Tuesday, May 9, 2023

Premier League Results Match Week 35: Everton, Nottingham Forest Shake Up Relegation Race; Arsenal Wins At Newcastle; Manchester City Spoils Big Sam’s Return; Streaking Liverpool Swats Bees; United Loses at Villa; Chelsea Wins First For Lampard; Kane Leads Spurs Over Eagles; Wolves Rock Villa

While Arsenal and Manchester City held serve in the race at the top, it was the relegation race at the bottom of the table which provided much of the drama in this latest round of the Premier League season. There is also an unexpected race for Champions League qualification while the other European places remain very much in play as the season enters its final weeks.

Everton shocked Brighton with a 5-1 victory at the home of the Seagulls. The Toffees won an away match for only the second time this season to vault Everton out of the bottom three in the race for Premier League survival. Everton snapped a seven-match winless run by swarming the Seagulls from the outset. Abdoulaye Doucoure scored less than a minute into the match and added his second goal by halftime.

Everton would sprint to a four-goal advantage before Brighton would break through for the Seagulls’ lone tally in the 79th minute. Dwight McNeil’s second goal of the match, six minutes into second half stoppage time, put an exclamation point on the Toffees’ victory. Everton’s five goal performance was a high-water mark for its season, surpassing a three-goal effort against Crystal Palace back in October. The timing of the goal outburst could not have been better as the Toffees joined Nottingham Forest, winners over Southampton, in advancing out of the bottom three while losing efforts from Leicester and Leeds landed those clubs in the Premier League relegation zone. Brighton was an unlikely victim for Everton after the Seagulls had humiliated Wolves with a 6-0 thrashing and then defeated Manchester United 1-0 in their last two matches. Following the defeat on Monday, seventh place Brighton is two points behind Spurs and a point ahead of Aston Villa with two matches in hand versus both clubs. Those matches in hand are only helpful though if the Seagulls can deliver results from them, a task miserably failed against the Toffees.

Brighton also has two matches in hand versus fifth place Liverpool, but the gap is now seven points between those clubs after Liverpool won its sixth consecutive match in a 1-0 win over Brentford. Mohamed Salah’s 13th minute goal, his 100th in a Liverpool shirt at Anfield, keeps the Reds in the hunt for an improbable Champions League berth after a highly disappointing start to this season. Liverpool moved within a point of fourth place Manchester United though the Red Devils have a match in hand. The unlikely late season charge by Liverpool combined with some recent stumbles by the Manchester club has created an unexpected Champions League qualification chase.

Manchester United has won just five of its last ten, losing its last two matches without scoring a goal. The Red Devils lost 1-0 on Sunday to West Ham when David De Gea misplayed a lightly struck attempt by Said Benrahma to create the winning goal for the Hammers which puts them seven points clear of the drop line. While relegation remains a mathematical possibility for West Ham, Sunday’s result all but guarantees the Hammers will avoid relegation in what has been a more difficult than expected season for their hand wringing supporters. Ironically, the Hammers not only should now beat the drop but could also win a Europa Conference League title.

Manchester United, meanwhile, needs to find the goals to fight off the late season challenge by Liverpool in the top four chase. The Red Devils have failed to score in two consecutive losses as the lack of a quality striker, less critical when Marcus Rashford was scoring goals for fun earlier in the season, now looms large for Manager Eric ten Hag’s club.

Arsenal, which has already clinched Champions League football, kept its Premier League title hopes alive with an impressive 2-0 win Sunday at Newcastle over the third place Magpies. The victory keeps the Gunners one point behind Manchester City though the Citizens have played one fewer match. Martin Odegaard’s 15th goal of the season gave Arsenal the lead in the 14th minute after Newcastle’s Jacob Murphy had earlier hit the post in an opportunity filled opening minutes of the match. Arsenal goalkeeper Aaron Ramsdale would deny numerous other Newcastle chances until the Gunners added an insurance goal in the 71st minute when Newcastle’s Fabian Schar deflected a cross by Arsenal’s Gabriel Martinelli into the Magpies net.

Manchester City had already taken care of business the day before in a 2-1 win over Leeds, spoiling Sam Allardyce’s debut as Leeds manager despite an improved showing from the Whites. Ilkay Gundogan scored two first half goals and then was at the center of second half controversy when Erling Haaland, City’s regular penalty taker, deferred to Gundogan for the taking of a penalty kick which would have given the German a hat trick on the night. Manchester City Manager Pep Guardiola was irate with Haaland’s gesture, more so when Gundogan missed, and even more so when Leeds scored shortly thereafter. The intended nice gesture by Haaland almost endangered Manchester City tile chase. All ended well for the Citizens, however, when Leeds was unable to find a tying goal and City notched another three points.

Leeds, meanwhile, fell into the relegation zone with a fifth defeat in a six-match winless run, the only point during that stretch resulting from a 1-1 draw with now fellow relegation zone occupant Leicester. The Foxes put on a woeful display in a 5-3 loss at Fulham. The final score was flattering for a Leicester side which twice was down by four goals in a match where Fulham was the hungrier club despite Leicester’s dire relegation risk. The Foxes’ defense had been improved in recent weeks but once again looked like the shambles which has allowed more goals than all but three Premier League teams this season. Leicester also got little  help from its star players. Jamie Vardy missed a penalty. James Maddison did little but gesture in frustration at his flailing teammates. Youri Tielemans contributed nothing before being pulled in the 60th minute. The Cottagers, meanwhile, looked far more interested in preserving a top half finish than the Foxes did in surviving in the league. Willian and Tom Cairney both posted braces against the feeble Foxes as Fulham posted its 14th victory of the season, tying for the club’s  Premier League high.

Nottingham Forest won for the second time in three matches as a 4-3 win over Southampton uprooted the Tricky Trees from the drop zone. Nothing was easy for the Trees, however, who three times went ahead by two goals with the Saints responding on each occasion to close the gap. Forest persevered, however, in front of their roaring home supporters at the City Gound where the home side has captured the last twelve points earned in its struggle for survival. Seven of Nottingham Forest’s eight wins this season have come at the City Ground. Southampton would now seem all but doomed with an eight-point gap to close on 18th place and a ticket for next year’s Premier League.

Aston Villa has long been safe from the relegation feared when Manager Steven Gerrard was sacked back in October. The club’s hopes of a European berth under Manager Unai Emery, however, were damaged by a 1-0 loss to Wolverhampton on Saturday. It was the second consecutive defeat where Villa was unable to score, and Emery and the boys are now a point behind Brighton for the Europa Conference League slot and  three points south of sixth place Tottenham Hotspur and a possible Europa League berth. Wolverhampton is further down the table but its win over Aston Villa erased the unpleasant memory of a blowout loss to Brighton the week before and ensured safety for a Wolves side which was in the league’s basement and facing relegation on Christmas Day. The appointment of Manager Julen Lopetegui at Wolverhampton has proven one of several managerial changes which paid off in the Premier Leage this season. Roberto De Zerbi, Gary O’Neil, Unai Emery and Roy Hodgson are others who took over clubs at different points this season and have enjoyed success.

Frank Lampard hadn’t experienced any success at Chelsea this season, but he got his first win after six losing efforts with a 3-1 defeat of Bournemouth Saturday. Chelsea’s first win since March 11th mathematically ensured that Chelsea is safe to try again in the league next season. Connor Gallagher, Benoit Badiashile, and Jao Felix scored for a Chelsea side which had scored just twice in its previous nine matches across all competitions.

Harry Kane has no problem consistently finding the net. The Tottenham Hotspur legend broke a tie with Wayne Rooney by scoring his 209th goal in a 1-0 Spurs win over Crystal Palace and now trails only Allen Shearer in Premier League career goals scored. Kane now has 26 league goals this season, trailing only Erling Haaland for the Golden Boot. Unpredictable Spurs ended a four-match winless run to reassert themselves in the chase for European places. Tottenham Hotspur is now two points ahead of Brighton for a Europa League berth, but the Seagulls still have two matches in hand. Aston Villa, three points back currently, could still reverse their recent fortunes and knock Spurs out of Europe altogether.  

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