Premier League Review – Matchday 25
Saturday 1st February, 2020
Leicester 2 Chelsea 2
Whilst defeat for Chelsea would have been even better, this was one of the results this weekend which helped Spurs’ cause, with the Man Utd-Wolves draw being the other. Frank Lampard made the surprise decision to drop goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga, putting his faith in Caballero.
Rudiger gave Chelsea the lead within a minute of the start of the second half, scoring with a clean header following a corner. Harvey Barnes levelled the scores seven minutes later. His shot was hit with his right foot and took a deflection which together with the bright sunlight might have deceived Caballero. Chilwell made it 2-1 in the 64th minute with a shot from the back of the area after Tielemans’ low cross from the right-hand-side of the box. Caballero had chased the ball to the left of his goal and was still trying to recover his position when Chilwell hit his right foot shot inside the keeper’s right post.
Rudiger scored again in the 71st minute. This time, he was further out when he met Mason Mount’s free kick with a 15-yard header. Barnes really should have scored when Vardy raced away down the right and provided a very good pass into the danger zone, which beat the defence. Barnes curled his kick just wide of Caballero’s right post.
Bournemouth 2 Aston Villa 1
Bournemouth have won their last two league games, against fellow strugglers Brighton and now Villa. These wins could prove vital by the end of the season, but the “Cherries” are still very much at risk. Villa beat Leicester this week to reach the Carabao Cup Final, but they might have preferred a win here. The “Villans” included their new striker signing Mbwana Samatta.
Jefferson Lerma got the first of two yellow cards after 18 minutes for a foul on Grealish. Those were the 82nd and 83rd yellow cards of his 8-year career and the red would be his fourth red, but his first in England. Gosling missed a good chance for Bournemouth whilst Grealish swung in a ball intended for Samatta which just brushed the outside of the far post. Billing gave Bournemouth a 37th minute lead with his first goal for the club. It followed a free kick from Rico which was returned to the area by Francis before Billing swopped on Gosling’s headed ball, scoring low to the right of Reina. It was 2-0 before the break following a free kick conceded by Douglas Luiz for a foul on Lerma. The free kick was blocked but when Fraser returned the ball and Reina could not hold it, Ake took advantage and fired the ball into the net. Grealish had a low cross/shot somehow pass across the goal hitting goalkeeper Ramsdale between his legs without the keeper knowing too much about it.
Lerma hit the top of the bar with a 22-yard shot before he saw his second yellow for another challenge upon Grealish. Grealish was getting booed by the home crowd with every touch now, but he was involved in the build-up for Villa’s goal, passing to substitute Keinan Davis, whose shot looped up enabling Samatta to score his first goal, and in fact Villa’s first headed goal in the league all season!
Crystal Palace 0 Sheffield United 1
Sheffield United went fifth overnight with this win. Chris Wilding gave new record signing Sander Berge his midfield debut. Wing-back Baldock was fortunate to get only one and not two yellow cards for first half challenges, both of which warranted sanction. Benteke, who hasn’t scored for his club yet this season, and only twice in the last two years, failed to reach an excellent chance as the ball crossed the 6-yard zone. He failed again in the second half, hitting a weak shot at Henderson after Zaha’s pass.
Sheffield United’s goal was of a freakish nature. It came from a corner swung in by Norwood from the left side. Palace goalkeeper Vicente Guaita caught the ball but then dropped it way over the line into his own net. Goal-line technology was hardly needed. Baldock won a free kick 22 yards out. This was taken by Norwood and well saved by the keeper. At the other end James McArthur had Palace’s best effort with a shot that was punched away by Henderson. Palace’s Joel Ward was shown a red card by referee Andy Madley, who, after reviewing the incident on a monitor, reduced the sanction to a yellow for a challenge upon Enda Stevens. Stevens subsequently made a good run and took a wall pass from Mousset before forcing Guaita to make another save.
Liverpool 4 Southampton 0
Liverpool have a massive 22-point lead after this weekend’s round of games. They’ve won 100 out of the last 102 Premier League points available to them. The Premier League title race is likely to be formally done and dusted in March.
The game was not without controversy though. Firstly, Liverpool got away with a back pass by Robertson which was picked up by Alisson. The pass, from within the 6-yard-box, was deemed “accidental”. Salah hit a shot wide after clearly handling the ball inside the area. Djenepo had a 25-yard shot flapped away by the Liverpool keeper. Van Dijk was put in by Salah and had a fancy back-heel effort saved by the goalkeeper, before Firmino went down almost on the goal-line under Shane Long’s challenge. Referee Kevin Fried and VAR said, “No penalty”. Ings had a shot blocked by his own player – Long, and Long himself then had a shot cleanly held by Alisson. The score remained goalless at half-time.
Southampton, on the break, were denied a penalty when Danny Ings was sandwiched in the box with Fabinho the main suspect. Liverpool broke out of defence and opened the scoring in the 47th minute through a low Oxlade-Chamberlain shot which left goalkeeper McCarthy stranded. Henderson crashed the ball into the roof of the net on the hour, having received the ball from Firmino on his left. Salah dinked the third goal into the net in the 72nd minute, after receiving a good ball from Henderson from a position deep on the right. Salah had another goal in the last minute. He had hit a pass forward to substitute Minamino who returned the ball into the middle of the area by which time Salah had advanced and scored from close range. It was Southampton’s biggest defeat since that horrible 9-0 at home to Leicester back in October.
Newcastle 0 Norwich 0
Spurs loanee Danny Rose was on the bench for “The Toon”, who did include another former Spurs full-back DeAndre Yedlin in their starting line-up. Rose did get on for the last 10 minutes. Yet another ex-Spur, Nabil Bentaleb, has been signed by Steve Bruce on loan from Schalke and he also started. Bentaleb’s last Spurs appearance was as a substitute in a 3-0 home win against Fiorentina in February 2016. Danny Rose was on the Spurs bench that day too.
Dubravka made a great reaction save from a bullet header by Sam Byram after an early Norwich corner, and he also got a touch to a long shot by Pukki. Acrobatics were required at the other end when Tim Krul (once of Newcastle, of course) flew to his left to save Joelinton’s header. Almiron followed-up but headed wide.
Pukki missed a good chance in the second half with time and space to pick his spot, and when he took a pass from Duda, Dubravka parried the Finn’s shot before the Newcastle defence cleared in front of their goal-line. The biggest threats to Norwich’s goal had been a Hanley touch which was going just wide, but worried Krul, and a shot by Saint-Maximin which passed wide in front of the keeper’s left post.
Watford 2 Everton 3
Watford fans must have thought their team’s winning ways were back. They had a two-goal lead near the end of half-time, but Everton’s Yerry Mina scored two goals to make the scores level at the break. Things got worse after the break when Carlo Ancelotti’s men scored a late winner.
The first goal was scored after 10 minutes. Deulofeu skilfully brought under control a long cross-field pass before setting up the advancing Masina who scored across Pickford from the left of the area. It was Masina’s first Premier League goal. The second goal came three minutes before the break when Deeney took advantage of a loose pass and passed to Pereyra, who made no mistake with his shot. Everton’s first goal came after a corner with Mina chesting the ball down at first and then scrambling the ball home at very short range, after a couple of touches by other players. That was in the first minute of added time. Everton had another corner three minutes later. It was taken by Sigurdsson and this time headed cleanly, if not particularly strongly into the net at the back post by that man Mina.
Fabian Delph was sent off in the second half for two bookable offences, but 10-man Everton won the game in the last minute. They broke forward with three men in line – Richarlison, Keane and Walcott. Keane failed with his effort, but the ball ran to Walcott who did not fail. Walcott thus put his current team ahead of his old team in the Premier League table.
West Ham 3 Brighton 3
With twenty minutes of this game left, Paul Merson, commentating for Sky Soccer Saturday, said the game was all over with West Ham 3-1 up. Brighton got two goals and they looked the more likely winners. West Ham dropped into the bottom three. Their next two games are away to Manchester City and Liverpool. I don’t see them climbing out of the relegation zone for a while!
West Ham included their new loan signing – midfielder Tomas Soucek from Slavia Prague. Glenn Murray made his first League start for Brighton since September. Murray had yet to score in the Premier League this season. Mooy had an early header go wide for the visitors. West Ham were awarded a free kick for a foul on Soucek, who got on the end of Noble’s free kick, forcing Ryan into a good save. From another free kick, taken deep on the left by Snodgrass, Diop turned the ball into the net after half an hour. Snodgrass made it 2-0 himself as half-time approached. He had passed forward to Ryan Fredericks and when it was returned Snodgrass beat the keeper with a slightly deflected shot.
Within two minutes of the re-start Brighton had a goal back. It was a gift and followed a corner which Fabianski attempted to clear, only to see the ball rebound into his own net off the unfortunate Ogbonna. West Ham thought they could breathe easily again when Snodgrass scored another goal after 57 minutes. This goal also followed a corner, cleared as far as the West Ham midfielder who hooked a powerful left-foot shot from 25 yards. This also took a deflection. Pascal Gross got Brighton’s second goal fifteen minutes from time. The goal followed a defensive mix-up when an attempted clearance by Masuaku rebounded into the West Ham area where Ogbonna and Diop were uncertain. Gross took advantage and just got a touch to the ball which beat Fabianksi and rolled slowly over the line.
Murray’s first Premier League goal of the season followed a cross from the right by Propper. Murray controlled the ball and fired it into the net, but referee Michael Oliver disallowed the goal for handball. VAR decided that Murray had not controlled the ball with his arm as the referee had thought, so the goal stood. (79 mins) Brighton looked the more likely winners and Fabianksi made a brilliant diving save from March’s free kick in the last minute of the game.
Manchester United 0 Wolves 0
This was a better result for Spurs and the other teams around United and Wolves in the race for top four, or at least European qualification. The game was not without its chances, but the teams generally cancelled each other out. This was after all the third meeting of 2020, as the sides met in the FA Cup third round. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer gave Bruno Fernandes his debut, and he had a bright start in a “number 10” slot, featuring some good passing and at least three decent shots on goal. Wolves signing Daniel Podence, who played for Olympiacos against Spurs (and scored in Piraeus) was on the bench. Podence is another Portuguese recruit for Bruno Espirito Santo.
Fernandes had two shots in the first half of note. One that curled away from the post. The other was held by Rui Patricio. Both shots were from 20 yards. Traore had a first half shot off target, and Jota had a good run all the way to the United area early in the second half but ran into two United defenders. Mata hit a shot just the wrong side of the left post after Wan-Bissaka’s short pass, and Fernandes had a 25-yard shot that won a corner as the goalkeeper failed to hold properly.
Traore raced out of defence with the ball and ultimately sent Jimenez away down the right channel. Jimenez hit a rising shot on target which was well saved by De Gea. United sub Greenwood had a shot which took a deflection and tested the Wolves goalkeeper to the full. Many United fans had left when Wan-Bissaka crossed deep into added time and Dalot somehow headed wide.
Sunday 2nd February, 2020
Burnley 0 Arsenal 0
I am of course very pleased to report that following our great result against Manchester City Arsenal are six points behind us. Their goal difference is 10 goals worse too. In fact, the gooners are level on points with Burnley who have been disappointing for so much of the season, although they did recently beat Manchester United at Old Trafford. There was no place in the Arsenal side for their new loan signing from Brazil – Pablo Mari. David Luiz and Aubameyang returned after their suspensions.
Both Lacazette and Aubameyang were off target with first half efforts. Leno was required to push around the corner a shot by Jay Rodriguez. Burnley had the best of the chances for the rest of the game, but nothing was hitting the target. Aubameyang put a header wide in the second half and the closest we came to a goal was when a Rodriguez shot bounced down off the underside of the bar but somehow did not cross the line.
Spurs 2 Manchester City 0
Hugo Lloris's penalty save was obviously deemed even more impressive than Steven Bergwijn's super debut goal in the eyes of Spurs Odyssey voters. Tanguy Ndombele was the last Spurs player to score on his Premier League debut (at home to Villa). The previous occasion had been Eric Dier at West Ham in August 2014. Ryan Sessegnon scored in his first Spurs start in the Champions League in Munich, but he had made previous substitute appearances. Another of our 2019-20 recruits - Giovani Lo Celso - is really making his mark now. Gio has had two recent man of the match votes, and scored highly in this game too.
The team performance was considered our best since the 5-0 trouncing of Burnley in December, but the highest score for teeam performance so far this season was under Mauricio Pochettino when we beat Palace 4-0 at home with that blistering first half.
Referee Mike Dean (in his 501st Premier League game) scored his highest mark of the season (4.8), but all referees are suffering in our grading system with the advent of VAR which makes football headlines every week. Mr Dean's last decent mark with Spurs was in November 2018 when we beat Wolves away.
Comment of the week from the post-match survey:- "Most excited I have been watching a Spurs match since CL SF in Amsterdam."
Fixtures & Results 01-02.02.20
Leicester 2-2 Chelsea
B'mouth 2-1 A. Villa
C. Palace 0-1 Sheff Utd
Liverpool 4-0 S'hampton
Newcastle 0-0 Norwich
Watford 2-3 Everton
West Ham 3-3 Brighton
Man Utd 0-0 Wolves
Burnley 0-0 Arsenal
Spurs 2-0 Man City
Premier League Table
P W D L F-A GD Pts
1. Liverpool 25 24 1 0 60-15 45 73
2. Man City 25 16 3 6 65-29 36 51
3. Leicester 25 15 4 6 54-26 28 49
4. Chelsea 25 12 5 8 43-34 9 41
5. Spurs 25 10 7 8 40-32 8 37
6. Sheff Utd 25 9 9 7 26-23 3 36
7. Man Utd 25 9 8 8 36-29 7 35
8. Wolves 25 8 11 6 35-32 3 35
9. Everton 25 9 6 10 31-37 -6 33
10. Arsenal 25 6 13 6 32-34 -2 31
11. Burnley 25 9 4 12 28-38 -10 31
12. Newcastle 25 8 7 10 24-36 -12 31
13. S'hampton 25 9 4 12 31-46 -15 31
14. C. Palace 25 7 9 9 22-29 -7 30
15. Brighton 25 6 8 11 30-37 -7 26
16. B'mouth 25 7 5 13 25-38 -13 26
17. A. Villa 25 7 4 14 32-47 -15 25
18. West Ham 25 6 6 13 30-43 -13 24
19. Watford 25 5 8 12 23-39 -16 23
20. Norwich 25 4 6 15 24-47 -23 18