Sunderland 3-0 Everton

 Posted by at 5:26 AM
May 122016
Lamine Kone’s goals were his first for the club

Sunderland sealed their Premier League safety and relegated Norwich and local rivals Newcastle with a comprehensive victory over Everton.

Defender Lamine Kone struck twice from close range after Patrick van Aanholt scored with a 25-yard free-kick that was misjudged by keeper Joel Robles.

Victory capped an impressive revival by Sam Allardyce’s side, who have lost only two of their past 13 games.

Everton were dire, heaping more pressure on boss Roberto Martinez.

The Toffees have picked up only six points from their past 10 league matches and the Spaniard is likely to face an uncomfortable final game of the season in front of disgruntled crowd at Goodison Park.

In contrast, Allardyce will be able to take his side to Watford on Sunday unburdened by the relegation fears that have surrounded the club since his appointment in October.

Their victory leaves them four points ahead of both Newcastle and Norwich with just one game to play.

Big Sam the saviour

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Sunderland 3-0 Everton: It turned out rosy in the end – Sam Allardyce

Sunderland’s survival was built on several key decisions this season, none more significant than the appointment of Allardyce after Dick Advocaat resigned following eight games without a win to start the campaign.

Hardened to the fight from his experiences at Bolton and Blackburn and with time on his side, the 61-year-old has steadily built a disciplined and spirited side, sprinkled with match-winners.

It has not always been smooth sailing – notably during a five-game losing streak at the end of last year – but since February they have been more consistent and possessing of far greater fight than their main relegation rivals.

They exemplified this once again on Wednesday with another display full of endeavour in front of a vociferous home crowd, who chanted their manager’s name throughout a lap of honour after the game.

Kone excels from back to front

Van Aanholt’s goal was his fourth goal of the season

Sunderland can also credit their survival in part to the signings Allardyce made in January.

Kone, Jan Kirchhoff, Wahbi Khazri and, to a lesser extent, Dame N’Doye have integrated superbly with the talent already at the club to help transform a struggling side into an effective and, at times, exciting one.

It was Kone who shone on Wednesday, forming one part of a solid centre-back pairing with Younes Kaboul at one end of the pitch and the most unlikely of predators at the other.

The 27-year-old was without a goal in 13 Premier League appearances for the Black Cats heading into this match but showed the instincts of a seasoned goalscorer when he lashed home a volley from close range after Everton failed to clear a corner.

His second goal was a much simpler finish, from near point-blank range after Robles palmed Khazri’s near-post corner on to the back of team-mate James McCarthy.

It was a costly second error from the keeper, who had inexplicably moved to his left to allow Van Aanholt’s free-kick to go into the centre of the net, but the goal was no less than the home side deserved for their dominant display.

Everton surrender again

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Sunderland 3-0 Everton: We want that winning feeling – Roberto Martinez

Twice in the space of four days, the travelling Everton fans – and those watching on television – have had to endure their side tamely surrendering a match to a hungrier opponent.

The Toffees may not have anything to play for, but their displays at Leicester on Sunday and Sunderland on Wednesday will do little to appease the growing opposition to Martinez’s managerial reign.

There was an abundance of talent in the starting XI at the Stadium of Light but none of the players performed anywhere near their potential.

Despite dominating possession for large parts of the match – particularly in the first half – it was only in the last 10 minutes that Everton truly threatened as Kevin Mirallas twice went close and Romelu Lukaku thundered a shot from close range against the bar.

Having witnessed wild celebrations from opposition fans at the end of their past two games, it will be interesting to see what reception Everton supporters give Martinez and his players after Sunday’s season finale at Goodison Park.

Man of the match – Lamine Kone (Sunderland)

Solid at the back and lethal in attack, Kone scored from both his shots on target and made three tackles and 11 clearances

The stats you need to know

  • Sunderland have extended their Premier League stay to 10 consecutive seasons, last playing outside the top flight in 2006-07
  • Sunderland were in the relegation zone for 237 days this season but have survived; Aston Villa will have been in the relegation zone 233 days by the end of the season
  • The Black Cats have scored four goals directly from free-kicks in the Premier League this season, joint highest with Chelsea and West Ham
  • This was the first time that two Sunderland defenders have scored in the same game since December 2013 (John O’Shea and Phil Bardsley v Chelsea).
  • Everton have conceded three goals in back-to-back Premier League games for the first time since November 2009
  • Sunderland have named the same starting XI for the last seven games, something they had never done before in the Premier League
  • Everton’s Gareth Barry has now made more starts (572) than any other Premier League player, surpassing goalkeeper David James

What next?

On the final day of the season on Sunday, Sunderland travel to Watford, while Everton host Norwich.

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Norwich City 4-2 Watford

 Posted by at 4:39 AM
May 122016
Dieumerci Mbokani took his tally to seven goals for the season

Norwich were relegated to the Championship despite a thumping victory over Watford at Carrow Road.

Sunderland’s 3-0 win over Everton consigned the Canaries to the second tier, as they are now four points from safety with just one game remaining.

Troy Deeney had given Watford the lead, but Norwich responded through Nathan Redmond’s strike, Dieumerci Mbokani’s tap-in and a Craig Cathcart own goal.

Odion Ighalo pulled a goal back, but Mbokani dinked in Norwich’s fourth.

Relive the exciting action from Carrow Road

BBC Radio 5 live In Short: I feel I’ve let Norwich fans down – Neil

Too little too late for Norwich

Despite being relegated, Norwich were applauded off the pitch by their fans at full-time

Although Alex Neil’s side came from behind to score four – and hitting the post twice – against Watford, the damage had been done before the match.

The Canaries went into the game on the back of a four-game winless run in which they had not scored, and their top-flight destiny was out of their own hands.

It had looked good for Norwich on 2 April when they beat Newcastle – who also go down – but their poor recent form saw them drop into the relegation zone.

Before this game, they had scored just 35 goals in 36 games, conceding 62, with deficiencies in defence their downfall – demonstrated again by John Ruddy’s fumble which allowed Deeney to net the opener.

At the full-time whistle, the Norwich players were given a round of applause by the home supporters, with one hugging boss Neil as he left the pitch.

Woeful Watford

Despite avoiding relegation and reaching the FA Cup semi-final, there have been doubts about the future of Watford boss Quique Sanchez Flores.

Having performed brightly until February, their form has tailed off – with two wins from their past 11 league games.

Watford conceded four sloppy goals against Norwich but defender Miguel Britos was particularly poor. He lost possession of the ball 20 times – more than any away player and his 55% passing accuracy was the least of any outfield player

The slump coincided with Ighalo’s loss of form, although the Nigerian finally ended a run of 12 league games without a goal when he slotted in Deeney’s cutback in the second half.

Despite going in front, the Hornets were awful on the whole at Carrow Road. Midfielder Mario Suarez struggled badly, while keeper Heurelho Gomes was beaten at the near post for Norwich’s opener.

The third goal was a calamity of errors as Allan Nyom slipped while trying to incept the ball, as Cathcart followed up Wes Hoolahan’s cross by poking into his own net.

Man of the match – Nathan Redmond

One goal, one assist and twice hitting the post. Redmond terrorised the Watford defence all game

What they said:

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Norwich 4-2 Watford: I’ve let the club and fans down – Alex Neil

Norwich boss Alex Neil: “It is severe disappointment. The story for us is that, as a club, we have dropped short for a variety of reasons. We have made vital errors in games at crucial times and the recruitment has not been as good to strengthen the squad.

“I am here to do a job, the club will be bigger than me and I am not fearing for my job.”

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Norwich 4-2 Watford: Quique Sanchez Flores to reflect on future

Watford boss Quique Sanchez Flores: “If we didn’t worked really hard in the season then we may have been in Norwich’s position. The level between Norwich and Watford is not too much. We recognise we have a good season.

“We will resolve my situation very quickly. We have enjoyed the season and the teams at the bottom have fought very hard recently. We didn’t have that pressure.”

What next?

Norwich have just pride to play for on Sunday at Everton, while Watford will look to end the season on a high at home to Sunderland (both at 15:00 BST).

The stats you need to know:

  • Norwich have been relegated from the Premier League for the fourth time – only Crystal Palace have been relegated as many times
  • Dieumerci Mbokani is Norwich’s top scorer this season with seven goals, with Nathan Redmond one behind on six
  • Troy Deeney has provided an assist for Odion Ighalo seven times this season, a league high along with Dele Alli to Harry Kane for Tottenham

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May 122016
Kevin Keegan won the second tier with Newcastle in 1992-93 to take the club into the Premier League

Former Newcastle manager Kevin Keegan says owner Mike Ashley has “had quite a lot of years of making a lot of mistakes” to leave the club on the brink of Premier League relegation.

Newcastle, who have one game left, against Tottenham on Sunday, could be relegated on Wednesday if Sunderland win their game in hand against Everton.

“You have to say Mike Ashley hasn’t handled the decision-making very well or he’s given the responsibility to people and they haven’t handled it very well,” Keegan, 65, told BBC Sport.

“They are going to have to go down and regroup. That’s not going to be easy.

“You make mistakes in football and you get punished, especially the Premier League now. I think they will go down but they’ll bounce back.”

The Magpies’ only realistic hope of staying up is for Sunderland to pick up a maximum of one point at home to Everton and at Watford on Sunday, while United would need to beat second-placed Spurs at St James’ Park.

Listen to Keegan speaking to BBC World Service’s Steve Crossman

‘Poor players drag down the good ones’

Newcastle have only missed two Premier League seasons – in 1992-93 and 2009-10 they were in the second tier – but face a return to the Championship following a campaign in which they have won just eight league games.

Having spent close to £80m on new signings during the summer and winter transfer windows, Keegan feels the club targeted the wrong signings.

“It is mismanagement from the very top,” he said. “They bought players for the future but sometimes maybe you have to buy players for the present.

“It’s all right having a few good young players from France but can they play in the Premier League now?

“If they can’t – don’t buy them or certainly don’t play them. A few of them have found it very tough and the confidence goes and then even good players start to look pretty poor.”

‘Looking for miracles under Benitez’

Newcastle have won just two of nine league games under Benitez

Former England manager Steve McClaren began the season as boss, but was sacked after winning just six of his 28 Premier League games, leaving the club 19th in the table.

Spaniard Rafael Benitez, the former Liverpool and Real Madrid manager, was put in charge to try to recover the season but two victories in the following nine league games leave the Magpies staring at relegation.

“They started the season with Steve McClaren,” said Keegan. “He struggled and I guess he and the guys at the club kept thinking he would get it sorted out and he didn’t.

“They left it very late and appointed Rafael Benitez and by that time you are looking for almost miracles as you need a lot of points from a few games.

“Benitez might fancy it. It is a big club. Once you go there and manage it, it does impress you as a club. The stadium is impressive, the fans and their passion is something that you can’t help but like and want to be part of.

“He hasn’t managed in the Championship – would that be a worry? I don’t think so for a man of his experience. It might be a really good experience for him.”

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Striker Welbeck out for nine months

 Posted by at 11:38 PM
May 112016
Danny Welbeck has scored five goals in 16 games for Arsenal this season

Arsenal and England striker Danny Welbeck has been ruled out for nine months following knee surgery.

Welbeck, 25, injured his right knee in the Gunners’ 2-2 draw against Manchester City on Sunday and will miss this summer’s Euro 2016 tournament.

His club said tests had revealed “significant cartilage damage” but it is not the same injury which saw him miss seven months of this season.

Welbeck said on social media: