For the first time in more than half a century, England’s top division is without an unbeaten team after six rounds of games.
Everton was the last side to relinquish its undefeated record in this most unpredictable of seasons, though the 2-0 loss at Southampton didn’t knock Carlo Ancelotti’s side off the top of the standings on Sunday.
That’s pretty much all Ancelotti will be able to take from an unconvincing display at St. Mary’s that highlighted the lack of depth in the squad of the unlikely league leaders with some key players missing through suspension and injury.
Lucas Digne, the adventurous left back so vital to Everton’s attacking game, is another player who will be missing for the foreseeable future after getting sent off for landing studs-first on the ankle of Southampton right back Kyle Walker-Peters midway through the second half.
Ancelotti described the red card as a “joke” and also questioned the motives of the referee, Kevin Friend, following the widespread outcry over two high-profile challenges by Everton players — Jordan Pickford and Richarlison — in the Merseyside derby last weekend.
“Maybe all this talk this week against Pickford, against Richarlison, affected the decision,” Ancelotti said, “and if so, it’s not right.”
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Everton was outplayed, though, looking a shadow of the team that had collected 13 points from a possible 15 in its opening five games. Playmaker James Rodriguez was quiet and striker Dominic Calvert-Lewin failed to score in a league game for the first time this season.
Aston Villa was the other unbeaten team coming into this round but was outclassed in a 3-0 defeat by Leeds on Friday. The Premier League prides itself on being a division where any side can beat another, and this season is showcasing that more than ever — at least in the early weeks as the big teams find their feet after a truncated preseason and attempt to balance European commitments in a hectic schedule.
The last time every team in the top flight lost at least one of their first six games was in 1967-68, according to Opta, the Premier League’s official statistics supplier.
There has also been some regression after the unprecedented frenzy of goals in the opening few weeks. In Sunday’s other games, Leicester won 1-0 at Arsenal thanks to substitute Jamie Vardy's header and a dull 1-1 draw between Wolverhampton and Newcastle was only livened up by two goals in the final 10 minutes.