Written by: Samuel Hodgkiss
In the week that saw action in the Premier League and European competitions, individual brilliance and the title race really heating up, there was lots of great football to enjoy.
The action began on Monday evening as Chelsea beat West Ham United 2-0 at Stamford Bridge. It was a superb individual run from Eden Hazard that opened the scoring, before it was the Belgian again who popped up to finish his brace with a smart finish. In what was a fine performance from Hazard, cries of “Eden Hazard, he’s off to Madrid” circulated the away end of the stadium as Hammers fans, as well as many up and down the country, seem to believe these performances will earn him the well speculated move to Madrid. However, Hazard quickly hushed these rumours and has committed his future for the near future to be Chelsea and Chelsea only.
Tuesday evening saw European action take centre stage as Liverpool won 2-0 in a comfortable home victory to Portuguese side Porto. An early goal from Naby Keita kicked things off for the reds, only for Bobby Firmino to add a second before the half-hour mark. Liverpool would have liked to have scored more in the game, however taking this result to Portugal gives them a real chance of progressing into the Champions League Semi-Finals.
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As for ‘The Battle of Britain’, Spurs came out 1-0 winners at home to Manchester City. In the 1st European game at the new stadium, things didn’t start so well as a Danny Rose handball gifted City a penalty which Aguero would take, and ultimately miss as Hugo Lloris saved to rescue Spurs from conceding an away goal. It took till the 78th minute before Heung-Min Son scored with a lovely driven shot below Ederson, meaning he has scored the first Premier League and European goals at the stadium. This result sets up a well-poised 2nd leg in Manchester this week.
Wednesday saw Manchester United in action as they lost 1-0 at home to Lionel Messi’s Barcelona. It was the little magician who created the only goal of the game on 12 minutes as his cross found the head of Luis Suarez who headed towards goal, for a slight deflection of Luke Shaw giving it enough to get over the line, all be it after a check from VAR of course. Apart from this, the game was fairly bland and provided little chances, as both Barcelona and United were not reaching past 3rd gear. Barcelona however would have taken the win at Old Trafford and will be looking to get the job done in the Camp Nou to meet either Liverpool or Porto in the Semis.
Thursday saw the Europa League Quarter-Finals take place as Arsenal bounced back from the disappointment at Goodison Park to beat Napoli 2-0 at the Emirates. Goals from Aaron Ramsey and a Kalidou Kouilbaly O.G were enough to give Arsenal the advantage, which after recent away form you’ll think they will need as they travel to Naples. As for Chelsea, they left it late in Prague but went away win a 1-0 win thanks to Marcus Alonso’s strike in the 86th minute. This result you feel will be enough for Chelsea as they should beat Slavia Prague you feel quite comfortably at the Bridge in the reverse fixture.
Friday saw the 1st game of the Premier League this weekend as Newcastle United beat Leicester City 1-0 thanks to a brilliant Ayoze Perez header after a wicked cross from Matt Ritchie. This result has worked wonders for Rafa and his men as this lifts them 10 points away from the relegation zone and all but safe, showing the brilliant job the Spaniard is doing with the little funds he’s been given by owner Mike Ashley. As for Leicester, they will look back on this as a missed opportunity to advance further in their pursuit for 7th spot and a potential Europa League spot in the league.
Onto the weekends action and the 3:00pm kick-offs. The best of the bunch from these games was down at Brighton as they were humiliated by Bournemouth, losing 5-0. Saturday also saw Spurs thump already relegated Huddersfield Town 4-0, with Lucas Moura scoring a Hat-Trick, the 1st at the new stadium. Elsewhere, Southampton continued their good form as they beat mentally worn-out Wolves 3-1, Burnley all but sealed safety as they beat Cardiff City 2-0, already relegated Fulham without pressure beat Everton 2-0 and Manchester United were lucky to get a 2-1 win at home to West Ham, thanks to kind decisions from officials and two Paul Pogba penalties.
Super Sunday was seen as being a pivotal day in the title race, as City travelled to Palace and Liverpool hosted Chelsea. In the earlier game in London, City eased to 3-1 victory thanks to a first Premier League away brace from Raheem Sterling, and Gabriel Jesus getting the 3rd late on. A Luka Milivojević free-kick 10 minutes from time setup a feisty finish, however City handled it well and left with all 3 points, moving them back at the top of the league.
Liverpool would then host Chelsea as they looked to regain top of the Premier League, and they managed to do just that as they beat a well drilled Chelsea side 2-0. A minute silence was held at the beginning of the game to respect the 96 who died 30 years ago today in Sheffield, as well as the passing of the late Tommy Smith, a Liverpool Legend.
The first-half was fairly even as both sides defended well and gave each other little in terms of chances created, but it was Sadio Mane who opened the scoring on 51 minutes thanks to brilliant play from skipper Jordan Henderson, leaving Sadio with a simple header into the goal from close-range. The second Liverpool goal was something to behold, as Mo Salah received the ball from the left, cut inside and rocketed a strike into the top corner at the Kop End. This result gives Liverpool a massive boost in spirits that we can actually win the league and puts pressure back on City as they move back onto the top of the Premier League.
Written by: Samuel Hodgkiss