Culture of Hoops

Barclays Premier League Capsule: Game Week 24

Image courtesy of Ronnie Macdonald/Flickr.

Image courtesy of Ronnie Macdonald/Flickr.

Two fiery derby’s, four last-gasp goals, and six draws capped off another hectic gameweek in the Barclays Premier League. Here’s all the news, review, and opinion from gameweek 24 with this week’s edition of the Barclays Premier League Capsule:

Tottenham Hotspur 2-1 Arsenal

Tottenham came back from a goal down to edge Arsenal in a fiery North-London derby that produced eight yellow cards. Arsenal keeper David Ospina was kept busy all match, and it was Harry Kane who produced the first save from him with a curling effort just outside the box. It was Arsenal, however, who scored first. Danny Welbeck made an incisive run down the right, and sent the ball to Olivier Giroud who flicked the ball to Mesut Ozil to fire home. Tottenham were rattled, but didn’t let their heads drop as Danny Rose produced another fine save from Ospina before Ryan Mason’s thunderous shot was pushed away from as well. Tottenham eventually made their pressure count, and it was Kane who scored the equaliser after Moussa Dembele’s header was saved by Ospina, but he was helpless as the ball fell to Kane who made no mistake. Arsenal were shaken up after the equaliser, but almost scored when Danny Welbeck’s effort was saved by Hugo Lloris in goal. With four minutes of regulation time remaining, Kane rose highest to meet Nabil Bentaleb’s cross to score a dramatic winner. The win moves Tottenham ahead of their rivals, they now sit fifth with Arsenal sixth.

Best Player:

Harry Kane (Tottenham) – took his tally for the season to 12 goals. The young striker is quickly becoming a Tottenham hero, and he solidified that with a brace against their fierce rivals.

Mesut Ozil (Arsenal) – has now scored in two consecutive starts since returning from injury. He failed to make more of an impact as the game went on with Tottenham dominating.

Aston Villa 1-2 Chelsea

The Villain’s finally ended their goal drought after going six consecutive games without one, but the goal couldn’t help them avoid defeat as Chelsea extended their lead at the top of the table to seven points. Chelsea opened the scoring within the first 10 minutes after good work from Oscar on the right to find Willian who sent a perfect ball into Eden Hazard who scored incisively. It was Chelsea’s first shot of the match. Gabriel Agbonlahor sent a header wide of Chelsea’s goal before Oscar test Brad Guzan at the other end. In the second half, it was Aston Villa who started the stronger, and they were rewarded with a goal after excellent work from Carles Gil to dribble past Oscar and send a cross into the box for the onrushing Jores Okore to meet with his head. The fans finally had something to celebrate, as Villa Park erupted. Chelsea inevitably found their way back into the match when Branislav Ivanovic scored with a clean volley. The win was the first for Chelsea Manager Jose Mourinho at Villa Park. The loss moves Villa closer to the relegation zone, they are now two points away from the drop in 16th.

Best Player:

Carles Gil (Villa) – has made an immediate impact since signing from Valencia. The Spanish midfielder caused Chelsea a few problems down their right, and he did brilliantly well to find Okore for their equaliser.

Eden Hazard (Chelsea) – scored his ninth goal of the season with a clinical finish. The Belgian hadn’t scored since the start the first day of 2015, but he will be hoping to hit double figures before the season ends.

Leicester City 0-1 Crystal Palace

Leicester remain rooted to the bottom of the Premier League table after they suffered their third successive defeat. They nearly took the lead when Riyad Mahrez produced a save from Julian Speroni in goal. Mahrez was involved again as his corner was met by David Nugent who struck the bar. Leicester continued to attack, but Speroni produced another save, this time from Jeffrey Schlupp. Into the second half, and it was Leicester who continued to dominate, but Palace almost scored against the run of play after Yaya Sanogo’s shot was blocked by Marcin Wasilewski. Palace took the lead after Brede Hangeland’s flick from a corner-kick found the head of Joe Ledley who scored from six-yards out. Leicester’s best chance to equalise fell to Esteban Cambiasso, but the Argentine couldn’t find his feet quick enough and the danger was cleared. Leicester had one last chance in the dying minutes of the match, but James Vardy was pushed away from Speroni. Crystal Palace remain 13th, but will be happy with their win nonetheless.

Best Player:

Riyad Mahrez (Leicester) – came straight back into the lineup after returning from international duty with Algeria at the African Cup of Nations. His pace troubled Palace throughout the match, and he almost scored on a couple of occasions.

Julian Speroni (Palace) – wasn’t at his best, and fumbled a couple of shots, but he made some important saves to help his team to victory.

Manchester City 1-1 Hull City

The Champions lost more ground on leaders Chelsea after they had to come from behind to steal a point against Hull City. Hull had the first chance, but Ahmed El Mohamady’s effort came off the bar. The chance was followed by another Hull attack, and with City defenders scrambling back, Joe Hart made a good save but couldn’t prevent David Meyler’s shot after the ball had come off the bar. City were down at halftime after they failed to create and real chances. However, they started the second half well and almost scored when Eden Dzeko produced a save from Allan McGregor. City continued to press forward, and dominate proceedings but they couldn’t find that final ball. With the final whistle looming, Sergio Aguero hit the bar, and it looked like Hull were heading for a famous victory. However, City were awarded a free-kick in stoppage time after Tom Huddleston pushed Aguero from the back, and substitute James Milner made no mistake with his effort as he equalised to save City’s blushes. City remain second, but are now seven points away from first place. Hull, meanwhile, are still in the relegation zone in 18th.

Best Player:

James Milner (Man City) – came on as a substitute, and scored with a sublime free-kick to steal a point for his side. The goal was his first of the season, and what an appropriate time to score.

David Meyler (Hull) – was alert and aware to pounce on the chance and score his first of the season.

Queens Park Rangers 0-1 Southampton

The Saints leave it late to pile more misery on a manger-less QPR. Harry Redknapp announced his resignation on Tuesday, after explaining that knee surgery would not allow him to “give 100%” effort. Southampton nearly took the lead when Eljero Elia’s chip went just wide of Robert Green’s post before Green made a save low to his left to deny Sadio Mane. Southampton hit the bar from the resulting corner. QPR started the brighter in the second half, and it took a phenomenal reflex save from Fraser Forster to deny Joey Barton a goal. Southampton scored in stoppage time after Maya Yoshida found Mane inside the box who shrugged off his marker and scored emphatically. The drama continued when QPR had a goal controversially disallowed for offside as they went on to lose their fourth consecutive match and remain in the relegation zone. The win moves Southampton back up to third and into the Champions League spots.

Best Player:

(QPR) – N/A

Sadio Mane (Southampton) – worked tirelessly throughout the match, and was finally rewarded at the end with a goal. The goal was his sixth of the season.

Swansea 1-1 Sunderland

Sunderland looked to continue to climb the table away from the relegation zone, but they had to settle for a point against Swansea. Striker Bafetimbi Gomis had the first chance, but his low drive fizzed just wide of the post. Moments later, Gomis was sent through on goal, but he was denied by Costel Pantilimon in goal. Swansea continued to press forward, and they thought they had taken the lead only for the linesman’s flag to deny them—Sung-Yeung Ki was judged offside. With four minutes remaining in the first half, new Sunderland signing Jermaine Defoe ran through the Swansea defense and fired in a shot to give the Black Cats the lead against the run-of-play. Swansea eventually found their way back into the match, and it was former Sunderland Ki who scored the equaliser with a headed effort. In the end, both teams shared a point. Swansea are still ninth, and Sunderland remain 14th.

Best Player:

Sung-Yeung Ki (Swansea) – had a goal disallowed, but eventually scored his fourth goal of the season after returning from international duty with South Korea at the Asian Cup.

Jermaine Defoe (Sunderland) – has now scored in two consecutive games since signing from Toronto FC. The Englishman now has two goals and an assist in his three starts for the club.

Everton 0-0 Liverpool

The 221st Merseyside derby ended in a goalless draw. Liverpool started well and Captain Steven Gerrard almost found the opener, but his effort from a free-kick was saved by Joel Robles. Robles made another good save after Raheem Sterling’s blocked shot fell to Jordon Ibe who couldn’t pounce quick enough to score. The youngster almost scored a spectacular goal, but he watched agonisingly as his shot rattled off the post. Liverpool continued to dominate, and Steven Gerrard almost scored a fantastic scissor kick, but his effort deflected off of Steven Naismith. After a square-up between Jordan Henderson and Naismith, Seamus Coleman nearly scored, but Simon Mignolet was equal to his shot. That proved to be the last real action of the match. The draw leaves Everton in 12th place while Liverpool remain chasing the top-four places, they sit in seventh.

Best Player:

Phil Jagielka (Everton) – defended well to prevent his team from going down. He will be happy with his third consecutive clean sheet.

Jordon Ibe (Liverpool) – looked lively and comfortable the entire match. The youngster almost had the perfect debut but he could only watch as his shot banged off the post. He’ll be hoping to get a few more minutes before the season ends.

Burnley 2-2 West Bromwich Albion

The Clarets gave-up a two-goal lead for the third time in their last four games, and had to settle for a point that keeps them above the relegation zone. Burnley almost took the lead after eight minutes only for Scott Arfield’s shot to hit the bar. They eventually took the lead moments later after good work from the in-form Danny Ings to find Ashley Barnes who made no mistake with his header. Ings doubled Burnley’s advantage with a powerful header, and it looked like they were going to cruise to victory. It wasn’t to be as West Brom found their way back into the match when Chris Brunt scored with a header of his own in first half stoppage time. Burnley offered very little in the second half, and West Brom equalised with another headed effort. This time, new signing Brown Ideye rose highest to meet Brunt’s corner with his head. The draw leaves Burnley in 17th place while West Brom are 15th.

Best Player:

Danny Ings (Burnley) – provided the assist for the first goal after great persistence to send a cross into a teammate, and he followed that up with a thumping header. Ings has now scored four goals in five matches to take his tally for the season to eight.

Chris Brunt (West Brom) – scored his first goal of the season and provided the assist for Ideye’s equaliser. Brunt will be hoping that he can continue to play an important role for his team’s survival in the Premier League.

Newcastle United 1-1 Stoke City

Stoke scored a dramatic late equaliser to snatch a point at the Sports Direct Arena. Remy Cabella had Newcastle’s first chance, but Asmir Begovic was quick to react and denied the Frenchman a second consecutive goal. Ayoze Perez then sent a shot wide before Tim Krul had to make a save to prevent Mama Biram Diouf from opening the scoring late in the first half. Jack Colback put Newcastle in front in the second half, but he was lucky not to be sent off moments earlier after he should have been sent off for a second bookable offence. Stephen Ireland scored a sensational goal, but it was disallowed for offside. Stoke continued to up the tempo, but Newcastle almost doubled their advantage late in the match. However, Gabriel Obertan made a mess of a three-on-one opportunity. Perez wasted another chance to give his side a two-goal advantage after he skied his shot. Newcastle were eventually punished for their wastefulness when substitute Peter Crouch towered over his marker to score with his head. The draw means Stoke remain tenth, with Newcastle right behind them in 11th place.

Best Player:

Jack Colback (Newcastle) – was lucky not to be sent off after his tackle on Victor Moses, but he stayed on the pitch and scored with a hard shot, his third of the season.

Peter Crouch (Stoke) – rose from the bench, and rose highest to meet Geoff Cameron’s cross late in the match to make sure his team went home with a point.

West Ham United 1-1 Manchester United

The Red Devils had to come back from a goal down to steal a point and keep their top four hopes alive. West Ham’s Enner Valencia had the first chance of the match, but David De Gea was equal to his shot, pushing the ball out for a corner. De Gea made a fantastic save from the resulting corner to deny Valencia again and keep the scores level. West Ham continued to dominate, and it was James Tomkins this time who produced another save from De Gea. It was West Ham who came out with purpose in the second half, and they eventually scored from a set-piece. Cheikhou Kouyate received the ball, and after a couple of neat touches, he spun and fired the ball into the goal. United responded immediately but couldn’t find a goal as Radamel Falcao sent a shot wide before Robin van Persie shot into the hands of Adrian. Falcao had another chance but sent his shot wide again as United continued to dominate and create chances. Adrian made a good save to deny van Persie before De Gea made a double save to keep United in the match. It wasn’t until stoppage time where United finally found the equaliser. A cross into the West Ham box was cleared by Carl Jenkinson, but his weak clearance fell to Daley Blind who pounced and scored. The drama wasn’t over as Luke Shaw was shown a yellow card for a late challenge. The draw means United drop to fourth, while West Ham remain eighth.

Best Player:

Adrian (West Ham) – made a string of saves to deny Man United, but he could do very little about Blind’s effort. He will be mighty disappointed with his defenders and he has every right to be.

David De Gea (Man United) – was in fine form, and not for the first time this season. He single-handedly kept his team in the game and is continuing to prove why he is United’s player of the season.


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