They’re all just brazenly trolling Liverpool now. For most of the second half of the season, the clubs near the top of the Premier League table have seemingly gone out of their way to keep the top-four door ajar, only for the Reds to pass up several opportunities to make up the points with a series of silent-movie pratfalls, slapstick gaffes and sidesplittingly predictable last-minute capitulations. They’ve pretty much run the entire clowning playbook, save routines that require props forbidden by the laws of the game, such as custard pies, buckets of glitter and square-wheeled cars – and yet there’s still a sense that there’s one big-top fiasco to come.
Ah look, they’re off to Old Trafford tonight, just 24 hours after Jorginho, Kepa and meddlesome tinkerman Thomas Tuchel conspired to wedge that aforementioned door open with a roll of deep-pile red carpet. This way, everyone! Welcome! There are snacks! Chelsea’s ludicrous defeat in what appeared to be a training-ground drill has turned a top-four cakewalk into something rather more perilous. The Fiver is pretty sure everything will be OK for the Blues in the end – this evening’s Granadaland derby most likely decided in the 89th minute when Alisson asks someone to smell his funny flower – but it should never have come as far as this.
Of course, should the freshly deposed champions Liverpool somehow end the season with four straight wins, displaying the sort of top form they haven’t hit since the start of 2020, they’ll most likely make it into Big Cup, given the permutations, the fact Leicester and Chelsea have to play each other, and no we’re not going to show our workings. But that seems something of a pipe dream, given recent antics, as do the hopes and dreams of West Ham, who have only easy fixtures left but surely not enough of them. Still, technically it’s still all up in the air, though at least we’re spared the possibility of the prize being swiped from the team that finishes fourth, Arsenal having got themselves knocked out of Euro Vase last week. Looking back, it was the least they owed us for throwing everything into confusion at Stamford Bridge.
LIVE ON BIG WEBSITE!
Join Scott Murray for piping hot MBM coverage of Aston Villa 1-2 Everton from 6pm BST, and Nick Ames will be in the chair for Manchester United 2-2 Liverpool at Old Trafford, where there are again expected to be anti-Glazer protests.
QUOTE OF THE DAY
“I’ll talk to him to bring him back. Next year he will play in Alvalade (Sporting’s stadium)” – From her balcony in Lisbon, Dolores Aveiro, the mother of Cristiano Ronaldo, tells Sporting fans that her son could return to his boyhood club next season after their first Portuguese title win since 2002.
“Re: Ajax and their estimable gesture (yesterday’s Fiver). I hear all Newcastle season ticket holders are shortly to receive a broken shard of pottery from an unnecessarily large mug” – Jon Millard.
“In an act that is causing me no little consternation, I feel I must come to the defence of The Fiver following the letter from Jerry Twomey (and others). It is possible to make tea in a kettle without using teabags using loose leaf tea which I have been doing for many years; the kettles are actually a lovely bit of kit and worth checking out at all good kitchen appliance vendors. My only quibble (there had to be one) is it is possible to keep the tea warm for a time after it has brewed so there is no need to settle for tepid tea” – Chris Ware (and no others).
“I agree with Clive Tyldesley that ‘every commentator should be allowed one [eff] per year’. I think the Fiver should be allowed one also, maybe a few and some Jeffs. When is the Fiver going to be allowed to join Big Website and get to use the [eff] in question in full? F[snip, Fiver Ed]” – Steve Wilson.
NEWS, BITS AND BOBS
The Champions League final on 29 May will be held in …
Istanbul … London … Porto!
Pep Guardiola has revealed things got a little bit crazy during Manchester City’s title celebrations. “At 11.30pm, 15 pizzas arrived and that was the best moment of the night,” gushed Pep. “I was not in perfect condition to decide [which one] – but all of them were so good.”
Richard Arnold is in pole position to replace Ed Woodward as head honcho at Old Trafford.
Matt Beard has been named the new manager of Liverpool Women after his time in temporary charge of Bristol City came to an end. “It’s a fascinating football club, it’s a fascinating city. Myself and my family loved our time here and we’re really looking forward to coming back,” De La Souled Beard, who previously managed the Reds between 2012 and 2015.
Nice man Antonio Rüdiger has passed on his social media accounts to Chelsea and Westminster Hospital for a day as a show of support for NHS staff. “For me it’s important to give them more credit, the people who are working in hospitals,” Rüdiger tooted. “They’ve done an extremely good job for us in the past one and a half years.”
The Premier League has agreed a £4.8bn TV rights deal with Sky Sports, BT and Amazon. An extra £100m will now trickle down to the little people, which is nice.
Steve Bruce is aiming to stay at Newcastle United for another season after valiantly staving off relegation. “I’m a football manager,” Bruce deadpanned.
STILL WANT MORE?
Meet Kayky, Manchester City’s new Brazilian teenager, who wanted to become a doctor before he became a footballer. Josué Seixas and Tom Sanderson talk to the 17-year-old, his parents (who sounds lovely by the way) and his coach.
Gigi Buffon is retiring, Gennaro Gattuso’s Napoli hammered Udinese and Milan won 7-0 at Torino. Nicky Bandini reflects on another quiet midweek in Serie A.
It’s been a hard two years for Kepa Arrizabalaga, but he’s likely to start for Chelsea in Saturday’s FA Cup final. Jacob Steinberg contemplates the whys and hows.
With both Wednesday and United suffering ignominious relegations, the city of Sheffield has enjoyed better seasons. Louise Taylor wonders what’s gone on.
The most left-wing football match ever, a cavalcade of tractors and when Panenkas go wrong. It’s Classic YouTube!
The shock departure of Casey Stoney is a big loss for Manchester United, argues Louise Taylor.
Oh, and if it’s your thing … you can follow Big Website on Big Social FaceSpace. And INSTACHAT, TOO!