Every week we reward the best – and worst – of the Premier League action, and this week’s awards ceremony features a class encounter between Liverpool and Leeds United, Mo Salah’s masterful display, a criminal miss from Raul Jiménez, and VAR working how it should be.
Moment of the Week
This column has endeavoured to avoid the black hole of VAR discourse, but we should give props to the Video Assistant Referee after Kyle Walker-Peters’ red card was rescinded
The full-back was harshly sent off for a challenge on Tyrik Mitchell, but the VAR told referee Jon Moss to take a second look at the incident on the monitor. He did so and promptly changed the colour of the card from red to yellow.
This definitely falls into the category of Just Doing Your Job, but the lack of monitor checks by match officials was a huge bugbear of just about everyone who watched the Premier League last season. Credit where it’s due, the PGMOL recognised the problem and have corrected it.
Kyle Walker-Peters' RED CARD has been overturned!
John Moss has gone to the VAR screen and given a yellow instead! pic.twitter.com/H2ZOSc86FD
— Football Daily (@footballdaily) September 12, 2020
Player of the Week
It was a vintage Mo Salah performance on Saturday night when Liverpool hosted Leeds United, scoring a hat-trick in a thrilling 4-3 win. Yes, two of his goals were penalties, but his overall performance was exceptional.
The Egyptian winger lead the way in the league on the opening weekend in terms of shots (9), shots on target (3), shots inside the box (8), expected goals (1.87 xG) and, of course, goals scored. He also had a whopper 88 touches of the ball, 21 of which were inside the box. Tell me again how this guy didn’t make the PFA Team of the Year last season?
Runners-up: Willian, Arsenal; Jeff Hendrick, Newcastle United.
Goal of the Week
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang finished off a wonderful Arsenal counter-attack against Fulham in the first game back on Saturday afternoon with a beautiful effort. It was reminiscent of the magnificent end-to-end goal scored by Aaron Ramsey the last time they visited Craven Cottage.
This is how we do.
— Arsenal (@Arsenal) September 14, 2020
Runners-up: Mo Salah, Liverpool (vs Leeds); Jeff Hendrick, Newcastle United (vs West Ham United); Raul Jiménez, Wolves (vs Sheffield United); Reece James, Chelsea (vs Brighton).
Pass of the Week
There’s a reason why they call Kalvin Phillips the Yorkshire Pirlo.
— Leeds United (@LUFC) September 12, 2020
Save of the Week
Some goal line heroics from Vicente Guaita secured all three points for Crystal Palace against Southampton.
— Crystal Palace F.C. (@CPFC) September 12, 2020
Miss of the Week
In the second half of Wolves visit to Sheffield United, Romain Saiss smacked the post with a whip of a hit, but the rebound fell straight to the feet of star striker Raul Jiménez – who somehow missed from around eight yards out. But he did score a brilliant goal earlier in the match, so let’s just enjoy watching that again.
What a start to the season for #WWFC! 🐺
Podence produces an excellent cross to pick out Jimenez, who finishes superbly past Ramsdale!
— Sky Sports Premier League (@SkySportsPL) September 14, 2020
Everton’s Richarlison won’t want to watch his miss against Spurs back either.
How did he miss?! 🤯
Richarlison capitalises on a loose pass from Davies but he somehow misses the target with the goal at his mercy!
— Sky Sports Premier League (@SkySportsPL) September 13, 2020
Stat of the Week
For all of the money they have spent this summer, Chelsea‘s youngsters are still the ones impressing the most. In a victorious yet unimpressive display by the Blues at Brighton, Reece James produced the one true moment of magic.
⚽️ Reece James is the 6th different player aged 21 or under to score for Chelsea in PL since the start of last season – joining Hudson-Odoi, Mount, Pulisic, Tomori & Abraham pic.twitter.com/QXyHUdEE3f
— Sky Sports Statto (@SkySportsStatto) September 14, 2020
Howler of the Week
It used to be a rarity in this column, but Virgil van Dijk is now a semi-regular winner of our howler award. His complacency and sloppiness allowed Patrick Bamford in to score for Leeds on Saturday, the second time in his last four Premier League matches he has made an error leading to a goal.
👌 That chip! That finish! pic.twitter.com/tDwgZuPExR
— Leeds United (@LUFC) September 13, 2020
It was the Dutchman’s third such error since the beginning of the 2018-19 season, the most of any outfield player in that time.
Donkey of the Week
This week’s donkey is the Premier League itself. The powers that be decided to replace the Black Lives Matter badge that adorned the sleeve of every player’s jersey after the restart last season with their own anti-racism message, “No Room For Racism”.
The Premier League are, of course, well within their rights to do so and they didn’t have to bear the message on kits in the first place, but as Guardian columnist Barney Ronay pointed out at the weekend, it’s a far less powerful message to send and only gives added weight to the sense that they aren’t entirely serious about tackling racism in the sport and beyond.
For one thing it seems to accept racism must exist, just not here thanks. Secondly it's weirdly bland and forgiving. Thirdly it's such a boring combination of words you forget it the same moment you say it.
— Barney Ronay (@barneyronay) September 12, 2020
Needless to say, they could be doing so much better than this.