EPL Round Up: March 18, 2019

Rodney K

It was a rather odd week for the Premier League. Some teams were in action, some teams were participating in the FA Cup quarterfinals, and some teams didn’t play at all. Nevertheless, there was plenty of action and excitement. Let’s catch up on this week in the English Premier League.

Late Goal Saturday

There were only three league games on Saturday, and none of the top teams were involved. However, the entertainment factor was off the charts with three goals scored in the 90th minute or later. First, there was Wes Morgan’s 90th-minute game-winner over Burnley for a Leicester City team that played short-handed nearly the entire game after Harry Maguire was sent off in the 4th minute. In the West Ham-Huddersfield clash, Mexican striker Javier Hernandez scored in the 84th and 91st minutes to lift the Hammers to a 4-3 win in a game they once trailed 3-1. Finally, Matt Ritchie scored a 94th-minute goal to give Newcastle a 2-2 draw with Bournemouth.

Back on Top

With Manchester City busy advancing to the FA Cup semi-finals over the weekend, Liverpool took advantage of their opportunity to put themselves back on top of the Premier League standings. The Reds were challenged on Sunday but escaped Craven Cottage with a 2-1 win over Fulham. The win puts Liverpool two points ahead of Manchester City in the standings, even though City has a game in hand.

Missed Opportunity

Outside of Liverpool’s win, the other big game this weekend was Chelsea’s defeat at the hands of Everton. Chelsea badly out-played the home side at Goodison Park during the first half but failed to find the back of the net. The Toffees then turned the tables in the second half with a pair of goals to secure a rousing 2-0 win. With the loss, Chelsea failed to capitalize on a chance to match Arsenal on points for the fourth spot in the table. Instead, the Londoners remain in sixth place, still on the outside of the top-4 race.

Nation of Champions

Prior to this weekend’s action in the Premier League, England was able to secure four of the eight spots in the Champions League quarterfinals. Liverpool, Tottenham, and both Manchester clubs won their Round of 16 matchups, meaning English teams make up half of the remaining Champions League field. An all-England Champions League final, while unlikely, is still on the table. At the very least, England will have at least one representative in the semi-finals, as Tottenham and Manchester City have been drawn against one another, much like Man City and Liverpool were in last year’s quarterfinals.

It’s About Time

After nearly two full seasons of calling Wembley Stadium home, Tottenham is finally ready to move out. The club has announced that their April 3 game against Crystal Palace, which is a makeup of a game that was scheduled for this past weekend, will be the first for Spurs in their new stadium. There will be two test events later this month at the New White Hart Lane, and assuming things go according to plan, Spurs will make their debut at their new home on April 3 against Palace, soon followed by a Champions League clash against Manchester City the following week.

Sticking Around

Bernardo Silva made a long-term commitment to Manchester City last week, signing a new deal that will keep him with the club until 2025. The 24-year-old has already appeared in 93 games for City during his two seasons at the club. The Portuguese international has become a favorite of manager Pep Guadiola and figures to remain a regular at the club as long as Pep stays in Manchester.

Final Four

Last but not least, the FA Cup is down to the final four teams, all of which are Premier League teams but only one that is a traditional power. The first semi-final on April 6 will feature Manchester City facing Brighton & Hove Albion. The second semi-final at Wembley the following day is between Watford and Wolverhampton. If any team other than Man City wins, they will qualify for the group stage of Europa League. The Citizens, meanwhile, will be motivated in the FA Cup by the possibility of winning all four major competitions in the same year. Man City has already won the Carabao Cup and remain alive in both the Premier League title race and Champions League.

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