Cleat Geeks

CHELSEA STAY SEVEN POINTS CLEAR WHILE UNITED MOVE UP TO THIRD

There was late drama at Stamford Bridge on Wednesday night as Chelsea beat Everton to maintain their seven point lead at the top of the Premier League table.

With the game level at 0-0, Nemanja Matic thought he had scored a late winner on 86 minutes, when his shot from the edge of the area beat Tim Howard, via a deflection. However, the linesman raised his flag for offside, and replays showed the ball had cannoned in off Branislav Ivanovic, who was in an offside position. Just two minutes later Everton were reduced to ten men, Gareth Barry tripped Willian and earned himself a second yellow card. Tempers between the two sides then flared and Ivanovic appeared to throw a headbutt at Toffees’ James McCarthy – something Jose Mourinho wouldn’t be drawn on in his post match interview. It was Willian who had the most telling contribution to the game, though, as he smashed a 20 yard volley past Howard one minute from the final whistle to give the Blues the victory. Chelsea have now won 11 of their 12 home games this season – conceding just four goals in the process.

Manchester City kept up the chase as they got back to winning ways with a 4-1 victory away at Stoke City. Sergio Aguero opened the scoring for City with a superb solo effort. He outmuscled Marc Muniesa near the halfway line to latch onto a long, hopeful clearance. The Argentine striker then ran at the Potters defence into the penalty area, before unleashing a right-footed strike past Asmir Begovic. The hosts were only behind for five minutes, though, Peter Crouch headed home a Marko Arnautovic cross to restore parity. Aguero should have had a second on the stroke of half-time as he appeared to have diverted a David Silva cross goalwards, before forcing the ball home with his hand. Referee Lee Mason wasn’t impressed and issued the 26 year-old a yellow card. Ten minutes into the second half James Milner headed City back in front, before Aguero did get his brace, this time from the penalty spot. Silva was brought down in the area and Aguero beat Begovic from 12 yards. Samir Nasri rounded off the scoring with an effort from the edge of the area 15 minutes from the end to earn the visitors their first win in four games in all competitions.

City’s neighbours Manchester United moved into third place with a comfortable 3-1 victory over local rivals Burnley at Old Trafford. Phil Jones limped off early on for the Red Devils and his replacement Chris Smalling helped himself to two goals, with the first coming from his first touch of the match. A corner from the left was flicked on by Robin Van Persie at the near post to Radamel Falcao at the back post, the Colombian headed the ball back into the middle of the six yard box and Smalling towered above the Clarets’ defenders and put the home side in front after only six minutes. Danny Ings has been in excellent goal scoring form this season and he got his 9th goal in 23 appearances this season to equalise just six minutes later. He met Kieran Trippier’s cross from the right with a diving header to beat David De Gea in the United goal. The scores were level until first half stoppage time when Smalling grabbed his second goal of the game. Angel Di Maria’s left footed cross from the right was headed in by the centre-back. A Van Persie penalty eight minutes from the end wrapped up all three points for United, who have lost just 1 of their last 15 Premier League matches.

Southampton slipped down to 4th in the table after they were held to a goalless draw by West Ham, who had goalkeeper Adrian sent off on 61 minutes. The Spaniard was put under pressure by Sadio Mane in his area, and his attempts to dribble the ball around the Senegalese international ended up with him falling on top of it outside his area. Referee Craig Pawson had no doubt the 28 year-old had handled the ball in the process and showed him the red card. Despite peppering the Hammers’ goal, the Saints couldn’t find a way through, and substitute ‘keeper Jussi Jaaskelainen preserved the visitors clean sheet through out the last 30 minutes.

Alan Pardew came up against his old side as Crystal Palace drew 1-1 with Newcastle at Selhurst Park. Six weeks ago the 53 year-old left the Magpies to take the managerial job at Palace, which gave this fixture a little added spice. The opening goal of the game came three minutes before half-time, Papiss Cisse headed in Daryl Janmaat’s cross to put Newcastle in front. Frazier Campbell ensured the hosts got a point from the game, tapping home Yannick Bolasie’s cross from six yards out. After the game, Pardew talked up his former understudy, John Carver, chances of landing the Newcastle manager job permanently, saying; “I see other Premier League managers and John has the qualities. He has conducted himself superbly.”

West Brom recorded their third win in fifteen league games after strikers Brown Ideye and Saido Berahino scored the goals in a 2-0 win over Swansea at The Hawthorns. Ideye’s goal came on the hour mark, after Berahino played neat ball through to the Nigerian striker whose initial shot was blocked by defender Ashley Williams, but he fired in the rebound from 12 yards out. The pair combined again for the second goal as Ideye layed the ball off to Berahino who smashed it past Lukasz Fabianski in the Swans’ goal. The win pulls the Baggies four points clear of the relegation zone while Swansea stay 9th.

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