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English Premier League

West Ham United 1 – 1 Chelsea

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West Ham United 1 - 1 Chelsea

West Ham United 1 – 1 Chelsea. Former Chelsea player Emerson Palmieri scored against his former club to earn West Ham a point and increase the pressure on Blues boss Graham Potter.

Chelsea fielded a new-look £200m forward line but, despite taking the lead, were once again frustrated and have won just once in seven Premier League matches.

Joao Felix had already had a goal ruled out for offside when Portugal forward fired visitors Chelsea ahead with a volleyed finish following a delicious assist by Enzo Fernandez, the £107m British transfer-record signing from Benfica.

Kai Havertz thought he had doubled the lead only for Chelsea’s celebrations to be cut short by another offside flag, before West Ham equalised through Italy international Emerson’s first Premier League goal.

The 28-year-old, who spent four years at Stamford Bridge, finished at the far post after Vladimir Coufal’s cross was flicked on by Jarrod Bowen.

Chelsea, who have dropped 14 points in the last seven top-flight matches, carved out the better chances but could not make them count.

Noni Madueke was lively on his first start for the club since his £30.7m arrival from PSV Eindhoven and the 20-year-old forced a fine save from Lukasz Fabianski before the West Ham keeper kept out a free-kick by Felix.

In a dramatic finish, West Ham thought they had won it in the closing stages when substitute Tomas Soucek scored from close range but it was ruled out for offside – the third disallowed goal of the match.

This was another hugely frustrating day for Potter and Chelsea as strong appeals for an 89th-minute penalty were waved away after Soucek appeared to handle Conor Gallagher’s shot inside his own box.

Chelsea, who have already been eliminated from both the FA Cup and Carabao Cup, resume their Champions League campaign against Borussia Dortmund on Wednesday on the back of a poor run of form.

They have taken just seven points out of the last 21 on offer and are well adrift in the race to finish in the top four, despite their heavy spending over the past two transfer windows.

In addition, they are without an away win in the league since October, a run of seven matches which included losses at Potter’s former club Brighton & Hove Albion, Newcastle United and Fulham.

Chelsea had seven players under the age of 24 in their starting line-up at West Ham, including Madueke, Felix, Mudryk and Havertz.

There were encouraging signs as the young forward line caused problems in the first half but Chelsea were disappointing in the second half and has now scored just 23 goals in 22 league games.

They continue to stutter under Potter, who has won just five of his 16 top-flight matches since taking charge in September.

When these two clubs previously met, at Stamford Bridge last September, Hammers boss David Moyes was left furious by a “scandalous” decision to rule out a 90th-minute West Ham equaliser.

Once again they had another late goal chalked off as Soucek’s finish was disallowed but there were few complaints from the Hammers bench this time as replays showed it was clearly offside.

Instead, it was Chelsea who was aggrieved at the end after appeals for a penalty after Soucek’s handball was waved away.

After a long season of struggle, West Ham is showing signs of fighting near the bottom of the table.

They head to Tottenham for another London derby on 19 February on the back of a four-match unbeaten run after following up a 1-1 draw at Newcastle with another gritty performance.

Whether Brazil midfielder Lucas Paqueta features against Tottenham remains to be seen.

The 25-year-old, one of West Ham’s better performers this season, went off early with a suspected shoulder injury, and Moyes will hope it is not too serious as his side look to climb away from trouble.

source – BBC

English Premier League

Arsenal 4 – 1 Newcastle United

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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.

-BBC

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English Premier League

AFC Bournemouth 0 – 1 Manchester City

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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.

-BBC

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English Premier League

Manchester United 1 – 2 Fulham

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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.

-BBC

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