FILL UP YOUR CUP WITH SOME FIZZY CUP FILLER
There are no Big Cup fixtures this week. No action either in Big Vase, or whatever that thing is that Spurs are in. There are no international qualifiers and no rescheduled Premier League matches, this week’s episodes of Succession and the Bake Off have been and gone, and the nights are fair drawing in so Granny Fiver won’t let us out to the swings. There’s not much to do, dear reader, so, and you won’t hear us saying this sort of thing very often, thank goodness for the League Cup! Yep! You heard us. Aye.
A traditionalist to its marrow, The Fiver has always loved this grand-ish old-ish competition, and none of its myriad dignity-stripping associations with Fizzy Pop, Fizzy Beer, Rumbelows, Littlewoods, Woolies, Timothy Whites, Bejam, MacFisheries, Milk, Eggs, Bacon, Lard, Breakfast Ale or Players No6 have ever lessened our excitement when League Cup week comes round. Even last night’s meagre fare – the only highlight in three matches being Eddie Nketiah’s bid for internet immortality as he sliced the ball with his shin one yard from an open goal, only for it to roll across the line and apologetically into the far corner, a very unsatisfactory denouement in pure slapstick terms – hasn’t quelled our desire for ever more sensational sparkling soccer. More please, Fizzy Cup!
And indeed the bubbles keep rising thick and fast. The reigning champions Manchester City travel to West Ham, conquerors of Manchester United, who, knowing what we know now, bought Ole Gunnar Solskjær at least three more days by getting themselves knocked out in the last round. Burnley and Spurs replay the 1962 FA Cup final; Preston and Liverpool contest the Bill Shankly derby; Leicester host Brighton in what was a third-division fixture just 11 years ago; and 1935-36’s fourth-best team in the country, Stoke, welcome Brentford, who finished just one place below them that year in the First Division. Yes, we’re pretty sure these are the prisms through which most people will be viewing this particular set of fixtures, and why not, with plenty of scores to be settled there. Our Fizzy Cup runneth over! Hic.
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QUOTE OF THE DAY
“I’m a footballer and I’m proud to be gay” – Adelaide United’s Josh Cavallo becomes the only known current male top-flight professional footballer in the world to come out as gay.
“With rumours still flying around Old Trafford I really do think they should seriously consider Steve Bruce. I know he’s getting on a bit but he’s got to be better than the current centre-backs (terrific turn of pace, too – Fiver Ed)” – John Myles.
“Alex Ferguson and Martin Edwards turned up at Carrington? Will we see a new midfield on Saturday? Ferguson, Van de Beek and Edwards ? No, that’s silly, Van de Beek has no chance” – Martin Reece.
“Given the grovelling press David Moyes has been getting recently you’d think he was the second-coming of Brian Clough or José Mourinho, the old Special One not the current dysfunctional one. As an experiment why don’t the Hammers and Man Utd switch Moyes for Ole? It would give us a return visit to Moyes so carefully tucking his note-to-self Sharpie into his United blazer, while Ole would be under no undue pressure to succeed – and we just might find out that one is overrated and the other underrated” – Hanford Woods.
“Thanks for doing an article on stats and commentators (yesterday’s Still Want More?), just the excuse I needed to highlight another commentary irritant. Although vast amounts of stats exist it does not mean they must be used. Telling me that the goal I have just witnessed is the first that player has scored with his left foot in three years and that he’ll enjoy the celebration because it’s his birthday may well be interesting details but if I am hearing them as the net is still rippling it seems irrelevant. Perhaps I should turn the volume down” – Liam Stevens.
“Once again The Fiver purposely provokes the pedants: Donald Gennaro … blah blah blah … T-Rex … blah blah blah … not velociraptors … blah blah blah. Is provocation of the dino-pedants better or worse than the provocation of grammar pedants?” – Ian Sherman (and no other dino-pedants).
Send your letters to firstname.lastname@example.org. And you can always tweet The Fiver via @guardian_sport. Today’s winner of our letter o’ the day is … John Myles, who wins a copy of John Nicholson’s excellent Was Football Better in the Old Days?
NEWS, BITS AND BOBS
Ole stays! For now at least. Next up for Manchester United? Tottenham. Atalanta. Manchester City. Ah.
Fifpro and European Leagues have called for complete reform of governance to prevent the recurring threat of a €uropean $uper £eague.
Latvia 0-10 England. “It’s a night I [and presumably most of the Latvia team] will never forget,” honked hat-trick ‘hero’ Ella Toone. Meanwhile, Estonia put up a bit more fight in losing 4-0 to Wales.
Aston Villa’s Matty Cash is now a Polish citizen and expects to be Robert Lewandowski’s teammate very soon.
“We didn’t want our first win to be away anyway.” Rob McElhenney, one half of Wrexham’s Hollywood ownership team, reflects on his first experience of live National League football, having flown in with Ryan Reynolds to watch the 3-2 loss against 10-man Maidenhead at York Road. Next up: Torquay at home. Oh, the glamour.
And Kepa Arrizabalaga has channelled the Baywatch theme tune in declaring he “will be ready” to step up for Chelsea if his fellow goalkeeper Édouard Mendy represents Senegal at the Africa Cup of Nations in January.
STILL WANT MORE?
Richard Gough has written this touching tribute to Walter Smith, whom he for played at Dundee United, Everton and Rangers. “He was a second father … he could handle himself in any dressing room and got total respect from every player.”
Ole is on the ropes but not yet out for the count. Here’s a survival guide for Solskjær, courtesy of Jamie Jackson.
This week’s Knowledge: have the outfield players of a team ever had to wear goalkeeper kits?
Patson Daka looks like the Jamie Vardy replacement Leicester need, writes Ben McAleer. Just don’t tell him about the Red Bull.
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