Weekend Recap – Premier League – 02/04/22 to 04/04/22
Liverpool 2 – 0 Watford
Saturday’s 12.30 kick-off saw title-chasing Liverpool face off against relegation-threatened Watford in a must-win game for both sides. Whilst the Hornets desperately needed a win to salvage any semblance of a great escape, an increasingly unlikely looking outcome. The Reds couldn’t risk slipping up in the penultimate match before what could very well be 2022’s title decider at the Etihad next week.
The game ended up being a fairly straightforward victory for Klopp’s men, thanks to an opening goal from Diogo Jota and an 89th-minute penalty from Fabinho. Hodgson’s outfit didn’t go down meekly and without any fight, creating the first significant chance of the game when Alisson had to deny Kucka’s attempt on goal, which ultimately led to Jota’s opener just 34 seconds later.
The result put Liverpool top of the table for just a few hours until Manchester City matched their result against Burnley later in the day, leaving the top two sides only a point apart going into their game on Sunday. On the other hand, Watford finds themselves yet again, staring relegation and the Championship square in the face yet again.
Burnley 0 – 2 Manchester City
In a mirror image of the 12.30 kick-off, we again had a confrontation between a team battling for the league and one desperate to stay within it. Guardiola’s men had to follow the marker that Liverpool had laid before them if they wanted to maintain their points advantage going into next weekend, and that is precisely what they did.
Raheem Sterling found himself amid all the action on the day, laying on an assist for De Bruyne in the 5th minute and another for Ilkay Gundogan just 20 minutes later. The citizens tried to eat into Liverpool’s superior goal difference after that but to no avail. Burnley themselves struggled to put up any meaningful fight, managing a single shot on target and a measly 23.3% possession over the 90. The Lancashire club now find themselves stuck in 19th place, four points of 17th Everton and having played a game more. It is not looking ideal for Dyche.
Leeds 1 – 1 Southampton
Another relegation-threatened side took to the pitch on Saturday, with Leeds taking on mid-table Southampton. Despite the Saints not being guaranteed safety yet, it is a pretty safe assumption that they won’t be getting dragged back into the relegation dogfight this year. On the other hand, Leeds started the day on 29 points, just outside of the drop zone but having played three games more than Everton. Jesse Marsch’s side realistically needed all three points to start widening the gap to Burnley, but they could only claim a single point instead.
The match was an evenly contested affair, with Jack Harrison poking Leeds ahead first in the 29th minute, following a mistake from Saints keeper Fraser Forster. It took until the second half and the 49th minute for Saints skipper James Ward-Prowse to equalise for the away side with an excellent free-kick. That equaliser puts the English midfielder on 13 Premier League goals from direct free-kicks, ahead of the likes of Henry and Zola.
Sharing the points seems like the fairest result in a game where neither side truly dominated the other. However, whilst a point suits midtable Southampton just fine, the same can not be said for Leeds, who will surely be looking over their shoulders at Everton and Burnley.
Wolverhampton Wanderers 2 – 1 Aston Villa
As derbies go, the one between midland sides Wolverhampton and Aston Villa is usually fierce and entertaining; this was no different. Wolves found themselves ahead on 7 minutes thanks to Jonny for the second time in as many matches. The lead doubled when elder stateman Ashley Young headed into his own goal after being subbed on for the injured Lucas Dinge.
Villa tried to find a way back into the game with Ollie Watkins coming close in the second half but just missing his one on one with Jose Sa. The ex-Exeter star finally got his goal from the penalty spot on 86 minutes, but it proved to be nothing more than a consolation goal.
The result leaves Wolves in with a chance of Europa League football next season, whereas Villa looks like they will languish in midtable mediocrity for Gerrard's first season in charge.
Brighton and Hove Albion 0 – 0 Norwich City
It was the only goalless game of the week, and it was just as dull as the score line would suggest. Neal Maupay's terrible penalty miss on 28 minutes was the game's most notable moment. The Frenchman sent the ball ballooning over Tim Krul's crossbar. If Maupay scored that goal, he would have become Brighton's highest-scoring premier league player ever, a nice accolade.
Brighton would go on to have other chances in the game courtesy of a Joel Veltman header, another Maupay miss, and a mandatory Lewis dunk header. Norwich finished the game with zero shots on target, only coming close with a Milot Rashica miss late on in the game.
The result leaves Norwich rock bottom despite gaining a point and Brighton just about hanging on to a midtable finish this year. Not a Premier League classic.
Chelsea 1 – 4 Brentford
This West London derby was a delight to neutrals and Brentford fans alike, in stark contrast to the bore draw at the Amex stadium. This description can probably give away the game's result, a Brentford victory, an emphatic 4-1 victory at that.
In what was the Bee's first win against Chelsea since the 1930's we were treated to 35-yard screamers and a man of the match performance from fan favourite Christian Erikson. Chelsea opened the scoring on 48 minutes when Antonio Rudiger smashed in an absolute rocket off the near post from 35 yards out. However, it would only take around 2 minutes for Brentford to respond, with Vitaly Janelt finding the corner from the edge of the box. The Bees scored another three goals from that point, with two of them coming from Christian Eriksen, and the game was out of sight only 12 minutes from Rudiger's wonder goal.
The result has most likely saved Brentford from the relegation scrap whilst pulling Chelsea into the increasingly close top-four battle. Indeed a memorable game, although I'm sure Tuchel will want to forget it quickly.
Manchester United 1 – 1 Leicester City
It is looking increasingly unlikely that Ralf Rangnick will be able to pull Manchester United into the fourth spot come the end of the season, and the game against Leicester City has only made it more complicated still.
The first half was a rather lifeless affair, with only Bruno Fernandes' shot on goal being the most exciting moment of the forty-five. The second half was an altogether different matter. An excellent team goal ending in a poacher's header from ex-City player, Kelechi Iheanacho, put the foxes ahead on 63 minutes. The home side took just three minutes to match the visitors when Fred scored from Schmeichel's parry of Fernandes' shot.
The Foxes thought they had won it all in the 80th minute with James Maddison's fantastic finish, only for VAR to rule it out for a foul on Raphael Varane in the build-up. United could have taken all three points in the dying embers when Rashford looked to be through on goal before Anthony Elanga bizarrely took it off of him in an offside position.
It ended up being a result that does no good for either side. Leicester is still stuck in midtable with nothing left to play for in the league this year, whilst United look almost sure to miss out on the top four this year unless Spurs or Arsenal cataclysmically bottle their remaining games. Perhaps then the North London sides were happiest with the result at Old Trafford then.
West Ham 2 – 1 Everton
Could the toffees halt their relegation slide with a game in the capital? No, it turns out they couldn't.
Frank Lampard's side went 1-0 down in the 32nd minute thanks to an absolutely stunning free-kick from Aaron Cresswell outside the area. Only eight minutes later, it looked as if Richarlison would bring Everton level, only for his chip to balloon over the crossbar. The equaliser finally came in the 53rd minute when late Donny Van de Beek replacement, Mason Holgate, fired a deflected shot past Lukasz Fabianski. It only took 5 minutes for Moyes' men to retake the lead thanks to man of the moment Jarrod Bowen following in on Michail Antonio's blocked shot.
Things went from bad to worse for the away side when Michael Keane was sent off on 65 minutes thanks to a second booking following a poor tackle on Antonio.
The result leaves West Ham in the hunt for Europa League football and Everton increasingly looking over their shoulder at Burnley, their opponents, next week.
Tottenham Hotspurs 5 – 1 Newcastle United
With Newcastle starting to look all but safe in recent weeks, the pressure of the game was placed squarely on Conte's side, especially with Manchester United slipping up earlier in the weekend.
The opening goal at the Tottenham Hotspur stadium came from the visitors, with Newcastle's Fabian Schar nestling his 32nd-minute free-kick into the bottom right corner. This was not a lead that would last all that long, not even 5 minutes, to be exact. Ben Davis levelled the scores on 43 minutes, getting on the end of Son's cross and scoring his first league goal since 2017. Spurs would take the lead only 3 minutes into the 2nd half thanks to Matt Doherty, and from that point, it was all over for Newcastle United. Son would add a third on 54 minutes, Emerson Royal, a 4th on 63 minutes and Steven Bergwijn would get the 5th on 83 minutes.
The result lifts Spurs into fourth, ahead of their North London rivals Arenal in fifth. Newcastle sit nine points clear of the relegation zone and look to be all but out of site for their direct competitors.
Crystal Palace 3 – 0 Arsenal
With the top four now looking like a straight shootout between the two North London clubs and Spurs emphatically beating Newcastle, nothing short of three points would do for the Gunners at Selhurst Park. However, it was as if the players weren't aware of this, as they left the ground with no points, thoroughly beaten by an excellent Palace performance.
The game's tone was apparent from the outset, with Viera's men putting the young Arsenal side under intense pressure from the first whistle. It only took 16 minutes for the home side to make their dominance pay, with Jean-Philippe Mateta finishing at the far post from Joachim Anderson's header in the box. The Danish centre-half got his 2nd assist of the game eight minutes later with an excellent pass to Premier League veteran Jordan Ayew who finished excellently to make it 2-0.
The second half saw a much-improved Arsenal side, with them finishing the game with 68% possession and 12 shots to Palace's 6, but this was all in vain when Zaha was awarded a penalty in the 74th minute. Martin Odegaard made a meal of a tackle in his own area, and Zaha quickly netted the subsequent spot-kick, putting the eagles out of site.
The result means that Arsenal finish the weekend behind Tottenham on equal points but holding one more game in hand. On the other hand, Palace stays in midtable, with their focus squarely on the FA Cup and the chance to lift some silverware in Viera's first season at Selhurst Park.