For most people it’s been a strange year full of lockdowns, masks & tiers. But as we edge closer to 2021 and a potential light at the end of this tunnel, it’s finally time for fans to return to stadiums, allbeit a small amount, but it’s a step in the right direction. Hopefully restoring some normality into our lives, and with this ‘unprecedented’ time drawing to a close, it’s a good time to reflect and look back on how this has affected football in the Premier League for good, and bad.
Firstly I think it only right to start with the obscene amount of goals that are being scored this season. There has already been 40 more goals in the 20/21 season compared to last. Notable games being Aston Villa’s incredible 7-2 victory over last years champions Liverpool. Also springing to mind is when Jose’s Spurs side travelled up to Old Trafford, scored six goals and left with three points. But why is this? Is it the lack of fans? I can’t imagine Mourinho turning up to his old stomping ground and netting six would have gone down well with the United faithful. Are players more relaxed as games feel far less intense without thousands of spectators roaring for 90 minutes?
Subsequently, the influx in goals and therefore lack of defending has concluded in a rather unpredictable season, well, so far anyway. If I was a betting man, I would be staying as far away from the Premier League as possible at this current moment in time. A month ago Arsenal travelled to Manchester United and put in a superb performance leaving with three points. Since, they haven’t won a game in the Premier League, including a 3-0 loss to Aston Villa at The Emirates. Leeds United just about sum up the consistency of this season, a 4-1 loss to the more often than not low scoring Crystal Palace, to then completely dominating both Arsenal and high scoring Everton in successive weeks. Impressive. Will normality return once fans do? I mean do we even want it to? I don’t remember the top four race ever being so open.
Now on to the more controversial side of things this season, that three letter word that seems to dominate every post match press conference. VAR. Progressively, it has seemed to infuriate more and help less, completely the opposite reason it was introduced to the Premier League. Footballers are starting to come out on their social media channels and letting everyone know their thoughts, which seem to be exactly the same as what we as fans are all thinking. Has it gone too far?
I could write hundreds of articles about how VAR is ruining football, but I just want to pick one specfic decision from the season that really put the nail in the coffin for me. Leeds striker Patrick Bamford had a goal disallowed against Crystal Palace for his arm being offside…that’s right, his arm. His body was onside, he was simply pointing ahead of himself to show where he wanted to receive the ball, this was then classed as offside, although we all know you cannot actually score a goal with your arm, right? Former England striker and presenter Gary Lineker tweeted following the incident: “That’s another ridiculous VAR offside decision to disallow Bamford’s goal. I actually loathe the way it’s being implemented.” Personally, I feel that if there was a stadium full of supporters, that these constant delirious decisions wouldn’t go down as lightly as they are. Hopefully with fans returning soon, common sense will also. We can only hope, for the sake of football.