A thrilling North London derby, the top 2 cruise and VAR drama – surprise surprise | EPL Matchweek 4 Review
It was business as usual for Liverpool and Manchester City as they disposed of teams easily whilst United and Chelsea continued to trip over themselves and VAR drama was ever-present. The North London derby didn’t disappoint though with Arsenal fighting back from two down and almost completing the perfect comeback.
Arsenal 2 – 2 Tottenham
It was the most anticipated game of MW4 and the North London derby certainly didn’t disappoint with Arsenal and Tottenham playing out a very entertaining draw.
It was all Spurs in the first half with Christian Eriksen scoring an early goal and Leno pulling off a quite brilliant save to keep out a Son Heung-Min shot bound for the top corner shortly after. Son then earned himself a penalty, courtesy of a rash Granit Xhaka tackle, converted perfectly by Harry Kane. It was game on just before half-time with Alexandre Lacazette showing typically tight control in the box before smashing his volley home to give the Gunners a boost going into the break.
Harry Kane hit the post early in the second half before Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang made a typically rapid dart into the box and applied the deftest of touches on a cross to bring Arsenal level. Arsenal thought they’d completed a comeback for the ages with Sokratis tapping in at the back-post only for an offside to be ruled in the build up.
The game finished 2-2 which most would say was a fair result and a fairly accurate indicator of where both North London teams are sitting at the moment.
Crystal Palace 1 – 0 Aston Villa
A seemingly innocuous game burst into the headlines thanks to the VAR – although this time it was for the review system’s inaction. With Aston Villa 1-0 down, reduced to 10 men and seemingly out of time, Henri Lansbury thought he’d scored a stoppage time equaliser before the referee ruled it out, penalising and booking Jack Grealish for diving in the build-up.
However, replays seemed to show that Grealish was in fact clipped twice before going down and never actually appealed for a penalty. Many expected VAR to overrule the referee but no such call was made, leaving Villa fans confused and more than a little upset as the game finished 1-0.
Clarification has since been made that due to referee Kevin Friend blowing his whistle for the dive milliseconds before the ball hit the back of the net, VAR was not in a position to be able to overrule the decision.
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“I’ve seen it back and I thought it was a really good goal. . “Jack Grealish has gone through and made a really good run, gets a nudge in the back, which puts him off balance. . “He goes down and doesn’t even look like he’s looking for a penalty and Henri slots it home. . “I have no idea why it’s been chalked off.” . #PL #AVFC
Manchester City 4 – 0 Brighton
Burnley 0 – 3 Liverpool
Just a month into the season and it’s already a clear two horse race with Manchester City and Liverpool clinically disposing of Brighton and Burnley respectively.
Maty Ryan, as predicted, had a very busy afternoon at the Etihad but was powerless to stop a rampaging Manchester City who smashed four goals of the highest quality past the Aussie shot-stopper.
Liverpool were only just less impressive in their cruisey win over Burnley with Roberto Firmino bagging a goal and an assist to back up his manager’s ‘world class’ label during the week. There was late drama though with Liverpool’s Sadio Mane blowing up at fellow forward Mo Salah for being ‘selfish’ in his play.
Southampton 1 – 1 Manchester United
Ole Gunnar Solskjær is starting to look a bit aged and weary just a month into the new campaign as United failed to win for the third successive match against traditionally mid-table sides. His side made a positive start with young Daniel James scoring his third for the season with a top corner rocket.
Southampton leveled just before the hour with centre back Jannik Vestergaard climbing highest to head home his maiden goal for the Saints. United’s chances were boosted when Kevin Danso was sent off giving United 20 minutes to score a winner against 10 men. They never looked likely though with the Saints holding on for a deserved point, leaving Ole with plenty to ponder over the international break.
Chelsea 2 – 2 Sheffield United
It was a similar story for Frank Lampard’s Chelsea who dominated the first 45 minutes to take a 2-0 lead into half-time, courtesy of another Tammy Abraham double. Sheffield pulled one back immediately in the second half though and continued to pressure for an equaliser.
Their pressure paid off in the dying minutes of the game when Chelsea defender Kurt Zouma put the ball into the back of his own net whilst trying to clear an awkwardly bouncing cross. It’s a tough result to take for Chelsea who dominated most of the match and would have felt well in control at half-time.