A 9-0 record win, more dodgy calls from VAR, Premier League managers under pressure… and that’s just for starters.
Here are 7 things we’ve learned from the last week of football…
The VAR-ce continues…
VAR continues to throw up more questions than answers.
Perhaps most worryingly for the game’s powerbrokers, the backlash against the technology gets stronger by the week. That’s unsurprising given the red lines around when the technology should and shouldn’t be used seem to get more blurred with every passing game.
This weekend alone saw five controversial calls – all of which were highly debatable. The lack of coherent communication between Stockley Park, the referee, players and fans also continues to create avoidable headaches.
At the rate games were being interrupted this weekend, it can’t be too long before the competition gets renamed the ‘VAR Premier League’.
The technology works. Its roll-out doesn’t.
Another re-think is surely needed.
Liverpool brush away any talk of bottling it…
Every Premier League title challenger faces a moment of truth en route to glory.
The Reds showed character and, crucially, patience to overcome an early setback against Spurs and maintain their six-point lead over Man City – even if at times it looked as if nothing would come off for them.
Luck played its part, with Son agonisingly close to doubling Spurs’ lead, but if anything, that scare simply helped rally Jürgen Klopp’s side into action.
If they end up lifting a maiden EPL title in May, Liverpool might look back at this weekend as the moment that clinched it.
The Foxes aren’t going away any time soon…
An abject excuse of a performance from Southampton aside, Leicester looked the real deal as they raced to a record Premier League away win on the south coast. After the staid Claude Puel era, Brendan Rodgers has brought the fun back in a big way to the East Midlands.
Leicester’s talented young crop of players never look like settling for second best. With a commanding 5-0 lead and all three points safely in the bag by half-time, many sides would opt to go into cruise control.
That’s simply not the Rodgers way.
The Foxes’ positive, front-foot attitude in the second half to push for that record underlines why talk of a Top Four finish isn’t premature.
The relegation fight is starting to take shape…
Whisper it quietly, but are this year’s leading relegation candidates starting to make themselves known?
With Villa and Sheffield Utd showing plenty of fight, and Brighton building nicely under Graham Potter, could we be looking at three from four to go down this year?
Despite recent improvement, Watford still can’t buy a win, while Norwich’s crippling injury list suggests they could be in for a long winter – until the January transfer window opens at least. Southampton’s confidence looks shot to pieces after their 9-0 drubbing at St Mary’s, while goals still look in short supply at Newcastle.
It’s still probably too early to call, but the goal difference for those four sides compared to the rest of the division is starting to tell its own story.
Silva’s moment of reckoning has arrived…
First, a caveat.
For 75 minutes Everton looked good value for all three points at the Amex. The Toffees also had little control over the shift in mood inevitably brought about by the controversial VAR penalty call that allowed Brighton back into the game.
That said, this isn’t the first time the Toffees have buckled away from home. Marco Silva’s side have now dropped points on the road against Crystal Palace, Aston Villa, Bournemouth, Burnley and Brighton. That doesn’t make for good reading with Leicester, Liverpool and Man Utd all on the horizon.
November is a month known for its fireworks.
Expect plenty on Merseyside if Silva’s points return with the Toffees doesn’t pick up quickly.
It’s all up for grabs on the continent…
Once the clocks go back, it’s usually safe to assume the traditional big hitters are hitting their stride in their respective leagues.
Not this campaign.
Yes, PSG are already flying towards another Ligue 1 title, but elsewhere in Europe it’s shaping up to be a fascinating winter.
Bayern’s iron grip on the Bundesliga looks genuinely under threat with just five points separating 10 sides and Borussia Mönchengladbach currently leading the way. La Liga looks even more leftfield, with newly-promoted Granada threatening their own Leicester City-style story as the surprise early pacesetters.
Even the almighty Juventus look unsettled in Serie A, with Antonio Conte so far showing signs of reviving Inter Milan’s fortunes.
Could it finally be all change at the top?
Sol faces another ‘Mission Impossible’…
And finally to League One, where Sol Campbell has jumped out of the frying pan and into the fire as he starts his second managerial role with Southend.
The ex-England ace rightly won plenty of plaudits for his astonishing escape act with cash-strapped Macclesfield last season.
However, his latest assignment looks an even tougher ask.
Southend slipped to a 3-1 home defeat to Ipswich in his first official game in charge – and that’s one of the Shrimpers’ better results this season.
Eight points adrift already with a goal difference worse than crisis club Bolton Wanderers, Sol surely deserves the freedom of Essex if he manages to pull off another improbable great escape.
Browse all our Premier League predictions for the 2019/20 season.
All image sources from PA Images.
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