Arsenal go top as Chelsea’s woes continue

Another thrilling weekend in the Premier League saw six games played today, with the game of the weekend being played on Sunday, the Manchester derby at Old Trafford. Today produced new leaders, Arsenal, while Chelsea’s title defence spluttered on. Here is what happened on another eventful day in the Premier League:

 

Arsenal 2-1 Everton

Arsenal went top of the table for the first time since February 2014 after a 2-1 win over Everton at the Emirates Stadium on Saturday evening.

Olivier Giroud opened the scoring for the Gunners, before the lead was doubled by defender Laurent Koscielny. Everton pulled one back through Ross Barkley, but their hopes of an equaliser were dashed when Gareth Barry was dismissed for a second yellow card.

It was Arsenal who had the first chance on eight minutes, Giroud heading wide from Santi Cazorla’s corner. The Toffees wasted a great chance on the half-hour mark, an Aaron Lennon cross was not dealt with by Gunners keeper Petr Cech, but John Stones fluffed the chance.

They were made to pay six minutes later, Giroud beating Phil Jagielka to a Mesut Ozil cross to give Arsenal the lead. Two minutes later Cazorla floated a free-kick for Koscielny to head past Tim Howard in the Everton goal to double the lead.

England star Ross Barkley gave his side a route back into the game on the stroke of half-time with a fine run and shot which took a deflection off Gabriel.

Arsenal then took over proceedings, Alexis Sanchez, Giroud and Ozil all having efforts stopped by Howard. Giroud then hit the crossbar as Arsenal looked for their 2,000th goal under manager Arsene Wenger. Everton forward Romelu Lukaku clipped the post from a Barry cross.

Mathieu Flamini and Ozil missed chances late on for Arsenal, Ozil hitting the post, while Gerard Deulofeu was denied by Cech.

Everton’s hopes on an equaliser took a setback when midfielder Barry received a second yellow card for a foul on Kieran Gibbs.

Arsenal moved top with the win, but Manchester City will take back top spot with at least a draw at Old Trafford on Sunday.

 

West Ham United 2-1 Chelsea

Chelsea’s hopes of defending their title successfully are diminishing by the day after they suffered a 2-1 defeat at West Ham, their fifth already this season.

Blues boss Jose Mourinho was sent to the stands, and midfielder Nemanja Matic was sent off in the first half.

The two London clubs exchanged shots over the bar early on, Diego Costa for Chelsea and Dimitri Payet for the home side.

The Hammers took the lead in the 17th minute, a Payet corner was not dealt with, and Mauro Zarate clipped home from the edge of the box.

Chelsea did not really trouble Hammers keeper Adrian in the first half, Kurt Zouma steering a Cesc Fabregas corner towards goal, only for Manuel Lanzini to clear off the line.

Matic was sent off for a second booking just before half time, for a foul on Diafra Sakho. John Terry and Fabregas were booked for protesting the decision, while goalkeeping coach Silvino Lauro was dismissed by referee Jon Moss. Mourinho followed at the half-time interval, forced to watch the rest of the game from the stands.

In the 57th minute, Chelsea drew level. A Willian corner was headed in by Gary Cahill.

Chances were few and far between until Andy Carroll, who earlier came on for Zarate, nodded a header from Aaron Cresswell’s cross beyond Chelsea keeper Asmir Begovic to put West Ham back in front.

The win lifts West Ham up to third in the table, while Chelsea are 15th, just six points off the drop zone and, tellingly, eleven points off the top.

 

Leicester City 1-0 Crystal Palace

Jamie Vardy found the net for the seventh Premier League game in a row as Leicester moved to fifth after this 1-0 victory over Crystal Palace.

Vardy’s goal saw him become only the fifth English player to score for the seventh league game in a row in the Premier League era, joining Alan Shearer, Mark Stein, Ian Wright and Daniel Sturridge.

The Foxes made one change from their last game, Riyad Mahrez coming in for Shinji Okazaki, and he struck a rebound wide from a Marc Albrighton effort that had hit the post.

Danny Drinkwater then struck a 25-yard drive straight at Palace stopper Wayne Hennessey.

Vardy found the net in the 59th minute as a result of a misplaced pass by Brede Hangeland, which was intercepted by Mahrez. He found Vardy, who slotted home.

Palace had a couple of chances late on, Bakary Sako forced Leicester keeper Kasper Schmeichel into a diving save. And a Robert Huth clearing header denied Scott Dann an equaliser as the Foxes held on.

 

Norwich City 0-1 West Bromwich Albion

Norwich suffered a third defeat on the spin after this loss at Carrow Road, a Salomon Rondon effort proving enough for West Brom.

The Canaries were aiming to bounce back from a 6-2 thrashing at Newcastle the previous Sunday, and it was another disappointing display here.

Chris Brunt forced Norwich keeper John Ruddy into an early save with a 20-yard effort, while Nathan Redmond’s effort from an angle was easy enough for Boaz Myhill to deal with.

On the half-hour, Rondon just missed Craig Dawson’s low cross. But he was on hand to open the scoring just after the restart, turning in a fine cross from James McClean.

Apart from the goal, neither side were able to produce any efforts of note. The Baggies content to defend their lead, while Norwich could not penetrate a tight defence, which is a trademark of a Tony Pulis side.

 

Aston Villa 1-2 Swansea City

There was a goalscoring battle of the Ayew brothers at Villa Park, as Andre’s winner three minutes from time confined Jordan’s Villa side to their sixth straight league loss.

Rudy Gestede wasted a couple of chances in the first-half for the hosts. Gylfi Sigurdsson shot wide to the left of Brad Guzan.

Bafetimbi Gomis fired a chance wide, the striker has not found the net now for the sixth game in a row.

Villa took the lead in the 62nd minute, Jordan Ayew finishing with his head from a Gabby Agbonlahor cross.

The lead would not last long, six minutes in fact. Sigurdsson showing his dead-ball prowess by curling a strike beyond Guzan to equalise.

Jordan Ayew had a chance to put Villa back in front, but it was his brother who would have the final say, converting a Kyle Naughton cross.

 

Stoke City 0-2 Watford

Premier League new-boys Watford gained a morale-boosting 2-0 win at Stoke.

Troy Deeney scored his first Premier League goal, and Almen Abdi sealed the points for the Hornets.

Stoke have gained a reputation in recent years as a tough side to play at the Britannia Stadium. And they had the majority of the first-half possession in this game.

But they could not turn the possession into goals. They suffered a blow as early as the tenth minute, Geoff Cameron was forced off with a suspected hamstring injury.

Charlie Adam tried his luck with a trademark drive, as well as a thirty-yard effort. Then Marko Arnautovic headed over from a cross by recent signing Xherdan Shaqiri.

Watford then had a double case of woodwork woe, Odion Ighalo and Deeney denied with consecutive efforts.

But they took the lead when Deeney fired home after a back heel  by Ighalo.

Stoke made a double change on the hour as they battled for an equaliser, Peter Crouch and Jonathan Walters being introduced.

But it was the visitors who would double their lead on 69 minutes, Ighalo pinching the ball off Marc Wilson before finding Abdi to score, like Deeney, his first Premier League goal.

 

Four games are still to be played on Sunday, including the Manchester and Tyne/Wear derbies. Also, Liverpool host Southampton while Bournemouth entertain Tottenham.

 

by Steve Osborne

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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