Week 31 of the English Premier League sees the champions continue their recent rich vein of form with a fifth successive Premier League win, this time over Sunderland, Man United drew their 12th game of the season against Everton and more.
After a run of five consecutive Premier League defeats, the champions, Leicester City, has won five on the spin, six in all competition, after beating hapless Sunderland at the King Power.
It’s easy to look at the statistics and say that Claudio Ranieri had lost the dressing room. But we have to remember that Leicester has been here before. The year before they shocked the world by winning the Premier League they were rooted to the foot of the division before turning it around when the enigmatic Nigel Pearson was in charge.
That’s not to understate the excellent work that Craig Shakespeare has done since taking over from the Italian, or that the Italian is a master craftsman. When it comes to Leicester City I think it’s the players who were losers, then winners, then losers, and now winners again. They don the shirt; they take the blame; they take the praise.
It wasn’t their greatest performance under Shakespeare. The Foxes had snarled for the first 30-minutes before the game went into a lull. With 30-minutes remaining, Shakespeare sent Marc Albrighton and Islam Slimani on from the bench, and the two combined to put Leicester into the lead when the Algerian headed home from an Albrighton cross to find the net fo the first time this year.
Jamie Vardy sealed the win in the 78th minute, finishing off a move started by the rampaging Slimani. It was Vardy’s fifth goal in five Premier League games after a terrible start to the campaign for the star of last season.
Well, David Moyes deserves a slap.
You have to question his managerial credentials in the top flight. After being viewed as the successor to Sir Alex Ferguson the Scot’s career has taken a spectacular nosedive. We have to remember that he never won anything at Everton and I think his lack of ability has been evident with spells to be forgotten about at United and Real Sociedad, and he will be the man who stands at the head of the ship when it sinks into the Championship in eight games time.
Man Utd Extend Unbeaten Run to 20 Games (Just)
Zlatan Ibrahimovic prevented Everton from becoming the first side to beat Manchester United in the Premier League since October when he converted a penalty deep into injury time.
It was the Swede’s first match since serving a suspension. And he scored his 27th goal of the season after Ashley Williams blocked Luke Shaw’s effort on the line with his arm. The ref sent the former Swansea player off after the incident.
Everton had taken a 22nd-minute lead after a bright close-range finish by Phil Jagielka, and it looked all the while that Ronald Koeman would become the first Premier League manager in history to win his first three games at Old Trafford until denied by the big Swede.
United stretched their unbeaten Premier League run to 20 matches, but their Champions League hopes seem to be reliant on their Europa League run after drawing nine times at home and 12 overall in the league. Detractors of Louis Van Gaal should note that by this time last season the Dutchman had two more points than Jose Mourinho has managed this term.
On a plus point for United, Paul Pogba returned from injury, and Ander Herrera was back in action after his suspension. Both players hit the woodwork.
The Best of the Rest
West Brom lost their third game in four after a 2-0 defeat against Watford at Vicarage Road. AC Milan loanee M’Biaye Niang and Watford captain Troy Deeney earned their side their second successive win without conceding a goal. Watford had to play out the final 25-minutes with only ten men after the man in black sent Miguel Britos off for a second bookable offence.
George Boyd’s second goal of the season was enough to give Burnley all three points against Stoke at Turfmoor. It was Burnley’s first win in seven and stopped their alarming slide into a relegation squabble that looked well out of reach after their early season form.
Stoke has now lost three on the trot and is winless in four, scoring only once during that time, but remain safe, hanging around in the middle of the table like a jellyfish floating around aimlessly in the sea.
Week 31 Results
Watford 2 v 0 West Brom
Burnley 1 v 0 Stoke
Leicester 2 v 0 Sunderland
Man Utd 1 v 1 Everton
To Be Played (Wed, 5 April)
Swansea v Spurs
Arsenal v West Ham
Hull v Middlesbrough
Southampton v Crystal Palace
Liverpool v Bournemouth
Chelsea v Man City
Premier League Table
- Chelsea – 69
- Spurs – 62
- Liverpool – 59
- Man City – 58
- Man Utd – 54
- Arsenal – 51
- Everton – 51
- West Brom – 44
- Watford – 37
- Leicester – 36
- Stoke – 36
- Burnley – 35
- Southampton – 34
- Bournemouth – 34
- West Ham – 33
- Crystal Palace – 31
- Swansea – 28
- Hull – 27
- Middlesbrough – 23
- Sunderland – 20