BPL Recap, Highlights: Liverpool grind out result to stay top, Everton nears Champions League place with big win over Arsenal, more

IMAGE, MLSSOCCER.COM

BY MATTHEW LEVINE
Staff Writer

Liverpool knew a win would see them keep their place atop the Barclays Premier League, and they did just that. In a tough match against West Ham, the Reds were able to grind out a 2-1 victory, thanks to two Steven Gerrard converted penalties.

Luis Suarez had the best opening chance as he saw his looping shot come back off the crossbar. His next attempt was clipped over goalkeeper Adrian, but came back off the post.

However, it was Suarez who was involved in helping the Reds to the lead. Gerrard played a long ball into the Hammers penalty area and Suarez looked to flick the ball on and it came off of Hammers defender James Tomkins‘ arm. Gerrard stepped up to take the ensuing penalty and put the Reds ahead in the 44th minute.

The Hammers then pulled one back moments later in first half stoppage time in controversial fashion. Mark Noble sent in a corner and it appeared Simon Mignolet had it covered. However, former Liverpool striker Andy Carroll‘s arm made contact with the Reds’ keeper and the ball fell to Guy Demel to finish into an open net. The goal should have been ruled out due to a foul, but no such call came forth.

It was then Gerrard who pushed Liverpool ahead for good with another penalty kick in the 71st minute.

Liverpool continue to win games — even ugly as they did against the Hammers. The win this weekend is exactly the kind of result you need to grind out if the club is going to win the league. Liverpool look good bets for the title at the moment, but there is still a massive five games to play.

Other Premier League Fixtures

1. Everton Punish Arsenal– Everton hosted Arsenal and it was an all too familiar performance for the Gunners. After another clash against a top table team, Arsenal have now conceded 20 goals and have only scored four in those matches.

All the credit has to go to Roberto Martinez and the way he set his team. The Toffees had the lead after just 14 minutes. Romelu Lukuaku‘s initial shot was saved by Wojciech Szczesny, but the rebound fell kindly to Steven Naismith,who slotted the ball home for the opener.

Lukaku then scored a superb goal to double the Toffees advantage. The young Belgian striker received the ball on the right-hand side and cut in, taking the ball past Nacho Monreal and Thomas Vermaelen and firing his shot to the far post at the 34th minute.

The lead was then three in the 61st. Kevin Mirallas drove at the Gunners defense and played the ball through towards Naismith. Szczesny left his line and knocked the ball away, but Mirallas continued his run. In an attempt to make a last ditch tackle, Mikel Arteta got the final touch as the ball found the back of the net for an own goal.

There is only one point now that separates the two teams in their race for fourth. Everton are the team in-form at the moment. Arsenal can get a massive confidence boost if they win their semi-final match against Wigan, a much needed one at that.

2. Crystal Palace Soar Past Cardiff– Both Crystal Palace and Cardiff were looking to aid their Premier League survival hopes and one club did, emphatically. Palace stormed past Cardiff 3-0 as Cardiff remains second from the bottom.

Jason Puncheon gave the visitors the lead after being picked out in the Cardiff box by Joe Ledley. Puncheon fired the ball to the near post, wrong footing keeper David Marshall as he watched the ball roll into his net.

It was in the second half that Cardiff finally doubled their advantage. Marouane Chamakh‘s initial headed effort was saved, but Ledley was on hand to tap in the rebound in the 71st minute. Palace then added a third to add to Cardiff’s misery. Puncheon added his second of the match with a looping shot from distance that found the top corner in the 88th minute.

Crystal Palace look likely to survive now, while Cardiff are in some serious trouble of playing in the Championship next season.

3. Man City Keeps Pace With Four Goal Performance– Manchester City were looking to increase the pressure on their title rivals and they did just that with a convincing victory over Southampton. With still two games in hand, City are only four points off the top after a 4-1 victory.

City were led by three first half goals as they opened the scoring in the third minute of play. Jose Fonte‘s poor tackle took down Edin Dzeko in the box and Yaya Toure stepped up to convert the spot kick.

Southampton leveled the match with a penalty of their own in the 37th minute. Jack Cork was tripped up by Pablo Zabaleta as Rickie Lambert converted the ensuing penalty kick.

City then got two goals in succession as the half drew to a close. David Silva played a square ball for Samir Nasri who was able to tap in easily in the first minute of first half stoppage time. Aleksandar Kolorav whipped in a cross from the right and Dzeko headed home at the back post in the fourth minute of stoppage time in the first half.

City added their fourth in the 81st minute. Jesus Navas  played in a low cross that went untouched until Stefan Jovetic finished at the far post.

4. Chelsea Smash The Potters– Chelsea went back atop of the Premier League for a brief moment after a victory at Stamford Bridge. The Blues made easy work of a visiting Stoke side, putting three past the Potters.

In his first start in the Premier League, Mohamed Salah scored his second of the year and the opener for the Blues in the 32nd minute of play. Nemanja Matic took the ball to the by-line and cut a low cross that found Salah for the goal.

Chelsea thought they had a second when Branislav Ivanovic headed home in the 40th minute, but it was ruled offsides. The Blues did double their lead in the 61st minute. Salah was taken down by Andy WilkinsonFrank Lampard stepped up to take it and had his effort saved by Asmir Begovic, but Lampard was able to turn in the rebound.

Willian completed the scoring for Chelsea in the 72nd. The Brazilian hit a shot towards the far post that curled in past a diving Begovic.

5. Red Devils Torture Newcastle At St. James’ Park– Manchester United may not have much to play for regarding the Premier League display, but they put Newcastle to the sword behind Juan Mata‘s two goal performance.

Mata’s first came in the 39th minute with a superb free-kick for his second goal in a Red Devils’ shirt. He then doubled the lead five minutes after the halftime break. Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez cut the ball back into Mata’s path, who did ever so well to avoid Fabricio Collocini‘s attempted tackle and then slot the ball into the net.

Chicaritito then pushed the lead to three 14 minutes later. Shinji Kagawa picked out the Mexican striker whose sliding touch beat Newcastle keeper Robert Elliot.

Adnan Januzaj rounded out the scoring in second half stoppage time finishing off a clever back-heel pass from Mata.

6. Norwich Loss Costs Hughton His Job– Norwich and West Brom met fighting for their Premier League lives and the Baggies were able to secure a crucial 1-0 win.

Morgan Amalfitano‘s low shot beat keeper John Ruddy in the 16th minute. It was the lone goal in the game and a costly one at that for the Canaries.

West Brom edge closer to safety now in 16th place and five points from danger. Norwich also five points from danger sit just a place above the relegation zone.

The Canaries also announced a day after the loss that Chris Hughton will no longer manage the team as Under-18 coach Neil Adams takes over with five games remaining.

7. Fulham Out Of Premier League Cellar– Fulham have been looking unlikely for Premier League survival, but now have a shot at staying atop. The Cottagers climbed their way out of the Barclays Premier League cellar and close the gap to survival to five points with a massive 2-1 victory for the club.

Fulham took the lead just after the hour mark through Kieran Richardson. He struck a shot from the top of the 18-yard box beating Brad Guzan to push Fulham ahead.

However, Aston Villa found an equalizer in the 70th minute. Marc Albrighton‘s corner found an unmarked Grant Holt, who headed home. Lewis Holtby almost restored a lead to Fulham, but an excellent goal line clearance from Matthew Lowton.

Although the game looked like it might end in a draw, Fulham found a late winner. Hugo Rodallega‘s flicked header from a Holtby cross found the back of the net.

It was the first win on the road from Fulham since Boxing Day and their first victory at Villa since 1973. It is also a win that gives Fulham just enough hope that Premier League survival can be obtained.

8. Hull All, But Safe In Victory– Hull and Swansea have both been flirting with relegation this season, but a 1-0 win for Hull should just about wrap up their Premier League status for one more season.

George Boyd had the lone goal in the match notching in the 39th minute. Liam Rosenior sent in a cross from the right and Boyd rose above Angel Rangel to head the ball across keeper Michel Vorm and into the back of the net.

Hull now sit in 12th place in the table on 36 points, while Swansea are 15th on 33 points, just a six point cushion above the relegation zone.

9. Monday Match-up– Sunderland and Tottenham are set to end round 33 of matches on Monday. Stay tuned for the game’s recap after the match.

Here is your current Premier League table: