Monday’s win at Burnley was an enormous second for West Ham. With Chelsea and Tottenham each profitable in very good trend over the week, the highlight was on the Hammers as they proceed to push for a European spot.
David Moyes was trustworthy from the beginning that West Ham could be going for all-out assault at Turf Moor. He made 5 adjustments to his beginning XI, three of which got here in assault with Manuel Lanzini, Said Benrahma and Michail Antonio.
And all three gamers have been nothing brief on sensational – Antonio scored twice and was awarded the Sky Sports Man of the Match award, whereas Benrahma nabbed an help and each gamers ought to have added extra. Lanzini was additionally on the cusp of a objective, however his general play was excellent.
Moyes has constructed up a repertoire of unimaginable attacking expertise in his squad – we have not even talked about Jesse Lingard, Jarrod Bowen or Tomas Soucek. West Ham additionally registered an eye-watering 22 photographs at Turf Moor and have been scintillating on the counter-attack.
West Ham have 4 form fixtures to safe themselves a European spot, and it seems to be like they’re choosing an attacking strategy. The return of Declan Rice will even shore issues up in midfield and provides them extra stability because the surge ahead.
But as Jamie Carragher stated on Monday Night Football: “If they get into the Europa League, it’s still fantastic, but the chance for West Ham to get into the Champions League? Go for it!”
Gareth Bale was unplayable in Tottenham’s 4-0 win over Sheffield United and took his Premier League tally to eight objectives within the final eight video games, however with that should come a way of what might need been this season.
The Welshman was alarmingly under-used by former boss Jose Mourinho, even when he had regained peak situation, and enjoying with freedom in a entrance 4 with Harry Kane, Heung-Min Son and Dele Alli, Spurs have been a continuing risk and a far cry from the pragmatic type that dogged Mourinho’s period.
After scoring his first Tottenham hat-trick since 2012, Bale informed Sky Sports: “It’s always nice to get another hat-trick and another match ball.
“I bear in mind my final hat-trick – Villa away I feel. It was some time in the past and it is good to get a hat-trick, however extra importantly it is three factors for the crew and we transfer on to the following one.
“It was a great performance by everyone especially Serge [Aurier, who provided two assists]. I said if it was three assists he could have the match ball.
“Winning at all times makes everybody completely satisfied and offers a profitable mentality to the dressing room. It’s not going to occur in a single day however I really feel like we’re taking a step in the correct route.
“Obviously you have to take your chances when they come, and thankfully I had a few tonight. I’m feeling good. As I’ve said before I just needed to play games and get a run of games and I’m doing that now, so I’m happy and when I’m happy I normally play well.”
Wolves’ season has been a difficult one and the information that Willy Boly might be struggling the results of lengthy Covid provides to the sensation of frustration that Nuno Espirito Santo has been unable to area his first-choice beginning line-up even as soon as for the reason that season started in September.
Boly was amongst a listing of absentees that additionally included Raul Jimenez, Jonny, Pedro Neto and Joao Moutinho – arguably Wolves’ 5 finest gamers – for the Black Country derby in opposition to West Brom. As a outcome, it’ll have heartened Nuno that the youthful performers did properly in his crew’s 1-1 draw on the Hawthorns.
Being with out 5 gamers shouldn’t be disastrous to a facet’s ambitions however this Wolves squad is smaller than most. The trio of gamers introduced in for the sport which means most to supporters had simply 9 league begins in English soccer between them. But these three mixed for Wolves’ objective.
Owen Otasowie fed Vitinha who flicked the ball ahead earlier than Fabio Silva was in a position to deflect the ball into the West Brom web. With Rayan Ait-Nouri additionally impressing at left-back, Wolves began the sport with 4 gamers born for the reason that flip of the century.
There are solely two different groups which have began 4 such gamers in whole all season not to mention in the identical match. Wolves have given begins to seven gamers in that age bracket in the course of the marketing campaign, way over some other facet.
It is a reminder of why there’s a want for a little bit of endurance at Molineux. This season might need appeared like a backward step however these gamers can be stronger for this expertise. The potential for development is apparent.
Nine years in the past, Sergio Aguero wrote his identify into soccer folklore together with his 93.20 objective to win Manchester City their first Premier League title and has continued to be their ‘Mr Reliable’ ever since.
On Saturday, he did it once more – albeit in far much less dramatic circumstances. Man City had laboured within the first half, struggling to seek out that spark to edge them nearer to Premier League glory.
He had confirmed indicators of the unimaginable expertise he possess, however his management and end from Benjamin’s Mendy very good cross was world class. Aguero additionally had a task within the build-up to Ferran Torres’ objective 83 seconds later.
“There’s nothing we can compare to that moment for Manchester City in 2012,” Guardiola stated. “But he’s shown again what he has shown all his career, many times – what a goal, what a player, what a man.”
Aguero has as soon as once more helped Man City to place one hand on the trophy – they want simply two factors from 4 video games to clinch their newest Premier League crown.
With only a few months left of his decade at Man City, Aguero can be hoping to contribute as many objectives as doable to realize success for the membership – may he carry out comparable heroics to 2012 in a Champions League closing, maybe? It will surely be a becoming finish to a glittering Man City profession.
One factor is for certain although, whoever snaps Aguero up on a free this summer season can be getting a striker who nonetheless has luggage of talent, expertise and objectives, simply as he demonstrated on Saturday.
“He’s an absolutely top legend, extraordinary player, behaving as the most humble and nicest human being and it’s not easy to find that. That’s why I love him as a man,” Guardiola added.
“Hopefully he can go in the place he wants to be and play the last years of his career in a high level. I never will forget it, he helped me a lot and it’s a pleasure to work with him.”
Thomas Tuchel would have been forgiven for having a watch on Wednesday’s Champions League semi-final second leg with Real Madrid, however he was adamant, regardless of making 5 pre-match alterations, that Chelsea focus lied solely on Saturday’s derby with Fulham.
It was the type of assertion managers make repeatedly, one they virtually should minutes earlier than a recreation, however any suggestion his feedback have been stated for impact have been dispelled by one other flawless Chelsea efficiency.
Yes Tuchel made 5 adjustments, however Chelsea’s stage of efficiency was simply as ruthless and scientific as they’ve been for the reason that German took the reins at Stamford Bridge.
Fulham’s quick begin was extinguished by a second of magic from Mason Mount and a cool end from Kai Havertz, who killed off the sport and doubled his Premier League objectives tally with a second early after the break.
Chelsea loved a measure of management all through which allowed them to maintain Fulham at arm’s size with relative ease and, crucially, left loads in reserve forward of the midweek showdown with the 13-time European champions.
If the victory over Fulham was symptomatic of Tuchel’s transformation of Chelsea, then Madrid’s go to to west London presents the German with the chance to safe a tangible reward for his efforts.
The case for the defence…
Chelsea boss Thomas Tuchel has saved extra clear sheets (11) than some other supervisor in Premier League historical past from their first 15 video games in cost within the competitors (overtaking Mourinho and Scolari, 10 every from their first 15).
It might have come too late for Aston Villa to generate sufficient momentum in direction of snatching a European spot, however in beating Everton 2-1, Ollie Watkins may but cap a memorable first season within the Premier League with a spot in Gareth Southgate’s England squad for this summer season’s European Championships.
Watkins produced a massively spectacular show at Goodison Park, bullying Mason Holgate for his fifteenth membership objective in all competitions and the striker confirmed good improvisation to very almost rating a second throughout an intriguing particular person battle with Jordan Pickford.
Indeed, the striker has scored 13 objectives within the Premier League this season – just one Englishman has scored extra for Aston Villa in a single season within the competitors (Julian Joachim, 14 in 1998/99).
Were it not for Pickford, Villa would have held a commanding lead earlier than half-time. Watkins wasn’t alone in impressing, however supervisor Dean Smith reserved particular reward for the person he additionally managed at Brentford.
“He was very good tonight and very difficult to handle. It’s what we paid a lot of money for. I knew how good he was, and I knew what he’s like as a person, wanting to grow and get better. I thought he was outstanding. He pickpocketed the defender well to score his goal and Pickford regained parity with some of the saves he made as well.”
This was one other massively irritating evening at Goodison for Everton, who should iron out the errors of their closing 5 Premier League video games if they’re to retain any hope of securing a European berth. The Toffees have received simply one in every of their final 10 residence league video games, with that victory coming in opposition to Southampton in March.
It is difficult for Carlo Ancelotti to place a finger on why the performances on the street can’t be mirrored again on Merseyside.
“We weren’t good enough,” the Italian stated. “It was completely different from the last game we played against Arsenal with more concentration, more spirit and more attitude. The start of the game was really bad and there were a lot of poor passes.
“We had alternatives however we additionally conceded lots and in the long run we deserved to lose and so it is troublesome to say why we’ve this sort of residence run. It’s a very completely different crew with a very completely different perspective.”
Only Sheffield United and Fulham have misplaced extra Premier League residence video games than Everton (eight), whose away document is just bettered by Manchester City. Huge lapses in focus finally price them in opposition to an Aston Villa facet who regarded higher ready.
With James Rodriguez injured within the warm-up, Everton lacked stability. Andre Gomes is easing his means again to full health, however he was once more wasteful in possession because the hosts struggled to realize a foothold. Ancelotti arrived with a 60 per cent win document as a supervisor, however he’s discovering out the dimensions of his job in turning Everton right into a facet befitting of his illustrious profession.
When pressed on the influence of Rodriguez’s absence, Ancelotti added: “He had a little problem and wasn’t comfortable to play. But I think he’s going to be OK in the next game. We had some individual mistakes, but the team spirit and the team work wasn’t good enough.”
An impeccable chested move again to his goalkeeper Robert Sanchez – that drew comparisons with Paolo Maldini from some quarters – on 74 minutes triggered a thought: why is not Gareth Southgate watching Lewis Dunk?
Conor Coady appears to be the doubtless back-up for John Stones and Harry Maguire on the Euros resulting from his potential to play on the coronary heart of a again three. But Dunk is equally, if no more, efficient at such position judged on his performances within the second half of this season. He is the chief in the most effective defence of sides within the backside 9, conceding 39 objectives and has saved six clear sheets of their final eight residence video games.
He was completely faultless on this victory over Leeds, marking Patrick Bamford out of the sport, who did not have a shot at objective, and repelling all the things Leeds mustered in his route. When you take into account the shortage of choices within the centre of England’s defence, how he solely has one cap for his nation is a thriller.
Brighton boss Graham Potter, normally so reserved, was beaming in his evaluation of his skipper: “His performance was sensational,” he stated.
“I haven’t seen him play as well as that. He’s been so consistent at a high level. How he leads the line, he was amazing today.”
Stranger issues have occurred than West Ham pipping Leicester to a top-four place within the closing 5 video games of the season. The hole to the Foxes might be lowered to 5 factors by the tip of the weekend, with a tough run-in to observe for Brendan Rodgers’ facet.
The Leicester supervisor’s sense of deja vu is not going to have been aided by the Foxes failing to make the most of by far their best remaining recreation at Southampton on Friday evening, particularly when stated opponent has received solely two out of 15 video games, and much more particularly when they’re pressured to play for greater than 80 minutes with 10 males.
Trips to Manchester United and Chelsea are nonetheless to come back, plus the distraction – and fatigue – of an FA Cup closing look, and it’s not too late for Leicester’s bubble to burst for the second season in a row.
“The football they have played has been so good, but after their wobble last year you are just concerned whether it could happen again,” Jamie Redknapp stated on Friday Night Football after their draw at St Mary’s, however added a phrase of encouragement: “I think this team is too good this year and have learned from last season’s mistakes.”
Worries about fourth spot lacking out on Champions League qualification would wish Chelsea to complete outdoors the highest 4, that means West Ham would doubtless have to complete in third place for Leicester to be in bother – even in David Moyes’ wildest desires that appears a stretch.
But the Foxes can draw on one observe of positivity. It’s troublesome to reward a facet dropping factors in opposition to essentially the most out-of-form crew within the division however let’s take a look at it from a really low bar – Leicester’s run-in final season.
It’s fairly doable that at this stage in 2019/20, when the Foxes received solely two of their closing eight video games to overlook out on the Champions League, that after falling behind to James Ward-Prowse’s penalty on the hour mark, they won’t have had sufficient sufficient character to dig their well past low block and dogged defending of Southampton.
It took struggle, and it took persistence. And sure, it nonetheless lacked high quality and creativity, however psychological power is required in spades on this a part of a marketing campaign. Especially once you’ve acquired journeys to Old Trafford, Stamford Bridge and Wembley nonetheless to come back.
Fulham have been brushed apart by Chelsea with the minimal of fuss within the west London derby and it leaves their Premier League standing hanging by a thread.
The 2-0 defeat leaves Scott Parker’s facet in 18th place, 9 factors adrift of Newcastle and Burnley having crucially performed a recreation greater than their relegation rivals. And with simply 12 factors left to play for it is a actually tall order for Fulham.
However, Parker nonetheless believes his facet may give themselves an opportunity of survival… he has to, however he additionally is aware of how troublesome it is going to be for his facet.
When requested what Fulham want from their closing 4 video games to outlive, Parker stated: “Four wins. It can be done. We have to win four games. What I do know is that if we keep this level we have chance of beating Burnley, then beating Southampton, Man Utd and then Newcastle. Of course, it is difficult.”
Fulham stay winless of their final 24 Premier League London derbies (D5 L19), since a 2-1 victory in opposition to West Ham in January 2014 – in top-flight historical past, solely Crystal Palace have endured an extended winless run in London derbies (31 video games between August 1969 – March 1973).
It’s admirable stuff from Parker contemplating Fulham have by no means received 4 Premier League video games in a row.
“That is the challenge for us,” the Fulham boss added. “I understand it. But anyone who watched this game today will see a team who wanted to win. I know we can win four games and that is our aim. It would be some escape, but we’ve seen it before.
“People will snicker at their screens and assume I’m dwelling in cuckooland. Maybe I’m. But till that curtain comes down, we are going to see.”
He stands out as the solely one who believes, however what is definite is Parker will give it his all and demand the identical from his facet till relegation is confirmed.