The Premier League heads into the international break off the back of another extremely entertaining weekend in the division, and here are four things we took from the latest round of matches.
Tensions beginning to run high at Liverpool
Although their results would suggest otherwise, there are one or two concerns just beginning to come to light at Liverpool. At the start of the campaign there was one or two issues defensively, but having patched that up, Jurgen Klopp could have another problem to deal with.
The reaction of Sadio Mane when he was substituted at Burnley on Saturday, seemingly irate at strike partner Mo Salah for not putting him through on goal on a couple of occasions, was one of frustration and anger, the like you don’t often see these days. Salah’s greed has led him to be the top scorer for Liverpool in his two seasons at Anfield, but it appears his Senegalese teammate is slowly having enough of it. The last thing the Reds need is a fallout in their prolific front three so this is one to watch moving forward.
Leicester City look equipped to break the top six mould
Ever since Leicester City won the Premier League back in 2016, we have been looking for a side to break the seemingly now established top six in the division, and it could be that the last team to have done it will be the next ones to do it too.
That is because Brendan Rodgers’ side look to have found a nice groove. They look solid in defence despite the departure of Harry Maguire, and have so much creativity and goal power going forward they are not going to lack for chances. With Wolves looking a little flat, potentially due to their Europa League exertions, and Everton flattering to deceive despite Sunday’s win over Nuno Santo Espirito’s men, it could be the Foxes who will break the stranglehold, potentially at the expense of Manchester United.
West Ham could be the neutrals’ team this season
Those football fans who have no allegiance with a Premier League club but want one for this campaign could do a lot worse than follow the fortunes of West Ham United. Rather quietly, Manuel Pellegrini has put a very talented squad together, who look like they’ll be fun to watch this season.
Based on his performance in the win over Norwich City on Saturday, it surely can’t be long before Felipe Anderson is talked about in the same breath as the heavyweight clubs, while the likes of Manuel Lanzini, Andriy Yarmolenko, Robert Snodgrass and Michail Antonio all offer him good back up in the creative and attacking departments. Sebastien Haller has already hit the ground running for the Hammers, who have put that disappointing opening day debacle against Manchester City behind them. The Hammers were always known for playing pretty football back in the day, and that appealing style looks to be evident at the London Stadium amidst the class of 2019-20.
Standard of refereeing has never been so poor
VAR is controversially being used in the Premier League this season, and on Saturday we saw an example of just why it is needed, albeit perhaps not in its current guise. That is because the standard of refereeing in England at the minute is as low as it has ever been.
The decision by Kevin Friend to book Jack Grealish for diving late on for Aston Villa in their 1-0 defeat at Crystal Palace, when the midfielder passed the ball to his own teammate before falling down, was nothing short of embarrassing, while Martin Atkinson’s failure to give a penalty to Harry Kane when Sokratis bowled him over was not much better.
In America both incidents would not have been a problem, as the referee would have been invited by VAR to look at the screens and correct their calls, but the reluctance of the English system to use the technology, and the arrogance of the refereeing body not to admit their workforce ever get anything wrong, is doing more harm to the arbiters than good. It needs to change.