Tottenham and Chelsea played out a mad opening half of Premier League football which saw the ball in the net six times and three strong red card shouts amid total chaos
“Chaos, chaos, carnage” declared Sky Sports commentator Peter Drury as the teams trudged down the tunnel for half-time.
Arsenal released a statement to support boss Mikel Arteta calling the decisions in his side’s defeat at Newcastle “embarrassing” and a “disgrace”. Kai Havertz and Bruno Guimaraes both escaped red card calls in that match, before the decisive goal was scored following three VAR checks: on the ball going out of play, on a possible foul, and a possible offside.
There was controversy elsewhere too. Manchester United’s opening goal at Fulham was chalked off for a decision that adjudged the offside Harry Maguire to be interfering with play while Sheffield United’s late penalty winner over Wolves was tinged with controversy. But fans had seen nothing yet.
In the sixth minute in the north London, Dejan Kulusevski cut inside from the right and his shot deflected off Levi Colwill and spun beyond the wrong-footed Robert Sanchez.
That gave Tottenham, who started the weekend on top of the standings, the lead over Chelsea – languishing in the bottom half of the standings.
Minutes later, Heung-Min Son thought he had doubled the Spurs lead but his effort was ruled out for a marginal offside call. That was close, but it was only the start of a scarcely believable period of chaos.
Spurs full-back Destiny Udogie escaped a red card for a studs-up, two-footed challenge in the direction of Raheem Sterling. The Chelsea forward managed to avoid the challenge and a possible serious injury, with suggestions that Udogie was lucky to avoid a dismissal – as he was only booked. His teammate Cristian Romero then avoided a red card despite kicking out at Colwill – again leaving many Chelsea fans bemused.
The Blues frustration was only to grow and grow. Sterling thought he had equalised but his goal was correctly ruled out for a handball in the build-up to the goal. Moises Caicedo then believed he had equalised with a stunning strike but it transpired that Nicolas Jackson was offside as the Ecuadorian got his shot off – and was adjudged to have interfered with play.
That was Chelsea’s second goal in quickfire succession that was ruled out, but the Blues did get a reprieve as Romero’s rash challenge inside the area saw the Argentine international sent-off and Cole Palmer dutifully converted the penalty. The Blues thought they had the lead minutes later after Sterling broke through and provided Jackson with a goal, but it was once more correctly disallowed for offside.
The ball had been in the net six times, only twice allowed, while there have been three strong shouts for red cards, of which only one was given. That was before James Maddison and Micky Van de Ven were forced off through injuries for Spurs, whose stunning start was unravelling into a nightmare.
There were 12 minutes of injury time added at the end of the half, which passed off relatively uneventfully, although yellow cards were handed out to Colwill, Jackson and Pape Sarr were all booked.
It was bad-tempered and quite, quite mad. There have been millions of halves of football matches ever played, but none was quite like this one.
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