Article by Samuel Hodgkiss @SamuelHodgkiss
With managerial sackings and replacements, Derby Day weekend and VAR taking centre stage, this week has left us with a lot to discuss, all of which you can find right here on the Premier League Weekly Roundup.
Things kicked off this week with the midweek fixtures being played, with many of these being critical for clubs at both ends of the table. Everton began this week by finally grabbing themselves 3 point after a 3-0 win at Cardiff City, lifting their hopes for the upcoming derby on Sunday. Elsewhere on Tuesday evening, struggling Huddersfield Town completed a surprise double over high-flying Wolves with a last-minute 1-0, and Newcastle continuing their good form with a comfortable 2-0 win at home to Burnley.
Tuesday was also the day where Brendan Rodgers was announced as the new Leicester City manager after his transfer from Celtic, with former manager Claude Puel being sacked just a few days before. Leicester also played a game on the same evening, all be it without newly appointed Rodgers, and came out 2-1 winners over Brighton & Hove Albion.
Onto Wednesday and the rest of the midweek fixtures being played. Arsenal saw themselves thump a Bournemouth side who are simply awful away from home 5-1, with all 5 of Arsenal’s goals being scored by different players and giving them a boost going into their game at Wembley on Saturday. Furthermore, the race for a top 4 spot continued as Chelsea beat Spurs 2-0, with a brilliant solo goal from Pedro and an awful own goal from Kieran Trippier being enough for Chelsea on the night. This game also saw Chelsea goalkeeper Kepa be dropped after his actions on Sunday in the Carabao Cup Final, with Sarri saying it was a clear message to all his players. Manchester United also continued their brilliant form in the league and built momentum for a 4th place finish after they won 3-1 away at an in-form Crystal Palace, with a Lukaku double helping them getting the 3 points.
In matters affecting the bottom of the table, Southampton beat Fulham 2-0 in what could prove a massive 3 points for the Saints come May, and the same could be said for Manchester City who beat West Ham United 1-0 thanks to a Sergio Aguero penalty. They however did not remain on top of the table as Liverpool saw of Watford 5-0 in an emphatic victory at Anfield, a great response to the 0-0 at Old Trafford the previous weekend. A stunning backheel goal from Sadio Mane, 2 goals for centre-back Virgil Van Dijk and a hat-trick of assists for young Trent Alexander-Arnold helped the reds get over the line with ease and set up an interesting weekend with the small matter of the Merseyside Derby to be played.
Thursday saw the news that Fulham manager Claudio Ranieri had been dismissed by the club, having won only 3 of 17 matches whilst at the club. This left then assistant manager Scott Parker to take over as caretaker manager, with his first game in charge being local rivals Chelsea at home.
The weekends action began with a highly anticipated North London Derby at Wembley. A solo goal from soon to be Juventus midfielder Aaron Ramsey gave Arsenal the lead at half-time. However, a dubious penalty was awarded for Tottenham after Shkodran Mustafi brought down Harry Kane in the box, although upon replays it was clear that Kane, along with 3 other Spurs players were in offside positions. Without VAR, this was not overruled, and Kane scored the penalty. This just goes to show for me how important VAR is when its implemented next season, as that decision changed this game all together. Arsenal did get a chance to steal the 3 points with their own penalty in the last minute, however Aubameyang failed to execute the chance with a tame penalty straight at Hugo Lloris. A late red card for Arsenal’s Lucas Torreira was the last action of a controversial derby.
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Saturday also saw title-chasers Manchester City in action, and they managed to beat Bournemouth by 1 goal to nil. On the surface it might seem not the best scoring result for City, however take into consideration that Bournemouth did not even create a single chance throughout the whole game, it was seemingly an easy and convincing win for Guardiola’s men, putting the pressure therefore back onto Liverpool. The other Manchester side also played on Saturday, having to score a last-minute winner to beat of a struggling Southampton 3-2, thanks to the winner from Romelu Lukaku. Valery’s wonder strike gave the Saints a 1-0 lead at half-time and will feel like they deserved more out of this tricky fixture.
The other results from Saturday saw Brighton beat Huddersfield 1-0, Palace win emphatically away at Burnley 3-1, Wolves get back to winning ways with a 2-0 win over Cardiff and West Ham beat fellow in-form Newcastle 2-0.
Sunday saw Brendan Rodgers take charge of his first game for Leicester City, and it would not be a walk in the park as his team travelled to Vicarage Road to play Watford. A last-minute winner from Watford striker Andre Gray gave Watford the 2-1 victory, in a game where Leicester really could have gone on to actually win the game themselves and would have frustrated Rodgers massively you can imagine.
The first of the derby double-headers saw Scott Parker’s Fulham side host Chelsea at Craven Cottage. Chelsea boss Maurizio Sarri bring back in goalkeeper Kepa after he was dropped in midweek, and luckily this change didn’t prove costly as Chelsea came out 2-1 winners and continue to remain close to the pack fighting for 3rd and 4th place.
The final game of the weekend was the pick of the bunch, with Everton hosting local rivals Liverpool, making inly the short journey across Stanley Park to play at Goodison. In a highly contested game in a loud atmosphere, the game finished 0-0. This ultimately will be seen as 2 points dropped for Liverpool, as we had the chances in that game to win it, especially chances that fell to Mo Salah.
However, is it the end of the world like some Liverpool fans will make it out to believe? No!! Are we still only 1 point behind City? Yes!! This game here was our 5th clean sheet in as many games, and if we can continue that then we clearly still have a chance to get this league, but as a set of supporters this is the time to get behind this team and unite for the same cause, to help the boys feel boss so they play boss and hopefully lift the trophy come May.
The weekends results leave City 1 point ahead on Liverpool having played the same number of games, this being the first time since December this has happened. Spurs remain 3rd with United bringing up 4th place, leaving Arsenal a point behind in 5th and Chelsea in 6th, all be it Chelsea have a game in hand over the above, and winning so will leapfrog them above United into 4th. Towards the bottom of the table, wins for Palace and Brighton were massive in separating themselves from the bottom three, and Southampton remain just 2 point clear of Cardiff in 17th, where that point dropped in Manchester would have been very useful indeed to bridge the gap to three.
The next fixtures in the Premier League will be next weekend, where the pick of the games sees Arsenal host Manchester United, and 6th place Chelsea host 7th place Wolves.
Article by Samuel Hodgkiss @SamuelHodgkiss