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6 of the Best Moments From the Weekend’s Premier League Action as Liverpool Struggle



Despite the title race being all but finished, as it has been for a while now, the race for the top four and the battle for survival are still alive and kicking as we enter the latter stage of the season.

Arsenal look to be well out of the race whilst Chelsea are still hanging in there despite a patchy run of form, but for all the drama at the top of the table, the bottom of it looks far more entertaining. The majority of the bottom half are still in a relegation dogfight with just eight games to go; it will almost certainly go down to the wire.

With that in mind, here are six of the best moments from the weekend’s Premier League action.

Best Goal

I want to give this to Marcus Rashford, I really do. The heel chop, the emphatic finish – it was reminiscent of a young Cristiano Ronaldo. It was that good. However, very few players in world football could’ve scored the goal Jamie Vardy netted against West Brom.

The former Fleetwood man watched a floated Riyad Mahrez ball all the way onto his ‘weaker’ left foot, before striking a low volleyed drive past a hapless Ben Foster to level the scoring at the Hawthorns.

Vardy then proceeded to run towards the Baggies’ fans to goad them, and he was more than entitled to after notching his 14th league goal of the season in world class fashion.

Best Assist

It is phenomenal how much of a difference Wilfried Zaha makes to Crystal Palace FC. In the first half at Stamford Bridge, the Eagles were battered and barely got into the Blues’ box.

However, after the Ivorian’s half time introduction, Palace hit the post, had a goal controversially disallowed as well as scoring one late on, thanks to Zaha’s excellently weighted ball to Patrick van Aanholt.

Zaha’s assist was insightful seeing as van Aanholt was coming up on the winger’s blind side, and his contributions will be vital if Palace are to stay up this season.

Best Show of ‘Cojones’

Petr Cech finally saved his first penalty for Arsenal after 16 failed attempts since swapping Stamford Bridge for the Emirates, foiling Troy Deeney’s attempt from the spot to secure his clean sheet.

In doing so, Cech secured his 200th Premier League clean sheet, but more importantly for the more petulant Arsenal fans (which, to be honest, is most of them) got one over on Deeney.

The Hornets’ captain slammed the Gunners earlier in the season for showing a lack of ‘cojones’ at Vicarage Road, but Arsenal and Cech seem to have got the last laugh.

Best Club Meltdown

What on earth is going on at West Ham? The Hammers’ fans’ frustrations have been bubbling for a while now as they protest again the board and their decisions, but those frustrations well and truly boiled over on Saturday.

Numerous supporters invaded the London Stadium pitch in protest whilst West Ham were battered 3-0 by Burnley, with one fan feeling the full force of Mark Noble as the Irons’ captain took matters into his own hands.

Another proceeded to steal the corner flag and run on whilst stewards literally slept, and David Gold and David Sullivan had to be escorted away from the ground as their directors’ box had coins raining down on it.

Sad to see, really.

Best Playmaking Record

Call him overrated, call him a bottler, call him invisible if you will. One thing that cannot be argued with are facts, and after he recorded an assist for Shkodran Mustafi’s goal on Sunday, Mesut Ozil became the fastest player to 50 Premier League assists.

The German maestro has reached the feat in 141 matches, beating Eric Cantona’s existing record by just two games. Impressive stuff.

Although he does still go missing in big games, don’t get me wrong…

Best Taken Opportunity 

Marcus Rashford has struggled for consistent game time this season under Jose Mourinho, but against Liverpool on Saturday he truly grabbed his chance by the scruff of the neck.

The Red Devils’ academy graduate has only started 14 league games this season, and whilst Alexis Sanchez, Anthony Martial and Jesse Lingard continue to shine, his form has stuttered and his World Cup hopes have faded slightly.

However, the 20-year-old gave his teammates a 2-0 lead before half time with two well taken strikes past Loris Karius, goals which proved vital as United ran out 2-1 winners.

His chances may be limited, but Rashford is showing maturity beyond his years to respond emphatically when called upon.

Source: 90min

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Serena Williams knocked out in first round by Naomi Osaka



Serena Williams was knocked out of the Miami Open in the first round by Naomi Osaka as the 23-time Grand Slam winner continues her return after pregnancy.

Williams, unseeded after taking 13 months off to have her first child, was beaten 6-3 6-2 by the Japanese, 20.

The American lost serve twice in each set and was unable to break back.

Her defeat comes after the Miami Open director said seeding rules for players coming back after maternity leave were a “punishment” and “should be changed”.

Osaka is herself also unseeded but last week claimed her maiden title at Indian Wells to move up to 22 in the world.

Her powerful serve and relentless returning proved too much for Williams, who was broken at 3-3 and 5-3 in the first set and again at 3-1 in the second.

Osaka clinched victory when Williams sprayed a wide open forehand long, and will now face world number four Elina Svitolina of Ukraine in the second round.

“I was extremely nervous coming on to the court. I don’t know if anybody knows this but Serena is my favourite player,” Osaka said.

“So just playing against her is kind of like a dream for me. I’m very grateful I was able to play her and it is even better that I was able to win.”

Williams, 36, made her return to the WTA Tour at Indian Wells earlier this month, losing to sister Venus in the third round.

She has no official ranking, which means she cannot be seeded for WTA events.

However, she can gain entry to eight tournaments in 12 months – including two Grand Slams – with her protected world number one ranking.

Naomi Osaka tweet

Azarenka & Muguruza go through

Two-time grand slam winner Victoria Azarenka marked her fourth event since giving birth with a 6-3 6-0 win over American Cici Bellis.

The Belarusian pulled out of the US Open and the Fed Cup final earlier last year because of a custody dispute over her young son.

Azarenka, who made her first appearance of the year at Indian Wells last week, took just over an hour to brush past the 18-year-old.

Meanwhile, Bethanie Mattek-Sands lost in her first WTA Tour match since dislocating her right kneecap and rupturing a tendon at Wimbledon last year.

The 32-year-old doubles specialist had been awarded a wild card but slipped to a 6-2 7-5 defeat at the hands of France’s Alize Cornet.

And third seed Garbine Muguruza of Spain progressed after her opponent, 16-year-old American Amanda Anisimova, withdrew due to injury.

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Zlatan Ibrahimovic: Manchester United striker to leave Old Trafford club



Striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic is set to leave Manchester United imminently.

Although there has been no announcement from United, it is understood manager Jose Mourinho has agreed to release Ibrahimovic from his present deal which expires on 30 June.

It is not known where Ibrahimovic is going but there has been intense speculation recently that he will join Major League Soccer outfit LA Galaxy.

Ibrahimovic, 36, joined United from Paris St-German in 2016.

The former Sweden forward scored 29 goals in 53 appearances for the Old Trafford side but does not appear to have fully recovered from the cruciate ligament injury he sustained against Anderlecht last April.

It has recently been suggested that he could come out of international retirement for this summer’s World Cup.

Earlier this month Mourinho had said that Ibrahimovic would be likely to leave at the end of the season.

However, it now appears as though he has already played his last game for the club.

The 36-year-old striker, who re-signed with United on a one-year deal in August, returned to action in November after a serious knee injury.

But he has only made seven appearances since and has not featured since the Premier League draw against Burnley on 26 December.

“We all think it is his last season at Manchester United,” Mourinho said on 2 March.

“I think he won the right to choose his life, his future, such an amazing player and an amazing career.

“Only that awful injury in the wrong moment broke a fantastic couple of seasons he could and should have with us.”

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England 58 all out: Trevor Bayliss says players like ‘deer in headlights’



England players were like “deer in the headlights” as they were bowled out for 58 by New Zealand in the opening Test, says head coach Trevor Bayliss.

In their first Test match since losing the Ashes 4-0 in Australia, England slipped to 27-9 before being dismissed in 20.4 overs at Eden Park, Auckland.

The sensational collapse was England’s sixth lowest total in Test history.

“We were nowhere near good enough. New Zealand bowled well but we batted equally badly,” said Bayliss.

“It was like deer in the headlights. Someone sneezes and everyone caught a cold today.”

At one point England had looked on course for their lowest-ever Test total and to break a record that had stood for over 131 years.

Somerset bowler Craig Overton saved England from that ignominy with an unbeaten 33 as only he and opener Mark Stoneman (11) made double figures.

Left-arm seamer Trent Boult took 6-32 and new-ball partner Tim Southee 4-25 as five batsmen made ducks, equalling an England record.

It swung around a bit but nothing different to any other first day of a Test match.

“The ball was pitched up and swinging and we were caught behind the crease for a lot of dismissals. Trying to get forward and negate the swing would have been the way to go.”

England’s lowest Test totals
45 v Australia, Sydney, 1887
46 v West Indies, Port of Spain, 1994
51 v West Indies, Kingston, 2009
52 v Australia, The Oval, 1948
53 v Australia, Lord’s, 1888
58 v New Zealand, Auckland, 2018
Lowest totals in Test cricket

How the collapse unfolded

  • 6-1: Cook c Latham b Boult 5 – no foot movement and edges outswinger to second slip
  • 6-2: Root b Boult 0 – captain has his off stump knocked back as he attempts to drive one that swings back between bat and pad
  • 16-3: Malan c Watling b Boult 2 – drawn forward and Watling takes fine diving catch in front of first slip
  • 18-4: Stoneman c Watling b Southee 11 – another batsman not moving his feet, another edge to Watling
  • 18-5: Stokes b Boult 0 – playing his first Test since September 2017, Stokes is cleaned up by a fine delivery that clips the top of off stump
  • 18-6: Bairstow c&b Southee 0 – driving on the up and smartly taken in Southee’s follow-through
  • 23-7: Woakes b Boult 5 – forward defensive, played on the walk, and is beaten all ends up by another inswinger
  • 23-8: Moeen b Southee 0 – a third batsman of the innings is bowled, Moeen inexplicably missing a low full toss
  • 27-9: Broad c Williamson b Southee 0 – captain takes sensational one-handed catch, diving high to his left at gully, as Broad departs with wry smile
  • 58 all out: Anderson c Nicholls b Boult 1 – fends short ball to gully

‘Players will feel utterly embarrassed’

Analysis by former England spinner Graeme Swann on BBC Test Match Special

The players will feel utterly embarrassed by their performance today. Sometimes it just goes horribly wrong and there’s nothing you can do about it.

It was a horrific day from start to finish. New Zealand bowled well but England’s technique has been found wanting.

They didn’t get out of their crease and they didn’t cover their stumps.

In all of my time playing and watching cricket I’ve never quite witnessed anything like this morning. The first few overs passed without any incident and then it was just a snowball of England wickets.

How’s stat?!

  • This was England’s lowest Test total versus New Zealand, eclipsing the 64 they made at the Basin Reserve in Wellington in 1977/78.
  • England faced just 124 balls in their innings – the 16th shortest innings in the history of Test cricket.
  • The total was England’s sixth lowest in Test cricket and the joint 32nd lowest of all Test-playing nations.
  • Craig Overton’s 33 not out meant he scored 56.9% of England’s total.

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