We are reaching the end of this season and, inevitably, teams around Europe and worldwide are preparing themselves for the summer transfer window. The focus for many will be on exciting prospects and young talents from around the globe. Here is a list of 13 talented African footballers who are going to be high on […]
As we head into the season’s final month, there’s still plenty to play for in the Premier League (unless you’re Sunderland). Which performances impressed us enough to make Names of the Premier League this week?
Victor Wanyama (Tottenham Hotspur)
In the north London derby it was Tottenham Hotspur who took the spoils, defeating rivals Arsenal 2-0 at White Hart Lane. It was the last time the derby will be played at the Lane with Spurs set to play at Wembley next season before moving into a new stadium.
Spurs changed their formation for the game due to the absence of Moussa Dembele and they looked far more comfortable than their opponents who continued with three at the back.
Victor Wanyama and Eric Dier controlled the midfield over Aaron Ramsey and Granit Xhaka, often winning the ball and starting attacks for their team. Wanyama won possession 13 times during the match, almost double more than any other player. The Kenyan also looked assured and confident on the ball when breaking forward, a job often left to Dembele when he is in the centre of the midfield.
After a goalless first half, the home side opened the scoring after 55 minutes when Christian Eriksen’s effort was blocked by Petr Cech and Dele Alli reacted quickest, sliding the ball into the back of net. Spurs doubled their lead just a couple of minutes later. Gabriel fouled Harry Kane in the box and the England striker fired the resulting penalty into the bottom left corner.
It was a result which confirmed Spurs will finish above Arsenal for the first time since 1995. Also, Tottenham fans will still have slight hopes of the title with the win keeping the gap between them and Chelsea at four points with four games remaining.
Ashley Barnes (Burnley)
— Burnley FC (@BurnleyOfficial) April 30, 2017
Burnley took a massive step towards safety after picking up their first away win of the season over Crystal Palace in a 2-0 victory. The result moves Burnley up to 14th and seven points clear of the drop zone with only nine points left to play for.
Sean Dyche decided that a direct approach was what was required for Burnley at Selhurst Park. To that end, Sam Vokes and Ashley Barnes got the nod to start up front for the away side, meaning Andre Gray had to settle for a place on the bench. Both Vokes and Barnes aren’t the quickest players but they are both a handful for defenders when the ball is in the box. Burnley looked dangerous whenever the ball came into the area.
It was Barnes who got the first goal of the game after just seven minutes. Stephen Ward’s cross from the left found Barnes’ run and although the striker failed to connect properly with his first effort, the ball remained with him allowing Barnes to strike through Wayne Hennessey’s legs. Palace improved after the goal but struggled to break down a resilient Burnley defence. It was Andre Gray who came on in the second half to clinch the victory with five minutes remaining. Gray latched onto a superb ball by George Boyd and struck low past the keeper from close range.
It has been a terrific season for Dyche and Burnley with the side looking likely to comfortably finish above the relegation places. Burnley fans would’ve been delighted with 17th if offered to them at the start of the season and will be hoping that they can kick on next season and establish themselves as a Premier League club.
Gylfi Sigurdsson (Swansea City)
Swansea City kept the gap between them and Hull City to just two points after picking up a deserved point away to Manchester United with a 1-1 draw. United meanwhile are still relying on other teams for a top four spot as they are still in 5th place, a point behind rivals Manchester City and Liverpool.
Swansea started the match confidently and a lacklustre United side had David De Gea to thank for keeping the scores level early in the first half. The Spaniard saved efforts from Fernando Llorente and Jordan Ayew. Against the run of play, though, Manchester United took the lead.
Marcus Rashford raced clear and went down following a challenge from the onrushing Lukasz Fabianski in the Swansea goal. The referee Neil Swarbrick awarded a penalty to United – although replays showed that Fabianski pulled out of the challenge and the striker threw himself to the floor hoping to win the penalty. Wayne Rooney confidently converted the penalty to give him two goals in his last two games.
Swansea still looked threatening in the second half and finally got a deserved equaliser with ten minutes left. Rooney gave away a free kick on the edge of the area and Gylfi Sigurdsson superbly struck it into the right-hand side of the net. Ander Herrera had initially ran back to be on the line only to be waved away by De Gea. If Herrera had stayed on the line he probably would’ve cleared Sigurdsson’s effort.
Sigurdsson not only scored, but the Icelandic midfielders’ set piece deliveries were once again a threat to the opposition defence. Llorente was guilty of missing good chances in both halves after finding himself free when Sigurdsson delivered the ball from free kicks.
Josh King (Bournemouth)
— AFC Bournemouth 🍒 (@afcbournemouth) April 30, 2017
A late Josh King goal helped Bournemouth to a 1-0 win over Sunderland, confirming Sunderland’s relegation to the Championship. Bournemouth meanwhile find themselves in 10th place in the league and Eddie Howe once again deserves plaudits for the job he is doing.
Sunderland knew before the game that they would be relegated if they failed to match Hull’s result. Despite this Sunderland didn’t start the game particularly well, King coming closest to breaking the deadlock after 20 minutes with an attempted right-footed strike which beat Jordan Pickford only to hit both the bar and the post.
Sunderland pushed on as the game entered the later stages but Bournemouth stood firm and clinched all three points with a quick counter-attack which ended with Ryan Fraser squaring the ball across the box to an unmarked Josh King who slotted home.
King has been one of the standout performers of the season, and although he may not get the recognition due to not playing for a top side, his performances deserve praise. King now has 15 league goals in 2016/17 – more than Christian Benteke and Jermain Defoe, players who are often seen as more reliable goal scorers.
Emre Can (Liverpool)
"It was the best goal I've ever scored!" 🔥
— Liverpool FC (@LFC) May 2, 2017
Liverpool beat a disappointing Watford side 1-0 to put themselves back in control for a top four spot. Liverpool now sit 3rd after both Manchester sides failed to pick up wins in the weekend’s fixtures.
The game looked to be heading for a bore draw during the first half with neither side at their attacking best but Emre Can struck one of the goals of the season just before half-time to give Liverpool the lead and ultimately the win. Lucas played the ball into the box and Can connected brilliantly with an overhead kick to find the top corner of the net. Can had come close to scoring earlier in the half with his long-range strike forcing Heurelho Gomes into a good save.
Watford failed to threaten much in the attacking third but they almost snatched a point right at the end when Sebastian Prodl hit the bar. Liverpool, meanwhile, showed a completely different defensive performance than the one against Crystal Palace with both Joel Matip and Dejan Lovren looking assured at the back.
Injuries have allowed Can to have a run in the team as first choice and he has stepped up with important goals during this time, with winners against both Burnley and Watford. The German international has scored five goals this season for Liverpool – despite only netting three times in the previous two seasons.