With Chelsea not playing until tomorrow, eyes turned yet again to the enthralling battle for Premier League survival, as well as the other games in the league.
There were seven games today, with Chelsea vs. Crystal Palace (13:30 GMT KO) and Tottenham vs. Manchester City (16:00 GMT KO) taking place tomorrow. Hull take on Arsenal on Monday night (20:00 GMT KO).
Leicester bounced back from their midweek defeat to Chelsea whilst also gaining another huge three points in the battle to stay up as they overcame luckless Newcastle 3-0 at the King Power Stadium. It’s Newcastle’s eighth consecutive loss. The Foxes came out of the blocks like lightening as they took the lead through the resurgent Leonardo Ulloa after just 38 seconds, and Wes Morgan doubled the lead after he poked home with 17 minutes gone. The home side then sealed their fifth win in six games after Ulloa scored from the spot following Emmanuel Riviere’s foul on Marcin Wasilewski. The away side finished the game with nine men – Mike Williamson was sent off first for two yellow cards, and Daryl Janmaat soon followed him down the tunnel for the same reason. Newcastle boss John Carver said after the game that Williamson got himself sent off “on purpose”.
Sunderland kept up the pressure on Leicester however after they claimed a huge win over Southampton. Two Jordi Gomez penalties was enough to secure a massive 2-1 win at the Stadium of Light, despite Sadio Mane pulling one back for the visitors. Gomez opened the scoring after 21 minutes following a foul by Jose Fonte on Billy Jones. Mane equalised just 73 seconds later however, by Gomez restored the advantage 10 minutes into the second half after a foul by James Ward-Prowse, which saw the midfielder receive a straight red card from referee Mike Jones. The Saints stay seventh, whilst the Black Cats are just a point behind Leicester in 18th with a game in hand.
Burnley are now all-but relegated after they succumbed to a 1-0 defeat against West Ham. The Clarets were only able to muster half-chances throughout after going a goal down after 24 minutes at Upton Park. Michael Duff tripped Cheikhou Kouyate in the box, and was then dismissed somewhat harshly by Jon Moss. Mark Noble made no mistake with the resulting spotkick, and although the Hammers had 22 shots in the second half, more than any other team in the second half of a Premier League game this season, they couldn’t force a second. It didn’t matter though, and Burnley will return to the Championship after just one season in the top flight if they fail to beat Hull. West Ham move to ninth.
Aston Villa claimed an impressive win over Everton at Villa Park, ending the Toffees six-match unbeaten run in the league. Christian Benteke grabbed a brace in the first half, netting his 10th and 11th goals in the last nine matches in the 10th and 45th minute. Romelu Lukaku scored from the penalty spot just before the hour mark after a clumsy tackle from Ron Vlaar. Tom Cleverley then rifled the ball past Everton keeper Tim Howard to restore the two goal advantage 10 minutes later. Phil Jagielka’s goal did provide a nervy finish, but Villa held on to win 3-2. The win, however, only keeps them above the relegation zone by two points.
In the other Premier League games, Steven Gerrard scored the winner three minutes from time in his penultimate game at Anfield to secure a narrow 2-1 win for Liverpool over QPR. The Hoops are down if they lose their next game. Before kick-off, however, there was a sombre mood around the ground and both sets of teams wore black armbands following the death of the wife of QPR defender Rio Ferdinand following a battle with breast cancer. Philippe Coutinho opened the scoring against the run of play with a brilliant effort, but inexplicable misses from both Adam Lallana and Raheem Sterling kept the score at 1-0. A plane was seen flying overhead with a banner saying “Rodgers out, Rafa in”, and that seemed to spur the away side on as Leroy Fer then volleyed in the equaliser with just 17 minutes to play. Gerrard should of restored the lead after Martin Skrtel was fouled by Nedhum Onohua, but the Reds’ skipper’s effort was easily pushed oit by QPR keeper Rob Green. But, after Onohua was sent off for a second yellow, Gerrard headed home the winner with three minutes left to maintain Liverpool’s slim hopes of Champions League qualification.
Liverpool’s Champions League hopes were kept alive following Manchester United’s surprise defeat at home to West Brom. Robin van Persie missed a penalty as United suffered their third consecutive defeat, with Jonas Olsson deflecting in Chris Brunt’s freekick just after the hour mark. The Baggies have now reached the 40-point mark, but have keeper Boaz Myhill to thank after the Welshman guessed correctly to deny van Persie following Saido Berahino’s handball. Fourth-placed United are now just four points ahead of fifth-placed Liverpool with three games remaining. WBA move to 13th.
Swansea left it late to beat a stubborn Stoke side 2-0 at the Liberty Stadium. Stoke held out well until the 76th minute, when Jefferson Montero met Jonjo Shelvey’s cross with a diving header. Having seen defender Marc Wilson sent off for a second bookable offence, Swansea then secured the three points when Ki Sung-Yueng calmly finished off a flowing counter attack. It’s the fourth win in six games for the Swans, whilst the Potters have won just once in their last seven games as they fell to 10th. Swansea remain in eighth.