Tuesday, May 4, 2021

Matchweek 34 Results: Manchester United v. Liverpool Postponed; Havertz Brace Leads Chelsea; Hammers Keep Pace; Foxes Falter; Bale Lifts Spurs; Everton Fades; Jose Lands at Roma

Liverpool's stretch run for Champions League qualification was put on hold due to Manchester United fan protests. Demonstrating their displeasure with Glazer family ownership of Manchester United, groups of fans broke though meager security at Old Trafford and entered the hallowed pitch. Outside the stadium, physical confrontations with police occurred as the teams were relegated to the safety of their hotels. The match between Manchester United and Liverpool was postponed, the first time a Premier League match has been postponed due to fan protests.

The inactivity leaves Liverpool seventh in the table, looking up at European qualification. With a match in hand, Liverpool is two points behind Tottenham Hotspur for sixth and seven points behind Chelsea for the final Champions League slot. 

Chelsea moved to within two points of third place Leicester with a 2-0 defeat of Fulham. Kai Havertz scored a brace for Chelsea with the two goals set up by flawless passes from Mason Mount and Timo Werner, respectively. With his assist, Timo Werner reached double digits in both goals and assists for Chelsea across all competitions, just the fourth Premier League player to do so this season and the first Chelsea player to accomplish the feat in his first season with the club since Eden Hazard in 2012/13.

Werner and Mount have had the most goal involvements across all competitions during Tuchel’s tenure as manager. Havertz’ seventh and eighth goals of the season flashed some of the promise which has largely been unrealized this season. Chelsea goalkeeper Edouard Mendy registered a 16th clean sheet in 28 Premier League appearances. 

Fulham lost for a fifth time in their last six matches to further assure their impending relegation. The Cottagers have captured only four of the last 24 points available to them. 

West Ham kept pace with Chelsea by defeating Burnley 2-1 to remain three points behind the Blues in the race for fourth. Michail Antonio returned from a four-week injury absence to post a brace for the Hammers who were creative and aggressive in attack at Turf Moor, launching 22 shots. West Ham has scored two or more goals in 2021 league matches more often than any club but Manchester City. Antonio’s goals for the Hammers overcame an early deficit created by a Chris Wood penalty conversion for Burnley. The Clarets failed to win for an eight consecutive home match but appear safe as they sit nine points above relegation with four matches to go. The remarkable West Ham European chase follows a 2019/20 season where the club finished just five points from relegation. 

Third place Leicester is only five points above West Ham after the Foxes could only draw 1-1 at Southampton despite enjoying a man advantage from the tenth minute onward after a Southampton red card. A second half James Ward-Prowse penalty kick gave the Saints a short-lived lead before Leicester defender Johnny Evans’s scored his second goal in his last three appearances for the Foxes. Evans had scored twice in 95 matches leading into his current three match run. The draw was heartening for a beleaguered Saints squad which had lost 12 of its 15 prior matches and incurred some heavy losses in recent seasons. Southampton conceded nine goals to Leicester in this same fixture last season. The Foxes will be frustrated to have generated just the single goal in Friday’s match despite 23 shots, nine of which were on target. 

Gareth Bale ensured that Spurs stays in the European chase by bagging his second Premier League hat trick, and first since 2012, in lifting Spurs to an easy 4-0 win over Sheffield United. Son Heung-Min’s 16th goal of the season rounded out the scoring and his earlier assist on Bale’s second goal made Son the third player, along with Harry Kane and Bruno Fernades, to reach double figures in both goals and assists this season. Sheffield United, which had only one shot on target versus Spurs, has conceded 15 goals in six league matches under interim manager Paul Heckingbottom. Spurs moved past idle Liverpool into sixth position in the table which would translate to Europa League qualification. The north London side are five points removed from Champions League qualification. It was announced Tuesday that recently sacked Spurs manager Jose Mourinho will take the helm at Roma in Serie A next season. 

Eighth place Everton damaged their hopes for Europe in a 2-1 home loss to Aston Villa. Anwar El Ghazi scored in the 80th minute as Aston Villa secured only its third win in 11 matches. The teams traded first half goals by Ollie Watkins (13th of the season) for Villa and Dominic Calvert-Lewin (20th of the season) for the Toffees before El Ghazi’s deciding strike. Everton fall nine points adrift of Chelsea for the Champions League, four points removed from Spurs and Europa League qualification. Everton’s home performances have garnered only 19 points from 17 home matches with their eight home losses being the most since the 1993/94 season at Goodison Park. 

Arsenal defeated Newcastle 2-0 in a match more important as a primer for Arsenal’s Europa League clash with Villareal this week than for any league implications. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang assisted and scored in his first league appearance in almost a month. Mohamed Elneny scored his first Premier League goal for the Gunners. Newcastle’s work is all but done with still a nine-point cushion versus relegation bound Fulham. 

After failing to score in its two prior matches, Brighton got the goals it needed in a 2-0 win over Leeds which all but assures the Seagulls of Premier League play next season Pascal Gross converted a first half penalty and Danny Welbeck scored the clincher to put Brighton 10 points clear of relegation. The Seagulls have allowed only one goal cumulatively in their last four matches and have conceded fewer goals than any club not in the top half of the table. Leeds saw an end to their six-match unbeaten run. 

Manchester City continued to march towards the title with a 2-0 win which saw Sergio Aguero score for a first time at Selhurst Park in his final appearance at the home of Crystal Palace. The club legend will be leaving Manchester City at the end of the season and has been lightly used of late by Pep Guardiola. Aguero made the most of a rare start for a Citizens side which reflected eight changes from the line-up employed against PSG in Champions League play earlier in the week. Aguero and Ferran Torres both scored in the second half as Manchester City was held without a shot as of halftime. Crystal Palace played well but will rue the two minutes during which both goals were scored. City’s 11th consecutive Premier League away victory equaled the Premier League record. Raheem Sterling failed to score for an 11th consecutive appearance for City amid tabloid rumors he may be leaving the club in the next transfer window. Crystal Palace lost a third consecutive match, raising fearful memories of last season’s seven consecutive losses by the Eagles to end the season. 

West Brom’s Mbaye Diagne’s second half goal canceled out the first half strike of Wolves’ Fabio Silva as points were shared in a 1-1 Black Country derby. Wolves will have been frustrated at not scoring a winner despite 20 shots, half of them on target. West Brom find themselves 10 points adrift with just 12 points available from the club’s remaining matches. Wolves curiously are the only Premier League club yet to lose when scoring first in a league match this season.

Premier League in Europe

Manchester City looks to advance to the Champions League final for the first time in club history by successfully closing out PSG at the Emirates on Tuesday. Manchester City came from behind to post a 2-1 win in Paris last week. Kylian Mbappe, ineffective in the opening leg, will reportedly not start Tuesday’s match due to a calf problem. Chelsea host Real Madrid Wednesday following the clubs’ 1-1 opening leg draw in their Champions League semi-final. Wednesday’s match could see the return of Real Madrid defenders Sergio Ramos and Ferland Mendy. The return of Ramos could allow Madrid manager Zinedine Zidane to revert to his favored four-man backline. Manchester United heads to Rome with a 6-2 advantage after the first leg of their Europa League semi-final. The tie, already a lost cause for the Italians, becomes an afterthought following Tuesday’s announcement of Jose Mourinho, recently sacked as Spurs manager, as the new manager of Roma next season. Arsenal will try to avoid the embarrassment of losing to former manager Unai Emery at the Emirates where the Gunners will try to overcome a 2-1 deficit in their Europa League semi-final tie with Villarreal.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Please leave a comment: