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Neil Adkins

DIAL R FOR RELEGATION – Picture courtesy of http://www.elrooneyoillustrations.tumblr.com

This post has an accompanying soundtrack. Please click here before you read if you wish to hear it (a youtube video will open in a new window/tab).

Fear. Life is full of it. Spine-tingling, gut-twisting, pant-soiling terror lurks around every corner just waiting to pounce. Everybody on the planet is scared of something, be it spiders, heights or Iain Dowie. However, here in the afterlife there’s nothing for us ethereal spirits to fear. You would be forgiven for thinking that this might be a desirable state of being, but you would be wrong. It is in fact terribly boring. What we would give to feel a thrill of bottom-quaking horror at the sight of Lee Cattermole thundering toward us. However, the closest thing we get to fear in Football’s Valhalla is seeing Robbie Savage’s horrendous outfits on Football Focus.

So imagine our jealousy as the sporting spectres at In Off the Ghost tuned in to Match of the Day on Saturday night to see fear flooding the eyes of the Southampton back four as they were mercilessly violated time and again by Arsenal during their 6-1 defeat at the Emirates Stadium. The bludgeoning bestowed upon Nigel Adkins’s perky early season optimism was so brutal, the highlights should’ve been given an 18 certificate.

So in the interest of providing an alternative to the insipid analysis offered up by the Match of the Day stiffs (punditry so dull it makes us look back on our death throws with misty eyed nostalgia) we sought the views of a pundit who is something of an expert on fear and excessive violence. A cold welcome to fear-peddler and director of classic horror films Psycho, Dial M for Murder and The BirdsAlfred Hitchcock!

Alfred Hitchcock

Hitchcock – A hit with the birds.

“Seeing one team murder another on television like Arsenal did Southampton this week can help work off one’s antagonisms” started Hitchcock, his ethereal presence still managing to cast his famous rotund silhouette, “and in the case of Match of the Day, if you haven’t any antagonisms already, Alan Shearer’s post match ‘punditry’ will surely give you some.

“When I was making my thrillers, I wanted to give the audience pleasure, but the same kind of pleasure they have when they wake up from a nightmare. Unfortunately for the Southampton fans, they experienced the nightmare, but there was no waking up and certainly no pleasure. Wenger’s side did a fantastic job of making his visiting audience suffer as much as possible as they rained blow after blow upon the fragile Saints defence.

“There is no terror in the bang, only in the anticipation of it. Arsenal’s cultured passing and movement only extended the anguish for the Saints, whose performance was so poor that they even made Gervinho look like a star. In my films blondes tended to make the best victims, but in this display the Saints served just as well. Adkins and his young, inexperienced side were like virgin snow that showed up the bloody bootprints of Podolski, Cazorla, Walcott and Gervinho.

“Hopefully the Southampton manager has come to realise what I did: that the only way to get rid of your fears is to make films about them. He needs to take a video of this horror show back to the training ground, channel his inner Norman Bates and teach Maya Yoshida how to defend. This defeat needs to be an important lesson, for if they don’t improve Southampton will be dialling R for Relegation.”

(All material in this blog is entirely fictional and does not represent the views or opinions of anyone, alive or dead, other than those of the author.)

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Arsene Wenger

FORMLESSNESS – Picture courtesy of  www.elrooneyoillustrations.tumblr.com

So a new season of Premier League action has begun and it seems evident from the first three fixtures that the league will be more fiercely contested than ever. Unless of course you’re Charles N’Zogbia, who judging by his performance for Aston Villa has not just lost the will to win, but seemingly the will to live too.

After a summer of inspiring and uplifting sport featuring our brave, dignified Olympians, we for one are delighted to see some good old fashioned violence, diving and cheating on offer from the Premier League’s finest (and of course Swansea’s Chico Flores). As the opening matches have seen a truck load of controversy and more penalties than Mario Ballotelli’s driving license, the deceased denizens of football’s first spiritual supporters group have been asking one question in particular: ‘does football have to be so attritional?’ In Off the Ghost went searching for answers, and we were contacted by legendary Chinese General, military strategist and author of the The Art of War, Sun Tzu, a posthumous pundit with a background in the rigours of battle.

Sun Tzu – ‘Tzu – nil! To the Arsenal!’

“These days, every game in the Premier League is a battle in a war for untold riches.” began Tzu, “It is said that if you know your enemies and know yourself, you will not be imperiled in a hundred battles. After three games and the end of the transfer window the Premier League sides are all starting to learn about each other’s strengths and weaknesses.”

“Although they have only won one of their first three games, Arsenal have impressed me so far. I have always said that to be successful in battle you must be extremely subtle, even to the point of formlessness. Wenger has followed this rule with blind devotion in recent years, but with Cazorla, Diaby and Podolski he seems to have got the balance right. The Arsenal will be challenging come May. Obviously, the Manchester clubs will also be dangerous. Although they both have defensive concerns, a team defends when their strength is inadequate, and they attack when it is abundant. With the additions of Van Persie and Garcia to already fierce battalions, their power is there for their enemies to see.”

In a sudden fit of rage that would make Paulo Di Canio blush, Tzu tried to throw a tea cup at the wall, only for it to float gently across the room.

“I have been greatly disappointed with Liverpool’s failure so far! Downing at left back? Martin Skrtel trying to pass it about like some sort of mutant Franz Beckenbauer? I see that Liverpool and Brendan Rogers have much to learn. What is essential in battle is victory, not prolonged passing operations. Speed is the essence of war. Too frequent rewards indicate that a General is at the end of his resources. With Carroll gone and no new strikers in to replace him, Liverpool and General Rodgers should expect to receive scant reward for his intricate tactics.”

Sun Tzu signed off with a final word of advice for all of the managers in the Premier League.

“Treat your men as you would your own beloved sons and they will follow you into the deepest valley. But if your words of command are not clear and distinct, if orders are not thoroughly understood, the General is to blame. AVB I’m looking at you – you won’t be able to fall back on the old ‘transitional period’ excuse forever.”

(All material in this blog is entirely fictional and does not represent the views or opinions of anyone, alive or dead, other than those of the author.)

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We are the Champions League

Life is a gamble. Every day we try to predict the future and how things will turn out. What will happen if I tell my boss that he is a fat, balding prune? Can I get across the road before this lorry turns me into a fine paste? Who will shoot first in the hideous ten team orgy of a Premier League relegation battle? The future is hard to predict. Maybe if the writers here at In Off the Ghost were a little better at guessing what was going to happen next, we wouldn’t be bringing you the latest gossip from football’s Elysium. We could’ve got a nice job working for Northern Rock or Enron instead.

However, there are other posthumous pundits on our eternal terraces who feel that they’re a bit better than us at predictions, and with a fortnight of exciting UEFA Champions League ties ahead involving all four English clubs, we have decided to bring you the forecast from one of our most flamboyant residents. A cold welcome to Queen front man Freddie Mercury!


Freddie Mercury

Mercury - Master of the offside trap

Chelsea v FC Copenhagen

“After their recent poor form Chelsea will be asking themselves – is this the real life, or is this just fantasy? The Champions League represents an escape from Premier League reality. If Ancelotti fails to guide the Blues past FC Copenhagen then … mama mia, mama mia! Abramovich will have a devil put aside for him! But I think they will be fine, Lampard is back and in form for the Pensioners and fat bottomed Frank makes their rockin’ world go round.”

Prediction: 3 v 1

 

Manchester United v Marseille

“Man Utd have been in foul form and an even worse temper recently. If they can’t beat you they will rock you instead. Take Rooney for example. One minute he is leaping through the skies like a tiger, defying the laws of gravity. Next he has a scowl on his face, he’s a big disgrace, waving his elbows all over the place. And if it’s not Rooney, it’s Ferguson; purple nose on his face, “the ref’s a disgrace”, Marseille are gonna put them back into their place.”

Prediction: 0 v 1

Barcelona v Arsenal

“Barcelona and Arsenal have so much in common. They share one vision. They have one heart, one soul, just one solution to football: pass, pass, pass. Arsenal played brilliantly at the Emirates, but I can only see one goal, one outcome for Wenger’s men, and there’s only one direction they are going – out of the Champions League. Messi will want to break free and unleash his kind of magic on the Gunners at the Camp Nou.”

Prediction: 1 v 0

Spurs v AC Milan

“Tottenham’s run has been incredible and Redknapp will be hoping another one of Europe’s big sides bites the dust at White Hart Lane, especially now that the crazy little thing called Gattuso won’t be playing. Bale already put Inter under pressure, so Milan should beware because, hey, he’s gonna get you too!”

Prediction: 1 v 0

(All material in this blog is entirely fictional and does not represent the views or opinions of anyone, alive or dead, other than those of the author.)

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Bloomin' Eck!

Football isn’t just a sport, it’s entertainment. A good game of football can be a show higher in quality than anything TV’s best paid hacks can churn out, resigning even top notch programmes such as Young Butcher of the Year and Jersey Shore to the Sky Plus box. And like the best TV dramas, football can have stunning plot twists, brilliant characters, and can sway from the hilarious to the tragic in the space of a few short moments. Just ask Laurent Koscielny and Wojciech Szczesny. Their performance in the final stages of Arsenal’s 2-1 Carling Cup Final capitulation to Birmingham City was the best example of miscommunication on live TV since this cringe inducing blunder on Australia’s Next Top Model.

Prior to the game, Arsenal had been waiting so long for silverware that Arsene Wenger had been forced to take even the Carling Cup seriously. However, a woeful performance from a side that overcame the majestic Barcelona only two weeks earlier left the Gunners’ boss on the verge of a Jimmy Corkhill style breakdown in front of a live audience of millions. The ghouls here at In Off the Ghost don’t want to detract from the performance of Alex McLeish’s Birmingham City side or overlook how entertaining the match was for the neutrals (particularly in comparison to some of the fetid FA Cup finals in recent years). So we decided to discuss the match with a Scotsman who knows a thing or two about good television. A cold welcome to Scottish engineer and the inventor of the world’s first practical, publicly demonstrated television system, John Logie Baird!

Logie Baird - Smarter than your average inventor

“I thoroughly enjoyed the game, it was exactly the kind of spectacle that I invented my amazing televisor for” said the square-eyed Logie Baird. “I was so pleased for Alex McLeish and I am always happy to see a fellow Scot doing well. The lad got his tactics totally on the button. He had Barry Ferguson and Craig Gardner providing a wide screen for the back four, Seb Larsson and Keith Fahey working the channels, and the height of Nikola Žigić provided Birmingham with a great aerial option. It was fantastic to watch the Serbian’s work in the box consistently unsettle Arsenal’s faulty defence and the reception the Birmingham fans gave their players throughout the match was incredible.”

“It was clear to me that Arsenal’s back four were too often static, and Andrei Arshavin and Robin Van Persie were too remote upfront. Koscielny and Szczesny were the funniest double act I’ve seen on the tube since Morecambe and Wise. Wenger likes to talk a lot about entertaining football, but his wee boys and their fruitless passing were no match for McLeish’s big men. To be honest, there is nothing I find more entertaining to watch on my celestial TV screen than a fast, exciting, end to end game of football, especially when a club outside the big four get to win a trophy for a change.”

(All material in this blog is entirely fictional and does not represent the views or opinions of anyone, alive or dead, other than those of the author.)

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Theo Walcott

Theo Walcott makes a splash.

The FA Cup third round, who could fail to get excited at the magic and romance? Who could wait for the prospect of Millwall v Birmingham City, Norwich v Leyton Orient and Torquay v Carlisle? Erm…well, us actually. It’s a shame, but when you’ve been dead for an indeterminable amount of time and you must while away years that stretch on endlessly, you tend to lose faith in romance, magic and all that guff. However, this season there was more to the FA Cup third round than the usual clichés. The oldest competition in the beautiful game showed a side of its weathered visage uglier than a constipated Ian Dowie.

So, with fighting, taunting and cheating evident in the biggest games of this year’s third round, in particular the contentious penalties in the Man Utd v Liverpool and Arsenal v Leeds clashes, we spoke to an expert in the field of diving, legendary French naval officer, explorer, ecologist, filmmaker, innovator, scientist, photographer, author and researcher Jacques Cousteau!

Jacques Costeau

Cousteau: "You call that a dive? Pah!"

“There is an art to diving,” began Cousteau, “lots of people attack the pitch when they dive, but Berbatov made love to it. Walcott was one with the turf. To be truly convincing you must embrace the deep green mistress and conquer her!”

“Berbatov is not just a diver, he is an impresario of divers. With barely a touch he fell, plumbing the depths of his talent to hoodwink Howard Webb. The Old Trafford crowd held their breath as the Bulgarian crashed upon the rocks of Agger’s knees, destroying Liverpool’s dreams of FA Cup victory” said Cousteau, repositioning his now translucent red hat firmly on his head.

“And Walcott, très bien! Arsenal were under absolute pressure when he flopped onto his back to salvage a point from the wreckage of Arsenal’s FA Cup third round tie with Leeds United. With that plummet Theo gave up his dignity so that his captain could save the day. Magnifique! And the half hearted apology after the game? Even I wouldn’t dare to go that low.”

“The only person who seemed to go to ground for a genuine reason was Stevenage defender Scott Laird, who sank like the Titanic after hitting this iceberg of a fist. And it was from one of his own fans too. Zut alors!”

(All material in this blog is entirely fictional and does not represent the views or opinions of anyone, alive or dead, other than those of the author.)

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Chamakh and Evra

Arsenal slip up again with a defeat at Old Trafford

Here at In Off the Ghost, we are all too aware that the body is a weak and frail vessel. But although the body is fragile and temporary, the mind endures. All we think and feel, as well as our memories and personalities, travel through space and time to the endless terraces of football’s Valhalla. Recollections of wheeling away in celebration after your first goal in the school playground, the intoxication of your first visit to a football match, the first time you realised that, unless you’re one of a privileged few, football is a hideous, evil addiction that causes little but agonising fear and worry, and everything else that your mind holds goes with you after the final whistle.

However, the mind is a complex beast. Rather than help you, it often goes out of its way to make things as difficult as possible. Ask Arsene Wenger. His Arsenal side proved their mental fragility yet again by pathetically limping to a 1-0 defeat to Man Utd this Monday. A turgid, unimaginative Gunners outfit couldn’t even trouble a United defence that has looked creakier than Rio Ferdinand’s knees this season.

Fans, pundits and commentators both in the world of the living and the dead are perplexed by Wenger’s boys inability to perform on the big stage. However, In Off the Ghost, can go one better than most football blogs and call upon a plethora of posthumous pundits for their opinions. This week, we have called in the controversial expertise of infamous neurologist and father of the psychoanalytic school of psychiatry Sigmund Freud in an attempt to get to the bottom of Arsenal’s mental misfortunes.

Sigmund Freud

Freud - A complex individual.

“Arsenal’s young players suffered a footballing castration at the hands of Man Utd on Monday” began Freud, “and they lacked the thrust and penetration they so clearly desired. Many people blame Arsenal’s players for their brittle mentality. This is wrong. Wenger is the father of this team. Young players are completely egoistic; they feel their needs intensely and strive ruthlessly to satisfy them, but Wenger is a master at restraining these needs and forcing them into silly, never ending triangles of fruitless passes. The tendency to aggression is an innate, independent, instinctual disposition in man, and many teams in the Premier League, including Man Utd, harness this instinct to Arsenal’s deficit. It constitutes a powerful obstacle to their cultured, yet trophyless style.”

Surprised by Freud’s diagnosis of the cause of Arsenal’s troubles, I asked Freud to elaborate on his theory that the Gunner’s lack of success is in fact down to Arsene Wenger’s mental state, rather than that of his players. Freud pushed his spectacles back onto his nose, and replied.

“Wenger’s incessant fixation on their style of play has become a form of neurosis. Neurotics complain of their illness, but they make the most of it, and when it comes to talking it away from them they will defend it like Nemanja Vidic defends a set piece. We have long observed that every neurosis has the result, and therefore probably the purpose, of forcing the patient out of real life, of alienating him from actuality. This is classic Wenger. He cannot face the reality that his choice of players is not good enough to bring major domestic and European success to the Emirates. So he blames the referee or the pitch, anything to nurture his neurosis.”

Finally, I asked Freud what he thought Arsenal need to do in order to finally break their trophy drought.

“It is a complex issue. Initially, being entirely honest with oneself is a good exercise. Wenger needs to confront his delusions of grandeur and style and rebuild his Arsenal side. Illusions commend themselves to us because they save us pain and allow us to enjoy pleasure instead. We must therefore accept it without complaint when they sometimes collide with the reality of Man Utd or Chelsea, against which they are invariably dashed to pieces. The opponent that Arsenal must defeat is Wenger’s ego, only then can they face up to to the failures that his sub conscious must already understand, and perhaps satisfy their long repressed desire for trophies. I think it highly likely that the Arsenal board will sack Wenger..oh no, wait, I meant back Wenger. Sorry my mistake!”

(All material in this blog is entirely fictional and does not represent the views or opinions of anyone, alive or dead, other than those of the author.)

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Charles Darwin

Charles Darwin - Naturally selected the best young players around

The restless spirit of In Off the Ghost has possessed fellow football website www.footballfarrago.com!

Click here to read In Off the Ghost’s Charles Darwin and his views on the evolution of four of England’s brightest young players, as well as other great articles!

More posts from the only insight into the footballing culture of the afterlife will be coming next week exclusively through the medium of www.inofftheghost.wordpress.com, so be sure to come again soon!

(All material in this blog is entirely fictional and does not represent the views or opinions of anyone, alive or dead, other than those of the author.)

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Sol Campbell

Sol Campbell - Mr. Popular.

When I was but a child in the world of the living, my father gave me two pieces of advice that I took with me to my grave: ‘always be loyal to those closest to you’ and ‘never go back’. As a young boy, I tried my best to follow these words of wisdom. However, I soon learned that not everybody adheres to these rules. Sol Campbell broke the first rule back in 2001 when he left Tottenham Hotspur for fierce rivals Arsenal, and today he broke the second with the sensational news that he has rejoined the Gunners after his ill-advised stint at Notts County.

Since his decision to spurn the Spurs and join Wenger’s boys, Campbell, 35, has been the subject of some of the most poisonous venom that the terraces have ever produced. The news of his return today has captured the imagination of my fellow spirits, and In Off the Ghost was contacted by none other than the legendary Guy Fawkes, who was dying to tell us what he thought of Campbell’s move.

Guy Fawkes

Guy Fawkes - an explosive character.

‘I sympathise with Sol, I really do,’ said Fawkes, who coincidently was also 35 when he had a disastrous dealing with an arsenal.

‘I was also accused of treason and treachery, and I too was hated and reviled by my rivals. But Sol has to do what he feels is right for him. Regardless of what Spurs fans say, after his move to Arsenal his career sky-rocketed. He won the Premier League, the FA Cup and scored in the European Cup final. His performances fizzled out somewhat a few years ago, but I think that this move might just put a spark back into his game  and a fire in his belly. On his day there isn’t a defender in the league who can hold a Roman Candle to Sol, and I back him to come back with a bang against Bolton.’

It is a risky plan by Wenger, but if Campbell can replicate the form of his prime this might be one plot that proves successful.

(All material in this blog is entirely fictional and does not represent the views or opinions of anyone, alive or dead, other than those of the author.)

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In Off The Ghost Premier League Obituaries

'Ashes to ashes, Wigan to Wolves'

Friends, family and fans. The time has come for In Off The Ghost to pay its last respects to the final round of festive Premier League matches. Some of you will look back fondly at the good times. For others however, the pain will still be too fresh (our thoughts are with Wolves and Portsmouth fans in particular).

Aston Villa 0-1 Liverpool

A Fernando Torres goal at the death snatched a vital win for Liverpool against Champions League rivals Aston Villa, who will be left mourning Richard Dunne’s untimely stumble.

This match is survived by: A sense of sympathy for Villa and especially the impressive Richard Dunne, who did not deserve to be the fall guy.

Blackburn 2-2 Sunderland

Darren Bent

'Balls'

A Darren Bent brace was not enough to earn a much-needed three points for Sunderland as fan favourite and all round nice chap El Hadji Diouf provided a lifeline for Blackburn.

This match is survived by: Unease from both sets of supporters as early season promise dies a slow and painful death.

Bolton 2-2 Hull

Bolton threw away a two goal lead, conceding two Stephen Hunt goals in seven minutes after Ivan Klasnic and the evergreen elbows of Kevin Davies had given them the lead.

This match is survived by: Bolton’s search for a new manager after the news that Gary Megson’s reign as boss had bitten the dust. Megson spent a significant amount of the Trotter’s cash during his tenure, with nothing to show but a Bolton side that are as potent as Pele after an all night drinking session.

Chelsea 2-1 Fulham

Didier Drogba

'Argh, there's my plane!'

A masterful Didier Drogba performance and an own goal from debutant Chris Smalling put a resilient Fulham to the sword after Zoltan Gera had given the Cottagers an early lead.

This match is survived by: The feeling that Drogba going to the African Cup of Nations will be the worst withdrawal at Chelsea since Adrian Mutu went cold turkey.

Everton 2-0 Burnley

Two goals in the final ten minutes from James Vaughan and Stephen Pienaar sealed Burnley’s fate and condemned them to a ninth successive league game without a win.

This match is survived by: Burnley’s capitulation after an impressive start to the season, as their league form plummets faster than the house prices. Fortunately, Burnley’s good fortunes at their home show no signs of fading.

Stoke 0-1 Birmingham

Alex McLeish

'Hmmm, what else I can sell?'

A scrappy Cameron Jerome goal was the final nail in Stoke’s Christmas coffin as Birmingham marched on to an eleventh game unbeaten.

This match is survived by: The growing certainty that Alex McLeish must have sold his soul to turn City into contenders for European football.

Tottenham 2-0 West Ham

The returning Luca Modric and West Ham favourite Jermaine Defoe netted to finish off a lifeless West Ham.

This match is survived by: Confidence in the Spurs camp. After a day of returns, Tottenham show no signs of leaving the Champions League places anytime soon.

Wolves 0-3 Man City

Jody Craddock

'Oh God, here he comes again!'

Wolves were led to the slaughter by two goals from a rampaging Carlos Tevez and a cunning Javier Garrido free-kick. Craig Bellamy exorcised the spectre of Robinho by consistently slaughtering poor Jody Craddock.

This match is survived by: The need for someone to tell Roberto Mancini that it takes more than beating Wolves to turn a ragtag bunch of millionaires into title winners.

Portsmouth 1-4 Arsenal

A Fabregas deprived Arsenal murdered bottom of the table Portsmouth at Fratton Park, with Eduardo, Samir Nasri, Aaron Ramsey and Alex Song all accomplices.

This match is survived by: The feeling that despite the potential of Arsenal’s exciting young prospects, they will inevitably flatter to deceive. Portsmouth seem to be on their last legs and the vultures are circling. Both rival clubs and the administrators look set to be knocking on the door of Fratton Park in 2010.

Man Utd 5-0 Wigan

Titus Bramble

Hands up if you belong in the Championship.

Another trouncing for Wigan as they continue to haemorrhage goals. The champions maintain their recent good form thanks to goals from Wayne Rooney, Michael Carrick, Rafael Da Silva, Dimitar Berbatov and Antonio Valencia.

This match is survived by: Alex Ferguson’s belief that his side will only get stronger after this mauling. However, Fergie should take any result against a side with Titus Bramble and Emerson Boyce in defence with a large heap of salt.

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Premier League Review

'Now where did I put my scalpel?'

Now that this round of fixtures are over, the time has come for the resident In Off The Ghost pathologist to snap on a pair of rubber gloves, grab the scalpel and dissect the bloated corpse that is this week’s Premier League action.

Birmingham 0 – 0 Chelsea

Birmingham City held the league leaders to a scoreless draw at St. Andrews after an unfairly disallowed goal for Birmingham’s absurdly monikered Christian ‘ChuCho’ Benitez and some wayward finishing from Ancelotti’s outfit.

Deceased: Chelsea’s record of scoring in every game this season.

Cause of Death: The centre back pairing of Roger Johnson and Scott Dann accompanied by keeper Joe Hart did enough to starve the Londoners of a much-needed goal. Malouda missing a sitter late on added insult to injury.

Burnley 1 – 1 Bolton

David Nugent - Rubbish.

Burnley clawed their way back from the brink of defeat thanks to a David Nugent header cancelling out a lethal Matthew ‘Matty’ Taylor free kick.

Deceased: Those jokes about David Nugent being rubbish (well for a day or two at least).

Cause of Death: Nugent propelling his squama frontalis into a Wade Elliot cross. A stunning display of defensive rigor mortis from Bolton’s Gretar Steinsson was also a contributing factor.

Fulham 0 – 0 Tottenham

Stalemate at Craven Cottage as any decent opportunities were duly snuffed out by in form keepers.

Deceased: Tottenham’s swashbuckling, free scoring football.

Cause of Death: A well organised and hard-working Fulham rear guard action and some top-notch goal-keeping prevented anyone striking first blood.

Liverpool 2 – 0 Wolves

Steven Gerrard heads Liverpool's opener

How to get ahead.

Liverpool return to winnings ways after the horror show at Fratton Park, killing off a Wolves side weakened by the loss of Stephen Ward to a red card.

Deceased: Steven Gerrard’s recent poor form and Andre Marriner’s vision.

Cause of Death: Steven Gerrard turned in a glorious performance and got higher than heavenly Hendrix to head home Liverpool’s opening goal. Andre Marriner however must have been hoping for Anfield to swallow him up after booking Christophe Berra instead of Stephen Ward.

Man City 2 – 0 Stoke

Roberto Mancini’s Man City reign began with a victory as Martin Petrov (remember him?) and Carlos Tevez struck to seal Stoke’s fate.

Deceased: The Mark Hughes era at City was laid to rest at Eastlands.

Cause of Death: The spectre of ghoulish defending that has haunted Man City’s season so far was banished by a solid display from Vincent Kompany and Kolo Toure. Also the absence of Micah Richards for the first 66 minutes may have helped.

Sunderland 1 – 1 Everton

Marouane Felliani’s thumping 86th minute equaliser salvaged a point for Everton after cancelling out Darren Bent’s 17th minute opener.

Deceased: Steve Bruce’s composure appears to be on its last legs after seeing his Sunderland side booed off for drawing at home to Everton.

Cause of Death: In a game with more twists than Steve Bruce’s nose, Felliani and Stephen Pienaar were the stand out performers as Everton outplayed the Black Cats. Unrealistic expectations from some sections of the Sunderland faithful are only adding to the gloom at the Stadium of Light.

West Ham 2 – 0 Portsmouth

West Ham manager Gianfranco Zola

Just shave it off.

An Alessandro Diamante penalty and a bullet header from Radoslav Kovac fire West Ham to victory and blow a hole in Portsmouth’s survival hopes.

Deceased: The brittle confidence that Pompey had mustered after their win over Liverpool was smashed by defeat in this relegation six pointer.

Cause of Death: The midfield dynamism of Scott Parker coupled with the creativity of Diamante enabled West Ham to claim the points. The return of the influential Jack Collision will be welcome to a West Ham squad thinner than Gianfranco Zola’s hairline.

Wigan 1 – 1 Blackburn

Hugo Rodellega buried Maynor Figueroa’s cross to cancel out an early Benni McCarthy strike as the points were shared at the DW Stadium.

Deceased: Benni McCarthy’s barren run in front of goal bit the dust as he scored his first goal of the season.

Cause of Death: Transparent marking allowed McCarthy to ghost in behind the Wigan defence and score. A fine save from Chris Kirkland was needed to deny McCarthy an acrobatic winner.

Arsenal 3 -0 Aston Villa

Fabregas bags a brace for Arsenal

Let's talk about Cesc baby.

A 27 minute cameo appearance from Cesc Fabregas stopped Aston Villa dead in their tracks as the Arsenal captain bags a brace before limping off with a hamstring injury.

Deceased: Aston Villa’s run of 8 games without defeat and 5 games without conceding a goal comes to an abrupt end at the Emirates.

Cause of Death: The introduction of Fabregas served to unravel a resolute Villa defence and provided the best 30 minute Spanish show since the demise of Eldorado. Abou Diaby fired home a third as Aston Villa gave up the ghost, however Villa are still firmly in the hunt for the hallowed ground of fourth place.

Hull 1 – 3 Man Utd

Wayne Rooney had a hand in all four goals as the Champions overcame a spirited Hull City at the KC Stadium.

Deceased: Manchester United’s defensive worries appear to be coming to an end as both Wes Brown and Nemanja Vidic impress.

Cause of Death: Rooney scored United’s first before playing a catastrophic back pass which led to a penalty for Hull. Rooney made amends for his error in the second half by creating both of United’s subsequent goals. This mercurial performance was apparently spurred on by the fear of the famous hairdryer treatment from Ferguson. This comes as some surprise as he has told us before that he finds the sound of a hairdryer quite soothing.

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