x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

Premier League best and worst: Change the record, Arsenal

Kevin Keegan a breath of fresh air and Rickie Lambert's fairy-tale week continues, writes Paul Radley.

Santi Cazorla, right, rifles in a volley against Aston Villa as Ron Vlaar, left, tries to close him down. The Arsenal midfielder could was introduced as a second-half substitute at Emirates Stadium on Saturday but could not stop the Gunners losing their opening game 3-1. Glyn Kirk / AFP
Santi Cazorla, right, rifles in a volley against Aston Villa as Ron Vlaar, left, tries to close him down. The Arsenal midfielder could was introduced as a second-half substitute at Emirates Stadium on Saturday but could not stop the Gunners losing their opening game 3-1. Glyn Kirk / AFP

Best romantic - Keegan

Modern football gives supporters plenty of scope for cynicism. Everything costs. Grossly inflated ticket prices and television packages serve to line the pockets of mercenary players who kiss the badge then kiss goodbye as soon as they get a better offer.

At Liverpool, for instance, the opening day of the new season seemed a mere sideshow to a soap opera involving a player who was not even close to playing.

Luis Suarez is not likely to play anytime soon either, with five matches still to run on a suspension sustained for biting another player.

As if that is not vulgar enough, he is currently in a lather because he is not being allowed a transfer.

Delightful, hey? But then Kevin Keegan starts speaking on Al Jazeera Sport television and you remember why you fell in love with football in the first place.

The former England manager looks pretty weather-worn these days. He could be forgiven for being a touch cynical about the game himself, given all the travails his management career has thrown at him.

Then, as the Kop were singing You'll Never Walk Alone ahead of the 1-0 win over Stoke City, he comes out with: "All my dreams are in that stadium." Bless.

Worst repetition - Arsenal

Was Saturday Groundhog Day? For Arsenal followers, it must have felt like it.

No prominent signings. Laurent Koscielny being sent off. General indiscipline. Celebrity supporter Piers Morgan rubbishing them on Twitter. Fans in the stands questioning whether the manager really does know what he is doing after all this time.

Did the past 12 months really happen? And then Manchester United cruise to victory at Swansea City, with Robin van Persie helping himself to a couple of corkers. Same, same. Nothing to see here.

Best week – Lambert

You can keep all your stroppy Suarezes and your moody Wayne Rooneys. Give us one Rickie Lambert any day of the week.

Back when he worked in a beetroot factory, Lambert might have wistfully day-dreamt of what it might be like to reach the top in football.

It might have gone something along the lines of scoring the winning goal at Wembley Stadium with your first touch in international football, against Scotland.

With the fairy tale duly complete, Lambert was back paying the bills on Saturday, netting another winner for Southampton from the penalty spot in the dying moments of their meeting with West Bromwich Albion.

 

pradley@thenational.ae