As Gameweek 33 of the Premier League season stretches into the horizon, we are faced with the realisation that there really won’t be many more stunning comebacks, intense derby matches and hilarious Mohamed Elneny red cards left this season.
The last weekend of Premier League football had a lot to savour. The Manchester derby saw quite an amazing turnaround which nobody was at all expecting, a thrilling ride during Arsenal’s game with Southampton, but the Merseyside derby really let us down providing zilch. Experts are currently having a debate over whether the match even occurred at all – it could have all been a bad dream.
Manchester City’s legendary, history-filled Etihad stadium is the only place to start. Guardiola’s guys only needed a win against their arch-rivals, somehow second-place Manchester United. After a trademark bullet header from Vincent Kompany in the first half, followed by a trademark clumsy celebration with flailing fists, Ilkay Gundogan extended City’s domination over United making it 2-0 with only half an hour on the clock. City’s second goal was a beautiful move, finishing with a toe-poke into the net which could only be produced by the kind of player that probably shouldn’t be at a club like City, but find themselves there anyway. Come half-time, Mourinho’s men trudged off the pitch lucky not to be 4-0 down. The title was now a reality for Kompany et al.
Instead of laying down for Guardiola’s side to put two or three more goals past them, United actually created one awkward attack too many for City, resulting in Paul Pogba being put clean through on goal in the 53rd minute. He duly slotted the ball past Ederson – 2-1. Just two minutes later, Pogba was on the scene again, receiving the ball on his head from a pinpoint Alexis Sanchez cross. United were looking like a competent football team once again. Pogba chose to celebrate the occasion by kicking the ball into the air as high as he could, touching his sky blue haircut with his right hand and wagging his finger at Sanchez, as if to tell him he was pleasantly surprised at his ability. United surged forward with renewed confidence, and eventually ground City’s hopes of winning the title against the club from across the city into dust. Chris Smalling provided the flick to win the game in the 69th minute, from a Sanchez free kick. I won’t go over that goal as it was quite ugly.
A breathless Saturday evening meant that Arsenal v Southampton on Sunday lunchtime had a lot to live up to, and it definitely did. Sure, the teams couldn’t have less rivalry, and three of the goals were scored by Shane Long and Danny Welbeck, but it was all we had. Arsenal were once again a laughing stock after 17 minutes, when normally useless Southampton took the lead through Shane Long. Luckily for Arsene, it didn’t take long for Aubameyang to level things up again and Danny Welbeck to fire them into a 2-1 lead. The side from the south coast provided a scare when Charlie Austin equalised late on, but Welbeck was on hand again to restore the lead, and the peace on Arsenal Fan TV.
Now, I don’t think that the myth of gameweek 33 can come from anywhere except the Amex. Brighton’s game with Huddersfield was a real relegation scrap, for the away side much more than the home. Huddersfield are often regarded as a side unlucky to be where they are in the table, with a lot more quality than they let on, with players like Mooy and Ince in their ranks. However, the latest game in which they failed to get a win, this time against Brighton, to me confirms that they deserve their place in the relegation fight. After being unsuccessful in front of goal after 30 attempts against Swansea in that infamous affair a few weeks back, things have not really improved for them. They were completely dominated away to Newcastle in gameweek 32, beaten 2-0 at home by Crystal Palace the week before, and the Mounie strike this week against Brighton was their first goal since February. The worrying thing for the Terriers is that they really ought to have gone on and won this match – a quick response after a first half Lossl own-goal, and a second-half red card for Brighton’s Davy Propper really should have been the cue for Huddersfield to grab their first win in ages. If they don’t pick up the pace soon, the Championship will be looming around the corner. Next week’s game at home to Watford is a massive one for Wagner’s men if they are to survive.