Match week 4 of the 2020-2021 Premier League season shocked the football world.True to the trend of high scoring, and unpredictable matches this week produced shocking results, historic milestones, and a plethora of goals in almost every match. This week 41 goals were scored over the ten matches for a very high 4.1 goals/game average. Notably, in a year were penalties have been incredibly prevalent, only 4 were scored this week. Over the first 26 matches of the season, a total of 20 penalties had been awarded. So to see it dip down and still see a TON of goals is very pleasing. All but one game, Wolves vs Fulham, saw at least two goals scored, with seven seeing three or more, and two games surpassing 7 goals (MUN v THFC and AVFC v LFC). Only four teams of the twenty top flight squads failed to score this week.
The table is chaotic. Everton takes the top place with Leicester squandered four goals to West Ham. Shockingly, three games into the campaign Aston Villa, a year removed from avoiding relegation by the skin of their teeth, sit in second with three wins in three played. Leeds sit in 8th comfortably behind the four big six squads not located in Manchester. Fulham, Sheffield, Burnley, and West Brom see their early struggles continue, all winless and in contention for relegation. The aforementioned Manchester squads are unfamiliarly at the bottom of the table, with United at 16th and City at 14th.
The results this weekend were mind blowing. There is really just no other way to put it. Saturday morning pretty much went according to consensus, but an injury riddled City side only managed a point against Leeds (which I actually predicted.)
Then Sunday rolled around, and things started getting wild. Arsenal took care of business against Sheffield, then Leicester absolutely dropped the ball conceding 3 to a solid West Ham side, a side they should have beaten nonetheless. Later in the day, United would take a second minute lead off of a penalty to Tottenham, but would almost immediately concede two, then see striker Anthony Martial sent off for a relalitating strike to the face of Eric Lamela. If anything, both players should have been sent off, but Martial was ruled the lone guilty party. United would subsequently implode, conceding two more goals within ten minutes of Martial being sent off. Serge Aurier and Harry Kane would put the fifth and sixth nails into United’s coffin in the 51′ and 79′ respectively.
Easily the most shocking thing that happened this weekend though was the result at Villa Park Sunday afternoon. Liverpool found themselves down 4-1 at the half, and ultimately went on to lose the match 7-2. They did see a bit of misfortune, with three of the goals they conceded coming off of insane deflections that goalkeeper Adrian could do absolutely nothing about. However, even if you take those three goals off of the score sheet, it is still a 4-2 defeat. Poor goalkeeper distribution gifted Villa their first goal, but Liverpool’s incredibly highline is what did them in for the other three goals that did not come off deflection.
This hasn’t been entirely uncommon so far this season for the champs. They conceded 3 opening day to Leeds, and for the season have let 11 in over 4 games. They certainly have things to address, as they are very far removed from the defensive start they had last season.
It’s only match week 4, so it would probably be presumptuous to start writing squads off, and claiming teams prematurely to Champions league spots. But one thing is clear, it’s going to be a wild ride. Everton look absolutely legit. Leeds are showing week in and out that they are here to stay. Villa have been a pleasant surprise. The Big 6 are still the Big 6. United have severe issues to address, and City just need to get healthy. Chelsea is still looking for the perfect unison of all their new signings. Arsenal have loads of young exciting talent, and Tottenham have bonafide superstars across the pitch. This year feels like it is completely up for grabs a year removed from the Champions almost being solidified in February.
An interestingly timed video dropped from the sublime Youtube channel Tifo Football Monday morning begging the question, which is the best football league?
The video explains that this is a tough question to answer, but there are two main trains of thought to answer this question. What is the most popular league, and what is the higher quality? Essentially, the Premier League is the most popular and most entertaining, while according to UEFA’s coefficient ranking, Spain’s La Liga takes the top spot, largely in due to the absolute dominance of Real Madrid and FC Barcelona in the Champions League over the past five years. The Spanish league does not share revenue in the same way the Prem does. The Prem values matchday uncertainty, and to help achieve that, the Big 6 clubs will be capped at a ratio of 1.8 to 1 in profit coming from TV rights. This went into place just last season, and maybe that is a reason why we are seeing smaller clubs such as Leeds, Villa, West Ham, and Leicester thrive to begin this campaign. The only question now, is the early success sustainable for these squads? With only four Champions League spots, it will be a tight race. We know that each of the top 6 clubs are eyeballing European football every season, and we know that a season is considered a colossal failure if any of these squads fail to achieve that benchmark.
As mentioned earlier, it is still very early in the season, with 90% of matches yet to be played. That being said it is clear this year is going to be different than last. And if you’re a casual fan of the Premier League with no horse in the race, that has got to be very enthralling.