By Andi Thomas & Alex Netherton
Chelsea 0-1 Corinthians
Cup final, lads. It was a cup final. You get a trophy at the end of it. And a medal. And the chance to jump around with fizz and ticker-tape and flags, and wear stupid hats, and sing songs and all that good stuff. Maybe run around a bit? Maybe … oh, give a flying one?
The visibly devastated David Luiz aside, here’s young Brazilian forward Lucas Piazon, showing up his elders and worsers: “They lacked character, love for the shirt. None of them wanted to play. That is something in their head that I can’t criticise. At least Oscar tried. I won’t go into specifics but the team went in with no desire. You can’t go into a final with no desire to play, it’s unforgivable.”
Newcastle 1-3 Manchester City
Despite what you may have read elsewhere, Roberto Mancini is a genius. Having presided over a limp and stuttering conglomeration of indolence and indignity for much of the season, his careful and calculated stuffing-up—”So if I leave Mario Balotelli on until just into the second half, that should do it”—of last week’s Manchester derby has provided his squad with something of a slap around the ego. City looked, for more-or-less the first time this season, pretty good. Newcastle looked half-decent as well. Wasn’t a terrible game, actually. Hooray for football.
(Balotelli is now challenging his club’s decision to fine him £340,000 for poor on-field discipline last season, an esoteric approach to rebuilding his relationship with his manager. Another victory for Mancini.)
Liverpool 1-3 Aston Villa
A tragicomedy in two acts, starring Brendan Rodgers.
I. Hubris: “I said to the players this morning that everyone talks about fourth place but what about third? We are 11 points off second.”
II. Nemesis: “We were talked up all week as top-four material but we know within the group we still have a long way to go.”
Manchester United 3-1 Sunderland
Despite what you may have read elsewhere, Alex Ferguson is a genius. Having presided over a limp and stuttering conglomeration of indolence and indignity for much of the season, his careful and calculated near-stuffing-up—”So if I buy Robin van Persie instead of a midfield, we might get away with it”—of last week’s Manchester derby has provided his squad with something of a slap around the ego. United looked, for more-or-less the first time this season, pretty good. Sunderland looked half-decent as well. Wasn’t a terrible game, actually. Hooray for football.
(Rumours that Manchester United will build on this success and points advantage by adding a competent midfielder to the squad are nothing but a bitter joke from the two Manchester United fans writing this.)
Norwich 2-1 Wigan
Absolutely no idea. One of us got lost near Norwich once. We’d been staying on a boat and couldn’t find it in the dark. Nearly fell in a canal. Not one of the all-time great anecdotes, admittedly, but needs must. The other one of us has been to Ipswich once, though. Next!
QPR 2-1 Fulham
Adel Taarabt started in the middle. Adel Taarabt did two goals. Of all the things that Mark Hughes got wrong at QPR, and there were plenty, his decision to use Taarabt mostly out on the left may have looked at the time like pragmatism, but was not only cowardice of the most risible kind, but also and more importantly a crime against aesthetics. Taarabt may well be “mercurial”—copyright every bloody writer everywhere for the last however bloody long he’s been knocking about—but Mercury had wings on his feet, not feet for the wings. Give genius—or Adel Taraabt—its rightful place, please, and we promise we’ll think well of you when you get relegated.
N.B. This is a lie. Watching Joey Barton return to England after failure in France, only to find himself managed by noted philosopher Harry Redknapp, in The Championship, in a midfield with his celebrated friend Frank Lampard, is precisely what these chumps deserve. Bye!
Stoke City 1-1 Everton
In which Marouane Fellaini, having been so comically good for most of the season, did something really, really stupid, and slammed his novelty topiary into Ryan Shawcross’s semi-baked face. Naughty Marouane! Rumours that a large basket of fruit and muffins arrived at Everton’s training ground this morning, couriered from North London and signed only ‘Rambo’, have just been made up by us.
Tottenham 1-0 Swansea
You have to hand it to TLA, he’s an innovator. When your team are incapable of holding onto leads, you need to distract the opposition, and what better way than having your goalkeeper chin their goalscorer? One of the few unequivocally sensible rule variants of recent times has been the command to always, always, always stop play for a head injury, even if it only looks like a head injury, even if you suspect he’s faking, even if the last three head injuries turned out to be shallow and embarrassing fictions, because head injuries. Somebody please tell Mike Dean. Hipster’s choice Michu is just too damn sexy to take chances with.
West Brom 0-0 West Ham
Half a bottle of ginger wine, no idea.
Reading 1-2 Arsenal
Take out a second mortgage and put it all on this score immediately. Send 50% of all winnings to Messrs Netherton and Thomas, c/o Counter Attack, Maple Syrup Boulevard, Moosetown, America. We will not be liable for any losses. Your home is at risk if you do not keep up repayments. For God’s sake do not convert winnings into Canadian dollars. Stop reading this … now.