Premier League Review – Gameweek 36

Everton 2 – 1 Bournemouth

Everton managed to break out of their poor run of form and give Roberto Martinez some respite with a 2-1 win over a spirited Bournemouth side.

It didn’t take long for Everton spirits to be lifted on Saturday, with Tom Cleverley driving in the opener just seven minutes into the game to give Everton the lead. However, it didn’t last long. It took just two minutes for Marc Pugh to dig through the cracks in the Everton defence and claim the equaliser. By the time half-time rolled around the Goodison Park faithful were on Martinez’ back, with an anti-manager banner being flown over the stadium adding to the mix. Leighton Baines came to the rescue 20 minutes after the break though, and his strike settled the game despite a few scares from a spirited Bournemouth side.

Everton remain in a disappointing 11th position in the Premier League, and the highest they can now climb before the season ends is 9th. Bournemouth are down in 15th, but they could climb as high as 11th.

Newcastle 1 – 0 Crystal Palace

Newcastle moved out of the Premier League relegation zone for the first time since February with a crucial win over Crystal Palace.

The first half was tight and cagey from Newcastle, with nerves and a lack of quality producing an error strewn performance. They managed to hold the visitors at bay though, and the second half saw a dramatic improvement in their play. January signing Andros Townsend sent St James Park into raptures with a stunning free kick, but it was all cast into doubt when the whistle was blown for a handball by Moussa Sissoko. The referee pointed to the spot, but third choice goalkeeper Karl Darlow pulled off the most important save of his career from a poor Yohann Cabaye penalty.

This lifts Newcastle out of the relegation zone, with them possessing one more point than Sunderland and two more than Norwich. Both teams below them have a game in hand though. Crystal Palace still haven’t reached the all important 40 point mark, and while it is very unlikely they will get relegated as this point it is still a possibility.

Stoke 1 – 1 Sunderland

A late, late penalty from Jermain Defoe rescued a point for Sunderland at Stoke, but it wasn’t enough to stop them dropping back into the relegation zone.

It was a match largely devoid of quality in the first half, but the deadlock was finally broken as Marko Arnautovic struck in the 50th minute to give Stoke the lead. Peter Crouch’s seemingly blatant holding during the build up to goal added a touch of controversy, but Sunderland continued to press. Defoe attempted to score seven times in the first 90 minutes, hitting the target twice and failing to trouble the keeper on any occasion, but once again he stepped up when it mattered. Defoe won a penalty in the 94th minute before dusting himself off and converting the spot kick for his 10th goal in his last 11 away games.

Stoke remain in 10th position following the draw, but the real story lies below them. Sunderland earned a decent point on Saturday, but Newcastle’s win means they drop back into the relegation zone. They are only a point adrift of safety and have a game in hand, but they are struggling to win at the moment. They have only lost one of their last eight matches, but six of these have ended all square.

Watford 3 – 2 Aston Villa

Two late goals from Watford resigned the already relegated Aston Villa to their 11th straight defeat as they continue their misguided quest to break the longest losing streak in their history.

Ciaran Clark gave Aston Villa a very rare lead as he headed home Ashley Westwood’s corner halfway through the first half, but a beauty of a free kick in first half stoppage time ensured that Watford went into the break level. Aston Villa continued to play fairly well in the second half, and deservedly led again through Jordan Ayew. The visitors looked to be heading for only their 4th victory of the season, but once again they let themselves down as Troy Deeney notched two injury time goals to resign Villa to defeat for the 11th straight match.

Watford remain in a respectable 11th position in the Premier League, and they will be happy to have gotten a win under their belts. Aston Villa are still stuck on a dismal 16 point total.

West Brom 0 – 3 West Ham

West Ham took advantage of their control over West Brom to earn a comfortable victory and move back into 5th position, albeit briefly.

The opening 15 minutes saw West Brom carve out a few opportunities, and it looked like it could be a close game overall. This soon went down the pan for the hosts though as West Ham took the game by the scruff of it’s neck. Cheikhou Kouyate headed in the opener to stop any frustration seeping in to the Hammers’ play, and Mark Noble added a second with a scuffed shot just before the break. Noble added his second of the game and 4th in two games with a volleyed effort 11 minutes from time.

West Ham are now unbeaten in ten matches and have secured their highest ever points haul. The win lifted them above Manchester United to a brief time before their draw with Leicester. West Brom sit down in an unimaginative 14th position.

Arsenal 1 – 0 Norwich

Arsenal carved out a tight win against a Norwich side who’s Premier League relegation troubles increase with the defeat.

It was a match devoid of quality for much of the game, with the home supporters passing the first hour by calling for under-fire manager Arsene Wenger to leave. A sweet strike from Danny Welbeck did little to allay these voices of discontent, but it turned out to be enough to settle the game after Petr Cech saved twice from Nathan Redmond. The match itself was a dud in terms of entertainment, but the dynamic of the Arsenal supporters at the moment certainly provides an interesting talking point.

Despite the home supporters discontent, Arsenal are in 3rd position in the Premier League and look set for yet another year of Champions League football. Norwich are now second from bottom and two points from safety, although they do have a game in hand on Newcastle in 17th.

Swansea 3 – 1 Liverpool

Swansea ensured their status as Premier League side for another year with a comfortable victory over a largely rotated Liverpool squad on Sunday.

Pre-match tributes for the 96 fans who were recently adjudged to have been unlawfully killed at Hillsborough made for a moving start to the game, but once the first whistle was blown Swansea turned on the style. They produced a classy first half of football and led 2-0 at the break thanks to goals from Andre Ayew and Jack Cork. One of the few senior players in the starting line up gave Liverpool some hope as Christian Benteke headed home for Liverpool, but two minutes later their chances were dashed again as Andre Ayew notched his second. A sending off for Brad Smith rounded off a miserable day at the office for Liverpool.

Swansea ensured survival with this win as they put an 11 point gap between them and the relegation zone, while Liverpool’s faint hopes of the top four were finally extinguished as they drop nine points adrift of the top four.

Manchester United 1 – 1 Leicester

Leicester claimed a title winning point at Manchester United as they fought back from behind with a captain’s goal.

Manchester United started with the verve and pace that we have seen all too little of this season, and just eight minutes into the game Anthony Martial drilled in the opener to cast doubt over Leicester’s title challenge. The Foxes recovered well though, and their captain stepped up to the plate as Wes Morgan headed in the equaliser ten minutes later. Penalty appeals for both teams were turned down, and Danny Drinkwater was dismissed five minutes before the final whistle for bringing down Memphis Depay on the edge of the area. The visitors hung on though to claim a hard earned point at Old Trafford.

Manchester United gain ground on 4th placed Manchester City after their defeat later in the day. They are now four points adrift of them but with a game in hand. Leicester’s attention turned towards Monday night, with Spurs needing a win over Chelsea to keep the title race going.

Southampton 4 – 2 Manchester City

Manchester City’s top four hopes took a blow as a classy Southampton performance saw them fall to another away defeat on Sunday.

Eight changes were made from the midweek side who face Real Madrid for Manchester City, but that cannot excuse the space Southampton were given as Shane Long and Sadio Mane put the hosts 2-0 up within half an hour. Teenage striker Kelechi Iheanacho pulled one back just before the break, but the domination of Southampton continued in the second half. Mane notched two more to complete his hat trick and put the Saints 4-1 up with 20 minutes left to play, and Iheanacho’s second of the game wasn’t enough for the visitors to mount any threat of a comeback.

Manchester United narrow the gap between them and 4th placed City to four points due to this defeat, and the 5th placed side still have a game in hand. Manchester City face a crucial week now, with a Champions League semi-final 2nd leg preceding a league match against Arsenal. Southampton keep their hopes of Europa League football alive. They are just three points behind Manchester United, although both them and West Ham have a game extra to play.

Chelsea 2 – 2 Tottenham Hotspur

Chelsea came from two goals behind to end Tottenham Hotspur’s Premier League title challenge and put their stamp on the most historic day in Premier League history.

It looked like the title race would continue for another week as Harry Kane and Son Heung-Min coolly finished to give Spurs a 2-0 lead at half-time in what was a fiery London derby. Gary Cahill scored for Chelsea with half an hour remaining, and a lashed finish from Eden Hazard was enough to put his mark on a title race that he hasn’t been involved in at all until now. Indeed, prior champions Chelsea and Hazard have had a dreadful season, but they will be pleased that they have at least managed to stop their city rivals lifting the trophy with this draw. Apart from the title race there were incidents abound as 29 fouls were committed and 12 yellow cards shown, nine of them going to Spurs (highest total in Premier League history.)

Despite the all-London teams, the real story was occurring in Leicester. Spurs’ failure to win secured Leicester’s first ever top flight triumph and the most incredible title win of the Premier League’s history. Spurs now need to focus on securing 2nd place ahead of North London rivals Arsenal, whilst Chelsea’s highest possible finishing position in 7th.

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