Jai Singh takes a look at this week’s action.
Everton and West Ham in the race for Top 4
If you would have given Everton and West Ham fans the opportunity to be fighting for a Europa League spot at the start of the season, both sets of fans would have probably bitten your hand off. However, with the way this season has panned out, both sides are in with a genuine chance of securing a top 4 finish. Everton won their first game at Anfield in over 20 years, with goals from Richarlison and Gylfi Sigurdsson securing a famous 2-0 win. The result puts them level on points with Liverpool, and five points behind fourth place (with a game in hand.)
West Ham’s victory over Spurs on Sunday saw them move into that final Champions League spot. David Moyes’ side have arguably been the surprise package this season. Even the most ardent of supporters would not have thought they would have been 4th a third of the season to play.
Given how tight the table is, both sides will need to keep up this form if either of them is to finish in the elusive Champions League spot. In the strangest of seasons, anything is possible.
Leicester or Man United?
Whilst there are several teams fighting for that final Champions League spot, Leicester and Manchester United are seemingly pulling away from the pack. Both secured victories this weekend to extend the gap to 5th to 7 points. The question is, which team will finish second? Whilst there is no prize for finishing second, both sides will take pride in being ‘the best of the rest’, given the way City have stormed to the top over recent weeks.
It will be a solid foundation to build on, and one which both sides will look to improve on if they are to mount a title challenge next season. Leicester look free flowing, and always pose a threat with Vardy in the side. The loss of James Maddison to injury could be a devastating one, both for Leicester and Maddison’s own European hopes. The English midfielder has been one of the form players in 2021.
Manchester United have seemingly returned to form following a slight wobbly from their last 5 league games. They beat Newcastle 3-1 and will be looking forward to resting some players following their impressive away victory over Sociedad on Thursday. With the sides still to meet this season at Old Trafford, the race for 2nd will go down to the wire.
VAR controversary. Again.
Whilst we would all love to talk about amazing football, VAR seems to be stealing the limelight every week. The decision to award a penalty to Everton following Calvert-Lewin tripping over Alexander-Arnold’s head as he lay on the floor was a contentious one to say the least. Even worse, was the laughable review by referee Chris Kavanagh. Advised to go to the screen, he was approximately there for 3 seconds, and saw only one angle before deciding to stick with his decision. If the video assistant referee saw enough to inform the on-field referee to look at his decision, why did he spend so little time to thoroughly consider his final decision?
To compound matters, a few hours later, Sheffield United were denied a late penalty for a challenge in the box where there was arguably more intent from Areola on Bogle. The inconsistency, both in the decision making and the rules are leading to confusion on the pitch, and a movement away from the game we all love.