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.

Monday, 23 March 2015

Mata Double Sinks Reds

Ahead of the impending International break, the feature of this weekend's Premier League action was the tightness and excitement of all but one game which saw a three goal difference between the sides.

The aforementioned game was the first of the weekend on Saturday as Manchester City cruised past West Brom with a 3-0 win which began controversially with the mistaken dismissal of Gareth McAuley inside two minutes instead of Craig Dawson (corrected earlier today by the FA). Wilfried Bony put the hosts in front on 27 minutes before Fernando added a second five minutes before half-time with David Silva confirming the victory with a 77th minute strike.

Swansea left it late to secure a narrow 1-0 win away to Aston Villa whose good run under Tim Sherwood ended as a result. The crucial strike came in the 87th minute as Bafetimbi Gomis struck to ensure the Swans remained in the top ten.

 Arsenal kept up their slim title hopes with a 2-1 win away to Newcastle with Olivier Giroud's four minute brace on 24 and 28 minutes putting them in control. Newcastle fought back with a strike from Moussa Sissoko on 48 minutes but were unable to salvage a point.

Southampton boosted their European hopes with a 2-0 win at home to struggling Burnley with Shane Long opening the scoring on 37 minutes before Jason Shackell sealed his side's fate with a 58th minute own goal.

Crystal Palace look to be safe from relegation after opening up an 11 point gap with a 2-1 win away to Stoke with Mame Diouf's 14th minute strike cancelled out by Wilfred Zaha's 41st minute equaliser and Glenn Murray's 45th minute penalty as the Eagles sealed victory.

A seven goal thriller saw Tottenham edge out Leicester 4-3 to boost their top four hopes and dampen the Foxes survival hopes.

Harry Kane's early brace in the sixth and 13th minutes put Spurs in control but strikes from Jamie Vardy and Wes Morgan saw the Foxes level at 2-2. Kane restored the hosts' lead with a 64th minute penalty before Jeff Schlupp's 85th minute own goal made it 4-2 and surely sealed the points but David Nugent's 90th minute effort set up a frantic finish which saw the hosts hold on for the win.

The late-kick off saw West Ham end a run of poor form with a narrow 1-0 win over Sunderland handing Dick Advocaat an opening defeat in charge of the Black Cats with the crucial strike coming late on as Diafra Sakho secured all three points for the Hammers in the 88th minute. 

Super Sunday began with the huge clash between Liverpool and Manchester United in a game that will live long in the memory after a unbelievable horror show from Steven Gerrard rather than United's 2-1 triumph.

Juan Mata put the visitors ahead in the 14th minute before what can only be described as a 'moment of madness' saw Steven Gerrard come on at half-time before being dismissed after 38 seconds for a stamp on Ander Herrera and the ten men soon fell further behind to a spectacular volley from Mata on the hour. Daniel Sturridge gave Liverpool hope with a 69th minute strike which served only as consolation as United complete a double over their fierce rivals.

The second part of Super Sunday saw a Chelsea come out on top in a five goal thriller with Hull City. The Blues raced into a 2-0 lead through Eden Hazard and Diego Costa inside nine minutes before Ahmed Elmohamady and Abel Hernandez struck twice in as many minutes before the half-hour to make it 2-2. Loic Remy sealed the win for the table toppers just minutes after coming off the bench with a 77th minute strike.

Everton bounced back from their Europa League exit in Kiev with a 2-1 win away to struggling QPR with Seamus Coleman opening the scoring on 18 minutes. Eduardo Vargas equalised for the hosts on 65 minutes but the win went to the Toffees as Aaron Lennon struck for the first time since his January transfer from Tottenham to seal the points in the 77th minute.

Wednesday, 18 March 2015

Henderson Extends Reds Run

As of this post, this blog will feature coverage from all Premier League matches rather then the usual report based just on Liverpool in a sweeping change across my blog spectrum. The weekend's action saw surprise results fro the top two which allowed the chasing pack to close the gap.

Saturday's lunchtime kick-off saw a London derby between Crystal Palace and QPR with the Eagles sealing a 3-1 victory which began with Wilfred Zaha'a 21st minute opener before James McArthur added a second on 30 minutes. Palace looked to have sealed the win before half-time when Joel Ward made it 3-0 in the 42nd minute which is how the score stayed until a stunning consolation strike from Matt Phillips in the 83rd minute.

The day's second London Derby saw Arsenal host West Ham United with the hosts sealing a 3-0 win which keeps them in the hunt for a top four spot and began with Olivier Giroud's opener just before half-time. The Gunners confirmed the victory with a late double as Aaron Ramsey and Mathieu Flamini struck on 81 and 84 minutes to complete the triumph.

Leicester City hosted Hull City with the Foxes looking to close up on their fellow strugglers at the bottom but despite playing the final 28 minutes with an extra man advantage after Tom Huddlestone's dismissal, they were unable to prevent a 0-0 draw.

Aston Villa continued their great start under Tim Sherwood with a 4-0 thumping of Sunderland, a result which led to the sacking of Gus Poyet who leaves Sunderland on the fringes of the bottom three. Villa made a superb start with two goals in three minutes from Christian Benteke and Gabriel Agbolahor in the 16th and 19th minutes before both strikers completed braces on 37 and 44 minutes to wrap up the win inside the first half.

West Brom extended their gap from the bottom three with a narrow 1-0 win at home to Stoke who remain eighth after the defeat. The Baggies secured the points early on with the crucial goal coming on 19 minutes through Brown Ideye.

Burnley buoyed their survival hopes in style with a shock win over champions Manchester City which saw the visitors title challenge suffer as a result. The Clarets moved to one point away from exiting the bottom three with a narrow 1-0 win which was sealed by a stunning strike from George Boyd on the hour mark.

Super Sunday began with a clash between table toppers Chelsea and in-form Southampton which saw the two sides come away with a point apiece after a 1-1 draw which saw both goals come in the first 20 minutes. Diego Costa put the Blues ahead on 11 minutes but saw his effort cancelled out just eight minutes later by a penalty from Dusan Tadic as the Saints denied the Blues from extending their gap at the top.

After a 2-1 home win over Dynamo Kiev in the Europa League, Everton made it two wins in a row at home this week with a comfortable 3-0 win over Newcastle which saw James McCarthy open the the scoring in the 20th minute before a double blow for the Magpies just before the hour with Romelu Lukaku's penalty soon followed by the dismissal of Fabricio Coloccini three minutes later. Everton confirmed the win late on with Ross Barkley's 90th minute strike.

Manchester United cruised to a 3-0 win at home to fellow top four hopefuls Tottenham who as a result slipped away from the top teams after a superb first half treble from the hosts sealed the points.

Marouane Fellaini opened the scoring on nine minutes before Micheal Carrick added a second in the 19th minute, Wayne Rooney capped off United's good start with the third on 34 minutes which saw a satirical boxing celebration in response to recent events.

The weekend's action came to a close on Monday night as Liverpool extended their unbeaten run in 2015 with a narrow 1-0 win away to Swansea which saw Jordan Henderson strike the crucial goal on 68 minutes which put the Reds firmly in contention for a top four finish.  

Tuesday, 3 March 2015

Coutinho Stunner Halts Champions Charge

After seeing their European adventure ended by Besiktas on Thursday night, Liverpool returned to domestic duties with a huge clash against reigning champions Manchester City who looked to end a run of 12 visits to Anfield without a win. 

The starting XI saw four changes from Thursday with Philippe Coutinho, Jordan Henderson, Adam Lallana and Lazar Markovic all included as the Reds looked to bounce back from playing over two hours in Turkey. 
A fairly quiet start from both sides saw the first chance come from Coutinho combining with Lallana which saw the latter fail to test Joe Hart with an awkward effort but they linked up again minutes later with Lallana rifling an effort past Hart before being denied due to a flag for offside. However, the breakthrough did come in stunning style in the 11th minute as Coutinho picked out Raheem Sterling who in turn fed a great pass to Jordan Henderson who curled a superb effort into the top corner to open the scoring.
A euphoric Anfield came close to turning silent when David Silva clipped a pass over the Reds backline into the path of Sergio Aguero who clipped a shot from a narrow angle and despite beating Simon Mignolet saw the effort cannon off the post. Despite the miss, Aguero soon turned creator as he picked out strike partner Edin Dzeko who first touch saw him hit past Mignolet to equalise in the 25th minute. 

Liverpool's next response came from Coutinho who hit a long-range effort which proved to be comfortable for Hart to claim as the sides went into the interval on level terms. However, the parity could have ended just 20 seconds after the interval as Pablo Zabaleta swung in a dangerous cross which met the head of Aguero whose effort narrowly missed the crossbar.

As the sides remained level after the hour mark, Daniel Sturridge looked set to come on to try and alter the balance but what proved to be the decisive impact came before he could come on as Philippe Coutinho continued his run of superb goals with a stellar strike from the edge of the area which sailed past Joe Hart and into the top corner.

City came close to claiming a point when Aguero hit a low effort just wide of the target but it was not to be City's day as Liverpool held firm to claim a superb victory that boosts their top four hopes and extends their unbeaten run to 11 games making them the sole side in all four divisions yet to lose in 2015.