ENGLISH PREMIER LEAGUE WEEK 26 ROUND UP
FULHAM 0 v 3 MANCHESTER UNITED
Manchester United moved up to fourth in the table, as Anthony Martial was in sensational form, making the first for Paul Pogba and scoring a wonderful second as United secured their 10th victory in 11 games under caretaker manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.
Pogba wrapped up the points in the second half when he stroked home from the penalty spot after Juan Mata was fouled in the area.
Despite fielding a much-changed defence, they were rarely troubled by a Fulham team who have now conceded 58 goals this season and remain firmly entrenched in the relegation zone.
United, on the other hand, have moved above Chelsea on 51 points with their recent stunning form pushing them into the hunt for an end-of-season Champions League spot.
CRYSTAL PALACE 1 v 1 WEST HAM UNITED
Wilfried Zaha’s deflected equaliser gave Palace a deserved point after an entertaining clash. The point puts Palace into 13th place, four points above the relegation zone.
Zaha surged into the West Ham area in the 75th minute and saw his shot from a tight angle hit the boot of Issa Diop before looping into the net to cancel out Mark Noble’s first-half penalty.
HUDDERSFIELD 1 v 2 ARSENAL
The result saw the Gunners, who remain sixth, move within a point of fourth-placed Manchester United and level on points with fifth-placed Chelsea.
Once Alex Iwobi’s strike deflected into the bottom right corner off defender Terence Kongolo, the visitors rarely looked like relinquishing the points in Yorkshire.
Alexandre Lacazette’s tidy finish from Ainsley Maitland-Niles’ cross ensured victory despite a late Huddersfield fight-back.
After Iwobi and Lacazette had squandered chances to increase Arsenal’s winning margin, Adama Diakhaby and Laurent Depoitre both went close to scoring for the hosts.
And while Saed Kolasinac’s own goal represented Huddersfield’s first, in 597 minutes of football, it was not enough to retrieve a point.
Huddersfield remains marooned at the bottom of the table, 13 points from safety with 12 games remaining.
LIVERPOOL 3 v 0 BOURNEMOUTH
Liverpool returned to the top of the Premier League with a composed display at Anfield that sent Bournemouth to an eighth successive away defeat.
Three days after Manchester City moved top on goal difference, Jurgen Klopp’s side responded in emphatic style to talk that the pressure of a title race was showing in their performances.
After a cagey opening in which Ryan Fraser tested Liverpool goalkeeper Alisson, Sadio Mane settled any nerves by powerfully heading home James Milner’s cross.
Mane, who looked fractionally offside, has now scored in four successive Premier League games for the first time. Georginio Wijnaldum doubled the lead with a sublime lob over the helpless Artur Boruc.
Moments after the break, Naby Keita and Roberto Firmino combined in a move to present Mohamed Salah with a simple finish from 10 yards, his 20th goal in all competitions this season.
Klopp’s side never looked in danger of losing their lead and moved on to 65 points.
SOUTHAMPTON 1 v 2 CARDIFF CITY
Kenneth Zohore struck in the third minute of stoppage time to earn the visitors all three points on an emotional afternoon for the Welsh side, who continue to mourn the death of record signing Emiliano Sala.
Jack Stephens looked to have rescued a point for the hosts moments earlier when he tapped Charlie Austin’s flick-on past Neil Etheridge at the far post.
Sol Bamba had opened the scoring for Neil Warnock’s side, beating Alex McCarthy from close range with the visitors’ first effort on, Southampton now slips into the bottom three for the first time since early January.
The win lifts Cardiff out of the relegation zone and into 15th place.
WATFORD 1 v 0 EVERTON
Much was promised of a game that saw Marco Silva return to Vicarage Road for the first time, but neither side was able to raise their game.
Half-time substitute Andre Gray scored the only goal of the match midway through the second half when he tapped in Will Hughe’s low cross following a fine volleyed pass from Craig Cathcart.
Everton goalkeeper Jordan Pickford had earlier been alert to keep out Etienne Capoue and Gerard Deulofeu, while Watford’s Ben Foster saved well to deny Cenk Tosun.
Substitute Dominic Calvert-Lewin twice should have done better with headers, but the Hornets deserve credit for how they defended in the latter stages of the game.
The result consigns Everton to their third straight Premier League defeat, keeping them ninth, while Watford moves four points clear of the Toffees in eighth.
BRIGHTON 1 v 3 BURNLEY
Chris Wood scored twice and goalkeeper Tom Heaton produced a series of outstanding saves as Burnley eased their relegation worries with victory at Brighton.
Burnley is now unbeaten in seven league games and finds themselves level on 27 points with the Brighton three above the relegation zone.
Wood’s five goals in those seven games have been important in his side’s new year resurgence, but it has been the displays of 32-year-old Tom Heaton in goal, that have given Sean Dyche’s side the platform.
At Amex Stadium, he excelled again twice denying Pascal Gross and making another brilliant block to keep out an effort from Solly March.
The opening goal of the match came as a consequence of a slip by Lewis Dunk. Ashley Barnes hooked the ball forward to Wood, who stayed on his feet as the defender fell and finished with a rocket of a shot past Mat Ryan.
His second was a strike bent into the bottom-right corner from a Dwight McNeil pass. Ashley Barnes should have made it 3-0 from open play, but was brought down as he tried to take the ball around Ryan. The keeper was shown yellow and Barnes slotted in against his former club.
Heaton was finally beaten in the 76th minute when Shane Duffy stooped to head home from Anthony Knockaert’s free-kick.
Just as an aside, I played my first ever football league game away at Burnley, when I was seventeen years old (many moons ago).
TOTTENHAM HOTSPURS 3 v 1 LEICESTER CITY
Tottenham ensured they remain in contention in the Premier League title race as Mauricio Pochettino’s side earned a victory against Leicester at Wembley.
Christian Eriksen provided a pin-point cross to set up Davinson Sanchez’s first Tottenham goal after 33 minutes, before producing a moment of quality to double the hosts’ advantage from the edge of the area in the second half.
The Dane’s strike came just three minutes after omitted Leicester striker Jamie Vardy (how manager Puel can leave a player of Vardy’s quality on the bench is quite unbelievable) emerged from the bench in dramatic fashion to take a penalty on the hour mark only to be denied by goalkeeper Hugo Lloris.
Vardy made a demonstrable difference to Leicester’s attack and converted from Ricardo Pereira’s low cross to set up a tense finish before the in-form Son Heung-min made sure of a home win in stoppage time.
It’s a fourth consecutive league win for Tottenham who remains in touch with Liverpool and Manchester City at the summit with 12 league games remaining.
Leicester’s board will seriously be looking at the tenure of manager Puel, it appears that things are not good behind the scenes and it may well be time to go.
MANCHESTER CITY 6 v 0 CHELSEA
After this massacre, Chelsea manager Sarri must also be under pressure.
Sergio Aguero was Manchester City’s hat-trick hero again as they returned to the top of the Premier League in scintillating style by outclassing Chelsea at Etihad Stadium.
Liverpool’s win against Bournemouth meant Pep Guardiola’s side needed a victory to return to the summit, albeit having played one game more.
And their job was done after a sensational opening burst brought four goals in the first 25 minutes as Chelsea were left bedraggled, humiliated and on the receiving end of their worst defeat since they lost 7-0 at Nottingham Forest in April 1991.
The rout started after four minutes when Chelsea was caught napping by Kevin De Bruyne’s quick free-kick which left Raheem Sterling to fire in at the far post before Aguero, who had already missed an open goal, curled a magnificent right-foot finish past the stretching Kepa Arrizabalaga from 25 yards.
Chelsea’s embarrassment was symbolised by Ross Barkley’s inexplicable header straight to the feet of Aguero to poach his second and Ilkay Gundogan capped that early blitz with a low drive.
Aguero completed his hat-trick from the penalty spot after 56 minutes following Cesar Azpilicueta’s foul on Sterling, his 15th treble for City and a record-equalling 11th in the Premier League, an honour he shares with Alan Shearer. It was also his second in successive home games after his hat-trick in the 3-1 win against Arsenal.
Sterling then piled on the agony for Chelsea with the sixth, turning in from six yards after David Silva’s threaded pass released Oleksandr Zinchenko down the left.
Mr Abromavich will not be happy.
In my predictions, I got six correct results no one spot on the score line.
Please see following my week 27 and week 28 Predictions:
Cardiff City 2 v 1 Watford
West Ham United 3 v 1 Fulham
Burnley 1 v 3 Tottenham Hotspur
Bournemouth 1 v 2 Wolves
Newcastle 2 v 1 Huddersfield
Leicester City 2 v 1 Crystal Palace
Arsenal 3 v 1 Southampton
Manchester United 1 v 2 Liverpool
Cardiff City 1 v 2 Everton
Huddersfield 1 v 2 Wolves
Leicester City 2 v 1 Brighton
Newcastle 2 v 1 Burnley
Arsenal 3 v 1 Bournemouth
Southampton 2 v 1 Fulham
Chelsea 1 v 3 Spurs
Crystal Palace 1 v 2 Manchester United
Liverpool 3 v 1 Watford
Manchester City 3 v 1 West Ham United
Have a good week,