It feels like we have waited forever for the Premier League to return, but 2 rounds of matches have been completed in the blink of an eye. Round 2 brought us almost everything that we could have asked for: goals, cards, penalties, own goals… you name it, this weekend had it.
Manchester United backed up their opening victory to West Ham with another 4-0 victory, this time against Swansea, while the Hammers will rue their lack of discipline as they had a player sent off and conceded 2 silly penalties on the way to a 3-2 loss at Southampton.
For this week’s round-up, I’ve decided to stay away from talking about transfer speculation as that got plenty of focus last week.
There is no doubt that Marko Arnautovic deserved his red card for his elbow on Jack Stephens, however West Ham could consider themselves lucky to have still had 11 men on the pitch at that point, as Mark Noble had earlier put in a tackle that looked very similar to the one that earned Gary Cahill a red card in Round 1.
Like Cahill against Burnley, Noble went into contact with his studs showing and with his foot having come over the ball. I felt that Cahill’s red was a soft card, but by the letter of the law the decision last week was spot on. I can’t understand why one tackle results in a red while the other doesn’t even get a yellow. Eric Dier received a yellow for a similar challenge against Chelsea, but in my opinion this tackle was not as bad as Noble’s as, even though he was high, he was not directing his studs towards the player and instead made contact with the top of his boot.
I think that referee Lee Mason had a good game on the whole and got most of the big decisions (both Southampton penalties and the red card) correct, however it would be nice to see more consistency across the league from the referees.
The Little Pea
As a United fan, I was very disappointed by the way Javier Hernandez was treated by Louis van Gaal first sending him to Rea Madrid on loan before selling him to Bayer Leverkusen. Considering how hard United found it to score under the Dutchman, a prolific finisher like Chicharito could have come in handy.
I have remained a big fan of the Mexican and was so happy to hear that he was returning to the Premier League with West Ham, as this would be the first chance for him to lead the line in attack while also a great chance of regular football – which he often seemed to need in order to be at his best for United. Considering the stupid money being paid for players this summer, £16m looks an absolute steal and the way he played against Southampton, including his first 2 goals for the club suggests that he will be worth every penny.
He may not have the all-round ability of some strikers in the league, but he is probably one of the best poachers in the game at the moment (all 39 of his Premier League goals have come from inside the box) and he reminds me of another United great Ole Gunnar Solskjær. With the players around him to provide chances, I will be very surprised if he doesn’t finish the season with 15-20 goals.
Last season, Tottenham went unbeaten in the league during their last season at White Hart Lane, amassing 17 wins and 2 draws. Unless they win all 18 of their remaining home games this season, Spurs will not be living up to that record in Wembley. Since Wembley was rebuilt, Spurs have played 11 games there, winning only 2, drawing 1 and losing the other 8! This figure will be somewhat skewed by many of these games coming in the latter stages of competitions against other big clubs, however their ‘Home’ record in Europe wasn’t that great either last season. I’m not a superstitious person, but that doesn’t bode well for their home form this season.
As if that wasn’t enough, they are still waiting for Harry Kane to find his scoring boots in August. In 12 August games for Spurs, Kane has managed 34 shots on target but is yet to find the back of the net. He is making chances on a regular basis but just can’t seem to finish them. I still full expect him to end up pushing for the golden boot again, but if he doesn’t start banging them in soon, Spurs could have a mountain to climb to catch up to their rivals.
Leave it out
Probably the oddest moment of the weekend came in Watford’s game at Bournemouth. The ball was pulled back to Nathaniel Chalobah who looked set to strike from the edge of the box, but at the last moment let the ball roll past him to the feet of Bournemouth’s Harry Arter. Watching back on Match of the Day, it appears that he heard a call from Arter to leave it, pretending to be one of his teammates. This should have really been a free kick in a good position for Watford and a yellow card to Arter for unsporting behaviour, but I assume the officials missed the incident at the time.
I hope we don’t start seeing this on a regular basis as Premier League footballers are role models for children, who could see Arter getting away with this and think that means it is acceptable to do in a match.
That said, I couldn’t help but laugh at this successful piece of s***housery!