Premier League Review – Matchday 25
Friday 19th February, 2021
Wolverhampton Wanderers 1 Leeds United 0
Leeds were again without Phillips who is a key man in front of the defence. Their one change was Roberts for Alioski, but he was part of 4-man midfield behind Bamford. The versatile Dallas played at left back. Wolves were unchanged from the team which started against Southampton. Both Coady and Rui Patricio were making their 100th Premier League appearances for their club.
Leeds had a lot of the early play but did not force a save. Neto did that after 11 minutes with a left-footed shot which Meslier pushed around his right post. After a Traore shot was blocked the ball rebounded to Neto who forced another save with a shot from 25 yards.
Cooper got on the end of a Raphinha free kick after 19 minutes but headed straight at Rui Patricio. Klich had a shot hit the bottom of Rui Patricio's left-hand post from a very sharp angle in the right after 26 minutes and Struijk had two shots blocked in the ensuing play. At the other end Semedo had a shot saved by Meslier, also at the left post.
Semedo had another shot saved, this time from a sharp angle on the right, after Willian Jose had fed him the ball after 34 minutes. Both sides played high energy football, but there was no score at half-time.
Neto fired over from the right of goal after 51 minutes when Willian Jose was hoping for the ball in the middle.
Energy levels had dropped in the second half, but there was a burst of action at either end after 62 minutes. Firstly, Rui Patricio saved a Cooper header following a free kick by Raphinha and Bamford had a follow-up shot blocked. Then at the other end Traore's 25 yard shot beat Meslier, who unfortunately goes down as the scorer of an own goal as the ball bounced down off the bar and went into the net off his back.
Cooper was on the end of another Raphinha free kick having his far post effort saved by Rui Patricio. Leeds had a good break after 76 minutes when Bamford ran onto a through ball and slammed the ball home, but the offside flag was raised, and VAR confirmed that was a correct decision - just!
Klich and Harrison made way for Helder Costa and Alioski. Marcal had earlier replaced Jonny, but he had to withdraw with another left-sided player Ait-Nouri taking over. After a cross from the right was only half cleared, Moutinho had a shot from 20 yards which passed over the goal.
In added time Helder Costa had a great chance as he collected Raphinha's long pass, but Rui Patricio saved. Leeds went close again with a Raphinha header, but Wolves held onto their win and leap-frogged their opponents in the table.
Saturday 20th February, 2021
Southampton 1 Chelsea 1
Southampton made two changes with Kyle Walker-Peters and Armstrong making way for Salisu and Djenepo. Tuchel switched four of the Chelsea team with Mendy, Zouma, James and Kante coming into the side.
Chelsea dominated possession but after an early chance for Alonso, which was put wide they didn't have another shot on goal until a speculative long distance effort by Rudiger after 28 minutes. McCarthy picked that up easily.
Southampton had been sitting back, but surprised Chelsea in the 33rd minute when Redmond came inside from the right and sent an excellent pass forward to Minamino who put both Azpilicueta and the goalkeeper on their backsides with great skill before scoring. Chelsea had a free kick after 38 minutes, taken by Alonso forcing a save by McCarthy at his near post from Zouma's header.
Herr Tuchel was not happy at half-time! He replaced Tammy Abraham with Hudson-Odoi, although Hudson-Odoi only lasted till the 75th minute himself, with Ziyech taking his place.
Chelsea had a penalty when Mount was brought down by Ings. Mount stood up and scored from the spot himself. (54 mins) Southampton had a couple of corners twenty minutes from the end and after the second of these Redmond crossed from the left. The ball was met by Vestergaard whose looping header rebounded off Mendy's bar. At the other end Mason Mount forced a save from McCarthy with a good shot, but Hudson-Odoi had been offside in the build-up.
The Chelsea manager is not one to hide his emotions and he was not happy with Reece James' dismal attempt to score when Mount lifted a cross from the left to the back post.
For Chelsea and their manager this was a disappointing performance and result. It was a great result for Ralf Hasenhuttl whose team ended a run of six consecutive defeats with a well-earned point.
Burnley 0 West Bromwich Albion 0
Ben Mee was fit to play after his absence for concussion precautions. Sean Dyche made two other changes with Gudmundsson and Ashley Barnes being replaced by Brownhill and Vydra. Darnell Furlong returned and Matt Phillips replaced the injured Snodgrass.
With 14 games to play now, this was one that "The Baggies" really needed to win. Three of their next four games are against bottom half sides. West Brom had less possession but more shots (only one on target) in the first quarter. This was a better return than the home side, who had mustered one shot off target. Pereira had two of the West Brom shots, both of which were not too far off the target.
There was lengthy consideration by VAR and referee Mike Dean of an incident where Ajayi handled a ball 40 yards out, preventing Vydra from breaking through towards goal. The result was for Ajayi to be sent off for preventing a goal-scoring opportunity. Only 30 minutes had gone. Sam Allardyce took off Phillips for defender O'Shea.
Sam Johnstone hadn't had to make a save in a predictably poor quality first half. Pereira was the first to really threaten goal in the second half with a shot after 57 minutes that whistled past Pope's right post.
West Brom had two more shots around the 70 minute mark. Pereira fed Maitland-Niles who fired over before Diagne was sent racing clear with a good ball from the West Brom half. It looked as if Diagne must score but his shot went out of play off the top of the bar.
The ten men of West Brom were offering more than the home side. After 77 minutes they had their best chance. Maitland-Niles raced forward and passed to Diagne who crossed low from left of the 6-yard area, somehow Pereira failed to hit it first time, and when he did manage to shoot towards goal Tarkowski managed to stoop and head the ball off the line. A cross by Charlie Taylor at the other end which passed through the danger zone was as close as Burnley came to a goal at this stage.
Nick Pope came out bravely to the feet of Yokuslu who had been out through and was about to pull the trigger. Pope took a blow to the face in making the save.
West Brom had looked the more likely winners of this game. The one point gained leaves them at least 11 points away from safety.
Liverpool 0 Everton 2
Liverpool were unchanged from the team which started against Leipzig, whilst there were three changes for Everton with Coleman, Gomes and James Rodriguez starting. It looked as if Liverpool’s 4-3-3 was up against Everton's 4-5-1, with Richarlison the front man for "The Toffees". However, it turned out that Rodriguez was Richarlison's "number 10". Virgil Van Dyke, still recovering from the injury sustained in the last derby match, was in the stadium.
Everton had a lively and successful start. They took a third minute lead when Rodriguez threaded a lovely ball past three Liverpool players for Richarlison, who scored with a well-placed shot across Alisson at the empty Kop End.
Jordan Pickford palmed away Mane's cross from the left of the area. Firmino pushed a shot wide from a tight situation and Jordan Pickford made a good save, diving to his right to push Henderson’s shot around the corner after 19 minutes. Mane pushed a ball along the outside of the area to Alexander-Arnold, whose shot took a slight touch by Pickford before passing over the bar.
Henderson worked hard to try and get away from the attentions of Doucoure in the Liverpool half, before finally succumbing to a foul. Henderson's thigh/groin muscles had suffered, but after treatment and a bit of stretching he came back on, but almost immediately had to give in being replaced by Nat Phillips after 29 minutes. That was Liverpool’s 18th defensive partnership of the season.
Coleman was in the middle to get a powerful diving header on Lucas Digne's excellent cross. Alisson made an equally excellent save. Some thought that Coleman should have done better with the header, but I thought he did well to meet the cross.
Mane had a header on target two minutes into the second half, but Pickford was equal to that. Mane had another chance, but put this over. Between them, Mane and Salah were piling on the pressure, and Liverpool bossed the early second half possession.
Ancelotti put Sigurdsson on for Gomes and followed that with Calvert-Lewin replacing James Rodriguez. Klopp put Shaqiri on for Curtis Jones. Sigurdsson had a shot on target after 63 minutes, but straight at Alisson. Alexander-Arnold hit a cross through the danger zone, but no-one got a touch.
Firmino, then Shaqiri and finally Salah advanced upon the Everton goal on a diagonal path from the right before Pickford made an excellent stop, smothering Salah's final attempt. (68 mins) Had there been a crowd in the stadium, the atmosphere would have been electric.
After some brilliant defending by Keane and an excellent ball out to Richarlison he quickly passed inside to Calvert-Lewin whose shot looked as if it might beat Alisson, but the goalkeeper saved. However, referee Chris Kavanagh pointed to the spot when Calvert-Lewin went down after apparently being caught by Alexander-Arnold as he tried to follow-up. The referee was asked to look at the monitor, but spent little time doing that, confirming the penalty. It was Gylfi Sigurdsson who coolly scored inside Alisson's right post. (83 mins)
For good measure Jordan Pickford pushed over a Wijnaldum shot in added time. Pickford had a great game.
Liverpool had lost a fourth consecutive home league game, in which they have only scored one penalty. The last time they lost four consecutive home games was 1923. Everton had their first win at Anfield since September 1999. It is of course a shame their fans could not see it in the flesh.
Fulham 1 Sheffield United 0
With this, their fourth win, Scott Parker’s side have given themselves a lifeline and a fighting chance of catching one of the sides above them. The win brought them within three points of Newcastle before their game at Old Trafford. As for Sheffield United Chris Wilder is being realistic about what looks an inevitable return to The Championship. With John Egan added to “The Blades” injury list, veteran Phil Jagielka was called up for this game.
All Fulham had to show for their efforts over the first 35 minutes was a long range shot by Anguissa that was a long way wide of the target, and a rising shot by Cavaleiro that was at least closer to goal. Harrison Reed did hit one on target three minutes before the break, but that was easy for Ramsdale.
Eight minutes into the second half Loftus-Cheek came closer still to scoring with a powerful run deep into the box before he hit a shot which was cleared off the line by Baldock. The Sheffield United wing-back was then involved in an attacking move which ended with Norwood’s cross from the right and Billy Sharp’s outstretched attempt on goal which went just over the bar. Lookman broke the deadlock and scored the only goal of the game in the 61st minute, collecting Andersen’s long ball before beating Ampadu and hitting a low powerful shot that beat Ramsdale too. Four minutes later Areola had a save to make from Enda Stevens’ shot, conceding a corner.
Ramsdale made a good save from Aina’s right foot shot after 73 minutes, pushing the ball over the bar. With full time looming, Sheffield United had a free kick after a foul on McGoldrick. Fleck floated the ball in and ultimately Areola came out feet first to take the ball off substitute Bogle. VAR supported referee Martin Atkinson and United were denied a penalty. Understandably, Wilder was not happy about that decision.
Sunday 21st February, 2021
West Ham United 2 Spurs 1
Gareth Bale was voted the Spurs man of the match for the second consecutive game. Both were genuinely good individual performances. In this game he was head and shoulders above his team-mates, and Gareth only came on at half-time. His man of the match vote in last week's Wolfsberger game was his first such award since the last game of his first spell with Tottenham in 2013.
Comments offered included the following:-
“For the first time in over sixty years I thought Spurs were more likely to lose against West Ham than win. Unfortunately, I was right. That shows how far Mourinho has lowered my expectations since he started and undermined the team's confidence. Essentially, Moyes out-Mourihnoed Mourinho. Tight defence, sharp attack. We mainly huffed and puffed. Of the chances we missed only two were a little unlucky in my opinion. Is this the darkest hour? Not sure.”
“Central defenders not good enough over 90 mins. West Ham made hard to beat but only because we could not shoot straight otherwise could have been 6-2”
Aston Villa 1 Leicester City 2
Villa had to manage without Jack Grealish, who had suffered a leg injury in training. It was the first time since November 2019 that he had not been in Villa’s Premier League squad. The absence showed as Villa went two down in the first half. Dean Smith was upset that the news had leaked out via social media on Saturday and said he would launch an investigation. Subsequent stories suggested the leak arose because Villa players dropped Grealish from their fantasy football teams! El Ghazi took Grealish’s place.
Leicester made a bright start with Ricardo’s shot saved by Martinez, and Villa also under pressure from a couple of early corners. Traore was blocked at the other end after El Ghazi teed him up, but Leicester took a 19th minute lead when Barnes passed to his right and Maddison placed his shot inside Martinez’s left-hand post. Three minutes later Martinez plucked another shot by Ricardo out of the air to his left. It was 2-0 inside the 23rd minute after Tielemans advanced and passed short to Vardy. His shot was saved but parried and Harvey Barnes snapped up the rebound.
Villa scored three minutes into the second half following a good move which ended with a good cross by Targett from the left, a threat by McGinn but a strong left-foot finish by Bernard Traore from close range.
Barnes was tripped by Elmohamady 25 yards from goal after Barnes had flicked the ball forward with an audacious and very skilful touch. The Villa player was yellow-carded. Maddison’s free kick was saved by Martinez’s dive to his left.
Arsenal 0 Manchester City 1
City’s winning run was extended to 18 games and that was all done with Sterling’s second minute goal. Part of the challenge for any opponent is trying to work out the precise formation of Guardiola’s attack which today featured Mahrez, De Bruyne, and Sterling, ahead of Bernardo Silva, Fernandinho, and the returning Gundogan.
That early goal came from City’s second attack and followed a Mahrez cross which found Sterling in the middle who was able to head home with nobody close enough to stop him. The only surprise was that the City machine did not add to their score. Their pressure was relentless from the outset with De Bruyne, Mahrez and Sterling to the fore. Arsenal managed a shot just before half-time with Pepe’s shot always going into the side netting.
Zinchenko passed to De Bruyne three minutes into the second half and the Belgian ace hit a shot that passed just wide of Leno’s left post. Leno next had to save from Gundogan after Sterling’s advance into the left of the area and his final pass.
The weirdest moment of the game was when Cancelo lofted a long pass back from the right flank towards his goalkeeper who had no choice but to boot anywhere. The ball fell to Elneny, whose 22 yard shot passed wide. Cancelo could not raise his arm high enough in his apology. Cancelo received a pass inside the Arsenal area from substitute Jesus but chose to use his right foot to push the ball wide of the far post with the goal gaping.
Manchester United 3 Newcastle United 1
Newcastle have managed just two wins in their last 14 league games, and now have to be classified as being involved in the relegation battle with Fulham now within three points, and in much better form. Steve Bruce played Joelinton up front and after an early corner when De Gea had punched clear a Shelvey long distance lob, Joelinton forced a better save when the goalkeeper pushed the 20 yard effort over the bar. Manchester United took a long time to get going and Almiron also forced a save with a shot from 25 yards after 27 minutes.
Manchester United took the lead after 30 minutes. Maguire carried the ball into the Newcastle half before passing to Rashford on the left. Rashford rounded Krafth before heading into the area beating Darlow with a shot just inside the keeper’s right post. Newcastle won a corner on the right, taken short by Almiron and Shelvey before the ball was crossed deep. The ball reached Saint-Maximin lurking near the far corner of the area. He unleashed a super shot which De Gea saved well, pushing the ball over his bar. From the subsequent corner Saint-Maximin did have the ball in the net. It was another short corner move with the ball being floated in by Willock. The ball was back-headed by Maguire to the feet of Saint-Maximin who was closer to goal this time and scored with a powerful right-footed shot that dipped under the bar. (36 minutes)
De Gea had to save yet again from Saint-Maximin early in the second half. Manchester United took the lead in the 56th minute. Again, their goal followed an advance by Maguire and a pass to the left flank. This was fed inside via Matic and Fernandes who found James in space on the other wide of the defence. James scored with a low shot inside Darlow’s left post. Martial hit a powerful shot straight at Darlow who managed to push the ball away for a corner.
The home side had a penalty after Rashford fell down after Willock’s challenge and you-know-who (Fernandes) scored from the spot for the umpteenth (17 in fact) time in the 75th minute, putting the game beyond Newcastle’s reach.
Monday 22nd February, 2021
Brighton & Hove Albion 1 Crystal Palace 2
Brighton had 75% of the possession and 25 shots on goal, compared to 3 by Palace. However, it was Palace who scored a late, late winner to steal all three points in the latest “M23 Derby”. Brighton feel they were robbed, and the defeat leaves them in the danger zone, just 4 points ahead of Fulham. Life is cruel sometimes. Wilfried Zaha was still absent through injury. Andros Townsend started for Palace along with Jordan Ayew and loan signing Jean-Philippe Mateta.
Brighton made all the early running but went a goal down in the 28th minute. It was a neat strike, which began with a long ball out of defence down the right wing which was picked up by Jordan Ayew who crossed to the near post where Mateta cleverly back-heeled the ball into the net, scoring his first Palace goal. It was Palace’s one shot of the first half.
Brighton’s equaliser came in the 55th minute. It was scored by Joel Veltman who was playing at right wing-back. Danny Welbeck had come off the bench at half-time and he played a part in the move that took the ball from left to right ultimately to Veltman who scored from the right of the area with a left-footed shot. Palace were under pressure, no more than around the 60 minute mark when Trossard had two close-range shots saved by Guaita, before Welbeck had a shot cleared off the line. After two Brighton corners five minutes later both Veltman and Maupay had shots charged down.
The bottom line was that Brighton only got one fifth of their shots on target. They paid for that in the fifth minute of added time. Christian Benteke had replaced Mateta after 75 minutes, and he would score his first goal in 12 matches since mid-December. Townsend had lifted a high cross from deep on the left which reached Benteke beyond the far post. He scored with a right-footed shot back across the goal hitting the net to the right of Sanchez. Graham Potter and his Brighton team were devastated.
Tuesday 23rd February, 2021
Leeds United 3 Southampton 0
Diego Llorente, who was signed last summer from Real Sociedad, has had injury problems but made his third appearance tonight. Llorente appeared to be part of a back three. Ralf Hasenhuttl left Danny Ings on the bench and gave his place to Che Adams. 21-year-old Mohamed Salisu, who impressed in his last game, kept his place in the back four, and Nathan Tella was awarded a first Premier League start on the right of midfield.
Southampton had an early free kick taken from the right of the area by Ward-Prowse and Vestergaard missed a good opportunity with a clear header, putting his effort wide. Tella had a great chance after only 7 minutes when Leeds lost the ball just inside their own half. Tella headed for goal and tried to place a shot left of Meslier, but the keeper saved.
Southampton were playing a high defensive line keeping Leeds at bay in the early stages. Roberts had a good chance midway through the first half after Raphinha cut the ball back, but the shot was out well over the target. Raphinha took a Leeds free kick after 26 minutes which Llorente pushed into the middle from the right of the box. Cooper's shot took a touch before going over the bar.
Referee Andre Marriner pointed to the spot when Tella went down under Llorente's challenge after 32 minutes. VAR Kevin Friend took a long look and asked Mr. Marriner to check the monitor. The decision was overturned. The view was that Tella sought the contact. You could call that a euphemism.
Raphinha was released by a great pass (from his own half) by Ayling and raced into the area where Romeu made a brilliant goal-saving tackle.
Hasenhuttl has had his grievances with officials of late and "The Saints" were not happy when Che Adams appeared to score from a Ward-Prowse free kick, but Mr. Marriner indicated he had not blown for the kick to be taken. He did blow his whistle wildly before Adams put the ball into the net.
Bielsa replaced Harrison with Helder Costa at half-time. Redmond had an early shot straight at Meslier, but Leeds took the lead in the 47th minute when Bamford collected Roberts' through ball, getting between Bednarek and Vestergaard before placing his left-footed shot past McCarthy inside his left post.
Meslier saved well from Armstrong’s shot at his right post before Leeds were on the attack again with Raphinha teeing up Roberts who pushed his shot wide. Dallas found Bamford in space towards the right of the area. Bamford’s shot was saved, as was Roberts' follow-up attempt.
Danny Ings and Minamino were inserted after 58 minutes for Redmond and Tella. Klich had to come off through injury and was replaced by Alioski. Alioski provided the pass Raphinha to cut the ball back for Llorente whose shot was saved well by McCarthy's leg.
Southampton had a corner after 64 minutes taken from the right by Ward-Prowse. Vestergaard headed down with power and Bamford cleared the ball in front of his keeper.
Romeu had to come off. He was replaced by Djenepo.
One of the great things about this Leeds side is how virtually every individual can turn up anywhere. They went 2-0 up in the 78th minute when Helder Costa passed inside from the right and Stuart Dallas scored from 20 yards with a left foot shot. Raphinha had created space by diverting defenders with a left to right diagonal run across the Southampton area.
Southampton had a chance when Che Adams diverted a cross straight at Meslier, but Leeds countered quickly and Helder Costa was fouled by Djenepo who was shown a yellow card. Raphinha took the free kick and scored directly with a left-footed shot inside McCarthy's right post. It was a goal he clearly deserved.
The win took Leeds into 10th place, just one point behind Spurs. For Southampton it was a sixth defeat in seven league games.
Friday 19th February, 2021
Wolves 1-0 Leeds
Saturday 20th February, 2021
S'hampton 1-1 Chelsea
Burnley 0-0 West Brom
Liverpool 0-2 Everton
Fulham 1-0 Sheff Utd
Sunday 21st February, 2021
West Ham 2-1 Spurs
A. Villa 1-2 Leicester
Arsenal 0-1 Man City
Man Utd 3-1 Newcastle
Monday 22nd February, 2021
Brighton 1-2 C. Palace
Tuesday 23rd February, 2021
Leeds 3-0 S'hampton
Premier League Table
P W D L F-A GD Pts
1. Man City 25 18 5 2 50-15 35 59
2. Man Utd 25 14 7 4 53-32 21 49
3. Leicester 25 15 4 6 44-27 17 49
4. West Ham 25 13 6 6 39-29 10 45
5. Chelsea 25 12 7 6 41-25 16 43
6. Liverpool 25 11 7 7 45-34 11 40
7. Everton 24 12 4 8 37-33 4 40
8. A. Villa 23 11 3 9 37-26 11 36
9. Spurs 24 10 6 8 37-27 10 36
10. Leeds 25 11 2 12 43-43 0 35
11. Arsenal 25 10 4 11 31-26 5 34
12. Wolves 25 9 6 10 26-32 -6 33
13. C. Palace 25 9 5 11 29-43 -14 32
14. S'hampton 25 8 6 11 31-43 -12 30
15. Burnley 25 7 7 11 18-30 -12 28
16. Brighton 25 5 11 9 26-32 -6 26
17. Newcastle 25 7 4 14 26-43 -17 25
18. Fulham 25 4 10 11 21-32 -11 22
19. West Brom 25 2 8 15 19-55 -36 14
20. Sheff Utd 25 3 2 20 15-41 -26 11