Premier League Roundup : Leicester stun Liverpool, United thrash Stoke, Manchester City win while Arsenal drop points again
With eight matches kicking off on Tuesday, it was always expected to be an exciting night and the Premier League did not disappoint. Leicester and Manchester City kept up their title challenges going with gritty victories while Arsenal dropped 2 more points as they laboured to a draw against Southampton. Tottenham and Manchester United meanwhile dished out commanding performances to keep up the pressure on the front runners.
Leicester 2 – 0 Liverpool
Jamie Vardy scored twice as Leicester City kept the impossible dream of winning the Premier League alive by beating Liverpool 2-0 at home in a pulsating encounter at the King Power stadium.
The striker's first effort was a stunning dipping volley on 60 minutes and his second, 10 minutes later, sealed a win that continued the Foxes' shock bid for the Premier League title. Leicester as is the norm allowed Liverpool the majority of the possession in the match but they were always looking dangerous on the counter-attack.
The first half ended 0 -0 but Leicester had already sounded the alarm bells for Liverpool with only a couple of brilliant saves from Mignolet keeping the Reds in the game. It was a piece of individual brilliance that broke the deadlock on 60 minutes. Vardy who seemed to be in an unthreatening position displayed outstanding technique to score a looping volley from over 30 yards. The goal was Vardy’s first outside the box this season and it really was deserving of being the game changer.
The defeat sends Jurgen Klopp’s men back to mid table obscurity and cup competitions seem like the only way Liverpool fans might experience some success this season.
The second goal came about with Leicester once again counter attacking brilliantly. After Sakho failed to head clear, Okazaki's shot deflected into the path of Vardy, who made no mistake with a convincing left-footed finish to seal another impressive victory for Ranieri's title challengers ahead of a mouthwatering trip to Manchester City this weekend.
Manchester United 3 – 0 Stoke City
Manchester United turned on the style at Old Trafford by absolutely dominating Stoke City at home. United looked fluent right from the beginning with Rooney, Lingard and Martial all playing fluently and creating plenty of chances.
Stoke had won the reverse fixture 2-0 on boxing day but this encounter represented a complete change from the one that had taken place at the Brittania. Jesse Lingard needed just 14 minutes to put Manchester United in front after some sloppy Stoke defending allowed young Manchester United left back Cameron Borthwick-Jackson to deliver a low cross which was duly converted courtesy of a diving header.
Nine minutes later Martial scored a brilliant second goal which seemed to take the wind out of the sails for the Stoke team which has now won only one of its last 5 Premier League matches. Martial who had wasted a decent opportunity to double the lead quickly atoned for the miss by scoring a stunning goal after a brilliant defense-splitting pass from Rooney found him unmarked on the left side of the box.
Skipper Wayne Rooney put the game beyond doubt with a simple strike in the 53rd minute as United shook off their boring tag to boost hopes of finishing in the top 4. Rooney who had assisted Martial for the previous goal had the favour returned this time with the young Frenchman supplying an inch-perfect low cross for Rooney to tap in.
Marouane Fellaini's late substitution through injury proved the only blot on an impressive performance, which should earn Van Gaal some respite from his more vocal critics.
Arsenal 0-0 Southampton
Arsenal were held to a goalless draw at the Emirates Stadium by Southampton, as the Saints delivered a crippling blow to Arsenal’s title chances. Arsene Wenger has won only two of the last 10 games he has managed against Ronald Koeman, and the Dutchman’s Indian sign over Wenger continued.
Arsenal dominated much of the possession in the first half, but Southampton were threatening on the counter attack as well. The Gunner’s best chances of the first half fell to Mesut Ozil, as the German displayed silky control from an Alexis through ball to set up a strike, but it was straight at Forster. Ozil came close with a close-range prod from a Giroud flick on, but Forster saved again.
Southampton were far more circumspect after the break as Arsenal threw the kitchen sink at the Saints. Ozil and Alexis combined throughout the half trying to fashion chances for each other, but were always thwarted by Forster. Koscielny had the best chance of the second half as he rose to head a delicious delivery from Ozil over the bar.
The result leaves the Gunner’s in 4th, while bitter rivals Tottenham are ahead of them in 3rd, though only on goal difference. Southampton rise to 7th above Liverpool on 34 points.
Sunderland 0-1 Manchester City
Manchester City scraped to a narrow win away against Sunderland at the Stadium of Light, courtesy of a solitary goal from Sergio Aguero. The Citizens have not had the best of memories when facing the Black Cats away from home, and were a far cry from their best but ground out a win regardless, while Sunderland were disappointed to lose, having missed many chances to equalize.
Manchester City were granted an early lead through their talisman Sergio Aguero. Jesus Navas drilled in a low cross from the right after a typical wide run by the Spaniard, which passed through a crowd of Sunderland defenders through to Aguero. The Argentine was paid close attention by John O’Shea, but managed to rifle home a finish into the top-right corner, suffering an injury in the process, but recovered to carry on.
Hart made a great double save to keep out Defoe and Cattermole in quick succession, while Billy Jones had hit the post as well earlier, thus giving City a 1-0 lead going into the break. Sam Allardyce’s side were far brighter in the second half, but failed to convert any of their chances. The Black Cats nearly made Manchester City suffer in injury time, but Otamendi cleared off the line to save the points for the Sky Blues.
The win keeps Manchester City in the title race in 2nd place with 47 points, while Sunderland are still mired in the relegation zone – they are 19th with as many points.
Other notable results of the day included Tottenham cantering to victory against Norwich at home and Bournemouth securing a vital away win against Crystal Palace. There was also drama at the Hawthorns when a late goal by Salmon Rondon denied all the three points to a Swansea side looking to stave off relegation. The scores of the other 4 Premier League games are given below