The weekend’s action proved a fine advertisement for Premier League football with a bucket-load of goals and plenty of thrilling contests, but whilst many of the division’s biggest names enjoyed moments to savour there were plenty of afternoons to forget.
We’ve decided to look at the players who endured poor performances following the latest round of fixtures, here are five Premier League players who ‘had a mare’ this weekend:
Gary Neville claimed that Chelsea will not win the title with Kepa Arrizabalaga in goal despite their opening weekend win over Brighton, and in just the second fixture of the season the Spaniard is now arguably under-fire more than ever before.
Two summers ago the 25-year-old became the most expensive goalkeeper in history and it is looking more like a gargantuan waste of money with each passing performance, Kepa’s confidence shot to pieces following his struggles since moving to English football.
Last season he posted the worst save percentage of all regular top-flight goalkeepers, saving a little more than half of the shots he faced with his 54.5% the lowest percentage any goalkeeper has posted over a full season since the data was first collected almost two decades ago.
Chelsea spent £71 million on Kepa Arrizabalaga 💵
The most expensive goalkeeper of all-time 🧤
The worst signing in Premier League history? 😳 pic.twitter.com/JiR3kexCLG
— Goal (@goal) September 21, 2020
His performance in Sunday’s defeat to Liverpool was erratic and his misery was compounded following a howler of epic proportions, kicking a timid pass against the on-rushing Sadio Mane to hand the visitors a two-goal lead and three points.
Chelsea may have spent big this summer but Frank Lampard has so far naively neglected a glaring weakness in his side in favour of expensive attacking imports, and will hope the impending arrival of Edouard Mendy can eradicate his goalkeeping shortcomings.
As for Kepa, his career at Chelsea looks in huge doubt, though there are unlikely to be many takers for a player who incredibly cost £71.6m when arriving at Stamford Bridge just two years ago.
Much was made of Manchester United’s improved defensive record last season with the club amongst the leaders for clean sheets in all competitions in Europe’s top five leagues, though perspective is important in football and that number was swelled by European shut-outs against clubs such as Astana, Partizan Belgrade and LASK.
In terms of Premier League clean sheets, United’s total of 13 was matched by the likes of Sheffield United and Wolves, whilst Burnley – a side who finished seven places below the Red Devils – managed more.
Whilst the signings of Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Harry Maguire have improved the backline, United’s defensive line up is still some way short of the calibre required to really challenge for major honours.
Their shortcomings were exposed in some style following a calamitous defeat to Crystal Palace in the club’s season opener, with Victor Lindelof horribly exposed by a quick and mobile Eagles attack.
💬 Gary Neville on Harry Maguire and Victor Lindelof.
— Oddschanger (@Oddschanger) September 21, 2020
The Sweden international is neither strong, quick, or commanding and he struggled badly against Wilfried Zaha, playing his part in all three Crystal Palace goals during a harrowing 3-1 defeat at Old Trafford.
Isolated one-against-one, he was brushed aside by Jeffrey Schlupp in the build-up to Palace’s opener, before conceding a controversial penalty for handball and again being swatted aside by Zaha as the Ivorian fired home Palace’s third.
United are reportedly not considering signing a new centre-back before the transfer window closes next month, but they may need two given the slapstick defending offered by Lindelof and Maguire this weekend.
Just what was Kieran Gibbs thinking?
This is a player with more than a decade of experience in the Premier League and 10 senior caps for England, petulantly pushing out at James Rodriguez to earn a red card and give West Bromwich Albion a mountain to climb at Everton.
The newly-promoted side had began brightly and were firmly in the contest when Gibbs was overcome by the red mist, reacting to a slight nudge by the Colombian by pushing Everton’s summer signing in the face.
Rodriguez embarrassingly went down like he was on the receiving end of a Mike Tyson right hand and whilst we’ll never approve of his theatrics, Gibbs has been around the block long enough to know that this is the Premier League and those actions will have consequences.
Gibbs “I’ll fcuking do it again.
Seamus “No you won’t do it again. Who you talking to you’ll do it again? Hard man. Fcuking hard man.”pic.twitter.com/2OsHffdjNX
— Irish Football Pics (@irish_pics) September 20, 2020
His moment of macho madness was even more cringeworthy given his shouts when leaving the pitch, met angrily by Everton captain Seamus Coleman who rightfully laughed off Gibbs’ attempts at a hard man persona.
West Brom have now begun the new season with back-to-back losses and will need better than this from their experienced players if they are to have any hopes of survival.
Anyone else feeling a serious case of déjà vu watching Fulham’s dangerous defending since returning to the Premier League?
Two years ago the Cottagers returned to the top flight and spent a fortune before dropping back down to the Championship, a lack of defensive cohesion ruthlessly exposed at a higher level and ending in relegation.
After bouncing back at the first time of asking Fulham have reigned in the purse strings, but their faith in many of the players who suffered the drop last time seems to be hugely misguided.
Joe Bryan was one of the heroes of their promotion push and is a cult figure for his exploits, but he endured an afternoon to forget as he cost his side dearly in a thriller against Leeds.
Fulham had found their way back into the contest through Aleksandr Mitrovic’s penalty after Bryan was brought down in the area, only for the full-back to lazily concede a spot-kick of his own with a stupid push on Patrick Bamford.
Mateusz Klich duly converted and Leeds went on to secure all three points despite a Fulham fightback, Bryan earning his inclusion on this list for an easily avoidable error.
Fellow defenders Michael Hector and Dennis Odoi – the latter’s useful versatility seemingly compensating for not being of the required standard in the eyes of Scott Parker – are fortunate to miss out.
The second Chelsea player to feature on this list of error-prone players, the dismissal of the Denmark defender proved the turning point of the contest in the Blues’ defeat to Liverpool at Stamford Bridge.
Frank Lampard’s side had enjoyed a solid start against the champions with Timo Werner lively in attack, only for the balance of the game to swing in the Reds’ favour following Christensen’s sending off on the stroke of half-time.
Christensen has failed to convince under Lampard in a defence plagued by errors during the manager’s tenure, and whilst he had begun positively against the Reds – clearing a goal-bound effort from Roberto Firmino – his flaws were exposed via one long pass from Jordan Henderson.
— Goal (@goal) September 20, 2020
Similarly to the aforementioned Lindelof, the Dane is neither commanding or athletic, whilst the sense of panic in his mind was abundantly evident as Sadio Mane raced clear on goal.
Christensen’s ill-advised attempts to stop the Senegalese speedster resulted in a Six Nations-themed challenge, wrestling Mane to the ground before being given his marching orders after consultation with VAR.
His desperate decision proved costly for Chelsea who were looking to make a statement of intent, their defeat an indication of the gap that still needs to be bridged to the division’s best side.