West Ham 3-1 Everton: Lanzini, Arnautovic finish off Toffees

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Everton will head into the off-season on a down note as West Ham had the last laugh on the final day with a 3-1 win at the Olympic Stadium. Manuel Lanzini scored in the first half and Marko Arnautovic bagged one in the second half to give the Hammers the final three points of the season.

West Ham started well and had a spectacular early chance as Arnautovic played a brilliant one-two with Mark Noble to carve up the Everton defense, but Toffees goalkeeper Jordan Pickford made a fabulous save to keep the latter out.

The Hammers were forced into an early change as Arthur Masuaku turned his ankle and was forced off, replaced in the 21st minute by Edmilison Fernandes. They worked another big opportunity as West Ham striker shot low five minutes later, and while he beat Pickford, he just barely beat the post as well.

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Everton had its first big chance in the 32nd minute as West Ham defender Angelo Ogbonna made a meal of a long-ball, leaving Everton striker Cenk Tosun clean through on goal, but Adrian made a fantastic save. West Ham had a handball shout near the end of the 1st half as Tosun tried to defend a low cross to the middle of the box, hitting his arm as he slid towards the ground, but the referee waved it off saying the incident was inadvertent and unavoidable.

The opener came seven minutes before the halftime break, one of the messier goals you’ll see. Chiek Kouyate spun in the middle third and looked to play Arnautovic in through the middle, but the pass threw Arnautovic for a loop and he was unable to control. Luckily, Lanzini was right there to latch onto the misplaced pass, and somehow the Everton defense suddenly appeared lost as Lanzini took the space given to him at the top of the box and fired a low shot past Pickford and tucked inside the right post for the game’s first goal. The strike was a deserved lead for the home side who had mostly dominated the opening frame.

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Everton had a bright start to the second half, having brought on Davy Klassen for Ramiro Funes Mori at the break. Sam Allardyce then brought Theo Walcott on at the hour mark in exchange for Tosun, who was visibly angry with coming off.

It made no difference, as West Ham went 2-0 up moments later on a fabulous goal by Arnautovic. He received the ball in space above the box, turned and shook Michael Keane, and fired into the to the top-right corner giving Pickford no chance. The Hammers had a third in the back of the net on 68 minutes, but on the Arnautovic free-kick, Aaron Cresswell was correctly judged to be offside as he headed home the goal.

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Everton got one back in the 75th minute through Oumar Niasse on a corner as the ball pinged around the box, not cleared before it fell to Niasse at the near post for the striker to smash home for his eighth of the season. That would be as close as they get, because Lanzini grabbed another for West Ham to put it away. Against a pair of defenders, Lanzini cut inside on his right foot and fired a curler that Pickford could only get his fingertips to before it tucked inside the back of the net. Adrian made sure to protect the lead with an impressive double save with five minutes to go.

The win pushes West Ham up a number of spots on the final day, sitting them in 13th with 42 points. For Everton, they end the year with 49 points, enough for a top-half finish in eighth.

Huddersfield 0-2 Everton: Toffees rolling

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  • Everton unbeaten in four, two straight wins
  • Huddersfield three points above drop zone
  • Terriers have Man City, Chelsea, Arsenal to play

Everton beat Huddersfield Town 2-0 at the John Smith’s Stadium on Saturday with a goal in each half doing the job for the Toffees.

Cenk Tosun scored in the first half then Idrissa Gueye wrapped things up as Sam Allardyce‘s sit steady in eighth place in the table, while Huddersfield are now just three points off the relegation zone with three tough games to go.

With the win Everton have 48 points, while Huddersfield remain on 33 points.

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Huddersfield put plenty of pressure on Everton early on and the Terriers thought they had a penalty kick but referee Lee Probert waved away calls.

Rajiv Van la Parra went down in the box under contact from Nikola Vlasic but nothing was given and from the resulting corner Alex Pritchard slammed over.

Wayne Rooney made a tremendous block as Huddersfield continued to press high and cause Everton problems. Then the sucker punch arrived.

Everton took the lead just before the break as Theo Walcott raced clear, then fed Tosun who had plenty of work to do.

The Turkish international striker finished calmly across the goal with a precise finish. 1-0 to Everton and Allardyce had a huge smile on his face.

In the second half Seamus Coleman almost made it 2-0 but he couldn’t quite get on the end of a free kick, while at the other end Huddersfield were tentative with their finishing around the box.

Pritchard had another effort at the near post but he snatched it as Huddersfield pushed for the equalizer but Everton were fairly comfortable, even if their fans gave Allardyce plenty of abuse from the away end.

Gueye then sealed the win as Oumar Niasse crossed and Leighton Baines teed up the Senegalese midfielder to struck home. Game. Set. Match.

Burnley 2-1 Everton: Comeback Clarets

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  • Wood heads home late winner
  • Everton took lead through Tosun
  • First win in 12 PL games for Burnley
  • Just 1 away win in 23 games for Everton

Burnley came from behind to beat 10-man Everton 2-1 at Turf Moor on Saturday, with Ashley Barnes and Chris Wood grabbing second half goals after Cenk Tosun gave Everton an early lead.

It marked the first time Burnley have come from behind to win a Premier League game under Sean Dyche.

The Clarets dominated large spells of the game but Sam Allardyce‘s side had plenty of chances to score and were made to pay for their lack of composure in front of goal. To add insult to injury Ashley Williams was sent off late on for elbowing Barnes in the face.

With the win Burnley solidify their spot in seventh and have 38 points, while Everton remain in ninth on 35 points after three defeats in their last four games.

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Burnley had plenty of joy out wide early on but it was Everton who had the first big chance of the game. After the  ball was cut back from the left, Walcott fired well over with the goal gaping as his teammate Tom Davies seemed to get in his way.

At the other end Jack Cork blazed over and Johan Berg Gudmundsson’s cross caused Jordan Pickford to palm it away, but then Everton hit the Clarets with the opener.

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Walcott’s cross from the right was flicked on by Seamus Coleman and Tosun nodded home his first Everton goal following his big money move from Besiktas in January.

Before the break the game opened as Burnley searched for an equalizer with Pickford brilliantly denying Ashley Barnes’ header, while Everton were dangerous on the break as Nick Pope denied Walcott.

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In the second half Burnley kept up the pressure as Pickford denied Lennon, then stopping Ben Mee‘s header with another fine stop. The equalizer finally arrived for Burnley as Matt Lowton‘s fantastic ball caught out Michael Keane and Barnes raced in on goal before beating Pickford at his near post after poor positioning. 1-1.

Burnley went close to a winner soon after as Gudmundsson’s cross deflected just wide of onrushing attackers, while Everton introduced Wayne Rooney off the bench to try and go ahead for a second time.

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At the other end Barnes almost scored a carbon copy of his first goal but Pickford got his angles right to deny the English striker, while Oumar Niasse blazed over with Everton dangerous late in the game on the break.

Gylfi Sigurdsson showed fine composure in the box to set up a chance but the Icelandic playmaker pushed his shot just wide of the far post and Everton were made to pay for that.

A corner from the left found Wood at the back post and the sub headed home from close range to seal a first win in 12 for Burnley. Late on Williams was shown a straight red card for elbowing Barnes in the face as he waited for a free kick to compound Everton’s misery.

Why are we so concerned with Dele Alli and diving?

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Another weekend, another debate about Dele Alli taking a tumble in the penalty box.

Rinse, repeat.

There should be no debate about the latest penalty kick he won late on against Rochdale in the fifth round of the FA Cup on Sunday. He was clearly fouled and both opposition players and their manager had no complaints as the nimble Englishman went down under contact.

Alli, 21, was brought off the bench to try and drag Spurs back into the game and he did just that with Harry Kane slamming home the spot kick Alli won to put Spurs 2-1 up late on, only for the Premier League side to let in a late equalizer against their third-tier opponents to set up a replay at Wembley in 10 days time.

Yet it is the constant hubbub around Alli and diving which is the biggest issue which needs to be addressed because we are not focusing on the problem of simulation and how best to solve it.

With three yellow cards for simulation while playing for Spurs in the Premier League (more than any other player since 2015-16), plus his manager Mauricio Pochettino saying he understands diving to gain an advantage after Tottenham’s controversial 2-2 draw at Liverpool earlier this month, Alli is in danger of being pigeonholed as a cheat, if he hasn’t been already.

Speaking after the FA Cup game this weekend, Rochdale manager Keith Hill discussed the 88th minute penalty being awarded and Alli’s actions.

“I’m led to believe he was looking for it, but why not? If players feel there is an opportunity to be gained then brilliant, I don’t hold it against him,” Hill said. “I don’t blame him and I don’t have a problem with it. Whether it’s him, Harry Kane or [Rochdale’s opening scorer] Ian Henderson, it doesn’t matter who does it. If he does that for England in the World Cup this summer then I will definitely be supporting him.”

Comments like this, although deemed to be supportive by Hill, are the reason why Alli is being branded a cheat. Instead of vilifying him, the bigger issue of simulation in the game should be the focus. But it’s not. Lengthy bans have been discussed, so too have sin bins, but nothing is really being done to eradicate the issue.

Yet if someone praises Alli for initiating the contact and going down, he’s hammered. If he’s criticized for going down too easily, he’s hammered. He’s in a lose-lose situation. But why is Alli being singled out for special treatment?

Quite simply, it’s because he’s a special talent and because he is the next great hope for England, even if this season he hasn’t quite lived up to the hype of being crowned the PFA Young Player of the Year in each of his first two Premier League campaigns. Pochettino’s recent honest comments (which he since stated were taken out of context as he doesn’t condone diving) haven’t done the reputation of his players much good with Kane, Erik Lamela and others also scrutinized heavily after recent tumbles in the box.

“To stop the game, to punish people. Some 20 years ago, 30 years ago, it was like all congratulate the player when he tricks the referee. If you remember the football 30 years ago. That is the football I was in love with when I was a child. Football is about trying to trick your opponent. You know? Yes or no? Tactic – what does tactic mean?,” Pochettino said. “When you do some tactics it is to try to trick the opponent. You say, ‘Oh I play on the right but I’m going to finish on the left’. It’s a mix that I am worried that maybe we are going to kill the game. We love this game.”

Purists within the English game have long lambasted and singled out foreign imports (rightly or wrongly) for taking tumbles in the box, going down too easily and trying to con referees into giving them an advantage.

Many foreign imports to the PL who have since admitted they were taught at a young age to go down if they felt contact in the box which further enraged the debate. Now, with the heavy international influence at each PL club, we have seen simulation become a bigger part of the English game over the past decade and more anger emerge from pundits, coaches and fans alike.

A new rule introduced this season to retrospectively ban any players found guilty of diving (if the incident wasn’t spotted at the time by the officials) has seen Oumar Niasse and Wilfried Zaha banned, although Zaha won his appeal against the decision, and it seems to be having some impact, but it’s still not doing enough to stamp out simulation in the English game.

The initial impetus officials had at the start of the season to try and get rid of simulation has dwindled and old habits are sneaking back into the game.

Is Alli the only player who goes down often? No. Yet the way Alli plays the game, we will more often than not see him clattered into in the box. He flicks and pokes balls past defenders and his relatively slight frame means he will likely go down under contact from a bruising center back or midfielder. That’s just science and it’s the same for many other talented attackers who are built for speed and agility rather than strength and power.

Alli’s reputation as a hothead supersedes these simulation allegations and previous bans for punching opponents in the stomach, lunging into tackles to be sent off and off the ball incidents certainly do him no favors in proclaiming his innocence.

But the vendetta building against him as a serial cheat needs to end before this vicious cycle gets further out of hand and his talent erodes amid the jeers from opposition fans.

It’s unlikely that Alli, like many players, will stop going down in the box anytime soon if he feels contact from an opposition defender. The sooner everyone starts to accept it, the sooner everyone can move on and focus on trying to eradicate serial simulation in the game once and for all. Be it with lengthy bans, sin bins or straight red cards, something drastic must be done.

That’s the bigger issue here. Not Dele Alli.

PL roundup: Citizens crack 70 points, Spurs grab North London Derby

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Get caught up on all seven of Saturday’s Premier League fixtures…

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Manchester City 5-1 Leicester CityFULL RECAP

Raheem Sterling gave the Citizens a lead inside three minutes, but it was Sergio Aguero’s second-half outburst that paced Man City to their league-leading 23rd win of the year. The Argentine international netted on four separate occasions after halftime to extend the lead to 5-1, after Jamie Vardy had temporarily cancelled out Sterling’s opener. Pep Guardiola‘s side now sit 16 points above second-place Manchester United with 11 matches remaining.

 

Tottenham 1-0 ArsenalFULL RECAP

At the moment, Mauricio Pochettino‘s side have gone third in the PL courtesy of Harry Kane‘s header. The Englishman has now scored seven goals in as many matches during the last seven North London Derbies.

Everton 3-1 Crystal PalaceFULL RECAP

The Toffees climbed to within two points of seventh-place Burnley behind an offensive outburst from the hosts. Gylfi SigurdssonOumar Niasse and Tom Davies all scored after halftime to bring Sam Allardyce‘s men up to 34 points on the season at Goodison Park. Palace’s lone goal on the day came through Luka Milivojevic, who converted a penalty kick late on after Ashley Williams conceded the spot kick via a handball.

West Ham United 2-0 WatfordFULL RECAP

The Hammers are now unbeaten in seven of their last eight, and have climbed up to 12th place after Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez and Marko Arnautovic found the back of the net on Saturday. Meanwhile, Watford is level on 30 points with West Ham, despite the Hornets boasting a superior goal differential through 27 rounds of play.

Stoke City 1-1 Brighton & Hove Albion — FULL RECAP

Xherdan Shaqiri helped capture a point for the Potters at the bet365 Stadium, after Jose Izquierdo had given Brighton the lead early on after a beautifully-executed team goal from the visitors. Stoke remains in 18th place on 25 points, while Brighton sits three points clear of a tightly-contested relegation battle.

Swansea City 1-0 Burnley — FULL RECAP

The Swans benefitted from Ki Sung-Yueng‘s second-half finish to go 15th place, while Burnley remains in seventh place despite the club having gone winless in their last 10 matches.