November 5, 2018 / 11:58 AM / 15 days ago

Talking points from the Premier League weekend

LONDON (Reuters) - Manchester City thrashed Southampton 6-1 to remain top of the Premier League. Chelsea and Liverpool also retained their unbeaten records while at the bottom, Newcastle United secured their first win of the season in a 1-0 victory over Watford.

Soccer Football - Premier League - Manchester City v Southampton - Etihad Stadium, Manchester, Britain - November 4, 2018 Manchester City's Bernardo Silva celebrates after Leroy Sane scored their sixth goal REUTERS/Andrew Yates

Here are five talking points from the weekend's action.

SENTIMENT CLASHES WITH RULES

Leicester City rounded off a traumatic week by winning 1-0 at Cardiff City on Saturday with tributes from both sides being paid for the Midlands club's late owner Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha who died in a helicopter crash the previous weekend.

A second-half goal from Demarai Gray sparked jubilation amongst Leicester's players and fans. However, referee Lee Probert was criticised by some for booking the forward after he took his shirt off in celebration to reveal an under-shirt with the words "For Khun Vichai" across the front.

Leicester City's Demarai Gray celebrates after the match wearing a shirt in remembrance of Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha, late chairman of Leicester City Football Club REUTERS/Darren Staples

Law 12 of IFAB’s Laws of the Game contains a clause that says players must be cautioned for removing their shirt in celebration of a goal.

However, IFAB’s rules also say that “referees are expected to use common sense when applying the Laws of the Game,” so many will feel that Probert should have allowed Gray’s tribute to go unpunished.

CAN VAR BE FAR?

Every officiating decision is heavily scrutinised in the top-flight but with video assistant referees (VAR) in use elsewhere, a human error makes the case for their introduction to the Premier League even stronger.

Liverpool were held to a 1-1 draw at Arsenal on Saturday but could have been ahead after only 20 minutes when Roberto Firmino chipped the ball over goalkeeper Bernd Leno and it came back off the post for Sadio Mane to tap in.

Liverpool's Roberto Firmino in action with Arsenal's Shkodran Mustafi REUTERS/David Klein

The effort was ruled out as the linesman had flagged the Senegalese winger offside, although replays showed Mane was behind his Brazilian team mate when the original shot was taken.

“There is only one person who can answer the question and that’s the linesman. That’s football. If he thought the first situation was offside then I think he was wrong,” Liverpool manager Juergen Klopp said.

Later on Saturday, Wolverhampton Wanderers thought they had responded in ideal fashion to going two goals down to Tottenham Hotspur as Matt Doherty teed up Raul Jimenez to score before halftime. However, Doherty was ruled offside by the linesman.

Replays again showed the decision was incorrect and Wolves went on to lose 3-2. With decisions that could impact the title race or a relegation battle, can the introduction of VAR be far away in the Premier League?

NEWCASTLE OUT OF THE GLOOM

Such is the close nature of the fight to stay in the Premier League, that Newcastle United's first win of the season, a 1-0 victory over Watford, lifted them straight out of the relegation zone having been there since Sept. 1.

Newcastle United's Ayoze Perez celebrates with manager Rafael Benitez after the match Action Images via Reuters/Craig Brough

Ayoze Perez’s header in the 65th minute at St James’ Park proved enough to give manager Rafa Benitez the win he seemed so confident had been long overdue.

Newcastle are at home again next week against Bournemouth where another victory could take them up to 14th in the standings.

It means that Huddersfield Town are now the only team in the division yet to win a game, languishing at the bottom on three points. They play fellow strugglers Fulham on Monday night.

UNBEATEN SARRI MATCHES RECORD

Not many would have expected Chelsea coach Maurizio Sarri to have such an immediate impact at Stamford Bridge since taking over in July - but the Italian has now equalled the record for the longest unbeaten start by a new Premier League manager.

Chelsea manager Maurizio Sarri Action Images via Reuters/Matthew Childs

Sarri’s 11 games without loss is the same number that Frank Clark managed when he took Nottingham Forest into the top-flight for the 1994-95 season.

Alvaro Morata, one of those who looks to have been rejuvenated by Sarri, scored twice as Chelsea overcame Crystal Palace 3-1 on Sunday, ensuring the Blues stay within two points of leaders City.

The 59-year-old can have the record all to himself should Chelsea not slip up at home to Everton next weekend, with a win also giving them the opportunity to go top briefly before the Manchester derby later that day.

FELIPE ANDERSON PROVING HIS WORTH

There was plenty of buzz before the start of the season about West Ham United’s signings, particularly the club-record acquisition of attacker Felipe Anderson from Lazio for a reported 35 million pounds ($45.5 million).

West Ham's Felipe Anderson celebrates scoring their second goal REUTERS/Peter Nicholls

After initially struggling to adapt to English football, the Brazilian looks to have found his feet after a commanding display and two goals in the London side's 4-2 win over Burnley.

Anderson started the match on the left of a midfield three and had four shots out of five on target, along with a season-high 103 touches for West Ham as fans at the London Stadium saw the kind of attacking play they have been crying out for.

Conceding twice against the run of play will disappoint manager Manuel Pellegrini. But with Anderson discovering the form he so often produced in Serie A, defensive worries may not be so problematic this season for the Hammers.

Reporting by Christian Radnedge; Editing by Keith Weir

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