By: Alex Greenberg
Everton really needs to learn how to celebrate a late goal. The Premier League’s most dramatic game of last week was a 3-3 draw between Everton and Chelsea. Everton took the lead in the 90th minute when Ramiro Funes Mori bundled in a cross at the far post. The goal was scored right in front of the travelling Everton fans who went berserk at the idea that they’d just beaten Chelsea at Stamford Bridge.
Funes Mori and the other Everton players celebrated by jumping into the away section for man-hugs and headlocks of love. Stoppage time was to be a whopping seven minutes, but referee Mike Jones allotted even more after it took the Everton players so long to get lined up after scoring. What happened next would have felt like deja vu for Everton fans.
John Terry was probably offside but it wasn’t given when he back-heeled the ball past Tim Howard for a 98th minute equalizer. 98th minute goals don’t happen. Rarely is anything more than five minutes of stoppage time given unless there’s a lengthy stoppage in play because of an injury. But somehow this was the second time this season Everton have conceded a 98th minute equalizer. It also happened in late November when they drew 3-3 with Bournemouth. Junior Stanislas scored that heartbreaking goal against the Toffees, when they were again undone by added time after over-exuberant celebrations in which some Everton fans ended up on the pitch.
That’s four points that Everton have dropped because they celebrated too hard and for too long. Maybe manager Roberto Martinez should put aside a portion of training to work on celebrations. Run to the corner, lose your marbles, but don’t go into the crowd! Nothing hurts more than conceding a goal to public enemy John Terry, maybe that will teach them.
Now onto my predictions for this weekend’s slate of games in the Premier League.
(All Times EST)
Liverpool at Norwich City (7:45 AM)
When I was walking through Liverpool City Centre in December, on my way to Everton-Tottenham, there was a really drunk man who was sitting on the side of the road under an umbrella. He had a little toy microphone, that made his voice louder, so that everyone passing by could hear his rendition of John Lennon’s “Imagine”. I was at a pub nearby and walked back the other way about an hour later. He was still there but this time he was singing “You’ll Never Walk Alone”, the famous song of Liverpool Football Club. Many Liverpool fans have given up hope of making the Champions League this year, but I doubt my liquored-up friend has. Still even he would be hard-pressed to see a route to the top four for Liverpool if they lose to Norwich here. Desperation will show through for Liverpool and I think they will get a result.
Prediction: Liverpool 3-1 Norwich City
Stoke City at Leicester City (10 AM)
I think Leicester City will be their own worst enemy in this match. Recently the Foxes have been parking the bus against some of the bigger teams in the league. They’ve done it to Tottenham and to Manchester City. They were able to frustrate superior teams and hit them on the counter-attack, but I’m not sure they will give Stoke the same respect. Claudio Ranieri’s men will probably play a more open style, and they’ll be punished for it. Stoke are no slouches, and could very well sneak into the Europa League this season. Leicester won’t park the bus and Xherdan Shaqiri will make them pay.
Prediction: Stoke City 2-0 Leicester City
Southampton at Manchester United (10 AM)
United certainly used up all their luck last week at Anfield. They beat Liverpool 1-0 despite being dominated for most of the game. The reality is that United didn’t look very good and would have lost if not for a few important saves from David De Gea. Southampton meanwhile have won two in a row after a poor patch of form that almost saw Ronald Koeman lose his job. Charlie Austin, Southampton’s new signing from QPR, should make his debut for Saints at striker in this game. Austin will be hungry to return to the Premier League after he scored 18 goals last season for QPR in a campaign which ended in relegation. He’ll get off the mark with Southampton at Old Trafford.
Prediction: Southampton 2-1 Manchester United
Bournemouth at Sunderland (10 AM)
I wager that this won’t be watched by many Americans with so many other games on at 10. If you’re an American Bournemouth fan, you probably met the Cherries when they were in Las Vegas last year celebrating their promotion to the Premier League. If you’re an American Sunderland fan you need to stop bringing your rooting interests to wherever DeAndre Yedlin goes! I think these teams will cancel each other out, unless one side feels like producing a moment of magic. Anyone else up for a Yedlin bicycle-kick from 35 yards out?
Prediction: Bournemouth 0-0 Sunderland
Tottenham at Crystal Palace (10 AM)
Spurs had an impressive midweek victory over Leicester in the FA Cup. South Korean international Son Heung-min was the star of the show as he scored a goal and assisted another. Mauricio Pochettino will probably reward Son’s performance with a spot in the starting lineup for this one. The last matchup between these two London clubs was decided by Son’s first Premier League goal for Tottenham following a move from Bayer Leverkusen. He’s a quality player who has scored plenty of times in the Bundesliga and in the Champions League. Crystal Palace have been sliding recently, and keeper Wayne Hennessey’s mistakes have been a big part of that. If Son shoots at Hennessey with the same ferocity that he did for his goal in the Leicester match, then I worry for the Welsh keeper. He may end up slammed into the back of the net like the crocodile-keepers in Super Mario Strikers when you score a power-up goal.
Prediction: Tottenham 2-0 Crystal Palace
Newcastle at Watford (10 AM)
All of a sudden Watford have lost four games in a row. The first two were heartbreaking 2-1 losses to Tottenham and Manchester City, but since then they’ve had two disappointing results against Southampton and Swansea. Newcastle added midfielder/dark lord Jonjo Shelvey to the mix after signing him from Swansea, and Shelvey took no time to settle in. Shelvey’s passes were the crucial ones in both Newcastle goals in their win against West Ham last weekend. His impressive debut is what has me believing that Newcastle will add to Watford’s recent struggles.
Prediction: Newcastle 1-0 Watford
Aston Villa at West Brom (10 AM)
Believe it or not Aston Villa-West Brom is a pretty heated rivalry. These are the two best teams in Birmingham, England’s second largest city. Their fans should enjoy this derby because it may not happen again for sometime. Despite some improved results lately Aston Villa will almost certainly be relegated this season. West Brom fans will enjoy that, and they’ll enjoy a big win here even more. Tony Pulis will have his players up for it, and while it won’t be pretty, West Brom will put one more nail in the coffin of Villa’s first division status.
Prediction: Aston Villa 1-2 West Brom
Manchester City at West Ham (12:30 PM)
Manchester City seemed to reach another gear in their win against Palace last weekend. City’s first two goals were lucky, but their second two were world class as Sergio Aguero and David Silva basically walked the ball into the net. I don’t think West Ham will be able to deal with City at their best. Arsenal’s slip-up at Stoke should add more fuel to the fire as City see the Gunners now just one point ahead of them in the table. West Ham aren’t a bad team by any means, but I see Manchester City being just a class above them here.
Prediction: Manchester City 4-1 West Ham
Swansea City at Everton (8:30 AM)
Sunday’s early kickoff features one team that is stuck in mid-table, and one team that dreams of being stuck in mid-table. Swansea are in a relegation battle and Everton have no excuse if they don’t win this game. They should get all three points, but don’t count out another 98th minute equalizer punching them in the gut.
Prediction: Swansea 2-0 Everton
Chelsea at Arsenal (11 AM)
It’s a shame that Jose Mourinho is no longer in charge of Chelsea. Him and Arsene Wenger do not like each other and always seemed to get into it when they faced off. This fixture at Stamford Bridge in September saw Diego Costa at the peak of his troublemaking talents. Arsenal got two red cards, including one in which Costa goaded Gabriel into kicking out at him. Two Arsenal red cards and two Chelsea goals meant that the Blues had once again gotten the better of their London rivals. That result was an anomaly for both teams as they then went in opposite directions. Arsenal shot up to the top of the table, while Chelsea fell towards the relegation zone and sacked Mourinho. Chelsea have improved since Guus Hiddink took over in the interim in West London, but they haven’t improved defensively at all. Mesut Ozil and Alexis Sanchez could both be back for Arsenal and will be licking their lips at going up against an aging Chelsea back four. I’m just realizing how weird it is going to be rooting for Chelsea in this match. It will be like rooting for a Russian oligarch hell-bent on dominating with money, corruption, and shady backroom deals……Oh wait, that’s exactly what it is.
Prediction: Chelsea 1-3 Arsenal