Another Saturday in the Premier League and six more games to look back on, beginning with the lunchtime showing at Goodison as Everton welcomed troubled Newcastle to the North West knowing victory would take them into fifth spot for now whilst Steve Bruce and The Toon just needed any sort of win to try and turn their slump around and put some more daylight between them and the bottom three…
Saturday, January 30 – Lunchtime KO
Everton 0 Newcastle United 2
Callum Wilson netted a second-half brace in a MOTM performance as he helped Newcastle to a huge three points at Goodison Park against an off-colour Everton. The visitors were on a horrendous run as everyone knows, but they showed some positive signs in the second half of their last game at home to Leeds, and they continued this positiveness into this contest and had the best moment of the opening half when Wilson, who was leading the line so well, saw his header brilliantly tipped onto the bar by Jordan Pickford, and it was a frustrating half for the Toffees who were predicted to win this game comfortably by many before kick-off.
Wilson missed a golden chance after the break, whilst Everton saw Dom Calvert-Lewin forced a decent stop from Karl Darlow, but with eighteen minutes remaining the superb Wilson did find the net on his third attempt by sending a wonderful header from a Jonjo Shelvey corner beyond Pickford into the far corner, it was a well-deserved goal for the Toon striker who had done everything but scores prior to that.
Could Newcastle hold on and pick up a huge win? Well, Wilson should have sealed the points late on but after rounding Pickford after a perfectly timed run, he could only fire an effort from the angle against the post, but two minutes into stoppage time and with Everton pushing up for the leveller, Newcastle broke through Allan Saint-Maximin who played Jamal Lewis in down the left, and he, in turn, played a ball over to Wilson who took a touch a fired past Pickford with ease, and Steve Bruce and his men had a much-needed win. It had been a superb performance from the visitors and Wilson was head and shoulders above the rest, as for Everton, a very disappointing performance indeed.
Onto the afternoon matches now, three of them, which saw a bottom half clash at Selhurst Park, leaders Man City looking to put four points between themselves and Man United before their game later on in the day, and a huge game down at the bottom between two sides who occupy two of the three relegation spots at The Hawthorns with victory for the hosts taking them above Fulham and just four points off safety…
Saturday, January 30 – Afternoon KO’s
Crystal Palace 1 Wolverhampton Wanderers 0
Manchester City 1 Sheffield United 0
West Bromwich Albion 2 Fulham 2
A moment of quality from Eberechi Eze settled a tight affair at Selhurst Park, there wasn’t much to shout about in a goalless first half, the best chance in the half fell to the hosts and it was a big chance which saw Michy Batshuayi lashed over from a few yards out, but both keepers had been relatively quiet in the opening forty-five minutes, but around the hour mark came the winning moment as Eze thumped an effort into the back of the net with real power from the edge of the box, and Palace had picked up a big win.
It’s now no won in eight league games for Wolves now, they saw Vicente Guaita deny them on a couple of occasions, but they were missing something again and their poor run continues. City went four points clear at the top after an early Gabriel Jesus goal proved enough for them to see off bottom side Sheffield United at The Etihad. It didn’t take City too long to break through the Blades back line as after nine minutes good work from Ferran Torres ended with him pulling a ball back across for Gabriel Jesus who was left unmarked six yards out to take a touch and blast home, City had been excellent once again and was completely dominant although they hadn’t really created too much with the ball. And with a one-goal lead, they were not totally safe, and they nearly paid for not turning their dominance into chances and goals when Jayden Bogle volleyed over for The Blades, and then John Fleck struck a long-range effort just wide, however, City dominated possession apart from that and managed to see out the game although the Blades would take a lot from their few days in Manchester for sure. A bit toothless from City for once, but they picked up another win which is all that matters.
And in the six-pointer at the bottom of the division, West Brom and Fulham played out an entertaining draw at The Hawthorns. In the tenth minute, Fulham got their noses in front as Aleksandar Mitrovic controlled a lovely pass from Ademola Lookman before laying in Bobby Decordova-Reid who fired a lovely finish past Sam Johnston, and it could easily have been two inside twenty minutes after Decordova-Reid had got through and struck an effort against the base of the post. Fulham had more openings in a first half they utterly dominated, and their only concern at the break was that they didn’t lead by more, West Brom had been awful and Big Sam had another big team talk to deliver at the break.
The hosts brought on the on-loan Galatasaray forward Mbaye Diagne to try and give some impetus to their attacking line, but it was a defender who brought the hosts level two minutes into the second period after Kyle Bartley guided home a decent finish from close range after a cross had deflected into his path, and The Baggies had netted their first goal at home under Big Sam’s reign. And twenty minutes into the second half West Brom had turned it around and new boy Diagne had an assist, crossing for Matheus Pereira stole in at the near post to prod a deflected effort into the far corner, and after totally dominating the opening half The Cottagers were now behind, they were paying for those missed chances in that opening half that was for sure. Could The Baggies hold on and pick up a big three points?
Well, no. Scott Parker made a double change and brought on Ivan Cavaleiro and Harrison Reed, and they combined in the 77th minute to bring Fulham level as a wonderful ball in from Reed saw Cavaleiro stoop to head home from close range, and we were now set up for a grandstand finish. Mitrovic saw a header well stopped by Johnstone, whilst Kaylan Grant had an opening near the end but failed to bring it down and saw it pass him by, meaning the game ended all square and a point apiece for both sides. A very entertaining relegation battle that, but both sides would feel they let victory slip through their hands today.
The final two games on Saturday saw two potential crackers, the early evening one saw two old rivals do battle at The Emirates, whilst the late game at St Marys saw The Saints and Villa do battle as both looked to try and get closer to the top five…
Saturday, January 30 – Evening KO’s
Arsenal 0 Manchester United 0
Southampton 0 Aston Villa 1
The much-anticipated clash between Arsenal and Man United never really lived up to its billing as the sides played out a goalless draw at The Emirates. The Gunners were attempting to net a league double over their opponents for the first time since 2007, and they knew a win could take them above Everton into seventh and level on points with North London rivals Spurs, whilst United were four points behind City at the top and needed a win to bring the gap down to one again, and also respond to that shock home defeat to The Blades in midweek. The visitors had the best of the chances in the opening half, the best one seeing Fred’s effort brilliantly tipped wide by Bernd Leno, whilst Arsenal’s best moment came when Nicolas Pepe curled wide of the far post, but the game was goalless at the break although you felt United would have been the happier thus far. Could someone create a moment of quality in the second period to give their side the advantage though?
The Gunners certainly came out at the start of the half much better and for the opening twenty of the half dominated and saw their best chance a Lacazette free-kick strike the bar, United did see Edinson Cavani miss two great chances through in the half but both sides had to settle for a point after stalemate at The Emirates. It does mean Arsenal have taken four points off Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side and two clean sheets to boot, but they like United could not take advantage of their opportunities when they came along, whilst United have only taken one point from six this week and are now three points behind City at the top.
Ross Barkley’s header five minutes before the break saw Villa to a well-earned win at St Marys. Both these sides were coming into this off the back of disappointing defeats in midweek, but both knew if they could bounce back from those defeats with a victory, they would climb into the eighth spot and be just five points off the top four, and eight minutes in it looked like Southampton were going to be awarded a penalty after brilliant work from Danny Ings saw him square for Stuart Armstrong and his shot was blocked by the outstretched arm of Matty Cash, but for some reason, VAR decided it was not a penalty as the ball came off Cash’s thigh before hitting his hand, although in my view it was still handball and Villa had got away with one.
But Mike Dean in the VAR truck knows best eh. Sadly, this moment was the only real taking point in a half that was largely dominated by the Saints, but five minutes before half time Villa grabbed the lead as they saw Jack Grealish whip in a lovely ball for Barkley to run onto and send a header into the bottom corner. It was a sucker punch for the hosts who had been applying most of the pressure in the opening forty minutes, but they now had to try and find a response.
Saying that Villa keeper Emiliano Martinez didn’t have a save to make in the first period, so this was something the hosts would have been disappointed with despite having most of the ball, whilst Alex McCarthy had to make two decent stops either side of Barkley’s goal as Villa finally caused problems for the hosts. Martinez may not have made a save in the first period, but he certainly made some important ones as Villa clung onto their lead, making a brilliant one deny Che Adams, then saving a Jan Bednarek header before Adams and Jack Stephens saw goalbound efforts blocked, and then deep into added on time
The Saints thought they had grabbed a late point when after Adams saw his effort saved, Ings followed in to bundle home, but VAR deemed him offside by the tiniest of margins, and the goal did not stand. It was so tight and that was two huge VAR decisions that had gone against the hosts in the game, so they would have felt hard done by in losing this one. For Villa it was a well hard-earned three points, they needed a lot of luck but the goal they did score was quality and it was enough for them to take the win here.
This is how the table looked after Saturday’s action…
Newcastle’s first win of the year sees them put an eight-point gap between themselves and the bottom three, whilst City’s win at home to The Blades saw them three clear at the top after Man United failed to beat Arsenal at the Emirates. West Brom and Fulham do go a point closer to safety after they drew at The Hawthorns but the biggest winners were Brighton as a draw was the best result for them. A Villa win at Southampton sees them leap above Arsenal and Chelsea into eighth spot as their decent season continues.
Four more games tomorrow to finish the weekend’s action, which is below…
Sunday, January 31
Chelsea v Burnley (12pm)
Leicester City v Leeds United (2pm)
West Ham United v Liverpool (4.30pm)
Brighton & Hove Albion v Tottenham Hotspur (7.15pm)
A win for Chelsea would take them into the top six, although it will be tough against an in-form Burnley side who are looking for a third straight win in the division, whilst Leicester can go second with victory over Leeds. A big game at The London Stadium sees fifth-placed West Ham, who have four straight wins in the league, take on fourth-placed Liverpool who are looking to get back into the stride again after a dominant win at Spurs, and finally, Brighton is looking for points to take them further away from the drop zone against a Spurs side who are without Harry Kane but are trying to bounce back from their disappointing loss to Liverpool in midweek. Should be fun!!!