Good morning and welcome to Monday. We were treated to another good weekend of Premier League action. How nice is it to have it back? It’s so, so good to have football to watch, it makes enduring the terrible international break worthwhile.
Saturday began at Selhurst Park, where Liverpool had to come from a goal down against Crystal Palace. Luka Milivojevic’s first half penalty gave the Eagles the lead, and they hung onto that lead for a while. Sadio Mane scored four minutes into the second half to equalise for the Reds, while Mo Salah (of course) scored six minutes from time to give them all three points.
Palace almost got out of the game with a point, but it wasn’t to be in the end. They’ve pushed a few of the top six sides at Selhurst Park, with Spurs, Man Utd and Liverpool all needing late goals, but they all managed to win the game in the end. Palace are 17th, just two points clear of the relegation zone and have played a game more than Southampton. Staying up will definitely be a challenge for them, but I think they have what it takes. Playing Stoke and West Brom in their last two could make a difference.
Liverpool’s win, coupled with Spurs’ win against Chelsea, should see them have a top four place nailed down. They’re now 10 points clear of the Blues, and even though they have played a game more, they should be fine. Their attention now turns to Wednesday’s Champions League quarter-final with Man City. We’ll have a look at that a bit more in the coming days.
Man Utd beat Swansea 2-0 at Old Trafford to stay in second. They will have to keep winning if they want to finish second, but they will definitely finish in the top four anyway. They’re off to the Etihad next week to play Man City, and they need to get something from that game or City will win the league! There’s no way they want City to win the league against them, and they’ll be doing everything they can to stop them.
Swansea are still in a bit of trouble, and are 15th. They’re three points clear of the relegation zone.
Burnley beat West Brom as they continued their fight to finish seventh, ahead of Leicester and Everton. They’re three points clear of the Foxes, so there could be an interesting battle there. West Brom are gone, there’s no point getting into that too much.
Leicester beat Brighton 2-0 to keep the pressure on Burnley. But it’s Brighton that I’ll be worried about a bit more. I have them down as being safe, and they’re six points clear of the drop, but they have an awful run-in. I think they could do with another win to make sure of it. They’re at home to Huddersfield next week, so maybe that’s when they’ll get that win.
Huddersfield were beaten 1-0 by Newcastle at St James’ Park. You’d have to imagine the Magpies are safe now, as they’re seven points clear of the bottom three. Huddersfield aren’t though, and could be in trouble. They’re just three points clear of Southampton and have played a game more than the Saints. It could end up being very tight down there.
In a mid-table clash that didn’t really mean a lot in the grand scheme of things, Watford and Bournemouth drew 2-2 at Vicarage Road.
West Ham had a good day at the London Stadium this week. It was nothing like the last game they played there when they were hammered 3-0 by Burnley and there were pitch invasions and all the rest. This week, in a game that was huge for the relegation battle, they went out and battered Southampton and won 3-0. The win has lifted the Irons all the way up to 14th, and they’re now five points clear of the Saints.
There’s no underestimating how big that win was for this football club. If they were beaten and dropped into the bottom three I’m not sure they would have recovered. There could have been more ugly scenes and the players’ heads would have dropped further. I’m not sure they would have had what it takes to lift themselves back up and turn things around. But they got the win, and that will set themselves up nicely for the rest of the season. One more win could see them safe, but they travel to Chelsea next week. If they took anything from that game it would be huge. They play Stoke the week after so maybe they’ll get it done then.
What does it mean for Southampton though? It’s not the result they needed at all. They needed to hit the ground running under Mark Hughes, but that hasn’t happened. To make matters worse, they’re off to Arsenal next week, and Chelsea the week after. Things aren’t great down on the south coast at the moment, and I’m not sure if they’re going to turn it around. The sides above them aren’t completely out of reach either though, so there’s still hope for them. But they need to sort things out quickly.
Man City continued being amazing, and beat Everton 3-1 at Goodison Park in Saturday’s late kick-off. Leroy Sane opened the scoring with a brilliant volley, while Gabriel Jesus and Raheem Sterling also scored to give City a 3-0 half-time lead. Jesus’ goal was a header, that hit Jordan Pickford’s shoulder on the way in. The ‘keeper should have done so much better, and he’ll be extremely disappointed with himself. But when I pulled the highlights up from an American channel, whoever the co-commentator was said: “Nothing Pickford could do about that.” I’m not sure about that one!
There’s no need to analyse this one too much, because it doesn’t mean all that much, but the big talking point is that Man City will win the league next week if they manage to beat Man United. That’ll be interesting! I’ll have a look at that closer to the time.
Onto Sunday now, and it began with Arsenal beating Stoke 3-0 at the Emirates. The Gunners weren’t anywhere near as comfortable as the scoreline suggests though. It was 0-0 until the 75th minute, when Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang scored a penalty. I don’t think the penalty should have been awarded though. Mesut Ozil ran into the box, with Bruno Martins-Indi chasing him. Martins-Indi put a challenge in and got the ball, but also caught Ozil. The German went down and the referee pointed to the spot. It looked a fair challenge to me though.
It completed changed the game, and Arsenal got another two after that. Aubameyang got another, while Alexandre Lacazette scored a second penalty. There’s no doubt in my mind that the second was a deserved penalty. Fair play to Aubameyang though. He had scored twice and was on a hat-trick when the second penalty was awarded. He let Lacazette take it though, because he knew it would mean more to him and would help his confidence. It was a nice gesture.
Stoke are still in a bad place though. They’re 19th, and are three points from safety. They don’t have a game in hand like Southampton do either. It’s going to be very, very difficult for them to stay up, and personally, I can’t see them doing it. It’s not the distance they are away from the sides above them that has me thinking that, as they’re only three points from safety. It’s the fact that they’ve been so poor this season, and I can’t see them turning it around now. Maybe they’ll go on a great run and pull off the great escape, but I would be shocked.
Spurs ended their run of misery at Stamford Bridge with a 3-1 win against Chelsea in the last game of the weekend. Alvaro Morata gave the Blues the lead, but a screamer of an equaliser from Christian Eriksen just before half-time drew them level. Dele Alli then scored twice in the second half to give Spurs the three points.
A couple of the goals were brilliant though. Morata had the simplest of tasks when he had to head into an empty net after Hugo Lloris completed missed the ball when Victor Moses crossed it in. But Eriksen’s goal was spectacular. He shot from around 25 yards, and the ball flew extremely high in the air, before dipping and curving and flying past Wily Caballero in the goal. It was amazing stuff from the Great Dane.
Dele Alli’s first goal was amazing as well. He made a run in behind the defence and Eric Dier picked him out really well with a long ball. But there was so much for Alli to do, as he had to take the ball down and beat Caballero, as well as fending off Azpilicueta and Christensen. But his touch was absolutely sublime, and he put the ball past Caballero with his second. It was brilliant stuff from the young midfielder.
He got a second, but this one wasn’t as glamorous. Son Heung-min was in on goal, and almost made a mess of it when he had a chance to square to Lamela for a tap-in. The ball ended up out with Alli though, who couldn’t miss. It was a huge win for Spurs, and they have ended their 28 year wait for a win at Stamford Bridge.
Their win basically means they have secured a top four finish now. They’re now eight points clear of Chelsea, with just seven games to play. I wouldn’t be worried in the slightest if I was them. They’ll go ahead of Liverpool and into third if they win their game in hand. Finishing third has to be the goal for them now, while they also have a chance of winning the FA Cup. A third place finish and the FA Cup would be a brilliant season for them in all honesty. We’ll see if they can manage it now.
Anyway, that’s it from me for today. It’s a bank holiday here as it’s Easter Monday, but I’m still in work so off I go. I’ll be back in the morning with more as we start to look forward to Wednesday’s Champions League clash between Liverpool and Man City. Until then, have a good one.