Premier League 2020/21 Matchday 1 Recap
This weekend marked the beginning of the 2020/21 Premier League season, and it began in classic Premier League fashion. Champions Liverpool edged newly promoted Leeds in a seven-goal thriller, Arsenal and Leicester enjoyed comfortable 3-0 victories away from home, Wolves scored 2 goals in the opening 6 minutes against a (traditionally) defensively astute Sheffield side and Spurs were shocked at home to Carlo Ancelotti’s Everton side that looked dangerous and tactically robust.
This new season also saw the introduction of new VAR protocol – namely the pitch-side monitor, that now allows referees to review their own decisions in real time. The first game week saw a number of key decisions made and from the perspective of the URef users, VAR has made a stellar start to the season – majority of users agreed with every call made this week with an overall approval rate of 78%.
‘Begin as you mean to go on’ I believe is the phrase…
Referee of the Week
The pitch-side monitor system already took effect in the match between Crystal Palace and Southampton, where Kyle Water-Peters undeservedly saw red for a high footed challenge on Mitchell. Jon Moss reviewed the challenge via the pitch side monitor and correctly overruled his decision to a yellow card. Moss recorded another correct key decision to wave away claims for a Southampton penalty just before half time, and for this confident display, he earns the title of URef’s Referee of the Week in Matchday 1!
The Tables have Turned
We saw 2 penalties (correctly) awarded to Liverpool and Leicester in their games against Leeds United and West Bromwich Albion respectively, helping them along to 3 points to start their campaigns. The two newly promoted sides can’t be too disappointed with the decisions, as Liverpool’s decisive penalty had a URef approval rate of 89%, while both of Leicester’s spot kicks had a URef approval rate of 83%.
In the prior season, both sides were in the wrong half of the Team Fortune table. Leicester were the 7th worst off with a differential of -4 , while Liverpool were 4th worst off with a differential of -8. Even more surprising, Liverpool were awarded 4 penalties throughout the entirety of last season – a stark contrast to their fortunes in their first game!
Stats of the Week
3 of the 8 games played over the weekend saw just one yellow card awarded – one of these games (Brighton & Hove Albion vs Chelsea) was officiated by Craig Pawson, who gave away the 5th most yellow cards per game last season.
Stuart Atwell lived up to his reputation as the busiest referee with his book in the league, brandishing 4 yellow cards in his coverage of West Ham United vs Newcastle!
Next week Look Out for…
Manchester United begin their campaign at Old Trafford on Saturday against Crystal Palace. United were the most fortunate team in the Premier League last season with a Key Decision differential of +17. Look to see if they are awarded a penalty – the Red Devils won 13 penalties in 2019/20!