The 2019/20 Premier League returned on Wednesday night and, as expected, the most popular football league in the world produced excitement and controversies, no thanks to the Video Assistant Refereeing system that has divided opinions in the league thus far.
Two outstanding games that bore consequential value for all teams involved took place on the night. Relegation-threatened and newly-promoted Aston Villa faced a high-flying newly-promoted Sheffield United at Villa Park.
Aston Villa needed all three points in the game to boost their chances of survival this season, as they currently sit 19th in the Premier League with 26 points, 1 point away from safety.
Sheffield United, on the other hand, have pushed way above their weight this season, and are in a good position for a place in Europe next term. Their chances of making it to the UEFA Champions League and the Europa League are relatively decent.
Both teams had to share the spoils as the first game in the Premier League post-COVID 19 ended goalless but with major controversy. The home side could have found themselves behind at half time after goalkeeper Ørjan Nyland carried the ball over the line after a freekick.
However, the match officials on the night which included center referee Michael Oliver didn’t receive any signal to the watch or earpiece from the Goal Decision System.
An apology was tendered after the game stating that the seven cameras in the stands were significantly occluded by Nyland.
The statement went on to note that this level of occlusion has never occurred in the 9,000 matches where the Hawk-Eye Goal Line Technology system has been in operation.
Who knows? Has the VAR system in England been affected by lockdown? Regardless, it was all good fortunes for the Clarets and Blue who may have ended the game without a point if the goal had been given, and a possibly a loss of two points for Chris Wilder’s men.
The extra points would have gone a long way in their push for a place in Europe next term. The other game on the night which was supposedly a big game saw Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City welcome Mikel Arteta’s Arsenal to the Etihad Stadium.
The game was not one for the Gunners as they are still the Gunners we know. Arsenal were forced into two substitutions before 30 minutes as Granit Xhaka was subbed off for Dani Ceballos in the 8th minute and Pablo Mari for David Luiz in the 24th minute.
Regardless, the Citizens were in total control of the game from the blast of the whistle.
David Luiz had a stinker in this one after being subbed in and Raheem Sterling was on hand to score the first Premier League goal post-COVID 19 after an error by the Arsenal defense just before the whistle went off at halftime.
David Luiz was sent off in the 49th minute in the second half after gifting a penalty to the Citizens which Kevin de Bruyne converted easily. Manchester City dominated Arsenal as expected with Mikel Arteta’s men not managing a shot on target until the final whistle went off.
The third goal was scored by Phil Foden at the stroke of full-time to complete an emphatic and convincing 3 nil victory.
Man City had twelve shots on goal to Arsenal’s zero. One would have expected the Gunners to put up more of a fight in their quest for a place in Europe next season, and also with the lack of home support for the home side. This was eventually not the case as Arsenal sadly still remains Arsenal.
Total football returns to the Premier League this weekend as all teams in the league have now played 29 games.
All teams will be in action as Liverpool search for those two wins, while the relegation fight and the fight for a top-four place rages on. You could check this list of live football streaming sites here for these games.