Premier League Roundup: Chelsea blow it, Swansea, Spurs and Palace win

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Nervy nail-biters were the order of the day in the Premier League, as we’re still no clearer to unraveling the picture at both ends of the standings.

Although at the top of the standings, title-chasing Chelsea suffered a hammer blow in their quest for the PL crown as they wee beaten at home under Jose Mourinho for the first time ever. Bottom side Sunderland were the victors, as a late penalty means Mourinho tastes defeat at home for the first time in 77 PL matches. Incredible.

(MORE: Latest Premier League standings)

Swansea City were the big winners down the bottom as they beat Newcastle, while Crystal Palace sealed their fifth-straight win to secure their place in the PL next season. As for the teams in the relegation zone Fulham loss at Spurs, Cardiff drew at home to Stoke, while Sunderland bagged that crucial win at Chelsea.

If you missed any of the action, don’t worry we have you covered.

Below are the recaps, brief analysis and video highlights to satisfy your PL needs. Enjoy… what a Saturday!

Aston Villa 0-0 Southampton

Stalemate at Villa Park, as Saints spurned three glorious chances to win with Rickie Lambert (twice) and Adam Lallana the guilty parties. Aston Villa thwarted Saints’ attempts and had a few half chances of their own, but Paul Lambert’s side were more than content to grab another point as they ease away from the relegation zone. Saints had a late penalty appeal turned down, as they remain in eighth spot with Villa in 12th on 35 points. They are five points clear of the drop zone with three games left, so the Villans, just, should be around in the PL next season.

Cardiff City 1-1 Stoke City

The Bluebirds missed a big chance to draw level with Norwich outside the relegation zone, as Ole Gunnar Solksjaer’s boys ran out of steam at home. Stoke City took a first half lead through a dubious penalty, as Marko Arnautovic slammed home on his birthday. Then Howard Webb pointed to the spot for a second time after the break, with Peter Whittingham scoring for Cardiff. The Bluebirds had a goal disallowed for offside, but in truth they had their ‘keeper David Marshall to thank for a string of fine saves, plus the woodwork helped them out. Still in the battle against the drop, but time is running out for Cardiff.

Chelsea 1-2 Sunderland

Jose Mourinho’s unbeaten home run in the Premier League as Chelsea’s manager is over, as Sunderland delivered a hammer blow in the Blues’ hopes of lifting the title. Samuel Eto’o gave Chelsea an early lead but Connor Wickham equalized within six minutes as Sunderland dug in to frustrate the title chasers. Despite relentless pressure, it was the Black Cats who scored late on to win it, as U.S. international Jozy Altidore won a slightly dubious penalty kick in the 82nd minute which Fabio Borini slotted home. Afterwards Mourinho lost the plot in his TV interview, launching a tirade against the referees, as the ‘Special One’ and Chelsea saw their title hopes dashed by the bottom club. Sensational.

Newcastle United 1-2 Swansea City

A stoppage-time penalty kick from Wilfried Bony sealed a valuable three points for Swansea, as the South Wales side all but secured their Premier League status. Newcastle had taken the lead through Shola Ameobi midway through the first half but Bony headed home a lovely equalizer on the stroke of half time to send the teams in level. Both sides pushed for the winner but the pivotal moment arrived in time added on as sub Marvin Emnes raced clear and was brought down by Cheick Tiote in the box. Swansea are now on 36 points and should be safe, while Newcastle have lost five-straight games.

Tottenham Hotspur 3-1 Fulham

Spurs were sloppy for most of the first half and although they took the lead against Fulham, thanks to Paulinho’s tap-in from a sublime Chirstian Eriksen free kick, the Cottagers had most of the play. Steve Sidwell equalized two minutes later, as the Lilywhites were showing exactly why they’d won two-straight before their trip to White Hart Lane. Spurs were much better after the break and youngster Harry Kane scored his third goal in three games for Spurs with a deft header, before Younes Kaboul knocked home yet another stunning delivery from Eriksen. Fulham were handed a lifeline 15 minutes from time as Eriksen handled in the box, but Sidwell saw his spot kick saved by Hugo Lloris as Spurs held on for the win. Tottenham stay in sixth, while Fulham remain two points from safety with three games to go.

West Ham United 0-1 Crystal Palace

A club record five wins in a row has seen the Eagles soar to 11th place, as Tony Pulis’ men are absolutely flying. A narrow win, thanks to Mile Jedinak’s penalty kick, away at London rivals West Ham means they are mathematically safe and now have their sights set on finishing in the top half of the standings. As for West Ham, they huffed and puffed but were unable to break down a stubborn Palace team with Andy Carroll, amongst other, spurning good opportunities to score.

Mourinho denies bust-up with Rose

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Jose Mourinho has denied he has had a training ground bust-up with left back Danny Rose.

Reports had circulated that Rose and Mourinho were involved in a heated argument in training on Monday after the England left back was unhappy to be left out of the squad for the 0-0 draw at Watford on Saturday.

Mourinho had said that Rose was out injured with a back problem but the left back has since denied he wasn’t fit to play against the Hornets.

Speaking to the media ahead of Spurs’ home game against Norwich on Wednesday (Watch live, 2:30 p.m. ET online via NBCSports.com), Mourinho wasn’t having any of it.

“I don’t know what you mean by tension in the air, I don’t have a problem with him,” Mourinho said. “On the Thursday before Watford late evening I got a call from my medical staff saying that Danny was calling them with a problem in his back and he wouldn’t train the next day. Friday it was a bit of a surprise to see him training, but even so I decided to play with (Japhet) Tanganga and have Ryan (Sessegnon) on the bench. That is the situation.”

Mourinho added that Rose’s display against Liverpool was “not phenomenal” and reading between the lines, he was dropped.

If there wasn’t an incident or at least some anger between Rose and Mourinho, why would reports of this nature surface?

With youngster Japhet Tanganga starting at left back for Tottenham, and doing a very good job as Mourinho praised him afterwards, it is understandable that Rose would have his nose put out of joint a little.

The England international has less than 18 months left on his current contract at Spurs and has already spoken publicly about his plans to run down that deal as chairman Daniel Levy hasn’t offered him a new deal.

It will be intriguing to see how this plays out as Tanganga now seems to be Spurs’ first choice left back and Rose will have to be happy with playing a bit-part role between now and the end of the season.

His experience and quality is undoubted but with Spurs’ defensive unit all over the place this season, Mourinho is well within his rights to mix things up with formations and personnel as he tries to make Tottenham tough to beat.

Solskjaer: United have made “strides forward”

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Ole Gunnaer Solskjaer believes his Manchester United side have taken “strides forward” following their 2-0 defeat at bitter rivals Liverpool on Sunday.

United were outplayed for the vats majority of the game and were lucky to be only 1-0 down heading into the 90th minute but the grit and determination they showed impressed Solskjaer who lauded his young team.

Without the injured star duo of Marcus Rashford and Paul Pogba for the daunting trip to the Premier League leaders, United’s manager was in a positive mood ahead of their clash against Burnley on Wednesday (Watch live, 3:15 p.m. ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com).

“We lost to Liverpool. A team that you all say are fantastic and we’ve been in the game until the last kick of the ball. For me, that’s strides forward,” Solskjaer said. “Of course we’re disappointed about losing the game. We don’t want to be behind them in the league. But there are signs there that we’re on the right track, definitely.”

Is Solskjaer’s positivity misplaced?

Some would argue that United were lucky that Liverpool’s finishing was lackluster and that is true but the Red Devils hung in there and should have equalized in the second half but Anthony Martial blazed over.

They were missing at least four or five players in key areas for the trip to United as Rashford, Pogba and Scott McTominay were out injured and they badly need another attacking midfielder (ahem, Bruno Fernandes) to help with their play in the final third.

Solskjaer is right, there were positives for United. Fred played extremely well in midfield and both Luke Shaw and Aaron Wan-Bissaka stood tall defensively out wide. But the main takeaway from their trip to Liverpool was that United were delighted to not lose by three or four goals. The gulf in class between the two teams was clear for all to see and although United are trying to sort out their disjointed and confused squad by signing young, talented players, they are so far off Liverpool it is scary.

USMNT youngster Vassilev praised by Villa boss

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18-year-old USMNT youngster Indiana Vassilev has been praised by Aston Villa boss Dean Smith after making his Premier League debut at the weekend.

Vasillev came on for the final 25 minutes at Brighton and Hove Albion with Villa 1-0 down and helped them rescue a point as his run opened up the chance for Jack Grealish to score a late equalizer.

The lively attacking midfielder/forward has excelled in Villa’s reserve side after his arrival in England in the summer of 2018 following impressive displays for the U.S. youth national teams.

With Villa struggling with injuries up top after main striker Wesley went down with a season-ending injury early this month, Smith is clearly ready to put his faith in Vassilev.

“He is definitely ready to start,” Smith said. “The kid’s a bright spark, and we’ve seen that when he’s come on so far. He gave them (Brighton) problems on Saturday when he came on. It was a super ball from Douglas but, unless Indi makes that run down the side, he doesn’t drag Webster across, and Jack get in for the goal. He knows what he’s doing up there, he’s got a lot of pace, and he can run all day as well.”

Villa’s boss didn’t stop there though, as he also revealed that the young striker born in Savannah, Georgia has the backing of the senior players around him to go on and become a regular contributor in the Premier League.

“I’ve never been afraid to go and put young kids in if I feel they’re ready. I congratulated him after the game and said, ‘You’re a Premier League player now.’ He’s surprised me in a good way,” Smith added. “Sometimes when you give an opportunity to a young player they can sink or swim. He is certainly a swimmer. He has looked really good so far. You can always tell how the reaction is through the other players, in their relationships with them. You can see them all behind him. He goes in and puts a shift in for them. If you do that and have quality to add to it you will do alright in the dressing room. He’s got a goalscoring ability, he knows where the back of the net is, he knows what runs to make. Tactically he’s intelligent. Physically he’s impressive as well.”

Vassilev comes from a long line of soccer players and his father, grandfather and great-grandfather all played in Bulgaria and he was born and raised in the USA after his parents emigrated from the eastern European country in the early 1990s.

It looks like the USMNT have another top talent breaking through in Europe which is great news for Gregg Berhalter and potentially even better news for Villa as they badly need a forward to deliver goals in their fight against relegation from the Premier League.

Expect to see more cameos, and maybe even starts, from Vassilev in the final months of the Premier League season.

Chicharito on LA Galaxy arrival: ‘Right place, right time’

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Javier ‘Chicharito‘ Hernandez has made a living out of being in the right place at the right time.

The LA Galaxy’s newest Designated Player believes he is now in the “right place at the right time” in his career as Mexico’s all-time leading goalscorer confirmed his move to Major League Soccer.

Hernandez, 31, joins the Galaxy from Sevilla in La Liga and the former Chivas Guadalajara, Manchester United, Bayer Leverkusen and West Ham United striker is ready to take MLS by storm.

“Like when people describe me playing. You know, that he’s always in the right place at the right time,” Hernandez said in his first interview as a Galaxy player, with the LA Times.

After a few years battling for minutes at West Ham in the Premier League and Sevilla in Spain after a successful spell at Leverkusen, Hernandez is heading closer to home as the Mexico star is ready to play week in, week out for the most-successful franchise in MLS history.

“I’m going to be playing. That’s what I want in my life,” Hernandez said. “People are going to say it was because I couldn’t make it [in Europe], but sometimes in football there are things that are not in your hands. The last two years, the managers decided on giving confidence to other players rather than me. And now, the LA Galaxy, the manager of the club and the league, are telling me, ‘Look, Javier, we want to give you all the trust, all the confidence to help us,’ and that’s why I’m taking this opportunity.”

He will link up with Mexico teammate Jonathan dos Santos in the Galaxy’s team as they try and wrestle back the City of Angels from MLS new boys and reigning Supporters’ Shield champions LAFC.

Hernandez was always destined to play in MLS before he retired and now that day has arrived. Following in the footsteps of Zlatan Ibrahimovic will not be easy but if anyone can score goals, it is Hernandez.

Get ready for his jersey to be the fastest-selling in history as Mexico’s favorite son is ready to become an even bigger star in MLS in the final years of his career.