Manchester City's Raheem Sterling celebrates after scoring the opening goal during the English Premier League soccer match between Manchester City and Arsenal at the Etihad Stadium in Manchester, England, Wednesday, June 17, 2020.
Manchester City's Raheem Sterling celebrates after scoring the opening goal during the English Premier League soccer match between Manchester City and Arsenal at the Etihad Stadium in Manchester, England, Wednesday, June 17, 2020. |Dave Thompson | Pool, Associated Press
Soccer

Euro Soccer Recap: Premier League return marred by goal-line technology blunder, David Luiz disaster game

Everyone watching at home knew that Sheffield United was robbed.

Sean Miller

Sean Miller

Well, that was an interesting day around Europe.

With the return of the Premier League in England, and the finale of the Coppa Italia campaign, there promised to be some excitement.

But no one would have guessed that, with no fans in attendance at Villa Park, the fans watching from home were able to see the action better than the officials paid to do so.

Without further ado, here is the first (and maybe the weirdest, but there is a long way to go still for the 2019-20 season) European Soccer Daily recap.

GHOST-GOAL SINKS SHEFFIELD UNITED’S CHANCE TO MOVE INTO POSSIBLE UEFA CHAMPIONS LEAGUE PLACES

I saw it. If you were watching, you saw it.

The players saw it. The Aston Villa goalkeeper, Orjan Nyland, saw it, and knew it.

Sheffield United had scored the first goal back in the Premier League’s “Operation Restart”, and was heading into the top five of the Premier League table.

Except for one thing: the goal was never given.

Referee Michael Oliver looked at his goal-line technology watch, which is supposed to alert him if the whole of the ball goes over the whole of the line. It did not alert him.

He checked again, and again, all the way down the pitch. It never went off, and play continued.

At halftime, the system was tested, and it worked. So it was not a failure of the technology in that sense. The Blades, having to soldier on at 0-0 instead of 1-0, ended up settling for a point.

But everyone watching at home knew that Sheffield United was robbed.

Goal-line technology company Hawk-Eye Innovations released a statement afterwards, saying the issue with the seven cameras that were blocked in one way or another during the play, is something that had never been seen before in over 9,000 matches.

Sheffield United Manager Chris Wilder was not very happy after the match speaking to Sky Sports.

"The statement's come out, unprecedented, unbelievable,” Wilder said. “That's the balance. We were waiting for somebody, I don't know who it was at Stockley Park, to show a bit of courage, stick their chest out and say I'll make that decision. But if they say they haven't seen it, and seven cameras haven't seen it, I suppose he's going to say he can't make that decision.

"I think we all had the feel, both sets of players, fans and staff, I think even speaking to the referee and the fourth official, I think we all had the feel of a goal. You listen to the statement that's been given by Hawk-Eye, my issue is one of frustration, seven cameras haven't picked it up, the most technical league in the world, video analysis and everything we see at every angle hasn't seen a goal. That's disappointing from our point of view.”

PICK RECAP: Aston Villa or draw (W), Jack Grealish to score (L)

DAVID LUIZ TAKES PRESSURE OFF FIRST GAME OFFICIALS WITH ARSENAL DISASTER CLASS

When Mikel Arteta set up his Arsenal team to face his mentor Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City Wednesday, he most certainly did not think he was going to be forced to make two injury substitutions in the first 24 minutes back.

But the Gunners lost two players, Granit Xhaka (8th minute) and Pablo Mari (24th minute), and on came the subs to try to hold down the fort.

Enter David Luiz.

In his 25 minutes on the pitch, Luiz managed to blunder a clearance, setting up Raheem Sterling’s opener. Luiz then got beat on a long ball and pulled down Riyad Mahrez in the box, leading to another goal from Kevin De Bruyne. To make matters worse, Luiz was sent off with a straight red card. The ensuing three-game suspension, coupled with the uncertainty over the contract situation thanks to the COVID-19 delay, may mean this was the last Arsenal fans have seen of the Brazilian.

City won at a canter after that (3-0), and could be the best team in the world right now with everyone healthy.

PICK RECAP: City first half -0.75 (W), City -1.5 (W), Over 3.5 goals (L)

WEDNESDAY’S STAR OF THE GAME

Raheem Sterling, Manchester City: He has been a hero on and off the pitch, and was the Whoscored.com Man of the Match with an 8.30 rating.

WHAT TO WATCH FOR FRIDAY

With a light day of action around Europe Thursday, the Premier League is back in action Friday with two more big games.

The first one pits Norwich City, sitting at the bottom of the table with 21 points, in a near must-win game against Southampton (1 p.m. EDT NBCSN and Fubo.tv)

Just like today, the second contest is the marquee one, as Manchester United heads to Tottenham for the EFD Match of the Day (3:15 p.m. EDT NBCSN and Fubo.tv). The Red Devils, who are on an 11-match unbeaten run, can move into the top four with a win, while Tottenham would move up to sixth with a victory.

With Manchester United finally healthy, it will be interesting to see what the Red Devils can do over the next two months in the three competitions (UEFA Europa League, F.A. Cup, Premier League) in which they are still playing.

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