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Spurs Odyssey Reviews the Premier League Season
for 2020-21 - Matchday 38

Premier League Review – Matchday 38

Sunday 23rd May, 2021

Arsenal 2 Brighton & Hove Albion 0

Nicolas Pepe scored two goals in front of 10,000 home fans who mistakenly celebrated “St. Totteringham’s Day” too early, with one or two home-made banners on display until Gareth Bale’s late goals for Spurs snatched the last available place in Europe. There was fun to be had on social media at the expense of our local rivals.

Arsenal had little to show for the first half with Gabriel hitting the bar with a header after Xhaka’s cross. Pepe’s first goal came in the 49th minute following a slow build-up and a final pass by Chambers. The goal was scored with his weaker right foot. 11 minutes later Pepe scored again, this time with his left foot, receiving Odegaard’s pass and placing his shot across the Brighton keeper inside the far post.

Aston Villa 2 Chelsea 1

Chelsea started the day in third place, but their Champions League place was at risk until Spurs put paid to Leicester’s hopes. The Blues, who disturbingly have lost three of their last four games under Thomas Tuchel, beat Leicester by one point, and are now focussed upon Saturday’s Champions League Final against Manchester City.

Chelsea saw more of the ball in the opening exchanges, but all they had to show for their possession was a header by Werner which passed wide. Chilwell ran the ball out of play when trying to follow-up. Azpilicueta fed a ball to Mason Mount after 24 minutes, but he put his shot high and wide at The Holte End. Kovacic was caught in possession by McGinn after 29 minutes, but McGinn put his shot wide.

Bertrand Traore, who once played for Chelsea, gave Villa the lead two minutes before the break, following Targett’s corner taken on the left. Traore hit a good shot high into the net off the underside of the bar to the right of Mendy. Chelsea were sweating on that top four place.

In the second half, Traore took a pass from Grealish and was fouled by Jorginho. Referee Stuart Attwell pointed to the spot. Arrizabalaga had replaced the injured Mendy at half-time, but he could not stop El Ghazi’s 52nd minute penalty. Werner had the ball in the net seven minutes later, but Azpilicueta, who gave him the pass, had been offside. They did have a goal back twenty minutes from the end when Mount crossed from the right and Chilwell fired his shot well over the line, although Martinez tried to clear and disguise the goal which didn’t really need technology to be confirmed.

Martinez did make a great reaction save at close range from Chilwell in the late stages. Azpilicueta was sent off in the 89th minute when he tussled with Grealish and was caught putting his hand in the face of the Villa man, so he will miss the first three matches of next season.

Fulham 0 Newcastle United 2

There were 2,000 Fulham fans at Craven Cottage, but their team struggled against Steve Bruce’s Newcastle who have finished in twelfth place. Joe Willock scored for a seventh consecutive game, equalling the record of Alan Shearer for Newcastle. Fulham have managed just 9 home goals in the league all season – a record low figure.

The 2,000 were not making much noise and Saint-Maximin showed his potential when he entered the area on the left but fired across goal. Cavaleiro had shot go wide at the other end after the ball was delivered by Lookman after 20 minutes. Joe Willock’s goal came three minutes later at the end of a solo run. He nearly lost the ball inside the area but managed to regain control before hitting his right-footed shot past goalkeeper Rodak’s right hand. Another Cavaleiro shot clipped the top of the net behind Newcastle’s goal just before half-time. Ten minutes into the second half he missed a sitter after being set up by Carvalho.

Newcastle substitute Dwight Gayle put a free header over the bar from a Matt Ritchie free kick. Ritchie was fouled in the box four minutes from the end. Schar rolled in the spot-kick with the keeper going the wrong way.

Leeds United 3 West Bromwich Albion 1

Leeds have ended their season with a flourish. Four successive wins have taken them to ninth place above Everton, and they have amassed 59 points, two more than Wolves managed in their most recent return to the top flight. This was the only game of the season where fans have been allowed into the Elland Road Stadium

Leeds had a corner after 17 minutes, won and taken by Raphinha. The ball passed across the area and Rodrigo headed in at the back post. Sam Johnstone was embarrassed as he let Kalvin Phillips' 25 yard free kick beat him inside his right post three minutes before the break. The ball bounced before going into the net.

Leeds were almost red-faced after 54 minutes when Matt Phillips hit a weak shot, but it reached and rebounded off Casilla’s left post before Kalvin Phillips and Alioski just about managed to clear on the other side of the goal. Referee David Coote had an easy decision to make when Yokuslu handled Harrison’s cross right in front of the official on the edge of the area where the ball offered no danger. Bamford drilled home his penalty kick in the 79th minute for his 17th Premier league goal of the season.

Kalvin Phillips gifted the ball to Robson-Kanu in the last minute and the West Brom man scored a consolation goal. Phillips subsequently suffered a shoulder injury that might keep him out of the reckoning for England’s Euro campaign this summer.

Leicester City 2 Spurs 4

It was a close-run thing, but we finished above Arsenal for the fifth consecutive year. It’s a long, long time since that happened. Some Arsenal fans were celebrating “St. Totteringham’s Day” too early before Gareth Bale’s two late goals at Leicester. Sadly for us, it is almost the only thing to celebrate about a season where we finished in our lowest position since 2008-09 and below West Ham for the first time since 2007-08.

I noticed a nice touch from Mo Salah, who sent a congratulatory Tweet to Harry Kane after he secured the Golden Boot with his goal, and the Playmaker’s award with his 14th Premier League assist of the season. Harry won three club player of the season awards and I can tell you he is our player of the season too, but more of that in my end of season review next week.

Two-goal Gareth Bale was voted your Spurs Odyssey man of the match. Due to my experiment with a new format for the post-match survey, there are no comments on this occasion from those who took part. I will review that process prior to the new season which starts on 14th August!

Liverpool 2 Crystal Palace

Sadio Mane scored both goals and Liverpool secured third place and a return to the Champions League. Liverpool fans were present for this game, of course. Their team has endured their worst home season since 1937/38. This season, they lost 9 home league games. In 37/38 they lost seven. Their defence of the title has not been good, but in 1937/38 Manchester City’s title defence was an absolute disaster, as they were relegated!

Andros Townsend is one of five Palace players who are out of contract this summer. The former Spurs man had an early free kick palmed over the bar by Alisson. Andros also pushed a shot wide as he raced forward on the break after 14 minutes. Salah, who was hoping to beat Harry Kane to the Golden Boot, had a shot deflected out for a corner after Mane’s cross on 20 minutes. From Robertson’s corner, Rhys Williams hit a free header over the bar at The Anfield Road End. Salah was onto a long pass from Thiago, but his shot was saved by Guaita.

Liverpool had a goal in the 36th minute following a corner from the left which Mane converted at the back post. The ball was scrambled into the net but gave Liverpool the lead and the “as it happened” place in the Champions League, which they never lost.

It was 2-0 in the 74th minute after Firmino had sent Salah away down the right-hand side. Ultimately Salah delivered a pass to Mane, whose shot from the left side of the area took a deflection off Gary Cahill and beat Guaita to his right in front of The Kop. Salah had a chance of his own in the 80th minute but pushed his shot wide.

Roy Hodgson bowed out of his long managerial career with fond farewells at one of his former clubs.

Manchester City 5 Everton 0

Champions City were given a pre-match guard of honour and afterwards were presented with their fifth Premier League Trophy (their third in four years) in front of their fans who at 3-0 up were baying for substitute Sergio Aguero to come on. They got their wish, and Aguero ended his City career with two goals, taking his Premier League total to 184, and his club total to 260. In his 10-year City career Aguero has secured five Premier League titles, and a few other winner’s medals of course. Pep Guardiola was in tears with regard to his striker at the end of the game. I personally would describe Aguero as the greatest natural goalscorer I’ve seen since Jimmy Greaves.

Everton were a great disappointment in what turned out to be a gala day for the home side. Everton led the table at the start of the season, but despite the leadership of Carlo Ancelotti they have again under-achieved, having gone into this game with a faint chance of European football. “The Toffees” finished the season with a negative goal difference.

Goal number one was scored after 11 minutes by De Bruyne at the end of a typical one-touch passing move with Mahrez delivering to De Bruyne, who hit a powerful low shot from fully 20 yards inside Pickford’s left post. Three minutes later Keane lost the ball trying to run forward only just inside his own half. Gabriel Jesus took this one forward after De Bruyne’s pass and once in the area picked his spot to make it 2-0.

Ruben Dias had a yellow card and Everton had a penalty after Richarlison was fouled in the box, but Sigurdsson’s shot was saved by Ederson inside his right post. Pickford was left standing at the other end when Mahrez hit the left corner of goal with a powerful shot.

Phil Foden made it 3-0 in the 53rd minute with a right-footed shot after Jesus and Mahrez had fed him the ball from the left. Foden scored his first Premier League goal two years ago against Spurs and will be 21 on Friday. This was his ninth Premier League goal of this season. Foden already has a decent silverware collection and has the world at his feet.

Aguero came on after 65 minutes, to rapturous and deserved acclaim. He had his first goal after 6 minutes when Everton were dispossessed following their own throw-in. Fernandinho passed to Sergio, who nonchalantly poked the ball into the net with the outside of his right foot across the keeper from 15 yards. Another six minutes passed before Fernandinho crossed from the right and Aguero met the cross with a perfectly placed header to the left of Pickford who was rooted to the spot and helpless as he watched the ball hit the net. In scoring this goal, Aguero pipped Wayne Rooney who had scored 183 goals for one club – across Manchester, of course.

Sheff Utd 1 Burnley 0

“The Blades” bowed out of the Premier League with a third win in their last six games and had some of their fans present to see them off. Burnley finished 11 points clear of the drop-zone but have rarely impressed this season. 17-year-old Daniel Jebbison signed his first professional contract this week and made his third consecutive start for United. Nick Pope was again missing from the Burnley side and faces knee surgery which makes him a great doubt for England. Will Norris took his place again. Jimmy Dunne took Ben Mee’s place in defence.

Aaron Ramsdale pushed over an early shot by Dwight McNeil before McGoldrick scored United’s 20th league goal of the season in the 24th minute with a 20-yard shot which crept inside Norris’s left post. The goal, which was McGoldrick’s 8th league goal of the season, was struck from 25 yards. Basham hit the post later in the first half with a right foot shot following a corner.

Burnley were close to an equaliser deep into added time, but between them Ramsdale and Robinson managed to thwart Chris Wood, who had been called offside earlier in the second half.

West Ham United 3 Southampton 0

“Get the passports out,” shouted David Moyes as he stood on the London Stadium pitch at the conclusion of a season in which West Ham have accumulated more points than any in their Premier League history. “Because we are going to Europe.” West Ham secured their passage to the Europa League group stage with this convincing win. Southampton’s 2021 statistics make grim reading, despite reaching an FA Cup semi-final, and they have conceded more goals than any other team with the exception of relegated West Brom.

Minamino had a good chance after 11 minutes as “The Saints” broke out from a West Ham attack. The Liverpool loanee hit his shot wide across goal. Kyle Walker-Peters got behind the defence and hit a shot towards goal, which Fabianksi pushed behind for a corner. West Ham took a 30th minute lead when Bowen took a headed pass from Antonio and his shot was pushed away as far as Fornals who scored his fourth Premier league goal of the season. Fornals scored again within three minutes after Coufal crossed from the right and that was met with a right-footed shot.

Minamino had an angled shot palmed out by Fabianski after 51 minutes. The West Ham keeper made an even better save diving to his left to deny Bednarek following James Ward-Prowse’s corner kick. Declan Rice made it 3-0 after 86 minutes when he received the ball on the left flank and was allowed an un-hindered advance into the box where he finished with a right foot shot.

This was only the second time “The Hammers” have finished in the Premier League top six. When they last made it into Europe, five years ago, Slaven Bilic’s men didn’t get past the Europa League play-off. Now they will go straight into the group stage of a thinned-out Europa league, whilst Spurs have to play-off to take part in the new Europa Conference League.

Wolverhampton Wanderers 1 Manchester United 2

Wolves made headlines for the wrong reasons. Rio Ferdinand was in the stadium for BT and attracted the ire of some of the 4,500 home fans allowed into the stadium when he was seen celebrating a United goal. One of the home fans was ejected and subsequently arrested for racially abusing Ferdinand. There had also been some considerable booing when players took the knee before kick-off.

Wolves’ coach Nuno Espirito Santo was in charge of his last game, after it had been announced he would leave the club “by mutual consent”. Wolves are reportedly now talking to former Benfica coach Bruno Lage.

Manchester United have gone an entire season without an away league defeat for the first time in their history, making it a run of 26 such games undefeated. Their last away defeat in the league was at Anfield in January last year. This win was achieved with ten changes to the team, including Henderson in goal and 19-year-old Anthony Elanga in attack.

Elanga had one early chance in the Wolves area which he fired over, but he scored his first senior goal in the 13th minute when James crossed from the left and the young Swede met the ball with a powerful header. Nelson Semedo equalised in the 39th minute when Fabio Silva cut the ball back inside the area and the wing-back scored across goal. In first half added time Donny van de Beek went down inside the area when Saiss challenged, but Mike Dean saw no offence. He was called to the monitor and reversed his decision. Mata scored from the spot for his first league goal since April 2019.

The scorers were not bothered in the second half. United’s next appointment is in the Europa League Final on Wednesday against Villarreal.

Spurs Odyssey has offered Premier League reviews of this detail for the last three seasons, and in some form for the last 20 seasons. Next season, I shall revert to an abbreviated format, as we look forward to again physically attending matches. Also next season I do intend to point you in the direction of Brian Judson’s first complete review of a season in 2001-02, which was not a happy one for Spurs, but will hopefully be of interest to those of you who have an interest in general footballing history.

Fixtures/results 23.05.21

Sunday 23rd May, 2021

Arsenal    2-0  Brighton
A. Villa   2-1  Chelsea
Fulham     0-2  Newcastle
Leeds      3-1  West Brom
Leicester  2-4  Spurs
Liverpool  2-0  C. Palace
Man City   5-0  Everton
Sheff Utd  1-0  Burnley
West Ham   3-0  S'hampton
Wolves     1-2  Man Utd

            Premier League Table

               P  W  D  L   F-A   GD   Pts
 1. Man City  38 27  5  6  83-32  51   86 C
 2. Man Utd   38 21 11  6  73-44  29   74 
 3. Liverpool 38 20  9  9  68-42  26   69
 4. Chelsea   38 19 10  9  58-36  22   67
 5. Leicester 38 20  6 12  68-50  18   66  
 6. West Ham  38 19  8 11  62-47  15   65
 7. Spurs     38 18  8 12  68-45  23   62 
 8. Arsenal   38 18  7 13  55-39  16   61 
 9. Leeds     38 18  5 15  62-54   8   59 
10. Everton   38 17  8 13  47-48  -1   59 
11. A. Villa  38 16  7 15  55-46   9   55
12. Newcastle 38 11  9 17  46-62 -16   45
13. Wolves    38 12  9 17  36-52 -16   45 
14. C. Palace 38 12  8 18  41-66 -25   44
15. S'hampton 38 12  7 19  47-66 -21   43
16. Brighton  38  9 14 15  40-46  -6   41
17. Burnley   38 10  9 19  33-55 -22   39
18. Fulham    38  5 13 20  27-53 -26   28 R
19. West Brom 38  5 11 22  35-76 -41   26 R
20. Sheff Utd 38  7  2 29  20-63 -43   23 R

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