Wilfried Zaha and Luis Díaz both scored delightful goals at Anfield on Monday night, but that wasn’t the half of it for fans of aesthetic purity. That head-butt by Darwin Núñez was – and let’s put notions of the moral unacceptability of wanton uberviolence to one side – perfectly executed. A graceful spin followed by an unambiguous planting of the heed right into Joachim Andersen’s startled face, the crisp, clear connection registering a top mark of 11 on our patented Yosser Hughes-o-meter. The act would also score highly at a Highland Games, come to think of it, given Andersen crashed to the floor in the 12 o’clock position like a perfectly tossed caber.
Whether this sort of pub-car-park-infused carry-on will be embraced by the more milquetoast members of the newly popular Nobody Likes To See It But They Do movement, who recently coalesced around the lingering handshake between Thomas Tuchel and Antonio Conte, a brouhaha straight out of the quainter playground playbook, remains to be seen. We’re saying it’s fine to enjoy Nunez’s Begbiesque tendencies, and consume the pantomime fun in a relaxed state of High Amusement, but then The Fiver doesn’t have any kids, we neither think of them nor care. No skin in the game, you see. Same with the climate. Lovely weather we’ve been having. Stick that fan on full blast, will you?
Others will demur. Some online bampots took the whole situation so seriously that they sent abuse and death threats to Andersen, for the crime of doing nothing other than playing Liverpool’s record signing like a fiddle. “Have some respect and stop acting tough online,” countered the Palace defender, bossing the bedroom buffoons with similar ease. Thankfully, those inside the club have responded to their player’s meltdown with the requisite dignity. Virgil van Dijk has promised to “always back” his teammate, with the caveat that “he knows it should not happen again and hopefully it will be that way”, while Jürgen Klopp added that “he was provoked but that is not how he should behave. I will talk to him tomorrow”.
With Liverpool’s title bid having got off to a worryingly slow start, Manchester City and Arsenal already careering off into the distance, the Fiver would pay good money to witness Klopp handing out that particular piece of beneficial advice, which will presumably be delivered via the medium of the quiet seethe, the most volatile and potentially combustible of all the seethes. But as things stand, Núñez will be kept out of public sight, set to work on building his strength while missing home games against Bournemouth and Newcastle, as well as next Monday’s crisis-baton derby at Manchester United. That showdown remains an appointment to view despite Núñez’s absence; after all, nobody likes to see big clubs thrashing about at the bottom of the table, but etc.
QUOTE OF THE DAY
“You probably don’t want to know as much about Jack Grealish as you do, but you’re going to anyway, because you can’t get him out of your mind” – Megan Rapinoe and Ada Hegerberg sit down for a chin-wag on all things Euro 2022, women’s football and visibility in football.
“Is it me or have commentators become obsessed with spewing out endless stats throughout their commentaries? The radio ones are the main culprits, according to stats I just made up. Do we really need to know that this is only the third time ever that Manchester City have started a match at 5.30pm in a temperature of more than 25 degrees? I think not” – Dave Sage.
“At the time of writing, I’m being transported back to the mid-1990s, which I believe was the last time my team Blackburn Rovers were only one place below Manchester United. Not quite such happy times in 2022 but I know which of the two is happier at the moment” – John Myles.
“Two games in and Erik ten Hag has already thrown the entire United team under the bus. I would respectfully like to remind the Glazers, if they can’t remember it from Louis van Gaal’s tenure, that it’s translated as ‘doe éen’ in Dutch, should they wish to quickly repaint the exit door” – Gerry Rickard.
Send your letters to firstname.lastname@example.org. And you can always tweet The Fiver via @guardian_sport. Today’s winner of our prizeless letter o’ the day is … John Myles.
Handshakes and innocent football men … it’s the latest David Squires cartoon.
NEWS, BITS AND BOBS
Chippenham Town defender Pablo Martinez is recovering after collapsing during their National League South game against Chelmsford City. “He was given CPR and was also shocked with a defibrillator,” said Chippenham’s chairman Neil Blackmore. “Luckily, he came back straight away. While we don’t know exactly what’s gone on, and he’s got lots more tests to have, for a few seconds he did die on the pitch.”
Manchester United fans have been fighting the Glazers for nearly two decades now, the latest initiative a protest prior to next Monday’s inevitable embarrassment against Liverpool. “We will plant the 1958 flag at the trinity [statue] for those wanting to make a stand from 7.30pm,” said a statement from fan group, The 1958. “It’s crucial the momentum and pressure is maintained above all else. This is a war not a battle, dig yourselves in and be prepared for the long haul.”
Sunderland’s men’s and women’s teams will both take to the pitch on 27 August in the Stadium of Light’s first double-header.
Wesley Fofana wants out of Leicester and is keen on joining Chelsea, who could make him the world’s most expensive defender.
Meanwhile, Everton want more than Chelsea’s proffered £45m for Anthony Gordon, which makes us struggle to imagine how much they’d demand for Dominic Calvert-Lewin.
And you’ll be shocked to learn Wolves are signing a Portuguese star, in the £38m shape of Sporting midfielder Matheus Nunes.
STILL WANT MORE?
We’re not sure if you’ve heard, but the Premier League is 30 years old.
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