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and in last 10 games, we have to play Leeds (physically exhausting) Palace away (look what they did tonight), West Ham, Citeh, Arsenal, Leicester, Villa (Likely fully fit, certainly will have Grealish back I wager)

only 'easy' games are West Brom, BHA, and Fulham

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chelsea 3-1 arsenal 1-1 spurs 0-3

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The Fiver

Of all the pitchside ranters, Chris Wilder is undeniably our favourite


Bramall Lane. With a ‘Bashy’-shouting Chris Wilder out of frame.
camera.png Bramall Lane. With a ‘Bashy’-shouting Chris Wilder out of frame. Photograph: Tom Jenkins/The Guardian
Barry Glendenning

Barry Glendenning


Getting to eavesdrop on what exactly it is that managers and players yell at each other during top-flight matches is one of the very few benefits of football being played behind closed doors. Unsurprisingly, with no crowds present to drown out the on-field and pitchside pontifications, we get to hear a lot of effing and jeffing which TV commentators invariably feel compelled to apologise for, even though it’s not actually them turning the air blue. Beyond the profanity, it was intriguing to note that Mikel Arteta instructs his Arsenal players in a variety of languages but seems to have a Ukip-unfriendly preference for French, despite him hailing from Spain but being fluent in English since coming over here 10 years ago and taking someone else’s job.

It gets weirder. Last Sunday, Kasper Schmeichel spent 90 minutes repeatedly shouting “ATTITUDE!” at his Leicester teammates, for all the good it did them as they crumbled in the face of Arsenal’s attack. As fairly meaningless motivational buzz-words go, it’s up there with “PURPOSE!” And “UNCLOUDED!”, which The Fiver vaguely recalls being daubed on random walls in Big Paper Towers. Of course, government rules and regulations mean it’s been so long since we’ve set foot in the place we may have misremembered. It’s not entirely implausible we just imagined it during a recent fever dream and any dip [Dip! – Fiver Ed] in the quality of your favourite daily football email since we were forced to start working from home is entirely coincidental.

But out of all the pitchside ranters and ravers, Chris Wilder is undeniably our favourite. Having earned no end of plaudits for the overlapping centre-backs and other tactical flourishes which helped his newly-promoted side perform such heroics last season, it was fascinating to learn his favoured method of touchline motivation is to repeatedly roar “BASHY! BASHY! BASHY! BASHY! BASHY! BASHY! BASHY! BASHY! BASHY! BASHY! BASHY!” at Chris Basham. And while this innovative method of encouragement worked to devastating effect in the last campaign, it is now failing so spectacularly that Wilder has already accepted his team’s relegation is a formality. But even with “Bashy” currently sidelined with thigh-knack, Sheffield United’s manager would not be silenced before Wednesday’s match against Aston Villa and told reporters it’s not inconceivable he might walk away from his job.

“I don’t know,” wailed Wilder, upon being asked if he would stay in the event of relegation. “Head down and on to the Villa game. Then what will be will be. I want to stay, definitely, if we stick to the plan.” The plan being the building of a new training centre tout suite, as well as certain assurances that he will be allowed to strengthen his squad and not forced to sell the players who have got him into the current pickle. “The plan is to keep improving, to leave a legacy, to keep the players we’ve got and to add a couple,” he blurted. “I’m confident we can keep the group together.” Here’s hoping he can do exactly that and give his assault on securing an immediate return to the Premier League a decent bashy.


Join Simon Burnton from 4.45pm GMT for MBM coverage of Manchester City 4-1 Fiorentina, plus Paul Doyle at 7pm for Chelsea 2-0 Atlético Madrid in Women’s Big Cup, while Barry Glendenning will be on hand at 6pm for Burnley 1-1 Leicester in the Premier League, before Nick Ames takes in Crystal Palace 1-2 Manchester United.


“I think the thing that really allows you to stay well is an existential happiness. Feeling within yourself that you are a happy person for what you have done, what you are doing, what you are becoming. When I read a book or watch a film and take something from it, I feel better. If I gain some new understanding, that’s what makes me feel good” – Gigi Buffon, 74, gets philosophical in this top, top chat with Nicky Bandini.

Yes, Gigi.
camera.png Yes, Gigi. Photograph: Massimo Pinca/Reuters


“This recent story about 2030 World Cup hosts (yesterday’s Fiver) reminds me very much of the 1996 Olympic Games when, for the centenary of the modern Olympics, instead of choosing the logical and everybody’s favourite candidate, Athens, the IOC opted for Atlanta backed by some very rich sponsors. Modern day sports and romance, eh?” – Bogdan Kotarlic.

“Surely a UK-Ireland bid for the bragging rights in 2030 would mean that England, Wales, Scotland, Norn Iron and O’Ireland would all automatically qualify as hosts. Alternatively, shouldn’t Fifa insist on there being a UK team? Either way, solving this will make the Irish border protocol seem like a piece of cake” – Mike Jesnick.

Send your letters to [email protected]. And you can always tweet The Fiver via @guardian_sport. Today’s winner of our prizeless letter o’the day prize is … Bogdan Kotarlic.


The former Cardiff midfielder Peter Whittingham died after falling down stairs at a pub following a drunken “play fight” with friends, an inquest has been told.

A tribute to Peter Whittingham at Cardiff.
camera.png A tribute to Peter Whittingham at Cardiff. Photograph: Kieran McManus/BPI/Rex/Shutterstock

Australia are almost certain to play their World Cup qualifiers in June on foreign soil with authorities resigned to flamin’ quarantine restrictions making it impossible to host the games at home.

Mercurial former Yugoslavia midfielder Dragan Stojkovic is the new coach of Serbia. “I am fully aware of the magnitude of the task that lies ahead,” he declared. “But I am also confident in my ability and in the national team’s huge potential.”

Mick McCarthy has told Cardiff fans who are dreaming of promotion to put their champagne away. “If you lose it’s all doom and gloom and sack the manager,” he purred after the 4-0 thrashing of Derby. “Now we’re flying and we’re in the play-offs, we’re getting promoted. You won’t get me carried away with it.”

Pep Guardiola paid tribute to Riyad Mahrez’s mastery of gyration after Manchester City’s 9,999,999th consecutive win. “He is a guy who dances on the pitch,” whooped Pep after the 4-1 win over Wolves. “He’s a fantastic player.”

Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta has poured cold water all over Catalonian fluff linking him with the Barça job. “There is always going to be speculation when there are elections,” doused the mid-table manager. “Obviously I was raised there as a player … but I am fully focused on the job here.”

And Scotland boss Steve Clarke has poured cold Irn Bru all over fitba fluff linking him with the Queen’s Celtic job. “After the Euros I will go on a big holiday,“ he yelped, optimistically. “Hopefully I can take the team to the World Cup finals in Qatar in 2022.”


Newcastle + lack of goals x knack-crisis = an almighty battle to stay up, calculates Martin Laurence.

Could a trip to the Championship beckon on Tyneside?
camera.png Could a trip to the Championship beckon on Tyneside? Photograph: Alex Pantling/PA

The USA! USA!! USA!!!’s Reggie Cannon chews the fat with Will Unwin about life at Boavista and the “medieval” goings-on in the home of the brave.

What is the longest barren streak a club has endured at a rival’s ground? Gareth Keenan The Knowledge investigates.

Oh, and if it’s your thing … you can follow Big Website on Big Social FaceSpace. And INSTACHAT, TOO!


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12 hours ago, Vesper said:


It's not a stretch to say that Crystal Palace have a very old squad. 

And while their contracts aren't expiring this summer, players like Zaha turn 29 and Ayew 30 later this year. They could be in serious relegation trouble in the coming seasons. 

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The Telegraph

Wednesday March 3 2021

Matt Law's Chelsea briefing

Matt Law

Tuchel needs goals — the question is where they should come from

By Matt Law,
Football News Correspondent

Erling Haaland is the name on the lips of many Chelsea supporters as thoughts begin to turn to the summer transfer window.

Goals have been in short supply during Thomas Tuchel’s unbeaten start to life as the club’s head coach, so it is natural that Haaland should be a target.

But there is a growing argument that Chelsea lack any genuine guile or craft and it may well be that Tuchel needs to add an assist king to his squad.

Chelsea’s squad has plenty of pace and dynamism with the likes of Timo Werner, Mason Mount, Callum Hudson-Odoi, Reece James and Marcos Alonso, but where is the genuine passer?

Werner is top of Chelsea’s assists chart, having set up six goals, ahead of Mount and Kai Havertz on five.

Tuchel sees Havertz as a “hybrid” player between a number 10 and a nine, and it may well be that the German eventually evolves into a regular chance creator.

But the fact that Chelsea’s central midfielders of Jorginho, Mateo Kovacic and N’Golo Kante have managed just five assists between them this season points to a problem.

Jorginho is often too deep and looks sideways too often to make the most of his ability in possession, as his one assist proves. Hakim Ziyech was creating goals under Frank Lampard, but the Morocco international has not benefited from Tuchel’s change of formation and misplaced far too many passes against Manchester United.

It is not just the final ball for the striker that Chelsea have been lacking. A genuine passer could open up space for those on the flanks to create more opportunities with their pace and crossing ability.

It is interesting to rewind seven years, to 2014, when Chelsea were considering how best to try to replace the club’s record goalscorer Frank Lampard.

Former technical director Michael Emenalo knew it would be virtually impossible to find another midfielder who could guarantee the team 20-plus goals each season.

Samir Nasri, then at Manchester City, was considered and the Frenchman had shown, both at City and Arsenal, that he was capable of hitting double figures from an advanced midfield position.

But Emenalo and the manager at the time, Jose Mourinho, were in complete agreement that Cesc Fabregas was the man to go for, even though the Spaniard would not be expected to hit the back of the net.

Emenalo and Mourinho reasoned that the goals Fabregas would provide for others, such as Eden Hazard and Diego Costa, would compensate for the loss of Lampard and so it proved.

Fabregas finished his first season, in which Chelsea won the Premier League, with 24 assists in all competitions. And, two years later, when the club won the title again Under Antonio Conte, he managed 15 assists.

Conte had initially opted for the power of N’Golo Kante and Nemanja Matic in the centre of his midfield, but gradually realised that he could not do without the craft of Fabregas.

Chelsea may find themselves in a similar position now. The obvious solution to their problems appears to lie in signing a new striker who has the killer instinct to regularly score over 20 goals a season.

But, whether it be Haaland or anyone else, one has to presume that any striker Chelsea may sign this summer is not going to be able to create chances for himself.

Get in touch on Twitter @Matt_Law_DT or by emailing [email protected]

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4 minutes ago, ZAPHOD2319 said:

Spuds have too much going forward. Deli Alii heating up could mean Jose becomes more aggressive.  Spuds 1-0

Doubtful. He'll always opt for three holding/defensive midfielders. 

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I don't think that should be an own goal because it touched a defender. It was originally listed as a goal by Dali Alii and they changed it to own goal. 

Edited by ZAPHOD2319
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Sigh... header for Everton. It hurts to see us in 5th, now we move down unless West Brom can do something. We need to do something today!!

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15 minutes ago, Laylabelle said:

That disallowed goal..what a load of crap

Just saw it again and what an absolute travesty of a decision, that was no handball. Footy is not footy anymore

Edited by Atomiswave
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We are screwed either way. We fucked up in the first half of the season.

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21 minutes ago, Laylabelle said:

That disallowed goal..what a load of crap

Clearance smashed by Sancho three yards away. His arm is by his side, if it hits his hip, thigh any other part of him its a goal. Most stupid decision/rule ever

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