The first complete round of Premier League fixtures in March got underway on Saturday, with five games taking place at the traditional 3pm kick-off time.
Before these matches were played, Liverpool continued their relentless march towards a first championship since 1990 with a narrow 2-1 win against Bournemouth at home, and because top-four chasers Manchester United and Chelsea were playing tomorrow all eyes were on Wolves, Sheffield United and Arsenal.
All sit behind the aforementioned pair and within five points of each other. Wolves and Sheffield United welcomed Brighton & Hove Albion and Norwich respectively, whilst the Gunners entertained a struggling West Ham side.
Elsewhere, Crystal Palace took on Watford — the first and only club to beat Liverpool in the Premier League this season — and Southampton faced Newcastle with both seeking to push themselves always from the relegation zone.
As to be expected there were several winners and losers.
Winner: Alexandre Lacazette
For a third consecutive Premier League outing Alexandre Lacazette found himself outside Arsenal’s starting lineup. This followed a seven-match streak that saw him one of the first names on Mikel Arteta’s team sheet. His recent five-minute cameo against Newcastle in mid-February saw him register a goal as well as creating another. There was no sighting of him when Everton visited a week later, but unfortunately for West Ham he came off the bench today.
FULL-TIME Arsenal 1-0 West Ham
— Premier League (@premierleague) March 7, 2020
Just before the hour mark, Arteta turned to the French marksman with Eddie Nketiah making way. There was no immediate response, but 19 minutes after crossing the line Lacazette, feeding off Mesut Ozil’s pass, registered his seventh goal of the season to put Arsenal in front – as well as putting forward his case to start when the Londoners visit Manchester City in a few days time.
Loser: Moussa Djenepo
It’s been a trying few days for Southampton forward Moussa Djenepo who flew home to Mali after their humbling 3-1 loss at West Ham following the passing of his mother. He was back in Ralph Hasenhuttl’s lineup against Newcastle United this afternoon, but wouldn’t last the full 90 minutes.
Djenepo caught Issac Hayden after he prevented a counter with referee Graham Scott initially producing a yellow card. However, after consulting VAR and viewing the incident on the pitch-side screen it was upgraded to a red. This was the third occasion this season Southampton were reduced to 10 men. No team in the Premier League has received more sending-offs.
Winner: Jordan Ayew
— Premier League (@premierleague) March 7, 2020
Crystal Palace’s season hasn’t been spectacular and they should comfortably finish in mid-table barring any unforeseen period of crisis. When it comes to scoring, though, Roy Hodgson’s men are yet to break the 30-goal barrier. It comes as no surprise given their leading marksman registered his eighth of this campaign this afternoon.
Jordan Ayew’s strike in the 28th minute against a buoyant Watford was not only the earliest he’s scored a Premier League goal but just the second time he’s netted before the half-time interval since debuting in England’s top division.
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Loser: The two Ws
It could have been a lot worse for West Ham if the two sides immediately above them — Brighton and Southampton — picked up all three points in their respective games. In the end, they couldn’t, although the Seagulls left Wolves with a point that slowly edges them away from the danger zone. David Moyes’ men could have matched them if not for that pesky Lacazette.
As for Watford, so much expectation was placed on them after slaying Liverpool a week ago, but the Hornets were unable to carry that momentum at Crystal Palace — who themselves are in a good period — and both subsequently are level on points with Bournemouth who currently occupy the final relegation spot. Watford, though, could fall into the drop zone in if Aston Villa inflict defeat on Leicester later this week.
Winner: Alex McCarthy
What a difference one week makes. Last time out, Alex McCarthy had a game to forget. Not only did he ship in three goals against West Ham, but he practically gifted them one, a momentary lapse in concentration allowed Sebastien Haller to restore the Hammers’ lead after Saints had equalised moments earlier.
45: @Alex_Macca23 SAVES!
What a game McCarthy is having, as he guesses correctly to get a strong hand to Ritchie’s spot kick! [0-0] pic.twitter.com/r5Eu0gW6Hd
— Southampton FC (@SouthamptonFC) March 7, 2020
This afternoon, however, the man between Southampton’s sticks proved his worth on the stroke of half-time when Newcastle were handed a penalty. Matt Ritchie would step up, but he couldn’t put the visitors in front as McCarthy dove to his left and powerfully kept the ball out. It was just one of seven saves he made all game although Allan Saint-Maximin would finally beat him.
Nuno Espírito Santos’ spirited Wolves were the best of the rest in the Premier League season. There’s every chance of them surpassing that seventh-place finish with the Midlands-based club presently sitting in fifth. But this was a lost opportunity to consolidate that spot with Man Utd potentially able to leapfrog them this weekend, plus the fact Sheffield United — after their slender 1-0 home win over relegation-threatened Norwich City — have drawn level on points.
This disappointing goalless draw with Brighton, which prevented them from entering the top four even if temporary, halted the momentum gained following an impressive comeback win at Spurs last weekend. It also means they have now won just one of their last five home league matches, a disappointing trend that needs overturning if they are to go better than last term.