English Premier League 2019/2020 Matchday 27 Roundup
After the EPL's inaugural midseason break last weekend, all the 20 teams returned into action at the weekend in high spirits and looking to improve their points tallies and positions on the league table.
Probably even more than was expected, this matchday wasn't devoid of goals in any of the match centres, a point for argument the proponents of the midseason would find in their favour. The matchday was also one for clean sheets, with as many as 6 teams keeping clean sheets.
This EPL weekend was a highly entertaining one with loads of goals, great attacking football, superb goalkeeping and the ever-present influence of VAR decisions.
Here's our recap:
Chelsea 2 - 1 Tottenham Hotspur (Olivier Giroud 15', Marcos Alonso 48'; Antonio Rudiger 89' )
The weekend's opener at Stamford Bridge was a London derby which featured Chelsea players scoring at both ends of the pitch. The clash themed "Apprentice vs Master" saw Frank Lampard go up against Jose Mourinho for the 2nd time this season, hoping to be the first manager to ever win a league double over Jose Mourinho.
Mourinho was however looking to leapfrog his former student into 4th place. Mourinho's team struggled in the attacking third for large periods of the game; their lack of a traditional centre forward coming to bare again.
Lampard with a Centre forward injury problem of his own decided to give Giroud his third EPL start of the campaign, whilst boldly switching to a back three against Spurs for the 2nd time. His tactics were spot on as Giroud and Alonso each announced their recall to the starting eleven with a goal, to give the Blues' manager positive selection worries and a 1st win in 5 EPL matches.
Burnley 3 - 0 AFC Bournemouth (Matej Vydra 53', Jay Rodriguez 61' Pen, Dwight McNeil 87')
Relegation battlers Bournemouth took the trip to Turf Moor to face a Burnley side who hadn't tasted defeat in 4 matches. Eddie Howe and his lads will have taken the trip back home to Vitality stadium feeling hard done by and thinking of what could have been if not for VAR.
After supposedly going in front through Joshua King from a corner, VAR overturned the goal for a handball in the buildup and the first half ended goalless. Vydra with his 2nd consecutive goal in as many matches opened the scoring after missing a similar one in the 1st half.
The Cherries must have thought they had gotten an almost instant equaliser, but there was VAR, on hand again to hand the Cherries another villainous blow, overturning Harry Wilson's goal for an Adam Smith handball in his own box in the buildup.
With the game already firmly in the Clarets' favour after the converted resulting penalty, Sean Dyche's men sealed the win with a late goal to squeeze themselves into the top half of the table.
Sheffield United 1 - 1 Brighton and Hove Albion (Enda Stephens 26'; Neal Maupay 30')
Bramall lane witnessed another high octane performance as Sheffield were held by Brighton and secured their highest points tally after 27 matches. Not long after a thunderous shot from Stephens flew unstoppably into the roof of the net, Maupay was on hand to put his side level.
After the break each side's attack tried to make their presence known, but the defences proved supreme as Chris Wilder and Graham Potter shared the spoils to keep themselves in 7th and 15th place respectively.
Southampton 2 - 0 Aston Villa (Shane Long 8', Stuart Armstrong 90+5')
Southampton totally outplayed the Villans at Saint Mary's during Saturday's mid-noon joint kickoff, having a massive 28 shots on goal. The Saints took an early lead through Long who scored using the unlikeliest of body parts.
Unrelenting, Ralph Hassenhuttl's men continued to run the show but were denied time and again by the Villans defence and goalkeeper, Pepe Reina. Reina was however not in goal when the Saints sealed the win following a break from a Villa corner. Southampton remain in 12th while Dean Smith's men are not out of relegation woods yet in 17th.
Crystal Palace 1 - 0 Newcastle United (Patrick van Aanholt 44')
Crystal Palace were hosts to a Newcastle United side who hadn't scored in two consecutive EPL matches and their drought in front of goal was extended. Palace had themselves not given their fans joy recently as they were on a run of 7 EPL matches without a win.
Right from kickoff, the Eagles seemed to be the side more desperate for a goal, and despite good saves from Martin Dubravka, were in front through a delicious Van Aanholt top-corner freekick. The Eagles hit the post shortly after the restart and the Magpies' Valentino Lazaro was shown a red card for a goal-denying challenge on Wilfried Zaha late in the game.
Neither team was able to add to that sole goal, Van Aanholt failing to replicate his 1st half heroics with the last kick of the game, as his fine strike secured all 3 points for Roy Hodgson's men. Palace and Newcastle traded the 14th and 13th spots.
Leicester City 0 - 1 Manchester City (Gabriel Jesus 80')
Saturday's late kickoff was a clash between the Premier league's 2nd and 3rd best teams just 4 points apart. Jamie Vardy should have put Leicester ahead when sent through on goal, but his shot only came off the post.
City were awarded a penalty on the hour mark following a Dennis Praet handball in the box. The Citizens' penalty woes continue however as Sergio kun Aguero couldn't get his shot past Kasper Schmeichel in goal. City later got a deserved lead through Jesus's instant-impact substitution.
Riyad Mahrez on his return to the King Power Stadium provided the assist for Jesus's goal to stretch City's lead above the Foxes to 7 points.
Manchester United 3 - 0 Watford (Bruno Fernandes 42' Pen, Anthony Martial 58', Mason Greenwood 75')
Watford visited Old Trafford without a win in 4 EPL matches, seeking a league double over the Manchester United side who helped them start their short revival in mid December. United however were looking to avenge that defeat and move them closer to 4th spot.
The Red devils had kept 4 clean sheets in 5 matches in all competitions and were able to make it 5 in 6, with a performance orchestrated by Bruno Fernandes. Ole Gunnar Solksjaer must have been happy to have a slightly different team talk during the interval after Fernandes opened the scoring just before half timd with his first goal in Manchester Red colours after being brought down by Ben Foster in the box.
Watford thought they had equalised not long after the start of the 2nd half, but the goal was rightly overturned by VAR. Not long after that, Martial scored for the 3rd consecutive match in all competitions with a cheeky delicate lob over Foster.
Greenwood finalised matters later on, scoring his 11th senior goal with a rifled shot which went in off the crossbar. United climb to 5th with the avenging win, leaving Watford struggling for survival.
Wolverhampton Wanderers 3 - 0 Norwich City (Diogo Jota 19', 30', Raul Jimenez 50')
Bottom-placed Norwich with only 1 win in 13 EPL matches went to the Molineux seeking points to improve their tally and possibly prevent relegation. They were however hit hard by a Wolves team who were similarly ruthless in midweek as Diogo Jota took his week goal tallly to 5 in 2 matches in all competitions.
Nuno Espirito Santos' team dominated the match with Jota at the forefront, securing a league double over the Canaries. Daniel Farke's Canaries may just be accepting their relegation fate as they remain 7 points away from safety, while Wolves remain 8th.
Arsenal 3 - 2 Everton (Eddie Nketiah 27', Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang 33', 46'; Dominic Calvert-Lewin 1', Richarlison de Andrade 45+4')
Emirates Stadium for the 2nd match running witnessed a match which had loads of goals, telltale signs that Mikel Arteta may have just gotten this Arsenal team ticking as he would like. Sunday's late kickoff saw the deadlock broken just after 50 seconds, with a lovely acrobatic finish.
Arsenal were back on level terms just before the half-hour mark, Nketiah rewarding another start with a fine volleyed goal. Shortly after, Arsenal took the lead through their highest goalscorer. And just when it seemed they would be entering the break in the lead, Richarlison put Everton level.
The 2nd half got into gear faster than the 1st even did, Aubameyang heading the Gunners in front after just 24 seconds. Despite many attempts by the Toffees to get back in the game, Arsenal held firm to record back-to-back victories. Carlo Ancelloti's team drop to 11th and are replaced by Arsenal in 9th.
Liverpool 3 - 2 West Ham United (Georginio Wijnaldum 9', Mohamed Salah 68', Sadio Mane 81'; Issa Diop 12', Pablo Fornals 54')
West Ham went to Anfield in dismal form, without a win in 6 EPL matches. In a match very few expected them to compete in, West Ham were in the lead at a point, but the Reds once again showed mettle and resilience to force a win.
Less than a month after the reverse fixture was comfortably won by Liverpool, the Hammers put up much of a fight this time around, which would be motivation going forward.
Liverpool took an early lead and many would be forgiven for thinking that the Hammers were in for a long night. The Hammers responded almost instantly with a header of theirs and the 1st match fairly finished all square.
West Ham took the lead 9 minutes into the 2nd half and were good value for the lead while it lasted. They could however not keep the Reds out for long and Lukasz Fabianski was at fault for the equaliser, allowing a tame Salah shot slip through his hands.
The Reds kept pushing for a win and got the goal that would eventually seal the win, Mane tapping in Trent Alexander-Arnold's 12th league assist of the campaign. Mane thought he had gotten a 2nd but it was rightly disallowed for offside.
Liverpool still got their 18th consecutive league win, a joint PL record. West Ham remain 18th and the run-away leaders remain out of sight in 1st.
Featured Image Courtesy: premierleague.com