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Hits and Misses: Blame lies with Moyes – and new low for Chelsea?

Moyes allowed Newcastle comeback to happen

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FREE TO WATCH: Highlights from the Premier League clash between Newcastle and West Ham

David Moyes was scarcely able to believe what he had seen.

After 53 minutes, West Ham were so comfortable that the away end started to bring out the “oles” as their attractive front four bopped the ball around holding a 3-1 lead.

It was a deserving lead, too. Mohammed Kudus had dazzled, Lucas Paqueta was running the game and Jarrod Bowen was in a ruthless mood.

But when the momentum started to shift, Moyes slipped back to his old ways of sitting on a lead instead of utilising West Ham’s clear advantage in the final third against the makeshift Newcastle defence, who were clearly struggling.

Kalvin Phillips was called for as Paqueta was moved up into a central striking role. As an attacking force, West Ham became redundant.

The blame has to sit at the manager’s door for that. Yes, Newcastle played with a renewed vigour and intensity but they were allowed to by a retreating Hammers outfit who sank without a trace.
Lewis Jones

Super-sub Johnson the hero in Spurs’ comeback win

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FREE TO WATCH: Highlights from the Premier League clash between Tottenham and Luton

Heung-Min Son may grab the headlines for his late winner against Luton but it was Brennan Johnson’s performance from the bench which was the real key to Tottenham’s comeback victory.

It had been a disappointing international break for Johnson after Wales suffered heartbreak in failing to reach Euro 2024 and that was compounded when he was left out of the starting line-up against Luton.

But the 22-year-old put all of that behind him to make a huge impact as a half-time substitute to turn around the game after Tottenham had trailed the relegation strugglers.

The Welshman provided the cross that set up the equalising own goal before then cleverly teeing up Son’s 86th-minute winner.

His performance drew praise from Spurs boss Ange Postecoglou in his post-match conference after the Australian had brought him on for Dejan Kulusevski.

“He [Brennan] was good,” Postecgolou said. “We felt that in the first half Deki [Kulusevski] was probably coming inside a little bit too much and we thought that Timo [Werner] was certainly getting some opportunities down the left-hand side.

“If we got Brennan on the right-hand side, he could equally be a threat. I thought both wingers in the second half were outstanding.”

He added: “With Brennan’s pace – and he’s got a really good quality delivery, gets in the box – I thought it was a game that was going to be good for him when he came on.”

The conundrum now for Postecoglou is whether to reward Johnson with a start against West Ham in a crucial London derby on Tuesday, or to keep him on the bench – where he is becoming a real weapon as a super-sub to turn games in Spurs’ favour.
Declan Olley

Chelsea sink to new low

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FREE TO WATCH: Highlights from the Premier League match between Chelsea and Burnley.

Mauricio Pochettino firstly pointed to his heart, and then his head. The problem was not with his players’ legs, he insisted post-match, it was their lack of hunger that proved punishing.

A scarcity of personality, desire and basic instinct cost his side in a damaging draw with Burnley, who played over half the contest with a player less. As the Argentine acknowledged, there was plenty to dislike.

“We didn’t show the minimum to compete in the Premier League”, he continued. That much was evident.

There’s something particularly curious about this Chelsea group. They look bright in possession, are bold and creative, good at carving openings too – a generated xG of 3.74 proves that.

But what this young, relatively experienced side lack is a backbone. Without throwing his players under the bus, that’s what Poch was inferring. Too many were anonymous. He, along with many inside Stamford Bridge, was struggling to rationalise how a team manage to drop two points from a winning position against 10 men staring relegation in the face.

Cole Palmer’s brilliance aside, Chelsea’s all-round offering was thoroughly amateur and proves just how far they are away from realising any consistent potential. Even the crowd was apathetic, barely moved to boo or jeer at the full-time whistle. How do you come back from that?
Laura Hunter

McBurnie-Brereton Diaz partnership comes too late for Blades

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FREE TO WATCH: Highlights from the Premier League match between Sheffield United and Fulham

The good news for Sheffield United is that Chris Wilder appears to have finally found an attacking set-up that works.

After trialling Will Osula, James McAtee and Rhian Brewster in attacking roles – to little success – Oli McBurnie and Ben Brereton Diaz are forming an effective strike partnership.

The powerful duo allow the Blades to be more direct. United attempted 75 long passes – their most of the season – at Bournemouth last time out and totalled nearly 50 against Fulham.

That McBurnie and Brereton Diaz both claimed assists to go with their goals shows how much they troubled Fulham’s back four.

But the bad news for United is that time may be running out. With just nine games to play, they are seven points from safety. Opta still rate their chances of escaping relegation at less than two per cent.

Too little, too late.
Joe Shread

Muniz transformation has taken everyone by surprise

Rodrigo Muniz scores a spectacular equaliser for Fulham at Bramall Lane
Image: Rodrigo Muniz scores a spectacular equaliser for Fulham at Bramall Lane

Spare a thought for Armando Broja. After an underwhelming first half of the season, the Chelsea striker joined Fulham on loan in January in search of form and fitness.

The pathway seemed clear, with Fulham’s strikers having a combined total of just five Premier League goals before Broja’s arrival – all scored by Raul Jimenez.

But Broja can’t have envisioned Rodrigo Muniz’s remarkable transformation. Before the Albania international moved to Craven Cottage, Muniz had never scored a Premier League goal.

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Nothing Muniz had done previously hinted at his rise. Last season, he scored twice for Middlesbrough in the Championship.

But since February, no player has scored more Premier League goals than the 22-year-old’s eight.

Against Sheffield United, he showed perfectly why he is currently one of the most-feared strikers in the top flight, twice striking the post before producing an exquisite piece of skill – just when his team needed it.

Meanwhile, Broja’s wait for his first Fulham start goes on. In truth, he can have no complaints.
Joe Shread

Has Southgate been watching Solanke closely enough?

I feel for Dominic Solanke. For all the talk about who should be Harry Kane’s understudy for England at Euro 2024 this summer, the Bournemouth striker’s name has barely been mentioned.

Solanke was overlooked for England’s most recent friendlies against Brazil and Belgium – an international break designed to let Gareth Southgate experiment with those on the fringes of making his final squad for the tournament.

Ollie Watkins and Ivan Toney were given chances to shine in Kane’s absence. Solanke was not even selected in the 26-player group.

Southgate clearly can’t pick everyone and undoubtedly has plenty of options, but it’s difficult to understand why Solanke wasn’t at least called up given his incredible club form this season.

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FREE TO WATCH: Highlights of Bournemouth’s win over Everton in the Premier League

Another goal on Saturday – this time against Everton – took his Premier League goal tally to 16. Only Erling Haaland (18) has scored more than him during the current campaign so far.

It took Solanke 96 top-flight games to reach double figures. His improvement has been remarkable and there are still nine games to go.

While his clinical finishing has been a key reason for Bournemouth’s success, the former Chelsea and Liverpool forward’s contribution in other areas is equally as impressive.

Solanke is putting in the hard yards for his side, who under Andoni Iraola have transformed into a well-oiled, high-pressing machine.

Solanke has made the most pressures in the final third leading to a turnover in the Premier League this term, while just five players have won possession in the final third more times.

The 26-year-old has evolved into a complete striker and England would only benefit from his qualities.

Solanke’s one cap for his country came back in 2017. His recent performances should have seen him add to that total this month. Has Southgate been watching him closely enough?
Dan Sansom

Time for Everton to start delivering

Supporting Everton right now must be stressful. With the outcome of their second hearing for allegedly breaching the Premier League’s Profitability and Sustainability looming and a dismal run of form in the Premier League leaving them just three points above the drop zone, these are worrying times. And that’s before you throw in the continued uncertainty around 777 Partners’ planned takeover of the club.

On the pitch, the Toffees are more than capable of avoiding a serious relegation battle – without a points deduction they would be sitting 14th – but they have not won in the league since December 16 and that needs to change quickly.

Jarrad Branthwaite and goalkeeper Jordan Pickford react after Seamus Coleman's own goal condemns Everton to defeat at Bournemouth
Image: Jarrad Branthwaite and goalkeeper Jordan Pickford react after Seamus Coleman’s own goal condemns Everton to defeat at Bournemouth

Fortunately, their fixture list is favourable. Sean Dyche’s side still have to play every team below them in the league and with four games in April taking place at a roaring Goodison Park, there’s a real chance to pull away from danger before the final day.

Even if they are docked more points, Everton’s top-flight status remains in their own hands. But now is the time to start delivering.
Dan Sansom

Wharton and Eze forming exciting bond

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FREE TO WATCH: Highlights from the Premier League match between Nottingham Forest and Crystal Palace

Just days on from his England U21 debut, Crystal Palace’s Adam Wharton continues to show his adaptation to the Premier League.

And with the likes of Michael Olise and Odsonne Edouard sidelined, the ever-impressive Eberechi Eze needs someone to bounce off, someone to feed him quality balls from midfield.

That is exactly what Wharton provided on Saturday. Either side of the break, the midfielder found Eze with two absolutely sublime passes, showing quality well beyond his 20 years. The first forced a brilliant save from Matz Sels too, while the second was not quite as fruitful.

Between them, the pair topped a number of statistical categories – Wharton had a 100 per cent pass accuracy in the final third, while Eze added an assist for Jean-Philippe Mateta’s goal.

Speaking to Sky Sports after the game, Oliver Glasner said: “He [Wharton] is a brilliant passer, he has the pre-orientation and he always sees the man in the offence.

“In two situations, Eze ran into the gaps between the centre-back and full-back. This is what we always tell the players and he did it great.

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Oliver Glasner says his side had enough chances to win against Nottingham Forest after it ended 1-1

“Adam maybe has to improve with the physicality of the Premier League but he’s 20. He also played 25 minutes with the U21s so he looked a bit tired at the end, but that’s totally normal. He’s a very good player.”

Wharton continues the Crystal Palace trend of identifying young talent in the lower leagues and giving them a chance in the Premier League – Eze is an example of how well it works.

And if the pair can continue to hone that connection between midfield and attack, it will surely make for an exciting prospect for Crystal Palace.
Charlotte Marsh

Wood finding form under Nuno

Chris Wood is congratulated by Morgan Gibbs-White after equalising for Nottingham Forest
Image: Chris Wood scored a second-half equaliser for Nottingham Forest

It is now two goals in two Premier League games for Chris Wood and the striker has found some good form under Nuno Espirito Santo.

The manager said of his striker: “Chris is doing an amazing job. When he’s healthy and on the pitch, it is always good. We rely on him.”

Admittedly, injuries have played their part in his absences this season, but he has now scored seven goals in 10 appearances since Nuno’s first game in charge on Boxing Day. It compares to just four goals in his first 23 Forest appearances.

His two most recent goals were both assisted by Morgan Gibbs-White too, who continues to show his importance to Nottingham Forest.

If Wood can keep himself fit – and keep finding the net – he too could prove to be the difference in the club keeping themselves in the Premier League. So far, he is holding up his end of the bargain.
Charlotte Marsh

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