The Warm-Up: Eden Hazard is - get this - really, really good
Plus: crisis time for Pards,
TUESDAY’S BIG STORIES
Eden Hazard is really, really good
Eden Hazard won’t win any national player of the year awards this season. He might not even be Chelsea’s player of the year, since Andreas Christensen is yet to break sweat at the back there. But when he’s on…good lord, he is on.
Hazard was the driving force behind Chelsea’s slightly odd 3-0 win over West Brom on Monday night – odd in that it ostensibly appeared to be a relatively routine success, but had a few things broken different ways then the scoreline could probably have been reversed.
But, back to Hazard: he scored twice, Victor Moses getting the other, and displayed a few moments of flamboyance that would make anyone with blood running through their veins weep with joy. Or something like that.
“It’s always good to play this type of game and now we have two games against Hull and Barca,” Hazard told Sky afterwards. “We are ready. ‘It was not a good moment for us because we lost two games but now we are back, we are Chelsea, we are champions and we have to give everything.”
Alan Pardew is…not quite so good
West Brom weren’t wrong to sack Tony Pulis. Things were looking pretty stagnant under him, and even ignoring the terrible run of form they were on, a change was probably a good idea for everyone concerned.
The trouble is they needed a boost from Alan Pardew, his replacement, a boost that his time rescuing Crystal Palace in his early days there suggested he could provide. And yet, the firefighter hasn’t so much doused the flames as found another fire, and thrown that second fire onto the first fire. Thus creating an even bigger fire.
West Brom are stone bottom of the table, seven points from safety and with a run of fixtures coming up on which there will be huge pressure. The coming weeks see them face Huddersfield, Watford, Leicester, Burnley and Swansea. You’d think they’ll need at least three wins from that lot, because after that it’s Liverpool and Manchester United.
Juve tremble at the feet of Kane (or something like that)
Big one tonight. Big one for Tottenham, and indeed Juventus, and specifically Giorgio Chiellini. The grand old man of Italian defending has seen off plenty of tip-tip attackers in his time, but even he is quaking in his boots at the prospect of facing Harry Kane.
“[Kane]’s an extraordinary striker and his stats over the past two years prove it, and he’s a player who’s grown a lot over recent years,” Chiellini said.
“He’s a complete player: scores goals, sets up his teammates — he’s got the characteristics which make him one of the best in the world and Tottenham are lucky to have him because he’s a rare commodity.
“Thinking of stopping Kane one-on-one, just me, is not going to happen. My interest is that Juventus stop Tottenham and this is the most important thing.”
One of the great defenders admitting he’s quivering in fear (sort of) at the prospect of facing Kane. That’ll do good things for your ego.
IN OTHER NEWS
Lens, by all accounts, isn’t the most jumping town. The best they’ve got to brag about is being the place where it all started for Raphael Varane and Emmanuel Macron. To pep things up a bit, the latter is apparently attempting to bring the Mona Lisa on loan to the town, and the football club got involved in the campaign this weekend.
The Warm-Up is all for this, as long as the painting is a) only displayed at the ground and b) used as target practice during the half-time entertainment.
HEROES AND ZEROS
Hero: Daniel Sturridge
Of course, Daniel Sturridge didn’t actually do much to earn ‘hero’ status this week, but the Warm-Up just thinks he needs something – anything – to cheer him up. Sturridge left Liverpool in order to get a little consistency and some games under his belt. But three minutes into his second start for West Brom, he twangs his hamstring again. Poor guy. Hopefully the dubious pleasure of some Warm-Up acclaim, Daniel. Chin up.
Zero: Gordon Taylor
The Warm-Up had the misfortune of attending a talk given by Gordon Taylor once. He had, without any question whatsoever, the most tedious voice of all time. Here is a charisma-free zone who has somehow risen to and held for about a billion years the lofty position of PFA chairman, and as you can see is being handsomely rumenerated for it.
Now, it’s theoretically none of anyone’s business how much a man earns, but good god: when an organisation is spending nearly four times as much on their chairman’s bonus (never mind his actual salary) than they do on concussion research, you know something is awry.
"Bondy gave him a tough apprenticeship. “Mentally, he was always in difficulty,” Riccardi said. “At 11, he was playing with 13-year-olds, and at 13 with 15-year-olds. He was playing against the best players in the region, sometimes kids who were 15 centimeters taller than him.” In his early teens Mbappe spent a couple of years in the French national academy, Clairefontaine, where the country’s biggest talents go to have their technique refined. It didn’t transform him. “With him, I didn’t see the difference of Clairefontaine or not Clairefontaine,” Riccardi said with a shrug. “He may not have been the player who needed it most.”"
As well you know, the five players to represent both Tottenham and Juventus are Fernando Llorente, Yago Falque, Reto Ziegler, Tony Marchi and Edgar Davids. Here’s the latter, cleaning Heurelho Gomes’s clock from way downtown.
Baaa-baaa, baa-baa-baaaaaaaaaa, the CHAAAAAAAAAAMPIOOOOOOOONS! Yessir, it’s back, starting with a couple of humdingers. Well, one humdinger and a probable walkover: Tottenham are in Turin to play Juventus and Manchester City face Basel. If you fancy a grittier vibe then there’s a couple of Championship games and full slates in Leagues One and Two as well. Fill your boots.
Tomorrow’s Warm-Up will be brought to you by…erm…some guy called Nick Miller. Sounds rubbish, I wouldn’t bother.