Friday, 22 January 2016

Top Two Remain Level While Reds Slip Against United

After a full midweek programme, the Premier League continued with gameweek 22, a weekend which saw six sides score three or more goals while seven sides secured a shut-out.

The weekend began with the early kick-off between Tottenham Hotspur and Sunderland at White Hart Lane with Spurs looking to close on the top three and deny a move out of the bottom three for the visitors. A fairly quiet first half saw a frantic end as the visitors took the lead through the in-form Patrick Van Aanholt on 40 minutes only for the advantage to be quickly cancelled out by Christian Eriksen's leveller three minutes before the interval.

The hosts turned the game around in a nine minute period as Moussa Dembélé made it 2-1 on 59 minutes before Eriksen's second in the 67th minute made it 3-1. The points were wrapped up in the 79th minute as Harry Kane slotted in a fourth via the penalty spot.

In the first of five 3pm games, Bournemouth took on Norwich City at the Vitality Stadium with both keen to move clear of the bottom three with a win. A quick start from the Cherries saw them take the lead inside 10 minutes through Dan Gosling before new signing Benik Afobe doubled their advantage in the 54th minute. The Canaries' afternoon got worse rather than better as they conceded a penalty on 79 minutes which Charlie Daniels converted to confirm a 3-0 win.

Chelsea and Everton faced off at Stamford Bridge with the hosts looking for just their second win in five games while the Toffees hoped to end a poorer run of two wins in eight games. The sides played out a goalless first half before the Toffees were gifted the lead as John Terry deflected into his own net within five minutes of the restart before Kevin Mirallas doubled the lead just six minutes later.

The hosts drew level with two goals in as many minutes as Diego Costa cut the gap on 64 minutes before a leveller on 66 from Cesc Fabregas for 2-2. Everton looked to have sealed a 3-2 win with a strike from Ramiro Funes Mori in the 90th minute but their joy was soured by a last-gasp strike from John Terry which should have been chalked off for offside but sealed a 3-3 draw.

Manchester City hosted Crystal Palace at the Etihad Stadium with eyes cutting the gap to the top two while the Eagles looked to end a run of four games without a win. The hosts opened the scoring in the 22nd minute via a superb effort from Fabian Delph before Sergio Aguero doubled the lead four minutes before the interval. The Argentine striker added his second and City's third on 68 minutes before a clever combination between himself and David Silva saw the Spaniard confirm a 4-0 win in the 84th minute.

Newcastle United looked to cut the gap to safety as they hosted West Ham United at St James Park with a first win in five while the Hammers had the chance to claim a fourth win in a row. A stunning start for the Magpies saw them race into a 2-0 lead inside 15 minutes as Ayoze Perez (10) and the in-form Georginio Wijnaldum (15) put the hosts in control.

The Hammers cut the deficit just after half-time as Nikica Jelavic made it 2-1 on 49 minutes but the hosts held on to secure a narrow win that moved them to just one point away from 17th spot.

In a battle between two mid-table sides, Southampton hosted West Bromwich Albion at St Mary's Stadium with the Saints hoping to claim back-to-back wins and the Baggies looking for a their win in four games. A rapid opening for the hosts saw James Ward-Prowse sweep in a clever free-kick in the fifth minute before adding a second goal from the penalty spot on 35 minutes to put the hosts in control. The Baggies looked to respond but were cast aside in the contest with 28 minutes remaining as Dusan Tadic repeated his super-sub strike from midweek to make it 3-0 in the 72nd minute.

The evening game saw two sides at either ends of the table face off as bottom side Aston Villa hosted joint top side Leicester City at Villa Park with the hosts looking to build on their second win of the season from midweek while the Foxes knew a win would send them clear at the top. 

Shinji Okazki put the Foxes in front with a 28th minute opener but his effort was cancelled out deep into the second half as substitute Rudy Gestede fired in an equaliser in the 78th minute for 1-1 which was how the game ended with Villa happier in avoiding defeat but still sitting six points adrift at the foot of the table.

Super Sunday began at Anfield as fierce rivals Liverpool and Manchester United faced off with the Reds looking for their first league win of the year while United were desperate to secure a first away win since November. The sides played out a fairly tepid first half which saw them remain level at 0-0 and the equality on the scoreboard continued deep into the second half before Wayne Rooney took advantage of a slow Reds defence from a corner to secure a 1-0 win in the 78th minute.

The second game on Sunday saw Arsenal travel to face Stoke City at the Britannia Stadium with the Gunners looking to capitalise on Leicester's failure to win with a win that would sent them clear at the top while the Potters hoped for consecutive victories. A tight game overall between the sides saw them share the points in a 0-0 draw which meant that the Gunners regained top spot by way of goal difference with Stoke closing the gap to the top four to six points.

The final action of the week came on Monday night as struggling Swansea City hosted Watford at the Liberty Stadium with the Swans keen to impress incoming manager Francesco Guidolin who watched on from the stands while the Hornets hoped to avoid a fourth consecutive defeat. The game proved to be a close one with just a single goal settling the contest as Ashley Williams secured a much needed 1-0 win for the hosts with a 27th minute strike.