Premier League takeaways: Rashford at the double, perfect Pickford, ticket for Toney

The big talking points from the English top-flight's weekend games

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Pickford proves he's England No 1

There might have been no goals in Saturday's Merseyside derby, but there was certainly no shortage of action at Goodison Park. And in the thick of that was Everton goalkeeper Jordan Pickford.

Liverpool substitute Roberto Firmino will be wondering how he didn't find the net after Pickford denied him on three occasions, while summer signing Darwin Nunez saw one of his efforts brilliantly turned on to the bar by the England stopper.

Pickford finished with an immaculate save ratio of eight out of eight, including the slightest of touches to turn Mohamed Salah's shot on to the woodwork in the dying seconds.

The form of Aaron Ramsdale at Arsenal and Newcastle United's Nick Pope have caused some to question whether Pickford should be England's keeper at the Qatar World Cup, but this sort of performance shows there is no doubt who is the Three Lions' No 1.

Everton's goalkeeper Jordan Pickford makes another save during his man-of-the-match performance against Liverpool. AP

Toney stakes claim for ticket to Qatar

Talking of England's World Cup squad, Brentford striker Ivan Toney staked his claim for a ticket on the plane to the Middle East alongside Pickford.

Toney bagged a hat-trick in Brentford's 5-2 win over Leeds United, taking his tally for the season to five, coming on the back of his 12 top-flight goals last season.

The form of Harry Kane, who also has five goals after his winner for Spurs against Fulham, will be reassuring to Gareth Southgate – but Toney's goals will surely be making the England manager sit up and take notice ahead of this month's Nations League fixtures.

“Off the top of my head, looking at strikers on form, Harry Kane is No 1 but there is not a better striker after Kane on form,” Brentford manager Thomas Frank said of Toney.

Ivan Toney scores from the spot for Brentford against Leeds United. Getty

Bad day at office for VAR …

There was a huge amount of frustration and bewilderment among players, managers and fans alike on Saturday due to two goals that were disallowed after referees were asked to look at incidents on pitchside monitors by VAR.

At Stamford Bridge, West Ham were denied a late equaliser when Maxwel Cornet's goal was disallowed by referee Andrew Madley, after Jarrod Bowen was judged to have fouled Chelsea goalkeeper Edouard Mendy in the build-up.

“It was a ridiculously bad decision,” said Hammers manager David Moyes, whose team lost 2-1. “I'd question VAR as much as the referee, but the referee should have stuck to his own guns.”

Another dubious call was made during Newcastle's goalless draw with Crystal Palace, when Eagles defender Tyrick Mitchell's own goal was disallowed after referee Michael Salisbury decided Palace goalkeeper Vicente Guaita had been fouled by Joe Willock.

Replays clearly showed Mitchell shoving Willock in the back, leading to the Newcastle midfielder colliding into Guaita, although the best view was not shown to Salisbury on the VAR monitor.

“VAR is not the problem, it is the people who are running it,” said former England and Newcastle captain Alan Shearer on BBC's Match of the Day.

It is no surprise that the Premier League is to review both decisions with referees' body PGMOL.

West Ham's Declan Rice and Jarrod Bowen argue with referee Andrew Madley after he disallowed Maxwel Cornet's goal. AFP

… make that two bad days

Just 24 hours later, and VAR was at it again. Early in the second half of Brighton's match against Leicester, and with the game perfectly poised at 2-2, the ball fell to Alexis Mac Allister on the edge of the Foxes' area and the Seagulls' player arrowed a sensational strike into the top corner.

But the fun police's determination to suck the joy out of football has been particularly enthusiastic this weekend. After another VAR intervention and a lengthy look at the pitchside monitor, another goal was chalked off after referee Tony Harrington judged Enock Mwepu, who swung and missed the ball ahead of the wonder strike, was in an offside position.

As it happened, it proved only a temporary reprieve for beleaguered Leicester who capitulated to a shambolic 5-2 defeat, piling the pressure on manager Brendan Rodgers.

Referee Tony Harrington looks at the pitchside monitor before disallowing Alexis Mac Allister's wonder goal for Brighton. AFP

Rashford at double as Arteta gamble fails

For 65 minutes, Arsenal looked every inch the league leaders after drawing level at Manchester United and looked set to kick on and win the game.

Then a cool Marcus Rashford finish put United back in front in the 66th minute. Soon after, manager Mikel Arteta decided to make a risky triple attacking subsitution, bringing on Emile Smith Rowe, Fabio Vieira and Eddie Nketiah. It was a gamble that failed.

Within a minute, Rashford made it three and Arsenal's hopes of starting the season with six wins in a row for the first time since 1947 were over.

"The game was there for the taking," insisted Arteta. "We haven't won it because we lacked some discipline in some moments and we weren't ruthless enough in front of goal."

Marcus Rashford scores Manchester United's second goal against Arsenal. AFP
Updated: September 05, 2022, 5:25 AM