(Reuters) – Five talking points from the Premier League weekend:
VAR IN THEEYE OF THESTORM… AGAIN
While Video Assistant Referee (VAR) has worked almost faultlessly in other top European leagues, its implementation in the Premier League has raised more questions every week rather than providing solutions to “clear and obvious errors”.
Even Aston Villa boss Dean Smith said Liverpool were hard done by when Roberto Firmino’s armpit was ruled offside while the league leaders opted not to complain after Sadio Mane’s last-gasp winner maintained their six-point advantage.
“(VAR) is supposed to be helping the referee but it’s creating more confusion,” Tottenham Hotspur boss Mauricio Pochettino said after two controversial decisions in Sunday’s draw at Everton.
Everyone at Goodison Park was made to wait three full minutes as VAR’s check on a Dele Alli handball — when his arm was raised during an Everton corner — was ruled not a penalty, much to Everton boss Marco Silva’s displeasure.
Spurs forward Son Heung-min was shown a red card for a freak challenge which left Everton midfielder Andre Gomes with a broken ankle.
The initial yellow card was overturned by VAR and Pochettino said the decision to send Son off was “unfair” after the unfortunate injury changed the decision despite Son’s minimal contact.
BLADES UP TO SIXTH
The season is 11 games old and promoted Sheffield United have the best defensive record in the top flight having conceded only eight goals — better than Liverpool and Manchester City and the same as third-placed Leicester City.
A 3-0 win over Burnley saw the Blades keep their fifth clean sheet of the season with centre back linchpin John Egan marshalling his back line to deny Burnley a single shot on target.
SOUTHCOASTCLUBS ON THERISE
Graham Potter finally seems to have instilled his philosophy at Brighton & Hove Albion, who have now won three of their last four games to move up to eighth in the standings following their 2-0 win over Norwich City.
A point above them in seventh are Bournemouth, who kept a third consecutive clean sheet in a 1-0 win over a struggling Manchester United side, with manager Eddie Howe stating centre back Steve Cook was ready for an England call-up.
VARDY’S HAVING A PARTY
Leicester consolidated their top-four credentials with a 2-0 win at Crystal Palace and Jamie Vardy became the first player to net 10 goals this season to become the Premier League’s outright top scorer.
Centre back Caglar Soyuncu, who scored the opener, has also seamlessly stepped in to replace Harry Maguire in a stingy back line alongside Jonny Evans.
Two home draws against Palace and Wolverhampton Wanderers left Arsenal six points short of a top four spot and the jury is out on whether Unai Emery can steady the ship having won only twice in their last nine league games.
Meanwhile, with four points at Man City and Arsenal, Wolves have finally found their feet after a poor start to the season.
(Reporting by Rohith Nair in Bengaluru, editing by Pritha Sarkar)