Midweek Premier League recap

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

Over half of the Premier League played across the midweek ahead of a full weekend programme. In action were teams like the league leaders, Manchester City, second place Manchester United as well as bottom half sides like Sheffield United and Burnley in hopes of picking up the vital points they needed for their respective campaigns.

Manchester City 4-1 Wolverhampton

We kick things off with Manchester City racking their 15th consecutive win by beating Wolverhampton at the Etihad on Tuesday night. The home side left it late, though, with City scoring three goals to seal the win within ten minutes plus stoppage time.

The hosts did strike first, as many probably expected, but in a way those more than likely didn’t expect. Riyad Mahrez fizzed a low cross into the Wolves penalty area which was turned in by Wolves defender Leander Dendoncker for an own goal. Bernando Silva almost give the home side a goal two cushion but his header was kept out by Rui Patricio to cap off what was a dominant half of Manchester City football.

Wolverhampton weren’t about to make this easy for the league leaders and had an equalizer for the visitors just past the hour mark. Joao Moutinho’s wide free kick was met by Conor Coady’s header who scored past Ederson to level the score. Cue Gabriel Jesus who bagged two goals in ten minutes to add to a 90th minute finish by Mahrez to keep the three points in Manchester and the win streak alive.

Manchester City’s next clash is, quite possibly, the most important of the season as they host Manchester United at Etihad Stadium on Sunday. A win for City would all but secure the title for them and paint Manchester blue to boot. Wolves will travel to Aston Villa on Saturday as they look to get back to winning ways.

Burnley 1-1 Leicester City

A resolute Burnley held Leicester City to a point on Wednesday evening with a bright performance that will fill Sean Dyche with plenty of confidence for their survival chances. It was a story of wasted chances all around with Leicester recording the most shots in the game but Burnley’s seven on target to Leicester’s four shows a lack in the final third for the visitors.

Burnley didn’t waste time in taking the lead with Matej Vydra scoring his first goal in the Premier League since February of last year. The striker pounced on a defensive miscue by Hamza Choudhury to fire the home side into the lead within five minutes. The Foxes would be level before the half, though, by way of a sweet first-time volley by Kelechi Iheanacho from an over the top pass by Wilfred Ndidi in the 34th minute.

Even with fewer overall chances, Burnley were the ones that continued to threaten after the break with Chris Wood almost putting them back into the lead shortly after the restart. Kasper Schmeichel was brilliantly equal to it, though, and kept Leicester in the game. Ashley Westwood had a half volley rocket off of the post as Sean Dyche’s men continued to press forward in a match where they came so close in the short term but look in good stead to go far in the long run.

Burnley still hover above the relegation zone after claiming just the one point but will now turn their attention to hosting Arsenal with a renewed sense of confidence. Leicester stay third and will visit Brighton in hopes to overtake Manchester United if results go their way.

Sheffield United 1-0 Aston Villa

A ten man Sheffield United have won for only the fourth time season despite trailing in five major statistics categories. The Blades had less possession, shots, shots on target, touches and passes than Aston Villa but managed to hold for the three points.

Villa had the best of the early game, maintaining possession and getting shots off in an effort to test Aaron Ramsdale. Both John McGinn and Ollie Watkins both went close before David McGoldrick scored for Sheffield United. George Baldock’s shot in the 30th minute looked destined to miss the target until McGoldrick worked some individual magic to stretch and divert the ball goal bound with the help of the underside of the crossbar to give the home side the lead.

The visitors continued to try and push for an equalizer and were given a helping hand to do so when Phil Jagielka was shown red. The defender was originally shown yellow for a challenge on Anwar El Ghazi by VAR upgraded the card decision to red for the challenge using excessive force. They couldn’t find a way to break through, though, and Sheffield United scampered away with all three points.

The win shortens Sheffield’s point threshold for safety to twelve points ahead of hosting Southampton. Aston Villa’s loss drops them to ninth and they host Wolverhampton on Saturday.

Crystal Palace 0-0 Manchester United

Manchester United battled hard in order to extend their club record 21 Premier League game unbeaten run but have now only picked up one win in five outings. United had the better of Palace for the majority of the match but only managed one shot on target through the whole ninety minutes.

That one shot on target came by way of Nemanja Matic in the early stages of the match. His shot from 25 yards out took a deflection off a covering defender and required a fantastic tipped save from Vicente Guaita to hold the visitors scoreless. Marcus Rashford and Mason Greenwood both had chances during the first half, but both English attackers fired their shots wide in what would be the watchword of any of Manchester United’s attacks.

Palace stepped their game up in the second half and Andros Townsend came close with a volley in attempt to break the deadlock but fired just wide. United’s shooting woes continued with Greenwood having a good look from distance but rising just over the crossbar. They would’ve come to rue the lost chances as well if were not for a reflex save by Dean Henderson in the United goal to keep out a close-range effort by Patrick van Aanholt in the dying embers.

Both teams have difficult opposition on the weekend and will be eager to try and cause an upset over their respective hosts. Crystal Palace travel to Tottenham Hotspur while Manchester United play at the Etihad in the Manchester derby.

Fulham 0-1 Tottenham Hotspur

A returning Dele Alli played a key role in a London derby win away at Fulham. The English playmaker was the catalyst for the only goal in a match where, on paper, the visitors didn’t deserve to win. For Fulham, its another case of all the chances but no venom in the final touch as they are now only one win in four league matches.

Spurs were the dominant side in the opening 20 minutes with Harry Kane looking lively to start. His close-range header straight down the throat of Alphonse Areola was an effort on target at the very least but was a hopeful sign for the visitors. It wouldn’t be Kane who would open the scoring, though, as Son Heung-min played in a low cross towards Alli in the 19th minute. Alli, who made his first start for Tottenham since opening day, flicked the ball towards goal but careened off Tosin Adarabioyo into the net for an own goal.

Fulham had their spark ignited after the goal with Hugo Lloris being called into action plenty of times to keep the visitors ahead. Josh Maja scored for Fulham just past the hour mark for what was thought to be the leveller. However, the goal was reviewed by VAR and consequently ruled out for a handball against Mario Lemina in the lead up to the goal. Spurs battled hard for the rest of the match to hold on to the three points and climb closer to the top four.

The win sees Tottenham climb to eighth and the gap to the top four narrows to just four points. They host Crystal Palace on Sunday. Fulham stay in the relegation needing three points to climb out and results to go their way. It’ll be a tough ask for them to do it this weekend as they travel to Liverpool.

West Brom 0-1 Everton

Everton’s campaign for a European cup competition spot gained an added boost after winning their third straight game against hosts West Brom. The Toffees, who still have a game in hand over those above them, played a well fought contest and came out on top thanks to a certain in form Brazilian striker.

The first half was the definition of a footballing tug of war with both sides having very good chances to take the early lead. West Brom had the first chance with Mbaye Diagne heading an effort that seemed destined for the net but was rescued by a flying Jordan Pickford save. Everton then had shots in quick succession that just missed the mark with Richarlison’s shot deflecting over and Dominic Calvert-Lewin firing straight at a gracious Sam Johnston after working himself into a good position.

Twenty minutes into the second half, we would get the goal you sensed was coming with the way the game was unfolding. Gylfi Sigurdsson crossed into the box from the left hand side and Richarlison rose highest to head home his fourth straight goal in as many matches to put Everton in the lead. West Brom continued to battle and had an equalizer thanks to a Diagne strike but it was scrubbed out by the assistant referee’s flag for offside.

The loss for the home side means that they are now nine points from safety; a tall task but certainly not impossible. They host Newcastle on Sunday in an effort to get back on the right track. Everton are on the road again next and are set up for a Monday night encounter with Chelsea.

Liverpool 0-1 Chelsea

The final match of the midweek was a big clash at the top of the table with Chelsea recording their first win at Anfield since 2014, beating the reigning champions. Liverpool, who have now lost five straight at home, failed to register more than one shot on target during the match and fell victim to a seemingly unbeatable Thomas Tuchel.

Like usual under Tuchel, Chelsea were the dominant side as soon as the whistle blew with Timo Werner having two very good opportunities to strike early, both of which fell just short. Werner did score but the goal was ruled out by VAR for offside. It was, instead, Mason Mount who provided the breakthrough with a clinical finish past Alisson and into the bottom right corner before the half came to an end. A deserved end result for a team who had been the aggressor throughout.

Chelsea didn’t let up in the second half with Ben Chilwell forcing a quality save from Alisson and Andy Robertson being called into last ditch defensive duty to keep Hakim Ziyech’s follow up out of the net. Alisson would be required again late on to stop Timo Werner from doubling the visitors’ lead but couldn’t stop Chelsea from taking all three points back to London with them.

The unbeaten run stretches to ten unbeaten for Chelsea and Thomas Tuchel as they leapfrog West Ham and Everton into fourth with the win. It sets up an intriguing encounter with Everton on Monday night in a match that will have top six ramifications. Liverpool must pick themselves back up to face Fulham at Anfield on Sunday and hope to snap the home losing streak they have now accrued.

Ben Fitzpatrick

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