Premier League Review – Matchday 21
Saturday 30th January, 2021
Everton 0 Newcastle United 2
Seamus Coleman and Lucas Digne played as traditional full backs in an Everton side which had four changes, with Sigurdsson and Iwobi included in the midfield. Doucoure also returned after suspension. Steve Bruce made only once change with Manquillo replacing Murphy at right back. Saint-Maximin remained on the bench.
Newcastle captain Lascelles was booked for an early foul on Richarlison and after the free kick James Rodriguez crossed with Yerry Mina challenging for the ball which goalkeeper Darlow just managed to clear. Darlow made a good save to his right when Richarlison hit a right-footed shot from 20 yards after 21 minutes.
Newcastle were keeping a good shape and also getting forward. Shelvey won a corner after 23 minutes with a low shot which was deflected to pass just outside Pickford’s right post. Pickford saved well with his left hand pushing Wilson's header over after a corner by Fraser. Sigurdsson was booked for a foul on Wilson just outside the area, but Shelvey put the free kick just over the bar.
Everton then had a couple of chances with Darlow saving from Rodriguez after good play by Calvert-Lewin and Richarlison putting a shot just wide of the post.
Callum Wilson had more touches than Calvert-Lewin in the first half and after 52 minutes he had the first chance of the second half, following a good move started with Jamal Lewis’s long diagonal ball, eventually crossed well by Fraser into Wilson's path. The shot passed wide.
The injured Lascelles had to be replaced by Ciaran Clark. Saint-Maximin took over from Ryan Fraser after 66 minutes. It was no surprise when Newcastle scored in the 73rd minute. Callum Wilson rose to meet Jonjo Shelvey's corner taken from the right and headed into the net across Pickford.
Newcastle had another great chance after 86 minutes. Jonjo Shelvey picked up a loose Everton ball in the middle and hit a quick instinctive diagonal ball which Almiron quickly turned into Wilson's path. Wilson was on the left of the area and hit a shot which took a slight deflection going out for a corner off the post. There was no late offside flag either.
Wilson had a second personal goal and a match-winning goal for Newcastle in the third minute of added time. Newcastle broke well from deep on the left and Lewis was released, quickly sending an excellent cross to Wilson who was able to pick his spot, scoring to the right of Pickford.
After five consecutive defeats and the midweek home defeat by Leeds, this was a crucial win for Steve Bruce and his team. Everton failed to create enough chances and were often frustrated in terms of their actions and temperament by solid Newcastle defending. The defeat raises queries about Everton’s top four credentials.
Crystal Palace 1 Wolverhampton Wanderers 0
Crystal Palace leap-frogged Wolves with their first win since 2nd January. Wolves gave a first start to Willian Jose, their loan signing from Real Sociedad, but they are without a league win in 8 games now.
There were no goals in the first half with Palace having just a few chances and a failed penalty appeal by Zaha who fell too easily when Coady challenged. The first shot on target by either side came after 55 minutes from the new man Willian Jose whose shot from Hoever’s cross needed a good save by Guaita.
Eze scored the only goal of the game on the hour. Clyne had passed inside from the right and Joran Ayew fed the ball along the edge of the box to Eze, who dummied well before planting a form left-footed shot past Rui Patricio. It was Palace’s first shot on target.
Neto had a shot on target, but that was easy for the Palace keeper. Wilfried Zaha hit the underside of the bar after he and Batshuayi broke forward in tandem. Traore won a corner on the right after 78 minutes and when this was taken Willian Jose (clearly designed to be a Jimenez replacement) headed down powerfully, only to see Guaita make a good save. A shot by Semedo from the edge of the area was comfortable for Guaita and Palace had the points.
Manchester City 1 Sheffield United 0
Kyle Walker was back in the City side playing against his old team. Other City changes included the return of Laporte and Fernandinho to the starting line-up. Ferran Torres and Gabriel Jesus returned up front. The City bench included Stones, Sterling, Rodri, Mahrez and Cancelo. Chris Wilder made four changes with John Egan returning following suspension. Bogle was at wing-back whilst Brewster and Burke started in attack.
City had the lead after 8 minutes. Torres won a battle for the ball with Bogle inside the area on the right bye-line. The City man also beat a second defender (Ampadu) before hitting a cross which presented Gabriel Jesus with a close range finish. More dodgy defending presented Bernardo Silva with a headed chance in front of goal after 15 minutes, but Ramsdale held safely.
The pattern of the game was mostly backs to the wall by United , who did restrict City's opportunities for the first half. Brewster even had a shot on target which was held by Ederson.
City came very close to scoring after 55 minutes when Torres sent in a cross from deep on the right which was met in front of goal by Jesus, but Ramsdale was also on the spot and came out with the ball in his hands. Kyle Walker sent in a long ball for Torres to chase and the City man did get deep inside the area but put the ball out of play under pressure from Bogle and Egan. (67 mins)
After a good move and a final pass from Foden on the left, the advancing Zinchenko hit a powerful shot, well saved by Ramsdale diving to his left. Ramsdale saved again after the corner, pushing over Laporte's header.
Chris Wilder's substitutions meant that he had Sharp, McGoldrick and McBurnie on the field for the last 10 minutes during which he no doubt hoped to grab an equaliser. Brewster, Burke, and Basham had been the players to make way. They did have a great effort after 85 minutes when Egan lifted a long ball to Sharp, who touched it back to Fleck. Fleck hit a powerful shot from 20 yards just outside Ederson's left post.
In added time Ramsdale made a terrific save diving to his left to deny Gabriel Jesus, who had been fed the ball by Foden. The "Blades" could be proud they kept City down to one goal, and their late plan to try and grab a draw nearly worked.
West Bromwich Albion 2 Fulham 2
This was, of course, a “six-pointer”, and as often happens the match was drawn, leaving both sides somewhat disappointed. Sam Allardyce was relieved to get his first home point with his new team, who had fallen behind their bottom three rivals in the first half. Sam did have a new loan signing Mbaye Diagne from Galatasaray on the bench. Scott Parker recalled Aleksandar Mitrovic to start a Premier League game for the first time since 19th December.
Fulham took the lead with a nicely worked goal after 10 minutes. Lookman hit a long diagonal ball from the left which Mitrovic received and controlled well, quickly passing to Decordova-Reid to his right, who scored with a low shot. Decordova-Reid nearly scored again 8 minutes later, receiving a pass from Loftus-Cheek before unleashing a shot that rebounded off the far post. Mitrovic fed a ball to Lookman who ran from 35 yards out into the area, losing his balance under pressure from Ajayi before hitting a shot which Johnstone did well to save. Fulham would rue these missed opportunities to add to their lead.
Diagne came on for Robinson at half-time. West Brom hadn’t had a meaningful shot on goal in the first half. Two minutes into the second half they had their first home goal since Allardyce took over. It was scored by defender Bartley, who turned in Pereira’s cross from the left. The “Baggies” had the led after 66 minutes and this time it was Pereira who met a cross from the right by new man Diagne, turning a shot into the net. Bartley was forward again and hit a shot just in front of the line across the goalmouth minutes later. Fulham equalised in the 77th minute when Harrison Reid hit a good cross from deep on the right and this was converted well by substitute Cavaleiro with a diving header.
Arsenal 0 Manchester United 0
Arsenal were still without Aubameyang, "following the Covid rules" and they also missed Tierney due to injury. Lacazette led the line again. Arsenal had loan signing Martin Odegaard (from Real Madrid) on the bench. United had Lindelof and Shaw back in defence, and chose McTominay and Fred in midfield, with Pogba, Fernandes and Rashford behind Cavani.
The first test for either goalkeeper came after 15 minutes when Lacazette latched onto a shot from 25 yards, but it was hit straight at De Gea. The first corner came five minutes later after which Leno dived and got his fingertips to a long curving shot by Fred. Nothing came of corner number two.
Youth is working well for Arsenal. Martinelli made a desperate lunge to successfully head the ball away from Rashford as he set himself to shoot. Smith-Rowe made a good run down the middle and sent Pepe away down the right channel. Pepe cut inside and hit his left foot shot just wide.
Bruno Fernandes got the better of David Luiz inside the Arsenal area, but put his shot wide. McTominay had been struggling with stomach pain and had to be replaced by Martial after 36 minutes. That allowed Pogba to fall back next to Fred.
Three minutes before half-time United put Xhaka under pressure and Rashford was in a goal-scoring position near Leno's left post. The goalkeeper and his defenders managed to prevent Rashford's shot, but United did win a free kick 20 yards out, which was deflected over the goal by the wall.
Mikel Arteta replaced Martinelli with Willian after the interval. Willian had a good chance but fluffed his lines three minutes into the half after a cross by Bellerin reached the Brazilian in space beyond the back post. A minute later Pepe's shot was well blocked by Harry Maguire in the middle of his area.
United went close when Cavani tried to get hold of a short cross by Shaw, but a corner resulted. Lacazette was fouled by Maguire just outside the area and rattled the bar when he took the free kick after 64 minutes. Only a minute later Lacazette passed to Smith-Rowe whose shot was saved by De Gea and parried to safety. Pogba had a shot deflected and comfortably saved at the other end.
Maguire was booked for another foul on Lacazette, but this one was further out, and David Luiz's effort was firmly deflected for a corner. Rashford hit the side netting with his shot after 79 minutes. He was immediately replaced by Greenwood. At the other end Pepe received a pass from Bellerin, who was on the inside line. Pepe sought to place his shot inside the far post, but it passed only a foot wide.
The new man Odegaard came on for Smith-Rowe with 8 minutes to play. Willian was fouled by Wan-Bissaka just outside the right edge of the area. Cedric took the free kick which passed over the target. Wan-Bissaka’s crossed from the right to the near post at the other end and Cavani put a scissor kick wide with Martial right behind him.
There was a collision in the middle between Maguire and Lacazette when the latter fell badly and came off worst. He was replaced by Nketiah and we had extra added time. Fred hit a shot wide from outside the area after the ball was fed back by Cavani.
The spoils were shared which was the best result for other teams battling for a top four place, or even the title.
Southampton 0 Aston Villa 1
Southampton have slipped into the bottom half after two consecutive defeats. Things won’t get easier too soon as they face a midweek trip to Old Trafford for their next game. Perhaps the “Saints” are missing the injured Kyle Walker-Peters?
Clever play by Danny Ings inside the Villa box after 8 minutes gave Armstrong a chance and Southampton wanted handball for Matty Cash’s interception. Their request was denied by referee Lee Mason and VAR as the ball ran up onto Cash’s arm off his thigh. Southampton put the Villa defence under pressure five minutes later with a low cross by Redmond, a shot which was blocked from Armstrong and finally a Romeu shot which passed wide.
The home side were offering most of the pressure and had more opportunities with Cash clearing a cross off the feet of Ings, and an Armstrong shot being saved at the post. Finally, Bertrand came forward to offer a shot which was just outside then post. Watkins had a shot on the turn saved well by McCarthy after 38 minutes. Villa took the lead with a super header by Ross Barkley who raced forward onto Grealish’s cross from the left. (41 mins) McCarthy had to save again from Watkins after Barkley had passed to the Villa striker.
Martinez made a double-handed save from Che Adams after 70 minutes, following a neat short forward pass by Ings. Armstrong and Redmond had shots off target. Following a corner taken by Redmond, Martinez saved a header by Bednarek and follow-up shots by Adams and Stephens were blocked as the “Saints” tried desperately to level the scores. They thought they had scored in added time when Martinez saved brilliantly from Bertrand, but Ings followed-up to put the ball in the net. However, the flag was raised, and VAR found Ings marginally offside.
Sunday 31st January, 2021
Chelsea 2 Burnley 0
New coach Thomas Tuchel rang the changes, choosing a back three of Azpilicueta, Thiago Silva and Rudiger, with Hudson-Odoi at right wing-back and Alonso on the left. Alonso was making only his fourth start of the season and his first appearance since September. Tuchel chose a front three of Mount, Abraham and Werner maintaining his faith with Jorginho and Kovacic in front of the defence. Sean Dyche made two changes, bringing in Vydra for a second start of the season, in place of Rodriguez and giving Jack Cork a first start of the season in midfield.
Burnley offered no threat in the first half, or for much of the game, truth be told. However, Chelsea took until the 40th minute to open the scoring. The goal came at the end of a good move with Jorginho sending Mount away, and after his pass to Hudson-Odoi the ball was fed to the advancing captain Azpilicueta, who drove home a rasping shot from an angle on the right.
Werner had a header on target easily saved by Pope after 52 minutes. The cross had been provided by the impressive Hudson-Odoi, who hit the post with a deflected shot five minutes later. Pulisic pulled a shot just wide of Pope’s right post after another Hudson-Odoi cross. Rudiger brought the ball out of the Chelsea half and passed to Alonso on the left in the 84th minute. Alonso passed forward to Pulisic then made a run into the area to receive Pulisic’s pass and hook the ball high into the net with his left-foot shot. It was a happy return to the side for a player seemingly cast aside by Frank Lampard.
Leicester City 1 Leeds United 3
Brendan Rodgers was already missing Jamie Vardy and now he had to replace the injured Ndidi with Nampalys Mendy. For Leeds, the injured defender Llorente, who only made his first start in the last game, was replaced by Struijk.
After a quiet start Leicester took the lead in the 13th minute with an excellent goal scored by Harvey Barnes. He had made a good run from just inside the Leicester half and after a return pass from Maddison, Barnes turned and placed a good shot inside Meslier's right post. Leeds bounced back immediately. Ayling advanced down the right wing and passed inside to Bamford who quickly turned the ball into the path of Stuart Dallas who scored with a right-footed shot from just inside the area.
Perez had the ball in the net from a Maddison pass after 19 minutes, but he had been offside. Rodrigo had been trying to run off an injury but had to be replaced by Klich.
Leeds were enjoying plenty of possession and when Harrison's shot took a deflection and looped towards goal, Schmeichel hesitated because he thought Bamford was going to get a touch, but the keeper was able to collect the ball on his line. Harrison took a long ball from Klich and hit a left foot shot directly at Schmeichel who saved, conceding a corner, from which Bamford's header hit the bar, after a touch by Schmeichel. Klich was beneath the ball and put it in the net, but he had been offside when Bamford headed the ball.
Raphinha forced a save by Schmeichel with a right foot shot after taking a pass from Bamford and Leeds won another corner. Rodgers was looking concerned.
Albrighton carried the ball on a diagonal from right to left and was in the box for Perez's short ball, forcing a save by Meslier with his shot. Castagne was struggling with injury and was replaced by Ricardo Pereira after 36 minutes.
Leicester threatened after 43 minutes when Albrighton sent in a low ball from the right of the Leeds area. Perez got a touch and Maddison was nearby when Meslier just managed to grab the ball.
Brendan Rodgers made another change after the interval with centre-back Soyuncu coming on for Albrighton which indicated a switch to a back three and Ricardo and Justin operating as wing-backs.
Leicester were looking more solid and gained possession but few chances early in the second half. Tielemans came closest with a low shot from 22 yards after 61 minutes. Meslier saved low to his left.
Patrick Bamford gave Leicester a shock in the 70th minute when he scored his 11th league goal of the season (8 of them have been away), taking a pass from Raphinha before despatching a left foot shot high into Schmeichel’s net. After a Leicester free kick three minutes later Fofana came close inside the area, but a corner was the result. Soyuncu headed just wide of the far post from the corner taken on the right. Meslier soon had to make saves from Perez and Mendy.
Brendan Rodgers reverted to a back four putting Under on for Fofana. Leicester were putting the pressure on, but when Leeds blocked a free kick, they broke rapidly from their own half with Dallas passing to Klich who sent Bamford away with a pass made while Bamford was still in his own half. Bamford was goal-bound, but Harrison kept up with his run and gratefully accepted the gift of a pass and an open goal. The game was up for Leicester.
In his post-match interview Bamford said he had even picked himself in his own fantasy team, referring to his unselfish but sensible pass to the goal scorer.
West Ham United 1 Liverpool 3
Liverpool’s centre-back pairing was Nat Phillips and Jordan Henderson. There was no Mane up front either. Jurgen Klopp described Mane's problem as "Nothing too serious " but enough to keep him out of today's game. Shaqiri was also in the front three, with Firmino on the bench. West Ham were unchanged from their midweek win over Palace. Even their 9-man bench was the same!
Liverpool dominated the early possession, but West Ham came closest to scoring midway through the first half with both Benrahma and Fornals having shots blocked. There had been little goalmouth action but a minute before the break Thiago crossed from the left and Origi met the ball at the near post and fired wide.
Salah had a shot blocked three minutes into the second half after Origi crossed short from the left. Origi then had a right foot shot hit the side netting after receiving a pass by Salah. Antonio had a good chance after 55 minutes with a right foot shot inside the area but pushed the ball wide.
Jurgen Klopp put on Curtis Jones for Milner and Jones was involved in the move which gave Salah a chance from the right of the area. He did not fail with a shot around Fabianski and inside his right post. (57 minutes)
West Ham responded well, winning a few corners, and putting the Liverpool defence under pressure, but in the 68th minute after a long ball out of defence by Jones, Shaqiri was away down the left flank. Salah was ahead of him in the middle and received Shaqiri's excellent pass, before scoring with a sublime finish which consisted of one touch with his right foot before delicately planting his left foot shot beyond Fabianski's right hand.
Liverpool added a third goal in the 84th minute with a great move approaching the right side of the area. There was a one-two between substitutes Firmino and Oxlade-Chamberlain before Firmino teed up Wijnaldum with a short pass, leading to a nice finish. West Ham replied in the 87th minute when Craig Dawson was allowed the space in the middle of the area to sweep home a corner.
Brighton & Hove Albion 1 Spurs 0
I have no message of consolation following this defeat. Spurs Odyssey voters. regarded Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg as our best player, with the courageous Toby Alderweireld a close second. I have particular empathy with the second of the below comments from contributors to the survey:-
“Out thought, out fought, out played by Brighton who had freedom of the pitch and VIP tickets to space in our box. We apparently had no tickets to their box and were refused entry. Our performance was epitomised in the first half not by the zero shots on target, but it what was probably our first decent possession. We ponderously worked the ball up to Brighton's box, then back again, finishing with a 35 yard pass back to the unmarked Loris who looked the only option.”
“Finally, in the last few weeks, it has now become a routine to apologise to the wife at the end of Spurs' games, for venting my frustrations while watching them.”
“As usual the setting up is defensive and unable to transition quickly into attack. The game plan is predictable - every PL manager knows what to expect. There is no plan B or C. We throw on an attacking player as a sub hoping to snatch a lucky goal.”
You probably don’t need the figures to confirm this, but this was Spurs’ worst performance under Jose Mourinho and his worst performance as our head coach. Last season’s worst grades were awarded in relation to our away defeat to Chelsea in December 2019, which does not augur well for Thursday night’s home game!
Things can only get better, can’t they?
Saturday 30th January, 2021
Everton 0-2 Newcastle
C. Palace 1-0 Wolves
Man City 1-0 Sheff Utd
West Brom 2-2 Fulham
Arsenal 0-0 Man Utd
S'hampton 0-1 A. Villa
Sunday 31st January, 2021
Chelsea 2-0 Burnley
Leicester 1-3 Leeds
West Ham 1-3 Liverpool
Brighton 1-0 Spurs
Premier League Table
P W D L F-A GD Pts
1. Man City 20 13 5 2 37-13 24 44
2. Man Utd 21 12 5 4 37-27 10 41
3. Liverpool 21 11 7 3 43-24 19 40
4. Leicester 21 12 3 6 37-25 12 39
5. West Ham 21 10 5 6 31-27 4 35
6. Spurs 20 9 6 5 34-21 13 33
7. Chelsea 21 9 6 6 35-23 12 33
8. Everton 19 10 3 6 29-24 5 33
9. A. Villa 19 10 2 7 34-21 13 32
10. Arsenal 21 9 4 8 26-20 6 31
11. S'hampton 20 8 5 7 27-25 2 29
12. Leeds 20 9 2 9 35-36 -1 29
13. C. Palace 21 7 5 9 25-36 -11 26
14. Wolves 21 6 5 10 21-30 -9 23
15. Newcastle 21 6 4 11 21-34 -13 22
16. Burnley 20 6 4 10 13-26 -13 22
17. Brighton 21 4 9 8 23-29 -6 21
18. Fulham 20 2 8 10 17-29 -12 14
19. West Brom 21 2 6 13 17-50 -33 12
20. Sheff Utd 21 2 2 17 12-34 -22 8