It’s been raining goals in the Premier League and I don’t see a break in the flow until at least the international break next month.
So far, 67 goals have flown in the 18 matches that have been played – that’s 3.7 goals a game.
Just last weekend there were 39 in eight, which boosted the average goals per game to 4.8 before Monday night’s two matches added another five.
That’s a lot of goals and if it’s your team banging them in, then I’m happy for you.
Otherwise, haaties to the team with a Spanish goalkeeper between the sticks.
And that brings me to why there are so many goals, as the Premier League blew off the rust of the very short off-season break they had.
But before I pull back the curtain and reveal the secrets to the goalfest, let me just say that I hope it doesn’t stop soon. I mean who doesn’t smaak to see goals?
First of all, the new season is bright, shiny and new.
The fit players are fresh and raring to go.
There has been a lot of talk from the managers about the lack of preparation, but that balances out those teams and players with a bit of form and those who are lacking.
If you put teams like this head to head, then you can expect a lopsided score.
We’ve seen 5-2 and 5-1 scorelines and even two 4-3 matches.
And it makes for great viewing. For coaches and players, though? They won’t be enjoying it much.
Unless, of course, you’re the one hitting the back of the net.
Yes, teams are still finding their range and rhythm.
And the sooner they do that, the sooner there will be an improvement in their performances, especially in defence – which, overall, has been pretty swak.
THE HAND OF GOD
Last season, we saw how the Video-Assist Refereeing (VAR) played havoc with the offside rule.
The officials seem to have gotten this one down now, with the attack allowed to be completed before checking the validity of any resultant goal.
But the new VAR talking point this season has been the handball rule.
In 18 matches this season, 13 penalty kicks have been awarded already.
The new interpretation seems to be that if your arm is out and the ball hits your arm, it’s a handball.
And some of those decisions look pretty harsh.
As an example from last week, in the Southampton-
Tottenham game, Spurs defender Matt Doherty was penalised for Danny Ings’ second goal for the Saints.
His arm was on the attacker, whose back was towards goals and no immediate threat to the goal as he and Harry Winks tried to closed him down.
And Doherty had absolutely no intent to handle the ball or any chance to get out of the way when the ball bounced off Winks’ foot and hit his arm.
But the referee pointed to the spot.
Obviously the big penalty decision last week was at Old Trafford, where Victor Lindelof got penalised as Manchester United lost to Crystal Palace.
And for this one, I have less sympathy for the defender.
Running alongside Jordan Ayew, the Ghanaian’s dinked shot hit his outstretched arm en route to goal.
Now here, Lindelof should now better.
He is blocking an attacker’s path to goal, so you shouldn’t have your arm flailing around.
For me, the law might be harsh, but if VAR called it up, it was definitely a decision that the ref should consider.
The fact that he pointed to the spot should serve as notice to the rest of the league that you need to be smarter defensively or you’ll add to the goal count.
NOT IN THE EYES
Since the restriction on fans in the stadiums, I’ve wondered about the psychological effect it has had on players.
I reckoned that with the pressure of expectation and noise removed from the game, players would perform better.
Like in training, players have the freedom to express themselves a bit more.
And while we’ve seen players, especially the younger ones, lift their games.
Also, towards the end of last season, playing inside the bubble produced some memorable games.
There were high quality games between Manchester City and Liverpool and the Reds and Chelsea’s coronation party at Anfield.
And one can put that down to clearer coaching.
While the mid-half cooling-break “tactical talks” and fresher legs provided by the five-substitute rule are gone, coaches can still be heard loudly giving instructions on the side of the pitch.
Prem goal stats
Penalties awarded: 13
Penalties scored: 11