Serie A Review: Week 8

I’ve argued it for weeks, Serie A is on the up and whilst it’s yet to reach the heights of the 1990’s there is no doubt it’s been the standout league competition in Europe so far.

Champions Juventus suffered their first home defeat in more than 2 years at the hands of Lazio despite being awarded a controversial penalty in stoppage time.

Paulo Dybala was denied by Lazio stopper Thomas Strakosha to condemn the Vecchia Signora (the old lady) to a 2-1 defeat.

Cirro Immobile who began his career in Turin proved to be the difference netting twice at the Allianz Stadium. With Juve beaten the onus was on Maurizio Sari’s Napoli who faced a difficult trip to Roma and the league leaders didn’t disappoint. Lorenzo Insigne bagged his 100th career goal to ensure Sari’s men maintained their 100% record in the league so far.

Head almost 600km North-West to Italy’s second city and you’d have stumbled across the weekend’s standout fixture. The Derby Della Madonnina or otherwise known as the Milan Derby had Italian football fans drooling. Both Inter and AC Milan are currently under Chinese ownership and that adds an extra spice to what is already one of the games fiercest rivalries.

Mauro Icardi’s hat-trick was enough to secure the points and inflict more pressure on under fire Milan boss Vincenzo Montella. Despite Milan coming from behind twice they left empty handed after referee Paolo Tagliavento pointed to the spot on the 90th minute. The resulting spot-kick completed Icardi’s treble and his celebration of removing his shirt and holding it aloft to the crowd will live long in the memory of Inter supporters.

The current top four are separated by just five points and the title race is hotting up, if its entertainment you’re after this is certainly one to keep your eye on. As Napoli hunt their first scudetto since the days of Maradona it remains to be seen whether they can hold off the challenge posed by the current Champions Juventus, Inter and Lazio. A long way to go but things are shaping up nicely.


International’s aren’t that bad are they?

This weeks panel includes Kristan Heneage – football writer @FourFourTwo, ITVFootball and the @Guardian & Sports Journalist/Broadcaster Andy Wilson. The guys discuss the big stories from the World Cup 2018 Qualifiers & assess England’s chances in Russia next summer!

Ancelotti sacked, Koeman under fire, KDB’s strike & Delle the liar

Host @HarrySymeou is joined by panelists Dan De Luca, Simon Alavi and Tim Curtis to discuss the latest stories from the Premier League & European football.

On this weeks show…
Part 1: The sacking of Carlo Ancelotti and the future of Ronald Koeman.
Part 2: Giroud joins the 100 club and Delle Alli’s dive.
Part 3: Chelsea vs Man City & whether or not Roy Hodgson can save Crystal Palace.
Part 4: Serie A and La Liga roundups and a quick little quiz.

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Hat-trick for Harry & the legend of Gareth Barry

The team discuss Harry Kane’s hat-trick in Cyprus, Gareth Barry’s 633rd Premier League appearance, Morata vs Costa and whether Liverpool & Arsenal were right to keep their want away players this summer.

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Ref Watch with Mark Halsey

Our host Harry managed to grab a few minutes with former Premier League referee to discuss the sending off of Sadio Mane last weekend and the similar challenge by Matt Ritchie in the clash between Swansea and Newcastle.

Here is Mark’s take on both incident.

Do you agree?

Spurs break the Wembley curse

Harry Kane’s brace handed Spurs their first win at Wembley and ensured their Champions League campaign got off to a flyer. The 3-1 victory over Peter Bosz’s Borussia Dortmund side means Spurs have a real strong chance of progressing from undoubtedly one of the competitions toughest groups. Heung Min Son opened the scoring inside five minutes when his effort beat Roman Burki at his near post, the Korean international scoring his 7th goal versus Dortmund in 9 fixtures. However it wasn’t long before Yarmolenko leveled things for the away side with a stunning curling effort.

Dortmund to their dismay were only level for 4 minutes before Spurs restored their lead through Harry Kane. The England striker escaped the challenge of Sokratis and fired past Roman Burki who was beaten for a second time at his near post. No doubt some questionable goalkeeping from the Swiss international who arguably should have saved both efforts.

The German side posed a constant threat throughout the game and will be disappointed with the Italian official’s decision to rule out a perfectly good goal from Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang. Tottenham Hotspur once again turned to their talisman to put the game beyond doubt and Harry Kane’s low effort on the hour mark found the bottom corner and sealed the points.

Perhaps the only disappointment on a great night for the hosts was the late red card shown to Jan Vertonghen who was adjudged to have caught Mario Gotze with an arm.

Elsewhere, Real Madrid cruised to a 3-0 victory over APOEL Nicosia of Cyprus meaning they lead the group with Spurs in second.



Man City vs Liverpool Preview

The international break has been and gone.  Premier League football returns this weekend and the early kick off is a mouth watering clash between two of the most exciting teams the division has to offer.  Manchester City entertain Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool at Eastland’s.

Both of these clubs currently occupy the top four having both collected seven points thus far and you can be sure neither side will attempt to ‘park the bus’ in this one.

The home side have an array of attacking talent in their ranks but one area of the pitch would concern me from a City standpoint.  The heart of the midfield.

Liverpool’s trio of Can, Henderson and Wijnaldum is far more combative and if the likes of Silva and De Bruyne fail to put in a shift you could see the Red’s dominate in that key area of the park.

The City midfield certainly has the talent when in possession and if they click will be difficult to contain but I’m sure Jurgen Klopp will be aware of that.  I expect the Liverpool midfield to go out there, press and impose themselves physically on the game.

If they get that right there’s no doubt the likes of KDB and Silva will be out of their comfort zone and we’ll need to see them dig deep (something that doesn’t come naturally to them).

It can go either way but its clear to me the midfield battle will decide this one.

Team News:

Man City will be without Raheem Sterling, the England internationals red card at Bournemouth last time out means he will have to miss the visit of his former club through suspension.

Vincent Kompany didn’t feature for Belgium during the international break and there are still question marks over his fitness.  Pep Guardiola will have to make a late call and it remains to be seen whether his captain will be available for selection.

Ilkay Gundogan continues to work his way back to fitness after a long term injury but is unlikely to feature this weekend.

Liverpool welcome Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain into their squad but I’d be very surprised if he walked straight into the starting XI.

Philippe Coutinho made his first appearance of the season for Brazil during the international break and is now available for selection, it will be interesting to see how Klopp deals with this one.

The German boss has a number of decisions to make going into this one. Mignolet or Karius? Alexander-Arnold or Gomez? Robertson or Moreno?


I expect to see an entertaining fixture, all the evidence suggests both sides will feel they can win this.  Neither manager is known for their defensive competency and that can only mean goals.

Liverpool’s away form versus the rest of the top 6 under Jurgen Klopp has been nothing short of remarkable but equally on their day Man City are capable of decimating anyone.

Score draw for me!



Terry Phelan Interview

Our host Harry Symeou was joined by Terry Phelan. Terry won the FA Cup with Wimbledon’s ‘Crazy Gang’, went to the ’94 World Cup with the Republic of Ireland and had spells in the Premier League with Man City, Chelsea and Everton. We discussed his fantastic career, what it was like to be a part of the crazy gang, his experience at the world cup and what Terry is up to nowadays 🙂

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Terry Phelan Interview


England come from behind

England 2-1 Slovakia

A mediocre England performance was enough to pretty much seal their place in next summers world cup finals.  Last night’s opponents Slovakia trail group F leaders England by five points with just two games remaining and so one more victory would see England qualify. Another qualification group navigated with relative ease.

Gareth Southgate’s side failed to inspire in front of  the Wembley crowd and feared qualification would be out of their own hands for the 34 minutes Slovakia led the match.

Lobotka fired the Slovakian’s in front after just three minutes and the away side looked in control until Eric Dier’s smart finish levelled things just before half time.

Marcus Rashford’s impressive strike just short of the hour mark gave England all three points but the post match discussion will be dominated by the antics of Spurs’ midfielder Delle Alli.

Having felt he was fouled by Martin Skrtel, the Spurs man appeared to raise his middle finger towards the referee Clement Turpin.  Alli was quick to set the record straight after the game and claimed it was aimed at his ‘good friend’ Kyle Walker.

Should he face any retrospective punishment for his actions?

Let us know what you think…





“We are no Ajax” – CPFC Blog

Well this summer’s been eventful. I was gutted to lose ‘big Sam’ if I’m honest after what he’d achieved with us. It was more than just survival. He turned us into a powerful side who could compete with the top sides as was proven when we dismantled Arsenal at Selhurst Park.

We were unfairly labeled as a direct side under Allardyce. I’m not having that. We played with flair from Zaha and Townsend, had a powerful centre forward in Benteke and got the ball into him so he could bully both Arsenal and Chelsea. Cabaye is no long ball merchant and neither was Sakho so all this talk of FDB changing to a passing game from a long ball one is nonsense.

As I write this there is an article in the Guardian this morning intimating that FDB could be sacked. Surely not. I would be embarrassed as a football club if that were the case after just three games. Arsene Wenger gets longer and his side gave up yesterday.

Anyway back to FDB’s appointment. I was delighted to be honest. Dutch international, won the Dutch title 4 times as a manager and has the type of reputation that will attract players.

I also accept it’s a risk. I don’t want us getting delusions of grandeur. Let’s accept who we are. We’re Palace not Chelsea, Arsenal or Tottenham. We’re not a top four side, as much as I might dream. We have to accept that a good season would be to finish top of the West Brom’s and Stoke’s and an outstanding one would be top 8. I do wonder based on that theory whether someone like Sean Dyche would have been a better fit, but they went for FDB and I’m not disappointed.

Three games in, no points, no goals scored and all of a bit of a shambles really. Nevertheless to even consider removing the manager at this stage would be a bloody joke!

I’ve got nothing against us playing 3-4-3 and I’m not one who says we should change already, but we need the players at the back and in midfield to make it work effectively.

Against Huddersfield I was concerned before the game that we were playing a newly promoted side who basically had nothing to lose and would have taken a draw. Two defensive errors by Riedawald cost us and Huddersfield’s brutal approach to dealing with Zaha has left us without him for 4 weeks.

The huge positives were our two loan signings Loftus-Cheek and Fosu-Mensah. Both are absolutely outstanding. Seriously top drawer.

The disappointments were Puncheon, Luka Milivojevic and Benteke. Luka has been a bitter disappointment in all games so far and cost us the game at Liverpool and was taken off at half time against Huddersfield. He was substituted again on Saturday and Cabaye made a massive difference when he came on.

I thought we played well at Anfield. Tomkins came in for Riedewald and gave us a solid look at the back. FDB went for 5 in midfield and two up top and it worked well. Loftus-Cheek and Fosu-Mensah again the two stand out performers. Benteke should have scored a relatively simple chance which would have put us one up and we would not have lost from that position, but Luka’s mistake cost us around the 75th minute and there was no coming back from that.

This Saturday was the biggest shambles. We should beat Swansea, they’re not particularly good but we were really, really poor, especially in the first half.

We have a real issue at the moment because FDB wants to play football from the back but we have a goalkeeper who doesn’t really know whether to pass it out or kick it long. We have a centre back in Scott Dann who doesn’t really want to play football from the back and we’ve got midfield players who don’t really show for the ball.

Add to this that the crowd are getting nervous every time the ball is played to the centre backs, which then panics them into doing something stupid. It’s not a good feeling at Selhurst at the moment.

We have no width either without Zaha and no real flair to open teams up. Townsend was excellent on Saturday and Fosu-Mensah again absolutely outstanding, but you can’t win games in the Prem with two players.

Cabaye and Loftus-Cheek have to form the central midfield two. I’d play Townsend as the right wing back and Jeffrey Schlupp as the left as he’s far better than Patrick Van Aanholt.

Wilf plays on the wing (obviously) and I’d rival Bournemouth for the signing of Demarai Gray to play on the other, with Benteke down the middle.

We have to sign two centre forwards as Benteke has no competition. If Dwight Gayle is seriously for sale at Newcastle I’d buy him back and add one more.

Finally, if we seriously want to play football from the back we have to sign Sakho. No mucking about if Liverpool want 30 million pay the money!!! He’s a revelation. I said it last season but he’s the best Centre Back I’ve ever seen play for Palace. If you play Fosu-Mensah and either Riedawld or Tomkins on the other side we’ve got a good back three.

I’d sign a new keeper and then give FDB until Christmas to sort us out. When you consider it took Allardyce ten games to get his message across and he knows the Prem, you can’t judge Frank after just 3!

Give the bloke time, the fans have to be patient with the system and let’s see how we go. He could be everything I’m hoping he will be. But at the moment “we’re no Ajax”.

Mark Storey


Belgium qualify for Russia 2018

Belgium became the first European nation to seal qualification for the 2018 World Cup in Russia.

Roberto Martinez’s side traveled to the Giorgos Karaiskakis stadium in Piraeus to take on the 2004 European champions knowing a victory would seal their place in next years world cup finals.

Spurs defender Jan Vertonghen opened the scoring on 70 minutes but the lead only lasted 3 minutes before the hosts leveled through Zeca.

Manchester United striker Romelu Lukaku took center stage just a minute later to guide his header past the helpless Orestis Karnezis.  The Watford goalkeeper couldn’t believe the Belgian striker was allowed that kind of space just moments after the home side drew level!

Belgium posses one of the most talented squads in Europe so there is certainly no shame in losing to them but the context of this defeat could prove to be something of a ‘Greek Tragedy’.

Bosnia-Herzegovina took advantage of the result and with their 4-0 victory over Gibraltar moved into the play-off spot leaving the Greek’s in a spot of bother.

Bosnia-Herzegovina host Belgium next whilst Greece travel to their old friends Cyprus and so the race for the play-off spot remains wide open.  Group H promises an exciting conclusion and is certainly one to keep your eye on.




Premier League Review Show: Match Week 3

Our host Harry is joined by Football Journalist Dale O’Donnell (@ODonnellDale) and Memz (@FT_Reaction) from the FT Reaction. We discussed at length the problems around Arsenal Football Club, Manchester Uniteds title credentials and the futures of De Boer and Bilic.

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Premier League Review Show: Match Week 3

Four Reasons Arsenal are in this Mess

The transfer window has closed and Gunners fans all over the world have been left frustrated by the clubs failure to add to their underperforming squad.  Sound familiar?  This has been an ongoing issue since the club left Highbury for the Emirates Stadium but I find it astonishing that so many of the clubs faithful believed this summer would be any different.

The club has stagnated, the managers best days are behind him and the board are a cancer on this once great club.  The supporters feel cheated and rightly so but what can we do about it?  The answer is not very much.  Protests, banners and chants will all be in vein because Arsenal football club are a money making machine and that is the sole reason Stan Kroenke decided to descend upon our shores in the first place.  As long as the club continues to record profits the American owner certainly won’t be going anywhere.

Some choose to blame Wenger, others point the finger at the board but I believe it’s a combination of factors and therefore a far more complex issue to resolve.

Stan Kroenke & the Board

Arsenal’s majority shareholder currently owns the Los Angeles Rams and the Colorado Rapids; you only need to look at how those sports teams are performing to understand he’s only in it for the paper.  He’s a ruthless businessman who spotted an opportunity to grow his fortune and whilst it makes financial sense there is no hope of him walking.

The club has taken their loyal fan base for a ride and the early acquisition of Alexandre Lacazette was a smoke screen for what was always going to be a frustrating summer.  When will the fans understand that whilst Stan Kroenke sits at the helm with Wenger as his right hand man things will never change.  Like it or not, Arsenal FC are now a selling club with the number one aim of turning a profit.

The board consists of businessmen loyal only to the bank.  A panel of dinosaurs who don’t understand the game, value financial success above that of the team and disregard the fans who ultimately make this club what it is.  Not a football man in sight and nobody with the ‘cohones’ to challenge the majority shareholder.  A closed community united only by their greed.


During the last few days we’ve heard conflicting reports regarding the financial situation at the club.  On Wednesday night we were led to believe that the club were all out of cash and on Thursday we reportedly made a £92m bid for Monaco star Thomas Lemar.  Who do you believe?

During the 2016/17 season Arsenal spent a total of £96.3m on transfers, whether Arsene spent it well enough is a totally different discussion.

The board and ownership (rightly or wrongly) clearly feel the club cannot afford to outlay that kind of money for a second summer in a row.  Here is my theory as to why…

The club recognized that their two biggest assets (Sanchez and Ozil) were unwilling to sign contract extensions and therefore they stand to lose a substantial amount of money.  Arsene may have made a plea to the board and requested the permission to keep those two players at all costs even if it meant losing them on a free transfer come May.

The board accepted this but on the conditions Wenger would need to trim down the wage bill and recuperate some of the money spent over the past two seasons to compensate their sell on value depreciating.  Arsene opted to keep Sanchez and Ozil rather than trying to replace them with the likes of Thomas Lemar and all the other stars we were linked with.

I know what you are thinking, but Arsenal made a late bid for Lemar!  Perhaps Arsene, in his panic thought the club would sell Alexis anyway and had to act on some form of contingency plan.  When the Lemar deal became impossible Arsene pulled the plug on the Sanchez deal and the panic was over.

Yes, the reported bid for Lemar was huge but when you look at what the club were going to receive from the sale of Sanchez plus the profit we’d already made over the summer, in particular on the Oxlade-Chamberlain deal it still would have balanced the books.

As fans it will remain a mystery but that’s just some food for thought, like I said just a theory.

Arsene Wenger

The boss has come under fire more than ever in the past couple of seasons and the lack of progress on the field is clear for all to see.  You could argue he’s failed to sign the right players with the funds that were at his disposal.  His weak leadership and tactical incompetence have played a big part in Arsenal’s omission from the top four and things will only get worse.

He appears to have lost the dressing room and during the recent defeat at Anfield looked a broken man.  You could argue that the aforementioned contract situations mean we are unable to offer the kind of pay packets some of our competitors can.  But you’d be foolish to underestimate the impact Wenger is having on those stars.  It’s clear there is a lack of faith in the manager’s ability to restore Arsenal to the pinnacle of English football and the air of invincibility and power the board award Wenger with is counter productive in so many ways.

For this club to move forward, regain its competitive edge and be able to attract the calibre of players we once did he simply has to go.

The move to the Emirates Stadium

Arsenal moved to the state of the art Emirates Stadium back in 2006.  The idea behind the move was to increase revenue and put us on a level playing field financially with some of Europe’s elite clubs.  At the time the building of the stadium was sanctioned this in theory made perfect sense.

The Arsenal leadership could not have foreseen the rise in the Premier League’s TV revenue or the impact of the billionaire owner.  At the time the move was proposed you could forgive the board for thinking an increase in gate receipt revenue would propel them above most of the divisions other clubs and give them greater spending power.

The Premier Leagues TV revenue growth has meant that the clubs are now on something of a more level playing field.  Of course you still have your super spenders but this increased income means the likes of West Brom, Watford and Huddersfield have all been able to spend substantial amounts of money on players.

The consequence being that the league becomes more competitive and the advantage of having a bigger stadium becomes less significant in the modern era.

I’m not making excuses for the way the club is being run but its fair to say the landscape of the Premier League has changed and that would have been difficult to forecast.



A Troubling Time To Be A Gooner

Premier League: Liverpool 4-0 Arsenal 4:00pm – Firmino ’17, Mane ’40, Salah ’57, Sturridge ’78.

I’m not usually the type to delve into the darkest depths of my vocabulary after my team has suffered defeat but on this occasion I am well within my rights.  What the f*ck was that?!  Arsenal looked like nothing more than relegation candidates and that’s being kind.  I started this project prior to the season and up until now I feel I have been fair on the manager and the team.  In the past I’ve criticized those who sensationalize our failures and call for the manager’s head each and every time we are beaten.  I thought about writing this particular segment later on in the week when perhaps I’d have cooled off a little.

Well this time, I’m not going to wait, I’m not going to hold back and I’m going to record the troubling thoughts that have been going around in my head since Sunday afternoon.

Arsene Wenger simply has to go.  Have I said this before? Yes.  Have I gone back on myself in the past? Yes.  Will I make a u-turn if we’re able to string together a run of positive results? Absolutely not!  Sadly, this time there is no going back!  Like a blue bottle fly circling a pile of dog sh*t on the side of the road he just won’t leave us alone and refuses to accept the current team is something the rest of us see as exactly that, a pile of sh*t that stinks of failure!

When talking about Arsene Wenger it’s so easy to refer to past failures and use them as proof of my points but I want to stick to the here and now so I’m focusing solely on this embarrassing defeat and our season so far, yes the whole three weeks of it!

Team selection

For the second week in a row I found myself scratching my head when the lineup was announced.  If I was to look at a scripture in ancient Egyptian hieroglyphics it would have made more sense to me than this particular Arsenal team sheet.

Laurent Koscielny returned from his suspension, Shkodran Mustafi had come through 90 minutes at Stoke and club captain Per Mertesacker was available for selection.  Any logical human being would think “great, that means we can play the so far impressive Sead Kolasinac in his actual position of left wing back, get some natural central defenders out there and put our defensive woes behind us.”  Not Arsene Wenger.

Does he sit there pre-match and think to himself “What can I do to really p*ss off the fans today?” because it certainly feels like that most of the time.  His decision to leave Mustafi on the bench tells me the German international is set on a move to Internazionale as reported.  The inclusion of Rob Holding was nothing short of a catastrophe and Hector Bellerin was once again played out of position to accommodate Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain.  The same Oxlade-Chamberlain that turned down £180k per week in wages because he feels he’s worth more than that!?  I need not repeat my thoughts on the clubs most overrated player.

He looks to be on his way to Chelsea after its been reported the clubs have an agreement in place, so it’s no wonder he looked so disinterested at Anfield.

I mentioned in my analysis of the Stoke game last week that Aaron Ramsey resembles a headless chicken, he continues to ignore his defensive duties and was once again nowhere to be found when Liverpool opened the scoring.  He appeared to be communicating with the bench at the time and was completely unaware of where the ball was, let alone the danger.

Daniel De Luca, a regular on the Sofa Sports News podcast told me that he feels Rambo is a number 10 to which I replied “he’s a donkey.”  Dan then proceeded to agree with me “he is a donkey, but if I were to race him in the donkey derby he would wear the number 10 on his back”.

That there, pretty much sums up my thoughts on the player.  A man who clearly craves the license to join attacks without worrying about what’s behind him, a player who believes he is far better than he really is.  He may have been a standout player for Wales at Euro 2016 but let’s face it, the rest of that team is pretty sh*t isn’t it.

The current midfield lacks balance with Ramsey’s meaningless expeditions being one of the main issues.  Our best performance this season came at Wembley versus Chelsea in the Community Shield and it’s no coincidence that Mohamed El Neny was included that day.  Not necessarily the most talented player at the club but one who certainly knows his responsibilities and who’s priorities are to fulfill his defensive obligations.

Mesut Ozil proved nothing on the day, other than the fact he’s getting better and better at impersonating ‘Casper the friendly Ghost’.  I’ve spoken about balance and I made this point after the defeat at Stoke.  Ozil and Ramsey simply do not belong in the same starting XI, Granit Xhaka is being made the scapegoat.  Just like Mikel Arteta before him, the Swiss international will find it impossible to impress in a midfield that lacks any discipline.

I can see it, I’m sure you can see it but why doesn’t Arsene Wenger see it? That my friends is the million dollar question.

Alexandre Lacazette joined the club over the summer in a record breaking transfer, the club splashed out in excess of £50m on the French international only to leave him on the bench against one of our biggest rivals.  Instead the honest but let’s face it, useless Danny Welbeck got the nod leaving me and many other Arsenal fans astounded.

Not only has a man who’s scored just 11 league goals since his arrival 3 years ago been picked ahead of our record signing but he’s also been preferred to Olivier Giroud, a striker who has a far superior goal record and would have offered the kind of threat Liverpool have been tormented by in recent seasons.

“We want Wenger Out” was the chant coming from the Anfield Road end of the stadium after the final whistle.  Whilst the media rain cloud gathers above the Emirates, the future of Alexis Sanchez is now even more of a concern.  The window closes in just a matter of days and City have reportedly offered Raheem Sterling and a sum of cash to try and persuade the Arsenal to sell.  Worrying times ahead as the Arsenal exodus seems to be gaining momentum.



Premier League Review: Match Week 2

The panel discuss the second round of English Premier League fixtures – Spurs’ wembley jinx continues, Arsenal suffer defeat at the hands of Stoke, Pep snatches a late draw and Utd march on. We discuss all the big talking points and tear each other to pieces!

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