Another week of Premier League football is in the books, and controversy reigned supreme this time around. The Merseyside Derby, always a pretty heated affair, contained a number of flashpoints that caused social media to explode. Elsewhere Manchester United got back to winning ways, whilst Newcastle and Crystal Palace managed to turn in a couple of the least ambitious performances you will see all season.
With all that in mind, here’s the good, the bad and ugly of matchweek five.
A first point for Sheffield United, Fulham and Burnley
Every team in the league is now off the mark, and whilst the matches that gained these teams their first points were definitely not entertaining it is good for each of them to end their losing streaks. The Blades needed a late penalty to rescue a point at home to Fulham, but probably deserved their draw having created arguably the better half chances. Fulham will rue that missed penalty by Mitrovic though. It could prove very costly come the end of the season. The less said about West Brom vs Burnley, the better.
Aston Villa’s start to the season
Having thumped Liverpool last time out, Villa faced another stiff test with a trip to the KingPower to take on Leicester. A good allround performance against an admittedly depleted Foxes side was capped with a last gasp Ross Barkley goal to seal the three points. Barkley, after a fantastic display against Liverpool, continued to set down a marker in this Villa team. With Jack Grealish handling the creative side of things, and Ollie Watkins being a nightmare for defenders with his pace and movement, Barkley is able to drive forward with and without the ball, safe in the knowledge that McGinn and Douglass Luiz are keeping things secure behind him. It’s all working out very well for Villa, the only team with a 100% record thus far – though they have played one game less then the majority.
West Ham’s doggedness
It’s rare that a team comes back from 3-0 down, and it’s even rarer that they do it away from home. West Ham looked dead and buried after 16 minutes with Spurs in rampant form and the Hammers looking completely lost. If someone had told you, after 20 minutes, that there was going to be three more goals, you’d have bet your life savings that Spurs would have scored all of them, and maybe more. A combination of Spurs taking their foot off the gas and West Ham refusing to go away gave this game a ridiculous ending with Manuel Lanzini bagging an early contender for goal of the season.
The Offside Rule
Sorry, but it’s just ridiculous that offsides are now linked to the handball rule and that an arbitrary point on a players arm is the deciding factor in whether or not a player is offside or not. What a complete and utter farce.
Newcastle and Crystal Palace having no ambition
Between them, they managed 5 shots on target and averaged 35% possession. In home games. Against a Manchester United team in disarray, and a Brighton team who’d lost three of their first four games. It’s simply not acceptable. Both teams took the lead early on in their games. Both got lucky goals, Luke Shaw put through his own net to give Newcastle their goal whilst the penalty awarded against Tariq Lamptey was the softest penalty you’ll see all year.
It’s five games into the season, showing that little ambition is simply unacceptable at this point of the season. Roy Hodgson and Steve Bruce are holding their teams back. Palace in particular should be ashamed of their performance. One shot on goal, one shot on target. The penalty. A 0.00 non-penalty xG. At home, against Brighton. Embarrassing.
West Brom vs Burnley
That’s it. That’s the entry. As ugly a game of football as you’ll see all season.
Lewis Dunk and Richarlison will both serve three game bans for deserved red cards received this past week. Dunk for arguably the stupidest tackle you’ll see all season, launching himself two footed at his opponent IN THE OPPOSITION PENALTY AREA!!!, and Richarlison for a disgusting foul on Thiago Alcantara. Richarlison has a history of this sort of thing and is lucky that the Premier League can’t review his case and enforce a longer ban because it was unquestionably malicious.
Jordan Pickford should be joining them on the sidelines for an extended period. His tackle on Virgil Van Dijk, which has likely ended the Liverpool defenders’ season, was reckless and dangerous. Pickford, who has a history of these types of tackles, was somehow let off scot-free and the PGMOL have proceeded to lie about whether or not it was reviewed. It wasn’t, everyone knows it wasn’t and it’s a disgrace that it wasn’t.
Tweedledum and Tweedledee
David Coote and Michael Oliver. What a comedy duo these pair make. Each as incompetent as the other, both utterly dreadful as match referees and even worse in the role of VAR. That neither of them deemed the Pickford tackle worthy of even a yellow card shows they are not fit to be involved in the game at the highest level. The pair have history. Oliver was the referee, and Coote the VAR, when Giovani LoCelso was allowed escape punishment for his horror tackle on Cesar Azpilicueta last season. Their shambolic handling of the Pickford tackle should be no surprise.
Nor should their roles reversed display during Leeds vs Wolves. Wolves had a goal disallowed for offside, but no check was made of the seemingly obvious handball by Conor Coady in the build-up which in itself thwarted a potential counter attack for Leeds. In the dying moments, a blatant kick out by Raul Jimenez on Robin Koch was allowed to go unpunished.
If these two are allowed to continue to referee Premier League games, more players will get hurt.