Having been on lockdown with much of the rest of the world, the Premier League finally completed Project Restart on Wednesday with the division’s first two fixtures in 100 days.
With no fans in attendance, artificial stadium noise, players competing after just three weeks of preparation and social distancing still being observed, it wasn’t exactly football as we remember it.
Indeed, the first match, Aston Villa‘s 0-0 draw with Sheffield United, was the first English top-flight game to be played in June for 73 years. Weirdly, Sheffield United were involved on that occasion, too, beating Stoke City 2-1 on June 14, 1947.
The day’s main event, Manchester City‘s 3-0 win over Arsenal, had much more of an air of familiarity about it, as Pep Guardiola’s side cruised to their seventh straight victory over the hapless visitors.
Here’s what we learned from the long-awaited return of the Premier League.
We’ve reached peak David Luiz
David Luiz in the Premier League this season:
🛑 Received the most red cards.
💥 Given away the most penalties.
⚽️ No player has made more errors leading to a goal. pic.twitter.com/I8iOrQnDB1
— ESPN FC (@ESPNFC) June 17, 2020
Due to the stalemate at Villa Park, we headed into the second game of the restart still awaiting the first post-lockdown goal. The odds of its arrival increased in the 24th minute at the Etihad Stadium when an injury to defender Pablo Mari meant that David Luiz had to be called from the Arsenal bench.
Sure enough, it wasn’t long before the Brazil centre-back (whose contract is due to expire in two weeks) was up to his old tricks, awkwardly miscontrolling a through-ball and allowing Raheem Sterling in to score shortly before half-time.
2011 – The last time that a player was sent off, conceded a penalty & committed an error leading to an opposition goal in the same game after coming on as a substitute within the top 5 Euro leagues, was in March 2011 by Iván Córdoba for Internazionale vs Brescia in Serie A. Rare. https://t.co/BjoVD5mFHj
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) June 17, 2020
Things swiftly went from bad to worse for Luiz minutes after the break when he conceded a penalty and was shown a straight red card for a foul on Riyad Mahrez. As he trudged off the field, football’s top stats-crunchers had to go back several years to find precedents for his performance.
Things were so bad that former Arsenal defender Bacary Sagna even offered to come back to aid the cause.
Well… i believe i can still play humm 🤣🤣🤦🏿
— Bacary Sagna (@Sagnaofficial) June 17, 2020
Given that the Gunners also failed to register a single shot on target during a league match for the first time in three years, they might want to give Thierry Henry a call too.
It’s fair to say that it was the most David Luiz thing to have happened since that time David Luiz Cam captured David Luiz watching David Luiz on David…