Gareth Bale is too good for the Premier League: I don’t know which is the greater tragedy: that Bale has played only one season of Champions League football, or that he’s Welsh, and therefore will never play in a World Cup or European Championship.
Michu scores twice: What’s interesting about Michu (8.4) isn’t that Swansea’s “daring” scouts knew he existed – he was, after all, La Liga’s most prolific midfielder last season – but rather that he’s made an amazingly smooth transition from tippy-tappy Spain to rough ‘n’ tumble England. Maybe that tells us something important about the whole A Wet Night In Stoke paradigm – like how it’s up there with Sian Massey Can’t Ref on the list of stupid things Andy Gray said before it turned out he was a misogynistic pig.
Marko Marin scores his first Premier League goal (hurray!): Marko Marin (6.7) wouldn’t look out of place in Middle Earth, but that’s not to say he’s an incompetent footballer – or even that he’s a run-of-the-mill, below-average footballer, some lazy nobody who makes a lot of money but can’t be bothered to play (Wayne Bridge is the archetype here). Marin is very talented – German international, speedy youngster, serial occupier of “that yard of space” – and the fact that Chelsea’s management have treated him like dirt is just another symptom of the tornado of Russian fury that is Stamford Bridge in the post-Mourinho era. Well, this is the same tornado that signed Marin from Werder Bremen back when Eden Hazard’s Twitter account was leaning toward Manchester City, so he must have known what he was in for.
Arsenal grinds out the kind of win that Arsenal never grinds out: Santi Cazorla’s (9.3) goal pushed Arsenal to a gritty 1-0 win over Sunderland, a team whose inconsistency is starting to make Martin O’Neill look like something that just walked out of Avram Grant’s crypt. That’s why I sold Steven Fletcher (7.2).
Aston Villa wins a game: The last time Villa won a Premier League home game (November), half of Paul Lambert’s lineup hadn’t even been born. I’m serious. Alan Hansen is just as asinine as all the other BBC pundits, but there is something to be said for a calm, steadying influence in the dressing room – for someone confident enough to remind Darren Bent (7.8) exactly where he ranks relative to Harry Redknapp’s missus, and yet clever enough to teach Ashley Westwood (4.9) how to defend properly. That would mean teaching him to direct the ball away from goal. Yes, Gareth Barry (5.3), you can listen, too.