The Christmas period is a crazy time in football. With matches coming thick and fast—particularly in the English Premier League, where every team plays four matches between December 21st and January 3rd—this period can be decisive in how the league will take shape. At such urgent moments, the strength of Iceland’s indefatigable warriors has a momentous impact on the fate of their footballing clubs and paymasters; empires can rise and fall with a horn’d header or the kick of a spiked boot. From Moscow to Cardiff, here’s what went down during Smitemas 2K18.
Arnór and Hörður inspire Madrid smiting
Real Madrid 0-3 CSKA Moscow, said the vidiprinter. We rubbed our eyes. Real Madrid 0-3 CSKA Moscow, it read again. Of course, it was a duo of courageous Icelandic snow leopards who powered Moscow to this historic against-the-odds smiting at Estadio Santiago Bernabéu. Arnór Sigurðsson provided the firepower up front, scoring his side’s third goal; Hörður Björgvin Magnússon shut out the Galacticos at the other end, leaving CSKA with an aggregate victory of 4-0 over the European Champions. On the home front, Iceland is also rocking the Russian top division—Moscow sit third in the Russian Premier League table, waiting for the opportune moment to pounce on leaders Zenit St. Petersburg—as they run screaming from the Viking-strengthened Moscow horde.
Grétar Steinsson named Toffees’ Senior Cub Pillager
Former Iceland and Bolton Wanderers smiter Grétar Steinsson left his role as Fleetwood Sporting Director this December to become Everton’s Senior Cub Pillager (Chief European Scout). Rumour has it that Grétar became so incensed with Joey Barton, the Fishermen’s manager, that he took it upon himself to leave the Lancashire club for fear of tearing cigar-assaulting bad boy Barton limb from limb. The move means Grétar now links up with Iceland’s talisman, Gylfi “Golden Boots” Sigurðsson at Goodison Park—and perhaps he’ll look to recruit some further Viking reinforcements to the stuttering Everton squad.
Aron heals Warnock’s soul
For decades, Neil Warnock has occupied the liminal space between the Premier League and the Championship. Despite brief company from the likes of Dwight Gayle, Graham Dorrans and the whole noughties West Brom squad, his habitat grew to embitter him, manifesting in an irrational (and hilarious) hatred of Carlos Tevez and West Ham. However, this season, even when his side were languishing in the relegation zone, he has been serene, humorous and well-mannered. Why, you ask? Because Aron “The Annihilator” Gunnarsson was always in the ranks. After “The Annihilator’s” return from injury, the Bluebirds have made the Cardiff City Stadium a fortress; the difference could secure their status in the top flight. The magic is in the beard.
Gylfi smites bird-brained pundits
Gylfi Sigurðsson has been lambasted in certain corners of the #fakenewsmedia since his £50 million move from Swansea to Everton. As recently as September, phlegmatic Sky Sports pundit Jamie Carragher was claiming that the “Viking Virtuoso” wasn’t contributing enough to his side. Gylfi has—of course—proven him wrong, notching eight goals and assisting a further three in the league. That tally puts him ahead of media darlings like Sadio Mané, Leroy Sané and Alexandre Lacazette in the goalscoring charts. “The Iceman” also ended his recent penalty hex against Burnley, scoring the Toffees’ third in a 5-1 route on Boxing Day, after having missed spot kicks against Fulham and Watford earlier in the season. Instead of criticising the best player outside of the top six, maybe Carragher should stick to long-range gobbing.
Burnley flounder without The Berg
Burnley’s unlikely status as “best of the rest” of the 2017-18 Premier League season seems even more incredible at this moment. Sean Dyche’s side have struggled from the start, and they occupy one of the three Premier League relegation spots at the halfway point this year. Why? One could point to the summer signing of washed-up perpetual conceder Joe Hart, whose ineptitude was compounded by a suddenly frail back line, and the injury of star man Jóhann Berg Guðmundsson. Despite a banging World Cup hangover, “The Berginator” has contributed directly to six of the Clarets’ 17 goals this season and will be integral to his side’s fight for survival. One thing is for sure: Burnley will need every inch of Jóhann’s fleet-footed skill to survive the relegation dogfight.