Tuesday, April 4, 2023

Premier League Results Matchweek 29: Potter and Rodgers Sacked; Newcastle Sweeps Manchester United From Top Four; Triumphal Return For Roy Hodgson; Arsenal and Manchester City Hold Serve; Seagulls and Bees Share Points

The Graham Potter saga at Chelsea is over. The former Brighton manager was sacked after just six months in charge of the Blues. Potter was a dubious choice at the start based on his lack of top club experience. Brighton teams also struggled to score during Potter’s time on the south coast and that trend continued at Chelsea. The failed Potter experiment saw a final defeat in a 2-0 loss to Aston Villa Saturday at Stamford Bridge, the ninth time Chelsea had failed to score in a Premier League match under Potter. The defeat made it 11 losses in Potter’s 31 matches at Chelsea with only 12 victories to his credit. Potter’s winning percentage was the lowest of any Chelsea manager this century and his points per game average in the Premier League was the worst of any Chelsea manager to have been in charge for at least 20 matches. The English manager took over a club in sixth place and, despite massive transfer investments by ownership, the club has now descended to 11th place in the bottom half of the Premier League table. Ironically, Potter’s best performance was in the Champions League competition where the club had progressed to the quarterfinals. Chelsea may now be facing Real Madrid in less than two weeks with former Potter assistant Bruno Saltor in charge. Ollie Watkins and John McGinn, meanwhile, scored the goals for an Aston Villa side which has won more matches than any Premier League clubs not named Arsenal or Manchester City since manager Unai Emery replaced Steven Gerrard.

Another Premier League manager was sacked this weekend when Leicester announced it was parting ways with Brendan Rodgers in a move taken “to protect our Premier League status.”  Rodgers led the Foxes to consecutive fifth place finishes in the league and claimed Leicester’s first FA Cup title during his time in the Midlands. The veteran Premier League manager, however, seemed as bewildered as anyone at the catastrophic decline experienced by his club this season. The Rodgers announcement followed a 2-1 loss at Crystal Palace which marked a fifth defeat in Leicester’s last six Premier League matches and dropped the Foxes into the relegation places. The Crystal Palace victory saw the triumphal return of Roy Hodgson to Selhurst Park as the former Eagle manager again takes the reigns following the sacking of Patrick Vieira before the international break. Potter, Rodgers and Vieira are just three of the record 13 managerial departures in the Premier League this season. Hodgson’s first win back in charge came on the final kick of the match with Leicester on a goal by Jean-Philippe Mateta. A front-footed approach employed in the match by Hodgson’s side was a marked contrast to the team’s play in recent matches under former manager Vieira. Crystal Place took 20 shots in the first half alone, the most by a Premier League club in over seven years and the Eagles’ 31 shots in the match were more than their previous four matches combined. Mateta’s stoppage time goal captured a vital three points which keeps Crystal Palace four points clear of the relegation places in the tightly bunched bottom half of the table.

Newcastle moved past Manchester United into the top four by defeating the Red Devils 2-0 at St. James Park in a match where the scoreline could have been worse but for another outstanding performance by Manchester United goalkeeper David De Gea. The Spanish goalkeeper was continually tested by a Newcastle side which dominated play and took 22 shots in the match to only six by their visitors. Joe Willock and Callum Wilson found the net for manager Eddie Howe’s Magpies as a third straight victory put Newcastle into the Champions League places behind only Arsenal and Manchester City. Manchester United falls to fifth after capturing only one point from their last three league contests.

Tottenham Hotspur remain fourth in the table after a 1-1 draw versus Everton. It seemed Spurs might have been sailing to all three points after Everton went down to 10 men after the Toffees’ Abdoulaye Doucoure was ejected for slugging Harry Kane. Shortly after that incident, Kane converted a penalty kick for the match’s opening score. Spurs being Spurs, however, the London club was unable to ice the match and substitute Lucas Moura incurred an 88th minute red card. Two minutes later, Everton’s Michael Keane struck from distance to capture the point that kept Everton above the drop line. It was redemption for Keane who was culpable on the foul leading to Kane’s penalty goal.

Arsenal and Manchester City both won by 4-1 margins over Leeds and Liverpool, respectively, to hold serve at the top of the table where the Gunners maintain an eight point advantage over the Citizens. Gabriel Jesus scored a brace for the Gunners to make the scoresheet for the first time since returning from his lengthy knee injury. Manchester City, meanwhile, was untroubled by the absence of league leading scorer Erling Halland as four different teammates scored against Liverpool.

Brighton and Brentford played the most entertaining match of the weekend. The Seagulls came back from three different deficits, the final equalizer coming on an Alexis Mac Allister 90th minute penalty kick. The shared outcome kept the two clubs level on points. The sixth place Seagulls, however, have not only a favorable goal differential but also two matches in hand versus Brentford in the race for European qualification.

Fulham is quickly falling out of contention for the European places after the Cottagers lost for a third straight time in a 2-1 loss at Bournemouth. Marcus Tavernier scored the equalizing goal and Dominic Solanke struck the winner in a comeback win for the Cherries. Bournemouth continues to battle and are level with three other clubs just a point above the drop line.

West Ham is one of those four clubs as the Hammers escaped, at least temporarily, the relegation zone with a 1-0 home win over Southampton. Nayef Aguerd’s first Premier League goal nailed all three points for the Hammers. Wolverhampton drew 1-1 with Nottingham Forest and is a point better in the table than the Tricky Trees, Hammers and Cherries. The current bottom three, meanwhile, entering Tuesday matches are Leeds, Leicester and Southampton.

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