Tangled Up In Blue

Saturday 17th Februrary, 5:30pm

City @ 4/11
Draw @ 9/2
Chelsea @ 13/2
view odds

From his acclaimed 1975 album, Blood On The Tracks, Bob Dylan’s single Tangled Up In Blue is built around a lyrical collage comprised of snapshots and shifting perspectives of a long, troubled relationship.

Similarly, the narrative of the long Premier League season continues to shift in unexpected ways. Manchester United are suddenly, seemingly resurgent; West Ham United, conversely, have just emphatically thumped the self-destruct button.  Valentine’s cards were sent with affection this week; blue cards of admonishment are expected in the near future. The relationship between players and fans can be a complex one too, and can also change in an instant.

Earlier this week, for example, it looked like it was going to be a blue Monday for Chelsea. Sluggish and behind at the break against Crystal Palace, their supporters were inching towards revolt.  Then, an unforeseen technical issue just before the second half led to a delay which the Selhurst Park DJ chose to fill with the sounds of another lauded, songwriting Bob – reggae pioneer Bob Marley.

The chosen song, Three Little Birds, was apposite.  A new film celebrating Marley’s life is released this weekend; Bob Marley and the Wailers played their largest, and last, UK gig in Crystal Palace in 1980; and the song’s famous chorus, featuring the line every little thing is gonna be alright, was sure to find traction with both sets of fans, for whom the season has been flecked with setbacks.

‘It won’t just be his impeccably drawn bowl-cut fringe that will be receiving awards nominations at end of the season.’

And gain traction it did. But it was the Chelsea throng who were singing the song on their way home, after a much-improved post-pause display produced an important win for their side.  Did the DJ inadvertently change the course of the game? Did the optimistic choral congregation somehow only motivate the visiting players?  No doubt the away fans will take the lion’s share of the credit for the turnaround.

Now, in a further unexpected consequence, the defeated manager, Roy Hodgson, appears to be out of a job.  Though I sincerely hope every little thing is gonna be alright with regard to his health. The longevity of Hodgson’s managerial career is sometimes hard to fathom – by 1980, when Bob Marley was saying farewell to South London, Roy had already won two league titles with the previously ungarlanded Swedish side, Halmstads BK.

Will the power of Bob Marley’s words and music be enough to inspire Chelsea to overcome a much bigger challenge this weekend?  Or will even the great Jamaican’s spiritual pleas fall short?  Because an almighty tangle-up of blues awaits at The Etihad this weekend, as the sky blue of Manchester City welcomes the royal blue of Chelsea in a 5:30pm kick-off on Saturday.

So much has been said about the return to front-line action of the Kevin de Bruyne and Erling Haaland tandem. But it seems that the focus on this duo has allowed Phil Foden to sneak-in, relatively undetected, and fill his boots. The Stockport native is comfortably on course to set new personal scoring records this season.

And if he maintains his current level, it won’t just be his impeccably drawn bowl-cut fringe that will be receiving awards nominations at end of the season.  Fellow former City youth player, Cole Palmer, may boast a similar tally in the goals column; but he can only look on in tight, teeth-grinding envy at the exactitude of that Foden hairline.

Both Manchester City and Liverpool play twice in Gameweek 25, so by this time next week the Premier League perspectives may well have shifted again.  Will all the existing threads begin to untangle?  Will new relationship knots or potential snares begin to form?  And which set of fans, when the final whistle blows on Saturday evening, will be left singing the blues?

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