Gameweek 5 of the Premier League was another rollercoaster weekend of action with teams from the big six dropping points, while the likes of Sheffield United and Fulham picked up their first point of the season. The past weekend’s action also witnessed the Merseyside derby and needless to say, there were plenty of flashpoints as Everton lost their perfect start to the campaign following a 2-2 draw with Liverpool. The only team remaining in England that enjoys a 100 per cent record is Aston Villa, who made it four wins from four after a late winner by Ross Barkley gave them a win over Leicester City. Here are some of the talking points from the week gone by.
Virgil van Dijk’s injury blows title race open
Everton and Liverpool were involved in an exciting 2-2 draw that witnessed just about everything from red cards and disallowed goals to VAR controversy. However, the biggest fallout from the encounter has to be the injury of Virgil van Dijk. The Dutch centre-back has been integral to Liverpool’s successes since his arrival, having hardly missed a minute of action. That said, he looks set to miss the rest of the season after suffering an ACL injury following a tackle by Jordan Pickford. It’s no secret that van Dijk’s presence at the back for Liverpool has had a transformative effect on the fortunes of the club and him out for the entirety of the season comes as a major setback for Jurgen Klopp’s men.
Open league with no team dominating rest of the competition
Unlike the last three seasons when Liverpool and Manchester City were blowing away the competition with 90 plus point campaigns, the ongoing season is keeping everyone guessing. Liverpool, Chelsea, Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur all dropped points over the weekend as sides from the big six continue to find it difficult to string a run of positive results together. Even though it’s still early days with Liverpool and City likely to rise to the challenge as the season progresses, it’s safe to say we won’t be seeing any club getting to or close to 100 points this year.
Gareth Bale second stint at Spurs won’t be as team’s talisman
𝐌𝐚𝐫𝐜𝐡 𝟐𝟎𝟏𝟏— Squawka Football (@Squawka) October 18, 2020
48': Wolves 2-3 Spurs
69': Bale comes on
87': Wolves 3-3 Spurs
HT: Spurs 3-0 West Ham
72': Bale comes on
90+4': Spurs 3-3 West Ham
Nine years between Gareth Bale's last two sub appearances for Spurs. Same result. 👻 pic.twitter.com/SipLKSwWeh
Spurs were leading 3-0 against West Ham United when Gareth Bale was introduced from the bench and while it wouldn’t be fair to say that his presence on the pitch coincided with Tottenham conceding thrice, a quick glance at his cameo doesn’t do him any favours. Still lacking match sharpness, Bale struggled to impose himself on the match and even missed a chance to seal the win for his team. But what stood out even more during his time on the field was that this Bale is very different from the one that Spurs sold in 2013. With several influential talents like Harry Kane and Son Heung-min now in the team, Bale is no longer the go-to man for the club and must first focus on earning a starting spot with the north London club.
Ross Barkley enjoying start to life with high-flying Aston Villa
2 - Ross Barkley has scored in each of his two Premier League appearances for Aston Villa (2 goals), as many as he managed in his last 42 for Chelsea before moving to Villa Park. Quality. pic.twitter.com/Cbz8FHfH8m— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) October 18, 2020
A major reason behind Aston Villa having such a solid start to their season is the form of Barkley. Since joining Villa from Chelsea on loan, Barkley has had a big say in the club’s fortunes. He netted for them against Liverpool in the last gameweek and scored the winner against Leicester over the weekend. Barkley and Jack Grealish together could help Aston Villa make a push for a European spot finish this season with the former finally looking like he’s at a club that’s making the best use of his talent, unlike his Chelsea stint where he was constantly in and out of the team.
Feature image courtesy: AFP / Peter Byrne