First silverware of the season handed out
Chelsea march on in the Premier League
The final weekend of February is in the books, and what a way to end the month. All the talk on Monday morning was about a sensational EFL Cup Final at Wembley which saw Manchester United edge out Southampton.
Billed as a shoot-out between Ibrahimovic and Gabbiadini, it didn’t half work out that way too, with both men scoring two goals each. The Italian should have got a hat-trick, and was cruelly denied by the officials, but he continues to impress for Southampton and the £14m paid for him in January will at least double come the summer, that is for sure. He looks a real find and didn’t deserve to be on the losing side on Sunday.
Zlatan the talisman as United begin to take shape under Mourinho
Man Utd are beginning to look like their old selves under Jose Mourinho, and they scored the kind of late winner Sir Alex Ferguson would have been proud of in his day. Zlatan and Lingard put The Red Devils 2-0 up, Gabbiadini hit back either side of half-time to make it 2-2, before the super Swede crashed in a match-winning fifth on 87-miniutes to gift his employers the first trophy of the season.
Ibrahimovic spoke to the press at full-time, calling it a team effort, and telling fans this is the reason he came to Manchester United, to win silver – and that is what he is doing. The fans’ favourite assured the media the more he wins the more satisfied he gets, meaning we’re sure to see plenty more from him.
Spurs rout sleepy Stoke
Earlier that day and Spurs kept up their push by hammering Stoke 4-0 at White Hart Lane. A hat-trick from Harry Kane – yes, another one – won the day, with Delle Alli getting the spare. That was Kane’s third treble in nine games, and although he had his fair share of fortune with one of them, there can be no denying he is a real star. Europe’s biggest clubs are sure to be keeping an eye on his progress.
That moved Spurs up into second-place, 10 points behind Chelsea, with Man City a point behind, but with a game in hand. Manager Mauricio Pochettino told the waiting press at the conclusion of the match that Kane is one of the best strikers in the world. Labelling his man’s performance as fantastic, he told fans that Harry fully deserves his success as he is a great professional.
Premier League relegation tussle intensifies
At the other end of the table, and there was no happy homecoming for David Moyes, who took his relegation-threatened Sunderland to Goodison Park. Everton, who are now just six points behind Arsenal and a place in the top-four, are showing no signs of slowing up and remain unbeaten in their last nine. They beat Sunderland 2-0 on Saturday, thanks to goals from Gueye and Lukaku, with the latter taking his tally to 60 league goals in 129 appearances, bringing him level with Duncan Ferguson.
Moyes told of a poor first-half performance costing his side, and he thought his men did well to keep it at 1-0. There was no point in the Scotsman sticking the boot into his players, and he seemed to agree, telling fans that they still have time on their side and a bit of form would lift then free of the drop zone. It must pop up soon though.
Sticking with the relegation zone and Crystal Palace got a win on Saturday. Nope, that wasn’t a mis-print. The Eagles beat Middlesbrough 1-0 in London thanks to a goal from defender Patrick van Aanholt, who netted on 34-minutes. It was a deserved lead at the time, and although they played much of the second-half without the ball, big Sam’s side held on to bank a maximum, which lifted them out of the relegation zone, up into 17th.
Allardyce commented on the part the fans played in the win, saying that Selhurst Park was rocking, as supporters appreciated what they were seeing in terms of commitment from the players. The gaffer said when he got there that he would keep them in the division, and everyone connected with the club will be hoping that’s the start of it.