Premier League Review - Matchday 26
Everton 0 Manchester City 2
This game was played before the scheduled Matchday 26 games, and was actually brought forward from the Carabao Cup weekend, when City will be engaged against Chelsea at Wembley.
Marco Silva left Coleman, Sigurdsson and Richarlison on the bench, playing Kenny at right back, and Digne at left back. Guardiola also rang some changes with Fernandinho back in his usual midfield position. City survived an early scare when Calvert-Lewin raced away, but Bernard had committed a foul in the middle. Sane fired wide from a corner taken by Gundogan.
Fernandinho pushed a ball out to Sane on the left and he fed David Silva, who crossed short with both Gundogan and Aguero threatening. It was Gundogan's shot which bounced out off the crossbar.
Tom Davies and Walcott combined on the right and Bernard met Walcott's cross, winning a corner. There was pressure from City when they appealed for a penalty (failed) when Gomes pushed David Silva, then had a close range shot by David Silva saved well by Pickford. Silva was offside anyway. City took the lead in first half added time from a free kick swung in by David Silva and headed home by Laporte.
Aguero had a second half shot go just outside the post after Pickford had cleared under City pressure. Sane, who had taken a heavy first half knock, was replaced by Sterling, whilst Sigurdsson replaced Gomes. There was half an hour left to play. It wasn't long before Sterling had a couple of efforts. One was blocked; the other went just over the bar.
City ended up trying to run down the clock, and survived a scare when Kyle Walker gave the ball away, when his goalkeeper got to the ball before Tosun. Then City scored in the seventh minute of added time through two substitutes. De Bruyne chipped a pass to Jesus, whose first attempt was saved by Pickford, but the striker followed up with a header into the net.
City had scored at the very end of each half, and took over at the top of the league on goal difference.
Fulham 0 Manchester United 3
It’s 10 wins in an unbeaten 11 games now for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, and United have moved into the top four. Fulham’s form is diametrically opposite, with just one win in their last seven games, and they are now 8 points adrift of safety.
Vietto did have an early chance for Fulham at the back post, receiving Schurrle’s cross from the right, but pulling the shot wide. Le Marchand had a mare of a game at the back for Fulham, and lost possession as he stepped forward in the fourteenth minute. Herrera fed Martial on the left, who pushed the ball onto Pogba. Pogba has now scored 8 goals since Solskjaer’s arrival and this was the seventh of those, as he hit a rising shot into the net from the left of the area. Martial made it 2-0 after 23 minutes after Le Marchand almost waved his fellow countryman through. One has 18 caps (Martial). The other has zero. Le Marchand was signed from Nice last summer.
The next piece of woe for Le Marchand was when he conceded a penalty running into the back of Mata. Pogba scored that eighth goal under Solskjaer from the spot (65 minutes). Even substitute Sanchez nearly scored when the hapless French defender gifted him the ball, but Sergio Rico rescued Fulham on this occasion. At the other end Babel hit the post from close range at a tight angle, which would have been a consolation goal for Fulham
Crystal Palace 1 West Ham 1
Zaha was able to play this game as Palace have appealed his suspension after last week’s sending-off at Southampton. Palace had reason to be thankful for his presence too. Pellegrini started with an unchanged line-up from that which drew against Liverpool, which left Arnautovic on the bench.
West Ham took the lead with a Mark Noble penalty in the 27th minute after goalkeeper Guaita bundled Antonio over following a free kick. That was the “Hammers”’ first away goal of this year in the league. Benteke had a chance to equalise in the first half, but Fabianski saved, and in the second half James McArthur had the goal at his mercy, but somehow hit the side netting from close range.
Palace had other chances with Kelly heading over and Batshuayi hitting a shot wide. Zaha finally got the equaliser in the 76th minute with a deflected shot from a sharp angle on the left. That was a left foot shot. A subsequent right foot shot was well saved by Fabianski low to his left.
Huddersfield 1 Arsenal 2
Arsenal managed their first away league win since November, but it came against the forlorn bottom side. The visitors took the lead after 16 minutes when Mkhitaryan crossed from the left and Iwobi’s shot bounced in front of, and then across, Ben Hamer, playing in goal in place of Lossl. Huddersfield were denied a penalty when Puncheon’s shot hit Koscielny in the midriff with the defender putting his arms down as a protective measure! It was 2-0 before the break when Lacazette could not fail to score from Maitland-Niles’ cross.
Huddersfield had their moments and DePoitre fired just wide across Leno’s goal when receiving a good ball from Tommy Smith. The “Terriers” did get a deserved goal in added time. Mooy passed forward to Diakhaby, whose shot was half saved by Leno before Kolasinac put the ball into his own net in front of goal. It was Huddersfield’s first goal since 2nd January, and this one did not even go down to one of their own players! They have drawn one and lost thirteen of their last 14 games including an FA Cup 3rd Round defeat.
Liverpool 3 Bournemouth 0
Bournemouth’s horrible away form continues, and this was their eighth consecutive away defeat in the Premier League. They had to do without Liverpool loanee Nathan Clyne for this fixture. The “Cherries” did have one former “Red” playing though – Jordan Ibe, who teed up Ryan Fraser for an early shot which was saved by Alisson. Mane opened the scoring for Liverpool after 24 minutes when he headed in Milner’s cross. Mane had scored in four consecutive Premier League games for the first time. Ten minutes later it was 2-0 when Wijnaldum seized Robertson’s excellent pass and scored with a neat lob over the keeper from inside the left of the box.
Only two and a half minutes into the second half it was 3-0 when Firmino back-heeled the ball into the path of Salah, who scored to the right of Boruc, who had saved well from the Egyptian just before the break. Mane should have scored a second goal when he headed Wijnaldum’s short cross from the right, but the header went wide back across the Bournemouth goal. Salah subsequently hit the bar after another move featuring Firmino.
Bournemouth substitute Mousset brought a good save from Alisson, diving to his left, but the “Cherries” had been completely overwhelmed. The win put Liverpool back on top of the league until Manchester City’s win over Chelsea the next day.
Southampton 1 Cardiff 2
There was high drama indeed in the added time at the end of this game! First though, there was solemnity as all present remembered Emiliano Sala, whose body was recovered this week following the plane crash over the channel. That solemnity was stained by taunts by a couple of Southampton fans during the game itself. The tragic loss of a player who never arrived does seem to have inspired the Cardiff team, who have now won two successive games for the first time this season.
Bamba gave Cardiff the lead after 69 minutes when Paterson headed down a corner and the Cardiff centre-back prodded the ball home. Bamba was booked for his zealous celebration as he jumped over a barrier and into the Cardiff fans.
Valery made a great run for the “Saints”, and his shot was saved, with Austin’s follow-up blocked. Elyounoussi then had a shot blocked. Southampton wanted a penalty for handball, but only got a corner. Southampton thought they had at least rescued a point when Stephens scored from close range following a corner flicked on by Austin.
Hero Stephens became the villain at the other end when he gave the ball away leading to a series of Cardiff passes and a goal by Zohore in the third minute of added time. Cardiff are out of the bottom three, whilst Southampton have fallen back into the relegation zone. Cardiff have also beaten Southampton at home and awaythis season.
Watford 1 Everton 0
This was Marco Silva’s first return to Vicarage Road since his departure over a year ago, and the Watford fans let the opposition manager know what they thought!
Pickford made a great close range save from Capoue after Deeney’s head-down early in the game. Gylfi Sigurdsson hit a looping shot which rebounded out off the top of the Watford bar in the second half. Andre Gray scored the only goal of the game after 65 minutes from close range following a cross by Hughes. The goal followed some Watford pressure on the Everton goal after a free kick and a corner which Pickford disputed.
Digne hit a free kick which went out off the top of the bar after Walcott had been fouled out on the right. Calvert-Lewin headed wide after 88 minutes after Walcott’s pass inside to Zouma who made the final pass. Tosun also headed over in added time, but he was offside anyway. Zouma was sent off at the very end for two yellow cards. Watford moved four points above Everton.
Brighton 1 Burnley 3
Burnley are on an upward path whilst Brighton are experiencing the reverse scenario, with both teams on 27 points after this game. Tom Heaton’s return in goal has coincided with Burnley’s improvement in results, and he pushed over a shot by March early in this tea-time game. Heaton then made a fantastic diving save to his right to deny Pascal Gross. At the other end McNeil’s shot was turned onto the bar by Duffy before Ashley Barnes’ follow-up header went off the top of the bar.
Heaton saved again from March after Locadia’s pass from the left. Burnley took the lead after 26 minutes with a shot by Chris Wood who had received a pass hooked from the left by Barnes. Dunk had slipped enabling Woods to get away and score. Heaton denied Gross yet again after another Locadia cross from the left. Gross’s shot across goal was somehow pushed away by Heaton on the stretch.
There were gaps in the Brighton defence and Burnley went 2-0 up in the 61st minute with Wood firing home after McNeil’s pass. Matty Ryan got a touch with his left hand, but it was not enough to prevent the right foot shot hitting the net.
Brighton escaped a penalty at one end, when Hendrick appeared to handle the ball, then Barnes raced away from near the half-way line, beating the offside flag and was adjudged to have been brought down by Ryan inside the Brighton box. Barnes scored from the spot (74 minutes). Brighton were understandably sorely upset on several counts. Brighton got a goal back after 76 minutes through Shane Duffy’s header following a free kick deep on the right.
Spurs 3 Leicester 1
Referee Michael Oliver's performance was his worst ever in the eyes of Spurs Odyssey voters and attracted more comments than I can recall ever being offered before. I can publish this one:-
"This was one of the worst games I have seen by Oliver. There was not a Spurs free kick until the 52nd minute. Penalty missed completely when Sonny was fouled by Maguire. Another one (not as clear) against Rose (I think it was) in the 2nd half. I like Oliver but NOT on his performance today.!
Hugo Lloris was your man of the match and you can see the spursometer here.
Manchester City 6 Chelsea 0
“Champions of Europe, you’ll never sing that!” sang the Chelsea supporters, who were immediately silenced by Raheem Sterling’s first goal of a magnificent six scored by City to condemn Chelsea to their worst day since a 7-0 defeat to Nottingham Forest in 1991. It was also the first time since 1990 that they have conceded four goals in two consecutive away games. It was a “Sarri” day indeed, and already there have been plenty of words written about how long the Italian coach will last at Stamford Bridge.
Sergio Aguero missed a sitter but scored his eleventh Premier League hat-trick to draw level with Alan Shearer. The first of Aguero’s goals was a real cracker! Sterling’s first came in the fourth minute, following De Bruyne’s free kick and Bernardo Silva’s half-cleared cross. Sterling rattled the net with a rasping shot. Aguero’s miss came at the back post when Bernardo Silva crossed low from the left.
Aguero’s first goal came in the 13th minute when he received from Zinchenko at close quarters then hit a cracking right foot shot from a full 22 yards out. It was surely one of the best of his 160 Premier League goals. Six minutes later Aguero had two and City had three as poacher Aguero collected Barkley’s back-header and gladly accepted the gift of a goal.
It was 4-0 with only 25 minutes gone as Gundogan scored with a low shot to the left of Kepa, again from just outside the area. Ederson did actually have a save to make from Pedro and saved it well. He also faced a 20-yard shot by Higuain and pushed that over his bar for a corner.
In the second half Aguero hit a header against the bar from De Bruyne’s cross. Referee Mike Dean dramatically pointed to the spot when Sterling was impeded by Azpilicueta and Aguero’s hat-trick was coolly completed after 56 minutes from the spot.
The rout was completed in the 80th minute when Sterling met Zinchenko’s pass with his left foot. City’s three subs had been Jesus, Mahrez and Silva. How Chelsea must be relishing the Carabao Cup Final in two weeks’ time!
Sarri ignored or perhaps just did not see Guardiola’s proffered hand at the end of the game. City regained top place, but only on goal difference, and having played that extra game against Everton in midweek.
Wolves 1 Newcastle 1
Wolves were looking for a win to cement their seventh place, whilst Newcastle were desperate to draw themselves away from the bottom three. Newcastle’s record signing Almiron started on the bench. Rafa Benítez’s side looked more adventurous than of late in the early stages, with Rondon having an on target shot held by the goalkeeper.
Newcastle midfielder Christian Atsu did well to get a foot to the ball first when tackling Jimenez inside the Newcastle area after 16 minutes, and referee Graham Scott had made a good decision to deny any penalty appeals.
The game was really quite open, and Wolves were playing plenty of attractive football, without testing Dubravka in goal. Fabian Schar had a pop at goal from 25 yards out after half an hour but hit it wide of the post. Jimenez picked up an excellent long ball towards the left of the area and tested Dubravka after 34 minutes, but the keeper saved, and the ball went safe. At the other end Hayden crossed and Rondon headed the ball goalward, but Rui Patricio picked the ball up.
Wolves had a corner after 40 minutes and put the Newcastle area under a little pressure with Jonny hitting a low driven shot straight at Dubravka. Rondon had an excellent chance just before the break, after a clever pass by Perez. Coady got a vital touch on Rondon’s shot to concede a corner.
Early in the second half some clever interplay by Dendoncker and Doherty gave Jimenez a chance which resulted in a corner. From that corner, Jota headed on Moutinho’s kick, but Doherty was unable to get his shot on target from close range at the back post.
Newcastle took the lead after 55 minutes with a surprise goal. Schar came forward again and fed the ball to Hayden who ran into the area on the right and hit a shot which Rui Patricio should have stopped. Wolves almost hit back twice though Jota’s shot and Dendoncker’s header.
Almiron came on for Newcastle, replacing Atsu after 72 minutes, and looked fast and bright. Wolves had a good chance to equalise through Jimenez after substitute Traore’s first touch returned a cross from the left, but Jimenez headed wide. Four minutes of added time were indicated, but 45 seconds of a fifth minute had gone when Traore crossed from the right, and goalkeeper Dubravka failed to collect with Boly heading home at the back post for a late, late equaliser.
Everton 0-2 Man City
Fulham 0-3 Man Utd
C. Palace 1-1 West Ham
Hds'field 1-2 Arsenal
Liverpool 3-0 B'mouth
S'hampton 1-2 Cardiff
Watford 1-0 Everton
Brighton 1-3 Burnley
Spurs 3-1 Leicester
Man City 6-0 Chelsea
Wolves 1-1 Newcastle
Premier League Table
P W D L F-A GD Pts
1. Man City 27 21 2 4 74-20 54 65
2. Liverpool 26 20 5 1 59-15 44 65
3. Spurs 26 20 0 6 54-25 29 60
4. Man Utd 26 15 6 5 52-35 17 51
5. Arsenal 26 15 5 6 53-37 16 50
6. Chelsea 26 15 5 6 45-29 16 50
7. Wolves 26 11 6 9 34-33 1 39
8. Watford 26 10 7 9 34-34 0 37
9. Everton 27 9 6 12 36-39 -3 33
10. West Ham 26 9 6 11 32-39 -7 33
11. B'mouth 26 10 3 13 37-47 -10 33
12. Leicester 26 9 5 12 31-34 -3 32
13. C. Palace 26 7 6 13 27-34 -7 27
14. Brighton 26 7 6 13 28-39 -11 27
15. Burnley 26 7 6 13 29-47 -18 27
16. Newcastle 26 6 7 13 22-34 -12 25
17. Cardiff 26 7 4 15 24-47 -23 25
18. S'hampton 26 5 9 12 28-44 -16 24
19. Fulham 26 4 5 17 25-58 -33 17
20. H'dsfield 26 2 5 19 14-48 -34 11