McBurnie sees Sheffield United past West Ham

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At their best, West Ham United have produced quality play this season. At their worst, the Hammers have been punished. It was nearly the former, but the latter prevailed at Bramall Lane on Friday as lynchpin Lukasz Fabianski was lost to injury early in the match and his replacement’s error saw Oli McBurnie lead Sheffield United to a 1-0 victory.

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In off the bench, Robert Snodgrass seemed to have a late equalizer in stoppage time, but it was ruled out by VAR thanks to a handball on Declan Rice, reigniting debate about the new handball rules involving attacking players.

The win for Sheffield United sees the Blades move above Manchester United, Tottenham, and Wolves into fifth, while West Ham still remains in 16th, just two points above the relegation zone.


Three things we learned

1. Sheffield United is back to business

Not that they had anything to prove, but Sheffield United continues to produce scalp after scalp. After a short three-match winless run that began to produce doubt over their ability to maintain the cutting edge they showed throughout the first half of the season, the Blades got back to winning ways. They dominated the midfield for much of the game, and looked dangerous in the final third.

[ MORE: Premier League stats ]

The Blades nearly came to rue some wastefulness on the near-goal by Snodgrass, but in the end they survived. Chris Wilder has been nothing but a pleasant surprise in the Premier League this season.

2. West Ham is doomed without Fabianski

It only took 38 minutes for West Ham to miss Lukasz Fabianski as David Martin‘s mistake gifted Sheffield United the game’s only goal. Fabianski has been one of the best goalkeepers in the Premier League the last two seasons, but this hip injury has kept him off the field in chunks. The Hammers have 15 points in nine games with Fabianski on the field, and just five points in 12 matches (including today, where he played just 15 minutes) without the Polish international. Sitting just two points above the drop, West Ham must improve between the sticks to survive.

3. David Moyes can’t afford to bench Robert Snodgrass

Robert Snodgrass appears back to his best, and David Moyes can’t afford to keep him on the bench. After a dry spell through November and half of December, the Scottish international appears back to his best, and West Ham will rue not having him on the field the entire match. Snodgrass was electric off the bench, and while Manuel Lanzini was creative at times, Snodgrass was consistently the team’s best attacking option down the stretch as they poured on the pressure.


Sheffield United was the better side for the first 15 minutes, and worked a great opportunity from a corner that saw John Egan head just over the bar. As the first half went on, West Ham built its counter-attack and worked a chance for Felipe Anderson who got by the Blades defense but scuffed wide left past a charging Dean Henderson.

One of the more influential moments in the match came 15 minutes in as West Ham goalkeeper Lukasz Fabianski went down with a hip injury occurring on a goal kick, looking to be a recurrence of an injury he sustained earlier in the season. West Ham has been awful this season without Fabianski, and that proved important after the break.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

The loss of Fabianski proving tragic for the Hammers after the break. Sheffield United went in front on 53 minutes as Fleck snatched away a bad David Martin goal-kick and fed Oli McBurnie for the opening strike. The goal came on the game’s first shot on target.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]

Snodgrass was influential off the bench, and Sebastian Haller failed on a pair second-half chances to equalize – putting one of those in the back of the net but the offside flag scuttled the chance. Snodgrass appeared to have the decisive moment in stoppage time, with the ball in the back of the net, but VAR intervened. Declan Rice fed Snodgrass on the break in the 92nd minute, and while his shot was slowed by Henderson, it wasn’t stopped, trickling over the line. On replay, however, a clear handball off the arm of Rice saw the goal ruled out. While the decision was extremely harsh as Rice had no way of avoiding the unintentional touch off the head of a defender, the decision was consistent with the rules that prevent attacking players from handling the ball in the buildup to a goal not matter the circumstances.

Season restart preview: Brighton and Hove Albion

Brighton season restart
Photo by Gareth Fuller/PA Images via Getty Images
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With the 2019-20 Premier League season soon to restart, let’s focus on all 20 clubs and see where they stand ahead of the final nine matches of the season.

Brighton is next.

[ MORE: Remaining PL schedule in full ]

Let’s take a closer look at all things Seagulls when it comes to the season restart.


Outlook: If there’s a team whose results don’t show the way they’ve played, it’s Brighton. Graham Potter’s Seagulls have the sixth-best possession percentage in the league, are a tidy seventh in passing, and are mid-table in tackles per game, interceptions per game, and shots per game.

[ MORE: Ranking every Brighton player in 2019-20 ]

The expected goals stats show even less reward for good work, with Brighton scoring 8.35 goals less than expected in open play and 4.38 less from corner kicks.

Despite all these good things, Brighton is two points clear of the drop zone with nine matches to play and has a terribly challenging schedule especially at the Amex Stadium.


Tactical analysis: Graham Potter has put the Seagulls in myriad formations this season, though he’s been utilizing at least four at the back since the calendar turned to 2020. He’s ready to attack but pragmatic given the club’s hopes of staving off the teams below it in the fight for PL survival.

[ MORE: The 2 Robbies assess Brighton’s chances ]


Possible XI (4-2-3-1) 

—– Ryan —–

— Montoya — Webster — Dunk — Burn —

—– Propper —– Mooy —–

— Trossard — Gross — Alzate —

—– Maupay—–

Glenn Murray and Alireza Jahanbakhsh are excellent weapons to have on the bench, and Brighton’s also got a very good center back in reserve in the form of Shame Duffy and an underrated center mid in Dale Stephens who will see playing time, too. On paper, this team is too good to go down.


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Remaining schedule
Home: Arsenal, Man City, Liverpool, Manchester United, Newcastle
Away: Leicester, Norwich, Southampton, Burnley

Predicted finish: They’ll do enough to get by, though that home fixture list is simply brutal. Safe before the final weekend.

Social media wrap: All 20 Premier League clubs, many players stand against racism

Premier League social media
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The protests in the United States have inspired anti-racism statements from around the world, including all gestures from all 20 Premier League clubs and many players and managers.

There have been ongoing protests and horrible violence in the U.S. since the May 25 killing of George Floyd, a handcuffed black man who died after a white police officer pressed his knee into his neck for nearly nine minutes even after he stopped moving and pleaded for air in Minnesota.

Newcastle United’s American defender DeAndre Yedlin issued an emotional thread (below) as one of a great deal of players to express hopes for change and solidarity, while Schalke’s Weston McKennie explained his wearing a black armband reading “Justice For George” in the Bundesliga this weekend.

[ MORE: Remaining PL schedule in full ]

From Ancelotti to Zaha, Antonio to Yedlin, Arsenal to Wolves, we’ve collected many of their sentiments below in what we hope serves as universal disdain for racial prejudice.

Some players like Leicester City’s Wes Morgan and even entire clubs (Arsenal) changed their online identity photos to reflect these troubled times.

All PL clubs issued messages of solidarity, many using the Black Lives Matter hashtag and making no bones about where they stand.

And we’ll start with a longtime PL club currently in the Championship, who blasted a season ticket holder’s rejection of their unifying Tweet.

Here are some other clubs and players worldwide to have noticed what’s happening in the United States.

 

Season restart preview: Bournemouth

Bournemouth season restart
Photo by Robin Jones - AFC Bournemouth/AFC Bournemouth via Getty Images
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With the 2019-20 Premier League season soon to restart, let’s focus on all 20 clubs and see where they stand ahead of the final nine matches of the season.

[ MORE: Remaining PL schedule in full ]

Let’s take a closer look at all things Bournemouth when it comes to the season restart.


Outlook: Tough sledding for the Cherries, who face zero of their fellow bottom-six sides (though 13th place Newcastle and 14th place Saints both visit the Vitality Stadium).

There’s been an element of bad luck to Bournemouth’s woes, with its expected goals stats showing Ryan Fraser, Joshua King, and Callum Wilson have deserved better end product and that the Cherries’ 14 goals from open play should be closer to 22. The defense has been bad and xG says it could’ve been worse, too. Injuries had hit Bournemouth’s defense corps in a big way, too. How much better will they be after the break?

[ MORE: Ranking every Cherries player in 2019-20 ]


Tactical analysis: Eddie Howe utilized a 4-4-2 with two defensive midfielders for much of the early season, but has gone between a lone striker with a packed-in midfielder and a 4-3-3 when he thinks an opponent is exploitable.

Howe started a 4-4-2 against almost all of the Cherries’ remaining opponents, choosing a 5-4-1 against Wolves and Man City. There’s no guarantee he’ll continue that, especially when some matches may dictate a draw or limited goal differential damage over wins.


Possible XI (4-3-3) 

—– Ramsdale —–

— Smith — S. Cook — Ake — Rico —

—– Lerma —– Billing — L. Cook —

— Fraser —– C. Wilson —– King —–

Howe prefers to attack when at all possible, but the points will be at a premium against some very challenging opponents. It’s a safe bet that he’ll ask a lot from his forwards while trying to deploy his three relentless midfielders together whenever possible. The question here is whether Aaron Ramsdale returns quickly from his COVID-19 positive test, or if it’ll be Artur Boruc or someone else between the sticks.


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Remaining schedule
Home: Crystal Palace, Newcastle, Spurs, Leicester City, Southampton
Away: Wolves, Manchester United, Man City, Everton

Predicted finish: The Cherries stay up, just, as King and Callum Wilson deliver the goods in front of a determined and improved midfield.

Premier League clubs will reportedly be allowed preseason friendlies

Premier League return
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Premier League clubs will be allowed to play preseason matches ahead of the 2019-20’s restart season later this month.

There will be strict protocols due to the coronavirus pandemic, however, and the matches will likely be officiated by club coaching staffs (We have so many Jose Mourinho as ref quips to make here, but let’s keep going anyway).

[ MORE: Remaining PL schedule in full ]

Sky Sports says clubs will be limited to opponents within 90 minutes of their venue, and that players will have to drive themselves to the stadiums and go directly to the field in uniform.

With the League One and League Two seasons still hanging in the balance, it’s likely PL sides will be limited to each other and Championship sides. Presumably clubs will not want to meet others still on their fixture list.

We assume some players will get dressed in their vehicles outside the ground, but allow yourself some levity in these challenging times and imagine a fully kitted-up Virgil van Dijk driving the roads from Liverpool to Wigan Athletic.