Football
Plus: Brentford must face up to a relegation battle; Ukraine tributes at Goodison Park; Michael Olise lights up Selhurst Park
Sunday 27 February 2022 11:28, UK
Please use Chrome browser for a more accessible video player

It was a draw that will have felt like a defeat – and the boos from the disgruntled Old Trafford contingent were so familiar as not to be questioned.
Manchester United registered 22 attempts on the Watford goal, but not a single one of them managed to break the deadlock and secure the three points so desperately needed for their top-four challenge. But when you consider that just three of those 22 attempts were on target, a familiar, deep-rooted issue raised its head once again at Old Trafford.
Rangnick had just one recognised, out and out striker at his disposal. Granted, it was Cristiano Ronaldo, but when his early volley had proven fruitless, there was nowhere left for United to turn.
With United’s profligacy hampering Bruno Fernandes, Paul Pogba and even Anthony Elanga, a player who continues to deliver such youthful exuberance to this team, how Rangnick will have yearned for the services of the industrious Edinson Cavani.
His absence continues to be felt by Manchester United, but now more important issues are on the horizon. With Arsenal two points behind having played three games fewer, United’s occupation of fourth place is sham.
If it wasn’t already patently clear – United are playing catch up.
Jack Wilkinson
Please use Chrome browser for a more accessible video player

It was not the easiest start to the season for Harry Kane. Rumours of a move to Manchester City were fuelled throughout the summer and it was a slow start scoring wise – he didn’t score his first Premier League goal until October 17 against Burnley.
But he looked back to his best against Leeds. Most of his influential moments came in the second half as he consistently won the midfield battles before releasing his team-mates.
One instance saw him break the Premier League record for goal combinations with Son – the pair have now linked up for 37 goals in the league, overtaking Didier Drogba and Frank Lampard.
Kane has now scored 99 goals and Son 61 when they have shared the pitch in the league, with Son setting up Kane on 19 occasions and Kane returning the favour 18 times – meaning 37 of their 160 goals as a partnership have seen them assist one another.
🚨*RECORD ALERT*🚨

Most goal combinations in Premier League History

*Kane & Son – 37*
Drogba & Lampard – 36
Henry & Pires – 29
Aguero & D.Silva – 29 pic.twitter.com/KTP6HjskhN
Their 14 combinations in 2020-21 set a single-season record and while they have not reproduced that form this term, Kane set up Son against Newcastle in October while the England captain’s first goal against Manchester City came from Son’s cross. They combined once again to seal Tottenham’s big win at Elland Road.
And let’s not forget, he scored a goal of his own too – taking his tally this season to 18 – and it was incredibly well taken in the first half as he calmly sent Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg’s delightful pass into the far corner.
Head coach Antonio Conte said after the game: “Harry today, his performance was incredible, with the ball but I want to underline without the ball… When you have your best player on the pitch doing this, it is also an example for the other players.”
It was a good afternoon all around for the striker and a much-needed boost for Tottenham after their demoralising defeat to Burnley in midweek. Kane and Spurs will be hoping it continues as they push for a European finish this season.
Charlotte Marsh
Please use Chrome browser for a more accessible video player

With only one win in their last seven Premier League games, Steven Gerrard had some questions to answer ahead of this fixture as to whether Villa can challenge towards the top end of the table. He answered them as his team were back to what made them so tough to beat in his first few games in charge. Defensively they were outstanding, restricting a usually dangerous Brighton team to minimal chances, in a game the away side had full control of from the moment they took the lead.
Brighton, usually so dominant when it comes to expected goals, registered only 0.62 as Tyrone Mings and Ezri Konsa defended deep but with superb authority. It was Brighton’s lowest expected goals return of the season. Gerrard should take great pride in that. He looked pumped up at the final whistle as he celebrated in front of a raucous away end. This was a timely reminder of his abilities as a great organiser and tactician. And a reminder of what an asset John McGinn is. Even in stoppage time when the game was won, McGinn was the runner from midfield sprinting forward to support Watkins as Villa successfully rode to victory. No player won more duels or won more possession for Villa than McGinn in this supreme performance.
“We’ve been in some sticky form but credit to the players they have stayed focused,” Gerrard said.
“We owned the pitch out of possession and all our good stuff came on the back of that. We looked the more dangerous team. The game plan worked to a tee.”
Lewis Jones
Please use Chrome browser for a more accessible video player

Over the last four seasons, Southampton have finished no higher than 11th. The days when they secured a top 10 spot in four of their first five seasons after promotion back to the top flight in 2011/12 had seemed a world away for so long.
But it looks as though they are now only looking one way – and that way is up. Friday night’s comprehensive win over lowly Norwich extended their unbeaten league run to five games and collect their eighth victory of the season. With 12 games remaining, the prospect bettering last season’s return of 12 remains very much on the table.
Please use Chrome browser for a more accessible video player

Against the Canaries, they were dominant on the ball, patient in the build-up and never looked out of control. Oriol Romeu’s stunning late goal rounded off a thoroughly rounded and professional display. It was an apt illustration of just how settled they have looked at St Mary’s this term.
In the 14 games Southampton have played there in all competitions this season, they have lost just once – 1-0 to Wolves on September 26 – and conceded just 11 goals. It is no understatement to say the stadium has become a fortress.
With six points now separating them from 11th-placed Crystal Palace, a top half spot appears to be theirs to lose. If they can keep up this form in the final third of the season, who is to say a push for European football next term is out of the question?
Dan Long
Please use Chrome browser for a more accessible video player

Please use Chrome browser for a more accessible video player

Barring a few brief weeks of respite, Norwich have suffered a severe case of deja vu on their return to the Premier League. There is never just a single defeat; only several in succession and, this term, they have exited the relegation zone just once.
Coming into the trip to Southampton for Friday Night Football off the back of heavy defeats to Manchester City and Liverpool, it was immediately clear that there was a gulf in class at St Mary’s, and with so many bodies back to defend when they were put under pressure, Dean Smith’s men held their hosts at bay for long periods, which was key if they wanted to try and salvage some much-needed points for the relegation scrap they find themselves at the very centre of.
But they showed Southampton too much respect at times throughout the game and were second best in so many departments, not least in attack, where frontman Teemu Pukki touched the ball just four times in the first half. They seldom looked like adding to their miserable tally of seven goals scored away from home in 2021/22.
By the time the second half began, they were already a goal down, after Che Adams had hooked the ball over the line from point-blank range, and it could quite easily have been more than two had Ralph Hasenhuttl’s side have been more clinical and not fired so many of their 27 attempts straight at ex-Saints goalkeeper Angus Gunn.
With 26 games played and just 17 points to their name so far, it is no surprise the Canaries are rooted to the bottom of the table and five from safety. And as many of the teams around them have multiple games in hand, Norwich have arrived at the point where every single Premier League game needs to be treated as though it is a cup final.
Dan Long
Please use Chrome browser for a more accessible video player

The story of Brentford’s debut Premier League season has been an optimistic one, no doubt aided by the stunning 2-0 win over Arsenal in their first match in the competition.
But the fairy-tale narrative around the Bees has given way to a nightmarish run of results, with 2022 bringing seven defeats, one draw and just one win in the Premier League.
After occupying a mid-table berth for much of the season, Brentford are slipping perilously close to the relegation zone and find themselves just three points ahead of Burnley, who have three game in hand on the Londoners.
Thomas Frank will know that his side’s next two fixtures are absolutely crucial – they travel to bottom-placed Norwich next weekend before a huge clash with Burnley on March 12.
Brentford also face Watford in April before closing out their season with games against Everton and Leeds.
As a result Brentford will play all of their relegation rivals before the campaign’s end – giving them a chance to save themselves and deal damaging blows to the teams around them. Will Frank’s side be up to it?
Joe Shread
Please use Chrome browser for a more accessible video player

Eddie Howe’s Newcastle revolution began with a chaotic 3-3 draw at home to Brentford in November, but the Magpies’ 2-0 win against the same opponents on Saturday is a perfect demonstration of how far they have come under his leadership.
Howe spoke before the game of how much more confident his side now is and that was clear in west London, as they took full advantage of Josh Dasilva’s red card to dominate their hosts, recording more than 60 per cent of possession and having more than four times as many shots as the Bees.
While Newcastle’s splurge in the January transfer window has clearly upgraded their squad, the revival of the likes of Ryan Fraser and Joelinton is a testament to Howe’s work on the training ground.
Fraser was a bit-part player under former boss Steve Bruce but has nailed down a role on the wing under the new regime, while Joelinton looks reborn as a marauding midfielder.
Fraser was a constant thorn in Brentford’s side from his position on the left and, as well as assisting Joelinton’s goal, he created more chances, attempted more crosses and had more touches in the final third than any of his team-mates.
Joelinton, meanwhile, will hope he can play Brentford every week – he has just two goals this season, but both have come against Thomas Frank’s side.
His goal – a powerful header after a late run from midfield – was indicative of his new role under Howe.
The Brazilian attempted more dribbles than any of Newcastle’s players as he charged through Brentford’s midfield, while he also showed an impressive work rate, winning more duels and regaining possession in the final third on more occasions than any of his team-mates.
Howe’s ability to revive players who struggled under Bruce and mould them into a side alongside his new signings is looking key to keeping Newcastle in the Premier League.
Joe Shread
Roy Hodgson knows a thing or two about gate-crashing Old Trafford. While Watford have previous against Manchester United, having inflicted the infamous final 4-1 defeat of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s tenure.
On Saturday the two came together, securing a priceless point which could be the difference between relegation and safety for the Hornets.
Hodgson is now unbeaten in his last four visits to Old Trafford, while Watford have avoided defeat in their last four league meetings with Manchester United.
The Hornets remain second bottom in the Premier League but the fifth point of Hodgson’s reign has left them two points front safety.
The scoreboard, despite their peaks and troughs of Watford’s campaign, continues to tick over. With Hodgson at the helm, and with a defensive performance like the one shown at Old Trafford, the Hornets have the foundations of a survival bid.
Jack Wilkinson
Please use Chrome browser for a more accessible video player

Everton had been acutely aware of the importance of sensitivity given the events in Ukraine. Vitaliy Mykolenko was named on the bench for the home side, while fellow Ukraine international Oleksandr Zinchenko was also among the Manchester City substitutes.
The sirens from Z Cars, traditionally played as the teams emerge from the tunnel at Goodison Park were absent. Instead, there was a Hollies song: He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother. Defiant applause rang out from all four corners of this famous old ground.
The Everton players were draped in Ukraine flags as the two teams lined up. Manchester City opted for shirts displaying the flag, while the video screens at Goodison had a message: ‘Ukraine stay strong’. There were tears from Zinchenko, the emotions overwhelming.
This is a crisis, far more important than football, and it can be difficult for clubs – indeed, all of us – to know how to handle it. Gestures can seem meaningless but this one did not. It struck the right tone of solidarity with those suffering.
Adam Bate
Please use Chrome browser for a more accessible video player

On the face of it, this was a difficult day for Everton as the succumbed to second consecutive defeat under Frank Lampard, while Newcastle moved above them and Burnley edge ever nearer. They are now just one point above the relegation zone.
But while this game was lost, the effort shown, the organisation and togetherness of the team should hearten supporters. They could have no complaints with their players. There was no sense of a club in disarray. Stick together and there will be better days.
Abdoulaye Doucoure’s return helped, but he was not the only one providing energy and endeavour in midfield. Both Allan and Donny van de Beek pressed the Premier League champions hard. Everton looked a difficult team to play against once more.
There was a standing ovation for Van de Beek when he put in a challenge for which he was booked and again when he raced back to rob Kevin De Bruyne. Richarlison led the line manfully alone, while Anthony Gordon endeared himself with his willing running.
This is the minimum that supporters demand and it earned Lampard’s players their standing ovation when the whistle went for half-time with the game goalless. The point was lost late on but even on a day that Everton’s chances of relegation increased, there is hope.
Adam Bate
After back-to-back wins over Brighton and Tottenham, Burnley delivered a below-par performance at Crystal Palace on Saturday afternoon but still salvaged a crucial draw. Seven points in their last three matches has moved them to within a point of 17th-placed Everton. It has been quite some turnaround for a team that took 11 Premier League matches to muster up that same tally of points previous to this run.
Please use Chrome browser for a more accessible video player

Sean Dyche did not make any changes from the side that beat Spurs and it showed, as the performance dropped off compared to the two previous games. Rotation may be something Dyche has to consider more going forward as Burnley contend with the fixture pile-up caused by Covid and weather postponements earlier in the season.
Two tough fixtures against Leicester and Chelsea at Turf Moor over the next seven days could spell trouble for Burnley in their bid for Premier League survival. But the poor form of Everton and Leeds – both of whom lost on Saturday – above them, will be a comfort to Clarets fans.
Zinny Boswell
Signing Michael Olise for a reported £8m from Reading is looking more and more like the deal of the summer with each passing week. The 20-year-old possesses so much skill and such a silky touch that defenders find it so hard to get near him.
Star boy 💫#CPFC pic.twitter.com/0748E1g9Ep
His assist for Jeffrey Schlupp’s opener against Burnley was his fifth of the season – no other player under the age of 21 has registered as many as him in the Premier League this season. In a team that includes Conor Gallagher and Zaha, it is not easy to be a stand-out performer, but he continues to shine in his debut Premier League season. He was constantly a thorn in the side of Burnley left-back Erik Pieters, who resorted to hacking him down at times.
Slowly but surely Olise is becoming one of Palace’s most important players, and the stats prove it. His 83 touches ranked second among Palace players, he created the joint-most chances (2), had the most passes in the final third and delivered the most crosses (9).
Zinny Boswell
Another Saturday, another chance to win £250,000 with Super 6. Play for free, entries by 3pm.
© 2022 Sky UK

source

By faress

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.