Tuesday, April 13, 2021

Matchweek 31 Results: West Ham Takes Hammer to Leicester; Chelsea Romp; Liverpool Enjoy Home Visit; Red Devils Burn Spurs; Fulham Fail Again

West Ham sprinted to a three-goal lead before hanging on for a 3-2 victory over Leicester which keeps the Hammers in the top four for a second consecutive week and pulls the Foxes into a dogfight for the final two Champions League slots.  Jesse Lingard scored twice for the Hammers before Jarrod Bowen’s score gave West Ham a three-goal lead for a third consecutive match. Lingard’s scoresheet now reads eight goals and three assists in his nine appearances for West Ham since joining on loan from Manchester United.

Kelechi Iheanacho scored twice for Leicester to create another nervy finish as the Hammers, playing without injured defensive midfielder Declan Rice, persevered to their ninth victory at home. Only Manchester City has more home victories on the season or more league wins in 2021 than West Ham. Iheanacho has scored 11 times in his last 11 matches for Leicester and his 14 goals across all competitions matches his season high achieved with Manchester City five years ago. The Foxes played without James Maddison, Ayoze Perez and Hamza Choudhury who violated COVID 19 protocol violations. Leicester’s second consecutive defeat leaves them just two points ahead of fifth place Chelsea for the final top four place.  

Chelsea strolled to a 4-1 victory at Crystal Palace as Christian Pulisic scored twice, Kai Havertz had a goal and assist for his first time in a Chelsea jersey, and defender Kurt Zouma notched his fifth goal of the season. Havertz played in a false nine role as manager Thomas Tuchel continues to tinker with the Chelsea attack. Christian Benteke had the goal for Crystal Palace which lost for a seventh consecutive time versus Chelsea.  

Liverpool are three points behind West Ham in the race for Champions League qualification after the Reds recorded their first home win of 2021 in a 2-1 defeat of Aston Villa. Trent Alexander Arnold secured Liverpool’s third consecutive league victory with a stoppage time goal. Mohamed Salah’s tying goal earlier in the second half, his 19th of the season, represented Liverpool’s first goal from open play at home in 2021.

Villa’s Ollie Watkins, who had a hat trick in Villa’s 7-2 October pasting of Liverpool, had opened scoring in the rematch and became the first player in more than a decade to score four times against Liverpool in a Premier League season.  Aston Villa fell from the top half of the table as the Villans failed to win for a fourth time in their last five matches.  

Manchester United avenged an early season pummeling of their own, an October 6-1 loss to Spurs at Old Trafford, by dealing a crushing blow to Spurs’ hopes for Champions League qualification in a 3-1 win by the Red Devils at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium. Manchester United responded to a first half goal by the Spurs’ Son Heung-min by scoring three times in a dominant second half performance. An unlikely goal by Fred, his second in a Manchester United shirt, opened second half scoring. Second Half substitute Mason Greenwood then assisted on Edinson Cavani’s goal to put Manchester United ahead before Greenwood’s stoppage time goal sealed the victory. Greenwood’s 13 career league goals are more than any teenager has scored for Manchester United with the exception of Wayne Rooney. Manchester United have captured 28 points from losing positions this season, more than all but two Premier League clubs have ever accomplished. With the win, Manchester United extended its league away match unbeaten run to 23 matches, second longest in league history. Spurs have dropped 18 points from a winning position this season, the most dropped points by a Mourinho managed club in a Premier League season. Mourinho also suffered a tenth season loss for the first time in his managerial career. With the loss, Spurs are six points outside of the top four and three points behind sixth place Liverpool. 

Manchester City’s lead in the table over Manchester United was reduced to 11 points as the Citizens were stunned 2-1 by ten-man Leeds. A stoppage time goal by Stuart Dallas of Leeds was his second of the match for a Leeds side which played the entire second half at a man disadvantage following a red card assessed against Leeds’s Liam Cooper. Ferran Torres was the goal scorer for Manchester City which fired 29 shots versus just two shots taken by Leeds. Unfortunately for the Citizens, both Leeds shots were on target and found the back of the net. Tenth place Leeds won a third consecutive league match for the first time this season.  

Eighth place Everton did nothing to improve its European qualification prospects by failing to win for a fourth consecutive outing in a goalless draw with Brighton. The Toffees missed injured striker Dominic Calvert-Lewin as Everton registered just one shot on target versus the Seagulls. The draw was business as usual for Brighton which leads the league with 12 draws this season. 

Arsenal received a brace from Alexandre Lacazette and a goal by Gabriel Martinelli in a 3-0 pounding of Sheffield United. The clean sheet for Arsenal was the first in 10 matches for the Gunners as Sheffield United was held to two shots on target. Lacazette’s goal was his team leading 13th of the season for Arsenal which remains seven points from a top six berth.  The ten goals conceded by Sheffield United under manager Paul Heckingbottom are as many as any manager in Premier League history has suffered in their first three matches.  

Newcastle widened its lead on Fulham in the teams’ relegation battle by overcoming an early goal by Burnley’s Matej Vydra to defeat the Clarets 2-1 at Turf Moor. Substitute Allan Saint-Maximin ignited the comeback for Newcastle by assisting on the tying goal by the Magpies’ Jacob Murphy before scoring the winner for just Newcastle’s third victory in its last 20 matches. The win puts six points of separation between Newcastle and Fulham, survival and relegation. Vydra’s goal was his third in his past five appearances for Burnley which sits just one point above Newcastle in the table after a second consecutive loss.  

Fulham were nipped by Wolves 1-0 at Craven Cottage as Adama Traore scored the match’s only goal two minutes into stoppage time. The Cottagers would seem to have destroyed their chances for survival with a fourth consecutive loss. The improvement which saw Fulham inject some excitement into the relegation fight now appears fleeting as the current four match losing streak matches the four-game losing run with which Fulham started the season. Traore’s goal was his first of the season for Wolves who won for a first time in five matches.  

West Brom continued its recent fine form in a 3-0 defeat of Southampton. The Baggies have scored eight of their 17 goals this season in just their last two league matches, both victories. Matheus Pereira, Matt Phillips, and Callum Robinson found the net for Manager Sam Allardyce’s suddenly explosive West Brom club.  Unfortunately, the Baggies remain eight points from safety after posting back-to-back wins for the first time this year. Southampton were dreadful and have picked up just 10 points in 15 2021 league matches.

Premier League in Europe

Chelsea takes a 2-0 advantage into the second leg of its Champions League tie with Porto on Tuesday. Chelsea is technically the home squad in the match being played in Seville, Spain. On Wednesday Liverpool will host Real Madrid following the Spanish club’s decisive 3-1 victory over the Reds in Madrid last week in the first leg of their Champions League tie. Manchester City continues it Champions League journey with a trip to Germany to face Borussia Dortmund who the Citizens defeated 2-1 at the Etihad last week. Thursday’s Europa League second leg quarterfinal matches include a home match for Manchester United which enjoys a 2-0 goal advantage over visiting Granada. Arsenal is in a more perilous position as the Gunners are knotted at one goal apiece with Salvia Prague entering the second leg of the tie to be played in Czechoslovakia.


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