Premier League Match Day 34: Top Observations

Moss mishaps cover for Vardy’s

It is safe to say that referee John Moss has had better games than Leicester’s 2-2 draw with West Ham. His befuddling inconsistency regarding several penalty incidents achieved the peculiar result of aggrieving both sets of fans. However, some of the criticism he has received has been wildly excessive and overly caught up in the importance of the game in the context of the title run-in. What’s more, his rapid casting as the game’s villain has saved Jamie Vardy some blushes, after his red card left his team in considerable trouble. It is true that his first booking was harsh, but to so theatrically fall under a soft challenge when on a booking invited the referee to give the second the action it very much deserved. But hey, it is much easier to blame the referee.

Relegation battle heats up

If the results had gone the other way, it is likely that the bottom three in the Premier League would be virtually confirmed. A Norwich victory and a Newcastle defeat would have surely relegated the Magpies, and left Sunderland with an almighty gap to haul in. Instead, victories for both North-East sides added real tension to the scrap to avoid the drop. The fact that Norwich were the ones on the end of Sunderland’s impressive 3-0 win only added to this weekend’s potential importance. A week ago, things looked so very sure. Now, as always seems to be the case, predictors have had to roll with yet another unexpected Premier League punch.

City hit form at best/worst time

In their comprehensive victory over Chelsea, Manchester City showcased the combination of a blistering, skilful attack and imposing, muscular determination that is them at their very best. As they cut through an increasingly lifeless Chelsea side, it was hard not to see the curious duality of their recent rediscovery of top form. On the one hand, it has coincided with their best ever run in Europe, and could serve them well as they hunt for the trophy the incoming Guardiola was himself tasked to win. On the other, it showcases what might have been domestically if they had managed to get any sort of consistency: this third win on the spin is the first such run since August/September. While it shows them rising to the continental challenge, it also shows just how lax they have been in this most winnable of title seasons.

Time to reappraise Gomes?

For many, Watford’s Heurelho Gomes is remembered for this much-maligned stint at Spurs, during which ‘Arry Redknapp seemed all too keen to lambast him in front of his media pals whenever a mistake was made. True, he was error prone, but the reputation he built overlooked the reality of a naturally talented shot-stopper. It is therefore about time that the deserved praise his performances at Watford, both this season and last, warrant. His dual penalty stops against West Brom were the standouts in a season full of thoroughly decent performances, some outstanding saves and, granted, one or two errors. Some are all too keen to remember certain ‘keepers by their shaky past, but Gomes is one who deserves praise for his much sturdier present.

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