Cleat Geeks

PREMIER LEAGUE – ROUND 26

Chelsea saw their lead at the top of the Premier League cut to five points in round 26, after they were held to a 1-1 draw at home to Burnley and Manchester City demolished Newcastle 5-0.

Jose Mourinho was left fuming at Martin Atkinson’s decision not to award his side a penalty on 33 minutes when Michael Kightly appeared to handle Branislav Ivanovic’s shot in the area. Just moments before half-time Chelsea again appealed for a penalty when Jason Shackell appeared to push Diego Costa over in the 18 yard box, but again referee Atkinson saw differently.

However, the Blues did go into the interval with a 1-0 lead, thanks to Ivanovic’s 14th minute goal. The big Serbian defender’s 6th goal of the season owed much to the skills of Eden Hazard who provided the assist.

matic

Nemanja Matic will miss Chelsea’s next three domestic games – including next Sunday’s League Cup Final.

The game changed on 70 minutes when Nemanja Matic was sent off. The Serbian midfielder was the victim of an horrendous challenge by Clarets’ Ashley Barnes. Matic reacted angrily to the foul and barged Barnes over, right in front of the referee, who immediately brandished the red card. To add insult to injury, no further action was taken on Barnes, who really ought to have been sent off himself for the initial challenge.

The visitors began to create chances themselves having the advantage of the extra man, Barnes was denied superbly by Thibaut Courtois in the Chelsea goal. The Belgian stopper was beaten from the resulting corner, though. Centre-back Ben Mee heading in at the far post to earn Sean Dyche’s men an unlikely point at Stamford Bridge.

Mourinho expressed his anger at Barnes’ tackle and Matic’s dismissal, which means he will miss Chelsea’s next three domestic games – including next Sunday’s League Cup Final. “It could be the end of Matic’s career. A criminal tackle. Matic is a very lucky guy,” Mourinho said. “Another club would have the power to appeal Matic’s red card.”

Manchester City’s 5-0 thumping of John Carver’s Newcastle wouldn’t have improved the Portuguese manager’s mood much either. It didn’t take long for City to hit the front, Vurnon Anita clumsily fouled the recalled Edin Dzeko in the box after only 27 seconds and Sergio Aguero converted the resulting penalty. It was the Argentinian striker’s 97th goal in 150 appearances for the club.

scored his 97th goal in his 150th appearance.

Sergio Aguero scored his 97th goal in his 150th appearance.

Just ten minutes later Carver’s men found themselves 2-0 down, Samir Nasri showing some neat footwork in the box before hammering home past Tim Krul. Nine minutes later it was game over. David Silva floated a sensational ball into the area and Dzeko chested it down superbly, before smashing a side foot volley past the Dutch ‘keeper.

Carver apologised to the travelling Newcastle fans after the hiding at the Etihad, as they virtually fell to pieces.

City’s fourth goal came early in the second half, Spanish international Silva was picked out in the box by Nasri this time and he clinically made it four. Only a matter of minutes later Silva had his second of the game, Aguero chesting down Yaya Toure’s long ball into the path of the midfielder, who bent the ball around Krul to complete the scoring. That goal took the 29 year-old’s tally to nine for the season. Wilfried Bony, City’s $28 million January signing from Swansea, came on off the bench to make his debut for the Manchester club.

The battle for the two remaining Champions League places is heatting up and there were mixed fortunes for Arsenal, Tottenham, Manchester United, Southampton and Liverpool over the weekend.

Swansea City claimed their first ever league double over United, beating them 2-1 at the Liberty Stadium – the same scoreline they defeated them at Old Trafford on the opening day of the season.

It was the visitors who took the lead, though, through Ander Herrera. Wayne Rooney passed to Angel Di Maria on the edge of the Swans’ penalty area and the Argentine midfielder teed up Herrera for his 5th goal in only 9 appearances this season.

Angel Di Maria.

Angel Di Maria.

South Korean international Ki Sung-Yeung equalised only two minutes later, and the Welsh side turned the game around on 73 minutes.
Jonjo Shelvey unleashed a 25 yard strike that bounced up off team mate Bafetimbi Gomis, looping the ball over David De Gea. Gomis claimed it, giving him his fifth goal for the club.

Despite the defeat, manager Louis Van Gaal still believes United can handle the pressure of battling for a top four spot; “I think every game that Manchester United plays, you have to manage that, because this is a top club,” he said. “The players and the manager have to manage that. It’s normal.”

Arsenal went third thanks to a 2-1 away win over Crystal Palace. Pape Soare dallied in possession and was tackled by Danny Welbeck on the edge of the area. The Senegalese international tripped the ex-Manchester United man and referee Mark Clattenburg awarded the visitors a penalty. Santi Cazorla stepped up and scored to give the Gunners the lead on eight minutes.

Olivier Giroud doubled the lead just before half-time after Welbeck’s shot had been parried by Julian Speroni, the French striker reacted quickest to prod home from four yards out.

Olivier Giroud.

Olivier Giroud.

Palace got one back three minutes into added time, Glenn Murray scrambled the ball past David Ospina in the Arsenal goal and might even have bagged an equaliser, but he saw his header cannon back off the post with only seconds to go.

Arsene Wenger admitted after the game that his side was lucky to escape from Selhurst Park with all three points; “‘We know in the Premier League that it’s never done, especially at 2-0. With that ball on the post we were a bit fortunate.”

Tottenham recovered from 2-0 down to grab a dramatic 2-2 draw at home to West Ham, with Harry Kane scoring the 95th minute equaliser.
The Hammers took the lead on 22 minutes when Cheikhou Kouyate headed in Aaron Cresswell’s cross. Diafra Sakho made it 2-0 just past the hour mark, turning home Mark Noble’s cross from an almost impossible angle.

Spurs have recovered more points from losing positions than any other team in the Premier League this season, and Danny Rose’s volley into the ground from outside the area deceived Adrian in the West Ham goal and ended up in the back of the net, halving the deficit.

Alex Song.

Alex Song.

Barcelona loanee Alex Song brought down Kane in the box with less than a minute of added time to play. The 21 year-old took the resulting penalty himself but Adrian saved it, only to see the rebound fall back to him in the form striker who tapped in his 25th goal of the season.

Hammers boss Sam Allardyce said that he thought Spurs were fortunate to earn a point, saying; “It was more luck than talent that got Tottenham a point. The first goal was a complete mis-hit.”

Southampton were nilled for the third successive home league game as they lost to Liverpool at St Mary’s. Phillippe Coutinho scored a wonder goal after only three minutes, smashing in a right-footed shot from 30 yards out that gave goalkeeper Fraser Forster no chance.

The home side enjoyed the majority of possession but failed to break down the Merseysiders, who themselves have now kept five straight clean sheets on the road.

Raheem Sterling bagged his ninth goal of the season with 17 minutes left to play to seal the victory, which takes them to within a point of Southampton, who slip down to 5th.

Meanwhile, at the bottom of the table, Hull City claimed a priceless victory over ten man QPR at the KC Stadium. January signing Dame N’Doye scored the winner – his second in two starts for the Tigers.

Steven Caulker’s attempted headed clearance was volleyed home by Croatian striker Nikica Jelavic to give City the lead after 16 minutes. The hosts also had a man advantage just after the half hour mark, Joey Barton hitting Tom Huddlestone with a low blow, right in front of referee Anthony Taylor, who showed Barton the 6th Premier League red card of his career.

Rangers had been playing well until that point and grabbed a well deserved equaliser just six minutes after being reduced to ten men. Matty Phillips swung in a delightful cross from the right and Charlie Austin rose highest to head it in. It was the 25 year-old’s 14th goal of the season.

Hull would win it at the death, though, through N’Doye’s strike. With one minute left to play, the Senegalese striker saw his initial shot well saved by former England international ‘keeper Rob Green. Robbie Brady picked up the loose ball, crossed, and the £3 million signing was on hand to head past Green and secure the win for City.

After the game Tigers boss Steve Bruce said; “It was a huge result. It was good to – for a change – score in the last minute which is always nice.”

There was late drama at Villa Park too, as Tim Sherwood took charge of Aston Villa for the first time in the league, against Stoke City.

Manchester City loanee Scott Sinclair headed Sherwood’s charges in front after 20 minutes, getting on the end of Fabian Delph’s cross.
That was only Villa’s 13th league goal this season and throughout this match they mustered only two shots on target. The Potters would eventually make them pay the price.

This time it was Stoke who scored from a header. Stephen Ireland crossed and Mame Biram Diouf beat Brad Guzan for his seventh goal of the season on the stroke of half-time.

In the second minute of added time, Victor Moses dispossessed Villa captain Ron Vlaar on the edge of the penalty area. The Dutch centre back’s desperate lunge brought down the Nigerian and referee Roger East awarded the Potters a penalty. He also showed Vlaar a second yellow card for the offence, meaning the home side finished the match with ten men. Moses picked himself up and converted the spot kick to earn Stoke a first win in February.

Sunderland and West Brom played out a fairly dull 0-0 draw at the Stadium of Light. The Black Cats felt aggrieved that Baggies centre-back Joleon Lescott was not sent off for pulling back Danny Graham, when he appeared to be the last defender. Referee Mike Jones showed the former Everton and Man City man a yellow card only.

Under-fire Sunderland manager Gus Poyet said of the incident; “Of course Lescott is making contact with Danny and the referee is giving nothing.”
Meanwhile, his opposite number Tony Pulis had a slightly different view on the incident; “I have seen old women in the high street take more of a knock and stay on their feet than what the lad did.”

Finally, Everton have had a disappointing season so far and entertained bottom of the table Leicester City at Goodison Park on Sunday. All the goals came in the second half, as both sides had to settle for a point.

It was the home side who took the lead, Steven Naismith’s low shot from inside the box beat Mark Schwarzer at his near post just before the hour.
The lead lasted just six minutes, though, as the Foxes turned the game on it’s head with two goals in seven minutes.

First, David Nugent came on off the bench and had an immediate impact, netting the leveller. Tim Howard palmed Jamie Vardy’s – who had also just come on – cross into the path of the boyhood Everton fan and he made no mistake with his finish.

Vardy was again the provider for Leicester’s second goal, picking the ball up after a poor punch clear from Howard, he crossed and Esteban Cambiasso was on hand to put the ball past the United States ‘keeper.
Everton pressed forward in search of an equaliser, and were almost caught out on the counter attack as the game became wide open and end to end.

In the 90th minute, an Everton substitute this time – Christian Atsu – played a low cross into the near post from the left hand side. Romelu Lukaku flung himself at the ball but Foxes centre-back Matthew Upson beat him to it and inadvertently knocked the ball past his own ‘keeper, which gave Everton a late point.

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