Politics, Sport

A Week in Review: 21st-27th September

Defensive frailties show Lampard still has a lot of work ahead.

The weekend’s results show that despite their major investment in the team, Frank Lampard still has a lot of work to do at Chelsea. Their first half performance was totally unacceptable for a side wanting to push on from last season and start to regularly challenge for honours. The defensive frailties from last season are still there, despite recruitment in the defensive positions. That does then raise the question of whether it is down to the players not concentrating and failing to follow the manager’s instructions or if Lampard is not a strong enough defensive coach. All three West Brom goals could be attributed to errors by the Chelsea defence, the first two being individual while the entire team was guilty of ball-watching for the third. To be fair to West Brom, they took those three chances very well, but they were aided and abetted by Chelsea’s negligent defending and also some wayward finishing. Chelsea had three chances in the first half that you really should be taking if you want to be challenging for Champions League football.

The fightback in the second half from Chelsea was very spirited and good to see. Quite frankly though, they never should have been in that position to begin with. Callum Hudson-Odoi took the chance given to him when Lampard introduced him at half-time. He offered some more width to Chelsea’s attack to stretch the West Brom defence and scored a very well taken goal to put the comeback within reach. To be honest the whole team was far better after half-time, with far more urgency about their attacking play and they were able to penetrate the banks of West Brom defenders. Chelsea have invested heavily this summer and that will raise expectations. Right now, though, it is important to remember that Ben Chilwell hasn’t started a game yet, and surely will soon after Marcos Alonso was withdrawn at half-time. Hakim Ziyech is yet to play competitive football at all and Edouard Mendy only just joined last week. Chelsea are still a work in progress. It took Liverpool five full years with Klopp in charge to reach the heights they did last season, so the virtues of patience have been proven, and Lampard can argue for patience. But results and performances need to improve.

The handball laws have gone completely potty.

The laws surrounding handball were changed at the start of the season and they have been met with a cacophony of protests and anger. The new laws are a stricter interpretation of the long-standing handball rule but it seems to be incredibly overzealous. The handball that was awarded for Newcastle against Tottenham is a nonsense call and Eric Dier is incredibly unlucky to have that call made against him. You need to use your arms to gain momentum in your jump or you will lose every aerial duel in the game. Dier couldn’t control where his arm was in that incident. Handball should only be given when it is deliberate which Dier’s most certainly was not.

When a manager who has benefitted from a decision made under the new interpretation says it is complete nonsense, then you know that the game is not receiving it well. Multiple managers have spoken out against it and the players can’t be at all comfortable with it either. I think there has got to be some leniency when it comes to handball. VAR is absolutely necessary but there was nothing clearly and obviously in error with not giving that as a penalty yesterday. The managers and players have got to come together and make clear to the F.A. and the PGMOL that this law is not good for the game. They were able to get change in how VAR is implemented. Already this season, we are seeing referees make use of the pitch side monitor and that is taking a lot of the frustration out of the game, because it is the on-field referee making the final decision rather than someone at Stockley Park. I’m all for innovation in the game, but sometimes we need to take a step back and think about what is being proposed. Because in trying to clarify the handball rule, we have only muddied the waters.

America has a problem.

Not unusual to hear these days but it does. It has someone as president who will not confirm whether or not he will obey the rule of law and leave office peacefully if defeated in November. He will not confirm that he will accept the result of an election and will hand over power. And the Republican party has not moved to distance themselves from this most undemocratic of moves to stay in power.

But it doesn’t surprise me in the slightest that Trump would not do the simplest of presidential moves. And that is because he is always trying to show his core support that he is not like other presidents that came before him. He is different, not a Washington insider, not a politician. And that attitude is absolutely baffling to me.  Americans always seem to like voting people with absolutely no idea what will be required for the job of running the country to run the country. The problem is that when you do that, the person you’ve elected will not be able to get much of anything done, because they don’t know how to work the system.

Donald Trump does not care about presidential norms or precedents. Because supporters cheering him on as he breaks them feeds his ego and gives him the briefest flash of positive feelings about himself. That’s why he will not commit to respecting the result of November’s election. Because he cannot bear the thought of losing what he sees as a popularity contest. So he stokes fears of voter fraud, of lawlessness that will target those who make up his fanbase, publicly suggests he will attempt to flout the constitution. All that to mobilise enough people to make sure that he can’t be got rid of. He wants to make it set in stone that he will be in the White House after January next year. What needs to happen is that he loses by such a landslide that even he will not challenge the result.

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