EPL : WEEKEND WRAP
After matchday 26 the Barclays Premier League lived up to its reputation of being the most thrilling, exciting and dramatic league in the world.
Another chapter was added to the script of the title race, while the quest to survive relegation continued, with two of the bottom three clubs suffering heavy dizzying knocks to.
On St Valentine’s Super Sunday, Arsenal began proceedings by awakening Claudio Raneira’s Liecester from their “sleep” where they had been dreaming of the title by securing a heart thumping stoppage time 2-1 victory at the Emirates stadium. The Foxes thought they were on their way to a precious away win,on opponents who throttled them 5-2 in their own backyard, when league top scorer Jarmie Vardy converted a penalty to go to the break with a 1-0 lead.
However, Arsenal fought back in the second half, and after a redcard to Liecster’s fullback Danny Simpson in the 54th minute , which their boss described as harsh, Arsenal made their numerical advantage count. First Theo Walcott equalised with a powerful shot on the right in the 70th minute and just when Liecester thought they had weathered the storm to secure a point Arsenal struck with virtually the last kick of the game from a set pieace. Ozil ‘s inviting cross was met by 10 month absentee Danny Welbeck whose thumping header set the stadium ablaze as he strode into fans in ecstasy.
While the Gunners completed a double over Liecster, another double was on the cards when Tottenham Hotspur travelled to Machenster for their tie with Manchester City. Heaving suffered a demorilising defeat to Liecester the weekend before, City were expected to bounce back, but a controversial penalty decision pegged them back. City winger Raheem Sterling was adjudged to have handled the ball in the box by referee Mark Clttenburg when television replays showed he was he was outside the box and also the ball seemed to strike his elbow not deliberately as he jumped facing the opposite direction.
Spurs grabbed their chance without asking questions, and Harry Kane converted in the 54th minute. City went all out in attempt to overtune the scoreline and although they equalised through Nigerian striker Kelechi Iheanacho in the 74th minute, they surrendered the battle when Christian Eriksen picked a great pass from Erik Lamela on the counter and sealed all three points with a wonderful goal in the 83rd minute.
This meant everyone in the top 5 remined exactly where they are, but Licester’s lead over Spurs and Arsenal is now only 2 points while City, although remains on 4th ,have fallen a further 4 points from the number 2 and 3 clubs.
Elsewhere ,on the day, Liverpool had no problems at all when they faced bottom of the table Aston Villa who they routed 6-o in their own turf. The Reds welcomed back long term injury absentee Daniel Sturidge, who opened the scoring and saw 5 other Liverpool players score, Including a rare one from Kolo Toure.
On Saturday , in the early kick off Machester United failed to make inroads into the top 4 to secure Champions League football when they lost 2-1 at the stadium of light against Sunderland, whose own fight against relagation took a welcome boost. Louis van Gaal admitted his hope was now winning the Europa league in order to qualify for next season’s Champions League.
Elsewhere,later in the day, Norwich and West Ham shared the spoils in an entertaining 2-2 draw, while Southampton continued on their recent good form when they beat Swansea through a solitary goal from Shane Long, while Crystal Palace won run of bad results continued with a demoralising 2-1 defeat to Watford at home. Two other sides to lose agonisingly at home were Everton, who lost 1-0, and Bournemouth who were hammered 3-1 by Stoke City.
Chelsea warmed up to their crunch Champions League tie with Paris St Germain on Tuesday with a resounding 5-1 demolition of Newcastle who often trouble them. Their continued improvements since Jose Mourinho left, means little as they continue to languish in the bottom half of the table at 12th.
Full English Premier results for the weekend
Saturday 13 February 2016
Sunderland 2-1 Man Utd
Bournemouth 1-3 Stoke
C Palace 1-2 Watford
Everton 0-1 West Brom
Norwich 2-2 West Ham
Swansea 0-1 Southampton
Chelsea 5-1 Newcastle
Sunday 14 February 2016
Arsenal 2-1 Liecester
Aston Villa 0-6 Liverpool
Man City 1-2 Tottenham