5 things we learned from this weekend’s Premier League action
Liverpool saw their lead at the top of the table trimmed to six points after having to come from behind to draw with Manchester United at Old Trafford.
Manchester City got back on track following their loss to Wolves with a comfortable win at Crystal Palace, while Newcastle dropped into the relegation places following a defeat at Chelsea.
Here, the PA news agency looks at five things we learned from the Premier League this weekend.
VAR bar has been set too high
Dele Alli's late strike thwarts Watford in a pulsating encounter pic.twitter.com/4g9rL4IVGx
— Premier League (@premierleague) October 19, 2019
The company that provides the Premier League’s video assistant referee (VAR) technology had to apologise to Tottenham and Watford fans after an incorrect graphic made it appear that Dele Alli’s equaliser had been ruled out during Saturday’s 1-1 draw. But while that was (hopefully) a simple typo, the same game saw Watford’s appeals for a penalty turned down by referee Chris Kavanagh – and the VAR – after Gerard Deulofeu was brought down by Jan Vertonghen. More controversy raged in Manchester United’s game with Liverpool at Old Trafford when Marcus Rashford opened the scoring following a VAR check for Victor Lindelof’s challenge on Divock Origi before United broke to score. Former United defender Gary Neville, who was commentating on the game, echoed comments from Alan Shearer that the VAR is too reluctant to overturn mistakes from match officials, who themselves seem reluctant to use pitchside monitors to check decisions.
United miss out on morale-boosting win
While Manchester United undoubtedly needed the point more than Liverpool, a win against their fierce rivals and Premier League leaders could have made a major difference to their season. In the short term the extra two points would have lifted Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side to eighth in the table instead of 13th, while a win that few people outside of Old Trafford seriously expected could have been the spark required to kick-start their season and lift morale amongst the squad and fans.
Sometimes the table does lie
Everton began the weekend in the relegation zone and West Ham in eighth place, but anyone watching the game between the sides at Goodison Park would have thought the positions were reversed. The home side were vibrant from the outset and could have scored several more goals as they eased the pressure on under-fire manager Marco Silva. In contrast, West Ham were woeful – apart from back-up goalkeeper Roberto – and have failed to win any of their four games since beating Manchester United a month ago. That run includes a 4-0 humiliation at Oxford in the EFL Cup.
Raheem Sterling still has room for improvement
Sterling’s sublime chip to set up David Silva for Manchester City’s second goal at Crystal Palace deservedly came in for high praise and the England forward also produced one of the best tackles of the game at the other end of the pitch to dispossess Wilfried Zaha as he bore down on goal. However, Sterling also missed a gilt-edged chance to increase City’s advantage and will have been disappointed to squander the chance for a seventh league goal of the season.
Who needs ‘recognised’ centre-halfs?
Not Manchester City apparently, who were forced to field a makeshift central defensive pairing at Selhurst Park. With John Stones recently back from injury – and only able to take a place on the bench – and Nicolas Otamendi absent after suffering a knock while on international duty, Rodri had to drop back alongside fellow midfielder Fernandinho and the pair were largely untroubled as City ran out 2-0 winners. City manager Pep Guardiola was full of praise for the duo who proved that a good footballing brain and ability to read the game can make up for being played out of position.