Premier League Review – March 2017

Our eyes were taken slightly off the Premier League title race in March with some of the teams at the top restricted to just two games due to FA Cup commitments and the international break. It meant that the battle at the bottom was in the spotlight with a couple of key games between sides fighting to survive.

The table on 1st March
The table on 1st April (before the day’s games)

What We Can See From The Table

  • Two wins from three games took Liverpool into the top four at the expense of Arsenal, who have dropped to sixth following defeats in both of their two March matches.
  • Jurgen Klopp’s side were one of eight teams to remain unbeaten last month – although Chelsea, Tottenham Hotspur, Manchester United, Leicester City and Crystal Palace only played two games.
  • Arsene Wenger’s men meanwhile were one of six sides to not pick up a victory in March, and one of three not to even pick up a point (along with Watford and Middlesbrough).
  • Palace’s two wins from two games moves them out of the relegation zone and four points clear of it, whilst champions Leicester City now have a six point gap between themselves and the bottom three.
  • Hull have therefore dropped into the bottom three despite beating relegation rivals Swansea in March. The Swans themselves won one from three and are three points above the Tigers.

Player of the Month

Romelu Lukaku – Everton

CREDIT: Tony McArdle/Everton FC via Getty Images

Romelu Lukaku made headlines off the pitch in March by turning down a new contract that would have made him the richest player in Everton’s history. But it did not seem to affect his performances on the pitch, with four goals and two assists in three games proving exactly why the Toffees are desperate to keep him at the club. They entered the month on a nine game unbeaten run, but began with a 3-2 defeat to Tottenham Hotspur in which Lukaku struggled for service but still managed to find the back of the net with a calm finish under Hugo Lloris. The Merseyside outfit returned to form the following week though with a 3-0 win over West Brom, and the Belgian assisted Morgan Schneiderlin’s goal with a fine turn and pass before getting on the scoresheet himself late on with a bullet header.

His best performance was saved for Everton’s final game of the month as he scored two stoppage time goals to make the Toffees’ win over Hull City a 4-0 rout, having earlier set up Enner Valencia to score. The goals ensured that the 23-year-old ended the month as the Premier League’s top scorer with 21 goals, whilst he also became the first Everton player to score at least 20 league goals in a season since Gary Lineker hit 30 in 1985-86.

2nd – Josh King (AFC Bournemouth)

3rd – Dele Alli (Tottenham Hotspur)

Manager of the Month

Eddie Howe – AFC Bournemouth

CREDIT: Getty Images

Having not won since December, Bournemouth were in danger of being dragged into the relegation battle at the start of the month, but Eddie Howe rallied his troops and the Cherries went through March unbeaten as they collected two wins from three games. They opened with a draw at Manchester United, an impressive point they earned despite playing the second half with 10 men following Andrew Surman’s red card after Josh King’s penalty had cancelled out Marcus Rojo’s opener. Former Red Devil King was again on the scoresheet, three times in fact, as back at the Vitality Stadium, the South Coast side defeated West Ham United 3-2 – a result that ended an eight-match winless run for the Cherries. They then secured back-to-back Premier League wins for the first time in 12 months with a 2-0 victory over Swansea City thanks to an Alfie Mawson own goal and Benik Afobe’s strike. 39-year-old Howe’s stock is rising by the day, and ensuring a third successive top flight campaign for Bournemouth, who were in League Two just seven years ago, would be a massive achievement.

2nd – Sam Allardyce (Crystal Palace)

3rd – Craig Shakespeare (Leicester City)

Goal of the Month

Jesse Lingard vs Middlesbrough

2nd – Emre Can vs Burnley

3rd – Andros Townsend vs West Bromwich Albion

Game of the Month

Bournemouth 3-2 West Ham United

CREDIT: Reuters

Joshua King scored a hat-trick as Bournemouth boosted their Premier League survival hopes by beating West Ham to secure a first win in 2017. King had missed an early penalty for the Cherries when he fired wide of the post, and 48 seconds later West Ham took the lead when Michail Antonio swept a low shot into the bottom corner.

Bournemouth were given another chance from the spot after Marc Pugh was fouled but again failed to convert it as Benik Afobe’s effort was saved by Darren Randolph. But the hosts did not let their heads drop and were level when King hooked the ball over his marker before volleying home. He then made it 2-1 with a close range finish just after the break. Andre Ayew had looked to have earned West Ham a draw with a placed finished late on but King stole the points when he lashed into the roof of the net after Randolph had denied substitute Jack Wilshere. Read the full BBC report here.

2nd – Swansea City 3-2 Burnley

Read the full BBC report here.

3rd – Watford 3-4 Southampton

Read the full BBC report here.

Did You Know?

CREDIT: Mark Thompson

Arsenal have lost four out of their last five Premier League games for the first time in since April 1995.

Managerial Departures

CREDIT: Getty Images
  • Aitor Karanka sacked by Middlesbrough on 16/03 – Steve Agnew placed in caretaker charge on the same day.

Games to look out for in April

  • Liverpool vs Everton (01/04)
  • Southampton vs Bournemouth (01/04)
  • Arsenal vs Manchester City (02/04)
  • Manchester United vs Everton (04/04)
  • Hull City vs Middlesbrough (05/04)
  • Chelsea vs Manchester City (05/04)
  • Manchester United vs Chelsea (16/04)
  • Tottenham Hotspur vs Arsenal (30/04)
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