By Ryan Moran
- Spurs and Arsenal share the points at White Hart Lane.
- Leicester go five points clear at the top of the Premier League.
- Steve Mclaren’s position under fire as supporters turn on their manager.
The North London Derby did not disappoint as Tottenham and Arsenal kicked off the weekend’s action. ‘Six point’ games and a late comeback stand out from game week 29 of the Premier League season.
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Tottenham Hotspur 2-2 Arsenal
After successive defeats, Alexis Sanchez’s equaliser gave 10-man Arsenal a first point in three games. For Tottenham the point prevented Mauricio Pochettino’s side from climbing above leaders Leicester at the top.
Arsene Wenger’s side had a point to prove after being beaten by lowly Swansea City and a youthful Manchester United in their previous two games. Aaron Ramsey’s flick put the Gunners on the road to a much needed victory in the race for the title. The modern North London derby never proves a routine win for either side. Francis Coquelin received two yellow cards in quick succession, the second a foul on Harry Kane, left Arsenal down to 10 men with over half an hour to play.
The home side took the upper hand in seven minutes of chaos, starting with a back post equaliser by Toby Alderweireld. An impressive curling effort from Kane had Spurs in front, with the advantage of the extra man but Arsenal showed fight to pull themselves level. Sanchez’s shot slipped through Hugo Lloris’ grasp to pull the visitors level.
While momentum was with Arsenal, the numerical disadvantage made their task that bit harder. Both sides should have left the field with 10 men as Eric Dier, already on a yellow card, pulled the shirt of Olivier Giroud but received no punishment. Spurs will feel hard done by as Arsenal’s second choice goalkeeper David Ospina kept the home side at bay as Leicester now have the chance to go five points clear at the top.
Everton 2-3 West Ham United
Dimitri Payet completed West Ham’s late comeback as the Hammers snatched victory from the jaws of defeat. The Hammers’ fine form means Champions League qualification remains a possibility with nine games remaining.
In an intriguing affair between two sides with quality in abundance, Everton took the lead through Romelu Lukaku. The Belgian powerhouse shrugged off the young Reece Oxford to beat Adrian. It wasn’t all plain sailing for the Toffees however, who lost Kevin Mirallas to two first half yellow cards.
Aaron Lennon doubled Everton’s lead ten minutes into the second half and Lukaku had the chance to add a third from the spot. The Belgian’s tame penalty was saved by Adrian in the Hammers’ goal as eight minutes later Michail Antonio started the comeback. Mark Noble’s cross was met by Antonio and Diafra Sakho drew the visitors level from Payet’s pass.
The French playmaker added the winning goal to his assist as three consecutive goals sunk their Merseyside opponents. Slaven Bilic’s side are now within three points of third placed Arsenal as Europe looks likely for their first season at the Olympic Stadium.
Newcastle United 1-3 AFC Bournemouth
Chants of “Steve Mclaren, you’re taking us down” and “you’re getting sacked in the morning” filled St James’ Park on another disappointing day for the Magpies. Eddie Howe’s Bournemouth moved a step closer to Premier League survival as the Cherries move 11 points clear of the relegation zone.
In a fierce opening 20 minutes, the home side threatened in attack but came to no prevail. The opening goal summed up Newcastle’s season as Bournemouth took the lead through a Steven Taylor own goal. The defender diverted the ball into his own net as Joshua King squared the ball across the front of the goal. Taylor nearly pulled his side level on half time, Simon Francis deflecting the shot wide of the Bournemouth goal.
King, who assisted the first goal, doubled the Cherries’ lead with 20 minutes to play. The striker fired high into the net from Matt Ritchie’s pass. Ayoze Perez offered the hosts a lifeline with under ten minutes to play but Charlie Daniels’ injury time solo effort ended hopes of a Newcastle comeback.
Mclaren’s side have ten games to fight for survival, one point adrift of safety but sit 19th on goal difference below rivals Sunderland who occupy the final relegation place. Numerically, Bournemouth could still be relegated but the performance of Max Gradel showed the winger’s quality despite a long period on the side line through injury.
Manchester City 4-0 Aston Villa
After a goalless first half the floodgates opened at the Etihad as Manchester City ran out clear winners. A Sergio Aguero brace added the second and the third goals but was denied a hat trick from the penalty spot by Brad Guzan in the Villa goal.
Remi Garde’s first game in charge of Villa was against Manuel Pellegrini’s side, ending in a draw at Villa Park. While Aston Villa’s defence stood firm in the first half, they couldn’t keep out the likes of Aguero and Yaya Toure for 90 minutes.
Toure opened the scoring shortly after the interval when Aguero’s pass found David Silva, setting up the Ivorian to break the deadlock. The Argentine doubled their advantage 90 seconds later, Wilfried Bony’s through ball was intercepted by Micah Richards against the striker to rebound past the helpless Guzan between the posts.
After a tight first period, Villa’s defence crumbled as each goal rippled the net and with every goal City grew in confidence. Aguero made sure of the points with his second and City’s third, passing with Silva before driving low into the net. Raheem Sterling added a fourth from Jesus Navas’ cross, having spectators questioning how many the Citizens would score by the end. Aguero’s saved penalty was the only downside in a dominant performance as Ciaran Clark brought down Kelechi Iheanacho.
Chelsea 1-1 Stoke City
Mame Biram Diouf’s late header prevented Chelsea from leapfrogging Stoke City in the table. Guus Hiddink’s decision to play Bertrand Traore over Loic Remy also paid dividends as the lone striker opened the scoring in spectacular fashion for the Blues.
In an even first half, chances fell for both sides but neither side could make it count. With the game evenly poised at 0-0, Traore turned and blasted past the hard to beat Jack Butland in the Stoke goal. After a few half chances, the striker finally made his mark scoring his fourth goal in five appearances.
If all the games finished at half time, Chelsea would have moved up to seventh, Diouf’s header meant the Blues retained 10th in the league. The Potters looked the more likely to score and eventually drew level through Diouf. The striker headed into an empty net as Thibaut Courtois punched Xherdan Shaqiri’s cross, helpless to prevent Diouf’s header from crossing the line.
Of the other fixtures:
Southampton 1-1 Sunderland
Swansea 1-0 Norwich
Watford 0-1 Leicester
Crystal Palace 1-2 Liverpool
West Bromwich Albion 1-0 Manchester United
In a disrupted schedule, Arsenal host West Bromwich Albion in one of six Premier League fixtures starting on 12th March.
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