Friday, September 29, 2023

Club Football Is Back! | 5 Absolutely Essential Things That You Simply Cannot Miss This Weekend

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Jon Depp (JD)
Eccentric writer, effervescent blagger. What he lacks in cheekbones, he makes up by being cheeky. The footballing Jack Sparrow pompously navigating the high-waves of journalism.2015 International Football Blogging Award Finalist, the pin-up boy of The 4th Official.

Ah, can you smell that? That’s the sweet aroma of club football around the corner. Here’s JD of The 4th Official, with sprightly spirits jotting down 5 things to look forward to this weekend.

#1 Resurrection of Fortress Anfield – Liverpool vs Leicester City

When Bill Shankly put the “This Is Anfield” sign on the entrance, it was to remind the players who they were playing for, and to remind the others who they were playing against. That century worth of aura around L4 0TH, Liverpool, has been inundated by two decades of mediocrity. But there are still nights with small mercies, where scenes of past miracles are re-enacted, and goosebumps still perforate your skin like they did ages ago, as the blue-collared people of Liverpool stood and swayed in metronomic unison, in a trance, singing songs of the times.

The chill went up my spine when I watched this documentary, just like it did when I saw David Fairclough, like from a scene from Walt Disney’s Fantasia enchant vast numbers. Just like when Chelsea came to Anfield in 2005, or in more recent times, when Dortmund rustled awake the sleeping giant, even if it was just for one day (this redirects to David Bowie’s Heroes).

Leicester will face the full power and glory of Liverpool Football Club on Saturday, as Anfield adds the voices of eight thousand more fanatical Scousers (the locals and the ones by virtue). The place is going to reverberate like the days past. Leicester are going to need an early goal, or they’d have to batten down the hatches. The songs streaming down the stands shall wash the fields of Anfield road, once again. Klopp and all of his men will have to ensure that this isn’t just for one day.

#2 Jose’s Yin and Pep’s Yang – The Manchester Derby

Jose Mourinho and Pep Guardiola are poles apart, in fact, both of them, as far as football philosophies go, are at the opposite ends of the spectrum. One’s reactive, the other, proactive. And they don’t really see eye to eye. Neither do Manchester City and Manchester United fans, if only to give each other death stares on derby day. It’ll be an intriguing tactical batter, where Jose is predictably going to park the bus, while Pep tries to unassemble the chassis, one pass at a time, one panel at a time.

Pep’s minions are coming into this match with all the momentum in the world, while United’s players have been above par, at best. It could be rather embarrassing for Jose, unless, of course, he pulls off another Inter Milan.

#3 Scott Brown Has a Score To Settle With Joey Barton – Old Firm Derby, New Grudges

Joey Barton just had to mark his arrival at a new club by being a t**t. It’s like a thing, now. The man-child in one of his very first interviews, deemed Celtic skipper, Scott Brown to be not in his ‘league’.

“People keep talking about Scott Brown v Joey Barton,” said the flippant Barton. “He’s not even in my league. He’s nowhere near the level of player I am. He can’t get near me. If I play well, Brown doesn’t stand a chance.” 

There has been dissing from both sides, with Brown commenting how Barton was documented confessing that Celtic fan; and then as a riposte, Barton posting a photograph of Brown in a Rangers kit from the time of his youth – probably sourced through a private investigator or google. Barton didn’t stop there with his jibes, with one barb directed at Brendan Rodgers’ supposed mid-life crisis, alluding doing up his hair and his teeth and losing a considerable amount of weight, and then getting re-married.

In any case, Celtic players could have a nasty tackle or three reserved for Barton. You and I can revel in the schadenfreude.

#4 Tony Pulis vs Eddie Howe – A Battle of Footballing Opposites

It’ll be another battle of conflicting styles, this, however, with philosophies that are eras apart. Eddie Howe of Bournemouth is said to be ushering the new age of English football managers, whose prerogative is the economy of the ball, possession, space and movement. Such has been his dedication to play the good game, that the self-anointed purists of the English game, Arsenal, reportedly have the man in their sights, to replace Arsene Wenger when the time comes. While, Tony Pulis’ modus operandi is from the medieval age of English football, where the urgency to get the ball up into the danger area, as often as possible, holds the reins of West Brom. The starkly differing means of attack will be curious, to say the least.

#5 New Players Galore – FPL Goldmine

Islam Slimani (Leicester), David Luiz (Chelsea), Jack Wilshere (Bournemouth), Moussa Sissoko (Tottenham), Jeff Hendrick (Burnley), Didier N’dong (Sunderland), Wilfried Bony (Stoke), Enner Valencia (Everton), Calum Chambers (Boro), Kenedy (Watford), Ryan Mason (Hull), and many, many more will be turning out for their new clubs. All very exciting stuff for all the supporters involved; also, especially, if you have half and eye on the fortunes of the Fantasy Premier League.

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