The Run of Play is a blog about
the wonder and terror of soccer.

We left the window open during a match in October 2007 and a strange wind blew into the room.

Now we walk the forgotten byways of football with a lonely tread, searching for the beautiful, the bewildering, the haunting, and the absurd.

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A Line Under Sunday, February 3

Eduardo calmly gestures.Man City 1 – 3 Arsenal — If you can imagine this match as a symphony, and imagine that the harmonic range and expressiveness of the music were contained in the style and spirit of play, then you will know what I mean when I picture the concert-mistress in her black dress, striding out before the crowd, tucking her violin under her chin, and tuning the whole orchestra to the sustained sound of “I’m only on because you’re shit.”

Reading 0 – 2 Bolton — “Nicolas who?” I imagine a Bolton supporter to have shouted as the match wound to a close. But he didn’t fully trust his own statement. His stomach felt a little queasy on the train ride home, and on the steps outside his house he had to stop for a second, holding the iron rail, because his legs were shaking.

Birmingham 1 – 1 Derby — I took a class on the theory of relativity in college. I’m pretty sure the professor would have argued that an away draw against Birmingham represented an epic triumph for a Derby team that had gone 21 games without a win. But don’t try telling me that. I will throw out Einstein if I have to. I will throw out the theory of gravity. You don’t want to know how savagely I am prepared to reduce the universe to its essential components of disorder and madness in order to avoid saying anything nice about this game.

Tottenham 1 – 1 Man Utd — Everyone’s been criticizing Man Utd for being a one-man team recently. To be fair, though, based on the evidence of this match, that man is Michael Dawson.

Blackburn 0 – 0 Everton — Admirable overachievers who never quite break through into real success everywhere are gamely studying, eagerly analyzing, and slightly misapplying the lessons of this game.

Wigan 1 – 0 West Ham — Good for Wigan. Then again, I’m convinced that Wigan are the one team in the Premier League that absolutely no one outside their stadium knows anything about. Can you prove me wrong? Seriously, don’t tell me.

Portsmouth 1 – 1 Chelsea — This one was always going to be a clash of managerial styles: the raw power and derring-do of Harry Redknapp vs. the ineffable, wistful, sad-clown, martyr-to-the-stage charisma of Avram Grant. Honestly, I’m just glad it ended in a draw. It was like watching Zorro in a fight with Edith Piaf.

Liverpool 3 – 0 Sunderland — So, um…Rafa Benitez is a good manager, and Liverpool fans aren’t just insanely supporting his chronic underachievement because they hate the club’s owners so much. Is that where we are this week?

Newcastle 1 – 1 Middlesbrough — Sometimes, looking at what’s going on in Newcastle lately, all I can do is make sputtering, inarticulate, noncommittal sounds. “Kerp.” That’s my take on this game. My take on this game is “Kerp.”

Fulham 2 – 1 Aston Villa — You know, I never know what to make of Aston Villa. I think Martin O’Neill is a good coach, but is it possible he’s just a little too wry to communicate principles of sound defending to his team? Could wryness be the issue here? Are Aston Villa simply not wry enough?

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A Line Under Sunday, February 3

by Brian Phillips · February 4, 2008

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