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Dublin: 6°C Wednesday 2 December 2020

Video replays would resolve Costa issue and more Premier League talking points

Also, Man City lose their 100% record and John Stones backs up the hype.

Referee Michael Dean holds a yellow cards after booking both Chelsea's Diego Costa, right, and Arsenal's Gabriel.
Referee Michael Dean holds a yellow cards after booking both Chelsea's Diego Costa, right, and Arsenal's Gabriel.
Image: AP/Press Association Images

1. Video evidence would limit Costa’s bad behaviour

ARSENE WENGER WAS more than a little aggrieved after seeing his team lose 2-0 to Chelsea at Stamford Bridge today.

The turning point in the game occurred when Arsenal defender Gabriel was sent off for a petulant flick out at Chelsea’s Diego Costa, but as Wenger suggested, the Spanish international should not have been on the pitch after committing at least one red-card offence prior to his opponent’s dismissal.

Yet it’s hard not to feel some sympathy for referee Mike Dean — he was watching the play as Costa was involved in more than one off-the-ball incident, and consequently, could hardly punish what he did not see.

There was a sense of deja vu about this afternoon’s events — Costa has been in trouble for behaving appallingly on several occasions in the past, despite only arriving in the Premier League just over a year ago, yet remarkably, the former Atletico Madrid striker has not been sent off in a league match since 2012.

Today’s controversy is a further example of an issue that would have been resolved in a much fairer manner had the referee been able to consult video evidence. Such a system would hardly slow down the game significantly provided there was a limit put on its use (each manager gets three chances to employ the technology, for instance), and would also prevent cheats like Costa from prospering on a regular basis.

- Paul Fennessy

2. John Stones backing up the hype

Plenty of eyebrows were understandably raised after Everton rejected Chelsea’s £38million bid for John Stones just prior to the closure of the summer transfer window.

The 21-year-old had handed in a transfer request and when that happens, more often than not, the player ultimately gets his way. Yet Everton ignored the youngster’s wishes and held firm despite pressure to sell.

And while critics questioned the wisdom of turning down big money for an unhappy player, the Toffees’ decision appears to have paid off in the short term at least.

Stones was magnificent in the 3-1 victory over Chelsea the other week and he was similarly superb as his club earned a hard-fought 0-0 draw in what was a tricky fixture away to Swansea.

While the unprecedented level of funding available to teams in the Premier League of late, combined with the homegrown rule, means young English talent is often overhyped and overpriced, Stones is a rare example of a player going some way towards justifying the talk — his tackling, pace, reading of the game and comfort on the ball all make it easy to see why a club like Chelsea would consider him such an asset to have at their disposal.

- Paul Fennessy

3. Sunderland fans must be tearing their hair out

Soccer - Barclays Premier League - AFC Bournemouth v Sunderland - Vitality Stadium Source: Steve Paston

(Sunderland’s Ola Toivonen looks dejected after the Barclays Premier League match at the Vitality Stadium)

It’s hard to think of a more frustrating Premier League side to support than Sunderland at the moment.

The past few seasons have felt like Groundhog Day at the Stadium Light. They begin poorly, and sack the latest scapegoat who has ill-advisedly agreed to take charge at the club, before suddenly coming alive at the end of the season and doing just enough to avoid relegation.

The trend looks like continuing this season, with a 2-0 defeat away to Bournemouth leaving them bottom of the table with just two points.

Younes Kaboul, meanwhile, consolidated his status as an early contender for worst signing of the season, after picking up a red card to exacerbate an already miserable start to this campaign for the ex-Tottenham man.

Of course, Sunderland could simply sack coach Dick Advocaat and appoint some other hapless stand-in, but sooner or later, they are going to have to look beyond easy solutions.

Just as clubs such as Southampton and Swansea have thrived no matter who is in charge in recent years, the Black Cats seem to struggle regardless of who the manager is there, so it might be time for the powers that be on Wearside to start taking a deeper look at the very structure of the club and contemplating radical change across the board.

- Paul Fennessy

4. Man City’s 100% record is no more

Having won their first five matches of the season without conceding a single goal, Manchester City had the chance to go six points clear at the the top of the table this evening.

That wasn’t to be the case however, as West Ham put the ball past Joe Hart twice in the first half. City dominated possession and recorded 27 shots to their opponents’ six, but they could only muster up a single goal through new boy Kevin de Bruyne.

The defeat is their second by a 2-1 scoreline this week after the Champions League loss to Juventus on Tuesday.

Meanwhile, the Hammers have been hugely impressive on the road and add the Etihad to the Emirates and Anfield as grounds where they have found joy at this season. Slaven Bilic expressed his surprise at how well they have done on the road, but they are now up to second in the table.

Sam who?

- Ben Blake

5. Time running out for McClaren?

The only thing keeping Newcastle off the bottom of the table is their slightly superior goal difference over local rivals Sunderland. Like the Black Cats, they have yet to pick up a single win after six matches and it is no surprise that Steve McClaren is one of the favourites to be sacked next to Dick Advocaat.

Watford were the latest team to pour misery on former England boss McClaren, with Odion Ighalo responsible for both goals.

Toon legend Alan Shearer put the boot in on Twitter afterwards, joking that even he had a better record during his ill-fated reign at the club. They spent big in the summer and appear to have little to show for it, while McClaren still doesn’t know his best team.

He says his players lack belief, but with Chelsea and Man City next up in the league, it could be only a matter of time before the club lose their patience with him.

- Ben Blake

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The42 Team

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