The Warm-Up: City's gain, Harry Kane and an empty stadium in troubled Spain
Adam Hurrey witnessed a weekend of high Premier League quality (*Crystal Palace not included) plus the Red Card of the Year
MONDAY’S BIG STORIES
Manchester City’s patience trumps Chelsea
With due respect to Chelsea’s win over Tottenham at Wembley, this was perhaps the season’s first headline clash of the title contenders, and the bookies could barely split them before kick-off. Marginal edges were declared on both sides at Stamford Bridge: Manchester City arrived without Sergio Aguero and Benjamin Mendy, but Chelsea legs had been granted 24 hours less to recover from their Champions League exploits.
The extra workload for Conte’s side was always going to be a significant influence on their title defence, a perch from which (as their painful 2015/16 season will testify) the only way is often down. Their Atletico-defying exertions less than 72 hours earlier appeared to tell: Alvaro Morata – who had never before in his career started six games in a row – trudged off clutching a hamstring after half an hour, while the midfield gunships of N’Golo Kante and Tiemoue Bakayoko were outmanoeuvred from virtually the first minute to the last.
Manchester City's Kevin De Bruyne celebrates scoring their first goal with team matesReuters
But this wasn’t all about Chelsea’s toil. Pep Guardiola anticipated Conte’s 3-5-1-1 shape and flooded the midfield, allowing his full-backs (if that’s what we can still call them) to venture inside. Kyle Walker and Fabian Delph were like daggers from deep, leaving David Silva and Kevin De Bruyne to apply salt to the wounds.
Ordinary boy Harry Kane is hitting new heights
Sooner or later, we’re going to have to have some sort of Big Harry Kane Debate – perhaps a national referendum, they’re always fun – to establish just what it is that some people aren’t getting about him.
Perhaps it’s the impression that his skill set has been carved out on the training ground through sheer repetition, dedication and education rather than being present in his footballing DNA as a 16-year-old wonderkid with the world at his feet.
Deserted Camp Nou plays host to glorious irrelevance of football
Barcelona against Las Palmas was played behind closed doors on Sunday following the clashes in Catalonia been police and protesters.Getty Images
Amid chaotic scenes across Catalonia sparked by the independence referendum, Barcelona opted to proceed with the game behind closed doors. Designed to be a protest against the league’s refusal to postpone the fixture, the decision nevertheless left thousands of fans outside the stadium as Lionel Messi’s 13th and 14th goals of the season did the business inside. The tidiness of Barcelona’s start to the season – and their 1000th La Liga clean sheet – was in sharp contrast to the violent scenes nearby.
“It was very difficult to play without our supporters and after all that has happened throughout Catalonia. It was my worst experience as a player.”
IN OTHER NEWS
The following footage of Lyon’s Marcelo being sent off may infuriate you slightly. It may make you want to reach through your screen and explain to the referee what has actually happened, before he thrusts the red card into their air. Or you may just find the whole thing very funny.
In the pantheon of unorthodox early baths, this may be one of the most unfortunate.
"Later, Pelé sat at his locker in front of a media scrum as he seemed at peace with himself and the world. “God has been kind to me,” he said. “I can die now.”"
IN THE CHANNELS
BT Sport, it’s fair to say, have thrown the kitchen sink at their football coverage. Saturday offered up the spectacle of daytime TV’s Jeff Brazier daring to attempt a mid-match, pitchside interview with Billericay’s notorious manager-owner-supremo Glenn Tamplin.
Possibly our favourite bit here is that split-second when Tamplin – mid-injustice – notices Brazier’s hand on his shoulder, at the precise moment that Jeff Brazier’s hand really should not be on Glenn Tamplin’s shoulder.
Meanwhile, over on Match of the Day 2…
There is, the Warm-Up is reliably informed, an honest explanation for this – something to do with voice-recognition software and the word “comma” – but it does look very unfortunate.
38 years ago tomorrow: 2-1 down from 1st leg, Dinamo Tbilisi stormed back to beat Liverpool in the first round of the European Cup.
But, to be honest, the best thing about this is the “GREETINGS TO THE SPORTSMEN OF ENGLAND” message emblazoned down the side of the pitch. Things were different then.
Unless you’re all over Glentoran v Crusaders in the Northern Irish Premiership tonight, tuck into a good book or fire up Netflix, because it’s the international break. Who have England got? Slovenia, Slovakia, who cares.