Talking points from Sunday’s Premier League matches:
HANDBALL FURORE RAGES ON
After Brighton and Crystal Palace lost on Saturday to penalties awarded for handball, the Premier League’s stricter approach to the new law came under fire again following Newcastle’s late penalty for an incident involving Eric Dier.
While anger is being directed at the lawmakers IFAB and FIFA, Newcastle manager Steve Bruce, who was critical of the decision which benefited his team, raised the question of whether the Premier League and its referees are not being too zealous in the application of the law and even suggested they ignore the changes.
“The handball has been around for a hundred years. If it is deliberate, no problem, but it has to be clear and obvious. We have lost the plot with it and it loses the spectacle of it,” said Bruce.
“Maybe we can do something about it, we seem to have these phases where we take everything literally in the Premier League and maybe we have to say no to it.”
DO MAN CITY NEED AN OVERHAUL?
Having surrendered the Premier League title to Liverpool last term by finishing a staggering 18 points behind them, Manchester City will struggle to be title contenders this term if their 5-2 home defeat by Leicester City is anything to go by.
Manager Pep Guardiola could plausibly claim that City might struggle up front with both strikers Sergio Aguero and Gabriel Jesus out injured against Leicester, but a porous-looking rear guard were in trouble every time the visitors came forward.
Kyle Walker and Eric Garcia also looked completely at sea as they gave away clumsy penalties won and clinically converted by Jamie Vardy, while City’s once intimidating pressure in midfield fell apart as enforcers Rodri and Fernandinho could not cope.
With the transfer window closing on Oct. 5, City are reportedly close to signing central defender Ruben Dias from Benfica with Guardiola needing reinforcements capable of adding steel to the backbone of his expensively-assembled squad.
WEST HAM WAIT TO SEE IF RICE WILL STAY
West Ham United notched their first points of the season with a 4-0 thrashing of Wolverhampton Wanderers, and they face an anxious wait to see if they can hang on to influential midfielder Declan Rice.
The 21-year-old England international, who has been linked with a big-money move to a Chelsea side that played atrociously in the first half of a 3-3 draw with West Bromwich Albion, was instrumental in the victory.
Along with his team mates and coaches, Rice made all the right noises about how happy he is at the club and how much he wants to stay, but the decision may be taken out of his hands if a big-enough bid comes in.
With the transfer window open until Oct. 5, West Ham fans face an anxious wait to see if they can hang on to one of their key players.
BAMFORD PROVING A POINT
Patrick Bamford had managed just one goal in 27 appearances in the Premier League prior to this season but the Leeds United striker has answered his doubters by scoring in all three games so far this campaign, including the winner in Sunday’s 1-0 win over Sheffield United.
Bamford has faced some unfair questions about his work-rate but those looked wide of the mark after the way he led the line for Marcelo Bielsa’s side during Leeds’ promotion push last season, in which he scored 16 goals.
After the way he has started this season with goals against Liverpool, Fulham and Sunday’s 88th-minute header, those who felt he might only be good enough for the Championship are also having to eat their words.