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Barclay’s Premier League Wrap-up Week 18

 Posted by on December 26, 2014 at 10:13 pm  England, EPL
Dec 262014
Premier League

Chelsea 2 – 0 West Ham

The Blues knock the Hammers out of the top four. So it’s that time of the season when certain things are decided at the top and bottom of the BPL table. It’s been pretty much decided that the Blues and Manchester City will be contending for the BPL Trophy. Although the Hammers nearly scored an early goal in the first minute on Friday, they were never going to beat the Blues at Stamford Bridge. The Blues dictated most of the play from that point forward. It was in the 31st minute that captain John Terry powered home a Diego Costa corner kick into the bottom left corner of the goal to open the scoring. Midfielder Nemanja Matic nearly doubled the home side’s lead in the 33rd minute when his shot from an Eden Hazard pass was saved by Hammers’ keeper Adrian. Hazard should have scored himself in the 51st minute when his shot from a Willian assist was saved by keeper Adrian. Costa would get the second goal for the Blues in the 61st minute when Hazard set him up to slot the ball home into the bottom right corner of the net. Costa nearly had another in the 65th minute when his shot from a Branislav Ivanovic cross missed the goal off to the left. And so the Blues dominated the rest of the match. Although Hammers’ substitute midfielder Morgan Amalfitano narrowly missed a header to get a goal back, the Blues eased on to the win and now are getting ready for their trip to St. Mary’s Stadium to face Southampton on Sunday.

Burnley 0 – 1 Liverpool

Raheem Sterling’s second half goal gets the Reds their first win in four BPL matches. The Clarets really messed up on Friday. They needed to win to lift themselves out of the bottom three and give themselves a fighting chance to stay in the BPL. They had several chances to take the early lead and even got a wonderful opportunity to take advantage of the Reds, when in the 16th minute, Reds’ keeper Bradley Jones had to be replaced by Simon Mignolet due to a leg injury. Mignolet has not had a good season so far and was nearly scored on in the 21st minute when Clarets’ striker Ashley Barnes’s header from a Dean Marney cross was just over the goal. Marney nearly hit a shot from distance as the first half came to a close, but his attempt was also over the goal. The Reds luck came through for them in the 62nd minute when Sterling, clearly their best player at the moment, powered in a Philippe Coutinho through pass into the bottom left corner of the goal. Coutinho nearly doubled the Reds’ lead in the 71st minute when his shot from a Steven Gerrard assist was blocked by the Clarets’ defense. The Clarets, on the other hand, just couldn’t put keeper Mignolet under any pressure. Although Danny Ings, Scott Arfield and Ben Mee each had opportunities, none of them troubled the Reds’ goal keeper. So Liverpool move up to ninth in the table and wait for Swansea to come to Anfield on Monday.

Crystal Palace 1 – 3 Southampton

The Saints get back to winning ways as they beat Palace at Selhurst Park. Saints’ boss Ronald Koeman is breathing a sigh of relief after the match on Friday. His side are back up to fourth place in the BPL table and are playing a bit better in their last two matches. They opened the scoring in the 17th minute when midfielder Sadio Mane scored from a James Ward-Prowse assist. Although Mile Jedinak and Jason Puncheon both had chances to level the score in the first half, the Saints were able to successfully take their lead into the locker-room at half time. Saints’ defender Ryan Bertrand doubled their lead in the 47th minute when he placed a Mane cross into the top right corner of the Palace goal. The third Saint’s goal came in the 53rd minute when defender Toby Alderweireld headed in a Ward-Prowse corner kick. They nearly had a fourth in the 59th minute when a Nathaniel Clyne shot was saved by Palace keeper Julian Speroni. Palace did get a compensation goal in the 85th minute when Scott Dann headed in a Jedinak free-kick cross. But that was all the offense that they could muster and now they’re in the bottom three with a trip to Loftus Road to play Queens Park Rangers coming up on Sunday.

Everton 0 – 1 Stoke

Bojan Krkic’s first half penalty kick is good enough for the win for the Potters. What the heck is going on with the Toffees? This was a match that they should have easily won. But they just couldn’t put together any quality chances. They should have scored in the 32nd minute when Kevin Mirallas found Gareth Barry with a cross. But the midfielder’s shot from close range missed the goal off to the left. Romelu Lukaku had his shot from range blocked by the defense in the 34th minute. They were on the wrong end of a controversial referee decision in the 35th minute when Jonathan Walters dragged down Leighton Baines when the Toffees defender appeared to be away on a goal-scoring chance. The fans at Goodison Park were demanding Walters be sent off for the offense, but the referee decided only a yellow card was warranted. If the fans weren’t already angry with the referee, they got really upset in the 37th minute when the Potters were awarded the spot kick after Toffees’ defender James McCarthy was penalized for fouling Bojan in the Toffees’ penalty area. The Spaniard converted the spot kick to put the Potters into the lead. The Toffees had a chance to level the score in first half stoppage time when Gareth Barry’s shot from distance was saved by Potters’ keeper Asmir Begovic. Things went from bad to worse for the Toffees as the second half got started. They had to replace keeper Tim Howard and defender Phil Jagielka with Joel Robles and Antolin Alcaraz due to injury. Lukaku had his chance to level saved in the 62nd minute as his shot from a Steven Naismith pass was knocked away by keeper Begovic. Begovic was the man again in the 64th minute when he saved a shot from Steven Naismith. Begovic was able to save a 79th minute shot from Lukaku and that pretty much took care of anymore Toffee attacks. Can they turn things around on Sunday when they travel to Tyne-side to play Newcastle?

Leicester 1 – 2 Tottenham

Christian Eriksen’s second half goal gives Spurs their third straight win and extends the Foxes winless streak to 13 matches. The press in England is speculating that Foxes’ boss Nigel Pearson could be one of the first managers to lose his job. They’re sitting at the foot of the BPL table and just don’t seem to have what it takes to stay in the BPL. They fell behind in the first minute on Friday to a Harry Kane finish from a Nacer Chadli cross. They did manage to level the score in the 48th minute when Leonardo Ulloa hit a close range shot into the bottom right corner of the goal. Jeffrey Schlupp should have given the Foxes the lead in the 66th minute when his shot from a David Nugent assist was saved by Spurs’ keeper Hugo Lloris. They were made to pay for that miss in the 70th minute when Spurs were awarded a free-kick in the attacking third and Eriksen was able to hit it into the bottom left corner of the goal. Wes Morgan had a chance to equalize for the Foxes deep into stoppage time, but his header from a Matthew James cross was saved by keeper Lloris. So while the Foxes aren’t finished yet, they need some sort a revival when they travel to Hull on Sunday.

Manchester United 3 – 1 Newcastle

Wayne Rooney gets two as the Red Devils beat the Magpies at Old Trafford. This was the Red Devils’ 11 Boxing Day win in a row and Friday’s victory extends their unbeaten run to eight BPL matches. They had to do without Angel Di Maria again as the central midfielder injured his leg again while training midweek. The Magpies beat United last season at Old Trafford and nearly scored in the 19th minute when Daryl Janmaat’s shot from an Adam Armstrong assist was saved by United keeper David De Gea. The home side took the lead in the 23rd minute when Falcao cut through the Magpies’ defense and setup Wayne Rooney who powered home into the center of the goal. Falcao nearly scored himself in the 26th minute when his header from an Ashley Young cross missed the goal off to the right. Rooney got his second in the 36th minute when midfielder Juan Mata set up with a through ball and the United captain found the bottom left corner with his shot. Magpies striker Moussa Sissoko nearly got a goal back for his side in the 40th minute when his shot from distance was saved by keeper De Gea. In the 52nd minute, Rooney was the provider as he hit a through ball for Robin Van Persie to head into the bottom right corner for the third goal. The Red Devils conceded a penalty kick in the 85th minute when defender Phil Jones was penalized for tripping midfielder Jack Colback in the penalty area. Papiss Cisse converted the spot kick with a fine shot into the top right corner of the goal. But that was the only attack the visitors would be able to make. So Manchester United are off to London to face Tottenham on Sunday and Newcastle will be headed back to Tyne-side to take on Everton.

Sunderland 1 – 3 Hull

The Tigers end their 10 match winless streak and haul themselves out of the bottom three. There has been a lot of talk about Tigers’ boss Steve Bruce’s job being in jeopardy. The speculators have penciled in Tony Pulis as Bruce’s replacement and there were pretty strong feelings that would happen when the Tigers went behind in the first minute to an Adam Johnson goal. The Black Cats were still feeling great from winning the Tyne-Wear Derby last Saturday. So they were coasting a bit and conceded the equalizer in the 32nd minute. David Meyler set up Gaston Ramirez and the Tigers’ striker hit his shot into the bottom right corner of the goal. The Black Cats nearly took back the lead in the 42nd minute when Santiago Vergini’s shot from a Ricardo Alvarez assist was saved by Tigers’ keeper Allan McGregor. Hull took the lead in the 51st minute when James Chester headed in Ramirez’s corner-kick. Sone Aluko nearly finished off the match in the 55th minute when his shot from distance was saved by Black Cats’ keeper Costel Pantilimon. The Tigers did finish things off in stoppage time when Nikica Jelavic finished off an assist by Ahmed Elmohamady into the bottom right corner of the goal. Hull are home to bottom club Leicester on Sunday so they should be able to secure their place in the BPL. Sunderland are off to Birmingham to play Aston Villa. That will be a tough one for them.

Swansea 1 – 0 Aston Villa

Gylfi Sigurdsson’s first half free-kick goal is good enough for the win for the Swans. It was raining buckets in Wales on Friday. It was the last thing the Villains needed as they’ve not won a match in their last three tries. It was the Swans first Boxing Day win since 2007 and lifts them up to eighth place in the BPL table. For the Villains, the loss drops them to 13th place and now they haven’t won on Boxing Day since 2005. The Swans dominated the first half as the Villains just couldn’t get anything going in the rain-soaked pitch. Swansea earned a free-kick in the 12th minute when midfielder Jefferson Montero was fouled by Villains’ defender Jores Okore in their defending third. Sigurdsson was able to curl the free-kick past Villains’ keeper Brad Guzan into the top right corner of the goal. Villains’ striker Gabriel Agbonlahor had a chance to level the score in the 45th minute, but his header from a Fabian Delph free-kick cross missed the goal off to the left. Agbonlahor missed another chance in the 55th minute when his shot from an Andreas Weimann assist missed the goal off to the right. In the 62nd minute, Villains’ midfielder Andreas Weimann had his shot from a Tom Cleverley pass saved by Swans’ keeper Lukasz Fabianski. But try as they might, the Villains just couldn’t crack the Swans defense as shots from Benteke, Agbonlahor, and Hutton just wouldn’t go in. Swansea will head to Liverpool to play the Reds on Monday while Aston Villa hope for a win against Sunderland on Sunday.

West Bromwich Albion 1 – 3 Manchester City

The Champions get an easy win over the Baggies to keep pace with Chelsea. The snowstorm that engulfed The Hawthorns Stadium on Friday seemed to hurt the Baggies more than Citeh. The Baggies fell behind in the eighth minute when Citeh midfielder Fernando knocked in a loose ball that the Baggies defense just couldn’t clear. Things went from bad to worse for the Baggies in the 12th minute when defender Joleon Lescott fouled Citeh midfielder David Silva in the Baggies penalty area. Yaya Toure converted the spot kick into the bottom left corner of the goal. Jesus Navas nearly made it three in the 17th minute when his shot from a Toure assist was saved by Baggies’ keeper Ben Foster. Silva was able to get the third goal for the Champions in the 34th minute when he slotted home Navas’ assist into the bottom left corner of the goal. After that the snow really started coming down, making things almost impossible to see. The weather didn’t matter that much to the Champions as they had the match won. The Baggies just weren’t able to penetrate the Citeh defense and any shots taken were dealt with by keeper Joe Hart. They did get a goal in the 86th minute when Brown Ideye scored from a James Morrison corner-kick. Ideye was able to take advantage of a sight mix-up in the Citeh defense and poke home the loose ball. But that was all they could get and now they’re off to meet Stoke on Sunday while the Champions should be able to keep pace with Chelsea when they host Burnely on Sunday.

Arsenal 2 – 1 Queens Park Rangers

Ten-man Arsenal get the win over QPR. Although the Gunners got the win, boss Arsene Wenger knows that this was not one of their better performances. They were playing a QPR side who were fighting with all they had to stay out of the bottom three. The Gunners had the first chance to score in the eighth minute when they were awarded a penalty kick. QPR defender Armand Traore was penalized for tripping Gunners’ midfielder Alexis Sanchez. Sanchez took the spot kick but it was saved by QPR keeper Robert Green. Alexis finally did score in the 37th minute when he headed in a corner kick from Kieran Gibbs. Then in the 52nd minute, Gunners’ midfielder Olivier Giroud had a major brain-cramp. The French international and QPR midfielder Mauricio Isla got into a confrontation and Giroud was judged to have head-butted Isla and was sent off for the action. QPR should have been able to take advantage of the ten-man Gunners, but the opposite seemed to happen. Each time QPR went on the attack, the Gunners were able to with stand the pressure and make a great counter-attack. In the 64th minute, Sanchez started such an attack and it was completed when Tomas Rosicky scored from Sanchez’s cut-back pass. Isla nearly scored for QPR in the 69th minute when his shot from the right was saved by Gunners’ keeper Wojciech Szczesny. QPR earned their own penalty-kick in the 78th minute when Gunners’ defender Mathieu Debuchy tripped QPR midfielder Junior Hoilette in the Gunners’ penalty area. Charlie Austin converted the spot kick to give the visitors a bit of hope. But the closest they would get would be a shot from Eduardo Vargas in the 90th minute that was blocked by the Gunners’ defense. So while the win has the Gunners in sixth place and thinking about a top four finish again, they will be without Giroud for the next three matches. He will be missed when they travel to West Ham on Sunday. QPR hope to beat Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park on Sunday.

Lanny Short

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