Cleat Geeks

PREMIER LEAGUE ROUND UP – JANUARY 18TH

A five-star performance from Chelsea away at Swansea on Saturday extended the Blues’ lead at the Premier League summit to five points, after their nearest rivals Manchester City were beaten at home by Arsenal on Sunday.

Chelsea’s Saturday afternoon romp began after only 48 seconds when sloppy passing from Swansea gifted the ball to Oscar who let fly with a strike from outside the area that beat ‘keeper Lukasz Fabianski. Three goals in sixteen minutes finished the game off as a contest, with Diego Costa doubling his sides’ lead on 20 minutes after a neat exchange of passes on the edge of the penalty area from Cesc Fabregas, Oscar and Willian. Costa grabbed his second goal of the game after a terrible back pass from Argentinian defender Federico Fernandez that never looked likely to reach Fabianski, and the Spanish international duly tucked away the opportunity. That strike was his 17th in the league this season. Two minutes later Oscar grabbed his second of the game too. The Brazilian rifled home Costa’s cut back from the right and Jose Mourinho’s men led 4-0 after 36 minutes. German international Andre Schurrle came off the bench to add a fifth goal on 79 minutes to round off a performance Mourinho described as “unexpectedly comfortable.” Meanwhile, Swans boss Garry Monk apologised to his Portuguese counterpart for not giving Chelsea a game.

Arsenal went to Manchester on Sunday having picked up just one point in their last seven games against United and City. However, Arsenal produced an uncharacteristic defensively solid display at the Etihad Stadium and ran out winners, with a clean sheet to boot. City captain Vincent Kompany clumsily fouled Nacho Monreal in the box and referee Mike Dean had no hesitation in pointing to the spot. Santi Cazorla beat Joe Hart from twelve yards to put the North Londoners ahead on 24 minutes. The Gunners finished the game with only 35% of possession but defended resolutely, with Aaron Ramsey, Francis Coquelin and Cazorla getting through a vast amount of work in hassling the home side when not in possession, while Per Mertesacker and Laurent Koscielny were both instrumental in shutting City out. Olivier Giroud headed Arsenal’s second goal on 67 minutes to wrap up the win, Arsenal’s first away to City since October 2010.

An injury hit Southampton made the long trip north to face managerless Newcastle at St James Park on Saturday night, and they came away with a win that keeps them third in the league. Dutch midfielder Eljero Elia joined Ronald Koeman’s side earlier this month and his two goals earned the Saints another three points on the road. Newcastle ‘keeper Tim Krul should have stopped Elia’s first goal, his low shot passing beneath the Dutch shot stopper. The Magpies equaliser was somewhat fortuitous, centre-back Florin Gardos slid in to clear a ball that seemed destined to be gathered by goalkeeper Fraser Forster, only to hit it against Newcastle’s Yoan Gouffran, the ball then looped over the grounded Saints ‘keeper and the home side were level. However Southampton, who were without first-teamers Morgan Schneiderlin, Sadio Mane, Toby Alderweireld and Victor Wanyama, retook the lead just past the hour mark when Elia grabbed his second goal of the game. This time the 27 year-old raced onto a Shane Long knock down before beating Krul again and 2-1 is how it stayed.

Substitutes Marouane Fellaini and James Wilson were the scorers for Manchester United as they beat QPR 2-0 at Loftus Road. United ‘keeper David De Gea pulled off a couple of great saves to deny Rangers striker Charlie Austin, but in the end United were good value for their win. After the game, Hoops boss Harry Redknapp denied he would lose his job following the defeat, claiming an ‘insider’ at the club was stirring up trouble in the media; “I have spoken to the owner Tony Fernandes five times this week and he’s not mentioned anything,” he told the BBC. “It’s this ‘insider’ who is trying to cause a problem. Who do you believe – the chairman or ‘the insider’?”

Spurs stayed in the hunt for European football next season courtesy of a late winner from Danish international Christian Eriksen at home to Sunderland. Belgian centre-back Jan Vertonghen gave the hosts the lead after three minutes after his effort from the edge of the area deflected in off John O’Shea. Jermain Defoe was making his Sunderland debut against his former club, but it was Seb Larsson who equalised with a sublime free-kick from 25 yards out. The game looked to be heading for a draw before Eriksen’s low strike that went in off the post. Spurs have now won 10 points with goals scored on 88 minutes or later this season. Meanwhile, the Black Cats have won just one of their last twelve Premier League games.

Pressure continues to mount on Aston Villa manager Paul Lambert after they lost 2-0 at home to Liverpool. Fabio Borini and Rickie Lambert scored either side of half-time for Brendan Rodgers side, who are unbeaten in their last six league games. Villa have now scored only 11 goals in 22 league games and are without a win in seven, and some sections of the Villa Park faithful’s calls for Lambert’s head are beginning to get louder.

Alan Pardew maintained his 100% record with Crystal Palace thanks to a rousing comeback away at Burnley. A rare goal from Ben Mee and a strike from Danny Ings had put the home side in control after only 16 minutes, but a brace from Dwight Gayle and one from Jason Puncheon turned the match on it’s head and the Eagles left Turf Moor with all three points. Pardew told the BBC; “We made it a really tough game for ourselves today. The character of the group doesn’t surprise me, it’s a fantastic lift for us.” Palace are now up to 12th in the league while Burnley sit just one place and one point above the relegation zone.

Leicester City continue to prop up the rest after they were beaten by a goal to nil at home to Stoke. Bojan’s neat turn and shot from just inside the box proved to be the difference at the King Power Stadium. The win moves the Potters into the top half of the table, while the Foxes remain three points from safety.

A strong second half display from West Ham ensured they picked up all three points at home to Hull City. The Hammers took the lead five minutes after half-time when Andy Carroll pounced on the loose ball after Hull ‘keeper Alan McGregor spilt Kevin Nolan’s shot. Substitute Morgan Amalfitano doubled the lead on 69 minutes and Stewart Downing’s fifth goal of the season three minutes later made sure of the points for the Hammers. Hull stay in the bottom three, while West Ham sit seventh, just four points off the Champions League places.

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