Five more games took place on Sunday in the latest round of Premier League action, beginning with two high noon games from Selhurst Park and The King Power Stadium…
Crystal Palace 0 Fulham 0
Whilst watching this game, especially first half, I was wondering how on earth I was going to write anything about this one, as for the first forty five minutes at least literally nothing happened of note, with the best chance, if you could call it that, saw Fulham’s centre half Joachim Anderson send a header over the bar and about twelve rows back into the stand behind, it was that bad. Anderson was actually involved in the three ‘closest’ moments in the half, he headed another effort miles wide, and then down the other end flicked a Andros Townsend cross into the arms of his own keeper Alphonse Areola, but that was pretty much all that happened in a very poor first forty five minutes at Selhurst Park.
Of course a point would suit the hosts a lot more than the visitors, so Fulham had to try and come out and find a goal, and after the break they certainly had the chances to win the game but found Vincente Guiata a tough keeper to get past, and his point blank save from a Josh Maja header was the pick of his stops in the second period as Palace managed to hold on for a point and make it four points from six in their last two as they slowly but surely accumulate enough points to confirm there place in the Premier League next season, whereas for Fulham it’s still very much in the balance but they still are with in arms length of the teams above them still despite failing to win here.
Leicester City 1 Arsenal 3
The Gunners are a funny side aren’t they, you never know what you will get from them game to game, and early on here it seemed it was going to be a disappointing early afternoon from them when The Foxes took a sixth minute lead after poor defending allowed Youri Tielemens to run unchecked down the right before he fired a low effort into the far corner, but the much changed Gunners side responded well to going behind and saw David Luiz headed home six minutes before the break, and then in first half stoppage time they won a penalty after VAR had adjudged that Wilfred Ndidi had blocked Nicholas Pepe’s shot with his outstretched arm, and Alexander Lacazette converted the spot-kick and Arsenal had the lead going into the half time break.
And seven minutes after the break Pepe increased the Gunners cushion with a close-range finish which eventually saw them go on to take a much-deserved win over a Foxes side who had not had a great week after there exit in the Europa League against Slavia Prague on the same ground just three days earlier, and their poor afternoon was made worse when Harvey Barnes was carried off the field on a stretcher with his leg in a brace and it looks likely he will be out for some time, so that is a huge blow to the Foxes for the remainder of the season, and caps a rather dire week for them.
Let’s go onto the early afternoon showing now, and it came from North London, as Arsenal’s rivals Spurs were in action against Burnley at The Tottenham Hotspur Stadium…
Tottenham Hotspur 4 Burnley 0
Spurs knew they needed a win to go back above Arsenal in the table after the Gunners impressive win at Leicester, and they also needed a good performance after some rather poor showing recently had fans and media on the back of Jose Mourinho and his players, and they could not have had a better start to this one as Gareth Bale, who was making a rare start here, timed his run perfectly to prod home a cross from Son Heung-min, although the normally tight Burnley back line was left wanting and they were behind after just 75 seconds of the contest. Spurs then doubled their lead on fourteen minutes when that man Bale was given the freedom of North London to ping a wonderful pass over James Tarkowski, who tried to cut out the pass but failed, into Harry Kane who fired an effort which took a deflection and into the net, and Spurs were flying and were already well on their way to the points.
At the half-hour mark it was three for the Lilywhites as a ball in took a slight nick off a defenders head, fell to Lucas Moura inside the box, and he took a touch before firing an unstoppable left-footed effort into the far corner, and Spurs were cruising to the three points after a clinical opening third to this game, Burnley did have spells with the ball in the Spurs final third, but the hosts had been superb upfront so far and punished a Burnley back line who were normally well drilled, but were anything but here in this one. Bale managed to add another goal to his tally in the second period as after the visitors left themselves wide open once again, Spurs punished them to the max and Bale was left all alone on the left to curl a wonderful effort in off the far post and cap a pretty good afternoon’s work from the Welshman who seems to be slowly finding his form again after what has been a tough few months or even years for him, so that was nice to see, unless your a Burnley fan of course. This was not an afternoon for them to remember, and they are still nowhere near safe down at the bottom end of the table, so much work to do for Sean Dyche and Co.
The late afternoon kick off promised much action we hoped as Chelsea and Manchester United did battle at The Bridge, although their corresponding fixture at Old Trafford had been a rather lacklustre 0-0 draw, so what would happen here…
Chelsea 0 Manchester United 0
You often feel with big matchups like this they can go one of two ways, either the big players turn up and put on a show and the game is a classic as a result, or those same players go missing in these games it it ends up being a rather less memorable encounter, well sadly the latter happened in the most part as this game for the second time this season ended goalless, although there were some moments in the game that could have changed the result. The biggest talking point in the entire game happened in the first period when after a Marcus Rahford free-kick had been beaten away by Edouard Mendy, Callum Hudson Odoi and Mason Greenwood chased the loose ball inside the box.
Now, in real-time the ball seemed to strike the arm of Greenwood as both players tussled for the ball, and the Chelsea players appealed for a free-kick, but VAR concluded that they felt Hudson-Odoi had handled the ball prior to the ball hitting Greenwood’s arm and told referee Stuart Attwell to go over and look at the incident again, however, Attwell deemed his original decision correct and chose not to award a penalty despite VAR’s conclusion that they thought it was a penalty, and so United did not get what they wanted and Chelsea did, it was certainly a talking point which as usual divided opinion. Thomas Tuchel certainly felt it was not a penalty whilst Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was adamant it was and looked understandably frustrated when being interviewed after the contest.
And after the break both keepers had to make fine stops to keep their side level, David de Gea made a fine save to deny Hakim Ziyech in Chelsea’s best chance of the second period, whilst Mendy had to be alert to make a fine stop to deny Scott McTominay, and Fred was also just off target with another United effort and Mendy again had to punch away a late Bruno Fernandes effort, but all in all it was a fairly even contest overall, and no goals to show for it meaning both sides picked up a point which in the grand scheme of things didn’t really help either, although it is still a point to add to the tally I guess.
And onto the final game of Sunday, and it came from Bramall Lane, Sheffield, as The Blades looked to try and heap more misery on a Liverpool side who were on a four-match losing streak and looking to stop the rot and get their season back on track…
Sheffield United 0 Liverpool 2
You feel with every passing week the Blades life in the Premier League is all but coming to an end, and despite putting in another decent shift in this contest, ultimately it wasn’t enough as they fell to the 21st defeat in their league campaign as Liverpool had just too much for their opponents in the Sunday evening showing in South Yorkshire. The hosts had keeper Aaron Ramsdale to thank for keeping them level at the break after he pulled off five decent stops to keep Liverpool out, the pick of them being his save from Roberto Firmino, and you felt that if United could stay in the contest and maybe pinch one, they could possibly pull off a superb win.
This never happened though and early on in the second half Liverpool did find a way past Ramsdale when Trent Alexander-Arnold got to the by-line and just kept the ball in play (it was checked by VAR and correctly decided it had not gone out of play) and pulled a cross back to Curtis Jones and the youngster sent a lovely first time finish into the far corner, and this seemed to ease the Liverpool nerves thereafter. The hosts best chance saw Oli McBurnie head wide, but despite the Liverpool back line at times look a little nervy, they dealt anything the Blades could muster up on the whole fairly well, and then the visitors pretty much put an end to a Blades comeback when they doubled the lead as pretty average defending saw Firmino get into a shooting position and see his effort come off Kean Bryan, loop over Ramsdale, and end up in the net. It was Liverpool’s 7,000th top-flight goal, and it had put them well on the way to the points here.
Jones had once again been heavily involved in that goal, he has been superb lately and this was his fourth straight start in the Premier League, he is certainly one of few bright moments this season for the champions who have largely had negative things to deal with this season. He is certainly one to watch going forward and is now showing all of his potential in the first team, so this is a good thing for the player and the club itself. For The Blades this was another display that showed great spirit and determination, but as has been the case in the majority of games this season they have fallen short, and relegation is surely now only a matter of time away now.
Let’s see how today’s games have affected the table…
It has been a very good day for Manchester City with both Manchester United and Leicester City dropping yet more points, meaning their lead at the top if now a whopping twelve points, whilst it has been a good day for West Ham who remains fourth after Chelsea failed to get three points in their game against Manchester United. Liverpool’s win takes them just two points off the top four, whilst Spurs and Arsenal both move closer to the top six after they both won today, and only five points separate 15th placed Burnley and 18th placed Fulham, so the battle for the final relegation spot looks to be hotting up at least. One more game in this round of fixtures takes place on Monday night as Everton host Southampton at Goodison.