By Rachel Steinberg, PA
Arsenal’s winning start to the season was finally spoiled by a Manchester United side on the rise while a host of controversial rulings saw VAR in the spotlight again.
Here, the PA news agency picks out five things we learned from this weekend’s Premier League action.
If the introduction of VAR was intended to make decision-making a more harmonious prospect in the Premier League, this weekend provided a strong argument that it has achieved quite the opposite.
West Ham boss David Moyes criticised the refereeing in his side’s 2-1 loss to Chelsea, reserving especially choice words for VAR official Jarred Gillett after Maxwel Cornet’s last-gasp equaliser was chalked off following a monitor review of Jarrod Bowen’s contact with Chelsea keeper Edouard Mendy.
In an extended rant, Moyes decried the incident as being “no excuse for VAR”, a sentiment shared by Eddie Howe after Newcastle were denied a potential match-winner in what was ultimately a 0-0 draw with Crystal Palace.
A deflection off Palace defender Tyrick Mitchell appeared to result in an own goal, but the decision was reversed after a VAR check determined Joe Willock had fouled Eagles keeper Vicente Guaita in the build-up.
The resulting controversy led to the Premier League announcing it would review the Newcastle and West Ham decisions with refereeing body Professional Game Match Officials Limited (PGMOL), which on Sunday effectively admitted the calls were incorrect.
Improving United halt the Gunners’ winning run
A few weeks ago neither bookies nor fans would have backed Manchester United as the likeliest to stop Arsenal’s 100 per cent start to the season, but that is precisely what happened as the upwardly-mobile Red Devils prevailed 3-1 to finish the weekend in fifth place.
Since starting the campaign with demoralising defeats to Brighton and Brentford, United have now racked up four successive wins – including notable Old Trafford successes over bitter rivals Liverpool and Arsenal.
Sunday’s victory, secured with goals from big-money debutant Antony and a Marcus Rashford brace, will have been especially pleasing for Erik ten Hag as it came against a red-hot Gunners side that had won all of their opening five matches.
Forest not out of the woods
Full time at The City Ground ⏱ pic.twitter.com/HFcPRoZ7Ve
— Nottingham Forest FC (@NFFC) September 3, 2022
Promoted Nottingham Forest smashed the Premier League transfer window record this summer as they welcomed 21 new faces to the City Ground.
While fans celebrated the spending spree with memes of quadruple-decker team buses, their side’s on-pitch effort against Bournemouth on Saturday – where they surrendered a 2-0 half-time lead to lose 3-2 – showed plenty more work will be required to avoid a return ticket to the Championship.
It was a fourth defeat from six games for Forest as Gary O’Neil claimed his first win as the Cherries’ interim head coach.
Toney’s hat-trick sparks England cap talk
Massive win happy to get a hat trick and big 3 points. Onto the next.
Oh and you guys that took me out your fantasy team… HOW YOU LIKE ME NOW 😎😎😂😂
— Ivan Toney (@ivantoney24) September 3, 2022
Ivan Toney surely set off Gareth Southgate’s radar with his hat-trick in Brentford’s impressive 5-2 win over Leeds.
The uncapped striker is in fine form, netting five times and picking up two assists in six Premier League appearances so far this season. His outstanding performance on Saturday included a penalty, a curled effort from 20 yards and a chip from distance.
Bees boss Thomas Frank argued no striker save Harry Kane was on better form than the 26-year-old, who sits behind just the Three Lions captain and Tammy Abraham for goals scored by English players in the top five European leagues since August 2021.
Foxes’ financial woes spell drop danger
Fear the worst for @LCFC. Awful defensively and seem to be playing a different system every 45 minutes. Worrying times for us Foxes fans.
— Gary Lineker 💙💛 (@GaryLineker) September 4, 2022
Leicester suffered a fifth successive Premier League defeat with their 5-2 mauling at Brighton and they remain rooted to the bottom of the table with just one point this season.
It was the latest chapter in a story without a silver lining for supporters, who last week witnessed the long-anticipated departure of Wesley Fofana to Chelsea.
Meanwhile, the only arrivals at the King Power stadium were goalkeeper Alex Smithies, who joined Leicester on a free transfer, and centre-back Wout Faes from Reims.
Leicester chairman Aiyawatt Srivaddhanaprabha even acknowledged the spending challenges in a programme article ahead of Leicester’s 1-0 loss to Manchester United last week, citing the “undeniable” impact of the pandemic among the difficulties he and the club are facing.