The Circus has learned an awful lot about a football club based on how its players spend their days off.
Nureyev, Baryshnikov and Szczesny
The Circus has learned a lot about a football club from how their players spend their days off.
For instance, fireworks, darts and champagne-fuelled liaisons with ladies of the night are not ideal preparation for the rigours of first team football. Just ask Mario Balotelli and Roberto Mancini how that works out.
Similarly, smoking shisha pipes can't be good for the lungs, although QPR's Adel Taarabt escaped major censure for his recent post-match puff. It didn't help him against Manchester United, though. No doubt Rangers boss Mark Hughes and his City counterpart Mancini would prefer their wayward stars took up more a more noble form of recreation. Like knitting, or ballet.
Judging by the weekend's results, the Gunners' quartet of Wojciech Szczesny, Alex Song, Bacary Sagna and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain might be on to something.
But the Circus can only wonder what Martin Keown, who features in a fleeting cameo, was thinking through the whole episode. The vision of the ex-Arsenal defender and his grizzled colleagues Nigel Winterbottom and Tony Adams in tights is almost too much to bear.
Referees, what a great bunch
The Circus can't quite understand all the recent scorn that has been directed at referees and their assistants. This week, they have clearly outlined what is acceptable behaviour on the pitch and what is not.
A studs-up challenge that connects with an opponent's knee and almost breaks a leg is fine and not worthy of a card. See Mario Balotelli's challenge on Alex Song.
Players who rest their hands on opponents and force them to completely lose balance, as though they have been hit by a Mack truck, simply must be eradicated from the game.
Even if the player in question was a mile off side in the first place. The only way to stamp out this outrageous behaviour is to send off the offender, even if it was not a direct goal-scoring opportunity.
Fortunately, Patrick Vieira backed away from his assertion that Manchester United get preferential treatment at Old Trafford. He would have risked looking terribly ridiculous after this weekend's round of matches.
By the numbers
10 - Papiss Demba Cisse's tally of Premier League goals in 2011-12
9 - games played by the Newcastle striker
68 - Cisse's strike rate in minutes per goal. The best in EPL history
5 - Michael Owen's tally of Premier League goals in three seasons at Manchester United
187 - Owen's strike rate in minutes per goal at Manchester United
The spoken word
"The key thing from my point of view is you have to be 100 per cent right to give the decisions and at the moment I think people are guessing and hoping that they get decisions correct. I think that was the case today. You should have confidence that the referees are going to make the key decisions in the game and, just lately, I think a lot of managers have lost faith in them."
- Former Manchester City manager Mark Hughes joins the growing chorus of discontent after Manchester United's Ashley Young was rewarded with a penalty for a blatant dive against QPR.
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