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Spurs Odyssey Reviews the Premier League Season
for 2020-21 - Matchday 36

Premier League Review – Matchday 36

Tuesday 11th May, 2021

Manchester United 1 Leicester City 2

This match was brought forward from the weekend as Leicester will be playing Chelsea in the FA Cup Final. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer expressed his disappointment with the announcement of this week’s fixtures which include the postponed game against Liverpool. Ole suggested that such a schedule was unprecedented, but of course Spurs had a similar schedule earlier in the season, at the end of which they beat United 6-1 at old Trafford!

As had been telegraphed Ole made no less than 10 changes to the side which had beaten Aston Villa on Sunday. One of those was enforced as Harry Maguire has ligament damage but hopes to be available for the Europa League Final on 26th May. Defeat to Leicester formally gave the title to Manchester City, and almost seals Leicester’s qualification to the Champions League. Mason Greenwood was the only survivor from the team which had beaten Villa at the weekend. There were debuts in midfield for 18-year-old Amad Diallo and 19-year-old Anthony Elanga. Leicester were still missing Jonny Evans and played Thomas and Perez instead of Ricardo and Maddison.

Leicester were in the United half for most of the first ten minutes, and at the end of that spell they took the lead with a great goal by Luke Thomas, smashing home a left-footed shot into the far corner after Tielemans’ cross from the right. Greenwood equalised five minutes lager with a right foot shot, taking a pass from Amad who was to his right. Amad had got the better of Thomas before hitting the pass.

Maddison came on before a 66th minute corner, and Solskjaer put on two of his big guns – Rashford and Cavani for Elanga and Greenwood. From the corner, taken by Albrighton, Soyuncu powered a header into the net for Leicester’s winner. Tielemans just failed to make contact with Vardy’s header across goal to make it 3-1. Another big gun – Bruno Fernandes – came on before the end, but Leicester took all three points while the other side of Manchester began their celebrations.

Southampton 3 Crystal Palace 1

Palace took an early lead with Christian Benteke scoring a second minute goal for the second consecutive game, but Southampton bounced back to reach the once magical 40-point mark with a win which included two goals by Danny Ings. Benteke’s goal followed a free kick from the left by Milivojevic, a header back across the area by Dann and good skill by the striker in bringing the ball under control, before turning and touching the ball forward to fire home. Ings scored his first goal after 19 minutes, taking Redmond’s cross from the left before displaying his brand of skill with a touch, turn and well-placed shot inside Guaita’s left post.

Zaha went down after Redmond’s challenge five minutes before the break, but Milivojevic’s spot-kick was saved by Forster diving low to his left. Southampton regained the led three minutes into the second half. Ward-Prowse had won a corner with his free kick, and he took the corner which was met by Armstrong on the right of the area. Armstrong hit the ball towards the far post where Che Adams scored from an acute angle. Danny Ings settled the game in the 75th minute after a fine move through the middle with passes by Ward-Prowse, and Adams before Ings scored from 12 yards.

Wednesday 12th May, 2021

Chelsea 0 Arsenal 1

This was a match between one European finalist and another team which had fallen at the semi-final stage in last week’s Europa League. The two teams had fought out a Europa League Final two years ago, when Chelsea won 4-1. Chelsea have Saturday’s FA Cup Final and the Champions League final to look forward to. Arsenal are staring non-participation in European competition down the barrel for the first time in 25 years.

Thomas Tuchel might have taken his eye off the ball here. Having beaten (now) confirmed Champions Manchester City at the weekend, the Chelsea manager made 7 changes to his team, no doubt thinking about Saturday’s FA Cup Final, but in losing to Arsenal the teams just behind Chelsea have been given a chink of light in their pursuit of a Champions League place. Ominously, Arsenal moved to within a point of Spurs, although we have a game in hand. It is imperative that we win our remaining games to give ourselves the best chance of European qualification, and of finishing above our near rivals.

Havertz raced forward after a mistake by Mari at the back for Arsenal, but the Chelsea man put his chance over the target. Arsenal were gifted the only goal of the game in the 16th minute. Arrizabalaga was to the left of his goal when Jorginho hit a back pass towards the empty net which the keeper had to stretch to save. Arrizabalaga could only push the ball to Aubameyang who cut it back to Smith-Rowe for an easy finish. Mount had a shot blocked at the other end following an attack led by the run of Azpilicueta down the right. Leno saved well from Mount after Havertz had slipped him the ball to his left.

The remainder of the game was more or less a case of Arsenal defending and Chelsea missing their chances. Pulisic did have the ball in the net after a second half corner but had been offside when Havertz headed the ball down. Chelsea didn’t have a legitimate shot on target in the second half until Pulisic’s weak shot at Leno late in the game. Zouma’s header was touched onto the bar by Leno in the 90th minute, and substitute Giroud’s effort also hit the bar, but Arsenal held on and managed a first league double over Chelsea since the 2003-04 season.

Thursday 13th May, 2021

Aston Villa 0 Everton 0

Villa had Jack Grealish on the bench after a 12-game absence, but even his entrance to the field of play after 72 minutes could not add the necessary spark to a game which remained goal-less. Everton remain below Spurs on goal difference, so they now faced the same challenge of seeking to win their last three games to secure a European place. Ollie Watkins was suspended for this game, so his place went to Keinan Davis. Everton were missing the injured James Rodriguez but did welcome Doucoure back to the side after a two-month absence.

Tyrone Mings put a header just wide for Villa after 17 minutes following Douglas Luiz’s cross from the right after a long corner by Barkley. El Ghazi fired over with a shot from 25 yards. There was little goalmouth action. In the second half Godfrey got on the end of a Sigurdsson free kick which did force a save by Martinez at his left post. Grealish came on and took the Captain’s armband from Tyrone Mings. Gomes had a good chance when he received Richarlison’s ball from the right and hit a shot which was cleared by Elmohamady in front of Martinez. Calvert-Lewin had a late header saved at close range by Martinez.

Manchester United 2 Liverpool 4

There were protests outside the Old Trafford ground, but after increased security and police presence both teams made it to the stadium and the game went ahead. United made 10 changes after their defeat to Leicester on Tuesday, with Bailly the only survivor from that team. The only change for Liverpool was Firmino for Mane.

In the early exchanges Alexander-Arnold provided a great pass for Firmino to have a shot on goal which was blocked by Bailly. At the other end, Alisson gifted the ball to Cavani, but the striker pulled his shot wide. United took a 10th minute lead after Rashford pushed the ball to Wan Bissaka on the right. The right back passed back to Fernandes, whose shot was heading for the far post, but was poked into his own net by Nat Phillips. The goal was credited to Fernandes.

Henderson did well to come out a little and save from Jota after 22 minutes following another good deliver by Alexander-Arnold. Referee Anthony Taylor awarded Liverpool a penalty for a foul by Bailly upon Phillips following a Liverpool corner. VAR called the referee to the monitor and the final view was that Bailly had played the ball first. The decision was "no penalty".

Henderson made another good save from Jota after 32 minutes. This was a well-struck left foot shot after Robertson's pass. A corner resulted and from this Phillips passed low to Jota who beat Henderson with a neat touch. United rode the storm of Liverpool pressure before Paul Pogba got into the area on the left side and unleashed a shot which hit the side netting. There were three minutes of first half added time and in the third of these after an Alexander-Arnold free kick Firmino met the ball with a powerful header at the back post.

Liverpool started the second half brightly, but United contributed by playing poorly out of the back. Alexander-Arnold's shot could only be parried by Henderson and Firmino followed up to score a second personal goal and Liverpool’s third. (47 mins) Jota nearly made it 4-1 after 58 minutes but his shot rebounded off the post with Henderson beaten. Alexander-Arnold and Firmino had been involved in the build-up after Fred had given the ball away just inside his half. United were all over the place and Alexander-Arnold hit a left footed shot which Henderson did save.

Rashford got a goal back for United after 68 minutes following a neat exchange with Cavani and a final left foot shot inside Alisson's left post. It was nearly 3-3 when substitute Greenwood had a shot well blocked by Phillips in front of goal. Fernandes had a free kick 22 yards out after Thiago had beaten down his shot with raised arms. The free kick passed over the target.

United had been pressing hard for an equaliser but when the ball broke for Salah after a Pogba challenge in the Liverpool half Mo Salah was away and beat Henderson to his right from 15 yards. (90 minutes) The game was put beyond the reach of the home side, whilst Liverpool leapt up to fifth place, giving themselves a shout for a Champions League place.

Friday 14th May, 2021

Newcastle United 3 Manchester City 4

This was an entertaining game with three second half goals in six minutes sealing an away win for City who had twice been behind. With the title won, and of course a Champions League Final to prepare for, Pep Guardiola gave 35-year-old goalkeeper Scott Carson (actually on loan from Derby County) his first Premier League game for 10 years.

City were given the traditional guard of honour as they entered the St. James’ Park pitch. “The Magpies” were again without Callum Wilson, whose season is over. Joelinton took his place. Dubravka made an easy save after 20 minutes from Cancelo’s shot and after a subsequent long kick, Newcastle won a corner after Saint-Maximin passed to Joelinton, whose shot was deflected. Emil Krafth headed home powerfully from the corner in the 25th minute. Jonjo Shelvey hit the bar with a free kick after Almiron had been fouled 22 yards out by Ake.

Cancelo equalised with a low strike from the left-hand corner of the area which beat Dubravka to his left, taking a big deflection off Murphy. (39 mins) City took the lead three minutes later after a very clever aerial back-heeled shot by Ferran Torres when he met Gundogan’s free kick struck from the left flank.

Newcastle were awarded a penalty two minutes into first half added time after Joelinton had sent Saint-Maximin forward with a good pass and ran to the area to take the return pass. He went down under Ake’s challenge, but the initial decision was offside against Saint-Maximin which was overturned by VAR. Joelinton took the kick and beat Carson’s dive to his right.

The second half goal-rush began when Joe Willock was brought down by Kyle Walker and took the spot-kick himself. Carson saved well low to his left, but Willock snapped up the rebound to score his fifth goal in consecutive games. (62 mins) Torres equalised again two minutes later, prodding the ball home with his left foot after Gabriel Jesus crossed low from the right. 21-year-old Torres had his first club hat-trick in another two minutes when a Cancelo shot rebounded off the post and Torres fired in the rebound. Torres’ only other professional hat-trick had been for his country (Spain) in their 6-0 thrashing of Germany last November.

Saturday 15th May, 2021

Burnley 0 Leeds United 4

In-form Leeds gave Burnley a thrashing but Macedonian Ezgjan Alioski stole some negative headlines over a gesture aimed at Burnley’s Dwight McNeil which might yet to lead to disciplinary action. Nick Pope was out again with injury and Peacock-Farrell took over. Apart from, an early shot by Brownhill, Meslier had not been tested in the Leeds goal. Peacock-Farrell soon had to make a save from Bamford, but Leeds got no reward for some attractive attacking play until a minute before the break when Raphinha sent Klich away from deep in the midfield. Klich raced on and scored with a well-placed 22 yard shot inside the keeper’s left post.

Vydra got away from the Leeds defence early in the second half, but his shot was saved by Meslier’s out-stretched leg. Leeds’ second goal was somewhat fortuitous as Alioski’s shot from outside the area was off target but diverted into the net by Jack Harrison. (59 mins) Meslier saved well again, this time from substitute Gudmundsson, but Leeds made it 3-0 in the 77th minute with a well-taken goal by substitute Rodrigo who took Harrison’s pass well, turning quickly before scoring with a neat dink over the keeper. Rodrigo scored again within two minutes. This time Harrison passed from the left and Rodrigo scored with a low left-footed shot.

Wolves in their most recent first season back in the Premier League achieved a creditable 57 points and qualified for Europe. Leeds have a chance of beating that total, but not really any chance of a return to Europe. They have had a great season though and offered plenty of entertainment.

Southampton 3 Fulham 1

Relegated Fulham gave a first Premier League start to 18-year-old Fabio Carvalho. Southampton boosted their points tally and league placing with a comfortable win. It took them until the 27th minute to take the lead though, when Ward-Prowse whipped in a free kick from the right and Adams hooked the ball high into the net from close range. Areola made an excellent save from another free kick taken by James Ward-Prowse. This one was from the edge of the area and in a central position after Minamino had been fouled by Aina, who had lost the ball allowing Southampton to move forward.

Danny Ings was replaced by Nathan Tella after 58 minutes, who had his first senior goal inside the 60th minute. The goal came from a cross by Kyle Walker-Peters which Tella finished nicely from 8 yards. Fulham’s Bryan had a shot go wide at the other end before Carvalho scored his debut goal. It was a good finish too after a move from the right where Tete passed inside to Decordova-Reid who fed the scorer with a quick pass. Carvalho’s shot was hit high into the net. (75 mins) It was 3-1 after 82 minutes following a good flowing Southampton move which ended with a neat back-heeled pass by Tella to Walcott who scored from the edge of the area inside Areola’s right post. Tella forced a save by the Fulham keeper after a solo run into the box from the left.

Brighton & Hove Albion 1 West Ham United 1

This slip-up by “The Hammers” opened the door for Spurs to go above them on goal difference thus regaining control over their European destiny which will hopefully lead to a Europa league spot. Brighton drew their 14th league game of the season – two more than any other team.

Brighton were without the suspended Lewis Dunk and Neal Maupay. Declan Rice returned for West Ham after a six-game absence. There were no shots on target for the first 40 minutes, but West Ham did have a flurry of chances just before the break with both Fornals and Lingard having shots blocked and Soucek’s shot forcing a save by Sanchez.

Brighton had a concerted attack early in the second half with both Trossard and Alzate having shots blocked in and around the West Ham area. Jahanbakhsh received a good diagonal ball from Dan Burn and beat Fabianski with a shot which passed just wide across the goal. There were only 10 minutes to go, and still no score when substitute Benrahma returned a corner to the centre where Dawson headed wide.

Danny Welbeck scored what Brighton thought would be an 84th minute winner when he received a forward ball from substitute Tau to beat Fabianski with a shot lifted over the advancing goalkeeper. Benrahma equalised three minutes later with a rifled shot from 22 yards after the ball had been half-cleared following a few efforts around the area. West Ham piled on the pressure for a winner and begged for a penalty when Lingard’s shot struck a defender’s arm which was beside his body and halfway round his back. No chance!

West Ham were in the top four before they lost three of the four games which preceded this match. Now they have a fight on their hands for any European place.

Sunday 16th May, 2021

Crystal Palace 3 Aston Villa 2

Jack Butland was given a first league start for Palace and made his first Premier League appearance for three years. Ollie Watkins was back for Villa after his one-game suspension, but Jack Grealish again started on the bench as his rehabilitation following injury continues. Butland made a good save at his nearside as Watkins latched onto Traore’s ball and hit a rising shot from the right corner of the box. The former Stoke keeper was beaten inside the other post two minutes later when Watkins laid back Elmohamady’s cross and McGinn hit a good low shot from 20 yards out.

Townsend was fouled 20 yards out and took the free kick himself. Martinez saved with a dive to his left. Benteke equalised in the 32nd minute when Tyrick Mitchell lifted a cross from the left side of the area and Benteke rose to head home. It was Benteke’s third goal in consecutive games – something he has not done for four years. Two minutes later Villa had the lead again. McGinn got away from his marker on the right and when he crossed from near the bye-line Watkins headed towards the back of the area where El Ghazi was un-marked and scored with a right foot shot.

Martinez made a very good left-handed save from a second half Benteke header following a corner taken on the left. Butland might not have had too much sight of an El Ghazi free kick taken from the left, but he did manage to block the shot which ran well clear of danger. Eze had a curling shot blocked after a short pass by Townsend. Eze provided the pass from Zaha cut inside from the left before beating Martinez with a right-footed shot fifteen minutes from the end. The shot did take a strong deflection off Elmohamady.

Eze hit the bar with a right-footed shot after an attack which began with a typical and exciting run by Zaha inside the left of the box. Tyrick Mitchell scored Palace’s 84th minute winner. Defensively it was a poor goal as Zaha’s cut back from the right was cleared to the feet of Eze who got no power in his attempted shot, but the ball did reach Mitchell who turned it in from close range for his first senior goal for the club.

Spurs 2 Wolverhampton Wanderers 0

With a goal and an assist, Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg was the Spurs Odyssey man of the match but Harry Kane ran him a close second. Harry scored his 165th Premier League goal and his 220th club goal. Following a story which I believe started as a "Sky Sports Exclusive" the papers are full of reports about Harry's impending departure, but I understand from a usually reliable source (and I am not talking about Alasdair Gold) that Harry is staying. We must live in that hope!

West Bromwich Albion 1 Liverpool 2

The football story of the weekend (apart from Leicester’s historic first ever FA Cup Final win over Chelsea) was goalkeeper Alisson’s last minute (possibly last second) goal in this game which put Liverpool in control of their Champions League destiny. With Leicester meeting Chelsea again on Tuesday in the league, Liverpool would definitely claim a top four place by winning their last two games. Alisson’s post-match interview was emotional, as he referred to his father who passed away three months ago in tragic circumstances.

Robson-Kanu made his first Premier League start of the season and Diangana started for the first time since January. Sadio Mane started for Liverpool, having “made up” with Jurgen Klopp after Mane had refused to shake the hand of his manager at the end of the win at Old Trafford when he had been substitute. His replacement in that game, Diogo Jota, misses the close of Liverpool’s season with a foot injury.

Robson- Kanu gave his team a 15th minute lead when he received Pereira’s pass and scored with a shot across Alisson from 15 yards. Mane pushed a shot wide 8 minutes later and got the assist for Salah’s 33rd minute equaliser which was scored from 18 yards out. Salah and Harry Kane are neck and neck for the Golden Boot award. Firmino hit the post with a right-footed shot before the break.

West Brom were giving a good account of themselves and Bartley did have the ball in the net from a 70th minute corner, but an offside decision was given because Matty Phillips was in Alisson’s eyeline. Liverpool pressed for their much-needed winner. Ajayi cleared a threat from close range with Mane lurking and provided the long pass which led to a save by Alisson from Robson-Kanu. Alexander-Arnold hit a shot which passed just over the bar. Johnstone saved well from Thiago Alcantara’s deflected shot two minutes from full time. In the fifth minute of added time Mane’s shot was put out for a corner and up came hero goalkeeper Alisson. You could say he was treated as a guest in the West Brom area as no-one seemed to track him or try to mark him. Alexander-Arnold delivered the corner and Alisson scored with an excellent header. It was Liverpool’s first goal by a goalkeeper in their competitive history and will be remembered for a long time. It could yet be the goal which saves Liverpool’s season.

Everton 0 Sheffield United 1

17-year-old striker Daniel Jebbison was “The Blades” hero scoring his first club goal on his full Premier League debut. As for Everton, they have under-achieved again and face a struggle even to achieve any form of European qualification.

Jebbison’s goal followed a “Blades” build-up from the left after which Robinson got into the box and showed determination before delivering the short cross which the 17-year-old met with a sliding finish. (7 mins) Richarlison had an on-target shot deflected out for a corner, after which Ramsdale saved a shot by Allan. Pickford had to beat away an arrowed 25-yarder by Fleck at the other end. Jebbison had another chance after 33 minutes when the Everton defence gifted him the ball. Pickford came out and saved Jebbison’s attempt to lift the ball over the keeper. Ramsdale made a great double save from Richarlison and Calvert-Lewin. Both efforts were at close range.

The closest Everton came to scoring was after 71 minutes when Sigurdsson fed the ball to Richarlison who hit a shot from the left of the box, but Ramsdale happily pushed the ball around the corner. Sheffield United were worthy of their sixth Premier League win of the season.

Fixtures/results 11-16.05.21

Tuesday 11th May, 2021

Man Utd    1-2  Leicester
S'hampton  3-1  C. Palace

Wednesday 12th May, 2021

Chelsea    0-1  Arsenal

Thursday 13th May, 2021

A. Villa   0-0  Everton
Man Utd    2-4  Liverpool

Friday 14th May, 2021

Newcastle  3-4  Man City

Saturday 15th May, 2021

Burnley    0-4  Leeds
S'hampton  3-1  Fulham
Brighton   1-1  West Ham

Sunday 16th May, 2021

C. Palace  3-2  A. Villa
Spurs      2-0  Wolves
West Brom  1-2  Liverpool
Everton    0-1  Sheff Utd

            Premier League Table

               P  W  D  L   F-A   GD   Pts
 1. Man City  36 26  5  5  76-29  47   83 C
 2. Man Utd   36 20 10  6  70-42  28   70 
 3. Leicester 36 20  6 10  65-44  21   66 
 4. Chelsea   36 18 10  8  55-33  22   64 
 5. Liverpool 36 18  9  9  63-42  21   63
 6. Spurs     36 17  8 11  63-41  22   59 
 7. West Ham  36 17  8 11  56-46  10   59
 8. Everton   36 16  8 12  46-43   3   56 
 9. Arsenal   36 16  7 13  50-38  12   55
10. Leeds     36 16  5 15  57-53   4   53  
11. A. Villa  36 14  7 15  51-44   7   49
12. Wolves    36 12  9 15  35-49 -14   45 
13. C. Palace 36 12  8 16  40-61 -21   44
14. S'hampton 36 12  7 17  47-61 -16   43
15. Burnley   36 10  9 17  33-51 -18   39
16. Newcastle 36 10  9 17  43-62 -19   39
17. Brighton  36  8 14 14  37-42  -5   38
18. Fulham    36  5 12 19  26-50 -24   27 R
19. West Brom 36  5 11 20  33-70 -37   26 R
20. Sheff Utd 36  6  2 28  19-62 -43   20 R

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