Saturday, January 23, 2016

It Happened in England: Leicester to the top again, Liverpool and Norwich give us a memory

Norwich City 4-5 Liverpool
Liverpool had heartbreak against Manchester United, thankfully and easy tilt with Norwich could get them back in track. What they didn't expect was this barn burner of a match that saw them go 3-1 down shortly after halftime, go back up by a goal, give up a stoppage time equalizer, then a dramatic winner seconds before the final whistle. The unexpected first half dominance of Norwich didn't start until after the Reds were up a goal. Roberto Firmino put them in front in the 18th minute. The next half hour or so was all Norwich.  Their first goal came int he 29th minute courtesy of Dieumerci Mbokani. The second was from their sparkling new signing, Steven Naismith, in the 41st. Wes Hoolahan completed the carnage in the 54th. Liverpool got back in gear immediately after the Hoolahan tally. They would bury the next three in the match over the next 20 minutes. First it was JordanHenderson in the 55th. Then FIrmino's second in the 63rd. Finally, James Milner had them back in front int he 75th. Norwich would not go quietly, however. After some sustained pressure, Sebastian Bassong got the home side back on level terms in the second minute of stoppage time. Just when you thought it was over, Adam Lallana stepped up to give Liverpool all three points. He finished off a crazy sequence in the penalty area by finding the upper corner of the goal in the fifth and final minute of stoppage time. After his insane celebration saw him yellowed for removal of his shirt, the final whistle, sadly, went to bring this memorable match to an end.

Crystal Palace 1-3 Tottenham
Crystal Palace have lost their goal scoring ability, and playing Tottenham is not a good way to get it back. It wasn't a good start for them, however. Jan Vertongen put one into his own goal at the half hour mark to give Palace the lead. It's a little funny that their goalless streak would come to an end with, of all things, an own goal. It took time, but Harry Kane came to the rescue for Spurs. As Tottenham controlled the game, Kane leveled in the 63rd minute. Dele Alli finished flipping the script with his 84th minute winner and Nacer Chadli added an insurance goal in the 90th

Leicester City 3-0 Stoke City
Leicester could go top of the table with at least s point at home agaisnt Stoke, but points against Stoke are never easy to come by. They were unphased by such thoughts early on. They dominated the first half and went in front inn the 42nd minute after Danny Drinkwater scored on a low shot from outside the penalty area after a series of corners for the Foxes. Leicester continued to keep things in their attacking end inn the second half. Jamie Vardy scored their second goal by getting ahead of the back line on a long poss forward. He was able to slip around Jack Butland inn the goal to slide the ball into an open goal from a tough angle. Leicester just wasn't letting Stoke anywhere near the ball. They finished he rout in the 87th minute when Leonardo Ullpa poked home a slick assist from Riyad Mahrez. Leicester are in first, for now. They await the result of tomorrow's big Arsenal-Chelsea clash to know their true fate for the week.

Manchester United 0-1 Southampton
United have a hot Wayne Rooney and some momentum to get back into the title race coming into this home match with Saints. But it was boring, boring Man United rolling the day. That lack of attacking punch would come to ruin them. Charlie Austin, inn his Southampton debut, scored the winner inn the 87th minute to warm Louis van Gaal's seat up a bit. His Red Devils sit in fifth after the loss, drifting further an further away from the Champions League each week. 

Sunderland 1-1 Bournemouth
Benik Afobe's 13th minute flick gave the Cherries the lead. It wouldn't quite last until halftime. Patrick van Aanholt,  who has been on quite a year for the Black Cats, leveled the score in first half stoppage time. That's how it would end in the northeast. Sunderland is still in relegation land after the draw and Bournemouth is still only four points clear.

Watford 2-0 Newcastle
Newcastle have been busy in the transfer window, and Jonjo Shelvey was looking to impress in his debut with the Magpies. Nobody was able to break through in the first half, but Odion Ighalo wasted no time during for the Hornets in the first minute of the second half. Craig Cathcart doubled it in the 58th. Newcastle didn't give yup at that point. They pulled one back through Jamaal Lascelles in the 71st minute.

West Bromwich Albion 0-0 Aston Villa
Aston Villa are still in last, West Brom are struggling. They only too four shots and couldn't land any on target. Villa couldn't put any of their 15 into the net, either, but at least they had chances. Their best opportunity was a denied penalty in the 24th minute that could have given them the lead. The referee thought that Jordan Olsson's challenge on Andre Ayew was legitimate, so he didn't blow the whistle and point to the spot.

West Ham United 2-2 Manchester City
West Ham thinks they are ready for the big time, and a win against Manchester City would prove that, as well as hurt the visitors' title chances. The game has only just got going when we saw our first goal. Enner Valencia connected on a low cross less than a minute intothe match to give the home team a lead. Manchester City had an immediate answer. Sergio Aguero drew a penalty in the ninth minute and buried the subsequent attempt. The rest of the first half was pretty even, but West Ham jumped back in front early in the second half. Valencia was the culprit once again as he nailed his second of the match in the 56th minute. City would have to work harder to gain teir equalizer, but it did eventually come along. Aguero found it in the 81st minute to ruin West Ham's hopes of an upset at the top of the table.

Either way, Manchester City falls a little off the pace at the top. The are level with Arsenal, for now in second and three points back of Leicester City for first. 

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