5 Talking Points From Gameweek 30 of the Premier League

With 10 matches being played over this weekend, we have plenty to talk about.

1. Despite an out of sorts number 20, Manchester United inch closer to title no. 20

What has happened to the talismanic Dutchman? Once considered as a sure shot bet for the Golden Boot, Robin van Persie has dramatically fallen off the radar. With only a solitary goal in his last six appearances, he has been overtaken by Luis Suarez in the race to the coveted award. Despite the Dutchman’s profligacy in front of goal, Manchester United find themselves 15 points clear of their closest rivals Manchester City – thanks in no small part to a David Moyes scripted 2-0 victory for Everton over City… the same Everton who had roadblocked United’s road to glory last year with a pulsating 4-4 draw at Old Trafford.

Everton roared back from a humiliating 0-3 defeat in the FA Cup to Wigan to beat Mancini’s charges, even though they played the bulk of the second half with 10 men on the pitch after Steven Pienaar was sent off. With only 9 games to go and a yawning 15-point gap, surely there is no way back for City. Tie those red ribbons to the Premier League trophy, I say.

2. Video Replays – the need of the hour in the Premier League

Three separate incidents that raised the question – why don’t the match officials have video replays to assist them in their decision making? One, Marouane Fellaini’s handball inside the 18-yard box as he attempted to block Carlos Tevez’s shot. Surprisingly referee Lee Probert chose to award a free kick outside the box, much to the chagrin of protesting City players.

Two, a similar incident at the Stadium of Light as Danny Rose handled the ball and the referee awarding a free kick despite replays clearly showing the infringement to have been inside the box.

Three, the horror tackle by Wigan Athletic’s English striker Callum McManaman on Newcastle United’s Massadio Haidara, which resulted in the Frenchman being stretchered off to the hospital, probably out for the rest of the season. This incident went unsighted by referee Mark Halsey. The first two incidents could have had serious implications on the outcomes of those matches and while retrospective action against McManaman could still be taken, it could have been much worse for Wigan had they gone a man down in the first half itself. The standard of refereeing has been unusually shocking this weekend and it remains to be seen whether the FA takes steps to remedy these game changing decisions by introducing some kind of a video replay on the lines of the system used in the NFL.

3. Tottenham Hotspur: Fighting against their own past

Three defeats in their last three matches. Spurs fans will be forgiven for having that sinking feeling once again. In a season that promised so much, in a season that was earmarked as a chance to set the record straight, a season to avenge their humiliation of missing out on a Champions League spot last season (despite a top 4 finish) – their season is unravelling rather quickly. Add to that the Gunners are hot on their trail. The Lilywhites’ participation in the quarter finals of the Europa League will do their chances of a top four finish no favors as the hectic Thursday-Sunday schedule takes its toll come the end of the season. Their performances haven’t been bad – especially against Liverpool and Fulham, and they still have a 4-point lead over their North London rivals – but the Spurs faithful can only hope that their season doesn’t implode at the fag end; just like it did in the last two seasons under Harry Redknapp.

4. Arsenal and Chelsea take giant strides towards Champions League qualification as Liverpool’s top four dreams come crashing down

It’s weeks like these that go a long way in determining the fortunes of the top four hopefuls. Arsenal and Chelsea did their hopes no harm by registering identical 2-0 victories over their rivals. Arsenal were facing a slightly trickier opposition in Swansea away at the Liberty Stadium in Wales. A Nacho Monreal strike and a late strike on the counter by Gervinho helped the Gunners close the gap to 4th place North London rivals Tottenham.

A brilliant Eden Hazard helped Chelsea beat their West London opponents West Ham United 2-0, a match which saw the Blues mercurial midfielder Frank Lampard notch up a double century of goals for his side.

Liverpool were uncharacteristically poor versus Southampton in which aggressive pressing by the hosts and shambolic defending by the visitors saw the Merseyside team’s top four chances go up in smoke. With 12 goals in their last three matches many expected the resurgent Reds to steamroll relegation threatened Saints. But it was not to be as they were brought down to the ground with a resounding thud. Brendan Rodgers’ side are very much a work in progress.

5. The picture is becoming clearer at the bottom of the table

The Saints and the Villains pull away from the drop zone as Reading and QPR edge ever closer to the Championship. Southampton’s impressive 3-1 victory over a resurgent Liverpool gave them three priceless points and they are starting to draw away from the bottom three. A win for Paul Lambert’s Aston Villa over fellow relegation strugglers QPR helped them open up a three point lead over 18th place Wigan and condemned the Rangers to the bottom place on the League table. Joining them on 23 points and a good seven points adrift of safety are Reading, who were consigned to a 0-1 defeat at the hands of runaway leaders Manchester United at Old Trafford. So sacking Brian McDermott last week did nothing to reverse the fortunes of The Royals.

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11 thoughts on “5 Talking Points From Gameweek 30 of the Premier League”

  1. When were Liverpool even in the top-four race to begin with?

    I agree that refereeing decisions in general were atrocious throughout the past weekend. The FA better implement video technology or at least do something to try and solve this ongoing problem in football. Otherwise, bad calls like these will continue to happen which is definitely not what we all want.

    1. Agree that Liverpool were never in the top 4 race. Just because their manager siad they were that doesn’t make it true. In fact one of the reasons Liverpool are now firmly a mistable team is because they have a manager with a midtable mentality. He keeps making the same mistakes time and again.

      A few weeks ago Aston Villa were picked to be relegated but they have bounced back well and now I think they will avoid relegation. Next they play Liverpool at home and I think they’ll get at least a draw but a win is not out of the question either.

      The race for 3rd and 4th is going to go down to the wire with Chelsea, Arsenal and Spurs fighting for those spots. Arsenal have the easiest schedule left while Spurs have the toughest. Chelsea have a schedule overload and are still in the FA Cup as well. The team that misses out will get the Europa League spot as this year only the 5th place team will get it. They will join Swansea and Wigan or Millwall.

      It’s not video replay that is necessarily needed but officials doing a better job. The assistant in the Sunderland-Norwich game was awful. The 4th official on the sildelines should be watching the game and helping with the decisions. maybe add more officials if that would help. I think it’s more that the officials in the EPL are poor to begin with.

      1. I agree with you about Liverpool being a midtable team. I just don’t get the hype about Rodgers. He seems very average to me. Laudrup at Swansea is way better.

        I don’t agree about video replay not needed. I think it is definitely needed. Who will make the call as when to use it in a game is the big question.

      2. Even if the officials could do a better job, it does not guarantee that bad calls will not be made anymore. Yes, of course there will be less of those kinds of mistakes such as the ones made over the past weekend. However, there will still be certain incorrect decisions which are unavoidable without video technology and which cannot necessarily be blamed on the officials. Therefore, I think technology is still needed to help them do a better job.

        1. I think the point is that the opportunity is gone. Liverpool were never a shoe in or really in the race – but there was an outside chance. After that dismal display, not anymore.

          Saints do deserve credit though, they played really inspired ball.

  2. Earlier this year I thought Tottenham had a top 4 finish wrapped up, but now I’m not so sure. The struggles recently have really not helped them trying to dispel the “Bale or bust” notion.

  3. Re: Point 2 – While you’re on the subject of handballs, don’t leave out the one in the area in the Newcastle-Wigan match. Inexcusable for both the ref and the assistant to miss it, and the ball was in the net 5 seconds later to rob NUFC of a point.

  4. I’m pretty sure that RVP will have no problem not getting a Golden Boot so long as he gets to lift the Champions’ trophy. Yes, he’s struggled netting the ball lately, but he could change that with a hat trick in just about any given game.

  5. Video technology is the last thing this sport needs. One of the aspects I love about soccer is that it’s a continuous game, and stopping to watch video footage will jeprodize this. I know many people think this is a stupid position to take, but it you look at American football and Basketball they have video technology and often times bad calls are still made after the review and debated just as much. Yes it will reduce some of the obvious but it won’t fix everything and it will destroy another aspect of the sport, the lack of Comericals during a game. As soon as there is a chance people will be throwing ads at us during any break they can get. I for one hate watching commercials.

    I’m not against goal line tech. That’s a sensor that automatically signals a goal. No needless stoppage. And you can say video tech can be done without stoppage but the game is so fast that you can’t just recall a bad tackle or handball if you’re five possessions past it.

    On top of all this bad calls are a part of the game. They give the losing team and fans that sense of injustice and suddenly the loss might not be as bad because there was an awful call. It feeds into the cultural aspect surrounding the sport with banter, and hope that you can beat that team next time because they only won on a bad call.

    Agree or disagree but once you change the game that much you can’t go back and that’s something I don’t think people jumping toward technology are thinking about.

  6. I agree that instant replay is not needed, and will only slow the game down without necessarily resulting in better officiating. And while we’re on the subject of bad calls in the Everton/City match, let’s not forget the ridiculous offsides on Mirallas which robbed Everton of a goal. The handball was a bad call, but it goes both ways.

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