Premier League Review – Matchday 35
Friday 7th May, 2021
Leicester City 2 Newcastle United 4
Brendan Rodgers was forced to make a late change as Jonny Evans was injured in the warm-up. Marc Albrighton came into the team and Christian Fuchs was drafted into the squad to go on the bench. Newcastle were able to include Arsenal loanee Joe Willock, who had to sit out their last game against his home club.
Leicester were on the front foot initially but then conceded free kicks on either side of the area. Matt Ritchie's strikes from the right were blocked, but when Jonjo Shelvey hit a free kick from the left, Fernandez headed just wide across goal.
Callum Wilson raced clear down the right channel and crossed to Saint-Maximin, whose shot was very well saved by Schmeichel’s outstretched foot. When Newcastle took the lead in the 22nd minute, it was not such a surprise. Soyuncu was having a mare and when he gave the ball away in the final third Willock was through on goal and scored with a shot to the left of the Leicester keeper. It was Willock's fourth goal in consecutive games.
Maddison had a shot blocked and following a free kick, Fofana's header was well saved by Dubravka. Saint-Maximin put a shot just wide, but after a 34th minute corner by Ritchie, Dummett got the better of Fofana and headed home for a 2-0 lead. Leicester were not looking like a top four side, or FA Cup finalists, whilst Newcastle were playing in relaxed fashion.
Just before the first half ended, Vardy tried to lift a shot over Dubravka, but the keeper reached high and saved.
Early in the second half Maddison had a back header just over the bar, and Ndidi had a shot on target, comfortably saved by Dubravka. Maddison had a free kick after 53 minutes deflected just wide and from the corner Ndidi headed just wide.
Former Newcastle man Ayoze Perez replaced Ndidi in an effort to get his team back in the game, but within a minute Callum Wilson got away from Castagne after a long ball forward. Wilson worked his way to the right of the area slotting past Schmeichel to make it 3-0. (64 minutes)
Perez forced a save from Dubravka after Albrighton's cross, but Leicester went four down in the 74th minute when Callum Wilson raced ahead of a Fofana to reach Almiron's pass. Wilson hit the post with his first effort, but the ball rebounded to his feet and he did not fail with his second opportunity.
Albrighton got one back in the 80th minute after Vardy turned on a ball crossed from the left. Iheanacho let the ball run to Albrighton who scored with a shot that beat Dubravka's left hand. It was 4-2 after 86 minutes when Iheanacho cut inside two defenders before scoring just inside Dubravka's left post. It was a good job Wilson got his two second half goals!
There were four twitchy minutes of added time for Steve Bruce and his men. In the first of these, Perez had a close range shot following Thomas's short ball inside the area. Dubravka made a brilliant close-range reaction save. That was the last of Leicester’s chances.
The win put Newcastle clear of West Brom and 12 points clear of Fulham.
Saturday 8th May, 2021
Leeds United 3 Spurs 1
Hugo Lloris was easily our man of the match. Here are just a few of the pertinent and heartfelt comments offered by Spurs Odyssey voters:-
"Lloris kept us in it. Aurier was beatable every time. Can't believe he cost 23 million, Tanganga must be better (Foyth is better!) Reguilon seems to have lost his verve and pace. What was Dier doing for the 1st goal, but played well otherwise. Bale on the ball is good but he doesn't put the work in. Dele getting better, Lo Celso poor."
"Poor defensive display again, woeful in fact. No forward guile and second to the ball too often."
"Champs league went out of the window weeks ago. Only the pundits for whatever reason seem to think we have a faint chance, we've had no chance for weeks, we had moments but looked slow and lethargic, the new manager has a massive task, squad is tired and in urgent need of replenishment, identified by Pochettino even before the CL final and that was 2 years ago! Slightly unfair to single out individuals but you have to ask why Eric Dier plays? He makes the same mistakes game after game, awful"
"Not just saying because its happened on a number of occasions to us, but if it’s a big toe or a fingernail showing offside, the decision should go in favour of the attacker. Offside should be clear daylight."
Thanks to all who take the time to comment when completing the post-match surveys. I always read your contributions.
Sheffield United 0 Crystal Palace 2
Roy Hodgson’s side have never truly been relegation candidates, but it took this win over the bottom side to finally secure their status with four games to spare. They took an early lead, in the second minute after Eze made a good run forward before he teed up Benteke, whose shot was half-blocked by Baldock, but then looped over goalkeeper Ramsdale. Benteke was involved in the next significant action when he met Schlupp’s cross, but saw his close-range header well saved by Ramsdale. There was still time for Eze to have a first half shot fired low past Ramsdale’s left post after Basham had lost out to Eze towards “The Blades”’ right flank.
Benteke hit the outside of the post in the 58th minute. Basham hit the side netting after a Norwood corner had been headed down to the defender’s feet. Palace substitute Jordan Ayew had a close-range shot blocked by Stevens and the same player had a right foot shot well saved by Ramsdale after 81 minutes. The game was bookended by Palace’s goals as Eze scored with two minutes remaining on the clock. The midfielder had made a diagonal run from left to right before hitting a shot that did not have power, but due to its placement hit the net just inside Ramsdale’s right post.
Manchester City 1 Chelsea 2
This match was a rehearsal for the Champions League Final and City were looking for a win to seal their fifth Premier League title and their third title in four years. Pep Guardiola made no less than 9 changes from the midweek Champions League semi-final tie. Ederson and Ruben Dias were the only surviving starters. Chelsea made five changes from their midweek success and included midfielder Billy Gilmour. Reece James, Alonso, Ziyech and Pulisic also started. Perhaps it wasn't so much of a rehearsal after all.
The game started quietly but Chelsea began to show more intent. Raheem Sterling was shown a yellow by referee Anthony Taylor when he fouled Werner just outside the City area. Despite a slightly high approach, VAR did not upgrade the card. Nothing came of the free kick, but James tested Ederson’s handling with a powerfully hit cross from the right.
There hadn’t been a shot on target and when Werner turned a James cross into the net after 31 minutes, he had clearly been offside. Sterling received a pass from Aguero after 34 minutes and did have a legitimate shot on target, just inside the right-hand post, but Chelsea's Mendy saved comfortably. Ederson was on the stretch to save Ziyech's shot after 42 minutes, struck from just under 25 yards, before City pounced upon a slip by Christensen when Jesus crossed, and Sterling scored when Aguero missed the opportunity. Christensen was injured and unable to continue. In added time City had a penalty when Jesus went down under Gilmour's challenge. Aguero failed with his attempted Panenka penalty kick.
In the second half Ziyech hit a shot on target which was easy for Ederson and as the hour mark approached, City were put under a little pressure before Pulisic fired over from 20 yards. Ziyech did level the scores in the 63rd minute when Azpilicueta crossed from the right and the goal came with a low left foot shot from the edge of the box, squeezed inside Ederson's left post.
With 20 minutes to go City put on Gundogan and Foden for Ferran Torres and Aguero.
Werner stretched but just failed to connect with James' cross into the 6-yard zone. Werner had one "goal" disallowed for an obvious offside, but Chelsea had another effort by substitute Hudson-Odoi disallowed for a much closer offside when James had crossed the ball. With five minutes remaining Gundogan passed inside from the left and Foden tried a clever shot across the Chelsea goal, but the ball passed wide of the far post.
Sterling wanted a penalty when he got ahead of Zouma in the area, but VAR supported Mr. Taylor's "no penalty" decision. Alonso had a chance at the other end, but his shot was wide. Alonso did have a goal in added time when Hudson-Odoi fed the ball forward to Werner on the right. The German crossed and Alonso lifted a shot beyond Ederson into the City net to ensure there would be no title celebrations yet.
City will rue Aguero's failed penalty, and Chelsea have claimed some kudos for the forthcoming Champions League final. They also climbed to third place in the league table.
Liverpool 2 Southampton 0
Liverpool climbed back above Spurs with this win, and with a game in hand remain in the hunt for a Champions League place. They had to wait till the 90th minute for the second goal which secured their win against a Southampton side who have managed just three league wins in eighteen games in this calendar year. Jurgen Klopp chose Rhys Williams and Nat Phillips as his central defenders. Fabinho was in midfield and Firmino on the bench with Diogo Jota chosen for the front three. Vestergaard was available for “The Saints” as his red card in last week’s game against Leicester had been rescinded on appeal. Danny Ings is still out with injury.
Liverpool’s first real threat came from Salah after 18 minutes after Jota had clipped a ball over the defence. Forster saved the low shot hit from the right of goal. Forster saved well from Jota seven minutes later after Mane had back-heeled the ball inside the area and the former Wolves man hit a right foot shot at the keeper. After the corner, Alexander-Arnold fed a ball to Salah who forced another save from the “Saints” busy keeper. Wijnaldum hit the top of the bar from another corner with his header, but in fairness to Forster, the keeper had his hand just beneath the bar in the right spot.
Alisson had to save from Che Adams after Southampton had attacked down the right wing thanks to Walker-Peters’ ball to Walcott who passed forward to Tella who crossed. Alisson could only parry the ball but then held cleanly when Redmond was allowed a follow-up shot by the slow Liverpool defence. Mane gave Liverpool a 31st minute lead against his former club, heading in Salah’s cross from the right at the back post.
Jota had a shot saved at his right post by Forster in the second half as Liverpool struggled to extend their lead and had Alisson to thank when he prevented Adams’ pass being converted at close range by substitute Obafemi. The Liverpool keeper saved again, pushing Diallo’s shot over his bar after Adams had headed down a cross. The keeper then presented the ball to Adams as he failed to play out properly, but Adams hit the ball straight back at the lucky keeper.
Liverpool’s second goal followed a mistake by Walker-Peters and a pass inside by substitute Firmino for Thiago Alcantara who scored with a low shot inside Forster’s left-hand post. The shot took a deflection, but it counts as Thiago’s first Liverpool goal.
Sunday 9th May, 2021
Wolverhampton Wanderers 2 Brighton & Hove Albion 1
Brighton thought they had done enough to take a point from Molineux, despite having skipper Lewis Dunk sent off for a second time this season, but Wolves’ 21-year-old Morgan Gibbs-White, given his second Premier League start of the season scored a 90th minute winner. To add to their woes, striker Neil Maupay was shown a post-match red card by referee Jon Moss, presumably for foul and abusive language towards the officials.
Wolves manager Nuno was giving youth a chance in this game and Vitinha had an early shot saved by Sanchez after a pass by left back Ait-Nouri. Brighton took the lead from a 13th minute and it was Lewis Dunk who scored the goal when he powerfully headed down Gross’s kick. “The Seagulls” were glimpsing assured safety but would ultimately be disappointed. Brighton maintained some pressure on the Wolves goal, and from another corner Lewis Dunk headed goalward again, only to be denied by Rui Patricio, and the bar. Maupay went close with a left foot shot after Welbeck’s touch from the left.
Gibbs-White had a shot hit the side netting after Ait-Nouri’s pass four minutes into the second half. Dunk was sent off four minutes later as Fabio Silva was sent away by Vitinha, and Dunk held him back. The card was shown for preventing a goal-scoring opportunity, so Dunk will miss one game only. It was the first Premier League red card shown by Mr. Moss this season. Maupay would be his second.
Traore came off the bench for Wolves and following a cross from the right, Moutinho brought a good save from Sanchez inside his right post. Traore levelled the scores inside 76 minutes, and with a shot inside the area, after taking a short pass from Fabio Silva. Gibbs-White should have scored in front of goal after Traore had stolen the ball off goalkeeper Sanchez but skied his shot. The 21-year-old made amends in the last minute after a good Wolves build-up and a final cross from the left by Ait-Nouri. Gibbs-White first shot was blocked, but he crashed home the second chance which was presented.
Aston Villa 1 Manchester United 3
Villa were unchanged after their win against Everton. Dean Henderson was in goal for a strong United team. De Gea had played in the midweek Europa League semi-final which United won on aggregate against Mourinho's next assignment Roma. United started strongly and both Shaw and Pogba had shots saved by Martinez inside the first 6 minutes. Fred also had a shot on target but hit straight at the keeper in the early phase. Villa won a couple of corners, but Henderson had yet to be stretched.
Rashford tried to get on the end of Greenwood’s pass across the Villa area, but Matt Targett defended well and cleared the ball. United were then caught out in the 24th minute when McGinn won the ball and passed to Douglas Luiz in a central position. Douglas Luiz passed to Bertrand Traore who showed strength and skill against Lindelof, turning before hitting a super left foot shot across the goal, hitting the net in Henderson’s top left corner.
United mounted a decent attack after 38 minutes with plenty forward and involved in a short passing move, which ended with a shot by Rashford from outside the area which was straightforward for Martinez. Shortly afterwards Greenwood hit a shot from the right of goal which Martinez could only parry but Konsa was alert and cleared before Pogba could pounce.
Villa were under pressure early in the second half and referee Chris Kavanagh pointed to the spot when Pogba fell under the challenges of Douglas Luiz. You know who (Bruno Fernandes) stepped up and skipped before scoring to the left of Martinez who had gone the wrong way. (52 mins) It was 2-1 to United four minutes later when Wan-Bissaka passed inside to Greenwood, who turned Tyrone Mings before scoring inside the keeper's left post.
Henderson had to save from Maguire's intercepting header when Targett crossed from the left and Traore was threatening. After a Villa corner and whilst play continued, there was a lengthy VAR review of a possible handball in the area by Greenwood. The end result was no penalty. Greenwood was replaced by Cavani soon afterwards.
Harry Maguire tried to carry on after treatment when he collided with El Ghazi, but he had to be replaced by Bailly. Maguire ended a run of 71 consecutive Premier League matches for Manchester United in which he completed 90 minutes. Villa tried to take advantage of the disruption caused in the United defence without success. Cavani made it 3-1 in the 87th minute when Rashford crossed from the right and the Uruguayan glanced a neat header across Martinez into the far corner.
Villa were down to ten men soon afterwards when Watkins was given a second booking for simulation when challenged by Henderson. United saw out the six minutes of added time and with the win ensured that their City rivals have to wait to celebrate the Premier League title. In fact, United play two more games before City play on Friday night, so they could even draw six points closer.
West Ham United 0 Everton 1
In a game which lacked the entertainment the pre-match hype might have suggested, where Everton’s Allan helped his defence to frustrate “The Hammers”, Dominic Calvert-Lewin scored the goal which almost ends West Ham’s hopes of a first Champions League season, whilst enhancing “The Toffees”’ European ambitions. The goal came in the 24th minute following a good low pass forward by Ben Godfrey, taken on by Calvert-Lewin before he scored with a right foot shot from 10 yards. It was the striker’s 16th Premier League goal of the season equalling Romelu Lukaku’s record (Premier League, of course) for a season for “The Toffees”.
Benrahma took a pass from Lingard at the other end, but his shot took a deflection and won a corner. Sigurdsson had a 25-yard free kick well saved by Fabianski, diving to his right. Fabianski saved from Richarlison who wanted a penalty in the post-save collision, getting no response from referee Stuart Attwell, who had earlier denied Antonio a penalty at the other end. Benrahma just missed the target with his header after Fornals’ ball after 38 minutes.
Fornals teed up Coufal in the second half but his right-footed shot rebounded off Pickford’s right post. Bowen failed to take advantage of the rebound as well. Coleman had a good chance over-lapping to reach Calvert-Lewin’s pass, but he was denied by excellent defending by Lingard who had tracked Coleman’s run. Substitute Josh King hit the post with a late header following Calvert-Lewin’s lifted ball from the left of goal.
Arsenal 3 West Bromwich Albion 1
West Brom finally had their relegation confirmed with this defeat, which also gave Sam Allardyce his unenviable first Premier League relegation as a manager. “The Baggies” have now been relegated from the Premier League as many times as Norwich, who will return as Championship winners.
West Brom’s star man Pereira almost surprised Leno with a 12th minute left foot curler that just passed the wrong side of the post. Robinson hit the bar a minute later following Townsend’s cross from the left, but the offside flag was then raised anyway. Arsenal took the lead in the 29th minute when Smith-Rowe met a good cross from the left by Saka who had earlier failed with another good crossing opportunity and had also been denied a penalty claim. Five minutes later it was 2-0 when Pepe smacked in a shot which he hit from the right-hand corner of the penalty area. West Brom were now surely doomed.
Pereira scored a fine solo goal in the 67th minute, picking up the ball just inside the Arsenal half, before heading for their area and beating Leno with a well-placed shot. Pereira would be a great buy for Spurs, wouldn’t he? Willian had a shot blocked and was then fouled enabling the former Chelsea man to score his first Arsenal goal from the free kick in the 90th minute.
Monday 10th May, 2021
Fulham 0 Burnley 2
This was a do or die night really for a Fulham side who started the game 9 points behind Burnley, who were fourth from bottom. The game was preceded by silence for former Fulham midfielder Alan Slough who recently passed away. Slough was a member of the 1975 Fulham team which reached the FA Cup Final. That side included Bobby Moore and Alan Mullery.
Anguissa had the first shot on target after 5 minutes, hitting a left foot shot after moving in from the right hand side, bringing a save from Nick Pope at his right post. As has often been the case this season Fulham played some attractive football going forward, but generally lacked the killer touch. Tarkowski defended well preventing Cavaleiro's cross reaching Lookman, and Cavaleiro later had a left foot shot on target, but it was too easy for Pope. Lookman also had a couple of shots blocked just inside the Burnley area.
Burnley on the other hand carried more threat, particularly with Chris Wood at the head of their attack. Wood had the ball in the net from Vydra's cross, but Vydra had played the ball from behind the bye-line. After 20 minutes Wood dived to meet Charlie Taylor's cross, but the ball went off Tosin for a corner. Tarkowski headed that down for Wood, whose close-range effort was saved by Areola, costing another corner. Burnley took the lead after 35 minutes. Vydra raced and beat Andersen to a long diagonal pass by Lawton from deep in the Burnley half and got to the bye-line. This time he kept the ball in play and cut the ball back for the advancing Westwood to score.
Vydra went close with a shot of his own but the ball passed across the goalmouth and in front of the far post. Burnley made it 2-0 a minute before half-time after Anguissa lost the ball just inside the Fulham half and Burnley attacked. There was a degree of luck in the run of the ball to Brownhill just outside the area, but he slotted a pass to Wood who beat Areola with a shot inside his left post. That was surely game and Premier League season over for "The Cottagers".
Fulham had most of the early possession in the second half, with no end result. Pope punched out a corner, then comfortably saved a Mitrovic header from another. Decordova-Reid delivered a cross from the right, but Mitrovic hit the side netting with this header. Lookman stumbled as he anticipated a Tarkowski challenge in the area, but the Burnley player had pulled out of his intended tackle. VAR looked at a challenge by Taylor on Cavaleiro on the other side of the area a minute later, but there was no foul.
VAR took a long look at a potential handball by Fulham goalkeeper Areola when he was miles out of the area and stopped Vydra’s header forward with his arm outstretched. Somehow, the keeper escaped sanction of any nature. Anguissa hit the bar with a cracking shot after Lookman's pass in the 70th minute, but the ball bounced away, with Lookman winning a corner soon after.
For all their efforts there would be no breakthrough for Scott Parker’s side and their relegation was confirmed. Meanwhile, Burnley (confirming their fifth consecutive Premier League season) climbed to 14th place.
With Manchester City all but confirmed as Champions, the only issues left to be decided are the final Champions League and lesser European qualifiers. One or more of those matters could yet go to the last day of the season.
Friday 7th May, 2021
Leicester 2-4 Newcastle
Saturday 8th May, 2021
Leeds 3-1 Spurs
Sheff Utd 0-2 C. Palace
Man City 1-2 Chelsea
Liverpool 2-0 S'hampton
Sunday 9th May, 2021
Wolves 2-1 Brighton
A. Villa 1-3 Man Utd
West Ham 0-1 Everton
Arsenal 3-1 West Brom
Monday 10th May, 2021
Fulham 0-2 Burnley
Premier League Table
P W D L F-A GD Pts
1. Man City 35 25 5 5 72-26 46 80
2. Man Utd 34 20 10 4 67-36 31 70
3. Chelsea 35 18 10 7 55-32 23 64
4. Leicester 35 19 6 10 63-43 20 63
5. West Ham 35 17 7 11 55-45 10 58
6. Liverpool 34 16 9 9 57-39 18 57
7. Spurs 35 16 8 11 61-41 20 56
8. Everton 34 16 7 11 46-42 4 55
9. Arsenal 35 15 7 13 49-38 11 52
10. Leeds 35 15 5 15 53-53 0 50
11. A. Villa 34 14 6 14 49-41 8 48
12. Wolves 35 12 9 14 35-47 -12 45
13. C. Palace 34 11 8 15 36-56 -20 41
14. Burnley 35 10 9 16 33-47 -14 39
15. Newcastle 35 10 9 16 40-58 -18 39
16. Brighton 35 8 13 14 36-41 -5 37
17. S'hampton 34 10 7 17 41-61 -20 37
18. Fulham 35 5 12 18 25-47 -22 27 R
19. West Brom 35 5 11 19 32-68 -36 26 R
20. Sheff Utd 35 5 2 28 18-62 -44 17 R