What We Learned: Matchweek Six

Kevin Friend shows Lucas Digne a red card for a foul on Kyle Walker-Peters. (Photo courtesy of Frank Augstein/ PA Images)

After a brief two week hiatus, we are back again to look back at all the Premier League action from the weekend. Trust me, after what we saw the last two weeks, you would want to take a break too. The season has yet to disappoint, with even more shock results and top-class goals. It is still in the early stages, but this is shaping up to be quite the exciting season. Although there is plenty to talk about, here are the main things that stuck out to me in week six.

VAR: Still as Miserable as Ever.

Liverpool fans were left stumped after the replay of Fabinho’s tackle on Oli McBurnie showed the Brazilian won the ball first and was outside the box, yet was somehow determined by VAR to have been a foul and inside the box for a penalty.

Elsewhere Harry Maguire was busy taking Cesar Azpilicueta to the ground with a gracious bear hug. The type of thing VAR is there to spot. But it didn’t even warrant a check according to the officiating crew.

I could go on, but these were the two glaring mistakes. It is becoming ridiculous how often we are talking about VAR. Every single week, multiple games, multiple errors. And the harshest punishment we have seen so far is a week off from officiating, or relegation to fourth referee duties. The amount of errors seems to be unique to the English game, and the English FA needs to sort this out promptly.

Sander Berge scores from the spot for Sheffield United. (Photo courtesy of Sporting Life)

It’s Lonely at the Top, So Keep Company

Both Aston Villa and Everton lost in decisive fashion on the weekend, with a stunning Patrick Bamford hat-trick for Leeds and a double assist performance from Danny Ings for Southampton taking down the pair of league-leaders. Despite their impressive starts to the season, neither club has been able to seize control of the top.

This leaves the table wide open for the taking as we continue what I believe could be one of the most exciting seasons of the Premier League era. In the times of Liverpool and Manchester City dominance, it is important to take this into perspective. By this point last year, the gap between first and fifth place was seven points. Right now, six points separate first place and 15th place. There is still plenty of room at the top and most of the league is still in the hunt. At least for now.

Oh How the Mighty Struggle

Not to lessen the achievements of clubs like Everton and Aston Villa, but another defining characteristic of this season is the big boys failing to fill their shoes. Neither Manchester United or Chelsea could find a breakthrough. Arsenal fell to a late Jaime Vardy goal despite being the better side for a majority of the match. And Manchester City were only able to scrape a point after being stunned by a Michail Antonio bicycle kick goal.

Only Liverpool and Tottenham were able to come away with a win this weekend. Neither side looked pretty doing it, but three points are three points no matter how you get them. The Reds struggled with the worst team in Premier League this season (and way-too-early-to-call candidates for relegation) Sheffield United, and Spurs were able to snatch three points thanks to a late goal from Son Heung-min and a Harry Kane goal line clearance. It also pains me to say it, but Spurs looked like a far better side in their win than Liverpool did.

It’s allowed the brilliance of clubs like Everton, Aston Villa, and Leeds truly shine. I don’t like to focus on the failed Project Big Picture plan, but if anyone is looking for a more symbolic rejection, stop your search. You won’t find any better.