Tuesday, February 8, 2022

Match Week 24 Preview: Premier League Returns

The Premier League returns with three matches on Tuesday as Match Week 24 is played over the next three days. Frank Lampard manages his first league match in charge of Everton Tuesday when the Toffees head to Newcastle.

Lampard’s side welcomed their new manager with a smashing 4-1 defeat of Brentford in the FA Cup this past weekend. Everton hopes Lampard can reverse the Toffees league slide which sees them just four points above Tuesday’s relegation zone opponent. Newcastle returns from break with several new faces, the Magpies having actively shopped during the transfer window to aid their survival chances. The Northeast club are just a point from safety but received the unfortunate news this week that star striker Callum Wilson will be out much of the season following reassessment of his calf injury.

Manchester United and West Ham draw the other two relegation teams in Tuesday matches. Manchester United stays in the northwest to face bottom of the table Burnley. The Red Devils generally enjoy their visits to Turf Moor, having won there five consecutive times and not having conceded a goal away at Burnley since 2009. West Ham are home to Watford and new Hornets manager Roy Hodgson. Hodgson’s side grabbed a point in a scoreless tussle at Burnley in the manager’s Watford debut over the weekend. The Hornets will face a West Ham side anxious to put an FA Cup scare versus Kidderminster behind them and to renew their Champions League chase. The Hammers enter the week one point behind fourth place Manchester United.

League leading Manchester City host reeling Brentford on Wednesday. The Bees have lost four straight league matches and were stung by Everton in their weekend FA Cup meeting. Manchester City had won 12 consecutive league outings before a draw at Southampton before the break.

The Saints travel to London Wednesday to face Tottenham Hotspur. Southampton could be missing as many as five players to injury when they face Spurs. The London side, meanwhile, have leading scorer Son Heung-min and defender Cristian Romero back in the squad after prolonged injury spells. Antonio Conte lost his first league match in charge of Spurs in a 2-0 defeat to Chelsea before break.

Crystal Palace visits Norwich and Aston Villa are home to Leeds in other Wednesday matches. Norwich is on a surprising two match league winning streak which has pulled the club, at least temporarily, from the relegation places.

Thursday action features a tricky match for Arsenal when the Gunners travel to Wolverhampton. Wolves is just two points behind the sixth place Gunners and has won four times in a five-match unbeaten run. Arsenal’s thin front line will be facing the league’s second stingiest defense in a match where goals should be at a premium.

Thursday’s other match sees Leicester face Liverpool at Anfield. Liverpool is the only Premier League club unbeaten at home this season.

FA Cup Surprises and Near Misses

Premier League clubs had their struggles in the FA Cup 4th Round this weekend. Manchester United exited the tournament when Anthony Elanga missed in penalty kicks after extra time versus Middlesbrough had left the clubs tied at one goal apiece. Middlesbrough were perfect form the penalty spot to advance. Cristiano Ronaldo had missed a penalty try in regular time as the Red Devils squandered many other opportunities in a frustrating loss. The Manchester club’s own failings were compounded when Middlesbrough’s tying goal in regulation time was allowed to stand despite a seeming handball.

Defending Cup holder Leicester lost in far less exciting fashion as the Foxes were overwhelmed 4-1 by Nottingham Forest. It was a second consecutive FA Cup win over a Premier League side by Nottingham Forest which eliminated Arsenal in the prior round.

West Ham struggled as well in the Cup against sixth tier Kidderminster. An historic defeat was narrowly avoided when Declan Rice scored an equalizer in second half stoppage time. Kidderminster hearts were then broken by Jarrod Bowen’s winner in the 121st minute of play.

Chelsea required an extra time goal by Marcos Alonso in a 2-1 defeat of League One Plymouth Argyle. Despite dominating the action, the European champions needed a second half penalty kick save by goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga to send the match to extra time.

Norwich won for a third consecutive match across all competitions as the Canaries advanced to the FA Cup’s next round with a surprising 1-0 win at Wolverhampton.

Everton demolished Brentford 4-1 in Frank Lampard’s managerial debut for the Toffees.

Tottenham Hotspur swept Brighton out of the tournament in a 3-1 victory over the Seagulls which featured a brace by Harry Kane.

Manchester City, Liverpool, Southampton, and Crystal Palace advanced with victories over lower division clubs. 

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