Manchester United 8-2 Arsenal. Who could have seen that coming? Arsenal had just suffered one of their most humiliating defeats of their entire era. With young and ultimately inexperienced players in the starting eleven, Arsène Wenger had nobody to blame but himself for what had happened that fateful day. A super hat-trick from main-man Wayne Rooney put to bed what was one of the biggest rivalries of the Premier League. One club clearly had the upper hand.
The Theatre of Dreams became a place of nightmares for Arsenal as they slumped to their third consecutive defeat away to Manchester United. What’s more remarkable is the fact that since March 1993, Arsenal have only won three times at Old Trafford, all 1-0, out of a possible 20 fixtures. Everybody knows the Red Devils are their most prolific when at home but for Arsenal, does this season’s match already look a foregone conclusion?
With penalty decisions, number of yellow and red cards distributed and the on-going debate on diving, referees have one of the toughest jobs in the game. From calling an offside decision to playing advantage, every outcome in modern day football seems to come from the whistle. But just how many mistakes can influence a game?
Just this week, there have been more referring errors than ever before this season and what is more, pundits and fans are seeing the wrong decisions being made time and time again. Mikel Arteta’s 84th minute goal sealed the three points for Arsenal against a spirited QPR side but the Spanish midfielder was very much offside when he headed against the bar before tapping in from close range.
Javier Hernandez was another culprit at Stamford Bridge when he easily finished from a couple of yards whilst being quite clearly offside. To the referee and linesman, the game is being played live and at such an intense speed, it’s not overly harsh to forgive them for missing it. However when goal-line technology is just around the corner, are their jobs at stake?
Diving. As soon as you see a player take a spectacular tumble in the box, all eyes move to the referee in the hope that he has realised it was an un-provoked assault. Yet, more often than not the wrong decision is made and what was a dive soon becomes a penalty.
Just how many times have we seen it this season?
By starting off the great scrutiny of diving, the very first person anyone would mention is a certain Liverpool striker, Luis Suarez. His tendency to theatrically go down in the box has caused much uproar in recent times. What's worse is the fact that on some occasions, the Uruguayan has actually been fouled but such is his reputation that referees decide to turn a blind eye.
Robert Huth should have actually been sent off as he stamped on Suarez's chest. But the matter of fact remains that Liverpool's number 9 took an exaggerated fall in the box. This has happened time and time again over the years, with the likes of Ashley Young and more recently Danny Welbeck.
Biggest EPL Surprises: Liverpool FC's Fall, WBA's Ambition And Manchester City FC's Leakage (Part Two)
Having made a start on the astonishments that fans have witnessed in the 2012/13 season thus far, here is the second half of surprises.
Liverpool’s Fall From Grace
Football fans have the best banter and for Liverpool followers, unfortunately they get it the worst. History counts for little in the eyes of the media but it is something every true fan cherishes. Yet seeing your favourite club go from contending for the Champions League to trying to scrape to a Europa League spot can be tough. With new manager Brendan Rodgers under great scrutiny to avoid former boss Kenny Dalglish’s mistakes, the start to the new season has only strengthened his criticisers.
In the first six games, Liverpool failed to secure a single win and were dogged by individual errors at the back. Martin Skrtel was the main perpetrator in the 2-2 draw to Manchester City when he played a back-pass straight to Carlos Tevez to gift the away side a goal. Only in the seventh game against Stoke did Pepe Reina manage to successfully keep a clean sheet, illustrating just how poorly the back five have been.
The 2012/13 English Premier League season has never been more competitive. Not only are there five potential candidates for the title, six clubs are facing the hazardous fall to relegation. With only seven games into the new season, it can’t be predicted who will end where, but then again, when has football ever been predictable?
This time last season, Manchester United had stormed into first place with 19 points and were meticulously followed by Manchester City, also on 19. Bolton Wanderers and Blackburn Rovers shared 19th and 20th position after seven games and were both relegated by May. Can the end of season table really be decided in October?
Here are a few surprises that have come our way.
Everton’s Fearless Rise