Watford 2-1 Newcastle: Early goals lead Hornets

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  • Both teams on 41 points
  • Goal, assist for Pereyra
  • Perez scores again for NUFC

Roberto Pereyra and Andre Gray scored early goals as Watford clinched another season in the Premier League with a 2-1 win over Newcastle United at Vicarage Road.

Ayoze Perez scored Newcastle’s goal, as the Magpies poured it on but couldn’t complete their comeback bid.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

Watford took the lead within two minutes, as Paul Dummett‘s tepid touch cued up Abdoulaye Doucoure’s cut pass to Pereyra. 1-0.

Martin Dubravka made a close-range stop on Pereyra minutes later, the rebound blocked by Troy Deeney before a follow-up shot sailed wide of the goal.

The Hornets grabbed insurance when Pereyra’s cross was misjudged by Martin Dubravka, nodded over the line by Gray.

Paul Dummett gave away a penalty to Gray with an ill-time slide, but Dubravka stopped Deeney’s attempt and the rebound.

United pulled one back through Perez’s slick outside of the boot finish of a Javier Manquillo cross.

[ MORE: Latest Premier League standings ]

[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score ]

Benitez non-committal on Newcastle future, saying team needs to buy

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Rafa Benitez has earned some chatter as a Premier League Manager of the Year candidate after guiding Newcastle United to safety one years after leading them back from the Championship.

Many thought he wouldn’t follow the team down a division after rallying Newcastle but falling two points shy of safety in 2015-16, but the Magpies won the Championship and are now in position to fight for a top half finish in this season’s Premier League.

[ MORE: Mourinho rips forwards after loss ]

But owner Mike Ashley hasn’t inspired confidence in his club in some time, and struck a confusing figure when big Benitez fan Amanda Staveley tried to buy the club late last year with the aim of leading the Magpies back into the European conversation.

Now the toast of the town, Benitez holds a lot of the momentum when it comes to his position at St. James’ Park. He’s not sure what’s coming next, even with the two sides discussing a new deal, and here’s what he said when asked whether he wants to stay next season.

“That is a tricky question. I said in an interview the other day I decided to stay because of the potential, the fans and the city. Then we have to do what we have to do.”

“But if you want to go to another level, you need more quality.”

Ashley has sold many of Newcastle’s best assets dating back to James Milner and including Yohan Cabaye, Andy Carroll, and Georginio Wijnaldum.

Benitez arguably would’ve had Newcastle competing for seventh if Ashley had sanctioned a striker purchase greater than the $6 million Joselu buy in August, then Islam Slimani on loan in January.

He’s coaxed career seasons out of Mohamed Diame, DeAndre Yedlin, Paul Dummett, and Kenedy (the last name on loan from Chelsea). It would be interesting to see what he’d be able to do with a nice transfer kitty.

Newcastle United 0-1 West Bromwich Albion: Not dead yet

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  • West Brom stays alive
  • Phillips continues NUFC mastery
  • Magpies outshoot WBA 17-8

West Bromwich Albion earned itself a stay of relegation with a 1-0 win over Newcastle United at St. James’ Park on Saturday.

Matty Phillips scored for the Baggies, who have 28 points and sit five points behind 17th place Swansea City. Interim manager Darren Moore has collected eight points in four matches.

Newcastle remains 10th with 41 points.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

Chances both ways early, with James McClean ripping a shot wide for West Brom and Dwight Gayle sending a low shot into the arms of Ben Foster.

The Baggies went ahead through a net-battering shot from Phillips, who took advantage of Jake Livermore‘s lid-opening pass cooking Paul Dummett.

Kenedy looked to have leveled the score in the 34th minute, trading passes with Ayoze Perez but dinking his shot off the outside of the post.

Mo Diame had a close shot deflected over the bar, and Newcastle were refused shouts for a penalty kick off the ensuing corner kick. Foster also made an outstanding in-tight save prior to the uncalled foul.

The counter attack saw Martin Dubravka make a fine save on Jay Rodriguez.

West Brom stayed stingy in the second half, hoping to avoid formalizing its Championship status for another week.

Diame had a second shot deflected out for a corner, and Jamaal Lascelles couldn’t get on the end of Jonjo Shelvey‘s attempt.

DeAndre Yedlin served a second ball into the mix, and substitute Joselu nodded his attempt wide in the 86th.

[ MORE: Latest Premier League standings ]

[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score ]

Premier League Power Rankings: In tiers

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Liverpool has knocked Manchester City from the Champions League, but sits 19 points behind the leaders and City has a match-in-hand.

Manchester United beat City just weeks ago, but was bounced from the UCL even earlier. The Red Devils also took four of six points from Liverpool.

[ MORE: Europa League preview ]

Spurs are fourth in the table but also took four of six from Liverpool and could be level on points with the Reds by winning its match-in-hand.

So the question remains, who’s the best team in the Premier League right now? That’s why we’re revisiting our Premier League Power Rankings for the first time in a while, since City was the unquestioned No. 1 for months.

Will it change anything? Spoiler alert: Probably not.

Spots 20-14: Not safe yet

20. West Bromwich Albion: The Baggies are going down, but Darren Moore has at least instilled some life into a moribund bunch which was saddled with the dour and unsuccessful tactics of Tony Pulis before moving onto the peppy and hard-to-understand tactics of Alan Pardew.

19. Stoke City — The Paul Lambert jump has faded, and the Potters’ inferior goal differential and one more match played than both Southampton and Swansea City feel like a death knell.

18. Southampton — Yes, the Bottom Three is the same as the table, but Saints are a New South Coast Derby win away from sitting three points back of pulling Palace and perhaps Huddersfield Town and West Ham United back into the picture.

17. Huddersfield Town — If David Wagner cannot lead the Terriers past Everton this weekend, his side finishes at Man City, at Chelsea, and home to Arsenal. That’s a recipe for watching a six-point advantage on the drop zone melt away.

16. Swansea City — Still four points clear of the drop zone, Swans have the cup half-full of facing Saints and Stoke City. The two sides aren’t very good, but also the only teams to worry about when it comes to their Premier League lives.

15. Crystal Palace — Given their turnaround from the beginning of the season, it feels dirty to have them so low. But of the three clubs sitting six points clear of 18th, the Eagles are the one to have three matches left and not four.

14. West Ham United — A brutal schedule featuring two of David Moyes‘ old sides — Everton and Manchester United — means the Irons cannot breathe safely yet (especially with Swans, Saints, and Stoke set to take points off each other).


Spots 13-11: Foot off the gas (and is there any gas in the tank?)

13. Watford — Javi Gracia may have Watford safe, and that was his charge, but the Hornets look like the same team they did under previous bosses. The Hornets have two points from their last six, and would be much further down the table if they weren’t essentially safe.

12. Bournemouth — Eddie Howe is probably wondering how that Arsenal chair would feel right about now, as the Cherries have probably reached a glass ceiling. Now a derby against Saints can define the run-in to the season.

11. Brighton and Hove Albion — Perhaps satiated by a five-match unbeaten run that featured a win over Arsenal and beat downs of Swansea and West Ham, Chris Hughton‘s Gulls have two points in five matches including a derby loss to Palace.

10. Everton — Sam Allardyce‘s men nicked a win off of Newcastle last weekend, and it was about as satisfying as moribund draws against Liverpool’s B Team and Swansea City. There’s a lot of unrest at Goodison Park, and Sam Allardyce has to go. Because of the relative positive vibes at lower table sides Leicester and Newcastle, Everton sinks beneath them.

9. Leicester City — A fun team which has had infuriating lapses at the back. Jamie Vardy‘s as reliable as ever, and there’s a real question what they’ll do without Riyad Mahrez (allegedly) in the future. Wilfred Ndidi, Demarai Gray, and Fousseni Diabate look a big part of said future, but it’s a bit alarming that the Foxes haven’t been able to take advantage of the relatively open door to seventh since Claude Puel righted Craig Shakespeare‘s sinking ship.

8. Newcastle United — The Magpies saw their win streak snapped by Everton, but Rafa Benitez is playing with house money after coaxed a midtable season out of a Championship squad. A healthy Islam Slimani has moved Dwight Gayle to his rightful role as a spark plug off the bench, but don’t sleep on the wonders Benitez has worked in turning Mo Diame, DeAndre Yedlin, and Paul Dummett into serviceable Premier League players. The future is bright if Mike Ashley sells the team or at least opens his purse strings to make one of the longest road trips in the PL even harder for visitors to St. James’ Park.


Spot 7: One of the best stories in Premier League history

7. Burnley — A loss to Chelsea and draw with Stoke has sunk Sean Dyche‘s excitement, we’re sure, but Southampton’s departure from the FA Cup means seventh place means Europa League. It’s Burnley in Europe: Yes, for real!


Spots 6-4: The bargaining stage of grief

6. Chelsea — The Blues have won two-straight in the league and reached an FA Cup Final against old pal Jose Mourinho’s Manchester United, but there’s as much uncertainty at Stamford Bridge as there is at the Emirates. The difference? We know Roman Abramovich will spend more to try to fix it.

5. Arsenal — The danger of slipping behind Burnley and into seventh on the table has passed, but the Arsene Wenger goodbye tour is focused firmly on the Gunners’ fate versus Atletico Madrid in the UEFA Europa League and the quite decent form of Alexandre Lacazette and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, as well as a resurgent and healthy Aaron Ramsey. Defenders need improving in a big way and there’s a lot of uncertainty regarding Wenger’s replacement. Don’t know what you’ve got til its gone?

4. Spurs — No trophy again this season, and there’s a very good chance Tottenham will miss out on third place by virtue of goal difference when all is said and done; When all’s said and done, Mauricio Pochettino‘s men will have drawn 1-1 or 0-0 against West Brom, Swansea, Watford, West Ham, Saints, and Brighton. That’ll render a decent record against top foes less impressive.


Spots 3-1: Power trio

3. Manchester United — The Red Devils are better than almost everyone thinks despite precious few standout seasons from its players (David De Gea, Romelu Lukaku, Nemanja Matic and Jesse Lingard are among the pardoned). When it comes to talking progress, however, second place won’t cut it: Mourinho needs that FA Cup win over Chelsea, a trophy United hasn’t won since (checks his notes) oh, two seasons ago.

2. Liverpool — The Reds looked incredible in dicing up Roma for 80 minutes, but allowed Roma a sliver of hope. Moreover, the last four goals Liverpool has allowed have come in the 79th, 88th, 81st, and 85th minutes. Why won’t we put them ahead of City? Well, let me clarify: it’s not PST, it’s me. I’ll own this: As brilliant as Liverpool was against City, they were out-chanced 31-14 over two legs. Give me that scenario 100 times, and I’m betting on the 31 about 85-90 times. The Reds are almost there, and Naby Keita over Jordan Henderson would be a huge upgrade (especially if this success convinces Emre Can to stick around). Next year, yeah. This year, just no.

  1. Manchester City — The records continue to fall, and it’s funny to consider that should City had lost the first Manchester Derby and been knocked out of the UCL a round earlier — yes, even by Liverpool in the same manner — no one would be arguing for anyone other than City at No. 1.

Leicester City 1-2 Newcastle United: Magpies nearly safe

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  • Newcastle moves into top half
  • Shelvey dummies to open scoring
  • Perez with goal, assist

Jonjo Shelvey and Ayoze Perez scored on either side of halftime to give Newcastle United another three points with a 2-1 win over Leicester City at the King Power Stadium on Saturday.

Jamie Vardy scored late for Leicester, who remains eighth with 43 points.

The Magpies are 10th, ahead of Bournemouth on goal differential and 10 points clear of the drop zone.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

The visitors looked good from the start, with Leicester goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel needed to stop Ayoze Perez and Dwight Gayle in the first 10 minutes.

The Magpies went ahead through Shelvey, who took a pass from Perez and cooked Harry Maguire en route to the right corner of the goal (with a small turn off a Leicester defender’s arm).

Maguire hit Gayle in the face moments later, but was saved with only a yellow card.

Leicester had a shout for a penalty when Paul Dummett‘s sliding tackle of Riyad Mahrez in the box caused the Algerian to hit the deck, but no whistle arrived for the Foxes.

DeAndre Yedlin was injured making a 72nd minute tackle on Fousseni Diabate.

Perez made it 2-0 with a classy and audacious finish, with Maguire and Wes Morgan allowing Florian Lejeune‘s clearance to hit the turf, and Perez chipping Schmeichel from 30 yards with the outside of his boot. Gorgeous stuff.

Vardy tapped in a Shinji Okazaki knockdown of a delightful Demarai Gray cross with seven minutes to play to make it game on at the King Power.

[ MORE: Latest Premier League standings ]

[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score ]