By Neil Leverett
- Liverpool suffer surprise 3-0 loss away to Watford, surrendering their unbeaten Premier League run in Gameweek 28
- Everton denied winner against Manchester United in latest VAR controversy, as Spurs go to the Wolves
- Leicester draw blank for third game running as Brighton & Hove Albion lose, whilst West Ham and Norwich both win
PREMIER LEAGUE, UK – After Liverpool finally lost their unbeaten league run against Watford this past weekend, what did we learn from Premier League Gameweek 28?
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Undefeated no more
January 3 2019; just over 14 months; the last time Liverpool were beaten in the Premier League. As the Hornets stung the leaders at Vicarage Road in Gameweek 28, the Reds’ aspirations of lifting their first league title in 30 years with an undefeated record were left in tatters on Saturday evening in Hertfordshire.
Denied the chance to replicate Arsenal’s 2003/04 invincible term, Jurgen Klopp‘s men could now also have the chance to seal their inaugural Premier League crown in front of the Kop taken away, and as we pointed to a few weeks ago, the World and European champions are showing signs of running out of steam.
Somewhat off-colour for the third game on the bounce, Nigel Pearson‘s men drew the venom from the visitors’ wings before striking twice in seven second half minutes through the electric Ismaila Sarr, as Troy Deeney lobbed ‘keeper Alisson to seal an emphatic and stunning three-goal win, after a rare defensive error.
As Arsenal fans nationally and globally prepared a mental virtual note of thanks to the Hornets, Liverpool remain still four wins from destiny. As a scrapping Cherries visit Anfield this weekend, Liverpool will be bent on returning to form ahead their second leg UEFA Champions League last 16 tie with Atletico Madrid, but how long will the Reds – putting aside concerns of a potential season cancellation in the wake of Covid-19 – have to wait for their crowing glory?
De Gea blushes spared – again
As Everton and Manchester United shared the spoils at Goodison Park, controversy again rained down on the Premier League, as Toffees boss Carlo Ancelotti was sent off for protestation, following the hosts being denied a late winner.
With Gylfi Sigurdsson down injured, United went on the counter-attack late in the game and saw a shot saved, only for Everton to storm back down the other end and score via Harry Maguire‘s deflected own goal and it then to be ruled out.
David de Gea would have been the most relieved man to see the Icelandic midfielder deemed active and offside, having earlier added his latest blunder to the playbook following Dominic Calvert-Lewin‘s charging down of the Spaniard’s goal kick for the game’s opener.
Indeed, despite the visitors’ improvement in form of late, de Gea’s further foibles are beginning to paint a rather worrying picture in a United defence that had kept six clean sheets in the last seven games in all competitions in the lead up to Sunday’s game.
A stopper for many who stood as the best in the game, the Spaniard’s reputation is beginning to take a nosedive and on this occasion, it was once more the intervention of video technology that spared the Red Devils’ number one.
Foxes out of ideas?
Like the league leaders, Leicester City’s impressive form this season appears to be on the wane, now having dropped seven points in their last three outings, with a surprise defeat to rock-bottom Norwich the third occasion on the spin that saw the Foxes fail to score.
With Jamie Vardy injured, Kelechi Iheanacho was shouldered with the burden of breaking the drought for Brendan Rodgers, but despite seeing a goal ruled out via VAR – naturally – the Nigerian toiled once more. Indeed, it was full-back Jamal Lewis‘ long-range strike that proved the difference at Carrow Road on Friday night.
Once considered dark horses to challenge the Reds for the league title, said machinations have fallen by the wayside dramatically and though with a comfortable points cushion to both Chelsea, Spurs and Manchester United in the chasing pack still, Carabao Cup winner Manchester City now appear to be beyond their reach for runners-up spot such are their current creativity issues.
All this seems to have coincided with February’s inaugural winter break and after Valentines Day’s tame and lifeless showing two weeks ago versus Wolves, it now appears the problems may run deeper for the remainder of the season for the Foxes.
Spurs making little Mourinho headway
It’s now back-to-back defeats for Tottenham Hotspur after seeing a 2-1 lead slip away against the rampant Wolverhampton Wanderers in Gameweek 28, and after their latest setback, questions are already being posed of Jose Mourinho.
Since taking the helm in North London, the Portuguese has led the Lilywhites back into the top six picture but defensively – rather against Mourinho’s DNA – Spurs have kept just three league clean sheets since his appointment in late November.
Of course, the absences of both Harry Kane and Son Heung-min have been an occurrence few managers could have juggled, but nevertheless unrest is beginning to surface in the white half of the Northern reaches of the capital.
Mourinho was surely brought in to tighten the good ship Spurs, but for a team to have conceded at least twice in eight league games since Gameweek 14 however, is the former Chelsea, United and Inter Milan boss currently justifying his position?
Bad weekend for Seagulls
Gameweek 28 further stymied the relegation picture after a number of huge wins for clubs in and around the bottom three, but conversely for Brighton & Hove Albion it was a weekend that firmly drops the Seagulls back in the battle to avoid the Championship trapdoor.
As Norwich City ground out a 1-0 win over the Foxes, Graham Potter‘s charges then suffered defeat on Saturday lunchtime against Crystal Palace, stung by Jordan Ayew‘s 70th-minute strike – hugely against the run of play at the AMEX Stadium.
To compound their unmerited loss, West Ham United then picked up a priceless three points at home to Southampton, whilst as documented, Watford then turned over the champions-in-waiting Liverpool and AFC Bournemouth scrapped a point at home to Chelsea.
The Seagulls are win-less since the festive period, and where previously the East Sussex outfit were assumed relatively safe, a run of three successive draws – book-ended by league defeat – have seen Brighton slide down the standings.
Now just a point from the drop zone, the picture at the foot of the table is no clearer. However, with just ten games to go this term it looks like that come May 17 it will be three from six to fall down the football league pyramid. Unfortunately for them, Brighton are now very much in that shake-up.
Premier League Gameweek 29 begins on Saturday lunchtime as Liverpool host AFC Bournemouth, kick-off 12:30 UK time.
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