Let’s be clear: West Brom deserved to have a man sent off after 90 seconds on Saturday. Wilfried Bony was brought down through on goal, and the red card was appropriate. The problem was that ref Neil Swarbrick sent off the wrong man in an admitted case of mistaken identity. The incident has led to renewed calls for video assistance, with PGMOL head Mike Riley now joining the chorus, pointing to Holland as a possible example. It cannot come soon enough: once, people trusted referees because they were closer to the action and replays didn’t exist. Today, everyone can see a replay but a ref, and it’s become untenable.
Getty ImagesAlex Livesey
Gerrard’s latest stumble
Liverpool weren’t good enough against arch-rivals Manchester United on Sunday for long spells – but their cause certainly wasn’t helped by what was one of the fastest ejections in Premier League history. Gerrard’s rash stamp on Ander Herrera after only 38 seconds on the field was inexcusable, and may cost his side a European slot next season. It will also rank up there with his slip against Chelsea last season, an action that gifted Manchester City the title. He will be suspended for three games to boot. The funny thing is that Liverpool have played far better without their aging leader this season, and one wonders if this latest rash act will be one of his last in a Liverpool strip. He is one game shy of reaching 500 Premier League appearances for the Reds, and he’ll get it -- but how much else?
Liverpool FC via Getty ImagesJohn Powell
Van Gaal’s job almost done
While Liverpool sink, United are putting some daylight between themselves and the pack. United have been horrible for much of this season, but the table speaks for what the gruff Dutchman has accomplished: the Red Devils are now five points clear of Liverpool and have one hand on Champions League football again next season. Sunday, they built off their impressive 3-0 whipping of Tottenham to boss about Liverpool at home, getting two exceptional goals from Juan Mata to take full points. They suddenly look a team transformed. They’re only two points behind Manchester City now as well, making that meeting on April 12th a must-see.
AFP/Getty ImagesPAUL ELLIS
Advocaat’s reclamation job
All the flair we saw in the Premier League this weekend was notably absent at Upton Park on Saturday, as Sunderland and West Ham sunk to a new low in top-flight football. The game was dreadful, but the magnitude of Dick Advocaat’s task was on full display. Sunderland have scored just once in seven games, and won only one league match this year. A point above a Burnley side that shows a fair bit more fight, Sunderland have only six games in which to find some points -- unless you think their season finales, against Arsenal and Chelsea, are winnable. QPR and Leicester are worse than the Black Cats ... but make no mistake: Sunderland are quite likely to suffer the drop.
Getty ImagesMike Hewitt
It’s as simple as this: Harry Kane is carrying Tottenham. Kane notched his first Premier League hat-trick Saturday in a 4-3 thriller against Leicester that showed just how dependent Spurs are on their starlet. Kane has now scored 29 goals across all competition, and is tied with Diego Costa for the golden boot race. He's riding a hot streak like no other, and it shows no signs of going cold. The problems Spurs have are everywhere else on the field. Their defense is awful; keeper Hugo Lloris was carried off with a bad knee injury that will take him out of the pending France friendlies; and they look a team far less than the sum of some expensive parts. With European football looking very distant indeed, the question is this: will Spurs once again blow up their squad? And if they do, will Kane be the man they cash in on?