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PL roundup: Saints go marching up; Chelsea close in on 4th

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A roundup of all of Saturday’s action in the Premier League…

[ MORE: Southampton a point from safety | Chelsea two points back of 4th ]

Southampton 2-1 BournemouthFULL RECAP

If Southampton are to stave off relegation this season, Saturday’s south coast derby triumph over Bournemouth will likely be remembered as the turning point. Saints entered the weekend in 19th place, four points behind 17th-place Swansea City. Thanks to Dusan Tadic‘s brace (WATCH HERE) at St. Mary’s Stadium, and Swansea’s narrow defeat to Chelsea, Southampton now occupy 18th place and trail the Swans by a single point. On May 8, the next-to-last game of the season for both sides, Swansea host Southampton.

Liverpool 0-0 Stoke CityFULL RECAP

One could call Liverpool’s scoreless draw with 18th- (now 19th-)place Stoke a hangover after the emotional toll of Tuesday’s Champions League semifinals first-leg thrashing of Roma, but in truth the Reds were their typically dominant selves, only without the precision and final touch which have come to define their campaign. Having out-shot the Potters by a margin of 20-5, Liverpool managed just two shots on target (1 for Stoke) while holding more than 72 percent of the game’s possession. Jurgen Klopp‘s side sits third, four points clear of Tottenham Hotspur, who now have two games in hand.

Swansea City 0-1 ChelseaFULL RECAP

Cesc Fabregas scored the game’s only goal, in the 4th minute, as fifth-place Chelsea continued their mini-revival (three straight wins) and their bid to reel in Tottenham and realize an unlikely top-four finish. The gap between the London powers is just two points, though Spurs have a game in hand, which they’ll play at home against Watford on Monday (Watch live, 3 p.m. ET, on NBCSN and NBCSports.com), on the Blues.

Crystal Palace 5-0 Leicester CityFULL RECAP

Either Claude Puel‘s Leicester players are already on a beach for the summer (a top-10 finish is all but mathematically guaranteed), or Roy Hodgson convinced his Palace players that every team below them in the PL table would win every game they play for the rest of the season thus they needed one more (truly emphatic) victory to secure their top-division status for next season (they now sit 11th, six points clear of the drop zone). Either way, the Eagles made light work of the 10-man Foxes, courtesy of five different goalscorers delighted the Selhurst Park faithful.

Burnley 0-0 Brighton & Hove AlbionFULL RECAP

Burnley’s bid to usurp Arsenal for a top-six finish likely came to an end on Saturday. It was already a long shot (four-point deficit to make up, having already played one more game), thus a scoreless draw with Brighton leaves Sean Dyche‘s men three points behind the Gunners with only two games left to play (Arsenal have four).

Huddersfield Town 0-2 EvertonFULL RECAP

Huddersfield are probably safe, given the fact that both Swansea and Southampton would have to make up two- and three-point gaps in order to leapfrog them and see the Terriers to fall to 18th, but a point (or all three) at home against Everton would have put to bed any lingering fears. Alas, Cenk Tosun and Idrissa Gueye scored to all but lock the Toffees into an eighth-place finish following a disastrous start to the season which looked headed for a relegation battle for a number of months.

Newcastle United 0-1 West Bromwich AlbionFULL RECAP

West Brom beat Newcastle to delay the inevitable, their relegation to the Championship, courtesy of Matt Phillips‘ 29th-minute winner. Even still, the Baggies are five points from safety with just two games left to play. The next time they drop two points (or Swansea win two), they’ll be gone.

Sunday’s PL schedule

West Ham United vs. Manchester City — 9:15 a.m. ET, on NBCSN and NBCSports.com
Manchester United vs. Arsenal — 11:30 a.m. ET, on NBCSN and NBCSports.com

Monday’s PL schedule

Tottenham Hotspur vs. Watford — 3 p.m. ET, on NBCSN and NBCSports.com

Huddersfield 0-2 Everton: Toffees rolling

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  • Everton unbeaten in four, two straight wins
  • Huddersfield three points above drop zone
  • Terriers have Man City, Chelsea, Arsenal to play

Everton beat Huddersfield Town 2-0 at the John Smith’s Stadium on Saturday with a goal in each half doing the job for the Toffees.

Cenk Tosun scored in the first half then Idrissa Gueye wrapped things up as Sam Allardyce‘s sit steady in eighth place in the table, while Huddersfield are now just three points off the relegation zone with three tough games to go.

With the win Everton have 48 points, while Huddersfield remain on 33 points.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

Huddersfield put plenty of pressure on Everton early on and the Terriers thought they had a penalty kick but referee Lee Probert waved away calls.

Rajiv Van la Parra went down in the box under contact from Nikola Vlasic but nothing was given and from the resulting corner Alex Pritchard slammed over.

Wayne Rooney made a tremendous block as Huddersfield continued to press high and cause Everton problems. Then the sucker punch arrived.

Everton took the lead just before the break as Theo Walcott raced clear, then fed Tosun who had plenty of work to do.

The Turkish international striker finished calmly across the goal with a precise finish. 1-0 to Everton and Allardyce had a huge smile on his face.

In the second half Seamus Coleman almost made it 2-0 but he couldn’t quite get on the end of a free kick, while at the other end Huddersfield were tentative with their finishing around the box.

Pritchard had another effort at the near post but he snatched it as Huddersfield pushed for the equalizer but Everton were fairly comfortable, even if their fans gave Allardyce plenty of abuse from the away end.

Gueye then sealed the win as Oumar Niasse crossed and Leighton Baines teed up the Senegalese midfielder to struck home. Game. Set. Match.

Three things learned: Everton v. Liverpool

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LIVERPOOL — Everton and Liverpool played out a tight, tense 0-0 draw in the Merseyside Derby at Goodison Park on Saturday, with Jurgen Klopp‘s much-changed side huffing and puffing against a resolute, if uninspiring, Everton.

Sam Allardyce‘s side now haven’t won any of their last 17 derbies against Liverpool as Yannick Bolasie had a shot saved by Loris Karius superbly and Cenk Tosun went close late on.

Without the injured Mohamed Salah, Liverpool failed to really take the game by the scruff of the neck despite having large spells of possession.

Here’s what we learned from an edgy encounter at Goodison.


AGITATION GROWS AT EVERTON

“You hardly touched the ball!” sung the Liverpool fans towards the Everton supporters midway through the second half.

Of course, they did touch it, many times, but you get what they’re saying. Everton’s fans appear to be fed up with Sam Allardyce’s direct style of play and the odds of him being in charge next season appear to be growing by the day.

This was a perfect audition for what Everton could become under Big Sam but instead he stuck to his principles as his team set up to defend and did just that with an unadventurous plan. Even a few decent chances at the end of the game which fell to Cenk Tosun and Dominic Calvert-Lewin couldn’t lift the mood among Everton’s supporters.

Their lack of ambition was summed up when Wayne Rooney and Yannick Bolasie were both taken off in the second half and Idrissa Gueye and Calvert-Lewin came on. Rooney, playing in a central midfield role, was livid with the decision and the decision to take Bolasie off was cheered by the home fans after several slack moments despite his curling shot almost giving the Toffees the lead in the first half.

Allardyce has Everton into the top 10 of the Premier League and away from the relegation zone which was his remit when he took over. But that’s not enough for Everton’s fans who were promised a push for UEFA Champions League under new owner Farhad Moshiri.

As Liverpool fans sung sarcastic songs about Allardyce and his style of play, it seemed clear that most of the home fans inside Goodison feel the same. Tosun had little support the entire game and Everton’s defenders were clearly told to lump the ball forward rather than to build from the back. Everton were set up to defend and not to lose but against a Liverpool side who had clearly prioritized their UCL quarterfinal second leg at Man City on Tuesday with their team selection, this was a chance for Allardyce’s side to make a statement. They didn’t. At all.

Big Sam has defended the job he’s done at Everton since he arrived. In the week he compared their situation to that of West Brom’s who sit bottom of the table but where above Everton in the table when he took over.

Ye it’s not about where Everton are in the table. Their performance in Saturday’s Merseyside Derby against a much-changed Liverpool side  proved that Allardyce’s methods aren’t what the fans want and this relationship isn’t working out despite Everton clear of relegation danger.


SOLANKE READY TO STEP UP

Dominic Solanke‘s fourth start in the Premier League was a big moment for him. With Solanke and Danny Ings starting in place of Mohamed Salah and Roberto Firmino, they had huge boots to fill but Solanke was up to the task.

He nodded wide early on and had a snapshot from close range which Jordan Pickford saved superbly, but it was his ability to hold the ball up and link up with Sadio Mane and Ings which impressed.

Despite failing to score in 23 appearances this season in all competitions (19 of them have been as a second half sub, often late in the game) at 20 years of age Solanke is ready to step up and play regularly in the Premier League.

His pace and power caused Everton’s robust defense problems and even if he can’t get ahead of Firmino and Salah at Liverpool, a loan move to another PL club will surely be on the cards for next season. Klopp has been reluctant to loan youngsters out but Solanke has shown considerable progress this season and the next step must be to play regularly in the PL. He can do it. And score goals. No question.


CHAMPIONS LEAGUE NOW LIVERPOOL’S FOCUS

With a top four spot all but secure with five games to go, with got a glimpse of Klopp’s mindset for the final weeks of the Premier League season: the UEFA Champions League will be the focus.

Ings, Solanke, Ragnar Klavan and Georgino Wijnaldum all came in to the starting lineup and youngsters Curtis Jones, Conor Masterson and Rafael Camacho were all on the bench.

Klopp’s comments after Liverpool’s 3-0 win against Man City at Anfield on Wednesday suggested he wasn’t happy with an early kick off on Saturday for this game but he was in a position where he could afford to rotate his team with the second leg in Manchester in mind.

Those who came in did well but tired late on and with the Premier League title gone, Liverpool’s focus is now on at least making the final four of the Champions League rather than finishing second in the PL.

Stoke City 1-2 Everton: Tosun delivers

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  • Tosun has 4 goals in 3 games
  • Charlie Adam sent off for Stoke in first half
  • Stoke remain in bottom three

Everton beat 10-man Stoke City 2-1 at a snowy bet365 Stadium on Saturday as Cenk Tosun scored twice in the second half to secure just a second away win in 24 Premier League games for the Toffees.

Sam Allardyce‘s side were given a helping hand as Charlie Adam was sent off in the first half but Stoke battled hard and equalized through Erik-Choupo Moting.

Yet the Toffees secured the win to move into ninth place on 40 points, while Stoke stay in 19th on 27 points.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ] 

The first big chance of the game arrived for Everton as Tom Davies lost Charlie Adam from a set piece but headed Wayne Rooney‘s cross way over.

Stoke reacted well in the snowy conditions after a slow start but then the game was turned in Everton’s favor.

[ MORE: Latest Premier League standings ]

Adam lost the ball and lunged into a tackle on Wayne Rooney which saw him handed a straight red card and deservedly so as he walked straight down the tunnel without complaining.

Stoke recovered well after going down to 10-men and were tough for Everton to break down.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ] 

In the second half Everton took the lead as Tosun was found in the box by Idrissa Gueye‘s cross as Stoke thought they had cleared the danger but Tosun pounced to hammer home. 1-0.

Just when you thought Stoke would collapse, they equalized from a set piece situation. Choupo-Moting finished to send a record home crowd wild and make it 1-1.

Yet a topsy-turvy game took another twist late on as Theo Walcott‘s cross from the right found Tosun and his diving header beat Jack Butland who should have done better. Everton’s fans in the away end were delighted.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ] 

Dominic Calvert-Lewin was denied by Butland late on as Stoke tired but the Toffees had to settle for two goals as they took three points back to Merseyside with them.

PL Preview: Tottenham vs. Everton

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  • Everton has not beaten Tottenham in any competitions since 2008
  • Tottenham are unbeaten in 10 home league matches
  • Everton have scored just one goal in their last four games

An important top-half clash comes your way Saturday as Tottenham hosts Everton at White Hart Lane, live on NBC at 12:30 p.m. ET or live online at NBCSports.com.

Spurs sit fifth in the Premier League table with 41 points, and they are looking in both directions as they chase Liverpool three points above them in a Champions League place and hope to fend off Arsenal two points back in sixth. While the Premier League title is likely wrapped up barring a historic collapse, the Champions League places are very much up for grabs.

WATCH LIVE, HERE

Since losing 4-1 to likely champions Manchester City, Spurs have rebounded with three Premier League wins and a draw. Harry Kane is in unstoppable form, with a pair of hat-tricks over the festive period followed by a brace midweek in FA Cup action against AFC Wimbledon. Key to that midweek Cup match was the return of Moussa Dembele, who played a full 90 minutes for the first time since December 16th. Dembele has lost his place in the team due to both fitness concerns and poor form, but the 30-year-old played well against Wimbledon and could potentially see a return to the starting lineup.

On the other side, Everton has seen a brutal dip in form strike the Toffees, with just one Premier League win since December 2nd. A loss to Bournemouth and a draw with West Brom highlight the disappointing results of late, and it appears the honeymoon period with new manager Sam Allardyce is over.

However, they could receive a boost as new signing Cenk Tosun, a 26-year-old Turkish international, could make his first Everton appearance as the Toffees look for help up front. The striker had eight goals in 14 Turkish Super Lig appearances for Besiktas this season before his transfer, and 14 goals in 24 appearances over all competitions. Everton is starved for goalscoring prowess, with just one goal in their last four matches.

INJURIES: Tottenham — OUT: Harry Winks (ankle), Danny Rose (knee), Toby Alderweireld (hamstring). | Everton — OUT: Michael Keane (foot), Idrissa Gueye (hamstring).


What they’re saying

Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino on the potential for new signings: “Until today, now, no-one is close to arriving in this transfer window.  Maybe in five minutes something happens. But until now, before the press conference, nothing is close. I’m not concerned, not worried. I think we’re working and of course we’re awake about the market. If something’s available in the terms that we can take, of course we are going to do it.”

Everton manager Sam Allardyce on balancing Everton’s weaknesses: “I think the service provided in the final third is one of our weaknesses and why we’re not scoring enough goals. We don’t have enough natural goalscorers so we have to try and work on that without losing our defensive qualities.”

Prediction

Cenk Tosun is a quality signing and will help Everton up front, especially against a defensively depleted Spurs, but they won’t be able to contain the home side all game, and this ends up as a 1-1 draw that is disappointing for both sides.