Saturday, February 6, 2016

It Happened in England: Yes, Leicester are for real

Manchester City 1-3 Leicester City
Yes, Leicester are on top of the table. Yes, they have been so for quite some time this year. We all still had a little shred of doubt about them however. A lot of us were still thinking that today would be the end of the line for them. We thought they would stroll into Etihad Stadium and valiantly fall, signaling the end of their title run. Well, those doubts are gone. Leicester City have our full attention.

Robert Huth poked home a free kick in the third minute to put Leicester in front early on. Manchester City would then control the majority of possession, but never really get a great chance at scoring. The Foxes would break on a few strong counter attacks, but would not score again in the first frame.

The second half started much the same way. City controlled the ball. Leicester countered. Only this time Leicester also scored. Riyad Mahrez finished a brilliant run down the pitch by giving Joe Hart no chance on his 48th minute shot to double the lead. Huth would triple the lead with his second of the match just before the hour mark hit. The towering defender got his ogre-like head to a corner and lofted it into the goal sending Leicester's travelling band of fans into euphoria. That was it. Sergio Aguero's 87th minute consolation goal was meaningless. Manchester City were beaten into submission by a club that was bottom of the pile a year ago. But, more to the point, that club are top of the table by five points now.

Aston Villa 2-0 Norwich City
With all the glorious fixtures this weekend, we are also stuck with this battle of relegation candidates. They did manage to squeeze a goal out of each other before the halftime whistle. Joleon Lescott gave the bottom feeders the lead in the final minute of the first half. It didn't take long for Villa to double the advantage. Gabriel Agbonlahor scored in the 51st to give them a rare win, let alone one by two goals. They're still in last place, though. Norwich falls down into 18th place thanks to the Newcastle result below

Liverpool 2-2 Sunderland
Would Reds fans walk out in the 77th minute as promised? Would Liverpool be able to overcome playing without their manager due to appendicitis? So many questions, this match, and so few answers in the scoreless first half. Liverpool provided one in the second half. It went 1-0 to the Reds thanks to Roberto Firmino in the 59th minute. Adam Lallana doubled the lead in the 70th minute to try and make sure the early departing supporters didn't miss anything overly important. And there were plenty of empty seats when the 77 minute mark rolled around, despite the 2-0 lead. More than half the stadium was still filled, so the protesters may not have achieved their desired effect. And the ones that did leave missed quite the comeback from the Black Cats. Once the disgruntled spectators were gone, Adam Johnson cut into the lead with an 82nd minute goal. They equalized in the 89th with a well places shot from Jermaine Defoe.

Newcastle 1-0 West Bromwich Albion
Another match featuring two struggling clubs gave us a first half goal. Aleksander Mitrovic scored for Newcastle in the 2nd minute. The two failed to give us anything else for the rest of the match and Newcastle took all three points at home to lift them out of the drop zone by a point.

Stoke City 0-3 Everton
Everton score early and often throughout the first half. For starters, Jack Butland gave away a penalty with a late challenge on Tom Cleverley ten minutes in. Romelu Lukaku buried the spot kick with ease. Seamus Coleman made it two in the 28th. And the third came from Aaron Lennon in the 42nd. The second half was much calmer. But Everton didn't need it to be crazy. They wee content sitting back and defending their way to a relaxing victory at a difficult ground to win at.

Swansea City 1-1 Crystal Palace
Palace have been back on track a bit lately, but Swansea has been as well. And it was th Welsh relegation fighters with the first breakthrough. Gylfi Sigurdsson had them in the lead in the 13th minute. Scott Dann was able to find an equalizer. He leveled proceedings in the 47th minute to force a share of the points.

Tottenham 1-0 Watford
Faced with Leicester separating themselves up top, Tottenham needed a win, but Watford can be a tricky bunch. The visiting Hornets held strong through the opening frame to keep it scoreless. Tottenham was throwing everything they had towards the goal once the match got started again. They were rewarded in the 64th minute with a perfectly threaded pass from Dele Alli to Kieran Trippier for his first career goal with Spurs. That was all Tottenham needed to leap frog Manchester City into second place.

Southampton 1-0 West Ham
West Ham have their eyes on a Europe League place, but Southampton are starting to rediscover their form. The Saints were the first in the lead with a ninth minute close range finish from Maya Yoshida. West Ham was consistently on the back foot during the first half. Southampton had the bulk of the chances, but nothing more found the net in the first 45 minutes. The second half got off tk a much better start for the Hammers. They had better possession numbers early on, and got a boost when Victor Wanyama was sent off for an reckless challenge in the 54th minute. But regardless of the manpower advantage, Southampton held on for the win. West Ham stays out of the top five and Southampton creeps up to seventh, within two points of the Hammers.

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