Another most unusual sporting week, with all my favourite teams continuing to win, and, of course, the fallout from Man City’s 6-1 thrashing of Man Utd.
At the Stoop yesterday Quins beat Exeter 19-13 in what was easily the toughest fight they’ve had this season. Exeter’s pack was immensely strong and they had a No13 who was Lomu-like in the way he blundered through the Quins defence a couple of times. Quins had to put up some heroic defence near the end, but just held on. The difference in the end was that Nev was successful with all his kicks. One try apiece. Most of the top players had had two weeks rest while the youngsters took over for the LV Cup. I wonder whether they were just a tad rusty.
I like the Exeter fans, in their Chief’s feathers and chanting to the bang of a drum. Their only problem away from home is that the chant is about nothing in particular and it scanned perfectly with “Har-le-quins”, so the home fans took it over! In the good-humoured way that rugby supporters do, beer in hand.
And the Hammers, 3-2 winners against managerless Leicester (who’d sacked Sven during the week for being one or two points off the play off positions in October!). On the ridiculously late BBC Football League highlights they looked worthy winners and a new star – Sam Baldock – is emerging. Two well-taken goals: he looks like the kind of goal-poacher that we’ve lacked for the last few years.
The Irons were also on Sky last Monday, away to Brighton, winning 1-0. I’m sure the Brighton fans felt aggrieved – they had much more of the play. But I liked the way that West Ham absorbed the pressure, took the goal and basically said, we are here for a routine win. Brighton had very few shots for all the possession they had. This is obviously the influence of Big Sam, and not in the West Ham traditional of porous defending at all. But I’ll take it!
Ah, winning ways! Good to see brittle Arsenal getting back their confidence too. While West Ham sojourn in the Championship, Arsenal are my Premier team – the family team, and always a joy to watch, even when they are falling apart. Yesterday at Chelsea, 5-3, what a performance! Who scores five at Stamford Bridge? (Apart from Chelsea). OK, it is probably only oil-moneyed Man City who will challenge the reds and the blues this season, but it’s good to see a shake up, a bit of unpredictability… and loads of goals in the most surprising places. And one can but dream of a transformed Arsenal slipping unnoticed into the top three and pouncing right at the end of the season. An unlikely fantasy, unless Arsene bites the bullet and buys some more quality defenders and Robin van Persie stays fit; but it’s only October – still time to dream.