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Premier League – Week 10: The One Where Results Didn’t Really Matter

EPL Week 10 is in the books, but the matches will be overshadowed by the tragedy that happened in Leicester. And sometimes that puts sport into perspective.

Premier League – Week 10: The One Where Results Didn’t Really Matter

Estimated Reading Time: 8 Minutes

With more than 25 percent of the 2018/19 English Premier League now completed, fans can probably have a reasonable guess as to how this campaign will play out. The teams at the top are likely to stay there, the teams in the middle will be thinking about how best to secure another season of EPL money, and the ones at the bottom will be debating the optimal moment to fire their manager.

The table already has a familiar look to it.

Manchester City lead the way and have not lost in 10 games. Liverpool, Chelsea and Arsenal round out the top four, with the latter seeing an 11-game (in all competitions) winning streak snapped by a dogged Crystal Palace. Both Liverpool and Chelsea remain unbeaten, while Spurs are the only team that has not drawn a single game this season.

Huddersfield Town and Newcastle United have still not registered a win as we enter November, and the fact that Huddersfield have only scored four goals all season (none at home, BTW) doesn’t bode well for their survival chances. Fulham’s lavish spending spree in the summer has basically been a waste of time, with the Cottagers not only languishing in the bottom three but also boasting the worst defense in the league—28 goals shipped to date.

With that in mind, EPL Week 10 saw wins for both Manchester Clubs, Liverpool Chelsea, Brighton, Bournemouth and Watford, with Chelsea hitting Burnley for four on the road. Three games were tied—the aforementioned Palace/Arsenal game, Southampton vs Newcastle and Leicester at home to West Ham.

Sadly, that final game drew headlines for an event that had nothing to do with football.

Putting Sport Into Perspective

Over the last three or four years, it is fair to say that Leicester City’s global profile has been raised to an unexpected level.

The Foxes won the EPL in 2016, a title win that came less than a year after the club were nearly relegated. The team were promoted to the top flight in 2014 after spending some years in the Championship wilderness and their surprise victory was (quite rightly) lauded as one of the greatest sports stories of all time.

Much of the credit went to the billionaire owner of the club, Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha, who had bought Leicester in 2010 for just under $50 million. A figure that seems like peanuts when you consider how much the so-called Big Six in the EPL are worth.

Just hours after Leicester had secured a last-minute draw at home to ten-man West Ham, Mr. Srivaddhanaprabha’s personal helicopter took off from the center of the pitch (as it had done on numerous times before). Within minutes, a loud bang was heard by players and stadium staff. The helicopter was then seen spiraling out of control, before crashing into an industrial park next to the stadium and exploding in a fireball.

At the time of writing, the cause of the crash was unknown, with sources citing the loss of a tail rotor as one possible reason. And while the potential for mechanical failure is part of life, the sad fact is that Leicester’s owner was on board.

According to numerous media sources, Vichai’s contribution to both the football club and the city itself was immense, with fans treated to free scarves, flags and donuts at Leicester’s King Power Stadium. Under his leadership, the club became a symbol for other teams to follow their dreams, something that is increasingly difficult when you take into account the amount of money that certain clubs have at their disposal.

In the days following the helicopter crash, there have been tributes paid to Vichai by players (past and present), supporters and the population-at-large.

Prince William, who is president of the FA, said that “he (Vichai) made such a big contribution to football, not least through Leicester City’s magical 2016 season that captured the imagination of the world,” while Manchester City forward Riyad Mahrez—who played for Leicester from 2014 to 2018—dedicated his match-winning goal against Spurs to a man he compared to his own father.

“The boss was very special to me. I spent four and a half years there and have many memories with him,” Mahrez said in an interview with Sky Sports, cited by the BBC, after his goal took City back to the top of the table. “He was such a good person and had a big heart. It was heart-breaking and shocking for me to hear this news and for all of the other people who died with him. I am with Leicester and the family of the victims.”

With that in mind, The Turf would like to send its condolences to the family of Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha and the other people who died on October 27– Nursara Suknamai, Kaveporn Punpare, pilot Eric Swaffer and his partner Izabela Roza Lechowicz.

It’s all about community

One of the most perfect things about supporting a particular team is its ability to bring people together, to create a community that lives and breathes that sport.

Think about how the city of Boston likely celebrated as one when Chris Sale threw the final pitch at Dodger Stadium to win the World Series for the Red Sox and the fact that owner John Henry, not a player, was presented with the trophy. Now imagine if Henry had been killed in a helicopter crash less than 90 minutes later.

I am not a Leicester City fan. I support another team—Tottenham Hotspur—but the idea of community runs through everything connected with my club. The amount of money invested by me is minuscule compared to the wages paid to the players or the level of financial spending that is part of the running of a modern sports team. And when that spending produces magical moments, we all get to benefit from being part of that community.

But sometimes, we have to look at the bigger picture.

Leicester’s owner put his money where his mouth was, both in terms of the club and his philanthropic gestures in the city of Leicester itself. He allowed people to dream, to fulfill ambitions that were not always limited to watching the action on the pitch. His death leaves a massive hole in the lives of Vichai’s family and the playing staff who, it is assumed, had been sold on the long-term vision that the club owner painted for them.

The tragedy here is that it takes an event like this to realize that sport itself is not always the headline maker. Rather, it is the people behind the scenes who bring the community together, and who allow us to be part of something that is more than just watching the game, buying the shirts and being a fan.

The state of play in the EPL

Given that this weekly review is supposed to give our readers a brief recap of what happened in the last round of matches, then it would be remiss not to provide our take on Gameweek 10.

As we noted above the top five is made up of the usual suspects, although Manchester United are still (for them) going through a tough time in 8th place. Liverpool remain second, thanks to a 4-1 win over a plucky Cardiff City and Chelsea battered Burnley 4-0. Arsenal remain 4th after drawing at Crystal Palace, with the visitors somewhat lucky to get a point against a team that scored its first home goals of the season.

Manchester City beat Spurs 1-0 at Wembley on a pitch that still had all the markings of an NFL game from the night before and (unsurprisingly) looked like a right old dog’s dinner. City’s return to the top was helped by a dreadful miss by Spurs’ Erik Lamela in the 81st minute, but the ongoing construction debacle that is the new White Hart Lane is an unwelcome distraction for both players and supporters.

Mourinho’s men did see off Everton at Old Trafford, winning 2-1 in a game that was decided by a dodgy penalty and a moment of genius from Anthony Martial. The penalty award was farcical, both in how Martial threw himself to the ground and the 26 steps that Paul Pogba took to deliver the spot kick—scoring from the rebound after Everton’s keeper had saved his initial effort.

Bournemouth and Watford both continued their excellent starts to the season, winning 3-0 against Fulham and Huddersfield, respectively. Watford did score a couple of sublime individual goals, with the opener from Roberto Pereyra a candidate for goal of the season. Huddersfield’s inability to score goals or defend is going to be a problem in the not-so-distant-future, and it will be interesting to see how much longer manager David Wagner keeps his job.

Speaking of managers that will probably get sacked before Christmas, Newcastle made it zero wins in 10 games and increased the pressure on Rafa Benitez. A scoreless draw against Southampton saw Newcastle have 27 shots—none of which were on target—and the club has now failed to record a win in their opening 10 league games for the first time in 120 years. Which is a bit embarrassing for all concerned.

Brighton’s game against Wolves was also marred with tragedy, as an elderly fan was taken ill in the stadium before the game and later died in hospital. For the record, Brighton won 1-0, thanks to his 100th club goal from the evergreen Glenn Murray. Wolves remain in the top 10, although they have now lost back-to-back games for the first time since promotion.

What to expect in EPL Week 11

The next round of games has a couple of mouthwatering fixtures and one that is already a relegation six-pointer.

Huddersfield will hoping to open their home goal-scoring account against the worst defense in the EPL—Fulham—while Newcastle will try and stop Watford. Bournemouth entertain Manchester United and Chelsea are at home to Crystal Palace. Spurs will get to play on a proper football pitch again at Wolves, and Cardiff will welcome a still-grieving Leicester City.

Game-of-the-week will be at the Emirates in North London, as Arsenal look to end Liverpool’s unbeaten start to the season, while West Ham and Everton will be hoping to get three points against Burnley and Brighton, respectively.

See you all next week, when (hopefully) normal service is resumed.

Dave is a journalist, writer and blogger who moved to Boston MA from London to 2009. In his previous lives he has worn a suit to work, run a small and unprofitable record label, managed a heavy metal band and gained a degree in Media Communications at the age of 37. Dave is quite keen on Tottenham Hotspur, the England national football team, the Boston Red Sox and the Boston Bruins. Dave also has a soft spot for the New York Mets ... as he believes that all sport revolves around fan-focused misery. With that in mind, he has no interest in the New England Patriots or Manchester City.

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