Premier League Round Up – Week 22nd – 26th April 2017

Due to the two FA Cup semi finals, the Premier League fixtures were rather depleted on Saturday with only 4 matches. Bournemouth having been destroyed by Spurs the previous week sought their revenge on the flailing Middlesbrough and beat them by the exact same scoreline of 4-0 with King scoring after 2 minutes and Afone notching the second after 16 minutes and affectively game over. The north east team were shabby and never look like scoring these days and that’s another nail in their coffin for Premier League survival.

 

West Ham and Everton treated us to a forgetful 0-0 draw. Middlesbrough’s defeat was great news for the two teams above them in Swansea City and Hull City who both registered 2-0 home victories to put the pressure on each other. It’s almost certainly one of these two that will join the inevitable relegation of Sunderland and probably neighbours Middlesbrough too. Llorente and Carroll did the damage for the Swans over Stoke City whilst the impressing Markovic and Clukas grabbed the two goals for Hull City over a deflated Watford.

 

Sunday saw Manchester United continue their great away run and Wayne Rooney return and score for United against Burnley in a straightforward 2-0 win at Burnley.
The club skipper’s first start since March 4 came in place of the injured Zlatan Ibrahimovic, set to miss the rest of the season with a knee ligament injury – as United won comfortably to extend their unbeaten run to 23 league matches. Anthony Martial gave United the lead with his 25th United goal, completing a terrific counter-attack with a cool finish after swapping passes with Ander Herrera. And United’s advantage was doubled by Rooney before the interval, the club’s record goalscorer on hand to turn home a loose ball after Tom Heaton could only parry Martial’s effort. This could be the lifeline for Rooney’s missing season.

 
Big Sam’s the man. He has Crystal Palace firing on all cylinders and beating the big boys. Following impressive wins against Chelsea and Arsenal they shook up a fairly erratic Liverpool team with a 2-1 win, taking them seven points clear of the bottom three. Christian Benteke returned to haunt Liverpool with a double as Crystal Palace took another huge step towards securing Premier League safety with this victory at Anfield.Sam Allardyce’s men looked to be in real trouble in February, but their triumph on Merseyside makes Premier League survival almost assured. Talk about a turnaround for both Allardyce and Benteke.

 
Monday saw Newcastle promoted to the Premier League and Tuesday saw Chelsea go 7 points clear at the summit with a 4-2 win against Southampton. It wasn’t as easy as it sounds as Southampton were in this game for large chunks of the match. Eden Hazard and Diego Costa were both back in the starting line-up after the win over Spurs and were key figures, the Belgian putting Chelsea ahead with a low shot after five minutes. Former Chelsea midfielder Oriol Romeu bundled in an equaliser for Saints before Gary Cahill headed the title pace-setters back in front right on half-time with a brave header not a million miles away from Diego Costa’s flailing boot, a moment that effectively decided the destination of the points. Diego Costa confirmed Chelsea’s supremacy with a header early in the second half before scoring his second with a low shot late on and was the goal of the game with some neat Chelsea one two’s leading to breaking the Southampton defence. Ryan Bertrand, another former Chelsea man, was on target in the dying seconds and spoilt the party a bit but the victory was secured for Conte’s men and the points difference expanded for 24 hours at least.

 
Wednesday saw Tottenham claw back Chelsea’s lead to 4 points with a Christian Ericssen beauty with 11 minutes before full time deciding the match in Spurs favour over Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park.

 
Arsenal beat Leicester by a goal to nil at the Emirates with Robert Huth’s own goal helping the Gunners to a win with 4 minutes of the game to go. The home supporters at Emirates Stadium seemed set for a deflating evening before Nacho Monreal’s shot found the bottom corner via the German defender’s chest. Alexis Sanchez had rattled the bar and been denied by Huth’s last-ditch challenge in the Gunners’ best chances before the goal.

 
In the yawnathon bottom of the table match between a stagnant Sunderland and a mundane Middlesbrough, both of whom forgot how to score this season (Jermaine Defoe being the exception to the rule) then any thoughts of this being a high scoring game could be eradicated with the Dodo. Middlesbrough produced a rarity with a goal, a rarity with a win and that’s about it really, 1-0 to Boro. These two can renew their acquaintancies in the Championship next season.

 

Saturday 22 April

AFC Bournemouth 4 – 0 Middlesbrough
Scorers: King 2, Afobe 16, Pugh 65, Daniels 70
Hull City 2 – 0 Watford
Scorers: Markovic 62, Clucas 71
Swansea City 2 – 0 Stoke City
Scorers: Llorente 10, Carroll 70
West Ham United 0 – 0 Everton
Sunday 23 April
Burnley 0-2 Manchester United
Scorers: Martial 21, Rooney 39
Liverpool 1-2 Crystal Palace
Scorers: Coutinho 24 / Benteke 42, 74
Tuesday 25 April
Chelsea 4-2 Southampton
Scorers: Hazard 5, Cahill 45, Costa 53, 89/ Romeu 24, Bertrand 90
Wednesday 26 April
Arsenal 1-0 Leicester City
Scorer: Huth 86 O.G
Middlesbrough 1-0 Sunderland
Scorer: De Roon 8
Crystal Palace 0-1 Tottenham Hotspur
Scorer: Eriksen 78

Agbonlahor Fires Birmingham Into Trouble

Back from injury, his future uncertain and with many pundits saying he was ‘yesterday’s man’ Gabby Agbonlahor scored the only goal of the game in a tense tussle as Aston Villa beat fierce rivals Birmingham City 1-0 at Villa Park.

It was Harry Redknapp’s first game in charge of the Blues and he like the rest of us watched a poor game of football that neither side deserved to win but win Villa did to put more pressure on Birmingham with just two matches to go to conclude the season. Continue reading “Agbonlahor Fires Birmingham Into Trouble”

Arsenal 2 Manchester City 1 (after extra time)

Arsene Wenger, the man harangued so many times this season proved his critics wrong as he pulled a masterstroke to beat a harassed City who didn’t have luck on their side and looked confused by Wenger’s forward thinking 3-5-1-1 formation. Continue reading “Arsenal 2 Manchester City 1 (after extra time)”

Orient Relegation To Non League Football Finally Confirmed

After 112 years, Leyton Orient football club probably had their saddest day ever when they were finally relegated after going down 3-0 to Crewe Alexandra.

A tragic scenario for such a wonderful little club who have spiraled into the depths of despair in the last 3 years. Despite grimly hanging on to their league status over the Easter period Saturday 22nd April 2017 will go down as a depressing day in their history.

After a dismal 2017 it was only a matter of time until the towel was thrown in, with unpaid staff, kids being thrown in the deep end on the pitch and 5 managers in one season.

For Crewe they will be breathing a massive sigh of relief as this win means they are safe and will play League 2 football next year. For the O’s the future is bleak, facing National League football next season is only the start of their problems, the end of their problems is their Italian Chairman and owner Francesco Becchetti. The quicker this man departs from the club the better.

As for the match itself with Orient again playing the youngsters it was Alexandra that dominated from the start, with Callum Ainley steering in from close range to put the hosts in front after 28 minutes as Callum Cooke was allowed too much time on the left by Michael Clark and crossed in for Ainley, who back heeled into the corner.

It was another poor goal for Orient to concede, yet nothing more than the hosts had deserved at Gresty Road and 2 minutes later it was 2-0 and more trouble for Orient.

Cooper’s corner picked out Ryan Wintle at the back post and despite Teddy Mezague getting back to clear, the ball was adjudged to have crossed the line.

With 30 minutes played at Gresty Road, Orient were heading for relegation after 112 years in the Football League.

Six minutes before half time and the O’s nearly conceded another when Crewe took a free kick quickly. Dagnall crossed in and Perry Ng was about to shoot before Parkes produced a brilliant tackle to deny the defender. Crewe kept the ball alive and it came to Dagnall at the back post, but Sargeant blocked his effort and it stayed 2-0. But not for long.

A minute of stoppage time was added on at the end of the first half and it was enough time for the Railwaymen to add another as Cooper picked up the ball around 25 yards out and with time and space lashed low and into the corner past Sargeant.

It was another poor goal for Orient to concede and concluded a terrible first half for the east Londoners.

Riza made a double substitution at the break with Paul McCallum and Josh Koroma coming on but it made little difference as the game was done and dusted by that point.

Once again it was all over as a match before the break. One telling stat was that Crewe had 25 attempts in the game while Orient had just 2. That just about sums it up really. Crewe could have scored half a dozen and that’s being conservative.

In fact Crewe were on a pretty dismal run of their own coming into the game with this their first win in 5 games.

As well as being relegated, to rub salt into their gaping infested wounds Leyton Orient will definitely finish bottom after Newport beat Accrington Stanley by a goal to nil.

Just under three years ago, Leyton Orient were on the brink of promotion to the Championship, before falling to a 4-3 defeat on penalties in the League One play-off final.

Relegation followed one season later, but this campaign represents a new low for one of the English Football League’s oldest clubs.

As well as the never ending managerial uncertainty, the O’s are in major danger of going out of business, lock, stock and barrel according to the legal adviser to their fans’ trust.

Owner Francesco Becchetti has been given until 12 June to pay off debts or sell the club.

Staff have still not been paid their March wages, and club employees have said they are constantly worried and hugely concerned by a lack of communication from the Orient hierarchy.

Results on the pitch have been poor throughout the season, with the club having both the worst attacking and worst defensive record in the division.

The defeat at Crewe was their 28th loss of the season and leaves them facing a dubious future in the National League and the team went down like a shot dog in the dark in this game.

Omer Riza’s team struggled throughout at Gresty Road, but the damage had been done a long time ago for the Brisbane Road club.

The team Orient put out at Crewe contained eight players aged 20 or younger due to chairman Francesco Becchetti dismantling the squad throughout the season.

Several experienced players have departed Brisbane Road since August and were never replaced leaving the kids in the youth team to pick up the pieces. Orient have lost their fight on the pitch, but attention will now turn to off it and the supporters won’t give up until there is a change of ownership.

Riza was without vice-captain Liam Kelly due to a grade one calf tear, which was a huge blow for O’s. The ex-Oldham Athletic skipper had been immense for Orient in recent weeks and his absence was likely to be sorely felt in Crewe. As a result of Kelly’s injury, Teddy Mezague moved into midfield and Tom Parkes was back after his three-match ban.

Once again and hardly surprising given the circumstances the Orient supporters continued to back the team and also chant for Becchetti to leave the club and were joined by Crewe’s fans.

The sad part was that Orient had their first shot on target on the stroke of full time, as Alzate’s 30 yard effort was comfortably saved by Ben Garratt.

It was almost the last kick of the match and after two minutes of stoppage time, O’s stay in the Football League was over. With two games to go, Orient had officially been relegated and the 407 loyal supporters that turned up in a crowd of 3,745 certainly don’t deserve that.

Becchetti has left the club like a carcass and he needs to go and he needs to go now. Brighton, who were promoted to the Premier League last week prove how a club can go from the worst case scenario of almost going out of business to surviving and making the Premiership. It took them 20 years to the day and I think any Orient fan would want to be in that position now.

You can’t blame the fans, the players or the managers this season, just the owner, and this is one of the saddest articles I’ve ever had to write.

Becchetti please go now.

Chelsea Beat Spurs In Cracker

Even Jacob’s couldn’t make a better cracker than the first FA Cup semi final on Saturday as Chelsea beat Spurs 4-2 in a thrilling game from the off as Hazard and Matic won the game for the Blues.

Chelsea manager Antonio Conte changed the team line up with Eden Hazard and Diego Costa on the bench, obviously looking ahead to Tuesday’s crucial Premier League game with Southampton.

In came Willian and a very rare start for Belgian outcast Michy Batshuayi which was a surprise as Tottenham had been in scintillating form and were high on confidence after closing to within just four points of their London rivals in the Premier League title race.

Willian had a superb match but Batshuayi was almost non existent and may have sealed his fate for next season with this lacklustre performance.

The game got off to a rip roaring start as Willian gave Chelsea the lead with a wonderful free kick after only five minutes.

Harry Kane levelled for Spurs with an instinctive stooping header from way low down and was a lovely equaliser as it slipped into Chelsea’s right hand corner of the net.

Son Heung-min went in to harshly in the box and was penalised for a foul on Victor Moses and up came Willian to put Conte’s side back in front from the penalty spot just before the break as he despatched the ball into the Spurs net with relative ease.

A stunning first half full of good football and talking points and the second half wasn’t a let down either. Spurs seemed to have the momentum after Dele Alli converted Christian Eriksen’s brilliant pass seven minutes after half-time. Eriksen split the Chelsea defence and Alli took the shot instinctively to make the game all square at two goals apiece.

On 60 minutes Conte made a fantastic double substitution as Diego Costa and Eden Hazard came on and the excellent Willian made way along with the out of his depth Batshuayi.

Hazard drove powerfully past Spurs keeper Hugo Lloris after 75 minutes and Nemanja Matic set up an appearance alongside Arsenal in the FA Cup final on May 27th with a spectacular drive five minutes later. A great move finished off by a rare Matic pile driver from 25 yards. A goal good enough to win any game and it did in this case.

Spurs didn’t do too much wrong to be frank and Eriksen, Alli and Kane all had belters of a game but Chelsea were too strong in the end as David Luiz had an excellent match and deserved man of the match which went to the equally superb Matic instead. Willian was brilliant and Nathan Ake looked good in a 3 man Chelsea defence.

Conte has every right to accept the plaudits as Chelsea won a magnificent game of football to reach the final. Conte used Hazard and Costa at a crucial point of the game, with Spurs in the ascendancy and looking the more assertive side after Alli had equalised for the second time.

Hazard, a scourge of Spurs having scored the goal that effectively ended their title chances last season, was involved in what turned out to be the defining moment 15 minutes after coming on, hitting a low drive that gave Chelsea a lead they would not surrender.

Like many teams playing against Chelsea this season in their 3-5-2 formation Mauricio Pochettino dealt a change in the cards but did not enjoy such success with his tactical tweaks, especially the decision to play Son as a left wing-back. With the eagerness spilling over Son provided the penalty that gave Chelsea the all important second goal from the spot.

Spurs are not finding Wembley a happy hunting ground since beating Chelsea 2-1 to lift the League Cup in 2008. They have played at Wembley nine times – winning once, losing six times and drawing once before the defeat against Chelsea this weekend.

Chelsea manager Antonio Conte was jubilant after the game: “I am proud for this achievement. It is great for the players for me. This is my first season in England and it is great to fight for the title and reach the final of the FA Cup, a great competition. During the season there is a moment as a coach you must take a strong decision. You have to take a risk. If you win the plan worked, if you don’t the responsibility is on you. I think today our plan worked very well.”

Tottenham boss Mauricio Pochettino was buoyant in defeat: “I feel proud. We were fantastic in the way we played and in our philosophy. They had five shots and scored four goals and we score only two. The penalty for me was a soft penalty or was not a penalty.”

“Only now we can look forward. We are four points behind them and we will try to win our next game. I am not worried. The team is strong; we are focused. We were competing today with one of the best teams in Europe. Did we deserve more? Sure, but that is football.”

For Chelsea this match will have been a major confidence booster for the rest of the league season as probably of late they have felt Tottenham breathing heavily down their necks in the Premier League. They have seen an 11 point lead dwindle to just four points and looked totally out of sorts in the league defeat to Manchester United last weekend whilst Spurs just can’t stop winning in the league with Kane and Alli magnificent. So a major shot in the arm for the Blues and major disappointment for the Spurs.

 

 

Hit the Beach with EnergyCasino

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Champions League Review – Juventus – Barcelona / Leicester City – Atletico Madrid

Juventus produced a well organised spirited performance as they outshone a poor Barcelona back line and goals from Paulo Dybala with a superb first-half double and Giorgio Chiellini’s second-half header gave Juventus a 3-0 victory over a dreadful Barcelona. Continue reading “Champions League Review – Juventus – Barcelona / Leicester City – Atletico Madrid”

Champions League Review Borussia Dortmund – Monaco / Bayern Munich – Real Madrid

Teenager Kylian Mbappe scored twice as Monaco nicked the first leg of the rescheduled Champions League quarter-final tie at Borussia Dortmund by 3 goals to 2.

In a game delayed by 24 hours due to a bomb explosion and attack on the Borussia Dortmund bus that hospitalised one Dortmund player (Marc Bartra) Mbappe diverted in Thomas Lemar’s cross before Sven Bender’s own goal made it 2-0. Continue reading “Champions League Review Borussia Dortmund – Monaco / Bayern Munich – Real Madrid”

Luton Town 2 Leyton Orient 2 April 14th 2017.

A bit of fight, a bit of heart and a bit of commitment, that’s all Orient fans could have asked as the O’s battled to a 2-2 draw at high flying Luton Town to stave off relegation for the time being at least. In chunks Orient were the better team and were denied a much needed victory as Isaac Vassell’s 73rd-minute goal helped Luton seal a 2-2 draw. At least there were positives to take out of the game. Continue reading “Luton Town 2 Leyton Orient 2 April 14th 2017.”



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