Premier League Review
Saturday 30th March, 2019
Fulham 0 Manchester City 2
Fulham's relegation did not become a certainty after this game, but was more assured at this stage than was Manchester City's successful defence of their title, even though City did regain the lead of the Premier League table with this win.
Fulham had to play without Mitrovic, and Babel was their front man. Fulham put themselves under early pressure following a poor clearance by Sergio Rico, and it wasn't long (5 minutes) before Bernardo Silva scored with a shot from the edge of the area. City maintained the pressure and the Fulham keeper had to push over a shot by De Bruyne which followed a corner.
Aguero made it 2-0 on 27 minutes with a clever lofted finish after Bernardo Silva's pass inside from the right of the Fulham area. Sessegnon did force a save from Ederson with a shot from an angle just before the break, but the result was never in doubt with City going closest to adding to their score when Kyle Walker hit the outside of the post with a powerful shot.
Brighton 0 Southampton 1
Southampton drew level on 33 points with Brighton with this much-needed win and crucially Brighton, Southampton and Burnley were five points clear of Cardiff before their game against Chelsea. Like Spurs, who they last played, "Saints" had enjoyed a three week break from football.
Southampton had the better of the first half and broke the deadlock in the 53rd minute when Redmond put in Hojbjerg towards the left of the area, and the Southampton captain scored with his shot across Matty Ryan. Brighton's Montoya rattled the Southampton crossbar with a shot from the edge of the area, and Duffy went close to connecting to a Brighton free kick lofted into the box, but Southampton held on to win this south coast derby game.
Burnley 2 Wolves 0
Burnley gained a precious win and opened the scoring within 90 seconds as Wood collected a free kick inside the area and it looked as if he scored, but the ball rebounded off the post and then into the Wolves net off the unfortunate Coady.
Wolves fought hard for an equaliser, but lacked the killer touch. Burnley picked up a Wolves clearance near the halfway line. The ball was quickly sent to McNeil who scored across the out of position goalkeeper to seal the points.
Crystal Palace 2 Huddersfield 0
Huddersfield's relegation was confirmed with this defeat and the wins for both Burnley and Southampton. Huddersfield therefore equalled the record of Derby and Ipswich, who had also been relegated from the Premier League with 6 games still to play. Palace started brightly but failed to score from chances falling for Batshuayi and Schlupp, but Guaita in the Palace goal was more stretched to save Lowe's header. Lowe then again went close with a shot across Guaita's goal, which the keeper saved with his fingertips.
Zaha's skill and strength led to a good chance for Van Aanholt, which was held by Huddersfield keeper Ben Hamer. Zaha subsequently presented Townsend with a golden chance to score which was spurned by the former Spurs man. Zaha was caught by Bacuna inside the Huddersfield area and that man Milivojevic finally gave the home side the lead from the penalty spot after 76 minutes.
Another ex-Spur, Alex Pritchard nearly equalised after a run across the edge of the Palace area, but his right footed shot passed outside Guaita's right post. Zaha had just failed to score when he had only the keeper to beat, but it was his pass which led to Van Aanholt's 88th minute goal, which ensured that the "Terriers" fall through the trap door back to the Championship. Huddersfield's two year sojourn in the Premier League had started with a 3-0 away win against Palace in August 2017.
Leicester 2 Bournemouth 0
Bournemouth fell to their 12th away defeat this season and it all started with an eleventh minute goal by Wes Morgan following a Leicester corner. Chilwell met the corner outside the area on the far left and hit a mix-directed shot which Morgan deflected goalward.
Leicester had to wait till the 82nd minute to seal the win which came with a Vardy header from Tielemans' cross.
The East Midlands club remembered their former chairman who would have been 61 this week.
Manchester United 2 Watford 1
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was confirmed this week as the Manchester United manager, but his team did not have an easy job of beating this Watford side. Marcus Rashford opened the scoring after 28 minutes with a well taken goal from 20 yards after an excellent pass by Luke Shaw as United came away from their own area.
Watford had a spell of superiority in the second half, but United increased their lead through Martial's close range finish after a scramble with Foster after 72 minutes. Watford got a deserved goal in the 90th minute after a well worked move following a free kick and a finish by Doucoure.
United moved onto 61 points with this win, but remained behind Spurs on goal difference.
West Ham 0 Everton 2
West Ham's season of mediocrity continued, whilst Everton enjoyed a second consecutive win in the Premier League for the first time since October. Zouma gave the visitors a 5th minute lead with a header from a corner, which bounced once before going high into the net. Fabianski then had to make a double save from Calvert-Lewin and Sigurdsson. Richarlison sent a good ball to Digne on the left who forced another good save from the West Ham keeper with his shot across the goal.
Unsurprisingly in view of their superiority, Everton went two up in the 33rd minute when Coleman got to the bye-line on the right and teed up Bernard for an easy finish in front of goal. It was Bernard's first Premier League goal. Everton's defence was never seriously threatened and the closest The "Toffees" came to adding to their score was when Richarlison hit the crossbar in the second half.
Sunday 31st March, 2019
Cardiff 1 Chelsea 2
This match made headlines because of poor decisions by the officials and the anti-Sarri chanting by Chelsea fans when they thought they were going to lose to relegation threatened Cardiff. Sarri was subject to a lot of criticism because two of his best players were left on the bench. (Hazard and Kante) Hudson-Odoi was still denied a start, despite making his England debut last week.
The officials arguably missed shirt-tugging penalty decisions at either end in the first half. Cardiff sensationally took the lead just 52 seconds into the second half after a Gunnarsson throw, a cross by Arter and a right footed shot by Camarasa. Referee Craig Pawson then ignored a clear pull by Rudiger on the Cardiff captain Morrison which occurred inside the area in front of the official.
Hazard did come off the bench but Chelsea did not score until the 84th minute. It should not have been allowed as Azpilicueta was clearly offside when Alonso headed down a corner to his captain, who scored.
Chelsea keeper Arrizablaga came miles out of his area to try to clear a long Cardiff ball, and Rudiger clearly brought down Zohore and might have been sent off for a "last man" offence, but a yellow card was shown. To say that Neil Warnock was livid is a gross understatement!
Cardiff's final insult was delivered in added time when Loftus-Cheek headed home a cross by Willian. This was a legitimate goal, but the officials had had a mare and Neil Warnock's Cardiff had to suffer true horror.
Despite the misgivings of their fans, Chelsea remain part of the four team mini-league chasing two Champions League places.
Liverpool 2 Spurs 1
There was a degree of apathy about the number of votes cast for this high profile televised game, but Lucas Moura was voted the Spurs man of the match. See this spursometer in full.
Monday 1st April, 2019
Arsenal 2 Newcastle 0
It is distressing to report that Arsenal went ahead of Spurs in the league table for the first time since they beat us in early December. We knew this was likely to happen, and our form in recent games resembles that of a relegation team rather than that of a team aspiring to the Champions League.
Arsenal have won 10 consecutive home league games. They scored through Aaron Ramsey after half an hour. Ramsey had an earlier "goal" disallowed through a foul by Sokratis. The Welsh midfielder leaves for Juventus in the summer.
There were only 10 shots on goal in the whole match, with Newcastle managing just one on target. Arsenal had 71% possession and scored a second goal through Lacazette after 83 minutes.
Tuesday 2nd April, 2019
Watford 4 Fulham 1
Fulham's immediate return to the Championship was confirmed with this defeat. Doucoure opened the scoring for Watford after 23 minutes, receiving the ball from Hughes, before shifting to his left and scoring with a low left footer from just outside the area. Ten minutes later, Fulham were given hope when Babel equalised. He had been put in by Sessegnon, and scored with his right foot at the Rookery End.
Fulham were destroyed by three second half goals in the space of 12 minutes. Firstly Hughes rammed home a 20 yard shot after a Holebas corner on 63 minutes. 6 minutes later Troy Deeney put the result beyond doubt, and Fulham's fate with a shot inside the area after Gray had made a run inside the left of the box and set up his captain.
It was 4-1 after 75 minutes when Gray was again the provider, this time for Fememia, who arrived inside the area on the right for the perfectly placed pass.
Fulham have an inquest to conduct over their wasted summer spending and a disastrous season, whilst Watford contemplate this weekend's FA Cup semi-final against Wolves.
Wolves 2 Manchester United 1
United were aiming to climb above both Spurs and Arsenal. They made a bright start when Lukaku nearly headed in a Dalot cross after four minutes, but hit it straight at the keeper. However, McTominay hit a low driven shot from 20 yards out which skidded across the wet surface into the net right of Rui Patricio in the 13th minute. United soon had more domination in and around the area and should have gone two up.
Wolves equalised after 24 minutes, but United were the architects of the goal after a short pass by De Gea and the loss of the ball by Fred. Wolves' front two combined, with Jimenez threading a pass to Jota who scored. More poor defending by United gave Wolves another chance when Doherty passed inside to Dendoncker, who should have scored, but fired too high.
Both Shaw and Dalot were booked in the first half as Wolves threatened and after the second of the free kicks, Neves hit a shot high De Gea held above his head just in front of his goal line. In first half added time Pogba put a ball through the Wolves defensive wall to Lukaku who fired wide across the goal.
The first real chance of the second half fell for McTominay after 54 minutes. Lukaku crossed from the left and the United midfielder headed straight at Rui Patricio. Ashley Young had been booked in the first half and was shown a second yellow after 56 minutes when he overstretched and scythed down Jota. That made referee Mike Dean's red card century. He has shown 10 this season, but this was the first since January 19th.
Apart from the one match absence of Young, United will also be without Luke Shaw for two games as his yellow had been his tenth of the season.
United had had more chances than the home side, but Wolves took a 77th minute lead when Moutinho crossed from the left, Jimenez reached the ball and with Dendoncker getting goal side of Smalling it was the United defender who got the last touch. De Gea had to make saves from two of his defenders just before and after the 90 minute mark, as Wolves threatened the United goal. Cavaleiro should have made it 2-1 to Wolves but his shot hit the bar.
Wolves maintained their excellent record against top six clubs this season, whilst United failed to overtake Spurs or Arsenal, remaining in fifth place. This was a good result for Spurs.
Wednesday 3rd April, 2019
Chelsea 3 Brighton 0
Chelsea maintained their challenge for a top four place with this comfortable and convincing win over a Brighton side who are not yet safe from relegation. However, they are one of three teams who remain five points clear of Cardiff. Chris Hughton's focus may have been on this weekend's FA Cup semi-final as he made several team changes. Both Loftus-Cheek and Hudson-Odoi started this game, which would have pleased most Chelsea fans.
Hudson-Odoi nearly opened the scoring too but his shot was deflected over the bar by Duffy. Giroud also started this game and he gave Chelsea the lead after 38 minutes when he turned in Hudson-Odoi's low cross at the near post. It was Giroud's first Premier League goal of 2019.
Hazard made it 2-0 on the hour with a well-placed right footed shot from the edge of the area inside Ryan's left post. Three minutes later Loftus-Cheek completed the scoring with another right footed shot from slightly further out than Hazard's goal. This shot was more lofted too and went into the net under the goalkeeper's top left corner.
Manchester City 2 Cardiff 0
City went back to the top of the league with this win, but Liverpool play Southampton on Friday night with the chance to leapfrog them again, as City are on FA Cup duty this weekend.
Pep Guardiola made no less than seven team changes for this game. City have been unable to sell their full allocation for this weekend's semi-final, and there were quite a number of empty seats visible for this game.
City had already had a couple of good chances, one of which was created by De Bruyne before the Belgian star gave them a sixth minute lead, with a rising left footed shot from a sharp angle on the left of the area. City, inspired by De Bruyne, were completely on top and went two up just before half time when Sane drove low and hard with his left foot just inside the penalty area.
It was pretty much one way traffic in the second half, but it stayed 2-0, largely thanks to a some excellent saves by Etheridge, the best of which was an instinctive one-hander from Laporte, following a cross by Foden, who had finally made his full Premier League debut. Foden also hit the post with his own piece of instinctive play following a Sane corner. Another save by the Cardiff keeper, this one a double hander to his right, denied Foden again.
Spurs 2 Crystal Palace 0
Moussa Sissoko was your man of the match, with Son - the scorer of the first Premier League goal in our magnificent new stadium - very close in second place. See this spursometer in full.
Fulham 0-2 Man City
Brighton 0-1 S'hampton
Burnley 2-0 Wolves
C. Palace 2-0 Hds'field
Leicester 2-0 B'mouth
Man Utd 2-1 Watford
West Ham 0-2 Everton
Cardiff 1-2 Chelsea
Liverpool 2-1 Spurs
Arsenal 2-0 Newcastle
Watford 4-1 Fulham
Wolves 2-1 Man Utd
Chelsea 3-0 Brighton
Man City 2-0 Cardiff
Spurs 2-0 C. Palace
Premier League Table
P W D L F-A GD Pts
1. Man City 32 26 2 4 83-21 62 80
2. Liverpool 32 24 7 1 72-19 53 79
3. Spurs 32 21 1 10 60-34 26 64
4. Arsenal 31 19 6 6 65-39 26 63
5. Chelsea 32 19 6 7 55-34 21 63
6. Man Utd 32 18 7 7 61-43 18 61
7. Wolves 32 13 8 11 40-39 1 47
8. Watford 32 13 7 12 47-47 0 46
9. Leicester 32 13 5 14 42-43 -1 44
10. Everton 32 12 7 13 45-42 3 43
11. West Ham 32 12 6 14 41-48 -7 42
12. B'mouth 32 11 5 16 43-58 -15 38
13. C. Palace 32 10 6 16 38-43 -5 36
14. Newcastle 32 9 8 15 31-42 -11 35
15. Brighton 31 9 6 16 32-46 -14 33
16. S'hampton 31 8 9 14 35-50 -15 33
17. Burnley 32 9 6 17 37-59 -22 33
18. Cardiff 32 8 4 20 28-61 -33 28
19. Fulham 33 4 5 24 30-76 -46 17 R
20. H'dsfield 32 3 5 24 18-59 -41 14 R