The drama just won't go away in 'crazy' start to EPL season

The drama just won't go away in 'crazy' start to EPL season

The first 0-0 draw after 47 games finally introduced a rare slice of sanity in what has been a crazy start to the 2020/21 Premier League season.

Although the goalless stalemate between West Bromwich and Burnley was as dire as the score suggests, three of the six draws over the weekend provided us with another round of almost unbelievable drama.

It is hard to pinpoint which ground -- Goodison Park or the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium -- witnessed the most dramatic match.

But let's start with the Merseyside derby which contained all the controversy we have come to expect from this fixture.

The 2-2 scoreline at Goodison didn't tell half the story. Overshadowing the whole match was the terrible injury to Liverpool's key defender Virgil van Dijk as a result of a wild tackle by Everton and England goalkeeper Jordan Pickford.

Why the volatile goalie did not get a red card only the referee and the VAR official know.

It looks like Van Dijk could be out for a long time which is a huge blow for both the player and Liverpool. Later, Everton's Richarlison received a red card for a nasty tackle on Thiago Alcantara.

As with many memorable games, the most dramatic moment came at the end when Jordan Henderson appeared to have won the match for the Reds.

But VAR intervened and Sadio Mane was ruled offside as he provided the cross for Henderson in a highly contentious decision.

To stop these ludicrous "offside by a whisker" rulings, surely it would make more sense to rule offside on where a player's feet are placed, making life a lot easier for officials.

At least the drama at Tottenham did not involve controversial decisions, but featured an extraordinary turnaround which saw West Ham score three goals in the closing minutes to earn themselves a most unlikely draw.

What made the recovery so extraordinary was that it never looked on the cards.

Tottenham had been brilliant in the first half thanks primarily to some terrific play by the dynamic duo, Harry Kane and Son Heung-Min.

Spurs eased off in the second half but with the score 3-0 in the 82nd minute the game looked done and dusted.

Everyone knows what happened after that and you couldn't ask for a more spectacular equaliser on the stroke of time than the 25-yard shot by Manuel Lanzini which actually felt more like a winner.

It was wonderful to see Hammers manager David Moyes jumping up and down in delight like a 12-year-old kid. Moyes, who was making his return to the touchline after missing two games due to Covid-19, hasn't had a lot to cheer about lately. It was pure theatre.

An intriguing sub-plot featured the introduction in the 72nd minute of Gareth Bale in his first appearance since his move from Real Madrid.

Bale had the opportunity to make it 4-2 shortly before Lanzini's heroics, but after some good footwork when it seemed he must score, the Welsh star fluffed his lines.

Another example of throwing away a comfortable lead occurred at Stamford Bridge where Chelsea once again shot themselves in the foot with some appalling defending.

The Blues had eased into an early 2-0 lead with fine goals from their German striker Timo Werner. But all it took was Southampton to pull one back and the hosts' confidence visibly collapsed, something Chelsea fans have witnessed all too regularly.

The second half was highlighted by an awful mix-up between Kurt Zouma and under-pressure custodian Kepa Arrizabalaga which led to gifting the Saints their second goal.

Manager Frank Lampard will hope the improved defensive performance against Sevilla in the Champions League, which ended in a scoreless draw, will be transferred into the Premier League games.

There was a silly incident in the Man City v Arsenal game, when Sergio Aguero put his hand on the neck of assistant referee Sian Massey-Ellis after disputing her throw-in decision.

Aguero knows better than to do that. Fortunately for the player, Massey-Ellis didn't make a fuss about it and no action will be taken.

After all that, Aston Villa were the only team in the entire English league with a 100 percent record.

They were second behind Everton before Villa hosted Leeds last night.

Villa are a totally different proposition to last season's team which just escaped relegation. The squad has been significantly strengthened with the signings of Argentine goalkeeper Emi Martinez and creative midfielder Ross Barkley who had been struggling to get a place at Chelsea.

Barkley appears to be relishing his new role at Villa, taking a lot of pressure off Jack Grealish.

Off the pitch, there was some eyebrow-raising news as teams announced their 25-man squads for the rest of the season.

At Stamford Bridge, former star goalkeeper and now technical adviser Peter Cech has been named in the squad as "emergency cover," highlighting Chelsea's goalkeeping concerns.

More significantly, Arsenal have not included Mesut Oezil in either their Premier League or Europa League squads.

It prompted an emotional statement from the highly-paid player who commented: "I pledged my loyalty and allegiance to the club that I love, Arsenal, and it saddens me this has not been reciprocated.''

He really needs to move on.

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