VAR DOMINATES ANOTHER WEEKEND
Not a single penalty or red card was given by VAR (video assistant referee) in the opening nine rounds of the Premier League, but on the weekend it made headlines by overturning five key decisions.
The trickiest decision came at the Emirates Stadium when a late Arsenal goal from Sokratis Papastathopoulos was overruled for a foul in the buildup from team mate Calum Chambers.
It would have been the winning goal as Crystal Palace had fought back from two goals down to rescue a 2-2 draw. Afterward, Arsenal boss Unai Emery criticised a lack of consistency from the match officials.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s Manchester United missed two penalties – both awarded after VAR interventions – in a 3-1 win over Daniel Farke’s Norwich City.
Both managers were far from impressed with the decisions.
“I’d be unhappy to get the first one against me, but Marcus (Rashford) did the honourable thing and missed it,” joked Solskjaer.
RELENTLESS LIVERPOOL MARCH ON
Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson believes an improved mentality under coach Juergen Klopp ensured they came from behind to overpower Tottenham Hotspur and restore their six-point lead at the top of the league table.
Striker Harry Kane found the net for Spurs inside a minute to stun the home crowd at Anfield on Sunday but Liverpool grinded out a victory after second-half goals from Henderson and Mohamed Salah.
“Mentality – that’s grown over the last few years. The gaffer has changed that so much in us,” Henderson said.
“Whenever we face adversity we bounce back and we need to carry that right through the season because it’s not going to go all our own way.”
XHAKA OUTBURST PILES ON ARSENAL AGONY
Arsenal captain Granit Xhaka clashed with home supporters in a dramatic incident during Sunday’s 2-2 draw with Crystal Palace, sparking concerns over his future at the north London club.
After the decision to substitute him was greeted with sarcastic cheers and booing at the Emirates Stadium, an incensed Xhaka cupped his hand to his ear as he stormed down the tunnel.
Arsenal boss Unai Emery refused to rule out stripping Xhaka of the club captaincy, while former striker Ian Wright wants the player to issue an apology to the fans.
“Arsenal fans have been patient with him. He owes them a lot more than that,” Wright told BBC. “He should apologise. That’s the guy Arsenal have chosen as captain… that’s not captain behaviour.”
PATIENCE WITH PULISIC PAYS OFF FOR CHELSEA
Christian Pulisic has taken his time finding feet at Chelsea since joining the west London club from Borussia Dortmund in the close season but the winger’s hat-trick against Burnley offered a timely reminder of his best qualities.
Pulisic has had to be patient in the face of stiff competition from Chelsea’s other young forwards and manager Frank Lampard’s decision to give the American time to adjust to his new surroundings now appears to be a smart choice.
“It was a special day,” the winger said after Chelsea had won 4-2. “I just want to be on the field, help the team and make an impact.”
GUARDIOLA WISHES LAPORTE BACK AMID DEFENSIVE CRISIS
Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola concedes the absence of Aymeric Laporte could prove critical when the club’s stretched defensive resources face elite oppositions this season.
The Premier League champions lost Oleksandr Zinchenko and Rodri, who had been covering at centre back in recent matches, to injuries last week as they join long-term absentee Laporte on the sidelines.
City’s recorded a convincing 3-0 win over Aston Villa on Saturday but Fernandinho gave Guardiola another defensive blow when he was sent off late in the match.
“I wish we had Laporte and everyone else come back,” said Guardiola, who will be without Fernandinho for Tuesday’s League Cup match against Southampton.
“Of course, against top teams when you don’t have the players who play in their own position I don’t know what happens.
“But before it is going to happen I am not going to say ‘it is a disaster’.”