The Fiver | Yes, it's more Premier League things to look out for this weekend
Liverpool v Newcastle: Unbeaten over two league games in which they beat Tottenham at White Hart Lane before inconsiderately helping to drum Javi Gracia out of a job by not losing against Watford at home, Newcastle will attempt to become the first visiting team to win a top-flight game at Anfield since April 2017. Look out for them not becoming the first visiting team to win a top-flight game at Anfield since April 2017.
Manchester United v Leicester City: Without a number of key players for a match many expect them to lose, even before Paul Pogba, Anthony Martial and Luke Shaw, among others, were ruled out through knack, look out for the first murmurings of anti-Solskjær dissent from the Old Trafford stands, as Lord Ferg purses his lips and gives a barely perceptible shake of the head in response to Jamie Vardy standing, both ears cupped in front of the Stretford End after scoring his hat-trick.
Sheffield United v Southampton: The Fiver will be looking out for Blades fans complaining about highlights of this particular game getting bottom-billing on Match of the Day due in no small part to London media bias against teams that use over-lapping centre-halves.
Brighton v Burnley: Two sides whose results so far this season have mirrored each other go toe to toe. Look out for a draw, in the interests of symmetry.
Wolves v Chelsea: There will be goals. Lots of goals.
Tottenham v Crystal Palace: Look out for tedious post-match Social Media Disgrace Twitter bickering between rival sets of fans about which team’s serial divers’ dives were more obvious dives.
Norwich City v Manchester City: Look out for the thinly disguised smirk playing on Pep Guardiola’s lips as he patronises Norwich to within an inch of their life for adhering to their principles, even if it did result in an heroic 13-2 defeat for Daniel Farke’s side.
Bournemouth v Everton: The first instalment of a “Super Sunday” bill also featuring Watford’s match against Arsenal, watch out for assorted Sky Sports presenters and pitchside reporters sailing perilously close to the wind when it comes to flagrant breaches of the 1968 Trade Descriptions Act.
Watford v Arsenal: Following Arsenal’s routine win, look out for Watford’s statement announcing the dismissal of Quique Sánchez Flores and reinstatement of Gracia to be sneaked out while everyone’s attention is focused on the closing stages of the final Ashes Test.
Aston Villa v West Ham: Scheduled for Monday, this game technically isn’t being played at the weekend. The Fiver invites you to spend Monday morning focusing on how wrong we got our previous nine forecasts before belittling us for our lack of prescience in Monday’s letters, then taking the rest of the day off.
“We didn’t get congratulated by the owner after winning the cup. When I went to Singapore to see him on 19 July, he congratulated me for qualifying for [Big Cup] and not for the Copa del Rey victory. I’m sure you can understand my surprise. I’m absolutely certain that the smoking gun of this situation was the Copa. During the season we got messages from above and other people that we should just leave the Copa. The fans wanted us to go for the cup, so did the players. They wanted to fight for the cup and had the conviction to win it. The coaching team, too. Winning it was definitely the detonator for this situation. Who’d have thought it?” – in what sounds a bit like Father’s Ted’s Golden Cleric awards speech, minus the liars bit, Marcelino gives his former employer at Valencia, Peter Lim, a bit of a verbal roistering.
“Few of us living in the Bahamas post-Dorian will have much sympathy for the Napoli players who will have to change, by jings, in a unfinished changing room (yesterday’s Fiver). Carlo Ancelotti says there are ‘no words’. But there are. Spoiled brats who have been paid too much for too long to retain any sense of normal context are the words. Oh, and Carlo, the next time a builder asks you, with one eyebrow raised, how much you really want the construction finished, do remember he is not asking for a completion date. Hope this helps” – Charles Tuchel.
“Re: terrible pitches (Fiver passim). In the 1980s we played at one in Kawerau, New Zealand, on land that had been recently used as the rubbish tip, before a few tonnes of soil and a bit of grass seed was applied and the place repurposed as a ‘stadium’. Prior to kick-off, both teams had to walk the pitch in a line, picking up any bits of bottles, scrap iron or old cars that might have worked up to the surface. Worryingly we were also asked, in all seriousness, whether we had had recent tetanus shots” – Rod de Lisle.
“In 2011 I got married. When asked by my atypically considerate best man what I wanted to do on my stag do, I said I wanted nothing more than a game of football followed by an evening in a decent pub. Having opted to host the festivities in rural Somerset my best man, for reasons I never fully grasped, dutifully spent the evenings of several weeks going to a relative’s field usually reserved for grazing dairy cows, with a heavy roller so as to transform the field of summer baked cow pats, hoof marks and ruts into a luscious baize. When match-day came it soon became apparent his dream of an immaculate playing surface hadn’t materialised, despite the many backbreaking hours he spent pushing the roller. Ankle ligaments were inevitably damaged, knees sorely tested and the football on display would have made Big Sam blush. A memorable time was had by all, but imagine our collective surprise when upon leaving the makeshift pitch we realised that my best man had failed to register that his field was next door to a public pitch, freely available and immaculately tended. Lovely chap, not very observant though, bless him” – Jonathan Palmer.
Send your letters to [email protected] And you can always tweet The Fiver via @guardian_sport. Today’s winner of our prizeless letter o’the day is … Charles Tuchel.
Arsenal and Manchester City are up and running in Women’s Big Cup with big last-32, first-leg away wins.
Kuwait haven’t got any more love for coach Romeo Jozak, giving him the boot after their flamin’ 3-0 home defeat to Australia in World Cup qualifying.
Manchester City could be without Aymeric Laporte until March due to knee-knack.
Alisson’s calf-ouch is keeping him on the Liverpool sidelines.
Newcastle midfielder Sean Longstaff will miss Saturday’s trip to Liverpool with ankle-gah. “It’s one of those awful ones,” sighed Bernard Cribbins. “He goes to stop a cross and gets his ankle caught. It’s one of those freak ones.”
And biting an opponent during the Sherpa Van Trophy defeat to West Ham has cost Newport County defender Ryan Inniss a five-game stay on the naughty step.
Football Weekly Extra is right here.
Is Big Ole’s coaching sophisticated enough for Manchester United? Jamie Jackson investigates.
The 10 things.
Eni Aluko calls on players to get their legal beagles on the case to help rid the game of online abuse – and closing stadiums if racist chanting persists.
Culture corner: Tim Parks runs the rule over Tobias Jones’s new book Ultra, on the links between Italian football and the far right.
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