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Allardyce: Palace sealing PL status “a massive relief”

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Sam “Never Been Relegated” Allardyce will retain his title for one more season.

This time around he’s helmed a safety run for Crystal Palace, who buried Hull City with a 4-0 win at Selhurst Park on Sunday.

[ RECAP: Palace 4-0 Hull ]

The former Blackburn, Sunderland, and West Ham boss saw his team dip into the drop zone early in his tenure, but spearheaded a magnificent run of form that culminated with Sunday’s safety-sealing win.

Here are his thoughts:

“It’s a massive relief. That’s for sure. We all know the implications of relegation today and the devastation it causes to a football club. This football club has been in the Premier League for five or six years and wants to grow.

“Tactically we set up to nullify Hull City and really just expose them where we thought they are weak. They held a high line so we put a quality ball behind and obviously that’s a great start.”

That quality ball was a back pass from Michael Dawson of which Andrea Ranocchia made quite a mess, but we shouldn’t begrudge Allardyce his moment in the sun.

He’s done it again, and also lauded his staff and everyone who works at the club for helping in the safety run. Class move from Big Sam.

Hull City relegated from Premier League

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  • Palace, Swans staying up
  • Hull going down
  • Ranocchia’s early error dooms Hull

Wilfried Zaha and Christian Benteke clinched Premier League safety for Crystal Palace and Swansea City on Sunday, their first half goals enough to send Hull City down in a 4-0 win at Selhurst Park.

Luka Milivojevic converted a late penalty and Patrick Van Aanholt scored on the edge of stoppage time to seal the win.

Hull has 34 points, four behind Swans and seven back of Palace.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

Ranocchia’s colossal error made it 1-0 within the first two minutes, his swing and miss at a Michael Dawson back pass allowed Zaha — of all people! — in one-on-one with Eldin Jakupovic. The star keeper didn’t have much of a chance.

The desperation clicked up a notch for Hull, but good chances failed to materialize as the game neared the half-hour mark. Alfred N'Diaye blazed a shot over the bar, but it was mainly Palace’s advantage in class on display.

Jason Puncheon‘s 34th minute corner saw Benteke power past Harry Maguire to head home, and Hull was in a lot of trouble.

Palace should’ve conceded a penalty within minutes of the second goal when Puncheon handled Kamil Grosicki‘s free kick, but Martin Atkinson didn’t see the offense.

The second half was cagey, as Palace set back to hit on the counter. Andros Townsend was particularly effective in his defensive responsibilities.

Palace wrote its safe status in ink when Dawson took down Jeffrey Schlupp and Milivojevic sent Jakupovic the wrong way. Van Aanholt took a pass from James McArthur to make it 4-0 as the match his stoppage time.

[ MORE: Latest Premier League standings ]

[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score ]

Watch Live: Arsenal vs. Hull City (Lineups, Stream)

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Arsenal welcome Hull City to a snowy Emirates Stadium on Saturday (Watch live, 7:30 a.m. ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com) with the Gunners aiming to get back to winning ways.

WATCH LIVE ONLINE HERE

After back-to-back defeats to Watford and Chelsea in the Premier League there has been fresh speculation that manager Arsene Wenger (his contract runs out in the summer) is coming towards the end of his Arsenal career after 21 years in charge. The Gunners are now 12 points behind leaders Chelsea with 14 games to go.

As for Hull, they’re in fine form under new manager Marco Silva after taking seven points from their opening four games under the Portuguese manager.

In team news Arsenal make one change from the team which lost at Chelsea as Kieran Gibbs replaces Nacho Monreal at left back.

Hull are without star striker Abel Hernandez and captain Michael Dawson through injury, while Lazar Markovic and Oumar Niasse start in place of Evandro and Hernandez.

LINEUPS

Arsenal: Cech; Bellerin, Mustafi, Koscielny, Gibbs; Oxlade-Chamberlain, Coquelin; Walcott, Ozil, Iwobi; Sanchez. Subs: Ospina, Monreal, Gabriel, Elneny, Lucas, Welbeck, Giroud

Hull City: Jakupovic; Elabdellaoui, Ranocchia, Maguire, Robertson; Huddlestone, N’Diaye; Markovic, Grosicki, Clucas; Niasse. Subs: Meyler, Maloney, Diomande, Marshall, Elmohamady, Tymon, Evandro

Premier League preview: Arsenal vs. Hull City

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With everything else happening in Arsenal Land, you might have forgotten the 2016-17 Premier League season is far from over. Sure, the future of Arsene Wenger is in greater doubt now than it’s ever been; sure, the Gunners have lost two in a row in league play, and fallen to fourth in the league table, 12 points back of leaders Chelsea; and yes, they suddenly find themselves closer to sixth place (just two points between Arsenal and Manchester United) than they are to second (three points back of Tottenham Hotspur).

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s PL coverage ]

But Hull City are coming to the Emirates Stadium on Saturday (Watch live, 7:30 a.m. ET, on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com), which means an easy, automatic three points, right? Well, actually, wrong. Marco Silva’s side shocked Liverpool just last weekend, a result which gives the Tigers points from three of four PL games (their only loss came against Chelsea) under their newly appointed Portuguese boss. Another upset this weekend would almost certainly jump Hull from 18th in the PL table, where they presently sit, to safety outside the bottom-three.

WATCH LIVE ONLINE, HERE

INJURIES: Arsenal — OUT: Aaron Ramsey (calf), Granit Xhaka (suspended), Santi Cazorla (achilles), Yaya Sanogo (calf); QUESTIONABLE: Hector Bellerin (concussion) | Hull City — OUT: Abel Hernandez (hamstring), Michael Dawson (calf), Curtis Davies (hamstring), Ryan Mason (head), Markus Henriksen (shoulder), Will Keane (knee), Moses Odubajo (knee)

What they’re saying

Arsene Wenger, on the support of the fans: “Our fans have been consistent and have a high level of expectation, as I have as well. But I don’t feel it is absolutely clear. You cannot be a fan until last Tuesday and not be a fan anymore and not be behind the team this Saturday, it doesn’t make sense. … I want the fans to be behind the team. But at the same time, I am not fool enough not to know that the first priority is us and our dynamic inside the team that will create and facilitate the support of our fans.”

Marco Silva, on turning one good result into two: “Of course last weekend was important because we won three points. We take those points but now we forget the game because in my mind, all we do now is prepare for the match against Arsenal. We have to continue to show our best on the pitch and prove that what we did last week in terms of the result is our real value.”

Prediction

At some point, all those injuries are going to catch up with Hull — not just the number of players unavailable, but they quality and import they carry with them as well — and if we know one thing, it’s that Arsenal bite back the hardest after they’ve been written off. Alexis Sanchez has himself a day to remember, and Arsenal are up 2-0 or 3-0 before halftime.

PL Playback: Analyzing the big calls as Chelsea surge clear

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REF WATCH: BIG CALLS INCORRECT

It seems a little early to say this but I’m going to go ahead and say it anyway: this is Chelsea’s Premier League title to lose.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays

Ahead of Week 22 Chelsea they could’ve seen their lead at the top cut to three points. Now it has been extended to eight as Antonio Conte and his players sat back and watched title contenders stutter on Saturday and they finished off Hull ruthlessly on Sunday for their 15th win in their last 16 games.

[ MORE: Latest odds for PL title winners ]

It is a case of advantage Chelsea in the title race, but plenty of their title rivals (if we can even call them that anymore) can feel aggrieved to have seen key calls go against them this weeekend.

[ MORE: Latest Premier League standings

The referees were at the heart of several key moments of games involving title contenders and sadly they got many of the big calls wrong.

Let’s focus on the three biggest mistakes, all of which involved penalty calls, that will likely have big ramifications in the title race…

  • (A) No penalty kick awarded to Man City vs. Tottenham with City leading 2-1
  • (B) Penalty kick awarded to Arsenal vs. Burnley in 98th minute, as they won 2-1
  • (C) No penalty kick awarded to Hull City when trailing Chelsea 1-0

(A)  – There is no doubt that this was the worst of the bunch. See the video below as Raheem Sterling raced through and looked destined to put Man City 3-1 up and out of sight to get them back in the title race and close the gap on Spurs. Sterling was punished for staying on his feet. He was too honest and as he fell he took a shot which Hugo Lloris saved easily. Walker should have been sent off and City should have had a penalty but referee Andre Marriner waved played on. Man City should be 10 points behind Chelsea in the title race but now they’re 12 points back. Their title chances were slim before this weekend. After this decision, they’re gone.

(B) – This 98th minute decision was wrong on two different levels. One: Laurent Koscielny was offside when the cross came in. Two: Although Ben Mee is trying to hook the ball away with a high foot, Koscielny is stooping his head down. You have to let calls like that go in the box. Referee Jon Moss had earlier correctly given Granit Xhaka a straight red card for a lunging tackle on Steven Defour and then given Burnley a penalty kick in the 92nd minute after Francis Coquelin fouled Ashley Barnes. The latter decision incensed Arsene Wenger so much he was sent to the stands and now has to deal with an FA misconduct charge as he appeared to push fourth official Anthony Taylor on his way down the tunnel. Back to Moss. He got his third big decision of the game wrong and maybe after Xhaka’s sending off, awarding a penalty to Burnley, calling away a penalty shout for Arsenal earlier when Shkodran Mustafi went down and then seeing Wenger’s angry reaction he tried to even things up in front of the home fans who were baying for blood. There’s no doubting Mee’s foot was high, but that’s not a penalty for me and Moss should’ve been helped out by his linesman who had a better view. After all of that, Arsenal will feel they’re back in the title race as they prepare for a trip across London to face Chelsea on Feb. 4 at Stamford Bridge.

(C) – Another pivotal call among the title contenders went in Chelsea’s favor. Leading Hull 1-0, they should have given away a penalty kick just after half time. Marcos Alonso clipped Abel Hernandez in the box and it was a blatant PK for Hull. Nothing was given and you could clearly see the relief on Alonso’s face. Chelsea knew they had got away with one and if Hull had equalized early in the second half, who knows what would have happened? Those are the kind of breaks you get when you’re at the top and more often than not in recent weeks those kind of breaks are going Chelsea’s way and against their title rivals. Advantage Chelsea indeed.


LEICESTER IN BIG TROUBLE

From the title contenders, we now switch our attention to the title holders.

Leicester City are five points above the relegation zone and having a torrid time defending their crown, as they have the lowest points tally of any defending top-flight champ ever after 22 games and they are without an away win in the Premier League.

Claudio Ranieri must be applauded for his honesty in taking the blame for Leicester’s humbling 3-0 defeat at Southampton on Sunday but his self-pity doesn’t cover up the glaring fact that the reigning champions are increasingly in a battle against the drop.

Why?

Well, there are a number of reasons.

“Slacking off over the summer after winning the PL title in incredible fashion?” Perhaps.

“Losing N'Golo Kante to Chelsea?” Yep, definitely a big part of it.

“Other teams focusing on their strengths?” That’s key too.

Yet, when we look at this Leicester, despite Ranieri playing three at the back against Chelsea last time out and then a diamond in midfield in the first half at Southampton, both of which went horribly wrong, not much has changed. That’s the biggest problem. Don’t get me wrong, I was fully on board the Leicester bandwagon along with the rest of the sporting world last season. It was incredible.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]  

However, was Ranieri really ruthless enough over the summer to strengthen the team where they needed to? No. In theory, Leicester needed three new signings throughout the spine of the team.

They could offer big wages and UEFA Champions League action and they should’ve plundered their cash on three big name players at center back, in central midfield and up top. They bought in Luiz Hernandez in defense, who could be on his way out already. They also signed Nampalys Mendy who has been injured but is no Kante and they brought in Islam Slimani who has been hot and cold. The biggest issue (as the stat above suggests) is in defense. Leicester are leaking goals at an alarming rate and Wes Morgan and Robert Huth seemed to have aged 10 years over the summer.

There’s an argument to be made that they should have gone for PL experience and paid a little over the odds to buy two or three experienced players from within the PL rather than seven or eight newbies to the PL.

Leicester have done the latter and so far that plan isn’t working.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule

Their run to the UEFA Champions League Round of 16 has been the priority and some would say rightly so but with Swansea and Hull picking up below Leicester, the Foxes’ margin for error is getting smaller each week.

They had the lowest pass completion percentage over the weekend which is much like last season. Pretty much everything is the same, expect for the results. That’s the most worrying thing for Leicester’s fans, players and manager.


ROONEY SETS RECORD IN STYLE

It just had to be this way.

Wayne Rooney became Manchester United’s all-time leading goal scorer on Saturday — passing Sir Bobby Charlton who had held the record on 249 for over 40 years — as he curled home a sublime free kick in stoppage time to grab his side a point at Stoke City and extend their unbeaten run to 17 games in all competitions.

[ MORE: World reacts to Rooney’s record

Rooney, 31, scored his 250th goal for United in fine fashion and it was indicative of a career which has promised so much and more often than not delivered with spectacular goals such as the bicycle kick against Manchester City, the volley against Newcastle and the halfway-line lob against West Ham littering the way.

When we look back on his career in a decade or two, it’s likely he will finally get the credit he deserves for his sublime talent on the field since the age of 17 when he burst onto the scene. Right here, right now, Rooney is often undermined with his fitness and impact questioned on a daily basis.

Wayne Rooney is now the all-time leading scorer for England and Manchester United. Let that sink in. He is truly a legend of the game.

[ MORE: Rooney talks about his future at United ]

Speaking at the Football Writers’Association tribute dinner on Sunday at the Savoy Hotel in London (Rooney’s impeccable timing meant he set the record just 24 hours before being honored by the FWA) Rooney admitted that going forward he wants the media and England’s players to work closer together to benefit everyone.

“The media is a massive part of football and I’ve seen firsthand since I’ve become captain of Manchester United and England,” Rooney said. “I’ve recognized it has had a huge influence on the game and the players and especially the young English players because they are the ones who have to go out and perform. It’s tough. I also feel like it is sometimes a bit unfair.

“The one thing I think, for me, that should happen is we need to realize and the media need to realize that at this moment in time there is a huge gap between the media and the players. I think the quicker the media and players can come together and meet in the middle, then the better it is for English football.”

Here’s a look at some of Rooney’s best goals from his incredible career which he intends to keep going at Manchester United for now but also admitted his frustration at not playing regularly this season.

Whatever the future holds, Rooney has written himself into folklore forever.


GET WELL SOON, RYAN

Week 22 of the Premier League ended with a sobering sight.

Hull midfielder Ryan Mason, 25, was involved in an aerial collision with Chelsea skipper Gary Cahill in the first half of the Blues’ eventual 2-0 win. Mason did not get back up.

The England international suffered a fractured skull and after carefully being treated on the pitch he was transported to St Mary’s hospital in central London for surgery.

Hull gave the latest update on Mason on Monday, as players and staff from both Chelsea and Hull visited him in hospital.

The Club can confirm that Ryan has been visited this morning at St Mary’s Hospital by Club Captain Michael Dawson, Club Doctor Mark Waller, Head of Medical Rob Price and Club Secretary Matt Wild. Ryan has been speaking of the incident yesterday and will continue to be monitored at the hospital over the coming days where the Club will remain in close contact with Ryan, his family and the staff at St Mary’s.

Ryan and his family have also been extremely touched by the overwhelming support they have received  and would very much like to thank all of those who have posted such positive comments both on social media and in the press over the last 24 hours.

It was a horrible sight and was made even more shocking due to the innocuous nature of the challenge.

Get well soon, Ryan.


Premier League Playback comes out every week as PST’s Lead Writer and Editor takes an alternative look at all the action from the weekend. Read the full archive, here.