Manchester City’s blockbuster encounter with Arsenal, the headline act on the day of the Premier League’s return after 100 days of absence, features some of the best players in world football.
But the unforgettable action in both games – Aston Villa and Sheffield United literally came the day before – was before the ball kicked in anger.
Referee officials and staff coaching members of the four teams that took part in Wednesday’s games also took a knee, but all players wore shirts with their names on them, replacing the words “Black Lives Matter” in tribute to the movement. Death of George Floyd.
“All players, including referee Michael Oliver, kneel for a tribute to Black Lives Matter, while the world’s eyes are on the game after the kick-off. Brilliant.”
There was also a minute’s silence for the two games played without fans in memory of those who died of the coronavirus pandemic.
Earlier on Wednesday, Britain’s Cultural Secretary Oliver Dowden said the “return of the world” would show the soft power of top league UK sport.
“The Premier League is back and the world is watching,” Dowden added. “It’s very symbolic. It’s an ostrich for our football-loving nation. Fans also have to play their part to see it from home. To support the home, support from home.”
If the game between Villa and United ends without a goal, it will provide one of the surreal moments of the 2019/2020 season – indeed in Premier League history.
United’s Olivier Norwood crossed the harmless ball into the penalty box, but Villa goalkeeper Orson Hauskjold made his way back into the stripe, holding back the ball, largely by teammate Keenan Davis.
However, referee Michael Oliver’s clock failed to buzz and the entire ball crossed the line – indicating that subsequent TV replays had clearly happened.
According to Hawk-Eye Innovations – the developer of the goal-line technology system – Oliver has not received a signal to his watch due to the “significant” shutdown.
“The seven cameras in the stands around the goal area were significantly caused by the goalkeeper, defender and goalpost.” Said the Hawk-Eye Innovations Statement.
“The level of hack-eye goal-line technology in the 9,000 matches that have never occurred before.”
At the Etihad Stadium in Manchester, Gabon paid tribute to international black protest and liberation, with his knee amputated and Arsenal striker Pierre-Emerick Abameyong also raising his fist.
Most notably, Olympic medalists John Carlos and Tommy Smith raised their fists on the podium during the 1968 national anthem at the Olympic Games in Mexico City.
The gesture has been adopted many times since then, and many have raised their fists during the Black Lives Matter protests following Floyd’s death.
Technology at the Etihad Stadium could not have been more impressive, as second-placed City were 3-0 winners – in the wake of Manchester rainfall – thanks to the goals of Sterling, Kevin de Bruyne and Phil Foden.
Arsenal defender David Luiz, who came in as a first-half substitute, was wrong on those two goals, and Brazil’s pathetic evening came to an early decision after he was red-carded for accepting a penalty. .
Foden’s goal came to an end with 11 minutes left after Eric Garcia had to be extended after a clash with teammate Emerson.
The victory means City are now 22 points behind leader Liverpool, and the Reds are on the verge of winning their first Premier League title. Liverpool last won the top spot 30 years ago in the old first division.
So it’s two games, 90 to go. Two provocative and vicious manager Jos మౌ Mourinho – Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester United – face off on Friday before Liverpool take on the Merseyside Derby in Everton on Sunday.