Premier League

Premier League Round-Up: Matchday 32

  1. MANCHESTER CITY (84 pts, GD + 67)
    LAST GAMES: 3-1 W at Everton
    NEXT GAME: vs. United

A very important 10-day span for Pep Guardiola and his men started at Goodison Park on Saturday. City needed all three points to move within three points of the trophy. City was dominant in the first half and cruised to an easy 3-1 win over Everton. City controlled every aspect of the game and it sets them up nicely for the next week and a half. One stat that Pep will love is that there are only three players in the PL this season that have double-digit assists, and they all play for City. KDB leads the league with 15, then it is David Silva and Leroy Sane tied with 11. With a win over Manchester United next weekend in the Manchester Derby, City will win the league.

Over the next week, City travel to Anfield for the first leg of the Champions League Quarterfinals, host United at the Etihad with the chance to win the league and then host Liverpool for the second leg. This is the reason Pep was brought into the club, to not only put the team into these types of situations but to win them as well. He will have his work cut out for him this week.

  1. MANCHESTER UNITED (68 pts, GD +37)
    LAST GAME: 2-0 W vs Swansea
    NEXT GAME: at City

A dominant first half from Mourinho and United and goals from Lukaku and Sanchez locked up all three points for United. Lukaku scored his 100th PL goal in the fifth minute off a pass from Sanchez. Then Sanchez got his goal 15 minutes later and the 2-0 lead was enough for the win.

This was arguably Sanchez’s best performance since moving to Old Trafford. Sanchez dictated the United attacked and played with the enthusiasm and energy that he played with on his best days at Arsenal. With a busy and important end to the season for United coming up, Sanchez will need to replicate this type of performance over and over again.

Next weekend’s derby game against City will arguably be United’s biggest game in the last few years. Mourinho will receive immense criticism if United lose which would lead to City winning the title. City will win the league regardless—United fans have accepted it by now—but for the sake of United fans, they do not want it to happen because United lost to City in the derby.

  1. LIVERPOOL (66 PTS, GD +40)
    LAST GAME: 2-1 W vs Palace
    NEXT GAME: at Everton

Liverpool didn’t play well, but thanks to their hero Mo Salah, they left Selhurst Park with all three points. All that matters for Liverpool at this point of the season is that they take maximum points from all of their game. The Reds have an extra game played over Tottenham behind them, so they cannot afford any slip-ups the rest of the season. That won’t be easy with challenging Champions League ties against City.

Salah has been sensational this season. He simply cannot be stopped. Regardless of what defenses have tried, he always finds a way to score. Salah has said that he wants to stay at Liverpool, but with the way he has been playing this season, the offers will come for him this summer, and some of those deals may be too tantalizing to pass up.

  1. TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR (64 PTS, GD +36)
    LAST GAME: 3-1 W at Chelsea
    NEXT GAME: at Stoke

Tottenham finally got their first win at Chelsea in the PL era. It was the first time since 1990 that Tottenham beat Chelsea at Stamford Bridge in a league game. Tottenham didn’t play well in the first-half, but they controlled the game the entire second half. Dele’s first goal was sensational. It was a beautiful pass from Eric Dier, but the control and deft touch to lift it past Willy Caballero was magnificent.

Tottenham finally breaks their Stamford Bridge curse, and it couldn’t have come at a better time. Tottenham sits two points behind Liverpool in third with a game in hand. Aside from a game against City at Wembley, Tottenham should be able to win their remaining games and finish above Liverpool in the table.

  1. CHELSEA (56 PTS, GD +23)
    LAST GAME: 3-1 L vs. Spurs
    NEXT GAME: vs. West Ham

February 10, 1990, was the last time Tottenham won a league game at Chelsea. A 28-year-old streak ended over the weekend and so did Chelsea’s hopes for the top four. The Blues were completely outplayed in the second half and they couldn’t handle Dele Alli and the rest of Tottenham’s attacks. It was an embarrassing loss for Chelsea and it may be the game that we look back on as the game that sealed the fate of Antonio Conte.

Rumor after rumor and story after story is coming out about how unhappy Conte is at Chelsea. Now, I’m typically skeptical when it comes to soccer stories, but if these stories continue to surface, there has to be some truth to it. It’s almost hard to believe that Chelsea and Conte’s relationship has deteriorated to this low point when, at this time last year, Chelsea was dominating the PL.

  1. ARSENAL (51 PTS, GD +17)
    LAST GAME: 3-0 W vs. Stoke
    NEXT GAME: vs. Southampton

Arsenal lacked inspiration and quality for the first 70 minutes of their game against Stoke, but the Gunners turned it on in the last 15 minutes. Two goals from Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and one for Lacazette buried the Potters. Auba said after the game that he let Lacazette take the second penalty to boost his confidence. Since Aubameyang’s arrival, it has been obvious that Lacazette has struggled for confidence and this goal will certainly help.

Arsenal is still fighting for a Europa League spot, but with Chelsea, United and Tottenham all still alive in the FA Cup, the Gunners will need one of those clubs to win the Cup to help them. If Chelsea wins the FA Cup and finishes fifth, they will automatically qualify for the Europa League and Arsenal will take the PL’s extra spot. If United or Tottenham win the FA Cup and finish in the top four, Arsenal will take the PL’s extra spot in the Europa League.

  1. BURNLEY (46 PTS, GD +2)
    LAST GAME: 2-1 W at WBA
    NEXT GAME: at Watford

The Clarets picked up a good win against the worst team in the league. After stuttering in the league for the last three months, Burnley has won their last three games. Burnley will want to keep their winning ways going through the end of the season as good momentum going into next season.

  1. LEICESTER CITY (43 PTS, GD +4)
    LAST GAME: 2-0 W at Brighton
    NEXT GAME: vs. Newcastle

Two late goals from Vicente Iborra and Jamie Vardy sealed all three points for Leicester on the south coast. Kasper Schmeichel saved Glenn Murray’s penalty in the 77th minute and then six minutes later, Iborra scored the first goal for the Foxes. Leicester is too far back for a shot at the Europa League, but if Arsenal and Burnley start to slide these last few weeks, then anything can happen.

  1. EVERTON (40 PTS, GD -15)
    LAST GAME: 3-1 L vs. City
    NEXT GAME: vs. Liverpool

Everton, like many teams this season, experienced Man City at their best. City’s ball movement, pressing and overall dominance in the first half was too much for Everton. Yannick Bolasie scored a wonderful goal and it’s been a shame for Everton that he hasn’t been healthy all year. When he’s fully fit and playing at his best, Bolasie is a world-beater and can terrorize any defense.

Everton have the derby this weekend and with Liverpool focused on their Champions League tie with City, this may be a chance for Everton to pull one over on their biggest rivals.

  1. AFC BOURNEMOUTH (37 PTS, GD -12)
    LAST GAME: 2-2 D at Watford
    NEXT GAME: vs. Palace

A resilient performance from Bournemouth, who came from behind twice to earn a point at Vicarage Road. Josh King scored a penalty just before halftime to make it 1-1 at the halfway point. Then Jermaine Defoe scored in the second minute of stoppage time to break Watford’s hearts and give Bournemouth a point.

The Hornets and Cherries are level on points in the middle of the table, with Bournemouth being ahead on goal differential. Bournemouth is safe and is becoming a PL regular, which for where this club was just eight years ago, is an incredible achievement.

  1. WATFORD (37 PTS, GD -16)
    LAST GAME: 2-2 D vs. Bournemouth
    NEXT GAME: vs. Burnley

The Hornets let a one-goal lead slip twice at home and had to settle for a point. The Hornets were the better team for most of the game, but Bournemouth’s resilience was too much for Watford to handle. The Hornets are safe and have some favorable games coming up to end the season.

12. NEWCASTLE (35 PTS, GD -9)
LAST GAME: 1-0 W vs. Huddersfield
NEXT GAME: at Leicester

The Magpies picked up a crucial win over the Terriers last weekend. Ayoze Perez’s goal in the 80th minute secured all three points and moved seven points clear of the relegation zone. This was a big win over a relegation rival. It may still be too early to tell if Newcastle is safe, but with a game in hand, they should be enjoying PL football next season.

  1. BRIGHTON AND HOVE ALBION (34 PTS, GD -14)
    LAST GAME: 2-0 L vs. Leicester
    NEXT GAME: vs. Huddersfield

Two late goals from Leicester gave the Foxes all three points in an evenly contested game. Brighton had a chance to go ahead in the 77th minute, but Glenn Murray’s penalty was saved. Six minutes later, Leicester scored their first and added a second at the end of stoppage time. Brighton is six points ahead of the relegation zone and should be safe with seven games remaining.

  1. WEST HAM UNITED (33 PTS, GD -18)
    LAST GAME: 3-0 W vs. Southampton
    NEXT GAME: at Chelsea

The last time West Ham hosted a game at the London Stadium, there was multiple field invasions and countless fan protests. What difference three weeks make. While everything isn’t back to normal, the fans are still unhappy and expect more out of their club and owners, this type of performance should give them some hope. West Ham was dominant in the first half and deserved all three points. The Hammers controlled the game and Southampton didn’t have a chance.

West Ham is five points clear of the relegation zone and is safe for now, but they cannot afford any slip-ups for the rest of the season. If they avoid any slip-ups, they will be in the PL next season.

  1. SWANSEA CITY (31 PTS, GD -19)
    LAST GAME: 2-0 L at United
    NEXT GAME: at WBA

The Swans were on the receiving end of United’s best overall performances in over a month. Tammy Abraham had two solid chances in the second half to pull one back for Swansea, but David De Gea was on top of his game, who kept his league-best 16th clean sheet. The Swans sit three points ahead of the relegation zone with a game in hand. They are not out of the woods yet, but it looks like Swansea will be staying in the PL for another season. Given where they were in the table a few months ago, Swansea fans will be happy to see another season in the top-flight.

  1. HUDDERSFIELD TOWN (31 PTS, GD -28)
    LAST GAME: 1-0 L at. Newcastle
    NEXT GAME: at Brighton

Huddersfield had a slow start to the game and held on and kept the game scoreless at halftime. The Terriers got into the game in the second half, with their best chance coming off a diving header in the 63rd minute. After the chance, Newcastle controlled the game and scored the game-winner with 10 minutes to go. Like Palace directly below them, the Terriers have played an extra game more than the other teams in the relegation battle. With some tough games against Brighton, Watford, Everton, and City coming up, that extra game could hurt Huddersfield. The Terrier will need to pull out some big wins or need the other teams around them to slip up. Huddersfield’s massive goal differential also hurts them. The Terriers’ aren’t safe yet and they still have plenty of work to do if they wish to stay in the league for one more season.

  1. CRYSTAL PALACE (30 PTS, GD -19)
    LAST GAME: 2-1 L vs. Liverpool
    NEXT GAME:  at Bournemouth

Palace played very well in the first half but was outplayed in the second half. Palace started the game well and deserved the goal that put them ahead in the 13th minute. Palace was fortunate enough to face a Liverpool team, not at their best, but in the end, Mo Salah simply can’t be stopped at the moment. The loss has Palace two points above the relegation zone, but with an extra game played over Southampton directly below them.

Palace has some winnable games coming up against Bournemouth, Brighton, Stoke, and WBA. Two or three wins in those games should be enough to keep Palace in the PL next season.

  1. SOUTHAMPTON (28 PTS, GD -18)
    LAST GAME: 3-0 L at West Ham
    NEXT GAME: at Arsenal

After an embarrassing loss in their last game, the Saints were thoroughly beaten again by another relegation rival. In Mark Hughes’ first game in charge, Southampton offered very little going forward. With the loss, the Saints are three points from safety and have a serious relegation battle on their hands. All the pressure is on Mark Hughes’ and the players to keep Southampton in the PL.

  1. STOKE CITY (27 PTS, GD -32)
    LAST GAME: 3-0 L at Arsenal
    NEXT GAME:
     vs. Spurs

Stoke was impressive for the first 70 minutes against Arsenal, but when they needed to turn up the intensity, the Potters sat back and allowed Arsenal to control possession. The Gunners scored three times in the last 15 minutes and killed the game off. Stoke now sit four points from safety and have some crucial games coming up against West Ham, Palace, and Swansea. Stoke is not relegated yet, but they need to stop being hesitant and begin playing like they want to stay in the PL.

  1. WEST BROMWICH ALBION (20 PTS, GD -26)
    LAST GAME: 2-1 L vs. Burnley
    NEXT GAME: vs. Swansea

With WBA’s relegation all but official, Albion and manager Alan Pardew “mutually” parted company on Monday. It is more likely that Pardew was fired after he could only muster one win since taking over in November. First-team coach Darren Moore, who played 116 games for WBA during his playing days, will take over as manager and is a fan-favorite at the Hawthorns. With Pardew’s departure, WBA can take their time in hiring a replacement and deciding the next steps to help the club earn promotion back to the PL.


@ClayBenjamin_ for @CincySoccerTalk

 

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