Sports - Football - Premier League - Week 23
The 23rd week of the 2019-2020 Premier League season saw:
22 goals - most by Wolves = 3
244 shots - most by Man City = 25
83 on target - most by Leicester = 8
100 corners - most by Man City = 14
219 fouls - most by Chelsea and Burnley = 14 each
32 bookings - most by Spurs, Brighton, Villa and Man United = 3 each
2 red cards - Cook for Bournemouth and Godfrey for Norwich
4 penalties - 2 scored (Pukki for Norwich, Jiménez for Wolves)
The home side frustrated the hell out of their guests in the Saturday lunchtime London derby. The first half didn’t serve much chances for either side, the Hornets well organised and not giving Spurs much space or any way into the game. Étienne Capoue’s challenge on Japhet Tanganga was only cautioned (36’), a lot of social media reaction felt it should have been a red, another VAR fail for many, the crowd included, making their feelings clear with their chants after the incident. (I feel it’s not the video technology that's the problem, it’s the officials of the FA that are proving themselves incompetent to deal with it week in week out.) Troy Deeney missed the golden opportunity from the spot, Paulo Gazzaniga’s dive to his right gifted the keeper an easy push away (69’). Modern technology helped Watford again late on, goal-line technology showing Erik Lamela’s low shot had not crossed the line completely - it was 10.4mm on the line, a good clearance by debutant Ignacio Pussetto (90+2’)! It stayed goalless, José Mourinho must have watched a different game saying they deserved more, I saw his side were just not good enough, regardless of any refereeing mistakes, whilst Nigel Pearson will be a more gutted his robust side didn’t take all points. The stalemate ended a run of 93 Premier League games without a goalless draw for Tottenham, the second longest run in the competition's history (Man Utd, 114 games ending May 2002).
18-year-old Gabriel Martinelli shot the Gunners ahead just before the break (45’) with a tap in after seeing Bukayo Saka’s cross deflect off a United defender and loop over Dean Henderson. John Fleck’s powerful drive deflected and whacked the visitors level late on (84’), a first for him on the road, after the hosts failed to deal with the ball in the box. Without their suspended skipper Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Mikel Arteta's side were missing any real fire power, the Spaniard having just overseen one win in his first five league games in charge, his team stuck in tenth, whilst the bouncing Blades drop one place to seventh.
Leandro Tossard broke the deadlock for the home side, set up by Neal Maupay, converted into the bottom corner with his left foot, past new loanee keeper Pepe Reina (39’). Born and bread Villan Jack Grealish equalised with a left-footed whacker (76’). The Spanish stopper made a top save late on, play and tempers flared, but it stayed 1-1. The hosts ended more disappointed, dropping one place to 15th, whilst the visitors were more chuffed, avoiding defeat and remaining 18th, just one point separating them from West Ham and Watford in 16th and 17th respectively.
The Citizens dominated, but the Eagles coped well. Cenk Tosun headed the home side ahead against the run of play, off a corner and Gary Cahill’s header, ping, pong, across, right, across, left and in, all over City there (39’). Pep Guardiola’s 49th birthday ruined?! It tolled like they would get a penalty saviour, Jaïro Riedewald handball - but nope, the VAR seeing and saying no handball, no pen, as the player made no move toward the ball, the ball was ping-ponging so quick, he couldn’t have avoided it! Brave but right call, especially at the Etihad (71’). Non-other than Sergio Agüero slid home an equaliser eventually (82’), lighting up the sound and ground. And of course, it was the Argentine legend who headed and bounced the second in off the grass (87’). Another goal, another brace, when will the statue be built? 250th goal in 360 games, fourth highest in PL history. It would have been harsh on Roy Hodgson’s side. But even the old man couldn't deny all the Citizens' dominance nearly paid off and would have served his Spanish counter part the perfect birthday cake, if it weren't for Wilfried Zaha (90’)! The last-minute equaliser was actually an own goal, deflected in off Fernandinho, to end the game a goal and point each, the crazy ending keeping Palace in ninth and City in second.
It was a cagey affair at Carrow Road. Steve Cook was sent off for the visitors after blocking Ondrej Duda’s attempt with his hand - it was a great acrobatic save by the defender, not much for the VAR to check and confirm. Teemu Pukki netted the following penalty to give the home side the lead against the struggling Cherries (33’). Then Canaries defender Ben Godfrey was sent for an early shower for a serious foul on Callum Wilson, after referee Paul Tierney consulted the VAR and pitch-side screen (77’), much better and clearer that way, it was a dangerous tackle, the replay made it clear(er). The bottom side ended their nine-match winless run, their dominance finally paying off, recording their first clean sheet in 16 PL home games. Meanwhile, Eddie Howe's worries and struggles continue, his side having failed to score in four consecutive top-flight games for the first time ever, and lost 10 our of their last 12 top-flight games (W1 D1) after just losing one of the seven before that (W3 D3). Slump.
What a cross by James Ward-Prowse and what a goal by Jan Bednarek to open the scoring for the hosts at St Mary’s, leaving Wolves keeper Rui Patrício completely help- and hopeless (15’). Shane Long doubled the Saints’ lead heading the ball into the far corner for his first PL goal of the season (35’). Pedro Neto pulled one back for the visitors after the break, with a nice spin and fire in (53’), just after the Saints had hit the woodwork as well. And Raúl Jiménez levelled the score from the spot (65’) after Jack Stephens and Cédric Soares both brought down Jonny. And the Nuno Espírito Santo’s side completed an unbelievable comeback, Jiménez again, the Mexican striker slotting home the winner unmarked from the centre of the box (76’). RJ has been directly involved in 27 goals for Wolves in all competitions this season (18 goals, 9 assists), more than any other PL club in 2019-2020. What a fightback, seeing Wolves up to sixth, level on points with Man United in fifth, whilst Southampton slump to 13th, six points away from the drop zone.
Both teams were at it at the London Stadium, Robert Snodgrass coming close a couple of times, got one in, but flagged just offside about halfway through the first half. Issa Diop gave the Hammers the lead eventually, off Snodgrass’ lovely free kick (40’). But Dominic Calvert-Lewin equalised soon after for the Toffees, with an easy header from close range (44’). Fans protested about the ownership on the 10-year anniversary of the takeover by David Sullivan and Gold, overseeing their side share a goal and point each with manager David Moyes' former team, the result keeping both sides in 16th and 11th respectively.
The Magpies hit the woodwork 20 minutes in. That was it really. Until the 94th minute, the first Newcastle corner, cleared by Willian, but not far, Allan Saint-Maximin picking it up and putting a fine cross into the box, for a clear header down and in by Isaac Hayden, unbelievable! Steve Bruce chuffed, Frank Lampard less so. I’m still thinking I blinked and thought this up, but no, it actually happened! St James’ Park absolute bonkers! This is Newcastle's first 90th-minute winner in a Premier League match since December 2015 against Tottenham, when Ayoze Pérez struck. The three points lift them up to 12th in the table, seven points clear of the relegation zone. Massive victory.
It was an even competition in the Super Sunday early kickoff at Turf Moor, until Harvey Barnes broke the deadlock for the visitors, running through the back four and hitting the ball through under keeper Nick Pope, who should have kept that one out (33’). Former Fox Chris Wood headed the hosts back into the game (56’). Jamie Vardy was denied from the spot after Benjamin Mee was booked for taking down Barnes in the box, harsh but Pope made up for his earlier muck-up (69’). Ashley Westwood smacked in the winner, his first ever goal at the ground, a boomer from the centre of the box (79’). Brilliant comeback win for Sean Dyche and his men taking then up to 14th, whilst Brendan Rodgers’ Foxes keep stumbling but stay in third, six points clear of Chelsea in fourth, three points behind City in second.
The Reds bossed and rocked Anfield in the Super Sunday clash against their arch rivals. Virgil van Dijk headed the league leaders in front (14’). Roberto Firmino thought he had doubled their lead with a beauty of a curler from the edge of the box into the far corner of the net, for the VAR to spoil the party, disallowing the goal for a foul by VvD on David de Gea in the six-yard box (25'). Harsh. Soft. Contact, yes. Foul, no. The keeper got the ball, before he just collapsed. Pathetic. Georginio Wijnaldum had the ball in the net (35'), but the flag was up and the VAR confirmed offside, by half an inch of an armpit. Pf. Mo Salah missed a sitter from close range (48') and the Red Devils stopper and the woodwork denied Jordan Henderson (49'). The hosts could and should have been four or five goals clear. But the Kop had to wait till injury time, the final seconds, Alisson setting up Salah with a long clearance, the great Egyptian making no mistake this time, a fine run and catching out de Gea, to double their lead and spark wild celebrations (I couldn’t get enough of the celebration videos on Twitter). Jürgen Klopp was still quite humble in the post-match interview, but can’t deny how unbelievable this run is, 21 wins out of 22 games this season, 91 of a possible 93 points (P31 W30 D1), still unbeaten, 16 points clear at the top, with a game in hand, more records tumbling all over the place. Simply the best. Top. Ole Gunnar Solskjær’s face said it all, blank stare, his side slipping and sliding nowhere, nowhere near their arch rivals, 30 points between the two clubs. Flop.
My Predictions - Actual Results
Watford 2:2 Tottenham - 0:0
Arsenal 2:1 Sheffield United - 1:1
Brighton 2:0 Aston Villa - 1:1
Man City 2:1 Crystal Palace - 2:2
Norwich 2:1 Bournemouth - 1:0
Southampton 2:2 Wolves - 2:3
West Ham 2:2 Everton - 1:1
Newcastle 2:1 Chelsea - 1:0
Burnley 0:2 Leicester - 2:1
Liverpool 2:0 Man United - 2:0