Premier League Playback: Divine intervention, luck leading the Foxes?

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FOXES GET OUT OF JAIL

“I always believe. I believe we showed this season that everything is possible with the Foxes. Never quit, no?”

That was Claudio Ranieri‘s answer to my question about how he felt on Sunday when Leicester’s title challenge looked to have derailed with West Ham 2-1 up and less then five minutes to play, plus the Foxes down to 10-men.

[ MORE: 3 things we learned ]

When Leonardo Ulloa‘s stoppage time penalty kick hit the back of the net at the King Power Stadium, relief was the main emotion from the home fans. Whether they wanted to admit it or not, the Foxes had got out of jail. Big time.

A scrambling, intoxicating second half saw Jamie Vardy, who had put the Foxes in front, shown a second yellow card for simulation as Leicester went down to 10-men for the final 30 minutes. West Ham then battered them and in two minutes seemed to have won the game.

[ VIDEO: Analyzing the big calls ]

First referee Jon Moss, who became a pivotal figure in this game, called a foul on Wes Morgan in the box and Andy Carroll slammed home the spot kick. 1-1. The home fans were incensed with the decision but can have little complaints. Two minutes later Aaron Cresswell rifled a volley into the far corner and as West Ham’s players celebrated in front of the Leicester fans, with paper clappers being thrown at them and cries of “2-1 to the referee!” from the home fans, everything seemed to be unraveling for Ranieri’s men.

Then, the game-deciding moment arrived.

Substitute Jeffrey Schlupp slalomed into the box with second left. Carroll came across to close him down but Schlupp took a tumble. Moss pointed to the spot to hand Leicester a lifeline and ensure he would safely get out of the King Power Stadium alive. Ulloa’s spot kick ensured Leicester will remain five points ahead of Tottenham Hotspur with four games to go should Spurs win at Stoke City on Monday. But Leicester should have lost and even though Moss was booed off the pitch, he’d helped the home team out and gained them a point.

[ MORE: Vardy to get extra ban?

Moss is a human. He evened things up. He got Vardy’s red card correct — the England striker may face further action after appearing to swear at Moss and gesture in his face when walking off the pitch — and Morgan’s grappling on Winston Reid was correct, but the challenge on Schlupp was nothing more than a shoulder barge and he was already going down.

Leicester have won 11 penalties this season, more than any other team and 15.3 percent of their goals have come from the spot this season. The trickery and speed of Vardy and Riyad Mahrez has led to that but perhaps subconsciously referees are more willing to believe that Leicester’s players are going down under contact and, maybe, the media frenzy about their achievements this season is playing its part.

I wrote it from my “three things we learned” column at the King Power Stadium yesterday, and it does seem like divine intervention is somehow at play here, pushing Leicester towards a fairytale title and unlike anything we’ve ever seen in PL history or even sporting history. Call it luck, the rub of the green, whatever you will, but in pivotal moments in recent weeks decisions have gone in Leicester’s favor and it seems scripted for them to lift the title.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights

Tottenham will not give up hope but seeing Ulloa’s late penalty kick go in must have hit Mauricio Pochettino‘s men hard. Even though Leicester is stumbling, Spurs still have to overcome an eight-point gap with 15 points remaining on the table.

“It is more important than one point,” Ranieri said of Leicester’s draw. “Physiologically, we are there.”

When Cheikhou Kouyate‘s header hits both of Leicester’s post rolls across the line and the stays out with the first act of the game, then a penalty kick like that was awarded with basically the last act, it seems like higher powers are at work.

As Ranieri said: “this season everything is possible with the Foxes.” But it always helps when lady luck is shining down on you along the way…

BRILLIANT DE BRUYNE BATTERS CHELSEA

Premier League Schedule – Week 35

Result Recap & Highlights
Arsenal 1-1 C. Palace Recap, watch here
B’mouth 1-2 Liverpool Recap, watch here
Chelsea 0-3 Man City Recap, watch here
Everton 1-1 Saints Recap, watch here
Leicester 2-2 West Ham Recap, watch here
Man Utd 1-0 A. Villa Recap, watch here
N’castle 3-0 Swansea Recap, watch here
Norwich 0-3 S’land Recap, watch here
Stoke – Tottenham Monday, 3 p.m. ET
West Brom 0-1 Watford Recap, watch here

Kevin De Bruyne never got the chance to flourish at Stamford Bridge as a Chelsea player. On Saturday he did. But for Manchester City.

[ MORE: De Bruyne rips Chelsea apart ]

During City’s 3-0 win which boosts their top four hopes and condemned Chelsea to an 11th defeat of the season, De Bruyne, 24, looked worth every penny of the $75 million City paid Wolfsburg for the Belgian winger last summer. In January 2014, Chelsea and Jose Mourinho let De Bruyne leave for $25 million.

He came back to haunt them and since he returned from injury last month, City is unbeaten in five and look a completely different team. He knits it all together and comes up with the goods in the big games, just like he did in the UEFA Champions League quarterfinal vs. PSG.

Mourinho had complained of De Bruyne’s attitude, something the Belgian wholeheartedly refutes, and said him being behind Eden Hazard was the main reason he was sold. On his return to Stamford Bridge, it seemed like KDB had a point to prove as he led City’s counter attacks with devastating efficiency and scythed through Chelsea’s hapless midfield and defense at will. Coasting off the right flank and into the center, De Bruyne went clean through in the first half but was thwarted by Thibaut Courtois. He then set up Sergio Aguero to score the first of his three goals with a rapid break and pinpoint pass.

[ MORE: 3 things we learned ]

In the second half it got better. De Bruyne flicked the ball past both Cesc Fabregas and Cesar Azpilcieuta in one movement and sped away, releasing Sami Nasri who set up Aguero for his second.

De Bruyne was applauded by some of Chelsea’s fans and one even shouted out: “De Bruyne, we want you to come back!”

Chelsea’s interim boss Guus Hiddink saw his midtable team humbled by City’s swaggering ginger machine. I asked him after the game what he thought of De Bruyne’s display.

“He is very keen playing in-between the lines and all of the players are and they know to find him,” Hiddink told ProSoccerTalk. “He is a beautiful player to see.”

Chelsea’s fans will, begrudgingly, agree with Guus. Ah, the one that got away…

NORTH EAST CLUBS ALIVE

A huge weekend played out for both Newcastle United and Sunderland as the two North East giants reignited life into their relegation battle. But, adding further fuel to the fire, it seems inevitable that only one club will save themselves.

[ MORE: Latest Premier League standings ] 

Both won 3-0 with Sunderland’s shellacking of Norwich City in the early game on Saturday opening up the relegation picture and Newcastle duly responded with their victory over Swansea City.

Sam Allardyce‘s side have always looked the more likely to get out of the mire as he’s built a solid defensive unit but scoring goals has been the problem of late. A game-changing moment arrived at Carrow Road with Fabio Borini taken down by Andre Wisdom and the Italian slammed home the spot kick to set the Black Cats on their way. Borini crossed for Jermain Defoe to double the lead and Duncan Watmore put some gloss on the scoreline as Big Sam, reminiscent of Elvis, swung his arms in celebration gleefully on the sidelines.

That early win piled the pressure on Sunderland’s bitter North East rivals, Newcastle. And, surprisingly, Rafael Benitez’s side dealt with it. Recording their first clean sheet since Feb. 6, Benitez’s men rode their luck against Swansea City but two late goals brought relief around St James’ Park and Benitez his first win as Newcastle boss.

[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score

With Aston Villa relegated on Saturday following their 1-0 defeat to Manchester United, it’s now two from Newcastle, Sunderland and Norwich to join them. The relegation picture couldn’t not be tighter thanks to big wins for the big North East clubs.

Norwich sit one place out of the relegation zone on 31 points. Sunderland have 30 points and Newcastle now have 28. Both, crucially, have a game in hand on Norwich and if they win those, Sunderland will move out of the bottom three and Newcastle will be right behind them.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ]  

They’ve given themselves a big chance of escaping and looking at the remaining games, Sunderland have the easier schedule on paper of the three relegation battlers. With five games to go for Newcastle and Sunderland, the race to 40 points is on. Only one, if any, of the North East giants will be in the PL next season. Which team will dig themselves out of the bottom three?

Premier League Playback comes out every week as PST’s Lead Writer and Editor takes an alternative look at all the action from the weekend. Read the full archive, here.  

Bundesliga wrap: Dortmund falls to Augsburg, Bremen sinks Schalke

Bundesliga results
Photo by Guido Kirchner/picture alliance via Getty Images)
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It says something about Bayern Munich’s dominance that there are temptations to write off the field when the Bavarians’ four perceived title rivals all drop points in Week 2.

VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]

Borussia Dortmund was stunned by Augsburg while Bayer Leverkusen drew RB Leipzig and Borussia Monchengladbach only managed a point against Union Berlin on Saturday.

Bayern’s Sunday task at Hoffenheim isn’t easy coming off a UEFA Super Cup win over Sevilla at midweek, but they’ll be motivated by the knowledge that a win gives them the chance to match the world record consecutive win streak of 24… and set up a chance to set their own mark against Dortmund in the German Super Cup.

Schalke 1-3 Werder Bremen

Niclas Fullkrug scored a hat trick in the match’s first hour, the opening tally assisted by USMNT man Josh Sargent, as Bremen heaped misery on under-fire David Wagner at Schalke.

Sargent was back at forward following a week in the midfield and went 87 minutes. He put three shots on target and had three key passes in addition to his assist. He converted both of his dribbles but was also debited with a “big chance missed” via SofaScore.

The hosts had much of the ball but saw their Bundesliga winless run reach 18 matches, adding a late red card for Ozan Kabak and stoppage time goal from Mark Uth.

Bayer Leverkusen 1-1 RB Leipzig

All the scoring was done in the first 20 minutes, as Emil Forsberg’s 14th-minute marker was leveled by the hosts’ Kerem Demirbay.

Bayer had 59 percent possession and took 11 of the match’s 18 shots including four on target.

They’ve now drawn both of their matches to start the season, while Leipzig is one of three teams on four points.

Augsburg 2-0 Borussia Dortmund

An 18-6 edge in shot attempts was not enough for the visitors to increase their record to 2-0 on the season.

Augsburg scored before and after halftime with Daniel Caligiuri setting up Felix Uduokhai for an opener before scoring off a Florian Niederlechner feed to collect the win.

American teen Giovanni Reyna put together a decent stat line in the loss, passing at 85 percent amongst his 90 touches and winning 7-of-12 duels while drawing four fouls (SofaScore).


Elsewhere

Hertha Berlin 1-3 Eintracht Frankfurt
Mainz 1-4 Stuttgart
Arminia Bielefeld 1-0 Koln
Borussia Monchengladbach 1-1 Union Berlin
Hoffenheim v Bayern Munich — 9:30 am ET Sunday
Freiburg v Wolfsburg — Noon ET Sunday


Standings

Team GP W D L GF GA GD Home Away PTS
 Augsburg 2 2 0 0 5 1 4 1-0-0 1-0-0 6
 Eintracht Frankfurt 2 1 1 0 4 2 2 0-1-0 1-0-0 4
 RB Leipzig 2 1 1 0 4 2 2 1-0-0 0-1-0 4
 Arminia Bielefeld 2 1 1 0 2 1 1 1-0-0 0-1-0 4
 Bayern Munich 1 1 0 0 8 0 8 1-0-0 0-0-0 3
 Stuttgart 2 1 0 1 6 4 2 0-0-1 1-0-0 3
 Hertha BSC 2 1 0 1 5 4 1 0-0-1 1-0-0 3
 Freiburg 1 1 0 0 3 2 1 0-0-0 1-0-0 3
 Hoffenheim 1 1 0 0 3 2 1 0-0-0 1-0-0 3
 Borussia Dortmund 2 1 0 1 3 2 1 1-0-0 0-0-1 3
 Werder Bremen 2 1 0 1 4 5 -1 0-0-1 1-0-0 3
 Bayer Leverkusen 2 0 2 0 1 1 0 0-1-0 0-1-0 2
 Wolfsburg 1 0 1 0 0 0 0 0-1-0 0-0-0 1
 Union Berlin 2 0 1 1 2 4 -2 0-0-1 0-1-0 1
 Mönchengladbach 2 0 1 1 1 4 -3 0-1-0 0-0-1 1
 1. FC Köln 2 0 0 2 2 4 -2 0-0-1 0-0-1 0
 Mainz 05 2 0 0 2 2 7 -5 0-0-1 0-0-1 0
 Schalke 04 2 0 0 2 1 11 -10 0-0-1 0-0-1 0

Chelsea completes 3-goal comeback, draws West Brom

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West Brom – Chelsea: Chelsea spotted the hosts three goals as West Brom scored thrice in the first 28 minutes but drew the Blues 3-3 after Tammy Abraham cleaned up a stoppage-time rebound to produce a point at the Hawthorns on Saturday.

Callum Robinson bagged a brace and Kyle Bartley also scored as the Baggies built their big lead but only earned its first point of their fifth spell in the Premier League.

[ MORE: How to watch PL in the USA ]   

Mason Mount and Callum Hudson-Odoi crafted beautiful goals in the second half to lead the comeback bid as Chelsea moved to 1-1-1 on the young season.


3 things we learned: West Brom – Chelsea

1. Bold Baggies: Slaven Bilic’s men took advantage of moments, as their 23 percent possession in the first half yielded a remarkable 3-0 lead thanks to Chelsea errors and a clinical bit of finishing from Robinson. The Bartley goal came off a set piece and West Brom would’ve targeted that from the start and embraced a 1-0 lead. That it was the third goal of the first half-hour had to have Bilic and his Baggies in a fit of amused laughter. Remember: This West Brom team lost 3-0 to Leicester and 5-2 against Everton.

2. Chelsea delivers on chances but laments defense: Chelsea fans have heard this before, again and again, but their 2019-20 Blues created more chances than any Premier League team outside of Manchester City. They scored 33 less goals than City and 16 fewer than Liverpool. Chelsea needed all of its 76 percent possession and 22 total shots to come back from an absurd first half at the Hawthorns. Ugly. A penny for Antonio Rudiger’s thoughts.

3. Impact subs: Lampard pushed two buttons at halftime. Taking off Marcos Alonso on a yellow for Cesar Azpilicueta was nothing risky considering the latter has been so good for such a long time, bu removing influential Mateo Kovacic for Hudson-Odoi deserves a high-five. It could’ve backfired — though what would that have really mattered given the 3-0 deficit? — but Hudson-Odoi combined for a wonderful second goal and Azpilicueta was steady on the left and assisted Mount’s marker. Would Olivier Giroud’s 73rd-minute move for Thiago Silva make a difference, too? No, but Mount’s rip rebounded to Abraham and credit to Lampard for not removing the otherwise wasteful center forward.

Man of the Match:

It’s difficult to look past Robinson and Mount but West Brom center back Bartley had the third goal to go with nine clearances and a perfect 5-of-5 success rate on long balls. He also made a brave stoppage time stop on Werner at the back post.

West Brom - Chelsea
West Bromwich Albion’s Bartley (Photo by Nick Potts/PA Images via Getty Images)

West Brom – Chelsea recap

Willy Caballero’s start between the pipes was under duress, as Robinson got a pass from Matheus Pereira and slashed a shot from the edge of the 18. It went through the legs of Reece James and Caballero couldn’t locate it.

The pink-clad Blues soon found possession and Kai Havertz forced a strong save out of Sam Johnstone with an obscured strike from distance.

James spotted Tammy Abraham in the 12th minute but the striker’s left-foot was inadequate to the back post task. Mason Mount then crossed hard for Werner in traffic, the German’s shot kissing the crossbar for a goal kick.

A poor touch from Thiago Silva gifted Robinson a 1v1 break on goal and the ex-Sheffield United man lashed past Caballero for 2-0.

Bartley made it 3-0 off a corner kick, Darnell Furlong heading the set piece to the back post for a cool finish.

VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]

Mount gave Chelsea hope in the 55th, a terrific shot from distance that froze Johnstone and made it 3-1.

Johnstone then reacted well to slap away a deflected effort from Havertz.

Hudson-Odoi took some time to find his place in the match but his work to produce Chelsea’s second was good stuff. The 19-year-old worked with Timo Werner on his right and Kai Havertz on his left to work his way into the 18 and slot past Johnstone.

That was it, though, as Giroud’s introduction for Thiago Silva and five minutes stoppage time could not produce an equalizer.

Werner nearly lashed one in but Bartley dove headfirst into the path to turn a would-be goal into an equalizer.

That’s when the equalizer arrived at the Hawthorns, a handball on Havertz neither called in the buildup nor legislated by VAR.

Burnley – Southampton: How to watch, start time, team news, odds

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Burnley – Southampton: Two committed and hard-working clubs clash at Turf Moor on Saturday (Watch live at 3pm ET online via Peacock) as both teams are aiming for their first points of the season.

[ MORE: How to watch PL in the USA ]  

Sean Dyche’s Burnley lost at Leicester in their opening game of the season last weekend, while Ralph Hasenhuttl saw his Southampton side hammered 5-2 at home by Tottenham are losing at Crystal Palace on the opening day.

[ MORE: ProSoccerTalk unfiltered, Week 2 ]

These clubs are evenly-matched as Burnley finished 10th and Saints 11th last season, but both clubs know they have increasing competition to finish in midtable.

Here’s everything you need to know ahead of what should be an extremely physical early-season clash.


Team news: Burnley – Southampton (INJURY REPORT)

Dale Stephens goes right into the mix for Burnley, who are without a host of players as Jay Rodriguez suffered an injury in the midweek League Cup win at Millwall and joins Ben Mee, James Tarkowski, Robbie Brady, Johann Berg Gudmundsson, Jack Cork and Ashley Barnes in the treatment room.

Southampton only have one player missing through injury, Nathan Redmond, while Mohammed Salisu isn’t quite up to full speed following his arrival this summer.

 


Odds and ends (full odds provided by our partner, PointsBet)

With all of their injuries Burnley (+220) are the underdogs but Southampton (+135) have never fared well at Burnley and last won at Turf Moor in 2007 when both teams were in the second tier.

PointsBet is our Official Sports Betting Partner and we may receive compensation if you place a bet on PointsBet for the first time after clicking our links


Burnley – Southampton prediction

This is a real clash of style as Hasenhuttl’s Saints will press high and look to force the issue, while Burnley will sit back and soak up the pressure and look to go direct. Burnley always seem to catch Saints out on the break or from set pieces and I think that will be the case here too, but with all of the Clarets’ injuries I think Southampton will come away with something. Burnley 1-1 Southampton.


How to watch Burnley – Southampton stream and start time

Kickoff: 3pm ET Saturday
TV Channel: Peacock
Online: Stream via NBCSports.com

Everton stays perfect in energetic win over Crystal Palace

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Crystal Palace – Everton: Dominic Calvert-Lewin and Richarlison scored as Everton won a battle of unbeatens with Crystal Palace on Saturday at Selhurst Park.

The Toffees claimed a 2-1 win to go 3-0 on the young Premier League season, handing Palace their first loss.

[ MORE: How to watch PL in the USA ]   

Palace’s goal came from a Cheikhou Kouyate header.


3 things we learned: Crystal Palace – Everton

1. Ancelotti pushing the right buttons, especially with James: Carlo Ancelotti’s first full season guiding the Toffees could hardly be going better, with away wins at Palace and Spurs and a home blowout of 10-man West Brom. Yes, Everton got penalty luck on a similar play that was deemed not an offense when Palace took a shot, but few would argue that the visitors didn’t do enough anyway for a win. James Rodriguez remains on another level when playing under the Italian, which is reason enough to celebrate the relationship.

2. Palace a bit unlucky in losing perfect mark: Roy Hodgson’s men will feel they should’ve had a point when Calvert-Lewin’s half-torso, half-arm block in the 18 was not given to Palace as a chance to level from the spot, especially with Ward’s handball being awarded as a pen. With Guaita getting a piece of Calvert-Lewin’s opening goal and Palace having a strong late run of possession, these were fine margins even if Everton likely deserved no less than the point.

3. Is goalkeeping an issue for Everton? Jordan Pickford is being questioned again, days after a silly giveaway cost Everton a goal. Maybe we’re not talking about the goalkeeper’s inability to get a hand on Kouyate’s hammered header if not for the midweek moment, but the goal was Palace’s only shot on target. Pickford hasn’t been great since the season

Man of the Match:

Seamus Coleman. It’s difficult to choose who was better in attack between Calvert-Lewin and Rodriguez, but the Irish right back was dynamic at both ends in setting up the first goal and making three tackles, an interception, and a blocked shot.


Crystal Palace – Everton recap

The Toffees are playing really good football and the opening goal exemplified their attacking prowess as Seamus Coleman started a move with Abdoulaye Doucoure and James Rodriguez which returned to the Irishman for a pass inside the box that Calvert-Lewin put off Vicente Guaita and into the goal.

Palace found a leveler off a set piece, Andros Townsend’s corner kick finding the leaping Kouyate for a header through the flailing arms of Jordan Pickford.

VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]

Joel Ward had two close-range handball penalty shouts reviewed by VAR. The second was just a bit closer to the real deal and VAR awarded Richarlison his chance from the spot. 2-1, 40′.

VAR did not give Palace a chance to level from the spot when Calvert-Lewin blocked a shot inside the box with a combination of his arm and torso, the appendage squeezed close to his side but