EPL

Walter Smith dies: Ferguson, McCoist and Dalglish lead tributes to former Rangers and Scotland boss

By Sports Desk October 26, 2021

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  • Premier League data dive: Mahrez misses out as Man City stumble, Leeds grab a lifeline Premier League data dive: Mahrez misses out as Man City stumble, Leeds grab a lifeline

    Pep Guardiola saw Manchester City squander a glorious chance to all but make sure of the Premier League title, and their quest could go to the final day.

    City rallied from two goals down to draw 2-2 at West Ham, but Riyad Mahrez's late penalty miss might yet be a telling moment in the race for silverware.

    Tottenham piled pressure on Arsenal in the battle for fourth after a narrow win over a Burnley side who would have been devastated by Leeds United's late leveller against Brighton and Hove Albion, shaking up the relegation battle.

    Everton might have seen the visit of Brentford as a chance to banish their own worries about dropping into the second tier, but a home defeat keeps the Toffees on unsteady ground, as Opta data tells the story of the day.

    West Ham 2-2 Manchester City: Bowen's bullseye strikes and Mahrez's miss keep title race alive

    Jarrod Bowen's double carried West Ham into a 2-0 interval lead, but Jack Grealish and Vladimir Coufal's own goal hauled City level.

    This match almost produced a Premier League first for City; however, Mahrez's spot-kick was saved by Lukasz Fabianski in the closing stages to mean they could not complete the turnaround.

    This was only the second time City had avoided defeat from two or more down at half-time (D2 L51), but that probably felt like scant consolation, given Liverpool are back in the hunt, providing the FA Cup winners collect three points at Southampton on Tuesday.

    Mahrez has missed two penalties in all competitions for City – his first was against Liverpool in October 2018. Between that and the miss at the London Stadium, the Algerian had converted nine consecutive penalties.

    Bowen has scored 12 times and provided 10 assists in the Premier League this season, with his 22 goal involvements the third most in a single campaign in the competition by a West Ham player, after Paolo Di Canio (29 in 1999-00) and John Hartson (23 in 1997-98).

    Fabianski, the toast of east London and large parts of Liverpool, saved a penalty for the 10th time in the Premier League. Only David James (13) and Thomas Sorensen (12) have saved more in the competition.

    Leeds United 1-1 Brighton and Hove Albion: Late Struijk lifts Marsch men

    Pascal Struijk headed a last-gasp leveller to negate the impact of Danny Welbeck's opener as Leeds gave themselves a relegation lifeline, climbing above Burnley to reach 17th place.

    This felt significant, with Leeds avoiding defeat in a Premier League home game after conceding the opening goal for the first time since October (1-1 v Wolves), having lost each of their last seven such games.

    Former Manchester United man Welbeck was looking like delivering three points for Brighton, and his first-half goal means the ex-England international has scored in both of his two Premier League appearances against Leeds. Indeed, they are the only opponent he has scored in his first two Premier League games against.

    The Leeds late show has become a habit. Only Manchester City (9) have scored more goals in the 90th minute or stoppage time than Leeds (7) in the Premier League this season, with all seven of their goals in this period being scored by different players (Luke Ayling, Patrick Bamford, Joe Gelhardt, Daniel James, Raphinha, Rodrigo and Struijk).

    Tottenham 1-0 Burnley: Cool-eye Kane keeps Spurs in hunt for fourth

    When Harry Kane stepped up for a penalty that would have ramifications at each end of the table, the outcome was entirely predictable. Of course Kane scored, just as he now has with each of the last 21 penalties he has taken in all competitions for Tottenham, excluding shoot-outs, and each of his last 15 in the Premier League.

    That match-winning spot-kick for Tottenham, after 52 minutes and 36 seconds of play, was the second-latest first-half goal scored in a Premier League game since Opta has exact times available (from 2006-07), behind only Trincao’s strike for Wolves against Leeds in March this year (55mins 11secs).

    Kane has scored more Premier League goals against Burnley than any other player, with his ninth strike against the Clarets seeing him overtake Mahrez and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (both eight). Burnley are the fourth side that Kane is the outright top Premier League goalscorer against, along with Arsenal (13 goals), Leicester (17) and West Brom (nine).

    Burnley, who have games against Aston Villa and Newcastle United to come, need to find at least one point to stand hope of survival. Points at Tottenham have been hard to come by for Burnley, so this defeat came as little surprise. They have lost nine of their last 10 away league games at Spurs (D1).

    Everton 2-3 Brentford: Red, red, whine

    Everton had Jarrad Branthwaite and Salomon Rondon sent off in this one, with boss Frank Lampard complaining afterwards: "The reality is we're on the bad end of a lot of decisions this season."

    Nineteen-year-old Branthwaite became the first teenager to receive a red card in a Premier League game for Everton since a 17-year-old Wayne Rooney in December 2002 against Birmingham City. Indeed, Everton have been shown more red cards than any other side in Premier League history (104).

    There are more unwanted statistics starting to emerge in Everton's dismal season. They have conceded 59 goals now, their joint-most in a 38-game Premier League campaign alongside 2000-01.

    Seamus Coleman, who put the ball into his own net for a first-half Brentford equaliser, has scored more Premier League own goals (5) than any other Everton player, while the Toffees have put through their own net the most often in Premier League history (58).

    Brentford, who twice trailed after Dominic Calvert-Lewin and Richarlison scored either side of Coleman's own goal, have gained the most points from losing positions in the Premier League this term (15).

    This was just the fourth match in Premier League history to see a first-half red card (Branthwaite), own goal (Coleman) and penalty (Richarlison), after Coventry v Wimbledon (November 1995), Charlton v Aston Villa (April 2001) and Tottenham v Fulham (February 2003).

  • 'We will give them all our lives' – Guardiola calls on Man City fans to 'go to the streets' for title decider 'We will give them all our lives' – Guardiola calls on Man City fans to 'go to the streets' for title decider

    Pep Guardiola has urged Manchester City fans to "go to the streets" ahead of the Premier League leaders' final game of the season against Aston Villa.

    City found themselves 2-0 down to West Ham at half-time on Sunday but fought back to draw 2-2.

    However, City missed a chance to win it late on when Riyad Mahrez saw a penalty saved by Lukasz Fabianski. It is only the second penalty the Algeria international has missed during his time with the club, having also squandered an opportunity from 12 yards against Liverpool in October 2018.

    Fabianski, meanwhile, has saved 10 Premier League penalties, with only David James (13) and Thomas Sorensen (12) stopping more spot-kicks in the competition.

    That draw lifts City four points above Liverpool, who won the FA Cup on Saturday by beating Chelsea on penalties, with one match left to play.

    It comes next Sunday, against a Liverpool great, as Steven Gerrard takes his Aston Villa team to the Etihad Stadium. The Reds, meanwhile, face Southampton on Tuesday and then host Wolves in their final game.

    Should Southampton claim an unlikely win, the title will be City's, but any other result means it is heading to the last day - something that Guardiola is relishing.

    "Next week our stadium will be sold out, will give them our lives and they will give theirs, all together," he told a news conference.

    "To do it is an incredible privilege, after many years, incredible. To have our chance with our people, to win one game to be champions. I'm looking forward to it.

    "If they lose or win it depends on us, do the most perfect game we possibly can do, all the people, all blue people in Manchester, go to the streets and go to the stadium because they know we're going to give everything to win that game and they will be so proud."

    City trailed by two or more goals at half-time for the 53rd time in the Premier League, with this only the second time they have avoided defeat from such a position (D2 L51), while they remain unbeaten away from home in the top flight since losing their opening match away to Tottenham.

  • Conte thrilled Spurs are even in top-four contention ahead of season finale Conte thrilled Spurs are even in top-four contention ahead of season finale

    Antonio Conte suggested Tottenham should be proud they are even in contention for a top-four finish heading into the final game of the season after beating Burnley 1-0 on Sunday.

    Harry Kane's first-half penalty ultimately proved decisive as Spurs went fourth at least until Monday, when Arsenal go to Newcastle United.

    It was by no means a vintage performance from Spurs, who came under pressure from the visitors in the second half, but the victory at least means they head into the final day of the season with a chance of clinching the last Champions League spot.

    When Conte replaced Nuno Espirito Santo as coach in November, Spurs were five points behind the top four – while not necessarily an alarming gap in itself, Tottenham appeared to be in freefall at the time after losing five of their previous seven league games.

    Spurs have only lost six top-flight matches since then, with Conte credited with inspiring a significant improvement across the pitch.

    And given the position and form they were in back in November, Conte felt he had to commend his Spurs players for hauling themselves back into contention.

    "I think first of all we had to do our task and to win and get three points and put some pressure on Arsenal," he told reporters.

    "We know very well it is not easy to play against Newcastle and especially when they arrive with the new manager and in a good spell and not an easy game, but it will be the same for us in Norwich [in the final game of the season], and the last game against Everton for Arsenal.

    "For sure I will watch the game because I love football and I want to watch and I want also to suffer.

    "But I think it is a big achievement for the last game to have the possibility to take a place into the Champions League, because I don't forget our path since November and we will see what happens.

    "I also think Arsenal did a really good job this season because they didn't play in Europe and now they have a chance to play in the Champions League."

    While Sunday's performance may not have been as impressive as Thursday's north London derby win over Arsenal, the visit of Burnley took place against a backdrop of squad uncertainty.

    Four players had been affected by a stomach virus ahead of the match, yet each one was either able to start or take a place on the bench, which – according to Conte – proved their commitment to the fight.

    "It wasn't easy because [Saturday] morning the doctor sent me a message that a few players they felt not well and with a stomach problem, vomiting and also fever," he said. "For this reason, [Dejan] Kulusevski didn't have a training session, also [Pierluigi] Gollini, also Hugo [Lloris].

    "He was not in a perfect condition today, also Winksy [Harry Winks]. Despite this we face the game in the right way and I am so happy because I have seen a team that has improved in many aspects. Now this team is ready to fight in every game."

    Burnley felt aggrieved by the handball decision that allowed Kane to convert from 12 yards, with the VAR spotting the ball brush Ashley Barnes' arm in the box.

    Conte had no time for their complaints, however.

    "I think it was 200 per cent a penalty, not 100 per cent. It was so clear. It was very difficult to understand the complaints – if your arm is in this way and you take the ball, I think it is very, very clear, honestly."

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