Sunday, 15 May 2016

Premier League's Penultimate Week

Saturday, 7 May 2016

Champions League/Europa League Semi Final Reviews

Just 90 minutes away from two potential finals in Milan and Basel, the English duo of Manchester City and Liverpool had work to do to move closer to securing Champions League spots for next season and a trophy to go with it.

Tuesday night saw Bayern Munich host Atletico Madrid looking to overturn a 1-0 deficit from the first leg. The hosts took just 31 minutes to level the tie as Xabi Alonso swept in a superb free-kick for a 1-0 lead on the night. However, the advantage swung back to the visitors as Antoine Griezmann levelled at 1-1 but in doing so made it 2-1 on aggregate and with a potentially vital away goal. Bayern needed two to avoid an exit and with 16 minutes left they got the first of the required double as Robert Lewandowski fired in to give them a 21 lead on the night but that was how it ended. The hosts secured the win but missed out on the final via away goals in the 2-2 aggregate.

Wednesday night saw Real Madrid look to join their city rivals in the final as they hosted Manchester City with the tie evenly poised after a goalless first leg. The second leg was almost as close as just one goal settled the tie, a superbly angled shot from Gareth Bale deflected off Fernando and past Joe Hart to put Madrid ahead in the 20th minute. City pushed to drawl level and in doing so secure a place in the final but to no avail as they slipped to the 1-0 aggregate defeat that sets up an all Madrid final.

Thursday night saw the Europa League resume with Liverpool looking to overturn a 1-0 first leg deficit as they hosted Villarreal. The Reds took just seven minutes to level the tie as an effort from Daniel Sturridge cannoned in off Bruno Soriano Llido for 1-0 on the night. Sturridge doubled the lead just after the hour mark to put the Reds in control of the tie and their luck was in on 71 minutes as the dismissal of Victor Ruiz all but ended the visitors' hopes. The gloss on the win came nine minutes from the end as Adam Lallana sealed a 3-0 win and 3-1 aggregate win to send the Reds into their first European final in nine years.

Holders Sevilla hosted Shakthar Donetsk looking to reach a third consecutive final and potentially become the first side to secure three titles in as many seasons and after a 2-2 draw in the first leg, they had the advantage of away goals over the Ukrainians. They took just nine minutes to increase their advantage as Kevin Gameiro opened the scoring for a 4-2 lead overall. Eduardo levelled on the night in the 44th minute but a second from Gameiro just two minutes after the restart looked to have wrapped up the tie. However, Sevilla completed a comfortable 3-1 win and 5-3 aggregate success just before the hour through Filho whose strike ensured they would face Liverpool in Basel on May 18th.

Wednesday, 4 May 2016

Foxes Seal Maiden Title While Swans Stun Reds

The finale to what will surely go down in history as most exciting and unpredictable Premier League season is just three weeks away. Game-week 36 focused around the unique title battle between Leicester and Tottenham with both after an historic triumph.

The weekend began with five 3pm games with the review starting with Everton's hosting of Bournemouth at Goodison Park with both sides just looking to boost their final positions in the league having avoided the drop. The Toffees struck an early opener as Tom Cleverley fired them into the lead on seven minutes but an instant reply from Marc Pugh levelled at 1-1 inside ten minutes. The Blues sealed a 2-1 win midway through the second half as Leighton Baines struck on 64 minutes with his first goal from open play since January 2013.

In a battle to avoid the drop, Newcastle United hosted Crystal Palace at St James' Park knowing a win coupled with negative results for their fellow battlers could leave them above the drop zone. They did their job in securing a potentially vital win as Andros Townsend continued his fine form since joining from Tottenham by slotting in the winner on the hour for a 1-0 success.

Relegation battlers Sunderland travelled to the Britannia Stadium to face a Stoke City side with an outside chance of securing a European spot with the visitors needing a win to move closer to safety. After a goalless first half, their task was made difficult by an opening goal from Marko Arnautovic just five minutes after the restart for 1-0 and as the game entered the final minutes, the hosts looked on the cards for success. However, Sunderland secured what could be a vital point in the relegation battle via a late strike from Jermain Defoe who secured a 1-1 draw.

Watford hosted already relegated Aston Villa looking to boost their hopes of a top half finish by extending Villa's horrific campaign. The visitors took a surprise lead on 25 minutes through Ciaran Clark only to be pegged back just before half-time by Almen Abdi's equaliser for 1-1. Jordan Ayew fired Villa back in front within three minutes of the restart and despite the dismissal of Aly Cissokho on 73 minutes, Villa looked to be on course for a rare win. However, Watford and Troy Deeney especially staged a stunning hate show as the striker fired in twice in the final minutes to secure a 3-2 win.

Rounding off the afternoon was West Brom hosting West Ham United with the Hammers still in the hunt for a top four spot while the Baggies were happy to have secured safety from the drop zone. The Hammers struck the opening goal on 34 minutes as Cheikou Kouyate fired in before Marc Noble doubled the lead just before half-time. A comfortable win was wrapped up on 79 minutes as Noble struck for a second time to make it 3-0 and close the gap to the top four.

The evening game saw top four challengers Arsenal host relegation battlers Norwich City at the Emirates Stadium with the Canaries knowing anything but a win would leave them two points from safety. The Gunners sealed a narrow win courtesy of a Danny Welbeck strike on 59 minutes which opened up a gap on their chasers but also left Norwich with a gap to safety.

Sunday's action saw an early kick-off at the Liberty Stadium as Swansea City hosted a Liverpool side still in the hunt for Europe on two fronts and with the Europa League semi on Thursday, the Reds fielded a very young side. However, it was to be a mixed gamble as the Swans raced into a 2-0 lead through Andre Ayew and a stunning effort from Jack Cork. Substitute Christian Benteke cut the gap on 65 minutes before an instant blow as Ayew made it 3-1 with his second. A miserable afternoon for the Reds was compounded by the dismissal of Brad Smith on 76 minutes in a loss that leaves them all but out of the top four hunt.

The Super Sunday double header saw top four hopefuls Manchester United host table toppers Leicester City at Old Trafford with the Foxes needing a win to wrap up an historic first league title. Their hopes were dealt an early blow as Anthony Martial fired the hosts ahead inside eight minutes before Foxes captain Wes Morgan levelled in the 17th minute for 1-1.The sides remained level long into the second half and the Foxes hopes of a win were dented by the late dismissal of Danny Drinkwater leaving them to wait at least one further day to claim the title.

In a battle between two sided challenging for European spots, Southampton hosted a weakened Manchester City side who looked to have one eye on their upcoming Champions League semi final. The Saints took full advantage as they raced into a 2-0 lead inside the half hour mark with Shane Long and Sadio Mané on target. Kelechi Iheanacho cut the gap just before half-time but two further efforts from Mané either side of the hour made it 4-1. The last say on the game came from Iheanacho as he struck his second goal on 78 minutes for 4-2.

The final game of the weekend proved to be the most pivotal as Chelsea hosted rivals and title challengers Tottenham in what turned out to be one of the most fiery London derbies between the sides in EPL history with a total of 12 players booked yet none sent off across the 90 minutes.

Tottenham knew that anything but a win would mean Leicester City would claim the title with two games to spare so it was no surprise that the visitors struck first as Harry Kane fired in on 35 minutes with Son Heung-Min doubling the lead just before half-time. Gary Cahill cut the gap for the Blues just before the hour mark before Eden Hazard levelled for 2-2 with seven minutes left to create history for the second season in a row by scoring the goal which decided the destination of the league title. The draw meant Tottenham's challenge sadly ended but a first ever top two finish looks on the cards.

To end the review, it is surreal even now to say - Leicester City - 2015/16 Premier League Champions.

Saturday, 30 April 2016

Premier League/FA CUP Semi Catch Up

April has seen a horror of a month for blogging due to technical problems so in catching up, just the results from gameweeks 34 and 35 feature as images with the FA Cup semi final results.

Friday, 15 April 2016

Foxes Stay Clear While Reds Defeat Potters

After a break in writing due to technical issues, gameweek 33 saw some really close results and while eight sides hit two goals or more, six sides sealed a shut-out.

The weekend began with the early kick-off at Upton Park as West Ham United hosted Arsenal in a London derby between two sides in the mix for a top four spot. The Gunners made a superb start with Mesut Ozil opening the scoring on 17 minutes ahead of the lead being doubled on 35 minutes by Alexis Sanchez. The Hammers staged a stunning comeback as Andy Carroll struck twice either side of the half-time break to level at 2-2 before sealing his hat-trick for 3-2 just seven minutes after the restart.Arsenal salvaged a draw through as Laurent Koscielny fired in a 70th minute equaliser for 3-3. The result leaves the Gunners all but out of the title race while the Hammers remain fimly in the top four chase.

Rock bottom Aston Villa hosted Bournemouth at Villa Park knowing that a defeat coupled with a positive result for Norwich would see the Villans relegated for the first time in the League's history. A tight first half saw the Cherries break the deadlock late on through Steve Cook for 1-0. The lead was doubled midway through the second half as Josh King made it 2-0 on 74 minutes but Villa remained in the game and forced a frantic finale after Jordan Ayew's 85th minute strike. However, it proved to be sheer consolation as they slipped to yet another defeat.

Crystal Palace hosted Norwich City at Selhurst Park with both sides still not safe from the clutches of the drop zone.  The game proved to be tight one as just one goal was enough to claim all three points and with Villa needing the Canaries to lose in order to stave off relegation, they got their wish. The Eagles claimed the narrow win in the second half as Jason Puncheon opened his scoring account for the season in the 68th minute.

Southampton looked to stay in the hunt for Europe as they hosted a Newcastle United side at St Mary's looking to avoid relegation.. The Saints started superbly as Shane Long fired them ahead inside four minutes before Graziano Pelle doubled the lead in the 37th minute. Victor Wanyama wrapped up the win for the hosts just ten minutes after half-time for 3-0 but Newcastle did have the last say on the score as Andros Townsend made it 3-1 in the 66th minute.

Swansea City looked to edge closer to safety as they hosted Chelsea at the Liberty Stadium with the Blues hoping to boost their chances of a Europa spot. However, the hosts came out on top in a close game that was settled by just a single goal. Gylfi Sigurdsson sealed the three points for the Swans with the crucial strike in the 25th minute.

Watford hosted Everton at Vicarage Road with both sides looking to move closer to the top half with safety all but sealed for both sides. The game looked to be going into half-time with the sides goalless but a frantic double saw James McCarthy put the Toffees ahead before Jose Holebas levelled in added time for 1-1. The late first half flurry proved to be the last say on the score at the sides shared the points.

Manchester City looked to keep up their slim title hopes as they hosted West Bromwich Albion at the Etihad Stadium. The Baggies staged an early upset as Stephane Sessegnon fired them 1-0 ahead inside six minutes but the lead was soon cancelled out as Sergio Aguero converted from the penalty spot on 19 minutes. The points were sealed for the hosts just after the hour mark as Samir Nasri slotted in for 2-1 in the 66th minute.

Sunday's action began at the Stadium of Light as Sunderland hosted league leaders Leicester City hoping to cut the gap to Norwich in the bottom four. The sides played out not only a goalless first half but even first hour before Jamie Vardy fired the Foxes ahead on 67 minutes. The hosts came close to levelling but were condemned to a 2-0 defeat late on as Vardy struck for a second time.

Liverpool hoped to keep up their top four hopes as they hosted a Stoke City side at Anfield who had the same ambition in sitting just above the Reds ahead of the game. The hosts struck an early lead as Alberto Moreno fires in a superb opener in the eighth minute but the Potters drew level on 22 minutes with a strike from Bojan Krkic. Daniel Sturridge regained the lead for the Reds on 32 minutes before a superb brace from substitute Divock Origi in the 50th and 65th minutes wrapped up a comfortable 4-1 victory.

The final game of the weekend saw title hopefuls Tottenham Hotspur host European hopefuls Manchester United at White Hart Lane. The game was delayed by traffic congestion but in a close first hour, the sides remained level before a superb seven minute blitz by the hopes wrapped up a comfortable win. Dele All started the spree in the 70th minute before Toby Alderweireld's 74th minute effort was followed by Erik Lamela's 77th minute strike to seal a 3-0 triumph.

An addition to this post sees two further games as West Ham United hosted Manchester United on Wednesday night in the FA Cup sixth round replay. The sides battled in a goalless first half before United took the lead on 54 minutes via a clever strike from Marcus Rashford before Marouane Fellaini doubled the lead on 67 minutes. West Ham pulled one back through James Tomkins on 79 minutes but it proved to be just a consolation in a 2-1 defeat meaning the final cup game at Upton Park was sadly a defeat for the Hammers.

The Premier League also resumed on Wednesday night as Crystal Palace hosted Everton at Selhurst Park but the game turned out to have all the hallmarks of two mid-table sides as they shared the points in a 0-0 draw, the only notable piece of action saw James McCarthy dismissed in the 51st minute after two bookings.

Saturday, 9 April 2016

Foxes Extend Gap After Reds Hold Spurs

A problem computer wise this week means the review is just image based with next weeks going back to the normal routine.