Football,

Tuchel to continue exposing streak?

CHELSEA vs MANCHESTER CITY


Chelsea @ 13/8
Manchester City @ 17/10
Draw @ 23/10
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Thomas Tuchel’s Chelsea have now beaten Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City in three consecutive meetings, the most impactful victory being at the Champions League Final in May.  Another win for Tuchel would be a remarkable achievement, set a huge marker for the rest of the season, and would underscore his swelling reputation as the Premier League’s principal cerebral tactician.

A fourth straight win would also be exposing and humiliating for Pep.  It would, in essence, be like Tuchel leading Guardiola to the centre circle at the end of the match and repeatedly slapping him on the top of his head as the Stamford Bridge crowd looks on…chuckling into their champagne flutes…

Perhaps, more seriously and seismically, it could be an early indicator that Pep is a manager on the wane.  And the knock-on effect could be terminal for the rest of City’s campaign.  They were easily able to overcome a slow-start last season, but Chelsea’s form in the opening skirmishes would already suggest that repeating the feat will be much more difficult this time round.

Lots of people who claim to be football experts – *waves* – predicted that City might struggle against some opponents if they did not secure the services of a #9 with relevant experience and an up-to-date CV.  Anyone could see it was a potential problem.  The uncontacted Nukak people, deep in the Colombian rainforest, despite having no idea what football even is, have posted several wordy blogs on the subject on their Substack.

And yet, for whatever reason, City didn’t get Kane and they didn’t get Ronaldo.

To miss out on one striker may be regarded as a misfortune, to miss out on both looks like carelessness.  Which is especially unusual for a manager whose only real criticism up to this point was a tendency to over-think his approach to crucial fixtures.

Well, at least he’s got the backing of the fans.  Only a fool would question that suppor…oh.  Right.

So, some hefty old stakes right there.  Stakes that I’m sure are about as appealing to Guardiola as they would be to Count Dracula.  But fun for the rest of us, which is, of course, the main thing…

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A truly elite player is one who continually seeks to improve even when they appear to have reached the summit of their profession.  The abovementioned Harry Kane, for example, is famous for not having a ‘good’ August.  But this season it seems he is looking to expand this trait all the way through September too.  Admirable dedication to his craft.

Tottenham and Arsenal, after diametrically opposite beginnings to the season – Spurs won all three of their opening games, Arsenal lost all three; Spurs have lost their last two, Arsenal have won their last two – now find themselves in an epic battle to see who truly owns the right to occupy the mid-table.

Such an unusual pattern of results also hints at the emergence of a kind of quantity theory of success in North East London.  In short, there is only a finite amount of success to be had in the geographical locale, and whatever amount there is, it can only be divided between the two sides.  So when/if Arsenal do well, according to this (as-yet peer-reviewed) theory, Tottenham will do badly, and vice-versa.

It’s a bit like squeezing one end of a semi-deflated balloon: the opposite, un-squeezed end will quickly tumesce, but the amount of air within the balloon will remain the same.

So which part of this hypothetical balloon will be Arsenal this weekend, and which part will be Tottenham?  Who will be the fistful of shrivelled, scrotal latex…and who will be the swollen, distended, bulla blister?

It’s not quite the same altitudinal high stakes that characterise the Chelsea v City game, I grant you, but it’s hard to deny there’s an equally compelling, morbid curiosity factor contained within such a fixture…and it’s hard to resist hoping the whole thing goes pop.

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