Locker room loggerheads at PSG over penalty privileges, Gareth Bale escapes the boos and Everton are this season’s biggest bust so far
5) Penalty tantrums at PSG
Neymar, Kylian Mbappé were part of a thrilling summer and near-perfect start of the new season for Paris Saint-Germain. All seemed to be going swimmingly, until something that happened in Sunday’s game against Lyon. Edinson Cavani, Neymar and Dani Alves had quite an evident and visible discussion on who should take a free kick and a penalty – it was Uruguayan against Brazilians. Of course, with so many quality players to take set pieces, this could become a real issue throughout the season. The only solution is to have very clear hierarchies within the changing room, but at the moment this doesn’t seem the case. Unai Emery has some work to do.
4) The Video Assistant Referee is starting to work
The more it is used, the more it becomes clear that the Video Assistant Referee can only be a positive technology for football. Correct decisions, footballers who don’t protest, happy fans who accept results. Of course, it will take time to perfect it, and it does take slightly too long. Especially from the stands of a stadium, as a fan it is difficult to always understand what is going on and why so much time is seemingly wasted. But with some more time it will become an essential part of the game, and it won’t just be used in Serie A and the Bundesliga, but all over Europe.
3) Bale is back
Real Madrid and European football were missing a footballer like Gareth Bale. Los Blancos won the Champions League without the Welshman, and Isco and Marco Asensio have stepped up to replace him wonderfully, but the power, pace and goalscoring ability of Bale is somewhat unique and had made fans used to seeing him score week in week out. In a crucial game against Real Sociedad, Madrid put three past their opponent and Bale got his second of the season. Another weapon for Zinedine Zidane.
2) Everton in crisis
Wayne Rooney’s return to Old Trafford was magical for him, but devastating for Everton. Ronald Koeman’s side is easily one of the worst of this start of the season, and after conceding three in the Europea League on Thursday night, went on to lose 4-0 against Manchester United. A team that has some big names and that having lost Romelu Lukaku brought in Rooney, Sigurdsson, Schneiderlin to try and fight for a top-four finish. As things stand now, the Toffees will have to fight to avoid relegation.
1) If only Dries Mertens had played a centre forward earlier
Another hat-trick for Mertens. If you thought his incredible last season was a one-off you’ll have to think twice, because the Napoli striker has no intention of stopping scoring goals. Maurizio Sarri’s system works perfectly around him, and that’s for sure, but one does ask oneself: what would this man’s career have been like had he played as a centre forward from the very beginning, rather than being relegated to the wings all his life? Dries Lightning scored 28 Serie A goals last season, and is on five already now. Unstoppable.