It was May 8, some 180-odd days ago. The world was a different place. Britain had a different Prime Minister. And Tottenham Hotspur won a game of football away from home.
On Wednesday night they finally repeated this feat, comfortably dispatching Crvena Zvezda by four goals to nil. It was an encouraging display, particularly the performances of Giovani Lo Celso and Tanguy Ndombele. You can see the shape of the next Spurs team starting to emerge around these two, and it can’t be too long before they’re both starting regularly in the Premier League.
And if this is the beginning of something new at Spurs, well, what better way to celebrate it than with a goalmouth scramble of the very finest quality.
There’s at least one penalty in there, right? And a lot of exploded xG-ometers. The Warm-Up particularly likes Kane’s effort that eventually leads to the goal. If you think about it, the ball basically ends up where it’s supposed to go, nestling in the opposite corner of the net. It just does so via Son, the bar, and Lo Celso. Less a miss, more a trick shot.
The only thing missing was a defender lunging back over his own line in despair and getting caught in the goal net. Something to work on there, Red Star. If you’re going to be this bad at defending, at least try and hit the comedy beats.
Arsenal … don’t
Unai Emery, Arsenal head coach
Image credit: Getty Images
Obviously there were very good reasons for Arsenal to be playing their Europa League game a day early, in the middle of the afternoon. The day? Congestion concerns, with Braga due to play at home on Thursday. The time? So as not to overlap with the Champions League’s hallowed television slots.
And that’s fine, right? Yet it felt vaguely amusing, in that way everything to do with Arsenal seems vaguely amusing. It’s remarkable, the way this grand old name has become a byword for facepalm, blunder, and calamity. The way “oh, Arsenal” infects even perfectly sensible logistical decisions.
And it’s probably something to do with stuff like this:
Yes, that’s Arsenal — grand old Arsenal — playing 90 minutes against the worst team in their Europa League group and completing one (1) pass into the box. They also scored one (1) goal. And they almost won: Vitoria’s 91st minute equaliser technically counts as a shock, since Arsenal began the game as favourites.
But you wouldn’t call it a surprise, would you? No, you would not. You’d call it “Arsenal”, and you’d be right to do so. Whatever, the day, whatever the time. Arsenal.
Dear Santa. This year I would like Arsène Wenger at Bayern Munich.
The Warm-Up doesn’t ask for much. Good football. Failing that, funny football. And failing that, well, at least a regular flow of usable content.
Think about it. It’s perfect. They’ve already got a goalkeeper and a midfield, so they won’t have to worry about him mysteriously forgetting to buy anybody. They’ve got an experienced defence, so they won’t have to worry about him mysteriously forgetting to train anybody. And they’ve got loads of exciting attacking players just crying out for somebody to let them have a bit of fun.
Come on. Just for a few months. We’ve been good all year. We deserve this. We all deserve this. Give the great man a great club; give the rest of us some twinkly-eyed press conferences and some beautiful goals.
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IN OTHER NEWS
Alert! Alert! Outfield player in goal! Outfield player in goal!
Thank you Claudio Bravo, for setting that up, and thank you Rich Jolly, for the excellent stat below. No thanks at all to Atalanta, who rather lost their heads after Kyle Walker heroically repelled the free-kick, and gave City’s no. 2 a fairly quiet ride through to the final whistle.
And if Ederson doesn’t make it for Sunday’s big game against Liverpool? Well, only one of City’s back-up keepers got sent off midweek, and it wasn’t Walker. Just saying.
Outfield players going in goal is one of life’s great universal pleasures, second only perhaps to a dog loose in a school playground. The great thing about this video of Jan Koller’s time as an emergency keeper is that for the first half of the video, as he plays in his proper position, he looks like … well, he looks like a goalkeeper playing up front. All elbows and heavy touches.
He even scores by accident.
Then he gets the gloves (about 8.54 in the video), and he looks like he’s come home. Maybe the incredibly tall man should have actually been a keeper? Just a thought.
In Germany it’s one star for three titles, two stars for five, and three stars for ten. Bayern Munich have four stars for their 20 Bundesliga wins (titles before 1963 are not counted) but no one seems to know how many more they need to capture to gain a fifth star.
Some more timekeeping jiggery-pokery means that you can, if you’re so minded and equipped, watch three Europa League games back-to-back this glorious Thursday evening. FC Astana vs. AZ Alkmaar kicks off at Arsenal o’clock, before the usual time slots, which today includes Celtic’s return trip to Lazio — might get testy, that one — and Manchester United looking to “fill their boots” against Partizan Belgrade.
Who knows, they might even score twice.
Tomorrow, here to bring you news of all that Europa League goodness and more, Tom Adams.