Premier League round up, March 20th 2017
Crystal Palace move clear of trouble
Big Sam to see them safe?
There were major developments at both ends of the English Premier League this weekend, with three fascinating matches going ahead on Sunday afternoon. We must start our round review with Crystal Palace however, who bagged their third win in-a-row to give a serious boost to their bid to stay in the top-flight come the final count.
The team who couldn’t buy a win not too long ago, are now reaping the benefit of having experienced grafter Sam Allardyce at the helm, with victory managed over Middlesbrough, West Brom and, most recently, Watford. That run will both delight and amaze fans, but what will be particularly pleasing to the backroom staff is that they have kept a clean-sheet in each of those three.
Big Sam’s scrappers grabbed a morale-boosting three points from neighbours Watford on Saturday at Selhurst Park. Troy Deeney scored the only goal of the game, which he would’ve bitten your hand off for if offered before kick-off, but unfortunately for The Hornets captain it came at the wrong end. With 68-minutes on the clock he headed a Yohan Cabaye free-kick into his own net to end his side’s chances in London.
That win moved Palace four points clear of the drop-zone, and manager Allardyce had the look of a man who didn’t have a care in the world in his post-match chat with the press. The former England boss – we won’t say disgraced as it’s in the past and football fans appear to have moved on – told the media that he had implemented a number of changes at backroom level, and is finally beginning to see the benefit. He thought his side looked solid, again, and they are not conceding the kind of silly goals that had hurt them earlier in the season.
Man Utd finally shake off 6th place
On Sunday, Manchester United stole the headlines with a hard-fought win over Middlesbrough. The three points gained from that moved them up to fifth in the table, above Arsenal, and that will rate as a source of amusement for manager Jose Mourinho. It’s another landmark ticked off for United however, and they are now zoning in on a top-four finish.
Fellaini got the show on the road, scoring a header on 30-minutes to put the visitors in charge, and that lead was enhanced by Lingard and Valencia, the latter coming in added-time. Boro fought back through Gestede, to give their fans something to cheer, but in the end it was a very fair result.
The Special One applauded his side off the park at full-time, saying that they have all bases covered, with a plan for every letter of the alphabet. He thought the win on Sunday capped a fantastic week for the club as they reached the quarter-finals of the Europa League and edged closer to the top-four, which gave them two avenues into next season’s Champions League. It’s obvious the board have given qualification for next season’s major European tournament as the number one priority.
Spurs roll on at home
Spurs kept up their stunning form this season, and they didn’t need Harry Kane to do it, beating off Southampton 2-1 at White Hart Lane. Eriksen put the North Londoners ahead on 14-minutes, and that set the pace for the rest of the day. Alli made it 2-0 from the penalty spot shortly after, while Ward-Prowse kept an ambitious Saints in it with a goal on 52-minutes.
The locals had to battle for every bit of luck that they got that day, probably more so in the absence of Kane, but got their hands dirty to take the club-record winning run to 10 at White Hart Lane. They have been nothing if not impressive so far this season. Fans had the right to feel a bit cheated however, as what was shaping as a straight shoot-out between star strikers Kane and Gabbiadini didn’t materialise. Kane was already on the treatment table with an ankle injury, while the Italian had to be taken off in the first-half.