A limited number of fans are allowed to watch games in France, Italy and Germany, but matches in England and Spain continue to be played without supporters in attendance.

The English Premier League has been particularly volatile this season and continued to offer up surprises by the bucket load.

There were 27 goals across the eight fixtures already played this weekend with a further two games to be played Monday.

Sunday’s dramatic 3-3 draw between Tottenham Hotspur and West Ham typified just how unpredictable the start of the new season has been.

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Manuel Lanzini (R) celebrates scoring a last gasp equalizer for West Ham.

Goals galore

Jose Mourinho’s side were 3-0 ahead inside 16 minutes, thanks in part to a Harry Kane masterclass — Tottenham striker scored twice and set up the opener for Son Heung-Min — but West Ham staged a remarkable comeback in the final 10 minutes of the match to draw level.

Manuel Lanzini’s stunning effort late into stoppage time, which tied the scores at 3-3, sent the visitors into frenzied celebrations.

“Since we came back from lockdown we’ve been a completely different team. We keep scoring goals, but need to get back to clean sheets,” said West Ham manager David Moyes after the game.

Whether it’s a lack of fans in the stadium, a truncated pre-season, or playing during a global pandemic it seems teams are scoring for fun and have simultaneously forgotten how to defend.

The most Premier League goals scored in a 38-game campaign is 1072 during the 2018/19 season. After five match days — with another 33 to go — 164 goals have been scored.

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The free-scoring nature of the games has also led to surprise leaders at the top of Europe’s top divisions.

Everton, which last won the first division title in 1987, still leads the Premier League but Aston Villa, which only narrowly avoided relegation last season, remains the only team to win all of its games so far.

Villa sits second in the table after Ross Barkley’s late strike earned his team all three points against Leicester City on Sunday in a 1-0 win.,

In France, Lille is the only team to remain unbeaten in the league and leads heavy favorites Paris Saint-Germain at the summit of Ligue 1.

“Football is a game based on threat, fear, and that has disappeared with no fans in the stadium,” sports psychologist Michael Caulfield told BBC Sport, when trying to explain the madness of the new season.

“Elite athletes are reacting differently to before the pandemic. Even though the standard of play is very high, there is a genuine mental cognitive fatigue at the highest level despite the lockdown — that was not a relaxing time.”

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Everton leads the Premier League after its draw with Liverpool.

La Liga

It’s a similar story in Spain, where scalps were on the menu this weekend.

On Saturday, newly promoted Cadiz stunned reigning champion Real Madrid with a 1-0 victory that moves the minnows level at the top of La Liga.

Cadiz hadn’t beaten Madrid in almost 30 years but took the lead after Anthony Lozano’s first-half finish.

Los Blancos went on to dominate possession but struggled to find a way through to goal, recording only two shots on target.

It was a similar story for Real’s fierce rivals Barcelona.

The Catalan club suffered its first league defeat of the season with a 1-0 defeat to Getafe on Saturday, despite dominating the ball for large periods of the match.

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Ronald Koeman’s side had only one shot on target, meaning Jaime Mata’s second-half penalty was enough to take all three points.

Getafe moves level with Cadiz, Real Madrid and Granada at the top of the table.

With the action-packed fixtures showing no signs of abating, soccer looks set to continue providing a much-needed distraction during such unprecedented times.

source: cnn.com

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