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Weekend Review: Ravenous Rashford aggravates Arsenal in VARcical Premier League weekend

Manchester United end Arsenal’s 100% start to the season as VAR took centre stage in a controversial weekend of Premier League action

It was a good weekend for the layers as a number of top sides dropped points in the Premier League as the table starts to take shape in the early stages of the season.

Manchester United (8/5) triumphed at the big grudge match against high-flying Arsenal (17/10), winning 3-1 (16/1) at Old Trafford on Sunday.

Arsenal thought they had taken the lead when Gabriel Martinelli dinked the ball over David de Gea, but it was ruled out by VAR for a foul by Martin Ødegaard on Christian Eriksen in the build-up.

Debutant Antony scored 10 minutes from the break with a sweeping effort in the far corner to give United the lead against the run of play. Saka equalised for the Gunners on the hour mark, but Marcus Rashford hit a quick-fire double to end Arsenal’s 100% start to the season and propel the Red Devils to fifth in the table.

Kindred Group’s Ali Gill said: “The Sunday afternoon clash between United and Arsenal topped the overall turnover charts for the week, and with ten Hag’s team looking to have got their season up and running beforehand, that result went the way of the punters despite Arsenal going into the match with a 100% record, with the overs goal line being also hit not doing us any favours.

The bookies were in luck when last season’s top two, Liverpool and Manchester City, were held to draws on Saturday. Liverpool (9/25) was held to a goalless draw (16/1) by Merseyside rivals Everton (7/1), while City (3/10) was left to mire in the Midlands after Leon Bailey rescued a point for Aston Villa (8/1) at Villa Park in the evening kick-off.

Betfred’s Alan Firkins said: “Two key, low-score draws – the Merseyside derby and Villa hosting Manchester City – brought some welcome relief to the traders. Erling Haaland is fast becoming an expensive first goalscorer staple however, while the weekend’s biggest gamble was arguably what VAR might make of any given referral. A ‘mixed bag’ would be putting it politely, leaving several managers apoplectic.”

Matchbook’s Aidan O’Sullivan added: “A definite bounce back week for the football layers on the Matchbook Exchange as notable favourites Liverpool (1.43) and City (1.34) getting chinned. Indeed, City were backed as low as 1.11 in running just before Leon Bailey came to the layers’ rescue.”

There were positives for the punters over the weekend, as favourites Tottenham, Chelsea and Brighton all duly delivered despite the looming spectre of VAR.

Tottenham’s new Brazilian Richarlison was left with egg on his face after he thought he had put Spurs (1/2) 3-1 up at home to Fulham (11/2) and then proceeded to whip his top off in celebration, only for it to be ruled out for offside by VAR in a 2-1 win for Spurs.

Brighton (9/10) demolished a despondent Leicester City (16/5) side 5-2 (125/1) as the pressure grows on Foxes’ boss Brendan Rodgers, while Chelsea (13/20) survived a last-minute VAR scare to run out 2-1 winners against West Ham (4/1) at Stamford Bridge.

Betway’s Chad Yeomans commented: “Obviously, Everton holding Liverpool to a draw and Villa doing the same to City were very good results for the book. Elsewhere, punters predicted a Spurs win and on Sunday, Brighton’s demolition of Leicester was well-fancied prior to kick-off, too.”

There were still shocks to come on the continent as Bayern Munich (2/5) were held to a 1-1 (9/1) draw away at Union Berlin (6/1) and Eintracht Frankfurt (5/2) prepared for their maiden Champions League campaign with a 4-0 (100/1) demolition of RB Leipzig (11/10).

There was also a shock in Serie A as Destiny Udogie starred for Udinese (3/1) as they trounced leaders Roma (19/20) 4-0.

Punters were in luck in Spain as Barcelona demolished Sevilla, and Real Madrid, Valencia and Villareal all won over the weekend.

Steve Freeth from bet365 said: “Liverpool and Manchester City weren’t the only big clubs to frustrate their backers with Bayern Munich once again dropping points – more of the same in the Champions League please! In fact, the Bundesliga coupon was littered with shock results with Bayer Leverkusen, Monchengladbach, Leipzig and Stuttgart all getting chinned.

“Punters did get some joy in La Liga with Barcelona’s dismantling of Sevilla being one of our worst results of the weekend, with well-fancied Real Madrid, Valencia and Villarreal also doing the business in Spain.

“We did finish on a high with Udinese causing a huge shock by smashing Serie A Leaders Roma 4-0,” he concluded.

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