England 0—0 Scotland.

Scotland fans celebrated this 0—0 draw like Rangers’ fans invading George Square and mistaking it for the centre of Manchester, where they went on the rampage a few years ago. I got into the spirit by being late into the Albion, drowning my sorrows before I was sorry, and having to play catch-up by downing a pint in a oner (well kinda). It’s thirsty work hating the English. Before the game, we thought Steve Clarke had got the team selection wrong. No Rangers players, the Scottish Champions in a Scottish team. O’Donnell, who I admit has a suspiciously Irish Catholic tang to it, was playing (not that one), the diddy that plays for Motherwell, but played for Clarke at Kilmarnock.  My argument was O’Donnell was good at taking shys. It’s not much, but Steve Clarke’s cunning plan was to revert to type and turn Scotland into Kilmarnock. Go long and defend in numbers. It worked great.

Lyndon Dykes won every high ball. In the first few minutes, he and Che Adams was making the English backline nervous by being in their faces. We were on top. Inexplicably, we had the kind of defending that has marked Celtic’s season. At a corner John Stones was left a free header—it bounced off the post.

European Cup winner Mason Mount also slashed across goal after being played in by Raheem Sterling. The ball being given to the European Cup loser by Scott McTominay, who temporarily forgot he was a Scot. He flapped a bit after that mistake, but then upped his game to Kilmarnock levels.

That was about it for England. Harry Kane didn’t feature before getting subbed late on. Phil Foden, touted, and rightly so, as one of the most exciting talents in world football, was outshone by the likes Billy Gilmour (even though he’s an ex-Hun—I’m sure glad he’s at Chelsea and not Rangers).

Even the diddy O’Donnell had us lapping up his performance. He almost scored from a Kieran Tierney cross in the first half. The England keeper Pickford got a block, but the ball went up in the air and it looked as if Che Adams might header it in—but he didn’t.

England dominated the early period of the second-half, and this was the way many of us believed the game would pan out. But Scotland held firm and didn’t look to concede and slowly, like Manchester City in the European final, they began to run out of routes to goal. Dykes shot at goal had us all on our feet (that’s the kind of lie short-sighted people use who can’t see their feet) when he beat the England keeper. But somehow Chelsea defender James got a heel onto the ball and kept it from going over the line. Bastard.

Scotland didn’t exactly pile forward, but we grew more comfortable, and dangerous when getting forward. Adams had a chance to hit the stand or goal, and being an Englishman in a Scottish jersey, he opted for the former. (He did have a good game, although Dykes, with lesser ability was more effective.) No one is the Scottish shirt let us down. Our fans celebrated at the end. And we tried to work out how (a) to get home and what pub was still open (b) how we can just mix out on the qualifying rounds by losing a late goal, or getting a draw when we needed victory. The kind of glorious victory in defeat Scotland as excelled at over the years. It’s been a long time since we went down to Wembley and ripped up the turf and ate it, just to show how tough we were. C’mon Scotland—but don’t expect too much.    

Manchester City 3—0 Arsenal

I don’t watch much of English football now. Usually, I fall asleep on a Saturday night watching Match of the Day. After lockdown I watched the big game. When you don’t really care who wins, as I do, the game needs to be sparkling to keep your attention. Arsenal started quite well, but City made the better chances. They’d four shots on goal, before Kevin De Bruyne tried a speculative pass. Earlier he’d misplaced a pass and helped create one of Arsenal’s two first-half chances. Here he misplaced another pass, but David Luiz let the ball hit against him and he played in Raheem Stirling who slammed it into the net. Luiz had came on as an substitute, one of two, Arsenal changes to their first eleven, as players not quite up to speed suffered injuries.

Mikel Arteta, the Arsenal boss, who once played for Rangers, knows a diddy when he sees one and Luiz comes into that category. I was half supporting Arsenal because ex-Celtic player Kieran Tierney was given a run out.

  Ederson Santana de Moraes, the Man City goalkeeper picked apart the Arsenal defence with his first two, second-half passes in the opening minutes. Riyad Mahrez, first touch was poor and he was through on goal, but the chance gone. A minute or two later, another defence-splitting pass. Luiz pulls Mahrez back in the penalty box. Luiz gets sent off.

De Bruyne scores the penalty and it’s just a matter of how many City will score. Eleven players against ten. Training match, with water breaks.  

Substitute Fernandino to England hopeful Phil Foden to make it three…

Arsenal’s best player, goal-keeper, Bernd Leno, which pretty much says it all.

Man City’s keeper wiped out one of his own defenders late in the game. He was taking no chances. Playing Luiz is perhaps taking too big a gamble. Interesting to see where Luiz will go next. Unbelievably, Luiz has gone for around £100 million-plus in an up and down career. He’ll soon be back at Chelsea.

Same old Arsenal, beaten 3—0 by City last time. Beaten 3—0 this time. Kevin de Bruyne taken off, but still made man of the match. Really, it was Luiz. Football is back (yawn). I suppose I’ll watch the Merseyside derby. Don’t care who wins that one either. Waiting for Celtic’s season to begin, anew.