The highs and lows of the 2019/20 Premier League season
The Premier League’s suspension was extended to April 30 this week and even that seems an unrealistic date to begin the competition again with the coronavirus pandemic showing no signs of easing any time soon.
With the majority of clubs having only nine fixtures left to play, there have been plenty of highs and lows this season and here, the PA news agency takes a look at some of them.
LOW – On the second weekend of the campaign, VAR hit the headlines when Manchester City were denied a stoppage-time winner against Tottenham due to the ball glancing off Aymeric Laporte’s hand in the build-up to Gabriel Jesus finding the net.
HIGH – Liverpool’s 3-1 win over Arsenal on August 24 was achieved comfortably and ensured the Reds were the only side to still have a 100 per cent record after three games. Already the signs were there Jurgen Klopp’s men were the side to beat.
HIGH – The unpredictability of the division was summed up when new boys Norwich were able to stun Manchester City at Carrow Road on September 14. A 3-2 win for the Canaries – thanks to another Teemu Pukki goal – saw the champions’ long unbeaten run in the league ended.
LOW – Watford’s woes continued and they were on the receiving end of an 8-0 thrashing at the Etihad a week after Pep Guardiola’s side had lost at Norwich. It added to the problems of Quique Sanchez Flores, who had returned to Vicarage Road during the month to try to end their winless run.
LOW – An apology was required after an incorrect graphic made it appear that Dele Alli’s equaliser for Tottenham at home to Watford had been ruled out. The goal stood, despite it looking like a possible handball, and it was one of several contentious decisions during the weekend of October 19-21.
HIGH – Leicester broke a Premier League record – plus the all-time English top-flight record – for the largest away league win when they put nine past Southampton at St Mary’s. The 9-0 victory equalled the biggest-ever triumph in the Premier League and, while it was a Friday night horror show for 10-man Saints, Jamie Vardy and Ayoze Perez netted hat-tricks for the slick Foxes.
LOW – Granit Xhaka was involved in a heated exchange with his own supporters during the 2-2 draw between Arsenal and Crystal Palace. After walking slowly off the pitch after he had been substituted, he was jeered and responded by telling the Gunners faithful to ‘f*** off’ before he chucked his shirt to the ground.
HIGH – Liverpool once again showed their title credentials with a late comeback victory at Aston Villa despite trailing heading into the final exchanges. Goals by Andrew Robertson and Sadio Mane’s stoppage-time winner helped the Reds get over the first armpit offside of the season.
LOW – Andre Gomes suffered a sickening injury during Everton’s 1-1 draw with Tottenham on November 3, being left in agony following an awkward fall after Son Heung-min’s challenge. He had to leave the field on a stretcher, but would make a miraculous recovery.
HIGH – Liverpool extended their lead over champions City to nine points after a 3-1 victory at Anfield. VAR was at the centre of things again, but the action-packed start by Klopp’s men deservedly took a lot of the attention with the Reds in supreme form again.
HIGH – Sheffield United and Manchester United were involved in one of the games of the season on November 24. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s men were facing defeat after going two down, but three goals in seven minutes put them on course for victory before there was time for one final twist at Bramall Lane as Oli McBurnie levelled in the 90th minute.
LOW – More VAR drama left Everton boss Marco Silva on the brink with Kelechi Iheanacho eventually awarded a winner for Leicester on December 1. The goal in stoppage time was initially ruled out for offside, but was given on review by the team in Stockley Park.
HIGH – Tottenham attacker Son scored one of the goals of the season in the 5-0 triumph over Burnley on December 7. The South Korea international collected the ball on the edge of his own penalty area and in a devastating length-of-the-field burst left a clutch of defenders trailing in his wake before slotting home.
LOW – Sticking with the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, allegations of racism marred Chelsea’s 2-0 win over Spurs when Frank Lampard got the better of Jose Mourinho in an Apprentice vs Master encounter on December 22. Antonio Rudiger reported alleged racist remarks from the stands to referee Anthony Taylor, although an investigation by Tottenham found no evidence of racism.
HIGH – A Trent Alexander-Arnold masterclass helped recent Club World Cup champions Liverpool rout Leicester 4-0 at the King Power Stadium on Boxing Day. It extended the Reds’ advantage at the summit to 13 points with a game in hand as the Merseyside club put one hand on the Premier League trophy.
HIGH – Wolves and Manchester City produced a five-goal thriller at Molineux on December 27 with a red card and penalty miss chucked in for good measure. Nuno Espirito Santo watched his side fight back from two down to clinch a 3-2 victory and a memorable double over the champions thanks to Matt Doherty’s 89th-minute goal.
LOW – VAR cut short West Ham’s celebrations at Sheffield United on January 10 after Declan Rice was adjudged to have handled the ball in the build-up to Robert Snodgrass’ effort. The late strike was eventually ruled out and saw both David Moyes and Chris Wilder lambast the technology after another high-profile intervention.
HIGH – Watford moved out of the bottom three for the first time this season with a 3-0 win at Bournemouth on January 12. It was another step in the right direction under Nigel Pearson – the club’s third manager of the campaign – as their great escape gathered more momentum.
HIGH – Liverpool continued to break records, with the 4-0 win over Southampton at Anfield on February 1 moving them 22 points clear of Man City – the biggest ever lead at the end of a day in English top-flight history. It was also their 20th successive league win at home.
LOW – Two relegation-threatened sides produced a thrilling encounter at the London Stadium, but VAR overshadowed the 3-3 draw between West Ham and Brighton. Glenn Murray equalised with 11 minutes left and, despite appearing to handle the ball to bring it down, the goal was allowed to stand. Another example of the lack of consistency which has contributed to frustrations with video assistant technology.
LOW – Storm Ciara caused havoc in the UK during February and caused Manchester City’s home game with West Ham to be called off only a matter of hours before kick-off. Safety quite rightly was the top priority, but it still left a number of Hammers fans frustrated who were on their way up to Manchester.
HIGH – A cat and mouse battle between Aston Villa and Tottenham on February 16 went the way of visiting Spurs after Son grabbed a stoppage-time winner at Villa Park. The 3-2 victory appeared to put Jose Mourinho’s men in a strong position to push on, but an injury to the matchwinner would go on to hurt their hopes of a top-four finish.
LOW – Not long after VAR had decided Giovani Lo Celso’s horror challenge on Cesar Azpilicueta did not warrant a red card, the technology left Bournemouth cursing at Turf Moor when it ruled out Harry Wilson’s equaliser against Burnley and awarded the hosts a penalty in the same instance because of Adam Smith’s handball in his own penalty area. It was a first for VAR and another controversial day for video assistant referee.
HIGH – Liverpool held their nerve in a dramatic clash with West Ham at Anfield, coming from behind to win 3-2 on February 24 thanks to Sadio Mane’s late effort nine minutes from time. It equalled the English top-flight record of 18 consecutive wins set by Manchester City.
HIGH – Bruno Fernandes’ fine start to life at Manchester United continued in the 1-1 draw at Everton, with the January summer signing firing home from range, although again putting the microscope on England and Toffees number one Jordan Pickford.
LOW – Arsenal’s revolution under Mikel Arteta gathered pace with a 1-0 win over West Ham, but VAR took far too long than it needed to award Alexandre Lacazette’s winner 12 minutes from time. It was the latest example of teething problems for video technology.
HIGH – Chelsea’s 18-year-old Billy Gilmour enjoyed a full league debut to remember, pulling the strings at Stamford Bridge to help the Blues secure a comfortable 4-0 win over Everton on March 8. He would go on to claim the man of the match award, his second in the space of a matter of days.
LOW – Manchester City’s match with Arsenal on March 11 was postponed due to fears over the coronavirus outbreak and in the days to follow Gunners head coach Arteta tested positive for Covid-19 along with Chelsea’s Callum Hudson-Odoi. It forced the Premier League to suspend the division.