Pathetic penalties and clumsy challenges were just some of the many misdemeanours across the Premier League’s weekend, one which saw title rivals Liverpool and Manchester City play out a stalemate at the Etihad.
Leicester are the new league leaders following Liverpool’s dropping of points, the Foxes pursued intently by the likes of in-form Tottenham and Southampton in what is shaping as a fascinating season at both ends of the table.
Elsewhere Aston Villa handed Arsenal an Emirates embarrassment, whilst Bruno Fernandes – not for the first time – pulled the under-fire Ole Gunnar Solskjaer slightly out of the sh*t at Everton.
Following another enthralling weekend of action we’ve decided to look back at some of the Premier League’s poorer performers, here are six players who ‘had a mare’ in gameweek eight:
Kevin De Bruyne
In a Premier League season that has provided plenty of twists, turns, shocks and surprises, perhaps the most staggering of all is the inclusion of Manchester City’s Kevin De Bruyne amongst our donkeys of the week.
The brilliant Belgian has regularly – and rightfully – been lauded in our columns for some time, the midfield maestro widely viewed as the Premier League’s stand-out star.
Such has been his consistent excellence that it was once unthinkable for him to feature here, but his unwanted contribution to City’s draw with Liverpool earns his selection.
Despite registering an almost customary assist, De Bruyne was largely below his usual standard throughout, struggling to get into the game during the opening half an hour and proving ineffective during the second half – a heavy knock on his ankle perhaps restricting his influence.
A sub-standard showing from the midfielder reached its low point as he spurned an opportunity for City to make a statement in the title race, uncharacteristically dragging a penalty wide after Joe Gomez was penalised for handball.
De Bruyne has registered six assists in his past four appearances and whilst that is a hugely impressive total, his overall performances are not yet reaching the levels which saw him crowned as the PFA Player of the Year last season.
Jordan Pickford just can’t keep himself out of the headlines at the moment, the England goalkeeper returning to the Everton side this weekend only to add more fuel to the fire questioning his position for both club and country.
Pickford was left on the substitutes’ bench for last weekend’s defeat at Newcastle with summer signing Robin Olsen producing an assured display despite the loss at St James’ Park, though Carlo Ancelotti restored the former to his starting team for the clash with Manchester United.
The move failed to pay dividends as Everton crashed to a third consecutive Premier League defeat, whilst Pickford did little to silence his critics with another rash challenge inside his own penalty area.
— Goal (@goal) November 7, 2020
The goalkeeper continued his personal vendetta against expensive centre-backs after clattering Harry Maguire, his rashness coming after dropping a catch under pressure from the defender, who had appeared to foul the shot-stopper.
Just as he did in the Merseyside Derby, the 26-year-old fortuitously escaped punishment but his continued lack of a cool head must be a huge concern for both Everton and England.
Kieran Tierney has largely proven a popular figure since moving to the Premier League from Celtic, the no-frills approach of the Scotland international endearing him to the Arsenal support.
Any one of his Gunners teammates could have made our selection this week given the ignominy of their home humiliation to Aston Villa, but this embarrassing moment for the full-back earns his selection in this feature.
Even on repeated viewing its difficult to work out quite what happens to the 23-year-old here, a moment of malfunction that will certainly have left the star more than a little red-faced.
I can’t stop watching this. it’s like Edgar the Bug from Men In Black tried running in Tierney’s body. pic.twitter.com/LWPuFMDA6b
— amadí (@amadoit__) November 9, 2020
Tierney was probably one of Arsenal’s better performers on what proved a torrid evening for Mikel Arteta’s side, though it’s likely his comical collapsing will live longer in the memory.
Kyle Walker has been largely praised this season for his fine form at Manchester City, but the defender once again provided a costly contribution to his side in a big game at the Etihad.
Walker endured a difficult opening period against Liverpool’s Sadio Mane during the 1-1 draw, the Senegalese winger’s speed and sharpness seeing the full-back struggle.
Liverpool took the lead from the penalty spot through Mohamed Salah following a moment of rashness by Walker, who proceeded to bring Mane down inside the penalty area after finding himself on the wrong side of the forward.
Roy Keane on how Sadio Mane won a penalty against Kyle Walker:
"Because he's up against an idiot. People tell me he's been playing well but I don't see it. He's a car crash." 😲
[Sky Sports] pic.twitter.com/8Sju4Ogv0o
— Goal (@goal) November 8, 2020
It was the third penalty the 30-year-old has conceded this season after also doing so against Leicester and whilst on international duty with England against Denmark, his clumsy challenges earning the full-back some stinging criticism from Sky Sports’ pundit Roy Keane.
West Ham’s summer signing will be counting his lucky stars that his moment of madness did not cost his side dearly this weekend, the winger conceding a penalty in stoppage-time after dangling a lazy leg inside the penalty area.
Benrahma had impressed during his cameo off the substitutes’ bench with his attacking impetus increasing West Ham’s forward threat, before contributions at both ends changed the narrative of a clash heading towards a bore draw.
The Algerian assisted Tomas Soucek’s stoppage-time opener for West Ham against Fulham, only to hack down Tom Cairney just moments later and hand the visitors a 98th-minute opportunity to level from the spot.
Fortunately for the 25-year-old that opportunity was squandered in spectacular style, which leads us on nicely to the next man on this list…
The Panenka penalty, a style of spot-kick that needs the perfect mix of technique and bottle, an effort that looks brilliant if executed and rather ridiculous if failed.
Ademola Lookman most certainly falls into that latter category following his abysmal effort against West Ham this weekend, with Fulham manager Scott Parker likely to have been infuriated by the forward’s carelessness.
This was Lookman’s first ever penalty in professional football, coming for a side mired in a relegation battle and one which provided a 98th-minute opportunity to equalise and secure a valuable point on the road.
Score and he maintains Fulham’s momentum from a first win of the season last time out, his decision to attempt a technique of such risk incomprehensible in the club’s current predicament.
A panenka that went horribly wrong! 😨
Ademola Lookman missed a 98th-minute penalty as Fulham lost 1-0 to West Ham at the London Stadium 💔 pic.twitter.com/uTZ82PA9kL
— Football on BT Sport (@btsportfootball) November 7, 2020
Lookman has been a bright spark in Fulham’s season since signing on loan from RB Leipzig and his effort may have come from the confidence accumulated in recent performances, it is important the forward now bounces back and doesn’t dwell on his costly error of judgement.
He owes both his teammates and his manager with some big performances in the coming weeks.