Tuesday, April 20, 2021

Matchweek 32 Results: Super League Announcement; Spurs Move On From Jose; Newcastle Takes Hammers Down; Fulham Fail Again; Chelsea Eke Into Top Four; Blades Fail To Make Cut

This week’s Premier League weekend was dominated by off field news. Six Premier League teams were announced late Sunday as founding members of a new European Super League. The announced English clubs were Manchester City, Manchester United, Liverpool, Chelsea, Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur. Twelve teams in total were announced as founding members with the balance of members comprised of top clubs from Spain and Italy. No clubs from Germany or France were announced as part of the new league. Founding members would be guaranteed participation in the league each season. The envisioned league, playing mid-week games, presents a direct threat to UEFA’s Champions League and Europa League and the qualification process for those competitions within the domestic leagues. 

Negative outcry was immediate from world, European, national and league organizations opposed to the league. Government officials have also decried the league proposal. Fans and even players have been vocal in their criticism of the new venture. Players from Leeds, in warm-up for their game with Liverpool on Monday, wore tee shirts protesting the new league. Liverpool players issued a statement in protest of the new league on Tuesday. On Tuesday, Chelsea and Manchester City were reported to be stepping away from the proposed Super League. Manchester United Vice-Chairman Edward Woodward, a key architect of the Super League plan, also resigned Tuesday amid the backlash against the proposed venture. Developments, including further rumored defections and potential penalties against those still associated with the rogue league, continue to unfold.


Partially obscured by the “Super League” announcement was Spurs’ sacking of Jose Mourinho as manager which was also announced late on Sunday. Mourinho was  dismissed as manager after 17 months with the club. The legendary manager will thus miss the chance to earn Spurs their first trophy in 13 years when the north London club face Manchester City in the Carabao Cup final next Sunday.

Spurs currently sit seventh in the table, were embarrassingly eliminated by Dinamo Zagreb in the Europa League, and have been engulfed by rising locker room tension. Mourinho did well last season to take Spurs from their 14th place in the table at the time of his November 2019 hiring to a sixth-place finish and qualification for Europa League competition. Spurs were in first place this season as late as December 14th after winning seven matches in an 11 match unbeaten run. Spurs’ fortunes have since declined with the club having lost seven of its last 14 matches amid criticism of both Mourinho’s match tactics and man management. Spurs hopes for European qualification were dealt a blow on Friday in a 2-2 draw with Everton which saw Harry Kane limp off in stoppage time with another ankle injury. Spurs took an early lead on a goal by Kane, lost the lead on two goals by Everton’s Gylfi Sigurdsson, and then salvaged a point on Kane’s second goal of the match. After relinquishing the early lead versus the Toffees on Friday, no team has dropped more than Spurs 20 points from winning positions this year. Kane has now scored 20 or more goals in a Premier League season for a fifth time. Only Alan Shearer and Sergio Aguero have more seasons with 20 or more goals. Everton, victimized by the misplays of defender Michael Kean on both Kane goals, is winless in its last five league matches, their longest such streak in more than two years.  

West Ham fell from the top four by becoming the first Premier League club to concede an own goal and receive a red card inside of a minute in a 3-2 loss to Newcastle. Craig Dawson received a second yellow card on the same sequence in which defender Issa Diop committed the own goal for the Hammers. Moments later, West Ham goalkeeper Lukacz Fabianski fumbled the ball in front of net to gift Newcastle a two-goal lead. West Ham gamely clawed back on goals by Diop and Jesse Lingard before Joe Willock’s third goal in nine appearances for Newcastle grabbed all three points for the Magpies. Newcastle have lost but once in seven matches as they work to secure Premier League football for next season. The own goal by West Ham was the club’s fourth of the season, highest in the Premier League and joint highest in club history. Lingard’s converted second half penalty gives him nine goals in 10 appearances for the Hammers. West Ham dropped to fifth in the table as a result to Chelsea’s win over Brighton on Tuesday.  

Newcastle increased their distance form the relegation zone to eight points as Fulham once again suffered a late collapse in a 1-1 draw at Arsenal. The Cottagers conceded the tying goal deep into stoppage time to drop two points at the Emirates. Just the week before, Fulham conceded a winning goal to Wolves in stoppage time. Against Arsenal, a penalty conversion was the Cottagers only shot on goal. Eddie Nketiah scored the late goal for the Gunners more than six minutes into the stoppage period.  Arsenal remain seven points behind sixth place Liverpool as the Reds were also involved in a 1-1 draw, conceding an 87th minute goal at Leeds. Sadio Mane scored his first league goal for Liverpool since January. Diego Llorente’s goal captured the point for Leeds.  

Chelsea edged back into the top four on goal differential, pulling even on points with West Ham after the Blues earned a point in a drab goalless draw with Brighton.  Brighton had the better of play as the Seagulls’ Adam Lallana and Danny Welbeck missed second half chances. Brighton moved seven points clear of relegation with the point. Chelsea and West Ham will go head-to-head over the fourth spot when the two clubs meet this coming Saturday in a London derby.  

Manchester United won for a fifth consecutive league match in a 3-1 defeat of Burnley.  Mason Greenwood had a brace for the Red Devils to tie him with Wayne Rooney for the most goals scored for Manchester United as a teenager. Edinson Cavani scored a stoppage time goal for finish off the Clarets.  Burnley, which received a goal from defender James Tarkowski, suffered a third consecutive defeat and are six points clear of relegation. 

Sheffield United were mathematically eliminated from next year’s Premier League competition in a 1-0 defeat to Wolves, the 26th loss in a disastrous season for the Blades. Sheffield United’s relegation with six matches remaining is the earliest relegation from the English topflight since 1985.  

The Premier League continues a stretch of 11 consecutive match days Wednesday when the Spurs begin the post-Mourinho era by hosting Southampton and Manchester City visits Aston Villa. Thursday, West Brom travels to Leicester. 

FA Cup Semi-Finals

Chelsea dashed Manchester City’s hope for a quadruple when the Blues defeated the Citizens 1-0 in the clubs’ FA Cup semi-final match at Wembley Stadium.  Hakim Ziyech scored the winner for Chelsea on a play nicely set up by the run and pass of Timo Werner.  The clean sheet for Chelsea was the 14th under Thomas Tuchel across all competitions, the most by any club in Europe’s top five leagues since the Chelsea manager’s hiring.  Manchester City Manager Pep Guardiola rotated his squad by making eight changes to the line-up which faced Dortmund in the Champions League earlier in the week.  Manchester City face Spurs in the Carabao Cup this coming Sunday as the Citizens now pursue a “triple.” Chelsea will face Leicester in the final on May 15th.  The Foxes defeated Southampton 1-0 on a goal by Kelechi Iheanacho ensure their participation in an FA Cup final for the first time since 1969.  Iheanacho, with 14 goals, is the FA Cup’s leading scorer since the Nigerian made his Cup debut with Manchester City in January 2016.  Southampton has lost more matches across all competitions in 2021 than any Premier League club except for Sheffield United.  

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