What we will learn in 2013: Benitez to lead Chelsea to glory and more frustration for Arsenal

By George Ankers

January 1: Arsenal begin the calendar year in fourth place with 33 points.

January 6: Another round of articles are published across the UK, proclaiming that this is David Moyes’ chance to finally win a trophy to cap off a decade of incredible achievement at Everton. Everyone nods their heads sagely and tips the Toffees as a dark horse for the FA Cup.

January 7: Everton lose 2-1 to Cheltenham Town in the third round.

January 19: David Beckham is forced to deny rumours linking him with Monaco.

January 20: Beckham is forced to deny rumours linking him with Perth Glory.

January 21: Beckham is forced to deny rumours linking him with Middlesbrough. “Erm … maybe I could go to Monaco?” he mumbles unconvincingly to the one remaining journalist at the press conference.

January 31: Transfer deadline day! Having spent the entire month flatly insisting that there is “no chance” of the move happening, Roberto Mancini confirms the signing of Daniele De Rossi from Roma. Meanwhile, at Loftus Road, Harry Redknapp puts the finishing touches on deals for Yann M’Vila, Didier Drogba, Peter Crouch, Hayden Mullins, Jamie Redknapp, his dog Rosie and literally anyone else who asks him nicely for a contract. Jose Bosingwa, unsold, is demoted to tea lady.

February 9: Uproar at Real Madrid as Jose Mourinho benches Xabi Alonso in favour of a vaguely promising 16-year-old from the club’s cantera. Los Blancos are consequently beaten 4-0 by a rampant Sevilla.

February 13:

There are awkward scenes at the Donbass Arena when Chelsea show up in full match kit, ready to take to the field for Shakhtar Donetsk v Borussia Dortmund in the Champions League last 16. “But … we’re Champions of Europe,” a confused John Terry repeats to the referee umpteen times before the Blues are finally herded away from the premises.

February 16: On a high after their battling 2-1 win over Bayern Munich in their first-leg clash, Arsenal are beaten 1-0 by Cheltenham Town in the FA Cup fifth round. Gervinho misses an open goal from three centimetres out.

March 2: Emmanuel Adebayor’s last-minute goal gives Tottenham a 1-0 derby win over Arsenal. The Togolese striker runs to the away end and moons the Gunners fans before proudly announcing his unretirement from international football in celebration (it lasts a week). Meanwhile, Andre Villas-Boas emits a tribal roar so guttural that his vocal chords scratch their way out of his throat and fall onto the pitch.

March 10: Fans demonstrate outside the Santiago Bernabeu after Jose Mourinho, the night before, frogmarched Karim Benzema onto the centre circle at Celta Vigo during a shock 5-1 drubbing and slapped him across the face for two solid minutes.

March 30: Carlos Tevez is ruled out of Manchester City’s clash with Newcastle “because mama is making lasagna”.

April 11: The work-experience kid at Liverpool stumbles upon Andy Carroll in a cupboard in the lobby at Anfield, having been left there in January by West Ham with a “keep the change” note pinned to his shirt.

April 27: Real Madrid lose their first derby match to Atletico Madrid for the first time in, well, basically forever. Jose Mourinho plays himself at centre-back instead of Sergio Ramos, who has been banished to the moon in a special club-branded rocket, and passes to Falcao in the penalty area several dozen times. The result is a cricket scoreline. “I blame the referee,” the Portuguese fumes in the post-match press conference.

May 11: Plucky underdogs Chelsea emerge victorious in a scrappy FA Cup final, Frank Lampard’s 70th-minute penalty crushing Cheltenham Town at Wembley. A single Blues fan sings Rafa Benitez’s name in the stadium and is promptly beaten up.

May 19: The final day of the Premier League season. Sunderland look safe when they take a 3-0 lead into half-time away at Tottenham before all other teams learn of the situation and forfeit their own games, instead sending their best players by helicopter to put on Spurs shirts and turn the match around. Robin van Persie, Juan Mata and Sergio Aguero all score hat-tricks as the Black Cats lose 15-3 and are relegated to much rejoicing.

May 19: The party is only slightly more muted at Stamford Bridge, where Chelsea celebrate title triumph after successfully reeling in Manchester United’s 20-point lead. The home crowd shuffle awkwardly and permit Benitez a reluctant clap.

May 25: Real Madrid triumph in the Champions League final, beating Celtic 11-0 in a humiliation that makes for decidedly uncomfortable viewing. Jose Mourinho is promptly sacked.

June 6: Roman Abramovich happily declares that overwhelming fan support has caused him to change his mind and keep Rafa Benitez on for another season at Chelsea.

June 18: Confusion reigns as Nigeria are the surprise winners of the Under-21s European Championship in Israel, Obafemi Martins’ hat-trick in the final proving the difference against a clearly bewildered Spain side. “We’d fine them a tenner but Nigeria don’t fall under our jurisdiction,” Uefa declare, while a Caf spokesman shrugs: “You have to admit that they did well do win, considering the circumstances.”

July 1: After his Arsenal contract expires, Theo Walcott founds and signs for Theo Walcott FC in the Combined Counties Premier Division. “It’s the only way that I can guarantee myself playing time at centre forward,” he announces.

July 13: Having missed out on the top 10 by half a point once again, Stoke City boss Tony Pulis announces the signings of Nicky Butt, Nigel Winterburn and Robbie Fowler on one-year deals. “We could do with a bit more Premier League experience,” he grunts.

August 5: The evening before flying to Italy to finalise his transfer to AC Milan, Mario Balotelli throws an impromptu goodbye party in Manchester City centre, piggybacking in on Noel Gallagher before firing “Why Always Me?” T-shirts from a cannon on his shoulder into the adoring crowd. He then moonwalks into the sunset as Whitney Houston’s “I Will Always Love You” is broadcast loudly across the city.

August 17: Chelsea draw their opening game of the season 1-1 away at Tottenham. Roman Abramovich sacks Rafa Benitez.

August 24: A packed Stamford Bridge boos new manager Gary Megson so loudly that an alien spacecraft passing the outer edge of the solar system hears a faint noise and hovers over to investigate. The peaceful, enlightened race arrive in time to witness Wigan 0-0 Stoke City and fly away again in disgust.

August 31: The summer’s biggest transfer saga finally comes to a close. Arsenal, Liverpool, Manchester City and Chelsea all lose out as Swansea City agree a deal to sell Michu to Real Madrid for £45 million. He never plays a single game for Los Blancos and is loaned back to the Liberty Stadium 12 months later.

September 8: Manchester City’s pre-match preparations at Norwich City are disrupted when Carlos Tevez withdraws in the warm-up. “I’ve just noticed there’s a really good episode of ‘Diagnosis: Murder’ on the telly,” he explains.

September 16: The second season of ‘Being: Liverpool’ beings airing on British television. Seeking to enliven the format for a ratings boost, the arc plot involves a hunt to catch a mole inside the club while Joanna Lumley steps into the role of Steven Gerrard after the original actor left due to a contract dispute.

September 27: EA Sports releases Fifa 14 for PC, Xbox, Playstation, Wii, iPhone, Etch-a-Sketch and imagination. New features include “In Arsene We Trust” or “Wenger Out” banners in the crowds depending on how well you are playing with Arsenal, as well as the meerkat from the Compare The Market adverts as a special guest co-commentator. “Hey, he’s better than Andy Townsend,” remark games reviewers as they award it 10 out of 10.

October 12: Roman Abramovich sacks Gary Megson and hires former Cambodian genocide-purveyor Pol Pot as Chelsea manager, with one-time Liverpool ghost-goalscorer Luis Garcia as his assistant. The recently expanded Stamford Bridge is full to the brim with booing fans. Abramovich runs out onto the pitch and yells: “WHAT DO I HAVE TO DO TO MAKE YOU PEOPLE GO AWAY!?” before jumping in his Batmobile and driving away, never to be seen again.

October 26: The final episode of ‘Being: Liverpool’ airs with a plot twist that there had never been a mole all along. Daniel Agger reluctantly stops waterboarding the chief suspect.

November 2: British football is plunged into a race controversy as Tom Huddlestone beats Aaron Lennon in a 100-metre dash. Why, what did you think we meant?

November 18: Carlos Tevez takes a fortnight off: “I sneezed.”

November 30: All major bookmakers have Cristiano Ronaldo as odds-on favourite for the Ballon d’Or, having plundered a record-breaking 110 goals so far in 2013. Lionel Messi, on a mere 40 for the calendar year, is third favourite behind West Brom’s Jonas Olsson.

December 4: After Paul Lambert’s nephew sprains his ankle, Darren Bent finally makes the bench again, coming on as an 81st-minute substitute to score a hat-trick for Manor Park Primary School.

December 8: Lionel Messi scores 160 goals in one game against a shellshocked Real Sociedad. Bookmakers pay out on him winning the Ballon d’Or. Cristiano Ronaldo tearily retires from professional football.

December 17: Marouane Fellaini shaves his head. Years later, historians pinpoint this as “the day that football died”.

December 31: Arsenal end the calendar year in fourth place with 33 points.

Follow George Ankers on

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *