Week 12 continued on Saturday with four more matches, and it began with a Midlands derby at Molineux as Wolves welcomed Aston Villa in the lunchtime kick-off…
Wolverhampton Wanderers 0 Aston Villa 1
Wolves did the double over Villa last season, although they had not managed to win three on the spin against their opponents for around sixty years, Villa had only one win over the hosts in the past six meetings, with Wolves winning the last three meetings here.
Wolves home form was good currently this season, on a four-match unbeaten run, and their defensive record at home recently was excellent, eight clean sheets from their past twelve Premier League games and had the best defensive record in the division at home this term.
Villa’s form coming into this was not great, four defeats from their last five, however, they had won three of their four away matches in the league this season and had kept a clean sheet in three of those, so maybe they could draw on that to get back on track.
Villa also knew a win would take them above their opponents in the table, whilst Wolves knew victory would take them level with the top five, but the game remained goalless into the final quarter of the game and with twenty minutes left Wolves so nearly took the lead but saw Fabio Silva hit a first-time effort off the inside of the post.
It had been the closest anyone had come to scoring in what had been a very tight Midlands derby, as you would suspect, and Wolves came close again with ten minutes to go after Neto’s cross found Dendocker who volleyed at goal but saw Martinez make a save, but they really should have scored.
With five minutes left though, Villa saw Douglas Luiz sent off for a second booking after leading into a header with an elbow, meaning the visitors would have to see out the remaining few minutes with a man light, but they did much better than that as this game was to have a dramatic late twist when Villa was awarded a 92nd-minute spot-kick after Semedo dragged down McGinn.
And Villa netted that spot-kick through Anwar El Ghazi, sending Rui Patricio the wrong way, and then deeper into added-on time Wolves were reduced to ten men when Joao Moutinho fouled Jacob Ramsey and received a second booking to see Wolves also end with ten, and Villa had snatched the three points right at the death!!!
The hosts had the best chances over the ninety minutes, but it was Villa who dug in and grabbed a superb win.
The afternoon showing took us up to the North East and St James Park as Newcastle welcomed West Brom…
Newcastle United 2 West Bromwich Albion 1
The Toon would be without a chuck of first-team players due to their Covid-19 outbreak, although three unnamed players did return positive tests so are back in training, but it wasn’t ideal preparation for this clash with strugglers West Brom who themselves were thrashed 5-1 at home by Palace last time out.
The Toon had won just one of their past five league meetings against The Baggies, although they did win at The Hawthorns in March when they met in last season’s FA Cup, whilst West Brom was vying to win successive away league meetings against the Magpies for the first time in 54 years.
And if the Baggies managed to net in this one it would be their 200th in the league against their opponents today, although goals were an issue for them this season, having only netted three in their past eight games and failed to net in six league games in total, a league-high.
Both teams were in poor form, Newcastle had won two and lost five of their last seven games, whilst the visitors only point away from home this season was at Brighton as they sit second bottom in the division, although a win would see them climb out of the bottom three for now, whilst for the host’s victory could see them into the top half.
Well, just twenty seconds into the contest Newcastle had the lead after the visitors lost possession and saw the hosts charge forward and Miguel Almiron was left unmarked to fire home Joelinton’s pass, what a start for the home side and what a terrible start for the Baggies!!!
The Magpies nearly doubled that lead just past the half-hour mark but Joelinton saw his effort turned behind by Sam Johnstone, but West Brom should of levelled a minute before the break when the hosts got themselves into a mess at the back and the ball dropped to Conor Gallagher who drilled an effort through the legs of Jono Shelvey but just wide. Could that prove to be a big miss?
Initially, it didn’t seem to be, as five minutes after the restart West Brom levelled after Darnell Furlong sent a wonderful first-time finish arrowing past Karl Darlow after a cross into the box, and it was a perfect start to the second period for the visitors, could they go on a net a big big win?
Newcastle had chances to finish off West Brom in the first half but the tied had completely turned and it was they who were now looking the likelier to get another, but as we entered the final twenty minutes Dwight Gayle was somehow denied a goal for the hosts when he saw his effort headed off the line by Matt Phillips.
With nine minutes remaining though the hosts did retake the lead and Gayle wasn’t to be denied this time, sending a scorcher of a header beyond Johnstone after getting on the end of a Jacob Murphy cross, and Toon had nine minutes plus change to hang on.
It turned out to be the winner and hand Newcastle an important win after a tough couple of weeks off the field, whilst for West Brom it’s now eight defeats in twelve and they stay in the bottom three.
And so, it was onto the big one, the Manchester derby at Old Trafford for the early evening kick-off, to see who could bag the bragging right’s in the City for now and climb into the top four to boot…
Manchester United 0 Manchester City 0
United went into this derby above City knowing they could go into the top four with a game in hand by next week, which isn’t bad considering they are a team who are certainly making hard work of it this season, they have come from behind in five of their six Premier League wins so far this term.
City, on the other hand, have looked to have put their early-season struggles behind them and are currently on a run of five clean sheets and have only conceded two goals in their last ten, although those two were against the top two.
This is the 183rd Manchester derby and the first (a hopefully only one) to be played without fans, and the hosts had won three of their four derbies last season, including a double over them in the league for the first time in a decade. United currently lead the top-flight record between the two 58 to 45.
But City had won the most Premier League games as the visiting side at Old Trafford with seven and six of the past eight derbies in all competitions had been won by the visitors, and City was looking to net three straight wins for the first time this season.
United though was looking to net five straight league wins and banish those awful memories from midweek in the champions league, so who would come out on top in this latest Manchester derby?
United would have the first chance on eleven minutes as Luke Shaw whipped in a set play which Victor Lindelof flicked on, and although it reached Scott McTominay at the back post he could not stretch enough to connect, and the ball drifted out of play, and United then got in behind seven minutes later through Bruno Fernandes, but he could not wrap his foot around the ball and it ended up trickling through to Ederson.
The hosts had made a good start then but were almost caught on the hop just before the midway point of the first period, as Raheem Sterling exchanged passes with Kevin de Bruyne before jinking past Aaron Wan-Bissaka and smacking a shot towards goal which Harry Maguire managed to excellently block and deny the visitors.
City though should have led after 26 minutes after Riyad Mahrez popped a ball over the top for Gabriel Jesus to eventually get onto the end of after outmuscling Wan-Bissaka, but he could only scoop over from six yards with David de Gea in no man’s land, it was a big let-off for United, and City was carving out chances now and saw Mahrez send a free-kick into he box for John Stones to fling himself at, but the ball looped up into de Gea’s grateful hands.
On the half-hour mark Ederson almost gave United the lead, as the City keeper gave the ball away under no pressure whatsoever and Marcus Rashford picked out Paul Pogba but his attempt deflected over, but the best opening of the game thus far came with ten minutes of the half to go when a Mahrez effort was saved by de Gea and de Bruyne could only blast the rebound over.
United then went close five minutes before the break when Fernandes delivery was flicked on at the near post by Lindelof but it sailed narrowly over, and then three minutes later United cut City open, but it ended with Mason Greenwood’s effort being blocked by a sprawling Ruben Das.
Two minutes into the second half though United won a penalty after Rashford was tripped by Kyle Walker, but VAR intervened and Rashford was adjudged to have been offside and the decision was overturned. A big let off for City that!!!
Greenwood then scuffed wide for the hosts soon after, and then Pogba fizzed a lovely ball through to Rashford but the England international slipped as he took the shot on and the ball sailed wide of Ederson’s goal, and then with just over twenty minutes to go City got in behind the hosts through Jesus, he teed up de Bruyne eight yards out, but Maguire produced another superb block to deny him.
City put United under some pressure towards the end of the contest but United went close with three minutes to go when Fernandes sent a snapshot down the throat of Ederson, and then Fernandes flashed a shot just wide as the game entered stoppage time as they looked for a late winner.
City then had a couple of openings in stoppage time, Rodri curled an effort into the grasp of de Gea, and de Bruyne then had the chance to win it, but blazed over, although it turned out Jesus was offside in the build-up anyway, so it would not have counted.
So the 181st Manchester derby ended goalless, meaning a point apiece for both clubs.
The final game of Saturday came from the North West as Everton welcomed Chelsea to Goodison Park for the evening showing…
Everton 1 Chelsea 0
The Toffees could win three successive Premier League matches against The Blues for the first time in eight years with a victory here, although Chelsea had kept a clean sheet in six of the last eight league matches.
Chelsea ended a four-match winless run against their opponents with a 4-0 in March and knew a win here would see them top the standings for a few hours at least by a point, with Everton knowing a win themselves could see them join two or three others in fifth on twenty points.
The hosts started the season so well, winning all seven of their opening games in all competitions, but since then they have just one win in seven with four of those losses and would equal a club record three successive home defeats if they lost this one, so they knew they had to try and get their season up and running once again.
It would be a hard task against Lampard’s Chelsea though, who were coming into this one unbeaten in nine Premier League games, the divisions longest current run, and seventeen in all competitions (they had not lost since a 2-0 defeat to Liverpool in September, a run of three months), and they had not lost away from home in all competitions all season.
And in Oliver Giroud the visitors had one of the hottest strikers in the division currently having netted in nine of his eleven Premier League starts, and if he netted in this one would become only the second Chelsea player in the Premier League era to score in seven successive starts (Mark Stein did so 27 years ago).
Everton had the first opening when Richarlison scuffed an effort at goal after exchanging passes with Gylfi Sigurdsson, but midway through the first period the hosts had the chance to take the lead when they were awarded a penalty after keeper Edouard Mendy clattered into Dominic Calvert-Lewin, and Sigurdsson sent the keeper the wrong way and the hosts had their lead.
Jordan Pickford then produced a great save a few minutes later to deny Reece James a leveller for the visitors, tipping his deflected effort onto the post, and the hosts were glad to hear the half time whistle as Chelsea were knocking on the door towards the end of the first period.
Chelsea so nearly levelled two minutes after the restart as after Pickford had come way off his line to punch clear, Mason Mount managed to get onto the ball but loft the ball onto the top of the bar with Pickford stranded, but just past the hour mark Everton were awarded a second penalty of the game after Calvert-Lewin was sent tumbling inside the box by Ben Chilwell.
VAR though decided to intervene and deemed Calvert-Lewin offside before he broke into the box, so the decision was overturned, and no penalty was therefore forthcoming, meaning Chelsea remained in this contest.
And they so nearly levelled with ten minutes remaining but Mount yet again saw the woodwork deny him, hitting the outside of the post with a free-kick, and it meant Everton netted a big win against the high-flying Blues.
What has that done to the table? Let’s have a look…
Villa’s late win at Wolves sees them up to tenth and two places above their opponents who drop to 12th, whilst Newcastle’s win against West Brom sees them up to 11th whilst The Baggies stay second bottom with just one win all season. United and City drop to eighth and ninth respectively after their goalless Manchester derby, and Everton’s win over Chelsea sees them up to seventh whilst their opponents fail to go top and remain third.
Week 12 ends tomorrow with five more games, these are below…
Southampton v Sheffield United (12pm)
Crystal Palace v Tottenham Hotspur (2.15pm)
Fulham v Liverpool (4.30pm)
Arsenal v Burnley (7.15pm)
Leicester City v Brighton & Hove Albion (7.15pm)
The Saints could go third with a win over bottom side Sheffield United who are still searching for their first win, Spurs will end the weekend top once again with victory over London rivals Palace, although a Palace win would see them into the top ten, and any slip up from Spurs and a Liverpool win at Fulham would see the champions on top.
Fulham could end the weekend four clear of the relegation spots if they stun the champions, whilst Arsenal really needs to defeat Burnley to get themselves well away from the drop zone, a win for the visitors at the Emirates could see them out of the bottom three and only four points behind the Gunners in the standings.
And victory for The Foxes against Brighton could see them end the weekend level on points with the leaders if they slip up, whilst a win for the Seagulls could take them seven clear of the drop zone. Lots to play for as always, so should be a good Sunday of Premier League action…