English football is going from the sublime to the ridiculous.
The 2020/21 Premier League season was always going to be slightly surreal.
Playing behind closed doors means we’ve got fake crowd noise, commentators constantly apologising for players swearing, and it might explain freak results like Aston Villa beating Liverpool 3-2.
Yet in terms of lunacy, you’d be hard-pressed to beat Saturday lunchtime’s Merseyside derby.
The history books will record a 2-2 draw, but that only tells half the story. Jordan Henderson was robbed of a late winner due to the most marginal of offsides judged against Sadio Mane.
There had already been controversy aplenty when Jordan Pickford’s dangerous tackle on Virgil van Dijk went unpunished.
A wry smile was the only response Jurgen Klopp could muster at full-time, and who could blame him?
After all, even the most absurd refereeing and VAR decisions are becoming par for the course. So, here at GIVEMESPORT, we’ve gone through the very worst of the season so far.
8 – Matt Doherty handball vs Southampton
Son Heung-min’s masterclass meant Doherty was easily forgiven for giving away a penalty. It was the first of a number of ludicrous handball decisions that have been enforced thanks to the new rule, and it won’t be the last.
7 – Allowing Kai Havertz’s handball vs West Brom
Timo Werner also handled in the build-up to one of his goals against Southampton. That wasn’t the first incident Chelsea got away with. The Blues’ blushes were spared by a late equaliser against West Brom, but one that shouldn’t have stood given Havertz’s handball just moments earlier.
6 – Erik Lamela going unpunished
Anthony Martial made a severe error of judgment when he reacted to Lamela’s antics. The Spurs forward was guilty of some dreadful playacting – but he should also have been punished for raising his arm against the Frenchman.
5 – Crystal Palace’s penalty retake
The handball itself against Victor Lindelof was very harsh. Martin Atkinson subsequently made Crystal Palace retake their spot-kick, which David de Gea had saved, because the ‘keeper was just marginally off his line.
4 – Jordan Pickford unpunished for Van Dijk tackle
The fact that Pickford wasn’t sent off for a tackle that has, according to reports, left Van Dijk with a potentially season-ending injury isn’t just wrong – it’s dangerous.
3 – Man Utd’s penalty after the final whistle v Brighton
Such is the universe’s commitment to giving Manchester United penalties that they now get them even after the final whistle has gone. Nobody is safe. Neal Maupay did commit a handball under the new guidance, but the game was over by the time the decision was made. Incredible.
2 – Eric Dier’s ‘handball’ vs Newcastle
Those at Stockley Park will insist that, technically, it is the new handball rule and all VAR is doing is enforcing it. That was no consolation to Tottenham, though, when they were denied two points in stoppage time against Newcastle having dominated all game.
1 – Sadio Mane’s ‘offside’ vs Everton
No matter how many times you watch Jordan Henderson’s winner, and however the lines are drawn, it’s just impossible to see how Mane was declared offside.
We’re just four weeks in and the Premier League is already proving more controversial than ever.
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