Under the blue sky in the blue part of Merseyside in North West of England, the English Premier League returned following a two weeks interruption due to the unwanted international break.
Everton or let’s say Merseyside Blue, a colour “Walter White” will be particularly keen on, kicked off proceedings for matchday nine with a win against West Ham last Saturday which ended a run of five straight league defeats, and also saved Marco Silva from getting the P45 at least for now.
Saturday’s round of action continued with Bournemouth playing out a barren draw against Norwich, Leicester maintaining their impressive form with victory over Burnley, Chelsea also edging out Newcastle, Watford earning an impressive point away from home at Spurs, while City completed the day with victory over Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park.
Then on Sunday, two arch-rivals, Manchester United and Liverpool played out 1-1 draw at Old Trafford. Matchday nine round of games concludes when Sheffield United welcome Arsenal to the Bramall Lane on Monday.
Nevertheless, Soccernet.ng takes a look at some of the talking points from the games that went down over the weekend.
VAR Farce: The technology may not be liked by everyone, but the way the EPL have used it this season has brought more controversies than when it was not adopted. In fact, it has brought more questions than answers this season.
On Saturday, Manchester City and Watford had what looked like a genuine penalty shouts, but VAR decided to stick with the decision of the on-field referee.
Then in United’s game against Liverpool, Marcus Rashford’s goal should have been chalked off following a foul on Origi in the build-up to the goal. However, after a VAR review, the decision of Martin Atkinson stood which left fans baffling.
While VAR is supposed to eliminate controversial calls, it has not done that in England, and that’s because of the way it is used. In the Premier League, the match official does not have access to an on-screen monitor, so he relies on the decision of VAR officials in the technology room.
And most of the time, these VAR officials are not brave enough to overrule the decision of the on-field referees so as not show the incompetence of English referees.
The rule guiding VAR in England says it can only be used for clear and obvious errors like a penalty call or offside decision. This explains why Atkinson’s decision to award Rashford’s goal stood as it was not a clear or obvious error.
However, maybe it’s time for the Premier League to take a cue from the way VAR is used in the Italian Serie A, La Liga and Bundesliga where the technology has been a success at least to an extent.
Yes, the English love to do their things differently, probably because they feel they are more intelligent than others. But maybe it is time for them to chew a humble pie, and follow the route of other European Leagues if VAR is to be a success in the Premier League.
Liverpool To Match Invicinbles? : For about 84 minutes it looks like Liverpool’s unbeaten start to the season was about to come to an end at Old Trafford until Adam Lallana popped up a minute later to finish from close range, and earn a point for Klopp’s men.
Although they had most of the calls go against them, the League leaders were far from their best and were lucky to salvage a draw. However, they showed the stuff of champions which is grinding out a result even when they are not at their best.
The result also means they haven’t been beaten in the League since January, and who says they can’t go on to equal Arsenal’s feat of 49 games unbeaten run.
Champions Bounce Back: City’s title defence suffered a huge blow two weeks ago when Wolves stunned Guardiola’s men at the Etihad. The result left them eight points adrift of Liverpool and were in danger of falling further behind when they travelled to Selhurst Park.
Crystal Palace have been some sort of bogey team for City in recent seasons, but the Champions were able to overcome the challenge of the Eagles to put themselves back in the title race. With Liverpool’s draw against United, the title race is now back on and all eyes will on the huge clash between the top two on November 9.
Spurs Slump Continues: It’s funny how fortunes change quickly in football. Just over five months ago, Spurs were Champions League finalists, but five months later their hopes maintaining their top four status is in questioning.
The Lilywhites poor run of form continued on Saturday as they needed a controversial late goal from Dele Alli to salvage a point against Watford. It means Pochettino’s men now have just one win in their last five games in all competitions. With Liverpool up next, things are not looking good for Spurs.
Solskajer Buys Himself More Time: Prior to United’s draw against Liverpool, there were rumours from certain quarters that Solskjaer could be given the boot if his side loses the game.
However, with the draw, the Norwegian has bought himself some time, but for how long is the question? United have just two wins in the league this season and are currently two points above the relegation zone. It’s just a matter of time before United board decide they have had enough of Solskjaer unless he turns it around quickly.