EPL results at a glance: Magpies down Hammers in classic encounter

THE English Premier League (EPL) returned after the international break with a bang, serving up plenty of excitement and goals galore. The standout game was the topsy-turvy affair at St James Park where Newcastle edged West Ham in a seven-goal thriller.

Elsewhere, Chelsea were thwarted by a resolute ten-man Burley while Fulham and Sheffield United served up a six-goal thriller. FocusM takes a look at the talking points from all the games thus far.

Newcastle 4 v West Ham United 3

A Premiership classic gasped the commentator at the end of this pulsating encounter. He was not exaggerating, as the home side took maximum points in a see-saw battle that was settled by a screamer from Harvey Barnes in the 90th minute. Newcastle had led with an early penalty from Alexander Isak but found themselves 3-1 down at halftime.

Inexplicably, the Hammers took their foot off the pedal after the break and sat back, inviting pressure from the Geordies. A clumsy foul from the hapless Kalvin Philips gave Newcastle a way back in as Isak dispatched his second penalty of the afternoon.

A grandstand finish came courtesy of two goals from substitute Barnes who sent St James Park into delirium with his last-minute curler.

Tottenham Hotspurs 2 v Luton Town 1

Luton were handed a lifeline in their bid to retain their top-flight status when Nottingham Forest were handed a points deduction for financial irregularities. This saw both sides swap league places, with the latter dropping into the bottom three. Luton took an early lead through a goal from Tahith Chong in the third minute.

It was incessant pressure on the Hatter’s goal thereafter as the home side dominated possession and carved out numerous chances. Lady Luck seemed to be smiling at Luton, with the woodwork and goal-line clearances coming to the rescue.

Ultimately, the gulf in class was too huge for Luton to overcome as Son Heung-min buried the winner in the 86th minute to keep Spurs in the hunt for a Champions League spot.

Chelsea 2 v Burnley 2

Chelsea coach Mauricio Pochettino could not hide his anger and disappointment after the match, as he described his side’s performance as unworthy of a team in the Premiership. He lamented a lack of aggression and control when his expensively assembled team did not have the ball, allowing relegation-threatened Burnley back into the game.

Chelsea seemed to be on the way to a comfortable three points after taking the lead, and the visitors were reduced to ten men. Instead of managing the game, Chelsea kept gifting Burnley possession even after Cole Palmer’s second goal of the game in the 78th minute and contrived to concede an equaliser shortly after.

The result is a damning reflection of the state in which Chelsea find themselves in the post-Abramovich era—bloated and lost at sea.

Aston Villa 2 v Wolverhampton Wanderers 0

The competition for the fourth spot is heating up as both Aston Villa and Spurs go toe-to-toe for the final Champions League berth. The away side had started brightly in this West Midlands derby but came undone by goals from Moussa Diaby and Ezri Konsa.

Wolves boss Gary O’Neil bemoaned the injuries to his forward line, which he believed made the crucial difference as they failed to capitalise on the numerous chances created. An injury to Ollie Watkins took some of the shine off Villa’s victory and Unai Emery will be anxiously awaiting news of how long his chief striker will be missing.

Bournemouth 2 v Everton 1

Everton have now gone a dozen games without a win—a new club record. With more possible sanctions looming for breaching financial rules, Sean Dyche’s side can’t afford many more afternoons like this when comical defending led to more dropped points. A last-minute own goal from Seamus Coleman when the veteran defender was under no pressure, saw the Toffees slide further into relegation trouble.

The Merseysiders are now locked in a three-way battle with Luton and Forest to avoid that last spot in the drop zone. They will also need striker Dominic Calvert-Lewin to rediscover his scoring touch as his drought continues into a mind-boggling 23rd game.

Nottingham Forest 1 v Crystal Palace 1

Apart from the points deduction that dragged them into the bottom three, Nottingham Forest have been disappointing this term. This hard-earned point saw them climb out of the drop zone but Nuno Espirito Santos knows better performances will be needed in the run-in if Forest are to retain their top-flight status.

Buoyed by a noisy home crowd determined to make their presence count, Forest probed and searched for an opener only to fall behind to a beautifully worked goal from Jean-Phillipe Mateta in the 11th minute.

The architect of the Palace goal was the effervescent Eberiche Eze who again highlighted why so many big clubs have their eyes on him. The Eagles have often looked flat and uninspiring without him and will be hard-pressed to keep hold of him next season.

Sheffield United 3 v Fulham 3

Plenty of heart and endeavour, yet no reward apart from a solitary point for the seemingly doomed home side. Sheffield United need to win desperately if they are to pull off the impossible.

Rooted at the foot of the table, the Blades could have narrowed the gap to safety to five points had they held on for the win. But a late goal in injury time from Carvahlo Muniz gave Fulham a share of the spoils in a riveting game that was high on drama and entertainment.

Chris Wilder will be pulling his hair out at how his side managed to let a 3-1 lead slip late on, but he will be heartened to see heart and commitment from his charges. The draw may have been disappointing for Blades supporters, but there is life yet in the relegation dogfight.

Brentford 1 v Manchester United 1

The home side enjoyed a comfortable victory in the corresponding fixture last season and for large parts of this game, they looked set to repeat that result. Brentford were the superior side for much of the game, bossing a Manchester United side still buzzing from their epic victory over Liverpool in the FA Cup a fortnight ago.

Somehow, the score remained level in regulation time and the underwhelming Mason Mount popped up to put the Red Devils ahead in the fifth minute of injury time. Yet, there was still time for a sting in the tail as the Bees rallied to score a deserved equalizer three minutes later.

It has been a season of false dawns for Erik Ten Hag and his inconsistent Manchester United side; questions will remain over the Dutchman’s suitability for Old Trafford’s hot seat. – March 31, 2024

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