Crystal Palace made it three wins in a row with a 1-0 victory over Aston Villa on Saturday. Jason Puncheon scored the winner with fifteen minutes remaining. Pulis’ men have become very difficult to beat and Speroni and co performed well again, keeping another clean-sheet. Villa find themselves being slowly dragged into the relegation battle and will need have to turn their form around before its too late.
Felix Magath led Fulham to a 1-0 win against a Norwich City who were playing their first game since Chris Hughton’s dismissal. Hugo Rodallega scored the only goal. With Norwich’s remaining games being against Liverpool, Manchester United, Chelsea and Arsenal they must now be favourites for the drop. They sit in 17th place, two points ahead of Fulham and three ahead of Cardiff. No other team facing the drop has such a tough run-in however and it is hard to see where they could pick up any more points.
Cardiff City continue to be the most consistently inconsistent team in the division. Cala scored in what is possibly there most impressive away performance all season. Pochettino and Southampton seem to be just stumbling to the end of the season now with the World Cup or summer holidays on the minds of the first-team squad.
Stoke and Newcastle met in an end-of-season mid-table dead-rubber of a game. Pieters scored the only goal in what was another 1-0 scoreline at the weekend. Only two of the weekends eight games did not finish with a 1-0 scoreline.
A Wes Brown own-goal gave Everton the three points in a huge game for both teams. As a result Sunderland remain rooted to the bottom of the table and are now seven points from safety. It’s looking grim for Poyet and his troops. Everton have now won six in a row and are two points clear of Arsenal in 4th.
Spurs completed a fine comeback and got a 3-3 draw at the Hawthorns after being 3-0 in the first half to the hosts. West Brom impressed from the start and Vydra and Brunt had them two up within five minutes. Sessegnon made it 3-0 on the half-hour mark before Spurs fought back through a Jonas Olsson own-goal, a strike from youngster Harry Kane and an injury-time equaliser from the in form Christian Eriksen.
The title race was the focus on Sunday. Liverpool hosted City on an emotional afternoon at Anfield. The lives of those 96 souls who passed at Hillsborough were remembered on this the 25th anniversary. Credit to City and their fans who done themselves proud, respecting the minutes silence impeccably. The game itself certainly lived up to its billing. Liverpool started strongly and Sterling had them one up after six minutes. Skrtel made it two twenty minutes later with a headed effort from a Gerrard corner. City fought back in the second-half and David Silva scored the first and forced the own-goal off Glen Johnson for the equaliser. There were thirty minutes left at this stage and City now looked the stronger of the two teams. Liverpool showed a calmness and character however that would lead you to believe that maybe now they actually are capable of winning the title. An uncharacteristic Vincent Kompany mis-kick sent the ball rolling into Coutinho’s path in the box. The little Brazilian finished it brilliantly with his first-time effort, making it 3-2 with twelve minutes left. That was how it finished. There was more drama as the over-eager Jordan Henderson got a straight red for his challenge in injury-time. Henderson now misses three of the last four games through suspension. Yaya Toure limped off during the game for City and Liverpool’s Sturridge also left the field injured. Both sets of fans will be awaiting updates on these inuries.
Chelsea went to Swansea with the pressure on. They knew they needed to win to keep up with Liverpool and initially struggled to break Swansea down, even after Chico Flores’ sixteenth minute dismissal for his second yellow card. Demba Ba chanced a hopeful shot from twenty-five yards in the second half and Vorm will be disappointed with himself that he did not keep it out. It was enough to give Chelsea the points and keeps them within two of Liverpool.
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In what is the most exciting run-in for years in the Premier League we take a look at the form of the top three along with their remaining fixtures.
Liverpool enter this critical period as the form team. The Red’s have been in free-scoring form and are on an eight-game winning streak at the moment. Defensively they are still suspect although three clean-sheets in their last five games shows signs of a slight improvement in that area.
Liverpool’s next two games at Anfield are against their chief title-chasing rivals. Simply put, if Rodgers’ men win their remaining games they will be crowned league champions for the first time since 1990. However, that would mean completing a fourteen-game winning streak, matching Arsenal’s record run from February 2002 until August of that year.
Brendan Rodgers’ summation of Suarez and Sturridge both being ‘soloists’ rather than an interlinking partnership seems to be a fair assessment of their strike-force. Rodgers and the Liverpool fans won’t mind if they continue to add to the forty-nine goals they’ve managed already together this season.
Youngsters such as Henderson, Sterling, Coutinho and Flanagan have grown into their roles and no matter what the end result in May, this experience will serve them well in the years ahead.
Special mention also has to go to Martin Skrtel who started the season as the fourth choice centre-half. Instead of pouting however Skrtel kept plugging away and when injury’s to Sakho and Agger gave him his opportunity back in the first-team he took it with both hands. The Slovakian international has chipped in with six goals this season as well including recent braces against Arsenal and Cardiff City.
Liverpool’s remaining fixtures:
April 6th – West Ham United (A); April 13th – Manchester City (H); April 20th – Norwich City (A); April 27th – Chelsea (H); May 3rd – Crystal Palace (A); May 11th – Newcastle United (H)
Mourinho’s men have lost two of their last three league games (1-0 away to both Villa and Palace). Those defeats came either side of a fantastic 6-0 drubbing of Arsenal at Stamford Bridge. Mourinho has been intent on playing down their chances in the title race to keep the pressure off of his team. It remains to be seen what effect this approach will have had on Hazard, Oscar, Terry et al come May. Mourinho has also highlighted the fact that Chelsea still have the Champions League as an added distraction, facing PSG in the upcoming quarter-finals.
John Terry has experienced a huge upturn in his form since the self-titled ‘Special One’s’ return. The centre-back’s performances have led to public forum’s requesting his return to the national team for Brazil this summer.
Eden Hazard has been the star of the season for the Blue’s, leading their scoring charts and creating plenty of opportunities for the misfiring Torres. Eto’o has slowly shown signs of what he is capable of and his goals may have proved vital when the dust eventually settles.
Cesar Azpilicueta has been a revelation at left-back, keeping Ashley Cole out of the starting eleven. Re-signing Matic was also a great move for Chelsea with the young giant making the defensive-midfielder role his own. He is an extremely imposing presence for any opposing midfielders to come up against.
Chelsea’s remaining fixtures:
April 5th – Stoke City (H); April 13th – Swansea City (A); April 20th – Sunderland (H); April 27th – Liverpool (A); May 3rd – Norwich City (H); May 11th – Cardiff City (A)
City are many peoples favourites for the title. The blue side of Manchester has already tasted success this season after defeating Sunderland in the Capital One Cup final. Due to their progression in that competition as well as their FA Cup and Champions League exploits (both competitions are now finished for City) they are slightly behind in their league schedule. City have two games in hand on Liverpool and Chelsea.
Yaya Toure has been a consistent City performer for a few years now but this season he has taken his goalscoring to a level never reached before. The midfield-dynamo has seventeen goals in twenty-eight games in the league so far this season. Next to Toure in the scoring charts is the infrequently-fit Aguero. Argentina’s frontman has only managed seventeen appearances this season but he has managed fifteen goals in those games.
Manager Manuel Pellegrini arrived last summer at the Etihad Stadium. Pellegrini’s arrival followed that of pacy winger, Jesus Navas, from La Liga and Brazilian midfielder Fernandinho from Shakthar Donetsk. Fernandinho has proved in many ways to be the perfect foil for Yaya Toure in the centre of midfield. This has led to Toure being able to contribute more in the attacking third than in previous seasons.
David Silva has also had to contend with injury this season, managing just eighteen games so far and scoring five goals. Silva does look to be back to his best in recent weeks however and can still conjure a goal out of nothing.
Manchester City’s remaining fixtures:
April 5th – Southampton (H); April 13th – Liverpool (A); April 16th – Sunderland (H); April 21st – West Bromwich Albion (H); April 27th – Crystal Palace (A); May 3rd – Everton (A); May 7th – Aston Villa (H); May 11th – West Ham United (H)
Let us know your predictions for where the title is going in May. Just drop us a line in the comments section below.
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Liverpool returned to the top of the table with an impressive 4-0 defeat of Spurs at Anfield. Suarez and co were in scintillating form and never looked back after Younes Kaboul’s own-goal in the first two minutes.
Wayne Rooney put away two goals (one penalty) for Manchester United as they came from behind to beat Aston Villa 4-1. ‘Planegate’ had threatened to overshadow the game but Moyes’ men reacted well after Westwood’s opener for Villa.
Arsenal restored some pride with a solid performance, holding Manchester City to a -1-1 draw at the Emirates.
Mourinho’s Chelsea fell to a 1-0 defeat at Crystal Palace, a result that may have huge repercussions at both ends of the table come the end of the season.
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English Premier League
This weekend there were only eight matches on due to the Capital One Cup Final (Commiserations to Sunderland and Congrats to Manchester City after an entertaining 3-1 win for the blue half of Manchester).
The results were as follows:
Everton 1 – 0 West Ham United
Fulham 1 – 3 Chelsea
Hull City 1 – 4 Newcastle United
Stoke City 1 – 0 Arsenal
Southampton 0 – 3 Liverpool
Aston Villa 4 – 1 Norwich City
Swansea City 1 – 1 Crystal Palace
Tottenham Hotspur 1 – 0 Cardiff City
Chelsea remain on top, four points ahead of Liverpool and Arsenal. Manchester City are two points further back but have two games in hand. Spurs kept their hopes of a Champions League spot alive with their win over Cardiff on Sunday. Spurs are four points behind City and six behind their North London rivals, Arsenal and also Liverpool.
At the other end Fulham remain rooted to the bottom, one point behind Cardiff and three behind Sunderland. Poyet’s men do have two games in hand though and with their current league form it is hard to see them being relegated come May. The teams outside of the relegation zone who are within touching distance of Sunderland are West Brom, Crystal Palace and Norwich City (17th, 16th and 15th respectively).
Next weekend sees only five top-flight fixtures because of the FA Cup fixtures.
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