Premier League recap and analysis 6/25-6/28

Soccer Ball

Manchester City v. Chelsea

Christian Pulisic wreaked havoc on the Manchester City defense in Chelsea’s 2-1 victory. A moment of indecision from Benjamin Mendy opened the space for Pulisic to run past the backline and steer the chance around Ederson. Manchester City didn’t change tactics--to Pep Guardiola’s credit—leading to a set-piece goal from Kevin De Bruyne in the 55th minute. 

In the end, Chelsea’s attacking play put pressure on the Man City defenders in the final 20 minutes, forcing Fernandinho into a penalty. He received a red card for using his hands to prevent the ball from crossing the goal line. 

The result confirmed Liverpool as Premier League Champions, the Reds’ first league title in 30 years. 

Watford v. Burnley

A 0-0 draw looked to be in play when these sides met on Thursday, but Burnley striker Jay Rodriguez changed that with a 73rd-minute winner that caught out Watford keeper Ben Foster. The goal came against the run of play. Watford looked more creative in the second half and had more energy than the sluggish Burnley team. 

Watford manager Nigel Pearson made good adjustments at halftime, putting pressure on the Burnley defense by using winger Ismaïla Sarr, Danny Welbeck and Troy Deeney as options through the center. The problem? The final ball wasn’t there. 

This match will be one Watford regrets if the side is relegated, since the point dropped was vital for distancing themselves from the relegation zone. 

 

Arsenal v. Southampton

Poor defending and sloppy errors made Southampton’s 2-0 defeat to Arsenal the right result. Arsenal’s Edward Nketiah put pressure on Southampton keeper Alex McCarthy and stole the ball from the keeper’s feet before tapping it in for the opening goal. 

 Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang burst past the defenders seemingly at will after the goal. He had a shot hit the bottom of the bar before bouncing out for a goal kick, a cross that was deflected around the post by a desperate sliding tackle and a chance that was wiped out by Southampton defender Jack Stephens. Stephens earned a straight red card for preventing the clear goal scoring opportunity. 

It was a much-needed win for Mikel Arteta’s side. The Gunners sit 10th in the table and three points ahead of Southampton.

 

Aston Villa v. Wolves

Wolves found itself in a Champions League position after a dominant 1-0 victory at Villa Park. Adama Traoré didn’t play in the first half, but his fresh legs helped relieve the pressure Aston Villa used to negate Wolves striker Raúl Jiménez. Traoré’s impact was immediate.

After Traoré subbed on in the 60th minute, Jiménez made a promising pass to Jonny, who delivered the ball to Leander Dendoncker in the spot where he couldn’t miss. Wolves held on after the goal, but didn’t look as creative with the lead. 

Aston Villa didn’t cause Wolves keeper Rui Patrício much trouble. After the goal, the urgency didn’t change. The lack of creators in the attack makes me concerned with Villa’s chances of survival when the dust settles in a few weeks.

 

Southampton v. Watford

Watford struggled to find a goal against Southampton, and they did not impress after losing to Burnley earlier in the week. Southampton’s Danny Ings scored a goal before halftime and followed with a second in the 70th minute before Watford created a great chance. That came soon afterward.

Watford did get a goal back through Southampton defender Jan Bednarek, but the comeback attempt was swiftly dealt with from the Saints. A foul outside the Watford box lined up James Ward-Prowse for the response — a curling strike that sailed over the wall of Watford defenders — to shatter the hopes of the comeback. 

While Southampton dominated on the scoreboard, the game felt more competitive than a 3-1 drubbing. Watford had nearly the same amount of the ball, a few less shots – eight to Southampton’s 11 — and more corners. Where they were poor cost them the match. The side had zero shots on target.

sports.ed@ocolly.com