Premier League recap

Ben Fitzpatrick, is a member of the YCL’s Birmingham branch

We are back in the thick of another midweek fixture list with another five games taking place overnight. Plenty of teams playing to get themselves back in winning ways from the weekend and, with the games coming thick and fast and the season being the closest we’ve seen in a while, points are more valuable than ever.

Burnley 0-2 Manchester City

We start at Turf Moor where league leaders Manchester City have restored their three point lead at the top of the Premier League table after an away win last night. The win is their ninth consecutive Premier League win and a sixth straight clean sheet in a game that was relatively comfortable for Pep Guardiola’s side.

Fans didn’t have to wait long for the opening goal of the contest after Benardo Silva’s effort was saved by Burnley keeper Nick Pope but saved directly into the path of Gabriel Jesus who headed in for the goal and the early lead. Jesus, who was goalless in nine before the weekend, now has himself two from two. The City lead was double seven minutes before half time after Ilkay Gundogan set up Raheem Stirling for a close range tap in as the visitors enjoyed a majority of the possession.

Stirling was up and about again early in the second half but was denied by Nick Pope who made himself big to kill off the one-on-one chance. Burnley had opportunities to get themselves a goal against the league leaders with Czech striker Matej Vydra coming closest. The forward controlled the ball well with his chest before firing a volley that went just over Ederson’s goal.

Manchester City stay at the top of the table with a mouth-watering clash with reigning champions Liverpool booked in for Sunday at Anfield. Burnley, meanwhile, drop to 17th with the loss eight points above the relegation zone. They host Brighton on Saturday.

Fulham 0-2 Leicester

Leicester have moved up into third place and ahead of Liverpool after beating relegation strugglers Fulham at Craven Cottage. After falling to Leeds on the weekend, the Foxes and Brendan Rodgers were eager to make up for lost time and a subpar performance.

There was plenty of action in the first half with the opening goal coming before 20 minutes. James Maddison put in a pinpointed cross to Kelechi Iheanacho who headed past Alphonse Areola for the lead. Fulham had a chance to equalise soon after through a Tosin Adarabioyo headed effort, but it was brilliantly tipped over by Kasper Schmeichel. Defender James Justin gave Leicester their two goal cushion before half time after taking the ball around Areola and coolly slipping it in the net.

Fulham attempted to build a comeback throughout the second half but just fell short in their efforts. Ivan Cavaliero, who was brought on at the half for Kenny Tete, fired his shot narrowly wide shortly after coming on. Bobby De Cordova-Reid had an opportunity late on but his attempt only found the side netting of Schmiechel’s net.

Leicester travel to Wolverhampton hoping to keep their grip on the top four while Fulham return to Craven Cottage to face the high flying West Ham on the weekend.

Leeds 1-2 Everton

Leeds have fallen to a frustrating defeat against Everton despite having the lion’s share of chances and possession at Elland Road. Everton, who were without first choice goalkeeper Jordan Pickford due to an abdominal injury, held on after taking a two goal lead before half time.

Everton captain Gylfi Sigurdsson found himself back on the scoresheet since Boxing Day to give the Toffees the early lead. Sigurdsson received the ball through a left sided cross from full back Lucas Digne and dispatched the opportunity with a side-footed finish. Ezgjan Alioski had a chance to draw level for the home side but his volleyed attempt only found the post. Dominic Calvert-Lewin made them rue the lost chance with a far post header to make it two before half time.

The home side were on the attack in the second half, though, and they came within one just three minutes after the match restarted. Patrick Bamford, who has hit a period of fine form as of late, fed Brazillian wide midfielder Raphinha who finished with composure to make it 2-1 and game on. Leeds had plenty of chances to make it 2-2 including back to back to back efforts from Mateusz Kilch, Raphinha and Jack Harrison but all three were kept out in quick succession by Robin Olsen. In the end, Leeds just didn’t have the finishing touch and fell short of the mark.

This puts Leeds 11th and just two points behind Arsenal and the top half of the table. Everton, however, sit four points behind their Merseyside rivals Liverpool and, with two games in hand, there is a very real possibility they could catch up and overtake them.

Aston Villa 1-3 West Ham

A debuting Jesse Lingard had a debut to remember and showed to any doubters of his ability what he was capable after guiding West Ham to a strong away victory against Aston Villa. In a game where all the goals came in the second half, Lingard starred in his first start and showed the power of the man the West Ham faithful dub ‘The Moyesiah’.

Both teams had chances to draw first blood in the first half but both chances saw themselves go the wrong side of their respective posts. Ollie Watkins was the one to go closest for Villa in the first 45, having his shot just clip the outside of the post after carrying the ball well. For West Ham, it was Tomas Soucek who went wide with his curling effort just missing the target.

Soucek would have more chances, though, and he was the one to open the scoring after being on the end of a cross from Said Benrahma and placing it in the bottom left corner. Just five minutes had passed when Lingard opened his West Ham account, controlling a Michail Antonio cross with his chest and firing past Emilano Martinez. Ollie Watkins did bag himself a goal thanks to a Jack Grealish assist but the game was sealed when Jesse Lingard fired through Martinez’s gate for his second and the Hammers’ third.

The win, which is West Ham’s third straight away win in the Premier League, raises them to fifth with a trip to Craven Cottage coming up. Aston Villa, who sit ninth, will host Arsenal in a hope to return to winning ways.

Liverpool 0-1 Brighton

Liverpool may have their work cut out for them for the rest of the season as they were stunned by a lower positioned team for the second time in two weeks. The home side were largely subdued throughout the match as Brighton bagged a crucial three points against a top 6 opponent in their quest for safety.

Mohammed Salah had a chance to carry over his goalscoring touch from the weekend’s clash with West Ham early on but his shot only went skywards after receiving a through ball from Jordan Henderson. It was Brighton, though, that threatened the most with Neal Maupay and Dan Burn both going close but just missing the target. The visitors were extremely impressive in their approach and sensed a reward was coming.

Well, their reward did indeed come in the 56th minute when Steven Alzate steered the ball past Alisson and into the lead after some great combination play with Dan Burn and Leandro Trossard. While Brighton didn’t have the overwhelming amount of possession Liverpool had, Brighton had four times as many shots go on target at Anfield which summed up an extremely frustrating evening for Jurgen Klopp and his men.

Liverpool now has to recompose themselves and fight with a renewed vigour ahead of an important six pointer at the top of the league with current league leaders Manchester City. The win for Brighton takes them 15th and, while it may be too early to tell in this topsy turvy season, a possible shoe in for safety and a place in the 21/22 Premier League season.

Ben Fitzpatrick

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