Premier League Review – Matchday 18
Tuesday 12th January, 2021
Sheffield United 1 Newcastle United 0
Sheffield United got their much-awaited first league win of the season at the eighteenth attempt. Their next target is to beat Derby’s total of just 11 points in the 2007-08 season. Derby’s one win that season was 1-0 – over Newcastle! “The Blades” had to wait till the second half for their goal – a penalty – and were also grateful for the fact that Ryan Fraser was sent off for two yellow card offences at the end of the first half.
McGoldrick offered the first threat after 13 minutes when Darlow scrambled a bit to save the “Blades” striker’s right-footed shot after a good move started on the left flank. McGoldrick had another chance after half an hour when Ampadu crossed and the striker headed over. Three minutes before the break, Darlow saved Bogle’s left-footed shot hit from the right side of the box. Fraser was firstly booked for his foul on Fleck, then got a second yellow for a rash challenge from behind upon McGoldrick.
Billy Sharpe replaced Burke after 58 minutes, and when he and Fernandez challenged for the ball inside the Newcastle area VAR alerted referee Andy Madley who pointed to the spot after going to the monitor. Sharp scored inside Darlow’s right post with the keeper going the other way. Sharp has scored twice this season, both times from the penalty spot.
Callum Wilson headed on target after receiving from Hendrick, but Ramsdale saved. It was his first meaningful save of the night. A minute later Brewster had a chance for “The Blades” at the other end when his shot took a wicked deflection and had Darlow stranded as the ball rebounded off his right post. Jacob Murphy hit a late free kick for the “Toon”, but straight at Ramsdale. Ramsdale was more challenged by Bogle’s mis-placed attempt to chest down the ball, which ran past the post for a corner. Murphy hit a shot wide from 20 yards and Chris Wilder had his first league win of the season.
Burnley 0 Manchester United 1
United were looking for a win to take them above Liverpool who play their fixture in this round of games next week. Burnley obviously intended to make things as difficult as possible.
Sean Dyche's men worried United with several long diagonal balls into the area but United had the first real chance to score after 16 minutes when Shaw passed across the outside of the area and Bruno Fernandes hit a good shot on target, which Pope held. Wood had a great chance for Burnley five minutes later, but Bailly blocked the on-target shot.
Referee Kevin Friend twice had words with United skipper Harry Maguire, apparently over the behaviour of Cavani who was not happy with a couple of decisions, one of which was when he felt Ben Mee had gone into an aerial challenge arm first. There was lengthy consideration by VAR Stuart Attwell over incidents at either end of the field. One was where Gudmundsson was fouled by Luke Shaw. The other was for a challenge by Brady on Cavani outside the Burnley area. After viewing the monitor, a yellow card shown to Brady was rescinded, and one was shown to Shaw. Brady might otherwise have been considered guilty of preventing a goal-scoring opportunity.
Following a United short corner and a subsequent cross by Shaw, Harry Maguire headed into the net, but Kevin Friend ruled that Maguire had fouled Pieters. VAR supported the referee. Mee blocked another effort by Cavani when the ball hit him in the face. Pope made a very good left-handed save from Martial's right-footer hit from the corner of the sea after Cavani's pass from the centre.
The first chance of the second half fell to Cavani after 51 minutes following a sweeping move from the halfway line started by Pogba with the ball then reaching Cavani via Fernandes and Martial. The Uruguayan International could not get full strength on his shot and Pope saved. Pope saved again four minutes lasted, this time from a left-footed Fernandes shot after taking Wan-Bissaka's pass. Pope also saved from Fernandes after 59 minutes, pushing the ball away to his left.
Cavani had a good chance following a corner but pushed his left-footed shot too far across the goal. (66 mins) The deadlock was broken in the 71st minute by Paul Pogba. Rashford crossed from the right of the box and Pogba caught the ball well with his right foot on the edge of the box, beating Pope with a deflected shot.
Brownhill at last worried De Gea with a shot after 84 minutes which curved a yard away from the keeper's left post. Substitute Vydra had a shot deflected out for a corner a couple of minutes later. Martial had a chance to make it 2-0 in added time when Cavani teed him up, but he fired straight at Pope.
United's win sets up their next game on Sunday at Anfield nicely.
Wolverhampton Wanderers 1 Everton 2
Everton climbed back into the top four overnight with this win, whilst Wolves find themselves in the wrong half of the table. Calvert-Lewin was absent with a hamstring injury and Richarlison was on the bench. Ancelotti chose Sigurdsson and James Rodriguez as his two front men. It was disclosed this week that Rodriguez was actually acquired lst summer from Real Madrid on a free transfer, but his wages are on the high scale!
Everton had the lead inside 6 minutes. Rodriguez hit a lovely cross-field pass from the right which was quickly returned to the area by Digne. Iwobi scored with a stabbed low shot with his right foot inside the keeper’s right post. Wolves equalised following their first corner of the game in the 14th minute. The ball reached left back Ait-Nouri at the back of the area. He pulled the ball back across the area with power and Ruben Neves hit a first-time shot with the same power. Three minutes later Pickford got down well and saved low to his right from Fabio Silva’s shot.
Everton had a corner on the right which was returned into the area by Andre Gomes. Keane met the cross and headed home with power. (77 mins) There was no social distancing in the huddled celebrations, and this is an issue which has been attracting comment from the Premier League and Government authorities this week. At the time of the goal that was the only attempt on target by either team in the second half. Neves had a free kick after handball by Doucoure, and the ball was hit well from over yards, but just grazed the outside of Pickford’s left post.
Wednesday 13th January, 2021
Manchester City 1 Brighton & Hove Albion 0
Normal order is gradually being restored in the Premier League. Although the scoreline was not convincing, and substitute Raheem Sterling failed with an added-time penalty kick, City have climbed to third with this win, and they still have a game in hand over United and Liverpool above them. Guardiola went with an opening front three of Mahrez, De Bruyne and Foden. Brighton also had a front three with no recognised striker - Tau, Mac Allister, and Trossard. 26-year-old Percy Tau was making his Premier League debut and had been recalled from loan with Anderlecht. Brighton were short on personnel with Maupay one of the few familiar names on the Brighton bench.
De Bruyne had a shot saved by Sanchez after a one-two with Gundogan. Sanchez was making his sixth consecutive Premier League appearance. Sanchez saved well again late in the first half after De Bruyne and Foden raced forward following a rare Brighton corner. It was De Bruyne’s right—footed shot that Sanchez saved. It looked as if the “Seagulls” would hold out until half-time, but in the 44th minute De Bruyne hit a ball forward to Foden who placed his shot well inside the keeper’s right post.
Following another Brighton corner in the second half, Propper hit a decent shot from outside the area, but the ball was hit straight at Ederson. Mahrez hit a shot wide cross the goal from the right-hand side. Sanchez saved well from Gundogan and from the free ball Bernardo Silva hit the post. Cancelo forged a chance for himself after entering the Brighton area, but hit his shot straight at the keeper, who parried. Sanchez saved again, low to his right from De Bruyne and the ball ran to a defender’s feet.
In added time Sanchez dived to the feet of De Bruyne, who was brought down, and City had a penalty. Sterling hit the spot-kick over the bar.
Spurs 1 Fulham 1
Unsurprisingly, manager Jose Mourinho drew many comments, not all of which are suitable for publication. Here are a selection:-
"What is it about the psychology of our second half performances? As Einstein wrote it is insanity to think repeating the same activities will bring something different. Mourinho needs to get a grip on this now."
"Poor choices Jose, the Tottenham fans do not like or enjoy this football, even if you somehow put silverware in the cabinet, the true fans will still be disgruntled"
"Surely time to see Bale and Dele doing some showboating?"
The following general comment covers a lot of territory:-
Hugo was great! Aurier was solid. Sanchez likewise! Dier was strong, while Reguilon was MOTM! (Confirmed by your votes). Reguilon was outstanding and with assist, and a goal disallowed really deserved to be on winning side! Hojbjerg was consistent but not as creative as he can be. Moussa had an off day! Winks played well and nearly scored with excellent speculative shot. Son is not a machine but was unlucky with shot on goal. Mourinho himself should have had Dele in for Sissoko - easy to say but the creativity/guile and drive would be good!
Thursday 14th January, 2021
Arsenal 0 Crystal Palace 0
There was very little action worthy of reporting here. The first real effort on goal came from an Aubameyang shot after a 20th minute corner. Guaita managed to push that away safely. Benteke had a couple of shots. One was weak. The other was well over the target. Palace had a free kick taken by Eze after 38 minutes and Tomkins headed against the bar. Leno saved well from a Benteke header, diving to his left after 41 minutes.
Most of the action was in the middle of the park, and whilst Arsenal dominated possession, they couldn’t find a way past the stubborn and resilient Palace side. Left back Maitland-Niles at least had a shot on target after 62 minutes but hit it straight at Guaita. He was soon replaced by Pepe, as Arteta tried to enhance his attacking options.
This was a fourth consecutive clean sheet for Arsenal and a second consecutive clean sheet in League games for Palace. Both teams remain in the bottom half of the table.
Tuesday 12th January, 2021
Sheff Utd 1-0 Newcastle
Burnley 0-1 Man Utd
Wolves 1-2 Everton
Wednesday 13th January, 2021
Man City 1-0 Brighton
Spurs 1-1 Fulham
Thursday 14th January, 2021
Arsenal 0-0 C. Palace
Premier League Table
P W D L F-A GD Pts
1. Man Utd 17 11 3 3 34-24 10 36
2. Liverpool 17 9 6 2 37-21 16 33
3. Man City 16 9 5 2 25-13 12 32
4. Leicester 17 10 2 5 31-21 10 32
5. Everton 17 10 2 5 28-21 7 32
6. Spurs 17 8 6 3 30-16 14 30
6. S'hampton 17 8 5 4 26-19 7 29
8. A. Villa 15 8 2 5 29-16 13 26
9. Chelsea 17 7 5 5 32-21 11 26
10. West Ham 17 7 5 5 24-21 3 26
11. Arsenal 18 7 3 8 20-19 1 24
12. Leeds 17 7 2 8 30-33 -3 23
13. C. Palace 18 6 5 7 22-29 -7 23
14. Wolves 18 6 4 8 19-26 -7 22
15. Newcastle 17 5 4 8 18-27 -9 19
16. Burnley 16 4 4 8 9-21 -12 16
17. Brighton 18 2 8 8 21-29 -8 14
18. Fulham 16 2 6 8 14-24 -10 12
19. West Brom 17 1 5 11 11-39 -28 8
20. Sheff Utd 18 1 2 15 9-29 -20 5