Archive for May, 2014

Have Liverpool Blown Their Big Chance?

Posted on: May 8th, 2014 | by Steve | No Comments

Only one week remains in the Premier League this season and Manchester City have taken the advantage of their rivals mistakes and now have one hand on the trophy.

Another exciting set of games last weekend saw Liverpool lose ground at the top and Chelsea’s hopes of the title disappear completely.

The late kick off on Saturday afternoon saw Man City travel to Goodison Park with the hosts still hoping for a place in the Champions League, and it was the Toffees who went ahead after only 11 minutes with a sublime strike from England hopeful Ross Barkley.

However, City weren’t going to give up the title race that easily and equalised only 10 minutes later thanks to Sergio Aguero. City then went 2-1 up before the break to put them top of the league as things stood and only 3 minutes after the break City made it 3-1 putting them in a great position to close the game out and take a firm stranglehold in the race for the title.

A goal from Belgian striker Romelu Lukaku gave Everton hope but the points were City’s and they knew that the pressure was now on Liverpool and Chelsea to stay in the race.

Chelsea hosted Norwich at Stamford Bridge knowing that a win would put them top of the league and make the final weekend a three horse race for the title but, in a familiar story for the Blues this season, couldn’t seem to break down the Norwich defence. 71% possession and 23 shots on goal, but only 4 on target highlighted exactly where Chelsea have let the title slip this season. The game finished 0-0 and effectively ended Chelsea’s title hopes, all they could do was hope that Liverpool would slip up again on Monday night and Man City would fail to win either of their remaining two games.

In the final game of the weekend Liverpool travelled to in form Crystal Palace, knowing that a win would end Chelsea’s hopes and would put them back on top.

In a hard fought first half Joe Allen found space in the box to head in from a corner, although replays show that there were clear fouls on Joe Ledley, the player marking Allen, but the goal was given and Liverpool went into half time 1-0 up.

In the second half Liverpool quickly came out of the blocks and within 10 minutes of the restart they had scored 2 more goals to put them 3-0 up and odds on to go back to the top of the table.

Tony Pulis’ side grabbed what looked to be just a consolation goal 10 minutes from time, and when substitute Dwight Gayle scored a second 2 minutes later hopes of an unlikely comeback were high.

With only 2 minutes left Dwight Gayle popped up in space at the edge of the Liverpool box to equalise leaving Liverpool players in tears at the final whistle, fearing they had thrown away their biggest chance of winning the Premier League.

Two days later Man City played their game in hand against Aston Villa and with the Liverpool slip up they knew 4 points from the final two league games would be enough for them to win the Title for the second time in 3 years.

Villa, playing with more freedom knowing their Premier League status was confirmed, held firm to go in at 0-0 at half time, but in the second half Man City came out fighting.

Edin Dzeko scored twice in 10 minutes to put the hosts 2-0 up before Steven Jovetic grabbed a third. Behind the scenes they are surely clearing space at the Etihad trophy cabinet for the return of the Premier League title.

Yaya Toure ended the rout scoring a brilliant solo goal and Man City’s 100th goal of the season, becoming only the second team in Premier League history to do so.

At the bottom of the league the feelings were very different, Fulham were beaten 4-1 at Stoke to confirm their place in the Championship next season and Cardiff didn’t put up much of a fight in a 3-0 defeat to Newcastle as they were also relegated.

Sunderland performed a miracle and became only the second team in Premier League history to survive the drop after being bottom at Christmas with a 2-0 win against West Brom on Wednesday night.

That result meant that Norwich need more than a miracle to survive now, only 3 points behind West Brom, they need a 18 goal swing in their favour to stay up.

It’s been a fantastic season in the Premier League with twists and turns almost every week at both the top and bottom of the table. Can City claim a point at home to West Ham to clinch the title or will there be one final huge twist in this unbelievable season?

Dramatic End to the Championship Season!

Posted on: May 6th, 2014 | by Steve | No Comments

With the Premier League still a week from finishing, the Championship drew to a close with only the playoffs remaining this season. Already promoted Leicester and Burnley knew that Premier League football was already guaranteed for next season and, with the third, fourth and fifth places already confirmed, there was only one place up for grabs in the playoffs.

Reading hosted promoted Burnley and knew that either a win or equalling Brighton’s result would mean that there was a potential for a return to the top flight, and at half time everything was looking good for them, Brighton were trailing 1-0 to Nottingham Forest and even though they were losing as well they knew that at the time that was enough to claim the last playoff place.

The second half of both games proved decisive, within 10 minutes of the second half starting Brighton had equalised and as it stood were claiming sixth place, but with news of this getting to Reading they equalised against Burnley and once again had the edge. However, in the dying minutes, Brighton top scorer Leonardo Ulloa headed home from close range to secure a place in the playoffs and a potential place in the Premier League for the first time.

At the bottom of the league it was almost as exciting, with two teams already down, Doncaster and Birmingham travelled to Leicester and Bolton, with the hope of staying in the Championship. With only a point separating the two before the games Birmingham knew that they needed to at least draw and hope that Doncaster would be beaten to have a chance. An hour in to the game Birmingham went a goal down to Bolton and then with only fifteen minutes to go things got even worse as they went two down.

Doncaster looked all but safe only to concede a highly controversial penalty with just fifteen minutes remaining that was converted to leave them preying that Bolton would hold on and beat Birmingham.

When all looked lost Birmingham fought back and scored to give themselves hope in the 78th minute of the game. As the 90th minute came Birmingham poured forward looking for the vital equalizer and with the final whistle about to sound Paul Caddis scored a dramatic equaliser to save Birmingham from relegation and sentence Doncaster to relegation down to League One along with Barnsley and Yeovil.

How do you think the promoted and relegated teams will fare in their new divisions next season?

Who would you tip to triumph in the playoffs and win a place in the Premier League?