Premier League Roundup Matchday 33

Written by Contributor: Sean Gallagher

EPL Roundup Matchday 33: Liverpool Take Advantage of Steffen Errors to Reach FA Cup Final; Top 4 Race Continues to Change Hands; Newcastle Win Late over Leicester

With the Premier League season getting closer to the end, matchday 33 brought another twist to this year’s never-ending top-4 race. We also had a pair of FA Cup semi finals take place at Wembley. This is where the season gets fun!

FA Cup: Manchester City v Liverpool (2-3)

Just a week ago we were lucky to watch these two juggernauts battle it out in an all-important Premier League match. Then we got treated to another clash this past weekend between Klopp and Guardiola’s teams in the FA Cup! The schedule can be truly ruthless. Manchester City’s last four games have been: Atletico Madrid, Liverpool, Atletico Madrid, Liverpool. Talk about a nightmare of a 2 weeks. The games against Atletico alone seemed to have taken everything out of City; they were more like WWE fights rather than soccer. To then have to turn around and play Liverpool twice… it doesn’t surprise me that they dropped this one. But man, those were some UGLY mistakes by U.S. keeper Zack Steffen to hand Liverpool the victory.

We were never going to be treated to the same type of game we saw last weekend. Not with how grueling the schedule has been for both these clubs. What I never expected were the shocking blunders and sloppiness that you don’t ever see from a side like Man City. Pep Guardiola was missing plenty of his best players, including De Bruyne, Kyle Walker, Ruben Dias, Gundogan, Rodri… the list could go on. But it would be the voluntary emission of starting goalkeeper Ederson from the starting lineup that may have been the reason City were ultimately defeated. Often times teams will allow a backup goalkeeper to play in competitions like the FA or Carabao Cup, in order to A) keep them happy and B) give the starters a rest. We saw it when Liverpool played Kelleher in goal all throughout the Carabao Cup; and they ended up winning that competition! It would be just 9 minutes into the game when Liverpool found a breakthrough, thanks to defender Ibrahima Konate rising to score a header (something he had done earlier in the week vs. Benfica). That’s the kind of goal that is killer to concede if you’re City: a corner kick that no defender could get their head on.

But it would be a few minutes later that caught everyone’s attention. John Stones played a standard ball back to Zack Steffen in goal. We’ve seen Ederson do it plenty of times (including last week!), where he holds the ball for a bit too long on the goal line and causes a near-disaster. Steffen did the exact same thing, and this time it ended in total disaster. Sadio Mane came sprinting up to the ball and tackled it right off Steffen’s foot to score one of the more bizarre goals you’ll see all year. It was like taking candy from a baby. It’s hard to pile on Steffen for the mistake; this is one of the few games he gets to start all season for his club and now he’s going viral for a nightmarish error. But that just can’t happen in a game of this magnitude. Don’t forget about the USMNT, who’ve had a goalkeeper controversy on their hands for some time now between Matt Turner and Steffen. Maybe that’ll be the final straw for Gregg Berhalter to go ahead with Turner as the world cup starter.

As for the rest of this semi-final affair, Liverpool would go on to add another before City made things interesting. Gabriel Jesus had an excellent chance to cut it to 3-2 on a breakaway chance that Alisson was just barely able to get a foot on. Bernardo Silva did eventually make it a one-goal game in the 90th minute, but it was too little too late for Man City. The result means Liverpool advance to the FA Cup final against Chelsea, a rematch of this year’s Carabao Cup final that ended in a thrilling penalty shootout. Mark your calendars for May 14th!

Top-4 Watch

What a crucial week this was in the Top-4 race! I’ll keep asking it: Does any team want the final Champions League spot?! Let’s catch up on how each contender did this week:

  • It took a Cristiano Ronaldo hat trick for Manchester United to beat lowly Norwich. But they got the job done and they got all that matters: the 3 points. Being able to watch Ronaldo still put on masterclass performances like that at age 37 is a true treat and why the Premier League has been taken to another level this year. United are now up to 5th in the table!
  • Brighton, the top-4 slayers! The Seagulls thwarted Arsenal last week and did the same against Spurs on Saturday morning. Tottenham failed to record a single shot on target in a frustrating home showing that Antonio Conte could hardly watch. They were looking at a 0-0 draw until Leandro Trossard took advantage of some sloppy defending and scored a 90th minute winner. The type of game that you can’t lose if you’re Spurs.
  • It’s starting to become a freefall for Arsenal. If you read the stats it would show that Gunners should’ve dominated, having 75% possession and 23 shots in the match. But they weren’t creating anything meaningful in front of goal. One thing’s for certain: Pierre-Emerick Aubamayeng was a really bad fit at Arsenal by the end of his tenure there. But you have to think Mikel Arteta is losing his mind watching him score frequently for Barcelona, while no real striker has emerged at Arsenal since he left in the Winter.
  • If it wasn’t already certain, that’s probably the nail in the coffin for West Ham’s top 4 hopes. The Hammers couldn’t get the job done against a pesky Burnley; and with Chelsea, Arsenal, and Manchester City still on their schedule, David Moyes will have to settle for a Europa League spot.

Quick hits:

  • I genuinely can’t believe Burnley decided to let go of Sean Dyche. The man is flat out the reason they’re still in the Premier League and if anyone was going to keep them up this year it would’ve been him. I don’t see any scenario where they don’t get relegated now.
  • What an ending we saw at St. James Park! Newcastle came away with all 3 points after a last-minute winner against Leicester. Bruno Guimaraes has been an incredible signing for the club and he proved why on Sunday.
  • A couple vital games to watch out for next weekend: Arsenal-Manchester United and Chelsea-West Ham. Not to mention the Merseyside derby between Liverpool and Everton which never fails to deliver.
  • Chelsea bowed out of the Champions League despite a valiant comeback effort against Real Madrid. The semifinals start next week, and our matchups are: Manchester City-Real Madrid, and Liverpool-Villarreal.