Tuesday, 25 August 2015

City Clear On Top As Cech Halts Reds

The new Premier League season is in full swing with a seven goal thriller the main highlight among six draws in week three.

Saturday's early game saw Manchester United host Newcastle United at Old Trafford with the hosts looking for a third successive win while the visitors hoped to secure a first. However, neither side was able to secure all three points as they shared the spoils in a 0-0 draw.

After suffering defeat to Arsenal, Crystal Palace hosted Aston Villa at Selhurst Park with hopes of bouncing back and they did just that in securing a 2-1 win against a Villa side with just one win from three games. Scott Dann opened the scoring in the 71th minute only for fellow Eagles defender Papa Souare to cancel out the effort with a 77th minute own goal. However, the Eagles sealed the win late on as debutant Bakary Sako struck with three minutes left of the 90.

Leicester's unbeaten start to the faced a tough test as they hosted Tottenham at the King Power Stadium but despite losing their 100% record they remain unbeaten after a 1-1 draw. Dele Alli put the visitors in front with just nine minutes left but their hopes of a win were instantly ended as in-form Riyad Mahrez struck to secure a point and keep the Foxes in second spot.

Norwich looked for their second win of the season as they hosted Stoke at Carrow Road, the Potters have yet to claim a victory and will have to wait another week as they were pegged back in a 1-1 draw. In-form Mame Biram Diouf put the visitors ahead inside 11 minutes before Russell Martin secured a point for the Canaries on 28 minutes.

Sunderland continued their quest for their first point of the season with the hosting of Swansea at the Stadium of Light while the Swans looked for their second victory. However, it was the hosts whose wish was fulfilled as the came from behind to secure a 1-1 draw.  Bafetimbi Gomis put the visitors in front just before the half-time interval before Jermain Defoe secured a point with a 62nd minute equaliser.

After narrow defeats in their first two games, Bournemouth travelled to face West Ham United at Upton Park looking to avoid a third while the Hammers aimed to bounce back after a loss to Leicester. Bournemouth started superbly with Callum Wilson scoring their first ever top flight goal inside 11 minutes. He added a second strike on 28 minutes to set up a 2-0 half-time advantage.

A Mark Noble penalty and Cheikou Kouyate within 13 minutes of the restart brought the hosts level but the Cherries regained the lead through Marc Pugh before a double blow for the Hammers saw Carl Jenkinson sent off and Callum Wilson complete his hat-trick from the penalty spot for 4-2. The deficit was reduced to 4-3 when Modibo Maiga struck on 82 minutes but the Cherries held on for a first win of the campaign.

Super Sunday began with West Bromwich Albion hosting Chelsea at The Hawthorns with both sides looking for their first win of the season. The Blues struck first with a debut goal from Pedro on 20 minutes before Diego Costa doubled the lead on the half hour. James Morrison replied for the Baggies on 35 minutes but they went into the interval 3-1 down after Cesar Azpilicueta's 42nd minute strike.

Chelsea were dealt a double blow just before the hour with John Terry dismissed on 54 minutes before Morrison struck his second goal on 59 minutes for 3-2. However, the Baggies were unable to take further advantage of having an extra man as the Blues secured their first triumph.

After a perfect start to the season, Manchester City travelled to face Everton at Goodison Park looking to maintain their record while the Toffees eyed back-to-back victories. A tight first half saw the sides go into the interval level at 0-0 but the deadlock was eventually broken on the hour as City edged ahead through Aleksandar Kolarov before sealing the win late on with Samir Nasri's 88th minute strike for 2-0.

Sunday's other game saw Watford and Southampton face-off at Vicarage Road with both sides looking for their first win of the season. However, neither got their wish as they shared the points in a 0-0 draw and one which the hosts will be happier from as they remain unbeaten with three draws in their three games.

Monday Night Football saw the big clash between Arsenal and Liverpool at the Emirates Stadium with the Reds looking to extend their perfect start to the season by handing the Gunners a second defeat.

 Despite their best efforts, Liverpool were unable to claim a win and in a first half where they hit post and bar, they ground out a 0-0 draw by preventing a revitalised Arsenal in the second period.

Wednesday, 19 August 2015

City Remain Top As Benteke Downs Cherries

Two down, 36 to go as the new 2015/16 Premier League season is in full swing with a first ever Friday night game kicking off four days of action featuring all 20 sides.

The aforementioned Friday night opener saw Aston Villa hosting Manchester United with both looking to continue their perfect start after opening wins. However it was the visitors who ended the evening with six points from six after a winning strike from Adnan Januzaj on 29 minutes.

Saturday's early game saw Southampton host Everton with both sides looking for their first win after draws on the opening weekend. The Toffees opened the scoring through Romelu Lukaku on 22 minutes before the Belgian striker added a second just before the interval for a 2-0 lead.

The Saints failed to cut the deficit in the second half leaving Ross Barkley to confirm a 3-0 win with a strike six minutes from the end.

After both suffering defeats in the opening weekend, Sunderland hosted Norwich with both sides looking to avoid back-to back losses. The Canaries took control in the first half with a 26th minute opener from Russell Martin followed just 11 minutes later by a second from Steven Whittaker for a 2-0 half-time advantage. Sunderland looked to be on course for another defeat as the hour came as Nathan Redmond put the visitors three goals to the good on 57 minutes.

The only positive of the afternoon for the hosts came late on as Duncan Watmore scored a consolation for a 3-1 final score. 

Swansea hosted Newcastle in a game between two side searching for a win but unlike the Swans who had drawn their opener, the Magpies came into the game looking to avoid a second defeat. The hosts made a superb start with Bafetimbi Gomis scoring inside nine minutes for 1-0. Newcastle's task to level suffered a blow just before the interval as Daryl Janmaat was dismissed for a second booking on 41 minutes. Swansea took just 11 minutes to utilise their numerical advantage with Andre Ayew backing up his debut goal with a 52nd minute strike to secure a 2-0 win.

After both suffering opening weekend defeats, Tottenham hosted Stoke with both keen to register their points of the season.  The hosts struck first through Eric Dier on 19 minutes and went into half-time with a two goal lead after a strike from Nacer Chadli.

The Potters had a great chance to reply when they were awarded a 78th minute penalty which Marko Arnuatovic converted for 2-1 and their joy doubled just five minutes later when Mame Biram Diouf struck an equaliser to secure a 2-2 draw and a point apiece.

After drawing away to Everton last week, Watford hosted a West Brom side who were keen to register their first point after a heavy opening loss to Manchester City. The Baggies did just that as they held firm for a 0-0 draw against the Hornets who remain unbeaten after two games.

After a London Derby defeat to Arsenal, West Ham hosted a Leicester side who looked for back-to-back wins after a fabulous win over Sunderland. The Foxes struck first with a 27th minute opener from Shinji Okazaki before Riyad Mahrez struck his third goal of the season seven minutes before the interval. The Hammers responded with a first goal for Dmitri Payet on 55 minutes but with defeat on the cards, their afternoon got worse as in going up for a corner late on, goalkeeper Adrian was dismissed for a dangerous tackle as they lost 2-1.

Super Sunday began with a second London derby in a row as Arsenal made the short trip to Crystal Palace with both sides looking for back-to-back wins after opening victories. The Gunners struck first as Olivier Giroud opened the scoring on 16 minutes. The Eagles were soon level as Joel Ward equalised on 28 minutes but were unfortunate to go behind just 10 minutes after the restart as Damien Delaney's deflected an effort in his own goal to give the visitors a 2-1 triumph.

The second edition of Sunday's action saw the heavyweight clash between last season's top two as Manchester City hosted defending champions Chelsea. A tight first third from both sides was soon broken by a 31st minute opener from City striker Sergio Aguero for a 1-0 lead which lasted into the interval. Chelsea struggled to a 2-2 draw in the opening week but a first win was to elude them further as two goals in as many minutes for the hosts sealed a 3-0 win as Vincent Kompany (79) and Fernandinho (81) struck to continue the Sky Blues perfect start.

The weekend's action ended with the Monday Night Football offering from Anfield as Bournemouth travelled for their first ever top-flight away day at a Liverpool side buoyed by an opening win at Stoke. The two sides have met in both cup competitions in recent years with the Reds coming out on top and despite a number of great chances, the Cherries suffered their second defeat in a row as Christian Benteke struck a 26th minute winner.

Friday, 14 August 2015

City On Top While Reds Start Well

After a pre-season break that saw the traditional flurry of high-profile transfers both in and out of the top flight sides, the chequebooks were downed and the real action with the start of the 2015/16 Premier League campaign.

The season kicked off with a huge clash between Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspur with the sides facing off at lunchtime on Saturday. Both teams were keen to made a good start after finishing in the top six last season but it was the hosts who would claim the first points of the season.

An unfortunate own goal from Tottenham defender Kyle Walker on 22 minutes gave Manchester United the victory with the strike setting a new record as the first own goal to open a season in the league's history.

A dream start was in the minds of newly promoted Bournemouth as they hosted Aston Villa in one of the four 3pm games but despite a good performance their PL debut ended in defeat as summer signing Rudy Gestede sealed the points for the visitors on 72 minutes.

After a poor previous season by their standards, Everton looked to get off the mark with a win as they hosted newly promoted Watford. However, the Hornets had other ideas as Miguel Layun gave them a surprise lead after just 13 minutes.

The visitors held firm until the break but were pegged back in style on 76 minutes by Ross Barkley's equaliser but the equality lasted just seven minutes as Odion Ighalo restored the visitors lead at 2-1. Everton's blushes were spared four minutes from the end of the 90 as Arouna Kone struck to secure a point at 2-2.

Leicester City's superb streak to survival last season boosted their hopes of great start to this one as they hosted Sunderland. The Foxes raced into a 2-0 lead with strikes from Jamie Vardy and Riyad Mahrez inside 18 minutes but the visitors task grew even harder when Mahrez made it 3-0 with a 25th minute penalty. Sunderland replied on the hour through Jermain Defoe but went 4-1 down just six minutes later as Marc Albrighton struck. They did have the last say on the score though with Steven Fletcher making it 4-2 on 71 minutes.

The third of the newly promoted sides, Norwich City started their return to the top flight by hosting Crystal Palace. The Eagles opened the scoring with six minutes left of the first half as Wilfred Zaha struck but were soon two goals to the good as Damien Delaney made it 2-0 on 49 minutes. The Canaries replied with a goal from Nathan Redmond on 69 minutes but it proved to be in vain as summer signing Yohan Cabaye confirmed a 3-1 win in the 90th minute.

The evening kick-off saw defending champions Chelsea host Swansea City in a game that will sadly be remembered for Jose Mourinho's outburst late on against club doctor Eva Carneiro. The Blues made the better start of the two sides with a classy free-kick from Oscar putting them ahead on 23 minutes but Swansea soon drew level with a debut goal from summer signing Andre Ayew on 29 minutes. The equality lasted just seconds as Chelsea regained the lead with a fluke deflection off Federico Fernandez which looped over Lukasz Fabianski for 2-1.

However, the hosts were soon dealt a double blow as Thibault Courtois was dismissed for fouling Baftembi Gomis with the Swans attacker slotting in the resulting penalty for 2-2 which is how it ended leaving the Blues with a mixed start to the defence of their title.

Super Sunday began with a London derby as Arsenal hosted West Ham United with the Hammers looking to bounce back from their recent Europa League exit. A tight first half from both sides saw the visitors go ahead on 43 minutes as Cheikou Kouyate struck for 1-0. The Gunners had been tipped to mount a title challenge this season but will need to improve as they fell to a 2-0 defeat with the second goal coming on 57 minutes from Mauro Zarate.

Last season was one to forget for Newcastle and as they hosted a Southampton side who have already started their Europa League campaign, hopes were high for a good start. The Saints had other plans as they opened the scoring through Graziano Pellé on 24 minutes with the Magpies levelling just before the break through Papiss Cisse. Summer signing Georginio Wijnaldum put the hosts ahead just three minutes after the restart but their jot was soured by a 79th minute equaliser from Shane Long for 2-2.

Part two of Super Sunday saw Stoke host Liverpool with the visitors keen to gain revenge for their 6-1 humiliation at the Britannia Stadium in the final game of last season. Unlike the seven goal thriller in the previous meeting, the game was a very close one with the sides goalless into the half-time interval. However, Liverpool secured the three points late on with an exquisite strike from Philippe Coutinho in the 86th minute to secure a 1-0 triumph.

The opening weekend came to an end with the Monday night offering of West Bromwich Albion hosting Manchester City. The visitors made a superb start with the opening goal coming inside nine minutes from David Silva before Yaya Toure added a second on 25 minutes for 2-0. The three points were sealed just before the hour mark as Vincent Kompany struck for 3-0.

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.