First, a few housekeeping notes.
Congratulations, Jamie Vardy. The striker has enjoyed an incredible rise to fame and what a man he is. He has come all the way from non-league to the Premier League. He has always shown remarkable self-confidence. At the weekend, Leicester City took on Manchester United as England’s top team squared off against its nearest challenger. Vardy opened the scoring, and with that wheeled away to the United fans who had been taunting him, screaming about the achievement that separated him from Manchester United legend Ruud van Nistelrooy.
But in fact, he was mistaken, because while Vardy thought that he was pulling away from van Nistelrooy in the consecutive scoring Premier League records, the pair still shared something in common. Van Nistelrooy had, of course, dressed up in blackface when at Real Madrid for a hospital visit. Vardy, of course, will always be known by sensible and godly people as the England international who decided it would be a good idea to racially abuse as man, repeatedly, as a “jap” in a casino. So, in honor of his achievements as a goalscorer, we shall from now on mark his special achievement by calling him “racism’s Jamie Vardy” whenever he is mentioned in this here Diary.
Similarly, Louis van Gaal will henceforth be known as “stultifying tedium’s Louis van Gaal.” The Manchester United manager can no longer be considered a football manager, but rather a performance artist. There is no other explanation for the continued indulgence of Wayne Rooney, a player who now plays as if he is a ham sandwich. There is no other explanation for clearly telling his players to keep possession at the expense of everything else, and for reducing players of the quality of Juan Mata, Bastian Schweinsteiger, and Anthony Martial to producing a spectacle that is even more boring than theater.
So, Arsenal. Arsenal. Arsenal Arsenal Arsenal. Arsenal Arsenal Arsenal Arsenal Arsenal Arsenal. Say that word often enough about a team after they’ve played, and even the casual observer will understand what has happened.
And yes, Arsenal really did Arsenal the Arsenal out of the weekend. They played Norwich, one of the worst teams in the Premier League, and they came to do business. Manchester City had pulled away at the top with an easy win over Southampton, Leicester and Manchester United had dropped points against one another. With the chance to take advantage, and with Champions League football in the balance, there was a decision to be made by Arsene Wenger.
He could rest Alexis Sanchez, repeatedly described as in “the red zone,” where one, in theory, is more susceptible to injury. He could play Joel Campbell, and hope that he, Aaron Ramsey, and Mesut Ozil would be enough to negotiate the opponent. At the very least, a draw would be likely, and Arsenal would consolidate its place in the top four.
And so, with Wenger knowing Arsenal is Arsenal, he picked Sanchez to start. Fate intervened, sarcastically, not to strike down Sanchez, but to give Laurent Koscielny a slight muscle strain, sending him trudging off. At half-time, it was 1-1. In the second half, Ryan Bennett nudged Sanchez into a cameraman’s pit on the side of the pitch. Fate was being kind to Arsenal. It was saying to Wenger, “Look, you’ve had your fun, take him off now before he gets hurt.” Wenger, obviously, thought he knew better, at which point fate flounced out the door, taking the shape of Barry Davies screaming, “You just will not learn!” and ordered Sanchez to suffer a hamstring strain.
If it wasn’t so tragic, it would be funny. No wait, it is funny.
But now, having dealt with racism and and a serious blow to Arsenal’s list of healthy people, we move on to the most vital development in the Premier League this weekend.
As Spurs played out an ambition-free 0-0 draw with Chelsea, Diego Costa was sent to warm up by Jose Mourinho. Now, Costa had been dropped from the striker’s position to the bench, in favor of Eden Hazard. Hazard played well enough, considering the unfamiliar role and the poor form he has endured for much of this season. Mourinho praised his performance after the game.
Anyway, Costa had one of the huffs of the season, pulling off one of the most magnificent passive aggressive strops seen in football. It doesn’t quite match Carlos Tevez saying, “nah,” in response to Roberto Mancini wondering if he wouldn’t mind, awfully, if he could come on to the field to play football, but it is close. Diego Costa strolled down to the corner, performed a few slow motion aerobic poses, and then sauntered back to the bench. On his way back to said bench, he threw off his training bib in the direction of Mourinho.
It is at this point that we have to thank Jon Obi Mikel, Chelsea’s Zelig, chuckling in the background at the sheer pettiness of it all. If anyone can sum up the futility and hopelessness of the Premier League right now, it is Mikel.
Having read the diary, you may now be wondering to yourself if the weekend was really lacking in any real drama. To that we say: imagine how hard it is to get 900 words out of that. It’s even harder than having to read them. Now just imagine the struggle it took to cobble together our book, Are You an Ostrich?: A Diary of the 2014/15 Premier League. The things we do for our readers.