It was inevitable that coverage of Swansea’s game against Arsenal would descend into hyperbole about total football – but so what?
Swansea are a joy to watch, and the blueprint is there for every other aspiring club to follow: you don’t have to spend millions, you just have to stick to your principles and make shrewd decisions from the boardroom to the pitch.
Swansea will undoubtedly suffer along the way, and they will make errors that cost them goals because of a commitment to playing a passing game. But wouldn’t any fan rather see that than a clumsy centre-half smacking the ball aimlessly forward because he’s never been coached to think or do anything else?
Arsenal will rightly feel aggrieved that Swansea were given a foot-up from the penalty spot – Aaron Ramsay was clearly more sinned against than sinner – but aside from that it was interesting to see Arsenal beaten by a supposedly poor man’s imitation of themselves.
Their North London rivals missed the opportunity to put even more daylight between the two clubs ahead of next week’s derby, when they came unstuck at home to Wolves. A 1-1 draw isn’t a disaster to Spurs, but there are such fine margins at the top of the table that two points dropped from a relatively straightforward fixture might yet come back to haunt Harry Redknapp.
Manchester United made no such mistake, brushing aside a weak Bolton team in spite of Wayne Rooney’s latest failure from the spot. Paul Scholes completed a week of fairytale returns for players who shouldn’t be the short-term solution to top four clubs by opening the scoring.
Gary Cahill was all high-fives as he watched his soon-to-be team-mates make hard work of beating Sunderland. He’ll have seen nothing in David Luiz’s performance that will make him think he’ll have to wait too long to get his first start, as Chelsea somehow escaped with a clean sheet and all the points.
At the bottom of the table, the Blackburn pantomime took another twist with a victory the fans probably didn’t want – as daft as that sounds – but not much else changed. Wigan take on Manchester City tonight knowing a victory, however fanciful a notion that is, would take them outside the bottom three.
Mark Hughes’ return to management ended in defeat when Leon Best’s quick feet enabled him to score the only goal of a decidedly poor game between Newcastle and QPR.
QPR were toothless in attack but a look at the starting eleven shows where the real problem rests; the team is full of good, honest pros who would do very well in the Championship. They might yet get a chance to show as much, unless Tony Fernandes’ tweets evolve into top quality, Premiership standard players.