Michy Batshuayi

What we learned in the Premier League

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What did we learn in the Premier League on Saturday?

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There were six Premier League games across three time slots and plenty had huge implications in the top four battle, European battle and relegation scrap.

Here’s a look at the big talking points from around the Premier League as the drama really never stops.


VAR steals the show

In both Chelsea’s win against Tottenham and Bournemouth’s hammering at Burnley, VAR stole the show. And not in a good way. Spurs’ Giovani Lo Celso somehow stayed on the pitch but Stockley Park later said he should have been sent off. Bournemouth were hard done by as two goals were chalked out at Burnley and the second one was in such a cruel manner as they had a goal taken away and a penalty awarded against them which put the game to bed.


Giroud now the main man

Chelsea have been missing a target man and Olivier Giroud stepped up against Spurs to put them in the driving seat in the Premier League’s top four race.. Big time This is just what he does. For some reason Giroud has been the third-choice striker all season at Chelsea and he looked likely to leave in January. Chelsea will be glad he didn’t. Tammy Abraham is young and has cooled down after a red-hot start to the season and Michy Batshuayi doesn’t have Giroud’s composure or experience in key moments. Giroud jumped off the bench on Monday against Man United and scored but was just offside and he has the knack of being in the right place at the right time. We spoke with Giroud after his display against United and he said he was fired up and ready to start, especially with a place in France’s EURO 2020 squad on the line. With Bayern Munich coming up in the Champions League last 16 on Tuesday, surely he has to lead the Chelsea line. With his clever runs and flicks, Giroud linked up defense and attack perfectly. This is just what he does and it is a mystery as to why he hasn’t played more this season.


Man City’s tough week ends well

It has been a rough seven or so days for Man City off the pitch but on it they have pretty much wrapped up second place in the Premier League. After their two-season European ban their fans have been revolting against UEFA and Pep Guardiola has insisted he will stay at the club. Winning away at Leicester City with another clean sheet showed plenty of character after a win against West Ham on Wednesday. After Sergio Aguero had a late penalty kick saved it would have been easy for City to sulk. Even if VAR, or a lack of it, may have helped them on a Kevin De Bruyne possible handball, they dug deep to get a late win which they deserved. They now sit seven points above third-place Leicester and Man City will finish second this season. Liverpool’s title party should start soon if it hasn’t already as they can go 22 points clear once again with a win on Monday against West Ham. Man City are hanging in there and ahead of their game against Real Madrid on Wednesday they are showing plenty of grit to put the UEFA troubles to one side.


Villa, Bournemouth in big trouble

Aston Villa and Bournemouth are in real trouble and their final 11 games are horrendous. Where are Villa and the Cherries going to get their points from? Villa were awful as their seething manager Dean Smith saw his side totally outplayed by Saints. Bournemouth were unlucky due to VAR but with Chelsea and Liverpool in their next two and Spurs, Everton, Man City, Leicester and Man United still to come, where are Bournemouth’s points going to come from? Villa are in a similar predicament and also have the distraction of the League Cup final against Man City at Wembley next weekend.

Rampant Chelsea secure huge win, humble rivals Tottenham

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Chelsea beat Tottenham Hotspur 2-1 at Stamford Bridge on Saturday to secure a huge three points in their battle fo finish in the top four of the Premier League.

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Olivier Giroud and Marcos Alonso struck early in each half as Jose Mourinho’s Spurs were totally dominated with Erik Lamela‘s late cross deflected in off Antonio Rudiger for nothing more than a consolation.

Frank Lampard‘s tactical changes paid off as he completed the double over his former manager, as he became the first man to beat a side managed by Mourinho both home and away in a single league season.

With the win (their first in five games) Chelsea cement their spot in fourth and now sit four points above fifth-place Spurs who have 40 points.


3 things we learned

1. Giroud delivers clinical edge: This is just what he does. For some reason Giroud has been the third-choice striker all season at Chelsea and he looked likely to leave in January. Chelsea will be glad he didn’t. Tammy Abraham is young and has cooled down after a red-hot start to the season and Michy Batshuayi doesn’t have Giroud’s composure or experience in key moments. Giroud jumped off the bench on Monday against Man United and scored but was just offside and he has the knack of being in the right place at the right time. We spoke with Giroud after his display against United and he said he was fired up and ready to start, especially with a place in France’s EURO 2020 squad on the line. With Bayern Munich coming up in the Champions League last 16 on Tuesday, surely he has to lead the Chelsea line. With his clever runs and flicks, Giroud linked up defense and attack perfectly. This is just what he does and it is a mystery as to why he hasn’t played more this season.

2. Mourinho’s excuses seep into his players: We get it, Mourinho has been unlucky with injuries with Harry Kane out until April and Heung-Min Son perhaps out for the season. But Mourinho saying that a top four finish this season would be the best achievement of his managerial career was a stretch. That message of negativity filtered into the minds of his Spurs players as the 2-1 scoreline flattered them. Bergwijn and Moura were so isolated and Tottenham’s midfield was totally overrun. Mourinho has done well to push Spurs back into the top four conversation since he arrived but Tottenham, especially defensively, are so far away from being genuine top four contenders.

3. VAR drama rumbles on: Giovani Lo Celso should have been sent off and VAR officials at Stockley Park have since admitted that via BT Sport. His stamp on Cesar Azpilicueta’s leg was a clear case of violent conduct and a lengthy VAR review during the game resulted in the Argentine playmaker staying on the pitch. How is that possible? When you see it you will wince and even thought Azpilicueta slid in, Lo Celso had enough time to pull his foot away from the challenge. One of the worst VAR decisions you will see as the debate about its consistency rumbles on.

Man of the Match: Olivier Giroud – Scored a goal and had a hand in the second as his overall display provided Chelsea with a focal point. Even though his contract is up this summer, expect to see plenty of Giroud for Chelsea between now and then.


Chelsea looked dangerous early on as Giroud went close from a corner as the hosts came flying out of the traps.

They got the goal their fine start deserved as Giroud was denied by Hugo Lloris, Ross Barkley hit the post with the rebound and then Giroud was on hand to tuck home from a tight angle to make it 1-0.

A VAR delay to check if the goal was offside was needed but in his first start since November, Giroud had delivered. Marcos Alonso sent a volley just over as Chelsea were in their groove.

Spurs improved as half time drew closer as Lucas Moura‘s shot deflected over and then from the resulting corner a looping header from Davinson Sanchez was tipped over by Willy Caballero.

Japhet Tanganga almost made the most of a long ball in-behind Alonso but his first touch was just a tad too heavy, as Spurs were hanging in the game despite Chelsea looking the more dangerous.

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The second half continued in the same pattern of the first as Chelsea doubled their lead in splendid fashion.

A flowing move which involved all four players brought into the starting lineup by Lampard saw Giroud flick the ball towards Mason Mount who fed Barkley who teed up Alonso to smash home a low shot and send the home fans wild.

Moments after a huge moment of controversy arrived as Giovani Lo Celso appeared to stamp on Cesar Azpilicueta’s leg but after a lengthy VAR check no red card was given as Chelsea’s fans, players and coaches looked on in bemusement.

Tanguy Ndombele then went down in the box as he tried to dribble towards goal but Spurs were so lackluster in attack and Chelsea totally deserved a massive three points as substitute Tammy Abraham went close late on as Lloris saved and Alonso smashed the bar with a wonderful free kick.

Tottenham did pull one back in the 89th minute after substitute Lamela crossed and his effort deflected into the net off Rudiger, but Chelsea never looked likely to cough up another goal late on.

Chelsea’s Lampard: VAR didn’t do its job

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It’s no surprise, but Frank Lampard agrees with the majority of people who watched Monday’s match between Chelsea and Manchester United.

Harry Maguire should’ve been sent off for a kick to the groin of Michy Batshuayi, and VAR also missed the shove before the shove on Brandon Williams that negated a Chelsea equalizer in a 2-0 loss at Stamford Bridge.

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Here’s what Lampard had to say about both incidents, via Football.London:

“Decisions are crucial. Maguire should get a red. I think that is what VAR was brought in for. I think the Zouma one should have stood: Azpilicueta was shoved.

“It is just the wrong decision. That is what it was brought in for. It is very confusing. I think everyone I have spoken to has said it.”

Lampard acknowledged that Olivier Giroud was just offside on his goal, but that’s about all the manager was willing to give the officials on the day.

The Chelsea manager also said that N’Golo Kante has an adductor injury and that “it doesn’t look good,” while injured Christian Pulisic will not be ready for a massive top four tilt this weekend versus Tottenham Hotspur.

Here’s Lampard’s interview that aired on NBCSN:

Player ratings from Chelsea 0-2 Manchester United

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Manchester United defeated Chelsea 2-0 on Monday at Stamford Bridge, moving the Red Devils to within three points of their fourth-place hosts.

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Who were the stars and the duds? Read on…

Chelsea

Willy Caballero — 6 — Just one save on the day.

Reece James — 5 — A miserable in 50/50s for a promising player.

Antonio Rudiger — 6 — Lost Maguire on United’s second goal but was otherwise strong

Andreas Christensen — 6.5 — Strong and fought through a bloodied nose before succumbing to the injury at halftime, but couldn’t stop Martial from making it 1-0.

Cesar Azpilicueta — 6 — Okay day, but rightly or wrongly his shove cost Chelsea a goal (Probably wrongly).

Mateo Kovacic — 8 — He was everywhere. According to Sofascore, Kovacic had over 100 touches, 87 percent passing, two key passes, four of five dribbles and 8-of-14 in duels to go with an interception, three clearances, and three tackles.

Jorginho — 8 — Exceptional. Nailed eight of his nine long balls and passed at 94 percent. A maestro.

N’Golo Kante — N/A — Only a dozen minutes before his injury-riddled season met February head-on.

Willian — 7 — Couldn’t get Chelsea on the board, so we shouldn’t praise him too much, but the Brazilian doesn’t get enough love for his willingness and adeptness in tackling.

Pedro — 7 — Three key passes highlight an active day.

Michy Batshuayi — 5 — Couldn’t finish some prime chances, and caught an unpunished boot to the groin. Insult meet injury. Zero shots on target.

Subs

Mason Mount — 6 — Nearly had an assist if not for Olivier Giroud‘s offside toes.

Kurt Zouma — 7 — Came off the bench to score, though it was pulled off the board by VAR. Won six of seven duels, and was steady at the back.

Olivier Giroud — 6 — Nearly had a goal if not for his toes and the timing of a freeze frame.


Manchester United

David De Gea — 6 — Hardly-tested, but did have one fine save.

Luke Shaw — 6 — Not bad.

Harry Maguire — 8 — How do you rate a man who should’ve been sent off but was otherwise a beast and scored a terrific insurance goal? I guess we’re saying you rate him as if he wasn’t sent off, which he wasn’t.

Eric Bailly — 7 — One really poor moment early, but rebounded and showed terrific skill in recovery, tackling, and even moving the ball forward via dribble.

Aaron Wan-Bissaka — 8 — He may end up being the best signing of the summer (Sorry Harry). Terrific assist, four clearances, three blocked shots, two interceptions, and a tackle.

Brandon Williams — 7 — Steadier than his 19 years would have you imagine.

Nemanja Matic — 7 — Busy in the middle, albeit quieter than usual.

Fred — 7 — Got away with one thanks to VAR.

Bruno Fernandes — 7 — Continued to flash his supreme talent, though the end product eluded him.

Daniel James — 5 — Looked busy, but not productive.

Anthony Martial — 7 — Terrific header on the goal, and was industrious in trying to produce. more.

Subs

Andreas Pereira — N/A

Odion Ighalo — N/A

Diogo Dalot — N/A

Maguire on Batshuayi incident: ‘No intent to hurt him or kick him’

Harry Maguire
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Manchester United center back Harry Maguire says he was just trying to help Michy Batshuayi from falling when he kicked the forward in the groin.

Maguire wasn’t disciplined for the incident by Video Assistant Referee, and later scored United’s second goal in a 2-0 win over Chelsea at Stamford Bridge.

[ MORE: JPW’s 3 Things from London ]

The Red Devils’ admitted he thought he could get sent off, because he had studs on his boots and it looked bad.

But really, he was just trying to keep ol’ Michy upright (view video of the incident here).

“I can see why. I knew I caught him but I felt like he was gonna fall on me. My natural reaction was to straighten my leg to try and hold him up. I’ve got some studs on my boots and it probably looks worse than it was on TV. It wasn’t a kick out. I knew at the time, but I think it’s the right decision.

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He was asked whether he was nervous during the review.

“I knew at the time I didn’t have no intent to hurt him or kick him. It wasn’t a kick. I apologized to him, but it was nice that the referee seen it.”

We’ll let the quotes speak for themselves. Supplemental discipline seems likely considering Heung-Min Son‘s red card was not overturned after the fact.