Premier League Review – Matchday 37
This was the first of two rounds of games to be played in front of increased number of fans, permitted at one quarter of capacity or 10,000 whichever was the least.
Tuesday 18th May, 2021
Manchester United 1 Fulham 1
There were plenty of anti-Glazer and Woodward banners and sign on display and also plenty of the old Newton Heath yellow and green scarves being worn by the United fans allowed back in the “Theatre of Dreams”. They didn’t see a great performance though, but there was one significant highlight. That came in the 15th minute when De Gea cleared and as decreed by subsequent VAR, Bruno Fernandes sent the ball onto Cavani in the Fulham half. Had Fernandes not touched the ball, Cavani would have been adjudged offside at the time of De Gea’s kick. The goal was a superb 40-yard lob over Areola in goal at The Stretford End. The assembled 10,000 had something to cheer.
Areola made a very good save after 26 minutes, diving to his right to deny Fernandes shot from just outside the area. Fulham’s youthful Carvalho was given another start and he was sent away by Lookman but hit a tame shot at the goalkeeper.
Fulham gave a good account of themselves in the second half and Lookman, Bryan, Cavaleiro and Carvalho forged ahead after 61 minutes with De Gea required to save first from Lookman’s shot from a sharp angle then Carvalho’s close-range header. Greenwood failed with a good chance after 73 minutes, with Fernandes hitting his follow-up shot from Areola’s save high over the bar. Fulham’s equaliser came three minutes later when Decordova-Reid hit a good cross from the right wing and Bryan headed in at the back post. There was a long VAR review, but the goal stood.
In line with tradition, despite the low permitted crowd figure, some United fans were seen slinking away five minutes before the end of the game!
Southampton 0 Leeds 2
Leeds climbed to 8th overnight with this 6th win in their last 9 games, which has included only one defeat. On this form they will be worth watching next season too. Walcott’s loan move from Everton had been made permanent earlier in the day and he started for Southampton. Kiko Casilla made a rare Leeds start and had an early save to make when he managed to push a Che Adams close range header over the bar. He saved from Tella too after an Adams pass had been helped on its way, but Tella had been offside. The Leeds keeper made a decent save from Adams after 37 minutes diving to his left to push away a well-placed shot from the edge of the area.
James Ward-Prowse hit the top right stanchion with a 25-yard free kick early in the second half. Leeds had not shown much so far, apart from a Stuart Dallas first half shot which was pulled wide. Dallas had a better shot after 50 minutes receiving Rodrigo’s pass from the right before firing a powerful right foot shot towards McCarthy’s right post. The goalkeeper managed to push the ball around the corner. Leeds won another corner after 58 minutes when Raphinha sent Bamford away who was denied to the right of goal. 10 minutes later Dallas was integral to another attack, crossing from the right where Alioski fired his shot straight at the Southampton keeper.
Leeds took the lead in the 73rd minute when Bamford converted Rodrigo’s lofted pass from close range towards the right of goal. It was 2-0 in the fifth minute of added time when Leeds attacked on the break from a “Saints” attack. Roberts had failed with his first attempt from Raphinha’s ball. Bamford followed up and had his shot saved but parried to Robert’s feet and this time the Leeds man was able to place his shot for his first Premier League goal.
Brighton & Hove Albion 3 Manchester City 2
This turned out to be a winning bonanza for just under 7,495 Brighton fans who saw their team beat City for the first time in their Premier league meetings. They were no doubt helped by the sending-off of Cancelo after only 10 minutes, but “The Seagulls” did come back from being two goals down.
City’s opener was scored after only two minutes and looked easy as Mahrez crossed from the left and Gundogan headed in from close range at the back post. A City win looked on the cards. The sending-off came when Cancelo mis-judged a high ball by Mac Allister and then held Welbeck as he approached the City area. The resulting free kick was blocked by the City wall.
There no more goals in the first half. Foden scored a brilliant solo goal three minutes into the second half, advancing from half-way down the left channel before reaching the area and scoring with a low shot across the goalkeeper. Trossard got one back for Brighton within two minutes, taking advantage of a give-away ball from Rodri before carrying the ball to the area, holding off a couple of defenders before planting his right foot shot past Ederson.
Brighton offered some threatening moments in attack, but it took them till the 72nd minute to equalise when Webster rose to head in Gross’s cross from the right. It was Webster’s first goal of the season. City had a free kick just outside the area when Lallana fouled Mahrez, who took the kick which was saved comfortably by Sanchez. Dan Burn had started the move which led to his 76th minute winner with a long ball down the left. At the end of the move Burn was in front of Mac Allister who prodded the ball into the box where Burn almost tripped up trying to hit his first shot but recovered and scored with his right foot. That was Burn’s first club goal too.
With full time approaching Lallana just got the ball before Gabriel Jesus went down under his challenge. Then, in added time, Webster gave the ball away and Jesus’s shot was parried by Sanchez with Garcia firing over from inside the box. It was actually Brighton’s first league win over City since 1989 and the crowd cheered the win raucously.
Chelsea 2 Leicester 1
This was, of course, a crunch game. One or both teams had to lose points. Both teams desperately needed to win. Liverpool, West Ham and Spurs were watching with varying degrees of interest. Chelsea sought revenge after Saturday's FA Cup Final defeat. The teams were wearing the same colours. Chelsea had the benefit of a Covid permitted 8,000 crowd.
Chelsea started fast. After three minutes Werner tricked a couple of defenders, got through them, and passed to Chilwell on the left. Chilwell's effort was neither a cross or a shot and passed too far in front of Pulisic and past the far post. Chilwell used to play for Leicester of course, and another former "Fox" - Kante - had a shot saved by Schmeichel after 8 minutes.
Chelsea wanted a penalty when they thought Tielemans had caught Werner, but referee Mike Dean saw the incident differently and VAR did not oppose his decision to award Leicester a free kick. Werner had the ball in the net after 21 minutes but that was chalked off for offside. Schmeichel got a hand to Mason Mount's rising shot after 27 minutes. Thiago headed over from the corner.
Kante had an injury, so he was replaced by Kovacic after 31 minutes. Werner had the ball over the line in the 34th minute (confirmed by goal-line technology) from a corner but disallowed by VAR for handball. Chelsea fans chanted "It's not football any more". Sky commentator Martin Tyler did not apologise for the subsequent industrial language of the Chelsea crowd! Werner tried to turn in a cross by Azpilicueta but that was blocked and cleared by the Leicester defence.
Chelsea had 11 shots to Leicester’s 1 in the first half. Three of Chelsea’s efforts had been on target.
Chelsea had the lead in the second minute of the second half. Thomas had stumbled and given away a corner which was taken by Chilwell, reaching Rudiger at the back post. The ball went in off his hip.
VAR was on Chelsea’s side after 65 minutes. Mike Dean gave a free kick for Fofana's foul on Werner, but VAR decreed the foul had started inside the area, so a penalty was given. Jorginho skipped, deceived Schmeichel, and rolled the ball inside the keeper's left post and became Chelsea’s top league scorer with his seventh penalty of the season.
Leicester had a goal back in the 76th minute when Chelsea tried and failed to play out from the back. Ndidi stole the ball and delivered a cross to Iheanacho who scored with his right foot from the centre of the area. Perez had a great chance to equalise in the last minute of normal time when substitute Ricardo delivered a cross from the right. Perez put his shot over the target.
The tension was high and there was a melee in added time involving players and officials of both sides following a challenge by Chilwell on his former team-mate Ricardo. Non-playing Leicester substitute Amartey was booked. Chelsea held onto their lead.
There is no doubt the presence of a real crowd added to the atmosphere in this crucial game.
Sadly for Spurs fans, Leicester will need to win Sunday's game to try and claim that last Champions League place, but the pendulum has now swung in favour of Liverpool.
Wednesday 19th May, 2021
Everton 1 Wolverhampton Wanderers 0
This narrow win gives Everton a chance of claiming seventh place on Sunday, but they are at Manchester City who will surely be seeking to treat their fans to a win before being presented with another Premier League trophy.
John Ruddy made a rare start in the Wolves goal. Gylfi Sigurdsson took the place of James Rodriguez, suffering from “fatigue”. Gibbs-White hit a good shot from 25 yards after 14 minutes which Pickford saved, diving to his left. Pickford got a slight touch to a Traore shot after another Wolves corner. Those Everton fans were getting restless. Five minutes before the break though Coleman won a corner as he chased Mina’s long ball, and Richarlison had a close-range effort saved at the expense of a further corner kick. Nothing came of that.
It was the Gwladys Street contingent of fans who saw the Everton goal, scored after a contested corner three minutes into the second half . Sigurdsson delivered from the right. Richarlison headed inside the back post. Traore had a good run, but a tame shot at goal after 55 minutes. Calvert-Lewin had a shot well covered by Ruddy and Sigurdsson flashed a shot wide across the goal from the left of the box. Everton settled for the narrow win.
A particularly positive piece of news was delivered by Wolves who confirmed that Raul Jimenez would return to full training in July. Everybody who likes football will be wishing him well.
Newcastle United 1 Sheffield United 0
There were 10,000 fans at St. James Park to witness loanee Joe Willock scoring in his sixth successive game. 17-year-old Daniel Jebbison made his second successive start for relegated Sheffield United. Stevens set up McGoldrick in space towards the right of the area, but the striker pushed his shot wide across Dubravka’s goal. Ramsdale made an outstanding low one-handed save from Shelvey’s header from a Matt Ritchie cross.
Saint-Maximin made a fantastic run down the right channel after 31 minutes and was fouled just outside the area. He is the sort of player who attracts people to the game. I certainly like watching him. Ritchie’s free kick was just too high across the far corner of the goal.
That Willock goal was a header in the fourth minute of first half added time and came after Saint-Maximin passed to Murphy who crossed from the right. Willock celebrated at The Gallowgate End. I wonder if he will be doing it for Newcastle next season. This was only Willock’s eighth Premier League goal, seven of which have been this season. At 21 he is the youngest ever player to score in 6 successive Premier League games.
In the second half McGoldrick hit a free kick wide from 20 yards, and at the other end that man Saint-Maximin’s cross, aimed for substitute Dwight Gayle was saved by the alert Ramsdale. Sheffield United had a floated shot by McGoldrick go out of play off the top of the crossbar after 76 minutes but they could not prevent a record-equalling 29th Premier League defeat of the season.
Spurs 1 Aston Villa 2
Goalscorer Steven Bergwijn and captain Hugo Lloris shared the Spurs Odyssey man of the match vote, if one can call it that. 5.6 out of 10 isn't much of an assessment, after all.
Many comments were offered, but this one was perhaps the most telling and devastating remark, coming as it did from someone I know who has been so positive about the club in the past:-
"This will be my last season supporting Spurs after 42 years. ENIC have finally killed my interest. Parasites."
Nearly 20 years ago, in December 2001, Les Ferdinand scored the 10,000th Premier League goal, playing for Spurs against Fulham. Les won a £10,000 prize for that landmark, and donated the money to two cancer charities. Sergio Reguilon goes down in the record book as the scorer of the 1,000th Premier League own goal. He doesn't get a prize. Both of these landmark goals were scored in the 20th minute.
Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg was shown his ninth Premier League yellow card in this game. He has been booked 12 times in his 52 appearances this season in all games.
We have failed to win any of the four games refereed this seaason by Craig Pawson.
Mo Salah failed to score for Liverpool, so Harry Kane is till joint leader in the race for this season's Golden Boot.
Crystal Palace 1 Arsenal 3
Arsenal spoiled Roy Hodgson’s farewell party at Selhurst Park with this win which gives them a chance of Europa Conference League football next season. If it wasn’t for the fact they’d be overtaking Spurs (quite possible) I’d quite like that to happen! 73-year-old Roy started his managerial career in Sweden in 1976. He’s managed 15 clubs (including Inter twice) and four national sides, including England. He even managed to take Fulham to a Europa League Final in 2010. He was given a guard of honour by both teams and officials as he entered the arena before kick-off.
Palace had had a couple of decent chances with Schlupp forcing a save by Leno, but Arsenal took the lead in the 35th minute, following a good move down the left flank and a final ball by Tierney to Pepe who beat Guaita with his right foot shot from 12 yards. Christian Benteke body-checked Saka then survived a VAR review of what must have been deemed an accidental forearm smash across the face of Elneny.
Benteke scored a 62nd minute equaliser after Zaha had been fouled and Townsend delivered a free kick which Benteke met with a diving header. Benteke has now scored in four consecutive games for the first time in 6 years and has reached double figures in the Premier League for the first time since his first season with Palace in 2016-17.
Arsenal waited till added time to score two more goals. Zaha wanted a penalty, but referee Anthony Taylor waved that away and Arsenal broke out with Odegaard delivering a ball to the back post where Martinelli scored with one touch off his knee before kicking the ball over the line with the keeper beaten by the first touch. Pepe scored a solo effort in the fifth extra minute, coming into the area from the right before scoring with a left foot shot.
Burnley 0 Liverpool 3
Liverpool climbed above Leicester with this win and with a home match against Crystal Palace on Sunday you have to fancy Klopp’s men to claim a Champions League place after all. There is an exciting prospect of three teams, Chelsea, Liverpool, and Leicester chasing the last two places in the top four.
Will Norris was given his first Burnley Premier League start in goal, with Nick Pope still injured. There were chances at either end with Mee getting a good early tackle in to prevent Salah from scoring, and both Mane and Thiago outing chances wide, whilst Chris Wood also had a good chance at the other end. Salah put another good chance high over the target after half an hour, with Mee doing just enough to out him off. Alisson saved quite comfortably from McNeil’s 20-yard shot. Liverpool took the lead two minutes before the break when Firmino converted Robertson’s ball from the left.
It was 2-0 in the 52nd minute when Nat Phillips headed home a cross by Mane from the left, after Liverpool had a corner. It was Phillips’ first Liverpool goal. Wood set up Brownhill for a right foot shot which Alisson held. Burnley had a couple of corners, the first of which was palmed away by Alisson. From the second Tarkowski rose and beat the goalkeeper with a header back across goal, but Phillips was at hero at the back too, as he headed off the line.
Burnley tried hard to give their 3,500 fans something to cheer, but Liverpool scored a third goal in the 88th minute when Robertson passed low inside to substitute Oxlade-Chamberlain who scored with a powerfully driven left foot shot. At least those Burnley fans know they have another season of Premier League football to look forward to. Liverpool can have higher claims, although their defence of the title has been a deep disappointment, truth be told.
West Bromwich Albion 1 West Ham United 3
The “Hammers” climbed above Spurs with this win and only need one point (in front of their fans) to claim sixth place and Europa League football. Spurs have to hope for a win at Leicester (unlikely) and defeat for West Ham (also unlikely) to claim that place.
Fabianski was injured in the warm-up so Darren Randolph played in goal for West Ham in front of 6,000 “Baggies” fans. West Ham were awarded a penalty after only 40 seconds when Antonio picked up Ajayi’s poor back pass (from only just inside his own half), and when he reached the area he was brought down by Johnstone, who was shown a yellow card. Rice’s penalty kick rebounded off the foot of Johnstone’s right post. Johnstone tipped over a shot by Benrahma after 9 minutes. West Brom took a 27th minute lead following a corner taken from the right by Pereira. The ball curled goalward and was actually headed over Randolph by Soucek.
Randolph made an excellent save following a West Brom free kick towards the end of the first half. The ball reached Pereira towards the right and his shot took a deflection, but the keeper still managed to push the ball over his bar. Soucek scored at the right end in first half added time. Fornals crossed from the left and despite a defensive header Benrahma collected beyond the goal and returned it low and hard when Soucek met it and scored at close range.
Johnstone was beaten all ends up but a Cresswell 30-yard free kick hit the outside of the keeper’s right post after 65 minutes. It took two late goals to seal the win for West Ham. Fornals won a corner with his shot after being put through by Bowen. This was taken by Cresswell and headed in by Ogbonna. (82 mins) Six minutes later “the Hammers” broke out of their half with Fornals, Lingard and Antonio advancing upon the West Brom area. Antonio scored with a low right-footed shot after Lingard’s final pass.
Sam Allardyce had announced earlier in the day that he would not be carrying on in charge of West Brom after Sunday’s game.
Tuesday 18th May, 2021
Man Utd 1-1 Fulham
S'hampton 0-2 Leeds
Brighton 3-2 Man City
Chelsea 2-1 Leicester
Wednesday 19th May, 2021
Everton 1-0 Wolves
Newcastle 1-0 Sheff Utd
Spurs 1-2 A. Villa
C. Palace 1-3 Arsenal
Burnley 0-3 Liverpool
West Brom 1-3 West Ham
Premier League Table
P W D L F-A GD Pts
1. Man City 37 26 5 6 78-32 46 83 C
2. Man Utd 37 20 11 6 71-43 28 71
3. Chelsea 37 19 10 8 57-34 23 67
4. Liverpool 37 19 9 9 66-42 24 66
5. Leicester 37 20 6 11 66-46 20 66
6. West Ham 37 18 8 11 59-47 12 62
7. Spurs 37 17 8 12 64-43 21 59
8. Everton 37 17 8 12 47-43 4 59
9. Arsenal 37 17 7 13 53-39 14 58
10. Leeds 37 17 5 15 59-53 6 56
11. A. Villa 37 15 7 15 53-45 8 52
12. Wolves 37 12 9 16 35-50 -15 45
13. C. Palace 37 12 8 17 41-64 -23 44
14. S'hampton 37 12 7 18 47-63 -18 43
15. Newcastle 37 11 9 17 44-62 -18 42
16. Brighton 37 9 14 14 40-44 -4 41
17. Burnley 37 10 9 18 33-54 -21 39
18. Fulham 37 5 13 19 27-51 -24 28 R
19. West Brom 37 5 11 21 34-73 -39 26 R
20. Sheff Utd 37 6 2 29 19-63 -44 20 R