ENGLISH PREMIER LEAGUE ROUND UP WEEK 25

 In Gary Mabbutt Blog

LEICESTER CITY 0 v 1 MAN UNITED

Manchester United extended their unbeaten run under interim boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer to 10 games with a narrow victory against Leicester at the King Power Stadium. Marcus Rashford continued his goalscoring form with the winner in the ninth minute, his 10th goal of the season.

Ricardo Pereira’s poor clearance was straight into the path of Paul Pogba, who lofted the ball towards Rashford, the England striker allowing it to come over his shoulder before taking a neat touch and drilling a low shot past Kasper Schmeichel.

MAN CITY 3 v 1 ARSENAL

Sergio Aguero’s 14th hat-trick for Manchester City closed the gap on Premier League leaders Liverpool to only two points after victory over Arsenal at Etihad Stadium.

Aguero, as he did in Tuesday’s shock defeat at Newcastle United put the reigning champions ahead inside the first minute, but Arsenal swiftly restored equality as Laurent Koscielny escaped poor marking to head home from a corner. City’s nerves were eased by a magnificent second from Aguero just before the break, rounding off a perfectly constructed move between Ilkay Gundogan and Raheem Sterling with a simple finish at the far post.

Aguero secured City’s win when he bundled in Sterling’s cross after 61 minutes.

TOTTENHAM 1 v 0 NEWCASTLE

I was at Wembley to see Spurs move into the second place on the table, albeit only for 24 hours, but Spurs are now staking a claim as title contenders. Back from the Asian Cup, Son The South Korean forward benefitted from a Martin Dubravka error with seven minutes left as his powerful 20-yard shot went under the Newcastle goalkeeper’s body.

Newcastle was well organised and gritty throughout, with Fabian Schar’s acrobatic goalline clearance to deny Christian Eriksen in the second half epitomising their spirit.

Rafael Benitez’s side had chances of their own, with Salomon Rondon heading against the post with the score at 0-0 but their resistance was broken when substitute Fernando Llorente laid the ball off for Son to score a ninth goal in his past 10 Spurs appearances.

The win means Pochettino’s side set a Premier League record as they reached 29 matches in a row without a draw, eclipsing Bolton’s mark of 28 set in 2011.

BRIGHTON 0 v 0 WATFORD

Watford manager Javi Gracia said goalkeeper Ben Foster produced a “special performance” after preventing Brighton from claiming their first league win of 2019. Foster pulled off a string of impressive saves in the goalless draw at the Amex Stadium and the Hornets boss said the 36-year-old is a “very important player for us”.

In an uninspiring first half, the veteran keeper kept out the only attempt on target when he clawed Jurgen Locadia’s header to safety. Brighton produced an improved display in the second half but they had to wait until the 79th minute for Locadia to direct another header on target.

However, Foster pulled off another good save with a strong right hand to tip the ball behind for a corner. He then somehow scrambled an overhead effort by Shane Duffy off his own line from the resulting set-piece, to earn a point for the visitors.

The result sees Brighton remain in 13th while Watford moves above Everton into eighth.

BURNLEY 1 v 1 SOUTHAMPTON

Nathan Redmond had given Southampton the lead early in the second half when he picked up Jan Bednarek’s pass and fired a low shot into the bottom corner from around 20 yards. Saints striker Danny Ings had the best opportunity of the opening 45 minutes, firing straight at Tom Heaton in a one-on-one situation before being forced off with an injury.

Barnes twice went close in the final 15 minutes of normal time, forcing a point-blank save out of Heaton before thumping against the crossbar from Johann Berg Gudmundsson’s flick-on but he made no mistake from the spot.

The two teams are locked on 24 points but sit just two points above the relegation zone.

CHELSEA 5 v 0 HUDDERSFIELD

Huddersfield was woeful, as Chelsea put them to the sword.

Argentina international Higuain opened the scoring in the 16th minute at Stamford Bridge. N’Golo Kante played him in with a delightful reverse pass to beat the offside trap and the striker finished the first time, lashing his shot in at the near post. Just before half-time Elias Kachunga nudged Cesar Azpilicueta over and referee Paul Tierney awarded a penalty, although replays suggested the foul occurred outside the penalty area. Hazard stepped up to smash in the penalty and score his first league goal since 26 December.

The Belgium international made it 3-0 on 66 minutes, rounding Terriers keeper Jonas Lossl and slotting in from a tight angle. And just three minutes later Higuain got his second, curling in a shot from the edge of the area, with the help of a deflection. David Luiz added a fifth in the closing minutes, with a powerful header from a corner that was deflected into his own net by Kachunga.

Chelsea is now fourth, three points ahead of Arsenal.

CRYSTAL PALACE 2 v 0 FULHAM

Palace captain Luka Milivojevic opened the scoring from the spot midway through the first half after Cyrus Christie handled in the area. Jeffrey Schlupp then added a late second as he tapped in the rebound following a Sergio Rico’s fantastic save to deny deadline-day arrival Michy Batshuayi, who had come on moments earlier.

The Eagles, who rose to 14th, had only won once in their previous six Premier League outings prior to Saturday’s victory over Fulham, which was only their third home league win of the season.

EVERTON 1 v 3 WOLVES

Everton’s home form is abysmal. Andre Gomes cancelled out Ruben Neves’ opener from the penalty spot before goals by Raul Jimenez and Leander Dendoncker cemented Wolves’ seventh-placed spot in the Premier League.

Everton has won just three of their last 12 league games and their latest defeat was greeted with boos from the stands.

CARDIFF 2 v 0 BOURNEMOUTH

This was the first opportunity for Bluebirds fans to tribute to striker Emiliano Sala who is missing after the plane carrying him and pilot David Ibbotson disappeared near Guernsey 12 days ago, whilst on his way to join his new Cardiff teammates.

Amid touching scenes, Cardiff excelled on the pitch, racing into an early lead when Reid coolly dispatched a penalty after Steve Cook inexplicably handled. Birthday boy Reid scored again after just 15 seconds of the second half when he raced clear and slotted home, ensuring a morale-boosting win for the wounded Bluebirds.

It was Cardiff’s first win in five league games and moves them two points from safety in 18th position, while Bournemouth stays in 10th.

WEST HAM UNITED 1 v 1 LIVERPOOL

This was three points thrown away by Liverpool and it has thrown the title chase wide open, Jurgen Klopp’s side are now three points clear of second-placed Manchester City, but the nine-point advantage they held on 29 December has now been cut to only three following two successive draws and a return to form for Pep Guardiola’s side.

Man City who beat Arsenal could reclaim the top spot for the first time since 5 December if they win at Everton on Wednesday. Tottenham are also in the title hunt following three successive league wins – they have 57 points, five behind the Reds. It started well for Liverpool at London Stadium when Sadio Mane fired past Lukasz Fabianski in the 22nd minute, although James Milner was in an offside position in the build-up.

The Hammers showed enough threat in attack to suggest it would not be one-way traffic though, and six minutes later they got a deserved equaliser when Liverpool’s defence failed to read Felipe Anderson’s disguised free-kick that picked out Michail Antonio’s run into the area.

The English winger equalised with a low angled drive that went in off the post.

Liverpool did not put the West Ham defence under severe pressure, with two efforts from Mohamed Salah and a header from Mane comfortably dealt with by Fabianski before Divock Origi shot straight at the keeper when he had a clear sight of goal right at the end.

The title chase is getting a lot more interesting!

I got seven correct results in my predictions, performing just like Spurs at the moment 😀

Please see following my week 26 predictions:

Everton 1 v 3 Man City

Fulham 1 v 3 Man United

Crystal Palace 2 v 1 West Ham

Huddersfield 1 v 3 Arsenal

Liverpool 3 v 1 Bournemouth

Southampton 3 v 1 Cardiff

Watford 2 v 1 Everton

Brighton 3 v 1 Burnley

Spurs 3 v 1 Leicester City

Man City 3 v 1 Chelsea

Wolves 2 v 1 Newcastle

Have a good week,

Gary

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