Culture of Hoops

Barclays Premier League Capsule: Gameweek 28

Image courtesy of Vinny Man1/Flickr.

Image courtesy of Vinny Man1/Flickr.

As the season is fast approaching its end, teams are desperate to secure points. Chelsea remain top with Manchester City refusing to give up chase. Arsenal lead the pack of four teams fighting for a top-four finish. With 10 matchweek’s remaining, the relegation cauldron is waiting patiently to devour its victims. Catch this and much more from an exciting gameweek 28 of the Premier League with the Barclays Premier League Capsule:

Aston Villa 2-1 West Bromwich Albion

The Villains end a run of 12 games without a win after their victory over fierce rivals West Brom. Villa had the first real chance of the match when Gabriel Agbonlahor sent a shot into the arms of Ben Foster, but the keeper fumbled the ball and it appeared to cross the line, however, goal-line technology determined otherwise. Moments later, Agbonlahor was sent through on goal and made no mistake with his finish, putting Villa ahead. Agbonlahor almost made it 2-0 five minutes later, but his shot was cleared off the line by defender Joleon Lescott. It was all Villa in the first-half, and Fabian Delph should have given his team a two-goal advantage, but his fierce shot came back off the post. The second-half started slowly as neither team wanted to expose their defense. West Brom equalised through Sadio Berahino who headed a Lescott flick-on from a corner into the back of the net. There wasn’t much action for the remainder of the half until the last 30 seconds when Foster gave away a penalty for a foul on Matthew Lowton. Christian Benteke, who hadn’t scored since December 20th, stepped up and slotted the ball easily past the rooted Foster. The win moved Villa three points clear of the relegation zone in 17th place. West Brom remain 13th place.

Best Player:

Christian Benteke (Villa) – did brilliantly to flick-on Brad Guzan’s goal-kick and set-up teammate Agbonlahor for the opener. Took responsibility for the penalty to score only his third Premier League goal this season.

Joleon Lescott (West Brom) – cleared off the line effectively to keep his team in the match early on, and did well to provide the assist for Berahino’s goal.

Hull City 1-1 Sunderland

Sunderland had manager Gus Poyet sent off and had to come from behind to salvage a point against fellow strugglers Hull City. Hull took the lead after 15 minutes when Wes Brown fouled Ahmed El Mohamady on the edge of the box. Tom Huddlestone’s low-drove from the free-kick was met by Dame N’Doye who slotted the ball past a helpless Costel Pantilimon. Sunderland thought they had been awarded a penalty after Jack Rodwell had gone down, but the referee decided that the midfielder had dove, and booked him for simulation. The decision infuriated manager Poyet who reacted by kicking a water cooler and almost got into an altercation with opposition manager Steve Bruce before being sent to the stands. Into the second-half, and Hull almost made it 2-0 after El Mohamady found Jake Livermore in the box, but the midfielder could only drill his shot into the hands of Pantilimon. Moments later, Sunderland defender Patrick van Aanholt’s cross met the head of Rodwell who brought the scores level. N’Doye almost restored Hull’s lead at the other end, but Pantilimon reacted well to save his side. The draw means Hull remain 15th place while Sunderland are a point below in 16th.

Best Player:

Dame N’Doye (Hull) – has now scored three goals in his last three starts. The Senegalese striker looked dangerous throughout, and almost had a second in the last moments of the match.

Jack Rodwell (Sunderland) – was booked for a dive in the first-half that led to his manager’s dismissal, but he bounced back effectively to get his team back in the match, and almost scored a winner late on.

Southampton 1-0 Crystal Palace

The Saints scored a late winner to bounce back after a run of two straight defeats. Southampton had the first attempt at goal, but Filip Djuricic’s effort was way over the bar. At the other end, Palace’s nearly scored after Fraser Forster fumbled the ball, but he pounced quickly to recover before Wilfried Zaha could get his foot on the loose ball. Southampton’s Eljero Elia forced a save from Julian Speroni, but Graziano Pellè couldn’t score the rebound. The first-half ended goalless, but it was Palace who came out in the second-half with intent. Jason Puncheon and Yannick Bolasie both forced Forster into action before Zaha struck the post. Southampton’s only effort came late in the match, and it proved deadly as Sadio Mané flicked Jamie Ward-Prowse’s rebound over the helpless Speroni. The win leaves Southampton in seventh-place while Palace remain in 12th place.

Best Player:

Sadio Mane (Southampton) – scored his seventh Premier League goal of the season to secure all three points for his side.

Wilfried Zaha (Palace) – reacted well in the first-half to put Southampton under pressure, and almost scored with a low-drive that cannoned off the post.

Manchester City 2-0 Leicester City

The Citizens were looking to bounce back after their defeat to Liverpool, and Leicester provided the best opportunity to do so. However, with the Foxes enjoying a prolonged rest after their game against Chelsea was rescheduled, City knew it wouldn’t be an easy match. After a slow start, City’s best chance fell to Wilfried Bony who controlled David Silva’s pass well, but couldn’t find the finish, instead firing over the bar. City eventually found the opener in first-half stoppage time when Silva pounced on a rebound to give his side the half-time lead. Leicester should have had a penalty at the start of the second-half, but the referee instead awarded a free-kick on the edge of the box. Andrej Kramaric’s resulting effort deflected off the wall and into the side-netting. Yaya Toure had an effort at the other end well saved by Mark Schwarzer before Riyad Mahrez nearly scored for Leicester after his shot hit the post. Substitute James Milner doubled City’s advantage with two minutes of regular time remaining to seal the victory. The win means that City remain five points behind leaders Chelsea who have a game in hand. Leicester continue to remain at the bottom of the Premier League table and look the likeliest side to go down.

Best Player:

David Silva (Man City) – did well to set up Bony for City’s first chance, and followed it up with a neat finish to give his side the lead on the stroke of half-time.

Mark Schwarzer (Leicester) – made seven saves to keep his side in it and deny City a routine victory. The veteran goalkeeper has made five consecutive starts for his new side, but has yet to record a clean-sheet.

Newcastle 0-1 Manchester United

The Red Devils record back-to-back wins to keep the pressure on their Premier League rivals in the race for a top-four finish. The match wasn’t without controversy though, as Newcastle felt they should have been awarded a penalty early-on when Chris Smalling fouled Emmanuel Riviere inside the box. Newcastle were adamant in their protests, but the referee waved play on, uninterested. Man United’s first chance fell to Captain Wayne Rooney, but the skipper could only chip his shot wide of the goal. More controversy ensued as Johnny Evans and Papiss Cisse were involved in a tangle. Replays showed both players spitting at each other with Evans appearing to instigate. Both players have since been suspended by the Premier League. After a goalless first-half, Newcastle almost opened the scoring through Riviere, but his attempt was blocked by David De Gea. Tim Krul was forced into a double-save at the other end after blocking efforts from Marouane Fellaini and Ashley Young. Cisse had a chance to give Newcastle the lead after a counter-attack, but the striker could only shoot wide. Tim Krul made a good save from a Rooney header before gifting the ball to Young moments later who tapped home the winner. Cisse thought he had scored the equaliser at the other end, but De Gea reacted well to push his header away. The win keeps Man United in the hunt for a top-four finish, while Newcastle remain 11th place.

Best Player:

Emmanuel Riviere (Newcastle) – should have been awarded a penalty after he was fouled, but didn’t let the decision effect his game as he was involved throughout nearly finding the first goal at the start of the second-half.

David De Gea (Man United) – was phenomenal once again, and did exceptionally well to deny Newcastle a goal making two important saves from Riviere and Cisse.

Queens Park Rangers 1-2 Arsenal

Arsenal’s good form continued as they made it four wins in a row, condemning QPR to the relegation zone. It was QPR who had the first chance of the match after Matthew Philips forced David Ospina into a save early on. A brilliant passing move from Arsenal nearly led to them taking the lead, but Santi Cazorla’s shot was tame, and gobbled up by Robert Green. After a goalless first-half, Arsenal nearly took the lead in the second when Mesut Özil appeared to be fouled inside the box before Alexis Sanchez produced another save from Green. Despite QPR’s dominance, it was Arsenal who scored the opening goal when Olivier Giroud tucked in Kieran Gibbs’ pass after a slick counter-attack. Green continued to keep his side in the match, making two fine saves to deny Sanchez a goal. But the Chilean international wasn’t to be denied a third time, beating Green at his near post to double Arsenal’s advantage. Arsenal began to up the tempo, and Özil nearly scored but for the brilliant Green. Charlie Austin scored with eight minutes left to ensure a nervy end to the match. The win keeps Arsenal in third-place while QPR are in the drop-zone once again.

Best Player:

Robert Green (QPR) – made several brilliant saves to keep his team in the game. He should have probably done better for Sanchez’ goal, but should be happy with his performance nonetheless.

Alexis Sanchez (Arsenal) – takes his tally for the season to 13 goals. The midfielder could have had a hat-trick but was denied time again by Green.

Stoke City 2-0 Everton

The in-form Potters have now won three back-to-back games for the first time this Premier League season and continue to fly high after their impressive win over struggling Everton. The first chance of the match fell to Everton’s Darren Gibson who forced Begovic into a routine save before Victor Moses’ fierce shot unsettled Tim Howard at the other end. Stoke continued to fire forward and Moses found the opener with a brilliant header. Everton’s only shot on goal in the first-half fell to Aaron Lennon who could only shoot right at Begovic. Romelu Lukaku almost leveled the scored early in the second-half, but his shot was blocked for a corner. Everton continued to boss the half, with Arouna Kone’s effort the next to be saved by Begovic. Things quickly got worse for Everton when Lukaku’s awkward pass put pressure on his defenders and allowed Stoke to break. Marko Arnautovic’s initial shot cannoned off the bar but Mame Biram Diouf was on hand to score the rebound. Everton were determined to find a way back into the game, but they couldn’t beat an inspired Begovic who saved well from Luke Garbutt’s free-kick. The loss leaves Everton edging closer to the relegation zone where they’re now only six points away from the drop in 14th place. Stoke on the other hand move up to eighth-place in the table.

Best Player:

Victor Moses (Stoke) – has now scored two goals in his last three starts to take his tally for the season to three. The forward has been an influential part of Stoke’s recent run of form and will be hoping he can continue his run.

(Everton) – N/A

Tottenham Hotspur 3-2 Swansea City

The Spurs kept their top-four hopes alive after they edged Swansea in a five-goal thriller. Tottenham made the perfect start to the match, scoring inside the first seven minutes when Nacer Chadli met Danny Rose’s perfect cross. Swansea could have drawn level moments later, but Gylfi Sigurdsson’s free-kick came off the post. Tottenham never really cleared their lines and Sung-Yueng Ki crept in behind the defense to slot past the helpless Hugo Lloris. The teams went into the break with the scores level, but Swansea nearly took the lead when Jonjo Shelvey forced Lloris into a save in the second-half. After a great run from Christian Eriksen, Ryan Mason smashed the ball into the roof of the net to give the Tottenham the lead. Federico Fernandez produced another save from Lloris before Tottenham broke away on the counter attack and scored their third thanks to a smart finish by Andros Townsend. With one minute remaining, Sigurdsson scored against his former club to keep Tottenham on their toes in the last moments of the match. Lloris was forced into a save late on, but Tottenham held on for the victory. Swansea drop to ninth-place while Tottenham are in sixth.

Best Player:

Nacer Chadli (Spurs) – scored a good volley to take his tally to eight Premier League goals this season. The midfielder did well to settle the nerves early on at White Hart Lane following Tottenham’s Capital One Cup defeat to Chelsea.

Sung-Yeung Ki (Swansea) – has now scored three goals in his last five matches to take his tally to six for the season. The South Korean international did well to get in behind the Spurs defense for the opener, and will be hoping to continue his form as the season draws to a close.

West Ham United 0-1 Chelsea

Leaders Chelsea maintain their lead at the top of the Premier League table as the business end of the season is fast approaching. Chelsea almost made the perfect start after a neat exchange of passes between Cesc Fabregas and Oscar before Diego Costa fired over the bar. Thibaut Courtois was forced into a save at the other end after West Ham’s corner wasn’t dealt with by the Chelsea defense. The ball fell to Cheikhou Kouyate, but he couldn’t fire past the onrushing Courtois. Kouyate was involved moments later sending a cross into the box, but Diafra Sakho couldn’t connect. Chelsea took the lead at the other end after Ramires’ cross was met by the head of Eden Hazard. Costa should have made it 2-0 before Sakho produced another save from Courtois. West Ham began the second-half with intent, and Sakho was again involved but his shot was wide of the post before he had another attempt saved by the big Belgian keeper. Chelsea soaked the pressure well, and looked dangerous on the counter. Ramires nearly doubled their advantage, but his low drive hit the post and fell into the grateful hands of Adrian before the keeper reacted well to save Ramires’ header moments later. West Ham looked dangerous every time they attacked, but Courtois was on hand to deny them. Willian should have made it 2-0, but his effort was blocked off the line by Aaron Cresswell. West Ham drop to 10th place after this defeat.

Best Player:

Diafra Sakho (West Ham) – unsettled the Chelsea defense on several occasions, and should have put his team in front but he couldn’t beat the impressive Courtois.

Eden Hazard (Chelsea) – caused West Ham all sorts of problems, and demonstrated his balance and strength very well. His header was his 10th league goal this season, although replays suggested that he was in an offside position.

Liverpool 2-0 Burnley

The Red’s continue their blistering form as they have now won eight of their last 10 Premier League matches that sees them in fifth-place, and only two points away from fourth spot. Daniel Sturridge almost scored an early goal for Liverpool, but his effort was well saved by Tom Heaton. Heaton was forced into action again getting low quickly to push away a Jordan Henderson strike. Liverpool continued to push forward for the opener, and they eventually found before the half-hour mark when Henderson’s strike ripped past Heaton and into the net. Sturridge could have made it 2-0, but Heaton did well to keep his side in the match. Liverpool started the second-half where they left off the first, with Sturridge firing a header past Heaton to double his side’s advantage. Burnley offered very little, and the closest they came in the second-half was a penalty claim from Danny Ings. The loss leaves them in the relegation zone, three-points away from safety.

Best Player:

Jordan Henderson (Liverpool) – scored for the second consecutive match after his brilliant strike against Man City, and provided the assist for Sturridge’s goal. There has been much talk about who could possibly replace Steven Gerrard in the Liverpool midfield, but Henderson is making a strong claim for that title.

(Burnley) – N/A

Queens Park Rangers 1-2 Tottenham Hotspur

A win meant that QPR would leave the relegation zone, but they couldn’t find a way past a determined Tottenham side who had their own top-four ambitions in mind. QPR started the better side with Bobby Zamora coming close to scoring the opening goal inside the first minute, but for the fingertips of Hugo Lloris. Robert Green was forced into action at the other end, making a fine save to deny Harry Kane. A defensive mix-up almost led to a QPR goal, but again Lloris was on hand to prevent a goal. QPR continued to push forward with Matthew Philips coming close before Charlie Austin’s drive hit the crossbar. Tottenham took the lead, against the run-of-play, courtesy of a Harry Kane header. Green and Lloris were both forced into saves in first-half stoppage and both did well to prevent the ball going into the back of the net. Tottenham nearly doubled their lead immediately after the restart after Christian Eriksen’s shot hit the post. Zamora forced Lloris into a brilliant save before Austin denied Eriksen a certain goal after his clearance off the line. Harry Kane eventually doubled Tottenham’s advantage after he snuck in past the QPR defense, rounded Green, and slotted the ball into the net. QPR pulled a goal back six minutes later through Sandro, but couldn’t find another one as they went on to lose the match.

Best Player:

Charlie Austin (QPR) – wasn’t on the score-sheet, but he was involved throughout the match. The striker hit the post, blocked off his own line, and provided the clinical pass before Zamora set up Sandro.

Harry Kane (Spurs) – scored twice to take his tally to 16 Premier League goals for the season, and 26 in all competitions. The striker looks confident, and with international’s fast approaching, he certainly deserves a call-up to the England squad.

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