Another week down in the Premier League and the idea unlucky number 13 proved to be the case for Burnley who were denied a well-deserved draw courtesy of a late Alexis Sanchez penalty. Elsewhere in the top 7, Mohamed Salah’s goal against his former club was cancelled out by Willian’s cross/shot (definitely a shot despite what he says in interviews!) and Tottenham dropped 2 points at home to mangerless West Brom. Towards the bottom of the table, Crystal Palace got just their second Premier League win of the season to leave themselves just 3 points (and 8 goals) away from safety, while Everton conceded 4 goals at Southampton.

 

Does the punishment fit the crime?

I can pretty much guarantee there will be a similar incident each week in the league, if any of them lead to penalties it will be interesting to see if they all result in charges, as the FA have set a precedent now. It will be interesting to see the result of this charge and what impact it has moving forward.

I wrote this last week after the news that Everton’s Oumar Niasse was charged with “successful deception of a match official“. Niasse was given a 2-game ban as it was decided that he “exaggerated the effect of a normal contact to deceive the referee”. So what has the reaction been in this weekend’s league matches?

PL results
Round 13’s results – From http://www.premierleague.com

Burnley’s 0-1 loss to Arsenal came at the hands of a late Alexis Sanchez penalty that had me fuming. As the ball was crossed into the box, James Tarkowski put his hands on he back of Aaron Ramsey. Moments later, Ramsey was lying in a heap on the floor and referee Lee Mason was pointing to the spot. It may have been a foul and it was certainly a big risk for Tarkowski to put hands on Ramsey, but there is no way the contact justified the Welshman’s theatrical fall. If that wasn’t exaggerating the effect of a normal contact, then I don’t know what was! Yet Niasse gets a ban and Ramsey will most likely getaway with this.

Andre Ayew got away with diving during West Ham’s 1-1 draw with Leicester as Martin Atkinso chose to play on, while Fernandinho was shown a yellow card for his dive at Huddersfield. In both these cases they have done the same thing as Niasse (I would even go as far as to say these were more of a dive) yet they will get away with no further punishment as they did not successfully deceive the official.

The ability to retroactively punish a successful dive is a step in the right direction, however to get diving out of the game, I feel this needs to be expanded to include any attempts of diving, whether the referee falls for it, penalises the dive or waves play on. Only once a player knows any dive will result in a ban will we see it become less common in the beautiful game.

A day to forget

Ryan Shawcross will not be looking back on Stoke’s 2-1 loss at Crystal Palace with any fondness at all. Usually such a reliable player, he had a awful game. For years, Shawcross and his fellow Stoke defenders have been know as a well-organised group that are very effective at dealing with balls into the box. Yet both goals they conceded at the weekend came from their defence – and Shawcross in particular – not reading the flight of the ball correctly.

As if that wasn’t bad enough, with the score at 1-1, he had a chance to tap in a cross from a yard out. Rather than going for the ball with his head, he chose to stretch a leg out and eventually made too much contact with the ball, diverting it away from the goal!

Shawcross is a very good Premier League defender, but unfortunately seems to be in a period of poor form. It is poor fortune for Stoke that many of their top players seem to currently find themselves in the same circumstance.

Signs of improvement

They may not be sorted defensively yet, but Liverpool are looking very impressive in attack. New signing Mo Salah has been a revelation for the Reds this season and has already scored more goals than their last 3 top scorers have in the entire season! Mane and Coutinho are always going to be an danger going forward and with other players in the squad like Firmino and Lallana they have enough depth to not need to rely on Daniel Sturridge’s fitness.

table
How the Premier League table looks after 13 rounds – From http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport

After 13 matches, they are behind only the Manchester clubs in the number of goals scored, but they could still improve here if they want to move up the table, especially as they continue to struggle at the back. Firmino does a good job up front for Liverpool but I don’t see him as an out-and-out striker and Daniel Sturridge spends too much time out injured and often seems too selfish in my opinion, so I think that picking up a striker like Olivier Giroud in January – we know he considered a move from Arsenal as Ronald Koeman said they almost signed him at Everton – could help them take the next step.

 

Round 14 predictions:

Brighton & Hove Albion v Crystal Palace – Draw

Leicester City v Tottenham Hotspur – Draw

Watford v Machester United – United win

West Bromwich Albion v Newcastle United – WBA win

Arsenal v Huddersfield Town – Arsenal win

AFC Bournemouth v Burnley – Burnley win

Chelsea v Swansea City – Chelsea win

Everton v West Ham United – Draw

Manchester City v Southampton – City win

Stoke City v Liverpool – Liverpool win

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