Fans will have enjoyed this weekend’s Premier League action, as always there was some fantastic football on display and plenty of drama. Here is a brief look at some of the weekend’s most noteworthy occurrences.
Burnley’s Defence Keep City at Bay
— Burnley FC (@BurnleyOfficial) February 3, 2018
It was Burnley’s right-back Matthew Lowton together with the left-winger Johann Berg Gudmundsson that gave the team an equaliser against Manchester City on Saturday. However, the team’s captain, Ben Mee, rightly reserved his praised for the non-scoring strikers. Ashley Barnes has scored just four goals in 28 games this season and Sam Vokes has failed to score for three months but the team has some of the league’s best defence forwards. After the game Mee said, “The two boys up top did really well, hassling and harrying them. Those were our tactics; go with two boys up top and get the ball forward and try to disrupt them.” It seems that against City attack really is the best form of defence. All four teams that have taken points off City, Everton, Crystal Palace, Liverpool and Burnley, have had two or three excellent forwards on the pitch.
Sam Allardyce Gives Up On Everton’s Season
Everton lost 5 – 1 to Arsenal on Saturday with a performance that boss Sam Allardyce labelled as “crap”. He knew his comments would provoke headlines but justified them saying, “In the dressing room you can’t defend the indefensible”. Following the performance Allardyce did his best to lower expectations for the rest of the season with remarkably candid comments, “These players have had a lot of changes and a lot of pressure and a lot of games under their belt. Not only new faces on the pitch but new faces behind the scenes. So, let’s write this season off as quick as we can by staying in the Premier League and then sort it out for the start of next season. Too many inconsistencies in our performance levels at the moment.”
Liverpool’s Defence Finally Get it Right
Watch all 21 of Salah's @premierleague goals so far 😍
— Liverpool FC (@LFC) February 5, 2018
Liverpool’s defence has come in for a lot of criticism over the last few months but against Spurs on Sunday night they finally seemed to start getting things right. They managed to hold off Spurs for most of the game with Dejan Lovren and Virgin van Dijk making important blocks. They could have been quicker closing down Victor Wanyama when the substitute scored his equaliser, but when goalkeeper Loris Karius saved Harry Kane’s penalty it finally looked as if the teams defence had pulled together. Liverpool were unlucky when Spurs were awarded their second penalty. Ultimately it cost them two points and a ruined an evening in which Liverpool should have felt good about their defending.
West Bromwich Need to Turn Things Around
🎥 "Southampton were the better side."
Brunty has his say.
— West Bromwich Albion (@WBA) February 3, 2018
In November, when Tony Pulis was sacked, West Bromwich were just one point above the relegation zone. Now they are at the bottom of the league table and four points below Huddersfield. Nonetheless, most people agree that Pulis needed to go and since his departure the team does seem to have improved in many ways under Alan Pardew. There is still time for them to avoid relegation and they will benefit from the return of Jonny Evans and Grzegorz Krychowiak next week. Krychowiak seems to be finding form and there were moments of brilliance during Saturday’s game, something that would have been unlikely if Pulis was still in charge.
Crystal Palace’s Christian Benteke Just Can’t Score
— Crystal Palace F.C. (@CPFC) February 5, 2018
In the ninth minute of Crystal Palace’s match against Newcastle United Christian Benteke found himself one-on-one with the goalkeeper. However, Karl Darlow easily blocked his shot. Later in the game Benteke had a header cleared off the line by Ciaran Clack. It just seems like Benteke can’t score this season. Palace’s manager, Roy Hodgson, has praised Benteke’s all-round game but strikers need to score and Benteke has managed just two goals in twenty matches. After the game Hodgson said, “Benteke will be bitterly disappointed he didn’t take those chances”. Having signed Alexander Sorloth on the last day of the transfer window Palace now has another option up front, a fact that will only increase the pressure on Benteke.
Dembélé Begins to Flourish for Spurs
It was already clear that Mousa Dembélé was a very good midfielder but over the last week and a half he seems to have moved things up a gear. He is a player that always looks as if he should be a dominant force in every game but until recently he failed to live up to expectations. However, he was dominant in the middle of last week and over the weekend at Anfield he was even more impressive. He got better as the game went on and became crucial for Spurs in the second half, keeping his team moving forward and helping his teammates to perform better. The question remains whether he will be able to continue this next weekend when Spurs host Arsenal and then maintain it for their visit to Juventus a few days later.
Huddersfield Need to Raise Their Game
Watching Huddersfield against Manchester United this weekend it became clear why they are stuck in the relegation zone. At half time the team were level with United but they could have been winning if manager David Wagner had been a little braver. As the second half progressed United’s victory looked to be inevitable and Huddersfield looked less and less like the team that defeated United in October. Wagner has done well to bring Huddersfield back in to the Premier League for the first time in over forty years but he needs to move the team up a few gears if they are going to remain in it.
Bournemouth Continue Their Turnaround
Just a few weeks ago Bournemouth looked to be in real trouble. They lost 4 – 0 to Manchester City and Liverpool and looked to be stuck in the bottom three. However, they have since won fifteen points from just seven games and are now seven points safely above the relegation zone. Given how the bottom of the table is looking, things would have to really fall apart for Bournemouth to re-enter the bottom three. They fell behind against Stoke City on Saturday but came from behind with a winner scored by Lys Mousset, a forward who had not scored a league goal in 18 months since he arrived from Le Havre. Bournemouth coach Eddie Howe is committed to improving his team through coaching rather than transfers and from the way things are going, his approach seems to be doing the trick.
Carlos Carvalhal Continues Swansea City’s Rejuvenation
Swansea City continued their comeback this weekend securing a draw against Leicester City and climbing out of the relegation zone. They are now unbeaten in seven games in all competitions and their performance this weekend was a real improvement on the first half of the season. The way Carvalhal has turned things around is truly impressive, especially as he is working with the same squad that was stuck at the bottom of the table for much of the season. When he took over at the end of December Swansea looked set for relegation and speaking about it recently he said, “When we arrived the team was almost dead. I wasn’t in the crematorium but the team was there. The funeral car was waiting. But when we won at Watford we started breathing and after this the players are believing. The psychological part of the team is very strong now.”
Chris Hughton Calls on Pascal Gross To Score More Goals
David Moyes was getting ready to introduce Jordan Hugill into the game when Pascal Gross scored a fantastic goal and ended West Ham United’s chances of securing a draw against Brighton & Hove Albion. It was a brilliant strike from the midfielder and came after he had created the opening goal for Glenn Murray in the eighth minute of the game. However, Chris Hughton wants to see even more from the player. Brighton’s winless run coincided with Gross’ drop in form since he scored the only goal against Watford towards the end of December. However, this weekend he looked to be back at his best. After the game Hughton said, “With the finishing ability he has arguably he should score more goals. That type of player can be a bit hit and miss, that is the nature of that position. With Pascal there is always that balance. He is not going to sprint past players but has a lovely ability on the ball and he gives the team so much.”
The week ahead is relatively quiet for football fans. However, next weekend is full of exciting looking games and the Champions League returns next week. Make sure you don’t miss out on any of the action.