Spurs have a set-piece problem

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FREE TO WATCH: Highlights from the Premier League clash between West Ham and Tottenham

Tottenham manager Ange Postecoglou looked towards his forward line not having “clarity of thought” in key areas for their 1-1 draw against West Ham, but perhaps the other end of the pitch requires a bit more attention.

Spurs conceded their 10th goal from a set-piece this season in this game as Kurt Zouma rose unmarked in the box to head home the equaliser. That’s the sixth-worst record in the division – and five out of those six worse teams are relegation candidates.

Postecoglou’s side are also in the bottom three for Expected Goals conceded from set-plays. It is relegation-standard defending in this department.

Goalkepeeper Guglielmo Vicario was targeted from set-plays in Spurs’ FA Cup exit to Manchester City in January, then again in the 2-2 draw with Everton a week later.


Two more points were dropped at West Ham – a nagging issue that is holding Postecoglou’s side back in his debut campaign at Spurs.
Sam Blitz

Isak shines again for Newcastle

Alexander Isak appeared disconsolate at the final whistle and well he might. The Newcastle striker deserved to end up on the winning side given his performance in his side’s 1-1 draw against Everton but was left ruing his inability to find the second goal.

He came close, Vitalii Mykolenko clearing his effort off the line. And he was only marginally offside when making a clever run to set up Dan Burn for the goal that initially looked to have doubled Newcastle’s advantage. Whether scoring or creating, he was superb.

Alexander Isak has the best Premier League strike rate in the competition this season
Alexander Isak has the best Premier League strike rate in the competition this season

Isak’s goal was magnificent, his 15th of the season in the Premier League. He is now averaging a goal every 106 minutes in the competition in the current campaign, a record that puts him ahead of Erling Haaland and Mohamed Salah as the deadliest forward.

There is talk of a summer move given Newcastle’s need to raise funds and perhaps rebalance their squad but they would surely be a much weaker outfit for it. What is clear is that on this evidence there would be no shortage of clubs eager to land Isak’s services.
Adam Bate

Everton toil but scramble a draw

Everton are accumulating points. Not quickly, that is for sure. And not easily, either for the players who are toiling away or the supporters who continue to cheer their team on. But they somehow added another to their collection away to Newcastle on Tuesday.

Sean Dyche’s side owed a debt to goalkeeper Jordan Pickford, the wastefulness of the opposition in front of goal, and Paul Dummett’s inexplicable decision to wrestle Ashley Young to the ground late in the game. It was enough to leave with a draw.

There have been five of those draws in the last 13 winless games. Fail to beat Burnley at Goodison Park on Saturday and Everton will equal their worst run since 1937. It is not pretty but so precarious is their situation – on and off the pitch – that they will take it. For now.

There are bigger aspirations than this and a tactical rethink may be required in the summer. But relegation would risk financial ruin. This draw edges them four clear of Luton. This fraught season to forget has been a slog but they might just have enough.
Adam Bate

Striker still the missing piece of the puzzle for West Ham

Michail Antonio
Michail Antonio missed a glaring chance for West Ham in the second half

West Ham’s big chance to secure victory over Tottenham fell to Michail Antonio.

He did so much right, timing his run brilliantly to get in behind Spurs’ high line. He then showed his strength to battle back and win a duel against the impressive Micky van de Ven. But then at the crucial moment, he fluffed his lines with a lacklustre finish.

It was a chance with an xG of 0.24 before the shot was hit. After the shot, the xG rose to 0.83, meaning Antonio had an 83 per cent chance of scoring after his decision was made. In short, it was a chance you’d expect your striker to take.

Michail Antonio
Antonio fired straight at Tottenham’s Guglielmo Vicario when completely through

There was another glaring miss when Antonio produced an air shot with the goal at his mercy after Guglielmo Vicario had somehow kept out Konstantinos Mavropanos’ header. It was a remarkable miss and one that was described by another journalist as a candidate for “miss of the century”, but Antonio’s blushes were spared by the offside flag.

The striker debate at West Ham feels like one that’s been around the club a lot in recent seasons.

He’s been playing well. He won’t play all the minutes all the time, but the form he’s in, he’s a handful.

David Moyes on Antonio’s form

With exciting players like Jarrod Bowen, who was impressive again against Spurs, Lucas Paqueta and Mohammed Kudus pulling the strings, it really does feel like a clinical striker could be the missing piece of the puzzle for a West Ham side keen to keep on improving and go to the next level.

How many teams could say the same thing, however?
Oliver Yew

How long can Forest keep hold of Gibbs-White?

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FREE TO WATCH: Highlights from the Premier League clash between Nottingham Forest and Fulham

It is no real surprise that Arsenal and Tottenham are reportedly both interested in signing Nottingham Forest playmaker Morgan Gibbs-White this summer given his form for the struggling Premier League side so far this season.

However, if either of the north London clubs had scouts in attendance at the City Ground on Tuesday night, then expect offers to come rolling in for the hugely talented 24-year-old after his player-of-the-match performance helped inspire his side to a crucial 3-1 win over Fulham that eased their relegation fears.

Gibbs-White was the star of the show, displaying breath-taking skill to set up Forest’s opener for Callum Hudson-Odoi, before coolly rounding off a lovely move to put his team 3-0 up at the break.

And just when it seemed the home side were about to throw away all their first-half hard work, it was Gibbs-White who they turned to to bring some composure to the hosts in the final quarter of the game.

There were some who questioned what the future held for the player at the City Ground when Nuno Espirito Santo took over after the Portuguese had sold him to Forest, but the Forest boss is no fool and knows his side cannot survive this season without their precious playmaker.

The only problem is, after performances like this, will he still be a City player next season?
Richard Morgan

Impressive Iraola one to watch

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FREE TO WATCH: Highlights from the Premier League clash between Bournemouth and Crystal Palace

It was not pretty. Andoni Iraola said so himself.

“We didn’t play our usual game,” the Spaniard, who made several game-changing second-half substitutions, reflected.

Antoine Semenyo was the difference as the Bournemouth boss was rewarded for his shrewd in-game management when two of his three substitutes combined for the winner.

This was not vintage Bournemouth, certainly not in the Iraola mould. But a third successive home win will satisfy the Cherries’ head coach as his side rise to within touching distance of the top half.

They have surpassed last season’s points total with eight games remaining. That fact speaks volumes about Iraola’s impressive influence, in stark contrast to his opposite number – Oliver Glasner’s honeymoon period in south London is most definitely over.

Brighton’s Roberto De Zerbi seems to be the name in vogue, linked with all the top managerial jobs. Keep this impressive rhythm going and before long, it might be Iraola who starts attracting similar outside attention.
Laura Hunter

A point just isn’t enough for Burnley

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FREE TO WATCH: Highlights from the Premier League clash between Burnley and Wolves

This was just so Burnley. Their season in a nutshell.

Vincent Kompany’s men played progressive, at times, eye-catching football against Wolves. They won the shot count 13-8, had twice as many entries into Wolves’ final third than the visitors managed and produced almost three times as many passes in the final third than Wolves’ figure of 66. However, from those 172 final-third passes, they didn’t create enough big moments. Wilson Odobert, David Fofana and Lyle Foster all have bright futures at this level but are currently raw at the business end of the pitch.

An expected goals figure of 0.98 showcases as much. Burnley got into great areas but created little.

And then at the other end, it was a set-piece that undone them. For the 16th time this season – only Nottingham Forest have conceded more goals from such scenarios. They gifted a chance for Wolves to get back into the match with such a staggering lack of organisation. Same old mistakes. Same old Burnley.
Lewis Jones

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