Premier League Review – Matchday 22
Tuesday 2nd February, 2021
Sheffield United 2 West Bromwich Albion 1
Sheffield United have now won three of their last five league games to draw within a point of their opponents tonight, who had taken a first half lead. Chris Wilder said his side were "alive and kicking and fighting for their lives" after this win, although they are still 11 points away from safety after this round of games.
There had been little goalmouth action, but Johnstone had to dive to his left to punch away a shot by Ampadu after 34 minutes. West Brom took the lead in the 41st minute. Snodgrass hit a pass down the left channel for Robinson, whose shot was saved but parried by Ramsdale. New signing Diagne’s follow-up was also saved by the “Blades”’ keeper but he couldn’t stop Matt Phillips scoring his first Premier League goal since December 2019.
Bogle equalised in the 56th minute with a left-foot shot just inside Johnstone’s left-hand post after “The Baggies” had failed to clear Sharp’s cross from the right. Sheffield United put more pressure on the West Brom goal, but the move ended with a tame shot by Fleck. Phillips crossed from the right at the other end and Robinson got on the end of it, with Ramsdale making a brilliant reaction save. Billy Sharp scored the winner in the 73rd minute. Fleck and Basham had combined on the right before Basham crossed. The ball fell to Sharp after a couple of defensive touches, and he did not fail with a low right-footed shot.
Wolverhampton Wanderers 2 Arsenal 1
Arsenal had two players sent off and Wolves won for the first time in 9 league games. Wolves also completed a league “double” over Arsenal.
Saka hit the post after only one minute, taking a long ball sent by Partey from the Arsenal half, before hitting Rui Patricio’s right-hand post with his shot. Saka thought he had scored in the 8th minute, taking Lacazette’s cross from the right before scoring inside the same post from the edge of the area. However, Lacazette had been offside when the ball had been crossed to him.
Semedo hit a shot from 25 yards which Leno saved well to his right midway through the first half. In pouring rain Smith-Rowe almost reached the bye-line inside the area on the left, passing back to Pepe whose shot was very well saved by the Wolves keeper, who pushed the ball out off the bar. A corner resulted. Saka was denied a penalty by referee Craig Pawson when challenged by Boly, but Arsenal finally had the lead through a solo goal by Pepe who beat two players as he entered the Wolves area on the left before scoring with his right foot shot across goal in the 32nd minute.
In first half added time David Luiz was shown his third red card in his Arsenal career (less than two seasons) when Podence put Willian Jose through and the Arsenal player clipped his heel. The Arsenal player might claim it was accidental, but there is no doubt it was a penalty, from which Neves scored.
Joao Moutinho took Leno by surprise with an absolute corker of a goal, scored from 28 yards beating Leno’s right hand and rebounding into the net off the post. (49 minutes) It was Moutinho’s first goal since November 2019. Leno saved a shot by Willian Jose after 71 minutes. The shot was hit with power from 20 yards, but straight at the keeper. A minute later, Leno was sent off for handball outside his area when he cleared Semedo’s long ball intended for Traore. Arsenal were down to 9 men and had to replace an outfield player (Partey) with Runarsson. Runarsson managed to save a Neto shot with his legs at his right post, but he knows that his club recently signed Mat Ryan on loan from Brighton to strengthen their goalkeeper reserves.
Arsenal subsequently failed with an appeal against David Luiz’s red card.
Manchester United 9 (NINE) Southampton 0
Ralf Hasenhuttl’s side suffered the ignominy of losing two games by a record score in little more than 15 months. They lost at home to Leicester in October 2019 and now suffered a similar embarrassment tonight. There were mitigating circumstances insofar as “The Saints” started this game with a weak side and a young bench. They were missing Kyle Walker-Peters, Vestergaard, Romeu, Walcott, all of whom would normally be starters plus another 5 potential starters. In less than two minutes they had lost 19-year-old Swiss under-21 midfielder Alexandre Jankewitz, who was sent off for a horrible thigh-high challenge upon Scott McTominay. Jankewitz’s raked stud-mark wounds could clearly be seen on McTominay’s thigh. This had been Jankewitz’s first start. It’s hard to see when he will make another one. That will not be for three games at least. To add to their pain Southampton would become the second team on this day to have a second player sent off when referee Mike Dean showed Jan Bednarek a straight red late in the game.
It took United 18 minutes to score their first goal. That came when Shaw crossed from the left and Wan-Bissaka sneaked in and scored from close range for only his second club goal. It was 2-0 seven minutes later when Mason Greenwood cut the ball back on the left of the area and Rashford poked in a shot. Southampton had a free kick after Cavani fouled Djenepo after a Southampton corner. De Gea made a super save to deny dead ball ace James Ward-Prowse. Bednarek turned a Rashford cross into his own net in the 34th minute, and Cavani had a simple header for goal number four after 39 minutes. Shaw had crossed from the left. Mike Dean pointed to the penalty spot when 20-year-old right back Kane Ramsay fouled Cavani, but VAR made that a free kick. That was a reprieve as Fernandes hit a poor free kick into the feet of the wall.
Che Adams thought he had scored a good right-footed goal after 53 minutes when he ran onto a Southampton free kick, but he was denied by VAR for offside when that kick had been taken. It was still 4-0 in the 69th minute but Martial got the better of both Bednarek and Stephens to score from the right of the goal area with a shot into the roof of the net, after Fernandes had chipped in a pass. Two minutes later McTominay made it 6-0. Greenwood’s shot had been well saved by McCarthy but when the ball ran out to McTominay he scored with a powerful low drive from a good 25 yards, beating the unsighted McCarthy to his left.
Adams had a legitimate chance to score after a cross by Redmond but hit his shot over the target from only 12 yards. Martial lifted a shot just wide of the far post at The Stretford End. There was some controversy surrounding United’s seventh goal. Mike Dean pointed to the spot when Martial went down under Bednarek’s challenge. Bednarek pleaded (with some justification) that he had tried to avoid contact. VAR drew Mr. Dean to the screen (suggesting that VAR had sympathy with Bednarek). The referee stuck by his decision and also showed Bednarek a red card for denying a goal-scoring opportunity. Fernandes hopped, skipped, and jumped his way to make it 7-0 with his 16th penalty goal for United since his debut on 1st February last year.
Goal number 8 was a close-range right foot Martial shot from Wan-Bissaka’s cross and in the third minute of added time the rout was completed when Fernandes returned Greenwood’s long ball into the 6-yard box where substitute James snapped up the opportunity.
This was United’s second 9-0 in the Premier League, as they beat Ipswich by that score in 1995. Ipswich did have eleven men for the whole game. Southampton subsequently successfully appealed Bednarek’s red card and he will be available for their next game.
Newcastle United 1 Crystal Palace 2
Despite taking an early lead, Newcastle suffered a 12th defeat of the season and slipped another place down the table. Maybe when they play a depleted Southampton side at the weekend they can do better.
That early goal came in the second minute. It followed skill on the left by Almiron who lifted a cross to Wilson, who headed the ball back to the feet of Shelvey who scored with a rocket of a right foot from 20 yards. It was Jonjo’s first Premier League goal of the season. Wilson nearly scored after 28 minutes and this followed another move on the left started by more Almiron skill, before Ryan Fraser crossed to his old Bournemouth team-mate. Wilson hit a flicked shot with his back to goal, but the ball went over the target.
Riedewald scored only his second league goal for Palace with a powerful drive from 22 yards after Van Aanholt’s cross had been half-cleared, following a good Palace build-up down the left channel. (21 mins) Four minutes later it was 2-1 to Palace. Jordan Ayew had been fouled out on the right wing. Eze took the free kick and Gary Cahill hit a powerful header across the goalkeeper. It was 35-year-old Cahill’s first Palace goal. Guaita made a good save from Fraser who had run onto Wilson’s pass before trying to lift his shot past the keeper.
There was no addition to the scoreline in the second half where the closest to a goal came from substitute Townsend who received a ball from Riedewald and had an open goal but fired wide. It was a glaring miss.
Wednesday 3rd February, 2021
Tonight’s games were preceded by a minute’s applause for Captain Sir Tom Moore who died this week aged 100. “Captain Tom” became a legendary figure last year when he raised some £32 million for NHS funds and raised public spirits in the early stages of the Covid-19 pandemic. The nation had been urged to "clap for Captain Tom" on this day.
Burnley 0 Manchester City 2
City have charged three points clear at the top of the table, and significantly seven points ahead of Liverpool who they play on Sunday. City have now won 13 consecutive games in league and cup matches.
City had the lead inside three minutes. Sterling passed inside the area to Bernardo Silva on the left. His shot was saved but parried by Pope allowing Gabriel Jesus to head into the net. Goal number two was in the 38th minute. This one followed a move from the right, with Mahrez passing inside to Gundogan who crossed low and hard into the six-yard-area for Sterling to finish.
It was one-way traffic with City not adding to their score. Sterling was one on one against the keeper after a great long ball by Gundogan from the City half, but Pope saved with his leg. Mahrez had the ball in the net following Jesus’s ball, but was offside. This was City’s eighth consecutive win over Burnley and in the previous seven they had averaged four goals per game. Burnley can perhaps take solace from the fact they kept City below that average.
Fulham 0 Leicester City 2
Scott Parker’s team could not close the 8-point gap between them and fourth from bottom club Burnley. With 17 games left, the gap is not insurmountable, but it is of course considerable. Iheanacho was Leicester’s front man, with Vardy injured, although Perez did have a place in the attacking midfield three.
Leicester took the lead in the 17th minute when Maddison crossed from deep on the right and Iheanacho planted a nice header into the net. Areola made a good strong save from Soyuncu’s shot after a cross by Perez. Fulham’s best chance of the half came after 41 minutes when Robinson won a corner, taken from the left by Lookman and met by Tosin’s header. Schmeichel saved high and pushed the ball over for another corner. Leicester scored a second goal a minute before the interval and it was a good move which started in their own half, before finally Maddison teed up Justin who had made a great run to receive the pass inside the area, rounding Areola before scoring with his right foot.
Cavaleiro hit a left-foot shot wide of the post early in the second half. Leicester thought they had a third when Albrighton fed the ball to the advancing Ricardo, whose shot beat Areola at his neat post, but there had been an offside in the build-up.
Leeds United 1 Everton 2
This match was played on a "spare" pitch which was not required by Tottenham and had been acquired and laid since Leeds' last home game. Carlo Ancelotti had to play Olsen for the injured Jordan Pickford. Everton took a ninth minute lead when Lucas Digne crossed from the left into "no man's land" and Gylfi Sigurdsson was able to slot home a simple goal. Andre Gomes had started the move with a great long ball from his own half.
It wasn't long before both teams were probing their opponents in a game one felt was bound to entertain. Alioski latched onto a corner after 19 minutes and hit the post with his shot from 20 yards. Struijk forced a good save by Olsen with a header just under the Everton bar.
Everton doubled their lead in the 42nd minute when Sigurdsson swung in a good corner which was headed on either by Godfrey or a Leeds head. Dominic Calvert-Lewin, who had not scored a league goal since early December, dived in at the back post to head home.
Leeds had a goal back within three minutes of the restart and it was almost too easy. The ball was crossed from the right and Harrison was able to feed it back (with a touch by Bamford) to Raphinha who passed the ball into the net from 15 yards.
Leeds were pressing hard and Olsen had to save several shots in quick succession, firstly from Klich then Raphinha, and in a subsequent attack, a shot by Harrison.
Dallas put in a cross from the left after 71 minutes and Bamford looped a header which went out of play off the top of the bar. Michael Keane had surprisingly been left on the bench but replaced the reluctant Richarlison. Everton were soon preparing deadline day signing Josh King on the touch line.
Calvert-Lewin had a great chance to secure the win after 84 minutes when Doucoure pushed the ball forward after a powerful run, but the Everton striker fired straight at Meslier. King came on for Iwobi.
Leeds battled hard for an equaliser, but Everton defended stoutly. In the last minute of added time Bamford teed up substitute Roberts with an opportunity towards the right of the area, but he put his shot way too high. This was a very entertaining game.
Aston Villa 1 West Ham United 3
Jesse Lingard had a dream start to his loan spell at West Ham, scoring not one, but two goals in his first Premier League start for over a year. He helped the “Hammers” achieve a fifth Premier League win in six games, securing their fifth place and giving them real hopes of breaking into the top four. David Moyes picked a midfield three of Fredericks, Lingard, and Benrahma behind Antonio.
Lingard gave Martinez a warning shot after 15 minutes with a 20 yard effort across his bows, but the former Arsenal keeper saved to his left. Villa’s first real effort came after 22 minutes when Watkins headed well over Fabianski’s bar. The former Brentford man had another chance minutes later but hit a shot wide of the keeper’s left post. Soucek pushed a shot wide of the far post after good work by Lingard and Benrahma on the left of the area. Soucek did score with a right-footed shot from the other side of the area in the 51st minute after receiving a good ball by Benrahma.
It was 2-0 five minutes later, and Lingard scored his first Premier League goal of the season when Antonio found him in space on the left. Martinez did get a touch to the low shot but could not prevent the ball hitting the net. Antonio had a goal-bound shot athletically cleared off the line by Mings before Villa got back into the game courtesy of an 81st minute right-footer by Watkins who received Grealish’s pass from the right. Watkins almost got a decent contact on the end of another Grealish pass, but in the 83rd minute the Villa striker was easily deprived of the ball in the West Ham half, leading to an attack where Antonio fed the ball to Lingard again. This time, Lingard scored from the right of the area. Again, Martinez got a hand on the ball, but he was not strong enough.
Liverpool 0 Brighton & Hove Albion 1
Having gone four years without a home defeat in the Premier League, Liverpool have now lost two on the trot, both to teams whose name begins with B. It’s a good job there are only two such teams in the top flight! Liverpool have fallen a significant seven points behind Manchester City and the two teams meet on Sunday. As for Graham Potter’s Brighton, they’ve achieved two significant wins in consecutive games and find themselves 10 points clear of the bottom three.
Liverpool missed Alisson through illness (not Covid related) and Caoimhin Kelleher took his place, starting his second Premier League game. Mane was also out with a muscle strain, so Shaqiri took his place in the front three. Nat Phillips partnered Jordan Henderson at centre-back. Brighton made two changes with Alzate and Burn replacing Veltman and Mac Allister, who have minor injuries. Lallana was on the bench against his former club.
The only significant first half action consisted of Salah putting an early chance over the target after racing onto a long pass. Brighton’s Burn and March put shots over in front of the empty Kop Stand.
Brighton defended well against early second half pressure and took the lead in the 56th minute. Burn returned a long cross from the right from beyond the back post into the danger zone where Alzate was adjudged to have got the important touch the ball in the net with Trossard next to him.
Salah might have scored with an instant shot from Alexander-Arnold’s cross but was off target. Kelleher was required to make a low left-handed save to push the ball away after Gross’s shot following a Brighton corner. Liverpool were getting desperate and Salah wanted handball when his powerful shot hit Bissouma at very close range. VAR rejected his appeal.
It wasn’t a case of Brighton only defending as Kelleher was required to make another decent save, this time from Trossard on the left of goal. The “Seagulls” saw out the game for a first win at Anfield since March 1983 in an FA Cup game, when Jimmy Case (previously of Liverpool) scored the winner.
Thursday 4th February, 2021
Spurs 0 Chelsea 1
Hugo Lloris was considered Spurs’ best player in this game. Only four other players, including the two substitutes emerged with better than average grades. Erik Lamela was the best of the outfield players.
Jose Mourinho lost back-to-back home league matches for the first time in his 327th such game.
Tuchel became the first Chelsea manager to keep clean sheets in his first three matches in charge since Mourinho in August 2004.
Tottenham have suffered three successive Premier League defeats for the first time since November 2012. Unsurprisingly, these three matches have seen spursometer grades for the team performance of less than 40%. This is the worst series of figures since 6 out of 7 games towards the end of Mauricio Pochettino’s reign were under 50%. Three of those were less than 40%.
Spurs have lost four of their past five league games when Kane has not played.
Mourinho has not won any of his past seven games against former club Chelsea - his joint-longest winless run against an opponent in his managerial career (also against Barcelona between April 2011 and January 2012 when he was Real Madrid boss).
Spurs have played 6 London Derby league matches so far this season. This was our first defeat in those games, but we have only won one (against Arsenal), drawing the remaining games.
In recent weeks I have found myself looking at this story and my quote quite often:-
"I don’t think there’s too many Spurs fans who would be particularly happy to see him take over. His style is much too defensive for our liking."
Tuesday 2nd February, 2021
Sheff Utd 2-1 West Brom
Wolves 2-1 Arsenal
Man Utd 9-0 S'hampton
Newcastle 1-2 C. Palace
Wednesday 3rd February, 2021
Burnley 0-2 Man City
Fulham 0-2 Leicester
Leeds 1-2 Everton
A. Villa 1-3 West Ham
Liverpool 0-1 Brighton
Thursday 4th February, 2021
Spurs 0-1 Chelsea
Premier League Table
P W D L F-A GD Pts
1. Man City 21 14 5 2 39-13 26 47
2. Man Utd 22 13 5 4 46-27 19 44
3. Leicester 22 13 3 6 39-25 14 42
4. Liverpool 22 11 7 4 43-25 18 40
5. West Ham 22 11 5 6 34-28 6 38
6. Chelsea 22 10 6 6 36-23 13 36
7. Everton 20 11 3 6 31-25 6 36
8. Spurs 21 9 6 6 34-22 12 33
9. A. Villa 20 10 2 8 35-24 11 32
10. Arsenal 22 9 4 9 27-22 5 31
11. Leeds 21 9 2 10 36-38 -2 29
12. S'hampton 21 8 5 8 27-34 -7 29
13. C. Palace 22 8 5 9 27-37 -10 29
14. Wolves 22 7 5 10 23-31 -8 26
15. Brighton 22 5 9 8 24-29 -5 24
16. Newcastle 22 6 4 12 22-36 -14 22
17. Burnley 21 6 4 11 13-28 -15 22
18. Fulham 21 2 8 11 17-31 -14 14
19. West Brom 22 2 6 14 18-52 -34 12
20. Sheff Utd 22 3 2 17 14-35 -21 11