Premier League Review – Matchday 33
Friday 23rd April, 2021
Arsenal 0 Everton 1
A comedic error by Arsenal goalkeeper Berndt Leno gave Everton the points. The defeat leaves Arsenal in a potential “all or nothing” scenario where they have to win the Europa League to be playing in Europe next season as they are seven points behind seventh placed Tottenham. There were thousands of protesting Arsenal fans outside the stadium, calling for the present owners to leave their club after the failed European Super League fiasco.
Arsenal were missing both Aubameyang and Lacazette through illness (non-Covid) giving Nketiah an outing up front. Everton had failed to win in their preceding five league games and hadn’t won at Arsenal for 25 years. The “Toffees” had Dominic Calvert-Lewin back in their side. Saka and Richarlison had shots saved at either end, and Sigurdsson had a 22-yard free kick hit the top of the crossbar after 38 minutes. That was as good as the action got in the first half.
Referee Jon Moss awarded Arsenal a penalty when Richarlison caught Ceballos after 51 minutes, but VAR decreed that Pepe had been offside in the build-up to this incident. Pepe was later fouled to the left of the area and after the free kick Chambers hit a shot into the ground which then passed over the bar. Pepe offered Ceballos a pass after 66 minutes and Pickford made a good save to his left from the midfielder’s powerful shot.
The Everton goal came in the 76th minute when Richarlison raced away down the right flank, chased by Xhaka. The Brazilian hit an innocuous cross which hit the inside of Leno’s right leg and passed through his hands into his own net. He didn’t know where to look, but it’s a good job those protesting fans were outside rather than inside the stadium. I imagine Arsenal TV was fun to watch at this moment too, not that I bother.
Jordan Pickford got down well to make a left-handed save from substitute Martinelli. That was all Arsenal had to offer, and Everton held onto that rare away win.
Saturday 24th April, 2021
Liverpool 1 Newcastle United 1
Jurgen Klopp started with a front four of Salah, Mane, Jota and Firmino for the first time since early November. Salah scored on the turn with a powerful shot high into the net after a cross from the left. It looked as if a big home win might be forthcoming, but Liverpool would be thwarted at the very end of the game. Salah scored his 20th Premier League goal for a third season out of four and is one goal behind Harry Kane in the race for the Golden Boot award.
Sean Longstaff got away down the left channel and Alisson had to make a decent save to deny the midfielder midway through the first half. Mane put one chance wide and then Newcastle made a hash of trying to play out from the back before Jota also put a chance wide. Dubravka was out towards the edge of his area to deny Salah later in this half. Mane turned an Alexander-Arnold cross wide a minute before the break. The home side would pay for their profligacy.
Steve Bruce wanted a penalty for a perceived shove by Alexander-Arnold on Joelinton but got nothing from referee Andre Marriner. Alisson made a good save from Joelinton’s left-footed shot soon afterwards. Dubravka denied Firmino with an outstretched foot at the other end in front of his near post. The Newcastle keeper was closed down by Mane when receiving a long pass back, but the ball rebounded out of play off the Liverpool man when Dubravka tried and failed to clear.
Robertson had a shot go just wide and after 64 minutes “super sub” Joe Willock replaced Ciaran Clark. Salah pulled a shot wide after more poor Newcastle play in and around their area when failing to play out. Why do teams persist in this strategy?
Willock had one header go just over from a Matt Ritchie cross in the first minute of added time. Another sub – Callum Wilson – thought he had equalised in the third minute of added time, but because Alisson’s save from his first effort had Wilson's arm just before he did "score" the goal was ruled out. That man Willock did score a legitimate equaliser, (his third goal in three consecutive games) with a deflected shot after Dummett had lifted a ball into the area and Dwight Gayle had slid him a pass. This was in the 95th minute, giving Newcastle another precious point and denting Liverpool’s Champions League hopes.
West Ham United 0 Chelsea 1
West Ham were looking for a win to take them clear of Chelsea in fourth place, but things worked out differently. Balbuena made a first league start since December, in place of the suspended Dawson and ex-Spur Ryan Fredericks played on the left instead of Johnson.
Werner had an early chance go just over the bar when he received a cross by Mount and turned, hitting a right foot shot. Werner was carded after 35 minutes when he fouled Lingard and from the free kick Soucek’s shot was deflected just outside the post by Azpilicueta, who escaped penalty claims because his arm was straight down his side and had come off his body first anyway.
Werner scored two minutes before the interval at the end of a move which he had started as he held off a defender and passed to Pulisic who fed the ball in turn to Chilwell on the left. Werner was in the middle to receive Chilwell’s cross and fire home.
Mason Mount had a 20-yard shot saved but not held by Fabianski after 54 minutes and Werner failed badly with the follow-up when he should have scored again. West Ham’s first shot on target came a minute later from Fornals, but Mendy saved easily. Fredericks had a shot blocked and then Lingard’s shot from one corner of the area floated past the post on the other side of goal.
Fabianski made a decent save diving to his left to deny another 20-yard effort by Mason Mount. There was great controversy over a decision to send off Balbuena who caught Ben Chilwell with the follow-through of his natural kick to clear a loose ball. The problem was that Balbuena’s foot landed heavily on Chilwell’s shin. Referee Chris Kavanagh had not carded the player, but after viewing the monitor decided that a red card was warranted, no doubt because of the danger caused. West Ham successfully appealed this incident, and the red card was overturned. Coufal caught Rudiger on the thigh in a similar situation on the wing in the Chelsea half, but there was no review of that incident, and no card was shown.
A cross by Mason Mount five minutes into added time was just too high for substitute Abraham to head in in front of goal. It was Chelsea who went clear in fourth place after this win. Perhaps West Ham will be part of the race for fifth place and a group placing in next season’s Europa League?
Sheffield United 1 Brighton & Hove Albion 0
Relegated Sheffield United put a sting in the tail of Brighton’s season with this win. Bissouma had impressed in Brighton’s last game and gave Maupay an early chance with a run and a pass, but Ramsdale was out to deny the striker. Sheffield United scored a rather soft goal in the 19th minute. Osborn’s cross was cleared to Brewster’s feet and the defence failed to deal with his pass allowing McGoldrick a second chance which he could not miss. The Brighton defence looked slow and lackadaisical here. There were few shots on target by either side in the first half.
Lallana had an early second half shot comfortably held by Ramsdale and was involved in a 53rd minute move when Welbeck slipped the ball to Maupay whose shot did demand a push round the corner by Ramsdale. Moder thought he had equalised from a corner after 55 minutes, but according to VAR he had come back from an offside position when Welbeck had the first touch from the corner. Maupay managed to scoop a ball over the bar from very close range, and try as they might Brighton could not manage a legitimate equaliser.
Sunday 25th April, 2021
Wolverhampton Wanderers 0 Burnley 4
Burnley took Molineux by storm with a valuable win. Their last 4-0 win in the Premier League was at home to Bournemouth in September 2018 and they haven’t won an away game in the top flight by this margin since 1965, when Ralph Coates scored two of their goals, and Burnley went top of the league (They finished third). Nick Pope returned in goal for Burnley.
Boly made two mistakes in two minutes for Wolves and from the second of these Chris Wood scored in the fourteenth minute with a shot across goal from the right. It was the first of a hat-trick for Wood, whose last was for New Zealand against the Solomon Islands in September 2017. Seven minutes later he was in again as Wolves failed to clear their lines and Dwight McNeil advanced inside the box on the left crossing for an easy finish by Wood. The ball had been gifted to McNeil by Traore. Wood had his hat-trick a minute before the end of the first half, heading home a corner taken by McNeil.
Vydra had the ball in the net four minutes into the second half but had clearly been offside. Chesterfield-born Matt Lowton had a low shot saved at his right post by Rui Patricio. Burnley had to wait till the 15th minute for their fourth goal and again it followed poor defensive work when Saiss gave the ball away on his right flank before Rodriguez and Wood teed up Westwood for a powerful scoring shot from the edge of the area.
Wolves are in no-man’s land in the league, and it looks as if some of their players are already on the beach.
Leeds United 0 Manchester United 0
Leeds’ season is very symmetrical statistically. They have won 14, drawn 5 and lost 14 games, scoring and conceding 50 goals. They didn’t concede today though, and this was their ninth Premier League clean sheet of the season. They are also in ninth place, and whatever happens in their last 5 games they’ve had a very good return to the Premier League. After all, the two clubs who came up with them are likely to be going back down. Each of Leeds’ draws has been creditable, obtained against Man City, Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool and now arch-rivals Manchester United. Marcelo Bielsa named the same starting line-up that had drawn on Monday at home to Liverpool.
The best chance of the first half came from a Manchester United free kick, taken by Rashford, two minutes before the break. Meslier made a good diving save and pushed the ball clear. Wan-Bissaka crossed from the right but Bruno Fernandes turned his shot wide of the far post after 56 minutes. Meslier saved another shot, this time from Greenwood, which was at least on target.
After Alioski had defended well against James in the Leeds area, the Yorkshire side broke away with Helder Costa latching onto a long diagonal pass and hitting a dipping shot which passed just over the bar. There was to be no breaking of this deadlock.
Aston Villa 2 West Bromwich Albion 2
West Brom started the game 10 points from safety and thought they had a precious win until Villa sub Keinan Davis grabbed an added time equaliser for the home side. Villa took the lead with a penalty taken by El Ghazi after a slick passing movement which ended with Barkley being fouled in the box by Ajayi. El Ghazi hammered home with his right foot, as Johnstone went the wrong way to his left. Pereira hit a free kick just over the target shortly after that, but “The Baggies” were level through another penalty in the 23rd minute when Maitland-Niles was fouled by Konsa. Pereira beat Martinez with a powerful kick. The Villa keeper went the right way but just failed to reach high enough to stop the goal.
After 40 minutes Pereira showed great skill along the bye-line to the left of goal before passing the ball to the back of the area where Maitland-Niles hit a right-footed shot which was saved by Martinez. Pereira hit the bar with a curling left-footed free kick from the right-hand corner of the area after Gallagher had been fouled just before the break.
West Brom had the lead two minutes into the second half when Konsa sipped and lost the ball allowing Diagne to advance and hit a shot which was turned into his own net by Tyrone Mings. Bartley nearly deflected a Barkley shot into his own net at the other end, but a corner was the result. Johnstone saved a 25-yard shot by Elmohamady after a 61st minute Villa corner. The West Brom keeper also had to save from Watkins who had been allowed to race clear down the right channel.
Martinez made a fantastic save to hide more blushes for Konsa who had headed a 72nd minute corner towards his own net. The ball rebounded off the post and Martinez just managed to stretch and push the ball over his bar. Pereira aimed at goal four minutes later requiring another very good Martinez save. Davis hit the post with a shot after one corner five minutes from time but was in position to take advantage of slack West Brom defending in the second minute of added time when Watkins headed a long ball into the box into the centre of goal where Bartley failed to clear, and Davis got the vital touch which was a hammer blow to any West Brom hopes of survival.
Monday 26th April, 2021
Leicester City 2 Crystal Palace 1
Palace were playing their first game for 16 days. Their last game was a 4-1 home defeat against Chelsea, who will be Leicester's FA Cup Final opponents. Leicester were unchanged from the team which beat West Brom, whilst Palace made one change - Scott Dann in for the injured Gary Cahill.
The first threat on goal came after 10 minutes when Castagne crossed from the right; Iheanacho failed with an attempted overhead kick but the ball reached Vardy, whose shot was over the target. Palace scored though, within two minutes when the ball was stolen off Tielemans in the middle and Eze continued the move, running forward before threading a nice ball for Zaha, who finished low to the left of Schmeichel.
Tielemans was fouled by Riedewald 22 yards out and the victim took the free kick himself, with Guaita making a comfortable save. Van Aanholt blocked a shot which was on target, hit by Ndidi from the edge of the area after 36 minutes.
Leicester levelled within 4 minutes of the restart when Iheanacho controlled a long ball into the area, getting the better of Kouyate before setting up Castagne for only his second Leicester goal - a left foot finish from 10 yards. Jonny Evans made a great interception to prevent Benteke striking home a ball by Riedewald after he had failed to get round Schmeichel after breaking forward.
Guaita saved a right-footed shot by Maddison from 20 yards, which was somewhat telegraphed. Vardy advanced down the left wing in tandem with Thomas before the striker reached the penalty area and fired low into Guaita’s arms. Eze won, then took a corner from the left after 67 minutes when Benteke met the ball with a header straight at Schmeichel.
Perez and Albrighton came on for Maddison and Thomas. A nice move inside the area featuring Iheanacho and Vardy ended with Vardy shooting from a tight position on the left. The ball passed the goal in front of the goal-line. Iheanacho gave Leicester an 80th minute lead as he picked up Evans' long ball forward and turned inside the area before hitting a left foot rocket high into Guaita’s net.
Leicester’s win put them seven points clear of fifth placed West Ham.
Friday 23rd April, 2021
Arsenal 0-1 Everton
Saturday 24th April, 2021
Liverpool 1-1 Newcastle
West Ham 0-1 Chelsea
Sheff Utd 1-0 Brighton
Sunday 25th April, 2021
Wolves 0-4 Burnley
Leeds 0-0 Man Utd
A. Villa 2-2 West Brom
Monday 26th April, 2021
Leicester 2-1 C. Palace
Premier League Table
P W D L F-A GD Pts
1. Man City 33 24 5 4 69-24 45 77
2. Man Utd 33 19 10 4 64-35 29 67
3. Leicester 33 19 5 9 60-38 22 62
4. Chelsea 33 16 10 7 51-31 20 58
5. West Ham 33 16 7 10 53-43 10 55
6. Liverpool 33 15 9 9 55-39 16 54
7. Spurs 33 15 8 10 56-38 18 53
8. Everton 32 15 7 10 44-40 4 52
9. Leeds 33 14 5 14 50-50 0 47
10. Arsenal 33 13 7 13 44-37 7 46
11. A. Villa 32 13 6 13 46-37 9 45
12. Wolves 33 11 8 14 32-45 -13 41
13. C. Palace 32 10 8 14 34-54 -20 38
14. Burnley 33 9 9 15 30-45 -15 36
15. S'hampton 32 10 6 16 40-58 -18 36
16. Newcastle 33 9 9 15 36-54 -18 36
17. Brighton 33 7 13 13 33-39 -6 34
18. Fulham 33 5 12 16 25-43 -18 27
19. West Brom 33 5 10 18 30-64 -34 25
20. Sheff Utd 33 5 2 26 18-56 -38 17 R