Premier League Review – Matchday 26
Saturday 27th February, 2021
Manchester City 2 West Ham United 1
City extended their winning run to 20 consecutive matches. West Ham gave them a run for their money though. Spurs remain the last team to have beaten Pep’s men in November. Both of City’s goals were scored by defenders. Guardiola made no less than 7 changes to his team after their midweek Champions League game. Sergio Aguero was among those included. David Moyes was missing Fabianski in goal, so Randolph got a rare start. The Hammers’ manager opted for a back five with Ben Johnson on the left and Jarrod Bowen making way.
The first corner of the game came after 29 minutes, and the first goal soon followed. The corner was cleared and in the following move the ball was sent to the taker, De Bruyne, who crossed from the right and Dias headed home at the far post. Antonio hit the outside of the post ten minutes later following a cross from the right by Lingard. West Ham equalised two minutes before the break in a move which followed a City throw inside their own half and the loss of the ball by Aguero. Coufal crossed from deep inside the right of the box; Lingard turned the ball towards the far post and Antonio finished from close range.
City’s second goal followed their second corner and was scored in the 68th minute. There was a move which followed the initial corner, but the final pass came from Mahrez inside the area, pushing the ball to Stones who scored with a low shot from 15 yards. West Ham came close to an equaliser in added time when Lingard crossed from the right channel and Diop headed firmly, but just wide across the goalmouth.
West Bromwich Albion 1 Brighton & Hove Albion 0
West Brom were desperate for a win. Brighton were hopeful, but at least they were already four points clear of the bottom three before the game.
The "Baggies" took an 11th minute lead when Gallagher took a corner from the left and skipper Kyle Bartley rose to head home. Brighton had their first corner after 16 minutes and it was quite a while before there was a lull in play when VAR Simon Hooper called Lee Mason to the monitor. He quickly awarded a penalty for a handball by Yokuslu who had challenged Burn for the ball. Pascal Gross hit the top of the bar with his kick, with goalkeeper Sam Johnstone beaten.
Mac Allister was fouled just outside the area by Gallagher and Brighton were awarded a free kick, taken quickly and "scored" by Lewis Dunk. Confusion reigned as initially it looked as if the referee did not award a goal because the kick was taken too quickly. After remonstration, the goal was allowed. Then VAR seemed to be checking offside, before finally the VAR said a second whistle had been heard before the ball went into the net, and specifically before it crossed the line. Therefore, the decision was "no goal" and a re-taken free kick. This time Johnstone saved Dunk's kick. Some five minutes had passed after the initial award of the free kick!
In first half added time Mac Allister fed a nice ball to Connolly inside the area on the left and his shot was saved by Johnstone. Maupay had a good chance in the following play after a short cross from the right by Gross, but this was blocked. There was still time for Maitland-Niles to force a save by Sanchez at the other end after Pereira found him in space. The first half action concluded in the West Brom goalmouth as Maupay had another shot blocked.
Lallana replaced Mac Allister at half-time. Brighton failed after 51 minutes when Maupay's shot was parried by Johnstone, but Connolly spurned the chance to score, lifting his shot high.
Danny Welbeck replaced Connolly after an hour. Shortly after a corner Veltman headed over from a cross by Gross. After 66 minutes Maupay teed up Trossard for a shot, hit from 20 yards, but straight at the goalkeeper.
Mr. Mason awarded Brighton a second penalty when Gross received the ball from Lallana and went down under Gallagher's challenge. Danny Welbeck stepped forward to take this kick, but he hammered his shot against the post. The ball rebounded to the taker at which point Mr. Mason correctly blew his whistle. (Penalty taker cannot touch the ball twice)
Sam Allardyce brought on veteran defender Ivanovic in order to preserve the slender lead but it was Bartley who made a vital and legal challenge inside his area to prevent Brighton from scoring. The "Baggies" got their vital win, whilst the "Seagulls" now have to look over their shoulders.
Leeds United 0 Aston Villa 1
The sad news was announced yesterday (26/02/21) that Leeds legend Peter Lorimer (aged 74) is “battling long-term illness” in a hospice.
There was still no Jack Grealish for Villa. Nakamba came in for Douglas Luiz whilst Jacob Ramsey replaced Barkley. Leeds started with Helder Costa in place of Harrison but were otherwise unchanged.
In only the first minute Bamford crossed from the left and Raphinha made a desperate attempt to make contact at the back post but failed. This is the fourth game being played on this pitch, which was acquired from Spurs, but it was already cutting up badly. Villa took a fifth minute lead following a corner taken on the right. The ball reached Watkins outside the area towards the left. He passed the ball back towards the right and El Ghazi jumped the line of defenders and after one touch beat Meslier.
Martinez made a good reaction save from Roberts after Raphinha's pass. Meslier had to be sharp as he pushed over El Ghazi's shot after 13 minutes. El Ghazi tested Meslier again within minutes after Traore's pass.
There had been chances at either end, with Watkins having a shot saved after Roberts' error in midfield. Ayling had a back-header from a Raphinha free kick saved by Martinez.
There were one or two running battles going on in the second half (Llorente v Watkins was one) as the two teams matched each other with less clear-cut chances. In particular, Leeds were struggling to find their attacking rhythm. Harrison replaced Helder Costa after 64 minutes.
Truth be told, players on both sides became tetchy and the quality of the football suffered. With two minutes left Harrison lifted a good ball to the back of the area but Raphinha could not direct his header properly.
Villa kept a clean sheet to preserve their win which gave them a three point overnight lead over Tottenham.
Newcastle United 1 Wolverhampton Wanderers 1
Steve Bruce gave Dubravka a first start of the season, replacing Darlow in goal. Wolves were unchanged from their last two matches.
Almiron hit the outside of the post after 12 minutes, receiving a good ball from Jonjo Shelvey before advancing and trying to score across Rui Patricio. There was no subsequent offside flag either. Newcastle tried a similar attack ten minutes later after a long ball down the left flank by lewis for Saint-Maximin. The attack ended in a shot by Joelinton which needed a save by the Wolves keeper. Saint-Maximin had the ball in the net two minutes later after Willock’s shot had been saved and parried by Rui Patricio, but the “scorer” had been offside at the time of the initial shot.
Traore had a header saved by Dubravka at his right post, but the ball did still hit the woodwork before going out of play. Traore laid on a nice pass for Pedro Neto after 34 minutes, but that shot was hit wide. Newcastle lost Almiron to injury at half-time.
Lascelles gave Newcastle a 52nd minute lead when he powerfully headed home a cross by Ryan Fraser. The goal followed more individual skill by Saint-Maximin on the left before the ball was sent to Fraser. That goal was equalled by a Neves header after 73 minutes, following a Neto cross from the right of the box.
Saiss made an incredible clearance just in front of his line getting his body in the way of Joelinton’s powerfully hit shot from just 12 yards. In added time Dubravka made a reaction save from Fabio Silva’s close range header which followed a corner. The ball went safely out off the keeper’s right-hand post.
This was the ninth draw in 12 Premier League meetings between these sides.
Sunday 28th February, 2021
Crystal Palace 0 Fulham 0
Our next two opponents served up a 0-0 draw, which leaves Fulham still three points behind Newcastle and Brighton, while Palace are 10 points clear of danger. Roy Hodgson recalled Patrick van Aanholt and Christian Benteke to his starting line-up replacing Tyrick Mitchell and loanee Jean-Phillipe Mateta. Scott Parker also made two changes with Tete and Decordova-Reid getting starts in favour of Robinson and Cavaleiro.
The game offered little excitement or entertainment. Andersen was involved in the two pieces of first half action which nearly led to a goal. One was in the Fulham area when he intercepted a Townsend cross and the ball went to the hands of his keeper. At the other end, the Fulham centre-half could have scored with a header from a free kick taken on the right of the area.
Andersen had Guaita going the wrong way with a second half free kick from over 25 yards, but the ball passed outside the post. Fulham went closer after 65 minutes when Maja took a short pass from Loftus-Cheek and then hit a left foot shot just outside Guaita’s right post. Guaita then had to make a good save from Maja’s header after a cross from the right by Cavaleiro. Palace were tested at the resulting corner with Cahill blocking a shot by Andersen at the back post.
Fulham, along with Brighton, have now drawn more games than any other Premier League team this season. Judging by this game, Spurs will have more trouble with Fulham than they will against Palace.
Leicester City 1 Arsenal 3
Leicester have had a bad week. They were knocked out of the Europa league on Thursday, and now they’ve lost at home to Arsenal, who briefly went above Spurs in the league. Leicester were missing Maddison among others with injuries. Brendan Rodgers started with Iheanacho behind Vardy. Aubameyang was rested, but on the bench, so Lacazette started.
There was no suggestion of what was to come as Youri Tielemans was allowed a run from the right touchline about 40 yards from goal. He made his way to the penalty area and scored with a shot across Leno’s hand. Five minutes later Pepe was brought down, and the initial decision was a penalty. VAR decreed that Ndidi had fouled Pepe outside the area, so it was a free kick. Nothing came of the kick.
Pepe was fouled later in the half a few yards outside the box. Willian took the free kick and David Luiz stooped to head home in the 39th minute. After VAR David Coote called Paul Tierney to the monitor, Arsenal were awarded a penalty because of a handball of Pepe’s shot just inside the edge of the box. Lacazette converted the spot kick (45+2 mins).
Leicester lost Harvey Barnes to a knee injury early in the second half and the word is that he will be out for at least 6 weeks. Pepe scored in the 52nd minute, walking the ball into the net at the end of a team move which had started near the halfway line. Leicester had no answer, and with their mounting injury problems they might struggle to hold onto their top four position.
Spurs 4 Burnley 0
Unsurprisingly, Gareth Bale was your man of the match. He has now won that vote for three of his last four performances. Here are a couple of comments I received:-
1. "Best game for a long time from Sanchez. Bale was a pleasure to watch and must have been a delight to play with. Hope of better things to come for the remainder of the season."
2. "Not to pre-judge the survey, but back to the 'good old days' when Gareth Bale was 'Man of the Match in almost every game during his last season at WHL. COYS!"
Chelsea 0 Manchester United 0
This match was billed as potentially the match of the weekend but the main talking point about the game was surrounding the non-award of a penalty against Hudson-Odoi when challenging Greenwood for the ball. Mendy punched away a long-range Rashford free kick after McTominay had been fouled by Mason Mount. This was after 13 minutes and this was when Hudson-Odoi seemed to knuckle the ball before it rolled along Greenwood’s arm. VAR had a look and called referee Stuart Attwell to the monitor. He decided it was not a penalty. Ziyech had had a low shot saved at the other end by De Gea before the referee’s review of the handball incident.
De Gea made a great save near his right post from Ziyech’s shot after 48 minutes. Shaw made a good block from a follow-up shot by substitute Reece James. Mendy saved well at his left post after 61 minutes from a shot by McTominay after the ball had gone from left to right from Shaw to Wan-Bissaka who returned it to the middle.
McTominay made a vital block in front of his keeper’s left post when Mason Mount threatened to shoot from close range. Fred went close with a right-footed shot, but the ball passed outside Mendy’s left post. Lindelof cleared well from the foot of substitute Werner when he tried to get on the end of a good cross by James.
Chelsea remain unbeaten under Thomas Tuchel’s leadership
Sheffield United 0 Liverpool 2
Jordan Henderson has been ruled out for up to 10 weeks as a result of the groin injury he suffered in the Everton game. He joins Virgil van Dijk, Joel Matip, Joe Gomez and Fabinho on the sidelines, with Fabinho closest to a return. There is good news for Liverpool with Diogo Joto back in training, but he was not involved here. Alisson took compassionate leave following the tragic death of his father this week. Adrian took his place.
Sheffield United had an early free kick and Adrian was in action, saving from McGoldrick, who might have been adjudged offside in any case. Ramsdale spread himself at the other end to save from Firmino who had been teed up by Mane. Ramsdale was then tested by Robertson’s cross which he pushed away from just under the bar.
Adrian was less than convincing when saving McGoldrick’s shot which took a deflection off McBurnie. Ramsdale saved bravely at the feet of Curtis Jones who was trying to reach a cross by Alexander-Arnold. The “Blades” keeper saved again after 29 minutes from Salah’s close-range effort. Two minutes later he was in action again, pushing over Alexander-Arnold’s shot after a poor defensive pass to the Liverpool right back. It looked as if the home team had taken the lead when Kabak turned in a long ball by Stevens with McBurnie threatening. However, Mc Burnie had been offside.
Ramsdale saved yet again, this time from Wijnaldum’s 20-yarder after a pass by Salah. United managed to clear the loose ball – eventually. (39 mins)
Liverpool took the lead in the 48th minute after an Alexander-Arnold cross rebounded off a defender to the feet of Curtis Jones, who rattled the shot home. Mane “scored” an offside goal before McBurnie met Norwood’s cross but headed wide at the other end. It looked as if Firmino had scored Liverpool’s second goal in the 64th minute, but it went down as an own goal by Bryan. Firmino had been involved in at least three stages of the move building up to the goal. Salah somehow missed at close range at the keeper’s left post after a Robertson cross, but Liverpool had their win which brought an end to a run of four consecutive defeats.
Chris Wilder was realistic before and after the game regarding his team’s prospects, recognising the need to prepare for Championship football next season.
Monday 1st March, 2021
Everton 1 Southampton 0
Southampton’s Oriol Romeu will miss the remainder of the season with an ankle injury which requires surgery. Minamino is also out with a hamstring and “The Saints” are still missing Theo Walcott with a thigh injury. Carlo Ancelotti made three changes to his team after their Anfield win. Dominic Calvert-Lewin was back, and Allan was making his first appearance since mid-December. There was no place for James Rodriguez in the squad. Gylfi Sigurdsson started. Ralf Hasenhuttl chose Fraser Forster in preference to Alex McCarthy in goal. Danny Ings started next to Adams whilst Djenepo replaced Romeu in the midfield, not that he is the same type of player.
Everton took a ninth minute lead through Richarlison after Calvert-Lewin won an aerial challenge when Pickford kicked long, and Sigurdsson passed forward to Richarlison who rounded Forster and scored from the right side of goal.
Everton thought they had a second goal when Keane headed in following a 25th minute free kick, but VAR discovered an offside against Holgate who had the initial header.
More danger was caused for Southampton after another Everton free kick after 57 minutes. Keane headed this one across the area and when the ball was not cleared properly, Godfrey went close with a shot from the edge of the box.
Southampton started to put Everton under pressure late in the game and Djenepo went close with a shot from right of goal after a pass by Armstrong after 84 minutes. "The Saints" had a corner in the last minute of normal time from which ultimately Vestergaard had a close range shot smothered by Pickford.
Everton held onto their slender lead and went level on points with Liverpool. Southampton's dismal run of form continues with 8 defeats in 9 league games and no wins.
Ian St. John – R.I.P
It is with sad heart on this day of publication (2nd March, 2021) that I heard the news of the passing of Liverpool legend Ian St. John aged 82. If you hear the word “Saint” football fans (and many others) think of “Greavsie”. They were one of the best double acts around, and usually they talked about football. Liverpool and Motherwell fans are entitled to reflect upon Ian St. John’s playing days. “Saint” scored 118 goals in 425 games for Liverpool. Jimmy Greaves (aged 81) will be thinking very fondly of his former straight man. R.I.P "Saint".
Saturday 27th February, 2021
Man City 2-1 West Ham
West Brom 1-0 Brighton
Leeds 0-1 A. Villa
Newcastle 1-1 Wolves
Sunday 28th February, 2021
C. Palace 0-0 Fulham
Leicester 1-3 Arsenal
Spurs 4-0 Burnley
Chelsea 0-0 Man Utd
Sheff Utd 0-2 Liverpool
Monday 1st March, 2021
Everton 1-0 S'hampton
Premier League Table
P W D L F-A GD Pts
1. Man City 26 19 5 2 52-16 36 62
2. Man Utd 26 14 8 4 53-32 21 50
3. Leicester 26 15 4 7 45-30 15 49
4. West Ham 26 13 6 7 40-31 9 45
5. Chelsea 26 12 8 6 41-25 16 44
6. Liverpool 26 12 7 7 47-34 13 43
7. Everton 25 13 4 8 38-33 5 43
8. Spurs 25 11 6 8 41-27 14 39
9. A. Villa 24 12 3 9 38-26 12 39
10. Arsenal 26 11 4 11 34-27 7 37
11. Leeds 26 11 2 13 43-44 -1 35
12. Wolves 26 9 7 10 27-33 -6 34
13. C. Palace 26 9 6 11 29-43 -14 33
14. S'hampton 26 8 6 12 31-44 -13 30
15. Burnley 26 7 7 12 18-34 -16 28
16. Brighton 26 5 11 10 26-33 -7 26
17. Newcastle 26 7 5 14 27-44 -17 26
18. Fulham 26 4 11 11 21-32 -11 23
19. West Brom 26 3 8 15 20-55 -35 17
20. Sheff Utd 26 3 2 21 15-43 -28 11