DAY
“I didn’t do drugs, but I did do booze and had a rock’n’roll lifestyle as one of the stars of Real Madrid. All the things I was up to were all covered up. Even when I was absolutely drunk, rolling on the streets and spending thousands of Euros paying for all the drinks in every place” – Wesley Sneijder explains why his off-pitch shenanigans cost him two marriages.
We think this is the latest Football Weekly, but there are so many of them these days we can’t be sure. We do know that this is the latest podcast from our Forgotten Stories of Football series: how John Crossan became football’s most harshly treated player.
“The PL is often said to be the most competitive in the world. This season since week nine (when Arsenal dropped out) the same four teams have monopolised the top four places. Since week 16 (a week or two after Arsenal dropped out) the next four places has seen another group of only four teams scrapping for the last European spot. Then since week 19, a mid bunch of seven – presumably whose only ambition is to finish in the top half – has left the same five teams scrapping over the relegation positions. Seems more or less half a season is enough to sort the men from the boys!” – Raymond Dyer.
“When the British teams return to European action, I hope we’re treated to ‘home fans booing over PA announcement made in language of away fans” – Adam Preston.
“Thank you Tony Christopher! [Yesterday’s Fiver] That was the first time I laughed when reading the Fiver since … actually that was the first time I laughed when reading the Fiver” – Cristo Paraskevas.
NEWS, BITS AND BOBS
A number of child abuse victims are to sue Celtic amid claims the club failed to protect them from abusers working for Celtic Boys Club.
The Premier League is to launch a system for players to report online abuse in a new measure aimed at combating discrimination.
Next Thursday’s big Manchester City v Liverpool set-to will take place at the Etihad, not a neutral venue, even if Jürgen Klopp’s side are able to clinch the title that night.
Mikel Arteta is confident Arsenal prodigy Bukayo Saka will sign a new deal. “The communications between the club, agents and the family has been going on for months and is very fluent,” tooted the Gunners manager.
Pablo Zabaleta will sashay through the door marked Do One when his Taxpayer FC contract is up on Tuesday. Accompanying him through it will be Carlos Sánchez and Jeremy Ngakia.
STILL WANT MORE?
Once upon a time, Ronny Rosenthal was famous for scoring goals, not missing them. Here’s Scott Murray on Liverpool’s last title triumph.
“He could nutmeg a mermaid.” Saïd Benrahma has been getting it done for Brentford, and Ben Fisher has been watching.
To the intense amusement of Antonio Conte, Inter tossed away another winning position on Wednesday. Nicky Bandini has the latest in the Serie A title race.
Reserve goalkeepers don’t see much action, so with Bernd Leno injured, Arsenal’s Emiliano Martínez needs to make the most of a rare chance, so says Nick Ames.
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