After yet another truly special weekend of Premier League action, Matchday 33 of the 2017/2018 season to be more precise, it’s now time to look back at all of the last few days’ drama as both the Manchester and Merseyside Derbies were keenly-contested on Derby Day and David Moyes’ West Ham United picked up a valuable result at Stamford Bridge a day later.
The Game Week began in Derby Day style live on Sky Sports on Saturday lunchtime at Goodison Park with the latest renewing of one of English Football’s most eagerly-anticipated fixtures.
This was, of course, the Merseyside rivalry between Sam Allardyce’s Everton and Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool, but the contest they played out was largely described as a huge anti-climax, a goalless draw, both the Toffees and the Reds pushed to claim the three points and had chances, although they never could, a fair result in the end.
Attention then turned to six traditional afternoon kick-offs where plenty was at stake, starting with a class that involved 19th-place Stoke City and fourth-place Tottenham Hotspur at the bet365 Stadium.
Mauricio Pochettino’s men were the firm favourites ad they didn’t disappoint, going ahead through Christian Eriksen, although Mame Biram Diouf grabbed what looked to be a vital equaliser for Paul Lambert’s men, only for Eriksen to fire Spurs back ahead and give them the victory, Harry Kane has since appealed the awarding of the winner to his Danish teammate.
Also, at that time, two of the league’s mid-table outfits clashed at Vicarage Road with the meeting of Javier Gracia’s Watford and Sean Dyche’s Europa League contenders Burnley.
It would very much be business as usual for the Clarets in the end as they triumphed away for the third time in succession, however, they had to come from behind to do it, cancelling out a Roberto Pereyra strike with goals from substitute Sam Vokes and skipper Jack Cork to boost their European hopes.
A short distance North of Hertfordshire in the Midlands at 3 PM, the Clarets’ main challengers to seventh spot in Claude Puel’s Leicester City hosted Rafa Benitez’s resurgent Newcastle United.
Three points for the visiting Magpies was always going to all but secure their Premier League status early for another season and they rose to the occasion to claim them, Jonjo Shelvey and Ayoze Perez giving them a two-goal lead with ten minutes to play, holding onto the triumph despite a late consolation from goal-machine Jamie Vardy, an outing to forget for the Foxes.
Meanwhile, down on the South Coast, Eddie Howe’s AFC Bournemouth welcomed Roy Hodgson’s strugglers Crystal Palace to the Vitality Stadium for a desperate clash for the relegation-threatened Eagles.
In an end-to-end encounter, the visitors seized the advantage in the second period through Luka Milivojevic and Lys Mousset hit back with a rare goal, talisman Wilfried Zaha did so very nearly give his side a crucial three points, only for Josh King to fire yet another late Cherries equalise and men the points and spills were shared.
Just over 100 miles to the East also at that time at the American Express Community Stadium, two of the PL’s newbies faced off in the form of Brighton & Hove Albion and Huddersfield Town.
Much like many others team, Chris Hughton’s men are just a win or two away from securing their Top-Flight status for one more campaign, though couldn’t take advantage despite taking the lead thanks to a Jonas Lossl own-goal, Steve Mounie equalised for David Wagner’s Terriers and they would have been frustrated not to have found a key winner after Davy Propper’s 74th-minute red card.
The final of the 3 PM starts involved a despite West Bromwich Albion under caretaker manager Darren Moore going head-to-head with Carlos Carvalhal’s precariously-placed Swansea City at the Hawthorns Stadium.
The affair was being billed as must-win for rock bottom Albion and although they didn’t achieve the triumph, they would have been glad at the end of their losing streak to draw, Jay Rodriguez put them ahead, but it wasn’t to be as Tammy Abraham hit back, the start of a “Great Escape” for the Midlands side?
It was very much a case of saving the best till last on Saturday with a Manchester derby of the highest-importance featuring as Sky Sports’ late kick-off, the hosts Manchester City needed to win if they wanted to secure the title early against their rivals Manchester United.
All looked to be going to plan for Pep Guardiola’s men at the break, leading 2-0 with Vincent Kompany and Ilkay Gundogan getting themselves on the scoresheet, although a miraculous comeback from Jose Mourinho’s Red Devils, involving a Paul Pogba brace and Chris Smalling header breathed fresh life into the title race at the Etihad Stadium.
However, the English Top-Flight wasn’t done there for the Matchday, there was still the matter of two Sky Sports Super Sunday encounters to attend to, the first coming at the Emirates Stadium, Arsenal vs Southampton.
Both sides are fighting very different battles at opposite ends of the table and in the end, it came down to who had that extra bit of quality, Arsene Wenger’s Gunners turning the heat up on Mark Hughes’ Saints with a late Danny Welbeck goal for a 3-2 triumph, Shane Long had put the away team ahead before Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Welbeck made it 2-1, a Charlie Austin equaliser not being enough in the end, Jack Stephens and Mohamed Elneny were both sent off in added-time.
And last but not least on Super Sunday was an emotional London derby at Stamford Bridge between fifth-placed Chelsea, who dedicated the afternoon to England legend Ray Wilkins, who sadly passed away aged 61 last week, and a rejuvenated West Ham.
Things looked like they were going to be plain-sailing for Antonio Conte’s men when Cesar Azpilicueta gave them the lead shortly before the break, leading substitute Javier Hernandez to steal a point for the Hammers with just under 20 minutes to play, it out six points between them and the bottom three.
So, now that all the spoils and thrills from yet another weekend Match Week of the league that we all know, and love have been well and truly reviewed, UEFA Europa League and UEFA Champions League quarter-final action will take centre-stage this week, but never fear, the Premier League returns next Saturday lunchtime at the St Mary’s Stadium.