“One 11 has to be David Webb, a Chelsea legend who played virtually every position in his time there, including goalkeeper,” says David Pearce. “He wore all the shirts from 1 to 12, which meant something positionally in those days, except for 11.”
Same with Johnny Carey, who played I think nine different positions at Man Utd, including goalkeeper, and captained the team to the FA Cup in 1948 and the Championship in 1952.
“KDB is on to something IMO,” writes Tom Atkins. “Vieira very rarely appeared in the center Arsenal. He knew the position and was a better finisher (especially in one-on-one situations) than he was given credit for. The only drawback is that by the end of the game, only six or seven people will remain on the field.”
De Bruyne also said he would rather win the World Cup with Belgium than the Champions League with City, which I suppose makes sense – the former would make him immortal in his homeland.
Gianluca Scamacca seems to be settling in well at West Ham. He leads the line again, with Lucas Paqueta roaming behind him. Paqueta, like Newcastle’s Bruno Guimaraes, is a stark example of the Premier League’s unhealthy financial dominance of football – players leaving Lyon and not moving to clubs in either the Champions League or the Europa League should make us feel a little nausea – and we should notice it, even if we use them weekly.
Elsewhere, Man United lead Brighton 4-0.
“Glenn Hoddle was the stand-in keeper – or next in line – at the 1982 World Cup if I remember correctly,” tweets @TheStellaRossa. “Shilton was fine but both Ray Clemens and Joe Corrigan were injured during the tournament. If anything happened to Schiltz, the goalie was the big G!”
I was three years old in 1982, so I don’t remember it – my debut was in 1986 – but it still hurts me that it didn’t happen.
“This Brazilian center back named Gabriel,” writes Charles Antaki, “it’s an improvement on Arsenal’s previous Brazilian centre-back named Gabriel (quietly shown the exit door five years ago); so we’re on a trajectory where Arsenal’s next Brazilian centre-back named Gabriel is going to be a world beater.”
I forgot about him – although I had to mention that at 24, the current Gabriel has time to raise his level.
Kieran Tierney might be wondering what’s going on this afternoon. Last weekend, Arteta used Tomiasa on the wrong side – his side – at left-back, which I assumed was to allow Mohamed Salah to come inside on his strong foot. But Sinisterra is unlikely to claim the same provision, suggesting Tierney could now be third choice.
Here she is with us Major league Cute XI:
Chelsea players have ‘Get well soon Emma’ printed on the back of their training shirts as a message to the women’s team manager who is on sick leave. We repeat it – Hayes is a hero.
“So why not say Manchester and Newcastle then?” Mike Daniels asks. “Why insist that Manchester be United?”
Er, because there is another team – also playing today – that has Manchester as their name, not another team that uses Newcastle. It’s not deep, I promise.
“Good afternoon Daniel, good afternoon everyone from Cloudy Lewis,” Em Jackson begins. “In this Man United v Newcastle United game, I would go for a hybrid player, a United United player if you like: 50% Roy Keane and 50% Alan Shearer. They would give their side 110% against the opposition and 120% in the battles between themselves. Otherwise I’d go with Nicky Butt.’
Meanwhile, Keith Priddle wonders: “What about Harry Kane, striker, midfielder and goalkeeper. Or Glenn Hoddle can do the same and put on the gloves in extremes!”
Indeed, here he is putting on the gloves … and keeping a clean sheet at Old Trafford.
I just noticed that Carney Chuwumeka is on the bench for Chelsea against his old club. I really like what I’ve seen from him and I’d like to see him take the field today for a proper stretch. Otherwise, this side looks a little odd – Gerrard will find his team outnumbered by Loftus-Cheek and Kovacic in central midfield, while Mount isn’t the best on the right.
Back ArsenalI said I was worried about their four backs, and I was. I think they’re all decent players, and Ben White in particular is doing a great job at right-back, considering he’s not one. But rarely does anyone win a title without top defenders and I think Gabriel is a bit wild.
Speaking of Coby Maina — and mind you, I don’t say this lightly — this is the GREATEST calling a player by name ever.
Notice to the public: I know Manchester and Newcastle have the same last name. But we’re covering four matches here at the same time, so please forgive me if I call one United and the other Newcastle, nothing personal.
“He could play left-back, right-back, score goals, knew how to defend, never been injured, great guy in the dressing room. “For me, Denis would be world class x11,” says Alex Newcombe of Roy Keane’s roommate, Mr. Irvine.
Ok, let’s take a look at what these commands mean:
Steven Gerrard once again struggles to find an XI that works, combining Philippe Coutinho and Amy Buendia with Danny Ings, that famous left winger, and Leon Bailey, while Graham Potter brings in Kai Havertz, Marco Cucurella and Ruben Loftus-Cheek for Kalidou Koulibaly, Jorginho and the seriously injured Rhys James.
Leeds bring in Luis Sinister, back from suspension, and he replaces Patrick Bamford; Arsenal unchanged.
Manchester United are without Christian Eriksen and Scott McTominay, so Fred, who started in midweek, is back in midfield with Casemiro and Bruno Fernandes. In defence, Raphael Varane is thought to be ready to reclaim Victor Lindelof’s place, while in attack it is Jadon Sancho over Marcus Rashford and Ronaldo over Anthony Martial. Also worth noting is the presence of local boy Kobi Mainu on the bench – he looks a ridiculous talent, a versatile midfielder with excellent balance, skill and a powerful pass. As for Newcastle, Eddie Howe brings on Joelinton in place of Jovilac.
At St Mary’s, Southampton will bring in Ainsley Maitland-Niles and Mohamed Elyounoussi in place of Ibrahim Diallo and Stuart Armstrong, while West Ham will field Ben Johnson, Vladimir Kufal and Emerson in place of Craig Dawson, Kurt Zouma and Pablo Fornals.
Kevin de Bruyne has just been asked on Sky which player he would pick if he had to pick the same XI. He said Patrick Vieira – I don’t know why, because as amazing as he was, he was a specialist in midfield. Now, if you don’t ask, I’d choose between Steven Gerrard and Wayne Rooney, but I’m leaning towards the latter because he’s a decent goalkeeper. Feel free to tell me why I’m wrong.
Aston Villa: Martinez, Cash, Konza, Mings, Luiz, McGinn, Ings, Watkins, Young, Bailey, Ramsey. Subscriptions: Olsen, Sanson, Buendia, Chambers, Nakamba, Bednarek, Coutinho, Dendoncker, Bogard.
Chelsea: Kepa, Chalobah, Silva, Cucurella, Mount, Kovacic, Loftus-Cheek, Chilwell, Havertz, Aubameyang, Sterling. Subscriptions: Mendy, Jorginho, Pulisic, Broia, Zakaria, Gallagher, Koulibaly, Azpilicueta, Chukwuemeka.
Leeds United: Messier; Christensen, Koch, Cooper, Struyk; Rocco, Adams; Aaronson, Rodrigo, Harrison; Sinisterra. Subscriptions: Claesson, Ayling, Firpa, Bamford, Summerville, Llorente, Gelhardt, Greenwood, Klich.
Arsenal: Ramsdale; White, Saliba, Gabriel, Tomiasu; Partey, Xhaka, Odegaard; Sacco, Jesus, Martinelli. Subscriptions: Turner, Tierney, Nketiah, Holding, Cedric, Vieira, Lakonga, Nelson, Marquinhas
Manchester United: De Gea, Dalot, Varane, Martinez, Shaw, Fred, Casemiro, Sancho, Anthony, Fernandez, Ronaldo. Subscriptions: Heaton, Lindelof, Rashford, Malacia, Pellistri, Elango, Garnacho, Iqbal, Mainu.
Newcastle United: Pope, Trippier, Brun, Botman, Schar, Longstaff, Joelinton, Guimaraes, Murphy, Almiron, Wilson. Subscriptions: Karius, Lascelles, Shelvey, Lewis, Target, Wood, Fraser, Willock, Anderson.
Southampton: Bazounou, Walker-Peters, Bello-Kotchap, Salisu, Perrault, Maitland-Niles, Ward-Prowse, Elyunousi, Arriba, A. Armstrong, Adams. Subscriptions: McCarthy, Lyanka, Coletta-Carr, S. Armstrong, Mara, Genepa, Edazi, Diallo, Larios.
West Ham: Fabianski, Kufal, Johnson, Kerrer, Emerson, Cresswell, Suchek, Rice, Bowen, Paquette, Scamacca. Subscriptions: Areola, Randolph, Fornals, Antonio, Lanzini, Downs, Ogbonna, Benrahma, Coventry.
“You’ve done your roadwork, you better keep your left hand up” are immortal words for those old enough to remember the days when breakfast was the most important meal of the day, rather than something best avoided by all sane members of society, and if our halves of football TV weren’t filled with messages from our favorite altruistic “behing caaaantny”. However, this early-day slot contains a selection of games that are very, very tasty, so let’s skip that painful transition and dive right in.
Leeds entertain at Elland Road Arsenal, the league leaders have made it three wins in a row since the defeat, playing quite well at Old Trafford. Their defense still looks a little dull – perhaps too dull for serious title contention – but on the other hand, if Mikel Arteta’s side have found an attacking style reliable enough to beat anyone they have to beat twice, you never don’t know
Meanwhile, we should see a win in the aforementioned match – his first league game in six weeks. Manchester United nowhere near as good as they could be, but making noticeable progress and Fergie’s winner on Thursday night won’t do them any harm. However, Newcastle United are in excellent form and their tenacity and inventiveness look a decent match for a team still trying to get to grips with a new way of doing things.
As if that wasn’t enough, old friends Steven Gerrard and Chelsea are coming under intense pressure with Villa first. It seems unlikely that his board will suffer too many handier reversals, and while Chelsea have serious injury problems, the in-form players have settled in well under Graham Potter.
Finally, West Ham, who have taken time to get their season going, visit Southampton, who have lost four in a row but looked serious relegation candidates.
That means there’s a lot of loading going on, so stick with me as we watch it all unfold.
Start: 14:00 BST