Welcome to ‘Wally of the Week’ the first in a weekly column looking back on the moments from the weekend’s action in the Premiership that players and managers will soon want to forget about. There has been no shortage of talking points after just two rounds of fixtures, VAR, of course, is at the forefront of everyone’s minds but we’ll be putting that to one side for now.
A win and a draw for Crystal Palace in their first two games of the season has the South London side sitting in 14th in the table, by no means a disastrous start but with away games against Manchester United and Tottenham coming up Roy Hodgson will need to get some points on the board soon if he doesn’t want to be paying a visit to his local job centre.
While Palace fans may not be too concerned by their lowly league position just yet they will have hardly been comforted by their manager’s post-game comments from Sunday’s game against Sheffield United, which included stating that to win matches his side need to start creating chances and scoring goals, who would have thought it?
Palace have a history of showing little mercy with managers on a poor run so this weekend’s game against another newly-promoted side, Aston Villa.
The Brazilian winger may have only played for 20 minutes on Sunday in Chelsea’s 1-1 draw v Leicester but he still managed to make an impact for all the wrong reasons. Willian was handed the number 10 shirt in the summer following the departure of Eden Hazard to Real Madrid but on Sunday he couldn’t have been any further from replicating the performances his predecessor put in wearing the same number.
Willian has managed some sparkling performances in a Chelsea shirt but he just looked out of sorts on Sunday, giving the ball away on numerous occasions and failing to beat the first man on more than one occasion with his crosses. Of course, it’s worth noting Willian missed all of pre-season due to a knee injury but whether he can fill Hazard’s huge shoes, the jury is still out.
VAR has certainly divided opinion over the opening two weeks of the Premier League season but another question that rose its head over the weekend was, is VAR the problem or are the rules the problem?
For those unaware the handball rule underwent a major change over the summer, in short, a player can now be penalised for a handball offence even if they are deemed to have unintentionally handled the ball. The new rule is a brain wave of former Premiership referee and International Football Association Board (IFAB) Technical Director, David Elleray, and has already been criticised twice this season.
Firstly on the first weekend of the season when Wolves had a goal disallowed against Leicester after Willy Boly was alleged to have handled and more prominently this weekend when Gabriel Jesus thought he had scored a late winner against Spurs only to have the goal chalked off following a VAR review into a supposed handball by Aymeric Laporte. Sunday’s incident, in particular, had pundits, manager, players and even former Premiership referee queuing up to criticise the new rule with Elleray’s name being in the centre of complaints. Perhaps City player Kevin de Bruyne had a point when he quipped that players may need to chop off limbs to avoid being punished by the new law.