Another round of Premier League football has come to an end and it has finished with the same two teams on top of the ladder with both dropping one.
One side was far happier with the result however.
We take a look at the biggest talking points from matchday 10.
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VINTAGE MOURINHO AGAINST CHELSEA
This week’s London derby between Tottenham and Chelsea pitted the league’s two highest scoring teams against one another.
Neither side managed to add to their tally on Monday (AEDT), with each having to settle for a point in a 0-0 draw.
Speaking after the match, Spurs boss Jose Mourinho insisted his team was not happy with the draw.
“A draw at Stamford Bridge is usually a positive thing and staying top of the league is also a positive thing,” Mourinho said. “But my dressing room isn’t happy with that and that is fantastic.
“It’s a complete change of mentality and personality.”
Nevertheless, there was no doubt he had set his side out with the priority being to leave Stamford Bridge with at least one point.
Tottenham had just 39 per cent of the ball and one shot on target all match — a long range effort from rightback Serge Aurier.
“That was a game where we respected them and they respected us. Nobody gambled today or tried to change the direction of the game.
“Everybody was in a situation of one mistake wins the game, especially in the last 15 minutes.”
That lack of risk-taking and his defensive approach in such a big game might not rub everyone the right way but at the end of the round Tottenham remains on top of the Premier League ladder.
The past two seasons have been decided by which team can be the most perfect, with Liverpool and Manchester City finding unparalleled levels of consistency.
This season will be decided by which team can be the least imperfect. With every team dropping points regularly, sorting out the must-win matches from the must-not-lose matches is going to be key.
A BAD WEEK FOR VAR
It is often said that the less you speak about a referee, the better they have performed in a match. This season we can’t stop talking about VAR and that is a problem.
VAR was a talking point from the start of matchday 10 to the end of it, with its fingerprints all over Liverpool’s draw against Brighton and West Ham’s win over Aston Villa.
Liverpool had two goals chalked off against Brighton and then saw two points go down the drain as VAR uncovered what it, and the onfield referee after being instructed to take a second look in slow motion, deemed a foul in the box.
Mo Salah was the first Red to fall foul of VAR in the match as his opener was scratched off for having a toe just offside. It would have felt a close call if we weren’t so used to seeing shirtsleeves called offside — more on that later.
It was then Sadio Mane’s turn to have his celebrations turn sour as his header off a free kick was ruled out for another offside. This time VAR showed just what it was brought in for. Mane was clearly offside and the touchline assistant should have spotted it.
However, just as quickly as VAR showed how it can benefit the game by remedying howlers like that, it set the football world alight again when it spotted the slightest of contact from Andy Robertson on Danny Welbeck in the box in stoppage time.
Welbeck got to a contested ball a fraction of a second ahead of Robertson and the contact the Liverpool defender made with the striker was too minimal to see in real time. Welbeck went down belatedly as the ball was cleared and there were no protests for a penalty from the Brighton players as the match continued before suddenly the onfield referee was instructed to take a second look.
Welbeck called it a “soft penalty” after the match, while Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson claimed four or five Brighton players had told him it wasn’t a penalty.
After the match, Liverpool midfielder James Milner tweeted that VAR was killing the fans’ love of the game.
“We need a serious discussion about VAR. Sure I’m not alone in feeling like they are falling out of love with the game in its current state.”
Those sentiments were echoed by Robertson later in the week.
“It is affecting players, but it is affecting the whole game,” he said.
“A lot of people I have spoken to are not enjoying football as much as they once did because it is constantly in review, constantly on a screen and you are still not getting the consistency we are looking for. I agree with Milly. A lot of footballers and a lot of fans would agree with him, too.
“Football is a great game that we fell in love with, and are still in love with, and it is important we don’t lose that. I am all for change and we have to move with the times but it is important to remember the key values of football that made us fall in love with it.”
Fast forward to the final game of the round, and VAR was again the main talking point as Aston Villa saw its late equaliser against West Ham chalked off for the tightest of offsides — the end Ollie Watkins shirtsleeve judged to be just ahead of the shirtsleeve of Vladimir Coufal.
But while VAR was ready to make a call on margins that fine, it opted not to weigh in on the fact Watkins was seemingly being held back by West Ham centre back Angelo Ogbonna.
“You actually look and it is off his shirt (the offside line), you actually think about how long these shirts are would that make a difference?” a befuddled Jamie Carragher said on Sky Sports post-game.
“He is actually being grappled by the defender, he is trying to get off him and the fact he is trying to get off him means he is offside. It could actually be a penalty, he’s actually stopping him moving, he’s got use his arms and then his arm is offside.
“They are so obsessed with looking for the offside that they miss the foul.”
GUNNERS IN TROUBLE
Ten games into the season and Arsenal sit a lowly 14th on the ladder, only ahead of 15th placed Crystal Palace on goal difference.
And that is a position the Gunners have earnt too. The club was seemingly on an upward trajectory when it trumped Manchester United 1-0 in early November but in truth that win was simply papering over the cracks.
It was a win that followed back-to-back defeats in the league in which Arsenal had failed to score and it was followed by two more matches in which the Gunners did not find the back of the net – a 3-0 loss to Aston Villa and 0-0 draw against Leeds.
The goal against United had come from the penalty spot too.
On Monday (AEDT), Arsenal scored its first goal in open play in the Premier League since October 5. Unfortunately for Gunners faithful, it still finished in a 2-1 defeat to Wolverhampton.
It is hard to see how Arsenal digs itself out of the hole it currently finds itself in. While there is a clear style of play Mikel Arteta has instilled the disconnect between midfield and forward line is even more obvious.
There is a lack of both creativity and confidence.
Something needs to change.
THE REAL CITY SHOW UP
Manchester City remains six points behind the ladder leaders but Pep Guardiola’s side has seemingly found its groove and with a game in hand it has time to make that ground up.
City had gone seven Premier League matches without scoring multiple goals in a game and had only scored just 10 across its opening eight fixtures.
To put that in perspective, the same club took just three matches to reach double digits last season and has finished each of the past three seasons as the league’s top scoring side.
Something was amiss and Guardiola said as much after his team’s 2-0 defeat to Tottenham last week.
“We had a long period without strikers but can’t expect they will solve all our problems,” he said. “We create chances; we have counter attacks without the last pass. We’re going to change; something is going to break in games.”
On Sunday (AEDT), something did the break — the flood gates.
City rolled Burnley 5-0, with Benjamin Mendy, Ferran Torres and hat-trick hero Riyad Mahrez all finding the back of the net.
City has Fulham up next before taking on crosstown rivals Manchester United.
Fulham has been the league’s most porous side, leaking 19 goals across its first 10 games. Guardiola will be aiming to deal out another drubbing against the relegation scrappers before the trip to Old Trafford. Wins in both those games and things start to look far more rosy for City.
UNITED FINDS ITS FEET BUT DEALT PIVOTAL BLOW
Just as the pressure was starting to mount on manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, Manchester United has returned to winning ways but could soon be dealt a crippling blow.
The Norwegian was on the chopping block after a shock loss to Istanbul Basaksehir last month but the Red Devils have bounced back in a big way since then, winning four games on the trot in all competitions including three in the league.
United wound back the clock to “Fergie time” against Southampton, coming from behind to beat the Saints in stoppage time this week.
United trailed 2-0 at halftime before a Edinson Cavani inspired comeback.
The supersub teed up Bruno Fernandes in the box for United’s opener in the 60th minute, before equalising with a diving header off a deflected Fernandes shot in the 74th minute. He then wrapped up all three points with another smart header in stoppage time.
“Edinson made a great impact,” Solskjaer said after the game. “We know he is one of the cleverest and best movers in the box, he can peel off you, get in front of you.”
Indeed, the Uruguayan has been pivotal in this recent run of form for United, with three goals across the past three league wins.
That makes his mooted suspension an even tougher blow for the club.
Cavani could face a three-game ban if the FA finds he used discriminatory or racist language in a social media post.
The 33-year-old striker sent an Instagram post thanking a friend for his congratulations after scoring twice as United came from 2-0 down to win 3-2 on Sunday that included the Spanish word “negrito” (small black person).
He has since apologised for the post, explaining it is an “affectionate greeting” in Uruguay.
“The message I posted after the match on Sunday was intended as an affectionate greeting to a friend, thanking him for his congratulations after the game,” Cavani said in a statement.
“The last thing I wanted to do was cause offence to anyone. I am completely opposed to racism and deleted the message as soon as it was explained that it can be interpreted differently. I would like to sincerely apologise for this.”