Manchester United were left clinging onto their top-five status in the Premier League after suffering a 2-1 defeat at Sunderland on Saturday, where an 82nd-minute David de Gea own goal ended the Red Devils’ three-match unbeaten streak.
West Ham United now sit just a point behind Louis van Gaal’s men after Dimitri Payet led their comeback to clinch a 2-2 draw at Norwich City, with Southampton also on the Red Devils’ heels following their 1-0 win over Swansea City.
Later on Saturday, a 5-1 win over Newcastle United saw Chelsea rise to 12th in the Premier League standings—the highest they’ve been in the table since mid-October—with Andros Townsend grabbing a late Magpies consolation.
Elsewhere, Watford and Stoke City moved up to eighth and ninth, respectively, following wins over Crystal Palace and Bournemouth. Everton weren’t as impressive, and their top-half hopes were hit after a sixth home league defeat of the campaign, falling 1-0 to West Bromwich Albion.
Read on for a roundup of Saturday’s Week 26 results, complete with updated Premier League standings.
Manchester United travelled to the Stadium of Light on Saturday full of hope that their recent upturn in form would continue against Sam Allardyce’s side, but it became apparent early on that the visiting team would struggle.
Sunderland’s January signing Wahbi Khazri, who helped the Black Cats rescue a point at Liverpool last Saturday, opened the scoring after just three minutes, and OptaJoe detailed his impact since arriving in the north-east:
Anthony Martial levelled for Van Gaal’s men seven minutes before the interval, and although United took a firm grip on possession, it was Sunderland who outshot their guests with 21 attempts to 12, per WhoScored.com.
That pressure eventually told for Sunderland, and Lamine Kone’s late header forced De Gea into an awkward save, with the ball eventually ricocheting off the Spaniard and into his own net.
With 26 games in the bag, Metro detailed this as Manchester United’s worst-ever Premier League season in terms of total points claimed:
More than a year after the team last scored five goals in a single Premier League outing (January 2015), Chelsea drilled five past Newcastle to continue their unbeaten run under interim manager Guus Hiddink.
The Blues have now gone 12 matches without a loss since the Dutchman took over in December, but WhoScored.com pointed to their clean-sheet record as a lingering concern following Townsend’s late strike:
Hiddink’s influence appears to be getting those who were struggling for form back to their best, and Diego Costa took just five minutes to open the scoring against the Magpies. Pedro also bagged a brace with his first goals for the club since October, with Willian and Bertrand Traore also on the scoresheet.
Former Vitesse Arnhem loanee Traore was particularly pleased to get his first goal for the west Londoners, per OptaJoe, having finally been given his chance to impress for his parent club:
A win at Carrow Road would have jumped Slaven Bilic’s West Ham side up to fifth in the table, but the east Londoners ended up happy with just a point after falling behind 2-0 in Norfolk.
Goals from Robbie Brady and Wes Hoolahan saw Norwich claim a shock two-goal lead following a scoreless first period, but Payet led the fightback, scoring a goal of his own before assisting Mark Noble for the game’s equaliser.
Squawka detailed the Frenchman’s huge impact at West Ham since arriving from Marseille last summer:
Another club benefiting from their recent transfer activity is Stoke, who were overjoyed to see January recruit Giannelli Imbula open the scoring at Dean Court on Saturday.
He was joined on the scoresheet by last summer’s signings, Ibrahim Afellay and Joselu. Bet365 illustrated Mark Hughes’ input shaping the Potters into a top-half Premier League side:
Bournemouth’s consolation came through Matt Ritchie, but the attacker’s sole strike proved nothing more than that as Cherries surrendered their first loss since early January.
While one south-coast outfit struggles, another is thriving, and Southampton are in the Premier League’s top six for the first time this season after Shane Long’s second-half goal led them to a 1-0 win at the Liberty Stadium.
Ronald Koeman’s men are now unbeaten in six and have failed to concede in any of those matches, with the return of first-choice goalkeeper Fraser Forster likely a major influence in that improved record.
Another narrow result emerged at Goodison Park, where West Brom striker Salomon Rondon netted the only goal of the match. It was far from a classic between the two, and Men in Blazers used a Star Wars reference to illustrate Everton’s lack of clear-cut attempts on the Baggies goal:
The Toffees fell further behind high-flying Watford as a result, and Troy Deeney made a triumphant return to the Hornets’ starting XI at Selhurst Park, bagging a brace to seal a 2-1 victory for Quique Sanchez Flores’ men.
Watford remain in eighth spot with that three-point haul in hand, but West Ham’s draw means the Premier League new boys sit just two points off the top seven, with a European finish perhaps still on their agenda.
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