Tuesday, February 23, 2021

Matchweek 25 Results: Liverpool Turn Blue; Hammers Go Fourth; Chelsea Frustrated; Gunners Fire Blanks Again; Eagles Shock Seagulls; Hope For Fulham

The city of Liverpool was Toffee blue on Saturday evening as Everton defeated Liverpool at Anfield for the first time since 1999 in a 2-0 victory which handed the Reds a fourth straight home defeat. The Toffees jumped into the lead after three minutes on a Richarlison goal ably assisted by James Rodriguez.  An 83rd minute penalty conversion by Gylfi Sigurdsson sealed the match for the Toffees who moved level on points with sixth place Liverpool. Everton also have a game in hand on their in-town rivals as they pursue a European place. Liverpool’s fourth consecutive league loss marks 6 defeats in their last 8 league matches as they have fallen from 1st to 6th in the table. Liverpool have lost as many matches this February as they lost in the prior 2 league seasons combined.


Crashing the Top Four this week were the Hammers of David Moyes who delivered their manager his first victory over Jose Mourinho in a 2-0 defeat of Spurs. The Hammers received first half goals by Michail Antonio and Jesse Lingard and then withstood a furious second half comeback attempt by Spurs. A Lucas Moura header brought Spurs within one goal before Gareth Bale missed an opportunity to tie the match with a strike off the crossbar. Lingard, on loan from Manchester United, has three goals in four appearances for the Hammers who occupy a top-flight Top Four slot after 25 matches for the first time in 35 years. The pressure builds for Spurs manager Mourinho who has accumulated fewer points after 50 league matches at Spurs than at any other club in his managerial career.  

Table leader Manchester City received a goal from Raheem Sterling in the first two minutes and then locked down Arsenal for a 1-0 victory. The clean sheet was the 23rd across all competitions for City this season, highest among all 5 of Europe’s top leagues. The Citizens extended their winning streak to 18 matches across all competitions and 13 consecutive league victories. Tenth place Arsenal, managing only 1 shot on target Sunday, lost to City for an 8th consecutive time and have failed to score in the last 4 matches between the clubs. The Gunners remained 10th in the table. 

Manchester United put down a listless Newcastle United side in a 3-1 victory by the Devils at Old Trafford. A Bruno Fernandes penalty kick was his 15th goal of the season for Manchester United and followed scores by Marcus Rashford and Daniel James. The Red Devils remain 10 points behind league leader Manchester City. Newcastle lost for an 8th time in their last 10 matches as they are now but 3 points above the relegation places.  

Leicester stayed level on points with Manchester United with the Foxes’ 2-1 defeat of Aston Villa.  Harvey Barnes delivered the winner for Leicester and his 13 goals on the season leave him just 1 behind team leader Jamie Vardy. James Maddison opened the scoring for the Foxes and has been involved in 8 goals in his last 9 appearances for Leicester. The Foxes have been the league’s most consistent team this season, remaining in the Top Four from the opening week. Aston Villa were playing without Jack Grealish for the first time in 48 matches with the injured Villa captain last having missed a match in November 2018. A Bertrand Traore second half goal made matters close for a Villa team which has lost 5 of their last 9 matches and have scored no more than a goal for five consecutive matches.  

Chelsea remained undefeated under manager Thomas Tuchel but were disappointed with just a point from their visit to struggling Southampton. Mason Mount, one of few players who played well for Chelsea, scored the tying penalty for the Blues. Chelsea managed just 3 shots on target with their 71% ball possession as they were overtaken by West Ham for fourth position in the table.  A frustrated Tuchel controversially pulled second half substitute Callum Hudson-Odoi after just 30 minutes for attitudinal deficiency. The relationship between manager and player will bear watching. The Saints, meanwhile, were smiling to end a six-game losing streak with the draw. Recently acquired Takumi Minamino scoring his second goal for the Saints since his recent loan from Liverpool. Southampton is 14th in the table after being as high as 3rd in the table in mid-December.  

Wolves defeated Leeds on an own goal which caromed into the goal off the back of  goalkeeper Illan Meslier after ricocheting off the crossbar on a shot by Adama Traore. Rui Patricio had 7 saves in recording his 7th clean sheet of the season for a Wolves side which has won three of their last 4 four matches following an 8-match winless streak. Wolves leapfrogged Leeds into 11th place in the table with the win.  

Crystal Palace perpetrated the ultimate “smash and grab” in their 2-1 victory over archrival Brighton in the teams’ “M23 derby”. Brighton dominated play with 25 shots and 75% possession before the Eagles’ Christian Benteke won the game for the visitors with a clean strike in the final minute of stoppage time to reward endless minutes of desperate defending by Palace.

Former Chelsea defender Gary Cahill led a determined Eagles defense with 9 individual clearances.  Brighton had tied the game early in the second half on a goal by Joel Veltman after Jean-Phillipe Mateta had given the Eagles an early lead with his first Premier league goal. The backbreaking loss broke a six-match unbeaten run for Brighton and leaves them just 4 points clear of relegation. The wasteful Seagulls have attempted 57 shots to score only once in their past two matches. Crystal Palace, who were playing without leading scorer and club captain Wilfried Zaha, moved ahead of Southampton to 13th in the table and are 10 points clear of relegation.  

Burnley, playing without forwards Chris Wood and Ashley Barnes, was unable to take advantage of a West Brom team playing the second half with 10 men in a 0-0 final which was Burnley’s 3rd draw in a 4-match unbeaten run. The Clarets were 6 points clear of relegation after earning the point. Undermanned West Brom had the better chances and recorded their first clean sheet since November. The first half red card assessed against West Brom’s Semi Ajayi was the 111th awarded by controversial referee Mike Dean, 44 more than any Premier League referee in history.  

Fulham’s 1-0 defeat of Sheffield United continued the Cottagers determined march towards survival. Scott Parker’s men have closed their gap to safety from 10 to 3 points with two wins and a draw in the last week. The two victories in the past week, sandwiched around a mid-week draw, were as many wins as Fulham had achieved in its previous 24 league matches.  Ademola Lookman scored the winner for Fulham which could potentially move past currently 17th place Newcastle with a win next week. Bottom dwelling Sheffield United lost for a 20th time this season.  

Leeds and Southampton play a rescheduled Matchweek 18 fixture on Tuesday.

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