Chelsea Make Champions League Despite Loss To Aston Villa 

Chelsea are also in the running for the Champions League. Photo: Twitter @Chelsea FC


Chelsea have qualified for the Champions League despite losing 2-1 to Aston Villa on the final day of the Premier League season which also saw Leicester City beaten by Tottenham Hotspur in the race for European places. 

Bertrand Traore and Anwar El Ghazi put Villa two goals ahead in the first and second half respectively to condemn the Blues to defeat in the last game of the domestic league season.

Thomas Tuchel’s men, however, got a consolation goal in the 70th minute of the encounter, thanks to a Ben Chilwell effort.

Despite the loss, the 2012 Champions League winners, made it to the top four in England and qualified for next season’s campaign in Europe’s elite competition.

This was only possible after Leicester City blew up the chance of qualifying for the competition following a 4-2 loss to London side, Tottenham.

An own goal from Leicester keeper Kasper Schmeichel was followed by two late Gareth Bale strikes, condemning the Foxes to a 4-2 loss as Chelsea received an unexpected favour from bitter London rivals Tottenham.

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That Harry Kane, linked with a close-season move to Chelsea after declaring his desire to quit Tottenham, was also on the scoresheet at the King Power Stadium was an added layer of irony.

Chelsea captain Cesar Azpilicueta was sent off in the final minute after clashing with Jack Grealish.

Aston Villa’s Dutch striker Anwar El Ghazi (R) celebrates scoring his team’s second goal from the penalty spot during the English Premier League football match between Aston Villa and Chelsea at Villa Park in Birmingham, central England on May 23, 2021. Richard Heathcote / POOL / AFP


But the Blues finished one point above fifth-placed Leicester, illustrating the slender margins at play in a pulsating conclusion to the top four race.

It was a huge escape for Chelsea as they enjoyed a significant measure of revenge for their FA Cup final defeat against the Foxes last weekend.

They can now concentrate on Saturday’s Champions League final against Manchester City without the extra pressure of knowing they have to win in Porto to qualify for next season’s tournament.

But Tuchel has plenty of work to do to get Chelsea in shape for their first Champions League showpiece since 2012 after they were beaten for the third time in their last four games in all competitions.

Adding to Tuchel’s problems, Edouard Mendy may be a doubt for the final after Chelsea’s keeper was unable to play the second half, having collided with the woodwork in a failed attempt to keep out Traore’s goal.

Tuchel relief 
Once again, Timo Werner was unable to provide a spark up front and the Chelsea striker should have done better than head across goal from Azpilicueta’s cut-back in the early stages.

Mason Mount deservedly won Chelsea’s player of the year award after a superb season.

But the England midfielder wasted a golden opportunity to open the scoring when he blazed over from Azpilicueta’s cross.

Chelsea were made to pay for their profligacy when Villa took the lead with a clever corner routine in the 43rd minute.

Chelsea’s German head coach Thomas Tuchel gestures from the sidelines during the English Premier League football match between Aston Villa and Chelsea at Villa Park in Birmingham, central England on May 23, 2021. Richard Heathcote / POOL / AFP


Traore made a perfectly-timed run to meet Matt Targett’s low delivery and, with Chelsea’s defenders looking elsewhere, the unmarked winger hit a scuffed shot that looped into the top corner via the crossbar.

Tuchel had said he would not check to see how Liverpool and Leicester were faring until half-time.

By the time Tuchel returned to the dressing room at the break, Liverpool were winning 1-0, while Leicester were level at 1-1, keeping Chelsea in the top four at that point.

But news quickly filtered through that Jamie Vardy had put Leicester ahead early in the second half, leaving Chelsea in peril.

As if that wasn’t bad enough, Jorginho conceded a 52nd minute penalty when he caught Traore on the foot.

VAR reviewed the incident but there was no reprieve for shell-shocked Chelsea as El Ghazi stroked home the spot-kick.

Chilwell gave Chelsea a glimmer of hope when the left-back met Christian Pulisic’s cross with a close-range finish in the 70th minute.

That set the stage for a remarkable finale as the focus turned to the King Power, where Tottenham’s late goal spree sparked jubilant cheers from the Chelsea bench and a relieved smile from Tuchel.



EPL: Tottenham’s Top-Four Bid Suffer Setback, Saints Beat Burnley

Newcastle United’s Brazilian striker Joelinton fails to reach the ball during the English Premier League football match between Newcastle United and Tottenham Hotspur at St James’ Park in Newcastle-upon-Tyne, north east England on April 4, 2021. STU FORSTER / POOL / AFP


Tottenham’s bid for a top-four finish in the Premier League suffered a setback as Joe Willock’s late strike rescued a 2-2 draw for lowly Newcastle, while Southampton took a huge step towards survival with a 3-2 victory over fellow strugglers Burnley on Sunday.

Jose Mourinho’s side were just five minutes away from moving into fourth place when Willock equalised at St James’ Park.

Joelinton had put Newcastle ahead, but Harry Kane struck twice in four minutes before the break.

Even Kane’s latest heroics weren’t enough for Tottenham though and they now sit in fifth place, two points behind fourth-placed Chelsea with eight games left.

West Ham would climb above both of their London rivals into fourth if they win at Wolves on Monday.

READ ALSO: Iheanacho Signs Contract Extension Deal With Leicester

“I’m frustrated. We needed to win the match. We created some instability with so many individual defensive mistakes that we made,” Mourinho said.

“Of course, we had the biggest chance of the game to make it 3-1 and kill it, then we concede a goal the next minute.”

Tottenham Hotspur’s English striker Harry Kane celebrates scoring his team’s second goal with teammates during the English Premier League football match between Newcastle United and Tottenham Hotspur at St James’ Park in Newcastle-upon-Tyne, north east England on April 4, 2021. PETER POWELL / POOL / AFP



Asked why Tottenham have struggled to hold onto leads when his teams have been so solid defensively in the past, Mourinho replied: “Same coach, different players.

“The Premier League is hard and is high-level football, and when in some actions you don’t show that you belong to that high level of football, it’s difficult.”

Willock’s goal could prove invaluable for fourth-bottom Newcastle as they battle to avoid relegation.

Steve Bruce’s side are without a win in seven games and sit three points above third-bottom Fulham, who would go above them if they win at Aston Villa later on Sunday.

Newcastle’s early pressure was rewarded, with an helping hand from Tottenham’s Japhet Tanganga, in the 28th minute.

Tanganga gifted possession to Matt Ritchie with a wayward pass and the Tottenham defender’s team-mates were slow to react as Sean Longstaff found the unmarked Joelinton, who slotted home from close range.

The much-maligned striker’s first goal since November proved a false dawn as Newcastle were ahead for just 90 seconds before Kane, fresh from ending his England goal drought, punished the hosts’ woeful defending.

Trying to cut out Giovani Lo Celso’s pass, Emil Krafth made a hash of clearing and Kane pounced on the ricochet to tap into the empty net.

Four minutes later, Kane bagged his 29th club goal of the season in ruthless style as he raced onto Tanguy Ndombele’s inch-perfect pass and fired into the far corner.

But Kane was denied a third goal when he hit the post and moments later Newcastle snatched an 85th-minute equaliser.

Joelinton headed Ritchie’s cross back across goal and although Hugo Lloris kept out Miguel Almiron’s header, on-loan Arsenal midfielder Willock slammed home off the underside of the bar.

– Saints alive –
At St Mary’s, Southampton moved 10 points clear of the relegation zone with eight games left after a dramatic fightback.

Chris Wood’s 12th-minute penalty put Burnley ahead after Kyle Walker-Peters’ challenge on Erik Pieters.


Southampton’s English midfielder Theo Walcott (C) vies for the ball against Burnley’s English defender Charlie Taylor (R) during the English Premier League football match between Southampton and Burnley at St Mary’s Stadium in Southampton, southern England on April 4, 2021. ANDREW BOYERS / POOL / AFP


Matej Vydra doubled the visitors’ lead with a fine finish in the 28th minute.

But Ralph Hasenhuttl’s side hit back impressively as Stuart Armstrong and Danny Ings scored before half-time.

In the 31st minute, Scotland midfielder Armstrong fired home after Ings flicked a James Ward-Prowse pass into his path.

And the hosts were level four minutes before the break courtesy of Ings, who was back in action after a month on the sidelines with a leg injury.

Former Burnley striker Ings raced on to Walker-Peters’ pass and produced a clinical finish.

Saints midfielder Nathan Redmond bagged the 66th-minute winner when he volleyed home from Theo Walcott’s cross.

“These points were important,” Hasenhuttl said. “When you see five goals it’s always good for TV, but not so good for the hearts of the managers.”

After only their second league win in 13 games, FA Cup semi-finalists Southampton are three points above Burnley, who sit seven points ahead of Fulham.

Second-placed Manchester United take on Brighton at Old Trafford in Sunday’s last match.


Man City Extend Premier League Lead, Chelsea Stumble In Champions League Chase

Manchester City’s Argentinian striker Sergio Aguero (C) celebrates scoring his team’s third goal during the English Premier League football match between Fulham and Manchester City at Craven Cottage in London on March 13, 2021. Catherine Ivill / POOL / AFP


A much-changed Manchester City stretched their Premier League lead to 17 points with a 3-0 win at Fulham on Saturday, while Chelsea gave the chasing pack in the race for a place in next season’s Champions League hope with a 0-0 draw at Leeds.

Pep Guardiola could afford the luxury of making seven changes ahead of City’s Champions League last 16, second leg against Borussia Monchengladbach in midweek with Kevin De Bruyne among the key players handed a rest.

However, City’s strength in depth shone through once more as the visitors struck three times in the first 15 minutes of the second-half at Craven Cottage.

John Stones opened the floodgates before an emphatic finish from Gabriel Jesus and Sergio Aguero’s first Premier League goal for 14 months from the penalty spot round off the scoring.

“We’ve all played so many games, we know the squad is rotated because of the schedule,” said Stones.

“We all know our roles and responsibilities and everyone who came in today deserves all the credit for the way we played, fought and stayed so patient.”

Manchester United have two games in hand on the runaway league leaders to close the gap, but there seems little doubt City will claim a third league title in four years in the coming weeks after a run of 23 wins in 24 games.

Fulham remain rooted in the bottom three after just a second defeat in eight games.

– Chelsea not clinical –
Fourth-placed Chelsea stretched their unbeaten run since Thomas Tuchel replaced the sacked Frank Lampard to 12 games at Elland Road.

However, the Blues have been far from prolific despite the wealth of attacking talent at Tuchel’s disposal.

Tuchel left strikers Timo Werner and Olivier Giroud on the bench with Kai Havertz keeping his place as a false nine and the German had his side’s best chance with a driven effort than Illan Meslier tipped over.

Leeds United’s Macedonian midfielder Ezgjan Alioski (R) fouls Chelsea’s German striker Timo Werner during the English Premier League football match between Leeds United and Chelsea at Elland Road in Leeds, northern England on March 13, 2021. Lindsey Parnaby / POOL / AFP


Leeds lost top scorer Patrick Bamford to injury in the first-half, but could have claimed victory themselves as Edouard Mendy made brilliant saves to deny Tyler Roberts and Raphinha.

“We created enough chances and enough touches in the box to score one or two goals. Unfortunately, we didn’t, so we have to live with a draw,” said Tuchel.

A point edges Chelsea three points clear of West Ham, who have two games in hand.

Everton are still five points adrift of the top four as Burnley won 2-1 at Goodison Park.

The visitors’ bright start was rewarded with a vital three points in their battle to beat the drop. Chris Wood opened the scoring before Dwight McNeil’s sensational strike doubled the visitors’ lead.

Dominic Calvert-Lewin pulled a goal back for Everton, but Burnley comfortably held out to open up a seven-point gap above the relegation zone.

“It is a big disappointment because we lost a great opportunity to climb the table,” said Everton boss Carlo Ancelotti.

“We made the same mistake as most of the games in Goodison Park, we didn’t start well.”

– ‘Stand tall’ –
Crystal Palace’s Wilfried Zaha became the first Premier League player not to take a knee prior to kick-off of a 1-0 win over West Brom.

The Ivory Coast international stood tall while the rest of his Palace team-mates and their opponents took the knee.

The 28-year-old revealed last month that he would no longer perform the gesture against racial injustice, which has been followed by Premier League players, officials and staff since June.

Crystal Palace’s Ivorian striker Wilfried Zaha (C) stands as players ‘take the knee’ ahead of the English Premier League football match between Crystal Palace and West Bromwich Albion at Selhurst Park in south London on March 13, 2021. Mike Hewitt / POOL / AFP


“As a society, I feel we should be encouraging better education in schools, and social media companies should be taking stronger action against people who abuse others online – not just footballers,” Zaha said in a statement.

“I now just want to focus on football and enjoy being back playing on the pitch. I will continue to stand tall.”

Once the action began, Luka Milivojevic scored the only goal from the penalty spot to plunge the Baggies ever closer to a return to the Championship.


Liverpool Vs Man United: Three Key Battles In Sunday’s EPL Showdown

A photo combination of Mo Salah and Bruno Fernandes.


When Liverpool and Manchester United clash at Anfield on Sunday, there will be more at stake than just the usual bragging rights.

The bitter rivals are engaged in a battle for the Premier League title, with leaders United sitting three points clear of second-placed Liverpool.

AFP Sport takes a closer look at three duels that will define the vital showdown:

Jordan Henderson v Bruno Fernandes

Bruno Fernandes has played a major role in transforming Manchester United from also-rans to title contenders.

Widely credited with reviving United with his fierce will to win and positive attitude, as well as his classy performances, the Portugal playmaker’s next mission is to stamp his authority on the biggest game of his time with Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side.

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Fernandes, signed from Sporting Lisbon last January, will head to Anfield as the first star to win the Premier League Player of the Month award four times in a calendar year after earning the prize for December.

Overall, he has 15 goals and nine assists in all competitions this term, making it 27 goals and 17 assists in 48 United appearances.

No wonder Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp is a huge admirer and will task Reds captain Jordan Henderson with subduing the midfielder on Sunday.

“He’s an outstanding player. Before he joined United, we played against Sporting in the USA on the tour and in that game already you could see, ‘Wow!’,” Klopp said.

“He is settled, he is a very influential player for United obviously, involved in a lot of things. So, yeah, a good signing, unfortunately, for United.”

Mohamed Salah v Eric Bailly

With 17 goals in all competitions this season, Mohamed Salah will pose the biggest threat to United, but the Egypt forward can expect a stern challenge from the revitalised Eric Bailly.

Bailly has struggled for form and fitness throughout his United career, but the Ivory Coast centre-back has been key to their winning streak.

In six games with Bailly in the team, United have won five and drawn once, conceding just three goals.

Harry Maguire looks more comfortable alongside Bailly, whose out-going personality kept his team-mates relaxed during their difficult periods earlier this season.

United manager Solskjaer could also revert to the three-man central defence he has deployed against Liverpool in the past.

Salah, Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino are a formidable test for United’s rearguard, although they have gone through a barren patch of late, with Liverpool netting only once in their last three league games.

Fabinho v Marcus Rashford

Ravaged by injuries to his top centre-backs, Klopp will be forced to deploy Brazil midfielder Fabinho as a makeshift defender once again.

Virgil van Dijk and Joe Gomez are long-term absentees, while Joel Matip has spent the last week battling to return from the adductor injury the last three games.

Matip has returned to training but if he is not deemed ready then Klopp will have to choose between youngsters Rhys Williams and Nat Phillips to partner Fabinho.

That puts the onus on Fabinho to maintain his solid form at the position, but it won’t be easy against a lively United attack led by Marcus Rashford.

Rashford and Anthony Martial have the pace and poise to hurt Liverpool, while Edinson Cavani’s experience and physical presence make him an intriguing option.

“We know that we can beat anyone, anywhere on any given day, so to go into a game like this feeling that if we play to our best we can win is a good feeling,” Solskjaer said.

“It’s a test and reality check of where we’re really at because we’ve won many, many tight games, scored a few goals in injury time, showed that mentality.”


Ademola Lookman Scores As Fulham Shock Leicester, Climb Out Of Relegation Zone

Fulham’s English striker Ademola Lookman (L) celebrates with teammates after scoring the opening goal of the English Premier League football match between Leicester City and Fulham at King Power Stadium in Leicester, central England on November 30, 2020. Michael Regan / POOL / AFP


Fulham climbed out of the Premier League relegation zone after finally solving their penalty woes in a shock 2-1 win at Leicester on Monday.

Scott Parker’s side won for just the second time in the league this season thanks to Ademola Lookman’s opener and Ivan Cavaleiro’s penalty.

Fulham had missed three of their four previous penalties this term, but Cavaleiro held his nerve to convert from the spot for the crucial second goal.

It was an emotional success for the Cottagers, with Lookman celebrating his goal by displaying one of Papa Bouba Diop’s Senegal shirts after Fulham’s former midfielder died aged 42 at the weekend.

Harvey Barnes scored for Leicester in the closing minutes, but Fulham held on and move one point above the bottom three.


Fulham’s Cameroonian midfielder Andre-Frank Zambo Anguissa (R) vies with Leicester City’s Northern Irish defender Jonny Evans (C) during the English Premier League football match between Leicester City and Fulham at King Power Stadium in Leicester, central England on November 30, 2020. Rui Vieira / POOL / AFP


It was only Fulham’s second away win in the past 26 Premier League matches and their first since a victory at Bournemouth in April 2019.

Leicester would have gone second with a win, but instead, they remain fourth — three points behind leaders Tottenham — after a second successive league defeat.

Leicester dominated possession in the first half and hit the woodwork twice in a matter of seconds after James Maddison’s free-kick rebounded off the Fulham wall.

The loose ball reached Youri Tielemans, whose volley from outside the area smacked the post and ran for Wesley Fofana to smash his shot off the crossbar.

Jamie Vardy went close to rewarding Leicester’s dominance with an agile flicked effort from Dennis Praet’s cross, but Alphonse Areola made the save at his near post.

READ ALSO: Cavani Apologises For Misunderstood Social Media Post

Antonee Robinson wasted a good chance to put Fulham ahead against the run of play when he shot straight at Kasper Schmeichel.

It was a warning Leicester failed to heed as Lookman struck for the Cottagers in the 30th minute.

Andre-Frank Zambo Anguissa carried the ball from inside his own half, advancing unchecked before playing a defence-splitting pass to on-loan Leipzig winger Lookman, who guided a cool finish past Schmeichel.

Parker’s team doubled their lead in the 38th minute with a rare penalty success.

Christian Fuchs fouled Bobby Decordova-Reid and the spot-kick was awarded by referee Simon Hooper after he checked the pitchside monitor.

After Fulham missed three penalties earlier this season, Cavaleiro opted for power as he blasted past Schmeichel into the top corner.

Chances were at a premium as Fulham dug in to preserve their lead after the break.

Barnes set up a tense finish with a fierce strike from Vardy’s knockdown in the 86th minute.

James Justin shot just wide in stoppage time, but it was too late to save Leicester.


Premier League New Boys Leeds Edge Fulham In Seven-Goal Thriller

Leeds vs fulham
Leeds United and Fulham gained promotion to the Premier League this season. Photo: Twitter Leeds.


Fulham recorded their second consecutive defeat since the start of the new Premier League season as they were edged 4-3 by fellow newcomers, Leeds United on Saturday. 

After losing 4-3 at champions Liverpool on the opening weekend, Helda Costa fired Marcelo Bielsa’s free-scoring side ahead in the fifth minute.Fulham striker Aleksandar Mitrovic equalised from the penalty spot in the 35th minute after a foul on Joe Bryan.Bryan was penalised himself for his shove on Patrick Bamford and Mateusz Klich restored Leeds’ advantage with a 40th-minute spot-kick.

Leeds United’s Portuguese midfielder Helder Costa (R) celebrates with teammates after scoring their fourth goal during the English Premier League football match between Leeds United and Fulham at Elland Road in Leeds, northern England on September 19, 2020. / AFP / POOL / Oli SCARFF


In the 51st minute, Patrick Bamford steered a right-footed finish into the bottom corner.

Leeds struck again six minutes later with a superb strike from Costa.

Fulham pulled one back in the 62nd minute through Bobby Decordova-Reid and Mitrovic’s towering header four minutes later set up a tense finale, but the promoted Cottagers fell to a second successive defeat.

Leeds’ opening games have seen 14 goals, which is the most for a top-flight side’s first two matches since Wolves in 1962-63.

Seven-Goal Thriller 

At Goodison Park, Dominic Calvert-Lewin hit a hat-trick in Everton’s 5-2 win over 10-man West Bromwich Albion.

Everton’s English striker Dominic Calvert-Lewin scores their fifth goal during the English Premier League football match between Everton and West Bromwich Albion at Goodison Park in Liverpool, north west England on September 19, 2020. / AFP / POOL / Michael Regan.


Carlo Ancelotti’s side fell behind to Grady Diangana’s early goal.

But Calvert-Lewin equalised and James Rodriguez put Everton ahead with his first Premier League goal before Albion imploded.

Kieran Gibbs was dismissed for pushing James in the face in first-half stoppage-time, a rash reaction that prompted him to issue a post-match apology taking “full responsibility” for his mistake.

Then Albion boss Slaven Bilic was sent to the stands after storming onto the pitch for a furious rant at referee Mike Dean.

Matheus Pereira equalised for Albion after the interval, but Michael Keane restored Everton’s lead and Calvert-Lewin sealed the points with his second and third goals.

After a summer spending spree, Ancelotti is under pressure to deliver a big improvement on last season’s 12th place finish and the early signs are promising.

Having beaten Tottenham in their opening game last weekend, Everton have started a Premier League season with consecutive victories for the first time since 2012-13.

“Of course today Dominic was the top scorer but also Richarlison did really well, the combination in front was good,” Ancelotti said.

“They are supported by James, who is doing really well. I’m satisfied in front, we have to do better at the back.”


Iwobi Features, Calvert-Lewin Nets Hat-Trick As Everton Wallop West Brom

Dominic Calvert-Lewin scored the lone goal against Tottenham to inflict the first opening day managerial defeat on Jose Mourinho. Photo: [email protected]


Super Eagles star Alex Iwobi came on as a substitute Saturday in Everton’s 5-2 win over West Brom, a game that saw Dominic Calvert-Lewin bagging a hat trick for the Toffees.

Carlo Ancelotti’s side fell behind to Grady Diangana’s early goal at Goodison Park. But Calvert-Lewin equalised and James put them ahead before West Brom imploded. Kieran Gibbs was dismissed for pushing James in the face in first-half stoppage-time.

Then Albion boss Slaven Bilic was sent to the stands after storming onto the pitch for a furious rant at referee Mike Dean.

Matheus Pereira equalised for Albion after the interval, but Michael Keane restored Everton’s lead and Calvert-Lewin sealed the points with his second and third goals.

At 23, Calvert-Lewin is the youngest Englishman to score a Premier League hat-trick for Everton.

Everton’s English striker Dominic Calvert-Lewin scores their fifth goal during the English Premier League football match between Everton and West Bromwich Albion at Goodison Park in Liverpool, north-west England on September 19, 2020. / AFP / POOL / Michael Regan



After a summer spending spree, Ancelotti is under pressure to deliver a big improvement on last season’s 12th place finish and the early signs are promising.

Having beaten Tottenham in their opening game last weekend, Everton have started a Premier League season with consecutive victories for the first time since 2012-13.

Calvert-Lewin already has four goals and Colombia midfielder James, making his first home appearance since his £12 million from Real Madrid, looks a quality addition.

If West Brom are to avoid an immediate return to the Championship, they will have to improve their defence rapidly after shipping eight goals in successive defeats.

Diangana put West Brom ahead in the 10th minute when he advanced from inside his own half before drilling a long-range drive past Jordan Pickford.

Calvert-Lewin equalised in the 31st minute with a back-heel from virtually on the goalline after Albion defender Darnell Furlong inadvertently headed Seamus Coleman’s cross into his path.

The goal was initially disallowed for offside before a VAR review changed the decision in Everton’s favour.

James put Everton in front in the 45th minute when he took Richarlison’s pass and lashed a fine low finish into the far corner from 20 yards.

Gibbs added to West Brom’s woes when he was sent off for lashing out at James in retaliation for a challenge by the Colombian.

West Bromwich Albion’s English defender Kieran Gibbs (2R) is handed a red card during the English Premier League football match between Everton and West Bromwich Albion at Goodison Park in Liverpool, north-west England on September 19, 2020. / AFP / POOL / Alex Livesey /


Bilic lost his cool as well moments later, angrily telling Dean that his decisions could “kill” his team.Now watching from the stands after his dismissal, Bilic saw Pereira equalise with a superb free-kick in the 47th minute.But Keane poked Everton back in front after Richarlison’s header was pushed out by Sam Johnstone in the 54th minute.Calvert-Lewin struck again in the 62nd minute, the striker sliding in to meet Richarlison’s cross with a close-range finish.

And Calvert-Lewin’s red-hot start to the season continued four minutes later when he completed his hat-trick as the ball bounced off his back into the net.


Arsenal Beat Southampton To End Losing Streak As Burnley Sink Watford

Arsenal’s English midfielder Joe Willock (C) is mobbed by teammates after scoring the second goal during the English Premier League football match between Southampton and Arsenal at St Mary’s Stadium in Southampton, southern England on June 25, 2020. Andrew Matthews / POOL / AFP


Arsenal kept alive their hopes of qualifying for Europe as Eddie Nketiah punished a howler from Southampton goalkeeper Alex McCarthy to inspire a much-needed 2-0 win on Thursday.

Mikel Arteta’s side were handed the opener in the first half at St Mary’s when Nketiah picked off McCarthy’s pass and fired home.

Joe Willock doubled Arsenal’s lead late in the second half, moments after Southampton’s Jack Stephens was sent off for bringing down Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.

Arsenal had suffered two successive defeats following the Premier League restart after the coronavirus hiatus.

That wretched run effectively ended their bid to reach the Champions League and sparked criticism of Arteta’s decision to give new contracts to David Luiz and Cedric Soares despite their problems with poor form and injuries respectively.

Against the dispiriting backdrop, Arsenal’s success at St Mary’s, which lifted them into ninth place and kept them in the hunt for a Europa League berth, was a welcome tonic for Arteta.

Arsenal had kicked off with 40 points, which ranked as their joint lowest tally after 30 games of a Premier League campaign.

Matteo Guendouzi was dropped just days after reports that Arteta has grown frustrated with the French midfielder’s behaviour, while Alexandre Lacazette and Mesut Ozil were left on the bench.

Guendouzi reportedly taunted Brighton players about how much he earns during Saturday’s match and clashed with Seagulls striker Neal Maupay after the final whistle, with his absence at St Mary’s put down to “squad management” by Arteta.

– Pressure rewarded –

Despite all the turbulence around Arsenal at present, they started brightly in scorching hot temperatures on the south-coast.

Aubameyang should have put Arsenal ahead early on but, after racing into the penalty area, the Gabon forward’s close-range shot cannoned off the bar and bounced clear.

The Gunners were making all the running and their pressure was rewarded in the 20th minute thanks to the gift from McCarthy.

Chasing down Jan Bednarek’s ball to McCarthy, Nketiah forced a woefully misdirected pass from the Saints keeper, pounced on the loose ball and slotted into the empty net.

It was the 21-year-old’s second Premier League goal of the season and his fourth in all competitions for the Gunners after a loan spell at Leeds.

Arsenal had blown the lead at Brighton and have a poor away record this season, so alarm bells were ringing when Southampton striker Danny Ings was left unmarked to volley over.

Southampton were pushing hard and Ryan Bertrand fired into the side-netting from a tight angle before Shane Long forced a good stop from Emiliano Martinez.

But Stephens saw red for his foul on Aubameyang on the edge of the area and Willock slotted home from close-range to seal the points in the 87th minute.

In Thursday’s other early kick-off, Burnley beat struggling Watford 1-0 thanks to Jay Rodriguez’s goal.

Sean Dyche’s team took the lead in the 73rd minute when Rodriguez got across his man at the near post and stooped to head in Dwight McNeil’s cross.

Burnley, rocked by speculation Dyche might quit at the end of the season, remain in mid-table, while Watford are just one point above the relegation zone.

Arsenal-Leicester: Wenger Says Both Teams Under Pressure

wengerArsène Wenger says his side cannot wait for Sunday’s top-of-the-table fixture against Leicester City because it is the kind of game they relish.

Arsenal have taken 10 points from four matches against the other sides in the top five so far this season, and won 5-2 at King Power Stadium back in September.

The Foxes have lost only one Premier League match since and go into Sunday’s match five points clear at the top, but Wenger believes his side will rise to the challenge.

“What is important is to find the momentum back and that means that you win a few games,” the boss said. “After, let’s not count too much on the weakness of Leicester because they have not shown too many.

“We want to find a consistency in our results until the end of the season, because we have big game after big game now.

“What I believe is that you do not have to be a super mathematician to analyse that it is a very important game, maybe not a decisive one for the Premier League but it is not far away from that.

“The pressure is on us as well, of course. I don’t deny that but I take that in a very positive way and as an opportunity to show how strong we are.

“I think the biggest pressure in our job is to play games without pressure. This is the kind of game we want – the kind of game we relish. When you play at Arsenal Football Club, that’s what you want.

“(Leicester) are still in a position where they think they have nothing to lose. But once you are top of the league, you can also think about losing what you have.

“That is where the nerves come in a little bit. I do not know how they will respond to that.”

EPL Results: Leicester City Beat Manchester City 3-1

leicesterEnglish Premier League leaders Leicester City’s title challenge have reached unprecedented heights as they went six points clear at the top after beating Manchester City 3-1.

It was Manchester City’s first defeat in seven Premier League games as frailties in their back-line were once again miserably exposed this time by the scintillating Foxes attack.

Robert Huth turned in Riyad Mahrez’s corner to give the Foxes an early lead.

Mahrez made it 2-0 with a step-over and finish, and Huth found space to head home a Christian Fuchs corner before Sergio Aguero’s late consolation.

Riyad Mahrez ended a personal goal drought and was the first player this season to achieve a significant goals mark.

It was also the second time in his Barclays Premier League career that Huth has scored more than once in a match, last scoring a brace in February 2011 for Stoke against Sunderland.

Sergio Aguero’s late consolation for Man City was his first Barclays Premier League goal against Leicester and as a result the striker has scored against 26 of the 28 different opponents he has faced in the competition (Bolton and Burnley are the exceptions).

The defeat was Man City’s third at home this season as they continued their run of failing to beat any opponent in the top six in 2015/16.

Other Results

Aston Villa     2 – 0  Norwich City

Liverpool       2 – 2   Sunderland

Newcastle       1 – 0  West Bromwich Albion

Stoke City      0 – 3   Everton

Swansea City    1 – 1   Crystal Palace

Tottenham       1 – 0   Watford

Southampton 1 – 0   West Ham