Written by Contributor: Sean Gallagher
EPL Roundup Matchday 31: Brentford Thrash Chelsea in Historic Victory; Leicester, Man United Draw at Old Trafford; Liverpool, Man City Keeping Pace with Each Other
A lot has happened since we last saw the Premier League in action! The USMNT are back in the World Cup after missing the tournament in 2018 and 2006-winners Italy are out for the second time in a row. But enough about the international break, let’s dive into all that Matchday 31 had to offer!
No, that scoreline is not a typo! One of the best results in Brentford history took place on Saturday morning when they made the short trip to Stamford Bridge and blew Chelsea out of the water. Maybe Chelsea had a classic case of international-break-hangover.
Things started off relatively well for the Blues, who were putting a lot of pressure on Brentford throughout the first half. It felt like a goal was coming for a while and Antonio Rudiger did the honors early in the second half with one of the goals of the season. From nearly 35 yards out the German defender absolutely bashed a strike off the post to give the Blues a seemingly comfortable lead to hold onto the rest of the match. That’s when Thomas Frank’s players did a COMPLETE 180 and turned the game on its head, equalizing almost immediately thanks to Vitaly Janelt.
One of the moments of the season happened a few minutes later when the Bees were on the attack again. Christian Eriksen who was one of the stories of the summer when he suffered a Cardiac arrest on the field in the Euro Cup, found himself in open space on a Brentford attack. All he had to do was fire it into the back of the net because of the perfect assist from Mbuemo; it was a truly feel good moment that you couldn’t help but applaud. Less than a year ago doctors didn’t know if they’d be able to save Eriksen and now he’s back on the field scoring goals. The traveling Brentford fans going wild, Eriksen celebrating: it was just terrific stuff. Chelsea were shell shocked and offered very little the rest of the game; Brentford would go on to pile on 2 more to secure the 4-1 result. For a club of Brentford’s size, it really will go down as one of their most impressive wins in their history. Especially considering this was just Chelsea’s 2nd home-defeat the entire season.
As for the Blues, they should have 3rd place cemented but have a bit of looking over their shoulder to do. Tottenham and Arsenal are knocking on the door and starting to put pressure on Thomas Tuchel’s men.
Manchester United-Leicester City (1-1)
After the way the first half of this game went I thought there’d be no way I would be writing about it! Even the commentators who do their best to put a positive spin on things were berating the quality of the first 45 minutes. “Dire.” “Drab.” “Boring.” “Lifeless.” Those were some of the words you could hear coming through the television at the break.
Thankfully both teams decided to pull it together and turn up for a very entertaining second 45 minutes of play. Scott Mctominay brought some intensity back in the game when his reckless, studs-up challenge saw him very nearly get sent off and bring United down to 10 men. He was extremely lucky to stay in the game. Leicester were probing throughout the half and were rewarded after a successful counter attack saw Kelechi Iheanacho break the 0-0 deadlock. That cross by James Maddison, though. WOW. One of the best assists I’ve seen in a long time and the header by Iheanacho was just as good.
United going down 1-0 midway through the second half usually sets up for Cristiano Ronaldo to bring some late fireworks; but the 37 year old superstar wasn’t able to suit up for this match due to illness. Someone else was going to have to step up this time. And that’s exactly what Fred did directly after Leicester’s goal. All the Brazilian midfielder had to do was knock in the rebound after a save by Kasper Schmeichel fell right to him. A moment of resilience was exactly what Ralf Rangnick wanted and has been looking for in his club. They started to revert back to their old ways though with Leicester knocking on the door multiple times. It took a beauty of a save by David de Gea as well as a highly controversial VAR decision to keep the Foxes from taking all 3 points. I thought it was a bang-bang play that slow-motion replay made look 10x worse (heard that one before?), but referee Andre Marriner saw otherwise. A goal by Maddison was chalked off due to Iheanacho making contact with Raphael Varane in the buildup of the goal. Man United threatened with time expiring but couldn’t quite reach the back of the net and had to settle for a 1-1 draw.
The Foxes haven’t had a great season by any stretch, but manager Brendan Rodgers must be excited to finally have a fully healthy backline after being decimated by injuries throughout this season. This performance should inspire optimism for Leicester who should be able to finish the top half of the table if they close out the season well. I don’t like Man United’s chances at reaching the top-4 at this point, especially performing like that against an average Leicester team.
- Next Weekend’s game between Liverpool and Man City is arguably the biggest Premier League match in years. The winner will be in the driver’s seat to take the league title and both teams are on fire right now. Something’s got to give and if it’s anything like the last time they played we’re in for an absolute treat. Sunday 4/10, 11:30 AM. Strap in!
- Arsenal must’ve had an international break hangover of their own, getting demolished 3–0 by Crystal Palace on Monday night! The Gunners still control their own destiny in regards to the top-4, but an unforgiving schedule will make them regret not beating a midtable opponent like Palace.
- Everton lost again. It’s Groundhog Day. They face Burnley on Wednesday in an all-important relegation-threatening game. I still think they have just enough to squeak by and stay in the league this season, but the Toffees are racking up a ton of losses at the wrong time.
- I was preparing to write about how Newcastle have morphed into a club that can hang with nearly anyone. That was until their 1-0 lead turned into a 5-1 deficit against Tottenham. The Magpies won’t be getting relegated this year, but a result like that just can’t happen for a team who has high aspirations going forward.
- Wolves got a nice win over their West-Midlands rivals Aston Villa on Saturday in part due to some calamitous Villa defending. They’re still in the mix for a lucrative spot in the Europa League next season, but like Arsenal, have some pretty brutal games still remaining on their schedule.