Premier League

Premier League Round-Up: Matchday 30

  1. MANCHESTER CITY (81 pts, GD + 65)
    LAST GAMES: 2-0 W at Stoke
    NEXT GAME: at Everton (3/31)

Another game and another three points for Manchester City. David Silva’s second brace this season was all City needed to leave Stoke-on-Trent with all three points. Before this season, Silva has only managed 3 braces in his last seven season combined. Silva is probably the most underrated player in this City squad. With the seasons that KDB, Sterling, Sane, Agüero, Jesus, Ederson and Walker have been this season, it’s often forgotten about how important David Silva is to this team. Silva is one of the initial players brought into the club after the takeover in 2008. Since joining the club in 2010, Silva has been the architect and the life-blood of this squad—year in and year out.

The magic number for City to win the title is six points, meaning that wins against Everton and Manchester United in their next two PL games will win them the title. The only better feeling for City fans than winning the title will be winning the title at home against their archrivals.

  1. MANCHESTER UNITED (65 pts, GD +35)
    LAST GAME: 2-1 W vs Liverpool
    NEXT GAME: vs. Swansea (3/31)

The Red Devils started the game in typical Mourinho fashion by absorbing pressure and not breaking defensively. United’s first goal started with a goal kick, then a beautiful flick on by Lukaku that landed at the feet of Marcus Rashford. Simple route one stuff and in his first start since Boxing Day, Rashford smashed it home. With United scoring first, United have scored first 353 times in PL home games and have only lost three times. The last time United lost at home after scoring first was against Liverpool in 2008/2009. Seven of Rashford’s 16 career PL goals have come against the current top six.

United’s second goal started the exact same way as their first one. A long ball from De Gea, a header won by Lukaku and a powerful finish from Rashford. Rashford terrorized Trent Alexander-Arnold down the left flank. Liverpool fought harder in the second half, but Scott McTominay and Nemanja Matic were excellent on Saturday. McTominay and Matic shut down the lethal Liverpool front three. United deserved all three points and tightened their grip on second place and has virtually guaranteed a spot in the top four.

  1. TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR (61 PTS, GD +34)
    LAST GAME: 4-1 W at Bournemouth
    NEXT GAME: at Chelsea (4/1)

Spurs dominated on the south coast and the win takes Tottenham above Liverpool into third place. Despite falling behind early, Tottenham battled back and dominated for the last 60-70 minutes of the match. It was the first time this season that Tottenham won a game in which they have conceded the first goal. Two goals from Heung-Min Son, one from Dele Alli and Serge Aurier locked up the win. Son has been red hot lately and he added two more goals on Sunday and he has scored seven goals in his last four games.

What is worrying for Tottenham fans is that Kane, Alli and Danny Rose all left the game with injuries. Pochettino said after the game that Alli and Rose received small knocks and won’t miss any time. However, he did say that Kane twisted his ankle and received a scan on Monday. If Kane misses an extended amount of time, it could cause trouble for Tottenham’s top four hopes.

A fun fact for all you Tottenham fans: Dele Alli has not lost a PL game in which he has scored in. In the 30 PL games in which he’s scored, he has won 24 of them. (P 30: W 24, D 6, L 0).

Despite Kane’s twisted ankle, Tottenham is in good shape to seal a top-four spot. However, Spurs still have two massive games left before the end of the season. On Easter, Spurs have a London Derby against Chelsea, then Tottenham welcome City to Wembley on April 14th. Poch and his men will have to stay focused to solidify their spot in the top four.

  1. LIVERPOOL (60 PTS, GD +34)
    LAST GAME: 2-1 L at United
    NEXT GAME: vs. Watford (3/17)

Liverpool struggled to build any momentum offensively on Saturday and was out-muscled by Lukaku and the entire United offense. Liverpool fans may have some quarrels with the officiating, but Liverpool never built enough momentum. At times, Liverpool couldn’t even complete five-yard passes. McTominay and Matic held the line in front of the United back four and stifled Firmino, Salah and Sane. The own goal gave Liverpool some energy, but they were unable to find an equalizer.

The loss puts a small dent into Liverpool’s top four hopes and lets Tottenham leapfrog them in the table, but the Reds should stay in the top four barring any upsets. Then in the penultimate game of the season, Liverpool travel to Stamford Bridge in a game that could have huge top four implications.

  1. CHELSEA (56 PTS, GD +25)
    LAST GAME: 2-1 vs. Palace
    NEXT GAME: vs. Spurs (4/1)

Chelsea got back on track with a 2-1 win over Palace last weekend. Chelsea’s powerful and dominant first half was all they needed to take home all three points. While Chelsea has struggled in the last few weeks, Willian’s hot streak continued. He dominated the first half and got his fifth goal in his last five games. Palace was the better team in the second half, but they just couldn’t capitalize on their chances.

Chelsea still sits outside the top four but have games against Tottenham and Liverpool to close the gap.

  1. ARSENAL (48 PTS, GD +14)
    LAST GAME: 3-0 W vs. Watford
    NEXT GAME: vs. Stoke (4/1)

Arsenal, and more importantly Arsene Wenger, get a much-needed win and their first league win in their last four games. The Gunners got off to a good start when Shkodran Mustafi headed home Mesut Ozil’s free kick. Aubameyang scored the second and that should help build his confidence after a slow start to his Arsenal career. Henrikh Mkhitaryan sealed up all three points when he scored in the 77th minute. Mustafi’s header was the 1,000th goal Arsenal has scored at home in the PL. The only other team to score more than 1,000 goals at home in the PL is United (1066).

Ozil’s assist was his 50th career PL assist and he became the fastest player in PL history to hit 50 assists. It took Ozil 141 games to reach 50 assists, beating Manchester United legend Eric Cantona’s record by two games. It was also a historic day personally for Petr Cech. The clean sheet was Cech’s 200th career PL clean sheet and his save of Deeney’s penalty was his first penalty save in his Arsenal career. Arsenal remains 12 points outside of the top four and can only hope to win the Europa League or hope for a Europa League spot for next season.

  1. BURNLEY (43 PTS, GD +1)
    LAST GAME: 3-0 W at West Ham
    NEXT GAME: at WBA (3/31)

Rarely do Burnley score more than once, but they dominated in the second half at the London Stadium. All of the headlines were about West Ham, the pitch invasions and all of the other protests, but Burnley’s performance deserves to be recognized. The win takes Burnley to the 43-point mark—their most ever during a single PL campaign. Substitute Chris Wood’s brace sealed Burnley’s second straight league win.

  1. LEICESTER CITY (40 PTS, GD +2)
    LAST GAME: 4-1 W at WBA
    NEXT GAME: at Brighton (3/31)

Another game in which Leicester got off to a slow start, but they bounced back to take care of business. WBA jumped on top of Leicester early and they got their reward for their start when Rondon scored in the eighth minute. The goal was the kick in the butt Leicester needed and after Rondon scored, it was all Leicester for the rest of the game. Jaime Vardy scored a beautiful goal and he has scored on every visit to the Hawthorns in the PL.

Good news for Leicester is that Kelechi Iheanacho scored his first goal in the league for Leicester. The former Man City player is only 21-years-old, but he is a young and promising talent. If he can start scoring more regularly, he and Vardy together will strike fear in any defense. With Burnley’s win, Leicester remains in eighth.

  1. EVERTON (37 PTS, GD -14)
    LAST GAME: 2-0 W vs. Brighton
    NEXT GAME: at Stoke (3/17)

Everton needed something to go their way and that happened on Saturday when Brighton visited Goodison Park. Despite having the better chances in the first half, Everton couldn’t find the back of the net. Everton deserved a goal when Gaëton Bong deflected Yannick Bolaise’s cross into his own net. Cenk Tosun is finally starting to fit in on Merseyside as he got his second goal as in as many PL games when he sealed all three points in the 76th minute. It could have been three goals, but Wayne Rooney’s penalty was saved.

Brighton was the 41st team Sam Allardyce has managed against in his PL career. With this win, Derby is the only team Big Sam has not beaten out of the 41 different teams he has faced. It was a good win against a Brighton side that had not lost in their last five league games. The win takes Everton into the top half of the table and ten points ahead of the relegation zone.

  1. WATFORD (36 PTS, GD -11)
    LAST GAME: 3-0 L at Arsenal
    NEXT GAME: at Liverpool (3/17)

Watford fell behind early to Mustafi’s fantastic header, and despite having a few decent chances in the first half, the Hornets didn’t really threaten Cech in goal until Deeney’s penalty. It was a powerful drive from the Watford captain, but it was basically right down the middle and at a good height for Cech to save. Watford would have been back in the game if Deeney converted, but when Mkhi scored, it was all but over for Watford.

The loss drops Watford to 10th and nine-point ahead of the relegation zone, but the Hornets shouldn’t worry about a relegation fight.

  1. BRIGHTON AND HOVE ALBION (34 PTS, GD -12)
    LAST GAME: 2-0 L at Everton
    NEXT GAME: vs. Leicester (3/31)

Brighton never got going offensively despite having more shots on target. Everton had the lion-share of possession and that’s all the Toffees had to do to disrupt Pascal Gross and Glenn Murray. Despite the loss, everything is all right in the Brighton camp. They drop a spot to 11th but have some breathing room between them and the relegation zone.

  1. AFC BOURNEMOUTH (33 PTS, GD -13)
    LAST GAME: 4-1 L vs. Spurs
    NEXT GAME: vs. WBA (3/17)

Bournemouth got off to a blistering start and it ended with Junior Stanislas scoring in the seventh minute. The Cherries came out and took the game to Tottenham, but once Spurs woke up, it was all Tottenham. Eddie Howe and his men couldn’t deal with the skills of Dele, Son and Eriksen. Despite the loss, Bournemouth still sits in 12th and six points above the relegation zone.

  1. NEWCASTLE (32 PTS, GD -10)
    LAST GAME: 3-0 W vs. Southampton
    NEXT GAME: vs. Huddersfield (3/31)

Newcastle dominated on Saturday. In a massive relegation six-pointer, the Magpies put in one of their best performances of the season. Newcastle scored as many goals on Saturday as they had in their last six previous home games combined. Jonjo Shelvey put on a masterclass in the midfield for Newcastle. His passing broke the Southampton defense and his two assists made him the man of the match. The Chelsea loanee Kenedy scored twice and it was his second goal that put the nail in the coffin for Southampton. The win lifts Newcastle all the way into 13th and five points above the relegation zone.

  1. SWANSEA CITY (31PTS, GD -17)
    LAST GAME: 0-0 D at Huddersfield
    NEXT GAME: at United (3/31)

Swansea’s performance on Saturday is the exact definition of bending without breaking. Jordan Ayew received a straight red card in the 11th minute and for the rest of the game, Swansea barely had the ball in Huddersfield half of the field. Ayew deserved the red card and there was little arguing Swansea players could do Swansea only had 18.8 percent of the possession for the entire game and recorded ZERO shots. The last PL team to not attempt a single shot was Blackburn in 2012. But despite playing with 10 men for 80+ minutes, Swansea held on for a point. That was one hell of a display from Swansea. That will be one of the most resilient performances you’ll ever see, even if they never even tried to attack.

  1. HUDDERSFIELD TOWN (31 PTS, GD -25)
    LAST GAME: 0-0 D vs. Swansea
    NEXT GAME: vs. Palace (3/17)

Huddersfield put themselves in the PL record books on Saturday but it won’t be a record they’ll be happy to have. The Terriers took 30 (!!) shots against Swansea and it was the most shots by a PL team without a goal since United took 38 against Burnley in 2016. Huddersfield had 81.2 percent of the possession but they could not break down the resilient Swansea defense. The Terriers’ 81.2 percent is the second-most amount of possession in a PL game by a team since THAT Manchester City game versus QPR in May 2012.

Swansea parked the bus as soon as Ayew was sent off. Huddersfield really could have used all three points, but they did get one and they are four points ahead of the relegation zone thanks to Palace’s loss at Chelsea.

  1. WEST HAM UNITED (30 PTS, GD -21)
    LAST GAME: 3-0 L vs. Burnley
    NEXT GAME: vs. Southampton (3/31)

West Ham is ripping apart at the seams. The scenes from the London Stadium during the second half of the West Ham/Burnley game is as bad as it gets. Multiple field invasions and 100+ fans screaming, yelling and throwing bottles at the director in the director’s box. Here are some clips from NBC Sports and the Guardian if you did not get a chance to see the protests. In the video from the Guardian, you can vividly see Mark Noble tackle a fan, see another fan run up from behind on Pablo Zabaleta and then fans yelling “you destroyed our f***ing club,” to the directors. West Ham’s SB Nation website posted some vivid pictures of the events in the second half.  What makes the protest even worse is that they happened on the day when the club honored arguably one their best ever players, Sir Bobby Moore.  On a day that was meant to celebrate a club legend will now live in infamy in the club’s history.

Mr. West Ham himself Mark Noble, who has made over 400 appearances for the club and is the club captain, brought down a field-invader and kept pushing him down until security got to the invader. Needless to say, the security at the London Stadium had a worse day than the West Ham defense.

“When we are representing the club, and it’s well-known that West Ham fans aren’t happy at the minute—they haven’t been happy in a long time,” Noble said after the game. “The only way we can squash that is to win football games. As soon as we conceded the atmosphere turned and I think the fans showed what they think and let their emotions take over.” It may seem like an obvious and cliché answer, but that is the kind of reaction you expect from your club leader. He’s not dumb, he knows the fans aren’t happy and that the team isn’t playing well, but he still represented the club and kept it classy.

“First and foremost, I’m a human being,” Noble said when a reporter asked him about tackling the field invader. “I’m a footballer and I know I’m out on the pitch and that we are under cameras and scrutiny all the time, but if someone is approaching me, I’m going to defend myself.” Running on to a playing field at any time is completely idiotic, regardless if it’s in protest or as a joke. Noble is right, these athletes are human beings and that is often forgotten. They have no way of knowing if you are going to cause any harm to them, so it is completely understandable that they would want to defend themselves. A fan protest was likely to happen sooner or later but running onto the pitch and throwing bottles towards the director was not the answer. Though it may have been the wrong way to protest, it paints a vivid picture of just how angry and upset these fans are with their club and how it is being run.

West Ham should be up in the top seven and be competing for Europe and that’s where the fans anger lies. Instead of contesting for Europe, West Ham is praying that they stay in the league.

  1. SOUTHAMPTON (28 PTS, GD -15)
    LAST GAME: 3-0 L at Newcastle
    NEXT GAME: at West Ham (3/31)

The Saints were embarrassed on Tyneside over the weekend. In a massive relegation six-pointer, Southampton was thoroughly beaten. The plan Mauricio Pellegrino came to St. James’ Park went right out the window when Kenedy scored in the second minute of the game. From the kick-off, Southampton was outplayed. Even with the loss, Southampton is still one point above the relegation zone, but if they continue to play like they did on Saturday, they will be relegated.

To make matters worse for the Saints, they sacked Mauricio Pellegrino after spending less than a year at the club.

  1. CRYSTAL PALACE (27 PTS, GD -20)
    LAST GAME: 2-1 L at Chelsea
    NEXT GAME: at Huddersfield (3/17)

Palace was the better team in the second half and deserved a goal, but it came too late. Palace played on the front foot, but for once again this season, they could not capitalize on their chances. Palace is in the relegation zone but has a few games against relegation rivals coming up that will be crucial.

  1. STOKE CITY (27 PTS, GD -28)
    LAST GAME: 2-0 L vs. City
    NEXT GAME: vs. Everton (3/17)

It was always going to be tough for Stoke to beat City, even at home. Stoke’s best chance of the game came off a bad clearance from Kyle Walker that almost went into the City goal. Stoke are two points from safety with eight games remaining.

  1. WEST BROMWICH ALBION (20 PTS, GD -21)
    LAST GAME: 4-1 L vs. Leicester
    NEXT GAME: at Bournemouth (3/17)

Another game where WBA started well, then it all collapsed. Once Leicester scored their first goal, WBA came crashing back down to earth. WBA fans should enjoy PL football for as long as they can because it will be ending soon.

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