West Ham 3 – 3 Arsenal
An unlikely hat trick earned West Ham a very deserved point against Arsenal, but they couldn’t hold on for the win to strengthen their top four ambitions.
Alex Iwobi went from goalscorer to provider in this match as he laid on passes for Mesut Ozil and Alexis Sanchez to give Arsenal a 2-0 lead in the first half, but Andy Carroll struck back just before the break. The injury prone English striker netted again in injury time to send the teams into half-time all square, and then a trademark header completed his hat trick seven minutes after the break. Laurent Koscielny struck for the visitors with 20 minutes remaining though. Andy Carroll was the main talking point though, with an early booking being followed by three quickfire goals and a stray elbow that could have seen him sent off.
With Manchester City winning later in the day this leaves West Ham seven points adrift of a top four spot, but they did manage to effectively end their London rivals’ Premier League title hopes. Arsenal are now 13 points adrift of the league leaders with just 18 points left to play for.
Aston Villa 1 – 2 Bournemouth
Aston Villa continued their trip towards the Championship with yet another defeat in the Premier League, with Bournemouth earning a fairly comfortable three points.
Aston Villa started this game in much the same vein as the rest of the season. Lacking leadership, determination, and flair. It took until first half injury time before Steven Cook could finish from close range to put Bournemouth in front, but after that goal it was all but over. Joshua King put the visitors two goals to the good after Ciaran Clark made a bad mistake. Jordan Ayew did manage to end Aston Vila’s goalscoring drought late on, but it was little consolation as the home fans finally came to terms with life in the second flight.
Norwich’s loss to Crystal Palace has kept Aston Villa in with a mathematic chance of staying up, but with 15 points remaining between them and safety another poor result would seal their fate. Bournemouth’s tally increases to an impressive 41 points now, and the pre-season relegation favourites are now challenging for a top half finish in the Premier League.
Crystal Palace 1 – 0 Norwich
Crystal Palace effectively ended their Premier League relegation worries with their first league win of 2016 against fellow drop candidates Norwich.
Norwich came into this game as slight favourites after an impressive couple of results recently, while Crystal Palace had lost six straight home games and were without a win in the Premier League since December. However, the visitors failed to threaten the Palace goal with any regularity, and it was the hosts who looked the more menacing of the two teams. They finally struck the killer blow when a visibly emotive Jason Puncheon cut inside and finished from 20 yards for his first goal of the season.
This crucial result lifts Crystal Palace to six points ahead of Norwich and ten points clear of the drop zone. Norwich remain four points clear of Sunderland in 18th, and their meeting next weekend is looking even more important after this defeat.
Southampton 3 – 1 Newcastle
A comfortable win for Southampton plunged the struggling Newcastle into even more Premier League relegation trouble on Saturday.
It didn’t take long for Southampton to open up the calamitous Newcastle defence, with Shane Long running through the floundering defenders and slotting in the opener just four minutes after the first whistle. The hosts put themselves two in front when Graziano Pelle scored just before half-time, and ten minutes after the break the Saints were out of sight after a drilled Victor Wanyama goal. Andros Townsend provided a glimmer of Newcastle quality with a consolation goal ten minutes later, but it was a well deserved and comfortable win for Southampton in the end.
Southampton have closed the gap on West Ham to just two points now, and a European qualification position certainly doesn’t look beyond them. The bigger story is Newcastle though, who remain six points adrift of safety and struggling to find points anywhere.
Swansea 1 – 0 Chelsea
An impressive Swansea ended Guus Hiddink’s unbeaten run in the Premier League with an efficient and effective 1-0 win on Saturday.
This wasn’t a smash and grab. Swansea were well up for this game and capitalised on Chelsea’s lacklustre performance with a dominant first half display, which was rounded off with a 25th minute Gylfi Sigurdsson volley. The second half was a largely defensive display from Swansea, but they limited Chelsea very effectively and in the end deserved all three points from the game.
This victory has seen Swansea hit the all important 40 point mark in the Premier League, and their 13 point cushion over the drop zone puts them well in control. They are only four points adrift of Chelsea in 10th as well, who missed out on the chance to leapfrog Stoke.
Watford 1 – 1 Everton
Watford ended their losing streak on Saturday with a 1-1 draw against the out of form Everton as both teams look forward to their FA Cup runs continuing.
Both Watford and Everton have been struggling in the league of late, and it was no surprise given the quality on show in this match. Both goals came in first half injury time and were a result of defensive errors, with Everton opening the scoring through James McCarthy after a mistake by Miguel Britos and Jose Holebas levelling the scores seconds later. Both teams could have won the game late on, but overall a point apiece was a fair result after an uninspiring game of football.
Both teams remain in relatively disappointing positions considering their impressive displays in parts of this season. Everton are in 14th position with just 39 points, with Watford sitting one position and one point behind them.
Manchester City 2 – 1 West Brom
Manchester City fought back from a goal down to strengthen their top four position in the Premier League and put them in good stead for their upcoming Champions League match.
Manchester City looked to be heading towards another disappointing league display when Stephane Sessegnon opened the scoring after just six minutes. The hero turned villain in under 15 minutes though as he gave away a penalty, one which Sergio Aguero duly converted. Samir Nasri returned in this match from a lengthy spell on the sidelines, and it was him who grabbed the winner in the 66th minute to round off a very promising return to action.
This victory lifts Manchester City four points clear of their cross-city rivals Manchester United, and their top four spot is now looking a bit more comfortable. West Brom remain in an uninspiring, but safe, 13th position in the table.
Sunderland 0 – 2 Leicester
Jame Vardy returned to the scoresheet as Leicester moved ever closer to a famous Premier League triumph with a comfortable win over Sunderland.
Leicester set out in the same way again, focusing largely on keeping a tight ship at the back and looking to nick a goal against the defensively awful Sunderland. Their defence worked very well, but it took until the 66th minute for Leicester to grab a goal. It was that man Jamie Vardy who got it with a cool finish, and he put the result beyond doubt in injury time after outpacing the Sunderland defence and grabbing a second. It was another clinical and efficient performance from Leicester, and Sunderland had no real bite in the match.
Sunderland remain four points from safety after Norwich lost on Saturday, and their meeting with the 17th placed side is looking absolutely crucial now. Leicester remain seven points clear of Spurs in 2nd, and they now just need to win three of their remaining five matches to lift the trophy.
Liverpool 4 – 1 Stoke
Liverpool made a statement of intent to their soon-to-be opponents Borussia Dortmund with a confident and impressive win over Stoke.
Alberto Moreno notched the opener for Liverpool with a long range strike within the first ten minutes, but a Bojan header to equalise halfway through the first half made it look like this would be a tough match for the hosts. But Daniel Sturridge put Liverpool back in front ten minutes later and a second half brace from substitute Divock Origi gave Liverpool a more comfortable than expected win over the visiting Stoke.
This was a very impressive performance from a Liverpool side that included many first team changes as Jurgen Klopp prioritises the looming hosting of Borussia Dortmund. It moves them above Stoke into 8th position, but the nine point gap between them and the top four looks too big a mountain to climb at this stage.
Tottenham Hotspur 3 – 0 Manchester United
Tottenham Hotspur kept their Premier League title hopes alive with a comfortable and deserved win over the goalshy Manchester United.
Spurs came into this match knowing they needed a win after witnessing Leicester’s win earlier in the day, and they didn’t shy away from the challenge. Two of this season’s stand out performers scored as Dele Alli, Toby Alderweireld, and Erik Lamela all scored within six minutes of each other to give the hosts a commanding second half lead. Up until then the game had looked very cagey, and by the end of the 90 minutes Manchester United had still only managed a single shot on target.
Despite their impressive form this season, Spurs remain seven points adrift of top of the table Leicester, although their win has lifted them six points clear of Arsenal in 3rd. Manchester United slip four points behind 4th placed Manchester City though.
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