The fourth round of the FA Cup has provided a couple of striking TV ties in Hull v Chelsea and Brentford v Leicester.
Not striking in a footballing sense – the opposite, if anything – but rather in their ability to remind us we’d much rather be watching the real versions of the clubs’ nicknames in action. Tigers v Pensioners? Sign us up. Bees v Foxes? An intriguing tactical battle on the level of one trillion lions versus the sun.
But why stop there? Why not open up the draw to the remaining 32 teams and let them have at it, true Royal Rumble style?
First of all, it’s time to trim the field. The Saints (Southampton) would gracefully withdraw from proceedings, while we have no idea what a Baggy (West Brom) or a Pompey (Portsmouth) actually is, so they’re out.
Reds (Liverpool) and Clarets (Burnley) only really work if someone’s smashing a bottle of wine over your head, and even then it’s a pretty one-dimensional line of attack.
The Sky Blues (Coventry City) take care of the Bluebirds (Cardiff City), the Canaries (Norwich City) and the Magpies (Newcastle United). Chelsea have a choice of the aforementioned Pensioners or the Blues, and… no. Birmingham City, another Blues, don’t even have that choice.
The pen is mightier than the sword, which means the U’s (Oxford United) and the R’s (QPR) immediately defeat the Blades (Sheffield United) but are defenceless against the Hammers (West Ham United) and Spurs (Tottenham Hotspur).
The Owls (Sheffield Wednesday) are nocturnal, avoiding the same fate as the other birds, but when they come to ground they’re ripped apart by the Tykes (Barnsley) and the Shrews (Shrewsbury Town) feast on their insides once they’ve taken a break from gorging on Cherries (Bournemouth).
As for the Cottagers (Fulham), we don’t see them having too great an impact on this battle, especially after Manchester City attempt to make a Citizens’ arrest.
Now it’s left to the big dogs… and the big cats. It’s a shame the Rovers (Tranmere) and the Hornets (Watford) got their replay out of the way before today, or else we’d have been able to develop a situation similar to Mr Burns’ dogs with bees in their mouths and when they bark they shoot bees.
We wouldn’t fancy anyone’s chances against that, especially with bees replaced by hornets.
As it is, though, the actual Bees (Brentford) would need to team up with Tranmere in a secret pact to stand any chance, and we sense a language barrier getting in the way of that.
The Cobblers (Northampton) also need a pact to stand any chance, but they’re mostly in the supply line rather than in the trenches and – as a wise man once said – “who throws a shoe?”
The Rams (Derby County) are a real wildcard here. They have the attributes to disrupt everything as they crash around, but do they have the tactics? In fact, maybe this holds the key to the actual Derby’s on-pitch failures, doing damage to everyone around them but falling short when it matters (the play-offs).
They should have enough to take the aforementioned Tykes out of the running until the real power-players chime in, though,
The Royals (Reading) will hunt down Leicester’s Foxes (SATIRE!), but if you expect them to succeed when left to their own devices against the Tigers (Hull) or Lions (Millwall) you’ve got another thing coming.
Now we understand why Harry and Meghan wanted to get out when they did.
You’d think that would be enough to earn them a two-way race for the belt, but you’re forgetting the Gunners (Arsenal) have been hiding behind their weapons the whole time, keeping a safe distance away from the mayhem and wiping out the survivors when they don’t need to risk using up more than one set of bullets.
Game over, right? Not quite.
The Red Devils (Manchester Unted) have been an enduring presence throughout, hitting the other contenders with the kind of stare that can cut through a man’s soul whenever anyone dares to look in their direction. Have you tried to kill the devil? Of course not, it’s impossible. Eventually, they come face to face with the snipers who have taken out every other remaining target, and welcome the Gunners into their fiery embrace.
Evil prospers in the end. Just like in life. And in the 2016 final.