Tuesday, December 6, 2022

The fixture list is imminent

Morning.

The Premier League fixtures are released at 9am this morning and already the rumour mill is in full effect with talk of our first game of the season being the first game of the season … again.

This time, it’s going to be Crystal Palace on a Friday night. I wonder what the odds are of Arsenal being drawn away from home to another London club for the first game of the season two seasons in a row are. Quite high I’d imagine. I’m not suggesting any impropriety of course, and the rumour could be wide of the mark, so let’s see what happens.

But if it is true, I bet they’re already hard at work in the Sky Sports wardrobe department, whipping up some sexy eagle costumes for Gary Neville and Jamie Carragher to wear under their real clothes, ready to reveal if Palace should win so they can cavort and dance across the pitch, flashing their knickers at the home fans while insisting that William Saliba’s untidy debut for Arsenal is all the proof anyone needs that we overpaid for him and it’s all hype.

Afterwards, instead of interviewing Mikel Arteta about the contentious decisions that went against his side (not least the awarding of three penalties for fouls by Cedric, all of which were outside the box), they instead bring on a familiar face from the not too distant past. Everyone thought they’d seen the end of Mike Dean after his retirement as a referee, but in his new position as Var Tsar he is front and centre to explain that the decisions were correct because ‘I said so, and that’s it’.

He goes on to explain that the red card issued to new signing Gabriel Jesus was also the correct decision, despite the fact that replays show he has his eye gouged out by an opponent who then eats it in full view of everyone.

“If you refer to rule 18.4, section D”, says Dean, “you will quite clearly see that feeding bits of yourself to an opponent is prohibited since the Covid-19 pandemic took hold, and in this instance the Arsenal player did not do enough to keep his eye in his own socket. The referee was absolutely right to deal with this the way he did.”

It will later emerge that the former Man City man will have his three game ban extended for protesting too vigorously about being blinded in one eye. Arsenal appeal to the Premier League, citing a long held understanding that cannibalism is not an acceptable part of the sport, but that is rejected, the club are fined £6,000,000 and Bukayo Saka is forced to run a marathon around England’s training ground every day for three weeks as punishment.

Elsewhere, Harry Kane finally does it: he backs into an opponent who lands awkwardly and is paralysed from the neck down. The England captain successfully tucks away the penalty he is awarded for said opponent having the temerity to be in the same area of the pitch as him.

In Manchester, the opening day derby is a fiery affair, ending in victory for Pep Guardiola’s team thanks to an Erling Haaland hat-trick which leaves Harry Maguire looking much less accomplished than normal. Fans and pundits alike are taken aback by his apparent clumsiness, poor decision making, and the way he repeatedly clumps long passes out of play.

Afterwards, Pep Guardiola is enthused by his new signing, insisting to a Sky Sports reporter that he is ‘so, so, so, so, so, so, so, so, so, so, so, so, so, so, so, so, so, so, so, so, so, so, so, so, so, so, so, so, so, so, so, so, so, so, so, so, so, so, so, so, so, so, so, so, so, so, so, so, so, so, so, so, so, so, so, so, so, so, so, so, so, so, so, so, so, so, so, so, so, so, so, so, so, so, so, so, so, so, so, so, so, so, so, so, so, so, so, so, so happy. So happy like you cannot believe. So happy like a room without a roof.’

He actually is genuinely happy, but it comes across so sarcastically that Haaland immediately puts in transfer request on the basis that his manager his a complete weirdo.

Newly promoted Nottingham Forest beat fellow newly promoted side Fulham in dramatic style in a game involving two former Arsenal players. It’s 1-1 in the 89th minute, but a late penalty for Forest sees Ainsley Maitland-Niles step up to face Bernd Leno in goal. The Bird Catcher ambles towards the ball, the German thinks he knows how to stop his ex-teammate, but even he can’t believe it as Maitland-Niles floats the ball towards the top corner like a three day old party balloon, only for it to change direction at the last minute, bounce down on the line, hit the underside of the crossbar, spin off both posts, and then in.

Newcastle, having spent £354m during the summer, lose 4-0 to Liverpool. Eddie Howe is sacked on the spot, and never seen again.

“What’s a Jamal?”, says their Chief Executive, Amanda Staveley.

It’s all ahead of us folks.

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