Premier League recap

Welcome to Challenge’s brand-new Premier League recap! The midweek has been kickstarted by 9 entertaining fixtures with implications for both sides of the table and a night where goals were a plenty. Could West Ham continue their impressive unbeaten streak alive? How would Arsenal respond to playing the same team they had lost to in the FA Cup so soon? These questions and more are answered below. A bottom of the table clash, a debuting manager carrying plenty of expectations and an opportunity for a team to reclaim their hold at the top of the Premier League. The season is heating up and the title picture has never looked more intriguing.

Crystal Palace 2-3 West Ham

We start today’s round up at Selhurst Park where West Ham United extended their unbeaten run in all competitions to an impressive six games. David Moyes, who named a squad with seven changes from their display against Doncaster in the FA Cup, was optimistic in his press conference before the match but admitted he did not want to ‘get carried away’ with the position they found themselves in.

The visitors were under the pump early as Wilfried Zaha put Crystal Palace ahead in just the third minute of the match. The returning striker received a slick 1-2 from Christian Benteke and drilled the shot past an outstretched Lukasz Fabianski into the bottom right corner from 18 yards.

The Hammers didn’t take long to strike back, however. A fantastic scoop cross from left winger Pablo Fornals into Michail Antonio who flicked the ball back onto the head of an incoming Tomas Soucek for the close-range equalizer. Soucek would be the one to put the Irons ahead on 25 minutes after being on the receiving end of an Aaron Cresswell free kick. A controlled tap in gave them the 2-1 lead they carried till half time.

Crystal Palace came close to responding quickly in the second half after Eberechi Eze won the ball on the center circle and played Zaha through on goal for what looked like his second. A great double save from Fabianski kept him out, though, and the lead intact for the visitors.

West Ham extended their lead on 65 minutes from a thumping header from loanee center back Craig Dawson. A corner delivered into the box by Jarrod Bowen was met by Dawson and West Ham had the win in their sights. A small hiccup was a late goal from substitute Michy Batshuayi who slotted a shot under the keeper but it was too little too late for the Eagles. West Ham have now risen to fourth in the league with a date with the reigning champions Liverpool in the diary; a match that many among the West Ham faithful will be certainly optimistic for.

Newcastle 1-2 Leeds

Newcastle’s winless woes continued last night after falling to a 2-1 defeat to a Leeds United team who were coming off the back of a losing streak themselves. 

Leeds started the brighter of the two teams with the first goal coming in the 17th minute. Trademark Leeds pressing dispossessed Newcastle in midfield and set Patrick Bamford forward on a counterattack. The ball was played wide to Rodrigo where it looked like the chance was gone. Rodrigo picked a pass backwards to a waiting Raphinha who picked out the back of the net calmy through traffic.

Newcastle were better after the break, though, and their efforts were rewarded on 57 minutes. Bamford’s stray backpass was intercepted by Jonjo Shelvey about 25 yards out. A pass to Callum Wilson and a one time ball to Miguel Almiron put the Paraguayan through and the ball, too hard for Illan Meslier to stop, in the back of the net for 1-1 and game on.

Unfortunately for Newcastle, the match wouldn’t stay equal for long. A lofted switch ball from goal scorer Raphinha to left winger Jack Harrison and a fantastic outside of the boot shot glided into the far corner of Karl Darlow’s net put Leeds back in front where they stayed for the rest of the game.

After the match, Newcastle manager Steve Bruce insisted that he thinks he’s ‘seen enough’ to keep the Magpies up at the end of the season. The team, who now fall to 16th in the league, have a tough challenge away to Everton this weekend which, for some Newcastle fans, may feel will be Bruce’s last in charge without a result.

Southampton 1-3 Arsenal

The ghosts of fixtures past were not haunting Arsenal as they took all three points from hosts Southampton at St. Mary’s Stadium. Having fallen to a 1-0 defeat on Saturday in the FA Cup, Mikel Arteta was keen to reverse his side’s fortunes and was ‘really optimistic’ for the evenings fixture.

It certainly didn’t start the way Arteta had imagined with Stuart Armstrong putting Southampton in the lead after 3 minutes. A James Ward-Prowse corner was met with a sweet half volley from the right midfielder and went in off the fingertips of Bernd Leno.

Arsenal stepped up to the challenge, though, and were level before 10 minutes after a calm Nicolas Pepe finish to Alex McCarthy’s left from a through ball from Granit Xhaka. The story of the evening was of young Bukayo Saka. The scorer of the second Arsenal goal before half time was supplied by Alexandre Lacazette who took it round an out of position McCarthy to give the Gunners the lead.

Saka repaid the favour to Lacazette to secure the win and put Arsenal up to eighth in the league. A long switch ball from ex Angels defender Cedric Soares to Saka who played the ball across the box for the Frenchman to score a textbook poacher’s goal.

Southampton manager Ralph Hasenhüttl lamented the early chances and said post-match ‘we know we are a good side when we play a perfect game, but today we were far off this.’ Southampton host Aston Villa on the weekend and they will be eager to bounce back from the defeat despite dominating in possession.

West Brom 0-5 Manchester City

Manchester City are your new Premier League leaders after cruising past the struggling West Brom 5-0 last night making it seven straight wins in the league.

Central midfielder Ilkay Gündogan had a night to remember at The Hawthorns, scoring twice in the first half with two extremely controlled finishes. He has now scored in three successive Premier League appearances and has found his stride in absence of the highly influential Kevin De Bruyne.

Manchester City’s second goal was one that will have plenty of football fans talking. A ball played over the top to Bernardo Silva was flagged offside after some delay by Assistant Referee Sian Massey-Ellis. West Brom, who forgot the age old saying of ‘play to the whistle’, stayed motionless as Silva played the ball to Joao Cancelo who rifled the ball into the top left corner. The play was reviewed by VAR who ruled Bernardo Silva onside and the goal stood.

Riyad Mahrez then played scorer and provider to finish West Brom off. A fiery left footed shot at the end of the first half made it four and then a setup for a Raheem Stirling tap in early in the second half meant that, at least temporarily, Manchester and the Premier League is blue. 

Chelsea 0-0 Wolverhampton

We start our recap of last night’s games at Stamford Bridge where new Chelsea manager Thomas Tuchel were held to a scoreless draw despite the home side controlling the game for most of the match. 

Tuchel was extremely excited for his first match in charge and, naming an experienced side notably without Mason Mount, the team enjoyed a whopping 78.9% of possession but lacked any quality of menace in the final ball or shot. Chelsea had plenty of chances to get in front early with both Olivier Giroud and Kai Havertz going close within the first 20 minutes. More chances came in the second half for them with Ben Chilwell hitting a strike that went over the bar and Mateo Kovacic having a shot flash narrowly wide in the 82nd minute.

Wolves had their opportunities to make the new Chelsea manager’s first game in charge one to forget despite the limited possession they had through the 90. Central midfielder Leander Dendonker had a ball floated to him from the left side, but he couldn’t keep his header down late in the first half. Striker Pedro Neto had a close opportunity in the second half but good defence from Hakim Ziyech pressured the Portuguese international to lift his shot over the bar.

Chelsea moves up to eighth in the league table and host Burnley this Sunday where Tuchel will be eager to pick up his first points for the London club. Wolves move to thirteenth and visit Crystal Palace on Saturday.

Burnley 3-2 Aston Villa

Sean Dyche’s Burnley have secured back-to-back Premier League wins despite being down twice during the course of the match. Dyche was pleased with the way Burnley were travelling prior to the game and believed that a top ten finish was still a possibility.

It was the visitors that took the lead early, though, as Villa’s top scorer Ollie Watkins found himself on the end of a cross from Matt Targett on the left wing for an outside the foot tap in. It took until the second half for Burnley to find their first equalizer of the match through centre back Ben Mee, who rose highest to meet an Ashley Westwood in swinging corner.

The home side would go behind again only 12 minutes later through Jack Grealish. A good passing move started by John McGinn who found the driving Grealish. A wide 1-2 with Douglas Luiz put the ball in the back of the net and the visitors ahead.

Burnely fought back for the rest of the match and stole the three points thanks to a Dwight McNeil shot that looked more like a cross that was waved and missed by everyone, including Emiliano Martinez between the sticks, and glancing Chris Wood header from a McNeil cross. It puts the Clarets 15th in the league while Aston Villa fall to 10th.

Brighton 0-0 Fulham

A clash at the bottom of the table saw both teams sharing the points at the Amex Stadium. Both teams had chances to put the other away but some great goalkeeping from both Alphonse Areola and Robert Sanchez kept the tie scoreless.

The best chance of the first half fell to Brighton and Leandro Trossard. A driving Neal Maupay cut inside from the right wing and played a diagonally backwards ball to Trossard who set himself and shot but straight at Areola. Fulham’s opportunity to go ahead before the half was flashed wide by Ivan Cavaleiro after Brighton were dispossessed and the striker charged from midfield to take the shot.

Both teams had efforts go over the bar and blocked in the second half. A great stop by Areola from a close-range effort from Maupay left the ball bobbling dangerously in the box and teed up for Solly March who cannoned his shot straight into a covering Ola Aina. Fulham almost took the points that would’ve put them ever closer to safety, but England international Ruben Loftus-Cheek saw his shot deflected off the line by centre back Lewis Dunk. 

It leaves both teams 17th and 18th respectively in the table with Brighton having a 5 point advantage of last night’s opponents. Brighton host Tottenham Hotspur on Sunday while Fulham travel to fellow relegation strugglers West Brom.

 Everton 1-1 Leicester

From the bottom of the table to the top half, Everton and Leicester shared a point each during a thrilling encounter that will mean more to Leicester as Everton still hold two games in hand over three teams, including Leicester, above them.

The Foxes had the chances early with James Maddison having his outside the box shot go over the bar and Harvey Barnes coming equally close. It was the home side, however, that struck first blood through Columbian signing James Rodriguez. A cross intended for Dominic Calvert-Lewin rebounded off defender Wesley Fofana back to the Columbian who curled a right footed shot past a standing still Kasper Schmeichel. It is his first goal since October where he bagged two against Brighton.

Leicester was the better team during the second half and were rewarded for their tenacity with an equalizer courtesy of Youri Tielemans. A ball that wasn’t dealt with well by the Everton defence found it’s way to the Belgian midfielder who struck with enough force from outside the box to go off Jordan Pickford’s outstretched glove and bring the game level.

Both sides had chances to find a winner but neither James Maddison’s well saved effort by Pickford or Calvert-Lewin’s header that flashed wide was enough and both squads left Goodison Park sharing the spoils. Both managers were pleased with the result in their post-match press conferences as Leicester continue their tally of 9 matches unbeaten in all competitions.

Manchester United 1-2 Sheffield United

Bottom of the league Sheffield United put up what is being hailed as the shock of the season by defeating title hopefuls Manchester United at Old Trafford. The Blades put up an extremely spirited performance for the full 90 minutes and were rightfully rewarded while Ole has a slight wobble at the wheel.

Sheffield United opened the scoring through Kean Bryan who glanced a header past David De Gea into the far corner from an in-swinging corner delivered by John Fleck. Manchester United players and fans will feel aggrieved by the allowing of the goal as players felt De Gea was fouled by Billy Sharp but neither referee Peter Bankes nor VAR official David Coote felt there was sufficient evidence to overturn or disallow the goal.

The Blades, who had only one win prior to this match, defended strongly for most of the match. Even after the game was levelled by a bullet header from captain Harry Maguire off an out swinging Alex Telles corner, the visitors were far the better and more determined team. Oliver Burke’s deflected shot off Axel Tuanzebe was enough to secure Sheffield’s second win of the season and shake the home side and the rest of the league up as Manchester City retake the lead at the top of the Premier League table.

Ben Fitzpatrick

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