EPL Weekend Review: West Ham, Palace grab vital wins as Swansea carry bragging rights
Yet another weekend and Premier League football was in full action as all 20 teams played out the 25th match week. It was vintage Premier League stuff as some shock results aided with normal service being resumed were the order of the day. The biggest game of the rest was the fiery South Wales derby between Swansea and Cardiff, while Crystal Palace and West Brom faced off in a relegation six-pointer. It wasn’t all good news for all the sides, but there were quite a few happy faces at the end of the day.
ASTON VILLA 0-2 WEST HAM
Astonishing as it might sound, but Aston Villa have racked up more wins on their travels this season. And it was déjà vu yet again as West Ham came out with a priceless away win to go clear of the relegation dungeons. Sam Allardyce’s side got a fair few sticks after some unimpressive displays, particularly the 9-0 aggregate League Cup loss against Manchester City, but has found their act together with some spirited displays in the past few weeks. Kevin Nolan now has scored two braces in two games as his two goals were the difference in a rather shoddy encounter. Villa haven’t yet found their groove under Paul Lambert, and it remains to be seen how long he remains in the hot-seat. West Ham’s win takes them to 15th place in the table, two clear of 18th placed West Brom. A good run of games toward the end of the season and it could be safety yet again for Big Sam and co.
CRYSTAL PALACE 3-1 WEST BROM
It was to be something like this: new manager, new players and a few good results and onto Premier League survival. But things haven’t taken wings under new coach Pepe Mel at West Brom as they find themselves firmly locked in a relegation battle. Last weekend’s grafty draw against Liverpool gave the fans some hope, but it was all brought down to earth crashing as Crystal Palace continued their impressive surge up the table under Tony Pulis. It could’ve been worse for the Baggies, but respectability was restored as it was only 3-1. New signing Tom Ince was the star of the afternoon as his first goal for the Eagles gave them the lead before his well-taken corner gave another debutant, Joe Ledley, his first Palace goal. Thievy Bifouma mnaged to pull one back after half-time but Marouane Chamakh’s coolly-slotted penalty sealed the points. With this win, Palace steer three points clear of the relegation zone while West Brom remain in 18th place.
SOUTHAMPTON 2-2 STOKE CITY
Neither teams carried on from their impressive wins from last weekend as Southampton and Stoke played out a fairly entertaining 2-2 draw at St Mary’s. Mauricio Pocchetino’s Saints had a somewhat great start to the season, and had harbored hopes of European qualification. But their season has petered out of late, whereas Stoke came on the back of a stunning 2-1 win against Manchester United last weekend. It was a goal glut in the first half as Ricky Lambert opened the scoring as early as the fourth minute. New signing Peter Odemwingie equalized before Steven Davies restored the home side’s lead. And on the stroke of half-time, the familiar figure of Peter Crouch equalized and it remained that way until the final whistle.
SUNDERLAND 0-2 HULL CITY
Sunderland finally got back to old habits as their recent impressive run came to a halt at home against a new-look Hull City. Last weekend’s derby win over Newcastle was shortlived as Gus Poyet’s men looked unusually out of sorts as they succumbed to Hull’s new strikeforce of Shane Long and Nikica Jelavic. Hull had an impressive 25 shots to Sunderland’s seven, and looked by far the best team on the pitch. West Brown got himself sent-off early on which probably started the slump. Probably a bit of post-derby hangover for the Black Cats, but they now must regroup themselves for the run-in. Not too many difficult fixtures for Sunderland, but if they produce such application-less displays in the coming games, relegation is a sure thing. The fans surely hope that it is a one-off thing.
SWANSEA 3-0 CARDIFF
The biggest game of football in Wales; managerless Swansea faced off against Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s Cardiff City at the Liberty Stadium. It was a game of two halves as Gary Monk’s team played out a cagey first half before blooming into colours with a brilliant display of attacking football in the second half. Goals from Wayne Routledge, Nathan Dyer and Wilfried Bony silenced the visiting party and vindicated chairman Huw Jenkins’ decision to part ways with Michael Laudrup. With this win, Swansea move up the table into 10th while Cardiff remained stationed in the bottom reaches of the table. A great occasion for the Swans fans, who couldn’t help but take digs at their local rivals plight.
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