Premier League Review – Matchday 23
Saturday 18th January, 2020
Watford 0 Spurs 0
Spurs’ first 0-0 draw in the Premier League since September 2017 at Swansea gave them bottom billing on Match of the Day. Unsurprisingly, bearing in mind his penalty save, Paulo Gazzaniga was your Spurs man of the match.
Arsenal 1 Sheffield United 1
This was referee Mike Dean’s 500th Premier League game in a career that has stretched back over 20 years. Arsenal were missing top scorer and (of late) captain Aubameyang who was serving the first of three-match suspension following his red card last week at Selhurst Park. For the eleventh time this season the “Gooners” were held to a draw, something Sheffield United have achieved nine times so far this term.
In front of an unenthused crowd, Arsenal took the lead just before half-time when Saka’s cross from the left took a deflection in favour of Martinelli, who scored from close range. The “Blades” gave a good account of themselves all game and had chances before the home side. They scored a deserved equaliser in the 83rd minute when Robinson crossed from the right-hand side of the box and Fleck scored with a powerful shot which hit the ground first but beat goalkeeper Leno in front of the ecstatic travelling fans. I expect there was a raucous atmosphere on the trains back to Sheffield, having experienced “Blades”’ travelling fans at first hand on several previous occasions.
Brighton 1 Aston Villa 1
This result leaves Villa in the bottom three and Brighton not out of the woods yet. Trossard gave the home side a 38th minute lead. Maupay had made a run through the middle before feeding the ball to his left, from where Trossard beat Pepe Reina making his Villa debut in goal. Grealish scored a great equaliser after 75 minutes with a powerful left-footed shot after the ball had been delivered from the right by Douglas Luiz. Reina made a very good right-handed save, diving to his right to deny Maupay late in the second half
Manchester City 2 Crystal Palace 2
Crystal Palace sprung a surprise the last time they visited The Etihad for Premier League action, winning there just before Christmas 2018. They nearly did it again today, holding the lead until the first of two Sergio Aguero goals late in the game, before relying on a late own goal by Fernandinho to give them a share of the points. Palace had no less than seven players injured and Everton loanee Cenk Tosun started.
Sergio Aguero was fouled by James McArthur, and Kevin de Bruyne hit the woodwork with his free kick from well over 25 yards. Guaita closed Aguero down at his left post, after De Bruyne had given the magical striker a scoring chance. Tosun sent Zaha forward and he collided with john Stones in the penalty area. Referee Graham Scott was supported by VAR when denying Zaha a penalty.
Palace took the lead in the 39th minute following a corner taken from the right. Gary Cahill headed the ball back across the area where Tosun scored with a powerful header. The City crowd was stunned. Sterling hit a shot over the corner of the goal in the second half before Tosun tested Ederson with a decent shot after Zaha’s pass.
Palace had a VAR reprieve after 71 minutes when the ball did hit Riedewald’s arm accidentally as it was deflected up onto his arm by his outstretched leg as he tried to clear. Mr. Scott had given a penalty. VAR John Brooks overruled him. City did level the scores in the 82nd minute when substitute Gabriel Jesus hit a short ball across the area and Aguero converted at the right-hand post. That was Aguero’s 250th goal for City. He scored again five minutes later when he headed in Mendy’s cross.
The Fernandinho own goal came in the 90th minute when he couldn’t help but convert Zaha’s ball when it was crossed from the left. The result left City 13 points behind Liverpool even before they played united, and Pep Guardiola described his target after the game as to “secure a place” in next season’s Champions League.
Norwich 1 Bournemouth 0
The “Canaries” grabbed a precious win, but Bournemouth’s freefall continues. This was their 10th defeat in 12 league games. Steve Cook was sent off in the first half for a terrific save. The only trouble of course was that he was not in goal!
Buendia headed wide after 16 minutes when Aarons had crossed deep from the right. That sending off came after Pukki had been closed down by goalkeeper Ramsdale but Cook stretched an arm up to save Duda’s shot and was shown a straight red after only 31 minutes had gone. Pukki scored from the spot.
One reason for Bournemouth’s plight has been Callum Wilson’s poor form. He hasn’t scored a Premier League goal since September and failed here in the second half when Fraser teed him up from the left. Wilson had been given four England caps in the 2018-19 season and scored on his debut in a friendly against the USA. He scored 14 Premier league goals last season and five in the early part of this season.
Norwich continued to dominate in terms of chances and Buendia was through when Ramsdale saved his shot. Referee Paul Tierney initially showed Ben Godfrey a yellow card for a studs-up challenge on Wilson but reviewed his own decision on the pitch-side monitor before showing Godfrey a red card. Godfrey has been a ninety-minute man for all but one of his 18 Premier League appearances this season and will now miss the Spurs game on Wednesday, as well as two more games.
In a ten v ten finale, Norwich keeper Tim Krul had to tip over a header by Ake, and Buendia hit a free kick just wide of Ramsdale’s left post.
Southampton 2 Wolves 3
Wolves came back from 2-0 down to win an exciting game. This was only the second time this season that Wolves have scored three goals in a Premier League game. The other was also a 3-2 win – against Manchester City.
Southampton have been in great form lately and with two first half goals it looked as if they would win again here. The first goal followed a foul by Traore upon Hojbjerg out on the left flank and a free kick by Ward-Prowse. The ball reached Bednarek at the back post who hooked in a shot to the left of Rui Patricio. (15 mins) Traore had had an earlier shot deflected wide and Southampton managed to clear from Jimenez’s close range attempt following a ross from the left by Neto.
Cedric had a header comfortably saved after a good run and a cross from the left by Redmond. Jimenez received Neto’s ball from the right but pushed his attempt wide. Southampton went two up after 35 minutes when Shane Long headed in a Cedric cross. Long might have made it three in the second half when Redmond crossed, but the striker headed this one wide.
The comeback began in the 53rd minute. Traore crossed from the right and Neto was allowed a couple of touches with his back to goal before he fired home. Wolves were denied a penalty by first-time Premier League referee Darren England, but VAR reversed the decision , made because of a foul upon Jonny as he entered the Southampton box. Raul Jimenez coolly scored from the spot in the 65th minute.
Redmond had a shot from 25 yards which just clipped the top of the Wolves bar, before Jimenez scored the Wolves winner after 76 minutes. Jimenez had clipped a pass to Traore who looked as if he might be offside. The flag stayed down and when Traore returned the ball to the middle, Jimenez was there to score with his right foot inside the keeper’s left post. Every goal is reviewed by VAR and this one stood. The “Saints” tried hard but could not get an equalising goal.
West Ham 1 Everton 1
West Ham still have not managed to drag themselves clear of the relegation battle, whilst Carlo Ancelotti’s men are six points above the London side. A contingent of "Hammers"’ fans protested outside the stadium before the game. Their complaints were aimed at the owners – Messrs Sullivan and Gold aka "The Dildo Brothers"
Veteran full back Zabaleta had a shot blocked, before Pickford saved a Haller effort with his leg. The “Hammers” took the lead after 40 minutes when Diop headed in a Snodgrass free kick. Everton equalised before the break from a corner when Calvert-Lewin headed in at the back post. West Ham have re-signed former keeper Darren Randolph from Middlesbrough. He had tried but failed to keep the ball from crossing the goal-line on the left of his area. Pickford made an excellent save from Fornals’ close range effort before the break. Nobody came as close to scoring after the break. There were quite a few empty seats visible, but the West Ham crowd was given as 59,915. Perhaps, like Arsenal, they count non-attending season ticket holders too.
Newcastle 1 Chelsea 0
This was a late “smash and grab” win for Newcastle. All but one of their 8 league wins have been by one goal Four of those wins have been 1-0 results too.
Newcastle lost Willems to injury early on, and they did have a header by Joelinton rebound off the Chelsea bar. However, Chelsea dominated in terms of possession (70%) and chances (19 to 7) over the course of the game. Only four of Chelsea’s attempts were on target. Abraham had had a first half flick hit the post, but this had been offside. The closest he came to scoring was after 79 minutes when Azpilicueta crossed from the right and Abraham beat Dubravka with a shot only to see the ball cleared off the line by Matt Ritchie, who had replaced Willems.
Newcastle’s goal followed their first corner of the game in the fourth minute of added time. The initial corner had been cleared but Saint-Maximin returned it with a long cross which was met by Isaac Hayden to head into the net in front of the Gallowgate Stand. The joy of the home support was of course unmitigated.
Sunday 19th January, 2020
Burnley 2 Leicester 1
This was a surprise result with Burnley winning their first game in five Premier League matches. Leicester have lost two on the trot, but they are still sitting pretty in the top four. It was Leicester’s Harvey Barnes who scored the first goal in the 33rd minute, but there was some controversy about the goal which came from a move started when it looked as if Praet had fouled Cork in the middle giving Barnes a run leading to his right foot finish from inside the Burnley area.
Pope was required to make a good save to his right from Prate’s second half shot before Wood equalised in the 56th minute following a corner from the right. The ball had been headed down by Mee, and Schmeichel got a hand to it, but could only push it into the path of wood who finished from close range.
Referee Anthony Taylor awarded Leicester a penalty for a foul by Mee upon Harvey Barnes. The decision was supported by VAR and Mee was shown a yellow card, but Vardy’s spot-kick was well saved by Pope who dived to his left. Ricardo’s follow-up went wide too. Leicester wanted another penalty when Mee moved his arm to his left to block a Maddison shot. The defender got away with it by keeping his arm very close to his body. It appears VAR did not intervene.
Pope made a good save with his chest from a powerful Vardy shot, before Burnley snatched the win in the 79th minute with a goal by Westwood. Westwood had started the move in the middle and Pieters’ cross from the left was allowed to reach the Burnley midfielder with space to fire past Schmeichel.
Liverpool 2 Manchester United 0
Liverpool are an incredible 16 points clear of second-placed Manchester City following this win that means they have now beaten every other team in this season’s Premier League. They had to wait till virtually the last kick of the game though before the win was secured, having scored in the 14th minute before they had two other first half “goals” disallowed.
United were without top scorer Marcus Rashford, who will be absent for a lengthy period, due to a hairline fracture in his back. Solskjaer played Shaw on the left of a back three, with Williams in the midfield in front of him. Martial was the front man.
The opening goal was scored by Virgil van Dijk, heading home too easily from a corner taken on the right. The first disallowed “goal” followed a corner taken on the left when van Dijk had challenged goalkeeper De Gea inside his 6-yard goal area for a high ball returned to that zone. Referee Craig Pawson allowed play to continue and Firmino hit a right foot shot into the net beyond De Gea. Firmino thought he had his first Anfield goal of the season. De Gea and his team-mates were livid, and De Gea was booked for his over-vigorous dissent. VAR however overturned the goal, giving a foul by Van Dijk against the United goalkeeper.
Wijnaldum was correctly flagged offside when he put the ball in the net after a pass by Oxlade-Chamberlain. Pereira missed a good chance at the back post following a short cross from the right by Wan-Bissaka. Pereira had another shot from 22 yards comfortably held by Alisson. At the other end Mane was denied by De Gea’s outstretched leg.
Salah missed an early second half opportunity to score his first goal for Liverpool against United, and Mane was off target after Firmino teed him up. Henderson hit a shot which De Gea fingertipped onto the outside of the post. Somehow United were still in touch, and they did show lots of spirit as the half progressed. Martial missed the best chance the visitors had to score. Alisson pushed away a shot by Fred, who has found form for United.
The Liverpool fans were whistling for full time as their team defended a United corner. Goalkeeper Alisson gets the assist as he sent the ball to Salah near the halfway line, who made it all the way to De Gea’s area where he finally scored. Salah whipped off his shirt (yellow card, of course) in front of The Kop, who now started to sing “We’re gonna win the league”. No-one is going to stop them, are they?
Fixtures & Results 18-19.01.20
Watford 0-0 Spurs
Arsenal 1-1 Sheff Utd
Brighton 1-1 A. Villa
Man City 2-2 C. Palace
Norwich 1-0 B'mouth
S'hampton 2-3 Wolves
West Ham 1-1 Everton
Newcastle 1-0 Chelsea
Burnley 2-1 Leicester
Liverpool 2-0 Man Utd
Premier League Table
P W D L F-A GD Pts
1. Liverpool 22 21 1 0 52-14 38 64
2. Man City 23 15 3 5 64-27 37 48
3. Leicester 23 14 3 6 48-23 25 45
4. Chelsea 23 12 3 8 39-30 9 39
5. Man Utd 23 9 7 7 36-27 9 34
6. Wolves 23 8 10 5 34-30 4 34
7. Sheff Utd 23 8 9 6 25-22 3 33
8. Spurs 23 8 7 8 36-31 5 31
9. C. Palace 23 7 9 7 22-26 -4 30
10. Arsenal 23 6 11 6 30-32 -2 29
11. Everton 23 8 5 10 26-33 -7 29
12. Newcastle 23 8 5 10 22-34 -12 29
13. S'hampton 23 8 4 11 29-42 -13 28
14. Burnley 23 8 3 12 26-38 -12 27
15. Brighton 23 6 7 10 26-31 -5 25
16. West Ham 22 6 5 11 26-34 -8 23
17. Watford 23 5 8 10 20-34 -14 23
18. A. Villa 23 6 4 13 29-44 -15 22
19. B'mouth 23 5 5 13 20-36 -16 20
20. Norwich 23 4 5 14 23-45 -22 17