Norwich City's survival hopes are now in serious danger after both Newcastle and Sunderland picked up points today while the Canaries lost to Arsenal, 1-0.
While Newcastle and Sunderland are playing their best football of the season using a very settled XI, Alex Neil continues to make several changes from match to match and none of the combinations are working. The Canaries had an opportunity to get a result in a tough fixture as Arsenal were not playing their best and the points look to be up for grabs after a goalless first half. Nathan Redmond carried their biggest threat throughout the day, but his finishing touch was not accurate. In general, it has been the lack of quality in the final third all season, whether it be service or finishing, that has been lacking for Norwich and may well doom them back to the Championship after a one year visit to the top flight.
Arsenal were by no means impressive today, but Arsene Wenger pushed the right button by calling on Danny Welbeck in the second half and the forward scored the lone goal of a day as the Gunners squeak past Norwich City, 1-0.
There has been a strain on the relationship between Wenger and Arsenal supporters because of comments the manager made in the press this week and the Emirates contained a significant number of protesters. While the Gunners did not dispatch of Norwich in convincing fashion, credit is due to the manager for making the right move at the right time. After a first half in which Arsenal failed to register a shot on target, Wenger brought Welbeck on shortly before the hour mark and three minutes later, the substitute scored after Olivier Giroud headed a ball into his path. The defense picked up the slack of an otherwise lackluster attacking display and the win moves Arsenal ahead of Manchester City for now, with the latter playing tomorrow.
Bournemouth showed promise but could not find a way past Everton on Saturday afternoon in a 2-1 loss at Goodison Park.
The Cherries, who have lost three straight and five of the last six, could only manage a ninth-minute goal courtesy of Marc Pugh after the winger took a pass from Junior Stanislas and slotted it past Tim Howard just two minutes after Tom Cleverley opened the scoring. The Cherries managed to outshoot Everton with 12 shots on the day but couldn't manage to break through against an Everton defense that was missing two center-backs and the starting right back. Callum Wilson received his first start since a serious knee injury at the beginning of the season while Max Gradel missed out with injury.
Everton ended its horrendous seven-match winless streak in league play with a 2-1 win against Bournemouth on Saturday afternoon.
Roberto Martinez has been under extreme scrutiny during the winless run, which dates back to a 3-1 win against Aston Villa on March 1, but the win is unlikely to do much to change his future at the club. It was Tom Cleverley who starred for the Toffees, scoring the first goal in just the seventh minute after taking a pass from Ross Barkley at the edge of the penalty box. But Everton conceded an equalizer just two minutes later to Bournemouth's Marc Pugh, who beat Tim Howard in his penultimate game at Goodison Park. But Cleverley responded just after the hour mark by setting up Leighton Baines for what ended up being the match-winner to secure the three points and move into 11th.
Marko Arnautovic led the way once again for Stoke City, but it was not enough for the Potters to move past Sunderland.
The Austrian international was a major doubt coming into Saturday's match due to a knock picked up during the week, but started opposite Xherdan Shaqiri, who also returned from injury this week. Arnautovic capitalized on his chance in the 50th minute after a scoreless first half thanks in part to Peter Crouch. The forward towered over Younes Kaboul, while also possibly fouling him with a push in the back, to head the ball down for Arnautovic, who hit the pass by a diving Vito Mannone. But just six minutes later, the winger had to be taken off with an upper-leg injury, being replaced by Jon Walters following his one-month absence due to knee surgery.
Crystal Palace continued to limp their way to the finish line with a 1-0 loss to Newcastle United.
The Eagles, who had designs on a Europa League spot during the first half of the season, have won just once since a week before Christmas in league play. They looked the better bet to score in the first half today, with Yannick Bolasie causing problems for the Magpies, but could not take advantage of their possession. Yohan Cabaye had a shot from short range but it was from a narrow angle and was saved by Karl Darlow. The two would lock horns again in the second half when it looked as though Palace were set to equalize with a penalty. They had converted every penalty they were given this season, but Cabaye's effort was poor and Darlow made the stop. At this point, the Eagles should feel fortunate the season is not a couple of games longer, or they would be staring at one of the most disastrous collapses in league history. Certainly, changes are in order this summer.
Sunderland waiting until the last possible moment to earn a critical point in the relegation race with a stoppage-time equalizer.
Jermain Defoe proved to be the Black Cats' hero once again after baiting Geoff Cameron into a tackle at the edge of the 18-yard box that was signaled for a penalty. The Premier League veteran stepped to the spot and delivered with a blast into the bottom right corner of the net away from a diving Jakob Haugaard in the fourth and final minute of stoppage time. The goal sealed the 1-1 draw and a point that pulls them one point past Norwich City, who has two games in hand, and into 18th place, just a point behind Newcastle.
Troy Deeney scored two goals in added time to give Watford a 3-2 win over Aston Villa.
The striker saved Watford from embarrassment as they almost lost to a horrible Aston Villa side. THey played the last 20 minutes a man up after Aly Cissokho was sent off for a silly challenge. Watford have finished the season on a horrible note overall, and this win gives them hope as they will be looking forward to next season.