An action-packed Merseyside derby kicked off Matchday 5 of the 2020/21 EPL season, with VAR controversy and Virgil van Dijk’s injury dominating the headlines.
Chelsea was held to a 3-3 draw by Southampton, while Tottenham collapsed and threw away a three-goal lead against West Ham. We also saw the first 0-0 of the season as West Brom and Burnley finally produced a goalless draw in the 47th game of the campaign.
There are plenty of talking points from the weekend’s Premier League action. In this post, I look at the biggest EPL winners and losers from Matchday 5.
Winner: Manuel Lanzini
What. A. Goal.
Manuel Lanzini has been a peripheral figure at West Ham recently. In fact, the Argentine was an unused substitute in each of the opening four Premier League games this season.
But David Moyes decided to give him a rare opportunity to prove himself on Sunday, and it’s safe to say that Lanzini repaid his manager’s faith. And then some.
When Tottenham raced into a 3-0 lead inside 16 minutes at the London Stadium, the Hammers looked dead and buried. However, West Ham managed to pull two goals back late on, setting up a dramatic finish to the game.
In the fourth minute of injury time, Lanzini found himself on the edge of the penalty area. He rifled the ball into the top corner of Spurs’ net to earn his side the most unlikely of draws.
West Ham trailed Spurs 3-0 with 11 mins to go
? Kane hits post for a hat-trick 79'
⚽️ Balbuena 82'
⚽️ Sanchez og 85'
? Bale misses chance 90+2
The center-back was the victim of a wild tackle from Everton goalkeeper Jordan Pickford – more on that later – and was forced to leave the pitch with less than 10 minutes on the clock at Goodison Park.
This isn’t just a huge disappointment for van Dijk, it is also a massive loss for Liverpool. The commanding defender played every league game for the Reds in the past two seasons and was a key figure in the club’s Premier League triumph last term.
Although Liverpool has not yet specified how long the Dutchman will be out of action, it generally takes players a minimum of six months to recover from an ACL injury, often longer.
Needless to say, van Dijk will be sorely missed in Liverpool’s backline.
Winner: Manchester United
Following their 6-1 thrashing at the hands of Tottenham, it was imperative that Manchester United returned from the international break with a positive result.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s men actually got off to the worst possible start on Saturday, with Luke Shaw’s own goal gifting Newcastle the lead after just two minutes.
But after that, it was one-way traffic.
Harry Maguire equalized for Man Utd midway through the first half, with late goals from Bruno Fernandes, Aaron Wan-Bissaka, and Marcus Rashford capping off a statement victory for the Red Devils.
Man Utd finished the game having racked up 64% possession and 28 shots (14 on target). Following a shaky start to the season, Solskjaer will no doubt be pleased with his team’s performance on Matchday 5.
Loser: Chelsea’s Defense (Again)
The Blues conceded three goals in a Premier League game for the second time this season as they twice threw away their lead against Southampton to eventually draw 3-3.
An eye-catching Timo Werner brace gave Chelsea a two-goal advantage inside 30 minutes, and Frank Lampard’s side looked comfortable. But Danny Ings netted for Saints on the stroke of half-time, before a calamitous mix-up between Kurt Zouma and Kepa saw Che Adams equalize after the break.
Since Frank Lampard arrived, only Southampton, Aston Villa, West Ham and Brighton have conceded more goals of current Premier League teams.
Kai Havertz restored Chelsea’s advantage, but there was still time for Southampton to score again. Lampard’s men failed to deal with a late free-kick, and Jannik Vestergaard punished them.
The Blues may be the second-highest scorers in the EPL, but they have now conceded nine goals in five games this term. If the backline continues to leak goals, Chelsea will struggle to finish in the top four.
Winner: Ross Barkley
It is difficult not to be happy for Ross Barkley at the moment.
The 26-year-old has struggled to make an impact at Chelsea since arriving from Everton in 2018, with Antonio Conte, Maurizio Sarri, and Frank Lampard all using him sparingly at Stamford Bridge.
But the midfielder has hit the ground running following his loan move to Aston Villa, and he scored for the second game in a row for his new club on Matchday 5.
After netting in Villa’s remarkable 7-2 thrashing of Liverpool, Barkley scored the winning goal against Leicester on Sunday, firing a superb long-range strike past Kasper Schmeichel to hand his side all three points in injury time.
In the process, Barkley maintained Villa’s 100% EPL record. Dean Smith’s team has won each of their opening four league games this season, scoring 12 goals while conceding just two.
Matchday 4 was unusual for many reasons. Villa humiliated Liverpool, Spurs crushed Man Utd, and Leeds managed to hold Man City to a draw. But for the first time in a long time, there wasn’t any VAR controversy.
However, it was only going to be a matter of time before technology took center stage again.
It has been reported that David Coote – the video assistant referee for the Merseyside derby – failed to look at Pickford’s horror tackle on van Dijk. An offside was awarded before the incident, and it is believed that Coote was unaware that he could punish Pickford retrospectively.
I’m sure we can all agree that Pickford’s tackle deserved a red card.
And to make matters worse, Jordan Henderson had a late winner ruled out for offside, with replays appearing to show Sadio Mane level with the last Everton defender.
In my opinion, VAR is sucking the life out of the game.
Winner: The Kane and Son Combo
Despite throwing away a 3-0 lead against West Ham, Tottenham still has something to be excited about. Harry Kane and Son Heung-min combined for their eighth EPL goal this season on Matchday 5, with the duo moving fourth in the all-time EPL charts.
28 – Son Heung-min and Harry Kane have combined for 28 Premier League goals, the fourth-most of any duo in Premier League history and the most of any current duo. Rising. pic.twitter.com/2sCBdVc5gx
Kane assisted Son for the opening goal with a phenomenal long-range pass, before Son returned the favor to set up Kane a few minutes later. The forwards appear to have developed a seemingly telepathic understanding this season, and Kane is clearly enjoying his newly-found deeper role.
Son now has seven goals and two assists in five Premier League appearances this term, while Kane has notched up five goals and seven assists in that time.
Tottenham supporters will probably still be feeling down about Sunday’s result, but at least Kane and Son gave them something to cheer about.
Burnley may have picked up their first point of the season on Monday, but I’m still classing Sean Dyche’s men as Matchday 5 losers.
The Clarets finished the previous campaign in fine form, losing just two of their final 16 outings in 2019/20. But having lost their opening three games this term, Monday’s draw with West Brom failed to lift the club out of the bottom three.
It is too early to view Burnley as a relegation candidate, although Dyche’s side has made a terrible start to the season. It goes without saying that one point from a possible 12 is a poor record.
Unfortunately, it doesn’t get any easier for Burnley. With Tottenham and Chelsea up next, Dyche’s men could struggle to pick up any points from their next two games.
While the Merseyside derby was marred by controversy, it is important to remember that Everton maintained their unbeaten start to the season on Matchday 5. The Toffees definitely deserve a mention having established a one-point lead at the top of the table.
Fulham and Sheffield United remain bottom and second-bottom respectively following their 1-1 draw on Sunday. Both sides picked up their first point of the campaign, but I don’t think either manager will be happy with the current EPL standings.
Make sure you keep an eye out for the biggest EPL winners and losers from Matchday 6 next week. You can also find free predictions and betting tips for the Premier League in our soccer picks section.