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English Premier League

Leeds United 1 – 4 Tottenham Hotspur



Leeds United 1 - 4 Tottenham Hotspur

Leeds United 1 – 4 Tottenham Hotspur. Leeds United were relegated from the Premier League as they lost their final game of the season to Tottenham Hotspur.

The Whites’ fans turned on both their team and the club’s owners as the West Yorkshire side’s three-year top-flight stay came to a meek and pitiful end at Elland Road.

Needing to win to stand any chance of preserving their Premier League status, Leeds trailed inside the opening two minutes through Harry Kane’s excellent finish.

Pedro Porro then doubled Tottenham’s lead when he fired in from a tight angle early in the second half.

Jack Harrison made it 2-1 to give Leeds brief hope of pulling off an unlikely escape, but Kane’s 30th league goal of the season restored Spurs’ two-goal advantage.

Lucas Moura marked his farewell appearance by scoring a fine solo goal in injury time, although Tottenham’s first top-flight win outside London since October was not enough to prevent them missing out on European qualification for the first time since they finished eighth in 2008-09.

For Leeds, however, the damage is far worse.

Chairman and majority owner Andrea Radrizzani was not at the game but was told in no uncertain terms to sell the club by the Leeds supporters, who chanted “sack the board” during the latter stages.

And, after a pitch invader had been hauled away by half a dozen stewards 15 minutes from time, they chanted “he’s got more fight than you” in a damning assessment of their team – with further songs in support of Marcelo Bielsa, the beloved coach who returned Leeds to the top flight in 2020 but was sacked last season.

With uncertainty over a proposed takeover by the San Francisco 49ers owners, who already have a 44% stake in the club, and Radrizzani’s holding company buying a stake in Sampdoria, who have just been relegated from Serie A, there is a lack of clarity at the club that needs to be dealt with.

The last time Leeds went down, in 2004, it took 16 years before they came back. The time before that, in 1982, it was eight. They can only hope nothing similar awaits them on this occasion.

As it turned out, results elsewhere meant Leeds could not have changed their starting position of second-bottom no matter what they did in this game.

However, that does not excuse some inept play – with one particular moment, with eight minutes remaining of the first half, summing up a thoroughly depressing season.

Despite conceding so early, the home fans had remained behind their team, albeit with a sense of humour around the position Leeds were in.

They had built up a head of steam and forced a corner on their right.

A side containing six defenders, including Robin Koch, who was playing in central midfield, loaded the penalty area. Leeds opted to go short, the initial pass was not accurate enough, the intended recipient slipped as he tried to reach it, a Tottenham player intervened and the visitors headed to the other end of the field on a dangerous counter.

“That’s why we’re going down” was the initial response from the Leeds supporters, followed by “Leeds, Leeds are falling apart again” – the song opponents of the West Yorkshire side like to bait them with.

It was not for the first time, or the last, Whites boss Sam Allardyce had his head in his hands.

It was all so avoidable but those basic mistakes have scarred the latter part of the season and explain why Leeds are heading for the second tier just 12 months after they thought a last-day escape at Brentford would serve as the trigger for significant improvement, on and off the pitch.

Harrison did provide some hope with his second-half goal but he is one of the players whose future is now in doubt.

There is air of toxicity around Elland Road. And, when striker Georginio Rutter, who has started once since his £36m move to the club in January, threw his shirt into the crowd as the players slowly made their way around the pitch at the end, it was thrown straight back.

Yet another astonishing season for Kane has not been given the credit it deserves because of Erling Haaland’s exploits for Manchester City.

However, unlike Tottenham, the England skipper has ended the campaign in phenomenal form.

Since Spurs’ Champions League exit to AC Milan in March, Kane has played 14 times for club and country and scored 14 goals.

Sunday’s brace was delivered with its usual clinical efficiency.

The first came after Leeds inexplicably left him unmarked as they swarmed towards Son Heung-min on the edge of the area.

Then, after Kane had set Porro up for his low drive into the corner to double the visitors’ lead, he kept his nerve to drive home Spurs’ third from a narrow angle.

It took him on to 30 for the season, equalling his best return. On only seven occasions, including this season, has the eventual Golden Boot winner scored more.

The 29-year-old is about to enter the final season of the six-year contract that Tottenham chairman Daniel Levy has, so far, refused to consider letting him get out of, no matter what fee is offered.

The big question now is whether Levy, or indeed Kane – realising he can leave for nothing next summer – decides now is the time to sever ties.

source – BBC

English Premier League

Arsenal 4 – 1 Newcastle United



Arsenal 4 - 1 Newcastle United

Arsenal underlined their Premier League title credentials as they recorded their sixth consecutive win with a dominant display against Newcastle.

The result sees Mikel Arteta’s side sit two points behind leaders Liverpool and a point behind second-placed Manchester City at the top of the table.

The outcome of this contest appeared inevitable from the moment visiting defender Sven Botman turned the ball in after Gabriel’s header from a corner had been well saved by Newcastle goalkeeper Loris Karius.

While there was an element of bad luck to that for the Dutch defender, who simply could not get out of the way as his Newcastle team-mate Tino Livramento tried to clear, there was little else about Arsenal’s performance that was owed to good fortune.

The Gunners’ intensity and fluent passing repeatedly carved Eddie Howe’s side apart, particularly down the Magpies’ left flank with Livramento and Botman enduring difficult evenings.

Kai Havertz swept in a deserved second shortly after, with Gabriel Martinelli making the most of indecision in the Newcastle defence to cut the ball back into the German forward’s path.

With Arsenal continuing to press, Bukayo Saka twisted and turned Livramento one way and then another before dispatching a left-foot shot into the bottom left corner add to the hosts’ advantage.

Arteta also enjoyed the luxury of being able to take off his captain Martin Odegaard, Havertz and Saka well before full-time after Jakub Kiwior’s effort deflected past the helpless Karius from another Declan Rice corner.

Newcastle, who remain eighth in the table, managed a late consolation courtesy of Joe Willock’s looping header, but there was little else for the visiting supporters to cheer.


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English Premier League

AFC Bournemouth 0 – 1 Manchester City



AFC Bournemouth 0 - 1 Manchester City

Manchester City moved a point behind Premier League leaders Liverpool with a hard-fought victory over Bournemouth at Vitality Stadium.

City started slowly but took the lead midway through the first half when Phil Foden steered home after Erling Haaland’s shot was saved by Neto.

The visitors dominated the rest of the half but were fortunate not to be pegged back early in the second, Marcus Tavernier scuffing a shot into the ground from Antoine Semenyo’s cross before shooting wide after fine work from Dominic Solanke.

Solanke had a header punched off the line by Ederson as Bournemouth continued to apply pressure, while Haaland had another shot saved by Neto with a quarter of an hour remaining.

Second-half substitute Enes Unal headed agonisingly wide in stoppage time for the hosts, as City held on to consolidate second place ahead of crucial games at home to Manchester United and away to Liverpool in early March.

Bournemouth, now without a win in their last seven league matches, stay eight points above the relegation zone but drop a place to 14th.

Champions get job done

Pep Guardiola’s team were made to work hard for three points against Brentford on Tuesday, and they were perhaps a little fortunate to get the win from a testing encounter at Vitality Stadium.

Haaland got the all-important goal against the Bees and the Norwegian should have given the visitors the lead here, sending a right-footed shot off target after running on to Foden’s exquisite cushioned pass.

Haaland was denied by Neto midway through the first half, but Foden – who has now scored in his past five appearances against the Cherries – was on hand to guide home his 16th goal of the season. That is his joint-most in a single campaign.

John Stones, operating in a more advanced role than usual, was outstanding in the first half in particular, repeatedly marauding upfield and almost setting up Rodri for a second City goal not long after Foden’s opener.

The visitors rode their luck after half-time as Bournemouth pushed for an equaliser, with a combination of wasteful finishing by the hosts and smart goalkeeping from Ederson securing City a hard-earned three points.

City have won all 14 of their Premier League games against the Cherries – the best 100% record by one team against another in top-flight history.

Their next five league matches – all against teams currently in the top seven – will go a long way to defining their campaign.


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English Premier League

Manchester United 1 – 2 Fulham



Manchester United 1 - 2 Fulham

Manchester United were given a harsh reality check at Old Trafford as Alex Iwobi’s injury-time effort gave Fulham only their second Old Trafford victory since 1963.

Four days after new co-owner Sir Jim Ratcliffe spoke of United attempting to knock Manchester City and Liverpool off their perch at the top of the English game, they suffered a major blow to their hopes of Champions League qualification.

Without injured striker Rasmus Hojlund, the hosts were ineffective in attack until the final minute of normal time, when Harry Maguire seemed to have rescued a point for the hosts.

But Iwobi had the final say deep into nine minutes of stoppage time, restoring an advantage initially given to them by Nigeria defender Calvin Bassey, who lashed home the loose ball after his header from a Fulham corner had been blocked by team-mate Timothy Castagne.

The result ended a run of 11 Premier League away games without a win for the west London outfit. Prior to this contest, only Sheffield United had a worse top-flight away record this term.

Neither the defeat nor, more importantly, the performance, will give anyone the belief United will achieve Ratcliffe’s lofty aims any time soon.

A sobering reality
There have been a lot of bold claims out of Old Trafford this week.

Ratcliffe has spoken of challenging for major trophies, while Ten Hag has outlined how he and the new co-ownership are aligned in their thinking and the overall direction is positive.

There is nothing like a miserable grey, cold, wet Manchester day to add a large dollop of reality to the situation United find themselves in.

With injury consigning in-form Hojlund to the directors’ box, Marcus Rashford was forced to plough a lone furrow up front and made little impact. Ten Hag gave 19-year-old Omari Forson his first start rather than bring in underperforming £82m Brazilian Antony, while Victor Lindelof filled in at left-back in the absence of Luke Shaw, who is set to miss the remainder of the campaign with a muscle problem.

The performance did not smack of a side capable of securing Champions League football next season, which Ratcliffe has made a priority, let alone threatening Manchester City, Liverpool and Arsenal, who are a long way ahead on this evidence.

Ineos head of sport – and new United football club director – Sir Dave Brailsford was at Old Trafford to see United roar back from 2-0 down to beat Aston Villa on Boxing Day, one of two occasions this season when they had rolled back the years to produce a comeback of thrilling defiance.

When Maguire pounced in the final minute of normal time, it seemed another might be on the cards. United hardly deserved parity. Other than a first-half Diogo Dalot shot that flicked off the outside of a post, Marcus Rashford’s angled effort that Leno saved and a Maguire header that sailed over the bar, they had done little of any effectiveness around the Fulham box.

As it turned out, it was to be Fulham who had the final word. Today, there was no papering over the Old Trafford cracks.

A famous Fulham win
It is almost 12 months since Fulham’s visit to this stadium for an FA Cup tie that ended in chaos as manager Marco Silva and two of his players were sent off, and what was shaping up to be a famous victory turned into a controversial defeat.

While the visitors mercifully avoided any repeat of that discipline breakdown, they were forced to endure more frustration in a first half they dominated without being able to take one of the numerous chances that came their way.

In exploiting the space available in front of the United backline in transition, Fulham were given the freedom to get clear sights of goal.

Iwobi had two opportunities, the second in particular he should have done better with. Andre Onana saved from Rodrigo Muniz and former United midfielder Andreas Pereira. The Cameroon keeper probably earned his luck in the first instance, when the rebound struck Sasa Lukic at close range and the ball bounced inches wide.

Muniz, aiming to become the fourth Fulham player – after Louis Saha, Collins John and Manor Solomon – to score in four successive Premier League games, rolled Lindelof in the penalty area, then fired against the outside of a post with Onana beaten.

At the interval, the fear among the visiting contingent must have been that, after being so flat for so long, their hosts had to improve.

But they didn’t and Bassey lashed home his first Fulham goal with a decisiveness lacking from United’s play.

Even after Maguire’s leveller, Fulham would not be denied as Iwobi finally found the target to give the Cottagers a famous win.


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