By Ryan Moran
- Danny Welbeck’s late header separated the sides at the Emirates.
- Tottenham condemn Manchester City to a second consecutive defeat.
- Sunderland shocked Manchester United at the Stadium of Light.
The top four teams went toe to toe this weekend, who were the winners and who were the losers from this weekend’s action?
Arsenal 2-1 Leicester City
Danny Welbeck’s stoppage time header helped the Gunners close the gap on 10-man Leicester to two points at the top. The defeat was only the Foxes’ second defeat in nine games as both Tottenham and Arsenal move within touching distance of the leaders.
Jamie Vardy had given the away side the lead from the penalty spot after the striker was tripped by Nacho Monreal in the area. With one goal to protect, Leicester’s job became more difficult when Danny Simpson received a second yellow nine minutes after half time.
Theo Walcott pulled the home side level as he finished from Olivier Giroud’s set up. Danny Welbeck, on as a substitute headed home Mesut Ozil’s free kick as the romance of Valentine’s Day was felt by the home support inside the Emirates.
Welbeck was making his first start in just under a year after a knee injury. His impact intensified the title race as now three teams are separated by a mere two points. With Euro 2016 just around the corner the striker has returned in time to fight for a place on the plane to France this summer.
The Foxes remain at the top but will now be without full back Simpson for their next fixture against Norwich. Arsenal remain third, level on points with Tottenham, but now have breathing space on fourth placed Manchester City who are four points behind.
Manchester City 1-2 Tottenham Hotspur
With the news Arsenal claimed victory against Leicester, it was vital for their North London rivals to get a result at the Etihad Stadium. A late Christian Eriksen beat Joe Hart one-on-one to give Tottenham all three points.
After a goalless first half Harry Kane opened the scoring from the penalty spot after Raheem Sterling was judged to have handballed Danny Rose’s cross, high up his arm. While this decision was controversial, the game was not over for the Citizens. Yaya Toure struck the woodwork from a free kick before Kelechi Iheanacho found a way past Hugo Lloris.
Eriksen’s goal proved to be the difference between the sides as City now find themselves six points off Leicester City at the top. Tottenham moved back above Arsenal into second and extend their consecutive win streak to five wins in a row.
Sunderland 2-1 Manchester United
Louis Van Gaal’s tenure at Manchester United endured another low in their rollercoaster season. Relegation threatened Sunderland claimed victory as their January signings proved to be the difference.
Wahbi Khazri opened the scoring three minutes in from a free kick that evaded all in the crowded box. Jermain Defoe hurdled the ball into the box, wrong footing David De Gea in the away goal. The striker had the chance to double the Black Cats’ lead but insisted on using his stronger foot to find the net, a decision that cost him a clear cut chance on goal.
United pushed for the equaliser and found themselves level, Anthony Martial’s chipped effort over Vito Mannone finding the back of the net after Juan Mata’s initial shot was parried.
The home side had the last laugh however, as Lamine Kone latched onto Khazri’s corner, deflecting in off De Gea. The victory moved the Black Cats within one point of safety while Van Gaal’s side remain six points off fourth place Manchester City. Southampton and West Ham trail United by a single point in the race for an automatic Europa League place.
Chelsea 5-1 Newcastle United
Guus Hiddink’s side extended their unbeaten run to ten games with a rout of Newcastle United. The Blues found themselves 3-0 up with less than 20 minutes played. The Magpies drop back into the bottom three as a result of the defeat.
Willian found Diego Costa with only five minutes played, threading the ball through to the sliding Costa, beating Rob Elliot in the Newcastle goal. Pedro doubled their lead moments later, pouncing on Rolando Aarons’ poor pass before racing clear to fire past Elliot. Costa turned provider, squaring the ball with an exquisite pass to Willian that split the defence, finishing at the front post.
Pedro doubled his tally after the break before Bertrand Traore stabbed home at the front post, his first Premier League goal. The Spaniard had chances to claim a hat trick, his closest chance firing straight at Elliot.
Andros Townsend had a free run towards goal, bearing down on the edge of the box, driving a low shot past Thibaut Courtois. No clean sheet for Chelsea drew more problems as John Terry limped off, to be replaced by Abdul Baba Rahman. With a lack of central defenders available, Branislav Ivanovic is likely to fill in alongside Gary Cahill.
The result moved the Blues into 12th, their steady climb up the table continues.
Aston Villa 0-6 Liverpool
Aston Villa’s great escape was put on hold as Liverpool thrashed the Villans in their own back yard. The victory was only the Reds’ second win in five games.
Daniel Sturridge headed his side into an early lead before James Milner’s free kick found a way in past Mark Bunn, who should have done better with the effort. A first half lead set the Merseyside outfit up for a demolition in the second.
Emre Can and Divock Origi scored to make it 4-0 to the away side. Nathaniel Clyne poked home from close before Kolo Toure completed the rout with a header. The inconsistency of results will worry Jurgen Klopp but with Sturridge returning to the scoresheet, a turning point may be reached in Liverpool’s season.
Norwich City 2-2 West Ham United
Once again, Norwich failed to hold on to a two goal lead as West Ham came back to claim a point. The point meant the Hammers failed to leap frog Manchester United into fifth.
Robbie Brady handed the Canaries the lead, his rising strike hitting the underside of the bar on the way in. Wes Hoolahan doubled their lead, finishing from close.
Determination played a major part in West Ham’s comeback as Andy Carroll’s flick on saw Victor Moses race towards goal before losing the ball. The Nigerian international raced to shield and win the ball back, his shot parried for Dimitri Payet to finish at the back post.
The comeback was complete when Payet was allowed space to find the onrushing Mark Noble whose outside of the foot strike left John Ruddy with no chance in the goal.
Everton 0-1 West Bromwich Albion
A fatigued West Brom side frustrated an attacking Everton outfit to claim a well-deserved victory at Goodison Park. Jonas Olsson was denied a goal when his header was chested in by teammate Salomon Rondon on the line.
The Baggies set up like a true Tony Pulis side, defending deep and playing for each other. The Toffees were allowed no time on the ball before they were closed down. Ross Barkley struck the post as the away side threw themselves in front of everything Everton could throw at them.
Roberto Martinez’s decision to take off Aaron Lennon was greeted with boos from the home support. His replacement, Gerard Deulofeu, failed to have the required impact with Everton unable to produce a tenth goal in four games. The Toffees dropped from eighth to 11th as a result of the defeat.
Of the weekend’s other fixtures:
Crystal Palace 1-2 Watford
AFC Bournemouth 1-3 Stoke City
Swansea City 0-1 Southampton
Southampton go in search of the double at St Mary’s as Chelsea visit the South Coast on 27th February.
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