Friday, 18 August 2017

Clarets Stun Champions While Hornets Hold Reds

The new Premier League season is underway after opening on Friday evening with thrilling game that led the way to an exciting opening weekend overall.

Arsenal claimed the first points of the season as they came from behind to secure a 4-3 at home to Leicester City. The Gunners made a perfect start as summer signing Alexandre Lacazette fired them ahead inside two minutes but the Foxes scored a rapid leveller three minutes later through Shinji Okazaki.  

Jamie Vardy put the visitors ahead on 29 minutes but the sides were locked at 2-2 into half-time after Danny Welbeck's equaliser. Vardy restored the lead on 56 minutes but the hosts staged a superb late comeback as Aaron Ramsey (83) and Olivier Giroud (85) struck to complete the turnaround.

Saturday's action began with a six-goal thriller as Watford struck late on to secure a 3-3 draw against Liverpool. The Hornets struck first with Stefano Okaka slotting in on eight minutes. Sadio Mané levelled but the hosts took just three minutes to regain the lead as Abdoulaye Doucoure struck for 2-1. The Reds turned the game around in the space of two minutes as Roberto Firmino slotted in a penalty ahead of a strike from Mohamed Salah for 3-2. The Hornets still had a sting in their tail though as Miguel Britos levelled in the final seconds of added time.

Chelsea began the defence of the title with a surprise 3-2 defeat at home to Burnley. The Blues suffered an early blow with the sending off of captain Gary Cahill with just 14 minutes played. 

The Clarets took quick advantage as Sam Vokes put them ahead on 24 minutes, Stephen Ward doubled the lead on 40 minutes with Vokes' second strike making it 3-0 into half-time. Alvaro Morata cut the gap for the hosts before they went down to nine men with Cesc Fabregas dismissed with nine minutes left. David Luiz made it 3-2 with two minutes left but the Clarets managed to hold on for the win.

Newly promoted Huddersfield Town made a stunning start in the top flight with a 3-0 win at Crystal Palace. The Terriers were gifted their opener as Joel Ward hit into his own net on 23 minutes before summer signing Steve Mounié doubled the lead three minutes later. Palace's miserable afternoon was completed on 78 minutes as Mounié struck his second goal for 3-0.

Everton opened the season with a narrow 1-0 win over Stoke City. The Blues secured the three points just before half-time as Wayne Rooney celebrated his summer return to the Toffees with a 45th minute strike. 

Southampton and Swansea City both began the season with a point each as they shared the spoils in a 0-0 draw.

West Bromwich Albion secured an opening win with a narrow 1-0 victory at home to Bournemouth. The crucial strike came on 31 minutes as summer signing Ahmed Hegazi secured the three points for the Baggies.

Saturday evening saw newly promoted Brighton and Hove Albion suffer a 2-0 loss at home to Manchester City. 

A close game saw the South Coast side hold City past the hour mark but a five minute period saw Sergio Aguero put City ahead before a Lewis Dunk own goal wrapped up the win for the visitors.

Sunday's action began with newly promoted Newcastle United losing 2-0 at home to Tottenham Hotspur. The sides played out a goalless first half before the Magpies were dealt a blow three minutes into the second half with the sending off of Jonjo Shelvey

Spurs utilised their man advantage with two goals after the hour mark with Dele Alli putting them ahead before Ben Davies confirmed the win nine minutes later.

Manchester United top the table after the opening weekend after easing to a 4-0 win over West Ham United. The hosts went ahead on 33 minutes as summer signing Romelu Lukaku opened his United account for a 1-0 lead into half-time.

Lukaku doubled the lead seven minutes into the second half before a late double from Anthony Martial and Paul Pogba wrapped up the points.

Sunday, 4 June 2017

EL/FA/UCL Finals Review

The final post of the current season sees the trio of the Europa League, FA Cup and Champions League finals reviewed.

First up is the Europa League Final which was played at the Friends Arena, Stockholm as Ajax Amsterdam took on Manchester United.

United sealed a place in the 2017/18 Champions League with a 2-0 win that saw Paul Pogba put them in front with 18 minutes on the clock before Henrikh Mkhitaryan doubled the lead and confirmed the win three minutes after half-time.

Next up was the FA Cup final from Wembley as Arsenal looked to prevent newly crowned Premier League champions Chelsea from securing a double.

The Gunners made the perfect start as Alexis Sanchez struck inside four minutes for 1-0. The Blues were dealt a blow with the dismissal of Victor Moses but soon drew level through Diego Costa. However, Arsenal sealed the win and a record 13th title as Aaron Ramsey's strike three minutes later for 2-1.

The trilogy concluded at the Millennium Stadium, Cardiff as Real Madrid looked to complete their defence of the Champions League trophy in the final against Juventus. 

Real went ahead through Cristiano Ronaldo with 20 minutes gone before a superb leveller from Mario Mandzukic made it 1-1 seven minutes later.

Casemiro restored Real's lead just after the hour with Ronaldo striking for a second time for 3-1 within three minutes. Juve's hopes of a comeback were scuppered by a double blow late on as Juan Cuadrado was dismissed before Marcos Asensio put the gloss on the win for Real in added time for 4-1.

Saturday, 27 May 2017

Chelsea Crowned Champions As Reds Secure Fourth With Boro Win

The Premier League season finale saw the battle for fourth become the main focus with matters at the top and bottom already decided and a rarity as all 20 sides played at the same time.

Arsenal needed to better the result of Liverpool to secure a top four place and they did their utmost as they secured a 3-1 win over Everton.  The Gunners went ahead inside eight minutes with Hector Bellerin's strike but a blow saw Laurent Koscielny dismissed six minutes later. 

Alexis Sanchez doubled the lead before the half hour mark with Romelu Lukaku pulling one back with a 58th minute penalty. Aaron Ramsey wrapped up the win late on but the Gunners fate will be confirmed later in the review.

West Ham United ended the season on a high with a 2-1 win over Burnley. The hosts went ahead on 23 minutes through Sam Vokes but their fellow Clarets were level through Sofiane Feghouli within four minutes. André Ayew secured the points with a 72nd minute effort.

Chelsea's celebrated their title crowning in style with a 5-1 routing of Sunderland. However, the visitors threatened to derail the party as Javier Manquillo struck an opener three minutes in.  

Willian levelled for the Blues before an orchestrated guard of honour for Blues captain John Terry came in the 26th minute. Goals from Eden Hazard and Pedro put the Blues in control before a late brace from Michy Batshuayi rounded off the rout.

Hull City ended the season miserably they suffered a 7-1 thrashing from title runners-up Tottenham Hotspur. An early brace from Harry Kane put Spurs 2-0 up inside 15 minutes with Dele Alli making it 3-0 into half-time.

Sam Clucas ended Spurs' spree on 66 minutes for 3-1 but Victor Wanyama resumed the spree just three minutes later ahead of a hat-trick strike from Kane. The thrashing was completed by two goals in the final six minutes as Ben Davies and Toby Alderweireld slotted in.

Leicester City ended their season as champions with a 1-1 draw with Bournemouth who secured a ninth placed finish. Junior Stanislas put the Cherries inside the opening minute but the win was denied by Jamie Vardy's 51st minute leveller.

As mentioned above, Arsenal did what they needed to in the battle for fourth but they missed out due to Liverpool securing fourth spot with a 3-0 win over Middlesbrough.

The Reds cemented their place in the top four and a spot in next season's Champions League with an 11 minute spree which began with Georginio Wijnaldum's strike just before half-time.  Philippe Coutinho doubled the lead within five minutes of the restart with Adam Lallana wrapping up the win six minutes later.

Manchester United signed off ahead of the midweek Europa League final against Ajax with a 2-0 win over Crystal Palace. United went ahead with a debut goal from young striker Josh Harrop on 15 minutes  before Paul Pogba struck just four minutes later.

Stoke City missed out on a top half finish despite ending with a 1-0 win away to Southampton. Peter Crouch secured the points with an historic headed effort on the hour mark as he became the first player to score 50 headers in the top flight.

After avoiding relegation, Swansea City ended the season on a high with a 2-1 win over West Bromwich Albion.

The Baggies went ahead through Jonny Evans before Jordan Ayew levelled in the 72nd minute (the same time as his brother struck over at Burnley). Fernando Llorente sealed the win four minutes from the end.

The final league game of my 2016-17 reviews was also to be the last for Watford manager Walter Mazzari as he departed the Hornets after their 5-0 humbling from Manchester City who cemented third spot. A rapid start for the visitors saw Vincent Kompany strike inside six minutes before a brace from Sergio Aguero and an effort from Fernandinho gave City a 4-0 lead into half-time. The rout was completed before the hour mark as Gabriel Jesus made it 5-0 on 57 minutes.

Chelsea Seal Title While Reds Thrash Hammers

Catch-up on the final part of the Premier League season begins with a lengthy week 37 which spanned from Friday 12th May to Thursday 18th May. 

Friday night's action began at Goodison Park as Everton secured a narrow 1-0 win over Watford. The crucial strike came from Ross Barkley in the 56th minute.

Chelsea sealed the league title with a narrow 1-0 win at West Bromwich Albion with a rare strike from Michy Batshuayi coming eight minutes from the end enough to secure the crown for Antonio Conte's men.

Manchester City kept up their hopes of a top two finish with a 2-1 win at home to former champions Leicester City. David Silva put the hosts ahead just before the half hour mark before Gabriel Jesus doubled the lead with a penalty seven minutes later. The Foxes halved the deficit just before half time through Shinji Okazaki but it was to be only a consolation.

Bournemouth moved closer to securing a top half finish as they claimed a 2-1 win over Burnley. The Cherries opened the scoring on 25 through Junior Stanislas before being pegged back with seven minutes to go by a Sam Vokes leveller. The hosts were bot to be denied a win though as Joshua King sealed the points in the 85th minute.

Southampton piled further misery on relegated Middlesbrough by securing a 2-1 victory. The Saints went ahead just before half time via Jay Rodriguez's 42nd minute effort and they were in control before the hour mark as Nathan Redmond doubled the lead. Boro had the last say on the scoreline though as Patrick Bamford struck in the 72nd minute.

Swansea City boosted their survival hopes with a 2-0 win over already relegated Sunderland. The Swans went ahead inside ten minutes courtesy of Fernando Llorente with Kyle Naughton doubling the lead just before half-time. 

Arsenal boosted their top four hopes with a comfortable 4-1 win over Stoke City. The Gunners went ahead just before half-time through Olivier Giroud with Mesut Ozil doubling the lead just before the hour mark. Peter Crouch got the Potters off the mark on 67 minutes but his effort was to be only a consolation as Alexis Sanchez made it 3-1 before Giroud's second strike ten minutes from the end.

Hull City needed to win to keep up their survival hopes as they faced Crystal Palace on Sunday, but a 4-0 loss saw their relegation confirmed. A rapid start from the Eagles saw Wilfred Zaha and Christian Benteke give them a 2-0 lead inside 15 minutes.  The win was wrapped up with two late goals as Luka Milivojevic slotted in a penalty ahead of a strike from Patrick Van Aanholt.

Liverpool ensured that the battle for fourth would go down to the final day as they cruised to a 4-0 win at West Ham United. Daniel Sturridge got the Reds going with a 35th minute opener before a five minute brace either side of the hour mark from Philippe Coutinho put the visitors in control at 3-0. The gloss on the win came on 76 minutes with Divock Origi's strike. 

Tottenham Hotspur signed off at White Hart Lane with a 2-1 win over Manchester United that ended United's top four hopes. A rapid start from the hosts saw Victor Wanyama score inside seven minutes ahead of a Harry Kane strike just after half-time doubling the lead. United had the last say on the scoreline as Wayne Rooney made it 2-1 in the 71st minute. 

Chelsea left it late to overcome Watford in a seven-goal thriller that saw the Blues win 4-3. John Terry put the hosts ahead on 2 minutes only to have his effort rapidly levelled by Etienne Capoue. Cesar Azpilicueta restored Chelsea's lead into half-time with Michy Batshuayi making it 3-1 within four minutes of the restart.

Daryl Janmaat and Stefano Okaka struck for the Hornets to level at 3-3 but their were dealt a double blow late on as Cesc Fabregas sealed the win on 88 minutes before Seb Prodl was sent off.

Arsenal set up a three-way battle for the top four as they claimed a 2-0 win over relegated Sunderland. A nine minute brace from Alexis Sanchez secure the win as he struck in the 72nd and 81st minutes.

Manchester City moved into third spot with a 3-1 win over West Bromwich Albion. City were 2-0 to the good before the half hour mark via strikes from Gabriel Jesus and Kevin De Bruyne.

Yaya Toure wrapped up the win before the hour but the Baggies had the last say on the scoreline with a late strike from Hal Robson-Kanu. 

Southampton looked to secure a top half finish as they shared the points in a 0-0 draw with Manchester United who would finish in sixth spot. 

Tottenham Hotspur cruised to a 6-1 hammering over Leicester City on Thursday evening with Harry Kane and Son Heung-Min giving Spurs a two goal advantage at half-time. Ben Chilwell cut the gap for the Foxes before the hour mark before the visitors ran riot. Kane and Heung-Min struck for a second time in an eight minute period before Kane completed his hat-trick and struck a fourth in the final minutes.  

Friday, 12 May 2017

Champions/Europa Semi Finals Review

As the domestic European seasons near the end, the semi finals of both the Champions League and Europa League saw the final four sides in European competition decided.

The first legs of the Champions League semis saw an all-Madrid battle as holders Real Madrid hosted Atletico Madrid.

The hosts went ahead inside ten minutes as Cristiano Ronaldo struck, he went on to claim a hat-trick and a comfortable 3-0 advantage for Real with further strikes in the 74th and 87th minutes.

Monaco and Juventus faced off in the other tie and it was to be the Italians who secured first leg success. Gonzalo Higuain's brace secured a 2-0 win as he struck in the 29th and 59th minutes.

The first legs of the Europa League semis began with Ajax securing a huge 4-1 advantage against Olympique Lyonnais. The hosts opened the scoring through Bertrand Traoré before Kasper Dolberg doubled the lead before half-time.

The win looked to be secure within five minutes of the restart as Amin Younes made it 3-0 but the visitors struck what could be a crucial away goal through Mathieu Valbuena. The goal was to be merely a consolation on the night as Traoré scored his second and Ajax's fourth.

Manchester United secured a narrow 1-0 lead against Celta Vigo.The visitors secured the win with an away goal from Marcus Rashford on 68 minutes.

The final step on the 'Road to Cardiff' saw Juventus secure a place in the final with a 2-1 win that saw them advance past Monaco with a 4-1 aggregate.

First half strikes from Mario Mandzukic and Dani Alves put the Italians in control at 2-0 (4-0) before Kylian Mbappe secured some consolation for the visitors.

Juve will face Real Madrid in the final despite Los Blancos suffering a 2-1 defeat to Atletico as they advanced 4-2 on aggregate.

Atletico went 2-0 up on the night inside 17 minutes as Saul Niguez struck ahead of a penalty from Antoine Griezmann. They were unable to level the tie though as Real secured their spot in the final with a strike just before half-time from Isco.

After a five goal thriller in the first leg, Ajax secured a trip to Stockholm for the final with a 5-4 aggregate win despite losing 3-1 to Lyon on the night.

Kasper Dolberg continued his scoring streak with the opener on 27 minutes before a superb brace from Alexandre Lacazette as he struck from the penalty spot and open play in the final minutes of the first half for a 2-1 lead (3-5 agg).

Rachid Ghezzal made it 3-1 and 4-5 on agg with nine minutes to go and with the dismissal of Nick Viergever, the hosts had hope of levelling but to no avail as Ajax's away goal was enough to win the tie.

The Dutch side will face Manchester United in the final after the Red Devils advanced 2-1 on aggregate after a 1-1 draw against Celta Vigo. An opener from Marouane Fellaini made it 1-0 (2-0 agg) but a late rally from the visitors saw Facundo Roncaglia strike an away goal for Celta before being sent off after an altercation with United defender Eric Bailly who was also dismissed. United managed to hold on and secure a spot in the final. 

Chelsea Close on Title as Saints Halt Reds

The Premier League run-in is in full swing with just two gameweeks left after the recent weekend-midweek gameweek 36.

The gameweek began on Friday night with a London derby as West Ham United hosted title challenging Tottenham Hotspur.  The Hammers claimed the points with a 65th minute strike from Manuel Lanzini who secured a 1-0 win.

Manchester City kept up their hopes of a top two finish with a comfortable 5-0 rout over Crystal Palace. The hosts started perfectly with David Silva scoring inside two minutes before Vincent Kompany and Kevin De Bruyne made it 3-0 before the hour mark. A miserable afternoon for the Eagles was completed in the final seven minutes as Raheem Sterling added a fourth ahead of a rare goal from Nicolas Otamendi in added time,

Bournemouth and Stoke City confirmed safety with a share of the points in a 2-2 draw. An own goal from Lys Mousset put the Potters ahead on 33 minutes before Junior Stanislas levelled for the Cherries on 63 minutes. A strike from Mame Biram Diouf restored the visitors' lead but they were to be denied the win by an own goal from Ryan Shawcross. 

Burnley all but secured safety as they salvaged a point in a 2-2 draw with West Bromwich Albion. Sam Vokes put the Clarets ahead on 57 minutes before Salomon Rondon levelled for the Baggies. The visitors completed the turnaround on 79 minutes as Craig Dawson struck but the hosts were to level with four minutes to go with a second strike from Vokes.

Hull City's safety hopes were dented as they suffered a 2-0 defeat to already relegated Sunderland. The visitors secured the three points with two second half strikes as Billy Jones opened the scoring on 69 minutes ahead of Jermain Defoe's effort in added time.

Leicester City moved into the top half with a comfortable 3-0 win over Watford. Wilfred Ndidi put the Foxes ahead on 38 minutes before Riyad Mahrez doubled the lead just before the hour. The win was rounded off late on by a strike from Marc Albrighton. 

Swansea City boosted their survival hopes with a 1-0 win over Everton. The result which kept the Swans out of the bottom three was secured by a 30th minute strike from Fernando Llorente.

Liverpool's top four hopes fell out of their hands as they were held to a 0-0 draw by Southampton. The Saints made it four out of four against the Reds in terms of clean sheets this season.

Arsenal kept up their top four hopes and dented Manchester United's with a 2-0 win that also restored Liverpool's control of their destiny.
The Gunners secured the points with a three minute brace as Granit Xhaka struck ahead of an effort from former United striker Danny Welbeck.

Monday night saw Chelsea edge closer to the title with a 3-0 win over Middlesbrough who had their relegation to the Championship confirmed. The Blues went ahead on 22 minutes with an opener from Diego Costa before Marcos Alonso doubled the lead before half-time.  The win was wrapped up by a superb strike from Nemanja Matic.

Wednesday night saw Arsenal move closer to a top four spot at they secured a 2-0 win against Southampton. The Gunners secured the points with a strike from Alexis Sanchez just before the hour mark and an 83rd minute effort from Olivier Giroud. 

Wednesday, 3 May 2017

Chelsea Close In On Title While Reds 'Can' Watford

As the Premier League run-in continued, a mix of midweek-weekend schedules set to run until the end of the season began.

The first of the midweek games came on Tuesday as Chelsea extended their stay at the top with a 4-2 win over Southampton. An early opener from Eden Hazard came just five minutes in but the Saints were level by the half hour mark with Oriol Romeu's leveller. 

The Blues took control just before half-time as Gary Cahill made it 2-1 before Diego Costa made it 3-1 on 53 minutes. Costa wrapped up the win with his second strike before the final say went to the visitors with Ryan Bertrand's effort.

Arsenal continued their top four push with a narrow 1-0 win over champions Leicester City. The crucial strike came with three minutes left as Robert Huth deflected into his own net.

Middlesbrough boosted their survival hopes with a narrow 1-0 win that pushed Sunderland closer to relegation. The hosts sealed the win with a goal with just eight minutes on the clock from Marten De Roon. 

Tottenham Hotspur cut the gap to leaders Chelsea with a narrow 1-0 win at London rivals Crystal Palace. The winning goal came with 12 minutes left of the 90 as Christian Eriksen struck.

The battle for the top four continued as Manchester City and Manchester United faced off in the Manchester Derby. The sides were side by side in the table so it was no huge surprise that they shared the points in a 0-0 draw but one which saw United end with ten men after Marouane Fellaini's dismissal.

The weekend began with an afternoon dubbed as 'The Worst Ever Premier League Saturday'. The opening game of the review was a 0-0 draw between Southampton and Hull City. A result that boosted the visitors survival hopes.

West Ham United extended their gap above the drop zone with a point in a 0-0 draw at Stoke City.

The third game of the afternoon between Sunderland and Bournemouth had the potential to see the hosts relegated with a defeat. The sides remained locked at 0-0 as the game entered the final stages but the hosts were to suffer the big blow as Joshua King sealed a 1-0 win for the Cherries thereby relegating Sunderland.

Leicester City continued their push for a top ten finish with a narrow 1-0 win at West Bromwich Albion.

The winning goal came just before half-time as Jamie Vardy continued his scoring run against the Baggies with a 43rd minute strike.

The evening game saw Crystal Palace miss the chance to all but confirm safety as they lost 2-0 to Burnley.

The Clarets went ahead after just even minutes as Ashley Barnes struck before Andre Gray confirmed the win with five minutes remaining.

Sunday's action began with Manchester United's top four hopes suffering a blow as they drew 1-1 win Swansea City who moved two points from safety.

United took the lead just before half-time as Wayne Rooney slotted in a penalty but they would be denied a win by a 79th minute leveller from Gylfi Sigurdsson.

Chelsea moved closer to the title with a comfortable 3-0 win at Everton.

A tight first hour saw the sides locked at 0-0 but the visitors took control with an opener from Pedro before Gary Cahill and Willian struck to seal the win.

Middlesbrough boosted their survival hopes with a 2-2 draw against Manchester City who missed the chance to move third. Boro opened the scoring six minutes before half-time as former City man Alvaro Negredo struck before Sergio Aguero levelled from the penalty spot on 69 minutes.

Callum Chambers restored the lead for the hosts just seven minutes later but they were to be denied a vital win by a leveller from Gabriel Jesus with five minutes remaining.

Tottenham cut the gap to Chelsea at the top with a 2-0 win over fierce rivals Arsenal who as a result would finish behind Spurs for the first time in over 20 years.

A four minute double for the hosts secured the points as Dele Alli struck ahead of a penalty from Harry Kane.

The final game of the gameweek saw Watford suffer a 1-0 defeat to a Liverpool side who strengthened their grip on third spot after capitalising on the woes of the sides below them. The Monday night game was settled in style as Emre Can struck with an overhead kick just before half-time.