Wins For Manchester United & Liverpool Keep The Pressure on Chelsea And Tottenham Hotspur

Posted: April 1, 2018 in Arsenal, Chelsea, Football, Liverpool, Manchester City, Manchester United, Opinion, Premier League, Tottenham Hotspur
Tags: , , ,

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It’s back! The Premier League has returned. After an enforced break during which we witnessed……..well…….nothing really except England and Scotland both won a meaningless game of football, (it’s the meaningful ones with which they have a problem), business as usual is restored to the nation.

The top six are all back in action and here we look at what has happened and what will happen in their games.

Saturday…..

Crystal Palace v Liverpool

The early game between Jürgen Klopp and Roy Hodgson’s teams was really a “must win” game for Liverpool whilst not quite being a “must not lose” game for Palace. Their run of games after this one should see them stay up with the minimum of discomfort.

Recent results between the two had proven that Liverpool can find it a difficult  in which to pick up three points.

The game itself was reasonably entertaining and the first half ended with Palace leading through a penalty awarded against Loris Karius for a foul on Wilfried Zaha. The spot-kick was despatched by Luka Milivojević and Liverpool, despite huffing and puffing, had never really threatened and went in one down.

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Wilfried Zaha – About to be clattered by Loris Karius for Palace’s penalty

Within four minutes of the restart, however, Liverpool were level through Sadio Mané for whom it was a case of “third time lucky”. He had already had a decent penalty appeal turned down and been booked for diving in the process, and he had seen a goal disallowed, correctly, for offside.

Eventually Mo Salah scored his customary goal and Liverpool, deservedly, collected the three points

Manchester United v Swansea

This one was a “must win” game simply because it was Manchester United and they were at home. Their own supporters make every game at Old Trafford a “must win” game even if the players and manager have been known to let them down occasionally.

With Paul Pogba and Alexis Sánchez recalled to the starting line up to combat the expected Swansea tactic of keeping ten men behind the ball, it was only five minutes before United scored through Romelu Lukaku.

Just after the twenty minutes mark United scored again with a much needed goal for Alexis Sánchez and, at this stage, a routine win was on the cards.

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Little & Large – United’s goalscorers!

The first half then petered out with Swansea lucky that United weren’t more creative as the visitors had been totally clueless.

The visitors were slightly less clueless in the second half and should have scored at least one. In fact, if it weren’t for David De Gea making this awful defence look good yet again, then the score could have been very different.

As it was a 2-0 win for United was about right.

Everton v Manchester City

The game at Goodison Park was not necessarily a “must win” for either team. Everton appear to be pretty safe and City are, to all intents and purposes, already champions and only a collapse of gargantuan proportions will prevent them from collecting the trophy sooner rather than later.

City started, as they often do, by taking the lead in five minutes. Leroy Sané was the scorer thanks to a pinpoint cross from David Silva.

After twelve minutes the lead was doubled when City broke quickly following Everton’s Yannick Bolasie missing an open goal. De Bruyne’s lofted pass to Gabriel Jesus was headed home emphatically by the Brazilian.

There then followed 25 minutes whereby little happened until City scored again courtesy of Raheem Sterling so, at half-time it was 0-3. Possession had been 80% with the Manchester club.

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City players celebrate Leroy Sané’s opener against Everton

The second half brought more of the same, in fact, at one stage, City’s possession had gone up to 90% so, of course, the inevitable happened and Everton scored, Yannick Bolasie this time converting a far more difficult chance than the one he had missed in the first half. The goal, for a short while, gave the home team renewed hope but City just stepped up their game management skills and saw out the win with relative ease.

So a meaningless Manchester derby next week will be hyped up to glory by the TV companies because City will win the title if they win the game.

Guess what? If they don’t win the game they will win the title the following week, so what does it really matter where they win it?

Sunday…..

Arsenal will face Stoke City in a game which is a “must not lose” for Paul Lambert’s side. The problem facing Stubborn Old Man is to get his players “up” for the game. They are not going to finish outside of the tip six but, equally, they are not going to finish inside the top four!

Assuming that Wenger will be replaced in the summer then the remainder of this season could, with the exception of the Europa League games, be a tad boring for the fans and The Emirates may not be full for a Premier League game again until next season. We shall see.

The “big” game of the weekend is the one at Stamford Bridge between Chelsea and Tottenham. Both teams need the win for different reasons. Chelsea need to try and get back into the top four and will only do so by winning games, particularly those against their nearest rivals. Tottenham need to stay in the top four so their first season in the new stadium doesn’t involve playing Europa League matches on a Thursday.

The fact that both teams need to win should be enough to ensure that the game ends in a draw!

And finally…..

Best wishes and a speedy recovery to Ron Atkinson’s favourite crab, Ray Wilkins. Although he actually scored a few goals in his career, the only one we remember was against Brighton in the 2-2 draw in the 1983 FA Cup final. That makes it our favourite!

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