Frank Lampard's substitutions
Half an hour into Chelsea’s game at Arsenal on Sunday it looked as though the Blues were headed for a sixth defeat in eight league games. Having recognised that his 3-4-3 formation left the visitors overrun in midfield, Frank Lampard opted for an early change as Jorginho replaced Emerson Palmieri. Within minutes the Blues had more control of the ball, and it was the Italian who levelled the scores late on. Fellow substitutes Tariq Lamptey and Callum Hudson-Odoi caused problems on the wings too as the Gunners eventually succumbed to pressure.
Everton’s revival continued as Carlo Ancelotti led the Toffees to a second straight win under his tenure with a narrow victory over Newcastle. The main beneficiary of the Italian’s appointment so far appears to be Dominic Calvert-Lewin, who found the net twice on Saturday just days after scoring the winner against Burnley. With Everton’s other striker options less than convincing, a clean slate under a new manager could prove the opportunity he has desperately sought.
Having seemed destined for relegation as little as a month ago, Watford are now only three points from safety following a win over fellow strugglers Aston Villa. The Hornets took a 1-0 lead into half time before they were reduced to ten men shortly before the hour mark. However, instead of relinquishing their lead they instead found two further goals to run out comfortable winners, as Troy Deeney continued his comeback with a brace. Nigel Pearson has now won seven points from his first four games, only two fewer than Watford managed in their previous 16 games.
Defeat to an almost-unrecognisable Leicester line-up was enough to seal Pellegrini’s fate as the Chilean became the sixth manager to be sacked in the Premier League this season. West Ham have lost seven of their last ten games, leaving them just one point above the relegation zone. A former Premier League winner with Manchester City as recently as 2014, his appointment was seen as somewhat of a coup when he arrived in London in 2018. Unfortunately he failed to deliver on that promise, and the Irons’ poor form could not be allowed to continue.
The presence, or intrusion, of VAR continues to dominate the headlines after another eventful weekend in the Premier League. The early game on Saturday saw Dan Burn’s first goal in a Brighton shirt chalked off as his armpit was found to be in an offside in the build-up to the goal. Later that afternoon it was Teemu Pukki’s armpit that fell foul of the latest technology. The Finn believed that he had doubled Norwich’s lead against Tottenham, only for his “goal” to be retrospectively disallowed.
Onto Anfield on Sunday, where Liverpool were awarded a goal against Wolves before the visitors were denied an equaliser through Pedro Neto. In both cases the eventual decisions were correct, but it was easy to see why Nuno Espirito Santo and his side felt aggrieved.
We are now just past the halfway stage of the Premier League season and recent results have seen Liverpool move 13 points clear at the top of the table. Unlike last season, in which Jurgen Klopp’s side and Manchester City contested a closely-fought battle, this time the Reds’ advantage is surely insurmountable. Pep Guardiola has already admitted that he is resigned to defeat and, while this could be a psychological ploy, it would be illogical to argue against it. Fans will have to look elsewhere for drama and excitement in the second half of the season.