Culture of Hoops

Barclays Premier League Capsule: Gameweek 20

Image courtesy of Alejandro Rázuri/Flickr.

Image courtesy of Alejandro Rázuri/Flickr.

2015 began with a record 33 goals scored on New Year’s day—partly thanks to an eight-goal London derby. Here’s all the review, news, and opinion from an exciting gameweek 20 in this edition of the Barclays Premier League Capsule:

Stoke City 1-1 Manchester United

United had to come from behind to snatch a point against Stoke City. The Potters took the lead just after two minutes when defender, Ryan Shawcross thumped home from close-range to score against his former club. It was the defender’s second-goal of the season. Mame Biram Diouf should have doubled Stoke’s advantage, but he curled his shot wide. United got back into the game mid-way through the first-half when Radamel Falcao fired in a flick-on from Michael Carrick. Despite equalising, United couldn’t get a firm grip on the game, and it was Stoke who almost found a winner when Peter Crouch’s effort hit the post. Crouch was involved earlier when his cries for a penalty were ignored after his header struck the arm of United defender Chris Smalling. No penalty was given, and the game ended in a stalemate. Stoke have lost only once in their last six Premier League matches and remain in 11th place. United remain undefeated in their last 10 matches, but have only won one of their last four matches leaving them in third place.

Best Player:

Peter Crouch (Stoke) – provided the assist for the opener, towering over his marker and heading the ball for Shawcross to tap in. He hit the post, and probably should have been awarded a penalty.

Radamel Falcao (Man United) – has scored two and provided one assist in his last four outings for United. The striker showed his predatory instincts by reacting quickly when ball was sent into the box.

Aston Villa 0-0 Crystal Palace

A manager-less Palace failed to register a single shot on target as they share the points with Villa. Christian Benteke and defender Alan Hutton tested the Palace keeper, but neither player could find the opening goal. Palace came close, when Yannick Bolasie struck the woodwork after he raced out of his own half, but that proved to be the closest either team came to breaking the deadlock. Aston Villa have only scored 11 goals the entire season; however, this draw moves them up to 12th place. Palace, meanwhile, remain in 18th place, one point away from safety. Former Newcastle boss Alan Pardew was in attendance, and he will be tasked with saving the club from relegation.

Best Player:

Christian Benteke (Villa) – had a powerful low shot saved in the first-half, and sent another shot just over the bar in the second-half.

Julian Speroni (Palace) – made two convincing saves in the first-half to deny Villa an opener. He also saved a powerful free-kick late on to register his fifth clean-sheet of the season.

Hull City 2-0 Everton

Hull make it two wins from their last three Premier League matches to increase the pressure on Everton manager Roberto Martinez. Hull City took the lead through Ahmed Elmohamady, who used his strength well to ward off his marker and head a shot past the Everton goalkeeper, Joel Robles. Former Everton striker, Nikica Jelavic doubled the hosts’ lead when he broke free and chipped over the on-rushing Robles with just two minutes of the first-half left to play. Everton improved in the second-half when Martinez brought on Romelu Lukaku and Brian Oviedo, but they couldn’t find a way back into the game. Their misery was concluded when they had Antolin Alcaraz sent off late in the match for his second yellow-card. Hull remain two points above relegation in 15th place, while Everton keep dropping and now sit in 13th place.

Best Player:

Ahmed Elmohamady (Hull) – scored his first goal of the season with a strong, composed finish to give his team a deserved lead. The midfielder has started every game so far this season, and now has a goal and an assist in his last three matches.

(Everton) – N/A

Liverpool 2-2 Leicester City

The Reds let a two-goal lead slip to bottom of the league Leicester. Leicester came close to taking the lead when Riyad Mahrez struck the post from a free-kick. But Liverpool were awarded two first-half penalties—both scored by captain Steven Gerrard. However, Liverpool surrendered their two-goal advantage in the second-half. Leicester were looking to build on their impressive performance last gameweek after they had snapped a 13-game winless run. The Foxes came out with intent in the second-half, and within a three-minute spell they managed to get themselves level. First, David Nugent fired in a shot past the helpless Simon Mignolet and then, shortly after, Jeffrey Schlupp sent a shot low into the right corner of the net to silence the home crowd. The draw leaves Liverpool in eighth place as they continue to chase European football. Leicester, meanwhile, will be happy with their point that leaves them four-points from safety.

Best Player:

Steven Gerrard (Liverpool) – took his penalties with confidence, but couldn’t prevent his team from giving up their two-goal advantage. The Premier League title has remained the one trophy that is missing from his cabinet, and it doesn’t look like he’ll be lifting it as reports emerge that the Liverpool legend wont renew his contract at the end of the season, and is set to leave for an overseas club.

David Nugent (Leicester) – got his team rolling with a sensational effort to register his second goal of the season. The striker has now scored or assisted in his last two Premier League matches.

Manchester City 3-2 Sunderland

Man City avoided embarrassment after they squandered a two-goal lead by finding the winner shortly after Sunderland drew level. After a goalless first-half at the Etihad, it was Man City who took the lead through Yaya Toure. The midfielder was absent last gameweek through illness, but he looked at full health when he sent a powerful shot into the top corner just before the hour-mark. Stevan Jovetic doubled City’s advantage with a back-heel effort but, moments later, Sunderland found their first goal when former City player, Jack Rodwell scored to make it a one-goal game. The equaliser eventually came when City defender Pablo Zabaleta fouled Billy Jones in the area. Another former City player, Adam Johnson scored from the spot to send the away fans mental. City reacted two minutes later when substitute Frank Lampard scored with a headed effort to keep the pressure on his former Club Chelsea. Man City had several more chances to finish off the game, but it wasn’t to be. City are now joint-top with Chelsea, while Sunderland have one win in their last 10 matches, and remain 14th in the table.

Best Player:

Yaya Toure (Man City) – has now scored four goals in his last five matches. The Ivorian power-house scored with a sensational strike to get his team going, and will no doubt be missed when he joins his national team for the Africa Cup of Nations in a few days.

Adam Johnson (Sunderland) – scored from the spot to get his team back level. The former City player has scored three goals and provided one assist in his last five matches.

Newcastle United 3-3 Burnley

Burnley hit the post four times, and had to come from behind three times to eventually settle for a draw against a Newcastle side who are without a manager after Alan Pardew’s departure. Newcastle took the lead through defender Steven Taylor only to concede a comical own goal moments later when Paul Dummett headed the ball into his own net. Jack Colback smashed home a sensational strike—his second consecutive Premier League goal—to send his team into the lead at half-time. Burnley striker Danny Ings scored an equaliser after the break before Newcastle restored their lead 12 minutes later when Moussa Sissoko bundled home. That wasn’t to be the end of the drama and with four minutes remaining, Burnley defender, George Boyd charged into the box and smacked home the equaliser. Newcastle couldn’t hold on to their lead and, as a result, remain in 10th place. Burnley, meanwhile, are 19th and one point away from safety.

Best Player:

Jack Colback (Newcastle) – has now registered two goals and two assists in his last three Premier League matches. The former Sunderland player has started all but one of Newcastle’s 20 matches this season and looks to be an important player as Newcastle aim to remain amongst the top 10.

George Boyd (Burnley) – followed up his goal last gameweek against Man City with another important one against Newcastle. The defender has now scored four goals this campaign, and will no doubt look to build on that for the remainder of the season.

Queens Park Rangers 1-1 Swansea City

Swansea left it late to find an equaliser against QPR. The Rangers had taken the lead through a phenomenal Leroy Fer strike. An in-form Charlie Austin hit the post later on. QPR couldn’t capitalize after Swansea were reduced to 10-men when Wayne Routledge was sent off. Wilfired Bony—who came on as a substitute—scored a last-gasp winner for Swansea. The draw leaves QPR two points above the relegation zone in 16th place. Swansea, on the other hand, remain in ninth place.

Best Player:

Leroy Fer (QPR) – scored with a wonderful strike to give his side the lead and register his third Premier League goal this season.

Wilfried Bony (Swansea) – is easily Swansea’s best player this season, and he proved why after his clinical effort late in the match. After finishing 2014 with the most Premier League goals in the calendar year (20), he registers his first of 2015 and ninth of the season so far. Another player who will compete in the Africa Cup of Nations, Bony will be missed for sure.

Southampton 2-0 Arsenal

The Saints take advantage of two Arsenal errors to record their third win in four Premier League matches. Despite enjoying most of the possession, it was Arsenal who conceded the first goal when keeper Wojciech Szczesny charged out of his goal, as Sadio Mane curled into the open net from an impossible angle. Southampton doubled their lead after the break through Dusan Tadic, Szczesny was at fault again. The keeper flailed at a loose ball and kicked it right to Tadic who tapped in from close-range. Arsenal couldn’t beat Saints’ keeper Fraser Forster who saved effectively from Alexis Sanchez and Santi Cazorla shots. Graziano Pelle came close to registering a goal in either half, but his shots cannoned off the post. The win leaves Southampton in fourth place, three points in front of Arsenal who sit fifth.

Best Player:

Sadio Mane (Southampton) – scored his third goal in as many games to lead his team to victory. The Senegalese striker has been in sensational form recently, but will join up with his national team who compete in the Africa Cup of Nations.

(Arsenal) – N/A

West Ham United 1-1 West Bromwich Albion

West Ham’s dip in form continues as they share the spoils at home to West Brom. The Hammers took the lead after just 10 minutes when Diafra Sakho scored, but were pegged back just before half-time through Saido Berahino’s strike after a brilliant West Brom counter-attack. It was end-to-end and the best chance fell to West Ham defender, Aaron Cresswell who struck the post with a free-kick. New West Brom boss, Tony Pulis watched his team’s comeback from the stands and will be hoping to lead them higher up the table in the remaining weeks. West Brom sit in 17th place just one point away from the relegation zone. West Ham, meanwhile, drop to seventh and are now four points away from the top-four.

Best Player:

Diafra Sakho (West Ham) – scored his seventh goal in 11 Premier League starts to give his team an early lead with a headed effort. West Ham’s top goalscorer will participate in the Africa Cup of Nations.

Saido Berahino (West Brom) – hadn’t scored since October after his prolific start to the season, but now has eight goals and will be looking to hit double-figures in the second-half of the season.

Tottenham Hotspur 5-3 Chelsea

Chelsea suffer defeat for the second-time this season and are now joint-top with Man City. It was the first time Chelsea had conceded five goals under Jose Mourinho’s management, and it proved costly indeed. Tottenham started the match stronger, and almost found the opening goal when Nacer Chadli’s bicycle kick was saved by Thibaut Courtois. Diego Costa scored the opener moments later, and Chelsea could have had two more but were wasteful in front of goal. Harry Kane scored a wonderful equaliser with a 20-yard strike to bring the Spurs back into the game, and it was all Tottenham from then on. Danny Rose scored a rebound before Kane was felled by Gary Cahill in the Chelsea box. The resulting penalty was converted by Andros Townsend, and Spurs were in dreamland. Kane scored his second of the match shortly after the break to increase Tottenham’s lead. Eden Hazard pulled one back as Chelsea piled the pressure, but Chadli scored a fifth to deny Chelsea any hopes of a comeback. John Terry’s late tap-in proved to be a consolation as Chelsea went on to lose and concede their lead at the top of the table. Tottenham, meanwhile, charge into the top-five, two points away from fourth spot.

Best Player:

Harry Kane (Tottenham) – lead his team to a huge victory to start 2015 off in the best possible way. His two goals take his tally for the season to 17 in all competitions. A future England international, no doubt. The young striker has a promising future ahead of him.

Eden Hazard (Chelsea) – was lively throughout the match even after his team were three goals down. He did well to keep the ball in play for Costa’s opener, and his pace always troubled the Tottenham back-four. Unlucky to be on the losing end.

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