Wednesday, 27 May 2015

Stoke Hit Reds For Six

After 37 game-weeks, the Premier League reached its final round of games with some nerves and excitement still to settle with the Europa League places and final relegation place set to go down to the wire. All ten games were played at 3pm Sunday so the results will be listed with most important to least as follows.

The fight to avoid relegation to the Championship saw focus drawn to Hull and Newcastle with the Magpies knowing a win over West Ham would make them safe and send the Tigers down while should Hull beat Manchester United and Newcastle fail to win the outcome would be them going down.

A blank first half in both games meant the live table had Hull on 35 points and Newcastle safe on 38 but the Magpies soon moved even closer to survival with a 54th minute strike from Moussa Sissoko which left Hull with a huge task.

 Hull's task received a boost on 77 minutes as Marouane Fellaini was dismissed but their fate sealed on 85 minutes as Jonas Gutierrez confirmed a 2-0 win for Newcastle thereby condemning Hull who went on to draw 0-0 with Man United.

The issues at the bottom being confirmed meant the next focus is on Europa League qualification with Liverpool and Tottenham both vying for fifth place with Southampton hoping for luck with a win and one of the two suffering a defeat.

Liverpool travelled to Stoke,Tottenham travelled to face Everton and deposed champions Manchester City hosted Southampton. The first breakthrough came at the Britannia Stadium as Liverpool fell behind to a 22nd minute opener from Miram Diouf. However, it was the first of three quick blows as Spurs took the lead against Everton two minutes later through Harry Kane to move to fifth before the Reds went two down with Diouf striking again on 26 minutes.

Liverpool went three down on 30 minutes as Walter struck but looked to be avoiding seventh when Frank Lampard put City in front against the Saints. Focus turned away from the Etihad and Goodison Park as Liverpool completed a first half collapse as Charlie Adam and Steven N'Zonzi made it 5-0 at the interval. Tottenham looked safe in fifth but a comeback from Southampton could leave Liverpool seventh and with no European place (fair play pending). Liverpool made it 5-1 with outgoing captain Steven Gerrard scoring his final goal of a 17 year career in the 70th minute.

Southampton's fate was sealed on 88 minutes as Golden Boot winner Sergio Aguero sealed a 2-0 win for City leaving the Saints to finish seventh, Liverpool's fate was sealed seconds earlier though as Stoke completed a 6-1 demolition with a sixth from former Reds striker Peter Crouch who condemned them to their worst PL defeat. Tottenham held on to win 1-0 at Everton and seal fifth place which also meant the Toffees would finish in the bottom half for the first time in nine years.

As the main issues were all settled, the round up continues with the final games for next week's FA Cup finalists. Arsenal took on West Brom and ended their league season in style with a 4-1 win over the Baggies which began with a 17 minute treble with Theo Walcott striking either side of an effort from Jack Wilshere.

Walcott completed a first half hat-trick on 37 minutes for 4-0 before Gareth McAuley pulled one back for the visitors on 57 minutes but it was in vain as they finished 13th overall.

Aston Villa were keen to avoid their worst finish in the post 42 game era but suffered just that as they finished 17th after suffering a narrow 1-0 defeat at home to relegated Burnley with the crucial strike coming inside six minutes from Danny Ings who may exit the Clarets this summer.

Leicester ended their season in style as they blew relegated QPR away with a 5-1 win which means other than the defeat to Chelsea, they end the season with nine wins from their last ten games. Jamie Vardy set the ball rolling with a 16th minute opener with Marc Albrighton making it 2-0 just before the interval.

Leonardo Ulloa and Esteban Cambiasso struck in a two minute period to make it 4-0 before Charlie Austin replied for QPR on 57 minutes to extend a great scoring streak across the season. However, the final say came from Andrej Kramaric who completed the rout on 86 minutes.

Chelsea ensured they would be crowned champions with a celebration as they ended the season with a 3-1 win at home to Sunderland who as a result finished behind fierce rivals Newcastle.  Steven Fletcher put the visitors ahead on 27 minutes before a pre-planned change on the half hour saw outgoing Didier Drogba carried off by his team-mates. His replacement Diego Costa levelled for the Blues with a 37th minute penalty before a brace from Loic Remy on 70 and 88 minutes sealed the win.

Crystal Palace ended a fine season with a 1-0 win over Swansea who finished eighth but just two wins away from the Europa League places. The crucial strike came on the 57th minute from Marouane Chamakh to ensure the Eagles finished in 10th.

Hopefully the mid-season switch from dedicated Liverpool posts to general domestic posts was welcomed as it will continue next season but maybe improved with a few tweaks.

Champions - Chelsea
Champions League Qualifiers - Manchester City, Arsenal, Manchester United.
Europa League Qualifiers - Tottenham, Liverpool, West Ham (Fair Play Award) and either Southampton (if Arsenal win FAC) or Aston Villa (if they defeat Arsenal in FAC)
Relegated - Hull, Queens Park Rangers, Burnley.

Next season, sees a new team in the league in AFC Bournemouth as they join experienced side Watford and the instant return of Norwich City who went down last season.

Wednesday, 13 May 2015

Champions Draw Sees Reds Top Four Hopes Falter

The business end of the Premier League is in full swing with Chelsea confirmed as champions and after this weekend's action, two sides have suffered relegation leaving a place for one of potentially five teams in the bottom half.

The weekend began with the Saturday lunchtime game between Everton and struggling Sunderland and a shock was on the cards as the visitors secured a 2-0 win with two second half strikes. Danny Graham opened the scoring with an effort on 53 minutes before Jermain Defoe wrapped up the points with five minutes remaining.

Aston Villa's fine form under Tim Sherwood continued as they claimed a narrow 1-0 win at home to West Ham. Tom Cleverley struck the vital winning goal on 31 minutes to move Villa away from the fringes of the bottom three.

Burnley went into the game away to fellow strugglers Hull knowing only a win coupled with other sides dropping points would see them stave off the clutches of relegation. The Clarets did their part by securing a 1-0 win courtesy of a 62nd minute strike from Danny Ings but it proved to be in vain as their fellow battlers secured good results meaning Burnley will play in the Championship next season.

Burnley's demise is something that a few months back seemed to be destiny for Leicester but a superb run of form which has seen them move from the bottom to the fringes of safety continued as they stunned Europa League hopefuls Southampton. The Foxes secured a 2-0 win with an early brace from Riyad Mahrez who struck in the seventh and 19th minutes to seal the three points.

Newcastle's slump to eight consecutive defeat came to an end as they came from behind to secure a 1-1 draw at home to West Brom. Victor Anichebe put the Baggies ahead on 32 minutes only to see his effort cancelled out four minutes before the interval by Ayoze Perez who levelled for the Magpies but who despite the result are not safe from the drop.

Sitting in mid-table clear of the drop but too far behind those chasing European spots, Stoke recorded their best points tally in the division with a comfortable 3-0 win over Europa League hopefuls Tottenham. Charlie Adam continued his recent scoring streak with a 21st minute opener which was swiftly followed by a second from Steven N'Zonzi on 32 minutes. Tottenham's miserable afternoon got worse on 51 minutes with the dismissal of Vlad Chirches before Mame Diouf extended their woes with the Potters' this goal four minutes from the end.

Manchester United have all but sealed a top four spot after securing a 2-1 win away to Crystal Palace which saw the visitors take an early lead with Juan Mata's 19th minute penalty. Jason Puncheon levelled for the Eagles on 57 minutes but United secured the points with a 78th minute winner from Marouane Fellaini.

Super Sunday began QPR's trip to Manchester City with the R's knowing anything but a win would see them join Burnley in being relegated to the Championship but not only did they fail to win, they suffered a humiliating 6-0 defeat to the deposed champions. Sergio Aguero dampened the visitors hopes inside four minutes before a second from Aleksandr Kolarov on 32 minutes dented their task further.

Aguero claimed his second goal on 50 minutes before completing his hat-trick with a 65th minute penalty for 4-0 and from there the thought was a case of just how many would City win by and the answer came with further strikes from James Milner and David Silva on 70 and 87 minutes for 6-0.

Sunday's second game saw newly confirmed champions Chelsea host Liverpool with the Reds opening the game with the traditional Guard of Honour for the new champions just under a year after they missed out on the title themselves after a loss to Chelsea.  The Blues made a perfect start with a fourth minute opener from John Terry whose strike made him the league's all-time top scoring defender.

Liverpool fought back with a 44th minute equaliser coming from LA bound captain Steven Gerrard who scored only his second ever goal against the Blues before being given a standing ovation by his own fans and a select number of home fans as he departed late on in a 1-1 draw.

The weekend came to an end with the Monday night offering of Arsenal at home to Swansea with the Gunners looking to boost hopes of a top two finish but they were stunned late on by a Baftembi Gomis strike on 85 minute to secure a 1-0 win for the Swans.

Friday, 8 May 2015

Reds Boost Euro Hopes As Chelsea Secure Title


Saturday, 2 May 2015

Reds Top Four Hops Falter At Hull

A midweek double-header after FA Cup postponements saw Liverpool travel to Hull on Tuesday and Chelsea visit Leicester on Wednesday.

Liverpool's slim hopes of a top four finish faltered after suffering a 1-0 defeat to a Hull side who as a result boosted their survival hopes with the crucial strike coming from Michael Dawson on 37 minutes.

Chelsea travelled to Leicester knowing a win would see them just three points from securing the title and after coming from behind to a 45th minute opener from Marc Albrighton, Chelsea ended the Foxes four game winning streak with a leveller from Didier Drogba on 48 minutes before John Terry put them ahead on 79 minutes.

Ramires confirmed the win six minutes later for a 3-1 triumph that means a win against Crystal Palace on Sunday will see Chelsea crowned as champions.

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.