Premier League Review Matchday 29
Saturday 7th March, 2020
One of the measures announced by the Premier League due to the coronavirus was to stop handshakes between the players and officials pre-match, but such greetings were still observed at the end of games
Liverpool 2 Bournemouth 1
Bournemouth gave Liverpool a nasty shock early on, but normality was restored by thee end of the first half. Liverpool’s march towards their first League title in 30 years was resumed, whilst Eddie Howe’s men must continue their battle against the drop. Liverpool were missing goalkeeper Alisson, so Adrian stepped in again.
That early shock came in the 9th minute at the Kop End and followed a good sequence of passes by the “Cherries” from their own half, culminating in Lerma’s short cross from the right and Callum Wilson’s close-range finish. Anfield was in shock! Klopp and his connections were upset that VAR did not deem Wilson’s earlier shove on Gomez earlier in the move a foul. Adrian had to push an Ake header onto the top of his bar following a Bournemouth corner. At the other end Ramsdale saved well from Firmino’s close-range effort.
Bournemouth’s Steve Cook had to be replaced by Jack Simpson after only 19 minutes and it was Simpson’s error that gave Liverpool the chance to equalise with Mane being gifted the ball before passing to Salah. The ball was behind Salah, but he scored inside Ramsdale’s left post with a low shot in the 25th minute. It was 2-1 in the 33rd minute after Lewis Cook gave the ball away in midfield. The ball was passed forward to Mane who made no mistake in his one-on-one with Ramsdale. Klopp was severely animated!
In the second half, Billing found Ryan Fraser in the middle. Fraser lifted the ball over Adrian, but James Milner (playing at left back today) made a fantastic clearance just in front of the goal-line. Mane hit the top left corner of Ramsdale’s goal with a brilliant right footed shot from 22 yards out.
Arsenal 1 West Ham 0
Goals were a rare commodity today, and this was one of three 1-0 wins. Bowen hit the post for West ham within two minutes, but that’s as close as the “Hammers” came to scoring, although they did have several good chances. Antonio made a run down the right but passed behind Haller. Sokratis hit the bar with a header after a move from an Arsenal corner, with Aubameyang providing the final cross. Diop headed down a West Ham corner, but somehow Antonio put the ball wide from less than two yards out.
Leno made a good save from Antonio in the second half and Bowen hit a shot which Leno could not hold after a good run through the middle. Lacazette was denied a penalty when he was seemingly fouled in the box. VAR backed up referee Martin Atkinson. The Arsenal number 9 was then initially denied a “goal” for an offside in the build-up, but VAR decreed that the goal should stand. (78 mins) Leno was required to make one more save from Haller.
Arsenal have drawn to within one point of Spurs. West Ham do look as if they will give Spurs something to think about when we meet on March 20th, but then any team does that currently!
Crystal Palace 1 Watford 0
It’s a funny old game. Last week Watford beat Liverpool 3-0. This week they lost a game where they would have hoped so much for more. 72-year-old Roy Hodgson was able to celebrate the award of an extra year on his contract.
Doucoure had an early shot saved by the legs of Guaita and last week’s hero Sarr put a follow-up shot wide. Watford were guilty of over-playing the ball in the Palace area. Jordan Ayew scored the only goal of the game in the 28th minute after Zaha had crossed and Benteke had touched the ball back. It was a powerful right-footed shot by Ayew from the edge of the box.
Foster saved a Zaha shot with his knees in the second half. Guaita finger-tipped a Deeney right-footed shot over his bar. The goalkeeper also pushed round a Doucoure header, although this effort was going wide anyway.
Sheffield United 1 Norwich 0
This was Sheffield United’s sixth 1-0 win of the season. They are two points above Spurs with a game in hand (against Aston Villa). All is well, at Bramall Lane, which we visit in early April. Pukki and Tettey were back in Norwich’s starting line-up. Tettey came off the bench at Tottenham, but Pukki sat out the FA Cup Fifth Round win.
Norwich’s penalty shoot-out hero Tim Krul pushed over an early header by McBurnie from a Billy Sharp cross. Following a Norwich corner, Pukki hit a shot against the outside the post, when he should have scored. After a corner at the other end O’Connell’s goal-bound shot was cleared in front of goal by McLean. Sharp scored the decisive goal in the 36th minute following a cross from the right by Lundstram. Sharp scored with a powerful header.
Thirteen minutes from the end, goalkeeper Henderson made three quite miraculous saves; firstly, from Godfey’s header, secondly from Vrancic at very close range and thirdly from Drmic’s attempted follow-up. Henderson and his team celebrated the saves quite rightly, like a winner. Henderson had to make one more save, this time from Jamal Lewis’s shot.
Southampton 0 Newcastle 1
Southampton were down to 10 men when Djenepo was sent off in the 28th minute, and ultimately paid the price with Steve Bruce’s team taking the points. The “Toon” were inspired by wingman Allan Saint-Maximin’s performance and he scored the winning goal in the 79th minute. Kyle Walker-Peters didn’t get off the bench for the “Saints”, but Danny Rose played 90 minutes for Newcastle.
McCarthy made a great double save from Gayle and Almiron after Shelvey had firstly done well to keep the ball in play before crossing from deep on the right. Valery had a decent left foot effort from the edge of the box which was held by Dubravka. Djenepo was shown a yellow by referee Graham Scott for his challenge on Hayden, but VAR referred the official to the pitch side monitor and the card was upgraded to red as the Southampton man had basically trodden on Hayden’s lower leg. Gayle met a Shelvey ball with a diving header and again McCarthy saved. Gayle had another chance after Saint-Maximin crossed from the left, but Gayle put this shot wide.
Newcastle were awarded a penalty by VAR when Boufal hit the ball with his upper arm just inside the area. Ritchie hit a decent penalty low to the left of McCarthy, but the Southampton keeper made a great save. The winner came when Valery was slow and was robbed of the ball by Saint-Maximin who scored with shot across McCarthy. The win enabled Newcastle to overtake Southampton, but the “Saints” are a precious five points above sixth from bottom side Brighton.
Wolves 0 Brighton 0
Wolves, who put three goals past Tottenham last week, couldn’t score against Brighton, who will be grateful for the point. It seems that Wolves were below par, and Brighton defended well. Jimenez hit a good right foot shot just over the target in the first half and had a shot that had its sting taken out by a defender’s touch held by Ryan late in the game. Maupay had hit a first half shot to Rui Patricio and Trossard hit a cross into the danger zone, but no-one was there to convert.
Burnley 1 Spurs 1
Even if the European ban on Manchester city is confirmed and a place is awarded to the Premier League’s fifth placed team, Spurs are losing valuable ground, following Manchester United’s win over their City rivals. Sunday’s game could be decisive. Second half substitute Giovani Lo Celso was the Spurs Odyssey man of the match for the third consecutive match, and looks like gaining that accolade for our losing performance in Leipzig. In what has been a moderate season (to say the very least) Lo Celso is now in the running to be our player of the season, which will now consist of our remaining 9 Premier League games.
Sunday 8th March, 2020
Chelsea 4 Everton 0
Carlo Ancelotti returned to Stamford Bridge with his Everton team full of hope. They left in despair after a thorough beating. Frank Lampard’s Chelsea, which included 21-year-old Mason mount and now 18-year-old Bill Gilmour had the three points in their pockets only ten minutes into the second half. Chelsea are three points clear in fourth place, and a massive seven points clear of Spurs.
Pickford made a great save from an early shot by Mount after Willian’s cross from the right. Mount’s shot was somewhat improvised, as he seemed to be losing his balance. Mount did score in the 14th minute with a neat right footed shot inside Pickford’s right post, after Pedro’s short ball from the left. Chelsea were looking rampant already. Pickford saved from Willian, but he couldn’t stop Pedro’s right foot shot from 20 yards after a smart ball from the midfield by former Everton man Ross Barkley. It was 2-0 in the 21st minute. Calvert-Lewin fluffed a good chance in front of goal after Richarlison’s ball. Everton did not get a chance as good as this one for the rest of the game.
Willian made it 3-0 inside 51 minutes with a lovely low right foot drive from 22 yards just inside Pickford’s right-hand post. Again, Barkley claimed the assist. Three minutes later it was 4-0 when Giroud slotted home a deep cross by Willian after a corner. Arrizabalaga was making his first Premier League start since January, but he was rarely tested. At the other end Pickford had to fly a little to save Pedro’s shot. Lampard even had the luxury of giving 18-year-old Faustino Anjorin a Premier League debut. This was Anjorin’s first senior appearance for the club. He was denied a debut goal by Sidibe’s challenge after a pass from Gilmour. Gilmour was Sky’s man of the match.
Ancelotti’s declared aim of achieving Champions League football for Everton must remain one for a longer term. For the moment they remain in the bottom half.
Manchester United 2 Manchester City 0
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s men have achieved league doubles over both Manchester City and Chelsea in the same season for the first time since 1961. This is the one they’ll treasure though, as it strengthens their position in the chase for Champions League football. Liverpool now need only two wins to secure the title. United achieved this win with only 28% of the possession, but more shots. They were also grateful for two mistakes by Ederson for both their goals.
City were missing the injured De Bruyne and Pep Guardiola went with a back four of Cancelo, Fernandinho, Otamendi and Zinchenko. Sterling had a shot saved after 10 minutes when De Gea dived to his left and pushed the ball away at The Stretford End. Ederson made comfortable saves from James and Martial. City were upset when referee Mike Dean delayed a decision to give United a free kick for a foul on Fernandes by Gundogan. Fernandes lifted a clever free kick over the wall and Martial scored with the ball going through Ederson’s hands just inside his right-hand post. (30 mins) It was an uncharacteristic mistake by the keeper, but not the only one he would make. United were denied a penalty when Fred went down under Otamendi’s challenge and Mr. Dean booked the United player for diving. VAR supported that decision.
Aguero had the ball in the net early in the second half, but the flag was already up, and VAR supported the offside decision – just! Ederson was then slow to clear his goal line with Martial threatening, but then did just manage to boot the ball clear. City do like to mess about with the ball, sorry play the ball out from the back, but did sometimes look vulnerable today. Foden, starting only his third Premier League game this season, had a good shot from 25 yards tipped over the bar by De Gea. Ederson firmly pushed a James shot out for a corner.
The tension remained in the game to the very end. Mahrez and Jesus had come on for City, and after Sterling failed to make good enough contact with a Mahrez cross, Jesus hit a low return which de Gea saved. De Gea subsequently made an easy save from Sterling. United scored their second goal in the very last seconds of added time when Ederson threw the ball out from the right front corner of his area and was then out of position as McTominay latched onto the ball and hit it into the net from 30 yards. Old Trafford rarely has an atmosphere such as the one seen and heard after that goal.
Monday 9th March, 2020
Leicester City 4 Aston Villa 0
Leicester returned to winning ways with their first league win since 22nd January. They scored 4 on that day too – against West Ham. As for Villa, this was a fourth consecutive league defeat (fifth if you include their Carabao Cup Final defeat to Manchester City). Their last win was on the same weekend as Leicester beat West Ham. Dean Smith’s side remain in the relegation mire. Leicester gained full revenge for their semi-final league cup defeat by the “Villans”.
Villa made the brighter start, but Schmeichel was not forced into any saves. Pepe Reina was worried by Engels’ back- header which led to a corner, from which Reina had to save Evans’ downward header. Villa were persistently troubled by their inability to defend corners and other balls into the heart of their defence. Soyuncu and Iheanacho put headed opportunities off the target. Leicester now had the upper hand, but it took them 40 minutes to break the deadlock. Barnes had already had one effort saved by a well-positioned Reina, but when Albrighton lifted a ball from his own half to Barnes as he raced forward down the left channel, Reina raced out of his area and failed to reach the ball, allowing Barnes to score from the edge of the area despite three Villa men desperately trying to prevent the goal.
Iheanacho was denied by Reina early in the second half, saving a low shot with his legs after his clearance had come straight back towards his goal. Iheanacho was replaced by Vardy after 59 minutes. Within 4 minutes, Vardy was on the scoresheet from the penalty spot after Tyrone Mings was punished for trying to clear a Barnes cross with the upper part of his arm, below the shoulder. This offence had similarity to that against Boufal in Southampton’s weekend game and was upheld by VAR. Reina went the wrong way and Vardy ended a 9-game goal drought. Vardy had a second goal in the 79th minute when his first effort was blocked and came back to his feet before he hit a right foot hot just inside Reina’s right-hand post.
The rout was completed in the 85th minute when Albrighton crossed low and hard from the right bye-line and Barnes met the cross with an equally powerful shot. Villa have conceded more goals than any other Premier League team. Their next game is at home to Chelsea.
Wednesday 11th March, 2020
Manchester City v Arsenal
This game was again postponed, because of the coronavirus, which has been declared a pandemic by the World Health Organisation. Arsenal players had met the Olympiacos President when they recently met in the Europa League. The Olympiacos President has since been diagnosed with the virus, and Arsenal need to “self-isolate” for a few more days. At the time of writing Arsenal's weekend game at Brighton is still scheduled to be played.
Fixtures & Results 07-11.03.20
Liverpool 2-1 B'mouth
Arsenal 1-0 West Ham
C. Palace 1-0 Watford
Sheff Utd 1-0 Norwich
S'hampton 0-1 Newcastle
Wolves 0-0 Brighton
Burnley 1-1 Spurs
Chelsea 4-0 Everton
Man Utd 2-0 Man City
Leicester 4-0 A. Villa
Man City P Arsenal
Premier League Table
P W D L F-A GD Pts
1. Liverpool 29 27 1 1 66-21 45 82
2. Man City 28 18 3 7 68-31 37 57
3. Leicester 29 16 5 8 58-28 30 53
4. Chelsea 29 14 6 9 51-39 12 48
5. Man Utd 29 12 9 8 44-30 14 45
6. Wolves 29 10 13 6 41-34 7 43
7. Sheff Utd 28 11 10 7 30-25 5 43
8. Spurs 29 11 8 10 47-40 7 41
9. Arsenal 28 9 13 6 40-36 4 40
10. Burnley 29 11 6 12 34-40 -6 39
11. C. Palace 29 10 9 10 26-32 -6 39
12. Everton 29 10 7 12 37-46 -9 37
13. Newcastle 29 9 8 12 25-41 -16 35
14. S'hampton 29 10 4 15 35-52 -17 34
15. Brighton 29 6 11 12 32-40 -8 29
16. West Ham 29 7 6 16 35-50 -15 27
17. Watford 29 6 9 14 27-44 -17 27
18. B'mouth 29 7 6 16 29-47 -18 27
19. A. Villa 28 7 4 17 34-56 -22 25
20. Norwich 29 5 6 18 25-52 -27 21