Sport on TV: When the going gets weird, Pleat finds his feet

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The Independent Football

But what about the weirdest 20? Well, that's easy too, after Tuesday night: Arsenal 2-0 up, Juventus falling apart, Tyldesley and David Pleat agog on ITV1.

The strangeness had kicked in earlier. I'm told the twitchers massing in Peckham for a sight of Turdus migratorius (do your own jokes) upped sticks and headed northwards for a chance to see an even rarer bird, Tacklus robertuspirus. A Robert Pires tackle - on Patrick Vieira of all people - leading to the first goal.

Then just past the hour, the night sky fell in on Juve while Arsenal were ascending to cloud nine, mesmerising their visitors: Jose Antonio Reyes to Alexander Hleb, a Thierry Henry back-heel to Cesc Fabregas, Henry again, Gilberto, Hleb again, a Fabregas shot - "a thrilling passage of play", Tyldesley slavered, while for Pleat it was like "a Friday-morning five -a-side - wonderful skill, magnificent football". And then the second goal. A signorina spotted herself on the big screen and broke into a huge smile - until she remembered the score.

A couple of minutes later Vieira was booked for a foul on Reyes. "He can say goodbye to his Arsenal mates here," Tyldesley said, "because he'll be watching the return leg." The Frenchman wore his trademark slightly distant, slightly pained look. Then Reyes nutmegged him and he looked slightly more pained.

And on it went: Henry leaving Jonathan Zebina for dead on the wing - "sports car versus saloon car", said Tyldesley; Pires working his derrière off in the holding role... "It's olé football by Arsenal," Tyldesley said, while Pleat was more concerned with Italian heads dropping. "There's an air of embarrassment at the moment," he said.

What we really needed was Barry Davies to provide a moral dispatch from Olympian heights. But Pleat proved he was ready to mount his high horse for a gallop round the ethical paddock. With 12 minutes left David Trezeguet trudged off. "He went straight down the tunnel, disappointed," Pleat said. "But I'm disappointed in him, and I'm disappointed in [Adrian] Mutu."

Then Henry took the ball past Vieira and Zebina, again. "He almost looked Vieira in the eyes," said Tyldesley, "and said, 'Fancy going for a run, Patrick?' And Vieira said, 'Not me, mate, sorry." It was "frightening", Pleat said. "Nothing left in the Juventus tank, that's for sure."

With three minutes left, off went Mauro Camoranesi for what Tyldesley called "the swipe of an angry and frustrated man". Pleat fulminated: "A pathetic challenge," he tutted. "They've become a bedraggled side. When you get tired, you lose heart, you lose discipline." And as he padded off, blowing kisses, Tyldesley was astounded. "What on earth is all this about?" he wondered. "This is what happens when players think they're bigger then the club," Pleat informed him. Then Zebina joined Camoranesi in the Early Bath of Shame. "His brain's gone," said Pleat.

The Juve coach, Fabio Capello, looked on like a bystander at a car crash. "Dumbfounded," said Tyldesley, "absolutely dumbfounded. One of the great European coaches lost for words, head spinning." It wasn't just Capello, though; it was all of us.

Meanwhile, in Footballers Wives (ITV1, Thursday), the magnificent Tanya and Joan Collins' homicidal publisher Eva De Wolffe (sample mags: Glam, Glam Teen and Glam Eat) were warring over Earls Park's Brazilian import, Paolo. Eva had taken him to La Traviata (at the "National Opera House"), but Tanya had a box near theirs. Once he'd spotted her, Paolo was out of his box and into Tanya's sharpish. "I suppose every dog needs a lamppost to piss on," Eva fumed.

The part of club captain, Tremaine Gidigbi, by the way, is played by Chucky Venice. I just needed to share that with you.