Ian MacNicol/Getty Images

PL Saturday roundup: Top three win convincingly, United held to draw

1 Comment

No mistakes were made by the league’s top three sides on Saturday, with Manchester City, Arsenal and Liverpool all putting up four-goal performances.

However, not everyone had it so easy as Jose Mourinho and Manchester United were tripped up against Burnley.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

Here, we take a look back at Saturday’s action from around England’s top flight.

Sunderland 1-4 Arsenal — RECAP

Braces from Olivier Giroud and Alexis Sanchez helped pace the Gunners on Saturday to help the side keep chase with the rest of the PL’s elite clubs. Arsene Wenger‘s group are arguably the hottest side in England at the moment, having gone unbeaten in their last 14 matches across all competitions. Meanwhile, Sunderland continues to sit bottom of the table and David Moyes and co. are still in search of their first win of 2016/17.

Manchester United 0-0 Burnley — RECAP

It certainly wasn’t how Jose Mourinho drew it up, and two more dropped points is the story of the day for United, who now sit eight points off the pace set by rivals Manchester City. Despite an overwhelming amount of chances in the Burnley half, a combination of the Red Devils struggling to score and Tom Heaton‘s brilliance in net for the Clarets prevented United from breaking the deadlock. Heaton finished with an astonishing 11 saves on the day.

Middlesbrough 2-0 Bournemouth — RECAP

Gaston Ramirez was the star for the Boro, notching one of the best individual goals you’ll see. After picking the ball up well in his own half of the field, Ramirez decided to take on the entire Bournemouth team before finishing in the 39th minute. Stewart Downing doubled the lead for the hosts after halftime, temporarily halting the momentum for the Cherries.

WEST BROMWICH, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 29: Manager Josep Guardiola (C), and Manchester City players appluad supporters after the Premier League match between West Bromwich Albion and Manchester City at The Hawthorns on October 29, 2016 in West Bromwich, England. (Photo by Matthew Lewis/Getty Images)
Photo by Matthew Lewis/Getty Images

West Brom 0-4 Manchester City — RECAP

Sergio Aguero took care of business prior to halftime and then it was Ilkay Gundogan‘s chance to finish things off for the Citizens. Pep Guardiola and City remain atop the PL on 23 points, however, Saturday’s win served as a bigger confidence boost as it ended the team’s six-match winless streak in all competitions. Meanwhile, West Brom has now extended its winless streak to five straight games, leaving Tony Pulis‘ team three points out of the relegation zone.

Tottenham 1-1 Leicester City — RECAP

Spurs will be a bit disappointed not to have come away with a victory on Saturday but a point against the reigning champions is nothing to admonish. Mauricio Pochettino‘s men remain the only unbeaten side left in the PL through 10 matches, however, Tottenham currently sits three points out of first place. The Foxes continue to hover around mid table, but the team has now gone unbeaten in its last three matches across all competitions. Possibly a sign of positive things to come.

Watford 1-0 Hull City — RECAP

Hull continues to plummet in its first season back in England’s top flight, and Michael Dawson‘s late own goal certainly won’t help the spirits around the club. While Watford goes up to seventh place with Saturday’s result, the Tigers sit just above Swansea and Sunderland, giving Mike Phelan and co. very little room for error or else things could completely spiral out of control.

Crystal Palace 2-4 Liverpool — RECAP

There were goals galore at Selhurst Park; six to be precise. Liverpool continues to impress under second-year manager Jurgen Klopp, putting the Reds in the thick of things at the top along with City and Arsenal. Despite James McArthur‘s strong start for Palace, the Reds put together an equally impressive response to keep Palace winless in its last four games.

Dele drives Spurs past Norwich City

Tottenham Hotspur match recap and highlights
Photo by ADRIAN DENNIS/AFP via Getty Images
Leave a comment

A win is a win, even if Tottenham Hotspur’s 2-1 home defeat of Norwich City was anything but convincing in London.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

Dele Alli and Heung-Min Son scored as Spurs climbed sixth in the table with 34 points.

Teemu Pukki scored for the spot for the Canaries, who remain dead last and six points off the safe spaces.

Three things we learned

1. Spurs can score in 2020: The Premier League had not been kind to Jose Mourinho’s men since a they twice came back in a 2-2 draw with these same Canaries at Carrow Road. In fact, Spurs went 315 Premier League minutes without a goal before Dele got his first half marker on Wednesday. Losses to Saints and Liverpool were joined by a weekend draw at Watford, so this win was vital (Spurs thrice scored over two FA Cup matches versus Middlesbrough).

2. Bounces go the way of Spurs: Norwich can forgive itself for feeling a bit snakebit considering how poor Spurs looked for most of the day. Dele’s shot or cross was deflected high toward the back post, where Heung-min Son was able to nod it over the line from extreme close-up range.

3. Serge Aurier shines: Bad Serge Aurier shows up quite a bit, but the full back had a great day on Wednesday. Aurier had an assist to go with two interceptions and three tackles. He was a menace and stuck into 50-50 battles, earning plaudits on the day.

Erik Lamela was lively early for Spurs, seeing a free kick deflected out for a corner and another chance saved by Tim Krul.

Dele put Spurs ahead when he lunged past Christoph Zimmermann to poke a Serge Aurier cross past Krul. Heung-min Son set up the play with a lay-off to the Ivorian.

[ MORE: Premier League stats ] 

VAR was kind to Todd Cantwell early in the second half, as the sliding midfielder put his studs into Lamela and it was worth only a yellow card.

Spurs youngster Ryan Sessegnon fouled Max Aarons in the 68th to give Norwich a chance from the spot, and a long review did not lead to a reprieve. Pukki beat Lloris low and to the right for 1-1.

But Dele’s cross floated to Son for a back post winner and blushes were spared for Mourinho.

Leicester City smashes West Ham, loses Vardy

Photo by OLI SCARFF/AFP via Getty Images
Leave a comment

Leicester City snapped a two-match losing run with a 4-1 defeat of West Ham United on Wednesday.

The third-place Foxes move to 48 points, but lost Jamie Vardy and Nampalys Mendy to first half injuries.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

Harvey Barnes and Ricardo Pereira set each other up for goals and Ayoze Perez scored twice late in the win.

Mark Noble scored a penalty of his own for the losing side, whose 23 points are out of the drop zone on goal differential. The Irons have played one fewer match than everyone but Liverpool.

Three things we learned

1. Barnes rides high:  Harvey Barnes is having an uneven season in the Premier League, like many to just turn 22. But the youngster is certainly on an upswing, having scored in a weekend loss at Burnley and collecting a goal and an assist on Wednesday. His six assists lead the Foxes, and may just be the tip of the iceberg.

2. More of the same from West Ham (and that’s not good): David Moyes‘ West Ham looks a lot like Manuel Pellegrini‘s West Ham, which isn’t a surprise given the latter’s better reputation in recent seasons. It’s a draw and two losses since the 4-0 win over an abject Bournemouth, and the Irons’ match-in-hand on the relegation field is against Liverpool (who they still face twice). Felipe Anderson is set to miss a month and that won’t ease concerns either.

3. Vardy injury, defense a big concern: The league’s leading scorer got his leg stretched out on the pitch and was favoring his gluteal area in the first half, eventually limping off the field. Losing him would ask a lot of Kelechi Iheanacho.

The Foxes also would be wrong to overlook another goal conceded, even if it came by controversial penalty. Leicester has conceded in seven of eight league matches,  and five included multiple goals. It’s not a huge worry in a 4-1, but a trend indeed.

Man of the Match: Barnes.

Jamie Vardy cut into the box early but his first touch betrayed him and couldn’t get full power on a shot to Darren Randolph.

The in-form Barnes got the Foxes in front by turning a Ricardo Pereira dinked pass into the open goal.

An injury to Nampalys Mendy accelerated the return of Wilfred Ndidi to the pitch, the midfielder returning in the 34th minute.

Vardy was then forced off the pitch with an apparent back injury, bringing Kelechi Iheanacho into the fold in the 44th minute.

Barnes then returned the favor to Pereira, who whistled his effort into the goal in the fifth minute of first half stoppage time.

[ MORE: Premier League stats ] 

But hold on.

Noble needed just five second half minutes to pull one back for David Moyes’ men, as Sebastien Haller won a suspect penalty off Ndidi.

Kasper Schmeichel made a fine save on Michail Antonio to keep it 2-1.

Leiceste regained control and looked the only threat to make it 3-1 after that, with Perez converted a penalty after Angelo Ogbonna fouled Kelechi Iheanacho.

The Nigerian forward then set up Perez for his second to salt away the win.

Leicester City’s Vardy limps off pitch versus West Ham

Jamie Vardy injury
Photo by Tim Goode/PA Images via Getty Images
1 Comment

January is not being kind to English forwards.

Leicester City striker Jamie Vardy limped off the pitch at King Power Stadium on Wednesday, an apparent upper leg injury the cause.

It was a non-contact injury, as Vardy pulled up lame after clearing the ball.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ] 

Kelechi Iheanacho replaced Vardy, who leads the Premier League Golden Boot race by one goal over Sergio Aguero.

Chelsea’s Tammy Abraham was injured in Tuesday’s 2-2 draw with Arsenal, while Tottenham’s Harry Kane and Manchester United’s Marcus Rashford are all nursing long-term injuries.

That had led many to infer that England manager Gareth Southgate might ask Vardy to reconsider his international retirement, but here we are.

Leicester City is in the thick of a Top Four chase in the hopes of returning to the UEFA Champions League, and losing Vardy would be a monumental blow.

Griezmann’s second half brace saves Barcelona from shock upset in Ibiza

Barcelona survives Copa del Rey scare
Photo by JAIME REINA/AFP via Getty Images
Leave a comment

Like a college kid on Spring Break, Barcelona vastly underestimated the power of Ibiza.

One of the biggest clubs in the world had loads of trouble in its Copa del Rey Round of 32 meeting at UD Ibiza on Wednesday.

Barcelona barely got past the third-tier side thanks to two Antoine Griezmann goals and a comeback 2-1 win at the Estadi Municipal de Can Misses.

UD Ibiza playing in a 5,000-seat stadium, took a ninth-minute lead and had more shot attempts as late as the 65th minute. New manager Quique Setien was left to sweat it out.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule

Somewhat fitting that a man named Pep got the early goal. Josep Caballe Martin has more yellow cards than goals in Segunda B this season.

Lionel Messi, Sergio Busquets, Gerard Pique, and an injured Luis Suarez were among the players left behind, but this wasn’t a massively depleted Barcelona side. Arturo Vidal and Jordi Alba were brought off the bench.

Frenkie de Jong set up Griezmann for a 72nd minute equalizer, and Griezmann added his second off an Alba feed in the fourth minute of stoppage time.