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Premier League

The Warm-Up: Send for the trebuchet!

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Manchester City's Belgian defender Vincent Kompany (R) celebrates scoring the opening goal during the English Premier League football match between Manchester City and Leicester City at the Etihad Stadium in Manchester, north west England, on May 6, 2019.

Image credit: Getty Images

ByJack Lang
07/05/2019 at 07:42 | Updated 07/05/2019 at 07:50

In which Jack Lang goes all Age of Empires on last night's Man City win...

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Your nation is at war. You’re locked into a gritty, bitter arms race with another great power. But victory is finally in sight; you only need to conquer a couple more stubborn city states and you’re there.

The problem is that they’re putting up a real fight. It might be just a few souls holed up inside the palace walls, but they’re perfectly happy to scrap until you run out of patience or they run out of food – whichever happens to occur first.

So you throw everything at them. Archers, cavalry, battering rams. Laser beams, rockets, grenades. Eventually you send a cyborg army (told you this war is dragging on), but it’s just not happening.

Your great commander, Pepin Guardiolus VI, sighs. He has assembled the globe’s greatest army, but it’s not enough.

“How should we proceed?” asks an underling.

Guardiolus is drunk on disappointment and mead. “Screw it. You know that old trebuchet we forgot to throw away back at the start of the century? Wheel that out.”

“Yes, master,” says the underling, who scurries off, looking somewhat bemused.

Guardiolus allows himself a quarter of a smile. He has absolutely no reason to expect that crumbling old bundle of wood and leather to succeed where bullets and explosives have failed. Obviously the trebuchet isn’t going to win this war for him.

But imagine if it did.

Vin diesel

Back to the real world now, and a nuanced observation about Vincent Kompany’s goal: ewnfv;ojdnfvjo[pd fkoszdfjoefn;klkfpw;e!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I was telling Kompany not to shoot - Guardiola

00:01:28

WHY ARE YOU EVEN CONSIDERING SHOOTING FROM THERE? ARE YOU ACTUALLY MAD? YOU DO REALISE THAT YOU’RE VINCENT KOMPANY AND NOT DAVID BECKH… OH MY GOD YOU’VE ACTUALLY SCORED.

[Brain actually stops functioning, along with vast swathes of Merseyside]

Somebody call Danny Ings

Ah, Liverpool. Bit of a bleak Monday, that. Proper Boomtown Rats stuff.

It wasn’t just what happened at the Etihad, either. No, there was also the team news ahead of tonight’s would-be miracle against Barcelona, which was… well, let’s just say the opening sequence of Saving Private Ryan would probably be a suitable metaphor here.

Roberto Firmino is out. Mo Salah is out. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain is probably out. Even Virgil van Dijk is struggling with a foot problem. This is all so far from ideal that you can’t even see ideal through a telescope.

Jurgen Klopp, at least, cut a positive figure in his pre-match press conference. “Just try,” he said. “If we can do it, wonderful. If not, then fail in the most beautiful way.”

The Warm-Up never imagined “the most beautiful way” would involve quite such a strong dose of Divock Origi, but then again we didn’t imagine Vincent Kompany had a 25-yard wondergoal in him, either.

IN OTHER NEWS I

In fact, if Liverpool do need more manpower, they should probably just give AC Milan a call. Because that, based on last night’s evidence, is where Anfield flops like Suso and Fabio Borini go to get their careers back on track. Sort of like a football Priory, only with fewer people who have dated Pete Doherty.

IN OTHER NEWS II

Do not look for an explanation for this. Just let it wash over you like a mountain river:

RETRO CORNER

This year’s Champions League has been fun mainly because it genuinely seems that Ajax could win the thing. But go back a few years and the European Cup was a genuine free-for-all, with weird dynasties emerging from nothing and shocks aplenty.

It’s impossible to imagine Steaua Bucharest winning the thing in 2019, but they did just that on this day in 1986, beating Barcelona in Seville. Before we get to the action, just look at the programme! I want to go to there.

The actual game wasn’t so great. The Romanians cancelled out Terry Venables’ side over 120 minutes, and the man of the hour turned out to be Steaua goalkeeper Helmuth Duckadam, who saved all four Barcelona penalties in the shootout.

HAT TIP

The earliest memory I have is playing in the cages down by our house with my dad and older brother, Bradley. Cage football is different to the football you play on nice pitches at Whitgift or see on TV. The vibe is more intense. The cage means there are no throw-ins or corners, so you’re playing nonstop. Once you play football under the floodlights in a cage, playing under the floodlights in the Premier League is no sweat.

That’s Callum Hudson-Odoi on The Players’ Tribune, talking about his growth as a footballer, his family, and, erm, peacocks.

COMING UP

You’re probably counting down the hours to Liverpool 4-1 Barcelona (Origi 12, 19, 40, 89; Suarez 90+9), so The Warm-Up hardly need remind you. Should be fun, though.

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