Monday, 27 April 2015

Reds Draw Blank At Baggies

After a shorter programme last weekend due to FA Cup action, the Premier League returned to a full quota of games with the title and relegation issues still far from settled.

Saturday's opener saw Europa League hopefuls Southampton and Tottenham share the spoils in a 2-2 draw that saw the Saints twice blow a lead in each half. Graziano Pellé opened the scoring on 29 minutes only to have Eric Lamela equalise two minutes before the interval, Pellé restored the lead on 65 minutes but Spurs drew level again with Nacer Chadli's effort just five minutes later to secure a point.

Leicester's stunning form continued as they moved out of the bottom three with a 1-0 win away to fellow relegation battlers Burnley with the crucial strike coming on the hour mark from Jamie Vardy who puts the Foxes closer to safety.

Hull also boosted their survival hopes with a 2-0 win away to Crystal Palace whose recent good form ended after a brace from Dame N'Doye who struck on 51 and 90 minutes to secure all three points to leave them just outside the bottom three.

Newcastle's mixed season continued with a 3-2 defeat at home to Swansea which means the Magpies are still not safe from relegation. Swansea are on course for their best ever season in the top flight after coming from behind after Ayoze Perez's 20th minute opener, Nelson Oliveira equalised just before the interval before Gylfi Sigurdsson put the Swans in front on 49 minutes. Jack Cork increased the lead to 3-1 on 71 minutes before Siem De Jong set up a tense finish with an 87th minute strike but the Swans held on for the win.

QPR remain in the bottom three and four points adrift of safety after a 0-0 draw against West Ham who despite the result still remain in the fight for a top ten finish.

The Hammers sit just behind Stoke who remain in ninth after coming from behind to secure a 1-1 draw against relegation battlers Sunderland who dropped into the bottom three as a result.

Connor Wickham put the visitors in front inside the first minute before Charlie Adam secured a point for the Potters with a 27th minute leveller. 

Liverpool's top four hopes look slim after they could only manage a point away to West Brom who kept the Reds out in a 0-0 draw which saw Steven Gerrard make his 500th league appearance.

Manchester City left it late to hold off a battling Aston Villa as the hosts secured a 3-2 win that keeps the in the fight for second spot behind Chelsea. Sergio Aguero put the hosts in front inside three minutes before Aleksandr Kolarov added a second on 66 minutes. Tom Cleverley pulled one back two minutes later before Carlos Sanchez made it 2-2 with five minutes left of the 90. However, Villa's hopes of a point ended on 89 minutes when Fernandinho struck for 3-2.

Super Sunday began with Manchester United's 3-0 defeat away to Everton which all but ends their slim title hopes. James McCarthy put the Blues ahead inside five minutes before John Stones struck his first Everton goal on 35 minutes to put them in control. Kevin Mirallas made it 3-0 on 74 minutes to ensure a third successive home win against United.

The second game of the afternoon saw the huge London derby clash between Arsenal and Chelsea with the Blues looking to close in on the title with a win meaning they would be only a victory away from claiming the title.

However, Arsenal had other ideas as they held Chelsea to a 0-0 draw that unlike most stalemates benefited both as Arsenal all but confirmed a top four finish. 

Tuesday, 21 April 2015

Chelsea Extend Gap As Reds Suffer Wembley Defeat

A dual post this week features eight games as the Premier League sees six games due to the two FA Cup semi-finals featuring three top flight clubs.

The league programme began with four 3pm kick-offs on Saturday with the first featuring West Brom's 2-0 away win at Crystal Palace which saw former Eagles manager Tony Pulis get one over his former club. James Morrison gave the Baggies a perfect start with the opening goal inside two minutes before Craig Gardner sealed the win in the 53rd minute.

Everton piled the pressure on relegation threatened Burnley with a 1-0 win at home to the Clarets who fell behind in the 29th minute to a strike from Kevin Mirallas before suffering a blow on half-time with the dismissal of Ashley Barnes as they suffered a loss that keeps them in the bottom three.

Leicester continued their recent revival with a third in in succession as they boosted their survival hopes with a 2-0 win at home to Swansea which saw Leonardo Ulloa end his barren run in front of goal with the opener on 15 minutes before Andy King made it two in two games with an 89th minute strike to confirm the win.

Southampton's hopes of a top four finish were dealt a blow as they suffered a 2-1 defeat away to Stoke who look set to record back-to-back finishes in the top half but the Potters had to come from behind after Morgan Schneiderlin's 22nd minute opener. Mame Diouf levelled or the hosts before Charlie Adam sealed the win six minutes from the end.

The evening kick-off saw a huge clash between table toppers Chelsea and potential title challengers Manchester United but the latter's title hopes suffered a blow as they fell to a 1-0 defeat away to the Blues who moved clear at the top. 

Eden Hazard struck the winning goal in the 38th minute to move the Blues ten points clear of the chasing pack.

Super Sunday began with top four challengers Manchester City hosting West Ham with the Sky Blues securing a 2-0 win to open up a gap on the chasing pack. James Collins' unfortunate own goal opened the scoring in the 18th minute before Sergio Aguero wrapped up the points in the 36th minute.

Newcastle's mixed run of form continued as they suffered a 3-1 defeat to top four hopefuls Tottenham whose European aspirations have been boosted as a result, Nacer Chadli put the visitors ahead on the half hour mark only to see his effort cancelled out by Jack Colback's 46th minute leveller.  Christian Eriksen restored the visitors' lead on 53 minutes before Harry Kane sealed the win in the 90th minute.

Away from the league programme, the FA Cup semi finals took place at Wembley across the weekend with the first game seeing Championship side Reading take on holders Arsenal with the Gunners coming out on top but only after extra time. Alexis Sanchez put Arsenal ahead on 39 minutes before Garath McCleary levelled for the Royals on 54 minutes, the sides remained level which led to extra time. However, a howler from Reading 'keeper Adam Federici saw him spill Sanchez's shot into the net on 106 minutes which sealed a place in the final for the Gunners.

Sunday's semi-final saw an all top-flight meeting as Aston Villa took on Liverpool with the Reds hopeful of reaching the final and giving Steven Gerrard the perfect send-off to his Liverpool career. Liverpool's hopes of such a tribute were boosted on the half hour mark by a superb opening goal from the in-form Philippe Coutinho but the lead lasted just six minutes as fellow in-form Christian Benteke levelled. Aston Villa seemed the better of the two sides and secured a dream passage to the final with a 54th minute winner from Fabian Delph.

Wednesday, 15 April 2015

Reds Boost European Hopes

Ahead of a crucial trip to Wembley for the FA Cup semi final against Aston Villa, Liverpool faced Newcastle on Monday night in the final game of the Premier League gameweek which saw a number of surprise results.

Saturday's early game saw Swansea host Everton with Toffees manager Roberto Martinez facing his former side but alike opposition manager Garry Monk, had to settle for a point in a 1-1 draw. Aaron Lennon put the Blues in front on 41 minutes but his effort was cancelled out by Jonjo Shelvey's penalty on 69 minutes which sealed a point for the Swans.

Southampton kept up their hopes of Europa League qualification with a 2-0 win over Hull who as a result sit on the fringes of the bottom three. James Ward-Prowse put the Saints in front with a 56th minute penalty before Graziano Pellé ended his barren run in front of goal with and 81st minute strike to confirm the three points.

Crystal Palace's hopes of a top ten finish gathered pace superbly as they swept aside a struggling Sunderland side 4-1, a rout which came s a surprise after the sides ended the first half level at 0-0.

 Palace burst into action with all four goals coming in the space of 14 minutes starting with Glenn Murray's opener on 48 minutes before Bolasie fired in an 11 minute hat-trick with goals on 51,53 and 62 minutes to put Palace in control.

Sunderland's only positive of the game came in the form of a late consolation strike from Connor Wickham in an otherwise poor performance.

Aston Villa prepared for the upcoming trip to Wembley with a 1-0 win away to Tottenham whose top four hopes were dealt a huge dent as a result.  Christian Benteke has been in stunning form under the stewardship of Tim Sherwood and the Belgian continued such form with the only goal of the game on 35 minutes and despite having Carlos Sanchez sent off late on, Villa held on for the victory.

Leicester's hopes of survival were given a huge boost as the Foxes secured a last-gasp 3-2 win away to West Brom who missed the chance to surely secure safety from the drop. Darren Fletcher opened the scoring fr the Baggies with his first goal since joining the club on eight minutes before David Nugent drew the visitors level on 20 minutes.

Craig Gardner restored the hosts lead six minutes later and with time ticking down in the second half, the strike looked to be the winner but Leicester had other ideas with Robert Huth levelling on 80 minutes before Jamie Vardy sealed the win in the final minute.

West Ham and Stoke remain level on points in ninth and tenth after the sides drew 1-1 in a game that the Hammers looked to have won after Aaron Creswell's opener on seven minutes seemed to be the only goal of the game. However, Stoke had other ideas and salvaged a point late on with Marko Arnautovic denied the Hammers in the 90th minute.

The evening kick-off saw Burnley's survival hopes dealt a blow as they slipped to a 1-0 defeat against top four challengers Arsenal with the crucial strike coming after only 12 minutes through Aaron Ramsey.

Super Sunday began with a London derby between struggling QPR and table toppers Chelsea with the visitors leaving it late to deny the hosts a vital point with Cesc Fabregas scoring on 88 minutes to extend the Blues lead at the top of the table.

The second part of Super Sunday saw the fierce Manchester Derby between United and City which saw a six goal thriller between the top four challengers with United securing a 4-2 win to boost their hopes of a top two finish leaving their rivals just inside the top four. Sergio Aguero opened the scoring on eight minutes before his effort was cancelled out by Ashley Young on 14 minutes.

Marouane Fellani put United ahead on 27 minutes before second half strikes from Juan Mata and Chris Smalling on 67 and 73 minutes sealed the win at 4-1, Aguero sealed his brace late on to make it 4-2 but it was a poor day for City overall.

The final game of the weekend saw Liverpool host Newcastle on Monday night with the Reds securing a 2-0 win to keep their top four hopes alive while the Magpies still are not safe from the clutches of the bottom three. Raheem Sterling put the hosts in front inside nine minutes before a rare strike from Joe Allen sealed the points on 70 minutes. Newcastle's bad evening at Anfield got worse as Moussa Sissoko was sent off for a second booking with 83 minutes on the clock as Liverpool sealed all three points. 

Saturday, 11 April 2015

Reds Suffer Heavy Loss To Gunners Ahead Of FA Cup Triumph

A mixed week for Liverpool with a heavy defeat away to Arsenal before a narrow win at Blackburn in the FA Cup sixth round replay in midweek, the scores and the rest of the weekends action can be seen below.