Premier League talking points | Reuters

Soccer Football – Premier League – Tottenham Hotspur v Liverpool – Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, London Great Britain – December 19th 2021 Liverpool manager Juergen Klopp reacts REUTERS / David Klein

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LONDON, December 19 (Reuters) – Premier League weekend talking points:

A BAD WEEKEND FOR VAR

Tottenham Hotspur and Liverpool served up a festive classic on Sunday, but sadly it was referee Paul Tierney and VAR who dominated the post-match analysis.

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Liverpool manager Juergen Klopp was furious at several decisions that went against his side in a 2-2 draw and with some justification.

Tottenham’s Harry Kane was only booked for a dangerous tackle on Andy Robertson as VAR decided not to turn it into an expulsion. Yet Robertson’s equally reckless tackle on Emerson Royal then changed from yellow to red.

Liverpool also had what looked like a clear penalty that was not issued when Diogo Jota was pushed in the back by Royal as he prepared to shoot – without VAR intervening.

Earlier today, Newcastle United were denied what looked like a penalty when Manchester City goalkeeper Ederson appeared to foul Ryan Fraser – a move Alan Shearer called “disgusting”.

After a relatively positive season for officials so far, things certainly seem to have taken a step back in recent weeks, with glaring inconsistencies being the biggest gripe.

IS MAN CITY ON THE FIELD OF GOING OFFSHORE

Manchester City weren’t even at their best, manager Pep Guardiola said after a 4-0 win at Newcastle United, earning them eight consecutive Premier League wins on Sunday.

This means the champions will top the leaderboards over Christmas for the first time since 2017 and have won 34 league games in the calendar year – a high profile record.

During their march to the title last season they put together a 15 game winning streak and the way they are playing right now, few would bet against them to match that.

With Chelsea faltering, it looks like a two-horse title race between City and Liverpool, but Juergen Klopp’s side know their margin for error is slim.

MARTINELLI D’ARSENAL IN SEARCH OF THE REAL DEAL

Much has been said about Pierre Emerick-Aubameyang being stripped of his position as Arsenal captain and his omission for the victories against Southampton, West Ham United and Leeds United.

But with the form Brazilian youngster Gabriel Martinelli is displaying, Aubameyang may well now be in excess of need.

Martinelli, 20, had two clinical results in a 4-1 win at Leeds United, following his midweek goal against West Ham, and looks set for a long run in the squad.

CHELSEA HAS ONE POINT VALID ON THE CARRY-OVER OF WOLVES

Chelsea were not ahead of the game for the second game in a row as they drew 0-0 against Wolverhampton Wanderers and fell six points behind Manchester City after two wins in their last seven games, putting them at risk of injury. ‘give up the title race.

They wanted the game postponed after seven positive cases of COVID-19 in their squad, especially because their trip and time spent together in camp threatened more infections, but remained angry when the Premier League said that the show had to go on.

It is not only the number of players absent due to COVID-19 infections that calls into question the sporting integrity of the matches but also the positions they cover.

Chelsea struggled up front without Romelu Lukaku, Timo Werner and Callum Hudson-Odoi, who tested positive for COVID, and Kai Havertz due to illness. It is not absences for blows and minor worries that usually put players on the sidelines.

HOWE HAS STILL CLIMBED THE MOUNTAIN LIKE NEWCASTLE’S FLOP

Manchester City’s beating of Newcastle United has highlighted the main issues Eddie Howe needs to tackle if his side are to stay put – defense is as porous as attacking is toothless.

Defensive confusion saw City take the lead after five minutes at St James ‘Park, while the Magpies’ offense only managed one shot on target in 90 minutes.

Too often Newcastle players operated as individuals rather than a unit, and it was easy for Premier League leaders City to contain the home side and hit them at the break.

The January transfer window will be open soon, but before signing any new players, Howe could be working on a lot of things to organize the ones he has. They won’t be defeating City anytime soon, but they can do a lot better than that.

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Reporting by Martyn Herman, Philip O’Connor and Nick Said; Editing by Ken Ferris

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