Oh February, in the world of Football, it’s been a long old month. European football returned after the first ever EPL Winter Break, with FA Cup replays also adding to events that occured in football during the month of February. Of course the leap year brought an extra day, with Crystal Palace making history and the shock that would occur to Liverpool on the 29th February 2020.
February 2nd brought a shock in N17, when Spurs got their forth clean sheet of the season beating Manchester City at home. Yes, you read that correctly, and that was only the first shock of the month. While City missed in a penalty in the first half, it was a dream debut for Steven Bergwijn scoring a dream of a goal while City were down to 10 men. Son scored the second, and it was a dream start to February for Tottenham Hotspur especially considering the weekend results. A weekend where all the teams wanting to be in Europe (bar Liverpool and City) drew quite boringly except for an exciting second half between Chelsea and Leicester (2-2).
Then came February 4th and although the Winter Break had already begun for some, FA 4th Round Replays were still to be played. While the senior Liverpool players jetted off to Dubai, the Maldives etc, the U23s took to Anfield in their replay against Shrewsbury. Although there were no official senior Liverpool players on the pitch (James Milner looked on from the stands spurring the younger lads on) it wasn’t going to be the dream win for Shrewsbury as they lost 1-nil. Although there was some controversy over whether Liverpool was disrespecting the FA for ot playing a full senior team, you can also see Klopp’ point of view wanting to give his players a well deserved break in the sun, or Scotland if you are Andy Robertson. Spurs then took on Southampton on the 5th and came back from 2-1 down to beat the Saints 3-2.
Although the 4th Round FA Cup Replays were played over the first ever EPL Winter Break, the Winter Break still brought lots to talk about. With the first set of matches being played over the 8th and 9th of February while most of the stars were partying in Dubai (hi Dele, James Maddison, Ben Chilwell, Jack Grelish, Mings… okay the list goes on and you get the point), storm Ciara decided to turn up on the shores of Great Britain. Causing havoc, Storm Ciara postponed Manchester City v West Ham.
If we are talking about football matches being called off that you have to also talk about the sheer amount of Women’s Super League matches also called off, whether it was because of the weather or the poor pitches that have occured many cancellations of football matches all season.
As we return to the second week of the EPL Winter Break, which some may say was more boring than the International Break, nothing really exciting occurred. Mourinho has had a mid-life crisis (I understand, Spurs do do that to you) and shaved his head, Eric Dier took a cheap EasyJet flight, and there were private planes galore with the exotic holiday photos.
Outside of England, it all got very exciting when Dortmund played Bayer Leverkusen, in a thrilling match that saw 7 goals and Dortmund going in front twice.
It wasn’t a very romantic Valentines Day for Manchester City. On the 14th February UEFA issued a statement that Manchester City would be banned for all UEFA European Club Competitions for two years for breaking FFP. Of course all the memes emerged on social media, and then came the talk of whether Pep will leave in the summer with a handful of world-class players who WANT to be playing Champions League football. City was always going to appeal and it has now gone to Cas. That was only the start of Storm Denis…
Leicester v Wolves gave a slightly dull 0-0 performance on Valentines, while Southampton should have had a penalty at home to Burnley, which could have secured a draw, but Burnley took the 3 points. Then it was Bottom v Top, as Norwich hosted Liverpool, and of course Liverpool kept a clean sheet and took the three points, although Norwich did have their chances (1-0).
Spurs headed to Villa and it was a bit dramatic. An Alderweireld own goal, followed by an Alderweireld goal that Harry Kane would be proud of, and an iffy Son penalty which was saved and scored on the rebound. All in a first half. The second half saw an Aston Villa equaliser and Dele and Son shooting on target (more at the goalkeeper) but no goal. Then 90+4 and Son finally scores his brace. Oh and Son broke his arm in the opening minutes. Also need to point out that the Villa Belgium player Engels, who was at fault for the penalty, also got redemption and scored Villa’s second.
It was a good match week for North London as Arsenal won only their 7th league match all season beating Newcastle 4-0, and the first time that Pepe, Lacazete and Aubameyang all scored oh and Ozil scored.
The winter break finished with some Monday Night Football – Chelsea v Manchester United. Both of Chelsea’s goals were ruled over by VAR, Harry Maguire should have seen Red, Harry Maguire scored his first Manchester United goal (and was captain), and United did the double over Chelsea this season.
Then we finally get to the RETURN OF EUROPE. Basically the Champions League and Europa League returned.
Athletico Madrid beat Liverpool (1-0) in Spain, before RB Leipzig beat Tottenham in London through a penalty (also 0-1), all before Chelsea got hammered by Bayern Munich at home (0-3). Then finally a Premier League decided to actually score in the Last 16 of the Champions League as Manchester City won in Madrid (Real), and Ramos got sent off for the Madrid giants.
As for the Europa League, Wolves cruised past Espanyol and are through to the Last 16, then the same can also be said for Manchester United. As for the red part of North London, well they fell as the final hurdle (119 minutes) to the team that North London rivals, Tottenham, knocked out of the group stage of Champions League back in November. Olympiakos beat the Gunners 2-1, gained two very important away goals to score their spot in the last 16.
Back to the Premier League…
Tottenham travelled to Chelsea for an early afternoon kick off, with Chelsea doing the double winning 2-1. However, the match highlighted Spurs issues – no Kane and no Son for Spurs, there was simply no sense or feeling of Spurs wanting or going to score. Who is to blame? Maybe ENIC for running the club like a business rather than a football team. In match news, Lo Celso should have seen red, and VAR admitted they got the decision wrong.
Elsewhere, there was more VAR drama on the 22nd at Burnley. Bournemouth had the ball in the net for the equaliser but VAR rules it out. VAR gives Burnley a penalty for handball prior to bournemouth’s goal … oh VAR. Burnley won the match.
Finally we come to the end of the month. Norwich won at home on a Friday Night against Leicester (do they actually want top 4?), gaining the 3 points that could be vital, although they still sit bottom of the league. For the ‘LEAP’ day, Crystal Palace made history as they became the first team to win an EPL match on the 29th February against Brighton. Chelsea drew at Bournemouth, although they could have lost. West Ham also won at home to Southampton.
But the biggest shock of the 29th February 2020, LIVERPOOL LOST A PREMIER LEAGUE MATCH. Watford of all teams beat this season’s invincible’s 3-0 in a shock match. Liverpool lost their first Premier League match in over a year, although we all know they will still win the league (and can do when they face Manchester City).
Liverpool lost a match, three Premier League teams can’t score in Europe, Arsenal got knocked out of Europe, and a winter break. It’s been a long month. Can’t forget VAR can we…