Premier League Review – Matchday 24
Saturday 13th February, 2021
Leicester City 3 Liverpool 1
Leicester lost full back James Justin to injury this week. He was injured in the FA Cup game against Brighton and that was found to be an ACL injury which puts him out for the season. Ndidi was back and Ricardo played at left back, whilst Amartey covered at right back. Jamie Vardy started too.
Turkish centre back Ozan Kabak, brought in on loan from Schalke made his Liverpool debut, replacing Fabinho and playing next to Jordan Henderson. Salah ran onto a long ball by Henderson after 9 minutes and went down in the area under pressure from Ricardo. Referee Anthony Taylor was not interested in a penalty, and there was no appeal. Salah was more interested two minutes later, but VAR also found nothing.
Milner had started the game but had to be replaced by Thiago Alcantara after 17 minutes. Salah was in a good position for an Alexander-Arnold pass and crossed from the right of the area for Mane, but Amartey made a crucial clearance.
Leicester's first chance came after 35 minutes, following an advance down the left flank, a cross by Barnes and a header by Vardy into Alisson’s arms. Robertson had a deflected shot go wide across goal at the other end following a Salah/Alexander-Arnold combination down the right wing. Vardy hit the top of the bar after Maddison flicked on a right-field cross. Henderson wanted offside, but with no VAR review, we'll never know.
Vardy got in behind the Liverpool defence as added time approached and was onto a typical long pass. Alisson was out to smother his shot.
Leicester had a couple of free kicks early in the second half, but no end result. Alexander-Arnold took one at the other end after 66 minutes and it took a deflection before hitting Schmeichel’s bar. Liverpool took the lead in the 67th minute with a goal of skill. Trent Alexander-Arnold had tried a pass, which failed. He collected the rebound and ran deep into the area. When he crossed, Firmino skilfully controlled and turned before laying the ball off to Salah who scored with a left foot shot across Schmeichel’s right hand.
Barnes was fouled on the very edge of the area by Thiago. VAR took a long look, but the decision was a free kick, as had been given by the referee. Maddison took the kick which went directly into the net. The offside flag was raised, and VAR reviewed but found there was no offside offence.( Even though it looked offside!)
The next goal caused me to howl with laughter. Tielemans sent a long ball forward for Vardy to chase. Alisson raced out of his area and tried to kick the ball clear, but he also had the presence of Kabak to consider. Alisson mis-kicked and basically presented the ball to Vardy, who was able run the ball into the net, before he went off to the corner and played air guitar with the flag. (81 mins) Two minutes later Alisson made a double save, pushing Barnes' cross into Vardy's path, but then saving from Vardy and pushing the ball onto the bottom of the post. The ball was cleared and had not crossed the line. We had seen the sublime and ridiculous of this goalkeeper in those two pieces of action, but not in that order.
It was 3-1 in the 85th minute. Ndidi hit a long ball forward and this time Harvey Barnes was in the clear, faster than Kabak, and scored with a right foot shot across the keeper. Kabak has played in 14 of Schalke's 20 league games, and they are rock bottom of the Bundesliga.
Crystal Palace 0 Burnley 3
Palace were again without Wilfried Zaha, and they proved to be toothless against a Burnley side for whom this welcome win increased the gap between them and the bottom three. Burnley had the lead inside 5 minutes after Palace failed to clear a cross by Pieters from the left. Johann Gudmundsson snapped up the chance to take advantage scoring with his left foot across the keeper. This was his second goal in consecutive Premier League games, which have been his only goals this season. It was 2-0 five minutes later after Burnley won a corner, taken from the right which was headed in by Rodriguez.
Benteke hit a shot straight at Pope and was involved a decent move which ended with Eze’s shot going wide across the goalmouth after 31 minutes.
Matt Lowton scored a great personal goal (his first in the league for nearly 8 years) within two minutes of the restart. He had carried the ball forward down the right channel before passing inside. Lowton then took a lofted return pass from Rodriguez inside the area, before smashing a shot past Guaita.
Burnley skipper Ben Mee was knocked to the floor and stretchered off after a collision with Jordan Ayew.
Manchester City 3 Spurs 0
Inevitably, the grades offered, and comments made about the performance of our players and manager were hyper-critical. Our “rookie” player – Japhet Tanganga - got the best marks from those who took part. Here are a couple of selected comments:-
“Another 90 minutes of my life wasted. I imagine the players felt the same way. It can't be very enjoyable turning out for Spurs these days. . City showed the way football should be played - Mourinho the way it shouldn't. A humiliation - only made worse by Lloris going through one of his dodgy spells.”
“It is so disappointing to see what we have become. When we get possession, we lose it far too easily and too often. Hugo has lost all confidence in his defence and it is affecting his game.”
Brighton & Hove Albion 0 Aston Villa 0
Villa wanted more from this game, but in the end were grateful to goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez, who pulled off a string of saves to keep his goal intact. Brighton are now unbeaten in 6 Premier League games (a club record) and are well clear of the drop zone. Brighton were having the better of the game and Martinez’s first significant save came from a shot by Trossard after 38 minutes. The goalkeeper pushed this over his bar. He saved again, this time pushing Burn’s header from a corner around his right post.
Villa’s first shot on target came after 47 minutes from Ross Barkley, and this was easy for Sanchez. Mac Allister was next to test the Villa keeper who dived to his right but saved with his legs. Martinez saved again, this time from Veltman after a good piece of pressure and passing by “The Seagulls” in and around the Villa area. This one was made with his left hand, as he dived to his right. After 84 minutes, Villa’s busiest player made a close range save at his left-hand post from substitute Danny Welbeck. In added time Martinez saved to his left as Trossard’s free kick was blocked by the wall before the same player shot the rebound through the Villa defence.
Sunday 14th February, 2021
Southampton 1 Wolverhampton Wanderers 2
Southampton were another team aggrieved by decisions made by the on-field and off-field officials as they lost a sixth consecutive league game. Wolves leapfrogged “The Saints” by winning the game.
The first real threat on goal came after 19 minutes when Ings laid on a pass for Redmond towards the left of the area. Rui Patricio saved Redmond’s attempt to beat him inside his left post. Ings gave the home side a 25th minute lead when Armstrong crossed from the left and the striker latched onto it with a powerful right foot volley that beat the Wolves keeper to his left.
There was controversy about Wolves’ equaliser. It came in the second half after Traore’s pass reached Semedo whose shot hit Bertrand from quite close range. Referee Graham Scott (not one of my favourites) pointed to the spot, and VAR upheld the decision because Bertrand’s arm was deemed to be in an “unnatural position”. Neves scored from the spot in the 53rd minute. Wolves had hardly threatened the Southampton goal up to that point.
Southampton felt aggrieved by the denial of their penalty appeals when a lofted ball into the box by Armstrong landed on Dendoncker’s arm. The decision went in Wolves’ favour. Neto scored a good winning goal in the 66th minute. He took Willian Jose’s pass inside the area towards the right, coming inside and beating McCarthy from a sharp angle.
West Bromwich Albion 1 Manchester United 1
West Brom took a surprise early lead and Fernandes equalised just before half-time with a superbly taken goal. United felt aggrieved by some decisions, including those by VAR, but this was a precious point for “The Baggies”. That early goal was in the second minute and followed a cross by Gallagher which recent loan signing Diagne managed to head in, getting across Lindelof. United felt that Lindelof had been fouled. Diagne did have his hand across the defender’s face. Fernandes’ equaliser was in the 44th minute. Shaw crossed from the left and although the ball was slightly behind the Portuguese player, he hooked it into the net brilliantly with his left foot.
Pereira, who had been recalled by Sam Allardyce, hit a shot wide across the goal after taking Maitland-Niles’ 54th minute pass. United had a fee kick deep on the right after McTominay had been fouled. This was taken by Fernandes and when Harry Maguire went to the ground under Ajayi’s challenge, referee Craig Pawson pointed to the spot. This decision was reversed after a view of the monitor. Mysteriously, VAR had not checked for offside which should have been given and therefore made any debate about the penalty irrelevant.
After a United corner Greenwood had a shot saved by the legs of Johnstone and McTominay’s follow-up was cleared off the line by Furlong. West Brom might even had won the game, but Maitland-Niles put a cross too far in front of Diagne in a two on one situation. Diagne appeared to have fouled Maguire in a later attack, but De Gea saved. Maybe VAR would have reviewed the foul, but we don’t know. Diagne did have a good chance late on from Furlong’s cross but stabbed the ball over the bar. Maguire headed against Johnstone’s left post in the fifth minute of added time after Shaw’s cross. Johnstone just got a fingertip to the ball too.
Arsenal 4 Leeds United 2
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang scored his first Premier league hat-trick at the 105th attempt for Arsenal to help them get closer to Spurs. Arsenal were 4-0 up just after half-time, but Leeds gave them something to think about with two goals in reply. Loanee Martin Odegaard made his first start. Leeds were missing Phillips through injury which meant a change to personnel and positions with Shackleton at right back and Dallas next to Struijk in front of the defence.
The first goal came in the 13th minute with Aubameyang squeezing a low shot just inside Meslier’s right post from just inside the area. Xhaka had made the pass and Aubameyang got around Ayling who was covering at centre-back. Ayling blocked another shot by the Arsenal striker after 28 minutes, following a run to the right side of the area by David Luiz and a cut-back from near the bye-line. Five minutes later Saka was on the end of a good passing move and made it to the area where he went down after a challenge by Liam Cooper. Referee Stuart Attwell pointed to the spot but was drawn to the monitor and overturned his decision. Arsenal did have a penalty after Leeds had passed the ball back to their keeper, who was challenged by Saka. Meslier brought down the Arsenal player, and Aubameyang had his second goal in the 41st minute.
It was 3-0 in the 45th minute. Arsenal had lots of possession in and around the box with Bellerin scoring with a powerful shot from the right-hand side of goal beating Meslier at his near post. All Leeds had to show for the first half had been a shot on target by Harrison which had been into the arms of Leno.
Things got worse for Leeds within two minutes of the restart as substitute Helder Costa lost the ball allowing Smith-Rowe to cross from the left and Aubameyang to head home at the far post. Leno made a very good double-handed save from a good drive by Raphinha. Leeds got a goal back after a corner won by Raphinha after 57 minutes. It was Struijk who headed home inside Leno’s right-hand post, with the goalkeeper nowhere. Leeds’ second goal came in the 69th minute, following a swift attack down the left flank. Another half-time sub Roberts got deep down the left and cut the ball back for Helder Costa to meet the ball with a shot that left the goalkeeper well beaten.
Aubameyang hit the woodwork with a right foot shot after 75 minutes. Arsenal are the only club to have lost a four-goal lead in the Premier League (against Newcastle), but it didn’t happen this time. Leeds had conceded four (or more) goals for the fifth time this season.
Everton 0 Fulham 2
Fulham shocked everybody with this result, not least Evertonians who are still on a high after their 5-4 FA Cup win over Spurs. The star of the show was Fulham’s loan striker (from Bordeaux) Josh Maja who scored both their goals. Everton were missing the injured Calvert-Lewin. Maybe the rest of the team were hung over after their 120 minute exertions on Wednesday.
Fulham had a corner after 9 minutes and Decordova-Reid’s clever flick sent the ball across goal where it rebounded of the post to Aina, whose shot was blocked. Everton struggled to hold a Fulham attack down the left flank after 20 minutes. This move ended with a good shot by Harrison Reed which passed just wide of Olsen’s left post. Lookman, who previously had played for Everton, got the better of Seamus Coleman, and after an exchange of passes with Decordova-Reid, Lookman’s shot was just wide. Coleman stole the ball in midfield after 34 minutes and went on a run which ended with a shot that hit the outside of Areola’s left post.
Fulham took the lead three minutes into the second half. Lookman and Aina attacked down the left flank and Aina’s low cross was converted from close range by Maja. Maja might have had a second following another Lookman-Aina combination, but he did have it in the 65th minute when Harrison Reed’s shot beat Olsen and rebounded off the post to Maja’s feet. He did not fail.
Josh King had the ball in the net from a Gomes cross, but he was offside.
Monday 15th February, 2021
West Ham United 3 Sheffield United 0
Win or lose, West Ham will be above Spurs after Sunday lunchtime’s game. This win gave them their highest points total after 24 games in the Premier League. They have exceeded that total in only two previous top-flight seasons in 1983/4 (43 pts) and 1985/6 (48 pts).
West Ham were missing Antonio again, still nursing his hamstring. They were also without Ogbonna for the first time in a league game this season. Issa Diop was in a back three which included Cresswell. Coufal was on the right and 21-year-old Ben Johnson on the left of four in front of the defence. Bowen, Lingard and Lanzini were the front three.
West Ham had a free kick after three minutes when Ben Osborn brought down Bowen 22 yards out. Rice took the kick, which was saved by Ramsdale, who pushed the ball to his left. Dawson went down under Stevens’ challenge and referee Simon Hooper awarded a penalty. VAR Michael Oliver found that Dawson had been offside at the time the free kick was taken. Dawson, who arrived on loan from Watford this season and has already scored three goals for West Ham, headed over from a 25th minute corner. The “Blades” had forced a couple of earlier corners with no end result.
There was no doubt about the award of a penalty when Lingard was hacked down by Basham who got a yellow card. Lingard wanted to take the kick, but captain Rice exerted his authority and scored inside Ramsdale’s right-hand post in the 41st minute. It was West Ham’s first penalty award of the season.
Sheffield United did have a good chance and probably should have scored after 51 minutes when Billy Sharp lifted a cross from the left. McGoldrick got a header on target, but without full power. Fabianski was able to save after Johnson got a strong touch on the ball. McGoldrick had other chances but did not take full advantage. It was 2-0 in the 58th minute when Diop comfortably rose and headed in Rice’s corner across the goalkeeper. Ramsdale saved a Lingard shot, diving to his right and subsequently made a good save on the other side of goal from Coufal.
West Ham had to wait till the sixth minute of added time for their third goal. This came when Ryan Fredericks took a pass from Benrahma towards the left of the area and beat Ramsdale inside his right post with a right-footed shot.
Chelsea 2 Newcastle United 0
Timo Werner scored only his fifth Premier League goal and his first since 7th November, which had been against Sheffield United. Chelsea climbed to fourth place, whilst “The Blades” remain 14 points away from safety, with fourteen games remaining. Arrizabalaga was a surprise selection in goal by Thomas Tuchel. Newcastle were devastated last week by the news that top scorer Callum Wilson will be out for 6 to 8 weeks with a hamstring injury which was sustained in their last game against Southampton. Bruce is also without centre back Fabian Schar and right back Javier Manquillo for a similar period of time. He played Krafth at right back and Dwight Gayle made a first start of the season.
Abraham started the game but had to be replaced by Giroud after an injury sustained in a challenge by Lascelles. Werner had a chance in the middle of goal after Alonso lifted the ball from his left. Werner was on the stretch but could only push his shot wide. Werner had a hand in Chelsea’s first goal in the 31st minute when he crossed low and hard from the left. The ball was half-cleared and fell to Giroud who fired home. Werner went close again two minutes later hitting a shot on the half-volley from the edge of the area which passed just over the bar. Werner’s goal was a low shot at the back post after a corner won by Azpilicueta on the right. The ball was floated in and actually reached Werner via a couple of Newcastle defenders. (39 mins) VAR checked for a possible handball by Giroud, but the goal stood.
Wednesday 17th February, 2021
Burnley 1 Fulham 1
This game had originally been scheduled to be played on January 3rd but had to be postponed due to Fulham being affected by Covid-19.
Fulham were unchanged after their surprise win at Everton. Sean Dyche said that Ben Mee was okay, having been stretchered off in their last game, but concussion precautions dictated that he missed this game. Kevin Long made a rare start. Charlie Taylor replaced Eric Pieters at left back. Fulham were looking for a win to take them within three points of Newcastle.
There was very little significant action in the first quarter of the game. Areola was uncertain when trying to clear a McNeil free kick away from Barnes, and then Barnes just failed to make contact with a good ball forward by Westwood. Kevin Long headed over following a McNeil corner, taken from the right. Westwood hit a good shot from over 25 yards which was held by Areola.
Gudmundsson was injured and had to be replaced by Robbie Brady after 39 minutes. The best moment of the first half came in the last minute of ordinary time when neither Barnes or Rodriguez could get the killer touch on McNeil's low cross. Goalkeeper Areola's touch had taken the ball just away from Rodriguez.
Fulham took a surprise lead in the 49th minute. They attacked down the right flank and won a corner, taken by Lookman. Andersen got an unconventional flicked touch towards the near post, but it was Aina's final chested contact that beat Brady, who should have cleared on the line. Brady had been booked for a foul in the Fulham half that preceded this attack.
Barnes equalised three minutes later, taking Rodriguez's cross in the middle of the area unmarked beating Areola with ease. Rodriguez got behind Andersen and hit a shot on target which Areola saved with his leg. Brady headed over from a cross by Taylor.
Substitute Robbie Brady was replaced by Josh Brownhill, having played just 24 minutes. Pope saved a rare shot by Maja comfortably inside his right post. Fulham needed maximum points and when Loftus-Cheek crossed, Lookman got a somewhat involuntary touch which Pope saved just in front of his line. (85 mins). With time running out, Lookman hit a right foot shot wide across the goal from the left of the area.
Ashley Barnes headed wide from a corner in added time, but there had been a foul in the area anyway. The draw suited Burnley more than it did Fulham.
Everton 1 Manchester City 3
This was another re-arranged fixture due to Covid problems in the City camp after Christmas.
Carlo Ancelotti made four changes to the side which had started the Fulham game. Jordan Pickford returned, as did Mina, Keane and Iwobi. James Rodriguez was one of those who made way. Richarlison was Everton’s front man, supported by Sigurdsson behind him and Iwobi and Digne on the wings. Gundogan was out for City, whilst Stones and Zinchenko reverted to the bench. Kyle Walker, Ruben Dias and Riyad Mahrez came in. Gabriel Jesus was at the top for City. City's bench included Kevin De Bruyne and Sergio Aguero.
Cancelo (playing at left back) forced a save from Pickford inside two minutes with a powerful long range shot. City were dominating possession without further tests for Pickford in the first 15 minutes. Doucoure failed to take a chance presented by a Digne cross, hitting a soft shot, rather than one with power. Yerry Mina needed treatment and was unable to continue. Seamus Coleman replaced him, with Holgate moving inside to partner Keane.
Richarlison was often the only Everton player not behind the ball. His team-mates held out until the 32nd minute when Mahrez's cross was only half-cleared to the feet of Foden whose right foot shot took a deflection off Coleman and beat Pickford. Apart from being unbeaten, City haven’t even been behind in a game since losing to Spurs in November. Everton soon equalised though after Coleman's cross from the right reached Digne, who returned a cross/shot. This passed across the goalmouth hitting the post before rebounding into the net off Richarlison. (38 mins)
After 50 minutes, Cancelo crossed from the left and Jesus controlled before feeding the ball to Bernardo Silva to the right. He hit a good shot on target which Pickford saved and cleared. Gabriel Jesus received a good pass by Walker but fired over from the left of goal. Rodri headed wide across the goal from a City corner after 60 minutes. It was 2-1 to City in the 63rd minute when Bernardo Silva slipped the ball to Mahrez on the right of Everton’s area and Mahrez hit a powerful left foot shot into the net off Pickford’s right post.
Ancelotti inserted James Rodriguez and Josh King for Davies and Iwobi. I didn't see either player have a touch before City went 3-1 up in the 77th minute. City had three times as many passes as did Everton, and their passing accuracy was 90%. Their third goal followed a series of passes down the right with Walker and Mahrez involved before Bernardo Silva hit a left foot shot into the net past Pickford’s right hand. The goalkeeper did get a touch, but it was not strong enough.
This was a fifth Premier League home game forr Everton without a win. Their next game is at Anfield on Saturday tea-time. For City, whose next game is away to Arsenal, this was a phenomenal 17th consecutive win (12 in the league), and a ten point lead at the top of the table. They also became the first top flight club to win their first 10 league games of a calendar year.
Saturday 13th February, 2021
Leicester 3-1 Liverpool
C. Palace 0-3 Burnley
Man City 3-0 Spurs
Brighton 0-0 A. Villa
Sunday 14th February, 2021
S'hampton 1-2 Wolves
West Brom 1-1 Man Utd
Arsenal 4-2 Leeds
Everton 0-2 Fulham
Monday 15th February, 2021
West Ham 3-0 Sheff Utd
Chelsea 2-0 Newcastle
Wednesday 17th February, 2021
Burnley 1-1 Fulham
Everton 1-3 Man City
Premier League Table
P W D L F-A GD Pts
1. Man City 24 17 5 2 49-15 34 56
2. Man Utd 24 13 7 4 50-31 19 46
3. Leicester 24 14 4 6 42-26 16 46
4. Chelsea 24 12 6 6 40-24 16 42
5. West Ham 24 12 6 6 37-28 9 42
6. Liverpool 24 11 7 6 45-32 13 40
7. Everton 23 11 4 8 35-33 2 37
8. A. Villa 22 11 3 8 36-24 12 36
9. Spurs 23 10 6 7 36-25 11 36
10. Arsenal 24 10 4 10 31-25 6 34
11. Leeds 23 10 2 11 40-42 -2 32
12. Wolves 24 8 6 10 25-32 -7 30
13. S'hampton 23 8 5 10 30-39 -9 29
14. C. Palace 24 8 5 11 27-42 -15 29
15. Burnley 24 7 6 11 18-30 -12 27
16. Brighton 24 5 11 8 25-30 -5 26
17. Newcastle 24 7 4 13 25-40 -15 25
18. Fulham 24 3 10 11 20-32 -12 19
19. West Brom 24 2 7 15 19-55 -36 13
20. Sheff Utd 24 3 2 19 15-40 -25 11