Tuesday, February 28, 2023

Premier League Results Matchweek 25: Arsenal Sneaks by Foxes; Haaland Sets Manchester City Mark; Changes At The Bottom; Spurs Dismiss Chelsea in Derby Match; Solomon Makes Cottager Point; Liverpool Stymied at Palace

Arsenal maintained its advantage over Manchester City in the Premier League table by defeating Leicester 1-0. The visiting Gunners were untroubled by a lackluster Leicester attack which badly missed injured playmaker James Maddison. Arsenal is seeing good value from Leandro Trossard, acquired from Brighton in the January window. The Belgian was positioned up top by manager Mikel Arteta on Saturday and responded with a first half goal which was controversially disallowed due to a foul called on Arsenal’s Ben White. Trossard would be heard from again, however, when he assisted on the winning goal by Gabriel Martinelli moments into second half play. The versatile Trossard was deputizing for striker Eddie Nketiah who is nursing a minor injury but has also been underwhelming of late. Trossard provides Arteta with another option and the chemistry between he and Martinelli gave a new dimension to the Gunner attack in the win.

Manchester City stayed two points behind Arsenal in the title chase by steamrolling Bournemouth 4-1 on the south coast. Erling Haaland scored his 27th Premier league goal of the season, breaking the former record of club legend Sergio Aguero.

Bournemouth fell back into the relegation places after its weak capitulation to the Citizens and wins on the weekend by West Ham and Leeds.

West Ham Manager David Moyes finally released the hounds. Moyes’s men attacked like never before this season and Danny Ings slammed home two goals in his first start of the season for the Hammers in a 4-0 spanking of Nottingham Forest at London Stadium. Forest had to have been completely caught off guard by the aggression of a West Ham club which had generated little threat in winning just one of its previous 11 Premier League matches. With relegation staring at the Hammers, Moyes loosened the reins on players such as Said Benrahma and Tomas Soucek who generated some life into the Hammer attack. Ings, meanwhile, showed his quality in giving manager Moyes his 250th Premier League win (only the third manager to do so) and lifting the Hammers out of the bottom three.

Javi Gracia had 18 Premier League wins, earned with Watford, entering his first match in charge at Leeds. His 19th league victory lifted the Whites out of the relegation zone in a critical home win over Southampton. Junior Firpo scored the winner for Leeds which threw cold water on the enthusiasm generated by the maiden victory by Southampton manager Ruben Selles the week before. Leeds moved a point clear of the drop.

The Saints remain rooted to the bottom of the table as last week’s win over Chelsea might well have more attributable the problems of the London side than the prowess of the Saints.

Chelsea lost again this weekend and again failed to score a goal in a 2-0 loss at Tottenham Hotspur. Manager Graham Potter has now guided Chelsea to only three goals in its last ten matches across all competitions. His charges struggle to generate any threat as they swing the ball from side to side with seemingly little intent. A lack of cohesion is certainly partly attributable to the number of new players in the squad but Potter also bears responsibility for the fruitless style of play. Tottenham Hotspur tightened its hold on fourth place over Newcastle which was otherwise occupied on the weekend by the Carabao Cup final. Oliver Skipp’s first goal for Spurs combined with Harry Kane’s 268th for the club to give Spurs a four-point advantage over Newcastle. The Magpies have two matches in hand to potentially turn the tables on Spurs.

Fulham, sixth in the table, is two points behind Newcastle after a 1-1 home draw with Wolverhampton. The Cottagers’ Manor Solomon scored for a third time in three appearances, all as a substitute. The former Shakhtar Donetsk player is surprisingly making a bigger splash for Fulham so far than former teammate Mykhailo Mudryk is at Chelsea. Both players joined the league this past window. Solomon’s 64th minute goal leveled the match and deprived Wolverhampton of a much needed two points in its relegation battle. Wolves will travel to Liverpool Wednesday hoping to repeat the success of a 3-0 win over the Reds in early February.

Jurgen Klopp’s side were held to a goalless draw by Crystal Palace on Saturday just days after their embarrassing Champions League loss to Real Madrid. Sloppy play was again on display by the struggling Reds as Liverpool’s Trent Alexander-Arnold lost possession no less than 20 times in the first half alone. The Eagles deserve credit, however, for a solid defensive performance, particularly by midfielders Cheick Doucoure and Arsenal loanee Albert Sambi Lokonga. Crystal Palace center backs Marc Guehi and Joachim Andersen are also a formidable pairing. The Eagles problems are in attack where they have no competent strikers on their roster and no goal scoring threat without the injured Wilfried Zaha. Crystal Palace failed to put a single shot on target against Liverpool.

Everton also has problems at striker with Dominic Calvert-Lewin suffering through injuries and former Brighton star Neal Maupay having now scored just once in his last 28 Premier League matches. The Toffees went down to defeat in a 2-0  home loss to Aston Villa which sent Everton spiraling back down to the relegation zone. Aston Villa ended a three-match losing run on a penalty kick by Ollie Watkins and a clinching goal by Emiliano Buendia. Everton  joined Bournemouth in returning to their former residence in the relegation zone while West Ham and Leeds escaped after a brief stay. 

Carabao Cup

Manchester United won its first trophy in six years, defeating Newcastle 2-0 in the Carabao Cup final. The match turned in the 33rd minute when the Red Devils’ Casemiro headed in a free kick off the boot of Luke Shaw. Marcus Rashford then capitalized on a well-placed pass from Wout Weghorst just six minutes later to end the Magpies’ chances. Despite the two first half goals, Newcastle goalkeeper Loris Karius performed capably in his first action in two years. Newcastle, however, struggles mightily to score and this deficiency could well sabotage the club’s ambitious bid for European football next season. Manchester United, meanwhile, remains in contention for a “quadruple” this season. The streaking club is third in the Premier League table, advanced in the Europa League at the expense of Barcelona last week and hosts West Ham in the FA Cup Fifth Round on Wednesday. 

Midweek Matches

Some Premier League clubs will see action during the week as the FA Cup plays its Fifth Round and the league catches up on previously postponed matches. Fulham plays host to Leeds Tuesday in the FA Cup before West Ham visits Manchester United on Wednesday in two cup matches featuring league opponents. Five other Premier League sides will be matched against lesser level competition In FA Cup matches this week. Premier League table leader Arsenal hosts Everton in a rescheduled Premier League match Wednesday. The Gunners lost at Goodison Park in Sean Dyche’s fist game as Everton manager and will be keen to take their revenge on the punchless Toffees. Perennially injured Everton striker Dominic Calvert-Lewin is sidelined with a thigh injury. Wednesday’s other league match will see Liverpool home to Wolverhampton. The Reds were ambushed by Wolves 3-0 in the first week of February and there are no easy matches for this season’s Liverpool squad. Wolverhampton is trying to steer clear of the relegation scramble and are currently three points north of the drop. 

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