Friday, October 23, 2020

EPL GW2 Three Things We Learned

EPL GW2 is now in the books and it was another roller coaster of incredible play, appalling moments, and another round of VAR controversy. So let’s jump straight into our review of the top 3 things that happened over the weekend.

The New Handball Rule Is Going To Ruin The Game

I featured a long piece on VAR last week and even said I would try not to talk about it every week. However, anyone who paid even a cursory look at the Premier League this week will have been left in no doubt about the main talking point. So instead of focussing on VAR, we will talk about the handball rule element.

For those completely out of the loop, Man City scored a 90th-minute winner through Gabriel Jesus, only to see it disallowed by VAR owing to this new wrinkle in the handball rule. While VAR played its part, it wasn’t really at fault in this instance. The rule has been specifically changed to mean that if the ball strikes the hand or arm of an attacking player in the build-up to the goal, the goal will be disallowed.

This is key. Not might be disallowed, but WILL. 100% of the time.

Given the recent history between these two clubs, with Spurs going through in the Champions League quarter-final thanks to a goal that deflected off of Fernando Llorente’s arm, it was an ironic twist.

Last season this goal would have stood…even with VAR. So the new rule is the issue. And the new rule is the epitome of stupidity. To make such an egregious change to the laws without extensive testing seems asinine. And in just two-weeks, we’ve already seen two game-winning goals disallowed because of this rule.

Now I know the argument because I’ve used it myself here, but VAR will work best in places where the rules are black and white. So the rule change makes some logical sense. But one of the problems is that it doesn’t apply to defenders as well.

We’ve already seen a couple of incidents through EPL GW2 where defenders in walls have blocked free-kicks with their arms this season. VAR has checked and not overruled the referee’s decisions of no penalty. Why? Because the rules are different. Which, again, is asinine.

I’m on record, many times, as being pro-VAR to get big decisions in big games right, and I still stick by that opinion. But if the new handball rule is an indication of where the beautiful game is headed, it may just destroy the beautiful game.

Sheffield United Fans Are What The Premier League Is All About

It might not have been the splashiest, sexiest fixture of EPL GW2, but it probably was my favourite. After 12 years out of the Premier League, Sheffield United are back with a win in just their second game.

They were out passed, outclassed at times, and had just 42.5% of possession. But when they had the ball they were direct and actually outshot Palace 15 to 6. And of course, the most important statistic was the score.

Now this game wasn’t all roses for the Blades, but it is exactly what they need on the pitch. A battling win against a bottom half team. And make no mistake Crystal Palace are in the same relegation battle as Sheffield United.

Through two games Palace look as toothless as can be, which is hardly surprising the Christian Benteke leading the line. With four goals in his last forty-nine league games since the start of the 2018/18 season, the fact he still has a place in the team is something to behold.

But this isn’t about the game, it’s about the spirit. The joy of seeing fans who love their team supporting them through thick and thin. And there hasn’t been a lot of thick in the last dozen years. To see fans tearing up over their team scoring in the second game of the season, against a team like Palace, is what football is all about. Or it should be.

EPL GW2 : Sheffield United Fans Are a Joy To Watch © Action Foto Sport/NurPhoto via Getty Images
EPL GW2 : Sheffield United Fans Are a Joy To Watch © Action Foto Sport/NurPhoto via Getty Images

So good luck to the Blades fans this season, and whatever happens keep enjoying the experience because, in truth, things will likely get very rocky as the season wears on.

All Is Not Rosy In The Chelsea Gardens

It’s only EPL GW2 so this is no time to panic…but Chelsea look to be in a troubling spot. For the third game in a row this season (if we include the UEFA Super Cup), they started looking very strong, and slowly weakened as the game went on.

During the first half on Sunday, it looked like they could walk away with the game. They were composed on the ball and looked every bit a top-four team. Just like they had for large spells of the first half at Old Trafford.

However, Chelsea are struggling to take chances despite some great play going forward. Giroud, while not a goal machine, is a quality Premier League forward and should not struggle over the course of a season. Tammy Abraham as his backup is not very experienced but has skills in bunches and will, eventually, hit his straps and bang in upwards of 12 goals. Probably.

Its Not Been The Best Start For Chelsea © REUTERS/Phil Noble
It’s Not Been The Best Start For Chelsea © REUTERS/Phil Noble

The worry for Chelsea is that Abraham struggles to get his confidence and just can’t prove that potential. It’s happened before in the Premier League…Diego Forlan anyone? An incredible player who struggled to find his scoring boots regularly in the EPL.

Defensively, Kurt Zouma does not look like a Premier League Defender. Their depth is shocking after Gary Cahill leaving, although they have been strengthened by the departure of David Luiz. And then there’s Frank Lampard.

Some of his decisions are a little odd. Kante is still not playing in his best position. There’s too much chopping and changing of formations. Now, this is early season so Frank probably just needs to find his feet, learn his best team, and what his squad has to offer.

But at the moment, Chelsea is a situation to keep your eye on. They will need to be patient to see how this works out, and that maybe their biggest problem. If things are going well at Christmas, will Roman be patient? Does he have any choice given the transfer ban? All very intriguing questions.

For more like this, visit our dedicated football page here. Meanwhile, follow us on Facebook for more opinions and analysis right to your timeline.

Similar Articles



Why A ‘European Premier League’ Is A Bad Idea

It has been announced that Liverpool and Manchester United are planning talks to join a ‘European Premier...

Reviewing Week 6 Of The NFL

Week 6 is now complete in the NFL. In a week that saw no Thursday Night Football...

A Review Of Week 5 In The NFL

We have seen five weeks fly by in the NFL. We are over a quarter of the...

British Ice Hockey, what could be done better?

People will say the British ice hockey league is just a stepping stone for import players to...

Everton: They Couldn’t, Could They?

Everton are currently top of the Premier League. After four straight wins, Carlo Ancelotti’s men are sitting...

The First Period

First of all thanks for reading my Column, those that know me would say I'm a hockey...

Bears 1 point win makes massive statement

They've made a habit of starting slow in 2020, but the Bears 1 point win over the...

NFL: Review Of Week 4

Week 4 is complete in the NFL and we are now a quarter of the way through...

“I Thought I Was Going To Die”: My Interview With Paul Brown

Last week i has the chance to speak on Zoom with Paul Brown, who can be found...

Assessing Liverpool’s 7-2 Loss To Aston Villa

Liverpool were stunned on Sunday after their 7-2 loss away to Aston Villa. In a match that...