The main story coming out of the sixth batch of games in the Premier League was a criticism of the officials with some decisions looking fairly bizarre. Newcastle drew 0-0 at home to Crystal Palace but many believe they should have been awarded a goal and three points which was denied to them. On a wider scale like most weeks was all of the goals chalked off for 'offside'. Everton's effort against Liverpool in the Merseyside derby was a good example. Was the goal technically offside? By the book it was but where do the lines end when a player's elbow, nose or haircut is offside? Surely the whole point of the offside rule is to punish the player who is trying to 'goal hang' and effectively cheat but when it can be determined that your small finger was offside how is that in any way cheating? If it is then surely the forward player has to be a genius at times to keep on.
And then we have the event which occurred at Stamford Bridge- Chelsea the favourites to beat West Ham were 2-1 up as the game was nearing the end and then the Hammers equalised, pandemonium ensued in the away end, sheer joy for the goalscorer Maxwell Cornet and an unlikely point had been gained, except it hadn't because Chelsea's goalkeeper Edouard Mendy was writhing on the floor- something had happened. VAR had asked the referee to check his monitor replays had shown us that Jarrod Bowen had had to jump over Mendy as the goalkeeper batted the ball away as he was on the ground, that loose ball found West Ham who were attacking and the goal was made. However Bowen's left foot seemed to have touched Mendy. His right foot had its studs showing. We were soon told after the referee disallowed the goal because of a foul on Mendy that we had witnessed a shocking decision and one of the worst in the Premier League. Hyperbole is everything to some fans, but this was not one of the worst decisions. From a fans point of view what could be wrong? After all Bowen had no choice but to try and jump over Mendy, there was contact but hardly anything, how could it be Bowen's fault? This seems agreeable until we understand that if a goal keeper is touched in most attacking situations they get a lot of protection and usually the benefit of the doubt. Fans vs how officials view the game ensued. Bowen did touch Mendy and it didn't look like enough to cause the goal keeper pain. At the final whistle he was normal, no pain at all, and it looked as though he had taken advantage of the contact. However we have seen many times before how goalkeepers are protected, the best examples of that are during corners. The wrong decision? Yes it was but a shocking decision? Hardly. Anyhow with so many VAR interferences and 'mistakes' the Premier League will officially review the events and even set up an enquiry, it is hard to understand what this will resolve, there will be more questionable decisions next week and the week after that.
Erling Haaland is all the talk of the Premier League and he scored his 10th goal, although Manchester City could only draw 1-1 away to a gritty Aston Villa side whose manager Steven Gerrard is under pressure to keep his job, he would have been relived with this fantastic point for them. But Haaland is a goal machine and he needs just 1 more goal to beat Richarlison's tally for Everton last season. He needs just 3 goals to equal Raheem Sterling's total haul for last season and has almost half of the goals that leading scorers Mohamed Salah and Heung Min-Son scored last season. It is simply mind boggling. Haaland's next defence to be terrorised will be a mouth watering affair at home against Tottenham who beat City last season. But before that he will partake in the Champions League.
The Champions League returns this week and you sense there is a pressure on Manchester City out of all of the English sides to go on and win the competition. Chelsea have been there and won it as have Liverpool, and Tottenham will go out there and try to enjoy the competition once again. But City like French champions PSG are almost expected to win it with the money poured into the clubs and the huge financial backing and ambition. Both clubs should go very far and City will be hoping they now have the striker to get them goals in the biggest of games that they were missing last season.
To win the Champions League: Manchester City 3.25, PSG 6.00, Liverpool 7.00, Bayern Munich 8.00, Real Madrid 11.00