Week 35--Burnley Grab a Point at Stamford Bridge: Chelsea 2-2 Burnley

By David Shams

Sean Dyche’s Burnley side stormed into Stamford Bridge and stole a point from a club surrounded by turmoil. News has been leaking that star-player Eden Hazard is likely on his way out, headed to Madrid on a transfer.

The game itself, though, started a bit like last Wednesday’s City v Spurs match—four goals within the first 24 minutes. There was a sense there’d be more goals in the match, but the game ended knotted at two goals a piece.

Irish midfielder Jeff Hendrick opened the scoring, volleying a poor clearance past Chelsea goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga.

But, four minutes later N’Golo Kante finished off a back pass from Hazard to bring the score level. And two minutes after that, Gonzalo Higuain blasted his shot into the back of the net after a quick give and go with Cesar Azpilicueta.

Chelsea’s lead lasted only ten minutes before a well worked set piece saw Ashley Barnes sidefoot the ball home from close range after being left all alone on the back post.

The second half was much more tame, though. Chelsea pressed while Burnley played a low block.

Unfortunately, Callum Hudson-Odoi had to be helped off the pitch after picking up what looked like a muscle injury in the first half. He tried to play on for a minute or two, but was unable to carry on.

Tensions flared around the final whistle. Maurizio Sarri was sent to the locker room after an altercation with referee Kevin Friend. Sarri had strayed several meters from his technical area during a shoving match near Chelsea’s box. Whatever tensions that existed continued after the final whistle when players and staff from both teams had to be separated just outside the tunnel.

David is the founder of DC Soccer Digest. He lives in Washington, DC.

Week 35--Cherries Still Winless at Home Since Jan 30th: Bournemouth 0-1 Fulham

By Juan Aguerrevere

Eddie Howe's Bournemouth remain winless at home since their 4-0 win against Chelsea on January 30th. Cherry fans will certainly be disappointed after dropping three points to Fulham, a team playing in the Championship next season.

Howe relied on his favored (4-4-2) formation with only one modification; Junior Stanislas for Adam Smith who was injured during warm-ups. 

Fulham boss Scott Parker switched back to a (4-2-3-1) formation despite winning his first Premier League match last weekend. Ryan Babel (left) and Ryan Sessegnon (right) swapped flanks; Jean Michael-Seri started over Tom Cairney who scored last week against Everton and Denis Odoi replaced Timothy Fosu-Mensah as a result of an injury. 

After getting out to an energetic start, Bournemouth looked ready to end a dreadful 2 and a half month win drought in its home ground, the Vitality Stadium.

In the 1st minute, Ryan Fraser sent a dangerous ball to Callum Wilson who adapts to defensive pressure and manages to shoot it right over the bar. 

Amid an early Cherry domination, Fraser found himself wide and did what he does best sending a perfect driven cross that left all defenders standing. Joshua King denied Fraser's 13th (league leading) assist as he blew his shot over the bar from the 6-yard box. 

Ake showed heroics as he always does in the 15th minute. Arsenal loanee, Callum Chambers headed a corner towards the Bournemouth goal, however, Ake stood his ground and chested the shot away from goal. The play didn't end there.

Consequently, the ball was cleared, then lobbed back into the box and headed back-ward by Callum Wilson. The flick allowed Aleksandar Mitrovic to get in behind the defense for a shot. But the Serbian panicked and kicked the ball over the target. 

Fraser came back knocking at Rico's goal on the counter. After a solo run, Fraser tested Sergio Rico who made the save after stretching for the ball.

Stanislas injured his knee in the process of taking a free-kick. Unable to continue, he was substituted by Jack Simpson in the 23rd minute. Another blow for Bournemouth with now 47 reported injuries during this campaign.

The Whites had a couple of chances after the 30th minute involving Sessegnon's dangerous squared-ball to no one in the area. Bournemouth’s Steve Cook saved his team by catching up to Mitrovic and dispossessing him in what looked like a 1-on-1 opportunity. 

Bournemouth turned on the engines in the last 5 minutes of the half. In the process, Rico is forced to punch a ball out taking down Wilson with him. Referee David Coote awarded 3 minutes of added time due to injuries and the game stood at 0-0. 

2nd Half

Bournemouth's chances of winning the game drastically deminished when substitute Simpson took down Mitrovic in the area in the 52nd minute. The challenge was a bit rash, as Mitrovic was not facing the goal or looking for a shot. Mitrovic took the spot kick and sent Boruc to the wrong side giving the away section something to cheer about. 

Rico showed his reflexes at the turn of the hour. He was vital on three different occasions denying Fraser twice and a final time against PFA young player of the year nominee, Brooks. 

That’s two wins in a row for Fulham.

Juan is a senior at the University of Florida. He is an aspiring sports writer, analyst, and commentator.

Week 35--Liverpool Keep Winning: Cardiff 0-2 Liverpool

By David Shams

Liverpool regained the top spot in the Premier League after their 2-0 win in Cardiff on Sunday. Manchester City play their game in hand on Wednesday at Old Trafford against cross town rivals Manchester United.

With a few exceptions, it was a dominating performance by Liverpool, even without the Merseyside club scoring in the first frame.

Early in the second half, Dutch midfielder Georginio Wijnaldum, latched on to a low hit corner kick from Trent Alexander Arnold and powered it into the back of the net, leaving Cardiff goalkeeper Neil Etheridge flapping after it.

Six minutes later, Cardiff defender and captain Sean Morrison managed to miss a wide open header at the back post. The ball came in from the side bathed in sunshine to the side darkened by shadow. That could have caused Morrison to drop his head a bit sooner and let the ball skip off his back.

Then Morrison’s day got a little worse as he gets called for a penalty kick after grabbing, holding, then pulling down Mohamed Salah inside Cardiff’s box. James Milner, the preferred penalty taker for Liverpool, had just come on for an injured Fabinho. He stepped up and buried his spot kick to put Liverpool ahead 2-0.

The win puts Liverpool ahead of Manchester City on points. Wednesday’s Manchester Derby will likely be decisive in deciding the 2018-19 title.

David is the founder of DC Soccer Digest. He lives in Washington, DC.

Week 35--Thrilling Draw at London Stadium: West Ham 2-2 Leicester

By David Shams

After 90 minutes, West Ham and Leicester left the London Stadium with a share of the spoils.

Leicester came from behind twice, scoring their last in second half stoppage time.

An all-around exciting game for fans, saw Leicester striker Jamie Vardy bag his 7th goal in 7 games since Brenden Rodgers took over at the King Power Stadium.

Miguel Antonio opened the scoring off a towering header from a Mark Noble cross in the 37th minute.

Thirty minutes later, Vardy equalized with a trademark fox-in-the-box finish. The England front man, nipped in front of West Ham defender Fabian Balbuena to poke home a Ben Chilwell cross.

In the 82nd minute, West Ham thought they finished the game off. Spanish Forward Lucas Perez, who, four minutes earlier, came on for Austrian Marko Arnautovic, buried a rebound off the post from a Pedro Obiang shot.

But, just ten minutes later Leicester City starlet Harvey Barnes, who spent the first half of this season on loan at West Bromwich, makes a deep diagonal run from right side to just inside the box. Holding midfield player Wilfred Ndidi picked Barnes out with a perfectly weighted ball. Barnes collects in space, picks his head up and then slots it past the diving West Ham goalkeeper Lukasz Fabianski.

Both squads have now matched their points total from last season. And Leicester is still in the running for a Europa League spot, but must win out and have other results go their way to have a chance.

David is the founder of DC Soccer Digest. He lives in Washington, DC.

Week 35--Manchester City v Spurs: Part 3--City 1-0 Spurs

By David Shams

Manchester City fans didn’t have to wait long to see how their team would respond after being knocked out in the Champions League quarterfinals by Tottenham.

Five minutes in to their game against that same Tottenham side, Phil Foden, given just his second start of the season by City manager Pep Guardiola, nodded home the game’s only goal. Sergio Aguero assisted, off a cross from Bernardo Silva, after heading the ball back across goal to an on rushing Foden.

Saturday was third time in 11 days these two teams met. The first two matchups were a part of the UEFA Champions League quarterfinals. Spurs won that tie, going through on away goals after the teams were level at four goals a piece.

But that Foden goal was where City’s dominance ended. Several flurishes from the North London side left many certain Spurs could at least pull level. Son Heung-Min, Christian Eriksen, and Lucas Moura all missed clear chances on either side of halftime.

City suffered an injury blow with Kevin De Bruyne coming off injured in the 38th minute. It’s unfortunate as he’s had a good run of form lately and was slowly growing into the game.

Referee Michael Oliver turned down a penalty claim from Spurs after Kyle Walker’s forearm struck the ball off a cut back from Dele Alli. It would have likely been harsh as Walker didn’t know much about it. But if this were next season, this would have probably been settled by VAR.

The win put City 1 point ahead of Liverpool at the top of the table before the Merseyside club played in Cardiff on Sunday. City has a game in hand and travels to Old Trafford on Wednesday.

Each club made significant changes to their lineups for Saturday’s match up.

Spurs manager Mauricio Pochettino was already without striker Harry Kane, who missed the 2nd leg, due to injury. Hugo Lloris and Moussa Sissoko both picked up a muscle strains on Wednesday and weren’t on the bench for Saturday’s match. Argentine goalkeeper Paulo Gazzaniga replaced Lloris.

Along the back line, Pochettino went with five at the back. Davinson Sanchez, Juan Foyth, and Ben Davies started, with Kieran Trippier and Danny Rose relegated to the bench. In the midfield, Eric Dier replaced Sissoko, while Victor Wanyama was dropped to the bench in favor of five at the back.

City manager Pep Guardiola kept the same formation, but John Stones and Oleksandr Zichenko both started in favor of Vincent Kompany and Benjamin Mendy, neither of whom made the bench for Saturday’s match. And in the midfield, young starlet Phil Foden replaced David Silva.

David is the founder of DC Soccer Digest. He lives in Washington, DC.

Week 35--Scoreless at the Molineux: Wolves 0-0 Brighton

By Juan Aguerrevere

Brighton & Hove Albion failed to score for the 6th consecutive meeting in all competitions. But grabbing 1 point left them 3 points clear from relegation despite a goalless draw against Wolves.

Nuno Espiritu Santo looked to go back to winning ways after an away defeat at St. Marys' last weekend. In effect, Nuno started Ryan Bennet for Romain Saiss who was to blame for 2 goals last time out. The Portuguese also gave 19-year-old, Morgan Gibbs-White a start over Leander Dendoncker. Nuno stuck with his (3-5-2) formation. 

 Chris Hughton also made some tweaks to his line-up amid Brighton's worst run of the year. The Colombian Jose Izquierdo replaced Alireza Jahanbakhsh while Gaetan Bong featured for the first time since December over Bernardo. Hughton stayed with his favored (4-3-3) formation again. 

Wolves looked as if they would have a great morning during the first minutes of the game. But as the game went on, maximum points became harder to achieve. 

Matt Doherty who's had a breakout season playing in the wing-back position brought constant danger in the right flank. He even had Wolves' first real go at goal heading a ball close to the post. 

Corners started mounting from headed clearances and deflections from Brighton's defended due to the dangers posed by Wolves' wider positions.  

The away team was forced to make its first change when David Propper went down grabbing his hamstring and asked for a sub. Kayal was the man who replaced Propper in the 10th minute of the game.

Screams rang around the Molineux as Pascal Gross slid in the box dispossessing Diogo Jota in the 23rd minute. Referee Craig Pawson didn't even flinch leaving the game to play on. Jota had a good chance that went wide 10 minutes after the penalty cries. 

The last 15 minutes of the half were instrumental for the Seagulls. Lewis Dunk and captain Bruno Saltor injected belief as they placed their bodies in the line for every header or tackle. 

Luckily for the away team, Jota hit the crossbar during the added time. Brighton had survived the first half. 

In the second phase, Brighton began going forward. In the 53rd minute, Kayal had a solo attempt from 30 yards out that passed freakishly close to the frame of the goal. 

Matthew Ryan was called for action at the one-hour mark by stopping Jota's close-range shot after Joao Moutinho's corner lingered on the 6-yard line. 

Ruben Vinagre and Dendoncker had positive impacts after being subbed in the 67th and 72nd minutes, respectively. 

Raul Jimenez helped set up Wolve's closest chance by chipping a ball from outside of the 18 toward Jota. The Portuguese striker redirected the ball to the second post and came back right into action after hitting it. As a result, Dendoncker put his foot through the ball, but Ryan never lost sight of it closing down space and sending it over the bar. 

Dendoncker tried Ryan once again in minute 87, but the Aussie was set on claiming his 5th clean sheet of the season. 

Wolverhampton kept the pressure up till the last second but couldn't break Brighton's wall. Lewis Dunk was proud of the squad during the post-game interview.

Juan is a senior at the University of Florida. He is an aspiring sports writer, analyst, and commentator.

Week 35--Everton Pounces on ManU's Bad Form: Everton 4-0 Manchester United

By Juan Aguerrevere

Everton resumed its flawless record in Goodison Park by viciously stomping on Manchester United. The Toffees have kept a clean sheet in their last 3 home games. 

Marcos Silva re-introduced his (4-2-3-1) formation leaving out Phil Jagielka and Andre Gomez. As a result, Michael Keane and ex-Manchester United's Morgan Schneiderlin featured on Easter Sunday’s first match. 

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer changed his side's formation yet again to a (4-3-3). Nemanja Matic, Diogo Dalot and Romelu Lukaku returned to action leaving Scott McTominay, Ashley Young and Jesse Lingard on the bench following United's mid-week Champions League exit.

The game's first stint of action arrived in the 10th minute.

Everton's Idrissa Gana Gueye chipped a ball toward the far post. Consequently, Richarlison managed to control the ball and fire a volley past his compatriot, Fred. David De Gea dealt well with the close-action attempt. However, this was not the case for the rest of the match.

A couple of minutes later, Lucas Digne launched a long throw-in finding Dominic Calvert-Lewin in the box. Calvert-Lewin rose higher than every Manchester United defender in and managed to clip the ball with his back further up the box. The slight flick found Richarlison in the back post who had enough time to rise and hit an overhead kick with his weak foot from close range. This time, De Gea was left standing while the ball flew past him putting Everton up 1-0.

The Toffies didn’t hold back keeping their high tempo and possession while going forward. 

Alas, United's first chance came in the 20th minute. Paul Pogba launched a precise longball for Rashford to chase. Rashford's' flick was not enough to test Pickford as the ball floated over the cross-bar. 

In the 29th minute, Gueye found Gylfi Sigurdsson in the middle of the field. The Icelandic star immediately picked up his head and challenged Matic who failed to keep up, ceding space to Sigurdsson. The former Swansea stand-out gave fans a glimpse of why defenders shouldn’t give him space in front of goal. Without hesitation, Sigurdsson struck a low-dipping shot past De Gea from outside the box to put Everton up 2-0.

Solskjaer made two changes during half-time. Matic came off for McTominay in the holding mid position and Phil Jones was subbed off for Ashley Young moving Victor Lindelof back to his natural position. Unfortunately, nothing changed. 

Everton’s first goal scorer, Richarlison went down to ground grabbing his ribs 3 minutes into the half. Everton's top scorer this season came off after medical attention holding his left rib-cage. Theo Walcott was introduced. 

De Gea's successful punched clearance led to Everton's third goal in the 54th minute. The clearance allowed Digne to hit a one-time volley from 25-yards-out. Players in the box blocked De Gea's sight forcing him to react late as the ball beat him to the near post

Substitute Theo Walcot made it 4-0 by bursting through United's weak defense with pace beating De Gea in a one-on-one. 

Manchester United away fans chanted "Ole, Ole, Ole, Ole" repeatedly after the match showing support for their manager. They seem undeterred by United’s recent form--6 losses in the last 8 games, 7 goals against and 0 in favor in the last 2 games, 0 goals from open play in approximately 360 minutes. 

Juan is a senior at the University of Florida. He is an aspiring sports writer, analyst, and commentator.

Week 35--Ayoze Perez Hat-Trick Hero: Newcastle 3-1 Southampton

By Juan Aguerrevere

Ayoze Perez' hat-trick kept Southampton in 16th place, leaving a 5-point gap from relegation-bound Cardiff. 

Newcastle manager Rafa Benitez summoned the exact same line-up and formation that featured in last Friday's 1-0 win over Leicester (5-4-1).

Southampton’s Austrian manager, Ralph Hasenhuttl, tried to replicate last weekend's performance at St. Mary's. But Yan Valery’s illness and Jannik Vestergaard's injury forced the Austrian to modify the line-up. James Ward-Prowse was moved to the right-wingback position and Jack Stephens was introduced (3-4-2-1). 

In the 7th minute, Miguel Almiron got the Newcastle machine rolling from both sides of the ball. His speed and aggression helped him steal a ball from Sims who lacked awareness near his box after a corner. The ball deflected off Almiron into Matt Ritchie's feet who miscued the shot wide.

Before the 10th minute mark, Magpie striker Salomón Rondon's sent a well-weighted volleyed pass into space for Almiron to chase. Almiron dribbled into the area and launched an unexpected left-footed shot surprising every soul in St. James' Park. Angus Gunn, Southampton’s 22 year old goalkeeper, who rose his right hand just in time to tip it over, wasn’t caught off guard.

Southampton struggled to get a grasp of the game. The Saints' first dangerous approach came in the 17th minute when Danny Ings broke through with a counter-attack but nothing came of it as Ings tried to share the ball prematurely. Hasenhuttl was visibly frustrated.

Referee Anthony Taylor was put to the test in the 23rd minute after a corner when the last man in defense, James Ward-Prowse blind-sided Almiron in Newcastle's half. Taylor immediately walked over to Ward-Prowse and lifted a yellow card. The controversial call caused a ruckus in Newcastle's home ground. First-team coach Mikel Antia was told to leave through the tunnel by Taylor for his inapproapriate behavior.

The atmosphere in the stadium transitioned from frantic to celebratory just 4 minutes after the controversial call.

Newcastle's high-pressing line of forwards led Maya Yoshida to force a pass to Pierre Hojbjerg in the middle of the pitch. Isaac Hayden read the play and lunged for a terrific interception leaving a loose ball for the forwards to collect. The man who scored last Friday's only and decisive goal against Leicester City, Ayoze Perez picked up the ball, dribbled forward leaving Yoshida tumbling and produced a ground-shot that deflected off the post and in. It was an early glimpse of what was to come from Perez.

Fast forward 4 minutes and Rondon chased a ball down the left flank. Perez did well to catch up to Ryan Bertrand while Rondon held the ball waiting for support in the area. Rondon sent a curling cross around Yoshida. Bertrand slowed his pace down at that very moment and the matador, Perez, made the best out of the situation by getting behind Bertrand and tipping the ball over a tumbling Gunn to double the lead.

Martin Duvravka stretched for his first save of the day in the 33rd minute. The shot came from Newcastle's own defender, Fabian Schaar while defending a corner.

Almiron closed the half with a slithery run in Southampton's box ending in dispossession.

The Saints began to show urgency early in the second half. Yoshida found himself in a good position to square a ball, but he showed why he's not an attacking player by producing a poor cross.

Ward-Prowse tested Dubravka in a free-kick from distance in the 53rd minute. But the Slovakian made the save look easy. Seconds later, Sung-Yueng Ki replied in the opposite half with a driven-low-shot from distance that left the far post shaking.

Things got interesting before the clock turned to the 60th minute when the Saints crafted a beautiful play where the ball never stopped moving. Eventually, the ball made its way to the top of the 18 and substitute Mario Lemina curled past Dubravka and in the lower corner of the goal. Southampton was back in it.

Tragedy struck in the 63rd minute when Almiron went down after an awkward challenge from Oriol Romeu. Almiron limped off toward the tunnel crying from pain coming from his hamstring. Rafa Benitez expressed concern that Almiron’s season might be over but said the injury is not serious.

Things looked as if they turned for the worst for Newcastle. Southampton kept pushing and Yoshida found himself in a goal-scoring opportunity again, but he was not able to control his shot ending off target.

The game turned into a back-and-forth contest. After a poorly cleared corner, James Ward-Prowse used his chest for a goal-line clearance denying Rondon's 10th goal of the season. But hope for was short-lived by the Saints.

In the 86th minute, Ritchie darted through the visitor's box and connected a diving header. Perez redirected Ritchie’s attempt at goal and caught Gunn diving the opposite way. Perez achieved a hat-trick, his first in 5 seasons wearing black and white. 

Southampton remains 5 points clear from relegation zone.

Juan is a senior at the University of Florida. He is an aspiring sports writer, analyst, and commentator.

Arsenal Win Away From The Emirates: Watford 1-0 Arsenal

By Juan Aguerrevere

Monday's lone fixture featured Watford hosting Arsenal. And it turned out to be a peculiar one. The strange chain of events started ahead of the game when Watford's manager, Javi Gracia expressed that captain Troy Deeney is England's best no. 9.

"There are good English players in that position, but in my opinion, Troy is the best one," said Gracia. 

Coming of a stunning FA Cup semi-final comeback against Wolverhampton last weekend, Gracia had to make some changes in the line-up. Ben Foster, Daryl Janmaat, and Adam Masina returned, while Roberto Pereyra (hip) and Gerard Deulopheu (ankle) missed the game due to injury. 

Arsenal played last Thursday, beating Napoli at home in their Europa League quarter-final first leg. Concerns over the Gunners' recent away form (1W, 1D, 3L) was their main worry before the game.

The Hornets swarmed the Gunners in the opening minutes of play. German goalkeeper Bernd Leno was pressed by Andre Gray and was just fast enough to release the ball for a throw-in before being robbed.

Things were looking fine for Watford until Arsenal striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang chased down a horizontal pass directed to Foster. Watford's goalkeeper wasn’t able clear his lines the way Leno did a few minutes before. Arsenal's ace, Aubameyang, was able to block Foster’s clearance right into the net.  

A minute later, in a late challenge Deeney clashed with Lucas Torreira. Craig Pawson, the center referee, was alerted to a high elbow from Deeney by one of his assistants. Deeney was sent off for this infringement. And Pawson became public enemy number 1 at Vicarage Road after leaving Watford crippled for the remaining 80 minutes.

Shortly after the break, Henrikh Mkhitaryan's close-range effort was denied by Foster before Adam Masina cracked a long shot against the crossbar on the other end.

Attempts from Andre Gray and Will Hughes came close to drawing Watford level. But the North London team was able to find its first away clean sheet of the season and take back fourth place.

Watford faces Huddersfield on Saturday hoping to keep adding points to its already best Premier League season ever. 

Juan is a senior at the University of Florida. He is an aspiring sports writer, analyst, and commentator.

Liverpool Outplays Chelsea: Liverpool 2-0 Chelsea

By Juan Aguerrevere

Both Jurgen Klopp and Maurizio Sarri made some changes after midweek clashes in the Champions League and Europa League, respectively.

Klopp summoned Joel Matip and Andrew Robertson for Dejan Lovren and James Milner. Meanwhile, Sarri introduced six changes from his lineup against Slavia Praha including Emerson Palmieri who replaced Marcos Alonso, who scored the winner midweek.

In the first half, Klopp's men dominated possession and had more chances than Chelsea despite a couple of counterattacks from the Blues. Liverpool tested Chelsea's defense with several crosses. The away team's backline responded well until Antonio Rudiger suffered a knee injury forcing Sarri to use his first substitution bringing on Andreas Christensen.

The difference was almost instantaneous. Chelsea failed to adequately defend a free-kick leaving three Liverpool players against Kepa Arizabalaga who made the save even though the play was called offsides.

Liverpool claimed its first goal five minutes after the start. Mohamed Salah connected well with Jordan Henderson who then lobbed it to the back post fining Mane's head. Nearly three minutes later, Salah drilled a missile in the top corner from just over twenty yards out. The fans at Anfield were roaring.

Eden Hazard missed two back-to-back chances that he should have finished, leaving Chelsea fans hopeless. Hazard was denied by the post in his first chance and by Alisson Becker in the second.

Mane is now the league’s joint-third top scorer with seventeen goals while Salah tied with Aguero for the most with 19 goals. Alisson recorded his eighteenth, and league leading, clean sheet.

Before the match, a minute of silence was held in memory of the 96 lives lost 30 years ago in the Hillsborough Disaster.

Juan is a senior at the University of Florida. He is an aspiring sports writer, analyst, and commentator.