NO COVID RULES WERE BROKEN IN THE WRITING OF THIS FIVER
Please excuse the Fiver for being particularly bleary eyed and low rent today. Up late last night, you see. Granny Fiver threw an impromptu business meeting, with cheese and wine and parlour games and Secret Santa and all that, so everyone could watch the first session of the Ashes together. But then Rory Burns hamster-danced himself out first ball, so The Fiver chugged back its glass, made its excuses and left. A bit of a bust, all told, and absolutely no ministers or lobby journalists were in attendance.
Thank goodness, then, that The Fiver got its sporting kicks earlier in the evening. There was some proper hot Big Cup action on Tuesday night, with Nat Phillips providing the signature moment of the entire tournament so far, Cruyff turning his way out of trouble in his own box, sending Zlatan Ibrahimovic off for a copy of La Gazzetta dello Sport and 20 MS Filtro. San Siro hasn’t witnessed such defensive elegance since the days of Franco Baresi, and the trick has almost certainly guaranteed Liverpool’s fifth-choice centre-back a £108m move to Newcastle in January, you see if we’re wrong about that.
Kyle Walker provided his own moment of simple wonder during Manchester City’s non-event with Leipzig, hoofing an opponent up the jacksie in the silent-movie style for absolutely no reason whatsoever, though Pep Guardiola will be delighted that his first-choice right back will be fully rested for the quarter-finals. But even that act of brazen hoodlummery paled into insignificance when compared to Atlético Madrid’s Matheus Cunha ludicrously crashing to the ground upon being gently brushed by Porto defender Wendell and sparking a stylish bench-emptying 42-man touchline stramash, a magnificent comic-book cloud that had fists and boots poking out of it, and Pepe and Diego Simeone diplomatically bobbing around in the middle. A completely unnecessary brouhaha, and the kind of feelgood romp we all need in these straitened times. The evening was inevitably all downhill from there.
LIVE ON BIG WEBSITE!
Join Niall McVeigh from 5.45pm GMT for hot Big Cup MBM coverage of Zenit 1-2 Chelsea, before Chelsea beat Juventus 2-0 at 8pm in Women’s Big Cup, with Simon Burnton. Scott Murray will also be on hand for Manchester United 2-0 Young Boys at 8pm.
QUOTE OF THE DAY
“Pinch me – yes, it is a dream. These are the games you want to play in. To get to play them at such an amazing stadium? Yeah, so cool. A dream would probably be an understatement” – Lotte Wubben-Moy gets her chat on with Suzy Wrack, alongside teammate Anna Patten, about the prospect of Arsenal playing Barcelona in Women’s Big Cup at the Emirates.
“Re: Ralf Rangnick headlines (yesterday’s Fiver letters). What if Manchester United were to make enquiries about Burnley’s goalkeeper, Nick Pope, only to be rebuffed? ‘Rangnick rang Nick (but Nick never rang him back)’?” – Paul Southgate.
“Re: football names that could be places to visit (Fiver letters passim). Back in the day we went to see the Terracotta Warriors at the Kremlin Museum, they were on a world tour. Friend of a friend on hearing this opined that he didn’t know their stuff and could he borrow a CD” – Geoff Saunders.
“I didn’t just mention my thought of Dewsbury-Hall sounding like a northern tourist attraction to The Fiver (Monday’s Fiver). I also spoke to a friend about it, who told me he’d always thought Trent Alexander-Arnold sounded like a firm of accountants from the West Midlands” – Daniel Kennedy.
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 … Geoff Saunders, who bags a revised and updated version of Richard Foster’s Premier League Nuggets. We’ll give a copy away every day this week, and it is available to buy here.
NEWS, BITS AND BOBS
Pelé is in hospital to undergo treatment for a colon tumour, with São Paulo’s Hospital Albert Einstein saying the Brazil legend is in a stable condition and will hopefully be discharged in the coming days.
Tottenham manager Antonio Conte has confirmed eight players and five members of staff have tested positive for coronavirus following an outbreak at the club. “To speak about football today is impossible,” he said. “The last situation made me very upset. The situation is serious. There is a big infection.”
Southend United are back in the news, but unfortunately it’s because the National League have placed a transfer embargo on them in relation to unpaid debts.
David Moyes plans to go wild in the aisles come January in a bid to fix West Ham’s knack crisis. “We have been looking to add to the forward players,” he sighed. “We tried in the summer for a forward but there was nothing. Now we have to consider looking for a defender if possible.”
Udinese have given head coach Luca Gotti the boot after one win in their last 13 Serie A games. “The most profound thanks go to the coach for our years together,” tooted the club. “[We wish] Gotti the best professional fortune the rest of his career.”
And Buxton United striker Diego De Girolamo – who was interviewed here before their FA Cup exit last weekend – faces a lengthy spell out after breaking his arm while getting out of his car.
STILL WANT MORE?
Our rundown of the best female footballers in the world for 2021 continues, now from Nos 100 to 41.
What is the earliest goal scored in a match that finished 1-0? The Knowledge knows.
Ben McAleer browses through the Newcastle transfer catalogue Premier League players who could do with a January move.
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