Culture of Hoops

Barclays Premier League Capsule: Gameweek 30

Image courtesy of Dean Jones/Flickr.

Image courtesy of Dean Jones/Flickr.

Chelsea struggle to win, but still maintain their lead at the top of the Premier League table. Manchester United strengthen their grip on fourth-place after an exciting encounter against Liverpool. Elsewhere, clubs at the bottom of the league are scrambling to avoid the drop as the end of the season looms. Here’s a look at all the action from an exciting Gameweek 30 from the Barclays Premier League:

Manchester City 3-0 West Bromwich Albion

West Brom had Gareth McAuley wrongly sent off in the second minute as Man City went on to secure all three points in a routine victory at the Etihad stadium. Wilfried Bony, making his first start for Man City, was fouled by Craig Dawson as he broke through on goal, but the referee sent defender McAuley off instead. City were patient, trying to capitalize on their man advantage. David Silva forced keeper Boaz Myhill into a save before Bony scored moments later to give City an inevitable lead. Jesus Navas had an effort saved brilliantly by Myhill before the keeper was at fault, spilling the ball for Fernando to tap-in. City took a two-goal lead into the break. West Brom were forced to defend, and keeper Myhill was tested again denying David Silva, and Sergio Aguero. City were persistent in their search for a third goal with Bony and Aguero both hitting the post. West Brom’s best chance fell to Saido Berahino, but the striker’s header hit the underside of the crossbar. City eventually made it three moments later after Silva’s smart finish. The win keeps Man City in second-place, while West Brom drop to 14th place.

Best Player:

Fernando (Man City) – scored the second-goal to effectively kill the match, and provided the assist for Bony’s first City goal. His presence in the midfield was important as he denied West Brom any freedom in the middle of the pitch to create anything.

(West Brom) – N/A

Aston Villa 0-1 Swansea City

A late goal denied Aston Villa a crucial point as Swansea continue their charge for a European spot, ending a run of two consecutive defeats. Swansea started the brighter side, with Bafetimbi Gomis forcing Brad Guzan into a save early in the match. Swansea continued to push forward, but Guzan reacted well to deny Gomis again, before defender Ciaran Clark was forced to clear a Wayne Routledge shot off the line. Villa improved in the second-half, with Gabriel Agbonlahor coming close to opening the scoring. Swansea continued to show the same drive in the second-half, and Gomis was involved again with his shot blocked by Clark. With three minutes left, Gomis wasn’t going to be denied again, running past Clark to meet Jefferson Montero’s cross. Villa almost responded immediately at the other end, but Scott Sinclair couldn’t keep his shot low. Despite the loss, Villa remain three points clear of the relegation zone. Swansea, meanwhile, are eighth-place.

Best Player:

Brad Guzan (Villa) – reacted well to deny Swansea on several occasions, making four saves, but could do very little about the winner.

Bafetimbi Gomis (Swansea) – was involved from the first whistle to the last, and deserved his goal. The striker displayed perseverance and strength to get past his marker and score the late winner—his third Premier League goal this season.

Newcastle United 1-2 Arsenal

Arsenal continue to strengthen their grip on third-place, after their sixth consecutive Premier League win. The Gunners took the lead through Olivier Giroud, after Danny Welbeck’s header struck the Frenchman’s knee. Welbeck had a chance to double the advantage moments later, but he could only strike wide of the goal. Arsenal continued to dominate and were eventually rewarded when Giroud scored again after meeting Santi Cazorla’s corner with his head. Newcastle improved in the second-half and eventually scored after Moussa Sissoko met Remy Cabella’s accurate cut-back. Newcastle continued to press forward, and Ayoze Perez came close with a dipping effort before shouts for a penalty were ignored. Sissoko nearly scored another, but David Ospina reacted well to deny the midfielder before saving Perez’ effort with his feet. Arsenal secured the win, and maintain the pressure on Man City. Newcastle, meanwhile, have now lost three consecutive Premier League matches and are 12th place.

Best Player:

Remy Cabella (Newcastle) – made his first start since returning from injury and played a huge role in his team’s second-half revival. The winger’s trickery and pace caused Arsenal problems, and kept the defenders scrambling.

Olivier Giroud (Arsenal) – has now scored six goals in his last five league matches, and he doesn’t look finished at all. If he can maintain his goal-scoring form for the remainder of the season, there’s no reason Arsenal shouldn’t finish in the top three.

Southampton 2-0 Burnley

A goal in either half for The Saints keeps their surge for a top-four finish alive. Substitute keeper Kelvin Davis was forced into action moments after replacing the injured Fraser Forster to deny Sam Vokes an opener for Burnley. After a slow start, Southampton took the lead when Shane Long drilled in a deflected Nathanial Clyne effort. Southampton began to find more space as Burnley were looking for an equaliser, and they came close to scoring again when Graziano Pelle struck the crossbar. Burnley almost equalised at the other end, but Davis was equal to Danny Ings’ shot. Neither team could score in stoppage time as both keepers made good saves to prevent any goals. Southampton doubled their lead in the second-half after Jason Shackell deflected Ryan Bertrand’s cross into his own goal. Southampton remain sixth-place after their victory, six points away from the top-four, while Burnley are one-point away from the safe-zone.

Best Player:

Ryan Bertrand (Southampton) – was impressive in defense, and always a threat going forward. He linked up well with his teammate before sending in a vicious cross that led to the second-goal.

(Burnley) – N/A

Stoke City 1-2 Crystal Palace

After three consecutive victories, The Potters have now lost two Premier League games in a row, conceding twice after taking the lead. Charlie Adam curled an effort just wide of the post before setting up teammate Mame Biram Diouf for the opener. Crystal Palace were afforded the opportunity to get themselves right back into the match after Stoke keeper, Asmir Begovic conceded a penalty for a foul on Yannick Bolasie. Glen Murray stepped up and made no mistake with his penalty. With seconds left before the half-time whistle, Wilfried Zaha scored to give Palace the lead. Diouf had an effort saved by Julian Speroni after the restart as Stoke pressed for an equaliser. Palace had a chance to secure the points, but Scott Dann’s effort came back off the post. Despite dominating most of the second-half, Stoke couldn’t find a way past Speroni with the keeper denying both Stephen Ireland and Steven Nzonzi. Stoke remain 10th place after their loss, with Palace six points behind them in 11th place.

Best player:

Mame Biram Diouf (Stoke) – scored his eighth Premier League goal for the season, and had several chances to add to his tally. The striker will be hoping to hit double digits before the end of the season.

Glen Murray (Palace) – confidently scored his penalty and did well to set-up Zaha for the winner on the stroke of half-time. Murray has now scored three goals in his last three league starts for Palace, all coming away from home.

Tottenham Hotspur 4-3 Leicester City

Harry Kane nets a hat-trick as Tottenham edge relegation threatened Leicester in a seven-goal thriller at White Hart Lane. Tottenham had goalkeeper Hugo Lloris stretchered off early in the match after the Frenchman clattered into teammate Kyle Walker. Tottenham weren’t distracted and scored almost immediately after Kane tapped home from close range. David Nugent almost scored an astonishing goal, but substitute keeper Michel Vorm scrambled back to save the swerving shot. That was the closest Leicester got to goal before Kane doubled Tottenham’s advantage with a deflected shot. Christian Eriksen could have made it three-nil, but his shot cannoned off the post. Jamie Vardy got Leicester back in the game with his goal seven minutes before half-time, sweeping in Nugent’s cross. Leicester began the second-half with intent and Nugent almost grabbed the equaliser, but couldn’t get the right contact on the ball, but Wes Morgan scored with his head from the resulting corner. Thinks got worse for Leicester, as Nugent conceded a penalty which Kane scored confidently to restore Tottenham’s lead. With five minutes left, Jeffrey Schlupp scored an own-goal, and although Nugent scored in the dying minutes of the match, Leicester couldn’t find a way back. Tottenham remain seventh-place, and are still in the hunt for a top-four finish. Leicester are seven points away from safety, and are stuck in last.

Best Player:

Harry Kane (Tottenham) – looked inspired after his England call-up, taking his Premier League tally to 19 goals for the season. The striker has now scored eight goals in his last six home matches. If he continues his form, there’s no doubt that he’ll finish top-scorer this season.

David Nugent (Leicester) – worked hard throughout the match, and was unlucky to concede a penalty. It was his first league start since February, and he put in a dedicated performance. Deserved his goal, although it proved to be a consolation one.

West Ham United 1-0 Sunderland

The Hammers ended a run of three Premier League matches without a win with victory at home to struggling Sunderland. Dick Advocaat was appointed manager of Sunderland succeeding Gus Poyet. Sunderland almost made a positive start at the beginning of his reign after West Ham goalkeeper Adrian was forced to save a Connor Wickham effort before Jermaine Defoe missed the target with a wild shot. West Ham responded with Diafra Sakho sending a header just wide of the post before Kevin Nolan’s shouts for a penalty wen unheard. West Ham began to string passes together with more confidence in the second-half, and Nolan was involved again after he was denied another claim for a penalty. Sunderland’s best chance fell to Patrick van Aanholt who forced Adrian into a diving save, but with two minutes remaining, Sakho scored to snatch the victory. West Ham move up to ninth-place while Sunderland are still one point above the relegation zone.

Best Player:

Diafra Sakho (West Ham) – had two headed efforts that just went wide of the post in either half before keeping his composure to score the winner late in the match. The goal was his ninth of the season.

(Sunderland) – N/A

Liverpool 1-2 Manchester United  

The Red Devils continue their surge towards sealing a top-four finish with a win at Anfield against historical rivals Liverpool. Juan Mata gave Man United the lead inside the first 15 minutes after his neat finish just inside the box. Liverpool’s first real attempt fell to Adam Lallana after Daniel Sturridge had sent him the ball, but the midfielder could only shoot wide. United would take a one-goal lead into half-time with the match still in the balance. Liverpool brought on Steven Gerrard before the start of the second-half, but the club legend was sent-off immediately after coming on for a stamp on Man United midfielder Ander Herrera. United pressed forward with confidence, and Mata grabbed a second with a sensational scissor-kick effort to double his team’s advantage. Liverpool weren’t ready to give-up and they continued to look for goals, eventually finding one when Sturridge scored clinically past David De Gea. United had the opportunity to take the match beyond Liverpool when they were awarded a stoppage-time penalty, but Simon Mignolet was prepared and saved well from Wayne Rooney’s effort. The loss means Liverpool’s run of 13 games unbeaten comes to an end, as they fall five points behind United in the race for the Champions League spots.

Best Player:

Daniel Sturridge (Liverpool) – wasn’t able to save his side from defeat, but took his goal well. Sturridge set-up Lallana in the first-half, but the midfielder couldn’t finish. The striker now has two goals in his last three starts since returning from injury.

Juan Mata (Man United) – put in an excellent performance and made the difference to help his team charge towards a top-four finish. His second goal was exceptional, a worthy match-winner.

Hull City 2-3 Chelsea

The Premier League leaders conceded a two-goal lead in the first-half, but eventually came back to win the match and move closer to the league title. Chelsea made the best possible start after Eden Hazard scored from the edge of the box to give The Blues an early lead. Hull almost responded at the other end, but Thibaut Courtois was quick off his line to deny Abel Hernandez. Diego Costa scored moments later to double Chelsea’s advantage, curling an effort into the back of the net. However, two goals in 74 seconds for Hull City got them right back in the match. First a goal from Ahmed El Mohamady before a mistake from Courtois led to Hernandez’ goal. Chelsea improved in the second-half, but the best chance fell to Hull. However, they couldn’t beat an inspired Courtois who made a triple-save to deny El Mohamady, Jake Livermore, and finally Gaston Ramirez. Chelsea took the lead after substitute Loic Remy scored with his first touch. The Blues remain six points clear at the top of the table, with a game in hand. Hull are still in the relegation battle, and are just three points away from the drop.

Best Player:

Diego Costa (Chelsea) – set-up Hazard for the opener, and scored clinically to make it 2-0. He was still a threat even after Hull pegged Chelsea back, and was substituted because of a hamstring injury.

Ahmed El Mohamady (Hull) – troubled Chelsea with his runs behind the defense, and provided countless dangerous crosses into the box. The Egyptian midfielder scored to get his side back in the match, and could have had a few more if not for the brilliance of Courtois.

Queens Park Rangers 1-2 Everton

The Toffees haven’t won two consecutive Premier League matches since October, but followed up victory last gameweek with a win at Loftus Road. Everton took the lead when defender Seamus Coleman smashed home a Leon Osman pass. QPR couldn’t find the end-product in the first-half, but thought they had found the equaliser at the start of the second-half. Junior Hoilett’s vicious shot came back off the bar, before Bobby Zamora’s goal was disallowed for offside. QPR found the equaliser when substitute Eduardo Vargas smashed home from close-range. However, Everton restored their lead after Aaron Lennon scored from 10-yards out. Substitute, Adel Taarabt twice came close to equalising for QPR, curling an effort just beyond the post, before hitting the crossbar with another shot. QPR remain in the relegation zone, four points away from safety. Meanwhile, Everton will be hoping to carry their form and improve as the season approaches its end.

Best Player:

Adel Taarabt (QPR) – came on as a substitute and almost made an immediate impact. Showed glimpses of his talent, and may be the man that can save QPR from relegation after all.

Seamus Coleman (Everton) – scored with a clinical effort that cannoned off the post before going in and provided the assist for Lennon’s winner. Overall, a man-of-the-match performance from the attack-minded defender.

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