Tuesday, March 1, 2022

Match Week 27 Results: Manchester United Stifled at Home; Hammers Defeat Wolves; Spurs Rout Leeds As Bielsa Sacked; Everton Falls Again; Burnley Edges Closer to Survival; Newcastle Marches On

The fight for fourth tightened over the weekend as West Ham gained ground on Manchester United. The Hammers struck for a 1-0 win over Wolves as the punch less Red Devils were held to a goalless draw by relegation bound Watford. West Ham moved to within two points of the final Champions League berth, held by Manchester United, courtesy of a Tomas Soucek 59th minute goal.

Wolverhampton’s second consecutive loss left the club seven points behind Manchester United and five points from a Europa League spot.

Manchester United was booed by fans at Old Trafford who witnessed a staggering lack of tactical finishing by United’s talented attackers. Only three of the Red Devils’ 22 shots were on target and 67% possession by the home side failed to yield a productive moment against the struggling Hornets. Manager Ralf Rangnick has lost but once as Manchester United manager but five draws on his watch have kept Champions League qualification in doubt.

Spurs remained in the chase for European competition after rolling over Leeds in a 4-0 final. Leeds terminated manager Marcelo Bielsa after the club’s defeat. Bielsa’s side conceded 10 goals over his last two matches in charge and a league leading 60 concessions on the season. The Whites are but two points above the drop line and represent a formidable challenge for new manager Jesse Marsch who replaces the much beloved Bielsa. The American earned his coaching stipes in the Red Bull organization, last coaching RB Leipzig. The pressing Red Bull style will not be a jarring change from Bielsa’s tactics but will hopefully produce better results with at least a modicum of more defensive focus. Son Heung-min’s assist to Harry Kane for Spurs’ fourth goal versus was the 37th goal scoring connection between the two players, edging the dazzling duo ahead of Chelsea’s Frank Lampard and Didier Drogba for the most goal scoring combinations in Premier League history.

Spurs now trail rival Arsenal by three points for the final Europa League berth.

The Gunners, idle this weekend, will have their sights set on bigger things. Arsenal will have three additional matches to make up its current two-point deficit to Manchester United.

Manchester City scored a controversial 1-0 victory over Everton on a late 82nd minute goal by Phil Foden to increase their lead over Liverpool in the title chase to six points. Liverpool, however, holds a game in hand with an April trip to the Etihad looming ever larger. A controversial non-call deprived Everton of a potential game tying penalty kick against the Citizens. The disputed moment involved a possible hand ball in the penalty area by Manchester City midfielder Rodri. Frustrated Everton made a formal protest of the officiating to the league office. The Evertonians have lost six of their last seven matches to fall to within one point of the relegation zone as new Toffee manager Frank Lampard may have reason to regret his taking charge at Goodison.

Burnley is fast on Everton’s heels after grabbing a point in a 1-1 draw with Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park. The Clarets have lost but once in their last seven matches to vastly improve their survival chances. Burnley is back in action for a rescheduled match on Tuesday versus Leicester.

Newcastle continued their own rise up the table by defeating Brentford 2-0. The Magpies are unbeaten in seven matches, winning four, to move from 19th to 14th in the table. Former Arsenal man Joe Willock scored for a second consecutive match in Newcastle’s win. Brentford, meanwhile, continued a spiral which has seen the Bees lose 9 of 11 matches. Things were not helped for the Bees Saturday when an 11th minute red card put them a man down for most of the match. One positive moment in Brentford was Christian Eriksen taking the field for the first time since his cardiac event at the Euros.

Brighton lost for a third consecutive time in a 2-0 home defeat to Aston Villa. The Seagulls have failed to score in any of those three matches.

Carabao Cup Championship

Liverpool and Chelsea treated fans to a thriller at Wembley Stadium as numerous chances but no goals though regulation and extra periods led to a penalty kick “shootout” where the Reds prevailed with Liverpool goalkeeper Caoimhin Kelleher making good on the 21st penalty kick by the teams. His counterpart, Chelsea goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga missed on the 22nd and final kick of the match. Chelsea manager Thomas Tuchel made the controversial substitution of Arrizabalaga with one minute remaining in extra time to take advantage of Kepa’s perceived expertise in stopping penalties. Kepa failed to save any of the 10 shots directed his way before missing his own shot. Chelsea’s starting goalkeeper, Edouard Mendy had been the man of the match prior to his replacement. The Senegalese goalkeeper was acrobatic in his determined efforts to thwart the Liverpool attack, including a breathtaking double save as he stopped a point-blank attempt by compatriot Sadio Mane following an initial save on a shot by Liverpool’s Naby Keita.

FA Cup

FA Cup 5th Round action this week features two all-Premier League clashes on Wednesday as Southampton is home to West Ham and Norwich visits Liverpool. Manchester City, Crystal Palace, Tottenham Hotspur, and Everton play lower division sides this week. Tottenham Hotspur faces former Premier League manager Chris Wilder and his Middlesbrough side which eliminated Manchester United in the last round.

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