Nonentities more exercised by manners than kids with empty bellies

Scott Murray
<span>Photograph: Franck Fife/AFP/Getty Images</span>
Photograph: Franck Fife/AFP/Getty Images

O’RANGERS GO TO STANDARD LIÈGE. AND ELSEWHERE …

It’s been a productive week for the Premier League’s representatives in Europe. Sergio Agüero became only the 14th person since football was invented in 1992 to reach the 40-goal mark in Big Cup. Chelsea and Liverpool rediscovered the thrill of basic competence, both keeping a clean sheet for the first time in living memory, a strange yet pleasant sensation. And after dressing up as a dazzle ship and performing some orchestral Man U-vres in the Parc, Marcus Rashford ambled back home and set about effortlessly exposing the government as a shower of soulless two-bit nonentities more exercised by manners than kiddies with empty bellies. That MBE isn’t going to buy him off, is it. The Man’s misread this guy big time.

A lot then for our representatives in Big Vase to live up to. Arsenal travel to Rapid Vienna for one of the evening’s unnecessarily early kick-offs, and they plan to give their box-fresh midfielder Thomas Partey his first start since joining from Atlético Madrid. The Fiver wishes the Ghana international all the success in the world, albeit in the form of unobtrusive performances that fly below the radar and don’t give anyone the chance to pen headlines about him, because we’re already sick to the back teeth of those puns. That’s probably too much to ask, to be fair, but this is where we are with it.

Related: José Mourinho insists his team are not ‘Spursy’ before fresh Europa League tilt

Mikel Arteta says that Arsenal’s “aim is to win it”, an ambition that ranks one step above José Mourinho’s “we’re going to try” and miles clear of Brendan Rodgers’ frankly timid “the first job is to get out of the group stage”. To be fair to the Leicester boss, he would sound slightly ridiculous talking his chances up too much, boasting a record in European competition with Liverpool and the Queen’s Celtic that would make Basingstoke Town look like Real Madrid. But we expected more of José, who has a 100% record in Big Vase, winning the trophy at Porto and Manchester United on his only two attempts.

Regardless, both Spurs and Leicester should get off to good starts against Lask and Zorya Luhansk respectively, and The Fiver wishes all English representatives the best of luck. We’ll not be watching, though, instead tuning into the glamour clash between the Queen’s Celtic and Milan to find out why everyone’s going to be mad with Neil Lennon on Friday.

LIVE ON BIG WEBSITE

Join Ben Fisher from 5.55pm BST, followed by Daniel Harris at 8pm, for hot Big Vase clockwatch coverage.

QUOTE OF THE DAY

“Our respect goes to those who made the ultimate sacrifice. After initial consultation with supporter group representatives it was agreed that this year the club should recognise the 80th anniversary of the Battle of Britain” – Hartlepool United suit Martin Jesper on the club’s new RAF-inspired Remembrance kit.

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Football Weekly Extra is right here, right now.

FIVER LETTERS

“Pleased as I am to see Real Madrid go down at home to Shakhtar Donetsk, it only makes me think that, in a parallel universe where we had a proper European Cup, Madrid would now have to travel for a second leg, and win by two clear goals, in the Ukraine, in November. Or they’d be out. And not just out, but ‘by the way lads, if you do want to come back next year, go and win your league’ out. That’d be a European Cup. But we’ve not got that. What we’ve got is a football-themed advertising break with a silly bloody theme song” – Jon Millard.

“Further to John Scent on watching games from hospitality, but not the stands, at Norwich (yesterday’s Fiver letters), I have a mate who is a Bristol City fan. They had exactly the same offer, to buy hospitality and watch the game on TV indoors at the ground, while the game went on just outside with no fans. Apparently the theory is that the noise and cheering from the executive suite will waft outside and help the home team out on pitch. Whoever dreamed this up obviously hasn’t asked Roy Keane’s opinion on the footballing interests of those said prawn sandwich munchers” – Adrian Bradshaw.

Send your letters to the.boss@theguardian.com. And you can always tweet The Fiver via @guardian_sport. Today’s winner of our prizeless letter o’the day is … Jon Millard.

NEWS, BITS AND BOBS

Spanish newspaper ABC has issued a non-apology apology to Barcelona’s Ansu Fati after Salvador Sostres’ match report of their win over Ferencvaros compared his pace to that of a “black street vendor fleeing the police”. Reports suggest Barça are planning to take legal action.

Everton boss Carlo Ancelotti reckons it’s a bit much to claim that Jordan Pickford’s reckless knacking of Virgil van Dijk was pre-meditated. “To be clear, we are really sorry for the [knack] of Virgil van Dijk,” he tooted. “Jordan arrived a little bit later but his intention was to try to reach the ball. It was not to hurt Virgil van Dijk.”

Zinedine Zidane is trying to piece together how Real Madrid lost 3-2 at home to a Shakhtar Donetsk side missing 10 players due to coronavirus. “I’m left with a very bad feeling because of everything that happened,” he sighed. “It’s a bad game, a bad night but I’m the coach and I’m the one who has to find solutions.”

Fifa’s Gianni Infantino says he’s got bigger fish to fry than a proposed European Premier League.” I’m interested in the Club World Cup, not the Super League,” he sniffed. “For me, it’s not about Bayern Munich against Liverpool, but Bayern against Boca Juniors.”

And Crawley Town boss John Yems, who loves a bit of post-match chat, has been charged by the FA for comments he made about the match officials after their League Two loss to Cheltenham.

STILL WANT MORE?

Paul Doyle on crowd-free football, and why being able to listen to Frank Lampard’s Chelsea manager Frank Lampard effing and jeffing, or Jürgen Klopp shouting “Routine No 12” at a corner is actually quite interesting.

Ed Aarons on Joe Gomez trying to fill the considerable boots of Virgil van Dijk.

Suzanne Wrack talks to Carly Telford, and why, at 33, the Chelsea player feels she is “officially the grandma of the group”.

Carly Telford with England this week. Not sure what it would make The Fiver, alarmingly.
Carly Telford with England this week. Not sure what it would make The Fiver, alarmingly. Photograph: Lynne Cameron for The FA/Rex/Shutterstock

This week, Classic YouTube features “The George Best match”, an Arsène Wenger love-in and Bruce Grobbelaar giving Steve McManaman a good going-over.

Oh, and if it’s your thing … you can follow Big Website on Big Social FaceSpace. And INSTACHAT, TOO!

SERIOUSLY, WHAT IS UP WITH THAT BACKGROUND MAP?