EPL WEEK 10: WINNERS & LOSERS


WINNERS

Manchester United & Edinson Cavani. Class always stands out and such was the story with the Uruguayan striker who even at the ripe old age of 35 single-handedly turned the match against Southampton on it's head after coming on as a substitute for the 2nd half. The Saints were up 2-0 going into the break and must have fancied their chances of getting the 3 points but a Cavani cross for Bruno Fernandes to score gave them a sniff. With quick fire reflexes for a diving header for his first and then a trademark poacher's header in the final minute of stoppage time, the striker truly showed his worth to a team that was destined to lose this match going on their first half performance alone.


Manchester City & Riyad Mahrez. The Algerian midfield ace has struggles to establish a place in Pep Guardiola's starting 11 for the past few seasons. The attacking midfielder started early in the 6th minute and followed it up with 2 more goals in the 22nd & 69th minute to complete his first hat-trick since his move from Leicester. City have struggled for goals and midfield inspiration since the start of the season but with the likes of Phil Foden & Ferran Torres stepping up and the return to form of Kevin De Bruyne & Mahrez coupled with return from injury of Sergio Aguero, City will take positives from this performance and hope to build on this into a top 4 finish.


Fulham & Ivan Cavaleiro. What a difference a week makes. Last week, Cavaleiro missed a penalty that could have got them a point against Everton. This week, he duly converted the spot kick for Fulham's first penalty scored for the season. The win moves Fulham up to 17th and more importantly out of the relegation zone. Life in the premier league has not been kind to Fulham as yet, but on the basis of their impressive performance against a top 4 side such as Leicester away from home, the Cottagers should definitely get some confidence in their ability to move further away from the relegation zone.


West Ham & David Moyes. A third successive win for the Hammers means they are up to 5th on the ladder. The hire of David Moyes as manager was widely derided by fans and media alike but the Hammers have displayed a toughness and backed by a resolute defence and some luck have repaid the fans patience. While the Hammers were lucky against the Villains as Ollie Watkins first crashed his spot kick against the crossbar and then had a goal disallowed in stoppage time by VAR for offside, the Hammers got their contributions from Ogbonna, Jarrod Bowen & Said Benrahma who laid on the assist for Bowen's goal within 30 seconds of coming on. With contributors all over the park, West Ham are dangerous week in and week out.


LOSERS

Arsenal & Mikel Arteta. 2000 fans return to The Emirates stadium this week to watch the Gunners play Rapid Vienna in the Europa League. Lucky the fans weren't in attendance for Arsenal's shambolic performance against a plucky Wolves side that won at Arsenal for the first time since 1979. Wolves lost their main striker Raul Jimenez to a sickening head clash with David Luiz in the 5th minute but were more energised and determined after the break with Leander Dendocker's thumping header crashing against the crossbar for Pedro Neto to pounce on and score. Arsenal managed a goal in open play for the first time in 6 games to level the match through Gabriel's header to level the game but Daniel Podence pounced on a loose ball first after Arsenal GK Leno could only push the ball away to give Wolves a deserved lead and eventual win. The Gunners look devoid of confidence & a game that can threaten opposition and their lowly 14th place on the ladder is a reflection of their talented squad of players lacking clear direction from a manager struggling to lift his team's sagging morale. Cue disgruntled fans at Emirates if this continues from Arsenal.


Sheffield United & Chris Wilder. An appearance in this section has become the norm for The Blades. In a week where the bottom sides all consolidated with Brighton snatching a point against Liverpool & Fulham & West Brom grabbing precious 3 points, the Blades loss to the Baggies means they are the only team yet to win a game this season after 10 matches. Chris Wilder needs to find some way to motivate a team that is losing touch with the other teams and mired at the bottom with a solitary point.


VAR & Premier League. Fans are slowly set to return to premier league games. On the weekend, two instances of why they are going to hate the use of VAR stood out. Mo Salah's opening goal against Brighton was a wonderful goal with the striker holding off multiple defenders and knocking the ball past GK Matt Ryan. Astonishingly, VAR deemed it offside by a hair's breath after using 3D positioning to pinpoint the offence. More bad luck plagued Liverpool after Andrew Robertson was judged to have fouled Danny Welbeck while both were fighting for possession for the ball in the Liverpool goal area. The result was a penalty awarded to Brighton in stoppage time which they duly converted to snatch a point. Last week, in a similar incident, West Brom were initially awarded a penalty after a clear foul by Bruno Fernandes on Conor Gallagher but astonishingly had the decision reversed after referee David Coote's review of his decision on the pitch side monitor. The time taken for VAR decisions to be made, the lack of consistency in decisions for similar incidents & then human error on part of the referee are clearly frustrating for players and managers and while fans will return slowly, the joy is clearly being sucked out of the game when fans have to wait an eternity to be able to celebrate a goal.

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