Premier League Review – Gameweek 25

Manchester City 1 – 3 Leicester

Leicester put their foot down in the Premier League title race as they outclassed title rivals Manchester City at the Etihad in Saturday’s early kick off.

This match had been billed as a title decider by pundits, fans, and even computers. Salford University’s super computer SAM, which is used to predict football matches, predicted that a win for Leicester on Saturday would see them lift the title. It took the visitors just three minutes for the visitors to put their mark on the game, with Riyad Mahrez’ free kick being turned into the net by Robert Huth. Mahrez turned scorer with an excellent finish after putting two Man City defenders to shame with an impressive run. Huth added his second just after half time when he headed home a corner before Sergio Aguero scored a late consolation goal.

Leicester fully deserved their win. Their defence completely starved Manchester City’s attack throughout the match and Mahrez and Vardy made Man City’s defence look amateur at times. This leaves Leicester five points clear at the top of the table, whilst Manchester City slip being Spurs and into 3rd.

Stoke 0 – 3 Everton

Everton secured their 3rd straight 3-0 victory with an excellent performance against a lacklustre Stoke to continue the hosts poor recent form.

It didn’t start well for Stoke. Star player of the season Jack Butland gave away a penalty ten minutes into the game when he brought down Tom Cleverley inside the area, and Romelu Lukaku confidently dispatched of the spot kick. Seamus Coleman put Stoke’s defending to shame when he managed to score a header from a corner 17 minutes later before Aaron Lennon put the victory beyond doubt with his 3rd goal in three matches a few minutes before the half-time whistle. Everton’s attack continued to dominate after the break, but a string of excellent saves by Butland stopped Everton from scoring what could have been another three in the second half. Stoke, on the other hand, didn’t really register a threat going forward.

This moves Everton up to 7th in the Premier League table after Roberto Martinez had come under some pressure recently. Stoke’s form is suffering though. This was their 3rd straight defeat and has caused them to slip down into the bottom half of the table.

Tottenham Hotspur 1 – 0 Watford

Tottenham Hotspur were made to work hard on Saturday afternoon, but ultimately their quality shone through and they managed to get a valuable win against Watford.

Tottenham Hotspur were in control from the get go against Watford, with the visitors barely venturing out of their own half for almost the whole match. But their defence was resilient, and when it was breached there was the spectacular Heurelho Gomes on hand to deny his former club. His man of the match performance showed what he is capable of in terms of shot stopping, but ultimately it counted for nothing. It took until the 63rd minute for Spurs to finally make the breakthrough, with Dele Alli providing an assist shortly after coming on to allow Kieran Trippier to tap in his first goal for Spurs.

This win allowed Spurs to leapfrog Manchester City up into 2nd in the Premier League, and they currently sit five points behind leaders Leicester. Watford remain in 10th position, a very respectable position considering they were touted for relegation.

Newcastle 1 – 0 West Brom

Newcastle put in a confident display as they took advantage of West Brom’s poor form to claim the three points on Saturday, moving them out of the Premier League relegation zone in the process.

West Brom came into this game having not won any of their last four matches, and they never really looked like breaking out of that streak. They had one real opportunity to score against one of the worst defences in the Premier League, a piece of information that illustrates their struggling attack. Newcastle, on the other hand, managed to put in one of their best displays of the season. Aleksandar Mitrovic coolly slotted in the only goal of the match half an hour in, but it could have been 4-0 were it not for Ben Foster. New signing Andros Townsend hit the post and Mitrovic was denied numerous times by Foster.

This result moved Newcastle out of the relegation zone, and they will go into their next match with a one point advantage over 18th placed Norwich. West Brom will be starting to doubt their ability to stay up now. They are in terrible form and have seen themselves move to within six points of the relegation zone with this defeat.

Swansea 1 – 1 Crystal Palace

Crystal Palace managed to come from a goal behind against the resurgent Swansea and halt their run of defeats thanks to the efficiency of their number one goalscoring defender.

This was always going to be a low scoring game. Swansea have struggled up front since the first few weeks of the season, whilst Crystal Palace’s lack of striking threat has long weighed on the minds of their supporters. Gylfi Sigurdsson’s brilliant free kick 13 minutes into the match gave Swansea a deserved lead, which they managed to carry without much trouble into half time. But just two minutes into the second half a Crystal Palace corner resulted in Scott Dann netting his 5th goal of the season. The second half was a more entertaining affair, but ultimately neither team could find a winner and it was a deserved draw for both sides in the end.

This continued Swansea’s unbeaten streak under their new manager, and the point from this match has seen them move four points clear of the drop zone. Crystal Palace will be happy to put an end to their five match losing streak, and it’s only thanks to their early season good form that they remain comfortable in 12th position.

Liverpool 2 – 2 Sunderland

Liverpool managed to surrender a two goal lead to Premier League relegation candidates Sunderland on Saturday in front of a host of empty seats at Anfield.

There was a staged protest planned at Anfield as thousands of Liverpool fans walked out in the 77th minute due to an increase in ticket prices. This means that thousands of fans missed out on the opportunity to see their side collapse. It took until the 59th minute for Liverpool to break down the worst defence in the Premier League, with Roberto Firmino heading in a James Milner cross. He then put in a cross of his own to allow Adam Lallana to bag a goal and put the three points partway in Liverpool’s bag… Or so they thought. Shortly after the Kop faithful walked out of Anfield Adam Johnson whipped a free kick past Simon Mignolet, and six minutes later Jermain Defoe was on hand to level the scores going into injury time.

Liverpool move down to 9th in the table with this result, and they remain seven points adrift of a top five position. Sunderland are now just four points from Premier League safety, and they seem to be in better form than some of their relegation rivals.

Aston Villa 2 – 0 Norwich

Aston Villa started to think about the unthinkable with an impressive 2-0 win over Premier League relegation rivals Norwich on Saturday.

Aston Villa looked down and out at the beginning of the year, but a recent run of results has started people thinking that they might be able to avoid relegation this season. It was a typically lifeless match between two relegation threatened sides, but a headed goal by Joleon Lescott right on the brink of half time gave Aston Villa a lead to hold on to. Six minutes after the break Gabby Agbonlahor pounced on a defensive mistake to put it in the net. This seemed to settle Villa down, and they began playing with a much greater sense of confidence with a two goal lead under their belts. Norwich couldn’t break through the Villa defence though, so in the end it was a fairly comfortable victory for the hosts.

Aston Villa’s 3rd win of the season sends them to within eight points of safety, and given Leicester’s achievements we could see Villa challenging for the title next campaign. Norwich slip into the drop zone after Newcastle’s win.

Southampton 1 – 0 West Ham

Ten men Southampton hung on for yet another victory as they beat West Ham in a cagey affair in Saturday’s evening kickoff.

Maya Yoshida and Southampton will be incredibly grateful for his 9th minute goal. He finished emphatically from a Sadio Mane ball in the opening stages of the match, which gave Southampton something to hang on to when Victor Wanyama was sent off for the 3rd time this season for a hefty challenge on Dimitri Payet. Despite Southampton’s numerical disadvantage they defended well against a lacklustre West Ham attack, and the confidence giving presence of Fraser Forster is proving invaluable. Southampton have now kept five clean sheets in a row since Forster’s return from injury.

This moves the hosts up to 7th in the Premier League table despite their awful run a couple of months ago. This puts them just two points behind West Ham in 6th.

Bournemouth 0 – 2 Arsenal

A quickfire double from Arsenal gave them a two goal lead against Bournemouth as they looked to revive their faltering Premier League title challenge.

Arsenal had a typically large amount of possession in the opening stages of this game, and they managed to take advantage of this in the 23rd minute. Mesut Ozil smashed in the opener before Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain extended their lead just over a minute later. Bournemouth didn’t seem too disheartened by this and played some really attractive football at times, but their finishing was wasteful. Arsenal didn’t look like they cared much for further extending their lead and seemed content to just play the game out and pick up the three points.

This was Arsenal’s first Premier League win since the beginning of the year, and it has revived a faltering title challenge. They move up to 3rd in the table and are five points adrift of Leicester, who they play next weekend. Bournemouth are five points clear of the relegation zone in 15th.

Chelsea 1 – 1 Manchester United

A late equaliser from Diego Costa further extended Guus Hiddink’s unbeaten streak with Chelsea as they came from a goal behind against an improved looking Manchester United.

After winning 3-0 against Stoke in midweek the confidence was on show for Manchester United. They dominated proceedings in the opening stages of the game and were much the better side. Thibaut Courtois was called in to action to save from an excellent Anthony Martial effort. Manchester United managed to make their dominance pay 15 minutes into the second half though, with the in form Jesse Lingard turning and finishing like a seasoned pro. A serious knee injury to Kurt Zouma put a dampener on the match though, and it looks like the young defender will be out for six months or so. But Chelsea picked themselves up after this, with Diego Costa latching on to a Cesc Fabregas ball, rounding David De Gea, and slotting home in the 91st minute to claim a point for Chelsea.

Manchester United move to within five points of the top four following Manchester City’s defeat, whereas Chelsea remain in 13th place with just 30 points from their opening 25 games.

Please Gamble Responsibly