BPL: Week Eighteen Review
Manchester City came back from a goal down to beat Liverpool 2-1 in an entertaining encounter at the Etihad Stadium. Manuel Pellegrini’s side closed to within one point of Premier League leaders, Arsenal, and kept their unbeaten home record intact. Philippe Coutinho gave the Reds a first-half lead, but the advantage was short-lived as Blues captain Vincent Kompany headed home the equalizer seven minutes later. City’s victory was secured on the brink of half time as Alvaro Negredo chipped over the floundering Simon Mignolet, the Spanish forward has now scored in his last nine appearances at the Etihad. Another positive for Pellegrini was the excellent performance from recently restored keeper Joe Hart, who denied Coutinho and Jordan Henderson either side of the interval. Liverpool, who topped the table on Christmas Day, slipped to fourth in the standings but will take encouragement from a performance which deserved a draw.
Arsenal returned to the top of the table with a 3-1 comeback victory over West Ham United at Upton Park. The Hammers had taken the lead early in the second half, courtesy of Carlton Cole who capitalized on a mistake from Arsenal keeper Wojciech Szczesny. However, Theo Walcott struck twice and Lukas Podolski netted a third to secure maximum points for Arsene Wenger’s team. The Gunners ended a run of four games in all competitions without victory. West Ham, on the other hand, slipped into 19th in the table and have won only one of their last 11 league games and will be desperate to respond at home to West Brom on Saturday.
Manchester United fought back from two goals down to beat Hull City 3-2 at the KC Stadium. The Tigers made a dream start to the match, James Chester volleyed home before David Meyler’s deflected shot gave them a two goal lead within 13 minutes. However, United pulled a goal back minutes later as Chris Smalling headed in a Wayne Rooney free-kick. David Moyes’ side were back on level terms in the 26th minute when Rooney scored a spectacular 20-yard volley, his 150th goal for the club. Hull’s Chester went from hero to villain as he headed into his own net in the second half to secure the win for Moyes’ men. The Scottish manager insisted after the game that United aren’t out of the title race, the Reds sit seventh in the table but are only 8 points behind league leaders Arsenal.
Eden Hazard scored the only goal as Chelsea beat Swansea 1-0 at Stamford Bridge. The victory was their fifth in seven league games and the Blues remain two points off the top of the Premier League. Hazard cut in from the left and drove in a shot to put Jose Mourinho’s side into the lead in the 29th minute. However, Mourinho has highlighted the lack of goals from his attack this season and this game will only increase his frustration as his side failed to turn their clear dominance into a more convincing victory.
Bottom of the table Sunderland recorded a surprising 1-0 victory over Everton at Goodison Park. Midfielder Ki Sung-Yeung’s penalty sealed the points for Gus Poyet’s side, after the South Korean had been fouled by American keeper Tim Howard, who was sent off. The victory was the Black Cat’s first success on the road since April, and they are the only team to beat Everton at home this season.
Newcastle United continued their impressive form as they emphatically beat nine-men Stoke City 5-1 at St. James’ Park. Oussama Assaidi had put Stoke into the lead, but the Potters had Glenn Whelan and Marc Wilson sent off in the first half. The Magpies took full advantage and ran riot in the second half. Loic Remy scored twice to help Newcastle to their biggest win of the season, The Frenchman has now scored 10 goals this season. Alan Pardew’s side have lost just one of their last nine league matches.
Tottenham had to settle for a point as they were held to a 1-1 draw in Tim Sherwood’s first game as Spur’s manager. Christian Eriksen’s superb free-kick game the home Tottenham the lead but the Baggies responded two minutes through Jonas Olsson. Elsewhere on Boxing Day, Southampton ended a six-game winless run with a comprehensive 3-0 victory over troubled Cardiff City. Scott Parker fired a superb late winner as relegation-threatened Fulham secured a rare 2-1 away win against Norwich. Finally, Dwight Gayle’s injury-time winner moved Crystal Palace out of the Premier League bottom three as Aston Villa slumped to a fourth straight loss.
The Barclay’s Premier League continues Saturday the 28th and Sunday the 29th of December.
West Ham v West Brom
Aston Villa v Swansea
Hull v Fulham
Man City v Crystal Palace
Norwich v Man United
Cardiff v Sunderland
Everton v Southampton
Newcastle v Arsenal
Chelsea v Liverpool
Tottenham v Stoke City
Sources: BBC Sport, sportsmole.co.ukBPL: Week Eighteen Review by Craig Smith