Premier League Review – Matchday 34
Friday 30th April, 2021
Southampton 1 Leicester City 1
Southampton had a man sent off after only ten minutes but took a 61st minute lead before Leicester equalised to keep a grip on their third place. The “Saints” had to manage without the injured Danny Ings. They were seeking revenge for their recent FA Cup semi-final defeat by Leicester.
Vestergaard was the man sent off for his tackle on Jamie Vardy just outside the area for denying a goal-scoring opportunity. Maddison hit the free kick just wide. McCarthy saved a Tielemans shot from inside the area with his leg. The game definitely lacked the excitement of Leicester’s last visit to St. Mary’s when they won 9-0!
Southampton’s penalty was awarded after Armstrong had been fouled on the left. After the free kick Armstrong had a shot handled by Iheanacho. Referee Rob Jones pointed to the spot and James Ward-Prowse made no mistake. Leicester had three corners in succession midway through the second half with James Maddison having a shot taking a slight deflection as it went over and Perez forcing a good save by McCarthy. After the third corner Iheanacho crossed from the right and Jonny Evans headed into the net across the keeper. (68 mins)
McCarthy saved with his feet again, this time from Vardy after 83 minutes, and the ten men secured a point which puts them 10 points clear of the bottom three.
Vestergaard's red card was subsequently rescinded after review.
Saturday 1st May, 2021
Crystal Palace 0 Manchester City 2
Guardiola’s men scored two goals in quick succession in the second half to reach 80 points and take a 13 point lead over United. As things stand, City need three more points to secure a third Premier League title in four years. Andros Townsend made a first start for a month in the Palace line-up which also included left-back Tyrick Mitchell. Pep Guardiola made no less than 8 changes from the team which beat PSG away during the week, including Sergio Aguero, appearing for the first time in a month and making only his sixth Premier League start in his final season for City.
Townsend was involved in a couple of first half moves which gave chances for Benteke. The first was a poor header. The second was a close range shot at the near post which was saved and cleared for a corner. Mitchell had prevented Sterling from scoring inside the Palace area between those chances. Jesus had the ball in the net after 35 minutes but was offside. Most chances were going wide and there were more in the Palace area.
City’s first goal came in the 57th minute and it was that man Aguero, scoring his 258th City goal and his 182nd Premier League goal. Mendy crossed from the left and Aguero took one touch before unleashing a right foot shot high into the net. It was 2-0 within two minutes when Ferran Torres passed a left-footed shot into the net to the right of Guaita from 20 yards. Sterling hit the post with a left foot shot soon after the second goal. Laporte had a close-range shot saved after Benteke got a deflecting touch. Cancelo hit a right foot curler just over the target after another City advance and a clever back-pass by Torres.
The traffic was basically one-way, but Sterling could not score, and is without a City goal since February. Aguero enjoyed his outing and forced a near post save from Guaita with a late chance.
Brighton Hove Albion 2 Leeds United 0
Outside the bottom three, Brighton have the least wins of the remainder of the Premier league. This was their eighth such win and took them a full ten points clear of the relegation zone and surely secure for another year of top-flight football. It wasn’t long before the “Seagulls” took the lead. Trossard had an early shot well saved by Meslier before Welbeck was felled by Alioski inside the area after a free kick from the right. Gross scored from the spot just beating Meslier’s right hand in the 14th minute.
Trossard put a chance over well inside the Leeds area after Meslier & co failed to play out from the back five minutes before the break. Trossard fed a ball to Welbeck towards the left of the Leeds area but the former Manchester United, Arsenal and Watford man fired wide across goal.
Brighton always looked the more likely to score but had to wait till the 79th minute to secure their win. The goal came after a goal kick was returned into the danger zone by Webster. Struijk failed to clear, and Welbeck collected, taking one excellent touch before scoring with a left-foot shot. Leeds’ best chances fell for Harrison and Dallas in each half, but they missed their injured playmaker Kalvin Phillips.
Chelsea 2 Fulham 0
Fulham tried hard in their derby match, but two Havertz goals put paid to their chances of survival leaving them 9 points adrift with only four games left to play. Antonee Robinson tested Chelsea goalkeeper Mendy with a powerful shot after only five minutes, drawing a finely finger-tipped save. Centre-back and captain Andersen wasn’t far away with an adventurous 30-yard shot. However, Chelsea had the lead in the 10th minute with a fine goal, which came from Mendy’s kick, before control and touch by Mount who fed the ball to Havertz on the left, who scored to the left of the keeper.
Lookman had a decent low shot saved by Mendy after Robinson lifted the ball towards the right of the area. Areola made a good save to his right from Ziyech after Werner had passed across the area from the right, forsaking a shooting opportunity. In first half added time Mendy had to save well again, this time from Aina’s 20 yard shot after a ball from the left.
It was 2-0 four minutes into the second half. Havertz fielded a good long ball out by Chilwell, before making the run to take on Werner’s forward pass to score a second personal goal. Chelsea played within themselves thereafter with a crucial Champions league semi-final second leg against Real Madrid to come on Wednesday.
Everton 1 Aston Villa 2
Despite an experienced manager and good close-season signings, Everton are surely under-achieving again as they fell to a Villa side who won only their second game in nine matches. James Rodriguez suffered a calf strain in the warm-up and was replaced by Iwobi.
Ollie Watkins gave Villa the lead in the 13th minute winning the ball in a battle just outside the area with Holgate. Watkins then scored with his right-footed shot past Pickford. Richarlison won Everton’s first corner of the game, which was taken from the right by Digne and headed home from the back post by Calvert-Lewin (19 mins). Calvert-Lewin had another header, this time in open play when Digne crossed from his position on the left and the striker dived low to head on target. Martinez saved. Bertrand Traore caused problems at the other end, hitting a cross/shot from the right which Pickford managed to flap away from danger. Pickford made a good close-range save from Watkins after 32 minutes. El-Ghazi hit the crossbar with a follow-up shot.
After more good work by Traore, this time in a deeper position, Barkley hit a 20-yard shot against the bottom of Pickford’s right post. Barkley was Watkins’ provider two minutes before the break with the striker’s shot passing wide across the goal.
Richarlison had a shot go wide from a similar position after 55 minutes and after Calvert-Lewin fired wide from 22 yards, Villa took the lead in the 80th minute. Traore hit a low pass from the right of the area and El-Ghazi scored with a well-placed right-footed shot from just outside the area, beating Pickford’s dive to his left.
Villa were worth their win and they too are casting their eyes on a possible place in Europe next season.
Sunday 2nd May, 2021
Newcastle United 0 Arsenal 2
Newcastle’s run of four games undefeated led to hopes they might have achieved something against Arsenal, but that was not the case. The “Magpies” do have a very poor recent record against this team and had already lost twice to the “Gooners” earlier this season.
Elneny gave Arsenal a fifth minute lead with a right-footed shot from the edge of the area after Bellerin’s cross was not intercepted. It was Elneny’ s first Premier League goal for the club. Matty Ryan was in the Arsenal goal and had to save a mis-hit shot by Saint-Maximin which looped awkwardly towards goal. Dubravka saved a better shot at the other end, struck by Xhaka from 20 yards out. From the corner it was Almiron who headed Elneny’ s header clear off the goal-line. Callum Wilson, making his first start since 6th February, had to help out his goalkeeper at the back post after a David Luiz glanced header from another corner.
Arsenal scored their second goal in the 66th minute when Aubameyang met Martinelli’s cross and scored from close range with his shot. Newcastle were tepid and in recent games have been rescued by their loan player from Arsenal – Willock – who was not eligible to play against his home club. Newcastle defender Fabian Schar had only come off the bench after 72 minutes but was shown a red card in the 90th minute by Mike Dean for his tackle upon Martinelli.
Newcastle remain 9 points above Fulham with just four games to be played. The last of these is against Fulham at Craven Cottage.
Manchester United v Liverpool – Match Postponed.
This game was postponed following a protest and trespass into the “Theatre of Dreams” by hundreds of United “fans”, if indeed they were all fans. They were protesting against the club’s owners, after the ESL debacle nearly two weeks ago. Players and officials of both teams were holed up in their hotels and I understand Police Officers were injured on Matt Busby Way.
Spurs 4 Sheffield United 0
Spurs achieved their first Premier League double over “The Blades” in their tenth such meeting. It was our first double over this team since the 1975-76 season, but that is only 18 league meetings ago. Our 4-0 win was our best result since we achieved the same result in Division One on 20th October 1990. Paul Walsh scored a hat-trick that day, and Nayim scored our other goal.
Son (16 goals, 10 assists) joined Harry Kane and Bruno Fernandes as one of three Premier League players to both score and assist 10+ goals in the Premier League this season.
Gareth Bale was your clear man of the match with his highest grade since an 8.6 when he scored twice in our 4-0 win over Burnley in February. All of Gareth’s 9 Premier League goals this season have been scored at home where we have won five of our last six such games.
Comments of the week:-
"Without getting carried away, the players seemed more comfortable and. even had a smile on their faces. It was more watchable than most games this season. Since I usually have nothing good to say about Aurier, I will respect his two assists, but he still needs to defend...."
"Marriner wasn't bad. A better game by our experience of him. But he should have looked at the stamp on GLC's face and not relied on the VAR, who in my mind should never do the job again. A deliberate and vicious stamp to the head/face. The low mark because of the VAR. And I'm still not convinced by the Son offside decision."
Monday 3rd May, 2021
West Bromwich Albion 1 Wolverhampton Wanderers 1
Before this game Sam Allardyce had been describing every game as a “must-win”, and after this failure against their Black Country rivals, “The Baggies” have to accept their fate. They are 10 points behind Newcastle and their remaining games are against Arsenal, Liverpool, West Ham and Leeds.
The game was played on a cold, wet and windy night at the Hawthorns. Wolves manager Nuno Espirito Santo gave a second league start to 20-year-old American midfielder Owen Otasowie and also included the 21-year-old Vitinha. Fabio Silva was up front for the visitors. Wolves went on the attack from the outset but had no end product. Sam Johnstone’s first save was from a Saiss header after a corner taken from the left by Vitinha. Ait-Nouri advanced towards the West Brom area after 27 minutes and at least hit a shot on target, although it was weakened by a defender’s touch and easily held by Johnstone.
After good work by Vitinha in midfield, Semedo had a good chance and a left foot shot inside the area, saved well by the West Brom keeper. (29 mins) Johnstone soon had to save again from Vitinha’s shot as Wolves sought an advantage from their domination. Sam Allardyce had been playing a back three and took off O’Shea with Phillips coming on as West Brom reverted to a back four. West Brom had a corner after 41 minutes, taken short before Gallagher swung the ball in from the right and Diagne’s header was cleared off the line by Saiss. Wolves took the lead in the second minute of added time following a nice move from the right which ended with a neat touch by Vitinha, a short pass by Semedo and a shot by Fabio Silva which was strongly blocked but looped up and over the goalkeeper.
West Brom pressed more at the start of the second half with their best chance falling to Townsend whose left foot shot was batted away by Rui Patricio. Pereira had been the creator for this chance. Rui Patricio also made a good save from Gallagher’s shot from the right of the goal area. Johnstone had a save to make, diving to his left to push away Fabio Silva’s shot from nearly 25 yards. West Brom’s equaliser came in the 62nd minute when Diagne headed in at close range after Townsend crossed from the left.
Wolves tried to regain the lead with Fabio Silva bringing another Johnstone save after good work by Otasowie inside the area. Conditions worsened with the cold rain sheeting down as Yokuslu and Neves had shots blocked at either end. Wolves pressed in added time and Traore had a header on target held by Johnstone.
Burnley 1 West Ham United 2
This was not the result that Spurs fans wanted, but “The Hammers” overtook us with this win to enhance their chances of qualifying for a first European place in five years. West Ham had Antonio back from injury and that proved to be pivotal as he scored both West Ham’s goals in a match when all three goals were scored in the first half hour.
West Ham had the early chances with Antonio firing wide from outside the box, Soucek’s soft header easily held by Pope, and Lanzini hitting a right-footed shot just over the bar. However, Burnley took a 19th minute lead from the penalty spot after Wood was fouled by Soucek. Wood hammered home the penalty low to the right of Fabianski.
It wasn’t long before the “Hammers” were level. Formals’ shot hit Antonio after Cresswell’s cross, and the same player had another shot blocked by Mee after a pass from Lingard as West Ham maintained the pressure. McNeil lost the ball to Fornals and after a couple more passes and a cross by Coufal, Antonio headed home in the 21st minute. Eight minutes later it was 2-1 to the visitors and that’s the way it stayed. Benrahma had a shot blocked just inside the area and in the following move Benrahma crossed from the left with Antonio pouncing to score with a touch in front of the keeper.
Benrahma went close with a shot across the goal from the left after 31 minutes.
West Ham were on top early in the second half, but they were not finding the target with their efforts on goal. Burnley went close after 63 minutes when Brownhill’s shot was saved but not held and substitute Rodriguez hit his shot wide in the follow-up play. Rodriguez had a header wide after a 71st minute corner too. Antonio had a hat-trick chance at the other end after Benrahma’s pass but put his shot just the wrong side of Pope’s left post. With added time approaching West Ham won the ball in their half and Fornals raced forward feeding Lingard to his right. Lingard’s shot was defected and nearly caught out Pope, but the keeper managed a reaction save.
At this stage last season West Ham lost at home to Burnley and were fifth from bottom. What a difference a year (well, 8 months actually) makes!
Friday 30th April, 2021
S'hampton 1-1 Leicester
Saturday 1st May, 2021
C. Palace 0-2 Man City
Brighton 2-0 Leeds
Chelsea 2-0 Fulham
Everton 1-2 A. Villa
Sunday 2nd May, 2021
Newcastle 0-2 Arsenal
Man Utd P Liverpool
Spurs 4-0 Sheff Utd
Monday 3rd May, 2021
West Brom 1-1 Wolves
Burnley 1-2 West Ham
Premier League Table
P W D L F-A GD Pts
1. Man City 34 25 5 4 71-24 47 80
2. Man Utd 33 19 10 4 64-35 29 67
3. Leicester 34 19 6 9 61-39 22 63
4. Chelsea 34 17 10 7 53-31 22 61
5. West Ham 34 17 7 10 55-44 11 58
6. Spurs 34 16 8 10 60-38 22 56
7. Liverpool 33 15 9 9 55-39 16 54
8. Everton 33 15 7 11 45-42 3 52
9. Arsenal 34 14 7 13 46-37 9 49
10. A. Villa 33 14 6 13 48-38 10 48
11. Leeds 34 14 5 15 50-52 -2 47
12. Wolves 34 11 9 14 33-46 -13 42
13. C. Palace 33 10 8 15 34-56 -22 38
14. Brighton 34 8 13 13 35-39 -4 37
15. S'hampton 33 10 7 16 41-59 -18 37
16. Burnley 34 9 9 16 31-47 -16 36
17. Newcastle 34 9 9 16 36-56 -20 36
18. Fulham 34 5 12 17 25-45 -20 27
19. West Brom 34 5 11 18 31-65 -34 26
20. Sheff Utd 34 5 2 27 18-60 -42 17 R