The Rebound: Stop the count, Chelsea vs Man City may well be the game of the season
A look back on this weekend's Premier League action, including Man City, Chelsea, Tottenham, and Newcastle United.
and live on Freeview channel 276
Stop the count. Send the other contenders home. We might have already witnessed the game of the season, and it isn't even National Pickle Day yet. (Tomorrow, if you're planning to celebrate.) On Sunday evening, Chelsea and Manchester City knocked seven bells out of each other in a contest that could hardly have been more exhilarating had those on the pitch been blindfolded and wielding ninja death stars.
By the end, the score was 4-4, but the Pure Unadulterated Barclays Heritage rating was a perfect 100. Back and forth the spectacle lurched, like a monstrous redwood felled precariously between two anxious households, before Cole Palmer stepped up in stoppage time to ensure that the spoils were shared and both clubs were spared the injustice of a caved roof.
Of course, Sod's Law dictates that it simply had to be the former City attacker who ultimately deprived his boyhood club of a valuable win, and Pep Guardiola must have left Stamford Bridge with the feeling of a man who donated a pair of jeans to the local charity shop only to discover that he'd left a winning scratchcard in the back pocket. As for Chelsea, that's now eight goals in two matches, and there is a mounting suspicion that they might finally have turned a much-fabled corner under Mauricio Pochettino. Then again, the eye of a hurricane is often quiet, so don't be surprised if they get absolutely pestled by Newcastle United in a fortnight's time.
Elsewhere, Ange Postecoglou, for the second time in less than a week, was subjected to the inescapable reality on Saturday that no matter how hard you run or how frequently you call casual acquaintances 'mate', Tottenham, sooner or later, are gonna Tottenham. In some respects, the side that the Australian was pressed into fielding against Wolves at Molineux brought to mind the modern day Village People; it contained very few original members, and there was an awful lot of cosplaying for roles that the occupants were alarmingly unqualified to fulfil in a real world situation. Had Eric Dier taken to the field in a Native American headdress, the comparison would have been absolute. Thankfully, he did not.
Sucker-punched by a brace of late strikes, the visitors - gossamer-thin with regards to their available personnel - were left prostrate on the canvas with cartoon birds circling their dazed head, flummoxed as to how something so good could sour so completely in such a short span of time, much like a nation waking to the news that Suella Braverman has been sacked only to find out that David Cameron - that Etonian tardigrade in a starch-stiffened collar - has dragged himself, grubby and wheezing, free of the political abyss.
Credit where credit is due, though, Wolves are making quite the habit of wringing positive results from the throats of the top six. It wasn't so long ago that they beat the aforementioned Manchester City, after all. Gary O'Neil's men are ticking along nicely enough, and if they can keep it up, a top-half finish is a very attainable aspiration.
And finally, Eddie Howe dialled back the years on Saturday evening by securing a much-needed win for Bournemouth. Newcastle United made the most unforgiving away trip in the top flight with a half-empty team bus, and came away with nothing to show for their travels aside from some rather uncomfortable footage of a fan berating Kieran Trippier for his side's apparent lack of effort.
Now, I'm old enough to remember when the Toon Army, desperate to oust the despotic Mike Ashley from their beloved club, draped St. James' Park in a banner that proudly proclaimed they don't 'demand a team that wins', but rather, 'a team that tries'. It's amazing what becoming the richest side in world football can do to some supporters' sense of entitlement.
This is a team who, prior to this weekend, hadn't lost in the Premier League since September 2nd, and who are currently trying to balance a tilt at the top four with their first continental campaign in two decades, all while boasting a dressing room with more missing bodies than Burke and Hare's local cemetery. A bit of perspective might be nice.
But while effort may not actually be a problem for the Magpies, their over-reliance on Bruno Guimaraes certainly is. Since arriving on Tyneside, the Brazilian has missed just seven Premier League matches, Saturday included. As yet, Newcastle are yet to win any of them. Go and make a banner about that.