Arsenal will end 2013 as Barclay’s Premier League leaders after overcoming a tough Newcastle United side at St. James’ Park on Sunday. Olivier Giroud ended a run of seven games without a goal to earn the Gunners a battling 1-0 victory against Alan Pardew’s in-form Newcastle. The Frenchman was on hand to head home Theo Walcott’s cross in the 65th minute. The result ensures that Arsene Wenger’s team will be top of the table on New Years Eve for the first time since the 2007-2008 season. The Gunners also have a favorable schedule heading into 2014, they face Cardiff, Aston Villa, and Fulham in their next three league outings. The Magpies, on the other hand, slipped to 8th in the table after their first loss since December 4th.
Manchester City remain second in the table, one point behind Arsenal, after a 1-0 win over Crystal Palace on Saturday. Edin Dzeko 50th goal for the club extended City’s 100% home record this season. Manuel Pellegrini’s side, who have averaged more than four goals a game this season, were left frustrated by a dogged performance from Tony Pulis’ Palace. The Blues have now scored in 60 consecutive home matches. Crystal Palace sit one spot above the relegation zone, albeit on goal difference.
Chelsea came from a goal down to beat Liverpool 2-1 in the marquee match-up of the weekend. The visitors, Liverpool, were ahead within three minutes as Martin Skrtel tapped in a Philippe Coutinho free-kick. However, Jose Mourinho’s Blues responded excellently and Eden Hazard restored parity with a fantastic strike in the 17th minute. Chelsea deservedly went ahead before the break when a Samuel Eto’o shot crept underneath keeper Simon Mignolet. The result means Mourinho’s side are third in the table heading into 2014, only 2 points behind Arsenal. Liverpool, who were top of the table on Christmas Day, have now suffered successive defeats and have slipped to 5th in the table.
Manchester United secured a fourth consecutive Premier League win with a hard fought 1-0 victory over Norwich City at Carrow Road. The visitors, who were without the injured Wayne Rooney, struggled to create chances in the first half and introduced Danny Welbeck at the break. The England forward made the difference for David Moyes’ side and gave United the lead in the 57th minute. Norwich struggled to respond and are now without a win in four league games. The victory moves the reigning champions up to 6th in the table, only 3 points off the top four.
Everton bounced back from a surprise defeat by beating Southampton 2-1 at Goodison Park on Sunday. Seamus Coleman gave the Toffees the lead with a fine strike in the 9th minute. The Republic of Ireland defenders has now scored four goals this season. Saints substitute Gaston Ramirez leveled in the second half but Everton were back on the front foot only three minutes later. Romelu Lukaku converted James McCarthy’s incisive pass to seal victory. Roberto Martinez’s team will end the year in 4th, only 5 points behind Arsenal and have lost just once at home this season.
Elsewhere, Tottenham moved three points off the top four in the league with a comfortable 3-0 victory over Stoke City. The win provided Spurs head coach Tim Sherwood with his first win since taking over as permanent manager. West Ham remain in the Premier League’s bottom three after an entertaining 3-3 draw with fellow strugglers West Brom. Hull scored six second-half goals to thrash Fulham and go seven points clear of the Premier League relegation zone. Sunderland scored two late goals to rescue a Premier League point against Cardiff City in the first match since the Bluebirds sacked Malky Mackay. Finally, Aston Villa’s four-match losing run in the Premier League came to an end as they battled to a 1-1 draw with Swansea
Barclay’s Premier League action returns on New Years Day:
Swansea v Man City
Arsenal v Cardiff
Crystal Palace v Norwich
Fulham v West Ham
Liverpool v Hull
Southampton v Chelsea
Stoke v Everton
Sunderland v Aston Villa
West Brom v Newcastle
Man United v Tottenham
Source: BBC Sport, sportsmole.co.uk