Sometimes, a Premier League weekend passes us by without a great deal to point-the-finger of fun at. It’s drier than a Bank Holiday weekend in the UK (well, this last one anyway).
There was a time where Man United losing at home to Crystal Palace would have been really, really funny. Now it’s barely a shock.
There was a time where Arsenal being commended for not utterly folding at Anfield would have been an insult. Now, it’s just damning praise.
And there used to be a world where Chelsea conceding twice at a club like Norwich would have had question marks over whichever one of Roman’s latest foreign fancies were coaching the side.
We live in a dry, unfunny, almost predictable Premier League era folks.
We’ll start at Anfield where the fact that Virgil van Dijk allegedly got dribbled past was the ‘big news’. Now, I’ve watched this back several times and being turned on the halfway line, sprinting back into position and waiting long enough for Nicolas Pepe to make another poor decision doesn’t really strike me as being ‘dribbled past’. But hey, Twitter means we are all obsessed by meaningless stats now.
Arsenal came with a gameplan – the problem was, they’re nowhere near as good as Liverpool and that meant their “sit back and defend then hope Nicolas Pepe can dribble past van Dijk” idea didn’t have that many legs.
The other key flaw on building a gameplan around your defence is when (a) you are Arsenal and (b) you’ve selected David Luiz.
Luiz was at his peak at Anfield, conceding one penalty for pulling Mo Salah shirt in a way that suggests he is unaware VAR even exists. For Salah’s second, Luiz was clearly sprinting to catch a bus in the opposite direction to where Salah was going.
There was talk of a brighter future at Arsenal this season – I think we can draw a line under that concept now, can’t we?
At Old Trafford, United headed into the match with Palace with an unchanged team meaning, most likely, unchanged attitudes – yes Paul Pogba, I am referring to you.
We can argue all day long that Pogba forced a good save from the spot-kick at Molineux after that drama. We could even agree on the fact that United were a little hard done by with regard to VAR and its incompetence on Saturday.
But hear me out – Pogba mucking about over Monday’s spot-kick added more pressure than was needed to Marcus Rashford’s penalty against Palace. And Rashford, a boy with a 100% record and capable of doing it in Paris, when the pressure was really on, missed. Combine that with Pogba then needlessly giving the ball away in true Pogbaesque style after United had squared the match and well, Ole isn’t going to be baby-faced much longer at this rate.
A lot of the pre-match talk was about how young Aaron Wan-Bissaka was going to put Wilfried Zaha in his pocket – well, Zaha had the perfect answer to that. Why play left-wing when if you pop over to the right you can be up against Luke Shaw and then Ashley Young? And they say Wilf isn’t an intelligent footballer.
Over at Carrow Road, Tammy Abraham finally proved what many of us have known for years – he is absolutely deadly against Championship centre-backs.
Abraham scored twice, but so did Norwich City who, to be fair, rattled Chelsea more than they should have. Teemu Pukki continued his “best start to a Premier League season by a balding player who wouldn’t look out of place on the Sunday park” by scoring again but it was Frank Lampard’s Chelsea who ended up the winners thanks to a fine goal by the teacher’s pet, Mason Mount.
The last time Man City went to Bournemouth the hosts tried to win the game without completing a pass or getting a shot on goal. At least this time around, they managed to hit the back of the net with a Harry Wilson stunner – the only kind of goal he scores. Unfortunately for Eddie Howe’s men, VAR doesn’t apply for goalkeepers and City scored three.
Tottenham can forget challenging for the title after they were flat, again, at their new stadium. Being honest, Spurs were poor against both Villa and City and were lucky to be going into the game with Newcastle with four points. They finished the game with Newcastle still on four points, mainly because the Geordies have a new homegrown number nine called Joe Linton. The big striker scored his first goal for the club and it proved to be a Newcastle winner in London – which is almost a rare as a decent Newcastle number nine nowadays.
We should all take a moment to respect the fact that had Rafa come to Spurs and left with a 1-0 victory it would have been ‘a tactical masterclass’. Maybe Steve Bruce is cleverer than he looks, managerially?
As a result, Watford’s Javi Gracia is in pole position to be the first Premier League manager fired as Watford suffered the double indignity of losing again and being responsible for West Ham actually winning in August.
Mark Noble scored with his first touch of the season before big Seb Haller netted a brace – the second a fine overhead kick that was completely wasted by the fact he was one-yard out when he did it.
Brighton’s top start to the season ended the moment Florin Andone planted all 18 studs into his opponent. Down to ten men, Brighton still played well but ended up giving Southampton the 2-0 boost they needed.
Jamie Vardy hadn’t scored in the 2019/20 season but, as a Sheffield Wednesday fan, he was nailed on to get one against Sheffield United at Bramall Lane. It’s going to be a long season for Chris Wilder’s men.
Burnley were delighted to be on the other side of a Europa League hangover, drawing with Wolves 1-1 after Nuno’s historic night in Turin.
Friday night saw Everton prove once again that having some decent money to spend isn’t as useful as spending it wisely. Aston Villa, who spent £120m or so on sprucing up their squad for the Premier League, played them off the pitch and it was their record signing Wesley who stood out. Wesley got the opening goal, and Theo Walcott missed from a yard. All is right in the world.