As the first round of Premier League action in three months passes us by, it’s time to take stock and decide which players were a help or a hindrance to their sides over the weekend.
Hero: Danny Ings
Southampton striker Danny Ings wasted absolutely no time in getting reacquainted with the Premier League on Friday. Well okay, it took him 45 minutes as it did for pretty much everybody over the weekend, but still, the 27-year-old was back to his outstanding best for the Saints as they dismantled a Norwich City side that look worryingly out of their depth this season.
The former Liverpool man who has been cruelly hampered with injury throughout his career, has enjoyed a wonderful season and his tidy goal on Friday took him to 16 for the campaign. He also notched an assist for Stuart Armstrong and was generally a handful all game. The England striker is now just three goals behind Jamie Vardy in the race for the Golden Boot.
No player has scored more non-penalty goals in the Premier League so far this season than Danny Ings (16).
Straight back to business. pic.twitter.com/y9Ggjh7bnU
— Squawka Football (@Squawka) June 19, 2020
Villain: David de Gea
He’s actually something of a hero for igniting the touch paper that is Roy Keane’s short fuse and giving us an epic rant for the ages from the former United captain.
But purely from a performance perspective, de Gea was guilty of yet another unconvincing moment as he allowed Steven Bergwijn’s shot to cannon off his outstretched hand and fly into the roof of the net. In all fairness to a furious Keane, he had a fair point, you do expect your keeper to help you in those situations and if he had kept the effort out, United may have bagged all three points.
Much to Keane’s chagrin, the Spanish stopper did indeed make it on to the team bus home from North London.
Hero: Raul Jimenez
What a player this guy has been for Wolves. Not content with setting a record for the midlands club last season for goals scored in Premier League season, the Mexican surpassed his own scoring record on Saturday with his bullet header taking him to 14 in 30 top-flight games.
The 29-year-old has been linked with a high profile move away from Molineux in the near future but on his current form and Wolves upward trajectory he could do a whole lot worse than staying put and helping guide Nuno Espirito Santo’s men to dizzying new heights.
Villain: Enda Stevens
The Republic of Ireland international has been part of a rock solid Sheffield United defence all season so God only knows what was going through his mind on Sunday. The 29-year-old horribly air kicked what should have been a routine clearance and allowed the ball to worm under him and find it’s way to Allan Saint-Maximin for Newcastle’s opening goal.
Perhaps he was trying to emulate David Luiz’s brainfarting antics (more on him later) or maybe it was simply post-lockdown rustiness; whatever it was it was not pretty and it opened the floodgates for Newcastle to overwhelm the Blades and claim a massive win that edges them towards safety.
— Sky Sports (@SkySports) June 21, 2020
Hero: Christian Pulisic
The last time Christian Pulisic kicked a ball in anger for Chelsea was back on New Year’s Day, which seems a lifetime ago right now! The USA international was thrown into the fray by Frank Lampard on Sunday with his side lacking in ideas and penetration against a stubborn Aston Villa outfit who had their nose in front in a tense encounter.
Chucked in at the deep end to make an urgent impact, the 21-year-old took just five minutes to make his mark. Arriving just in time to connect with César Azpilicueta’s lovely clipped ball in, the youngster helped calm the nerves that were creeping into the Chelsea camp and just a few seconds after his leveller, Olivier Giroud fired the Blues ahead. Cometh the hour and all that…
— Frank Khalid (@FrankKhalidUK) June 21, 2020
Villain: David Luiz
We saved the best for last. Well almost the best, Mike Dean’s lockdown beard must get an honourable mention! David Luiz however, is very much on the naughty step after his disaster-class against Manchester City.
His odd attempt to control a direct dangerous Kevin de Bruyne pass with his thigh/knee was instrumental in allowing Raheem Sterling in behind to break the deadlock. Arsenal had started brightly but Luiz’s error sucked the life out of them.
FAN DENIAL: Arsenal are back. The internet reacts to a David Luiz masterclass… pic.twitter.com/trlpl7D3Yl
— Paddy Power (@paddypower) June 18, 2020
Not content with the one brainfart though, after the interval, the Brazilian veteran allowed Riyad Mahrez to ghost past him into the box, before he pulled him back in a brazen foul to deny a goal scoring opportunity. The red card was duly brandished and Arsenal were left to soldier on with ten men and facing an emboldened City with a two goal deficit.
Surely this must be the end of the line for Luiz and his comedy of errors in an Arsenal shirt.