Tuesday, March 7, 2023

Premier League Results Matchweek 26: Liverpool in Seventh Heaven; Gritty Gunners Prevail; Manchester City Blanks Newcastle; West Ham Hammered; Brentford Extends Run in Derby Win; Praise The Saints

Liverpool surged past Newcastle into fifth position in the table by smashing rival Manchester United 7-0 on Sunday. Cody Gakpo, Darwin Nunez and Mohamed Salah had braces and Bobby Firmino joined in the goal scoring fun in a dominant victory by Jurgen Klopp’s side at Anfield. The seven goals were as many goals as scored by Liverpool in its previous eight matches combined. Salah’s second goal, his 129th in a Liverpool shirt, moved him past Robbie Fowler to become the club’s  all-time Premier League scoring leader. Manchester United, meanwhile, were shredded by their opponent in a worst ever Premier League defeat as the Red Devils dramatically extended a record of futility at Anfield where they last won a Premier League match in January of 2016. Sunday’s collapse by Manchester United was even more shocking as the annihilation ended an 11-match unbeaten run across all competitions by the Red Devils. Liverpool are now just three points behind fourth place Tottenham Hotspur with a match in hand versus the London club.

The Liverpool victory on Sunday stole some of the weekend headlines from a dramatic win by league leading Arsenal the day before. The Gunners responded to a two-goal deficit, which included the second fastest goal in league history, to pull out a 3-2 victory over visiting Bournemouth and maintain its five-point lead in the table. After Manchester City had already won its match over Newcastle, Arsenal was stunned at the outset of play at the Emirates when the Cherries’ Philip Billing scored only nine seconds into the match. A 57th minute header by Marcos Senesi put the league leaders down by two goals to relegation bound Bournemouth. The ensuing comeback was orchestrated by unexpected Gunner goal scorers. Midfielder Thomas Partey scored Arsenal’s first goal at the 62-minute mark which was followed by substitute defender Ben White’s equalizer at 70 minutes. The tying goal was White’s first league goal of the season. Tension then mounted as Bournemouth resorted to massive time wasting, hoping to salvage a point from its first half efforts. Arsenal wasn’t to be denied, however. Substitute Reiss Nelson capped the epic comeback in the seventh minute of stoppage time to claim all three points in front of euphoric Arsenal home supporters.

Manchester City won in far less dramatic fashion by capturing all three points against a Newcastle club which has now won only once in its last nine league matches. Phil Foden and Bernardo Silva scored in a 2-0 win for the Citizens. Newcastle lost a second consecutive match and has scored but twice in a five-match winless run. A passive January window which failed to bolster a poor attack could undercut what had been a magical season for the Magpies who had spent twelve weeks in the top four before tumbling from the ranks of the mighty last week.

Spurs continued its inconsistent form with a 1-0 loss at Wolverhampton. Spurs had moved into the top four with two consecutive league wins entering the week. Elimination from the FA Cup in a loss to Sheffield United on Wednesday and Saturday’s loss to a toothless Wolves opponent continues a pattern of roller coaster results. Second half substitute Adama Traore scored the winner in the 82nd minute for Wolverhampton which is five points clear of the relegation zone after the weekend.

Brentford extended its unbeaten run to twelve matches in a 3-2 victory over Fulham. Ivan Toney had a penalty kick in the victory, his 22nd successful conversion in as many tries as a Bee. Toney’s 15th goal of the season leaves him behind only Erling Haaland and Harry Kane in the Golden Boot chase. A cloud hangs over the forward, however, as he has already admitted to violating league betting restrictions with the consequences yet to be determined. The loss by Fulham snapped a four-match unbeaten run for the seventh place Cottagers who remained a point better than both Brentford and Brighton in the chase for the final European places. Fulham’s Manor Solomon scored for a fifth time in his last five matches. Alvis Morais scored in the ninth minute of stoppage time for the Cottagers to present a more respectable final scoreline.

Brighton and Hove Albion remains in contention for a European place after a 4-0 hammering of West Ham. The eighth place Seagulls are just a point outside the European places after four different players found the net against the Hammers. West Ham failed to score a goal from just two shots on target just one week after putting four goals past Nottingham Forest. The Hammers are just a point from the drop as the pressure mounts on manager David Moyes.

Chelsea found a way to capture three points despite another fruitless performance by its forward line. Defender Wesley Fofana scored his first Chelsea goal to relieve some pressure on Manager Graham Potter in a 1-0 win over Leeds at Stamford Bridge. Fofana’s goal was just Chelsea’s fifth goal in ten league matches this year. Chelsea remains tenth in the table after its second win of 2023. Leeds is presently safe from relegation only by virtue of a better goal differential than Everton.

The Toffees missed an opportunity to emerge from the drop zone when Everton relinquished two leads in a 2-2 draw at Nottingham Forest. Two goals by Nottingham Forest’s Brennan Johnson deprived the Toffees of what would have been just a second away win of the season. The goals were the sixth and seventh of the season for Forest’s 21-year-old scoring leader. Everton, while discouraged by the dropping of two points, will find some encouragement from its two goals which matched the output from Manager Sean Dyche’s first five league matches in charge.

Southampton was seemingly left for dead after an embarrassing loss to Grimsby in the FA Cup followed on a critical loss to Leeds in league play last weekend. Praise is due the Saints and their interim manager Ruben Selles, however, for responding with a 1-0 win at St. Mary’s over visiting Leicester on Saturday. Carlos Alcaraz scored in the 35th minute to give the Saints just their second win at home this season. The victory moved Southampton out of the cellar as Bournemouth fell to the bottom on goal differential. More importantly, Southampton are just a point from safety and only three points behind their Saturday opponent, Leicester. The 15th place Foxes have now lost three consecutive league matches to raise the specter of a relegation fight for the one-time Premier League champions.

Eleventh place Aston Villa won for a second consecutive week in a 1-0 home victory over Crystal Palace. Crystal Palace could not get out of its own way in a match where they provided Villa’s winning margin with a Joachim Andersen own goal, failed to launch a single shot on target, and went down to ten men on a 62nd minute red card. Questions are being asked of Manager Patrick Vieira as the Eagles remain the only Premier League club to not have won a match in 2023.

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