Premier League Roundup: Chelsea and Man City keep pressure on at the top

3 Comments

On Saturday we witnessed a monumental day in the Premier League, as teams at the top bagged big wins, and sides at the bottom scrapping for their lives also secured much-needed victories.

Chelsea and Manchester City both saw off spirited Stoke and Southampton sides respectively, as they pile the pressure on Liverpool who play on Sunday. At the bottom, Fulham sealed a superb win over Aston Villa as Felix Magath’s men are now just five points from safety and have given themselves a fighting chance of staying up.

(MORE: Latest Premier League standings)

Crystal Palace hammered Cardiff 3-0 away from home, as the Bluebirds look to be doomed, while Hull beat Swansea and West Brom beat Norwich to ease both of their relegation worries.

If you missed any of the action, here are recaps, analysis and highlights of all the action. Enjoy!

Aston Villa 1-2 Fulham

The Cottagers bagged a crucial win thanks to Kieran Richardson’s belter and a strike from Hugo Rodallega, which cancelled out Grant Holt’s equalizer. Villa are now looking nervously over their shoulder, as Fulham are sparking an unlikely survival bid. They can’t do it… can they? What a great escape this would be by the West Londoners, who thoroughly deserved three points from this match.

Cardiff 0-3 Crystal Palace

Ole Gunnar Solksjaer has all but given up, as the Bluebirds “need a miracle” to stay up this season. Palace were simply superb away from home, as a double from Jason Puncheon was added to by Cardiff product Joe Ledley who failed to celebrate his goal out of respect for his hometown club. The Eagles are now soaring away from the bottom three, while Cardiff are second from bottom with five games to go.

Chelsea 3-0 Stoke City

Jose Mourinho’s side bounced back from two-straight defeats to hammer Stoke at Stamford Bridge. Mohamed Salah’s first half goal was added to by Frank Lampard and the hugely impressive Willian in the second half. Stoke were outclassed after they went behind in the 30th minute, and Chelsea never looked back as they prepare to face Paris Saint-Germain in style.

Hull City 1-0 Swansea City

The Tigers are almost safe after a crucial three points at the KC Stadium. Hull needed this win, big time, and it came courtesy of George Boyd’s header just before half time. Swansea looked nervous and snatched at several chances in the second half as they aimed to equalize, now Garry Monk’s men are just six-points above the bottom three and will endure a nervous end to the season.

Manchester City 4-1 Southampton

Don’t be fooled by the scoreline, City were second best for most of the opening half but somehow led 3-1 at the break. An early penalty from Yaya Toure set the favorites for the PL title on their way, but then Rickie Lambert scored from that spot to deservedly put Saints level. However a real moment of controversy arrived in first half stoppage time, as David Silva teed up Samir Nasri to put City 2-1 up, but Silva was stood five yards offside. Saints manager Mauricio Pochettino was incensed, but another goal from Edin Dzeko before the break and a late Stevan Jovetic strike sealed the win. Bad news for Saints and England, Jay Rodriguez suffered a nasty looking knee injury and could miss the World Cup.

Newcastle 0-4 Manchester United

Juan Mata is clicking into ominous form for Man United, as the diminutive Spaniard curled in a free kick then slotted in a second, before setting up Adnan Januzaj to score with his wonderful back-heel late on. Javier Hernandez netted United’s other goal, as Newcastle were woeful and David Moyes hailed his squad players who stepped in and delivered. Next up: Bayern Munich away in the UEFA Champions League quarterfinal.

Norwich City 0-1 West Bromwich Albion

Morgan Amalfitano scored the game’s only goal, as the Baggies celebrated just their second win under Pepe Mel. It was a tight and tense affair at Carrow Road, as Norwich now sit just one place above the drop zone after losing this crucial relegation six-pointer. Massive win for West Brom, but are the Canaries in danger of being relegated?

Neymar makes history in PSG’s 8-0 thrashing of Dijon

Photo by Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images
Leave a comment

A pair of statements which are both true, and not at all mutually exclusive, if you allow logic and balance to prevail: 1) Neymar and his friends at Paris Saint-Germain are quite good at the soccer; 2) they aren’t challenged enough in Ligue 1.

[ MORE: Wednesday’s transfer rumor roundup | Tuesday | Friday ]

Of course, they’ll be challenged plenty during the latter stages of the Champions League (they drew Real Madrid in the round of 16), but on a weekly basis, the level of competition in their domestic league isn’t of a high standard to indicate just how good they are. That’s the new debate with regard to PSG — it’s no longer, “Are they good? Maybe they’re just a big fish in a small pond.”

On Wednesday, led by Neymar, the most expensive transfer signing of all-time, Unai Emery’s side thrashed 10th-place Dijon to the tune of 8-0. As mentioned, Neymar did slightly more than just pull his own weight — four goals to go with a pair of assists; he lent a direct hand in six of the eight goals.

[ MORE: Chelsea survive Norwich in PKs, reach FA Cup 4th round ]

Even the statistical whizzes at Opta appear somewhat stumped by such an abundance of goals.

Anytime the keepers of stats toss out a “since we started collecting data,” be proud of your achievement. Be very, very proud.

FA Cup: Chelsea, Swansea into 4th rd; B’mouth ousted by Wigan

Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Two more Premier League sides booked their place in the fourth round of the FA Cup, courtesy of third-round replays, on Wednesday, bringing the PL’s total representation to 14 clubs…

[ MORE: Tuesday’s 3rd-round replay roundup ]

Chelsea 1-1 (5-3 PKs) Norwich City

Chelsea’s scoreless streak — for both themselves and opponents (three straight 0-0 draws across all competitions) — came to a merciful end on Wednesday, but not before surpassing the 300-minute mark. Michy Batshuayi — who, it must be said, struggled mightily in making just his third start (all in cup competitions) since mid-October — broke yet another scoreless deadlock in the 55th minute, ending the Blues’ scoreless run at 331 minutes.

With barely 30 seconds remaining in second-half stoppage time, 19-year-old left back Jamal Lewis brought the Canaries level with a thunderous header off the post.

Extra-time saw Chelsea reduced to 10, and then nine, men. Pedro was booked for diving just after the hour mark, and the Spaniard earned a second yellow card for a wild challenge in the 117th minute. Four minutes later, in second-half extra-time stoppage time, Alvaro Morata was booked for diving and proceeded to shout and gesticulate in the referee’s face. A second yellow was shown immediately.

Willy Caballero denied Nelson Oliveira on Norwich’s first attempt of the ensuing penalty shootout, giving the Blues the only cushion they’d need as Willian, David Luiz, Cesar Azpilicueta, N'Golo Kante and Eden Hazard all converted.

Chelsea will host Newcastle United in the fourth round on Sunday, Jan. 28.

[ MORE: Wednesday’s transfer rumor roundup | Tuesday | Friday ]

Swansea City 2-1 Wolverhampton Wanderers

Swansea faced the greatest threat of a Cupset on Wednesday but managed to come out on top, knocking off runaway Championship leaders and champions-elect Wolves. The Swans went ahead through Jordan Ayew in the 11th minute before the prolific Diogo Jota, who’ll be in the PL one way or another next season, brought Wolves back to 1-1 in the 66th. Three minutes later, Wilfried Bony bagged the winner to see Carlos Carvalhal’s side through to the next round.

Swansea will visit League Two side Notts County, who knocked off Championship playoff hopefuls Brentford in the third round, on Saturday, Jan. 27.

Wigan Athletic 3-0 Bournemouth

Bournemouth sat 32 places above Wigan in the English football pyramid when Wednesday’s replay kicked off, and it matter not a single iota, as Paul Cook’s side hammered the Cherries at the DW Stadium. Sam Morsy, Dan Burn and Callum Elder bagged the goals for the League One leaders (three points clear after 26 of 46 rounds played). Wigan have alternated each of the last four seasons, finishing 23rd in the Championship and leading/winning League One. It’s been five years since the Latics were relegated from the PL, in the 2012-13 season.

Wigan will host West Ham United in the fourth round on Saturday, Jan. 27.

Sir Alex’s son in trouble for saying he’d “shoot” refs

Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images
Leave a comment

LONDON (AP) It clearly runs in the family.

Former Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson was known for having an explosive temper during his nearly 27 years at Old Trafford, and it seems he has passed it down to his son.

Darren Ferguson, who is the manager of third-tier English team Doncaster, is in trouble for saying he would “shoot” referees because of what he perceived as their poor standards.

Ferguson was charged by the English Football Association on Wednesday for remarks that “were improper and/or brought the game into disrepute.”

The 45-year-old coach has already apologized, saying it was a “tongue-in-cheek comment” and that “I do not advocate violence against officials.”

Ferguson was unhappy his team was denied a penalty in a 1-1 draw with Plymouth on Saturday.

“The referees are part-time and the standard is appalling, their fitness levels are a disgrace, I’ve had enough of it,” Ferguson said after the match.

“What can I do? Shoot them, it would be a good idea.”

Follow Live: Chelsea, Swans, Cherries in FA Cup replays

Photo by Paul Gilham/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Chelsea, Swansea City, and Bournemouth look to avoid upsets in replays of their third round FA Cup matches.

[ LIVE: Follow all the FA Cup scores here ]

All three matches kick off at 2:45 p.m. ET

The Blues tangle with former Premier League peers Norwich City, this time at Stamford Bridge, in a bid to host a fourth round match with Newcastle United.

Antonio Conte‘s not messing around (too much) with the XI.

Swansea City and Wolves, meanwhile, are arguably battling for a bid in the fourth round, as a trip to Notts County is on the docket for the winner of Wednesday’s replay at the Liberty Stadium.

Bournemouth is at Wigan Athletic for a replay with the third-tier Latics, with the victor hosting West Ham United on Jan. 27.