Weekend Premier League recap

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

All 20 Premier League teams were back in action for a full Friday to Monday gameweek. In a week that included not one but two derby encounters, it wouldn’t just be points on the line for the squads involved but the pride and ability to call their respective cities theirs.

Wolverhampton 1-0 Leeds

We begin in the Friday night lights of the Molineux Stadium where Wolverhampton secured back-to-back wins over a Leeds team that was in control of possession. Despite their best efforts, Leeds failed to break through and find their way past Rui Patricio and the Wolves backline.

Both sides went close during the first half with goalkeepers being the story of the half. Liam Cooper for Leeds headed straight at Rui Patricio from a cross from Raphinha. Mateusz Klich would fire a strike seven minutes later but could only find the post. Meanwhile, for Wolves, Nelson Semedo shot towards goal after an assist by Willian Jose but Illan Meslier would be equal to the effort and save to his bottom right to deny the home side the lead before half time.

It would be Adama Traore’s shot for Wolverhampton to open the scoring but the goal would not be credited to him.  Traore, who fired a thunderbolt from 25 yards out, struck off the crossbar and out but the ball would hit Meslier and roll into the net for an own goal. Leeds pressed for an equalizer and had the ball in the back of the net in the 77th minute after Patrick Bamford was played in by Tyler Roberts. Bamford was ruled offside by the assistant referee and VAR confirmed by the finest of margins that Bamford was, indeed, offside.

Wolves have now won three out of their last four matches and gone back-to-back for the first time since October. They will look to extend that run to three successive against Newcastle next week. Leeds have a short turnaround as they play their game in hand against Southampton on Tuesday evening.

Southampton 1-1 Chelsea

Southampton have put an end to their six game losing run but are, however, seven games without a win after holding the resurged Chelsea to a 1-1 draw at St Mary’s. Chelsea, who held a massive 70.9% possession in the match, couldn’t find a winner despite this domination.

Chances came few and far between for the visiting team in the first half with Marcus Alonso’s first-time effort going wide right in the sixth minute. Southampton, who had the fewer total chances during the match, were the ones to hit the lead first after loanee midfielder Takumi Minamino collected the ball from Nathan Redmond’s through pass and, after juking Edouard Mendy and Cesar Azpilicueta, stroked the ball in the net for the lead.

Chelsea would have the game restored to equal standings in the score column shortly after the restart with Mason Mount being awarded a penalty after being fouled by Danny Ings. The young English midfielder converted coolly, and the game was back to even. Both teams had opportunities to find a winner but both Jannik Vestergaard of Southampton and Reece James for Chelsea saw chances go over the bar.

Southampton’s draw will certainly lift morale in Hasenhuttl’s camp ahead of their game in hand make up with Leeds on Tuesday night. Thomas Tuchel remains unbeaten in the Premier League ahead of the Blues hosting Manchester United next Sunday.

Burnley 0-0 West Brom

Despite being put down to ten men during the contest, West Brom will feel frustrated at missed chances after being held goalless at Turf Moor. The Baggies, despite not having the possession, outshot Burnley but came up empty in a game that will certainly add to Sam Allardyce’s safety worries.

West Brom set the pace early through Matheus Pereira. The forward, who was an ever-present threat throughout the match, was kept out twice by Nick Pope in the Burnley net. They would go down to ten men after Semi Ajayi was shown red by Mike Dean in his first game back after being sent death threats following his red card to Soucek in the West Ham-Fulham draw a couple of weeks prior. Ajayi handled the ball and stopped a Burnley goalscoring opportunity and the defender had to go.

The second half showed a spirited performance from West Brom as they threw it all on the line to try and go home with the three points. Mbaye Diagne could only hit the cross bar from his close ranged effort in the 72nd minute before Pereira had a shot cleared brilliantly off the line by James Tarkowski. The chance summed up the day for West Brom, agonisingly close but no cigar.

The draw pushes Burnley’s unbeaten run to four games and keeps them above the relegation zone with a date with Tottenham Hotspur set for Sunday. West Brom’s second draw in a row sets their safety point margin to 11 points and they host Brighton on Saturday.

Liverpool 0-2 Everton

In the first of two derby matches this week, Everton have recorded their first win at Anfield in the Premier League since 1999 as the Toffees go level on points with the reigning champions. It is the first Merseyside derby Jurgen Klopp has lost and, more concerningly, their fourth consecutive home loss.

Everton had the lead within just three minutes thanks to Richarlison’s strike. The Brazilian hooked onto a peach of a through ball from James Rodriguez and fired past Alisson to the put the visitors ahead early. Liverpool went straight into fight back mode with Jordan Henderson’s volleyed effort being saved by the fingertips of a returning Jordan Pickford. Henderson would limp off injured before the conclusion of the first half, adding to Liverpool’s defensive injury crisis.

That didn’t discourage the home side to continue their efforts, though, with Liverpool staring the brightest following the restart. It was Pickford to the rescue early having to stop Sadio Mane and, later, Mohamed Salah when he was played through on goal by Xherdan Shaqiri. The win was secured in the 83rd minute for Everton when Dominic-Calvert Lewin was brought down in the area by Trent Alexander-Arnold. It penalty sent Gylfi Sigurdsson to the spot who scored and secured history for the visitors.

Everton now sit behind Liverpool by goal difference, but Everton still have a game in hand to play against Aston Villa. Everton host Southampton on March 1st while Liverpool will travel to Sheffield United on Sunday.

Fulham 1-0 Sheffield United

Fulham have moved to within three points of safety after taking three points off bottom of the league Sheffield United. The home side, who enjoyed the best of the opportunities in the game, will relish the points after having drawn two of their last three matches and climb ever closer to escaping the relegation zone.

Aaron Ramsdale had his work cut out for him in the Sheffield United net in the first half. The keeper had to deny Harrison Reed’s outside of the area attempt and was seeing shots fly including that of Ivan Cavaleiro who fired over after cutting inside. Like many Fulham games, it felt the chances were there, but the question became could they take them.

Fulham could, indeed, take their chances and it was Ademola Lookman who was the one to take it. After Ruben Loftus-Cheek’s shot was cleared off the line, Lookman slid a shot under Ramsdale at his near post to take a deserved lead. The visitors fought valiantly to try and get a reply but some quality goalkeeping by Alphonse Areola kept the win and clean sheet intact and makes Fulham unbeaten in four.

Fulham continue their push for Premier League survival when they travel to Crystal Palace next week while Sheffield United host Liverpool, both games taking place on Sunday.

West Ham 2-1 Tottenham

West Ham have climbed into the Champions League qualification places after holding on for a big win at London Stadium. In the second derby of the weekend, it took a strong defensive performance for the home side to hold on to all three points which they did, successfully.

West Ham had the lead early in the match when Michael Antonio latched onto a cross from Jarrod Bowen. His initial flick towards goal was parried well by Hugo Lloris in goal but couldn’t be dealt with by the Spurs defence and Antonio was left for the easy follow up tap in. Tottenham failed to have any real chances during the first half and looked almost lethargic in the opening stages. Their best first half chance came from Erik Lamela whose shot was saved by Lukasz Fabianski.

Things went from bad to worse defensively for Tottenham when Jesse Lingard had the ball in the back of the net from a fantastic left footed solo effort. The goal was originally ruled out for offside, but VAR overturned the on field decision and the goal counted. Spurs woke up after this and had a goal thanks to a header from Lucas Moura from a corner. They continued to press for the equalizer with Bale’s crossbar hitting volley coming agonizingly close, but it just wasn’t to be, and London was claret and blue.

The win marks the start of a difficult run of games for West Ham, with their next task being an away encounter with the current league leaders Manchester City. The loss for Tottenham keeps them ninth but with a game in hand. They host Burnley next week.

Aston Villa 1-2 Leicester

Leicester have continued their good form as of late winning their third match in four away from home at Villa Park. Two early goals from the visitors were enough to give them the victory in a match that was extremely even in terms of possession for both sides.

The goals for Leicester both came during the first half, the first of which coming from the highly influential James Maddison. Maddison, who was set up on the edge of the penalty area by Ashley Barnes, shot low and hard out of the reach of Emiliano Martinez for the lead. It took just four minutes for Barnes to get on the scoresheet after Martinez spilled a Jamie Vardy effort, leaving Barnes to rifle the ball into the roof of the net.

Villa had hopes of a comeback and were on the right track after the restart. Bertrand Traore scored from a close-range finish after being supplied by Matt Targett’s cross and the game looked up for grabs or, at the very least, a point. The home side just couldn’t find the final link, though, with Morgan Sanson’s effort seven minutes from time going just wide.

Leicester’s win keeps them in good stead and in the top four for when they host Arsenal at the King Power next week. Aston Villa stay level on points with Tottenham but are ahead thanks to goal difference. Villa travel to Elland Road to face Leeds in their next match.

Arsenal 0-1 Manchester City

Manchester City have won thirteen Premier League games in a row after taking all three points from the Emirates Stadium on Sunday afternoon. A match that had few opportunities on target, City were predictably in control throughout and put on a strong display.

It took just two minutes for the visitors to take the lead and score the goal that would be the decisive one. Riyad Mahrez swung in a cross from the right wing and was met by the head of Raheem Sterling past Bernd Leno and into the net. It was his first goal since their win over Liverpool at the start of the month and his ninth goal of the Premier League season.

Ilkay Gundogan, who was voted Player of the Month last month, was lively again in this one and had his effort in the 56th minute tipped away by Bernd Leno. Chances came few and far between with both teams’ defences playing well. Mohamed Elneny almost capitalised on a brief lapse of judgement for City’s defence but he flashed his shot just wide. With just one shot on target the whole game, Arsenal just didn’t have the killer instinct needed to try and draw level or, possibly, put them away.

The win means that Manchester City sit ten points clear at the top of the Premier League table and are unbeaten in 17 Premier League games. They host West Ham next week while Arsenal travel to Leicester in hopes to gain some lost places in the table.

Manchester United 3-1 Newcastle

Manchester United, however, keep their hold on second in the table after defeating Newcastle at Old Trafford despite a few defensive wobbles from the home side. United managed to push through and take the three points after being deadlocked at one a piece going into half time, placing Newcastle’s dreams of safety into the realm of worry for Steve Bruce.

It was the English forward turned strong political activist Marcus Rashford who put the home side in the lead, taking the Red Devils half an hour to do so. Rashford went past Emil Krafth not just once with a cheeky nutmeg, but twice before drilling his shot past Karl Darlow’s near post. Things weren’t destined to be as easy as it appeared, though, after Allain Saint-Maximin equalised for Newcastle. The Frenchman was quickest to react as Harry Maguire failed to clear a centred ball from Joe Wilock.

Manchester United would have the lead again, though, when Daniel James fired a low shot into the net following a deft Bruno Fernandes touch. Fernandes would have a goal of his own to seal the victory for United when Rashford was brought down by Wilock in the penalty area. Fernandes stepped up and slotted home giving them the win with 15 minutes to go.

United stay in second place on goal difference but will have a difficult test next Sunday when they travel to Stamford Bridge to face Thomas Tuchel’s Chelsea. Newcastle stay 17th with the loss but the gap to the relegation zone is just three points following Fulham’s win. They host Wolverhampton on Saturday.

Brighton 1-2 Crystal Palace

Crystal Palace left it till the last minute to take all three points away from Brighton in the final match of the week on Monday night. It took till the 96th minute for the visitors to break the deadlock and reclaim the lead they had despite being dominated in most major categories.

The night started well for Crystal Palace with Jean-Philippe Mateta scoring his first Premier League goal. The Frenchman, who started ahead of Wilfried Zaha due to his injury concerns, turned on a dime piece a conjured a beautiful backheel through the legs of Robert Sanchez in the Brighton net. Brighton had plenty of chances throughout the first 45, but none of them really tested Guaita.

Brighton would have the goal they felt they deserved, though, when Joel Veltman scored at the back post on the rebound of Pascal Gross’ blocked shot. Adam Lallana had a chance to make it two with a quarter of an hour remaining, but his shot flew over. The winner, in the end, came from subsitiute Christian Benteke, who volleyed a shot into the bottom corner off an Andros Townsend cross with just seconds remaining on the clock.

The win propels Palace up to 13th on the league table and level on points with Leeds; the latter team playing a game in hand tonight. Crystal Palace will host Fulham on Sunday while Brighton travel to fellow relegation threatened West Brom.

Ben Fitzpatrick

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