Saturday, February 13, 2016

It Happened in England: United fall again, Chelsea own Newcastle

Sunderland 2-1 Manchester United
Just what Manchester United needed. A simple road trip to relegation bound Sunderland to keep their slim European hopes alive. If only that's what the result was. Instead, we got a Manchester United performance that has become all too familiar for their supporters this season. Sunderland started their party early with a Wahbi Khazri goal within three minutes of the opening whistle. Boring Manchester United would take more than a half hour to truly recover. Anthony Martial would level in the 39th for them, but it only set up further disaster in the final ten minutes of the match. In the 82nd minute, Lamine Kone headed home a corner that David de Gea really should have kept out. Officially, it went down as an own goal against the United keeper, but I would be willing to give Kone the benefit of the doubt and give him credit. The loss means United are only a point clear in fifth place and a whole six behind fourth with the results of tomorrow's top four armageddon still coming. Sunderland are now only a point away from rising above relegation.

Crystal Palace 1-2 Watford

Both of these sides are safe from relegation and probably not competing for anything in Europe, so this, like much of the midday slate of Premier League matches, served as entertainment without much impact on the grand scheme of things. Troy Deeney did put Watford in front from the spot after an iffy penalty in the 16th. The whistle went for some wrestling in the penalty area that often goes uncalled throughout the course of any match. Palace would strike back at the death of the first half. Emmanuel Adebayor lofted a header in just as the clock hit 45 minutes for his first Palace goal and the first open play goal from any Palace striker all year. Palace would be on the front foot more often as the second half progressed, but it was Troy Deeney being in an advantageous location to pick up a rebound to boot home Watford's winner in the 82nd minute. That's not to say Palace didn't have any chance to get back on equal terms. Yohan Cabaye hammered the post off a corner at the tail end of normal time. A late red card against Pape Souare for a late aggressive challenge sunk them for sure, though.

AFC Bournemouth 1-3 Stoke City
A low bouncer from Gianelli Imbula after eight and a half minutes gave Stoke the early advantage. It became a two goal lead in the 52nd minute when Ibrahim Afellay hammered a line drive into the goal from just outside the penalty area. That was the opening of the floodgates. Joselu found the third Stoke goal three minutes later. Lionel Richie got Bournemouth on the board two minutes after that. That would be it for the scoring as things settled down after that. Stoke climb up to ninth in the table while Bournemouth is stuck down in 15th, four points clear of the drop.

Everton 0-1 West Bromwich Albion
A 14th minute corner provided the opening goal for the visitors. Jonas Olsson did the dirty work of floating the ball onto goal before Salomon Rondon poached it with great authority right not the line. That was enough for West Brom to earn a big three points on the road. For a club that has kind of gotten lost to boredom over the past few weeks, they will take this win over rising Everton any day. 

Norwich City 2-2 West Ham
West Ham was a little flat in this one. After they barely got any chances to score in the first half, they gave up a goal to Robert Brady in the 54th minute to go behind to the relegation candidates. Brady stole the ball from a lazy Michail Antonio in his own end before launching a perfectly placed shot into the upper corner. Wes Hoolahan doubled the home lead in the 65th. One would think that West Ham would have been sunk at this point, but instead, they finally got moving. Dimitri Payet and Mark Noble get them level within two minutes of each other beginning in the 74th minute. Thanks to this and the Newcastle implosion, Norwich are now out of the relegation zone.

Swansea City 0-1 Southampton
Shane Long was the provider of the Saints goal in the 69th minute and that was it. Southampton did have other chances, but the Long goal was enough to earn the three points against the lifeless Swans. Southampton move up into sixth place, just a single point behind Manchester United. Swansea are still three points from safety.

Chelsea 5-1 Newcastle
Chelsea have been unbeaten since Guus Hiddink took over and Newcastle stink on the road. Seems like the perfect combination for a Chelsea rout. Diego Costa slid into a ball that trickled over the line just after the fourth minute struck. Four minutes after that, a sloppy back pass went right to Pedro, who was alone on goal for the easy finish to make it 2-0. The devastation continued with more sloppy midfield and defensive play from the Magpies in the 17th minute. Costa created another turnover near the center of the park and ran down before feeding a perfect pass through flat footed defenders for an easy Willian tap in. Newcastle pretty much gave up at this point. Even with Chelsea backing down as to avoid conceding, Newcastle rarely managed anything productive going forward. As further evidence of Newcastle apathy, Pedro collected a great lob pass from Cesc Fabregas for the fourth in the 59th minute. Bertrand Traore added the fifth in the 83rd minute to end the destruction before Andros Townsend gave Newcastle a consolation goal in the final minute. Newcastle drops to 18th on goal difference while Chelsea climbs to 12th place.

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