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Premier League set for thrilling climax at both ends of the table following the latest round of matches that saw Spurs close the gap to Leicester at the top while wins for both Sunderland and Newcastle keep their fans’ dreams of EPL survival alive.
SPURS LIONS READY TO POUNCE
Spurs hit four past a hapless Stoke side at White Hart Line last night to keep the pressure on Premier League leaders Leicester and online football tipsters guessing as to who exactly will take the crown.
Harry Kane bagged a brace to take his season’s tally to 24 and the England international summed up the display afterwards saying: “We could have scored six or seven.”
Kane posted a photo on Instagram after Leicester’s 2-2 draw on Sunday and explained after the Stoke game: “It was a few lions ready to pounce,” he said. “Obviously after watching the Leicester game they dropped a couple of points. I was itching to play and I had to wait another day and a half to get out on the pitch. I wanted to get out there. It was a bit of fun. I just want to play.”
Boss Mauricio Pochettino was delighted with his players and full of praise for their “character, hunger and passion” whilst underlining the importance of belief as Spurs continue to hunt down the Foxes and try to claim their first title since 1951.
“The most important thing is the performance we showed today was perfect,” said the Spurs manager. “It is a big signal we are there waiting and fighting.”
The result closed the gap between Spurs and Leicester to five points with four games remaining.
LEICESTER FACE BATTLE
Leicester salvaged a draw against West Ham with a last gasp penalty kick that ended an unbelievable encounter which is bound to have ramifications for their title bid following striker Jamie Vardy’s sending off.
Vardy picked up two very controversial yellow cards and will miss at least game for the Foxes who are anxiously waiting to see if their hit-man will be ruled out for other matches after the referee reported his verbal outburst after the second yellow.
A Football Association disciplinary panel will decide on the length of Vardy’s ban but he will definitely be out of their next game against Swansea forcing boss Claudio Ranieri to change the tactics that has served his side so well so far this season. The best football tipsters will be paying close attention.
RAFA GIVES MAGPIES HOPE
Rafa Benitez has breathed new hope and belief into the Newcastle team according to midfielder Moussa Sissoko who was full of praise for the Spaniard following the Magpies’ 3-0 win over Swansea.
“The belief is returning,” said Sissoko, whose side are still second from bottom in the table but have a chance to make a real statement of intent in tonight’s game against Manchester City. “We can stay up. If we beat City we’ll be level on points with Norwich. It won’t be easy, especially against City, but we have to give everything. We need to believe because we’re good enough to do it.”
IT’S MATCHDAY! We’re back in @premierleague action tonight as @MCFC visit St. James’ Park (k.o 7:45pm BST). #NUFC pic.twitter.com/o1S3qSNv3n
— Newcastle United FC (@NUFC) April 19, 2016
If the Magpies can do it – and find out here what the top soccer tipsters think – it will be one of the Premier League’s All-Time Great Escapes but Sunderland and Norwich will be fighting hard to make sure Newcastle go down.
SUNDERLAND FIGHT FOR 3 POINTS
Sunderland out fought Norwich to win all three points with three unanswered goals at Carrow Road to keep the battle at the bottom of the EPL alive.
Manager Sam Allardyce described the win as “massive”, saying: “The position we’ve left ourselves in was making me feel a bit edgy this morning. Will we handle the pressure? Will we cope with the pressure?
“They’ve answered my questions. They’ve coped with the pressure and coped with everything Norwich could throw at them. To come here and win 3-0 shows you what a massive result it is.”
Big Sam’s counterpart Alex Neil said: “The two teams are still chasing us, we’re still a point ahead. We need to win games and that’s always been the case.”
MAN CITY STILL IN WITH OUTSIDE CHANCE
Manchester City kept alive their slender hopes for another title with a crushing 3-0 win at Stamford Bridge over Chelsea on Saturday but their best chances of further silverware this season remain in the Champions League given the gap between them and Leicester with five games to play.
Sergio Aguero hit all three at the Bridge to take his Premier League tally to 99 in five seasons at the Etihad and manager Manuel Pelligrini hailed the Argentine as “the best striker” in the EPL after demolishing the Blues.
“Sergio makes the difference when he’s playing every game, every week. I am sure he is the best striker in this league,” said the City boss.
ARSENAL BOO BOYS OUT FOR WENGER
Arsenal took only a point from their clash against Crystal Palace with the 1-1 draw and lacklustre display receiving boos from their fans at the Emirates on the final whistle.
Arsene Wenger’s men now face a fight for a top four finish as their season seems threatened to end with a whimper. The minority of fans calling for Wenger to quit has now become a majority and the Gunners’ abject display against Palace, combined with the emergence of bitter rivals’ Spurs as real contenders for the top spot, has led to the increasing popularity of the Wenger Out hashtag on Twitter as Arsenal slipped to fourth in the table.
12 years of failing to make PL Top2.
6 years of failing to reach CL 1/4 finals.
What LESS does he have to do? #WengerOUT #afc
— Piers Morgan (@piersmorgan) April 17, 2016
MAN UTD EYEING TOP FOUR FINISH
Man Utd condemned Aston Villa to the drop with a 1-0 win to keep their pursuit of a top four finish on track. The Red Devils are just four points behind Arsenal with five games to go and given the form of teenage sensation Marcus Rashford and Louis Van Gaal’s ability to confound critics, anything it seems is possible for this United side.
Rashford struck again to claim his seventh in 12 games for United while Villa now face life in the Championship and serious rebuilding is required if they are to have any chance of bouncing back.
“It’s a mood of disappointment” said Villa caretaker manager Eric Black afterwards. “What I will say is today I thought [the Villa players] were outstanding – energy levels, desire to stick to the plan.
“But for some misfortune, I thought we could have got a draw. I know there has been criticism – some of it deserved – but today they showed there was some pride for the shirt.”
LIVERPOOL SET NEW EPL RECORD
Liverpool followed up their thrilling Europa League win against Dortmund with an impressive 2-1 win against Bournemouth on the south coast in Sunday.
Roberto Firmino and Daniel Sturridge got the goals in the first half for the Reds as Jurgen Klopp showed the strength in depth at Anfield by making ten changes to the side.
The win was Liverpool’s 50th away victory at different Premier League grounds, something no other side has previously managed – and it add to the team’s growing confidence ahead of the big Merseyside Derby against Everton on Wednesday.
The game against the Toffees is always a highlight and much anticipated by fans of both clubs and this will also be Klopp’s first taste of a Merseyside derby following a very emotional week at Anfield that saw Thursday’s incredible scenes in the Europa League followed by Friday’s memorial service for the 96 LFC fans who died at Hillsborough.
The German spoke to LFC TV about what the derby game means to his players and how much the squad is looking forward to the clash.
Jürgen Klopp explains why the #LFC squad are looking forward to the Merseyside derby: https://t.co/w1H0TgQKpe pic.twitter.com/hi8Xds5QbO
— Liverpool FC (@LFC) April 19, 2016
SOUTHAMPTON SUFFER EURO SET BACK
Southampton shared the points against Everton in a 1-1 draw at Goodison Park and suffered a set-back in their pursuit of qualification for European football next season.
The Saints outplayed Everton but had to fight back from a goal down when Everton’s centre back Ramiro Funes Mori gave the hosts the lead.
Their pressure eventually told and Sadio Mane stepped up to sweep home the equaliser but Southampton deserved more for their efforts and manager Ronald Koeman commented afterwards: “I’m really disappointed because it was a big opportunity to win the game, right from the start. We had a lot of space to play but in the final part it wasn’t good enough.
“At least we had a good reaction to going behind. We got one point but at this final part of the season it is not enough. We want to fight for Europe and it is not a step forward.”
WATFORD HAIL HERO GOMES
Watford beat West Brom 1-0 to move above the Midlanders in the EPL thanks to the brilliance of ‘keeper Heurelho Gomes who pulled off two brilliant penalty saves to twice deny Sadio Berahino from the penalty spot.
“I did the same against Sunderland [in 2010] but that was a different feeling as we lost the game,” said Gomes. “This means a lot – it is great for me and most importantly great for the club.
“There is always more responsibility on the player taking the penalty than on me. He has the possibility to shoot anywhere and I need to be prepared to react quickly.
“I always try and wait for the penalty taker’s decision. I never think about what he will do, I just waited for him.”
West Brom manager Tony Pulis summed it up saying: “It’s a cruel game at times. I thought we played really well today – 40 crosses, two penalties – but it was just not our day.”
By: Joe Cahal