Samba’s return: Whenever I watch Christopher Samba (5.0) – which isn’t often; it’s not like I’ve been getting up early to see Anzhi Mackhachkala games – I always cast my mind back to his amazing career in the north of England. Like how, for a while, he was both Blackburn’s best defender and its best striker; how he and Sam Allardyce were just made for each other; and how his move to Russia was depressing not only because he’d been a genuinely brilliant defender in a league renowned for poor defending, but also because watching Christopher Samba sprint across the field to attack last-minute corners is a really fun way to spend Saturday mornings. Anyway, Samba’s QPR debut ended 0-0, and clean sheets are very valuable.
Welcome back, Wayne: Wayne Rooney (11.8) has scored three goals in his last two Premier League games, and Manchester United is nine points clear – home and dry, if you ask me. Meanwhile, Robin van Persie (14.1) hasn’t scored in ages. By which I mean two games.
Sturridge and Henderson and Gerrard: Steven Gerrard (9.5) read my column, sneered, and rocketed a 30-yard volley into the bottom corner, thereby silencing his critics, including me. Former Manchester City striker Daniel Sturridge (7.5) scored but didn’t celebrate, even though an uncomfortably high percentage of English stadiumgoers don’t know the meaning of the word “courtesy” – or, for that matter, of most polysyllabic words. Henderson (5.3) played well, too.
Andy Carroll maneuvered a ball from point A to point B, and point B turned out to be the back of the net, which surprised me, but good for him: During the nine weeks between West Ham’s trip to Manchester United and its 1-0 win over Swansea, Andy Carroll didn’t exist. Which isn’t to say that he wasn’t breathing or eating or enjoying all-night booze fests with Kevin Nolan (6.5), but rather that, in the world of English first division football, his existence had ceased to be relevant. Which felt kind of strange – for the last few years, Carroll’s been obnoxiously relevant, dumber and less ironically self-aware than Mario Balotelli, who, for the record, doesn’t like the way English people drive but thinks that the Premier League is the best in the world, bar none, and also that English food is rubbish, which it is. Now that Balotelli’s gone, maybe Carroll will take over as the league’s loudest unreliable goal scorer. We’ll see.