Following the latest round of Premier League action we look at five things we learned from the weekend fixtures.
Ward takes long-awaited chance
Danny Ward was a surprise inclusion in the Leicester side at Watford as the goalkeeper made his first Premier League appearance for the club – four years after his £12m arrival from Liverpool.
The Wales international has had to be patient for a chance given the consistency of Kasper Schemichel, whose run of 149 consecutive Premier League appearances – the sixth longest run in the division’s history – ended this weekend with Ward named in the starting side.
Danny Ward made his Premier League debut for the Foxes yesterday! 👏 🦊 pic.twitter.com/VXb4pHrQIi
— Leicester City (@LCFC) May 16, 2022
The 28-year-old bounced back from conceding an early goal to produce a fine performance, growing into the game and making a number of strong stops in a largely faultless display.
Rodgers was delighted with Ward’s showing after he gave the goalkeeper a long-awaited chance, having made just 18 previous appearances – all in cup competition – since moving to the club.
“I’ve always said it, I think I have two number ones here,” Rodgers said post-match.
“Danny Ward, you see his presence and some of the saves he makes. For me, it’s for the health of the group. This is his first Premier League game, and for me, respectfully, it’s not healthy, that.
“He looked good in the goal, big and strong. He made some great saves and played with real authority.
“He’s not just here to carry the bags. He’s here because he’s a top goalkeeper, and it’s important that you have a number one who has a challenger who can come in and show up.”
Gelhardt a difference-maker for Leeds
Leeds have developed a healthy habit of scoring late to change games this season, having won nine points with goals scored in stoppage time.
Pascal Strujik’s 92nd-minute header rescued a point against Brighton this weekend and lifted Leeds out of the Premier League’s relegation places, though the defender’s header was proceeded by some improvised brilliance from Joe Gelhardt.
The 20-year-old is fast becoming a cult hero at Elland Road and his moment of magic set up Strujik’s crucial goal, manoeuvring through the tightest of spaces on the byline before crossing for the Dutchman to head home.
2+2 – Joe Gelhardt has two goals and two assists in the Premier League this season, with each one coming in the 83rd minute or later:
83rd min goal vs Chelsea
91st min assist vs Burnley
93rd min goal vs Norwich
91st min assist vs Brighton
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) May 15, 2022
Gelhardt’s impudent scoop over Lewis Dunk was almost playground football as confidently kept his cool, his latest game-changing moment adding to a run of late interventions this season.
The forward has now provided four goal involvements in the Premier League this season with each coming in the 83rd minute or later. The latter two of those have won Leeds a crucial four points in their battle to survive.
London Stadium waves goodbye to Hammers hero
It was an emotional day at the London Stadium as West Ham said farewell to Mark Noble, the club captain making his final home appearance for the club against Manchester City.
Noble was visibly emotional before and after kick-off, with the stadium rising to applaud the midfielder in the 16th minute – the number of his shirt – and again when he was introduced as a substitute late on.
Noble made his debut for the Hammers as a 17-year-old and has since made 549 appearances for his boyhood side, captaining the club with distinction in recent seasons and leading an improved team and dressing room under David Moyes.
If you weren't feeling emotional before, you will be after watching these! 😢
— West Ham United (@WestHam) May 15, 2022
Pep Guardiola was among those to embrace Noble at full-time and congratulate the 35-year-old on his career, one which has seen him become the embodiment of the claret and blue clad supporters who fill into the club’s ground in their thousands.
In an era where one-club greats are becoming a rarer and rarer phenomenon, Noble deserves the tributes that have come his way in recent days.
Everton waste chance to secure survival
The stage was set for Everton to escape the Premier League’s relegation dogfight, with dropped points for Burnley and Leeds meaning a win against Brentford would have secured safety for Frank Lampard’s side.
It all began well as the Toffees – who had taken seven points from their last three games – took the lead inside ten minutes, as Dominic Calvert-Lewin got the faintest of touches to bundle the ball over the line.
In control and confident, the game swung eight minutes later as teenage defender Jarrad Branthwaite got the wrong side of Ivan Toney and was sent off for bringing down the forward when through on goal.
Everton battled on and regained the lead through Richarlison’s penalty, but the extra man proved decisive as Brentford came from behind to earn all three points.
84'—Salomon Rondon subs on for 10-man Everton needing a goal
88'—Salomon Rondon is sent off
FT—Nine-man Everton lose 3-2 to Brentford 😬 pic.twitter.com/5bECi7cFi6
— B/R Football (@brfootball) May 15, 2022
Frank Lampard will need to regroup his side and depleted defensive options ahead of Thursdays clash with Crystal Palace, one which represents a second bite at the survival cherry on home soil.
Spurs pile the pressure on Arsenal in top four race
The momentum appears to be with Tottenham in the race for Champions League football, with a 1-0 win over Burnley having lifted Antonio Conte’s side into the top four this weekend.
Spurs thrashed Arsenal 3-0 in midweek to close the gap on their North London rivals, before moving ahead of the Gunners – having played a game more – on Sunday.
Harry Kane’s penalty provided the difference in a hard-fought win, one which has increased the pressure significantly on Arsenal ahead of their trip to face Newcastle on Monday evening.
Join us on a jaunt around the pitch at full-time with Antonio Conte.
The Spurs boss is electric. Oozing passion! 😅🔥 pic.twitter.com/EHKnhArq9z
— Football on BT Sport (@btsportfootball) May 15, 2022
Conte’s arrival has galvanised the club with only the top two having taken more points than Spurs across the last 12 league fixtures.
Often ridiculed with jibes of ‘Spursy’ for the club’s past failures, Conte has appeared to instil an improved mettle in this side and so far Spurs look to be holding their nerve in the Champions League chase.
It’s out of their hands, but recent results having given Spurs a fighting chance.
Over to you, Arsenal.
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