PREMIER LEAGUE 20/21 BEST MATCHES: MANCHESTER UNITED 6-2 LEEDS, ASTON VILLA 7-2 LIVERPOOL AND MORE
Another memorable Premier League season comes to a close and Manchester City have been crowned the champions of England, winning their seventh league title. The season was full of entertainment and thrills and saw some of the best team performances ever.
The absence of fans in stadiums due to the pandemic was felt the most during those iconic comebacks and last-minute winners that are home to the Premier League. There were many blockbuster matches that didn’t let us blink for a second, or we would miss the ball going into the back of the net. As we go into a break from domestic club football, FootTheBall brings back the seven most memorable matches of the 20/21 Premier League season.
MANCHESTER UNITED 6-2 LEEDS UNITED
A historic rivalry came back to life as Leeds United got promoted to the first division after 16 long years. Christmas was just five days away as the two sides clashed at the Old Trafford for the Pennines Derby.
Leeds ramped the pressure from the beginning and pushed players forward, one wrong pass and the Red Devils were all over them. It was looking like a thrashing for Bielsa’s men as United started the scoring as early as the 2nd minute. Scott McTominay finished a quick counter-attacking move with a scrumptious finish from outside the box.
It became 2-0 in the next minute itself with another goal from the Scotsman. Bruno Fernandes and Victor Lindelof added two more to United’s tally in the first half before the Leeds’ captain Liam Cooper pulled one back for The Peacocks. Half-time scoreline — Manchester United 4-1 Leeds United
Bielsa used two of his subs in the break in order to reduce the deficit but to no avail. The Red Devils started the second half strongly as well and stretched their lead to four goals with a super finish from Daniel James before Bruno scored his second with a penalty in the 70th minute. Stuart Dallas scored a beautiful consolation goal two minutes later but that was all from Leeds as the derby ended embarrassingly for Marcelo Bielsa’s boys in white. It was the first time since 1992 that Bielsa’s team conceded six goals in a match.
It was one of the most entertaining games from a neutral perspective with both teams playing to score. The result meant United continued their unbeaten run against Leeds at Old Trafford (P14 W9 D4).
LIVERPOOL 1-4 MANCHESTER CITY
After a poor start to the season, City picked up pace and became serious title contenders once again. Pep Guardiola had never won a match at the Anfield and this was to be his day.
It was a pretty even game until City got a penalty. But Ilkay Gundogan missed and it remained even until he made up for his blunder with a simple tap in finish in the early second half. Salah equalised by scoring a penalty of his own 15 mins later but a mistake from Alisson in clearing his lines gave Gundogan another tap in to finish from Foden’s cross.
Two minutes later, Alisson made another blunder and gave away the ball in his own box to Bernardo Silva who set up Sterling for his first-ever Anfield goal since leaving Liverpool and extend the lead to two goals.
City finished the game off with a powerful shot from young and talented Phil Foden that went past Alisson and gave Pep Guardiola his first-ever Anfield win.
It was one of the few matches when Manchester City had less possession and harmed the opponents on the break. This win solidified their form and chances of winning the league and they marched on.
MANCHESTER UNITED 1-6 TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR
It was payback time for Jose Mourinho as he returned to the Old Trafford with his new club Tottenham for the first time. Spurs were off to a good start in the new season and it became even better in early October when they faced United away from home. The match however began in United’s favour with Bruno Fernandes converting a penalty in the second minute of the game.
The tides soon turned as United were caught napping on Spurs’ quick counter attacks and conceded two goals in the next five minutes, one each from Ndombele and Son. Midway through the first half, Anthony Martial got his marching orders after a tiff with Spurs’ Erik Lamela and the match became a thrashing. Kane increased the lead to two goals before Son added another to make it 1-4 at half time.
United made two halftime changes to increase the defensive efficiency but it didn’t give them the desired result as Spurs were still all over them in the second half and soon Serge Aurier made it five with a stunning finish. The result had been sealed and it was just a matter of how many more as Kane converted his spot kick, scoring his second and Spurs’ sixth in the 79th minute.
It was an embarrassing defeat for United and Mourinho’s successor at United, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer. A joint-highest home defeat in the Premier League for Manchester United as things looked spiraling down.
ASTON VILLA 7-2 LIVERPOOL
Coincidentally, the same day United got whipped by Spurs, their biggest rivals and defending Premier League champions Liverpool faced the same fate away from home against last year’s relegation battlers Aston Villa. Alisson’s injury meant Adrian will start for Liverpool and he gave away a cheap goal in the opening minutes.
The Villains started off as early as the 4th minute through an easy side footed finish from Ollie Watkins after a loose pass from the Liverpool keeper. Watkins then added another one 18 minutes later, this time with a top corner finish across the goal after carrying the ball for 30 odd yards. Salah pulled one back for Liverpool but Villa’s lead went back to two goals after John McGinn’s volley got deflected into the net off Virgil van Dijk in the 35th minute.
Pool conceded another goal on a set piece just four minutes later with Ollie Watkins completing his perfect hattrick with a simple headed goal off Trezeguet’s header.
The first half ended 4-1 and Liverpool came out in the second half with an attacking intent but ten minutes into the half Ross Barkley made it five for the hosts with a goal on his Aston Villa debut, another deflected shot from outside the box and Adrian was having a night to forget.
Salah scored another goal five minutes later but it only seemed like a consolation goal at the point. Grealish scored two more in the remaining minutes to make sure Liverpool couldn’t regain momentum and sealed the thrashing for the defending champions. Grealish assisted thrice and scored twice in a brilliant performance from the Villains. It was Liverpool’s worst defeat since 1963.
BRIGHTON 2-3 MANCHESTER UNITED
In one of the most dramatic ends to a Premier League match, Brighton equalised in the final minute of injury time, what followed was never seen before and will be remembered for years to come.
Brighton looked more dangerous from the beginning and a Trossard shot got saved by the post to keep the scores level. Brighton kept creating the pressure and chances and won a penalty in the process. Maupay chose to hit a panenka and comfortably beat David De Gea to put Brighton in the lead.
— Manchester United (@ManUtd) April 4, 2021
United soon came on level terms courtesy an own goal from Lewis Dunk off a cutback from Nemanja Matic right before half time. The match was full of drama and it continued with first Brighton getting a penalty decision overturned and later a Rashford goal was disallowed for offside. Rashford finally scored a few minutes later and put United into lead. Brighton put their foot on the gas and created chance after chance but couldn’t score with the frame of the goal saving United twice.
Brighton equalised in the dying seconds with an unmarked Solly March header. United got their final chance to attack but the referee blew the full-time whistle after Brighton cleared the ball away. United players were seen appealing and charging towards the referee, claiming for a handball. There was visible confusion among both the dugouts as the final whistle had already been blown.
The referee Chris Kavanagh headed towards the VAR screen and came back with a decision in United’s favour. The incident preceded the full-time whistle and hence, the penalty was awarded to Man United. Bruno made no mistake from the spot and won the first three points for United in the 20/21 season in dramatic style.
TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 3-3 WEST HAM UNITED
Spurs hosted West Ham in an iconic fixture that gave them a head start into a much improved season. Jose looked like he got things in place at his new club with Kane and Son having the season of their careers. But defensive errors and succumbing to pressure isn’t something new for the Lilywhites.
Spurs started the scoring on their first counter-attack with Son putting the ball past Fabianski in the first minute itself. The hammers looked out of place as soon as Spurs got the ball and conceded once again in the eighth minute with a stunning strike from Kane after dribbling past a couple of players. Kane tripled the lead with a simple header off Reguilon’s cross several minutes later and it looked like game over for Moyes’ side.
West Ham kept pushing for a goal but the best chances still came the hosts’ way. A curling effort from Harry Kane deflected behind off the goal post in the second half what could have been his hattrick.
Spurs looked in control of the game with just 10 minutes to go before the final whistle but it wasn’t over yet. A wide set-piece crossed into the box by Cresswell was turned into the net by Fabian Balbuena. It looked like West Ham were starting to create but time wasn’t on their side with just eight minutes remaining.
Three minutes later, a cross from the right side this time from Coufal was headed past Lloris by his own teammate Davinson Sanchez. An own goal at the dying stage that put West Ham just one behind.
Gareth Bale got the chance to restore a two-goal cushion for Spurs in a 1v1 situation but he missed the goal completely and put it wide.
In the last minute of additional time, where magical stories are often written, the Hammers got another free kick in the wide area. Cresswell lofted it in but Spurs cleared it out of the box, fell to Gareth Bale whose first touch was too heavy and the ball rolled to Manuel Lanzini.
Lanzini smashed his foot across the ball and it went swinging into the top corner edging past Lloris’ outstretched diving hands. Spurs 3 – 3 West Ham. It was one of the most iconic moments of the season and defined what lied ahead for both the clubs early on.
LIVERPOOL 4-3 LEEDS UNITED
One of the best matches of the season came on the opening day itself. Liverpool hosted the newly promoted Leeds at Anfield in what was expected to be an intense hard-fought battle knowing both teams’ approach and quality in attack. Marcelo Bielsa’s men had the best chance to showcase their talent against the defending champions in the first match itself and they didn’t disappoint the fans.
The electrifying match begun at full pace and Liverpool won a penalty in the fourth minute and Salah smashed it right into the middle of the goal as Ilan Meslier dived right. It took Leeds eight minutes to catch the champions as Harrison elegantly went past two Liverpool defenders to score the equaliser, their first goal back in the Premier League.
A monstrous header from van Dijk from a corner restored Liverpool’s lead. The second lead for Liverpool lasted for 10 minutes as Patrick Bamford scored the first of his 17 in the league pouncing on a rare van Dijk mistake.
Three minutes later, Liverpool scored again through Mohammed Salah, a drilling shot across the Leeds goal on a bouncing ball. Liverpool kept the one-goal advantage till the 66th minute when Mateusz Klich scored a beautiful volley set up by his brilliant first touch. Chances kept coming at both ends but the scoreline remained the same.
In the dying minutes, Leeds gave away another penalty for Salah to smash past Meslier, completing his hattrick and sealing the final lead for Liverpool. The Peacocks couldn’t get another with the time almost over, but the character their team showed earned a lot of appreciation from all sides.