Generation Next is our regular feature on Just Football profiling the best young talents in the world. And here’s another to keep an eye on – Atalanta’s bustling midfielder Franck Kessie… Last summer, when Genoa former coach Gian Piero Gasperini made the move to Atalanta, after seven wonderful years spent in Liguria (interjected by spells […]
After the addition of a midweek round of fixtures last week that provided vexing selection problems for some managers, Premier League teams were back in action again at the weekend. Still, plenty of players fought through the fatigue to impress and make it into our latest edition of star Names of the Premier League…
Kevin Mirallas (Everton)
A thrilling game at Goodison Park saw Everton eventually overcome Leicester City in a 4-2 win. The match started frantically, with three goals in the first ten minutes – and two more before half time. While Romelu Lukaku scored twice and will again dominate the headlines it was his Belgium teammate Kevin Mirallas who excelled for the home side.
Mirallas showed his displeasure when he got substituted against Manchester United but kept his place in the team for this game. And he showed why he feels he should be playing regularly. It was Mirallas’ driving run in the opening minute which helped create the goal for Tom Davies, who again impressed in the heart of Everton’s midfield. Leicester responded quickly through goals from Islam Slimani and Marc Albrighton but a Lukaku header from an inch-perfect Ross Barkley cross levelled the scores.
Mirallas was always lively and looking to run in behind the Leicester backline but it was his set piece delivery which put Everton in front. The Belgian’s corner found Phil Jagielka and he planted a header into the corner of the net to put Everton ahead before halftime.
Both sides struggled to replicate the energy of the first half in the second but Everton got their fourth of the game on 57 minutes. Mirallas’ corner caused problems and the ball eventually fell to Lukaku to stroke home. It was Everton’s first win in three league games following the derby defeat and draw to Manchester United.
Son Heung-Min (Tottenham Hotspur)
— Asian Football Feast (@AsianFballFeast) April 11, 2017
A convincing performance saw Tottenham Hotspur put four goals past Watford at White Hart Lane and keep the pressure on Chelsea with a 4-0 victory.
Spurs were once again without their star striker Harry Kane from the start, but they didn’t miss him too much. Goals from Dele Alli, Eric Dier and Son Heung-Min gave the home side a 3-0 lead at half time. After a frustrating opening half hour, the home side finally took the lead after 33 minutes. Son laid the ball to Dele Alli who curled a superb shot past Heurelho Gomes.
Son was also involved in Dier’s goal. It was his cross that deflected into the path of Dier, and the England man’s powerful shot found the back of the net. Son himself got a deserved goal a minute before half time. His goal was an unstoppable drive into the bottom left corner from 20 yards out.
Son wasn’t finished there. He managed to grab his second just ten minutes into the second half as he arrived at the back post to score a controlled volley from Kieran Trippier’s cross. On another day Son would have had a hat-trick and the disappointment on his face when he hit the crossbar in the second half was evident.
The South Korean has made a real impact this season, especially in the absence of Harry Kane. On Saturday became the third player to hit double figures (11) in the League for Spurs joining Kane (19) and Alli (16).
Simon Mignolet (Liverpool)
Liverpool fought back from a goal behind against Stoke City to claim what could end up being an important three points. The Reds eventually ran out 2-1 winners.
A poor first half display though could have seen Liverpool drop points, and they had goalkeeper Simon Mignolet to thank for keeping them in the game at 1-0 down. Later, he kept them ahead with two great saves. As well as Mignolet played he had no chance with the Stoke goal which came a minute before half time. Jonathan Walters was left unmarked inside the six yard box and netted a simple header to give Stoke a deserved lead.
Just six minutes into the second half Stoke really should have doubled their lead. Georginio Wijnaldum got a header completely wrong on the edge of his own box and inadvertently played it back into the six yard box. Three Stoke players were waiting but Charlie Adam’s strike was superbly saved by a sprawling Mignolet. Two goals in two minutes from the Brazilian substitutes Philippe Coutinho and Roberto Firmino put Liverpool ahead, but Mignolet had to be at his best to keep Liverpool in front. A Marko Arnautovic cross left Saido Berahino with the goal at his mercy only for the Belgian to deny him.
Mignolet has been a much-criticised figure at Liverpool in recent seasons but his form since January has been impressive. Jurgen Klopp may decide that Liverpool do not need a new goalkeeper in the summer transfer window.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic (Manchester United)
— Red Army! (@RedorDead07) April 11, 2017
Manchester United stayed in the hunt for the top four as they eased to a 3-0 victory over bottom of the table Sunderland at the Stadium of Light
United were helped by a red card for Sebastian Larsson just before half time, but the away side looked in control before then, and took the lead after half an hour. The ball was played into Zlatan Ibrahimovic on the edge of the box and he used his strength to hold off the challenge from Billy Jones and fire an unstoppable strike into the bottom right corner.
— Manchester United (@ManUnited_HQ) April 9, 2017
The red card for Larsson effectively ended the game as a contest and within one minute of the second half United were two goals in front. Henrik Mkhitaryan weaved past the Sunderland defence and hit a powerful left footed shot into the far corner from the left hand side of the area. The visitors completed the victory with Ibrahimovic setting up Marcus Rashford in the final minutes.
Ibrahimovic has now scored in both games since his return from suspension. The Swede looks a class above most of his teammates. Frankly, United looked toothless up front without him during his ban. One of the most important things that Manchester United could do in the summer would be to get Ibrahimovic to sign a new deal. The reality is that at the moment they can’t afford to lose him.
Andros Townsend (Crystal Palace)
Arsenal’s problems increased as Crystal Palace picked up a deserved 3-0 victory over the Gunners at Selhurst Park.
The Gunners were the only side in the top seven to lose at the weekend. With all the others winning Arsenal now look likely to miss out on the top four this season. Crystal Palace, meanwhile, have now moved six points clear of the drop zone and have a game in hand on most teams around them. If Palace win that game they could move as high as 10th.
From the first whistle, Palace looked more determined and more composed than their opponents. Arsenal looked like a team struggling for confidence and the hosts took advantage. Despite the away side dominating the ball, it was Palace who looked dangerous. The pace of Andros Townsend and Wilfired Zaha, in particular, caused all sorts of problems. The two combined for the opening goal on 17 minutes with Zaha’s ball across the box, finished by the Townsend as he sensed the opportunity quicker than the Arsenal backline.
In the second half it was more of the same. Palace were looking to break and Arsenal searching for a way back into the game. On 63 minutes the home side doubled their lead. Yohan Cabaye – once an Arsenal target during his Newcastle United days – produced a fine looped finish from Zaha’s pull-back. The Eagles weren’t finished there either. They added a third after Townsend was brought down in the box and Milivojevic scored the resulting penalty.
In January it looked as if Townsend might be on his way out of Crystal Palace. Strong rumours linked him with a move back to Newcastle, but instead, he stayed put. Since the end of the transfer window Townsend has been a key part of the Palace side. With both him and Zaha in fine form, Palace look a threat against any team they come up against.