The Fifth Official

Mr Ed vs Mr Chelsea

October 31, 2011
By The Fifth Official
(Archive)

Few of us like Monday but The Fifth Official does, for it brings with it a chance for him to point the finger and laugh. Here he pulls out the pretty, the puzzling and the downright pig-ugly from a week brimming with potential victims.

What you Gunner do about it, JT?

Robin van Persie, John Terry
GettyImagesBow to the master: JT falls to his knees in praise of Robin van Persie

Having pumped Arsenal with gags for what seems like a full year, credit is due to Arsene Wenger and his merry mob after a thumping win at Chelsea that underlines how the Premier League's entertainment value goes up the worse the defending gets. This was sweet salvation for Arsenal fans, the first time they could have a cuddle with unbridled joy since the 89th minute of the Carling Cup final.

Chelsea did at least win one aspect of the contest - the test of defensive ineptitude - and that is going some considering Arsenal's frailties. Stone me, even the euro is more robust. Per Mertesacker appears to be a giant who can't jump. He is, however, good at misjudging ball flight and falling over. Mr Ed would have played better but, of course, the major fall guy was England's glorious leader, Mr John Terry.

This is the man Andre Villas-Boas thinks must be innocent in the current racism storm purely because he is England captain. Andre, you may have a scientifically perfect quiff, but I'm not sure if you've got much underneath it because that is EXACTLY the reason he should be thoroughly investigated. He is our country's football ambassador and with these allegations circling his head, he is certainly not spoiling us.

In a vain attempt to show how much he embraces the multi-cultural nature of the Premier League, Terry even fell to his knees late in the game to worship Robin van Persie - the magical Dutchman who has scored 28 goals in 27 Premier League games in 2011. Heck, even Theo Walcott had a stormer, scoring a belter after somehow tripping himself up, and turning in the odd pinpoint cross to shatter my entire belief system.

For the chopping board

There was no way Delia Smith - that bastion of British culinary perfection - was going to let a bunch of Indian chicken farmers stroll out of Carrow Road with three points tucked into their poultry pouch. This is a woman who once taught the nation how to boil an egg; she fully expected to be able to tell Venky's how to suck them upon the final whistle.

But Delia hadn't counted on the spirit within the Rovers squad, as thick as a perfectly-strained banana lassi. Junior Hoilett griddled Norwich's rearguard; Yakubu, who may well be paid in chicken breasts judging by the size of him, skewered John Ruddy at the near post; and Chris Samba flambéed several Canaries with a back-stick header. But with only eight minutes left, there was still time for Rovers to fold, like a perfectly manicured set of meringues.

Just as Kean was preparing to herald his side's perfect record against clubs from East Anglia, the referee handed Norwich a penalty so soft you could cuddle up and go to sleep in it. This was no practical yolk. Stephen N'Zonzi was appealing for a free-kick when the ball faintly brushed his arm, like a sausage roll being egg washed in Delia's kitchen. Grant Holt converted to drizzle a light jus of injustice over Kean's ever expanding quiche of incompetence.

Delia, stick a fork in Steve, would you? He's almost done.

Bent as a bottle of crisps

This was the return Sunderland fans had been waiting for: Darren Bent, back in the caldron of fury that is the Stadium of Light for the first time since he deserted the red and whites for an equally mediocre outfit. Those Mackem fans who used follow DBthetruth on Twitter unleashed hell on this Halloween weekend, and added an extra 20% on top for another defector, Asamoah Gyan, knowing full well they are highly unlikely to draw Al-Ain in the third round of the FA Cup.

The only problem was the rest of the Premier League couldn't give a toss about Bent going back to Sunderland. Poll them and you'd have discovered they would far rather have watched Alex McLeish and Steve Bruce embark on a competition to see who could smash through the most boards of plywood with their extra thick craniums in the centre circle. Bruce would have been my bet - he could probably carve wood with that bugle of his.

Villa's point could have been three had Bent had his shooting boots on - the ones that used to carry Twitter's logo. But after firing wide from four yards in the first half, and somehow managing to find Keiren Westwood's leg when the goal was chirping sweet nothings at him, Bent ended up swallowing trick rather than treat and finished the match looking like he had more on his plate than Titus Bramble.

Instead, Stephane Sessegnon added to Connor Wickham's first goal for the club to rescue a draw, to which Bruce reacted with a pump of the fist and a whispered "thank you" to the Gods of 'late goals from free kicks' he'd reached out to seconds before Seb Larsson's set-piece floated into the box.

Wigan. Doomed

Can't defend, can't score. As combinations go in the Premier League it is pretty deadly, and for Wigan, things are already looking terminal. With only one win all season, six goals scored compared to 17 conceded, and seven defeats on the spin, things are looking as ugly for the Latics as the gizzard of a recently-roasted Venky's chicken.

Poor old Roberto Martinez - once the poster boy for a brave new breed of manager and now, unmistakably, showing signs of developing a Bobby Charlton style combover as the pleasure at watching his side's pretty triangular passing patterns wilts under the stress of failing to make the net even flap in the wind, let alone bulge. They had 19 shots on goal against Fulham, but lost two-zip. And to think, Roberto chose to stay put when the 'bright' lights of the Midlands came calling. He could happily be slugging it out in mid-table with those other sides stuck in the soggy morass that are only marginally better than his own. Still, he won't be short of offers come May I'm sure.

My deer friends

Neil Warnock practises his deer-startling technique at White Hart Lane
PA PhotosNeil Warnock practises his deer-startling technique at White Hart Lane

"I have a day off tomorrow. I am going to go in the park and have a ride on my bike. I won't be thinking of anything but the deer." I don't know about you, but I didn't have Neil Warnock down as a budding Dr Doolittle. The only reason I can think for him seeking out a bevy of deer is so he can practise his half-time hairdryer into their terrified faces.

Warnock was talking about getting away from the furore surrounding the Terry-Anton Ferdinand row, but 'Arry Redknapp reinforced my Warnock hunch by saying that Spurs were so good in the first half at White Hart Lane that his charges could hear QPR "arguing" in their dressing room. "It was all kicking off," he wibbled, before managing to trot out his much loved 'look how far we've come, haven't we done well' line.

The truth was Spurs looked pretty sexy in the first half, but then it was against a side who were bossed by nine men last week. 'Arry was in full flow however, saying a Champions League spot should be the least they aim at, conveniently forgetting the eight goals they shipped in the opening two games.

It matters not if they finish in the top four though, as 'Arry's name is already being trumpeted for the England gig when Fabio finally takes his pot of gold back to Italy. Even Warnock said he was a shoo-in for it, but, then, he does tend to say anything the old deer wants to hear.

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