Premier League Review – Gameweek 26

Sunderland 2 – 1 Manchester United

Louis Van Gaal’s season took another big hit as Manchester United slumped to a well deserved defeat against Premier League relegation candidates Sunderland on Saturday.

It took just three minutes for Sunderland to break the deadlock on Saturday afternoon as Wabhi Khazri’s crossed free kick found the back of the net unaided. An excellent chipped finish from Anthony Martial levelled the scores six minutes before half time, but the visitors continued to disappoint. Sunderland, on the other hand, went on the hunt for a winner. They eventually found it when Lamina Kone headed towards the goal eight minutes from time, with the ball going in off David De Gea to give Sunderland the three points.

It was an utterly dismal performance from Manchester United, who remain in six points off the top four in 5th place thanks to Manchester City’s defeat. Sunderland move to within a point of safety thanks to Sam Allardyce’s January signings.

Bournemouth 1 – 3 Stoke

Stoke managed to banish their recent poor form in style with a well deserved 3-1 victory over a Bournemouth side that looked incapable of breaking down the Stoke defence.

£18.3 Million deadline day signing Gianelli Imbula started paying back some of his hefty transfer fee nine minutes into the match when he smashed home to put the visitors ahead. Bournemouth held on to the ball for long periods during the first half but ultimately failed to work Jack Butland more than a handful of times, and a quickfire double from Stoke early in the second half finished the game off. Ibrahim Afellay made it 2-0 when he finished off an excellent counter attack, and Joselu headed in a third a couple of minutes later. Bournemouth did manage a consolation two minutes later when Matt Ritchie scored, but they never really looked like getting back into the game.

This ended a run of three straight defeats for Stoke, and they move up to 10th in the table with this result. Bournemouth are in 15th, just four points clear of the Premier League relegation zone.

Crystal Palace 1 – 2 Watford

Watford piled the misery onto the out of form Crystal Palace with an incisive attacking display to extend the hosts run of winless games.

Crystal Palace came into this match having not won any of their last eight Premier League games, and 16 minutes after the game kicked off it looked like it was going to be nine in a row. Troy Deeney opened the scoring from the penalty spot, but Emmanuel Adebayor managed to equalise for the goalshy Eagles on the stroke of half time. It was an undeserved equaliser really, with it being one of the few attempts on goal from a Palace side looking devoid of inspiration. A smart finish from Deeney again gave Watford the lead with eight minutes remaining before a reckless challenge from Pape Souare saw Crystal Palace end the game with ten men.

Crystal Palace drop to 13th in the Premier League thanks to this terrible run of form, whilst Watford’s win takes them up to an impressive 8th in the table, and they are only five points adrift of 5th placed Manchester United.

Everton 0 – 1 West Brom

Everton slumped to an inexplicable 1-0 defeat to the out of form West Brom on Saturday afternoon, and the Goodison Park faithful will still be wondering how they failed to get a goal.

Saloman Rondon netted an early goal against the run of play as he chested in a Jonas Olsson flick on, and that was pretty much it from West Brom. Everton tried to get themselves back in the game with a flurry of attacks, twice hitting the post and having an enormous 76% of possession. To be fair to West Brom, they managed to defend well throughout the match, limiting Ross Barkley to long range efforts and nullifying the threat of Romelu Lukaku.

Everton slip down to 11th in the Premier League after failing to continue their recent good form, whilst West Brom’s first win in six league matches puts them eight points clear of the relegation zone in 14th position.

Norwich 2 – 2 West Ham

West Ham came from two goals behind to earn a point against a Norwich side who will just be happy to have avoided defeat after a run of awful form.

It was a fairly dull first half of football to be honest, but the second half improved vastly as Robbie Brady capitalised on a defensive error from West Ham to curl home the opener in spectacular fashion, and Wes Hoolahan put the home side two goals to the good nine minutes later. But Dimitri Payet pulled one back with 16 minutes remaining, a goal that resulted in Norwich losing all sense of organisation and discipline. Payet turned provider two minutes later as he put it on a plate for Mark Noble to slot home. There was a late flurry of attacks in which both sides could have got a winner, with Adrian saving well from Nathan Redmond and Emmanuel Emenike failing to divert the ball into the net from close range.

Norwich may be disappointed by their capitulation, but the point they picked up has taken them out of the Premier League relegation zone on goal difference. West Ham drop to 7th after Southampton’s win.

Swansea 0 – 1 Southampton

Southampton extended their run of good form and clean sheets with an efficient win over Swansea in a dull affair between two defensive teams.

Graziano Pelle had a goal disallowed for Southampton after Jose Fonte was accused of fouling Lukasz Fabianski, but Shane Long made amends in the second half as he headed in the opener. There isn’t that much to talk about to be honest, as Southampton’s possession based football massively limited Swansea’s opportunities going forward, helping Fraser Forster to his 5th clean sheet in a row. The Southampton number one is surely a hot contender for England number one, although his performance on Saturday was a quiet one.

Swansea’s first defeat in five games sees them remain in 16th position in the Premier League, but the gap between them and the relegation zone has been cut to three points. Southampton leapfrog West Ham in 6th position, and they are only a point off Manchester United now.

Chelsea 5 – 1 Newcastle

An early flurry of goals from Chelsea consigned Newcastle to a dismal defeat which sees them slip back into the Premier League relegation zone.

Diego Costa, Pedro, and Willian all found the net in the first 17 minutes to put Chelsea on an easy road to victory. Pedro got another 15 minutes into the second half before Bertrand Traore made it 5-0. Andros Townsend did manage a late consolation goal for the visitors, but it will have done very little to raise Newcastle’s spirits. This made it 12 games unbeaten for Guus Hiddink’s Chelsea, and they are looking better every week as they try to repair their awful start to the season.

The win moved Chelsea to 12th in the table, and they could move into the top half of the table with a couple more wins. Newcastle slip back into the relegation zone on goal difference, and they will be hoping results like this don’t come back to haunt them at the end of the season. They have the worst goal difference in the Premier League.

Arsenal 2 – 1 Leicester

Arsenal threw a spanner in the works for Leicester with a last gasp winner to blow the Premier League title race open as we approach to run in.

This was a match that would be absolutely crucial in both teams’ title challenges. Leicester could have extended their lead over two of the top four with a win here, whilst Arsenal could make it anybody’s game with a win of their own. Jamie Vardy netted a controversial penalty just before the half-time whistle to put the visitors ahead, but a red card for Danny Simpson and Theo Walcott’s equaliser put Arsenal back in the driving seat. Leicester put their backs to the wall and looked to have held on for a vital point, but Danny Welbeck sent the Emirates into raptures with a 95th minute winner to break Leicester hearts.

The Premier League title run in is looking rather tasty now. Leicester remain at the top of the table, but their lead is now just two points, with Spurs and Arsenal both hot on their tails and Manchester City trailing by six points.

Aston Villa 0 – 6 Liverpool

Liverpool put in an efficient display to punish a poor Aston Villa side and pile the misery on the bottom of the table club.

Daniel Sturridge made a rare venture out of the physio’s room to open the scoring for Liverpool I the 16th minute before James Milner’s free kick made it 2-0. Emre Can, Divock Origi, and Nathaniel Clyne added another three to the scoresheet in the first 20 minutes of the second half before Kolo Toure headed in the cherry on the cake with 19 minutes left to play. This ended Aston Villa’s recent resurgence, and this confidence destroying performance proves why they are the hot favourites for relegation from the Premier League.

Villa are now eight points adrift of safety in the bottom spot of the Premier League, whilst Liverpool move up to 8th, and they could overtake arch rivals Manchester United with a win next weekend.

Manchester City 1 – 2 Tottenham Hotspur

Tottenham Hotspur put their stamp on the Premier League title race with a late winner against Manchester City to make it two home defeats in a row for the faltering title challengers.

Harry Kane struck first after 53 minutes with a penalty after Raheem Sterling was harshly punished for an apparent hand ball in the box. Yaya Toure hit the bar with a free kick before starlet striker Kelechi Iheanacho levelled the scored with 15 minutes remaining. But Spurs’ recent form has them high on confidence, and they went in search of a winner despite being the underdogs away from home against Manchester City. Christian Eriksen got on the end of a through ball from Erik Lamela to coolly slot home the winner with seven minutes left to play.

This takes Spurs to within two points of top of the table Leicester, with Arsenal level on points with them after their victory over the league leaders. Manchester City slip further behind the top three, and are now four points adrift of Spurs and Arsenal in 2nd and 3rd.

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