It hasn't taken long for the Premier League to take off where it left off. Aston Villa will be thanking their lucky stars as hawk-eye failed for the first time since its introduction in the Premier League as Nyland carried the ball over his goal-line and despite the Norwegian goalkeeper knowing it, nothing came of it as Sheffield United had to settle for a 0-0 draw at Villa Park. Manchester City came good at an empty Etihad Stadium thanks to a David Luiz horror show as the hosts ran out 3-0 winners against Arsenal in comfortable fashion. But what have we learnt so far from this very different experience of Premier League action?
Premier League promotion, Sunday League product.
The Premier League brand is one of the strongest in the world, built on the image of high intensity play and high levels of drama. We all love a bit of excitement but it goes beyond drama when we have experienced game after game being impacted by scandalous decisions, despite the technology and an abundance of wealth being available.
Just when you had 100 days to forget everything wrong with VAR and make a fresh start, up steps hawk-eye which failed to detect that the ball had clearly gone over Aston Villa's goal-line in the first half. I have full sympathy with referee Michael Oliver on this incident, he is reliant on the technology providing him with the decision and with the game carrying on swiftly he needed help in this unlikely circumstance.
Once again a major decision has impacted a result and has shaped the points tally throughout this campaign. To highlight the significance it prevents Sheffield United going 5th, above Manchester United in their quest for Europe and it provides Villa with a point, which could be key come the end of the season, despite the Villains still remaining in the bottom three.
Personally I have been sick and tired of the incompetence shown in the Premier League this season. VAR has been a farce and it's an insult to the fans when the likes of Sky Sports continue to hype up their prized possession as being anything but a complete shambles. So to not even last 45 minutes into the restart without a massive blunder is tiring. We are being served a Sunday League product and it's not good enough. Any enthusiasm I had, albeit hesitant was wiped away as play resumed at Villa Park in the 41st minute.
2. New rules, no integrity.
The quick turn around for the restart seems to have forced new rules to be applied to the league, while this is happening in other leagues around Europe, it doesn't make it right. Last night drinks breaks were mandatory and broke up the game needlessly.
5 substitutes are now allowed during 3 actions. Manchester City brought on Bernardo Silva, Phil Foden, Fernandinho, Rodri and Sergio Aguero against Arsenal. I think that says it all when it comes to the fair nature of the competition. It's one thing Pep Guardiola showboating his all star squad with 3 substitutions, it's another thing changing the rules during the season making the disparity even greater.
The competition loses all sense of integrity when there is no continuity or equilibrium from start to finish. I think fans can completely accept the empty stadiums as part of the times we are in but last night did not do the competition any favours. In many ways the 5 subs were justified as players were going down with cramp and there were a few injuries, but this simply suggests that the players have been rushed into finishing the league as quick as possible, at the expense of the quality of competition it claims to possess.
3. Football without fans, is something.
While football fans are reduced to watching on TV, it was interesting to see how it came through as a spectacle. As a fan experience, particularly as a neutral it was certainly not a bad experience. Without the fan noise it was good to hear the players and managers communicating on the field and all 4 teams applied themselves without the extra lift of a crowd.
With the fan noise in the background, the constant feel of the crowd did add something although the increase in volume when a tame shot or cross came in was fairly comical. There was clear organisation on show and I think there was an attempt to get the game at a competitive tempo which was promising at the very least.
I think if throughout the remaining games, the players manage to stay self-motivated and give their all like yesterday then there could be some good games to come. It did have a strange feel at the end of the Villa game where there was a lack of emotion on show from what was an important game for both sides, it felt like a friendly where the result wasn't significant. Perhaps this would've been different if the score hadn't been 0-0 but this probably does highlight the effect of the crowd which is fairly inevitable.
It's good to be back, isn't it?
What do you make of these thoughts? Let us know in the comments below!