Written by: Samuel Hodgkiss
There was a lot of football played this week, including huge games for teams at the top and bottom of the Premier League, as well as one of the greatest Champions League games in history as Manchester City hosted Spurs at the Etihad Stadium.
Action began on Monday evening as Watford welcomed Arsenal to Vicarage Road. A game where many believed Watford would come away better off than Arsenal, this narrative didn’t go to plan thanks to Ben Foster, who dwelled on the ball for to long in his own box and upon clearance was intercepted by Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, who deflected the ball into the net on 10 minutes. Furthermore, just 1 minute later, Watford captain Troy Deeney was sent off due to an elbow, a silly moment for a player so crucial to the system Watford play, at such an important time of the season.
Tuesday evening saw a relegation six-pointer as Brighton & Hove Albion hosted Cardiff City at the AMEX, a stadium notoriously difficult to get points from. Cardiff City however put on a surprise 2-0 away victory thanks to goals from Nathaniel Mendez-Laing and Steve Morrison, putting pressure onto Brighton as Cardiff closed the gap to just 2 points.
16+ PODCASTS P/MONTH
12+ SHOWS P/MONTH
DAILY ARTICLES INC ‘SPECIAL GUEST WRITERS’
EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEWS – INC JURGEN KLOPP!
Pre and Post Match Shows
FREE month trial:https://buff.ly/2GNsNTv
The Champions League returned as Manchester United travelled to Barcelona with a 1-0 home deficit from a week earlier. This would also be the first-time manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer returned to Camp Nou since his famous goal in the 1999 Champions League Final. Things however were not as happy for United as they were back in 1999, as they lost 3-0 thanks to a Lionel Messi masterclass, all be it with a little help from David De Gea, and a Phillipe Coutinho wonder strike.
Wednesday saw Liverpool travel to Porto with a 2-0 advantage and managed to smash the Portuguese side 4-1 to go through 6-1 on aggregate. Mane scored the opener thanks to VAR, as Salah and Firmino completed goals for all the front-three. Virgil Van Dijk added a 4th late on to set the date for Liverpool v Barcelona in the Semi-Finals. This game however was somewhat over-shadowed by the other Quarter-Final at the Etihad as City played Spurs, who carry a 1-0 lead thanks to Son’s goal at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium a week earlier. With 5 goals in the first 21 minutes played, the quickest ever in Champions League history, the score on the night was 3-2 City, meaning Spurs were through on away goals. Sergio Aguero however scored on 59 minutes to put City back in control, before forced substitute Fernando Llorente to score with his hip on 73 minutes to then put Spurs back in control.
This was still not the end as in added-time, Raheem Sterling slotted in what looked to be the winning goal for City which sent everyone, including Pep Guardiola wild. However, this goal was not given thanks to VAR, meaning City missed out and Spurs qualified for the Semi-Finals to play Dutch side Ajax on away goals.
Thursday welcomed Europa League football as Chelsea beat Slavia Prague 4-3, with the aggregate score being 5-3. Arsenal also had success in the Europa League at Napoli as an Alexander Lacazette free-kick meant they won 1-0, giving them a 3-0 victory on aggregate, meaning both English teams will play in the Semi-Finals, only being able to meet each other if they both reach the Final in Azerbaijan.
The Premier League was in full flow at the weekend, opening with City playing Spurs again just 3 days after their Champions League clash, once again at the Etihad Stadium. This game was slightly different to the midweek clash, as Phil Foden scored the only goal of the game on 5 minutes, which was also his 1st PL goal for the club. This result put City back on top of the table, putting pressure back onto Liverpool to get a result at Cardiff. In the 3:00pm kick-offs, Fulham recorded their 1st PL away win this season as they beat Bournemouth 1-0 at the Vitality Stadium. Furthermore, Watford beat Huddersfield Town 2-1 to continue their push for 7th spot, West Ham drew at home 2-2 to Leicester City and Wolves were held to a frustrating 0-0 draw to Brighton.
In the evening kick-off, Newcastle beat Southampton 3-1 to all but seal their safety for this season, showing the great job that Rafa Benitez is doing. Ayoze Perez scored all 3 goals for Newcastle, giving him his 1st PL Hat-Trick for the Toon.
Sunday saw 3 games take place, with the first of the three seeing Everton smash Manchester United 4-0, as Ole’s wheels slowly begin to fall off. The utter capitulation from United has caused uproar for their supporters, but full credit to Everton as they played very well and dominated from first whistle to the last. United will need to bounce back quickly, as the Manchester Derby looms for them on Wednesday evening.
Sunday also saw Palace beat Arsenal at the Emirates stadium 3-2, with Christian Benteke scoring his 1st PL goal for the club in almost a year, and Shkodran Mustafi once again making an error that cost Arsenal a goal, which many prove crucial as the race for 4th spot seems to be the race for 6th spot, as all the teams are currently in awful form and losing on a regular occurrence. Liverpool however did not slip as Arsenal did as they regained top spot in the league as they beat Cardiff 2-0. Second-half goals from Gini Wijnaldum and a James Milner penalty sealed the victory, which puts huge pressure on City to get all 3 points as Old Trafford against a United side who need a reaction after their awful display at Goodison Park.
Chelsea host Burnley on Monday evening as they will look to capitalise on other teams losses this weekend, as a win will put them in 3rd spot, 2 points clear of Spurs in 4th.
Written by: Samuel Hodgkiss