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Match Reaction

Three talking points as Watford claimed a dramatic late draw against West Brom



Richarlison scored a dramatic header deep into time added on as Watford fought back from two goals down to claim a last-gasp point against West Brom at the Hawthorns on Saturday afternoon.

Two goals in the space of three first-half minutes had given the hosts a healthy lead, with Salomon Rondon finding the net on his return to the starting line-up before Jonny Evans headed in a second.

However, Abdoulaye Doucoure finished off an intricate passing move shortly before the break to halve Watford’s deficit and, after that, they dominated possession as they looked to force an equaliser.

It came in the most dramatic style, as Richarlison popped up in the 94th minute to head home from Jose Holebas’ perfect in-swinging free-kick, preserving Watford’s unbeaten away record in the top-flight.

The Brazilian’s late heroics sees Marco Silva’s side rise up to fifth in the Premier League standings following their fourth win in seven games, with West Brom also moving up to tenth with the point.

Richarlison strikes at the death again

Do you ever get the sense of déjà vu?

Watford new boy Richarlison was the late hero for the second week running as he popped up in the dying moments to secure the Hornets a point at West Brom, maintaining their unbeaten away record.

The plucky 20-year-old – who arrived from Brazilian side Fluminense for £12 million during the summer transfer window – smashed home a 90th minute winner against Swansea City last time out but he went one better at the Hawthorns, heading home in the 94th minute in a breathtaking finale.

There was a lot of trepidation surrounding his move to Vicarage Road but he has certainly already gone a long way to winning over the Watford supporters, earning his team three points in the space of seven days.

His performances have deserved the goals, too, with Richarlison making things happen in the opposition territory – only Harry Kane has attempted more shots (22) than the Brazilian’s tally of 16.

Many Watford fans would have expected record signing Andre Gray to be the one making waves early on in the season, but it seems that they’ve found a new cult hero in the form of the youngster.

Pulis frustration as West Brom focus falters

After their mightily impressive start to the 2016-17 season, which saw the Baggies flirting with the European spots until the middle of December, they might have expected a similar start this time out.

However, it has not quite come together for Tony Pulis and his side since securing back-to-back wins on matchdays one and two, going winless in their last five Premier League games dating back to August.

It has been a relatively favourable runs of matches, as well, with West Brom drawing against Stoke City, West Ham and Watford whilst also falling to a defeat against newly-promoted side Brighton & Hove Albion, and Pulis will see it as a big missed opportunity as they prepare to face the sides at the top.

On this occasion they were literally seconds away from securing a morale-boosting win only for Richarlison to strike and it’s fair to say a rare lapse in concentration and discipline has proven costly.

Pulis himself said after the game that it was ‘hard to take’, with it no doubt feeling like a defeat despite earning a point, and they’ll need to pick themselves up to face Leicester after the international break.

Marco Silva’s rejuvenation of Watford continues

Watford’s incredible turnaround under Marco Silva shows no signs of relenting so far as they avoided defeat for the sixth time this season – in seven matches – with their last-minute heroics.

Their unbeaten run came to an end with an abrupt 6-0 thrashing at the hands of Manchester City but, whilst many would have expected them to continue on a downward slide after that, the Hornets have bounced back in impressive fashion to cement their excellent start, sitting fifth in the league.

It is all a far cry from their campaign last time around, where they sat in 11th place after seven matches of the season with three defeats to their name, eventually limping to a 17th place finish.

It shows just how much of an impact Silva has had on the dressing room since arriving over the summer, instilling a never-say-die attitude that leaves his players playing for each other on the pitch.

Last season they would have limped to full-time had they been losing but they battled until the end and ultimately got their just rewards on Saturday, and there’s a real sense of belief around Vicarage Road for the first time since Watford earnt their promotion back to the top-flight back in 2014-15.

Will is a Multimedia Journalism graduate from the University of Salford, specialising in the art of sports. Long-time suffering Northampton Town fan who once saw us win a league title. Find him on Twitter - @96PearsonW.

Match Reaction

“Terrible, terrible manager”: West Ham fans lose patience with David Moyes



Photo: Getty Images.

Drawing with Stoke City was a disappointing result which brought West Ham firmly back to earth after seeing off Southampton and then drawing at Stamford Bridge, but fans pointed the finger at one man in particular: David Moyes.

The former Everton, Manchester United and Sunderland boss opted to retain the same starting line-up that took a point from Chelsea and used the same 5-4-1 system, deploying Marko Arnautovic as a makeshift centre-forward.

On home turf against second from bottom Stoke City, the conservative set up almost ended in catastrophe as Joe Hart’s calamitous error allowed Peter Crouch to give his side the lead before Andy Carroll’s last gasp equaliser.

Fans did not hide their displeasure on Twitter…

The Scot’s contract is set to run until the summer with safety still not secured for the Hammers, who have been brought right back into the fight by drawing against the Potters.

It could have been worse for the Irons had David Moyes not looked to his bench, where he first deployed the hero at Chelsea, Javier Hernandez, but even then not until the 77th minute.

Playmaker Manuel Lanzini joined in with only nine minutes left on the clock and Andy Carroll, who proved to be the equaliser, was only given four minutes of normal time plus injury time.

(Photo credit should read GLYN KIRK/AFP/Getty Images)

With fixtures coming up against the likes of Arsenal, Manchester City and Manchester United before the season is out, fans were baffled by the decision to go quite so defensive in a must win game at the London Stadium.

Now, West Ham are seven points from safety with five games left to play but only face opposition against top half sides, with a trip to face Leicester City and Sam Allardyce’s return on the final day of the season with Everton completing the club’s fixture list.

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Crystal Palace

Crystal Palace 2-3 Manchester United: Three talking points from Selhurst Park

The Red Devils mounted an incredible comeback at Selhurst Park.

Rob Meech



Photo: Getty Images

Nemanja Matic scored a dramatic stoppage-time winner as Manchester United overturned a two-goal deficit to inflict more pain on struggling Crystal Palace. Matic fired home from 25 yards to complete a memorable comeback from United, whose victory helped them regain second spot in the Premier League. Palace, meanwhile, remain in the relegation zone after slipping to their third successive defeat.

Selhurst Park was rocking when Andros Townsend put the hosts ahead via a huge deflection, before Patrick van Aanholt doubled their lead shortly after the break. However, Chris Smalling gave United hope 10 minutes later and the visitors then restored parity through Romelu Lukaku. With time ebbing away the draw looked inevitable, only for Matic to break Palace’s hearts with his first goal for the club. Here are three talking points…

(Photo by Ian Kington/AFP/Getty Images)

Palace’s survival hopes suffer a hammer blow

A week earlier, the Eagles thought they had earned a vital point against Spurs in their battle to avoid the drop. That was until Harry Kane popped up to snatch victory with practically the last touch of the game. A sense of deja-vu was palpable when, after another encouraging performance against one of the top-flight’s heavyweights, Matic ensured Palace went home empty-handed. It was a monumental body blow.

Roy Hodgson’s side had belied their lowly league position and taken the attack to United, deservedly assuming complete control. Had the score remained at 2-0, Palace would have been as high as 13th in the table. But United’s comeback, which left Hodgon and his players visibly deflated, means they are 18th, one point adrift of safety with an inferior goal difference. Although the performance was a positive one, the result leaves the South London club deep in the mire.

(Photo by Tony Marshall/Getty Images)

Mourinho buoyed as United show resilience

For all the talk about how this has been a disappointing campaign for United, they leapfrogged Liverpool into second place as a result of this stunning victory. Jose Mourinho’s men exhibited substantial amounts of steel in doing so. They faced a real test of character, having fallen behind against a team fighting for their lives. It looked like a mountainous task, but United fought their way back into the game before snatching all three points at the death.

This was the first time since 2013 that the Red Devils had clawed back a two-goal deficit to win a Premier League match. Of all their victories this season, perhaps this one will please Mourinho the most. Any divisions are quickly exposed when teams find themselves in trouble. But the way United stuck to their task was a big statement at a key stage of the season. It should give Mourinho belief that his side can see off the likes of Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspur in the battle to finish runners-up.

(Photo by Tony Marshall/Getty Images)

Hodgson desperate for Wilfried Zaha’s return

Hodgson has previously tried to dismiss its significance, but Palace’s inability to win without Wilfried Zaha cannot be passed off as an anomaly. The Eagles have lost every single one of the nine Premier League games in which the 25-year-old has not featured this season, scoring only one goal in the process. For a while it looked as though that alarming record would be consigned to the history books, until United mounted an inspired comeback.

Zaha is clearly a talented individual whose absence would affect any team’s potency, but Palace’s over-reliance on him must be very concerning. The Ivory Coast international is currently sidelined through a knee injury and although he is back in light training, Hodgson has put no timeframe on his return to the fold. It’s no exaggeration to argue the Eagles’ survival aspirations depend on him.

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Leicester City 1-1 Bournemouth: Three talking points from the King Power

Rob Meech



Leicester City
Photo: Getty Images

Riyad Mahrez’s stunning 97th-minute free-kick rescued a point for Leicester City against Bournemouth.

Mahrez, who had been heavily linked with a move to Manchester City in the January transfer window, curled the ball past Asmir Begovic from 30 yards to deny the Cherries victory in a grandstand finish at the King Power Stadium.

Joshua King had given Bournemouth a first-half lead when he stepped up to dispatch a spot-kick after being fouled inside the area.

The Foxes threw everything at their opponents in the second period but had to wait until deep into added-time for a dramatic equaliser.

Here are three talking points…

(Photo by Catherine Ivill/Getty Images)

Redemption for Mahrez after troubling period

The Algerian’s attempts to engineer a switch to City and subsequent failure to report to training had not been well received by Leicester supporters.

Mahrez had been a key figure in the Foxes’ phenomenal Premier League title triumph two years ago, but his reputation suffered a battering when he made it clear he saw his future away from the club.

After a difficult period for all involved, Mahrez is back in the fold and now back in the fans’ good books.

His last-minute goal against the Cherries certainly was evidence of his redemption.

Thirty yards out, the 27-year-old started the ball outside the wall and watched it bend back past Begovic’s outstretched right hand.

Leicester, who have never beaten Bournemouth in the top-flight, are winless in five Premier League matches, but they remain eighth in the table.

With Mahrez’s reintegration seemingly complete, a fruitful finish to the season could even help them push for a European place.

(Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)

Howe ‘disgusted’ as Bournemouth concede so late

Bournemouth’s backs had been firmly up against the wall in the second half as they sought to hold on to their tenuous advantage.

It looked to have been a worthwhile effort until Mahrez’s moment of magic.

A share of the spoils was probably fair in the context of the game, but Cherries manager Eddie Howe admitted he felt ‘disgusted’ after watching the visitors concede so late.

Only four minutes of stoppage-time had been scheduled, but an injury to Simon Francis as well as a substitution meant referee Lee Probert played nearly double that amount.

Despite missing out on what would have been a crucial win, Bournemouth are edging towards safety.

They have lost only once since Christmas, a run that has helped them climb out of the relegation zone and amass 33 points.

Two more victories from their remaining nine fixtures should be enough to secure Premier League football for a fourth successive campaign.

(Photo by Roland Harrison/Getty Images)

Summer will be a key time for both clubs

In a league that is dominated by the so-called ‘Big Six’, the primary aim of the other 14 clubs is survival.

As mentioned above, both Leicester and Bournemouth are all but guaranteed to be playing in the top-flight next season.

The question for both in the summer will be, how can they push on?

The first job for the Foxes’ hierarchy and manager Claude Puel will be deciding the future of Mahrez.

Do they cash in on their star player and reinvest the funds into the squad, or do they try to tie him down to a new contract?

Bournemouth’s ambitions are perhaps not as high as Leicester’s, but after finishing ninth last season, another mid-table position will consolidate their status as a bona fide Premier League outfit.

On the field, there may be some significant outgoings as Howe looks to freshen his resources.

The out-of-favour Harry Arter is one player who looks likely to leave the south coast.

Off the field, the club will hope its plans for a new stadium get closer to becoming a reality.

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