Liverpool 1-1 Tottenham Hotspur

 Posted by at 2:32 AM
Apr 032016
Philippe Coutinho scored his 10th of the season to make him Liverpool’s leading scorer

Tottenham missed the opportunity to increase pressure on Premier League leaders Leicester City as they could only draw with Liverpool at Anfield.

Harry Kane’s superb finish on the turn after 63 minutes gave Spurs a point after Philippe Coutinho slipped in Daniel Sturridge’s pass early in the second half.

Keeper Hugo Lloris kept Spurs on level terms with fine saves from Sturridge and two from Adam Lallana in the opening half – while Coutinho was inches off target in the closing moments.

Mauricio Pochettino’s side had chances of their own in the second half, with Liverpool keeper Simon Mignolet saving well from Christian Eriksen and Mousa Dembele, while Son Heung-min should have done better than volley wide from Eric Dier’s pass.

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Liverpool 1-1 Tottenham: Feels like two points dropped – Mauricio Pochettino

The draw means Leicester would go seven points clear with victory at home to Southampton on Sunday.

One point gained or two lost for Spurs?

Kane’s brilliant turn and finish after Eriksen chased a lost cause into the corner at least gave Spurs a point when they threatened to leave Anfield empty-handed after Coutinho’s opener.

In the final reckoning, however, they will regard this as a chance missed – and manager Pochettino’s body language seemed to suggest as much as he agonised over Mignolet’s late save from Dembele and the sight of Toby Alderweireld’s header flashing inches wide from the resulting corner.

Spurs will now be banking on Southampton doing them a favour at the King Power Stadium on Sunday as a seven-point advantage with only six games left is a big gap to claw back and would need something close to a Foxes collapse.

A point still gives Spurs something to cling to as they chase that first title in 55 years – but they will know it could have been all three had they been more clinical to benefit fully from that outstanding first-half work by keeper Lloris.

Harry Kane’s goal came when he let Christian Eriksen’s pass roll across his body, foxing Dejan Lovren, to find the opposite corner

Liverpool must build team around Coutinho

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp will be taking big decisions about his squad as he tries to make his own permanent imprint on Anfield in the summer.

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Mixed feelings for Klopp after draw

He will surely have already drawn one conclusion from his first six months at the club – the new-look Liverpool that will surely emerge next season must be built around the mercurial talent of Coutinho.

The 23-year-old returned from international duty with Brazil but no-one would have imagined he had taken the arduous journey from South America given his energy and inspiration.

Coutinho was wisely brought to Anfield by Brendan Rodgers and has flourished further under Klopp, as proved by the brilliance of his goal against Manchester United in the Europa League and the composure he showed to finish in front of the Kop against Spurs.

He is the man who sprinkles magic on this Liverpool side and has years ahead of him to develop into a truly world-class talent.

Klopp will be bringing in new faces as he reshapes Liverpool but Coutinho will be going nowhere.

Daniel Sturridge has scored four league goals in an injury-hit season

Sturridge still struggling

Sturridge has the twin objective of piecing his Liverpool career together again after suffering a succession of injuries over the last two years while cementing a place in England manager Roy Hodgson’s Euro 2016 squad.

Here, it was clear he is still taking tentative steps on the road back as he looked ring rusty and still short of the form that made him such a potent force.

Sturridge showed his vision with a clever pass for Coutinho’s goal but his snatched finish straight at Lloris in the first half hinted at fragile confidence. He had run out of steam by the time he was replaced by Divock Origi late on.

Man of the Match: Philippe Coutinho (Liverpool)

Philippe Coutinho’s goal came after a neat one-two with Daniel Sturridge, with Jugen Klopp calling the Brazilian a “genuis player”.

Manager reaction

Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp: “Tottenham are fighting for the title, we fought for the three points. It didn’t look like six or seven positions between the two teams. If you want to change the situation, we have to stay in the game. It is about belief. We are not sure we can always beat teams like these.

“You have to learn to become a winner. On this way, we have a few knocks but we are still on a good way. There is not a lot wrong and we can build on this.”

Stats you need to know

  • Liverpool have won five and lost none of their last seven Premier League meetings with Tottenham.
  • After going seven Premier League games without scoring, Philippe Coutinho has now scored in back-to-back games for Liverpool.
  • Tottenham have won just one of their last 22 Premier League visits to Anfield (W1 D7 L14).
  • Christian Eriksen has now recorded more assists in 2015-16 than in any other previous campaign for Spurs (9).
  • Spurs have recovered the most points from losing positions this season (19), while Liverpool have dropped the most from leading positions (17).

What next?

Liverpool travel to Borussia Dortmund in the Europa League on Thursday (20:05 BST) before hosting Stoke a week on Sunday (16:00 BST). Tottenham face Manchester United at home on the same day (also 16:00 BST).

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Arsenal 4-0 Watford

 Posted by at 1:21 AM
Apr 032016
Alex Iwobi scored his second goal on his second Premier League start

Arsenal kept their faint hopes of the Premier League title alive with an easy victory over a poor Watford side.

The Gunners led inside four minutes – Alexis Sanchez slotting in from close range – and controlled the first half.

Alex Iwobi forced Heurelho Gomes into a stunning save and soon doubled their advantage by sweeping in from 12 yards to finish off a superb team move.

Hector Bellerin’s shot deflected in for Arsenal’s third, while substitute Theo Walcott completed the rout late on.

Relive Arsenal’s comfortable victory over Watford

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Arsenal 4-0 Watford: Gunners’ belief coming back – Arsene Wenger

All too late for Arsenal?

Arsenal had lost three straight home games in all competitions going into the match, but this was a routine win as they closed the gap to leaders Leicester to eight points.

Arsene Wenger’s side still need an unlikely collapse from both the Foxes and second-placed Tottenham to have any hope of securing the league title, while tough trips to West Ham and Manchester City await in their remaining seven games.

Mohamed Elneny’s pass distribution was littered with successful green arrows – 122 in all. Only five attempted passes failed to reach an Arsenal team-mate

Nigerian youngster Iwobi showed his potential with a pacy performance that threatened the Watford defence throughout. He netted the second goal as well as rattling the crossbar with a curling effort.

Iwobi, Sanchez and Mesut Ozil all had fine games – but were given time and space by a lethargic Watford side and by the protection offered in the middle of the park by Mohamed Elneny, who controlled the contest with a match-high 127 passes, 96% of which found a team-mate.

The Egyptian also had time to make three tackles and two interceptions, but Arsenal’s upswing in form might have come too late in the season. The damage may have already been done as they picked up just their fourth win in their past 11 league games.

Watford have problems but should be fine

Watford have now won only twice in 13 league games, which includes five defeats in their last six.

Despite dumping Arsenal out of the FA Cup with a brilliant performance last month, this showing was feeble from the first whistle.

They went behind early and barely threatened over 90 minutes. managing just two shots on target, both of which fell to skipper Troy Deeney.

The Hornets were seventh at Christmas but have since fallen to 14th in the table, 11 points above the relegation zone. They have goalkeeper Gomes to thank for avoiding an even more comprehensive drubbing here, as the Brazilian made superb stops from Iwobi and Sanchez.

With Aston Villa all but down, though, Watford’s excellent first half of the season should be enough to preserve their status in the top flight.

Man of the match – Alex Iwobi

One goal, one shot against the crossbar and forcing Heurelho Gomes into a full-stretch save – 19-year-old Iwobi showed his potential with a classy performance

What they said:

Arsenal forward Alex Iwobi: “It’s crazy, a mad feeling. When you’re young, you dream of this and this is like a dream come true, winning with this team. Winning the title would be amazing but we’re taking each game as it comes, game by game, and we will see where we end up come the end of the season.”

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger: “I am very happy because it was a good performance. We scored goals and didn’t concede, and kept the game having a good flow even at 3-0 up.

“I am pleased with Alex Iwobi’s talent but even more with his attitude and his willingness to learn and to contribute with his teamwork.”

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Arsenal 4-0 Watford: Early goal made it difficult – Quique Flores

Watford boss Quique Sanchez Flores: “It is the first time we have conceded four goals and we are not happy with that. We looked light and soft, and that is not our style. We need to finish the season in the best way possible, because the players have worked very hard all season. I can’t be angry with the team because I am the team, and I cannot be angry with myself.”

What’s next?

Arsenal travel to West Ham next Saturday (kick-off 12:45 BST), while Watford host Everton on the same day (15:00 BST).

The stats you need to know:

  • Alex Iwobi scored in back to back games for Arsenal (two goals) after failing to score in any of his 13 previous appearances in all competitions
  • Alexis Sanchez scored and assisted in the same Premier League game for the first time since April 2015, when he did so against Liverpool
  • Hector Bellerin has been involved in four goals in his past three Premier League games (one goal, three assists)
  • Only Crystal Palace (three) have gained fewer points than the Hornets in 2016 (eight)

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Aston Villa 0-4 Chelsea

 Posted by at 10:04 PM
Apr 022016
Alexandre Pato scored on his debut – 64 days after signing for Chelsea

Alexandre Pato scored on his Chelsea debut as Aston Villa continued their slide towards relegation.

The home fans chanted against their players and owner Randy Lerner as the Blues took control in the second half.

Ruben Loftus-Cheek’s deflected shot and Pato’s precise penalty had given the visitors a healthy half-time lead.

Pedro scored twice – slotting in Oscar’s pull-back and hammering home a loose ball – before Alan Hutton was sent off to compound Villa’s misery.

No walk in the (Villa) Park

Aston Villa fans turned their ire on their owner and team in the second half

Aston Villa’s Premier League survival may still be possible in theory but, with 12 points separating them from safety and six games left, attention has long since switched to the longer term in the Holte End after seven straight league defeats.

Before kick-off, fans held aloft banners asking “Proud History, What future?” as they contemplate a Championship campaign on the pitch and owner Randy Lerner’s continuing attempts to sell up off it.

Their protests increased in volume towards the end of the match with substitute Leandro Bacuna – who spoke of his plans to leave the club this week