The F365 Blackout: Newcastle keep Wolves from door, Brighton’s false floor collapses at last

Dave Tickner
Alexander Isak opens the scoring for Newcastle against Wolves
Alexander Isak opens the scoring for Newcastle

It promised to be a pretty decent set of Saturday 3pm kick-offs and if anything it exceeded expectations. At least three goals in all but one of the games, and that one had a 99th-minute winner instead. Lovely, nutritious Barclays, this.

 

Newcastle 3-0 Wolves: Magpies make the best of it in a game that meant more than they’d like
It would have seemed unlikely back in August for a routine home win over Wolves in early March to have been quite such a significant and necessary result for Newcastle.

But these are two teams whose seasons have taken them in unexpectedly convergent directions, with Big Six-infiltrating Newcastle slumping into mid-table while a Wolves side who began the season in chaotic circumstances after Julen Lopetegui’s departure and set for an apparent relegation fight have really never been in one at all.

Such have been their respective journeys that a Wolves win today would even have seen them leapfrog their wealthy but suffering opponents.

It was a useful time, then, for Newcastle to find themselves once more. Even progress to the last eight of the FA Cup hadn’t really settled anyone down, so unconvincing was their passage past a Blackburn side with only two Championship wins to their name since November.

But this was much more like it. The goals obviously welcome, but the clean sheet perhaps even more so after recent unpleasantness.

There will be no return to the Champions League next season – Spurs in possibly-enough fifth are 10 points clear with a game in hand – but there is still an acceptable league season that can be salvaged here. Sixth place is not out of range if there can be more days like this against opponents who have shown all season long that wins like this against them cannot airily be dismissed as ‘only Wolves’.

 

Everton 1-3 West Ham: Hammers late show seals El Moyesico glory
London Buses for David Moyes and West Ham, then, as a six-game winless Premier League run is now bookended on one side by three successive wins and now a couple more against Brentford and, most gratifyingly, in the Moyes Derby at Goodison Park.

That this victory came in adversity after his side went a goal down on 56 minutes should also please Moyes. If West Ham fans remain unconvinced by the manager, any evidence that the players retain hunger for the fight is to be welcomed by any self-respecting beleaguered manager.

Everton, meanwhile, might feel they’ve tossed away three of the four points the universe gave them this week. They were good value for their lead, one that could have been taken earlier from the penalty spot, before their late collapse.

 

Fulham 3-0 Brighton: Seagulls finally slip out of top seven after latest worrying effort
We noted this week Brighton’s largely undiscussed but really quite dramatically poor form over what is now a really very long time, and sure enough that run of form is now five wins in 21 Premier League games. For context, that is the same number of wins as they collected in their first six games of the season.

That gravity-defying, attention-diverting seventh place is now a distinctly less impressive ninth and suddenly they are closer to the bottom half than the top six, with Manchester United five points above them and Chelsea now just three points behind with a game in hand.

Fulham, who retain a pleasing penchant for chucking in enough excellent wins like this one to remind you what they’re capable of while also still doing things like, say, taking one point from six against Burnley, are now only four points behind them.

Perhaps our favourite feature of that really quite lengthy run of mediocre form from Brighton is the fact it has contained neither back-to-back wins nor back-to-back defeats. Which is some good news at least for next week’s game against Nottingham Forest.

 

Nottingham Forest 0-1 Liverpool: Klopp’s next-gen mentality monsters are winning the lot, aren’t they?
“Liverpool are now four points clear at the top of the Premier League after Nunez’s 99th-minute winner at the City Ground. They are going to win the bloody lot, aren’t they? Klopp’s announcement that he will step down at the end of the season seems to have given a second wind to this group of players and if the German is ‘running out of energy’, this has not been rubbing off on his players.

“The win at Forest is another mentality monsters moment and proof that Klopp’s players will fight until the end of every game, until the end of his reign at Anfield. We probably knew that anyway. But every time you see it in practice… you can’t help but be impressed.

“Despite their underwhelming performance against Nuno Espirito Santo’s side, there was a feeling of inevitability to Nunez’s last-gasp winner. That is the feeling this Liverpool team gives you. Even when they are not playing at their best and without several crucial players, they get the job done. It won them a sodding trophy last week, for crying out loud. Although they always should have beat Chelsea…”

Read the full verdict on Nottingham Forest 0-1 Liverpool here.

Darwin Nunez celebrates his goal for Liverpool against Nottingham Forest.
Darwin Nunez celebrates his goal for Liverpool against Nottingham Forest.

Tottenham 3-1 Crystal Palace: Spurs win from behind again, but doubts remain
Defeat at home to Wolves a fortnight ago had been coming for quite some time after a series of wins at White Hart Lane 2.0 that had all followed a vaguely similar blueprint. Unconvincing first-half displays, a great many unimaginative and easily repelled attacks, lots of possession and sterile domination, sloppy and unnecessary concessions and then eventually a win, very often from behind, that flattered Spurs to one degree or another.

“Now let’s have a quick look at today’s game, shall we? Right. It had literally all of that. Again. They’ve ended up on the right side of things – again – and at some point maybe we do have to just accept that as they do so far, far, far more often than not at home – six wins in seven here now – maybe they do know what they’re doing.”

Read the full verdict on Tottenham 3-1 Crystal Palace here.

 

Brentford 2-2 Chelsea: Sacking Poch is now clearly Boehly’s quickest route to regaining fans’ trust
“Via the medium of song, Chelsea fans urged Pochettino to ‘f*** off’ and told Todd Boehly: ‘You’re a c***.’ Chelsea’s players and management are accustomed to dissent this season but the pocket of Blues in the corner turned on their own in the curtest way yet while serenading Roman Abramovich and Jose Mourinho.

“The away supporters were driven to such anger by a performance that was typical of their season: signs of promise undone by lapses of concentration, some abject ineptitude and appalling flakiness.

“For their next four games, Chelsea return to the discomfort of home, where Boehly might find it harder to ignore the c*** calls if today’s dissent is amplified accordingly. If the Blues owner wants to get fans onside, pulling the trigger towards Pochettino appears the quickest and easiest way to do it.”

Read the full verdict on Brentford 2-2 Chelsea here.