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English Premier League

Crystal Palace 1 – 0 Southampton



Crystal Palace 1 - 0 Southampton

Crystal Palace held on to earn a narrow victory, their third consecutive home win of the season, against a tenacious Southampton at Selhurst Park.

Odsonne Edouard provided the only goal when Wilfried Zaha nipped the ball away from Lyanco and found Tyrick Mitchell, who cut back to set up a simple finish for Edouard.

Southampton improved significantly in the second half and were unlucky not to find an equaliser as Che Adams and Stuart Armstrong both went close and Palace nervously held on to the three points.

The defeat ends a run of three Premier League matches unbeaten for Southampton, who held then league-leaders Arsenal to a 1-1 draw last week.

Palace sit 10th in the table, while Southampton are 16th, two points from the relegation zone.

Palace are unbeaten in four of their six home games this season with this their last in front of a home crowd before the World Cup break.

It is their first clean sheet of the season at Selhurst Park and the first time since May 2018 they have earned three successive home wins.

Aside from one early corner, which Palace keeper Vicente Guaita had to punch away, and a Che Adams shot which hammered off the post but was then pulled up for offside, Southampton were firmly under pressure throughout the first half.

Palace should have opened the scoring earlier, when Eberechi Eze managed a neat little flick over his head to get the ball under control and out to Zaha, who drove forward and squared a wonderful ball across the box with Edouard mere inches away from getting a toe to it.

Twice within the space of a few minutes Eze fired the same shot in from the outside the area – both times finding himself in acres of space. The first was well saved by Saints goalkeeper Gavin Bazunu, while the second went inches wide.

Palace have had to come from behind in all of their victories until this one, having held a record of one draw and one loss when leading at half-time.

Southampton continued to lose the ball in dangerous areas, with the majority of the game played in their own half.

The Eagles had a goal struck off when Michael Olise released Edouard and the France forward tucked away a simple finish but Olise was offside in the build-up. However, Palace earned their just reward when Edouard slotted past Bazunu for his third goal of the season.

Southampton started the second half much better as Adams attempted a shot from just inside the area, forcing Guaita to come out and make a brave stop before Armstrong fired from a tight angle and the Palace keeper was again called into action to prevent the ball sneaking in at the near post.

Palace seemed unsettled by Southampton’s attempts to press and as the second half went on Ralph Hasenhuttl’s side, who have now lost six of their last 10 games, saw the better of the chances.

Eze and Luka Milivojevic gave away the ball carelessly as sloppy mistakes crept in and Bazunu was a solid presence in the Southampton goal.

As was the case against Arsenal, Saints were much improved after the interval as Adams went close again and James Ward-Prowse saw his shot from range go wide.

Although it was a more even contest in the second period, Southampton, who have won eight points from losing positions in the league this season, were unable to snatch an equaliser as Armstrong had done against the Gunners.

Palace had a chance to kill off the game in the closing stages when Jordan Ayew drove into the box but he was too slow in waiting for the right moment to pick out Zaha in the middle and sent the pass straight to the feet of a Southampton defender.

A 4-0 loss at Manchester City earlier this month – Saints’ fourth defeat in a row in the Premier League – increased the scrutiny on manager Hasenhuttl but a third successive game unbeaten had helped alleviate that pressure.

However, Southampton’s record when trailing at half-time now extends to one draw and five losses this season, and this defeat will be a tough one for the Saints boss to take as his side had ample opportunity to earn at least a point.

source – BBC Sport

English Premier League

Arsenal 4 – 1 Newcastle United



Arsenal 4 - 1 Newcastle United

Arsenal underlined their Premier League title credentials as they recorded their sixth consecutive win with a dominant display against Newcastle.

The result sees Mikel Arteta’s side sit two points behind leaders Liverpool and a point behind second-placed Manchester City at the top of the table.

The outcome of this contest appeared inevitable from the moment visiting defender Sven Botman turned the ball in after Gabriel’s header from a corner had been well saved by Newcastle goalkeeper Loris Karius.

While there was an element of bad luck to that for the Dutch defender, who simply could not get out of the way as his Newcastle team-mate Tino Livramento tried to clear, there was little else about Arsenal’s performance that was owed to good fortune.

The Gunners’ intensity and fluent passing repeatedly carved Eddie Howe’s side apart, particularly down the Magpies’ left flank with Livramento and Botman enduring difficult evenings.

Kai Havertz swept in a deserved second shortly after, with Gabriel Martinelli making the most of indecision in the Newcastle defence to cut the ball back into the German forward’s path.

With Arsenal continuing to press, Bukayo Saka twisted and turned Livramento one way and then another before dispatching a left-foot shot into the bottom left corner add to the hosts’ advantage.

Arteta also enjoyed the luxury of being able to take off his captain Martin Odegaard, Havertz and Saka well before full-time after Jakub Kiwior’s effort deflected past the helpless Karius from another Declan Rice corner.

Newcastle, who remain eighth in the table, managed a late consolation courtesy of Joe Willock’s looping header, but there was little else for the visiting supporters to cheer.


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English Premier League

AFC Bournemouth 0 – 1 Manchester City



AFC Bournemouth 0 - 1 Manchester City

Manchester City moved a point behind Premier League leaders Liverpool with a hard-fought victory over Bournemouth at Vitality Stadium.

City started slowly but took the lead midway through the first half when Phil Foden steered home after Erling Haaland’s shot was saved by Neto.

The visitors dominated the rest of the half but were fortunate not to be pegged back early in the second, Marcus Tavernier scuffing a shot into the ground from Antoine Semenyo’s cross before shooting wide after fine work from Dominic Solanke.

Solanke had a header punched off the line by Ederson as Bournemouth continued to apply pressure, while Haaland had another shot saved by Neto with a quarter of an hour remaining.

Second-half substitute Enes Unal headed agonisingly wide in stoppage time for the hosts, as City held on to consolidate second place ahead of crucial games at home to Manchester United and away to Liverpool in early March.

Bournemouth, now without a win in their last seven league matches, stay eight points above the relegation zone but drop a place to 14th.

Champions get job done

Pep Guardiola’s team were made to work hard for three points against Brentford on Tuesday, and they were perhaps a little fortunate to get the win from a testing encounter at Vitality Stadium.

Haaland got the all-important goal against the Bees and the Norwegian should have given the visitors the lead here, sending a right-footed shot off target after running on to Foden’s exquisite cushioned pass.

Haaland was denied by Neto midway through the first half, but Foden – who has now scored in his past five appearances against the Cherries – was on hand to guide home his 16th goal of the season. That is his joint-most in a single campaign.

John Stones, operating in a more advanced role than usual, was outstanding in the first half in particular, repeatedly marauding upfield and almost setting up Rodri for a second City goal not long after Foden’s opener.

The visitors rode their luck after half-time as Bournemouth pushed for an equaliser, with a combination of wasteful finishing by the hosts and smart goalkeeping from Ederson securing City a hard-earned three points.

City have won all 14 of their Premier League games against the Cherries – the best 100% record by one team against another in top-flight history.

Their next five league matches – all against teams currently in the top seven – will go a long way to defining their campaign.


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English Premier League

Manchester United 1 – 2 Fulham



Manchester United 1 - 2 Fulham

Manchester United were given a harsh reality check at Old Trafford as Alex Iwobi’s injury-time effort gave Fulham only their second Old Trafford victory since 1963.

Four days after new co-owner Sir Jim Ratcliffe spoke of United attempting to knock Manchester City and Liverpool off their perch at the top of the English game, they suffered a major blow to their hopes of Champions League qualification.

Without injured striker Rasmus Hojlund, the hosts were ineffective in attack until the final minute of normal time, when Harry Maguire seemed to have rescued a point for the hosts.

But Iwobi had the final say deep into nine minutes of stoppage time, restoring an advantage initially given to them by Nigeria defender Calvin Bassey, who lashed home the loose ball after his header from a Fulham corner had been blocked by team-mate Timothy Castagne.

The result ended a run of 11 Premier League away games without a win for the west London outfit. Prior to this contest, only Sheffield United had a worse top-flight away record this term.

Neither the defeat nor, more importantly, the performance, will give anyone the belief United will achieve Ratcliffe’s lofty aims any time soon.

A sobering reality
There have been a lot of bold claims out of Old Trafford this week.

Ratcliffe has spoken of challenging for major trophies, while Ten Hag has outlined how he and the new co-ownership are aligned in their thinking and the overall direction is positive.

There is nothing like a miserable grey, cold, wet Manchester day to add a large dollop of reality to the situation United find themselves in.

With injury consigning in-form Hojlund to the directors’ box, Marcus Rashford was forced to plough a lone furrow up front and made little impact. Ten Hag gave 19-year-old Omari Forson his first start rather than bring in underperforming £82m Brazilian Antony, while Victor Lindelof filled in at left-back in the absence of Luke Shaw, who is set to miss the remainder of the campaign with a muscle problem.

The performance did not smack of a side capable of securing Champions League football next season, which Ratcliffe has made a priority, let alone threatening Manchester City, Liverpool and Arsenal, who are a long way ahead on this evidence.

Ineos head of sport – and new United football club director – Sir Dave Brailsford was at Old Trafford to see United roar back from 2-0 down to beat Aston Villa on Boxing Day, one of two occasions this season when they had rolled back the years to produce a comeback of thrilling defiance.

When Maguire pounced in the final minute of normal time, it seemed another might be on the cards. United hardly deserved parity. Other than a first-half Diogo Dalot shot that flicked off the outside of a post, Marcus Rashford’s angled effort that Leno saved and a Maguire header that sailed over the bar, they had done little of any effectiveness around the Fulham box.

As it turned out, it was to be Fulham who had the final word. Today, there was no papering over the Old Trafford cracks.

A famous Fulham win
It is almost 12 months since Fulham’s visit to this stadium for an FA Cup tie that ended in chaos as manager Marco Silva and two of his players were sent off, and what was shaping up to be a famous victory turned into a controversial defeat.

While the visitors mercifully avoided any repeat of that discipline breakdown, they were forced to endure more frustration in a first half they dominated without being able to take one of the numerous chances that came their way.

In exploiting the space available in front of the United backline in transition, Fulham were given the freedom to get clear sights of goal.

Iwobi had two opportunities, the second in particular he should have done better with. Andre Onana saved from Rodrigo Muniz and former United midfielder Andreas Pereira. The Cameroon keeper probably earned his luck in the first instance, when the rebound struck Sasa Lukic at close range and the ball bounced inches wide.

Muniz, aiming to become the fourth Fulham player – after Louis Saha, Collins John and Manor Solomon – to score in four successive Premier League games, rolled Lindelof in the penalty area, then fired against the outside of a post with Onana beaten.

At the interval, the fear among the visiting contingent must have been that, after being so flat for so long, their hosts had to improve.

But they didn’t and Bassey lashed home his first Fulham goal with a decisiveness lacking from United’s play.

Even after Maguire’s leveller, Fulham would not be denied as Iwobi finally found the target to give the Cottagers a famous win.


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