Premier League Review – Matchday 30
The Premier League resumed after a more than three full months of inactivity due to the Coronavirus Covid-19 pandemic. For the foreseeable future games are being played behind locked doors. Various controls have been introduced such as Covid-19 testing for all players and officials attending venues. One temporary rule has been introduced to allow up to five substitutes to be used by each team, and for benches to include 9 players. Those substitutions have to be made over no more than three occasions during the game.
All games are being televised, many of which will be free to air. Innovations such as recorded crowd noise on TV transmissions and fan video screens within stadia, along with banners and flags, have been allowed to try and create some form of atmosphere in this strange environment.
Each of this round of games was preceded by a minute's silence or reflection for the victims of the pandemic, and at the whistle for kick-off in all games all players and officials took a knee as a powerful mark of respect to the "Black Lives Matter" issue. All players'shirts bore the "Black Lives Matter" wording, rather than players' names. This worldwide campaign was in response to the killing of George Floyd in the USA on May 25th.
The programme commenced with two games which were pending following previous postponements:-
Wednesday 17th June, 2020
Aston Villa 0 Sheffield United 0
After 100 days without Premier League football, it fell to these two teams to re-open proceedings. Villa played in the last game before lockdown and made 6 changes to that starting line-up. An important return was that of midfielder John McGinn, who hadn't played for 6 months.
The "Blades" were without the injured John Fleck and Jack O'Connell.
Villa had the first chance after 5 minutes when Henderson was required to save Hourihane's shot which followed a corner. Villa had another chance following a Grealish corner five minutes later. This time Davis headed over after Hause had headed the ball back across the area.
There was controversy after 41 minutes when Villa goalkeeper Nyland carried a floated free kick by Norwood over the line. Referee Michael Oliver pointed to his watch and indicated that goal-line technology said, "No goal". Maybe the goal-line technology had not been switched on! The ball was clearly over the line and after the game Hawk-Eye Technology issued an apology for failing to spot the agreed fact that the ball had crossed the line. The statement said that the level of “occlusion” had for the first time in 9000 games failed to correctly award a goal. VAR did not intervene either.
There were chances at each end early in the second half with Stevens hitting the side netting for United, and Henderson saving well from Keinan Davis. Henderson made another decent save after 61 minutes, but McGinn's shot was somewhat telegraphed. McBurnie headed a corner straight into the goalkeeper's hands in the 70th minute.
There were drink breaks in each half, and 4 minutes were added at the end of the game. The game did not offer an exciting start to the post lockdown Premier League. Villa at least brought an end to a run of 4 consecutive defeats, but they've won just one of their last 8 league games and remain in the bottom three.
Manchester City 3 Arsenal 0
The pre-match talk was about Mikel Arteta's first return to The Etihad since his appointment at Arsenal. City started without Aguero, and the 20-man Arsenal squad did not include Ozil. The game was preceded by heavy rain, which continued in the first half.
De Bruyne tested Leno with an early free kick after Sterling had been fouled just outside the box. Leno got a touch to concede a corner. Xhaka was injured after only four minutes and was replaced by Ceballos.
After 20 minutes Arsenal defender Mari was struggling with injury, having been well beaten by Kyle Walker whose ball when cut back did not reach a sky blue shirt. Mari became the second player to be replaced (by David Luiz).
Nketiah had one or two bright moments in the middle of Arsenal's front three, but it was goalkeeper Leno who had to make further saves from Sterling and David Silva. Playmaker De Bruyne set up chances for Mahrez (saved) and Sterling (lifted shot over the goal).
Raheem Sterling gave City the lead in the second minute of first half added time when David Luiz helped on a De Bruyne cross into the path of Sterling who smashed the ball home across Leno's goal.
David Luiz was the villain again three minutes into the second half when he a) hauled down Mahrez inside the box, b) made no attempt to play the ball and c) conceded a penalty which De Bruyne converted. David Luiz was also sent off after his comedy of errors.
Inevitably the game became somewhat processional and Leno was kept busy, saving from De Bruyne after 68 minutes at the end of a fluent City move. City defender Eric Garcia was flattened by his goalkeeper Ederson as he raced out of his area to clear his lines. Garcia required lengthy treatment before being stretchered off.
As the game entered 11 minutes of added time, City made it 3-0. After a long clearance, Aguero exchanged passes with Sterling before the Argentinean's shot rebounded off the post after Leno got a touch. Another City substitute Phil Foden snatched up the opportunity. City didn't stop trying to score with Bernardo Silva and Aguero gong close.
This result meant Liverpool could not win the title at Goodison Park this weekend as they still needed two wins. It also meats that Arsenal remained below Spurs and now have a weaker goal difference.
Friday 19th June, 2020
Norwich City 0 Southampton 3
Southampton midfielder Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg has been stripped of the captaincy after he recently declared his desire to leave this summer (Spurs are allegedly interested), but he was included in the "Saints" line-up tonight.
Norwich had the brighter start and Kenny McLean hit a shot just outside the post from 20 yards after 6 minutes. Drmic had half a chance a minute later but only won a corner. Ings had Southampton's first chance with a header into Krul's hands.
Southampton got more of a foothold on the game, but there were still few chances. Armstrong made a good right footed connection to a corner with a low shot, but Krul collected again. Danny Ings hit the top of the crossbar after 33 minutes when Norwich struggled to pass their way out through the middle of their own half. Stephens carried the ball forward before picking out Ings who was on the left side of the area.
Just before the half-time whistle, James Ward-Prowse hit a powerful free kick from outside the left corner of the Norwich area, but Krul was equal to the shot.
Southampton scored two goals early in the second half to take control. Firstly, Danny Ings beat Krul's left hand with a right footer after a throw from the left reached him after the ball bobble around the box. Then, in the 54th minute, Ings laid the ball up for Armstrong, who hit a well-placed shot inside Krul's left post. James Ward-Prowse also had a shot cleared in front of goal.
Redmond scored all too easily with a left foot shot against his led team in the 79th minute. Norwich have one foot in the Championship grave now, whilst "Saints" can surely be relaxed about their Premier League status.
Spurs man Kyle Walker-Peters was a late substitution for Southampton.
Tottenham Hotspur 1 Manchester United 1
Steven Bergwijn is the first Spurs player since Rafa van der Vaart to score in his first three home Premier League games. Let’s hope Steven makes it four against West Ham!
The game drew quite a few comments, most of which were directed towards referee Jon Moss. Here are selected offerings:-
“I thought Spurs kept their shape incredibly well. Only a bit of skill and a clumsy challenge undid them.”
“I am close to sixty years as a Spurs supporter. I said after the Man City game that I hadn't enjoyed a minute of the game, despite the win, and I thought the same about last night. I really don't want to see us doing no more than try to stifle the opposition in the hope we might get a breakaway.”
“Kane and Son were not match fit and should have been on the bench and eased back in. Old fashioned managers like Nicholson and Shankly knew there is a difference between basic fitness and being match fit. Having said that , Jose and all players and staff are doing well in trying circumstances.”
“Pogba I thought bought the first penalty and Moss got sucked in too easy, but VAR could well have over ruled that one as well because he was always looking to go down. The second penalty decision was appalling and Moss's suitability as a PL referee is again called in to question, good job VAR got this one right.”
Hugo Lloris was voted Spurs Odyssey man of the match with goalscorer Steven Bergwijn not far behind. Harry Kane got the lowest grade of 4.9. See the full spursometer.
Saturday 20th June, 2020
Watford 1 Leicester 1
Jamie Vardy is chasing the Premier League golden boot and his 100th Premier League goal. He had two chances in the first 15 minutes, the second and best of which was presented by Kabasele's error after Maddison's midfield ball. Vardy put his shot wide from 20 yards. The next shot of note was by Ndidi from 22 yards after 28 minutes. That was wide too.
Watford had a few attacking moments, but their first chance of note fell after 34 minutes to Doucoure after a mistake by Ndidi. Doucoure's shot required the first save of note by either goalkeeper.
Two minutes into the second half Schmeichel had to save again. Capoue put Sarr through and with the defence flailing Schmeichel spread himself well to save from Sarr. Deeney went close with a header at the far post after Femenia's cross from the right.
Soyuncu should have made better contact with Maddison's free kick but headed wide from close range. Leicester substitute Demarai Gray also failed to test Ben Foster with a shot from the edge of the box which passed two feet over the far corner of the goal.
Foster finally did have a save to make low to his left after 74 minutes from Maddison, but the keeper had been beaten by Albrighton's shot which rebounded back into play off the side of the keeper's left post.
It looked as if Leicester had snatched the win in the last minute with a special goal by Ben Chilwell who fired high into the left corner of Foster's goal with a shot from the left corner of the Watford area. Gray had picked out the Leicester left back with an excellent ball from deep on the right.
However, Watford made a determined effort and in the third minute of added time after a corner, Dawson beat Schmeichel with an overhead kick from just 7 yards out. The keeper got a touch, but it was not strong enough.
Brighton 2 Arsenal 1
This was the first 3pm Premier League game to be televised live in the UK. Arsenal had two early shots. Aubameyang put one wide having been gifted the ball by a defensive error. Then Saka hit the top of the bar with a powerful shot from the edge of the area. Dunk blocked another shot by Lacazette after he had been put in by Aubameyang. Arsenal were looking determined to put Wednesday's defeat behind them.
After 30 minutes Ryan made a good save from Lacazette's header after Saka had crossed from the left.
Arsenal goalkeeper Berndt Leno required lengthy treatment and was stretchered off after suffering a nasty knee injury as he advanced to the edge of his area and fell badly after Maupay's challenge. Leno had words for Maupay as he was carried off. Martinez was the replacement. Leno had played every minute of the Premier League season for his team. Martinez soon had to get down sharply to hold a sweetly hit shot from Mooy.
Webster made a vital clearance after a dangerous Aubameyang-Lacazette combination inside the Brighton box.
Aubameyang had an early shot in the second half which tested goalkeeper Ryan to the full. The Arsenal striker put the ball in the net after the offside flag had been raised and the referee's whistle was blown. VAR upheld the offside decision.
Martinez had to save at his right post from Maupay after a cross from the right. Ryan saved at the other end after 65 minutes from Aubameyang after a one-two with Lacazette. Pepe gave Arsenal the lead in the 68th minute with a left footed shot placed well to the right of the diving goalkeeper.
Brighton equalised from a short corner move in the 75th minute. March crossed low from the left, Maupay was at the near post but it was Lewis Dunk who got the touch to it the ball over the line. The goal-line technology was working but there was no doubt about this being a goal in any case.
Ryan saved a smacker of a shot by Aubameyang. The ball dipped but Ryan reacted well with a double-handed save. Saka's attempt was blocked inside the area and Aubameyang's half-blocked shot was pushed away for a corner.
Brighton grabbed a sensational late added time win when Maupay ran over a pass and the ball ran to Connolly who quickly lifted it back over the defence for Maupay to score with a flick over the keeper. There were scenes at the final whistle between Maupay and Arsenal players still aggrieved over Maupay's part in Leno's injury.
West Ham 0 Wolves 2
In the barren ground that is The London Stadium the home side struggled to get out of their own half for the first ten minutes. Whilst Wolves had dominated it was Fornals who had the first decent chance and one that he spurned by shooting well over the target after he had apparently stayed just onside, timing his run onto Noble’s long ball well.
After 19 minutes a cross by West Ham right back Ngakia was cleared as far as Soucek who fired in from outside the area, winning a corner with his deflected shot.
The Jimenez-Jota combination was prominent for Wolves and Jota bought a save from Fabianski after half an hour. Whilst there was no first half goal, Wolves had four shots on target to West Ham's nil. That figure became one three minutes into the second half, but 19-year-old Ngakia's shot was easy for Rui Patricio
Traore was one of two Wolves subs after 63 minutes, bringing hope of some excitement in the game. The winger made only his second run in the 73rd minute and he popped up a lovely cross deep into the West Ham area for Jimenez to head home. Declan Rice met a corner at the far post, but Rui Patricio was able to push the ball out for another corner.
With 7 minutes of normal time remaining Antonio had a solo effort, hitting a right foot shot from the edge of the area just over the goal. The result was sealed after 84 minutes when Traore fed the ball to Doherty on his right. The right wing-back crossed deep and substitute Neto caught the ball with a cracking left footed volley into the roof of the net.
The two-goal defeat led to the "Hammers" dropping to fourth from bottom.
Bournemouth 0 Crystal Palace 2
This was the first Premier League game to be televised live by the BBC. Their last live broadcast of a top flight league game was in 1988, which was an Arsenal v Spurs game. Bournemouth's Ryan Fraser has refused a short-term deal and will not play again for the "Cherries". Fraser is another player being linked with Spurs by some sources. Midfielder David Brooks returned to the team.
After a slow start Zaha had a good effort with a left foot shot from an angle just over the target. Within two minutes Milivojevic gave the visitors the lead with a brilliantly placed free kick inside Ramsdale's top right corner.
It was all too easy for Palace as they took a two-goal lead in the 23rd minute. Zaha fed Van Aanholt on the left. The full back cut the ball back to Jordan Ayew who finished with a nicely placed shot just inside the keeper's right post.
The game lost any sting it ever had, and Palace keeper Guaita's first save was a straightforward one from a header by Ake after a Bournemouth corner. That came after 63 minutes.
This was not an entertaining or competitive game, and, on this form, Bournemouth will be playing Championship football next season.
Sunday 21st June, 2020
Newcastle 3 Sheffield United 0
Spurs loanee Danny Rose started this game. Former Spur DeAndre Yedlin was on the bench along with Andy Carroll, apparently recovering from yet another injury. The "Blades" welcomed Fleck back at the expense of Lundstram who was relegated to the bench.
Sheffield United had been dominating the game but Matt Richie had a powerful shot from distance after 12 minutes which Henderson punched away. Steve Bruce had adopted a more positive strategy with four rather than five players at the back.
Joelinton had a great opportunity on the left side of the area after 16 minutes, but his weak shot did not worry Henderson. Newcastle were getting into the game more and Shelvey had a powerful shot well blocked on the edge of the box. The rest of the first half was pretty uneventful.
John Egan was sent off in the 50th minute for hauling back Joelinton some 35 yards out. This was a second yellow card offence. Egan and Joelinton had been booked for a first half spat. Joelinton had a header on target shortly afterwards, but this was an easy hold for Henderson. Newcastle took the lead after 55 minutes when Ritchie crossed from the left, Stevens' mistake let the ball under his feet and Saint-Maximin seized the gift and scored at the Gallowgate End.
Sharp should have equalised a few minutes later when he met Baldock's cross from the right but headed wide with the goal beckoning. After a ball from Saint-Maximin from the right, Almiron hit a good opportunity straight at the "Blades"' keeper.
After the drinks break Matt Ritchie received a ball towards the left of midfield. Danny Rose was making an overlapping run, but Ritchie let fly and scored with his left foot from the edge of the area. 2-0 gave 10-man Sheffield United a mountain to climb.
Stevens had a chance to get one back, but his shot went just wide of Dubravka's right post.
Newcastle were exploiting the space allowed them at the back and Joelinton scored after taking a return pass from the left by Almiron. (78 minutes) It was Joelinton's first Premier League goal (and only his second of the season) since August. That previous goal had been scored at Spurs. The elated striker was replaced by Carroll.
This was both Newcastle's biggest Premier League win of the season and Sheffield United's biggest defeat.
Aston Villa 1 Chelsea 2
Chelsea dominated the early stages with regard to both possession and territory but the first moment of excitement came when Mason Mount hit a powerful shot from 20 yards which Nyland did well to push away from danger.
Nyland had a nasty moment after 31 minutes when he failed to hold a Kovacic shot and the ball rolled towards his line. The keeper recovered and held the ball. At the other end, El Ghazi got hold of a shot from nearly 25 yards and Arrizabalaga had to push the shot to safety. McGinn met a cross from the left and had a headed chance which he glanced wide across the goal.
After 38 minutes Mason Mount shimmied on the right of the area and crossed low and hard, but Loftus-Cheek could not quite get a touch. After receiving from Mount, Willian cut in from the right but hit his shot over the bar.
Villa surprisingly took a 43rd minute lead after a foul on Grealish in the middle. The free kick went to Grealish on the right. He passed back to Douglas Luiz who crossed. El Ghazi had a go, but the ball came back to Kortney Hause who fired home. It was Hause's first goal of the season, and his first Premier League goal. In first half added time Alonso had a shot blocked and Kovacic had a right footer from a corner, but that passed wide.
Chelsea equalised through substitute Pulisic after 60 minutes. Giroud had just missed a low cross by Azpilicueta at the near post, but another cross by the Chelsea skipper went to the back post where Pulisic converted. Within two minutes it was 2-1 when Giroud received a ball from the left and fired home a deflected shot. The assist was by Azpilicueta again, this time operating from the left of goal.
Chelsea seemed to be comfortably closing out the game, but Villa substitute Jota grabbed a shot which passed just wide of Arrizabalaga's left post in the 87th minute. In the closing stages of added time Grealish was fouled by Kante and there were shenanigans before Trezeguet could take the free kick which was held by Arrizabalaga.
At half-time Villa were out of the bottom three and West Ham were in, but Chelsea reversed this situation with their comeback.
Everton 0 Liverpool 0
Mo Salah was on the bench for Liverpool whilst Carlo Ancelotti gave 19-year-old Anthony Gordon a first Premier League start. Liverpool were also missing Andy Robertson. James Milner played at left back.
Richarlison had the first shot on goal after three minutes, firing just in front of the post across goal from the left. Minamino had a sighter at the other end. Matip put a free header wide after an Alexander-Arnold free kick as the half-hour mark approached. Richarlison went closer at the other end from a similar move, but he was offside in any case.
Firmino dragged a shot wide after 33 minutes, receiving the ball from his right. Liverpool had a free kick after 40 minutes, when Keane was booked for his foul on Mane. The kick was taken by Alexander-Arnold and saved well by Pickford low to his right.
At half-time Jurgen Klopp replaced Minamino with Oxlade-Chamberlain. Keita should have done better with a shot after a good work by Firmino, but the Liverpool midfielder hit his shot wide. Liverpool were certainly pressing harder early in this half.
Gylfi Sigurdsson replaced Gordon after 60 minutes. Richarlison skied a chance after a good ball by Calvert-Lewin. Digne was harshly booked for a challenge upon Mane just outside the area and Alexander-Arnold's free kick was deflected for a corner.
Having defended for most of the half, Everton came very close after 79 minutes. Richarlison crossed from the left and Calvert-Lewin's flick was saved but not held by Alisson. Davies followed up and hit the outside of the far post with his shot. Following a corner, Calvert-Lewin headed wide. Richarlison then had a chance on the left and might have teed up one of his team-mates but chose to shoot and saw his shot comfortably blocked.
Richarlison brought an end to a good little run by Oxlade-Chamberlain in added time and Fabinho's free kick was deflected out for a corner.
The points were shared, and assuming Man City beat Burnley, Liverpool will have to wait a little longer to secure that title.
Monday 22nd June, 2020
Manchester City 5 Burnley 0
Pep Guardiola had the luxury of making 8 changes to his starting line-up, and still fielding a strong side including Sergio Aguero. Sean Dyche just about managed to field a reasonable starting line-up, but his bench numbered seven of the permitted nine and included two goalkeepers. Strikers Chris Wood and Ashley Barnes were missing through injury, but other players were absent due to contracts ending next week and issues with the club not being resolved.
Burnley were the last Premier League team to take part in "Project Re-start". Their last game was the 1-1 home draw against Spurs on March 7th.
City dominated possession and took the lead after 22 minutes after a short corner on the right. The ball was sent to Foden, who scored with a well-placed left-footed shot from 22 yards, beating Pope's left hand.
Riyad Mahrez made it 2-0 in the 43rd minute when he made a run down the right flank and received a long ball out of defence by Fernandinho. Mahrez worked his way to the Burnley area, turned a couple of defenders, then planted a right footed shot across Pope's right hand.
VAR too a long time to review a tackle by Ben Mee on Aguero and decided it was a penalty which Mahrez converted with his left foot inside Pope's right post. Mee had gone for the ball but made heavy contact with Aguero's foot. Referee Andre Marriner had not blown for an offence. Aguero was replaced by Jesus.
It was 4-0 in the 51st minute after a City free kick which was touched to Foden. Foden fed the ball forward to Bernardo Silva on the right of the area, and his cross was hit into the roof of the net by City captain David Silva, for whom this is the last season at The Etihad.
With half an hour left Burnley brought a defender (Pieters) on for Rodriguez. City put on Laporte and De Bruyne for Fernandinho and Mahrez. Foden scored a second personal goal and City's fifth in the 63rd minute. Cork lost the ball in midfield; De Bruyne powered forward and there were passes by Bernardo Silva and Gabriel Jesus before Foden fired home from the left of the box.
There had been controversy at the start of the game (not shown by TV cameras) just after players and officials were taking a knee, when a plane flew overhead with a banner saying, "White Lives Matter, Burnley". Burnley Football Club issued a statement strongly condemning the action and the "offensive banner".
Fixtures & Results 17-22.06.20
Wednesday 17th June, 2020
A. Villa 0-0 Sheff Utd
Man City 3-0 Arsenal
Friday 19th June, 2020
Norwich 0-3 S'hampton
Spurs 1-1 Man Utd
Saturday 20th June, 2020
Watford 1-1 Leicester
Brighton 2-1 Arsenal
West Ham 0-2 Wolves
B'mouth 0-2 Crystal Palace
Sunday 21st June, 2020
Newcastle 3-0 Sheff Utd
A. Villa 1-2 Chelsea
Everton 0-0 Liverpool
Monday 22nd June, 2020
Man City 5-0 Burnley
Premier League Table
P W D L F-A GD Pts
1. Liverpool 30 27 2 1 66-21 45 83
2. Man City 30 20 3 7 76-31 45 63
3. Leicester 30 16 6 8 59-29 30 54
4. Chelsea 30 15 6 9 53-40 13 51
5. Man Utd 30 12 10 8 45-31 14 46
6. Wolves 30 11 13 6 43-34 9 46
7. Sheff Utd 30 11 11 8 30-28 2 44
8. Spurs 30 11 9 10 48-41 7 42
9. C. Palace 30 11 9 10 28-32 -4 42
10. Arsenal 30 9 13 8 41-41 0 40
11. Burnley 30 11 6 13 34-45 -11 39
12. Everton 30 10 8 12 37-46 -9 38
13. Newcastle 30 10 8 12 28-41 -13 38
14. S'hampton 30 11 4 15 38-52 -14 37
15. Brighton 30 7 11 12 34-41 -7 32
16. Watford 30 6 10 14 28-45 -17 28
17. West Ham 30 7 6 17 35-52 -17 27
18. B'mouth 30 7 6 17 29-49 -20 27
19. A. Villa 30 7 5 18 35-58 -23 26
20. Norwich 30 5 6 19 25-55 -30 21