English Premier League review – Blades cut Spurs down to size as Citizens thrash Liverpool
2019-20 English Premier League review.
Sheffield United 3, Tottenham Hotspur 0
Tottenham Hotspur's European hopes were seriously dented at Bramall Lane when they succumbed to a rejuvenated Sheffield United 1-3 on Thursday night.
For Chris Wilder's Blades this was their first win after their return from the pandemic break.
Jose Mourinho's Spurs' 68 percent ball possession meant nothing as raid after raid ran into a Sheffield defense that ranks amongst the most parsimonious in the Premier League – only Liverpool, Manchester United and Leicester City have let in lesser goals.
The hosts went into the lead in the 31st minute when £22 million signing Sander Berge found space in the Spurs box and drilled in a low shot into the far corner.
The visitors seemed to have equalized through Harry Kane but a controversy marred the event. Lucas Moura broke forward through the Sheffield defense but was tripped.
Moura fell forward into the ball knocking it into Kane’s path who deftly made the finish.
But VAR played spoilsport as it ruled the goal out for a handball.
The call seemed harsh considering Lucas only made contact with the ball on the ground because he was fouled from behind.
Mourinho was furious and had to be warned for his behavior on the touchline.
Despite the feeling of injustice hanging over them, Spurs pushed for an equalizer but had to go into half-time a goal down.
They had lost much of their intensity of the first-half when they went out after the interval and allowed a second goal through some atrocious defending.
Enda Stevens was allowed to break down the left and his cutback from close range helped Lys Mousset with an easy tap-in to the right of goalkeeper Hugo Lloris.
Mourinho made a last throw of the dice replacing Serge Aurier and Moussa Sissoko with Tanguy Ndombele and Dele Alli.
But the effect was negated by some abjectly poor performance by the visitors at the back, Eric Dier and Davinson Sanchez being the culprits.
A third goal for the Blades ensued as a result. It was Oli McBurnie this time. Berge with a cutback found the Sheffield striker who left unmarked in the box by the Spurs defenders, had no hesitation in putting the ball into roof of the net.
It was game over for Tottenham, down 0-3 in the 84th minute.
Harry Kane, whose second attempt into the net was ruled out offside earlier, provided some consolation for the visitors when he steered in Son Heung-min's cross for his 13th goal of the season.
Sheffield's win have catapulted them the 7th spot and 1 point ahead of 8th-placed Arsenal and two ahead of Tottenahm who have slipped out of the Top Eight to the 9th.
Chris Wilder's men looked much more like their old self – solid in defence and dangerous in attack plus a will to win.
The Bramall Lane victory will provide them a much needed boost as they look to claim a top-six finish – something that would be an incredible accomplishment on their first season back in top flight football.
Manchester City 4, Liverpool 0
In what would have been normally billed as the biggest fixture of the Premier League season, Thursday night's encounter at the Etihad took on farcical contours when Manchester City trounced recently declared champions Liverpool 4-0.
Apart from the fact that City got their sweet revenge for a defeat at Anfield in December, the match held only a academic interest – although it's hard not to admit that the margin of defeat punctured the euphoria surrounding the Merseyside club's Premier League triumph.
Jurgen Klopp's men, who were given a guard of honour by the hosts before kick-off, could have taken the lead but Mohamed Salah's low drive cannoned off the post.
It indeed proved dear for the visitors to Etihad as Pep Guardiola's men took a stranglehold of the proceedings with a devastating first-half display in which they scored three goals within the space of 20 minutes.
Kevin de Bruyne slotted in a spot-kick in the 25th minute following Joe Gomez's foul on Raheem Sterling inside the box.
Sterling accounted for the second through a strong counter-attack by the hosts ten minutes later while Phil Foden slotted in City's third on the stroke of half-time after a slick one-two with De Bruyne.
The hosts found their fourth in the 66th when Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain inadvertently slid the ball into his own net from Sterling's low drive.
Riyad Mahrez came off the bench and thought he had netted a fifth with a low drive at the near post, but the effort was ruled out by the VAR for handball in the build-up.
Liverpool's other two key frontsmen apart from Salah, Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino, were kept unusually quite for almost all of the match as City goalkeeper Ederson remained barely tested.
Liverpool will want to pick themselves up quickly from the Etihad thrashing and not let their superb season fizzle away in their remaining six games.
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