Monday, 21 March 2016

Foxes Remain On Course As Saints Stun Reds

As the crucial run-in grows nearer, gameweek 31 in the Premier League saw an exciting weekend with some interesting results at both ends of the table. Seven sides hit the net two or more times while just six managed to claim a shut-out.

Saturday's early game saw Everton host title challenging Arsenal at Goodison Park with the Gunners knowing anything but a win would derail their title hopes. Their pursuit of success gained an early boost as Danny Welbeck fired them into the lead after just seven minutes. A debut strike from Alex Iwobi saw him double the lead on 42 minutes and it proved to be enough to wrap up a 2-0 win.

In the first of four 3pm games, Chelsea and West Ham United faced off in a London derby at Stamford Bridge with a spot in the top four awaiting the Hammers with a win. They got off the mark after 17 minutes as Manuel Lanzini struck a stunning opener. Cesc Fabregas levelled just before half-time before Andy Carroll restored the Hammers' lead with his first touch off the bench in the 61st minute. The Blues salvaged a draw in the 89th minute as Fabregas slotted in from the penalty spot for 2-2.

Table topping Leicester City travelled to face Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park with the chance to move eight points clear at the top should they win. The game proved to be a tight one with just a single goal settling the contest as Riyad Mahrez continued his stunning season for the Foxes with a 34th minute strike to secure a 1-0 win.

Watford hosted Stoke City at Vicarage Road looking to close on the top half while the Potters are still in the hunt for the top four. The visitors struck an early opener as Jon Walters fired them ahead on 18 minutes before Josélu doubled the lead in the 51st minute. Troy Deeney pulled one back for the Hornets on 86 minutes to set up a frantic finale but the Potters managed to hold on for a 2-1 win.

West Bromwich Albion hosted relegation battlers Norwich City at The Hawthorns with the Canaries knowing that a rare win would move them out of the bottom three. The sides remained locked after a goalless first half before a strike from Robbie Brady just five minutes after the restart put the visitors in control. The Baggies battled to try and draw level but fell short as the Canaries moved three points clear of the drop zone.

Saturday's evening game saw Swansea City hosting bottom side Aston Villa with the Swans looking to edge towards safety with a win which in turn would leave the Villans closer to the drop. A close first half saw the visitors dominate but not in terms of the score and they were made to rue missed opportunities as Federico Fernandez fired the hosts ahead within five minutes of the restart. The 50th minute effort proved to be enough to secure a 1-0 win that left the visitors adrift at the bottom.

Super Sunday Derby Day began with the fierce North East face-off  between Newcastle United and Sunderland with both desperate for a win which would see either move out of the bottom three. Sunderland struck first with a goal just seconds before the half-time break courtesy of Jermaine Defoe and they looked to be on the way to a seventh win in a row against the Magpies as the game entered the final ten minutes. However, Newcastle drew level in style with just seven minutes remaining as Aleksandar Mitrovic headed in to salvage a potentially vital 1-1 draw.

The first of the non-televised games saw Southampton host fellow top four hopefuls Liverpool at St Mary's Stadium with both looking to close the gap to the Champions League places. Liverpool raced into a 2-0 lead inside 22 minutes as Philippe Coutinho and Daniel Sturridge struck in a five minute period. The Saints hit back on 64 minutes through Sadio Mané before mounting a superb comeback with two goals in three minutes to secure a 3-2 win as Graziano Pellé struck on 83 minutes before Mané struck his second to wrap up a famous win. 

The second part of the Super Sunday special saw Manchester City host fierce City rivals Manchester United with City needing a win to stay in the title hunt while for United, a win would put them within touching distance of their hosts. The game proved to be a close one overall win just a single goal settling the contest as Marcus Rashford sealed a 1-0 win for United with a strike in the 16th minute.

The final game of the weekend saw title challengers Tottenham Hotspur host Bournemouth with Spurs looking to cut the gap at the top to five points. A perfect start for the hosts saw Harry Kane strike inside the first minute before doubling the lead in the 16th minute. The points were wrapped up by the 52nd minute as Christian Eriksen struck for 3-0.