Premier League Review – Matchday 27
Cardiff 1 Watford 5
After two consecutive wins Cardiff suffered a devastating home defeat which leaves them fully immersed in the battle to avoid relegation. Foster had made a good save from Niasse before Deulofeu scored the first of three personal goals with a low shot after 18 minutes. Troy Deeney gets the assist, but the build-up to the goal was scrappy. Neil Warnock was justifiably livid when his side were not awarded a penalty after 42 minutes. Niasse had made a good run down the left and passed forward for Murphy who was clattered by Janmaat. Referee Simon Hooper was not interested.
Watford did not increase their lead until an hour had gone. The goal followed a Cardiff free kick swung into the Watford area from which the “Hornets” broke out rapidly with Deulofeu making a run from just inside his own half before racing all the way to the Cardiff area where he delivered his second goal.
Deulofeu had his hat-trick in the 63rd minute. Arter gave the ball away at the half-way line and it was quickly delivered to the Spaniard for his first hat-trick since playing for the Barcelona B team in August 2012. It was Watford’s first top flight hat-trick since 1986, and that had been scored by a certain Mark Falco! (October 18th, 1986 v Aston Villa).
There is no question about the man of the match as Deulofeu finished a period of Watford possession with a run down the left channel before sliding the ball past the beaten Etheridge to allow Troy Deeney to score. (73 mins)
Cardiff did get a goal after a corner when the ball was hooked in after a goalmouth scramble by Bamba, but Deeney made it 5-1 in added time after Hughes passed the ball back to him inside the area. It was also in 1986 when Watford last scored five goals in a top-flight game. (5-1 v Leicester)
West Ham 3 Fulham 1
Fulham are another side (Huddersfield being the other), who look doomed to return to the Championship, after this defeat which leaves them at least 8 points from safety. Babel had a wonderful early chance in front of goal but failed to beat Fabianski when he should have scored. The recent signing did score though after three minutes, when he converted Ryan Sessegnon’s pass from the left.
West Ham equalised after a corner on 29 minutes. Both Antonio and Ogbonna had touches but Hernandez got the ball over the line from very close range. Replays clearly indicate that he had actually hit the ball across the line with his hand. West Ham scored a second goal from a set piece after 40 minutes when Diop headed home Snodgrass’s cross.
The “Hammers” were probably guilty of over-elaborating a build-up before Arnautovic did head the ball goalward after 78 minutes, with Sergio Rico patting the ball away. Arnautovic then hit the woodwork with a shot following Noble’s pass as added time approached, before he provided the cross for a header by Antonio which bounced before it hit the net.
Arnautovic had come off the bench for West Ham, as did Lanzini, making his first appearance of the season, following injury.
Burnley 2 Spurs 1
Harry Kane was your Spurs man of the match but even he only managed a grade of 6.6. You can see the spursometer here. Harry has scored in seven of the last eight games he has played. Fernando Llorente's yellow card was his first this season. The least said about this result, the better. We just have to move on, hopefully with something to cheer at Stamford Bridge and at home to Arsenal.
Mauricio Pochettino has been charged with improper conduct by the FA
Bournemouth 1 Wolves 1
Wolves weren’t happy when the home side were given an early penalty by referee Roger East. Moutinho had collided with King, who slotted the spot kick in the 14th minute. Wolves weren’t happy again when they were not awarded a penalty for what they considered to have been a handball by 21-year-old Chris Mepham, making his first start at the back for injury-stricken Bournemouth. Mepham had been signed from Brentford at the end of the January transfer window.
Rui Patricio saved well from Solanke in the second half, but the Wolves manager was unhappy with his defence for allowing an excellent scoring opportunity for the home side. Another former Liverpool man - Jordon Ibe - hit the bar with a left footed shot. Wolves were awarded a penalty late in the game when Adam Smith brought down Doherty. Jimenez made it 1-1 in the 83rd minute.
There was yet another penalty award by Mr. East when Cavaleiro clipped Fraser on the very edge of the area, and possibly outside the box. King missed this one, clipping the outside of the post. There were 6 minutes of added time, concluded by the Bournemouth sprinklers coming on at full blast before the whistle had been blown!
Newcastle 2 Huddersfield 0
Newcastle were one of three teams (together with Burnley and Palace) to gain precious wins in the quest for Premier League survival. This was surely one of the most predictable results of the day (it certainly was for me!) though against a doomed Huddersfield side now 14 points from safety with 11 games remaining.
Almiron made his home debut and nearly scored after 12 minutes when he raced away and hit the post with his chip over the goalkeeper. Rondon also hit the same post with his follow-up shot. The “Terriers’” cause was not helped when Tom Smith was sent off after only 20 minutes for a studs-up challenge upon Almiron. Almiron had two more first half shots saved by Lossl, although the Huddersfield keeper did let the second go through his legs before retrieving the ball. The Danish keeper also saved from Perez just before the break.
Newcastle had their lead one minute into the second half through Rondon, receiving from Perez inside the area before shooting low into the net. One became two five minutes later, and it was a good move started by Almiron’s cross from the left returned into the box by Yedlin and fed by Rondon to Perez who delivered the scoring shot. Perez had another good chance, but pulled his shot wide of the post, after receiving from Almiron.
Newcastle substitute Kenedy had a powerful shot touched onto the bar by Lossl, and Longstaff hit the outside of the post with a right footed shot from outside the area. Newcastle fans went home happy, but they could have had more goals.
Leicester 1 Crystal Palace 4
Roy Hodgson was able to celebrate becoming the oldest ever Premier League manager in style with a massive away win for Palace at The King Power Stadium. The stadium has of course witnessed great personal tragedy this season, and now the home fans are witnessing a steady decline in the capabilities of their team.
As for Hodgson, when he was appointed to his latest position in September 2017, Palace were in the mire, but by the end of the season they climbed to 11th place, and now once again can surely look ahead to another Premier League season.
Palace took the lead with their first shot on target after 40 minutes. Milivojevic passed to McArthur, whose shot from over 25 yards lacked power but was diverted into Schmeichel’s net by Batshuayi, who was making his first Premier League start for the “Eagles”.
Leicester equalised in the second half after 64 minutes. The goal followed a long throw by Fuchs and a sequence of play in and around the area finished off by Johnny Evans when he turned the ball in striker-style for his first Leicester goal.
Palace got the first of three goals in the last 20 minutes when McArthur crossed from the left of the area and Zaha finished off at the back post. Batshuayi had a shot well saved by Schmeichel, but in the follow-up play Schlupp was brought down by Evans and Milivojevic made no mistake from the spot.
Obviously, Leicester were chasing the game and in added time Harry Maguire lost the ball just outside his half. Ayew raced away with the ball and passed to Zaha on his right, who beat Schmeichel for his second goal of the game. There weren’t many Leicester fans left in the stadium to witness this final piece of action.
On Sunday Leicester announced the sacking of manager Claude Puel. The club has been without a win since New Year’s Day and had lost 6 of their last 7 games in league and cup, slipping into the bottom half of the table.
Arsenal 2 Southampton 0
While all the fuss on Sunday was focused upon Old Trafford and Wembley, Arsenal comfortably despatched struggling Southampton, and won the game with two goals in the first 17 minutes. Firstly, Lacazette turned in Mkhitaryan’s shot after 6 minutes, and then Mkhitaryan himself scored the second after 17 minutes with a low drilled shot.
Arsenal’s win put them back in the top four and makes them our closest pursuers with 53 points, seven points behind. Our next two games at Stamford Bridge and then at home to Arsenal on Saturday will be key to our prospects of retaining third place and a less likely looking tilt at the title.
Manchester United 0 Liverpool 0
Not for the first time, Sky’s “Super Sunday” failed to live up to its title, with all their punditry “big guns” lined up at Old Trafford and Wembley. The Old Trafford game was, on the face of it, a mouth-watering warm up to a potentially goal-filled Carabao Cup Final, but not one goal was scored in open play.
At Old Trafford, Liverpool failed to live up to their form over most of the season, although they have drawn three of their last four league games. They lost Firmino to injury in the first half, but Solskjaer had to use all three of his substitutions in the first 45 minutes as one by one Herrera, Mata and then Mata’s replacement Lingard had to go off. Lingard went off just after he came arguably the closest to scoring when running onto Lukaku’s through ball only to be denied by the hand of goalkeeper Alisson to deny the United man a likely goal.
Liverpool had only one shot on target all game, as the injury stricken United side defended stalwartly. Marcus Rashford could be a doubt for Wednesday’s game at Selhurst Park too, as he hobbled through much of the second half. The atmosphere was better than the game and a lot of that was down to the United fans, not Liverpool who showed disrespect to the pre-match applause in memory of the late United Academy coach Eric Harrison. Just imagine if Liverpool’s opposition chanted their team’s name during one of Anfield's memorial tributes.
P.S – This is a Premier League review, but the League Cup Final between Manchester City and Chelsea was also goalless with City winning 4-3 on penalties. The most interesting event was Kepa Arrizabalaga’s refusal to be substituted just before the end of extra time with penalties looming. The Chelsea keeper had gone down injured twice in the closing stages, and manager Maurizio Sarri was understandably concerned about the looming penalty shoot-out. Sarri was visibly furious because of Kepa’s insubordination, but after the match described the incident as a “misunderstanding”. My guess is that either Arrizabalaga or Sarri will be absent for our game on Wednesday. The manager was seriously undermined, and this was more evidence of player power ruling the roost at Chelsea.
All in all, Sunday was not a bad day for Spurs with tired legs on both sides in the League Cup Final, and City key man Fernandinho also went off with what looked like a groin strain. Liverpool’s point puts them 6 points ahead of us. It could have been worse, but of course had we won at Turf Moor, things would have been so much better.
Cardiff 1-5 Watford
West Ham 3-1 Fulham
Burnley 2-1 Spurs
B'mouth 1-1 Wolves
Newcastle 2-0 Hds'field
Leicester 1-4 C. Palace
Arsenal 2-0 S'hampton
Man Utd 0-0 Liverpool
Premier League Table
P W D L F-A GD Pts
1. Liverpool 27 20 6 1 59-15 44 66
2. Man City 27 21 2 4 74-20 54 65
3. Spurs 27 20 0 7 55-27 28 60
4. Arsenal 27 16 5 6 55-37 18 53
5. Man Utd 27 15 7 5 52-35 17 52
6. Chelsea 26 15 5 6 45-29 16 50
7. Watford 27 11 7 9 39-35 4 40
8. Wolves 27 11 7 9 35-34 1 40
9. West Ham 27 10 6 11 35-40 -5 36
10. B'mouth 27 10 4 13 38-48 -10 34
11. Everton 27 9 6 12 36-39 -3 33
12. Leicester 27 9 5 13 32-38 -6 32
13. C. Palace 27 8 6 13 31-35 -4 30
14. Burnley 27 8 6 13 31-48 -17 30
15. Newcastle 27 7 7 13 24-34 -10 28
16. Brighton 26 7 6 13 28-39 -11 27
17. Cardiff 27 7 4 16 25-52 -27 25
18. S'hampton 27 5 9 13 28-46 -18 24
19. Fulham 27 4 5 18 26-61 -35 17
20. H'dsfield 27 2 5 20 14-50 -36 11