August is the usual time for the start of the football season (with last year the obvious yet forgettable exception) and we’ve selected three matches from the past to take a look at, starting in the not so distant future with a welcome to VAR.
City 2-2 Spurs - 2019
The dust has settled already on Sunday’s defeat in north London, but in the 2019/20 season, arguments were raging for days following City’s home draw with Spurs.
VAR was making its debut in the Premier League and City had already fallen foul of the cameras a week earlier at West Ham, when the nail on Raheem Sterling’s left little finger was deemed to be offside. It didn’t matter much as the blues strolled to a 5-0 victory over the Hammers, but it was a different story when Spurs arrived.
VAR was on the ball against West Ham, but when Rodri was blatantly dragged down by Erik Lamela in the first half, the referee and virtual assistant saw nothing wrong with the headlock that ended with the Spaniard on the floor. The ref said he’d heard nothing from VAR so couldn’t give anything!
Sterling then gave City the lead in the 20th minute when he headed home Kevin de Bruyne’s magnificent cross not the back of the goal.
It was a lead that lasted three minutes as Lamela was given the space to fire a left foot shot past Ederson and draw Spurs level. City then went and scored again with ten minutes of the half left, when another de Buryne cross was flicked home by one man goal machine Sergio Aguero.
That should have been enough to spur City on to get further goals, but once again City allowed Spurs an equaliser. Lucas Moura headed home a corner to put Spurs on level terms again.
Gabriel Jesus then looked to have secured the points in the final minute, only for VAR to decide otherwise.
De Bruyne’s corner was flicked on by Aymeric Laporte, however the VAR replay showed the ball making the slightest of contact against his arm, which enabled them to disallow the goal. What the replay also showed was Laporte’s arm being dragged back prior to the ‘handball,’ however this was conveniently missed and the match ended 2-2.
Newcastle 0-2 City - 2014
On the opening day in 2014, champions Manchester City were again matched against Newcastle, but this time at St James’s Park, a happy hunting ground for the blues.
The season previous, the two faced off on the opening day, with David Silva scoring the first goal of the season, and the Spaniard repeated the feat again. This time, it took him 38 minutes, but when it came, it was a brilliant finish that was well worth the wait.
Yaya Toure’s ball over the top found Edin Dzeko, and his backheel went straight into the path of Silva, and Merlin took one touch before firing past the keeper.
City keeper Joe Hart was rarely tested throughout the match and the blues barely got out of second gear, such was the limited threat from the home side. Newcastle had a chance late on, but Hart as equal to it to deflect the shot wide.
City then sealed the points in the final minute when Sergio Aguero’s shot was saved by the keeper, but the rebound fell kindly for the Argentine, who fired home to make the game safe.
City 1-1 QPR – 1992
The inaugural Premier League season kicked off with Sky offering matches on a Monday night, and the first to feature was a Maine Road clash between City and Queens Park Rangers. The blues had finished fifth in the old Football League Division One and expectations were high from Peter Reid’s men.
There were plenty of talking point on the first weekend of Premier League football, with Paul Lake making his long-awaited comeback from injury while Rick Holden had made the move from Oldham in exchange for the popular Mark Brennan, a decision that didn’t go down to well on the Kippax.
Unfortunately, the match didn’t live up to Sky’s expectations, although there was a controversial moment in the first half when Tony Coton forgot the new rule on picking up back passes, however the referee and his assistants must have forgotten about the rule too and failed to give an indirect free kick.
David White then gave City the lead in the 37th minute and they were on their way to an opening weekend win, but QPR had other ideas.
Andy Sinton levelled with a vicious shot from the edge of the area and that was the end of the scoring. The most exciting thing to happen for the rest of the evening was Sky setting off fireworks at the end of the match to celebrate their first ever Monday night match.