Monday, 8 February 2016

Foxes Five Clear While Reds Held By Black Cats

The Premier League season seems to be flying by with the first two thirds of the season now complete after gameweek 25 this weekend. A low scoring programme saw just six sides score two or more while just six teams claimed a shut-out.

Saturday's early kick-off saw a battle at the top as title hopefuls Manchester City hosted current league leaders Leicester City at the Etihad Stadium with the Foxes having the chance to open up a five with a win. Their pursuit of success started with rapid pace as Robert Huth fired them in front inside three minutes and they were in control just three minutes into the second half as the in-form Riyad Mahrez doubled the lead in style. City's day got even worse on the hour mark as Huth headed the Foxes into a stunning 3-0 lead.A perfect afternoon for the table toppers was only dented by an 87th minute strike from Sergio Aguero for 3-1.

In the first of six 3pm games, Aston Villa hosted fellow strugglers Norwich City at Villa Park looking to secure only their third win of the season while the Canaries hoped to end a run of four defeats. The sides looked to be heading into the half-time break on level terms after a tight first 45 minutes but Villa struck in the final seconds as Joleon Lescott put them 1-0 ahead. The Villa faithful had cause to celebrate again just six minutes after the restart as Gabriel Agbonlahor ended a long scoring drought to make it 2-0. Norwich battled to try and cut the deficit but were left to rue on missed chances and slip to a firth loss in a row while Villa cut the gap to safety.

Liverpool hosted struggling Sunderland at Anfield looking to bounce back from their midweek defeat while the Black Cats hoped to close the gap to safety. The build-up to the game included talk of a protest from the home fans in the 77th minute in reference to the reveal of next year's price rises to £77 in the main stand.

The sides remained level into the half-time interval before two goals in 11 minutes either side of the hour put the Reds in control at 2-0 as Roberto Firmino fired in on 59 minutes before a 70th minute effort from Adam Lallana. The proposed protest saw thousands of home fans walk out on 77 minutes and they missed a capitulation from their side as Adam Johnson made it 2-1 on 82 minutes before Jermain Defoe salvaged a 2-2 draw with a minute left of the 90.

Newcastle United hosted West Bromwich Albion at St James Park knowing a win would move them out of the bottom three while the Baggies had the chance to close on the top ten with a victory. The Magpies opened the scoring in the 32nd minute as Aleksandar Mitrovic made it 1-0 and the single goal proved to be enough to secure all three points and move them out of the drop zone.

Stoke City hosted Everton at the Britannia Stadium looking to close on the top half with a first win in four games while the Toffees hoped secure back-to-back wins. The Potters suffered an early blow as they conceded a penalty in the 11th minute which Romelu Lukaku slotted in to open the scoring and the visitors were two goals to the good in the 28th minute as Seamus Coleman out them in control at 2-0. The points were wrapped up just before half-time as Aaron Lennon made it three goals in as many games in the 42nd minute for 3-0.

Swansea City welcomed Crystal Palace to the Liberty Stadium hoping to extend their gap above the bottom three with a win while the Eagles had their eyes on a place in the top half.  Gylfi Sigurdsson put the Swans ahead after just 13 minutes but the visitors drew level just two minutes after half-time as Scott Dann made it two goals in the space of a week as he salvaged a point in a 1-1 draw.

High flying Tottenham Hotspur hosted Watford at White Hart Lane looking to move into second spot while the Hornets looked to remain unbeaten for a third game in a row. The sides played out a tight first half which ended goalless and the score remained 0-0 until just after the hour mark when Kieran Trippier sealed all three points with a 64th minute winner to claim a 1-0 success.

The evening kick-off saw Southampton host West Ham United at St Mary's Stadium with both sides hoping to close up on the top five with a win. The Saints started superbly by taking the lead inside nine minutes with a rare strike from Maya Yoshida before suffering blow nine minutes into the second half with the dismissal of Victor Wanyama. The Hammers battled to draw level but despite having an extra man for over half an hour they were unable to avoid a 1-0 defeat.

Super Sunday began with Bournemouth's hosting of Arsenal at the Vitality Stadium with the Cherries looking to claim back-to-back wins while the Gunners had the chance to move level with Spurs in second. The Cherries were hit by two goals in as many minutes after the 20 minute mark as Mesut Ozil opened the scoring in the 23rd minute before Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain made it 2-0 within a minute. The Cherries battled to cut the deficit and came close in the second half but were unable to avoid a defeat that left them just five points clear of the drop zone.

The final game of the weekend saw Chelsea host Manchester United at Stamford Bridge with the sides sitting 13th and fifth, a long way from the traditional title challenge that comes with this game. The sides remained level into the half-time interval before United struck an opener just after the hour mark as Jesse Lingard made it 1-0 on 61 minutes. Chelsea left it late to salvage a draw with Diego Costa levelling in the first minute of added time to claim a 1-1 draw.