Premier League Review – 30/2nd May

Tom Cleverley

Cleverley opens the scoring.

1. Everton 2-1 Bournemouth
Something to cheer about

The home fans witnessed an Everton win for the first time in nearly three-months after the Toffees narrowly defeated Bournemouth at Goodison Park.

Goals from Tom Cleverley and Leighton Baines proved to be enough, but Bournemouth had their chances and probably felt they didn’t deserve to head back south empty handed.

These teams are two of five competing for 11th place with just a couple of games remaining. Everton will be the spectators of a title winning party at the King Power stadium next week while Bournemouth look to end their run of three straight defeats with a win in their final home game of the season against West Brom. The Baggies currently sit one place above Eddie Howe’s side in 14th.

2. Newcastle 1-0 Crystal Palace
Patience with Townsend pays-off 

The former Tottenham midfielder scored his third goal in five games to give Newcastle three huge points.

Townsend was often groaned at during the first half as he frequently lost possession by cutting in from the right and running into trouble. But the supporters and Rafa Benitez in particular, were rewarded when the England international struck a 58th minute freekick into Wayne Hennessey’s top corner.

At the other end, Karl Darlow endeared himself to the locals with a penalty save that could well save the Magpies Premier League status. The keeper guessed the right way and parried Yohan Cabaye’s weak effort. The former Newcastle midfielder, who was booed and jeered throughout, failed to put his shot close enough to the corner.

Following the other results, Newcastle find themselves out of the drop zone for the first time since the 6th February. If they survive, this match and particularly, Darlow’s save will be looked back on as a key moment.

Jermain Defoe

Defoe is proving invaluable for Sunderland.

3. Stoke 1-1 Sunderland
Defoe’s last-gasp penalty salvages point

On the bright side, Stoke only conceded one as oppose to the four they have achieved in their previous three matches. Unfortunately, this one came in the fourth-minute of injury-time as Jermain Defoe held his nerve to earn another draw for the Black Cats.

Newcastle were leading at St James’ Park while Sam Allardyce was watching his side trail a Marko Arnautovic goal. The Sunderland manager felt it should have been disallowed for a foul from Peter Crouch on Younes Kaboul but the late penalty would have reduced Allardyce’s frustrations.

It is another game where defeat has been avoided but these increasing draws – six in their last eight – might not be enough come the 15th May.

4. Watford 3-2 Aston Villa
Deeney’s double in injury-time defeats Villa 

Aston Villa fans ironically celebrated a corner and chanted that they’d scored a goal in disbelief. Then reality hit harder than a Dele Alli punch as Troy Deeney provided the knockout blow of two injury-time goals to turn the game on its head.

The harsh sending off of Aly Cissokho in the 73rd minute had a big impact on a game that Villa looked likely to make only their fourth win of the season.

But Deeney had other ideas and an England call-up shouldn’t be out of the question if his form continues into next season.

5. West Brom 0-3 West Ham
Hammers continue pursuit of Europe

Another Mark Noble double for the second game running saw West Ham comfortably claim a win at the Hawthorns.

The English midfielder is having a fine end to the campaign and his performances could lead the side he captains into Europe next season.

West Ham currently sit five-points off Man City who are fourth. Given their goal difference, the Hammers will need to make up six-points in their final three games of the season to claim fourth spot. That means City will need to lose at home to Arsenal – feasible, and away to Swansea – less likely. But this has been a season of unpredictability so nothing can be ruled out.

If Slaven Bilic’s side beat Swansea and Man Utd in the final games at Upton Park, then they’ll at least be in the driving seat for their first fifth place finish in the Premier League since 1999.

Danny Welbeck

Welbeck grabbed the only goal of the game.

6. Arsenal 1-0 Norwich
Wenger protests mar narrow win

A minority of fans protested against Arsene Wenger and the lack of progress made by his side during the last decade.

Whereas Norwich are fighting for their lives, Arsenal are fighting for Champions League football. It was a far from convincing win against Alex Neil’s valiant men which did little to deter the protests or disgruntlement. But Danny Welbeck, a second-half substitute, was the difference and this win has put Arsenal in a strong position for third, let alone fourth, following Man City’s loss at St. Mary’s.

Norwich are now in the worst position out of the three trying to avoid relegation. Three straight defeats have set the Canaries back and they’ll need at least two wins out of the remaining matches (Man Utd – H, Watford – H, and Everton – A) to stand a chance of survival.

7. Swansea 3-1 Liverpool
Swans too much for young Reds

Jurgen Klopp fielded the youngest side in Liverpool’s Premier League history, and it showed as Swansea won their fourth consecutive home game.

Danny Ward (22), Brad Smith (22), Kevin Stewart (22), Pedro Chirivella (18), Sheyi Ojo (18) and Jordan Ibe (20) all started for the Reds, but whilst each player has shown promise during various outings for the first team, this proved to be one too many games and perhaps youngsters. Their senior colleagues did little to help and support them either.

It was a collectively poor performance from the start and several of the youngsters appear best off gaining some regular first-team football elsewhere next season.

Swansea meanwhile, put in a professional performance led by Andre Ayew who got his first goals since late-January. The Ghanaian forward has had a quiet second half of the season but has still chipped in with 10 goals during his debut campaign. The Swans are likely to lose manager Francesco Guidolin – possibly to Watford, but they’ll be hoping to keep Ayew on their books.

Wes Morgan

Wes Morgan equalisers at Old Trafford.

8. Man Utd 1-1 Leicester
All square at the Theatre of almost Dreams

Leicester went into this game knowing a win would guarantee them the Premier League title.

But Man Utd had ambitions of their own as they try to rein in Man City and Arsenal in search of a top-four finish.

United got off to a great start with Leicester looking a little nervous. Anthony Martial’s goal gave the home side the lead but then Leicester started to find their feet.

Captain West Morgan equalised with a header that no one was stopping him from getting to and that was how the game ended despite several opportunities, particularly during an engrossing first half.

It was a shame that Leicester couldn’t win it at Old Trafford, particularly for Kasper Schmeichel whose father, Peter, won the league on five occasions during a very successful eight-year career at the Theatre of Dreams.

But the Foxes would be rewarded belatedly following Tottenham’s result away at Chelsea.

9. Southampton 4-2 Man City
Sweet FA logic

A weakened Man City couldn’t handle the trio of Dusan Tadic, Shane Long and hat-trick hero Sadio Mane.

Despite City’s riches, their second string side couldn’t compete with Southampton much to Manuel Pellegrini’s disappointment. Those in the first 11 failed to make a claim for another start in the delicately poised second-leg against Real Madrid on Wednesday.

But whilst some changes were always going to happen given the importance of the midweek fixture, many others were forced due to the incompetence of the FA scheduling.

The leagues of the other Champions League semi-finalists protected their teams this weekend. Bayern Munich kicked off at 2:30 p.m. on Saturday, while Real and Atletico Madrid started their games at 3:00 p.m. and 5:15 p.m. respectively. So why did City have to travel down to St. Mary’s for a 4:30 p.m. kick-off on Sunday ahead of their trip to Madrid? Answer: The FA and Premier League are as logical as an acrophobic pilot.

When PSG – the side City defeated in the quarter-finals – played away to Real Madrid during the group stages on Tuesday 3rd November, they played the league match before on Friday 30th October to allow them as much rest time as possible. That’s Ligue 1 doing its bit for a team that is now 27-points ahead of second with a game in hand!

It seems like either the TV rights deals have too much control over scheduling or the FA and Premier League are content to put one of their Champions League spots in jeopardy.

10. Chelsea 2-2 Tottenham
Hazard’s stunner sinks Spurs’ title challenge 

Leicester City were crowned Premier League champions after Tottenham surrendered a two-goal lead at Stamford Bridge.

Mauricio Pochettino’s men looked determined to take the title race to at least one more game by claiming a first victory at Chelsea in 26 years. That looked likely when the league’s top scorer, Harry Kane, put his side in front before Heung-Min Son doubled their advantage a minute before half-time.

It looked like Spurs would get rid of their hoodoo at the Bridge but Gary Cahill’s goal just before the hour mark brought the Blues back into what was a fiery local derby.

Eden Hazard then scored his first home goal in a year as he latched onto Diego Costa’s pass before curling his effort into the top right corner with ten minutes to go.

Tottenham never recovered and the four-points dropped in their last two games have prematurely brought their title challenge to an end.